Incorruptible Love.

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS

Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.

“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.

My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me. 

I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.

Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are? 

True love is incorruptible.  

“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted. 

My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact. 

Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.

As a  mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.

There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority. 

“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”

That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible. 

When You Can’t Handle the Hate

Jesus promised us that “in the world we would have trouble” (John 16:33). Hate seems to be the prominent way societal agendas are pushed into action. Do you remember the part in Frozen when Elsa realizes that the key to controlling her icy powers is the warmth of love? The cartoon queen might be on to something. After all, how much hate can we throw at hate before we end up consumed in the eternal coldness of winter? 

“The antidote to hate is compassion,” states Psychology Today, “for others and ourselves.” Christ sacrificed His life for everyone, and His command to us is to love… above all else. When you can’t handle the hate, practice compassion. 

Hate can attempt to get under our skin and either make us believe outright lies about who God says we are, or turn towards another to claim lies about who they are. In three simple steps, we can realign our thoughts to the tune of Christ’s love.

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A Prayer for the Heartbroken and Lonely on Valentine’s Day

In a matter of days after Christmas passes, the retail industry shifts from Christmas trees to heart-shaped chocolate boxes. Those in love embrace Valentine’s Day as another reason to celebrate, while others nurse broken hearts and mourn seasons of loneliness. This may be the year a man spends his first Valentine’s Day without his wife of over fifty years. It could be the premiere of a mom’s new, separated life and broken family. For someone else, the occasion may signify the inaugural holiday since the diagnosis. Others scroll through life wishing for more. Some clutch tightly to the smiles they are fighting for.

Few get to celebrate a soul-filling love. Christ is all we need to live a full life, yet we seek satisfaction from our earthly relationships. We craft, build, counsel, seek, and pedestal-place our significant others and spouses where they are bound to fall. Where do we turn? How do we heal? Does God care about our broken hearts, tear-stains and cracked promises?

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A Prayer for Struggling Relationships

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Relationships remain imperfect because humanity is incapable of selfless love. Due to the fall in the garden of Eden, we are continually cursed with sin, keeping us from accomplishing correct communication with each other. Only one pair of feet have ever trod the earth in perfect obedience to God. Jesus came out of compassion for us. It’s through Him, that we can find victory in life, and our relationships. Not through perfection of our behavior, but through the perfect forgiveness and hope that His love grants us.

The very definition of ‘struggle’ is “to content with an adversary or opposing force.” We often pit the people on the other side of our relationships against ourselves. In addition to the disagreement at hand, we internally mull over all of the ways that we want them to treat us, and expect to be treated. We are set to a defensive default, but created to love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Jesus taught that this was the most important command. The NIV Notes on this verse say that “Jesus’ teaching united his followers around love.” Unity is the opposite of struggling opposition. There’s nothing we can do to force our relationships to work. But we can focus on Love.

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What is Love? -Meaning and Biblical Understanding of the Word.

“Live a life of love.” – Ephesians 5:2

“I’m not afraid anymore,” Kevin declared as he bounded triumphantly into the frostbit air with his newfound courage in the movie “Home Alone.” “Did you hear me? …I’m not afraid anymore!” In an instant, he found himself face-to-face with an entirely different fear than the one he had prepared to face, and took off screaming into his house.

How are we supposed to live out the words Paul penned to the Ephesians when there is a new fear, anxiety, pain, or problem lurking around every corner of our lives?

“There is no fear in love.” – 1 John 4:18 NIV

“God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Through Christ, we have access to His wisdom through the living Word of Scripture, providing us wisdom to live out a life of love over fear. Love is always bigger.

“Since we are His children, we must walk in His unconditional love. Love is more than just words; it requires action. God’s unconditional love should characterize our lives. As people who have His love living within us, we need to represent Christ’s authentic kindness and forgiveness to others.” -Dr. Charles Stanley, Life Prinicples BibleNotes

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The Cast Call (#jammed daily devo, day 357)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 357: Callbacks.

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 

The story of Christ’s birth tells of ordinary people who loved God, and ended up together DECJAM23on what would be the night that changed the face of the earth forever. Humanity …we long for benchmarks, standards, and qualifications. If we were in charge, the people that were picked to be Jesus’ earthly parents would not have been Mary and Joseph. They were ordinary. And Jesus would not have been born in a manger. That’s too simple …and not sanitary.

Humanity would have had Jesus born unto royalty and into a castle …not in a stable under the stars.

Tryouts. Auditions. We’re constantly having to live up to each others’ standards.

Jesus wasn’t worried about any of them. His appearance was common. His birth was common. His parents were common. Yet, the angels still lit the sky on the night He was born.

Someone once told me that no one else can tell my story. Human life is like that. It’s so intricate and unique, one to the next, that no one story is ever duplicated fully. If that’s not a miracle in and of itself …

We like to compare, thinking it will give us a certain amount of stability to know where we stand. But God knows us all. Loves us all. Jesus knew us all before we were born. Perhaps the greatest thing we can learn from Jesus’ arrival on earth is that greatness isn’t packaged the way we think it has to be. That a humble and quiet life is heard at the same volume as the loud and flashy ones.

click to tweet graph, dec jammed

Father, Praise You for Christ’s humble birth, and thank You for loving every person the same on this earth. Forgive us for seeking favoritism and elevation among others, and bless our hearts to receive and give Your authentic 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 Lane-Walking,

Megs

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The Dinner Scoops (#jammed daily devo, day 326)

November #jammed: Gracious.

Day 326: Thankful for ice cream.

“Listen to me, Jacob,
    Israel, whom I have called:
I am he;
I am the first and I am the last.” Isaiah 48:12

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” my husband asked my two daughters as the lake 326water dripped into their eyes.

“ICE CREAM FOR DINNER?!?!” they screeched.

A vacation time tradition, that’s just what we did. It’s not the healthiest habit in the world, but it’s seriously fun. Ice cream has it’s own budget when we go on vacation.

Today’s verse reminds us that we are called. We are God’s chosen ones. He is the Creator of all and has chosen us. Whether we eat ice cream for dinner on vacation is irrelevant in God’s eyes. But our joy is. Our joy matters to God. And if that means getting a double scoop in place of a healthy meal after a day at the beach, that’s OK.

This life tends to twist us up into too much worry over what we put into our bodies and are supposed to look like. It’s so important to take care of ourselves, but it’s also important to take care of our souls. The best way to do that, sometimes, is to let go of the twisting and turning and let Him bless us. With ice cream for dinner. With the sweet smiles of a couple of sandy kids that will remember that day full of smiles and sweets forever.

And through it, see a glimpse of our Father’s love.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for ice cream, and thank You for loving us so immensely and so perfectly. Help us to remember to bask in the joy of 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 Measuring,

Megs

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The Reading Glasses (#jammed daily devo, day 133)

May #jammed: Growing Grace.

Day 133:Unneeded.

“Do not withhold discipline from children.” Proverbs 23:13 (VOICE)

They are still a permanent part of my pen holder. During a season riddled with health image-133issues, I obtained a set of reading glasses to correct odd headaches. Looking at a screen through different lenses didn’t cure me like it had many others. The only solution that proved to work was stepping away from the screen. But I had work to do!

God gives us the perfect amount of time to live …each day. The discipline to listen to God as He guides us through life is essential in finding what works.

Today’s verse reminds us how important it is to discipline our children, and that corporal punishment is OK. This is something society is definitely not OK with. As with anything in life, we should prayerfully consider all things …including parenting. There isn’t one blanketed way that works for each child. Even children from the same household need to be seen differently when disciplinary measures are considered.

Look at each child through a different pair of glasses, as each one is unique. The heart of parental discipline is learned by taking the time and effort to know the children God has entrusted us with. He made our children. It would behove us to ask Him what is best on their account.

Sometimes, we just need to take a break from the screen. Walk away, no matter how pressing we think the issue is or how offensive their behavior was. Until God gives us a clear understanding on how to handle our children, and other disputes in life, it’s best to remain calm and silent in prayer.

Do not withhold discipline from children,
    since corporal punishment will not kill them.
 In fact, it may be that kind of punishment
    that will save them from an early grave.” Proverbs 23:13-14

I have discovered that a quick flick to the forehead zips my kids lips faster than any other method of silencing them. One flick. Nice and hard. To the middle of their foreheads. Shocked faces. Instant quiet. Pray hard into finding what works.

Ask Jesus for leading, and then listen to it. Look through His lenses for your life. He died for our misbehavior. Try to extend that grace in return.

jammed-click-to-tweetFather, Praise You for this verse, and thank You for our children. They challenge and grow us like none other! We confess our tempers and impatience regarding them, and ask for Your hand in guidance to discipline them in a way that leads them to Your feet. 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 Flicking,

Megs

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The Squid Hat (#jammed daily devo, day 40)

February #jammed: Dunked in Grace 

Day 40: Grace is more predictable than we think.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord,one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-post-image-40

Squeezed through rows of squishy plastic poop balls with eyes, rubbery octopus tentacle
finger puppets, shell necklaces of every unnatural color imaginable, and high powered fluorescents exposing the junk my kids love to collect, my eyes landed on the bottom shelf of hats.

“Look at these, girls!” I beckoned.

We rolled over laughing as one daughter suddenly appeared to have her head bitten off by a shark and the other turned into a squid with legs. It’s been my favorite thing to do since I can remember, laughing over the possibility of purchasing such nonsensical creations attached to the notion of , “who would buy this?”

Most of the time, I do. Marketers unite. Unearthing these little treasures in our house months later always ushers in the return of laughter and makes an unworthy purchase worth it all over again. This day would be no different.

 

Today’s verses bind us together. “One” is written seven times in these two verses. Seven, in the Bible, is the number of perfection. I love how the VOICE commentary adds to the tenderness of Paul’s plight in this text: “Paul encourages them to do whatever it takes to hold onto the unity that binds people together in peace.” 

One …body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism …

All of these things have nothing to do with what our hands are capable of creating.

“…one God and Father is over all and through all and in all.”

Jesus lives. Jesus unifies. A heart home to Him holds the key to unity. A walk behind the trail of His earthly sandals leads us to the peace God longs for all of us to reach.

 “..that unity is founded on God’s oneness and work in the world.” (VOICE)

Whether you rock a squid hat or just laugh at the girl who does, we all have something uniquely special that unites us in His name.

jammed-tweet-blueFather, Praise You for the unique way You created all of us. Thank You for grace, and the way it  washes over us.. Forgive us for mocking those whom You created and help us to live in unity. Bless us with peaceful, Christ-like hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

What’s the wackiest souvenir you’ve ever brought back from vacation? Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Souvenir-ing,

Megs

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The Silver Spray

February #jammed: Dunked in Grace 

Day 33:  It’s Ferocity is Graceful.

“The world does not recognize the Spirit of truth, because it does not know the Spirit and is unable to receive Him. But you do know the Spirit because He lives with you, and He will dwell in you.” John 14:17 (VOICE)post-image-33

“Open the window, Daddy!” My Northern Ohio girl beckoned.

The warm tropical air permeated our pale winter faces for a few balmy moments before  a cold front blew our coats back on.

That day we watched two people marry, to the backdrop of crashing waves. The whipping North wind blew the crests of the waves before they could curl back into the sea, sending a silver spray into the sky as the sun made it’s way through gray.

“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” the groom smiled, as we all shivered on the Southern shore.

True love is a miracle to witness, and it really doesn’t matter what the weather outside is like, because in our hearts ..in that moment …gravity shifts for eternity.

Today’s verse personifies that feeling every couple celebrates as they walk back down the aisle together, and every parent feels when they hold their first child for the first time. Unspeakable love. Unexplainable love. Love that isn’t seen, heard or noticed until it suddenly consumes our minds, hearts, and souls. We crave that love and remiss to part from it.

When we accept Christ as our Savior, we usher in an uncontainable love that lives in our hearts forevermore. We crave His presence because it satisfies our soul. “The world does not recognize it,” but it’s moving through the earth like wildfire.

jammed-tweet-blueFather, Praise You for loving us perfectly. In our search for perfection and achievement on this earth, it is only Jesus that can show us the true meaning of our toiling. Thank you for creating us with hearts capable of such a huge capacity to love, and yet …Your love is infinitely greater! It’s hard to imagine, but wonderful to experience. Forgive us for running from your presence, and denying the only One who can illuminate purpose in our lives.  We pray today that Jesus would come into our hearts and camp out there forever. Send Your Spirit to move our hearts and open Your Word to experience Your love for us on a heavenly level. In Jesus Name, Amen.

When do you most feel the love of Christ? Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Loving,

Megs

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