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

It’s Supposed To Be Personalized!

I don’t think it would be fair to say that I have had a crisis of faith lately.  I think it would be better phrased if I said that I had started questioning some of the things that I had held onto as core beliefs.  “How did that happen?” you might ask.  It seems almost counter-intuitive, but I have come to understand that it is much easier for your faith to be undermined from within.

A few months back I signed up to get daily emails from a Christian website.  Some of the emails I really enjoyed and got something out of.  Sure I still read my bible every day, but, as much as I wanted them to deepen my understanding, maybe on some level, I looked for them to be a “fast-food” means of increasing my knowledge of God.  A post about Christian mystics got me really questioning the reality of the experiences I felt that I had with God.  But the one that really sent me over the edge was the one that tried to explain why not all believers will be recognized by Jesus.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now I’m not saying that these posts didn’t have value.  What I am saying is that they didn’t have value for me.  Perhaps I wasn’t ready spiritually for their message.

But there I was, questioning God and my relationship with him, feeling uncomfortable in my heart with the things I had been reading.  So I thought back to some of the books I have read that truly made me feel as if I had gained a real understanding of God; C.S. Lewis and J.I.Packer.  Ultimately I ended up on Packer and and started reading his book KNOWING GOD. I wasn’t a chapter into it before I felt the rightness of the message within the book.  It fed me.  I hadn’t realized until that moment that I had been starving.

So what’s my point here?  I am absolutely not condemning the daily devotional that I had been getting, but I had to recognize that instead of feeding ME, it was putting distance between me and God.  And I am always brought back to the word Jesus uses to describe God, the word that we use to identify him withing the Trinity…God THE FATHER.  I am a child of God and I think he parents us much like we parent our own children – there is a different set of rules and instructions for each of us.  Ultimately it is for each of us to find our own way – and it is for no one to tell us our path is wrong if we are following it with an honest and earnest heart, bent upon knowing and loving our Lord.  If God has called us to be his children, will He not also show us the way?

I know that going forward, if it isn’t bringing me to a new understanding, and is instead pushing me farther from, instead of closer to God, then that isn’t the resource for me.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else, though.  Perhaps Jesus tells us the the road we walk will be a difficult one because it is one that we must each forge ourselves.

God bless,

Meredith