Thursday, July 31, 2008

Products I Endorse

Since I doubt anyone will be paying me to tell you how great these products are, I figured I'd share them with you anyway. ha

  1. Extra Sugar-free Gum - It really does last an EXTRA long time!!
  2. Toyota Corolla S - I get an average of 34 miles to get gallon! Plus, it's just really fun to drive!
  3. iPod - for a girl who's been making mixes of her favorite songs since tapes were around, this product is such a dream!
  4. Teva "Mush" Flip Flops - wear these and you'll never go back to any other kind of flip flops again. They are one of the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned!
  5. Samsung SGH-A707 cell phone - I bought this phone nearly a year ago and have been extremely pleased by all its capabilities, such as: takes amazing pictures and video, media play, surf the Internet, IM and other sundry items.
  6. Sharpie Markers - love, love, love
  7. Ped Egg - what an amazing products! Oh, I had my share of cynicism, but believe me, it works! My feet used to be, for lack of a better word, scaly. But with the Ped Egg's buffer side, they are smooth! Will wonders never cease?
  8. Pantene Pro-V Shampoo and Conditioner - leaves my hair feeling silky smooth
  9. Olay Quench body lotion - try it and you'll know why
  10. RainX - never use your windshield wipers again -- at least, not as much!
  11. Rainfall Chrome Showerhead - every use is like a spa experience... not that I've ever been to the spa.
  12. Tempur-Pedic - the best nights sleep you'll ever get!
  13. Blurb - The easiest and most affordable way to make a dream come true!
  14. Starbucks - for obvious reasons. I love their pumpkin loaf and Peppermint Mocha

I suppose that's it for now. Perhaps more to come? What are some products you'd endorse?

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's The Point?!

What's the point of putting my initials on food in the fridge if everyone eats things anyway and acts like they didn't? I'm a generous person, yes, but for the love people. Buy your own stuff or replace the things you eat/drink! Is that too much to ask?

GEM Video

Shark Week

Shark Week. How I love Shark Week on the Discovery channel. I'm so enthralled by sharks. As I type, I'm recording several programs about them. I have a healthy fear and appreciation of them. Which is why my little toes didn't venture too far within the ocean last week. Of course, it wasn't just the sharks on my mind, but the ever present jellyfish. What fluid creatures they are... but I didn't want to be on the tail end of their struggle to survive.

I mowed the grass yesterday, which is technically now Monday, but the funniest thing kept occurring. I would have loved to have the kind of camera which took pictures over a longer span of time. There was a symphony of teeny grasshoppers, um hopping out of the way, as I mowed a long. It was quite a sight. Isn't it funny how God makes each of us to appreciate the little things in life?

I thought of something really clever to talk about earlier, and now that I sit in front of this not-so-blank-screen now, I can't think what it was.... oh well anyway, I need to go to bed.

Happy trails!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Nature of Meredith

I wrote this the other night (July 21st) while at the beach, but wasn't able to get back online to upload it until I got home....

I love to read. The bigger the book the better. Though, often, there's a bittersweet feeling when nearing the end of a book. I become completely immersed within the story, feeling like the characters are different aspects of me. So when I finish a book, I usually become quite melancholy. Does sounds crazy? Today, while lying in the hammock, with the generous ocean breeze blowing across the upper deck and myself, I finished a book I started the other day, "The Nature of Jade." Although I shouldn't have been surprised, I was again swept up in emotions, thoughts and feelings which I didn't have an outlet for. However I did something I quite possible have never done before. I went for a walk along the beach all by myself. I know you what you're thinking, "You've never done that before?" Well, no, because you see, I don't like doing things alone. I don't feel very brave. All the insecurities from childhood creep up again and hit me square in the face. I know it's completely irrational to even let that affect me today, but alas it does. But, I refuse to allow that to control my actions anymore. Wow, I didn't realize I was going to talk about this. I certainly didn't plan on it. I merely wanted to tell you about my day, which was quite pleasant, I must say. But since it's been brought up, let me give you a little back history.

My family lived in Great Falls, Virginia from the time I was the age of seven-eleven (I think?). The before mentioned incident happened the very first (and only) year I went to a public school. I rode the school bus, which was a very new experience for me. Even though my neighborhood friends were with me, there were also some very mean boys, who waited for us little kids to get off the bus and endlessly tortued us. Gosh, I still remember the fear and apprehension of arriving at the bus stop. I was literally sick with worry and fear. There were two places where I could get off, one a shorter route (where the means kids were) and the other, the very long way home. Many days I wasn't brave enough to face the boys and walked the long way home. Bless my friends, they often walked with me.

That incident (as well as others over the years) has left permanent unseen scars which cover every fiber of my being. It is only by the Grace of God that He's helped me to heal. Though, obviously, those insecurities still rear their ugly heads from time to time. While I'm learning that God created me exactly how He wanted me, it's up to me to be healthy; to make healthy choices.

Hello, my name is Meredith and I'm a sabotager.

I have lofty dreams and goals for myself, but I also continue to sabotage my progress. Just when I think I'm finally getting ahead of the curve, I fall back into the old patterns and habits trying to control life through food. I have never admitted this to anyone before, but I KNOW I'm not the only woman out there who does this. So, perhaps, through my struggles with the way I see myself and how I view food, you too will find encouragement as well? That's my hope anyway.

Honestly, God has done a TON of healing in my life. I really feel like there's a light at the end of the dark tunnel now, but I still have a ways to go before I'm fully "recovered". And perhaps, this might be something I will forever deal with, but I hope not. God didn't give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. That verse just popped into my head and while I know I did a little paraphrase, I think you get the gist.

My insecurities have been weighing my down like Pilgrim's burdens. I just turned 31 recently and I feel as though I've stumbled upon an epiphany of sorts? I've just wasted so many years of my life living in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the 'what if's'. Plan 'ole fear. It makes me so mad that I've allowed the devil control over me in this area for so long. But no more! I've been bought with the blood of the Lamb. Cleansed. Made whole. Redeemed. I am a child of God. His blood courses through my veins. His power is made perfect in my weakness. God WILL get the glory in my story! Just you wait, one day in the not so distant future, I hope to say, "Look what God has done!"

Back to today. I finished my book, came downstairs and realized I'd been reading for three and a half hours (felt like 30 minutes)! I immediately knew I needed to go walk on the beach! I felt like I was suffocating. I can't explain it; I just had to get out the house!!! I took my cell phone and headed off to the beach. This is day three here and I've only seen the beach from afar. I wanted, no needed to wiggle my toes within the sand and oceans' surf. Perhaps this is strange to say, but I felt like a whole new me - confident and head held up high. I looked people in the eyes as they walked past me and smiled. I was a determined woman on a mission.

The closer I got, the more excited I became. The only other time I have felt like that is when I arrive in Seattle. It's the expected realization that God's there and is ready to do something great in me. (Those whom have gone on the Suquamish mission trip, I know you know exactly what I mean.) Logically, I know God is everywhere. But I've always felt closer to Him in Suquamish and at the beach. Here I am, Lord, whatcha got planned?!? I guess being completely open and honest is a start, huh?

Nothing grandiose happened down at the beach. I stood in the sinking sand and sang praise songs. I allowed the generous water consume too much of my denim shorts (oops!). I nearly got stung by a jellyfish. I watched the sun set and took a ton of pictures and videos. Then, with no fan fair whatsoever, I came home. Though, feeling like I'd accomplished the first battle.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Picture Pages

Not long after arriving at my parent's house, Grant started saying, "Horse" and would pull any adult he could find to the door. "Horse" he'd say. Over and over and over and over and, well you get the idea. I finally told him, "Buddy, the horses are going night-night in the barn." He thought about this for a minute, then said, "Marn?" It took me a minute to figure out he meant "barn". I said, "Yes, the horses are in the barn." He nodded his head, "Horse. Marn". Which he started saying over and over too. I finally told him, "Buddy, we're about to eat lunch, but after that, we'll go see the horses." He was satisfied with that answer.

As soon as lunch was over, he walked over to me, took my finger and led me to the door, "Horse. Marn", he said. We ended up driving over there, as it was about to rain. This child, who could talk of nothing else, was finally getting to see horses. But... as soon as he saw the horses, even though they were in their stables, he FREAKED out and started crying. It was a quick trip. Once he was straped back in his car seat, he sadly said, "Bye bye. Horse."

Grant likes to play in Grandmother's "pool".

Posted by Picasa

More pictures

I'm learning to use Picasa... but I'm only able to upload a few pictures at a time.

Big Boy car seat!

This little monkey is so tall, he's learned how to turn door handles...

...and open doors. So, now, all doors have those protector things on them. Grant's befuddled. (Is that a word?)

What a face!!
Posted by Picasa

More recent Grant pictures

Grant got a new Radio Flyer this day - which he loves! He was styling and profiling in his new sun glasses too!

My mom, sister, Grant and I went to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens recently to see their "dinosaur" exhibit. Well, Grant has this thing about getting his picture taken with his mommy. For some reason, whenever a picture is about to be taken, he LEAPS from her arms. So, she had to hold him however she could take him! Ha! Hence the funny angle!

Sweet angel baby getting recharged.

Since Grant could crawl, he's always crawled up and down my back, like a jungle gym. Recently, he'll ride my back like a bucking bronco. What a funny little boy!
Posted by Picasa


My sister said Grant just sat on the tractor wheel by himeself, without being asked. That boy loves his "tacs" (tractors).

Grant came and sat in my lap while we watched one of his "mo mos" (movies). Though, he wasn't still for very long. Always on the move, that little boy.

Grant has a drawer, just like Mommy, in the kitchen.
Posted by Picasa

Salty Air...

Yeah! The beach is a mere walk away. The trip here was quite fun. My mom and I talked a good portion of the trip, then played a word game the rest. We laughed a lot! Fun times! We (mom, dad, aunt) arrived to the house around 5ish? We unpacked the cars and settled in... I wanted to go for a walk on the beach, but didn't. I don't like doing things alone. I need to work on that, I know. My mom made a DELICIOUS meal - Spinach Hamburger Bake served over rice. Very yummy! We watched "August Rush" while eating dinner.

Anyway, I'm just rambling. It's actually really interesting... I found a WiFi connection and I'm on it. I've never done that before, but this will save me a trip to Starbucks to get online. Though, obviously, I don't need the Internet at all while I'm here. But I thought it would be fun to blog about my trip. We'll see if I acually keep it up.

I took a picture of my first glimpse of the beach, which actually, was a really neat picture, but for some reason, my phone isn't letting me send it. I keep getting an error. Yet, I'm able to send text messages. Strange huh?

We're all watching HGTV right now. We're not your typical beach-going type family. We do a lot of nothing, which honestly, is quite nice. A little shopping. A lot of movie watching and playing games. Good times. I am eager to wiggle my toes within the sand and feel the cool waves lap against my feet. Perhaps tomorrow.

Well, off to bed, I think. Happy trails!

Running on empty

Welcome back my friend, Stacey! I've missed reading about your life!

I should have been in bed hours ago. Correction. I've been in bed for hours, just not asleep. You see, I've always had this "ability" to not sleep when something exciting is about to happen. (IE leaving for the beach in... EIGHT hours!!) I told myself tonight not to make a big deal of it (trying to psycho-analyze myself, crazy, huh?) Sometimes it works though... Alas, not this time. Good thing I'm not driving. A.D.D. land will be around tomorrow. Maybe I can just sleep some in the car. Lord please give my attitude a reality check as I know I'm going to be grumpy on so little sleep.

I've been pretty stressed this week. I had a lot to remember to do ahead of time and make sure people knew what to do. Please don't let them call me! I'm expecting to have an amazing time recharging my battery. I've been running on empty way too long. I can't wait to lie in the hammock, feel the ocean breeze and read a good book. Or better yet, work on my own book! Thanks to the HARD work and DEDICATION of my editors, Tammy and Jennifer, I now hold in my hands (OK, actually it's in my back pack) the 3rd edited draft of Strength In The Struggle. Very excited about what God's going to do with this. It's so amazing to have a vision, then watch as God unfolds it before my very eyes.

Oh boy. 2am? I'm going to need Starbucks on the way, aren't I? Which reminds me, I've been REALLY good not drinking caffeine the past month or so. I definitely miss things such as Diet Mt Dew and Diet Sunkist, but I've found that I feel better not having that extra 'whatever' coursing through my veins. Yeah me.

Ok, I must sleep. If I don't post again before I return....

Happy Trails!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stuff on my mind, other than hair

I need to do better at updating. I have a lot going on to talk about, but at some point, I feel like there's too much and I don't know how to make it interesting anymore? Perhaps that sounds crazy? Or perhaps I need to stop worrying about what others might think and just write to write? Get my priorities straight again.

OK, here's a list of what I need to do this week. I meant to make this list earlier but didn't any scratch paper handy, so this is good.
  1. Start piling things to take and leave them next to the door. (Did I mention I'm going to the BEACH next week?)
  2. Pre-pack
  3. Make sure work knows what to do while I'm gone... how to update rates, etc.

Ok, so maybe I don't have that much to do? I just feel like this week is going to be crazy. Which is why I really should be asleep right now. Why am I not? I went to bed late last night and woke up on my own at 9am. I didn't have any naps today at all, and now it's 1:30am. I need to wrap this up regardless.

I want to tell you all about my birthday though - another time - it was soo much fun! I thought about doing a reflection of the last year or something equally as creative? IDK. I'll think about it though.

Happy trails!

I will not walk on tiptoes...

I read this on my friend Carrie Beth's blog and was blown away by her sheer honestly! She is an amazing friend - whom I've never met in person - but one which God continually drops in my life at exactly the right moment. She is a dear, kindred spirit. I asked her permission to repost the following...

What is a woman's worth, anyway? What makes a woman? Is it in her smile? The way she carries herself? The way she throws her head back in complete and utter abandon as she laughs from deep within? Is it the sweep of her eyelashes against her cheek? Is it her passion for the things that define who she really is and what she loves? Is it the fire in her eyes when she's so angry she can barely speak? Is it the love that she radiates for all those who mean the world to her? Who am I kidding? A woman is not defined by any of that. A woman is defined solely by her weight.

I've been reminded several times again this weekend that I'm not a "regular" woman. You may ask yourself, "What is a 'regular' woman? And who decides what a 'regular' woman is?" According to a good friend of mine, a regular woman is someone with the proportions of 36", 24", 32." Hysterical, huh? Do you know that a woman who measures 36", 24", 36" is basically physically disproportionate? According to fashion industry standards, a woman who bears that fantastic, dreamy body would be simultaneously wearing a size 4 (hips), a size 2 (waist), and a size 10 (bust). That's virtually impossible.

Somehow, our country has become obsessed with physical characteristics. It no longer seems to matter how intelligent a woman is, how personable she is, or how much fun she is to be around. All that matters is her size. I even asked two of my guy friends last night... "Other than physical characteristics, what do you look for in a woman?" Neither of them had anything to say to that. Are they looking for a paper doll? Looks will fade one day. I can guarantee you that. When we're old and gray and sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, we will not be as beautiful as we were in our youth. What will matter then is much more than looks. When physical beauty fades away, all that will be left is the beauty of the human spirit.

More interesting statistics...
  • The average American woman is 5'4", weighs 140 lbs, and wears a size 14 dress.
  • The "ideal" woman--portrayed by models, Playboy centerfolds, Miss America, Barbie dolls, and screen actresses--is 5'7", weighs 100 lbs, and wears a size 8.
  • One-third of all American women wear a size 16 or larger.
  • 75% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
  • 50% of American women are on a diet at any one time.

Yes, I'm overweight. I am bigger than the average woman. I've dieted... lost weight and then gained it back just to lose it again. It's a never-ending cycle. Genetics are a nightmare. I come from a family of larger people. However, I can say that I love myself. Yes, I'm not too fond of my "wobbly bits" as Bridget Jones referred to them. I don't necessarily love the fact that I have to shop in plus-sized stores. But the major key point is that I LOVE myself. I know that I have more to offer a man than a Playboy Centerfold.

I'm smart. I have a college degree, and I'm working on my Master's degree. I currently have a 4.0. That means all A's. And not just all A's in easy undergrad classes. I'm talking about all A's in graduate level courses. And what's even cooler is that I have kept a 4.0 all while balancing a social life, family, and a career. I teach all day and go to school at night. Several nights a week. Instead of taking a summer break, I'm taking three more graduate courses. I'm smart. And my students' state assessment scores can vouch for it. I know what I'm doing, and I'm dang good at it.

I'm fun. I laugh - with you, at you, and more often than the other two, I laugh at myself. I'm friendly. I never meet strangers, and I generally have a positive outlook on life. I love to have fun. I live for spending time with friends and family - they are some of the most important people in my life. Not only am I fun, I'm fun to be around. I'm the life of the party. The girl who radiates energy and enthusiasm. I have values and morals. I live my life according to principle. I hold myself accountable to the ideals that I treasure most. I'm intriguing. A little bit mysterious. I don't bare all or speak all. I leave something to be imagined. These things are what set me apart.

Not only am I smart and fun and and mysterious... I'm beautiful. Sure I may be heavier than the average woman, but I'm gorgeous. Look at my sapphire eyes, my full lips, my naturally curly hair. I have a sparkle in my eyes - one that can't be bought or recreated. I'm just natural. Naturally me. And if that's not enough for you, then that's ok. I deserve better. And you deserve someone as shallow as you.

And when you say that "less is better than more," you're saying I'm too much woman for you. I know the truth. I know that you're scared. You're scared of who I am and what I have to offer. You can't believe that you'd ever be attracted to someone as fat as I am. You play off that spark we feel as just a little bit of fun and flirtation. I know the truth. I've seen it in your eyes, and I've felt your response to me. But hey, it's ok. Let's just keep playing the game. You keep searching for that disproportionate woman, that woman whose measurements are virtually impossible to have. You'll never find her. Years from now you'll realize that I'm the closest thing to perfection you will ever know.

(And let's be honest here, I'm not really talking about you. Don't flatter yourself. I'm taking about every you out there. But really, it's not about you - or any other guy for that matter. It's really all about me.)

Any thoughts? Comments? Let me know.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Now I Remember......

Oh yeah, now I remember why I haven't gotten online in a while. There's soooo much to do and see and write and catch up with people on Facebook and answer emails and read friends blogs and and and... the next thing I know it's 12:22 AM, when I was headed to bed at 9:30! How did this happen?! It's like the venus fly trap.

I really wanted to get those coveted eight hours of sleep. Is it even possible during the week? I spent a lot of last weekend sleeping. Is my body trying to tell me something? Oh, and what a week to 'give up' caffeine. I just decided to give it a try. I haven't had any Diet Mt. Dew's in the morning now for two weeks. I don't like it, and it's kinds rough until I wake up, but I feel like it's a good thing to do for my body. Drink more water has become my 'mantra'. Even if I don't feel thirsty, I go fill up my cup of water and take a few sips. How long will this last? I can't tell you, but it makes me feel good that I'm doing something good for my body.

Speaking of which, I'm trying to eat mostly organic food. . . or at least, foods which don't contain... oh man, I'm too tired to think of the word I'm trying to think of... (it's three words and it's on the Juicy Juice commercial, anyone know what I mean?) OK, well, regardless, I'm trying to eat healthier. Drink more water. Go to bed early. Get lost of exercise. I'm determined to make these changes. I'm determined to set free the trapped girl inside of me... I know that makes me sound crazy. More on her later...

With that being said, I'm going to bed now.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Life Art

I was without Internet for a while, so I have a back log of things I'd saved that I wanted to post.

I can honestly say Margaret Becker is one of my favorite authors of all time! She writes in a way to explain what I'm seemingly unable to express. She's cool like that. (I think we'll be friends in Heaven.) But this excerpt is how she feels about art. We all have an expressions of art, in one form or the other, are you using your talents for Him? Read this and see how it makes you feel. If it excites you, go out and DO SOMETHING TODAY!

"To enable and encourage others with any tool that I can successfully use.

The many irregular pieces that make it up-the details-they are secondary. It doesn't matter if it is with music, or writing, or speaking-or even juggling, for that matter. I will use anything to create a platform and gain a voice. Any means by which I can deliver encouragement.

This is what excites me. This is where I feel like I operate in a frictionless environment. This is where I feel fulfilled and unhampered, as though I am contentedly swimming along with the current in a stream of energy. It is my gift-but not in the sense that I have recognized that phrase in that past-as if what I have to offer is a gift for other people. No, more plainly, it is a gift to me-a private one given to me by God. A simple, figurative place or feeling that gives me pleasure. And when I utilize it, when I enter into it and enjoy it, somehow there is a pebble-in-a-pone effect. The ripples connect to a gift and flow outward, affecting those who are near enough to feel it.

It reminds me of the way art operates and the definition of the art. I heard on National Public Radio in an interview with Sister Wendy, the art expositor. The interviewer asked Sister Wendy what her personal definition of art was. Her answer was loosely this: Art takes you out of yourself, lifts you up and pulls you into something haright for a time, and then places you back at last, changed.

And art, according to Webster's Dictionary, is "human creative sill or its application."

Human creative skill. Creativity. Isn't that when we connect with our most passionate selves, the part of us that is in a flow, an unhampered exchange with the Creator? Isn't that when we connect to our gifts? I am energized as I consider connecting with passion creatively and
offering something that lifts people out of themselves into a stream of possibilities. I want to be a conduit between the mortal and the eternal."

Excerpt from "Coming Up For Air: Simple Acts to Redefine Your Life" by Margaret Becker

Leap of Faith

I just finished reading this amazing little book, "Coming Up For Air” by Margaret Becker. Here's one of the many quotes which stood out to me:

“The marriage of significance and fulfillment that now blesses my soul is the sweet reward that comes only after an initial leap of faith. The many pockets of peace that have settled into my interior are the result of risk and commitment. Wouldn’t it be nice if the prize was there before the leap, grandly rolled out like a red carpet, inviting all into its chamber? I would appreciate that kind of clarity, but I have found it only in hindsight.”