What is Your Megaphone Broadcasting?

I recently watched a sermon from one of my favorite speakers.  It gave me some great perspective!  The entire sermon was built around the question, "When life hands you troubles, your heart is a megaphone.  What is your heart saying to the world?" 

What a concept I hadn't really thought of before.  When someone is struggling and going through troubles and they do not have Christ in their lives, or have not fully put their trust in Him it is often negatives that we hear.  It is depression, frustration, disbelief, and questions as to why God allowed such a thing or if He is even real anymore to them.  Those actions and words are a megaphone to the world.

Opposite is if someone has prepared their heart for such troubles, their heart typically beams things like, "God will work a miracle from this situation, God has overcome the world and will see me through, despite this circumstance I will see better days, or simply their joy and peace radiates through them and is also a megaphone.

Which megaphone would you rather hear from? Which megaphone do you want to be?

When life is going easy and seems like smooth sailing, it is time to prepare for trouble because the bible doesn't say "IF" trouble comes, but "WHEN".  If we are prepared and have the right relationship with Christ and find our peace and motives in Him, then when trouble comes, we are equipped to endure life's troubles in peace. 

I surely was not equipped to endure the wild rapid ride of my crumbling marriage, then divorce, then the struggles of single-parenthood.  It made for a very depressing and frustrating time.  It wasn't until I spent time in God's Word and meditated on the promises that He has for me and for my son that I started to put my trust in him.  Am I prepared for troubles? Well, I would like to think that I am a lot closer to peace during trouble than I used to be.  Every day it is a commitment to spending time in prayer, reading God's Word and keeping my mouth shut and my ears open long enough to hear what He has in store for me.   Many wonderful moments are experienced when I just listen. 

As this season marks the beginning of another year, let's make 2013 be the year of preparation for what our megaphone will be broadcasting when trouble finds us.  Let us also be aware of what message we are currently sending through our life reactions.


Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1: 2-4

Finding the Calm Among the Storms

My heart is broken.  I have no words to describe the deep ache that lies within my soul as a mother, fellow American, and believer in God. The evil or mental illnesses that have perpetuated the horrific crimes this year alone around the world are enough to make even the strongest soul, break. 

The latest of these being the tragedy that became of an entire school in Connecticut this past Friday.  27 total lives were lost because of one man's unknown intentions.  I, like the majority of the world, was devastated at the news. 

My first reaction was to cry, then to pray for the families, then to be honest, my next emotion was anger.  Anger that yet another place where I have little or no control over my son's environment had safety challenged and defeated. I was so angry at the loss that over 20 families experienced that day.  Anger at the lasting mark such a tragedy has left on other little lives, a community, a nation, and ultimately the world.  Anger that such evil exists and that it can penetrate such innocence and purity.

I have never truly felt as if my son was 100% safe.  There is always that lingering possibility that something evil will enter every effort I have to keep him safe.  I think like all parents on Friday, it made this evil in the world just that much more real and left me feeling helpless to the possibility that it could have just as easily been my son in that classroom.  There is really no "safe place". 

So, how do we as parents help our children cope with such a tragedy? How do we give our children a sense of security and covering with a world that is falling apart?   The simplest answer I can give is: truth.  Give them truth. 

After sharing tears of grief together over the lives lost, my son and I talked about good and evil.  We talked about the promises of the bible and how important it was to reach as many people as we could with the good news of Christ.  The promises of His love, grace, and mercy.  As we started to pray for the families affected, my son stopped me and said, "But mom! All of those kids are in Heaven with Jesus!  They are happy!"  What divine understanding in such a young child.

Many parents are reaching for answers and for resources on how to help their kids cope with such a tragedy.  I have done some research on some links provided to me from a friend here at Family Talk.

1) Keep the media away from your child's eyes and ears.  Constantly bombarding them with images and news of the fearful event will be overwhelming and have terrible lasting effects.

2) Pray with them.  Calling upon God and the Holy Spirit to intervene in times that are out of our control will teach our kids to call upon the name of God as well.

3) Renounce Evil.  It is important that children see adults willing to fight against evil and take a stand for good.

4) Look for signs of PTSD in your kids.  Changes in behavior such as acting out, withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, or fear of a similar tragedy happening to them would all need to be addressed with the help of a Christian Counselor.

5) Try to keep them in a routine as much as possible. Keeping the normalcy and predictability will counteract the feelings of confusion and disorientation.

6) Accept your child's emotions for what they are.  Be open to discussing the behaviors in a gentle and understanding way.  Allow them to draw, write, paint, play games, write poetry or write in an journal.  As many outlets as they can have for their feelings the better.

7) Most importantly, tell your children that you love them.  Hold them close to reassure them that you are doing everything you can to protect them.  This reinforces that you are near and you are always available to cover them in your love and embrace.

For adults, we need help coping also.  If you are finding yourself suffering from PTSD, please seek counseling from your Pastor or a local Christian Counselor.  Visit here for a list of counselors.

I'll end this with Psalm 91


Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

God is God and I Am Not

After a very stressful week in all departments of my life, I find myself listening to this song by Steven Curtis Chapman, God is God and am reminded at how little I know about the big picture in my life and situation and just how little control I have over it.

If you have encountered divorce, or single parenting you will be the first to stand with me when I say that you have to submit daily to Christ and to what will "be" from day to day.  As a good friend of mine said, he sits in his chair at the end of each day and says, "We did it.  We made it through another day."  For him, everyday feels like this and for most of us, we can relate.

I remember in college, having high hopes and aspirations of what I wanted my life to look like when I hit my 30's.  My life is absolutely not at all like I had imagined.  Although I would change my situation of being a single parent in a heartbeat if given the chance, I also acknowledge that God has used what became of my life and turned it into an amazing journey of faith and hope. 

Each day I get to wake up to God's calling on my life and situation. I've met so many amazing people who are going through this same journey and it brings joy to my soul to have that deep connection.  What the world intends for evil, God makes good!

We don't always understand what God is doing with us when He places us in situations that do not make sense to us, but trust me that from my experiences, He knows exactly what He is doing.  Everything will work for good for those who trust in Him! 

Making Lemonade

When life hands you lemons, do you make lemonade?  What does that even mean?

In order for you to make lemonade that's any good you would also need sugar and water.  If the "bad" things in life are the lemons, then you would also make lemonade out of the sweet things in life; the sugar.  And don't forget the nourishing things in life; the water.  So theoretically it is impossible to make lemonade out of just the lemons, or the "bad" things in life.

This has never rung so true to me as lately.  I'm personally struggling with a lot of lemons in my life.  Are you making lemonade out of your situations?  We have times of really loving moments, deep connections, and nourishing opportunities within our families.  All the while we are handling situations that no one can comprehend fully, except us.  Each person's situation is different and thus, we get our individual "lemon-situations". 

Alone, the lemons would make a pretty sour drink and at times life can feel very sour.  If we never bring the life ingredients of sugar and water into our situations we will always be encountering the sour taste of life.  If you haven't brought any sugar or water into your life lately, isn't it time?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
~ Philippians 4:8 ~

Tis the Season

Simply put, I love Christmas.  I have always loved Christmas and to a point I am almost teased for the joy I can find in this season all year long.  In mid June during a hot spell, I can be found sitting at my desk enjoying instrumental Christmas music and fa-la-la-ing my way through work.  It is so serene and peaceful that it really motivates me to write and become emotional in what I am producing.   I anxiously wait for the day in which I can decorate my house.  I have everything up around November 1st, and usually keep it up through January. 

What prompts such desire to celebrate this season?  I will admit that I do get caught up in the secular Christmas with the mistletoe, wreaths, lights, and baking but this does not overshadow the celebration of the gift God gave to the world one day in Bethlehem many years ago.  I find that the peace of this season helps me to cope with the not so peaceful days of single parenthood.  Very often life will become chaotic and overwhelming.  Playing a Christmas song is sure to lift anyone's spirits, so who cares what day of the year that is?  We can and should celebrate Christ coming to earth throughout the entire year.  Sometimes even in June or July,  a little reminder can make a bad day, not so bad.  At least, this is my "happy place".

Where is your happy place?

Thanksgiving Blues

The Thanksgiving of 2008 marked the beginning of many Thanksgivings to come where my life was drastically different from before.  At that time I had nowhere to turn for someone who could give me life experiences and practical advice for how to still remain thankful during this time of uncertainty and emotional pain.  Sitting around a table giving thanks for all that God had done in my life, to put it blatantly, was just something I was not wanting to do. This was the first Thanksgiving facing divorce.

Four years later I am in a much healthier place mentally and can look back and see clearly all of the reasons I should have been thankful on Thanksgiving 2008.  If you are struggling with having a heart of Thanksgiving this year, try these activities to help ease your pain and open your heart.  It can be done.

1) Sit in a circle with your kids and have each person say something they are thankful for in the other people individually.  I guarantee that tears of joy will follow.

2) Look through photo albums of your children and relive the memories by telling your children what stories surround each photo.

3) Create a blessings board with your kids.  This can be a simple piece of paper taped to the wall, but have each of your kids fill this paper with the blessings in their life.  Make it fun and put pictures or drawings instead of words.  If you are really feeling down, post the papers ALL over the house so that you are bombarded with the blessings in your kid's lives. 

4) Take an outing to a park or another scenic place and spend some time with your kids talking to God and pointing out all of the wonderful things around you that He's made.

5) Serve at a food pantry, shelter, dinner service with your kids.  I guarantee you will walk away feeling more grateful for the roof over your head and food in your cupboard.

6) Dress up in your best clothes to attend your Thanksgiving dinner.  It is a known fact that a shower and some primping will lift your spirits.

7) Invite others to your Thanksgiving dinner and make it more potluck-style.  You make the Turkey and your guests bring everything else. This also helps on the expenses!

8) Spend time on your knees in prayer everyday.  Even if you do not feel like you want to speak with God, do it.   You might be surprised to find that He has something to say to you.

9) Decorate your house! This doesn't have to be expensive at all if everything is homemade.  Have the kids make drawings and little cut outs that you can put around your house.  This is a definite "smile-maker" for you as a parent to see your kid's talent put into action.

10) Do not isolate yourself.  If your kids will be with the other parent, ask friends/family if you can come to their event and GO!  It is extremely hard to motivate yourself if you are facing a holiday alone, but it is the most important thing for you not to be alone.  You'll be much happier if you are amongst other people.

What other ideas do you have or have you done?

Ways To Say "I Love You"

My son handed this to me one day before work.  

I recently picked up a book by Jay Payleitner entitled, 365 Ways to Say “I Love You” to Your Kids.  I went through this book and highlighted everything that I currently do to tell my son “I love you” through my actions, and to my pleasure the book is quite highlighted!  There are some really great ways that were mentioned that I wanted to share with you! 

1) Get a heart-shaped cookie cutter and use if for lunch meat, pancakes, French toast, sandwiches, and sometimes-even cookies!

2) Learn the international sign language for “I love you” and use it across the room, across the yard, or across the gym.

3) Apologize when you mess up.

4) Say, “If they lined up all the
twelve-year-old boys (insert appropriate age/gender) in the entire world, I’d choose you.”

5) “You are just about the best thing that has ever happened to me!”

6) Empower them to try new things.

7) Get down on their level.

8) Climb a jungle gym with them.

9) Tuck them in every night.

10) Write “LOVE YOU” on a sticky note and put it on their bathroom mirror.

These are just some suggestions but I thought they were great! Of course this book is filled with 355 more great ways to say you love your children through words and actions!  I have found that the best reaction from my son is that he does these things back to me.  What a great way to teach your children how to love!  I have been blessed with a child who loves with a huge heart. 

What ways do you say or receive “I love you” from your kids?

He Is Faithful

Lately I have been hearing of so many people hurting and so many who are in despair.  Looking back on my journey to where I am today, although filled with despair at times, I remember all of the blessings.  God has been so faithful in my life and in my son's life.  It is hard to see blessings during hard times but it is important to remember and be thankful of all things, not just the good.   One time in particular has me praising God daily for how he pulled me out of the seemingly “pit” and made me new so that I could live for His purpose here on earth. 

In October 2010, I had really hurt my back through numerous falls, wrong moves, and outside circumstances that landed me incapable of taking care of myself for almost 2 months.   An MRI was performed and through the generous help of family and friends I was able to get the care I needed and have recovered to about 90% to date.
During this time of recovery the MRI results had come in.  I had a bulged disc that was sitting on my nerves and was causing the pain.   This is actually really common for people to have after trauma to the back.  Then came the observation that changed me forever. There were spots found in my uterus; spots that needed to be checked out immediately.

I made the appointment with fear and proceeded to have the ultrasound.  The doctor explained that I had 3 masses on my uterus and that she was unsure if they were anything to be nervous about at that point.  I really don’t remember much she said after that first sentence to be honest.   I immediately went to the worst possible scenario in my mind.  Could this be the beginning of my battle with cancer?   I made a follow up appointment for 1 month later, called my mom and we prayed.   I have no doubt that my parents prayed daily for my follow up appointment to show no growth in the masses and for what God would do with this situation.  My parents have always been the first to show me that God is in control and that everything is orchestrated by Him and for His purpose.   This was my time to prove to God that I truly believed that too. I am not sure I passed that test because as a single parent, the idea of Bradley not having a mom around, or that I would be too sick to care for him just flooded my worry.  It is very easy to let your mind entertain these thoughts when you are the sole caretaker of a helpless child.

The month crawled by but my follow up appointment proved to be very different from the first.   After the ultrasound, the doctor came into the room and said that she really couldn’t explain the results, but that the masses had completely disappeared! It is not often I find myself in a loss for words, but the feeling of relief, answered prayer, and renewed hope flooded my emotions! I could hardly contain myself and couldn’t get out of there quick enough to call my mom and share the news! 

God had healed me! I still am not sure what those masses were, but it doesn’t matter because God had the entire situation under control.  God allowed my back to crumble, so he could show me a miracle!  Without one I wouldn’t have found the other.   Was I praising God during my back pain? Did I trust Him during the month of uncertainty? Surely not the way I should have been.  God showed me through this experience that although the world seems to be falling down around us, He is there.  He is faithful and in His timing everything will be okay.   Words that a single parent needs to hear daily: It will be okay. 

Are you struggling to trust God in your situation? What ways has God shown His love for you and control over your circumstance?

Making Sweet Memories

Halloween is tomorrow and festivities of this night can be seen everywhere!  I remember celebrating this time with passion and excitement while growing up.  It was a time to act goofy with my friends, dress up and go from house to house seeking the title of who received the most candy.  One year my brother even got together with friends and created a “spooky maze” in our garage.  There was nothing gross about the costumes and it was simply a “boo!” experience that drew my brothers, my family and our friends closer together as we all spend endless hours collaborating and building this spectacular maze that went from the garage, through the backyard and out around the other side of the house. 

When I look back upon these memories, I do not recall any evil involved at all.  It was a time to pretend, to laugh, and of course eat a lot of otherwise forbidden, candy!   My parents were very careful about checking our candy, explaining how to be safe, and making sure this was a time that we were enjoying festivities and not encountering evil.  One year I decided to go outside of the boundaries set by my parents and I walked through a haunted house that was not all fun and games.  Inside I saw horrible visions and was the most scared I had ever been.  I quickly learned why the boundary was put up and I never crossed that boundary again.
I know there is a lot of controversy regarding Halloween and its origin and as a parent now, I agree with keeping your kids from any form of evil if you possibly can.  I agree that people take this night way too far and make this into the most evil night of the year.  Bottom line is that it is my job to teach my son how to have good clean fun on a holiday even if the world around him is screaming evil.  This kid is very perceptive to evil and very aware of his boundaries regarding it.   I will step out on a limb here and be completely honest. I do not see any harm in dressing up as a clean character; go from door to door for the experience of collecting candy and spending time with friends and family throughout the night.   It is fun.  It is meant to be fun.  You’ll never see me at an adult secular costume party, allowing scary costumes or scary movies, or playing that awful Halloween music at my house. Why? This is not why I enjoy Halloween.  Although the least favorite of all holidays, I do enjoy seeing my son dress up as Thomas the Train and fill a bag with goodies that I normally do not let him eat.  I take the candy and replace it with candy that I bought and know is safe and he is aware of this entire process.  He is aware that candy from strangers can’t be trusted; however the experience of collecting that with his friends and a parent nearby can be a fun time. 

Bottom line for me is that when my son and I dress up and enjoy this time together, it is a memory builder that has nothing to do with any form of evil. 

Wear Your Oxygen Mask First

A couple years ago I boarded an airplane bound for my hometown.  While sitting through the emergency instructions presentation, I heard the words that will forever ring in my head as being a guide to my life.  In the event that the oxygen level in the main cabin becomes unstable, oxygen masks will drop in front of every passenger. Passengers are to take them, secure them to their heads using the elastic band and breathe through the masks normally. Passengers are instructed to make sure their masks are on first before assisting other passengers or children.”

Wow, it hit me right between the eyes! Metaphorically, I should be taking care of myself so that I can in turn take care of my son!

Stay with me…

Life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and the highs and lows. If we are constantly trying to put the “oxygen mask” on our children to alleviate them of pain, hurt, disappointment, etc., then we are going to eventually run out of oxygen ourselves.  It is important that we make sure we are okay also.  As busy parents who are covering the load of two, it is very easy to become wrapped up in the day to day and before we know it weeks or months have gone by and we have not taken in our own oxygen.  We cannot function to our full capacity in caring for our children if we are not caring for ourselves.

I am very guilty of this during the separation and first few months post-divorce.  My son became my everything.  I was still a “stay-at-home mom” for the first few months and then after that worked full time and put him in the best daycare I possibly could which drained my pocket book to the point of nothing much left.  My schedule consisted of dropping him off around 7:15am and picking him up around 5:30pm.  His bedtime was 7:30pm and so there was not much time to do anything but spend time with him.  When he went to bed, I went to bed.  I was drained and completely exhausted.  Weekends were spent doing laundry, cleaning, errands, church and trying to keep connected with the few friendships I had left via the phone/internet.  Go, go, and go.  That was my life.

It took the first weekend of my son visiting his dad about 1 hour north from where we live for me to sit and think, “now what?”  I had spent so much time focused on him that I had no idea what to do when he wasn’t there.  After some very hard self-motivation, I spent time with some girlfriends, exercised, box-colored my hair, painted my finger nails, read my bible without distraction, prayed, sang karaoke, met some new friends and just tried to enjoy time with myself.   It made me feel great!  When Bradley returned I was recharged and ready to give him my all.

You deserve to get to know YOU and you are worth it.  You need to put your oxygen mask on every once in a while to ensure you have enough strength to share with your children and those around you.  This is a great healing technique as well.  Losing a spouse or doing the “single parenting jig” can be a very lonely road if you do not learn how to care for yourself.

What are some things that you do for yourself?

While You Were Sleeping

Your day has come to an end.  The kids are in bed and you are left with just enough energy to fall into your bed and get a good night’s rest.  This is the time when you are able to turn off everything and just relax into your own dreamland, right?  Unfortunately, as great as this idea is, it is not reality for some.   

At least for me this is when I become “Meg the security guard making sure my son sleeps safely throughout the night.”  Sounds heroic right? Not true either.  Truth is that I dread night-time.  I hate sleeping in bed alone and I hate that every sound has me wondering if all is safe within my house.  If you ask my parents, they will tell you that I’ve always been somewhat paranoid about potential danger but I remember a time when my husband was the “safe” feeling that would ease me into sleep without any problems.  I will be honest that I truly miss that feeling.

Although very strong-willed, I am not a brave woman.  Within a moment’s notice I would not hesitate to save myself or my son from danger, but the fear of that danger is very real to me.  I have been truly convicted tonight in my bible reading that my fear can be construed as a lack of trust in the Lord.  I have to trust in God to keep my son and I safe from all danger and to simply rest at night so that I can be used for his glory during waking hours.

It’s a struggle I tell ya!  Even now as I write this, I took a moment to check on my kiddo while he is sleeping.  “Yep, he’s still there AND he’s breathing…whew!”  All joking aside, I do believe that God knows my fear and yours if you struggle with this too.  We as women weren’t created to be the protectors, men were.  All the security systems, pepper spray, bats, locks, and dare I say it, guns will not keep your mind at ease.  They surely help, but God is the only one who can truly ease your mind and give you rest.

Through God All Things Are Possible!

Do you truly believe it? With God ALL things are possible? I know for me it took a while and that phrase is still something I struggle with from time to time. I know it in my head but sometimes my heart, when it is breaking or angry has a very hard time trusting in those words: ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  The bible doesn’t say some, but it says ALL!

How do you believe this?
  I ask “how” because I feel that to know that all things are possible requires action.   You don’t just believe what it says but you live it, you breath it, and you share it. 

It is easy to put this phrase into action when consoling someone else, or when your world seems pretty steady.
  What about the times when you aren’t so steady?  The bills are piling up, your kids are sick, work has you on overload, you are exhausted, you are having drama with the ex, possibly drama in a new relationship, you are struggling with depression and guilt and maybe you feel lonely.  Any of those sound familiar? The list of struggles can go on and on.  When in those times are you leaning on the phrase: “with God ALL things are possible”?

Is this really a hard thing to grasp? I think that Satan waits
(1 Peter 5:8) to take these opportunities to cloud the reality that no matter what the situation, our God is still on the throne!  A very wise lady (Mrs. LuAnne Crane) says those words very often and I will never release them from my heart.  “Our God is still on the throne!”  What an exclamation of victory!  You are still God’s child and He knows everything you endure and YES He will make all things possible.  They aren’t always in the way that we imagine or in our timing but how great is His promise to us! Ephesians 3:20  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Have victory over all of your situations through God’s promise!