Honest, I choose champagne

32: damn

Normally when I write a blog about a year in my life I go back over blogs and pictures and try to think of events and different highlights of the last 12 months in my life.

32 feels a bit like a blur of emotions.

It’s funny because big things happened. Good things, not so good things. Friendships dropped off, some became stronger.

I developed new traditions and became more rooted.

But, to me, if I had to think of a theme of this year I believe it is a theme of wrestling with God and myself.

32 was about working on healing from events that completely changed parts of myself. 32 was about wrestling with the desire to run. The desire to step away from being known. 32 has been about truly realizing who I am in spite of who I think I am.

I had a lot of hard conversations in 32. In all the areas of my life.

I had to come to terms (and I still am doing so) of being known. I had to come to terms with being good at what I do.

I had to come to terms that my relationship with God is directly correlated with how I view myself.

I don’t have a lot of answers at the end of 32.

I have a lot of tired. A lot of beverages. A lot of laughter. A lot of friends.

And I think, maybe, I have a lot of hope.

This one is short and sweet, because life seems more ongoing then it ever has and this season I’m living in feels very in the midst of and less at an actually end.

So. I guess all there is to say is this:

Thank you.

Thank you to all those this year who have given me space.

To all those this year who have NOT given me space.

To those I’ve split bottles of wine with.

(Or done shots of tequila with)

To those who have entrusted me with their tiny humans.

To those I share sacred space with.

Thank you to those who know my 20%.

To those who have listened to be ramble

And to those who have allowed me to listen to theirs.

Thank you to my people.

You know who you are.

Dear 32,

Damn.

Always,

Meghan

Honest, hope is a verb

To just BE (#7)

I had the realization as I was getting ready to come write that this would be my last silent Sunday in the bar as a 32 year old. I’m going to be on a plane next Sunday and then the Friday after that is my birthday.

It’s a bit overwhelming of a feeling for me. I have this wonderful middle of the year birthday. Almost like a new year in the middle of a year. I have a chance to hit refresh and pause and take a deep breath before I dive in to the crazy busy of summer and what feels like a fast forward on an already fast forwarded life.

But, that’s the ahead. Let’s look back instead.

I got a tattoo last week.

I wasn’t planning on it, it was a fleeting thought I mentioned to Victoria on Tuesday. So then, on Wednesday after work I text my roommate Patty and asked her to draw “be” for me. And an hour and 11 little sketches later, I was sitting in the chair at a tattoo parlor.

I am currently reading “Come Matter Here”. It’s a book by the lovely Hannah Brencher and it comes out on May 29. But, as I have been reading this book, I’ve had moments where I’ve thrown the book on the ground, where I have told it to shut up and where I have just started sobbing.

I’ve been reading Hannah’s blog for the last 3 years or so. I read her Monday morning emails as I fill bleach bottles and sort laundry at work. I know her words.

Her words, quite often have been mine.

She writes in “Come Matter Here” about getting a tattoo in the midst of a debilitating season of depression. She gets the word “stay”. Not necessarily in the moment to stay in a place. But to stay in the fight, stay in the struggle.

And as I read those words mere hours after mentioning the word “Be” to Victoria my brain started moving.

To “be” has been incredibly hard for me lately. To BE myself. To BE at peace. To BE present. To BE loved.

And of course, to BE with God.

This past season of my life in regards to God has been one of the most draining that I’ve ever walked through, solely because, I chose to still show up. I still chose to (for the most part) show up and be in the places that felt the most dangerously close to where God was.

I kept and keep showing up even when I don’t believe God himself is showing up.

“I am learning that God doesn’t bring us places to meet our expectations. For him, it’s a lot more about the transformation. He loves who we are, but he will never pass up on the chance to use life events to make us better.”

Come Matter Here*Hannah Brencher*pg71

This last stretch of time, this current moment I am in, has been about choosing to BE. In however that may look. And for me that choice is showing up and choosing to bring who I am to the table.

Because, my last in this list of meanings for a two letter word is this: BE at the table.

This past year I’ve wanted to run. Run fast away from the things inside of me, from the abilities and the pieces that I know I bring to the table, because it was too much.

Because as much as I preach that you have the thing that someone else needs, the responsibility inside of me felt daunting when my inability to believe was shaken.

To BE part of the puzzle was too much, too heavy.

I know, that I don’t have to be all the things. But, the energy to even be some of them was weighing down everything inside of me.

To be known, to be at the table.

To be noticed.

To take up space.

To be loved.

Now, doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?

That I have to coach myself into being ok with being known?

Being known, being seen and being present in that is horrendously scary.

But, as I have been told by multiple people in my life- it’s also my reality.

I am a human who is known. (Even when I think I am really good at not being known)

I am timid to write more declarations about choosing to BE in the year of 33.

But, what I think I can say is this:

I’m learned this year that in the places that I have MOST wanted to run from, the places where I’ve wanted to slip out before the end, the places where I didn’t want to participate or share or give, were in fact the places that I needed to BE the most.

I don’t know what my choice to be will bring me this year.

I just know, believe, choose to remember that the choice to be will bring more to myself than I was yesterday.

As always, deep breathes to the toes my friends.

Let’s be.

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

But first, celebrate.

About two months ago I had this outlandish idea. For my birthday, all I wanted to do was construct a big table, cook a bunch of food and combine all of my Bellingham friend groups.
Combining friend groups is tricky. Mixing and mingling between multiple groups of humans where, for the most part, you’re the only bridge.

that one time I combined multiple friend groups in the OC before I left the country.

Here in Bellingham I have those I’ve met at A Life and those I’ve met at the Y.

They are the both eclectic, diverse and weird groups of humans.

So, I found tables, asked people to bring chairs and (mostly) sparkly beverages. I bought 25 lbs of chicken. I borrowed crockpots and my neighbor’s kitchen space. My roommate decorated and I scrubbed our back porch with bleach.

And I cooked and chopped and sliced.

And then when people started showing up, I put them to work. 

I wish I had taken a picture, but I will have to settle for a mental image. Friends, from two different parts of my life, shredding chicken, cutting watermelon, mixing coleslaw, hauling chairs, setting up tables, sprinkling confetti. Friends who have spent time in my house separately, grabbing cups out of the cupboard and ice out of the freezer and knowing where the forks live.

At about 7:35, when all the food was out, when everyone had a beverage and was laughing and talking, I paused.

See, I was celebrating my birthday. That’s true.

But really, I was celebrating my people. My community.

I wanted to build a table, so that my people could bring some chairs to it and we could laugh and talk and eat.

It wasn’t perfect.

Everyone I wanted to be there couldn’t.

But there was no shame.

Only celebration.

My table, my heart and my life in that moment, was full.

The thing that I love about the people in my life, whether here, in Irvine, in Kingsburg, or scattered around the world is that when the time and the space happens where we can sit around a table it’s normally for one specific reason. 

To celebrate.

When I finally get to see people in my life that I never see, we don’t tend to jump straight into serious conversation. I spent an entire day sitting in silence with my friend Tiffany even though I hadn’t seen her for well over a year. She didn’t have the time to hang out and talk as she was studying for the GMAT, but I just wanted to be in her space.

Jess, my best friend of about twenty-eight years, and I, see each other so infrequently, but we always take time to laugh, reminisce and drink Dutch Brothers.

The crew of humans I will be seeing in about three weeks, I see most of them once a year. And we will spend a lot of our week at a table, eating bad camp food and being tired.

But we will show up and we will laugh. And celebrate. (And drink A LOT of coffee)

Community has become such a buzzword lately. It feels as if it’s binding. And serious.

But, it’s not.

There is a time and a place and a sacred circle. 

But we need to make time, more time, to celebrate. The more we choose to celebrate, the more foundation we have to stand on for those more serious hard moments.

The more we celebrate, the better position we are in to grieve with and console.

The more we sit and celebrate, the more space we have in someone else’s life.  

Community, establishing it, living in it, being a part of more then one, is gritty. Sometimes you only come to them once a year, sometimes once a week. Sometimes someone can’t come, but now, you just have an open seat.

I came to Bellingham to be a part of a church.


I got so much more.

I got so many more people then I could have even fathomed. 

When you make showing up your norm, when you meet people where they are, when you don’t shame the ones who aren’t capable of showing up, you clean out the clutter and you are left with celebration.

My birthday dinner taught me a lot of things: I am loved, I can cook for thirty people stateside, I am loved, I have hysterical friends, I am known and when you lead with celebration at the table, people will come to it.

Let’s build our lives on celebration and joy, so that when the dark and the hard and sad comes, we will have a foundation to sit with each other and the space to do so.

Honest, washington whimsy

My dear 31, you were kind of a bitch.

The kind of lovely thing about a basically mid year birthday is that you can stop and reflect about what has happened since the calendar year changed as well as what has gone on since your age changed last.
Seven out of the twelve months of this year were lived in 2016.

And we all know what kind of year 2016 was.

I’ve been trying my best to separate 31 from 2016. I’ve been trying to be glass half full, or at least glass refillable.

But what I’ve realized is that 31 was like an avocado that is starting to go bad. You have to work for the good parts, because man, those parts are ripe and perfect and it’s a crime to throw away edible avocado. So, you slice and spoon out and flick the black bruised parts into the trash.

And some of them end up in your guacamole, or in your nachos, or spread on your toast (SO WHAT I’M BASIC).

It might make your mouth a little puckered, but you wouldn’t have even had the chance to have any of it if you’d chosen to chuck the whole thing.

There have been A LOT of times over 31 that I wanted to chuck the whole thing. I wanted to chuck bellingham, my job, any chance of dreams. I wanted to chuck my voice, my abilities, my hope because I was running into a lot of bruised parts. Some days it felt like too many.

Some days, I felt like the bruised part in other people’s life.
I think if I had to take anything away from the last year of my life, it is this: “but I didn’t.”

But I didn’t run.

But I didn’t stay silent (most of the time).

But I didn’t stop making friends.

But I didn’t stop celebrating.

But I didn’t stop showing up.

But I didn’t stop loving.

But I didn’t stop seeing the best in people.

But I didn’t let my tears stop falling.

But I didn’t stop baking.

And even though this is the hardest one: But I didn’t stop hoping. 

31 you were beautiful.

You had a lot of tears, some weddings, sweet baby Peyton, some surprises, a lot more two year olds then I ever imagined I’d ever interact with in my life, you had board games and nights out and nights in. You brought new humans into my life, kept so many old, you had celebration and laughter. You had beer, margaritas and let’s be real: tequila. 

31, as with every other year in my life, I do appreciate you. I appreciate the fight you’ve given me. I appreciate the tears and the days the tears never came. I appreciate the belly laughter, I appreciate that you were my second year in Bellingham. You were the year I established more and floundered less.

I appreciate you, but, if you would be so kind:

Please bring on 32.

Here’s to 32.

To more hope.

To more joy.

To more life.

To more beautiful surprises.

(And to less two year olds- 32 is more of a “three year old” kind of year)

And here’s to the people of my 31 (obviously not all pictures. I only get nine guys!)


I freaking love you people.

I know it’s (almost) my birthday, but it’s you I want to celebrate.

Thank you for being hope, light, joy, laughter, and (buying me) tequila, to me.

Thank you all for being my people. Each and everyone of you, close as the next room and far as across an ocean, I love you all.

washington whimsy

a thankful thirty

I have been sitting in front of my computer for a a couple days trying to explain what thirty has been. I turn 31 on June 1 and as per my writing tradition I’m looking back on thirty and seeing what’s up.

This is the first year since I was 26 that I spent 90% of my year in one place.

I haven’t stayed for a long time.

And that’s what 30 was about really.

30 was about staying.

And good lord, it’s been difficult.

And that’s what I was going to write about.

But here’s the thing: when I focus my topic on that–it’s what I am going to see. So instead: here is a list of 30 things I am grateful for in thirty. Serious, lovely, funny, food based. And of course, in categories.

Days of the week:

{all these days of the week activities don’t happen every week, but they happen enough with people I adore, to remind me that I live a very full life}

1. Dawson’s Monday’s

2. Red light Tuesday’s

3. Woods Wednesday’s

4. Happy hour Thursday

5. Beer Friday

6. Mimosa Saturday

7. Brunch Sunday

Daily gratitude:

{a mishmash of three things}

8. LaCroix (hydration obsession)

9. Washer/dryer (adulting)

10. My long hair (self-control to not chop my hair)

Places:

11. Orange County (always in my heart)

12. Bellingham (a whimsy, weird town full of wacky)

13. The Liberty house (a place of comfort and piece)

14. The table (a place to land)

15. My own room (the first since I was 18)

16. The yellow house (home)

Words:

17. Group text (hometeam, pegarina, triumvirate, PNW birds, three wines, “but the children love the books”, sister tables, the choi’s)

18. IMsg/what’s app (ways to connect with: India, Memphis, Mijas, Oxford, Jacksonville, Nashville, Atlanta, Kingsburg and everywhere in between)

19. Email (wisdom, sanity, challenge, joy)

20. Snail mail (thoughtfulness)

People:

21. My parents (belief, trust, love)

22. Jess (always)

23. Melissa (truth, growth, change, sarcasm, real)

24. Royal family (safety, belief, family)

25. The Y (laughter, growth, trust, blessing)

26. Tribe (near, far, never met, known my whole life, spent five minutes with, likeminded, HA)

27 Abundant Life (blessing, growth, challenge, laughter, home, me)

28. bellingfamily (who would have thought: my people)

29. PReed ( singing in the car to that one tow’rs song, yelling, dreaming, dancing in the hallway. Love. Chick emoji.)

And what is #30?

Both/And.

I’m grateful for this year, because it has caused me, pushed me, challenged me, aggravated me, to live in tension. To live in the black and white.

To live in a world of both/and.

So, thank you thirty, for your difficulties. Thank you for making me step out in ways I thought I couldn’t, for not scolding me when I didn’t.

Thank you for beer and friends and tiny humans and coworkers for bringing me sanity.

Thank you for being a year where I was placed in a place that I was cared about in before I was even known.

Thank you for knowing better then I did sometimes that I would stay where my feet are.

Thank you for prayers and prophecy and a culture that makes that daily practice.

Thank you for tables, this yellow house and people who know who I am when I don’t.

Thank you, thirty, for bringing me to Bellingham, even when I have kicked and screamed.

Here’s to 31.

I’ll have more eloquent words for you. But for now: see ya in a week.

To dream

29: Sorry Mr. Demaris, I need to relearn spanish.

26. (you were a wacky ride)

27.(you went whoosh)

28.(I’m gonna need a new passport)

Good heavens.

I started my 28th birthday in the midst of running across the Istanbul airport trying to get to the correct gate to catch our flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. South Africa in that moment was probably my most favorite country in the world. And I was going to get the chance to spend my first month of being 28 nestled in the outskirts of my favorite city getting to spend my days doing ministry, living on a guava farm and of course getting to look at Table Mountain every day.

IMG_8806((my 28th birthday on a plane))

And what a start it gave 28.

The first 5 months of my 28 was spent in foreign countries. South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland THAILAND, Cambodia, Malaysia.

I slept in a stable, in my tent in the middle of a village, on a foam mattress in the middle of a team house, in a tent in a house surrounded by lizards, in a strip mall, in (a lot ) of hostels.

piclab-26((randy&betsy// two people who brought me more wisdom and love than I could ever fathom in my 28))

I did life with some utterly amazing people. I saw elephants and lions and so many giraffes. I hitchhiked down African roads. I laid hands on people and saw demons physically come out of them. I cooked for 100 widows and orphans on $30. I taught english, gave singing lessons, drank a lot of coffee, held babies, held some more babies, I filled up journals, wrote blogs, ate roti, cleaned   bathrooms everywhere, ran in the southeast asian humidity, baked cakes, and drank some more coffee.

IMG_8811((just a perfect day off with some amazing, truth speaking, lovely people))

I cooked for my family of 50 and got blisters cutting up butternut squash.

I found out that I was truly a BA

I fell in love with the city of Bangkok.

IMG_8809((my cooking crew in swaziland. cooking butternut squash mac n cheese for Nsquad))

And with street food in Mozambique.

I was reminded of my love for leading worship.

I learned so much about myself.

More than I can even begin to fathom.

And then that journey ended.

IMG_8810

((my BA women in Swazi))

I remember sitting in my counselor office on my first Thursday in the states.

Did that just happen?

IMG_8808.PNG

((the 112//no words needed))

Was it a dream?

And now almost 6 months later I can say it wasn’t.

These last 6 months I’ve reconnected with friends. I’ve had numerous skype dates and facetime calls holding onto the relationships I made last year. I’ve gone to Georgia and got to do life in the states if but for a moment with those I treasure.

IMG_8807

((i carry you in my heart))

I’ve got in and out of darkness over the last 6 months. In and out of ruts. I’ve curled up on the couches at my best friend’s house and laughed with her and her sweet girls. I’ve gone to orange county and laughed in an apartment that holds so many memories. I’ve sat in the same chair at a new coffee shop in my hometown and poured out so many of my feelings and heartaches.

((I still haven’t had the Choprah))

I’ve written A LOT.

IMG_8802

((the bestie and my goddaughters// my loves.))

I’ve realized I’m so much further from what I once was than I thought.

I’ve seen God in a new way.

I’ve made a decision to walk over fear and keep going.

28 was up, down, in and out. 28 makes me long for foreign breezes and watching the sun tuck behind an ocean that is not my own.

The beginning of 28 oddly enough felt like home and the end has felt murky.

I’m going to spend the beginning of 29 on a foreign lands.

IMG_8805

 

((our first family picture in 20 years. My older brothers and I))

I have so many hopes, dreams and passions and the beginning of 29 feels like the start.

I wish I could properly articulate why this next step is so important. It’s happening because of all I learned about myself in 28. There is still more to do and grow.

28 rocked me and changed me.

I literally and metaphorically conquered mountains.

IMG_8804

 

((members of Team V who conquered Table Mountain in South Africa))

It allowed me to be able to stand on the edge and yell that I am worth it.

29 is going to be apart of helping me believe it and 29 is going to be rough as I take an even bigger plunge.

28 was a turning point. Showing me that I never want to live in a world where God is only as big as we make him.

Because he is so much bigger. And I’m going to spend 29 and beyond pressing into that and showing those around me His truth.

IMG_8812

 

((hashtuck// ankgor wat, Cambodia))

((I still need some help to get there. If you want to join me in my 29 adventure and partner with me please check this out.))