Making Your Own Luck.

Last night David and I were having a discussion about luck.  I was telling him how grateful I felt that a friend’s life was saved from what could have been a devastating and potentially fatal condition, and his response was that she was lucky.

Yesterday I wrote about giving up control of your life to Jesus, and I think that this idea of getting lucky is, in many ways, part of that.  Personally, I no longer believe in luck.  If I get a green light, that is a blessing from God; an amazing parking spot? Thank you, Jesus.  Why is it so much easier for us to believe that good things happen by random chance than it is to believe that something good happened because we have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants what’s best for us?

I think that part of the reason is something many struggle with, because good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.  And it’s hard to understand how a loving Father could give a good mother cancer, or see a father killed in a car accident.  And bad things don’t just happen to good people, they happen to Christians and non-believers alike, they happen to innocent children.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers here and this was something that David and I discussed, and I’m sure we’ll have more discussions about.  But here’s what I know from my own life experience.  When my oldest son was born I was filled with so many hopes and joys and expectations for who and what he would become.  Never once could I have imagined the road God put me on with him.  We have been through multiple diagnoses, traumatic brain injuries, self-abuse, staff abuse, and so many tears.  For many, many years I couldn’t understand why God gave me a son with so many challenges. At times I thought it was a punishment, at others I simply turned my back on God.  What I couldn’t see, while I was down in the trenches, when I was walking through the valley, was God’s bigger plan.  I didn’t see how Hayden’s brain injury would result in his eventual transition to a community home where he would be given incredible support.  I didn’t see how this would result in our family actually becoming a family again, instead of a single parent household while the other parent managed and cared exclusively for Hayden.  I didn’t see how this would give me the chance to simply be Hayden’s mother again instead of constantly focusing on therapies and treatments and then being too exhausted for anything more.  God has a plan for each and every one of us and I believe that the more we thank Him for our blessings, the more we reach out and try to have a relationship with Him…the more we find ourselves able to trust in Him and his plan for us.

I have no idea the ripple effect my son Hayden has in the lives of those he meets, and interacts with on a daily basis at school, in the community, in his own home.  There are still many days when all I can do is give him to God, trust in God and his plan for Hayden, for our family, for me.   I do know that I no longer believe anything in my life is a result of chance.  If I choose to believe in a God who was capable of creating the heavens and the earth, who can bring the dead to life, how can I not believe in a creator who is capable of watching over me in my daily life.

And I guess that brings us back to where we started. In the end it always comes down to the same thing; the reason there is good and bad in this world…choice or free-will.  You can choose to believe that the good things that happen to you are good luck, and the bad things similarly, or you can choose to believe that the good things that happen to you are blessings from a loving Father and the bad things?  Challenges, opportunities for growth, doors opening to new chapters you couldn’t imagine were possible.  Sometimes to climb a mountain you have to walk through a valley.  Maybe the meaning of life is as simple as choice, and if it is, I know God wants you to choose Him.

God bless,

Meredith

Drop Everything!

The calling of the disciples.  Have you ever given much thought to exactly what those twelve men were called to do?  I mean sure they got to walk beside Jesus and perform miracles, but they were also called to walk away from everything, EVERYTHING in their lives…we are foolish if we don’t count the cost of what they were asked to give up;  wives and children, homes and security.  Could you imagine yourself doing the same?  Honestly I don’t know if I could.

Of course I could walk away from my house, and most of my possessions, but what about that ring my beloved grandmother gave me?  And don’t even get me started on my kids.  I mean I know I’ll eventually have to give them up, but on my terms, when they are old enough to leave the house and go to college.  Except that’s not really true is it?  I could lose everything tomorrow, today even.  We live our lives with such an illusion of control.  We put our kids in travel sports, Kumon, music, etc. all because we are determined to make them into their best selves… except anyone who’s ever had more than one child knows that you really don’t have much control over how athletic they are, how smart they are, how friendly, kind, caring they are.  Our children are born with their own personalities and while we can sand off some of the sharp edges, and we can love them unconditionally and teach them values and principles, they will ultimately be who and what they are going to be.  No parent of a murderer thinks that they are going to raise a killer.

So when Jesus called on his disciples to give up everything, he wasn’t really asking them to give up anything that was really theirs to begin with.  There are a lot of people, my husband included, who believe that we are successful in life because we work hard.  I don’t discount that.  I absolutely believe that hard work matters. But, I also think it’s important to remember how much of your success was simply because of who you were born to be, because you were born with an aptitude for something, or a gift?  I was born with a love of books and an aptitude for writing.  That was a gift.  How I choose to develop it, or what I choose to do with it is entirely up to me, but in the end, it will always be a gift from God, not something of my own creation.

So the question we have to ask ourselves instead, is what are we willing to give up when Jesus calls us to be disciples?  Websters defines a disciple as one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as a Christianity.   In Luke 9:22-27 Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”  I think that what he is calling on us to do here is give up the illusion of control and trust in him.

How many times have you found in your own life that the more you try to control a situation, the less control you actually have… the more you “lose” control?  When Jesus calls us to give up our families, to deny ourselves and to lose our lives to save them, he is calling on us to surrender our illusions, to trust in him completely. And it is in giving up our illusions that we find the peace and comfort and joy.  Today’s world is determined to convince you that you are in control, with your smart phone you can turn on your car, your lights, your furnace, all from across town.  But do those things really matter, or are they illusions to distract you from the fact that you aren’t really in control of anything important?  You can’t control if you are going to get cancer, or if you will be in a car accident, or even if your children will make it home safely from school today.  I guess if those things aren’t really under my control, then I find it a lot more comfortable knowing that they are under the control of the One who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow;  The Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.

What is Jesus calling you to do today?  To follow him?  To become a disciple? To give up your illusions?  I have personally found great comfort and peace giving up my life and family to Jesus.  I know he can and will do the same for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith

The Great I AM.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

So I’m trying something new today.  Memorizing bible verses is something I probably don’t do enough.  Or, let me instead admit that I’m always envious of those who have a library of verses at their fingertips for every situation.  So today I wrote this verse on the mirror in my main floor powder room.  I’ll admit to hoping this has a two-fold effect.  First, I’ll see it multiple times everyday and so I will naturally memorize it.  Second, other people in my household will also see it everyday and true maybe they won’t memorize it, but they will see it, and that’s important too.  (And let me tell you, taking a photo of a mirror without including yourself is not easy!)

My Lenten reading this week has been about Abraham and his faith, and how that faith resulted in God’s promise, a promise that we are all benefiting from.  It’s an incredible story when you really think about it.  The unwaivering faith of a single man changed the world, and our relationship with our creator forever.  Through Abraham God was able to demonstrate his power, and because of Abraham’s faith God made him a promise.  In Hebrews, Paul reminds us of that promise of hope, and it’s culmination in the life and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Today it really hit me WHAT we were promised; An eternity bathed in the warmth and glory of God, an eternity of unconditional love, free of anger, greed, jealousy and pain.  We were promised an eternity full of love and joy and happiness.  WOW!  I am so incredibly grateful that God has chosen to share this message of hope with me…with those I love…with you. It’s so easy to lose sight of God’s promises when we allow ourselves to become distracted by our always clamoring world.  But if we keep our hearts and minds on God and trust that he will NEVER forsake us, it makes even the dark times easier to bear.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.” 

Let’s keep seeking God even when it feels like everything around us is telling us our search is futile.  Let’s keep seeking God even when the world dangles fame and wealth and illusions of happiness in our faces. And let’s especially keep seeking God when we are bereft of hope and all seems lost.  Our God is Great and He has made us a promise that He will never go back on, we just have to trust.

There is a verse in this song that I can’t sing because my voice breaks every single time. “There is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and presence of the great I AM.”

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

 

Seriously?!!!!

Have you ever wondered if God is really listening to your prayers?  I do sometimes.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Holy Spirit and His role and importance in our lives and our growth and development as children of God.  And honestly as I’ve been reading I’ve been feeling not even a little like a failure.  To the point where last night I was lying in bed and my prayer was specifically about this, about what I can do to listen to, and feel more fully the Spirit in my life.

Normally I start each morning reading my bible, then I’ll read my daily page from Jesus Calling and then I’ll write my blog post.  This morning I ended up doing everything in reverse.  I wrote my post about trusting in God, then since my computer was already open to my ebooks, I decided to read my daily devotional next and then jump into my bible.  These are literally the first words I read.  You can’t make this stuff up.  “Thank Me for the glorious gift of My Spirit.”

So yes, God absolutely hears our prayers, he knows the questions of our hearts and he will absolutely answer us when we come to him with our earnest petitions.  It’s in subtle ways and, in today’s case, blatantly obvious ones that our God reminds us that we are important to Him and how much He loves us.

How is God speaking to you today?

God bless,

Meredith

Sometimes It’s Hard.

Trust in God.  I know it’s important and I do.  But where is the line between being active in your own life and trusting in God’s plan?  How do I know that I’ve done enough in today’s media driven society where everyone is competing for the consumer dollar to promote my work?

What brings on this line of questioning you ask?  I generally don’t look at monthly comic book sales figures.  I know how much my comic Rose from Image is selling and I don’t find it helpful or productive to compare myself to what everyone else is doing.  That being said, I was curious to see how well my latest project The Light Princess (an adaptation of the George MacDonald classic, published by Cave Pictures Publishing) was doing.  To say that I was crushed when I saw the numbers is not an over exaggeration.  I feel like this comic is so special and inspiring and beautiful and to see such a low number of issue one sold was heartbreaking.  And this is where I started asking the question, did I do enough?

From the very beginning I have felt that my work with Cave Pictures Publishing was divinely driven.  The email that they sent to approach me and introduce me to the company was almost word for word exactly like a prayer I had been praying over and about my work.  And as I write these words I am remembering exactly what I prayed, “that my work be used to bring glory to God and not to myself”.  Pause for a moment of self-reflection here because I think as I write this I have found my answer….

If God guided me toward this project, if God provided the perfect artist for this project, and if all of this came at the perfect time, in the perfect way, then I need to stop worrying and trust that he has a plan for The Light Princess that is beyond me and my understanding.  Furthermore, I am reminded of these words written about George MacDonald. “MacDonald was singularly unconcerned with his own ‘image’ among his fellow men, preoccupied rather with championing his vision of the reality of the world of the spirit. ‘Perhaps the highest moral height which a man can reach,’ he wrote, ‘…is the willingness to be nothing relatively, so that he attain that positive excellence which the original conditions of his being render not merely possible, but imperative. It is nothing to a man to be greater or less than another – to be esteemed or otherwise by the public or private world in which he moves.’  He (MacDonald) determined to leave his reputation and destiny in the hands of his God.”

How can I do anything less?  Thank you Father for reminding me to trust in you and your plan for my life today.

God bless,

Meredith

A Vow of Silence.

I have always been a bit of a chatterbox.  When I was a child I know I wore my parents out with my constant questions.  And I think it is fair to say that I loved the sound of my own voice.  As an adult that tendency toward speaking often has definitely been moderated, but I will always been someone who loves to chat with people. I’m fairly certain it’s hardwired into my DNA.  Even my times of communion with God, my prayers are more about me speaking.  I couldn’t even begin to understand how monks and people could take a vow of silence.  (Not that such a vow is common these days)

But my readings today got me thinking about the power of words and the importance of being still and listening.  And I thought that it is probably those monks who are most like me, who take those vows.  So that God can not only speak to them in the silence, but show them just how important words are.

We spend our words freely these days.  We value the quick wit, the witty come back, the burn.  But what if everyone in the world took a moment and paused before they spoke.  One of my friends has an expression which I have stolen and use often with my own children, “words are like toothpaste, once you squeeze them out of the tube, you can’t put them back”.  Good advice and definitely worth remembering.  What if we all decided that we would use our words to build people up instead of tearing them down. What if instead of responding in the heat of anger, we responded in the warm of love?

I have certainly been guilty of the above at various times in my life.  As a general rule, I try to make disagreements about communicating my feelings and listening to the other persons, but that doesn’t always happen, and I can easily call to mind one right now.

Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling  “Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you.  Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living.  I want to inhabit all your moments — gracing your thoughts, words and behaviors.”  I want that too.  That is the point of this journey I’m on, to become closer to God, to trust in Him, and to live the life He calls me to live.  To trust in Him, and not on my own understanding.  But when we speak without thought, we aren’t really communicating with those around us, we are simply reacting.  And we definitely aren’t trusting in God in those moments.

Certainly in our lives there are people to whom we are more inclined to stop and listen; people we respect or love, maybe it’s your boss, your parent, your best friend.  But there are also those people who we are quick to speak over; maybe its our siblings, children, strangers.  I know that if I am going to hold myself to a higher standard, if I am truly listening to the Spirit of God inside me, then I need to give everyone the same respect; the same freedom to express themselves, and to be heard.  Maybe we should all take a vow of silence today.  To see and not be seen, to listen and not speak, to stop and be still.  We might be surprised at the new ways God is able to be active within us.

God bless,

Meredith

Mortifying Sin? What the heck does that mean?

This weekend I started reading Sin and Temptation by John Owen.  The book open with the subject of mortifying your sins.  If you don’t know what it means to mortify something don’t feel bad, I had to look it up too.  It means to put something to death.  So this book on Sin and Temptation was opening with the idea of putting your indwelling sins to death.

God is taking me on a journey through his scholars, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and now John Owen.  In each of these men I have felt in my heart the truth and honesty of their reflections on God.  Owen writes that “Sin aim always at the utmost; every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind.  Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.”   WOW!

How many times have we justified a tiny sin in our own lives only to find that it grows, slower ever larger,  like a cancer in our hearts?  To continue with Owen, “it is modest, as it were, in its first motions and proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it constantly makes good its ground, and presses on to some farther degrees in the same kind.  This new acting and pressing forward makes the soul take little notice of what an entrance to a falling off from God is already made….”

Robert Deffinbaugh wrote that Satan approached Eve in the garden of Eden as a friend.  He spoke to her in such a way as to convince her that he was someone who cared about her and wanted what was best for her.  How often has sin come into our own lives in that way, convincing us that this is what is best for us, and we listen to that voice, instead of trusting that only God, in his infinite wisdom and love, has our best interests in mind.

I love, and at the same time, am terrified of the idea of asking God to shine his light into the deepest and darkest parts of my soul.  But at the same time, I feel as if that is what God is calling me to do, as I walk this faith journey with him.  John Owen calls upon the believer to mortify their sins daily.  When I think about what he is calling us to do, it goes beyond confession.  Confessing your sins and knowing that you are forgiven seems like the first step, and that’s where I was for a long time.  But I think what John Owen is writing about, is that there is almost an acceptance of our sinful nature when all we are willing to do is confess.  Growth in our spiritual life is about rooting out the sin, “pruning the branches that don’t bare fruit” so to speak.  And the more I think about it, the more I have to acknowledge that this is a daily task.  Opportunities for sin to gain ground happen every day.

The other thing that John Owen emphatically writes about here is that it is simply not possible for us to mortify our sins ourselves.  We can only do it with the help of the Spirit.  I’m looking forward to reading more about that.

I don’t want to be one of those people who stands on the side of the road, holding a sign.  My purpose in writing this blog isn’t to try to convince you to be or to do something that God isn’t calling you to be or do in your heart already.  This blog is about my own journey in faith and my thoughts about things the books and scriptures I read.  And I say this because when people start talking about sin, its easy to tune them out.  We want to read about God’s love, but when we really start getting down into the nuts and bolts of our sinful nature, many of us aren’t willing or ready to have an honest discussion.  There are parts of the bible and God’s word that I’m not ready for yet, and that’s okay.  We all have to take our own journey, but I’m so grateful and thankful to all of you for being a part of mine.

God bless,

Meredith