The Great Thirty-eight. (#recall12 series, June.)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s Word each month! This month’s verse is :

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

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“Thirty-eight is going to be great.”

God has been whispering this blessing over my life as I peer into the next year of it. The last decade of my life has been riddled with challenge and laced in blessing. Each encroaching birthday is little scarier than the last.

With each year, more are diagnosed, suffer, and pass away. The people that it’s happening to are getting closer and closer in direct contact with my life. Friends, family …cancer.

“Cancer sucks,” my 8-year-old daughter declares …and I sigh.#recall12 June tweet 1

Cancer is scary. Life is terrifying.

Parting is unfathomable.

With each passing year, I have more to lose …and that particular fear would like to plant it’s paralyzing seed right smack in the center of my heart. Fear of loss can only be overcome by perfect Love.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Lying in the first part of this month’s verse is the fan to fear’s flame. “The thief…”

thief-One that steals especially stealthily or secretly. -Merriam-Webster

The NIV Study Bible Notes declare, “His interest is in himself.” Indeed. Selfishness is akin to theft …and fear.

#recall12 June Tweet 2selfishness- Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. Merriam-Webster

Excessive and exclusive leave no room for the devil’s care for us. He’s messing to make us miserable enough to forgo the blessings in front of us. Worry and anxiety play an important role in what he’s trying to accomplish. His hope is that our hold on the world will overshadow the joy of Jesus’ heavenly embrace.

His breath filled all things

    with a living, breathing light—
 A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched. John 1:4-5

Jesus is Life and Light. No new worry we discover to fret over is new news to Jesus, who sat with God from the very beginning of time. He knew us before birth, and I imagine that the Words He ordained to be written in the Bible for us to read were spoken with all of us in mind.

Through the darkness then, and murky bottoms now, He is Light and Life. Unstoppable. Unbeatable. Alive.

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“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” John 10:10 (VOICE)

There is a joyful and abundant life to be lived here on earth, knowing that He wins. We win. Death may part us from our friends and family. Cancer will steal time and break hearts. There’s no need to reach for wretched news to wreck our day. But just as it surrounds us, so does He. In the sunrise, He reminds us He is here. In the smile of a child, He reminds us Life is good. Through the unexpected note from a friend or a hug from a stranger, He shows us that He cares.

Are we looking for life, or waiting for death?

“The Greek word for “life” is found 36 times in John, while no other NT book uses it more than 17 times.” NIV Notes.

Life … “zoe”in Greek, means both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence. The Lord intimately shares His gift of life with people, creating each in His image which gives all the capacity to know His eternal life. (Strong’s Concordance.)

Someone said to me recently that sometimes doubt can mean we are actually on the right track. Knowing the full scope of what the devil is up to, that makes perfect sense. He can’t make us do anything …but he can cause us to wobble in and out of doubt and anxiety. Fear is an attack on every good thing the Father has in store for us. All of the joy that Jesus died to lend us. Life was not promised to be easy …or fair …or painless …or always happy. There are times in this life that we will barely be able to lift our heads to the sky and ask Him , “why?”

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Let’s continue to lift our heads and hold onto hope. It’s not a fairytale wish, but it is the stuff of fairy tales. Our Redeemer King has already rescued us. Live what He saved to the fullest.

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“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

Father, Praise You for Life. Thank You for Jesus’ gift to us. Grace surrounds us, yet we fail on so many occasions to face it. Forgive us for looking past You for comfort, and help us to fiercely follow Your Son’s footsteps each day that we are blessed with on this earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Happy Birthdays!

Megs

Click here, or on the image below, for FREE VERSE MEMORY CARDS!

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#recall 12 June Verse Memory Cards PDF

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The Boo-Boos

The screech was ear piercing, and my limbs were too slow to react to what I saw. Little limbs flew over handlebars, and skidded to a stop on the concrete. Tears streamed and knees bled. I scooped my baby up to the tune of my quickly abandoned bike crashing to the ground.  My breath paused waiting for her to catch hers.The Boo Boo 1

Against my incessant warnings and her better judgement, little Lo continued to ride her purple banana-seat bike with her feet up in the air. Though she faithfully wears a helmet, it couldn’t protect her from the overflow of boo-boo’s she survived this summer from peddling standing-up to keep up with the big kids.

“It’s OK, “ I reassure her, “You’re Ok… I love you …Mommy’s got you.”

It’s infuriating to watch preventable accidents reoccur, yet we rush to the rescue every time.

When we’re little, a Mommy hug and a bandaid …or a hot pink cast signed my all of our The Boo Boo 2friends, encourages the hope of healing and the chance to ride again.  In the grown up world, scars scale beyond bloody knees and broken bones. The adult audience does not wait in angst to sign our hurts with a Sharpie. Only God’s truth is powerful enough to bind wounds completely and foster new growth from our scars.

Redemption– the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. The action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. 

Synonyms: retrieval, recovery, return. –google.com

When falling, focus on the redemptive factor of faith in Christ. The above synonyms are great stones to skip…

Boo Boo 3 Good

1. Retrieval

Retrieval-the process of getting something back from somewhere. -google.com

“For the eyes of the Lord range though the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 

The Creator of time can stretch minutes. In John 19:38, He provided the perfect timing and placement of people to retrieve His Son’s body. Do we know He takes the same care in crafting our purpose?

God pursues us.

Paul encourages, “Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared.”- Romans 8:33

 His gift of grace through Christ’s death on the cross gives us permission to peel past standardized shortcomings and embrace the promise of hope laced in every scar.

Boo Boo 4

2. Recovery

Recovery- a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. -google.com

“Before he reached his village, his servants met him on the road celebrating his son’s miraculous recovery.” John 4:51

We often associate recovery with miraculous healing, but we see is a fraction of God’s Boo Boo 6omnipotence. Everyday battles are won on our account by our good Father.

Children, regardless of age, innately want to please their parents. Simon, in Luke 5:8-10, says,

“I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man. You shouldn’t be around the likes of me.”

It’s hard to look at fresh bruises without feeling a little ashamed.

Do we realize that’s normal?

Ephesians 2:3 reminds us that we are all guilty. Yet, in such a cycle of imperfect and repetitious behavior…through Christ …we are still redeemed.

Boo Boo 5

3. Return

Return-come or go back to a place or person. Give, put, or send something back to a place or person. -google.com

Genesis 3:19 reminds us to keep our perspective in check: “To dust we shall return.” James 5:7 urges us to be patient and wait. The word “return” in regards to Jesus’ whereabouts is mentioned 19 times in the book of Matthew …12 in Mark, 28 in Luke, and 29 in John. Jesus does a lot of returning in the gospels. Despite our cyclical sin, God hasn’t throw the towel in.

“You were bought at a price…” (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23 NIV)

It cost a life for us to live. An innocent life… without sin …sacrificed in the most brutal way … to save us.

 A high price has been paid for your freedom, so don’t devalue God’s investment by becoming a slave to people.” 1 Cor. 7:23

Boo Boo 7

High price, indeed.

“In His image,”(Genesis 1:27) is so evident when we teach our kids to get back up when they fall. We tell them it’s OK. We assure them that we love them.

Throughout the vast disappointments of my life, Christ has carried me, put bandaids on my bloody knees, healed hurts too secret to share, and surrounded me in His love. Until He returns …until I am returned to Him, I will passionately pursue my redeemed place in His plan …strengthened by knowing He never gives up on me.

Happy Redeeming,

Megs

 

The Achilles Heal

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This morning, I made breakfast and lunches to the sound of a unicorn galloping throughout the house.  I can’t make this stuff up.  With sound effects, she made laps around the first floor for a good hour… in full character.  She stopped only to hug Daddy goodbye as he left for work, and to eat “unicorn’s” favorite breakfast…a Pop Tart.  This is why she is the most difficult child to discipline.

I appreciated her funny little antics, and let her buckle up and walk up to pre-school as “Lo the Unicorn.”  I didn’t want her to be distracting to her class…but man…I had to seize the opportunity to spread the laughter on this cold, foggy, spring morning in Northern Ohio.

In the midst of dealing with dashed marathon hopes due to injury, and going through withdrawel on my fourth day off of running, little Lo rescued my day before it even began.

“As runners we understand the importance of our bodies,

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because without them we would lose a piece of who we are.” 

-Jolee Paden, “Spiritual Runner.”

That’s a truth packed statement, and a photo full of a swollen achilles.  Goodbye, piece.  It sure looks likes, it, right?  I sure looks like the end of my marathon goal…12 days before the race.  It looks like failure, heartbreak, lack of discipline, and lost hope.

I had made it through the training…celebrated my 20 mile long run, and was looking forward to taper…but I failed to rest, and launched a minor injury into a possible major.  Out for an 8-miler a few days ago, I could sense it was over. Amidst the pain, anguish, and heartbreak lumping up in my throat, echoing in my ears was the Elevation Church sermon “It’s Yours for the Taking” I had chosen for my long run.  As the inevitible began to confront me, I heard something about holding on your life verse.  Mine is 1Thes5:16, “Be joyful always,” but I didn’t feel very joyful.  In fact, I remember exactly what I was thinking…”That’s too hard right now.”

A few moments later I made it down to the end of my old street to enjoy what I knew could be my last run to the sunrise.  Comforted by the sound of His word and the sight of his presence, I took a deep breath…and ran the half mile back home.  IMG_2017Tears streamed down my cheeks and sobs overcame me as I walked up my sidewalk and into my house.  It was over.  I could feel it.  I believe no one but other runners knows how that feels, so I was thankful to find comfort in these words Jolee Paden’s devotional.

“As runners we understand the importance of our bodies,

because without them we would lose a piece of who we are.” 

“Be joyful always.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances.”  1Thes. 5:16-18   It was super easy for me to be joyful and thankful when I finished my 20 mile run.  For the first time, I felt confident I could race the marathon.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could run 20 miles at 8:29 average pace.  But God knew it.  And I felt Him every stride out there that day, running along the lakeshore at sunrise.  Felt His presence every step…even smiled up the hills.

It’s not so easy to be joyful right now.  But I will be… and I will keep praying.  I will be thankful in all circumstances.  Turn my focus towards my funny Lo who always makes me laugh, and my sweet Brianne who has such a compassionate little soul.

IMG_2180When I told my her that I might not make it to my big race, she replied immediately.

“You just can’t focus on that.  Instead, focus on how far you’ve come.”

Remarkable words coming from a 7 year old.

“Thank you so much, Brianne!  You’re right.  Where did you hear that?” I asked.

“From my sweet Momma,” she replied.

“Be joyful always.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances.”

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God has healed me before, and I have complete faith He will again.  Exodus 14:14 assures me, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I can’t control God’s timing, but I will not lose hope.  After all, miracles do happen.  Little ones, and big…fat…ginormous..huge ones that change your life forever.  Keep facing the sunshine, and lift your head high.

“For those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”  Isaiah 40:31

Happy Strides,

Megs

The Broken Bunny

In an adventure to the craft store, my oldest daughter fell in love with a broken bunny.  Anxious to pick out a craft in preparation for what could be yet another snow day tomorrow, she and I both decided that a cute little cloth bunny would be the perfect guinea pig for us as we learn to sew.

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If only my three-year old were that easily sufficed.  She’s not.  I negotiate shopping trips on lollipops.  With dreams of being able to wander aimlessly with my toddler toting happily beside me throughout the store entertained by a sweet treat, I hand that first one over like it’s the absolute solution to all that is mayhem in shopping with toddlers.

Little Lo skipped happily around the store picking bouquets of fake flowers for me to smell. But before long, I started to catch that ornery glance through her static-attacked hair (that looked like it hadn’t been brushed in weeks….yet was just hours before.).  If only there was a lollipop that she could never finish…

Brianne played happily with her bunny as she toted it along to look at artificial flowers and buttons and thread.  She held up multiple fabric squares to the little stuffed creature, then decided that giraffe was a pattern that would fit it perfectly, along with another.  Then, I noticed that her precious bunny’s arm was only hanging on by a couple of loose threads.

“Brianne, that bunny’s arm is about to pop off,” I pointed out to her.  “Why don’t you put him back and pick out another one?” I suggested.  After being distracted briefly by my younger child’s temporary disappearance from my line of sight, I looked expectedly to Brianne to go switch out the bunny.

The look I received did not reflect that of the realistic, and quite logical, request that I had just made.  No-no, the look I got instead was one of heartbreak.

“Mom!  No!  I love this one!” she replied.

“Are you sure?” I plodded.  “Don’t you want to pick a bunny that’s not broken?”

After the third and fourth request, and then walking over to the bin of bunnies with her to pick another…hoping a visual would seal the deal…her eyes welled up with tears, and she said to me again,

“I’m already attached to this one,” and held her broken bunny tight….all the way to the checkout line.

That’s my Brianne.  To her, that bunny wasn’t broken, it needed to be rescued.  It was just as good as any other bunny.  It just needed some extra love and a little mending.  She is such a creative spirit, and no doubt sees that bunny as an empty canvas for all kinds of new outfits and adventures.

Wouldn’t the world be a more refreshing place if we all took each other at face value, without looking to see if there are ripped seams?  What a novel idea it would be to consider who might be hanging on by a couple of threads before we launch into our opinion on their shoes…their job…their kid…their life.

There are lots of days when I feel like more than just my arm is hanging on by a few loose threads.  When the chronic pain that I endure simply starts to eat me up.  There are many times that I am overcome with doubt about every possible area of my life.

Some days, I just feel like I’m under attack…

And on those days, sometimes after much wallowing on my part…God picks me up, gives me a hug, and says,

“I love this one….I’m already attached.”

Burdened by pain that I can’t explain, confused as all get out at which direction I should go next, feelings at times seemingly hurt beyond repair…life can be crushing sometimes.  I’ve trained my daughters to rally in those situations.  To let their emotions flow out of them, and then put the pieces back together through hugs and prayers.

As I sat in tears through one such moment yesterday, it was my daughters who came clamoring up the stairs and jumped on my bed, with hugs and “I love you’s,” and so much silliness that I eventually ended up in a pile of cuddles and laughter.  What a blessing it is, to be a mother.  Through all the doubt it entails, it’s so rewarding to be the recipient of a warm embrace like those we so often give out throughout the day.  It’s heavenly encouragement that we’ve done something right.

I think it really is that simple.  Like Brianne saw the potential for all kinds of magical things in her broken bunny, God already knows the abundant blessings that will unfold in our lives.

When our spirits are under attack, when we’re feeling like everything is unraveling before our eyes…like the pain is too much to bear, and the circumstances are too hard to understand…He is there, watching it all unfold as planned…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.- Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

A giraffe print dress for a stuffed bunny.

Happy Sewing!

Megs