Monday, October 13, 2014

Every Mercy We Need...

This April, my husband I will have been married for 9 years. Together for a total of 11. I know that's not much time to give me a platform on marriage expertise, however; we've experienced a lot in 9 years! A lot. Re-location (like 5 times), job loss, loss of a child, birth of two children, career shifts, just a lot of change.

We've learned God's mercies do not come in one color. They come in every shade of color in the rainbow of His grace! What His mercy IS... is predictable. Because it never stops flowing. And it changes everything forever for all upon who it's bestowed. If you've experienced it fully, you know what I'm talking about.

Its hard to extend this same mercy in our marriage relationship. My husband has the gift of mercy. He's genuinely one of the most kind, gentle, and compassionate men I know. He has plenty of faults, as do I. But he's never had an issue of showing me mercy. This keeps me humble and keeps me grounded. I know that in the midst of the challenges, sufferings, temptations, and sin struggles in our marriage, are the mercies my husband will show me. And I him. Because Christ has already done so for us.

My daddy gave me one piece of advice on my wedding day, that at the time made me think, "Gee... it's my wedding day. Are you trying to make me run?" But, I know now it was a word from the Lord that I have buried in my soul and God has since used to help me bestow mercy, even when I don't feel its deserved.

He said, "Maegan, I want you to know that God didn't give us marriage to make us happy, but to make us holy."

How's that for wedding day encouragement? :) It was wedding day truth.

Over the last 9 years, it's proven to be more true each day. Are we happy every day? No. Are we falling all over one another in love every day? No.

Do I know that Jeremy was created by God for me? Yes. Am I confident that if grounded in Christ, my love for him will never falter? Yes. It's not easy and it's not always blissful, but God's mercies for me never grow old. They never grow tired or weary (praise Him) and they never fail to meet the need. I do fail to meet my husband's needs. Every day. But we know that in remembering His mercies for us, we're able to offer mercy to each other, beyond our flesh.

So, if your marriage relationship is in a state of decay or perhaps you've fallen into the allusion that every day should be a happy fairy tale, read Psalm 115 today. Be reminded that this life is not about our happiness, but our holiness that ultimately points to the gospel and advances His Kingdom. Even in our marriages. God knew that we'd never be able to live this way, not just in marriage, but in life. So He sent His Son to live the life we couldn't and to die on our behalf. So that we'd have every mercy we need to live for His glory.

Instead of living your marriage for your own happiness, try living it for your holiness and for His glory. I assure you that He will transform your hearts in the process and point you toward a better way of living.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

National Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan declared so in 1988. He said, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner they're called a widow or widower. When a parent loses a child, there isn't a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the US and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes."

A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking to women at The Amelia Center, here in Birmingham, in honor of their 22nd annual Walk to Remember, which they host every October. It was one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding opportunities I've ever had. I knew after that experience that God wanted to use my deepest pain as the launging pad to my greatest calling.

This Saturday, I'm so humbled to share God's story of faithfulness again with the women's ministry of Columbiana First Baptist. It's going to be a heart warming and powerful time of worshiping the King of Kings together. In light of what this month is, how appropriate to honor precious little lives of those we've lost by recalling God's goodness and faithfulness to us, even in grief!

For the longest time, I've yearned to be able to provide a resource to women God has placed in my path to minister to. There's numerous secular resources written my medical professionals, grief counselors, and such but not many that tell you how to pray, how to feel, where to place your hope, or that offer daily encouragement in God's Word. There are a few books written as narrative nonfiction, telling other women's personal stories, but I've always felt the Lord calling me to something different. I know personally, in trying to navigate through our journey of healing- I needed a devotional- something I could grab every day that would point me to what God's Word says about my situation and how I could glorify Him in it.

So, I suppose now is as good of time as any to make you aware that you'll be able to share this resource soon with a friend who's mourning their loss. Or perhaps its for yourself- because you still need hope in your journey toward healing as well. Either way, my heart's desire is that you will find God's provision of this deep place in your life as the ultimate place of hope and comfort.

While grief never really has an expiration date, hope doesn't either.

Christ in us, the hope of all glory, is why we tell our stories. It's why we keep pressing on. It's why we live.

For the Lord does not cause pain without allowing something new to be born. Isaiah 66:9

Coming to an Amazon near you, soon... Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giving Him My Time

We closed out summer this past weekend at my favorite place on earth. Since I was a baby we've been going to Dauphin Island so it's like a second home. We've had birthday celebrations, wedding celebrations, 4th of July celebrations, Thanksgiving holidays, and more on that little slab of paradise.

This year was different.

It almost had kind of a new year's resolution vibe to it. I found myself wanting to usher in September and the fall season with an intentional perspective of my time. To purposefully push away the desire for over-activity. As I get ready to usher in a new season I don't want to miss Him in every moment. His character is woven into every story, His presence in every moment, and His wisdom in every line of the text. All we have to do is look.

But what if I'm too busy to notice? What if I'm so caught up in the busy-ness of trying to please others that I miss it?

With my uncle and granddaddy now gone, and so much of our family shifting/changing, I found myself pausing a little longer to take in certain moments and being more intentional to have the same conversations with my children that my family has had with me. Some families gather for the sake of gathering. There's really no intentional investment in their time together- no marks on eternity- but rather just a physical presence of being, because that is what's expected.

I realized this weekend that life doesn't afford that. Time does not allow for surface-level chats and fellowship without meaning. Relationships without meaning. We honor Him with the way we spend our time. How you spend your life is how you spend your soul.

In planning for the fall and sitting down last night with my planner and sharpee, that truth hit home. It is easy to become overwhelmed with responsibilities that lie ahead and think "how am I going to give my children the best of me when there's X, Y, and Z...?" But, then the Spirit recalled Psalm 37:5. He will redeem my time. If I commit all my ways to Him and lean into Him every day, He will do it. By His strength everything will get accomplished for His glory and my husband, my babies, my family and friends will have what they need.

Recently I read an interview by Meryl Streep that I loved. I don't know where she stands spiritually, but I couldn't hep but agree wholeheartedly with her words from the standpoint of wanting to give Him my time and the best of my life.

I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I have become arrogant, but simple because I have reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time.

I would concur. So, when you make your fall plans and preparations and feel overwhelmed, stop and ask God how He wants you to invest your time.

When you say yes to something there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less. - Louie Giglio