a letter to my freshman self

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Dear Meredith,

You graduated high school and you are starting college at Texas A&M University in three short months. You’re packing up to move into a new dorm in College Station where new adventures, new memories, new people await.

When you graduated from high school and walked the stage, you thought you knew. But you didn’t. You didn’t know.

You’re anxious about leaving home, not knowing what it will be like to live three hours away from your family. You’re excited for what is to come, and sad for what is to leave behind.

You’ll watch your family as they drive away, leaving you to start a clean slate as a college freshman. A wave of loneliness, fear, and excitement will wash over you.

You feel like an adult being 18, like the world is in your hands. You’ll want to fit in, in any way you can.

Join a sorority, check.

Make friends, check.

Try to be social while also trying to make good grades while also trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, check.

Drink lots of coffee and energy drinks late at night to keep studying, check.

You will try to impress people with titles, talents, and intelligence. You’re going to put a lot of your worth in what they think of you.

You’ll have nights where everything feels right, and nights where everything feels like it’s falling apart.

You will experience deep sadness and immense joy.

You will meet people who will become lifelong friends, and wonder how you’ve gone your whole life up until now without knowing them.

Four years will go by quickly. At points you’ll wish time would hurry up, at times you’ll wish it would slow down.

Four years later, you’ll look back and see one constant thing.

Through all the change and emotions and late nights and early mornings and tears and laughter, you will see God.

Holding you. Reminding you that you aren’t alone. Wiping the tears from your eyes. Telling you time and time and time again that He loves you, that His opinion of you is the only one that matters.

You’ll notice Him in those nights in the library by yourself with a Starbucks in hand, sitting by you giving you energy and strength.

You’ll see Him on the couch of your house at home. Sprained ankle, broken heart, sleepless eyes, wondering if life would get better, easier soon. He will be there. Sitting beside you, hugging you tightly. Letting you cry, and telling you it will get better.

You’ll find Him when you’re running, when you forget about your worries and embrace the moments. Listening to music, letting your mind roam free.

Meredith, look for Him in people. He will reveal Himself to you through the people He places along your journey. Some will be there at the beginning, but not at the end. Some will be there at the end, but weren’t in the beginning. Some will be there the whole time.

But no matter what, each person will have a purpose, just as you do in their lives. Remember that. Sometimes people leave, sometimes they stay- but He will never leave.

You’re going to have really good days where the sky is blue and the grass is green. You’ll have days that you feel like you’re flying. He’ll celebrate with you.

You’ll have days that are really bad, where you cry a lot and your mascara smears. You’ll desperately cry out to God, not knowing where else to go. He’ll listen.

You’ll have in-between days, that aren’t good or bad, but normal. Where you wake up, live life, and thank God along the way for what He’s given you, and go to sleep.

Four years later, you’ll look back and see your freshman self. Naive to the world around her, innocent to the hard things in life, yearning for love, to love, to be loved.

Big, brown eyes that will crave for more, a pounding heart and wandering soul that won’t be satisfied with what’s in front of her.

During these four years, darling, you’ll realize you weren’t made for this world, but something much greater.

But right now, it feels like everything.

The dark times in these years will feel like storms where you can barely breathe. It will feel like you’re stranded on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean, dark skies, struggling to stay afloat.

Looking back, you will see Jesus walking on the water to rescue you. Calling your name, “Meredith, Meredith,” but you won’t hear. The waves will be too loud, the sounds of the storm and the lies filling your ears.

But when you finally look up and see Him there, you’ll realize that He was there the whole time. Fighting for you every second of every day. You’ll be brought to your knees. He will kneel too, until you’re ready to stand.

Four years later, you will realize you wouldn’t be the woman you are today without those times. That indeed, in the times you were weak, God’s strength shined through.

You’ll have times where you sprint in the other direction from His love. Letting yourself be blown in the wind like a tumbleweed, tossed this way and that way.

God will catch you. Every time, He will catch you.

Here you are, about to graduate college and walk the stage for a second time, embarking on the next adventure. You think you know, but you really don’t.

Someday, you’ll get to a place that when you were younger, you thought you’d finally know.

Perhaps you imagine yourself sitting in a rocking chair, sipping a cup of tea with your husband of however any many years reminiscing on the good ol’ days, but I don’t think you’ll know then either.

I think that’s the point, the root of it all. The point is that we’re not supposed to know.

We’re supposed to take one day at a time, remind those we love that we love them and never let them forget.

Laugh really hard, work the hardest that you can, do our best. Give ourselves grace. Accept God’s grace when we stumble and fall, and do it again the next day.

Each day remembering that our home is not in this world, that home is in eternity. But making the most out of this beautiful, tragic, wonderful, crazy life that we’re living.

I think that’s the point, darling. We’re not supposed to know all the answers.

We’re not supposed to know why heartbreak hurts so bad or love feels so good. Or why we just wanted to be accepted and loved, why humans long for something more.

When you are afraid, or feeling lonely at times during these next four years, remember this:

Matthew 28:20 “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Never forget Whose you are. Always remember that grace abounds, that there is always tomorrow.

Dance a lot. Cherish the people by your side. Live in the moments and breathe in the air.

Work really hard, it will make you feel proud. But don’t do it for people, do it for the glory of God.

It’s okay to laugh if you are really happy, or cry if you are sad. It’s okay to feel confused, and it is okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to not understand.

Four years fly by before you know it. Your life will change all around you, you will change.

God won’t. He will be your Rock, your Foundation, your Shelter, your Healer. Run to Him, and tell others of His unconditional love for them too, of the freedom that comes with the hope of believing.

Take a deep breath. You’re going to make it, you’re going to graduate.

It’s not the beginning or the end that you’ll remember the most. It’s the in-between, spontaneous nights with your roommates at 1 a.m., or staying up late at a coffee shop writing a paper, screaming your lungs out at a football game because that’s what Aggies do. It’s the singing songs of praise at church that bring tears to your eyes, falling in love with Jesus more and more every day you are alive, that will stick with you.

One day, maybe all of it will make sense. Maybe all of the bits and pieces will fall into place and you’ll realize why that thing happened or that thing didn’t.

But for now, roll the windows down, turn up the music, and enjoy the ride.

You’ll blink.

Love, Meredith

 

 

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the glimmer

Droplets of rain on the pavement outside

Under the street light glow

Glimmering like a sparkling night sky

With answers we long to know

A sheet of glass sits between us

Although the water seems close enough to touch

Reflected in a window as wandering eyes look with lust

To feel and know love, to understand how much

He loves us, we know He does

But the desire is too deep, too strong

For a passion inside our souls, to comprehend what it was

Inside the intricate mystery of unknowns, where worries belong

The rain subsides, as droplets keep trickling down

And in the silence, I hear the faint whisper of my Jesus saying

My daughter, one day you’ll wear a crown

The weights of the world are many, broken hearts like flowers fading

But today you have a glimmer

To keep you from the wishing, wanting, waiting

In moments when you find yourself, where the sun’s a little dimmer

Darling, look for the light and it is Me you’ll find, when your hope is draining

And when the droplets become your tears

Believe that I’m enough, this you know to be true

My daughter, when your mind is filled with fears

Remember I love you

okay

It’s been a while since I’ve visited this little corner of my world. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what I am going to write about right now. This has been a struggle lately, sort of like a writer’s block, but more than that.

Even more so than a writer’s block, I think it could perhaps be that I don’t know what to say. This is my last semester as a student at Texas A&M University. A place that has taught me, shaped me, changed me, challenged me, and transformed me into the woman I am today. However, also a place where I have felt crushed, discouraged, lost, rejected, and heartbroken. The good times, the hard times, it has all helped me to find who I am, to discover my true identity that has only pointed back to one thing.

Right now, I feel ready to graduate. I am absolutely thrilled to enter the next stage of life and start an adventure. I can’t wait to be completely out of my comfort zone and thrown into brand new situations. In a way, I feel as if I am simply waiting. Going to work, going to class, going through the motions of each day until I can start this new journey.

A time of life where things don’t really change, most things stay the same. I feel as if most days look similar to others and I feel a little restless.

It’s hard for me to sit still sometimes, and be present in the quiet moments.

Here’s the thing, love. I’m learning that this is the point.

God is showing me that no matter where you are in life, or what you are doing, or how glamorous your life may be at the moment, that it isn’t the “big” things that make life extraordinary. It’s the minute, tiny, minuscule moments of every single living, breathing day.

The wonderful smell of a fresh pot of coffee when you wake up in the morning to a new day to be alive. A spontaneous trip to the movie theater with your roommates late at night. Finding a new flavor of ice cream at the grocery store that you love. A call from someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Discovering a new song that becomes your new windows-rolled-down-in-the-car jam. Smiling at a stranger and them smiling back at you. Holding the door open for someone. Going on a nice, long run.

Life is always about these little moments. The different, creative and crazy ways that the Lord reveals His immeasurable, divine love to us.

The moments he reminds us that we’re okay.

We don’t have to be doing “great,” or feel swept off our feet, or over the moon happy for life to be good. Life can be good when we are okay.

There is something powerfully healing when you realize that even in the most painful of times, that you will eventually be okay. Losing someone close to your heart, getting rejected from a job you desired, going through a difficult break up, feeling far away from yourself. I believe that even in those times, our good Father gives us moments that remind us that we will be okay.

At church last Sunday, He gave me one of those moments.

My life is currently not in a season of crushing tragedy or heartbreak, or a season of everything going right. But instead, I am in a waiting season. Waiting to apply to jobs, waiting to find out where God will lead me next, waiting to graduate college.

And sometimes it leaves me feeling empty, like something is missing, a part of me left unfulfilled.

Walking into my church Sunday night, I felt these things and they began to pile up. The lyrics to this song brought tears to my eyes and my knees to the floor in wonder and awe of my Savior.
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

It was almost as if He was saying, “Meredith, surrender your plans to me. I have it figured out. I know what is best for you and I love you. You are not alone, you will never be alone. I know what you need always, so if you feel you are missing something, that thing isn’t what you need right now. I have you, my daughter. Trust me.”

When someone asks you how you are doing, and you say, “Okay,” that is not a bad thing.

It is perfectly okay to just be okay. It’s those times in life where He reminds us of our need for Him the most. It’s the mundane, ordinary, routine days of life where God reminds us of the intricate beauty He has thoughtfully woven into every aspect of our lives, some that we don’t even realize.

One of my favorite quotes that is framed on my wall says this and I couldn’t have said it better:

“Not to spoil the ending, but everything is going to be okay.”

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pause

This is where I feel at home. Right here, away from the rest of the world with coffee in hand and words on my mind. It has been a while since I’ve been able to sit and be still. There is always something more to do, someone to call, something to check off my on-going to-do list that never seems to end.

I’ve realized it’s okay to just stop sometimes. I’m not necessarily saying you should skip work on Monday because you could use a break or that you shouldn’t do your assignment because you don’t feel like it, thats not the kind of stop I have in mind.

This stop is different. Consider it more of a pause, a step back to look at the world around you. Life moves faster than we can keep up with most of the time. Darling, look around you.

Last weekend, I went the homecoming game at the high school I went to. My brothers go to the high school and I happened to be in town that weekend. Standing on the football field after the game to take pictures for them, I laughed out loud at how crazy life is. It seems like yesterday that I was dressed up in my sparkly drill team uniform doing high kicks on that exact same field, eyes wide and heart open, dreaming of life after my red lipstick dancing days. What I would be when I grew up, the kind of person I would become, where God would lead my footsteps.

And as I stood there, I began to think about life since then. Going off to college as a freshman, not knowing a lot about the world outside of my hometown except that it held a lot of unknowns. Completely oblivious to the fact that these next four years would shape who I would become someday. I had no idea the people that I would meet, the memories I would make, the struggles I would face.

The pain of death to someone I admired, my grandpa and my hero, and now I miss his laugh everyday. There was the kind of love that swept me off my feet and the following heartbreak that scattered my heart into a million pieces, wondering how to make sense of that part of myself again. I walked through the darkness of depression and experienced the Lord’s power to heal. I felt the brokenness of sin in my life and received grace time and time again that I didn’t deserve. I’ve seen the constant sacrifice of friendship. The people who are there, no matter what. I fell deeply and madly in love with my Savior. I’ve experienced freedom and joy that I didn’t know was possible. I’ve learned to stop planning out my life. Somehow it always works out, even if it wasn’t my plan. To pray on my knees and open my hands. To let go of control.

One thing in my life stayed the same. I never walked through anything alone.

Pause.

Tears fill my eyes as I reflect on God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. His deep love that I still can’t comprehend. The way He chases after my soul and reminds me that He is enough.

As I stood on the field, a senior in college, four years older than when I last stood on that field. Different perspective, same wide eyed and open hearted girl. Uncharted waters in the year ahead.

I often wonder what will happen in the next four years. If so much happened in the last four years, I can’t imagine what will happen in the next. But there is no reason to fear.

Dear friend, when you take a step back and look around, you will see it too. How all the tiny bits and pieces of your life, while they may not make sense at the time or even now, fit together to make a beautiful piece of art.

What once felt like shattered glass can eventually feel like the sun shining through colorful, radiant windows in a chapel. The silver lining amongst the dark clouds.

You can press play again in a moment, but for now, pause. Let this truth sink in, remember what the Lord has done in your life up until now. What He is doing now, the things you are thankful for and the things you don’t understand.

Until we reach the place we were created to be with the One who created us, my friend, remember that life is beautiful. Not the kind of beautiful that is always perfect and put together, the messy, shambly kind of beautiful. The kind that brings us to our knees and then reminds us who we are. How small we are, how big our God is.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

 

 

a romantic pursuit

The first sip of an iced soy White Rocker from White Rock Coffee in Dallas, TX is one of my favorite things in the world. It sounds silly, I know. I mean who finds that much joy in a simple little beverage, right? But it is true. I love it. The taste of espresso, white chocolate, soy milk all mixed together to make the perfect combination the second it reaches my taste buds. 10/10 recommend.

I LOVE sunsets. Every time I look up at the sky painted yellow, stroked with colors of orange, lightly brushed with hints of pink, my soul can’t help but rejoice. A sunset never ceases to make me smile and be thankful to be alive in this crazy and beautiful life.

Laughter. My favorite activity and way to burn calories (I mean if it’s a good laugh, that can be considered kind of an ab-workout, right? Maybe?). WHO DOESN’T LOVE TO LAUGH. I think people need to laugh every single day. It’s good for you and it’s fun.

I’m obsessed with people. I love talking to people and hearing their stories and adventures and dreams. I love knowing little details and facts about people that make them unique and different than anyone else. I love spending time with friends who know me better than I know myself because it is freeing, and meeting people who don’t know a single thing about me because it is refreshing.

Darling, I want to let you in on a secret that could change the way you look at things now.

Raise your hand if you have a desire to be in love. To be pursued, to be sought after, to have someone who knows everything about you, from the the weird little quirks to the things you love, to be told that you are beautiful, captivating, intriguing, lovely. This desire is rooted and strewn into the precious heart of every woman, it is the creative and wonderful way the Lord made us.

Last week, my family and I went to a lake to spend time together as a family. We rented a house on Lake Palestine in Chandler and literally did nothing all week, and it was the best thing ever. By nothing, I mean floating in the lake, laying out in the sun, riding around in the jet ski around, and just sitting. Being still, being together. One morning, I walked outside with my Bible and my journal to hang out with Jesus near the lake. Suddenly as I was sitting in a comfy chair overlooking the view, thinking, praying, I realized something. As I sat there, I could almost feel the Lord whispering in my ear, “Meredith, I love you.” My heart was full to the brim with peace, I felt as if I had reached a whole new level of contentment. In that moment, He was enough. I had everything I ever needed because He loves me, He really loves me. Not like that flower in “The Little Mermaid” where she picks off each petal and wonders if her prince loves her, “He loves me, he loves me not.” No, dear one, not like that at all. It is real. The ultimate pursuit. A divine romance.

And I love Him.

I was reading Psalm 103 and came upon this verse (11) that captivated my heart, “For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” I don’t know exactly where Heaven is. You can’t look it up on Google maps or ask Siri to show you the location, you must have faith that it’s there somewhere. But from my understanding, the earth and Heaven are pretty far apart, perhaps you could even say the distance is infinite. And this verse tells us that His love is equivalent to that distance, so just like the math equation, one equals the other. God’s love never ends.

DOES THAT SEND CHILLS DOWN YOUR SPINE AND MAKE YOUR HEART BEAT FASTER? As I write this blog post right now in this very second, I can’t stop smiling. “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers is playing in the background and I want to get up and dance in the middle of the coffee shop. I have that fluttery, butterflies in your stomach feeling, the kind where you come home swooning like a princess and gently fall on your bed as if you were flying, wondering how this feeling can be possible. The feeling of being in love, and knowing that He feels the same way about you.

In the morning when I wake up, throughout the day, at night when I go to sleep, I know that the Lord is romancing me in ways that He knows I will feel His love. Reading a verse that I absolutely need to hear, listening to my favorite song on the way to work, having an encouraging conversation with a friend, sitting down for dinner with my family, moments of laughter where I can’t breathe and tears are rolling down my cheeks. Just like the little things I mentioned at the beginning, these are times that I feel His presence.

Times that I feel known because He knows me better than anyone. Times that I feel captivating because He never ceases to pursue me and draw me nearer to Him. Times that I feel wanted because my Lord has placed a longing for eternity in my soul until the day He calls me home, to be with Him forever. Times that I feel deeply, wholeheartedly, infinitely loved because He loves me. And that love will never go away.

“I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening. I am here, and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”  Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This quote isn’t necessarily a quote about Jesus, but these words speak to my soul. I experienced a moment like this in Chile this summer. We were at a beach surrounded by cliffs and huge rocks. The ocean roared as the waves crashed onto the shore, as if they had been told to. The sky was bright blue and the sun shined boldly. It was almost as if we were hidden from the rest of the world, amidst a breath-taking discovery that most people don’t know exists, shielded by a place that was ours. I hurriedly threw off my shoes and sprinted to the tide splashing onto the sand that was sinking beneath my toes. As I was standing in the water with wind blowing in my hair and my arms lifted to the sky, freedom filled my eyes, joy echoed through my dancing, and all I could do was look to the sky and gaze in awe.

His fingerprints are everywhere. God’s love surrounds us in the little things and the big things every single day. Through moments, people, words, iced coffee, rain drops, snuggles on the couch with fluffy pillows and twinkly lights.

Isaiah 43:1, 4 “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine…Because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”

When you truly realize this and believe these words to the core of your soul, darling child of God, I promise you, you’ll be infinite.

 

 

 

heart to heart || Chile

Hi there! I am currently sitting in my apartment overlooking the city of Santiago, Chile and drinking a cup of coffee that I bought from the little market across the street. So tonight, I felt the need to write because writing is how I process the never-ending current of thoughts flowing through my mind, but I wanted to do something a little different tonight.

I want to pretend that we are having a heart to heart conversation right now, as if you and I are sipping coffee together and discussing life and everything under the sun and laughing at the craziness of it all. 

So hello, my dear friend. I hope that you had a moment today where you laughed so hard that you cried and a moment that made you sit back and smile. I have a few stories that I want to share with you from the past weekend and some things that have been on my mind lately.

My first story starts with a twisted road up a mountain and a pair of skis. A small group of us took a trip to Valle Nevado on Saturday to go skiing in the Andes Mountains for the day. Bundled up head to toe in our gear, we climbed into a van full of strangers for the next hour and half journey to reach the top of the mountain. However, there were a few people from England, Scotland and Belgium on our van, who we soon befriended and chatted with for the remainder of the drive. One of my favorite things is meeting people from other places with completely different lifestyles and cultures, yet to be reminded that people, regardless of where they are from, are just people- what a beautiful thing to realize. Once we arrived to the mountain, we could hardly contain our excitement as we rode the ski lift to hit our first slope that we had so anxiously been awaiting. If you have ever been skiing before, you will know what I am talking about when I ask you this. You know that feeling that you get, mid-mountain, with skis gliding flawlessly along the freshly powered snow, a view of pure majesty encompassing your surroundings, and an overwhelming sense of freedom that makes your jaw drop in awe? I am honestly getting chills just thinking about it!

If you know me, one thing is without a doubt true that I reluctantly admit because of pride. Directions. I am the worst at following them. I mean the kind of directions like when you are trying to follow a map (major s/o to Google Maps), not the kind when you are trying to listen listening to an instruction (even though sometimes I am lacking in this area too…but that is a story for another day, my friend). I promise this has a point. Before skiing down the run we had previously chosen, our group decided to meet at a lift near the bottom of the mountain. Midway down the slope, I felt like Waldo in one of those pictures where he is hidden so well, that you soon begin to doubt he is even in there. I decided I had two options. One, go sit in a coffee shop and cry away my worries because getting lost makes me nervous and I hate being alone. Or two, go have the time of my life skiing in the Andes Mountains by myself and seize the moment.

After spending ten minutes trying to wade through snow because I kept falling almost knee deep and was starting to get stares from the onlookers (true story), I hopped on another ski lift and asked the girl next to me if she knew other good routes to take on the mountain, explaining to her that I was lost from my friends. I found out her name is Claudia and her dad, who was on the ski lift as well, Gonzalo. She told me how she hopes to be fluent in English and I told her how I hope to be fluent in Spanish, so we decided to help each other with words we didn’t understand. She invited me to ski with her and her dad down the mountain to meet her mom and boyfriend for coffee. We sat at this little café and talked about life in Chile, politics in the United States, their family, school, work and enjoyed the company of new friends. When we got back to the slopes, I ran into my group again and joined them for the day. But I learned a valuable lesson that day from facing my fear of being alone that will carry on into the rest of my life.

Sometimes getting lost isn’t so lonely, and you may be surprised when you are unexpectedly found. 

My second story is another one of my favorite memories looking back on this trip. On Sunday morning, a few friends and I hopped on a bus to go to a missionary church here in Santiago. Once we finally found it, we realized we were an hour and half early. Hoping to find a place to eat, we walked around the neighborhood and stumbled upon a little café, which happened to be the cutest place in the world. I love how in life, you can search for the best places to go on Yelp or Trip Advisor, find the location on Google Maps, and have a whole plan mapped out. Yet somehow, I have found that the most cherished moments are the ones that are unplanned. The ones that are spontaneous and catch you off guard.

We didn’t know anyone when we stepped into the church that day. It was one of those unique times that you feel the presence of the Lord in the room because of the radiant joy and passion overflowing from the people. One by one each person came up to us to give us a warm welcome. Some asked for our names and genuinely wanted to know our story, where we were from, why we are here in Chile. While a lady was on stage greeting everyone as the service started, she asked us to introduce ourselves in front of the church (sounds dramatic I know, but there weren’t too many people there- Chile v. Australia fútbol game was the same time as church 🙂 ).

There is something profoundly beautiful about worshipping Jesus in a different language. I always think about how people all over the world are praising His name in the way that they know how, and all for the same reason. To vibrantly express the bubbling over love for Jesus that we have inside of our hearts and to celebrate the immense, unconditional, incomparable love that He has for us. To jump up and down because of the truth that sets us free, and to sing at the top of our lungs for the grace we do not deserve and the eternal life that we eagerly await until the day we are called home. Something about singing to my Savior, “Tu gracia cautivó mi corazón, tu espiritu me guia a la verdad, tu amor no fallará,” that makes me take a step back in wonder. What a glorious and amazing God we serve that no matter where they are in the world, believers can gather together and share in One hope.

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.”

Dear friend, thank you for hanging with me tonight! I hope you enjoyed these little anecdotes and life thoughts and analogies. Lately, the Lord has constantly been reminding me that He is enough. To cease striving, let go of the reigns and enjoy the ride.

Ciao from Chile!

Love, Meredith

rush hour

I’ve never lived in the middle of a big city until this summer. Falling asleep to the subtle roar of cars driving at night, waking up to the sun peeking through the windows to begin the new day, and simply living life from the 6th floor of an apartment building in the constantly buzzing city of Santiago, Chile. Sometimes life moves so fast that I forget about the silence.

Have you ever experienced a moment in life where words wouldn’t do justice? Those moments where you have no words, the ones that leave you speechless. Darling, I have realized this is something I too often forget. I love words. I love coming up with different ways to say things or learning a new word and the meaning behind it. But I have realized these past few weeks that sometimes, there are no words.

In the world we live in today, there lies an eager yearning to know all the answers. Why do things happen as they do, bad and good? Why does God allow people to suffer if He claims to be good? Why do people we love get taken from us on this earth much too soon? 

And then, the moments of silence.

The questions with answers to which we have no words.

The times I am on my knees praying this prayer:

Matthew 26:39 “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

I wish I knew. I wish I could sit here and tell you why. I wish I could tell you the answers to these questions. However, if I did know all of these answers, then would God still be God? Sovereign, all knowing, all mighty, omnipotent, eternal. Would these things still describe Him, if we knew all that He did?

The other night I was sitting on the balcony outside of my apartment to catch a fresh breath of air. The sky was extravagantly painted with orange, pink and golden coloured streaks embedded in the clouds. The tall buildings surrounding me and snow capped mountains standing majestically in the horizon suddenly made me feel small and insignificant in a giant world, full of unanswered questions. A thousand different thoughts were flying through my head faster than I could keep up with. I was listening to a song called “Fullness” by Elevation Worship. One of the verses in the song says this:

Now the world awaits Your presence

And this power is within us

We will rise to be Your witness

Spirit come, Spirit come

This world is full of sounds all around us clouding our hearing, full of lights blinding our eyes and blocking our vision. It is easy to get lost in translation, to become angry when we don’t know why things happen the way they do. And why God allows people to suffer if He claims to be good. And why people we love get taken from us on this earth much too soon.

Dear one, if you were to look me in the eye right now as I write this post, you would see brown eyes filled with tears and emptiness. Because I don’t know.

I don’t know why.

This is what I do know.

I know that God is good.

I know that He is always good.

I know for a fact that no matter what, He is faithful.

I know that He keeps His promises.

I know that His love never fails.

I know that He can be trusted.

Remember that sometimes the silence is more powerful than a thousand words. In quietness and in trust shall be your strength (Isaiah 30:15). Dear child, tune out the sounds, be still and know (Psalm 46:10).

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”

Let us hold fast to the truth. May we cling to the life vest of hope when a flood overcomes the sinking boat. I pray that you will build your house upon a rock, for when strong winds come.

In the midst of the rush hour, listen for Him above the noise. Look for Him through the blinding lights.

Within the unknown is the beauty of certainty.

hindsight

So I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, thinking, reflecting, wondering. Thinking about the past year, how so much has happened and time feels as if it flew by. Reflecting on the things the Lord has taught me through different situations and circumstances, and thanking Him for His steadfastness and unfailing love. Wondering what the future holds, where the adventures of this summer will take me and where I will be a year from now, what will I be reflecting on then.

If I could describe in one word where I am now from where I have been, the best word I can think to encapsulate all that it was and what has become is healing. Kind of like the healing you experience when you scrape your knee and get a small cut in return, so you stick on a bandaid on top, but it still doesn’t quite do the trick. It still hurts sometimes and isn’t completely better just yet. I have learned that the reason for that, dear one, is because you must give it time to heal. Not overnight, not in a week, not even in a month. Time has no limits to the healing that can occur, and neither does Jesus.

He means what he says in that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and our ways aren’t His ways (Isaiah 55:8). I believe my Savior when He tells me that He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Beautiful child, I trust my God wholeheartedly when He whispers in my ear to be still and know (Psalm 46:10).

As I drove home from College Station after another year, I saw more than just backroads and open fields of grass in my rearview mirror. Darling, I saw people. People I didn’t know a year ago and now call my best friends, people who inspire me to pursue my dreams, people who build me up when I fall down, people who relentlessly love without conditions, people who wear a smile on their face when the world gives them no reason to, yet they have an eternal hope that reaches far beyond the measures of this temporary home. When I looked in my rearview, I saw loneliness. Multiple Saturday nights spent at coffee shops around that little town, with a wide eyed girl sipping on a latte and dreaming about all that is to come, but pouring out her thoughts through words, the best way she knows how.  I saw community. Something I have deemed absolutely essential in any walk of life, friends to do life with who celebrate each other when all is well and help each other up when one falls down. Friends who know the best and worst parts of you and love you anyway. This community is rare, my friend, but hold onto it tight, because these people will be precious jewels. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw laughter. Laughter when everything is right and laughter when everything is wrong. Beloved, if anything from reading this blog post, know that everyday provides a time to laugh, and seize those moments. And oh dear one, when I looked in that mirror, I saw footprints. Footprints, however, that were not my own. Footprints that are much larger than my own, and that carried me through the entire way. Lord, thank You for lifting me on Your shoulders in a crowd of people and places and chaos screaming in my ear things about myself and about You that I know are not true, and showing me that there is more than what is right in front of my vision. He carried me above the water so I would realize that this world is not all there is. There is much more to live for than what merely meets the eye.

Around this time last year, I started writing in a pink journal with gold writing on the front that reads, “It’s A Beautiful Day.” I started an ongoing list titled Reasons I’m Happy to be Alive. Looking back and reading them is one of my favorite things, to reminisce on sweet and cherished memories in my mind. I want to share a few of them with you.

  • Early morning coffee dates
  • Long road trips
  • Driving with your windows and sunroof down in the summertime playing country music on full blast
  • A really good workout where you sweat a lot
  • Facing a fear 
  • Bright yellow walls
  • “Just thinking about you” texts
  • Getting a package in the mail
  • Playing guitar
  • The buzz of the fan at night
  • S’mores by a fire
  • Speaking Spanish
  • That cleansing feeling you get after a good, long cry
  • Singing High School Musical with wooden spoons as microphones
  • Dancing on parking garage rooftops
  • Dressing up and wearing lipstick and feeling beautiful
  • The drive home to Dallas
  • Hard work that pays off
  • Night time flights and unknown adventures
  • My family at the dinner table
  • Hour long phone calls with friends to catch up and talk about everything under the sun
  • When you have a great idea and it feels like a light bulb above your head
  • Laughing really hard about nothing with my roommates
  • Getting in bed early
  • Breathing in grace and breathing out redemption
  • Getting to know someone well
  • Having a really shambly day and remembering that tomorrow is a new one
  • Frozen pizza 
  • Watching a sunset and feeling small

Maybe you can relate to a few, or perhaps you have some of your own. All that to say, beauty abounds in thankfulness, in counting blessings instead of things lacking, in viewing each and every day as another opportunity to be alive and to exist for a purpose greater than we can imagine.

Love, you may be looking forward and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next big thing. The moment where your life will change because of this thing and everything else will magically fall into place. But when you look in hindsight, you will see the bigger picture, where all of the little glass pieces of the mosaic of your life fall into place to make something astounding. It is the moments, the breaths you breathe, the steps you take, the people you meet that put together the pieces of the in between.

And then suddenly you realize, that “perhaps you were born for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

embrace

Slow down, darling. You are missing it. Look around you. Take a deep breath, and look around you.

He has made this day for you to live, so why are you worrying about tomorrow?

Jesus Christ, your Savior and lover of Your soul, is telling you, dear one, that you are enough, so why do you believe that you are not?

You woke up this morning with new breath in your lungs and your heart still beating, so why are you ungrateful for the things He has given you?

Oh love, the Maker of the universe knows the very number of hairs that are on your head, and He thinks about you more than the grains of sand on the shore, so why do you compare your life to another?

I have come to find that the times I hear the Lord the most clearly are the times in the quiet place and the stillness. Not during the twenty minutes walking to my next class, or in the moments throughout the day when my mind constantly contemplates my to do list and all that awaits.

Beloved, I hear my Lord the loudest in the silence.

When life is playing out in front of our eyes faster than we can physically keep up with, it is easy to slip into the puddle of control. Our innate instinct as human beings is to do things on our own. To ask for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, to allow vulnerability by giving someone a peak into the deepest parts of our hearts can be seen as terrifying, or even dangerous.

Tonight, in a rare and beautiful moment of stillness, God reminded me of my desperate need for Him, and that the reason I have been growing weary and restless and tired is because I have been doing this on my own lately. And by this, I mean life.

Instead of daily surrendering, I have been daily grasping for control. Rather than falling on my knees in weakness, I have been sprinting on the tracks without stopping for water, too full of pride to take a break to walk, and admire the blue, cloudless sky on the way. Driving on a highway going 80 miles per hour with my eyes right in front of me, and forgetting to thank Jesus for the blooming wildflowers on the side of the road that He placed to add a hint of beauty. Living in expectancy from those around me, and neglecting to remind them that I love them.

The past few months, I have noticed that life is too short.

Too short to hold the grudge against the person who wronged you, because my darling, grudges prune bitterness, and bitterness steals peace.

Too short to sweat the small stuff, and to go a single day without laughter.

Too short to dwell on the pain of the past and the things you can’t change. From here on out, all you have is tomorrow. So therefore, to live in the yesterdays is like a flat tire…it will not get you anywhere, and will only make things worse when you try. Looking forward is like changing the flat tire, a fresh start. A new beginning to get back on the road, and keep driving.

My word for junior year is embrace.

Embrace the seasons, come as they may. The seasons of joy, seasons of sadness, seasons of clarity, and seasons of doubt. Embrace the people surrounding me in this very moment, and never cease to thank Jesus for placing them in my life.  Embrace this time in life, and approach the future from each morning I wake up. Embrace the now, and laugh at the days to come.

One of the definitions for the word embrace is “to seize eagerly, or with alacrity; to accept with cordiality; to welcome.”

To welcome the good is to embrace the bad, to love is to risk hurt, to hope for eternity is to willingly accept the temporary. 

Psalm 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

Embrace.