Monday, August 21, 2017

Savor

"I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness." John 10:9-10

The hubs and I started watching a new show on Netflix. The wife in the show is pretty miserable the majority of the time. To some extent, I can't blame her. She's been through the ringer. However, she is so despondent all of the entire time that I may need to throw in the towel.

If I look out my door through a certain lens, I may see something similar in people: misery. It seems people are angrier, fussier, worried more, downtrodden, full of fear and anxiety these days. We tend to hear, "life is hard," more often than, "life is good." So, when life is going great in your neck of the woods, it may be difficult to enjoy it. Just me? Maybe I am alone in this.

I went to look out the window and saw my husband and dog in the pool. One child was at a friend's for the morning and the other two went to a neighbor's house. It was so odd being home with the hubs with no kids. I thought I could complete my to-do list or join my hubs in the pool. I quickly changed into my bathing suit and plopped myself down on the lounger. I looked around and contemplated life.

Life is good right now. The kids are at a good age. They are independent and fun. I enjoy my husband. Why, then, am I struggling to enjoy this life?

I think it is difficult to see and appreciate what is right in front of us sometimes. We are too busy focusing on what's coming next: our future dreams, hopes, and projects. Or, we are distracted by the sadness of friends, family, or the world at hand. Life is hard. But life is also good.

I sat on my mermaid float talking to my husband about our dreams and visions for our life together. We laid in the pool, kids happily playing with friends, music playing in the background and I savored that moment. It was so good. Good for my soul. Good for my heart. Good for my head-space.

That Saturday morning I decided I would be more aware of and savor the good moments. I would fill the pockets of my heart and soul with the blessings of the good times so that when those hard times come, I've got something to lean into.

I don't know about you, but I am tired of the rhetoric. Life has gotten so bad. Everybody hates everybody. Life is a struggle. Life is hard. Life isn't to be enjoyed but persevered. Ugh. No more.

I want to savor the good. I've got a millisecond of life to live on this planet and I want to enjoy it. All of it: the good and the bad. When life is good, I want to breath in deep smelling that familiar scent of all my hopes and dreams coming together. I don't want to relish in the bad. I refuse to pitch a tent in fear and loathing. Instead, I will savor the moments. For life is really about tiny little moments.

I give us all permission to savor the goodness today. Savor the excitement of the first day of school. Savor the moment of quiet you get when you walk back in the house and it's silent. Savor the excitement of your kids as they get off the bus and see you after a day of being away. Savor the carpooling from one practice to the next. Savor the conversation around the dinner table. Savor the bedtime kisses and the feeling of exhaustion as you crawl into bed. Savor the text messages from friends and that first sip of coffee.

Life is good. It's about time we start living that way.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, August 19, 2017

IKEA Furniture & a Bible

I set all the pieces out in an organized fashion. I pulled at the infamous allen wrench that IKEA offers to put anything and everything together. Allen wrenches are the duct tape of IKEA: they can fix anything. So, there I sat with all my piles of pieces and then I opened my Bible for the directions.

Say what?!?!

Who would open their Bible to find directions for a piece of furniture from IKEA? I feel like this is life right now. With all its chaos and racism and craziness, I feel like I am trying to put together a piece of furniture from IKEA using directions from my Bible.

I want to beat my head against the wall. I want to throw all the pieces in the air and walk away. I want to give up. I want to yell. I am immensely frustrated while deeply committed to figuring it all out. But, the directions don't match the situation.

As Christians, we believe we should be able to open our Bibles and have all the answers. Unfortunately, God doesn't always work that way. Yes, the Bible is a road map. Story after story teaches us how to do things in a way that can elicit peace and it definitely teaches us how not to do things. I believe God allows space for us to figure it out: to make mistakes and do the wrong thing in order to learn, guide us, and grow deeper in our faith.

Oftentimes, our Bibles will not have the black and white answers for our predicaments. We don't always need the answers. We just need the love.

We are trying to put an IKEA desk together using directions from the Bible and it's not working. We need to gather our piles and listen to our friends and neighbors setting down the allen wrench. It is NOT our job to fix everything. Let me say that again, it is not our job to fix it. It is our job, however, to love.

While Jesus did perform many miracles (see: raising Lazarus from the dead), he didn't walk into every situation and fix it or put it back together. Instead, he led people to discovery. He helped open their eyes to see another side of things. He guided them to view life in a completely different way.

I think that's what we are missing these days. We are so quick to pick up that allen wrench and put things back together and that's not what's needed at the moment.

If you've ever put a piece of IKEA furniture together, you know the directions are laid out quite simply. Well, they are typically clear as mud, but, for the most part, they consist of very few words and pictures. I guess IKEA knows we are all kindergartners when it comes to putting something together. What if our current situation, the current state of our country, while immensely complicated can move towards reconciliation and healing in a simple way? I deeply believe we can and it all starts with love and listening.

We don't need to slam down a huge book of directions. We can set our allen wrenches down and stop trying to solve all the world's problems. Instead, we can pick up our hearts and open our ears to love and listen to our neighbors. We share this world. We don't stay in neatly organized piles of pieces forever. That doesn't make great furniture. Instead, all the pieces have to come together in order to create something useful.

Set down your allen wrench. Mix up your beautifully organized piles. Stop forcing the directions to match the project and just love. Listen and love. Give more grace than you can fathom because its necessary remembering you need just as much grace as the one you despise.

This world is a mess. It's difficult to understand just like the directions from IKEA. But, you have all you need right inside of you. Start with love. Start with listening and the directions will follow...naturally.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Voice

Some of the best advice I have ever heard is: No one can say what you have to say the way you say it.

We all have a voice. We all have something to say; something to offer this great, big, wide world. This place needs to hear your voice. You may express it through music, singing, writing, vlogging, posting pictures, taking pictures, painting, speaking, working in the corporate world, working in the home. We all were designed to share our voice. It's in our wiring; our DNA. You are a creative whether you recognize it or not.

It's taken me almost 40 years to find my voice. It has taken me a very long time to find comfort and confidence in my voice. I had to watch a lot of people do what I wanted to do until I finally decided to get off the sidelines and jump into the game.

I watch and follow a few moms that have made careers out of their social media platforms. Their messages are all very similar: every day moms surviving the mess of motherhood and having a good laugh along the way. They all deliver the same message: one of kindness and love and not taking oneself too seriously. However, they are all very different. Essentially, they are all saying the same thing but what they have to say sounds very different the way they say it.

It would be easy for these women to pack their bags and head back to their ordinary lives. They could simply say to themselves,"Someone else cornered this market. The world doesn't need me."

Oh, but we do.

I get so much out of these ladies. And what I get is different from each of them. Some help me love my children better and help me create a more peaceful space in our home. Another one helps me to chill out a bit and not take myself so serious all the time. Others help me love my husband more. While yet another helps me be a little more fashionable. They all add something to my every day ordinary life. And for that, I am truly grateful that these ladies didn't walk away from having their voice heard because someone else was doing it.

You never know whose life you are going to touch by stepping out and doing that thing that makes your palms sweaty. You don't know who out there needs you and needs to hear your voice.

I needed to hear someone's voice the other day. She found her method a few years ago through the art of photography. To say her work is extraordinary is an understatement. She is a brilliant photographer and blesses the world with her images; especially families. This day, though, her voice came spoken to me and over me. She filled my soul, challenged me, and helped me believe in myself and my next journey just by speaking about the journey she traveled to find her place in her dreams fulfilled. That moment on the square of the little town just to the north was such nourishment for me even though we were sweating like beasts in the oppressive August heat that Texas provides. She spoke life into me and I am forever grateful and indebted to her.

You have a voice. There is something inside you that needs to be shared with the world. Your corner may garner two people you encourage or you may find yourself with a million followers on Twitter. It really doesn't matter. At the end of the day, what is certain is that you saying what you have to say the way you have to say it mattered to someone else.

This is how we heal.
This is how we love.
This is how we unify a divided world.

So, get out there. Show the world your voice. Say what you need to say the way you were created to say it.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Tribe

"Life was not meant to be lived alone. Life was meant to be shared." Surly the squirrel, The Nut Job


Got the boys off to their first day of school. Had my gym clothes on and water bottle filled; to-do list in my hand. Picked up my phone only to receive a text the moment I placed it in my hand.

"Happy first day of school! Y'all want to meet for breakfast/coffee or lunch today?!...to celebrate, Lol" (all the praise hands)

The text responses came in. Everyone could meet. I hadn't responded yet. I wanted to meet my friends. I also wanted to relish in my freedom working out and running errands sans kiddos. I knew in my heart that I needed my friends; especially today.

I walked into the coffee shop and was greeted with a hug, card, and flowers. My tribe is good, y'all. These women knew I needed a little TLC given the fact that my eldest just walked into his first day of middle school. My heart and my mind were in so many places. I needed my friends to ground me and I needed to let them love on me.

I wrote a post a few blogs back about how I was going to be better about letting people in and letting them love on me. That's a struggle for me. I have come to realize that I really need my friends; my tribe. I need women that are going to journey alongside me loving me with an exuberant amount of grace and the ability to speak truth into my life in love when necessary. I got both early Monday morning.

My tribe. It's good. It's wide and deep but not over-complicated. There's room for differing opinions and ways of living as we try and figure out this road we are all traveling on. My tribe has ebbed and flowed as all friend groups do. Some have come and gone and some have stayed for the long haul each having a unique and special place in my life.

Life is meant to be shared. As I watched my boys head off to their schools, my main prayer is about their village: the people they surround themselves with and how they treat others. The people in our lives have a huge impact on who we are and we can have a huge impact on who they are as well.

I usually shy away from hot topics. I mean, I talk religion, but don't get too crazy. But, I think this is the space to talk a little bit about what is happening in our little corner of the world for a second. I won't even try to tell of a solution for the deep routed problems in our country. There is so much pain and hurt that I just cannot try and understand. I can, however, find a way to be a part of the solution: an unearthing of ways to truly change the world for the better for our children and it all starts with your tribe.

Who you surround yourself with matters. How you treat those around you matters. People matter. And our children are watching our every move. What is our reaction when a friend texts and wants to meet for coffee? Do we sigh and go begrudgingly? Or, do we show our children that even though are schedules are jam-packed, people still matter? I honestly believe that the way we treat the people closest to us and how we allow them into our lives matters and can truly change the trajectory of the world around us. It may sound minuscule in comparison to the deep-routed hurts people are facing but, I whole-heartedly believe that most solutions start with the small things.

I have a really good tribe. My people love me well and don't even know it. My prayer is that I let them in to love and serve me in my life and that I do the same for them. I pray my boys witness me (and my husband) serving and loving our village well observing what it means to truly love others above yourself. I pray that we share this life with others.

I will leave y'all with one of my favorite verses. I will never get tired of writing these words.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rejection: All the Fears

I thought I was okay with rejection. I really did. I usually can take a harsh word or being eliminated from things or groups. Ya, it hurts. But, I typically can get over things fairly quick. And then my husband entered the equation.

A few weeks ago I found an opportunity to get another master's degree; an opportunity that seemed to fit our family and my schedule perfectly. I have talked about getting this degree since my early twenties. It's about time I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I called my husband while I was filling out the application because I needed some information he had and I didn't. He was traveling home from being out of town for a few days so when I asked for the info, I kind of shocked him with my new venture.

He got home shortly after our phone conversation and plopped down next to me on the love seat in my office. He started pushing me and questioning me about this master's program. If I'm being honest, it was quite irritating. I just wanted some information from him so I could complete the application. I did not ask for an interrogation.

Anyway, he proceeded to push and prod getting me to really think about what I was stepping into. We both know that getting a master's degree takes a lot of time and is a big financial burden to bear. He wanted to make sure I had a plan as to what I was going to do with this degree (I have a Master's in Education that is currently collecting dust as we speak.) and that I wasn't doing this just to check a box. He wanted to know my goals for this endeavor and then he dropped the hammer.

He asked me, "What do you really want to do?" I looked at him in stunned silence. How on earth did he know that getting my masters is kind of a ploy to distract me from what I really want to pursue but am deathly afraid to follow through? Maybe because he's known me for over twenty years he can tell when I am choosing the "easy route" instead of trudging along towards what I really want. At any rate, he asked me that question and of course the tears started flooding out before I uttered I word.

In that moment I knew what was stopping me: fear.

Fear of rejection stunned me into complacency.

You see, a master's program while challenging, is totally predictable. You have a set of classes you must take and pass in order to graduate. You are guaranteed a pretty little certificate at completion. Reward awaits you. All that has to happen is you have to show up. You may get a low grade here or there, but, for the most part, you will carry on your way floating through the courses knowing exactly what is going to come next. This is comfortable to me. School is my jam. I could do it forever.

But, I don't think that's what I am supposed to do.

Ugh.

I watch a few moms on Instastories and Facebook and love their videos. They inspire me and help me not feel as crazy. As I was watching a couple of their videos in bed last night, I thought that is what I want to do. I want to encourage ladies to live their best life. I want women to believe in themselves and find their confidence in Christ. I desire us as women to show the realities of life: the messy, beautiful goings-on of the everyday normal chaos. Yes, there are already moms and bloggers out there talking about home decor, the latest health craze, sharing the best swimsuit, and showing the realities of motherhood. But, I want women to know that we ALL have a place to share and we ALL have a voice. No one can say what you have to say the way you say it. So, I decided to get vulnerable and add Instastories to my repertoire along with writing. I will try and share the good, the bad, and the messy of my little corner in this world not to show off, but to encourage. I desire to show the raw and the real and how it all mushes together in the grace. We are in this together and I couldn't believe that more than right this very second. So, I come to you in all vulnerability as I set off on this new journey. I will mess up. I will fall. I will be rejected. But, the Cornerstone will be there to lift me up every second of the way.

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." Psalm 118:22


Jesus was rejected. Even if you don't believe in his divinity, history tells the story of his rejection. Yet, that didn't stop him. He spoke boldly and on numerous occasions about his rejection. But, he kept going. He had a mission, a calling, and he lived it out fervently regardless of the naysayers. I feel like if Jesus was rejected and didn't let that deter him from his ultimate purpose, than I can take the leap of faith and run straight into my dreams and what I feel he is calling me to. The very one who was rejected became the ultimate foundation to all our lives and he accomplished this through rejection.

I know I am supposed to jump off that cliff. You know, the one I keep standing on the edge of walking back a little ready to get a running start in order to jump but at the last minute my feet come to a screeching halt as the dust kicks up from underneath blinding me. I don't want to jump. Jumping scares the begeebies out out of me. Just writing about this makes my palms sweaty. But I know I have to do it. I have to follow through and pursue my dream and what I know God has placed in my heart.

Writing is scary to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have thought how stupid I am for writing this blog. I am not kidding. I think about all my imperfections, my inadequacies, and all the beautifully talented women who are already doing this very thing. But then I get a text or private message from someone I haven't talked to in ages and they tell me my words encouraged them. And then I decide to jump.

I promised myself on that little love seat next to my husband that I would jump. I would run and take that leap no matter what kind of rejection awaits me on the other side. I will not grab onto the comfortable (although, getting my masters in theology will happen one day) but instead, pursue what I know the Lord is calling me to. I didn't know how afraid I was of rejection until I stared fear in the face.

My palms are sweaty.
My heart is racing.
I want to cry.
But I am going to jump.



Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My whole life. My whole world.

Ten years ago my husband and I loaded everything we owned into a moving van. We strapped our 15-month old into his car seat and headed 3,000 miles east to plant new roots in the middle of the country. I had a deep longing to stay at home with our son and moving was the only way we could live this lifestyle. Everything I had known, most of my identity, was stripped away from me the moment we pulled out of the driveway. No longer was I a teacher. I had graduated from college so student-life was a thing of the past. My family and friends all stayed behind so I had to find a new village. The only part of me that remained was wife and mom. Two things I cherish(ed) but I wasn't used to them being the only things that defined me. Transition. Change. It's the hard stuff.

Flash-forward and I have been a stay-at-home mom and wife for ten years. I have found my identity in this role and gotten comfy. I dappled in photography and taught preschool for a split-second, but, the majority of who I am is found in wife and mom taking care of the home front. I like it. I don't want to let go of it but I feel it slipping through my fingers like wet sand.

My boys are my entire world. I wake up every day and think of the things I need to do to care for them. As every mom knows, that list is long and seemingly endless. They always have needs. Always. But, I happily oblige these things because those boys are literally my whole life; my whole world. Yes, I am a daughter of the King first, wife second, and mama third. I get that and try my very best to live out that pyramid. I also know, that in this season, I am called to our home and the raising of these kids. However, something very peculiar is happening and it's happening fast: they're growing up. (Que the ugly cry)

I gave up myself so that my boys could have a good life. I chose to leave my identity behind so I could fully take on the role of mom. I am here for them most of the time. They have a need, there I am. Lately, however, these kiddos have desired a little freedom. Mind you, I do not do everything for them. I truly believe in teaching kids from a very early age how to care for themselves and be an active participant in the needs of the home and family. What I am referring to when it comes to freedom is the need to explore outside of my hovering. They want to ride their bikes with their friends around the neighborhood. They want to go down to the lake and explore without mom right behind them. My oldest wants to stay home instead of run errands. Mom is still needed but in a different capacity.

My whole life and my whole world is growing up entirely too fast. It is such a bittersweet experience. I absolutely LOVE sitting back and watching my boys become their own person outside of their dad and I. It's like a glimpse into their future selves. My oldest is going to his first day of middle school on Monday and while I feel more sad about this than the day he entered kindergarten, there's an excitement within me knowing I will get to witness my boy become a man in the next few years. What a privilege.

My boys will always need me. Their needs may change, but there will always be a need for their mama. What they need from me now is space: space to grow, space to be, space to make mistakes, space to be alone. It's scary entering this new world. How do you let your whole world go? It's like the first time your toddler tells you, "I do it." On one hand, you are elated that you no longer have to buckle them into their car seat because they can do it and on the other hand you want to cry because they no longer need you in that capacity. I am there only their "I do its" usually refer to doing something completely outside of me.

Motherhood. It's this black hole of so much love and indescribable emotion. You feel like your heart may explode because you love them so much. You want them to need you while at the same time, you just want to pee alone. Your parents and those older and wiser tell you it all goes so fast and you don't believe them. And then one day you blink and the 15-month old that you buckled into his car seat before you gave your life away to be his mama became this incredible young man about to enter middle school. It's a wicked game that time.

My whole life and my whole world are growing up at warp speed. I can't slow time down. I wish I could but I can't. All I can do is savor the moments; collect them in a jar in my heart and let them be. It's truly a gift to witness these little guys grow. It's been a wild ride. One I will never ever regret.

I am so thankful I gave myself up so I could be their mama. And just because they may grow to be taller than me doesn't change who I am to them. I will always be their mama.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" Psalm 127:3-5

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Chasing Perfect

I love Pinterest. I really do. It's such a pretty world. I love looking at the neutrals and decor. I fantasize about adding barn doors to every open space in my home. Pinterest gets a bad rap. I get it. It's difficult to try and live up to what seems like an unattainable world. But what if we looked at Pinterest a little different? What if, instead of chasing perfection, we chase our best?

I dapple in many things. I have a creative side that needs to get out and it shows in various capacities. I like to explore home interiors, I am a really great organizer, I can take a pretty decent picture, and I love to write. The kitchen is my happy place and I love to create food masterpieces. I find a lot of my passion and fulfillment when I am doing those things. When I write, I feel energized. Changing decor in our home excites me even if it's just putting out a fresh bouquet of flowers. I adore capturing raw moments of my boys on film and looking back relishing in the shots I captured. The moment I clean out a closet or toy bin, I feel like a new person.

I have many talented friends. I mean, all my friends are talented in some way. I have friends who are exquisite photographers. Their pictures are breath-taking. Other friends have homes that should be featured in a magazine. Every time I walk in, I look around and see what ideas I can "borrow." Just when I think I have implemented the best organizing technique, a friend posts something on Instagram and I realize how limited my capabilities are. Someone makes a meal for me and I feel completely inadequate.

I can easily fall into the rabbit hole of trying to be perfect. I can lose my passions when I realize I am not the best. I can get on Pinterest and realize there are so many people who are more talented than me influencing me to quit my life interests because I am not qualified. This is an easy road to head down: one of defeat and the desire to give up because you just aren't good enough.

There is always going to be someone better. Miss America even has Miss Universe. What if instead of us trying to be THE best we try to be OUR best?

We were all uniquely designed with different passions. The world needs you to release them. If we get so caught up with being the best, we shrivel up into ourselves and lose the very things that make us extraordinary.

There's a big difference between trying to be the best and working towards being our best. Once I realized that I will never be the best at anything, I let go of my expectations for myself. I decided that I will strive to be MY best at each of my passions without worrying about the person in the lane next to me doing the same task. We both have something to add to this world and I can rest my value in that.

Pinterest is no longer overwhelming. I can scroll through the beautiful pins and elicit ideas instead of feeling inadequate. I can utilize that tool to enhance my passions working towards my best. I will be energized and my spirit renewed in this space.

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, August 4, 2017

Give a Little Love: When a Neighbor Goes Rogue

I received an email from our neighborhood site. Don't we all love our neighborhood sites? It's a place where crazy can brew. I must say, our little corner is pretty mild and full of more support and kindness than drama. Until recently.

One of the things that drew us to our neighborhood was the look of the community. The shared places were gorgeous, beautifully maintained, and inviting. Recently, however, those spaces have lacked some tender loving care. A few have taken to our site to ask advice, not bring drama, to the situation. There are some houses that need some love, as well, and our HOA management company is aware (gotta love an HOA). Everyone seemed supportive of one another most neighbors offering assistance to those whose yards have overgrown not to be rude or demeaning, but because I truly feel our neighbors really do care about one another.

Well, one neighbor did not take that so kindly. She was very angry and wished ill-will on the "tattle-tale" who judged her yard/home. Unfortunately, she jumped to conclusions, as we all can. I read her post and my heart sank. I had two feelings: anger and sadness. I was angry that she had jumped to conclusions so quickly. It may not have been a neighbor who said anything. The management company drives the neighborhood often to make sure all the boxes are checked on the HOA rules. My initial reaction to her post was that of, "Who is she wishing such horrible circumstances on someone who may have not said a word." Then I felt sad for her. How sad she must be feeling to lash out that way about her neighbors. I kind of wanted to go knock on her door and tell her she got it all wrong but, that is not the best idea. So, I decided to attack this drama in a different way.

I decided to give a little love.

Love goes so much further than attacks, anger, and animosity. After reading her post, I realized this woman is hurting. She isn't lashing out because she is so angry. Well, she probably is. But, people don't behave that way because their life is all rainbows and sunshine. She needs a little love. And that's what I am going to give her. If I see them outside, I will smile and wave. I will ask how they are doing and be kind. I may even write an anonymous letter letting her know that someone cares. I am going to give a little love.

And I won't stop there. I will spread the love beyond the streets of our neighborhood because love is what truly stops anger. Love ignites its own flame taking the oxygen out of the wrath of anger. Today I am going to give a little love because people are hurting and this world needs it.

You know, my husband I had a conversation while we were on a trip for our anniversary. A friend had text me with a question about religion and that sparked a deep conversation about Christians, how they are perceived, and how we are doing as a faith-group. I think some of us have forgotten one of the two greatest commandments: love others. Loving doesn't require telling others how to live. It calls us to love people right where they are, right in that moment, just as they come. That's what I want to do: give a little love.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" James 1:19

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, July 27, 2017

15

Fifteen years. Seems like a lifetime. Seems like a blink of an eye. Scott and I were married 15 years ago. We had a six year dating adventure before we walked down the aisle. While I feel like we have been together for a lifetime and I cannot remember my life without him by my side, I know we are still babies in this journey. I have learned so many things through marriage: about myself, about others, about love. We are in a season where some of the marriages around us are sadly ending. Some are shocking and eye-opening to how it can happen to any of us. I started looking inward to see what is working between Scott and I wanting to see what is making our marriage work so we can stay healthy. Here are some things I found when I searched our relationship:

Respect: We fully respect one another. And when we don't, we call each other out and are humble enough to accept responsibility, ask forgiveness, and make the proper changes within ourselves. Respect takes personal sacrifice and I believe we accepted that before we said "I do." We respect that each of us is vastly different from the other and we have very different needs. We allow each other the space to be who the other is and was created to be. We watch our tone and the words we choose to speak and if we stumble, we accept it and apologize.

Trust: We fully trust one another. We had a hiccup a while back that threatened our trust but we worked through it and found solutions. We opened up our communication that much more and gave each other access to everything. There are no passwords on our phones, no passwords that the other doesn't know. We have full access to each other's emails and social profiles. We talk about everything and we listen. We trust one another when it comes to parenting our boys. Neither worries that the other is parenting in a way that doesn't match the other. When we have to discipline a kiddo without the other parent present, the boys know the missing parent will be filled in. Trust is HUGE and something we work on continuously.

Reality: Life. It's hard, messy, and full of joy. We know that life is going to come at us and we have decided that we will face realities together as a united front. I think some people think marriage is like the romantic love stories we see in movies and while part of it does resemble those scripts, the reality can look much different and that is not our spouse's fault. We choose to support each other through the reality of life.

Expectations: It took me awhile to learn that I had expectations for my husband. I can't tell you how many times in the beginning of our marriage (and in our dating life) Scott would say to me, "You have to tell me. I cannot read your mind." This used to frustrate me because I wanted him to just know. But, he was right. If I have a need, I need to communicate that. I also learned to step back and see that he was created a certain way. God knew who would love me best and that is Scott. So, I must accept the way he loves me having confidence that God created Scott to love me the way I was designed to receive love. I must drop the expectations and communicate when I have needs whether that be romantic, with the kids, spiritually, or taking out the trash. He doesn't know unless I speak up. Once I dropped certain expectations that I had for my spouse, I was able to see and enjoy the things he did do for me that got lost in my expectations of him.

You Complete Me: I was a hopeless romantic and honestly believed that I would be complete the moment I got married. Not true. Scott's job is not to complete me. That's God's job. I had to learn in the beginning that it wasn't my husband's fault that I had voids in my life. They weren't for him to fill. That was for God. While Scott compliments me, he does not complete me.

Roles: I know people hate the word submission and also dislike accepting that men and women have certain roles in the home. They feel its limiting and very 1950's. Let me just say this plain and simple: there are things I am really good at in the home and things Scott is really good at. It has nothing to do with one of us being compartmentalized. He is really good at ironing (thank you, military) and I am really good at keeping the house in order and everything organized. I take out the trash when it's full and he folds laundry. We definitely have certain roles that we fall into on a regular basis but it's to support one another not hold power over each other. We accept and fall into our roles being confident that they make our family better. And if we need help, we ask. We don't stomp around angry that one hasn't completed an expected task. We've accepted our roles and we are happy to serve.

Team: While we are individuals, we are a team. We know that working together is far more successful than working against one another. We keep our confidence in our individuality even when working as a team. Sometimes this means we adhere to the other person and that is okay. The end result isn't for one of us to win or be glorified. Rather, the end result is for the betterment of the whole not the individual. If we don't agree what one team member is doing, than we have an honest discussion hearing out their side.

Kids: Kids can overtake your life. I get it. We had three kids and three miscarriages in four years. I was pregnant, nursing, or healing from pregnancy for what seemed like forever. It definitely took a toll on our marriage at times. But, what this taught us, is that our marriage most definitely needs to come before the kids. If our relationship isn't healthy, neither is our parenting. We are a united front when it comes to the kids and when we disagree, we talk it out (never in front of the kids). We love our kids madly and deeply but we also know that we have more years just he and I than we do with the kids so its imperative that we don't allow them to overtake our relationship. We are a team when it comes to parenting and talk through so much in regards to how to guide our boys. We respect each other's parenting decisions trusting one another. Knowing mom and dad are a united front brings our boys a sense of security and helps them trust us with the hard stuff.

Listen: This is definitely one I am continuously working on. People want to be heard so hear your spouse out. I know I feel much better when my husband listens to me and validates what I am saying. He may not agree, but he listens and accepts what I have to say and vice versa. This goes a LONG way.

BFFs: Scott and I broke up twice when we were dating. We broke up for different reasons but kept coming back to each other. I think the main reason we kept coming back to each other was because we were such good friends. We started our relationship building a friendship and that foundation has gotten us through so much. We can both say that we are best friends and that is HUGE in marriage. The romance may ebb and flow, but a friendship is foundational.

Spiritual Foundation: This one took me awhile to figure out. I am one to look at other's lives from the outside and want what they have or think that is something I need to be doing. When it came to spirituality and our marriage, I definitely had expectations and visions. Unfortunately for me, those expectations did not match how my husband was wired. Once I accepted that it was okay for our spiritual walk together to look different than others', I felt freedom and peace. We have found our spiritual groove in our marriage and it's good. It's good for our relationship and for our kids. They get to witness a marriage that is spiritually whole and that honors how Scott and I were created.

Sex: Yep. I am going there. Here's the deal: sex is important in marriage. It is not something that should be forced but it should be a central part of your relationship. I remember being in a women's Bible study about marriage and one of the chapters was on sex. One of the things discussed was that sex is the one thing no one else can share with your spouse (if they do, there's trouble). I know my husband and I feel distance when we are not intimate. It deepens our relationship and is just as important as the other stuff. Sex is not a chore. It is a privilege. Enjoy it. Do it often. And when you don't feel like it, pray for intimacy in your relationship. I promise you, God will provide.

I know Scott and I have a lifetime to learn and I look forward to the challenge. We are far from perfect but are committed to loving each other fully and deeply as long as we both shall live.

To so many more years growing together and getting to love each other to the point where we embarrass our children.

Happy 15th my love!

I love you through eternity!
Meg

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Normal

You know what I love? Normalcy. Summer brings the freedom from crazy schedules, long summer days, and last minute plans. It begs us to play in the water and eat far too many snow cones (or shaved ice or snow balls depending on where you reside). Summer beckons us to achieve sun-kissed cheeks and stay up late to watch the fireflies leaving the normal everyday crazy schedule behind. We long for the lazy days of summer as the school year comes to a close itching to turn the alarm off. Suitcases lie in wait hoping to be filled ready to go somewhere tropical or mountainous. Pools sparkle in the hot sun waiting for a canon ball. Summer is sweet; a welcomed reprieve.

I was making the boys eggs the other day while drinking my coffee. We had just come off of a week of going here-there-and-everywhere. For some reason, this summer does not feel lazy. We took off from the gates into activities and vacation. I am not one to fill our summers with camps and commitments. The kids need a break from the rigmarole of crazy schedules. And, quite frankly, so do I. But, for some reason, this summer has felt busy. So, it was nice to have a slow morning doing the mundane task of cooking breakfast. My body ached for normalcy. As much as I strive for something else, something more, something better, I always come back to the mundane.

Normal is where I live. It's where I breath and do life. I go on vacation desperately needing a break ready to come home to the norm at the end. I long for my bed, my kitchen, my washer and dryer, and the way my house smells. I like the routine; the rhythm our family has created together. I find myself, my God, and my people in the normal.

Our wandering hearts desire something outside the norm. We convince ourselves that there is more outside the mundane and begin the chase to find it leaving our souls depleted and empty not realizing the true life happens in the very day. There is so much life to be had in our mundane every day lives.

I scroll through Instagram and Facebook relishing in the vacations of my friends. I see their pictures of white sandy beaches and my toes long to be in the sand. My mind wanders thinking I need more than the comforts of my couch. But then reality hits, I get out there and get going outside the norm and I long to be back home.

Life happens in the mundane. Normal is where we live most of our lives. It's time to stop running from the norm and start living in it. That's where the good stuff happens: the snuggles, the family movie nights, ideas are spawned, precious conversations between spouses are had, children are loved and developed. Normal is where the good stuff resides.

I am currently sitting on my couch upstairs with nothing on our agenda. I hear one of my boy's talking to himself while he creates something with his vibrant imagination. I am listening to my other two working together to defeat the bad guy on their video game. It's boring. There's no sandy beach or smell of mountain air. But, it is precious because it is my normal and I love it.

Their is glory in the mundane. Life is lived mostly in this space. I want to see it, smell, it, touch it, taste it, and live the normal, boring, every-day-life to the fullest. I like the normal. It feels good; like an old pair of jeans that fits just right. Today, I live fully in the normal loving every last second of it.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Get Moving

I feel like this is the summer of moving. Every time I turn around, another friend announces her time here has come to an end and she and her family are moving to a new city. Each time I hear the news is bittersweet. I am excited for their families, but will feel a void from their absence.

I would love to keep everyone I love close. No one would move away and we would all live happily ever after together. But, that's not reality. I saw a picture of my friend celebrating the contract on her house and I was happy for them but a little sad that they would be leaving soon. I have known her for years and even though we don't hang out all the time, I still love her presence in my life.

As much as I would love to hold everyone hostage and build a commune, I need to let them go. I want others to experience the blessings that are in my life. If they stay here, the world outside of North Texas will never know their awesomeness.

We limit ourselves when we say no to moving; to leaving the comfortable for the unknown. The world, and other communities, need us to move and scatter. They need our personalities, gifts, talents, and love. When we hold ourselves captive to the space that makes us most comfortable, we miss out on being used in extraordinary ways. And the people in those communities miss out as well.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" Matthew 28:19

Jesus called his disciples, his friends, to go. He didn't ask them to park it where they were at and get comfortable. These men dropped everything they knew and loved and went out into the world. I often wonder what their families thought. Was there any push back? Did their moms cry and beg them to stay?

While some of us are called to stay right where we are at right now, I believe many of us stay because we're scared to leave. There is a season to grow where you're planted and there is a season to leave everything you've ever known and plant new roots. When we ignore that itch, that feeling that it's time for something new, that community misses out on what we have to offer. Don't hinder yourself out of fear. Don't leave the new community with a hole because you were too scared to move. God will meet you there. He will bless you in the new and unknown.

It may not be easy. You will face challenges and even shed a few tears. But, I promise you, it will be totally worth it!

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, July 17, 2017

Celebrate You!

Every new year, many of us make goals hoping the better ourselves. We plan to workout, eat healthier, work harder at our jobs, or try something new or challenging. We are out to "fix" ourselves because, let's face it, we can all use a little improving every now and again.

We were all created with certain quirks and goodness. We tend to see our strengths as those things that hinder. Our goals for improvement focus on the very essence of our being. We try to manipulate ourselves to fit what culture, our surroundings, our friends, and our loved ones say. We think our unique intricacies are limiting instead of valuable. We strive to make ourselves better trying to shed the skin we were meant to live in.

I have a challenge for you and me: find out who you are, embrace it, and celebrate the heck out of it. Make a list about you. List all of your qualities: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Get to know yourself and accept that you were made exactly that way on purpose. Stop trying to push who you are out of your life with a swift kick and good riddance.

Love who you are.

Celebrate you.

Rest in knowing that the things you dislike about yourself are most likely the very things people love about you. All those things that bug you and you wish you could change are the things people envy in you. Be those things; the very best version of yourself.

Can you imagine how empowered you would feel and behave if you embraced and celebrated who you are? It would be contagious.

Look, there is always room for improvement. We can always work on this area or that in our lives. But, it's about time we start loving ourselves! You're pretty awesome just the way you are. It's time you start believing that!

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Year of Strong: Almost 40

I turned 39 in May. My last year in my thirties. I have absolutely loved my thirties. I feel I have found myself here. I have learned what matters and what I can leave behind. I have discovered the true meaning of friendship and holding tight to that tribe that wants to be in my life. I have grown more deeply in love with my husband and enjoyed watching my boys come into their own. I am going to mourn my thirties when they finally pass. Not because I am fearful of aging. Rather, I am going to mourn that season that was so deep, so wide and so good.

I am looking forward to my forties. I have friends who have crossed over and I am witnessing such freedom in their lives. I still long for that freedom in some areas. Just because I learned great deal about myself in my thirties does not mean that I don't have much to learn still. One thing I am learning is how to treat myself. For so long, my focus and emphasis to my physical health was how I looked on the outside. If I am thin enough on the exterior, than that must mean that I am healthy on the interior. What I have found is, this is just not true.

I took my boxing gloves and wraps off and threw them on the ground. I was beat down from an extraordinary workout on the bag and still reeling in leg pain from my workout the day before. But, my workout was not over. I was only halfway done. I still had push-ups with my feet on the ball, battle ropes, up-downs in plank, and step-up repeaters. I thought I may die (or throw-up), but I persevered and pushed through. I didn't do this because I think I am tough. Quite the opposite, actually. I am weak.

'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' 2 Corinthians 9-10

When I looked down at my gloves on the floor, I wanted to quit. I had gotten a good workout in. Why did I need to stay? I felt weak but knew deep down that I am stronger than what my head was telling me. I am not stronger within myself. I am stronger because of Him.

I have decided that this is the year of strong. I no longer look to my outsides to determine the health of my insides. I stand confident in my strength because I know where my strength comes from. And when I feel weak and like I should quit, that's when I am at my strongest because I have to dig deep to find it.

Knowing I can complete a workout, feel good, and not pass out means far more to me than the number on the scale. How I feel on the inside about myself far outweighs how I look on the outside. This year, as I leave my thirties and enter my forties, I want to be physically stronger than I have ever been. I want to tackle those hand-stand push-ups like a boss and beat the boys on our laps. And when all is said and done and I am a sweaty mess, I will confidently know the One who pushed me through.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, July 14, 2017

Feed Me

I am following a blogger's 40th birthday extravaganza in Cabo on her instastories. Her mission is to help us make the life we've got a little more beautiful. She is there with her husband and seven other couples. I am going to be forty next year. So, her stories got me to thinking: who would I want in Cabo with me if I went for my birthday?

Honestly, I have a lot of friends. I have many people in my life who I enjoy their company and comment on their Instagram pictures. But, who are the people that know me? Who are the ones that check on me regularly? Listen to me because they truly care? Sacrifice their time for me? Who is my tribe?

I don't know.

I know I have people that would come running no questions asked in a crisis. I am blessed with a tribe of mamas who help me raise my crazy boys. I know I have people who like me. But, who are the people that feed my soul?

I don't know.

I mean, I know who these people are, but, I don't utilize them well.

Let me explain. I am really good at serving others. I don't say that to sound pretentious. It's just who I am and how I am wired. Because of this, I tend to push away help. I feel like a burden and I don't want to put anyone out. My friends aren't doing this and making me feel this way. I do this to myself.

What I am learning in my old age (LOL), is that I need to allow my friends to feed my soul. I need to open the doors to my life, tear down the walls, and let them in; let them serve and love me.

My soul is empty. My friend tank depleted. And this is by no fault of anyone else but me. My friends cannot feed my soul if I don't allow them. If I don't tell them I need someone to serve me, they don't know. I think for far too long I thought this was a selfish act, but it's not. God wired us to need one another. Even Jesus had his tribe.

I was really feeling empty last week. I let my guard down and text two friends about my struggle with friendship. One is on vacation with her family and the other is in an overwhelming season of her own. You know what though? They both showed up for me. They both loved on my and fed my soul. I confessed my lack of letting people into my life and she picked up the phone and called me and has continued to check on me. And you know what? That feels SO good!

I am learning that when I shut my doors and don't allow people to love on me, it leads to insecurity. When I give, give, give in relationship, I walk away empty and unfulfilled. I know that relationships need balance. I have learned the hard way that they are really about give AND take. I need to trust. I need to allow others in. I need to rest in knowing that they are doing for me because they love me not because they feel obligated.

You know what I am finding? It feels good to be loved.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Turn It Off

Headlines.

They are meant to grab us; to get our attention. Sometimes they are jolting. Other times, they are uplifting. I used to wake up every morning and turn on The Today Show. I liked feeling connected and informed. I would have the news on in the background while I was getting ready for work kind of listening kind of tuning out. When I started having babies, the news was my connection to the outside world. I remember staring at the female anchors with their make-up and hair done thinking, "One day I will be put together again" kind of like Humpty Dumpty. I really liked being in the know.

As the boys got older and more needy, I would watch the first fifteen to thirty minutes of The Today Show. I needed the headlines. I needed to know what was going on outside my front door. My oldest got to the age where he was actually hearing what was on TV and so I had to limit my news exposure. Once I took a step back, I realized how much better I felt when I limited my news consumption. No matter what channel I watched, I always felt a heaviness after I was done. I felt heartbreak, disappointment, shock, disgust, worry, anger, and all out anxiety. I was loaded down with the weight of the atrocities of this world.

"A negative mind will never give you a positive result." Bianca Olthoff

While the news is meant to inform, it leaves many of us feeling more negative than educated. All of a sudden, I start to feel like it is inevitable that my children's elementary school is going to be attacked by a mad gunman, all my rights as a human being are going to be stripped, and now I am putting people in categories they were never meant to be in because the news talks about "those people." Done. Done-zo. And I am out.

I took the news out of my life awhile ago. Well, with the exception of the weather. I live in Texas, people. The weather can change in five minutes. Anyway, I decided I would break-up with the news a bit ago. I just could not handle the noise any longer. I could not carry the unnecessary weight of the worry, stress, and anxiety the news created in me. I also didn't like how the news was beginning to sway me to see different people groups in negative ways. So, I said no more and left that madness.

Let me pause by saying that me not watching the news does not mean that I have done a 180 and am living a life of naivety. Rather, leaving the cable news as my source of information has led me on a path to find news in other outlets leading me to a more well-rounded understanding of what is really happening in the world. I read sources that report from various sides with varying opinions. I am responsible for researching the source of my information instead of trusting those who are more concerned with ratings than facts. I listen to every day people more as well. This has been my favorite part...learning from others lives through their stories. People are awesome.

Breaking up with the news has been one of the best decisions I have made. Life is going to ebb and flow. Leaders will come and go. I will agree with some and despise others. But, I will survive. And when I look out and see the world around me instead of a screen I will see three exceptional little boys who are becoming men far too quickly. I will stare at a handsome man whose starting to go a little grey and that attracts me to him even more and I get the privilege to call him husband. I will be honored with friends who love me so very well even when I don't deserve an ounce. My world is open to seeing the amazing stamina, the beautiful creativity, and the immense love people have for one another regardless of race, culture, or social status. You see, when you turn off the news, you actually get to witness life being lived in all its glory: the good, the bad, the messy, and the grace-filled.

I challenge you to turn it off. Turn off the cable news. Shut down the Facebook news feed. Delete the CNN app from your phone. Silence the news alerts and lift your eyes to see the glorious life that is before you. You will begin taking steps to making the world in front of you a better place for yourself, for your children, for your spouse, and for your community. Your attitude towards people will shift from hatred, prejudice, and despair to empathy, love, and respect. Life is better at 4pm on the other side of that screen. I promise you.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fulfillment

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6


Oh, how we love to tell people, "God's going to do a great work in you!" Us Christians like to say this when things aren't going as planned in someone's life. Maybe they just experienced a break up, job loss, or were told no to a dream they held dear. God's got you and he is going to fulfill something great for you! I just know it!

You know what? When I sit back and think about how often and when I have said these exact words, I annoy myself. My intentions were good but it's so cliche.

I was thinking about my husband while he was on a work trip. I was casually praying that God would do a great work in him. There I go again with my irritating expressions. I had a visual of my husband in my mind while I was praying my cliche when I thought, "You know what? God already has done a great work in my husband!"

We are so quick to talk about the futuristic plans of God that we don't see that he is already doing a great work in us. He has, is, and will continue to do great things in and through us whether we recognize this or not.

We get frustrated waiting for our "great work" from God to come to fruition. We sit and twiddle our thumbs feeling left out watching everyone around us fulfilling their great works in God and we feel we must have missed the boat. Not so. God is doing a great work in you and in me every day. We are so busy looking to future fulfillment that we don't recognize the great works he is doing in us right this very minute.

After I came out of my cliche fog, I realized that I, too, am waiting for the fulfillment of this great work God is supposed to do in my life. I am sitting around waiting for all the cosmos to come together just right so God's great work can be fulfilled in me. All-the-while, he's been doing great things in and through me since the day I believed.

I decided to change my verbiage in my prayers. Instead of asking for God to do that great work in me in the future, I pray that I may see the great work he is doing in me each and every day. I want to see his handiwork in my life. I want to witness the "goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13) as he works himself in and through me each day.

God is currently doing a great work in your life. Ask him to show it to you today.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Drop It

I am currently studying the book of Revelation. I have gotten through chapter four out of twenty-two and a quarter of the way through the book I am using to help me along and I have been at this for a few months. Revelation is no joke. It can be easy to get caught up in understanding the symbolism and trying to decipher John's (the author) code. What I have found, however, is that while I can spew all the labels like pre-trib, post-trib, and mid-trib, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. What matters is understanding the overall concept of the book. Jesus is coming back and because of this, we have hope.

I recently read an article about the infamous Beth Moore. A Baptist preacher's wife had some issues with Beth's "claims." Mainly, she thought it presumptuous and wrong that Moore would speak of a time when she was enlightened by God; that she felt a nudging from God to do something. I come from a Baptist background. I started my faith journey in a non-denomination church but when Scott and I got engaged, we moved to a Baptist church. Baptists, like many church sects, have certain beliefs and "laws" that they hold dear.

I remember when we moved to Texas and were in search of a new home church. We landed at our current church and I immediately fell in love. There was only one problem: they believed in speaking in tongues. Let me add a little clarity: they believed in all spiritual gifts because they believed in the power of God. If God so desires to give you a gift in order to advance his kingdom, then so be it. This freaked me out in the beginning because Baptists (generally speaking) do not hold that all spiritual gifts are still relevant today. I battled with this for awhile until I realized that the power of God is much grander than the box I wanted to put him in. So, I let go of the tight grip I had on religion and chilled out a bit.

Back to Beth Moore. So, this woman felt Beth's entire ministry was a fraud because she talked about being moved by God in such a way that she went and talked to a gentleman about the Lord. I don't know about you, but if God wants to stir something in me to bring another to Christ, I am cool with that.

When I hear stories like the one about Beth Moore and as I study the differing views of Revelation, I can't help but ask myself a few questions:

What if it's less about understanding and trying to decode Scripture, and more about living out Jesus' mission?\

When does religion become an idol?

What would happen we dropped all our man-made laws, rules, regulations, and judgments in our churches and just lived out Jesus' ministry?

I do believe there is value in having different churches. People relate to different styles and ways of doing things. However, I also believe that all-too-often, we get more caught up in our religion, rules, and practices that we lose sight of our faith. And when we lose our faith, we lose Jesus.

When we start arguing for our laws instead of for Jesus, we lose our credibility thus losing souls. The Bible is difficult to decipher. I can attest to this as I am studying Revelation. But, what I am learning, is that it's not all about deciphering the code. Christianity is more about the love and hope of Jesus. Jesus trumps religion. Period.

We get in the way of Jesus. We like God to fit in our square box and he just doesn't reside there. When we play the religion card, we are no different than the pharisees Jesus condemned in the Gospel. When we stand before God, our religion is going to be the last thing on his mind. But, I can guarantee how we represented and treated his Son will be the first.

We need to drop the religious propaganda. We need to let go of our "rightness" in our debates about God. We need to stop talking for him for he speaks clearly for himself. This doesn't mean that we have full reign to manipulate Scripture because we let go of religion. Instead, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our understanding living out the organic mission of Jesus: love God and love others.

I wish we could drop our religious tendencies. The Church would have such a grand positive influence on the world if we could.

I will leave you with this about the Book of Revelation:

"Attempting a definitive position on the timing of the rapture is probably much ado about nothing. The book of Revelation begins and ends with a prophecy and a promise that Jesus will return (Rev. 1:7, 22:20), and the church's creeds (statements of belief) proclaim the fact that Jesus will return but don't attempt to set the time of his coming. Debating the precise time shouldn't be an occasion for contention or suspicion. Perhaps a pan-tribulation view is best-everything will pan out in the end!" Richard Wagner

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Proven Big

A friend gave me a book for my birthday entitled, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I haven't read anything by her since Eat, Pray, Love which I devoured, so I was excited to start this book. I would read a few chapters while I waited in the carpool line. This quickly became one of my favorite times in my day. While I was reading Big Magic I began rereading Nothing to Prove, by Jennie Allen. I read this book before in a book club setting but needed to reread it for a Bible study I am leading soon. I had no idea when I began this two books in conjunction with each other what a great impact they would have on me.

"Through the mere act of creating something-anything-you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important." Elizabeth Gilbert

We are all created for something. We all have an inner desire burning within us waiting to get out into the world. We spend countless hours wondering what our purpose is taking personality tests, switching jobs, and chasing dreams trying to let that creativity free. We dabble in this and that trying to find fulfillment for that creative thing that dwells deep inside. We wander. We get lost. We try and stuff it away. But, that creativity keeps coming back pestering us to release it someway, somehow.

I am a go-getter; your typical A-type. I feel a desire to do something and typically find a way to let that beast out. There is a creative that lives deep within me and it's always knocking on my door. I also have this innate need to add value to what I do. I struggled (and still struggle) when I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom. I had just received my Masters in Education when I had our first son. My entire adult life was about striving. I went to college, graduated, went back to college to get my credential, graduated, started my teaching career, and went back to college to get my masters. Every class I took, upped me on the pay-scale. There was monetary compensation for my accomplishments. I could physically see and feel the value of my efforts. You don't get that when you're "just a mom." I struggled in that space for a long time and still do, occasionally. I like knowing that what I do adds value to something.

I began blogging when MySpace made it's debut. I would update family and friends on the developmental milestones of our first born. I was your typical new mommy relishing in every little thing our precious baby boy did. He was a genius and perfect in my eyes and I wanted to share that with anyone who would read my page. When we moved to Texas, I continued blogging to stay connected to our family and friends back home. In the midst of updating, I had two miscarriages. Blogging became my outlet; my therapy. I would write about my struggles dealing with loss and grief. As I was letting out all my emotions on a keyboard, I discovered my passion: writing. Ironically, my dad told me once when I was in my undergrad studies that I would write a book one day. My young self thought he was crazy. Well, he was right. As dads usually are.

The feelings I get after I write is like nothing I ever felt in my teaching career or when I toyed with photography. Writing is so many things to me: therapeutic, refreshing, satisfying, challenging, energizing, freeing. The one thing writing isn't for me: financially rewarding.

So, there I sat reading a book about how we all have some creative space that is antsy inside us and needs to be released just for the sake of releasing it in conjunctive with a book about how we don't have anything to prove and I felt incompetent because I wrote on this silly little blog that is meaningless and has no value. Talk about mind-blowing, convicting, awe-inspiring, and empowering all rolled up into two books and an emotional person.

I realized that God has given me a desire deep within my soul. Writing is not about proving or making money or going viral. It's about releasing what God has given me knowing that I have nothing to prove because He has already proven himself to me and through me. Even if this blog is just a bunch of diary entries only meant for me, that doesn't mean it has no value because it leads me straight to Him every time. When I finish a blog post, I feel closer to Him and more energized than ever. I feel like I have released something that has been welling up inside me under so much pressure I may explode.

"Sometimes the devil sounds a lot like Jesus. If I were your enemy, this is what I would do: Make you believe you are insignificant." Jennie Allen

I tie my significance up into monetary value or the acceptance of others. My writing felt meaningless (and still does from time-to-time) because I have wrapped up its significance into the wrong things. God isn't calling me to write so I can get paid. He doesn't find value in my words only if they go viral. My writing is tied up in Him and He has already proven Himself. All I need to do is obey and in that obedience, I find blessing.

It's funny because I only write when an idea captures me. It's usually in the car or shower and I have to quickly find a piece of paper to jot the idea down so I don't forget it. Elizabeth Gilbert talks a little bit about this in our book. She was talking about another author who said that she would get an idea and if she doesn't write it down immediately, the idea disappears. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me. That's why I always carry a journal and pen with me. I don't want to lose those precious thoughts. After I read these two books and released my hold on what I deemed as valuable when it came to my writing, the ideas flowed. I have pages of blog topics and I can't write them fast enough. But, as life would have it, a new distraction has entered the occasion to keep me from putting pen-to-paper. I allow life to get in the way. Before sitting down to write three blog posts today I made the bed, switched the laundry, picked up after the kids in the front room, talked to one of the boy's friends for a bit, made a cup of coffee, made a protein shake, and lit some candles. I can distract myself with the best of them. Funny how the enemy will keep you from doing what He wants you to do.

"So if I were your enemy, I would make you numb and distract you from God's story. Technology, social media, Netflix, travel, food and wine, comfort. I would not tempt you with notably bad things, or you would get suspicious. I would distract you with everyday comfort that slowly feed you a different story and make you forget God." Jennie Allen

God designed a certain type of creativity in me. He made it so I couldn't ignore it; a constant burning desire waiting to get out. Yet, the enemy knows the same creativity within me and will do anything and everything to stifle it because he knows that once I release it, lives will be changed.

Don't do what I did. Don't feed your inadequacies and your distractions. Don't ignore your creative spark because there is no monetary compensation. Don't add a value marker where it is not intended. Do release your creativity into the world because we all need it. We are all waiting for it. The world needs you to release your creative spirit. You need to let it out. Be prepared when you do because you will feel more fulfilled and satisfied than you ever thought possible.

There is big magic in you and you have nothing to prove so let it out.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, July 3, 2017

Adventuring

We took the gondola to get up the mountain. It was our third or fourth time on riding it. The boys loved it and chanted for it to move faster. On this ride, we came to a sudden stop. When I say sudden, I mean there was no slowing down. Someone hit the brakes and hit them hard. Our weight was not distributed evenly so the moment we stopped, our gondola decided to become a swinging porthole of death. We swung so far from side-to-side I thought we were going to hit the pole. And if swinging wasn't awesome enough, we bounced up and down: the kind of bouncing that makes your stomach drop. Three of the Fish five were perfectly fine and loving every minute. Two of us? Not so much. We both believed the end was near.

A minute or so passed (even though it seemed like forever) and we began moving again. Our gondola straightened itself out and we never fell down the side of the mountain. We survived. I was able to calm one of the fishies who was scared (I may or may not have been the other one) opening his eyes to see that we survived and reminding him that we need moments like those to push back our fears. I wasn't really talking to him, though. I was talking to myself.

I like comfort. I like knowing what is coming next. Tell me the risks and the benefits. Give me all the things that can go wrong. Otherwise, I will make stuff up in my crazy mind. I like driving without having to follow directions on autopilot. I find comfort in knowing who my friends are and not having to make new ones getting through all those trust issues. I find comfort and having everything in place in my house and memorizing the aisles of my local grocery store so I can make my list accordingly. Give me all the comfort. I am your gal.

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”' Joshua 1:9

I am a creature of habit and I like feeling like I have control. My house is clean most of the time because that's where I feed my control dragon. Somehow a tidy house helps me feel like everything is in control and my spirit can exhale. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for me, I married a change agent. My husband thrives in change. He can live anywhere and do anything and be energized not paralyzed. This was one area we really had to work through in the first few years of our marriage. I liked the comfort of my four walls and he longed for change. He knows change isn't scary but rather, necessary.

I have slowly grown accustomed to change. I still don't like it, but I will push through. One of the biggest changes of my life was our move to Texas. I fought hard to stay in my home state. All I ever knew was there and leaving that seemed frightening to me. Yet, ten years in and I can honestly say, it was one of the absolute best decisions of our lives. We have experienced so much goodness in our move. This doesn't mean the decision to leave all I ever knew was easy, but it was worth it.

One of the best things about moving to the middle of the country, is that you have easier access to other areas. We have had the opportunity to explore and see other parts of the country we may not have seen had we stayed on the west coast. Moving out of my comfort propelled a spirit of adventure in me that I may not have discovered had I stayed in the easy and the known. Our family now has a list of all the places we want to see and discover. Seeing the wonder in our boys' eyes as we explored the mountains this summer motivates me even more to get outside my box. There is nothing more motivating than the wonder and awe in your children's eyes.

I could let fear paralyze me. I could choose to live in those feelings like I felt when I was certain our gondola was going to swing us to our death. But I won't because I know we will get to the docking station just fine. Adventure awaits me and I don't want to miss it!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Teeny Tiny Little Spec

We recently drove to Colorado for a family reunion and vacation. We took the fastest and most common route on the way out there but decided to deviate from the norm on the way home. We wanted to see something different, so we decided to drive through Wichita and then drop south to Texas. Let me just say, the drive from outside of Denver to Wichita is gorgeous. Vast farmland. Rolling hills. Who knew Kansas was so pretty?

I drove the entire time because I get carsick when I am the passenger. As I drove through all this glorious land that seemed to never end, I began to feel really small. Everyone in the car was quiet and occupied with their own thing, so it was just me, my thoughts, and the open country road. As I drove I envisioned seeing myself from space; like a satellite picture from space. All I could think of was that I was a teeny tiny spec in a great big world.

We get so hyper-focused on where we live. We are so used to the everyday scenery that we lose sight of the great big world that extends beyond our four corners. For me, I think this is partly defense because when I think about how vast the world really is, I can become overwhelmed and feel meaningless.

But, for some reason on this drive, I felt mighty in the boundless space.

I realized on my drive that I am not a teeny tiny little spec. I add great value to the area God has placed me. So do you. If we all did our part in our tiny spaces, we would fit together like a billion piece puzzle. I am placed where I am because this area needs a Megan here. You are placed exactly where you are because that area needs a you in that space.

I truly believe that when we get to Heaven, we are going to see that the teeny tiny is really the enormous; that the mark we leave on our communities is like the immense farmlands we drove through. Our mark, our impact, will roll on endlessly if we serve where we are planted and believe we have purpose in that space.

As I drove through the expanse of land, I couldn't help but feel empowered. My mind shifted and I realized that I am much bigger than a teeny tiny little spec. I have a purpose, a voice, gifts, talents, and the ability to serve my area. It became very clear to me on our drive that how I choose to use those things matter greatly. If I choose to ignore them because I feel I don't add any value, the puzzle will be missing a piece and I don't want to ruin the masterpiece.

"You go where you're sent
and you stay where you're put
and you give what you've got."
Jill Briscoe


Love & Blessings,
Meg