War Zone

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My house is a war zone. You're almost always tripping over a toy, seeing a dish in the sink, and seeing laundry that needs to be folded.

I hate it.

I have to work super hard to take care of all four of my children and keep up with the house. This is all while trying to find a job to take care of them financially and while also trying to take care of myself. A lot of times, I'm alone. 

Then it got me focused back on a project that I wanted to do a long time ago. I wanted to document the life of a single mom. So I decided, why not do my own family? Why can't I focus on what goes on in my own household?

But as I've photographed us relentlessly over the last several weeks I've realized, really realized, something truly powerful. Many people are doing it alone. Even when they may not be alone, they still are. 

Then I realized that a lot of families, a lot of singles, a lot of couples face day to day and no one talks about it. No one talks about the anger mothers face when their children constantly rebel against them. No one talks about the abused woman who is too afraid to speak out and walks into her front door wondering if she's going to be hit again. Or what about the man who works 65 hour weeks and misses out on birthdays, holidays, even just time with his loved ones because he's so consumed with being the perfect employee.

No one talks about the seemingly adamantine situations so openly as to cut to the root of the issues. Instead, you find most people comparing their pasts, judging the now moments, and doubting their futures.

But you see friends. We are all in our own war zone. This is not a competition of whose past was the worst, whose life was more redeemed, or whose situation is more daunting. To each of us our situations are all hard. Our lives all have struggles and scream it if you have to but LIFE IS NOT ALL ROSES. My new motto is "bury the roses." Because if we bury that statement that life can always be sweet if we do x, y, and z then we can really get to the root of what issues we are facing day to day.

So enter in my new project "your'e not alone." Because each day for I honestly don't' know how long I will post my own war zone. Because life is tears, and pain, and tantrums, and walks in the park, and laughter, and you cannot leave anything out or you are missing key moments to grow.

You can start your own war zone project. You can document the realness in your life, share it with the world, and change a life. Over the course of time you can hashtag photos and short blurps of your own daily struggles. You can hashtag #warzone and #yourenotaloneproject and #burytheroses.

I cannot wait to walk this road. War doesn't scare me. What would scare me is not facing it head on. You need to know that you are not truly alone. That we can and will face these wars together.

Laughing with Joy

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What makes God laugh? Does He laugh? Why of course. We make God laugh! At least, I know I do. I'm sure He looks down from Heaven and shakes His head and says, "It's Meg again." ha. As I laugh at each of my children, knowing so well their personalities, knowing their strengths and their weaknesses why would God, our father, not be amused by out antics knowing full well in advance what we are going to say and do? I think God thoroughly enjoys good humor; enjoys a good laugh and loves to see us enjoying it as well.

Joy and laughter are all apart of God's plan for us. Psalm 16:11 "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever." God's desire is that we have joy. Literally, if we are aiming to walk in His presence daily, consistently, then we are walking in the fullness of joy. The word fullness literally means to be filled to capacity. You need nothing else because God's presence has filled you so full that you are at capacity. Everything else that is given is simply, overflow.

Laughing is an expression of joy that comes from the heart of God Himself. Humor is encouraging and edifying to the body of Christ. Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." Laughter and joy comes under the category of whatever! Humor exhibits the joy, the passion, and the adventure of the Christian life.

Whenever I am around a group of people who are new to one another and haven't really met before the first technique I use in encouraging a comfortable atmosphere is humor. I am a very sarcastic human being and I love seeing people smile and laugh. The more people laugh the more relaxed they become and are able to be themselves and open up.

Literally laughter and music are two of God's finest gifts to us. They give us the ability to express our inner feelings about God with a sense of joy, anticipation, and participation. Participation being a key component. The Bible reminds us, "The joy of the Lord is our strength." (Neh 8:10) 

The best source of humor is right at the end of your nose. Especially if you're looking in the mirror. The ability to laugh at yourself is a sign of maturity, of healthy self-esteem, and of having your priorities straight. Remember, God is on the throne and we are on the ground. Humble, humus, and human; all words well-suited to our earthly imperfection compared to God's perfection.

Even more emotionally healing than laughing at ourselves is the ability to continue to laugh and choose joy when the story is repeated. Laughter is medicine to the soul. It is very healing. People in the medical field tell us what Bible has said all along, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." (Prov. 17:22) We can make a choice. Be upset or talk about sour grapes; or be embarrassed -- or we can choose to laugh at ourselves. When we laugh, we heal.

Laughter puts the body in a state of relaxation. In a physically relaxed state, we take our foot off the pain accelerator and put on the brakes. Our bodies, in my opinion, were made for laughing. My laugh is a bit infectious and creepy; but sometimes when I start, I just can't stop. And when I look up, my eyes half squinted, I see others around me laughing too. And their faces illuminate joy. It's coming from the inside and is just a outward appearance of how their hearts feel at that moment.

Literally consider these few facts about laughter:

1. Laughter is a natural pain reducer.
2. Laughter increases our ability to cope with life.
3. Laughter massages our internal organs (and who doesn't love a good massage, eh?)
4. Laughter exercises our facial muscles
5. Laughter increased the heart rate and improves circulation (all perfect timing with February being heart health month!)
6. Laughter oxygenates the body.
7. Laughter stimulates the immune system (and that needs stimulation guys!).

We've all been in those high-stress, low-strength situations where we turn to our lover, or our best friend, or our family members and say, "Someday we'll laugh about this." I say, why wait? If we can see the humor potential, lets just dive right in! The time and distance between the difficulty and our ability to laugh about it is what I call the "stress zone." We can't hurry the time, but we can decrease the distance between the first and the last moment we spend in the zone.

Today, lets choose laughter and joy. I know it's hard, but don't wait.

Trials and Tribulations

Saturday, February 7, 2015

One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is that fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life's trials and tribulations. Why would God, who is good and loving and compassionate, allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease, injury or pain, financial hardships, worry, etc. Surely, if He loved us, me, He would take all these things away from us? After all, doesn't Him loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn't.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. The Lord wants us uncomfortable so that we can grow. So that our faith can be tested. So that we can withstand more and more. Being real and transparent here, I am going through some of the hardest tribulation and trials I've ever faced. I'm a single mom. I have no job. No money. My car by the grace of God is finally getting fixed; but I'm still having to use others.

He's growing me. And let me say this. I trust in my God. I trust in my savior and in my King. My tribulations and trials have nothing to do with my lack of faith. In fact, He's growing me in this area beyond what I've ever imagined. Every single day this week God has allowed a trial and I felt extremely alone in the physical. But spiritually not many knew or know that I feel strong. I feel comforted, I know that my King is with me.

As in all things, God's ultimate purpose for these things is so that I will be made more in the image of His son, Jesus. The same goes for you, when you are being tested. I know I'm not alone in this. Neither are you. Your trials, the ones He is allowing, they are for a purpose. And that purpose is growth. 1 Peter 1:6-7 states, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Tested by fire. Fire hurts! Tribulations hurt. Yes, I have cried this week. Yes, I have felt physically alone. But my faith, being more precious than gold will be tested and I will honor and glory at the revelation of just how BOLD and beautiful Jesus is.

So here are a few things that can help you get through your trial. They seem unconventional. I promise, they will help you. These are the things I've been doing this season.

1. Give Thanks

Sometimes being thankful in a difficult situation is the most difficult thing you can do. Yet, Scripture is very clear about this response: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). To be thankful rather than to complain takes a conscious act of the will and a sacrifice of natural desires.

Thanking God in all things does not mean that we thank God for evil. It means that we are thanking God for the benefits He intends for us when He allows things to happen.

2. Rejoice! 

Along with giving thanks, we also are instructed to rejoice in all things: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Thanking God is an act of the will, but rejoicing is a response of the spirit. Therefore, it is possible to be sad and joyful at the same time. We cannot escape the pain of a difficult situation, but we can learn to rejoice in God Himself and in the good things God will do through our suffering.

Remember, when you are the one supporting someone going through a trial and tribulation; sometimes the best thing they need is for you to just be there. Comfort them. Hug them. Wipe away their tears. They can rejoice and still be sad. This doesn't mean they are faithless, or being punished, or not seeking God's face.

3. Believe and Act on the Word of God

When Jesus was tested in the wilderness, He responded to each temptation by quoting Scripture. For example, when Satan urged Christ to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We can follow Jesus’ example and successfully engage in spiritual warfare by proclaiming truth in the face of tests and temptations.

The LAST thing you need to be in trials and tribulations in silent. You need to proclaim God's truth over your life, over your families, and over the situation at hand. BE BOLD and approach God's thrown.

4. Cry Out to God

Job even in his suffering CRIED out. It's OK! perhaps the greatest reason God has for taking us through the trials of life is to bring us to the firm conclusion that we need God. What is God’s purpose in giving us commands that seem impossible to carry out? He desires to work powerfully through our lives; therefore we must learn to depend on Him. He alone must become our source of strength, provision, protection, and direction. God will send the appropriate people into your life to help guide you and be with you, but at the end of the day, He is the one who will sustain us.


Those are just four things I'm leaning on currently. Those closest to me, those privileged get to see the rough edged Meg. I recommend you not just tell everyone, everything, in your season of trial and tribulation. Not everyone will walk with you through it in the way you need them too. Make your needs known; those who care and love you deeply will do whatever they can by the grace of almighty God to help you.

Love is Action

Monday, February 2, 2015

Most people have heard of the Five Love Languages. The love languages is a specific way to love another (you love in their love language not yours). The five common ones are physical touch, quality time, acts of service, gifts and words of affirmation. A lot of people though take it to the extreme and only love others in what they suspect are their two top ones (ie: my top one is physical touch with my secondary being quality time; however I have qualities of the other three that I desire).

This got me thinking about several times in my life where I realized that love was an action and not just a state of being or something that was idle. It literally is an action word. Even recently, after a misunderstanding with someone, they made the statement, "You want me to show you I care, you want proof after proof; but you just have to trust me." 

Something didn't completely settle with me on this statement. I prayed on it and asked God to clearly reveal to me how I was to love. Meaning, how do I show someone I love them or care about them. Can I simply just tell them I care and then move on?

No. Love is action. Jesus showed His love for us by literally dying on the cross. 1 John 3:16 "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the breathern." 

Literally Jesus' entire life was one big action of love. He healed the sick, He ministered to those who wanted to hear truth, He pursued people passionately through His actions. It was never just words for Him, He always backed up His love with some sort of action whether it was a miracle or a simple spending time with people, etc.

Christ literally performed the ultimate act of love. Christ loved us so much that He died for us. This should motivate us to love others and to love them in the same way that Christ loved us. This means not just saying we love people but really loving them by our actions. We can love our families by showing respect, being courteous, having patience, and understanding in all types of ways. We can love our neighbors by reaching out to them in kindness. We can love the needy of the world by sharing our possessions with them. Loving actions reveal the truth and depth of our love.

Love is selfless. Love thinks of others before it thinks of oneself. 1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. This is not me, this is scripture. We must love one another through deed { actions! } and in truth.

I saw a picture perfect representation of this yesterday at the funeral of my best friends, Papa Jack. He was also like my Papa and I loved and still love him dearly { and his incredible wife Margaret }. I've been best friends with Christin for as long as I can remember. She was the only person that came to support me when I was in the custody battle for my daughter (who was non-blood related). But yesterday we needed each other and we needed other people.

The group I'm apart of, Multiply Charlotte, really showed the action love of Jesus Christ yesterday. We had the leader, Danny come out plus Bethany and the gentlemen I am seeing Aaron all came to support us. Bethany and Danny, even Aaron, didn't have to come. They do not know Christin's family on an intimate level like her and I do. They could have made the choice to say, "I'm sorry for your loss, praying for you." But they didn't just do that. They showed the love of Jesus, in the way that Jesus would show it, by showing up and offering an ear, a shoulder, and a place of rest for both of us.

In human relationships love is the same concept. People must choose the attitude of love and then express it by their behavior. Such behavior touches the heart and emotions of those they love and moves them to reciprocate it. In the Bible, the word "love" does not refer to an emotion, but to an attitude and behavior (including both actions and words). Love is the attitude that stems from choosing to look out for other's interest first; then loving behavior follows.

Today, lets choose something different. Lets choose to love by action. Lets love each other like Jesus did when He spread those two arms across and stood in the in-between for you and I. It can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it's rewarding.

1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world's goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?