SAYING GOODBYE: MERRITT’S STORE & GRILL

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It’s no secret that since September 2013, our months in North Carolina post NYC life have been far from blissful. From living two lives between Charlotte (where Charles’ “real” job is) and the Triangle (where my “real” job is), walking through the cancer journey and the eventual passing of my mother in law, taking over a once struggling business with Merritt’s, managing a will and estate, a heart wrenching legal battle and more heartache than not, the past year and a half of life has seemed surreal in so many ways.

As many of you know, Charles’ family has owned Merritt’s Store and Grill since the early 1990’s, and when we returned to North Carolina due to Robin’s declining health, Charles stepped in and began managing it (alongside his “real” job in Charlotte). When he first took on the task, the store was in debt and dangerously close to closing its door, and we knew this was the last thing Robin would ever want to see happen… thus began our journey with managing Merritt’s. At that time, Robin and her husband (Bob) were the legal owners of the company, but could not manage it… which resulted in them signing Charles on board as the official president of the corporation. Robin had put in place an incredible dream and vision for the store, but prior to Charles’ help,  she did not have the help in the “business realm” of things that she truly needed. The combination of Charles’ background in entrepreneurship/business and my passion for public relations/marketing allowed us to come together and turn the business around. In partnership with the absolute best staff and managers imaginable, many hours of work, and literal blood, sweat and tears, we’ve watched a dream come to life and wow, it has been a tremendous adventure! Just looking back on everything that has unfolded overwhelms my heart, and words cannot depict how thankful I am that Robin was able to see her longstanding dreams transition into a reality before she passed away. My respect for Charles and his love for community and small business has exploded beyond belief (to say I married up is an understatement!).

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All along, it has remained our steadfast goal to carry on the beautiful legacy that Robin had started at Merritt’s. Our ultimate desire has been to allow God’s light to shine, while continuing to strengthen the undeniable community that Robin had built around the simplicity of the shared love for the best bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich around. It’s been an exceptionally challenging adventure in many ways, but more than that, it’s also been extremely rewarding. The relationships built, the community strengthened, and the potential of the business’ growth undeniably ignited a passion for both of us.

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Since Robin’s passing, Charles and the current management team have attempted to work alongside Charles’ father, but when legal accusations toward us began to pile up, we knew it was time to release any part of our leadership in the company. As hard as this next chapter of the story is for me to share, I owe it to our supporters- our army of friends, family and community members who have stood behind us throughout all of this. As of March 9, 2015,  Charles, myself, and the current Merritt’s management team will no longer be a part of the business at Merritt’s Store and Grill. Papers were signed on Tuesday, and Charles has resigned as President of the Corporation. Bob Britt, Charles’ father, is now the sole owner/president/etc. of the business. We believe in the heart of Merritt’s and all it has to offer, and want to wish Bob and his new team of managers he best of luck as they carry on Merritt’s.

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This decision has been more challenging than anything we’ve walked through in our almost five years of marriage and it has absolutely wrecked our hearts. In some ways, saying goodbye to Merritt’s is like saying goodbye to Robin all over again. And, to be blunt by putting it in the words of my articulate 17-year-old brother: this whole thing “sucks big time”. He’s right. It does. But we also know that even though it is painful, that it’s right. The legal battle had become too much to bear for our overall health and well-being and it was time to put an end to it all. 

I thought I had experienced the true meaning of “bittersweet” when we left New York City… but life has a way of reminding us that things are always changing and our understandings of it will continuously shift. While this isn’t what we would’ve ever hoped for, it’s through this seemingly endless trial that our faith has been refined in a way that a “normal life” would not have allowed. I know I’ve said that many times throughout the past year, but I just cannot speak the truth behind that statement more clearly!

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To our constant friends, family, prayer warriors, supporters, and fellow Merritt’s lovers, we cannot thank you enough. You’ve helped us along this journey in more ways than you know, and we are so grateful. Thank you for encouraging us on the good and the bad days, and for believing in us enough to allow us to carry on Robin’s dream… at least for a little while.
In her words “You are LOVED!” 

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*If you have any specific questions for Charles or myself, or would like clarity on details, please contact me directly!

Jeanine Klotkowski - March 13, 2015 - 9:44 pm

Megan, beautifully written. You and Charles are strong, lovely and dedicated. You are brave and wise in your decisions. We support you and your family in this. Much love, Jeanine…

Rebecca Brown - March 17, 2015 - 3:58 am

Oh Megan! I know this must have been a very tough decision for you and Charles to make. You two have had such servants hearts. First in your love of our dear Robin and secondly, seeing her dream and vision for Merrit’s to fruition. It’s truly been a labor of love, that’s evident every time I walk through Merrit’s doors. None of your efforts have been in vain. Robin is most definitely looking down from heaven with a thankful heart and a smile on her beautiful face. Well done, good and faithful son and daughter.

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CHEERS TO A NEW YEAR

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2014.


What. A. Year.

While there were “silver linings” over the past 365 days, a majority of 2014 was, what felt like, a never-ending uphill battle of challenges. To say I’m ready for a fresh start and 2015 is an understatement – I’m practically running into the New Year’s arms!

Here’s a little glimpse into what 2014 handed to us:

My amazing mother in law whom I loved dearly lost her battle to cancer in April. We have been managing Charles’ family’s restaurant (while simultaneously juggling our two full-time jobs), dealing with my bipolar father in law (this has been so terribly difficult), navigating lawyers and wading through messy estate management. We’ve cancelled vacations and missed birthdays, and have been in the process of making big, personal health decisions… and, maybe the hardest part about it all is that we’ve been living in two different cities (due to jobs) and we typically do not see each other more than one or two nights a week. Whew. 

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Highlights from 2014

Like I said though, there have been several beautiful silver linings: a wonderful new home that fits “us”so, so perfectly, a job that I absolutely adore, one or two quick overnight trips, being a part of one of my best friend’s wedding day in Mexico, our sweet pup, Kai (she really is one of the happiest things for us this year!), a refined, strengthened faith and wonderful friends who have stood by us through all of this, encouraged us, and kept us laughing. These things may seem small, but each has played a prominent role in helping us move forward and have served to encourage us to press on during (numerous) days of doubt.

2014 taught me that it is through pain, suffering and loneliness that we seek Him in ways we are unable to during the “easy” times. I really thought I had learned that already, but  I’m realizing that it is a continual journey to fully grasp and understand this concept. While we had already encountered several “hard” seasons in our 4.5 years of marriage, we have never lived through such a prolonged season of “yuck” until this year. Through it all, I have been forced to either turn toward Grace and Peace, or attempt to handle it all on my own. I tried both and I’ll let you take a guess on which of those options worked out the best. I also trust that we were brought through this season for a very specific reason  and I can take comfort in the fact that someday we’ll be able to look back and see why all of this has happened. (Although, it might be nice if that’d happen sooner than later … just sayin’.)

As much as I want to say “good riddance, 2014. You are the Absolute Worst and I hate you” I can’t. I really can’t. This year handed me more lessons  than I ever thought one year could and, despite its teachings not being my favorite, I am grateful for them and know without a shadow of a doubt that these trials are equipping us for (hopefully much) later things in our lives.

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All of this to say, I cannot wait for a fresh start and a new beginning. I’m looking forward to a great year of peace and stillness, homemaking, photography, goal-meeting and lots of adventures (Charles, I wasn’t joking when I said I wanted us to take a six month vacation!). A VERY Happy New Year to you and yours.I hope you celebrate well tonight & welcome in this new year with lots of fun and excitement. 2015:  Let’s do this thing. 

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THESE MONTHS

“And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace”

 

Chapala, Mexico /// Taken at a Mexico Wedding in May

Chapala, Mexico /// Taken at a Mexico Wedding in May

 

The past 9.5 months (specifically the past 3) have been really (and I mean REALLY) challenging. I will not go into detail, but let’s just say that Charles and I have been handling things that most 25-year-olds have never even thought about. We have been caught in the middle of a relentless, roaring storm that does not seem to reach an end… and just when we begin think we are at the cusp of a calm sea and that normalcy might (possibly? please?) be within reach, another wave crashes down and we realize that we were merely in the eye of the storm – experiencing a few quiet days of stillness.

I really wish I could sit here and say that my outlook on everything has been positive, that I’ve been bursting forth with love and gratitude… but that would be completely fake and dishonest. And I don’t like either of those qualities. These months have kept me awake at night, forced me on my knees at 4 AM and left me on the verge of tears many days… and, to be honest, there have been quite a few times when I just want to throw the towel in and say “I’m done! No. More.I’m moving to a tropical island far away!”  (Luckily, Charles is not as dramatic as I am and always brings me back down to reality… although, living on a tropical island doesn’t sound half bad…)

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Last year at this time, we were gallivanting around in perfect NYC summer, hanging out on yachts and drinking wine at rooftop bars.  And we had no earthly idea what this year had in store for us. Looking back on that chapter, we know it was God’s way of strengthening our marriage and prepping us for the incredible storm He knew was brewing on the horizon. Had we not experienced that crazy-fun-full-of-growth NYC chapter, we would not have been fully prepared for what has been thrown at us… so, despite how exasperatingly long these months have been, we ARE able to find gratitude.  Even if it means just being thankful for that little (awesome) adventure.

Charles has deemed this chapter in our life as “Job 2.0”… yes, it sounds ominous and incredibly depressing, but it actually is an appropriate title.  Not necessarily because of all of the difficult things that have been unfolding, but rather because we’ve both been learning what it means to depend on God for who He is… not what He does. Have I been good at this? Nope. In fact, I’ve found it much easier to worry and stress and place blame on situations and others. So, honestly, in many moments I have not been very “Job-like”… but through ALL of this “yuck”, we’ve both grown to understand the meaning of  “God gives, God Takes. [and that] God’s name be ever be blessed.” (Job 1:21-22) – and what it means to really, truly live out those words.

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Does this understanding mean that I want to keep enduring the craziness? Again, nope. I seriously cannot wait until we can (finallllly) move into our own house & can be together more than 1-2 nights a week & have schedules (& actually cook dinner rather than eating out all. the. time) & have time time for friends + start living life like normal mid-twenty year olds! Lots of celebration will be had when that moment finally arrives!

Until then, I’m thankful for my awesome (amazingly fun! Healthy environment! Not terrible!!) job in Raleigh. I’m also thankful for a full season of photography (yes, I’m VERY behind in posting sessions!) + the fact that change and peace are finally on the horizon. Also, I’m SO HAPPY it’s summer time! If you know me at all, you know I’m happiest in the sunshine & warm weather – so these 85+ degree temps & Vitamin D have been oh-so-good for my soul!

Lelia - June 17, 2014 - 3:59 pm

Loved this! Thanks for being honest…we love you and we’re praying for ya’ll!

Nancy - June 17, 2014 - 10:39 pm

Always love to read what you have posted, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You amaze me with your insight and I am grateful that Charles married such a strong and caring woman.

Donna - June 18, 2014 - 1:45 pm

Yours & Charles’ faithfulness to the Lord & demonstration of strength found in Him has been such a tremendous testimony! None of us – any age…much less at early and now mid 20s – weather such turmoil with emotional perfection. What you’re experiencing is normal & valid. Yes, I too pray that you have calm waters & blue skies for as long as possible now. But do not sell yourself short…you’ve learned, you’ve grown, you are wiser than most because of what you’ve experienced. Continue to hold fast to Christ, keeping your eyes on Him through any & every good…and any & every bad situation. And, if it helps to know, you both have the prayers of many (mine included) lifting you up. Love to you!

Annette Calud Staudinger - June 18, 2014 - 3:26 pm

Meg, I have just caught up on your life reading your blog. Beautifully transparently written. You are a strong and amazing woman. Talented, gorgeous, generous, beautiful inside and out. I will be praying for you knowing that your faith in Gods plan gives you peace. Keep posting, keep shooting. I love your work and insight. Hope we see each other soon. Hugs to your wonderful hubby as well.

meganbrittphoto@gmail.com - June 18, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Thank you, Annette! :)

meganbrittphoto@gmail.com - June 18, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Thank you, Donna, for your sweet words! It’s been an interesting season of learning, but He is faithful through all of it and we fully know/trust that now!

meganbrittphoto@gmail.com - June 18, 2014 - 6:55 pm

Love you, Nancy! And am very grateful to you & Russ. You’ve both helped Charles & I through this chapter in more ways than one <3

meganbrittphoto@gmail.com - June 18, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Thank you so much sweet friend! Hate that I missed you at Molly’s wedding! We are planning to be at CK’s because it’s one of the few weekends I *don’t* have a wedding to shoot! <3

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