When Life Hurts

When Life Hurts

by Meredith Mills


Sometimes life is really hard.

As a nation, we’ve experienced some tragic events lately – from the Las Vegas massacre to hurricanes and wild fires leaving destruction in their wake.


Closer to home, several dear friends lost loved ones in the last few weeks. We attended one funeral on Saturday – a dearly loved husband and father. Unexpected. Much too soon. Today, my husband played piano for yet another funeral – a beloved wife of nearly 59 years. Still too soon.

So much pain and heartache. Such enormous needs.

Many of us carry “smaller” burdens, concerns we voice to no one. Fears that plague us when we’re all alone. Important to us, nonetheless.

Whether your needs are immense or you carry less-big burdens today, my prayer for you is this:

May you find hope in the presence of God who promises it won’t always be this way.

May His love be a balm to your soul.

May you know the healing power of the One who is also acquainted with grief.

May His nearness be your ever-present comfort.

May He enter your loneliness and whisper words of tender affection.

May He give beauty for your ashes and be the stability of your soul.

May His grace be your lifeline,

His wisdom your next step,

His love the very breath that you breathe.

In Jesus may you find rest and healing for your soul.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” Ps 46:1.

refuge and strength

What burdens do you carry today? I’d be honored to pray for you – please leave a comment below.

How has God been a refuge and very present help for you in the past?

Related Posts:

When You Need Refuge

It Wasn’t Supposed to be This Way

In Search of Treasure

In Search of Treasure

by Meredith Mills


Don’t you love a good treasure hunt?

My tween daughter wanted a detective party for her birthday last year, so my husband planned the treasure hunt to end all birthday party treasure hunts. It was incredible.

mystery-1773200_1280The clues were crazy hard, but the girls embraced the challenge and finally deciphered them all by working together.

One final clue led to the birthday cake, which Hubby also made. (If I’d been in charge of the cake, we’d have picked one up from Costco.) The treasure, a bag of chocolate coins, was hidden inside the cake. (He’d baked a hollow spot into the cake and hidden the coins inside before frosting it.)

The girls had a blast searching for hidden treasure.

I’ve been on my own treasure hunt for the last few years.

During a particularly dark season of life (Confessions of a Good Girl), I realized many of my beliefs about God were flawed. Though I loved Him deeply, my life was driven by duty and ruled by fear. I desperately needed the rest to which Jesus invites us (Matthew 11:28-30).

Using a journal and my Bible (ok, actually I use my Bible app), I began recording everything God reveals about Himself in the passages I read during my daily Bible time. I’ve been doing this for about three years now, making notes about His actions and reactions, His promises and the names by which He describes Himself.

What I’ve learned has thrilled my soul and deepened my love for Him. Jesus is unlike any treasure earth can offer.

Here’s a verse I read recently:

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

A person’s names reveal various attributes of that person.

For example, when I say that my name is Meredith, you learn very little about me. But if I tell you that I’m also called Wife and Mom, Daughter and Sister, writer, reader, singer and traveler, coffee-drinker and chocolate-lover…you know a bit more about me.

So it is with our God.

Many people call their objects of worship god. What sets our God apart? His names help us answer that question.

He is the Most High, the Creator, the Lover of our soul, the Good Shepherd, the Father of the fatherless and Husband to the widow…

His various names minister to us in different ways as we walk through life. By faith, we can cling to God’s specific names and find security.

This looks different from one day to the next and from one season to another. Here are some examples of what it looks like in my life:

  • My husband is self-employed. Traditionally, summer is the slowest time of the year for us. One summer, work was scarce and money was tight. But bills were still due, so I ran to our Provider with a very specific request. The next day, He came through, miraculously meeting our needs.
  • Several years ago, I experienced a miscarriage. As I walked through that painful time, I relied on God to be my Healer. He brought both physical and emotional restoration.
  • Today, as I write, I’m asking my all-wise Creator for wisdom and creativity.
  • In a few days, we’ll begin another year of homeschooling. I’ll seek the Teacher to instruct me on how best to teach my kids.

Whatever you’re facing today, whatever you’ll face tomorrow and next year, God’s name is a strong tower, a hiding place of refuge and protection from the storms that assail. strong tower

Which name of God is your strong tower today? Please comment below – I’d love to hear! Let’s get to know Him better together!

Related Posts:

Shields are Not Just for Superheroes

When I Forget…God is Faithful

When Life Blindsides You




This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

“Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and they will call Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’” (Matt 1:23) NET.


Those three words astound me.

For thousands of years, God had been worshiped from afar. His holiness stood in stark contrast to mankind’s sin. A thick veil separated His earthly presence in the temple from those who approached Him.

Until Emmanuel.

His arrival changed everything.

The Eternal One stepped into time and wrapped Himself with humanity. The Creator became one of us. The King who controls armies, who sets up and tears down nations, that King made His first appearance in an unceremonious stable.

And such would be His life – a homeless Miracle Worker, a traveling Teacher, a King rejected by His own people.

He came not impress us, but to save us. Not to condemn us, but to restore friendship with God.*

He came to do what we could not do – to keep the Law of God, and die as if He hadn’t. To taste death for us, then render it powerless so we could be set free.

He came to tear the veil that separated a holy God from His people, and to make us holy, too.

This is Emmanuel – a God so in love with His people that He would walk among us, know our pains, experience our emotions, and die in our stead.

And He beckons us, even today as we celebrate His birth, to draw near to Him as well.

As we give and receive gifts this Christmas day, may we remember the greatest Gift of all time. And may we offer ourselves back as a gift to Him.

Merry Christmas!


This changes everything

* If you’re curious about how to begin a relationship with this Jesus, please check out In Case You’re Wondering.

Related Posts:

The Sunrise of Christmastime

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What’s Inside

Thanksgiving in the Midst of Failure

Thanksgiving in the Midst of Failure

Well, hello there. Me again. It’s been a while, I know.

old-letters-1082299_1280Life has kind of gotten away from me lately. I’ve not made much time for writing over the past few months, despite many great intentions.

So, guess what’s on my heart today?


Not much of a Thanksgiving theme. But hang with me and I’ll get to the thanksgiving part.

We all wear a variety of different “hats.” Mine are labeled wife, mommy, friend, sister, daughter, church member, writer, homeschool instructor, cook, housekeeper, menu planner…It’s pretty crazy, trying to keep all those hats on at one time. So, I guess it’s normal to feel like a failure from time to time.



But sometimes those feelings get overwhelming, at least they do for me. I can throw a really good pity party. I’m sure the devil loves when I do that. He pitches in his own accusations, along with my feelings of condemnation. It’s a miserable place to be.

I hit one of those places last week.

But thank God, He didn’t leave me there. With overwhelming grace, He reminded me of the following verses:

“He who began a good work in you [and in my loved ones] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

“…My Word… will not return to Me empty without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

“For it is God who is working in you [and in my family], enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).



“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

How beautiful is His Word – just what I needed in those moments. Like a balm to my weary soul. Like a new set of glasses giving me the bigger picture.

Along with those verses, God reminded me that:

  • This Christian life, our ministry within our families, our interactions with those around us…it’s all His work. We are tools in His hand – loving, serving, teaching, praying, pouring out our lives for one another. But the results are up to Him. He is the heart-changer and the miracle-worker.
  • He enables us to live out our callings, yet He doesn’t condemn when we fall short. He understands our weakness, and is ever so patient. In fact, He’s not planning on us being perfect until we get to heaven. Growing, changing, becoming more like Jesus – yes. But perfect – not yet. Oh, how that knowledge comforts my heart!
  • He gives us each other. Sometimes I think we underestimate the importance, the sheer necessity, of the Body of Christ. During recent “down” days, God brought along sisters to encourage me. They listened as I poured out my heart. They spoke truth to my soul. One of them even brought me chocolate (always a bonus). They lifted this weary traveler back to her feet and put my eyes back on Jesus.

How much, how very much, we have to be thankful for! Sometimes we just need to remind our souls of the truth.

What kind of season are in, fellow Jesus lover?

Are things going well, your heart overflowing with the goodness of the Lord? I join you in praising Him for His kindness.

Are you discouraged, maybe even feeling like a failure? May He meet you with the blessings of His Word, His presence and His Body.

We have much for which to give thanks, in each and every season.

During this Thanksgiving week, for what are you most grateful? Please join the conversation – I’d love to praise Him with you!


Always give thanks

Related Posts:

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Two Things for Sure



Umbrella Ministry

Umbrella Ministry

by Meredith Mills @DazzledByTheSon

Don’t you just love rainy days?


rainy days

There’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book and a cup of tea on a dark and rainy day. So cozy and comfortable. Ahh…I love rainy days.

Unless I have to run errands. With three kids in tow. Of those rainy days, I am not a fan.

Yesterday, I had a list of several places to go in a short window of time. I was a bit uptight and stressed. So when it started raining on the way to Walmart, my heart sank. And of course, there are never close parking spaces on rainy days. Seriously, they should have designated parking places for moms with more than one tagalong.

We grabbed our single umbrella and climbed out of the car. Gathering my little people close, we walked toward the store.

“Do you need an umbrella?” I turned toward the voice to see an older woman standing beside the open door of her car. She had a pleasant expression on her face as she offered us a bright yellow umbrella.

“Oh, I think we’re fine,” I replied.

“Are you sure? I have a sort-of ‘umbrella ministry,’” she said with a smile.


rainy days

I returned the smile, not quite sure what to say. I’d never heard of an “umbrella ministry” before. While I hesitated, she walked over and handed us her yellow umbrella, then returned to her car. “God bless you,” she said warmly.

We thanked her, opened the umbrella and again walked toward the entrance.

This unusual encounter made quite an impression on my heart. Such a small act of kindness, yet so very thoughtful.

I bet the “umbrella ministry” is not included on a list of outreaches on any local church bulletins. She probably doesn’t consider herself to be a missionary. I wonder how many people even know of her ministry?

And yet this generous woman is a vital member of the Body of Christ, lovingly meeting needs in creative ways as God leads. She was a beautiful reminder to me of how “outside my box” God is.

He has important work to do through each of His own in advancing His kingdom. We’ve all been given various gifts and callings, as well as different opportunities in differing seasons. Sometimes our “ministry” will look just like what we’ve imagined. Other times it may seem small or insignificant.

But whatever we do in the name of Jesus is beautiful and meaningful and precious to God. As we walk close to Him, humbly following His lead, He lives out His heart through us.

How about you? Do you ever wonder if your life makes a difference, if God could possibly be pleased with how “daily” your life is?

Be faithful, my friend. Walk with Him. Listen to His voice. Do whatever He leads you to do – whether it seems significant or not.


in Jesus’ name

Has anyone ever ministered to you in an unexpected way? I’d love to hear!

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Redefining Success, Pt 1

Redefining Success, Pt 2

When I’m not Enough