Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Alone

I woke up before everyone the other day. This is a miracle in my home since I have such early risers. I made myself a cup of coffee, grabbed my book and my Bible, and headed outside. It had rained the night before, so this summer morning was cool and enjoyable. I sat in the silence for a bit taking in the sights and smells of aloneness. It was wonderful.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

For the most part, I don't like being alone. I like the hustle and bustle of people around me. I like to serve others and feel needed. I sleep with the TV on when my husband is away. However, I also enjoy a quiet car where I get to choose what's on the radio and no one is asking for snacks or irritating his brother.

There's value in being alone. In our culture, being alone isn't celebrated like it should. We thrive on being known. In school, we chase popularity. In adulthood, it's marriage we celebrate not singleness. We find worth in how many followers and likes we get on social media. Aloneness isn't celebrated or valued. Instead, many assume that being alone must mean there is something wrong with you.

Jesus was strategic in finding ways to be alone. He always had people following him holding onto every word he spoke. He had such a large crowd at one point that he had to get in a boat and preach from the water because there was no room for him on the shore. He knew, however, the value of being alone. Verse after verse tells us how he valued alone time.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them.” (Luke 6:12-13)

“When Jesus heard what had happened [that John the Baptist was beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” (Matthew 14:13)

“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)

Jesus knew there was value in being alone. We need to grasp onto the understanding that being alone isn't a bad thing. It is a blessing. When I am alone I am replenished in the stillness. The quiet refills my soul. I find myself when I am alone. I discover who I am, who I need to be, how I need to better myself. I find God when I am alone. I see him in nature and my surroundings when I stop and remove myself from everything and everyone else.

We celebrate so much in this culture but being alone isn't one of them and I wonder why. Don't be afraid of being alone. Don't run from loneliness. There is value waiting for you in that space. If it's ten minutes or ten years, look for the blessing in being alone. If Jesus chased aloneness, then there must be something to it. Go be alone today. I bet you won't feel that lonely.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2 Become 1 = Me

'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.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.' Genesis 2:22-26

When Scott and I were first married, we met with our pastor and his wife for two reasons: tithing and moving. We brought some serious debt to the table when we got married so tithing was difficult in the beginning. Scott also wanted to move out of state because California was so extraordinarily expensive. I, on the other hand, fought him tooth and nail on the subject. I could not imagine leaving my family and friends. Our pastor quoted Genesis 2:24 when we brought of the subject of moving and I knew he was right.

We all know that when we get married, we become one. We are still our independent selves, however, we add a layer of oneness when we enter the covenant of marriage. What we don't realize when we take that step is that becoming one means we die to self and our selfishness to a certain extent.

When asked about how she supports her husband, Maria Goff said she had to let go of the idea that two become one equals me. I about stopped dead in my tracks when I heard her words. They are and were so profound. My first thought was that this statement is so very true. My second thought was how this statement is the reason so many marriages fail.

When we become one with our spouse, we subconsciously assume that means they take on our characteristics. Becoming one means you become like me. And when you don't become like me, well, then you are just plain wrong and need to change. I think part of the reason we do this is out of fear of losing ourselves and, quite frankly, we like the way we do things.

Once we realize two becoming one does not mean we have to lose our identity, we can surrender and let go a little. Two becoming one doesn't mean who you are is gone. Rather, it means you are willing to sacrifice and surrender a little for the betterment of the whole; the marriage.

My husband and I are two completely different people. And when I say completely different, I mean it. We always fall on opposite ends of the spectrum when taking personality tests. He's an introvert and could live on an island alone while I am the extrovert who needs people around all the time. He is quiet and subdued and I am loud and emotional. We are two vastly different people and yet, we have not lost ourselves in our marriage. He is still him and I am still me. We have learned how to come together and make one another better and yes, we have sacrificed a little along the way.

Maria Goff described it this way. Her husband, Bob Goff, is the balloon. She is the string. You see the balloon and don't ever really notice the string unless you're the one holding it. However, the balloon would fly away without the string. You need both. They compliment each other. That's marriage: the ability to go unnoticed so your spouse can live out their purpose. A little bit of sacrifice without losing yourself.

Becoming one doesn't mean you lose yourself. It also doesn't mean only one personality thrives while the other dies off. Instead, you figure out who is the balloon and who is the string sometimes taking turns being both.

I have been married for almost fifteen years. It seems like a long time but I know we are still babies in this journey. I have learned through the years that I am far better off when I meet him in the middle instead of trying to force a square peg in a round hole desiring my spouse to do things my way; become like me. I don't want to be married to me. I honestly don't know how he's done it all these years. What I do know, is that when I let go and surrender in my marriage truly becoming one with my spouse, I experience the deepest love and greatest blessing.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Terms

Did you ever make a list of qualities your future spouse had to have in order for you to marry him? I never actually wrote out a list, but I had one. I had my whole life planned out at 18. I was going to get married at 21 years old. Have my first child at 24. I would have a boy and a girl. I would teach for a little while and then move to the district office and write curriculum. We would live in Southern California by family and friends. I had terms. And God didn't listen.

Have you ever stepped into something and said, "Nope. This does not fit my terms so it must not be for me." We give our God our list of terms and tell him to sign on the dotted line. No room for his plan here. His plan is my plan. I mean, it placed those desires in my heart right (Psalm 37:4)?

'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

We like to know God has a plan for our life. It brings us peace in the unknown. We get confused though. We know he has a plan but when that plan does not fit our terms, we assume its not for us and its not from him.

It's time we crumble up our lists of demands and throw it in the trash; set it on fire.

Does he have a plan for each and everyone of us? Absolutely. Does he place desires in our hearts? Sure. Does the plan always work out according to our list of qualifications? Almost never.

I did get married but had to go through some challenging junk with my husband before walking down the aisle. At 24. I did have kids: three boys. I didn't start having them until I was 28. I taught for a little bit but never made it to the district office. I also didn't stay in California. And you know what? I absolutely hands-down know he orchestrated it all. Every single step.

I fought him hard on so much. I made the journey so much more difficult than it needed to me all because he didn't meet my terms. I have learned that it's okay to have lists, but you have to be flexible. We have to let life play out. We are so tight-fisted holding onto to that list of terms that we miss God. We miss his story for our lives making the journey tough to get through.

God doesn't play on our terms. He doesn't follow our rules. Life isn't full in that space. It's boxed in and loses its luster. Life happens in the space outside the lines; outside our terms. Let go a little bit and trust that he actually does have your best interest at heart. He knows you and what you need better than you know yourself. He was the one who created you. Trust him to write your story. Let go. Set them on fire if you need to. Throw the terms away. It's time to start living.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Friday, June 16, 2017

YOU

"Heaven will tell the stories the earth missed." Jenni Allen

This week I witness over 200 volunteers serve in various capacities. We had the front and center servants on stage in crazy costumes singing, dancing, and acting out funny parts. You had those who braved the Texas summer heat and played games with kids all morning long. Then there were those who were the creatives bringing Bible stories to life through a gadget. Then there were those who cut, prepared, and served over 600 snacks each day. I also saw countless people leading and guiding kiddos from station to station keeping them engaged, dealing with those behaviors that can be frustrating, and loving on them like Jesus. Last, and certainly not least, I watched men and women put in countless hours behind the scenes making things happen so this event could be a success. Some of these people were seen. Some received praise for their service. Others remained under the radar and will never be praised on this earth for helping change the lives of countless children. The accolades did not matter. These beautiful people served any way.

My husband is really good about knowing who he is. He doesn't try to be someone else. He doesn't care if people like him or not. He is not out to try and prove himself to others. He doesn't need praise, titles, and awards. Me, on the other hand? It feels real good when someone pats me on the back. I do things under the radar but every now and then, I need that compliment, someone to notice me, to propel me forward.

We honestly don't know what stories are the big ones and which are the small ones. Only Heaven will tell. So, why not live small?!

We are all created differently. I think we can all agree on that. We were built to do different things for different purposes. This is what makes this world so extraordinary. I was talking to my neighbor the other day. Her family is adjusting to some changes and its pulling her out of the comfort of her introverted self. Parts of it are uncomfortable and parts are wonderful. Change is like that. While I was listening to her, a thought crossed my mind. Why do we strive to be what we weren't created to be?

I was rejected a couple of times this past year. I went for things I thought I could do, only to be told no. It hurt. It stung. I felt all the feelings. I knew I could do these things and I knew I could do them well. However, the people behind the "no" saw that I was created to do something different. They saw the opportunity as limiting and not utilizing my gifts to their fullest capacity. I didn't like those "no-s." Who does? I felt the stab of that answer. But, once the dust cleared, I realized my value to the Kingdom, to this earth, is not rolled up in those missed opportunities. So, I keep-on-keepin'-on owning who I am where I am serving the best I know how.

God designed you and me exactly as we are for a specific purpose. He needs the introvert AND the extrovert. I see how beautifully that works in my marriage (even though we do sometimes clash). We need both. We need those on stage and those in the background. If we didn't have all kinds of personalities, this world would be dull and gray.

When it comes to serving as Christians, I think we feel like we always have to do more: bigger, better, grander. What we don't realize, is that we need each of us just as we are serving together to create a master piece for His glory. When we try to be something we are not because we feel we aren't good enough just the way we are, we lose sight of our purpose and His mission.

We have given value to certain things here on earth. We have made it known that a microphone and a platform have far more power and are more important than the man running the sound board. What we don't realize is that without the sound technician, there is no sound.

Be who you are. Own yourself for you are exquisite. God designed you as that introvert to do GREAT and MIGHTY things just as he created the extrovert to do the same. We need both. Heaven knows the small stories matter. Look at Jesus. He was a carpenter. He chose to be around those who were marginalized and forgotten; the people others shunned because they didn't have value. He knows we are wired to look at the stage first so he chose to be with those who would have hung the lights and set the stage. That's you. And that's me.

Serve where you belong. You matter there. I witnessed 600 kids be served this week by people were willing to sacrifice their time and not be seen in order for a life to be changed. And I can guarantee you, when these precious kiddos grow up, they will remember that leader who held their hand far more than the songs on stage.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Nothing to Prove

"How sweet is your name, Lord, how good You are
Love to sing in the name of the Lord, love to sing for you all?
Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again"
What a Beautiful Name
Hillsong Worship


Have you ever felt the need to prove yourself? That's probably a silly question. We all doubt ourselves at some point. But, I have to ask, because many of us live out each day trying to prove something to someone without even realizing we are doing it. We get stuck in the endless cycle of not-good-enough and fall into the trap of striving towards the unattainable and that which was not meant for us.

Have you ever...
-felt like an outcast
-doubted your ability
-convinced yourself there was no way you could do something
-felt unworthy
-felt too fat, too skinny, too shy, too loud, too dumb, too smart, too ugly
-felt like you don't fit the mold so you must not fit in
-seen someone else achieve the dream you have crushing all your hopes
-felt like you will never measure up

I have felt all those things and more. I am a pretty competitive person. Tell me I can't do something and that usually ignites a fire inside me to prove you wrong. Not to shove it in your face that I can do what you say I cannot. Rather, it's to prove to myself that I can; that I am stronger than I think I am. However, this does not limit me from not feeling good enough; from skirting the constant desire to prove myself.

Most of us Christians know in our heads that our value and worth do not lie in this world. Society and culture do not dictate our confidence. Yet, so many of us, most of us, live like we believe Christ as our confidence. We live in a constant state of proving and it's time we are done.

I love the song, "What a Beautiful Name," by Hillsong Worship. It is a simple, yet powerful, message of the glory of God. One portion of the song pierced my soul deep. The lyrics say, "You silenced the boast, of sin and grave." This right here about did me in.

I know Easter has passed, but give me a moment to head back there and talk for a minute about Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. You see, we have church on Friday remembering the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. It's usually a somber service recalling the death our Savior experienced for each of us. Then, come Sunday, we celebrate jubilantly praising God for raising Jesus on that third day. We forget about Saturday. The silence of Saturday must have been deafening.

Whenever I think about that Saturday, I can't help but wonder what the world was doing, how they were reacting, on that day. Were Jesus' enemies rejoicing gloating over their victory? Where his followers curled up in each others homes crying and completely somber? Would there be disciples who made a fuss trying to prove that Jesus is actually who he says he is even though his body lay in a tomb? How much proving was going on from Jesus' followers? How many of them cried out and fought to prove Jesus was the Messiah? I wonder.

This song, however, states that he silenced death and he did it without proof. Let me explain. Jesus didn't have to resurrect on Saturday in order to hurry up and prove himself because the proof was already there: in the silence. He knew, and I believe his followers knew as well, that the silence of the grave on that Saturday only strengthened the proof of Jesus' power. And this is where we need to live.

We are already proven. Our value, our worth, our purpose solidified. We have nothing to prove because all has already been proven thru Christ. You are good enough, worthy enough, smart enough, valuable because of Jesus. Period. No need to strive to prove how beneficial you are. You matter to the One who silenced the boast of the grave. You matter more than you could ever fathom. It's about time we lay all the proving down and live like it.

And, when we feel like we aren't good enough (because that is going to happen more often than not), we let him fill in the gaps like only he can. If the One who had everything to lose if he didn't prove himself remained silent on that Saturday, than we don't have to shout our value from the mountaintops. Let him speak for you. Let him fill in the gaps. You have nothing to prove.

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Celebrate Life

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

John 10:10 is a common verse. It is used all the time to talk about how God gives us a good life to live. Some hold onto these words so tightly thinking life will be grand the moment they believe. Others wonder where this good life can be found. Jesus is talking, mostly, about eternity; that when we find him we will open ourselves up to a life of eternity that is so good it's unimaginable. I like to also believe, however, that Jesus is communicating that life can be good once we begin following after him regardless of circumstance.

I don't know about you, but I sometimes have a difficult time enjoying life. This world is so harsh, there is so much hurt, that sometimes I feel bad for being happy. I watch my friends and loved ones go through excruciating things and sometimes feel guilty that I am sitting over in my corner enjoying myself. I feel deep and heavy for others, whether I know them or not. This is a blessing and a curse.

May is the month of crazy for our family. Everything happens in May. We have three birthdays (four if you include the one at the end of April), teacher appreciation, sports ending (meaning nutty play-off schedules), Mother's Day, end of the year activities, end of the year projects, and life. I knew this May was going to be especially bonkers because I had a fifth grader ending elementary school and I was his room mom. This meant extra activities and responsibilities. In these situations, I typically become hyper-focused and start crossing things off my list one-by-one.

Finished birthday number one. Check. One thing down. Whew.

Teacher appreciation. Done and done. Cross it off that list.

This year, however, I had a different attitude. I don't know why. I didn't make a conscious shift. I didn't give myself a pep-talk to enjoy every moment because they are so fleeting. It just kind of happened. I celebrated life.

With each passing activity, I was in the moment living it out to the fullest. I laughed and cried and felt all the feelings. I celebrated my kids as they turned a year older. We screamed and hollered from the stands cheering on our little baseball team as they edged their way through the playoffs. I attended all the "last" activities with my big kid and enjoyed every single second.

Ah. It felt good to celebrate life.

It's easy for me to let the "thief" in to steal my joy. It's simple for me to turn to the stress or sadness of the moment and pitch a tent there. But, there's something so freeing when you can look at the life before you and celebrate it in all its glory. This doesn't mean that you disregard the mourning of friends. I don't turn my back when a tragedy strikes my community or the surrounding world. What it does mean is that I let God rule in my heart and let him lead me in this precious gift called life celebrating his extravagance in each moment.

God calls us to a life of abundance. It's a choice. We get to choose whether we celebrate or park it in the sullen gray area.

I will say, May felt a little less crazy because I celebrated in the chaos. I enjoyed the moments that yes, are so very fleeting. I think we sometimes feel like we need permission to celebrate life. Well, here's your permission. God calls us to a full life so what are you waiting for? Start celebrating!

Love & Blessings,
Meg

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Birds

A few months ago, I walked into my house from the garage and heard an odd sound. I couldn't quite figure out where it was coming from nor could I decipher what on earth was making that sound. I stood silently for a second and realized the noise was coming from upstairs. Upon further investigation, I realized we had a bird trapped in our house. I ran downstairs and knocked on my husband's office door. I mouthed, "There's a bird in the house!" in a panicked, yet silent, tone. He mouthed back, "I'm on a call. I can't help." Grrrrrreat. That means I have to get the bird. Alrighty-then. I grabbed my gym towel and crept up the stairs. The bird was frozen, so I took advantage of the situation and gently grabbed the dove with the towel. I carried it downstairs and set her on the table outside. I was soon knocked in the head by her partner as he swooped down to rescue her and they flew away.

The very next day, my husband and I were both sidelined by birds in our garage. We went outside on separate occasions only to have birds buzz our heads. We shooed them out but they kept coming back. A couple days later, we thought we had rid ourselves of all the bird shenanigans, but we were wrong. My husband jumped in his truck and headed out on a quick errand. When he parked, he noticed a bird sitting on his hood on the passenger side. He thought it was odd, but the bird flew away when he got out. As he walked back to his car, he noticed there was a nest on his truck. The birds that tormented us in the garage decided to make their home on a truck. Awesome.

The bird fiasco did not end there. We ended up having an injured bird in our garage a week later and another dove build a nest on a high shelf in our garage. This is the bird I really want to tell you about.

I have the same routine every morning. When I wake up, I go through the process of opening all our curtains and blinds at the front of our house. I started to notice a bird sitting on our front porch every morning when I'd open the curtains. I walk around, turn the coffee pot on, feed the dog, and head to the garage to get the boys' backpacks from their lockers outside. I started opening the garage door at that time to let the mama bird out since she'd been trapped in the garage all night on her nest. I am crazy, I know. And that's when I put two-and-two together. The bird I saw every morning when I opened the curtains was her mate. He was waiting to get to his lady friend probably to feed her.

One day, when I opened the curtains and saw him on the porch I had an epiphany: That bird is just like God. God is fully committed to us; to you and to me. He is always there patiently waiting for us to open the curtains. He desires to feed us and even check on us. The little bird mate would sit on the fence or the boys' playhouse if we had the garage open just to check on his love. God does that. He sits quietly checking on us. Sometimes, He even swoops down and buzzes us to get our attention. Sometimes we miss him and don't notice him sitting on the front porch. We get distracted and don't realize he is on the fence waiting for us to look up. But, he is always there; steady.

It's ironic that we have been swarmed with birds. We are animal lovers here at the Fish house all of us wanting to be on a real farm one day. I would laugh every time another animal came around knowing it was God's way of giving me a little piece of what I dream to have one day. Isn't it interesting that he would teach me something about the value of his dedication and his one true love for me through a dove. Very fitting if you ask me :)

Love & Blessings,
Meg

"After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him" Matthew 3:16

"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5

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