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, 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

Honest, ramblings

the leaves always CHANGE

Today, I was standing in church during worship and I had this moment where I felt like myself.I don’t know how to describe it really.
In that moment it didn’t matter who was around me or what I was doing, I just knew who I was-all the way to my toes.

I’ve been playing around with being called Meghan these days. It’s not a big deal, I’m not going to make people call me Meghan or Meg, they can call me whatever they want.

There was a few years there that being called Meghan brought me a feeling I didn’t like. It brought me a feeling of years of insecurity and sadness and depression.

My debit card obviously says Meghan so places that I frequent; a coffee shop, a bar, people call me Meghan.

So when people ask if I am Meg or Meghan I say yes. Both/and. 

And it got me thinking:

Do we give people the space to discover who they are because it seems like they should know?
It’s funny to me that as we grow we are called to make so many decisions without knowing even a percent of the information out there. And that’s fine, discernment, intuition, and going with your gut are incredibly important.

But what if when you turned 18 someone handed you a piece of paper and you had to write out all of the food you liked. 

And whatever you left off that list you could never eat again.

But then sometimes in your mid-twenties your taste buds change and you are suddenly eating food you never thought.

But wait, you aren’t because at 18 you decided what foods you’d eat for the rest of your life.

We have to do that a lot. From colleges in new cities that become homes to college majors, to first jobs that we find ourselves in ten years later. 

We don’t give people space to discover MORE of who they are.

People are fearful of changing their minds, even once.

Yes, there are people that abuse it. They change and bounce all over the place leaving others in the wake of their change and “discovery”. The people who’s resumes look like a not-so-greatest hit album. The single-in a relationship-single- consistently in your Facebook timeline.

But, because of those, the ones who have things happening in their lives and stories that cause them to be in constant motion, the majority of us sit in fear of grabbing onto something new about ourselves.

I will be the first to say that my conversation views have molded and changed immensely in the last 3 years. That things I believed and thought were “right” in college are very different now. That I’ve realized my viewpoints were based in fear and not love.

As silly as this is, my style is immensely different. I’ve walked into a few stores recently and realized that not only do I not want to wear clothes from stores I’ve purchased clothes in for years, but also I simply don’t understand them.

When I claimed Meg four years ago on the world race, it was like I was drawing a firm permanent line in the timeline of my life.

I know it means something right now. That I’ve been introducing myself as Meghan. That I’ve been allowing that piece of me to sink into this part of the story.

That I’ve been trying to give myself space to realize my story, my life is ever evolving.

So, when I started on this train of thought this morning in church, which coincided with the first message on story, I realized that not only was I not giving myself consistent space and grace to evolve and move and change, I wasn’t giving the people in my life that space either.

It would be like me telling the leaves on the trees that they have to grow back exactly as they did before. That even though a part of them was dying and changing, that they had chosen that path so they had to keep going on it.

If I ever haven’t given you space in your story to find something new, I sincerely, sincerely apologize. You don’t need that from someone else since I’m pretty positive you already give enough of that doubt and lack of grace to yourself.

I’m trying to decide what this in me. Who I am separate from my life as a teacher of tiny humans.

But, I feel something I’m supposed to grab onto is right in front of me. And it’s scary because the world has already told me that this is who I am.

I am Meg and I am Meghan.

Let’s choose this week, to be who we are, and give ourselves the ability to keep being and changing.

Let’s not miss something new, because we’ve decided we have no place for newness.

Honest, washington whimsy

Fact: it’s not 2009 

I think part of the reason it’s been so hard for me to write the past few weeks is because my words feel incredibly familiar.If I am being completely and utterly honest–these words feel like 2009.

And I don’t know what to do with that
I’ve tried to make some strides. I’ve emailed mentors and (maybe) started looking for a therapist.

I have tried to remember.

I’ve tried to remember that I am different. 

This season is different. 

That I am not the same human as I was in 2009.

I have lived since then.

But that’s the thing about familiar grounds isn’t it?

When we return to a familiar place it can suck all the new life out of us and place us right back where started from.

Situations that reoccur are the same. 

Whenever my mom goes into the hospital–it’s 2009 all over again and I am sitting on my bed in my old apartment. I’ve done that feeling more times then I want too. Or when July 7th hits. It doesn’t sting as bad anymore. It’s a dull, faint ache. But it’s there.

And then there is when the emptiness hits. The empty before caused me to need drugs and therapy and to cry on the floor. The emptiness that caused me to not show up.
Here’s the thing:

This year has been a struggle and there are moments where it feels an awful lot like 2009.

I have wanted to run. I have wanted to stay in bed and not show up.

I have erased more words then I care to admit because they sounded ugly and devoid of hope and whiny. I have erased words out of fear that they will speak that I am back to that.

When you’ve done what I have done, and gone through what I have it’s hard sometimes to admit that you need help. It’s hard to admit you’ve reached something rocky.

Because it was already rocky and you already asked for help.

I have cried a lot the past three weeks (read: I have cried a lot in 2016) I have felt crazy, unstable, inconsistent and a host of other things.

But here’s a fact I know to be true: it’s not 2009. I have been through things. I have faced down giants that I stared at most of my life. I’ve gone around the world and I’ve felt things I didn’t even know were things.

So, right now, I feel empty. I haven’t really known what to do. I have begun to hate the word fine. 
But goodness, at the bottom of it all, the bottom of the tears and the confusion, at the bottom of the bevy of all of things I would like to do (run away, not be present), at the bottom is a beautifully tiled foundation that wasn’t there before.

There is a moment from my second term in Spain that feels like a hug; a moment that is apart of that foundation. I was standing in the Mijouse living room amidst so many people and Andrew came up and put his arm around me and asked me how I was. 

I said I was good.

And I wasn’t lying. I was good. I was stressed and felt a lot of heavy feelings. 

But I knew I was finally in a place where I could figure out how to live through the situation I was in.

And then he looked me in the eye and repeated the question (which meant he was asking as a father). And I said I was ok, I was figuring it out, I would get through it and come out the other side.

To which he replied, “Of course you are good babe, you have Christ inside of you”.

I didn’t hear that as belittling. Because it wasn’t. 

It wasn’t brushing my feelings or emotions under the rug. It’s wasn’t “faking it til I make it”. It was choosing to know that I would come out the other side. It was choosing to know that I had the tools and the people and the heart to move through it. It was choosing to know that doing dirty, messy soul work wouldn’t stop me from living.

I have trouble sometimes ( a lot of the time) asking for help. I have trouble verbalizing in the midst of something. I have gotten better. I have learned and grown and expanded my emotional vocabulary.

So when it feels like 2009. When it feels like a mishmash of emotions.

When I feel like a burden for opening my mouth-I am still able to show up.

 I know that something doesn’t need to feel true to be true.

 I know (so much more of) who I am.

I’m choosing to keep showing up for my life. I’m choosing to ask questions.

I’m trying hard to have grace for myself and to rest. 

I’m choosing to allow myself to cry.

Because it’s not the same mountain. 

There is a different horizon I’m looking upon.

It’s not 2009.

And there is so much more.

washington whimsy

who I know God to be (in under 700 words)

In the spring of 2014 I was going through a major crisis of faith.There were so many things that weren’t fitting into the box of who I knew God to be. So many conversations and Facebook reposts and articles I read that just didn’t make sense. It was that of a cold, sterile, guilt-filled, fear-inducing God.

I was beginning to see my faith come apart at the seams and I had no clue what to do.

But at the end of that journey I realized I had a new tool in my box. A prism. Something that I could look through and I could clearly see whether it was going to burst into color or not.

Things that are the character of God burst into color.

And if they aren’t they fall flat.

It’s literally as simple as that.

Because if I have taken anything away from the past year it’s that we were born to be loved. Period.
It’s not about changing everything about yourself or starting “fresh”.

That’s a mouthful and not a truth that a lot of people are ok with. I feel so many people in this world want to separate everything of themselves and just run. But there is good inside all of us.

We just have to flood the parts that aren’t life-filled with life.

When I clean my water bottle I fill it with water and scrub it as best I can. But to get all the soap out it takes more then just one rinse because soap leaves a residue that you have to flush out. I don’t just keep filling it up and rinsing it out. That doesn’t really solve the problem. You have to just let water continually pour in and flood the bottle and eventually all the soap particles will flush out and the bottle will be filled with solely clean water.

It’s a process and it takes maybe a little more water then normal BUT I know that my bottle is filled with fresh water.

The flooding process keeps the water moving, it doesn’t get stagnant.

That’s how the love of Christ works.

He doesn’t want to change us, he wants to flood our very being with his life and love so all that is Him is us and all that is us is Him.

And if I am being real that is hard to take in. I think sometimes it is easier to believe that we just need a new everything. That the previous model was no good so we just have to toss it.

But people-we gotta realize that we are humans, not the latest version of technology. You aren’t going to get an upgrade every two years.

You are you. That’s who you are supposed to be.

We were created just exactly how we were supposed to be. We weren’t missing pieces, they’ve just gotten covered or clogged up over the years and we need to flush them

I’ve had endless revelations in the last two months of being in Bellingham. I could write for days, but what I’ve realized above all is I’ve landed in a place that is focused on the love of Christ.

That doesn’t mean we stand in a circle and sing kumbaya.
It means we fight against hell to pour the light in. We don’t speak to the dark: we call in the light.

Let’s stop speaking to what is dark, let’s unabashedly flood in the light.

Push at the dark with a steady, steady stream of light that cleanses, heals and restores.

And THAT is how I view my God now.

stateside

real

My friend and future co~bookstore owner, Patty wrote a blog about love (read it here) after we came back from Spain. I had tears streaming down my face reading it because I understood the love she was speaking about.

And I must confess, I’ve wanted to write a blog on love too. But my words I knew would be different than Patty’s. And I wasn’t sure what words they were yet. All I knew was my heart bursts and breaks now in ways that it never had before.

The other day I woke up with a beautiful passage from Velveteen Rabbit in my head and on my heart. I hadn’t recently read it somewhere, I wasn’t scrolling through Pinterest—it was just there. Sitting in my brain.

image
.quote from the Velveteen Rabbit. .picture from Sistarovat, Romania.

“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always

BOOM.

Here’s the thing: real love, real tear filled, hard words, silly laughter, silent book reading afternoon love changes you. It does something to you that you almost can’t explain.

I don’t want this to be read as if I’d never experienced love before- I had. And actually if anything the last two years have caused me even more clearly to see where I’ve experienced love like that before.

Where I’ve experienced CHRIST like that before.

I’ve ran a lot in life. I’ve hid. I’ve hid behind the fact that I know how to love well. And if I KNOW how to love well then I must be ok. If I can give it I must have HAD it.

And of course, I give really, REALLY good hugs.

But there is a difference between GIVING a hug and RECEIVING one. There is a sink your whole self into the person, wrap your arms around them and let all your troubles go because you know that person is going to take them, even if for a moment from you.

I was normally on the giving end of a hug. I would see someone needing a hug and I’d give. I’d rarely ask for one. I didn’t need them that bad.

And when it comes down to it how I interacted with people was how I interacted with God.

I feel like, for the longest time I never asked God for a hug. I never plagued Him with my burdens. I’d hug Him when I felt like I needed too. But never in a receiving sort of way.

Then I got to the point that I couldn’t even hug him. I’d been there before, during times of depression and times of brokenness. But after the race and the beginning of Spain I had to force myself to even be in his presence. During an exercise in class last summer we had to picture Jesus with us in this field. I was sitting on a blanket when he came up. I promptly told him to not sit down next to me. To stay away.

Then He overwhelmed me. With words from people, with gifts, with love. He poured so much into my arms even while I was STILL telling him to stay away.

And then I ran. I made myself busy. I did a lot. I volunteered for things, offered myself for jobs. Which is my normal. It is what I did.

And then, like so many times before, I got tired.

And He was still there.

Through all of it. He had watched me run and do and be all of these people and places and things that I didn’t need to be. Like I had done time after time after time.

And He was still there. Like HE had done time after time after time.

And then out of sheer exhaustion and the inability to solve any of the “problems” going on around me I let Him hug me. I gave up really. I gave up running, gave up turning to things that I had been turning to for years, and I let him hug me.

And really, REALLY allowed myself to open my arms and receive love. Let it saturate me. Let it wear me down. Let myself hear what he thought of me. Let Him whisper that He LOVED me.

That He Loved me FIRST.

That He loves me ALWAYS.

And then, without knowing it, I became a person who can give and receive love.

Even when it looks messy and when it’s hard and when it causes your heart to burst and break. I have experienced the love of Christ like I’ve never known. Like I never chose to see or receive.

So I sit here, tears streaming down my face knowing that it isn’t possible to go back from this. Knowing it is in me.

And no matter how I struggle or where I go or what ups and downs happen in life I have this love from my God in heaven that has sufficiently rocked me to my core.

Without knowing it; I became Real.

(And once you are Real, it is for always)