Have Some Faith

July 3rd 2016 I got the word “Faith” tattooed on my wrist. Naturally, I feel like if you get a tattoo, you have some explaining to do, so here we go…

If I had to describe my testimony in one word, it would be faith.

I never really thought about faith and the meaning of the word in the beginning of high school. I just thought because I believed in in Jesus, it was something that was just given to me. From there on out, I lived my normal life, hung out with my friends, did my own thing and never really gave that word a second thought-until my sophomore year.

Parents divorcing. Earth shattering news to any 16 year old. Naturally, I pretended that it wasn’t happening. I did everything I could to distract myself.

I auditioned for the school play- didn’t make the cut.

I auditioned for OneVoice- didn’t make the cut for 3 years.

Tried endlessly to hang out with friends because I didn’t want to go home- turns out we were all still sophomores and no one did anything on a school night.

In this situation, I felt all alone. I was desperately trying to put my faith in other things and rely on them to get me out of this mess I was in.

One night, I lay awake wondering how I got caught up in the middle of all of this. I felt so exhausted and then I heard God whisper His thoughts to me in a sleepless daze. “Are you done yet?” WHAT!!!!!!! I panicked and whispered back, “Done with what?” Not knowing what would happen next, I just laid there in silence. “Are you done trying to put your faith in earthly things? Don’t you see I am the only one left?” And then it hit me. I didn’t make the play or OneVoice and I felt all alone because God took away everything in my life to show me that my faith in Him was the ONLY thing I needed.

I only needed faith. I didn’t even think about God this whole time and He was the only one still there for me.

Now that I’ve had this giant realization about faith- I still don’t think I understand it fully. I believe that faith is a giant thing to wrap your head around. I’ve learned that faith is not something you just have because you follow Jesus, it is something you constantly have to work toward. I believe that faith is not a feeling; its a decision you have to make everyday to trust God even when you can’t see what lies ahead.

That is why I got it tattooed on my wrist. I wake up, I see the word faith, and its a daily reminder to trust God, because He carries my life in His hands, and He will never abandon me. He’s actually the one who will always be around- even when my faith in everything else fails…

   I still have my faith in Him.

Girl Meets Grown Up World

So given my anxiety lately about being in a “grown up” world, I’ve decided naturally to get my thoughts down in a post because its 3:37 A.M. and I can’t think about anything else!!!

Im going into my freshmen year of college and while thats suppose to be exciting and fun, I have also felt the need to hold a sense of responsibility far greater than myself at the moment.

Lately, all I can think about is being successful. I ask myself questions like, “Will I actually get a job that applies to my major?” “Will I make a lot of money?” “Will I be happy?” That last question literally stopped me in my tracks…Will I be happy?  Then I realized that I shouldn’t put my happiness on hold because life doesn’t start when you are successful and rich- It starts now. Life starts right where I am. Instead of enjoying where I am right now, I’m depending solely on my future to provide me happiness.

When did the definition of happy get lost in translation in the modern American Society? In the “grown up” world the definition of happy is actually security. Security in a nice home with a nice manicured lawn, and a nice car. Make that 3 or 4 to go along with the picture perfect family you’ll have. But when did life become all about trying to win this game and not actually about living?

We get so wrapped up in trying to force our way to the top of the ladder that we don’t even realize we are missing the point of life- to actually enjoy it. And then we stumble upon the key culprit…

COMPARISON.

Life is one giant comparison trap. And let me be one of many to say that its toxic and it robs people of life. I think in reality we are all trying to impress each other so much that we miss out on being in the moment. ITS THE SNAPCHAT. ITS THE INSTA. FOR PARENTS, ITS THE FACEBOOK.

“And on the days when you peer into the screen of your laptop and all you see are people’s peak experiences that highlight your lack in the moment, remember that life isn’t about the story you tell about yourself on the Internet. It’s about a million more beautiful and complex things than that, like love and faith and really listening. It’s about using what you’ve been given to craft a life of gratitude and passion and grace. Remember that the very best things in life can’t be captured in status updates.”- Shauna Niequist

How crazy would it be if we all flirted with the risky idea that we are enough? That its okay not to put on a show everyday for everybody, because we’ve all been there, and we all know how exhausting it is.

How crazy would it be to think that when a flower grows its not concerned about the flower next to it- it just blooms.

How crazy would it be if we strived for progress instead of perfection?  The need to be perfect destroys a lot of great things in life. It’s okay to actually grow and not feel like we have to have everything figured out.

I LOVE THIS QUOTE !!! I think its a beautiful reminder that happiness isn’t found in “winning the game.” Its found in things that  you have a passion for. So don’t worry about what other people are doing or that job in the distant future- and just be. Because that is simply enough.

“I know that life is busy and hard and that there’s a crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don’t. Please don’t. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader because of the art you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting a pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making your art for people like me, people who need the magic and the imagination and the honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.” -Shauna Niequist

 

 

DAD’S DAY

Oh dads! The joy of endless dad jokes and the slight annoyance when they choose to drag them out forever. Classic.

Well I want to take a second and talk about my dad. For those of you who don’t know him-he is the most genuine, down-to-earth, hard-working guy EVER. End of story. He is the greatest Christian influence in my life and let me tell you why…

My sophomore year, my parents went through a horrible divorce. My dad moved out and I almost went a year without speaking to him. I know what you’re thinking… “WOOAAAHHH Meredith, you went from greatest Christian influence to going through tragic divorce.”  You didn’t let me finish. The important details come after the story.

God gave me these circumstances. I begged to not feel pain or even go through this at all. But instead of changing my circumstances, He used them. It turns out that if I could go back and do it all over again- I would still go through it the same way. When I didn’t have my earthly father around, my Heavenly Father stepped and filled me in all the ways I was not. He gave me peace when I was worried, He gave me strength when I weak. He turned my angry heart of stone into that of flesh again. He gave my orphaned heart a name. He gave me a peace about missing all the awesome moments that your dad is there for: pestering me about my first date, those horrible dad jokes, or even walking me down the aisle on my wedding day. He replaced that worry with peace, and for the first time in a long time I opened my hands, prayed to God and said, “Here is my dad, I give him to You because I don’t know what to do anymore.”

A month or two later I walked in from a long, hard day at school. I was tired of feeling tired and abandon. And there he was. My dad, sitting on the couch in my living room. From that day on instead of focusing on all the things he was not, I started focusing on all the things he is.

He is a SURVIVOR. A survivor of the sin Satan thought he was tangled up in.

He is LOVED. There is nothing to deep and dark for God. His love for us can NEVER be undone.

He is FORGIVEN. By us and most importantly the God who never left him. He was with him all that time and in reality, his slate was wiped clean with each new day.

And most importantly, he will ALWAYS be my dad. No matter what life takes us through.

People always said, ” Your dad is such a GOOD person, he has such a GOOD heart. I have no idea how all of this happened.” But through this, I’ve learned that Jesus didn’t come to make GOOD people BETTER. He came to raise the DEAD back to LIFE. That’s what He did with my dad, and that’s what He is doing in all of us.

So a shoutout goes to my Heavenly and earthly fathers!! You both endlessly show me love and support everyday of my life and I’m sorry that I don’t say thank you enough.

P.S.- For Dad: The way you came back from darkness was so unbelievably brave, and I am so proud you are still growing and walking in your relationship with the Lord. You are a solid rock of a Christian influence in my life and my greatest inspiration. You are a living example that through God, we will always overcome. I love you always, and happy Dad’s Day. I love that you are my dad!

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A Case of the Blehs

Okay ya’ll, so I’m at a point in my life right now where everything seems to be pretty normal-like I’m going through life with no serious life altering issues. Which I think is good, and also very bad. Recently, I’ve just been feeling bleh-like bleh I don’t feel good, I don’t want to get out of bed and please let me be ugly, eat a whole Totino’s pizza and go into a Netflix coma, type bleh.

Next thing you know I’m sitting in church service and I feel bleh and the only thing I’m really focusing in on is how gross my nail beds are. 

 Then it hit me- I’ve only been with God in the Word 3 TIMES this whole month. 3. And the only times were in previous church services weeks before. I then asked myself this question: What is keeping you from God right now? And I easily came up with like 4947363 reasons that I wasn’t spending  enough time with my Creator.

1. It’s December (not a valid enough reason, it’s just a month Meredith.) 

2. That means Christmas shopping 

3. Which means no time for anything else (biggest lie I’ve ever told myself.) 

4. But mom, I’m busy studying for exams (gets on the Cosmopolitan story on snapchat.) 

5. It’s almost Christmas

6. I’m so warm and cuddled up in bed and I see my bible on the bedside table, but I don’t want to risk my arm turning into an ice cube if I try to reach out and get it. So. Far. Away. Strreecchhhh. Well, I tried.

7. It’s Christmas (okay, still not a valid reason no matter how many times I put it in a list of important things.)

Sometimes we can’t find a balance between living our everyday lives to being able to feel comfort and security from God. Usually, this is where Satan comes in. He creeps in when we are at our best and sneak attacks us. And just like that we are stuck in our bleh Netflix coma again.

But we must hold to this truth: No man can serve two masters. NO. MAN. We can’t just say, “Hey God, I’m gonna give you my life but I’m gonna control this little part of it by myself,” because we will fall short every. single. time. It’s a constant battle that we have to face, but I like to remember it this way, God gives us rest and the things of this world give us stress. 

Yet, another question I had to ask myself about my bleh feeling was: Are your intentions for yourself, or for the Kingdom of God? 

The answer is well duh, always for myself. But it wasn’t until I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture that I realized it to be true. Because we are such a sinful and selfish bunch, our motives are going to be tainted- we need God’s help in every aspect of our lives. 

But in order to change, you have to be truthful with where you are. You have to start with discontentment in your life. Your end goal should ultimately be to live and love like Jesus. 

Paul once said, “Forget the things that lay behind me.” He is trying to make a point saying whether these things were good or bad, to just forget about them. Put them in your past, and focus on your walk with Christ. Do not let anything stall your relationship with Him. Keep going. Press on for God and with God.  
 This quote didn’t really have anything to do with this, but this is a lovely reminder. I never want to live a bleh life when I could be living like this. Don’t take one second of your life for granted. Don’t let Satan get in the way of your true happiness, a happiness in God. Make Him belly laugh. Because yes, God has a sense of humor too. Take time to smell the roses. Take your time with God. He’s always around and ready for a giggle. 

Outcry 2015 

I prayed right before writing this. That God would move through me. That my words could try and even come close to the taste of heaven I experienced tonight. 

I saw God move tonight. And what a beautiful thing it was to be a part of. I experienced Outcry (and what an appropriate name given that my throat hurts from shouting infinite praises to the Lord.) FOR SIX HOURS. That’s right people, six whole hours. 

Let me break it down for you…

The night opened up with Lauren Daigle. And lemme tell you… It was HOT and HUMID. Then after a few acts the sky started to transform from silver linings to dark, billowing, tornado-like clouds. At first, I felt relieved. It wasn’t that  hot anymore, and I could finally relax and enjoy my night with 5000 of my closest friends. Then a thought swept over my mind faster than the storm had rolled in. Satan. Satan is going to pull the lightning storm card on us, so all the praising and joy would come to a screeching halt. 

The wind started to pick up. Which is very unusual for a Memphis summer, because, well, it’s Memphis. At this point Bethel Music was rocking it on the stage and performing ‘Deep Cries Out.’ The wind grew stronger as we continued to sing these lyrics: 

I’ve got a river of living water

A fountain that will never run dry

It’s open Heavens You’re releasing 

And we will never be denied.

At that moment I realized, Satan wasn’t trying to steal the spotlight because God has already stolen it. The wind- in the midst of all the humidity, showed me that God was releasing His heaven on us. And what a miracle it was to witness. Later in the song it said:

If He goes left, then we’ll go to the left

If He goes right, then we’ll go to the right

We’re going to jump, jump, jump, in the river

We’re going to dance, dance, dance in the river. 

The wind picked up even more. Which blows my mind because, again, it’s Memphis. I got goosebumps in August. Like what?! The wind intertwined with the leaves of the trees- and it appeared that God’s creation was dancing along with us. Because He is a amazing, and has a sense of humor like that. 

So everyone had their turn on the stage. From Passion to Trip Lee. But we all knew what was to come. Two life changing words. HILLSONG UNITED. The one band alone that could get everyone in the building falling on their knees at once. It also happens to be the band that inspired me every waking second of my life to be a better person, worship leader, and most importantly- a follower of our living God. 

Then, the unpredictable happened. Lightning delay… Right before Hillsong United. I was not okay. I said “NOOOO SATAN, NOT TODAY. YOU CANNOT STOP THIS FROM MOVING IN PEOPLE’S HEARTS BECAUSE GOD HAS ALREADY SET THIS INTO MOTION. HE IS ALREADY HERE AND THERE IS NO POWER THAT COULD STAND AGAINST IT.” 

Confused and flustered- we evacuated. I thought, “That’s it. Hillsong won’t perform and I will never see them again.” 

So as we waited outside- shadows popped up here and there- but not just any shadows- shadows from a tour bus (always a good shadow to be around.) The workers moved out a mini stage- and there they were. 

20 feet away from me stood not only Hillsong- but Kari Jobe, Trip Lee, Lauren Daigle, Passion, Bethel Music. The whole deal. All of them were there, backing up Hillsong. And while we thought that thunder and lightning would steal the night away, there. we. were. Worshipping the God who created that lightning. Worshipping the God who showed us He was there by the wind. In the end, we didn’t need a big stage and kaleidoscope lights. We didn’t need out of this world graphics and a synth machine to make us realize He was there. Because He was already in the voices of people crying out to HIM. 

He took the barrier between the people on stage and the people in the audience and brought them together in the most beautiful way possible. It didn’t matter that the person next to you couldn’t sing. Love mattered. And that’s the only thing I saw present. 

Tonight made me realize that we serve a Mighty God- and nothing aside from that matters. And what a blessing it was to be a part of something bigger than myself. 

Outcry to me is a word that should be used in our daily vocabulary. God is the ONLY thing that makes this life worthy of living- and we need to cry out praises and thankfulness to Him. Always.  

    
    
    
   All photos are from my awesome, dear, sweet friends at 901 music. They are SO good at what they do☺️ Keep capturing the beauty of mankind because you guys are oh so VERY good at it! 

Happiness Hunting- Not Anymore

“In Your presence is abundant joy.” -Psalm 16:11

joy

Joy. Where does it come from? I mean like TRUE joy. Because I think people confuse happiness and joy often.

Happiness is a feeling of temporary joy. Like for example, happiness for you might come from the 64 pack of Crayola crayons with the sharpener on the back AND all things mexican food, because I get it, it’s really important. HA. But joy is a lifestyle and it can’t be made up or faked. It comes from the Lord, and Him only.

Joy to me is kinda like “Amazing Grace.” We’ve heard it a million times, but never really listened to the lyrics.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see.

I found my life when I laid it down. I found true joy when I looked to God and Him alone. Everyone can have happiness- but most of the time happiness comes from worldly things. I stopped buying into what society was telling me would make me happy. And it says this:

You have to look this way.

You have to dress that way.

You have to listen to this type of music to be cool.

You have to act like this at all times.

If anything, society wasn’t providing me happiness. It was enslaving me in empty promises. I was lost and I was blind (Amazing Grace, remember?)

But when I laid down my life, opened my hands and said, “Here ya go, God. Trying to fill my life with all these pointless things is mentally and physically exhausting.” He replaced that heart wrenching feeling with instant peace. I was found- I could see clearly now. (Amazing Grace is really relevant now, huh?)  I could finally remove the scales from my eyes and see the love in His. And that my friends, is joy that I cannot describe.

So you ask where joy comes from? It comes from the Lord. Always and forever. That will never change. So get to know Him more everyday. I know I am! He is always waiting with arms outstretched for you. DOESN’T THAT ALSO MAKE YOU SO JOYFUL?!?! WOW. If you asked me to describe joy I would say this:

Joy is knowing that God doesn’t need you. He WANTS you- in a beautifully desperate way.

It’s knowing that He owns the skies and he STILL wants your heart.

Being ultimately hidden in Christ brings you living, breathing, blood-pumping, adrenaline rushing, POWERFUL joy. (and that description is still an understatement of the feeling.)

And joy is kinda like “Amazing Grace.” As much as you experience it, it never gets old, never gets boring- but occasionally it’s all about reminding yourself who is flows from.

P.S.- if you want some tunes to add on to this, give “Broken Vessels” [Amazing Grace] (Live) by Hillsong a try. I can assure that you will have crocodile tears in your eyes. God is so good and He loves us SO much.

AND IT STILL CONTINUES TO BLOW MY MIND.

God Is Enough For Me

Okay ladies,
I know we all think about our future. Whether it’s where we are going to college or what our future impact on the world will be. From planning our lives on a Pinterest board to secretly roaming through the home decor section in Target. (You know who you are.) But I think for me, it’s who I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.

I think we all might have a list of expectations too. (Also, my secret confession.) A very long list of character qualities that this man must have, and maybe some ridiculous, but also, serious considerations like: He must look like Taylor Lautner and have an accent like Robert Pattinson. (OKAY you caught me…Twilight is also a guilty pleasure.) 

Well recently, I have found that I’m thinking about this list more often than not. And it has worried me. I’ve prayed to God that this wouldn’t be my main focus on life right now, because it certainly doesn’t need to be. So God answered my very long, painful, and probably REALLY annoying prayers about my future hubby- and replaced them with Himself. What a blessing, because this is what He showed me…

Flashback to a year or so ago. I was a sophomore and I had no idea what was going on in geometry. At least I was geomeTRYING. (HA I crack myself up, yall.)But on top of that, my parents told me they were getting a divorce. My heart dropped. Everything I thought I knew about love went comepletly down the drain. It made it worse because no one ever thought it would happen to MY PARENTS- married for 23 years, set a great example for me, and taught me how to serve and love others with my whole heart. That scared the crap out of me, because if they loved eachother that much and still got a divorce, than I was doomed from the start. 

I started shutting the idea of love out of my head because I NEVER wanted to be hurt like that again ever in my entire life. I hated love- and everyone who had it. I built a wall up around my heart, unable for anyone to enter, even if they tried. My heart was turned into stone… Something I never thought would happen to me of all people.

Okay, so flash forward to today and how God is revealing Himself to me in the midst of my worrying about my future man. Can I be the first to say that He puts my expectations list to shame. Like, exceeds all of them because, duh, He’s God. Now, let me tell you how much my Savior loves me. 

He wakes me up every morning. Maybe with the faint chirping of a bird and a sweet reminder that I am alive and breathing- and I have nothing to worry about.

He is my shoulder to cry on. He is my soul shepard. He looks out for me when I need Him the most. When I’m troubled or worried or when my heart is breaking, I can run to Him and He provides ultimate peace and clarity. Psalm 31 says this: “You’re my cave to hide in,

    my cliff to climb.

Be my safe leader,

    be my true mountain guide.

Free me from hidden traps;

    I want to hide in you.

I’ve put my life in your hands.

    You won’t drop me,

    you’ll never let me down.”

He’s a painter. His imagination is endless. He painted the sunsets. He painted the flowers. He painted the oceans. He painted the skies. And it’s all for me. (And thank goodness I found a man who likes the color pink, CAN I GET AN AMEN?!) Even when I’m on a plane 34,000 feet up in the air (I hate planes.) He gives me a front row seat to His majestic wonders.  

    
    
    

 Taken in California, Rose Gardens at Berry College, and 34,00 feet up on my recent trip to Orlando.
He will never stop loving me- no matter my circumstances. He knows every little, ugly detail about me and STILL decided to die on a cross for my sins. That is undeniable love that I cannot fathom. I can’t wrap my head around how much He loves me. His love has no bounds. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.” Deuteronomy 31:8 

He thinks I’m beautiful. Even when some days I look in the mirror and I don’t feel like it. He even tells me I’m His masterpiece. 

  Psalm 45:11- “The King is enthralled with your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord.”

He’s a writer. In fact, He’s written the longest love letter in history. It’s called the Bible. His words speak truth and healing into my life everyday. He fascinates me, and I learn something new through Him everyday. 

So why am I worrying about this love thing so much? I’ve already found someone who will love me beyond my wildest dreams-and His name is Jesus Christ. 

But until I find that amazing man… God is enough for me. Always.