Monday, December 1, 2014

Understand What You Don't Know

God is working on me to screen my words through my brain before I allow them to spill over into my attitude. My thoughts, when controlled by the external, throw my pursuit of joy off balance. He is always working to perfect us, to complete us, and my awareness of thought is more in tune to this now than ever. Our desire to love Him with the understanding of our minds should be pursued as much as with our hearts. You can read more about this subject on a former post I wrote about loving God with your mind.

It was early. I had just dropped my children off at preschool and was heading to the office to celebrate several colleagues' birthdays in the midst of a busy day.

Dang it. I forgot the cupcakes.

While my full intention was healthy, sugar-free baked from scratch for the Gluten-free on my team, Publix deli was just going to have to do. It hadn't been a smooth morning thus far and I was determined to refocus on the way to work.

I was trying to maneuver around her massive stroller and Michael Kors diaper bag. I can empathize with over-sized baby gear as much as the next mama, but she seemed completely oblivious that I needed to be where she was standing.

And how can you be aware when you're on your cell phone?! Obviously a deep conversation that occupied her full attention and blinded her peripheral vision.

Really?! I mean, not all moms have time to grocery shop in our stilettos! Who shops at Publix at 9am anyway? This is my thought process...

Completely over it all, I headed in a different direction to search for an alternative. Donuts. Girl on a mission. 

But because the Lord has a brilliant sense of humor I landed behind stiletto girl in the check out line. Ahhh...

Because she was still on her cell phone and my position had made sure I was standing still, I could hear her conversation. 

"I just needed to get out and do something normal, you know? I even made a to-do list last night just to have something to look forward to today. It's the first time I've worn make up and real clothes in 3 weeks. How sad is that? Grocery shopping is something I always dreaded and he was so good at it. I guess I just wanted to see if I could do something normal without thinking of him."

From what I was allowed to hear, I assumed she had just lost someone near and dear to her. Could it be her husband or this sound sleeping child's daddy? 

Suddenly, I felt sick to my stomach and at my ability to so quicky let the disruption of my agenda affect my mind to make assumptions based on what I didn't know. 

In our daily efforts to cultivate joy, peace and to emulate christ, we must be serious about loving God with our mind and our thoughts. We've got to be mentally tough to cut through layers of surface level judgements and understand what we do not know. 

He requires us to express our love for Him by looking deep into our minds to consider our thoughts before we let them shape our attitude and response to the hurting. 

Psalm 64:6 says, "Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep." What happens in the secret place of the mind matters. I want to be the kind of woman that shows the people God places around me the love of Jesus. But the fact is I can lose sight of how to exemplify the kind of patient understanding Christ gives to me when I'm overwhelmed or too focused on my agenda to try to look past what I don't know. 

This little personal lesson was timely for me as we're approaching the busiest time of the year. Don't allow the overwhelm-ness of life to blind your understanding of what you don't know. Look at everything around you with the eyes of Christ and dig deep into your mind to consider how you can love Him well with your thoughts! 

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!