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

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.

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.

Honest, ramblings

The season in which I don’t write

When I write I untangle things. I figure out thoughts and processes. I give myself space to delve into whatever is going on in my head and sometimes, not all the time mind you, but sometimes I do actually in fact figure it out.

I haven’t written for a month. Not on my blog, not in my journal, not anywhere.

I haven’t paused long enough to attempt to figure out all the things.

But, today, with the huge task of moving houses behind me, I’m attempting to pause.

I feel like I’ve been waiting for a long while. Waiting for a change in the wind, a change in my day to day, something, anything.

I’ve been waiting to feel something fresh.

I guess I should add that when I write to untangle something it also feels as if I am writing to talk to God.

Whatever it may be about, whatever I may be dissecting, I am writing so that you, the reader, can be brought into it, see if it hits something in you so that we, together, might figure something out.

But, I am also writing as if God was sitting next to me.

I shared during a worship night last week at my church.

It felt very out of place for me. I told people I was nervous but in reality I just felt sort of like a fraud. And as people came up to talk to me about what it meant to them it very much was impossible to take those words in.

I think part of the reason I haven’t been able to write this month/year is because it feels like God and I aren’t on speaking terms. We’re currently like those friends you have on Facebook that your “see friendship” function just holds a time capsule of “happy birthday!” back and forth with no tagged pictures or hilarious Mean Girl memes on October 3rd.

And when I go to write I am reminded of that.

Each time I’ve gone to write my brain fills with my failures and with to-do lists I haven’t accomplished and newsletters that have yet to be written and curriculum I haven’t planned and “do I have any clean underwear?”.

There is no space in my brain for words.

I’ve been in this place before. Wherein I am incapable of teaching myself. Hear for myself. Cheer for myself.

But, can I tell you something?

It’s ok.

Why?

Friendships, relationships, sense of self, identity, grow with us.

If I’ve learned anything about myself in the last five years is that I’m going to keep meeting myself. I’m going to keep meeting God however that may look. I’m going to circle back around to things not because I’m a failure but because they are the flip-sides of my strengths. Anxiety in certain situations will pop up- not because I’m weak, but because I have the capability to battle them.

So, long story short, I think I haven’t been writing because I have been scared to say I have nothing to say. That’s what this season feels like. And it feels weird that I essentially just wrote 500 words on why I am not writing, but I think I did this so that you would choose to do whatever thing you aren’t capable of right now.

There is something in you that you put out into the world that means something. Be it running a play group, preaching, writing, singing, leading

– any of it.

There is more to me then what seems like pure inability.

There is more to you as well.

Even if right now, in this moment, it doesn’t feel that way.

I swear, we got this.

Honest

Running from stillness

Other than the Y and random part time jobs that I have had here and there I have always worked at a church or for a Christian organization.

I’ve almost always been on a church property 40+ hrs a week.

From 2007-2012 I worked at a preschool and for some of the time also worked at the church.

(Basically, I lived there.)

But, in that I found myself among families and people that I could talk to and process with and be around.

Around 2010 the Wayman family came to the church.

And it was lovely.

Not only did I get to see their kiddos grow but I got to lean on and reach out and be mentored by Eric and Cathy.

They are two humans that I am so grateful for. I know that I was in the exact place I was supposed to be when they came to Lighthouse. They are two humans who walked me through some of the hardest, ugliest times of my life up to that date.

They’ve always welcomed me back with open arms, even when I wasn’t sure of up and down.

I mention them because I randomly decided to listen to one of Eric’s most recent sermons.

It was about solitude and noise in our lives and essentially how we are surrounded by it. Now, this isn’t new.

We all know this. We know that there is an immense amount of noise in our life. We are engulfed by it. (As I write this I am listening to music and texting two different people).

My mind is full of to do lists and assessments and assignments and 18 different tiny humans (probably more if I’m being honest). I’m thinking about what I can do to show my friends I care. I am trying to be present in people’s lives and present 40 hours a week in my classroom.

I’m trying to make space to be creative and to write and make good choices for my body.

So, today when I decided to sit and listen to Eric speak, I thought of sitting on the couches at Eric and Cathy’s house and I realized I would probably just sit down and burst into tears. It’s one of those few places that I would sit and stop.

Now, I have been stopping here and there. I’ve been learning more and more to saying no and staying in and eating apples.

But…sitting WITH God?

Not as much.

I’m slightly terrified of the quiet right now. Mainly, because quieting all the things would take a lot of work.

Opening my Bible stirs something in me. Praying is a little too close for comfort.

I wrote something for an online magazine a couple years ago. And I know I’ve quoted this exact section before but it resonates once again.

“Everything in me wanted to run.

I couldn’t handle Jesus any more.

He was being silent.

But it was a weird silence.

It was almost like Jesus was playing the part of the man in a horror movie, who just after the power goes out, calls your house phone, so you can hear him breathe and then when the police track the phone call you find that it is coming from inside the house.

Jesus was still in the house, I apparently just needed to go find him.”

Jesus is still in the house. He still lives here. My relationship has morphed and changed even since I wrote this piece. My life is ever evolving. My beliefs and truths are morphing and become more refined.

But, sitting in stillness still terrifies me. It isn’t something I’ve ever done super well.

So, I go back in my thoughts to sitting with Cathy on their couch or walking into Eric’s office on my lunch. My life wasn’t all roses and sunshine then. I was going through depression and sickness in my family. And whenever I stopped with them, I would almost always cry.

And that’s ok. But, I sat. And I stopped.

There are so many things I’m wanting to say right now.

I think what I want you to know that if the silence and the quiet scares you; you aren’t alone.

If sitting with whomever your deity is terrifies you because of the intimacy of it; that’s ok.

If stopping will make you burst into tears-let me pass you the Kleenex.

And if you have something in your mind that is changing, then explore.

Today, I disposed of the shame of feeling far from God. The shame of not being able to hear Him.

Today, I disposed of the shame of running. I didn’t stop running-I just stopped feeling shame.

Today, I disposed of the shame of a changed mind.

Deep breathes to the toes friends. We’ve got this.

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

people gathered

For the last few years, I’ve taken a moment to write some Christmas thoughts, to ponder, to wonder.Yesterday was full and lovely without a moment to sit and write.

And that was 100% ok with me.

Yesterday started before my alarm went off. I was cooking sausage and kneading dough before 9. I was sipping mimosas out of a coffee cup with people I am so grateful to have in my life before 10:30, I had sufficiently fed 8 people before noon and we had played a round of cards against humanity before 2.

By 5 I had spent an hour singing Christmas carols in preparation for Christmas Eve and baked and bagged 200 cookies. By 6:30 I was huddled in the snow with about thirty people singing Silent Night with candles lit. By 9 I was curled up on couches at my neighbors drinking and laughing and watching Star Wars for the first time.

And by midnight I was asleep.

Even now just writing it I have to smile.

Because if I am being honest, being a single adult, who lives away from her family, holidays feel tricky. You lack traditions you grew up with, you lack a person to share them with, you lack kids to buy presents for.

The holidays can very much give us a picture of what we lack. Money, spouses, gifts, love, kids. They can remind of us people who are no longer there. They can remind us of what we’ve lost.

They can do all of those things, unless we choose to not allow them too.

I could have been a recluse this weekend. I could have closed the kitchen, turned off the porch light, and not asked to join anyone, or anyone to join me. And that probably would have been ok.

But this morning, as I sat pondering my day yesterday, I thought of the manger.

Because the birth of a child brings people together. I remember when my niece Courtlyn was born. It caused something to change and shift. It brought people together. I’ve purchased two plane tickets this year to go see my sweet baby Choi.

The birth of Jesus did the same thing.

If Jesus would have come as a full grown man, it probably would have just been weird. Like, out of nowhere this 30 year old just appears. And people might not have noticed. He might have just blended in.

But he came as a baby.

So people gathered.

And they continue to do so. Even people who don’t believe a baby came, people who celebrate different holidays during this time, they all gather.

I think there were so many lovely things about Jesus coming as a baby. So many beautiful, unique stories that spun off of that singular moment. But, as I ponder yesterday and think forward to later today, I believe that I have found a new favorite angle to the story of baby Jesus in the manger.

It caused people to gather.

I pray you have someone to gather towards today, I send love and light if you’ve lost people that you’ve normally gathered too. I pray you find a piece of them today. If you have an abundance of people to gather with, pull up another chair and invite someone in.

Let us gather together.

Happy Christmas my friends.

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Photo by jessica drake