The Holly and the Ivy (#jammed daily devo, day 348)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 348: Rivalry.

“A true friend is closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Ivy is a climbing vine. Holly is a tree or shrub. I will never hear the “Holly and the Ivy” DECJAM14carol the same way after bearing witness to my two oppositely gifted daughters and their unspeakably close friendship.

David and Jonathan’s friendship is highlighted in this verse. There is something that even they knew, comparing it to something even greater than sibling-ship.

I have a strand of ivy living my house that climbs all over the place. She branches off and takes initiative. She is strong and able and uneasily rattled. As she grows up, the vast depth of her giant heart for Jesus and others is comes into view. I find prayers for others in her desk drawer, and when she says she’s going to “do something about it,” that’s code for, “I”m going to pray about it and I know God hears me.” She is the carefree joy that a child of Christ personifies.

My holly tree, on the other hand, put down strong roots fast. She knows who she is and what she loves and where she’s going …and she’s in absolutely no hurry to get there. We can try to move her along faster or into a different spot where theirs more shade or sun ..but there’s no moving her. She knows Jesus loves her for who she is right now, and has a purpose for her that she can’t derail …so she’s in no hurry …I mean NO HURRY …to get anywhere at all …ever. She calls her friends or writes them notes, and takes on the hurt of others that don’t even know she’s looking out for them.

The friendship between sisters is different than other friendships. They don’t need to talk who they are, they just sit alongside each other the way they are. They are so drastically different, yet both love Jesus so much. They reveal to me how much He loves us all for the way we are. So different. Yet so smashed together for a reason. 

We’re the holly to someone’s ivy, and visa versa. This Christmas, when we’re checking our list twice and stressing out about the Holiday hoopla …who can we add that needs to know they show Him to us?

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for sisterly friendship, and the lessons that we learn from observing them. Thank you for placing us in our families so purposefully, and forgive for taking that for granted. Bless our hearts with the love we need to reach out to siblings and friends this Christmas. 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 Sibling-ing,

Megs

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The Bossy Cow (#jammed daily devo, day 320)

November #jammed: Gracious.

Day 320: Thankful for my friend.

“A friend loves at all times.” Psalm 17:17 (NIV)

Side by side, with our arms up in the air and our souls light under the weight of His 320presence, we sang praise to the One at the core of our lives …and our friendship. The older I get, the more I realize how rare it is to find a friend to seek Christ with throughout life. Someone who meets my enthusiasm with excitement and encourages me in my faith. We share a thousand inside jokes like the one in today’s title.

Friendship can fleet and fade over the years, but ours seems to grow stronger still with time. We’ve both been through hard times and trials, and our friendship has been God’s way to hug us through some things that no one else could. We became AU Eagle teammates twenty years ago, and we’ve not stopped laughing for much since then. She took me to FCA, where I began to study the Bible and connect with my faith and my Father like never before. I have confidence in our friendship because He brought us together.

A true friend loves regardless of the situation,
    and a real brother exists to share the tough times.” Psalm 17:17 (VOICE)

My life was riddled with wrong choices in those collegiate years, and afterwards I continued to chase after anyone’s plans for my life but His. But Kate was there for me when I wanted to disappear from my past and everyone in it in the wake of my divorce. Looking for me, searching for me, and never giving up on me …she found me and pulled me back to face what wasn’t going to disappear. Over ice cream, we’ve built so many bridges back to Him …in search of Him.

Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Psalm 17:17 (MESSAGE)

When she suffered from post partum depression, we sought Him together through it. Prayed her through and praised her entry back into the light …and full night’s sleep …and her first marathon. Through the storms of married life and motherhood that He has pulled us through, and the rock of our joy that He is after every trial …we sang side by side that day. The people God places in our lives are not always blood-related, but they do become our Christian family. They are the people who build us up in Him, so that we can be better people to everyone else.

“A friend is always loyal.” Psalm 17:17 (NLT)

It’s not good to go through life alone, and because Kate is my friend …I know God has given me someone on this earth that will be my voice of reason. She will pray me through the troughs in the waves, and laugh with me eternally in this life and the next.

There are few things greater, and more heart filling and soul soothing, than a God-placed friend. It’s the closest thing to Jesus’ loyalty and love that we get to feel on this earth. We took a road trip recently, to the Outcry Tour, and stopped talking only to worship and sleep. In all of my efforts to be friends with everyone …Kate, you have been the friend that has taught me the most about what true friendship is. Thank you for being my friend …through all of my craziness and all my bad choices. Here’s to an eternity of laughter.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for the friends You place our lives. Thank You for my Kate. Your Kate. Bless our friendship to honor You always, and our lives to reflect Your Son …our King …Jesus. 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 “Thankful for Kate” Day,

Megs

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The Crossfire (#jammed daily devo, day 313)

November #jammed: Gracious.

Day 313: Thankful for friends.

You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. 1 Corinthians 5:11 (MSG)

“I just don’t have respect for Christians that drink.”313

So much for sharing a casual drink among friends.

“It’s judgmental not to hang out with people just because they drink or swear.”

Anyone else feel like a friendship yo-yo at times?

It’s not our place to judge anyone, but especially not in our line of duty to lace words into ears that are not ready to hear. Only God can soften hearts. However, today’s verse addresses an aspect of Christian friendship that the non-confrontational soul in me wants to scatter and run from.

It’s uncomfortable to check someone else’s behavior. Especially for Christians! Who are we to judge? We certainly don’t want our mistakes drug out into the light, so why is it our job to correct our Christian friends? Paul explains it best in the Message translation of today’s verse in context with the verses that surround it.

 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that!

But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory.

You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior.

I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house. 1 Corinthian 5:9-13 (MESSAGE)

It’s a lot, and it seems really judgmental and hypocritical on the surface, which is why it’s a terrifying thing to stand up for what we believe in. But as the famous saying states …if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Take these verses into the mirror first, and then to prayer. God promises to give us the words we need when we need them.

Ignoring the sin actually makes the lives of the sinners worse. -VOICE notes

Life isn’t always about understanding things, and our perspective sight doesn’t always allow us a view as to why God asks certain things of us. But we can trust His intentions are always good.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for godly friendship. Thank You for the friendships we are blessed with in this life where we don’t have to worry about being judged for who we are in You. Forgive us for judging others, and for not standing up for what we believe in because of peer pressure. Help us to be strong and firm in our faith.  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 Friending,

Megs

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The Little Quarrels (#jammed daily devo, day 192)

July #jammed: Grace serves.

Day 192: One foot in.

“Give us a king to lead us.” 1 Samuel 8:6July 11

God’s people never needed a king …they had God. They often failed to see how set a part they were always supposed to be. Samuel is fielding this request, and he tries his best to persuade the people otherwise. But, they would not be deterred. They really wanted a king like everyone else. They really wanted to be like everyone else.

A similar shortage of self-worth is played out on playgrounds every day. Childhood can be very much about who we fit in with unless we are on a mission to let it be otherwise. As parents, we can’t protect them from every setback and harsh word spoken, but helping them navigate through misunderstanding with kindness is key to keeping them set a part.

Just like Israel misconstrued, we shouldn’t assume that life within “that” group is so much easier. We don’t understand why they don’t ask us to play and try to change so that they will. It’s OK to admit. It’s human nature. In fact, that’s pride rearing it’s ugly head in warning.

When guiding kids through friendship, I believe with all of my heart that kindness and forgiveness come first …even if it leaves us feeling momentarily defenseless.

God is bigger. He tells us that He will defend us …fight our battles and be there for us. He hears our cries, and tells us to love above all else. Teaching children how loved they are for who they are, and how to hand friendship over to God in prayer, allows them the opportunity to trust their King, instead of looking for affirmation elsewhere.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for parenthood. Thank You for leading and guiding us as parents, and as friends, ourselves. Forgive us for rising up in anger when we are wronged, and remind us to bring every situation to You 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 Friend-ing

Megs

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The Step Back. (#jammed daily devo, day 191)

July #jammed: Grace serves.

Day 191: Space to breathe.

 Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know July 10better.” 1 Peter 1:13

“Are  you ready to go?!” I excitedly asked my toddlers.

“YAAAAYYYY!!!!” and off we went to meet up with friends for a day of fun in the sun.

Or, so we thought.

No replies all morning, I had a sneaking suspicion that we were being ignored. Ditched, even. Hoping the lack of reply on the other meant a silenced ringer or a dead phone, we headed off to the planned meeting spot anyway. Every suspicion I’d had was right, and then some.

“Mom, there they are! Right over there!”

I took a deep breath and walked over to join, where we all felt the sting I feared. Rejection. My daughter walked up to me with tears in her eyes, and we both cried all the way home. I somehow thought life would be different in the grown-up world  …but I was wrong. And it stung.

Today’s verse is a stark reminder of what to do when we feel worldly pain like my daughter and I did that day. First, forgive. Without even thinking about it. And then, we ask God  how to guard the hearts.

Walking with Jesus changes us, but it doesn’t drag everyone else along with us. There will be times when, no matter how much we want to be friends with everyone …and believe me, no one wants that more than me …we have to handle conflict and allow our hearts space to heal.

What I learned that day, and continue to learn from every reoccurring experience like it, is that rejection won’t crush me or kill me. In fact, it brings me closer to Jesus. We will often spend our whole lives looking for someone as dependable and reliable and loving and compassionate as He is. We will never find that person. He is it. The One that shouldered the cross is the only one capable of cradling our hearts.

So all of the coffee dates unhonored, dinners ditched out of, and unreturned messages are not in vain. Loving people is never wrong, and neither is forgiveness. But the hurt leaves a little bit of a scar after the wound heals. One to remind us to prayerfully guard our hearts.

Take the space to welcome other faces. Be friends with everyone, but know who your Friend is.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for friendship. Thank You for the good and the hurt that comes from letting the guard of our hearts down. Forgive us for seeking solace in anyone other than You, and help us to know when we’ve earned some space. 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 Friend-ing

Megs

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

 

Stay encouraged!

The Dukes …Up. (#jammed daily devo, day 160)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 160: Grace defends.

“Still, the Lord is true to His promises; He will hold you up and guard you against the evil one.” 2Thessalonians 3:3June 9

“She did it on purpose.” she whispered through fresh tears.

“I know,” I commiserated, as I put my arm around my girl.

But it didn’t make her feel any better. She was still stinging with shock and hurt, dukes-up and ready to defend herself. When we’re hurt unjustly, a flood of entitled emotion threatens to steal our peace. It’s never easy to see our girls collapse into our arms in tears, but when they do, we have to reassure them that God is for them.

Bullying is an epidemic, and backsliding insults dealt with a touch of laughter leave us to wonder if there’s even a line to cross anymore. For those raising daughters, it can be a battlefield of over-dramatic bullets out on that grade-school play ground. Stay off of it, and in conversation with your girls about how to be friends as Jesus would.

He associated with anyone, the very Son of God being privy to the good knit in all of us at birth. Jesus was kind to people despite their dysfunction, and didn’t exploit their personality traits for a laugh. Though He was friendly to all, Jesus had a special group of close friends, more trusted than most. He told the apostles all the Father had told Him. He held Mary and Martha in a special place in His heart. His cousin, John the Baptist, was especially dear to Him.

Today’s verse promises us that God will defend us. He will strengthen us to be strong when we need to be strong, and uphold us in defense when we have been wronged. Christians are called to forgive as we have been forgiven, but we need to guard our hearts. Authentic friendship is trustworthy, and we …and our girls …need to know that when that trust is broken, friendship beyond forgiveness is not an obligation.

When faced with tough situations, we can pray with our daughters …and remind ourselves …to pray hard into those uncomfortable, betraying, and “left out” moments.

The evil one is after our children, and he’ll mess with their relationships just like he messes with ours. We must be careful not to let our hearts be hooked into the middle of every conflict, and remember to pause and pray until there is a peace about moving forward.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for defending us on life’s battlefield. Thank You for having our backs, and opening our eyes when we need to stand firm in Your Word. Forgive us for tolerating and accepting treatment that we know we are worth more than. Help us to operate in grace and embrace Your defense. 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 Dukes-Up,

Megs

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Stay encouraged!

The Little Treasures (#jammed daily devo, day 158)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 158: Grace’s Place.

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” John 10:10 (VOICE)June 7

“Mom!” my daughter warned, “you can’t look in this treasure box …you’ll just get mad.”

She’s right. I think collecting things off of the floor wherever we go is really gross. I’d probably get mad and start picking things out of there and throwing them away. But it’s her “treasure.”

It’s not all worthless, though, even through practical eyes. She has always found pennies on the ground where ever she goes. Even from the seat of her stroller she would yell, “WAIT!! MOMMY!!! PPPEEEENNNNNYYY!!!” And sure enough, a penny there always was. Maybe a piece of smashed gum once or twice ...oh, I better check that treasure box for that …

Today’s verse describes the thief’s malicious intent. Some thieves steel for the thrill or for the challenge, as a bi-product of addiction, or for survival …but not this thief. Satan seeks to steal what is precious to us, in order to destroy us.

malicious- intentionally harmful; spiteful.

Far worse than losing things that we can claim on our insurance policies, this idiot stirs up trouble in our relationships, our families, our parenting, our friendships, our marriages …our literal lives. We should be wary to pray into our relationships with the people that God has placed in our lives. Anytime there is conflict stirring, he is anxiously waiting to start picking things out …

God says, “It’s not good for man to be alone,” but he would love to leave us that way.

That’s not the way Jesus operates. When His hand is in a situation, he promises “life with joy and abundance.” I hold out hope that “abundance” means I can literally be friends with everyone, but ‘joy’ is the key word. It’s OK to extract ourselves from situations that the joy has been sucked out of. It’s, in fact, a good signal to pause and pray.

Pastor Steven Furtick puts it best, “enabling dysfunctional relationships is not the same as forgiveness,” and “forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.” In our search for how to handle things, let’s not hand them right over to the one that wants to wreck us.

In a society that pushes for answers and litigates the ever-living-life out of everyone and everything …prayer is a powerful way to shut it all down. Guard those precious to you, but don’t squeeze every relationship into a box. Let them all breathe in and out to His joyful and abundant rhythm.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for other people! Thank You for creating us to be social creatures instead of solitary beings. Forgive us for letting the thief stir up trouble in our lives, and help us to be wary and watchful to listen for Your guiding voice through the turmoil he attempts to cause in our lives. 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 Treasuring,

Megs

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The Lash Glue (#jammed daily devo, day 129)

May #jammed: Growing Grace.

Day 129: Invisible.

“Don’t eat with people who are stingy…” Proverbs 23:6(NLT)

The first lesson competition dance taught me, besides sticker shock, was fake eye-lashimage-129 application. It’s a lot more intimidating than it looks, and far easier than waving a mascara wand at a moving …flinching object. Still, the mistakes at the beginning were to be expected, and as I tried to slide those lashes into place I left a trail of gray glue.

A total new-bee to all things glued on …I picked up the gray glue instead of clear. Thank goodness for think, black eye-liner. I added a step because I didn’t pay enough attention to the first one …or get a little bit of an education on lash glue before I bought it. The gray stuff was probably cheaper. That’s what I get for being stingy.

Today’s verse defines a miser. A stingy person who says they are generous but isn’t heartfelt about sharing their wealth. The danger in this is dishonesty, and it’s bound to show up like a streak of gray lash-glue eventually.

They are always thinking about how much it costs.
    “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.” Proverbs 23:7 (NLT)

This not only addresses the whole issue of sharing wealth with each other in generosity, but I believe this can be applied to accumulating people in our lives. How often to we agree, or go along with, so not to make waves …or to be accepted? We do it way more often that we like to admit. We’re programmed to seek approval, and look for it from the wrong places. 

You’ll be sick and lose what little you did eat,
    and you’ll waste your breath carrying on a pleasant conversation.” Proverbs 23:8 (VOICE)

Jesus was honest and generous. Generosity shouldn’t stem from dishonesty or legalism. It should come from the heart. If we’re just being generous with our money, our time, or our friendship to gain something in return, then we should check our heart’s intentions with His Word.

How many times do we walk away from friendship disappointed, but can honestly say we got what was coming to us? When we tell our feelings to follow Jesus’ feet, we can be wise in giving of ourselves.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for the honesty of Your Word. Thank You for blessing us in this life, and forgive us for our lack of pure generosity. Bless us to give out of our heart for You, and not to our own agenda; and help us to be aware of frivolous attempts to redirect our gaze from Your eyes. 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 Un-misering,

Megs

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

Stay encouraged!