I was truly terrified!

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Fear is a word I have become intimately knowledgeable of this year. I’m talking, overwhelming, stomach churning, can’t breath, real fear. We’re talking a rocked me to my core, and made me question life decisions kind of fear, I would even say I was terrified. But guess what?! It was the type of fear that isn’t based on actual reality, but on a series of “what ifs”; a fear of the unknown, and I was caught completely off guard when it happened.

There is still so much going on in our world to cause us to be fearful, anxious, stressed. My personal strategy has been just to focus on my small little niche of the world and shut out everything else: I can’t change it anyway. But, sometimes the world breaks through and forces itself upon you; the threat of more lockdowns, tracking apps, arguments to vaccinate or not, doctors threatening to deny care to people. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how divisive our world would feel. That’s the point of fear – to makes you like the world is against you, to make you feel isolated and alone.

There is a song by Zach Williams called “Fear is a Liar”. How much do we need that song now? How much do we need to be told that our fears are lies?

This summer, in the midst of a chaotic world, God has shone his light into my life on a daily basis; reminding me that He is with me, walking beside me, holding my hand. Let me give you an example. Last week, after almost a year of waiting, our hay field and horse pastures were finally planted. We have had gorgeous sunny days since then and three nights of rain. I can only call this a miracle and a blessing from God. I literally couldn’t have asked for better weather to germinate our seed. Again and again this summer God has made a way for us and our dream.

Over and over again the Bible tells us not to worry. Philippians 4:5-7The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” This verse isn’t saying God will give you what you ask for, but it does say that reaching out to Him in your anxiety will bring you peace; a peace that transcends all understanding.

When I hold God close, when I turn to Him in my fears and anxiety, when I don’t have enough strength, I feel that peace. God’s got this.

That fear I spoke about earlier…it came over me while I was riding my horse. That fear wanted to deny me something that brings me incredible joy, peace and love. I only know of one way to deal with fear like that; give it up to God. I’ve spent the last two weeks doing that scary thing over and over again. Lots of times I pray as we go galloping off into the wild with no fences or arena walls to “keep me safe” and you know what…”I’m actually having fun!” What fears in your life can you give up to God? What fears can you abandon to find joy?

Even when it feels like the world is out of control, Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God;” Make the choices you have to make, embrace the things that scare you, and trust that God will, can, and is working all things for your good. And here’s that Zach Williams song. I’m totally going to cry my way through it.

May God bless you and keep you!

Meredith

Me and My Big Mouth

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Let me start by saying that life in the country; life on our farm; is amazing. There is not one person in my family who hasn’t blossomed in this environment; in the freedom of the space. But building a farm from scratch does not come without its share of worries and stressors; the biggest of which for me has been financial. There have been many times over the past few months when I have felt my share of anxiety over how quickly our bank account can diminish. I know we’ve planned for this, but it’s still a scary thing to see it happen.

But, as a person of faith, I can’t tell you the number of signs and ways that God continually reminds me that He loves me and is watching over us. From the ease of Everett getting his new job five minutes from our house, to the recent purchase of a harrow for my riding arena. Time and time again God is there, watching out for us, protecting us, reminding us that He is near.

For all that, I have still felt anxious and overwhelmed. I don’t know how you deal with your anxiety, but mine tends to result in me lashing out at the people closest to me – my sweet and caring family. I know I’m doing it, I hate that I’m doing it, but I can’t seem to help myself and so it’s something I continue to bring before God.

Yesterday this was one of my verses – “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it only leads to evil.” Psalm 37:8. DING, DING, DING! My fretting has absolutely resulted in anger and wrath and harmful behaviour. Okay Lord, point taken. And today this was my verse – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heats and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

That verse doesn’t mean God is going to give me whatever I pray for, but it does mean that if I give him my worries and my fears and my anxiety he will give me peace. A peace that will guard my heart and my mind and by extension – my mouth. God will give me peace that I can share with my family instead of my fretful wrath.

How many times in your own life have you carried a burden of stress needlessly? I know the truth of these verses because I have lived them in my own life many times over. But still, my patient and loving Father, reminds me when I need to hear it, reminds me to give Him my cares. Today my prayers are about giving up my worries, and embracing the journey that I am taking, knowing that I am watched over, and loved, and protected every single step of the way.

God bless,

Meredith

Count your blessings, not your problems.

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 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

 

I ASK YOU…

As you may know, David and I are blessed to have the luxury of working from home, even prior to this covid-19 crisis.  We have however taken this opportunity, much like many of you, to spend more time together as a family.  One of the things we have started doing is more family movie nights with Isaac.  Thus far we have watched, Frozen II, Spies, A Dog’s Purpose and last night we watched Heaven Is For Real (on Netflix right now).

One of the things I love most about this movie is watching the very real, and painful crisis of faith the father (a pastor) goes through as he wrestles with the miraculous possibility that his son visited heaven during a life and death struggle with a ruptured appendix.  His journey is something that I think we can all relate to.  “Do we really believe in God when we are confronted with a truth or reality that makes us uncomfortable?”

I’ve had several discussions with a good friend about their biggest obstacle to being a believer; that people will think that they are dumb, or ignorant for believing in God.  We live in a world that has convinced us that it is okay to believe in a higher power.  But, if you ever dare to suggest that there is a very real God that wants an intimate relationship with his creation…and people look at you like you’re a few cards short of a deck.  That was in fact a sentiment expressed in the movie “The Bible says ‘believe his children’.  What my child’s telling me (that heaven is real) will get me laughed out of town.”

The fear of being considered a fool for believing in God was something I struggled with myself early on in my faith journey, (if you look back I posted an earlier blog about it).  But I want you to know that God isn’t a myth! He loves each and every one of us.  During these troubled times, where it seems as if every day we are confronted with increasingly frightening statistics, I ask you to consider stepping outside your comfort zone.  I ask you to consider the idea that there is indeed a Sovereign Lord in control of this universe.  I ask you to stop being afraid of what people might think of you, or your intelligence and consider allowing Him to be a part of your life.  God walks with me and beside me every single day of my life.  When I turn to Him in times of turmoil and conflict He always answers me.  He ALWAYS answers me.  I ask you to consider that even through you might not be ready for a relationship with Him right now, He’ll be ready and waiting whenever you are.

God bless and keep each and everyone of you.  And let us all pray for those on the front lines of this crisis, doctors, nurses, essential store employees who risk their lives everyday so that we can buy groceries and necessary supplies.  We are all in this together, and together we are all held in God’s hand.

Meredith

 

 

I TURN TO YOU.

“Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”  1Corinthians 2:16

It feels surreal, everything that we are doing as a global population to fight covid-19.  I’m sure if you are waking up this Monday morning not going into work you might feel differently.  Because both David and I work from home, and we have been  homeschooling Isaac for more than a year, this Monday feels like any other.  I wake up, walk the dog, and then Isaac and I sit down to do our school work.  There’s still no teenager walking around  (even though he isn’t at school, he won’t appear until sometime after mid-day).

But, the reality of our new lives with Covid-19 doesn’t take that long to worm it’s way back into the spotlight of even my life.  I have only to open a newspaper, Facebook, turn on the TV.  I think what scares me most is the unknown.  How long will we live apart from our loved ones?  How long will we be laid off from our jobs?  Will we have jobs to go back to?  How will the world be different?

I have been trying to fill my days so that I don’t have to engage these fears.  Cleaning closest, painting bedrooms.  But in those moments of stillness, as I lie in bed at night I can feel the fear creeping into my heart.  Who will I lose before this is over? If I get covid-19 will I make it?  Maybe you’ve experienced some, or even all, of these same thoughts.  The only solution I have is to turn to God. Every time I feel my chest tighten, or my stress and anxiety start to rise I turn to my Heavenly Father.

In Matthew 6:25-27 Jesus tells his followers Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body… look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who among you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” 

and in Matthew 6:33-34 he reminds us But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

And in 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul reminds us that “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

I’m just going to keep holding on to these messages of hope and trust that my Father in heaven is bigger than anything I could fear here on earth.

Here’s a song that I hope will help lift you up today if you are feeling scared or blue.

God bless,

Meredith

SOMETHING BIGGER.

I had a conversation a few days ago with a colleague about what was happening to comics right now, and where the industry might be when things eventually return to normal.  This individual had a very deep fear that their career was over, a feeling that I’m sure is being felt across much of the comic book industry.  Ours isn’t the only industry worried about what will be left after this crisis.  I tried to reassure this person that they had nothing to worry about, but the simple truth is none of us know when this will end, or how it will ultimately affect us.  I can tell you that this conversation opened a door to us having a very long conversation about God.  And as we talked, I kept praying for God to give me the right words, for God to use me to open the heart of this individual to His truth.

Now, more than ever we need to trust in our Heavenly Father.  It’s so easy to be ruled by our fear right now; fear of losing your job, your status within an industry, your way of life.  But, and this is something many people find difficult to accept, ALL of that is a gift from God.  “No.” you say “I work my butt off, not God, me.”  But the truth is, none of us get to write our genetic code, or pick and choose what gifts or talents we are going to be born with.  And yes, you may be an amazing artist, musician, writer, teacher, lawyer…and I don’t discount that you have worked hard to get where you are in your industry, but what you may not have seen are the many, many doors God opened for you along the way.  And, it is in times like these, that we see just how little control we really have over our own lives. Don’t let your pride (because that’s what your need to be independent from God is) prevent you from seeing and accepting all the gifts that God is offering you.  Don’t let your pride prevent you from accepting the ultimate gift…God’s love, and His hand and care over your life.

I believe that God expects us to work hard.  I also believe that he wants, and gives us every opportunity to use His gifts to their fullest.  But ultimately, I have found that only when these things go hand in hand with thanking God, and trusting in God, am I able to accept the blessings of peace, and joy, and the ability to use my gifts to their fullest potential.  I have been reading the prophet Ezekiel this week and there is one phrase that keeps getting repeated over and over again.  “They will know that I am the Lord…the Sovereign Lord.”  I think I copied it down four times in one chapter alone.  God is SOVEREIGN.  God is THE LORD.  And He’s got this.

Today I continue to give thanks for my blessings, and as this virus continues to spread through the world, I pray for each of you, that God watches over you and keeps you and your families in health and safety.  I pray for our doctors and nurses, and those who are working in groceries stores, and other essential services so that, even while we are social distancing,  we can live our lives.

Give thanks for your blessings today, and trust that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Trust that even if a door closes as a result of this virus, you just never know what bigger, and better thing your Heavenly Father has in store.

God bless,

Meredith