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.

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…

What Is Your Condition?

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

So I have done quite a bit of writing about the importance of having wise counsel. And while I believe wholeheartedly that this is essential in a walk with Christ, I am starting to vividly see and experience how much deeper it goes than this. You see, over the past little bit, I feel like I have been living life in a fog. Which isn’t really living. I go through the motions every day and frankly, haven’t seen a thing wrong with that because if I am being honest, I like my motions and have them pretty down pat. But I recognized recently that as much as I love people, I haven’t been loving them as I would like to. Like intentionally loving them and investing in them. And some recent conversations caused me to pause and think about what it really means to love someone.

The most important investment I could come up with is being concerned with their spiritual condition.

What I have noticed repeatedly is that people are overly concerned if you have a physical condition. You may hear comments such as, “You need to take care of yourself. You only have one heart.” Or, “Oh my goodness. I hope you feel better. Do you need anything?” Maybe they will even give you some suggestions of alternative treatments they successfully used for the same ailment. But how are your friends encouraging your spiritual condition? What do they say when you tell them the ‘old you’ no longer exists? What do they say when you tell them you don’t get drunk anymore? What do they say when you refuse to engage in gossip? Are they concerned with your spiritual condition?

See, here is what I know. Taking care of our physical condition is super important. 1 Corinthians 6:19 states, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” (NLT) And when I think about our spiritual condition, I think about how we arrive to a healthy place in this area. And I believe we get there by living the lives God called us to live. And while He has a different calling for each of us, one thing He calls all believers to do is live holy lives. 1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (ESV)

The minute you make a decision to follow Christ, the old is gone. Leave it there. And surround yourself with friends who will support you leaving it there and will encourage you. Because the truth is, that physical condition may indeed kill you…but that spiritual condition determines where you are going when your time is up.

Too Long To Clear The Air

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

A few weeks ago I attended a funeral. While all funerals create a sense of sadness deep within me, since I have known Jesus, I am also able to see the beauty in death and despite the pain I feel for loved ones left behind, I often find myself beaming at the thought of my friend or family member being in the arms of Jesus. This sentiment turns quickly to utter despair if there is any uncertainty about whether my loved one knew Jesus before leaving the world behind.

At this particular funeral, however; even with unwavering confidence that this friend loved Jesus with her whole heart, I found myself deeply heartbroken for a young child who was left behind. I believe I was in a state of numbness as I was leaving and apparently along the way, someone in my path, who I care greatly for, felt shunned by me. Apparently she asked me a question in passing and I looked right through her. This did not come to light until a few weeks later when I learned through the grapevine that she had been extremely upset since that particular day and she thought I was terrible mad about something.

She even lost sleep over it! I knew I would see her soon and made sure to address this with her face-to-face. I apologized profusely for any misunderstanding and asked, “Why didn’t you just call me so we could clear this up?” She was so relieved to hear that nothing was wrong and we parted in a peaceful state.

While everything was ok from that point on, I could not help but think of situations when I have made assumptions and carried hurt around for weeks and months, only to realize I had been completely off track. You see, assumptions are dangerous for many reasons. Firstly, we do not know what state of mind someone was in when we last encountered them. Secondly, we may not remember what state of mind we were in! What struck me harder though was how quickly issues like this could be resolved. People do not generally like the word ‘confrontation’…including me. But guys, we can confront someone in love.

Hebrews 12:14-15 states, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

That is exactly what happens when we make assumptions and do not confront the source quickly. Bitterness creeps in…takes root…and weaves its way into the most vulnerable places in our hearts and minds.

Won’t you call that friend today and ‘clear the air’?

I Hope He Sees Me!

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

I was driving down the interstate on a Tuesday morning and traffic was extremely heavy. I had three hours to go and I was already gripping the steering wheel tightly. At one point, I found myself surrounded by tractor trailers on all three sides, and if there is one thing I learned from my Papa throughout our 34 years of road trips together, it’s that you do NOT allow yourself to be surrounded by tractor trailers. You also do NOT take your time passing one.

So at the point where I found myself surrounded, I felt panic creep in. My face got hot, my knuckles turned white from my grip, and my heart started beating fast. Staring at the truck on my left, I actually said out loud, “Oh, I hope he sees me.” After what seemed like an eternity, but was realistically maybe only 30 seconds, I had cleared the big trucks and was safely making my way down the interstate again.

As my face cooled off, my grip loosened up, and my heart slowed down, that statement found a way back to my thoughts…”I hope he sees me.” A smile came across my lips as I thanked God that He always sees me. This thought used to totally startle me. I mean, if He always sees me, then He has seen me at my worst. He saw me purposefully live through years of sin and not think a thing about it because I was having fun. He saw me all of the times I was manipulative and deceitful when I was growing up. He saw me all of the times I didn’t honor friends or family…or Him.

And now I see His sight of me as the gift that it is. He saw me through all of those times and in what I hope was the ugliest version of myself that will ever exist…and He still chose me. He sees me get frustrated and have little patience at times…and He still loves me. He knew He was going to have to watch me making these poor choices and live a life of disobedience…and He still created me. His sight of me is clear and unchanging. Whether I am at my best…or whether the best version of myself is covered up by my more unbecoming characteristics…He sees me. And He still chooses me.

Psalm 139:1-5, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You even know what I am going to say before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing upon my head.

Psalm 139:7, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

Psalm 139:11-12, “I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in the darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Without Rival—Week Four, Post Four

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

We continue along in our study of chapters 7 & 8 of Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

What if you were free to love? What if you allowed yourself to love with a reckless abandon? Not worrying about whether you were going to get hurt. Not worrying about whether someone was going to leave you. Not worrying about the love not being reciprocated. Not worrying about the possibility of appearing naïve. Not getting in your head and asking “what if?” Not holding back. Not resisting. Not sabotaging every relationship to hurt before you get hurt. Simply allowing yourself to love with every single ounce of your being. What if you were free to love?

It wasn’t until I began reading “Without Rival” that I had an ‘ah ha moment’ with regard to love. I mean a gut wrenching…oh my stars…I’ve got it all wrong type of ‘ah ha moment.’ You see, I love my husband. Like…LOVE love him. Like…I would do anything in this world for him…would die if something ever happened to him…would move to the end of the earth for him…

But I realize that is not enough. You see…in my life…even though people love…sometimes that love still leads to leaving. And I can honestly say that as much as I love my husband, I am loving with a fear of rejection. And with a fear of losing. And it isn’t a healthy fear. It is a fear that forces me to want to maintain some type of control to attempt to prevent that leaving from happening. It is a fear that causes my brain to create circumstances that may not EVER happen in this lifetime. But I go there. And I’m guessing maybe you have ‘gone there too.’ Maybe it is part of your ‘survival mode.’

In “Without Rival,” Lisa Bevere says this, “God is love. Love is eternal. Love never fails, and nothing entrusted to love is ever lost, and everything that is birthed out of love cannot die. But there are some places that love does not grow; love cannot flourish in the company of its rival, fear. Fear has an end—actually, fear is a dead end. Fear is an ungodly spirit that leads to torment. Fear advises from its seat in the shadow of doubt, while love draws its wisdom from the light of faith.” (pg. 160)

Shew! Hello! Does that step on anyone else’s toes like it stepped on mine? You guys, we are robbing our God, our spouses, our children, our family, and our friends of the most beautiful gift! Fearless. Love. Love that conquers all things. Love that connects us in the deepest of ways. Love that DOES NOT FEAR something going wrong because in this type of love…so much is going right.

Friends, we are commanded to love. Not only are we commanded to love our friends and neighbors…ya’ll…God does not discriminate. We are commanded to love our enemies too. Ouch.

Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

If we aren’t even able to love those we hold near and dear without fear…how are we ever going to love our enemies?

 

Without Rival—Week Two, Post Four

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 3 & 4 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

Written by: Megan Kincheloe

So I have this issue. Admitting the problem is the first step, right? I have never had much of an imagination. I am a person who deals much better with facts…with black and white as some say…and gray just does not work well for me. I like to be able to anticipate what is coming next. Some would say I have ‘control issues’…but who are they to judge?

I didn’t even recognize that I was lacking in imagination until I had a daughter. I would observe my mom playing with her and next thing I would know, they would have lyrics made up to songs and would have the plot created for a 15 minute long story that just originated from the depths of their minds a few moments prior. I used to wonder why my brain wasn’t created like that but if there is one things I have learned over the years, it’s that you never question the Master’s handiwork.

At her innocent, young age, our daughter has experienced a lot of loss. She has lost two great-grandparents who loved her dearly, and the feeling was mutual. She’s also lost two close friends of the family and a precious golden retriever who was the model of unconditional love. So I’m a little surprised at my shocked reaction when I asked her on New Year’s Eve what she hoped would happen in 2017. Her fairly quick, heartfelt response was, “I want Jesus to come back so we can all go to Heaven together.” My verbal response to her was, “Oh yes honey. I pray that very same thing.” But if I’m being honest, I couldn’t let my imagination go there. You see, all I could think about was, “But I’d miss watching you and your brother graduate and be the world changers that I know you will be. And I’d miss seeing you both get married and having grandbabies for me to spoil.” Here was my 9 year old tossing everything earthly to the wind and focusing her eyes above and I was the one holding back from craving that very thing that is the ultimate treasure. It was in that moment that God nudged my heart and I almost audibly heard, “Dear daughter…how nearsighted your vision is. None of these things compare to living your life with expectant hope and to the glory of joining me in your forever home.”

You guys, the events here on Earth that seem so beautiful and magnificent and wonderful do not come close to comparing to the treasure awaiting us in Heaven. In Chapter 3 of “Without Rival,” Lisa Bevere says this, “It might seem easier and initially more exciting if I were to tell you someone had just deposited a billion dollars in your bank account. But even if what was left to you was more than you could spend in a lifetime…it would never be yours. For the law of earthly treasure is that it must remain in the realm of its birth. When you die, it will be left behind. But this treasure, the one you possess, transforms as it enriches and will travel with you for eternity.” (pg. 54)

Luke 23:43, “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Paradise ya’ll. Paradise.

Please answer the conversation cafe question in our comments section below 🙂


Conversation Cafe:

What treasures or events are you clinging to here in your horizontal vision that are clouding your vertical view and making it impossible to imagine the glory of eternity?