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Brave

I’m not sure where to start, because there’s no good place to start. 2019 was a journey of ups and downs and deeply painful challenges for me. Still, 2019 made me brave.

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When I was a kid, apparently, I’d put my hair up in four ponytails- one at the top of my head, one sticking out of the left side of my head, one in the back, and one to the right side of my head. I’d walk around the house with my four ponytails strutting my stuff like I was the queen of the world. I can imagine that I had some bright pink shirt on or a wild pair of pants. (I really had no concept of matching or minimalism at the time.) These are the details my cousins would use to describe the unashamedly, brave, young Meg.

I wish I could say that I stayed that way… That as I got older I continued to be true to myself and flaunt my stuff like no one else in the room mattered. But the reality is I became more and more shy. I was timid, I took a long time to warm up to new ideas, and I preferred the quiet of my own corner. There were instances- and with certain people- where I would be loud and proud, but when I look back I don’t know if there were any times in my life where I was as brave as four ponytailed Meg.

Until 2019 came around and God whispered the word brave into my ear. I thought this meant I would finally muster up the courage to climb the side of rock walls or maybe get over my fear of heights. I thought brave looked like jumping out of a plane without peeing my pants. At the least, I thought brave would mean going ice skating without holding on to the railing the whole time. But it didn’t. And sure enough when I went ice skating with my cousins last week I held onto the ice rink rail for the entire hour we were skating. (They were skating… I was inching myself along.)

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Brave wasn’t how God wanted me to act, it was how he wanted me to feel.

Because towards the end of 2019 when it felt like a world of pressure had been growing on my shoulders, God didn’t tell me to be brave enough to climb a mountain. Instead, He told me to be brave enough to express how I feel. He was preparing me to have courage to express my deepest, most intimate thoughts- to put them out in the open where I couldn’t keep them a secret anymore. He was making me brave. Not on my own will and surely not by my own doing, but because I knew deep in my heart that He would be with me every step along the way so then I could be brave.

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But don’t give me credit just yet, because it didn’t start out like that. I didn’t trust God like that. I didn’t believe Him like that. Because before I could be brave enough to know that God was with me, I was stupid enough to believe that I could be brave without Him.

The first brave step I took in 2019 was admitting to myself that I had stumbled. This in turn led to me crying out to God and asking Him to guide me once again. Because when things didn’t look how I had expected or hoped them to, instead of taking brave steps with God I took stupid steps on my own. I kept walking farther and farther away from God- growing in anger and resentment as time passed. I began to doubt that He cared. I started to let myself believe that God wasn’t working, so in retaliation I was done waiting. I was done praying. I was done worshipping. I was done believing in someone who wasn’t showing up for me anymore.

And as a result of trying to do life on my own, nothing came crumbling down, nothing shattered to pieces, nothing slipped out of my grip. Life was seemingly ok, and I was seemingly ok with doing life without God. So, I continued to walk farther and farther away from where I was supposed to be. But the war that raged inside of me couldn’t be masked no matter how many times I tried to cover it up.

For most of my life my head and my heart have been at odds. I’m a logical girl who likes reasoning and explanation, but I act based off of how I feel and sometimes I can’t control that. So, as I tried to turn my back on God, the battle between my head and my heart intensified. My head kept telling me that I was making a mistake, and my heart kept reminding me of the hurt I felt when I thought God was absent from my life. How could I possibly reconcile what makes sense versus what hurts most…

Then I remembered that God wanted me to feel brave, and in order to truly know what brave felt like I needed to know what terrified was. Because terrified was what I had been walking around with. The feeling of hurt that nearly convinced me God wasn’t around. The feeling of disappointment when nothing seemed to go the way I had thought they were supposed to go. Terrified was a life without God.

Once I opened my eyes, once I fell to my knees, once I admitted defeat, then I could believe wholeheartedly that God makes me brave. Brave enough to trust in Him throughout the unknown. Brave enough to relinquish my hopes and desires to His plans.  Brave enough to feel- and know without a shadow of a doubt- that I am not in this alone.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

Choosing Good

I am not an idiot. I know that what comes up must come down. I know that hot is the opposite of cold and big is the opposite of small. I also know that good’s counterpart is evil, and that where light exists there must also be darkness. So as much as I believe in a good God whose light prevails always, I must also believe in an evil enemy whose darkness can be just as strong.

On August 07, 2014 I chose good. I declared in front of my team, in front of the church members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and most importantly in front of God, that I believe in goodness and grace and light and that as much as I could I would walk everyday closer to that goodness and grace and light.

But in the summer of 2019, it became really difficult to choose good. Every day and because of each situation, the light that I looked for grew dimmer and dimmer. The darkness in my life soon became a cloud surrounding me that I couldn’t see past. The devil seeped himself in my life and planted himself where he knew it would hurt most. Little by little, one by one, he shattered every relationship I had put my hope into. I began to resent the people I loved. The people I saw a future with. The people I looked up to in my call to ministry. The people I trusted with my whole heart. And for the longest time I thought it was all my fault. I thought that I ruined these treasures in my life. It wasn’t until the enemy tried to ruin the one relationship that I hold dearest in my life that I finally woke up and said that’s enough.

See, the enemy thought he had won. I imagine him walking around with a smirk on his face thinking, “I’ve got this girl. She’s going to run away just like I knew she would.” But I’m not, not this time. I know that if I runaway now that darkness will win and the light at the end of the tunnel that God is trying so desperately to get me to will never be reached.

I know now that the light never disappeared. God’s goodness and grace never left me. I just turned my back around and thought I could handle it all on my own. As if I could ever fight the enemy on my own and win.

So now I’m turning back around. I’m facing the light and walking towards goodness and grace no matter how many nails the enemy lays on the path as I move my feet forward, no matter how many times he tries to whisper in my ear to turn back around, no matter how many tears flood my eyes as I try to see what’s ahead. Because I believe in good, and I know that when I choose good that evil will continue to creep up behind me and cause me to doubt. Because I know that the closer I get towards God, the harder the enemy is going to try to pull me away from Him. Because I know now that God has something wildly incredible in store for my life and that the devil was moments away from snatching it away.

Today and every day I choose good.

In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

I Think I’ll Stay for a While

No, I wasn’t born in Hawaii. Yes, I’m from California. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay, but I don’t have any current intentions to leave. I’ve been getting the same question a lot lately- more than usual. “How long do you think you’ll live in Hawaii?”

When I moved here in 2016 I didn’t necessarily have a plan. It wasn’t, “I’ll stay for a few years then move back to California and really get life started.” I knew that God wanted me in Hawaii, and so the next right step was to move to Hawaii. So, my honest answer to everyone’s question is that I’ll stay for however long God wants me to stay, and the minute He tells me it’s time to go then I’ll go. 

But at this very minute, my heart breaks at the thought of me ever leaving. God has done wonderful and beautiful things for me in Hawaii that I could have never expected, but first He had to take me through some ugly and painful seasons as well.

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Wednesday June 21, 2017 1:38 AM.

I woke up in the middle of the night- something I don’t often do- but there was an uneasy feeling in my heart that stirred me awake. I rolled over in my bed, grabbed my phone, and checked for notifications. There was an email from my pastor with the subject line ‘Aloha’. In my half-awake state I read the email, shook my head, and read the email again. “People are stirring things up.” “Drama team.” “I have been asked to intervene.” “They talk a lot, to a lot of people.” Before I knew it, tears were rolling down my cheeks and the breath in my lungs had been stolen from me. In a season where I was constantly feeling like I was never good enough, this was the final blow.

With tears flooding my vision I begged her to let me go. “Mom please, please I just want to go home. I don’t want to be here anymore. Can I please fly home today?” For the first time in my life, Hawaii was not home. Hawaii wasn’t a place of peace and comfort, but it was the place that crushed my every hope and desire.

In that moment I was ready to leave.

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Friday June 21, 2018 4:26 PM.

“I don’t think you should go to church tonight.” “But I loooooooove church.”

I had a 99.7 degree fever, a small migraine, potentially an ear infection, and a sore throat. Most of my day was spent sitting down to avoid moving around too fast and making the migraine worse. Even in the humidity and heat, I was shivering cold and needed a fleece jacket. Still, I wasn’t going to miss church.

Church has become my place. It’s where I know I’ll see all my friends, where I know I’ll actually get to have interactions with people my own age not two decades younger than me, and where I know I’ll meet God’s grace. Even missing just one service makes me feel like I’m missing a month’s worth of quality time with the people I care about the most.

It’s because of my church that I know I’m not ready to leave.

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See, I was ready to jump ship. I was ready to pack up my bags and never look behind me. And I almost did! I applied for jobs in San Diego, I considered getting an apartment with my sister in Point Loma, and I thought I could just slip away. But God still wanted me in Hawaii. And if I had even for a second doubted God’s goodness, I would have trusted in my own understanding instead of having faith that God puts purpose in the midst of pain. So, because I know better and because I’ve had enough experiences under my belt to know that God is always good, I held out onto hope that there would still be light at the end of the tunnel… A tunnel that quite literally felt like it was crashing down on me and I had no way out.

Now here I am having finally made my way to the other side- absolutely loving this life that God has allowed me to live. Each day gets dreamier and dreamier. The color of the ocean and the sway of the water has yet to lose its awe and wonder in my eyes. Then even on gloomy days when it’s pouring rain there are still specs of beauty as each new waterfall forms in the ridges of the mountain. From one side to another, this island is beautiful.

But it’s not the beauty of the island that makes Hawaii feel like home. It’s the people I get to share my life with. The people I bake cookies with. The people I have sleepovers with. The people I text when an episode of Game of Thrones gets too wild, or the people I go to the movies with. It’s the people that ask me the tough questions, and the people that remind me I’m being prayed over. The people who are guiding me in my call to ministry. The people that welcome me into their homes and into their families. These are the people that have helped Hawaii feel like home again.

Because of them, I think I’ll stay for a while.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

January Eighteen

I watched this Candace Cameron Hallmark Christmas movie- my favorite type of movie- called A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. In the movie, Candace has an angel who appears and helps her sort out her life. She asks the angel why God didn’t send any signs and why God wasn’t presenting Himself to her. The angel responds with a story…

There once was this man who was stranded in the middle of the night on a cold, snowy day. The man desperately prayed to God asking God for a sign that would rescue him from his predicament. Then along came another man in a sleigh. This man asked if the stranded man wanted a ride on his sleigh. The stranded man responded, ‘No thank you. God will send a sign.’ Along came another man in a sleigh. He asked a similar question. “Would you like a ride on my sleigh?” Again, the stranded man said, “No, God will send me a sign.” Then finally a third man came along. He asked the stranded man if he would like a ride on his sleigh, and the stranded man responded with, “No, God will surely send me a sign soon.” Well sure enough, the stranded man ended up freezing and dying. When he got to Heaven he asked God, “God why didn’t you send me a sign?” to which God responded, “I sent you three sleighs and you took none of them.”

I’m in a season where I think that God is sending me sleighs but I’m just not choosing to take a ride on them. I have a picture and a vision of what I want God to send me, but maybe, just maybe, God has something else in store and He’s waiting for me to open my eyes.

Because I could have easily said no to this sleigh. I could have shrugged it off as another matter of fact, but instead I decided to view it as a sign from God. Not to say that this is God’s plan for my life, but what if it was. What if I viewed each opportunity as an open door from God instead of thinking that God will only open the doors I want to be opened. I don’t think God works that way… I don’t think He’s going to do what I expect of Him, nonetheless do what I want when I want it…

So, I’m going to have to trust God on this one. I’m going to venture through open doors even if they’re not doors I would normally walk through. I’m going to rely on God’s wisdom and understanding and trust that even if this sleigh won’t lead me to my destination then at least it will get me a step closer to where I want to be. I don’t want to get to Heaven and ask God why He didn’t send me a sign and realize that He’s been sending me signs all along the way.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

January Fifteen

If you need me, I’ll have free time maybe mid-May… You know, after I finish my Master’s program…

Go to graduate school they said. Continue your education they said. Do it while you’re young they said. What they didn’t say was ‘sacrifice your social life’, ‘say goodbye to sleep’, ‘get ready to write the hardest papers of your life’.

But I really shouldn’t complain. I brought this upon myself. I had a Bachelor’s Degree already… I did the minimum and still I felt that wasn’t enough. So, I took a six month break from school, and I decided to put myself through the torture again…

Now I’m approximately 115 days away from walking across the stage in a long black robe to receive an expensive piece of paper… And the days couldn’t feel any longer. From now until May 11th I have an eight-week theology course and a twelve-week internship. I have countless amounts of reading and assignments, and I also have to complete 120 hours of ministry hours. My head is spinning. I took one look at my syllabus, and I was so overwhelmed I almost burst into tears.

But on May 11th I’ll walk across the stage at the age of 24 and have a Master of Arts in Youth, Children, and Family Ministry. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to read another book about doing ministry for at least the next five years. But most of all I’m excited. On May 11th I’ll have done what no one thought I was capable of. I’m getting a Masters Degree!

To say it was easy is a lie. To say it was a choice is an understatement. I don’t know what it’s like to do nothing after a full work day. After a full work day, I don’t get to come home, lounge around, maybe binge watch some Netflix. After a full work day, I get to come home, listen to an hour-long lecture, and write a 500-word reflection on said lecture. Then if I’m able to do all of that before midnight I’ll get ahead by doing an hour of reading, but if it’s already midnight I’ll beg myself to go to sleep already. It wasn’t- and until May 11th– easy. Each time I wanted to watch a movie instead of read chapters about theology I had to remind myself that I’m doing this because I decided to not because someone made me. Because in 2016 I chose to continue my education and continue learning about how to do ministry well. I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could, and deep down I still want to learn even if it means saying no to spending time with friends.

It took work, but I am so ready to reap in the reward. My brain is filled with knowledge that most church members don’t know. I want to share what I’ve learned, and more importantly, I want to practice what I’ve learned. I’m ready to be done with reading and writing and assignments and start spending that time serving and participating and doing ministry.

115 more days… It would be less if I didn’t have homework on the weekends, but I do. 115 more days; I can do this.