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

YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?

Happy Monday everyone.  If you’ve been following my blog then you know that today I promised I would talk about how rediscovering the truth about how God views his relationship with me, versus how I viewed it, brought me back to blogging.

When I decided to take a break from writing comics, I knew that didn’t necessarily mean that I would be taking a break from writing.  My first and most obvious thought was that I would become a blogger.  Now to be fair, I’m not sure I’m built to be the type of blogger that has a bunch of links to stuff you can buy and pictures all over the place.  That’s  not a condemnation of those people who do that, it’s just a recognition of the fact that that  isn’t really me.   So great, I’m going to blog on a regular basis.  The only problem…I had nothing to blog about.  Because I wasn’t in a good place in my relationship with God I literally couldn’t write about God.  There was silence in my head and in my heart.

Fast forward a couple of months, to the time I wrote about in The Road Back – Part One.  I can’t remember if it was the same day, or the next day, but very soon after I really came to the place I needed to be, in my head and in my heart I got a message through Facebook.  “Meredith, I’ve been missing your blog posts…I hope you get back to doing them again soon.”  And no sooner had I posted The Road Back then I had more people reaching out telling me how much they enjoy the blog, and sharing how God had used me to speak to them. I absolutely took this as reassurance from God that I was back where I needed to be, doing what He needed me to be doing.

So where do we go from here?  Something that has struck me recently is how difficult it seems to be, even for professed Christians, for people to pick up or open, and read the Bible. Personally I want to know more about this person, Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of my faith.  I want to know more about the God I’m worshiping, and in fact, it is only through reading my Bible that I have found my relationship with God changing and deepening.  A good friend of mine told me that each day he reads his Bible he feels as if the trajectory of his day is shifted, even slightly, to the better.  Similarly, on the days he skips or forgets, maybe it moves a few degrees in the opposite direction.

Maybe you don’t have a bible. Maybe you don’t know where to start. I thought I would put a link up on my blog and share what I read each and how I do my bible study.  Maybe it will work for you, maybe it will start you on a path that works for you.  But if I’m going to write this blog, I also want to share a book that, while some might find intimidating to start, is filled with so much hope and love once you dive in.  Please note that I an NOT a biblical scholar, or priest or pastor.  I’m just a person like you, sharing what I think, in the hope that God will show you a truth that speaks to your heart.  So watch for that link to appear at the top of my blog in the next few days.  Meanwhile I’ll keep doing this too; talking about my faith and how I’m learning and growing in it.

Today I’m going to leave you with a few verses from my reading of Lamentations yesterday that I found uplifting in these challenging times.

“I called on your name, O Lord from the depths of the pit.  You heard my plea; Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.   You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”    Lamentations 3:55-57

I pray that God watches over each of you today and keeps you safe and strong and free from fear.  Trust in Him.

God bless you,

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

THE ROAD BACK – PART ONE

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much recently.  I think it’s fair to say that I went through a period of time during which I very seriously questioned what I was doing as a writer.  I write these next words to share my experience and I genuinely ask that you not respond by telling me how you feel about me as a writer (good or bad).  I’m sharing this story because I believe that part of the appeal of this blog is that I share my faith journey, through it’s ups and downs, openly and honestly.

For the past six years I have been pursing a writing career in comics.  I am not naturally a person to put myself forward, believing that the quality, or lack there of, determines the demand for your work.  I think that it is fair to say that my career in comics has been moderately successful. I’ve written Wonder Woman, Conan, my own comics.  But throughout this experience, while I strongly believe my work has an emotional appeal, I have never really been the type of writer that companies clamor for.  That’s okay.  But what I began to feel recently, was that perhaps writing comics wasn’t a road God intended me to walk forever.  But if I wasn’t writing comics, what was I?

I’ve struggled with my decision to walk away, to retire from writing comics, even as I’ve told myself that the time, and energy I had previously devoted to it was now being directed toward homeschooling our youngest.  But, I loved writing THE BOOK OF RUTH.  I mean I really, REALLY loved writing it.  I loved it so much I initially thought I would do another one right afterward…initially.  But after the Kickstarter was over, and I looked at the overall financial cost of putting out my own comic, there began to be a part of me that felt as if God had let me down. Hadn’t I put myself out there? Hadn’t I written material that was faith based?  Promoted it? Found a publisher for it?  Absolutely I raised an amazing amount from Kickstarter and Indigogo (and I feel so blessed, and so much gratitude to my backers), but I had still funded a significant portion of that book from my own pocket?  I simply couldn’t afford to keep writing comics like that.  I was ready and willing to serve, to put his word out there.  Couldn’t He help me out a little? At least help me to break even, so I could do another one?

Anyone who’s ridden on that roller coaster knows that feeling like God has let you down is the upside. The questioning and worry about letting him down is the long drop to the bottom.

I spent several months going through the motions, reading my bible, saying my prayers half-heartedly.  Even listening to music didn’t lift my heart like it used to.  I was walking through a spiritual valley.  So how did I get out?  And where am I now?

Some of you may have read my post last week about realizing I needed to open my hand to accept the gift God was offering me.  Even then I still was only beginning to get to the place I needed to be, to the place God needed me to be.  This past weekend I felt as if I was spinning at 100 miles an hour, so frustrated, and pent up, and lost. And, I felt with all my lashing out, and anger at my loved ones, and those around me that I must be a huge disappointment to God.  How far had I fallen from the woman who had danced through hallways with songs of praise in her heart months earlier?

Church for us, as for many people, was cancelled on Sunday.  I raced through my bible reading that morning hating myself, and the way I was feeling to such an extent that I just wanted to loose myself in the internet.  But as I opened my browser to check my Pinterest, I found myself typing something entirely different.  You’ll get lots of blogs and posts if you type in disappointing God.  I fully believe that posts I found were absolutely the ones I needed to read to put me back on the right path.  I also believe that you have to be in a place where you are “open” – last week’s post – to receive what you are going to read or hear.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you the new insight God gave into my feelings of self-doubt, and why I’m back blogging again.

Have an amazing day knowing that you are a child of God and He will care for you, just as you would care for, and watch over your own children.

God bless.

Meredith

 

 

 

I Surrender

It’s a tough balancing act; being active in your own life, and trusting in God, and it’s one I’ve been struggling with lately.  I have all these plans about what should happen, and how things should go, and I want to make sure I do my part, because I do believe that God expects us to work hard. But I think where I have fallen down, where I have become confused, is in the aftermath of the work.  I’ve tried to control what happens when the work God has given me is complete, and no longer solely mine.  I haven’t trusted Him to do what needs to be done, or at least what I think needs to be done.

It’s in these attempts to take control over aspects of our lives, aspects over which we really should have no expectation of control, that we begin to feel a distancing from God; or at least I have.  Each day I continue to read my bible, to pray, to reach out, but I know that there is something between us, something interfering in my relationship.  I’ve written before about how easily I slip into the “I’ve done something wrong” mindset, and this time has been no exception.  I have wracked my brain, examined my life, tried to figure out what I’m doing, or not doing, that has disappointed God, that has caused him to pull away from me.

Today I was reading Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 4, and these words stood out; “it was credited to him by faith”, “righteousness that comes by faith”  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Paul writes often about being “justified by faith” and it was these words that I felt held the key to what I was missing.  Was it simply that my faith was not…enough?

I did some research and found one website that provided my epiphany (see the link below if you want to read the full article).  I’ll share here the points that I wrote down:

“God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him which is believed.”   Richard Hooker (A Discourse of Justification)

It is the acceptance of the guilty by reason of a Trusted Christ”

Divine welcome of the guilty as if they were not guilty by reliance upon Jesus Christ”

“Surrender is not the price paid for peace – it is the open hand necessary to appropriate the gift of it.”

Can you see what I was doing wrong?  Those times that I feel most connected to my heavenly Father are the times that I step back and “surrender” all aspects of my life to Him.  They are the moments when I “rely” upon him.  I had closed my hand and was no longer able to offer the gift that He was continuing to hold out to me.  Peace.  It is so easy to forget this in a world where we can have the illusion of control over everything.  I can schedule when I’m going to pick up my groceries, how quickly my packages arrive, haircuts, appointments…I can even do it all from my phone!  Sure, I can acknowledge that there are things over which I have no control – other cars on the road, sickness, death.  But it’s hard to let go of control over the things that are closest to you, that are a part of you, like your kids, and for me, my work.  But I guess the point God wanted me to realize, the point I finally got today (but am sure I’ll need reminders of) is that once you’ve done the work, raised the kids, once you send them out into the world…that is the time when it is the most important to trust God, to trust in His plan for you, for your children, for your life.

So today I surrender.  I have done my best, I have done what I felt God called me to do, and now it’s time to let it go.  To sit back, and relax, and trust in his plan.  I’m opening my hand to accept the peace that comes from surrendering myself and my life to “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” Romans 4:17

Here’s the link for any of you who would like to read the full article.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/torrey_ra/fundamentals/48.cfm

And I think this song by Carrie Underwood says it all.

God bless,

Meredith

What are you giving?

Most days, as part of our school day, Isaac and I do a bible study or devotional.  Recently we read Genesis 4:1-7.  It’s the story of Cain and Abel.  In the scripture it reads “Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord.  Abel too, brought an offering: the first-born lamb of one of his sheep.”

Prior to reading this scripture I had been struggling, reaching out to God, but feeling as if I was being held at an arms length.  But, as I read it with Isaac, one word stood out as if it was written in neon letters…”some”.  Cain brought “some” of his harvest and gave it to the Lord.  And if you know the story, then you know that his offering was found to be lacking.  It was lacking to such an extent that the Lord refused to accept it.

How many times have I come before the Lord with “some” of me.  How many times have I read my bible, gone to church, or prayed as a part of my routine, and not from my heart.  God was giving me a message – loud and clear.  He doesn’t want my half-hearted measures – he wants ALL of me!  My feelings of distance and being kept at arms length suddenly made so much sense.

Absolutely I believe that God wants a relationship with all of us.  But I also feel as if at some point in the development of that relationship he calls us to step up.  We can’t hold anything back from God.  He wants us to acknowledge that everything we have comes from him.  That’s what Abel did.  That is the reason that his offering was acceptable and Cain’s wasn’t.  Abel said “look at this beautiful, first-born lamb.  If not for God, I would not have this blessing.  I will, I must give it to him.”  In contrast, Cain said “I worked hard for all of this food, I gave the sweat off  my brow, the ache in my back.  I’ll give something of what I have earned to God because I should.

How many times in my own life can I see Abel?  How many more times do I see Cain? God wants to fill our lives with blessings.  It is part of the reason Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”  But we also need to surrender our pride, our insistence on self-reliance and acknowledge that truly “all things come of thee, and of thine own, have we given thee.”

The world of 2020 wants you to believe that you are responsible for you.  But I want you to pause for a moment and consider the idea that a worldly view, puts you in Cain’s position.  You’ve heard the quote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift––that is why it is called the present.”  Each day is indeed a gift – from our Lord and when we come to him…when I come to him, I want to come to him like Abel…appreciating his blessings and giving him my very best.

This week Isaac and I have tried to keep the idea of giving God our best as our focus, and I think that it has brought each of us into a closer communion with him.  Are you giving God the best you have to offer?

God bless!

Meredith