The Weeds.

“DROP IT.”

But she didn’t. Just as my daughters did when they were toddlers picking petunias, Cherry
sprinted out one last burst of freedom, plant in tow. Between my kids, my dog, and my husband’s impatience for unsightly landscaping, my flowers can’t seem to catch a break.
Every year, some of my flowers fall folly to my husband’s impatience to distinguish which shoots are a nuisance. It’s cost me plenty of perennials. Daisies, sunflowers, wildflowers… In his defense, they do look like weeds when they are an inch tall. Everything does. But he doesn’t wait to decipher. He loads up that nifty weed sprayer tool and starts frying every faulty growing follicle in the flower beds. After many, many, debates over what is what… this is the first summer in three years my wildflower garden has turned the corner it was meant to fill.

Ironically, the invasive grass I mistook for ornamental lake grass and tagged free game for weed kill is absolutely indestructible. It’s been sprayed, yanked, dug up from the dirt up, clearly told it’s not been wanted …and yet keeps coming back. And it’s the only plant my puppy isn’t interested in chewing on. Prevalent change is purposed for a holy happiness, happening to us.

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The war of the weeds puts change into poignant perspective.

  • Some change is yanked before it has a chance.
  • Some change is invasive and unavoidable.
  • Some change separates a wildflower from the weeds.
  • Some change takes time to yield blooms.

Weeds 1How do we know what’s a weed and what’s a wildflower? When to pluck it out or let it grow? It’s confusing. Change is confusing. The ebb and flow of every day’s tide washes change over our lives and our world. Though the beauty of God’s goodness and love surrounds us, tragic-induced change seems ever-increasing. Evil’s masterful army of stealthed trickery and false promises prowls without pause. What I can only process as newsworthy injustice I turn over, in trust, to who God is and what He’s promised.

Change- verb) To make or become different.  image                                                                                            noun) The act or instance of making or becoming different. -Google

Change will come. Change will happen. But God never changes. Even when we feel like a weed caught in a sea of windflowers, our unchanging God is shifting our hearts.

“Heaven” is the inheritance that we are chosen for. God is changing us …making us holy …so we may inherit the full scope of happiness set aside for us.

 

Weeds 2In all the squabbling over who’s chosen right and wrong, we’ve neglected to distinguish weed from wildflower. Instead we fix and fumigate; worry and speculate; point and proclaim. In every heart is the spark of change. Christ left it on the cross to be lit. It yields love that spreads further and farther than hate. Love, that needs no news channel to exploit it’s cinematic potential.

Bible Gateway is a great resource to compare different versions of the punch of promise packed into this verse:

  • “We stand to inherit even more. As His heirs, we are predestined to play a key role in His unfolding purpose that is energizing everything to conform to His will.” Ephesians 1:11 (Voice)
  • “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)
  • “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who work ethic all things after the counsel of his own will.” Ephesians 1:11 (KJV)

There’s so much that I don’t understand about the balance between predestination and free will. But I do know that God’s sovereignty reigns over both.

Sovereign- possessing supreme or ultimate power. -Google

imageIn national times riddled in recent tragedy, my heart aches for the moms. My biggest fear has become your truth. I try to put myself in your shoes, but cannot. A mad moment can unglue a mind. Jesus was nailed to a cross so we could weep at His feet, and trust that something will change. In a world that bumps us from one minute to the next, God is the same as He was when He spoke the stars into the sky. I cling to Christ to clear the “why.”

“All who are chosen to happiness as the end are chosen to holiness as the means.”                               -MH Commentary.

Beautiful flowers look like weeds when they first break through the soil. And before that, they look like nothing at all. But when watered, watched, and staked in the wind, the potential abounds …height soars.

If God takes such care in His creations, why do we think we have any authority over humanity? We are all being watered, watched, and staked in the wind.

  •  Some change is challenging. 
  • Some changes are results. 
  • Some change, changes us.
  • Some changes, change lives.
  • Some changes save lives.

imageOn my favorite racing roller coaster, the inside passengers from each train reach out on the long banking turns to high five each other as the trains pass back and forth throughout the ride. It’s risky, scary, and against the rules …but irresistibly fun. High-fives and smiles abound amongst strangers …without interviews, pat-downs, and predeterminations. There’s no time for introductions. You either high five or you don’t. I love that. That’s my favorite. Just people being people. Laughing and smiling. In His image, we were created to react in love. Not hate.image

There’s only one way, but all are welcome. (First5 Weekend Wrap Up Video, 7/9/16) LOVE. Let
the Author of life weed His garden. In the end, love wins. #beapartofit #holyinheritance  #findaway #justlove #lovewins

Happy Gardening,

Megs

The Last Day

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The product of my rushed suburban childhood is arm-in-arm in that sandy crop of kids, traditionally appreciating the last day of school in their little lake town …where the busiest road has a 35 mph speed limit, and we can count the number of stop lights on one hand. “Rush” is absent from their vocabulary.

PERFECTTraditions can bloom dreams if we allow them to align our intentions with His design. The small lake town I live in has taught me to treasure tradition. In your town, on the farm, amidst a metropolis, or in your move; here are some benefits I’ve uncovered in establishing a little tradition.

#heartseeds

1.Stability

foundation- the basis or groundwork for anything…the natural or prepared ground on which some structure exists. (dictionary.com)

Learning to leave God in our dreams takes faith tough enough to trust that His view of them will undoubtably differ from our expectations a lot of the time. If we learn to look up before we dream out; the surrounding blessings, people, and places in life begin to reveal parts of His purpose. Tradition rooted in Christ yields a stable foundation to dream upon.

“You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the pieces of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20

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Paul reminded the church at Ephesus to embrace the foundation that Jesus laid at the foot of the cross.  We would be wise to do the same. When our dream is drifting with the Creator’s current, living it each day spreads the virtuous kindness and joy of Jesus.

2. Resilience 

“Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good.” 1 Thes. 5:21

I had all intentions of moving by the water to be out on the water, but God threw out the anchor… and beached my boat.  And as I peeled back the layers of blessing from the shoreline, I’m so glad he didn’t let me rush past it all. Changing the direction of our lives is never easy, but layered in the learning are blessings that follow an obedient heart. “Clinging” to those blessings, to who He is, shapes a resilient heart.

resilience the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.- Google

The pre-school years flew by, and the “Last Day” tradition that started with four moms is still growing … each year new friendships form and new laughs are logged. We pray for each other, help each other, laugh, cry and load up on a bus to celebrate milestones together… stand arm-in-arm together.

#dontskipachapter

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3. Confidence

“So, brothers and sisters, all you need to do now is stand firm and hold tight to the line of teachings we have passed on to you, whether in person or in a letter.” 2 Thes 2:15

Paul wrote this letter to clarify some traditions that had been muddled in translation. Can you imagine passing things down accurately without the Internet?

I’ve been privy to witness, that the tradition of excellence my town, has more to do than just the happy disposition that often follows suit with living on the shoreline of one of the world’s Great Lakes. The tale of each home-town Tiger begins with tradition.

From the first day they high-five the elementary-school principal down hallways decked with yellow smiles, they are brought up to believe they can find their best and bring it out in others. The entire town cheers them on until they show up dressed in white to lookout from that shoreline together one last time …arm-in-arm. I’ve watched my daughters watch those beautiful graduates, confident they can conquer anything because they’ve been raised to believe that they will.

Confident, bright, and beautiful blooms are the result of roots. Spectacular moments of growth don’t last forever, but roots remain to break through the soil once again.

PERFECT copyChristians are confident in the joy Jesus. From the very first time we high-five Him as we’re dunked under the water, or whisper a prayer…His truth allows us to bloom beautifully along life’s bumpy road. Like the graduates confident they can conquer the world, He stands with us, arm-in-arm, in a victory that’s already been won.

4.Triumph

“I must say how pleased I am to hear that you remember me in everything and continue to hold on to the traditions I have passed on to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2

Paul wrote this letter to the believers at Corinth as they were torn by spiritual immaturity in attempting to uphold tradition.

Triumph is synonymous for “coming back.”

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The “Last Day” tradition isn’t always a smoothly executed plan, but we all keep coming back. Tradition gives us a space to embrace our place on this earth.

Sometimes the frustration in having to be still is God whispering that you’re already here. Perhaps the purpose of my dream to live by the lake was simply to slow down and embrace tradition all along. That’s all God asks of us …keep coming back. Keep the tradition of meeting with Him everyday …of looking for Him in everything we experience. Those are strong roots, a stable foundation, a resilient reliance, and a triumphant destination.

Happy Summer!!!

Go Tigers!

Megs

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The Zipper

How can I be certain genuine sensitivity is zipped into the teeth of my self-conscious mind’s motives? I don’t want my insecurities to jam my kids’ jackets. But that’s exactly what happens when I fail to spin inward. Selfish instincts fuel trauma. image

Before I speak my mind in witness to my children, I SIFT, hoping to model the selfless love Christ extends to me.

Selfish

“Concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc, regardless of others.” Dictionary.com

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Piece by piece, the remnants of pushing my babies on their little blue swing were hauled away. With every disassembled section, hours of images blurred through my tears. The animal sound quizzes, songs about ABC’s, and tickling their knees wavered through my mind.

Human default lends the out-flow of our actions to be inwardly influenced. Watching my children grow, I worry I’ve failed them, often becoming hyper-focused on the mistakes I’ve made.

My kids sift through their mistakes to the tune of their parent’s habits. Our oldest daughter is always right and never admits fault, and the youngest thinks it’s always her fault because she’s a terrible person. #parentfail

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us.”-Romans 12:6a

Gifts can be sifted to unearth seeds of growth and potential. It’s selfish to focus on every mistake when so much can be learned from each character trait. Instead of grabbing for the seam ripper, reach for each unique thread of joy sewn into you. Accepting the full spectrum God’s granted us is a healthy vision of what’s actually happening.

The daughter that always feels at fault is always trying to improve and be better, just like her momma. The daughter that stubbornly doesn’t let drama deter her is calm in the midst of chaos like her dad. In Christ, we’re aligned with whom He knows we already are.

Instinct

“An inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.” -Dictionary.com

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I wondered what was going through my Kindergartner’s mind as she pressed her head against the window and watched a piece of her childhood leave the lawn.

“YES!!!!!!!” she shrieked with glee, “IT’S TRAMPOLINE TIME!!!!!”

“Lauren, that’s an awful thing to say,” I snapped, “aren’t you sad to see it go?”

I should have applauded her positive turn of the page, but I let my failed wish to share a few tears with her negate that she reacted wrong. It’s hard to avoid self-critical cycles listening to my echo nag.

When the instinctive urge to be overly critical creeps up, I’m often symptomatically ready to snap. At the end of the day at the end of the week, I am emotionally at the end of my rope. A deep breath can place the urge lash out on the back burner. No matter how I yearn for the scene play, unexpected blessing is always laced within.

Trying times beg for the justice of Jesus, and the guidance of God’s great grace. The Holy Spirit is able to redirect our instincts to Christ before we rearrange our kid’s self-esteem. It’s hard to fight the parental instinct to harp, but God seeks to bless brave steps. (John 14: 15-17)

Fuel

“Something that gives nourishment…sustains or encourages; stimulant.” -Dictionary.com

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Sunday was trampoline assembly day, and my girls came bounding out in their pajamas to jump. I trekked back inside to the sound of gleeful cackles as my husband took the big empty box to the curb. Fear and worry pushed the nostalgic lump out of my throat. And just like that, they grew up a little more.

I don’t have a natural urge to let my kids go and grow. Though my first instinct is always to grasp firm, Christ reminds me He’s already holding on. The Spirit He left advocates peace to fight the fear that our flesh fuels. So, I can fill up my tank with thankfulness and trust, and let the joy of Jesus reign over the “letting go’s” of my life.

“If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. Romans 12:6b

This verse is a picture of playing in the pocket. The gifts God gave us individually launch us into the people …and the parents …we’re meant to be. Kids need to understand how to react to difficulty by tapping into their strengths rather than wallowing in a weak spot. One of my favorite pastors recently preached on efforts to live out just one verse of the Bible instead of trying to learn the whole thing. I choose to let 1 Thes. 5:16, and who I am, fuel my life with joy.

“Be joyful always.” 1 Thes. 5:16

Trauma

“A body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury …an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” -Dictionary.com

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…and then one of them flew right back out.

My Kindergartner landed smack on her back. Shrieking and covered in mulch, the scene of checking symptoms engulfed the kitchen.

“How could we have let this happen?” I said to my husband.

My natural inclination to roll over every insecure thought causes me to misconstrue, misinterpret …and just plain miss stuff.

LIKE ZIPPING UP THE SAFETY ZIPPER!!!  

I guarantee I was applauding myself for pressing my husband to get the thing built before sundown …or mulling over the weekend’s lot of conversations with friends to check for anything stupid I should be embarrassed about. Of all the warnings I give my children to heed, the most obvious preventions leak right out of my own insecurities.

The devil tries to traumatize us so that we jump around in doubt rather than with a clear conscious to contribute to the world around us. I am equipped to encourage my kids, even after they’ve flown out of the trampoline on my watch, because of the traumatic scars Jesus survived. We can fuel the fire of our selfish instincts, or  fan Christ’s flame of hope in our hearts. The capability is there. The choice is ours.

Sift

“Examine (something) thoroughly so as to isolate that which is most important or useful.” -Google

imageMy kids don’t always witness the right reactions. I’m not always privy to patience. But, His grace renders this world’s trauma temporary. Let’s attempt to sift out all thoughts that don’t align with His truth.

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and many.” Acts 24:16

Zip it up before you jump around.

Happy Jumping!

Megs

The “Yes” Shoes

imageHe will straighten our stride, in His time, when we lace up our “yes” shoes.

I’m convinced my daughter thinks that her shoes will magically jump onto her feet if she stares at them long enough. When they don’t, her shoes fly over the foyer in frustration. And, oh …the agony …when a pair that normally slip right on no longer fit.

“Lo, stand up so I can zip them up,” I stammered in frustration.

“I AM,” she yelled and convulsed, convinced my help was overkill.

“Push your foot down harder,” I ordered. Her boots were swimmingly large mere “mommy” moments ago, but now needed to be pushed on.

“OK, let’s do the other one…”

Expanding feet shift goals. They also outgrow shoes.  image

Growth is predictably unpredictable, and keeping goals in stride with a shifting destination is hard. Has your finish line ever moved as you were about to break the ribbon? Here’s what I learned from my missed marathon and mommy moments.

Shoes too small.

A complete year off running didn’t yield a healed heal. And if I could go back, I’d risk a snapped Achilles and line up at the start of my first full marathon. God swapped my shoes regardless of my readiness to understand why.

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated with soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 (NIV)

I ran through snow and wind and ice …in shoes that were a complete size too small. Something that the runners at the running shoe store would have told me had I went there to be fitted for the right shoes before logging hundreds of miles.

Sometimes, we pray into God-sized goals. He wants us to dream big, and will bless our ambition to pursue, for His glory, the passions He laid in us.

imageProperly prepared with the right pair of shoes, the impact is absorbed efficiently and the weight is distributed properly. Experienced runners know that injury arises from a misaligned stride, often corrected by a shoe fit to guide feet as they strike the ground.

God does this for us. Through Christ, we capture the key to a corrected stride. God’s love is giant. He found a way to fit us for freedom. Jesus absorbs the impact and distributes the weight. To run straight, stick by His side.

In addition to personal conversation in prayer with God, He seeks to speak specifically through His Word. Dig in beyond devos, follow side-trails, and chase after characters. The pull to know why and the curiosity to question fit our feet for training.

Shoes that didn’t fit “in.”

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Hebrews 8:13 (above) speaks to us about outdated goals. About Old Testament customs and traditions that are no longer applicable or necessary. Jesus filled the gap those things attempted to bridge.

Google defines the effect of “obsolete” as “replacing it with something new.” And, anyone that lived through the 80’s can define “outdated.” Remnants of style may return redefined, but are fit for the “now.”

365 days ago, I took my running shoes off. I’ve been striding and striving everywhere but the road, tired and frustrated. God grew my feet before my shoes were fit to comprehend the change. The healing I prayed for came laced in lesson. I thought the goal was the marathon. He knew it was time to sit down …and write.

Every time I load the trunk up with bags of shoes that are too small for my kids, I feel ill-equipped to replace them all with the size that fits them. I’m not even sure what size to buy, what they will need, or if they will like them. Clearly, I need help with my own shoe size…

imageWe may have to adjust, grow, and shift …learn new patterns, drift in new waters, pursue new passions, open different doors, and stand on new stages. But Jesus picked us to fit where we fly.image

My identity in my daughter’s eyes is still “runner,” and she misses it just as much as I do. Her note is the nudge I’ve been waiting for. Could it be possible, that time spent obeying the development of one passion could be rewarded with the return of another? On this day, number 366 since the last time I laced up my running shoes, I believe His answer is “yes.” Fit in His shoes, the weight of many passions is bearable and possible. Today, I began to run again.

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God pauses passions to add in complimenting attributes to the fabric of our stories. Chapters and pages that we might have edited out, or never written, yet essential to who we are in Him.

Whether you’re training for a marathon, building houses, crunching numbers, or digging through a mountain of laundry …ask Jesus to adjust the fit. Children discover their passions by watching us let Him fit us to ours.

Jesus ushered in a new era. Life isn’t a Browns draft failing to produce a quarterback yearimage after year. (As a hometown Clevelander and life-long Browns fan, I’m allowed to say that.) Sit down, and let Him fit your feet.

Happy Strides,

Megs

imageMy long-time friend, Cherie, is the picture of perseverance as I type this, crossing the finish line of her first marathon. She has not just run through pain, but lived through it. A survivor in so many ways, never giving up …and always full of joy. A Mom showing her little boy anything is possible, and a light to everyone that knows her. Thank you for inspiring me with your constant kindness and positivity. Forever thankful to call you “friend.”  

The Lashes

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Up before the sun, and on went the glue.

“Hold still,” I chuckled nervously to my daughter, “I don’t want them to stick on crooked.”

My seven-year-old squinted to catch my expression as the first false eye-lash cemented itself onto her eyelid. We both laughed as I covered up what I’d messed up with black eyeliner. It may seem over-the-top, unless you’ve ever applied mascara to a child before. #dancemomproblems

When Brianne began to dream of pointe shoes and pirouettes, I jumped whole-heartily on board. I knew that her dream would be harder than she or I could ever anticipate, but the journey sounded awfully amazing. As we drove to that first dance competition, fake lashes and bellies full of butterflies, we both had visions of how this dance journey would end …but neither of us knowing how the middle would be filled.

Surrender to sacrifice avoids spoiling our people potential. There are people purposed in the reach of each gift. Even through the joy of those who witness Brianne dance. Don’t listen to the critical voice of impossibility; give in to God’s view of reality. image

 Pursue The 4P’s:

1. Provision

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God challenges us to reach people from where we are at. Brianne may have a lofty dream, but she’s not demanding I accomplish the dream for her. She works. She prepares. She practices. She prays. But she needs a ride to class. She brought her Bible to me one day and wanted to talk about Nehemiah. Her pink and purple princess Bible introduces the book as such:

“God gives us tools to rebuild the broken into something beautiful.”

Nehemiah had a position close to the King, where God placed him in provision for the mission at hand… to rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah didn’t need to go back and re-establish Jerusalem, but his compassion for his people there literally moved him. God’s Word motivated him to achieve beyond what he could believe.

With God’s provision our lives change. They become purposed for purpose. 

We are all placed by God with the same great care to detail as Nehemiah.  It’s no coincidence that God has entrusted me to be Brianne’s motherly provision …to be there when she can flip across the stage like the dancers she admires, and as she struggles to land a cartwheel right now. I can’t, and won’t choose to (#freewill) do it right all of the time… but I sure will try my best to honor my place in her sweet life.

2.Preparation

What will happen when I get there?

“I shot back, ‘The God-of-Heaven will make sure we succeed. We’re his servants and we’re going to work, rebuilding…You get no say in this -Jerusalem’s none of your business.” Neh 2:20 (MSG)

Faith in God will move you to prepare to do the work to obey God. There’s no room for comparative standards, or worry about whispering, within God’s call for your life. imageI have an intervention with myself every time I’m drafted to help my kids learn or practice something new. It’s uber frustrating to watch them fail, and beyond my level of patience to channel the whining. They cry and my forehead vein surfaces reality-tv style. During the last episode, I found myself yelping, “KEEP SMILING…” through a grit-toothed, probably crazy looking smile. I think I made her repeat the same ten seconds twenty times. Poor gal. Her dance teacher is definitely called to prepare my child for her dreams in dance. My preparation in helping is sometimes simply to prepare myself to let go …a little.

3.Pray.

While the lashes were being peeled off on the car-ride home, Brianne asked if I had noticed her shaking while she danced on stage. I hadn’t, and inquired as to what she attributed her strength from.

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“I prayed out loud to God about it last night,” she responded.

“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

Prayer was Nehemiah’s power source. He leaned into prayer to propel him to action. He was smart, and hard-working. He planned and prepared. He resisted all manor of insult and attack with prayer.

“He consistently linked hard work and prayer together…the rebuilding of the city walls had to be arched by the reforming of a lifestyle.” -New International Encyclopedia of Biblical Characters.

4. Praise

Brianne cried all the way home when I told her she’d be dancing a duet in competition this year. “But you love to dance, I though you’d love this…” I stammered.

“With only two people on the stage?” She bawled. #terrified

…but she knew she did truly love to dance …so she prayed …and worked…and prepared.

Brianne conquered some serious stage fright, to let her light shine bright for the Lord. She learned where her strength comes from and what her gifts are for …at least for now. May she always…

“Stand up and praise your God, for He lives from everlasting to everlasting.” Nehemiah 9:5 NLT

After Jerusalem had been rebuilt, the people praised God.
I should often be praising God for the “sacrifices” I’m spoiled with. Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.” 

By learning who God is, I remember who I am. I’m not privy to the middle. Day by day, prayer by prayer, I will eventually look back and know how it was filled in and what people God placed within my reach.

It’s imperative to step out of the bubble of familiarity to face the fear and the whispers. To get up on stage no matter how afraid we are, if that stage is where God put us to be. I’m confident Nehemiah’s motives for leaving the comfort of the castle were whispered about… It’s human nature to criticize what we can’t comprehend.

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What’s your stage? Where has God placed you to shine bright in the name of Christ?  I would love to hear about it.

Pray to Him out loud in the dark. Step outside of your bubble. Pray. Be brave. Shine.

Happy Bubble-popping,

Megs