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

Careless Words

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:34

Several times this month I have found a passage in my readings that speaks to me and then brings me to a new understanding of some of the readings we repeat each Sunday as a part of our service and where they come from.  This one today hit home particularly for me because this month I found myself lashing out at my family.  Fall is always a difficult time for me as the days grow shorter.  But for some reason, this year I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed.  Even the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning have, at times, felt like mountains to climb.   And those feelings I have nurtured in my heart, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration, have of course flowed out of my heart via my mouth to hurt the ones I love.

This morning as I prayed on this verse and asked for God’s help, I found myself repeating familiar words…“cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy spirit that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name, through Christ our Lord”.

This verse comes from the Collect for Purity and is a part of our Anglican service every Sunday.    The entire collect goes like this; Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I can only think that this collect was directly inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew in recognition of the struggles we all face; to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, so that it is the good stored inside us that comes out of our mouths, and not the evil.

I will continue to pray that my heart be cleansed so that when I am called to give an account for the words I have spoken, the good far outweighs the evil, in Jesus’ name.  Amen

God bless,

Meredith

Strange Days

It has been the most bizarre, and truly wacky week in the Finch household.  It feels like everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong – but not in a crisis way, more like an “I’m going to get under your skin and slowly drive you nuts” kind of way.  And yet, at the same time, things have crazily been working out for us in those moments too.  Here are a few examples.

Dave drives the truck to lunch with his good friend on Thursday.  When they are leaving he notices that the front plate under the bumper is hanging off of the truck on one side in a “not safe to drive, might fall off half way home” kind of way.  It just so happens that on that day, Dave’s friend brought along his father-in-law who Macgyver’s that thing back on with a special knot and a phone charging cord.

Dave gets home, doesn’t have a key, tries the garage key pad, the battery is dead, all the doors are locked.  He thinks, hey Isaac and his babysitter said they were going for sushi, maybe they are still there…. they were.  And it wasn’t the first thing they did that day.

I dropped my favorite earring down the drain with the water running full blast. I was positive it had been swept away because it was so small and light…opened the trap anyway and there it was.

Everett was extremely late for school, but when we got to the end of our street the normally crazy road we have to make a left hand turn onto was eerily quiet, and that continued the entire trip.

The list doesn’t end here, this week we have killed batteries in cars, had garage door openers not work, broken glasses, chipped plates, dropped food all over the floor – including a head of cauliflower that rolled out of a bag in the middle of the counter and exploded on the floor.  Sure these things happen all the time, but for us they’ve all happened repeatedly over the last six days.  I just keep saying “thank you Lord” every time something, that could have been a bigger inconvenience, becomes something we can laugh about.

This week has been a great reminder for both of us to see the small blessings everywhere in our every day lives.  God is with you through the good times and the bad, even when the bad times aren’t really that bad.  He sees your frustrations, and your struggles ,and he WILL help you; you just have to ask, and then you have to be willing to see him.

God bless,

Meredith

 

What Kind of Person Would I Be?

We all have good days and bad day.  And then sometimes we have days that are complete and total disasters, when we feel completely out of sync with who and what we are.  Yesterday morning was one of those for me.  I could feel the tension as soon as I woke up.  So much to do and not enough time to do it in.  I raced around the house trying to knock things off of my list before settling down with Isaac to begin his school day.  But as I sat there I could still feel the tension in my temples, my clenched jaw.  I was practically vibrating.

Let’s just say that school did not go well and I was less than kind to my sweet, little boy.  Angry word are like toothpaste, you can’t ever take them back.  All you can do is ask for forgiveness.  This morning Isaac and I were talking about our experience yesterday and he reassured me “don’t worry mom, we all have bad days, I forgive you”.  I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated his understanding.  And then, from my sweet little child, came such a brilliant piece of wisdom… “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t forgive you?”  Indeed, Isaac, what kind of a person would you be.  What a special gift he gave me this morning, and with such unconditional love.

And it just reminded me again of the amazing gift we have been given as children of God.  Last night as I lay in bed I felt just awful about my behaviour toward a child that I love and adore.  And though I prayed for forgiveness, I just couldn’t give it to myself.  But Isaac reminded me this morning…to err is human, to forgive divine.  I will always make mistakes no matter how hard I may try to be perfect.  But there is always forgiveness available to me in those times that I fall.  And the biggest lie of all is when we don’t take that forgiveness, offered to us just as Isaac offered it to me this morning, freely, innocently and unconditionally.  When we refuse to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and failings, and lack of perfection we are turning our backs on the most beautiful gift it is possible to receive.

If my child can offer forgiveness so freely, how much more powerful is the forgiveness offered to us by Christ.  Give Him your cares and your burdens and let Him show you how to forgive yourself, just as He has forgiven you; to love yourself as much as He loves you.

God bless,

Meredith

Aimless

This has been such a strange time for me.  The closer I have gotten to launching the Kickstarter for my newest project the harder it has become for me.  I have felt such a sense of doom and fear sitting on my shoulder.  When I started working on The Book of Ruth I had such a sense of purpose, and there were so many times along the way that I felt God’s presence confirming my decision.

But as November 1st has crept closer I have found myself growing more and more uncertain of the reception a clearly christian comic will have in such a super-hero driven industry.  What if we fail?  Anyone who has worked in a creative industry knows how incredibly difficult it is to put out something for the public that you have poured so much of your heart and soul into.  Once the genie is out of the bottle it can never be put back.  You open yourself up to public rejection and criticism in a way that most people will never experience.  I’ve learned not to pay too much attention to it in my comic book writing, but this is different…this matters.  I found myself going through much of the month of October feeling aimless and unfocused.

I remember the night before I found my artist.  I has such a specific look that I wanted for this book and I went to bed feeling dejected, that I would never find the right person.  That night as I lay in bed I put it all in God’s hands.  I truly believed that if this was a project that God had put on my heart to pursue then He would make sure that I found the right person to share this book with.  I wasn’t wrong.  The next morning the very first portfolio I looked at belonged to Colin Dyer.  As I looked at each page I could feel the excitement building.  He was perfect.  It was only later that I leaned just how “perfectly chosen by God” Colin was.  Like me, Colin has a strong faith in God.  He has been such a support to me in those times when I have doubted God’s commitment to our book.

And then this weekend, in the middle of my fear and doubt, something really special happened.  I went to a comic book convention in Memphis, Tennessee.  And as I handed out my The Book of Ruth postcards I got such a positive response.  People wanted to talk about my book, they were excited about it.  And I started to feel their excitement and to be reminded of the sense of certainty I had when I started this project almost two years ago.

Yesterday I started finalizing the dialogue for the first chapter so that we would have something to put out for our Kickstarter.  And, it seems crazy to say it, but I just suddenly felt so blessed that I had the opportunity to publish this book.  I have spent the month of October trying to give my worries and fears up to God.  And finally something in me clicked.  It doesn’t matter if five people read this book or 500,000 people read it.  God called me to do something.  I did it.  Maybe the entire point of this is for me to learn how to put my faith…I mean really put my faith in him.

I know that there will be times in the future when I will struggle.  That’s not just a part of faith, it’s part of life.  But as long as I keep reaching out and asking for help in those hard times, I know that like today, God will help me to see those struggles as blessings.

God bless,

Meredith

 

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