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January Ninth

When I was a kid I was silly. I was loud and unashamed. I wore three ponytails- two the normal way anyone would and one up top on my head. I tiptoed around the room like a ballerina when in reality I was probably just trying to avoid dust getting stuck to the bottom of my feet. I used to talk so much that my cousins would have to bribe me with money to stop talking. I was strange, so very strange.

Then somewhere along the way I stopped being silly and became quiet and reserved. I started to notice what the world expected of me, and I molded myself into that person. So, if that meant being put together, well-behaved, and gentle that’s what I did. And as time passed I became more and more afraid of being free. Afraid of raising my hand and giving the wrong answer. Afraid of dancing in public because what if I looked funny or what if I didn’t do something the right way. Ultimately, I was afraid of judgment and embarrassment because I somehow let myself believe that other’s opinions of me were more important than what I thought of myself. Or more importantly, who I was.

But tonight, I danced- more like swayed, stepped, and clapped. Baby steps, baby steps. Instead of sitting it out or pretending to be too busy to join the group, I went for it. And I remembered how much I love being free. Free to twirl and jump and do whatever it is I consider dancing.

I was brave. Brave enough to choose myself over what others could potentially think of me.

____________________

Brave.

Brave is my word for 2019. It’s what I’m choosing to do, choosing to be, and choosing to believe. Brave enough to take scary risks on relationships. Brave enough to follow God out of my comfort zone. And definitely brave enough to dance in public.

God is stirring something in me, and I think 2019 is the year that I’ll be brave enough to trust Him in it. It’s still going to be scary. Being brave doesn’t mean that the situation will be any less scary. But it does mean that I’m going to trust God through the scary. I’m going to hold onto what I know to be true- God’s infinite goodness- in the midst of what I have absolutely no clue about.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ To Jesus/ Uncategorized

My Sticky Faith

I was a senior in high school, and it was 8 AM on a Saturday morning. My youth leaders had invited me to come along with them to attend a seminar on youth ministry, and even though Saturday mornings were valuable sleeping hours for a high school senior, I agreed to go with them. I felt out of place, and I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. It was a small group of people but everyone else there were adults, then there I was a small, confused, and very sleepy teenager. The speaker was Keegan Lenker, and he was talking about a book called Sticky Faith. I can’t remember a single lesson Keegan taught that day, but looking back I’ve come to realize that a seed was planted.

Fast forward six years… I’ve graduated college, I’ve traveled the world, and I would maybe consider myself an adult. I’m currently a preschool teacher, I have my Bachelors in Child and Adolescent Development, and sleeping in on Saturday mornings looks more like waking up at 7 AM than waking up at noon. I’m a semester away from graduating with my Masters in Youth, Children, and Family Ministry, and the last book I have to read for this term is Sticky Faith.

As I opened to read the first page of the book I cried… I put the book down, stared at it, and realized that for the past six years God has been cultivating a passion for youth ministry in my heart while I least expected it.

I still feel out of place, and I still feel like I’m not supposed to be here. There are people much more outgoing and more personable and even kinder than I am. There are people who can speak in front of crowds without getting a lump in their throat the way I do. Yet that still small voice that whispers in my head and tugs on my heart comes around every now and then and reminds me that one day I’ll be the pastor that God wants me to be.

My friend’s dad once asked me why I’m getting my Masters in Ministry. I’ll admit that I was pretty stumped. The quick and easy answer I give most people is that I’m interested in ministry, so I wanted to continue learning about ministry. But my uncle wasn’t looking for the quick and easy answer… He was waiting for the real answer.

And the real answer is this… I see the world teenagers are growing up in today. Adolescence is no longer a four-year time span from the age of 14 to 18. In this day and age, adolescence spans from the age of 12 to 22. We’ve gone from four years to nearly a decade. For an entire decade, individuals are trying to understand who they are, what purpose do they have, and what role they play in society. And for most of those individuals, that transition is not easy. I see the way society tries to influence them and tell them how to be, how to look like, what to own, how to talk, what grades to have, what sports to do, what colleges to go to, and so on and so forth. And having gone through that identity crisis, I know now that no opinion or influence matters nearly as much as standing firmly in the knowledge that I am created by a loving God who knows me far better than I’ll ever know myself. That’s why I want to tell young people that there is no path quite as rewarding or fulfilling or fun or adventurous or exciting or good as the path God has for them, but I know it doesn’t work that way. No matter what I say, they have to experience it for themselves. I want young people to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel called adolescence, and if that means walking with them until they reach the end then I will be right there with them.

That’s what my ministry looks like right now. I don’t have an office or a title or even a position at a church. All I have is my phone to answer calls late at night when Lynn is afraid racoons will attack her on her way to her dorm and a car to drive teenagers to and from the beach. Maybe one day I’ll have an office and a title and position at a church, but today I have a heart that longs to see young people seek out their identity in Christ rather than in the world. And though I often forget that God has laid that calling upon my life, He doesn’t hesitate to remind me through small signs like the book Sticky Faith.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

January Sixth

Cooking for myself. Fixing a leaky washer. Vacuuming out the sand in my car. Writing a rent check. Those are all things college me would have never done, but post college me did all those things today. Maybe I am an adult after all.

My personal preference would be to eat out, pay other people to do the things I’m too lazy to do myself, and charge it on the credit card and worry about paying it later. But those preferences aren’t always reasonable- or cost efficient. So, there are days when I have to choose cheap, doing it myself, and using up my own free time. It’s not always fun and it’s not always easy- vacuuming the sand out of my car took a full hour and I didn’t even do the trunk- but I think those are the choices an adult has to make.

I am far from considering myself to be an adult, but everyday something new presents itself that I have to solve. I can’t always call my mom and dad and have them come rescue me. I can call and ask their advice or their opinion, but ultimately, I make the decisions. I decide whether to take my car in to get the squeaky sound checked or push it a few more weeks and hope it goes away. I decide whether to do my laundry and actually put it away or just continue piling it up on my chair for the next few weeks. And sometimes I make the ‘adult’ decision and go in that direction. Then other times I make the decision that teenage me would probably make. Either way, I’d like to think that I’m growing. I’d like to believe that I’m spending my time and energy moving forward not back.

So, here’s to being maybe an adult. To having to sacrifice fun every now and then in order to get the job done. Eventually my suitcase will get unpacked and my pile of clothes will be cleared from my ottoman. But here’s also to being maybe an adult and having fun. Getting to have a salary and decide what to do with the leftover money once I’ve paid all my bills. It can be the best of both worlds if you let it be.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

January Fifth

For some it’s getting to unbutton your pants after eating a big meal. For others it might be laying your head down on your pillow after a long day at work. It’s that moment of ‘ahh’ where you feel like you can finally breathe again.

For me, it has been- and will always be- getting in the ocean… There’s something about being weightless while also being completely immersed that gives me a sense of calmness and peace. The water could be cold and I could have had the most terrible day, but as soon as my feet touch the water all the feelings of worry, stress, anxiety start to wash away. With each wave that takes me deeper and deeper into the ocean, the things that were holding me down start to fall away as I completely submerge myself in the water.

Today was no exception. In more ways than one, I had that feeling of ahh.

In the middle of winter- when North Shore waves are at its highest- Waimea Bay was seemingly calm. Where we sat the waves hardly crashed over the sand. The water was clear blue, a little chilly, but absolutely amazing. The sand wasn’t burning your feet the way it normally does at Waimea in the summer time. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but the sun also wasn’t too harsh that we felt like we were roasting in the heat. It was perfect. As perfect as a Waimea beach day could be.

As soon as my head came back up after diving into the water, I had that feeling of ahh. Then as I continued to swim around I soaked up as much of that ahh as I could. It felt like it could have been hours that I was floating around in the water, when in reality it was hardly thirty minutes. I think that’s what the feeling of ahh does to you. If it’s real and genuine, then it stops time and nothing else matters in that moment.

But swimming in the ocean wasn’t my only source of ahh…  Getting to see my friends after three weeks of being away and giving them great big hugs was an ahh like no other. They’re my people. They’re the reason leaving California and coming back to Hawaii is more sweet than bitter. Without Paco’s jokes there would be far less laughs in my life, and without Sabrina’s mealtime questions I would never think about where else in the world I would live besides Hawaii. Being friends with any of the Coulsons is a great big ahh. They know how to make people feel at home.

If you had asked me a year ago, friendships wouldn’t be the ahh with a peaceful soft smile emoji; it would be an AHH upside down smile emoji or AHH stream of tears crying emoji or AHH girl shrugging emoji. A year ago, my friendships- the deep, soul care kind- were just beginning. They were in their early stages, and I wasn’t quite sure if they would stick. So, for me to jump a year in time and for friendships to be a sense of peace rather than a sense of worry has been quite the life changer.

There are many little things in life that bring me a sense of peace. Washing my car and seeing it sparkle in the sunlight the way Lighting McQueen’s would. Eating a piece of chocolate after a meal- or just eating a piece of chocolate in general. Then of course the ocean and getting to swim in warm waters. Those are the things I can count on- the things I know I have control over and can do to make my day a little bit more joyful. But having deep friendships, those are things I can’t always control. Those friendships take time and effort on both sides. So getting to add friendships to the list of things that bring me peace is an absolute joy.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

January Fourth

What to write about today.

She invited me to be part of a leadership connect group. She invited me because she feels I have leadership potential in the church. Me. Plain old Meg. A leader in the church? Not possible… but because I follow and worship a miraculous God it’s absolutely possible.

This month marks two years of me attending Anchor Church. It all started as a means of fixing a gap in my life. Transitioning from the bubble of a small Christian college to the real world was tough, and what I didn’t know I needed was a strong, uplifting community. For the eight months following college there was this huge hole where community and relationships used to be. So, Anchor Church was the resolution to fixing that problem.

My first baby step was Sisterhood. They were reading through the book How’s Your Soul. It was very fitting since ‘How’s your soul?’ was the question Mel and I would ask each other every day during our senior year of college. Sisterhood was a foot in the door that allowed me to foster community with other Christian women. It was a small way of me regaining community without having to leave the church I was already attending.

The next baby step came six months later when I decided to leave the church I was attending to participate fully in Anchor Church. It was not an easy decision. I burned bridges and I hurt other’s feelings, but ultimately, I was putting my relationship with God before my relationship with anyone else. And as a result, I grew. Who would have known that God would create beauty out of ashes.

Then another six months passed, and I had friends. For the first time I opened up parts of my heart, and I spilled the secrets I was clinging so hard onto. I dropped the façade and let them in. They are the friends who help hold my heart, take care of my soul, and push me closer to God.

Continue on six more months, and I stopped procrastinating with God’s calling over my life. I threw up the white flags and surrendered. I became a volunteer for youth group. That moment was probably the scariest of my entire faith journey. It’s the moment where I knew God was about to change the trajectory of my life. From there on out nothing would be the same again.

Now two years later here I am. I was standing in the courtyard when she pulled me aside. She invited me to be part of a leadership connect group. Who knows where I’ll be six months from now.