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15 Fridays

15 Fridays. 105 days.

It was 15 Fridays ago that I said goodbye to Royce and that I’d see him after spring break. I took my stuff out of the teacher closet, waved goodbye to the kids, and walked to my car. Later that night I was supposed to board a flight to San Francisco, but to avoid feeling rushed and because I hadn’t even begun packing, I postponed my flight to Saturday. So instead of getting home, rushing to get ready for a flight, and then running my way out the door, I rinsed off, cleaned my face, and put on something nice to wear to church. I was late- as usual- so I walked up to the front row where I normally sit while the worship set had already started. After service I went outside to the courtyard, gave some friends a hug, then went to have dinner at Zippy’s with a friend. All in all, it was a pretty normal Friday.

Who would have known that the world- my world- would soon completely flip upside down.

No one knew! No one saw it coming! COVID-19 came and put a screeching halt to the way the world was running. Soon schools would close, businesses would shut down, stay at home orders would be put into place, and quarantining at home would be the one thing everyone had in common.

At first, I was overjoyed. Extended spring break! Who could say no to that? I wouldn’t have to wake up early to commute into town. There would be no kids screaming my name. I could go to the beach! I could have a slow morning and eat breakfast at home! It would be wonderful. This was the kind of break I needed.

And it was! It was truly a beautiful season of rest and rejuvenation. Because before COVID hit, I was working 40 hours a week, going to some sort of church related activity every night of the week, spending my weekends working at Madewell, and was only really home to shower, eat, and go to sleep. I was constantly moving and going and doing the next busy thing. There was no time to slow down, no time to do nothing, no time to rest. So when work from home became the new normal and church was no longer gathering in person, I didn’t have to be anywhere. I could just be home.

Being home meant I could finally just be. I did lots of reading- seven books to be exact. I organized the ‘junk’ drawer to the best of my ability only for more junk to get piled in as time passed. I did laundry and lots of it- my bedsheets have never been cleaner. I went through my closet sorting out old clothes and ended up trying everything on. I maintained a steady workout routine and for the first time in my four years of living in Kaneohe I walked up and down Mokulele. COVID allowed me to do the things I never make the time for myself to do but know I should be doing anyways.

As for being a preschool teacher from home, I struggled a little bit at first. I wondered how on earth am I supposed to teach students when I can’t even physically be with them. My first couple Zoom calls consisted of everyone yelling “Hi guys! Look at my toy!!” for a good hour. Then after a couple more calls we started to get the hang of it and built a routine- even building a curriculum you might say. I created projects for myself, did lots of professional development research, held virtual parent teacher conferences, and even made an effort to mail the kids something fun they could play with. I didn’t know what to do at first, but as time went by I started adjusting and learning a new way of doing my job.

Then weeks of staying at home turned into months of staying at home and our school reopening date kept getting pushed back and back and back. For a while, I saw no end in sight. And the joy of getting to be home and getting to take things slow started to wear off. I wanted to move again. I wanted to be working again. I wanted little kids to call my name and church connect groups to be my source of social interaction. I wanted connection, because in a season of social-distancing,  I felt so far away from the intimate, loving parts of my world.

I would watch as my sister and my cousins had picnics together. They would go to Golden Gate Park on a sunny day and read books or watercolor. Then on Mother’s Day they all got together and had lunch. And here I was, by myself, spending far too much money on groceries and baking far too many cookies. More than once I found myself crying, wondering how much longer I would have to be alone for.  

So after the third reopening extension was announced, I packed my things and hopped on the first flight to San Francisco. I was nervous and anxious. Was it going to be safe? Was it going to be clean? How many people were going to be on the plane? Did they sanitize the bins at the security checkpoint? No matter the worries that circulated in my head, I reminded myself that going home was what I needed. I needed people- my people. I needed social interaction, and for just a while, I needed to be taken care of rather than be all alone.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that running away isn’t always the answer. That sometimes you have to muster up the courage and fight the battle head on. That’s the only way to get through it. But I kept telling myself I needed to be home. I kept telling myself I needed people. And while it was very true and it was very valid, there was also a battle I needed to fight head on. A battle that only came to the surface when I had enough time to sit with myself and not be consumed by the busyness of everything I was doing.

A worldwide pandemic, working from home, and being socially distant revealed to me my deepest desire- to belong.

To belong to a person: to be loved and cared for and appreciated. The desire for someone to want me and need me to be around just as I so deeply want them. It’s what I have always secretly and subconsciously craved, and in the midst of this pandemic I saw a glimpse of it before it vanished into thin air and disappeared.

To belong to a family here, because in California I belong to a family. There are lots of family members, and I meant lots. But here, there are very few places where I feel I can be without being the “I’ve got it all together” Meg. There was one exception though. One place I could plop myself down on the couch and take up space and not feel like a nuisance. One place where I felt welcomed just as I am and not who I was perceived to be. That too though, vanished into thin air and disappeared.

To belong to a community. This one vanished before I even had the time to realize I needed it. My work community and my church community were the first to go. Though I know they’re not disappearing forever, the absence of these communities in my life made me question my purpose and the reason I go about each day. Because when you don’t have work to go and you don’t have church to attend, where do you go to serve?

Belonging- and the lack of it- started floating its way to the surface of my life. Then the questions started rolling in. Followed by doubt and lies. Of course tears made their way into the equation. I questioned everything and had absolutely no answer in return.

Then God tapped on walls of the barrier I had been creating to protect myself from the pain and confusion, and He told me that He was always right here. He was always with me, but I was never trying to belong to Him. I had forgotten that important detail.

The image I had in my head was God holding out an umbrella in the rain. Under the umbrella He was protected and not getting wet. He was trying to hold the umbrella for me too, but I was too far away. I took steps in the directions I thought would protect me or offer me what I thought I needed, so instead of being under God’s umbrella where I could be protected and kept warm, I was getting rained on. It was the Kaneohe heavy rain too. Not the Manoa sprinkles you get in the morning. And I kept wondering why I was getting so wet, but all along I was never taking steps to get back under God’s umbrella.

Now I know- or at least have a better idea- of what I should be doing. Of where I should belong. Because my belonging is not placed in other people’s hands. It’s not even placed in how hard I work or how often I work or who I work with. My belonging is placed in the one who created me. The one who sees me as I rush through life jumping from one task to the next, and the one who is with me even when I feel all alone.

I had known that all the things I did were for God. I became a teacher so I could help children reach their fullest potential and be the absolute best versions of themselves. I volunteer with youth so I can help confused, pubescent teenagers know there is a God who loves them even when the world seems like it’s out to get them. But I am just now starting to realize that there are things I need to do for myself- when everything I do for everyone else is stripped away- that I need to do for God as well. I need to read my Bible. I need to pray. I need to be in connection with other believers who will encourage me in my faith. That’s how I’m going to avoid getting wet by the rain. That’s how I’ll be able to stand with God under the umbrella where I truly do belong.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

The Next Block

Will you trust me for the next block?


There’s this one beach access that I always walk down to get to my favorite beach. It’s my beach access to my beach- my happy place. I park my car on the same street every time, and I walk through the same beach access every time. It’s a familiar place, my preferred place, that leads me to a place of peace every time I’m there.

But with the stay at home order and parking restrictions, I can’t park on the same street I always do. I can’t walk the few steps down to the beach access I normally go through. So instead I park quite a ways away, and I walk. Lately I’ve just been walking the bare minimum. Going as far as I can until I hit the first beach access point and then turn to get to my destination as fast as I can. It’s the easy route- less work but equally great reward.

But the other day I felt a nudge to keep walking. To go a little farther, to spend a little more time, to push through the sweat and the sore feet, in order to get back to my familiar place. So, I did, because I know that my beach access always leads me to my favorite part of the beach. That when I go down that entrance I’ll end up with a fantastic view of beautiful waves and clear skies.

So, there I was. Holding my blanket, my backpack on my back, and a giant floatie hooked on my arm. I probably looked silly. At one point I definitely wanted to turn into the next beach access and just get to the beach already. I was probably only a block away too. But I kept being called to the place where I knew I wanted to be.

It was that defining moment where I had to decide what to do. Stop now, go my own way, and settle for what’s right in front of me. Or keep going, push through, and trust that what was to come would exceed any of my expectations.


I look back at my life and wonder how many times I stopped short of my final destination. How many times I went my own way and settled for what I thought was best rather than keep going, pushing through, and trusting that what God has to come would be amazing. I think I’ve done it quite a bit.

Too often I’ve gotten in the way of where God wants me to be. I’m my own roadblock. And most times it’s because I can’t wait, I can’t endure another second, I can’t keep wondering when it will all make sense. Worst of all, I believe in my head that I can do it fine all by myself anyways. And every time I go off on my own, I end up losing anyways.

So this time, God wants me to trust Him for the next block.

Rather than throw in the towel too soon and take the easy way out, God wants me to keep going. He doesn’t want me to settle for what I can see, because He wants to take me to a place I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams. It would be easy to stop following now. To say, “Ok God, you’ve taken me far enough but I think I’ll just stop right here.” It would be a whole lot less painful and there would be a whole lot less tears if I just stopped right here. But the growing and the stretching has never come easy. It has always been a process of surrender and heartbreak and confusion. It’s not fun, and I think that’s why I’ve always wanted to stop short- to end the pain because I just couldn’t bare it anymore.

But this time around, I feel God rooting for me to get to the end. He knows what it’s going to be, and He knows it’s going to be amazing. He has all the details planned, and it’s going to be a beautiful display. But He also knows He can’t tell me. Because if God were to tell me what the end result was, I wouldn’t trust in Him. I wouldn’t put my faith in Him, but rather I’d try to manipulate it into my on way.

So I’m trusting Him for the next block. Knowing that it won’t be easy. Knowing that there will be lots of tears from now until then. But also knowing that in the end, it will be all mine.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

Restoration

I just felt the enemy cower.

It has been an eight-month long journey of restoration. Of restoring my broken relationship with God. Of restoring my image of who God is. And one by one restoring the relationships that I hold close. I never would have thought that I needed this journey, but it just goes to show that God’s plan is always to do the unimaginable in my life in order to bring me closer to Him.

So, let’s go back to where it all started. My lowest of lows in the summer of 2019.

I was done. God wasn’t showing up. God wasn’t doing what I thought He said He would do. It seemed as if He was nowhere in sight and that He could care less about the outcome of my life. So, like the hard headed, stubborn girl that I am, I decided that if God is going to treat me that way then I was going to treat Him the same way also. I stopped showing up- I was physically there but mentally checked out. I stopped doing what I knew God wanted me to do. And I stopped caring about how God could transform my life if I only followed Him each step of the way.

It had been weeks of being done with my faith- maybe even a couple months, and I was perfectly fine. My life went on just as it does every single day, and I kept marching along in what seemed like the beauty of it all. I know I have a pretty incredible life, because look around- I live in paradise. In the depths of my soul, I would not trade Hawaii for anything else because this is where I’m supposed to be.

Then came the day when I was not only done with my faith, but for a moment I was also done with Hawaii. That’s what finally woke me up from months of sleepwalking through life. I was ready to trade my paradise for something far less spectacular because my complacency and brokenness told me it was ok.

It was that wakeup call that reminded me how God brought me to paradise, I foolishly walked myself into the desert, and if I wanted to get back to where I was supposed to be I would need God to take me there.

So little by little I let Him back in. I called for Him to come near. I trusted in His goodness again. Then I let Him restore every broken part of me.

The first relationship He restored was the one that would have hurt the most if I had let it stay broken. It was the one that if broken, would have thrown me years off the course God has for my life. Through tears, tough conversations, and silence God mended and strengthened a relationship that now stands as a pillar in my life.

The next would have taken another five months until I fully felt peace. It was a relationship that I held high expectations for, so when those expectations didn’t become a reality of course it came crashing down harder and harder each day as I was reminded of the disappointment. God didn’t do what I thought He would do with this relationship, but instead He said, “Give it to me. It’s not yours to carry anymore.” So, I did, and it wasn’t easy. I thought I could give God a piece of it and keep the rest to myself to control and manipulate, but He continually told me to give Him all of it. Then when I finally did, when I finally said, “Take it all God I don’t want it anymore!” tears ran down my face and I could finally breathe easy again.

I thought that was the end of my restoration journey. Those were two relationships I obviously needed healing from, and God did the work so I thought I was all better. But as always, there was something I didn’t see and one more relationship that God needed to bring back together.

It was the relationship with the one person I truly believes spearheads the way for me. My image of her has always been her walking in front of me, machete (or wand really) in hand, slicing away at the things blocking my path. In nearly every facet of life I’ve believed that she has made a way for me, and because she has done the unimaginable I could too. But for the longest time I let this relationship stay broken because I didn’t see the true, God given value in it. Until it came in an answered prayer- both in the words she said to me and the person she continues to be for me- that I could finally see how much she means to me.

Eight months. Eight months for God to fully restore my life to something greater than it had been before I fell down the rabbit hole. It’s ok to not see the bigger picture when you trust in a God who can always see ahead of you.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

Thank You Jesus

“So He got up from the meal and took off his outer robe, and took a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ dirty feet and dry them with his towel. But when Jesus got to Simon Peter, he objected and said ‘I can’t let you wash my dirty feet—you’re my Lord!’ Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand yet the meaning of what I’m doing, but soon it will be clear to you. Peter looked at Jesus and said, ‘You’ll never wash my dirty feet—never!’ ‘But Peter, if you don’t allow me to wash your feet,’ Jesus responded, ‘then you will not be able to share life with me.” John 12:4-8

The grossest preschool story I could tell does not involve peanut butter. It does, however, involve a young boy with a suspicious looking gunk on his hand. I had called him over to fold his blankets and make sure all his belongings fit in his cubby, and when he came over he waved his hand in front of me and I got a whiff of an interesting smell. When I lifted his hand and asked what was rubbed all over the back of his hand, he quickly and nervously responded and said, “It’s peanut butter auntie Meg! Peanut butter!” I was smart enough to know that it was not in fact peanut butter, but I continued to ask him… “Where did the peanut butter come from?” He told me it was peanut butter from home- keep in mind it was now 3 PM in the afternoon and if his claim were correct that meant the peanut butter lasted over 7 hours on his hand throughout all the things he had done that day. So, I looked at him, carefully held his hand as I walked him to the bathroom, and helped wash the “peanut butter” away.

I didn’t have to be a psychologist to know that in that moment he felt immediate embarrassment and shame for what had happened. So much so that he tried to hide it. That he tried to cover it up and act like it didn’t happen or it wasn’t what it seemed like. He had an accident and accidents happen, but how often do we try to cover up our accidents, mistakes, wrong- doings, messy parts of or lives, because we’re ashamed of what happened.

In my life, it happens all the time. I goof and I try to cover it up because I don’t want people to see that I messed up. Even worse, I don’t goof and I keep walking along with my head held high even though God is clearly telling me I’m going the wrong way. More times than not, I’m Peter. I refuse to let Jesus touch the dirty, disgusting, messy parts of my life because I don’t want Him to see it. I’m ashamed and embarrassed, because I know better. Because I know what God wants of me and what He calls me to do. Yet sometimes I go my own way and instead of inviting God into the mess to help me clean it all up, I have it in my head that I need to have everything back together again before I can come to God.

But it was never meant to be that way.

Jesus didn’t die so that I could come to Him when I’m seemingly perfect. He died for the broken. He died for the lost. He died for the weary- confused and unsure of which way to go during their journey. He died so that in the midst of my hurting and pain and suffering that I could come directly to God and ask the Holy Spirit to take control of my life. Because before Jesus died, I couldn’t do that. It wasn’t so easy to come to God.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

Lucky Pennies

There are these little rituals- like making a wish at 11:11 or blowing out candles- that I know do not equate with the stars aligning or the miraculous work of God, but rather, little fun ways of seeing light in the darkness. They’re not the end all be all of what I put my hope into, but they do pose as little reminders to keep hope going bit by bit.

In the midst of my 21 day fast, that’s what lucky pennies have been for me. They’ve been symbolic of luck and blessing and fortune, and they’ve been tiny keepsakes of the hope that is to come. So, every time I see a penny with Abraham Lincoln facing the sky, I pick it up, hold it tight, and remind myself that God is going to do something good. Because over the course of this 21 day fast I’m removing things in my life and filling that space with God. I’m praying, believing that God is going to enter into that space and transform my life. More than just a luck of a penny, I’m praying for the goodness and blessing of God.

And so far, God has not let me down.

  1. (January 09) I take full and complete responsibility for the hole I’ve dug myself into. I don’t deny that I live a life I can’t afford. But instead of God kicking me to the curb and saying “figure it out” He gave me a second chance. He picked me up and said, “Here, try again.” And so instead of paying off a credit card bill, I’m paying off a personal loan with significantly less interest.
  2. (January 12) Every dollar has value, and in this season of learning to be more financially responsible I’ve held every dollar with clenched fists. To the point that even paying for a church event put my stomach in knots. But even then, God shows up when you think that a problem might be too small for Him to worry about. Girls night at church paid for through a sponsorship.
  3. (January 13) Spending money on eating out is what I grew up with. It’s as familiar to my lifestyle as brushing my teeth before bed. But it’s not necessary, and it’s not what I should be doing when I’m trying to save money. So, when a friend asked what groceries I need and volunteered to pay for them, I didn’t take it lightly. God puts people in your life to support the plans He’s trying to fulfill through you.
  4. (January 17) One dollar raise (per paycheck not per hour). It’s a measly amount in the greater scheme of things and it won’t make much of a difference in my day to day life, but it was an unexpected gift. Something I didn’t know was possible. Something I couldn’t have foreseen. Something I didn’t even ask for yet received anyways. God didn’t make me a millionaire, but He reminded me that He is still blessing me. In the smallest but mightiest way, He did immeasurably more than what I did not ask for nor imagined.
  5. (January 17) There’s a bank account I had completely forgotten about. A bank account that had money deposited in it but has never been touched. Enough money to give me peace of mind and not stress out about paying off four months of student loan payments. God is always looking out for us even when we don’t realize it.
  6. (January 20) Speaking of student loans… There are eight loan accounts that I’ll officially have to start making minimum payments for in February. I did the math- or at least I thought I did- and each minimum payment added together totaled to quite a lump sum of money. So, I planned and I prepared for the toll it would take on my bank account, but when time came to make my first payment, the total was half what I had expected it to be. Make plans all you want, but God really knows what is going to happen. And it’s better than what we could have planned for ourselves.
  7. (January 24) A big reason behind why and how I dug myself into the hole that I’m currently in is because I have a problem with shopping. So, it should come to no surprise that one night I found myself perusing the online options for Madewell. What was surprising, though, was that they were opening up a new store on Oahu. Before I could bring myself back down from my excitement, my job application was completed. One week later I was called in for an interview, and two weeks after submitting my application I was hired as a sales associate. I landed a job at the store I spend all my money at. Sometimes God aligns paths that you didn’t even know were capable of coming together. Now I’ll be making extra money on the side, and saving money on clothes I would have bought anyways with my employee discount.
  8. (January 25) My uncle and auntie came from Texas to visit. They had every intention to eat their way through Oahu, but little did they realize I would be doing no eating until after 6 PM. At lunch they were amazed at my restraint and how I could sit there and watch them eat while sipping on my beet juice. What they didn’t know- and what I couldn’t explain to them- was that my fast wasn’t merely a diet or a form of torture in obedience to Christ… It was a way of giving up something and trusting that God would do something in return. Later that night my uncle and auntie gave me a late Christmas gift, and the money they gave me made me realize that momentary satisfaction will never be more valuable than the promise that God is trying to pour out over us. They ate every one of my favorite meals without me, and I could have caved in. But at the end of the day, they blessed me in a way that brought so much more peace and provision than a plate of garlic shrimp.

Then it got to a point where I didn’t need God to do anything else. Now don’t get me wrong- I will receive blessing upon blessing, but God had shown up so evidently in my life that I couldn’t deny He was doing something wonderful for and through me. In ways that I didn’t even think were possible, He showed up. I gave Him a piece of my life, and He gave me countless miracles in return.

Sometimes it can be hard to give up control or comfort for the unknown and vastly unbelievable will of God. For me it’s always been hard to say, “Here God take this part of my life that I have meticulously calculated down to the tee” and it’s typically with a tight jaw and feet firmly planted that I finally let go. But when I do, God doesn’t disappoint. He goes above and beyond, and reaches farther and wider, and does everything I never thought possible. When I let go and let God, I’m not betting on a 50/50 win or lose; I’m putting my hope into even better and even greater and even luckier.