Things I’ll Miss

I’ve been so caught up in my future plans that I haven’t really sat back and enjoyed the everyday things…the little moments of my life that won’t exist when I move to Peru in a week. In an effort to better remember these things, I’m sharing some of them today.

As days go by, I find myself thinking, “this could be the last time I’m here,” or “this could be the last time I eat this.” It’s kind of sad, not going to lie, but I’m so mentally ready for the big change next week, that I haven’t really been emotional over any of my “lasts.”

- taking my dad to work at 6am and stopping for $1 coffees

- coming home and little Max running to the door, tail wagging, so excited to see me

- listening to Pandora any time I want

- being able to drive 3 minutes up the road to the grocery store when I’m missing an ingredient for a recipe (like the one time I didn’t have any oats to make chocolate chip oat cookies…)

- driving in general

- raiding my parent’s medicine cabinet, fridge, and pantry to find anything I need

- feeding the big dogs and getting covered in dog hair

- sending and receiving snail mail

- watching Jeopardy

- favorite meals : Pad Thai from Chai’s Noodle Bar. Pepperoni & mushroom pizza from Randy’s. Hibachi chicken from Koumi. Pulled pork sandwich from the Q Shack. Chicken pupusa from Los Comales. (Clearly, I’m going to miss food!)

- trips to Target

- taking a hot bath

- a clothes dryer (hello world of hanging clothes up to dry!)

- hot, summer weather on my birthday

- my little cousins. Love spending time with them & enjoying trips to the museum!

- Durham Bulls games

- the quiet at night, and being able to hear the owls outside my window

- thunderstorms & rainstorms

- watching old movies on TCM

- my room at home… took me years to get it painted, organized, & decorated just right. I’m going to miss my room and its tranquility!

IMG_8782

IMG_9028

IMG_9318

IMG_9530 IMG_9867IMG_9364

 IMG_9873

blog signature

On Long Distance Relationships

Back in college when I was separated from my then-boyfriend of seven months, I dreaded the summer when we would spend two months apart and be separated by two state lines. I thought for sure it would be the worst summer ever without being able to communicate or see each other everyday like we had throughout the school year. While the turn of events that summer eventually led to the breakdown of our relationship, the distance wasn’t as difficult at the time as I expected it to be. I actually enjoyed the summer spent apart.

Fast forward four years and add three thousand miles distance between me and my very significant other and that’s where I am right now…

In a long distance relationship.

Let me just say that it is much more difficult that I anticipated. It is much tougher than that silly summer during college. This relationship is much more serious than anything I’ve ever experienced before, and the distance makes it that much harder.

I remember leaving Lima back in September, after we had decided that God was leading us into a relationship together. I cried and cried, not knowing when I would be back in his arms and able to talk to him face-to-face. All throughout that flight I dreaded landing on US soil because I knew it meant I would be three thousand miles away from my love. Oh, thinking back to those first few days in the States still tugs at my heart.

We have gone seven months having to match schedules, snag Internet (in his case) from a local mall, and go weeks without any form of communication, even on holidays.

It has been the hardest thing I’ve had to go through in my short life.

Our situation is a lot different from other long distance relationships. We’re in different countries, on different continents, in different time zones (by one hour, but still!), have different patterns of life. He travels for weeks on end, and I work a typical 40-hour a week job. He doesn’t have Internet unless he’s in a public place with free wifi, and I have Internet all the time. Factor all those things in together, and you get one very limited relationship.

In February we were reunited for a short time (10 days) and it was so wonderful to have that time together, getting to know each other more, and visit orphanages and camps. After so many months apart, February really sealed the deal and confirmed in our hearts that this long distance relationship was going to work out in the end. (And with a ring it was made official!) I know most couples in long distance only go a few weeks before seeing each other, but we went five months!

We haven’t been able to talk everyday, or even every week. But what we lack in communication with each other, we thrive in communication with Him. Both of us have grown so much as followers of Christ the past months, and it has been so encouraging to see each other grow spiritually through our relationship. We know without a doubt that the Lord has been preparing us, and saving us for marriage to one another, and that is such a blessing.

I am so happy to say that in ONE WEEK our long distance relationship is going to end! We still won’t see each other all the time if he’s traveling, but we will be in the same city and the same neighborhood! I can’t wait to actually be a normal couple and not have 3,000 miles between us anymore.

An old adage says, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” and I am a firm believer of that. Being separated made me realize how much I love JB and how much I want to experience life with him. My heart has been stretched in two places these past seven months, and in just a week it’s going to be back in one place…Peru.

I know there have been lots of others who have survived a long distance relationship, and I want to hear about your experience! Was it beneficial, or torture to be separate by many miles? Did distance make your heart grow fonder of your significant other?

blog signature

Love Story

In February, following our engagement, JB and I started working on our love story to post on our Knot wedding website. Call me a romantic, but I am so excited to share a brief overview of our love story today, along with his version and my version :)

anibal1

His Story ::

It was April 2013 and I was on one of my many trips I had planned for the year serving with some short term missionaries including Mr. David R. We had fun just sharing life and sharing the Good News and for some reason he (Mr. R) mentioned his daughter might be coming to Peru for a short time in a few months. He suggested I should get in touch with someone named Meredith R. I wondered to myself what is this guy planning? So I did… I found a Meredith R on Facebook expecting her to be the right one and sent her a message! To my surprise a few days later she replied. And so we met technologically, online! For a while we emailed and Facebooked lots back and forth. And I felt such a connection with someone 3,000 miles away. I started praying and asking God if there was gonna be a chance to meet this strange someone or if He would let us come together and if He would work things out to be together, it would be chevere “cool.”

Some time after we starting talking, she mentioned she was coming to Peru and yep, I got excited to finally meet this strange someone but I have a different perspective on dating online and long distance relationships just from past experiences, so I was not giving more hope to meet her. It was July and I was enjoying my travels. By this time I was just enjoying my time in Mexico… actually I had the chance to not come back to Peru. But I thought God has a plan and He made me come back to Lima, Peru. I took my return flight back to Lima and then the next morning I was supposed to pick up this group and guide them to the high country. And in the group was Meredith R… now I had just woken up from a 12- hour trip back from Mexico and I was exhausted and I hardly remember meeting her except she said “hi” and I replied “hey” with a burger in my hand that Mr. R had for me! And I was busy trying to help the team leader with some paperwork. What a way to meet your someone special! But after that, everything went along the right path that I believe the Lord led us on.

meredith

Her Story ::

Padre (my dad) had just returned from a mission trip to Peru and I was so excited to hear all about it. He told us stories of the trip and kept mentioning this “JB” guy who was an interpreter. Padre said JB was fun, crazy, a good guy, and tall! I was curious about who this “JB” guy was, but didn’t think about it too much. Shortly thereafter, I got a Facebook message from an extremely handsome Peruvian named Anibal, who turned out to be JB! We started talking online in between his trips/when he had Internet, and while I was really interested in him and we shared a lot of the same passions, I was sure he had a girlfriend he wasn’t telling me about!

Fast forward to August 1st when our mission team is in Lima about to head up to the high country. I knew Anibal was going to be one of our interpreters and I was really excited to meet him finally! I remember it was not at all like I had imagined it would be, and Anibal definitely had a hamburger in his hand when we met in person! Throughout the week with the group and our interpreters, Anibal and I didn’t talk that much, but when we did, he always had me laughing or wishing we had more time to talk. At the end of the week the group left, and I stayed in the mountains for another month. I didn’t want anyone to leave me, but I especially didn’t want Anibal to leave! After he left, I couldn’t stop thinking about him, so I was constantly praying for him. When we both admitted that we were interested in getting to know each other more, it felt so right. We weren’t embarassed to share our feelings because I think we both knew how the other person felt. At one point, we had a chance to sit and talk about life and the future, and we knew that God had led us to each other and to that moment where we decided to pursue a relationship.

We officially started dating in September, after having communicated with each other since April, and having met just the previous month. A lot of people were shocked we “jumped in” to something that serious that quickly… but when you’ve spent so long pursuing God’s will and what He wants for your life, and He brings someone along who so perfectly complements you and makes you a better person… you know it’s right! Our relationship has been characterized by prayer and trusting in God since the beginning, and we know He’s going to continue to lead us in the future. Long-distance has been extremely tough at times, but overall it’s been a blessing that we have continued to grow in our faith and grow closer to each other!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We are so happy & thankful for how God brought us together!

blog signature

 

 

Jealousy

If I were to sit and have an open & honest conversation with you today, there’s one topic I would probably bring up… jealousy.

It’s not a topic or occasional trait I’m fond of, but every now and then it rears its little head into my heart and life.

As of late, I’ve been preparing for my move overseas. The preparation has included buying things to furnish an apartment and life overseas… dishes, towels, sheets, medicines, tampons, etc. (because some things are just better quality & price in the States.) My engaged life is totally untraditional and opposite from what I always pictured… having wedding showers, having people help furnish an apartment with kitchen essentials and other home items, having get-togethers with friends and family all the time… instead I’m scrambling to pack everything I can into huge duffel bags to be toted off to Lima. It’s crazy.

Gotta say I’m a little jealous of all the people who are able to have wedding showers and get the things they need, but I’m also jealous of the people who are able to get married in their own country. This whole moving overseas & getting married thing is stressful, and I’m jealous of those who don’t have to deal with so much stress!

Also as of late, my fiance has been traveling with lots of mission groups and hanging out with his amigos. Being totally honest here, I want you to know that I’m jealous of all these people. I’m jealous they get to spend time with him, talk to him daily, grab lunch together, laugh with him, and get to serve alongside him. I’m jealous that I’m not there. I’m jealous of all this time I’m not able to spend with him because of distance… all the things I’m missing out on in life.

These jealous feelings I have been feeling lately have reminded me that I serve a jealous God. He wants my attention, worship, thoughts, prayers, time, etc.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3, ESV

And it’s been like a punch to the gut to realize that I’ve been putting a lot of my attention, worship, thoughts, prayers, time, etc into things other than Him. I’ve had other gods. I’ve been so focused about the big changes about to come up, that I haven’t focused on His Word and studied it like I should have. I’ve been so focused on the fact that I’m missing out on so much in Peru, that I haven’t taken advantages of things here at home. I’ve given into the feelings of stress and anxiety instead of talking to Him about them and asking for His Almighty help during this time.

I know jealousy is wrong, but sometimes I think it’s ok to be jealous because it reminds me of God’s jealousy, and how I need to put selfish things aside and focus on Him. It’s something I’m working on ridding my from head and heart, because I would much rather be walking with Him, than walking in my own stressful , worldly ways. Does any of that make sense to anyone other than this scatter-brained chica?

I guess I’m just curious as to what others do to handle jealousy?

When do you realize it’s a problem and you need to refocus on what’s truly important?

 woods

The Dress

I’m getting married in 87 days. Crazy, right?!

Usually as soon as women get engaged and set a date, they start the wedding planning. And it seems like 90% of the time, the first thing women do is buy a dress. Or at least check their “Wedding Dress” board on Pinterest for inspiration.

For me, finding and buying the dress was the part I was least looking forward to. In fact, it was close to the end on my list of to-do’s before moving to Peru. A simple white sundress sounded fine to me.

You see, I’ve always been self-conscious about my body. Body image and self-esteem are big issues for females, myself included. I had huge doubts that I would find a wedding dress that was flattering on my figure, and one that made me feel beautiful.

I had doubts of finding something comfortable that made me feel comfortable in my own skin.

Last month on a Saturday morning, my people and I arrived at David’s Bridal for my appointment. (Who knew you needed an appointment?! I sure didn’t… until two days before) The consultant handed me a book and asked me to pick a few out that I wanted to try.

First off – I had NO idea what the dresses on the perfect models in the book would look like on me.

Secondly – I had NO idea what materials the dresses were made of, and which one I wanted. I’m all about comfort and wanted the best material for that!

Third – I didn’t feel prepared to make so many decisions at once! Why didn’t I just tell her what I was thinking, and she just bring me a variety and let me try on one of each style?

Well, things didn’t happen like I thought they would, and as I waited in the fancy undergarments in the dressing room, I got so nervous. I WAS ABOUT TO TRY ON WEDDING DRESSES! Ah!

After the consultant awkwardly helped me get into dress #1, I opened the door of the tiny dressing room and tried to catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. It was like playing Where’s Waldo because there were people all over the store and other women in white dresses blocking my view. When I finally got to see a full-body view of myself in the dress, I was shocked.

The dress hugged my figure perfectly… it gave my body a shape!

My friends & family oohed and ahhed over the dress, and I realized that while I valued their opinions, I wanted a dress that I loved. And the first dress wasn’t it. (The top part left a red rash on my neck for a few minutes!)

Dress #2 was beautiful. Beee-youu-ti-fulll! I’m not going to describe it, but I loved it on the hanger, and loved it even more on my body. Simple, feminine, and elegant. The material was comfortable, I was comfortable, and I felt gorgeous and confident in the dress. It showed off what little body shape I have and I loved the design and shape of it all. (Even with the 8+ pins keeping it on my body.) I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling, and in the pictures my mom took, my faces are hilariously crazy.

I loved dress #2, but wanted to try a few other styles just to make sure.

Dress #3 fit like a glove. It was soft, pearly white, and simple yet beautiful. It would be perfect for a fancy church wedding. I loved it, but not as much as #2.

I tried on dress #4 to appease my mother’s request that I try a strapless dress. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I expected, and I liked it, but it wasn’t my beloved dress #2.

When I told my crew and consultant  which dress I loved and wanted, they seemed just as happy as I was. It was special sharing that time with them and listening to their opinions.

So, after only an hour, and trying on only 4 dresses, I found MY dress.

I found the dress I’m going to get married in!

It is so exciting to know that I’ll feel gorgeous in a comfortable & beautiful dress, on my wedding day. While I hadn’t been looking forward to trying on wedding dresses, I’m so glad I went and gave it a chance. After all, I’m only getting married once, and I might as well have a beautiful dress! :)

Yesterday after work we went and picked up my dress, and even though it needs altering, I still felt beautiful, comfortable & oh so happy in it! I can’t wait to put it on in 87 days and take lots of pictures and actually be able to share them! Having pictures of my dress and not being able to show my fiance has been hard!

My take-aways :: Don’t let your body image deter you from trying something new & different. Be super girly and try on a variety of wedding dresses to find the one that you love the most. There is the perfect dress for your body, you just have to find it!

people4 1213

 blog signature

Bashful to Bold

Over the past two years I have become aware of a surprising fact about myself… I love people interaction. In fact, I thrive off of it.

Growing up I was always “shy little Meredith” hiding behind others so I wouldn’t be seen. In high school and college I hated being in a big group of people for fear that I would say something dumb or people would think I’m crazy (which I kind of am.) I was an introvert to the core, and just didn’t like people interaction very much unless it was in a small group of close friends.

After college however, it’s like a switch inside me flipped from bashful to bold.

I worked in a hospital where I was constantly walking places, going to offices/labs/pharmacies all over the campus, and I was seeing so many people on a daily basis. It got to the point where I would smile and greet the strangers I passed- whether they were patients or doctors or secretaries. Then it got to the point where if people looked lost I would help them find the clinic or office they needed. Then it got to the point where I would spend an hour or so in clinic playing with the kids and talking to their parents. Then it got to the point where I would stop and talk to people I saw in the middle of the halls on a daily basis. Then it got to the point where I knew people by name and enjoyed taking a few minutes out of my day to talk to them and swap stories.

It was a busy job filled with lots of work done in a basement office, so I loved not having to sit in a desk all day and having some people interaction!

Then I became an AmeriCorps member at a literacy center, and was stretched to the limits with my people interaction.

I was constantly making phone calls, fielding questions, talking to people who had walked in off the street asking about our programs, going to public businesses asking if we could advertise on their walls, getting to know our wonderful students & tutors. Instead of the shy girl hiding in my office when someone came in with questions, I was at the door in seconds, ready to talk to them and help them out. It was a crazy busy year, but I loved every second of it and getting to know some amazing people in Durham!

A few months later I became an ESOL intern at a local refugee resettlement organization.

Again, I was stretched to my social limits and had to learn to communicate with and teach refugees who didn’t speak a lick of English. At times I had to take refugee families to appointments or the DMV or the community college. Complete strangers from completely different cultures became friends of mine. At times, the internship was incredibly challenging but oh so rewarding. Our language barriers were broken down by smiles, gestures, silly drawings, and charades. I really came out of my shyness shell during that time because the people I was meeting had such incredible stories and needed my help to learn how to live in the States.

Peru last summer for two months was another test of my shy personality.

I was there all alone, but I got to know people and love on them in tangible ways. Instead of hiding in my little house in the mountain village, I pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone and went out into the village and made friends. The kids grew to love me, and I them, and every time I was walking the main road they would run out and greet me. During Bible study I sometimes struggled with Spanish words, but my kids helped me. I wasn’t afraid (as I had been in the past) to mess up, look like a crazy Gringa, or actually talk to people.

The experiences, jobs, and internships I’ve had throughout the past two years, have really grown me as a person and have shown me my need for interaction with people. Not just people I know, but strangers… and people who are different from me.

People have become a passion of mine.

I know this passion for people interaction and relationships has not just come from my experiences, but from God. He’s been teaching me to step out of my comfort zone, become more bold, and talk to people. Sure, people can see the Gospel on display through my actions, but unless those are paired with words, they’ll never hear the Gospel. I’ve learned the importance of building relationships with people and in just a few years I’ve gone from bashful to bold.

Now as I prepare for a life abroad, I’m so excited for the people God will send my way to love on and get to know. I’m praying for deep, meaningful relationships with Peruvians, and opportunities to not only show His love, but speak of it! I’m also asking that He continues to teach me to become more bold in every area of my life, and to become less bashful.

people1 people3 people5people2

people6 people7

people4people8

 

blog signature

Are you more bashful or bold when it comes to meeting new people?