Fake Glasses & Sacramental Starbucks

The first attempt at writing anything about my experiences surrounding the death of Michael Brown and the events that followed can be found at Above the Fold here.

On Friday October 10th it had been 61 days since I first put my feet on the still bloody place where Mike Brown’s body had lain.

I didn’t understand my place anymore. I didn’t know what to do anymore. It seemed easy that first week, when there were clear places to be, at clear times, when the day after he was shot I went to a prayer vigil with two friends.

Ferguson October wasn’t going to be something I could fully participate in. The week after Michael Brown’s death we were extremely blessed in that we had a close family friend staying with us. And she stepped up and provided child care for those times and places we didn’t take the girls. That was a luxury, not a practicality. It wasn’t the case anymore, I didn’t have expendable childcare.

When Nate got home that Friday from work, I had realized that we were out of diaper wipes. What is odd about this is that I ALWAYS make sure we have diaper wipes. Like, the big huge Target purple box. I always make sure to the extent that if one box is even half empty, I use it as an excuse to head to Target so that we NEVER RUN OUT OF BABY WIPES, and, well, Target.

The fact that we were completely out was a little astonishing to me but I thought, “oh well, I’ll just go to Target”.

Before Nate and I did the “home handoff” a quick rundown about the girls, and the state of affairs, he noted that I was wearing my glasses.

You see, I have these “fake glasses”, I like to wear. They are these amazing ginormous tortoise shell glasses that I got when I was working at a small eyeglass boutique during our time in Bloomington-Normal. The owner as you might expect , wanted me to wear glasses when I was selling amazing high end thousands of dollar glasses. Often times people do wear fake glasses to appear smarter, or more intelligent. This was an instance where I literally needed to wear fake glasses to look more knowledgeable about the glasses I was selling. As a former Theatre Major, I was THRILLED about the idea of wearing fake glasses. Some flair, a new accessory, knowing full well I wouldn’t only wear them during working hours.

Since my time working at the store, I sometimes put on my “glasses”.

 

On days when I need a little more protection, days when I feel a little raw. But not always. Sometimes I think, “ooh these glasses, that outfit, together they look especially hipster”, and I’ll admit it so that maybe you can as well, I like to look “hip” from time to time. On days when I didn’t have time to shower, or put on makeup, or shower or feel as put together, I would throw on my glasses, to feel instantly “finished”, instantly “polished”.
And on that dreary Friday when I was feeling so topsy turvy about my place in regards to Ferguson and the state of race relations in our country, I put on my glasses.

Oddly enough it was my first time wearing them since dyeing my hair bleach blonde. Something that had happened since Michael Brown’s death and all that ensued. So Nate noticed, he said “Oh your glasses look really great with your blonde hair”. I said thank you, and like ships passing in the night, went to hop into the car.

I decided if I HAVE to go to Target, the least I can do is go to the Jennings Target. If you have seen the news at all, this shopping center was where command central for the police during the height of the Ferguson activity. As trite and trivial as it felt I knew I could at least go offer my mere four dollars for baby wipes.

Part of my Target liturgy is to first stop at the Target Starbucks. I’m trying to be kinder to my pocketbook as well as my gastrointestinal system, so I’ve been laying off the Hazelnut whole milk lattes and going for straight up coffee. I get a tall in a grande cup so there is more room for cream and raw sugar. . .lesser of two evils? I don’t even know.

For some reason it was taking longer than normal. I can’t remember now, but maybe they were brewing it. So as I walked around aimlessly, an African-American woman sitting there said, “Goodness, your glasses are amazing, where did you get those?”

And all of a sudden these glasses, that I sometimes wear for protection, that I sometimes wear for defending the too often on my sleeve heart, became the catalyst for conversation, that was actually exactly what I had been looking for, and needed. I learned all about her life, her children, her son who is her rock, her grand baby. And she learned about my life. We even began to start to talk about God who’s followers she had been so hurt by time and time again. Another African-American woman came up with a Mike Brown button on.  She told us all about some of her plans for that weekend and what her church had been doing. The three of us held a Holy Communion as we spoke about who God is to us, who God is in this situation, and what we think God wants to do with us to bring God’s peace to earth. After about thirty to forty-five minutes had passed, it was time to go, to move on from that moment.

I held back tears of joy as I went to the baby aisle. Tears of rejoicing for a God who is personal enough to work through fake glasses, Starbucks, and baby wipes. But if I’m honest, I also held back because I didn’t want my vision to be clouded as I passed the children’s 70% off clothing rack.

My God also knows, it’s hard for me to turn up a good deal.

 

peace to you,

meredith

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The Book of Titus and How a Toddler Will Lead Us

While there are a lot of things no one can prepare you for in regards to parenting, re-assimilation is one that never gets talked about.

If it does, not in my circles.

I was gone for a week from my beloved daughters for the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was a wonderful time, full of reality and revival, two things I have come to believe extremely essential to Christian life. Heavy doses of what needs to be done in sharing the Gospel, and heavy doses of hope. Because as Rev. Mark Sheets reminded us, “the best is yet to come”. It was good that I was able to spend the time with my husband, and brothers and sisters without my children. Attachment parenting attempts aside, I think adult time is another thing that is vital to the Christian life. . .well, life in general.

When you are known simply as an adult for that time, sans kids, when you are only responsible for feeding and clothing yourself, something switches. You get comfortable in your new/old role.

Then you come home.

It was overly joyous, with tears and smiles and laughter as my husband and I embraced our two girls. So you go to bed that night thinking you’ve got it covered. You’re great. Transitioning fluidly from old life to new life, super adult ministry woman, super mommy. Positive that nothing can stop you/me.

We all know that even Superman has kryptonite. We know that every hero has their weakness.

The perfect storm began to brew, and it was becoming clear that I would not be immune.

You know how Target is supposed to be a “safe place”? A beacon of hope to all woman and mankind alike, a Mecca where you can find a dress for a wedding for $5.98 on clearance, baby wipes, a garden hose, and Sriracha potato chips?

It is.

Expect when it isn’t.

There is this ginormous blessing we have in that the same parking lot for Target is the same for Trader Joes.

Seriously.

Don’t get jealous too quickly. Picture that for a minute. It’s like heaven is on either side of this asphalt hell that you have to navigate through to get to your great reward. I don’t have a single trip that I don’t nearly have a heart attack thinking I will hit someone, I will hit a car, I will be hit, one of my children will be hit, etc., etc., etc.

So what does high horse Meredith do on her first full day back into full time Mothering? She decides to take the two girls to Target, peak mid morning time, without having had coffee or a shower. Feeling a little too sure of myself I gingerly pulled the trusty Subaru into the treacherous terrain. Immediately I found myself stuck behind a middle aged gentleman spot stalking (pet peeve #2,375 of mine).

Ladies and gentleman, he was not only spot stalking. No, no, no. There was an open spot NEXT to the spot, and then another one car down. I went into panic mode, because someone could at anytime whip around from the other direction and take those spots. After literally five minutes, I could take it no longer. Eleonore was already singing/yelling, sinling if you will (see how sin is in there, it’s a sin for sure) about the big red balls outside of Target and the popcorn she was going to eat, and I went around the man and took the spot on the other side of the car he was stalking.

If only it ended there.

Said man finally gets in the coveted spot and is glaring at me with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Some combination of not having the coffee/not showering/not knowing when the next time I would be free to sit and wax theologically over a nice aged whiskey or microbrew caused me to engage:

Me-Is there an issue Sir?

Man-Yes, you just couldn’t wait could you? You had to make it more difficult for everyone.

Me-I’m sorry, I have two kids and I just really wanted to get parked before these spots were taken.

Man-Well patience and politeness are a good thing and you don’t have any.

*something else snaps

Me-You’ll live.

Just as I utter those words, I hear a little voice come out of the car, purely singing:

“Let them see you, in me” 

I was being shamed, by my three year old, with CCM.

For those blissfully unfamiliar, (I’m being rough here, because I grew up on ONLY CCM. Other girls had Debbie Gibson or Tiffany outfits. I had an Amy Grant outfit) here is the wikipedia link to CCM.

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*one of these things were not as hip as the others. . .

I WAS BEING SHAMED BY MY DAUGHTER WITH CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC!

A ridiculously bitter pill to swallow.

I mean, she’s three, she’s spewing out JOY FM, and I can’t say anything, because SHE’S RIGHT!

The man scurried into Target and I sheepishly pulled both girls out of the car and we began our trek in.

I met with my mentee later that week and we were discussing the book of Titus in the New Testament of the Bible. No one gets excited about Titus. In fact, you might have not even heard of it. It’s a tiny little number, chock full of seeming rules and regulations and lists. Does anyone really go out seeking those Do’s and Do not’s with a sense of passion and excitement? I don’t think so. . .and if you do, let’s hang out because you could be a great yin to my yang and teach me many things.

We struggled through it in a tangible way. It’s important to let scripture breathe, to et scripture speak into your context and your experience and for it’s Truth to become realer to you because of it.

Titus is chock full of things like this:

3 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.-Titus 3:1-2

At first read, it’s like “What? Me? I have to do that? Remind others, and myself?”

The reality is, there is so much freedom in these instructions.

So much.

If I had started my day with just a little bit of that list, it might have looked different. . .ok, a lot different. 

If I had been in tune enough with myself to know, “hey, you’ve just transitioned big time, you might want a little reminder, crack open that good book, talk to God for a bit, all before you attempt to do anything else”.

I CANNOT transition fluidly, unless Christ is the center.

I cannot be Mother, Wife, Minister, Christian, etc., etc., etc., to the level I was created to if I do not remind myself of WHO created me and WHAT I was created for.

The book of Titus, as much as my human self grates against it, is a pretty great way to be reminded.

So are three year olds named Eleonore singing CCM.

peace to you,
meredith

30 While 30

Thirty While Thirty

1.) Read 30 Books & check out at least 15 of them from the library if not all
2.) Have 30 different people over for a meal or coffee
3.) Wear a swimsuit in a public place
4.) Get (At Least) One Tattoo
5.) Run a 5k
6.) Make 30 new/different recipes
7.) Memorize 15 different verses of scripture
8.) Try 30 New Foods
9.) Travel to the West Coast
10.) Submit to Moth/Hope to be on a Story Slam
11.) Do 30 Hours of Community Service
12.) Write handwritten letters to 30 people
13.) Go to and participate in a Standup Open Mic Night
14.) Watch at least half of the movies I’m missing from AFI’s 100 best movies list (74-embarassing!)
15.) Do the OCM/No Poo Method for 30 days
16.) Do a gig with Nate again performing our original stuff
17.) Play a percussion instrument during a gig/worship set
18.) Go on 30 Different Dates With Nate
19.) Learn to Pickle Things
20.) Menu Plan for 3 Months in a row/3 Months Out
21.) Discern my vocational calling-Seminary? Yes? No?
22.) Fast from Facebook for 30 Days/Fast from TV for 30 Days
23.) Leave The Country
24.) Go to 15 new (to me) dining/drinking establishments in St. Louis
25.) Buy 15 Records/Vinyl and listen to them while lying on the floor doing nothing else
26.) Preach a Sermon/Speak at a Special Event
27.) Go see 6 Pieces of Theatre/Live Art
28.) Drink Bourbon in Kentucky
29.) Do 30 things found on Pinterest (not recipes)
30.) Establish a Morning Routine with Scripture/Prayer/Mediation
Yes. That’s right. Last night for the FIRST TIME EVER, I played a percussion instrument. A tambourine, on a stand, with a drumstick to be exact.
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Nate and I leading worship.
Notice I am sans any rhythmic accoutrements. 
If you are my husband, or if you have ever played music with me, worship or otherwise, you know my apprehension to rhythmic adventures. Many a time during rehearsals I can drum, shake, or beat with complete abandon. But when it comes to the service, or when it comes to the gig, something happens. I freeze and all of a sudden my body refuses to drum, shake, or beat whatever it is it is supposed to do so to. Even at Clayton or Saturday 5 PM McCausland services there may be times when you have seen the tambourine on a stand in front of me, and you wonder “hmmm nothing ever happened with that”.
Exactly.
I can’t explain it other than I have some vague memory in my life of someone telling me that I didn’t have rhythm, and that all I could do was sing, so that’s all I should do, because I didn’t want to mess it all up.
Stuff like that sticks with you. It becomes ingrained in you. You form who you are based on who and what other people say you are.
Up until yesterday I didn’t know when I was going to get this item on my list done. I just knew I needed to, it needed to happen this year. That as a 30 year old woman I was going to say to whoever it was who said that, (I honestly don’t remember, and perhaps it’s a conglomeration of things. That’s what memory does) and more importantly to myself, you are not what someone else says about you. You are only what Christ has and is formed/forming you to be.
Now let’s be honest. It’s a crapshoot. Because I might be the worst percussionist God ever created. And that would be ok. But I need to find that out for myself, not live into something based on fear.
Rehearsal began for last night’s service and as we started to practice “Beautiful Things” by Gungor, I gingerly went back to the drum kit, picked up the tambourine on the stand, and a stick, and brought it by my music stand.
It didn’t phase Nate or Angie who have been down this road with me many a worship set. They probably figured it was par for the course. And it went great during rehearsal. . . as it often does.
Then the service came. I wasn’t really thinking about it until we got up there and the imposition of ashes started. I didn’t really realize that my right hand actually picked up the drum stick laying on my music stand. I didn’t realize anything until about 4 beats before the start of the chorus where I was supposed to come in with the tambourine. The panic set in for the first beat, and my hand thought about putting the stick down on the second beat. On the third beat God said “sing the words you are about to sing to me”. The fourth beat came, my energy went to holding back tears as to not go into ugly cry, and on the 1 of the next measure (is this song even in 4/4? Geez, I don’t even know, hence some of my trepidation with percussion) my mind went “Oh s%^t this is happening” and the drumstick met the tambourine.
These were the beautiful words by Michael and Lisa Gungor that we sang as I hit the tambourine:
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
As people were coming forward to have ashes imposed in a cross on their foreheads to remind them of their mortality, and of their dependence on Christ, I was experiencing some of the most incredible, deep, beautiful fullness that happens when we attempt to live into that dependence. Fullness that happens as we depend more, and more, and more, and more on the Risen Christ, and less, and less, and less, on ourselves or on what/who others say we are.
Thirty thus far has been amazing, and jolting, and full.
I’m guessing that the more I live into that dependence, the better it’s going to be.
My list involves a lot of silly, and a little bit serious. I don’t think any of those thirty things will be experienced to their fullest unless I am striving for a constant awareness of Christ making me into a beautiful new thing.
And seriously, I want my thirty to be the fullest year I’ve ever experienced.
Don’t you want your 14, 57, 91, 32, or whatever your age is, to be your fullest too?
Let’s do it.
peace to you,
meredith

wider, longer, higher, deeper

It has been two weeks now since ROOTED-The Gathering 2014 Women’s Retreat. There are millions of thoughts that run through my mind,  but I figured if I didn’t get some of them out soon, I might not ever! 

When I first got up on stage with our associate Pastor Linda Gastreich, and was about to ask everyone to “dance like nobody was watching”, I was pretty nervous. I was expecting that I would have to ask a few times to warm people up, that they might not jump in at first, and I thought I would have to dance by myself a bit.

But the women of The Gathering can get down. Seriously. I was so thrown off, because the first time I asked, they DUH-ANCED. And apparently my “go to” move when I’m nervous becomes some sort of awkward “twerk” that looks more like a turkey/rooster hybrid trying to mate than anything you might see Beyonce do. . .it just kinda happened.

Sorry for that ladies, because YOU WERE WATCHING.

I was nervous because I guess that was the moment for me that would indicate if this whole event was going to be a fantastic success, or a fantastic flop. And if everyone’s hard work would pay off.

I would know if everyone danced.

Not only did we dance, but we sang, and we prayed fervently. We worshiped with abandon and glorified God. We wept healing tears filled with intense sorrow, intense mourning, and intense joy.

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All photos courtesy of Kristi Foster. Check her out here

I know in my heart that God looked down and smiled and said “It is good.”.

It was about Saturday night late that I realized I might get through this entire event process without any major setback or trauma. I was flying high and free!

Then Sunday morning, I remembered. . .God had made it pretty clear there was something else I was supposed to do before the retreat was over.

Earlier in the week I had learned that our church The Gathering UMC was going to allow the fiscal offering from our Sunday morning worship service to go straight to the scholarship fund for the retreat. As soon as I knew that, I knew I was going to have to be transparent with the attendees when it came time for Sunday’s offering. Sunday morning I was getting cold feet. I was texting my husband back and forth, fighting with God, saying, “but. . . .” a lot. I did NOT want to go through with what I had promised God, and myself, and Nate I was going to do. Nate helped keep me accountable the best he could via text. The Sunday morning service began, Pastor Linda preached a wonderful sermon on accountability, the communion liturgy was finished. It was time to share what I had been called to, and so with a heart full of trepidation, I stood and read these words:

This weekend has been nothing short of amazing, life altering, and awe inspiring.
We have an opportunity now to branch out in different ways, to hold ourselves accountable to
moving forward in our relationship with Christ, and how we allow that to propel us to impact the
world around us in tangible ways.
 
One area we have the opportunity to do this in is in regards to the Women’s Retreat Scholarship
Fund. This mornings fiscal offering has been designated to go exclusively toward next years
 fund. I have heard from many women how impressed they were that we had scholarships available,
and that we were going to make sure that financial issues were not going to keep anyone from
 experiencing and participating in this weekend. In fact we have had $1,365 given to 17 women
who requested full or partial scholarships.
That $1,365 came from women who are in this room right now, and was in turn, given to women
who otherwise would not be in this room right now.
There are two types of women it takes for this to happen:
 
The first woman is the woman in need of a scholarship. The woman willing to humble herself and
ask for help when she needs it. To put aside pride, fear of embarrassment, and impending
thoughts of “what will others think of me” in order to take time away to restore and renew
herself in Christ. A woman able to come to the realization that an opportunity to deepen her
relationship with Christ and her Christian community is more important than all these things.
 
The second woman is the woman willing to look at her experience and her means and
say “This is about more than me”. The woman willing to give extravagantly above and beyond
what has been asked of her, so that others might have the same experience as her. Knowing full well
that others experiencing Christ and a deeper sense of community is far more valuable than
earthly treasure.
 
It is when these two women come together that a collision takes place. Because it is then that
we get to viscerally see and feel the Kingdom of God on earth. It creates a place of equality that
can only found in living out identity in Christ.
And then the hard part came. My voice started trembling and I fought with all my might to keep back the tears.
 
I am the first woman. I drug my feet asking for a scholarship. I hemmed and hawed and thought
it was worth putting financial strain on my single income family in order to “look good”.
 It wasn’t until I heard another Mother say “It was embarrassing to ask, but I knew I needed this, and I
knew my family needed me to have it. That was worth the embarrassment”.
 
I think transparency like this changes the world, and I think generosity like this changes the world. 
Together they shout loudly to a world that has seemingly lost all hope: 
 
Christ Has Died, Christ Has Risen, Christ will come again, 
and that is why we live the way we live, 
and give the way we give.
I walked off the stage and 148 women started to take part in Holy Communion.
I found a quiet dark spot in the back of the room, fell to my knees, and wept tears of great thankfulness that I serve a God who so desperately loves me, that He will not allow me to stay comfortable, to stay safe, or to stay quiet about what HE is doing in my heart. A God who loves each of us so much, that he constantly reconstructs and restructures our hearts to become more and more like his.
Of course I hope at the next women’s retreat that we dance turkey/rooster twerk and all. I hope that we have extreme laughter, and extreme joy.

But most of all, I pray a precedent has been set where we support our sisters, that it is truly a place where everyone can be transparent with where we are at, with what we are struggling with, with the season of life we are in, and that we can do so without shame.

I think that’s what happens when we begin to live the Kingdom here on earth.

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Because once we are ROOTED in that wide, long, high, deep love, then and only then can we confidently pray these words and know that we are proponents and active participants of the Lord’s will being done, and the coming of the Kingdom.

Thy Kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen.

Re-Treat Yo Self!

This past weekend I was blessed to worship with 148 other women as we retreated to better know ourselves, one another, and Christ.

The more serious “deep” post is coming, but for now, I wanted to share with you one of the best experiences of my life.

I had this crazy idea, while watching Parks & Rec that we should take the infamous Treat Yo Self, and turn it into Re-Treat Yo Self.

I thought it was genius but wasn’t sure everyone else would get it/appreciate it. So I started small with making a meme:Image

And then I thought, well we should probably share the original clip at the retreat, right?

But, was that really enough? Or was it time to put my degree to use? 7 years after graduating 5 years since I’ve had an agent, and two babies later, my Theatre degree might just again serve me quite well (I was married before I graduated, so yes, 7.25 years of marriage tool! 🙂 )

I didn’t know if I would be able to convince Rev. Linda Gastreich to get on board. Wasn’t sure if she would see (what I was considering) my genius.

Because she is one of the wisest and most intelligent women I know, she complied. And what happened was nothing sort of magical.

So at the retreat, we opened each session with a call and response of:

Re-TREAT

Yo-SELF!

Followed by a clip of Sly and the Family Stone’s Dance to the music.

Because one of the best ways to Re-Treat Yo Self is to dance like no one is watching.

So we did (photos courtesy of the ridiculously talented Kristi Foster)

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And I pray that you do too. As Rev. Deb Lemoine shared with us during experiential worship, the joy and laughter we share when coming together in Christ’s name is a spiritual discipline we must not ignore.

So take time to RE-TREAT YO SELF, and it might just lead to a renewal of yourself.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

Psalm 30:11

peace to you,

meredith

Cool it with the Christmas.

As Advent begins this weekend, I was reminded of a post I did two years ago. 

This is an excerpt from it, and the original link can be found here

It’s Christmastime. Right?
Wrong.
I will get back to this in a minute.
On Facebook, twitter, around media outlets in general, and in public, I keep seeing this thing.
People posting comments, or pictures, or links, or saying things that have to do with it being OK to say Merry Christmas.
 The overall sentiment seems to be: “F-You, I can say Merry Christmas if I want to. Get out of my F-ing way. I WILL offend you. Intentionally. Thinking intentionally, I might offend you, and I’m gonna like it, so I’m gonna do it.”
Some of the people I see this from are Christians, and some are not. Both kill me. Really. But I’m not going to “talkback” to those who don’t claim to be Christians.
I’m going to “talkback” to the Christians.
One was shared that said:
“It’s okay to say “Merry Christmas & God Bless America”
Absolutely. It is okay. And I know there are those who want to say those things because they believe they bring joy, or they really do want God to Bless America, I in fact share these same sentiments.
And Hippy Dippy alert: I want God to Bless THE WHOLE WORLD. I warned you, so you can’t get mad.
 But there is the majority, which are the sassy ones/people, demanding justice for our “rights” as Christians.
That idea our “Christian Rights” is another post, for another time. 
And it is with those, and that school of thought that I take issue.
 So, back to how I started.
It isn’t Christmastime.
Not according to Church History, and not according to the Church Calendar.
It’s Advent.
You may not have ever heard of it, and that’s our (Christians) fault, including me.
Here is the definition from dictionary.com:

ad·vent

[ad-vent]  Show IPA

noun

1.

a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of theholiday season.
2.

( usually initial capital letter ) the coming of Christ into theworld.
3.

( initial capital letter ) the period beginning four Sundaysbefore Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
4.

( usually initial capital letter Second Coming.
Origin: 
1125–75; Middle English  < Latin adventus  arrival, approach,equivalent to ad- ad-  + ven-  (stem of venīre  to come) + -tus suffix of verbal action
Synonyms
1.  onset, beginning, commencement, start.
And of Christmas:

Christ·mas

[kris-muhs]  Show IPA

noun

1.

the annual festival of the Christian church commemoratingthe birth of Jesus: celebrated on December 25 and nowgenerally observed as a legal holiday and an occasion forexchanging gifts.
And just for kicks, Christmastide as well:

Christ·mas·tide

[kris-muhs-tahyd]  Show IPA

noun

1.

the festival season from Christmas  to after New Year’sDay.
2.

the period from Christmas Eve  to Epiphany, especially in England.
Origin: 
1620–30; Christmas  + tide1
OK. A lot to deal with there. Mainly what I want to point out is that Christmas doesn’t start until Christmas Day. Up to that point we are in the season of Advent, of waiting for Christ to come into the world.
Of waiting, patiently, in anticipation and excitement.
So what if, instead of exercising our “right” to say Merry Christmas,
we exercise our “right” to WAIT?
Wait and patiently exude the hope that we have because this has happened:
 
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 
Luke 2:10-12
 
If you believe the best way to share this hope and love and your faith is to say Merry Christmas at all costs, after looking deep down and into your soul, then that is between you and Christ, and I have to respect that.
What if instead, Christians claimed the season of Christmas. . .how out of the ordinary that would be. How outrageous, to say Merry Christmas after the commercial hoopla is done, and the presents are opened and the belly’s are stuffed, and we are in the midst of returning the sweater we didn’t want, or the earrings that are downright ugly.
What would that look like?
A little crazy. A little off kilter. And then someone might ask “What do you mean?”
And then we might have to “be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have within us”.
If we’re honest, its easier to say Merry Christmas when the rest of the world is saying Happy Holidays. When it’s socially acceptable  celebrate Christmas.
We get to bask in the glow of comfortable Christianity as the rest of the world acknowledges that it is “Christmastime”.
What I am going to try to adopt is this school of thought:
 that my Lord and Savior saw fit to come to us humbly, as a vulnerable baby. And in doing that he was still so enigmatic, and so awe inspiring that the Angels came to sing, and the Shepherds came to bow.
It radiated through his humbleness.
I don’t think with that kind of Glory He is concerned with Christians exercising their “right” to say Merry Christmas.
But just for the heck of it,
Happy Advent one and all!
 1463187_10101697943744150_1364144578_n
peace to you,
meredith

On being “shot & styled”.

This past Friday I had the great pleasure of acting as model in a little photo shoot by my good friend Julie of Life Astonished while being styled by my good friend Krissi of Thoughtfully Dressed.

The afternoon was filled with fun, laughter, some serious style, and some serious art. The outfit that Krissi rounded up for me is one I will wear for a wedding my husband is co-officiating and I and the girls are attending. It will be my first time “attending” a wedding in over a year, instead of “working” a wedding as the planner. So my full thoughts on the day of being “shot & styled” won’t come until after the “event”.

My little mini-stint at modeling made me think of past adventures and antics. Combined with my dearest Francesca River turning five months old on Sunday this past  blog post came to mind (to hold you over till the “event”).

Below is the full text originally posted August 10, 2011-The Big Reveal

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Here’s one shot. More to come!

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