Honest, stateside

Shame is a bitch

An open letter to those who feel like they are stuck in a shame cycle,

I get you.

I get that place you are in that feels like there is nothing new on the horizon.

I get the feeling of standing in the middle of the road while the people with babies and marriages and evolving relationships and new jobs seemingly zoom by.

I get the hopelessness and the desire to not have to make your own magic.

I get that feeling of everything being the same, and not having space to breathe because of the sameness.

I get the pacing and the pondering and the second guessing over and over again.

I get the desire to cut your hair, get a tattoo, move, leave church, change jobs.

I’ve had all of those thoughts in the past month.

I know the feeling of physically carrying burdens and stress and pressure and not knowing how the hell to change it.

I understand what it’s like to not want to put any of that on someone because you don’t want to be that person.

I. Get. You.

But now, I want you to picture yourself standing in the median on a busy freeway. All the cars passing by carry all the labels that you wish you carried.

You’re so focused on those cars that you don’t break eye contact.

And then when you do, you see us.

All of us.

In the same place.

On the median.

We’re all there.

There is a lot of us.

Searching, wanting the answers to jump out of someone else’s story.

Desiring something that in all reality would be a watered down version of what we are truly meant to be in.

There is a lot of us who come and go from that median.

I think that everyone spends some time there, unable to get to the other side as the cars stream past.

Just staring.

I’ve been unable to form words lately, I’ve been afraid to unpack the things I’ve been carrying for fear of what might be at the bottom of the box.

I write this letter to you not to ask for help, but to say you aren’t alone.

There are a lot of us.

Trying to figure out this thing.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) to brush off the shame.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) that shame is a bitch.

Because isn’t that what it all boils down too?

Shame of not being worthy

Shame of not being enough

Shame of falling short

Shame of not hearing god

Shame of being too much

Shame of being alone

So, I write this letter to to you to remind you, right now, in this moment to tell shame to fuck off.

You are so much more than all those things.

And you are not alone.

Sincerely,

Meg

royal family kids camp, stateside

To my Royal Family

To the fabulous people of the Newport Mesa Royal Family Kids Camp:

Female LIT counselor and our dean (AKA my OC mom)
I’m at my church in Washington right now, holding back tears.

I’m tired, emotionally exhausted, a little beat up-it goes without saying that my heart is broken.

It was a tough week up on the mountain. Every five minutes felt like a battle I wasn’t ready for, every word I said was rememebered, the good, the bad and the ugly. One of the purple people asked me at the church, after all the kids had gone, what my biggest challenge was during the week. I didn’t even have to think about the anwser.

One of the things you should know about me is that I have about ten years of early education under my belt. I never went to school for it, I’ve taken maybe 6 or 7 classes, so most of my knowledge is trial and error. Mainly error.

So when asked what my biggest challenge was–my response was easy. Seeing how the things I know of child development acted out to the extreme. Knowing that structure and rules= love. And knowing that those things will pushed at.

longest tuesday ever NBD
That they were pushed at–all week.

But you keep going. You stay. You remain. Then at the end of the week in the last five minutes the kid who deemed you “mean counselor meg who always says no” runs up to you to give you a hug.

my fellow world traveler
Camp is for the kids. That’s true. If it wasn’t for the kids-I probably wouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be worth it. It certainly doesn’t always feel good, or make sense. But it’s for the kids so at the end of the day it does indeed make sense and is worth it.

But for me camp is also a family business. Coming to camp is coming home, coming to something that feels like the most wacky normal ever. Coming to camp is coming to family.

I was also asked by purple people why in the world I would fly from Washington.

It’s easy. This is the camp my family goes too. It’s my people. My home base.

family.
You guys inspire me. Year after year. I beam thinking about the amazing people that take a week out of their lives to be on a mountain, eating camp food and sleeping on duct tape for a chance to make a kid smile.

I’m grateful to be apart of your family.

Thanks for always welcoming me home.

With love,

Junapera aka mean counselor Meg.
(Special shout-outs to: Michele for my caboodle, Becca, Kim, Tyler and Priscilla for outfitting my room, Kinda for the same and also lanyards, Krystle for helping my dream of being a gospel back-up singer come a little more true, Casey for being Casey, everyone for never making fun of my makeup when I let the kids do my makeup, teen staff for being the best, Sue for regaling me with a story that made me almost fall to the ground in laughter and tears, Brooke for not judging my morning vocabulary, the ladies of Cedar for being the best, Lauren for being a kindred soul at camp, Ryan for not putting me in a headlock, Sarah for being the best surprise buddy a girl could have and for riding the struggle bus, airplane and coaster with me and of course to my second family the Choi’s for letting me out of dog sitting 7 years ago so I could come to camp.)

royal family kids camp, stateside, To dream

playing haman: be your own sparkle tape

{As you know from my last blog I was up in the mountains of southern California last week at Royal Family Kids Camp.}

The Saturday before we left for camp I got a phone call from the drama coordinator, who happens to be one of my cheerleaders in life, Michele. She asked me if I wouldn’t mind being in the drama that year.

Sure! I’d love to be a part of the wonderfully, wacky group of people who put on the drama.

Who would I be playing?

Haman.

If you don’t know the story of Esther all you need to know is that Haman was Hitler before Hitler existed. He wanted to kill all the Jews and then at the end of the story he was hung in the gallows. (if you prefer the veggie tales version he is sent to the island of perpetual tickling.)

Now the being in the drama was fine. I was in theater in high school and have no problem making a fool of myself in front of kids. So, what was I actually worried about?

It may sound dumb but I was worried I was going to be booed.

In the past I’ve watched the person playing the “evil” character get booed through the week.

So I started in early. All day Monday before the kids met Haman I told the them that I would be playing a man who made really bad choices and I made them agree they would still be my friend.

(Ok ok I may have resorted to bribery with scrapbook tape and stickers)

Guess what? I didn’t get booed.

The kids came up to me and had conversations about what was going to happen to Haman, the choices he made, how tantrums don’t solve anything. On the off chance a kid called me Haman, I would look at them shocked and ask if I was wearing a wig. Most of the time they’d giggle and say no then call me Miss Meg (and ask me for some sparkle tape).

My 5 day stint as Haman made me think of all the times in life where I was freaked out about what COULD happen. Like this week, last year, I was afraid to go to Spain for so many reasons.

One main one was “what if they don’t like me?”. Which, like being afraid of being booed was so very dumb. People I loved, and who loved me were already there waiting to hug me when I got off the plane.

But like my sparkle tape to the kids I took “precautions” when I got to Spain.

I did. I volunteered for things and was overly helpful.

For so long I thought the value I brought was ONLY by what I did.

But of course, when it came down to it none of THAT really mattered. I remember the week of reunion when I had been there a mere 6 weeks Kellen came up to me and told me I was appreciated (and what he may not know is I lost it promptly after). It hit me hard that I had barely been there- and that people were seeing ME, not the role I was attempting to play.

I forget that who I am is someone who is capable of being appreciated and loved. Who I was last week was still a person who the kids knew loved them. So even IF they would have booed me they would still know I loved them. (Though I stand by the fact the sparkle tape DEFINITELY helped.)

I believe it’s one of those deeply rooted human lies that we each have: that we aren’t enough without the things that we can bring to the table. And I believe that singular thing can cause us to NOT bring what we really have. I believe it causes us to bring THINGS not HEART.

It causes us to SET things on the table and not SIT at the table.

Playing Haman was hilarious. I got to spend my nights at camp with some hysterical people and I got to use gifts that have been long buried. I could have said no to playing Haman, because I was a wee bit worried, but that would have been silly.

I shook hands to an agreement to do the thing in Washington back in October, sitting in front of El Ultimo Mono. And that handshake agreement is officially in real life. In now time. There is a cute little yellow house waiting for me with a roommate whom I adore to the moon and back.

And all of those lies that I’m not enough, that I have nothing to bring, that I’m going to fail, they’ve all made rounds in my head.

We can’t be afraid to just sit at the table. We can’t be afraid to bring what we deem nothing to a table that seems bursting with everyone else’s gifts and talents.

It’s ourselves that matter. It’s what is innately in us. We don’t have to bring anything extra. Sure, you can if you want too but it’s not necessary.

And at the table you are surrounded by people who won’t let you be scared off by some silly little lie that you aren’t enough. Or that someone is going to boo you, or not see who you actually are outside of the job you work to pay the bills.

Show up and open your mouth in spite of what people may think and see what happens. Show up even if you think you might get booed because of a way you used to be in the past. Show up even if you think that someone ELSE may deem you unqualified.

Show up not to PROVE you are enough but to ACKNOWLEDGE that you know that you are.

Don’t bring sparkle tape to the table- be your own sparkle tape.

royal family kids camp, stateside

a letter to my royal family

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This, this is for all the girls, and boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)
You’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold you’re gold)

gold-britt nicole

I know that for most people the hashtag #themostwonderfultimeofyear is centered around Christmas and Starbucks red cups and all of that kind of stuff.

But if I am being completely honest, my favorite time of year is a span of 6 exhausting days tucked up in the mountains wearing wigs, eating salad, laughing with kiddos and being with one of the most giving group of people I’ve ever encountered.

To my hard-working, incredibly loving, (more than just) sometimes sarcastic Royal Family-

You all are amazing.

I’ve been trying to put it into words over the last twenty-four hours. I was in tears getting on a train traveling away from Orange County today.

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lauren.krystle.vanessa.priscilla. lovely ladies I get to do {camp & real} life with and be a {temporary} buddy for.
My heart swells at the thought of all you. Every single one.

On Sunday while we were running around Pinecrest getting all the things ready; the thought that kept coming into my head was about the importance of changing the connotation of family for the kids coming up the hill the next day. How important the word “family” is. How important our interactions are in front of the kids. The hugs, the inside jokes, the smiles we give each other all week is so important because it shows the kiddos that even though we aren’t related we are indeed FAMILY.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this week the friendships that have formed and grown amidst the 100 counsellors, staff and teen staff showed the kids a picture of Christ. It showed them that family isn’t just what you are born into but it’s also the people you are given.

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photo of {a lovely photographer} Casey taken by {another equally lovely photographer} (and also her mama) Janel. So grateful for these two who catch the joy of the kiddos like photo ninjas.
It’s such a lovely thing. And I know it’s exhausting but man, this royal family needs every part. From the teen staff (who are the most awesome teens ever) to the nurses and staff counsellors, to the deans and directors to the mail ladies, to those of us in chapel to the coaches on the field and the karate instructors on the pavement, to the activity centers, wood shop workers, fantasy corner inhabitants, grandma & grandmas, aunts & uncles to our photographers and videographers. To those who do all the work pre-camp to our birthday party volunteers who come up one day to bring the kiddos so much joy. And last but in no way least; to the counselors who tuck the kids in at night after running around with them all day.

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i’ve gotten to watch these guys do their thing for 4 years and was stoked to get to be apart of the crew this year.
I’ve met a lot of people in this world, a lot running great ministries and doing beautiful work all over the world. But it’s all you guys, all those who head up that mountain for the week that give me hope. All of you show me the love of Christ in such beautiful ways. Because you don’t have too. It’s not your job.

You do it for the kids.

It’s all of you who make it never a sacrifice to come up the hill; but an utter privilege.

I’m so grateful that 6 years ago Kim made me fill out an application to be a counselor instead of just being the person who house sat while they were gone.

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5 year pin. Here’s to 10-15-20-25 more.
Thank you for allowing me to be apart of this family. Thank you for laughing with me (or at me because: Haman.) thank you for encouraging me and hugging me (or putting me in a headlock) and thank you for letting me see pieces of the inner strength you have in you that maybe not many other people see. Thank you for taking the story God gave you and the life you’ve lived and pouring it not only into the kids but into me.

So lastly, this week, as you go about your daily lives I want you to all remember something:

You are so utterly and completely lovedAnd every ounce of love you gave out last week will come back to you.

You are wonderfully, beautifully known and loved.

You are all in my heart and I am so very, very proud to know you.

Can’t wait to see you next year,

With love, blessings and {so much coffee},

Meg

(aka Haman aka Juneapera)

{to learn more about Royal Family Kids Camp or to find one in your area click here)

stateside

an example of how I can turn anything into a sermon illustration

I have a confession to make.

It’s kind of (really) embarrassing, but I just wanted to put it out there.

I like….I mean, LOVE fan fiction.

Fan fiction (noun): written by a fan of and featuring characters from a particular TV show, movie etc. …

It started slowly, with Vampire Diaries and lead into Hart of Dixe with a smattering of Criminal Minds and now I’m full blown into the Mindy Project. I don’t read every single one and I can usually tell within a paragraph if I am going to read the whole thing. It normally has less to do with story and more to do with grammar and spelling.

I love reading stories and stories that are focused around characters I already love? Even better.

Let me tell you there are some talented people out there, some crazy storytellers. I myself have never really dabbled in it (she says as she remembers college and stories written based on a red headed pop star) mainly because I suck at dialogue and my creative mind doesn’t normally work that way.

For some fan fiction is a way to see two characters actually end up together and to “right a wrong” the writers did by not having them end up together in the first place (klaus and Caroline-am I right?) and for others it is a home to take already created characters and twist them into something new (ladies and gentleman I give you the fan fiction that made millions of dollars off of the characters Edward and Bella- fifty shades of grey).

Fanfction is the ability to create a universe for yourself.

It’s creating something out of bits and pieces of something already created.

Really, if I get down to thinking about it- it’s kind of how I feel about my life.

I’ve already been created. My story has already been written.

And then God said, “create!”

But wait haven’t you already done that? Haven’t you already created? Shouldn’t I….

And God said, “create!”

Here is what baffles me about that. God didn’t create us out of something already created. He didn’t add on. He didn’t take characters someone else had formed.

He created us, formed us- out of NOTHING.

WITH HIS WORDS.

How do you even live in the same realm of creating when God himself the creator of creation is the one who tells you to create?

It’s hard for me to grasp that I create with words. Sometimes I don’t like to place my writing into a form of creating. God used words and BOOM universe.

A song lyric from my friend Allan’s song entitled “song of inheritance” punches me in the face every time I hear it

So scream out what you want and from chaos create because he gave you HIS voice and it’s filled with HIS power

Woof. I’v read, referenced and listened to this line hundreds of times. And yet it still gets me right in the knower when I think of what God created with words.

And I- whether I choose to believe it or not- create with words.

Oooof.

CREATE.

What’s really stopping me?

Because this parallel terrifies me.

Now let’s hit the brakes for a second. I’m not saying I can create exactly like God and abracadabra here’s another universe.

What I am saying is if I took the power that God has nestled in his pinky toe and used that to create what could I do?

We are ALL creators. All people have the ability to create something lovely, beautiful and God-breathed.

So why the heck don’t we?

Why the heck don’t I?

Why do I allow the silence around me not to be filled?

Maybe because I don’t necessarily know how to use that power.

I’m working on it. Figuring it out. Delving into the mystery that is creating things, making things alive with words.

That power was awakened in me in full force last summer amidst the unrelenting Mijas heat. It was nurtured with a some shabbas and a tough cookie or two.

This creative power, these words bubbling up inside of me are ones of which I want more.

I don’t know what I am going to create but I am.

So why don’t you?

Why don’t you find that thing that one thing where the power of God’s pinky toe is nestled in you and use it to create lovely and raw and life giving and changing all in the same breathe.

Use it.

I am.

(And yes, I will also still be reading fan fiction because I need to know what happens in 60 years when Bonnie dies and Elena wakes up and I need 200 different versions of Mindy and Danny’s life after baby)

stateside

if you have to choose, choose lovely.

I’m really not good at short and sweet blogs. I’m not great at just allowing myself to put a few hundred words on a WordPress page and press submit. Short amounts of words are for Facebook statuses and Instagram captions.

But what I want to say here, in this moment is this:

I need you, want you, IMPLORE you to choose loveliness.

The last couple weeks at work, while on my break, instead of grabbing my phone and scrolling through instagram and facebook for 15 minutes I’ve been grabbing something to drink and reading the book “Girl Meets God” by Lauren F. Winner.

On my mornings off I choose to take the time to make breakfast, brunch, whatever. Anything that requires chopping and cooking and smelling and tasting. I’ve been trying to remember to cook for people.

I’ve been reading news articles that are political, funny, literary, Gilbert Blythe related. I’m making sure I read other peoples’ words daily.

I’ve been taking time to blow dry my hair and wear it down. I’ve busted out summer dresses and earrings and big necklaces.

I’ve been reading my Bible again.

I’ve been having conversations full of life. Be it in person, on the phone, over Facetime, text, email.

I’m drinking my coffee out of mugs and mason jars.

I’m watching Disney movies with my nephew.

I’m printing pictures instead of just posting them.

I try to daily put loveliness in others lives in the form of a smile, some words, chocolate or a hug.

I’m daily choosing loveliness.

And as I have done this I have noticed something.

It’s changing me, my words and my days in big ways.

Choosing loveliness is helping me to choose better. To choose to walk in life, speak out life and choose things that are life.

Loveliness is different to everyone, but find what is lovely, find what is life giving to you and choose it each day and see how it changes your sight.

stateside

how criminal minds reminds me we need community

this post ran away from me. I’d like to dedicate to the occupants of the text conversations that pepper my inbox daily, people who I sit on couches with and those who I sit across skype screens from. you know who you are. thanks for being my back up.

If you could hack into my Netflix all you would see would be Criminal Minds. I think over the past month I’ve probably watched every episode I hadn’t seen before and I have tagged a few favorites that I’ve maybe watched twice…or three times.

Why Criminal Minds?

Well, for one thing, the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) is my favorite TV family. Hands down. It’s hard to describe, none of them are related but they are the most lovely picture of a family. They have each others back, they have community, spencer reid is the bees knees….

I digress.

So because I have been watching all these criminal, gun slinging, FBI, bad guy/good guy type shows it is usually what my mind refers to when in conversation when other people.

Even, when we are talking about Jesus and Satan.

Here’s the revelation that came today.

I was talking to one of my people about not knowing sometimes, when Satan is standing in front of you. And how we feel we should, at this point in our lives, be able to identify what he looks like.

Sometimes it is hard though. Really hard. And then you look back and you beat yourself up a bit for NOT recognizing the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

And today I thought of all the times on TV shows I have watched older agents/officers, take the newbies through the shooting ranges, specifically the ones where you have civilians and bad guys popping out from behind doors. It all happens so fast and you have to shoot the bad guys.

But what if the bad guy was dressed as a good guy?

Mistakes are made in those practice ranges, sometimes a reaction takes down a good guy, or a bad guy is dressed in maintenance uniform and the second it takes to register that he’s a bad guy KAPLOW he gets ya.

But as the officers get more seasoned, as they train more and get in real life scenarios they begin to get better at responding to situations and on the spot profiling someone. Their judgement becomes more attuned because they start to figuring out what small details can automatically give someone away.

But they aren’t perfect. They mess up sometimes.

There is an episode of Criminal Minds where they are dealing with a serial killer that went dormant for years and years. He only left one surviving victim who he stabbed 67 times.

You find out that this man actually stabbed himself 67 times. He was the serial killer.

The FBI met with this man, they interviewed him, they gave him protective detail. AND HE WAS THE KILLER.

Does this mean that they aren’t good at their job? That they aren’t good at what they do?

No, it just means this man was REALLY, REALLY good at what he does.

The devil is REALLY REALLY good at what he does. And sometimes, even with all the training we can miss him.

Sometimes I forget that, and sometimes I forget that I am still young. I haven’t had to go in with my gun and decipher good from bad. I still have to follow someone in, someone older and someone that has better judgement on the occasion.

We are supposed to learn, to notice the signs from someone more trained. And in life those people helps us see our blind spots. They help us figure out what something means in our lives. They help us figure out discernment.

And when the time comes that the training is over the agents never go out alone. They have a partner.

We aren’t supposed to go into things alone. There is a reason Jesus sent people out two by two and there is a reason why FBI agents have back ups. Maybe if I don’t notice the bad guy, the person behind me will.

I can normally distinguish when depression is creeping in when it is just that, depression. But sometimes it comes in forms that it hasn’t before. Because the devil is a trickster and he is going to try to come in the back door to get me. He sometimes dresses in grandma’s clothes and covers his ears. He sometimes is a bad guy dressed as the maintenance man.

I’m not in a place right now to automatically notice that the maintenance man is a bad guy with an AK47, but I’m getting there. I still have moments where I am more prone to fall in a trap then others, but I’m getting better. I’m starting to see the signs of pits I could fall in before I fall in them. Sometimes I get a little scraped up climbing out if I fall a little, but my judgement is getting better.

I’m not a senior agent yet and that’s ok. All the knowledge I have, all the time that I follow behind those who are older and wiser is adding to my profiling skills. I have partners when I go out on the field, and people I can consult with.

I have people who have my back. And who remind me where my blind spots are.

(And that’s really what this about.)

The unsub on these shows want so badly to separate the agents that come to get them. They want to divide them, because they are weaker when they are separate and more easily manipulated and pushed into a corner.

That’s why they are trained not to separate. That’s why we need to have each other’s backs. But sometimes you get pushed in a corner and can’t see what’s what. You feel discombobulated and your mind wanders and you don’t know what to do.

And THAT’S why we have back up.