Friday, March 6, 2015

Visible or Invisible

"Father, you know us in secret, and you know all our secret places. What we do to benefit your kingdom will not be lost if it is not seen by others, for you see and you reward according to your grace and mercy. Strengthen us to do good works, visibly or invisibly, always in your name." 
G.K. Chesterton

I was particularly drawn to this quote as I read this a few days ago. There is much of my personality and make-up that longs to be part of visible works. I enjoy public speaking, training and mentoring opportunities, leading/facilitating groups and teaching in any size venue. I've come to recognize these as positive things that when used by God can build up the body of Christ. While these desires and skills have the ability to build up the body they are only the visible side of Christlike servant-hood.

For the past few years God has been working on my heart to build skills in the visible and the invisible works set before me. The journey of understanding and following the Spirit's lead in both the big and the little things is humbling and convicting. Here are a few things I am learning.

  • To God be the Glory - The motivations of the heart are what God longs to define. All the work I do is worship to Him whether I am cognizant of it or not. I can worship God just as fully whether I am washing the dishes, reading a book to my children, enjoying a conversation with my husband or leading a bible study. Compartmentalizing life into sacred and secular activities is a human notion, not a Godly one. All work in life is spiritual when the motive is God's glory. 
  • Growth is more important than idealized balance or perfection - I hear people talk about balance all the time. I talk and think about balance much of the time as well. Unfortunately, it's my experience that balance is a very fluid idea. I tend to agree with Holley Gerth when she says, "I don't believe in balance - there's never a time in our lives when the withdrawals and deposits work out perfectly. Life is too messy and unpredictable." Regarding visible and invisible works there will be seasons in which there appears to be no balance. (Hello mom's of little ones who long to participate fully in something!) Longing for everything to work out perfectly will skew my vision about what God wants me to be doing. Growing closer to God in whatever season I find myself is a far better goal than seeking balanced perfection.
  • Comparison will steal my joy - "How does she do it all?" "If only I could get my life together, then I could serve God more fully." Statements, questions and comparisons definitely have the tendency to creep into my life. When left unhindered my joy and contentment will disappear. I have found that living in step with the Spirit and turning a deaf ear to these comparisons is the only way to live at peace. Taking one step after another on the path God has placed in front of me is the only way I know how to live. Not jumping ahead (my tendency) or lagging behind but staying in step. Responding to the people, circumstances and opportunities as they arise give way to contentment and fulfillment.
  • God's path for me is unlike His path for any other - This isn't simply a rewording of the point on comparison. I am learning that my life is entirely my own. My unique personality, gifts and abilities, circumstances and sufferings were given to me to be used by God and impact the world around me. Whether the impact is seemingly more visible or invisible is beside the point. The point is that I don't miss out on Who God is and what He is calling me to do. I don't have to live in fear or doubt that I'm "not enough" for God. God sees everything I do and when I am faithful to attend to the people and opportunities He places on my path I can be confident I am following His will for my life. 

I certainly don't have everything figured out and I am a work in progress. I am still pondering some deep questions and trying to seek His voice in certain areas of my life. These are just some of the convictions I have developed over the last few years. I hope that there is something that you can learn or apply from my sharing these thoughts with you. Thanks for reading.

Blessings!


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Soundtrack

A year ago today my mom passed from this life to the next. I miss her everyday. Since none of my friends were able to make it to the funeral I wanted to share the eulogy I spoke that day. I am sharing it here just as I wrote it that week. No grammatical changes or refining. As part of my remembering and grieving I want to share her story with the world. 




“It’s an honor to be here today to share a few words about my mom. So many thoughts and memories rushed to my mind when I sat down to prepare what I was going to say today. Memories of her fierce love for her family and her genuine care and concern for everyone she met. I thought about her contagious smile, prayerful heart and gentle spirit. Today however, I want to share with you about two of her favorite things in life, her love of music and her faith in God.

Mom began sharing the gift of music so many years ago. From directing a choir of sorority sisters, to Easter sunrise services, One Achord and the Campraise Orchestra.
She was even the director of our family ministry, Mountain Top Experience. She was always sharing the gift of music. But even more than simply sharing the gift of music I believe my mom was inviting us to take part in the eternal anthem.

For my mom, music and performing were not about making much of herself and her life. She willingly traded in her lead role to take on a supporting role in the grand story of God. Through sharing music with countless individuals mom was adding to the soundtrack of the amazing and unending story of God. Her example to me, to all of us, is that our life’s purpose is meant to bring glory and renown to God and God alone. The soundtrack of mom’s life was beautifully orchestrated by the Creator of the universe, because she willingly gave up her life to add to the melodious sound of the eternal anthem of God’s glory.

The second aspect of my mom’s life that binds many of the hearts in this room is her faith. Perhaps it was through a handwritten note, a jar of shells, a teacup, a listening ear or a copy of her favorite devotional, “Streams in the desert”. Oh how many lessons I could learn from observing my mom’s faith.

She loved without borders, trusted unwaveringly, suffered graciously and surrendered completely. During her most difficult times her faith did not waver. The intimacy with which she approached her walk with her Savior is an inspiration to me and I’m sure to many of you.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to serve and worship alongside my mom since I was a child. Her faith was deeply personal and widely spread. She shared with gentleness, deep conviction and most of all compassion. She was always inviting people to find strength, peace, purpose and hope from the Savior she knew and loved.

Each day she walked with humility and mercy. Her daily life was a sweet aroma that came from her time spent with God. She knew God and lived in the overflow of a deeply personal and intimate relationship with her Savior Jesus Christ. The legacy of faith she has passed on has rippled far wider than we may ever know.

Even in this moment, this celebration of her life, she wants to pass on her faith. To tell you about her Jesus – her rock, her friend, her Savior. She chose the songs and verses shared here today as an invitation to all of us. An invitation and opportunity to walk through life knowing personally the Savior who guided her, comforted her and walked with her throughout her life.

As I watched my mom live out the soundtrack of her life to the glory of God, we who remain are invited as well to come to Jesus. To respond to His call and to grow in a personal relationship with Him.

The following song is the final anthem my mom wanted to share in the soundtrack of her life. This is her hearts deepest desire to share with you.”


 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

On Orange, Happiness and Surrender

I began the summer studying Esther with Beth Moore so it is very fitting I ended my summer with the final week on our vacation at the beach.

I wanted to finish my final day at the beach, wearing orange. Why orange? It has always been and will forever be my favorite color. Orange simply makes me smile every time I see it and after a year of plenty of tears and turmoil, I wanted to wear orange and be happy. Having never been one to decorate with or wear orange, I found the perfect orange dress and bought it immediately.



"We often speak of happiness as a less noble term than joyfulness because the former is circumstantial and the latter less conditional. I won't argue with that, but when God intervenes in our circumstances and we get a chance not only to know we're blessed but feel blessed, nothing is more appropriate than seizing the happy moment. 'A time of happiness' can come like a shot of B-12 to the soul to boost your system when darkness spreads once again like a virus." ~ Beth Moore, Esther (week 8, day 5)

The story God has penned into my life is complex and at times difficult. I'm sure the story of your life is the same. There have been circumstances over the last 6 months that have tempted me to throw my hands in the air and give up. My study this summer taught me that giving up is not the answer, surrender is. The challenges of our lives are unknown to us and the cost of surrender is great. The great news though is that God knows us by name and He wants to write our story.  Through surrender I am able to open the pages of my heart to be written and rewritten by the Author and Perfecter of my faith. A challenge? You bet it is, but there is no other way. So I will continue to learn and relearn how to surrender and God will faithfully craft His story in my life. He will do the same for you. Will you let Him?

Blessings!

Edisto Island, SC 


Monday, June 2, 2014

God's Pen

"When we trust our lives to the hand and pen of an unseen but ever-present God, he will write our lives into His story and every last one of them will turn out to be a great read. With a grand ending. And not just in spite of those catastrophes. Often because of them. Don't just wait and see. Live and see." Beth Moore ~ Esther



Those words jumped off the page at me this morning at the close of my day one study of Esther (Beth Moore ~ Esther, It's Though Being a Woman). As the author and perfecter of my faith (see Hebrews 12:2) God is writing my life into His story. I find both freedom and the space to dream within that truth. Freedom that my life has great meaning but at the same time I'm not required to have it all figured out. Dreams are awakening in me again, dreams that haven't had space to develop in quite some time.

My prayer this morning reads, "Lord, I pray for this new day, this week, this season. My weaknesses will abound and surface everyday. I am aware of this in myself and those I live with. With your help I won't get stuck condemning myself or those I love for these weaknesses but instead I will choose to lean on You despite them."

At the start of this summer I am not afraid to take inventory of the events of the past year. I'm not shying away from the emotions, fears, struggles and pain that have been written into my story. I will never attain health by denying, ignoring or escaping reality. I truly want to "live and see" the unfolding story of God's grace and love in my life and the lives of those around me. Today, I am holding on to God, His truth and His love. The story He is writing is worth living out and I am clinging to Him and the "grand ending" His has in mind.

The new David Crowder song "I Am" has been my declaration as of late. I am holding on.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Useful

For a period of three years we had a broken dishwasher. It sat there taking up space but being entirely useless. Not wanting to have a huge hole in the kitchen cabinets while simultaneously not desiring to spend money on a new one led to the decision of keeping it around. The purpose the appliance was created for went unfulfilled. Tonight I remembered that broken dishwasher while helping the girls with their Bible memory verse.

"God has breathed life into all of Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right." (2 Timothy 3:16 NIRV)

Did you catch how this verse specifically shares four purposes of scripture?

1. Teaching what is true.
2. Correcting our mistakes.
3. Making our lives whole again.
4. Training us to do what is right.

I don't know about you, but I sure could use some help in all those areas and in my current season, a life made whole is very appealing. However, if I don't take time to read , study, reflect on and ponder what is laid out in the Bible I cannot benefit from it. "God has breathed life" into the Bible. Life that I need. With all of life's uncertainties and heartaches of this I remain sure, God's Word will meet me there. You can be met there as well. 

In her song The Word, Sara Groves states it like this,

"And I think it's very odd,
that while I attempt to help myself
My Bible sits upon my shelf
With every promise
I could ever need"

The messages of hope, restoration, healing, forgiveness, grace, joy, love and so many other encouragements resound throughout scripture. I'm not saying that taking steps to carve out time or to work through the emotions that may keep you from opening the Bible will be easy but it will always prove beneficial.

The Word is useful. It is useful in my life and yours. I encourage you to discover or rediscover just how useful and powerful the Word can be in your life.

Blessings!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A challenge and a reminder

"But God!?!"

Anytime those words creep into my soul I know God is pressing in to teach me something. Perhaps it's something I've never learned before. Maybe it's a reminder of things forgotten. It's even possible it will lead to conviction and change. Whatever the reason, I know God is up to something.

Most recently I felt these words in my heart as God impressed upon me this familiar verse,

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

"But God!?! I am weary. I am tired. I just need time, space, refuge. I need a break from, from...everything!"

God knows that. He knows that I am weary and tired. He sees me and knows the pain going on and the raw emotions I am dealing with and yet, the pressing continues. It's a real challenge to look at God's Word, understand that it has power to penetrate and divide soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12) but when the personal challenge comes, it's so easy to become defensive. To claim that God couldn't possibly be saying that to me. Thankfully, scripture is much more immense and more holistic than one verse. As much as I know God is pressing upon me the challenge of living out Gal. 6:9, I am just as quickly reminded of these verses,

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)


I sported this verse on my Bible cover through most of my high school days. I enjoyed the rhythm of the verse and clear picture of soaring eagles.  God brought these verses to my mind as a reminder that God is my strength. The weariness I feel is not beyond His knowledge or His power. Do I not know? Have I not heard? God is at work in this world. My eyes see tragedy, not just in my life but in the lives of others I know and even some I may never meet. This tragedy is enough to overwhelm and confuse. However, the truth of Gods Word meets me there. It can meet you there as well. 

Allowing God to teach me how to press on when I a feel like quitting. Opening myself to see there is a harvest to come when my eyes can't focus on more than what is required today. This is not natural, but it is necessary and it's where God has me. Perhaps there is a challenge God is pressing into your life right now. And perhaps there is a gentle reminder right alongside that challenge. A reminder that God is with you, He sees you, He cares for you and He desires for you to trust Him more. 

Blessings!


 

Friday, April 25, 2014

This thing called grief

"I think I need more hugs" I confessed to Justin earlier this week. I recognized this need inside myself after being offered a hug at church. In response to the question "How are you doing?" I replied with my typical "Okay". I'm honest enough with myself and those around me to not lie. I'm not doing great, I'm doing okay. I'm making it through. After that response I was offered a hug, a hug that was much needed. Want to know my initial response to the offer of a hug?

No.

Really Megan!?! For whatever reason the offer of a hug brought out emotions I was not prepared for in that moment and I felt if I received the hug I would lose it. Taking time to reflect on my unwillingness to visit my emotions at that particular moment I spent some time thinking it through on my own since then.

Grief is a completely new thing for me. My childhood never brought about chances to learn about it or experience it firsthand. When my grandfather died 5 years ago I experienced it a bit but not it the fullness I am experiencing it currently. As I consider the challenges that have come into my life in the last year and the loss of not just my mom, grandma and grandma-in-law but also the grief that accompanies the loss of close relationships in my life, I've come to recognize just how many emotions there are to sort through.

By deflecting the hug I was choosing to distract myself from what I was really feeling in that moment.That's not a great way to live. While distracting and deflecting emotions may be necessary in abusive and life threatening situations, it is not necessary in my grief process.

"When we do not process before God the very feelings that make us human, such as fear or sadness or anger, we leak. Our churches are filled with "leaking" Christians who have not treated their emotions as a discipleship issue." Peter Scazzero

I desire to live an authentic and honest life in all areas and right now, I am grieving. I am not going to deny my emotions or believe that they mean I don't have faith. That couldn't be further from the truth. The same author quoted above also says this, "Turning toward our pain is counter intuitive. But in fact, the heart of Christianity is that the way to life is through death, the pathway to resurrection is through crucifixion."

So this is what I am learning about the grieving process for me. I need more hugs. If you offer me a hug I will allow myself to cry if that emotion overcomes me. I will be attentive to the emotions as they come and I will present each one (sadness, fear, anger, doubt) to God as an act of worship. I will embrace my limits.  I will allow myself to process without feelings of guilt and I will come out of this season forever changed. 

Be blessed!