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.