Picture Day

The windshield wipers squeaked and scraped across the windshield. Misting gray skies muted brilliant colors of the changing season. Wet blacktop swished in traffic, and dreariness attempted frame the day before it had barely begun. Slumped over, choppy breaths evidence of watery eyes, my passenger clutched a cuddly elephant. School picture day meant we would eventually frame 2020 and place it on the fireplace mantel. 

“What’s the matter?” I asked her. She simply shrugged and could not say. The cumulative effect of this year’s anxieties have worn her to the core. She feels beyond my reach, at times, a helpless feeling for a mom. This has been a year full of infinitely more things I cannot explain to her, definitively. Her eyes waver back and forth to me and we both wonder what tomorrow will bring and how we can possibly brace for what it will be like. I want so badly to tell her when this will all be over, that tomorrow won’t be worse, and we’ll all get through it …together. 

Under normal circumstances, parenthood illustrates our daily need for God. The author of Hebrews wrote, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he said down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”(Hebrews 1:3 NIV) The Greek Word for exact defines the instrument used for engraving or carving. 

Numbers, facts, and circumstances change daily in our lives. The author of Hebrews assures us exactly where Jesus is. Our Savior sits at the right hand of the Father. 

Unchanging truth comes from God alone. He knows the number of our days. Nothing changes it. God is the only One who can peer beyond what we see and experience in the present moment. His Truth, alone, is trustworthy and dependable. He is good, and makes good of all things. 

God is personal. Reframe the truth as such. His greatest expression of love for me was Jesus, who came to earth and died on the cross to save me from my sins …and through salvation in the Him the Holy Spirit lives in me and my soul lives eternally with Him. When our lives are built upon this Rock of truth and our faith is rooted in God’s love, we wade through the really hard things with Him.  

Why, then, is it still so hard for God’s Truth to make it past the lump in my throat today? I know Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, fighting for me. Why do I feel so powerless, my prayers seemingly ignored? Because the truth about the world we live in can be pretty grim.

The world’s unfairness isn’t just a fleeting feeling, it’s a magnified fact of life on this sin-soaked earth. There is real evil in the world, intended upon stealing, killing, and destroying us. Our enemy lies. When we feel we are surrounded by unfairness and evil, lies and manipulation …it’s because we are! It’s really hard, and it can make us feel hopeless and helpless to stop it or make things right. Especially when our kids are hurting and there’s nothing we can do to fix or ease the pain. 

Perspective is our rescue. Knowing what is true allows us to see through a different perspective. One of wisdom, peace, hope and love. Jesus is the way we keep moving …because when we can stand anymore …He carries us. 

Letting go is the hardest task in parenting. We ache to see our kids go through pain we wish we could prevent and steer them around. Imagine how God feels about us, when we are in pain, mistreated, hurt, manipulated, and taken advantage of? We have limited power on this earth to set things right, but He is limitless. God, though we don’t understand His purposes or His timing, is in control. We may be manipulated by media, but God is in control. We may be taken advantage of by corrupt leaders, but God is in control. We may not get answers to our prayers in the way and timing we want …but He does hear us …and He will answer. 

The reality of my 2020 is- I don’t know what time I’ll pick my daughter up from school today. But, no matter if it’s normal pick up time and I have her favorite snack and cuddly source of comfort waiting for her in the passenger seat, or a hug and spirit that will share in her heartache and tears, we will turn on the wipers …drive through the cold misty rain …and go home together. And I’m thankful for that …for together.

“Let Us Not Become Weary in Doing Good” -How to Fight for Good in a Sin-Weary World

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 
“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” – Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Distressed heartaches are akin to sun-soaked patches and chilled traces of worry on our foreheads. The nightly news is abounding in negativity and dire worldly straits, despite modern advances in mobility and connectivity in many nations. Paul encourages us in Galatians 9, “Let us not become (or grow) weary in doing good” (NIV) 

Weary wraps around everything from strained muscles to over-extended relationships. Messy boundaries and misplaced shame wearies our souls. Parents can surely relate to the physical and mental strains of weariness. But the Bible is talking specifically about a different kind of weary– an enduring state that goes beyond what we can humanly bear or endure. 

It is the breaking point at which we cannot see how to move another step, or take another breath. dictionary.com defines weary as: 

1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.

2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.

3. impatient or dissatisfied with something (often followed by of)

When doing good in a weary world seems impossible, following Christ empowers us to love each other in spite of the chaos. Here are ten shifts for perspective that can revitalize us to keep going and teach us how to not grow weary as we do good:

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A Prayer for Those Wating on Healing

When our mobility is threatened, the world seems to stop. Suddenly everything becomes painful, nerves fry, and our prayers become urgent. Crying in a heap on my floor, I laid my collegiate athletic self to rest… I thought for good. Or, for as far forward as I could see. Whether His response to our agony is miraculous or deferred, we can trust He is healing us through seasons of pain. 

1. Take it to Him. 

“Pray about everything.” (Phil 4:6)

The things that we cannot do pale in comparison to Who we are talking to. Keep talking to God after the shock of the news. Revelation has many stages, and our eyes will open to a little more relief each day. 

2. Allow sadness… and joy. 

“Be joyful always.” (1 Thes. 5:16)

Search for the joy in your current circumstances. Pain is inevitable in this life, but God longs to show us each day’s happiness. 

3. Let go of control. 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Trust that God will reveal solutions in perfect time. Hope for miraculous healing, because it happens everyday. It happened to me.

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How to Find Joy in You Season of Loneliness

Even surrounded by people, we can still be painfully lonely if our relationships fall out of alignment with God’s purpose for them in our lives. When we’re looking for others to fulfill our every need and comfort our every hurt, we are bound to be disappointed. And in my own lonely season, I was. But the wonderful thing about our Almighty God he is always with us – we are never alone, never apart from his unfailing love.

Seasons of loneliness leave us vulnerable – we begin placing our trust in things or people other than God. In one such lonely season of my life, I began to rely on the people around me more than the Father who placed them there. Suddenly, their opinions mattered the most to me. I began blindly following their advice, assuming my best interest was always at the center of their universe.

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The Power of a Memory

“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,

Megs