The Cubes

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Do you ever have those moments with your children where you deliver sage advice, and then feel immediately guilty because you fail to receive and apply the same principles to your own life? (I’m raising my own hand.)

imageHolly Gerth’s gift to sift through the cobwebs of applicable truth catered to the way God created the human psyche is remarkable. In her new, You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide, she introduced me to new bits of my own reflection.

This inventory check drifted into a crucial life-stretch. My house is quiet for hours at a time …for the first time …in eight years. My injured Achilles heal put an end to the first item on my “kids in school all day” bucket list marathon, so I shifted over to the second… write a book. I’d rather conquer the pain of marathon training than the doubt of exposing my unqualified thoughts for all to pick a part. Holly reminded me, re-grounded me, and urged me forward into who God created me to be …as if we’d known each other a lifetime. Now that’s a gift.
I feel more equipped with wisdom in my calling, confidence, and conversation. The kind of wisdom James illuminates in James 3:17:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

1. Calling.

“Nothing is more powerful than simple obedience.” -Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide.

James 3:17 wisdom is not your average type of wisdom. It involves obedience to in order to imagereach fruition. The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines James 3:17 wisdom as “given by God alone,” and “resulting in right action.” 

Each session of the Life Growth Guide reset my thoughts to the right caliber of wisdom. It’s easy to get lost in misdirected thoughts, and reset to worldly statutes when my flesh aches. But James 3:17 wisdom requires a purposeful process of understanding who we are built to become before we rationalize anything to anyone. In order to be called we must be listening to the right voice of wisdom. The One that trumps all achievement here on earth.  James 3:17 wisdom requires the right wisdom to fill the space between my ears.

2.Confidence

“Expectations are laws we place on ourselves and each other…What’s God’s answer to those expectations, to those laws we create for ourselves or let others lay down for us? Grace.” Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide

imageIs there anything more aggravating that when our character is called into question? I feel constantly on guard of attack in episodes of doubt. James 3:17 character is “full of mercy.” The Dictionary of Bible Themes dictates that the James 3:17 believer’s character is “to be merciful.” 

A confident calling is no coincidence. God gives us big enough feet to fill our God-sized dreaming shoes, but we have to lace them up. To build confidence to be able to pursue the path God’s laid out for us, we need to set realistic expectations based on what God’s gifted us. The Life Growth Guide did wonders in unraveling who God made me to be. Who knew there was a process that could determine what you were meant to do by what you like to do. #amazing

There’s so many times I make it harder than it has to be. Correctly based confidence is a product of wisdom applied. I love the part in Exodus when Moses’ face is literally lit up after experiencing the presence of God. (Ex. 34:29,35) When we spend time with God in His Word, He will not only illuminate the truth (Matt 5:14), but I believe our flames start to flicker brighter, too. Holley takes such great care to walk through God’s Word as it pertains to unlocking the potential He laid within our framework. That’s what makes it shine so bright.

3.Conversation

“But simply having a full life and experiencing life to the full are two very different things…A purposeful existence never happens by accident. We mush choose it every single day.” -Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide

The “good fruit” in James 3:17, according to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, is an “image of the church’s mission: a fruitful plant in a fruitless world.”

At the heart of every calling is a confident conversation To testify Jesus as the only way to imagethe Father. That’s what Christianity is all about. That’s the compass of wisdom directing us out of meaningless doubt and conflict and into the mission of spreading the Gospel. It’s imperative to go through a process like which Holley brings us through, so that we can execute the mission we are here on earth to accomplish until God calls us home.

 “True wisdom will go on …to make peace in the world.” -Matthew Henry’s Commentary on James 3:17

I want so badly to grab control of my gifts and squish them into goal sized ice cubes. But frozen fortitude isn’t going to thaw any hearts. It’s an everyday process of sacrifice. Leviticus 1 is all about sacrifice…the specifics of it…it’s really kind of gross…makes me want to be a vegan. But God spoke to me about the type of sacrifice I’m meant to make daily. The cubes. Purified of any particles I may not even have noticed I added to the water.

Walk through this journey with Holley. It was as simple as starting with what I like to do. What am I good at? Who do I drift towards?  God lent His wisdom through her words, to restore old and establish new confidence in my calling. I believe God will help you, through her faithfulness in answering her own calling,to realize that “You’re Already Amazing.” #foreverthankful

Happy Growing…

Megs

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The Compassionate Quit

“Be merciful to those who doubt.” (NIV) Jude 1:22

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“I quit.”

With every Kindergarten foot-stomp, adult miscommunication, seven-year old sassy stare, and unnerved “NO!- That’s not something we tell the dog ‘NO’ for,” I holler down the hallways of my home, I yearn a little bit more for a vacation away from all of them …the people and the thoughts.

“You’re not a good parent…just give up.”

“You’re not a good wife…just give up.”

“You’re not a good friend…just give up.”

“You’re not a good writer…just give up.”

“You’re not a good …daughter, sibling, co-worker, church member …fill it in how it feels …and then just give up.”

If we’re being real, that’s someone’s reality. Today, it’s mine. I can see my lack of self-control reflected in my struggle to maintain the last word…even with my dog.

“Don’t you DARE bite me…” I’ll stare menacingly. They’re supposed to read your facial expressions, right? I’m not a good dog owner …maybe I should just give up.

My relationships reflect my constant battle with insecurities.

“They shouldn’t treat me that way…” Quit.

I crave entitlement to curb my doubts.

“I deserve better…” Walk away…again.

God met me right in the middle of this tantrum with a verse and a book that squashed my imagedoubt and commanded, “Don’t Quit.”

When we quiet the quitter by commanding compassion, we witness to the wavering. Through Jude 1:22 and Nicki Koziarz’s book, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” Christ compelled me to stop whining keep walking.

 1. Quit the quitter.

“Have mercy on those who are wavering.” Jude 1:22 (TLV)

“Have loving-kindness for those who doubt.” Jude 1:22 (NLV)

imageRefuse to pour out doubt before you recognize the reflection. It’s unworldly to look in the mirror to heal ill-regard towards others. Justification is the more acceptable method of problem solving in our legalistic society.

It’s not the people and the circumstances in my life that are causing me mental unrest…it’s the disheveled way I’m running the course through and to my calling. But when I reach out and read I find I’m not alone…

Jude was Jesus’ brother. Yet, his qualification to speak on Christianity came from a lifetime of growing up in the same household with, but not believing, he lived among the Son of God. #oops (Men of the Bible, Bible Gateway) 

Nicki’s honesty in revealing her “Quit List” comforted me to tears. #AMEN Testimony can reach out in such a personal way when the faithful share God’s story of their life.

Life Application: It’s easy to pitch a tent of pointed fingers and quit hard people and situations, but I’d rather look back at the meandering path of walking with Christ. When we feel a hint of aggravation creeping into our temperament, stop and pray for God to unplug the compassion-clog.

2. Command Compassion

“And have mercy on some, who are doubting.” Jude 1:22 (NASB)

“And of some have compassion, making a difference.” Jude 1:22 (KJV) 

“And you must show mercy to those who’s faith is wavering.” Jude 1:22 (NLT)

My qwerty keyboard lit on fire with crying smiley-faces when Nicki shared her experience with peroxide contact solution in her eye. I was so thankful not to be the only one who had somehow dismissed the bright red cap of warning, and pictured myself doing the spazzed-out eye-burning dance as she recalled her own. (Page 64, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.)

I expected her book to be funny and easy to relate to, but I did not expect to cry like a baby when she peeled back my secret struggle of marital life By unveiling her own honest sentiments. What secret? That it’s HARD. It’s so hard. Unbelievably hard, even when you’re blessed with the best.

I’m forever thankful she chose to come alongside of me that day. Her compassionate wave of the “It’s OK” flag released the flood gates of something I wasn’t sure was “normal” to feel. The next morning, God so faithfully and personally placed people in my kitchen to call it out and pray it out with me. #awesomeness.

“What is my responsibility to other people? Move with compassion. Touch the untouchable. Give what you can. Point to Jesus.” -Pastor Todd Nielsen, The Chapel

Christian love get’s lost in the movement, sometimes. Sharing the struggles behind the smiles of your life is “caring enough to move” (Pastor Todd Neilsen)…and that’s compassion defined. I pray God allows me to be there for other people like me, who exude laughter and encouragement, but are inclined and conditioned to tough it out.

Life Application: If we can learn to lean in to the One who made us a midst struggle and strife, I believe we’ll discover the confidence hidden in our truest pieces. And I know those pieces are meant to touch hearts and save souls.

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3. Witness to the wavering.

“On some have compassion, making a distinction.” Jude 1:22 (MSG)

“On some have compassion, using discernment.” Jude 1:22 (MEV

“Try to help those who argue against you. Be merciful to those who doubt.” Jude 1:22 (TLB)

For anyone who tests out of personality quizzes with leadership skills like I do, the struggle with control is real. But God wouldn’t build a trait into my character unless He meant it for good. How can control be a good thing? The obvious benefits of self-control are easy to equate, but while studying this word I discovered a new layer.

“Control: A person who acts as a check. A check or restraint. To eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of. To test or verify…”-Dictionary.com

My religious upbringing lit the love of Christ in my heart, but there came a time when I imagehad to sift through rules to release my relationship with God. The floodgates of conversation flew open when I lifted up the consequential constraints of penance to begin running my disheveled course of calling. I had to lose control to gain control. 

Control of each soul’s marathon is beyond a human’s ability to reason and rule. As we stride up alongside each other on life’s disheveled course of calling, our duty is to extend an encouraging word and a “you can do it” through whatever personality skill you’re gifted the highest score.

“Christian freedom is not a hall pass to do whatever one wishes.” Case for Christ Study Bible, Jude image1:22  Rather, Christian freedom is the way Nicki described it in her book:
“Goodness, I mess up all the time. I say things I shouldn’t say. I have thoughts I shouldn’t have. I doubt when I should trust. I quit things I shouldn’t quit. And yet God is always there dabbing more and more grace on my soul. He doesn’t quit me; He just keeps ‘touching up’ the places of weakness in me.” Nicki Koziarz, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.”

Sometimes, God’s people will dab grace on your soul during the race…

Life Application: When doubters see you overcome what they are underneath, a “me too” mentality is born from testimony. Share the hard stuff, and be real with God about your stuff.

Each translation of Jude 1:22 perpetuates a unique revelation. God will speak your language, where you’re at. Jude’s letter emphatically urged his audience to be wary of “grumblers and fault-finders” toting Christian freedom as “a license for immorality,” (Case for Christ Study Bible) and ended his letter by pointing back to God, who is “fully able to keep those who put there trust in Him.” (NIV Study Notes James 1:24-25)

Synonyms for control, according to Dictionary.com, are: management, government, reign, rule, mastery. Rest assured, the author of the universe is in control. Everything has a flip side. Christians know the ending. Stay focused on the finish line, and make the choice to keep your control setting flipped to His.

“When we feel others are not giving us what we need, it’s really easy to give up. We start to feel resentful, and maybe a little entitled.” Nicki Koziarz “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.”

imageIt’s a disheveled course, but God designed my personality to persevere around every sharp corner and up every steep…never-ending hill. Jesus’ scarred hands extend compassion to me…which bleeds out of my life, and prayerfully onto those who need to know that He loves them, too. That’s the mission. Until the we hug Him in heaven …there’s no time to quit.

Happy “Not” Quitting…

Megs

The Friend Book

 

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The fog cast an erie lure of anxiety over a familiar place one February day as I swam down the pier through a cloud of fog, searching wide-eyed for the lighthouse I knew was there. I checked my footprints to make sure I was still on the pavement, not glazed over River, and gazed upwards and around for any shred of light peaking through. I trekked out to the lighthouse, still assuredly out there beyond the mist. To the right of mine, a wispy top-layer of snow revealed one single set of down and back footprints. All alone … I took full liberty of the backstage curtain of fog and released my dance moves to the new album I couldn’t stop listening to.

My quest to “be me” occasionally feels akin to walking down the pier in thick fog. I lose sight of what I know is there, and what I know isn’t there, I want to see. God always has a way of breaking through the thickness with a shard of light. Many times, that glint of hope comes in the form of a friend.

There has been a book about friendship spinning around in my head for many years. Perhaps it circulates because I have never quite found an author that has addressed my trademark quest to “be friends with everyone.” I believe when God wants you to write about something, He wants to show you something. Research and reading unravel answers, but sometimes God uses people to pull it all together. As for me and the topic of friendship, God brightened my perspective through Dawn Camp’s book called “The Gift of Friendship.”

From the very first line of the intro, I knew God set out to teach me through the pages of this book. Any doubt of that was squashed as the words “cross-country parent” ran off the next set of pages. I had been a high-school XC runner, a collegiate XC runner, and a XC coach. “XC parent” was the only title I hadn’t held in the sport. “Surely,” I remember thinking as I read Dawn’s words, “I can learn from her perspective.”

By page 86 and “when I yell at my kids,” I felt I’d made a friend already. It’s always comforting to know that other Christians lose their cool. Without giving away too much, here’s a peak into what I gleaned about friendship from this book.

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1. Start.

Making a new friend, or approaching a new season with an established one, takes a slow walk in humility. John 15:9 instructs us to “remain in His love,” and snap judgements and circles of gossip definitely lie outside of it. Walk in prayerful consideration to stop and think before saying or doing anything that could hurt another soul, especially one that is akin to your friendship; but without disregard for a sweet one you may be squashing before it’s given the opportunity to sprout buds and grow.

“Mom,” she said with great authority, “I’ve decided something about friends. They all have good stuff and bad stuff. Things you like and things that really annoy you. So, you just have to decide if you can handle their package deal.” Lysa TerKeurst, “The Gift of Friendship.”

2. Run.

imageThat foggy pier walk rekindled a revelation I’d had years back as a young runner. Comparing the trace of my tracks in the snow, one set revealed a wisp on the tail of my heal where I had drug my feet. The other set, after I noticed and corrected the problem, was nice and clean. Dragging feet cause runners overuse injuries from this mark of improper form. In my friendships, I’m challenged to peer into the past before I bite back.

“There is power in friendship. If it didn’t matter, threatening to end it wouldn’t be our knee-jerk reaction.” Anna Rendell, “The Gift of Friendship.”

Don’t fear forgiveness …the asking or the receiving of it. You may open the door of relief for someone who needs to unload the burden of imperfections that they carry. We all carry them. “We all fall short.” (Romans 3:23) So, have mercy.

“When someone smacks you, the instant and unavoidable response is to turn away from them. The’ve forced you to do so. But what you do after that moment changes everything.” Holly Gerth, “The Gift of Friendship”

3. Change.

I picked up a cross necklace a few years back when I needed a constant visual reminder that Jesus was with me no matter how tight the drama in my life was wound. The first time I put it on, I noticed there was inscription on the back. “Be the change.” As a new coach implementing lots of changes, I took it as a sign that I was running in pace with God’s plan. Really, it just meant to be me through the change. A me that was changing…the growing kind of change.

Kindness can mean everything to someone living in a moment in which everything is crumbling. When my kids come to me annoyed with a classmate, the sting of my own experience in nonacceptance flares back to the surface.

“There’s always something good you can find about a person,” I teach them, “Find it, and focus on that.”

Focus on the light beyond the fog.

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“How about we start taking time to get to know the hearts belonging to all those new faces? What if we extend grace? Everyone has bad days and no one is immune to letting emotions slip in hasty replies.” Melanie Porter, “The Gift of Friendship”

Friends defy definition. Church friends, Bible study friends, high school and college friends, teammates, family, bloggers, work peers, neighbors and far away friends, Facebook friends, and authors who write words that resonate so much with our hearts that they feel like friends…

“Treasure friendship in whatever form it takes.” Dawn Camp, “The Gift of Friendship

I believe friends populate our lives because we were never created to walk out life’s lesson alone. Jesus is the perfect definition of friendship. And because of Him we can go to our Great God in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). But we weren’t meant to be alone. Reach out to friends He’s placed in your life to allow their light alongside yours to pierce through the fog.

“We need someone to look us in the eye and say, “You’re my favorite.” Dawn Camp, “The Gift of Friendship”.

This is but a mere fraction of the inspiration I extracted from this book. Almost every page is littered with underlined text and friends names in margin notes. That’s how this book hit my heart. By faithfully seeing this book to fruition, Dawn Camp has bravely encouraged me to continue extracting the book on friendship that’s been spinning around in my head all of these years. Perhaps, I was just afraid to tell my story…worried that no one would be able to relate. Through the uniqueness of every contributing author, and the story they penned for “The Gift of Friendship”, God showed me that there is room for my story…and for the work He plans to do with the eyes that underline it’s text and write in it’s margins.

imageHere’s the Book Give-away!!!

Look back to see Jesus grab your hand or hug you tight through a friend. Be inspired and encouraged that in sharing your story you become a vessel for that hand and that hug to someone else. Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page about how God has reached out to you through a friendship, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Gift of Friendship that Baker Publishing Group sent me to give away on my blog! I’ll pick a winner from the comments on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016. (Must be a US resident over 18 to enter.)

Congratulations, Carolina, from Cisnernos Cafe! Thank you for sharing with us how your core two friends have extended the love of Jesus in your life. You are the winner of a copy of The Gift of Friendship! Enjoy, my friend! 

Happy Reading!!!

Megs

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