Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coming to a Close

It's that time of year again; the time when things come to an end and we get to stop making school lunches. Ah. Sweet summertime.

By the middle of May, we are all pining for lazy days, swimming to take the place of showers, and no folders to sign. May is the most craziest month in all the land and by June, we can finally let our frazzled hair down and breath. By August, we are ready to ship our little hoodlums off to the Land of Oz that is their schools welcoming schedules and responsibility like welcoming in someone to clean your house. By August, we are begging teachers to come back from the throws of summer retirement longing for the days where we can entrust someone else with the responsibility of telling our little ones to stop picking on their brother.

Isn't it funny how we long for change and we don't even realize it? We stay in the school zone for too long and we may all lose our minds. By May, everyone needs a break: the teachers are done, students are exhausted, bus drivers done-zo, and parents, well, parents are beyond done with the organizing, signing, projects, late night runs to the craft store, and the basic responsibilities that comes with parenting kids through school. We welcome the change that summer brings sometimes pleading for the days of sleeping in to get here faster. August rolls around and there we are again putting in that change request to our schedules.

We were built for change. God designed our souls to get antsy. Just look at the seasons. In Texas, you will find pumpkins on porches in September. Christmas trees go up the weekend before Thanksgiving (be still my soul). We like change...when it's expected.

"He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding" Daniel 2:21

Why is it that while our souls long for change, we fight it at all costs? Sure, we like the change we can see coming like the end of a school year. But, you give us a more challenging change like moving to a new area or switching careers and we crumble. At least I do. I like to know what's coming; what to expect. I like my lists. I am a planner at heart even though my life is full of unplanned spontaneity. My soul nudges me into change constantly. And if it's not my soul, it's my husband. I will never forget bawling my eyes out while sitting on our tiny kitchen counter in our even tinier apartment when he told me we'd probably have to move out of state to buy a house because California real-estate was ridiculous. We hadn't even committed to anything yet I was a wreck at the idea of change. We ended up staying in California for another four years.

We were created for change. God did not wire us to be stagnant. In order for us to change, grow, mature, and have faith we'd need some type of change in our lives. Yet, we are the strongest army of resistance when change even tries to breech our shore.

I think when I realize I am perfectly wired for change, that the Creator made me that way, I can accept the change a little easier when it comes my way. I was meant for change. I was designed for change. Life is boring without change. I don't grow. I lack maturity. My faith dwindles. Change is good for the soul; difficult but good. When the expected changes come, when I celebrate the last day of school with a cannon ball, I will use that as a reminder that God is the master conductor of change and I was built for this.

"While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." Genesis 8:22

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Yep

I had to get up and leave the dinner table. I was so mad. One of the boys did something forgivable BUT it was the 85th gazillion time he had made this "mistake" and I thought he should have learned by now.

Yep. It happens to me. I think it's easy to read this blog, look at my Instagram feed, or peak into my life and think I've got things all figured out. I talk about Jesus a lot and how much I love my boys, husband, family, and friends. It could seem like I automatically jump to Jesus when I;m having a bad day but that's just not the case.

I was so mad at my kid the other night that I literally had to get up from the dinner table and sit in a quiet room with the doors shut. I knew if I stayed I would have snapped at him. And while this sounds like I made the right choice, what I really wanted to do was stay and be mad.

Just last week I dealt with insecurities with friends. I felt forgotten, left out, and jaded. I felt like the girl who was pushed out of the cool crowd. It sucked.

What I have found is that there is no magic Scripture that will make it all better. When we are in hard moments, sometimes hearing its for the best or Jesus is with you doesn't make all those yucky feelings go away. While sticking to our faith is beneficial, there is no magic Jesus pill we can take to make it all better. Sometimes, we just have to surge through the muck and get to the other side.


"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" Romans 3:23-24

Look, we are all sinners. We ALL fall short; even me. More often than not, I want to stay mad, I want to throw a tantrum, and I want to be sad and sometimes I am. I give myself space and grace to feel all the feelings because you know what? God does the same. He gave us our emotions. He gives us grace to feel them. It's what we do with those feelings that matters.

I have learned that when I start to feel short or angry with the boys, I need to walk away. I even tell them that. I tell them that I am angry and I need a moment. I lock myself in my closet, the bathroom, or my office for a minute and compose my crazy self. I used to eat my "secret chocolate" in the pantry with the door closed and the lights off. This was until the youngest told me he had a piece of my beloved secret chocolate and I knew I was found out. Anyway, I just give myself a moment to feel mad and then I take a deep breath and come back down to reality.

I have also learned that most times when I am feeling insecure with friends it's not because of them. It's because of me. I have inflected some type of tone or emotion to their text or post and create a wild story around these false feelings. I have gathered a little courage and learned that a lot can be hashed out when I pick up the phone and call. There's nothing a little conversation can't work out. It may be difficult, but totally worth it in the end.

I guess I felt I needed to write this post because I think many of us (especially Christians) look to other believers and think they have it all worked out. We assume when failures rise in their lives, they turn to Jesus, have all the right verses, and everything is okie dokie. That is just not the case. We all have to work through our junk and just like Romans 2:23-24 says, we ALL sin and fall short. No one is spared. We've got to allow ourselves to feel the feelings and muddle through the junk. We typically get to the other side unscathed and a little wiser for it.

Give yourself a little grace today.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Health & Wellness

Let me begin this post by specifying that I am not a nutritionist. I have never been trained as a personal trainer. I am not trying to be either. Nor am I the fittest or skinniest one in the bunch and have cellulite on my legs. I am just a girl trying to be as healthy as possible mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Okay. Now let's get talking. Let me give you a little background so you get a feel for where I am coming from. I remember being in second grade, sitting on the side of my friend's pool, and pinching my "fat" rolls on my belly. I thought I was fat at eight years old. I grew up in Orange County, California so the need to look a certain way was ingrained in my soul at a very young age. No one had to say anything. The sights and sounds of Southern California beckoned a girl to be blond, tan, and thin. I got the first part but failed miserably at the second two; or, at least I thought I did.

I have always been an active person. My parents were active. My dad was an athlete throughout his young life and continued to workout as I grew up. He and my mom worked out at the gym regularly, they ran 5k's and 10K's and played tennis and racquetball. My mom was a health-nut (which I loathed) and I remember both of them being on a diet or two.

With that being said, health and activity was normal for me. I grew up outside. I played, ran, climbed trees, and held my own with the boys. I have always been competitive and aware of my physicality. I have also tried countless diets and exercise regimes. I have starved myself to get to a certain weight and fallen for the next great diet trick. I have felt the sting when the number on the scale didn't move. I have been hangry and felt like everyone was staring at my cellulite. I have been there.

"You are fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)
"You created my inmost being." (Psalm 139:14)
"You are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:10)

Because I have been there, I have learned that all that stuff, all that starving and striving doesn't work. Health and wellness doesn't come with a magic pill or a special drink. It doesn't come through starving yourself or working out for hours on end. It comes when you realize you are worth it.

Once I realized my health was worth it and that I was created for more, I could take hold of my health. People ask me a lot what I do to stay healthy. I always start by telling them this: you cannot start until you are mentally ready. If you aren't mentally in the game, you will fail. Health and wellness all starts in the head. How you talk to yourself matters. The words you say in your head are your guide. They will either propel you into something better or bury you in a pit of failure. Get your head in the game first and everything else will follow.

The next thing I learned is that I can never be on a diet. Ever. Tell me I'm on a diet and watch me eat all the Oreos. I learned how to change the way I eat. I don't deny myself foods. I know what makes me feel good from the inside out so I work from there. I know I like veggies more than fruit so I don't force myself to eat apples when I would rather have mushrooms (I'm weird, I know.). I know processed foods aren't good for me, so I stay away. Carbohydrates like to bloat me, so I eat more protein than carbs. I utilize the information available to me and take things from programs like Whole30 and Paleo to guide me. I am also keenly aware of my weaknesses. This is why you won't find Doritos in my pantry. I will eat the entire bag. I make things easy and accessible or I will never follow through. Fruit and veggies are out and easy to grab in the fridge. I make sure I plan our meals (especially dinner) for the week. I found a pattern and routine in my eating that works for me and my schedule. If a recipe calls for a million things or wonky ingredients, I don't make it. If it isn't easy, I won't stick with it.

Exercise goes right along with eating right. Getting my food intake under control is about 80% of the battle. The other 20% is held by our nemesis: working out. I have ebbed and flowed in the area of exercise. I've been fully committed, partially committed, a absolutely over it. I do know, however, working out for me is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Some days I have to talk myself into getting off the couch. Other days, I cannot wait to get there. I am very competitive with myself and I do like to sweat. I adore my "gym family" and look forward to them pushing me. I don't force myself to work out a certain amount of days. I don't guilt myself into going. I just go. I found what I like to do at the gym and I do it. Sometimes I leave drenched in sweat. Other-times, I am barely out of breath. I just know that I feel better after I workout and I want that more than sitting on my behind. I equate working out with sex: I never regret doing it after its over (Heeheehee).

The last thing I have learned is that health and wellness cannot thrive until I fill my soul. This component has been a little tricky over the years. It's difficult to set time aside for a quiet moment with God when you are raising small ones. I knew I needed it; my soul craved this. But it took me until about two years ago to get into a healthy and consistent rhythm. While I LOVE Bible studies and devotionals, I have found that what feeds my soul most is researching and really digging in deep in the Scriptures. So, that's what I do. I find a topic or a book of the Bible and I dig in. I don't give myself a time limit on when I have to finish. I don't give myself a guilt trip if I miss a day. I do what I can when I can knowing that filling my spirit matters to my health.

So, there you have it. Health and wellness is a full body experience and it's different for everyone. You have to find your groove and stay in your lane. This is YOUR journey. There is no room for comparison. What she does next to you does not pertain to you. Don't start anything new until your head is in the game and you are ready to fight for your betterment. And, don't ever forget that you are worth it. You were created for a purpose on purpose. You are valuable. Your health matters because you matter. That should be reason enough to get started.

"Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Psalm 100:3

Love & Blessings,
Meg


For those curious, here's what a day looks like for me:
Coffee, water, and hard-boiled egg while I am getting the boys off to school
Do my Bible time after I get the kids off to school
workout in the morning (This varies from long walks to hardcore workouts. I walk my community, workout at my gym, and do workouts at home that I found on Pinterest)
I usually have a protein shake after my workout. I stick with plant-based ones making sure they do not have any soy. If it's the weekend, I may make an egg with sweet potato hash (just grate sweet potatoes and cook them in a cast iron skillet) and some veggies topped with avocado
Lunch is usually a salad or a bunch of veggies with some kind of meat (chicken salad that I make with avocado instead of mayo, salami, or something similar)
Dinner is typically a protein and some kind of veggie. If I do a carb, I use noodles made from legumes or rice. We also eat rice and potatoes. I typically plan my dinners for an entire week using Pinterest, my Paleo cookbook, and Pioneer Woman recipes. And let me say this, my boys eat what my husband and I eat. They always have. I know what they don't like, so I don't usually put that in the mix. But I don't have time to be making five different meals. Most of our dinners consist of five ingredients or less. Sheet pan dinners and rice are a fave on busy weeknights (pick a meat, cut up some veggies, throw it in the oven. Get a rice cooker and it will save your life. Best $14 I ever spent).
I drink a TON of water. I usually drink a bottle of water in the morning when I wake up to start my day.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Drop It

Release your expectations.

Redefine success.

Let go of dissapointment.

Drop the shoulds.

I listened to a podcast today and the last ten minutes were mind-blowing and so freeing. The guest said a few things in regards to motherhood that speak volumes to every single one of our lives. She said we need to release our expectations, redefine our successes, let go of our disappointments, and drop the shoulds we have for our lives. I think we know this but most of us aren't living it.

How absolutely freeing would it be for ourselves and those around us if we released our expectations? How unobstructed would our kids feel if we released our expectations of them? What would happen if we just let them play ball, color a picture outside of the lines, wore mismatched clothes? How would they behave if we released the unattainable expectations we place on our lives? What would our marriages look like if we released our spouse of our expectations and just allowed them to love us the best they knew how? What would your life look like if you just lived, unabashed, not caring what others thought of you or what you thought you had to do? Man, I see such freedom.

What if we decided to define success for our lives instead of what the world said success looked like? What if success meant we didn't take that promotion but chose our family instead? What if our child lasting a whole five minutes in a store before a meltdown ensued was seen as a success instead of a failure? Oh man. If we redefine what success looks like for our individual lives, we would be living much freer and less tightly wound.

What if we let those disappointments go like a balloon being released into the sky? Can you already feel that relief just thinking about this visual? I can. I may just go ahead and buy a balloon, write out my disappointments, and let them fly away high in the bright blue abyss. Disapointment is weighty and heavy. Letting them go feels light. I like light.

Oh how the shoulds of our lives can amputate us. We can go to bed at night exhausted and completely broken down because of all the shoulds we didn't do. What if we just let it all go; released it from our existence? What would that feel like? I bet I'd sleep a whole lot better at night.

I think we all crave freedom. We all desire to let go and be free of the expectations, the vying for success, the disappointments, and the should ofs. We desperately want this but hold onto these things with an iron-clad fist.

But, we can let it all go. We can have freedom. It's sitting right in front of us waiting for us to take it. He's right there.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

He calls us to allow him to take our burdens. He wants our unattainable expectations and missed successes. He wants to carry our disappointments and fill in the gaps where the should-ofs were never fulfilled. He's waiting for us to hand it over. Are you ready to give it to him?

Freedom is waiting.

Release your expectations.

Redefine success.

Let go of dissapointment.

Drop the shoulds.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Insecure

I got a text from a new friend wanting to meet for coffee. I replied with an enthusiastic yes excited to get to know my new neighbor a little better. Our sons have become fast friends and I wanted to get to know her.

And then the doubts started to roll in.

I started questioning why she wanted to meet me. Had my son done something while at their house that she wanted to talk to me about? Was this a meeting about something more serious? I couldn't just accept that this person wanted to get to know me and possibly a friendship. I had to let my crazy thoughts get in the way.

"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I ended up meeting her for coffee. I hid my crazy as best I could and went to the coffee shop. We talked for two hours. Never once did she say or do what I imagined. Our time was together was sweet. A new friendship seems to have been born and I may have missed it had I let my crazy override the logical.

I need friendships. I was created to fellowship with others. Sometimes, however, I miss it because of my insecurities. I don't think I am good enough, that my house isn't clean enough or pretty enough, or that I don't have anything to offer. I question myself and don't let people in.

When I do finally allow my crazy thoughts to subside and let people in, I almost always walk away blessed. And those rare moments when things don't work out, I walk away wiser having learned something from the relationship.

Jesus was all about relationship. He hung out with all sorts of people and didn't seem too concerned with their opinion of him. He calls me to similar relationship: relationships where he can be seen, heard, and felt. I have learned to let go of the insecurities and let him fill in the gaps. I push myself through the discomfort and into situations I know are meant for me. Because I know that the blessing in taking the risk in relationship far outweighs the negatives.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hatmaker

Let's talk Jen Hatmaker, shall we? If you have never heard of Hatmaker, she is a Christian author and speaker. She gained notoriety through some blog posts that went viral way back when. She is a good mix of funny and spiritual relating to the masses; especially moms. I started following her on social media years ago, have read some of her books, and seen her speak a few times. I enjoyed her style of humor, Bible, and approachable spirit.

Earlier this year, Hatmaker was under fire for an interview she did in which she changed her stance on marriage. She no longer held to the conviction that marriage should be between a man and a woman and came out in support of gay marriage. The Christian community lost their minds over this completely throwing Hatmaker under the bus and slamming on the gas pedal. It was bad. Really bad. Recently, she was scrutinized again for a Good Friday post she wrote on social media. The Christians once again went nuts over the fact that she compared her suffering to that of Christ's. It got ugly again.

I had numerous people message me and text me asking my opinion when she was first penalized for her change of position. I, like many, was a little shocked when I first read the article considering she had been quite staunch on staying true to her initial opinion of marriage. I read her article and a few that supported and opposed her. I read some of the supportive comments and nasty ones. I also read her husband's response to it all. It saddened me on so many levels. But, what saddened me the most was the reaction from the Christian community.

Let me state this clearly, this blog post is not in support of her changed stance on marriage. Nor, is it a place where I will chastise the Hatmakers or the Christians who slammed them. The focus of this blog entry is to talk about what we should do, what I do, when we are faced with these types of issues.

The outcry of the Christian public against Jen shouted much louder than her changed stance. The ugliest reverberated the walls of the internet into the homes of thousands. Conservatives, for the most part, were spewing hate-filled comments instead of respectful opposing dialog. Let's start here. While I do believe we should stand firm in our convictions and what we believe to be true, how we radiate these convictions to the world matters. There is a way to respectfully disagree with someone without stoning them to death in the public square. One thing that I hear repeatedly from non-church goers as I journey on this road of faith, is how hateful and hypocritical Christians can be. And you know what? I completely agree.

The moment a Christian or unbeliever steps outside the boundaries we have made culturally and through our bias, we attack. Instead of coming alongside our fellow sister in Christ, we throw daggers hoping to hit to destroy. For the most part, I think Christians' intentions are good. I believe those who spoke against Hatmakers changed outlook on marriage thought they were doing the right thing by standing against her. I also feel that many believers think it is their duty to speak out to help change the person and get them right with God. And this is where we fail.

It is not our responsibility, duty, or obligation to reconcile someone back to God. Let me say that again: it is not our responsibility, duty, or obligation to reconcile someone back to God.

Reconciliation for Jen Hatmaker, and anyone else for that matter, is between she and the Lord. Period.

When we take matters into our own hands "forcing" someone to reconcile with God, we are trying to play God removing our belief in the power of the Holy Spirit.

What do we do then? Well, I do believe we can speak our disagreement. However, it matters greatly how we present our argument. We don't live fearful of our disagreement. We don't chastise. We don't slander. We don't throw stones. If we are asked, we point to Scripture for that is where truth lies. We don't find the verse that best fits our argument. We develop our argument out of the Scriptures, all of the Scriptures, AND the context. We often remove context and surrounding verses in order to fit our needs making it our opinion not the truth of God. We gain freedom leaving the reconciling to God.

Then, we walk alongside our sister in Christ. We let her (or him) wrestle with God and his Word just as Jacob did in the Old Testament. That wrestling usually leads to good places. Believe that God will meet her in that space. Don't fear that a fellow believers questioning is going to lead people to hell. This whole fiasco led me to search the Scriptures even deeper. When I read Brandon Hatmaker's argument on their changed opinion, I didn't have a good rebuttal. So, I searched the Word, commentaries, and history to find my own stance. And you know what? It didn't lead me to a dark place. My faith was strengthened through my searching. Imagine that.

We also need to understand salvation. For some reason, us Christians have a list of requirements one must hold in order for our salvation to remain safe. If you veer off that list, you are damned to hell. Search yourself. Search your heart and see if you have a list. Hatmaker fell off that list as if she fell off a ledge into the Grand Canyon. Her new view on marriage voided her salvation in so many people's eyes. So, if I am looking into this Christian world from the outside and see this situation play out, I see that I have to understand the entirety of the Bible, understand every word and verse, and believe every bit of it to be saved. That's a tall order. Look, I will never fully understand the Word of God. I will die still holding onto so many unanswered questions. Does that negate my salvation? Absolutely not. I believe God sent his only Son, Jesus, to atone for my sins. I believe with all my heart he was raised on the third day to fulfill a prophecy and purpose so I may spend eternity with him. He doesn't call me to understand every ounce of the Scriptures before I can enter the pearly gates. He just calls me to believe.

We have got to stop trying to reconcile people to God. It is not our job to save them. It is, however, our job to love them. If Jen Hatmaker and her family came to Hope Fellowship church, I would save her a seat. If she wanted to tell me about her stance on marriage, I would invite the conversation listening more than talking so that I may understand her better. I would pray and allow the Holy Spirit to move in her in a powerful way. She is not a lost cause. If she is, than I am, too, and I don't like that calling on my life.

We need to love more. We need to trust God more. And we need to stop casting the first stone.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Love God. Change people...er...Love others.

We Christians love us a good Scripture reference. We like to tell you about our little catch phrases too. We have this one saying that I have heard a lot more recently. We tout ourselves as Christians who "Love God and Love Others." We derive this saying from Mark 12:30-31 which says, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

Sounds easy enough. How hard is it to love God and love others? Apparently, it's quite difficult.

I believe Christians honestly have good intentions when they try to love God and love others. I really do think we love God well, or, as well as our human selves can love the God of the universe. When it comes to loving others, I think we struggle a bit.

I was talking to a long-time friend a couple weeks ago. We were talking about the church and how its handled welcoming people who don't fit the mold. We were talking about how the church responds when someone walks through the door with arms filled with tattoos, or piercings, or ripped jeans. This friend is not your typical anglo-saxon buttoned-up Christian. She doesn't fit the picture of the Christian church. She made a statement that stuck with me that night. She said she teaches her children to love people as they come to them. Don't judge. Don't try and change. Just love them as they come.

That's it. This is how we love God and love others. We love people as they come to us. Period. The end.

I think we have convinced ourselves that in order to truly love others for God we must try and change them. We feel that forcing them into the Truth and enforcing the standards of the Bible we are loving them. If we don't do this, we are banishing them to hell. I think we try to change people before loving them because we are scared. We fear that if we don't tell them all the wrongs they need to make right, they won't make it to heaven. While well-intentioned, I can't say this feels like love.

When we choose to love others by trying to change them, we are not trusting the power of God in their lives. I get that we want better for the lives of the people around us. I understand the urgency to help them get to a better place. But, that is not what Jesus is calling us to do. He is calling us to love them and let him do the rest. He is urging us to walk alongside people shining brightly for him igniting a fire within their souls.

We mean well, us Christians. We really do. While there are some hate-filled people who claim to be believers, I do feel most Christians have good intentions. But, good intentions don't always lead people to a Savior. We have over-complicated this love thing. We have decided we are God and it is our duty to change the lives of those we love. We have confused loving others with saving others and quite frankly, it is not our job to do the saving.

We are just called to love. Thank goodness because I really don't want to be responsible for the saving. I feel so much pressure relieved when I just love. I don't need to have all the answers or the Scripture memorized to back it up. I just get to love and let Jesus do the rest. Whew. That feels good.

Jesus is calling us to love him and love his people. Leave the rest to him. Let those we love wrestle with the promptings of the Savior. Let the Spirit move about in their souls and lead them to redemption. The more we love, the more Jesus is seen.

Show a little more Jesus today. Love first.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, May 1, 2017

REPOST: Choked

**I felt a tug in my heart yesterday telling me to find this blog entry and repost it. I have heard countless stories of precious people suffering because of the silent killer that is anxiety. I believe we need to unearth the realities of this debilitating issue and start talking. Below is my journey. I, by no means, am an expert nor am I "all better." We all have our weaknesses; those battles we face over and over wishing we could just overcome. As much as I would love to will anxiety away and out of my life, it is here for the long haul. I am okay with accepting this because I know it keeps me close to my Savior. I hope this post encourages at least one of you. Know you are not alone.**


Four years ago, my eyes were opened to a major personality flaw. We had just sold our house and moved about twenty minutes away into an apartment. We were building another house and it wouldn't be ready for ten months. When we first entered this season, I was excited and thought it would be a nice change. Simpler is better became my mantra. And then it hit.

I had a two year old, three year old, six year old, ninety-pound one year old lab, and a traveling husband. We lived on the second floor. Managing a dog who needed to go out and babies that needed to get to the car with all their stuff was a challenge. If you have skeletons in your closet that you are trying to stuff away, they will appear at the very worst times: like when you are living in a very small space dealing with the stress of parenting, building, and having your teammate gone.

We moved into the apartment in August and I felt the change in me that October. I remember a friend coming over one night when my husband was away and I completely broke down in my kitchen. I mean, I lost it. She hugged me and told me I could do this when I told her I couldn't. I felt exhausted, worn down, and worn out. I was so filled with anxiety that it was choking me.

"As for what was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." Matthew 13:22

I am a Christian. I believe in a Savior who leads me into peace. My entire faith is built on hope. And I had none. I was hopeless and didn't know how to dig myself out of my anxious hole. I felt like I was in too deep and all alone. No one talks about this silent issue and it's time we opened our mouths. You know what kept me there? I told myself I know better and should do better. I thought I was stronger than this and it destroyed me to know that I couldn't get myself out. I felt shamed. Choked.

Through the help of friends, my husband, family, and lots and lots of prayer, I made it through that season. As much as I wish I didn't have to go through that, I am so thankful that skeleton came out and scared me. If it hadn't, I would have continued to stuff leading me who knows where.

I still struggle with anxiety from time to time. Nothing like I dealt with before, but it's still there. When I feel it, I get those feelings of inadequacy again. Why can't I just overcome? And then I read Matthew 13:22.

I was in the Word. I am in the Word. I pray. I believe in Jesus. I know the truth. Yet, I allow the cares of this world to choke my faith. I allow the weeds and thorns to infiltrate the garden God is building in me and I can't breath. This verse was EYE OPENING. Matthew 13:22 is my freedom.

Interesting that in all the years I have read Matthew 13:22 I have never given much time to this verse. Until today. God knew I couldn't process this verse until the right time. Four years later. He knew I needed to experience a time when I could barely get one foot in front of the other so I could realize I needed to fully rely on Him. I needed a season where I couldn't breath so I could allow Him to be my breath. I couldn't see what that verse had to say until I experienced what I had to experience.

"If you continue to let the stress and worries of this world choke His instruction, then you will live everyday without peace. You have effectively decided that your stress trumps God's power to answer." Angela Thomas.

WHAT?!?!?! This is life changing. How long am I going to let stress trump God's power? My answer today is NEVER. His power is stronger than my stress or anxiety. He is stronger than anything we can face. His Word says is again and again. He tells us not to fear 365 times in the Bible. So, what on earth am I fearing? God's power TRUMPS my stress not the other way around.






I know these things. It's time I believe them. It's time I believe Him. No longer will I allow the stresses, worries, and anxieties of this life choke His truths. They are stronger.

This is not the post I had in mind to write today. This post wasn't even on my radar. I already wrote a post entitled, "Crippling," awhile back and thought I covered this topic. But, I feel like someone needs to hear this today.

I am not healed. I don't think I ever will be. Like Paul says, this may be my thorn in my side. I need to be reminded that I need Him and I need to be reminded that He is stronger. You are perfect even in your weakness. Know that He is stronger today. Thus, YOU are stronger.

"...or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 12:7-10 (Emphasis mine)

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dear Harsh World: Please be more kind.

Sometimes, when I need a break, I watch Big Bang Theory. The characters are hilarious and one reminds me so much of one of my boys. On one episode, Sheldon and Leonard have to divide assets. Their years of being roommates has come to an end. Sheldon doesn't want to part with anything. He has a plethora of excuses as to why he should keep all the things. In order to excuse his selfish behavior, he told Leonard he skipped kindergarten so he never learned how to share. I thought that sounds like our world. We never seemed to learn how to share.

We live in a big wide world. That world houses billions of people. This big wide world is not solely yours or solely mine. I think we get that. But, I don't think we are living that. Instead of living arms wide open, we are living selfishly. Like Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory, we didn't learn how to share.

Sharing for us these days means you live like me, act like me, speak like me, and talk like me. When you do those things, I can share this world with you. If you don't, I get really angry and frustrated snapping at the smallest of offenses.

"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

I think we live out James 1:19 backwards. We are quick to become angry and slow to listen. We snap before a person can get a word in. We jump on others without having all the facts or understanding their situation.

I was in the carpool line after school the other day. We all know carpool is in and of itself its own kind of beast. I was temporarily blocking one of the streets in the neighborhood where my boys' go to school. The mama in front of me had been enjoying the silence in her car by reading a magazine and didn't realize the car ahead of her had moved up leaving me stuck blocking an entrance. I was maybe there for 10-15 seconds. While stopped, a man pulled up. He rolled down his window, pushed his baseball cap up on his head, honked, and began to berate me for blocking his path. He did not get me two seconds to even move. He just immediately lost all his cool trying to instigate an argument with me yelling at me to roll my window down. People, we all know carpool can get a little crazy but OH MY WORD. How on earth do we go from zero to sixty at warp speed?

This man has not left my mind. I smiled and waved at him and then looked away not wanting to further antagonize the situation. I am sure that further frustrated him. It made me wonder what his home looked like; what his daily life entailed. Did he live his life so angry all the time or was this his one and only pet peeve that sets him off? I wondered how such a minor incident escalated so rapidly into such anger.

I feel like our world has become a lot like the carpool line. One person gets out of line and we lose our cool like nobody's business. We have determined that we have been exponentially wronged and that person must immediately pay for their injustice.

This is not the way God intended us to live. He desires us to live life in abundance (John 10:10). Letting a Facebook post send you off the edge of the cliff is not a life of abundance. It's a life of poverty of the soul. We are so easily offended, so easily angered at the drop of a hat, and our children are watching our every move.

Some things, most things, just aren't worth getting that upset over. My boys were bickering over something this morning. I can't even remember what it was it was so minor. I remember getting in the car telling them that while it is good to fight for certain things, some things just aren't worth getting that upset over (like the carpool line).

I have a mantra I wrote on my Instagram bio and have made it our family anthem; my life anthem, really.

Find wonder.
Rest in mercy.
Give grace.
Be kind.
Love relentlessly.

We need to find the wonder in others again. We need to value people more than ourselves and know that they are just trying to make it through this life like us.

When we rest in mercy for ourselves, we are much more generous in giving it out to others. Give yourself a little mercy today so you can give it out more freely to others.

Grace. Oh, how we all need grace. Again, the more grace we give to ourselves, the more willing we will be to give it to others. Through grace out like candy on Halloween. Grace never expires. There is an unlimited supply. For you. For me. And especially for those who "wrong" you.

Be kind. People, just be nice. When we get frustrated and all tensed up because someone wronged us, the only person who suffers in that equation is you. I went picked up my precious boys, went home, and had an incredible evening with my husband, kiddos, and a few friends. I can't imagine what that angry gentleman went home to. A smile and a kind word goes a LONG way. Use both today.

When Jesus came to this earth he absolutely turned it upside down. He loved in a way that seemed so backwards. But, when you look at his ministry, you see a love that is so freeing not only for ourselves but for those we give it to. Find freedom today by loving others; especially those that don't deserve it. I promise you'll feel a freedom from the inside out.

Our world can be unrelenting, cold, and harsh. But your four corners don't have to be. In every situation you have a choice: will I choose kindness or an abrasive spirit? Kindness sets you free. Abrasiveness entraps you.

Today, find wonder, rest in mercy, give grace, be kind, and love relentlessly.

To a world more kind!

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Donuts & Cheeseburgers

Donut.
Kolache.
Cheesy Potato Casserole.
Greek Salad with lots of dressing.
Cheeseburger.
French Fries.

I had a day. A few weeks ago I had quite a day with food. I usually eat pretty well taking in lots of fruits, veggies, and unprocessed foods. But not this day. This day I went out with a bang. And then I paid for it the next day.

I wrote a blog post about feeling depleted a few days ago. I wrote about when I had forgotten about myself in the midst of the chaos of raising small children. It's easy to do: forgetting about yourself. As the boys got older, I realized I had to start taking care of me in order to enable myself to fully care for them and their needs. This revelation has changed my life for the better but let me tell you, it's not easy.

Many could look at my life from the outside and think about how good I have it. They are right but that's not the full story. Yes, I have three healthy, smart, respectful, and dare I say, handsome young men. I am married to my best friend and actually like being around the guy...like a whole lot. We live in a beautiful home and are financially secure (for the moment). I have wonderful friends and a village that supports and loves us. For an outsider, things look pretty good for me.

All this goodness is only because of God. I will say, however, God is not a vending machine. I don't pray my prayers and live according to his rules in order to be blessed. I can't sit in my rocking chair on my porch waiting for the check to pay our mortgage to show up in the mail. God does and has blessed me immensely but, that doesn't mean it hasn't and doesn't take work on my end.

The day after I ate a smorgasbord of foods I felt awful. All that one-time yumminess did not sit well. I knew I needed to get myself back in line with my food game and stat. Because I went through a season (well, many seasons actually) of feeling depleted, I was able to find my triggers. Once I realized what provoked depletion and exhaustion in me, I could attack those things at the root changing my physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being at its root.

You see, my life is blessed because I choose to live that way. Not everything is perfect all the time. Life is as good as you choose it to be regardless of circumstances. When I am feeling depleted or like everything is crashing in on me, I give myself a welfare check looking for my triggers to see if one is off-kilter.

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well."
Psalms 139:14

I am made uniquely by a divine Creator with a purpose and for a purpose. When I realize that I am more valuable than the way I am living, I begin to shift my perspective. It is then that I can see that I need to fix the depletion in my life whether that be spiritual, emotional, or physical. It's not always easy looking at that reflection in the mirror identifying weakness and working to change them but in the end, you will be blessed.

I had a day where I paid the price for my food choices. I allotted myself a moment to enjoy the finer things in life (like donuts) and then reigned it back in knowing if I continued down that path I would feel depleted physically. It was a conscious choice I had to make in order to better myself, my surroundings, and the life he has given me to live.

We can look at the outsides of everyone's lives and think they have it all figured out; that they are blessed and we are not. But, if we do that we miss the awesome awareness that life truly is a journey and we are all trudging our way through.

Living a blessed life is not a bad thing. It's a choice. I used to be extremely envious when I'd see others blessed more than me. I would judgmentally think they didn't deserve it. At least they didn't deserve it more than me. And then I realized what a jerk I was for thinking that. I have no idea how hard people work on the inside in order to live a blessed life on the outside. Every day is a choice. I can choose to live depleted ignoring the triggers that exhaust me. Or, I can choose to work hard every day choosing life and life abundantly instead.

Look, living a blessed life doesn't mean we all get to live an easy life. It means we put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get to that place giving ourselves a whole heck of a lotta grace in between.

We all need to remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a divine Creator to do great and mighty things. We just need to team up with him and do our part.

To a life more blessed.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Truth-Telling

I cannot lie. Well, I take that back. I have an extremely difficult time lying. If I lie about something, it sticks with me tormenting my soul until I finally break and tell the truth. Most of the time, this is a good quality: being honest. Sometimes, however, the truth isn't always what people want to hear.

The other night I was laying on my son's bed chatting with him before he went to sleep. Somehow we got on the topic of me and his dad's dating relationship. I briefly mentioned the two break-ups we had and my boy wouldn't let them go. He needed details and needed to know why we broke up. Well, this entailed me divulging some pretty hefty stuff that may be hard for a ten year old to wrap his head around. But, being the honest Annie that I am, I couldn't lie. So, out came the truth.

We ended up having an amazing conversation and an even more incredible moment. He asked questions. I answered in the most appropriate way I knew how. I kept things general but didn't sugar coat anything. He asked me a curious question in the midst of our talk. He asked if I ever thought about hiding the information I had shared with him. I think he knew the weight of what I was telling him and he wondered if I ever thought to keep it all a secret. Well, he obviously doesn't know his mama well enough to know that it would eat my alive inside if I tried to hide this part of our story from him so of course I told him that I would never try to cover things up.

We finished our conversation and I kissed him goodnight. He asked to stay up for a few minutes to read. I complied. I went downstairs to make lunches thankful for a little peace and quiet. As I was finishing up their turkey and cheese sandwiches, I heard a bedroom door squeak. It was my son wanting to let me know again that he loved me. We both said our goodnights and off to dreamland he went.

The next morning my boy must have told me he loved me a dozen times. Here and there throughout the morning, he would grant me a sweet, "I love you." He is an affectionate kid but never to this extent. He's a preteen. The I love you's aren't as prosperous.

After he left for school, I savored his sweetness and realized our conversation must have had a larger impact on him than I thought. I became aware that honesty between parent and child matters. Telling our kids the truth builds trust and respect at a high level. And I want that. All of it.

My husband and I have never been ones to skirt the truth with our kids. We have always given them explanations for things even when it may have gone over their heads. Of course our honesty is modified based on their age. We may not give full details until they are older and can handle the information coming their way but we have never shied away from telling the truth.

Our kids need to know our stories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. They don't need gruesome details but they do need to know that we made and make mistakes, too; that we survived and got through bad decisions and challenges.

I gained the respect of my son by telling him the truth. I added a little more trust to our relationship by not shying away from a difficult conversation. We like to talk a lot about how our kids need to respect us but we need to respect them just as much. Honesty goes a long way in building that trust and respect in the parent-child relationship.

I foresee many more uncomfortable conversations in our future especially since he is entering the teen years soon. And he needs to know: he needs to know that mom and dad made mistakes and had to dig themselves out of pits sometimes. I look forward to these talks. I also enjoy the "I love yous" that come after it.

Keep telling the truth. Honesty matters. Especially with our kids.

"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." Proverbs 24:26

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, April 24, 2017

Opinions

What we believe about our children matters greatly. Our beliefs about who they are and the make-up of their character can have a positive or negative impact on the trajectory of their lives. I have seen and learned this first-hand.

Many moons ago when one of my boys was a toddler and preschooler, I had someone in my life who spoke what I thought were "truths" about my child into my life. I trusted this person immensely. She was an integral part of my life and my child's life. Because of this trust in the friendship, my views of my son were changed, and not for the better.

When this kiddo was about two and a half to four, he was impulsive. Instead of using his words when he was "wronged," he would sometimes react physically. He was exceptionally smart and would sometimes question authority. The words this friend spoke about my child were negative but I believed them to be out of concern at the time. Descriptors like bully, mean, violent, and the like were used to describe my child. And I believed them. These words were spoken to me and behind my back to other mamas whose kids we interacted with. I will never forget reading an article in Parents magazine about bullying. It was quickly becoming the buzz word at the time. I could not shake the fear that my son was becoming a bully. I remember thinking I would be in the principal's office repeatedly for my son's actions the following year when he entered kindergarten. All because I believed the words of one person instead of seeing who my son truly was.

One beautiful afternoon, I sat outside with this child. We blew bubbles and he played in the kiddie pool. It was a perfect moment between mother and son. I watched his inquisitive nature shine when he saw what he called "interesting bugs." I got lots of hugs, kisses, and "I love you mama." I saw my child for who he was instead of being tainted by what another said about him. I saw his intellect and need for explanation when he did something wrong. He wasn't being disrespectful to authority. He just needed to know why. When others wronged him and he acted impulsively, it wasn't because he was a bully. It was because he was a feeler and his little heart was broken when someone wronged him. Because of this, he didn't have the maturity or capacity to verbalize his feelings so he reacted physically. He wasn't this monster this other mom made him out to be. No. He was a child who needed direction, guidance, and love. I felt a freedom to love my child in a way I hadn't felt in a very long time. I realized in that moment that I was no longer going to define my children by the opinions of another. I was going to see them for who God created them to be and nothing less.

I feel like we do this a lot as mothers. We listen to what the world has to say about our kids, what our village says, what our family says, and we lose sight of our own vision of our child. While the people around us do help us with our children and we do need them, they are not the authority on our kids and it's time we start living that way.

I didn't believe in my child because I believed the words of another about him more. That breaks me; shatters my heart into a million pieces. But, it also propels me to see and to love my child for exactly who he is and who God created him to be, flaws and all, more deeply now that I am on the other side.

I had an incredible moment with this child last night before bed. It's one of those moments that will stick with me until I am old and gray. I saw his heart that is bigger than the entire universe. I saw the deep compassion he has for others. I witnessed how intensely this kid loves. It was glorious. It was amazing. It was a blessing I may have missed had I let the opinion of another taint my view of my own kid.

While I wish I never allowed someone else's opinion of my child impact me in such a deep and negative way, I am thankful for it. Now that I am on the other side, I get to see my children in a profound way. Instead of freaking out when they exhibit negative behaviors, I stand firm in their true character that is more deeply rooted than bad decisions. I get to love them through the hard stuff instead of losing my cool terrified they are going to wind up in prison someday.

Your village matters when it comes to parenting but they aren't the authority. Don't let other's opinions of your children shape your view of them. We were specifically and uniquely created to love, guide, and teach these little people. We know them best. It's time we start believing our own intuitions instead of other's judgments. Our children deserve it.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Person.

I think I've figured Jesus out. I've always equated his ability to have people turn from their sinful lives to one of fullness following him to the fact that he is God. I mean, it's hard to tell God no when he's hanging out right in front of you. But, I think there's more to it.

Jesus saw the person first. He knew their need for the Gospel before they could change. When he looked at the people he encountered, he saw the whole person. He could have easily begun his conversation with them by calling them out. He could have pinned them for their sin and called it a day. But he didn't. Instead, he saw them as a person who he loved rather than a compilation of their sins.

I think that may be what we are missing in the church today: the global church. We are quick to label people by their wrongs instead of seeing them as a person of value. We miss the opportunity to share the Gospel because we start with their rap sheet.

We need permission before entering into someone's life. We can access by starting with the Gospel.

It's easy to see some people's sin. The carry it out loud as if they are toting a scarlet letter. We can easily identify the sins of the drug addict, the drunkard, the adulterous, and the like. But, what if we all wore our sins? What if the world could see our daily wrongs and it we didn't have such easy access to the Gospel: to that life-changing love-filled message of hope and redemption? What if those that came into our lives immediately read off our list of sins instead of treating us with love and respect? How would we feel?

Sadly, we do this so often we don't even know it's happening. We enter each other's lives and start with the record of wrongs instead of the message of hope.

People mattered to Jesus. They mattered so much he was tattered, torn, beaten, mocked, and hung on a cross. He chose to see the person first. This led them to experience the Gospel in a life-altering way. I think it's time we start there, too. We start by seeing the person and showing the Gospel.

Give grace. Be kind. Love relentlessly.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bare Bones

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

Love God.

Love Others.

Seems easy enough. Yet, we muck this up quite often.

I want to get back to the bare bones of Jesus. I want to strip away all the man-made garbage and get down in the grit of who Jesus really is when we strip away religion, legalism, opinion, theories, and commentaries.

So many have turned away from God and the church. They are done with the judgment, over the hype, bored of the scripted sermons. I get it. I get them. We've covered up the good stuff with a lot of fluff.

I want to get back to the bare bones of Jesus.

I am currently studying the Book of Revelation. This doesn't seem to be a good place to go when one is searching for the stripped down version of Jesus. But, I would argue this is the perfect place to start.

What it all comes down to is this: How am I loving God and how well do I love others?

When John writes about the churches in Revelation, he relays the same message: How are these churches loving God and how well are they serving those around them? Some (two of the churches) are doing alright. The other five? Not so well. They lose sight of God and sway others in a harmful direction.

I want the world to see the bare bones of Jesus. I want to strip away what we have made Him out to be and get back to who He said He was: the Way, the Truth, and the Light (John 14:6). I want to get back to how He lived: serving others above Himself (John 13:1-17).

I want to get back to the bare bones of Jesus.

I believe our world would be far less complicated if we got back to the bare bones of Jesus. Our relationships would be far less messy. Our purpose, that much clearer.

It's time to strip away the man-made layers we've laid over our Savior and get back to the bare bones.

Love God.

Love Others.

The End.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hostage

'About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split'
Matthew 27:46-(emphasis mine)

I have heard the "Easter" story numerous times. I know the intricate details of Jesus' death and resurrection. I have read the account over and over throughout my years as a Christian. It's interesting to me, then, how one particular word jumped out at me this year. Of all the times I have heard this message, I have never paid attention to this particular word. Until now.

Paradino. (Greek)

Release.

Hand over.

Our family watched The Passion of the Christ together for the first time this year. As I watched (well, grimaced) as Jesus hung bloodied on the cross painfully breathing his last breaths, I heard him cry out to the Father that it was finished and then he did something: he released his spirit. I have read over this a hundred times and never gotten it. This year, however, that word got me.

Jesus had all the power in the universe to release his spirit at any time. He could have let his spirit go as he was being beaten and whipped. He could have released his spirit as they hammered the nails into his hands and feet. He could released his spirit the moment they rose the cross upright. Over and over again, Jesus had the power to release his spirit. Yet, he held on. Even though he was fully God and fully man having the power to release his spirit at any time, he didn't let go until he knew his purpose and the prophecy was fulfilled.

The moment Jesus released his spirit, the world changed forever. The power of that hand over created a great earthquake, an unusual darkness as the sun forbear to shine, and the Temple curtain to be torn in two. The power of that release was immeasurable and forever changed the fate of man.

This got me to thinking. What am I holding onto that I need to release? What do I need to hand over? What power needs to be let out when I finally let go of what I am gripping so tightly?

There is power in the release; the hand-over. Paradino. We stay tight-fisted for far too long limiting the power of God in our lives.

What do you need to release today? What are you gripping so fervently that needs to be handed over. What is holding you hostage? Remember, the moment Jesus released his spirit, the world was forever changed. Your life can be forever changed when you let go.

Paradino.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Depleted

When the boys were younger, the last thing I thought about was myself. I was so busy keeping children alive that I lost myself. So many people needed me ALL. THE. TIME. I got caught up in feedings, diaper changes, play dates, dirty dishes, toys that needed to be put away, laundry that needed to be folded, and a husband who needed some attention too. I also got caught up in helping friends outside our home, so-much-so, that I fell into bed most nights completely exhausted and depleted.

I lived in this cycle of depletion for a few years. Thankfully, God is full of grace, mercy, and patience allowing me a season of discovery that led me to a place of fulfillment rather than frustration.

The first thing that happened was I refocused my time, efforts, and energy back into my home. I accepted the season I was in (raising babies) and allowed myself the freedom to say no to things. This didn't sit well with some and I did lose some friendships. However, the reward of freedom I felt lifting others' burdens off my plate that I was not meant to carry at that time was worth it. I still remember the first time I hung with my family without the looming need to run and help someone else. The stress and anxiety was lifted and I was able to just be with my people. There is definitely a time and a place to serve others. During this time, though, I know I was called to serve in my home first and I was not doing that. When I made space for my family first, God blessed mightily even though there was a cost.

Once I refocused my attention from the needs to the outside world back to the world within my four walls, I was able to serve my children and husband fully and completely. This allowed me to release the tension of needing to be ALL things to ALL people enabling me to be fully present for my family. In doing so, I allowed Him to fill my cup taking away those feelings of exhaustion, stress, and anxiety leading to a less depleted state of being.

I knew during this time, the time when my boys were really little, that I needed an escape. I needed something for me to recharge and regroup. One of those things happened to be exercise. When I was pregnant with my third, I got the crazy idea to run a half marathon. I had always loved running. Getting outside, putting my earbuds in, and running has always been therapeutic. So, once I was cleared to exercise, off I went. I gave myself a TON of grace starting off slow going on walks while pushing the boys in the stroller and gradually worked my way up. We all benefited from being outside. Fresh air can work wonders on one's soul. I ended up completing the half marathon and vowed to make exercise a priority. Like I said, working out really isn't about getting skinny for me. Instead, it's an outlet for my mind, body, and soul; a release of all life's tensions.

The last area I knew needed my attention was my spiritual walk. Finding time to be quiet with the Lord when your kids are small is like trying to swim against the current. It's next to impossible. Us Christians like to talk about our fancy "quiet time." I'm not sure where this term came from, but it sure knows how to put the pressure on. I had an early riser, (I'm talking waking up between 5am-5:45am) so waking up early was out of the question. By the time I crawled into bed at night, I was too tired to comprehend anything. I had to find a way to fill my soul that worked for me. This meant that I went against the grain and read a verse in the middle of the day when my kids were occupied for thirty seconds. Or, I listened to worship music. I would pray when I could and didn't over commit or set my expectations too high. Again, I accepted where I was at and worked with the situation. I knew one day (all too) soon, those quiet moments with the Lord would be less sporadic and more regular.

So, what I am trying to say? I think we are all depleted on some level. We are missing out on a filled soul because we've lost focus. We are too busy serving, doing, being leaving our souls empty. I thought the season of raising three babies would go on forever. Because of this, I had to find a way to do more than just survive. Without sounding too cliche, I knew I needed to feed my mind, body, and spirit. When one of those gets off, I break down.

I learned during that time that I matter. If I don't tend to myself, than I am no good to anyone else. I know when I am getting depleted. I have learned my markers; my warning signs. When I get too busy and start to eat junk because its easy to grab, my energy level tanks. When I take off some days at the gym, the tension sneaks in and I lose my patience more easily. Those nights when I tell myself to watch just one more episode, I pay for it the next day and sometimes the next. When the needs of others come before the needs of my family, I am not the only one who loses. There are four other people who are negatively effected. And when I don't give my time to God, the day slips away leaving me to miss the grace and the blessings that were so readily available had I given time to see it.

I don't want to live a depleted life. I don't want to just survive each day. I want to live and live to the fullest. In order for me to do so, I've got to get my mind, body, and spirit in line. I matter. And so do you. Don't forget about yourself. You are valuable...to yourself, to your family, to your friends, and to this world.

"Love of God overflow
Permeate all my soul
Fill me up God"
Casey J (Lyrics to Fill Me Up)

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, April 14, 2017

I watched Passion of the Christ with my kids. Here's how it went...

I got the crazy idea to watch The Passion of the Christ with my boys on this Good Friday. From the moment I saw the film, I knew I wanted my children to see it and I didn't even have any kids when the movie first came out. We can never know the brevity of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. This movie gives us a small glimpse into that reality and that's what I wanted my kids to see: reality. Not some fairy tale.

My boys are about to all bump up a year. We are heading into birthday season. But, right now they are six, seven, and ten. They have gone to church since they were in my belly. They know who Jesus is and what he did for us. My biggest concern, I think I can speak for both my husband and I on this, is that our children's faith will be because of mom and dad and not their own. I think I fear this more than I fear them walking away from God all together. I want Jesus to be real to them. I want them to feel him in their guts. I knew this movie would be a stepping stone to get them there.

Let me start by saying that I was somewhat terrified that I may scar my children for life by showing them such a graphic film. That, or they will have nightmares for forever. I was apprehensive and held my breath during certain scenes. But, let me just tell you, if you want Good Friday to be real to you, watch this film through the eyes of your children.

I had one kiddo fall asleep almost instantly. I need to give this kid some grace though. We were all up extremely late due to a sleepover last night and the boys woke up this morning before the rooster crows. I am surprised any of us lasted past 6pm tonight.

Another child, my thinker, watched and was not horrified. Instead, he accepted what Jesus did almost in a way of completely understanding the fact that this absolutely had to happen to dissolve us all of our sins. Like, he completely got it on an academic and theological level (totally his dad). I do think his seeing Jesus' body tattered and torn will be forever etched in his memory, just in a different way than maybe I see it. And you know what? That is the most incredible thing to me because its HIS.

My last boy lost it. And when I say lost it, I mean he was sobbing uncontrollably at parts. Full body convulsions with guttural sobs (this is his mama in him). Watching Jesus being beaten and hung on the cross absolutely wrecked this kid. My heart was ripped right out of my chest. Watching him come to the realization of the gravity of what his Savior did for him because he loved him that much was the most gut-wrenching yet overwhelmingly amazing moment. Seriously. Besides my own salvation, marrying my husband, and birthing my children, this moment is one of the most sacred moments of my life.

I didn't know what I'd get showing my boys this movie but I am glad I did. Good Friday never looked so sacred before in my life. I have fasted on Good Friday, gone to church, spent time in the Bible and in prayer but nothing has compared to watching my children see their Savior do what he did for them, for me, for you.

I wonder if this is what Jesus feels when we finally wrap our heads around the magnitude of what he did for us; what we can wrap our little human minds around anyway. I honestly believe our children teach us more about faith than most things. Tonight was no different. I go to bed feeling completely wrecked but so very whole all at the same time.

Oh, how I pray that my boys' faith doesn't stop in this moment. Rather, I pray it's a catalyst for a deep and wide faith relationship with their precious Savior who loved them so much that he was ravaged for them. I pray that they may find an exorbitant amount of hope knowing they weren't meant to live in Friday: that they may relish in knowing Sunday's coming.

I pray this for you, too. That if you don't know a Savior that loves you so much he would give his life for you, that you may find him. I pray for those searching to find the One who seeks and saves the lost. I pray that Jesus may be so very real to all of us and that Easter is every day not just once a year.

Sunday's Coming.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Heathens

Welcome to the room of people
Who have rooms of people that they loved one day
Docked away
Just because we check the guns at the door
Doesn't mean our brains will change from hand grenades
You're lovin' on the psychopath sitting next to you
You're lovin' on the murderer sitting next to you
You'll think, how'd I get here, sitting next to you?
But after all I've said, please don't forget

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse
All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse
~Heathens by 21 Pilots

My oldest son loves 21 Pilots. Anytime he gets in my car he turns on their music. The other day, on the way to church, we changed the song from, "This is amazing grace" to "Heathens" by 21 Pilots. We all had a good laugh because that seemed like quite a jump. And then my husband said something interesting. He mentioned that Jesus probably would have liked the song because, quite frankly, it talks about the type of people Jesus hung out with.

Jesus defied all rules, regulations, stigmas, and opinions in order to be near the heathens. He befriended the tax collector who really was a thief, the harlot, the lowly fisherman, the betrayer, the sick, the wounded, the ugly, and the messy. He easily could have chosen the religious leaders but he didn't. Instead, he spent his time with the heathens.

He sat down next to the murderer, the psychopath, the adulterer and showed them grace. He gave them time and took it slow showing them love and tenderness, all the while, teaching them about the overwhelming grace that awaited them on the other side of redemption. He wasn't afraid of what others' might think. He didn't change seats when the one who sinned so badly sat down next to him. Nope. Instead, he stayed and he showed the heathen that he mattered.

It is Holy Week: the week we remember all the things that happened, had to happen, and the prophecy fulfilled leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This week we remember that one of Jesus' closest friends would betray him leading him to his death. But, Jesus loved him anyway. We learned that one of Jesus' inner circle would deny knowing him. Yet, Jesus loved him anyway. We saw Jesus share a meal with a bunch of known heathens entrusting the Gospel with these men because he loved them. He knew their pasts would be redeemed on an old rugged cross so he loved them despite their shady life stories.

Jesus loved the heathen. Do we? Jesus was beaten, torn, and hung for the heathen. He shared meals, spent valuable time with, and sacrificed his life for the heathen. Do we?

I think we easily forget that we were once that heathen. We find salvation and forget our story. We leave it behind burying deep under the earth hoping no one will find our crazy. In doing so, we forget about the rest of the heathens that don't yet know they have access to a Savior that loves them so.

Jesus came for the heathen. He took it slow and made sure to take a seat next to them. He didn't point out their heathenness because he didn't have to. They already knew their story. He loved. He extended grace. He spoke dignity into their lives giving them a fresh hope. Are we doing the same?

Holy Week is as good a time as any to reflect and ask ourselves if we are loving the heathen, this world, well. It's a good time to reflect on Jesus, his life, why he came, and who he came for reminding ourselves that EVERYONE matters to God. EVERY. SINGLE. HUMAN. MATTERS. They matter to him. So they should matter to us.

Rest in mercy. Give grace. Be kind. Love relentlessly.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Who is God?

I Am
Yaweh (Self-Existent/Eternal)
Adonai (Lord over all)
Yahweh-Maccaddeshem (Sanctifier)
Yahweh-Rohi (Shepherd)
Yahweh-Shammah (Present)
Yahweh-Rapha (Healer)
Yahweh-Tsidkenu (Righteous)
Yahweh-Jireh (Provider)
Yahweh-Nissi (Our Banner/Covering)
Yahweh-Shalom (Peace-Maker)
Yahweh-Sabbaoth (Lord of Hosts)
Yahweh-Ghmolah (Recompense)
Elohim (Creator)
El-Elyon (Most High)
El-Gibhor (Mighty)
El-Olam (Everlasting)
El-Roi (Strong one/Sees all)
El-Shaddai-Rohi (Almighty)
El-Chuwl (Gave birth...to our lives: Our Father/Creator)
El-Deah (All wisdom)
Attiyq Youm (Ancient of Days/Eternal)

This is just a small list of all the names of God. The Bible holds countless descriptors for God. But, I ask the question: Who is God to you? Being that it is Holy Week, discovering and discussing who God is seems hugely appropriate.

Some say he is this far off entity that has no bearing on our lives. Others believe he is a mystical figure. While others think he is the ultimate judge who only displays his wrath on this wretched earth. Some feel he is relational and with us always. If we were to poll people on the streets, I am sure we would get a plethora of descriptors for who God is. But, who is he really?

Have you ever stepped out of your faith, or non-faith, and evaluated your vision of God? How did you attain those opinions? How did you arrive at your depiction of God? Is God who he says he is or who you say he is?

I think if many of us wrote out our description of God, we would list many of the same descriptors used in the Bible. I also believe we would have many adjectives on their that aligned with who we want God to be in our lives.

Have you ever seen a painting of Jesus? Jesus is God in human form so we can use this example cohesively with this topic. The renderings of Jesus tend to veer toward the white man. While he was born and raised in the Middle East, Jesus looks more American than he does Middle Eastern. He looks safe and very comfortable to many. Cameras were not around way back in Jesus' day so its safe to say that we don't have a true picture of what Jesus actually looked like. The paintings and drawings we see today are others' depictions of how they thought Jesus looked.

Do we do the same thing with God?

Oftentimes, our depictions of God is how we want him to look and doesn't encompass the wholeness of our mighty God. Our views and visions of God are limited so they may fit in the parameters of our lives. It's easier this way. It's more comfortable. It's safe. Whether good or bad, we can wrap our minute human minds around our personal perception of God.

In doing this, however, we limit the God of the universe exponentially. We put boundaries on a God that is eternal; the Alpha and Omega. We miss that he really is the Lord of ALL. We miss his sanctification in our lives, his covering, his peace, his knowledge, peace, and provision. While we choose safety in our renderings of God, we miss his awesome power.

God is bigger, wider, and deeper than anything anyone of us can understand. He is immense; vast yet so very personal. He is the Ancient of Days yet knows every hair on our heads. He is the Sustainer of the ENTIRE universe and, at the same time, hears our most desperate prayers.

God is Yaweh, the First and the Last, the Ancient of Days. He is beyond my compression but my closest relationship. God does not belong in my visions. Instead, I fall into His.

God is greater.
God is higher.
God is near.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Plans

Give my husband and I a personality test and we will always score completely opposite. It doesn't matter what test you give us. He is always on one side and I am always on the other. I don't know how we work together so well, but we do. I guess we bring truth to the saying, "opposites attract." He is not a planner. I mean, he makes plans but doesn't need them. Ironically, in his line of work, he is a planner. I, on the other hand, need a plan. I need to know what's coming next. I need to order and organize everything. I get itchy when I don't know what's happening. I thrive on order.

Lately, however, probably within the past few years, I have accepted and begun to enjoy not knowing what's coming next. I enjoy living in today with the anticipation of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. It's exciting and quite frankly, more restful than worrying about tomorrow's agenda.

'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.' Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Like a lot of Christians, Jeremiah 29:11-14 holds a special place in my heart. The verse brings peace and stability in a chaotic world. I like knowing there is a plan. However, these verses do not explain how that plan will unfold. God just lets us know he's got something going on for us.

I can try and control the plan. I can work and fret over what the plan is, what the next step will be, and experience great frustration when it doesn't all unfold the way I had envisioned in my head. Or, I can trust that his ways are greater than mine, thus, his plan for my life, whatever that may look like, is greater than my crazy imagination. I kind of like the latter.

Don't get me wrong. I have a plan for my life. I have a certain way I want it to look and play out. I have goals and dreams I would like to fulfill. But, I have come to a place in the middle where I live out each day in obedience to what he is calling me to in that moment enabling his plan to work itself out without me mucking it up.

I have found freedom is this space. I still try to control things when I feel life slipping. But, I have managed to sit in a place of living in the moment rather than worry about what might be. Life is constantly shifting and changing. I cannot control that. What I can control is my decision to live in today trusting that he's got my plan.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Love & Blessings,
Meg