Keep It Shut: Wrap Up

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

There is a saying I once heard that goes something like this…”If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Now, in the past, I have always thought of this statement when my schedule becomes overtaken with appointments and my focus is non-existent. When I am so busy in the moment that I do not at all remember a conversation I had just 5 minutes before. However, since reading “Keep it Shut” by Karen Ehman, my thoughts on this saying have drifted towards being busy in our speech. You see…there are times when I think we just talk too much. Whether we are trying to fill silence or trying to appear ‘in the know’ about something, before we know it we have ‘thrown up’ a rambling mess of words that leave us asking ourselves later, “Where in the world did that come from?” Or “Why on earth did I say that?”

I remember years ago, I was sitting at my desk at work and someone came in starting to share some ‘juicy’ gossip. I continued what I was doing until my officemate said, “You aren’t even interested in hearing?” I responded, “Nope, not really,” and they carried the conversation elsewhere. If I’m being honest, in this moment I really remember not caring about whatever the latest news was…but that has not always been the case. I mean, come on…there is a reason someone said, “Curiosity killed the cat!” Here is what I know the truth to be though:

Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)

Proverbs 16:28, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (NIV)

Lately my Facebook feed has been filled with nothing but posts about the NFL players not standing for the National Anthem. Now, before you get worked up, let me start with saying this post is not designed to start a discussion about this ‘protest.’ The point is, I have seen over and over people becoming super upset in the comments following these initial posts. Everything from bashing the players, to name calling each other, to even ‘unfriending’ someone because of their opinion. Here’s the thing guys, there are thousands and thousands of things to become insulted about and agitated by…but is your response wholesome?

In “Keep it Shut,” Karen Ehman says, “No need for snark. No need for angry words or critical comments. Our mamas were right: If we can’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. When we do speak, we can choose to be gracious rather than accusatory or negative. Our words must glorify God and not just exalt our own opinions.”

So friends…as we wrap up our study, will you think before you speak? Or will you KEEP. IT. SHUT?

Pause and Pray

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Around this same time last year, as the leaves were changing and the temperatures were falling, I specifically remember reading a post on Facebook which talked about whether Christians should or shouldn’t engage in this particular activity. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, well she is one of the most devout Christians I know. So if she thinks it is acceptable, it must be!” I almost hit the ‘share’ button…you know…that button that allows you to share something that someone else wrote…something that may agree totally with what you believe and also gives you an ‘out’ in case someone is upset with the post. “Oh, I shared it because I thought most of what she said was relevant.” There is just something behind that ‘share’ button that gives us a sense of ‘behind the screen’, passive-aggressive, boldness.

Here is the danger in sharing someone else’s option.

Firstly, conviction is personal. You may not have an issue with a particular sin that someone else struggles with and a post to you may seem ‘harmless’ when it could tempt someone else into sin.

Romans 14:13-23, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” (NIV)

Maybe that post about a glass of wine is harmless to you…but maybe your brother or sister in Christ has an alcohol addiction and it tempts them towards sin.

Maybe that ‘share’ of the picture of the hot celebrity seems harmless to you…but your brother or sister in Christ has a tendency towards lust or pornography and it tempts them towards sin.

Maybe that post about your new purchase will tempt someone who has trouble with debt and spending money.

Secondly, we have to be careful not to ‘follow’ people. Not even Christians. The only One we should be following is Jesus. Even the most devout Christians are sinners. Hopefully they are making their best effort at being pure and holy…but one thing even the most faithful Christian will never be is perfect…and neither will you.

Friends, there is no judgement here. As I said before, conviction is personal and we can not be someone else’s Holy Spirit. But you can let your Spirit be your guide. In “Keep it Shut,” Karen Ehman encourages us to use wisdom and pray before posting. Pause and pray. Ask your Spirit for wisdom before you post something that could have unintentional adverse affects on God’s people.

Gossip? …..Who Me?!

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Recently I completed a quick analysis of my strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, weaknesses are often much easier for me to identify in myself than strengths. Can you relate? In this particular case, I was considering strengths with regard to what God expects from me and I proudly patted myself on the back and thought, “You know, I really am not a person who gossips.” Ahem…in this moment the Holy Spirit did a little tap dance on my toes…or maybe He was even hip-hopping. He quickly showed me that while I may not generally initiate gossip, I have certainly been guilty of participating, even if often in indirect ways or in ways where no ill-intentions were meant. Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)

Here are some things my Spirit convicted me of as I was thinking of this topic…

There have been times when I have started a conversation saying, “I do not know if this is true so take it for what it is worth.” Um…”it” is worth nothing! If I am getting ready to share information and do not even know if what I am sharing is true, most likely this is not my information to share! Sisters, whether your news is gossip or gospel, if the story you are about to relay to another person does not directly involve you…swallow those words and do not ever let them rear their ugly heads again. The exception to this advice would be if you fear a friend is in danger and do not know if you have the whole story, tell a trusted adult who can look into the situation further.

Another time I find myself getting into trouble with gossip is when I try to fill awkward silence. I am the world’s worst! As I have gotten older, my totally extroverted self has turned into an introverted extrovert. If I am in a social situation and a conversation goes silent…I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT. Rather than excusing myself and going on my merry way, I start to overcompensate for the silence and become the world’s greatest rambler. I have found myself leaving situations asking, “What in the world just happened? Why did I just say that?” 1 Timothy 5:13, “Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” (ESV)

Here is what I know I can do instead of letting myself get caught up in gossip…

I can take each thought captive before letting anything unwise or ungodly spill off my tongue.

I can practice being a better listener instead of always needing to be the one who talks.

I can excuse myself from any conversation where unhealthy chatter arises. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things.” (ESV)

Will you join me? If we are going to spread any kind of news from here on out, let’s spread the news of the love of our Savior…until all have heard <3.

A Peaceful State of Mind

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

There is a little town that I adore approximately 30 minutes from where we live. From the minute you get off of interstate, you feel the quaintness. The roads are lined with trees and greenery. The homes are picturesque. There is a library that is buzzing with kids and families…and even the buzz is peaceful. There is something so refreshing about seeing an actual library still being used. There are brick sidewalks and mountain views and the air seems to be exceptionally clean. Restaurant choices are few though nothing seems to be missing. The pizza and barbeque are to die for and you are just missing the prize if you fail to stop at the juice bar or homemade ice cream joints. Tasty!

The town creates a feeling in me each time I pull in. A feeling of peace. An abundant feeling of peace. I find myself smiling more and breathing deeper. I am focused and in a state of mind where I am soaking everything in rather than being my normal, distracted self. When I was there last week I found myself saying, “This. This right here is how I want to feel ALL the time. I am feeling ALL THE FEELS right about now.” There was only one problem. Five hours later it was time to go home.

I started to think about how fleeting peace can be. I believe there were two lessons here for me. Firstly, while there are some things that are circumstantial and are unable to be changed, I have the freedom to create an environment of peace in my days. I have the power to create more space. There are many things I can eliminate from my world that will contribute to a peaceful state of mind. This may mean eliminating a toxic relationship, worry, clutter, or any other number of things that threaten to steal my peace. And those are things I have some control over. The problem with that is, these are only temporary fixes as well. There are always going to be relationships that ebb and flow and there will always come a time where a new worry presents itself. So I am still missing the boat.

True, lasting, wholesome peace can only come from Christ. Staying rooted in Him. Remaining in Him. Walking each step with Him. Surrendering to Him. Letting Him lead every step of the way with an outreached hand.

Psalm 29:11, “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” (NIV)

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.” (NIV)

Isaiah 54:10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
So friends, while there are plenty of things in this world that will threaten your temporary peace, the peace of Christ is solid and steady and unchanging. Let it permeate your souls until it takes up permanent residence and an escape to a quaint little town isn’t necessary for peace to be found.

Wild & Free…

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Scene 1, Act 1. There was this girl. From the time she was a baby, she attended church with her family which included mom, grandparents, and early on also included aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was baptized as a baby by a sprinkle of water from the baptismal font. At age 10 she went through confirmation classes in order to accept Christ as her Savior. She continued to age and eventually went off to college. During college she referred to herself as a ‘Christian’, however; she did not represent Jesus well in her actions. But that was ok…right? She was kind to others and was just having fun! AND, on some Sundays, she would make it home for church, read the preprinted confession of sins in her bulletin, and she was good to go again!

Scene 1, Act 2. 20+ years after this 10 year old accepted Christ, she started to believe there must be something more to this Christian life. She grabbed a few friends and made an attempt at Bible study. As a result of this time together, the group of friends made a decision to visit each other’s home church. During one visit, at the end of the service, the Pastor asked for everyone to close their eyes and raise their hands if they needed saving. This girl put her hand up halfway, and back down. In the next 3 visits to the same church, the same question was asked and the same half-hearted response was given. Finally the girl decided it was time to meet with the Pastor of this church. The Pastor prayed with the girl and in that tearful moment, she knew how she was being called to live her life and she was ON FIRE for Christ.

Scene 1, Act 3. This on fire girl became downright robotic. She had this overwhelming feeling that she needed to ‘be’ and ‘act’ a certain way as a follower of Jesus. Instead of seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing the beauty in His Creation, she walked around preoccupied by her thoughts. She was filled with shame by past sin and was filled with worry over the future. She squashed the Spirit because she was so consumed with her plans and what she thought was best. She was so scheduled that she left her Spirit no room to move and left herself no room to breathe. Every move she made was thoughtful and methodical and downright exhausting.

Scene 1, Act 4. This is her current ‘act.’ Only she is tired of the act. She craves to know what walking in His grace and freedom feels like. She believes wholeheartedly that His grace is enough….only she does not allow herself to receive it completely. She shares her heart with one dear friend and on an ordinary Thursday, she receives this extraordinary message:

“We worry about offending God and so we hold back. We keep our talents, passions, feelings, words, and actions toned down, so that we don’t say or do the wrong thing. So that we don’t ‘misrepresent’ God or our faith. So we aren’t misunderstood. We live lukewarm in certain areas…maybe all areas of our life and I can’t help but think God would rather we just bring it…(Rev. 3:15). Bring it all. Our fire and passion, our humanness and mistakes. All we are, to live wholeheartedly for Him. We’re missing it because we’re worried about messing up or looking bad and the truth is, He can handle all of those things. Lukewarm living is safe, easy, known and controllable comfort…God never called us to those things. He called us to be all in.” (Morgan Alexander).

I believe this is what it is all about. Living wild and free. Not taking advantage of His grace, but receiving it when our authentic selves mess up. Who is ready to be ALL IN with me?

Scene 1, Act 5…

Just Be Held

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

You can’t be everything to everyone. I have heard this statement over and over and over throughout my life. I don’t want to be everything to everyone…but I want to be something to someone. I want to be an encourager. I want to be a prayer warrior. I want to be a friend. I want to be ready and willing for God to use me where He sees fit. But I’m tired.

I was listening to Spirit FM the other day and a song by Casting Crowns came on the radio. The lyrics immediately brought me to tears. Not just a stray tear inching down my cheek…a whole flood of them sprouting out all corners. The title of the song and the last line of the chorus says, “Just Be Held.” It came just when I needed it the most. At a time when I believed I was failing everyone around me. Have you ever felt that way? I mean, I am sure most of you hold so many roles in life already. Daughter. Friend. Granddaughter. Student. Employee. Older Sibling. Volunteer. Athlete. There are so many demands on our time, on our brains, and on our hearts. Sometimes it feels impossible to even take a deep breath.

This belief that I wasn’t adequate came barreling down on me as I read three sweet, well-meaning words from a friend. I MISS YOU. Most people would be very touched to receive a text like this from a dear friend…and I was at first. And then I started to do what I always do. I started to analyze. This was about the 10th person in two weeks to say those words to me. I MISS YOU. I wanted to respond and say, “But I’m right here! Anytime you need me…I’m right here!” But this person knows that. So do the other 9. It’s not that she doubted my availability to be there for her in a time of need. She was simply missing doing life with me on a day to day basis.

I became irritated and tearful and started to list all of the things I was doing for everyone. How can I be failing? I am staying in the Word daily. I am reaching out to encourage others and get them excited about the Word. I am touching base with people every time You put them on my heart. I am doing the best I can to take care of my family and to be a faithful employee. What am I doing wrong?? Right then and there I knew my answer. I am trying to do too much and not doing any of it well. I am distracted. I am overwhelmed. And ‘this little light of mine’ is hiding under a bushel more often than it is shining.

Sisters, we have to take care of ourselves or we won’t have anything to give anyone else. Here are some areas I need help in and maybe you do too…

We have to take care of our souls.
Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (NIV)

We have to take care of our minds.
1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” (NIV)

We have to take care of our hearts.
Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)

We have to take care of our bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” (NIV)

We have to be willing to accept our imperfections and the imperfections of others.

We have to be willing to give and receive grace.

Taking time to rest and refuel is not being lazy. In fact, our Heavenly Father commands us to do so. Sweet gals, I am not encouraging you to be inwardly focused. You have a purpose. God has equipped you and me for all of the things He has called us to do. All of the roles you fill are important ones and through Him, we will have the strength we need to persevere. That being said…in the midst of all of the striving and serving and loving on others…you are also allowed to Just. Be. Held.

*I am including the link to the song in case you need to hear it today like I did…

Broken Seashells

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

My family and I had the privilege this week to breathe in the ocean breeze each morning as we welcomed the day that lie ahead. While we love our reality and are grateful for our many blessings that await us at home in the mountains, there is nothing like being able to leave a certain amount of responsibility behind and just enjoy being together every waking moment. We take delight in the days we are able to embrace this part of God’s creation that normally only entices us through pictures and memories.

One of our favorite things to do while at the beach is to walk in the early morning looking for seashell treasures. My favorite ones are the smooth ones that have a translucent appearance. Our daughter rejoices to find one that has twists and turns called a conch shell. My favorite part of this experience is when she finds one that is beautiful and just gasps with excitement shouting, “Look, Mommy!”

During one of our walks this week, I started to think about all of the broken shells on the beach. Sometimes one that is half buried looks beautiful until we bend down to dig it up just to find the other side has flaws. We toss those back to the sand and move on to look for the perfect, whole shells.

This caused me to think about the journey a shell goes through. A journey that likely begins in the deep places of the ocean, leads to the husk getting tossed and thrown about in the waves, and then finally washes it onto shore temporarily only until the tide thrusts the shell back out to sea. I suddenly started thinking about how we are so much like those broken shells. Our lives begin and we are quickly tossed and thrown about in this world. Sometimes this journey is smooth and peaceful just like a calm, evening tide and our day to day is nothing less than beautiful. Other times life feels similar to the rough, ocean waves as a storm rolls in and we are left desperately trying to come up for air. The good news? God doesn’t toss us back down in the sand when we are broken. Psalm 40:2 states, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand,” (NIV)

Those broken shells will never be pieced back together and made whole. Praise the Lord the same is not true for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body – and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.” (MSG). Sweet gals, if you are feeling broken today, trust that God is ready to make you whole. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV) Did you hear that? You are new…whole…and set apart because of Christ who lives in you. The next time you have a chance, pick up one of those ‘less than perfect’ shells and put it in your pocket as a reminder of the beauty He makes from the broken.

Are You A Yes Gal?

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Many times throughout my life I have been asked to fill out various inventories which asked me to choose my top three personality traits. I am sure you all have been there. These always stress me out because what I think may be my top three traits may be different than what someone else who knows me may think. I will stare at the list and analyze it TO DEATH ya’ll. But that is not the only reason they are difficult for me. You see, there is always something on that list that glares at me and reminds me who I want to be and which areas I still have not mastered or…frankly…which ones I have not even resembled. The first circle I make is typically very easy for me and even sometimes the second. If ‘loving’ and ‘compassionate’ are on the list, I quickly let out a sigh of relief. Yet there is always that one word. That one that taunts me. That one I always want to circle but in good conscience…I just will not allow myself to.

Reliable. Sigh. There…I said it. I wish I could tell you how many times over the years I have said, “I have good intentions but my follow through stinks.” The truth is, my intentions are good. And I do, ‘mean well.’ But what that leads to is over-commitment which then leads to me failing to see my tasks and obligations through to completion. Even worse…my ‘good intentions’ most likely leave someone with an unmet need. But you see…that is where pride comes in. God doesn’t ask me or you to meet the needs of everyone around us. In fact, His Word very clearly says:

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Anyone else out there a ‘yes’ gal? The person everyone calls when they need a volunteer for something because you are sure to say, “yes?” I recently called someone and asked her to do something for me and she said, “I would like to think about it and pray about it over the weekend.

Can I get back with you on Monday?” Wow…what a novel approach. In doing this, she is making sure she is giving me her best ‘yes’ and that what I am asking her to do is in line with God’s purpose for her.

Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (NIV)

Will you be just a ‘yes’ gal or a reliable ‘yes’ gal?

Hey Mama

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

Hey mamas. All mamas. Yes…you. God sees you. He sees those of you who work outside of the home. He sees those of you that work inside of the home. He sees the homeschooling mamas and the mamas who send their babies off to school each morning. And by babies…I mean children of all ages who will always be your ‘babies.’

He sees you through the night and from the minute you awake. He sees you desperately trying to fit in devotional time and quiet time with Him but sighing as you walk past your Bible on the way to grab your 2 minute shower. He sees you rushing to get everyone up, get lunches made, and get out the door. He sees you turning around when you are already halfway there because you did not remember piano books or soccer clothes. He sees you making doctor’s appointments, dental appointments, and vet appointments…and making sure you remember to get everyone there on time. He sees you going to work, paying the bills, and worrying about what kind of day your kiddos are having. He sees you trying to muster up enough energy to spend an hour at the gym on your lunch break only to realize you left your tennis shoes at home. He sees you coming home, fixing dinner, cleaning up the dishes, helping with homework, doing baths, reading before bed, and snuggling up to say prayers. He sees you feeding the animals, picking the dirty laundry up off of the floor, and sorting through the mail to decide which can be tossed and which you have to find time to shred. He sees you using every minute of spare time you have…which is only in the car…to call your girlfriends and family to check in on them. He sees you wanting to make your husband a priority but just being plum exhausted and not knowing how you can possibly find the time for ONE. MORE. THING. He knows your days are tough in every sense of the word. And He has made you a promise.

He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Mamas…do you know who else has it tough? Those ‘babies’ of yours. Every day they are facing new struggles in this world. They are being tempted, pressured, and bullied to do things that compromise the character you worked so hard to help them develop. They are afraid to talk to you about some of these things because in your tiredness, sometimes you react instead of taking the time to prayerfully respond. They love you to pieces but push you away the hardest because they know that no matter what, you are going to still love them. They are being pulled in 100 different directions and do not believe they can ever measure up. There is a constant battle for their precious souls and they are frightened and worried and do not know who to turn to.

They need to be able to turn to you. They need you to be praying for them every day and helping them suit up with the armor of God. They need you to speak truth to them in love and to rebuke them in love. They need you to not judge them and to extend them grace. They need you to extend yourself grace. They need you to admit when you have made a mistake and they need you to make it right.

He is trusting you to care for His children here on Earth and He knows you are just the right woman for the job…because He equipped you with everything you need to be the best mama to His children.

Mamas, you are loved. You are appreciated. You are cherished. Our God has given you the toughest job in the world and He. Sees. You.

Give Him Room To Move

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

This morning I was driving our daughter to school and halfway there I remembered that we neglected to put her recorder in her book bag. I glanced at the clock to see if we had enough time to turn around and did a swift u-turn when I was safely and legally able. Just last weekend, we finally set the clock in the car to reflect the correct time and when our daughter realized this morning that we no longer had the six minutes of grace built in, she began to panic. I calmly told her we could not add more minutes to the clock and would just have to face the consequences if we were late. Not exceeding the speed limit (or more specifically, the 5 MPH over rule), we made it home, secured the recorder, and made it to school with three minutes to spare. I kissed her goodbye and off she hurried into school to beat the bell.

Thankfully we avoided a meltdown over the possibility of being ‘tardy.’

I left the parking lot feeling like I had run a marathon already and it was only 8:10am. I started to think about how moments like these could be avoided if we would just create space in our day. I sighed out loud when it suddenly hit me that I don’t have space for space! My schedule is packed. My brain is packed. My closet is packed. My bookcase is packed. EVERYTHING. IS. PACKED. And not in nice little boxes to take to storage. Because guess what? The storage is packed. There is absolutely no more room.

This realization was frustrating enough, but what hit me next left me in a real state of bewilderment and frankly, in a funk. Not only have I left myself no space, I have packed my life so full that I am not giving God any space to move! Are you in a place in your life where you desperately want to see what is next? You need Him to illuminate your path and guide you right to that next step? I am! I want to always give God space to move and I have literally crowded Him out. Not only that, I am so busy planning my tomorrow, I am completely missing today. Completely. And He didn’t just plan my tomorrow. He planned my today too. And yours. And we are missing it. Every precious moment.

Proverbs 19:21 states, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (NIV)

Our heads are packed with our ‘to do’ lists, drama from the world, and just life in general and our eyes are pointed down constantly looking at our screens. We need to look up. We need to let Him work and give Him space to move. We have to make sure we remain willing participants though. But how beautiful it is to see His plan unfold. We are bound by time, space, and schedules. He is bound by nothing.

Move…so He can move.