"before we turn to stone"

Well, I feel exhausted.


I did a video last night with my cat Madeleine L’Engle.
I have a mild allergy to Madeleine L’Engle (the cat).
When I hold her next to my face while singing a song, I apparently end up looking like this:





In my Benadryl induced haze, I am having a little trouble thinking theologically, so please bear with me.


Last night we had an amazing Bible Study/Prayer Service.
Generally the focus in the first week of Advent is Hope and the second week it is Peace. It is in this perspective we came to our Gospel lesson, Mark 1:1-8.


 1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a]the Son of God,[b] 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

   “I will send my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way”[c]
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
   make straight paths for him.’”[d]
 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”



We were struck that the whole Judean countryside came because they heard his message of repentance and therefore came to confess. We started talking about repentance and how that is a part of waiting actively in anticipation.

This has resonated with me so deeply in this season of Advent and the times of transition I find myself in. It would seem that the Gospel on a whole, and Mark in part, makes it clear that repentance, the willingness to say “I was wrong, I’m sorry” is essential for a life of peace. 

I see this over and over again in my life. If I am unwilling to  humble myself and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done, it is impossible for me to have peace. Completely impossible. It happens quickly. When I have done something that has caused offense to someone the immediate reaction more often than not is to find a way to defend myself and my decisions. And if I don’t get myself in check, it becomes defending myself at all costs, causing further offense and hurt. But that isn’t even the beginning. 

It begins to eat at your insides. Eat them and at the same time disable them. It makes them hard so that the next time you hurt someone, and don’t humble yourself and ask for forgiveness, you don’t feel it as much. It becomes duller, so it can happen more and more and more.

I’ve found (by trial and error) that most of the “instructions” in the Bible aren’t just for the heck of it.
Not just for kicks, because God “can”.


It really is in our best interest for ourselves and our relationships to freely give and seek forgiveness. It’s the only way we can truly have peace.


It’s hard to humble yourself. It’s like dying to yourself. A little death that comes before a whole lot of life. There is so much freedom when you humble yourself and ask for forgiveness. A huge weight is lifted off of you and you can feel again. I’m not going to try and fool you, that it doesn’t open you up again and again to the possibility to be hurt again and again. But that is the danger with truly living isn’t it? The danger when we choose to fully participate in humanity.


In my short experience on this earth, the peace that can be experienced is far greater than the turmoil.  The possibility of deepening relationship, of showing true love, it can be amazing.


I couldn’t get this song out of my head with the Gospel lesson from yesterday.







To me it speaks beautifully about looking beyond ourselves at the world around us, and the importance of taking responsibility for our actions “and not waiting for someone else’s hand”. The specific line that keeps speaking to my soul is:


“but brother how we must atone, before we turn to stone”


It is a simple truth.


If we aren’t vulnerable to one another, and are incapable of humbling ourselves, we will turn to stone.


The further we separate ourselves from humanity the less human we become.


Let us all take this Advent season as an opportunity to seek forgiveness where it is needed and to freely give forgiveness as it is asked of us. Not many better ways I can think of to honor the coming of Christ who came to us in a humble vulnerable human form so that he could grant us ultimate forgiveness and redemption.


peace to you,
meredith










Wedding Week Day 4-The Wedding (Continued)

Our wedding ceremony was probably my favorite part of the whole wedding.

We were so blessed by the community that came together to make it happen and to support us in our commitment to God and one another.
One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the “soundtrack”.
First we had a full praise service-
1.) Come Thou Fount
2.) Great is Your Name
3.) Be Thou My Vision
4.) Though I may speak
5.) Memorial Candles were lit/Grandparents were seated to Motion Picture Soundtrack by Radiohead played by a string quartet.
6.) Mothers were seated to Sheep May Safely Graze by Bach.
7.) Bridesmaids/My processional to Only Hope by Switchfoot
8.) Nate sings an original song I hadn’t heard yet!
9.) We recess to what started as The Bridal March but morphed into “Good Love”
It was so randomly and perfectly us. 


I look back at the words of “Though I may speak”:


Though I may speak with bravest fire
And have the gift to all inspire
And have not love, my words are vain —
As sounding brass — and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess
And, striving so, my love profess
But not be giv’n by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come, Spirit, come; our hearts control.
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide ev’ry deed;
By this we worship and are freed.


it is a hymn I haven’t sung since our wedding day six years ago, and I find myself struck by what little that 21 year old girl/woman (still feel like a girl/woman, but that is for another post, at another time!) knew of what true, real, hard, life, love looked like and would look like. And yet I/she knew enough that there was truth to these words, that something resonated with what this marriage thing was supposed to look like. What a gift. what joy, what bliss, this deep true friendship and community I have been given in my husband is!
I am so aware of how “lucky” I am. So grateful.


And often times when I laugh so hard that I fart in bed, because of the hilarious things he says, I half expect a parent to come in and tell us to be quiet, that it’s time to go to sleep, because I don’t know how I got to have a sleepover with my best friend every night, I feel like I must be doing something wrong to have so much fun and get to spend every waking moment with my best friend.


Bet you didn’t expect me to talk about farting, but that’s how I roll. 
Or better yet, how WE roll!




peace to you,
meredith








Wedding Week-Day 3 The Wedding

We got done with Bible Study and it is late so I am posting pictures now, and more on the wedding tomorrow!

My favorite individual pic of my love. 
He still rocks a newsboy cap like nobody’s business.
My favorite individual pic of myself.
Tres dramatique, no?
Right after the ceremony, so excited!
Leaving the church! 
Our First Dance to “The Luckiest”.
More to come tomorrow!
peace to you,
meredith

Photo Friday-Tattoo Inspiration

I have been debating for so many years now about getting a tattoo. My husband has a few :), and I have been itching lately for some ink.  These pictures are some inspiring ones to me, and you can also find them on my Pinterest!

The problem is, ever since I met him, and ever since I have seen his amazing artwork on Nate, I have only wanted one person to do my tattoos, if I ever got them.

That person is Jimmy.  He now lives in Eugene, Oregon. And that makes a tattoo REALLY expensive. Although a total bonus would be visiting Mindy Rawlins and The Blair Family.

Trying to justify, trying to justify, trying to justify.

Do these images inspire you as they do me?

Really want this on my body and on everything I own (with even more labels added in!). 


What a vital reminder in a walk with Christ about loving everyone, 
because we so DO NOT deserve the love we have been given. 

But maybe my forehead would be too much? 🙂


 What do you see when you look at this?
 If you don’t see a hat, you know why this is so lovely and meaningful. 
If you do see a hat, go read Le Petit Prince, and have your spirit lifted and outlook changed. 

I have always been incredibly drawn to shepherd/sheep imagery when it comes to my relationship with Christ. 
This image is a visual representation of something far more amazing, 
but it grants a little understanding for my feeble mind. 
Mother and Child, Mother Mary and Christ, Father God and His Children. 
This sculpture is so beautiful to me, 
it encompasses such intimate, passionate, nurturing relationships.
These are just a few inspiring images. Don’t worry, you won’t see all of them on my person any time soon (ferociously types in search engine “Cheapest Way to get to Oregon”).
peace to you,
meredith

A photo shoot sneak peek!

You have already had a sneak peak of one of our photo shoots with Eliza Morris of Eliza & Liz Photography


I thought I would share the highlights from our last ridiculously fun shoot. 


We are so blessed to have found such a talented photographer to capture Eleonore as she grows so quickly!

I am smitten, and done in for all of eternity, 
I get to have these two in my life EVERYDAY!

The little details are something that you don’t want to forget, 
and they pass by, just as quickly as everyone says!
We are a motley crew, but wherever we go, 
and whatever we do, we’re gonna go through it together!
Every photo shoot we have had so far, 
I make sure to get pictures of her in this red hat, 
with a white onesie on, and her Deer Ugly Dolly.
It will be so fun to see all the changes but in the same “get-up”.
I seriously can’t gush enough about Eliza and her work. The capturing of my family, and my memories and these fleeting moments in time are so valuable, and I will be forever thankful.
I am a blessed woman, I know it, and I am completely unworthy of it.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” 
– Thornton Wilder

peace to you,
meredith


music to the heart and soul

This Saturday will be  a dream come true for me.

One of my favorite musical groups of all time will be playing a show in Bloomington, at a childhood friends apartment.

I have been dubbed a “Superfan” along with my dear friend Lindsay who will be absent this concert since she currently lives in Arkansas.

Lindsay and I first saw Rue Royale in 2007 at Uncommon Grounds in Wrigleyville. We didn’t pay much attention or realize what amazing food was there. We were there strictly for the music.

Our fates were sealed, and since then we have tried to make it to every show that has been accessible to us.

Our 3rd concert at Subterranean Winter 2007! 

There isn’t really much to say about their music, it is better to listen, and feel.

Cornerstone 2008. I had an appendectomy,
 so I wasn’t there.
 There was an empty seat in my honor.
At Schubas, end of Summer 2008! 

Fall 2010 in Macomb
Spring 2009
Their Moving to England show at the Hideout





I can’t describe their music and even begin to do it justice. 
Listen, and if you like what you hear, contact me for the concert details!
peace to you,
meredith

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 to Do. . .

I haven’t had a lot of time today to muse or ruminate on anything in particular. But as I was singing Do Re Mi with Eleonore today in the car, I was remembering this video.

Nate and I at the beginning
 of our time at Streams of Hope

In itself it is an amazing thing to behold. I first saw it in 2009. We were in the process of closing a church while Nate was in seminary. It was an amazingly beautiful, painful, and growth inducing experience which I am sure I will write more about in the future.

The Sunday the church closed I stood to give some of my thoughts. I wanted the congregation to know that we had to decide if our journey as Christians stopped there, or if we were going to go out into the world and be the church, join new existing bodies of believers and evolve as Christians to share the joy & hope we have in the Risen Christ.

This video had spoken immensely to my heart and soul during that period.
God used something as simple as a song from The Sound of Music and a bunch of people dancing to speak to me, that joy still existed & that hope was still alive, even in the midst of mourning.

And, that ultimately, it starts with one person, making a decision. 
So I shared this video on that Sunday with the congregation, and I share it with you now, because it still holds so much truth and beauty.
peace to you,
meredith

What on earth am I(we) doing here?-Part 2

Soon after moving to Bloomington, we were confirmed in the Anglican Mission. It was a wonderful day, and it happened immediately prior to our friend Fr. Greg Lynn’s ordination to the priesthood.
We have a wonderful long-distance community in Peoria’s AMiA plant, Epiphany. Chris and Elisa Marchand, dear friends from the Chicago area are co-planting a missional community there with Greg and his wife Alicia.
What a wonderful gift to have kindred spirits embarking upon the same journey so close!
Chris, Elisa, Father Greg, Alicia, Nate & Me
at our confirmation/Greg’s ordination!
Nate and I with a lot of prayer have wanted to take a VERY slow approach to this whole church planting-thing. We want to be able to give the community what they need and what can bring them closer to Christ, not impose our idea of what the church plant will look like on a community that we have been detached from for five years. This is a problem I think the Christian church gets stuck in a lot. Telling a community what they need before hearing what that community has to say/where they are.
(Before I get bombarded by Christians telling me the community needs Christ, let’s have that just be a given. We all do, or Nate and I wouldn’t be giving our life to this calling).
So right now what this looks like is a foundational group of people meeting twice a month, (soon to move to every week) at our apartment, discussing the word, our relationships with Christ, uplifting each other, and brainstorming on how we can bring Christ to this community and be Christ to this community. Very soon we will be embarking upon community outreach and eventually we will start meeting at a space, (as we are growing out of our dining room quite quickly. Intimacy is great within a missional community, but I don’t want anybody to be able to tell that I wasn’t able to shower that day, as being a Mommy doesn’t always warrant a shower! :o) ) and having a full service as well as a weekly community group/bible study.
Exciting, scary, and an impossible environment to not be completely dependent upon Christ.
One thing we are praying for is that God would put on someone’s heart to come alongside us in ministry here in Bloomington-Normal, in a co-leadership role. It is exciting to be patiently waiting for that, not knowing who that person will be or what specific gifts they will offer. But as God has proven so clearly over and over again, He will be faithful.
This church thing if you have never been a part of it (or if you have), is intended to be this beautiful, messy group of people, growing together, leaning on each other and loving each other so much that they can’t let each other stay where they are at, they must propel each other further on in betterment, in hope and beauty and love, to become what we were created to be.
In propelling each other it should catch onto someone else, and someone else, and someone else.
And then our world theoretically shouldn’t look the way it does.
But there is something in me that won’t allow me to stop looking at what this world can be if we allow the Hope of the Risen Christ to permeate itself through us and to others.
I think the Church (which I claim to be a part of, I still believe in the Christian Church despite it’s faults and it’s NUMEROUS injustices, I apologize for these, and for the part I may play in them, but I still identify myself with it) forgets about this leaning, and dependence on one another, that we were created to be in community, to need one another, to change the world together.
Scoff if you must, but I adore So You Think You Can Dance (this is not as much of a change of subject as you might think, stick with me). This dance to Coldplay’s Fix You really hits home for me, especially where I am at in my Faith journey right now.
*I am not about to get into what the words to that song mean, I have my thoughts, but that isn’t really what this is about.
I think this is how we are supposed to look in the church relationally.
We move in sync at certain times, and at others we show our individual gifts for the community.
And sometimes we are utterly unable to move, unless we are lifted by one another.
I am quite fond of the 45 second mark where the “jumping” begins.
Sometimes it feels like in the church or in our relationship with Christ that we are doing such futile things in a season of waiting, that we might as well just be jumping up and down.
But that jumping up and down is leading to something amazing, and may we all jump with such vigor and intensity. . .
watch and see what I mean.
peace to you,
meredith