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. 




Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Displaced People

I have good news:

I think I found a church home!! This has been a real struggle for me since I have been here. I have been involved in amazing community and teaching at both my church at school and at home over the past four years. Lacking that for the past month has made me realize how much it really meant to me to be greeted with such love every time I walked through those church doors. I always knew that I had plenty of sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who wanted to hug me and sincerely know how I was doing. It was quite the blessing and it makes the thought of homecoming so much sweeter.

So while I did not get hugged and greeted like a long lost friend (what can I expect, we don't automatically know all of our family in Christ), I found at Lake Avenue a representation of God's community that might just let me stay awhile. It is a short walk from my apartment, it is intergenerational (which I love), and the teaching is biblical. I hope that I may come to call this church my family.

On another note, lately I have been thinking about the world of the Old and New Testament (Let's remember, I am in seminary so I apologize, but I am probably going to have a lot of posts related to spiritual things. Although don't judge if I write a post on the joys of homemade brownies or the like.) It seems to me that a lot of the Bible is written about people that were displaced. From the beginning Adam and Eve were displaced from the Garden, Abraham was told to leave his home, the Israelites were displaced as slaves in Egypt and in the desert, and there was also the exile of the Jews in Babylon. I do not think that this is an accident in the writing of the Scriptures. For one, simply being on this earth we are a displaced people, longing for our true home with God. And secondly, relying on God becomes key when we are forced out of our comfort zone.

I can most definitely praise the Lord that I am not walking through a desert (although it might be cool to see manna rain down from heaven) but I also resonate with this feeling of displacement. I have built a great life here in Pasadena over the past month. I have everything I could ask for and life is good, I would never dispute that. But in my heart of hearts, I still feel that this is not my home. I know, I know, I have been whining about this for weeks. I miss this and that and everything in between. I need to get over it and quit whining. But I miss home. And even more than that, I miss my real home. I miss a world without sin, where people do not go hungry and they don't die of diseases that can be prevented. I miss a world where my selfish desires do not reign above my desire to serve God with every single piece of my heart. I miss a world where my entire family can be in one place, and where the entire world is my family because everyone has realized that my God is real and He loves them. I miss a world where sadness, heartbreak, and hardship did not exist.

We are a displaced people, foreigners in an unknown land. But we were sent here for a mission. May we not forget that we are in this temporary home for a reason. It will not suffice to lead a happy life caring for ourselves and sharing our faith only with those who share it. We must answer the call. We must not sit around idly hoping that someone else will do this for us. Let us rise together so that we can answer the Lord with a cry that we did do everything we could to increase His kingdom on this earth. I'm done complaining about feeling displaced, because, let's face it, aren't we all?


*Bring me back to this post when I start complaining again, because inevitably my sinful nature always forgets these moments of clarity.*

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Knowing Smile of My God

God is really good, you know? We live in this crazy world with all these crazy variables, yet God stays constant. I picture myself running around in life, picking up different ideas or dreams, going down one path then turning around and changing my mind, all the time with different salesmen yelling things out to me as I try to make decisions. But the whole time there is God above it all. I picture Him with a quiet smile on His face. He is not exasperated, although His smile may sometimes be sad. He isn't yelling at me or picking me up by the neck of my shirt and moving me to another place on the game board. He sits there with that knowing smile. And when I remember to look up and ask for help, He gives me that knowing nod, that quiet encouragement or that look of "you know better than that. I have taught you better than that." And I realize He is right. He never leaves me as I run through life, even when I get distracted, and every time I look to Him I get that soft smile of a loving loving Father, a smile that says, "I know you. I love you. I will take care of you. You may take the wrong path sometimes, but the big picture is mine. You will end up in the right place, just don't forget to look for me, don't forget to look to me."

Maybe that seems too idealistic and simple. Being in seminary I realize that Christianity has a lot more to it then I realized. I am learning the complexities of understanding the Bible and theology and our relation as Christians to the world. It is all very intricate and deep and intellectual. And all of these things are good. But even if it is naive or un-intellectual, I will forever picture my Father with that smile that I have pictured my entire life. For as much as I learn and delve into the Bible and the Christian faith, there is one simple fact I will always know:

My God is guiding my path and my God adores me.

I hope today you might take a moment to reflect, to close your eyes and look back on your day. Remember those moments when you felt loved, appreciated or happy. In those moments remember that it is the God who formed the universe that loves and cares for you. You are precious in His sight and He will never let you go. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Your Love Never Fails

Tomorrow I start my second week of classes (and my new job!). I can't seem to find the adjective to describe how my time in Pasadena has been so far. On one hand, it has been really great. Here is why:

-God has blessed me with amazing community and friendship in less than a month. There have been dinners at my place, movie nights, excursions into the city and study dates (not real dates mind you, I wish). As an extrovert these things have been amazing gifts from the Lord. It is nice to walk campus and see people you know by name, and to be able to walk across the hall to see if anyone wants to join for a Target run.

-I love my classes. My favorite is my New Testament class. I had no idea how the NT canon was formed and I am loving learning about the Book I profess as the Word of God. In a different class (this one is three and a half hours long and ends at 10pm!!) we start off with 15 minutes of prayer....and singing! haha, it was really funny to see our older professor, who is the top guy for missions theology, rocking out to a hardcore version of "How Great Thou Art."

-And of course there is my adorable apartment, which we have already discussed, and the plethora of calls and texts that I get from my sweet friends back home. I cannot express the joy that fills my heart when I hear the voice of a dear friend.

But at the same time I cannot tell you that this move has been the most wonderful thing in the world. My heart aches to be near to my family. I watch the Amazing Race and get teary-eyed (yes, I am lame) because I have been blessed with amazing companionship at home and I miss that. I love Pasadena for this season of my life, but I miss the sweet fresh air of the Southeast and the bright colors and swift breeze of Autumn. I am also still looking for a church home (can't seem to find one with a character that matches Mr. Bass...) and I long to have that community as well.

But as I read through the Bible I see that in God's mission He takes care of His people 100%. Yes, He corrects us, disciplines us, and challenges us, but His love for us is overwhelming, it is incomprehensible. Because of His great love for me I know that He is involved in each piece of my life, no matter how small. I know that He saved me by His grace and through the entire redemptive history of the Bible He has never stopped caring about His people. So it does not matter if there are downfalls, for my God loves me and He will never stop taking care of me. Isn't that wonderful?