The Impossibly Cold Cup

“a time to laugh …” Ecclesiastes 3:4bpost-image-55

Have you seen these cups that claim to keep things cold for hours? It’s fascinating. How can an ice cube stay an ice cube in ninety degree heat for such an extended amount of time? It seems impossible. It makes me laugh at how fascinating these simple things can be to me!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 states the many different seasons of life, and laughter is included. God created laughter. He is the master of sarcasm, as evident in Old Testament Stories and New Testament Parables. Our innate sense of humor and craving for a good reason to smile comes from our good Father.

He created the entire universe in six days, and then rested for one.

He created time yet holds the ability to stretch our minutes.

He flooded the whole earth and destroyed everything, but left one arc untouched.

He spoke to Moses through a burning bush.

He made Joshua march around Jericho once a day for six days before the walls came down on the seventh.

Jesus set up scenes and solve problems in a way that would make us remember. We’re still reading them to this day.

He fed thousands of people with a few fish and some bread loaves.

He healed a woman who touched His robe as He passed by to heal someone else.

His best friends sat at the cafeteria table everyone else is afraid to walk by.

He walked just about everywhere He went, but then rode into town on a donkey …

He washed his friends’ feet.

He almost sunk his friends’ boat with a huge catch of fish.

Why does all of this make me smile? Laugh, even? Certainly not out of disrespect or ill-intended sarcasm as we have grown so accustomed to in our society. No, this humor is born out of love and intentionality. God purposefully places people and circumstances to encourage our smiles …our laughs. With God, there is no coincidence. No impossibility. He is sovereign. There is definitely no coincidence in soveriegnty.

Jesus wasted no parables with the minutes He chose to spend on earth. We only have access to what was written down about Jesus. I like to imagine what other kinds of things He did that we’re not privy to. Jesus is a fun guy. Heaven with Him is going to be a blast.

jammed-tweet-blueIt makes a really cold cup seem like a simple accomplishment. We are created in His image, wired to accomplish the impossible. And with great faith and a Savior like Jesus, who can stop us? Each created for a specific purpose, let’s not forget to revel in the humor of our Father along the way. And marvel at the simple joys and impossibilities …like un-melting ice!

Father, Praise You for happiness and laughter alongside our awe for You! Thank You for lacing lightheartedness into miraculous wonders. We confess that we think humor is our thing …and often use it inappropriately. Bless our innate craving to laugh to be for Your glory, and never at another’s expense. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Happy Laughing,

Megs

This post was originally a part of the #jammed Daily Devotional Series from February, Dunked in Grace, Day 55: Grace outlasts the heat.

Throwback Update …

When I look back and read some of these devotional entries, I smile at the growth God has led me through since! The more I grow in my faith, and the closer I become to my Creator, the more I realize that His love is a joy-filled wisdom filter over every Instagram-able moment. I realize it’s no coincidence when I stumble upon a happy moment or a bust a gut laughing.

So often we are focused on the big things -good and bad – when we direct our attention to God. But the truth is, He’s in all the little moments of our lives, too. He cares so immensely for each one of us. When we realize how great His love is, it causes us to see things from a different, joy-filled perspective. Joy, that through ups and downs, sustains our strength. Moments of laughter that meet us in impossibly hard circumstances. What a journey …

Happy Laughing …

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The “Yes” Shoes

imageHe will straighten our stride, in His time, when we lace up our “yes” shoes.

It seems my daughter thinks her shoes will magically jump onto her feet if she stares at them long enough. When they don’t, her shoes fly over the foyer in frustration. And, oh …the agony …when a pair no longer fit.

“Lo, stand up so I can zip them up,” I stammered in frustration.

“I AM,” she yelled and convulsed, convinced my help was overkill.

“Push your foot down harder,” I ordered. Her boots were swimmingly large mere “mommy” moments ago, but now needed to be pushed on.

“OK, let’s do the other one…”

Expanding feet shift goals. They also outgrow shoes.  image

Growth is predictably unpredictable, and keeping goals in stride with a shifting destination is hard. Has your finish line ever moved as you were about to break the ribbon? Here’s what I learned from my missed marathon and mommy moments.

Shoes too small.

A complete year off running didn’t yield a healed Achilles heal. There are moments I’d go back in time and risk a complete tear to line up at the start of my first full marathon.

God swapped my shoes regardless of my readiness to understand why.

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated with soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 (NIV)

I ran through snow, wind and ice …in shoes a complete size too small. A simple fix the runners at the running shoe store would have told me had I went there to be fitted for the right shoes before logging hundreds of miles.

Sometimes, we pray into God-sized goals. He wants us to dream big, and will bless our ambition to pursue, for His glory, the passions He’s laid in us.

imageProperly prepared with the right pair of shoes, the impact is absorbed efficiently and the weight is distributed properly. Experienced runners know injury arises from a misaligned stride, often corrected by a shoe fit to guide feet as they strike the ground.

God does this for us. Through Christ, we capture the key to a corrected stride. God’s love is giant. He found a way to fit us for freedom. Jesus absorbs the impact and distributes the weight. To maximize each stride, we must stick by His side.

In addition to personal conversation in prayer with God, He seeks to speak specifically through His Word. Dig beyond devotionals, follow side-trails, and chase after characters. The pull to know why and the curiosity to question fit our feet for training.

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Hebrews 8:13 (above) speaks to us about outdated goals. About Old Testament customs and traditions no longer necessary because of the gap Jesus filled.

We naturally replace what is obsolete. Anyone that lived through the 80’s can define “outdated.” Remnants of style may return redefined, but are fit for the “now.”

365 days ago, I took my running shoes off. I’ve been striding and striving everywhere but the road, tired and frustrated. God grew my feet before my shoes were fit to comprehend the change. The healing I prayed for came laced in lesson. I thought the goal was the marathon. He knew it was time to sit down …and write.

Every time I load the trunk up with bags of shoes that are too small for my kids, I feel ill-equipped to replace them all. I’m not even sure what size to buy, what they will need, or if they will like them. Clearly, I need help with my own shoe size…

imageWe may have to adjust, grow, and shift …learn new patterns, drift in new waters, pursue new passions, open different doors, and stand on new stages. But Jesus picked us to fit where we fly.image

My identity in my daughter’s eyes is still “runner,” and she misses it just as much as I do. Her note is the nudge I’ve been waiting for. Could it be possible, that time spent obeying the development of one passion could be rewarded with the return of another? On this day, number 366 since the last time I laced up my running shoes, I believe His answer is “yes.” Fit in His shoes, the weight of many passions is bearable and possible. Today, I began to run again.

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God pauses passions to add in complimenting attributes to the fabric of our stories. Chapters and pages we might have edited out, or never written, yet essential to who we are in Him.

Whether you’re training for a marathon, building houses, crunching numbers, or digging through a mountain of laundry …ask Jesus to adjust the fit. Children discover their passions by watching us let Him fit us to ours.

Jesus ushered in a new era. Life isn’t a Browns draft failing to produce a quarterback yearimage after year. (As a hometown Clevelander and life-long Browns fan, I’m allowed to say that.) Sit down, and let Him fit your feet.

Happy Strides,

Megs

And now …

As I read this reminiscent post today, I am rolling the balls of my feet on golf ball to treat a case of plantar fasciitis that has all but crippled me to a chair for a while. I did return to running, and completed my first half-marathon last fall. I ran the entire 13.1 miles with a smile on my face and praise music in my ears. I don’t NEED running to feel complete anymore. Now, it’s a gift I get to enjoy when I can … The injuries will continue to come, but working through them reminds me of my pursuit of Christ. It’s not always easy, but worth every stride. I did obediently sit down to write after I had no choice and nothing else left to do but to. Thus is God’s patience with me. My first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is out in the world, and the second is on the way …The greatest joy of this journey are the moments of connectivity with my Father as I write. The heart strings pulled gently into tune by my Savior. It’s a thrill I’ll shelve my running shoes for, anytime He calls me to (and I love that He allows injury to see to it I’ll actually do it!) 

The Driftwood

“MOM!” I could tell Lo was annoyed before I laid eyes on her “scrunchy-face.”
“Daddy is counting wrong to vacation,” she huffed.

Her daddy might actually be counting right, but it’s not the way I count. Once the day is here, I don’t count it. And, I don’t count the first day of vacation as a day left to wait. Hence, if today is Monday and we leave on Friday …3 days left until vacation. My husband likes to practically add in days, which may make sense to a mathematical mind, but I’m just trying to get through this Ohio winter as fast as I can and make it to Florida to thaw out.

“Yep, Daddy is counting wrong …I know, Lo.” I agree. Well, I’m not going to lie to her. That’s the way I count.

imageWalking the pier after I dropped scrunchy-face off at school that morning, I was reminded by the dull backdrop how anxious I was to get to the gulf. Before I wrapped up my work to relax, a river full of driftwood ironically pieced together the “driftwood” blog that had been floating in between my ears.

The river isn’t always filled with driftwood, and on this particular day it flowed out towards the lake. I feel like a piece of that wood, bobbing up and down a midst the muck, debris, and litter …but at least I’m floating. At least I’m drifting. At least I’m flowing in with the current. I could be stuck up river muddled into the beaver’s damn …or taken up to the top of the tree to wield the eagles’s nest. Not a bad view from up there, I’d imagine, but it’s not mine. I’m out on the water …drifting…

The clear view of muddy water is telling. It’s not a “pretty blue lake meets the powder blue skyline,” but He’s still here.

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I’m settling into my silent, “kids at school” days. Though the toddler years were loud, they were quieter. I was much less adrift with the day’s routine …confident in my calling to “stay home.”

Now, I’m drifting in the middle. It’s no coincidence that I’m drifting along in this juncture while a literal river of driftwood flows beside me. God sees my struggle. He picks up on my optimism and He feels my faith. I love how personally funny He is with me and my excessive tendency to drift. Hence, all the driftwood.

Drift, per Google, is: “To be carried away slowly by a current of air or water. Move passively, aimlessly or involuntarily into a certain situation or condition. (Of a person or their attention) digress or stray to another subject. (Especially of snow or leaves) be blown into heaps by the wind.”

imageTotal drifter. Right here. Waving my hand high in the air. In fact, if dogs really do reflect their owners, I’m embarrassed by how easily distracted mine is by leaves.

I love it when people say they are driven to a fault. Really? What’s that like? Am I the only one who has no idea what that feels like? I live exactly how I race …at my own pace. And my pace sucks. I start out fast, die in the middle, and sprint the end. I absolutely cannot pace myself.

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I was relieved, when training my puppy, that it was a good thing to stay one step ahead while walking the dog …everyone else complains. I have to be one step ahead. Until race day. Then then I spaz out completely and lose all sense of strategy.

It took me until my thirties to figure out that it was a lot more fun to start at the back of the pack and pass everyone during the race than to sprint out ahead and be passed by everyone.

Thirty years.

That’s some learning curve. Not for lack of good influences, either. I’ve had some of the best coaches and inspirational teammates any athlete could ever dream of being around. But I drift. I’m too busy laughing …talking …friend-ing …socializing …drifting …to ever realize my full potential at anything.

Insert hopeless “Aw.”
No, don’t. I’ve got God for that. And He gave me a nifty little acronym I think you’re going to like.

Don’t wReck It For Timmy.

Let’s be real, we all drift a little. Some a lot. Some worthy of a title. When you find yourself drifting on the river, just make sure you’re flowing with the right current.

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“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me- body, emotions, mind, and will- every part of who I am praise His Holy Name.” Psalm 103:1

“Don’t” drown, just drift. If I fall into the water and panic, I’ll most certainly start to sink. But, if I calmly curl up into a ball, I eventually float back to the surface. When I catch myself out in the left field of my life, I stop and re-calibrate. Normally, I process life through my gift to run, but I’ve been injured for a year. I had to improvise by blasting my favorite worship songs with a hairbrush microphone and awesome dance moves that only my bathroom mirror knows about …or I just walk the pier and admire the scenery. Find your thing. God’s there. He gave it to you.

“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal; sing a song from a greatly heart; sing and never forget all the good He has done.” Psalm 103:2

“Wreck.” That’s what happens if I choose to speed through a yellow light. Maybe not every time, but it’s a heck of risk I”m taking. The drift is the warning. The chance to regroup before I wreck. God knit a sense of right and wrong into us, but He didn’t choose all of the right answers for us. We have to slow down and pay attention to what we’re doing or we’ll crash. In the pause of the drift, I pray a lot. I slow up and search through His Word for answers and arrows.

“Despite all your many offenses, He forgives and releases you. More than any doctor, He heals your diseases.” Psalm 103:3

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“It.” What is “it?”

Are you sick? Hurt? Depressed? Mad? Bitter? Confused? Lost?
Our Savior knows suffering. “It” happened to Him as He died on the cross for all of our “it’s.” He is the reason why we’re still bobbing up and down on the river. He’s hope.

I’ve literally been healed from disease, but cannot recover from tendinitis. Who knows why some pieces of wood drift longer than others. As I spend more time in the current learning more about Him, I rest in knowing His ways are superior to mine.

‘For’ God’s sake.” There’s a lot of casual “God” catch phrases. I’m not a fan of any, but swearing isn’t a struggle of mine …

“He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death. He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king.” Psalm 103:4

Perfect people don’t exist. We all suck at something. I fail big and fall a lot. Quite literally, I fall a lot …over my own shoe laces …it’s embarrassing…

Recognize the struggle behind the smiles. I put them up all over Facebook. Smiles. Smiles. Smiles. I’m grateful to God for them all. I want the world to know how good God is to me, even though I spend most of my life drifting out in giggly la-la-land. Behind each one of those smiles I post is a struggle. A hard day overcome. A difficult disease healed. A painful loss, but life moving forward. Optimism. Faith. Trust. In God’s flow, perfection isn’t required to be pulled from the pit. He is patient to let us get up and try again. 

“Timmy” is slowly becoming one of my favorite characters in the Bible. 2Timothy 1:5 tells imagehow Timothy learned his Christian Faith from his mother and grandmother. The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters describes him as “somewhat diffident and lacking in self-confidence, so he needed reassurance and support from mature Christian people.” 

#relate. I feel relieved that if Timothy needed encouragement, the talent to motivate exists among us because we aren’t all confident all the time, even if we’re able. Where did his doubt come from? Maybe the lack of religious leadership from his father. He was Greek, and his mother was a Jewish believer. Old school Bible “mixed” family.

Timothy preached with Paul and Silas. Paul, the apostle Paul, wrote him letters to encourage him. I believe the root of faith that his mother and grandmother passed down to him coupled with Paul’s encouraging friendship helped him press on to preach the gospel, despite struggling with his health along the way.

“When our soul is famished and withering, He fills you with good and beautiful things, satisfying you as long as you live. He makes you strong like an eagle, restoring your youth.” Psalm 103:5

Don’t Wreck It For Timmy. Drifters, drift. Just make sure you’re flowing in God’s current. Parents and Grandparents, don’t give up. I feel it, too. My kids bother me a lot. Just keep loving on them. You’re rooting them in faith just like Timothy’s family did. Friends, keep listening …keep encouraging …keep sharpening each other. Be Paul to someone, and let someone be Paul to you.

Even if you’re not prone to drift as much as I am, you’ll be bobbing in the river sometime. Don’t panic. Just stop, float, and re-calibrate. We’re not going to be perfect, but we’re not going to sink to the bottom, either. Not with Christ. We must keep confessing our sin, and trying to get better a little bit at a time, all of the time.

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It’s important to see the struggle behind the smiles. Optimism is just that, isn’t it? There’s a struggle going on, a fight. Optimism is a silver lining view. It’s faith. It’s praise, appreciation and trust. Trust in the flow of the river. Trust in God’s flow…His plan.

Happy drifting,

Megs

The Friend Book

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The fog cast an erie lure of anxiety over the pier. It had enveloped the lighthouse, and I checked my footprints to make sure I hadn’t drifted off the pavement to the glazed-over river. I trekked on, trusting it was still out there beyond the mist. A wispy top-layer of snow revealed one single set of down and back footprints. All alone … I threw my arms up and let started to dance-walk to the new album I couldn’t stop listening to.

My quest to “be me” occasionally feels akin to walking down the pier in thick fog. I lose sight of what I know is there. God always has a way of breaking through the thickness with a shard of light. Many times, that glint of hope comes in the form of a friend.

There has been a book about friendship spinning around in my head for many years. Perhaps it circulates because I have never quite found an author that has addressed my trademark quest to “be friends with everyone.” I believe when God asks me to write about something, He has a lesson for me to learn and a story someone needs to hear. Research and reading unravel answers, but sometimes God uses people to pull it all together.

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Making a new friend, or approaching a new season with an established one, takes a slow walk in humility. John 15:9 instructs us to “remain in His love,” and snap judgements and circles of gossip definitely lie outside of it. Walk in prayerful consideration to stop and think before saying or doing anything that could hurt another soul, especially one that is akin to your friendship; but without disregard for a sweet one you may be squashing before it’s given the opportunity to sprout buds and grow.

imageThat foggy pier walk rekindled a revelation I’d had years back as a young runner. Comparing the trace of my tracks in the snow, one set revealed a wisp on the tail of my heal where I had drug my feet. The other set, after I noticed and corrected the problem, was nice and clean. Dragging feet cause runners overuse injuries from this mark of improper form. In my friendships, I’ve been challenged to peer into the past before before moving forward.

Don’t fear forgiveness …the asking or the receiving of it. You may open the door of relief for someone who needs to unload the burden of imperfections that they carry. We all carry them. “We all fall short.” (Romans 3:23) So, have mercy.

I picked up a cross necklace a few years back when I needed a constant visual reminder Jesus was with me no matter how tight the drama in my life was wound. The first time I put it on, I noticed an inscription on the back. “Be the change.” As a new coach implementing lots of changes, I took it as a sign I was running in pace with God’s plan. Really, it just meant to be me through the change.

Kindness can mean everything to someone living in a moment in which everything is crumbling. When my kids come to me annoyed with a classmate, the sting of past experience flares to the surface.

“There’s always something good you can find about a person,” I teach them, “Find it, and focus on that.”

Focus on the light beyond the fog.

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Friends defy definition. Church friends, Bible study friends, high school and college friends, teammates, family, bloggers, work peers, neighbors and far away friends, Facebook friends, and authors who write words that resonate so much with our hearts that they feel like friends …and church that can feel like home even though it’s several states away from our actual homes.

I believe friends populate our lives because we were never created to walk out life’s lesson alone. We are the church. Set here to love the people in our lives. Jesus is the perfect definition of friendship. And because of Him we can go to our Great God in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). We weren’t meant to be alone. We can reach out to friends He’s placed in our lives to allow their light alongside ours to pierce through the fog.

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Throwback Update:

Wow! Reading this reminded me how afraid I was to tell my story …worried that no one would be able to relate. The original post was the framework for a review of “The Gift of Friendship,” by Dawn Camp. I highly recommend it. Her words and the collective stories contributed to it came alongside me when I need to know that I was not alone.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned while writing my own book on friendship, “Friends with Everyone,” is to let go of fear and trust God’s timing and purpose for my story. Of course someone needs to read it. You know what?! I needed to read it! We are all placed in each others lives, purposefully, by a God who isn’t in the business of coincidence. Stay tuned for my next release …”Surface.”

Click here for a copy of “The Gift of Friendship,” by Dawn Camp.

Click here to grab your copy of Friends with Everyone …and Happy Reading!!!

Megs

The Wake Up Call

Waking kids up in the morning is a pain in the you-know-what.

I NEVER woke my kids up when they were babies.  Three-hour naps twice a day?  Fine.  Go for it.  Sleep all you want.  All parents’ instinct is this.  Why?  Because all parents learn very quickly that a baby, toddler, kid of any age, who is overtired …is like dealing with an insane person.  Little bodies go limp and start flailing to the ground, tears stream down worn-out faces, nerves fry at all ends, and they fall down.  Literally.

This is the first summer since my kids don’t have to wake up to come with me to coach Cross Country practice. Instead of packing breakfast to-go I am watering my plants and enjoying my cup of coffee.  There is a big, quiet, gap in my summer mornings.

My oldest daughter, Brianne, though totally in love with “the runners” was the first to raise her hand at the family meeting when repeating the grueling schedule of the previous fall was discussed.  “Too busy,  TOO busy.” was her “two” sense.  And she was absolutely right.  Coupled with the diagnosis of my auto immune disease, my husbands long work hours, and my parents permanent move from down the street to South Florida …it was time to take a step back.

Brianne, now six, has loved every minute of having no agenda.  Her rise and shine time drifts longer into each day.  All-day Kindergarten was brutal on her.  I see pure joy in her face as she slowly meanders down the stairs in the morning and rolls onto the couch to watch a movie.  

Little Lo, now four, has only gotten half the memo.  She still bounces into my room somewhere between 5am and 7am in the morning to snuggle, and follows me around my morning routine.

“Momma, I want hot chocolate.” she will sleepily request.  Hot chocolate and the Disney Channel …that’s how Lo rolls for the first few hours of the day.

One morning, the Cross Country team stopped by our house, and through a lump in my throat I watched Brianne remember …and witnessed her love for the whole scene rekindle right there on the spot. “The runners” waved every time they run by.  It motivated my little girl, who has literally grown up around and thinks distance runners are the coolest people on the planet.  (Which they are …I mean, duh.)

“Mom, if I get up and get ready can I run with you in the morning?” she asked.  After all the “wondering what my kids are going to be passionate about,” I somehow knew early on running would eventually be it for her.

The first day she slept through our run, but I gave her my GPS and challenged her to see how many times around the yard add up to a mile. The answer is 10, and she happily ran for 1.57 miles. The next day Brianne made it up and out the door on time and we ran a mile and a half.  She talked the ENTIRE way …and she cut me off …a lot!  My old teammates would die of laughter if they could see it! Day three in a row, we ran 1.75 miles, ending at the lake, my favorite morning spot to take a picture.  

A lot of things have changed over the past year.  My body is in pain all the time from my battle with AS. Running just isn’t as healing as is used to be. My parents have moved away, making my everyday life is drastically different without them.

“Mom, you know what?” Brianne asked, while running, of course.

“What, Brianne?” I responded.

“I’m really glad I have a mommy like you who is a coach, ” as she looked up at me and smiled.

“But I’m not a coach anymore, Brianne,” I replied.

“Oh, yes you are, Mommy.  Except now, you get to just coach me and Lo Lo.  You’re little runners.” she explained.

Be still my heart.

“Yes, yes I can, Bri Bri Girl.  You really love to run, don’t you?” I asked.

“Yep.” she nodded.

“Awesome.” I told her.

Happy Summer Mornings….

Megs

And now …May 22, 2019.

It’s good to look back and remember God’s hand on our lives …to remember His answered prayers and miraculous healings. In the grand scope of our memories, lie some of the answers to our next steps. Today, I needed to remember this painful season in life. The joy I have in Christ remained through it all. He blessed me with sweet moments of motherhood and miraculously healed my disease. Jesus relieved my physical pain and healed my heart. 

I needed to remember my little runners, who are now growing up to be their own people. Brianne joined running club, this year, forgoing sleep to get there before school starts. She’s been so committed to dance over the last five years, I wondered if she would see it through. After the first day, she came running in the door …

“Mom!” she said, “all of my friends sprinted out in front of me at the beginning, but by the end I ran out of people to pass except for a couple of boys!” To see her rediscover the passion I could see so early in her life, all on her own, healed my doubts as a mom. We all have them. Doubts, fears, and decisions affecting our kids that don’t wait on assurance. 

“Mom!” she came flying in after another running club day, “I was second today! Just one boy beat me!” I will not be able to contain myself if she ends up being a competitive distance runner. No matter what she does, I needed to remember that though my influence in important, I am not the author of her passions. She will find them on their own. God will draw her to Him, just like He did me, and she will experience the full life of following Christ. I needed to remember that, today. Motherhood is so hard. But oh …we have a God who is so good.