Friday, September 30, 2011

The Church and Scripture

"No interpretive tool, no advanced training, can substitute for active participation in a community concerned with the reading and performing of Scripture."

"[There is an] assumption that the Bible is a resource book for life in this world- a kind of "owner's manual," indexed for troubleshooting when life goes wrong. . . biblical accounts are formed into a collage of the teacher's making, with Bible verses plugged in where they seem best to fit. In such contexts, the considerable resources of the Bible are being shaped in the form of Scripture. In such contexts, the church is shaping the Bible and not the Bible shaping the church." 


-Seized By Truth: Reading the Bible as Scripture

Monday, September 26, 2011

The First Day of School

Ah the first day of school. I never thought I would have one of these again, yet here I find myself, as excited as I was to start the 3rd grade. I have my outfit planned out, my books in a neat pile, and my homework done (apparently in grad school you get homework before you even start). And I never thought I would feel this way, but I do.

I'm excited. 


I really am. After vowing to the world that I would never set foot in graduate school (let alone seminary) I sit before you now excited. It hit me yesterday when I was thinking about my upcoming classes. Tomorrow I start with New Testament Introduction (which sadly I keep spelling testament wrong...might need to work on that..) and all of a sudden I realized, I get to take a class on the New Testament. I get to study the books of the Bible with a professor. Matthew, Mark, Hebrews, all of them! How cool is that? In preparation I was reading supplemental books on reading the Bible as Scripture. It spoke of having to balance the Bible as a book of literature and a book of history, but most importantly as the scripture of God. One of the authors wrote that we must work to understand it fully, from all angles, for anything less would be disrespectful. I loved that, that this work of God through the written word of man is not to just be read, but respected.

I was enthralled by my readings. Many people here have said that seminary can be a dry desert for our faith, a graveyard for the common Christian. But for me, I think it will be different. Diving into my New Testament class alone I believe that my faith will be deepened by the knowledge and understanding of a Book I have read my entire life. It will be like seeing it for the first time, uncovering the layers and layers of knowledge, passion, heartache, and love that went into the writing of each section of the New Testament. I am sure I will get discouraged and lose sight of why I am here in the first place, but God is faithful and God is present, and I cannot imagine losing sight of the bigger picture while here in seminary.

I am sure you can all look forward to insightful updates as I share with you all what I am learning in my classes. Together we can delve into this faith we profess and see the greatness of God through greater knowledge and understanding. What a nice journey to be on.

Last year's "last first day of school." If only I knew then what I know now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Georgia on my mind.

Here are today's random thoughts:

1. I cannot believe how many people I meet from Georgia here in Pasadena. I babysat tonight for a family who have parents and siblings living in PTC and Fayetteville, then I get in the elevator of my building and I meet a couple who are from Atlanta and not only have heard of Milledgeville but their cousins own the Japanese restaurant downtown! On the other side of the country I meet someone who has been to Milledgeville! (Generally I just get the confused look of why does your school have so many names?)
God, You are so cool.

2. Speaking of elevators, this seems like the best place to meet people. This is where I met friends that helped in my transition, got me a babysitting job, AND had me over for dinner. I have also met people from Atlanta and other new friends in the elevator. Heck, next week I might just get a chair and sit in there for a while.

3. Speaking of babysitting...I got payed 70 bucks for babysitting 5 hours tonight. 70 bucks! Living in Southern California apparently has its perks.

4. Speaking of perks, there are a lot of perks to fairy tale Disney movies. Tonight watching Snow White with the kids I learned that 1. Friends can be made anywhere if a meeting is accompanied by a hot meal. 2. Washing your hands and face is super important. 3. Men are naturally messy. 4. We are all equally important, whether we sneeze a lot, are angry, dopey, happy, or sleepy. 5. Never let strangers into your house. 6. And finally, true love's kiss solves all your problems (as does friendship).

5. Speaking of friendship, I like it here. Its different for sure, and sometimes I still wonder what God had in mind in bringing me here, but I like it more and more every day. It is nice to walk campus and know people. I still miss Georgia (/College) but I am becoming more in love with this season of my life all the time.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Snapshot of My Life

 I have been meaning to take pictures of Pasadena to post for everyone to see but I have yet to find the time to do that. So I thought I would give you a snapshot of what I saw as I went walking downtown today.

My apartment:
                             Tall, square and mauve
             The box-like buildings lie against a backdrop of perfectly blue sky.
Like a speckled robin's egg the blue is punctuated with storybook clouds, fluffy and round.
                     Behind the buildings and sky are the mountains.
                          They look close enough to touch.
          Desert mountains looming into the sky, so defined and caring,
                                                                     the guards on watch over the city.
The mountains are always what strike me with awe.
I have never seen such mountains sitting contentedly on the edge of a city.

The city:
My goodness, am I in Spain?
City hall rises above the skyline like a cathedral of Europe.
The most splendid architecture with the mountains behind. 
And tucked beside it is the church.
It may have been picked up by God
out of the British countryside
and plopped down into Pasadena.
The grey stone, the green courtyard, and the beautiful tree
It draws you in with a welcoming whisper. 


Pictures to come soon :)



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Only Hope

I realized something tonight for the first time. I realized that for the first time in my life, I have no life plan. You may ask me my five year plan, but in all truth, I have no five day plan. Its not irresponsibility that brings me to this point. Its not even a lack of looking forward. Its just a simple fact. The fact is that all I have is You. I literally have nothing else to follow or walk towards. I have no plan and no expectations, for I have been brought into the unknown. Yes, I have my desires, my wants, my hopes, but all of this is worthless without You in my life. I desire marriage, I desire a fulfilling career, I desire family, but You alone know and understand the desires of my heart. You formed me from dust and raised me into the woman I am today and You alone will carry me forward. For the first time in my life I am giving over control because I have no choice. I am following You into the unknown because You are all I have. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Give Myself Away

I give myself away, I give myself away, So You can use me

Here I am, Here I stand
Lord my life is in Your hands
Lord I'm longing to see 
Your desires revealed in me

Take my heart, take my life
As a living sacrifice
All my dreams, All my plans,
Lord I place them in Your hands

My life is not my own
To You I belong
I give myself, I give myself to You

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Inescapable Truth

It is my one week anniversary with the town of Pasadena. *Initiate celebration* Woohoo I made it! Only two more years to go!

In being forced to meet people and make friends here (because let's face it, when I am alone too long I start to have long conversations with myself in Spanish and make up new dance moves) I have found myself able to see how others perceive me. Perception is always interesting to me. They say "perception is reality," and this really seems to be true when one is thrown together with a lot of people who have no idea who you were before you got here. I listen to myself as I talk and I start to judge myself by what I say. For example, here is the image I think I am giving here so far:

1. I am kind of a wuss. I have stated that I don't like hiking, bugs, dirt, sweat, camping, salt water, or eating fish that look like fish.
2. I really believe anything I am told and I use some reallllly creative adjectives.
3. I like to talk, a lot.
4. I am pretty straight laced.
5. I am kind of lame. I really can't seem to pull off the "I'm super confident and kind of a big deal" thing.

Sometimes I have stepped back this week and thought, man, really Meredith? Why didn't you reinvent that little fact. Why not be the hiking fanatic who uses normal words and surfs, or something? I have thought about how others perceive me and I start to question my own self. I could be anybody here, and the thought of being a hipster was kind of tempting,  but in all actuality there is only one thing I can be, and that is me. I can't change the fact that I fall over while standing still, or that I use the word "stellar" in every day conversation. I like to talk, I watch sports but don't always know what is going on, and yea, I believe whatever I am told. But that is how God made me. And it may be different and maybe some people will have to get used to me, but oh well. You win some, you lose some. Maybe people think I am crazy, but so far no one has run away or looked at me like I was nuts (at least not for long). Here at Fuller we all are in the same boat. We all are passionate about ministry. We love the Lord and we love each other. We are all the Body of Christ and we are all different, and we should embrace that.

So. My name is Meredith. I like economics, studying, and chocolate. I fall over when standing still and sometimes I say, "shut up!" when I hear something interesting. I may be a wimp in a forest but I am a beast at International airports. I am a folk music expert and I like to sky dive in my free time. And I think before I speak. And this is me. So what's your story? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Things that confuse me.

1. The stairwells. I live in a very well-secured apartment complex with two stairwells. Each time I try to use the stairs I end up getting locked out because the door to every floor is locked. I don't understand! Is it a ploy to get us all a little fatter by using the elevator? Or maybe everyone riding the elevator builds community? Why do I have a college education but I can't figure out how to use the stairs??

2. The trash chute. This does not confuse me but freaks me out. Next to my apartment is a little dungeon room with a small door. We throw our trash down and it goes into the dumpster in the basement parking garage. I don't know what I fear: falling in? dropping in something valuable? a trash monster? I don't know, but I am telling you, that trash chute is scary!

3. How much I love my apartment. Guys, seriously, it is so cute. I feel like such a grown-up. BUT I wish all of you Georgia College folks were here with me. I can only think that I wish you guys could share in this experience with me.



4. And finally, why I have just watched three hours of Project Runway...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pasadena!

I love Pasadena. And internet. I just got internet which is why I have not updated you all on the past few days. So in the light of new experiences I have compiled a list of things that are great.

1. The fact that we made it to Pasadena. The last stretch of the trip was brutal. If you know someone on the brink of insanity and you want to drive them over the edge (haha, drive, what a pun!), then drive them through New Mexico and into California. The route to Pasadena once you enter CA is about four hours of desert and beautiful mountains, but that is it. Two towns and literally nothing in between. The purple mountains majesty start to look more like angry mountains get-out-of-my-state after a while. So yay, we made it!

2. The location of my apartment. It is is perfecto. I am two blocks from campus, a few blocks from all the best shops (Gap, J. Crew, Anthropologie, food), about a ten minute walk from Old Town Pasadena, and there is a Trader Joes within a four minute drive...need I say more? Ok, I will. The architecture here is beautiful. It looks just like Spain. And did I mention I can walk everywhere? I'm in heaven.

3. Friends. I had decided not to make any but that did not work. In the elevator I met Jess and Hawley who are Community Coordinators in my building and have helped me in so many ways. On my hall there are five other girls my age (in addition to a lot of Korean families but they are a little more..less extroverted) and unfortunately I really like all of them. People here are your instant friends. Anyone I meet says "Welcome to Fuller!" It is really nice to have such community and a true blessing from the Lord that these girls are on my hall.

4. EspaƱol. It is everywhere. The billboards, the radio, the guys that come install and deliver things. I feel very at home here.

5. God the Provider. Can you say confirmation? EVERYTHING here has worked out so well I know it is not just happenstance. I felt like Abraham on the journey, following the Lord into the unknown, and I will admit I was a little nervous. But God promised to take care of me and He continues to amaze me in the incredible ways He provides. I owe everything to Him and more.

So that was only five things but I could list more and more of how wonderful it is here. If anyone wants to come visit Southern California, it is the place to be! Although I have a really tiny apartment so you might have to come one at a time...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Almost...There...

Spent the morning at the Grand Canyon then drove more endless land to California. We stopped for the night and will be in Pasadena by morning. Sorry not to write a more interesting and witty post but I am so tired of this road trip! haha, I will post stories and things tomorrow night after I get into my apartment and get things mildly settled. I am getting a little nervous so if you remember pray for my heart that I will trust the Lord even in the midst of an unknown place! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kickapoo to Navajo

The sun setting in Oklahoma 
Oklahoma City
Last night we stopped near Oklahoma City. When we woke up we realized that we had been in Kickapoo Nation, which obviously was awesome because it was called Kickapoo. We began the long trek across Oklahoma towards New Mexico. Here is the thing about this road trip. Each state we go through I think, man, there is literally nothing by these roads!, yet every time we get to the next state I realize that the state before actually had a lot compared to the next one! Basically Oklahoma-Texas-New Mexico was one of the longest roads of my life. In Oklahoma we got a lesson on Native American tribe names as we passed through each "nation." We also passed Lake Meredith in one state (who knew I had my own lake!?). There were these big wind energy farms in Oklahoma as well which were so cool. Then we hit Texas.
Welcome to Texas!
Endless nothingness, or in other words, New Mexico. 
Oh Texas. There is really nothing to report from Texas. It all started to run together after awhile. I can't really remember a time before we went through the endless road of New Mexico. New Mexico may in fact be the most endlessly desolate and empty state in America. We literally drove for hundreds of miles looking at this. Yes, the clouds are pretty, but do you know how boring miles and miles of nothing can be? The only awesome thing I saw in New Mexico was this AMAZING rainbow. This picture doesn't even capture it. I could see it completely from end to end with every color so vibrant. It was a gift from God on our journey!


I had just added New Mexico to my list of states I don't want to live in (Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas...wait...that is every state we have been through so far...) when we landed in the town of Gallup. Wait, you haven't heard of Gallup? Really? It sits on historic Route 66 and as luck would have it there was a festival going on downtown. Turned out the festival was not very big (we missed the biggest Navajo taco and the Western shoot out) but what we found was a city made up almost entirely of Navajo people.
Check out the adorable Navajo panda girl next to me. This is the courthouse in Gallup!
At this point I took New Mexico off my hate list. It was so cool to be surrounded by people that were 100% Native American. We are actually right next to the biggest Navajo reservation. We learned a lot that I want to share with you, but sleep is taking over and I can barely concentrate. You can all look forward to more Navajo news later this week, but I will tell you this: the Navajo are an incredible people that seem to have been forgotten along with the small town of Gallup. I really cannot wait to learn more about them and their culture here in New Mexico. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Did We Just Time Travel To 1943?

So we kind of accidentally made it to the outskirts of Oklahoma City today. How far did we drive? Oh you know, only around 850 miles. We started our trip out with a stop in Birmingham to see this kid:

My brother! (and a really packed car)

Then came Memphis, which I would show you a picture but we kind of had a miscommunication or snafu of some sort and missed stopping in Memphis altogether. I was disappointed (and hungry) but that was all made up for later. The longest part of our day was Arkansas. 
Oh how witty! I found a little rock in Little Rock!

(In my head I keep saying pronouncing it Ar-Kansas. I must be tired.) This is a really beautiful state if you like fields and grass (which I do.) After many hours of plains we decided we would stop in the seemingly big town of Fort Smith on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border and rest there for the night. By the direction of the internet we set out to find a diner that was supposedly famous. Dad and I made a couple of turns in Fort Smith and realized the truth about this town. It is, in fact, not a vacationer's dream. It may actually be the armpit of the United States. Seriously. We were driving through a realllllllly bad part of town, but we decided to check out this place to eat anyways. And lo and behold, we found the diner. This is what we saw when we pulled up: 
Umm, is that a shed? 

We both laughed so hard when we saw this place. My dad looked at me with great apprehension. "Are we going to eat here?"he asked, to which I joyfully replied, "Yea! Of course! This is awesome!" And let me tell you, it was awesome. Here is a little photo experience for you:
Notice the excitement. 

Cutest old man behind me.

After the picture above one lady asked in a thick country accent, ya'll aren't from these parts? We said no and she proceeded to explain that in that case I needed to take a picture with the razorback pig as well. Everybody does it, she said, which I don't know if that was true, but I didn't care! I was in Fort Smith, Arkansas in a 1943 hole in the wall diner! 
We missed Elvis in Memphis, who knew we would find him in Arkansas!
We LOVED this place. We had so much fun. There were so many characters that walked inside. Our sweet pretty waitress had lived here all her life and as a kid would come to this place every night for dinner. Every night! She always had a grilled cheese. This was definitely the highlight of our trip. The dumpiest place was the most awesome experience! We laughed and laughed.

Sadly, after that we tried to get out of Fort Smith to stay somewhere not scary and we found out not only is there nothing not scary between there and Oklahoma City, there is nothing between the Fort Smith and Okla. City. We had to drive a couple more hours of dark fields and wheat before we found civilization again. So now I am going to sleep soundly for tomorrow we start again. Until then my friends! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Might Bleed Blue and Green..

"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." Amelia Earhart

So last week I was here: 

Pretty amazing right? 
And this week I was here: 

Ahhh Blackbird Coffee in Milledgeville. How I love thee. 

I have been so blessed to have a week at home before I leave again for my next adventure. Yesterday I went back to my Alma Mater for a 24 hour whirlwind marathon of friendship. From the hours I spent in Blackbird Coffee, to dinner with close friends, to the Intramural Fields and Bell Hall, it was wonderful to be back at Georgia College. I think I might have GC blood running through my veins. It was really bittersweet to be back, because it made me realize how much I really love everyone there. At the end of the day I was exhausted (because let's face it, I haven't really talked to many people in a month!) but it was in a way like when you have eaten a really great meal and feel perfectly tired, full and content. I was kind of remorseful that I did not have unlimited time to spend with each person but it was so nice to get a little time with everyone. 
I realized what is special about many friendships at GC is that we all do life together. We share in the joys, the sorrows, the important things and the less than important things. We are bound together by the great love of our Savior and we all have a love for each other that might not make sense to the outside world. We are bound together by something deeper and more significant than anything on the earth, and that makes our friendships so special. 

So this is a tribute to all my Georgia College friends and acquaintances out there. No matter how far away I move, I will always love and care about each of you. I hope to be invested in your lives for many years to come, and really for eternity. Each of you are a blessing, an encouragement, and a sweet joy in my life, whether we were friends for four years or four days. 

I'll miss you Georgia College!

For all of you that have friends near or far, today remember them in prayer. Give them a phone call and share in life with them, no matter the distance or time that has passed.  

As for TOMORROW. THE ROAD TRIP BEGINS. You all can expect thrilling daily updates from each leg of our journey. I am sure there will be plenty of wit, insight, and some great pictures. Until then! 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Picture Speaks at Least 200 Words Apiece

For those of you that were at church today I wanted to post some pictures related to the stories I told to you all. For those who were not there I thought you might enjoy some pictures from my trip!

This is the group of children I taught in Aleppy at Prince John's church. They were my second program and a great encouragement!

This is my family in India (minus Cindy's husband Martin because he had to take the picture, and Cindy's son Jaden because he was at school.) I could not have done anything without them and I am so grateful!

I need to fix up this picture a bit, but you can get the idea. This is Timothy and Graceful. Notice the height difference between me and Grace! We look so strange next to each other! So glad to have been blessed with these friends.

This is a beautiful mountain I visited. Amazing, right? I will post more pictures as I pick out the best ones. This will have to satisfy your appetites for now! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

From the Taj Mahal to Home Sweet Home

Some Sights of Delhi: Monkeys crossing the road, a camel walking down the road, a woman carrying a large pot on her head, the Taj Mahal, McDonalds, and a sign greeting me at the airport that spelled my first name as two words with a "k" in there somewhere...?

My oh my, what a few days it has been. Shall I start at the beginning? This past Wednesday I got up at 3am to drive to the airport in Kochin and catch my flight to Delhi. As we arrived we found out that my 6:30am flight had been delayed to 10:30. Later the flight was delayed until 11:10, then 11:40, then 12:00, and finally we left at 12:50 in the afternoon. Needless to say that was a long morning! I started off spending the first few hours watching people pay a guy to saran wrap their suitcases. Its a strange thing people in foreign countries do so people won't pilfer with their suitcases. Very strange. Then God answered a prayer!
At approximately 10:15 I met a sweet girl named Teresa from Bath. I was so bored and I was sitting at this hotel they had trucked us to for breakfast. She looked at me and said, "Are you ok?" (Say that with an English accent for the full effect). I laughed and said yes. She thought I looked lonely. So for the next three hours I joined her and her family. Oh, I forgot to mention that Teresa was 13, and her brother Alvin was 11! Haha, but they were so great. It was a real answer to people praying that I would be provided with the people and the help I needed on my journey. Because of her and her family I got through security and to my plane without problem. Without them I would have been so confused and bewildered. And then get this. When I get on the plane, my seat assignment was right next to them. Literally in the seat next to their family. Coincidence? I think not. God was answering prayers because they had planned to be on a plane a few days before but the flight had been canceled.

Then came Delhi which was a whirlwind. Two days, alone with a travel agent, traveling, eating at a beef-less McDonalds, seeing the Taj Mahal, sweating profusely at the Taj Mahal, and having my picture taken by strangers (but that was totally normal. There are probably one hundred cellphones in India with my picture on it. I don't know if it was my height or what. I never got used to that.) The Taj was beautiful. It really was incredible to be there, a place I only ever thought I would see in school books. It took four hours to get there and four hours back so it was a long day. When I finally got to the airport that night I had about 5 hours before take off, then a 15 hour flight, then 8 hours of layover in New York, then another 2 hour flight home. It was quite the journey. But I had the best seat on the long flight home with all the leg room in the world and a non-creepy seat mate. All of this thanks to the grace of my sweet Savior. I made it home safely, in one piece, and in the same clothes I had worn at the Taj Mahal. haha, it was quite a surreal experience to be home. I have never loved Georgia, country music, or clean restrooms and safe running water so much in my whole life. God worked in my heart in so many unexpected ways in India, and I am so glad, but the homecoming was one of the sweetest parts of the journey.

I cannot tell you all how much your prayers made a difference in this trip. Every day I could feel the presence of the Lord with me. Each thought I had was heard by the Lord and answered, even the smallest things. Even though I had many tiring journeys I never once got sick. Every need was provided for, and I know that this was because you all were faithfully praying for me each day. The power of prayer is huge and I am overwhelmed by the faithfulness of all of you, as well as the power I felt from your prayers. I can never express my gratitude enough.

Yes, this adventure is over, but the big adventure has just begun. If you stay tuned you will be able to read the adventure of traveling across the country with my dad, which should certainly bring about some funny moments, and then after that there will be lots of great things from my time in seminary in California. So stay tuned! And I am sure more great stories and thoughts are to come!