Why it’s not okay to let our feelings define us.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
Proverbs 31:25

I wish I could say this defined me today. Clothed in strength and dignity. Laughing at the time to come.

But that’s not what I’m feeling and maybe therein lies the problem. That’s not what I’m feeling. I’m not wearing it on the inside, so I can’t wear it on the outside.

Feelings are dangerous. If we let our feelings define us, we are not letting our relationship with God define us. And if we have no relationship with God, then we have no other recourse than to let our feelings control our life.

But in Christ, we have a different choice.

I want to be the picture of strength and dignity defined here. I want to be strong in the eyes of my husband and children. I want to be dignified in my words and actions, but I fail more often than not.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary has this to say about this verse,

She enjoys a firmness and constancy of mind, has spirit to bear up under the many crosses and disappointments which even the wise and virtuous must expect to meet with in this world; and this is her clothing…”

So many days I feel much less than constant in my mind and much less than able to bear under the many crosses and disappointments.

Disappointments in myself, my children, my husband and people I hold close to my heart. Those are the only people that can truly disappoint us anyway. Those we hold close. Those are the ones that matter. And how we react to the disappointment says a lot about the condition of our heart.

I find myself withdrawing when my feelings are hurt or I can’t measure up to someone’s perceived expectations from me. I would rather dig a pity hole, curl up in it and wallow around for a while than face it like a poised and dignified woman and “get over it.”

This is not the picture of strength and dignity that I want to model to my children or husband or anyone else watching me. And, oh, people are watching me and they are watching you.

The little eyes in my home are watching how mama reacts and learning from every reaction. Good or bad.

The eyes of my husband are watching how I react to the crosses and disappointments I encounter and seeing whether this God I follow is worth following or not, based on how I react. That’s truth. And that’s the reminder I need today.

Crosses will come. Disappointments will be had. But they don’t have to define us.


When feelings define us, we leave faith behind us.

These trials are actually wonderful opportunities to shine for His glory. And in the end, that’s what this Proverbs 31 woman being described does in every facet. She shines for His glory. Even if she doesn’t feel like it.

And even the “wise and virtuous” have “bad” days. Jesus did. And He always chose to react with strength and dignity. So can we. It just may take some of us longer than others to learn how to wear these clothes…at least it is taking some stretching for me.

So for now, I’ll keep reminding myself why it’s not ok to let my feelings define me. And why it’s so very important that I learn to wear these clothes of strength and dignity. Not only for the sake of the eyes watching me, but for Christ’s sake.

For His Glory,

woman 2 woman

{It’s Woman to Woman Wednesday on the blog and we would love to have you link-up with your thoughts on any verse in Proverbs 31 today. We also invite you to visit the others that are linked-up through the cute blue frog below. If today is too short notice, plan on joining us next week to discuss any verse from Proverbs 31 and we’ll look forward to your words. Hash your thoughts out with us using #w2w and please link posts back here. You can also grab the W2W button for your site if you wish. Graciously and For His Glory, Meredith}

A new day.

I’ve caught myself doing something recently that I’ve never done much of.
There are websites committed just to this (People of Walmart, anyone?), but it’s never been something I’ve spent much time doing.

People watching.

Taking in what’s going on around me, more than what’s necessarily going on in me.

Even though I believe my recent increase of self-awareness has probably led to this desire for people awareness.

It’s happened in worship service, the grocery store, the gas station, in the chair at the salon.

Listening. Watching. Wondering…
What’s going on in their life?
Where are their priorities?
What are they going home to?
What’s the big thing in their life that weighs them down?

We all have that “big thing” going on at any given time, don’t we?

Maybe you would say I’m just being nosy… and there have certainly been times in my life when I have people watched for that reason.

This is different.

I’m not listening, watching or wondering because I want to be able to compare my life or my problems to theirs.
I’m listening, watching and wondering because I realize we are all so very alike even in our very different skin.

As much as we all are different, we are all very much the same.


And in that sameness, there is oneness.

And in that oneness, there is freedom.

Freedom to love.
Freedom to embrace.
Freedom to accept.
Freedom to forgive.
Freedom to just be who God made us to be.

On this Monday after that Sunday, I consider the freedom that Jesus’s followers must have felt on that day.

When they finally realized He really was who He said He was.

He really did conquer death and hell and the grave.

In His freedom, they found their freedom.

In His freedom, we find our freedom.

The same power that freed Jesus from those blood soaked linen cloths and dirt enclosed tomb…that very. same. power. is yours and mine for the claiming.

That Monday wasn’t only a new day for His followers, it was a new day for those who hung him on that tree. And it was a new day for you and me.

As much as I hate to think of those people that beat and scourged him to the point that he was unrecognizable as a human and then literally nailed his still living corpse to that cross…I realize my sin was just as much responsible for putting Him there as theirs. I see that now.

Yet even in my deepest, darkest sin, He died for me. And you. And them.

And by Monday He was free. And so were we.

That is worth praising God for.
That is worth loving people for.
That is worth cherishing a new day for.

For His Glory forever and ever,


The stuff dreams are made of.

I’ve never considered myself a dreamer. A realist? Practical? Yes. A dreamer? No.

I don’t particularly see the glass as half full or half empty. I just see a glass with water in it. That’s the truth anyway, right?

I have also never considered myself an artist. Never. Ever. That is a term left for people that dance or paint or wear cut off sweatshirts that hang off one shoulder and have long, pretty hair. That’s never been me. Ever.

So the fact that these two words have been flittering around in my over-crowded brain recently has got me thinking. And now writing.

Am I a dreamer? Maybe I am. Maybe I’ve always been and I never took the time to embrace that part of me desiring to be let loose. To dream.

Am I an artist? Maybe I am. Maybe I’ve always had a vision in me that has never felt worthy of a place to land or be made known.

Because I am also a doubter. There is no doubt, this is truth. I’m not proud of my inclination to fear and worry and I can say I come by it naturally and that wouldn’t be a lie either. But, it’s also not an excuse.

I fear the unknown. I fear failing. I fear what I’m sure will happen even though it (usually) never does.

In all the years of trying to be something and someone I’ve made myself believe I am, maybe I’ve left the person I really am behind.

And that’s who I’m in the process of now discovering. This dreamer. This artist. I feel weird even putting those two words in association with “me.” But here I am eternalizing it and there is freedom in the saying so.


Sometimes we have to step out of who we have been to become who we really are. 

Sometimes we have to embrace the person God made us to be in spite of the fear that says we can’t. 

Sometimes we have to let go and let God in order to hold on to the person He made us to be.

I’m attempting to be and do bigger things than I’ve ever attempted. Not in my own power, which would be futile.

Only in His power and His way and His time will the picture be painted and eventually perfected. The portrait of my life.

He wants to do the same in us all. He wants us to hand Him the paintbrush and the pen and let Him write the words and paint the strokes over our lives the way He already has them laid out.

Our life is not ours to paint. He alone gives and He alone takes away. He has the perfect portrait of our life hanging in His house. We don’t get to see it until the day We are called Home as His children. And we never get to see it if we don’t call Him Father.


My pastor explained well how when one writes a letter our handwriting may tend to change along with the mood of our words.

Friend, the words of our lives change. Seasons of life come and go and people come and go and the one constant in life seems to be change. But there is another constant that is truly constant.

His name is God. The Creator. The Master Painter. The Perfect Penman. Who has written your story and painted my portrait perfectly.

He bids us to open our eyes to what He is writing and painting and to embrace what He has created as it changes and He stays the same.

Always there. Always with us. Always for us. Writing. Painting. The words of our life.

As we dare to dream what He has in store for us. What He has planned for us. Believing that all things really do work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. This is truth.

This is the stuff dreams are made of.

Your newfound dreamer,

What are you dreaming today? I’d love to hear…




Grace in the Gap.

She’s home now. At peace now. That woman whose hug and collards felt like home.

Reunited with those who left her before she was ready to let them go.

There’s peace knowing where she is. With her Maker.

Face to face with the One who created her.

I wonder what she did when she saw Him.

Fall prostrate at His feet?
Run up to Him for an embrace?
Stand in awe with no words? What could one say, anyway?

And before she left she was graced.

In the gap between here and there…she was graced.

With visits from family she rarely got to see…not knowing she wouldn’t see again.
With last days spent in peace and with those she loved by her side.
Last moments in the presence of a grandchild and daughter.

Some call it good fortune, good luck, good karma. Whatever that is.

I call it Grace. And I’ve seen it before in times like this.

When my mother died one morning from a sudden heart attack and shared her last night on earth with her very best friends and then a late night talk with me. None of us realizing it was the last words we would share with her…
That was Grace. Nothing less.

When my other Granny gave up her fight with dialysis and her loved ones spent a week telling her goodbye and at her side as she was ushered into Glory. And that grace offering of being able to sing “Amazing Grace” to her sweet frame in that bed the last night she drew breath as she had sung to me so many times as a child…
That was Grace. Nothing more.

I’m now motherless and grandmother-less and I’m at peace. Because these three women breathed life into me and so many others while they were here. And that breath lives on in those they exhaled life into.

And in the gap that I’m in now…between today and eternity…there is grace.

There is grace in the gap for all of us. We don’t always see it or feel it or know it. But it’s always there.

Grace beckons to be received. His name is Jesus.

His grace was poured out on the cross in a pool of blood. And it covers those who claim it.

Covers us in peace like we’ve never known. Covers us white as snow.

Oh, yes, there is grace in the gap. Between the now and then and here and there.

There is infinite Grace if we take the time to see it and feel it and live in it.

Go in Grace today and claim it. It’s yours and it’s mine.

Graciously in the Gap,




A Grace Hog.

I feel like I need to make another confession. Yep. Another.

Remember the disclaimer I made when I first started this blog…about being perfectly imperfect? Well, just making sure you know that still applies. I still wear it like a little black dress…that I’ve never worn. Always wanted an occasion…anyway.

Yep, it still fits perfectly. To a “t”. Perfectly Imperfect. That’s me.

I feel like maybe some may get the impression since I’m now blogging and claiming wonderful truths…that are still and will always be true…maybe I have my act all together. Maybe my life is “perfect.” Maybe my marriage and my kids and family are just perfect.

Sorry to disappoint. Nope. Not perfect. I mess up. A lot. I get angry at my husband and say things I shouldn’t. I get angry with my kids and say things I shouldn’t. I get angry at myself…and say things I shouldn’t.

I should go delete my blog and Facebook page RIGHT now.

That’s what I told myself earlier after I got mad with my husband, said a short word and hung up the phone on him. Yeah, I did that. I was mad.

And maybe I should. Deleter this and my page where I try to encourage you everyday.  And I’m sure the devil would be very happy if I did. So I won’t. Not yet.

Not until I am perfect and I have nothing left to say to anyone else who’s not perfect. Then I won’t be able to relate to you and you won’t be able to relate to me. There will be nothing left to say.

So for now, I’ll keep saying what I feel God is telling me to say or at least what I feel He’s saying to me.

And right now, He’s telling me to repent. Seek forgiveness from my man and from Him. And I will. And it won’t be easy. It never is. But it’s the right thing to do.

After a right decision there is always a right reward.

I’m sorry if I burst your bubble that I was really more than I am today. I’m not. I’m still a perfectly imperfect wife and mama just trying to make it through another day. I use more than my share of grace on most days. Most hours. Most minutes.

I’m a grace hog.

Really, I am. A pure-T grace hog. I don’t do it on purpose, it just happens because my life can be messy. And I have no one to blame but me for making it that way. And no one to thank for covering me in Grace but my Savior.

It is sweet relief to be able to take a deep breath, reflect and know you are covered in grace. I really don’t know how I’d make it another day without that reality in my life. If you’ve never experienced it, you are missing out. You are missing out on peace here and peace forevermore.

Your perfectly imperfect grace-hog,

Five Minute Friday: {willing}

She wants it when she wants it. That’s my three-year olds new way of saying she is done with her supper.

She will finish it later. When she wants it. When she gets hungry. Not sooner.

That tiny soul’s defiant spirit can draw me into my alter-ego as the “Mother of Rage” quicker than my girl can change her mind about what she wants to eat. And that’s quick.

If she isn’t willing, she’s not going to cooperate. She’s not going to listen. She’s not going to care what I have to say. Until I make her care. And trying to make her listen and care and cooperate is something I’ve not been as willing to learn as I should have.


This raising kids is hard. I always heard that and believed it, but I didn’t really believe it until I had them.

The scariest part for me is, I’m starting to see a lot of myself in this little ball of fire that melts my heart one minute and the next instant is setting my heart on fire. Literally on fire with fury. I know she is like me. At three. And it scares me what fifteen will look like. Because I remember me at fifteen. 

The question I have to ask myself is am I willing to change me to direct her to Him?

To who? To the only One who will ever be able to use that fiery spirit for the greater good…for His good. And Jesus can. He’s the only One who can. And will. If I’m willing.


So today, I pray that I would be willing. Willing to listen to what God is telling me through His word. The only self-help book that is going to have ALL the answers. And it does. I believe that. I just have to be willing to read and listen and respond.

And I pray that in my willingness He would make me able. To follow-through. Even when it hurts. And most of the time it hurts me more than it hurts her. But in the end, I don’t want to just be her friend, I want to the be one that showed her the way to Life.


I’m a mess. I don’t know what I’m doing. I doubt I ever will. But I know the One that knows what He’s doing and if I’m willing to let him…He will show me the way, too.

Parent…take heart. We don’t have to have all the answers. We just have to know the One who does…and be willing to listen and respond. He is always willing to answer. They were His before they were ours, after all.



This post was in conjunction with Lisa Jo-Baker’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt for today which was “willing.” This awesome community takes her weekly prompt and writes for 5 minutes (give or take) 😉 just to get the raw, real emotion out that the word is speaking to us. No fluff. No stuff. Just writing. Feel free to come along…and as she says, everyone’s a writer. We all have it in us. 

In the gap.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

So, there’s this person. This person that God has given me.

That sounds a little selfish, but that’s what He’s done. He’s given her to me.

Confidant. Shoulder. Sister. Friend. She “gets” me and I “get” her.

Polar opposites, yet completely the same.

It’s a miracle in itself how two totally different paths can merge together on the same road.


She has taught me a lot about myself. And life. And God. And she has no clue.

She blesses me. And she has no clue.

She would say I bless her. I would beg to differ, but I’ll take it. If she feels blessed by me, I know the feeling is double on my end.

There was a time when I thought I had lost her. It broke me. A series of misunderstandings and miscommunication and mistruths led to missing each other. For a while. And then we found our way back…to each other. To this friendship.

This person has stood in the gap for me. Gone to the altar for me. Prayed over me and with me when life has been messy. And it gets messy, this life does.

And grace is never sweeter than right smack dab in the middle of life’s biggest messes.

The pound cake that falls is better any day than the one that is perfectly perfect. I know. I’ve eaten many a sacrificed fallen poundcake from my Granny’s kitchen.

And in return, not out of duty or obligation, but out of love, I’ve stood in the gap for my friend. Gone to the altar for her.

Because I love her. Because God loves her. She knows this, but sometimes we just need someone to stand in the gap for us when we can’t find the strength to stand there alone.

Even with God, we can feel alone sometimes.


And I think that’s when He puts people in our lives to stand in the gap with us. For us.

He puts people in our lives to go to the altar for us when we can’t find the strength to go ourselves. 

Our God is just. that. gracious. That merciful. And His Grace is sufficient.

In our weakness, it is all. we. have. God’s grace is all we have. 

It was sufficient for Paul. He had seen God in all His glory. He had experienced Heaven and it was so grand he couldn’t begin to speak of it. He would never have done it justice.

And then he came back. Back to this ugly, sinister world ready to chew him up and spit him out. With a thorn. A thorn that dug in him daily and a voice from Satan constantly whispering to him that he wasn’t good enough. A voice saying God didn’t love him. God cared about everyone else around him, but He didn’t care about him or He would take his thorn away.

Really? If God didn’t love him, God would never have given him that thorn. 

There’s a thought. Maybe God gives us trials and pains and disease and sickness and hurt because He loves us that much.

Because He knows without them, we will never look to Him. We will forget who put us here. Who gave us this life. And Who ultimately takes life away. But Who also gives us the freedom to choose where we go when our time here is up.

And that same God gives us people to stand in the gap for us when we are too weak to stand. To go to the altar for us when we are too numb to move. It hurts too much. It just hurts.

I thought at one point in my life I would never have “this” person in my life. I had sinned too bad. Gone too far. Gave up all the blessings He had given me and I would have to lie in my bed that I made. Friendless. Alone. No other woman to share what only you can share with another woman. Because we “get” each other.

I didn’t even pray for a friend. I just prayed that I would make it through the valley I found myself in. And He answered my unspoken prayer anyway. Because that’s the kind of God we serve. One that cares and answers prayers we aren’t even equipped to pray.

He knows our hearts cry even when we don’t make it known. 


As my pastor said, perhaps the one question we never really want God to ask is this, “Is my grace sufficient for you?”

That question from God that whispers in my soul…”Is my grace alone really enough for you, Meredith?”

The answer for me has often been, “no.” No, it’s not. I need more. I need relief and peace and healing.

But I’m so glad He doesn’t choose to turn His grace away even when I’m not ready to receive it as the ONLY answer.

He continues to give it anyway. And when I realize it is all I have to lean on, there it is. And it’s sweet relief.

His grace is sweet relief for the hurt, the pain, the illness, the doubts, the fears, the worry, the loneliness, the stress, the unbelief, the lot in life we find ourselves.

It turns out His grace is sufficient, after all.

And thank God for that. Thank you, God, for your GRACE. Your all-sufficient Grace. Available at all times, even in the gap.

And thank you, God, for the One you provided to stand IN THE GAP for US ALL. Jesus stood in the gap, so we didn’t have to. And now the gap has been covered. And He waits with open arms for His children. One. Sweet. Day.


Today’s post was inspired from Pastor Brian Edwards’ message, Sunday, March 2, 2014 at Blessed Hope, Danville, VA.

The lovely ladies in these photos are two sweet friends I had the opportunity to photograph last fall that gave me permission to use their photographs.

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. 😉



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.