The Learning Curve

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.

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Rip it Off …Love While Healing.

Motherhood is like ripping band-aids off before the wounds have scabbed over. My hurts are exposed before they’ve healed. Before my kids started to grow up and experience deeper hurts, I could leave mine safely covered by the bandaids. While they remained covered and healing, I played in the park and participated in back yard picnics. I strolled down to the water and all over town to explore everything new alongside their innocent souls. 

The Bible says that children are a sign of God’s blessing. My life is living proof.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 NLT

In ancient times, children represented more than just a possession, as inferred in this verse. They represented heritage, “without children the inheritance of the land would be lost.” (NIV Study Bible Notes.) Our job as parents is to set them on the right path, and keep them on it or as close to it as we can …but the final decision on their direction is up to them. 

My kids didn’t know me before them, or see how becoming the mom they needed me to be pulled me out of a dark season, set me back on my feet and renewed my faith. They were indeed a “more than I could ever ask for or imagine” blessing that I didn’t deserve.

I can no longer hide the places the darkness has touched behind picnics and park playdates. Now, my mistakes have the power to protect my daughters if I cut them in on the healing. The Bible says to be wise we have to share our mistakes in hopes our children are less apt to repeat them. 

“My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgement, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. For, I, too was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s child.” Proverbs 4:1-3

This is Solomon, one of the wisest people ever to live, advising his son not to repeat his mistakes. Parent from a place of compassion.

“You’re going to make mistakes,” I told my daughter during one of our after school hear to hearts, “and sometimes things just happen to you.” 

She looked at me as if I couldn’t possibly understand what that was like, so I ripped off a band-aid.

“I don’t like to think about it,” I continued, “but it’s hard to forget.” 

I know all too well how one mistake can taint years of hard work. The pain of loss …the shattering hurt of a broken heart …and the failure to prepare that derails dreams. I’ve lived through everything crumbling. I watched 9/11 happen on live TV. I know what it feels like to travel down a road approved by everyone else …but me …and certainly not God. I’ve been the victim unfair circumstances. I know what it feels like to turn on my heels and run, dig a hole too deep to climb out of, and crawl back to Christ.

In the ten steps it took my daughter her to cross the room, her tears transformed from anger to empathy, loneliness to loved, ashamed to understood.

In the midst of my beautiful mess, God showed me who He made. I’m very careful not to glorify, excuse or leave out the painful consequences of my choices. Nor the unfair kind of pain we suffer from at the hand of someone or something else. As time marches on, mom becomes a little more human. It’s hard for my daughters to believe I could ever be anyone but who they perceive me to be …but it’s crucial they understand who I am. I’m never ready to rip off a band-aid, but I persevere so my kids have a choice to escape the some wounds, and reconcile why others happen to them. Mother’s will do anything to protect their children.

“Why does God let us chose, Mom?” she asked.

“What if we didn’t have to?” I asked, “Or, get to?” 

God is good. He doesn’t need anything from us, but we need Him. When I am tempted to go back and re-defeat myself over a season that God has proclaimed victorious He reminds me, “you are the same girl I have always loved.” 

We are so tempted to equate our worth to our actions, mistakes and accomplishments. Walking with Christ inspires us to do better, but we will never outgrow mistakes and consequences, nor outrun pain and suffering, this side of heaven. 

His love for us never changes. Just like I will never see my daughters or love them less because of mistakes, who we are to Him doesn’t change. What a gift in perspective, motherhood is. 

Happy Healing, Megs 🙂

Megs

The Praise-Proof (#jammed daily devo, day 351)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 351: The “In” Crowd.

 The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen and heard, and they glorified God for the way the experience had unfolded just as the heavenly messenger had predicted.” Luke 2:20 (VOICE)

It’s always interesting to see why God brings a group of people together. More than the DECJAM17“why,” it’s amazing to witness the “what.” What happens is nothing short of a miracle. Lives weave in and out with similar stories and struggles. Things that we don’t account for at face value have a way of touching our hearts. For this girl, wanting to be friends with everybody, a new group coming together is nothing short of Christmas come early.

Today’s verse tells of the shepherds reaction to baby Jesus. What a roller coaster ride of emotion they had been on: “terrified” by the angels that revealed themselves with a message of the Savior’s birth; and witness to scene exactly the way it was the angels foretold.

We always have a little doubt lodged in our hearts before we can attach a visual to audible text. Why did God put that there? The desire for visual affirmation?

God left a trail of proof all throughout history, when He didn’t have to. Faith is believing what we cannot see. But oh, do we long to see!! We strain our necks to see things …quiet our breathing to overhear …we’re constantly searching for evidence. It’s our nature. But, why?

“The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen…”

The proof is in our praise. In each individual life and set of circumstances and experiences, a trail of proof is being laid. No one will ever bear witness to God’s miracles in our lives if we suffer from a lack of praise. When we give our miracles vocal recognition, it allows others to see them.

God reveals miracles to us and to others the same way He moves in and out of His Living Word, touching our hearts a hundred different ways at a hundred different times with the same story.

Miracles.

We are the evidence.

And our praise is the proof.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise you for miracles! For the miracle of Jesus, and the trail of proof you leave for us to discover. Thank You for working in our lives so personally, and forgive us for questioning our miracles! Instead, help us to give our miracles a voice of praise as proof to hurting hearts that You are our Healer. 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 Praising,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

The “You Know Who.” (#jammed daily devo, day 139)

May #jammed: Growing Grace.

Day 139: Ongoing and unending.

“You know who.” Proverbs 23:30a

image-139

WHY did I want to study these Wise Statements? Alcohol has affected my entire life from just about every possible angle, and this passage is specifically about a man with a drinking problem. I promise you, no one is more uncomfortable digging up this verbiage than I.

Though I think it can be applied to a broad range of other things that are just as uncomfortable to talk about,  God doesn’t pull specific examples like this …put them in an ancient text …and make them applicable in this era in vain. Read through this passage with eyes and hearts open beyond alcoholism . Looking inward, what traits do you recognize?

 Who is wallowing in anguish? Who is full of sorrow?
    Who has conflicts? Who has complaints?

Who has bruises and can’t remember where they came from?
    Who has bloodshot eyes?

 You know who: those who stay up late finishing off the wine,
    those who can’t stop savoring spiced wines.

Look away from the enticing beauty of wine, the deep red hue;
    ignore how it shimmers in the cup
    and glides down your throat.

 Eventually, when you least expect it, it strikes like a snake;
    it stings like viper venom.

Your vision will blur, and you’ll imagine strange things;
    you will say crazy, hurtful things and regret it later.

 You will reel and stagger as if caught on a wave of seasickness,
    as a sailor who holds on to a mast for dear life.

You will say, “They slapped me, but it didn’t hurt.
    They beat me, and I didn’t feel a thing!

Whenever I wake up from this stupor,
    I’ll have another drink!”

Proverbs 23:29-35

The biggest mistake we make as people, and especially as Christians, is discounting the possibility that things could, are, and will affect us. It isn’t to the left or to the right that we find peace or solution. It’s not in fixing other people or even ourselves. It’s letting go and letting God. It’s gripping Jesus’ hand tight enough to keep us from falling. When I look back and see how many times and how close I came to total destruction, I know there’s no way I made it out alive on my own. He pulled me out. Grace.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for pulling us out of our pitfalls. Thank You for grace, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. Forgive us for forgetting that Your lessons are always for our hearts, and bless us to strengthen our faith more 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 Pit-crawling out,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

The Pinch (#jammed daily devo, day 106)

April #jammed: Grace Studies.

Day 106: Relief is coming.

Surely You’ve heard me say,
    “Don’t be deaf to my call; bring me relief!” Lamentations 3:56

Anyone who’s suffered long-term pain can relate to the sentiments of the prophet image-106Jeremiah in today’s verse. God does hear and answer our prayers, but His answers don’t always look the way we want them to, or happen in the time we would like them to.

When my husband first complained of a pinched nerve, I honestly didn’t pay much attention. It happens every so often, and usually goes away in a few days. This time, it was much worse. He couldn’t lay down. Night after night he tried, but ended up down in the basement on the reclining couch. After living with the pain for a week, myself and some friends pulled that couch upstairs …and weeks later, he was still sleeping there.

We take things for granted until they are taken away. Why does human nature have to be that way? God designed us, and did so perfectly …to need Him. He does give us more than we can handle and He does allow circumstances to bleed out beyond our control. There’s a lot of life that He will withhold the answers to, and we don’t have the capacity to understand why even if He let on.

After weeks of pain, therapy, and doctor’s visits, it became clear there was something else causing his nerve to be pinched. Something, as I write this, only God holds the answers to. In prayer to Him it’s tempting to beg for definitive answers over miraculous healing. But I know better from my own pain that hope deferred grows faith.

I pray for him to hear God’s voice through the pain, and feel His presence through the frustration. “Don’t be deaf to my call;” Jeremiah pleaded. When someone we love is in pain, we feel helpless to stop it. “Bring me relief!” When we are in pain, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, it takes over our focus. It becomes difficult to concentrate on the hope of healing, and hard to let go of what we think that should look and feel like.

Hold onto the hand that was nailed to the cross. That Hand knows pain like none other. Our hope is in Him.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for Jesus. No one has ever experienced pain like He did for us. Thank You for His sacrifice, which allows us to call out to You for help in full confidence that You hear us and will answer us and heal us. Forgive us for wanting to control what the answers to Your prayers look and feel like and when they happen. Bless us to be strong in Your Word, and rely on You for strength. 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 Crying out,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80.