The Ice Circles (#jammed daily devo, day 350)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 350: Let it Go.

“I will never again remember…” Hebrews 10:17

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation again …” I droned, and my daughter’s DECJAM16eyeball conquered. We spend a lot of time discussing the same issues.

“What should I do, mom?” she asked.

“Be kind, and include,” I repeated, after deleting all of the other thoughts and sentiments I swirling around in my head.

“Remember, it’s not about what we want to do,” I told her, “but what we’re here on this earth to do.”

Later that morning, I had noticed some ice circles on my walk. Strange, how the ice just froze in circles like that. “That’s what all these never-ending lessons remind me of …” I thought to myself, “frozen circles.”

 

When our patience comes under rapid-fire, as Christians we are called to keep our cool.

Today’s verse quotes a prophecy about a day when the Lord would no longer require sacrifice for sin.

“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31) …And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”(Jeremiah 31:34)

It’s repeated in the New Testament, as are a lot of OT prophesies. There’s a lot to be said, and a lot that’s been studied, about repetitive behavior. These conversations that we repeat with our children are opportunities disguised as annoyance. As Christians, we live our lives in repetitive format. Each day, spending time in prayer and the Word, and then applying it to our lives the best we humanly can.

The very fact that Scripture is repetitive should tip us off to the fact that God has us wired to be creatures of habit and routine.

The next time we can’t believe we’re having “that” conversation again, let’s try to remember that it’s simply a parental process of repetition. The seeds we’re planting need time to grow and mistakes to be applied to.

Our children are listening. Our God is speaking. He remembers us, but forgets our sin.

He’s cleared off the mess of sacrifice so that we can fill that space with what He’s repeating to us, now. “I will never again remember….” so that we can accept forgiveness, and focus on the good fight of faith.

Jesus’ birth changed everything. It’s a story to be repeated for all time. He took the weight of sacrifice off of us, and bore that burden until He squashed it on the cross. Christmas is a time to repeat the magnitude of His birth. Freeze that circle. Repeat that story. Let it keep moving and growing and revealing more and more with each rotation.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for ice circles, and what the simple elements of nature lay waiting to teach us each day. Thank You for placing us in such a beautiful atmosphere, and forgive us for mistreating or walking by Your wonders. Bless us to notice and repeat Your glory. 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 Circling,

Megs

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Stay encouraged!

The Fear Fight.

Tears quickly collected in the brim of my girl’s eyes as disappointment sunk into her heart. Whether eight or eighty-eight, the sting of discouragement stinks.

“If you feel you should be included, ask …” I encouraged, and handed her my phone.

It’s the tiny bits of fear that need to be squashed before they have a chance to take root and destroy a dream. We prayed over my tiny dancer before she got out of the car, and when she skipped back happily with a piece of her heart restored, I knew the work God was doing in me had more than one purpose.

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The agonous worries that shake us awake in the middle of the night are meek to those that snatch joy. Jesus grants peace. Fear hunts it down in attempt to convince us we were unworthy of it in the first place …in the hope that we’ll simply forget that we have nothing to worry about. Fear teases us with the solitude of control. It beckons us to keep up appearances and disassociations.

Fear will fill and hijack life, unless pulled up close enough to kick out. “Fear Fighting” is a powerful punch in fear’s face.

Search. Ask. Listen

“How do we renew in a way that we can really start to think differently?” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting”

One year ago I picked the word “resolve” to bring my goals for the new year into fruition. I prayed into that word and it held on by the tiniest thread as fear tried to shut every opening door. The thread didn’t snap, but my grace cracked. The “Fear Fighting” journey has illuminated my dire need for it’s restoration.

Calm, stately, pulled together grace.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Thes. 5:28

Jesus grace. Un-threatenable …humble grace.

Fear no longer has the power to unglue my wits end over end. Resolve capped that off by pushing me through this book.

F.I.G.H.T.

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“When I avoid my own conclusion, I often find God’s.” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting”

Fear wants us to circle our dreams like a vulture waiting for it to get hit by a car and die, relieving us from chasing after it’s assured “road-kill” ending. The bigger the dream, the stronger fear grips. Satan doesn’t play fair, he injects fear …hoping we’ll become addicted to a pain numbing consolation prize.

Get armed.

The Bible warns us we’ll be harassed. “Fear Fighting” provides an applicable solution to flicking fear out of our daily lives.

Forgo.Ignite. Give. Help. Treasure.

Grow Prayers

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Insecurity …quitting …overcommitting …comparison. Issues make us plainly aware of our earthly deficiency. But fear drives them all.

“What you hand over will be handed back to you tenfold, greater than your wants and according to your heart’s desires.” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting.”

Each everyday worry written out in prayer and tossed into a vase released the pressure point of a struggle …a less-than  …a not-good-enough. A simple activity from a heart full of fright-empathy ushered little pieces of freedom and simplistic joy back into my heart like a warm wave of salty sea air. Fourteen things I worry about everyday. The vase was filled. I was glad to be interrupted by my six-year old to paint her “other hand’s nails.” 

That’s the eye-opening power of derailing fear. It stops in it’s tracks …and leaves.

“God takes the weaklings, the ones who think they are bottom feeders, and nourishes His sheep.” Kelly Balarie, “Fear Fighting.”

This book is a #lifechanger, freeing kidnapped corners of fear-fighting souls in each pair of hands that hold it.

Father, Praise You for Kelly, and her Spirit inspired message. You are powerful to reach into hearts that need healing through the simple pages of a book. Thank You for knowing the spaces that need to be cleared of fear, and loving us regardless. We confess our worry and fear, and lift it up to Your capable hands. Bless our hearts with courage, and bless this book to  hearts that long to be freed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Fear-Fighting,

Megs

fear-fight-tweet

kellypicI highly recommend “Fear Fighting,” to anyone who struggles with anxiety, insecurity, and control. It’s a #lifechanger. Stand up and fight back, with Kelly Balarie’s relatable struggle and Spirit filled conquering of her own battle with fear.

Kelly, a heartfelt thanks to you for your faithfulness to write this book. It set the small, everyday courses of my life, on His track. Praise for you. Catch Kelly on her blog, www.purposefulfaith.com, and be encouraged!

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Click here to buy the book.

(Just a friendly promo for a book I believe will change your life. No affiliate kickbacks, here.)

Friends! if you enjoyed this post, would you consider blessing me by  writing ‘3’ in the comments to vote for it? Many thanks, and remember …sharing is caring! I love you all! -Megs

 

If you’re a fellow writer, click the above images and join us in the Fear Fighting Writer’s Contest! Let’s fight fear together, and cheer each other on! Woot! Woot! 

This post may be linked up with the following amazing writer’s:

Mondays…Mommy Moments Modest MondayOpen Mic MondaySoul SurvivalHomemaking MondaysGood Morning MondaysMake Your Home SingInspire Me Monday Motivation Monday Motivational MondayOver the Moon, Thank Goodness it’s Monday Inspire Me Monday

Tuesdays…#RaRaLinkUpTestimony Tuesday , Tuesday Talk God Sized DreamsTell Me a True Story, Together on Tuesdays, Create Link Inspire Party, Let’s be Friends Blog Hop, Totally Terrific Tuesday,  Turn in Up Tuesday,   Twinkly Tuesday,

Wednesdays…#TellHisStory, OhMyHeartsieGirlsCoffee for Your HeartFrom Messes to MessagesWordless WednesdayAmanda’s Books and More LinkyCoffee and Conversation,Wow Me Wednesday,Wine’d Down Wednesday,

Thursdays…Thought Provoking ThursdayLive Free ThursdaySincerely, PaulaHeart Encouragement Think Tank Thursday, 

Fridays…Faith Filled FridayDance with Jesus, Friendship Friday, High Five for Friday, 

Saturdays… Saturday Sparks, Dare to Share, Our Mini Linky PartySaturday Sharefest

Stay encouraged!

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.

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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

 

 

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

 

Stay encouraged!

The Push

The school year is over, and I’m predictably about to cry at any given moment. Guilty of over-celebrating every moment of my daughter’s lives, they wake up on the last day of school to ballooned rooms and streamers decking out the doorway.

The Push 1

The only way I’ve found get through the annual commencement on to the next grade level is by preparing to crumble under emotional pressure. As a mom, I want to know that I’ve given them all of the opportunities they need to accomplish the dreams they don’t even realize they have yet. Helping children find their niche is a hard part of life to put a pulse on. It’s not a lot of pressure, really, just a ton and a half … and that can induce a tad bit of parental competitiveness, to say the least. To stay on the encouraging side of the word push, I’m learning to let go … and pray …a lot. 

1.Push

Push- an act of exerting force on someone or something in order to move them away from oneself. -Google

I didn’t think being competitive was a bad thing, until I realized how often I fail to shut it off at the appropriate time. My little girl used to love playing her ukulele. #competitivefail. My littlest refuses to even line up and race anyone at anything for fear of losing …#uh-oh #competitive.

To encourage my kids without discouraging them seems impossible to me, because I’m not sure how to function on that level. The fact that I fall short in so many ways magnifies mid-mind, and reflects poorly on my parenting if I’m not privy to flip the switch.

I run the risk of seriously mismanaging my mothering by allowing the tornado of competitive thought to push on my parenting decisions.  I let it whir and woo me, suddenly convinced that I’m clueless and dysfunctional. The snap of the comparison trap yaps loudly in my ears, as I look at other people’s lives through an unfocused lens.

“I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.” Psalm 118:13

When I’m being pushed away from who I am, the great “I Am”  braces me from complete crumbling.  The One qualified to guide lives with care is He who created each and every individual one with love and purpose. Jesus, who walked to the cross, waits to wipe the heavy and helpless tears.

Encouragement is found in the push to pray. 

The Push 2

2. Reach

Reach-stretch out an arm in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something. -Google

“Mom,” my eight year old laughed from the backseat, “you’re always happy.”

The highway lines blurred with fresh tears.

“Mom,” she whispered in my ear as she gave me zero personal space during a meeting she tagged along to, “you’re good at being silly…”

Wow. I didn’t feel silly. I didn’t feel happy.  After the waterfall of emotions that had enveloped my week, I hardly felt like good company …let alone a good mom.

God reached out to me through the most important call He has put on my life to speak:

“You’re OK.”

“It’s OK.”

“I love you.”

“For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.” Mark 3:10

I remember pushing and sneakily squeezing by people to get closer to the stage at a Kenny Chesney concert.  Did I think he would spot me in the crowd and we’d be best friends from that day on? It was a ridiculous case of “star struck.”

Those first believers in Christ pushed through that crowd. These people who pushed for Jesus knew EXACTLY what could happen if they touched him. Diseases were being healed, demons chased out of spirits. This wasn’t just some singer in a cowboy hat on stage, this was God walking among them!!!! If we push through this world’s agony with faith of that magnitude, we will heal.

As I imagine the crowd pushing towards Jesus, I remember what it felt like to be tossed around in a concert mosh pit in my twenties.   The force of a determined crowd can be fierce.

When my tiny distance-runner frame got knocked to the ground in that pit, I was scared to death of being trampled on. Instead, I looked up to a hand reaching out to pull me right back up again. There is peace in the push, but we have to reach for it. Keep pushing in prayer, reaching for His hand, and pressing through the crowd.

Over the panic that she can’t do a cart-wheel yet when everyone else can. When she looks back at me to see my reaction…

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you.”The Push 3

When she gets stuck on a word as she’s learning to read, and a wave of frustration takes over her beautiful face …the all too recognizable, “I’ll just never get this right,” tears…

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you.”

Encouragement is found in the push to pray. He is right there. Already knowing, and ready to embrace me in my frustration of simply being human. Jesus, in His perfect way …says,

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you. Reach…”

It’s easy to confuse the alienation of this world with feeling hopeless and alone. Jesus allows us the opposite privilege. Let go, and let Him. #neveralone

Happy Summer!

Megs

 

 

 

 

Stay encouraged!

The Eagle and The Ice

“How do I help my kid do a cartwheel?” These are the things that I Google while my butt conforms to the stiff waiting room chair at the dance studio. “The hardest part is overcoming the fear of falling in order to take that first leap forward,” said a sweet personal trainer via YouTube.

“I almost got it, today, Mom!” Brianne exclaimed, floating out on a cloud of accomplishment. “I just have to land on my feet, now!”

Isn’t that what makes a cartwheel a cartwheel? The landing? Lacking the heart to dampen her demeanor, I harbored that thought between my own ears as I flipped through my old motivational “coach” file for some sage inspiration. Visualization made the most sense, so I sequestered that subject through a surge of giggles at bedtime.

“Before you go to bed every night, close your eyes and picture yourself doing cartwheels…” I launched, “…picture yourself landing on your feet, and then picture your teacher being so proud, and the other girls cheering you on.”

“I can’t make myself picture myself…I don’t know how to do that,” she stated, “I can only see myself falling.”

It takes effort to intentionally direct our thoughts, but in order to achieve any task, it has to exist accomplished in our minds. To let the distance coach out for a moment, “To achieve, ya gotta believe.”

Take the time to quiet your mind so that God’s message doesn’t get lost in the static.

The devil would love for the “I can’t” reel to keep playing in your mind, and it’s hard to shut him down when we “haven’t” yet. God gives us the ability to imagine the uncharted to lend us a vision of His goal.

Easier said than done. There’s a lot of static…mixed signals…off days…

“WWWWAAAAAAA….Good Morning!” I managed to giggle out as I recovered from being scared half to death. A runner strode off down the pier, gliding along the  edge next to the freshly frozen layer a-top the river, and I was extremely jealous. Hillsong praising God in my ears, I determined to look onward and upward and walk on instead of letting my thoughts drift to my injured Achilles, and perpetually onto wallowing over the ninth month sans running from there.

And as I looked up and off in the distance toward the edge of the pier, I saw something swoop up and over the lighthouse…cruise the surface of the ice, and then careen back up into the air with one flap of an enormous wingspan. That’s why the normal flock of birds had cut their cackling coffee hour short. The grand bald eagle was out to hunt. I’d never seen him out there before.

Jaw dropped and smiling at the sight of his enormity, I fumbled as my frozen joints failed me in unzipping my pocket for my phone. “Have a nice day!” I waved as the runner passed by me on his way back to shore, and I wondered if he’d taken the time to notice the white feathers against the dim winter horizon. I de-gloved my hands to swipe open my camera app …but when I looked up, he was gone.

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I knew God had meant to encourage me in response to my request for a light to pierce through the fog of this season of doubt and fear. But wondered over the significance of the eagle’s sudden absence. A Word from my thoughts popped in over my ear buds.

“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.” Romans 14:22a

Some things are just meant to be between me and God. Anyone else might think I’m batty for making such a big deal over a bird. But me and God know why.

I craned my neck at the lighthouse a few times on my way back to shore, but the eagle still wasn’t there. I predictably pondered the significance of it over my typical inspiration drawn from the picturesque, lake-life setting. Irritated not to snap a digital reminder, I tried to associate God’s message to a memory. I flipped through thoughts of the sparkly gold eagle Christmas ornament I’d gotten in honor of my alumni status as an Ashland University Eagle, and onto memories of Tuffy our Eagle mascot.

My mind whirred to a stop as I pictured a picture. My favorite picture. With some of my imagefavorite people. That’s my Kate, on the right, whom God granted an instrumental part in Jesus winning my heart. It was there, on that campus, during that workout, at that field, that my life changed forever. I stopped running as abruptly as Elsa hit’s the ice at the end of Frozen when her sister Ana freezes solid. On my knees in rocky seas, I rescinded the helm to Jesus, who trimmed out hull so that I could take the waves on at the right angle. I’ve believed in Christ everyday of my life, but I knew that something significant was lit in that moment.

God brings the memory of light to life in face of impending death.

Like an eagle amidst the ice, dousing the doubt that threatened to put a dream to death. Don’t doubt the moment Jesus took the helm. And if you do, ask God to confirm it. He is faithful, and He will. But don’t miss it.

The Message version of Roman’s 14:22-23 puts it this way:
“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe-some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them- then you know your out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.”

It’s in the moments of doubt and anticipated failure that we need to look inward to God in prayer, and watch outward for Him to answer. God unveils His encouragement through His creation.

The next time your doubt tries to debilitate your ability to visualize God’s affirmation of His call on your life, try these methods to calm your madness:

1. When in doubt, stop and think. Look up and out for God. Step out of your situation and into His creation. Exodus 13:21-22 tells of a pillar of cloud send to guide the Israelites out of Egypt. That pillar of cloud never left them. Read Chapter 13 sometime for the whole story, but the part that fascinates me, is that in the famous scene where Moses parted the Red Sea, the angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud moved behind the people.(v.19) God reveals Himself through His creation. I look for God in the sky, and He meets me there.

2. Pray out your confusion, hurt, and frustration in authenticity to God; He WILL swoop down. Stay in His Word so your mind doesn’t get stagnant. He will find you there often with a Word of encouragement. You might find direction from a friend…maybe you have a Kate, too. Above all, when you are unsure, be sure to remain in His love. John 15:9

3. Line up all you see with all He is. As you seek Him, His voice will become audible to your heart.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”            Isaiah 43:1b

We are His creation, and God uses the five senses that He instilled in us to allow us to experience the majesty He created for us.

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Winter is cold, but it sure is cool.

In the stark void of warmth, the light that permeates is brighter than the summer sun when reflected off the sparkle of snow. Don’t let a seven degree morning hold you back from witnessing the encouragement God has folded into the day for you. And don’t let doubt debilitate your ability to visualize the landing. It’s the difference between life and death.

Happy Living,

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Heart Cloud

The habit of holding on prevents our stumble down the stairs,  but falling is not failing.
“Mmmmmmmmoooooommmmmmmm,” Brianne wailed, through broken breaths of crying…”Oooooowwwwwwweeeeee.”

Happens at least once a week. One of them falls down the stairs, and I’m greeted by Brianne’s cry of shock, or Lo running to me out of breath and holding her butt. I’m used to the routine of hurried footsteps followed by awkward clunking…

Despite my best efforts to educate and warn, my little Lo will come flying around the corner high-kneed and stomach punched often enough to warrant her own hashtag. Her crash down the staircase is often prefaced by a symphony of Ty eye-ball plinks as they reach the first floor first.

I caught an interesting directive falling out of my mouth as I held a sobbing Brianne after her latest tumble down the stairs.

“Hold on to the railing,” I begged her, “You’re too precious to fall.”

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How many times do we want to bolt up a railing for kids to hold on to …thinking they’ll surely recognize, appreciate, and grip it tight, preventing a nasty fall. But they don’t. Three reasons why:

1. They don’t recognize it when they need it because they weren’t paying attention to something they didn’t need at the time.

2. They don’t appreciate the love and care bolted into the wall of protective measures we surround them with, because they don’t understand why it’s necessary.

3. They don’t grip it in swallowed pride when they are about to fall down the stairs, because they don’t think our protections are as necessary for them as they are for us.

Down the stairs they tumble …and we’re helpless as our precious babes fall.

“I told you so.”

“Why didn’t you hold onto the railing?”

“We talked about this.”

I used to frustrate my face into a fury over their lack of listening skills, until I tumbled down the stairs with the vacuum cleaner one day.

“Well, that was stupid,” I said to myself out loud in an empty house.

God revealed a few things through the railing:

1. Falling isn’t failing.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from being conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh…”    2Corinthians 12:7

The apostle Paul was clever to point out that our imperfections and insults to injury are what keep us in check with reality. And reality is, God knows we all need something to hold on to. Just because we let go doesn’t mean we give up.

2. The railing is Jesus.

“For through Him we now have access to the Father by one Spirit.”-Ephesians 2:18

God has bolted His Son to our hearts, that we may access Him through prayer, The Word, and the Holy Spirit. The access is there for the acceptance. I’m no better than my daughters at holding on to the railing, but

God doesn’t punish me every time I fall down the stairs. Don’t you punish yourself, either.

 He is not waiting at the bottom with an “I told you so,” or a “well, that was stupid.” No, He’s waiting at the bottom, already knowing how much it hurt. Because of Jesus, God says,

“It’s not too late, grab the railing and pull yourself up.”

3. Jesus knows that life is difficult…that’s why He put the railing there in the first place. He died for us… He’s not going to give up, even when we let go.

“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses…” Hebrews 4:15

Jesus felt what we feel, “yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) He was tempted, but never failed. The railing is there, but He knows we’re not God. We’re to have faith, not be perfect.

4. He watches out for us.

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

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Often when I’m out walking in the morning, I can’t help but feel God’s warmth in the beginning of a new day. The sky is so much prettier in the morning, after it pierces through the darkness of night. I look for God in that sky, and He meets me there. Day after day, railing still securely bolted to the wall of the staircase.

“My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart.”   Psalm 108:1

Through Jesus we can come to the Father and receive grace.  A God who cares for us, watches out for us, and forgives us. “Hold on to the railing…you’re too precious to fall.”  But when you do, I hope you know, He’s with you.

Hold on tight, but don’t forget to look up.

Happy Stair-climbing…

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Mirrors

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The battle of reflection is won in Jesus.

My daughters are obsessed with the bathroom mirror, especially when the clock is racing at opposite ends of the day. Apparently, that appears to be the perfect time to substitute a toothbrush for a microphone, and a step-stool for a stage.

If you need a little bit of sunshine to belly laugh your way through the morning routine, try creeping up on your kid while they’re in the middle of a ballad. … Better yet, try catching a bit on film …

“MOM!!!” my daughter screamed as she fell off of the stool wide-eyed and landed in a panic half-way across the bathroom.

My legs buckled in laughter, and mind flooded with reflections of my own lip sync grandeur.

“Oh-my-goodness!” I replied. “Are you OK?”

“Mom,” she whinnied, red-faced, “erase that video right now.”

Their obsession with the mirror has resulted in a lot of early morning laps run around the yard (their punishment for breaking a house rule) from territorial struggles over air-time on the bathroom stage. It’s going to make them late for school one day …  I just hope it doesn’t distract them from pursuing their purpose.IMG_8953

Mirrors resemble bullets shot, and childhood wounds turned scars … collaborating in the dusty corners of my mind.

“Look at her elbows!”  Before I was laughed out of cheer-leading tryouts at my Catholic grade school, I didn’t even realize my elbows hyper-extended.

“You’re  fat.” Every woman faces it, mocked or not, and the age at which we risk becoming slave to it gets younger and younger…

“You’re flat!” And with that, this small-chested girl’s self-esteem took a defeating nose dive.  I was twelve.

Thankfully, Jesus grabbed my heart at an early age, and turned me into a product of prayer enabled to overcome the pain of reflection with laughter and silliness. Jesus gave me a crash course in His creative vision for my reflection.

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The scars slowly became sentiments I learned to disregard, rather than lose precious minutes to a mirror haunted by comparison. Exercising a heart of encouragement, I stick motivational quotes, pictures, stickers,  and necklaces my daughters have made in the spaces that surround my reflection.  A recent discovery illuminated the humor within my inspirations to distract me from a self-destructing glance.

I believe with all of my heart that God gifted us sarcasm because He has mastered it, possessing a gut breaking sense of humor.

When my daughter gave me a pat on the belly (after I’d just been training for a marathon) and told me it looked like I had another baby in there, I purposefully pushed back the lump in my throat and responded by making my belly talk in a high pitched voice until we were all rolling on the ground laughing.

A powerful rendering I can gift my daughters is the vagueness of reflection. To have them grow up without purposefully picking a part their appearance would answer a ginormous prayer. I’m raising them to be active beings and healthy eaters … and to love dessert.

I try not to let my weight control my reflection, by leaving it out of conversation.  I don’t own a scale, but I’m aware of how my pants fit … that’s enough.  I’m a runner because it’s a passion God lent to me…but it’s not driven by the result of how it affects my physical appearance.

Why… and HOW?  No, I’m not superhuman.  But I know someone who is.

I give it up, and I lift it up everyday in prayer…and God is faithful.  

In down times when injury halts my strides, the challenge to embrace the obvious scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Late Night Dough that overflows from the top of my skinnies heightens exponentially.  But I remain faithful in prayer, and I repeat what I know to be true.  It takes this girl a conscious effort to embrace the reflection. To be able to balance taking care of the body God gave me less becoming so obsessed with the bullets whirring past the echoes of my mind’s ears. image

The hope I ascertain for my daughters is that the mirror won’t represent suffering and wasted minutes drowned in vanity …hours lost in worthless lament … days forgone in self-torture projected by another soul’s insecurities.  I pray they quarantine the precious minutes of life to achieve God’s purpose- and laugh…

“You need to be reminded of the power of imagination,” graced the words of Steven Furtick a midst my morning inbox devotions. “Your imagination is the incubation place for every great thing you’ll ever think,” he continued.

That same morning I flipped over to First 5, and Whitney Capps had written, “Can we accept Jesus’ authority even if it doesn’t look like we though it would?”

The cycle stops with me, in hopes that my daughters’ imaginations won’t be suffocated by perceived reflection; but rather, led by the dreams they harvest there.  It’s an impossible task that I am not built to achieve alone. I know that Jesus will grab my hand whether I’m running a marathon or buried in my books…and I in return will aim to honor Him and His sacrifice with every shred of my being, no matter which I’m blessed to be in midst of.

“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  Colossians 3:12

Happy Reflecting…

Megs

AND REMEMBER…  “Be joyful always.” 1Thes. 5:16

Stay encouraged!

The Iced Cube Tray and The Lemon Seed

IMG_6842When I fear there is no way and no room, God squeezes encouragement into the treasured places of my heart.

Boy do I love to shop in bulk.  Less trips to the store equals fewer times that I’m required to take two children with me that think they need everything that can be given a bar code and stocked on a shelf. I cherished the last stock-up so much that I couldn’t see over my cart.  At the sight of me drenched in sweat from hauling it to the front of the store, the cashier asked,

“You fit this all in one cart?”

“Yep, but I can push two out…it’s OK,” I replied, laughing.

“Oh, good,” she laughed, “I’m glad you’re not opposed to the idea.”

The sense of achievement I felt as I drifted through the aisles checking things off of my grocery list faded to black when I opened up my freezer to assess the situation.

“Blast,” I said to myself…”one more box of waffles.”

Can I just spray some pixie dust in there and toss the waffles in, and just trust it’ll all work out?  That’s what Lo would do.  But she’s five.  And I’m not a fairy.

My eyes drifted over to the ice cube bin.

“I’ll just have to use the ice maker until we eat all of these waffles….” I self-comprised.

Life is full to the brim with these significant badges of motherhood. I’ve always been encouraged by the fact that each mother is picked specifically for the children she is tasked to raise.  For this mom called to “stay home,” the struggle to remain content in God’s promise came under fire the day I dropped my last my baby girl off at all-day Kindergarten.  I became restless, and started to let the door of the comparison trap creak to a close.

My daughters witness every reaction.  They ask loads of questions and demand explanations. They increase in beauty and brilliance with every passing day,  and my overwhelming and impossible responsibility to lead them follows suit.

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“Will they value their ability to inflict change upon the world if they only see me affect these four walls we live within?”
In these moments I rush to fill my cart up to the brim in panic, and attempt to shove extra waffles in the freezer…when instead I should be reminding myself of God’s promise. The tendency to add things to my life and my schedule in absence of my focus becomes tantalizing and tempting…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matthew 19:14)

God is a God of encouragement, and He will interrupt my meddling to nudge my heart in subtle situations. Like when my daughter grabbed  a paint brush and wrote “love” on a rain barrel…

“Doesn’t that make you proud?” Came the encouragement delivered from a friend.  Messaged received.  I’m not failing.

Those God-sent seeds of encouragement run a variable risk of floating to the bottom of my IMG_0019Tervis full of ice water no mater how proficient I become at extracting them with my lemon juice squeezer thingy.  But all is not lost, I end up sucking up a lemon seed up through the straw at least once every day.  And as I spit it into the sink, I think,

“Why on earth don’t they make the lemon squeezy thing big enough to catch all the seeds?!”

It drives me nuts, and I’m pretty sure I’ve swallowed enough seeds to have a lemony fresh forest growing in my abdomen somewhere.  My daughters are constantly spitting lemon seeds at me, but theirs are the kind that crunch between my teeth before I notice them swishing around a midst my swig of water.

“How do babies get in your belly… Why do people move… Why does it take so long to get ready for school in the morning (OK, that’s my question)… I miss kitty …  Do we come back as angels after we die… It’s too hard … Mom, you know that you are the one who is in charge of losing your temper, right?”

The seeds I allow to grow into lemony freshness are determined by the truth I align them with.

Paul encouraged Timothy to ” …hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, known from whom you learned [them]” -2Timothy 3:14. Timothy learned his faith from observing his mother, Eunice…who in turn learned her faith from observing her mother, Lois. (2Timothy 1:5).  

I am  already doing a better job than I think.

In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul reminds Timothy of his salvation in Jesus Christ, and the knowledge and treasures of the Word that have been stored in his heart since childhood.

God reverted my mind from spitting seeds to find room for the box of frozen waffles…in the ice cube bin.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (NIV),  So that the man of God may e complete an proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” -2Timoty 3:16-17 (AMP)

It was there all along…I just didn’t see it.  Seeing the space doesn’t always eliminate the frustration of wanting to live up to something that requires more than I feel built to deliver…but it’s a comfort.  Life’s going to spit lemon seeds at me at a rapid rate until my time here expires. I can’t prevent that from happening to me or my children.  And through the tears that are simply a product of the journey, I keep moving.  I keep praying.  I keep looking for more space.  I look to God’s Word.  I pray for His help.

To grow. To learn. To love.

IMG_7117To be the best mom than I can humanly manage to be on this day, and trust in the journey He has set up to be mine alone.  Did you know that a monarch chrysalis has a shimmer of gold on it?  I didn’t either, until I took a hike with my kids in the woods.  What an amazing fight that butterfly has to go through just to become a butterfly…and one of the most beautiful at that, if you ask me.  Kids have a way of stopping us mid-battle to reflect back on a beautiful moment.

I wonder on lots of day if I’ve done it right…tried hard enough…been smart enough…set the right example…but I realize even if I reached the bar I’d then, in turn, reach for a higher rung.  Being content in the journey is anything but easy, but having faith in my Lord is.

It’s a joyful struggle.  It’s a worthy fight.  It’s a purpose I’ll fully understand one day beyond the stars.

Happy Cart-pushing…

Megs

“Point your kids in the right direction- when they’re old they won’t be lost.” -Proverbs 22:6 (MSG)

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!