Dogs & Horses & Conventions…OH MY!

Have you ever had a moment or a day in your life in which everything seems to come together almost as if by magic?  I had one of those this week and let me tell you as soon as things started happening, I knew exactly who to thank.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you know that about three months ago I had a serious fall while riding my young horse.  It has been a longer road to recovery than I had anticipate, but by the middle of July I was riding our sweet little pony again.  I call him my rehab horse.  A little over a week ago I thought I was ready to get back on my mare.  Boy was I wrong.  As much as I tried, I just could not relax and trust her and let go of my fear.  And because I was afraid, she was afraid.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.

There are some obvious messages here about fear and trust and faith, but I’m what I want to share with you today is different.  My horse needs more miles under saddle and I’m not in a place, mentally or physically to give them to her right now, so I got a recommendation for a fantastic trainer, who lives roughly three hours away.  Late last week the trainer contacted me to let me know that she had a stall free and that I could bring my girl up anytime.

Now these two weeks are probably the busiest weeks of my summer with comic book conventions back to back.  We arrived home from Boston on Monday and we are heading out today for Toronto.  I had someone lined up to take her, but he wasn’t available until Friday and I wasn’t going to send her off to a new place alone.  I basically had one day this week that was open to take her, so I resigned myself to sending her up next week.  I mean, really what’s a few days, right?

We had also planned on picking up our new puppy Sunday night after Fan Expo since she was in the Toronto area.  So then I thought, well maybe I could go up Wednesday this week and pick up the puppy to save us the extra driving after the convention, when we would be exhausted.  At that moment the rational side of my brain kicked in, looked at the mountain of things to be accomplished in two days and dispelled that idea.

This is the moment when God stepped in and took over.  When I arrived at the barn Tuesday morning to see the horses, a casual conversation with the barn owner revealed that there was a horse from our barn going up the next day to Guelph for surgery, and there was space on that trailer.  A few messages later and my horse was booked.  Okay I thought, I’m going to be close, maybe I can pick up puppy too?  If you’ve seen my Facebook feed, you know the answer to that question.

The point is, I didn’t imagine, couldn’t possibly have imagined that all of the logistic Lego pieces could possibly fit together so easily and so perfectly.  God surprised me.  Without my even asking for help or realizing I needed it, He stepped in and solved my problems.  I’m calling it my birthday present.  But think about it.  How many times in your life has God taken a seemingly impossible situation and made everything slide together as if it was always intended to be that way?

Some people call that luck…I call that my heavenly Father reminding me how much he cares.  I am so grateful and blessed that God loved me enough to call my name, to pursue me and to welcome me as his child.  Maybe you haven’t fully decided yet how you feel about God, but I promise you that if you are reading this, he knows exactly how he feels about you…YOU ARE LOVED.

God bless,

Meredith

Here’s a video that perfect echos that sentiment.

 

Getting to the top of the mountain.

Much like this beautiful earth we live on, we each go through seasons in our lives.  This summer for me has been a season of highs and lows.  I’ve been reminded of God’s grace with blessings, and I’ve struggled to see his plan through pain and sorrow.

First let me say, the human body, while miraculous, doesn’t always heal as quickly as we might wish it would.  It’s been a struggle for me at times to bang up against the limitations of what I still can and can’t do.  And there have been days this season when the only thing I have to offer to God is anger. I’ve had days that I’ve spent in bed, wrapped up in feeling sorry for myself, listing off all the perceived hardships I’ve had to deal with in my entire life, questioning how there can possibly be a God in heaven who cares about me.  Maybe you’ve been there too.  Those are the days we are most tempted to turn away from God, to blame him rather than to thank him.  I know because I’ve done that.

But here’s the thing.  In those moments, I was no different than a toddler having a temper-tantrum because they didn’t get a toy that they wanted, or a hormone-fueled teenager telling their parents that they hate them because they can’t go to a party.  As parents it is our responsibility to tell our children “NO”.  We aren’t trying to be mean, we are doing it because we love and care for them.  Because we want the very best life for them.  God wants that for us too.  And even in those moments when I gave in fully, either to anger or despondency, there was a place in my heart that knew the truth.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul quotes Jesus as saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I can honestly say that I have never felt more weak and vulnerable in my life than I have these past few months.  And like a child, I don’t always understand the reasons why my Father puts me on the paths he does, but if I can’t trust that He is doing it because He loves me and wants the best life for me…then I have nothing.  And when my anger or despondency has passed, because it always does…I am again reminded of all of the blessings in my life, and how much God loves me. 

It’s okay to give God your feelings, ALL of your feelings, even your doubt and anger.  Because even in yelling at God you are demonstrating faith.  Those he loved most, walked some of the hardest roads imaginable…but their reward was a full and complete awareness of his love and grace.  And having even a small awareness of the overwhelming love and grace of Jesus and my heavenly Father means that a few hardships aren’t too much to live through if it means that in the end I’m closer to HIM.  And thankfully God is patient, so he will walk patiently beside me. even if I complain loudly every step of the way.  His love never fails.  I hope that someday, in this journey of life, I am at a place that I can thank God for my trials and tribulations while I am in the midst of them. But, either way He’s going to take that journey with me, and I’m pretty sure He’s willing to accept whatever it is I can offer at that moment.  And I KNOW I can’t make it without him.

It’s human to focus on the hardships and forget about the blessings.  But as much as I have felt weak and vulnerable in this particular season of my life, I have also felt loved and blessed and cared for.  When I look at the sum of my life, there is so much love and goodness there that God has blessed me with.  I hope and pray that if you are walking through a valley right now that God gives you the strength to look back at the mountain tops you’ve already been on and to look forward to the ones yet to come.  Even if all you have to offer God is a mountain of anger…believe me when I tell you, his grace is enough to get you to the top.

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

Quick! Grab a Brochure!!!

I’m in a bit of a quandary today in regards to what I am going to write about.  I initially thought I would write about all the blessings of our vacation, but I also had an epiphany this afternoon about work so…. we’ll just see where the Spirit leads me.

First let me say that the most important thing I took along on our recent trip to Germany was Jesus.  Not a single day went by when I did not look at Dave and say “thank you, Jesus”.  Not. One. Single. Day.  But there is one day in particular that stands out for me.  We were in Strasbourg, France.  We had gotten up early for the second day in a row because we had a four hour drive ahead of us.  We were all physically weary from our previous three days of constant stair climbing and many kilometers of walking.  And Strasbourg, like many old cities in Europe…not the easiest to drive around in.

That being said we made it to our hotel as scheduled and then headed out for lunch.  For each city we planned on visiting I had prepared an itinerary.  Strasbourg was no exception.  We wanted to see Little France, including the Ponts Courverts and Barrage Vauban.  And we definitely needed to see the Cathedral.  Here’s where God’s care for us comes into it.

While we were in Germany.  Many, many people asked us about our plans.  As I was talking about it with one fellow, he said he lived in Strasbourg and that we absolutely had to eat at La Corde A Linge.  I googled it and it looked perfect, great wine for us and hamburgers for Isaac.  A few nights later I called to make a reservation.  They were full, but she said we should come anyway because they would still be able to seat us.  I asked her the best time and her recommendation was 7-7:30.

Fast forward a couple of days and here we are, newly arrived in Strasbourg, tired and hungry.  I knew that we would never last until 7:00 for dinner, so knowing the restaurant was open for lunch I suggested we make it a lunch destination instead. We had time to figure out dinner later.  The patio was huge.  Easily upward of 50 tables.  We waited several minutes for a table but eventually were seated at the very edge of the patio closest to the street.  (THIS IS AN IMPORTANT FACT).

So we are sitting, I’m enjoying a glass of wine, enjoying the atmosphere, when all of a sudden I see coming toward me… a little electric train filled with tourists.  It literally drives right beside our table.  I could almost reach out and touch it… almost.  Then it  strikes me that it would be a lot of fun for Isaac (he loves trains).  At this point the train is right beside me and I can see a brochure on the side of the train facing us.  I struggle to get out of my chair, but between my hip and the flagstones, there is no way I am going to get out of my chair on time.  I shout at Everett who is the next closest to “Quick! Grab a brochure!”  He, like the teenager he is, looks up from his phone with disdain, his expression… Really Mom?  And just like that the train is past us and he’s not chasing it.  The moment has passed.

Half an hour later, we’re eating our food and what do I see?  Everett like the great kid he is, immediately, but like, in a super cool way, gets up, snags a brochure and we’re set.

Are you ready for it?  The trains ran every half hour from… Notre Dame Cathedral… you know the one we wanted to visit.  And every stop we wanted to see…and more…were on the trip.  Since they were all stops you can only see from the outside, the train could not have been more perfect!

So there it is, my story of God providing for us in Strasbourg.

1. We got the name of a restaurant in Germany, that we couldn’t get reservations at for dinner, so we had lunch there, and out of 50+ tables, we were literally seated at the closest table to the train that, would tour our exhausted bodies all over the city and picked us up from and brought us back to the one place we were actually able and wanted to tour.  You know…God’s house.

Now that would be enough right?  Except that, as we were walking back to our hotel, for a little rest after the train and Cathedral, I decided to check out a few restaurant menus to find a place for dinner.  I looked at a few and everything was okay, but someone would have to compromise. We were almost back to our hotel when somehow we ended off the main street and there right in front of us was a beautiful restaurant with a perfect menu…for EVERYONE!

As we sat there enjoying our dinner that night we could not help but feel fully and completely blessed.  We had been physically exhausted when we got to Strasbourg, and instead of trekking miles over the city to see the sights, we were able to sit back and relax and then enjoy a fantastic meal at the end of our day.

That day was a day that God’s blessings were full and obvious to us, but how many days does he bless us in ways that we aren’t even aware of.

I pray that He gives you days like He gave us, full of blessings and love, days to be enjoyed and grateful for.  God is good.

God bless,

Meredith

P.S.  I guess the work thing is for another time 🙂

The Scouring of My Heart.

For almost as long as I can remember I have thought of myself as tough.  When I was a child I had a few experiences of bullying, but I silently refused to allow them to make me feel badly about myself.  When I made a bad decision as a young adult, I stiffened my spine, and did what I felt needed to be done to rectify the situation.  When I learned that  blindness was only the tip of the iceberg for my first born, I got down on my knees and taught him how to crawl, how to walk, how to sign.  When my first husband left me with a three month old baby and a two year old with special needs, I pulled myself together, went back to school and did what needed to be done.

It really not my intention to give you a litany of all the struggles I’ve faced because, quite frankly, we’ve all had struggles.  The point I want to make here is that while there have been many challenges throughout my life, and even through I might have cried, and cried hard…at some point I picked myself up, took a deep breath and got on with taking care of things.  I’ve become the person people turn to when things fall apart, because I’m strong.  So what happened?

I’ve said before that God is always for us and is always working for our good.  But it has seemed, since my accident, that I can’t stop crying. I try to sing along to a song on the radio and my throat closes up.  I read a verse and the same thing happens to me.  I’ve started feeling as if God is scouring my heart…leaving me raw, exposed, vulnerable.  I can feel myself recoil at the very thought.

Somewhere in my early memories I remember being a child that cried easily.  I feel like I remember being someone who felt big emotions.  Maybe that’s just common in children.  I do know that over the years I have built many, many layers around my heart to protect it.  It’s part of our nature to want to protect ourselves…especially those parts of us that are most vulnerable, like our hearts.

On May 6th I fell off my horse.  I broke my collarbone, my thumb and did some pretty major damage to the ligaments and tendons around my right hip.  Those were all injuries I could feel.  They were injuries I knew about even as I was lying there trying to catch my breath.  But what I didn’t know was that falling off my horse that day would also put a huge crack in the wall I had built around my heart.  A wall that didn’t just protect me by keeping me safe inside…it was a wall that also kept things out.

I was in the car last week listening to my favorite radio station (Klove) when either Natalie Grant or Charlotte Gambill came on and she quoted Proverbs 4:23  “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  Now you might be thinking “EXACTLY! THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING!”  But that really isn’t what I was doing.  I was building a wall around my heart to protect my feelings.  To protect my “wellspring”.  But God didn’t give us feelings and emotions to protect, he gave them to us to share them with those around us. A wellspring is defined as an original and bountiful source of something.  So then you have to ask yourself, I have to ask myself…what do we want our hearts, our wellsprings to be a bountiful source of?

I remember a moment the year I met Dave.  Both of my grandmothers had passed away within months of each other.  I sat on the bottom stair in my house, overwhelmed with such a profound feeling of heartbreak and loss, sobbing as if my heart was breaking, because it was.  But it was at that very moment that I realized that it was only because of the profound love I had for those two incredible women that I was able to actually experience that sense of loss.  That was the moment I knew that I was going to put myself back out there, that I was going to take a chance and open myself up to loving again.  I knew that if I loved openly, and honestly, then any failure was not mine to own, maybe it just wasn’t mean to be.  Not two months later I met the love of my life, David.

It’s only when we let our walls down that great things can happen for us, only when we open ourselves to risk and hurt that we can really find something special.  I didn’t know I had put such a big wall around my heart, but God did and he knew that it was going to take something big to break through it.

So here I sit, and I’m not going to lie, I feel scared, feeling those emotions always there, not tucked down into a nice neat little package, or behind a wall, where I can control them.  But I trust God’s plan and I believe with all of my heart the words of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” 

God broke down the walls around my heart for a reason…I trust that in time he’ll show me why.  But even if he doesn’t, that’s okay, I’m still discovering all the blessings he’s hidden in my fall.

God bless,
Meredith

“A Soft Place to Fall”

I think it was Dr. Phil who coined that phrase in reference to the relationship between spouses.  His philosophy being that every person needs a soft place to fall andyhy, in a married couple, that should be your spouse.

Now, I am incredibly blessed to have that with David.  I can turn into a raving lunatic, I can break down in tears, I can drown myself in a sea of depression; it just doesn’t matter…he loves me in all ways, always.  If you have or have had that relationship with someone in your life them you know what I am talking about.  I have been blessed to live a life surrounded with love, from my parents to my spouse and children and my friends.  God has filled up my cup.

But maybe you don’t have that type of support in your life right now…

I think I’ve been fairly open about my struggles with my faith these past few weeks.  But as much as I have raged at God, as much as I have questioned His existence…in my heart I always know the truth.  In this struggle, in those moments when I feel like I can’t keep doing this, when I just want my life to go back to “normal”… in all those times…God is my soft place to fall, even when I don’t realize it.  God loves me in all ways…always.

We were recently on a trip with some friends and the boys and girls separated to do a little shopping.  No surprise that Dave found his way into an art gallery.  While the boys were perusing, our friend noticed some religious paintings that the artist had done on commission.  The artist’s comment about the pieces was that he really didn’t believe in God, but he has to pay the bills and he asked our friend (who just happens to be a priest) if that bothered him.  And our friend’s reply was ‘yes’ and I love this… our friend said… “If you knew that everyone you met had a treasure buried in their backyard, wouldn’t you want them to dig it up and find it?”  That’s what faith is like when you finally discover it…it’s a treasure, and you want everyone you know to go out and dig it up, and find it…there’s only one problem…they don’t believe you.

I have so many reasons to be grateful.  It makes me ashamed when I feel angry or frustrated…but I’m human.  God made us with emotions for a reason and he doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  In fact, when we fail, when we are angry, or tired, or scared…he wants us to turn to him…he wants to be our soft place to fall.

I’ll admit…I could be a lot better at that sometimes.  But life is a journey, and if I’m going to take this journey, then I’m pretty happy to have the maker of heaven and earth walking beside me, ready to catch me “softly” when I fall.

This song was speaking to me today…maybe God wants you to hear it too.

 

God bless,

Meredith

An Empty Well

It has been just over a month now since my accident.  I may be slower than the seniors at my grocery store, but I can walk without a limp if I concentrate and I have the cast off on the right hand, although the thumb is still pretty tender and weak.  But this week what I have been struck by is how quickly and easily our resources; physical, emotional and spiritual can be drained.

To say that I hit a wall on Wednesday would be an understatement.  I was scrapping the bottom on all levels.  I was physically exhausted, mentally exhausted and, as I was soon to learn, spiritually exhausted.  Sometimes it’s easy to hold on to our faith, sometimes it squirts away from us like a wet bar of soap.  The details of what sent me over the edge aren’t as important as the fall out…I got to a point when I couldn’t see the point, I cursed God, swore at him and decided that I was done with it all.  I was hurt and tired and frustrated and angry.  I told myself that I had just been deceiving myself this entire time about God and if there was a God then I certainly let him have it.  I wasn’t in a much better place the next morning and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I let some of that hurt and frustration and anger I was feeling spill over onto my loved ones.

I ended up in bed, in tears, feeling not just like a bad person…but like an evil one.  Within minutes I was crying out my contrition to those I had wounded, and of course, as I knew would be the case, their forgiveness was offered unconditionally.  They knew that, despite my harsh words, I loved them with my whole heart.  I had built up enough emotional currency to be able to make a withdrawal.

But for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to believe that God could forgive me.  I had sworn at him.  I had vented my unfiltered spleen at him.  That afternoon I sat there confessing my fear and my shame to David.  I was a terrible person and I didn’t deserve God’s love.  And yet, even as I was acknowledging how I was feeling, I felt a truth creep into my heart.  There was nothing my children could say that would make me turn away from them…even if they should curse or swear at me.  I was a child of God and, like the perfect Father he is, he would happily forgive me when I was ready.  He already had.

I wasn’t ready yesterday, I haven’t asked for forgiveness yet today, although I can feel it pressing down on me anyway.  But God continues to send me messages of peace and reassurance.  Every morning my phone gives me a verse from the Bible.  My verse today:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

And my reading while I was waiting for my physiotherapy appointment…”Experience shows, however, that capacities for spontaneously reacting to people and circumstances in a way that is unloving, unethical and sometimes violent remain with the holiest men all their days; indeed much of their holiness consists in resisting and mortifying such reactions, which may be evoked at any time and may take a form of which the person did not know himself (or herself) capable till it actually happened.  What the Puritans bluntly called corruptions…keep being triggered off in us by new stimuli, and humbling, shaming self-discoveries keep being made…no Christian, however wholehearted at this moment, or at any future moment, in conscious love of God and neighbor, will ever be immune to shocks of this kind, in which new depths of his or her sinful nature are disclosed.”  Keep in Step with the Spirit, by J.I.Packer

God wants me to know that I’m not alone.  That what I experienced; that overwhelming wave of negative emotions, those feelings that swept over me and carried me along in their tide, is a ride that even the most holiest of men and spiritual scholars have taken…and it’s okay.  God was there with his overwhelming and never-ending love to pick them up and dry them off and he will do the same for me.

If you have been following my blog then you know that I have had moments when I am so filled with the love of God that I can’t help but sing…but I want you to know, that as strong as my faith was, and still is…we can all fall down, we can all be ashamed of ourselves and we can all want to turn away from God.  But our Father loves us so much, he refuses to let go.  He knows our heart…who we really are, warts and all and he loves us unconditionally.  There is nothing we can do or say to make him stop loving us…and believe me, I tried.  He will forgive us long before we find we are able to forgive ourselves.  Even before we have the courage to ask him to forgive us.

When I look at my healing journey, I realize that I have started focusing more on the things I can’t do and less on the gains I am making each and every day.  It is in trying to do too much, in pushing myself to do things that I am not physically ready for, that I am draining myself physically.  It is in focusing, not on the blessings, but on the things that I don’t have that I am draining myself spiritually.  Only when I am focused on God will all of my wells be truly filled.  And of course, I have some forgiveness to ask for.

God bless,

Meredith

Just Leave Me Alone.

Have you every notice when someone else is struggling, or going through a difficult time, how easy it is to know that they need to lean on God, or to turn to God, or to trust in God? Have you also noticed that when YOU are going through a difficult or challenging time how difficult those very same things can be…even when your heart knows you should?

At times, during my recovery, it has been incredibly difficult for me to be patient and trust that this is part of God’s plan.  There have been times I have felt his hand on my heart, and instead of turning into that love I have begged for him to just leave me alone, that I can’t do this, that I’m not strong enough.  It’s been hard.

Of course God didn’t leave me alone, just as I wouldn’t walk away from one of my own children if they were suffering and in pain.  He just wraps me up in his love and waits for me.  Jesus used the image of a shepherd and his sheep often in his ministry.  And he reassured us that “no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of  my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  John 10:28-29  As a child of God, as one of Jesus’ sheep, I am always in his care, and no one, not even I have the power to make him go away.  He will always be there, watching over me, and caring for me, and protecting me.

It’s not always given to us to know why bad things happen.  What is given to us is to know that we can trust in our Father to make all things for our good.  Just as when your toddler is learning how to walk, you can’t always keep them from falling, so too will our Father in heaven be there to pick us up, dust us off and kiss away our pain.

And in case you were worried…I’m good.  That day, after telling God to leave me alone, I came home to a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen counter.  They were bright, and lovely, and from my parents.  When I called to say thank you, my mom said that she just had a feeling I might need a pick me up.  GOD IS SO GOOD AND I AM SO BLESSED!  Thank you mom and dad! Thank you, Jesus!

God bless,

Meredith