Honest, hope is a verb

I cleaned my room

Damn.

So, this isn’t something I have wanted to talk about again. It seems that there are a few topics that when they swing back into my sphere of life I desire to do everything but write about them.

I don’t really like to feel like a broken record.

But the fact of the matter is words and I haven’t really gotten along in 2k18, so I best move along with the ones that are hitting against my heart.

Before I move on I want to just leave my bottom line up here at the top, just in case you want to stop reading and go eat a taco:

Your anxiety is not a burden.

Your depression is not a burden.

Your burn out is not a burden.

Your mental health is not a burden.

I don’t know what it is with summers (well, I do but we don’t need to go into it) but this summer has been for lack of a better word; weird.

That’s been really the only word I can come up with.

Because nothing has been bad, nothing has devastated me, but I’ve been tired, drained, burnt out and much more susceptible to the anxiety that finds ways to creep up my spine.

I am surrounded by people just like me or similar to me in one way or another.

I work with people who care. You literally would not survive in my job if you didn’t care. Even the tiny humans that drive me the most up the wall occupy space in my heart.

But, what you find in my line of work is a lot of humans who don’t have the space or ability to put themselves first, you find people who want to help others, take care of others.

When I was in grad school I did a lot of research on burn out in pastors and church leadership mainly because that is what I was going to school for. And I found a lot of pieces of research, a lot of books and statistics on burn out in pastors. A lot of stats on mental health issues and breakdowns as well.

I haven’t done the research but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was the same type of findings in early learning.

And I already hear the responses, and I already can see comments being typed about needing to take care of ourselves.

Don’t you think we know?

I, personally, deal with depression, anxiety and burn out. It is not always present but it comes in waves, seasons and here and there it’s debilitating intense. But, every damn day, I show up for those kiddos. Yes, sometimes that might not be the best for me. But it’s what I do.

(The tears are freely hitting my ipad just for reference.)

I’ve been finding ways be it reorganizing my room, doing face masks, listening to pretty music, to lower my stress and to bring me back to myself.

I’m always working on it.

And I think, why I chose to write and allow my train of thought to freely take the lead is this:

Sweet lord, you my friend, in whatever you are dealing with, are allowed to deal with it.

I’m not saying to not be active. To not pursue health, to not find things that bring you joy, balance and hope.

Be as active as you can be, whether that’s calling a friend to lay on the floor with you while you cry, or bulking up your self care routine. Or getting help from someone who has a degree on the wall.

I don’t know where you are in life.

I just want you to know that we are all walking together whether we know it or not.

I want you to know that I very much have an Instagram filter on sometimes (& its 100% ok if you do too)

I want you to know I very much believe you are going to be ok.

I am going to choose to believe that all the things in life are not a burden.

I am going to choose to believe that I am not too much.

I want you to do the same.

Whether you are a stay at home mom. Or a teacher. Whether you have a corporate job or you are a pastor.

You’ve got this.

And we are here, together.

washington whimsy

to my 2 year olds; with love, teacher meg

I have a mere five days left as the lead teacher to 16 two year olds. I’ll be taking six of them to continue the journey in preschool. But, man, two year olds. They are all the things. And I’ve loved them.

So though they will probably never read this, this is a letter to them.
To my sweet, sassy, snuggly, silly and never really that silent, two year olds:

For your last year as two year olds, you have been my life. I have changed your diapers, helped you go potty, fed you, been peed on, pooped on and bled on, I have talked you through tantrums and sadness, I have helped you go to sleep, I’ve helped you explore and learn and laugh. I’ve been hit, kick, punched, slapped and spit on by you. I’ve grown tired of you screaming my name and missed you when you are gone.

I know A LOT about each of you. I know what your body looks like when you are tired, hungry, sick. I know your real laugh from your fake laugh, I know what holds your attention or what doesn’t. I know what friends you like and those with whom your body needs space. I know that your Monday attitude is different than your Thursday attitude and I know that even though you don’t want me to leave at three, that means it’s sooner for your moms and dads to come.

I see a lot in each of you. One of you is going to be someone who celebrates people well, another is going to use her inevitable popularity to show kindness to those who need it. I believe in this group of tiny humans lies an engineer, a musician and a veterinarian. I see an activist; one my most stubborn, using their skills for good. I see teachers and professors. I see some epic storytellers and writers and creators.

I see that each of you have the ability to change the world around you.

I think, I hope, that in the last year (or two) that you’ve been with me that you’ve learned a few things. One, is to be kind. When you hit, bite, steal a friend’s toy, I hope you’ve learned compassion from me (though you can’t fully comprehend it). I hope that you’ve learned to hope and dream. That you’ve picked that up in your tiny human bodies. 

I hope you’ve learned from me that you are born to be loved. 

Because you are. And so many people love you. You each have a village of moms and dads and teachers and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and neighbors and friends that love you. 

I hope you’ve learned from me to show up for your life no matter what. I hope you become adults who choose to do the damn thing. Who choose to be present and not perfect. 

Who choose to live.

And I hope (albeit maybe NOT in such a dramatic fashion) that you continue to learn to be humans who express their emotions. 

Because of all the things I’ve hope you’ve learned from me; this is what I’ve learned from you. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt when you are feeling: happy, tired, silly, frustrated, sad, mad. You might not know all the verbiage but you express the emotions.

See, as adults, we lack the ability, most of the time, to do that. To put it in your terms: we don’t give our bodies space.

Thank you, for being constant reminders to do that. Thank you for being reminders to let myself feel. Thank you for the practice of labeling your emotions, so that I in turn label my own. I’ll never forget when one of you, upon me asking a rhetorical question of, “who do I need to take care of?”, responded with a singularly word, “you”.

Thank you for helping me pause. For in MY moments of frustration, squeezing my cheeks or giggling, or offering me ice coffee. Thank you for teaching me to breathe. 

And lastly, but in no way least: thank you for being safe with me. For running to me with open arms, for reaching out to me when you were tired or sad or scared. For wanting to hold my hands when we danced. 

Thank you for allowing me to apart of your year of two. I can’t wait to see what I will learn from you next.

With love,

Teacher Meg

Honest, washington whimsy

To the tiny human makers

To the tiny human makers,

My work wife and I had a rough week(s) and we were talking about so many things and being frustrated and lots of other toddler teacher life issues. And at the end of the conversation it boiled down to this.

We (I) love your tiny human.

I’ve held a lot of jobs in the tiny human field over the past 10 years. I’ve been: a Sunday school teacher, day camp counselor, camp counselor, preschool teacher, preschool coordinator for a church, toddler care coordinator for a non-profit, bible story lady, babysitter, VBS coordinator, “the kid person” on mission trips. I’ve written curriculum for programs and laughed and cried with babies to high schoolers on five continents. I’ve been “miss Meghan” “miss Meg” “Maggie” “MEG” and “Sox” or  “Junapera”. And now, of course, for the last 15 months or so I’ve been “Teacher Meg” (or TEACHER MEEEEEEEGGGG) adding lead toddler teacher to my list of tiny human jobs.

I have the faces of hundreds of kids run through my mind of different nationalities, ages, fatherless, motherless, homeless, dual job families, families with stay at home moms, or Grandma’s.

I will not know where a majority end up in life, but every one of them are etched on my heart.

I currently work at a year-round full time early learning center. I have kids that I see 35-40 hrs a week. And above everything, all the things I need to do for them, my goal in each and everyday is to let them know they are loved.

I spend my day having little conversations here and there about mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and siblings.

Because I know how much you love your tiny human. I see it on your face at drop-off and pick-up, when you tell me how they slept or ask me the same. I see it when you get excited for Friday and spending time with them. Or when you tell me about their first steps or a new word they said.

So, during the day, while you are at work, I want you to know that I LOVE your tiny human. I’ll hold them when they are sad, make them laugh, I’ll help them get a nap. I’ll make sure they learn how to throw their food in the trash and not on the floor. And if they bite a friend I will give them words to say. (Same goes for tantrums, don’t worry, those don’t fly with teacher Meg).

And I don’t necessarily do all those things because it’s my job–I mean it is my job, but I do them because I love your tiny human. When they cry, real tears streaming down their cheeks, I hurt. When they finally do the thing, I get so excited for them (I’ve never been so excited about peeing in the potty in my life). When they laugh and say “I love you teacher Meg”, I melt.

I will love your tiny human, knowing that my presence in their life is a passing moment.

But they will forever be a tiny (or maybe medium-sized) human in my life.

Some of these kiddos I knew for a day, or a few weeks or maybe years. And as I said, I don’t know what happened to most of them, or where they are at now. Like the little girl in my JK class who I worked with on letters and numbers one day a week for four months at her house after school. Or the little boy at day camp that we called ninja and all fell in love with. Or Nay in Cambodia, the girls at the academy in South Africa, or any and every smiling face I met at royal family.

I’m grateful for social media and the ability to watch some of these kids grow up. Like I know that when he graduates high school I will be there to watch Nicky B walk (or probably do the robot or something amazing) across the stage and I’ll drink a glass of wine with his mom Rachel because she was and is one of my mom role models. I’ll be amazed for every year older Eric and Cathy’s boys get and be thankful for every moment on their couches. And I will treasure every smile of that tribe of kids from Rock Harbor that were in my three day class together. And of course, a certain then five year old boy who would say “hey good lookin'” to me (he’ll be president some day). Not to mention the all grown up day campers who are off to college.

I’ll support those kids from afar in their adventures like their families supported me. I’ll cheer them on every chance I get. Even when they don’t remember that I was their teacher or their counselor or that crazy lady with the Afro.

I will always love those tiny humans.

I don’t know how long I will be in the tiny human game, or if I will have tiny humans of my own, but for now, each day I will love your tiny human with my whole heart. I will impart to them words of kindness and life and thankfulness. I will encourage them to do good and make choices that honor who they are.

And a note to the families of the tiny humans that aren’t so tiny anymore: know that I still love your kids and you with so much in me. I get so excited hearing of the accomplishments and victories in their lives. I’m grateful to have been a small part of your lives and know that you were/are a big part of mine.

And know this, if your child is in daycare, or preschool know and have the knowledge that they are loved a lot.

With love always,

Meg

Honest, hope is a verb

an afro, some sequins (& 92 kids)

(before I begin this: a shoutout to the incredibly amazing, lovely, dance party-riffic staff & counselors of Newport Mesa Church’s Royal Family Kids Camp. Your kindness, encouragement and love spurred me on last week and I was completely and utterly humbled by your words!)

Last year in February I did ministry for the day along with 5 others from my squad at a maximum security prison in Trujillo, Peru. If I’m being honest I wasn’t THAT nervous. Sure, I was a little nervous. But I’d prayed and ask for God to shield my eyes from things I shouldn’t see and to protect my ears from things I shouldn’t hear. I felt protected.

I stood up in front of men in that prison and helped lead worship, spoke words from God.

I was at peace.

Last week I stood in front of 92 kids between the ages of 7-11 and was scared to death.

image_3            (the carpool crew before we headed up the mountain)

Hilarious much?

Last week I was the Bible story teacher at Royal Family Kids Camp. RFKC is a week of fun and happiness for kids who are in the foster care system. Some of them are from pretty rough backgrounds; living in foster families, group homes, separated from siblings. For the most part life for them hasn’t been easy. So RFKC happen around the nation and they are filled with volunteers who come together to make a week of fun, love and joy for this kids.

This is my fourth year volunteering and my first year as the bible story teacher. So each chapel I would teach the kids the memory verse (Psalm 23:4), do some sheep trivia questions and after singing  and dancing I would get up and tell them stories about David and the Good shepherd.The first morning I was TERRIFIED.

Would I be able to hold the attention of (most) of the kids? Would the counselors hate me for taking too much time or even worse not enough? Would the staff totally regret their decision to have me take the job?

image_2(my trenta)

So many doubts as I went to step up and took the mike for the first time. I got up that first chapel and talked about shepherds and the awesome teen staff helped me with a skit. And as I finished my first day of stories my nervousness began to go away because I realized I was doing something I love more then anything.

Getting the privilege of telling kids that they are not only special and loved but that God has a plan for them.

And these kids need to hear that desperately.

In that I realized where my fear came from. In all the times last year I stood in front of a mike and talked or sang, I never was really nervous because I didn’t really care what other people thought (and of course for the most part no one spoke english).

image_1(Lauren// fellow WR Alum// fellow Californian// fellow adventurer)

Put me in front of a mike in front of a group of kids with short attention spans, friends I respect and people I don’t really know and I forget why I ‘m really there.

The next day I showed up to chapel in a sparkly sweater and an afro and a lot more confidence and love.

Because all that mattered was that the kids listened long enough to know we love them, Jesus loves them and He has a plan for them.

THAT’S what I want my life to look like no matter has scary it seems. I want people to know they are loved by Jesus, that He has a plan for them no matter where they are in life.

I admitted a few things to the kiddos last week between shouting psalm 23:4 and apparently looking like a a crossover between MJ and Bob Marley; I admitted I’m blind as a sheep, I need google, that I was afraid of the dark and that I’m 29 and still unsure completely what I want to be when I grow up.

But what last week taught me is that standing in front of someone (or many someones) and encouraging them to go and do and be is a big part of who I am and what I want to be.

So yes, I was scared this week before I put on the sparkly sweater.

Because kids? are scary.

Adults? they are scary too.

People who understand english?

Yep, scary.

The bottom line, the thing that helped me get over the fear is the reminder that God has a plan.

image_4

I’m leaving Thursday for another adventure.

And just like those kids, God has a plan. And that information grounds me a little. I’m getting on a plane Thursday by myself and I’m antsy and nervous. I’m so thankful I have friends meeting me on the other side.

That’s all for now. Last week was a beautiful blessing and I can’t wait to see my Royal Family again next year.

I may or may not have more blog stateside (or on my enormous 4th of July layover in Turkey) But I treasure your prayers and encouragement in this next part of life. And if you are able and willing I still need some help and support for this journey. All donations are tax deductible: Click HERE to donate and make sure you type “Meg Reeve” in the notes. (And if you’d like a postagram from Espana shoot me your mailing address!!)