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

How to Protect your Family from Bullying

“Love your enemies. Pray for those who torment and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 Voice Paraphrase)

Why would Jesus tell us to pray for someone that has snuck past our radar and hurt our family? The “bully” is a beloved child of God, too. The pain in their life is fueling their wrath towards us.

In a society where the hate is palpable, we have to slow down and sit with our Savior before we launch into our defensive attack. Through our actions and reactions towards bullying, we can lead the way for others who find themselves in similar situations. Even though it feels personal, it’s not. 

“The devil has come to kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants us to fight each other like plastic foosball players, but Jesus has already crushed His agenda. If we refuse to play into it, we will experience what He came to give us: life to the full. (John 10:10 b). 

How to Protect Your Family from Bullying: 

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Interrupted.

My daughter can internally digest her weekly vocab list in twenty minutes, but she often chooses not to. She likes it when I am her “study buddy.” The productive grown adult in me knows dishes could have been washed, laundry folded …but time is fleeting with my tween. I drop it all and enter into the tortuous two hours. Two hours is my limit. After that, it’s not fun anymore, none of her jokes or mannerisms are cute, and “God …bless it,” is the mainstream thought flowing through my conscious as I deep breath through to the finish. 

Though we enjoy many laughs along the way, for some reason my patience runs completely dry at two hours. Why? What else do I have to do? This is the child I prayed for and the blessed life I live. What is she interrupting me from? I need to be more interruptible. How many more Thursday evenings will she be excited about me being her study buddy? Be interruptible, Meg. God …Bless it. 

Being interruptible opens our eyes up to what’s going on around us. We travel through life with tunnel vision unless we purposefully adopt an interruptible persona. Adapting to interruptibility isn’t easy. We’re tuned into the conversations of others, but often we’re calculating our response before they are done talking. Or, thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner or what we will wear to morrow. Our minds are naturally fickle. It takes effort not to be selfish.

Being interruptible sets us a part. God …bless it. All of it. ALL OF IT. 

“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” Proverbs 10:22 NIV

All things happening under the sovereign sight of God (all things) are under His control. Yet, we serve a God who is interruptible. Created in His image, it’s in us to be interruptible, too. It helps to understand how all things are tied together by our great God. All-seeing and all-knowing, Creator of the Universe, His heart is moved by our prayers. He is close to the brokenhearted. He is our Defender, and Provider. How is He interruptible?

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,” Proverbs 3:13 NIV

To gain understanding of our God requires us to seek Him, as a result of which He promises we will find Him. How does this work, this understanding? And how do we gain wisdom? Just like anything else in life, trial and error, and layers of leaning in to learn. We have to want to know, and be open to His answers through prayer and His Word. He will connect things in life that appear to be coincidence, because though He may be interruptible …He is purposeful.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace- as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV

It’s hard to sift through the insanity of this world, but when we do truly seek God, He is faithful to be found. We don’t have to change first or earn His response. Through Christ, no system of religious actions are necessary to come close to our Great God. All can pray to Him, all are welcome, and Jesus came for ALL of us. Any entitled system of judgment set in place by humanity is not of God. Jesus came to wipe the old system away, and begin a new covenant with His people. To all who believe in Jesus Christ, and accept His sacrifice for their forgiveness on the cross, eternity in heaven awaits. We confess our sins, and are forgiven.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NIV

God …Bless it. Let everything we do on this earth honor You, bring glory to You, and reflect our faith in You …and Your love for us. Help us to be interruptible. To pause and genuinely love the people in our lives well, for You love us so well. Jesus didn’t have to come down from heaven …be He did. He’s interruptible. The man who’s daughter was dying interrupted Him, and He raised his daughter from the dead. On the way, the lady that grabbled His robe interrupted Him …and He healed her. Jesus is interruptible …run to Him.

Happy Interruptibility,

Megs

A Powerful Prayer for Firefighters

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

David, the author of this psalm, knew the power of prayer and the unmistakable evidence of God’s hand of protective power in dire situations. Firefighters accept the daily pursuit of walking into fires. They are heroes among us that face the shadow of death and great peril, voluntarily.

What hope do the shepherd’s tools in Psalm 23:4 grant? “The rod was a club worn at the belt, an instrument of authority, and also for counting, guiding, rescuing and protecting sheep” (NIV Study Bible/NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible).God is sovereign over all. He is in control and knows where we are and what we face. His protective hand never waivers. Our faithful and loving Father encourages us to lean into and on Him when our strength fails us. His power and His love embolden us to conquer impossible tasks. “The staff was a walking implement that doubled as a weapon in a time of need and guided and controlled the sheep; it was an instrument of support” (NIV Study Bible/NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible).This is the protective power of God’s Word we pray over firefighters, today.

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Who Were Jesus’ Friends

“You are my friends.” (John 15:14)

Jesus had a close circle of 12 on this earth, but He calls us friends, too. The NKJV Chronological Bible Notes for this verse explain,“While He was not implying that His friends were His equals, He was offering to share with them what belonged to Him.” And the second half of John 15:14, “You are my friends, if you do what I command,” gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ perspective of friendship. 

It’s important to consider what friendship meant in Bible times. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that “the language of friendship was applied to patron-client relationships, in which patrons supplied some needs of clients.” NKJV Chronological Study Bible Notes says, “In the Roman world, a ‘friend’ was often a political ally who owed one a favor, or a more powerful patron on whom one could depend.”

But we don’t often think of the friends of Jesus as political allies or business acquaintances. Jesus took a concept familiar to those that surrounded Him at the time, and redefined what it meant to be a friend. “Jesus is our model for love… If believers obey His command to love, they enjoy the intimacy of His friendship. Friendship… is not a once-for-all gift, but develops as the result of obeying Jesus’ command to love” (NKJV Study Bible).

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Hold Me Accountable.

I have a child who hears everything I say no matter how many floors of the house and blaring TV’s or devices separate us. She pops up into conversations at random and repeats things I thought were out of her earshot. I really wish I could screen her questions before she asks them, and cringe in fear of what she might say whenever her little hand pops straight up into the air to ask a question. She holds me accountable! Whatever I say is coming back at me, full speed …in front of everyone …at the most awkward time possible. There are no breaks in parenting! No breaks.

The digital age has it’s challenges for parents and kids alike. The questions are endless, the monitoring never-ending, and the app requests are constant. One generation is growing up immersed in information and accessibility like never before. The older generations attempting to parent their children through all of this haven’t lived through it from the ground up like they have. It’s challenging to stand in credibility when we’re learning so much on the fly, ourselves. 

In some ways, the generational gaps are very similar to those we experienced with our parents. But in many ways, the world seems to be a brand new ball game. A scary one. Terrifying, even. It’s not in our heads. We’re not being paranoid. It’s not a product of watching too much of the news. The world is catapulting towards it’s inevitable end at a very fast rate. We live in the end times, the time between Jesus going to heaven to be with the Father, and the time He will return again to set ALL OF IT straight. Until then, here we are. More broken than ever. More catastrophe than ever. More hurt, pain, suffering, and tragedy than ever. And since we’re more connected and technologically advanced than ever, we know more than ever about ALL OF IT. 

It’s overwhelming. 

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Romans 3:19 NIV

Every mouth silenced. The VOICE paraphrase says, “muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice.” 

Holding ourselves accountable to God’s truth sends a powerful message to our children. Our actions make a bigger impact than what comes out of our mouths. Openly sharing our faith with our children makes a difference, but allowing them to watch us live it puts it in bold italics. Children want to be accepted for who they are, right now. They need to be loved for who they are, while they grow. In the midst of awkward transitions happening to the backdrop of an ever-changing world, our children need love to live.

We need Love to live. All of us.

There are things we are not going to be able to explain to ourselves, or to our children. There are simply no answers for all of the horrific things that happen in this world. No ability to understand them even if God gave them to us. How do we throw our trust in God, regardless? Everything we need to know can be unlocked by opening up the Bible and praying for understanding. Seeking God, and holding onto His promise that we will find Him. 

Christianity is not a mythical faith that requires us to throw all of our gumption into the unknown. Jesus Christ can be proven. If you are searching for answers, keep searching, keep asking, and you will find them. God is not hiding. In fact, He wants to be found. For ourselves, as parents, that’s an important fact to embrace. Our kids are watching us. They are watching to see how are faith holds us together. How we make sense out of the things that don’t seem to make sense. 

Our lives speak for themselves. 

In this world, we are promised to have trouble. We are told, as Christians, it will be even harder. Why would anyone sign up for that? For the promise of eternity with Christ in heaven. Fact finding firms the foundation of our faith, but walking with Christ brings us to our knees. The personal, daily care our Heavenly Father leads us with. Going before us, behind us, and remaining with us. Despite the world, despite ourselves, we see life through a different filter than those who choose to walk without Him. A filter of grace, hope, peace, and love …that surpasses all understanding. 

We cannot authentically love the people in our lives well unless we are putting Love first in our lives. It effects everything. Our kids notice, our friends see, our family knows. Strength comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The world is a mess, yep. It’s going to keep getting messier, yep. But hope is still hope. Love is still Love. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father who sees all and knows all. In ways we only get glimpses of, all of mess will be cleaned up, in due time. In His perfect time. In the meantime, we learn on the fly. We grow with our kids. We embrace every good thing and trust that God is somehow making good out of all the bad. 

When the world butts up against us, all abrasive and entitled, we can choose to forgive forward, love despite, and compassionately extend kindness. Our kids are watching. They are listening. They hear everything. Who are we echoing?

Happy Accountability,

Megs