Whoa, Hallelujah, Whoa-ho, I am free.

I found these Benham Brothers “Whatever the Cost” sermon notes from GoTell Camp from 2017 in my prayer journal.

I was saved at 7 years old in the 2nd grade. I was singing in the balcony of the church. I had this feeling in every single ounce of me that I wanted to live my life for You, God. I knew what You had done for me. I had no idea at the time how much more You were actually doing and going to do in my life. Especially in the world outside my little 7 year old imagination. I ran back to my mama and with all the excitement I could muster and told her I wanted to be baptized. Nothing can change the fact that I was saved that day. My name was written in the book.

Satan cannot get me unsaved, but boy howdy can he get me thinking unsaved. That little nugget of wisdom was shared that week and let me tell you, Lord: You tapped right on my heart asking: “Are you listening my child?”

Another big ole heap of wisdom dropped in my lap was when we’re saved, we enter the fight between good and evil.

Lord, I prayed that I was tired of fighting victory. I prayed to fight from a place of victory. You already won the war. I prayed to fight with the presence of Your Truth. I prayed to delve into Your word more and more and more. “Through Your word, our faith turns to faithfulness.” I prayed I was tired of being a candle. Somebody comes along with a few negative words, my light goes out. When the winds of change come rolling in, my light blows out. I prayed to be a piece of coal in the fire pit. I prayed to know Your word so well that the Devil only fans the flames. I prayed for the light to be a burning ember in my soul. I prayed to burn from the inside out for You, Father. I prayed to win privately so I could win publicly for You and You alone. The same way we’re saved by inviting You into our hearts, privately, then we get baptized, publicly, to show we’ve been changed and set apart. I prayed to live like I’m saved.

Lost people are doing exactly what lost people do, acting lost. “It’s not the presence of darkness that is the issue, but an absence of light.” The Benham Brothers explained that we are chocolate chips in cookie dough. We mix in but do not change form. Even when baked, the chocolate chips are still distinct.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, Father Almighty, draw me in close to you. Sink your word deep into my soul. Let your truth flow out of every pore of me. Lord, there are going to be days I feel like all I am doing is putting out fires. There are going to be days when I feel burnt-out. Those are guarantees. But my God, Isaiah 43:2 says When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. And if I skip back a verse it says: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine! Thank you, Lord for all of it. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It’s nothing He ain’t seen before.

I’ve started reading all these books on kids and teenagers since that is who 99% of my day is spent with and/or praying for lately. One of the books I’m reading said: “The greatest gift we can give our children is a sense of belonging, a place in the family and from there a place in the world.” Ohhhhh sweet Lord, Jesus. We spend our whole lives looking to belong. In friendships, in our families, in our classrooms, in our workplaces, in our churches, literally in every function of our daily lives. We’re all searching for what You already gave us. A seat at the table.

The house we grew up in as kids is temporary. My college dorm was short-lived. Living in the sorority house ends too. That first apartment where I finally got to start feeling like an adult and buy some actual furniture of my own is gone in the blink of an eye. My house right now is temporary. And the hotel I moved into last night for the next few months is most certainly temporary. Eventually I’ll get married, move to another place and that will be temporary too. I’ll start a family, look for a bigger place, again that’s temporary. If all goes well, I’ll retire and go back to a smaller place, still temporary. Life is full of these temporary homes. In reading these parenting books, I keep learning what I can do to help these kids but I also get this overwhelming understanding of Your love as our Abba Father that I didn’t have before. Thank You, my good Lord Almighty, Heaven is not temporary. It is eternal. My name is written in the book. I’ve got a permanent seat at the table. And those things are not temporary. They cannot be taken. They do not fade away. They do not change. Father, You gave me a deeper sense of belonging than I’ll ever even know and I don’t lean on that enough. Lord, You take my brokenness and make it whole.

I read it in my devotion book and I’ve been praying it for like two weeks now since I started my new position at work. “Just use what you have, do the best you can, and trust Him to fill in the gaps.” That’s been my motto working with these kids. I’m trying to use what I have, grow as much as possible, and do the best I can. I already read Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children. I’m reading every book I can get my hands on from devotion books: Girls with Swords to parenting books: Be The Best Mom You Can Be to Shepherding a Child’s Heart to working with kids: Boundaries with Teens to Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry. I got actual textbooks like Teaching Social Skills to Youth. I’m trying to find scriptures to back up everything I’m learning and teaching. Lord, You fill the gaps that I didn’t even know were empty. Lord, in loving these kids, You are showing me how much deeper Your love goes. My love fails every single day. No matter much I study and try to prepare, my humanity, my sin, is gonna still be there. But You, Lord, Your love never fails.

I’ve been putting a “verse of the day” on the dry erase board before each shift starts. This weekend one of the verses I put was Matthew 11:28-30 which says: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Chris Tomlin also has a song about coming to the table and he sings this verse in it.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for these kids. I pray for these youth. Lord, I’m lifting them up to you. I pray that you teach me, guide me, help me. Lord, I need you. I’m coming to you. I’m bringing it all to you. I’m laying myself down at the cross. Lord, prepare my heart for battle. Prepare me to do your work. Lord, prepare my heart for Kingdom work. Abba Father, thank you for inviting me to the table. Thank you for accepting me as I am, but loving me enough to not leave me the way I came. Lord, I pray that you keep revealing your love and your heart to me. I wanna know you more. God, I pray, I wanna go deeper. I wanna strengthen my relationship with you. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. Thank you for preparing a feast for me. Thank you for not turning me away. Thank you for restoring me. Thank you for filling my gaps. Thank you for filling my empty places. Thank you for temporary homes and for the eternal place at the table waiting on me. Thank you for sending the Savior to save us all. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight.

Yesterday, I went through a whirlwind of emotions. I was all kinds of emotional. This morning, I woke up, looked outside and decided to do things differently today. I always carry books with me, I went into my bag and grabbed the devotion book. I needed to spend some time with You. I was in desperate need of You this morning. I found the book laying around the house, it was one my mom read with some people from church a while back, Stuck study. Eight sessions on “the places we get stuck and the God who sets us free.”

Lord, You knew exactly what You were doing when I found that book. You knew exactly when I needed to open that first page. You knew exactly when I would need You the most. And I definitely needed You today. My friend and I were joking and she messaged me and said: “This is all I need! No man!” and sent a picture of her pizza. I responded with a moment of honesty: “Jesus. That’s what I need.” Then things got serious. She replied with this: “I need…..1. A man 2. Hope 3. To know I matter 4. Everything else you could think of 5. Oh and I’ve ran away from God so I prob need him”

Lord, I could’ve cried right there. I’ve been there. I’ve been in her shoes. I’ve lost my worth. I’ve run as far away from You as I possibly could. The funny thing about running from You though is You’re still there and our problems are too. Running doesn’t make our problems go away and it certainly doesn’t make us feel better. In the Stuck study, I read: “Nothing is more powerful than God getting bigger in our lives. He has the power to heal with a word.” On Pinterest there is a picture that says: “God is making things happen for you. Even when you don’t see it, even when you can’t feel it, even if it’s not evident. God is working on your prayers.”

Ok. So. Here goes. Ernest Hemingway said: “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” I’m letting the light. Lord, I’m letting You all the way in. As for number 1, Charles Stanley said: “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we are waiting for.” I have been praying for my future husband since my mama taught me how to pray. I saw this Instagram post that said: “I pray for him even though he doesn’t know about it because I wanna make sure God got him like I got him.” There was another one on Instagram saying: “Dear Future Husband, Find God. Find yourself. Then come find me.” Lord, maybe that’s what we both needed a reminder of today. Lord, I value love. I value him and I haven’t even been on a date yet. I value our relationship and it hasn’t even started yet. And most importantly, I value the relationship he has with You. That’s why I pray for him. I found You before I can even remember. I dedicated my life to You in the second grade and I have remade that commitment several times in my life. I started finding myself when I was a freshman in high school and I don’t know if either search ever really ends. I hope I’m always trying to find You in everything around me and I hope I never stop growing.

Number 2, 3, and 4, I believe those are found in faith. Proverbs 31 Ministries posted Whitney Capps saying: “Father, when my circumstances scream louder than my faith, help me cling to Your truth.” Lord, I tend to listen to the world when things are not going my way. But the truth is that faith is trust. Trust is something I struggle with daily. Trust means relying on You. Trust means giving up control. Trust means I am dependent on You. Trust means changing the way I think, feel, grow, live. Trust means giving my life to You completely. Trust means letting go. Letting go of the pain, resentment, hurt, sin, jealously, anger, brokenness. Trust means laying it all down and picking up the cross. You already did the hard part. You picked up everything I laid down. You died for me. All I have to do is lay down, what You already picked up. The first step is admitting I need You. The study said: “The space in which we are stuck, lacking, sinful, broken, and in need, is the space in us that longs for God, longs for forgiveness. When we soberly view ourselves and our sin, we see our need and call out for God.”

Number 5 hit me right in the heart because I run daily. I spent years running and I still try to run. In the study it says: “Before time began He knew people would rebel and run from Him, and He made a way to get them back in Christ.” My sweet friend is running from You. I ran from You. And still You hold Your hand out for us. Still You love us. We are the prodigal children. No matter how far we run, You arms are still open. Steven Furtick tweeted: “Fulfillment doesn’t start with getting what we want. It starts with wanting what God wants.” Romans 8: 14-15 says For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Stuck study said: “God will win this fight, but we have to start fighting it His way, on His terms.” 

At the end of the first chapter it asks: “Who are You, Lord? and What do You want from me?” Lord, I have spent so long asking the second question that I forget the first part. I grew up in the church, learning about You and Your stories, but I need to get to know You as an adult. I need You in my life. I need Your word in my life. Thomas Jefferson said: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I pray that I hang on. I need you. I need your word. I need to run towards you and not away. I pray that I keep longing for you. I pray that I keep seeking you. I pray that I keep evaluating my life. I pray that I start making some changes in my life. I pray that I lay everything down. I pray that I pick up the cross. Lord, you already picked it up. I pray that I quit picking back up what I already laid down. I pray that I stop fighting you and let you fight for me. I pray that I stop rebelling. I pray that I want what you want. I pray that your love washes over me and changes me. I pray that I remember I am your child. I pray that I remember I don’t have to live like this. I pray that I don’t live in fear again. I pray that I cling to your truth. I pray that my faith screams louder than my circumstances. I pray that you become bigger in my life and my friend’s life. Lord, I pray you speak to her. I pray you keep knocking on the door to her heart. I pray that she sees her worth in you. I pray that she finds healing in your name. I pray for my future husband. I pray he finds you, finds himself and then finds me. I pray that he knows he is valued. I pray that you got him. I pray that you got my friend. And I pray that you got me too. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.