A Box Full of Kittens.

It feels as if it has been forever since I’ve written anything.  It’s not that things haven’t been happening, but it’s hard to know how to put into words the subtle reminders I get of God’s grace, and plan for my life.  But, I thought I would try with a story about something that has happened in my life recently.  This something only reiterates for me how important it is to trust in Him, to really give my problems and worries up to Him and let Him work His will in your life.

I have been struggling with a situation in my life that has been looming over me and causing me quite a bit of stress and not stress at the same time, because the solution I ultimately came to was; something that makes me feel bad about myself, probably isn’t good for me to have in my life.  I prayed about this particular situation quite a bit, and in recognition of my goal to let go of misplaced feelings of guilt for 2019, I had basically put it into a box and moved on.

But as I’m sure you are all aware.  You can put something into a box all you want.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to stay there.  And of course, my box popped open and I was again faced with the stress and confusion of this particular situation.  I just sat there feeling like I really didn’t know how I was going to handle it.  But each day, since I put that monster in it’s box, I spent time in prayer and reading and meditation.  And guess what? God responded.  My bible readings were about trust, my devotionals were about trust and almost every single quote that came up on my daily bible app was about trust.  Here’s an example…

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

or how about this…

For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

God heard my prayers, and reassured me with his presence, and his word that I didn’t need to worry.  He had it.  With the confidence that I believe can only come from the faith of knowing that your Father in heaven has your back and only wants what is good for you, I prepared myself to face the contents of my box.  And what did I find when I opened it?

The great big scary monster I anticipated facing, was a sweet little kitten.  I trusted in God, I put my faith in Him, and in His time, in His way, he fought my monster for me, and there was nothing left for me to face but love.

God is good, and if you can find it in yourself to give him your box, you might find that he’s more than capable of turning your monsters into kittens too.  Or chocolate…whatever works for you.

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

So Good to Me

I’m stealing the title of a Zack Williams song tonight for my blog because I can’t come up with any better way to saying how I feel.

January has been a month of crossroads and revelations for me personally and, I think, in some ways for our family as well.  This month I have had to make difficult decisions about some of my personal relationships. This month I have struggled with a wavering belief in my own sense of competency.  This month I have been faced with choices of motherhood or career.

But this month, as I promised myself I would, I persevered in my faith.  In times where I felt distant from God, I didn’t lay blame…not on myself, or on God.  In times when I felt low, I focused on my heavenly Father.  I stuck to my daily bible study of praise and  repeating and believing in my heart the idea and mantra, “Praise the Lord, O my soul.”    And, as he promised I would, in his time, I can clearly see God’s work in my life over the last month.

I can honestly say that January is a month in which I’ve had to made difficult decisions, but I have done them with a prayerful heart, filled with thanksgiving for the blessings God has given me.  And today God revealed how he has been working for me, even when I was unaware.  God is so good…so good to me.

If you are reading this blog and thinking to yourself, I know exactly how you feel, Meredith, then I am so thankful that you have come to know our Lord.  But if you are reading this and wishing that you could have this too; this knowledge, this certainty that God is working in your heart, in your life…then tonight is the night I tell you that you absolutely can.  You aren’t joining a cult, you aren’t going to lose who and what you are and you definitely don’t need to be afraid.  Fear is evil’s way of keeping you from knowing God.

If you want to know the certainty that I have experienced this month, then I give you Romans 8:31.  “What then shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  WHO CAN BE AGAINST US!!!  God is for all of us.  For you and for me.  He is just waiting for you to open the door of your heart and invite him in.

God bless,

Meredith   (Here is the audio track for that Zack Williams song below)

Does God want you to be happy?

Do you ever notice that God has a bit of a bad rap in some circles.  So many people think of God and religion in the same way.  They believe that a life lived for God must be restrictive and boring.  Or even worse, the only things they’ve ever heard about God are full of fire and brimstone, and presented as a way to scare them into believing.  “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is a hand!”

My first experience with God was very similar to that.  I wanted to be a Christian because I didn’t want to go to hell.  But can anything that comes of fear be good or lasting?  Is that really the message Jesus preached?

If you’ve been reading this blog, then you know I always bring everything back to my own experience as a parent.  Would I rather my children behaved well because we share a mutual love and appreciation for each other, or because they are afraid of my punishments and reprisals?

It makes me sad when I see God’s message distorted to scare people (because I absolutely believe it is a distortion).  The people who really know God, the ones who carry the message Christ preached in their heart, they know that our God is a God of love.  They know that Christ came to save the world, not condemn it.

So that brings me back to my question.   Does God want you to be happy?

“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. ”  1 John 1:4-5

The gospels and letters of John are perhaps the most full of love in the entire bible.  John, the disciple whom Jesus loved best.  Maybe because John most understood, or was closest to Jesus’ heart.  So yes, I absolutely believe that, like any good parent, God wants us, his children, to be happy.  I can’t claim that I don’t have darkness in me.  Sometimes I yell at my children out of anger or frustration.  But God is the perfect parent.  Everything he does is to make us the people he created us to be.  Everything he does is to bring us closer to him.

Now that being said, I’m not saying that God is a completely permissive parent.  Like any good parent, he gave us a set of rules to live by.  He loves us enough to give us boundaries and  rules, designed to keep us safe and happy.  Don’t you do the same for your children…out of love?

And when your child disobeys how to you respond?  Do you correct them?  Do you discipline them?  Why?  I’m guessing for exactly the same reason you gave them rules in the first place, because you love them, and you want to keep them safe, and to help them lead a happy and successful life.

So doesn’t it make sense then that our Father in heaven, who has no darkness in him, does everything for our own good?

I think that the closer we draw to God, the more we follow his rules for life, the more he rewards us in big and small ways, by glimpses of his love.  And when we keep our spirits focused on him, and not the distractions of this world, we come closer to finding the peace and happiness that God wants for us.  A peace that passes all understanding.  A joy beyond anything that we could ask or imagine.

So when you hear people tell you that they don’t want a God who punishes people, you can tell them that isn’t the God you believe in.  Tell them that your God is a kind and loving Father and that everything he does comes from a love that always wants to draw you closer.  A love in which there is no darkness, only light.

So what exactly are God’s rules for us?

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath
  5. Honor they father and mother
  6. Thou shalt not kill
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
  8. Thou shalt not steal
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness
  10. Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbors.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read these all I see are rules about respect.  Respect for the God who created us and loves us, and respect for each other.  These are a set of rules designed to make our lives better, given to us by a kind and loving Father.

I’m guessing that not many of the people reading this blog are going to have too much trouble following rules 6-8 on a daily basis.  But what about taking the Lord’s name in vain?  Honoring your parents? Coveting? Keeping the sabbath?

The more we make God’s rules a part of our lives, the more in communion we are with Him, and the happier we become.  God wants all of his children to live in joy.  But we need to do our part to make that happen.

So this week I challenge you to pick one rule and try to make it a habit, part of your daily routine.  If you find yourself feeling envious, think about all of the gifts God has given you.  If you find yourself taking the Lord’s name in vain, correct yourself and say sorry.  Try prioritizing church for a month.  You’ll be surprised at the joy you’ll find in following God’s rules.  And, yes GOD ABSOLUTELY WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY!

GOD BLESS

Meredith

 

 

 

 

Obsession!

What do you think of when you hear the word, obsession?  It positively screams of something dark and insidious.  A fault or failure of character.  A character flaw that allows something negative to take over or dominate your life to the exclusion of all else.

We speak of kids and their obsession with social media, video games, screens time.  We talk about obsessions with fashion, food, fitness.  It seems like everyone these days is blaming something on their OCD.

Well today I want to confession my obsession to you.  Because I am obsessed…obsessed with God.

It’s like He sits there, in the front of my brain.  I can practically point to the place, it’s right between, and slightly above my eyes…right in the middle of my forehead.  Or sometimes when I’m in church it’s like I can feel his hand pressing down on my bowed head.  Letting me know he is with me.

God fills my thoughts.  When I’m happy, songs of praise either dance through my brain, or burst uncontrollably from my lips.  I’m constantly thinking about Him, thanking Him, wanting to learn more about Him.  Understand Him.  In my free time I think about this blog or my other writing projects, and how I can give back to Him who has given me so much.  How I can use my meager talent to thank Him for the fullness of my heart; the moments of overwhelming, soul-filling joy.  The feeling of knowing and understanding what He is trying to tell me – those moments that bring me to my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks because I feel so full.  So fully loved.  So full of Him.

But this obsession is unlike anything I understood obsession to be.  It is all consuming, but instead of guilt and darkness, I feel only light.  My obsession doesn’t take me away from my family and my responsibilities, it only makes me able to be more;  more engaged, more patient, more gentle, more kind.  It only makes me love them more.

My obsession makes me want to take everyone I meet by the shoulders and shake them.  I need to make them understand how amazing it feels to be loved, to live in the light of God’s love.  There is no video game, or movie or social media post that can give you the sense of wholeness you get from communing with God.

This is an obsession that redefines the word.  There is no negative here.  There is only a sense of rightness, of peace, of what was always intended.

I know God loves me.  I feel God’s love and it is an oxymoron; all consuming and liberating at the same time.  In everything you give up to Him, you feel more full, more fulfilled, more satisfied.

This must be a glimpse of what it feels like to live always in His glory.  When you come close to experiencing, even a glimpse of his presence, you can’t help but fall to your knees in praise.  Now I understand the title of C.S. Lewis’ autobiography “Surprised by Joy”.

God Bless,

Meredith

Freedom

I titled this post Freedom because that is what my faith in God and Jesus has given me.  Freedom.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am absolutely a type A personality.  My life is all about time-management and schedules.  Getting the kids out the door, to school, to their activities.  I like to be prepared and preferably well in advance.  I try to reduce the stress  that I find comes from doing things last minute. And in doing this I delude myself into believing that I am in complete control of my life.  Until I’m not.

We’ve all heard the phrase, the only thing we can really control is how we treat the people we encounter in our lives.  But I would challenge that statement, because while we might not be able to control much in our lives, we can absolutely control who we put in charge.  Chance?  or God?   I don’t know if I have the right words to describe how much more peaceful my life has been since I just let go and acknowledged that.  And in that acknowledging, gave up my illusion of control to the one who created everything.

I’ve had lots of discussions with people about this concept.  It’s like they think that by me saying I’ve put God in control I’ve stopped having agency in my life.  I would say that the exact opposite is true.  I’m not afraid anymore.  I’m not worried about getting my next writing job or solving a problem that is outside of my control.  They say that “God helps those, who help themselves”.  And I absolutely believe that.  I still continue to work very hard to be the best writer I can be.  I still continue to work on, and pitch stories that I believe in, but what I don’t do, is worry about it any more.  I’m not afraid of my story not being picked up, or not getting a job, because I’ve put that in God’s hands.  I do my part and then I sit back and let him to his.  That’s what I’m talking about when I say giving control of my life to my Father in heaven has made me free.

I turn everything over to God.  When David lost his wallet in Orlando, I prayed about it and then I called the hotel and when we found it, I absolutely gave thanks.  When I needed to move a large item and the trailer that I had lined up ended up falling through, I worked hard to find another one, but I also gave it up to God and while I did my best, I didn’t worry.  I knew in my heart that my Father would take care of me.

I guess that’s the point of today’s blog.  We absolutely have a Father in heaven and I’m sure this feels like a bit of a reoccurring theme for my blogs, but I don’t think that we can be reminded often enough that God loves us and wants to be an active part of our lives if we will only let him.  When you start giving God control, you will be surprised at all the little ways, everyday of your life, you can find him taking care of you.

God Bless,

Meredith