a bosom friend.

Tonight we had the distinct pleasure of having dinner with my lovely friend Liesl and her mother Susan who was in from out of town. 
Liesl is one of my oldest and dearest friends (since the summer before 7th grade, when I first saw her in her Chuck Taylors, and Bogie’s Diner Jersey), and she was one of the reasons (other than God of course. . .DUH) that moving back to Bloomington even seemed slightly tangible to me. 
There is such enormous beauty in friendship. In tried and true friendship. It’s the stuff that Jane Austen writes of, and what Lucy Maud Montgomery describes as having  a “bosom friend”. 
You might as well just see a picture of Liesl when you look for the definition of the term, because she is mine. 
Look up “Bosom Friend” in the dictionary,
and this is what you’ll see!
She has been with me through so much. And has become a great friend to Nate and a wonderful Auntie to Eleonore. 
Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming to see all the beauty she puts into the world, to see how big her heart is, and how free her spirit.
Overwhelming, and at the same time utterly inspiring. 
During Liesl’s time in Belgium working for Young Life I had the AMAZING opportunity to travel there to assist her with moving back. We attempted to chronicle the adventure with this blog. I think we could easily get paid for traveling together and writing about it. Or maybe I just think we are funny and no one else does. . .nope, we’re pretty funny.
Liesl and I enjoying a good “brew” on our German Day Trip!
Life has lots of ups and downs, but there is so much joy to be had in friendship and fellowship. 
It is truly one of God’s gifts to us.
I hope you all have a Liesl in your life. I can’t imagine how empty mine would be without her. 
peace to you,
meredith

Back in Bloomington #6-Hair

I am committing to a post a day during the month of November as a practice in discipline. As it is 12:05 AM on November 1st, might as well get to it!
During this journey we are attempting to save money every way possible so that I can continue to be the full time caregiver for our daughter Eleonore.
I thought I would take one for the team in August, and with the seriousness and determination of Rosie the Riveter attempted to dye my own hair for the first time in close to five years, blonde streak and all.
Sometimes saving money doesn’t help the family “team” because there is something to the old adage “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.
I was frustrated, and knew it was going to take a lot of money to fix my mistake. It got me thinking. . .
hair.
Such a vast aray of things span from this topic. I feel like I could write a book under the headline.
But what to write about? Haircut disasters?You have already read about the adventure that was my eyebrow journey in Jr. High. What about the bikini wax that I got a few days before my wedding resulting in me using the word Ooftah for the first time. . .well, the bikini wax can wait for another time.
In Jr. High I am quite confident I was a glutton for punishment/self humiliation.
Right before a sleepover, I decided to “trim” my own hair. It was about shoulder length at the time. And maybe I didn’t “trim” it. Maybe I thought it was a good idea to add layers as well. Thirteen year old adding layers to her hair with blunt kitchen scissors=brilliant.
I remember it not looking that bad in my opinion, but when my dear friend Laura called to see when I would get to our friend Lauren’s house, I shared the news that I had trimmed my own hair. With great exasperation she exclaimed that we would need to fix it as soon as I got there. When I did get there my friends seemed to be waiting with baited breath. . .
Shannon grabbed the scissors.
They thought it made the most sense to begin at the highest layer I had cut.
 To me this was near my chin.
To Shannon, Lauren and Laura, it was near my eyes.
They made me turn away from the mirror and made the first fell swoop.
A simultaneous squeal was let out  and as I tried to turn around, I was quickly shoved into the bathtub so they could finish their deed (you might be asking how/why I didn’t fight back? Lauren and Shannon would go on to be part of the State Championship Softball Team for Normal Community High School, they were strong. I did the plays and was on the basketball team because the school hoped there might be an ounce of potential in this 5’11 beanpole. There wasn’t.).
When they finally let me rise out of the tub, it was a sight to behold.
I said we needed to call my parents immediately (I have always struggled with guilt, some people think Catholic/Jewish guilt is the worst. It’s not, United Methodist guilt is the one that bites you in the “tookis”).
Shannon, brave one that she was, called my parents.
I quote:
“We gave Meredith a haircut, it looks amazing. She looks just like Cameron Diaz.”
My Best Friend’s Wedding was a Jr. High Sleepover staple
I couldn’t agree more.
Cameron Diaz with poop brown hair that she let someone inebriated fashion into an uneven boy butt-cut.
Just like Cameron Diaz.
My parents didn’t let me get it fixed for a couple of weeks. . .
I had to wonder if that was how Cameron Diaz got punished for bad behavior.
My hair eventually grew back, and in between now and then I have had a few impulse bang cuttings, but never anything that would harken back to the dramatic drastic nature of the “Cameron Diaz” cut.
The dye job was my first disaster in quite a while.
I’ve questioned God a lot in this journey.
A whole lot.
About a lot of things.
Our conversations are probably entertaining on the outside looking in.
And for the life of me, I didn’t understand, while on top of all the other “learning experiences” we are going through, the cherry on top would be my hair.
Eleonore in her pilot cap that day.
Mindy gave her a yogurt bite
“tear drop”. See why I need this woman in
my everyday life?
I was moaning and groaning about this to my dear friend Mindy who was “Back in Bloomington” from Portland visiting her family and friends. Sidenote-I am praying for God’s guidance and provision in Mindy’s life, while praying for this I also understand that God wishes to grant us the desires of our hearts, my desire is that Mindy moves back to Bloomington and works in community and ministry with us. If you would like to pray that too, it would be much appreciated. No really, pray that. I want her here! While we sat at The Coffee Hound, an incredibly awesome looking young woman in a blue hawaiian print caftan walked by pushing a stroller (check out her blog, you would be intimidated too). She saw Eleonore through the window in one of her “signature” pilot caps, and exclaimed through the window that she would have to come in. She introduced herself, her husband and her adorable 10 month old son Wolfgang. I couldn’t help but stare at her hair. It was amazing. Half black and half bleach blonde. I had to ask where she got her hair done, and she said “Oh, I do it, I do hair”. She gave me her number and we agreed to do a play date. I was so intimidated by her, I didn’t know what to do. Eventually I mustered up the courage to text her (lots of gumption in texting, right?), and we did set up a play date.
There is nothing more to say other than God is faithful in ways we can never imagine. Not only do I have someone to do my hair and EYEBROWS (and do them INCREDIBLY well), I have an AMAZING new friend, as does Eleonore, as does Nate in Deb’s husband Greg.
A bunch of “wild and crazy guys” out and about Halloween Night!
God continues to show me that Nate and I cannot and will not do this alone.
That not only is He in every little detail, but community will be in every little detail.
And it might not look how we expect it to.
It might look even more amazing than we can imagine.
The church is a living breathing organism if we allow it to be, of sharing gifts and talents to lift each other, and sustain one another.
Friendship and laughter are amazing gifts Deb has given me, and her talent with hair is just “the cherry on top.”
I am convinced more than ever that God is in the details.
Seriously, can you not when you see how fabulous my hair looks?
peace to you,
meredith
Wolfgang and Eleonore enjoying their community! 

Back in Bloomington #4

I have been looking for a place to get my eyebrows waxed now that I am back in Bloomington. That combined with my friend Alicia Lynn’s blog post mentioning her eyebrows caused me to recall a specific eyebrow adventure of mine. What follows is an account of that very eyebrow adventure.

Self inflicted pain was never a forte of mine. 

I was a big sissy.                                                                    
I couldn’t even pluck my eyebrows. 
I shaved them. 
With a pink Lady Bic.
Now in my defense, I figured it would work for the following extremely logical reason: my Grandmother constantly carried a Lady Bic in her purse, even hid away a couple in the glove compartment of the Maroon Lebaron she and my Grandfather drove.  She did this so that at any given time, situation or place, she could easily remove her lady stache.
This caused me to not only shave my eyebrows, but also my lady stache, from the 7th grade on. It seemed practical and functional. Like a lawnmower cutting the grass or vacuuming the carpet, it was extremely satisfying to see the instant results.
Only a few times did I actually lather up with some Skintimate Raspberry Rain shave gel on my lady stache. To be truthful it burnt quite a bit with added things so I preferred (who are we kidding, prefer) dry face shaving as it also exfoliates a layer of dead skin cells quite easily.
Once I started in on the eyebrows as well as the lady stache things got a little “hairy” (pun highly intended). 
This is how I felt about not having luxurious eyebrows.

As a 6ft tall 120 pounder during the summer between 7th and 8th grade, with a Louise Brooks bob and bangs that while highly stylish in the fashion world, were not intentional, just “practical”, not much was needed to draw attention to my person. Add in the dark circles under my eyes genetics and allergies had kindly thrown me, plus pale skin and dark hair and I looked more like a Bosnian refugee than the blonde bomshell I was on the inside.

So what makes the most sense for a girl like me to do?
 Shave off her eyebrows. 
I didn’t start out with that goal in mind. A mix between Elizabeth Taylor and Cleopatra (really the same thing since my visual was from Elizabeth Taylor AS Cleopatra) was my desired result.

what junior high girl doesn’t want to look like this?

I was perched on all fours on the formica bathroom countertop staring intently into the mirror, pink Lady Bic in my hand, and I was convinced that a life changing moment was about to take place. 
This would be what would catapult me from not being asked out by anyone to being asked out by everyone. I didn’t need boobs. I didn’t need calf definition. I didn’t need clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch ( I had 5 different outfits total that I rotated each week. I thought that if I didn’t wear the same thing on Friday and then Monday that no one would notice. . .) I didn’t even need blonde hair. (What would have served me well was the knowledge that all I needed to say was “Yes you can feel me up even though there is nothing there to feel.” and  I would have had them).
 I knew that the key to winning any of the tall boys hearts was defined Elizabeth Tayloresque eyebrows! 
I triumphantly began:
a little off on the left one,
a little off on the right,
a little more off on the right.
Wait. . .are they even?
I need to do a little more,
wait, wait, wait. . .

 oh, oh, oh, oh, OH MY GOD!

The right one was gone.
Well two eyebrow hairs remained. The early hints of my extremist behavior emerged as my twelve year old self thought “Oh what the hell! (I probably felt very cool for thinking a swear word). I can draw on my Cleopatra eyebrows and no one will be the wiser.”

So I shaved off the left one as well.

 Oddly enough I don’t remember my mothers reaction. Maybe she felt self loathing since she herself used a lady bic for her lady stache and the generational curse had seeped its pink plastic flower fangs upon me.

 I spent hours in the bathroom that summer. Trying the Cleopartra brow, the skinny tattooed brow, the lipstick brow, the eyeshadow brow, the lipsmackers brow, the stickers brow. You name it, I put it where my eyebrows had been. 

 My friends were as gracious as one can be expected to be when you are forced to walk around with Jr. High Meredith PLUS painted on eyebrows.
Taunting me in front of the neighborhood boys as we ran rambunctiously around the Pleasant Hills subdivision (right behind College Hills mall, now the illustrious Shoppes at College Hills), my friend Laura simply said:
“Do you guys notice anything different about Meredith?”
 These were the same boys that were friends with me I believe for the sheer fact that they felt guilty for calling me Lurch the majority of my 7th grade year when I would take my lunch tray up.

They had their chance, they had ammo they could have obliterated me with in a single blow.

Instead Simon just said “I don’t know, is your hair different?”

To which I said:

“No silly, I have no eyebrows! These are painted on!”

Yes, as a good Christian girl, I knew honesty was good, but maybe in Jr. High God gives us grace about it not being “the best policy”. I guess I hadn’t developed my theology of grace yet.

 I told them I had plucked them as I knew to reveal the women of my families secret of the lady bic was right next to denying God, or beasteality.

By the grace of God almighty, my eyebrows grew back.

__________________________________________________________________

 Every now and then in the bathroom a disposable plastic razor will taunt me.

 It will speak in a women’s voice with a French accent “Sink of zee power you could hold een your hand” One minute I could look in the mirror with a full set (albeit not that thick due to that summer) set of eyebrows on my face and the next they could be gone. In a matter of mere seconds.

But I resist the urge, pick up the razor, and destroy the lady stache that I just noticed on my upper lip.  And as I smile in the mirror stache free I pray to God I have the willpower to make it to my eyebrow waxing appointment. And my husband, who I do let feel me up, does as well. 

Back in Bloomington #3

Scars, both emotional and physical, begin to heal with time.

This is a promise that I hold to be true.

Mustn’t we all?

If we don’t, then we can’t make it through the pain, or the puss, or the stitches, or the staples.

We try to ignore that we were inflicted with the incision wound (be it with a scalpel, an inanimate object, or an unkind word) but when we look down, or up, or inside, the wound is there. . .
but it is beginning to heal.

Growing up, I always thought that one special day I would find out why God had made me the way I was (physically).

I would find out why God had made me with huge feet (size twelve by 6th grade, now a solid 13), taller than most boys and until the latter half of my senior year in high school, flat chested.

While it didn’t seem fair, I knew that God had a purpose for everything He did.

So whenever I was called Lurch everyday as I took my tray up after lunch in the cafeteria during Junior High (hell must be a lot like Jr. High, right? I heard you all say yes as you were reading this, thank you for the affirmation), I said in my head “God made you this way for a reason, one day, when He reveals it, they will all be sorry, really sorry”. In fact if someone got too close as I was taking my tray up, they would probably be able to hear it coming through my gritted teeth.

I kept waiting. . .and waiting. . .and waiting for this big reveal.

I imagined numerous times posing in front of the bathroom mirror with full makeup and slicked back hair, that it was going to be me as a high-fashion model (and maybe although too old, I’m still holding out hope for this one. . . 🙂 ).

In fact, while we were living in Chicago, my dear friend Lindsay was with Elite Model Management. This meant I was able to peruse the other models with Elite when she wanted to show me new pictures in her portfolio. I noticed that I had the same measurements as the Plus-Size models. Lindsay and I figured I should see about doing Plus -Size modeling. I went in and spoke with an agent at Elite, had my polaroids taken, the whole bit. Then he had to discuss with the other agents about my marketability. I waited for the phone call, all the while thinking, “Is this it God? This is why I am 6 feet tall?”

It wasn’t.

I got a call from Stephen the agent, and he shared with me that while my measurements were indeed the same as the other plus-size models they represented, I did not look “plus” enough. I looked too small.

Lindsay and I during our time in Chicago!

WHAT?!?!?!?

My whole life, I am told I am too tall, too big, too me, to do things, and then the one thing I should be fit for, I am TOO SMALL ?

Needless to say, Nate had a night class, I had probably a little too much of a bottle of white wine, an entire loaf of french bread, and watched Georgia Rule a HORRIBLE Jane Fonda/Lindsay Lohan film while I intermittently muttered things at God about this highly ironic turn of events.

But. . .
I got over it.

I must have been slightly masochistic about the whole situation, because when the Bridal Show was happening at The Merchandise Mart (this is where tons of dress designers come in for an expo of sorts) Lindsay suggested I try freelance modeling. She said that the Designers were always disappointed because the normal fashion models didn’t have “Womanly” bodies (I wasn’t flat chested anymore).

I figured this wouldn’t be the big reveal of why God had designed me the way He had, but might be a little “pick me up” to get  me to the big reveal whenever it was coming.
Just a nice little self esteem boost along the way.

Well. . .we got there, and Lindsay basically became my agent. She was already booked through Elite with Jessica McClintock for the whole weekend but she knew not all the designers came with models.

Three different designers had me try on dresses, only to have them not even go over my hips.

The fourth designer had me try on a free flowing wedding dress. After some adjusting of the chestal region, I sucked in my breath, zipped it up, and triumphantly threw back the fitting room curtain! Everyone was overjoyed, until. . .”We also need you to model the prom-wear” the designer calmly and cheerfully said as she handed me a mermaid style satin red gown.

I began to furiously pray.

“Maybe it will be stretchy, maybe it isn’t as tight as it looks, maybe it will fit. . “

Optimist that I am/was, I took a go at it. When it was apparent that I couldn’t breathe and I hadn’t even attempted to pull the zipper up, I decided to raise my white (or red as it were) flag.

I went to take the dress off, and I was stuck. Absolutely, irrevocably, stuck. With my arms straight up in the air and my control top tights showing, the dress had situated itself in my middle region, in a way that my left eye could peek out of the arm hole, but that was all of my face that was left uncovered. Looking like an Amazonian Cycloptic Lobster I gingerly began to call “Lindsay, Lindsay, could you come here for a moment?”

She obliged.

I shimmied, I shook, I jumped, I twisted.

Lindsay tugged, she pulled.

We prayed.

And eventually, by the grace of God, the dress came off, unscathed.

I walked out, again told a designer that “I’m sorry, it didn’t fit” and bid them adieu.

Lindsay had to leave for another appointment, but always the encourager she suggested I try a few more designers.


I went to a very high end Italian Design House and they gave me a beautiful (at least) $15,000 gown to try on. I was delusional enough to think that if they exclusively did wedding dresses, I might be in luck.

I didn’t have Lindsay this time.

What I did have was a thirty-plus pound dress that I had pulled over my head because God knows it wasn’t going to go over my hips.

Lo and behold, it wouldn’t zip.

Lo and behold, it is pretty hard to lift a thirty pound dress off of yourself, over your head when your arms are contorted just so.

I did a lot of praying that day. Only this time I literally found myself on my knees as I prayed, hoping that odd body contortions would help disperse the weight, making it easier for me to lift the dress above my head.

When I did, again, by the grace of God, get the dress off, I began my fifth defeated exit of the dressing room . I told the designer it didn’t fit, and in a thick Italian accent he repeatedly said “Just one, can’t we just get one that will fit her? Try them on and see if you can’t just get one.”

Really?

Are you kidding me?

You didn’t see me under the curtain making all those crazy movements?

So I gave it my best.

And none of the dresses fit.

A defeating/deflating/crushing day,
but. . .
I got over it.

Lindsay giving me a black cashmere Burberry scarf she had received at a fashion show didn’t hurt.


So skip a few years, and I am in a hospital birthing room. I have at least ten nurses around me, my midwife, and my husband.

I am standing, squatting on top of the hospital bed, COMPLETELY naked.
*to this day, neither Nate or I know how I got naked. Really. It just happened.


And all these nurses around me are abuzz, saying “Did you know she hasn’t had ANY pain medication!” and “Look at those hips, she was built for this” and “look at those feet, she has such a good strong base for giving birth”.

Inside I was sure that this was it.

This was to be the big reveal.

After two hours of pushing after a nineteen hour labor, squatting, standing, getting on all fours and some attempted hand maneuvers by my midwife, God spoke to me.


Clearly.

“This is not going to happen how you thought it would, you will have a C-Section”

You have to understand that I had never been more excited about anything in my life than having a completely natural child birth (OK, wedding night was pretty exciting, and as a result of that going well, I was found in an exciting place again, just different).

I had read tons of Ina May Gaskin, I had watched and made Nate watch The Business of Being Born, I had re-read The Red Tent the week before I gave birth.

I wanted to feel everything that my body had been made to do in the act of giving birth.

In that moment, it would have made sense for me to be angry, frustrated, and defeated.

But I wasn’t.

I looked over at Nate, and we looked at each other, God had told him the same thing.

My midwife came back in, after she had slipped out for a moment, where she was praying about the same thing.

I am so extremely thankful that God spoke to Nate and I before someone else attempted to make the decision for me.

 Midwife Lila & Eleonore

And so preparations were made, the Dr. was called, and during my last contraction as I sat on an operating table, I was given my first taste of drugs in the entire process andI won’t lie, people use them for a reason, it was nice.

A beautiful baby girl came out.

The incision that was made was stapled up.

Are you surprised that this wasn’t the big reveal about why I was made the way I am?

I was too, but. . .
I got over it.

There may never be any “BIG REVEAL”.

Because each day God is teaching me to see that it is what he chooses to do through me and in me, not my physicality and physical appearance that matter.

But ughhhhhh I am human, and I want the “BIG REVEAL”.

As I was taking a luxurious, relaxing bath tonight, I saw that my C-Section scar is healing and fading.
And inside the scars are healing and fading.
Scars of a Junior High Girls insecurities.
Scars of a Young Woman’s insecurities.
Scars of a First Time Mother’s insecurities.

They only fade with the growing knowledge that my Savior is my Healer.

And in time He will make all things new.

Even me.

But for now, He doesn’t get mad at me for crying in the bathtub as I mourn a birth experience that didn’t go the way I had planned it.

He is simply there.

Yep.

That’s what He does, and He does it well.

peace to you,
meredith