Friday, December 28, 2012

What Duck Dynasty Taught Me About Men.

I've fallen in love.....with Duck Dynasty. Why have I not watched this before?? Ok, well, that would be because I live on the West Coast and don't have cable, but thankfully my good friend Jess and her lovely parents took me in and introduced me to this gem. I was in love within the first five minutes. First of all, their beards are ridiculously awesome. I'm not a fan of facial hair but I must say that anyone would be impressed with those beauties. Second of all, though they are totally crazy, there is something seriously attractive about a country man. The camo, the gun shooting, the mud and four wheelers...hot. There is a confidence in those men as they take charge, shoot beavers, and come together to pray over a family meal. Call me crazy, but I will just go ahead and say it, something about those guys is genuinely attractive, past the kind-of-gross-but-impressive beards.

Therefore, being such a sophisticated and intelligent show, it led me and my delightful friend to contemplate men (a worthy and interesting contemplation). There are a lot of good things I could say about men, but what she and I lamented were the lack of strong men in our generation. I know the days of Beaver Cleaver are gone, and I am all for women being strong and independent (just look at my life), but I think that some men have forgotten what it means to be a real man. In my generation there aren't many boundaries. Trust me I would know, seeing as I basically asked out my first boyfriend. I think that in the midst of Facebook, texting, and skyping in your pajamas, my generation has forgotten what it means to step up to the plate, not just in dating, but in professional situations too. We have forgotten how to be respectful, how to have manners, and I think a lot of guys have forgotten how to pursue a woman with honor and integrity. We are slowly losing the ability to be professional, to carry ourselves with poise and grace, and to be strong leaders. And it is resulting in strong women and no men to match them.

People ask why I haven't dated much in my life, and the answer is that I am looking for a man who can lead me both spiritually and in everyday life. I am looking for a man willing to pursue me, a man who has plans for his life and who is willing to take the steps to get there. To be honest, I have met very few of those kinds of men. Of course I won't bitterly generalize that my whole generation is full of men that need to step up. I have known and still know some fabulous and amazing men who are great examples of what a godly man should be. But being the brutally honest person that I am, I feel it necessary to call it as I see it. My generation needs more men, willing to provide for a family, willing to step up and ask a girl out on a date, or pay for her lunch even if it isn't a date. The world needs more gentlemen who know how to respect a woman while not putting her down as weaker or incapable. Some may say I am a contradiction, wanting to be seen as strong and capable yet expecting men to open up the door, but I see it is as the perfect middle. I believe that men can respect and honor a woman by acts of service while also respecting her intelligence, her ability, and her character.

And all of this comes from watching 3 episodes of a show about a family who created a duck call. The things you learn in the South.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Mmm the sweet joys of being at home. Annoying my brother on purpose, pretending someone else will clean up my dirty dishes, having someone else cook the food... joy, sweet joy. It makes me want to stay forever...although I know in a week I might be singing a different tune. Isn't that the bittersweet joy of short times with people we love. We leave right before they start to annoy us and so we enjoy (most of) the minutes that we have with them. And I love how Christmas brings everyone home! All my little chickies from over the years at church, and all of my amazing college friends from around Atlanta. It is a great time for relationships, which makes sense because Jesus was all about relationships.

So I would say this Christmas season is a grand success. Sure, there are things I wish were different, or people I wish were here, but as always the joy and goodness of my life outweighs the little inconveniences. I can never say that I haven't been blessed, that is for sure.




Monday, December 17, 2012

Another post about Christmas, tis the season!

I've been thinking about Christmas a lot lately, which makes sense because we only have a week before Christmas. It sounds cliche, but this is definitely my favorite time of year. I love the traditions and being with family, all of it is so cozy. But this year, I've been thinking about Christmas a little differently. This year Christmas isn't just a happy bubble of cozy for me. I can't stop thinking about the Newtown tragedy and all the other tragedies that happen everyday, all over the world. And I have been thinking constantly about my close friend Kyle who is spending this Christmas in Afghanistan, in the midst of war and death, far from those he loves. I think about the homeless and the woman I met at church who lives in the shelter. I think about the kids in the world who will go to bed hungry, or who will die from preventable illnesses. I don't mean to be a downer, but I don't think that I can just pretend all of this isn't happening as I celebrate one of the most important days of the year. But don't stop reading now, this post has a happy ending...

I know why we celebrate Christmas but sometimes I think we all need to be reminded. We need to be given a chance to see beyond the lights and trees, and steamy cocoa cups. So here it is.

I have come to realize this week that all the crap in this world, all the negative things, are actually the reason why we celebrate Christmas. As I go to bed praying for Newtown, praying for Kyle, and all those suffering this Christmas, I realize that Christmas is the answer to all of these prayers. (Ok, the answer is Jesus but that has to do with Christmas). It is the birth of Jesus Christ that answers all of the crap. Jesus Christ, God himself, came to this earth to redeem a fallen and broken world. And when he was born, hope was renewed. New life was born, not just in the life of a baby, but in the life of the world. Because of Jesus we have hope that this is not the end, that this is not all there is. We have hope that one day Christ will return and He will make all things right.

Partly I am asking you (and reminding myself!) not to forget about others this Christmas. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day let's pray for our soldiers and Marines that are overseas. Let's pray for the families who have lost dear children, and for the many people in the US and abroad that will not have families or resources to celebrate with. But also, let's be reminded that in the midst of war, death, and tragedy we should celebrate Christmas even more fervently then before. We should have more joy than ever before because next week we celebrate the one thing that changes everything. Next week we celebrate the only thing that will get us through.

I guess Christmas has a whole lot of meaning for me this year, outside of the cliches. And tonight, as I fly home on a red eye flight, I will praise God for all of the people who have helped me to make sense of this world and who have led me toward the truth of the holidays. I have much to be grateful for, and I know that this year in particular I will not take any of it for granted. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding Hope in Midst of a Tragedy


Tonight I am so very sad. I sit here feeling as if my heart has been ripped out. I am angry, frustrated, and above all completely full of sorrow. I didn’t even hear about all of this until a few hours ago. I don’t have internet in my apartment and I was at work today, so when I went to a Christmas party for some people at church I hadn’t heard about the tragedy. And I don’t know the families involved in today’s shooting, but now that I know what happened my heart just feels so heavy. To kill anyone is atrocious. To kill children is a terrible terrible sin. I just keep thinking of the moms who sent their little ones to school and who are now going to bed in the midst of the worst tragedy they could imagine. It makes me just want to scream. I want to scream, “God why didn’t you stop this!?” “God, why won’t you just return and end this, end this sin and this terrible world!?” 

And as I cry for the families I do not know, I see a picture of God in my mind, the kind He gives me in moments when I don’t understand. He looks right at me and I see His face, a face full of tears. I can see God weeping for these children, holding them close to His chest and crying for what happened today. I know, in the depths of my heavy heart, that He too is angry and heartbroken for the destruction, because He never intended for this to happen. He never wanted people to feel the pain they feel tonight. He knows the pain of losing a child, because on the cross, for that moment, He lost His. He knows the atrocity and power of evil and He hates it more than any of us. There is evil in this world and because God has graciously given us free will, because He loves us enough to let us choose, evil sometimes wins. Evil sometimes get its way. And as angry as I am, I know that God is angrier. I know that one day He will return and bring justice and vengeance. He will heal the broken hearts and He will restore the broken lives. I know, in the midst of this terror and tragedy, that it did not happen for a reason. It happened in contradiction to God’s will. It happened because the evil one prowls like a lion, waiting to devour us. And the work of Satan, when he goes so far as to lead someone to kill children, makes me sick. I can do nothing but praise God that this crap is not all there is. I can do nothing but pray that He will help these families to not lose hope. I can do nothing but cry for this broken world, and find rest in the hope that one day God will restore it all, that one day His will will be done.

You know, I almost like being unaware. In the silence, in the lack of information, I can believe that the world is good and that the season is happy. To tell you the truth, when the people at the party explained to me what happened, I almost wished I could return to ignorance. Because the reality is that the world is not good, and for more than twenty families out there it will be a very long time before this season will be happy again. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Feeling of Christmas (and how I pretend my life to be)


Tonight as I left work and walked into the dark a cold drop of water fell on my nose. The air itself was chilly (for California at least) and though I was only wearing a light jacket (and no socks), I let myself believe that it was snow. It made sense for it to be snow, even though I knew that was impossible, because I was looking at Christmas lights and I was scrunched up against a chilly wind. Believing that there were tiny flakes falling all around made me feel like the holidays were real and the feeling of Christmas was in the air. 

Christmas break for me means that school is over (for now), I’m officially moved into my third apartment in less than two years, and most of my to-do list is crossed off. I will admit that the new apartment is adorable and feels like my own tiny home, but it also makes me want to be like a tv commercial. Feeling independent I want to go home to Georgia with my arms full of perfectly wrapped and thoughtful presents, wearing an adorably sophisticated scarf and winter hat combo. In this dream world I would look perfectly presentable and grown-up and have that “I’m home from my wonderfully-put-together-adult life from afar” glow of Christmas homecomings. Perhaps there would be a group hug and my brother suggesting we go caroling in there somewhere too. 

Though this is nowhere near what will really happen, I think the feeling will still be similar to that of the dream world. I will be going home in sweatpants with a small suitcase in tow, but I will be going home for Christmas. Though the presents will be small there will be the joy of being together, shopping for the perfect gifts, and doing all of our Christmas traditions. In my heart it will have the sophisticated look of that tv commercial, even if it isn’t reality, because this is my favorite time of year. Going home for Christmas will be like the snow rain I felt leaving work tonight. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t perfect snow, the rain was just as delightful because when I closed my eyes I could count my blessings. With my eyes closed it was just as beautiful as any picturesque Christmas postcard because it was the atmosphere that mattered, not the details. It was the feeling of Christmas that made me excited, and if the feeling of Christmas means I get to be with those I love most in just a few short days then I am one happy traveler, even without the adorable hat-scarf combo. 

Simply being home with family and friends is all I really need. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear finals week, I truly dislike you.

Well, my finals are finished. Its been a crazy week of unwashed clothes, strange meals, and people on campus looking seriously haggard, but all I have left is one quick revision and a trip to slip my (hopefully well-written) paper under my professor's office door. It has definitely been the most stressful, crazy finals week of my life and I don't say that lightly. Never have I worked so hard and so long on anything, in fact I don't even want to count the hours I spent on this paper! It has to be in the hundreds! Honestly the reason I worked so hard was because I want my professor to be proud of me and proud of my work. My professor is one of the most gracious and kind grandpa-sort of men and his class was such a joy.  (This was the class where I was the only girl, asserting my awesomeness and knowledge in a class of boys, half of whom are getting their doctorates in church history.) In truth, I am really going to miss this seminar. Ok, I am not going to miss the insane workload or the works of Jurgen Moltmann, but I will miss getting to dive into seriously intellectual conversations for three hours each week. It was such fun...well, mostly.

So, you ask, whats next for me? Well, on Monday I plan on spending the entire day in my pajamas, watching movies, and eating macaroni and cheese. Then its a week of work, babysitting, Christmas performances with the orchestra at church, and perhaps some cookie baking. Then, surprise! I am coming home again. Hopefully on this trip I will get to count all my blessings and spend time with many beautiful and amazing people that I get to call friends. 

And for right now? Well, I am going to sleep, feeling much more calm and confident. 

Good-bye finals week, I won't miss you. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Finals, soaked in stress and self-pity.

I'm stuck in the middle of a stressed-out, overly tired, pity party this week. The amount of quality research and pages I have to churn out in the next few days combined with moving apartments next friday, the life changes of all my friends, and a general desire to just pity myself in sweatpants instead of acting like a grown-up have all combined to make me a mess of a human being.

So prayers are appreciated, that I will survive the next five days without a breakdown and that I will remember to eat meals while spending endless hours in the life-sucking quiet of the library.

And maybe, at the other end of this ridiculous week, I will present you with some positive insightful reflections. But not now. Now there is no time for that. Duty calls and I must put on my academic thinking cap and search for the light at the end of this disastrous finals week tunnel. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Eccentricity>Disfunction

I have recently received a few notes from certain undisclosed family members mentioning their consternation at being called "dysfunctional" in my Thanksgiving post. It is their opinion that we function quite well as a family, and therefore they request to be called "eccentric" instead.  I will more than gladly call my family eccentric, and just to smooth things over I will also add the following adjectives:

jovial
unpredictable
chummy
one-of-a-kind
-and-
kooky

(The thesaurus is such a helpful tool.)

Hopefully this thoughtful use of descriptive words will calm the hearts of my most beloved uncle and grandfather and remind them that Thanksgiving with eccentricity is always exciting and that they obviously would like to keep me in the wills. Please and thank you.

And on a note of dysfunction, I am dysfunctional at being productive with this incredibly difficult 30 page paper I need to perfect in exactly 7 days. By the grace of God I will finish it and be on my way back home for more dysfunction eccentricity in just 2 weeks.

I. Will. Make. It.

Woo!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Life

Last night one of my girls from the reservation had a healthy, beautiful, baby girl! It has been such a journey to get to this moment. My journey with her began when God made it possible for her to attend the Warrior Leadership Summit conference with me last summer.  I watched as He convicted her and moved deep in her heart. The whole trip was worth it just for seeing God work in her. Then, as many of you know, her boyfriend (employed at AYM and the baby's father) unexpectedly killed himself about a month ago. It was a great tragedy that is all too common on the reservation. Through this devastating death my sweet student kept her head held high, trusting in God through her sadness and looking forward in hope to the birth of their baby.

And then last night she arrived. My student texted me when she went into the hospital and when baby Scarlett was born which made me feel so loved. I am so proud of her and the way she has handled all of life's blows. She is a role model to me and she gives me hope.

So today, as we rejoice in the birth of new life, let us remember God's sovereignty. No, His will is not always done on earth, but yes, He can make all things work together for the good of those who love Him. He can take something that is not in His design and make it one of the greatest blessings, leaving on earth a piece of someone so abruptly taken away.

Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow, and welcome to the world baby Scarlett. :) 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Life of a Nomad


"Not all who wander are lost," they say. They tell you, "travel the world!" But no one seems to write an inspirational magnet about the wandering getting tiresome. They don't tell you about the process of packing your bags and the anxious waiting for the next place to make itself known. When young and irresponsible the nomadic life seems full of adventure and dashing young men, but in truth it brings a rich life and a poor bank account. 

Yet I'm a walking dichotomy. I don't want to sit still or settle down. I want to travel and have new adventures. At the same time I want a home and a family and a bank account with at least one more zero at the end. 

So what is there to do, other than pack my bags one more time, and pray that all this wandering will eventually lead me to where I am supposed to be. What is there to do other than enjoy each piece of the journey, no matter how small or short, and throw my hands up in resignation about my future. 

The experiences of my nomadic life have come together to make me who I am today, so I must not whine about the downfalls to nomadic life. I must thank God that I have life at all. 
And one day, when I am settled in my own adorable house, with a handsome man and adorable children (dreams sometimes come true!) I will remember these nomadic days fondly, forgetting the tiredness and simply remembering how full life truly was. 

Wandering the Smoky Mountains with family on one of those blessed trips home. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in the South Ya'll!


It has been two years since I have been home for a Thanksgiving. As we drove to Tennessee I couldn't remember the last time the four of us had been on a road trip together. It is the one problem with adventures, they seem to interfere with being close to the ones you love on a regular basis. As we arrived in Gatlinburg, Tennessee the week began and I quickly remembered my Southern roots. First stop was the knife store followed by a walk down the "redneck-vegas strip," ripe with tacky, trashy glory. Candy shops, beef jerky stores, plenty of ways to waste money, Thanksgiving was here. 

Thanksgivings with my mom's side of the family are always full of the wonderful kind of disfunctionality that only families can provide. This year was no different. There were late night runs to the Moonshine Holler with my cousin to taste moonshine out of communion cups and another late night trip for foot-long corn dogs, because it isn't Thanksgiving without a foot-long corn dog. I hiked a mountain with my brother and dad, climbing up roots off the beaten path with my manicured nails and camo pants to get the best view, feeling quite proud and sore after six miles. And my favorite part was the Magic Show where the story of Jesus' birth was shared and then used as the reason for why Pinocchio could become a real boy. Only in the South are all those things combined. I ate so much food, so much sugar, and I laughed so hard my abs hurt, which is not an occurrence that happens often but one in which the pain is accepted and loved because it means happiness and joy...or too much sugar.

In the end, as I flew home on the overly crowded airplane, I reflected on the whirlwind week I had. Indeed, my family is crazy, but that disfunction and crazy is what makes Thanksgivings so fun. It is the one time where I can be with my cousin and her husband, where we can talk and laugh and reflect on our family's faults and funny moments. It is the one time I can be in a car with my parents and brother, singing loudly enough to thoroughly annoy my father and getting just obnoxious enough with my brother to make us laugh like we are little kids again. It is the one time that I can be with my grandparents and my great aunt, gaining from their wisdom and experience, feeling full because I am part of a family that has done things, been places, and served the Lord with great fervor. As obnoxious as we all can be, these are the moments I am thankful for. And I wouldn't trade my crazy family for any other. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mini-Update

Well kids, it has been riveting so far in Georgia. It is as if my bones go floppy when I go into my parent's house and I just lay on the couch like a total bum. It is fantastic. My mom and I did all the fun things, like shopping, nails and hair appointments, chatting (I told her no one wants to listen to me chatter so much about nothing in real life so it was nice to just talktalktalk), and more quality time activities. And tonight my bro is home! Which is super cool, although he looks so grown up it weirds me out. I just want him to be my little brother again.

But tomorrow we head to the great state of Tennessee where the mountains will most likely be gorgeous and the food will be abundant. Family time awaits, and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

Cheers!

P.S. It has been a JOY to spend time with the lovely Jess and to get a call about my sweet Brittany's engagement while home. Time goes on and lives change, but there are some friends that last through it all. I am blessed to have so many! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Love Affair with Airplanes

East Coast, I have arrived! The plane flight was quite pleasant and I did quite a lot of good thinking. In fact, I do my best thinking and writing on airplanes. I don't know why. It might be the clear-headedness that comes from being forcibly disconnected, flying through the air just me and my thoughts. Four hours of time kill, being neither here nor there.

My mind tends to turn to the limbo that is my life. I become suspended between the many places called home and my mind flies to memories, connections, wonders, and in the moment, a deep breath of reflection.

Or maybe it is being surrounded by so many people in such close quarters, yet knowing none of them, that makes me reflect and imagine. Everyone has their own agenda, their own lives, but for these few hours we are together, our walks of life converging. As I reflect on the lives of these strangers I begin to reflect on my own meaning and purpose. What story do they make up for me? What is the story I imagine for myself?

Whatever it is, I do my best thinking on airplanes. Where I have been and where I am going come together and just as I have to give up control to the pilot, I find myself giving up control of my life's destinations to the only other One who can see past the clouds. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

My 201st Post. Woohoo!

Guys.

My last post was my 200th post. 200! Wow! Can you believe what a journey we have been on in 200 posts? I mean, recently I have been thinking that my posts lacked a certain fervor, or really, have been quite lacking in the interesting or worthwhile department, but maybe, with the knowledge of 200 posts propelling me forward, I will begin to enrich your lives again with my wit and insight. We shall see.

As for my two-hundred-and-first post all I have for you is that I am stressed. In fact I had written this really great post about how not being stressed is the key to life when I realized that would be pretty holier-than-thou to publish when I'm losing sleep over the amount of things on my to-do list. Maybe I should read my own blog posts and advice. Actually sometimes I do read my own blog posts and I find myself really funny.

But for all my Georgia readers...I'm coming home on Friday! And then I am going up to Tennessee where Fall will be in full color and cold weather, my family will be together, and I just can't wait! It has been two years since I have seen my extended family and our Thanksgiving get together always proves to be memorable. I'm sensing foot-long corndogs and mini golf in my future...as long as I get to wear my trendy fall clothing I'll go anywhere! (This 80 degree endless summer isn't my cup of tea).

So there you have it. A 201st post full of not much wit and a little insight into my life.

East Coast, I'll see you soon! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two Degrees of Separation from THE Clint Eastwood!


Last night  I got to babysit for a family I haven't been to before. The little girl at this house told me they weren't babies so I technically couldn't sit on them like my job description stated so that was a nice perk. I'm not very fond of sitting on babies. 

I don't know how it happens but I always get to babysit for the coolest families around here. It almost makes me not want to move (almost). This family, who I was referred to by my other family (score! I passed the awesome babysitter test!) produces and directs with Clint Eastwood. Movies like Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, Gran Torino, and most recently, Trouble with the Curve. How awesome is that? They were so down to earth and really lovely people (and their house was amazing!). 

But back to the point. 

Every time I babysit for one of these amazing families it makes me recognize a slight stirring in my heart. And then I realize that all I really want is to take all this love that is stored up in my heart and pour it out in the shape of bedtime stories and goodnight kisses. I want to make hot chocolate with marshmallows, and casseroles for dinner, and I want to get up early to cook pancakes and waffles. I want to snuggle up on the couch with a book and a house full of kids doing homework.To feel love, to give love, in a home full of giggles and laughter and back-to-school nights- that sounds like the life. 

But, until that day comes, I'll settle for loving on the kids that aren't mine (technically). I'll settle for discussions of toys coming alive and giggling glances as I read stories. I'll settle for hearing,  "I really want you to come back," "I want you to stay with me" and the incessant screams of excitement as I knock on the door. I will think of the hugs I get around my knees and my neck and I think we can all admit, that doesn't really sound like settling at all.  

Plus, a lot of times those families feed me free pizza. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Crazy World of Sleep

I recently had a dream. Not like a "I have a dream" kind of dream but the normal "I'm sleeping but my brain is still running" kind of dream. I have to say my dreams are basically like living with my eyes closed and sometimes I am amazed at my brain. If I am really into reading a book or certain schoolwork I will dream in books or schoolwork, like for a while I was basically writing these really good books in my sleep but I always forgot them when I woke up. Such a shame. Anyways, I digress. Here was my dream:

The dream began with someone parking my car so that I could go to some royalty event where I stood in for Lady Such-and-Such and wore a gorgeous ball gown and waved to the crowds, much to the chagrin of the Royal brother (that was all from tv I have watched recently). But when I woke up the next morning one of the ladies rushed in to tell me that we had forgotten about my car and that I probably had a ticket because we had left it there too long. In a panic we frantically started looking for my car but I had no idea where it was parked. We called the other Lady and then eventually I looked out a window and saw it. I ran as fast as I could, to my relief realized that I didn't have a ticket because the 2-hour parking didn't start until 11, and I got in my car.

*Here is where you should start using your interpretation skills*

I then proceeded to back out of the spot when I realized that the peddles weren't working. I had my foot pressed hard on the brake and I tried to restart the car, and again, but nothing happened. Then the car started to roll backwards. I hit the brakes hard but it didn't make a difference, and I realized that I was going to hit a pole or fall into a little creek. Not wanting my car in a creek I turned the wheel another direction, toward the road. I was hoping to steer onto the road and start going down it without getting hit but instead my car flew over a hill, over the road, and straight into a raging ocean. I remember thinking, "Well Meredith, I hope you know how to get out." But as my car hit the water, I closed my eyes, and calmly realized that I wasn't going to do anything at all.

Then I woke up.

I tried to miss the creek and ended up in the ocean....what does this mean???? I have decided that I must have control issues, hence the lack of control in the car (as a kid I always dreamed my siblings were driving and I would freak out).  Maybe the message is that when I try to gain some semblance of control I find out I had even less than I thought. That or I have recently tried to avoid a "creek" and am heading towards the "ocean." Goodness gracious I sure don't hope it is that last one. Or if we take it literally maybe I should check my brakes before I leave the parking garage...

Any thoughts? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jumping into the Deep End of Life

All of life had been the climb. With each step up she had the knowledge that once she got to the top she would have to jump a long way down, but it had seemed so far off it didn't really seem to matter. As she climbed she had a lot of time to think, to plan, to stop along the way but then, before she knew it, she was there. The long board stretched out before her but as she walked the final years before the jump the board seemed to get shorter and shorter. And then she was really there, in her cap and gown, with nowhere else to go. Partly she wanted to turn back, but she knew it wasn't possible to relive the 22 years of the climb. So she jumped. She jumped into the world that had been awaiting her all of her life, and as the first year passed she prayed that she wouldn't fall too hard. 

Over a year after the jump she still hadn't quite figured out how to swim in the deep waters of the real world. Yet with each wave she had begun to realize that she was continually kept above water. She hadn't noticed it before but in her climb she had been collecting things that would keep her afloat. Love and friendship, experience and confidence. Dependence, independence and the room to make mistakes. And as she began to look around she saw that a few of those who had jumped with her were beginning to link up, to stick together, to add buoyancy to the other by words, phone calls, and visits. 

Every now and then she would look back at the climb wistfully, the walk down the board and the frightening jump into the deep end. Then she would inevitably turn back to the swim feeling nothing but thankful, for she had never had to take the steps alone. In fact, she realized, she had never kept afloat on her own.

It was always the others keeping her up. 





Sunday, October 28, 2012

A rambling that seems to have a shopping theme.

Is it that time again? The time of the week where I procrastinate and write to you instead of doing the myriad of tasks I should be doing? Ah yes, I think it is that time. Well, let's see. I could report on my state of life, shall I do that? Ok, well then, I just realized I have my shirt on backwards (thankfully I haven't left the apartment since I changed into it), I discovered I have a deep love for grocery shopping (not just because I like to eat), and I woke up at 6am yesterday to go shopping (women turned into vultures and everything was four dollars!).

Let me start from the beginning.

Don't be worried, I have a history of wearing my clothes backwards on accident. In elementary school it was the red gingham dress made out of the extra material from my curtains. In college it was the sequined dress that had a confusing neckline. So really I am not going to worry too much that my lack of sleep is impacting my sanity seeing as I seem to just be continuing a rather unfortunate trend.
And speaking of clothes yesterday I went to one of L.A.'s finest treasures, a sample sale (See here for last year's sample sale review). Clad in our try-it-on-in-public outfits of leggings and tanks we trekked into Los Angeles for a warehouse sale where everything was four dollars. The experience was ridiculous. The doors open and women pour in and just start grabbing things and throwing them into the huge bags we are given. There is no grace, love, or excuse me's, just sheer force and frenzy. The theory is, once you have a full bag you circle up with your gal pals, try everything on, switch around what doesn't fit, and then let some other group go through your reject piles. It is intense. I ended up with a shirt and a cute dress. I got a little overwhelmed.
And speaking of shopping, grocery shopping is my new favorite hobby. I realized this week that when I need to detox the best cure is a walk around the grocery store (Preferably Trader Joe's or Whole Foods). Or when I need food, I go then too. The bonus is that I seem to make a lot of friends in grocery stores. I don't know how but I always end up having conversations with strangers. My face must say "I'll listen to you, tell me your life." This week it was old ladies (coffee tastes better when someone else makes it), Whole Foods workers with ear tattoos (showing me their favorite frozen food), or my favorite, the short Polynesian man who wanted to discuss the effects of gluten and the trail of my necklace->Kenya->pastor father->I must be a church-going girl. Hilarious. At any rate I love grocery shopping.

And that's all you get for tonight. Eventually I should be able to tell you in detail how the Liberation Theology of Gustavo Gutierrez relates or doesn't relate to small Christian communities in Africa (30 page paper anyone?), but I think for now you will just have to settle down and contemplate how to get me to stop wearing my clothes backwards. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Logic of Cupcakes and Friendship

There seem to be special moments in life when something you have always known suddenly becomes real. It is like a lightbulb suddenly brightens even though the switch was always on. For example, the day in high school when I realized that a cupcake was a cake...in a cup. Magnificent logic!
Tonight was a similar moment. All of a sudden I thought to myself, Wow. I know some really amazing people. Obviously that seems slightly mundane and normal but hear me out. Tonight I realized that I have had one friend for 18 years. 18 years! That is so long it is ridiculous! Though we have lived far apart for a long time now I can still count him as one of my dearest friends and I am so blessed that we are still involved in each other's lives, even if sparingly.
Or get this. I have a family in India who let me name their baby. One day I will get to hopefully hug this amazing little boy but for now, how blessed am I to have made friends in India who loved me enough to let me name their first son?
Or one more. I know these godly men who taught me what I deserve in a husband, who taught me that I can be respected and that gentlemen do exist. And even though they gave me the ugliest nickname ever I get to smile every time I pass "Myrtle Street" in Pasadena and remember that I am loved.
And don't even get me started on my amazing support system from Christ's Church in Georgia, or the fabulous girl friends I have who love me enough to write me real letters, or the incredible people surrounding me here at Fuller. Don't even tempt me to talk about my team that I lived with in Spain because then I will never stop talking!

I guess what I am saying is wow. May I never take these people for granted and may I never ever think that I can do anything alone. I have tried so hard to be "independent" since I left college and I have sometimes mistakenly coincided that with "isolated." But tonight I realize that, at least in my life, independence is a myth, because I could not be who I am today without all the amazing people I have met along the way.

My life is enriched by each and every one of you. I am entirely and undeservedly blessed.

Note: The writing of this post was interrupted when a good friend texted me for a favor, asking for a ride home. Of course I said yes and after a confusing encounter with a small lost Chinese woman we got to have a great ride with lovely conversation. It was an absolutely blessed way to end my day. Was it chance that an exemplary friendship encounter occurred while writing this post? I think not. God always knows what He is doing. :) 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh How God Speaks!

"God will see to it that the man who finds him in his earthly happiness and thanks him for it does not lack reminder that earthly things are transient, that is is good for him to attune his heart to what is eternal, and that sooner or later there will be times when he can say in all sincerity, 'I wish I were home.'" -Bonhoeffer, Letters from Prison 

So I am sitting in a coffee shop reading Bonhoeffer's letters from prison and I am just in meshed in this reading. I feel like I am getting this intimate peek into his life and his struggles and he is so real it starts to feel like he has written these letters to me. I resonate with his pain, his sorrow, his optimism and his tiredness. I become sad with him and hopeful with him. 

And as I am reading these letters I just start to have these aha! moments. 

As he talks about separation from loved ones and times of war I stop and pray for my friend Kyle who is in Afghanistan, and for the loved ones who I know are missing him so dearly. And as he writes intimately to his best friend I stop and I praise God for giving me kindred spirits too, for the friends that are far away, yet with whom we still desire to share every detail and struggle. And as he writes about his struggle to console his fellow prisoners after bombings, the lack of words he has when they look for comfort, my heart cries out "I know! I know what you mean!" For my girls on the rez are hurting and their pain is so deep and so real and I have no words. For one cannot explain away sorrow and pain. There are no words I can say that will make the people that have died come back and live. And so as Bonhoeffer writes I just get it again, that aha! moment. And I suddenly know the one thing I can do for my rez sister. I know the one thing that won't fix things but that momentarily may make her smile. 

In response to distress: "So I don't try to explain it, and I think that is the right way to begin, although it's only a beginning, and I very seldom get beyond it. I sometimes think that real comfort must break in just as unexpectedly as the distress." -Bonhoeffer

And I smile. Because years ago a godly man was imprisoned by a Nazi government and his struggles and words to his loved ones, his tries of comfort for his family and his painful truths to his friends, are speaking the same truths to me today in a world quite different from the one he was in. 
And I praise God because Bonhoeffer never knew his letters would be influential in my life but God knew when those words were written that so many years later there would be a girl in California, sitting in a coffee shop with her friends, reading them and chewing and swallowing every word. 

"When you wake up in the morning, may God strengthen your heart and keep sadness from being in it; may he show each of you, each day, tasks that are worth doing...may he smooth out all your ways and bring you together again happily; and may he also grant me the day when I see you both again. God bless you and all of us. From my heart. Your Dietrich" 
-An excerpt from a letter to his friend on his leaving for military duty. I just found it to be such a lovely sentiment. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eye Twitch and Awkwardness

In 2003 I was a high school freshman with an eye twitch. Still stuck in that horribly awkward middle school stage where I had grown ten inches in three years and still didn't quite know what do with my hair, I was stressed out. I had entered into a high school program that was the equivalent of most people's freshman year in college and I was working hard to keep up. The classes were tough and seemed designed to weed out the weak, and I wondered if someone somewhere was giving me the stink eye, out to get me with integrated calculus and 7:30am classes. Though I was smart enough to get into the program, the other 99 kids all seemed a lot smarter than me. Hence the eye twitch. With awkwardness and stressful schoolwork combined, my nerves were on edge.

So tonight, in 2012, I came home with an eye twitch and instantly recalled that this had happened before. I immediately reassured myself that at least this time I could endure with great hair and good fashion (let's admit, I can still be pretty awkward in personality) which lifted the stress substantially. Because who doesn't feel good when you are wearing a neon yellow shirt? But I was annoyed that I had not learned this lesson among the myriad of others, that stress does not produce results.

So I decided. Not today. Just as I changed from awkward gangly-girl to gorgeous super model, ok, too far..ahem... to well put together and groomed (most days) I choose to also transform from stressed out to...not stressed out.

Over the last year I have been less stressed than ever in my life because I realized that stress does no good. In the end, everything gets done. Life goes on. Sometimes we get As, sometimes we get Bs, and all these years later we forget most of the things that stressed us out, and the things we do remember we can laugh at. Life is too short not to have joy. Even the hard work and busy schedules and lack of sufficient sleep can be a source of joy if we keep the right perspective.

So let's do it! Because, let me tell you, it took some really great friends to teach me the art of eyeliner and a hair straightener. So case in point, if we help each other out, by prayer, encouragement, love, and great advice, then we might just be able to get through this life. Find joy in everything, realize how good we have it even in the midst of trials, and we can lose the stress. Together we can lead happier, calmer, lives.

And along with that, I can get rid of this pesky eye twitch. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'Tis the Political Season

Politics.

First reaction? Bleck. The bane of my existence (dramatic much?). Boring. Dumb.

But alas, I am a grown-up with the right to vote and this time around I happen to be in a politics class. Theology and Politics to be exact. Yep, that's right. The only girl in a class of eight boys with a male professor. They are all married, so don't get your hopes up for me. I strut into that class in my pink cardigan with my silver heart hair pin and pull out my purple pen instead of the pink one because, you know, I don't want to look too girlie. I have to assert my tough I-don't-take-crap-from-nobody side. I think purple pens illustrate that pretty well.

At any rate I love the class. It is more a historically based class where we read the greats like Ragatz, Barth (silent h), and Bonhoeffer. And I hold my own because obviously girls are just as smart as boys. But when I come home and turn on the Vice-Presidential debate I get a head-ache because apparently politicians don't know the basics like manners and being polite. I do get a kick out of the fact that they refer to each other as "friend" though because really, they aren't fooling anybody.

So I consider this political season a success because not only did I vote, stay informed by watching debates and keep up with Major League Baseball, I also did not yell or completely disengage and decide to move to Iceland, which I hear is nice this time of year.

And next week, when I go back to my Theology and Politics class, probably wearing one of my super cute Fall outfits and a head full of knowledge, I will continue to channel my inner Margaret Thatcher and be super awesome in the face of a world run mostly by men.

Kick-butt economic policies, strong sassy attitude, and fabulous hair. Maggie you are my hero! 



Monday, October 8, 2012

Hope


hope

noun
1.
the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.


It is my opinion that hope is one of the main things that drive us in this life. The Bible talks about the hope of becoming like Christ and the hope of His return. We live in a constant state of hoping that things will turn out for the best and that Christ will return and make everything right. Therefore it is one of the saddest occurrences I know of when someone chooses to give up hope and end everything by their own hand. Having been through the experience of losing someone in this way I know that it is so hard for those left behind to understand. Why was the love they had not good enough? Why did they not just talk to someone? What made it seem like nothing could get better, that death was the only way out? 

The reason this is on my mind is because one of the students on the reservation I lived at this summer killed himself last night. His girlfriend is one of "my" girls from my time there and she is expecting a baby in a few months. He had recently gotten his GED, was working at the t-shirt printing company of the ministry and had been coming to the weekly youth group. But something drove him to give up hope, to leave everything behind. 

This young man was also the cousin of another one of my girls. This past weekend her other cousin died in the hospital from excessive drinking and her uncle also killed himself. They simply gave up hope, or never found it in the One thing that would satisfy, the One thing that would give them something to live for. 

My heart is entirely saddened for the many who knew and loved this young man.  I know the pervading sadness that makes everything ache when someone has been lost and it is too late to try and catch them. 

So what will we do? Will we sit here, hear this news, and simply feel sad yet continue with our lives? No, I don't think that is the path to take. I believe that we should take this moment to make a decision, to make a choice to be intercessors. There is power in prayer and I believe that if we all make a conscience decision to pray every day for the Native reservations in America, though it could take the rest of our lives, change will happen. Satan has a grip on these lands and we must intercede for our brothers and sisters, we must renounce the power of Satan and proclaim the sovereignty of Christ. No eighteen year old should have to deal with this much death and despair in a lifetime, let alone one weekend. So please, join with me in prayer for these people, for my students, and for every teenager out there who is dealing with the same sadness. We have a choice, to sit back and be glad that we did not grow up in a place like the reservation, or to take five minutes out of every day to pray for healing and reconciliation in a place where hopelessness seems the best option and death seems to be the only way out. What a lie that is to be fed, and what truth the love of Christ can bring. 

Will you join me? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Enjoy!

"Every man must give account on the Day of Judgement concerning the good things he refused to enjoy."
-A Rabbi whose name I forgot to write down in class

I love this quote because we so often get bogged down in life that we forget, or refuse, to enjoy all the good things we have been given. So today, and tomorrow, and the next day, let's make a point to enjoy all of the lovely things we have surrounding us. I assure you, if you look closely, there are many. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Shift, But Not A Positive One

Every day we make choices. And the hope is that we make the right choices, that we choose the good outfit and we fill our time wisely, that we treat other people with love and we never say the wrong thing. And as much as I tell myself that I do make the right choices and as much as my mother swears to me that I am perfect, the truth of the matter is, in the last month especially, I have not succeeded. It seems that in the last few days I have been given a continual wake-up call that I have in fact, been oblivious to my true actions and their consequences. For the past month I have been different than what I would say is my normal self. I thought I was fine, being myself, being emotional when appropriate, angry when called for, and doing what needed to be done. In my mind my summer had been hard therefore I was entitled to some time to process and recover, to be alone and be upset. But what I was really doing was being selfish and isolating myself from those who have cared about me through the whole process.

It takes quite a friend to tell you the truth and not be afraid of the results. I do appreciate those kinds of friends and I am blessed to have a few here in California, the kind that don't validate your bad behavior but remind you of your true actions. I don't like the feeling that comes along with the truth but the pain of knowing your faults is helpful for the change you hope it brings. You see, I was blind to my own faults, and when my friend peeled the layers off of my eyes, the layers of self-pity, preoccupations, and selfishness, I realized that the truth was I haven't been honoring my commitments.  I don't know what I thought I was doing or why I have been the way I have been, but in truth tonight I feel quite regretful. I have lost an entire month to a bad attitude.

What makes me regretful is that this person is not who I am. I feel like my reputation is usually that I am bursting with positivity, always available to help people out and make new friends, and always giving more than I take. But I think I got mixed up in California. I figured since I was only here for two years none of those things were important. I didn't need friends, I didn't need to get involved or be known. I left college and I got lost and when it came time to make choices, I made the wrong ones. Instead of choosing to make the most of my time here I have covered it in negativity and self-seeking motives.

So tonight there is the feeling like someone just pulled a lot of bandaids off my skin really fast, but I am hoping that in realizing this, the skin under those bandaids has become new. All the scrapes and bruises that I caused this past month, all the mistakes and times I have been selfish and wrong are healed because of grace.

Look at that, full circle. The name of the blog is revealing grace, but maybe I never realized that God's grace is revealed when we are at our worst. When we have failed those around us, when we have chosen an attitude of negativity instead of joy, and when we have reached our lowest point, this is when we realize that God's grace is big enough to cover that. And this is when we see that in turn, the grace of God's people can also be big enough to cover our sins and our failures.

I hope that those here at Fuller who have loved me through all my ups and downs will be rewarded richly in heaven, for I am not sure I would have put up with myself if the shoes had been on the other feet. I am undeservedly blessed by these friends and as sad as I feel for wasting the last month I choose to take this wake-up call as a new start. Tomorrow is a new day and I intend to live in the truth that I have been covered by the grace of the one true God.

And if that doesn't make someone positive then I don't know what does.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three Cheers for School!

Emotions run high and low on this blog, probably because when I don't have strong emotions posts are boring. Therefore you guys only get the best and the worst of my daily life. Interesting for you I hope! Today is a post of joy. School has started. It is the day many young people dread and the day I look forward to with giddy anticipation. By the time my class started last night I had been up for over twelve hours and had worked for 10.5 of them, but as soon as I got home and threw on my backpack I was totally pumped. Obviously this could make me a total nerd but I prefer the term "lover of learning".... which actually makes me sound even nerdier. Anyways, here is why I love the fact that school has started:

1. The weather is finally turning California cool. Today I read on the grass under a tree and it was perfect and Anne-of-Green-Gables-like. There was a pesky ant and crazy squirrels but in this moment of positivity I am pretending they were not there.

2. New friends! Now, no snarky comments from my old friends here saying, "But Meredith you told us you didn't want any more friends." I know, I know, but we all know I am being stupid when I say that and that resolve lasts for two minutes until I meet someone nice and immediately become besties with. I can't help myself. As much as I don't want to love people, I love a lot of them. So new friends it is, and what a joy to go through this stage of life with them. I love that my struggles and transitions here can help the next slew of people who are doing the same thing a year later. Community at its finest.

3. Books, reading, lectures, hooray! I love love love that I get to learn about the Old Testament writings from an adorable old British man in a three piece suit. He is so lovely I just want him to invite me over for tea in his garden (no really, I think he has a garden.) And I get to be in a class where we actually take time to pray for each other (novel idea really!) and then I get to read about politics and Christianity and totally freaked out but excited because I actually can use my Econ background and oh my goodness my nerdiness is overflowing and I simply must stop.

So I will just say:

I love Fall quarter. I love the bustling campus, the relationships, and everything that goes along with it. No matter what challenges are ahead, happy days are here my friends. Plus my awesome brother sent me the new Mumford and Sons cd so my ears are blissfully unaware of any noise the difficulties in this life may try to suppress upon me for at least a few days. God is good my friends, all the time. 

One of the first days of freshman year in college. Three of us in this picture are now in seminary or have completed seminary. Who would have thought! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Inevitability of Chaos



I love this picture. I was in Southern India, seeing some sights, and I wanted my photo taken with the amazing background I was surrounded with. The aim was to look gorgeous, well put together, and world-traveler-esque in my Indian outfit on this foreign land. Well, the wind got the better of me and right as the picture was snapped my long shirt flew up, revealing my pale stomach and my three-sizes-too-big pants. In the moment I had no idea what to do as I assumed this was most inappropriate yet also had no way to stop the crazy winds. When I looked back at the picture I simply laughed, realizing that this was probably the one that most captured the essence of my trip. Though I was trying my best to fit in and do the right things I was still being blown about by the wind and in the end I had to realize that sometimes things don't turn out as planned. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and realize you really have no idea what you are doing. 
I just put this picture up by my desk (you can too if you want...just kidding...that might be weird) so everyday I will see it and remember. I want to remember to laugh at the unexpected, to stop trying to control the wind, the unknown, and embrace the impact of my surroundings. It reminds me that life is an adventure, and as hard as we try to do it all right, sometimes things won't go our way. This is the beauty of the journey. It is these windy moments that remind us that we are just a small piece of the plan. Ultimately we have to give up trying to control everything and simply trust that God will give us the ability to do the best that we can. 
It is the chaos in the midst of serenity that can either drive us crazy or lead us to raise our hands up and let God take over. I choose the second. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who Knew Being a Soccer Mom Was So Much Fun?

Let's face it. For the last few days I have been a grump. I have eaten copious amounts of chocolate, spent an entire day sleeping and watching movies, and been rather snappy (not in the good way). I might blame it on the amount of perkiness and pretend joy that the producers of Let's Make a Deal made me have last Friday, but in truth it was a bit more than that (read my last post).

So I want all of my readers to know that I have officially found the cure to grumpiness and a slew of bad days:

Soccer practice. 

Now before you all begin to worry that I really have gone wacky I will assure you that I of course did not attend soccer practice because I joined a soccer team. We obviously all know that sports are not in my repertoire of fabulous qualities. I was actually attending the soccer practice of a 2nd grader. (Yes, be jealous of my life).  Tonight I was babysitting for one of my favorite families and I got to meet him and his six year old sister at soccer practice and let me tell you, I felt so cool. Going to soccer practice is like a whole new level of babysitter. Plus, hanging out with these two kids is fabulous and more like vacation then work because we get to eat ice cream and discuss things like the ice age and road trips, and why the inside of their house has obviously turned into a jungle so they must naturally brush their teeth in the stream and take showers in the waterfall. It reminds me of how fun life can be and is such a reprieve from my daily life. Who knew that playgrounds, magic capes, and imaginary adventures could be just what I needed to perk me back up again?

In addition to soccer practice I of course received a lot of wisdom and reminders of the pressure I was putting on myself which also aided in my journey of transition home from the rez. As I have been reminded, God loves those kids so much more than I do and He has me where He wants me right now, so obviously He has everything under control. (Why do I ever lose sight of that?) I am surely blessed with many great people to walk with me on this journey.

So tonight I will go to bed dreaming of the family that I will hopefully have one day to take to soccer practice, being grateful that I have three families here that show me what I have to look forward to and give me a little practice. 

And I will praise God for these trials and growing moments, while rejoicing that He has blessed me with these treasured evenings to simply let go of my worries and be a kid again. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Pervading Ache for A People I Love

Everyday we wake up and we have no idea what the day will bring. There is always the potential for amazing joys and gladness, which is our hope, but some days also have some sadness. Today is one of those days. I rejoice because I just came home from a bonfire on Huntington Beach. Talk about the good life. Around 45 Fuller students were there as we soaked up some sun, ate dinner together, and cooked s'mores on a beach bonfire. It was like an episode of the OC except we all love Jesus and weren't dressed so fancy. It was an amazing time of community and simply refreshing to be by the open water and the cool breeze.

But my heart is so sad. It is like I can't shake it. I don't want to forget about the reservation, but every day my heart aches for my students there and I can't focus on anything else. I get a call at 4am or a facebook post and I immediately go into worry mode, wondering if my kids are ok, if they are getting into trouble, if they are on the right path. And then I get an email that tells me that everything is falling apart. My Apache girls, that I love so much, are splintering and I am not there to catch them. Reading that update it took every ounce of sense in my body not to pack up my things and move to the reservation immediately. I cried because I have such hope for them and I just wanted to go, because my girls need me. I just know that if I was there then maybe I could help them, heal their relationships, be that listening ear and guiding hand.

Yet I am not there. I am here. And it hurts so much I can hardly stand it. How can I live my life here when my Apache kids are falling left and right?

I know that God has placed me at Fuller and that my learning here enables me to help better. I know that I could move to the rez right this minute but that I still couldn't fix all my kids. But all the same, I love these kids like they are my own. I understand why they do the crap they do and I believe that if I was there then I could help them. I would at least have the chance.

So what do I do? I sit, rather helplessly, here in Pasadena, praying fervently that God is where I cannot be. I pray that He will pick up my kids and move them in the right direction, that He will do what I cannot.

It is a dilemma, because I don't want to pray that my heart ceases to hurt for them, but at the same time, how can I care for them and live my life here?

It is a lot of questions, and right now I don't feel like I  have a whole lot of answers. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Ticking Clock

The clock next to my bed is an old-fashioned looking one that makes that *tick tick* noise as the seconds pass. Yesterday I looked at the clock and realized that the second hand was actually shivering between two points with each sound, so the ticking meant nothing. 

Maybe this is why time seems to be moving so slowly these days.
 Maybe the clock wasn't ticking away time after all. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer Livin'

Ahh, early September. The beginning of the school year, going back to work, the daily grind, hours and hours and hours of free time...wait, is that last one only me? I know you are starting to hate me right now but honestly the amount of free time I have currently is ridiculous. I have organized our freezer, painted and repainted my nails, rearranged all the furniture in my room, and read three books....free time is starting to wear on me. But don't worry, I won't complain. Since I know as soon as the quarter starts I will be inundated with paper writing and schoolwork (despite popular belief at Fuller that I can write papers in roadrunner-like speed) I thought I should try and make the most of my free time in LA, while on a strict(ish) budget. So here are a few pictures of where my LA adventures have taken me in the last two weeks. Maybe if you mix up some homemade salt water and put on the sound of seagulls you can pretend you are adventuring with me.
Manhattan Beach
A metro ride to the Dodgers Game. Go Dodgers! 
Malibu, where surfing was born. The day was cold, overcast, and rainy but anything is fun with a good friend and surfers with nice muscles.  
Laguna Beach! Just like the tv show but with less drama.


Downtown LA. This trip was so fun. We ate pastries at Homegirl Cafe and met some amazingly nice people.  

Next stop, work. This is to prove that I really do have a job but it is taking care of this cutie, so really, its still pretty great.


Ahh to be young and free. What a great detox after a busy and taxing summer. Lots of sunshine, friends, and a clean clean apartment. Care to join me? 


Monday, September 3, 2012

A Debrief and a Full Breath of Air


I recently had my debrief for my time at the reservation. Sometimes things like a debrief can seem silly but after 25 minutes of conversation I felt like I finally took the first deep breath of air that I have had since I came home. As we recapped I was teary-eyed, thinking of my teenagers and their potential and struggles. This experience was so heavy and it still weighs on me, but not in a bad way. It is simply that I will never be who I was before my summer on the reservation. I will never see the world in the same way and I will never process the happenings of my life the same. 
When asked, I realized that my biggest encouragement on the reservation was that I was able to build relationships with some of the teenage girls. These girls are so closed off and quite a few of them started off hating my guts. Yet the fact that by the end they would pull me aside and talk to me about the things they did not know how to deal with was the power of Christ. I could never have built those relationships in and of myself. 
So as I debrief in my nice apartment with a heart that is still aching for the reservation, I feel so blessed. I am blessed to have had such a deep and difficult summer. I blessed to have been given the chance to be angry at God, to argue and be mad at Him, and then to see the ways that He is moving. I have been blessed to be a part of the lives of these kids, in hopes that these 12 will be the difference.
So I will finish with this. We took twelve kids to the Native conference in Missouri this summer and those are the 12 that I was able to have relationships with for the next six weeks on the rez. As my advisor pointed out, in Jesus’ ministry it only took 12 disciples to turn the world upside down. I think my 12 have the potential to do the same. Just like Jesus’ disciples they have their faults, their misunderstandings, and their flaws. But with prayer, community, and love I believe that they can break the cycle of generational poverty and start a process of change in the name of the One who saved them. 
In the end, I think I have discovered that my heart is full and heavy, and I will never be the same. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Broken Record: Blessings Greater than Challenges

There are things I could say but I would just sound like a broken record. Because though I have challenges, they are so much smaller than my blessings. Though sometimes things do not go my way, my life is so much easier than the lives of so many. So I cannot complain, I cannot lament, because my life has been redeemed by Christ and I can ask for nothing more.

I miss the reservation, I miss my high school girls in Fayetteville, and I desire to be more connected with the ministry in India, but what I must realize is that this kind of problem is one that not many people in the world have. It is to have been impacted by so many people, loved by so many people, that I cannot physically be with them all and help them all. I must trust in the only One who can reach to those I love and cannot be with.

This blog has made me realize the constant repeating cycle of my emotions, my experiences, and my life. So tonight I will just rest in thankfulness and not worry about finding the words. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Title is Always the Hardest Part.

Today I ran 3.5 miles. Ok, ok fine, I ran at a jogging pace and intermittently walked to catch my breath, but still, that's pretty impressive right? I don't think I have ever moved my two feet that far on purpose in my life. Part of my motivation was to finally get in shape, be healthy, and look awesome. The OTHER half was because at the end of 3.5 miles was the most glorious market one can imagine. At the end of 3.5 miles is South Pasadena, the super cute part of town with little shops and an old train station and things of that adorable nature, and when I reached the market sweating (ew), panting, and tired I swore I was in farmer's market heaven. It was like a fair that happens every Thursday. Vegetables, samples, ethnic foods, more vegetables, oh my gosh I was in love. I almost forgot that I was sweating bullets as I wandered off like a distracted kid in a candy store. It was simply glorious.

So the plan is to run to the market every Thursday and buy my fresh produce and eat delicious street food with friends. Doesn't that sound lovely? As I sit here with that accomplished kind of ache in my muscles I am just hoping that maybe I can learn to sweat less so as to impress that cute guy at the tomato stand....