Honest, I choose champagne

2016.2017.2018. Let’s just be who we are.

I am sitting in my favorite bar, as it becomes increasingly more crowded than normal on a Sunday early evening. Most are in pairs, or groups. I’m the sole solitary human, sitting at my favorite table tucked in the corner. My back is against the window and I am directly next to an outlet and the exposed brick.

I am pretty comfortable sitting by myself in most places. I am fine shopping by myself, I’ve traveled across an ocean and been alone in the Istanbul airport more than any other airport in the world.

I almost always get slight amounts of anxiety right before going somewhere by myself or to an event with a large amount of people. But here, and a smattering of coffee shops, public transport and airplanes- I am always good.

This year, I believe, has been about being as home as I possible can be in my own skin, in my own identity. It’s been about being where my feet are.

I don’t always do well at this.

But, I am trying.

And now, it’s the end of the year. Now, for me personally, 2017 has been eons better than 2016. But, as my work wife has pointed out, 2017 hasn’t been all confetti, champagne and sunshine.

In reality, I said the F word more times this year than last. I lost more faith in people than I ever have. I have had more anxiety and more moments of being alone.

I haven’t been as constantly exhausted but I for sure have hit more walls of “all done friends”. My schedule has been more busy than I think it has been in a long time.

And that isn’t going change when the clock strikes midnight and turns the year to 2018. Last year, I remember sitting, shortly after midnight, in my sparkly gold dress, barefooted, on the porch of my friend’s house, watching the snow fall with a glass of champagne that slowly became mixed with the tears falling down my cheeks. All I wanted was for the world around me to feel different.

I tried to believe it did- but it didn’t.

So I became busy in 2017. I did a lot of things. I rarely had a week go by that didn’t involve at least 3/5ths of the weekdays being filled with something, be it working at my church, hanging out with someone or having an event or organized group situation.

I think part of my reasoning for becoming busy was that busy equaled full. That my life could be classified as full because it was busy.

I could say that my life was full because my laundry had piled up to overflowing in my closet and didn’t even care that there were dishes in the sink.

Busy meant not being able to stop to hear what I needed to hear.

Back in August, a part time job popped up at a different church. It would have been 10-20 extra hours a week being a children’s director of a local churches smaller downtown campus.

It would mean a lot of things: extra income, no free time, getting paid to do something I know I love (and am good at), having no social life and not getting to go to the church I adore.

But, I had done that exact same thing before so I knew I was capable of that schedule.

I had a random day off in August, the day after the ad had been discovered. I had coffee with a good friend, lunch with my roommate and obviously talked to both about it. I headed for home to work on my cover letter and resume.

Because of applying for this job, I ended up having a very honest conversation with one of the pastors at my church. Through the conversation we had, I realized that I was running from being known. She, of course, called me on all these things, as she should.

I didn’t end up interviewing for the job. In all reality, though I want a job like that, but working 60 hours a week and moving from the two places where I feel like myself in Bellingham was not the best idea.

In reality, most of this year I’ve been running. I’ve been running from stopping, from thinking and from pushing in.

I have in certain places and situations. There are friends in my life with whom I can never run from my problems around. But I have reached that place here in Bellingham where I am known and that’s terrifying.

So, why have I said all of this?

It’s simple actually.

I want to encourage you not to make resolutions.

(What?)

I just want to encourage you to step more into who you are everyday. No matter what.

I spent this year trying to busy everything so far away, in the name of my resolutions that I forgot parts of who I was. When those parts were awakened they felt like hope, when in reality they should have just felt like me.

December 31rst and January 1 are no different from today and tomorrow.

There is symbolism in the changing of the year. It is a new book in your life. But it’s not a separate book. It’s a continuation.

So, as the holidays kick in full force and as my kitchen get covered in flour and coconut sugar. As we celebrate the year, the now and the yet to come, I want to remind you that the changing of a calendar doesn’t change who you are.

I want to encourage you to hope for more, but not put the more on a new year.

Don’t run from who you’ve become in all the things. Grab who all the things have made you.

Right now. Today.

Here, in this bar, where I am the only solitary human, I am being where my feet are more than I have in a long time.

Right now. Today

washington whimsy

so, I can store the suitcase?

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel the urge to write because normally what follows it is the unbelievably annoying nagging feeling that I cannot give up until I put words to a page that aren’t backspaced or deleted.

Writing is something that comes so naturally to me when my brain is working in the proper creative way that it is supposed too; but then again when I just let my mind and fingers directly colliding with each other with the middleman of an outline I find that I get the truest words out.

I’ve been in Bellingham for 13 days now. Thursday starts week 3. And I don’t think–outside of emails– I’ve written anything. A friend asked me today what I needed prayer for in this transition and I said “a creative space”.

But I realized a little later, after cooking dinner and folding clothes that I need to start realizing that I create all the time. That just by my spirit being in this place it is a “creative space”.

It’s difficult to realize that sometimes. It’s difficult to realize that our presence in a room brings something to it, that who we are changes the atmosphere. I think that it has been the most difficult for me in this place because for the first time in about 3 years I technically do have ownership over a place. My name is on a lease.

That’s a hard thing to wrap my mind around. That this place, that I wake up in and come back after work, this place that has already been flooded with Holy Spirit and laughter and food and joy, is mine.

I’ve missed that. I’ve missed laying my head down in a place that I can call my own. I’ve missed feeling ownership over a place.

And I think all of those things is why it took me a moment to realize that I’m no longer in a place where I am preparing to leave.

We move through our high school, college and post college life mostly preparing to move. Preparing to change schools, go to grad school, get a raise. We are so quick to get out of a season and go to the next.

I’ve always grab the phrase that was spoken to me so many times by the wise Betsy “present over perfect”, but now the hit me because in all honesty there is nothing my mind is grappling with outside the everyday (family, friends, work, etc.).

I’m not preparing to leave.

I’m just living.

Living in my own space, with my people.

LIVING.

That’s a big word, that has rolled around in my head more then I’d care to admit.

I think I had forgotten how to just live.

Bellingham is different then any other place I’ve ever laid my head for an extended period of time.

And that’s wonderful.

And I think it’s perfect for me to begin to live in this way, in this place, as who I know I am to be.

I’ll never forget the first time I met someone who would end up being a college roommate of mine. I was in the elevators in Catalina Hall during music camp and I gleefully introduced myself to Deanna. Because I had chosen to be outgoing and put a new foot forward.

But here, I don’t have to put a new foot forward.

I just have to put myself.

This has been a ramble, an attempt to hit the things that have been circling in my mind.

Bellingham is good.

I’m realizing it’s for me. I’m choosing to live.

And I’m me.

That’s all.

Honest, stateside

Foreshadowing

“God is a novelist. He uses all sorts of literary devices: alliteration, assonance, rhyme, synecdoche, onomatopoeia. But of all of these, His favorite is foreshadowing.And that is what God was doing at the Cloisters and with Eudora Welty. He was foreshadowing. He was laying traps, leaving clues, clues I could have seen had I been perceptive enough.” Lauren F. Winner (girl meets god)

I marked foreshadowing in my AP language novels in high school with pink highlighter. Finding foreshadowing and figure out where it was, is one of my favorite past times.

I’m a literary nerd. Deal with it.

I love calling things in TV shows and movies. I think I’m pretty good at doing it. Seeing what a character says to realize a key plot point it going to occur or more often than not someone is either going to die/come back to life.

In my years of Bible classes and theology studies I’ve found that there is beautiful foreshadowing all over scripture.

God wants us to know what is going to happen. He spells it out. He shows us that the whole time He has a plan. He is going to see it through.

It’s not about searching for the answers or using it like a magic 8 ball. It’s about asking the right questions and figuring out why He tells us certain stories or asks us to learn certain lessons.

I’ve recently come to the huge revelation that Christ was always there; he was ALWAYS in me. It was never about me ACCEPTING him into my heart or “opening the door” to let Him in~ it was about realizing that He was always there. He was infiltrating parts of my life already. God was, is and will always be in my life.

I need to continue to see the foreshadowing of Christ in my life. The foreshadowing of the moment that I would fully realize that He was there. That He was always there. Where He had highlighted in pink in my life story so that maybe one day I could realize and see that He was always with me; even when I wasn’t with him.

It brings my peace now. It brings me hope for myself in ways I can’t really describe. And it shows His protection in places where I needed it and now I realize it was always there.

It shows me that my heart has always been focused on his heart even when I wasn’t defining it by the parameters of Christ.

The good in this world isn’t waiting for Christ to come. The good in this world IS Christ. Even when it isn’t defined by His name.

Honest, stateside

wash & dry in under 2 hours

The appliance I have come to most appreciate after all of my time overseas is the dryer.

Not the stove, or the fridge but the dryer.

(though the stove and fridge fall quick in line behind)

Today, at the lovely home I am staying at, I knew that I needed to do laundry. I’m almost at the bottom of the barrel of underwear which is honestly my key deciding factor in doing laundry.

So this afternoon as I was pulling clothes out and deciding what to wash the thought occurred to me, “Oh wait, I need to wear these jeans tonight so I can’t wash them.”

My mind went on autopilot and already started calculating how many days it would take my clothes to dry. It calculated how long it would take my clothes to catch up to me.

But of course, I’m not international anymore.

I don’t have to leave my clothes hanging upstairs, or be fearful it’s going to rain. “Lavanderia” no longer has to be one of the first words I learn in a foreign country.

Because, next to the washer, in the garage is of course a dryer. My load of clothes was washed and dried in under two hours.

I didn’t have to wait for my clothes to catch up to me.  Didn’t have to pretend those clothes don’t exist for one or two days because they are stuck in the purgatory off the drying rack.

I think that in this world of therapy (of which I am an advocate of) and processing (of which I get the concept///hate the word) we sometimes forget that we don’t have to wait for lessons to catch up to us. We forget that we don’t have to pretend that we don’t “get it” yet and we can just live it.

Sometimes we can just put something new on and be done with it.

I think I’ve been timid the last couple of weeks to allow myself to just step into what I have learned and done. Almost like I took all of the clothes I got in Spain and set them out to dry instead of popping them into the dryer and putting them right back on.

There is a time to let truths sink in, and there is a time to repeat them so they are true.

But why don’t we wear them through that process?

Why don’t we choose to believe that we don’t have to catch up to something that was so truly already inside of us?

I got off to a shaky start here in the OC.

I got a lot of lies spit at me. I didn’t believe them. I put them aside, but also thought I had to find my footing when I really didn’t.

I was told I had to process.

I didn’t need too.

I was choosing to believe I couldn’t just pull my big girl pants out of my suitcase and put them on and live. I’ve had a hard time communicating that beyond text messages and stream of consciousness emails.

I thought United States Meg had to catch up to Spain Meg.

But they are the same people.

I no longer have to let my clothes air dry and catch up to me a few days later.

So I guess my challenge to you today is this:

If you’ve had revelation or truth spoken at you; if you’ve come to the realization that something you’ve known all your life is a lie?

 Walk in it.

Claim it.

It doesn’t have to be something you hang up on the clothesline to dry so you can put it back on again.

Pop it in the dryer and wear it.

It’s for you.

Today.

Honest, Spain g42

I hate change.

I’ve sat in front of my computer and feel like I’ve started multiple blogs and most times I’ve written, “I don’t know what to say”.

But of course that’s a major lie.
8 times out of 10 I know what I want to say.
What I’m learning is when or when it is not the time to say them.

Right now there are an incredible amount of thoughts, plans, stories stocked piled in my brain that I want to share. It’s so much that I don’t really know where to start. My mind flits from topic, to tangent and I end up sitting in front of my screen deleting full paragraphs of what I have started, shutting my computer and calling it a day.

Today I’m choosing to write about one I’ve been thinking on for awhile.

I have a word that I realize I despise almost as much as “process”.

CHANGE.

I despise the word change. Every day we are attacked with things we need to change.

Changing how you eat.
Changing how you act.
Changing who you are.

But is it really about change?

About 4 years ago I got this tattoo.
image-22
I got it after year of battling, surging through and living in depression.

Restored is finalized. Done. Finished.

That’s what I wanted to be. I didn’t want to have a present tense word tattooed on me for eternity; I wanted something that spoke of an act already completed.

In the process of life I wasn’t “changing” into a less depressed person, I was become restored into something I was already.

Take a painting for example; it’s battered, torn, ripped. A person doesn’t look at it and decide well, it has done its job, might as well scrap the thing and move on. Nope, they call in someone who restores. Who will take the pieces that are there and bring it back to its original likeness.

And that is why I hate the word change.
God doesn’t want to CHANGE us. For heavens sakes, he CREATED us. He saw us in our original beautiful form. He wants to bring us back to where we once were.

He wants to bring us back to the original likeness he created.

I think that we so often think we need to “change” because we don’t actually know what we are supposed to be.
I don’t know how many times I can say it: We don’t need to change. Change means scrap the whole thing; it means take nothing of ourselves. And God gave us so many crazy talents, gifts and desires to use.
So many to keep.

God wants to restore the world. He wants to show us what He really made us to be. That’s why it never works to go into a third world country and try to get them to act like America and do life like America; that’s not how they were designed. We can help them find what they’ve lost in themselves.

I will never ask you to change who you are. Because deep down in all of us is the foundation of encouraging, of service, giving, and love. It’s all in there. We just need to chip away at the things that hide them.

We need to bring in the one who does an amazing job at restoring masterpieces and have him work on the rips and the blemishes.

So as I walked to Spar today and especially over the last few weeks of the new term; I’ve realized that God is restoring me to what I am supposed to be. I’m different. New, strong.

My joy has been restored.

And it’s not from asking God to change me or make me into some new. It’s from walking with Him each day, in the good and the bad and seeing who HE is and in that seeing who I am.

I’m not new. I’m just me. Restored. Realizing passions and dreams that are becoming a doable reality right out in front of me.

Restoration isn’t easy. It’s hard work, it’s allowing some tears to be torn a little more. It’s not about scrapping and starting over.
It’s about doing the work that needs to be done.
It’s about living like you were made for something.
Not like you were made to be something else.

Let’s stop changing.
Let’s get into the business of restoration.

Honest, Spain g42

it just comes to us

My journal is a scary place right now.

And I’m starting a new one tomorrow.

It’s mainly notes from 8 weeks or so of class here in Spain with bits and pieces of thoughts and revelation intertwined in the pages.

I’ve sorted a lot of it out through asking questions and conversations over coffee, tea and wine. But the pages of my journal are a mess of words, phrases and scribbles.

And if there is one theme that weaves it’s way through all of it, it’s the theme of identity.

We talk about identity so much in this world. And as someone who has spent most of her Christian life in bible studies with groups of women it’s a topic that causes me to roll my eyes.

I don’t think we need to SEARCH so hard for our identity.

I think it just comes to us.

That’s why my journal is peppered with talk of identity.

Because as I learn more and more about this new face of Jesus I’m seeing who I am.

We live this life where we strive to find identity in everything that we do. In everywhere we go.

But what if we didn’t need to strive? What if we didn’t need to search for things that give us clues to who we are but what if instead we searched to learn about who Jesus was and is presently.

I’ve been learning something beautiful the last 2 months: I’ve been learning about who God IS. And he definitely isn’t a lot of what I’ve heard all my life.

He’s joyous. He delights in us. He gives us keys to the plans he has and tells us to run with them. He does not want to check our every decision.

He just wants us to be who he created us to be. Because those creations are vibrant and lovely already.

So while I’ve been searching for this identity it’s honestly been right in my front of my face.

I am who God created me to be.

I don’t need bible studies or books or anything to figure that out.

I just need to walk arm and arm with God and hear what he tells me, through so many varities of ways and I need to pick up what’s meant for me.

Nothing more, nothing less

hope is a verb, Spain g42, To dream

Cake with Jam

Before coming to Spain I had the vague idea of what I wanted to do. But mainly I just had this large pile of things that I wanted to be involved in. Passions, gifts, talents, words. Just in this bag of tricks that I lugged with me over an ocean.

I had no idea what to do with it.

A few weeks into my time in Spain we held the inaugural g42 reunion. Alumni from the first five years came from all over the globe to remember and celebrate what God had done and was doing, to lift one another up, to visit this place so many people still call home and of course to establish more vision in the next years of life.

The house I live in is the bigger of the two so we hosted ten alumni and in that group was the Harder family. Steve and Jo Harder and their beautiful boys who are missionaries to Ukraine.

Jo is a kindred spirit.

She is a powerful, strong, vibrant woman who hears wonderful, beautiful truths from God.

At the reunion kickoff we had a time of prayer and prophecy and Jo shared a word she had. She wasn’t sure who it was for but she knew she had to share it.

She shared a picture of this person who was holding all of this JAM. It was dripping out of their hands and the person wasn’t sure what to do with it all. Jo reiterated that she didn’t know who it was for, but if it was for you then to come see her.

I didn’t give it a second thought. Mainly because I was in an incredibly emotionally, overwhelmed place and also because I didn’t WANT to hear it.

(you see where this is going don’t you)

So that evening after worship was over I had two people come up and say they thought of me when the “jam hands” picture was given. Why? The week prior I had made a wedding cake and the filling? Raspberry jam.

But, like I said I wasn’t in the place or the mindset. And also like I said in this last blog; I feel as if God has been “saving thoughts” for me and this thought; this picture was one he saved for me.

A couple weeks later during class we were doing the process of identity mapping and while Zach was getting his done I suddenly had this thought:

What if I opened a secondhand bookstore?

There it was. A random thought in the middle of class on a Thursday morning.

What if I opened a secondhand bookstore and taught creative writing classes?

image

I wrote a little more and then stopped.

What if I taught story? Through everything in this little bookstore.

Through creative writing, through baking, through book clubs, through sharing and laughing over good food.

 Wow.

Since going on the world race I’ve known that for the rest of my life I want to sit across tables from people. I want to hear story and see what is going on the lives of those around me.

I am honored that I get the privilege of hearing what God is doing and being able to speak into what God is doing and where he is going in someone’s life.

I’ve also known that I want to tell my story and let other’s use it in their lives.

I want to teach things that are good for the heart. I want to use the things I have been given to speak into other’s lives.

I want to create a space out of which people can MOVE.

But my thought prior to this random moment of revelation was where in the WORLD can I do this? Is this just a lifestyle that I am going to live? Is this a ministry I will step into?

But there wasn’t enough for me in that.

And then sitting in the class in the middle of the morning I just knew.

I knew I had found something that was more.

I knew I had found something that terrified me.

I knew that I was standing there with jam on my hands

Later that same afternoon I did my identity mapping up front. And one the questions that was asked of me was this: Where do you see yourself in 30 years.

My answer: Standing on my porch.

So what does that mean?

That I own a house.

WHAT?

And suddenly everything that I had ever thought was gone and I was choosing to believe in myself more. Choosing to believe that I could do more then just sit across from someone at a coffee shop.

So that’s where I am going to leave this.

image

That’s where I am going to leave you.

With the fact that there is more for me then I ever actually thought possible.

I’m dreaming big, creating a plan to get there. It’s not a next year plan, or even two years, but a long term plan.

Dreaming, thinking and invisoning the future.

I’m here in Spain for 3 more months and would be honored if you would consider partnering with me in further what I’ve learned and done here.

To see ways that you can journey with me check this out.

I’ll leave you with a verse from class today; the prayer of Jabez. It encourages me to dream, hope, and long for more.

1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

It gives me the courage to know that I CAN do more with all this jam on my hands.