Walking in the Cemetery

Walking in the Cemetery

The other day I was reading my devotional, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado before going to work. Under a list of bullet points I was surprised to read “Make major decisions in a cemetery.”

I had to reread that line a couple times. It seemed so random and not flowing with the other ideas, but I pondered it nonetheless. I decided that my next morning walk would be at a cemetery not far from my house.

The morning was slightly cooler than it’s been the past blazing week. I pulled into the cemetery and instead of being surrounded by headstones, I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground so you have to practically be standing over top them to read them.

If you ever need a reality check, the cemetery is a good place to go. Especially when you see the markers of children who didn’t even make it to 5 or 10 years old.

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Visiting Uncle Skipper (2014)

My Uncle “Skipper” died of leukemia when he was 9 years old. He was my first real understanding of death, which is odd because I never met him. Even now I feel a strange connection with him and the knowledge of his brief but precious life.

 

In a cemetery you are very aware of lives that have come to an end and no matter what age, they’re always gone too soon. So, here are some thoughts I had while sitting on a cold stone bench overlooking the resting memorials.

If we could check off everything on our bucket list, would we feel like it was a life well spent? If we landed that dream job, married the love of our life, had the perfect number of children, and could afford a lake house for retirement, is that a successful life?

I gotta be honest, sometimes I feel like if I don’t achieve any of those things, I’ll have wasted my life. But a passage keeps coming to my mind.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  ∼Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

In life, we are constantly bombarded with planning our future and making goals for everything we want to do while we’re still on this earth. Whenever someone close to us passes away, we are reminded that life is short and we should always live as if it’s our last day. While all of that is true and blanketed with good intentions, it’s easy to fall into making each day about us.

As Christians, the fact of the matter is time is short.

Time is short to represent Jesus.

Time is short to do His will.

Time is short to celebrate His name in thankfulness.

I was listening to an online sermon by Todd White (worth looking up here) and he made it abundantly clear that we might be the only Jesus people see. We might be the only Bible people read. What are we doing about it? Are we really making good use of our time as servants of Christ? That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?

The Bible consistently reminds us of our selfish nature, but thankfully, it also gives us a better alternative to living. If we could just peel our selfishness away and focus on living for God and for others (Lk 10:27), there will be no greater achievement on earth as it is in heaven.

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This epitaph inspired me because I realized I would rather be remembered by walking out the fruits of the Spirit than how many books I publish or performances I give. The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God in our life so you better believe I want people to see them. They’re found here in Galatians 5 if you want to know what they are.

Let me leave you with a few ideas on how you can reveal the love of Jesus in your daily life:

  • Generously tip all of your servers (not just the deserving ones)
  • Leave notes of encouragement
  • Don’t complain about work
  • Learn peoples’ names (everyone likes to hear their name)

If you have any other ideas on how you like to represent Jesus, leave a comment so we all can learn from each other!

The next time you find yourself in the cemetery, remember the advice from my devotional: “make a major decision” to walk in the light of Jesus, bearing His fruit so the world can pick it from your branches.

God bless!

-LJM

P.S. Daytime walks in the cemetery are far less scary than nighttime walks.

Heavy and Happy

Heavy and Happy

Being heavier than most of my friends has never been fun. The earliest I started paying attention to a scale was twelve years old, not that it did me much good as the numbers increased significantly over the years.

I feel like I’ve been trying to lose weight my whole life. Sometimes I’m successful and the other 99% of the time I hate myself.

The fact of the matter is, it’s just as miserable trying to lose weight as it is to gain weight. The only bright side is when you finally do see the pounds off but it’s only for as long as you can maintain a strict lifestyle.

Why am I saying all of this, sounding like such a Debbie Downer? It’s not out of self-pity (okay, maybe a little) and it’s not a cry for sympathy. The point is, you can’t be happy and heavy at the same time.

Before I lose you, let me clarify what you can be:

Heavy and content.

Heavy and joyful.

Heavy and thriving.

You see, being happy is an emotion only dependent on outside circumstances. If I have a good job, if I’m with the love of my life, if I look good, then I’ll be happy. As soon as our outside circumstances are negative or if they don’t go as planned, then it’s harder to be happy.

But being content is about being at peace in the moment. It means loving yourself if you’re 10 pounds overweight or 100. Losing 20, 30, 40 pounds will never be enough. Learn to celebrate your imperfections now, knowing that you will always have something you want to change. The reality is, a mess of even more flaws is heading our way. It’s called getting older.

Being joyful is a heart condition. You can change the outside all you want, but the real change in your life comes from a change of heart. Jesus warns those of us who are focused on cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is still full of junk (Luke 11:39). Our relationship with God and with people defines us more than the numbers on the scale.

Finally, you can still thrive as a plus-sized individual. Don’t let the negative perspective on double chins, belly rolls, and love handles determine what you can and cannot do or what you can and cannot have. You can still find a significant other who thinks you’re sexy, you can still be successful in your pursuits, and you can still be used by God.

Am I saying you should give up on trying to obtain that beach body? Or reach your goal weight? No, because I’m not going to give up. We should always strive to be healthier because we’re God’s temple and we want to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Remember what’s important, don’t be ruled by the fat stigma or the scale digits, and don’t let the doubts about your value steal what’s true. God’s mirror reflects His perfect child. His love is the reason we have an identity in the first place, and we have enough of the world against us to turn on ourselves too.

Join me as I look in the mirror and step on the scale remembering:

To celebrate the parts of my body I wish were different.

To clean the nasty parts of my heart.

To never give up on my goals.

So go out, my friends, live life and let the weight just be something you carry along for the ride.

God bless!
-LJM

I AM Enough

I AM Enough

By Leah Jordan Meahl

 

Life is wavering water,

Uncontrolled is how she behaves,

But I AM enough.

 

Endlessly moving,

Yet forever enslaved,

Life is wavering water

 

Though the raging sea may capture,

And send treasures to their graves,

I AM enough.

 

In anger she devours,

But for the thirsty, she saves,

Life is wavering water

 

The horizon beckons her dangerous journey,

And if you can’t be brave,

I AM enough.

 

Rolls began as ripples,

They’re moments I forgave.

Life is wavering water,

But I AM enough.

 

-LJM

Psalm 16:5-11