Quick! Grab a Brochure!!!

I’m in a bit of a quandary today in regards to what I am going to write about.  I initially thought I would write about all the blessings of our vacation, but I also had an epiphany this afternoon about work so…. we’ll just see where the Spirit leads me.

First let me say that the most important thing I took along on our recent trip to Germany was Jesus.  Not a single day went by when I did not look at Dave and say “thank you, Jesus”.  Not. One. Single. Day.  But there is one day in particular that stands out for me.  We were in Strasbourg, France.  We had gotten up early for the second day in a row because we had a four hour drive ahead of us.  We were all physically weary from our previous three days of constant stair climbing and many kilometers of walking.  And Strasbourg, like many old cities in Europe…not the easiest to drive around in.

That being said we made it to our hotel as scheduled and then headed out for lunch.  For each city we planned on visiting I had prepared an itinerary.  Strasbourg was no exception.  We wanted to see Little France, including the Ponts Courverts and Barrage Vauban.  And we definitely needed to see the Cathedral.  Here’s where God’s care for us comes into it.

While we were in Germany.  Many, many people asked us about our plans.  As I was talking about it with one fellow, he said he lived in Strasbourg and that we absolutely had to eat at La Corde A Linge.  I googled it and it looked perfect, great wine for us and hamburgers for Isaac.  A few nights later I called to make a reservation.  They were full, but she said we should come anyway because they would still be able to seat us.  I asked her the best time and her recommendation was 7-7:30.

Fast forward a couple of days and here we are, newly arrived in Strasbourg, tired and hungry.  I knew that we would never last until 7:00 for dinner, so knowing the restaurant was open for lunch I suggested we make it a lunch destination instead. We had time to figure out dinner later.  The patio was huge.  Easily upward of 50 tables.  We waited several minutes for a table but eventually were seated at the very edge of the patio closest to the street.  (THIS IS AN IMPORTANT FACT).

So we are sitting, I’m enjoying a glass of wine, enjoying the atmosphere, when all of a sudden I see coming toward me… a little electric train filled with tourists.  It literally drives right beside our table.  I could almost reach out and touch it… almost.  Then it  strikes me that it would be a lot of fun for Isaac (he loves trains).  At this point the train is right beside me and I can see a brochure on the side of the train facing us.  I struggle to get out of my chair, but between my hip and the flagstones, there is no way I am going to get out of my chair on time.  I shout at Everett who is the next closest to “Quick! Grab a brochure!”  He, like the teenager he is, looks up from his phone with disdain, his expression… Really Mom?  And just like that the train is past us and he’s not chasing it.  The moment has passed.

Half an hour later, we’re eating our food and what do I see?  Everett like the great kid he is, immediately, but like, in a super cool way, gets up, snags a brochure and we’re set.

Are you ready for it?  The trains ran every half hour from… Notre Dame Cathedral… you know the one we wanted to visit.  And every stop we wanted to see…and more…were on the trip.  Since they were all stops you can only see from the outside, the train could not have been more perfect!

So there it is, my story of God providing for us in Strasbourg.

1. We got the name of a restaurant in Germany, that we couldn’t get reservations at for dinner, so we had lunch there, and out of 50+ tables, we were literally seated at the closest table to the train that, would tour our exhausted bodies all over the city and picked us up from and brought us back to the one place we were actually able and wanted to tour.  You know…God’s house.

Now that would be enough right?  Except that, as we were walking back to our hotel, for a little rest after the train and Cathedral, I decided to check out a few restaurant menus to find a place for dinner.  I looked at a few and everything was okay, but someone would have to compromise. We were almost back to our hotel when somehow we ended off the main street and there right in front of us was a beautiful restaurant with a perfect menu…for EVERYONE!

As we sat there enjoying our dinner that night we could not help but feel fully and completely blessed.  We had been physically exhausted when we got to Strasbourg, and instead of trekking miles over the city to see the sights, we were able to sit back and relax and then enjoy a fantastic meal at the end of our day.

That day was a day that God’s blessings were full and obvious to us, but how many days does he bless us in ways that we aren’t even aware of.

I pray that He gives you days like He gave us, full of blessings and love, days to be enjoyed and grateful for.  God is good.

God bless,

Meredith

P.S.  I guess the work thing is for another time 🙂

The Scouring of My Heart.

For almost as long as I can remember I have thought of myself as tough.  When I was a child I had a few experiences of bullying, but I silently refused to allow them to make me feel badly about myself.  When I made a bad decision as a young adult, I stiffened my spine, and did what I felt needed to be done to rectify the situation.  When I learned that  blindness was only the tip of the iceberg for my first born, I got down on my knees and taught him how to crawl, how to walk, how to sign.  When my first husband left me with a three month old baby and a two year old with special needs, I pulled myself together, went back to school and did what needed to be done.

It really not my intention to give you a litany of all the struggles I’ve faced because, quite frankly, we’ve all had struggles.  The point I want to make here is that while there have been many challenges throughout my life, and even through I might have cried, and cried hard…at some point I picked myself up, took a deep breath and got on with taking care of things.  I’ve become the person people turn to when things fall apart, because I’m strong.  So what happened?

I’ve said before that God is always for us and is always working for our good.  But it has seemed, since my accident, that I can’t stop crying. I try to sing along to a song on the radio and my throat closes up.  I read a verse and the same thing happens to me.  I’ve started feeling as if God is scouring my heart…leaving me raw, exposed, vulnerable.  I can feel myself recoil at the very thought.

Somewhere in my early memories I remember being a child that cried easily.  I feel like I remember being someone who felt big emotions.  Maybe that’s just common in children.  I do know that over the years I have built many, many layers around my heart to protect it.  It’s part of our nature to want to protect ourselves…especially those parts of us that are most vulnerable, like our hearts.

On May 6th I fell off my horse.  I broke my collarbone, my thumb and did some pretty major damage to the ligaments and tendons around my right hip.  Those were all injuries I could feel.  They were injuries I knew about even as I was lying there trying to catch my breath.  But what I didn’t know was that falling off my horse that day would also put a huge crack in the wall I had built around my heart.  A wall that didn’t just protect me by keeping me safe inside…it was a wall that also kept things out.

I was in the car last week listening to my favorite radio station (Klove) when either Natalie Grant or Charlotte Gambill came on and she quoted Proverbs 4:23  “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  Now you might be thinking “EXACTLY! THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING!”  But that really isn’t what I was doing.  I was building a wall around my heart to protect my feelings.  To protect my “wellspring”.  But God didn’t give us feelings and emotions to protect, he gave them to us to share them with those around us. A wellspring is defined as an original and bountiful source of something.  So then you have to ask yourself, I have to ask myself…what do we want our hearts, our wellsprings to be a bountiful source of?

I remember a moment the year I met Dave.  Both of my grandmothers had passed away within months of each other.  I sat on the bottom stair in my house, overwhelmed with such a profound feeling of heartbreak and loss, sobbing as if my heart was breaking, because it was.  But it was at that very moment that I realized that it was only because of the profound love I had for those two incredible women that I was able to actually experience that sense of loss.  That was the moment I knew that I was going to put myself back out there, that I was going to take a chance and open myself up to loving again.  I knew that if I loved openly, and honestly, then any failure was not mine to own, maybe it just wasn’t mean to be.  Not two months later I met the love of my life, David.

It’s only when we let our walls down that great things can happen for us, only when we open ourselves to risk and hurt that we can really find something special.  I didn’t know I had put such a big wall around my heart, but God did and he knew that it was going to take something big to break through it.

So here I sit, and I’m not going to lie, I feel scared, feeling those emotions always there, not tucked down into a nice neat little package, or behind a wall, where I can control them.  But I trust God’s plan and I believe with all of my heart the words of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” 

God broke down the walls around my heart for a reason…I trust that in time he’ll show me why.  But even if he doesn’t, that’s okay, I’m still discovering all the blessings he’s hidden in my fall.

God bless,
Meredith

“A Soft Place to Fall”

I think it was Dr. Phil who coined that phrase in reference to the relationship between spouses.  His philosophy being that every person needs a soft place to fall andyhy, in a married couple, that should be your spouse.

Now, I am incredibly blessed to have that with David.  I can turn into a raving lunatic, I can break down in tears, I can drown myself in a sea of depression; it just doesn’t matter…he loves me in all ways, always.  If you have or have had that relationship with someone in your life them you know what I am talking about.  I have been blessed to live a life surrounded with love, from my parents to my spouse and children and my friends.  God has filled up my cup.

But maybe you don’t have that type of support in your life right now…

I think I’ve been fairly open about my struggles with my faith these past few weeks.  But as much as I have raged at God, as much as I have questioned His existence…in my heart I always know the truth.  In this struggle, in those moments when I feel like I can’t keep doing this, when I just want my life to go back to “normal”… in all those times…God is my soft place to fall, even when I don’t realize it.  God loves me in all ways…always.

We were recently on a trip with some friends and the boys and girls separated to do a little shopping.  No surprise that Dave found his way into an art gallery.  While the boys were perusing, our friend noticed some religious paintings that the artist had done on commission.  The artist’s comment about the pieces was that he really didn’t believe in God, but he has to pay the bills and he asked our friend (who just happens to be a priest) if that bothered him.  And our friend’s reply was ‘yes’ and I love this… our friend said… “If you knew that everyone you met had a treasure buried in their backyard, wouldn’t you want them to dig it up and find it?”  That’s what faith is like when you finally discover it…it’s a treasure, and you want everyone you know to go out and dig it up, and find it…there’s only one problem…they don’t believe you.

I have so many reasons to be grateful.  It makes me ashamed when I feel angry or frustrated…but I’m human.  God made us with emotions for a reason and he doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  In fact, when we fail, when we are angry, or tired, or scared…he wants us to turn to him…he wants to be our soft place to fall.

I’ll admit…I could be a lot better at that sometimes.  But life is a journey, and if I’m going to take this journey, then I’m pretty happy to have the maker of heaven and earth walking beside me, ready to catch me “softly” when I fall.

This song was speaking to me today…maybe God wants you to hear it too.

 

God bless,

Meredith

Falling off a horse…literally!

The past few months have felt increasingly more and more hectic for me.  And as I have felt the responsibilities of home and work pressing in on me I have constantly prayed for God to help.  I felt that I had taken on the tasks He had requested of me and I had faith that He would help me to accomplish them.  I believe that He would give me what I needed.  What I could not have predicted was exactly how He would go about it.

Two weeks ago I had a fairly significant fall off of my horse.  I ended up in the emergency room with a fractured left clavicle and right thumb as well as a significant bruise on my left hip and damage to the ligaments and tendons in my right hip.  I wasn’t capable of supporting my own weight for more than two or three steps.  Now you might be thinking “poor Meredith”.  But all I saw here was a blessing.  Let me explain.

My clavicle fracture was severe enough to require surgery.  So here I am, two weeks after a break, with a left arm that is 80% functional – only because of the way that I broke it.  Since I’m  writing this blog, you can see that off all the things I am not able to do yet, work isn’t one of them.  For a few days it was literally the only thing I could do for myself, and that included getting dressed.

God heard my prayers and he knew that the only way to slow me down, to give me the time I needed, to do what I needed, was to break me.  And he broke me in ways that will heal.  Dave learned how to tie a pony tail.  The boys have been so helpful and friends and family have showered me with love and affection and meals.  My girlfriend even came over and washed my hair.  God gave me a blessing and then he surrounded me with love.

The name of my horse is “By Absolute Faith”.  That is the only way I know now to live my life.  To trust that God loves me, his child and that he will use all things to my benefit.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11. 

I’m walking without a cane now, but it’s slow and still a bit painful. I can tie my own ponytail, wash my hair and dress myself and this weekend I was able to start driving again.  I can do minor household chores, but I still can’t lift anything much heavier than a kettle half-full of water and I get tired more easily.  But this too shall pass and my brain is at 100% which means I can work.  And there are lots of things I don’t have to feel guilty about, like not getting out for a run or working out, or having a perfectly clean house…because I literally can’t do those things yet.  God is good.

So the next time God knocks you off your horse (maybe not literally as in my case) trust that he knows what you need better than you do and that he will work all things for your good.

God bless,

Meredith

More of You

On Tuesday I wrote about feeling overwhelmed and weighed down by my every growing list of obligations and responsibilities.  I also wrote about how much I need to lean on God to help me.  He has given me all of these blessings, not to be a burden, but to use these opportunities to lift him up and he will never give me more than I can handle.

I’m not going to say that I’m feeling less anxious, in fact last night I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and it was suggested that this blog was the first thing that needed to go.  I don’t think that’s part of God’s plan, I get a lot out of writing it.  I’m just going to keep praying for strength and stamina and remembering that these “obligations” are actually blessings and opportunities.  That being said, it does mean that today’s post isn’t going to be a long one but I wanted to share this song with you.  It lifted me up yesterday and reminded me of what is important and I hope it does that for you today as well.

God bless,

Meredith

Giving Of Yourself.

Giving generously of your wealth.  It’s talked about often in the bible; by Jesus and Paul, in the Old Testament and in the New.  But so often we assume that the giving is simply referring to our financial wealth.  Perhaps that’s because money and physical riches have become so important in our consumer driven society.

But in many ways, giving money is one of the easiest ways of giving.  Politicians are constantly throwing money at problems, because it gives the appearance of something happening.  But what if giving of our financial wealth isn’t really what Jesus was talking about?  What if he meant for us to give generously of our truth wealth; our time, our hearts, our talents?  I know for myself, that becomes a much bigger hill to climb.

It never feels as if there are enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.  It’s hard to think about sacrificing the precious few minutes of peace I have.  It’s hard to think about giving more of myself than I already give to my family and friends.  But I think that is really what God is calling us to do.  Or what he is calling me to do.  Because giving generously is personal.  It’s about you finding the gift that God has given you that is hardest for you to share.  Maybe for you it is money.  Maybe it’s your time.  Maybe it’s your talent.  I think this is partly what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24  And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus is speaks of taking care of the poor, he isn’t just referring to those who are poor of wallet, but those who are poor of heart, and mind and spirit.

Where is God calling you to give generously in your life?  Who are the poor he is calling on you to take care of ?

God bless,

Meredith