Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: in pictures

2010 has been one of the best years yet. It's been one of the most adventurous, explorative, independent years of my life. I've been able to meet lots of new people, experience different cultures, and live in different environments. Here's a picture from each month to sum up a great year!

my good friend Jean accepted Christ and was baptized in Hawaii.
one of my favorite memories of my time in Hawaii was eating lunch with international students every Thursday. I had such a great time getting to know them!
For spring break, I took a trip to the Big Island where we saw the volcano, black and green sand beaches, Mauna Kea and beautiful waterfalls!
I achieved my goal of going skydiving!
My friend Karlie and I took a trip to the beautiful island of Kauai. It was the most peaceful, relaxing trip I've ever been on and I was completely in awe of God's beautiful creation.
A week after I moved back from Hawaii, I headed off to my other favorite island, Sri Lanka. It had been 3 years since I had been there and I missed my friends so much. It was a joy to be reunited with them and see God at work!
I went to Centrifuge in TN with my youth group. I had a great week and was reunited with some of my best friends.
My brothers and I took the road trip of a lifetime. We drove from North Carolina to California in 6 days and were able to see cool things along the way. It was a sweet time to spend with them before I moved to San Francisco to go to seminary.
My best friend Natalie got married and I was able to come home to be a part of her special day.
Nathan and my friend Rachel came out to visit me in San Francisco.
Reunion with some Malaysian friends from Campbell near San Francisco. I have missed these girls!
I had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with my family in the mountains of North Carolina.

It's been a great year. Can't wait to see what 2011 will bring!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Love Story: Mom & Dad

I’ve always been a sucker for love stories. I love hearing how couples met and fell in love. I guess you could say I’m a hopeless romantic living vicariously through other people’s stories! Anyways, my parents’ story always makes me smile, so I just thought I’d share it for the rest of you romantic souls out there!

It was the summer of 1978. My mom was 19 and had just finished her freshman year at Samford University and dad was about to turn 21, having completed his junior year at Gardner-Webb. Considering that my parents both grew up all over the world, I have to believe it was God’s providence that brought them both to the same small camp training in the mountains of Virginia.

Christian High Adventure (CHA) is an outdoor adventure program that teenagers participate in each summer. My mom was going to be working at Crestridge, a camp for girls, and my dad at Camp Caraway, but the two-week leader training for both camps was held together.

It’s kind of crazy that my mom ended up there in the first place. My grandmother had seen an ad for CHA in a Christian magazine and cut it out and sent it to my mom, knowing that her adventurous and daring daughter would be a perfect fit for that program.

Mom signed up for it right away and headed across the country to embark on a new adventure, having no idea that she was about to meet her future husband.

When mom tells the story of the first time she sawmy dad she always gets a big smile on her face. “I was just standing outside getting ready for the training and then I see this tan guy with dark hair run and jump over the fence and I thought, ‘Man! He’s a hunk!’”

Over the next two weeks, my mom and dad lived in the wilderness. They cooked, bathed and slept outside and had to learn to survive the cold and the bears. One day they were hiking on the same team and when they got to their camp, they realized that there was not a water source nearby. So they had no other option but to hike the next days’ trip that evening. They finally made it to camp late that night. Though they were exhausted, mom and dad stayed up talking all night. They discovered they came from very similar families and had a lot in common.

By the time the two week adventure was over, my parents knew that they wanted to stay in touch. They began dating that summer and when they went back to their colleges, they kept in touch by writing letters.

Through the years, their friendship grew, and on December 30, 1982, they were married! I asked my parents today what the hardest and easiest years of their marriage were. They both agreed the first year was the hardest because of the adjustments and changes, but said that it gets easier and easier every year.

My parents have set such a great example for me and my brothers of what a godly marriage looks like. Of course no marriage is perfect, but my mom and dad have always strived to put God first in their marriage and that has given our family a happy and healthy foundation. I’ve been blessed to have such wonderful parents who love each other so much and allow God to lead them as a couple.

Happy 28th anniversary, mom and dad!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tarheel Traditions

For most people, Christmas begins and ends on December 25th. In our family, the 25th is just the beginning of a week-long celebration with family. It's my favorite week out of the whole year.

For over 20 years, our family has spent Christmas at "Tarheel Lodge," a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. When we pulled up to the snow covered lodge today, I was flooded with memories: Opening presents, playing with my cousins, hearing Papa tell stories, eating Grandmother's chocolate fudge, snowball many fun times!

Now that I live on the opposite side of the country, I treasure these moments with family more than ever before. What a blessing it is to be able to celebrate the birth of Jesus with my favorite people in such a serene, nostalgic place!

"the cousins" at Tarheel lodge with Grandmother and Papa about 19 years ago

Merry Christmas, friends!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Attic Treasures

When I was a little girl, we lived in a house that had a long attic closet that stretched across the side of the house. My bedroom had a door that led to the attic, so I created my own little hideout in the attic closet. I made a fort out of blankets and placed my stuffed animals all around to create a cozy corner to read and play.

To this day, when I come home one of my favorite things to do on a lazy day is look through the hidden things in our attic. Though we live in a different house now, I still ended up with the bedroom that connects to the attic. I like to go out there late at night when the rest of the family is sleeping and see what I can discover. I don’t know what it is that I love so much about attics. When I open up the attic door, it smells….old, and a little musty. But there’s something about that smell that I love. It brings back memories. When I’m on the floor in the attic looking through old keepsakes, it’s like I’m lost in time.

Tonight was one of those nights. I wiped the dust off of an antique trunk and as I opened it I was giddy with excitement. It probably wouldn’t be that exciting to anyone else, but the hippie spirit within me was overjoyed as I reached in and pulled out an old suede leather jacket that my mom wore when she was a teenager in the 70s. I tried it on and sure enough…it fits! Can’t wait to rock it.

I came across clothes I wore as a baby and letters my parents wrote to each other while they were dating (kinda makes today’s communication via facebook and texting seem a little less romantic!) My favorite find of the night was my “treasure box” from when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. This is a big wooden box my granddaddy made and painted for me for my birthday one year.

It’s been years since I looked through this thing. So long that the paint had melted and stuck to the wood so I had to pry it open. It’s funny the things you think are “treasures” when you’re a kid. I was reminded of what an odd, quirky kid I was (and still probably am) as I sifted through the contents of my beloved wooden box. Inside I found:

*a large stick
*lots of rocks and seashells
*pieces of carpet
*an altoid box with hardwood floor samples inside (?)
*locks of my own hair (I would save it after I got it cut)
*all of my baby teeth (along with a note from my mom to my dad which read: “Hey Babe! Would you put a dollar under Meredith’s pillow? She pulled a molar.” Guess that’s when I found out the tooth fairy looked a lot like my dad.)
*paper dolls
*a few happy meal toys
*an empty skittles wrapper (pretty sure it was from a boy I liked)

When I got to the bottom of the box and realized I had looked through all of my “treasures” I laughed a little. Those things were obviously special to me at one point in my life. However, now a candy wrapper, a stick, and locks of my own hair don’t seem like treasures to me.

I wonder if this is what it will be like when I get to heaven. I’ll look back on all the things I treasured on earth and chuckle. It all really is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, huh? Just a thought.

Okay, I’m off to find more treasures in my own little Narnia- my attic closet!