Shhhh! It’s A Secret!

How many times in your life has someone leaned over to you and whispered a secret in your ear?  How many times have you turned around and told someone else, even though you promised you wouldn’t?  For some of us keeping secrets is easy.  It’s what we do; for others…it’s like climbing Mount Everest. I would definitely put myself in the later category.  My mother used to complain because every time I did something wrong I would feel compelled to tell her.  I’m what you call a “sharer”.  But there are other people who hold their secrets close, they guard them as if they are a precious treasure.  If you live with someone like that, it can be a challenge.  As someone who probably over-shares, it sometimes feels as if a person keeping a secret from me is using it as a form of power.  “I know something you don’t know.”  But I can hardly fault them for not telling me if they know I’m for sure going to tell someone else.

The thing about secrets is that there is a time, and a place…my kids know that if they tell either parent something, even in secret, that parent will eventually share it with the other parent.  Why?  Because David and I don’t have secrets from each other.  And even for a known sharer like myself, there are some secrets that you just know, once told in confidence, are never yours to share.

God tells us to keep secrets too.  I’ve been reading The Sermon on the Mount this week. In in we are called to love our enemies, and give to the needy, and to pray, and fast.  But he calls us to do many of these things “in secret”.  Soooooo hard!!!  If I do something nice, I want to run home and tell Dave, to show him, to show someone what a good person I am.  Kind of sums up the world we live in right now doesn’t it?  We want other people to know that we are good, and kind, and righteous.  We want everyone to know that we will vote for the right party, give to the right charity, believe in the “right” things.  We seek acceptance from our friends, our neighbours, our co-workers.  We look for it from social media in the form of re-tweets and Facebook “likes”.  We are all guilty of it to some degree.  Yes, even those who don’t have social media.  But the problem with our drive to get those likes, is that we will never get enough.

Every single one of us has a hole inside of us yearning to be loved and liked that can only be filled in way.  Social media will tell you that to be happy you need to love yourself, to put yourself first.  But I would argue that even you can’t love yourself enough to fill that void.  The only thing big enough to fill up the void within us is God.  And the reason is, because that void was created to be filled by Him.  Some people try to fill up that space with things, others with food, or money, or people.  But if you have a place in your heart that you are struggling to fill, the only “like” you need is from a friend named Jesus.

I think that’s part of the reason why Jesus tells us to pray in secret, to give to the needy in secret, to fast in secret… because only then does it become something we are doing to live like him, to deepen our relationship with him, and with our heavenly Father, and not something we are doing to be validated by other people.  When we are truly doing something for the right reason, we don’t need to broadcast it, because our Father in heaven already knows. You feel it in your heart, that He is the only one you need to look to for validation.

This is something I’m going to continue to struggle with, but it’s also something I work on.  I try to set myself a goal to not overshare.  Maybe it’s okay that I share with Dave.  Knowing I did, or didn’t do something good won’t really change his opinion of me.  Much like my Father in heaven, he loves me unconditionally.

God bless,

Meredith

What’s The Point?

For a little while now I’ve been struggling a bit with the idea of heaven.  Specifically, what is the point of Jesus coming again if we all go to heaven and live with God when we die?  I mean isn’t heaven…well…heaven?  I’ve kind of put that thought at the back of my mind and figured I’d get around to it eventually.  I was reading Paul’s second letter to Timothy this morning and verse 9 said “this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  And I got to wondering about Jesus, what really did he teach?

So I decided to go back to Matthew, chapter 4, and then I started wondering what the “gospel” or “good news” Jesus came down to earth to share with us really was?  I wanted to really understand it.  So far I’ve gotten the idea that he preached the gospel/good news that the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God was at hand.  He called his listeners to repent and believe.  At this point he wasn’t saying anything about grace.  So then what does it mean when he says the kingdom of God is at hand.  Looking at the world we live in, it doesn’t really feel as if God’s kingdom has been established on earth to me.

I believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again.  I believe that he said he is the way, the truth and the life.  I read one site that said you can only get to the kingdom of heaven through grace.  But I feel as if I need to really understand this to take the next step in my spiritual growth.  Maybe when I really understand this I’ll also have an answer to my question about heaven, and Jesus coming again. I’ll keep you updated as I go.

God bless,

Meredith

The Un-Facebook Version of Me.

It’s so easy to get misdirected and caught up in things that don’t matter.  It’s so easy to turn mole hills into mountains and as a result fail to see what’s on the other side. I’ve had a few things lately that have been causing me some degree of anxiety/stress/worry.  Sometimes it’s easy to turn to God with those problems, sometimes it isn’t.  When I was injured I could absolutely turn to God and pray for strength and patience throughout my recovery.  But what if what I’m worrying about is petty?

Do you sometimes feel restrained in the things you bring before God because maybe they aren’t big enough?  Maybe they aren’t Godly enough or you think that your worries don’t come from a place that would be acceptable to Him?  I have absolutely been feeling that way about one of my worries.  I mean really, it’s a problem of having too much…

So this morning I did my bible reading.  And while Isaac was working on his reading I picked up my phone.  I have to admit to not always noticing the daily message I get from my bible app.  But today, it came up as soon as I picked up my phone and it read… “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Now I read that passage in Philippians a week or so ago as I’m working my way back through Paul’s letters.  And I’m on 1st Timothy at this point.  But there it was, looking at me, compelling me not only to read but to understand the message…to write it in my heart.

BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING!!!  Think about that…God is telling me, he’s telling you to stop worrying about what you are bringing to him…to stop guarding your heart from him.  He doesn’t want a carefully curated, Facebook perfect version of you.  He already knows exactly who you are, the REAL you.  He knows your heart’s desire and wants, even if you feel ashamed to admit it.  And he tells us what to do with those desires… in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  If you want a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, to get in better shape, to be better.  Whatever it is, give it to God.  Give him EVERYTHING!!!!

The next verse is where the really important part comes in…and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus”.  This verse doesn’t say that you’ll get everything you ask God for, but it does say that if you give him everything, then he will give you something that surpasses anything you could possibly have desired…peace.  Just sit there for a moment, right now, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel it…really feel it fill your heart and your mind…the peace of God.

There is no physical possession, no award or accolade that can give you the lasting feeling of peace that comes from knowing God and maybe even more importantly…from being known by Him.

Today God reminded me to let go, to give him everything in prayer and supplication and to be thankful.  Thank you Father for allowing me to be my uncurated, unadultered, mostly broken-down self.  And thank you for never tiring of reminding me just how much You love me, for giving your only son over to a death that he freely accepted…all so that my faith could be enough.

God bless you all, have faith, be brave.

Meredith

I’ve been thinking a lot about judgement lately.  Sometimes it feels as if it’s what life boils down to.  We judge how well our kids are doing in school, in sports, how social they are or aren’t.  How “normal” they are or aren’t.  We judge what kind of parents we are, and we judge how well those around us parent too.  We judge how well we are doing at our jobs based upon our peers, how successful we are, how successful our friends and family are.  From a very young age we are taught to judge; whether people are good or bad, if it’s safe to cross the street.  We make judgements every single day of our life.  Sometimes those judgements keep us safe, but sometimes they are a means of building ourselves up on the backs, or failures of others.  And it’s because we are all guilty of that type of judgement that the word has taken on a negative connotation.  The word judgement has become synonymous with condemnation.   We can make good “choices”, but we “judge” people.

I think it’s that word that becomes the excuse so many people need to reject God.  It’s easier to not believe than it is to believe in a God that will judge or condemn them.  What an awful job we have done as his children to share who and what he is.  We have all been the victim of someone else’s judgement at some point in our lives, and I for one, have not found it the most enjoyable experience.  So then why would I want to join a church, or worship a creator who is going to subject me to those same feelings of judgement and rejection?

It makes me sad that the people who share the biggest truth about Jesus Christ and God are the ones we most easily classify as crazy.  They are the people who stand on the street corner or  wave signs at football games saying John 3:16.  And you all know what I’m talking about.  You give them a wide berth if you encounter them, maybe even cross the street.  But I think that their message is the most credible, the most powerful, the most truthful.  “For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  That message that those “crazy” people are trying to share with you…with the world, is one not of judgement, but of LOVE!

So what’s my point?  I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop spreading messages of judgement with our lives…with our faith…and we need to start sharing more messages of truth…more message of love.

Do I believe that God will judge us all according to our actions.  Sure, but I’m at a far different place in my walk with God than someone who is just starting out, and everyone’s journey is different.  I can’t claim to know God’s will in this world, so I do my very best to let him make those calls, and instead I try to make good “choices”, good “judgements” about the way I treat the people in my life.  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.  But at the end of they day, God loved me enough to give his only Son, and all I have to do to bask in the glow of his love is believe!!!!!

Just believe.

God bless,

Meredith. (I feel like this song really speaks to the heart of what I’m trying to say)

An Object in Motion.

I think on some level we are all inherently lazy.  Some of us just have an easier time pushing through that inertia.  We all run on Newton’s first law.  An object or person at rest, stays at rest. An object/person in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.  Have you ever heard that expression, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the room?

This past week I’ve been reading Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.  There is so much good stuff in those short letters that speak to this, to respecting those who work hard and warning those who are idle.  Here are a few of my favorite verses and why.

“Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:12.  I love the reminder in this verse to respect people who work hard, and for us to take criticism.  I think we all have a much harder time these days listening to the opinions of others, especially when they dare to tell us that our actions might not be okay.  We forget that we learn from failure as much or more than from success.  And maybe some days we need to be told to get moving, or to work harder.  I know I certainly do.

“Live in peace with each other…warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”  1 Thessalonias 5:14-15.  Be patient!!  Words that I sometimes struggle to live by and it is through my lack of patience that I sometimes find myself in conflict rather than peace, or I forget to encourage or help others.  But I always find those times when I can step back, and try to understand why someone is reacting a certain way are the times I feel the closest to God.

And then in 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul says “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you to keep away from one who is idle… for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule:  “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” …”And never tire of doing what is right.”  

I know that I’m always much happier and more relaxed the busier I am.  There is nothing more guaranteed to make me feel drained and exhausted than spending a day on the couch.  And people who don’t do anything want you to do nothing with them.  It makes them feel better for not accomplishing anything.  Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a time for rest.  Even God took the seventh day off, but you can be sure, he worked hard the other sixth.   And it’s when you work hard that you can rest on that 7th day, look around and say “it is very good”.

“…be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” 

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, test everything, hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil.”

The one who calls you is faithful…”

What a recipe for the life we are called to live as children of God.  So often God is portrayed as self-righteously looking down from on high and judging us.  But this letter from Paul so beautifully sums up the life that God wants for us.  To be joyful always, to work hard and be respectful and peaceful and to be kind to each other.  Instead of turning away from God, we should be turning back to him.  We should be stoking the Spirit’s fire instead of putting it out, we should pray continually…thank God for that parking spot, that break in traffic, that green light.  Newton’s law applies to your faith as much as your physical activity, so keep moving, and keep praying.  Be an object in motion.

God bless,

Meredith

 

Planting A Seed.

For as long as I can remember I have loved to read and write.  Growing up in a very rural setting there weren’t really a lot of visible writing jobs around, although I did entertain the idea of being a journalist (very briefly). Part of me always felt that I would write a book, but that would be a hobby not an actual job.  Teacher…now that was a real job.  (FYI, both my parents are/were teachers)

It took a long time for me to walk the journey that ultimately brought me to a place where I could do something I never actually believed possible, writing for a living.  And I now have the blessed luxury of only writing things that I believe in or feel strongly about.  It’s funny how God can plant a seed in your heart and nurture it slowly until it’s the right time for it to break free and grow.

Not only have I been blessed to work in comics for the last five years, I have had the opportunity to write some of the industry’s most iconic characters, including Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and Conan the Barbarian.  I’ve also had a successful 17 issue run with my own character.  But right at the beginning, when I first started writing comics, God put an idea into my heart for a story and after more than a year of work and prayer and re-writes, that story is about to be completed.

Long before I typed my first word, I knew that I was going to do a graphic novel about The Book of Ruth.  After I had completed the first chapter I put out the call for an artist on Facebook.  I figured if I had to pay an artist, then I would have to keep working on the book.  Both David and I knew the look we wanted for the book, but after the first day’s submissions I wasn’t feeling particularly hopefully.  I went to bed that night and just put it before the Lord.  “Father you put it in my heart to do this book. I ask that you help me to find the right artist for it.”  The next morning I came downstairs, looked at my Facebook and there he was…Colin Dyer…the answer to my prayer.

If God calls you to do something, you have to know that he will always make a way for that to happen, even if you hit some rough spots.  I struggled mightily writing the final chapter of Ruth, making sure that it was true to the intention of the original and wrapping up the extras that I put in.  But I just kept on praying and in the end, I’m pleased with how it turned out.  My next hurdle will be getting this project in front of people.  It’s easy to let fear get in the way at this point and worry.  But I just keep holding on to the knowledge that if God brought me this far, he’s not going to let me down now.  I’ll be launching my Kickstarter on November 1st and I would appreciate any and all prayers for its success.

Here’s a look at the cover of my book.  I’ll post some other sneak peeks and special exclusives here first.

God bless,

MeredithRuth_Postcard 01

 

God Bless the Children.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

Having a relationship with God isn’t always easy.  There are lots of times that I feel as if I’m not strong enough for the things he’s asking me to do, for the challenges I’m facing, and believe me, this year I’ve had my share.  But I have come to learn that God will always be there for us, we just have to choose to let him. And often times those moments that seem the darkest, turn out to be our greatest blessings.

As the parent of a child with significant special needs, and a drive to seriously hurt himself, there are many times when I have looked up and cried out to God, “why”?!  My heart breaks every time I’m not fast enough to stop Hayden from punching himself or when I hear from staff that Hayden has hit his head again.  (There’s a reason he wears a hockey helmet.)  But if I have learned anything these last 18 years, it is that Hayden’s life has purpose and it isn’t always about me.  By choosing to let go of him, by allowing other people into his life to help him, I know that God has used him to change lives and I’m sure he will continue to do so.

I read an article this weekend about how God measures productivity.  Many of us live with the mindset that we need to get as much done as possible in as little time as possible.  I am no exception and especially before my accident, I would often feel guilty if I wasn’t going at full speed. But, the point of this article was that maybe sometimes we need to sit in traffic, to be late, to not get something done.  It isn’t always given to us to know how the actions and events in our lives ripple out to affect other people.  That’s part of trusting in God.

When we are children, it is the responsibility of our parents to guide us and protect us from things that we aren’t cognitively or emotionally aware of.  Don’t you think it’s possible that God does the same thing for us? Maybe he’s protecting us when we are waiting at that red light or we get delayed in the drive-thru. If there is a God out there capable of creating the universe and everything in it from a vast emptiness (and I sincerely believe that there is) then he is more than capable of being able to love and care for each one of us individually.

It isn’t always given to us to know why bad things happen in our lives, but if we trust in our Father (just as we hope our children trust in us) then I know it is possible for him to make everything for our good. And, just as we are there for our children, giving them strength through their hurts and disappointments, there is nothing we can’t do, or get through with Him who gives us strength.

God bless,

Meredith