In the silence.

I can’t help but think today what that day was like. The silence that the world experienced in the aftermath of His crucifixion and the deafening of the earth and temple splitting in response.

I wonder if the silence on this day wasn’t even more deafening that what happened the previous afternoon.

I imagine people stunned in silence. Wondering to themselves what had just happened. What had they done? Was this man really the Messiah after all? If not, what just happened? I mean, what. just. happened.

If He was who He said He was, why didn’t He save himself? Why didn’t He save them? 

They were expecting a king. A king like they knew a king to be. A ruler of men, not a ruler of hearts.

And on this day, the silence must have been audible.

And then again, I imagine there was intense weeping. Weeping among those who knew…or thought they knew…who Jesus was.

They had followed his every step. Hung on his every word. Seen every miracle He had performed. Believed in their hearts He was the Son of God.

Then why? Why did He die? And what next…?

And what about the women who loved Him so? His mother, Mary Magdalene and the other women…no doubt busying themselves to prepare his body the next morning in the way they were accustomed to do. Did they move in shocked silence or racking sobs throughout this day…or both?

How often have I been in the middle of a shock or tragedy or just plain fit of my own will…waiting in the silence for God to move. For God to just. do. something. And I try to keep busy, because busy dulls the anxiety of waiting. And I may stop and have a good ugly cry, because God made me emotional and sometimes I just need to get it out.

Sometimes in the middle…in the waiting…in the silence…is when God speaks the loudest.

In the Silence

 

Be still and know that I am God,” He says.

I can imagine Jesus lifeless body was crying the same silent words that Saturday. “Be still and know that I am God! I may appear dead, but you will see, you will SEE tomorrow that I. am. not!”

He is saying the same thing to me and to you today.

Be still, my child, and know that I am God. I am not dead. I am alive and therefore you can be alive with me. You don’t have to go through this life as a dead person. Dead inside. Full of everything but Me. I am the Life-Giver. Without Me you will always and only be empty, even when you are full. Nothing the world offers you will ever satisfy you or fill you the way I can. I created you with a hole only I can fill. In the silence of your soul, you know I exist. You choose whether you acknowledge me or not, but you know I exist. I made you to know. My handiwork is everywhere and I gave you senses to know it…if you have enough sense to accept it. A fool says there is no God. In the silence, you choose. Me or the world. But the choice is yours. I will not make you. I love you enough to let you decide. And in the middle of the silence, the grief storm you find yourself in, remember joy comes in the morning. The darkest hour is just before dawn and I am not only in the darkness with you, I will deliver you into the light, in My time and My will and My way.

Is it presumptuous of me to speak for God? Maybe so. But I stand on the Word of God because He gave it to me to stand on. And He gave it to you to stand on. Even in the silence. Even when the silence is deafening. He stands. Risen.

For His Glory,
Meredith

 

 

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On the other side of forgiveness.

Danville-Va-Landscape-Photographer

The chimes are singing their hi-pitched melody as I sit on the porch in this old metal chair and watch the sky turn steel gray. There’s a storm coming and the chimes aren’t the only ones singing a song. The bees are buzzing loud and darting quick, the birds are flittering about and the wind is stirring the just barely budding branches.

It’s holy week. The week we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and triumphal victory over death. In-between the entry and the ascension, a storm was brewing. In the hearts of those He came to save. Those who deserved nothing He had to offer or would eventually give.

Their hearts were black as night. Cold as death. They wanted Him to be what their desperate souls needed. A savior. A redeemer. But not in the way He would be both of those. They wanted it then. They were oppressed and they saw Jesus as their way out.

When He gave up, they gave in. To the bitter storm that brewed in their hearts against this Man they thought was coming to save them from their oppressors. Not realizing this Man was coming to save them from themselves.

In the greatest act of love ever displayed, Jesus forgave them. Even them. Even me. Those He came to save who wouldn’t lift His name in glory, but lifted his body high on a cross out of contempt.

What human being could possibly forgive like that? Only a perfect One. One THE perfect One.

And what does forgiveness offer the one that forgives? Freedom. Sweet, life-breathing freedom.

Jesus was separated in bondage from His father for those moments on the cross. But when it was finished and His love and forgiveness made complete, He was free. He was restored to His Father’s side. He was home.

I’ve known that freedom. Not from being a perfect person offering forgiveness to someone who wronged me. Instead, I wear the freedom from receiving forgiveness from someone I gravely wronged. In the worst way. And I didn’t deserve it from them any more than I deserved it from Christ. But I’ve been doubly blessed with both.

Sisters, never ever doubt the freedom that comes in forgiveness. Giving and receiving.

We may only have the ability to give, but if it needs to be asked for, then ask.

Regardless of getting in return, the asking in itself will free. And you’ve done the only part left for you to do.

Jesus did His part for you. He bids we do our part for Him. And not only for His sake, but for our own.

Unforgiveness robs freedom from the one holding on, not the one being held.

It’s time to live free. On the other side of forgiveness.

For His Glory,
Meredith

 


On Wednesday’s we have started a tradition of speaking “Woman to Woman.” Comment and follow on twitter or Facebook with #w2w. I’ve asked other sisters to join in the discussion by adding their own links below or by adding their thoughts in the comments. If you have a blog and would like to link your post, please link directly to your permalink (ie. https://4hisgloryblog.com/2014/04/02/woman-to-woman-patiently-impatient/) and not your homepage URL (ie. http://4hisgloryblog.com) by clicking on the little blue frog below. You can go back to the beginning to see the foundation for this community here. We would be humbled beyond belief to have you join in. The more voices speaking to one another, the more chance we will be heard and the more opportunity for healing and growing as sisters. And to spur one another on in love, we ask that you visit the person linked before you and comment to encourage. Our words matter. In giving and receiving, they matter. You matter. More than you know. We matter. xoxo- Meredith

For all the in-betweens

Danville-Va-Landscape-Photographer

Some days it seems I’m in-between more than anywhere.
In-between here and in-between there.

In-between who I was and who I want to be.
In-between where I’ve been and where I now see.

In-between dreams that have died and those just born.
In-between drop-offs, pick-ups and mess-ups galore.

In-between bedtimes that take too long and mornings that come too soon,
In-between the starry sky and bright side of the moon.

In-between great losses and bountiful gains.
In-between parched dryness and soul-quenching rain.

In-between should-have, could-have and would-haves if known.
In-between all the ways that show me I’ve grown.

In-between the girl of my youth and the woman she thought she’d be.
In-between the dreams of her past and ever present reality.

In the in-between is where I find myself these days.
And I’m starting to realize that is ok.

It’s ok to be where God’s put me to grow.
If that’s stuck in-between, then I’ll wait for the “go.”

Truth be known: life’s all one big in-between,
In-between the beginning, the end and eternity.

If the in-between’s are all we have, there really is no doubt,
We must make the most of all of them before our time runs out.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”- Solomon, (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding balance in the imbalance.

I seem to be full of confessions recently, don’t I? Well, I have another. This one is a lot easier for me to tell you through the words of this page, than if I had to tell you face-to-face. I have never read through the entire Bible.

Shame. I know. I have not.

I have tried unsuccessfully. The last couple of January’s have started with the best intentions. I would start gung-ho, full of fervor and grit to get. it. done. Then by the time I got to all those names and numbers and dates…my zeal would become less than zesty.  My desire became dry.

So recently I stumbled upon a Bible that Ann Voskamp recommended on her blog and it sounded right up my alley. I ordered the ESV Daily Reading Bible with my trusty Amazon Prime membership and had a reunion with my UPS driver two days later. We had a lot of catching up to do since our daily meets the entire month of December. I digress.

I. Love. This. Bible. It makes reading the Bible everyday POSSIBLE. Daily readings are broken down into a chapter of several books and can be done in fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. If I can’t give fifteen minutes a day to reading, studying and chewing on the only self-help, parenting and marital guide that has any answers worth following, then I  have a serious problem.

I’m speaking to myself here…and I’m sure you’ve heard the same…but I always have time to do what is important to me. I may say I don’t have time to do what I need to do. Whether it’s reading my bible, playing with my kids, volunteering at church or in the community…you name it. The truth is I have exactly enough time to do exactly what is important to me. And that’s what I do. I’m struggling with this a lot lately.

Finding balance in the imbalance is a daily struggle for me. At this point in my life, it’s not just a desire. It’s a true need. A necessity. If I don’t get this right now, I will not be getting anything else right either.

One small step is getting in the Word daily.

One BIG step is getting in the Word daily.

This is my life-blood. These are living, breathing words of Truth to get me through my day.  As a parent. As a wife. As a friend. As a disciple.  My one necessity.

How can I expect to have a relationship with my Savior if I don’t spend time in the only Word he has given me. I have said in the past, “I just wish God would come down and tell me exactly what He wants me to do. I would do it. I would really do it!” Only to realize now, He has. Every inspired word of the Bible is just enough. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s all there. The greatest Love story ever known. Ever told. For you. For me. And in it we will find ourselves. Practically and providentially. I’m ready to find myself this year.

Will you join me in this endeavor? An accountability partner would be great.

Some more great tips on reading through the Bible in a year can be found here. Jacque Watkins has a great guest post today on The MOB Society’s blog about this topic and inspired me to get this post written that has been on my heart for a few days. Thank you, Jacque! And thank you for following along another day on my faith journey.

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

An Island.

Islands have always intrigued me.  There is an island in front of the one place on earth that means more to me than anywhere. A tiny dot on the Pamlico Sound in eastern North Carolina called Jarvis Landing. My mom grew up there and my brother, cousins and I were fortunate enough to spend summers of our childhood along the river shore. The island in the river is called Indian Island. An apt name, as one time coastal indians inhabited it. Also an apt name, as it always had an air of mystery to me. It was just close enough to always be in sight and seemingly at arms length, but just far enough away to be out of reach. You could get to it by boat, but tale is the mosquitoes were big enough to eat you alive if you ventured out onto the shore. And there were stories of teens in the past swimming to the island. Not us, I assure you.

The thing about an island is that it stands alone.

Embraced by water, yet always alone.  Unto itself. Different. Set apart.

Some days I feel like an island. Different than everyone else. Knowing what I know about myself and perceiving nobody else could possibly be like me. Feel like me. Share my pain and struggles. Have the same story.

But I know this isn’t true, either. There are people that have the same story. I was reminded of one this morning in church. She was an outcast. She lived a life nobody accepted, except those that took advantage of what she had to give.  She was the one nobody wanted to associate with. The one with the scarlet letter around her neck that was both invisible, yet clearly seen. She wore her rejection in the way she carried herself, the lack of eye contact she made, the time of day she drew her water so as not to meet anyone else.  She was rejected by people who were supposed to be “her people.”  Then one day, one very ordinary day, she changed. She was offered “living water” by a man she had never met, but she knew he was different. He knew her story. He knew her sins. And He didn’t reject her. He loved her. She left the well that day different. Changed. Set apart. I don’t know the rest of her story, but I don’t have to. I know the best part. The part where she found grace and redemption at the feet of her Savior.

I know that part of her story personally.  I have lived it. I have my own scarlet letter. I have my own sin past. I have my own sin struggles. But I’ve been to the well. And Jesus met me there, too. My well happened to be sitting on a rock along a creek, no less. And on that rock, with water rushing by, I also accepted Jesus’ gift of living water. It didn’t make me a better person. It made me a new person. With a new identity. It was only after coming to the end of myself that I was able to realize I couldn’t make it through my life on my own terms. My way was. not. working. Only after giving myself up and surrendering to my Savior, did I find myself. I did not give up on myself…I gave myself up.

I need that reminder from time to time. That I’m not who I was then. I’m a new person. My past does not define me. It has a lot to do with who I am today, but it does not define me. Not now it doesn’t. Before Jesus…my past was my identity. After Jesus…He is my identity. I may be tricked into thinking different, but that is a lie straight out of hell.

I am an island, after all. I am different. I am set apart. I am being made new.

Read John 4.

Perfectly Imperfect.

In so many ways, on so many days…I long…I strive to be perfect.
The perfect mother. The perfect wife. The perfect friend. The perfect Christian.
Even when I know in my head and even in my heart that it is not attainable. I still want to be.

In so many ways, on so many days…I fail. Miserably.

Sometimes I feel like I live in a completely false world. Like we all live in a completely false world.

We share only what we want others to “like” on Facebook.
We tweet only the wittiest comments and quotable quotes.
We instagram the photos we know will be “hearted”.

I am human. I want to be liked. I want to be accepted. I want to BE what I’m supposed to BE.

So…on days like today, when I completely mess up at this gift of motherhood and yell at my kids for just being kids…it hurts.

And on days like today, when I lose my temper with my husband and can’t let the “small stuff” go…it hurts.

You see, the problem with living in a falsely perfect world, is that we aren’t perfect. And when our expectations are set on being perfect, eventually we fail and we fall. And in falling, we become susceptible to all kinds of temptations.

Satan has us right where he wants us. Living a lie. Then when the lie melts before our eyes, we are made vulnerable. Vulnerable to anything but good. Satan is our worst enemy. Not our rebellious two-year old. Not our uncooperative husbands. Not our crazy family. Satan alone. He is like a thief…that comes to steal. kill. and destroy. He hates me. He hates you. He hates our marriages and our families. He especially hates our children.

John 10:10 (ESV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…

So where is my hope? If this is my life and the world I live in, how can I ever be free? In my life, it looks like this…

FORGIVENESS.

I have to forgive myself. I have to seek forgiveness from those I’ve wronged.  And in asking and receiving forgiveness, there is freedom. I’m getting very good at asking forgiveness from my husband and my kids. I hope I only get better.

And then the rest of the story…

John 10:10 (ESV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Instead of living daily in defeat from being imperfect, why not try living life IN the only ONE who was and is Perfect, and claiming our perfect imperfection.  A life completely given to Jesus is the only life with an ounce of hope of making it through this perfectly imperfect world and bodies we inhabit.

Satan makes a lot of promises. He only carries through on what benefits his goals to steal, kill and destroy. God also makes a lot of promises to us in His Word. God’s promises are always fulfilled. Always true. Always just right. And He promises that IN JESUS we can have life and have it abundant. Not perfect. But he also says that in our weakness, He is made strong. Well folks, I give God plenty of opportunities to show his strength. And He does. And He will. He said so. And He’s proven it over and over again.

So, will I ever be perfect? No. Will I fail daily? Yes. But the more I can seek refuge in Jesus and forgiveness when it’s needed, the more complete my life will become. There will I find rest. There will I find peace. There will I find joy. And all in perfect imperfection.

Take heart friends. It’s perfectly ok. 😉

Monday Matters.

Monday, Monday. Anyone else dread Monday? Why would I dread Monday, you ask? I am a stay-at-home-mom with little to nothing pressing to do. Ha! Monday’s have to be the devil’s playground. So many things to do leftover from a weekend of not doing what you wanted to do and then it rained and you didn’t get to do anything outside and because your kids were cooped up inside you didn’t get anything done inside you really wanted to do, either. Got that? In my determination to do things “new” and “better”, I’d like to give my Monday’s to God and not Satan. To prepare for my week. Plan my meals. Start the week with a clean house. A fresh start to a new week.  Really, this shouldn’t be so hard. If I wasn’t so perfectly imperfect maybe it wouldn’t be.  I did start my day singing “This is the Day the Lord has made…” to my son. In my efforts to start his day off right, realizing I woke him up with my singing was probably not the nicest thing I could have done. I actually plan on spending the day with my best friend and her daughter cleaning our much neglected horses and barn. That sounds like a plan of success to me. After all, the housework will be here when I can get around to it, right? I guarantee you spending my day outside in mud with friends, my children and some of God’s best creation with four legs will start my week better than more time in my house getting nothing accomplished.

Hoping you get to start your week on the right foot…or the left foot…whichever one gets you going and going straight for a week of purpose. A week devoted to service. Remembering this…we know not how many more Monday’s we have left. What is really important? Do it…Today. Say it…Today. Live it…Today.  I know what is important to me. Asking that same question Pilate asked…”What shall I do with this Jesus they call Christ?” What shall I do with Him today? What shall you do with Him today? What if it’s your last Monday. Make it count.

James 4: 13-15 (ESV)

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

A blank page.

A blank page. That’s what I see. In some ways that’s how I feel. Perfectly imperfect. The overused “New Year…New You” statement keeps coming to mind. Sometimes I feel like I’m always being renewed. Re-made. Re-worked. I’ve had it on my heart and mind to create a blog where I can just write. I seem to have passions for many areas that I never feel quite up to par in. There is writing…I’ll try to work that out here. There is photography and I followed that hair-brained dream turned reality into a business this past year. Feel free to follow that journey here (under construction for a new site coming in April…yes, the “new” theme is rampant in my life right now.) I have a passion for singing…and God definitely did not bless with me with pipes to bless others…but I believe He enjoys my shower sonnets and my kids and I enjoy some loud moments of praise with hands lifted in my truck!

I came home from church this morning with a strong desire to finally get this blog going. Enough thinking. Time to do. Today’s sermon got me thinking. A lot. The question posed was from Matthew 27:22. As Jesus was standing drenched in his own blood from scourging, wearing a crown of thorns on his by then swollen and unrecognizable form, awaiting his “fate” from the people He came to serve and save, the man in charge of his release or death asked the crowd, “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” You know the rest of the story. His people chose his death.  It was his fate.  It became our hope.

The question raised then, beckons still now. In my life. In your life. We choose daily to deny or follow Christ. A choice to be indifferent is still a choice. I want to choose Him. I want to be a “better” daughter to my Savior. I want to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend…the list goes on. I want to. I really do. But above all, I want to choose daily to do something with my Christ. I want to love Him more. Better. I want to serve Him more. Better. I hope by hashing my thoughts out here I can start the journey to answering this question daily. And to always and forever answer the question of what I am doing with my Christ…for His glory. Always for His glory. Only for His glory.

Will I fail? Yes. I’m perfectly imperfect, remember? But He’s not done with me yet. Praise the Lord, He’s not done with me yet.