Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Take it Away

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” Daniel 3:19-26 (emphasis mine)

When I experience a trial or a challenging time in my life, my prayer often sounds like this, "Lord, please take this from me. I cannot do this. It hurts too much. I am not strong enough."

Rarely does he answer this prayer.

I remember when we decided to sell our home and live in an apartment. The boys were 2, 3, and 6 years old. My husband was traveling for work more than usual. And our dog was as big and obnoxious as ever. At first, I embraced this new adventure. I liked the quaintness of our little place. We had made it our own. Our neighbors were great and the surrounding area was beautiful. We had each other and that was what mattered.

And then some time passed.

I was removed from the community I was used to. I was lost in my new grocery store not knowing where anything was. My two year old liked to sit at the top of the stairs staring at me waiting for me to load backpacks, nap mats, and all my teacher gear in the car so I could come get him and carry him down. I remember having to lock the boys in the apartment while I quickly jolted down the back stairs to take the dog out. I prayed they wouldn't burn the place down before I got back. It was new, uncomfortable, exhausting, and tight. I remember collapsing in my friends arms a puddle of tears one night telling her I couldn't do this anymore. She looked me square in the eyes and told me, "Yes, you can."

I wanted God to make that season easier for me. I wanted my new house to be built faster. But, instead, he slowed the process down (to a stand-still at times) changing project managers halfway thru. I just wanted to be comfortable in my home without all the daily nuances of apartment life, a traveling husband, crazy beast of a dog, and small kids. But, he didn't.

I look at the very familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We all know about the three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down and worshiping the king. The came out unscathed because of the Lord's protection and their faithfulness to him. We use this story when we talk about walking through our own fires comforting ourselves and others that the Lord will protect us through the trials. But, I see something different here. I see another figure in the fire.

As much as we would like, God doesn't always remove the fire. He allows the flames because he knows it's good for us. We are molded, shaped, and matured through the heat. He knows growth, grace, and faith happen there. We get angry and frustrated that he doesn't remove us from the furnace missing the truest sight seen brightest through the smoke. Him.

God may not remove us from the atrocious circumstances of our lives. But, you better be sure he is walking alongside us in the inferno. There was a fourth figure seen through all the flames and smoke. Those three men were not alone when things got too hot. Their Lord stood right beside them the entire time.

I think about my life and the times when I have wished the trial away. However, in doing so, I am also wishing away my Savior. I am begging him to leave my life, to leave my side, all because it feels too hard. I am asking to remove the biggest blessing in my life when I ask for the challenge to be removed: an opportunity to walk closest with the only One who can save me.

To think I could miss an opportunity to walk closely with Jesus and, not to mention, a possibility to show Jesus to the world, is overwhelming to me. I don't want to ever wish him away.

God may not take the trial, the pain, the fear, the ache away. But, you better believe he will walk with you through the flames.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, March 20, 2017

Do-Er

I am a do-er. I LOVE a good to-do list. Crossing off items off my list is like magic. I typically cannot sit down until everything is in order. I have a difficult time resting and sometimes struggle with being in the moment when something goes undone. I have been this way for as long as I can remember.

'Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.' Exodus 18:17-18

I pile on too much too often. I want to do, do, do so that everything can get done and be in its place when I finally crawl into bed at night. Oftentimes, I get so caught up in the doing that I miss the living. Many times, the dialog I tell myself is that I must do in order to earn my keep. Somehow, in my crazy way of thinking, my doing determines my value. Crazy, I know.

Moses, in Exodus, is showing his father-in-law all the things he has done. Essentially, Moses has done everything himself thinking that will impress his bride's father. Instead, however, Moses' father-in-law sees that this overwhelming way of living was not good for Moses and not worth the bragging rights. When I read this verse taking it in, I realize this was God preparing Moses for what was to come: his leading the people of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years. Little did Moses know that the wisdom his father-in-law bestowed up him would prepare him for the most difficult journey of his life.

I believe God is always preparing us for something. Our journey, our road, is constantly changing. God is calling me to add intentionality to my to-do list. He's calling me to add rest and fun and community to my list. He wants more for me than crossing off tasks. He desires a fullness that looks vastly different than what the world defines for me.

I have learned and accepted that "I am who I am." That doesn't mean that I have to stay that way, though. Accepting that I am a doer does not give me the freedom to overwhelm my schedule thus choking my soul dry. Instead, this acceptance has opened my eyes to see that I need more, my life needs more, than the doing. I need to create space, create margin for quiet, for rest, for spontaneous fun, for community. For I know when I allow those things to infiltrate the list, my life inhabitants an in-explainable richness that only comes from God.

Many of us hear about or talk about the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) when discussing the plight of busyness. We quote that Scripture and all long to be Mary. What if we could be both. What if there were room in our lives to be both Mary and Martha? There is a time and a place for the Martha in our lives. Sometimes our schedules call for service. Other times, we can sit and rest worshiping at our Savior's feet. We just need to find the right amount of Mary and the right amount of Martha for our lives.
Sometimes that means we pencil in a little Mary on our to-do list.

Being a do-er is not a bad thing. It is not a curse. Letting the doing overwhelm my life is the problem. I have learned to be intentional with my days finding time for the doing and the resting. It's not always easy. I can't say I have found the perfect balance. I still fix a pillow, dust a shelf, or clean a dish really quick before I sit down. But now, I am more aware of my doing and vow to be more intentional with my time. I can't do all things well so I find what I can do and start there giving myself a ton of grace along the way.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stalker

When I was in middle school, a group of friends and I were stalked by an adult male. He would sit in his car and watch us from afar. I remember the first time we noticed him. There was a group of about five or six of us walking from one of our homes to another. There was a greenbelt in between the street we were on and the next street over. The street across the greenbelt was on a little hill so you could easily see the street. There he was. Sitting in his car. Staring. We ran faster than I think we all believed we could, called our parents, and called the police. He continued to stalk us at various times until the police showed up at our school. I remember being pulled out of class not knowing why and going into the principal's office where a man sat. It was a detective holding a file. He let me know they believe they caught the guy but I had to pick him out from some photographs. I knew exactly who he was. So did the rest of the girls. Thankfully, our story ended well and he was caught. I will never forget that experience. I can still feel what it felt like to run like hell to a safe place to get away from this stalker.

Our lives can mirror this horrible experience. We have things in our lives that stalk us and we try to run like hell away from them.

This week was one of those weeks. Back to the grind after a week of sleeping in, no schedule, and no lunches to be made. Add to that the lovely tradition of Daylight Savings. I thought I'd just go along my marry way into the week because I like springing forward. I look forward to the sun being out longer but this year was different. This week wiped me out. Every day I felt completely worn down. To add fuel to the fire, I had multiple friends that I care deeply about get hit with some life changing unfathomable things. It was like the texts wouldn't stop coming in. My heart broke. Then, this morning, I am called out for something I did not do. This sent my thoughts into a tailspin questioning, doubting, wondering, and searching my heart and soul releasing all the insecurities I like to stuff way down deep. I remember breathing a sigh of relief that today was Friday.

"Thanks goodness." I thought. "The week is over. I can finally breath and start all over again next week leaving this nonsense behind."

But, here's the deal, all that junk, all those ugly feelings, all that anxiety doesn't just go away because a new week is upon me. It's all still there.

I have learned that if I don't deal with the junk, it will stalk me like that man did all those years ago. My fears, my doubts, insecurities, sadness, anxiety will stalk me from afar just close enough to send me into a tailspin. If I don't deal with all the feelings, they will sit and watch and perch waiting for a good chance to pounce. And once they do attack, it isn't pretty. It never looks like what it is. Instead, I become irritable. I snap at those I love. I am impatient, judgmental, exhausted.

I don't like facing the ugly. I'd rather run away from it all and hide. I will turn off all the lights and hide quiet as a mouse. But that doesn't do me any good. All of that junk is still out there lurking.

We all have junk. We all have days, weeks, even years where the hurt seems too hard to face. Yet, once we do pick it out of the line-up and call it for what it is, we are released. Released from the burden of carrying the load of the scary and intimidating.

Don't let the trials of life to hunt you down and stalk you. Call them out. Face the darkness. Call it for what it is. Heal in this space. Release the burden. Start the next week free of the chains that shackle us to the anxieties of this life instead of running from your stalker.

"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death And broke their bands apart. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!" Psalm 107:14

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cup of Tea

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you're on the outside looking in? You are physically there, but you feel like you are the odd man out or your personality is too much for that group and you can see it like you are sitting on the outside of the circle looking in?

I am not everyone's cup of tea.

This revelation is a hard pill to swallow. While I am not a conflict-avoider, I don't like it and desire everyone to get along and like each other all the time. I often wish everyone would just play nice. But, I know relationships are hard and messy and not everyone is meant to be besties.

I am a lot to take in. I can be loud, overbearing, talkative, opinionated, I like things a certain way, I am stubborn, and on and on and on. I can overwhelm a person in a heart-beat. I also know, however, that I am kind, compassionate, loyal, empathetic, service-minded, and respectful.

I have come to terms with and learned to accept that I am not everyone's cup of tea. It's easy to say and to know, but to accept is a whole other ball game. It doesn't feel good to know that there are people in this world who do not like you. It's a truth that can be difficult to swallow.

Knowing and accepting that I am not meant for everyone doesn't have to shackle me. Instead, it can free me from the bondage of wanting to please everyone. God did not create me for everyone. He created me with specific purpose for a specific reason. Knowing this frees me from the chase of people pleasing and the constant need for acceptance. Realizing that He created me specifically for certain people releases me from trying to be everything to everyone caring about every last opinion of me and, instead, moves me towards meaningful relationship with those that need a person like me in their lives.

Not being everyone's cup of tea is not a bad thing. It's actually a good thing; freeing and comforting. It shows me that I was not meant to be in that person's space. Someone else needs what I have to offer and that will bring much more fulfillment than trying to chase down someone who wasn't created with a need for a person like me in their life.

I am wonderfully made with a specific purpose by a God who created the heavens and the earth. I look at our world and often wonder why he chose to create me. When I live in that space, I am encouraged and absolutely blown away. If He made the sun and the stars and the mountains and the crystal blue waters and then decided to make little 'ole me than I am okay with not being everyone's cup of tea.

There is a need and a purpose for you and I in this world. Our purpose will not serve everyone and that is okay. We weren't called to that space. I have learned to release the burden of carrying everyone's opinions of me on my back. Because ultimately, it is only His that truly matters.

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

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, March 16, 2017

They Told Me So

Time goes by fast.

Ah. The truest quote out there. When you are a kid, you think time goes on forever. The clock ticks slower when you are at school. Christmas day feels like its light years away. Time is not your highest commodity when you are a child.

As we get older, time seems to stand still for different reasons. The high school senior feels like he will never be free of high school. The young single sees marriage as a far off dream. Parents of babies cannot see past the sleepless nights, let alone, being able to do anything independently of a little person shadow.

Time. Our most valuable possession.

When I started having babies, the older wiser folk all told me to enjoy those moments because they go by in a flash. In the back of my mind, I knew they were right. The reality in front of me, however, spoke a different story.

After almost three years, a second baby came. One year later, the third. There I sat hair a mess, lack of sleep and shower, caring for three boys under four. My goal was for everyone to survive the day and not always relishing in the fleeting moments. I couldn't see past the diaper changes and feedings to realize time was in warp speed.

I have this awesome app that sends me pictures from the past daily. The app pulls from my social media accounts reminding me of events and nuances from past years on this date. Today, my app was filled with pictures of precious little baby faces. I got a little choked up seeing those chubby little men that used to keep me up all hours of the night.

I am not too far ahead of those years. I still have little ones that have many needs. However, the everyday baby years are a distant memory. The baby giggles and crazy messes are a thing of the past. Developmental changes look much different today than the celebrations of first teeth, first steps, and first words. Our life looks much different today than even two years ago and two years ago feels like just two minutes ago.

They told me so.

The wise counsel knew how fast time goes. They told me to relish in the chaos because one day it would be gone. And it is. I can honestly say that I tried my very best to breath in every single moment of pandemonium. I didn't want to forget how my middle would crawl out of his crib into his little brother's crib and they'd giggle like crazy. I took in all the times the oldest would lay next to one of his little brothers and just stare. It was like he was in awe of this precious gift he was given. He was created to be a big brother. I let the moments when my youngest wanted to be on me at all times soak in because I knew there'd be a day in the not-so-distant-future where he'd be too big for me to hold. Even though I tried my best to love the moments where I had to carry a baby on each hip up the stares feeling guilty that the third kiddo was being left out, I still failed to realize how fast and how fleeting those times would be.

I have a plethora of moments, of memories, boxed up in my mind. It all seems like it happened yesterday yet, sometimes I confuse my oldest son's shoes for his father's now. I knew time would fly because they all told me so. Yet, it was so hard to see past the disorder, the sleep-deprivation, the constant neediness, the unending list of to-dos. The tunnel of babyhood seemed dark and eternal; relentless.

And then one day I woke up and all the kids were at school. While the needs were still there, they had shifted drastically. I could go to the bathroom uninterrupted. Breakables could come out and stay out. I could sit on the side of the pool instead of getting in it. The three little babies that needed me every second of every day were all of a sudden independent. I knew this day would come but wow, did it ever come quick.

They told me so.

The moment I realized the "I told you so" folk were right was when my husband and I sat together on the side of the pool. My youngest was four and all three boys could swim. We didn't even realize what we were doing right away until one of us pointed it out. That moment changed everything for me. I knew then that they were right. Time goes by in a flash. Breath in EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT.

My boys will always be my babies even when they are older and have families of their own. My husband likes to remind me that my boys will always need me. It will just look different as the years progress.

Now, when my youngest is sitting on the couch his two little fingers in his mouth, I stop what I am doing and sit next time him. I look at his little nose and listen to the noise he makes when he is sucking on those fingers. He began that habit when he was two months old. I remember how I relieved I was when he found those fingers to pacify himself because he was colic and inconsolable.

When my quiet middle guy wants to talk my ear off, I listen. I put my phone down and look into his crystal blue eyes. I listen intently to his cute little boy voice. Most times I don't even know what he's saying. That really doesn't matter. I just want to hear him because one day, his stories will be told to someone else.

When my oldest asks for my time, I give it. He needs that. His love language is quality time. He's going to find it with someone so for now, I want that someone to be me. I play basketball even though I am horrible and listen to him explain video games. As I listen, I see his heart and how big, how wide, and how deep it runs.

I may even overpost on Instagram because I know one day I will long to see the photos of the past jarring those precious memories stirring that sweet feeling way down deep in my soul.

I tell time to be gentle all the time. I plead with time to let me have the moments; to make me aware of the memories in the making. While I do mourn the loss of baby-life, I am loving right now.

I know time is on a mission to zoom past me. I know I need to pay attention and to be present because one day, my house will be empty. I know to savor every moment, even the hard ones, because they told me so and they were right.

Enjoy the moments. Breath it all in. Because one day, it will all be a memory.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Talk

It's that time: the time for the "talk" with our eldest. We actually had the talk a while ago, but it was time to watch the coveted video at school. The teachers sent a link, so my husband, son, and I watched it together. Our intent was to diffuse the giggles and awkwardness that come with watching something like that with your peers. Nothing like watching a video about body changes with your parents. We also try to be intentional about having those tough, not-so-fun, embarrassing conversations before they happen outside the home. I have three boys. I know nothing about boys coming from a family of all girls. I mean, I have one male cousin. That's it. Boys are foreign to me.

I remember when my oldest was a toddler. I was so very anti-gun. I didn't want him to hear the word, see guns in his shows, much less, have a toy gun. I am originally from California so cut me some slack. Now that most of my family are Texans, guns aren't so scary anymore. Even with all that "protection," the kid still made a gun out of his little toddler hand and began shooting things before he was two. He had been exposed to Mickey Mouse and Little Einsteins up until now. The point being, kids will find out. They will hear the stories and be exposed to it all. The question is, who will show him and tell him first? His parents or the world?

We want our boys to hear it from us first. Our desire is to build a relationship with these kids where they can trust us and feel comfortable enough to come to us with some hard stuff. We know they aren't going to tell us everything. We don't want them to. But, we do want our home to be a sanctuary for them; a place where they can come and let go divulging those difficult things without fear of being judged or punished.

I will tell you, this is HARD. So very hard. It's exhausting at times. It takes patience, perseverance, and commitment. You can't let up or let things slip. You have to stay alert and aware while finding the balance between giving them roots and giving them wings. But, at the end of the day, it's so worth it. It also doesn't hurt to have a good village surrounding your family. My boys know they have an uncle, cousins, grandfathers, and life group dads they can all seek out and not feel uncomfortable. Knowing we are not alone in this parenting journey makes me breath a huge sigh or relief.

My husband and I do not have all the answers. We fail more than we succeed in this parenting gig. But, we are committed to our boys and their well-being. We know that we are not just raising kids. We are raising the next leaders, fathers, husbands, friends, and businessmen. It was much easier when we were concerned with whether or not they were going to potty train. Ha. Parenting is the most difficult task I have ever endured. Yet, it is the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my life. I will keep on learning and pressing on guiding these boys on a path towards spiritual, emotional, and mental health and success. Hopefully they won't need too much therapy when they grow up.

"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

Book Recommendations:
Stan and Brenda Jones...
The Story of Me
Before I Was Born
What's the Big Deal
Facing the Facts

Good Pictures Bad Pictures
Kristen A Jensen

It's Great to Be a Guy
Jarrod Sechler
Dannah Gresh

Monday, March 6, 2017

Attendance

When I first came to church, Jesus was always presented in a relational context. Never did he seem like this far off being that was too big and too great to have anything to do with little ole me. I learned from the very beginning that Jesus desired a relationship with me. I realize not everyone was or is taught this relational version of Jesus. Because of this, I think it is easy to slip into an attendance-based spiritual journey rather than a relational one.

I attend a large church. It is easy to go unnoticed. If I wasn't involved and missed a Sunday, no one would be the wiser. It's easy to hide in a big church. I also live in the south, the coveted "Bible belt" where going to church on Sunday is per the usual. I remember when we first moved to Texas from California. We had been here maybe a couple of days so we had yet to venture out and find a church. I went to the grocery store on a Sunday morning and the parking lot was empty. I walked up to the doors and almost turned around because I thought the store was closed. Everyone was apparently at church.

Being a Christian and going to church is commonplace in the US. It is not uncommon to have a neighborhood who associates with being a Christian and attends the Sunday morning service. I am curious to know, however, how many of our neighbors are church attendees but don't have a relationship with Jesus.

It's easy to attend church on Sunday. You get to put on your cute little outfit and go out to lunch after. If you're lucky, the Cowboys are playing Sunday afternoon and you catch a little snooze on the couch. This is the American life.

I wonder, however, how many church goers are attendees but don't have a relationship with Jesus. How difficult is it when Monday comes and church is over. When those trials hit, those lonely places rise, or the darkness overwhelms, is Jesus there beside you or do you have to wait until Sunday to get fed.

We often rate how our faith is doing by how many Sundays we have attended church. When, all-the-while, Jesus is calling us into relationship with him. He wants to hear from us, guide us, comfort us, grow us, be near us Monday through Saturday; not just on Sunday.

It is time for us to move from Sunday morning attendance to a relationship with him. He is waiting for us to draw near so he may move in our lives in ways that are unimaginable.

What are you waiting for?

Jesus is near. He is waiting for you in the church pew to take him with you through your week. All you need to do is call on him.

"The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." Psalm 34:17-19

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillippians 4:6-7

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:31-32

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hope in a Box

I love gardening. I enjoy getting my hands dirty digging in the dirt. I like looking out my window and seeing the colors in the landscape. I have a problem, though. I do not have a green thumb. I never know how much to water. I struggle with how much sun vs. shade each plant needs. I have a difficult time helping my plants grow.

Gardening reminds me of our hope. We place a seed deep in the soil hoping to see a sprout in the coming weeks. We nurture that little seed feeding it with water and sunshine. When the first bud pops through the soil, we feel a sense of achievement. Hope is a lot like this. We hope in something to come and when it finally pops through the soil and comes to fruition, we rejoice.

However, many of us have had our hopes shattered. We hope and wish and pray only to be disappointed. Time and again we get our hopes up only to have them shattered into a million pieces scattered across the floor. Because of this, we pack our hope neatly in a box and seal it tight. Oftentimes, we place a padlock on that box never to see hope again.

Here's the problem: hope doesn't grow in a box. Hope cannot flourish there. Hope needs room to grow; to spread.

We've been hurt. Dreams have been disintegrated. The pain is too much to bear so we lock our hope up in a box never to feel that rush again.

As hard as we try to bury our hope, it cannot be contained.

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 (NLV)

You see, you cannot have hope without faith. Faith is the driving force behind our hope. Our hope begins before we know the ending. In order to hope for things unseen, we begin with our faith. Faith doesn't have to be huge. Your faith can be a tiny sliver. The size of your faith does not diminish the power of your hope.

'He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."' Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

Your faith is powerful; so powerful it can move mountains. Let your faith drive your hope. And when you feel like your faith is gone, remember all the times He came through for you.

And even if the ending you hoped for doesn't come to fruition, remember you always have hope.

'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.' Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Even if, we still have hope. If our future doesn't mirror our dreams, our hope is not lost. For our future and our hope rests in eternity with Him. Now that is something to hope for.

Don't lock your hope in a box. It cannot thrive in there. You cannot put a lid on hope. It's too powerful and will always push through even when you try to stuff it down. Hope thrives in the darkness overpowering the shadows. As hard as you try to lock the lid on your hope, it will always come back. It has to.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." 1 Peter 1:3-6

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Calling

I didn't grow up in a Christian home. I first went to church my freshman year of high school. A friend invited me to youth group and that triggered my faith journey. I remember looking at the pastor and his wife desiring to have parents like them. I had this vision of how a godly home ran and operated.

When I got married, I had a vision of a Christ-centered marriage. My husband would lead us daily in prayer. We would work through marriage devotionals together. When we had kids, we would all sit around the dinner table reading the Bible and praying. All kids fully in-tune and attentive. Seriously. This is how I envisioned my home to function.

Then, life happened.

We all have visions. We dream of what and how life should play out. When what we had envisioned doesn't come to light, we are disappointed or think we have done something wrong. But, when we sit back and evaluate the situation, we see that life is good even though it doesn't mirror the way we thought.

The same holds true for our calling. Christian culture likes to talk a lot about God's calling on our lives. We all believe we are here for a purpose uniquely designed by God. The difficult part of this calling is trying to figure out exactly what we should be doing and what that looks like.

I absolutely know what my calling is in this season of my life. Hands-down, I am fully confident in this calling knowing He placed me here. However, here is where I get hung up: my calling does not look like I had imagined. While I am doing exactly what I feel called to do, it looks vastly different than I thought it would. If I am being honest, sometimes, this discourages me. I am not as far along as I thought I'd be right now. I question my abilities to handle my calling. I know He makes me capable, but I still doubt myself.

I believe many of us are this way. We have a vision for our calling and God's way and design looks different. Because we don't have a match, we question and doubt often walking away from what He has called us to do. We can't surrender our vision to his calling because surely, that's not what He has for us.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

We are faithful. We pray continuously. We go to church. We attend Bible study and memorize Scripture with our children. We are good at "delighting" ourselves in the Lord. Why then, is he not giving us the desires of our hearts. We have passions. We were created with purpose for a purpose. We are called and willing to answer that call. Yet, our lives are not mirroring our vision. Why?

Because when we delight in him, our desires align with his desires for us. Yes, he created us for a specific reason (which I believe changes and grows as we mature). But, sometimes our perception is off. It is me-centered with a desire for pomp and circumstance while he is asking us to love on our neighbor. Well, that's not fancy.

I have come to realize that my calling in this great big world is much smaller than I had anticipated. Yet, when it comes to eternity and things beyond this planet, it is extravagant. Our callings don't need glitz and glamour so we can stop waiting for the phone to ring with the news of the next big deal. We can let go of how many likes we get on a certain post. We can find freedom in releasing ourselves from the need to perform. We don't need a popular YouTube channel to advance the kingdom

You keep doing you and your calling will explode. Stay committed to those little things he is calling you to for those truly are the big things. Ask him to show you along the way that you are on the right track. I know when I get discouraged that I am not doing enough, being enough, creating enough for this so-called calling, he sends me a note in the mail or a text of encouragement to remind me that I am on the right track.

Callings look different than we had envisioned when they finally play out. That doesn't mean they are wrong or insignificant. Quite the contrary. Be joyful and full of praise when what he calls you to doesn't match what you played out in your head for I can truly promise you it is SO much better!

Stay the course, friend! You have a purpose. This world needs you.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Rights

We like to throw the word, "rights," around. We talk about how we deserve certain rights, are entitled to others, and shout, scream, and protest when our rights are infringed upon. We get fired-up and hyper-emotional when it comes to our rights.

But, let me ask you this: Are we entitled to rights?

Let me add a disclaimer here. I do believe in human rights. I believe that each human on this planet be treated with respect; right and fair. This isn't a post to debate whether this group or that deserve rights or not. Think of this more as a perspective shift.

'Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.' Matthew 16:24

Jesus died on the cross for you and me. He gave his life so we could have the right to Heaven.

Think on that for a minute.

He died so we may have the right to enter Heaven's gates.

Beyond this, I am not sure we deserve any rights. Yet, He is gracious enough to afford us rights on this side of eternity.

What if the rights we experience are really blessings; a gift?

According to Matthew 16:24, we are to deny ourselves daily. This doesn't mean we treat others with disdain or disrespect or we are to be treated unfairly. But, we are to deny our selfish desires and ways and take up our cross. The Christian life is not the entitled life. Rather, its a life of selfless humility.

Rights, in my opinion, are blessings. They are a gift. The fact that we have the privilege to walk freely, to be whomever we want to be, to love who we want to love, to live where we want to live, to go to school, they are all gifts. Once we realize our rights are truly a gift from God, a reflection of His great love and mercy for His children, our perspective shifts.

May we not live entitled. May we, instead, live humbly each day relishing in the precious gift of our rights each day realizing that because He had such great love for us denying Himself and dying on the cross, we have rights.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Beauty in the Thicket

Spring has decided to arrive early in North Texas. We have had an incredibly mild winter with only a few days below freezing. The trees and grass are confused and have decided to bloom. I love when the trees bloom in my town. They initially pop out the most beautiful shade of purple before turning green. They are stunning.

I was walking my usual route by the lake and noticed the blooms. Deep in the tree line a bolt of lilac popped out at me. The flowers were hard to see because they were tucked away behind the brush; one that had inch-long thorns on the branch. The thorns looked menacing. But, just beyond those daggers lay the most gorgeous lilac bloom. I wish I could touch it, but it was fiercely protected.

Do you know someone like this? Does this sound like a description of you? So often we can be that beautiful bloom no one can get to because we have locked ourselves down. No public access. People can see our beauty but they don't get to experience it fully because we guard ourselves with sharp thorns. No one is getting in.

I know women who are so beautiful. Their souls radiate light. However, they are so heavily guarded that I can't get in. The outside world can only see thorns but there is such beauty to be unleashed. Sometimes, the thicket gets so dense, you can no longer see the grace that lies beneath. We let insecurities, anxiety, depression, fear, judgment, and the like creep in and strangle us with their thorns.

We have so much to offer this world. Yet, we allow ourselves to get tangled in the thicket.

What are we hiding from? We are we allowing the thorns to be what the world sees? What are we afraid of? The world needs the beauty that is tucked deep within each of us.

The world has enough thorny thickets. Let's weed our garden and let the world see and experience the beauty that lies deep within our souls. We all could use a little color.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, February 27, 2017

New Skin

One of my boys takes after my awesome clutziness. He tends to do so in the form of falling off his bike. There's been a few occasions when he's walked through the door all banged up gashes from head-to-toe. We've helped clean his wounds and nurse him back to health. He currently still has a few marks on his arm from a fall that occurred almost two months ago. It takes the body awhile to heal.

We just finished Bianca Olthoff's, Play With Fire Bible study. The theme of the study is about how we approach and walk through the fire. Fires are going to come. They are a part of living on this earth. It's what we do when the fire comes that matters.

A woman shared her testimony about walking through the fire. She kept talking about getting burned in the fire. That got me to thinking about my son, his injuries, and what it looks like to heal an injury.

'He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.' Daniel 3:25-27

When we get burned, our skin hurts relentlessly. All we want to do is get something to numb the pain. We clean the wound and cover it so it doesn't get infected. We continue to care for the wound. If not, we will cause further pain and damage to the skin. Eventually, we develop a scab that protects the new skin growing underneath and helps to remove the old damaged skin (I know this is kind of gross, but bear with me. I've got a point brewing). The scab has to fall off in order to reveal the new skin. Sometimes, that can be a painful process. Once the new skin is exposed, we must still treat it gently. If we go in the sun, that new skin needs more sunscreen. If we re-injure the new skin, it can be painful. Over time, the new skin blends in with the old skin and we forget about the injury. Occasionally, we are left with a scar to remind us of that time and give us a good story to tell friends.

Why do I go into such great detail about a skin burn? Well, through this visual, I was able to see why God allows us to go through the fire. Isn't that our biggest question when life hurts: the why? I believe we need to walk through the fire in order to get our new skin. We have got to peel off the old and get to the new in order to grow and experience the goodness God has for us. If we don't go through the fire, we will just keep piling on the scabs. Nobody wants that. It's ugly and gross.

Many of us would rather avoid the fire; just keep walking around it to get to the other side and move on. While that is plausible, it's not our best option. Walking through the fire burns off all the old, yucky, crustiness and reveals the new smooth life that awaits us on the other side. The initial burn hurts and all we want to do is numb the pain. But, if we take care of the burn helping it to heal, in the end, we will have new skin. Our former selves, full of pain, doubt, worry, and anxiety, is burned away in the fire leaving a new self in its wake.

The fire burns. It hurts. The flames often seem too hot. But, after a little tender-loving-care, the newness that is revealed is far greater than what was burned away. Sometimes we are scarred. But, that is only to remind us of what we overcame when things seemed to get too hot.

He stands beside us in the flames. He doesn't leave us. Rather, He walks alongside us knowing what awaits us on the other side.

'Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”'
Lamentations 3:21-24

And, you never know, your fire journey may bring someone else to know the Lord.

'Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”'
Daniel 3:28-29

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, February 16, 2017

11 Days

11 days. The journey should have taken 11 days. Instead, they wandered for 40 years. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God promised them a better life if they followed Moses into the wilderness; a desert journey to a new land flowing with milk and honey full of promise. A journey that should have lasted 11 days turned into 40 years. Why? Because they took their eyes off of God.

"For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing." Deuteronomy 2:7

I am currently going through a study that keeps coming back to the Israelites journey through the desert. The focus isn't really about the amount of time they spent in the desert but that's what stood out to me.

How often do I wander far beyond what I need? How many times do get lost because I lose sight of my focus? How much time, energy, and emotion have I wasted in the desert when I could have been in the promise land?

It's easy to look at the Israelites and see where they missed it; where they should have turned leading them to their future and their hope. Instead, they lost their focus and got lost causing them to wander, question, doubt, and suffer far longer than they needed. When you read their story in the Old Testament, you want to scream at them to wake-up just like you would scream at a movie screen when the actor is about to walk right into the villain. But they don't wake-up. Instead, they wander and wander complaining and grumbling not realizing the state of their being isn't because of God but because of themselves.

Ugh. I have been the Israelites. I have wandered the desert far longer than necessary because I didn't trust God. I didn't listen when he told me to trust, to be still, to remember his promises. Instead, I worried, I gave up, I let frustration rule in my soul and was left to wander the wilderness lost, tired, and thirsty for something better.

I love Deuteronomy 2:7. I love it because God proclaims that he was with them even in their wandering. He never left them even though they took the path off the trail that all the signs warned about. When they complained crying out that slavery in Egypt was better than their journey through the desert, God stayed. When they decided to worship other Gods, God was still there. When they were hungry, tired, and defeated, he was near. He never left. They just couldn't see him.

I have been there. I have wandered, questioned, doubted, worshipped other things, and tried to take matters into my own hands thinking I was abandoned. But, I was never alone. He was always near.

Sometimes God lets us wander the desert because we need it. We need to be stripped bare to realize he is near. We need to be lost to realize we need a guide. We need everything to seem hopeless so he can be our hope. We need to wander the wilderness so we can find him.

However, our wilderness journey can be 11 days or 40. It's our choice. Do we choose to pitch a tent and stay awhile in the desert or keeping moving even when it hurts? We will all face the desert. We will all go through seasons of parched land. That we cannot escape. What we can do, however, is determine how long we are going to stay lost.

God will never leave us even when we are wandering. The question is, we will see him in the desert?

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bubble Wrap & a Farm House

I sat on the seat of the Green Machine. It’s like a big kid’s big wheel. He was crying and I couldn’t console him. He needed to get it all out. As I listened, I reverted back to ten year old me remembering the hurts wanting to take it all from him. Only I couldn’t. That wasn’t my job.
I kept praying in my head desperately searching for the right thing to say. He kept crying. When he finally took a breath, I had a million things to say but couldn’t speak. I wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap or move him to a farm to take him away from it all. Does anyone have either of those? I am in the market. But that’s not my job.

When I told him I couldn’t take this from him even though I wanted to, he asked me why. Why couldn’t the one he looks to for safety, protection, comfort, and security release him of the burdens he carried? My only answer was, “That isn’t my job.”

“Train a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I don’t know how to do this parenting thing. I am convinced it gets harder as they get older. I thought raising tiny humans was overwhelming, but now I have these big kids facing big problems and guiding them in the right direction is terrifying. And then I have to incorporate this God component with-out being too Jesus-freakish and that can make me want to crawl in a hole and come back out after they have all survived junior high and high school. But, that’s not my job either.

So, there I say on that tiny seat that is meant for my six year old watching the tears fall faster than he can wipe them away listening to his angst. The only thing I had to offer was love, grace, and a soft place to land. The only thing I could tell him was that life is hard and does suck at times, but we have a good good Father. That, when you find your confidence in Him and Him alone, others have control over our lives less and less. Something I learned recently myself.

My job isn’t to fix. My job isn’t to fight for him. My job isn’t to ignore or sweep under the rug. My job is to sit on tiny bicycles freezing because the wind is howling listening to him cry. He doesn’t always need me to speak. He just needs me to be: to be near, to be safe, to be a soft space to go when life gets ever so hard.

Watching my kid struggle and not being able to fix it reminded me that I also need to trust that good good Father. I need to remember that He is my soft place to land. He is my safety. He wants to be near.
This whole parenting gig is not for the faint of heart. It is also not meant for us to do alone or have all the answers. It’s a place of deep humility and so SO much grace. I haven’t got all this stuff figured out. And when I think I do, another kid will come along with a completely different reaction to the exact same problem and I start all over again.

Be near. And remember, He’s a good good Father. We are not alone.

Love & Blessings,
Meg


Friday, February 3, 2017

The Home

The school where my boys' attend started a new program this year. The program is called, "Genius Hour." The purpose of the program is to get kids to work together to create something that may help someone else. The goal is to get students excited about something that interests them, build on that idea with a small community in their classroom, brainstorm ways this could help their community, and the world. The idea is that when we work together, we can bring positive change to those close to us and those far away. This genius hour has even spawned an opportunity for our students and town to come together to raise funds to build a school in Ghana. Pretty cool if you ask me.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Matthew 10:38-42

I'm not going to lie. These are not my favorite verses of the Bible. I am always Martha. I try so hard to be Mary, but my natural tendency is to busy and worry myself when I should be sitting at the feet of Jesus.

I want to examine these words a little differently than how they are typically studied. Preachers and teachers will talk about how Martha's focus was in the wrong place. She need not busy herself with tasks. Rather, she needs to be still before the Lord. We get this. I want to look at it from the perspective of the home.

Jesus and his disciples were traveling and needed rest. Jesus knew right where to go. He knew he and his men would find rest and food with these two ladies. Here's what I see when I read this story: I see one of the very first displays of worship. I see a woman who knew what was important: stopping and loving her Lord. I also see a frantic woman who is so anxious about the little things, things that don't matter at the end of the day, that she missed it. She missed her opportunity to worship. She failed to love those that came into her home because she was blinded by unnecessary angst.

A light bulb went on in my head like a light springing on in the dead of night.

It starts in the home. All that matters to this world begins withing our four walls. How well are you doing in that space?

The state of our culture is screaming at us that we are doing it wrong. The shouts mirror the very words Jesus spoke: "you are worried and upset about many things, but few are needed..."

We are so distracted by worries, fears, and the shouting outside our home that we are missing our call to love, serve, and connect within our homes.

Jesus went to Mary and Martha because he knew he would find rest. Are you providing rest in your home? Are your four walls closing in on you and your family or are they sighing a deep sigh of relief when you enter?

Jesus knew he'd be fed at Mary and Martha's. He didn't just know he would be fed physically, he also knew he'd be filled spiritually. How are you feeding your family? Is the news playing in the background 24/7? Are you getting on social media only to set the phone down or shut the computer angry and tense?

Last, Jesus knew he would be worshiped. He knew Mary was going to lay at his feet acknowledging who he is. He didn't need the fuss. He knew Mary needed to be still before her Lord to refresh her soul just as much as he needed his child to lay at his feet rejuvenating his. What are you worshiping in your home? Are you chasing busy or chasing God? Are your words encouraging? Do they build up your people or tear them down?

The story of Mary and Martha is so simple, yet so rich. These verses refocus our attention back where it needs to be: on our Savior first and our people second. There is a place to fight for justice; to scream for your cause. But, if your four walls are hurting and being neglected, you won't get an ounce done. Love your people. Start within your four walls and work your way out.

It all starts at home.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Running

We've got one chick in our flock who veers more on the stubborn side of things. He's fiercely passionate and leans towards the emotionally illogical from time-to-time. If you know me or my family, I will leave it to you to determine which little monkey this describes and which parent he most mirrors. It shouldn't be that difficult.

I remember when he was young and I thought I needed to correct his behavior; change it. I had this assumption that he was somehow flawed and I was to right the wrong. Soon into my parenting journey, I had a friend struggling with her son in similar areas. I will never forget something she said. She told me it wasn't her job to change him. God created her son that way. Her calling was to guide him and train him up in the way he was created not change who he was designed to be. That was so freeing to me as a mom and refocused me to see the extraordinary child God had blessed my husband and I with. Isn't it like God to send someone into your life saying the very things you need to hear at exactly the right time.

As much as I wanted to change this child's "negative" behavior, I realized he was perfectly designed exactly as he was by a perfect God. No need to change him; just guide him.

Aren't we like this with ourselves? We think we have all these design flaws so we try and change ourselves running from who we were created to be. We run from ourselves because we have convinced ourselves we are not good enough. I look back over the years and can tell you the faults I had in each season. I remember how it felt not to measure up in certain areas whether it was looks, smarts, money, or talents. There were plenty of times I wanted to pack my bags and run away from myself. Plenty of times.

But, I wasn't created to run from myself. I was created to run to myself; to fully accept who I am at my core. This doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. I don't own my being and not grow. Quite the opposite. I believe once we accept who God created us to be, we can flourish. The opportunity for growth becomes exponential the moment we decide to love ourselves. We can establish a clear purpose when we decide to like who we are.

"But the one who loves God is known by God." 1 Corinthians 8:3

"But when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by His grace, was pleased" Galatians 1:15

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14

"My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth" Psalm 139:15

"Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them." Psalm 139:16

You and I, we are wonderfully made. We were created with purpose for a purpose. We were known before the world knew us. It is only fitting to accept our own creation for the Creator is the most stunning Artist we know.

Be bold today. Accept the beauty that resides within. You were created for a purpose for a future that is full of hope. Live out loud today. The world needs you!

Love & Blessings,
Meg






Monday, January 30, 2017

Boys Boys Boys

We talk a lot about how difficult it is to raise girls. There's so much to be feared when raising girls. Society tells us girls have to fight harder, work more, and ultimately beat the boys in order to get anywhere in life. Men will oppress our daughters sexualizing their every move. Our girls need protecting.

While I don't doubt it is tough to raise up a daughter, it is equally challenging to raise a son. Can we take a pause from the feminist movement and give light to the audacious task of raising boys? Our daughters will only benefit from raising valiant men.

I have three boys. I come from a family of girls. Seriously. I have one male cousin. My husband is the only boy out of five siblings. Although I was a tomboy as a kid, I have no idea what it means or feels like to be a boy. Not a clue. My boys do things that absolutely baffle me. For instance, why-oh-why can boys not keep their hands to themselves? Why is everything a competition? Who cares who gets to the bus stop first. Y'all have assigned seats. There is always something to climb, something disgusting to wipe on a surface it was not intended, some bodily function that is hilarious. Boys are weird. Boys are gross. But boys are also extraordinary creatures.

I love raising boys. I mean, I absolutely cannot imagine my life any other way. My boys love their mama something fierce even though they daily drive me bananas. They are strong yet gentle. Courageous yet humble. Sweet yet smelly.

The narrative tells my boys they are something to be feared. The world tells them they are overbearing monsters but when I look at my boys as they wander sleepily to the breakfast table hair disheveled, I don't see monsters. I see potential. I see world-changers. I see compassion, hope, and a future.

Just like girl mamas, I worry for my sons. I worry this world will swallow them whole. I fret they won't go after something because they don't want to step on a female's toes. I don't like that this world tells them they are predators and that they aren't needed. Girls can do things on their own. They don't need a man.

'The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”' Genesis 2:20-23

God created Adam knowing he would need another half. God knew Adam, while very capable, was not good alone. Thus, he created Eve. When I look at Genesis 2, I see such and intimate portrait of man and woman. Woman was created from a piece of man. She was formed beginning with a piece of her other half. God never intended for one of us to be over the other. Quite the opposite. We are part of each other: man and woman. We are vastly different yet, like a puzzle fitting together just so to make a masterpiece.

I am a strong and fierce woman. I know I can do and become whatever I I desire. I have the stamina and the will to fight for what I think is right for me. I am also strong enough to admit that I need my husband.

My husband and I are vastly different. We have taken those personality tests numerous times throughout our relationship and part of me secretly hopes that our results will somehow show we are similar. Nope. Never happens. We are always on two ends of the spectrum. And you know what? When we come together, we create this space where we compliment each other beautifully. He fills in where I am weak and I do the same for him. He is our stability when I am in an emotional upheaval. I am his softer side when it comes to consoling the boys. We push each other in areas where we need challenging. At the end of the day, we are better people because we have each other. This is what I want for my boys. I want them to know they are better humans because they have girls to complete their story.

I will teach my boys to respect women. I will train them to care for the ladies that come into their lives whether friend, girlfriend, or wife. I pray they see their mom love their father unconditionally coming alongside him as his teammate. I hope they see a woman who is strong yet gentle in their mama. I try to show them that sacrifice isn't a bad word and working hard really does pay off. I pray they see a marriage where a man and woman love each other so much, they are willing to sacrifice their dreams for the other. I hope they see a man and a woman who come together realizing they would be lost without the other when they look at their mom and dad.

My boys are just as valuable as your girls. Until we realize and accept this, we will continue to fight each other accomplishing very little instead of coming together making this world a better place.

God never intended for man to be better than woman or vise versa. His vision when he created Eve out of Adam's side was for two beings to come together united for the same purpose: working together in harmony. We can't have one without the other.

I pray for the world my boys are entering. I pray for the girls who will come into their lives. I pray my boys will lead confidently but with humility. I pray respect is in their nature and that they will care for the women in their lives. I also pray that they will stand boldly in their manhood realizing how valuable they are to this world. I pray they love their wives (if they should choose to marry one day) like their daddy loves their mommy: as Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25). Finally, I pray that all the girl mamas out there teach their daughters that all men aren't monsters; that they aren't something to be feared. My prayer is that we are teaching our daughters to respect our sons just as much as our sons should respect our daughters.i

We need each other. We were made to compliment one another. Let's show our sons and daughters how valuable they really are.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hold Up

Can I be vulnerable and raw for a minute? I want to be honest with y'all. You see, I am learning that I don't have all the answers. While I don't have all the answers, my response to so much these days is, "I don't know."

Do you feel it, too? Do you feel like everything is circling around you and you can't grasp at any of it. You hear the arguments. You listen to the debates. And while you may lean to one side, the opposition can make so much sense. So, there you sit. Stuck in the middle. Where ever the middle lands.

I am an educated woman. I am also a Christian. I like to call myself a forever student constantly seeking to learn more: more about my faith, more about parenting, more about my spouse and marriage, more about others who believe differently than me, more about opposing views. I cannot soak it all in fast enough. I have become my father who used to listen to his little hand-held radio only I have earbuds in listening to podcasts on my cell phone.

I want to know more because I want to understand. And, more than gaining insight, I want to get it right.

The Bible contains a lot of black and white. There is also a ton of gray space.

Love your enemy. Loathe what is against God. Fear not. Protect yourself. Open your doors to those others shun. Hate sin. Don't judge. Hold your fellow Christian accountable.

I mean, sometimes I want to say, "Throw me a bone. I'm tryin' here."

My own personal life is complicated. Add a bunch of other people who all have opinions and now you've really messed me up.

I want to get it right.

The only way I know how to get it right is to stand firm on the Cornerstone. The moment I allow politics, or whatever it may be, take up emotional space in me where it has no place, I did it wrong. When I remember the government rests on His shoulders, I rest. (Isaiah 9:6)

We have a need for defined morality. Many find that in organized religion. We look to the religious/the religion to chart our moral course. What if our moral compass, however, doesn't fall in the religious but the relational? Jesus was all about relationship. From the beginning of time in the book of Genesis we see relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We can find relationship within creation: time-space-matter. Relationship is evident at the very beginning of time. My morality is birthed out of my relationship with Jesus. The more I come to know Jesus, the more "moral" I become.

When we think of Jesus, we usually liken him to love. It's easy to throw the term "love" around easily and haphazardly. But, can we truly fathom the ramifications of love? Are we supposed to think about that? Or, are we to love unconditionally regardless of outcome? Am I responsible for the outcome?

We like to talk a lot about Jesus and how he loved. We like to connect that to how we should love others. While I think this is great in theory, at the end of the day, we are human. And, oftentimes, we are going to get this love thing wrong.

So, in this world where we like answers and we like them now, in a world of chaos where many are divided on whom we should love and how, how do we navigate the love of Jesus as evident in our lives? How do we find answers to these hard-hitting questions and realities we are all facing?

I don't know.

What I do know is that the more I learn about this Jesus guy, the more compassion I have for others. The more I hear about the decisions of leadership and how that may impact families, the more I lean in to learn from the marginalized and hear their stories.

One thing I am certain of is that the more we seek Him, the more we seek Jesus, the more our eyes are opened to how we must navigate out lives. Not others' lives. Our own lives. If anything positive has come from all this uproar, its that I am seeking more and more to find Jesus and listening more and more to those who differ from me. And it's been fascinating.

There's a big wide world outside my door. And there's an even bigger God that wants to guide my steps. I just have to let Him in.

Love & Blessings,
Meg


Monday, January 23, 2017

Say What You Need To Say

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

I love this verse. I love it so much, I painted it on a piece of wood and hung it above our fireplace. My heart bursts for justice, mercy, and humility. My soul longs for the three. I am passionate, so very passionate, about justice, mercy, and humility. So much so, that observing the state of our nation and the world around us makes me feel a physical discomfort so deep that oftentimes, I have to walk away and get alone to regroup and compose myself.

God calls us to mercy, justice, and humility throughout the Scriptures. Jesus lived this out in his 33 years on earth. So, it is only fitting that we are all wired for these three things. It is in our nature to have a response when we witness an injustice. We can understand when someone comes completely undone when another doesn't receive mercy where grace should abound. We naturally criticize the pompous who seem to lack one ounce of humility. We were built for justice, mercy, and humility.

Then, why do we get it so wrong so often?

If we are built, created for, justice, mercy, and humility, then why does our world seem so out-of-whack? If we carry these three truths, whether a Christian or not, the world should be peaceful. Of course, you are going to still have your crazies. But, the common community should reflect one of love and grace. Yet, that is not what many of us our witnessing as of late.

When it comes to justice, mercy, and humility, you can't have one without the other or you get off-balance. If your cry for justice outweighs your humility, pride and anger can sneak in. If you are too merciful, boundaries are lost and things get muddy. You cannot have one without the other. They are mutually exclusive. When one of the three takes over, pride, fear, anger, hostility, entitlement, and the like creep in.

I recently listened to a podcast where the host interviewed a Mormon and a Christian. She did not have these guests on to debate their differing theology. Instead, she interviewed the ladies because they are a unique pair. The two have come together unified to teach the people of their faiths about the other. They realized they can do greater good together than apart. Even though their belief systems disagree, their determination to live out the love, grace, and service of Jesus is the same. Because of this, they have set out to work together for the common good of man.

As I listened to these women, both were deeply passionate about their faith. Each lady believed their faith system was the right one. Even though their ideals oppose one another, they have found a way to listen and learn from each other with humility and grace. Thus, they are able to come together with a wider outreach to work for justice and show mercy.

When the host asked the ladies if they've received any push-back, both gave a resounding, "YES!" Ironically, the push back has not come from the general public. However, the opposition derived within their own congregation. The problem the Evangelicals and Mormons have with the women of their faith working together is that neither is trying to convert the other. Instead, their goal is to act justly towards one another, show each other mercy, and humbly learn from each other while serving others. Their goal is to love not to convert. The know that's God's job. Because they have humbly accepted their role in this equation that God has called them to, they are not easily offended by the other. Wow. What a concept.

If we find the balance between loving justice, seeking mercy, and walking humbly, our hard conversations with one another will be a lot more peace-filled. We will witness much more listening a whole lot less noise. When we refuse to allow justice to overtake mercy or humility to get lost in justice, we open the door to understanding others giving grace the way Jesus did.

Look, I would love to have the whole world know my Savior. Heck, I would be fulfilled if just my family and friends who didn't know Jesus came to know and accept him because I know what it's like on the other side. But, my role isn't converting every last person whether that be converting them to Christianity or to my cause of the moment. My role in this big wide world is to act justly towards those around me; especially those who oppose and think differently than me. I am to love mercy. That means I am merciful to those that offend and wrong me. And finally, I am to be humble. Pride has no place in my vocabulary or my life for it leads to anger, resentment, and hate.

Life is about others and when we are others-focused we naturally act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

May you act justly towards those who persecute you.
May you be merciful to those who offend you.
May you live humbly opening the door to listen more.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Monday, January 9, 2017

Asterisk

I was volunteering at church when I was approached by a woman. She had filled out one of our connection cards and I could tell she was a little teary. She commented that it was difficult to fill in her information because we have a specific section for "her" info and another place to put "his" info. Being newly divorced, this was extremely uncomfortable for her. She told me it was tough to fill out. She is new to the area and checking out churches. A friend suggested ours and she decided to check us out. Her church experience had been disheartening up until this point. She mentioned when others found out she was divorced they would treat her like she was "trashy" (her words). She said that word and tears immediately filled her eyes and my heart broke for her.

Sometimes in sports, when a player sets a record he may have an asterisk next to his name and his record. This could be because he wasn't fully qualified to defeat the previous record. While he did hold the best stat, something helped him or got in the way.

Oftentimes, we do this to people who walk through our church doors.

You can come, but you can't be divorced.
Our doors are opened, but you can't have an addiction.
You are struggling with a sexual sin? Sorry. Get that taken care of and come back when you are clean.

We could go on but it isn't necessary. You get the point. We have certain "sins" that are unacceptable in our House of Worship. It doesn't matter that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Our sin isn't as bad as theirs so we are good. There is an asterisk next to their name.

I think we forget that Jesus came for ALL. He didn't require us to get ourselves together before he could love us. Our salvation isn't dangling on a fishing line mocking us until we get that sin under control. No. He came for all while we were still a mess. No asterisk necessary.

"And he died for ALL, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 5:15 (emphasis mine)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (emphasis mine)

We have got to stop putting the asterisk next to our names; next to their names. We do it in our actions, in our thoughts, and in the looks we give and we have got to stop. Jesus came for all. Period. No asterisk.

The doors are open. You are welcome in this place. Come. Jesus is waiting. Your name can be written in his book. No asterisk. Just grace.

Love & Blessings,
Meg