Monthly Archives

October 2020

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

The Question

I’m writing this now. Before I have birthday dinner after birthday dinner after birthday dinner. Before I hop on a plane and fly home. Before the tears start flowing and the answer becomes less clear. I’m writing this now.

Typically when I write it comes from a place of questioning, reflecting, and then having lived through the experience enough to know what to say. I always write after. After the sadness, after the confusion, after the thing that hurts me isn’t really hurting me so much. But this time I have to write now. Because I’m afraid of what the answer will be if I write later.

So this isn’t a reflection. This is quite literally a pros and cons list. Here is me weighing out my options to the question I’ve already received twice and will probably hear a handful more times before flying back to Hawaii.

“When are you moving back home?”

To which I normally answer with a shrug and a “I don’t know.” Or if I’m feeling sassy it’s a lift of the eyebrow, a pursing of the lips, and a “Not anytime soon.”

But if I was being really honest, I would say, “What are you talking about. I am home.”

Because California will always be home. I will be a 650 girl until the day my mom kicks me off her phone plan. But the truth is I haven’t lived in the Bay Area- like truly lived and not just a two-week vacation- since I was 18. It takes me a minute to remember 280 from 101, and don’t even bother asking me to drive because I don’t know where to go let alone feel comfortable enough to push it to 80 mph on the freeway. Deep down inside of me there will always be a California girl, but this California girl has been out of state for quite some time.

So con #1 Bay Area, I don’t know anything anymore. And I can relearn! I’m truly not opposed to learning how to separate compost from recycling from trash. But I just don’t know the new things about this way of life. I’ve been so far detached that I’ve forgotten what it looks like to live in a big city. I didn’t learn along the way as the changes were occurring.

But pro #1 Bay Area, this will always be familiar so long as my friends and family are here. Nothing can replace the memories and history I have in the Bay Area. Eating Skyflakes and condensed milk after school because Inang didn’t mess around with those American snacks. Or going to the Pacific Super across the street and stealing ice cream pints and running back to Andrea’s house. Or young little Adam and his many hats carrying a tray of chocolate chip cookies his mom made for us (God bless Weekend mom). Yes, these are memories; they’re in the past. But the people I’ve made these memories with were and still are a huge part of my life, and they’re in California.

And that’s what is going to make hopping on a plane to Hawaii this Sunday real difficult. Because when I look out the window and watch the plane separate from the land and drift into the air, I know I’m also separating myself from the people I love and putting an ocean sized distance in between us.

It would be easier if I knew I was flying back to a family. Flying back to people who knew me before I became this young professional with a job and a rent payment and a car loan. Because I’ve always believed Hawaii gets a different part of me. It gets the part that is put together and on track and independent. California gets the part of me that is a kid- no responsibilities, free to do what I please, and joyfully untamed.

But that contrast is why Hawaii gets pro #1. My career is there. Even before I started working full-time, my professional life was built in Hawaii. Internships- years and years of internships- all in Hawaii. The retirement plan I’m banking on is from the job I’m at in Hawaii. The salary I get that beats out most other preschool teacher salaries is from my job in Hawaii. The children’s center that I love working at is in Hawaii. My 8 to 5, my 40 hours a week, my work is in Hawaii.

And yes, jobs are replaceable and I can find something in California, but it’s more than just my career. I learned how to be independent in Hawaii. How to clean a bathroom. How to transfer the electric bill to be under my name. How to vote. How to cook! My goodness if it weren’t for living on my own in Hawaii I would have never been forced to learn how to chop an onion.

I am on my own in Hawaii, and I enjoy that. So maybe it’s worth a pro #2 but also that’s a con #1, because on my own I cannot afford the life I live. On my own I pay for my own groceries, my own rent, my own car. I pay for everything you would never think of paying for until you live on your own. Toilet paper? Yeah that’ll cost you $20 in Hawaii. You want bread? That’s another $6 or $7. Spam for breakfast? You would think that would be cheap, but no it’s $2.50 a can. I don’t know how much longer I can afford to live in paradise.

But it truly is paradise. Pro #3: it’s beautiful there. The ocean is where my soul finds rest and meets peace. Lanikai beach holds a countless amount of my tears and prayers. The Ko’olaus can steal my gaze for hours. It’s warm, it’s sunny, there are rainbows. Smog isn’t filling the sky. I don’t have to worry about a fog layer rolling in and needing a jacket. The water temperature is always warm and I can go to the beach in the middle of December. I love the paradise I live in. I do not, at all, not one bit, miss living in a hustle, bustle city.  

So what’s the tally now? I think Hawaii still wins.

It’s going to take a whole lot for me to leave the life I’ve cultivated in Hawaii. Surprisingly enough, not even a pandemic made me second guess my decision to live in Hawaii. The world came to a halt, disease struck the nation, Meg became more dramatic than she already is, and yet I still had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to- needed to- continue living in Hawaii.

Sabrina and I had this conversation once before. We talked about how life would move on if I left. I would be ok, and I would learn how to rebuild. But in the deepest parts of our gut we knew that I’d be off track. That God has me in Hawaii in this time in my life for a reason. That reason? Still working on figuring that one out.

But that’s the one thing that would get me to get up and leave- a big, blaring, “right now is the time” from God. He’s the only one that will get me to budge. He’s the only one that gets to make that call.

And until that time, it’s Hawaii for me.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

Stop Trying to Understand

I was up late the other night. As is the case most nights, because I find myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram for hours on end. And on this particular night I had scrolled through just about everything I could scroll through. So, I transferred my attention to Facebook to mindlessly scroll through that. And when I signed onto Facebook I immediately had a notification. “Hillsong Barcelona streaming live now.”

Wow. Hillsong Barcelona- haven’t thought of them since I studied abroad. That was my home church when I lived in Spain, and funny enough, at one point in time if you Googled “Hillsong Barcelona” my blog was the third search option that popped up. Anyways, with nothing more to scroll through I thought, “Eh why not.”

So I turned the live stream on and waited for service to start. For the first ten minutes I watched the preservice announcement slides and listened to worship music in Spanish. As the songs played I was able to recognize the melodies and knew I knew the songs in English, but I can hardly remember lyrics in English let alone remember them in Spanish. Then service started and Pastor Juan and Damsy started with a few announcements. Pastor Juan speaks a million words a minute, but even with how fast he spoke I could still understand him. Somewhere in my brain I was able to comprehend it and know exactly what he was saying. After the announcements came worship, and that’s when God whispered to me.

Compared to preservice announcement music, the worship set displayed the lyrics on the screen the way you would see them if you were in service. And instead of just listening to the music and going along with it, I listened, read the lyrics on the screen, and tried my best and fastest to translate them. So the whole time rather than worshipping along with the song, I was working my brain to try to understand and comprehend what was being said. And I messed it up for myself.

I learned a long time ago- while studying in Barcelona actually- that God works in inconceivable ways. He works across language barriers and socio-economic statuses. He works in the United States just as much as He does in Spain or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He works in adults who have been around the church for a lifetime, and He works in young children who can barely piece together words.

So why is it that in that moment, I was still trying to make God fit into what I understand? Why did I need to translate lyrics when I know in my heart that the Holy Spirit understands Spanish.

That’s what led God to whispering, “Stop trying to understand.”

Because lately God has been saying over and over to me that I don’t need to- and truly will never be able to- understand Him or His ways. I don’t need to overanalyze and complicate the situation. I don’t need to think through all the steps and organize what to do next. I just need to keep going. Keep believing in His goodness. Keep trusting in His faithfulness. And keep relying on His love that will endure.

I see this image of Him looking at me, holding my face, staring into my eyes and telling me all the things I should have already learned by now…

“Meg, I created you to be organized and thorough and detailed and goal-oriented. I created you knowing you would plan everything and expect the world of it. But I did not create you to know my thoughts or know my reasoning. And I want to give you glimpses, I really do. I want to show you the pieces so that you can enjoy the ride along the way… So that it won’t hurt so much. So that you can rejoice along with me. But I know that when I do, you run off on your own. You take what is written in front of you, you work your brain to try to uncover it’s meaning, and then you try to turn it into something you can understand. But it’s not your job to understand.”

How do I rewire my brain in order to stay on the path God has set before me? How do I prevent myself from messing up opportunities because of my second nature need to understand? What do I do when all I want is for the world- my world- to make sense, but God keeps hinting at the fact that it won’t make sense- not anytime soon anyways.

Someone please tell me. Because I’m dying to understand.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

I’ve Come So Far

I cheated.

But is it really even cheating? It’s my birthday tradition. I made up the rules. The letter is written to me after all!

So maybe I didn’t cheat. But I did open my letter early. My special letter. The one that no one else is allowed to read. The ones that up until this very moment- these exact sentences- the world didn’t know about until now.

Every year, right before my birthday, I go to the beach and I watch the sunrise. It doesn’t seem that special. Now that I’m working from home I do that every other Tuesday morning. But the special part is the letter. The one I read early remember? Every year, I write myself a letter. From this Meg to the Meg in the future. It’s a little confusing, so just bear with me.

I started this tradition when I first moved to Hawaii. It was in the midst of loneliness post graduating college and moving to a place where I had absolutely no friends. This letter to myself was my vehicle of hope that sent forth my dreams and wishes. It came from a present point of sorrow and sadness with the hope of something greater in the expectation that once opened, the something greater would have been achieved.

I’ll write things like “Pay off your credit card bill.” Haven’t achieved that yet. Or “Hope you’re not single anymore.” Negative to that too. But you get the gist. I have a dream, and I write to myself hoping that in the next year the dream will be fulfilled.

But 2019 was difficult because 2018 was different. Two years ago, instead of writing a letter from the hopes of my own soul, I wrote from what I thought God was telling me. And maybe God did tell me that thing and I just happened to ruin the plans along the way (I do that sometimes), but that 2018 letter was written from a different part of my desires.

And ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to say it ruined me in 2019. Because for a whole year I held onto that message I thought I had heard from God. And when the clock started ticking and my birthday rolled around the corner, the message and the reality of my life didn’t line up. So I opened my letter with so much sadness and disappointment and heartbreak and bitterness and frustration and confusion and hurt and pain and I can go on and on with the flurry of emotions that did not equate to happiness or joy…

But praise the Lord God Almighty, this year was not the same.

I cheated because I knew it was going to be good. Before I even knew the words written on that card, I knew I would be filled with contentment.

And not because I read the letter and saw “Hope you’re not single anymore!” and was able to actually prove myself wrong, because I am still oh so very single. But because I read the one piece of advice I had written to myself, and I knew that I had listened.

There will come a point in time where I stop comparing myself to where I was last year, but now is not that point in time. Because I am still celebrating how far I’ve come. I’m still so proud of the way my faith has stretched this year.

The space that I was in last year was dark and grey and lifeless. I was not trying to grow. I was angry and upset with God, so I was satisfied in backtracking. Backtracking to the point of not choosing God. Backtracking to the point of not thinking God is working for my good. Backtracking all because what I thought in my head was going to happen didn’t end up happening. After this incredible life I’ve lived, how absurd for me to think that my plans will ever trump God’s. But last year I was not the sunshine and rainbows I pride myself to be.

So my letter could have been filled with anger. It could have been a nasty strike at God. But in the most miraculous way- not miraculous at all because I’ve been baptized and the Holy Spirit lives in me- my letter was filled with wisdom.

I told myself to not turn my back on God.

That if there was one thing I was going to do throughout my 25th year on earth, let it be to always choose God. Broken, tired, deeply disappointed 24-year old Meg hoped that as I turned 25 last year and as I lived out my 25th year, that all I would do was put God first.

And as I fight back the flood of tears that are about to stream down my face, I can say with full confidence that I read that letter and said “You did it Meg.”

Instead of getting angry and upset and thinking that God isn’t listening to my desires or that God isn’t close to me as I suffer, I have spent the past year crying and crying and crying some more then wiping those tears away and saying, “It’s ok God, because you’ve got me covered.” There have been countless times where I am on my knees in despair asking God what on earth is He doing and when will it all end or at least when will it make sense, and in the midst of that pain I’m able to stop myself and remember that God is still working for my good. Regardless of my current situation or the lack of progress I see in the desires of my heart becoming a reality, I know that God will do more than I could ever ask for or imagine. And I have spent this year choosing Him over and over and over again.

So, you did it Meg.

Light all the candlesticks. You’re officially 26.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

This One’s Not For Me

Friday’s are a little rough for my small humans. They love nap time, but they don’t always fall asleep right as nap time begins. This makes it extra difficult when they fall asleep at 1:30 PM, and I have to wake them up at 1:45 PM in order for them to go home at 2:00 PM.

And this Friday was no exception.

Groggy, tired, and frustrated, they got up and got ready to leave. Except one friend. He was even more groggy and even more tired and even more frustrated. He sat on his blanket and pouted. His fiery attitude matched his fiery red hair, and he was not ready to start moving.

So I walked over to his blanket, kneeled down to him, and told him it’s almost time to leave. Immediately he scrunched his face up and crossed his eyebrows. I told him I knew he was upset, but it was time to go. Then he stood up, and he started crying. He wiggled his arms around, started whimpering out in aguish, and looked at me with utter defeat in his eyes.

Because the latest fashion trend in the Mahina class is to flip your shirt over your head but keep your arms through the sleeves. And this little dude fell asleep with his shirt flipped up over his head and woke up to a sweaty, sticky shirt tucked behind his neck but still attached to his arms. He was already upset and sad about waking up, but now he was frustrated and helpless with his shirt all tangled up.

And as I reached out to help him, I said, “Bubs, sometimes it’s easier to just start all over rather than try to fix things with where they’re at.”

Rather than try to squeeze his sweat covered shirt up over his head, I told him to reach his arms up and I’ll take the shirt off then we can try again. And all the while as I’m doing this, I’m rolling my eyes thinking, “God, this one’s not for me.” I heard it loud and clear, but I don’t think this message is for me.

And for the three people who will read this, maybe this message is for you… Sometimes it’s easier to just start all over rather than try to fix things with where they’re at.

Broken things are called broken for a reason. If they were fixed or if they were whole, they wouldn’t be called broken. Because once they break- once something shatters or gets lost or alters in any way from its original purpose- then it’s no longer the same.

But broken doesn’t have to mean bad. Not all broken things are bad. Broken smoke detectors- now those are bad. Those need to be fixed. But sometimes broken things actually lead to better things. Like the eggshells need to break before you make the breakfast eggs and tomatoes. And the wrapping needs to tear before you can get to the present. And best of all, the foil needs to come off before you can eat the chocolate. Broken might not be fun, but it doesn’t always have to be bad.

In this season of COVID and quarantine and social distance and isolate, I’m learning just that- it’s a season. It is a once in a lifetime occurrence, and I am praying to God that I never, ever, ever have to experience a pandemic again. But in this season a lot of things broke. Daily routines, friendships, predictability. And the beauty in realizing and accepting that this time- this whole year- is just a season is that I can have peace knowing it won’t be like this forever. The brokenness will not last a lifetime.

What I do know- what didn’t break- is God. Who He is. What He does for me. The purposes and plans He has for my life. Those did not shatter or get lost or alter in any way from its original purpose. He has stayed the same.

And so even though I have no idea what the future of this season has in store, I know that God is good. So I can bear through the broken and I can have peace in starting all over again. Because there’s an off chance that God will mend the broken things in my life and bring them back to full restoration. But there’s also the slight chance that He’s telling me to leave the broken things behind. To restart. To trust in Him and let go of what I’ve been holding onto.

We’ll see. Either way, He is faithful through it all.

0 In Hawaii/ Uncategorized

Catching On

*I missed this. There’s something beautiful about being able to hit backspace.*

My sister is really good at math. It’s a good thing she’s in the accounting field, because she’s just good at it. That’s her knack. I’ve always referred to her as my human calculator. For as long as I can remember, that was just something that came naturally to her. Yes, she studied and had to learn things along the way, but being good with numbers was always something she was good at figuring out.

I, on the other hand, don’t have that talent. I’m not sure what you could consider to be my knack. Writing maybe? I do like writing, and I would say that I’m good at it. But not many things just come naturally to me.

Or so I thought… And then I realized what it was. And I’m not sure if I’m proud of it or embarrassed. I’m not sure if it’s something that’s beneficial or hindering to my understanding of the world. And I don’t know if I should keep doing it or if I should learn how to stop. But I’m really good at attempting to figure out what God is trying to do in my life.

And when I say really good, I don’t mean that I know exactly what God is doing or how He’s doing it. Actually, I’m terrible at that. I never know what God is doing or understand why He’s doing it. But I’m really good at looking through the course of my life, looking at what is going to happen next in my life, and trying to piece together what God is trying to do.

It needs to make sense in my life, and it needs to have reason.

I am driven by purpose and potential and expectation. Probably too much so because it sometimes drives me straight into the ground. But when I know these things- when I’m aware of what’s going to happen- then I know what to do next.

And the hard part these past couple years is that what I need- purpose, potential, and expectation- has not lined up with what I’ve been given. Maybe I see the potential… But then my expectation doesn’t match up and the purpose behind it all is cloudier than I thought. Or maybe- and this is often the case- I have such high expectations, but the potential isn’t there and the purpose gets lost along the way. Regardless of what order or what context or what I have and don’t have, the past couple years have been a flurry of trying to figure out God but not having all the components.

And last year was really rough. So bad that I nearly walked away from God completely. Nothing made sense, and I needed it to make sense. Yet every time I turned around looking for clarity, something was jumbled and mixed up.

So, the first time this happened, I despised God. I was so angry at Him and so upset that He could let me feel this kind of pain. I shook my fists at Him and said, “If this is how you’re going to treat me, then I can do better on my own.” I was so hurt.

That plan clearly didn’t work out.

And some time later, I came crawling back to God. On my knees and in desperation. Then He took me in, and He said let’s try this again.

But impatient old me couldn’t wait for things to make sense or to see the reasoning, so I took the potential and I thought that if I just hold onto it tight enough I could run towards all my expectations. That one failed again.

Yet this time around, instead of despising God and being angry with Him, I accepted that I needed to trust in Him and turn to Him first and immediately. First and immediately. First and immediately. First and immediately. That’s what I had to do, but that’s not where I was at.

The first try was more of a last-ditch effort. Instead of running away from God when I reached the dark lows, I looked up for His helping hand and followed His lead. The second try was a little bit better. I recognized the gap in my life that only God could fill, and so I let God fill it. This was more slowly and steadily. The third try I cried a whole lot, but then at some point I realized I didn’t have to cry because God would be taking care of me. So whenever I felt the tears starting to well up, I reminded myself that God is in control. Finally, I started getting the immediately down.

And now I’m starting to catch on.

I might be on my fifth, sixth, or seventh try. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve surpassed my tenth try. God has given me a lot of redoes. But first and immediately. In the midst of not understanding the purpose or the potential or the expectation, turn to God first and immediately.

Don’t let the pain cause you to walk away from God. Don’t let the darkness stop you from looking up. Don’t let the holes get larger. Don’t let the tears fall when they don’t have to.

Instead, turn to God first and immediately.

He’ll always be there. And the more you turn to Him, the more you’ll start to see and understand the purpose and the potential and the expectations.