The Picture Pages (#jammed daily devo, day 346)

December #jammed: Grace, given.

Day 346: Picture this…

“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.” Colossians 3:21 (Message)

Pages and pages of pictures flipped over as the newly arrived books were broken in on DECJAM12the sinking sofa cushions. Hours and hours of memories came alive off of those pages. Smiles and laughs and salty sea air. Sandy shoes and climbed dunes. Campfires and rollercoaster rides …their lives printed out.

The hours it takes to put those books together bleeds into day and weeks. Yet, all of the time and photos that are included in the final cut are a mere fraction of the fun we’ve had over that year of their lives. It’s getting harder now, as they get older, to find the time to maintain the tradition. Some of the others are fading into the background now, and time is speeding up so fast I can barely maintain the minimum requirements.

Is this how it is supposed to be? Does the feeling of being a first-time mom ever go away?

Today’s verse instructs parents not to crush their child’s spirit.  I can’t imagine a crushing moment being included in any of those volumes. Yet, they’re there. They’ve been just as much a part of our days as the smiles we fight for. And it is a fight.

Parenting is a pendulum that swings from compassion to discipline. In the middle there is the perfect mix. If anyone ever finds it, let me know. Until then, the strategy is to cope the best we can in knowing we are not going to parent perfectly. There will be crushing moments. Moments that today’s verse reminds not to let happen on our watch.

What happens when we’ve crushed a spirit? Where do we go from there?

We remember.

Remember the babe in the manger prophesied to come when He came. Remember the child raised by a mother and father, and a man who stepped into His calling at just the right time. Even Jesus had to wait on God’s will. He lived a human life for a long time before He began performing miracles and drafting apostles.

Remember Him.

There is a reason He came to earth as a baby, grew up as a child …as a teenager! We won’t walk the earth in the perfect way He did, but we can trust that He’s been here.

When a crushed spirt is looking back at us, remember Him …and that we are not Him. Apologizing to our children takes the victory out of our enemy’s hands, and back into the hands of Jesus.

Even if we have to give ourselves the same pep-talk hundreds of times daily, keep enduring the apology. Keep going back. Keep trying. In due time, if we follow Christ with all of our hearts, the harvest will follow.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for our children, and for the patience to have survived this much of parenthood so far. Thank You for the lessons that You teach us through the children we were meant to lead back to You. Forgive us for losing it -our patience, our composure, and our sanity -and crushing our childrens’ sprits. Repair what we cannot, Father, and may they always hear Your voice above all others. 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-crushing,

Megs

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

 

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 Boo-Boos

The screech was ear piercing, and my limbs were too slow to react to what I saw. Little limbs flew over handlebars, and skidded to a stop on the concrete. Tears streamed and knees bled. I scooped my baby up to the tune of my quickly abandoned bike crashing to the ground.  My breath paused waiting for her to catch hers.The Boo Boo 1

Against my incessant warnings and her better judgement, little Lo continued to ride her purple banana-seat bike with her feet up in the air. Though she faithfully wears a helmet, it couldn’t protect her from the overflow of boo-boo’s she survived this summer from peddling standing-up to keep up with the big kids.

“It’s OK, “ I reassure her, “You’re Ok… I love you …Mommy’s got you.”

It’s infuriating to watch preventable accidents reoccur, yet we rush to the rescue every time.

When we’re little, a Mommy hug and a bandaid …or a hot pink cast signed my all of our The Boo Boo 2friends, encourages the hope of healing and the chance to ride again.  In the grown up world, scars scale beyond bloody knees and broken bones. The adult audience does not wait in angst to sign our hurts with a Sharpie. Only God’s truth is powerful enough to bind wounds completely and foster new growth from our scars.

Redemption– the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. The action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. 

Synonyms: retrieval, recovery, return. –google.com

When falling, focus on the redemptive factor of faith in Christ. The above synonyms are great stones to skip…

Boo Boo 3 Good

1. Retrieval

Retrieval-the process of getting something back from somewhere. -google.com

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

The Creator of time can stretch minutes. In John 19:38, He provided the perfect timing and placement of people to retrieve His Son’s body. Do we know He takes the same care in crafting our purpose?

God pursues us.

Paul encourages, “Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared.”- Romans 8:33

 His gift of grace through Christ’s death on the cross gives us permission to peel past standardized shortcomings and embrace the promise of hope laced in every scar.

Boo Boo 4

2. Recovery

Recovery- a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. -google.com

“Before he reached his village, his servants met him on the road celebrating his son’s miraculous recovery.” John 4:51

We often associate recovery with miraculous healing, but we see is a fraction of God’s Boo Boo 6omnipotence. Everyday battles are won on our account by our good Father.

Children, regardless of age, innately want to please their parents. Simon, in Luke 5:8-10, says,

“I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man. You shouldn’t be around the likes of me.”

It’s hard to look at fresh bruises without feeling a little ashamed.

Do we realize that’s normal?

Ephesians 2:3 reminds us that we are all guilty. Yet, in such a cycle of imperfect and repetitious behavior…through Christ …we are still redeemed.

Boo Boo 5

3. Return

Return-come or go back to a place or person. Give, put, or send something back to a place or person. -google.com

Genesis 3:19 reminds us to keep our perspective in check: “To dust we shall return.” James 5:7 urges us to be patient and wait. The word “return” in regards to Jesus’ whereabouts is mentioned 19 times in the book of Matthew …12 in Mark, 28 in Luke, and 29 in John. Jesus does a lot of returning in the gospels. Despite our cyclical sin, God hasn’t throw the towel in.

“You were bought at a price…” (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23 NIV)

It cost a life for us to live. An innocent life… without sin …sacrificed in the most brutal way … to save us.

 A high price has been paid for your freedom, so don’t devalue God’s investment by becoming a slave to people.” 1 Cor. 7:23

Boo Boo 7

High price, indeed.

“In His image,”(Genesis 1:27) is so evident when we teach our kids to get back up when they fall. We tell them it’s OK. We assure them that we love them.

Throughout the vast disappointments of my life, Christ has carried me, put bandaids on my bloody knees, healed hurts too secret to share, and surrounded me in His love. Until He returns …until I am returned to Him, I will passionately pursue my redeemed place in His plan …strengthened by knowing He never gives up on me.

Happy Redeeming,

Megs

 

Stay encouraged!

The Blue Table

blue table fixed image

Failure to control my kids’ exposure scares me, and lending it’s parameters up to the One
who’s wise to the legit limit is the only way I manage to keep the wall up. The waxing and waning of what I’m supposed to hold to and let go of perplexes my parental instincts. Many voices weigh in, but only One cuts through the noise.

“Control- to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command; to hold in check; curb” –dictionary.com

Blue Table fixed tweetOur butts were stuck to the seat, and the warm breeze wafted by as we tried to beat the heat to our ice cream. Sun-beat cheeks burst wide with giggles in between spoonfuls. As the kid-table full of little girls erupted into innocent laughter over inside jokes, and a little blurb of nonsense perked-up the parent ears sitting at the adjoining table with a,“What-did-you-say?!” 

All of the girls… in unison… at the highest volume they could maintain while dying laughing, repeated, “TOM HAS A SMALL WEINER!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!”

Not sure whether to laugh, cry, or die of embarrassment … I let the contagious cackling catch me, too.”Tom has a small wiener,” scratched into the table at the local ice cream factory, is definitely not in the prepared parent handbook.

I was pretty sure my princesses weren’t privy to the down low; but as my friend marched up to management, I wondered how aware of the world they really were.

“Oh, mom, I started that…” stated my calm, rule-following first child, as we cruised down the high-way home.

“I sounded it out,” she said, as I braced my grip on the steering wheel little tighter.

“Why would someone write about their wiener-dog on a table…”  she trailed off and into
hysterics again, no doubt recalling how all of her friends roared in laughter over ice cream.

Phew. She had no idea, and I left it that way.

There are things in this world that are impossible to control. Bits of exposure creep into kid’s minds beyond our ability to rewind. Terrible tragedy scares society into lockdowns and loud mouths.  How do parents protect children amidst an increasingly illusive grasp on control?

Faith.

God is in control of all that alludes us. Faith allows us to live in peace, amidst engulfing calamity. In “table scratch” moments,  I say…“Word up.” #wordup

blue table 6_103

WORD up.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 

Mark 5:36

There is a miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark that reveals God’s sovereign care beyond our parental scope.  Jarius, a synagogue leader, sought Jesus out to heal his daughter, but while in route she died.  “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus said, and He raised his daughter from the dead.

I believe the Word came alive for Jarius that day.

Blue Table 2-6Read the Bible. Let the living Word come alive in your life. The situations of our hearts differ, but the omnipotent voice is the same. When we listen to these lessons, we can hear hope. By preparing our hearts with wise words, pressing parenting conversations are relieved by a story, a “who God is,” or “what would Jesus would do.” Applying Biblical truths to everyday occurrences plant “wall building” seeds.

blue table 7_116

 word UP.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 

James 5:16

Get up and look up… everyday. Talk up. Pray up. Listen for what’s up. I can’t be everywhereBlue Table 3-7 my daughters are, but He can. I won’t always understand, but He does. Prayer
accumulates, God hears, and I trust He’s on board. Scholarly proof alludes me, but as Sunday seeds sown are watered and grown, bits of evidential wisdom bleed out of my heart. #faith

“Please bless Brianne and Lauren. 

Keep them physically safe from harm, 

and guard their hearts and minds

 …today, and always.”

My girls are six and eight, and everyday I pray that prayer …in earnest hope, and forthright faith.  I have a lot to learn, and many miles of parenting left to wander. But I routinely yield the mysteries of the world to their Author, believing most ardently that He answers prayer.

My littlest girl loves to quote Tinkerbell’s infamous motto, “Faith, trust, and pixie dust.” Have faith in the Word and earnestly pray. Trust that life will water His seeds in our kin. And pixie dust? Keep your eye out for answered prayers …sometimes they look like miracles.

Word up,

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Last Day

IMG_4069

The product of my rushed suburban childhood is arm-in-arm in that sandy crop of kids, traditionally appreciating the last day of school in their little lake town …where the busiest road has a 35 mph speed limit, and we can count the number of stop lights on one hand. “Rush” is absent from their vocabulary.

PERFECTTraditions can bloom dreams if we allow them to align our intentions with His design. The small lake town I live in has taught me to treasure tradition. In your town, on the farm, amidst a metropolis, or in your move; here are some benefits I’ve uncovered in establishing a little tradition.

#heartseeds

1.Stability

foundation- the basis or groundwork for anything…the natural or prepared ground on which some structure exists. (dictionary.com)

Learning to leave God in our dreams takes faith tough enough to trust that His view of them will undoubtably differ from our expectations a lot of the time. If we learn to look up before we dream out; the surrounding blessings, people, and places in life begin to reveal parts of His purpose. Tradition rooted in Christ yields a stable foundation to dream upon.

“You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the pieces of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

IMG_4440_251

Paul reminded the church at Ephesus to embrace the foundation that Jesus laid at the foot of the cross.  We would be wise to do the same. When our dream is drifting with the Creator’s current, living it each day spreads the virtuous kindness and joy of Jesus.

2. Resilience 

“Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good.” 1 Thes. 5:21

I had all intentions of moving by the water to be out on the water, but God threw out the anchor… and beached my boat.  And as I peeled back the layers of blessing from the shoreline, I’m so glad he didn’t let me rush past it all. Changing the direction of our lives is never easy, but layered in the learning are blessings that follow an obedient heart. “Clinging” to those blessings, to who He is, shapes a resilient heart.

resilience the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.- Google

The pre-school years flew by, and the “Last Day” tradition that started with four moms is still growing … each year new friendships form and new laughs are logged. We pray for each other, help each other, laugh, cry and load up on a bus to celebrate milestones together… stand arm-in-arm together.

#dontskipachapter

IMG_4712_83

3. Confidence

“So, brothers and sisters, all you need to do now is stand firm and hold tight to the line of teachings we have passed on to you, whether in person or in a letter.” 2 Thes 2:15

Paul wrote this letter to clarify some traditions that had been muddled in translation. Can you imagine passing things down accurately without the Internet?

I’ve been privy to witness, that the tradition of excellence my town, has more to do than just the happy disposition that often follows suit with living on the shoreline of one of the world’s Great Lakes. The tale of each home-town Tiger begins with tradition.

From the first day they high-five the elementary-school principal down hallways decked with yellow smiles, they are brought up to believe they can find their best and bring it out in others. The entire town cheers them on until they show up dressed in white to lookout from that shoreline together one last time …arm-in-arm. I’ve watched my daughters watch those beautiful graduates, confident they can conquer anything because they’ve been raised to believe that they will.

Confident, bright, and beautiful blooms are the result of roots. Spectacular moments of growth don’t last forever, but roots remain to break through the soil once again.

PERFECT copyChristians are confident in the joy Jesus. From the very first time we high-five Him as we’re dunked under the water, or whisper a prayer…His truth allows us to bloom beautifully along life’s bumpy road. Like the graduates confident they can conquer the world, He stands with us, arm-in-arm, in a victory that’s already been won.

4.Triumph

“I must say how pleased I am to hear that you remember me in everything and continue to hold on to the traditions I have passed on to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2

Paul wrote this letter to the believers at Corinth as they were torn by spiritual immaturity in attempting to uphold tradition.

Triumph is synonymous for “coming back.”

IMG_4281_4

The “Last Day” tradition isn’t always a smoothly executed plan, but we all keep coming back. Tradition gives us a space to embrace our place on this earth.

Sometimes the frustration in having to be still is God whispering that you’re already here. Perhaps the purpose of my dream to live by the lake was simply to slow down and embrace tradition all along. That’s all God asks of us …keep coming back. Keep the tradition of meeting with Him everyday …of looking for Him in everything we experience. Those are strong roots, a stable foundation, a resilient reliance, and a triumphant destination.

Happy Summer!!!

Go Tigers!

Megs

IMG_4459

Stay encouraged!

The Zipper

How can I be certain genuine sensitivity is zipped into the teeth of my self-conscious mind’s motives? I don’t want my insecurities to jam my kids’ jackets. But that’s exactly what happens when I fail to spin inward. Selfish instincts fuel trauma. image

Before I speak my mind in witness to my children, I SIFT, hoping to model the selfless love Christ extends to me.

Selfish

“Concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc, regardless of others.” Dictionary.com

image

Piece by piece, the remnants of pushing my babies on their little blue swing were hauled away. With every disassembled section, hours of images blurred through my tears. The animal sound quizzes, songs about ABC’s, and tickling their knees wavered through my mind.

Human default lends the out-flow of our actions to be inwardly influenced. Watching my children grow, I worry I’ve failed them, often becoming hyper-focused on the mistakes I’ve made.

My kids sift through their mistakes to the tune of their parent’s habits. Our oldest daughter is always right and never admits fault, and the youngest thinks it’s always her fault because she’s a terrible person. #parentfail

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us.”-Romans 12:6a

Gifts can be sifted to unearth seeds of growth and potential. It’s selfish to focus on every mistake when so much can be learned from each character trait. Instead of grabbing for the seam ripper, reach for each unique thread of joy sewn into you. Accepting the full spectrum God’s granted us is a healthy vision of what’s actually happening.

The daughter that always feels at fault is always trying to improve and be better, just like her momma. The daughter that stubbornly doesn’t let drama deter her is calm in the midst of chaos like her dad. In Christ, we’re aligned with whom He knows we already are.

Instinct

“An inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.” -Dictionary.com

image

I wondered what was going through my Kindergartner’s mind as she pressed her head against the window and watched a piece of her childhood leave the lawn.

“YES!!!!!!!” she shrieked with glee, “IT’S TRAMPOLINE TIME!!!!!”

“Lauren, that’s an awful thing to say,” I snapped, “aren’t you sad to see it go?”

I should have applauded her positive turn of the page, but I let my failed wish to share a few tears with her negate that she reacted wrong. It’s hard to avoid self-critical cycles listening to my echo nag.

When the instinctive urge to be overly critical creeps up, I’m often symptomatically ready to snap. At the end of the day at the end of the week, I am emotionally at the end of my rope. A deep breath can place the urge lash out on the back burner. No matter how I yearn for the scene play, unexpected blessing is always laced within.

Trying times beg for the justice of Jesus, and the guidance of God’s great grace. The Holy Spirit is able to redirect our instincts to Christ before we rearrange our kid’s self-esteem. It’s hard to fight the parental instinct to harp, but God seeks to bless brave steps. (John 14: 15-17)

Fuel

“Something that gives nourishment…sustains or encourages; stimulant.” -Dictionary.com

image
Sunday was trampoline assembly day, and my girls came bounding out in their pajamas to jump. I trekked back inside to the sound of gleeful cackles as my husband took the big empty box to the curb. Fear and worry pushed the nostalgic lump out of my throat. And just like that, they grew up a little more.

I don’t have a natural urge to let my kids go and grow. Though my first instinct is always to grasp firm, Christ reminds me He’s already holding on. The Spirit He left advocates peace to fight the fear that our flesh fuels. So, I can fill up my tank with thankfulness and trust, and let the joy of Jesus reign over the “letting go’s” of my life.

“If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. Romans 12:6b

This verse is a picture of playing in the pocket. The gifts God gave us individually launch us into the people …and the parents …we’re meant to be. Kids need to understand how to react to difficulty by tapping into their strengths rather than wallowing in a weak spot. One of my favorite pastors recently preached on efforts to live out just one verse of the Bible instead of trying to learn the whole thing. I choose to let 1 Thes. 5:16, and who I am, fuel my life with joy.

“Be joyful always.” 1 Thes. 5:16

Trauma

“A body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury …an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” -Dictionary.com

image

…and then one of them flew right back out.

My Kindergartner landed smack on her back. Shrieking and covered in mulch, the scene of checking symptoms engulfed the kitchen.

“How could we have let this happen?” I said to my husband.

My natural inclination to roll over every insecure thought causes me to misconstrue, misinterpret …and just plain miss stuff.

LIKE ZIPPING UP THE SAFETY ZIPPER!!!  

I guarantee I was applauding myself for pressing my husband to get the thing built before sundown …or mulling over the weekend’s lot of conversations with friends to check for anything stupid I should be embarrassed about. Of all the warnings I give my children to heed, the most obvious preventions leak right out of my own insecurities.

The devil tries to traumatize us so that we jump around in doubt rather than with a clear conscious to contribute to the world around us. I am equipped to encourage my kids, even after they’ve flown out of the trampoline on my watch, because of the traumatic scars Jesus survived. We can fuel the fire of our selfish instincts, or  fan Christ’s flame of hope in our hearts. The capability is there. The choice is ours.

Sift

“Examine (something) thoroughly so as to isolate that which is most important or useful.” -Google

imageMy kids don’t always witness the right reactions. I’m not always privy to patience. But, His grace renders this world’s trauma temporary. Let’s attempt to sift out all thoughts that don’t align with His truth.

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and many.” Acts 24:16

Zip it up before you jump around.

Happy Jumping!

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Good Sick Day 

The gagging rapidly approached. I shot up from a deep sleep to dig defensively against my exhaustion. The bright red clock glowed, “4:30 AM.”

“MO-GAG-MMY-GAG,” my daughter heaved. “I-GAG-DON’T-GAG-FEEL-GAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGG…”

Up and out to usher her away from my room, I prayed my toes would remain in tact and my shins wouldn’t be shattered by the debris of low lying furniture that littered the route to the hallway. Our eyes squinted in protest but my heart jumped for joy when we made it to the bathroom without any projectile fallout.

“Why did you pass the bathroom to run to my room?” I asked her as pulled her new, short hair-cut back. She smiled and started to giggle, and then whatever was ailing her finally released. Bleh. The “every thirty minute” trip to retrieve water sips ensued; and as I attempted to sneak in some sleep between changing trash-can bags, the dim glow of dawn lit.

imageHer sickness seemed to fade rapidly as we pulled away from dropping her little sister off at school, and I was serenaded while she “rested” to the tune of Barbie’s shenanigans. If not for witnessing the vomit first-hand, I’d have pronounced her a big fat faker.

We sat to chat …laughed …sorted through her bookshelf …ate lunch …watched a movie …took the dog for a pier-walk …and went shopping. Cuddled up on the couch that night, I knew God had gone above and beyond answering my prayers for her healing. I silently celebrated the scenery of a Spirit-led day, that lent me the time to witness my rapidly maturing little girl grow up a bit …right before my eyes. #gift

To live in the motion of The Holy Spirit, replace your race with a pace to match His stride. It’s a humble walk, painfully slow at times, but always moving forward. Like the rhythm of a runner’s depart from the start, we can establish a pattern to race with the Spirit as He moves.

image

Let’s learn how to harness a “good sick” day, by investigating an amazing verse.

1. On your mark…

“Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life.” Galatians 5:16a(Voice)

If I break into a full sprint without running things by God, I may appear very busy and productive …but I assure you it’s masking a disheveled and over-tasked mess. Breaking time off to have a real conversation with Him sets the tone for my day and signals the Holy Spirit to start translating.image

When words to describe what we’re going through aren’t present in our vocabulary, or we lack the motivation to mumble what words we do know how to string together, the Spirit relays our message to God. (Romans 8:28) The One who speaks life has an infinite vocabulary.

“Let the Spirit direct your lives.” Galatians 5:16a (GNT)

Start talking to God about life. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we have full access to the Author…and Translator. #prayaboutit

2. Set…

Being set to launch life the way God intended us to live it requires reading the Bible. What good is the answer to life if we never hear it? The Spirit aides our interpretation (John 14:26) of God’s living Word (Hebrews4:12), and a conversation is born.

“Let the Holy Spirit lead you with each step.” Galatians 5:16a (NLV)

It seems less daunting when broken down into footsteps. God isn’t calling me to change my personality, He’s asking me step into the ingenuity He laid into my life’s foundation. God’s Word reliably directs my footsteps with the disciplinary truth my heart needs to digest His love and direct my steps.

Read His Word in faith that it will answer prayers, apply currently, and ready life to shift and grow. #ReadTheWord

image

3. Go.

Galatians 5:16

“Walk in the Spirit.” (KJV)

“Walk by the Spirit.” (ESV)

“Live the way the Spirit leads you.” (ERV)

“Walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance.]” (AMP)

I discovered that in the original language, and within the context of Galatians 5:16, live and walk are synonymously derived from the Greek verb peripateo.

“Literally, means walk around…The NT uses peripateo to refer to the way believers behave or conduct daily life.” -Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

Walking is living. Living is walking. “Spirit led” is a daily process that we walk out for life. Step in one obedient stride at a time.

“Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.” Galatians 5:16a (MSG)

imageFaithful training makes for great races. The blocks are empty and the runners are already rounding the first curve. As the gun-shot-start adrenaline wears off, preparation relaxes us into the rhythm of our own breathing. Don’t look back…#Go

I am forever grateful that she passed the bathroom to come and get me first. I might have missed a footstep…

Happy Walking…

Megs

“Run your lives by the Spirit.” Galations 5:16a (CJB)

Reading different translations of Biblical verses can be done with a swipe of the screen. Bible Gateway is an amazing resource I reference to bridge my gap between average person and Biblical scholar. It’s a very large gap. I’m very thankful for it! You know what they say …”If I don’t know the answer I know someone that does!” #doyourresearch #neverstoplearning

 

Stay encouraged!

The Auto-Correct 

“I DIDN’T SAY THAT!!!!” One sister yelled.

“YESSSSSSS YOUUUUUUU DIIIIIIIID-AAAAAAAA,” the other retorted.

“WELL THEN YOU HEARD ME WRRRRROOOONNNGGGG-AAAAAA,” she snapped back.

“Ugh,” I sighed, listening to them pile frustrated syllables on top of simple words, “they’ve BOTH gotten that from me.”

Faces twisted into eccentric versions of craziness, both seethingly glared into the review mirror. Apparently, that was my cue to magically apply logic to what had “actually” been said. Ironic, how they burst into laughter at Siri’s mistakes …or Mom’s …that’s always hysterical. But they take sisterly “corrections” very seriously.

imageGrown-up or not, we all fall victim to our own stubbornness. Right or wrong, few people have the ability to apologize on the spot for the effect irrelevant to the cause. Except Siri, she’s pretty quick to tell you, “I’m sorry, I did not understand.”

If you join me in the struggle to handle hot-tempered moments of kids quarreling in the backseat, I can offer a couple of tips that have kept me on the road. But don’t judge me if you hear me screaming “SHUT UP!” as I drive around town with the windows down. #trying #inthefield

1. Load up and line up your corrections. 

When we rely on the seat of our pants to apply sage wisdom, we conjure a stink full of bad advice. image

“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” Leviticus 20:7-8 (NIV)

Tense moments flare tempers, and words seem to fail us. No matter how many, or at what volume, they spill into the car … mistranslated like a text message surrendered to auto-correct.

God seeks to steer us, and applauds efforts to guide our children through tedious moments. Seek His wisdom. Set aside some space to clear the clutter and read the Bible. Everyday has five free minutes. The time I spend in His Word allows me to relay the motherly messages He always intended for my daughters to hear. image

2. Embrace The Correction

Imagine God watching from Heaven while we blow right by misinterpretations and hit “send” anyway …EVEN WHEN He’s waving both hands in front of our face?!?! Instead of ridiculing us for missteps and side-trails, He sent His only Son to die for us. The love demonstrated in sacrifice forever forgives our failed efforts. Through Jesus, God replaces every “fallen short,” with “grace and love.” image

What missteps have lent us the opportunity to spread Christ’s love? The story of Jesus naming Peter yields immense hope.

“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter.)” John 1:42 (NIV)

Peter was a fisherman that doubted Jesus at the rooster’s crow. But he was also known for having solid faith in Jesus, and for his leadership in the early church. The NIV Study Bible further notes that, although his name is literally translated, “Rock,”

“Peter was anything but a rock; he was impulsive and unstable…Jesus named him not for what he was but for what, by God’s grace, he would become.”

image

My daughters’ bickering in the backseat brings to light the natural struggle to be right …to be the best …the favorite … independent… No winner emerges from unjust conflict.  There’s no reason to put our individual mission on earth to death by comparison. Our kids need us to be who Jesus says we are.

“Peter was best know for his impetuous nature and fierce devotion to Christ.” -NIV Study Bible Text Note 

Impetuous means, “acting or done quickly and without thought or care.” (Google.com) It also can mean, “moving forcefully or rapidly.” (Google.com) 

Fierce means, “having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.”(Google.com) It can also mean, “(of a feeling, emotion, or action) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.”(Google.com)

image

So by one definition we can choose to see Peter as a flip-flopping doubter with a temper. Or, we can choose to look a little bit deeper into the heart Jesus identified long before Peter knew his name. The “Rock,” who spread the gospel with force and speed throughout the early church, and loved Jesus with heartfelt and powerfully intense faith.

Embrace the correction.

Parents are glaringly aware of faults and annoying attributes, but our love blows any negative ducks out of the water. We’ve embraced the imagecorrection before it’s corrected.

“Girls…” I warmed up, as I prayed that a nugget of Spirit-led wisdom would fall out of my mouth, “…it doesn’t matter who started it or who’s fault it is …you both need to apologize and hug it out.”

Insert insane amount of eye-rolling and last ditch efforts to pinch each other…

“Love you,” I added with a smile.

The correction is love.

imageWe don’t have to fight to be fierce. Most of us haven’t even grown into our true “names” yet. When we’re scrunched up and mangled into frustrated faces, Jesus sees our hearts and knows our names. His gift of death in exchange for grace grants us new life …for life …for forever.

Fight with the fierce and ferocious power of the love that conquered it all. And if you let a hot-tempered phrase slip, apologize. It works for Siri …my kids think she’s hilarious when she admits she’s at a complete loss…

image

When I want to quit, prayer is there to pull me through. I hope you know He’s there for you, too.

Happy Corrections!

Megs

Stay encouraged!

The Purple Scar

If anything can trump everything, we are pushed into punishment.

My stomach twisted in fret like it did on the way up the first hill of the tallest roller coaster in the world When I was ten-years-old. I wasn’t ready to face that fear then, nor was I prepared to hear the Elementary School Principal’s voice on the other end of the line now.

 “Lauren made a visit to my office today because she spit in another student’s face…she was very remorseful…that’s what we want to see…”

I caught myself holding my breath just like I did down the first hill of the Magnum XL200 back in 1989, unable to digest the gravity of the situation, nor how my sweet little stinker-pants could possess the ability to make such a terrible decision.

“I’m so sorry, and so embarrassed,” I unraveled to the kindhearted voice on the other end. Not only was this the principal of my kid’s school, but a friend and former colleague from my XC coaching days. I was mega-watt mortified.

Some moments scar more vividly than physical wounds. 

The butterflies did laps in my belly as I waved to the Principal in the pick up line that afternoon, and then laid eyes on my little Kindergarten criminal…who was smiling and waving at me as if she’d had a banner day.

“Hi, Mommy!!!!” She bounced into the car with the sweetest smile and eyelashes-a-batting.

“How was your day,” I let out in a wispy tone of shock. This child, who normally cries of imageremorse before she’s accused, was acting as if I’d gotten the wrong parent phone call just hours earlier.

“Good…he he he!” I expected her eyes to well up and over, but she must have tearfully cleared her conscious already.

“What behavior chart color were you on today?” I asked, and the facial expression fell to fear.

“Purple.” Double edged sword. The first edge being that purple, her all-time favorite color, was at the bottom rung of the behavior scale. The second sharp pinch was the repetition of the offense…this was the second day in a row that the day’s square had been shaded purple. She was warned, reprimanded, repeated and then trumped the previous day’s behavior. And it was Tuesday. #parentfail

“The only reason I didn’t send her home on pink (the very bottom….) was because it wasn’t malicious…I saw the whole thing…she just got carried away…she has an ornery streak in her…” Her sweet teacher explained in a phone call after school.

“Not malicious…” Those words rang like sweet affirmation in my mind filling up fast with motherly doubt. I did know my own child. #notatotalfail

image

In an instant, the light bulb lit on what had burnt Lauren’s capacity to cope and tendency to act out when squeezed. I saw the painful look on her face the weekend before, and noticed the way she isolated herself. I let my own “anything” matter more than taking the time to teach her to talk, unravel and resolve what was bothering her.

When we are put in the pressure cooker, we are inclined to explode or implode without applying God’s perspective. Lauren needed me to do aid her in that process.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

That’s a hard truth for me to recall and apply each day…especially when little red “uh-oh” button is pushed by a child of mine who has decided to live by her own set of rule …but worth the effort not to leave a purple scar. Download the knowledge of this verse along with me… 

1. Lift it up and let it go.

Lauren may not always talk out what she needs to process, but the little gal forgives herself with amazing ease. She’s very remorseful when the realization of wrong hits her, but then she let’s herself off the hook. It’s the negative reinforcement of the mistake that causes scarring slip ups to linger. She can recall every “bad color” day she’s ever had. Which is too bad, because they are swimming in a sea of banner days.

imageGod teaches me, through her witness of forgiveness, how bitterness is no more productive than a roller coaster train unexpectedly stuck at the top of the hill. All of the passengers are ready to experience the rest of the ride, but the train of bitterness is stuck at the top, unable to budge. It challenges me to do the work that being quick to forgive requires, lest I miss out on the rest of the ride God’s built into my life.

Jesus’ death opened the line of communication directly to God. The curtain was torn (Deut. 4:7),and the key to peace was given to us in grace by Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s easy to jump into a pool of panic and fear whispers when boundaries are crossed and rules are broken. That’s where discipline leaps off the diving-board.

“Discipline is our friend, not our enemy.” Joyce Meyer, “Living Beyond Your Feelings.”

Consequences must be upheld and new boundaries must be instilled. The laps I ran with my older child don’t always get repeated the same way…or at all…for my youngest. She’s cute, and funny, and the baby, and I’m guilty. Guilty for letting her fly under my radar and peek out every once in a while with an adorable melting of every ounce of my heart.

“God has set before us life and death, good and evil, and has given us the responsibility of making the choice.” (Deut. 30:19) Joyce Meyer, Living Beyond Your Feelings.

God showed me recently that “unconfessed sin is a barrier to prayer.” (Foundations, The Chapel.)

“Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:1-2

I appreciate the way God instills confidence in me as a parent through the work He simultaneously performs on my soul. By teaching me to be quick to recognize my lack of discipline and confess my sins, I am now more able to help my children do the same, on their level. #soulwork

2. Communicate with compassion.

I know that if I ask, He forgives. (1John 1:9) image

If there’s one thing God has helped me do great in my home, it’s apologize to my kids. After all the discipline was addressed, I knew I owed Lauren an apology.

“I forgive you, Lauren,” I began that purple day, “and I’m sorry, too.”
Tears welled up in her eyes, in amazement and relief that someone had noticed, and that someone cared. And with that, the potential for scarring was snuffed out by love.

I apologized to my sweet baby girl for all of the hours every week that she sat in the waiting room at the dance studio while big sister worked for her dream…for all the bed time chats we’ve never had…for not making a better effort to get her together with her friends…and work on her dreams.

“I love you, and what happens in your heart matters to me…you can tell me anything…I’m always here for you…I’ll always forgive you before you even say you’re sorry…and I’ll never love you any less…because that’s how God loves me.”
With a tearful hug, she whispered “thank you, Mommy…I forgive you…I love you…” into my ear.

image

And there it is…Life within the love of Jesus.
I can’t expect myself or my child to be perfect, or “180” into everyone’s glorious approval …and I can’t prevent the scars she racks up from the lack of obedience we all struggle with. But I will love her always, and  I can bring her to lean into everything that I know about Him, to withstand anything that tries to push me into punishment…through Christ, who gives me strength (Phil 4:13) ..through His scars.
Happy Apologizing…
Megs

Stay encouraged!

The 5 Fights Before 9.

Fight the fall into fear, failure, and doubt by giving up guilt in exchange for grace; fetching forgiveness for faults.

image

I have kids. If I want to entertain the notion of a “quiet” time before the chaos erupts, my alarm can only beep a maximum number of three times. In the dark of dawn, I silence the beep and gently shut my bedroom door so that my teeny tiny sleepyheads aren’t awoken by the tap of my toothbrush. Like 007, I swiftly breeze back out the door, shutting it to mute the snores echoing off the walls. I pad lightly down the stairs in my slippers, begging my bones not to crack until I reach the kitchen. My quiet little Keurig whirs on and steams my morning coffee, and I carefully stir the swirl of my fancy dark chocolate syrup and coconut milk with a plastic spoon to avoid cup clinks. Then, I meander to my place of morning bliss, steaming warmth hugging my hands.

I really do feel like I’ve accomplished a mission when I sit down at my desk…and crack open the Word for an instructional day-prep. Ah…the five minutes before the five fights before nine…are so glorious.

imageOnce the first piece of light cracks the dark open, little feet make passes down the stairs in competition for my lap. This particular morning, my daughters came down convinced that I did not have enough love to cuddle them both at the same time, and the jabbing began. Fight one…mom’s attention.
Morning cuddles met, they trudged back up the stairs to get dressed, and fight number two ensued…the headband.

“No, Lauren!” Her sister snapped.

“That’s my headband and your not wearing it today!!!”

“But it matches perfect…” Lauren wailed, and I could hear the snap back of the headband as it was forcefully removed from her head.

Making time back down the stairs to tattle, I pointed her directly back up, “I’m sorry, Lauren, it’s Brianne’s headband.” I hollered up the stairs over little sister’s stomping, “Brianne, you could have handled that a little nicer…”

Instead of tagging in to engage in the morning, I let my eyes remain glued to my screen, and ears peeled in awareness of the sharp murmured tones coming from the bathroom again. Even though I couldn’t make out he words, I knew Brianne was giving her sister an unnecessary lesson in sass, and taking a few elbow jabs in return.  image

“Lauren, I’m getting ready for work, you can’t come in here,” I heard my husband holler from our bathroom.

Toothbrush and hijacked toothpaste in hand, Lauren’s brisk steps flew across my desk and into the downstairs bathroom, peering over her shoulder and whipping the door closed before her older sister could catch her. Fight number three…tooth-brushing. “LAUREN…BRIANNE…” I commanded them both to my desk and then back upstairs to brush their teeth in their own toothpaste-globbed sink.

I drifted up and out of my sacred morning space of serenity to feed children breakfast and pack lunches. To buy me five minutes to get dressed without curiosity imploding in the kitchen, I dished out a practice math quiz and some sight words. Two minutes in, a math quiz emergency busted into my bathroom. Fight number four…even if dad did print out the answers to the math quiz by mistake…don’t bust in on mom in the bathroom to unveil the tragedy.

By the time it was time to leave for school, I mechanically shut down fight number five and all of its “my-winter-coat-is-too-hot-it-makes-me-too-sweaty-on-recess” grandeur before it could even grow legs.

“Brianne, here’s a tip,” I started, “anytime you ever ask me anything with that facial expression and that tone…it’s an automatic no…I don’t even know where you’re head’s at…”

I can see the look on her face still, the utter shock that she had been de-worded and denied before the first syllable passed her lips. Down went fight number five…I don’t want to wear my winter coat.

Seat-belts buckled to sound the final lap of the morning mile, with spelling word drills and hugs and smooches and cuddles and car dance parties, while they wait for their turn to hop out of my car and into the school hallway full of friends. My early morning prayers for their safety at school rushed to the top of my mind as I drove off, welled up, and wallowed in a sea of guilt for nagging them through the morning.

imageIt’s frustrating to lose fights with my feelings while the Bible is still sitting open on my desk. I’ve been making myself feel gullibly guilty for that lately…and for the general lack of measuring up to the state of “holy” that I feel I should be maturing to at this point in my life.

As I walked back into the quiet house, I noticed Brianne’s blanket lying on the floor underneath my desk. She’s had “Fuzzy Wuzzy” since the day she was born. Although she’s growing up and out of the blankly stage now, she still sleeps with it every night and drags it with her to snuggle in my lap each morning. This particular morning, she brought her little pink and purple princess Bible along with it…and a highlighter…and sticky notes. We both had so much fun as she asked me for verses and felt so accomplished as she found and highlighted them. In the chaos of fight number one, no one noticed “Fuzzy Wuzzy” had fallen to the floor.

She really is growing up…and picking up, His Word. Wow. Here I was putting myself imagethrough the guillotine of guilt, over things I can’t change about how we all are in the morning…and overlooking the grace of God to take my one small act of obedience and answer my own prayer with it.

“Please, let my daughters hear your call early in life.”

Seven years old, and her search has begun.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the Saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19

“The eyes of your heart…” I looked up the verse at BibleGateway and clicked “Study This,” to discover through The Dictionary of Bible Themes that “eyes” are a much bigger anomaly than I had ever pondered before.

image

Falling at the feet of Jesus with my faults is healthy, but getting up with the guilt and imagewalking off with it is not. From now on, I want to see the blanket dropped in the corner instead of the gasket I blew over fight number five. Through prayer and persistence, I choose to see a more positive perspective. Perhaps you’ll want to join me…and pass some peace around.

1. See what you want to see. Fight for the light. It’s everywhere. The sun comes up everyday, and streetlights dim-out even in overcast skies. Gaze at God’s creation. Glance at His Word. Start your day there. There’s something in this world that you would mourn over if lost…if your at a loss…start by saying, “Thank you” for whatever or whoever that is. Start to see…

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:7-8

2. Look for the Lesson. Watch for what God’s showing you.

“For it is by grace that you are saved through faith; it came not through your own striving but it is the gift of God. Not because of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

This is where a lot of people confuse religion and holiness. Holiness is pursing a change of heart inspired by a relationship with Jesus through God’s free gift of grace. The lessons are laced in His Word and our prayers. No one person can know your heart like you do and God does. You have to work holiness out with Him. Come to Him in authenticity, and look for Him to guide you personally. As you see Him, you’ll seek more.

3. Lift your eyes. Tilt your head back. Pray. Ask. Seek. God is faithful and good.

“The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.” Psalm 34:15

He hears you, He’s with you… so talk to Him. Jesus is our lifeline to the Father, our gift of grace and forgiveness. I am learning that to pursue a life of holiness I also need to receive the gift of grace that was so freely shed in blood for me on the cross, and fetch the forgiveness that has been thrown up for me to grab.

image

imageGive up the guilt. Replace it with grace. Take off your pretty shoes and wiggle your dirty toes. Be you and follow Him. He is faithful. Fight for Him.

Happy Fighting,

Megs

 

Stay encouraged!