a new adventure: part one

This whole story is going to have to be broken out into a few parts because I’m too excited to cram it into one… but the bottom line is: Jesus is taking me on a new adventure and I am SO EXCITED!

Is that vague enough for you? haha.  I’m sorry! my eyes are closing as I’m typing this.  Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with a few statistics:


  • There are approximately 1 million prostituted women in North America, or 1% of women in North America are involved in prostitution.1
  • An estimated 600,000 children under 18 are involved in prostitution or pornography.2
  • 12 is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution.3
  • As many as 2.8 million children live on the streets. 1 out of every three will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.4
  • A national study shows that 75% of all women used in prostitution were victims of incest and/or physical abuse as children.5
  • Most of those involved in prostitution ran away from home at an early age to escape their abuse…then turn to prostitution as a way of survival.6
  • Most prostitutes became drug or alcohol addicted on the streets and became more trapped in prostitution to earn money to support their habits.7
  • Up to 90% of prostitutes are under the control of a pimp.8
  • Average arrest, court, and incarceration costs amounted to nearly $2,000 per arrest in 1987. Cities spend an average of $7.5 million on prostitution control each year, ranging from $1 million (Memphis) to $23 million (New York).9
  • A high percentage of prostituted women have considered suicide.10
  • Every year a prostituted woman is raped 19 times, kidnapped 10 times, and beaten repeatedly. And we still consider her the criminal?11
  • Prostituted women getting out of jail have no resources, they feel their only choice is to return to a life they know or where they are accepted.

source


G’night my friends 🙂

learning to listen: that one time in target.

I feel like God has been teaching me many of the same lessons for most of my life- but one of the biggest lessons has been that I need to work on my listening skills.  I am great at the talking part and I tend to keep the conversation going in my head even when my lips stop moving.  constantly.  as in all.the.time.  just wanted to make sure I portrayed that accurately for you guys. 

As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave a lot of room for God to get a word in edge-wise.  As I’ve been learning about the phenomenon of listening and how to put it into practice, I have learned one big thing: listening gives you the opportunity to obey.  Out of obedience comes really neat experiences.  That’s what this series is going to be about- documenting those experiences. 

Hopefully this will be ongoing forever and ever since it’s my goal to get better at that whole listening/obedience thing 🙂

This brings me to the experience I had a few months back. As you can probably infer by the title, it happened in my favorite place ever: Target.

I think I had stopped in to grab some paper towels or something necessary like that, but somehow found myself in the sections filled with things that I absolutely did not need (neon feather hair clips, what?!) As I was browsing and contemplating the thousands of things I could waste my money on, I felt God’s presence come over me.   I don’t know what the experience is like for you guys, but for me I get tingly and warm and feel LOVED.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  I put down the feathers and started praying. 

My eyes wandered to the floral section and I had this unshakable feeling that I needed to buy a bouquet of flowers.  This particular store was a super target and there was a Starbucks all the way at the other end of the open area.  My eyes drifted over in that direction and landed on a lady wearing a polka dot shirt.  Suddenly I got a bit more information- I needed to buy a bouquet of flowers and I needed to buy them for her.  Umm ok, God.. this is kind of strange, don’t you think? do I really have to do this? really? she is going to think I’m insane. Wait- am I insane? is this me just being insane?  ok, fine. 

I went over to the flowers and picked out one that I thought was pretty.  I may have spent too much time contemplating because when I looked in the direction where I saw her, she was gone.  I thought I at least had a few more minutes before she finished her latte- but she was no where to be found.  Needless to say, I was disappointed (ok and also really relieved- not gonna lie) and left feeling like I had gotten my signals mixed.  Unmistakably, I felt God’s presence come over me again: buy the flowers, Meryl.  Come onnnnnn, God!

I decided to buy the flowers but also be stubborn and take my sweet time… so I went back for the hair clips (that I have never worn).  Eventually I made my way to the front where the lines were so long I couldn’t even see the checkout person.  I parked myself in the first one I found and called my parents to pass the time, pretty much forgetting about the flowers that sat in my basket. 

About 15 minutes later, it was my turn and I hung up with my dad, looking up at the cashier for the first time.  Guys, I am not even kidding you:

THE LADY IN THE POLKADOT SHIRT WAS MY CHECKOUT PERSON. 

Yes!! I know!!! insane!!!!! she wasn’t even wearing a target shirt!

Seriously, Jesus?! I say this all the time, but I’m pretty sure God chuckled.  I think I give Him comedic relief. 

I made my purchases and she commented on how pretty the flowers were and that they must be for someone I loved.  I handed them to her and explained that they were purchased for someone who was very loved and that I felt like God had told me to purchase them for her. At this point I fully expected for her to throw my things into the cart and start running.  But she didn’t.

Instead, she started crying. I told her the story of seeing her across the room and how it all went down. I got to tell her how much God loved her- that he loved her so much that he wanted to show her through a stranger. 

And that’s my story.  I know some people are going to say it was a coincidence, but that’s ok! to each their own.  As for me, I will always believe without a doubt that Jesus wanted to tell that lady how much he loved her and that he used a girl with a love for neon feather hair clips to convey it.  For that, I will always be thankful 🙂  Jesus is so amazing, y’all!

grace creates space.

I have been wrestling with my faith lately.  To be honest, a more accurate description would be to say that I have been stubborn in admitting that I was not living my life in faith- giving God control and trusting Him.  Sure, I was checking the religious boxes, but somewhere along the way I shifted from walking in faith to walking and trying to control and manage everything at the same time.  Let’s just say multitasking is not exactly my strong suite.  There was a lot of tripping and running into walls. 

You know what the result of living like that is? a lot more effort, a lot less return.  Feeling burdened. Getting burned out. Also, not sure if this applies to anyone else- but for me, it also involves me becoming grumpy and scared and short sighted.  Sounds awesome, right?? I’m sure I have been a lot of fun to be around lately 🙂 (don’t respond to that, people!)

Thankfully, God is patient and knows me inside and out.  He responds tenderly and keeps pushing even after approximately 743 stubborn refusals to listen on my part.  Yeah- probably not as much of an exaggeration as I wish it was.

Months ago, my amazing mentor and her husband started planning a little trip to Colorado- all the way from North Carolina.  They were going to hang out and see a few sights- but one of their main purposes for the trip was to see us.  Mary has known me since I was fresh out of high school and engaged.  She has walked and prayed with me through the last 8 years and has been a constant anchor and reminder of where my focus should be.  She has the sort of faith that I can’t really comprehend, but that I know I want to have.  The kind of faith that makes her do really crazy things and see really crazy results.  She lives with the kingdom in mind.  She is effective and significant where it matters- bringing people to the feet of Jesus.  She walks hand in hand with Him and fights mercilessly in the spiritual realm for her husband and children.  Basically, she pretty much defines the kind of woman I want to be.  I am truly blessed that God has linked us together.

All that being said, their little trip happened this weekend and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.  I’m sure God is chuckling at this because He had it set up long ago.  My brand of stubbornness requires someone taking a cross country trip to pray with me.  Awesome.

We prayed and talked at multiple coffee shops and around random picnic tables and it was AMAZING.  I am 100% sure that the things I learned will be the subject of many blog posts to come, but one in particular is on my heart right now: grace creates space. 

When Jesus died on the cross, He assumed so much of the burden we were carrying.  Took away the price of sin and left freedom in its place.  Freedom is SPACE- chains being broken and the ability to dance in His infinite grace. 

We were given the gift of space- but what we do with that is our choice.  God provides for abundant life, but it requires that we seek it out.  Just knowing that it’s available doesn’t automatically mean it’s applied to our lives.  It comes with choosing to fill that spaces with the right things- it starts with a conscious and intentional effort from us. 

Kind of like being given a coupon: if someone gives me a coupon for a free cookie, I’m going to be excited.  If eat the coupon itself, I am in for a really disappointing experience.. worst cookie ever.  However, if I cash that coupon in for an actual cookie, life is good 🙂 I am really hungry.

If we don’t actively work to fill that space with things that bring everlasting life: faith, joy, love, prayer, peace, scripture, TRUTH…

…then Satan will work to fill that space with a bunch of things that trick us into being satisfied with the promise of abundant life and never actually finding it.  This doesn’t mean that life will always be easy, but we will have the hope, joy and purpose that comes with walking hand in hand with our Jesus. 

People- why are we settling for eating a piece of paper, when Jesus is RIGHT THERE offering us the actual cookie? why do we think this is ok? ? he YEARNS for us to find it!

If your heart looks a little bit like mine did: tired, angry, disappointed and burned out from trying to hold it all together with little to no success- you may just be eating a bunch of paper.  Food for thought 🙂

 “For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

hellooo internet.

well, I guess this is really happening.  I am officially going to open up my soul for the world wide web to see.

I love blogs- always have and always will.  Long ago, before the phenomenon that is now facebook, there was xanga.   I’m talking pre-myspace days.  The pioneer of social networking, people.  So- I may have made that last part up.  I am getting old.

The premise of xanga was simple: blogging.  There was no tagging pictures or writing on walls or “checking in” to exciting places you go on the weekends (is it socially acceptable for someone to check into the grocery store if that’s the most exciting place they’ve been lately? this may be why I don’t have a facebook.)  All this is to say it. was. awesome.  Sure, we were in high school.  Sure, some of the topics involved the latest purchase we made at american eagle (orange pants, what?!) or who was dating who… but somewhere along the way there was a shift away from the mundane and into the vulnerable, real things that mattered to us.

We poured our souls out into those journals- took risks, opened ourselves up to judged.  We wrote about Jesus, our failures, our fears.  We made hilarious jokes that aren’t really that hilarious now that I read them 10 years later…

People would read and relate and be encouraged- or disagree and challenge.  Either way, it kept the conversation going.  Kept us wanting to learn and to share.

The moral of this story comes down to the fact that I recently stumbled upon my old xanga (yes! they do still exist!) and was stunned to see that God is still teaching me some of the same lessons that he was back then.  I still struggle with finding my identity and beauty in Jesus.  I still yearn for something more than just church on sundays.   I am still awkward and do extremely embarassing things.

In a culture where we write on walls and look at the pictures we’re all tagged in- I want to see if I can keep the conversation going.  i realize that no one will probably read this and the conversation will most likely be with myself or someone related to me- but that’s ok! I want a record of the things I learn, the times that I fall in public and the moments I understand God’s love just a little bit more.  If other people happen to read and are encouraged (or disagree and challenge!) than that is the cherry on the the cake that is this blog.  Man- that was cheesy.

thanks for reading (mom.)

lots of love!