The Push

The school year is over, and I’m predictably about to cry at any given moment. Guilty of over-celebrating every moment of my daughter’s lives, they wake up on the last day of school to ballooned rooms and streamers decking out the doorway.

The Push 1

The only way I’ve found get through the annual commencement on to the next grade level is by preparing to crumble under emotional pressure. As a mom, I want to know that I’ve given them all of the opportunities they need to accomplish the dreams they don’t even realize they have yet. Helping children find their niche is a hard part of life to put a pulse on. It’s not a lot of pressure, really, just a ton and a half … and that can induce a tad bit of parental competitiveness, to say the least. To stay on the encouraging side of the word push, I’m learning to let go … and pray …a lot. 

1.Push

Push- an act of exerting force on someone or something in order to move them away from oneself. -Google

I didn’t think being competitive was a bad thing, until I realized how often I fail to shut it off at the appropriate time. My little girl used to love playing her ukulele. #competitivefail. My littlest refuses to even line up and race anyone at anything for fear of losing …#uh-oh #competitive.

To encourage my kids without discouraging them seems impossible to me, because I’m not sure how to function on that level. The fact that I fall short in so many ways magnifies mid-mind, and reflects poorly on my parenting if I’m not privy to flip the switch.

I run the risk of seriously mismanaging my mothering by allowing the tornado of competitive thought to push on my parenting decisions.  I let it whir and woo me, suddenly convinced that I’m clueless and dysfunctional. The snap of the comparison trap yaps loudly in my ears, as I look at other people’s lives through an unfocused lens.

“I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.” Psalm 118:13

When I’m being pushed away from who I am, the great “I Am”  braces me from complete crumbling.  The One qualified to guide lives with care is He who created each and every individual one with love and purpose. Jesus, who walked to the cross, waits to wipe the heavy and helpless tears.

Encouragement is found in the push to pray. 

The Push 2

2. Reach

Reach-stretch out an arm in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something. -Google

“Mom,” my eight year old laughed from the backseat, “you’re always happy.”

The highway lines blurred with fresh tears.

“Mom,” she whispered in my ear as she gave me zero personal space during a meeting she tagged along to, “you’re good at being silly…”

Wow. I didn’t feel silly. I didn’t feel happy.  After the waterfall of emotions that had enveloped my week, I hardly felt like good company …let alone a good mom.

God reached out to me through the most important call He has put on my life to speak:

“You’re OK.”

“It’s OK.”

“I love you.”

“For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.” Mark 3:10

I remember pushing and sneakily squeezing by people to get closer to the stage at a Kenny Chesney concert.  Did I think he would spot me in the crowd and we’d be best friends from that day on? It was a ridiculous case of “star struck.”

Those first believers in Christ pushed through that crowd. These people who pushed for Jesus knew EXACTLY what could happen if they touched him. Diseases were being healed, demons chased out of spirits. This wasn’t just some singer in a cowboy hat on stage, this was God walking among them!!!! If we push through this world’s agony with faith of that magnitude, we will heal.

As I imagine the crowd pushing towards Jesus, I remember what it felt like to be tossed around in a concert mosh pit in my twenties.   The force of a determined crowd can be fierce.

When my tiny distance-runner frame got knocked to the ground in that pit, I was scared to death of being trampled on. Instead, I looked up to a hand reaching out to pull me right back up again. There is peace in the push, but we have to reach for it. Keep pushing in prayer, reaching for His hand, and pressing through the crowd.

Over the panic that she can’t do a cart-wheel yet when everyone else can. When she looks back at me to see my reaction…

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you.”The Push 3

When she gets stuck on a word as she’s learning to read, and a wave of frustration takes over her beautiful face …the all too recognizable, “I’ll just never get this right,” tears…

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you.”

Encouragement is found in the push to pray. He is right there. Already knowing, and ready to embrace me in my frustration of simply being human. Jesus, in His perfect way …says,

“You’re OK. It’s OK. I love you. Reach…”

It’s easy to confuse the alienation of this world with feeling hopeless and alone. Jesus allows us the opposite privilege. Let go, and let Him. #neveralone

Happy Summer!

Megs

 

 

 

 

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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.”

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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)

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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…

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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

The Favorite

“I can’t believe this is not even a dream.”

Lauren tugged her seat-belt around her neck to click it fastened without breaking her gaze with the fluffy ball of puppy sitting on my lap as we drove out of the school pick up line. After years of campaigning, Cherry the golden-doodle had just made Lauren’s long awaited puppy dream come true.

“I can’t believe this is not even a dream.”

I stumbled around the house half-soaked in puppy pee at 4AM, fumbling to flip on every light to illuminate the leash that had vacated it’s convenient spot by the door. Yanked out of my warm bed and into the snow, the full struggle of what I’d anticipated began to sink into my ice cold toes.

image“I will train you, and I will be the favorite,” I mused, seeking redemption for my husband’s ranking with the last family pet.

Puppy training is so incredibly similar to tiny people training. Sleep deprived. Pressed for patience. Tongue tied and tired and prone to tears. Bitten in the knees and scratched in the face. Being the “favorite” was exhausting. How many times does life bite back at us like that, in sinking defeat when our physicality fails us…

The responsibility that resides alongside favoritism is a calling we cannot conform to unaccompanied.

“Didn’t the lady say to keep extending her time in the crate?” my husband asked. Those words were written on a tip sheet on my desk the whole time…buried underneath my puppy agenda. Thankful he braved my madness, a wave of relief washed over me as I latched the door shut.

imageThe truth we hide in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) will pierce through insecurities and put our doubts in the crate. Be encouraged that we weren’t made to accomplish it alone. Let’s open God’s “tip sheet,” and uncover some Biblical truth.  After all, it’s been sitting here the whole time.

1. I’ve got this, because God’s got me.

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”

Let’s learn forward by looking back. David, the author of this verse, undoubtedly leaned on prayer for his survival. This one in particular he prayed as a dad, looking back at the end of his life in preparation to crown his son, Solomon.

“In Hebrew,’will’ can be translated ‘rason,’ a word that expresses an individual’s personal desires, wants, or will.”It’s used to describe God’s will in the NIV translation, or a battle of wills among two people. (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary.) Click “Study This”

David was pleased to please God. He wasn’t just obedient because he felt he had to be. From the deepest crack in his heart, David willed to want God’s will.

“And it is hard to say which shines brighter here, the setting sun or the rising sun….He was neither proud of his own good work nor envious of the good works of others.”Matthew Henry’s Commentary

David didn’t always act favored, but He felt God’s favoritism in his heart. God is faithful to remind me not to plant my feet on the mark of my own ambitions, abilities, or the approval of others. Each morning, the message is… “Get your heart, right, favorite.”

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2. The battle has already been won. Just breathe.
David knew that his joy came from the honest relationship he maintained with God, knowing that He was all that he needed. David’s life reflected the honest, open-hearted relationship that God still desires to maintain with us to this day. Accept we don’t have to kill animals and rely on priests to carry our message….because of Jesus we can now go straight to God with our lives. We can call Him, Dad, and pour our tears down in prayer…lift our arms up in praise. He is with us…right here..accessible…because of Jesus.

“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

God created us in His image and incapable of doing life without Him. Oh, we can try. We can keep taking the puppy out to pee every fifteen minutes. Or we can put it in the crate and save everyone’s sanity.

God will always send a person, a song, a word, or a scene from His artwork as a sign that He loves us. The author of Chronicles took two books of the Bible to address the cry of God’s people after the reign of King David and his son King Solomon had passed…and they were left in destruction, defeat, and nomadic once again, wondering…
“Is God still interested in us?” (NIV Study Notes)

We feel that way, don’t we? When we’ve drifted so far into the hurt of our hearts that we can’t remember what He said He would do with our lives. Maybe you’ve never heard Him at all.

“I’ve never known life without kitty,” my daughter muttered sporadically after the loss of our furry feline family member.

The loss to my husband and I was way more devastating than we thought it would be, but to my seven-year old, her life shifted a little as she learned lean into the Lord to heal. When I glance over at Cherry, sleeping smack on her back just like Blizzard did, it reminds me that God is faithful to heal and restore. And my little girl is glued to new life in endless puppy cuddles.

God was still interested in His people back then, and beyond: “God’s grace and love for the restored community did not begin with David or the exodus-but with creation.” NIV Study Notes.

He’s interested. Grace, love, and restoration were ours for the grabbing before creation. Loss and loneliness are rampant parts of our realities. Enter despair, hobbling up the front steps. These truths arm us to stop it at the door.
#favorite

image God is accessible through Jesus Christ. That’s what the cross is all about. Put your puppies in the crate…give your worries to God. Set down your scrambling and pick up Jesus’ hand. He’s holding it out, lovingly shaking his head, waiting for you to give up and grab on.

You can’t do it alone, because you weren’t created to.

Let your Father be your Father…His Son will light your way…This Lent, journey to the cross. (Never heard His voice? Hearing it now? Start here.)

 

Happy puppy training…oh, wait…that’s me…prayers, please.

Megs

The Weird One

“Mom,” my seven-year-old began, “someone called me weird.”

The most precious pieces of my daughter’s heart fly gumptiously out of her mouth during our four weekly commutes to her dance studio. While the surge of adrenaline lingers alongside the remains of stale french fries and the screech of singing cats, she reveals the day’s truth.  This day was no different.  She flung her bag into the abyss of the backseat, and plopped down to catch her breath.

“Who called you weird?” I demanded.

“And Why- why did they call you that …what where you doing …when did this happen …what was your reaction…”

My mind raced alongside my blood pressure as only a mother’s does when

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…come to think of it…maybe we are a little “weird.”
the over-allotted amount of caffeine consumed that day collides with her baby enduring an injustice. In anticipation of my overprotective reaction, and predictable “turn the other cheek and be kind” lesson, she followed a quick eye-roll with profound summation beyond her years.

“I am a little weird,” she continued, “but I take it as a compliment.” I reached for the dial to turn down the “Jingle Cats.”

“What they actually mean to say is that I’m different,” she spat confidently. She lit a flattered smile and revealed, “They are actually complimenting me for being unique…and I like that.”

To think, how I might have ruined that beautiful piece of the Holy Spirit’s work with the volume of my two-sense and overprotective assault on her behalf.  I felt God’s grace quicken in my heart …

“See …you’re not doing nearly as bad as you think.”  Wink.

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Yep…we’re totally weird.
The ability to maneuver the insult maze with enough agility to cast a hateful one aside is not where my natural thought progression leads me. Instead of making light of a brooding sentiment, I park the dagger at the forefront of my thoughts.  Predictably, that fraction of negativity will seap into my brain via osmosis …become a truth I entertain, and argue with for the rest of the day. Jealous of my own daughter’s Christ-like attitude, God plucked me from my comparative seething and pulled up a memory from a week prior.

The memory’s light stirred my eyes back to the pages of my journal to a school day that ended in tear-stained cheeks over a recess battle of heart lost. Ah, second grade …when blurred lines so easily pull ugly pieces out of little girls’ hearts.

“It’s only going to get worse,” I explained in the best way I knew to

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Wait…weird is cool…and fun.
comfort her, “so you just have to figure out how not to let it affect you.”  (Confession …I often have these moments of brilliance when trying to instill wisdom upon my daughters …and then realize as the words leave my lips that I have yet to figure out how to apply them to my own life.)

My daughter and I share a gift to illuminate the love of Jesus in each others circumstances. It’s through my earnest search of God’s Word, to be the mother than leads her to Him and His truth, that I end up stumbling upon my own in our sweet bedtime conversations.

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30

“I am with you in all that you do.  At home, at school, on the playground…my Presence is always with you.“Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids, Sarah Young.

It’s not uncommon for us to look up at each other jaw-dropped after we read her devo for the day.  That night concluded with a peaceful dream etched on my heart. God’s Word tuned us back into alignment with His measure of our self-worth.

“It’s like God knows how many Legos I have …like He knows how many hairs are on my head,” And at that, we fell into a pile of giggles.

“Jesus and His message were rejected… In His own Hometown. Jesus was fully man and experienced human emotions. The people who had known Him since childhood rejected Him. Friend, it’s wonderful to have a Savior who knows exactly how we feel. There isn’t an emotion we experience He can’t understand.” Wendy Pope (First 5)

The babe born in a manger, grew up feeling the same aches and joys that inhabit our hearts.  It’s easier to hold Jesus’ hand in secret comfort, than to face an all knowing and omnipresent God with our grievances.  Christmas encompasses the great generosity of the gift of approach-ability through His Son…a love every parent can relate to …a sacrifice no one can.

The sweet smiling compassion that will sit on the level of my child’s bed and laugh with us.  That is what Christmas is all about; giving generously as He gave to us.  During Advent, we prepare our hearts so that there is room for the light, love, and encouragement He speaks to us in His Word.

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Jesus was “the” weird one.  He knew it.  He embraced it.  He knew what they did not… And perhaps not all that walked in His lifetime meant it as a compliment, but he wore it as one.  His recorded conversations in the Word reveal humorous quips alongside wise convictions.  He lived among us to save us, not so that we would spend every day drowning in self-deprecation.  Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green,” but can you imagine him being any other color?

“I take being called weird as a compliment.”

A second grader’s vocabulary is still a little limited…maybe they just can’t imagefind the word to describe how awesome my daughter is.  Or, perhaps there isn’t one.  Maybe the only one that fits her perfectly is…Brianne.

There’s only One who knows who we really are …and His name is Jesus.  Emmanuel …”God with us.”

“Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Happy Christmas,

Megs