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.

Put Another Log on the Fire.

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“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

I needed this exact Bible verse today. There is so much going on in the world, so much “noise” and, while I do my very best to tune it out, sometimes it pushes its way into my life. Fear, uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, it can be so hard to let go of the world, and worrying about the future, especially that of my children.

Even though I know in my heart that God is with me, at all times and in all ways, it helps to be reminded of that. Reading the Bible for me is like putting another log on the fire of my faith. It keeps it burning, it reminds me of God’s promises. That He is with me. There has never been a time when I have turned to him seeking his peace in a time of anxiety that he has not provided. God has filled my life with blessings and constant reminders of his presence, but even still I need to be reassured. I need verses like the one above.

It’s so easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in the noise of the world. In those moments, there is nothing we need more than to know that God is singing over us. That we can turn to him and find peace. If you are struggling today, I hope and pray that this verse for you is a log on the fire of your faith.

God bless,

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

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

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