The Drop-off (#jammed daily devo, day 345)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 345: Graceful conversations.

“Do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (VOICE)

“Do you understand me?” I repeated as we rounded the elementary school drop-off curve. DECJAM 11

In a rush to get to the part where she smiled and hugged me and didn’t want to let go as I told her I’d miss her while she was at school, I wrapped up that morning’s conversation…

“I just don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I did,” I choke back, “do you understand?”

But I knew she didn’t …and wouldn’t. That’s the hardest part of motherhood besides slowly letting go …not wanting them to repeat painful mistakes. We want so badly to prevent our children prevent from going through any shred of the same pain born of the consequences of our imperfections. The unfortunate risk we run in scrambling to run defense is completely shutting down their offense.

How do we raise our children to compassionately walk in the love of Jesus when we ourselves struggle to maintain focus? From close-up, we all feel our lives are a mess. At the same time, someone is envious of our situation.

“Do not drive your children mad …”

Yet, we drive our children mad. In an effort to love the mistakes right out of their path, we drive them mad. Doors slam, words burst, feet stomp, and we’re all mad. Looking back through the highlight reel of holiday memories, it’s the joy that stands out. The memories that stick over time are the ones laced in love. If that’s what we choose to remember, why is it so hard to focus on as it’s happening?

Ephesians 6:4 begins with “Fathers.” The verse in it’s entirety is “Fathers, do not drive your children mad …” However, in a society striving to even all scores, mothers need to wary of this advice, too.

“Fathers must surrender any right they may feel they have to act unreasonably toward their children.” -NIV Notes.

We grasp for control of our kids, abut lose our grip on the lid to our mouths. Our hearts mean well, but our flesh truly fails us. If we don’t learn to surrender our children to the feet of Jesus, we will drive them mad. Just as we are the people He drafted us to be …so are they.

Instead of picking our children a part for their faults, let’s aim to focus on their triumphs and talents, their strong points and highlights. The world is negative enough in it’s attempt to squeeze our children into a mold labeled “most successful.” What even is that?  Society’s view of “success” isn’t the point of life at all. Jesus is.

If we’re going to drive them anywhere, let’s drive them there.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for our children. That we get to witness human life grow and fly in front of our eyes is a gift. Forgive us for aiming to control the paths of our children, and for driving them mad. Bless us with the patience we need to be godly parents. 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 Driving,

Megs

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The Bench (#jammed daily devo, day 137)

May #jammed: Growing Grace.

Day 137: The wrong spot.

“Make your parents happy
 Proverbs 23:22

“Oh, no, MOM!” my daughter wailed, “our bench is gone.”may correction

We’d been stopping eat lunch on our favorite bench since she was just a little toddler. Things change and life moves …and so did our bench.

Today’s section of Proverbs encourages us to discipline our children. Every parent wishes for their child to make good decisions, hang on our every wise word, follow our rules, and respectfully make us proud.

But what happens when the bench moves? When they move away from us? When they grow up? What happens then? Will they retain all of the wisdom we’ve tried to instill upon them in the short time we’ve had them under our noses? Will our arms remain open as their lives drift beyond our understanding and control?

Buy the truth and do not sell it—
    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.” Proverbs 23:23

The above verse gives us three keys to parent with wisdom:

wisdom-  knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. dictionary.com

When we tell our children the Truth, we are giving them the opportunity to digest wisdom. If we simply respond, “because I said so,” we rob them of the ability to learn how to discern right from wrong. When we go to God’s Word with our kids, He begins to move in their hearts. They will eventually figure out that we don’t know everything, nor are we entitled to make mistakes without apology. Honesty, humlity, and apology build a foundation for formative wisdom.

instruction- education. (dictionary.com)

It’s not only important for our children to hear the Word of God from us, but it’s important for them to hear it from their peers. A solid church family, Sunday school, after school program, youth groups, Christian camps …it’s important to let them learn the Word of God, and how to build a community of fellowship, too.

insight-an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding. (dictionary.com)

Sometimes, the lightbulb pops on mid-verse. After praying about a specific situation, the Word will open right up and address it. God’s Living Word is alive and active, and our kids need the savvy to navigate the pages of the Bible. We can help them build a solid foundation simply by reading a short devotion a day with them, and praying with them often.

When we teach our children how to go to God, it prepares their hearts to lean on Christ. They will make mistakes, and it will hurt to watch. Trust that He will always be after their hearts …making their triumphant moments all the more sweet.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for the applicable nature of Your Word. Thank You for helping us though life and leaving us with the Holy Spirit to help us interpret and remember what we read and experience. Forgive us for lecturing our children with our ways, and help us continuously point them to Yours first. 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 Word-ing,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

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The Smiley Faces

the-smiley-faces-pic-1“MOMMMMMM-A!!!”cried my wallowing six-year old, accompanied by her trademark stomp of dissatisfaction. “It’s doing MINUSES now …that’s too HARD….”

For days, exasperated sighs and incorrect buzzers had drifted from the kitchen counter at breakfast. But every once in a while, I would hear a jubilant yell:

“A smiley-face! I got a smiley face! I beat the teacher! Ha ha ha ha !”

It’s my hope that, somewhere in her small victory celebrations and the obsequious high-fives, the fact that she’s learning math trumps beating the “teacher” on the other side of our tablet.

The capricious people-pleaser innate to humanity seeks “the smiley-faces” from life’s the-smiey-faces-tweet-1audience. And when their approval alludes us, it can leave us feeling unworthy, unqualified, unloved, and all sorts of other “un” words. We can relieve our hearts of the burden to please others, when we start to see Him first.

1. Start

“I do not run like a man running aimlessly…”1 Cor 9:26

Paul is talking about the discipline he enforced upon his own life to serve Christ. (NIV Notes) When my life get’s hard, I tend to snap. When the side of my brain that signals I’ve earned the right to lose a little control trumps the logical side, I am libel to tell my kids to pick up there “s-word.” Or, ask them what in the “hocky-sticks” they are thinking. I might stomp up the stairs, roll my eyes at my husband, or cause my kids to flinch in fear. Anyone relate?

When the endurance of preparedness kicks in, the logical side of our brains replaces the-smiley-faces-pic-2lunacy with a pause. A moment, to just sit in the pocket of reaction and allow the memory to search out truth. If we read the truth of God’s Word day after day, it will remain alive and active to guide us on the fly.

Paul knew the cost and sacrifice of such discipline, but knew also it wasn’t aimless.

2. Stamina

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Cor. 9:24

“All the runners run” challenges me to lay down my efforts to succeed in exchange for consistency and discernment.

In a long-distance track event, I like to watch the runners who get boxed in after the lanes merge. Despite all of the preparation and experience the sport can offer, some of the best runners in the world still end up there. Against all odds, sometimes a runner jolts out of the pressure pocket like lightning …and sails back into the race. I love to root for those runners.

the-smiley-facesHave you found yourself boxed into places you’ve never wanted to be …places you prepared never to be? Let me encourage you from a place of commraderie. Human weakness will never go away, but neither will Jesus. Sometimes the only way to get the prize is to take a leap of faith. To reach out for His hand through the spikes clipping by, and let Him pull us back into the race when we’re ready to jolt.

3. Seek

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last forever.” 1 Cor. 9:25

Phil 3:14 explains that the winner of the race, in the time period Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, won money and a wreath of leaves. (NIV notes on Phil 3:14) We train awfully hard to earn promotions, win medals, buy houses, and take vacations. The incomparably majestic crowns in Heaven are going to make a free trip to Disney World equatable to a free Oreo cookie. Just one cookie. Without the milk.

the-smiley-faces-pic-3

When I get to heaven, I want God to be proud of me… like a whole reward chart overflowing with smiley-faced stickers. He’ll always love me, but I want to have endured obedience in the pursuit of holiness. I want to break free from the pack and run down that straightaway praising His name as the tape breaks across my chest. I want to win. For Him. God doesn’t paint a whole picture of what that looks like for everyone. It’s as individual as each one of us. And His is the only approval we’re intended to rely on.

Happy Seeking,

Megs

 

 

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The Invisible Fire.

My little girl’s tears streamed onto my cheeks as she hugged me tight. Fearful that in the darkness of night our house would catch on fire, unreasonable emotion gripped her blotchy red face. Her pierced blue eyes searched mine for an answer …for comfort …for reassurance …all of which I was unqualified to promise her.invisible-fire-2

The anxieties we answer to in this life grab us much like Lauren’s sweet six-year-old heart, that can’t bear the thought of being separated from her teddy bear. Life is fragile. We want to look around and depend on each other to get through things that may never happen. We want to believe that everything is going to be ok, but it’s simply not always going to be. In fact, we’re promised that it will get much worse.

We can help our children cope with fear and anxiety by teaching them to pray these Words of God:

“Do not worry.” Matthew 6:34

“Do not fear.” Isaiah 41:10

invisible fire 4.jpg

Step Back.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

Our duty as parents is not to have all the answers, but to point to the One who does. We can aim to protect our children but we cannot promise them safety. Only God is sovereign to make good on the assured direction of their future.

“Lauren, can I pray for you?”

She nodded ‘yes’ through slowing sobs.

“Lord, you tell us not to fear, and not to worry. But that’s hard. We need Your help. Help Lauren not to worry, and not to be afraid. Let her rest in knowing how much you love her. God we pray that You protect and bless our home. Keep it and us safe. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

My godly duty as her mother is to reassure that she is loved …not just by me, but far invisible-fire-3greater. Her little heart needs to hear that He is good, that she can trust Him, and that He he cares about her fears and worries.

“Jesus explains the futility of such worry for one’s life (Mt 6:25), time (6:27, 34), clothes (6:28), and even what one will eat (6:31). Such a focus is not only a wasted effort on something that one cannot change (cf. Lk 12:25), but it leads to unhealthy anxiety.” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

If the thing I want to be able to promise will never harm a hair on her head singes her life, He will get her through. He will love her. He will grow her. He will never leave her side.

Through the calamity of this world, God does not promise Christians a free pass from pain. He gifts us the grace, peace and hope to keep walking through it. We grip Him in fear, look to Him in awe, and trust Him with it all …through it all.

Let Go.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Night after night my little Lo cried at bedtime, afraid our house would catch on fire. Night after night we prayed together, and repeated those truths to her tiny heart and my overwhelmed one. Until one night, her brave blue eyes stared right into mine and with a small, still voice, wondered:

“Mom, can I say a special prayer?” I nodded, misty-eyed.

“Dear God, Please bless us and don’t let our house catch on fire. Keep everyone in our family safe, and my teddy and blankie and all of my toys. We love you God and Jesus, Amen.”

Our great God hears the prayers of tender little hearts, and understands their fears.

invisible-fire-1

Sometimes it takes months, years, decades, lifetimes …before the discipline to turn to God first replaces our knee-jerk reaction to solve humanity’s dysfunctional fears and worries. But I believe that when God’s truth repeated is alive,  powerful, and in motion.

My greatest prayer as a mother is that my daughters will know that God loves them perfectly, even when I do not.

“The scope of these verses is to silence the fears, and encourage the faith, of the servants of God in their distresses.“ Matthew Henry Commentary on Isaiah 41:10-20

Prayer becomes powerful conversation. The grace of accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as allows us to experience a power that is not of this world. Discernment of text that is much more that black and white letters on a page. It’s much more than a good story. He is God.  He was here. And now His Spirit lives in us.

Invisible fire, indeed.

Happy praying,

Megs

 

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The Weeds.

“DROP IT.”

But she didn’t. Just as my daughters did when they were toddlers picking petunias, Cherry
sprinted out one last burst of freedom, plant in tow. Between my kids, my dog, and my husband’s impatience for unsightly landscaping, my flowers can’t seem to catch a break.
Every year, some of my flowers fall folly to my husband’s impatience to distinguish which shoots are a nuisance. It’s cost me plenty of perennials. Daisies, sunflowers, wildflowers… In his defense, they do look like weeds when they are an inch tall. Everything does. But he doesn’t wait to decipher. He loads up that nifty weed sprayer tool and starts frying every faulty growing follicle in the flower beds. After many, many, debates over what is what… this is the first summer in three years my wildflower garden has turned the corner it was meant to fill.

Ironically, the invasive grass I mistook for ornamental lake grass and tagged free game for weed kill is absolutely indestructible. It’s been sprayed, yanked, dug up from the dirt up, clearly told it’s not been wanted …and yet keeps coming back. And it’s the only plant my puppy isn’t interested in chewing on. Prevalent change is purposed for a holy happiness, happening to us.

image

The war of the weeds puts change into poignant perspective.

  • Some change is yanked before it has a chance.
  • Some change is invasive and unavoidable.
  • Some change separates a wildflower from the weeds.
  • Some change takes time to yield blooms.

Weeds 1How do we know what’s a weed and what’s a wildflower? When to pluck it out or let it grow? It’s confusing. Change is confusing. The ebb and flow of every day’s tide washes change over our lives and our world. Though the beauty of God’s goodness and love surrounds us, tragic-induced change seems ever-increasing. Evil’s masterful army of stealthed trickery and false promises prowls without pause. What I can only process as newsworthy injustice I turn over, in trust, to who God is and what He’s promised.

Change- verb) To make or become different.  image                                                                                            noun) The act or instance of making or becoming different. -Google

Change will come. Change will happen. But God never changes. Even when we feel like a weed caught in a sea of windflowers, our unchanging God is shifting our hearts.

“Heaven” is the inheritance that we are chosen for. God is changing us …making us holy …so we may inherit the full scope of happiness set aside for us.

 

Weeds 2In all the squabbling over who’s chosen right and wrong, we’ve neglected to distinguish weed from wildflower. Instead we fix and fumigate; worry and speculate; point and proclaim. In every heart is the spark of change. Christ left it on the cross to be lit. It yields love that spreads further and farther than hate. Love, that needs no news channel to exploit it’s cinematic potential.

Bible Gateway is a great resource to compare different versions of the punch of promise packed into this verse:

  • “We stand to inherit even more. As His heirs, we are predestined to play a key role in His unfolding purpose that is energizing everything to conform to His will.” Ephesians 1:11 (Voice)
  • “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)
  • “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who work ethic all things after the counsel of his own will.” Ephesians 1:11 (KJV)

There’s so much that I don’t understand about the balance between predestination and free will. But I do know that God’s sovereignty reigns over both.

Sovereign- possessing supreme or ultimate power. -Google

imageIn national times riddled in recent tragedy, my heart aches for the moms. My biggest fear has become your truth. I try to put myself in your shoes, but cannot. A mad moment can unglue a mind. Jesus was nailed to a cross so we could weep at His feet, and trust that something will change. In a world that bumps us from one minute to the next, God is the same as He was when He spoke the stars into the sky. I cling to Christ to clear the “why.”

“All who are chosen to happiness as the end are chosen to holiness as the means.”                               -MH Commentary.

Beautiful flowers look like weeds when they first break through the soil. And before that, they look like nothing at all. But when watered, watched, and staked in the wind, the potential abounds …height soars.

If God takes such care in His creations, why do we think we have any authority over humanity? We are all being watered, watched, and staked in the wind.

  •  Some change is challenging. 
  • Some changes are results. 
  • Some change, changes us.
  • Some changes, change lives.
  • Some changes save lives.

imageOn my favorite racing roller coaster, the inside passengers from each train reach out on the long banking turns to high five each other as the trains pass back and forth throughout the ride. It’s risky, scary, and against the rules …but irresistibly fun. High-fives and smiles abound amongst strangers …without interviews, pat-downs, and predeterminations. There’s no time for introductions. You either high five or you don’t. I love that. That’s my favorite. Just people being people. Laughing and smiling. In His image, we were created to react in love. Not hate.image

There’s only one way, but all are welcome. (First5 Weekend Wrap Up Video, 7/9/16) LOVE. Let
the Author of life weed His garden. In the end, love wins. #beapartofit #holyinheritance  #findaway #justlove #lovewins

Happy Gardening,

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Broken Bunny

In an adventure to the craft store, my oldest daughter fell in love with a broken bunny.  Anxious to pick out a craft in preparation for what could be yet another snow day tomorrow, she and I both decided that a cute little cloth bunny would be the perfect guinea pig for us as we learn to sew.

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If only my three-year old were that easily sufficed.  She’s not.  I negotiate shopping trips on lollipops.  With dreams of being able to wander aimlessly with my toddler toting happily beside me throughout the store entertained by a sweet treat, I hand that first one over like it’s the absolute solution to all that is mayhem in shopping with toddlers.

Little Lo skipped happily around the store picking bouquets of fake flowers for me to smell. But before long, I started to catch that ornery glance through her static-attacked hair (that looked like it hadn’t been brushed in weeks….yet was just hours before.).  If only there was a lollipop that she could never finish…

Brianne played happily with her bunny as she toted it along to look at artificial flowers and buttons and thread.  She held up multiple fabric squares to the little stuffed creature, then decided that giraffe was a pattern that would fit it perfectly, along with another.  Then, I noticed that her precious bunny’s arm was only hanging on by a couple of loose threads.

“Brianne, that bunny’s arm is about to pop off,” I pointed out to her.  “Why don’t you put him back and pick out another one?” I suggested.  After being distracted briefly by my younger child’s temporary disappearance from my line of sight, I looked expectedly to Brianne to go switch out the bunny.

The look I received did not reflect that of the realistic, and quite logical, request that I had just made.  No-no, the look I got instead was one of heartbreak.

“Mom!  No!  I love this one!” she replied.

“Are you sure?” I plodded.  “Don’t you want to pick a bunny that’s not broken?”

After the third and fourth request, and then walking over to the bin of bunnies with her to pick another…hoping a visual would seal the deal…her eyes welled up with tears, and she said to me again,

“I’m already attached to this one,” and held her broken bunny tight….all the way to the checkout line.

That’s my Brianne.  To her, that bunny wasn’t broken, it needed to be rescued.  It was just as good as any other bunny.  It just needed some extra love and a little mending.  She is such a creative spirit, and no doubt sees that bunny as an empty canvas for all kinds of new outfits and adventures.

Wouldn’t the world be a more refreshing place if we all took each other at face value, without looking to see if there are ripped seams?  What a novel idea it would be to consider who might be hanging on by a couple of threads before we launch into our opinion on their shoes…their job…their kid…their life.

There are lots of days when I feel like more than just my arm is hanging on by a few loose threads.  When the chronic pain that I endure simply starts to eat me up.  There are many times that I am overcome with doubt about every possible area of my life.

Some days, I just feel like I’m under attack…

And on those days, sometimes after much wallowing on my part…God picks me up, gives me a hug, and says,

“I love this one….I’m already attached.”

Burdened by pain that I can’t explain, confused as all get out at which direction I should go next, feelings at times seemingly hurt beyond repair…life can be crushing sometimes.  I’ve trained my daughters to rally in those situations.  To let their emotions flow out of them, and then put the pieces back together through hugs and prayers.

As I sat in tears through one such moment yesterday, it was my daughters who came clamoring up the stairs and jumped on my bed, with hugs and “I love you’s,” and so much silliness that I eventually ended up in a pile of cuddles and laughter.  What a blessing it is, to be a mother.  Through all the doubt it entails, it’s so rewarding to be the recipient of a warm embrace like those we so often give out throughout the day.  It’s heavenly encouragement that we’ve done something right.

I think it really is that simple.  Like Brianne saw the potential for all kinds of magical things in her broken bunny, God already knows the abundant blessings that will unfold in our lives.

When our spirits are under attack, when we’re feeling like everything is unraveling before our eyes…like the pain is too much to bear, and the circumstances are too hard to understand…He is there, watching it all unfold as planned…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.- Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

A giraffe print dress for a stuffed bunny.

Happy Sewing!

Megs

Stay encouraged!