The 40 Keel.

It started off as a grand adventure. We would paddle across the serene lake our cabin rested on, to the river, and all the way out to the great freshwater lake. Up and out early with visions of grandeur we would hold onto forever, we loaded into our kayaks and pushed off the dock. It wasn’t in the quiet stillness of morning as we’d woken up to so many other days, but in the choppy result of a steady wind. Soon after we embarked on our journey, both of our kids needed a tow line. Every paddle felt like going backwards. Our cabin neighbor came gliding up beside us. We wanted to know why … and…how.

“I have a keel,” he explained. “It drops down and stabilizes the boat so it goes forward instead of back and forth.”

U2, who I’ve been mildly obsessed with since walk-mans were cool, turned the 40th Psalm into a song that hit me on a new level as the melody drifted through the marrow of me as I flipped the final page on my fourth decade. King David, who wrote the song, reaches into the core of all that makes a human heart beat and break in awe of the unfailing love God has for all of us. The song played and I pictured myself in all stages of life blaring it as an unbeknownst anthem.

Life starts out as such a grand adventure, doesn’t it? But without a keel, we paddle back and forth and sometimes backwards. There’s something about turning the page on a decade that causes us to reflect back and look forward. For the next ten years, I want to steer steady, with the keel dropped down, each paddle as efficient as it can be, no matter the weather. To weather storms with more grace and poise, and for forgiveness to flow out of me faster and easier. It feels time to step up and into the girl God made me to be all those years before the swells crashed into my reality faster than I could bail out or paddle through. 

There’s never been a day in my life I haven’t believed in Jesus. If anything is worth celebrating at 40 …it’s that. So I chose to celebrate by getting baptized. He has loved me through the most impossible circumstances and when I was impossible to love. He reminds me who I am and continues to grow me into who He’s purposed me to be. No one knows me like Him. It’s love, unconditional and eternal. No strings, stipulations or shame. It’s out of this world …and worth singing about. In and around the water I’m reminded of how His Word flows through and connects all He has created. No matter what storms flare up in the next decade, I’m all in. 

This is 40. A few nights ago I sat up to roll over and pulled my neck out. For now my daughters say my smile lines are beautiful because they haven’t morphed into critical teenagers yet. I have to say I like them, too. Looking back, I’m tempted to remember the heartbreaks and mistakes. But the past is equally lined in triumphs. Laughter, love …and fearless adventure. So much laughter. So many friends. And now daughters … Jesus isn’t interested in keeping score in our lives. He commands us to go tell it …maybe …to sing it.

Sing your song.

Megs

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The Power of a Memory

“Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” Psalm 96:10

God is unmoved. He reigns. He is omnipotent and sovereign. I know the truth of this verse in my head, but my world has been in complete earthquake mode. All of the wheels typically fall off in May, but this Spring’s combination of heartache and stress have left deep purple circles under my eyes.

“I don’t care …fine!”

The door slammed. Round two, day four. The tween years are rapidly rushing in the gray hair. Life isn’t stopping or slowing down so I can devise a plan of attack. It’s exhausting my emotions and frying my nerves. It’s messing with the amount of sleep I depend on, and interrupting hours when the house used to be quiet enough to unwind. Some nights both kids fall asleep on either side of me- one afraid of something and the other sad about something and we are all too tired to have heartfelt talks about it before we fall asleep. 

“Butthole …butthead …” The “butt” themed names continued to trail off as one of my darling children walked away to read her book as physically far away from me as she could get …to roll her eyes and make faces. How dare I tell her she couldn’t have my phone. It’s so great when that happens in front of other people in a public place …it’s my favorite. There’s no willpower, role model or Bible verse that can stop hard seasons and stages. I remember slamming my door off the frame when I was their age, but somehow I thought I had done just enough good parenting to skirt the door slamming issue. The respectful children I have raised are no where to found some days. 

On top of parenting two tween girls, life has piled on injury, conflict, difficult decisions, and air thick with drama in unexpected places. Life is going to be life, and if I don’t find a healthy way to handle the curve balls, I will start slamming doors myself. Or end up with stomach ulcers. When all of the hard, sad, trying, annoying, hurtful and overwhelming stuff reaches a certain capacity, I come unglued in prayer. The floodgates of composure open and the tears stream down my face, relying on the power of Jesus’ name (sometimes at very high volume) to pick me up off of the floor. In those moments, He is faithful to remind me I already have Peace.

Remembering is an important part of our faith. Psalm 105:5 says, “Remember the wonders He has done, his miracles …” (NIV) Our memories, answered prayers, and miracles are powerful. Remember. As a motivation for and focus of worship and the basis for trust- remember how the Lord has remembered.” (NIVSB, emphasis mine.) Compassionate and merciful, He sees us, hears us, and is with us. In the suffering hidden behind our highlight reels, He is palpably present. Psalm 105:39 says, “He spread out a cloud as a covering…” (NIV) to protect His people (NIVSB). His peace shields our hearts. He is constant. 

Constant means unchanging, uniform, regular or invariable. It’s continuing without pause or letup. Who, or what, is unceasing? Can we rely on anything to be regularly recurrent, continual, or persistent? Only God is faithful, unswerving in love and devotion. As we ride the waves of this world, He remains steady.

The dark circles under my eyes can be a badge of honor or a burden of despair. In every situation, I have a choice. And I don’t always make it well. I complain, but Christ is constant. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV) The steadiness of Christ is in me. But I sometimes approach life like a roller coaster, strapping in and screaming when I’m scared and laughing when I’m happy. That’s no way to live. 

Through all of the chaos, Jesus remains constant. Unmoved. He sees me. He hears me. But I need to pause and remember the peace He died to give me. It’s not an easy world to live in. We will undoubtedly feel like aliens on our own planet many days. We’re placed purposefully by an all-knowing God who promises we’re never alone. Believe Him. Matthew 28:20b says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Happy Purple Circles,

Megs

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

ALL OF THE FRIENDS …

“Friends with Everyone” is the quest to love people in our lives well. God places people in our lives purposefully. As Christians, we are called to reach outside of our comfort zones in order to serve the people bordering our everyday lives.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. 

To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 

To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. 

I have become all tings to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV (emphasis mine.)

Love finds common ground. Paul isn’t advising us to change for people in these verses. He’s challenging us to find common ground with the people in our lives. There is common ground to be found. It’s not an easy quest. There are lines we will be tempted to cross and company we wish would could keep closer. We will be called to ruffle a few feathers in righteousness. We will be left out, called out, questioned, and ridiculed. Being friends with everyone requires us to flip all of the hurt into forgiveness, and trust God with transformation.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV

We wouldn’t die for someone that hurt us. We wouldn’t die for someone who didn’t apologize for the hurt they caused …and we surely wouldn’t die for someone intent upon hurting us again. Jesus did. Compassion and kindness come from Him. All of us continue to fall short every day, yet the forgiveness Jesus died to grant us, to go before us and pave for us, isn’t effected by our inability to overcome the broken world we live in. He has already defeated what we could …and cannot. It. Is. Done. A true understanding of forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurt and allows the love of Christ to flow through our lives.

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV

I believe we take this verse out of context when we use it as an excuse to shun people who are different from us. What good is all of our wisdom about Christ, if we hide from the people that don’t know what we know? Like Paul, through adversity …seek diversity. But we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He was friends with everyone, without sacrificing His mission.

Jesus had a close group of twelve friends, and out them three were extremely close to Jesus. Still one, John, was Jesus’ best friend on earth. We’re clearly called to choose our close circle of friends with care, but leave the door open. May our light reflect His Love.

I shudder to think of all the rich friendships I would have missed out on, had I not decided to leave my Monday morning Bible Study group open to anyone. Whether or not they go to church or believe in God is between them and Him. Our job is to open the door and share what we know.

“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious- don’t get infected.” Proverbs 22:24-25 MSG

The more friends we have, the greater the risk of getting hurt. Learning how to survive devastating blows to our character and create healthy boundaries is all part of the package. Can I tell you something? It’s through our reaction to those situations that our faith is put on display the most.

Loving the people in our lives well leads us to brotherly and sisterly love. As we grow in wisdom and away from the lessons of our past, God is faithful to provide friends that are racing towards Christ alongside us. Never take these friends for granted. These are the best friends. The ones who don’t get all awkward and subject-change when we start to talk about Jesus. No, these are the friends who lean in to learn alongside of us. Every broken hearted moment is worth it to find these people in life. But we can’t stay there. 

We are called to be friends with everyone. 

Happy Friending, 

Megs

#saywhat?! …What’s Up With My Mouth?

Hashtags are now a part of verbal communication. The words we # have power the power to create searchable content. The words we verbalize, type, text, share and air hold the power to dignify or deflate. 

My current parenting resolution is #dontraisemyvoice. Once I factor out school, playing with friends and extra curricular activities, I only have to hold it together for 3 or 4 hours on weekdays. Most would say my odds are pretty good, and I wish I could tell you it’s been a smashing success … but there’s a reason for resolution. #stillyelling

“The more you talk, the more likely you will cross the line and say the wrong thing; but if you are wise, you’ll speak less and with restraint.” Proverbs 10:19 VOICE

“Mom, you don’t have to apologize to us …we don’t even deserve you.” 

What did I have to apologize for? #yelling. Unfortunately, lofted above the apology are the hashtags formed while I was losing my patience. My careless words distort and begin to plant seeds of deceit …#lies.

Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” We don’t always like, much rather love, God’s law in our everyday lives. Which is why our bad attitudes drip down into our words, and the opportunity to water lies in the minds of their recipients.

Great peace. “Complete security and well-being,” to be accurate. (NIV Study Bible Notes) People that have peace don’t need to make #dontraisemyvoice resolutions. What was I missing? Love.

Proverbs 10:12 says that “hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.” (NIV) The love in this verse is different. This love accomplishes what we cannot: love for a law that we don’t understand, like, or want to follow in the moment. The love of the Law, Himself. (Strongs 157/160) 

My mouth represents my heart, which could be undergoing all manner of spiritual battles at any given time. The risk of blowing up at my kids is that they will start to believe and apply the wrong hashtags. Above the endearing and encouraging words I speak and pray over them for the 3 hours and 58 minutes I have with them some weekdays …they start to carry around …wear around …the other 2 minutes that I was overly critical and terribly impatient while they acted like the 8 and 10 years olds they are. 

“Oh, yes I do have to apologize,” I explain, “because no matter how disobedient you are or impatient I am …I know better than to react like I did.”

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8 NIV

Again, same English word, different definition of Biblical love. This time, “brotherly love, affection, good will, love.” This New Testament love is possible because of Jesus. Through Him, we can love each other with the same love that covers a multitude of sins. We can become living channels of His love. 

When my bad attitude leaks out of my mouth, it’s a heart problem. My problem. Not my children’s fault. Not my husband’s fault. Not the ridiculous pendulum of a midwestern winter’s fault. (And not the Brown’s fault for not clinching a spot in the playoffs …OK a wild card spot -let me dream.)  It’s a hearth issue. So, how do I fix it?

“The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” Proverbs 10:8 

  • Get the Right Advice. The way to peace and love is through their Author. There’s no shortcut to this. I have to set aside time to read God’s Word before I talk to anyone else. Maybe you can handle conversations before Jesus and coffee, but I can’t. 
  • Listen to Your People. God doesn’t do coincidence. He places us purposefully. I can choose to walk through daily life paying attention to the people in my live, and focusing on how to love them well.
  • Do it. Submission means to drop my way for the right way. Repeated, it becomes a reflex. In the case of my bad attitude controlling my mouth …I can consciously reroute that authority, choosing to apply wisdom before my words fly out. 

Matthew 12:34 reminds, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” 

I speak love when I know who I am. Forgiven in spite of my 2 minute meltdown, and loved before I can find the discipline to fix it. When I wear those hasthags, I’m more likely to pass them on. #neverlovedless #alwaysforgiven.

Happy #-ing …

Megs