The Yard Poo (#jammed daily devo 113)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 113: Picking up piles.

“…the Lord disciplines the one he loves …” Hebrews 12:6

“Go pick up the poop.” I flatly demanded.image-113

“MOM!!!!!!!!” came a symphony of complaint.

“You break the rules, you pick up poop.” I continued.

I’ll be completely honest with you, I find just enough times to enforce this rule so that I don’t ever have to clean the yard of bombs. I’m no dummy. But, it’s good for them, because they hate it. Good parents know that making kids do things they hate builds character and discipline.

Today’s verse explains the same concept. We’ve all had to turn around and face a stinking mess that we’ve made, and pick it up. It stinks ….literally. God is a good Father, all of the time. It doesn’t always seem fair that we have to pick up after ourselves. Mistakes are forgiven, so they can just be forgotten, right?

The best learning opportunities follow on the heals of our biggest mistakes.

God knows it. I think most of the time we know it …but admitting it’s a process.

“I don’t care who’s fault it is,” and I handed them each a blue bag. That’s my favorite lesson to teach. The lesson on why it’s really a bad idea to tattle.

Blaming someone else for our mistakes rarely makes the mistake magically turn into theirs. There’s no doubt that our hearts are highly influenceable, but to blame someone else for what we let into our hearts is not an efficient way to mature.

Jesus died to give us full access to a fresh roll of bags, and the humility we need to bend over and pick up our messes. We don’t have to act like someone else forgot to pick up after their dog …we can just say, “I’m sorry …I didn’t feel like it …that wasn’t cool …I’ll go back and pick it up.”

The world lacks a lot of this simple and humble honesty, because we’re told to push our defects down. Jesus didn’t die so that we would all act like nothing was wrong with us, He died so that the multitude of our sins would be forgiven. If everyone runs from their mess, the world stinks.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for discipline! Thank You for the freedoms to apologize for our sins that Jesus died to give us. We confess that we push grace to the side for blame and entitlement a lot, thinking we have it all figured out because You love us for who we are. Bless us to know the difference between flaws and sins, and help us to come to You in humility with them all. 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 Bagging,

Megs

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The Hyperextended (#jammed daily devo, day 111)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 111: Super flexible.

He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” 1 Samuel 22:35

My elbows are funky. Any mention of “bow” and “tendon” in the same sentence make me image-111want to observe once again the odd angle at which my elbow determines is a straightened-out arm. Laughed out of cheer try-outs for a V that didn’t look at all like a V, I labeled my hyperextended elbows a weakness.

A bow is a symbol of strength, and back when today’s verse was written, it wasn’t uncommon for them to be made of wood, animal horns and tendons, and even metal. (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary.) This verse is part of a song David wrote to commemorate military victories, and the middle section of the song …which this verse is pulled from, describes “moral grounds for God’s saving help.” (NIV Notes)

Life battles us for our passions and threatens to steal victories written for us to claim. When we start to mature in Christ, we begin to realize what we’re supposed to fight for.

My dad helped coached my basketball team in grade-school, but I never took a shot in a game. There wasn’t time for the fifteen-year-old dance dreams that couldn’t be funded. My best friend asked me to go to tennis team tryouts with her our freshman year, at which I threw my racket at the coach while trying to serve. Too reckless on skis to score technical points. The arts weren’t college prep enough to take up as much of my high school schedule as I wished them to. Being a dancer, I thought hurdles would come easy. They did not, and I tumbled over them the very first meet. My coach threw me in an 800M race that day…

“He trains my hands for battle…” Yes, He does. In His own way, with the way I am made, He trained me. Lots of life makes no sense, until it does.

I landed in the middle of my XC tribe at the meadows my junior year in high school. And for miles, and miles, and miles, and more miles than I ever realized I’d enjoy the pursuit of …everything started to step in stride.

“…my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” I believe we’re more capable than we can imagine. When we grip Jesus’ hand, we begin to see how. He called me to the track to teach me how to fight. Through all of the voices and circumstances in life that continue to say, ‘no,’ He continues to show me who I am.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for crooked elbows and knobby knees. Thank You for imperfect parts and Your perfect love. Forgive us for wanting to be anything we weren’t built to accomplish, and bless us to be all You have purposed us to be. 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 Bow-ing,

Megs

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The Cover (#jammed daily devo, day 110)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 110: Underneath the cover.

 For the word of God is alive and active.” Hebrews 4:12

The rush to keep up with flipping pages and finding verses intimidated me at first. I wasimage-110 familiar with the Bible from Catholic school, but had never highlighted or written in it! Oh, my word! With my brand new NIV version, pages new and all stuck together, I looked up verse after verse as FCA each week. On all sides of me were worn in Bibles clutched by faithful hearts, and I longed to have what they had.

Little did I know then, that the journey I was praying for was already underway. Twenty years later, now covered to protect the binding from splitting a apart, I carry that same NIV version. It’s highlighted and written in, marked and bent, wrinkled, cried on, laughed with, and loved. It’s much more than it’s fancy cover. It’s my life in that book.

To have what I admired in my friends all those years ago is to live in that book, with that book, and by that book. Like the verse today says, it is “alive and active.” In a way that only a twenty year journey could even begin to uncover. I have witnessed Life, and it has forever changed mine.

The rest of the verse says this: “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Sharper. God’s Word is a weapon, and we need it! There is a very real enemy after us, who hates the sound of Scripture. It’s truth, and he doesn’t like the truth, because he’s on the losing end of it.

Soul and spirit, joints and marrow. These are things that we look upon as closely related, and they are. But God’s Word is so intricately woven into each part of us and our lives, that that even just one notion takes a thousand words to explain.

Judges the heart. Jesus died for us before we existed. He is the Word, and the Word knows us. Knows our hearts. Knows our tendencies, denials, and flaws. The things we don’t tell anyone else about, He knows. And the answers to all of the questions we can’t ask anyone else about are in this Book.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for worn out Bibles and brand new stuck together pages! Thank You for marking each part of Your Word with such special clarity to each individual life. We confess that we pass by Your Word for human wisdom so often, and pray that You refocus our hearts to Your highlights. 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 Highlighing,

Megs

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The Pocket Animals (#jammed daily devo, day 109)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 109: Big treasures are small.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Certain times throughout the school year, my girls start to get lazy. I start to get lazy. No image-109one feels quite as exuberant about extra math and reading practice, and handwriting becomes illegible. That’s when the prize bucket get’s a makeover. There’s always something little and tiny they are dying to collect, and so I fish for what that is at that moment. We’ve gone from Shopkins to Squinkies to Pocket anythings. Kittys in my Pocket …Puppies in my Pocket …Jungle in my Pocket …it seems just about any living creature can be found pocket-sized and packed in a cute little collectable contraption.

“OK, girls…..” I drummrolled as I laid out my new plain. “If you can do all of your work super extra neat …I will put (said animals) in the prize box.”

Screeches of delight.

“But!” I added, “I’m going to be really picky if I’m going to hand out these really awesome prizes….”

The handwriting improved over the next couple of weeks, as did grades and morale …at least until the next holiday that involved passing out candy arrived.

Today’s verse reminds us that, although faith is required in the hard walk of life we are promised, God wants us to be happy! He rewards us! Sometimes, He throws tiny little animals in the prize bucket of life, simply because we like to collect them.

A beautiful sunrise, an extra snuggle from our kids, an extra productive day, early flowers blooming ….there is no end to the ways that God chooses to love on us. But He isn’t picky. We only need to prayerfully pay attention in faith.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for Your compassionate love for us! Thank You for rewarding us for following You! It’s not easy, and we confess our comparative and entitled expectations. Bless us to see Your blessings …Your gifts …Your prizes …Your love. 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 Collecting,

Megs

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The Runny Sauce (#jammed daily devo, day 108)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 108: The right consistency.

“He is consistent.” James 1:17

The same spaghetti sauce recipe has been passed down three generations, now. And weimage-108 decided to change it. My daughters have joined me in the my quest to be a little healthier , and now they are older, have agreed to sway from three guaranteed meals they will eat. I thought it would be a disaster to change this recipe. They have grown up with the other sauce, which we all love, and that contains no chunks of anything at all. No trace of what might be adding any flavor to it, and barely real at all.

Today’s verse reminds us that God is consistent. His love is constant, though it may feel different to us in different seasons. Let’s look at the whole verse:

 Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows.” James 1:17

The chopping began, the smiles ensued, and the sauce “was a hit.” My poor husband, who is phobic of all chucks tomato and onion, was doomed to a long dinner of picking things out. But my picky eater and her sister loved it! Just when I think I can predict what they’ll do ….

“It was a little watery, though, mom…”she added, “next time lets make it a little thicker.”

So we did …and it was too thick. And, it’s still a work in progress, but chopping fresh veggies with my girls is pretty fun.

When we embrace God’s consistent love we become consistently loved children. Whether the sauce is chunky or not, watery or thick, we remain stable. Trying something different is healthy. Following Jesus will lead us down a road of constant change. We become more responsive to His Word as time goes on, because we know exactly what we believe …and who’s we are.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV)

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for Your consistency. Thank You, that we are incapable of it, for it reminds us who You are. Forgive us for our inconsistency, and bless us to know that Your love for us never changes. You are always good. 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 Chopping,

Megs

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The Wish-Trip (#jammed daily devo, day 107)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 107: Wishes travel.

 Without any hesitation, Abram went.” Genesis 12:4 (VOICE)

The bravery of Abraham to pick up his entire family and move to Canaan when he was image-107seventy-five years old is a true hallmark of faith. Even surrounded by modern-day conveniences and four decades younger, I can hardly fathom leaving all I know for nothing familiar.

But I do wish to take a trip. A mission trip. Each time the topic is preached on I sit further and further towards the edge of my seat. I see the smiling faces of the people I dream of hugging in person. I’m not sure how …I’m not sure why … I don’t know when …but it’s a wish I pray into a lot.

“I just want to bring one back,” I dream out-loud to my friends. “Just one …if I could just help one…”

There are things we can do everyday and people in arm’s reach to be helped …but God specifically told us to go out into the world. There are people who still don’t know. There are people that don’t have clean water to drink …and never have. They don’t know what it tastes like. They don’t know what food tastes like, either, because they’ve never really had a prolonged time in their lives where their basic needs for survival were met.

In this country, we are privileged to debate politics and complain about taxes. It’s an honor to scoff at legislation and flex our right to voice our opinion. But all of that effort …all of that breath …I just can’t help but wish …to go.

“Without any hesitation.”

What if we just chose to see and acknowledge what’s going on past our doorstep everyday? I wish …

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for missionaries and mission teams. Thank You for the opportunity to come face to face with the people You call us to help. Forgive us for forgetting about the forgotten. Bless us with the chance to go on our wish-trips. 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 Wishing,

Megs

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The Special Scissors (#jammed daily devo, day 105)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 105: Just the right cut.

“One Spirit works all these things in each of them individually as He sees fit.” 1 Corinthians 12:11

“Why are you cutting pizza with scissors?!” My dad is always amused by the things I find to cut image-105with my kitchen scissors.

There are so many pairs of scissors lying around the house. Training scissors that don’t have real blades, craft scissors that cut pretty designs, fabric scissors that cut cloth smoothy, kids scissors, utility scissors, kitchen scissors, hair-cutting scissors … who’d have thought there would be so many different uses for one basic object?

Today’s verse shows us how God does so much through each of us. Each person has similar attributes and functions …even talents …but each person’s purpose is unique to them.

If I use craft scissors to cut hair, I’d make it look reciculous. If I use fabric scissors to cut paper, it will ruin it’s sharp, smooth edge. And training scissors will not cut the fat off of tonights chicken as it thaws. Each pair is specifically purposed, and if used outside of that, not nearly as effective.

Jesus died for us to find our purpose. He is the only way to the Father. And the Father holds our perfectly crafted purpose in His capable hands. Through acceptance of Jesus, we receive the Spirit, who guides us “individually.” Our path is our path. No one else’s. We can try to fit into other people’s purposes, but it won’t look good. And even if it doesn’t, we won’t be happy. True happiness comes in embracing our purpose. When we find the path we were always meant to walk, we don’t feel so lost anymore. We feel home, we feel peace, and we feel loved. For just who we where meant to be.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for creating each person differently. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to guide us to the purpose You have planned for our lives. We confess the times we ignore the sacrifice of Your Son, and try to control our lives the way we think they should be run. Bless us to let go, and follow You. 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 Cutting,

Megs

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The Stomp (#jammed daily devo, day 104)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 104: Tempers flare.

Thankfully, God does not punish us for our sins and depravity as we deserve.
    In His mercy, He tempers justice with peace.” Psalm 103:10

“MOM!” And then the stomp …and another stomp …and then a full body stomp …whichimage-104 really has to be seen in action to be fully appreciated for all that it is.

My second child challenges me with her quick temper. Her older sister is more prone to brood and stew when things don’t go her way …but my little Lo light’s her fuse immediately.

We all have the tendency to act without thought, overreact, or fail to act when we should;  but holding onto bitter notions takes some brooding.

brood- to dwell on a subject or to meditate with morbid persistence. 

Jesus is our ticket off the crazy-train. Because of His death, the cycle of hopeless thinking is interrupted.

“God’s patience must not be underestimated. Because he is patient with us, he does not treat us as we deserve.” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

We should be punished for losing our temper …for our lack of faithfulness and thankfulness. We do what we hate, as the apostle Paul states …even though we know we hate it. So, what is a good God to do? He forgives. He went out of His way to forgive us before we were sorry. Before we made mistakes. Before our temper snapped and we sat brooding about it for days upon end. Before we set that grudge to hold for all of those years, Jesus set our hearts free.

All of humanity, starting in the Garden of Eden, finds a way to brood and snap over circumstances that we don’t understand or approve of.  Thankfully, God provided a perfect way for us to break that cycle.

Raising a child with a temper is a good look into God’s patience. He loves us despite of ourselves, like I love her …and beyond. His patience is perfect, because it’s part of who He is.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for patience! Thank for each day we are forgiven instead of spite by You. We don’t get what we deserve, and we ask for You forgiveness of taking that for granted. Bless us to recognize Your patience love in others over our stubborn heart’s criticism. 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 Temper-tantrum-ing,

Megs

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The Game Night (#jammed daily devo, day 103)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 103: Play to win.

He is the strong runner
    who, favored to win in his race, is eager to face his challenge.” Psalm 19:5b

“Skip her, mom,” my oldest daughter suggested …annoyed at her little sister’s jitters. “She’s image-103not paying attention! Skip her!”

Monopoly is my favorite board-game, and I’ve been eagerly waiting for my daughters to grow into their attention span to play it. Their favorite part is enforcing all of the rules upon one another. The littlest hates to be timed, has trouble sitting still, and doesn’t like competition unless she’s winning.

“BRI!!!!!” she shouted. “I know it’s my turn …I’m trying to get Daddy to give me Disneyworld!”

Today’s verse is pulled from Psalm 19, which gives glory to God for the sun and the sky.

the skies testify of His hands’ great work. Each day pours out more of their sayings; each night, more to hear and more to learn.” Psalm 19:1b-2

The sunrise and sunset alone illuminate the truth in that verse. Not one has ever looked identical to the other. Always something new to see, just as there is always something new to learn.

“The sun is the supreme metaphor of the glory of God, as it makes its daily triumphant sweep across the whole extent of the heavens and pours out its warmth on every creature.” NIV Notes

Our family night can’t handle a whole game of Monopoly, so we pack up our pieces and properties and write down what space we were on. Each time we open the game back up, we continue the same game but add new moves and build onto our properties.

New lessons lie in every turn we take if we are paying attention enough to know it’s our turn to roll. When we’re caught up in what happened in the last move, or concentrating too much on the next one …we run the risk of losing our turn.

Just as the sky is new each day, so is our lesson for that day. Make new moves, take turns, and learn from the parts that have transpired before. Life’s days are a continuation of one journey, but when we linger too long in the disappointments of the day before, we prevent new lessons from growing in our hearts.

Our strength comes from Jesus, and He wins. We can face any challenge.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for the sky and sun, for both remind us of a new day’s challenge and chance to chase You. Thank You for reminding us that life is not always easy, but that we don’t have to carry the hard into each new day. Forgive us for dwelling on the past and for holding onto grudges. Bless our hearts to be held back by nothing as we seek You each day. 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 Racing,

Megs

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The Mad Ones (#jammed daily devo, day 102)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 102: It sure seems crazy to some.

“You’ve gone crazy, Paul! You’ve read one book too many and have gone insane!” Acts 26:24
(VOICE)

A bookworm’s delight is to disappear into wonderland. Imagination blooms in the pages ofimage-102 books. When my daughter was a baby, I could barely wait to pass on my love for worn out pages and musty library smells. We read piles of books and imagined great adventures. Always appreciative of the imaginative, both of my daughters are on an “Alice” kick. Their favorite quote:

Alice: Do you think I’ve gone ’round the bend? 

Alice’s Father: I’m afraid so… you’re mad. Bonkers. Off your head… but I’ll tell you a secret… all of the best people are.

Christianity does not flow with the world’s stream. We often forget that the apostles underwent extreme scrutiny for believing in Christ! But Paul didn’t waiver under the pressure. How could he, after all he had seen? Perhaps the power of experiencing Christ personally was enough for him to embrace the notion of madness.

It’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening to the left and to the right. We want to get comfortable in our spot and sit back in the pocket we know the best. But we can’t. Not when we are chasing after the flow of Christ’s blood, and our eyes are opened. In our families, communities, churches, and world …there is work to do!

Aside from loving the English accent and all it’s wonderful quips and puns in Alice in Wonderland, my daughters love that being “mad” is a good thing. I think they can relate. The hurt that they witness, and experience, as the school grades get higher is confusing to them. Unnecessary. They feel a little Mad Hatterish ….

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad? 

Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

 

Be mad. Be Hatterish. Get lost in the Living Word and live out the dreams too big for us to see. When we live out the purpose that was meant for our life, it looks different …because it is. Look around and fall in love with God’s diversity. We all know how awkward it feels to “clique,” so resist the urge. Dare to be brave and find the people God made you to flow with.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for making us all a little mad! Thank You for diversity and difference, for it is a breeding ground for compassion and love. Forgive us for missing our chance to love on others in Your name by allowing this world’s fit to consume our agenda. Bless our hearts to love You with abandon, in the way You uniquely gifted us to. 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 Hattering,

Megs

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Stay encouraged!