Blessings

It’s January so I feel like I can still get away with contemplating the year past as I move into the year present.  For me, 2018 really was a year full of both heart breaks and blessings.

In 2018 the woman whom I loved like a sister passed away.  Not a day goes by that I don’t hold her to my heart and love her and feel grateful for the blessing of her friendship.

In 2018 I felt the hand of God on my life, my work, my family and my heart.  This was the year that I felt God calling me to be more.  To do more.  To share my faith in a way that I pray is hopeful and open and accessible.

In 2018, thanks to my incredible husband, I realized a dream that I had given up on. In many ways this stands out for me as exceptional because this was something that I never thought I would have.  I thought I was too old.  But 2018 is the year that Absolute Faith came into my life and there will never be enough words to thank God and David for making that happen.

2018 was the year that I really understood my faith and had confidence enough in what I believed to share it with all of you.  I haven’t gone to school to study ministry, but I can’t help but recognize all of the ways in which God is impacting my life in powerful and meaningful ways. Ways that include my newest comic “Light Princess” from Cave Publishing.  And I can’t deny God’s power and active involvement in the selection of the artist for my current creator-owned project, The Book of Ruth.

2018 was a year that will stand out for me as a year of profound growth and spiritual and emotional development.  And while I have already said that I don’t feel as if the new year marks a “new” me…today I was so incredibly blessed to be reminded by God of his love and commitment to me…a day that ended with the symbol of God’s covenant with Noah…a rainbow.

I wish I was more eloquent.  I wish I had the words to share with each and every person I meet the power of God’s love.  I wish I could prove his presence.  I wish I had the words to make people believe.  But I can share with you the message he kept reminding me of today…through devotionals and apps and song… and I can hope and pray that the Lord reaches out and uses them to touch you in some way…

“…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:12

“Come to me and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

“Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:10

I lean heavily on that last verse, knowing that God always sees the troubles of my heart and he will never abandon me.  I pray that in 2019 you too find comfort in and shelter in the love of God.

Yes. He will help you.

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

 

A “New” You.

The new year.  A fresh start.  A time for evaluating our lives and making resolutions about who and what we want to be.  It’s funny how so many of us see January 1st as a time for new beginnings. But for the first time, this year, as January 1st came and went, I didn’t feel as if something new was beginning.

As human beings we are so often driven, controlled and limited by our understanding of time.  “I’ll start my diet tomorrow. This is the year I’ll lose the weight, pay off my credit cards, finish school.”  We forget that time is really a human construct, something we use to make sense of our world.  But the “new” you doesn’t need to wait for January 1st or 31st or any other day.

The “new” you comes when you are ready.  It comes from faith.  Faith in God and his promises.  Faith in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I didn’t feel the new year in 2019 as I usually do because I have already taken the steps I need to become “new”.  My life is no longer about resolutions.  My life is about growing my faith.  My “new” year’s resolution didn’t come on January 1st.  It came when I was ready for it.  The steps of my journey aren’t controlled by a clock, or a date on a calendar, they are controlled by the one who created this glorious world we live in.  I may struggle at times and fall off the path, but I always know that the story of my life is the one written not by me, but by my heavenly Father.

The “new” you starts the very instant you accept Jesus into your heart.  In that moment you are made brand new.  You are bound to one “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Ephesians 3:20

This year I pray that God speaks to each and everyone of us in a voice that is clear and loud and undeniable.  I pray that each of us hear him calling our name and we open ourselves up to the joy and freedom that can only be found in faith.

God bless,

Meredith

 

And his name shall be Emmanuel

God is speaking to me today and I can’t deny what he is saying.

I mentioned a couple of blogs ago that I felt as if God had put me into a season of rest.  But I understand today, now, that he has put me into a season of listening…listening and speaking for him in a different way.

For the last few weeks I have spent time quietly, peacefully.  No urgent need to preach that God has come to save us or that Jesus loves us.  Just a time of quiet assurance that God is near to me and God loves me.  I haven’t looked for a sign.  I haven’t asked for a sign.  I’ve just been content to quietly rest in the assurance of God’s love.  And it is in that quiet…that peace, that God has spoken to me as loudly as he ever has.

I made a phone call today that no one should have answered.  A phone call that was two hours late, and all I expected…all I hoped for…was voice mail.  I made a phone call today that was answered by a human being.  And not only that person, but the person I was calling for picked up the phone!  My call was answered by someone who heard my plea and reached out to me.  And I knew, without hesitation, that God had heard my cry, that God had answered me. I shared this story with my family, thinking that this was enough for today.  This was enough proof of God, enough proof of his love for me and his willingness to hear my unasked-for-prayer.  And then I opened Facebook. And I saw a message from Jane.  And I knew immediately, God bless you Jane, that God was using her to speak to me. God is present and active, and if you are reading this, then absolutely believe that he has his hand on you.  That, just as he used Jane to speak to me, he is using me to reach out to you.  I believe with all of my heart that God wants every single person who reads this blog today to see this message.  Let me repeat that.  GOD WANTED EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO READS THIS BLOG TODAY, TO SEE THIS MESSAGE…this truth about who and what he is.

You don’t need to respond unless God puts it on your heart to do so. Instead I want you to know that you are seeing this message because God wants you to know that he is real.  That’s all.  That’s enough. My blog isn’t big enough to hit thousands.  If just one person reads it I’m happy.  And that means that you can feel confident, if you are still reading this, that this message is for you. Just carry this forward into your daily life, and know that God cared enough about you to speak to you today…through me.

God Bless,

Meredith

A Voice in the Wilderness Calling

I know I said I was going to take a break from blogging this month, but I felt compelled to share this, so…

“Comfort, comfort my people says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling; ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'”  Isaiah 40:1-5

This verse is the inspiration for one of my all time favorite hymns which I’ve included here as well as the lyrics and information about the author. (I love that he is from Hastings County, Ontario, Canada because that is where I also grew up.)

I hope you find joy and inspiration today as you prepare the way for your Lord.

God Bless,

Meredith

Author: James Lewis Milligan

Milligan, James Lewis. (Liverpool, England, February 1, 1876–May 1, 1961, Scarborough Township, York County, Ontario). Son of Anglican parents, his early and only formal education was obtained at Anglican schools. Going to work in the building trades at the age of twelve, he applied himself so assiduously to self-study he soon began contributing to London papers. In 1910 a collection of his verse was published by a London hour resulting in his receiving the Hemans Prize for Lyrical Poetry. The next year, with his family, he emigrated to Canada and became a pastor on the Methodist circuit in Hastings County, Ontario.

There’s A Voice
Hymn Lyrics

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway,
A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places,
Where the Lord our God may go!

O Zion, that bringest good tidings,
Get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people
The coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish,
The works of men decay,
The power and pomp of nations
Shall pass like a dream away.

But the word of our God endureth,
The arm of the Lord is strong;
He stands in the midst of nations,
And He will right the wrong.
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd,
And fold the lambs to His breast;
In pastures of peace He’ll lead them,
And give to the weary rest.

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway,
A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places,
Where the Lord our God may go!

A Season of Rest

It’s been a bit hit and miss with my blog as of late.  Part of it is that as the days have gotten shorter I’ve had more difficulty getting up in the morning.  It’s easy to get up at 5:00 when the sun is shining, it’s a lot harder when it’s going to be dark for another couple of hours.  Like a bear, it seems my body is going into a hibernation mode.  And as I enter this season of physical rest, I am also feeling called by God to rest spiritually.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t be reading my bible and praying, but it means that now is a good time for me to spend some time reflecting and growing in my relationship with God.

I love that God always has perfect timing.  I feel like Christmas is the time of year when our earthly home is the most like our heavenly home.  It’s a time when people love their neighbor as themselves and when God’s message of love and hope in the birth of his son, Jesus is visible everywhere.  Lawn signs saying “Jesus is the reason for the season and nativity scenes are everywhere and people who don’t normally go to church will sit in pews on Sunday mornings and Christmas eve.

I will post occasionally, as I feel the need to share scripture or ideas, but I will be back in the new year at full strength.

I wish everyone one of you a blessed and wonder-filled holiday season.

Merry Christmas.

Meredith

Looking around at everything.

I’m sure all of us have seen pictures of an empty stadium immediately after a big game and the crowds of people have dissipated.  Empty drink cups and pieces of paper are scattered and blowing everywhere.  Pieces of uneaten hotdog and popcorn blanket the floor.  Now image that you went to visit you parents house and it looked like this.  You’d be horrified.  Or what if you showed up at church on Sunday to this?

Often times when we read the story of Psalm Sunday we read about Jesus riding on the back of an unbroken colt and people spreading their cloaks and psalm branches on the road in front of him.  We read of his triumphant entry.  But what gets skipped over is the verse that follows.  It says “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple.  He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”. Mark 11:11

I imagine that what Jesus saw that night was a lot like what we see in an empty stadium, after a game, before it has been cleaned.  Can you imagine how it must have made him feel to see his Father’s house desecrated in such a way?  Not just with paper and garbage, but with animal dung too.  You know how sometimes you get so angry you can’t let something go?  Jesus wasn’t just the Son of God, he was the Son of Man. As such I’m sure he experienced all of the same range of very human emotions we do.  I imagine he must have spent much of that night stewing about what he saw in the temple, because the next morning he cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit (metaphor?) and then, “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.  And as he taught them he said, ‘Is it not written:  My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?  But you have made it a den of robbers.’”  Mark 11:15-17

I wrote about this today because that one line stood out to me.  Jesus, the night of his triumphant entry, going to God’s house and “looking around at everything”.  This was the beginning of the end for Jesus and part of me wonders if what he was seeking was the kind of experience we get, that feeling of awe when we enter a beautiful old church and look at at the fresco’s on the ceiling, the ornate wood carvings, the beautiful stained glass windows. And how heartbroken he must have felt to get exactly the opposite experience.

And then, Jesus was angry and he wasn’t afraid to show it.  He didn’t hide his emotions behind a mask of humility.  He was honest about his feelings

I think that it is stories like this that help to make Jesus relatable…human.  Of course he performed so many amazing miracles, but he also laughed and cried and got angry, just like we do.  I love that about our God.  He lowered himself to our level to help us understand his love for us and to encourage us to seek him.  To let us know that he absolutely understands what we are going through, because he has walked in our shoes.

In my mind, this story ends the following morning, after Jesus has cleansed the temple, and they walk by the same fig tree that he had cursed the day before.  It was withered from the roots up.   When Peter remarks on this, Jesus responds with the following “Have faith in God.”  That fig tree is not only a metaphor for the Jewish community at the time of Jesus, it is a metaphor for our lives too.  While we might appear healthy and vibrant, we need faith to actually bear fruit.  Without it we will wither and die.

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark 11:23,24

As we enter into the holiday season, and the wonder of Christmas fills our lives I pray that this becomes a season of refreshment for you.  I pray that you allow Jesus to cleanse your heart and drive out all of the garbage, and I pray that you find your faith renewed and it helps you to just Believe!

God bless,

Meredith

 

“If You Can.”

As I’m going through chapters 8, 9 and 10 of Mark I feel as if there is so much information here to take in.  Yesterday I was reading about the transfiguration and it seemed so important to really understand what that was and what was happening that I ended up cross referencing the rest of the gospels to read each version and doing some research online about it.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word transfigure as follows:

to give a new and typically exalted or spiritual appearance to : transform outwardly and usually for the better

For those of you who don’t know about or haven’t read about the transfiguration of Jesus, it comes at a point when Jesus is wrapping up his ministry in Galilee and is making ready for his journey to Jerusalem, and the death and resurrection that is waiting there for him.  Prior to this he takes three disciples, Peter, James and John with him up onto a mountain to pray.  One of the commentaries I was reading, talked about the fact that Jesus was probably praying for his disciples, knowing the challenges that they were going to soon be facing to their faith.

While they are on that mountain, these three men (I think they must have been the disciples closest to Jesus) were given a special blessing. For a moment they saw Jesus “transfigured before them  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.  Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.  Let us put up three shelters – one for you one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)  Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud; “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him!”

These three disciples were given the gift of seeing Jesus on earth, clothed in all of his heavenly glory and they were frightened.  So scared that they didn’t know what to do or say.  How many times are we like that in our own faith journeys?  How many times, when God is about to reveal himself to us, or when we are given a special blessing from God, do we pull back because it makes us scared or uncomfortable?  We want to God to stay where we are comfortable.  I think that’s what Peter was trying to do when he is suddenly confronted with the sight of these two men, who for him were pillars of his faith, and the transformed son of God.  He tried to shrink them down, to put them into a place where he felt comfortable.   And God interrupted him.  He told Peter to stop talking and start listening!

As Jesus and three disciples come down off that mountain a boy is brought to Jesus who is possessed by an evil spirit that the other disciples could not drive out.   And there are several very powerful things said here (or at least for me they were).  The father asks Jesus to take pity on them and heal his son, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  Note the word “if”.  This man has come with his son to Jesus for healing, but he still isn’t sure. Jesus responds by saying If you can?  Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Mark 9:23,24

Haven’t we have all had this moment at points in our journeys? I certainly have.  We ask God for help with a question in our hearts; “If you can”.  Maybe that’s where Peter was at on that mountain top.  He believed and yet maybe there was a small part of him that couldn’t really believe this was actually happening and that’s why he needed to be told by God to just listen.  This sounds like something I can absolutely relate to.  There are times, even when our faith is strong, when we need help to overcome our unbelief, times when we need to stop talking and just listen.   Times when we need to stop being afraid and just let God in.

We also see this idea reflected in the question of the other disciples when they ask Jesus  why they couldn’t drive out the demon from the boy and heal him as they had been able to heal others.  Jesus responded that “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  The disciples had forgotten to let God into what they were doing.  They had forgotten the most fundamental part of faith – prayer and that all miracles (like the transfiguration of Jesus) are accomplished not because of our own greatness, but through prayer and the greatness and power of God.

So maybe today is the day you sit down and pray.  Maybe today you are asking God for a miracle (big or small).  Or maybe you are asking him to help you with your unbelief – but whatever it is in your heart to put before the Lord, take the “if you can” out of your heart when you do it, and then stop talking and allow God to speak.

God bless,

Meredith