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

 

Mean Jesus?

“Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “follow me and let the dead bury their own dead.”  Matthew 8:21,22

That verse always stands out for me as harsh.  I mean here is a disciple, a follower of Jesus, asking for a little time off to go and bury his father and our loving Messiah tells him no, that he should let the dead bury the dead and ignore his obligations to his family. I wanted to look into this because, on first reading, it makes Jesus seem so callous and uncaring of his follower’s grief.  This seems so out of character for the guy who is going to sacrifice himself for the sake of humanity a few years later.

I started looking into the verse and really trying to understand it in my heart.  What if this follower was afraid of what Jesus was asking him to do? What if his asking for time off was an excuse?  Maybe he wanted the people around him to believe that he was a follower of Jesus because that was the “cool” thing to be in that moment.  But, in his heart, he really wasn’t ready for the commitment following Christ would require.

We’ve all been there.  We’ve said and done things in the moment that we knew in our heart wasn’t a reflection of who we really were or what we really believed.  As humans, we have a deep seated need to be accepted.  It’s fundamental to our survival as a species to be a part of a social unit.

But I think that Jesus is speaking to all of us in this verse.  What are the dead things in our lives that are holding us back?  What do we need to leave behind us in order to really live as a follower of Christ?  Maybe we are like the man in this story, saying and doing all the right things, but not really surrendering ourselves. We always have a good excuse why we can’t go to church, read our bible, pray more.  Believe me, as a mother, my list of excuses is almost inexhaustible.  I have to get groceries, do laundry, clean the house, drive the kids, make the dinner, walk the dog.  But maybe we are being called to be more mindful.  To leave those things that are “dead” in their place. Does an immaculate house really add to my quality of life?…maybe not.  If I have a few free minutes often feel the call of Facebook, it’s easy.  But I find greater peace comes from the time I sit down with a cup of tea and my bible.  I can go an entire day without Facebook and not really miss out on anything.  But if I don’t make that connection with God, I feel it all day.

We need to remember that Jesus knows us even better than we know ourselves.  It does seem that there had to be a good reason for Jesus, the guy who raised Lazarus from the dead, to tell this man to leave his dead to the dead.  It’s even possible that guy didn’t have a relationship with his father or that he had family that was already taking care of things.  I think the point here is that he was making an excuse, and Jesus called him out on it.

We all have them, but let’s make an extra effort this week to be aware of the excuses we are making in our lives that are keeping us from really following Christ? Let’s leave our fears behind and commitment to being people who do what’s right, instead of people who say what’s right.

God bless,

Meredith

Knowing & Believing.

This past weekend we Canadians celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday and this year my family had so much to be thankful for. My sister got engaged, we celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday, my parents had a big announcement, and God continues to bless my family with love, and good health.  It was indeed a weekend of giving thanks to God, for everything we have.  I even gave thanks that my injury happened after Easter, and was early enough in the year for me to fully recover so that I could host Thanksgiving.  God is good.

Today I was reading the 8th chapter of Matthew and, in light of my questions from last week about the kingdom of God, there was a phrase in particular that really caught my attention  “but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  I wanted to understand who these “subjects” were and of what “kingdom”.  Who was Jesus referring to?

In my research I learned that the Jewish people referred to themselves as children, or subjects, or members of the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven.  So then I got to thinking, when Jesus announced, after his baptism, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, was this his call to his people?  Was this another way of him announcing to the Jewish people that their messiah had arrived?  Sure a kingdom is a place, but a kingdom is also it’s people.  Maybe the kingdom of heaven isn’t just the gospel, maybe it’s all of us.  Maybe this was an announcement that there would be a new belief, that some who thought they knew God would fall away because they had to give up too much (power, money, authority) as the kingdom, through Jesus, transformed from one in which only a priest could access God, to one in which we could all access our heavenly Father.

I’m not a biblical scholar, but thinking about it in this way helps me to maybe have a clearer understanding of how Jesus’ calling people to the kingdom of heaven fits into the idea that, like Abraham, we are justified by faith.  And then when I think back to the faith expressed by the centurion in Chapter 8, his recognition of Jesus as the absolute authority over life and death, so much so that He (Jesus) need only speak the word for his servant to be healed…maybe Jesus is also announcing that HE is the kingdom of God.  He is calling us to be a part of Him.  And if Jesus is the Kingdom of God, we are all a part of it simply by knowing and believing in him.

Still praying for God to help me grow in my faith in knowledge of him, everyday.

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

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