Talking about God.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story-“ Psalm 107:2 NIV

“OK,” I motioned for my eight-year-old, “hop on.”

In the midst of a Spring that just won’t spring, I trekked through our over-saturated backyard in my rain boots with my daughter on my back. Emergency trips for X-rays never happen at convenient times, and so it seemed mildly appropriate the car was parked in the backyard while our street was being re-paved. 

It’s easy to talk about God when things are great. To reflect His presence in our lives it’s rolling along at a nice clip. When the new road is freshly paved and void of bumps threatening to pop tires or spill coffee. We sing praises when the sun shines and the flowers bloom before the first day of summer, but much less when the old road is broken up and blocking our driveway. 

How do we speak of God when the days are gray and we don’t feel very cheery? Deuteronomy 6:5-9  says “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” NIV

God doesn’t move or change with the weather or the roadwork. Through it all, He remains. When we are gray, ugly and broken-up, He loves us the same. So, on ugly broken days, when we have to carry our kids across the muddy lawn …we speak of God. 

“Let me pray over it,” I said as I attached an icepack to her blue-green foot. We prayed, and then started to laugh. All the way to the car, sitting in the waiting room watching funny videos, and when her sock came off to reveal a regularly colored foot. Little Lo didn’t want to be pushed in a wheel chair to the X-ray room …so she rolled herself there like she’d just made the wheel chair grand prix. And we continued to laugh. The situation wasn’t funny -she had a dance competition in literal days and could put no weight on her foot. But she has God-given gift to see hard situations through a heavenly perspective.

Ruled a sprain, good doctors and good treatment would heal her, but we both knew prayer had a big stake in her circumstance. God will put out the orange barrels and block us from our driveways at times. There are parts of our lives that need tending to, in the time only He knows they will set properly. When we pray specifically for radical change, He is faithful to reframe our circumstances. God’s hand is in every rescue, and every excavation of evil. In Christ, inconvenience is used for good, and all things exist under His reign. 

Telling our story, like Psalm 107:2 says, is more than just sharing the gospel. Loving God, like Deuteronomy 6:5-9 instructs us, is more than telling our testimony. It’s living His truth, as though it’s permeated into every last thought and thread of our being. Loving God is living loved, in the everyday annoyances and little bits of triumph. Laughing in light of trying times tells more than mere words. Celebrating small victories make says something about the state of our souls. We are the redeemed of the LORD! Through all we say do, let the love of our Mighty God’s redemptive and compassionate hand be ever so evident.

Find a way to laugh …or at least smile through the tears on tough days. Reach out to encourage a friend to remove self-pity. Remember all there is to be thankful for. Repeat, “Jesus!” for there is power in His name. We are promised painful times this side of heaven, but there is so much good to say. Talk about it! Repeat it! Go tell it! The healing power of God is activated when we engage in conversation with Him. Our hope is restored by the re-telling of way He’s moved in our lives before, and it encourages and assures us He will do it again. 

Happy Telling,

Megs

Puzzle Pieces

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-16 NIV

The urge to compare starts early in life. It’s a fight we battle throughout life, and often leads to envy, bitterness and dissatisfaction. Pride thrives off of comparison, dually, in that it strips our confidence and blinds us to our unique abilities. More than obvious arrogance, pride seeks to disqualify us is such an extreme way, that we can begin to mistake humility for it. 

“Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” 1Corinthians 12:15-16 NIV

We each have unique gifts, given to us freely by God in order to fulfill the purpose we were created for by Him. Denying these gifts exist, or acting like we’re not as good at them as we are, is pride in reverse …not humility. Humility is acknowledging our gifts and celebrating them in honor of God, and working hard at what we’ve been given to be good at to glorify Him and accomplish our purpose. 

“As the human body must have diversity to work effectively as a whole, so the members of Christ’s body have diverse gifts, the use of which can help bring about the accomplishment of Christ’s united purpose.” NIV Study Bible Notes

Knowing this truth isn’t enough to fight the pride that fuels arrogance nor the pride that burns down our confidence. Living this truth is the key to unlocking a Christ-led life of freedom. Through Christ, the Word of God comes alive, living in us with every breath we breathe. Through His Spirit, we are strengthened in godly confidence, and restrained with holy humility. Anything worth doing takes work, and our faith in Christ is no different. We are on a constant trajectory towards eternity, daily growing in our faith (sanctification). It’s important to keep fighting the good fight of faith, because we are all so radically important to God.

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8 NIV

God places people in our lives purposefully, not so we would compare in pride, but be encouraged in community with each other. Pride runs rampant, in church communities just as much as agnostic. We can wisely ask God to search our hearts for it daily. Christ is the only One powerful enough to keep pride at bay. The only one powerful enough to conquer the impossible, Emmanuel, God with us. Knowing the Truth ignites our faith, but clinging to Him daily allows us to live it. 

“The emphasis is on unity within diversity.” NIV Study Bible Notes

Communities experience unity through diversity. We were not put on this earth alone. Love truly does conquer all. In the end, Love does win. Love has already won, defeating death on the cross. If we could only see each other as He did, hanging there on the cross …One body, all of us. Imperfect, broken, world a mess …He died for us anyway. Our Creator is intentional. He created me, you, and all of us with specific purpose. There is only one me, one you, one of us all. None more important than the other. Neither loved less than the next. It’s a choice to see everyone that way. As a child of God, whom He loves and created for a purpose. 

Each puzzle needs every piece to be complete.

Happy Piecing,

Megs


Pulled Open & Slammed Shut.

“For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4 ESV

“Did you get new knobs?” Sitting in the kitchen for coffee, my friend noticed the new bright blue and yellow cabinet knobs.

“No, we just now installed them!” Though we built our home six years ago, some things are still on the “to-do” list.

Hebrews Chapter 3 got me thinking about the building process, and the way it admonished Christ as the builder alongside God of the house …the church …us. (Hebrews 3:6) We are built on a firm foundation, but sometimes neglect to install pulls and knobs to properly open all God has for us. 

Overwhelmed with joy to move our growing family into a larger space where we could all breath our own air, knobs and pulls seemed easy to live without. But after opening and closing drawers and cabinet doors for six years in the wrong way, they became crooked, dirty and loose. 

I sifted through a bin of blue and yellow flowered knobs caught my eye at the craft store, purchased and placed them on my kitchen counter. There they sat, for weeks, waiting to be installed. But eventually, they donned my kitchen cabinets, and we began opening things the right way. 

Pulling on things the wrong way wears them out prematurely. 

I have worn the corners of my life in similar ways, procrastinating the process of change. The cycle of disappointment can rob my will to start. Frustrated with myself, worn corners start to wear off on everything and everyone my life touches. Enter, cycle of shame. 

Christ never pulls on us in a way that prematurely wears us out. Shame is NEVER from Jesus. He died to put shame to shame, to erase guilt. So when we’re feeling that way, it’s our lurking enemy and this broken world seeking to keep us from simply installing the right knobs and pulls in our lives. 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 ESV

When we’re walking around wounded, we can’t operate in the full capacity of life Jesus died to give us. We live in a world that allows us to justify every stupid mistake we make, instead of encouraging us to apologize, right the wrong, and try not to make the same mistake again. For the sake of comfort, we’ve become uncomfortable. We don’t know our full potential, because we’re too busy making excuses.

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” 2 Timothy 2:14 ESV

When the knobs and pulls are installed properly, we know unequivocally that Jesus is God. The One True God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Residing in every Christian believer. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is strength in Christ to persevere the pulling open and slamming shut without falling a part

The radical love of God is life-altering.

Happy Installing!

Megs 

The Last Inch of Forgiveness.

Applying ointment my daughter’s scalp, I prayed she didn’t have a serious illness causing her to scratch it raw in her sleep. I reached for the tea tree oil halfway through the night, hoping it wasn’t the possibility of little critters reeling through my mind. At breakfast, she happily announced the itching was gone. Somewhat relieved but still curious and a bit skeptical, I filtered through her scalp as the morning sun lit the kitchen.

“OH-MY-GOODNESS-THERE-THEY-ARE!!!”

Two and a half hours later, I came to the last inch of my daughter’s hair …and they fell into the sink.

“Sneaky little buggers!” I yelled in pure …freaking-out …disgust. 

They ran for two hours. I’m itching as I write this. I itched for weeks, having to mentally reminding myself they were gone. 

When my kids graduated to the Intermediate school, I let my guard down. There were literally bigger things to worry about. So, she bounced her heart out one winter day in bounce house heaven with her hair flying all over the place like she loves. I should have put a pulled it back- I told her to pull back …but some days I simply pick not to win certain arguments.

A lack of preventative maintenance leads to regret.

Psalm 130:4 reminds us, “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” NIV

Life is full of regrets, but un-forgiveness isn’t a healthy place to park our minds. Often, we see forgiveness as something we ask God for and give to others, but I often find it’s hardest for me to let myself off the hook.

Replace regret with reconciliation.

Through Jesus, we are forgiven. (Acts 13:38) Our God, is a forgiving God. Reconciliation happens through restored relationship. When we depend on another person for reconciliation, it’s not always a guarantee. We can’t control people’s hearts, but we choose to confess and be reconciled to God, through Jesus. (Matthew 26:28) Guilt and shame for our lack do not come from Him. He is Love.

It took me at least a week to comb through every part of my life and to find the root of a dark soul itch. Self-doubt and disqualifying lies were pelting the space between my ears like frozen precipitation. Inch by inch, I rerouted my thoughts, took them captive and flipped them back to truth. Down to the last foothold …a stronghold …bent on destroying me… 

When “YOU-ARE-AN-UNFORGIVING-PERSON!” was used against me in an argument, I crumbled. I live and preach forgiveness, and felt accusations of failure mounting.

The last inch. The button released tears I’d talked back. When the garage door closed, I cried out. I picked my phone up, put it down, and then picked it back up again. I typed out “pray …” through the mist and hit send to my God girls.  I ugly wept, asking God to search my heart for any shreds of truth to that accusation …to comb through every last inch …and get rid of it. 

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7 NIV

Un-forgiveness can become lodged in the dusty corners of our hearts. We think we have fully forgiven, until that ugly feeling comes up all over again as we think about what happened. Un-forgiving is an unfair accusation. Just because someone calls us un-forgiving doesn’t mean we’re un-forgiving. And just because we struggle with forgiveness in the last inch …doesn’t make us anything but HUMAN. God knows our hearts, and how hard we earnestly try to hand over our deepest hurts and hangups to Him.

Accusations can deceitfully convict us to believe them. I let the name of Jesus loft into the air and bounce off the walls of my home. In the middle of a frigid MidWest winter, neighbors overhearing didn’t cross my mind. With every cry, I choose to grip His peace a little tighter. I’ve never felt so harassed, poked at, and prodded with. The devil will dig into a lie we are tempted to believe about ourselves or fear the most.

“Sneaky buggers.”

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 NIV

Jesus is the Light. At the sound of His name, darkness flees. Our daily priorities determine how we will fight in the last inch. When we feel hopeless, worthless, helpless, and not enough …convinced we’ve lost the fight …consider submitting to loser status …and see how broken we are. We are pressed and pushed to give up, give in and throw our arms up in the air. We will most definitely ugly cry in that last inch. And hopefully, we will cry out to God. We need to give it up. We are losing the fight. We are broken. We are being pushed around, harassed, and messed with until we are ugly-cry-screaming with our arms up in the air. 

Live everyday life in preparation for these moments. Get into the Word, pray, and pay attention to the people He’s placed in proximity to pray in the last inch. 

Jesus is our strength. In the last inch, we learn hands on what we read about in Scripture everyday. Anyone who’s lived a little bit of life in the last inch can testify. Throw your arms up. Cry out. And call on the name above all names, more powerful than any name …JESUS. It took mere minutes to replace hopelessness with peace. I just had to remember it was there, and how powerful He is.

Happy combing …(who are we kidding …there’s nothing happy about that! lol)

Megs

Rip it Off …Love While Healing.

Motherhood is like ripping band-aids off before the wounds have scabbed over. My hurts are exposed before they’ve healed. Before my kids started to grow up and experience deeper hurts, I could leave mine safely covered by the bandaids. While they remained covered and healing, I played in the park and participated in back yard picnics. I strolled down to the water and all over town to explore everything new alongside their innocent souls. 

The Bible says that children are a sign of God’s blessing. My life is living proof.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 NLT

In ancient times, children represented more than just a possession, as inferred in this verse. They represented heritage, “without children the inheritance of the land would be lost.” (NIV Study Bible Notes.) Our job as parents is to set them on the right path, and keep them on it or as close to it as we can …but the final decision on their direction is up to them. 

My kids didn’t know me before them, or see how becoming the mom they needed me to be pulled me out of a dark season, set me back on my feet and renewed my faith. They were indeed a “more than I could ever ask for or imagine” blessing that I didn’t deserve.

I can no longer hide the places the darkness has touched behind picnics and park playdates. Now, my mistakes have the power to protect my daughters if I cut them in on the healing. The Bible says to be wise we have to share our mistakes in hopes our children are less apt to repeat them. 

“My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgement, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. For, I, too was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s child.” Proverbs 4:1-3

This is Solomon, one of the wisest people ever to live, advising his son not to repeat his mistakes. Parent from a place of compassion.

“You’re going to make mistakes,” I told my daughter during one of our after school hear to hearts, “and sometimes things just happen to you.” 

She looked at me as if I couldn’t possibly understand what that was like, so I ripped off a band-aid.

“I don’t like to think about it,” I continued, “but it’s hard to forget.” 

I know all too well how one mistake can taint years of hard work. The pain of loss …the shattering hurt of a broken heart …and the failure to prepare that derails dreams. I’ve lived through everything crumbling. I watched 9/11 happen on live TV. I know what it feels like to travel down a road approved by everyone else …but me …and certainly not God. I’ve been the victim unfair circumstances. I know what it feels like to turn on my heels and run, dig a hole too deep to climb out of, and crawl back to Christ.

In the ten steps it took my daughter her to cross the room, her tears transformed from anger to empathy, loneliness to loved, ashamed to understood.

In the midst of my beautiful mess, God showed me who He made. I’m very careful not to glorify, excuse or leave out the painful consequences of my choices. Nor the unfair kind of pain we suffer from at the hand of someone or something else. As time marches on, mom becomes a little more human. It’s hard for my daughters to believe I could ever be anyone but who they perceive me to be …but it’s crucial they understand who I am. I’m never ready to rip off a band-aid, but I persevere so my kids have a choice to escape the some wounds, and reconcile why others happen to them. Mother’s will do anything to protect their children.

“Why does God let us chose, Mom?” she asked.

“What if we didn’t have to?” I asked, “Or, get to?” 

God is good. He doesn’t need anything from us, but we need Him. When I am tempted to go back and re-defeat myself over a season that God has proclaimed victorious He reminds me, “you are the same girl I have always loved.” 

We are so tempted to equate our worth to our actions, mistakes and accomplishments. Walking with Christ inspires us to do better, but we will never outgrow mistakes and consequences, nor outrun pain and suffering, this side of heaven. 

His love for us never changes. Just like I will never see my daughters or love them less because of mistakes, who we are to Him doesn’t change. What a gift in perspective, motherhood is. 

Happy Healing, Megs 🙂

Megs

10 Ways God Speaks to Us Today

Though we aren’t likely to hear the audible voice of God through a burning bush as Moses did, or in the midst of a dream as Joseph experienced, the One who spoke the earth and the heavens into existence still speaks to us today. When we seek to understand the character of our Creator, our lives will begin to reveal His protective hand. 

A foundational relationship with our Father in heaven can be established because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. With His death, the temple curtain was torn, and we were all granted access to the One True God. In the think of life’s unfairness, He stands by our side. Through our mistakes and missteps, His back never turns on us. In our triumphs, He awaits the first high-five of praise. We don’t have to fix or become better versions of ourselves to start hearing from God. He loves each of us for who we are, right now. Though some of the ways He speaks to us today are incomprehensible, here are ten that we can trust expectantly.

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A Prayer for Moms with Sick Kids in the Summertime

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28

Summer is a welcome break in routine. Relaxation. Laughter. Sunshine. Fun. But soon after the regularity that our children are accustomed to comes ends, their health can take a brief nose dive. 

To all of the moms exhausted by long summer days and seasonal viruses… take heart. Through prayer, we can regain our strength and help our little ones return to fun in the sunshine. 

Father, praise You for summertime. We long to stretch our legs and run the entire length of the long days that the season of summer brings. The flowers bloom, the grass turns green again, and everything seems to come back to life. In Your time, all things work for the glory of Your good. From the changing of the weather, to the seasons of our lives. Praise Your eternal and all-encompassing grasp on the minutes of our lives. 

Thank You for the joy that children bring to us, as they scamper barefoot in the grass and rescue worms chased onto the sidewalk. The familiar smell of a hard summer rain causes us to smile as we watch our kids run freely through the downpours that cool off the hot summer pavement. There is a joy in letting go of bedtimes for campfires and firefly chases. Through our children, we are reminded of the simple tones of happiness that rest in the humid days and starry nights of summertime. 

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Moms, Don’t Trust Your Fickle Feelings

Up the stairs she stomped, quickly followed by a slamming door. Once again, I had let my least favorite characteristics bubble to the surface and rain down over my tween. Placing trust in the fickle fade of aggravated feelings hurts our kids and our confidence. Paul assures us that our sinful desires wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Moms like me who have taken the bait and engaged in an argument with their child know exactly what Paul speaks of in Romans 7:15. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” 

Fickleness, defined by dictionary.com as “likely to change,” is not a reliable source by which to gauge our decisions to parent. God, on the other hand, is reliable, constant, omnipotent, sovereign, and patient. In my life, I’ve found it impossible to maintain any of the parental behaviors I aim for without a solid foundation of God’s truth to instruct and encourage my heart. 

Below are a handful of verses that have helped me prevent, stop, and recover from the moments that I have been tempted to, or have let my fickle feelings rule my parenting. Our children are God’s first. The goal of parenting isn’t to mimic God’s authority, but rather to submit to it in obedience as we lead our children to His feet.

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A Prayer for Suicidal Women

Human suffering is a part of life. It’s crucial to remember what we know about God in the moments when we teeter on the edge of leaving it behind. Our hardship is never in vain, though we feel deserted and desperate. God loves us (John 3:16). He promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5). He hears us (1 John 5:14) and answers us (1John 5:15). God alone is fit to judge us (James 4:12). We are not fit to sentence ourselves to death. God’s timing is perfect (Ecclesiastes 8:6). He cares for us (Matthew 10:30) and has a purpose in place for each and every life (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Repeated together in prayer, God’s Word has the power to lift us out of the deepest pit, the darkest despair, and soul swallowing sadness. Look to Him in confidence, knowing that He is especially close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). 

Father, proof abounds of the work of Your hands… but we can’t see it. We are too engulfed in depression and angst, tragedy and pain, to look up. Help us hold onto the truth proclaimed in Proverbs 3:5-6. To trust You with our whole hearts and lean not on our own understanding. 

Thank you for Jesus. Because of His death on the cross, we know that He understands our pain and suffering. Though we do not possess the ability to process our pain with His clarity, we can take solace in knowing that even Your Son struggled on this earth. You promise us that Your grace is sufficient for us, Your power made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Father, forgive us for considering any other plan but Your own for our lives. In the middle of the pain, it’s hard to remember what we know about how good You are. That our humanity is subject to sinful nature, and all of the struggle and consequence that comes along with it. But you never leave us, never abandon us. Jesus died so that we could cry out to You. Sometimes, we can only cry, yell, or throw our fists in the air. Thank You for the comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit translates our hearts to You. 

Psalm 27:14 tells us to wait for you… to be strong and take heart and wait for you. For “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God’” (Luke 18:27). In these desperate moments and trying hours, we need to remember that our thoughts are not your thoughts. There is no possible way that we can understand You, or Your ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). We just have to trust that You are good… You are love defined, and You will defend us. Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” 

Father, bless and heal our hearts and our ailments. Restore our hope in the One who has the power to do something about our circumstances. In a world that is throwing us around, help us to see Your hand reaching down to pluck us out before we are trampled. Help us to believe that our lives have a meaning and a purpose greater than what we can tangibly understand on this side of heaven. Instill godly confidence in us to live by Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 

Psalm 86:7 says, “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” It doesn’t say, “because You might answer me…” 

Answer us, Father. Help us. Heal us. Restore our life and fill our hearts with the hope that only You can provide. For Your glory, we want Your will for our lives above our plans and escape routes. You place people purposefully in our lives, Father. People who need us… who need to witness Your miracle in our comeback. People who need our love, which we are free to give because of the way you extravagantly love us. At our best and at our worst, Your love is unchanging. 

Restore our lives, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, amen. 

This article was originally posted on crosswalk.com. Click here for the original post.

Perfect Peace for Imperfect Parents

Climbing ‘Parent Mountain’ takes faith. Soon after our newborn babies gaze back at us with the fresh hope of new life, the inventible responsibility crashes into our reality. God knows we feel insufficiently equipped. He created us to rely on Him. The falling feeling of not being able to sink our foot securely into the next step signals us to reach for His hand. 

The overwhelming juggle of our own personal growth alongside that of our kin lends our advice to be as imperfect as we are! Where is the peace in that? In Him. To maintain a perfect peace through imperfect lives and rapidly crumbling world, we must place our trust in God’s wisdom. Peace is found in submission to His unchanging authority over our lives. He has gone before us and remains with us. 

1. A Clean Slate 

The first pathway to peace in parenting is prayer. There’s no way to shortcut around prayer if peace is what we seek. Jesus set the tone in Mark 1:35 by praying first thing in the morning. Getting up early and portioning off that time is a challenge and a sacrifice, but God honors every bit of time we set aside for Him. 

Why not pray while we’re brushing our teeth, or making our coffee? Can we roll over after we hit the snooze button and pray God’s blessing over the day? It’s not as hard as we make it out to be. How many of us awake to our smartphones, and find ourselves scrolling mindlessly after we snooze our alarms? When we redirect our roaming thoughts to Him, Peace ushers in. 

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