Lighting Up the Runway.

There’s been a lot going on in my life lately and today was a classic example.  In fact, there were events in my life today that in other times would have put me into a spiral of self-loathing “I’m not good enough”  and “why do You bother with me, I’m an awful person”.   But I read a sermon earlier this week that spoke about God’s smile and it really stuck with me.   Even though today I felt stressed out and frenetic, I also felt that God was doing everything he could to make my life easier and I was so thankful and so grateful.  I love those days…days when I can actively see God’s hand in my life and appreciate it.  There are certainly days when I don’t feel that way…but I have enough of the days when I do, to carry me through and help me to trust God’s plan for my life.

Today was the day I had set aside to renew the passport of our oldest son, Hayden who is now 18.  The only problem is that he is 18, with the ability of a toddler to make decisions for himself.  I was totally convinced that we would arrive at the passport office only to be sent away to get an identification card or something because now he is applying for an adult passport and he doesn’t have a driver’s license…for obvious reasons.  To my incredible surprise, the passport office was empty (thank you Jesus) and we were expedited.  I can’t speak highly of how patient the passport Canada staff was and well treated Hayden was.  We were in and out with time to spare.  And let me tell you, I absolutely count that as a blessing. From doctor’s appointments to appointments at the barbershop, I felt as if I was chasing my tail today.  But everything worked out as it was meant to, and my family picked me up and loved me even in my stressed out state.  And I knew that it wasn’t just my family that had my back…it was God.

And then this evening I had a conversation with the artist who is working on my current Creator-owned project, about our next project.  It is not possible to manufacture the type of synergy we have.  And just as I believe that our coming together for our current project was divinely inspired, I absolutely believe that our next project will be as well.

I wish that everyone had God in their lives, if only to know that there is someone in their corner who not only loves them unconditionally, but who has their back.  We are talking about the God who raised Lazarus from the dead.  He knows exactly what you need, exactly when you need it and he is a God of joy.  He wants you to be happy.  And I think that bears repeating.  He doesn’t want you to walk around feeling guilty or worrying about sin…He wants you to be happy; to know joy and to know that, just as much, or even more so than you want happiness for the people in your life that you love, He wants the same for you.

What I don’t know is the path true faith will take for you.  For me it was a journey of decades.  It was reading C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald and going to church on a regular basis.  But what I absolutely believe, is that if God is calling your name, you don’t need to find your path to him… he will light up the way like an airplane runway so that you can’t miss landing exactly where he wants you to be.  All you have to do is listen to the air-traffic controller in your heart.

God bless,

Meredith

 

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 🙂

“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

Just Leave Me Alone.

Have you every notice when someone else is struggling, or going through a difficult time, how easy it is to know that they need to lean on God, or to turn to God, or to trust in God? Have you also noticed that when YOU are going through a difficult or challenging time how difficult those very same things can be…even when your heart knows you should?

At times, during my recovery, it has been incredibly difficult for me to be patient and trust that this is part of God’s plan.  There have been times I have felt his hand on my heart, and instead of turning into that love I have begged for him to just leave me alone, that I can’t do this, that I’m not strong enough.  It’s been hard.

Of course God didn’t leave me alone, just as I wouldn’t walk away from one of my own children if they were suffering and in pain.  He just wraps me up in his love and waits for me.  Jesus used the image of a shepherd and his sheep often in his ministry.  And he reassured us that “no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of  my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  John 10:28-29  As a child of God, as one of Jesus’ sheep, I am always in his care, and no one, not even I have the power to make him go away.  He will always be there, watching over me, and caring for me, and protecting me.

It’s not always given to us to know why bad things happen.  What is given to us is to know that we can trust in our Father to make all things for our good.  Just as when your toddler is learning how to walk, you can’t always keep them from falling, so too will our Father in heaven be there to pick us up, dust us off and kiss away our pain.

And in case you were worried…I’m good.  That day, after telling God to leave me alone, I came home to a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen counter.  They were bright, and lovely, and from my parents.  When I called to say thank you, my mom said that she just had a feeling I might need a pick me up.  GOD IS SO GOOD AND I AM SO BLESSED!  Thank you mom and dad! Thank you, Jesus!

God bless,

Meredith

It’s Awkward and Uncomfortable.

Things I can now do fairly well with my left hand…

  • crack an egg (surprisingly not as hard to do as I’d thought, I’ve only broken two yolks – the secret is to just go for it like you have no other option – which right now…I don’t)
  • use scissors – I understand the call for left-handed scissors now
  • brush my teeth
  • flat-iron my hair (no frizzy hair here please)

How many times in our lives are we forced to learn how to do something differently?  Initially most times it feels uncomfortable, weird, not right.  I certainly felt that way the night of my accident after I dragged my butt up the stairs and stood in front of my bathroom sink.  Everything I was doing didn’t just feel wrong, damn it…it hurt!

It’s a natural aspect of human nature…our need to resist change, even when it’s for our own good.  We like to stay in our zone, walk the easy path. That’s why sometimes we need a good shake up, why we need to be forced out of our comfort zones.  I’ve found that sometimes faith can be a little bit like that. You see people praying on TV, or in movies, and they have the perfect words, in the perfect, most natural, most earnest way.  But real life is often nothing like that, it can be ugly and weird.  How many of us felt really awkward and uncomfortable the first time we prayed or went to church after being away for a while?  Heck, there are lots of times I still don’t know what to say, (especially when I’m praying out loud – because I just don’t do it enough…kinda like brushing my teeth with my left hand).

Do you remember the first time you had a conversation with a toddler?  Their speech is often so rambling and garbled you have to constantly ask questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer just to figure out what they are saying.  The good news for me is that God doesn’t have to ask any questions when I reach out to him.  He already knows what’s in my heart…he just needs me to make an attempt.  And his willingness to answer my prayer depends not on any beautiful speech I could make, but on one thing, and one thing alone…faith.

Something I’ve been struggling with, and been been reading about lately, is the type of faith a person has, the type of faith I have.  It’s easy to start thinking that God is there to make your life better, richer, healthier through prayer.  But those things shouldn’t be the purpose, or focus of faith, rather I think they are a by-product of a life focused on God.  I have so many incredible blessings in my life, and I feel grateful for all of them, but what I yearn for more than anything is the feeling, the experience I have when I am filled with the overwhelming love and joy of the Spirit of God.  When tears well up and I am overcome with his love.  It’s what I imagine heaven must be like…experiencing that feeling all the time.

These days people want you to believe that you are going to have to give up something important to believe in God.  And I’m not going to tell you that you won’t.  You might even find your “new” life uncomfortable and scary at times (kinda like putting a 220°F flat-iron to your hair with an uncoordinated left hand).  But like so many things in life, you have to take a big risk to get a big reward.  We make choices of faith every day.  The great news is the more you practice the things that are uncomfortable for you, the better you get at them…like going to church or prayer.

In those times when I am struggling, when I am tired and frustrated and in pain and feeling broken in spirit, and these days, in body; in those moments when I don’t have the energy to find the right words to pray I am reminded that Jesus himself gave us the answer…

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.   Matthew 6:9-13

And remember “Jesus did not give his disciples any instruction about standing, sitting, lying down, walking, running, or driving an automobile while one prays. Jesus did not talk about head coverings, kneeling, the position of one’s hands, or closed eyes. Why? God wants us to pray at all times (1 Thess. 5:17 ) and in every place, under any condition, and in various situations (1 Tim. 2:8).” https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-studies/

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

All you have to do is ask.

Today in my readings Paul talks about “…behaving decently, as in the daytime” Romans 13:13.  And I’m not going to say anything new here, but sometimes it bears repeating, it helps to be reminded.  How many of us exhibit behaviours in the privacy of our own homes, behind the closed doors of hotel rooms, or it the darkened anonymity of bars and night clubs, behaviours that we would never want our mothers, our children, our friends to see.  That’s what Paul is talking about. And he’s not just talking about our physical deeds, but our emotional ones as well, the ones we keep secret in our hearts, the jealousies, the coveting, the dissensions and grievances.

I will be the first one to admit that there are things I might say or do in my own house that I would never want other people to see or hear.  Losing my temper, slamming doors, speaking badly of someone.  I do them all.  I forget that someone is always watching.  That my actions never occur in a vacuum.  That’s why Paul’s words are so important.  In this letter to the Romans he is calling on them, on us, to “put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light”.  Are you asking yourself how?  Or have you convinced yourself that your behaviours in those times were justified, or that they drove you to it.  That they deserved what they got or that’s just how you were made.

I won’t even tell you that those things aren’t true. But part of what Paul is telling us, part of the message of Jesus, and the reason he died for us and our sins is that we are called to be better.  To rise up against our own sinful nature, “the way we were made” and put aside the deeds of darkness.  If you’re like me, maybe you’ve tried this before, but feel as if you always slip back, you always fall down and maybe you’ve even reached the point of giving up. I can relate.  But today I’d like to tell you that we are supposed to fail, in fact we will fail every single time if we are trying to go it alone.  I have come to learn that the absolute only way I can be a different person is through Christ.  Time and time again the bible calls upon us to surrender ourselves to our Father in heaven.  But we are so stubborn, so determined to have our independence that we refuse, we protest the freedom and light that is offered to us freely.  But that’s okay.  Because our time here on earth is about that journey.  About gaining a gradual understanding of the power of the life and death and love of Jesus Christ and God our Father.

So if there is a darkness in your heart or a heaviness in your spirit, know that you don’t have to shine a light on it yourself, you don’t have to carry the burden, because there is someone greater than you who will happily do it for you.  Someone who wants to do it for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith