The Dance Shoes (#jammed daily devo, day 91)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 91: Always the right fit.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:14-15

The mailman ditched an over-stuffed white envelope into my mailbox, and onto my image-91ballerina’s feet the shoes went …for about two seconds. Too big …again.

“But I ordered a half size bigger than the ones that were too small!” I shared with a mom in the studio waiting room, “I am so confused!” 

Trying to find the right shoes for a decent price is very “holy grail-ish.”Guiding my daughters in a competitive sport has been a great lesson in faith. “Am I pushing too hard?” “Are they learning how to honor commitment?” “How do I teach them the importance of hard work without being too hard on them?” …and that’s just the pressure I put on myself.

Parents face many voices that attempt to convince, pressure, size-up, and compare them …and their children. It’s important to let God’s voice drown them all out. He created each of us differently, but lent the same Truth to guide us. In His living Word, we find His guidance, direction, and assurance. 

Today’s verses assure us that when we are walking in faith, our heals will not slip. Jesus walks with us, not someone we’re supposed to be or will become. The way to protect ourselves, and our children, from the comparative pressure of competition is to follow the instructions in Ephesians 6:14-15. Stand firm in the Word. He will defend us, and prepare us.

“Fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,” ensures us that when we chase after Him, it’s a perfect fit every time …and we feel peace. Not just relief, but the peace that Jesus when to the cross to grace us with.

 My job as a mom is to make sure that I prayerfully consider whether the path my daughters’ are on will lead to His feet. Throughout all of the doubt that I’ve dealt with over the years, our dance family has been His evidence that we are on that “right path.” In a sea of pressure and drama, we somehow walked into a family. My girls glide across the stage to the tune of genuine support. Not just of their dance, but for who they are.

jammed-click-to-tweetI’m still trying to figure out how to order dance shoes for my daughters without ending up with a pile of shoes no one can use, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re on the right path.

Father, Praise You for fitting us perfectly in our shoes …in our lives. Thank You for placing people around us to encourage us for who we truly are …not who they want us or wish us to be. Forgive us for pushing others to be who they are not, and casting judgement on those who simply don’t know any better. Bless us to love those put close to us, and encourage them to stay in their lane as we hold tight to Your hand. 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 Shoe-fitting,

Megs

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

Stay encouraged!

The Daddy Dolphin (#jammed daily devo, day 36)

February #jammed: Dunked in Grace 

Day 36: Grace will carry us when we can’t carry on.

“And a Voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:17post-image36

The hours my husband works are long, and his days off are few. It’s a joy to watch him make up for every lost minute with our two daughters on family vacations. Something wired within their hearts already understands that time with him is fleeting and precious.

“Mommy, watch!” my daughter yelled from the water. “It’s Daddy Dolphin!”

I watched as she climbed onto her daddy’s back, and held on tight as they both dove under the water and swam to the other side. Both surfaces with big smiles. A father’s protective guard over his daughter is precious to behold.

Matthew tells the story of God’s reaction to His Son’s baptism in today’s verse. A proud Father, fiercely protective, Creator of all, “well-pleased.” I picture the reaction of the crowd …of John the Baptist …as the sky opened up and God spoke! It might have been too much for some to process!

He would forsake His Son …on the cross …for us. His Son, “whom I love.” God is love. That’s a powerful statement, and magnificent moment stitched in time.

To breath underwater we need Jesus to flow in our hearts. Only then are we washed in forgiveness and bathed in the presence of God.  Christ died so we can hold onto Him, knowing our Father can carry us to the other side.

jammed-tweet-blueFather, You are so faithful to show us Your love through Your Son’s baptism. Thank you for  sacrificing Him for our sake, so that we may hold onto You all the way to heaven. We confess that the immediacy of this world sometimes trumps our souls’ final destination. Forgive us, and bless us with Christ seeking hearts all the day of our lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your favorite memory with your dad? Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Swimming,

Megs

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

Stay encouraged!

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

 

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

 

 

Stay encouraged!

The Intentional Compliment

“I’m weird,” my girl sighed. “I don’t always feel like I fit in here.”

I launched into the infamous “God made you perfect” speech through a lump in my throat …but I knew very well it wouldn’t single-handedly cure the eight-year-old aches.

It’s OK, Mom…I’m weird,” she continued, “it’s a good weird.”

My daughter has the same potential as all other girls to have highly dramatic and face-twisting over-rations, but I love who she is. A Jedi, a wizard, a thrift-rack surfer. With a book in her hand and a never-ending eight-count to her step, she’s in love with laughing…  and I’m fiercely protective of her adopting any shred of the insecurity and comparison that fight me.

On the cusp of the “awkward” years, I’m keenly aware that the validity of my opinion on just about everything is about to drop off dramatically. Now is the time to intentionally buoy her light bright, to bob unscathed amidst an egocentric society.

Know love to love.

“God is love.” 1John4:16b

ic-1It’s not the happy ending of a rom-com or the heart flutter when Justin Bieber takes the stage … God is love. He loves perfectly, and He loves us whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not …and regardless of what we do or do not do. Built in His image, we’re programmed to love.

” Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God. ” 1John 4:7-8

Discipline and consequences are necessary to raise healthy humans, but overly harsh ic-4criticism is not. If I look for ways to build my kids up in love, they will look for a way to do so for others.

Yes, it’s annoying when cereal and milk is spilled all over the floor, but insults don’t have to be built into my reaction. No, she doesn’t match perfectly all of the time, but killing her creative spirit and hurting her feelings over an outfit she’s proud of isn’t going to build confidence. I’m a big proponent of apologizing to my kids …mostly because of the mistakes I make.

Kids have to know that they are God’s children entrusted to us, and that He loves them perfectly even when we do not. In acknowledging God sovereignty, we learn what it means to be loved.

Look to love for how to love.

“Brianne, I want you to find something nice to say to ___ today,” I instructed my eight ic-2year old.

“Why?” she asked with an ever-so-charming look that could fry an an ant five miles away.

“Because…”

 Why? How do I convince her to love on others when she’s mainly concerned about getting through elementary school without becoming a target, herself?

In the grown up world, the same struggle is manifested daily through social media. I deactivated my account when I lost the ability to look into the mirror confidently.  It was freeing, not knowing what everyone was doing all of the time. But then I sat in church, and felt like a wimp hiding in the corner.

“This is the culture we are called to reach,” Pastor preached.

I sighed out loud. Come on, Jesus … really? There?

To walk in love is to walk with Jesus …wherever. God sent Him here to walk out love on earth, and we’re called to at least try.  I don’t want to go out of my comfort zone any more than my daughter does. Jesus, without qualifying people or weighing what He would have to sacrifice, just loved on people. And when we follow His lead, we learn how to love.

“I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You’ll find no wrong motives in Me.” John 7:16

ic-3Yes… I want to be like that.

“Did you tell ____ what I told you to?” I followed up…

“Yep,” she said, beaming.

“Felt good, didn’t it?” I asked.

“It really did, mom …and I’m going to make sure _____ is OK at school from now on.”

I’m back on Facebook …and it bothers me most of the time. It’s a lot easier for me to turn it off and walk away …but that’s not the mission. Just as I teach Brianne to look for peers that need love, I need to look where my peers are to do the same.

Intentionally turn out to face your circle.  Look for ways to love. Hashtag it. Love it. Share it.  #wherever

ic-5

All it takes is a scan of the hurt that surrounds to remind me of how precious and fleeting time with my girl is.  I pray I’m able to fill those minutes with the knowledge of God’s love and the example of it that Jesus lived. True love lived out in her life will allow her light to shine amidst the storms that await.

Unlike my experience as a hometown Cleveland girl and sports fan …love winning in the end is a sure thing.

Happy Complimenting!!

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.”

image

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

image

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 other side.

Ahhh, the beginning of Track season.  32 degrees, but the sun was out and the wind was dead.  “Shorts and T-Shirt” weather, as one of our brightest observed.  My view of the track has always been linked closely with pain…and joy…and hurt…and triumph…and nausea…and pride…and…well, you get the picture.

From the other side of the track as a volunteer coach,  I recalled my initiation into track at fifteen. A green pea, I thought over a decade of ballet wold lend me the coordination and speed it took to be a hurdler.  Yet, I took notice of how much fun the distance runners had out on their runs… and I fell over a lot of hurdles.  

I laughed as some of our Cross Country runners deserted the distance crew to be sprinters, and wondered what painful episode caused the sudden change in heart.

Quickly pulled back to reality by my run-away child, I caught the glance of every non-parent in the weight room as she stumbled hazardly through bars and leg press machines.

Practice rolled on, and I fed my 8 month old a bottle while attempting to coax my stubborn ‘almost-3” year old down from the bleachers, I collected goals and last week’s mileage from the distance runners.   Learn new names, calculate workout paces, establish new goals…and chase after my 3 year old who believes with all her little heart that she can keep up with the ‘runners’ as they exit the track to log some miles.

The thrill of the “chase” made me question my motives,  Why coach?  Why drag my 2 kids up to the track?

Truth?  Track is a piece of me.  My little peepsters misbehave and make the experience a wonderful combination of gut wrenching and embarrassment on some days, but being at the track never was a completely comforting experience.

I had drifted towards distance runners, just like I had at fifteen.

I always wonder how people know what their passion is.  (Little kids on American Idol that say they’ve known since they were 2 they wanted to sing.)  Perhaps it’s just what you gravitate to….what you love so much that any pain that goes along with it is overshadowed by the triumphs.

Maybe my daughters will learn to love distance running and it’s masochistic ways, too.  If not in running than in something that they question why they love, until they are out there in it. I’m trying to instill an experience in them that will help shape their determination, by simply showing them who I am.  I might not have it all figured out yet, but maybe that’s a good thing to accept early on in parenting.

Practice isn’t perfect, but it can make it.

Happy Track Season,

Megs

Stay encouraged!