Who is it for?

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Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day; the sun was shining, there was warmth in the air and the kids were ripping around the fields on the gator. Seeing our kids embracing the outdoors, getting a thrill from something other than a video game was a major factor in our decision to move out of the suburbs. Through out the process of our move I have truly felt God’s hand over us. But, even before we started building I worried if we were making the right decision, if this was simply something I wanted, or if the need to move I was feeling came from God. I did a lot of praying about it and ultimately, there was such a strong feeling in my heart that this was going to be a blessing for us, that we kept moving forward.

Moving to the country has not been without its share of challenges. We are currently living in the middle of a dirt island. When the ground is dry, which thankfully it has been for the past few weeks, the dogs track in a constant steam of dirt and dust. When the ground is wet…let’s just say that washing the floors has become a way of life. The beauty of that is that I’m not alone. One of the many blessings of this new house is that our teenager is now much more a part of the life of the family. In our old home his room was above the garage and he was very isolated. Now he’s a few steps from the living room. I love that I can just pop my head in and chat without having to walk a mile. I also love that it’s made him more connected. He’s surprised me a few time by taking the onus to wash or vacuum the floors.

The new house has been a huge blessing for our youngest too, especially now that we have the gator. He’s excited for his chickens and there is so much out here for him to explore and do. Whether it’s in the mornings when I watch the sun rise, or the evenings when I watch it set; walking in the fields with the dogs, or sitting on the back porch with my family enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon; through it all I am reminded of how great God is and how very, very grateful I am for his blessings. It’s hard sometimes to know if the desires of your heart are from this world or from God. But my experience has been that if you keep praying about it, God will show you what he wants for you in your life – and he isn’t always subtle.

Have a wonderful day and God bless you.

Meredith

The Strength of Men.

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A week ago today we began the final, and most grueling day of what would turn out to be a three-day process to move from our beautiful house in the suburbs to our dream house in the country. I have NEVER experienced anything on the scale of what we attempted to do. We had a four bedroom, two story home with a fully finished, and fully furnished basement. I hired movers for two days and we used up every inch of their truck and every second of their time, but by the end of day two we still had our backyard shed, garage and Dave’s weights and office. I rented a 15′ truck from U-haul. We loaded and unloaded that truck, and our pickup, and our friends minivan three times that day.

Driving back to our old house for the second time that day, I could just feel how physically and mentally exhausted I was. I certainly would have cried if I could have found the energy; instead I reached out in prayer. “Dear Lord, I don’t think I have the strength for this. Please Lord, I really need your strength. I need you to give me your strength to get through this.” In complete and total faith, I asked God for His strength because I knew that what I had left in the tank was not going to be enough. I expected to feel less tired, that somehow He would get me through this. I didn’t expect the answer I received.

Fast forward a hour later and Dave’s best friend showed up with some tools we needed to disconnect our BBQ. He immediately saw our need and jumped in, helping us, and his two teenage boys (whom we had hired for the day) load up the trucks. Three hours later we were back at the house for the final load. By this time is was 4:00 and we had been going steady for eight hours. You can’t imagine my surprise when my friend (the best-friend’s wife) and my sister and my dad arrived. I didn’t think I had the energy to cry, but at that moment, the certainty that God had heard my prayer and answered with the people with our lives. He gave us his people; people to give us the strength to push through and finish the move, exactly when we needed them.

Never for a single moment have I doubted that this house, this path is the one God wants me to walk. As exhausting as our move was, it was filled with so many amazing blessings. When you are on the right path the confirmation from God is like a neon sign. For me, God isn’t a deity I visit in church on Sundays, or pray to when I go to bed. I carry God with me every day, in everything I do; I simply can’t live my life without Him, and I see His love and caring for me every single day including when I needed strength and He provided.

I have been feeling a song in my heart often this week and I really feel as if it was the anthem for our move. Even the smallest battle belongs to God. Give him your fears, your weaknesses and yes, even your fatigue, and He will give you exactly what you need.

God bless,

Meredith

Why are diets so hard?!

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I am finally starting to get back into a routine of reading my Bible every morning. Has it ever happened to you. You think to yourself, I’m good with God, I can take a day off, and so you skip a day, the next week maybe you skip two and before you know it, sitting down and spending time with God on a daily basis isn’t part of your routine, but something that you might not even remember to do. I don’t know why things that are good for us are so easy to let slide, but things that hurt us are the easiest things in the world to keep doing. Ask anyone who’s ever lost a significant amount of weight through diet and exercise. Eating healthy and working out feel so good when you are doing them, but take a week off and it can feel like climbing a mountain to get going again.

I know a lot of people who believe in God, who love God don’t necessarily sit down with their Bible everyday, my parents are prime examples. They go to church, they love God, they live good lives. But as someone who has read through the good book a few times now, if you aren’t reading the Bible you are missing the chance to be reminded by God how much He love you. Here are the passages that were part of my readings over the past few days.

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Let us then approach the throne of grace with conidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.” Psalm 86:5

Now maybe these verses aren’t speaking to you, or maybe they are, the point is that they spoke directly to what I was feeling this morning. You will be astonished to see how often a verse you read in your daily devotions resonates with what you are going through in your life. That’s the power of God’s word! But let’s be honest here, the Bible is a big freaking book. How do you even know where to start? There are so many amazing resources out there on Pinterest and the internet, but to help you get started, here are links to the ones I’ve been using lately. (No I don’t get money for this).

Just like a starting a habit of healthy living to get ride of those extra pounds, starting a habit of daily time with God can help you get rid of all of the extra “stuff” your heart and soul are carrying around.

Surrender yourself to the experience of being spoken to by your heavenly Father through his word. I promise you won’t regret it.

God bless,

Meredith

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Put Another Log on the Fire.

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“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

I needed this exact Bible verse today. There is so much going on in the world, so much “noise” and, while I do my very best to tune it out, sometimes it pushes its way into my life. Fear, uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, it can be so hard to let go of the world, and worrying about the future, especially that of my children.

Even though I know in my heart that God is with me, at all times and in all ways, it helps to be reminded of that. Reading the Bible for me is like putting another log on the fire of my faith. It keeps it burning, it reminds me of God’s promises. That He is with me. There has never been a time when I have turned to him seeking his peace in a time of anxiety that he has not provided. God has filled my life with blessings and constant reminders of his presence, but even still I need to be reassured. I need verses like the one above.

It’s so easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in the noise of the world. In those moments, there is nothing we need more than to know that God is singing over us. That we can turn to him and find peace. If you are struggling today, I hope and pray that this verse for you is a log on the fire of your faith.

God bless,

Meredith

Who’s Got Your Back?

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Last week I was experiencing a significant amount of anxiety. I could blame it on the stress of packing and getting ready to move, or the state of the world, or the rising number of Covid infections in our neck of the woods, but none of those things would be true. The simple fact of the matter is that I was afraid. God has been incredibly good to my family and He has poured blessings upon us and between you and me…I just didn’t feel worthy. I was in a place where I just kept waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. I was convincing myself that all the good things we have received were really just a prelude to a disaster. I worked myself into a state of terror that we could lose everything. Have you ever been there?

It was on Friday afternoon, driving alone in my car that I realized my fear, my terror was actually a lack of faith manifesting itself. I give God so much credit and glory for the amazing gifts he has given my family, and the farm is a huge one for me. But problems arise when we place those gifts above the one who gave them to us. Getting out of sync with your faith and trust in God is what allows doubt and fear to invade your heart. Yes, the farm is a blessing, but appreciating it needs to be a balance and not an obsession. In the words of the Anglican prayer “All thing come from thee and of thine own have we given thee.

All week I kept reaching out to God, asking him for peace, but it wasn’t until Friday that I realized I hadn’t given him my problems. I’d asked him for help but I clutched my fear to my breast and held on tightly. I will never understand why God has chosen to bless me, I will never feel as if I deserve it, because I will never feel as if I’m good enough, but I think that’s the essence of the faith journey. We live in a world where we are constantly required to prove our worth, that we are good enough. It’s a world that functions in complete opposition to a God for whom you never need to prove your worth, who loves you unconditionally, ALL THE TIME! Not when you donate to charity, not just because you go to church, not because you read your Bible today, but just because you are YOU. We are all God’s children and He wants to get to know each one of us intimately, just as He wants us to get to know Him.

I’m not going to pretend that my fear and stress are gone forever, although they certainly were in that moment of ephiphany. Much like a compass, I need to make sure I am always pointing myself in the right direction, toward God. I am a less than perfect parent, but I will always love my children unconditionally and I will always try to do what is best for them. God is the perfect Father. I just have to keep reminding myself to trust Him, just as I want my children to trust me…I’ve always got their back.

There are times in our lives when we can’t see the beautiful painting that God is making of our lives, times when we experience great loss and pain and suffering that we don’t deserve. Life as a child of God, the blessings and the pain, are never about deserving, they are about bringing us closer to Him. Accepting His love. That’s my goal for this week, that and trusting in His plan for my life. No matter what happens, I can get through it when God has my back.

God bless and have a safe and healthy week.

Meredith

Who’s to Judge?

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I don’t think that I am alone when I say that I can often times be my biggest critic. As a writer it can be hard to learn to let go of a piece of writing and say that it is “good” enough. I’m even more critical of my lack of patience, quick temper, lack of will power. And don’t you find that in those times when we feel the most out of control in our own lives, those are the times we tend to be the most critical of others? As the Covid-19 pandemic follows us into the new year, we judge people for their use or non use of masks, social distancing, willingness to get the vaccine. Sometimes it feels as if our days are filled with nothing but continuous opportunities to pass judgement – on others and ourselves.

Yesterday was not a fabulous day for me. I’m definitely feeling the pressure of packing up our house over the next month for a move and worrying if the new house will be ready. Sometimes I just feel so frustrated by the limitations we are all living under; about not be able to just live my life and get stuff done. I hate it when I feel that way. I hate the way it makes me aware of the darkness in my soul when I give in to my anger and frustration. Remember that whole judgement thing I was talking about…

One of my goals for this year is to get back to reading my Bible daily. I sat down this morning and looked at it – five different sticky notes projecting from the top – unable to decide where to begin. My favorite gospel is that of John. It feels as if it was written by someone who knew Jesus intimately – who loved him and just wanted to share the “good news”. Here’s what I read almost immediately: “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. John 8:50

But as soon as I read this I though, WAIT! this is a contradiction to something I remembered reading last week. So I went back through my notes and found this: “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son” John 5:22

Jesus said both of these things and it got me to thinking…he’s telling us in John 8 that God is the judge, but he has also told us that God judges no one. Think about that, a judge who has far more right to pass judgement upon us than anyone on this earth, including ourselves… who judges no one.

So many times in the past religion has been used as a weapon to control people, to make them feel shamed into believing. But Jesus is telling us here that God our Father judges no one. I’m not saying that I believe that means you can go ahead and do bad things without recourse. Jesus goes on to say in John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” But the solution to judgement is so simple – it’s just belief. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned;John 5:24

We need to be kinder to ourselves. God doesn’t need us to be perfect or without flaws or sin, he took care of that when he sent his only son to die for us. He doesn’t want to judge us – he only wants to love us. All we need to do is accept the gift of his love.

I need to be kinder to myself. I’m human, I’m going to have good days and bad days. There are days I’m going to scream at my kids and fight with my husband. There are days when I’m going to be rude to a stranger, not because of anything they have done, but because of where I’m at. I am as far from a perfect person as it is possible to be…thank you God that you don’t need me to be perfect to love me.

I hope and pray that each of us have a day where we are kind to ourselves. That we have a day where we allow God’s love to fill our hearts with peace and joy and wash away the judgement and self-doubt that darkens our souls.

God bless,

Meredith

The House that God built.

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Has there ever been a time in your life when you have needed to make a major life decision? For us it came a about a year and a half ago; first when we decided to purchase a piece of property in the country, and then when we signed a contract with a builder.

I can’t tell you how much I agonized over the decision to build a new house. I couldn’t get rid of the yearning in my heart to move on, but I was so afraid that I was being selfish, and that I was focusing on needs of this world and not of God. I spent a lot of time in prayer, asking God either to take this yearning from my heart, or to help me to know that this was something he wanted for us and it was not just my selfish soul speaking.

Here’s what I have learned from this experience; God is faithful and, like any loving Father, he wants to help us if we’ll let him. I call our house the house that God built because things have worked out so perfectly along the way that I can’t see it as anything else. Our current house sold in just four days! Even our builder has commented on how seamlessly things have rolled along.

I am constantly thanking God for this tremendous blessing that I know I absolutely do not deserve. As we lay out and plot out each additional piece of what will be our new home, each piece fits into place perfectly, like a jig saw puzzle. All I can see is God’s hand, guiding us and our decisions to create a perfect home for us.

I’m not a perfect person. I yell at my kids, I don’t always read my Bible everyday, sometimes I curse and swear…I don’t deserve the blessings God has given me. But I guess that’s the point. This house has been as much of a spiritual journey for me as a physical one. God has used it to show me how much he doesn’t need me to “do” anything for him. All he needs is my faith. All he wants is for me to trust him, to put my life’s journey into his hands and walk with him always. It is such a special, special thing to come to know God in this way, to see him, not as a judge who will condemn, as many would have you believe, but as a loving Father who only wants what’s best for you.

God has tremendous power to transform hearts. Knowing God doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel depressed, overwhelmed, lazy, selfish…but God knows me intimately. He knows the darkest, most awful parts of my soul and he loves me anyway. I truly wish there was a way for me to share the overwhelming peace and joy and love that comes from truly knowing God and having him in your life with everyone I meet. I pray that those I love will someday come to experience a life walked with God. I simply couldn’t do it without him.

So, while it truly wasn’t my intention at the beginning of this blog to draw the parallel, but rather to speak to the blessings we’ve been given, I can see as I write this that the house that God built isn’t just the physical one we will be moving into in February, in many ways it’s me. I’m pretty sure his construction work on my soul is going to take more than a eight months though, I can almost guarantee it’s going to take a life time.

God bless you and keep you, into 2021 and beyond.

Meredith

HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!

I can’t recall a weekend in recent memory when I have shed more tears or felt more overwhelmed.  This Easter weekend I have watched parking lots fill with people who can’t afford to feed their families.  I have watched western nations burying bodies in mass graves.  In these times of sadness, and untold sorrows, I feel keenly how much miss my church…my church family.

Perhaps your heart, like mine so desperately needs the joy this Easter morning brings with it, the celebration of our risen Lord, the celebration of his victory over death, at a time when it feels as if we are surrounded by it.

To steal a phrase from our beloved Archdeacon Matthewman at Church of the Ascension, “the shadow of Christ is over all of us today, even those who don’t know it yet”.  I pray that, much like his disciples did that Easter Sunday morning 2,000 years ago, we are all able to fully experience the wonder, and the joy and the miracle of His resurrection.  Christ is risen, Alleluia!!

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

BECOMING SIN

I’ve spent the last couple of days reading the gospels leading up to Maundy Thursday, reading about that final night Jesus spent with his disciples.  It’s painful to read about the struggle the Son of God went through on that final night.  We all have free will, it is up to us to choose how we behave in any given situation (even if sometimes, like children, we blame our behavior another person).  But sometimes we forget that Jesus had a choice to make too.  On that final night, in the garden of Gethsemane he prayed and pleaded with his Heavenly Father “that if possible the hour might pass from him, ‘Abba, Father’, he said, ‘everything is possible for your.  Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’  Mark 14:36

Jesus was the incarnation of God, the embodiment of our Heavenly Father in human form, and he had very real, very human feelings.  I can imagine on that night the pain he was feeling in his heart knowing that he was going to have to leave his beloved friends.  The fear and trepidation he must have felt knowing the cruelty, and suffering that was to come both on the cross, and before.  But I think sometimes we forget the biggest burden that he would carry for us.  “He became sin, who knew no sin.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.  And even still, despite all the prophecies, despite everything leading up to this moment, He had to choose.

There have been many times that I have tried to get my head around what was so special about the death of Jesus that we continue to honor and worship him thousands of years later.  He certainly wasn’t the first person or last person to die cruelly for his or her beliefs.  So then why?  Why did an entire religion rise up around this man?  Why was his death special?  I’ve only recently come to understand that a large part of it isn’t just the resurrection story.  There’s something more here…Because he BECAME sin.  Jesus was the Son of God, part of the Trinity.  He was part of the brightest, more pure, most loving force in the universe and he gave all of that up for us, and went down into the heart of darkness.  The weight of my own guilt can be crushing sometimes. But Jesus, all at once, He became every dark deed everyone of us has done, or will ever do.  He became murder, corruption, filth, greed, lust, lies…He allowed everything that was pure and beautiful about himself to be stripped away for our sake.  He allowed himself to be separated from his Heavenly Father and given over to evil for our sake.  I wonder if when Jesus was praying in the garden if it wasn’t the cross he was asking to be saved from, but the suffering, the agony of not feeling, of being in the presence, the peace, the love of God?

So as we walk these final few days toward the joy of Easter morning, I want to keep my mind on the gift that was given to each and every one of us upon that cross.  Freedom.  No more is our path to God blocked, but the blood of the lamb has paved the way for each and every one of us to experience the peace, the love, the presence of the One, True and Ever Living God.  Praise be to God.

In Jesus’ name,

Meredith

BECAUSE OF YOUR GREAT MERCY.

The last few months I have been at times enjoying, and at other times slogging, my way through the prophets of the Old Testament.  Today’s reading hit home with something I have been thinking about, and hearing a lot about over the last few weeks; Prayer.  Some people pray out loud, and they are really good at it.  I’m more of a pray in my head and heart kinda girl. I find I’m more able to really express what I’m feeling and thinking that way.  My prayers are often as varied as my moods.  They range from petitions about my family, or work to pleas for help, and relief from feelings of unworthiness, or sadness.

Some people, maybe you are one of them, might question the point of prayer.  I would say that, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a prayer that I have prayed that God hasn’t answered.  Sometimes those answers come almost immediately, sometimes they take weeks, months and even, in some cases, years.  I’ve had people challenge me about this.  How do I know that God is answering my prayer, and it’s not just a coincidence?  When you pray a prayer, and months later you get an email that almost word for word responds to that prayer…I’d have to say that comes from God.

But, having an active prayer life doesn’t mean that you always get what you want.  Early on in my prayer life I went to God with demands, and ultimatums;  “If you want me to believe in you”…kinds of things.  But as my relationship with my heavenly Father has grown, as I see His hand in my life more clearly, and on a daily basis; I am more easily able to give up my need for control.  To trust that God has a plan for me, and to pray that he puts desires in my heart that are in line with his purpose for my life.

We have all been given a precious gift in the midst of the covid-19 crisis…time.  This is not just time we can use to reconnect with our families, but also time we can use to reconnect with our God, to spend time in his presence, to make Him a part of our daily lives.

And this brings me to the verse in the ninth chapter of Daniel that resonated with me this morning.

“We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

I will never be “good enough” to deserve to have God answer my prayer.  My answered prayers are because God is merciful, and He loves me… and He calls me His child.

This week is holy week; the week during which the Son of God, Jesus walked toward his ultimate purpose, death on a cross for all of us.  Prayer was an intricate part of Jesus’ life and if you have read, or read the gospels you will see that he often went off on his own to pray.  If prayer is something new to you and you are unsure of how to start then I offer you the prayer that Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him how to pray.

OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME.

THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.

AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US.

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY

FOREVER AND EVER.

AMEN.

Everything you ever need to say to God is found in this prayer.

God bless,

Meredith