The Bench (#jammed daily devo, day 137)

May #jammed: Growing Grace.

Day 137: The wrong spot.

“Make your parents happy
 Proverbs 23:22

“Oh, no, MOM!” my daughter wailed, “our bench is gone.”may correction

We’d been stopping eat lunch on our favorite bench since she was just a little toddler. Things change and life moves …and so did our bench.

Today’s section of Proverbs encourages us to discipline our children. Every parent wishes for their child to make good decisions, hang on our every wise word, follow our rules, and respectfully make us proud.

But what happens when the bench moves? When they move away from us? When they grow up? What happens then? Will they retain all of the wisdom we’ve tried to instill upon them in the short time we’ve had them under our noses? Will our arms remain open as their lives drift beyond our understanding and control?

Buy the truth and do not sell it—
    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.” Proverbs 23:23

The above verse gives us three keys to parent with wisdom:

wisdom-  knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. dictionary.com

When we tell our children the Truth, we are giving them the opportunity to digest wisdom. If we simply respond, “because I said so,” we rob them of the ability to learn how to discern right from wrong. When we go to God’s Word with our kids, He begins to move in their hearts. They will eventually figure out that we don’t know everything, nor are we entitled to make mistakes without apology. Honesty, humlity, and apology build a foundation for formative wisdom.

instruction- education. (dictionary.com)

It’s not only important for our children to hear the Word of God from us, but it’s important for them to hear it from their peers. A solid church family, Sunday school, after school program, youth groups, Christian camps …it’s important to let them learn the Word of God, and how to build a community of fellowship, too.

insight-an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding. (dictionary.com)

Sometimes, the lightbulb pops on mid-verse. After praying about a specific situation, the Word will open right up and address it. God’s Living Word is alive and active, and our kids need the savvy to navigate the pages of the Bible. We can help them build a solid foundation simply by reading a short devotion a day with them, and praying with them often.

When we teach our children how to go to God, it prepares their hearts to lean on Christ. They will make mistakes, and it will hurt to watch. Trust that He will always be after their hearts …making their triumphant moments all the more sweet.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for the applicable nature of Your Word. Thank You for helping us though life and leaving us with the Holy Spirit to help us interpret and remember what we read and experience. Forgive us for lecturing our children with our ways, and help us continuously point them to Yours first. 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 Word-ing,

Megs

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The Auto-Correct 

“I DIDN’T SAY THAT!!!!” One sister yelled.

“YESSSSSSS YOUUUUUUU DIIIIIIIID-AAAAAAAA,” the other retorted.

“WELL THEN YOU HEARD ME WRRRRROOOONNNGGGG-AAAAAA,” she snapped back.

“Ugh,” I sighed, listening to them pile frustrated syllables on top of simple words, “they’ve BOTH gotten that from me.”

Faces twisted into eccentric versions of craziness, both seethingly glared into the review mirror. Apparently, that was my cue to magically apply logic to what had “actually” been said. Ironic, how they burst into laughter at Siri’s mistakes …or Mom’s …that’s always hysterical. But they take sisterly “corrections” very seriously.

imageGrown-up or not, we all fall victim to our own stubbornness. Right or wrong, few people have the ability to apologize on the spot for the effect irrelevant to the cause. Except Siri, she’s pretty quick to tell you, “I’m sorry, I did not understand.”

If you join me in the struggle to handle hot-tempered moments of kids quarreling in the backseat, I can offer a couple of tips that have kept me on the road. But don’t judge me if you hear me screaming “SHUT UP!” as I drive around town with the windows down. #trying #inthefield

1. Load up and line up your corrections. 

When we rely on the seat of our pants to apply sage wisdom, we conjure a stink full of bad advice. image

“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” Leviticus 20:7-8 (NIV)

Tense moments flare tempers, and words seem to fail us. No matter how many, or at what volume, they spill into the car … mistranslated like a text message surrendered to auto-correct.

God seeks to steer us, and applauds efforts to guide our children through tedious moments. Seek His wisdom. Set aside some space to clear the clutter and read the Bible. Everyday has five free minutes. The time I spend in His Word allows me to relay the motherly messages He always intended for my daughters to hear. image

2. Embrace The Correction

Imagine God watching from Heaven while we blow right by misinterpretations and hit “send” anyway …EVEN WHEN He’s waving both hands in front of our face?!?! Instead of ridiculing us for missteps and side-trails, He sent His only Son to die for us. The love demonstrated in sacrifice forever forgives our failed efforts. Through Jesus, God replaces every “fallen short,” with “grace and love.” image

What missteps have lent us the opportunity to spread Christ’s love? The story of Jesus naming Peter yields immense hope.

“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which, when translated, is Peter.)” John 1:42 (NIV)

Peter was a fisherman that doubted Jesus at the rooster’s crow. But he was also known for having solid faith in Jesus, and for his leadership in the early church. The NIV Study Bible further notes that, although his name is literally translated, “Rock,”

“Peter was anything but a rock; he was impulsive and unstable…Jesus named him not for what he was but for what, by God’s grace, he would become.”

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My daughters’ bickering in the backseat brings to light the natural struggle to be right …to be the best …the favorite … independent… No winner emerges from unjust conflict.  There’s no reason to put our individual mission on earth to death by comparison. Our kids need us to be who Jesus says we are.

“Peter was best know for his impetuous nature and fierce devotion to Christ.” -NIV Study Bible Text Note 

Impetuous means, “acting or done quickly and without thought or care.” (Google.com) It also can mean, “moving forcefully or rapidly.” (Google.com) 

Fierce means, “having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness.”(Google.com) It can also mean, “(of a feeling, emotion, or action) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.”(Google.com)

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So by one definition we can choose to see Peter as a flip-flopping doubter with a temper. Or, we can choose to look a little bit deeper into the heart Jesus identified long before Peter knew his name. The “Rock,” who spread the gospel with force and speed throughout the early church, and loved Jesus with heartfelt and powerfully intense faith.

Embrace the correction.

Parents are glaringly aware of faults and annoying attributes, but our love blows any negative ducks out of the water. We’ve embraced the imagecorrection before it’s corrected.

“Girls…” I warmed up, as I prayed that a nugget of Spirit-led wisdom would fall out of my mouth, “…it doesn’t matter who started it or who’s fault it is …you both need to apologize and hug it out.”

Insert insane amount of eye-rolling and last ditch efforts to pinch each other…

“Love you,” I added with a smile.

The correction is love.

imageWe don’t have to fight to be fierce. Most of us haven’t even grown into our true “names” yet. When we’re scrunched up and mangled into frustrated faces, Jesus sees our hearts and knows our names. His gift of death in exchange for grace grants us new life …for life …for forever.

Fight with the fierce and ferocious power of the love that conquered it all. And if you let a hot-tempered phrase slip, apologize. It works for Siri …my kids think she’s hilarious when she admits she’s at a complete loss…

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When I want to quit, prayer is there to pull me through. I hope you know He’s there for you, too.

Happy Corrections!

Megs

The Book of Happy Faces

To combat the darkness ever permeate in the atmosphere, I choose to unearth the joy of Jesus by following the happy faces.  Facebook…Twitter-verse…Instagram…Pinterest…my news feeds looks like a Christian motivational speaker threw up all over them and then added glitter.  Facebook can be a platform for the positive and encouraging, or it can be a festering blister of negativity that haunts my bright little screen.

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Matthew 12:34

It’s not reality, and there’s only 1,440 minutes in my day. The excessive amount of ranting that opportunely may drench my day cannot always be shut off. But in the realms of social media I can unfollow negative sloth, never to be bothered by it again. I even have the power to block it forever, if I deem it too invasive to my joy.  That’s brill. If only that sentiment could be applied to incoming text messages…

 A little bleep landed in my new text alerts one midnight… a photo from my oldest daughter a midst the first Bucher Sister Sleepover. I had been excitedly talking with a friend…down the stairs…in the same house…and missed her first couple of messages. (Side note, I think she’s taken note not to ninja-stealth-scare me anymore by creeping down the stairs and sneaking up behind my chair…good for the old ticker…)

I hastened up the stairs to confiscate her phone and tuck her in, scrolling through her sent messages as I slowly creaked her door shut.

I’m no better than my daughter at waiting for a reply when it’s something I need to know straight away.  And when I post a blog and no one comments, my heart does sink a pinch.  But on the flip side, the concern of inconsequential “dings” and missed ring-tones bead up and trickle to the floor.

“Beep. Boop. Bop,” my daughter’s “phone” busted into the afternoon stillness.

“Beep. Boop. Bop.”

The buzzing robot alert stirred my eyes over to the loft desk.  My daughter bypassed the “I just received a message and must answer right now” circuit board, and continued Barbie’s latest saga to save all of humanity by pairing up with Flynn Ryder… “Barbie’s” crush.

“Beep. Bop. Boop.”

My curiosity did not meander down the stairs alongside the cat.

“Brianne, aren’t you going to see who’s sending you messages?” I prodded… “Someone sent a picture…”

“No.” She quipped, aggravated to be interrupted mid- wedding in the dream house.  Far cry from the urgent response she needed on sleepover night.

“What’s that like?” I seethed, as I searched the dusty corridors of my brain for a pre-technologically controlled remnant.  I confess, I wait for the dings after a blog post like my cat waits for food when her bowl is only half full.  The whiplash of feedback on social media flaunts my convictions and exposes my addiction to encouragement.

It’s a ridiculous plight to develop discipline over, I realize. When to put the “ding” down and look up and out at the world happening in my family room…lest I forfeit my witness of  Barbie and Flynn’s vows.  I mean, Barbie may never marry again, and I will plausibly regret forevermore not showing up in any of the wedding photos.  Blast!

That December afternoon, I caught my five year old’s accused eye roll of amateur status… as I texted and checked one-handed whilst my play-doh cupcake turned into a hot mess. My family needed me to pay attention, not just be present. Inspired, I vowed not to let the fourteen days of Christmas break my daughters and I counted down for in angst unfold with me holed up in “busyness” at my desk, while the sounds of joy filtered up the stairs and underneath the crack of my closed door.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Introducing my daughter to texting and face-time is only the beginning …social media is right around the corner. I learn how to process faceless communication right alongside her, and have purposely built up a wall of “Jesus-joy” to guard my heart…and hers, until she’s old enough to take the wheel.  I don’t walk the pier everyday with intentions of getting pooped on by a bird …but it’s possible. (Especially lately… What is it, bird-ageddon over here?!) I’m not focused on the birds, I’m focused on the view. I don’t hear their crazed cackling in my ears, because I have different song streaming through my headphones. I choose my focus.

I don’t know what hard-knock is about to sound at my door.  Ailments are imageeverywhere.  But God doesn’t trip me up with obstacles to make me grumble through my day and life.  He’s the God of humorous silver linings.  The One who allows me to walk through an entire cloud of seagulls without getting pooped on; but then get blasted by the only one around in a ten mile radius.

He’s given us His only Son so that we can choose to unfollow the things that make us miserable.  He did not give us life to make us suffer.  He gave us life for joy!  Fight the good fight and roll with the punches…knowing each blow does have an eternal purpose… and your life has a specific one.

Stay encouraged.  Be happy.  “Follow” the light…Christ.

“Be joyful always.” 1Thes5:16

Happy Sharing,

Megs

The Iced Cube Tray and The Lemon Seed

IMG_6842When I fear there is no way and no room, God squeezes encouragement into the treasured places of my heart.

Boy do I love to shop in bulk.  Less trips to the store equals fewer times that I’m required to take two children with me that think they need everything that can be given a bar code and stocked on a shelf. I cherished the last stock-up so much that I couldn’t see over my cart.  At the sight of me drenched in sweat from hauling it to the front of the store, the cashier asked,

“You fit this all in one cart?”

“Yep, but I can push two out…it’s OK,” I replied, laughing.

“Oh, good,” she laughed, “I’m glad you’re not opposed to the idea.”

The sense of achievement I felt as I drifted through the aisles checking things off of my grocery list faded to black when I opened up my freezer to assess the situation.

“Blast,” I said to myself…”one more box of waffles.”

Can I just spray some pixie dust in there and toss the waffles in, and just trust it’ll all work out?  That’s what Lo would do.  But she’s five.  And I’m not a fairy.

My eyes drifted over to the ice cube bin.

“I’ll just have to use the ice maker until we eat all of these waffles….” I self-comprised.

Life is full to the brim with these significant badges of motherhood. I’ve always been encouraged by the fact that each mother is picked specifically for the children she is tasked to raise.  For this mom called to “stay home,” the struggle to remain content in God’s promise came under fire the day I dropped my last my baby girl off at all-day Kindergarten.  I became restless, and started to let the door of the comparison trap creak to a close.

My daughters witness every reaction.  They ask loads of questions and demand explanations. They increase in beauty and brilliance with every passing day,  and my overwhelming and impossible responsibility to lead them follows suit.

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“Will they value their ability to inflict change upon the world if they only see me affect these four walls we live within?”
In these moments I rush to fill my cart up to the brim in panic, and attempt to shove extra waffles in the freezer…when instead I should be reminding myself of God’s promise. The tendency to add things to my life and my schedule in absence of my focus becomes tantalizing and tempting…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matthew 19:14)

God is a God of encouragement, and He will interrupt my meddling to nudge my heart in subtle situations. Like when my daughter grabbed  a paint brush and wrote “love” on a rain barrel…

“Doesn’t that make you proud?” Came the encouragement delivered from a friend.  Messaged received.  I’m not failing.

Those God-sent seeds of encouragement run a variable risk of floating to the bottom of my IMG_0019Tervis full of ice water no mater how proficient I become at extracting them with my lemon juice squeezer thingy.  But all is not lost, I end up sucking up a lemon seed up through the straw at least once every day.  And as I spit it into the sink, I think,

“Why on earth don’t they make the lemon squeezy thing big enough to catch all the seeds?!”

It drives me nuts, and I’m pretty sure I’ve swallowed enough seeds to have a lemony fresh forest growing in my abdomen somewhere.  My daughters are constantly spitting lemon seeds at me, but theirs are the kind that crunch between my teeth before I notice them swishing around a midst my swig of water.

“How do babies get in your belly… Why do people move… Why does it take so long to get ready for school in the morning (OK, that’s my question)… I miss kitty …  Do we come back as angels after we die… It’s too hard … Mom, you know that you are the one who is in charge of losing your temper, right?”

The seeds I allow to grow into lemony freshness are determined by the truth I align them with.

Paul encouraged Timothy to ” …hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, known from whom you learned [them]” -2Timothy 3:14. Timothy learned his faith from observing his mother, Eunice…who in turn learned her faith from observing her mother, Lois. (2Timothy 1:5).  

I am  already doing a better job than I think.

In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul reminds Timothy of his salvation in Jesus Christ, and the knowledge and treasures of the Word that have been stored in his heart since childhood.

God reverted my mind from spitting seeds to find room for the box of frozen waffles…in the ice cube bin.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (NIV),  So that the man of God may e complete an proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” -2Timoty 3:16-17 (AMP)

It was there all along…I just didn’t see it.  Seeing the space doesn’t always eliminate the frustration of wanting to live up to something that requires more than I feel built to deliver…but it’s a comfort.  Life’s going to spit lemon seeds at me at a rapid rate until my time here expires. I can’t prevent that from happening to me or my children.  And through the tears that are simply a product of the journey, I keep moving.  I keep praying.  I keep looking for more space.  I look to God’s Word.  I pray for His help.

To grow. To learn. To love.

IMG_7117To be the best mom than I can humanly manage to be on this day, and trust in the journey He has set up to be mine alone.  Did you know that a monarch chrysalis has a shimmer of gold on it?  I didn’t either, until I took a hike with my kids in the woods.  What an amazing fight that butterfly has to go through just to become a butterfly…and one of the most beautiful at that, if you ask me.  Kids have a way of stopping us mid-battle to reflect back on a beautiful moment.

I wonder on lots of day if I’ve done it right…tried hard enough…been smart enough…set the right example…but I realize even if I reached the bar I’d then, in turn, reach for a higher rung.  Being content in the journey is anything but easy, but having faith in my Lord is.

It’s a joyful struggle.  It’s a worthy fight.  It’s a purpose I’ll fully understand one day beyond the stars.

Happy Cart-pushing…

Megs

“Point your kids in the right direction- when they’re old they won’t be lost.” -Proverbs 22:6 (MSG)

Shoes.

All women are born with a natural appreciation for shoes.  Whether they be a coveted pair of running shoes, flip flops, “grown-up night” high boots, a chic pair of heals, or cozy slippers….the affection for footwear cannot be denied.  Some are born with more of a knack for footwear than others, and two of them strike a chord in my mind immediately…one of my besties, Meg, and my daughter, Lo.

Meg was the first to present my first baby girl with a pair of girly white shoes with adorned with a flower, and the only one who could dress up an ugly red uniform polo with a fab pair of shoes.  She once wore heals trick or treating…it’s our fave tradition we do with our kids (born 3 months apart)… walked at least a mile in those heals that night! That’s a love for shoes, people.  (…and yes, they were smashingly cute, lol, Meg.)

My daughter, Lo, cannot even speak full sentences yet…but she can manage a strut across the kitchen in any pair of shoes that I take off when I come in the door.  Could be a future fashion designer I have on my hands…let’s hope for that and not the starving model she’s unknowingly imitating as she paces back and forth in my kitchen.  (Ha!  Never mind…she may look like a skinny model one day, but that girl’s been eating non-stop since she entered this world!!)  I tell you this, she’ll be the one with the appreciation for fashion.  (There’s a reason she already has radar for Daddy’s wallet.)

Joking slightly aside, we take for granted how a cute pair of shoes can make us feel.  When I lace up my running shoes, I immediately feel empowered.  A pretty pair of heals make me feel…well…pretty!  My daughters are no different.  From Brianne plucking a pair of bright red shoes out of the Target clearance bin and dubbing them ‘perfect church shoes,’ to Lo freaking out over how cute a pair of bright pink bunny slippers are…one thing is clear:  shoes = happiness.

My youngest daughter walks around the house Sunday mornings with her dress practically over her head so that we can all see her “PEEEETY SHOOOO-EZZZZ!!!” Her big sister tears her ‘school’ shoes off and makes a mad dash for her ‘princess’ dress up shoes.  Me?  I have more time invested in displaying my favorite shoes in my closet than I’d like to admit.  Carefully making sure they are stored in a way that will preserve their shape and life.  So, I’m no exception.

Jim, my husband, has a pair of flip flops…at times 2…tennis shoes, Doc Martin boots, work shoes, and dress shoes.  Oh, and a pair of boat shoes that collect dust but ‘must remain.’  He will never relate to ‘The Shoes.’  And boy, does he have it coming.  Our house already has moments that revolve around shoes.  Imagine what that will evolve into when they are teenagers.  Or, what about along the way?

God bless my husband.  He’s going to be buried in shoes.  Ballet shoes, running shoes, ‘church’ shoes, sparkly shoes, winter boots, rain boots, dress boots, cowgirl boots, sandals, dress sandals, flip flops, crocs, reef shoes, Chucks (Bri already  has 3 different colors), tap shoes, play shoes, running shoes, dance recital shoes, spring shoes, summer shoes, fall shoes, winter shoes…

Happy Shoe-ing!

Megs