Just do nothing at all.

Do you ever feel as if you aren’t doing enough?  At different times I have felt that in my work, my parenting, my marriage and my relationship with God.  It is natural to have expectations for yourself.  But how do you deal with it when you fall short, how easily do you recognize it?  Isn’t it so much easier to recognize the shortcomings of those around us?

Right now, as I’m trying to understand where God wants me to go in my relationship with him, I feel as if I’m falling short.  I feel as if I should be doing something more;  more praying, reading, writing.  The one thing I always seem to forget to do more of though is to be still, to be silent, to listen.  We live in such a task/results oriented world that it is challenging to believe that you can move forward faster by just sitting still.

This month I have been reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  Today’s reading included the following:  “Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up.  Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Me set the pace.  Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.”  

In a previous day’s reading she wrote “There is a better way to prepare for whatever you will encounter today; spend quality time with Me. …walk through this day with your focus on me.” 

I feel as if this month has been a month of my heavenly Father telling me to be patient, to slow down and to focus on him, and that by doing that, by directing my heart and my soul and my mind toward Him, I will find I have all the time I need.  Patience was my word for this year and every day God reminds me what that looks like, in a life lived with Him and in Him.

It’s easier said than done though.  Mediation for me is especially hard, clearing out my mind of all of the worries and checklists and things still undone.  It’s something I don’t enough of.  It’s also something I feel called to do often, but ignore…just focusing on and being in God’s presence.  I tell myself hey, I’m praying, reading the bible, devotionals, listening to and singing songs of praise, that should be enough.  But in all of those things I am doing something active.  What I’m not doing is sitting down and taking time to just be.  To listen and hear what God is trying to tell me.

Today I’m going put aside some time to meditate with the phrase,

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, (inhale) calm my thoughts that I might hear you (exhale).

God Bless,

Meredith

Martin Luther King Jr.

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day for our friends living south of the border. The third Monday in January is a day to celebrate the life and legacy of a man who “was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.” Wikipedia.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredible man who did incredible things.  But I think it is important that, when we remember and honor his legacy we do so with the same intentions with which he lived his life, a life of great and profound faith.

“I have a dream today…I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every
hill and mountain; shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the
crooked places will be made straight.  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and
all flesh shall see it together.  This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South
with.  With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.  With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together knowing that we will be free one day. ” Martin Luther King Jr.

God used this great man of great faith to make profound changes in the lives of so many people around the world.  And what message did he preach?  Martin Luther King Jr. preached the very same gospel as Christ, one of love and freedom for the downtrodden and the oppressed.

When I look at the life of Martin Luther King Jr. I see a life that exemplified Ephesians 3:20.  “Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” 

And I think that if we could speak with Mr. King Jr. today he would give the glory not to himself, but to the one who sent him.

If we want to be more like Martin Luther King, we need to start where he started, living a life of faith.  How are you allowing God to do more than you could ask or imagine in your life?

God bless,

Meredith

This post was inspired by a comment from a reader.  Thank you!!

What He Says.

This past Sunday I received a gift in the form of a Saturday snowstorm.  I’ve mentioned before that I teach Sunday school.  This Sunday morning the only child that showed up for my Sunday school class came in my car.  And you have to know that Isaac was perfectly willing to sit beside me with a pencil and some paper, just as I was perfectly willing to have the chance to enjoy an entire service and a sermon.

We are very blessed in our church to have an amazing orator as our priest and I always enjoy the sermon.  And God must have really wanted me to enjoy the sermon this  Sunday if he was willing to dump so much snow on Essex county.  I think it’s because he wanted me to share it with you.  So note, I am not taking credit for these ideas, but I am sharing them with you as I believe God intended.

The gospel reading was the wedding in Cana from John 2:1-12.

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

I think most of us are fairly familiar with this water into wine story.  So I’ll just skip to the point of the sermon.  These are the very last words in the bible spoken by Mary, the mother of Jesus. “Do whatever he tells you.” 

Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Can you imagine being the mother of the son of God?  I’m sure that Jesus was much like every other little boy out there, with one exception – he was without sin.  Can you imagine a child that never lied, was never selfish or talked back or was disrespectful?  It sounds like heaven right?  Except that this exceptional child wasn’t just the son of God, he was God.  And he very probably did God-like things without even thinking about them.  He was after all a child, and last I checked, childish impulsiveness isn’t a sin.  Imagine how much stress you would feel trying to hide from your friends and family this God in human form.  The story of the wedding in Cana says that this was the first of his signs that Jesus did to make his disciples believe in him.  It doesn’t say that this was his first miracle.  In fact I’m sure that his life up until that point was filled with hundreds or maybe thousands of miracles.  God is love and Jesus loved us so much that he came to die for our sins.  But that love for humanity couldn’t have just happened to Jesus when it was time for his ministry.  I think it was something he was born with.  I’m sure it was something he expressed every single day of his life.

I’ve digressed here quite a bit from the sermon because I’m a mom and since we are talking about a mother, I can’t help but reflect on that. But getting back to it, it’s important to really think about and try to understand the relationship that must have existed between this mother and this child because that might be the entire point of this story.  Not the sign itself, but the relationship. The story, not of a miracle, but of a love.

Mary came to Jesus with a problem and, even though his response to her was “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”, she had faith.  So much faith in the goodness of her son that her response was to tell the servants to do whatever he told them to do.  She knew that she could count on Jesus.  Her faith in him was absolute.  And when we think about the last recorded words of arguably the single most important woman in Christianity,   “Do whatever he tells you.” how can we not be moved?  How can we not respond to this woman who knew the man we call Saviour more intimately that anyone?  Who wrapped him in swaddling clothes and nursed him at her breast?

Let read this story with new eyes and hearts and understanding.  Let us pray and aspire to have a faith like the faith of Mary.  Let us all listen to her final words about her beloved son and DO WHATEVER HE TELLS US.

God bless,

Meredith

The Rock

During the month of January I have been doing a bible study that is exclusively focused on the Psalms.  I love this program because it isn’t about reading them straight through from 1-150.  I’ve tried that approach before and it didn’t work for me.

It’s funny how the bible seems to be a book that almost actively works against being read from cover to cover (or at least it does for me).  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is a living, active document designed to speak to each person specifically.  That is one of the things that I love about God.  He challenges me to think in different ways and accept that I don’t always have control.  I like my life to be ordered and predictable because it gives me a false sense of control.  Fortunately God is kind enough to remind me on a regular basis that I’m not.  It makes sense that God pushes us out of our comfort zones… otherwise how would we grow?  As a parent I do exactly the same things for my children.  Although it wasn’t always easy to let go and allow my kids to walk home from school alone for the first or send them on their first out of town trip without me.

But getting back to the psalms I’ve been reading.  I’ve been doing this for several weeks now and I’ve noticed an idea that keeps repeating.  The idea of the Lord as a Rock and every single time I read that work in these psalms it is capitalized.  That means this month I learned another of God’s names…Rock.

The image of a rock that immediately comes to mind is something strong, enduring, immovable, constant.  Of course the scientific part of my brain tells me that rocks can erode and some rocks are harder than others, bigger than others.  But when I see that word capitalized in the Psalms it conjures up a feeling of safety, of security.  And I think about how important it is for us as humans to have a rock in our lives.  Maybe your rock is your spouse, or your best friend or your parent.  We use rocks to build our houses, to build roads and bridges…to symbolize our love for each other.

What a powerful sense of imagery there is in the idea of making God your Rock.  You can crash the storms of your life against the Rock and he will not be moved. You can turn your back on your Rock, knowing in your heart that when you are ready, He will be there, unchanged, loving you.  What else in your life can you say that about?

I’m also grateful God shared another of his names with me this month. I think the number of names you know a person by is a reflection of the level of intimacy you have with a person.  Some people I only know by their last name.  But the closer into my circle of family and friends you get, you start to call people by their given names, or by shortened versions of their names and with the people with whom you are very close, you have nicknames and pet names, you know their middles names.

This month God is not only letting me know that he wants to be my Rock, he is telling me I can call him my Rock.  And by sharing with me another of His names, He is inviting me into a more personal relationship with him.  What are the ways in your life God is inviting you into a deeper, more intimate relationship?

God bless,

Meredith

Being God’s frog.

We are all familiar with the fable of the frog in the pot of water.  For the 10% of you that aren’t familiar with the story, essentially it says that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump out, but if you put a frog into a pot of tepid water and gradually increase the temperature it will stay in that pot until it gets cooked.

Often times a foray into Christianity can feel a lot like that pot.  When you think about exploring the idea of believing in God or joining a church or becoming a Christian it can be overwhelming.  Many people find themselves, like the frog, throwing into a boiling pot of expectations (both from themselves and from other people).

But what if your faith journey could be more like the experience of the frog in tepid water?  The only difference being that instead of being boiled alive at the end, you find yourself completely submerged in the love of God and his son, Jesus Christ.

That is what my faith journey has been.  A gradual immersion.  And I really do mean it when I say I have been God’s frog.  I have always believed in God and accepted Jesus as my saviour.  But I wanted that faith to be comfortable, so I kept everything very clinical and at an arms length.  I prayed and went to church occasionally, but I wasn’t ready or willing to compromise my very busy life more than that.

The fantastic and amazing thing about God is that he is patient.  I mean really, he literally has all the time in the world.  He will wait for you, just as he waited for me.  And when I was ready, he started showing me his purpose for my life slowly.  It started with C.S. Lewis, whose works helped me to deepen my understanding of God’s love and his purpose in a manner that was much more accessible for me than reading the bible (something that I had tried and failed at over and over again).  Then, when I turned from reading Lewis to the Bible, God humanized the people of the Gospels for me through the Netflix show A.D. Kingdom and Empire.  It was this show in particular that helped me to hear the very human voices of the people about whom and by whom the Gospels are written,  especially in the letters of Paul.

By now David and I had started attending church on a regular basis and one Sunday in June I looked at my sweet Isaac as he came up from Sunday school hanging his head and looking miserable for what seemed like the umpteenth time.  I turned to Dave and as I started complaining about the Sunday school I heard a voice in my head, so loud and clear as to be sitting right beside me, say “Then, why don’t you do something about it?”  That fall I took on Isaac’s class.  On a good day there are three wild and crazy boys in my room, who want to talk at the top of their voices and can’t sit still.  But I love all of them and thanks to Isaac, I know that listening and learning doesn’t always mean you are sitting quietly with your hands in your lap.  Sometimes it means you are building a basket tower or making a marker sword.

The point I am trying to make here is that God turned up the temperature on me the day I decided to be a part of the Sunday school program in our church.  And over the past year, he has gradually increased the temperature or what he is calling me to do, over and over again.  But each and every time I raise my eyes to the heavens and I say “Lord, if this is what you want me to do, then I know that you will help me find the way…the time…the will.”  And he absolutely has.  There is so much truth in Ephesians 3:20  “Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us— ” 

Without God’s help I know that I absolutely would not be able to do everything he has called me to do with my life.  But I am willing to be his frog, to have faith and let him turn up the temperature on his expectations for me in his time and in his way.  And far from boiling to death, I find myself happier and more content, filled with the joy of knowing God and living out his purpose for my life.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  How fully and completely has God shown me the truth of this over the last year.  So I invite you to jump into the pot with me.  Trust that God has a plan for your life and, if you are willing to surrender yourself, to be the frog, he will make them known.

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

Patience – my word of the year.

This past December one of my friends suggested we each choose a word to focus on for the coming new year.  I’m sure many of you have heard of this idea and perhaps some of you have chosen your own word for 2019.  I didn’t have to think very hard to come up with my word. Patience.

It must be pretty important to have patience because it’s the first thing Paul calls for in his letter to the Corinthians when he is speaking about love.  “Love is patient, love is kind.”  1 Corinthians 13:4  I know that if I was more patient I would be more kind, more loving, more appreciative of the hearts and feelings of the people around me.  And I don’t think I’m alone in this.  We live in a world of immediacy.  You can order something on the internet from Amazon and have it delivered to you within hours.  If you want to know the answer to a question you can look it up instantly on your smart phone.  We live in such an immediate world that we have lost touch with what it means to be patient, to wait for something.  Twenty years ago I was happy if my computer loaded a screen in five minutes.  These days I get frustrated if it hasn’t loaded after five seconds.

But I don’t think that my word is one that I need to apply only to the way I treat those around me.  I think God intends for me to apply it to myself as well.  How patient are you with yourself?   Yesterday I woke up and I could immediately that pressure in my head that tells me I’m going to have a grumpy day.  That feeling usually makes me very frustrated and impatient with myself.  I don’t enjoy walking around in a frump and being short with the people I love.  Yesterday, instead of feeling impatient and frustrated I tried being more patient – with me.  I remembered my goal of not pulling away from God in times of struggle and instead I turned toward him.

Yesterday I prayed “Heavenly Father, I ask today that your Spirit control my mind and heart.  Help me to focus on you and your will and not on myself and my human weakness.  Let me sing praises to you Lord for all of your blessings and let the heaviness of my heart be lifted up with my songs of praise.  Let the enemy in my soul be washed away with the cleansing power of your unfailing love.”  And then I was patient with God.  I lifted up my problem to him and instead of demanding to immediately feel better, I told myself  that it was okay to not feel okay and I left it in God’s hands and in God’s time.  Yesterday his timing was pretty quick, because I felt better almost immediately and I went on to have a peace-filled day in which I loved and enjoyed each moment and blessing.  Maybe next time it will take more time – but I will embrace that time, knowing that God cares enough about me to teach me something – to teach me patience.

Maybe you have a word for 2019.  Have you thought about how can you use that word to deepen your relationship with your heavenly Father?

God bless

Meredith  (song below)

 

 

 

Far from God. (Song at the End)

One of the biggest struggles in my faith journey has been the times that I felt distant from, or separated from God.  And while in my head I know we have all been there, in my heart I have struggled with the feeling that some how I have fallen short of God’s expectations of me.

Falling short of expectations is not something I take well and if you have read this blog before then you have heard me say before that guilt has been a powerful force in my life.  Letting people down, or not living up to expectations can sometimes leave me feeling completely overwhelmed by guilt.  I often find that my guilt is most profound in situations when I don’t feel as if I am being a “good” person.

I live with my heart on my sleeve, but sometimes that means I can’t pretend not to be angry, frustrated, hurt.

The point I am not doing very well at getting around too, is that all to often I have brought that same sense of guilt and shame into my relationship with God.  I took a break from writing this blog in December just to spend some time in my own head and heart.  I wanted to make sure I was focused on my relationship with God. And it was during that time, that God helped me to realize, that in those times when I am feeling down or less than perfect…in those times I feel as if I have failed Him and His purpose for my life…he hasn’t abandoned me.  HE HASN’T ABANDONED ME!  I put that in caps because it’s important.

So in those times when I feel as if I have failed God, when I feel guilt, I start to self-talk.  I tell myself that he has withdrawn from me.  He has pulled away because I am unworthy.  I feel as if I have to prove that I’m good in order for him to forgive me and let me back into his graces again.  I have to earn his forgiveness.

But this holiday season…this is when I had my epiphany.  This time of rest and reflection, this period of “holy-days” was the quiet I needed to hear God tell me that he is always there.  That his love is always there.  That his forgiveness is always there and it isn’t something that has to be earned…it’s freely given.  God has never abandoned me, it is I who pull away from his love…because I don’t feel worthy.

That is the message I want you to take from this today.  I want you to know that when you feel far from God…it is not because God is far from you.

Trust in the Lord.  He is always faithful.  He will NEVER abandon you and his forgiveness is freely given.

“Do not be weighed down with problems or with unresolved issues, for I am your burden bearer.  I have conquered the world for you.”  Jesus Calling, Sarah  Young

“Be strong and courageous.  Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for the Lord your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

God bless,

Meredith