Thursday, January 26, 2012

Facebook Blues


The bane of my productivity. The key to communication with friends all over the world.
I love it.
I hate it.

Recently I have been realizing how me-centered facebook is. The whole thing is me focusing on me. We put up pictures we think we look good in, we write witty posts so people will think we are funny, we do everything to preserve a certain image we want people to see and recognize as us.

I don't think that this is good for the life of a Christian at all. Yes, we can use social media as an evangelistic tool if we like, but really social media just makes us more self-centered. God desires us to be Him-centered, so why are we wasting so much time de-tagging ourselves because we don't look good in the picture so-and-so posted?

This thought challenges me to stop using things like Facebook to live a life focused on myself and not on my Creator. How I will fix it I don't know, but I don't want to buy into our culture's idea that I, as the individual, am the most important. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Distressing History

I am taking a class on American Church History.

It isn't pretty.

Currently I am reading a documentary witness on African American Religious History. The people who went to church on Sundays were the same ones who held slaves and treated them brutally during the week. When the church should have stood against this injustice, they found reasons to support it. It makes my heart break for the injustices committed by those who professed an all-covering grace and freedom in Christ, yet acted with such hostility and inhumanity.

So this is my question.

What injustices is the church, maybe unknowingly, letting happen today? What do we do during the week that is not compatible with what we preach on Sundays? Are we justifying things we do or support when really, if we look at the Scriptures we profess, are not justified?

It is food for thought.
Because our prayer and hope in studying history is that we do not repeat it.

"They attend with Pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith. They are always ready to sacrifice, but seldom show mercy. They are they who are represented as professing to love God whom they have not seen, whilst they hate their brother whom they have seen. They love the heathen on the other side of the globe. They can pray for him, pay money to have the Bible put into his hand, and missionaries to instruct him; while they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their own doors." -Frederick Douglass 1845

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Tug on My Heartstrings

I have recently been keeping up with a blog that is written by an old friend's mom. This family recently adopted two siblings from Russia. It is really a rather inspiring story. Yesterday as I was catching up on my blog reading I clicked on the link to the site where children are listed as waiting for adoption. These children all either have disabilities or are HIV positive. I began to read story after story, description after description of these sweet and amazing children who have not yet been given the chance to reach their full potential. A few of them have been on my heart for days, and I can't rid my mind of their faces.

Follow this link and you can see a brief description of these sweet children. They are described as very close siblings, and one of them is HIV positive. Everything in me wishes I had the means to adopt Alyssa and Yates. It breaks my heart that they don't yet have a family. These kids are all I can think about these days!

Then there is this cutie:

Arnold has Down's Syndrome and from the description found here it looks like he has amazing potential if given a family who loves him. The site states that if he does not find a family by July then he will be put in an institution. It seems that when children with disabilities reach a certain age they get taken out of the orphanage and placed in an institution, where it is likely very difficult for them to reach their full potential.

I admit writing this post out of a bit of ignorance, but these children have gripped my heart. I don't know a lot about International adoption, but I do know that these are real children that need loving families, children I would take in a heartbeat if I could. I guess this is a moment for us to thank God for the children we have and know that are healthy and that are loved. And for me, it is a moment where I realize that one day I hope to be able to be a family to someone like Alyssa, Yates, and Arnold.

God, I pray this earnestly with all of my heart. Please find a family for these children, a family that will love them through all the hard times and the challenges. Take care of them and all of the other children without a proper family tonight. Hold them tight God. Give them hope. Open the hearts of those able to bring them into their families around the world. Amen. 

The Still Small Voice

All the time I ask to hear God's voice clearly. Come on!  I think, This would all be easier if You just told me directly what You want!
Well today I have been thinking. I have been thinking about if I am where I am supposed to be, if I should quit Fuller and go to Spain, if I should be in Spain now. . .basically I have the Europe grassisgreenerontheotherside syndrome. So I decided that as my sweet baby I nanny went down for his nap I would sit down and have it out with God. I was prepared for a full out battle/complain/demand session. I wanted answers! So I sat down and began to journal.

What is it that you want from me? Where do you want me to be? Wh..

As soon as I wrote the second question a still small voice in the back of my head spoke. Now I know when the voice is not my own. And this is the answer that I heard:
Right where you are.
That is what He said. Right where you are. Funny how I always want God to answer me and when He does I am kind of annoyed. I was so prepared to have it out for a couple pages and He silenced me after the first line. You can't really argue when you have heard Him give so clearly an answer.

So I guess that is it. I guess God wants me to be right where I am. I guess I have to be content, have peace, and just wait for my next instructions. Because this is apparently where God wants me right now and who can dispute the One who answers when we call? 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Spirituality of Transformation

The other say in class we learned about Desmond Tutu, an incredible man from South Africa. This was a quote that I found particularly beautiful. Maybe it will speak to someone who reads it. 
Hopefully this week I will be able to give you all news of my next adventure. I must say that God seems to always have something interesting in store for me. 

“Dear child of God,
I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional. It seems to be part and parcel of the human condition, but suffering can either embitter or ennoble. Our suffering can become a spirituality of transformation when we understand that we have a role in God’s transfiguration of the world.” 
-Desmond Tutu 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To Truly Live!

I have decided.

I am going to stop looking at Pinterest pictures or watching movies and wishing my life was different. I am going to stop wishing that it was more fabulous, or vintage, or picture perfect. I am going to stop wishing and start doing. I am going to make it fabulous, because seriously, my life IS fabulous! I have traveled the world and I am only 22. I have been places, seen things, made friends. My fabulous.
I am going to be fabulous.
Every day will be an adventure. Every day will be worth it.
I am going to step out of pictures and movies and quotes and live.

I will travel to exotic places, even if I can only afford to go a few feet from my apartment.
I am going to embrace love anywhere I see it in my life.
I am going to laugh out loud.
I am going to laugh TOO loud.
I am going to skip when I want to and I am going to eat expensive ice cream.
I am going to write letters.
I am going to give as many hugs as people will take.
I am going to make memories instead of living in them.
I am going to praise the Lord my God from the rooftops.

I am going to stop wishing my life
and actually live it.

This is going to be fun. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back-Up Plans

Everyone should have a back-up plan. In fact, I think everyone should have a back-up plan for the back-up plan, because, at least in my experience, plan 1 and 2 usually go straight to the trash chute. Recently I came up with a back-up plan that I thought was pretty flawless. 

If all else fails, I will become a nun who herds sheep in the mountains of Northern Spain...or the Alps.

I thought this sounded like a pretty great back-up plan! But alas, it has been tested and found wanting. My dear Jess showed me the err of my plan. 

1. Nuns don't dance. How can I live life without a good dance party every now and then?? Life isn't worth it without a few good dance moves. 

2. Nuns have to wear the same thing every day. Not to mention habits don't come in bright colors or patterns. Indeed, this would be a problem for me.

3. You can pet a sheep and you can love a sheep, but a sheep won't talk back. Apparently the general consensus is that I would go nuts without people to talk to. (me? Like to talk? nooooo....)

Picture it now: Meredith, as the dancing nun in her multicolored habit, running through the hills talking to her beloved sheep.

Yea, now that I think about it. . .

I think I need a new back-up plan. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Praise the Lord!

 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. the name of the LORD is to be praised. 

Psalm 113:1-3


Friday, January 13, 2012

Tebow, can you hear me?

Isn't there anyone who has a connection to Tim Tebow? Is it too much to ask God if I ask to marry him?

Even if my dreams of marrying Tim Tebow don't come true, he is a wonderful example of what girls should look for in a man. He is proof that there are good guys out there, who will follow in the footsteps of Christ no matter the opposition. He is a servant of the Lord who is using his position in society to glorify the name of Jesus Christ. He is missional, kind, humble, and compassionate. Add to that, he is really attractive.

Really, what more can a girl ask for?

Read this and grab some tissues.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Living the Brownie Girl Scout Dream

implode  (ɪmˈpləʊd)
— vb collapse or cause to collapse inwards
in a violent manner as a result of external pressure:
 the vacuum flask imploded to pronounce (a consonant) with or by implosion

Do you ever have times when the world around you seems to implode? When things seem to collapse inward, even though on the outside it seems that everything is fine? I would say that using the word implode is a little drastic for what I am feeling these days, but I like the sense of the word (and I am a big fan of using good vocabulary). The pressure of life becomes so much that it seems that everything just caves in, and once it implodes, it seems almost impossible to put the pieces back together.

A new and dear friend just brought me lunch to work, and she asked me how things had been since Christmas. Judging her as a good person, I told her the truth. Things have been hard. I sorely miss all the parts of my life I had last year, my friends and family, my status and my positions at Georgia College.

As I told her about the state of my heart, I was sure she would just say something kind and generic as most people do, such as, "yes, that's hard. It will get better!" Which really, when you think about it, is not very helpful. But alas, I have found someone who understands. Praise the Lord!

She explained to me that it is ok to mourn the loss of these things. Heck, I have just gone from being well-known and connected on a college campus for four years to moving by myself to a place where I know no one and no one knows me. So it is ok for me to mourn the loss of these things that made me who I was in Georgia. But at the same time, I have to realize the blessings God has bestowed on me to replace these things.

Now, hold up, don't worry. Most of my readers are in Georgia, and I am sure you are almost to tears (not really) because you think I am about to write about replacing you. No such nonsense. I like to live my life by the Brownie Girl Scout song, "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." You can choose if you are silver or gold, one is more fashionable and one is more expensive. Anyways, I digress.

My dear new friend made many great points, but she helped me see that it is ok to mourn the things we lose in the midst of change. At the same time I cannot sit in mourning and never come out. I must step up and breathe the polluted new air and realize that God is blessing me. It may be different, it may be hard, but He never promised it would be easy. And I must say, the past few hours with my new friend made my heart feel quite like the old heart again. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fairy tales and childish notions.

Sometimes life is hard. I think most anyone who reads this will agree. When we are young we are fed a lot of idealistic notions, and I am not resentful of that. It gave me more time to believe that everything and everyone in the world was good. Even though at times I feel so far from those childhood dreams, I think that this idealistic hope of our childhood is still alive, if we believe in the Gospel that is. It has simply gotten buried. It gets buried beneath the news of wars and conflict. It gets hidden behind the 27 million people enslaved around the world and the thousands of children dying tonight because they can't get enough food. It gets pushed down under loneliness, pain, distance, and sadness. It gets pushed so far down that we begin to believe in the stuff on top. We begin to believe that the childish hope was simply childish. We become discouraged. We want to just give up, or we feel so burdened that we can hardly bear it. 

But what did we learn in all of our fairy tale books? Think, you can remember. Good always wins over evil. Beneath all of this heartache there is the beat of a heart that cannot be contained. It beats louder and louder until it overcomes all of the things that have tried to bury it. And it beats so loud that it covers everything, and there it is again. Though we may be 22, 42, or 92, we feel that peace we had as a child. It is a peace that says we are taken care of and everything really will be wonderful in the end. We really will all have a happy ending, because Jesus Christ came down to earth as our Prince and He saved us. He rescued us so that we could all live happily ever after. 

I have to listen. I have to believe. Otherwise I will get buried in all of this. I have to remember that there is a happy ending to everything. I have to believe, because it is all that keeps me afloat. 

To be busy is not to be full.

"In biblical terms, a life crammed with activity can crowd the Spirit's activity, leaving the soul empty."

-Paul Jensen, Subversive Spirituality, Chapter 1, Page 65

I guess it is necessary to rest sometimes. Although, when the time comes for rest or "free time," I fear I have forgotten how to enjoy it. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Called to be faithful.

We are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful.
-Dr. Bryant Myers

At first glance that sentence seems to make no sense. If I cannot be successful and make a difference in the world, then why am I here? Why am I on the other side of the country at seminary studying development if I am not going to make a difference? But then I see it. I see that what he means is that we must simply give our best. We aren't going to eradicate poverty, but we are going to be faithful in going forth and trying. We are to be the best that we can be to serve God, and let God do the rest. 

This one sentence, from one class, is going to save me a lifetime of disappointment. For I now see that this is not about me fixing the world. This is about me being faithful to God's call and doing the best I can do at what He asks of me. It is about knowing myself in a way that I can deal with myself now and not get in the way of my own ministry later. 

I may want to change the world, but the truth is I am going to have to settle for changing myself and being faithful to my God. I'll leave the rest to Him. I need to give my all, not because I can fix everything, but because this is what God asks of me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another Image of our Savior's Love

"Oh to be loved!" She exclaimed with a faraway look in her eyes and a smile so slight it was hardly noticed. "To be loved is my greatest desire. To be fully content and fully at home in the arms of another. Oh I would be complete if only I were loved."

He looked at her, his eyes searching and a slight sadness tickling the ends of  his lips. 

"My dear," he spoke softly, "Don't you know? You are loved. More than you could ever imagine. The love you long for is just a thimble of water compared to the ocean you already have."

"Hmph." She crossed her arms and turned away, her dress fluttering in the summer wind. "Then why do I feel like this, like I am alone in a world of togetherness." 

At this his sad smile turned up a bit, and his eyes shone like great lights in the night sky. 

"My dear, it is because you do not realize the ways in which I am holding you. When the wind blows on a perfect summer day, when you receive a note from a long lost friend, when you have that feeling of contentment in a discontented world, my dear that is me. That is me showing you that I love you. 

She turned, her eyes suddenly wide and a lone tear weaving a path down her delicate cheek. "It is you." She whispered. "I knew it was you, but I never realized. I never realized that Your love is what I long for."

He laughs softly, in a way that is neither demeaning nor rude, simply full of love for a child that was lost and then found. 

"My dear, I have never left you."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh Resolutions.

Ahh a new year. The joy of a fresh start. I have a feeling, a feeling deep in my soul, that this is going to be a good year. In fact, I have been pondering new year's resolutions, as is tradition, and many have come and gone through my mind. Here are a few to sample:

1. Drink more water.

2. Get married.

3. Meet a handsome stranger.

4. Practice my violin

I would say about half of those are good resolutions. You can decide which ones I am actually going to follow through with.

But seriously, as I thought through all these things I want to do better next year, I realize that I really just wanted to be a better follower of Jesus. I don't want to be focused on the earthly, but the eternal. I want to wake up each morning and end each evening reading His Word and in prayer. I want to be burdened to the point of exhaustion with the problems of this world, so that I cannot stop praying for redemption and restoration. I want to truly believe that my part in the bigger picture right now is my words and my prayers.  For should I not be proclaiming Him daily? As much as I love to pretend being in seminary makes me more spiritual, I have a long way to go, we all do.

So I am going to give up on my resolution to meet a handsome stranger, no I want to keep that one, I will just add an all-encompassing resolution to this year. I resolve to have enough compassion for my friends, family and the world that I will be led to pray for them, and pray for them fervently. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An Image of God's Love

Many times when I am trying to understand God, or my life in relationship to Him, my mind works in pictures or images. The other day I happened to be chatting with a dear friend of mine and we were discussing hardships and trials that are due to something we are born with. A picture came to my mind as we struggled with this topic, and though it may not be theologically sound, I thought I would share it with you. Maybe it will make sense as you struggle through hardships of your own.

He leans over the tiny baby, still and yet unfinished. As He puts the finishing touches on her, silent tears fall from His majestic face. He knows that this touch will cause her suffering and great sadness. This unformed baby's whole life flashes before His eyes, as the tears continue to fall. As He finishes, He kisses her tiny cheek and sends her down. He has placed in her the inability to have children, but He has also written all of her days down in His book. He knows that she will be a wonderful mother. He sees the future of three small children changed because of her love for them, though they were not born from her body. And in the midst of her sad heart, He sees hope.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Perfect Weather Day

I don't know how it does it, the smell of the air on a perfect weather day, but it can evoke all the good memories of days gone by that I thought I had forgotten. I smell the air and I feel it lay perfectly on my skin and when I close my eyes, I can see it. 

I can see myself sitting in my school uniform eating ice cream from the ice cream truck, at a table in our backyard in England. 

I am playing on the playground at my elementary school with my dad and my siblings, arguing because he won't let us leave until we make a basket. 

I am traipsing about with my high school friends in Foxcroft, my neighborhood in Virginia. 

I can picture running through the backyard with my old boyfriend in Georgia, or laying in the grass discussing the things of life.  I am transferred to a high school football game. I can see my house and my mom. I can taste chicken salad and lemonade. 

I can close my eyes and feel like I am walking through downtown Milledgeville, stopping in antique stores with my friend Peter. 

And I don't resist. I wrap myself in this perfect weather and I make my home in this feeling of comfort. As my mind rolls through all the beautiful days of my life I know that there will be many more. That days like this are a gift from my Father, reminding me that there are things in this life that are good. Reminding me that I am blessed and that my life has been full. 

I must admit, I love when He gives me a perfect weather day. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Time of My Life

On this day three years ago I boarded a plane for the most life-altering experience God has granted me thus far. During my five months in Salamanca, Spain God revealed to me my weaknesses and shortcomings, and helped me to see how much He loved me and wanted to use me. He gave me some of the most amazing friends and relationships and my life has not been the same since.

It is amazing to me that three years have passed since then.
Thank you God. Thank you for taking me to Spain and changing my life.

Hace tres años que viajé a España por una experiencia que cambió mi vida completamente. Durante los cinco meses in Salamanca Dios me mostró mis debilidades y me ayudó a ver como me quiere y me quiere usar. Dios me dio algunos de los mejores amigos y relaciones y mi vida ha sido completamente diferente hasta este viaje. Es increíble que tres años han pasado desde mi viaje a Salamanca. Gracias a Dios por el viaje, y por cambiando mi vida.