blank pages

You can always look at anything in two ways.

For instance, right now, I am staring at a blank screen as words subtly but surely fill the screen and a whirlwind of thoughts overflow onto the computer screen while my fingers try to make sense of the jumbling ideas inside of my head. Lines and lines of a page that needs to be filled in order to make something out of what I’m thinking or feeling, but instead I sit and stare and my heart is prone to wander.

Or, I can look at this blank page on a screen, and I can take a deep breath. I don’t know what is going to fill these lines. Better yet, what will fill the next sentence that I am about to write. To be completely honest, I have no plan for this post. I am just typing, writing, dreaming, hoping that it might just become something beautiful that I can look back on. I don’t know what the last sentence holds. But somehow, that’s okay, I don’t need to know. All I can do is keep writing until I get there, knowing that the adventure lies within the journey.

And then I stop and think. The way I feel about this blog post in this very moment is sometimes how I feel about life.

My life seems to be flashing in front of my eyes and spinning out of my control more than I can keep track of and at moments, it feels like I am merely staring at a blank page. A blank page filled with no words because I don’t have any. An unwritten space full of uncertainty and the unknown future. Thousands of things that I could say or do or feel but for some reason, all I can see is the blank screen. Filled with fear at times, with loneliness at another, or sometimes with doubt. And at the end of the day, I feel like one of those unlined journals that you get at the bookstore, the kind that smells like a brand new book when you open it up. Endless possibilities with no clue in the world where to begin.

Or I can look at life in a different way.

In the midst of the craziness and chaos that life can bring upon, there is a stillness and a peace that can be found. However, love, this peace doesn’t come from hundreds of intriguing words wrapped together in a beautiful, ornate package or a blog post filled top to bottom with rain droplets of wisdom and valuable treasures of advice. This serenity comes from trust. Trusting that the pages don’t need to be filled by yourself and trusting that the words will come as they come. And instead of striving for some perfect metaphor or awestricken analogy that will somehow make everything click, you just keep writing. Darling, some words will be harder to write than others, and some will come easier too. But you must have hope that the blank page is a picture of the calm in the midst of the raging sea. It is within the pages full of the blank spaces that He is writing your story.

It may not make sense all the time. There may be days that are filled with words and some that have none. But that is the simply the beauty of it, don’t you see?

Inside a blank page lies exhilarating opportunity, endless potential, captivating adventure, whimsical dreams, the mystery of the unknown. The most freeing thing in the world is to let go and just be. To stop trying to think of the right thing to say and to be on your knees in surrender. To admit that it is absolutely and one hundred percent impossible to always have it together all of the time. To allow yourself to be real with yourself and with people.

To trust in the God of the universe and all creation who knit together the inmost being and depths of your soul because the battle has been fought and victory has been won. And the story has already been written, darling.

Psalm 139:16 “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

There are always two ways.

You just have to keep writing, and leave the rest up to the Author.

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worth a thousand words

I feel like I have been driving nonstop at a 100 mile per hour pace for the entire semester, and then all of a sudden Christmas break sneaks around the corner and everything comes to a screeching halt. Then I start to think to myself, where in the world did the time go? As I drove home on the 3 hour drive back from school, I had a lot of time to contemplate and ponder life. Everything that had just happened, what is right in front of me, and what is ahead. The thought crossed my mind, I haven’t posted on my blog in a while, I am going to think of something to write about. But I instantly felt the Lord whispering to me, Meredith, you don’t always have to have something to write about. Just sit, and let Me do the rest. So here I am sitting at my favorite coffee shop in my hometown drinking a peppermint drink to cherish the rare cold Texas weather and the coming of Christmas in 8 sleeps. And I’m just sitting and realizing something. Ever so often I feel that I have to plan my life and always have a plan. I am a junior in college, so where will I be in a year when graduation is upon me? Where will I go? What will I do next summer? What grades do I need to make to get there? What is my back up plan?

Oh but darling, just sit, and let Me do the rest.

We don’t have to have our lives all planned out to a tee, it’s not even how life was meant to be. But for some reason as humans, we crave a plan- we want to know who we will marry, when we will be married, how many kids we will have, where we will work when we graduate, better yet, how we will graduate college. When the Lord already has all of this written in His grand book of life, each of our days perfectly ordained as they are. And yet dear child, He calls us to be still and wait. To take each day at a time as each day has enough troubles of its own.

That being said, I wanted to share with you a little recollection of my year. This crazy year full of redemption from something that overtook my life, healing from the inside out, tears that never seemed to stop flowing, laughter that never seemed to cease, new friends and old friends and people who I absolutely adore, adventures that stretched me out of my comfort zone and expanded my horizons to a world beyond what I could have ever dreamed of, and eternal, lasting hope from a God who carried me through it all. Looking back at this year, I see grace. I see myself stumbling again and again, trying to put my hope in things that would eventually fail me, and feeling that same void time after time. Until I sit here, praying, writing, thinking, sitting, and laughing at how each moment, each step I take, each second that passes, every breath I breathe, I am reminded that He is enough. That Jesus is enough, and because of His immense, unconditional grace, I am enough too.

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the spring I spent in Dallas will forever hold memories I will cherish

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steadfast: resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering

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laughter is healthy for the soul

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thank you for never giving up 

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to know and to be known

I believe that God places people in our lives to show more of His character and His love to us through them here on earth.

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and captured moments

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I love how pictures can captivate emotion and memories in a beautiful display of frozen time. Looking back on all of these photos remind me of times that I cherish in my heart, uniquely wonderful humans who have truly impacted my life, and times of sheer joy that made me take a step back from the crazy fast pace of life and simply thank Jesus that I am alive. I hope through these photos that you were able to catch a little glimpse into my life this past year.

When life feels as if time is slipping through your fingers like grains of sand, cling to the precious moments in the mundanity of everyday. Relish the astonishing beauty of a sunset after a long day, crying silly tears of laughter with your roommates after hours of studying, waking up at home with no alarm to the smell of coffee brewing and the sweet sound of birds chirping outside your window to ring in the new morning. Find a reason to be thankful for life every day, even for the little things.

There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask “what if I fall?” 

Oh but my darling, what if you fly?

-E.H.

invisible

Fair warning, this post contains sheer honesty and vulnerability.

Okay, so you’ve been warned- but I wanted to share something with y’all that has been on my mind lately.

So hello world, my name is Meredith and I struggle with loneliness.

It already feels lighter just typing that right now knowing that some of you have felt this before or feel this way now, and can relate to what I am about to tell you. Invisibility is rooted in the desire to be noticed. Inside all of us is a longing to be captivating, to be endearing, to be recognized. When people affirm our worth, whether by complimenting us on our beauty or congratulating our achievements, it boosts our self esteem just a little bit enough to last until the next day, then it starts over. And suddenly, you feel this sense of loneliness again and seek out another person to make you feel less alone. When in reality, you could be standing in a crowd of hundreds of people and still feel like you might as well be invisible.

Can anyone relate?

Or maybe you find this affirmation in titles and things tied to your name that add to your identity. Therefore, whenever these titles or forms of acceptance don’t go your way, you automatically think of yourself as less worthy. Instead of having this confidence that is in something more than this world, perhaps you let the rejection define you. Even though, love, that could not be farther from the truth. Rejection, titles, acceptance- none of that defines who you are. I have a favor to ask you: believe that tonight.

Potentially you seek this seemingly sought after self worth in relationships. Break ups tend to spark a sense of doubt in your mind questioning your value and crushing a part of you that placed your worth on that person. Dear one, I want to tell you right now that is a lie too- people will always fail you. That is simply an aspect of being human, we are broken, sinful, and hurt each other all the time. So no, this relationship does not define who you are. I have learned time and time again that when we place are hope in other people we will consistently be disappointed. Not because of the people we place our hope in, but because Jesus is the only One who can ever fill that void. Our hope must be in Him.

Wanting to feel known is something that resides in every creature with a soul.

I want to let you in on another truth.

You are already known.

Not only are you known, but you are loved. Amidst your flaws. Past your imperfections. Despite your failures. That changes nothing, beloved child.

Trust me when I say that most likely every person who reads this has felt loneliness at one point or another in their life, probably more than once. That is because we were made for each other, to live in community, to have relationships, to love one another. However, we were not made to be dependent on each other for our worth or affirmation of our identity when we feel invisible.

Think of it this way. Do you remember those invisible pens that when you write on a certain type of paper and hold a special flashlight it reveals what you wrote with the pen? You could write whatever you wanted, thinking no one would ever know unless they had that flashlight and saw through the invisibility.

You, darling, are the invisible ink pen. Transcribing in invisible ink, or rather, trying to hide behind the loneliness you feel. On the outside looking in, you may not seem lonely at all. In fact, you might be surrounded by tons of friends and family and people who love and adore you, yet something is still not right. Only the Holder of the flashlight sees through the facade, only He knows you even when you don’t want to be known. Or when you are desperate to be known and feel very unknown. You are still known to Him, love. The invisible ink can only take you so far.

Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

Psalm 139:17-18 “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”

1 Samuel 12:22 ” For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you His own.”

The plague of invisibility can be detrimental unless the light is shined upon us and we accept and believe what is true.

This is what is true: You are never alone.

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lies like lactose

It’s been way too long since I’ve gotten to step away from the world for a bit and get away to write here, but I finally have a chance to escape into this little corner of my heart…so hello, everyone. I hope you all have had a wonderful first couple months of the semester as the leaves have begun to change colors and the air has gotten chillier on the brim of fall. Not too long ago, a big change happened in a small part of my life- my diet shifted to gluten and dairy free. Instead of indulging on the luxuries of french vanilla creamer, queso, and Blue Bell, I’ve had to switch over to almond milk, guacamole, and Nada Moo (my fav coconut milk ice cream). The reason I stopped eating dairy and gluten is because one, my doctor recommended it for my stomach aches I would get every time I ate, and two, because I feel so much better. Changing my diet has had its disadvantages, however, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. My mood is lifted, my energy is rejuvenated, and when I eat now I am tummy ache free. I never knew how much it was affecting me until I stopped eating the thing that was causing it all, which naturally, ignited an analogy in my mind.

One night when I was about to go out with friends, I knew that I would be tempted by food at the party with gluten and dairy galore if I went hungry. Because of this, I tried to be full when I left the house so that I wouldn’t be tempted by the things I knew would be bad for me like mouth watering chocolate cake balls and therapeutic ice cream in all their shining glory. Instead when I was home, I ate fruit and my gluten free snacks that I stocked up on from the healthy aisle at HEB so that I wouldn’t be hungry later. Sure enough, when I got to the party with my friends, I was still tempted by the foods that looked so yummy on the outside even though I knew they would hurt my stomach and make me feel sick for the rest of the night. I was full on what was good, so the bad didn’t appeal to me. Kind of like life with Jesus.

When I spend time with Him in the morning through immersing myself in truth from Scripture, the lies from the enemy that viciously attack me throughout the day don’t seem as appetizing because I am already full on what I know to be true.

Instead of looking in the mirror and thinking I need to change my image, He says I am enough.

Whenever I feel alone and discontent in singleness, He promises to never leave my side and lovingly asks me to give Him my undivided devotion.

When I ask why, He says He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.

If I am caught up in my emotions and feel like I am in shambles, He holds me together and picks me up when I fall down. 

Just like when I don’t allow myself to eat lactose as I know it will be bad for me, I am reminded of the importance of not only knowing, but believing the truth that Jesus tells me about who He is and who He has made me to be so that I am not tempted to believe the ultimately devastating lies.

Sometimes though the lies are disguised as truth and tempting to fall into the trap. Lies such as if only this, then everything would fall into place, or maybe this will fulfill the emptiness deep down I feel right now. And we might not even know we are believing a lie, but believing that anything will fulfill us besides Jesus is a lie…because dear ones, He is all we need (Philippians 4:19).

What a beautiful thing to trust, that He is enough.

Whenever I cheat on my little elimination diet, my stomach always hurts, I am easily fatigued, and I start to feel down because I don’t feel good. The same goes when I believe the devil’s lies. I begin to feel insecure, my joy is stolen, and I wear a frown instead of a smile. Such a significant difference it makes to walk in the freedom of the gospel and to cling to words that are true.

Forgiven (Isaiah 1:18).

Lovely (Song of Songs 4:7).

Righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Chosen (1 Peter 2:9).

Radiant (Psalm 34:5).

Enough (Isaiah 43:1).

These words are describing you, love.

Next time you are tempted to believe the lies like lactose, I want you to remember these words and fight the untruthful attacks (2 Corinthians 10:5). The words of truth from the One who perfectly stitched your beautiful soul together (Psalm 139:13).

I hope you laugh a lot today and that your smile is unwavering. I know that is how I feel when I remember that I am forever unconditionally loved (Jeremiah 31:3).

Beloved, you just have to believe.

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still waters

You know those moments where you’re just like, “my life is literally a song.”  And you are thinking of a specific song in your head. I had one of those moments today sitting in a coffee shop while the rain was pitter pattering down outside the window.  As I sat there, flipping through my old journal entries and remembering, all I could do in the moment was smile.  Smile because I finally feel like I am swimming in still waters once again.  Not treading water just trying to catch my breath or drowning simply waiting for my head to be above the surface, but swimming.

The song I thought of today was a song by Taylor Swift [shocker] called “Clean.”  The true meaning behind the song is talking about how she is clean from a relationship she had been in and how she woke up one morning finally feeling like she could breathe again.  She sings about the drought being the worst part, the time where no water was in sight and she still felt like a part of her was missing.  And then there is the chorus, “Rain came pouring down when I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe, and by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean.”  The reason I feel that this song describes my life is not because of a boy, but because of my depression.

I have been free from the depression that held me captive last year for almost eight months now, but for some reason, today I felt different.  Instead of praying, “thank You Jesus that I am free and for healing and for redemption.  But I pray…”, and then saying something that was still hard.  Or something I felt was broken and cracked inside and still needed fixing.  Of course, we as humans will always have something that needs to be fixed in us because sin is inevitable.  But for me, when I was fighting the battle of depression, it seemed more like an illness or an all-encompassing trap that I couldn’t seem to escape.  So today, I prayed, “thank You Jesus for how far I have come because of You.  Thank You for holding me together and for gluing back the pieces in my life that had fallen apart.  Thank you for fully healing my heart that had been broken.  Thank You that I can finally breathe, and that I am finally clean.

My eyes welled with tears as I read my journal and the ink filled pages brought me back to those moments of gut ridden loneliness, heart wrenching pain, and desperate cries out to my Savior.  The moments of weeping were marked by the tear stained prayers where the words were a little bit smudged.  Then there were moments of redemption and pure, beautiful joy and my tears turned into happy ones.  The pages written top to bottom with prayers I prayed in the darkest of nights that were answered in the radiance of the morning.  On December 26, 2015, just after the Lord so graciously healed me from the thief that overtook my identity, the thief of joy and life and all things good, I wrote these words in a prayer.

“Lord, I want to live my life forevermore believing TRUTH, walking in the LIGHT, living for your NAME, living a life of complete and utter surrender and abandon to You.  Awaken my heart and light a burning fire of passion for You.  I want to fall in love with You all over again.  I feel freer than I ever have before and I am overflowing with true joy on account of You.  Thank You that You call me Your daughter.  That I did absolutely nothing to deserve or earn Your love but yet, You freely give it to me.  Philippians 1:20-21 “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Life is such a beautiful and wonderful gift that You have blessed me with.  Thank You for the freedom that is found from believing in You and trusting in You and in what You say is true.”

Then I flipped forward to a prayer I wrote when I was at the beach in Galveston, watching the sun rise over the vast and breathtaking ocean on July 10, 2016.

“I am in awe of the term redemption…You redeemed me and saved my soul by grace.  You redeemed me from depression, thoughts of wanting to take my own life, deep insecurities, self hatred, isolation, darkness, and heartbreak and You have given me through Your faithfulness- joy, a love and passion for life, full knowledge of Whose I am, a love for who I am in You, community and people who love, uplift and encourage me daily by bringing me into the light.  You are mending my heart each second with contentment and You give me strength when I am weak.  I pray that I will bear my cross as I wait for the crown.  Jesus, I want my life on this earth, this temporary home, to be an echo of Your love and a reflection of the eternal and imperishable joy found in Jesus.  Thank You for today and beats in my heart and blood in my veins and breath in my lungs.  I’m loved by You, it’s who I am.  Meredith Rhoads McCown, daughter of the King, worthy and redeemed.  Lord, You are a good, good Father.”

And so He is.

You may feel as if you are swimming in still waters right now, as I do.  And for that in of itself, I rejoice with you!  That is something beautiful to take joy in and to praise Jesus for His abundant promises.  But darling, you may feel as if you are caught in the eye of a hurricane right now.  My heart breaks for you as I have been there where you are.  However, I rejoice with you, too.  Because I know that one day, you will be flipping through the tear stained, ink smeared pages in your journal like I did today, and you will start to cry like I am right now.  Your heart will flood with emotions of sadness and pain, but then emotions of joy and thankfulness will overcome them.  Just like the Lord will overcome the hurricane that has caused the crashing waves to swallow your beautiful self whole [Exodus 14:14].

Soon enough, your soul will be refreshed [Psalm 23:3] and your strength will be renewed [Isaiah 40:31] and you will remember yet again what it feels like to swim in a clear blue pond of still waters.

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treasures in trenches

            A few weeks ago in late July, I spent my entire Saturday working on a cattle ranch to earn money in order to pay off a speeding ticket that had been lurking above my head. So naturally, I signed up for a job posting to work on the Martin Cattle Ranch, in which the only requirement was for someone “hard-working, able to lift heavy items, and who has experience with being a ranch hand.” I am hard working I suppose, I thought to myself, subtract the part about lifting and minus the experience being a ranch hand, how hard could it really be, I thought. So a few Saturdays ago, from the wee hours of the morning to the setting sun sinking back into the horizon, I dug a trench. My new friend, Megan, and I dug for hours on end. Hair braided to look the part, gloves on my soon-to-be-blistered hands, and shovels in motion, we got to work in the scorching Texas heat. I played music from my phone to make the work seem like less work, and then I started thinking to myself. What exactly is the purpose of this trench, and why does it feel like we will never finish digging around the perimeter of the house, my mind wandered aimlessly.  Will the money I make today be worth it, and will the exhaustion from the heat and my muscles being extremely sore in the morning seem worth the labor.  Megan began chatting with me and sharing parts of her story.  To make time pass while digging our trench, we discussed our deep thoughts about life, and college, and her family’s ranch.  And we also talked about singleness. How it can be draining when everyone around you seems to have found that person, and how it can be discouraging when everyone around you seems to have found love that will last, and you have yet to find that love. How being single can feel like running a marathon but the finish line isn’t quite in sight or like swimming in the ocean without seeing the shore. And at once, it hit me all of a sudden.

Singleness can feel a lot like digging a trench. Feeling lonely or unwanted or unlovable can feel kind of like sweating in the 100 degree southern heat when your thirst desperately quenches for a sip of iced cold water to relieve you for just a little bit. You don’t always see the purpose of it, like my prone to wandering thoughts while I was working on the ranch. You don’t necessarily always enjoy it, like wishing I was spending my Saturday laying out by a pool or getting my nails done instead of stepping out of my comfort zone in the tiny little town called George, Texas all to simply clear my name with the law. In a time of singleness in life, we don’t always know what God is doing.  Therefore, we question and doubt and allow our thoughts to wander astray. Am I still worthy of love, will I find someone who cherishes and adores me and wants to share life with me, or will I be in a state of singleness forever and end up alone…

Megan and I finished digging the trench. The sky was full of beautiful colors and the heat had finally subsided into the cool briskness of the evening. As we walked around the entire house admiring our hard work, it felt really good to have worked hard and accomplished something significant. I felt as if the trench, that had seemed absolutely pointless and ridiculous at first, had turned into something beautiful and marvelous like it actually had served a purpose. The owner of the ranch stepped out of the house and raved about our trench. He thanked us for our hard work and proceeded to hand us each a sum of money that would justify my speeding ticket. But then he said something to us that struck a cord in my heart. He looked Megan and I in the eye and said, “Ladies, I would not have been able to do this without your help today. My family has been complaining about the termites in the house for such a long time, so now the chemicals poured into the trench y’all built will ward off the termites so the house will be comfortable and suitable again for the people I love.” Alas, the purpose of digging the trench.  One day, something absolutely astounding and holy and wonderful will result from this time for you, my friend. God is weaving an intricately and deeply beautiful story in your life right in this very moment, in this very second, and there is no reason to wait because the story has already begun. Perseverance, beauty, and true character will be uncovered inside the exhaustion, the discouragement, and the hard times. Within the rock lies the gem of the purpose of singleness.

My extremely wise friend Ellie once told me an analogy about a treasure and a hunter. The hunter is determined to find his treasure and the Lord had given him a map that would lead to it in His perfect timing. However, until the hunter discovers the treasure that his map was leading to, the treasure remains in a box known as “God is enough.”  The treasure does not run around flaunting it’s brightly shining self at the hunter, nor does the treasure taunt the hunter until he finds it. The treasure is content. The treasure is unique and beautiful and knows it’s worth is found in something greater than the sparkly surface level of gold and diamonds. The treasure, my dear friends, knows that it’s worth comes from the value held within.  I asked Ellie, “Wait a second, so who is the treasure?” as Ellie then responded, “Meredith, you are the treasure.” My heart did a little flip flop inside of my chest when I thought of myself as a treasure. A treasure that deserves to be pursued by a hunter whom the Lord will give a map to my heart. But until then, I will trust and believe that God is enough for me and that He is all I need.  And in my treasure box, I am perfectly satisfied in the arms of my Savior. Today and everyday, I will choose to rest in the fact that my value comes from who Jesus says I am, “I am His” (Isaiah 43:1).

Please believe me when I say that you too, beloved, are a valuable treasure (1 Peter 2:9).

Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” (KJV)

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more than a sunset

This weekend, my family and I are soaking up the sun in Galveston, Texas to celebrate my sister’s high school graduation.  I’m not sure exactly when, but at some point between our family vacations to Rosemary Beach in Florida when I was younger and Playa del Carmen in Mexico for my mom’s 50th birthday last Christmas break, I deemed the beach my ultimate favorite spot.  My happy place.  The peaceful and soothing sound of the crashing waves, the feeling of the warm and soft grains of sand crinkling in between your toes, sun-kissed skin and wind blown hair from laying out on the beach and playing in the ocean, ice cold Coca-Cola’s and melting popsicles as an escape from the intense heat.  I am smiling just thinking about it.  I absolutely love the beach.  My absolute favorite thing about the beach though is the way I am reminded of God so beautifully and prominently.

The ocean itself has always painted a picture of the God’s love to me.  You can’t see the bottom of the ocean or the land on the other side from the shore.  You can’t see how far and wide the body of water extends either, as hard as you try.  Just as in Ephesians 3:18, when Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” the ocean is a beautiful and visible image of the unfathomable love of Jesus.  Additionally, the sand reminds me of God’s thoughts about me.  I am always utterly blown away by the sand and how many grains there are.  Think about the last time you went to the beach.  Making a sand castle, burying your little brother in the sand to the point where his entire body is covered (why this is fun for him, I’ll never understand), or washing off your sandy feet in the hose after a long day.  SO MUCH SAND.  It seems never ending to me sometimes.  And then what gets me every time is Psalm 139:17-18, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.”  One of my favorite things about this verse is the use of exclamations from David, almost like the news is too good for him not to scream and shout at the top of his lungs.  I imagine him sprinting down the shore of the beach right where the tides hit the sand, running and jumping for joy, exclaiming, “HE THINKS ABOUT ME MORE THAN THE GRAINS OF SAND!  HE HAS CHOSEN ME AND I AM LOVED!  OH, HAPPY DAY!”  Anyone else picture that when they read that psalms?  Or is it just me?

And then, there are sunsets.  Breathtakingly beautiful and simply stunning every single time.  I am a sunset fanatic no matter where I am- the mountains, Haiti, and especially my favorite little corner of the world in College Station.  They are always amazing to me.  However, there is just something special about sunsets at the beach.  Looking over the horizon, at a vibrantly orange and yellow, subtly pink and purple, hazy sunset peeking above the mystical blue water as if the Lord is saying, “Hey, beautiful child, I painted this for you tonight because I love you more than you will ever know.”  Sunsets are a sweet blessing from the Lord, a sneak peek at what is to come in eternity.  A phenomenal display in the sky of “the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1).”  And all of this changed for me one night while in Mexico with my family.

He doesn’t know this, but something that one of my younger brothers, Josh, said to me in the midst of my depression has stuck with me ever since.  One night in Mexico, I was on the floor leaning up against a wall at our resort, and my sweet brother knew I was feeling down.  The phrase that has stuck with me to this day occurred in the middle of a pep talk of encouragement given by Josh that night.  He was telling me that life was too good to be so upset about, that I was missing out on all of the beauty taking place right in front of my eyes.  Through boyish excitement and childlike faith, my 15 year old brother looked at me with his big brown eyes full of hope and said to me these words with great confidence, “Meredith, I feel like when you see a sunset, all you see is a sunset.  When I see a sunset, I see God’s beautiful creation- it is so beautiful and so much more than a sunset.  But I feel like all you see is a sunset.”  I remember my heart sinking.  I remember wanting to cry my eyes out right then and there.  But because of the numbness I felt deep from within, I kept it to myself.  I said nothing and simply nodded.  But somewhere inside of me, I felt so proud.  Proud to call this little (but not, he is about 6 feet tall) stud of a human my brother.

He doesn’t know this, but what he said truly hit me hard that night.  And it hits me every single time I see the sun setting to rest for the night and come back the next morning for a new day to begin.  It is not just a sunset, it is so much more.

The little blessings we receive day to day are gifts from God.  A hug from a friend, an iced lavender latte, reading a really good book, holding a newborn baby, laughing until you cry, a sunset…these are gifts to be treasured.  And yet they are more than what they merely seem to be, because they were given to us from our Creator who knew these gifts would bring us such simple joy (James 1:17).  That is the God we serve.  Loving and thoughtful and looking out for His beloved children (Psalm 103:8).

Romans 1:20 ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

sunset
Galveston, Texas

Next time you watch the sunset, remember this, it is so much more than what the eye can see.

joshy
I look up to him more than he knows (and I’m not just talking about the height difference 🙂 )

the beauty and the broken heart

Darling beauty, 

If the title of this post struck a cord in you when you read it, I am so glad you are here today in this corner of my heart.  First of all, my heart is breaking for you that you are suffering through a broken heart.  I know you have a pit in your stomach that feels like it will never go away.  Advil doesn’t help like it normally does, taking a nap to refresh your exhaustion doesn’t quite do the trick, and you can’t put a sling or a cast on your heart to relieve the pain or make it feel better for a moment.  All you can do is be still and allow yourself to feel (Psalm 46:10).  Do me a favor, sweet girl.  Don’t suppress your tears or choke back your sobs.  Don’t shove a smile on your face and pretend that everything is right in your world and that everything is fine and dandy.  Don’t turn off every feeling you’ve ever felt to make it hurt less, and forget how to love.  Right now, if you feel that you are about to cry, please cry.  Please turn on that song that brings you back to your heartbreak and snuggle up in a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa and simply melt into a puddle of sadness.  Because guess what, dear child?  It is okay to be sad.  Your Father is hiding you in the shadows of His wings (Psalm 91:4) and collecting all of your tear drops in a bottle in heaven (Psalm 56:8).  He is holding you with both arms open wide waiting for you to run and jump into His arms like in the movies.  The Prince of Peace is awaiting a divine romance with you, beautiful girl.  The most wonderful romance in the entire world (Jude 1:21).  More than the Notebook, more than A Fault in Our Stars, more than Dear John.  This Prince who is holding your fallen glass slipper like Prince Charming, who will ride on a magic carpet for you like Aladdin, who is pleading you to let down your hair like Rapunzel did- except this time not your long locks, but the walls you have built up around you.  Walls that were built when your trust was broken by a human boy.  They were built like a castle tower surrounding your delicate heart that you handed out on a silver platter, beating faster and faster from being in love.  But oh my darling, your delicate heart was dropped.  That precious part of you- the most real, genuine, intimate, and vital organ that keeps you alive- was shattered into tiny bits and pieces.  Like one of those 1,000 piece puzzles that doesn’t make sense and you don’t even know how to begin to put it back together again.  I wish I could swoop in and just give you a hug and let you cry on my shoulder.  I have been in your shoes, love, crying my eyes out until my tear ducts have just about drained the ocean.  The “what-ifs” and the “if-onlys” keeping you wide awake into the misty hours of the morning.  You have thought back again and again on what could have possibly gone wrong and you have wondered what was real and what wasn’t.

Everything seemed perfect, didn’t it?  Was it your fault?  How did you mess it up this time?  Are you even worthy of love?  Now that this person isn’t a part of your life anymore, are you still beautiful and valuable?  What defines you now that they are gone?  Do you even know who you are?

You, darling beauty, are a daughter of the King.  You are called worthy and redeemed.  You are loved by Him, it’s who you are.  You are His (Isaiah 43:1, 1 Peter 2:9).

Go take off the make up that has smeared your beautiful face from your crying.  Gently wash the tear stained mascara away and splash some cold water to refresh you.  I want you to look into the mirror and feel that you belong.  That your place in this hurting world may not be known yet, but it is here.  I know you must feel so lost, broken, and confused.  I’ve been there too.  I’ve been there singing “All Too Well” at the top of my lungs in my car alone while simultaneously feeling my heart twinge inside all over again.  I’ve been there buying myself pretty pink flowers from the grocery store just because.  I’ve been there in the drive-thru at Sonic ordering a chocolate shake with whipped cream and a cherry because chocolate always relieves the pain just for a tad, until the pain moves from your heart to your stomach 🙂 just kidding, but it really does help sometimes.  I’ve been there suppressing my tears and telling everyone that I am doing wonderful, that everything is going “just fine” in the world of Meredith.  But in reality, I felt like I was in the eye of a hurricane.  In the waves amidst a tsunami overtaking everything I knew to be true.  It was in those times, dear child, that my trust was put into action.  My faith was put to test.  Will I trust in the One who can calm the raging sea and move mountains at the sound of His name?  Or will I crumble like a house built upon the sand when something in my life doesn’t go as I’ve planned or so hoped that it would play out?

IT IS OKAY to buy the chocolate shake today.

IT IS OKAY to take a steaming hot bubble bath and let it soak up all of your worries.

IT IS OKAY to call your best friend and cry to her on the phone for an hour.

IT IS OKAY to watch one of those ridiculous (but amazing nonetheless) chick flicks and sob at the happy ever after ending.

IT IS OKAY to buy yourself some flowers today. You deserve it, darling beauty.

I hope you pick out the pinkest, prettiest, most delightful smelling flowers in the bunch and brighten up your room with a little bit of floral joy.  I hope your chocolate shake is the best tasting chocolate shake you have ever had in your life.

All that to say, it is okay.

But tomorrow is a new day, yet again.  A fresh start (Lamentations 3:23).  I pray that tomorrow you wake up with a smile across your face because you know not just in your head, but in your heart, how immensely loved you are (John 15:13).  Sometimes it helps to start out your day feeling really pretty on the outside.  Delicately putting on your makeup- foundation to mascara to lip gloss, doing your hair in the style that makes you feel the most confident, and adorning your outfit with the flawless sundress that makes you want to strut the streets like a model on the runway.  I think the reason why this helps is because it reflects how you view yourself (Psalm 45:11).  I want you to view yourself as beautiful and lovely and captivating and endearing.  I want you to look into the mirror and take a deep breath and swallow your sadness because that was for yesterday.  Yesterday is in the past now.  It is history.  All you are left with is the present moment and what is left in front of you.  Today, you are a royal princess.  I’m not just saying that.  Your Father in heaven is the King of Kings, making YOU a royal and important and beautiful princess.  He wants you just as you are.  He delights in giving you the desires of Your heart (Psalm 37:4).  Desire Him, love, and He will fill you with Himself.  And that will be all you need to survive your heartbreak today (Exodus 14:13).  Every second that your heart starts to ache again, breathe in trust and breathe out hope.  Hope that is found in Jesus alone.  In knowing that there will be a day where heartbreak doesn’t exist.  Cling to this today and allow these words of truth to satisfy the depths of your soul-

2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

I think your broken heart is beautiful because it reveals even more so your desperate need for a Healer.  But there is a little secret I want you to know- lean in close, because you will want to hear this one.  It gets better.

Trust me, it does get better.  Day by day, your good, good Father is mending your beautifully broken heart.  He is gluing together every broken piece, sewing together every thread that has come undone, and patching back the hole that only He can fill with His love.  I pray that you allow Him to be your eyes today if you can’t envision this glorious feeling on your own strength.  I pray that your soul will be satisfied with the fullness of our Redeemer’s unconditional and unfailing love (Romans 8:38-39).  Remember, love, when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Cast your burdens upon Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Love is quite a strange thing.  Being in love with another human can drive us crazy.  Love in a sense can either make us want to sprint a marathon, swim across the ocean, and jump up and down just for the joy of it because we are so childishly happy about life all of a sudden.  Just like that, and our life feels better because this one person is a part of it, and they feel this way about you too.  But love can also do the opposite effect.  It can make you want to crawl into a dark hole and stay there for a few days, or hide out in a cave because the light blinds your eyes.  Love can break you down or build you up in the span of 3 seconds.  In the amount of time it takes to whisper the words, “I love you.”  Why are three words so heavy and weigh so much?  Why do they make us so happy yet have the power to make us sad at the same time?  I don’t have all the answers.  But what I do know is that when these three words are said, you are giving your heart away.  You are at your most vulnerable and fragile state and you are wearing your heart on your sleeve for the world to see.  All you can see in this moment is what is right in front of you, everything beyond that seems to be a blur.

Imagine feeling this way, however, the effect of love never makes you feel sad, only it makes you incredibly happy.  Ridiculously and insanely and joyously thankful to be alive because you are so in love.  You feel like you can grow wings and fly (Isaiah 40:31) and you don’t know what do with yourself because of the extravagant love that you feel inside of your heart.

That is what it feels like to be in love with Jesus.  Simply and purely the best feeling in the world.  Your heart is forever secure and will never be broken again in the arms of your Holy Savior.  On Earth, sure, it may be the object of a game of catch, tossed around, thrown in the air, beaten down, and dropped single handedly.  Let me tell you though, in the arms of Jesus, your fragile and delicate and precious heart is protected.  Like one of those safes where people store their most valuable items, that is how Jesus guards and takes care of your heart, the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).

I hope by reading this letter you feel less alone.  I hope you feel less afraid and maybe a little less anxious.  I’m not worried about you.  I know you will be quite alright.  You are in the same arms as my Jesus.  So believe me, darling, you will be just fine (Zephaniah 3:17).

All my love,

A beauty with a broken heart

VSCO Cam-1

 “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” 

 

 

and then you blink

So here I am.  Lounging in the Starbucks by my house on a beautiful summer day in May, sipping a java chip frappuccino (that I paid half-price for, Starbucks happy hour for the win y’all), listening to the Colbie Caillat radio, wearing my overalls that I live in nowadays, with my sparkly pink painted bare feet (who needs shoes in summer?), and wondering how life gets any better than it is right now.  Looking back on everything that has happened since this time last May, it has been one heck of a year.  Hard decisions that were made, countless tears that were cried, times where I didn’t see how life could go on, or get any worse for that matter.  Dark rooms, rain clouds, cold nights, blank stares back from the girl in the mirror who looked just like me but had not a clue who she was, waking up every single day waiting for it to be the next one.  The sun shined, it didn’t matter.  Something made me want to laugh, I held it back.  Moments of joy would creep back in, I shut them down before they became a thought thinking I didn’t deserve them.  Someone would tell me it was all going to be okay and that God still loved me, I wanted them to trade lives with me to see how I felt- and then tell me it would all be okay.  You know that feeling where you are really hungry but you know you won’t get to eat any food for a long time?  Or that feeling where you are waiting for something to happen- maybe graduation, your wedding, the first day of school, sorority recruitment week- an exciting or nerve-racking event that you are looking forward to?  Or that feeling when you think you have tried every single idea you have in your mind to solve a problem or quandary in your life and then you run out?

The days get longer.  You can almost hear your own breath each minute as you become slowly lost in your thoughts.  The 90 degree Texas heat feels like you are a piece of cookie dough cooking inside of an oven, burning up with no way to escape.  The cool, refreshing feel of the crystal blue water from the swimming pool glistening against your sun kissed skin doesn’t even make you feel better, it doesn’t make you feel less overheated, less overwhelmed, less afraid.  And then comes that day when you are out flat out of options with nothing left to run to.  That feeling came for me the day the Lord set me free from my sickness, the plague overtaking my life like the sticky, black suit that overtook Spiderman in that movie to give him power that turned out just to be darkness.  He was all I had left to turn to, so I did.  And my life has not looked the same since that day.  Every single morning that I wake up to a brand new day, I can’t help but thank Jesus for another day to be alive- and for saving me out of that miserable time in my life.  Flashbacks will come and go.  Scary ones from that time that haunt me in the depths of night or in the passing moments of the day.  Flashbacks of me lying in my bed with the blinds shut and lights off, thinking all hope was lost.  Flashbacks of me driving my car aimlessly trying to find somewhere to go just to escape what I was experiencing in the moment.  Flashbacks of me the night before I was supposed to move back to college, with not a single t-shirt packed, crying on my bed until four in the morning because I was so afraid.  Afraid of what people would think of me, afraid of the relationships that might change, afraid to be fighting this tormenting battle on my own strength.

And here I am.  Moving back to college in two short weeks to start summer school, packing up my life in Dallas and starting anew in College Station.  Except something is different this time around than it was nine long months ago.  This time, dear friends, I am not afraid.  This time I am not afraid of what people will think.  This time I am not afraid of the relationships that might change.  And oh man, I am not the least bit afraid of fighting the battle on my own strength.  There is only one reason that I am not afraid.  All of those things are normal things to be afraid of.  Perhaps you are afraid of them every day.  The one reason, precious ones, that I am not afraid is that the God of angel armies is on my side.  His opinion of me is the only one that matters- and He thinks the world of me, His beautiful daughter whom He calls worthy and redeemed.  He has made the relationships in my life even stronger than they were before, and shown me how incredibly blessed I am by the people who care for me, the people who I thank Jesus for whenever I think of them because they never once left my side.  Most of all, the good Lord has revealed to me in the most extraordinary and beautiful and astounding way that I am in NO way fighting this battle on my own strength.  I have people fighting for me, interceding the devils lies he places in my gullible mind through fervent prayers, and people who encourage me daily to keep seeking Christ.  The number one reason though, that I am not fighting this battle on my own strength, is that the battle is already won.  Y’all, this battle we are fighting every single day was overcome the day Jesus died on the cross for our sins- He fought it for us.

THE VICTORY IS WON! TAKE HEART, LOVE, BECAUSE THE BATTLE YOU ARE TRYING TO FIGHT THIS VERY SECOND HAS ALREADY BEEN FOUGHT FOR. YOU CAN WALK IN FREEDOM IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE IS ON YOUR SIDE- HE LOVES YOU.  HE MADE YOU.  HE WANTS YOUR HEART.  HE WANTS YOU.

Does that not send goose bumps up your spine?! Doesn’t that make you want to dance like a fool in the middle of the street and run up to every single person in the room and give them a hug?  I don’t know about y’all, but right now, I am tempted to stand up on my chair in the Starbucks and shout that phrase that is bolded up above because it is the truth.  The truth from Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

PREACH IT, PAUL.  What refreshing, beautiful, freeing truth to hold on to as we live our lives on this other side of heaven.  This other side of heaven that is our temporary home.  I want to share with you all an analogy that brings tears to my eyes.  I am the oldest daughter in a family of six, my parents and four kids.  I adore my precious family with all of my heart, they are one of the sweetest blessings to me on earth and I am honored to share a last name with each one of those five crazies.  My youngest brother is adopted, he has been a member of my family for almost six years now but I feel like it has been forever.  I can’t picture our lives without him.  He is my baby brother (except he is turning 15 in August, can someone please slow down time?!) and I will love him forever, no matter what.  The hard thing to think about is that before he came to live with my family, he was in foster care.  My brother lived in three different homes before he was adopted.  Home to home, nothing was steady, everything was always changing for my baby brother.  If I could go back to that time of his life and make it all better, help him get through it with me fighting for him every second, I would in a heart beat.  However, my brother Eben is the strongest person I know.  What he has been through in his life has shaped him, stretched him, and transformed him into a young man of God who strives to be more like Jesus and stands up for what he believes in.  He would not be the same Eben McCown he is today had he not gone through the fire primarily- the temporary thunderstorm that ultimately led him to his forever destination.  A home with a family who loves and adores him more than anything and can’t imagine our lives without him for a day.  Guys, that is us.  My baby brother is you and I.  We are here on earth, hopping around from foster home to foster home.  From losing your job, divorce, heartbreak, depression, the death of a loved one to things as small as a failed test grade, gaining weight, or having a bad hair day that makes you wish you were more beautiful like her, or that you had better skin like him, or this and that.  Life isn’t easy.  Whoever told you that life would be a breeze, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not a breeze.  In fact, it is a hurricane.  A thunderstorm that sometimes rains endlessly and you begin to wish for a drought so that it would just stop raining.  You want the sun to rise again and to feel the warm, wind in your hair and sweat dripping from your tropical banana scented sunscreen against your skin.  And yes, the Lord gives good gifts to His children, dear child.  He gave us a book chalk full of His sweet promises to us- all He asks is for us to believe them and accept them as truth.  All those battles and challenges and struggles I mentioned earlier, those aren’t our destiny.  We haven’t reached our final destination, our forever home, our eternity, just yet.  You are here on this earth for a reason.  The reason this earth has hard times that make you want to roll up into a small, tiny little ball and never come out is to remind us that this world is temporary.  John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I don’t know what you are facing today.  What I do know is that a day is coming when there will be no pain, no heartbreak, no tears, no deaths, and no fear.  But we aren’t home yet, love.  While I wish I could wrap you up in a fuzzy blanket and make you a cup of hot tea, and tell you that this too shall pass, you have something even greater and even more satisfying to cling to.  Something that will make you randomly smile at the mere thought of imperishable joy.  Something that will make you want to greet the person next to you in line at the Dollar Store and ask them how their day is going.  Something that will make you want to go to Trader Joe’s and buy your mama the prettiest sunflowers because she deserves them, every mama does 🙂  Something that will make you want to pick up the phone right here and now and call that person to tell them you have forgiven them, and that you forgot.  Something that will make you want to blast that Beyonce song in your car with your windows rolled down and make everyone at the stop light laugh at you because you are singing so passionately.  Something that will allow you to sleep in restful peace at night and wake up with the same burning passion for life you had yesterday.

Jesus.  The name that holds power within five letters to change your life.  That name changed mine.  On my knees in desperation, tears that didn’t seem to stop streaming, my body that didn’t seem to stop shaking, bricks on my shoulders that weighed 100 pounds, and I shouted the name of Jesus.

Mark 4:35-41 “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!

Here I am, yet again.  Sitting in the Starbucks.  Deeply pondering about the mystery of life and the beauty that each day holds that I am blessed to be alive.  Thinking about all that has changed since this time a year ago.  People that I cherished that have come and gone.  Surviving a heartbreak that led me to many sleepless nights and tearful drives to sad songs at night.  Changing my major that was directing me on the path to become a nurse to communications, discovering a passion that I never knew existed in my soul until I started writing this year.  Moving back to College Station, the place that makes my heart leap out of my chest as I drive on Highway 6 blasting the Aggie War Hym without fear of judgment, and I couldn’t be more excited.

All that to say, life goes by fast and it is so precious.  I feel like yesterday I was graduating from high school and starting my freshman year of college, and now I am heading into my junior year, half way through.

Enjoy wherever you are in life.  Even if you are fighting the hardest battle you have ever fought, even if you are currently in the most exciting place of your life, even if you are tired of the mundane, pedestrian lifestyle of waking up and going to work and going home, enjoy it.  Relish it.  Cherish it.  Breathe in and breathe out thankfulness. Pour out love until you have none left because you are loved by the One who will never run out. Look into the mirror and tell yourself that you are quite enough just as you are.

Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Life changes dramatically in the blink of an eye.  A quote that I remind myself of every day is this, “and if not, He is good.”  While you are thinking, if only I can just graduate, if only I can just get married, if only I can just move out and get a job, then my life will begin.  Just remember, precious reader, your life is happening right now.  Right in front of your eyes.

And then you blink.

here are some fun memories from my year in Dallas 🙂

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twenty tomorrow

So I will be twenty tomorrow. A lot of life happens in two decades- elementary school, high school, graduation, leaving home for the first time and going to college, drivers license, heartbreak, friends coming and going, and friends that have stood by your side the entire time. Looking back on the last twenty years of my life and all that the Lord has brought me through and taught me, I am in awe of His goodness and that He is always and forever faithful. I can think of almost every trial and hardship I have been through during my existence on earth and think of how God has used it in my life thus far to bring me closer to Himself than I have ever been before. I wanted to share with y’all twenty tidbits of truth I have gathered in the last twenty years I’ve been living life.

  1. Family is a blessing and a gift from the Lord.
    My family has been the most constant thing in my life since the day I was born. My parents and three younger siblings have been my people since day 1 and I know will continue to be. Take time today to tell your family how much you love them. Family is something that is easy to take for granted, yet one of the most precious gifts the Lord gives us on earth. People who will literally be there for you no matter what because they love you unconditionally.IMG_5596
  2. Trusting in Jesus is the best decision one can make in their entire life.
  3. Committing time to community is the sweetest treasure. People you do life with day to day and people who truly know you. I don’t thank the Lord enough for the community He has blessed me with. Pray for it, seek it out, and value it. You will never regret community.
  4. Coffee is a necessity. Late night studying, early mornings, or long days. Coffee and Jesus, and you are set, my friend.
  5. How important it is to be real and genuine with people. I get so exhausted from trying to fake how I am feeling or lying that I am not struggling with something in life, when in reality I am barely coming up for air. Being authentic in relationships and with yourself is so refreshing and will leave you carrying a much lighter load.
  6. God is always there. When you are in 5th grade crying in the bathroom stall because someone hurt your feelings at school, when you are awkwardly slow dancing with a boy for the first time at one of those 7th grade dances, when you walk across the stage to receive your diploma at high school graduation, when your parents drop you off at college and drive away leaving you there finally on your own, He is there. And He goes before you too. Looking back on the last twenty years, He has not once left my side, even in the midst of my loneliest and darkest memories, I was never alone. (Psalm 139:7-12)
  7. This too shall pass. Dear friends, even when it seems your world may be crashing down, it is not the end of the world. When I didn’t make officer on my drill team, life went on. When I got a double stress fracture in my back during 10th grade and couldn’t dance all year, life went on. Even when I didn’t return to the school of my dreams for my sophomore year of college and stayed at home in Dallas, life still went on. I don’t know what you are going through in this moment, but please remember, this too shall pass because the God we serve is mighty to save and He isn’t going anywhere.
  8. Dance parties make you feel better. I PROMISE. If you are having a bad day today, go to your room, put on your pajamas, grab your hairbrush as your microphone, turn up the volume all the way to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift, and dance your little heart out. You will go to sleep with a smile on your face, seriously. Or maybe this one is just me and you will think I am crazy. I am a firm believer in dance parties.

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    how you will feel after the dance party
  9. Talk to Jesus like He is your best friend, and you will grow closer to Him dramatically. He always wants to talk to you through His word, so talk to Him back. You know that He will be a listening ear when you need Him. (Romans 12:12)
  10. You find out who your friends are. The friends who you can call at 2 a.m. that will drop anything to make sure you are okay. The friends who are willing to drive all the way from college for 3 hours to be there with you at your grandpa’s funeral. The friends who call you once a week when you aren’t there with them at school to ask you questions about your life. The friends who have an extra bed in their room for you to crash in every time you come to town. The friends with whom you can’t imagine your life without. Those friends will be far and few, but you will have them. They are gems to be cherished. Take time today to text or call or write a letter to those friends, because they don’t hear near enough how grateful you are for them. I know mine don’t, but if they are reading this, this is for you: You will never understand how thankful I am to Jesus for you. Thank you for being there for me and always having my back. All of the things I mentioned, I would do the same for you in a heartbeat. I love y’all.
  11. Frappuccino Monday’s are a thing. Monday’s are hard enough because it is the day after the weekend, so why not get a frappuccino. Be careful, however, to not let it become Frappuccino Everyday though, as I tend to do sometimes. That can get dangerous, so let’s stick to Frappuccino Monday. PTL for Starbs fraps, guys.
  12. Being joyful is more fun. It just is. Even in the hardest of times and rough patches of life where all you can think about is being sad, I promise, it is still more fun to have joy. The joy doesn’t come from your circumstances at all, whatsoever. This joy in particular specifically comes from hope in Jesus alone. Hope in the gospel, hope in knowing that we are set free and that it is finished. That in of itself, darling, is quite enough to be your sunshine today even if your world is a thunderstorm.  (James 1:2)
  13. Look for God’s fingerprints in every single day, because they are everywhere. In the smile of the person at the cash register at at Target, in the rain drops, in the tall, powerful, snow topped mountains, in the roaring waves on the beach, in holding a little baby who is brand new to the world. His fingerprints are all over the place, sometimes we have to search for them, but they are always there.
  14. Learning is actually really cool. If you are reading this and in high school, I know it may seem pointless, but trust me, it is not! What you learn will stick with you. Take advantage in your education, and in the fact that some people never have that chance. Education is a beautiful thing. There will always be something new to learn, only God knows everything. Therefore, go learn something new today and take joy in it! It is only boring if you make it 🙂
  15. You should laugh every day. Laughter is proved to trigger endorphins, increase immune cells, and decrease stress hormones. Plus, laughing is really fun. I hope you have one of those laughs today where tears are streaming from your eyes (aka me almost every single time) and you are rolling on the floor because you are laughing so hard and you feel like you got an ab workout after. Those laughs are the best. Don’t take life too seriously. Life can be really funny sometimes.
  16. Crying is so good and so therapeutic.  This may seem contradictory because my last point was about laughing, but y’all, crying does wonders.  Sometimes you have so much bottled up inside and you just need to let it out and allow your tear ducts to do their thing.  Get a pint of ice cream, play a sad song, and just cry.  And then when you don’t have any tears left to cry, go splash some water on your face, shake it off, and move on with your day.  But remember, it is perfectly okay and even healthy to cry if you need to.  Don’t hold back because you will truly feel better.
  17. Trends are perhaps the silliest thing the world has come up with.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Tory Burch flats and my Jon Hart bag that carries absolutely anything, but it is so easy to get caught up in materialism in this generation.  New fads are always coming and going, but they never last too long.  They are actually kind of pointless when you think of all the more important things in life.  But that is just my two cents, if you are a fad follower, you do you.  I think it is kind of fun and thrilling to try and set trends, and if they miserably fail, it still doesn’t matter because all that matters is if you like it!  Bring overalls back 2k16 y’all, I’m going for it 🙂  easy, comfortable, and cute.  I mean what more can a girl ask for in a clothing statement.
  18. Time with Jesus is so precious.  Life gets so crazy and busy in the blink of an eye and before you know it, you are about to be a junior in college (what?!).  Take time either in the morning when you wake up, in a break during your day, or at night before you go to sleep to spend time with Jesus and read His truth from the book He gave us as a guide on how to live our lives.  My days spent in the Bible whether for 5 minutes or 2 hours are always better than the ones without.  Trust me on this one, I guarantee you the time sacrifice will be well worth it.
  19. Learning a new language is the coolest thing ever.  I began taking Spanish classes in 7th grade and continued to take them through high school and my first two semesters of college.  It is one of the most unique and beautiful things in the whole world to be able to understand and communicate with someone in their own language.  Whether it be Japanese, French, Italian, German, or any other language you are interested in learning, LEARN it.  Take a class and learn because it is never too late to start.  However, it does take time, effort, patience, and dedication.  But hey, learning can be fun too, remember?  (I just realized how nerdy I sound right now…oops)

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    it is what it is
  20. Traveling makes the world seem a whole lot bigger and makes you seem a whole lot smaller.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on mission trips to Haiti my freshman and senior years of high school, and traveling to a third world country truly opened my eyes outside of my own little bubble of my life to see how people live just an ocean away.  I learned how many things in life I take for granted, and also how people are all the same.  We are all humans with the same Jesus, facing the same sins, breathing the same oxygen, trying to navigate our way through this crazy world one day at a time.  We all have people we love and things that make us happy or sad, yet we live such drastically different lives at the same time.  Traveling broadens your horizons in the sense that there is more to life than finding a date to sorority functions and figuring out your Friday night plans.  The coolest thing to me was worshipping God at a church in Haiti in a completely different language.  I knew what the songs were saying because of the tunes, but had no idea if I was pronouncing the words right when I sang them- but that didn’t even matter.  What mattered was that here were a group of people in completely different worlds, coming together to worship the very same Jesus who died for them on a cross and rose again for them all.  There are no barriers when it comes to the truth and freedom found in the gospel, even language.IMG_7759.JPGWhen it all comes down to it, precious friends, life is one big adventure.  Through my twenty years of life thus far, I have seen the beauty of waking up to a brand new day and taking it on as a sweet gift from the Lord that He has allowed me to live another day.  One more day to be with the people I love, to laugh really hard, to drink a wonderful cup of iced coffee, to learn something brand new, to explore a new city, to read my Bible, to dance crazily with my best friends, to hear someones story, to love deeply, dream bigger than you can imagine, and forgive frequently.  Life isn’t meant to be a breeze.  John 16:33 makes that quite clear.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  However, there is truth to be found in John 10:10 as well.  “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Life is crazy, wild, insane, and dramatic.  But OH what a glorious adventure it is to know you are never walking through life alone, that we have the God of the entire universe by our side.  This quote about sums this up:

“What is life but one grand adventure.”

There you have it, friends.  I hope you enjoyed these twenty tidbits of truth I have picked up along my adventure.  The Lord has tremendously blessed me in allowing my heart to beat for 7,300 days, and He has taught me a multitude of things throughout each one.  Through every up and down, every highlighted moment and every tear I have cried, every conversation and every person He has brought into my life along the way, He has been faithful.  And I trust that my God will continue to be faithful for the next twenty years and beyond.  I pray for you today, dear one, that you will rest in the knowledge that you are not alone.  You have a Savior who longs for you, who desires to be with you, who thinks about you more than the grains of sand on the beach (Psalm 139:18). He knows you by name and calls you His adopted child (Ephesians 1:5).  Today is an adventure, cherish each moment because you won’t ever get today back.  This verse has become one of my absolute favorite truths to cling to lately, Habakuk 1:5-

“Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.”

I pray that today, April 30th, 2016, you will walk in that knowledge and allow Him to guide you with every breath you take.