Shhhh! It’s A Secret!

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Meredith

What’s The Point?

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

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

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

God bless,

Meredith

The Un-Facebook Version of Me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you all, have faith, be brave.

Meredith

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

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

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

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

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

Just believe.

God bless,

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

An Object in Motion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one who calls you is faithful…”

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

God bless,

Meredith

 

Seek and Ye Shall Find.

I would have said that I’m not a person who asks for help easily, except that Hayden broke me of that pride 18 years ago, and just in case I was getting cocky, God reminded me earlier this year that it is okay to let your husband tie a lop-sided ponytail in your hair, because it is done with love.

Yet here I am, in a situation where I am about to ask thousands of people for help…to support something that I believe in.  Maybe it shouldn’t be, but it feels like a tough ask.  The logical part of my brain says that a Kickstarter is a really great way to generate buzz and interest in a project that might otherwise slide under the radar.  But sitting down and having to answer questions about my project goal, that’s a tough one.  And I think the hardest part of it is that in my heart, I would do this for nothing.  I wrote this book because I felt called to do it.  Even now, writing this, I don’t want to sound like a martyr.  I have found such love and such joy from my faith. And that’s really what the Book of Ruth is about…it’s a story of one woman’s unfailing faith.

I keep praying for guidance about how to approach this project.  Today I received support from a very respected and valued peer.  God is using other’s, he’s using you, my blog readers to lift me up and encourage me…and as I write this, I feel as He is also finally giving me the answer to my question.

God is so good.  Always.  Trust Him with your questions and believe that He will give you the answer, even if it’s not always what you might expect, just as He did for me tonight.

God bless you!

Meredith

You Have to Knock.

September has arrived and school is back in session.  For me that means Isaac and I are sitting down to our first full year of home schooling.  He’s in grade six now and I’ve decided this year to assign blocks of time and then anything he doesn’t get done in that block means he has homework, if he gets done early, it’s free time.  So far it seems to be working.  I definitely feel less pressure to get through things quickly.

I think in one of my last blog posts I talked about God lighting up the way like a runway.  As if to confirm that for me, over the last week I have had several experiences in which God placed huge “This is the right decision to make” signs in front of me.

I was sharing these experiences with a loved one and they responded that they had never really received those types of signs.  And then we started talking about whether or not God plays favorites.  I think that the obvious answer to that question is no.  But it’s similar to discussions I’ve had with my priest about whether everyone gets into heaven.  I’ll share his analogy.  In your own home, when a stranger knocks on your door do you invite them in?  Sit down to dinner with them?  Or is that invitation reserved for those who you know intimately and who know you?

I actually believe that God has already invited everyone in for dinner.  And that he keeps a basket of gifts beside the door that he is just waiting to shower us with.  The problem is not that God won’t invite us in, it’s more that we can’t bring ourselves to walk up and knock on the door.  We allow fear and doubt to get in our way.  We listen to others who tell us that God doesn’t exist, instead of listening to the truth in our heart.

And here’s the thing, the more you knock on that door, the more you sit down and spend time with God, have a conversation with him, the more you allow him to give you those gifts that he is keeping for you.  It’s not that God plays favorites, he loves every single one of us exactly the same amount.  Jesus says that he will leave the 99 to find the 1 lost sheep.  But that sheep has to want to be found.  God will get down on his knees for you.  He will sacrifice his only son for you.  He will spend the entirety of your life calling out to you, but you have free will, you have to decide for yourself to answer that invitation.  You have to decide to walk up to that door and knock.  And if you do, the next time a friend shares a story of God’s blessings and gifts in their lives, you’ll have a story to share too.

God bless,

Meredith