The Dream-work. (#jammed daily devo, day

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 92: Constant Rehearsal.

“Those who practice the law and teach others how to live the law will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19b

She began to beg for ballet when she was two, not once straying from her “pointe shoe” image-92dreams. Dance moves her, and her little sister, out of the house in active pursuance of something other than small-town life and small-screen apps. She believes in a dream too big …even for her …to fully imagine yet.

In today’s verse Jesus’ is addresses legalism. We know it well by the name of hypocrisy. It’s one thing to have a dream, but quite another to work towards it. We’re called, not just to believe in God’s Word, but to live it. That’s hard work.

Legalism-strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. Merriam-Webster

“Following the letter of the Law while ignoring its spirit. ” NIV Notes

My daughter’s dream to dance is hard work. It’s sacrifice away from friends and after school activities …and all the criticism that comes on account of that from people that don’t understand.  It’s Saturdays and pieces of summertime spent in air conditioning. None of which she’d trade for a minute. Someday she’ll find out why God put this dream in her heart, but for now she just keeps chasing it. All dreams within God’s will bring us closer to Him.

jammed-click-to-tweetI don’t want to be a legalistic parent. I want to be transparent, and I want Jesus to shine through me so brightly that she can see Him and hear Him over me. He is the dream. To walk with Him is surreal. It’s hard …but it makes life, life.

Father, Praise You for Jesus. Thank You for His perfect honesty and transparency. Forgive us for dishonest moments bred of insecurity and fear. Strengthen and bless us to raise our kids in kindness and love, but with a firmly secure hand on Your Word and it’s discipline. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Practicing,

Megs

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The Dance Shoes (#jammed daily devo, day 91)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 91: Always the right fit.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:14-15

The mailman ditched an over-stuffed white envelope into my mailbox, and onto my image-91ballerina’s feet the shoes went …for about two seconds. Too big …again.

“But I ordered a half size bigger than the ones that were too small!” I shared with a mom in the studio waiting room, “I am so confused!” 

Trying to find the right shoes for a decent price is very “holy grail-ish.”Guiding my daughters in a competitive sport has been a great lesson in faith. “Am I pushing too hard?” “Are they learning how to honor commitment?” “How do I teach them the importance of hard work without being too hard on them?” …and that’s just the pressure I put on myself.

Parents face many voices that attempt to convince, pressure, size-up, and compare them …and their children. It’s important to let God’s voice drown them all out. He created each of us differently, but lent the same Truth to guide us. In His living Word, we find His guidance, direction, and assurance. 

Today’s verses assure us that when we are walking in faith, our heals will not slip. Jesus walks with us, not someone we’re supposed to be or will become. The way to protect ourselves, and our children, from the comparative pressure of competition is to follow the instructions in Ephesians 6:14-15. Stand firm in the Word. He will defend us, and prepare us.

“Fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,” ensures us that when we chase after Him, it’s a perfect fit every time …and we feel peace. Not just relief, but the peace that Jesus when to the cross to grace us with.

 My job as a mom is to make sure that I prayerfully consider whether the path my daughters’ are on will lead to His feet. Throughout all of the doubt that I’ve dealt with over the years, our dance family has been His evidence that we are on that “right path.” In a sea of pressure and drama, we somehow walked into a family. My girls glide across the stage to the tune of genuine support. Not just of their dance, but for who they are.

jammed-click-to-tweetI’m still trying to figure out how to order dance shoes for my daughters without ending up with a pile of shoes no one can use, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re on the right path.

Father, Praise You for fitting us perfectly in our shoes …in our lives. Thank You for placing people around us to encourage us for who we truly are …not who they want us or wish us to be. Forgive us for pushing others to be who they are not, and casting judgement on those who simply don’t know any better. Bless us to love those put close to us, and encourage them to stay in their lane as we hold tight to Your hand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Shoe-fitting,

Megs

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The Cookie Claim (#jammed daily devo day 2)

January #jammed : Grace in Life’s Face

Day 2: Let’s Claim our Grace Space.jammed-day-2-image

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

“Mom,” my daughter informed, “don’t let Daddy eat these cookies …they’re YOUR
cookies.”

We looked at each other and laughed at the thought of her Daddy …our late night cookie monster …leaving nothing but an empty mug of milk and some special “Mommy’s Cookie” crumbs on the counter for us to discover.

Humble acceptance of Jesus is our claim to God’s great grace.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.” 1Peter5:5

James and Peter doubted Christ was who He said He was. Peter three times before the rooster crowed, and James despite relational brotherhood to Jesus. Their words of His acceptance endure through ancient text and into our hearts to comfort and assure us that He was …and is …and will be. They both quote Proverbs 3:34, connecting the Old Testament promises to their real-life experiences with Jesus:

God treats the arrogant as they treat others,
    mocking the mockers, scorning the scornful,
    but He pours out His grace on the humble.” Proverbs 3:34

Jesus didn’t endure humanity for the sake of a select few; or require grace to be earned. Humanity …we are the special batch.

 Jesus loved me so much that He died for me. And God loved me so much that He let Him. Let’s not take those sentiments lightly by embracing our inner critique. Throw it to the shadows, and claim our grace space. What could happen if we do?

Father, You are powerful to cover us in grace before we claim it. We praise You for Your justice and patience to love us more than we can ever comprehend. Forgive us for allowing our inner critique to deter us from claiming our space in Your grace. Bless our hearts with the assurance of Christ’s sacrificial love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

What keeps you from claiming your space within God’s grace? Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

Happy Claiming!

#greatgrace17

Megs

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The Invisible Fire.

My little girl’s tears streamed onto my cheeks as she hugged me tight. Fearful that in the darkness of night our house would catch on fire, unreasonable emotion gripped her blotchy red face. Her pierced blue eyes searched mine for an answer …for comfort …for reassurance …all of which I was unqualified to promise her.invisible-fire-2

The anxieties we answer to in this life grab us much like Lauren’s sweet six-year-old heart, that can’t bear the thought of being separated from her teddy bear. Life is fragile. We want to look around and depend on each other to get through things that may never happen. We want to believe that everything is going to be ok, but it’s simply not always going to be. In fact, we’re promised that it will get much worse.

We can help our children cope with fear and anxiety by teaching them to pray these Words of God:

“Do not worry.” Matthew 6:34

“Do not fear.” Isaiah 41:10

invisible fire 4.jpg

Step Back.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

Our duty as parents is not to have all the answers, but to point to the One who does. We can aim to protect our children but we cannot promise them safety. Only God is sovereign to make good on the assured direction of their future.

“Lauren, can I pray for you?”

She nodded ‘yes’ through slowing sobs.

“Lord, you tell us not to fear, and not to worry. But that’s hard. We need Your help. Help Lauren not to worry, and not to be afraid. Let her rest in knowing how much you love her. God we pray that You protect and bless our home. Keep it and us safe. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

My godly duty as her mother is to reassure that she is loved …not just by me, but far invisible-fire-3greater. Her little heart needs to hear that He is good, that she can trust Him, and that He he cares about her fears and worries.

“Jesus explains the futility of such worry for one’s life (Mt 6:25), time (6:27, 34), clothes (6:28), and even what one will eat (6:31). Such a focus is not only a wasted effort on something that one cannot change (cf. Lk 12:25), but it leads to unhealthy anxiety.” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

If the thing I want to be able to promise will never harm a hair on her head singes her life, He will get her through. He will love her. He will grow her. He will never leave her side.

Through the calamity of this world, God does not promise Christians a free pass from pain. He gifts us the grace, peace and hope to keep walking through it. We grip Him in fear, look to Him in awe, and trust Him with it all …through it all.

Let Go.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Night after night my little Lo cried at bedtime, afraid our house would catch on fire. Night after night we prayed together, and repeated those truths to her tiny heart and my overwhelmed one. Until one night, her brave blue eyes stared right into mine and with a small, still voice, wondered:

“Mom, can I say a special prayer?” I nodded, misty-eyed.

“Dear God, Please bless us and don’t let our house catch on fire. Keep everyone in our family safe, and my teddy and blankie and all of my toys. We love you God and Jesus, Amen.”

Our great God hears the prayers of tender little hearts, and understands their fears.

invisible-fire-1

Sometimes it takes months, years, decades, lifetimes …before the discipline to turn to God first replaces our knee-jerk reaction to solve humanity’s dysfunctional fears and worries. But I believe that when God’s truth repeated is alive,  powerful, and in motion.

My greatest prayer as a mother is that my daughters will know that God loves them perfectly, even when I do not.

“The scope of these verses is to silence the fears, and encourage the faith, of the servants of God in their distresses.“ Matthew Henry Commentary on Isaiah 41:10-20

Prayer becomes powerful conversation. The grace of accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as allows us to experience a power that is not of this world. Discernment of text that is much more that black and white letters on a page. It’s much more than a good story. He is God.  He was here. And now His Spirit lives in us.

Invisible fire, indeed.

Happy praying,

Megs

 

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The Intentional Compliment

“I’m weird,” my girl sighed. “I don’t always feel like I fit in here.”

I launched into the infamous “God made you perfect” speech through a lump in my throat …but I knew very well it wouldn’t single-handedly cure the eight-year-old aches.

It’s OK, Mom…I’m weird,” she continued, “it’s a good weird.”

My daughter has the same potential as all other girls to have highly dramatic and face-twisting over-rations, but I love who she is. A Jedi, a wizard, a thrift-rack surfer. With a book in her hand and a never-ending eight-count to her step, she’s in love with laughing…  and I’m fiercely protective of her adopting any shred of the insecurity and comparison that fight me.

On the cusp of the “awkward” years, I’m keenly aware that the validity of my opinion on just about everything is about to drop off dramatically. Now is the time to intentionally buoy her light bright, to bob unscathed amidst an egocentric society.

Know love to love.

“God is love.” 1John4:16b

ic-1It’s not the happy ending of a rom-com or the heart flutter when Justin Bieber takes the stage … God is love. He loves perfectly, and He loves us whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not …and regardless of what we do or do not do. Built in His image, we’re programmed to love.

” Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God. ” 1John 4:7-8

Discipline and consequences are necessary to raise healthy humans, but overly harsh ic-4criticism is not. If I look for ways to build my kids up in love, they will look for a way to do so for others.

Yes, it’s annoying when cereal and milk is spilled all over the floor, but insults don’t have to be built into my reaction. No, she doesn’t match perfectly all of the time, but killing her creative spirit and hurting her feelings over an outfit she’s proud of isn’t going to build confidence. I’m a big proponent of apologizing to my kids …mostly because of the mistakes I make.

Kids have to know that they are God’s children entrusted to us, and that He loves them perfectly even when we do not. In acknowledging God sovereignty, we learn what it means to be loved.

Look to love for how to love.

“Brianne, I want you to find something nice to say to ___ today,” I instructed my eight ic-2year old.

“Why?” she asked with an ever-so-charming look that could fry an an ant five miles away.

“Because…”

 Why? How do I convince her to love on others when she’s mainly concerned about getting through elementary school without becoming a target, herself?

In the grown up world, the same struggle is manifested daily through social media. I deactivated my account when I lost the ability to look into the mirror confidently.  It was freeing, not knowing what everyone was doing all of the time. But then I sat in church, and felt like a wimp hiding in the corner.

“This is the culture we are called to reach,” Pastor preached.

I sighed out loud. Come on, Jesus … really? There?

To walk in love is to walk with Jesus …wherever. God sent Him here to walk out love on earth, and we’re called to at least try.  I don’t want to go out of my comfort zone any more than my daughter does. Jesus, without qualifying people or weighing what He would have to sacrifice, just loved on people. And when we follow His lead, we learn how to love.

“I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You’ll find no wrong motives in Me.” John 7:16

ic-3Yes… I want to be like that.

“Did you tell ____ what I told you to?” I followed up…

“Yep,” she said, beaming.

“Felt good, didn’t it?” I asked.

“It really did, mom …and I’m going to make sure _____ is OK at school from now on.”

I’m back on Facebook …and it bothers me most of the time. It’s a lot easier for me to turn it off and walk away …but that’s not the mission. Just as I teach Brianne to look for peers that need love, I need to look where my peers are to do the same.

Intentionally turn out to face your circle.  Look for ways to love. Hashtag it. Love it. Share it.  #wherever

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All it takes is a scan of the hurt that surrounds to remind me of how precious and fleeting time with my girl is.  I pray I’m able to fill those minutes with the knowledge of God’s love and the example of it that Jesus lived. True love lived out in her life will allow her light to shine amidst the storms that await.

Unlike my experience as a hometown Cleveland girl and sports fan …love winning in the end is a sure thing.

Happy Complimenting!!

Megs