Honest, ramblings

words about my ever-changing faith

Six years ago I was returning home from training camp for the world race.

World race training camp 2012

It’s funny because at that point my world had been turned upside down multiple times and at training camp it was turned upside down again.

I didn’t know a lot about God then even though I’d been a Christian for 14 years at that point and went to a Christian university.

But it seems that the more “Christian” things I’ve been apart of the more changes I’ve seen happen in myself in regards to my faith and identity.

I don’t think anything I’ve been a part of is bad: It hasn’t in any way, shape or form caused me to want to not believe God or run from the faith I have.

If anything what it’s done is cause me to settle even more into finding who I am outside of the church and christianity. It’s been more about finding who God says I am by the life experiences and interactions I have in daily life.

It’s more about finding out who I am not, through the life experiences and interactions I have in daily life.

When I came home from the world race I was a wreck. Well, I became a wreck about a couple months later. Then, I went to Spain and it was better.

And then I came to Bellingham and the wrecking ball came again.

It’s not even that I have doubted more, because I’ve definitely had times that I’ve doubted more than the last three years.

I think, that my faith and my life, since doing all these “Christian things” has been more about the realization that God, faith, all of those things are so much bigger than people give them credit for.

I don’t make decisions based on my faith, or the fact that I’m a Christian, or my conscious or whatever else you may call it.

I make decisions based on who I am.

And who I am changes. Not because I’m reinventing myself but because I am learning more about myself each day.

Yep folks, each day.

So it makes sense that my faith would turn and grow and change.

I want to take the shame out of reframing your mind. Letting your faith be shaken, walking away for a moment to figure something out.

I know not everyone agrees with me on that.

But, walking away from something doesn’t mean you are running away.

Sometimes, walking away is the only way to guarantee that you are going to stay.

Today, in church, I realized that I have some pillars in my life that hold up the makeshift house of my faith that aren’t necessarily super sturdy.

In non-Christian verbiage, I realized today, that there are pieces of myself, pieces of my identity that I think are major parts of myself that actually aren’t.

I realized today that my identity isn’t based on my faith. And the more I learn about myself, the more I realize that my faith doesn’t make me who I am.

I think my faith allows me to look at things through a different lens just as any set of beliefs would.

My faith does add to who I am, but it’s not the only thing.

And it’s ok if it changes and evolves.

You aren’t less of a human if your mind changes, if you find out more information, if something doesn’t settle with you.

You aren’t less of a human if you allow yourself to grow.

My faith has grown, been stretched, fallen away, come back again and evolved over the past 10 years immensely.

I think in this time in our world it’s more important than ever to listen to what’s happening around you. Listening to your faith, or spirit or whatever and know that we can’t change anything if we don’t allowing ourselves to change.

And know that it’s ok to change.

As humans we grow and change and collect more data every day.

But, even in that and with that I will always be me.

And you, my friend, will always be you.

Honest

We are more than summer

I think, currently, my life is full of a lot of boxes of “things I shouldn’t talk about”.

My brain and heart feel empty and full all at the same time.

Last week, one of the father figures in my life was in town and as I walked up to him to hug him I automatically felt the need to put on one of the many cloaks in my life. This one was the “it’s fine, everything is fine” cloak. I had enough concealer on my face to cover up the bags under my eyes and the lines on my face and the wrinkles from stress.

(The fact that I didn’t automatically burst into tears when he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek said enough for my ability to hold it together).

A little later when I was talking to him, he mentioned something he always mentions (if you know who I am talking about you know what it was: “where are all the men?!” 😂😂)

And I responded, “yes, but I am good. Sometimes it’s harder, but I’m good”.

And he responded how he always does with me, “I know”.

But then, he told me I looked stronger.

He didn’t mean physically, I haven’t been pumping iron (just throwing axes, but like that’s another story). I didn’t tell him much in our short conversation, but basically just said that I’ve been wrestling with some things.

I think, well, I know, the reason I haven’t written much this year at all, actually hasn’t been because I haven’t had words. I believe I have.

And it’s for this reason: I am not solely the things I am wrestling with, stressed about, struggling with, dealing with.

I am not just a preschool teacher.

I am not just a single female.

I am not just a Christian.

I am a hell of a lot more than all of that.

I am a person who truly, truly desires to speak things out, to pour out what is happening in my life to support and encourage others.

I honestly just want you to know that you matter and you aren’t alone and above all that you are allowed to take up space.

I want you to know that it’s ok not to talk about things.

It’s ok to have anxiety walking into a church, or meeting with a mentor.

It’s ok to say no to friends, and cry or just not want to talk about it.

It’s ok to not want to be put in a box.

But please, at some point, choose to become stronger, take up the damn space and move.

I think this fall will be me choosing to have conversations with people who know more than I do. It will be choosing to sit and rest more actively than I have and it will be making decisions I don’t necessarily want too.

This summer hasn’t been the best.

And that’s fine.

We are more than one season of our lives.

We are more than our jobs even if it’s all we talk about.

We are more than our relationship status even if it the first question on a form.

We are more than the boxes we can talk about and the ones we can.

You are more than summer.

You matter.

So, let’s do the damn thing, however that looks.

Honest, it takes a village, preschool, tiny human teacher

shame less

I do not like shame.

I wrote a piece awhile back entitled “I met shame in the sixth grade”. It was talking of the moment that shame came into my life. The moment that I can use as a dividing line from being enough/not being enough.

I think that before that I knew shame. I knew that it affected me.

I was told that words could never hurt me, but in reality words have had a more profound effect on my life than any physical thing that has happened to me.

So yes, I do not like shame.

I mean, that should be pretty standard right? But, did you know that you probably have shaming language spoken to you or that you in fact use it yourself?

Think of this scenario. You, as an adult, are giving a report at work. And in the middle of a sentence your boss gets up and says “no, no, no” and proceeds to “correct” you on what you were speaking on.

How do you think you would feel? Being told by a superior in front of a group of your peers “no, you are doing that wrong”.

You would probably feel ashamed.

Now, picture being in grade school and that happening.

Do you think you’d ever want to do a presentation in class again?

What if, you were at camp and you were talking to your counselor and someone from the stage pointing you out to stop talking before they started again-but you had been telling your counselor you weren’t feeling good?

Now, picture being a kindergartener.

It’s your birthday and you are coloring a bird blue.

The person next to you raises her hand and tattles on you.

And then the teacher makes you start again because “no, the bird can’t be blue” and precedes to take your paper and give you a new one.

I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this.

Am I talking about living a life of participation trophies?

That’s not it at all.

I’m talking about choosing our words more wisely.

More specifically, I am talking about doing our best to take shaming language out of our vocabulary, specifically around the tiny humans and kids that we are around.

Shaming language is telling a child they are “too big” to be somewhere when what you are actually trying to tell them is that they are growing up. Reprimanding them from across the room instead of kneeling to their level.

Shaming language is talking about a child’s poor choices in front of them, like they aren’t there, even though they can 100% understand what’s happening. Shaming language is telling a child “they should know better” or “how could you be so dum

A lot of us, be it teachers or parents or people that interact with kids on a daily basis, grew up in a generation where I don’t believe we truly knew the effects constant amounts of shame had on a child.

And now, as an adult, I think we are learning. I myself, am still learning each day, with how I communicate and speak to the tiny humans around me.

We are learning, that the effects of using shame as a tactic isn’t helpful. It causes kids to shut down. To stop talking, stop participating, and attempting to not take up space.

Shame that was present in my life as a small child is what lead me to shut down and what lead me to do my best not to take up space.

And lastly, before you even go there, I know that children are resilient.

Trust me, I know.

(Maybe, like don’t get into this with me, because I have strong words about kids and resiliency)

But, shouldn’t we, as caregivers, parents, kind humans, do all we can to not shame the kiddos in our space? Shouldn’t we build them up and give them the tools to counteract shame instead of putting shame on them causing them to have to find the tools on their own?

There are enough times when we will screw up, or when other adults around or even other kids will put shame upon the kids in our life. Where they will feel belittled or left behind or left out.

There are so many situations that we have no control over in our kids lives.

But, we can control our own bodies. We can control our own words and reactions.

And think of the generation of kids we would be raising and helping to raise if we ourselves realized that our words had weight in someone else’s life

if we raised a generation of kids that had a first response of positivity and not negativity.

What if we just did our best to not be the reason our kids learned resiliency?

And what if, when we found ourselves saying things that don’t settle we choose to be people who explained ourselves instead of just letting it go.

What do you think that might do?

Well, personally?

I think it just might change the world.

royal family kids camp

YOU are my lighthouse

Dear Royal Family,

I am tired.

I’ve been pondering words to you about this week since Friday morning before the week was over. I wanted to take time to sit at the gazebo and write some words in my journal but, instead, my journal is filled with a couple pages of drawings from one of the LIT girls who needed a bit of space from her room.

I wasn’t really sure what to write honestly, because I am just exhausted.

This past week was full. It was fun. There was a lot of laughter. There was a lot of water. There were a lot of deep breathes.

And, right now, as I am typing this, I am getting tears in my eyes.

Because even though I’m exhausted and have no desire to be around people, I would do it all again tomorrow.

The moment for me this year at camp was during LIT graduation.

I turned to face the 22 LITs on the stage and I looked in their eyes.

And I saw it. I saw all the things that they had inside of them. I saw the leadership, the care, the encouragement.

I saw the courage.

I saw all of those things shoving down all the bad, all the hurt and the shame and the pain.

I saw a flicker of hope.

It was there.

Starting to burn a little brighter, starting to rise up out of them.

It might have only been for that moment, but they believed what I was saying.

It might have been only a split second, but they understood what it meant to believe in themselves.

They understood what it was to be believed in.

Obviously at camp, my goal, my reason for being there is to love the kids.

I want to show them love, out of the overflow of love I’ve been given.

But, in that love I want them to know that they have power inside of them. I want them to find the ability to believe in themselves.

I want them to know that we believe in them.

I got my 8th tattoo today (ironically at the end of my 8th year at camp).

This tattoo is for all who are apart of my Royal Family.

For you, the adults, and for every kid who has crossed my path at camp.

I got my first “picture” tattoo. A starfish.

It’s my reminder for so many things. To stop for the one. To remember that I have gifts and abilities that I can utilize. It is to remind me of the one week a year that impacts over 100 kids and over 100 adults.

It’s my reminder of you guys.

Because you guys are amazing.

On Monday, I was looking at everyone at devotions and thinking of the hundreds of work hours that were being missed, of the families still at home, of the projects put on hold.

All for the kids.

Woof.

I had typed thank you. But that doesn’t seem big enough.

Because, yes, everything we do during Royal Family, is for the kids.

But, it’s also for each other.

We encourage the kids.

We encourage each other.

We cheer them on.

We cheer on each other.

We believe in the kids.

We believe in each other.

So, that being said:

I want you to know that I believe in you. I want you to know that I have hope for you and courage for you.

I want you to know that you might have things in your life that have been hard or traumatic or scarring but I want you to know that there is love for you.

You have things that are ready to rise up out of you.

We have 51 weeks out of the year to live life out of what we’ve learned at camp, 51 weeks to be a lighthouse for others.

So, let’s the do the damn thing.

I love you and treasure you guys more than you’ll know.

Meg (Gem, Junapera)

Honest, hope is a verb, I choose champagne, To dream

33: a bit about me and a bit about you

I’ve become really good at writing short, quirky bios about myself. It’s fun to try to condense who I am into a small amount of words.

But, isn’t that an interesting concept? Condensing who you are into a small amount of words.

About four years ago at the end of my g42 term during graduation festivities one of the prophecies I received from one of the staff at the time was this, “Meg, don’t diminish yourself or shrink back or hide to make the people around you feel comfortable but just unfurl yourself to the fullness of who you are and force them to catch up.”

What’s funny is I haven’t thought about those words in a couple years. But today, in this moment, thinking about writing more than 140 characters about who I am feels overwhelming. Who I am feels like too much to describe.

We are each amazing, beautiful, individual humans. We have stories and experiences, we’ve gone on adventures and traveled through darkness and been on mountain tops and everything in between.

We should share with each other who we are and where we’ve been.

So, without further ado, here is a little bit about me, the “she” who writes on Sundays.

My name is Meghan. I go by Meghan, Meg, Megs, Teacher Meg, Miss Meg, Nina, Aunt Mega, Meglyn, Sox, Moses (it’s a good story, you can ask me later) and in a few weeks, once again, Junapera.

I am 33 and I’ve taught preschool in some way, shape or form since 2007. I’ve been to 15 countries and if around it enough I can speak Spanish pretty well. I have a BA in English, a minor in music and I’ve been singing since the 2nd grade and was the president of my University Women’s choir my senior year in college.

I’m a Southern California girl from a small central California town who lives in Bellingham, Washington.

I love my people.

My favorite week of the year is the last week in June up on the mountain in Southern California with Royal Family Kids.

I love beverages (of the bubbly variety especially).

I love avocado.

I love a really good croissant.

And tacos.

I’m a feeler. A 2 on the enneagram.

And the place where I feel the most peace is when I am sitting in front of blank screen.

I believe everyone has a story. Everyone has dark and light intermixed. Everyone has something for someone else.

I believe we need each other.

Everything I do in life or try to do in life or sometimes succeed at is about making connections. From the tiny humans to people I meet once, twice or see every day.

I went through a season, maybe I’m still in it a little where I didn’t want to believe that I mattered. I physically didn’t want to matter.

Mattering is heavy.

I honestly just wanted to be in the background. I wanted to move people along, lift people up and teach them.

I want control over my spotlight.

But, I think what I’ve learned this year is that sometimes someone else needs us to be in the spotlight for them. We need to say the words, or do the things or be put in the hot seat so that someone else finds what they need.

What I am trying to say is that it’s not all about you even when it seems to be just that.

So, I say all this, I give you a small glimpse into who I am, what I believe, to say that in my year of 33 I am going to try to be better at remembering I have things to give that push me to the edge of anxiety, that make me feel slightly uncomfortable, but those things are worth it.

On the other side of me wanting to shrink away or hide, there is someone who needs something I’ve been given.

AHEM.

On the other side of you wanting to shrink away or hide or think you aren’t enough, there is someone who needs what you’ve been given.

Honest, hope is a verb, ramblings, Uncategorized, washington whimsy

But we are here, together.

I’ve been staring at my blank screen for about an hour.

I’ve written three or four different beginnings and deleted them because I had no clue where they were going.

I’ve pulled out my journal and jotted phrases, I’ve pulled from conversations this week that have shaken me and provided me no answers but just the assurance that I’m still going and I’m still here. I’ve pulled from moments of wanting to punch people from their ability to challenge me to my feet.

I don’t think people read my blog for answers.

I think maybe they read it because I flood their newsfeed with links, others read it because they are kind humans, and other read it because hopefully to see if what I am saying is what they are saying too.

I’ve been taking a lot about (or a lot around) God these days.

God and I are currently in a season of life where our relationship doesn’t work the same as it used too. So, we (me) are trying to figure out what it looks like now. In reality I am choosing to believe it’s because it’s deeper than it ever has been.

When I write I try my best to relate to people where they are. I try to use broad terms and illustrations to remind as best I can that we are all human.

I try to make sure that people who read this, be it people who see me on a daily basis or people that have seen me in months or people that have never met me, know that on a basic level, I am always ok.

The ok may be shaken sometimes but it’s always there.

The season/process/chunk of life I’m in right now is definitely a “shaky ok” kind of season. Mainly in terms of my faith, and my relationship with God and my inability to receive beautiful soul-filling words that are currently being said to me.

All the things in my life that used to work aren’t working anymore.

And so, I write for you from the middle.

I write from the middle so that you know that the middle is ok.

That these stories and processes and lives we are a part of creating are good and beautiful even when they feel ugly and hopeless.

I share my stories and my beliefs or lack thereof to show you that we aren’t that different whether you believe in my God or another God or nothing at all.

I don’t know what the answer is for me right now. I chose not to go to church this morning hoping to find some semblance of a response and was met with silence.

But, I know that silence wasn’t actually silence. It was incredibly loud in actuality.

And I say that for this reason: what may feel like silence isn’t. What may feel like the universe or god or whomever isn’t responding isn’t that. There is something there. I swear.

I don’t think people read my blog for answers because I sure as hell don’t have them.

So, whatever you are going through, whatever seems insurmountable, whatever doesn’t seem right or true or hopeful.

Know that you are the thing that is hope.

You are the thing that can get over the mountain.

And maybe, all you need to know, is that we are here, together.

Honest

in the midst of it all

I will never forget the moment I became a Christian.

Isn’t that a weird statement? I’m sure though, that there are other moments that people will never forget. It could be the moment they fell in love, or the moment they felt at home or the situation that occurred where they physically felt themselves became an adult.

For me, it was July 3rd, 2000 at a youth conference at Purdue University in Indiana.

Since then my whole life has in some way, shape or form, revolved around the church.

Like, fun fact, did you know that I have a not-yet-completed masters in leadership with an emphasis in spirituality? Or that I was a children’s pastor or that I used to regularly write sermon recaps for my church in Orange County? Or that the world race isn’t the only mission trip I’ve done. OR that I went to a Christian leadership academy in the south of Spain.

I’ve gone through ups and downs in my faith, just like any relationship.

There was the season after my friend Joe died that I had no space to pray, talk to God or even be in a church. I was angry, hurt and alone.

Then there was the time after the world race where I for all purpose fell apart and had no clue what I wanted to believe.

And then, there is now.

Yesterday, I wandered around a bookstore, mainly in the religion section. I perused titles and read the first few pages and tried to find something that matched what I was feeling.

I’ve been unsure lately.

So, I’ve been thinking about all the places I have been solely because I’m a Christian.

There is a lot. I have had a lot of experiences and emotions and adventures because of it.

The timeline of the last 18 years of my life would have looked very different had I not walked up to the stage in the midst of hundreds of high schoolers.

And that’s weird.

My faith and my relationship with God is very different then when I was 14. Then, it was based more on feeling. I felt God. More than I think I realized back then. If I would have gone to a church that focused on spiritual gifts and prophecy, I have no doubt that it is something that would have filled my life. There would be moments when I was leading worship that I would feel what I know now as the spirit moving through what I was singing.

But, why I am saying all these things?

Well, I’m at a place with my faith where I feel as if Jesus and I are on a break. Like we are at that friend level where we sit in room and no one says anything and it feels uncomfortable.

Woof.

I ran out of church today because of it.

I ran out and looked at my calendar and contemplated what it would be to take a break from church.

Here’s the thing: I love my church. I love people and the atmosphere and all of it.

I’m just processing what it would be like to take a break for the self-care.

I’ve been a Christian over half my life now. I’ve had seasons of not going to church and seasons where I worked 6 days a week at one. I’ve held babies on five continents and preached in everywhere from a South African township to a maximum security prison in Peru.

I’ve heard dead on from God from people in bars and spoken words to people about themselves that I have no business knowing.

What I want to say is I’m not breaking up with God.

What I want to say is whatever deity you may believe in find no shame in taking a breath and looking at it all.

What I want to say is that you can believe and question all in the same breath.

So, this is just me, writing on a Sunday, on my second mimosa and just figuring out all the things.