The Hiding Place (#recall12 series, October)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word each #recall12 October Image 1month! This month’s verse is: 

“The Eternal watches everything.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Squeak …SQUeak …SQUEAK!

Her lack of patience gives away her hiding spot every time. She just can’t stand the suspense of waiting to be found. My little girl prefers the ‘seek’ in hide-and-go-seek.

This month’s verse wraps us in protection. We don’t have to live in the suspense of our secrets being revealed, because God’s already aware of whatever we may attempt to hide. On the flip side, He sees us when we are in hiding, too. Whether to comfort us through darkness, or to meet us in the dark to defend us …He is watching.

The Eternal watches everything that happens on earth so that He may strongly support those who follow Him. 2Chronicles 16:9 (VOICE)

“The Eternal,” as translated by The Voice, further expands upon how inclusive His care is over us. From the time He created us to the time we hug Him in heaven …eternally, God is for us. The book of 2 Chronicles records the stories of the kings that attempted to return Judah from their fall from God. Some of the stories of Kings’ David and Solomon are recorded in 1&2 Chronicles. By the time we get to today’s verse, it’s Solomon’s great-grandson, Asa, that is sitting the throne.

#recall 12 October tweet 1“He led a wildfire revival, with the whole nation uniting behind him in a huge celebration in Jerusalem. Yet Asa became cocky in his later years …He did much good but fell short of the kind of courage that endures a national crisis.” (NIV Student Bible Notes)

The NIV translation of this verse uses the word ‘heart.’ …to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. Though Asa had a wonderful heart for God, he still ended up struggling through some thick sin towards the end of his life.

The other half of today’s verse is starkly different:

By hiring mercenaries, you have acted foolishly and proven that you are not following Him. From now on, peace will elude you and you will surely fight wars. 2Chronicles 16:9b

Before this harsh warning of the consequence of Asa’s sin, Hanani (the seer delivering the above message) reminds Asa of all the previous victories God gave Him at the hand of his obedience to Him. Asa was a great king and leader for most of his life, but his human imperfection leads him to fall out of God’s grace in end.

‘You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” 2Chronicles 16:9b

Our humanity will fail us.

No matter how much we intend to do well, and how diligently we seek after God …we are destined to imperfection. And our God is too holy to be in the presence of sin.

In His compassion, God scratched the record needle as it lay stuck on the song of man’s failure …and put a new song in our hearts. Grace. Jesus. Forgiveness.

#recall12 October image 2

When Jesus came to earth, He took on humanity. He knows what it’s like to be hungry, hurt, and sad to the point of bloody tears. As we read of His life, we see 2Chronicles 16:9 in the way Jesus calls on His Father in times of distress. We witness it as God turns His back on Jesus to save us all as He died on that cross. See, 2Chronicles 16:9 is a story of glory for us. We can get back up. Our lives aren’t ever wasted on account of what we have done or will do. It is never too late. We are never too broken. God will always forgive us.

salvation- the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc-dictionary.com

The way we act on this earth will never trump Christ’s act to save us. Our misbehavior doesn’t #recall12 October tweet 2ever trump what happened on that cross. Our King. The King of Kings. The one who is and was and ever shall be. He will not fail us as human leaders do and as we fail ourselves. Instead, He blankets the fall of our humanity with the forgiveness of grace …promising us that He will watch over us …assuring us that He sees all.

 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

There’s no reason to hide or feel hidden.

We’ve got this …because He’s got us.

Happy Un-hiding,

Megs

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The Teenage Word of the 90's. (#recall 12 series, August)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word each month! This month’s verse is: 

“Fill your minds with beauty and truth.” Philippians 4:8a

recall12 August image 1

“Whatever, Dad …”

My teenage voice echoes in my head every time I hear the word, ‘whatever.’ I said it so many times in those seven years of my teenage life that my Dad eventually started to call me, “Whatever.” It became a family joke. The first time one of my children say it to me will be gut-breakingly funny! Paybacks always come that way …or so I’m told. Whatever.#recall12 August Tweet 1

This month’s verse is followed by a string of ‘whatever’s.’ Let’s take a look at the second half of Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b (NIV)

Determining “whatever” is a common challenge, but the author of this verse enlightens the principles we should be steering our thoughts towards. Paul knew that whatever  “people allow to occupy their minds will sooner or later determine their speech and action. ” NIV Notes. 

“Whatever is true…” In the original Greek text, ‘true’ is the Greek word, ‘alethes.‘ It means “loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful.” More than simply honest inclinations, we are called to be an outstretched arm of Truth, Himself.

“Whatever is noble…” Other translations use, ‘honorable.’ God’s character holds the true definition of what is honorable. God is good, all of the time. His timing is perfect, and He is fair and just.  He is Love …and Honorable.

“Whatever is right…” Strong’s Concordance defines “dikaios“(the Greek word for ‘right’) as “a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that is wholly conformed to the will of God.” Jesus was the only one worthy to walk out that definition. When we want to think about things that are right, we can look to the way that He lived His earthly life.

#recall12 August image 2

“Whatever is pure…” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary says that innocence is“not be limited to sexual purity,” but that we should “keep away from any involvement in the sins of others.” Purity is self-restraint and resisting peer pressure.

“Whatever is lovely…” “Just give me more of Jesus,” an author said when asked what new writers should base their content off of. What is more lovely than Grace? Grace that died on a cross for us before we knew Him. When we know Jesus, we begin to see reflections of His loveliness in each person we meet.

“Whatever is good…” God is good, all the time. To meditate on goodness is to think of Him.

“Whatever is excellent or praiseworthy…” The best way to think about excellent and praiseworthy things is to praise Him. Worship in song or in still admiration of the sun rising puts God’s glory on display.  The primary task of humankind is to give this praise to God (Phil 4:8) and not oneself- Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

“Fill your minds with beauty and truth.” Philippians 4:8a

#recall12 August Tweet 2“Whatever” is filling statement. It leaves no room for dispute and shuts the conversation down. It can be an open invitation to listen, or a closed door for consideration. Our minds fill up with God’s Words when we are listening to ‘whatever’ He says. Others benefit from Jesus’ love when our arms are outstretched with ‘whatever’ He wills for our lives.

“Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” Philippians 4:8b (VOICE)

When we meditate in conversation with God, He fills our thoughts with ‘whatever.’

The Voice translation uses the word ‘meditate,’ which lends more depth to the sentiments we consider thinking about. To meditate is “to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.”(Merriam-Webster) It specifies that these aren’t just random thoughts blurring through our brains, but notions we grab a hold of and let marinate in our minds. It’s there, in that pocket of relaxed concentration, that we witness the “beauty and truth” that God instructs us to “fill our minds with” in this month’s verse.

“Think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b(NIV)

Father, Praise You for teaching us so much through one word. Thank You for so clearly defining what we are to think about, speak of, and listen for. Forgive us for the times we don’t hear Your voice because we aren’t listening. Bless our thought-life to reflect Your love. May the Spirit that Jesus died to grant us access to be ever-present in our conversations with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Megs

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#recall12 August Verse Memory Cards PDF2#recall 12 August memory verse cards

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The Nylon Strings (#recall12, July)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word together each month! This month’s verse is:

“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Exodus 15:2

#recall12 July image 1

“TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG….”

I’m enjoying this. I love to listen to her play. Don’t criticize her for playing. Think about something else….

In the beginning stages of my daughter’s love for her ukulele, there was a lot of inward coaching I had to do in order to let her discover her own sound. It was music to my ears to hear her musical genius uncle tell her that her instrument had nylon strings …and she was  going to knock them out of tune by banging on them so hard.

“But I just like to jam,” she argued.

“Well, you need metal strings if you want to jam like that …” he explained.

“TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG….”She still wasn’t convinced.

“You heard what your uncle said,” I reminded, “if you snap a string on that uke because you’re stubborn, I’m not replacing it.”

Eye-roll …but compliance.

Oh, the sweet sound.

This month’s verse highlights the stubbornness of humanity …and God’s people. Fresh off a victory over Pharoh’s army and witness to them being swallowed by the Red Sea, there is abundant praise for God and His provision and protection.

“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. -Exodus 15:1

It’s on the heals of this that this months verse is bellowed for all to hold dear forevermore:

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.#recall12 July tweet 1
He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” -Exodus 15:2


How easy it is to give praise on top of the mountain of victory…
When the trumpets are blaring and the confetti is flying and the finish line tape rips across our chests and the publisher loves our idea and our children are successful ….

But it’s quite another thing to elevate our hearts to this level of praise before we witness the victory we seek. It’s not always going to look so big.

Sometimes, victory as we see it doesn’t come. God seems quiet. The nylon strings seem to be holding up just fine. So we jam on. Hard.

Until we snap.

That can look different for everyone. Temptation of all manner is waiting for opportunities like these. When we’re sitting in the pocket of victory,  we’re most likely to snap.

“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Exodus 15:2 #recall12 July Tweet 2

This month’s verse isn’t situational. Whether you are jamming on your nylon strings, staring at a snapped one, or have moved on to more durable metal strings …jam on. Because unlike an instrument, God’s song is not interrupted when we break. He doesn’t miss a beat. Whether we know it, see it, or hear Him  …He always hears …always cares …and always loves.

Our omnipotent God is unstoppable.

We are not Him, but we are made in His image.

“Music played a major role in the lives of people in biblical times. It was used in both sacred and secular activities and was most often associated with joy and celebration.”  Dictionary of Bible Themes

In Exodus 15:1-21, music celebrates victory.

victory-a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war. -dictionary.com#recall12 July image 2

Victories are not exclusive to armies and athletics. They are the stuff of our Savior. Everyday miracles and tally-mark wins. Tempers calmed and callings chased. Jesus knows what it’s like to be human, and He knows that we are not capable of handling ourselves as He …the very Son of God and Spotless Lamb …did.

We’re incapable of carrying a tune without Armor. Hand Him what you can’t handle.

He is our strength.

We were never meant to be as strong as we try to be. We were created to lean in …to Him.

In the small victories and challenging moments of this month, let’s remember this verse …and sing a song … to our Strength.

#recall12 July image 3

Father, Praise You …for You alone are our Strength and our Shield. In times of trouble and in times of naivety, thank You for protecting and upholding us with Your just hand. We confess to snapping strings in the process of seeking our own method of progress. Forgive us, and send Your Spirit to bless us and fortify our hearts with Your Word and will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Singing!

Megs

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#recall12 July memory cards

#recall12 July Verse Memory Cards PDF

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The Witness (#jammed daily devo, day 154)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 154: The Great Grace Witness.

“But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15image 3

A snap-chat hit my phone. NCAA records were being smashed, and pre-race nerves and anticipation were in the air. Technology allowed me to witness a little bit of greatness through my friends’ lens. And because of my passion for distance running, I could feel the blood rush all the way to my toes as I watched a runner take a curve of the track.

Greatness. Witness. Passion.

Joshua pleads in today’s verse that God’s people fear the Lord, and choose to trust, serve, and worship him. (NIV Notes) In his life-time, he witnessed the movement away from the dreaded accounts of the past where God’s people had gone astray and worshipped other gods. Towards the end of his life, he warned them that times like these would come again.

Some people might have been discouraged by this pessimistic view of the future, and others arrogantly sure that they would not falter has their ancestors once had. But no matter where they stood, nothing could move the will of God. His timing is perfect, and unfettered by that we think we can and cannot do.

Joshua stated what they …we …can do.

“We will serve the Lord.”

By the grace of Jesus, no matter what we’ve done, we can come to God for forgiveness in the life of a new day. Our obedient strides are witness of His greatness and passion.

“You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:22 (NIV)

Chosen. They chose. As we choose.

“Yes, we are witnesses.” Joshua 24:22

When we witness greatness, we tweet about it …hashtag it on instagram …tag our friends on Facebook. But God …

He uses the triumphant and the painful moments of our lives to inspire souls we may never know in this life. His reach is much farther than the capability social media has to cast an image or a message. When we live life in pursuit of a heart like Jesus, ‘we are witnesses.’

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for the things that we are passionate about. Thank You for instilling remarkable abilities in us. Forgive us for failing to recognize Your hand in every facet of the life we were born to live in Your purpose. Bless our steps to follow Jesus, in humble acknowledgement of Your will for our lives. Make us great witnesses. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Witness-ing,

Megs

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The Great Thirty-eight. (#recall12 series, June.)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s Word each month! This month’s verse is :

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

#recall12 June image 1

“Thirty-eight is going to be great.”

God has been whispering this blessing over my life as I peer into the next year of it. The last decade of my life has been riddled with challenge and laced in blessing. Each encroaching birthday is little scarier than the last.

With each year, more are diagnosed, suffer, and pass away. The people that it’s happening to are getting closer and closer in direct contact with my life. Friends, family …cancer.

“Cancer sucks,” my 8-year-old daughter declares …and I sigh.#recall12 June tweet 1

Cancer is scary. Life is terrifying.

Parting is unfathomable.

With each passing year, I have more to lose …and that particular fear would like to plant it’s paralyzing seed right smack in the center of my heart. Fear of loss can only be overcome by perfect Love.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Lying in the first part of this month’s verse is the fan to fear’s flame. “The thief…”

thief-One that steals especially stealthily or secretly. -Merriam-Webster

The NIV Study Bible Notes declare, “His interest is in himself.” Indeed. Selfishness is akin to theft …and fear.

#recall12 June Tweet 2selfishness- Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. Merriam-Webster

Excessive and exclusive leave no room for the devil’s care for us. He’s messing to make us miserable enough to forgo the blessings in front of us. Worry and anxiety play an important role in what he’s trying to accomplish. His hope is that our hold on the world will overshadow the joy of Jesus’ heavenly embrace.

His breath filled all things

    with a living, breathing light—
 A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched. John 1:4-5

Jesus is Life and Light. No new worry we discover to fret over is new news to Jesus, who sat with God from the very beginning of time. He knew us before birth, and I imagine that the Words He ordained to be written in the Bible for us to read were spoken with all of us in mind.

Through the darkness then, and murky bottoms now, He is Light and Life. Unstoppable. Unbeatable. Alive.

#recall12 June image 2

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” John 10:10 (VOICE)

There is a joyful and abundant life to be lived here on earth, knowing that He wins. We win. Death may part us from our friends and family. Cancer will steal time and break hearts. There’s no need to reach for wretched news to wreck our day. But just as it surrounds us, so does He. In the sunrise, He reminds us He is here. In the smile of a child, He reminds us Life is good. Through the unexpected note from a friend or a hug from a stranger, He shows us that He cares.

Are we looking for life, or waiting for death?

“The Greek word for “life” is found 36 times in John, while no other NT book uses it more than 17 times.” NIV Notes.

Life … “zoe”in Greek, means both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence. The Lord intimately shares His gift of life with people, creating each in His image which gives all the capacity to know His eternal life. (Strong’s Concordance.)

Someone said to me recently that sometimes doubt can mean we are actually on the right track. Knowing the full scope of what the devil is up to, that makes perfect sense. He can’t make us do anything …but he can cause us to wobble in and out of doubt and anxiety. Fear is an attack on every good thing the Father has in store for us. All of the joy that Jesus died to lend us. Life was not promised to be easy …or fair …or painless …or always happy. There are times in this life that we will barely be able to lift our heads to the sky and ask Him , “why?”

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Let’s continue to lift our heads and hold onto hope. It’s not a fairytale wish, but it is the stuff of fairy tales. Our Redeemer King has already rescued us. Live what He saved to the fullest.

#recall12 series June image 3

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

Father, Praise You for Life. Thank You for Jesus’ gift to us. Grace surrounds us, yet we fail on so many occasions to face it. Forgive us for looking past You for comfort, and help us to fiercely follow Your Son’s footsteps each day that we are blessed with on this earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Happy Birthdays!

Megs

Click here, or on the image below, for FREE VERSE MEMORY CARDS!

recall12_pdf_june_image

#recall 12 June Verse Memory Cards PDF

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“What Does It Mean?” Week 3: Joy.

Joy

A source or cause of delight –Merriam-Websterjoy-image-1

Joy differs from happiness in that it is an emotion.  -Wikipedia

Is there greater delight than the wonder of Santa, or the glee witnessed as a child unwraps the present they wished for? Can there be a sweeter tear than the touch of a Christmas memory?

 Yes.

Set a part from the fleeting feeling of happiness, joy defines what Jesus came to give.  It’s constancy flows through the entirety of our days, and allows us to laugh our way back to right. Joy is accepting who we are in confidence that we are cared for.

Acceptance & The ‘Damn’ Centers

Joy is the acceptance for who we are by the One who made us.

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” Genesis 21:6

joy-tweet-1She was ninety …of course she laughed at the thought of giving birth. (Genesis  18)  Yet as God promised, she and her 100-year old husband Abraham had a son named Isaac …which means “he laughs.”

We often place God far off in the distance or high in the sky. But one of the endearing qualities of the Lord is that He is funny. I believe, in reverence, that Biblical conversations reflect the humor of a God for whom nothing is impossible. How often are we able to make light of our circumstances? Life isn’t always funny, but it is overflowing with joy …if we choose to accept it.

joy image 3.jpgMy six-year-old daughter exudes joy. It’s hard to discipline her with a straight face. When I asked her one afternoon why she had to stay in for recess, she said:

“I had to finish my damn centers,”  and rolled her eyes.

What else could I do but excuse myself to die of laughter?  She’s six! #longroad It further confirmed the spitfire personality that I love, along with the list of reasons she’ll never be allowed to go on spring break…

“Lo” doesn’t fall in line or take adults too seriously. Her laugh is loud and ever-present. I may joke about her tendency to test the rules, but embrace the tender heart behind those twinkling blue eyes. My love for her allows me to witness the brightness of her light.

God is not surprised by us. He loves the complete creation, and we are made to journey in joy! His love doesn’t lessen when we fall down. In fact, He seeks to share a laugh with us and reveal joy in hard moments. He’s accepted us. That’s why Jesus was born.

Christmas is closeness with God.

Confidence …For the Birds

Joy is the attitude of gratitude.

joy-tweet-3In the North where I live, Christmastime signals every bird that can’t bear the winter’s cold to start flocking together.  Millions of birds dance together in the sky, instinctively gathering and swooping and soaring until they’ve accumulated enough of a mass to drift as a dark “bird cloud” away with the warm air.

“…Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn’t it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds!” Luke 12:24

Birds are not even in my top 100 of favorite …or even likable creatures. Yet, over the years, I’ve come to admire the way they just know what to do.

“…God cares for every little sparrow …Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid…” Luke 12:6-7

Birds don’t realize they are small or incapable. They operate confidently on carefully designed instinct.

“My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.”Luke 12:32

Humans seek to be loved because deep within the design of our nature is a Creator who is love. Our confidence is found in Him, through Jesus.

joy-image-4

He came into this world a small baby in a manger. His light caused others to flock to Him and follow Him, shifting and moving and gathering and cackling and spreading the Word. Long after Christ gave His human life on the cross, the birds continued to fly and stories of Jesus spread. His Word still flutters and gathers. Christian faith is moving and shifting. God’s not surprised. We all instinctively seek the joy of Jesus.

    He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations,
        and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” Luke 2:32 (The Voice)

Joy to the world, indeed. The greatest gift. #yulesee 

Happy Christmas,

Meg

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#RaRaLinkUpTestimony Tuesday 

Wednesdays…

#TellHisStory, OhMyHeartsieGirlsCoffee for Your HeartFrom Messes to MessagesWordless Wednesday

Thursdays…

Thought Provoking ThursdayLive Free ThursdaySincerely, PaulaHeart Encouragement 

Fridays…

Faith Filled Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“What Does It Mean?” Week Two: Emmanuel

Emmanuel

1. Jesus Christ, especially as the Messiah (Matt. 1:23). 2. Immanuel. (dictionary.com)

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

Jesus appeased the ardent anticipation of our hearts. The questions have been answered. The gaps have been filled. Hope is available for the world to receive. “Emmanuel” explains how God came for us, is here with us, and is coming back for us through Jesus.

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Presents vs. Presence

“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” Mark 7:24

Sometimes it’s a blessing to go unnoticed. Jesus knew the peace woven into the observatory silence of slipping through a crowd or standing at the back of a room. But though He was not an audience seeker, they followed and gathered by the droves to be in His presence.

“He could not be hid; for, though a candle may be put under a bushel, the sun cannot.” Matthew Henry’s Commentaryemmanuel-2

The celebratory countdown to Christmas isn’t meant to spotlight our generosity, but His.  When I feel hurried by my self-created hustle I linger a little longer in His presence …which isn’t a problem when you have no less than five Advent countdowns do maintain each day until Christmas. It’s a lot much, you can think it. I know it. But, I love it. The best way to lose your Christmas spirit is to make it all about what were getting and giving. Focus on the right “present” ignites the Spirit of Christmas.

present- something presented.  -Merriam-Webster

presence- the part of space within one’s immediate vicinity. -Merriam Webster

How many Christmas presents to we forget about, exchange, or get rid of each year? Christ’s presence is always applicable to our lives and within our lives …if we’ll only just open it. Emmanuel …God with us.

The Other Lego Girl

“Briiiiiiii!!!!!!!” my youngest wailed. “You got a Lego Girl the last time you opened up a square …that’s NOT FAIR!!!!”

Watching my girls fight over an Advent gift I’d given them to share put the “never-enough”nature of humanity on display. In the thick of presents about to hit many homes; and the dread of those who don’t have gifts to give; it’s vital to pull the true light of Christmas into focus.

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“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

“The first of many” verses that connect the Old Testament with the new, the above in particular fulfilled a verse written approximately 800 years earlier!  The treasures tucked inside these verses danced together the over eight centuries between them, until God whisper, “it’s time.” Somewhere around 740-680 BC, Isaiah, who’s name means means “the Lord saves” penned,

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

Matthew, who’s name means “gift of the Lord,” recorded his words within 50-70 AD:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

How does the Lord save? Through the gift of the Lord. Jesus. 

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We’re not always assured the final witness to inspired words, as a sign normally fulfilled within a few years taking 800 unravels the scope of God’s timing.  Isaiah’s words warned the stubborn king Ahaz (the great-great-grandson of King Saul-New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters), but “he would not ask a sign for the confirming of his faith because he resolved to persist in his unbelief, and would indulge his doubts and distrusts…” Matthew Henry Commentary.

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:57

Does it feel off-putting to revolve an entire season around hunting down doorbusters and toys your kid didn’t even know existed before the catalog hit the mailbox?  Beyond ancestral traditions and surrounding customs, we must own our truth as individually and honestly as Creator of our soul observes.

“Despite the insistence of the Pharisees, despite the Roman system and even despite the pressure of family, a person must accept God on his terms. ” -NIV Study Bible Notes

Is it just a story? Was He just a man? Our minds will remain elusively angst until we put down the proof and unlock our hearts. We’re not so hidden away while we decide what to do. He sees because He is, and He is here now. Presents don’t fulfill human hearts; souls are satisfied by the presence of Jesus.

God’s gift is ready to bless us upon opening. Grace waits because He knows us. Jesus is enough for all of us. Are you seeking Christ this Christmas? Simply let go and believe.

He’s already here. Jesus. Savior. Emmanuel.

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Happy Christmas,

Megs

I link up at the following places. Come join in the fun!

Stay encouraged!

“What Does It Mean” Week One: Noel.

Noel

 1. A Christmas carol. 2. (capitalized) Christmas. (Merriam-Webster)

Another name for Christmas. French Noël (“Christmas season”), may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Wikipedia

Noel is a word meant to remind us of our place …our heritage …our hope. Replace antagonism with the familiar embrace of faith.
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1. Look at the time.

” Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

My neighbor gave me a Christmas Cactus last year, which she told me only blooms at Christmas-time.  I wanted to see if I could keep it alive until it was time for it to bloom again. So, I forgot to water it most of the winter, re-potted it in the spring, and continued to forget to water it the rest of the year.

noel-image-1Beyond my ability to care for it, it survived. The first week of the Advent (Christmas) season, it began to flower. It’s in a pot …on my desk …in Ohio …and it’s a cactus. But God said, “it’s time.”

Time: an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end. (Merriam-Webster, 3B)

Behind every human being is a baby in a womb that God’s hand began to the tune, “it’s time.” We can trust the Author of Life, and the proof is Jesus. That day in the town of David, God said, “it’s time,” and born was the Savior of the world, a vulnerable baby boy who needed to be held and nurtured and loved. Born to hold, nurture, and love us for all time. Noel …a birthday.

2. Sing Noel.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:10-13

My first visit to a new optometrist revealed a change in my vision.  He prescribed a pair of glasses to combat the glare of the computer screen and the sunshine. Each morning, I faithfully clean and prepare them for the day with special cloth and spray. Its  worth it to me. I appreciate the view. Guess what? They’re shatterproof, too. My new vision is as
protected as it could possibly be.

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When Zechariah lost his ability to see God clearly, he lost his speech along with it. He doubted the vision he saw. He questioned the message. At his son’s birth, his speech was restored. Jesus restored our hope with His. Might something we were previously unaware of be blocking Him from our vision?

The b-side of birth lies beyond God’s creation of our physicality. He built the possibility of hope into our DNA. A gift of grace allowed by the sacrifice of that baby boy born in the town of David. The opportunity to break free and follow Him home. The power of purpose as our feet tread the dirt of this Earth. When Christ is our personal Savior, the silence is lifted from our souls and our vision realigned …like getting new glasses. In a fresh hug of friendship defined, we are born …again.

Believe. See…

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

-The First Noel Christmas Carol

Sing in celebration that Jesus was born to save us. It’s not just any birthday celebration. Christmas is the love of the Father and peace of the Son that transcends the encapsulation of time.

birth:  the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent (Merriam-Webster.)

God said, “it’s time,” and like the wind blows when He says and the seas calm at His hand, Heaven came to earth embodied in His Son. And we not only get to partake in this love story …we are the center of it. Can you see it?

Noel. Emerge. It’s time.

Happy Christmas!

Megs

#yulesee

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I link up at the following places. Come join in the fun!

Stay encouraged!

The Blue Table

blue table fixed image

Failure to control my kids’ exposure scares me, and lending it’s parameters up to the One
who’s wise to the legit limit is the only way I manage to keep the wall up. The waxing and waning of what I’m supposed to hold to and let go of perplexes my parental instincts. Many voices weigh in, but only One cuts through the noise.

“Control- to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command; to hold in check; curb” –dictionary.com

Blue Table fixed tweetOur butts were stuck to the seat, and the warm breeze wafted by as we tried to beat the heat to our ice cream. Sun-beat cheeks burst wide with giggles in between spoonfuls. As the kid-table full of little girls erupted into innocent laughter over inside jokes, and a little blurb of nonsense perked-up the parent ears sitting at the adjoining table with a,“What-did-you-say?!” 

All of the girls… in unison… at the highest volume they could maintain while dying laughing, repeated, “TOM HAS A SMALL WEINER!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!”

Not sure whether to laugh, cry, or die of embarrassment … I let the contagious cackling catch me, too.”Tom has a small wiener,” scratched into the table at the local ice cream factory, is definitely not in the prepared parent handbook.

I was pretty sure my princesses weren’t privy to the down low; but as my friend marched up to management, I wondered how aware of the world they really were.

“Oh, mom, I started that…” stated my calm, rule-following first child, as we cruised down the high-way home.

“I sounded it out,” she said, as I braced my grip on the steering wheel little tighter.

“Why would someone write about their wiener-dog on a table…”  she trailed off and into
hysterics again, no doubt recalling how all of her friends roared in laughter over ice cream.

Phew. She had no idea, and I left it that way.

There are things in this world that are impossible to control. Bits of exposure creep into kid’s minds beyond our ability to rewind. Terrible tragedy scares society into lockdowns and loud mouths.  How do parents protect children amidst an increasingly illusive grasp on control?

Faith.

God is in control of all that alludes us. Faith allows us to live in peace, amidst engulfing calamity. In “table scratch” moments,  I say…“Word up.” #wordup

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WORD up.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 

Mark 5:36

There is a miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark that reveals God’s sovereign care beyond our parental scope.  Jarius, a synagogue leader, sought Jesus out to heal his daughter, but while in route she died.  “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus said, and He raised his daughter from the dead.

I believe the Word came alive for Jarius that day.

Blue Table 2-6Read the Bible. Let the living Word come alive in your life. The situations of our hearts differ, but the omnipotent voice is the same. When we listen to these lessons, we can hear hope. By preparing our hearts with wise words, pressing parenting conversations are relieved by a story, a “who God is,” or “what would Jesus would do.” Applying Biblical truths to everyday occurrences plant “wall building” seeds.

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 word UP.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 

James 5:16

Get up and look up… everyday. Talk up. Pray up. Listen for what’s up. I can’t be everywhereBlue Table 3-7 my daughters are, but He can. I won’t always understand, but He does. Prayer
accumulates, God hears, and I trust He’s on board. Scholarly proof alludes me, but as Sunday seeds sown are watered and grown, bits of evidential wisdom bleed out of my heart. #faith

“Please bless Brianne and Lauren. 

Keep them physically safe from harm, 

and guard their hearts and minds

 …today, and always.”

My girls are six and eight, and everyday I pray that prayer …in earnest hope, and forthright faith.  I have a lot to learn, and many miles of parenting left to wander. But I routinely yield the mysteries of the world to their Author, believing most ardently that He answers prayer.

My littlest girl loves to quote Tinkerbell’s infamous motto, “Faith, trust, and pixie dust.” Have faith in the Word and earnestly pray. Trust that life will water His seeds in our kin. And pixie dust? Keep your eye out for answered prayers …sometimes they look like miracles.

Word up,

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Squirrel

If you know me at all, you know I do not understand God’s purpose for squirrels.  Just don’t.  I don’t think they’re cute, I don’t get sad when one loses a race across the road with a car, and I don’t find joy in feeding them.  The feeling is mutual.  I’ve been chased out of my own yard by squirrels, and at my previous residence, definitely yelled at by squirrels.  I was sad that my husband and I had to have three giant, hollowed-out trees removed from the lot we built our current home on, until I was told they were home to a pretty giant family of squirrels.  With one maple tree left in the yard, I felt home free from squirrel harassment.  Until yesterday…

IMG_4775Lo and I were sitting out on our front porch on a beautiful summer morning, admiring our sunflower patch.  It’s smaller than usual this year.  I decided to replace the giant sunflowers that have grown there in the past with smaller plants this year, so they wouldn’t topple over in the wind.  With the plethora of rain and clouds we’ve been blessed with this summer in Northern Ohio, we’ve yet to see one single sunflower bloom…until yesterday.

Lo turned back around to our little table and to her paper that she was practicing the letter “D”on, and I to my journal and cup of coffee.  Listening to the lake and summer breeze and the birds…all of the sudden we heard a rustling from the sunflower patch.

“MOM!!!!” Lo jumped up, “IT’S A SQUIRREL!  HE’S EATING THE SUNFLOWER!!!”

“GET OUT OF HERE, SQUIRREL!” we both yelled.  “GO AWAY-GET OUT OF OUR GARDEN!”

The squirrel had left the flower half-eaten and severely dismantled, but we chased him off and sat back down.IMG_4777

The rustling returned immediately.  He was back for the rest of the flower.  This time, he snapped it off and ran back up the lone maple tree with it in his mouth…sat on branch just out of our reach…and proceeded to munch on the flower.

By this time, Lo and I were in the yard, at the base of the tree, me with a broom in one hand and a hard shell in the other trying to whack the thing one way or another.  The broom broke, and the flying shell did not scare the squirrel.  He sat there munching the flower until it was gone, and then sent the leaf attached to it floating back down to the ground.  Then he just laid on the branch to full to move.

IMG_4773All the while my older daughter, Brianne, had now joined us in yelling at the squirrel, who could obviously care less about what our plans were for that beautiful sunflower.  See, the sunflower patch just so happens to sit in front of a giant smiley face sign, in honor of the Elementary School principal who lost her battle with cancer.  The smiley face was her thing, and when we moved the sign to our sunflower patch, they grew out of control.  It become a happy little tribute.  The squirrels have never bothered it before.

When I was texting my husband what had happened, that snapped off sunflower reminded me of “the marathon.”  (Leave it to a dumb squirrel to bring a difficult memory to the surface.)

Each stride of my marathon training was in praise of the miracle of my healing from a fused spine and AS.  God literally allowed me to experience a healing from disease, and through prayer and God’s Word I felt confidently called to use the marathon as a platform to spread my testimony in order to give others hope.

Nursing a sore Achilles that I was scared would end my journey to the marathon, I remember taking a deep breath and praying before the start of my last training run.  With an Elevation sermon series ringing in my ears, I put my feet in God’s hands for 20 miles. I relaxed into Him and into my stride, soaking in the scenery of the sunrise along the lake as I sailed on down the road.

“Go, Mommy!  Go-Go-Go Mommy!!!” my girls chanted as they and my husband met me for pit stops along the way.   Runners will relate to the smile that creeps on your face when your out on the road doing something you never in your wildest dreams thought you could do.  That’s how I ran that day.  In disbelief of what God can do with my life when I just surrender it to Him.

Legs barely able to pick themselves up from fatigue, I stopped my watch immediately after it beeped for the 20th mile.  Eyes welling up with tears, limping up my sidewalk to my house…, I looked down at my  average pace.  8:29 per mile.  Boston qualifying pace for a girl my age is 8:20.  Holy smokes…it was within reach.  Tears flowed down my face as I praised the Lord for his faithfulness and strength.

The miles had been logged.  The work was done.  After two months straight of “longest run ever” long runs, I was finally ready to race.  Months of diligently icing ailments and stretching and strengthening weak spots.  Hours upon hours striding down long country roads, face half frozen during the cold winter, hobbling through wind and pain.  Collapsing in my driveway with tears of agony after my 13-miler and 18-miler.

Every run was a leap of faith.  Eight miles, ten miles, twelve miles, thirteen miles, fifteen miles, seventeen miles, eighteen miles, twenty miles.  Each time I asked God if this was the way.  Each time asking for prayers that I would make it through.  Each time finishing the run that I had started.

IMG_1778
The last pier run.

After a day off to rest, I went out to run an easy five miles down the pier to the lighthouse and back.  Halfway back down the pier, I felt a pinch in my Achilles.

For the next two weeks, I would watch my dream shatter right before my eyes, because after all that training….all those miles….what I couldn’t do…was rest.

Just like that sunflower was picked right as it was finally starting to bloom, I sidelined myself with acute Achilles tendonitis two weeks before my race.  It was so severe that a lump formed where the damaged tissue was, probably due to a microscopic tear.  Unlike the sunflower that was snapped off after it fought through the rain and cold weather and finally started to bloom, it was less clear to me what the purpose of it all was.  The sunflower fed the squirrel.

Never did I imagine that I would make it through all of the training, but not even to the starting line of the race.

I watched others update their facebook status and tracked my friends on race-day…much like watching that squirrel eat my sunflower just out of my reach.  There was nothing I could do about it.  What was once a clear “yes” from God was now a very loud “no.”  To race on my Achilles would risk allowing it to snap right in half…but why was that leap of faith a “no?”

I felt God telling me that I didn’t need the “show” of race day, and I felt Him answering my prayer to remain humble through not being able to race.  My kids and their summer vacation kept drifting into my mind, making the risk of landing myself on crutches for the summer less and less worth the sake of saying “I did it.”

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The last pier run.

God encouraged and affirmed my decision not to race while I was sitting in the dance studio waiting for my tiny dancers, listening to Pastor Steven from Elevation Church preach on my i Pad.

“What if the thing that God wanted from me all along was not that I would arrive, but that I would reach?” Pastor preached.

A pit formed in my stomach as he continued on…

“What if what He really wants from you…what if the real goal is just that you keep reaching?”

My eyes welled up with tears…

“What if the real goal isn’t that you could make it around the bases without falling down-but what if even while you were flat on your face-what if even while you were down-what if even though it looked like you had lost-you missed the fence by 60 feet and just didn’t know it yet.”

When I knew I wouldn’t be able to race the marathon I had felt so called to race, I was crushed.  How else would I ever be able to tell people about the miracle I had experienced?  How could I encourage others not to give up hope when I had failed to reach my goal.  These were the thoughts I prayed so earnestly for answers to as I listened on…

“What if reaching… pressing… coming after God with all your heart… trying again-the righteous may fall seven times but he gets back up (Proverbs 24:16)-that’s the goal,” he preached on,  “Get up again!  Press towards the mark!  Stretch your imagination!  Stretch your faith!  Stretch your limits!  REACH.”

I don’t understand why God does the things He does or when He chooses to do them, but I do trust Him with my life.

I made a goal to try to be like Paul, who said…

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want.  I CAN DO ALL THIS THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.” Philippians 4:12-13

Whether I can run or not…

IMG_1874I came up short, and yet I don’t feel slighted in the least.  If God didn’t lead me through my training, not promising…but allowing me to envision crossing the finish line…I might not have even tried.

Dreaming of pointe shoes and driven towards dance, I related to Brianne as she struggles to get her “splits.”

“Brianne,” I said, “think of your splits like me running twenty miles.  I never though I could do it, but I just kept trying…just kept running.  Have faith in yourself, have faith in God, and try your best.  Just keep stretching. ”

…and “Be joyful, always.” 1Thes. 5:16

Happy Summer,

Megs

 

 

 

Stay encouraged!