Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Growing up, I always loved going to Memaw and Granddaddy's house on Thanksgiving day. Dad's whole side of the family always came and before we ate, we'd all gather around to pray. I have to fight back tears every single year. I have so much to be thankful for that sometimes I don't know what to do other than cry! After eating delicious food, we'd lounge around watching the parade on tv, playing cards, or catching up with family we hadn't seen in a while. So simple, but such a sweet time.

After saying our goodbye's, my immediate family would load up and drive to Georgia, where mom's family lives. Papa and Grandmother live in an old farm house. I love the big rooms, the wooden floors, and the smell of delicious food that always fills the house from Grandmother's kitchen :) When we're all there- it's a full house. I think it's 18 of us now. The cousins usually hang out in the back room while the adults visit in the front. There's always so much laughter and fun. We truly enjoy being together.

This will be the second year in a row I've missed out on Thanksgiving with my family. Last year it didn't bother me too much. Probably because I was on the beach in Maui and didn't think too much about it :) This year is a little different. Since I'm in grad school, I'm doing a lot of schoolwork this week and simply can't make it home for the holiday. I get a little sad when I think about all of these traditions taking place without me. I wish so badly that I could be there, but I am also thankful that God has placed me here in San Francisco for this season of my life.

Since I won't be there for my family's annual "What are you thankful for?" question, here's my own little list:

-Deep friendships. I have been so blessed over the years to have some truly amazing friends. You know those people you just really connect with and can completely be yourself around? I like to call them my "kindred spirits." I'm thankful for those ladies (Natalie, Holly, Karlie, Candace, Beth, Alicia, Jamie...to name a few).

-Opportunities to travel. So much of my life has been impacted by my travel experiences. I absolutely love travelling the world and experiencing new cultures. Being in San Francisco the past few months has been an adventure and I look forward to many many more in the future.

-Music. Whether I'm listening to the radio or strumming on a guitar in a quiet room, I'm thankful for the gift of music. It's one of the ways that I love to connect with God.

-Family. I can't even express how thankful I am for my family. I'm thankful for a dad who is wise, kind, and is such a servant. I'm thankful for a mom who is full of joy and makes everyone around her happy. I'm thankful for Nathan, who has always been just as much of a friend as a brother. I'm thankful for Tay Tay, who I will always consider to be my "baby" brother. He knows me so well and can make me laugh when I'm having the worst day. I'm thankful for my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. Even though I don't get to see them as often anymore, I'm so blessed to have such a loving and fun family!

-Fun. Let's face it. We all need a little fun! I'm thankful for sillyness and laughter and random, spontaneous things that make me happy :)

-Community. Community is super important to me. Wherever I am, I want to feel deeply connected to those around me so that we can share life together. I'm thankful that I'm in the process of developing a community here in San Fran. It takes time, but I can see how God is working around me to create community and that makes me excited!

-Diversity. I deeply value getting to know people who are different than me. I learn so much from my friendships with people from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds. Life would be so boring if we were all the same, so I am thankful that God created so many different kinds of people.

My heart is overflowing with thankfulness and joy.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The art of Procrastination

Welcome to my brain:

Okay Meredith, you have two 15 page papers to write this week.

Where should I study?

Hmm...I think I'll go to Starbucks, yeah, that'll be a good place.
(find cozy chair, order caramel brulee latte, listen to Christmas music playing in the background).

Man, this is relaxing! (turn on computer...mistake #1).

Before I can start writing, I should probably check my e-mail...something important could have happened.

Mostly junkmail...boring.

But someone wrote on my wall. I should check it out. (log onto facebook...mistake #2).

An hour later...

Well, now that I've looked at the wedding photos of the girl who sat next to me in high school English class but haven't talked to since, maybe I should start these papers.
(photo album from Hawaii pops up on newsfeed).

Oh...Hawaii! I miss that place. (spend a solid 10 minutes staring into space, day-dreaming) Maybe I'll just look to see if there are any cheap plane tickets real quick.
(go to travelocity.com... mistake #3).

Since the tickets to Hawaii aren't really on sale, I'll just browse around the other airlines websites. You never know when you'll find a last minute deal!

Wait a minute. Even if I find a last-minute deal, I can't take off school, and shouldn't really spend the money. Bummer.

Okay, seriously, back to this paper.

Man, I never procrastinated this much in college. What happened to me in Hawaii? I should seriously improve my study habits.

But before I do that, I may as well just write a blog about it.

Yeah, that's what I'll do. I'll write a blog about procrastination while I'm procrastinating.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The not-so-good Samaritan

During my first two years of college I lived in a dorm. You know, the kind with the dirty floors and hall bathrooms. I didn’t mind though. I loved every minute of living in a confined area with 60 other girls. Some of my best memories from college took place in Hedgpeth Hall. From prank wars to sleepovers to silly dress-up parties…we had a blast.

One day I was coming back to the dorm after a long morning of classes and was looking forward to my daily 2:00 nap (oh, the joys of being a college student!). While I was about to go in my room I noticed the housekeeper carrying two large trash bags from the bathroom. I had seen her in passing before but had never really paid much attention to her.

In my heart, I was having one of those “I know I should talk to her, but I’m really tired” conversations with God. Somehow I knew he was nudging me to give her a hand.

“Can I help you with those bags ma’am?” I asked nervously.

She looked startled but as she looked up at me her expression softened and she said, “Well…if you don’t mind. These bags are heavy!”

The middle-aged African American woman seemed tired and from the look in her eyes, I could tell she had had a rough life.

I introduced myself as I lifted one of the bags and carried it outside.

“It’s nice to meet you, baby. My name’s Donna,” she said.

I smiled when I heard her loud, friendly voice.

My heart was still pounding, so I knew God was telling me my conversation with her wasn’t finished yet.

“Are you hungry?” I asked, “I don’t have much, but I think I have some candy in my room.”

“Girl, you know I could use some chocolate!” she said with a sly grin. I had a feeling that Ms. Donna and I would get along just fine.

Ms. Donna came into my dorm room and plopped down on my not-so-comfortable futon.

I brought out my candy stash and as we filled our mouths with Reese’s cups and Snickers bars we developed a friendship that would grow over the next few years.

After that day, Ms. Donna would stop by room during her rounds. She would pop her head in with a grin and say, “Hey baby girl! You got any candy?!”

I would always laugh and say, “You know I do, Ms. Donna. Come on in!”

My futon became her place to rest in between mopping and taking out the trash. One day when I came back to the dorm, my roommate had a puzzled look on her face and told me that a housekeeper had come by looking for me. By the end of the semester, she knew the routine and would offer Ms. Donna a piece of candy on the days I wasn’t there.

I quickly learned that Ms. Donna had indeed had a hard life. She was raised by various family members and dropped out of school when she got pregnant at 15. She never finished school and was in and out of trouble most of her life. She had just recently gotten out of prison and was struggling to make ends meet when I met her.

On the outside our friendship probably looked strange: A twenty-year-old “good girl” and a fifty-something ex-prisoner. But I think that God brought Ms. Donna into my life to teach me that though Ms. Donna and I were different, we both needed Him in the same way.

One day Ms. Donna confided in me with tears in her eyes, “I don’t have no life. I don’t have nothing. I’m just a piece of junk. I make $6.15 an hour, Meredith.”

My heart broke for this lady. I was deeply saddened, not only by her situation, but by the fact that it had taken me a whole semester to even make eye contact with her.

God had placed Ms. Donna in my dorm, on my hall, and for months I had simply passed her by, busy with my Bible studies and homework and social activities.

I painfully began to notice the similarities between myself and the religious leaders in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the past, whenever I had read about the priest and the Levite who passed by the dying man, I always thought, “Those hypocrites! They are the reason people are turned off by Christians.”

I guess I had always hoped and assumed that I would fall under the category of “Good Samaritan.” But this time, I saw myself not as the Good Samaritan, but as the one who passed by the man who was beaten, naked, and hurting.

I couldn’t even count the number of times I have passed by hurting people without even noticing them, because, well…I didn’t notice them. I tell you this story about Ms. Donna not to portray myself as a Good Samaritan, but to point out the hundreds, maybe even thousands of Donna’s I could have encountered had I been more observant and more willing to reach out.

Sometimes it’s just easier to do my own thing; To listen to my iPod when I’m walking down the street or keep my head in a book when I’m sitting in a waiting room. I use my busyness as an excuse to not go out of my way to help others. But what if I was more like the Good Samaritan? What if I allowed God to use my hands, feet and heart to love on others every day?

My friendship with Ms. Donna has grown through the years. After I moved out of the dorm, we continued to meet on campus to talk. I would always leave our meetings with my sides hurting from laughing so hard! Though we live far apart now, I still communicate with her through letters and phone calls. I have learned a lot from Ms. Donna and God has given me the chance to share his love with her. I never would have had that opportunity had I not listened to that nudge I felt from God that day when I was on my way to take a nap.

I want to have more friendships like the one I share with Ms. Donna. I want to notice people and be willing to reach out to them. I want to listen to their stories and learn from them…even if it just means eating chocolate on an old futon.