It’s a New Year! Yay!

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, and this year is no different.  But sometimes a resolution falls into your lap and it becomes yours providentially. That happened to me this year!

My dad is not doing well. His rheumatoid arthritis has affected his lungs in such a way that they are deteriorating at a rapid rate. Before Christmas, my sister and I had the extraordinarily rare privilege of sitting next to my dad as he gave us the eulogy he would like given at his funeral. And what did he have to say? Nothing I didn’t know really, and yet it was the beginning of a resolution for me. As I listened to my dad talk about his life, the one thing that he spoke about the most was his vocation. He was a teacher for about half of a century. It was the thing he was the most proud of in his life.

Fast forward to that night, I sat with a scrapbook in my hands. It contained my parents’ histories and ancestry. I read about my father’s ancestors with a newfound interest that I couldn’t manufacture if I tried. There was one sentence that jumped out at me and it read something like this, “John Darroch’s (my great grandfather’s) vocation was blacksmith, but his calling was preaching.”

On October 15th, 2007 I received a calling on my life. To minister to women. Since then, I have worked at trying to fulfill that calling through many ways. All of it has been rewarding, and yet none of it has been sustainable as a vocation. Over the course of this week, I have reached the conclusion that my calling does not need to be my vocation. I have a vocation. It is the same as my dad’s. It always has been. Even as a mom and as a women’s minister, I have always been teaching people. But it is time to start getting paid to do it again.

So, that’s it! I don’t know the timeline yet, and I am going to take it slow probably, but I am going to pursue the vocation of teaching again while I continue to pay special attention to my calling. Thanks dad! Once again, you’ve taught me something invaluable! Happy New Year! I believe it will be your sweetest one yet!!!

 

 

Hip-Hop Please Stop

Sooooooooo…I took a class today. A hip-hop exercise class. It was voluntary. No one forced me. But if you find that you lack humility, then this course is mandatory.

I strode to class in my black spandex with absolutely no butt sweat visible whatsoever. None. I left with a hemorrhoid, a headache and a nervous twitch over my right eye. Plus, I can never go to that gym again. I don’t mean I can’t go. I mean I shouldn’t go. Out of respect for myself.

We started out fairly easy and I thought to myself, “Aw, this isn’t so bad. I can hang. I wish it was only gonna be a thirty minute class, but I can do anything for an hour.” No, I can’t, by the way.

Half way through I was starting to write this blog in my head because humor was the ONLY way, and I do mean the only way, that I was gonna get through the next 25 minutes with my pride intact. Kudos to the 60 year old next to me who wore makeup to class. You go girl!

But anyway, I learned something in there today. I learn something everyday. It’s what makes life worth living to me. I learned that I can’t really dance anymore. Not hip-hop anyway. Things have changed. Dancing is different now than it was when I was young. I considered being sad that everything is harder now than it once was and that pelvic thrusting and hip gyrations don’t make me feel sexy, they make me feel inadequate. But then I decided not to be sad about it at all. Instead, I’m gonna laugh about it. And another thing, I’m probably not going to go to that class again. Not because I can’t or shouldn’t, but because it’s not what I like to do anymore. I have changed, just like dancing has changed. And that’s okay. Nowadays, I would rather sit on the couch and watch a movie with my boys or write in my journal or read an autobiography about an accomplished woman. Leave the hip-hop dancing to those who smile when they see their reflections instead of cringe. I’ll be the one on the couch encouraging those who find that this is their passion. You go girls!

Doughnut anyone?

Martians

There are little Martians that live in my house. Some might say my home is literally overrun with them. Boys! That’s the official name of these “other-than-me” things.

Here’s what just happened. Jackson, the middle one, came up with an idea. A contest! We went to the grocery store and bought the necessary items. Hot Taki chips. Bean-boozled Jelly Bellies. Eggs. That’s it!

The contest? Three rounds. It goes like this. First, you have to eat the super hot Taki chips. For round one you have to eat one. Round two-two. And so on, and so forth. They got to round ten. Their noses were running and they were all jumping in their chairs.

“Do they taste good?” I asked the oldest.

“No,” he replied while shaking his head.

“I don’t understand you. Why do you do this then?”

“To beat them!” He gestured in his siblings’ direction.

And there you have it! There it is! That is the language of the Martian! He is doing something that he hates just so that he can beat them!

The next part consists of eating terrible tasting jelly-bellies alongside of great tasting ones. The terrible ones are called Barf, Boogers, Rotten Eggs. You get the idea. Now, I have family who work for this company and they’ve told me that when they make these particular beans that the whole town can smell them from the factory. THAT’S HOW BAD THESE ARE! My kids have done this before and nearly vomited. I’m going to say that again in case you didn’t hear me. THEY’VE DONE THIS BEFORE AND NEARLY VOMITTED! But they intend to do it again as soon as their mouths aren’t on fire.

The last part consists of taking 6 raw eggs and 6 hard boiled eggs. Randomly, each child will select an egg and smash it on his head, hoping he gets a hard boiled one. Hoping.He.Gets.A.Hard-Boiled.One.

And that is the contest in its entirety. I do not speak Martian fluently, but my understanding is that the manliest one of the three of them will be left standing in the end. Here’s the problem. I believe there will be three left standing. That’s how bad they want this.

So, to all of the Martians everywhere…thanks for being who you are! I may not understand why you do the things you do, but this much I know: Life on Earth would be less interesting without you!

Winter

It’s been almost two years since he told me to just accept it. I flinched and flailed at first, since acceptance was the opposite of my methodology up until this point. Accepting depression seemed like a defeat. But he was right. I hate it when he is right! Accepting it was the ONLY thing I hadn’t tried.

I don’t call it depression anymore.  I call it winter.

Winter set in, albeit mildly, a day or two ago. So I laid in bed, recovering, feeling listless and lackluster. The laundry has formed into a heap, the stacks of paper are piled like snow on my desk, and the theater anxiously awaits my performance tonight. I took deep breaths. I focused on what my body was feeling. Then, I drifted to my thoughts, acknowledged them, and let them slide away. Eventually, I found myself floating in water. My breathing returned to its normal state. I decided I needed to let go of all my fear. Fear of life, fear of winter, fear of work, fear of purposelessness, fear of everything. I did that by allowing myself to sink down to the bottom of the watery place where I had been floating. But, I was only watching me. I wasn’t experiencing the sinking through my eyes. I was not envisioning the increase of the water over my head. Not seeing the sky up above getting farther and farther away. Wasn’t feeling the weight of my body sink. No sand behind my back or between my fingers. No, I just watched it. I disassociated. Not good enough, Meredith! That’s not letting go. Sink! Go there! Don’t be afraid! Don’t judge it! Just sink! So I did. And I kept breathing. No need to hold my breath. No need to fear. I just sank! And I was fine. I am fine.

The last two years have been a growing and humbling experience to say the least. Most importantly, I have learned that winter is not to be feared. It is part of my journey. Part of your journey. I can hold my breath, or I can breathe it in and experience it. I choose the latter! What about you? What are you afraid of?

It’s Almost Here

The house is quiet but for the noise in my heart that cannot, no must not, be silenced
It is the voice of winter
Almost a whisper, so faintly recorded
Ups and downs, the melody is impossible to forget
The whole world hums along
It is winter indeed and my heart is full
I have sat in winter for many a month
And I am no stranger to sorrow and sadness
But this time is different for I sit unafraid
Twinkling lights around
Soft breath caught in the air
Coldness wrapped around me like a blanket
And yet, I sit………….unafraid
Was it always this beautiful or did that just happen
The breaking of the boughs
The wood beneath the crackling fire
Echoes in soft chambers of my soul, deeper than my skin, retreating ever so slightly until recovered
I am in winter
And I am okay
For my joy cannot be stolen
It is mine…to have and to hold
A marriage of sorts, betrothed begrudgingly, but now finding love at long last
And I am fine
Let it be known
Winter is beautiful!

A Letter for the Coach

Hi George,

My reason for writing today is first and foremost to thank you for the role you are playing in Benjamin’s life right now. A coach is so important to a boy’s growth and development, and we could not have asked for a better one than you.  You are shaping and molding our son in ways that my husband and I are incapable of doing. It means the world to us, so THANK YOU!!

Secondly, I wanted to give you a little bit of information about Benjamin.  Benjamin was diagnosed with ADHD and a communication disorder and was labeled “mildly mentally retarded” at age four. Dietary changes eradicated his ADHD, and a more recent evaluation called him a “slow learner.”  He does still have a communication disorder though. Which means, if you are talking to him and it looks as though he is staring straight through you, it is probably because he does not understand what you are saying. The simplest terms and the smallest words and A LOT of encouragement are precisely what he needs to be successful anywhere, especially on the football field.

I do not pretend to believe that my son has any talents or skills that give him an edge in football yet.  On the contrary, I think he is bested by many or most of the players out there. But I do believe it is likely that no one out there has more heart for this game than him. Benjamin walks, talks, sleeps, eats and dreams FOOTBALL. For weeks, he would re-play the Pro Bowl on our DVR and would watch it by himself. Every morning he shuffles out of his room with disheveled hair and asks me or tells me something about the game. This morning he wanted me to show him the standings and the schedule on the Grid Iron website. He regularly asks when his next practice is and what time his game is on Saturday. He spends hours outside everyday playing by himself or with us. This morning, I came into the bathroom to listen to the shower song he was composing at the top of his lungs. The lyrics were, “And then you run and run as fast as you can, until you get a touchdown!” There were many more verses, but you get the point!  🙂

The main reason I am writing today is because I see a large discrepancy in what Benjamin does here at the house and what he does on the field. Just to give you an idea, his nickname at home is “Wolverine.” Wolverines are vicious little animals, and so is Benjamin. He plays dirty! And I do mean dirty! But as soon as he steps onto a practice field or the Grid Iron field, he becomes someone less than who he was designed to be. He holds himself back. No amount of coaching from us seems to help him. And that is my concern! In order for his skills to catch up to his heart, I believe his heart needs to first be unleashed on the field. I wish I knew how to do this for him, but I honestly do not have the answer. But I trust that equipping you with all of this information will allow you to better help him going forward. Together I believe we can see miracles happen in this boy’s life…and after all, that’s what it is all about, right?

Thank you again for your time and dedication to this team. You are making a difference in our son’s life and we will forever be grateful!

Sincerely yours,
Meredith

R.I.P Kevin

Seven years ago today, my brother, Kevin, lay his head down in the backseat of a car and went to sleep for the last time. The garage was closed and the car was left running. He had had enough of the noise inside his head. His body died, but his spirit went elsewhere.

It travelled several miles away, where his three daughters soundly slept. The oldest, Zoe, was just five at the time. In the wee hours of the morning, when the shocking news came via the phone, Zoe asked if her daddy was dead.

“Why do you ask, honey?” asked her mom.

“Because daddy came here in the middle of the night.”

“He did?” Well, what did daddy say?”

“He said he loved me and he said, ‘Thank you, Zoe.’”

But his spirit didn’t stop there either. He went somewhere bigger. Somewhere better. Somewhere I have never been.

“I know where I’m going when I die, Meredith,” he told me over a year before he finally committed suicide. He was sure. I was not.

But now I am.

I know he went there because I have seen him since. Not with my physical eyes, but in my mind’s eye. It was last spring, in my backyard. With music playing softly in my ears, my mind wandered to nothingness. I was content being there. Alone. Until…there he stood. We were somewhere magical. He stood facing me. Then, he cupped my face in his hands. And finally, he said the words my soul longed to hear.

“It wasn’t your fault.”

I had believed it was my fault he took his life. I had built an airtight case in my head and handed down a guilty verdict long ago. No amount of witnesses or therapists could sway the judgment…save one. And that is exactly who God sent. From heaven. To declare me innocent and give me my life back.

And so he came to me, in a vision of sorts. I had never experienced anything like it before and I hope never to need to in the future. But it healed me. It healed me! God healed me!!