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 
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. 
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. 
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.