For everyone living with the best of intentions.

I don’t know how or when it started, but I’ve certainly mastered the art of un-intentionality. As if I’m intentionally living with the best of intentions that never come to be.

The stack of books I have had every intention of finishing…or at least starting. That would be a start.

The upstairs attic that needs to be purged to make room for our growing toddler who deserves a room void of a washer, dryer and gun safe. A girl needs a real bedroom and there is one waiting. Waiting for me to clean it out and clean up this too full life of mine.

The flower beds that are more weeds than flowers these days, being choked out like the pressure on this conscious of mine suffocating with guilt.

The endless pile of clothes that ebb and flow and diminish and grow like these emotions that march in like a lion and roll out like a lamb.

The old corn crib that was to be storage building that instead sits on a trailer for the second spring because it’s too wet, then too dry, then time to make hay and no time to make way.

A week post-vacation and my son is still living out of his duffel bag that just gets filled back up and depleted again. What’s the use of putting the clothes in a drawer, anyway?

What’s the use, anyway?

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Our best intentions get the best of us.

The best part of our day. The best part of our soul. The best part of me that’s aching to be the best part for them.

The will-dos and should-haves keep us grounded in the past and dreading the future. Forgetting all we have is the here and now.

Living out-of-presence in the present is the norm these days. We long for the promise of tomorrow and live in the regret of the past.

Instead of living in the now, we get stuck in the when or lost in the then.

It’s time for us to get intentional about today.

It’s time to say “no” to what’s not important, to have time to say “yes” to what is. So we will have the time and energy to say “yes” to Who is important.

I know the clothes will keep piling up, the books will still be stacked, the room will be busting at the seams and the day lilies will get lost in the wire grass, BUT they don’t have to. I don’t have to be unintentional. I have a choice. 

There is freedom in the choosing. There is Grace in our freedom.

There is a way out of our un-intentions. His name is Jesus.

He gives grace for the best of intentions that never come to be. And He gives us freedom to choose a different way than where we find ourselves today.

Living in the present isn’t impossible. It’s necessary. And by His grace we can make it back to where we really are in the first place.

Here and now. It’s all we have.

Our kids need us here. now.
Our families need us here. now.
The lost need us here. now.
Jesus needs us here. now.

It’s not impossible to be here. now. It’s necessary. And liberating to find ourselves where we’ve been all along.

Graciously,
Meredith

 “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.”
Romans 11:5

What’s on your list of “best intentions” that you haven’t gotten done…? I’d love to hear…and know I’m not alone. 🙂

I’m honored to be linking-up with my friend Katie Reid for #inspireandgrow today. Link your own inspirational post following her instructions here: (http://www.echoesofmyheart.com/2/post/2014/04/1.html).

The {glue} that holds us all together.

It was raining that afternoon. The hardest I could remember ever driving through. And in a matter of an hour the rain would be an exact mirror to my tear streaked face and washed out insides as I met my new reality.

She was fifty years old and six months retired. She was my mother. And she was the glue that held our family together.

She wasn’t supposed to die in her sleep from a massive heart attack. Alone. My dad out of town. Me either upstairs getting ready for work or in the kitchen drinking the coffee she got up to make me or on my way to work or already at work. Either way, she was alone. And we were now alone. And our family glue was gone.

But in the midst of those days that stripped our souls bare after her death, there was another glue that worked His way into our family unit and took hold. Fast. Strong. Steady. Jesus.

I imagine the same torrential rain fell from the sky as the world came unglued those moments He hung lifeless on those splintered pieces of wood fashioned in a cross pointing to the heavens.

Those who had just murdered Him now realizing maybe, just maybe, He was the Messiah after all as they watched their sacred temple literally torn in two. The thunder. The lightening. The fury as all hell was poured out in blood and water from his broken and beat body.

Hell he endured for me and for you. The glue that holds the world together. And me. And you.

Jesus. The only glue that can hold us together when our world comes unglued. And it has and it does and it will. Until we are whole with Him in glory.

I weep to think how many sins of my own He suffered for that dark day. I weep to think how they were all washed away when He conquered death and held fast to His promises as He always does. Always did. Always will.

My hope stands fast in the One who holds me fast. My Cornerstone. My solid rock. My redeemer. My rescuer. My glue.

In Remembrance of Him,
Meredith

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**Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and a slew of other talented writers for Five Minute Friday on this special Friday of Holy Week. Tonights prompt was {glue}.

 

For all the in-betweens

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Some days it seems I’m in-between more than anywhere.
In-between here and in-between there.

In-between who I was and who I want to be.
In-between where I’ve been and where I now see.

In-between dreams that have died and those just born.
In-between drop-offs, pick-ups and mess-ups galore.

In-between bedtimes that take too long and mornings that come too soon,
In-between the starry sky and bright side of the moon.

In-between great losses and bountiful gains.
In-between parched dryness and soul-quenching rain.

In-between should-have, could-have and would-haves if known.
In-between all the ways that show me I’ve grown.

In-between the girl of my youth and the woman she thought she’d be.
In-between the dreams of her past and ever present reality.

In the in-between is where I find myself these days.
And I’m starting to realize that is ok.

It’s ok to be where God’s put me to grow.
If that’s stuck in-between, then I’ll wait for the “go.”

Truth be known: life’s all one big in-between,
In-between the beginning, the end and eternity.

If the in-between’s are all we have, there really is no doubt,
We must make the most of all of them before our time runs out.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”- Solomon, (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday | {writer}

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and the gang for another Five Minute Friday to just write. Unedited, unscripted. Real. Raw. Words.

Today’s prompt is {writer}. Ok, I’ll take that. 😉

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START

As a girl, I always wanted to be a singer. One halloween I was Tina Turner. The hair and all. No. Joke. I cannot lie, I’m a soul sister through and through.

For those of you that don’t know me, this was a far fetched dream. This girl does love to sing. Loud and proud. But it’s better suited for showers and trucks with windows rolled down and in the midst of other loud voices along with our church praise team.

This recent dream of being a writer has seemed just as far fetched. My soul has felt this stirring of words needing a place to land for quite some time. Taking the next step is always the hardest part for me. I’m a professional dreamer. Not a professional doer.

So when I finally took the plunge and started this blog after church almost three months ago I didn’t even know what it meant. Other than I was going to explode or implode or otherwise be a big mess if I didn’t get out what was welling up in me.

So I wrote. And I’ve kept writing. And as long as God gives me the words and a desire and a way, I will continue to write.

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I may never be considered by anyone else to be a “writer,” and I’m ok with that. Well, actually, I’m not ok. I would love to write a book one day and then maybe officially be considered a “writer.” Until then, I’ll blog. And maybe finally take the leap of faith to submit an article or devotional or something somewhere. The next big unknown hurdle to jump over. Breathe.

And I thank you for keeping this dream alive. Thank you for reading and relating to these words that spill up and out and fall from my fingertips to this keyboard that has become my long lost friend. My Mac and I have a love-hate relationship. Like my bangs.

Thanks for listening again to a fairly short post about my new love and new dream to be a {writer}. Can’t wait to see where God leads…

Graciously,
Meredith

STOP

(Yep, that was probably a few minutes more than five again today. I had to help a little girl go potty and cook her a yellow egg.)

DON’T MISS THESE WORDS…Lisa-Jo has a new book. And it’s for anyone who has a mom or is a mom or may be a mom one day…”Surprised by Motherhood” is taking the world by storm. Amazon wasn’t prepared. They sold out on Day 1. Yep, I don’t lie when I say something is good. Here’s my full review and information on where to order is here. And the link to the movie trailer for the book is here. Enjoy! Oh, and get tissues. For the book and the trailer. And a pen and a hi-liter. And you’re welcome. 😉

Lisa-Jo Baker

Five Minute Friday | {Mighty}

Here we are again…another Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker and the gang. She prompts, we write. Five minutes (give or take…give a little for me usually), real, raw words. Short. Sweet. Hopefully. 😉 Enjoy!

{mighty}

Big word, mighty is. Well, not a really big word, but it means big. Right?

Powerful. Strong. Brave. Willing. Mighty.

Well tonight I don’t feel very powerful. strong. brave. willing. or mighty.

Sometimes we have minutes, days, weeks, years that suck the life right out of us and leave us anything but mighty. Much less than mighty.

And then the thought of the Mighty One comes to mind.

The One who gave me this life. To live free.

He never meant it to be about me. My wants. My needs. My desires. My might.

He gave me this life to be about Him. His will. His love. His ways. His Might.

Jesus died in humility so that in three days His Might would be revealed and never questioned again.

When He died and rose again, His Might took over for my failings. As a person. As a parent. As a wife. As a friend.

In His Might, I can prevail. Not because I am. Because He is. The Great I Am.

No matter what gives you the thought you are un-mighty today, there is One whose Might can fill that void.

It’s not up to us to be what He wants to be for us. What He’s already proved He can do in us. If we let Him.

We have a mighty call alright. To stop the fight and give into His Might. 

Your Mighty Mess,
Meredith

And if you have a mother, know a mother or “am” a mother…don’t miss Lisa-Jo’s book “Surprised by Motherhood.” I’ll never be the same for reading it. And I’ll recommend it to every woman I know. Mother or not. Get it here now. Go. Now. You’ll be sending me chocolate because you love it that much. (Vanilla Lindt preferred. Thanks!)

Home like collards and Granny.

The knot in my gut is twisting tighter as her breath draws shallow. I just spoke to her on the phone and could only muster an “I love you, Granny” when there were a million other words that wanted to come out, but couldn’t find there way past the knot. So I come to this keypad that has become my solace when the words won’t come out of my mouth and need to just come from my soul. The cursor blinks expectantly for words of hope and encouragement and I don’t have them today. Only a knot. And memories.

The smell of collards cooking makes some people wince, but to me it smells like home. Just like the embrace of that round white-haired woman cooking them. Like home. In that kitchen with the metal cabinets and washer and dryer and small table all fit neat on the end of that big white farm house that leaned a little downhill on the edge of a potato field in flat eastern North Carolina.

Granddaddy was a potato farmer and his Naomi knew how to cook those round white spuds perfectly mixed in with that greasy pot liquor. That’s not some kind of alcoholic drink, it’s what the juice from cooked collards is referred to in eastern NC where this woman who hugged like home lived and raised three girls and took her care of farmer husband.

Between Granny’s collards and homemade biscuits with a side of her insatiable and all-too-often embarrassing jokes, stomachs and souls would be filled. Filled with goodness that comes from hard work and a simple life and not taking yourself too seriously, the world does enough of that for you.

Summers were spent at our slice of the only heaven we knew along the Pamlico River. My brother and cousins and I would stay weeks with our Grandparents and there would be plenty of jokes and swimming and collards. Granny would pile us in the Pontiac and we’d travel the 30 miles to the Moose Lodge to play Bingo alongside her with her 20 cards taped together and three bags of ink dobbers. There were lucky charms and cigarette smoke and pepsi’s enough to float a boat and make some grandchildren feel like they had been to town in the grandest way.

There were nap time rituals that involved her rendition of “Michael Finnagan” that my children now request over and over until I’m out of breath and blue in the face. There was the snore game where she would pretend to snore ten times and on number ten we better be asleep, or at least pretend like it.

Those were the days. Memories too many to name with a woman too loved to put in words.

Last August I piled the kids and myself in my ford for the ten hour trek to Florida where Granny now lives between her two daughters homes. We shared a week of the same jokes I’ve heard for thirty-five years and they were as funny as the first time they tickled my ears. Granny was turning ninety and there would be too many new memories to miss if we didn’t attempt the trip. So we went. And we shared a week that I wouldn’t trade for a plate full of Granny’s collards and potatoes.

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If one has ever exemplified a life lived in joy, this woman has. She didn’t have it easy. Her soul and her body has known it’s share of loss. From losing a breast to cancer and other parts I can’t even name to so many surgeries I can’t begin to count, her body knows loss. From losing a husband after almost fifty years of tending to him daily with lunch at eleven thirty and supper at five o’clock and losing a daughter that mothered me after having her for a short fifty years, her soul knows loss.

She is a survivor and I think a part of me thought that meant she would live…longer. Ninety years is a long time. A good long time. But is it ever long enough for those left behind? The writing appears to be on the wall as much as on this screen, but I know God will take her when He’s ready and not a minute sooner.

This may mean we get to celebrate ninety-one years with her here. And it may mean we celebrate here without her.

The sweetest part of her story is that she knows her Savior…and He knows her. She is at peace with her life and though she would rather stay to see her grands another day, she is at peace if she doesn’t. She knows where she’s going and I’m sure my mama will be happy to see her mama again. In perfect form. And even more than that, she is most likely closer than us to spending the rest of her life praising the Lord. Literally praising the Lord.

So when we do lay her body to rest under the pines next to that small brick Methodist church where she poured her heart and children into, we will do it rejoicing in the promise her soul will not be at rest, but resurrected and rejoicing, along side her Savior.

I find peace in that. My knot is starting to loosen as her breath may remain shallow…but ever closer to being swept up in Glory and the sweet release.

She told me tonight in her sweet, weak voice that she loved me more than I loved her…in tears I disagreed. But then again, who is going to tell this ninety year old woman what is right and what is wrong. She’s closer to Heaven than me and if she wants to think she loves me more, I’ll let her.

It’s not about loving more or less anyway, it’s just about knowing this kind of love. Between a girl and her Granny. I’ve had two sent from God and He’s close to bringing the second one Home. Leaving a void in this motherless mother that’s soon to be grandmother-less, too.

I’ve had more than some ever get. More of a mother for twenty-one years, more of two grandmothers in thirty-five and more love all together than some know in a lifetime. I’m not complaining. I’m just grieving. And rejoicing at the same time. And yes, that is possible.

Graciously,
Meredith

 

Big or Small. It’s all the Same.

Somedays I need to know that the small stuff in my life matters as much as the big stuff. And sometimes my small stuff seems bigger to me than it would to you. But knowing all my stuff is big to God brings solace.

Really, all our stuff matters to God. No matter how big or small it is to us. No matter how big or small it is to someone else. 

He actually tells us to bring it Him. No matter what it is. He doesn’t just say to tell Him about it, He actually says to THROW it on Him. How’s that for a God that cares?

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV)

God doesnt want us to hold onto our problems, knowing we can do nothing about them. The longer we hold them, the more they become us. The more they take over our lives and our heart and our soul. 

Instead, God wants us to not only bring, but FLING, our problems on Him. That’s what that word cast means in the Greek. To fling, hurl or toss and to do it quickly. God doesn’t want us holding onto our problems for more than a second. He wants us to step out of our problems and give them to Him to wear. He can wear them a lot easier than we can.

God wants to own our problems, instead of our problems owning us.

No matter the size of our bucket of rocks, God’s bucket is bigger. 

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I can tell you my problems and you can listen and not be able to really do anything about them. And sometimes that’s really a great comfort. Just being able to speak the problem. Give it life. And get it out. But does that really solve anything? In the end, usually not.

We actually have Someone available to us that not only wants to hear our problems, He wants to TAKE our problems from us. And the best part is, He is actually able to do something about them. How’s that for a God that loves?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV)

Draw near. Yeah, that’s easier said than done somedays. Either we see our problems as too small to bring to such a big God or we are so engulfed in the enormity of our problems, we can’t see through the fog to make it to the throne. Ever been there?

I have. I’ve been in both places. Small problems too trivial to bother anyone, let alone God, with. And problems so big I can’t get out of bed and stop crying to find my way to my knees or my bible. And what would I say or read when I got there?

Look at that verse in Hebrews again. It says we have a God that gets it. He’s been there and felt that. Jesus experienced every emotion and hurt we could ever or will ever endure. And we are promised that if we draw near to His mercy seat, we will find grace and help.

Grace and help. Those are two beautiful words to a soul in need of them. And in the midst of whatever your situation, you can always identify the moment you need these. You may not know how to get them, but you always know when you need them.

Well here is a reminder. These two things, Grace and Help, are always available to the children of the Living God. The great Grace-Giver. The only source of true Help in the midst of our troubles. Big or Small. It’s all the Same.

Graciously,
Meredith

Five Minute Friday | {Joy}

Five minutes. Unfiltered. Unedited. Real. Raw. Words. Joining up with the awesomely awesome mama/blogger/author/friend Lisa-Jo Baker and many more awesomely awesome bloggers for Five Minute Friday.

Today’s prompt is “Joy.”

START

When I hear the word “joy” I think immediately of that song I sung as a child in Sunday School. Sitting at that miniature table on those little wooden seats with names of the older church kids carved in them. Surrounded by those white cinder block walls and felt board and posters holding my little white bible engraved with my name in silver.

That song about “Joy, Joy, Joy…down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart…to stay.”

Where did that joy come from? Where did it go?

All those years singing about it and learning about it and never really finding it. Not real joy.

Sure there were good days. Lots of good days. A great childhood. Loving family. In those little wooden seats every time the door opened…singing about joy. But where was it?

It was where it always has been. In my heart. I just had to find it. I had to seek the One who put it there and give Him the opportunity to let it flow.

I was thirty years old before I ever really did that. Gave my heart to Him so He could let the joy come in. And go out.

I still find it hard to find the joy some days. Today. In the midst of should have beens and used to be’s and would have if’s…the joy can get lost.

But it’s still there. If we seek Him, He promises we will find Him. And where He is there is Joy.

And if He’s in us and we are IN HIM, we have joy.

We choose Jesus. We choose Joy.

That’s simple enough for this simple girl to get. When I don’t have joy it’s because I haven’t chosen it.

It’s in me. I just have to fight for it more some days than others.

Choose Jesus. Choose Joy.

Graciously,
Meredith

STOP (well…that may have been a few minutes more than 5…I won’t lie. :\ )

Thank you for choosing to stop by today. I would be truly joyful if you would take a moment to say “Hi” in the comments!
Blessings,
Meredith

 

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Five Minute Friday | {Crowd}

Linking up with the fabulous Lisa-Jo Baker and the “crowd” again this week for Five Minute Friday. Five minutes of pure, unadulterated, no-edit, get-it-out-there, real and raw writing. There is a pre-party every Thursday night at #fmfparty that is a blast…if you can stay awake. Which I never seem to be able to do. Enjoy. 😉

This week’s prompt is “CROWD”…Here we go.

BEGIN

Have you ever been that face in the crowd? The one that isn’t sure of it’s own existence, much less what it means in the midst of so many other faces?

I have. Been there. Recently.

I would have said I was secure. Secure enough in  my own identity for it to not matter what the crowd said or thought or didn’t say or think. I’m a tough girl. I’m good in my own skin. Until the other night.

Really, this is ridiculous. I like people. I’m not an introvert. Really. Although there does seem to be much more freedom flowing from these fingertips, than from my timid soul when put in a crowd. Yeah, so my kids caught on to that, too.

They hovered close. Clinging to legs. Not letting go for fear the crowd might swallow them up.

It didn’t. Didn’t swallow them…or me. In fact, we found some new friends after we settled in for the night.

That’s what happens with fear, isn’t it?

Once we overcome fear, fear doesn’t overcome us. 

There’s a message in there, somewhere. I don’t have time to unpack it today. Maybe another. I did talk about fear and grace here, though.

That’s five minutes and this is hard to not want to go back and revise and edit and make longer and stronger.

That’s the fear in me. If I put this out there without the edit and extra words I may miss some “likes” and “shares” and comments. That’s ok, though. I’m sticking with the crowd this time.

Graciously In Him,
Meredith

STOP

An aside…I’m so glad that no matter what crowd I’m in, no matter how small I feel at times, there is only One who determines my true worth. As a Daughter of the King, I’m considered Beloved and complete…in Him. In Christ Alone. 

Wringing out what we pour in.

This mama saw her moment of reprieve and she took it. All 120 seconds of it.

I sat down in my back yard on that one patch of new green grass that was dry enough not to soak through my already dirty britches and just soaked it in. I looked at my muddy two-sizes too big muck boots stuck out there like the boats my feet are and thought how great it was to just sit after all that digging and bending over. And how glad I was to see the sun. So much wet, so much snow, so much cold. And now to see and feel the sun again.

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The sun. I hadn’t seen it in so long I almost forgot what it looked like. What it felt like. How warm and sweet that big ball of light felt on my tired face and closed eyes.

I was having a moment. A quiet, sun-soaked moment. And I wasn’t alone.

I  felt His presence. I even whispered for Him to come. I knew it wouldn’t last long, but I knew it was special.

As the suns rays warmed my face, I sensed His Spirit speak to my soul. That bright light that I couldn’t open my eyes to see was like my God. So bright I could never look on Him and live, and in the same instance His light is what keeps me alive.

It was as if He was saying, “Soak me up, Meredith.”

Soak Him up.

I need to spend time soaking Him up if I ever hope to wring Him out.

I can only wring out what I’ve soaked up in the first place. That dirty dish rag I keep meaning to change and finally do when it actually starts to stink or feel slimy, is full of what it’s been soaking up. This week that’s been plates of mashed potatoes, gravy and old peas my three-year old says she “wants when she wants them” and when she doesn’t come back for them an hour later they get washed off with that rag. That rag that’s been soaking up all of the junk in my sink.

That’s my soul. Soaking up whatever I put in it. And that’s what gets rung out.

Junk in means junk out. Grace in means grace out.

In those short moments soaking up the sun I realized I needed to be soaking up more of the Son.

It was over as quick as it started. I heard a plea for mama…where did I go? They just needed to know where I was. There is that need, to just know where their mama is. That sense of security a child needs to feel secure in their own skin. Even in the place they call home and feel most comfortable. Always needing their mama or daddy’s presence to feel secure.

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I’m the same way. I need to know my Father is with me, too. And today He reminded me.

He’s with me. Even if I don’t see Him or always feel Him. He’s here.

The Son is always shining, even if I don’t see Him.

I need to soak Him up whenever I can, so I’ll have Him to pour out on these littles. And their father. And all others I come in contact with.

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God grant me the ability to soak up more of You than what this world is throwing down.

And let me remember You are always there for me to take in even when I don’t see you or feel you.

With arms open for your daughter. There’s graceful arms open for this muddy daughter’s muddy soul today.

And there are arms open for the muddy soul reading this. We could all stand to soak up a little Son today, couldn’t we?

Graciously,
Meredith