Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back at 2011

What a year, what a year. I never would have believed you if you had tried to tell me all that would occur in these 12 months. Let's take a look back, shall we?

January 2011: I began my last semester at Georgia College with two snow days! We filled these days with sledding, cocoa, friends, and homemade music videos.


February 2011: My good friend Matt and I ran as the Ambassador team representatives for Mr. and Ms. Georgia College. Though I had absolutely no chance at winning we had a really good time representing a fantastic part of the university.

March 2011: A busy month! I visited my brother for a rainy weekend in Birmingham, my roommate from Spain came to visit me at Georgia College, I inducted my mentor into ODK, and I visited my homeland, Richmond, Virginia. 


April 2011: In April I turned 22 with some fabulous friends. We celebrated with a huge ice cream/dance party in our little apartment. We also found Feathers in the hood of my roommate Ansley's car. Oh how I fell in love with this contraband kitten in our apartment. 

May 2011: Oh May! The month where my life changed. My future plans fell through and I graduated with a Bachelors in Spanish and Economics....and I wore a lot of cords which made me feel special. 

June/July 2011: In these two months my future changed. In June Kelley got married and my pastor/friend was God's instrument in directing me down my eventual path. In these two months I decided on a whim to go to India and follow that with a two-year move to Pasadena, California to attend Fuller. I think I spent July preparing because I have no pictures from that month. (I think we went on vacation? And I raised over $4000! And I played for my sweet friend Chelsea's wedding as well.) 

August 2011: August, ahhh August. The hardest month of the entire year. I spent this month in India, teaching at churches and being taught by God in the most real and tangible way I have ever experienced. I could write a book about this month, but I won't bore you here....that is if you are still here at this point! 



September 2011: One week after I stood at the Taj Mahal I embarked on an epic road trip with my Dad. To Pasadena we went, with some fun adventures and boring stretches along the way! 


...And the rest is in the blog. From September to December I have finished my first quarter at seminary (with all As!), become a baby expert as a nanny, gotten adjusted to new friends and places, survived some epic Santa Ana winds, and spent a wonderful Christmas at home with my family.


Who knows what this next year will hold. Based on last year, I am not even going to wager a guess. 

The Ones Worth Something


"Stories have changed, my dear boy," the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. "There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case."


-The Night Circus, page 373

Friday, December 30, 2011

"The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones." -The Night Circus

It is a quiet day in Pasadena. The kind I relish in for I know that in a few short days the streets will be bustling with activity as we begin our new quarter. Though I have used half a box of tissues and my ears seem incapable of hearing clearly, the day is still very close to perfect. The weather is the kind of dreams, where the temperature is just right and the air smells fresh and perfect. It is the smell of the air and the light sweater temperature that brings back memories of all the great days like this in my past. It is the kind of day where one can curl up and read of a mysterious night circus and dueling magicians falling in love. The kind of day where hours can pass, hours of contentment wrapped in a big chair and an open window, and yet no time seems to pass at all. For in a few days I will be back to the busy hours of schoolwork, class, and being a nanny, but for now, for these hours, I will relinquish all stress and obligations. For these hours I will be engulfed in the blissfully pristine weather and I will lose myself in a novel. I will dive into a world of magicians and love and I will refuse to come out until I have to.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yep, I was mistaken. Oops.

There are few points in my life where I admit to being wrong, or mistaken. I don't like to admit my faults because, let's face it, I would prefer perfection. But after this Christmas I have to admit that I was mistaken in my post I wrote a few days ago. I wrote that I did not see the correlation between the arrival of Jesus and a bunch of presents under the tree.

But this Christmas proved me wrong.

You see, there was so much joy in opening presents at my house this year. The gifts represented time, thought, and resources that someone expended for me. As I received my gifts I truly felt loved that someone had put that much effort into finding things I would enjoy. And it hit me. I had been wrong about presents. Not because I realized how much I love presents, but because I realized these presents were about love.

And the love I felt from receiving these gifts was just an infinitesimally small fraction of the love I will feel when I finally grasp the magnitude of the gift God gave for me. These gifts represent the biggest and best gift of love we have ever received, the gift of salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ.

So I take back my rant about Christmas present materialism and I admit that I was wrong. Christmas traditions are about love for each other, and remind us of the great love of our Father.


Happy Boxing Day! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Luke 19:28-40

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 
As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 
They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; 
and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 

As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully
with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! 
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”                                                                   
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 
He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”



Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Reason for the Season!

Oh Christmas season! A week back in the dysfunctional family atmosphere that accompanies the great celebration of Christmas.

On the topic of dysfunction, let me let you in on a secret...sometimes I think the world revolves around me. I know. I know! I went to the planetarium in Hollywood so I do know for a fact the universe does not actually revolve around me...but I like to forget that sometimes.

So I guess in turn....Christmas is not about me. (A hard pill to swallow!)

I know most of you who read this blog believe that "Jesus is the reason for the season!" But I would be willing to bet (ok, maybe not bet, I don't think God approves of gambling...) that we have kind of lost this in the traditions of modern Christmas. We all love Christmas because it is a time to be with family, to eat great food, and to take a break from our busy work days. We love to give and receive gifts (although I don't think materialism and the Gospel go hand in hand), and all of these things are wonderful blessings of Christmas that are fitting. For it is because of Jesus that all these things are possible. But if we really took to heart the meaning of Christmas, I mean really thought about it,  wouldn't we be literally be jumping up and down with joy? Would we not be exchanging excited looks and praising our Father at every moment possible? Would not every day of the season be like receiving the best gift we can imagine under the tree? Because we are not simply celebrating the birth of a baby.

We are celebrating the fact that God, God!, came down to earth to save us. We are celebrating the arrival of the One who took death for us, who is our only hope of restoration. If this day had never come, we wouldn't have the grace and forgiveness we all use up every day! I think that should be the gift we are most thankful for!

I think that we get used to the manger scene. We get used to the joy of presents under the tree and family coming into town. And none of these things are bad. It is great to sing of the silent night. But let us not forget what this day is really all about. This is about the beginning of the end. This is about a love greater than we will ever know on this earth. This is the moment that a perfect God made Himself human so that He could save us from the death that we all deserve.

So for me this Christmas season has been a time to see a lot of my own sin. Really I prefer to focus on the sins of everyone else, but God keeps knocking me in the head. When I am supposed to be thankful and giving, I have been the opposite.

I want to make these last days (and the rest of my life) different. I want to jump out of the monotony of Christmas and dive into true joy and thankfulness. Not because everything has worked out for me this year, but because I am blessed infinitely beyond what I deserve. Those presents under the tree do not even compare to the gifts God has bestowed upon me when I earned none of it.

I am going to jump for joy on Christmas morning. You know why? Because I have been redeemed by the one true Savior.  YIPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To all who have ever been my "chickies"

To my dearest chickies,

Whether you are seven, fourteen, or twenty, I implore you to hear me out. Though I may only be a little bit older I have some wisdom to offer. For I have been where you have been. I have felt what you have felt, and I want to tell you what I wish I would have known.

When the world seems to be ending, I promise you it isn't. Though your heart may hurt or your parents may be mad, the world goes on and those big problems become small. I promise that in years you will have forgotten those things you spent so many hours upset or worried about. So leave them where they are and forget about them.

Instead of wasting time, embrace it. Acknowledge the worry or stress but don't let it overtake you. Live each moment. Enjoy the people you are with when you are with them. Don't let anything get you down, for our lives our precious. You are precious. You have been created and formed by the Almighty God and you are beautiful.

Did you hear that? You are beautiful. You may look in the mirror and only see flaws, but the rest of us? We see your beauty. You were made perfect. You were made in the image of God. And though you long for a man to love you just the way you are (and I promise one day he will come), right now you have friends and family who love you and a God who thinks you are incredible.

I want you to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and realize that you are amazing. Each and every one of you. You girls inspire you. You inspire me to be a better person, to love more, and to embrace my Father more. Each of you means the world to me, no matter the distance between us.

So hear me out. Don't waste time being stressed or worried or sad, for we are alive! We are loved! We are young and have so many chances to have fun, to laugh, and to praise our Heavenly Father. Take it from me. I spent years worrying and stressing only to find that it was not worth it.

Because life is too short and too wonderful to be wasted.

My dear chickies. Whether you are seven, fourteen, or twenty I implore you to hear me.

You have been created for a purpose. Embrace your beauty. Praise your Father often. And live. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Night of Stars

I have officially been inducted into Los Angeles life. I have met a star.

This afternoon some friends and I made the trek into LA/Hollywood to do some sight seeing. First stop, The Griffith Observatory. We saw the famous Hollywood sign, the whole city in lights, and of course, we learned about some stars. (The real kind, that is). We had our own personal guide- an astrophysicist and engineer, a.k.a. my overqualified TA for my missions class. It was great to learn about the amazing universe our God created.

And then....

We met the other kind of star.

We headed from there to The Grove which is a swanky outdoor mall in LA. Really we went because they had fake snow bubbles and it was the only chance to see snow at Christmas here, but we got a lot more bang for our buck. I was on the lookout for celebrities because I heard they sometimes shop here, but for the majority of the evening there was no such luck. We ate at the Farmer's Market (I had tortilla española and almost died of happiness. I miss Spain!) and then we danced in the fake snow and went to shop around a bit.

Just as I had stopped my search for stars by friend Mark says casually, "Hey, those are the guys from the Glee Project that just passed us."

I don't know what came over me, but I did the only logical thing to do in this moment. I turned immediately around and started following them, dragging my friend Elizabeth by the arm. I don't know why I did it, but I love the Irish kid that has been on Glee and I just wanted to see his face. Its weird, I know, but I was starstruck,
Mark, on the other hand, was totally cool. As I was blindly stalking these kids into Barnes and Noble Mark calls out, "Hey Damien!" Damien (the star) turns around and Mark (being again, so cool and casual) tells him that he just wanted to shake his hand (Mark also knows another guy that won the Glee Project so he had a point of common interest with them). I too shook Damien McGinty's hand, asked him if he was having fun filming Glee, told him he was doing a great job, and wished him and his friends a Merry Christmas.

It was the best moment ever.

I, my friends, met a real star.

The great thing was, these kids are just starting out so they had no egos at all. They were so kind and willing to chat with us. And I heard the Irish accent with my own two ears. So now, for your viewing pleasure, follow this link and click on the "Who are you?" video. Then continue marveling at the fact that I met Damien McGinty and didn't get in trouble for stalking him through The Grove. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A SoCal Christmas

Ahhh Trader Joe's. A Christmas treat paradise. This afternoon I made the short drive to Christmas joy with my windows down, blaring Christmas music as a sweet 75 degree breeze flew through my car. The sun was shining, I was wearing leggings as pants (more on that later), and I realized, I might love Christmas in Southern California. I don't know if it is ironic, a paradox, a juxtaposition or just plain crazy, but a Christmas that feels like Easter is really awesome. 

In other news, I have found a new love in Los Angeles. 

Some may think of LA and think of smog, overcrowding, or traffic, but not me. Oh no. I think of two sweet words. . .sample sale. Yes my friends I have discovered the gem of LA! Sample sales! A sample sale is a wonderful world where designer clothes are sold for really cheap. My good friend Jess introduced me, and being a good Carpenter (I get my bargain hunting skills from my dad) I find a thrill in getting the best bargain possible.

So today's bargain I have to announce is a beautiful $428 coat that I got for an incredible *drum roll please* $50! That's right folks, that is basically free!...ok, not really, but that is what I tell myself when I  spend fifty dollars worth of grocery money on a coat that is obviously necessary. It isn't like it is 75 degrees in December here or anything.

Ooooh. Ahhhh. I know take it in. It is a beautiful coat. I wear it no matter the weather.  If you could see it closer you would see beautiful buttons. Best. Bargain. Ever. 


And this is where the leggings come in. I know there were gasps when I wrote that I wore leggings as pants. You all thought, really? Meredith? We hate that trend! Oh how many times I ridicule the girls that think leggings are appropriate to wear in public. But alas, I have given in to the sample sale world. Sample sales have a dress code, a dress code of "wear whatever you can try clothes on over." So this morning I joined the legging-pant mafia as we trekked into the sales. But don't worry. Moving to California I have not gone completely crazy and I vow to not wear leggings as pants again...that is, unless I can find $5 jeans. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can I get a Woop!Woop!

And with that my friends it is finished!

Around 45 pages later, after a plethora of in depth research, and a lot of hours, I have finished all THREE of my research papers due for finals week.

 I am officially FINISHED with my first quarter of seminary. Can I get a whoop! whoop!

Now to three weeks of bliss. No schoolwork, no classes. Just me, the Christmas spirit, and free time.

Get ready Georgia because I am coming for YOU! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Be sad no longer!

To my dear faithful blog readers (all 1 million six of you),

I know it has been a hard week. You check every day and you think, "Why hasn't dear Meredith posted about her oh so interesting life?" You missed the thrill, the adventure, the suspense that is my daily doing. I bet it was hard to even go to work. You moped around, sad, maybe a little lost.

Well feel lost no longer! I am back! Since the Santa Ana winds blew in last week things have been crazy (in an awesome way). Check out this video to see the damage done to Pasadena. Those winds were nuts! The winds also blew in my sweet friend Amanda. Being a flight attendant she is the only friend who can afford to visit me....because its free. It was an amazing weekend, the best yet. Of course Amanda fit in so well with my new friends here (because lets face it, I only make awesome friends. So awesome+awesome=super awesome) and we saw the city, bought clothes at a sample sale, and of course ate at In-and-Out burger. We played some poker until the dealer took away our chips for lack of competition and we made delicious meals while watching football (don't know if I should be sad or happy about the Georgia loss). All in all it was fabulous.

It is also finals week around here. While I was galavanting around town with Amanda the rest of my peers were in the library. I got a lot of "how do you have free time???" but I don't know the answer! I just do. Life is too short to just write papers all the time. So now I am writing this post as one more bit of procrastination. On the positive side, I can now tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Mark 8:27-9:1

1 week and 1 day until this city girl comes back to the country. I can't wait! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Santa Ana Winds

*I would like to thank the movie The Holiday for being the only reason I knew what the Santa Ana winds were. I honor you with this post.*

As I lay here in my bed, in my matchbox apartment, the Santa Ana winds rage outside my window. The sound is like thunder and the trees are swaying very precariously. Sirens continue to wail through the streets and the streets themselves are completely littered with debris. These are the most powerful winds I have ever experienced. Part of me wants to go outside and get lost in the winds, to feel the strong breeze whip across my whole self, but of course I know that would be dangerous, so I don't. These winds just seem like they can make you feel alive, like you are a part of something bigger. They are majestic in their ferocious power and to me, they are amazing.

But as I lay here in my bed, in my matchbox apartment, I know that there are hundreds in the Los Angeles area that are homeless and have no shelter from the winds. As I admire the wind's power, they fear the destruction. The sirens are not a distant sound for them, they are a harsh reality. This is a wind storm like I have never seen, but I am safe and many are not. I thank God that I can make the decision to stay inside, but I pray and I pray that He will protect those who are not as fortunate as me tonight.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The strange happenings of my life.

1. Twice in one week I almost went out grocery shopping in my slippers. I was halfway down the hall when I realized my feet were still wrapped in fuzzy goodness. What kind of things will I be wearing out when I am old??

2. I may not have a lot of skills, but making conversation with cashiers is definitely one of them. If I ever meet a good one maybe I can finagle myself a date...or something for free? Coupons would be good too.

3. I had a dream the other night where I was told that God wanted me to work with the Native Americans. I would take this as a sign except that later the same night I had a dream and someone else told me to be a model. Missionary or model? Hmmm, tough choice.

4. One of the great dilemmas of my week was that I did not make it to the Farmer's Market and thus had to buy produce from Trader Joes. I was very distraught because none of their produce was local, in fact most of it came from Mexico. Then I realized that I now live in SoCal so Mexico is practically local. This thought eased my pain.

So what is the cure for all this madness?

One great dose of Georgia lovin', coming my way in 2.5 weeks. Now if I can just get to work and write these papers.. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Flesh and My Heart May Fail

The Psalms speak to my soul. This is the one place in the Bible where we can see the folly of man. We can stand beside the writer and feel his pain, his anguish, and his desires. We feel those feelings! We think those thoughts! The Psalms, they seem to speak from my own soul. 

Last night I came across Psalm 73. Every now and again I read a Psalm that I feel I could have written. This was such a Psalm. 

*A side note is that I recently purchased a NRSV translated Bible and I love it. I recommend it for anyone, especially if you grew up on the NIV like I did. It is a refreshing read of the Scriptures. *

The Psalm begins with these words:

"Truly God is good to the upright, 
to those who are pure in heart. 
But as for me, my feet had almost 
stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped."

How true this is of my heart! Surely God is good to those who are pure it heart, but oh how my feet have almost stumbled! How easy it is to get entangled. How easy it is to become envious and embittered. How I picture my steps that nearly slipped. 

But the end of the Psalm wrapped my heart with the warm touch of my Savior. Let these words swell in your head and your chest as you read them. 

"When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was stupid and ignorant;
I was like a brute beast toward you.
Nevertheless (oh how I love a nevertheless!) I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your councel,
and afterward you will receive me
with honor.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I
desire other than you.
*Here is the kicker!*
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever." 

Oh those words! They cut you to the heart don't they!? My flesh and my heart may fail but GOD is the STRENGTH of my heart and my portion FOREVER. I am telling you, nothing gives me more comfort than these words. Every day I reveal my innumerable flaws and failures. I am pricked in heart, stupid and ignorant, yet my God is continually with me. 

We couldn't ask for anything more. 

"But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
to tell of all your works."

Friday, November 25, 2011

All the Single Ladies...wait, just me?

I really think that the world would be a better place if we all just sang what we were thinking instead of speaking it. Everything sounds better when accompanied with a tune, don't you think? Maybe it is just me, but it is something to think about.

I am also realizing the similarities between my life and the life of fictional character Bridget Jones (minus all the smoking, drinking and promiscuity...so really only the being single part). As I live alone as a single twenty-something I have started picking up all these weird single person habits. It might look a little like THIS to an outsider. (Again, without the smoking and drinking habits. Don't worry, I am in seminary. I'm not that far gone.) To be honest I never expected to be "the single one" of my friends. Granted I am still in my early twenties so I have plenty of time to find a man, but we live in America and in America everyone pairs off early. I started noticing this new label in my life about a year ago, when the group of friends I go to the lake with every year became a bunch of lovey-dovey couples, and then there was me. Now that makes for an awkward trip. In graduate school, life is much the same. Being far away from home I spent the holidays with another great family here in California. I went with my married friends, Mark and Brittany, and walking in the door of their family I realized again that I was the single twenty-something friend. My dear Bridget Jones and I could probably sympathize with each other. Although I still have eight years before dinner parties become quite as bad as THIS ONE.

But until I sing into a wishing well and my prince comes riding along on a horse to declare his immediate love for me (Disney movies really have ruined me) I am going to embrace my twenty-something single freedom. I am going to eat that Ben and Jerrys with pride, dance and sing in my pajamas, and watch Wizards of Waverly Place at midnight. I might even leave my dishes on the floor of my apartment for a day or two.

Now who wouldn't want to join in on that totally lame and immature crazy awesome life?



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Growing Up- Not all it is cracked up to be.

Missing you guys this Thanksgiving. I can't believe that this is my first Thanksgiving without my family. I guess this is all part of growing up. It makes me thankful to be able to come home for Christmas, that is for sure.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Thankful Thanksgiving Post

So tonight I was in my cohort (a small group of students I meet with each week and share in life with) and we were asked to share what we are thankful for. This is a typical Thanksgiving question that I always love, and when it came to me I shared what first came to mind, and I actually got quite emotional. Now I thought this was very weird. Who gets teary-eyed when saying what they are thankful for?? But I realized that what I was saying must mean a lot more to me than I had thought. I did not realize its importance until I shared with my group and my heart exploded in front of them, overcome with how thankful I truly was. So here goes my Thanksgiving post, as I wanted to share it with whoever reads this little bloggity-blog.

This is what I told them I was thankful for:

I am so thankful for my friends and community back home. It was hard to move out to Pasadena and leave my community, especially because a lot of you are still at Georgia College. But you all have been so supportive of my move out here and have made a great effort to still stay in touch with me and share in life with me. I can count on hearing from you guys every week and you still call to share in your joys and sorrows, just like when I lived down the street. I have great Christian brothers at home and even they have mentioned that they are excited for me to come home, and this means a lot to my heart. The way that all of my friends have stayed in touch and kept me in the loop has meant so much because it has made me see that I am not alone out here. I don't have to be lonely because you all are actively involved in my life and you love me no matter how far away I live. You guys have made me feel like I am still a part of your lives and it is that effort that has made this whole transition doable.

I love you guys with all my heart. These words cannot even express the half of how thankful I am to have you in my life. The way you guys have been since I moved here means the world to me and it has made all the difference. I would not trade you for anything and this Thanksgiving I will praise God because He gave me the best friends a girl could ask for. Thank you guys for loving me and for enriching each day of my life.

Proverbs 17:17
friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Grand Life.

It is the little things in life that make it grand. It is buying new tupperware and listening to Christmas music. It is getting excited that at Target they make a handle for your toilet paper. It is eating teeny tiny cartons of ice cream while wrapping up your hair in socks. Its the gifts you buy for people and finding someone who also sings instead of talking while shopping. Its shopping with this friend after a long day at work. It is an apartment and a hot shower and the ability to walk down the hall and borrow an egg. Its a baby that takes long naps and a Skype call with your whole family in the living room. It is being 22 and crouched under a chair in a blanket fort, shooting at an invisible enemy with a light saber.

It is indeed the little things that make life grand.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Never Ending Lesson

I've kept a prayer journal throughout the years. I don't keep up with it every day, or even every month, but sometimes I pull it out and pour my heart out to God. Inevitably it is in the joys and the sorrows that I write to my Father. And inevitably I begin to flip through the early pages of my journal. I turn to this date last year or the year before and read my conversation with God, reliving the moments and emotions of which I wrote. Something always strikes me when I flip through these prayers: I am definitely a C student at this whole being a daughter of God thing. The trusting, the listening, the waiting patiently, I am bad at all of it. It seems that no matter how many times God tells me something I inevitably have forgotten it by the following year.

Think of how frustrating that must be! Over and over and over again God has to teach me the same lessons. And I still don't get it. But what a patient God He is. I never feel like He is mad at me. He never just drops His hands and says, "Forget it Meredith. Seriously, how can you not get this?" No, He is always there to teach me again. He is always there to pick me back up. He is always there reassuring me that one day, one day, He will come for me and it will all make sense.

I am not great at being a child of God. But the joy is, that is what I am.

Praise the Lord for His grace, His mercy, and His love. He is indeed the perfect Father.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. John 3:1

Monday, November 14, 2011

Something to Think About.

Christmas is coming up soon! Yes, yes, I know Thanksgiving comes first but admit it, we have all already begun thinking about Christmas. Today I was talking to my dad about this very holiday and we were discussing the fact that really there is nothing that we need for Christmas this year. Everyone in my family has more than enough clothes and shoes. We have cameras, TVs, and we each have a GPS. Really, we want for nothing.

Even though this is true, living in Pasadena I sometimes get caught up in the consumerism. Literally anything I could want is just a few blocks away. That sweater at Target looks totally necessary, and I love that scarf at GAP. I need a new pair of boots, right? Right? Don't I have five pairs of boots already. Wait, five? Dang it.

So what makes me think I need more?

I am almost embarrassed to write this post. I feel bad because I have a lot of stuff and yet sometimes I want more. But I need to face the facts. There are plenty of people this Christmas that actually are wanting for things that they need. Many people won't spend the holiday with their families, and on Christmas day alone many children around the world will die from starvation and preventable diseases. They won't even be thinking of presents and a warm breakfast.

This Christmas I need to be thankful that I have more than what I need. And this Christmas I need to pray that God will give me the chance to bless someone else with the abundance that He has given me. After all, isn't Christmas really about God's blessing and gift to the world?


As my New Testament professor puts it, It's about Jesus, stupid. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Burden on My Heart

History is a funny thing. Naturally, it is in the past, but I don't think it stays there. What has happened in history, especially in the history of America, still has great and dire consequences. One of these instances is the Native American tribes. Our history in regards to these communities is devastating. The loss of life, the displacement of nations, the atrocities against them. Reading what was done to these Native people is heartbreaking, but usually we stop there. We feel bad but we realize we can't do anything to change it so we move on. But this is not true. Native American communities all over the US are still facing extreme hardship because of the past. Drug and alcohol addiction is rampant, as is physical and sexual abuse. Some of these communities, like the Navajo, are facing extreme poverty. Others have physical possessions but have a depth of spiritual need that we cannot imagine. There is hopelessness on these reservations. Just as ages ago, when these people were moved onto reservations so we could pretend they were not there, we now live happy American lives and have completely forgotten about them. They have needs beyond what you and I can imagine. They are facing adversity that most of us have never even come close to.

The Native American community is quickly becoming a passion of mine. I believe that God loves these people and wants to be known among them. I believe that God does not want us to forget about these communities that live in our own country. I am praying about an opportunity to work with Apache youth in  Arizona this summer. I hope that it will work out, for it breaks my heart to know that there are a forgotten people in the United States.

Today, I ask you to stop and pray for the different Native American tribes and reservations. Pray that God would bring supernatural healing to these people. Pray that He would bring hope to the hopeless. Pray that He would bring love and support to the abused, and that He would be made known in the lives of these amazing people.



9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
                   “Salvation belongs to our God,
                    who sits on the throne,
                    and to the Lamb.”

                                                   Revelation 7:9-10

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Hunger Games

The past few weeks have been spent with this goodie:

If you have not read this trilogy I highly recommend that you stop whatever you are doing and go get this book. The author writes this thrilling story in a way that reminds me of 1984 or Brave New World. The characters have a lot of depth and it is seriously one of the best books I have read in a long time. It may go on my list of favorite books ever. So what are you waiting for?? Go start reading! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time, it is always running!

Mid-week post just to say I don't have time to post. But I have been doing some awesome things in my time when I am distracting myself from studying, ahem, free time, so you can all look forward to some great pictures coming up probably on Friday. May God's grace and mercy abound in your life today as you seek to know Him more and spread His love! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Joy- It's Greater Than Happiness

There are things I cannot express to you in words. It is so much bigger than mere words, this thing that I am feeling. Its called joy. 
Joy. mmm, joy. 
More than happiness, so much more. You know how I know that this is different? Because my life isn't peachy. Not every day is a good day. I have bad days and moments. I am sad and sometimes I am homesick. I'm grumpy! But this thing, this joy, it pervades all of this. Its bigger than just being happy. 
Joy. 
It comes from God. My loving Savior. It comes from my walks with Him through the garden. It comes from my family. It comes from my bigger family! In Virginia, Georgia, California, Spain, India, my family that loves me! It overcomes sadness and hardship and frustration. It is this feeling that even in the midst of the lows, that everything will be fine. This reassurance in my soul that I have no need for worry. My life is bigger than the ups and downs of this world. My life perspective is eternal.
 I have joy. 
Deep down in the depths of my soul I am free and I am in love. With my Savior, with His grace and mercy, with the undeserved blessings. I am in love with the ups AND the downs because my God reigns. My God reigns and my God loves me. Oh I know, I write about this all the time. But it is because I can never get over it. GOD loves me. 
GOD. 
Do you get this? GOD LOVES US. What? Me? No, no way, I mess up way too much. HE LOVES YOU. Me? Noo, I walked away from Him a long time ago. HE LOVES YOU. Me, no way, I have disobeyed Him too many times. HE LOVES YOU. 
And HE brings joy. 

"Now sings my soul my Savior God to thee, how great thou art! How great thou art!"

Joy, it's kind of wonderful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

God, where the heck do You need me?

I thought I had everything figured out. I thought I did, but apparently not. I was going to be used by God to change the world. Eradicate poverty? Done! Spread the Gospel? You got it! My heart ached for those hurting around the world and I felt strongly that I needed God to use me to stop the hurt. But now? Now I have no idea what God wants of me. Don't worry, God and I are still tight. We chat, He speaks, I listen with my nose scrunched up 'cause I don't really get the big picture, yea we are tight, but man! Figuring out my part in His mission is tough! How can I possibly understand God's mission for the world??? I'm just a little human being! And now I am a  little perplexed one.

You see, I had in my head that I was going to go overseas. I was going to help the poor and spread the good news of Jesus Christ and all that good stuff. But then I started studying missions and now I'm starting to think that maybe I am not needed out there. I'm tall, blond, and American, there is no getting rid of that. Would this be a barrier to my witness? I may not be like all the others that look like me, but how do I change that perception? And to be honest, I think the local people on the ground have this thing covered. I don't think they need me. But I want to be needed. I want to feed starving children and help release families from the effects of poverty. But maybe...maybe...that is not where God needs me.

Do not get me wrong here. I am in no way saying that we should not be focused on missions. There are many ways we can get involved to help relieve poverty around the world and I firmly believe that as Christians we are called to do this. I am simply talking about me and God and what He wants to do with me.

So tonight I heard these beautiful stories of the Holy Spirit working to transform the lives of fellow students. I heard beautiful testimonies of God directing them to His calling. And I know, I just know, that God will direct me too. Yes, dagnabit this stinks! It stinks because I don't want to lose my passion for the redemption of the world and I want to be an awesome missionary that brings healing! But that is not my job, that is GOD'S job. I need to start listening. I need to start trusting. I need to start being moved by God and His love for all people and go where He wants to use my gifts.

This is going to be a journey. It always is. But I need this time to reevaluate. I need to pray and I need to keep learning. (And I need to go talk with my professor and tell him that he has confused the heck out of me about my role in this world!) But also, I want to challenge you.

Be still before the Lord and ask, Am I going in the direction that You want me to go? It might be time to reevaluate how you are participating in God's mission on this earth. It might be time to do some learning about the changing world and our role as Christians in that. I promise you, there are needs all around you. Find them. Be God's tools to show His love. Let's be men and women of action.

And let's eat an ice cream sandwich while we figure this out.  Discerning God's sovereign plan is always easier with ice cream, right? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A lack of tricks and treats

Lesson being learned in Pasadena: Apparently I have no filter. I guess it is a work in progress...

On another note:

As we all know Monday was that joyous holiday we call Halloween. Seeing as I live in an apartment, I skipped the candy aisle at the grocery store this year, being told by many that I would have no trick-or-treaters coming to my door. But they were wrong. At about 7pm I was on the phone when I heard the doorbell ring. I quickly told my mom I had to go and went to the door, assuming it was my neighbor-friend. As I peeped through the peephole I jumped at the sight that greeted me. It was in fact, not my neighbor-friend, but two small girls. I contemplated pretending I wasn't home, but that was no good, I was sure they had heard me. So I opened the door. "Hi!" I exclaimed. The two girls just stared at me. No "trick-or-treat." No candy bags. Nothing. The smaller of the two was a princess, but her older sister, who was not dressed up at all, was standing behind her, clutching her small shoulders as if presenting her to a king. Now, as you might know, there are a lot of Korean families at Fuller, families that are simply in the States to study so they don't know American customs yet. Here is how I imagine the scenario:

Older Sister (OS): (Runs in the door after getting home from school) Hey sis! Guess what! I learned at school today that apparently on this day in America if you dress up and knock on people's doors they give you stuff!

Little Sister (LS): Really??

OS: Yea! Go get on your costume and let's see if this works!

So alas, they ended up silently at my door, waiting expectantly. "Well, hmmm." I said. "I don't have any candy, just cookies and crackers. You guys want a cookie?"

They both said yes. "Uhh ok, here you go. Take one!" I regretfully let them each choose a Kashi cookie from the container, sad for them that all I had were healthy cookies, not even the good kind! I closed the door, hoping that no more would come. Later I kept thinking, "Oh! Dang it! I could have given them fruit snacks!" or "Nickels! I should have given them nickels!"

But I learned my lesson. Always have candy on Halloween.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Remade

I just discovered this video/song on a study break. It has such a beautiful message and I wish I could declare this to every person out there who feels inadequate, ashamed, or unworthy. God's love for us is HUGE and 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Let us rejoice in that today. We are made new by the love of our Savior.


Enjoy the video. :)

Tenth Avenue North: You Are More

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkins, Friends, Joy



"Funny thing about joy, 
is that you only really find it 
when you are too busy having fun 
to go looking for it."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Harvest Festival Pics!

A great way to spend a Friday evening:




We scared a few, hugged a few, and had some fun. Good times at Fuller. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The God Who Sees Me

So the Grilled Cheese Truck left before we got out of class (sad, I know). We will stalk it down another time I am sure. Class turned out to be really great. My professor, Dr. Van Engen, has this way of telling Bible stories that is as if I am hearing them with new ears. He tells them so passionately and portrays God in such a real way. I am always entranced when he tells these stories. (The class is Biblical Theology of Missions). Last week it was the story of creation and I found my heart truly breaking when he came to the part where Adam and Eve sinned and hid. He portrayed God as truly longing for that friendship with Adam and Eve and being so so distraught when they disappointed Him. I felt so sad that we disappointed God, who loves us so much, enough to create us, and I felt the emotion of the story.

I saw the story with new eyes and I heard it with new ears.

Tonight we heard the story of Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham, but the story that really struck my heart was that of Elijah. My professor was talking about meeting God in the desert, that this place that is dry and barren and full of suffering is the spring of missions and ministry. God meets us in the dry and desert place.

The story of Elijah is in between 2 mountains. First is Mount Carmel, where God shows up and defeats the prophets of Baal. This is great! But then the queen wants to kill Elijah, so he runs to a cave (a desert). He is so depressed that he wants to die. He just sleeps and sleeps until an angel tells him to eat. And in the midst of his depression, God speaks to him.

"Elijah," He says to him, "what are you doing here?" And there comes a loud wind, but God is not in it. Then an earthquake, but God isn't in it. Then a huge fire, but God is not in it.

And then, there is silence. And Elijah hears a small whisper. And God says, "Elijah?...Why are you here?" And Elijah hears the small whisper, and he whimpers, so upset, "I'm alone God. It's only me."

And God says, "Elijah. You are not alone. There are seven THOUSAND more like you. Go."

Do you feel the emotion in that story? Can you feel the sadness of Elijah as he stands before that wind, earthquake, and fire, wondering what is going to become of him? Can you picture his face in this desert place?

It is in the desert, in the stillness, that we must go to hear God. For me, that place was India. I was so alone there. I cried out because I was in the desert. I was in a hard place and I had nowhere to turn. And I tell you the truth, I have never heard God more clearly than I did in India. He sent me to the desert so I could hear His whisper in the stillness. I was struck so clearly with that in class, that India was my Mount Horeb. I had been on Mount Carmel, where it was loud and I was busy and things were crazy, and God had to take me away to the desert place so that I would hear Him in the silence, in the midst of the desert. And from there sprung mission.

If you haven't read the story in a while, go open up to 1 Kings 18-19, and don't just read the words. Put yourself in the story and read the emotion. Feel what it would feel like to be Elijah. Meet God in the desert.

Where do you go to experience God's presence? Where do you go to meet Jesus?  

Grilled Cheese Baby!

Tonight after my super long class I am heading here:


That is right friends, the famous Grilled Cheese truck is going to be a few blocks from campus and I'm going to get a midnight snack (or 10pm snack, but midnight sounds better). I can't wait to try a mac and cheese with pulled pork sandwich. Now if I can only sit through three and a half hours of class without drooling...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rain rain don't go away!

This past weekend was tough (even though I had a lot of fun and rest). I really missed home...and Blackbird coffee. I was feeling kind of sad, kind of down. And here is what is weird....today I feel SO happy. Like, really happy. I walked outside this morning and the ground was wet and it smelled like RAIN. Rain! I had to wear a jacket because it was actually chilly, and I had to keep myself from skipping all the way to class. I read a book for FUN, I laughed with my new FRIENDS and I had coffee TWICE. Ok, with that last comment you might think the reason for this enthusiasm is the coffee in my veins, but that is not it! God is just SO faithful. When I get sad it is like He says,

"Hey Meredith! Look! Look at all these fun people around you! Look at the rain I brought for you! Hey Meredith, remember when I told you I loved you? And that I would always take care of you? Guess what...I meant it! I really do love you!"

Isn't it nice to realize that every little good thing is a gift showing that God loves us? I mean it. Today I took special notice of every nice word someone said or every time I smiled or laughed, and let me tell you, I had the best day! I have decided that no nice thing should go unsaid, and I am seeing that it really makes the world a happier place when people say nice things. Today someone told me I was stylish...yea buddy! I feel quite pleased. See, it is the little things! The realization that if I feel lonely, someone else probably does too. So let's have a party! Let's forget our homework and eat froyo and dance. Let's go smell the rain and wear a scarf. Let's choose to see the joys instead of the sorrows. Let's make the world a better place. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rest

It is 7:41am and I am at work. Yuck. Not yuck to the job, I love my sweet baby, but yuck to being up before the sun rises. I think that should be against the law.

I have a confession to make. This past weekend I did not do any schoolwork. I had a lot of schoolwork to do, but I didn't do it. You know what I did do this weekend? Rested. I think that we forget the importance of rest, or the Sabbath. Our lives get busy with work, friends, responsibilities, and we think obviously there is no time to rest! Here is the truth: you do have time to rest. Now don't start whining that I don't know your life and how busy you are, I do. Things will get done, tasks will be accomplished but if even God rested, then so must we.  I am convinced that rest is essential to mental health. So this weekend I ate frozen yogurt and danced with my friends down the sidewalks of Pasadena. I went on an adventure to Whole Foods and ate a whole lot of samples and then went to a coffee shop concert. I went to church, took a nap, laid on my friend's couch as we poured out our hearts, made brownies, shared brownies, then spent some more time with beloved friends. And I can tell you that this was a much better weekend then worrying about papers and reading.

So yes, I am going to be really busy during the baby's naps today, but I think it is worth it. We all need a little time to rest in our lives. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crossing Barriers

It has been a good week here in Pasadena. Last night I got to experience a little bit of what heaven will be like. I attended an event at Fuller called Kimbap. Kimbap is a traditional Korean dish, much like sushi. Kimbap the event is an effort to build relationships between the many Korean women and American women here at Fuller. (Fuller has multiple degrees available in Korean.) As the multiple cultures came together we were at first separated by language and nerves. We congregated with who we were comfortable. But then we sang some simple, yet powerful, worship songs together. We sang them through in English and then us Americans struggled along in our newly learned (and primative) Korean to sing in the native language of our new friends. We finished singing the verses each in our native languages. A chorus of English and Korean rose up together to reach the heavens. We were worshipping as one family, crossing barriers of culture and language, singing the same words to our God. It was so beautiful to get this taste of heaven, to be together with sisters and mothers in Christ, meeting in a place of understanding through love and worship for our Savior. I felt peace and joy because God crosses every barrier and every difference and brings us together in Him. It is a beautiful thing.

God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He's so good to me!

Jo eí shín Ha na nim, Jo eí shín Ha na nim, Cham Jo eí shín Na e Ha na ním!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall!

I hear the Fall is coming to the Southeast, so this post is in honor of Autumn and all the things I love about it.

#1 The colorful leaves.
#2 The emergence of adorable jackets and sweaters (which I can't afford)
And most of all, #3 BOOTS. 
But alas, I live in Southern California, so my Fall looks like this:
This isn't so bad. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Georgia,

My Dearest Georgia,

Five years ago I would have never believed that I would say what I am about to say, but, I miss you. You have really nice nature as well as nice weather. I like your Fall colors, and even the amount of camouflage people wear. I like the Southern drawl and the deer, and I like the people that shoot the deer. People might think it is strange to shoot squirrels in your backyard, but we know it is for the greater peace. You also have Christ's Church. I like their wonderful community, and the preacher isn't half bad. I'm looking forward to spending Christmas with you. Maybe it will snow? Ok, probably not, but just being home will be nice. Do you hear that Georgia? I called you home. Now that is something to celebrate.

Your friend,
Meredith 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Livin' it up on a Saturday

Saturday nights are the best, especially when you get to relive your childhood. For example, last night and tonight I got to babysit for two awesome kids, age 5 and 7. Talk about fun. We had a dance party, colored pictures, built a cave, a read some books. Does that not sound ideal?? Best of all, they LOVED my terrible accents. I got to read each page of a ballerina book in a different accent and they thought I was super funny. It was a dream come true. I'm telling you, a Saturday night cannot get better then this.

Snapshot

A snapshot from my journey to California. One of the few amazing views of the drive. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This one goes out to all the mamas!

Today I felt like a real California nanny. I was rocking it. I was trolling the suburbs with a dog, a baby on my front in one of those baby front carrier things, and in the other hand, a bag of poop. Man! I am living the life! But this post is not about me, oh no, it is not. . .ok, well it still kind of is. . . but really this post is about all you moms out there. That's right, all you moms, and all you dads too for that matter, I want to thank you. You have officially gained my respect and awe. It is hard to raise a tiny little thing that can't hold its head up into a person who can change the world! I realized in the 10 hours I was responsible for this sweet baby that the years you put into a child are loooooong. And they are hard on your back, and your knees, and your ability to swoosh and bounce and make funny noises. So I just want to say thank you. From my generation to yours. Thanks for holding us even when your arms hurt and for loving us even when we were fussy. Thanks for the bottles and the songs and the patience. And thanks for not giving up on us as we went through all the stages when we were never thankful for the work you put into us.

So mamas and papas, this one is for you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Beauty of Our Savior's Mission

I recently read a few chapters in The Bible and Mission written by Helen Barrett Montgomery. She is an incredible woman that you should look up if you haven't heard of her. I wanted to share with you some of her beautiful imagery regarding God's Word and the church's mission:


"The Bible is great literature. Big books make their way. They fly over seas, they tunnel the mountains, they bridge the centuries. By the common consent of man the Bible is supreme as literature. In its poetry of grandeur and of tenderness, in its sublimity and terror, in its tragedy and doom, in its lofty teachings and profound philosophy, in its story of the matchless life and words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth, the Bible has a unique claim to be the Book of books, the Book of man." (pg 12)



"The gospel will not fail. The gospel will not fail. The Lord Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. The kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. But the Church may fail, may be set aside for another instrument. Today is the day of salvation for our Protestant churches. If we harden our hearts and close our eyes and refuse the plain call of God, other generations may see in us another Israel whose narrowness of vision was condemned by the very Scripture in which is our boast." (pg. 23)




(Speaking of the Psalms) "They take the wings of the wind and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth; wherever a human heart is found they create their own agencies of transmission. The pure water of life from out the hills of God must find its way to the ocean of man’s need."



"[The early church] told because their hearts were glowing in the consciousness of a great salvation and they could not but speak of what they had themselves seen and heard and felt."



"Only a compromising church finds smooth sailing. When opposition fails to materialize in the life of the present day it is because the Church is not aggressive in asserting Christ’s lordship over life, as was this Early Church. A compromising church finds smooth sailing. A missionary church can always count on her full share of head winds and tempests."


 "A reliance upon spiritual means. Prayer pervaded the life of this Early Church like fragrance. They really expected prayer to be answered, and they dared to pray for hard and difficult things. They walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, who honored their faith by working mightily through and with them. Foreign missions contemplate tasks impossible of realization if we are depending upon human resources alone."




Does this give you a little more love for the Word of God? Does it remind you of its beauty and its purpose, as well as your own? Does it speak to your heart? I hope that this has sparked a passion to open up that beautiful book and truly look deeply at its meaning and purpose. 

Disclaimer: All of these quotes are from Helen Barrett Montgomery's first two chapters in The Bible and Mission, edited by Shawn Barrett Redford. The emphasis on certain words are my own.