Talking about God.
Posted on May 29, 2019
“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story-“ Psalm 107:2 NIV
“OK,” I motioned for my eight-year-old, “hop on.”
In the midst of a Spring that just won’t spring, I trekked through our over-saturated backyard in my rain boots with my daughter on my back. Emergency trips for X-rays never happen at convenient times, and so it seemed mildly appropriate the car was parked in the backyard while our street was being re-paved.
It’s easy to talk about God when things are great. To reflect His presence in our lives it’s rolling along at a nice clip. When the new road is freshly paved and void of bumps threatening to pop tires or spill coffee. We sing praises when the sun shines and the flowers bloom before the first day of summer, but much less when the old road is broken up and blocking our driveway.
How do we speak of God when the days are gray and we don’t feel very cheery? Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” NIV
God doesn’t move or change with the weather or the roadwork. Through it all, He remains. When we are gray, ugly and broken-up, He loves us the same. So, on ugly broken days, when we have to carry our kids across the muddy lawn …we speak of God.
“Let me pray over it,” I said as I attached an icepack to her blue-green foot. We prayed, and then started to laugh. All the way to the car, sitting in the waiting room watching funny videos, and when her sock came off to reveal a regularly colored foot. Little Lo didn’t want to be pushed in a wheel chair to the X-ray room …so she rolled herself there like she’d just made the wheel chair grand prix. And we continued to laugh. The situation wasn’t funny -she had a dance competition in literal days and could put no weight on her foot. But she has God-given gift to see hard situations through a heavenly perspective.
Ruled a sprain, good doctors and good treatment would heal her, but we both knew prayer had a big stake in her circumstance. God will put out the orange barrels and block us from our driveways at times. There are parts of our lives that need tending to, in the time only He knows they will set properly. When we pray specifically for radical change, He is faithful to reframe our circumstances. God’s hand is in every rescue, and every excavation of evil. In Christ, inconvenience is used for good, and all things exist under His reign.
Telling our story, like Psalm 107:2 says, is more than just sharing the gospel. Loving God, like Deuteronomy 6:5-9 instructs us, is more than telling our testimony. It’s living His truth, as though it’s permeated into every last thought and thread of our being. Loving God is living loved, in the everyday annoyances and little bits of triumph. Laughing in light of trying times tells more than mere words. Celebrating small victories make says something about the state of our souls. We are the redeemed of the LORD! Through all we say do, let the love of our Mighty God’s redemptive and compassionate hand be ever so evident.
Find a way to laugh …or at least smile through the tears on tough days. Reach out to encourage a friend to remove self-pity. Remember all there is to be thankful for. Repeat, “Jesus!” for there is power in His name. We are promised painful times this side of heaven, but there is so much good to say. Talk about it! Repeat it! Go tell it! The healing power of God is activated when we engage in conversation with Him. Our hope is restored by the re-telling of way He’s moved in our lives before, and it encourages and assures us He will do it again.
The Power of a Memory
Posted on May 22, 2019
“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,
The Learning Curve
Posted on May 15, 2019
May Parenting: The Learning Curve
“For the LORD is a great god, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed dry land.” Psalm 95:3-5 ESV
There is no one like our God. We are created in His image, but we are not Him. The things we create get messed up. The people we raise, rebel. We come unglued. Mistakes are the learning curve of life, yet many kids are ashamed of them. Perfectionism is creeping into the cracks of our society, where kids are known for their test scores and grade cards rather than their unique talents and abilities. Afraid to disappoint anyone with their failures, they keep them hidden and covered up. They are on social media younger and younger, where the highlight reel reigns. It’s a difficult reality for them to navigate, and a crucial environment for parents to be aware of.
We all struggle with the fear of disappointing other people, ourselves, or God. Mistakes are a part of being human, and God is not surprised. Regardless of our imperfections, He chooses to love us right where are. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” ESV
I often scramble to fix the way my daughters feel instead of trusting God for who He says He is. The Father draws them, not me. Psalm 98:2 says, “The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.” (NIV) As parents, we are called to lead our children to His feet, but I often need to be reminded my daughters were His before they were mine. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” ESV
Christ went to the cross to reach a bar we never could. We often learn the most from our mistakes, and have the opportunity to help others who are struggling with what we have gone through. It comforts children to learn parents make mistakes, too. Christ meets us in our mess everyday. He wipes the slate clean, but the memories of our past mistakes are to serve the people He places in our lives purposefully. Including our children. Hebrews 3:13 says,“encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today.’” NIV
When no band-aid seems to fit our children’s wounds and calm their fears, Jesus heals. There is power in His name. Pray to Him, together. He is always with us, and God promises to be close to broken hearted. God freely gives His love, but it’s up to us to receive it, and teach our children to as well. When our kids are hysterical and hormonal all at once, let’s come alongside them and love them empathetically, as if we’ve been there. Perfection has no place in anyone’s expectations this side of heaven.
God rested. When we throw our faith in Him, we are able to rest. He reigns. He’s in control. Hebrews 4:10-11a says,“for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” ESV.
Posted on April 24, 2019
“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-16 NIV
The urge to compare starts early in life. It’s a fight we battle throughout life, and often leads to envy, bitterness and dissatisfaction. Pride thrives off of comparison, dually, in that it strips our confidence and blinds us to our unique abilities. More than obvious arrogance, pride seeks to disqualify us is such an extreme way, that we can begin to mistake humility for it.
“Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” 1Corinthians 12:15-16 NIV
We each have unique gifts, given to us freely by God in order to fulfill the purpose we were created for by Him. Denying these gifts exist, or acting like we’re not as good at them as we are, is pride in reverse …not humility. Humility is acknowledging our gifts and celebrating them in honor of God, and working hard at what we’ve been given to be good at to glorify Him and accomplish our purpose.
“As the human body must have diversity to work effectively as a whole, so the members of Christ’s body have diverse gifts, the use of which can help bring about the accomplishment of Christ’s united purpose.” NIV Study Bible Notes
Knowing this truth isn’t enough to fight the pride that fuels arrogance nor the pride that burns down our confidence. Living this truth is the key to unlocking a Christ-led life of freedom. Through Christ, the Word of God comes alive, living in us with every breath we breathe. Through His Spirit, we are strengthened in godly confidence, and restrained with holy humility. Anything worth doing takes work, and our faith in Christ is no different. We are on a constant trajectory towards eternity, daily growing in our faith (sanctification). It’s important to keep fighting the good fight of faith, because we are all so radically important to God.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8 NIV
God places people in our lives purposefully, not so we would compare in pride, but be encouraged in community with each other. Pride runs rampant, in church communities just as much as agnostic. We can wisely ask God to search our hearts for it daily. Christ is the only One powerful enough to keep pride at bay. The only one powerful enough to conquer the impossible, Emmanuel, God with us. Knowing the Truth ignites our faith, but clinging to Him daily allows us to live it.
“The emphasis is on unity within diversity.” NIV Study Bible Notes
Communities experience unity through diversity. We were not put on this earth alone. Love truly does conquer all. In the end, Love does win. Love has already won, defeating death on the cross. If we could only see each other as He did, hanging there on the cross …One body, all of us. Imperfect, broken, world a mess …He died for us anyway. Our Creator is intentional. He created me, you, and all of us with specific purpose. There is only one me, one you, one of us all. None more important than the other. Neither loved less than the next. It’s a choice to see everyone that way. As a child of God, whom He loves and created for a purpose.
Each puzzle needs every piece to be complete.
Posted on April 17, 2019
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.