The Unavoidable Toil. (#jammed daily devo day 4)

January #jammed : Grace in Life’s Face

Day 4: Work Hard Without Working so Hard.

Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, singing,

 I didn’t realize was how much of a responsibility I would feel to the dreams thrown into my daughter’s hearts. Overkill is an understatement of the freight train that escapes my mouth before I can silence a ‘deserved’ lecture. The disciplinary balance between anointing them with lifetime laziness for leaving their laundry behind the bathroom door to picking up work to pay for their passions is often a space of five minutes.

“…how He overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you…
 Deuteronomy 11:4 (NIV)

Time constraints can strangle dreams unless we recognize our Author’s ability to stretch our minutes. The Israelites made everything harder than it had to be, even though God literally led them as a pillar of cloud each day and fire by night. He provided food for them, and respite from the Egyptian army as the sea swallowed them up. Hard work doesn’t have to be so hard.

But reason cannot grasp all that took place that day. When God’s covenant people were on the verge of extinction, God stepped in to fight for them. No one survived that day except by the miraculous grace of God. (Exodus 15:1 commentary, VOICE)

Jesus died for our freedom to walk in God’s grace through the effort to achieve the dream He planted there. We’re not promised a painless life, but joy and hope to endure reach onward past our goals and eventually home to His arms in heaven.

“God can see needs and hazards we can’t. He works to met our needs and protect us. We must trust that His way is best.” Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible.

Dreams require work. There’s no way around it. Lucky breaks happen in life, but when they hit unprepared hearts they fizzle out like fireworks. Just as An empathetic ear and the opportunity to fail often foster the most successful ownership of our children’s dreams, God is dabbing grace in the wings of the work we put forth to achieve ours.

Father, You are powerful to plant dreams in our hearts. Praise You for each light of hope we’re drawn to achieve in this life. Forgive us for overworking our abilities without tapping into Your strength. Forgive us for taking credit for talents You crafted, and bless our hearts to obediently follow Your will for our lives. For we know that is joyful work. In Jesus Name, Amen.

jammed-tweet-blueIs there something you are striving to achieve that exhausts all of your efforts …something that you should prayerfully ask for God’s gracious guidance to ease the load? Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy

Megs

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The Bucket. (#jammed daily devo, day 364)

December #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 364: Empty Buckets

“The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5

“What if I never actually surf,” I joked, “It’s a possibility!”DECJAM30

Monday morning Bible study prepares and leads me.

“What if God just wants to teach me something through the process of preparation?”

It’s a possibility. And it wouldn’t be the first time.

I’ve trained for a marathon before, making it through the last training run, but never to the starting line. The pain of injury, embarrassment, and discouragement was miraculously never able to overtake the lessons God laced into those faithful strides and Jesus-partnered miles.

Today’s verse reminds us what our buckets should be full of …Him.

Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.” Philippians 4:5-6 (VOICE)

It’s hard to keep our “gentle nature” when things are not going our way. There are things we want to be able to do, and when we can’t it’s frustrating. How do we attempt that seemingly impossible smile in the face of defeat?

“The Lord is ever present with us.”

Somehow we forget that He is there in our failed attempts, too. The discouragement we feel when we fail  is hard. But that’s not what it looks like from God’s point of view. We get so caught up in what we think it will look like to achieve the task He’s given us, that we forget to throw our timeline.

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything.”

How often do we do that? Stop and spin on our heals to pray. That’s not our natural reaction to failure. We limp due to our fractured state, and immediately melt down in self defeat. It can cause us to question everything about our dedication to God.

“Was I just a wimp?”

“Did I just quit …again?”

“Am I a quitter?”

“Maybe …” might be the response. “But I love you anyway, and I’m not worried about it.”

“He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.”

When we set new resolutions and goals every year, none are goals we don’t intend on achieving. If talk to God about our goals before rushing to fill in our brand new planners and calendars, He’s able to readjust our perception of what the deadline should be. A goal could linger on for a long time without a check mark or a line through it …but that doesn’t mean we’re not getting a little closer to it with each passing year.

The key to joy in this life is know that “the Lord is near.” To our victories and our failures. Through our pain and our celebration. Every time we check something off of our bucket list, He adds something else. The point of life isn’t to check everything off and then just sit around and wait to go to heaven. The creator of time is not in the business of wasting any of it.

WE are to be good stewards of our time, not looking forward to nothing left to do …but finding joy in the pursuit of holiness.

Each day He has something for us to do. If we do the best we can to see Him in it and to bring Him along on our daily journey, we’ll never look back and wonder what the purpose for any of it was. We may not understand it …but Jesus died for us to believe in Him …not to be perfect. He’s got that covered.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for bucket lists, and thank You for growing us through every goal an aspiration You plant in our hearts to achieve. We love You. Forgive for days when we feel like the cross isn’t enough. Bless us to live lives that reflect Your love, and Your Son. 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 Bucket Listing,

Megs

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The Right of Way (#jammed daily devo, day 34)

February #jammed: Dunked in Grace 

Day 34:  In a jam close to home.

“But a person who denies spiritual realities will not accept the things that come through the Spirit of God; they all sound like foolishness to him. He is incapable of grasping them because they are disseminated, discerned, and valued by the Spirit.” 1Corinthians 2:14 (VOICE)post-image-34

The plan is brilliant, really. We leave for the drive cross-country after dinner-time, and anticipate our arrival by lunchtime the next day. The kids sleep, the traffic is mute, and I’ve grown fond of witnessing the sunrise over an unfamiliar stretch of highway as I claim my space behind the wheel.

 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” 1Corinthians 2:14 (NLT)

This time, the navigation was silenced an hour away from our driveway. It was discouraging to hear the square screen on the dash confirm the delay we anticipated. My husband re-routed to avoid ice-covered roads and weaved around the flashing salt monsters as we made our way out of our home state.The beginning of the journey was nail-biting, but we only ended up two hours behind schedule on a 19-hour trip.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

Often, we we get tripped up so close to the start of things, it seems too discouraging to move forward at all. “Will the whole way be like this?” we ponder. So many dreams fall off that first cliff, never to be seen again. In an instant world, we have forgotten how to wait. The patience to endure a dream deferred is made of hard work and small steps of obedience.

 Success starts with a humble beginning and a long road. In the different translations of today’s verse, Paul teaches us that our ability does not determine the path of our dreams, our God does. When we walk with Christ, we see what we need to see to get to the dreams He desires for us …which are greater than anything we can ever imagine.

jammed-tweet-blueFather, Your will for our lives is perfect. We know this, because You are love and You love us. You want whats best for us, and for us to enjoy and be happy in this life. Thank You for creating happiness! Forgive us for overlooking it in search of something our hands are capable of crafting. Bless our lives with the loving embrace of Your Son, Jesus, and empower us to follow Him on the path to Your dreams for us …delays and all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

What’s the worst traffic jam you’ve ever been in? Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Traffic-Weaving,

Megs

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Stay encouraged!

The Birthdays.

IMG_7673One of my best girlfriends has a knack for remembering everyone’s birthday.  Has for years.  She’ll not only remember her friends birthdays, but their kids, too! I’m really lucky if I get my second daughter’s birthday and my wedding anniversary straight!  I don’t know what kind of steal trap you have for a brain, Christy, but you’ve inspired me to get my sh*&# together this year…I even bought a planner…and every time I write another birthday in it I think of you.  The thirties are great for friendships, aren’t they?  If you’ve done anything right at all…if you’ve experienced any little bit of life… and especially if you’ve produced little lives of your own…you have undoubtedly collected a group of girlfriends that you would die without…and frequently about pee laughing (mostly because of those little lives we created…for more reason than one…) with over crap we would have been mortified to share out loud a decade earlier.

Since I made a resolution to remember everyone’s birthday, I decided to drag my daughters into the mix, too.  Because kids that are 4 and 6 need to learn the value of making a New Year’s resolution, right?  Of course they do.  So, my little planner is filled with family and friends and my daughter’s friend’s birthdays.  I now realize that my kin might aim to be “friends with everybody” just like their mommy…how cute, right.  (It’s adorable…especially since stamps are so cheap right now.)

“See, Brianne…it’s somebody else’s birthday a few times each week…just from the people that are connected to our lives,” I explained.  “Isn’t that cool?”

“Where’s my birthday in there?” she responded.  “And I can have my birthday party at Skateworld this year, right?!?!?!”

Well, baby steps on the “let’s learn that everyday doesn’t revolve around me” lesson.  Guess we have all year to cement that one into their tiny little brains.

This New Year, I have a lot of resolutions.  Resolutions to get in shape, lead a healthier life, be a better mom…tons of self improvements that, realistically, I know may or may not cause immediate or lasting change.  But the hope of each new year, and each new…or refreshed…resolution, is an overall goal of being better and continuing accrue a little more wisdom with each passing year.

The difference in my resolve for 2015 is who I make these resolutions for.  Lots of times we resolve to better ourselves for the people in our lives.  For those around us, we try to be better people, so that we can soak up some positive feedback.  Addicting, isn’t it?  That positive feedback?

Well, maybe I just speak for me, but I somehow doubt it.  The biggest resolution is the one at the root of them all.  Who am I doing this for?  And what’s it going to do to and for me in the long run?  What am I changing…and why?

My oldest daughter’s resolution is only to suck her thumb at night.  Appropriate, since she’ll be seven in a few months.  But really…she just wants us to stop nagging her about it.  Can’t say I blame her.  That’s pretty good motivation to make a change.

My four year old’s resolution is not to yell at mommy…or stomp…or kick…or throw things.   Again…appropriate.  However halfway into day one she caved and kicked me in the mouth.  I mean, how dare I turn the TV off after four Barbie movies in a row….

To resolve to be better you have to know you are.  We’re all given a certain talent set from above.  Unless those attributes made unique to each of us are celebrated and expounded upon to the greatest out of our human capacity…then no amount of resolve is going to satisfy us.  Sometimes a little focus on what you’ve excelled at over the past year is a more accurate compass than picking yourself a part.

My oldest daughter, Brianne, has revealed to us all over the last year two major breakthroughs in her personality.  One, that she’ll never give up.  No matter how many times she falls on the ice or crashes on roller skates, she’ll always get up with a big smile and carry on.  That kind of resiliance is a gift.  Celebrate that one in 2015, I say!  Second…she ran downstairs on Christmas morning to find a tree full of presents Santa left her, and the first thing she wanted to do is give her Papa the present she picked out for him at the Secret Santa shop at school.  Precious.  Celebrate that spirit of generosity in 2015..and expound upon it!

Lauren, my yougest daughter, has asked to be called by her “real” name from now on.

“Call me by my real name, mom.” she said at bedtime one night.

“OK, Lo Lo Bear…I’ll call you Lauren,” I agreed.

“No, Mom. My real name is Lo Lo,” she corrected.  “You call me Lo Lo.”

Kid walks to the beat of her own drum…quite litterally…and it’s a very bouncy drum.  Celebrate that self assuredness at such at young age.  Rock that in 2015.

IMG_7674God Bless in 2015!  I hope my little Lo doesn’t whip as many things at me as last year, and I wish my oldest the best on thumb sucking.  Changing is hard, but that also means it’s most likely worth it.

Happy New Year!

Megs

IMG_7672

Stay encouraged!