Hope in the Weeds.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m going to sound cliche. Spending some good soul-searching-dirt-under-fingernail time this past week on an unseasonably warm day led to a few analogies I have to share. Analogies about weeds. Weeds in my plant bed and weeds in the bed of my soul.

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My soul that sprouts weeds so easily. All it takes is one lie to get them started. Just like the garden of Eden. One lie deemed truth turned the world upside down. Forever changed the course of history. For one man and one woman who had the perfect life. Believed the perfect lie. And the rest was history.

How is my own soul like that? In too many ways to count.

I let the Enemy tell me one lie. To paraphrase my pastor, “Even a half-truth is a whole lie.” Satan’s really good at that. Telling me a half-truth to get me doubting and then get me acting on it.

Believing less than the whole I really know to be true. Forgetting who I am in Christ and believing who the world says I am. Or should be. Or could be.

Then this one lie becomes like a weed in my heart. And it doesn’t need water to grow. In fact, it likes drought.

The drier the better. A dry soul is a breeding ground for the lies of the Enemy to spread like wildfire.

A soul parched from lack of Truth is sure to catch fire from the Enemy’s lies.

Those chickweeds of lies work on killing this chick. One by one by one. They multiply to death.

As I dug out the weeds in the plant bed, it became obvious the only way to get them all was to extract them by hand. They seemed to multiply as I pulled. It was tedious. It was dirty. My back hurt. My knees hurt. But in the end, it was soul satisfying. That clean bed was ready for day lilies and daffodils to make their entrance. The weeds are gone. For now.

When we finished, there was tangible proof we had accomplished something.

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That’s actually a chocolate smile…not dirt. Well, maybe some dirt mixed with chocolate.

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When we kill the lies Satan puts in our hearts, we have accomplished the work of God.

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I pulled and piled. The kids carted those spindly green threats away in their little dump truck. Teamwork at its best. And I explained to my little souls that those weeds were like sin. When we let one sin, one bad decision, one wrong choice creep into our life, we are making room for another one to follow. And another.

And then the best part. I told them that all of that work we did to remove those weeds was done in the blink of an eye by God when we seek forgiveness. Our sins are removed immediately and permanently when we repent and accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. His gift of Life. His gift of Truth. His gift of Hope.

We will have to fight to keep the weeds from coming back in that plant bed. Some pre-emergent will help prepare the soil to kill them before they sprout. Like the preparation of our own souls with the watering of the Word.

Without Truth our souls aren’t prepared to kill sin before it sprouts.

With Truth we have Hope in the weeds.

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Yes, it takes some work on our part. To keep weeds out of our plant beds and sin out of our heart. But the rewards are always greater than the cost.

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An immortal King who knew no bounds, came to earth confined to flesh and an earthly king’s dominion. He endured sorrow, denial, hatred and torture for doing no wrong. Jesus poured out blood through sweat and His pierced side so that I would never have to. He died in my stead. For my sins that He knew none. He paid the fine for my sin-debt.

My reward in Him is worth any cost I pay while I’m on this earth. 

There will be weeds in my yard. There will be sin in my heart. I will fight them until my fight here is over.

But I will fight harder to keep them away knowing the cost paid for their final removal. And then this…

 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:14 ESV)

That’s a day worth waiting for. Worth fighting for. Worth living for.

Here’s to that day, friend. And until that day, may we fight the weeds of sin and lie that seek to kill us with the power of the only One that can destroy them. There is Hope in the weeds.

In Christ Alone,
Meredith

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Saturday Sundries.

It’s Saturday. Whoop-Whoop, it’s Saturday! I slept in with my baby girl beside me. Woke up to her caressing my face with her tiny fingers…and then telling me my breath smelled like a stink bug.

Wait…what?! Ok, thanks.

This day has proceeded to involve french toast and spaghetti. Both of which I ate. Because my daughter didn’t.

I thought my husband was doing me a favor taking my son with him to feed cows. Until he comes back because he got too cold and proceeds to go directly to his sister and steal her play horse. Not cool. Timeout ensues for him.

Then they go upstairs to play…and end up screaming. Kicking and screaming. And I end up kicking and screaming.

Did I mention I slept in? First day I can remember in five years I slept until 8:15am and guess what that means? It means I didn’t get up at 5:30 or 6am and do my devotion. It means I missed my time in the Word with my Father this morning. And guess what that means? My day has been a mess. I am a mess. A Grace-covered mess, but a mess none-the-less.

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I’m not saying every day is perfect when I have my quiet time, but there is definitely a difference.

It doesn’t mean I won’t have a crying fit in the schoolhouse or that I won’t find myself blowing my mule-lips, but it means that I will have something, some Word in my soul, to get me through the fits. Theres and mine.

No time in the Word for me, means no Word in me.

God’s Word is my soul food. And my soul needs feeding.

Instead today I fed it french toast and spaghetti.

Well, I’m sitting down now and forgoing the dirt clods from cattleman’s boots on the floor, the Mt. Everest of clothes needing washed, the ashes spilling out from the wood stove and the dried egg on the stove.

Those things can wait. My soul cannot. It needs some real nourishment today.

And I better hurry. The kids just made popcorn for lunch. And put salt AND pepper on it. A lot.

Take heart sweet sister. There is GRACE for us today. I’m clinging to it. Hope you will, too.

Graciously,
Meredith

The mule is blowing her lips.

My husband is full of one-liners. Spend more than a few minutes with him and you are sure to hear one. There is one I hear pointed towards me quite often and this time I said it before he could…”Yes, the mule is blowing her lips.”

And she was. That was me. The mule. Blowing her lips.

I was frustrated. Nothing really new for me, but my kitchen endeavors can bring it out in full force. This night was no exception. I have tried several times to make bread, but not often because I always end up failing. Miserably. Why I thought this time would be any different is beyond me.  I came across a recipe for the “Best Texas Roadhouse Rolls” and decided an hour before supper I could do this. I’m a woman. I should be able to make bread. Shouldn’t I?

I just happened to have a packet of “dry active yeast” (whatever that is) and I had one tbsp of butter even though it called for two, but surely that wouldn’t be a big deal. Butter and sugar had been on the grocery list, but on the way home from town the kids BOTH fell asleep, so I didn’t dare spoil a nap to stop by the grocery store for butter and sugar. It’s not like those are staples in my house or anything. I only make a gallon of sweet tea a day and cook everything in butter…with butter on top. And butter inside if it will fit. I’m southern. Don’t judge me.

I digress.  Back to the rolls. I will try to get on with the point, once I figure out what it really is.

It all started well. The yeasty-watery concoction started to “bubble” as it said it should. I warmed the milk and pat of butter on the stove to 115° using my dairy thermometer. I felt sure Martha Stewart would be proud of that little maneuver. Or Paula Deen or whoever is the latest and greatest tv chef star. I don’t have cable or satellite, so if they aren’t on PBS or Ion Life…I don’t know ‘em. I digress again.

I’m having a hard time focusing. Now we are probably getting to the point.

I’m sure the recipe I was reading was perfectly fine for anyone who has made rolls or bread or anything with yeast before. What else do you make with yeast? But I was not sure if I was supposed to “mix” and “stir” ingredients by hand or with my Kitchen Aid, which doesn’t get nearly as much use as it would like. Or my husband would like. So I used it.

The first 2 minutes of “fast mixing” were perfect. It’s when I went to “stir” the extra two cups of flour (Better for Bread flour, mind you…the expensive stuff…that’s probably 2 years old, but it’s been in the refrigerator, so that’s ok, right?) into the mix that things got a little “sticky.” I assumed to “stir” the ingredients I should use the “hook” attachment. I think that’s what it’s called. Anyway, I proceeded to do that at which time the flour exploded out of the bowl all over the counter and cabinet doors and me and down that black hole between my stove and counter, which is where that flour will stay for quite a while, I’m sure. And what was left in the bowl was a sticky, boogery mess. I think I just made up the word boogery, but it is the best word to describe it. The stuff looked and felt like a big bowl of boogers. My son agreed. And then I wondered why he didn’t want to try one after they were cooked…bless his heart.

The aftermath.

The aftermath.

Note the abyss between the stove and counter…that flour will rot there.

Note the abyss between the stove and counter…that flour will rot there.

At this point, I tried hard not to say a bad word. I don’t think I did. But I wouldn’t bet my life on it. What’s in the well does come up in the bucket, and I’m pretty sure my well was a little dirty at this point. I was this far in it and had wasted four cups of expensive (all be it old) flour, so I was going to see these little boogers through to the end. Pardon the very sad pun.

I finished up with the instructions as best I could and ended up with some sad looking rolls. The dough did rise, much to my amazement. The rolls did bake and sort of resembled rolls. Sort of. And they sort of tasted like rolls. Sort of. My kind husband said they “weren’t that bad, but seemed to be missing something.” Well, that was the understatement of the year. But what? What were they missing? I followed the directions as best I could. I only skimped a little on the butter and my flour was only a couple of years old and I’m not sure if I was supposed to use the mixer or not and really didn’t know how to roll the dough out, but other than that, I followed the recipe to a “T.”

Boogers rising.

Boogers rising.

And in the middle of my mishap, my kindergartener decided to continue his reading practice.  A small booklet on the kitchen table caught his eye and he asked, “Mom, is the title of this book, “God. Will. Use. This. For. Good.”? Yes, son, that’s the title of that book. And yes, son, He probably will.

God will teach me something from this “Merdie Mishap” tonight. He will teach me that a recipe is not just a list of ingredients for you to pick and choose what you want to use and how much and how you want to use them. If you don’t know what you are doing, you follow a recipe to teach you. Maybe one day you can tweak the recipe to make it better and give it your own flavor. But when you are a hopeless fool, as I,  and have no idea what you are doing, YOU FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.

How often do I do that with God? Take just what I want from the Bible and apply it just how I want just when I want and just as I want? More often than I would like to admit.

God gave us His Word so we would know his thoughts. His ways.

Psalm 119:105 
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

His instructions are for our good and His good pleasure.

Proverbs 4:13
Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;

    guard her, for she is your life.

Since the beginning of time nobody has been able to get this right. I wonder if Eve or Sarah or Rachel ever blew their lips like a mule? I endeavor to believe they did. And that makes me smile a little. Surely I’m in some like company…can I get an Amen?

God knew we were not going to get it. He knew we were not going to listen. And He knew that in our sins and struggles we would HAVE to come looking to Him for help or we would never find it. In the pit, the only place to look is up. Been there. Done that.

I’m thankful that I did accept His answer to my plea for help. And that He still answers me every time I call. And I can trust that He always will.

I will probably give up on bread making. For now anyway. They make really good rolls in the freezer section that take very little time and as my son pointed out, taste much better than my homemade version.

That being said, I will not be giving up on following God’s plan of instruction for my life. Being in His word daily, I’m finding wonderful insight and truths that I’ve never taken the time to see before. I can’t imagine how getting through the entire Bible will affect my daily walk. It can only be GOOD. And surely I will mess up. Again. Tomorrow. But, He will always be there to get me back on track.

God will always get me back on track, just like my husband does when teaching our children how to ride a horse.

Sometimes he has to take the reins and show them what to do.

Then they can take the reins themselves and mirror their father’s instruction.

The Bible is God’s mirror for us into His very soul. As His children, we should know it.

To know the Bible is to know God. To know God is to the know the Bible.

To know God is to have True Life. 

Moments of blowing our mule lips will come and go. (That doesn’t sound right, but it is what it is.)

God will always be our guide, waiting for us to ask for the Lead and waiting for him to Answer.

Sometimes the biggest lessons learned come in the waiting. And then the biggest rewards come after the wait.

To any other mule lip blowers…take heart. You are not alone. Maybe we could have a contest sometime? And then again, maybe not. 😉

Graciously,

Meredith

I knew I would be able to use this photo one day. Little man is not a mule, but he’s not little either.

I knew I would be able to use this photo one day. Little man is not a mule, but he’s not little either.

Of fear and grace.

What is it about the word “fear” that makes me slightly squeamish? Not the kind of fear where I’m scared of the dark or the boogie man in the closet or even worse, under my bed. But fear in a bigger, broader sense. Adult-sized fear. The word has taken on new meanings for me as I’ve aged and it’s been mulling around in my over-crowded brain the past few days.

This past week has been beautiful. Getting intentional about my time with Jesus in the morning before the day breaks…and literally keeping my day from breaking. One week of routine, determined bible study has already had significant impact on my life.

God has shown up in BIG ways.  God-sized ways.

There have been answers to prayer that could only come from Him.

Like what?

Like an angel from out of the blue mailing me a check  from her non-profit ministry to pay my conference tuition and hotel expenses to explore these “writing skills” further because she feels I have a gift she wants me to use and grow for God’s glory.  Yeah, that was BIG. I cried for hours (days…) over that one. Crying now.

And then there was this little idea of seeing if anyone would maybe like to join me in reading through the Bible in a year. And now we have an on-line group of 11 women intricately woven together by God to start this journey together. Yeah, that happened this week. More happy tears.

And then there was finding this sister in Christ that will be exploring a new ministry opportunity with me and finding out we have a lot more in common than we could ever have known. And maybe God put us together for that reason more than the ministry. Remains to be seen. Yeah, that happened this week, too. Joyful sobs at this point.

I don’t remember a week in my life with so many praises in so little time. Really, this has been a BIG week for me. For God in me.

So where is this fear that I started to talk about? What does fear have to do with any of this? The question is more so what does fear NOT have to do with any of this.

I’m just naturally a fearful person. I worry. I fret. I fear. I fear I may fail. Because I have.

I fear I may not have what it takes to live up to what people “think” I am or have or could be. Because I’ve let people down before. I’ve let myself down before.  I’ve let God down before. A lot. Even this week. Even today. Even in the last hour.

I fear things like my kids will not be normal or godly or social or smart. Because I am responsible for them and I really don’t know what I’m doing at all when it comes to this motherhood gig. I fear I’ll mess them up forever. Maybe I already have.

And then reading this week in Mark Chapter 11, this idea of fear rang loud to me in other ways. I scribbled these notes  after reading…

FEAR: Scribes hated Jesus out of fear.

Fear drives us to sin.

Fear blinds to the truth.

Fear keeps God’s will from being fulfilled.

Fear kept the scribes from knowing and believing who Jesus was. The one they had spent their whole life waiting for was right before their eyes…and they rejected Him out of fear.

Fear distorts the truth.

Fear brings out the ugly in people. In ME.

There it is. The ugly truth about fear. All wrapped up in one little chapter of God’s word.  And no matter how much good God does in our lives, how many prayers He answers, how many BLESSINGS he bestows, we are still prone to fear. It’s just our nature. Well, I can only speak for self.  Fear is in my nature. If it’s not in yours, then give God a little extra praise today. And if it is, give God a little more credit.

That’s on my list of things to do. Give God more credit. He deserves it. I believe He would even appreciate it.

Fear intimidates, immobilizes and paralyzes.

Grace assures, encourages and releases.

If you are living in Grace today, claim it. I plan to.

Well, I’ll try harder. And of course I’ll be covered in grace when I fail. And I will. But that’s not my focus.

I will focus on what God has done. Focus on what God has proven He can do and will do. And rest on the promise He will continue to do. Remembering, “All things work to good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

That life verse of mine again. It just speaks to me. Often. Let it speak to you.

And be free of the fear. Give God the credit that is His. Claim the Grace that is yours. And live in it.

Graciously,

Meredith

Weekend Reflections | Habit changing.

I feel the need to reflect from this week because I feel like I’ve been on a long trip…even though I haven’t traveled anywhere.

In this week, I’ve begun what I hope is the process of changing habits. Starting the journey to saying goodbye to ways that have caused me to move backwards. In motherhood. In wifehood. In friendships. In my faith. In my relationship with my Savior.

I say all of this a bit reluctantly, because I am not naive enough to believe this will be easy. Or that it will be fast.  Or that I will be completely successful.

I will fail and I will fall, but I trust that I will also have the courage and fortitude to pick myself up and start again. That is the way of changing habits, is it not? If we never start, we will never finish. If we don’t push through, the goal will never become a reality.

First, we have to see a need to change. A realization we have an area in our life that is not “ok” with us. That we feel warrants an overhaul. A new direction. Or death altogether.

For me this means a complete change in my day. In my routine. In my reactions. This is BIG. This is not small. This will not happen overnight, but I am determined that it. will. happen. And I don’t even know exactly what the end will look like. I just know it will be better. My soul will be rewarded. My family will be rewarded. I expect all of my relationships will be sweeter when these habits are changed. When they are fully and completely resolved.

A new day. A new way.

In my readings this week, God has pointed out to me just how faithful He is, even when we are not…and even when we are. He has shown me the lengths that His Grace has been poured out on me and on so many giants of the faith in the Bible…even when they messed up. And they messed up big at times. But they were always covered in Grace. Just like me. Just like you.

He has shown me that I don’t have to know what tomorrow will hold. I don’t have to know what He has planned. I don’t have to do or be anything other than faithful to trust. Trust His will. His way. His time.

A hard pill for me to swallow even most days. There’s a habit that needs changing. That one wasn’t even on the list.

God is showing me that He is bigger than my fear. I believe I’ll tackle that one in a post next week. Fear…oh how it drives so much in our lives.

Today, I sit in complete awe of my Mighty God. In what He has done. In what He is doing. In what He is going to do. I don’t even have to know, because I already know. It will be bigger than I can imagine. It will be better than I can imagine. He will be glorified and that’s all that truly matters. That’s the only result I want in any habit I now form. And any habit that doesn’t lead to his Glory, I ask Him to delete from my life.

Maybe you have some habits that need changing, too? You can do this. I can do this.

I just read this week, “all things are possible with God.”

The Message Bible says it this way, “Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.””

Jesus cut right to the point, as He always did and always does in my own life.

NO CHANCE alone. EVERY CHANCE with God.

There are some words to live by. To change by. Habit changing words. Life giving words. Oh…to get my life back. Or to just get it in the first place. Here’s to changing habits. For His Glory.

Blessings,
Meredith

You. Are. Beloved. Yes, You.

There is a stirring in my soul. On my heart and in my soul.

This word “Beloved.”

It jumped off the page of my Bible as I continued on my trek to read through this God-breathed print in a year.  Pressing on to see what Light is revealed today.

Paul was quoting from the book of Hosea in Romans when he said, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” Romans 9:25

I had to read it again. And then underline it. And then circle “her” and “beloved.”  The Holman Christian Standard Bible says it this way, “…and she who is Unloved, Beloved.”

I’ve never noticed this verse in this way before. The wonderful mystery of reading the same book of the Bible I have ready several times and heard preached exhaustively and studied in depth on different occasions. Every time we read God’s word, He is faithful to speak to us exactly where we are and exactly how He means for us to understand it and apply it right then.

I tell my children what needs to be done as it needs to be done. Just as my Father tells me what I need when I need it. He loves me like that. He loves me that much. He makes it simple. Good thing, simple as my mind is, I require simple. In small doses.

This is a simply beautiful verse to me. A verse that makes me feel warm and complete and full and loved. Like being wrapped up tight in my Granny’s embrace as a child. Warm and complete and full and loved. All in one happy, safe place.

Knowing my God, the Creator of all of the universe…Creator of all I can see, feel and know and all that I can’tthat same God chose me. Loves me. Calls me “beloved.” In His eyes, as His child, I am Beloved. And so are you, dear one.  So are you.

Do you get it?   Do you see it?

It doesn’t matter who they say you are or what they have called you your entire life. It doesn’t matter that your earthly father never told you he loved you. It doesn’t matter that your husband doesn’t praise you as you think he ought. It doesn’t matter that your children never call or write or say “Thank you, Mom”…”I love you, Mom”…”I appreciate you, Mom.”

It doesn’t matter. You think it does, but it doesn’t.

The only Being that has any matter in our existence calls His people, His child, His daughter…Beloved.

To the outcast deemed by the world to be unworthy, He sees as worthy.

To the unloveable and unlovely in the shadows of the crowd, He beckons out into the Light and MAKES you lovely, clothed in LOVE.

We may see nothing worth loving in us. And maybe to the rest of the world, there isn’t anything to love. Maybe you have messed up one too many times for those around you to forgive or forget or release you from the prison of regret and shame. Maybe you have done nothing to deserve the lack of love you’ve never known from the people who are “supposed” to love you. Maybe you are loved by others, but don’t know how to love yourself.

I get it. I’ve been there. Broken. Alone. Feeling nothing but unlovely, unloved and un-deserving.

But, child, I’m telling you today, You. Are. Loved. You are called BELOVED by the only One who matters. The only One who knows you for who you really are. He made you. For more than what you are today. For more than what I am today. We are Beloved!

Let that sink in. Deep into the marrow of your soul where all of the hurt and betrayal and shame and disgust have steeped for so long. Let the fact that you are truly BELOVED sink in there. And take root. And grow. And start to become who you really are IN your Father. Take this TRUTH and LET IT MARINATE IN YOUR SOUL. Soul…you are BELOVED.

Be still…sister, brother, friend. Be still and KNOW that You are loved. By the KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS. Your Heavenly Father loves you, if nobody else does.  I love you for reading this and starting to believe that maybe it could be true. You are loved. You are beloved.

Yes, you are.

 

The carousel life.

My kids favorite ride at the fair is the carousel. Round and round, up and down. Constantly spinning…and going nowhere.

I can’t help but think lately my life is a lot like that carousel.  Round and round I go. And never getting anywhere.

Pretty from a distance. All sparkly, shiny and perfect. But upon closer inspection, you find the dents, scratches and realize that pretty little pony is actually a hard, lifeless piece of plastic with lots of grimy germs from dirty little hands holding on for dear life.

Yes, I feel like that pony on the carousel some days. Hanging on for dear life. Always spinning and really getting nowhere.

Pretty on the outside (some days) and others…not so much. And if you actually got close enough you would see the dents and scratches. If you were one of the “fortunate” few I ever let get that close. That’s not what I want you to see, though. I don’t want you to know that I struggle.  I fail. I fall. I have lots of dents and scratches. And I can be pretty hard sometimes.

Hard to love. Hard to befriend. Hard on you. Hard on myself.

Coffee only has two ingredients, as I was reminded the other morning. So why would it be so hard for me to remember to include the water when making coffee the night before? Shouldn’t be, I said. Shouldn’t be.

Round and round and going nowhere.

My mind is a fog.  I hear screaming children. My phone keeps beeping. My computer constantly calls me to “check-in.” Where are all of my husbands clothes? I know I just washed, but somehow there are seven dirty shirts. Did I miss a day this week? Did I miss the entire week? Where was I?

Hard on myself. I should be better at this than I am. I should have this “all together” now. I am a strong woman. No roaring here. Just a few racking sobs.

Then my pity party reaches it peak. I deserve better than this. I work hard and nobody appreciates it. I cook (supper…and if you’re lucky you get an egg in the morning). I clean (occasionally). I wash your clothes (when I remember).

I  love you. I really, really love you. I want to be more for you. For our family. For my friends. For myself.

Then I realize, that’s the problem. I’m so busy just being busy, I’m not living. Not really living. Not for Who I’m supposed to be living for. I get caught up in all the distractions and forget what I’m really here for.

My life is not my own. It will keep going round and round and going nowhere.
If I let it.

One day I have to get off the carousel. I have to say that the ride is over.

I have to grow up. And start living for the One who gave me Life.

So today I want to make a commitment to get off the ride.

I know who I am. Jesus knows who I am. I can rest in the assurance I was made by a Creator that put me together just exactly how He wanted me to be.

And so can you.

“…I am fearfully and wonderfully made… ” Psalm 139:14

What a relief, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. What does that mean? It means my Creator put time and energy and thought into my existence. My being. My God-breathed life. He made me to live. For Him. Through Him. Not to spend my existence going round and round, getting nowhere, doing a million things and at the same time doing nothing.

We may be tempted to get back on the ride. It looks so pretty, doesn’t it? It beckons to us just like that carousel at the fair calls my children. But it’s not a ride that takes us anywhere.

Take your dented, scratched, perfectly imperfect self and get off the ride.
I say to myself. Get off the ride.

All the business of life just keeps us from going where we really need to go.

And doing what we really need to be doing.

Seeing what we really need to be seeing.

Feeling what we really need to be feeling.

I want to be here for my family. REALLY be here. Not just my body, but my mind and my soul.

I want to SEE all there is to see that needs to be seen.
My hurting friend, my lonely child, my neglected husband.

I want to FEEL what I need to feel. Not the numbness that comes with being “out of touch.”

I offer a prayer for me and for you if you ever find yourself where I have…

Father God,

Help me to BE present. In the here and now. To experience what YOU have prepared for me to be a part of. I know you are working around me. All times. All ways. And at this very moment you have something for me to do. Lord, don’t let me be too busy that I miss it. That I miss out on the small moments that make up the whole. That I would look back one day and say I missed it. I was there, but I wasn’t’ there. I want to be HERE NOW. I want to FEEL NOW. I want to SEE NOW. With your hands, your eyes, your heart. Father, for lack of a better way to ask, I just ask you to HELP me. Help me SEE. FEEL. BE. I ask for GRACE to live for today, not in yesterday or for tomorrow, but FOR TODAY. One moment at a time. For the ones you GAVE me. The little arrows in my quiver you gave just. to. me. Created in your image. Help me lead them to their Father, that one day they would truly be YOUR children. That’s my call. That’s my job. Dear God, don’t let me ever forget that. To never get too busy to remember that.

Your daughter asks forgiveness for living so hurriedly. For missing what has been right in front of me. For getting so caught up in self, I forgot who self was.

In Jesus Name I Pray,
AMEN

Clean laundry.

Another confession about me. I’m a stuffer.

What kind of stuffer, you ask? Like you stuff your face with food? Well, yes, I do that. A lot. It’s another form of therapy for me. But no, I’m referring to something much worse than that.

I stuff “stuff.”

All kinds of stuff. Stuff that happens to me that I really want to blow up and spit back at whoever it came from…but I don’t. (Not usually, anyway). I stuff it. Maybe not all neat and tidy. But I stuff it. Where I can find it, but nobody else can.

I know exactly where the stuff in me is and I can readily pull it out if needed, but mostly I just keep it there, where it doesn’t hurt anybody else.

If you tell me something that “hurts,” I can put it in the “hurt” pile and you and I can keep on moving along. I promise I won’t bring it back up, I’ll just stuff it. But if I do ever need to bring it back up…I readily can.

If you say something that makes me “angry,” I can put that in the “angry” pile and you and I can keep on moving along (possibly after a bit of a silent treatment…but it won’t last forever.) That can be a bit of a sloppy pile, but it’s tucked away where you won’t be affected by it, either.

But then one day, after all the stuff has been stuffed, and my piles get too big, it’s time to take them to the cleaners. I can’t stuff anymore. Like that basket of clothes that the lid won’t close on and you realize you can’t put anymore in until you wash what’s already stuffed inside.

So I have to take them out. One by one by one. And put them in the washing machine and clean them. And then air them out to dry. Well, this is what I should do anyway. A lot of times, they just pile up and up and up and then I implode.  Or explode.

My husband likes to say “a five gallon bucket will only hold five gallons.” Yeah, I’ve heard that one a lot. For some reason, I have this uncanny ability to stuff things. Emotional. Physical. It’s just something I do. I stuff.

So, when my bucket gets full and it can’t hold anymore, I often choose the wrong course of action and explode.

It’s all a girl can do somedays.

And for a minute I feel better. But whoever and whatever was in the general vicinity is now dirty from my explosion. Or wet from the “ugly cry.”

I really want to become better at taking my dirty piles and sorting them. One by one by one. Washing them clean with thought and forgiveness and Truth. Then I can air them out after they are cleaned. And one day I hope that by learning to do this, my piles won’t get so big in the first place. Then I can leave room for peace and contentment and a clean heart. Instead of a dirty heart.

By stuffing so much “ick” inside me, it can’t help but bleed over to other parts of me.

My attitude. My speech. My ability to love and forgive. My ability to TRUST. I seem to have a lack of that lately.

Why is it so hard to believe that God will take care of me, when He has never proven He won’t? It just is for me. I admit that. There is another confession. I am a worrier. Big time at times. It is a super-duper horrible flaw passed from one generation to the next.

I am also a recovering control-freak. I say “recovering,” because at least I want to be recovering from it.

I lose all control when I feel like I’ve lost all control.

That’s why quitting my full-time job with benefits most people would die for, to stay home and be a mother and teacher to my two children and pursue a photography dream was absolutely crazy. And I knew the day would come that I would second guess my decision. Did I really do what God was leading me to do? Will the money really come that we need to buy gas, groceries and pay insurance…much less keep the lights on and the telephone working?

So far it has. And I have to believe it will.

This post is for me today. Maybe someone else is struggling with their faith. I know through my reading in Genesis recently, so many of God’s huge “heroes of the Faith” struggled, too. Abraham and Sarah chose to take God’s promise for a baby into their own hands. It created heartache and undue stress. Find that story here.

Good reminder. Stay out of God’s way.

When He promises to do something…He will. In His time. In His way.

Sigh.

Yes, I need that reminder. Often.

I’m not perfect. Just perfectly imperfect, remember? And I’m working out my faith daily.  One tedious step at a time. Sometimes one needless worry at a time.

I’m working on it. He’s working on me. Together, with His help, I pray I’ll be better at it tomorrow than today.

But I have to take it one day at at time. I just need enough faith for today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Now, I think I’ll go clean some laundry.

Graciously,
Meredith

When your best isn’t good enough.

I’ve heard it. I’ve said it.

I’ve heard it a lot lately. Different people from different walks of life.

Completey separated. Sharing the same struggles. It never fails to amaze me how different we can be and yet so much the same.

Nothing I do is right. I cannot please anyone. I don’t even know what is right anymore. I’m just not sure God even hears my prayers.”

Been there? I have. And it’s a dark, lonely place to be. It’s the pit. Not “the pits”, as we say. But literally, the pit.

Our own hell on earth. And if we live long enough, we are all sure to fall in it at some point. For some unfortunate few, more than once in a lifetime. And for some it’s a daily hell.

Nobody knows. Nobody understands. Nobody can reach me.

I like it that way. Even if they could reach me, they wouldn’t have a rope strong enough or long enough to pull me out. I’ll just stay here. And die here.

That’s a a dangerous place to be. That’s a dangerous place to stay.

What others see as possible they see as impossible. What others see as “petty”, they see as earth shattering.

I made it out of my pit. Not alone. And not without a fight. But I made  it out.

I know others who didn’t.

I don’t want to know anyone else or love anyone else who doesn’t make it out of the pit. I will not give up on them without a fight. And I’m just human.

There is One who will also not give up on you in the pit without a fight. His rope is always long enough. Always strong enough. He is always there. Even when nobody else is. He always knows what you are feeling. Because He has felt it too.

Rejection. Despair. Grief. Anguish. Betrayal. Denial. Abandonment.

When the entire weight of the worlds sins were heaped on his gasping, bloody body, His one source of Life and Strength and Wisdom left him. Left him to die alone.

What’s so good about that? How could God abandon his Son when He needed Him most?

He did it so you and I would never experience that. We would never be alone. We would never have to know the true weight of our sin because He became our sin. Through his death and his resurrection we don’t  have to know death.

We may choose death. By denying the One who died so we don’t have to. But that’s our choice.

In turn, we can choose to live. We can choose to accept what’s been given for us.

We can take the rope handed to us and begin the dirty, hard, long and sometimes treacherous climb out of the pit. Towards the light.

We’ve been promised a way out. And God doesn’t lie. It’s impossible for God to lie. It’s not His nature. It’s our nature. Not His nature.

Remember that if you ever find yourself in the pit. Remind someone you know that is in the pit.

Our best doesn’t have to be good enough. Jesus’ best was good enough for all of us. And there is a way out. Into the Light.

Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

John 8:12 (ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The masks we wear.

I have a confession. I am officially “recovering” from many things in my life.

I’m a recovering perfectionist. A recovering do-gooder. A recovering wine lover. A recovering people pleaser.

I have always been good at making people believe I was who they thought I was. Who I thought they wanted me to be.

In the fray, I’ve become good at wearing a mask. Sometimes more than one mask. Masks are safe. They hide the ugly. Or at least the perceived ugly.

I’m reading (loosely termed) a book by Emily P. Freeman, “Grace for the Good Girl.” That is in-between toddler meltdowns, World War III stand-offs and WW wrestling match refereeing. I digress.  I am slowly reading this book and it is hitting home in a lot of ways. Not so great ways, but it’s making me think. And thus write. And I’m only in chapter 4, so there may be more of this book/soul review to come.

She is discussing the masks that “good girls” wear and I am finding I have worn or still wear so many on so many days. It’s so easy to put our worth in things other than what Jesus says is beautiful and right and lovely. It’s also easy to let our emotions get the best of us. It certainly is for me.

I quote Emily,

“Our fluctuating humanness is there on purpose, to remind us of our need and draw us to the One who can meet it.”

She goes on to talk about our emotions and that we may not know how or why they come, but we have to admit we have them and to embrace them.

Um, yes. I have emotions. Lots of them. And anyone in my household could attest to how fast and furious they can change. And this has been bothering me. A lot. I’m not supposed to be angry. I’m not supposed to struggle with depression. I’m not supposed to be “blah” on any given day for no given reason. But somedays I just am.

And these great words from this soul sister has reminded me why. Newsflash! I’m not supposed to get through this thing we call life on my own.  I’m supposed to turn to the One who created me, with every given emotion I feel and live…the good, the bad and the ugly.

Of course in the heat of the moment or depth of discouragement, Jesus is at times the last person I want to turn to. I don’t even know why. My own selfish pride, I suppose. I’m supposed to be able to fix things myself. But like I mentioned in An Island, there comes a time when I realize myself is not enough. I can’t do it alone. Then I turn to the One who can and will give me help.

Sometimes all I can muster is a simple, but earnest, “Help me. Father, please just help me.”

And He does. And there is comfort again. And there is hope again.

And I believe our Father loves a simple plea for help from His children. Knowing we never realize His worth and our need for Him until we finally offer that plea. And in Him we find the strength we need to climb another mountain. And referee another fight. And cook another meal for people who may not seem to care.

He cares. He knows. He loves you.  And if you are a recovering mask wearer like me, stay strong. Keep it off when you can. And when you forget or your emotions get the best of you…remember Who to turn to.

What a boring world it would be if we had no emotions. God gave them to us for a reason. He certainly wants us to experience them and find ways to harness them for His glory. And when we can’t, He wants us to come to Him for help. So we can go back out and finish the good work He has started in us.

I love being able to love. I love being able to cry. I thank my God that I can feel joy and even sadness. It shapes who I am. It makes me real. It gives me a reason to take the mask off. And just be me. And for you to just be you. Your Father wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love and Grace to my fellow recovering mask-wearers,
Meredith