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 Strength of Men.

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A week ago today we began the final, and most grueling day of what would turn out to be a three-day process to move from our beautiful house in the suburbs to our dream house in the country. I have NEVER experienced anything on the scale of what we attempted to do. We had a four bedroom, two story home with a fully finished, and fully furnished basement. I hired movers for two days and we used up every inch of their truck and every second of their time, but by the end of day two we still had our backyard shed, garage and Dave’s weights and office. I rented a 15′ truck from U-haul. We loaded and unloaded that truck, and our pickup, and our friends minivan three times that day.

Driving back to our old house for the second time that day, I could just feel how physically and mentally exhausted I was. I certainly would have cried if I could have found the energy; instead I reached out in prayer. “Dear Lord, I don’t think I have the strength for this. Please Lord, I really need your strength. I need you to give me your strength to get through this.” In complete and total faith, I asked God for His strength because I knew that what I had left in the tank was not going to be enough. I expected to feel less tired, that somehow He would get me through this. I didn’t expect the answer I received.

Fast forward a hour later and Dave’s best friend showed up with some tools we needed to disconnect our BBQ. He immediately saw our need and jumped in, helping us, and his two teenage boys (whom we had hired for the day) load up the trucks. Three hours later we were back at the house for the final load. By this time is was 4:00 and we had been going steady for eight hours. You can’t imagine my surprise when my friend (the best-friend’s wife) and my sister and my dad arrived. I didn’t think I had the energy to cry, but at that moment, the certainty that God had heard my prayer and answered with the people with our lives. He gave us his people; people to give us the strength to push through and finish the move, exactly when we needed them.

Never for a single moment have I doubted that this house, this path is the one God wants me to walk. As exhausting as our move was, it was filled with so many amazing blessings. When you are on the right path the confirmation from God is like a neon sign. For me, God isn’t a deity I visit in church on Sundays, or pray to when I go to bed. I carry God with me every day, in everything I do; I simply can’t live my life without Him, and I see His love and caring for me every single day including when I needed strength and He provided.

I have been feeling a song in my heart often this week and I really feel as if it was the anthem for our move. Even the smallest battle belongs to God. Give him your fears, your weaknesses and yes, even your fatigue, and He will give you exactly what you need.

God bless,

Meredith

Who’s Got Your Back?

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Last week I was experiencing a significant amount of anxiety. I could blame it on the stress of packing and getting ready to move, or the state of the world, or the rising number of Covid infections in our neck of the woods, but none of those things would be true. The simple fact of the matter is that I was afraid. God has been incredibly good to my family and He has poured blessings upon us and between you and me…I just didn’t feel worthy. I was in a place where I just kept waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. I was convincing myself that all the good things we have received were really just a prelude to a disaster. I worked myself into a state of terror that we could lose everything. Have you ever been there?

It was on Friday afternoon, driving alone in my car that I realized my fear, my terror was actually a lack of faith manifesting itself. I give God so much credit and glory for the amazing gifts he has given my family, and the farm is a huge one for me. But problems arise when we place those gifts above the one who gave them to us. Getting out of sync with your faith and trust in God is what allows doubt and fear to invade your heart. Yes, the farm is a blessing, but appreciating it needs to be a balance and not an obsession. In the words of the Anglican prayer “All thing come from thee and of thine own have we given thee.

All week I kept reaching out to God, asking him for peace, but it wasn’t until Friday that I realized I hadn’t given him my problems. I’d asked him for help but I clutched my fear to my breast and held on tightly. I will never understand why God has chosen to bless me, I will never feel as if I deserve it, because I will never feel as if I’m good enough, but I think that’s the essence of the faith journey. We live in a world where we are constantly required to prove our worth, that we are good enough. It’s a world that functions in complete opposition to a God for whom you never need to prove your worth, who loves you unconditionally, ALL THE TIME! Not when you donate to charity, not just because you go to church, not because you read your Bible today, but just because you are YOU. We are all God’s children and He wants to get to know each one of us intimately, just as He wants us to get to know Him.

I’m not going to pretend that my fear and stress are gone forever, although they certainly were in that moment of ephiphany. Much like a compass, I need to make sure I am always pointing myself in the right direction, toward God. I am a less than perfect parent, but I will always love my children unconditionally and I will always try to do what is best for them. God is the perfect Father. I just have to keep reminding myself to trust Him, just as I want my children to trust me…I’ve always got their back.

There are times in our lives when we can’t see the beautiful painting that God is making of our lives, times when we experience great loss and pain and suffering that we don’t deserve. Life as a child of God, the blessings and the pain, are never about deserving, they are about bringing us closer to Him. Accepting His love. That’s my goal for this week, that and trusting in His plan for my life. No matter what happens, I can get through it when God has my back.

God bless and have a safe and healthy week.

Meredith

Who’s to Judge?

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I don’t think that I am alone when I say that I can often times be my biggest critic. As a writer it can be hard to learn to let go of a piece of writing and say that it is “good” enough. I’m even more critical of my lack of patience, quick temper, lack of will power. And don’t you find that in those times when we feel the most out of control in our own lives, those are the times we tend to be the most critical of others? As the Covid-19 pandemic follows us into the new year, we judge people for their use or non use of masks, social distancing, willingness to get the vaccine. Sometimes it feels as if our days are filled with nothing but continuous opportunities to pass judgement – on others and ourselves.

Yesterday was not a fabulous day for me. I’m definitely feeling the pressure of packing up our house over the next month for a move and worrying if the new house will be ready. Sometimes I just feel so frustrated by the limitations we are all living under; about not be able to just live my life and get stuff done. I hate it when I feel that way. I hate the way it makes me aware of the darkness in my soul when I give in to my anger and frustration. Remember that whole judgement thing I was talking about…

One of my goals for this year is to get back to reading my Bible daily. I sat down this morning and looked at it – five different sticky notes projecting from the top – unable to decide where to begin. My favorite gospel is that of John. It feels as if it was written by someone who knew Jesus intimately – who loved him and just wanted to share the “good news”. Here’s what I read almost immediately: “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. John 8:50

But as soon as I read this I though, WAIT! this is a contradiction to something I remembered reading last week. So I went back through my notes and found this: “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son” John 5:22

Jesus said both of these things and it got me to thinking…he’s telling us in John 8 that God is the judge, but he has also told us that God judges no one. Think about that, a judge who has far more right to pass judgement upon us than anyone on this earth, including ourselves… who judges no one.

So many times in the past religion has been used as a weapon to control people, to make them feel shamed into believing. But Jesus is telling us here that God our Father judges no one. I’m not saying that I believe that means you can go ahead and do bad things without recourse. Jesus goes on to say in John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” But the solution to judgement is so simple – it’s just belief. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned;John 5:24

We need to be kinder to ourselves. God doesn’t need us to be perfect or without flaws or sin, he took care of that when he sent his only son to die for us. He doesn’t want to judge us – he only wants to love us. All we need to do is accept the gift of his love.

I need to be kinder to myself. I’m human, I’m going to have good days and bad days. There are days I’m going to scream at my kids and fight with my husband. There are days when I’m going to be rude to a stranger, not because of anything they have done, but because of where I’m at. I am as far from a perfect person as it is possible to be…thank you God that you don’t need me to be perfect to love me.

I hope and pray that each of us have a day where we are kind to ourselves. That we have a day where we allow God’s love to fill our hearts with peace and joy and wash away the judgement and self-doubt that darkens our souls.

God bless,

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

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

BE JOYFUL IN HOPE.

In these rapidly changing, and challenging times I’m sure we’ve all had them; days when we give into our fear, and despondency.  Yesterday, we learned that our industry is coming to a standstill, like so many others.  It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when this global emergency comes to an end.  Yesterday was not my finest day.  I felt anxious and tense; and I ran into one disaster after another – including dinner.  Sigh.  So, last night as I lay in bed I reached out to God, just as I quoted from Lamentations yesterday; I cried out to him from the pit, and I fell asleep confident that he heard my cry.

This morning I was reading Roman 12 & 13.  And I’m going to share a few verses with you that helped me.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:13.  These were words I needed to hear.  This was the verse I meditated on this morning.

And as provinces and states are shutting down and declaring states of emergency, I felt this verse to be helpful.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  Romans 13:1

I know I personally have railed against the increasingly stringent measure that are being put into place to keep us all safe.  But reading this verse reminds me that I should instead be praying for “the authorities…God’s servants who gave their time to governing.” Romans 13:6

With everything that is happening it is so easy to lose sight of where I need to keep my focus.  I want to go through today, and these next few weeks, and perhaps months, holding fast to this mantra;  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

God is good, and I KNOW that he will use this situation to his glory.

If you have a prayer request, please feel free to reach out and I would be happy to pray for you.

God bless, stay safe and don’t forget to check out today’s reading from John.

Meredith

THE ROAD BACK – PART TWO

Yesterday I talked a bit about my crisis of faith, and feeling as if I had let down God.  I wish that I was one of those people who just walked a path of faith that was straight and narrow with bright lights, and I never wavered.  Apparently that’s not how I was made.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe your relationship with God ebbs and flows.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with his love, and the certainty that you are loved by him.  Sometimes all you can feel is darkness, and the weight of oppression pushing you down.

I promised yesterday that I would talk about the new insight God shared with me about my own feelings of guilt, and unworthiness.  Would it surprise you if I told you it came from the introduction to the book of Job in my bible?  If you are not familiar with the book of Job it goes something like this:  God and Satan are having a discussion, and God invites Satan to “consider my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8  Satan suggests that Job is only faithful because God has blessed him so greatly.  God then allows Satan to take everything from Job, first his family and wealth, and then eventually his health.  Throughout much of the book Job believes God is punishing him unjustly for a sin(s) he has not committed and he angrily demands that God allow him to defend himself, but NEVER does he curse God as Satan suggests he will.  At the end of the book Job faithfulness is rewarded, he is restored to health and everything he lost is given back to him, twice as much.

That was a long way of getting to my point. At the beginning of this book the following  explanation is given  “The relationship between God and man is not exclusive and closed.  A third party intrudes, the great adversary.  This adversary or tempter seeks to alienate man from God; as accuser (one of the names by which he is called, śatan means “accuser”) he seeks to alienate God from man.  His all-consuming purpose is to drive an irremovable wedge between God and man, to effect an alienation that cannot be reconciled.  Can you see why this explanation was EXACTLY the wisdom I needed to hear?  When I “accuse” myself before God, when I tell myself I am not good enough or I’m not doing enough, I am doing the work of God’s adversary.  I am allowing an “accusation” that I level at myself to drive a wedge between me and my Heavenly Father – to alienate me from God.

Now, pair that with Romans Chapter 7 which I also happened to be reading that day.  In this chapter, Paul – the guy who wrote 14 of the 27 “chapters” or “books” of the New Testament – that same Paul who encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus; Paul wrote this: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”  Romans 7:18-19

THAT IS ME!!!  I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that exact way, and if God’s hand-picked messenger Paul can feel this way, then I have hope.  It was this that helped me to understand more fully, more clearly, more deeply the meaning of the gift that Jesus offers each and everyone of us.  The gift that I needed to open my hand to accept…Freedom from condemnation.  And in fact Paul states this very fact in the first verse of Chapter 8.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

So there it is.  I allow the great adversary, Satan, the devil, whatever you want to call him, into my life when I accuse myself before God.  It is not God who is pulling away from me, but rather the very opposite, I am separating myself from Him.  One of my favorite bible verses is 1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

When we accuse ourselves we are acting in fear; fear of not being good enough, of not being loved.  Whatever it is; that fear, that accusation you are directing at yourself – recognize that it is a wedge being used to separate you from God’s perfect love.  A love that has no condemnation.

On Monday let’s talk about how this truth brought me back to blogging, and where I go from here.  Today, I pray that God blesses you so that you may walk through your day free from fear, basking in the certainty and warmth of his perfect love.

Meredith

Going “All In”

It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged.  Mostly this is because I have been focusing a lot of my time, and energy on promoting my newest project, THE BOOK OF RUTH, which launched on Kickstarter November 1st and wraps up November 30.

It’s definitely been an up and down month for me.  It was so easy two years ago when I felt God “calling” me to do this book.  I remember listening to the Matthew West song “All In”.  Strange that it would be so easy to take a risk and been all in at the beginning.  But then I guess at that point I haven’t really risked anything from a financial, or time point of view.  Now that we are so close to the finish line.  Now that I have put so much of myself into this project, I suddenly find myself doubting God’s commitment.

I’ve been reading the book of Matthew this week, specifically chapters 17 & 18.  In Chapter 17: 20 Jesus heals a demon possessed boy that his disciples had failed to heal.  When they ask him why they couldn’t drive out the demon he replies Because you have so little faith.  I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  I feel as if he’s talking to me. Because there have been times over this past week specifically that I have felt as if my faith was too small.  I keep asking for help and praying to God, but I don’t even know what to pray for. I’m so conflicted.

David and I have been so blessed.  Maybe the point of the blessings is to pay it forward.  To put out this book without counting about the cost. But I’m human, and working in comics you don’t have a pension plan.  And I want this book to be successful. I want people to see it and love it and get behind it.  I want that validation.   (You see why I’m struggling)

And then today I read this verse in Matthew 18:19  “Again, I tell you  that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  I was inclined to dismiss this and focus on other parts of that reading focusing on the children, but then it appeared again.  Isaac and I were doing his daily devotions.  We read Acts 10:44-48 and Acts 12:1-10.  This is the conclusion of the story of Peter and Cornelius and the story of the angel of God freeing Peter from prison.  And there is was, at the end of this devotion, the verse of the day – Matthew 18:19.

So today I’m putting it out to you.  The people who read my blog.  I’m not asking for you to pray for a successful Kickstarter.  But I am asking that you pray for this book that God has called me to write.  That he uses it for his plan (whatever that may be)and that he helps me to have faith (even if it’s as small as a mustard seed).  I’m asking that you pray for me to have my “all-in” faith in God’s plan renewed.

Thank you to everyone who reads this and God bless.

Meredith

THE POWER OF FAITH

Have you ever felt God put a calling in your heart?  Did you follow through on it?

Sometimes it takes a long time for those callings to manifest themselves.  For me, it has taken years.  I have said before that, when I first started writing comics, I felt God put a calling in my heart to adapt The Book of Ruth into comic book form.  It was one of those, “some day you are going to do this” type of things.  I carried that calling in my heart for many years, before I really felt that the time was “now”.

It’s funny how when you starting answering a calling, you have this mind set, or at least I certainly did, that you are doing something for God.  You know when Paul calls us to “resist the temptation to act as if we are righteous, especially by leaning on our good works”… yep!

It’s easy to start making plans and forget who, and what you are doing something for.  But, if you can keep your focus on God, trusting in His plan for you and your calling, the strangest thing begins to happen; or at least for me.  I came to the realization that this thing God had called me to do.  This thing that I was “doing” for God…it was actually something God was doing for me.

Maybe to some of you this is nothing new, but for me this is news!!!  The more I have worked on “The Book of Ruth”, the more I have poured myself into God’s plan; trusting Him, and turning it over to Him…the more I have found myself being blessed by the very thing I was supposed to be doing for God.  We have it all wrong, or I certainly did.  When God puts a calling in our hearts it’s because He has a blessing that He wants to share with us not because there’s something we can do for him.   But the only way that He can do that is if, and when we listen to Him.

I feel grateful and blessed that our God is forgiving, and willing to overlook my arrogance. (What could I possibly do for the God who created the heavens and earth?)  God stuck with me, He showed me the truth, and He brought me to the place where I am now; joyous gratitude.  What calling has God put into your heart today?  What blessing is he trying to share with you?

This song has really been my mantra since launching The Book of Ruth on Kickstarter and so I wanted to share it with you today.

God bless,

Meredith