[Missions] Claimed

Island

There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God & counter-claimed by Satan. | C.S. Lewis

God is taking back His island.

I witnessed it firsthand in the trenches of the island of old cars.

In the matter of four days of ministry, a team of ordinary men and women had front row seats to the extraordinary. Over and over the gospel was preached and lives were changed … 650 people heard of God’s great love for them and 542 responded to the tender tug on their hearts.

It was a fishing trip like none I’ve experienced before. I can’t wait to tell you more.

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[Reflection] Walking Tall

Today marks the end of a season of waiting. For a year, I’ve been allowed to trust The Lord more than I’ve ever experienced before. Notice that I’ve been allowed to trust The Lord. I could say I was forced to trust God during a year’s worth of interesting circumstances, but that makes it sound like God doesn’t give us the option to follow and trust in His divine plan. We have two options in every situation: to follow, or not to follow. I could have easily wiped my hands of God when the going got tough, but pressure creates diamonds. This year has been a refining processes. I’m still flawed, but I walk taller and with more pep in my step knowing that God is worthy of unwavering trust.

If you asked me on December 15, 2012 how the next year would unfold, I would have responded with internships leading to full time positions, a cozy apartment in Austin draped with excessive decorations, and a comfortable salary. Today, I woke up on a pullout couch, am starting a new job in an unfamiliar place (which I’m ecstatic about!) and will be moving into an apartment with minimal furnishings soon. My cup overflows in ways I was not expecting, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that the The Lords plans trumped my own.

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

My heart wanted comfort, The Lord wanted my trust. I haven’t seen my bed in a year. I’ve lived in a condo, the spare bedroom of a family’s home, and a photography studio. I’ve interned at a university and minor league baseball team. I’ve worked for a non-profit, wedding planner, and photographer. I’ve spent a week in a third world country. I’ve made life-long friends. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. And The Lord has been trustworthy through it all. I’ve often sang “You are faithful,” and now my heart believes it. When I replay the events of this last year, I see God’s fingerprints in every frame. I’m thankful for every unexpected turn, every closed door and every moment I’ve had the option to stay in the boat or walk in faith across unchartered waters.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

myTunes Monday

This weekend I saw Grace Unplugged with a friend and it was AWESOME! I think it does a great job of portraying temptation and how difficult it can be to resist the futile things this world offers. The movie also has an incredible soundtrack and I fell in love with a song titled “All I’ve Ever Needed.” I’ve listened to it non-stop since Friday, so it’s only natural that I choose it for this week’s myTunes Monday. Enjoy!

Honestly it’s time for honesty
My heart is on my sleeve
Oh will you hear me out?
I’ve got nothing left to give of me
I gave up everything
So there is nothing less to loose from me now
But you forgive me somehow.

I’ve chased a million things
Bright lights and empty dreams
Now here I am
Right where I thought I wanted to be
I’ll trade it all right now
Leave it all and lay it down
To get back to where I belong
Lord all I’ve ever needed was your love.

Truth be told I made this world my home
I let it steal my soul, but now I want it back
Cause all I need is waiting
In your arms a place to hang my heart
Where I am known at last
You’re the one true thing I have.

I’ve chased a million things
Bright lights and empty dreams
Now here I am
Right where I thought I wanted to be
I’ll trade it all right now
Leave it all and lay it down
To get back to where I belong
Lord all I’ve ever needed was your love.

And I know that I was meant to be
More than just a melody
I know that You had hopes for me
I hope you still believe in me…

I’ve chased a million things
Bright lights and empty dreams
Now here I am
Right where I thought I wanted to be
I’ll trade it all right now
Leave it all and lay it down
To get back to where I belong
Lord all I’ve ever needed was your love
Lord all I’ve needed was Your love.

LADIES: You need to hear this.

FaithIt is a place of encouragement where Truth and examples of Christ-like love are shared. Based on that one sentence, you can understand why I’m attracted to the site. We all need encouragement as we walk the road less traveled. If you’re a Woman of God and have fallen victim to lies from the enemy, enjoy the video below and revel at your identity in The King.

Lovely.

I had a lovely dinner with an even lovelier friend last night, and naturally things we talked about sparked a few thoughts. As we parted ways, she voiced to me that she loved the enthusiasm I have for happenings in her life. I don’t share this to toot my own horn, but rather to make a point. As much as I appreciated her kind words, she noticed that characteristic in me because it isn’t found in all friendships. I don’t like that.

A friend should get excited about the things that ignite their friend’s passions, whether those passions are photography, design, sports, fashion or missions. When we see someone we love across the table beaming about something that brings God glory, we should encourage them to pursue those things in a full-out sprint. After all, I think that’s what friends are for.

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Not only am I blessed to call this precious woman my friend, but thanks to Jesus I get to call her sister. If you’re in Christ, she’s your sister too! How cool is that?! And it gets even cooler. She leaves for Haiti TODAY and you can play a part in the adventure that’s unfolding! Would you join me in covering Katie and her crew in prayer?

Life to the Fullest

I know it’s old news, but I’m obsessed with Kid President. His optimism inspires me and his message is powerful (not to mention he may be one of the cutest kids ever). We can learn a lot from his pep talk about what God expects of us while we’re spending time in this temporary home. So often we get caught up in the negative things happening during the day and forget that we are like mist that appears for a while and then vanishes (James 4:14). Even on the worst days our hearts are beating and air is filling our lungs. These two truths are a gift because none of us deserve another heartbeat or breath. I deserve the death Jesus died. I deserve the beatings, the nails, the pierced side, but He took the pain for me and for YOU. That Truth should change the way you look at life when you wake up in the morning. Someone died for YOU so that you can live the fullest life!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. -Jesus

I’d like to challenge you to look at the glass half full and live a life of freedom that is found only in Christ. Laugh until it hurts, dance like no one’s watching, play a part in making someone’s day a little bit better by making them smile, and live in a way that makes people wonder why you are always joyful. Whatever you are doing, do it enthusiastically as something done for the Lord and not for man (Colossians 3:23). Let Christ be your motivation to stay positive. Let every breath and heartbeat be a reminder of a future you will be spending in Heaven. Christ died, so that you could live. Do something about it!

This is life people. You got air coming from your nose!  You got a heartbeat. That means it’s time to do something!

Protection, Provision and Port-au-Prince, Haiti

We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. -Hebrews 6:19

I’m just a product of grace spreading hope to the hopeless. In everything I do, I want to shine a glimmer of hope into people’s lives in their darkest hours. As a Christ follower, I want to help people realize better days are coming and have been promised by our Sovereign God. When we feel like the flood of life threatens to drown us, God is still sitting on His thrown making all things work together for our ultimate good. In the storms of life, He is the anchor of our soul keeping us afloat.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. -2 Corinthian 5:17

Over the course of my college career, God has transformed my heart and He continues to mold me into who He wants me to be daily. In the past four years I have served wholeheartedly for Fellowship of Christian Athletes at St. Edward’s University and throughout Texas at summer camps and retreats, and in Memphis, Tennessee over spring break. Every opportunity to serve has impacted my life and closer aligned my heart to God’s ultimate plan to make His name known across the globe. I’ve felt unworthy, uncomfortable, and fearful many times, but God has revealed to me that all of those insecurities are lies and has used these experiences to show me that my love story defined by His passionate pursuit of my heart has the power to impact lives for His kingdom.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. -Proverbs 16:9

Recently God has laid it on my heart to once again use my spring break to make much of Him and less of me. In the last month, I’ve been praying for discernment for where He wants me to go. All of the options were appealing (Memphis, South Padre Island, Haiti) and would require me to take a leap of faith outside of my comfort zone to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Internally and externally I’ve toyed with safety issues and the uncertainty of raising support for whichever trip I chose. After all, I’m graduating from college in a month, have no definitive plans, a dwindling savings account, and currently no place to live. So much of my life is up in the air, but oddly enough I’m worry free. Maybe, just maybe, this control freak is beginning to grasp what it truly means to let go, and let God determine my steps. Woah.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8

After much prayer, two weeks ago I made my decision. I’ve never felt more convicted or excited to share that I will be spending a week in Haiti with Mission of Hope. Serving in Memphis revealed to me what it’s like to have little in the United States and how God can make beautiful things out of dust. In Haiti, I look forward to seeing beauty amidst destruction, seeing joy in smiles of the children at the orphanage, and witnessing to the hope found in the Haitian communities.

As soon as I committed to the trip I had butterflies in the pit of my stomach in anxious anticipation for how God is going to reveal Himself to the Haitians I will be serving and to me. All the fears of safety and finances that consumed my thoughts have dissolved and as I begin writing support letters through tears of joy I’ve never felt more trusting of my loving Father. God has had His hand on me from the beginning of time and looking back it seems ludicrous that I ever feared for my safety or questioned His ability to provide for something that is apart of His will for my life. No, I have not raised enough support for the trip, but I have five months to watch God work and have complete faith in His provision. In the process, through conversations, support letters, and blogging, I get to share why I’m going to Haiti as another way to attest to God’s glory. How cool is that?!

Bondye Bon (God is good),

Meredith

P.S. If you are interested in supporting my trip, prayer is greatly appreciated. If you feel called to support financially, you can donate online at the link listed below. Be sure to include HAITI & MEREDITH BARD in the description line.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. -Matthew 28:19-20

 

A Game of Grace

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” – Psalm 103:8

An act of grace that I experience everyday, but often overlook, blind-sighted me this past week.

I’m a collegiate volleyball player with only a handful of matches left before I join the NARP (Non-Athletic Regular Person – no offense intended) life. I have played 122 games under the guidance of my coaches before realizing their forgiving and gracious nature that so closely mirrors that of Jesus (If you’re reading this, thank you for doing way more than what’s required. You both are awesome!).

My coaches are disciplined. If you wear the wrong shirt to practice, or wear it inside-out in some of my teammates’ cases, you run. If the team falls short of a goal, we run. If you forget your team notebook, also jokingly referred to as the volleyball bible, you run. If you forget to collect grade reports from your professors, you run. And the list goes on and on. We have rules that we are expected to follow, and when we fall short – and all of us have – we run. After completing the fun-time (don’t let the name fool you), egg, or suicide, the incident is forgotten and we move on.

I don’t know if you’re catching my drift, after all it took me almost four complete years to realize it, but that is a pretty darn good example of God’s grace. In the Old Testament we’re given rules to follow, but we cannot live up to the expectations of those rules. Knowing that we couldn’t walk in righteousness without a crutch, God sent His son to follow all the rules in flawless fashion. What a stud. After 33 perfect years, Jesus died a criminal’s death on a cross that WE deserved as sacrifice for all of our sins – past, present, and future. All we have to do is declare and BELIEVE Jesus is Lord and that He resurrected from the dead and our sins are graciously forgiven.

Although my coaches display grace and forgiveness, our debt for breaking the rules still has to be paid. Here’s where God’s grace becomes an absolute steal for Christ followers. While my coaches say do *insert consequence* when we mess up, Jesus says our mistakes have already been forgiven at the cross. We don’t have to pay back our wages of sin because “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Yes, God wants us to realize our mistakes, but He doesn’t want us to dwell on them. He simply wants us to repent and believe.

Although our debt has been paid, that doesn’t mean we won’t sin. Just like I have forgotten to turn in grade reports and my team has failed to reach a goal, in our walks with Christ we will face bumps in the road. During those hard times, and the good times, we’re repeatedly given God’s grace through Jesus as a crutch to help us limp through the pearly gates onto the streets of gold.

I can’t praise God enough for the beautiful example of His grace displayed through my coaches. As thankful as I am for their presence in my life, I am eternally grateful for the grace shown at the cross.

Grace and Peace,

Meredith

“But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved!”                       -Ephesians 2:4-5

Pencil Me In

“…Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Mark 2:17

God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He doesn’t call those who are able, but those who make themselves AVAILABLE! I have been reminded of these two thoughts over and over again as I’ve served. So often I catch myself thinking I’m not good enough to be used as a vessel to lead others to Christ, but that is a flat out LIE! I am capable, and so are you! The key is being available. If you offer up your time to serve wholeheartedly, God isn’t going to let you fail. He’s too good for that.

Lately, the idea of being available has pulled on my heartstrings. When you look at the lives of people in the Bible, they are always available to share the Good News we’ve also been blessed to hear. Take the apostle Paul for example:

For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law – though I myself am not under the law – to win those under the law. To those outside the law, like one outside the law – not being outside God’s law, but under the law of Christ – to win those outside the law. To the weak, I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some.” -1 Corinthians 9:19-22

Paul became whatever he needed to be in order to share the Gospel. Take a moment to think about where God has placed you to serve. Whether it be behind a desk, on the sidelines coaching, on the court/field playing a sport, in a classroom learning, etc. you’re there for a specific purpose. Our entire life goal is to make much of God and less of us (John 3:30). When you’re interacting with a coworker, teammate, or classmate, eternity is on the line and you have the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through you to make an impact on that person’s life that completely changes the game (Stick that in your juice box and suck it Satan! – sorry, inner monologue…). You may be the only Jesus that person sees, live like that is a big deal! Are you willing to make yourself available in whatever environment you’ve been placed in?

In Romans 8:29 we’re told to conform to the image of Jesus Christ. Well guess what?! You guessed it – Jesus made himself available!

While He was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also guests with Jesus and His disciples, because there were many who were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Mark 2:15-17

Jesus was God in the flesh and the only righteous person to ever walk the earth. If we were capable of  walking in righteousness, He wouldn’t have needed to come to save us all (John 3:16). He dined with sinners because He knew they needed Him. That person you run into on a daily basis may need you to show them Jesus too. Even if they may not be the first person on your list to grab lunch or coffee with, make yourself available like Jesus and Paul did.

Living our day to day lives without making ourselves available to share Christ is like knowing the cure to cancer and keeping it to ourselves. We know the cure, its our time to share it! Be a nurse who relays the message from the doctor (Jesus) to the patient! You never know if the patient is pleading for you to pencil them in.

Your sister in Christ,

Meredith

 

“My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with a boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” -Philippians 1:20