Cars and Windows

I think cars are meant to be driven with the windows down.

Sure it’s more convenient to drive with them up. Your hair doesn’t get tangled up or fly in your face. You can more easily control the temperature and it’s easier to hear things either people you’re traveling with are saying or the lyrics your favorite songs.

But you miss the wind unexpectedly blowing in cool breezes or the sounds of the landscape you’re passing through.

Most importantly, you’re missing the smells. You miss the piney smell of the mountain forest and the dry fresh smell of expansive grassy fields. You miss the smell of the rain and the wet pavement and soil. You miss the salty ocean and the aromatic wildflowers and lands rising from the ashes of wildfires.

Even in the cities, you miss the smell of freshly made food or coffee. And in the suburbs, the smell of green lawns freshly watered and grills or backyard fire pits.

You also miss the smells of the refineries, the waste management facilities, the stink of trash or the sickly odor that hangs around homeless camps due to the lack of accessible restrooms, showers, washers and truly: housing. But these smells are important too because it reminds us of the reality of our world. That there is great pain and loss. That there are things we still need to fix or improve in order to better steward this beautiful place we call home. If we keep our windows rolled up it’s too easy to ignore the evidence of our broken world that we drive through daily.

But of course, we miss the beauty. The beauty of the small, simple everyday things life offers us to put a smile on our faces. The small things that are steady and unwavering in a world we often perceive as chaotic and uncontrollable.

If only we’d roll down our windows and give up control over our perfectly molded hairstyles which can be repaired upon arrival at our destination, to embrace the small glories we so often pass over without a second glance.

Even if it’s just for a moment, drive with the windows down.

Camping in the Concrete Jungle: Release

One at a time the tiny droplets begin to speckle the concrete.

The breath catches in the back of my throat as my skin prickles under the sting of the incoming rain, there is no cover in sight and the gray clouds loom ominously above.

The rushing of feet to a hurried beat create an unsteady rhythm against the pavement and breaths come in worried whispers that wonder when the real storm will appear.

Not far off, the sky dances. Lines of rain sway back and forth to the call of the wind and wave to those below. Lightening flashes its smile and thunder bellows its hello and then it hits.

Showering upon my head, the water pours down from the clouds and in moments, shoes, pants and shirt are made defenseless and my bones are soaked to their core by this unfamiliar warmth.

Relinquished to the storm, all worries are let go of, for they can no longer be of use.

Faithful

I remember it clearly, written across a small piece of lavender colored paper was that word, “Faithful”.

I didn’t believe it when she gave it to me those five years ago as I worked my first summer in the kitchen. Internally I found myself saddened at the presence of it in my hands. Doubts ran through my head, “no one truly knows me”, “this word doesn’t suit me”, “how could anyone think this word describes me best?”

I never thought that piece of paper and that word would have stuck with me.

I have never understood how our memories work. How our minds choose which of the millions of moments we experience daily to save and store to the recesses of our minds. I certainly don’t understand why this simple moment, a moment centered around a word on a piece of paper the size of a gum wrapper, has been preserved in my memory for so long.

I don’t know of any reason except it to be a gift of grace from the Lord.

For that word on that piece of paper has returned to my mind over and over during the past few months and I’ve come to see how that word, although also possibly true then just not in my own eyes, was also a prediction of who I was to become.

I know I still have so much growth to go through in my walk but I finally feel like I have a foundation built upon which to stand through the good and the bad. A foundation of faith not simply in the Lord but in His love for this world and these people. A belief I have come to hold so strongly that it seems to influence most of my actions and consume most of my thoughts.

I have long known that words are a powerful force but to see it play out in my own life in such an intimate way is truly awe-inspiring. How grateful I am for that small word on that small piece of paper that has brought me into a much bigger world than I would have ever imagined.

The world is still beautiful

I never thought I would get to this place.

This place where I’ve become afraid of something that is necessary for my life to sustain.

Eating has become a struggle recently, I feel like I can’t eat anything, it all seems to cause me to feel unwell. Sometimes only slightly; sometimes more than.

And then there’s the sleeping. As each second I stay awake passes my mind gets more stressed that it hasn’t drifted off into the dream world and keeps me awake longer.

But that’s not the end of this place I’m in. It’s only half the story. Truthfully I’m so grateful that I’m facing these challenges now because I’ve never been happier. I’ve never had more joy in my entire life.

I’ve never had as many days in a row that I couldn’t stop myself from smiling because of my belief in this vast expanse of dirt and water that I call home. That even as I write about my health issues I smile because my heart has never been so full.

I’m not sure how it happened, how this boldly joyful woman came to live inside this body of a timid, broken girl but I’m so grateful it happened. I’ve traded in my nights of hopelessness and despair over the state of our world for dreams bigger than I could have ever imagined. For an unwavering faith that this place, even in the bleakest hours, still has light when I used to only see darkness.

For even when the sun has set the moon still reflects its light. For even when the moon is gone the stars burn brightly in its stead. Even when the clouds cover the sky the day still comes and the light, although not direct, is still evident.

Most days I shed tears but they’re tears of hope, love, and general overwhelmedness for the light that I have been able to see, embrace, and become.

For even through pain and sadness, I can’t help but believe that the world is still beautiful.

“You Deserve This”

“You deserve this Megan,” words I’m pretty sure I’ve said to myself since I could talk.

Raised by two wonderful parents who taught me the best they could the meaning of being “selfless” I turned it in my brokenness and became selfish. I thought myself higher than I was, and proclaimed my name louder than others because I honestly believed I was better.

But through it all, I felt like darkness, I knew I was darkness. The things coming out of my mouth, while still being able to be redeemed and used for good by the grace of the Lord, were tainted with a hint of salt so that I could steal some of the flavors of His work and claim it as my own.

“You deserve this,” I said as I laid my head down to sleep at night and as I woke in the morning, thinking that I, in my own power had earned the right to something on this Earth.

And then something changed, I can pinpoint it a specific night. A night when I was suffocating under the weight of darkness and stress. A night when in the middle of it all, for one of the first times, I reached out to someone to show them my weakness more honestly than I had ever done before.

How freeing. How freeing it was for someone to see me in my darkness and still love me and value me anyways. “I value you,” “I will pray for you,” the words came in like aloe to soothe the burns etched upon my skin, like cold water quenching my thirst.

I don’t know what it was about that weekend that changed but it felt like the final bits of pressure were being applied. As if, in that moment, I could either crumble and disintegrate and let all of the work God has been doing me over these past three years become nothing or, I could face it and take my place as a diamond, a precious gem worth more than I could ever imagine, in the polishing hands of the Lord.

It was then I finally started to understand I don’t deserve all the things I thought I did. I have not become the person I am through my own power but through the redemptive power of the Lord doing a good work in me. I have achieved great things and loved others well because the blood of my savior was shed on the cross and I have become whole again.

Because in my brokenness the Lord saw fit to use me.

How humbling.

How joyous.

How freeing.

“You deserve this”, words I no longer say to myself but words others have been saying to me these past couple weeks. Words I am in awe of every time they’re said to me because I”m humbled in all the ways these words show me how God has loved me. Words I know I wouldn’t be hearing except by the faithfulness of my community to encourage and cherish me, to extend grace and patience in my brokenness, and show me what it means to be loved, more fully and fiercely, than I could have ever imagined.

I don’t deserve this but I am so honored and humbled beyond belief to know that the redemptive work the Lord has done in me has put in me in a place of leadership. I’m humbled to be chosen, not once or twice, but three times, to share bits of my story to different audiences in this graduation season. The thought of it all simply overwhelms me and brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. Not because I think I deserve this, but because in these opportunities, I see the evidence of my redemption so clearly and brightly.

Christ deserves the glory because He alone is the reason I’ve been able to love. He alone is the reason I’ve been able to change and become someone better than myself. He alone is the reason I can smile, full of a joy so overwhelming, that I cannot contain myself and overflow into others.

I am simply grateful and humbled to be a vessel He has chosen, may it be so for the rest of my life.

Rivers Intertwined

Living by the water constantly reminds me of the ever-flowing river of life.

Once upon a time I was just a tiny stream, I knew few people and was influenced only by family, for that was all who was around me.

But as I have grown older I have met many others, some streams, and some, rushing rivers. My thankfulness for these bigger streams and rivers is unending. They gave me life; they helped me grow bigger and stronger by sending little streams of water my way.

Everyone, I have come into contact with over the past 23 years, in one way or another, has blessed me by pouring some of their own life into mine. I am better for it, especially thanks to those who gave to me even though our time together was short.

I will not forget why I have grown from a stream to a small river.  One day, when I hope to be as mighty as the Amazon, I will still remember all those who poured into me. Even more, I hope that wherever I go, I will bring life to those around me, pouring myself out as I have been poured into. Water is dangerous. It can kill, poison, or cause destruction, but it is the very thing that keeps us living.

I promise to be a river of life ~ it is the only way to properly thank all you have faithfully loved me from the day we first met. Our time together may seem small in the grand scheme of life, but impacts are eternal, and I will be forever grateful for those you’ve had on me.

Patient for Greatness

I don’t always check the little “On this day” tab on Facebook but today I am awfully glad I did.

There were ten things to look through and about halfway down I stumbled upon this post that said the following:
“MEGAN!!
Our most meaningful encounter was brief, but it was enough for me to see that you have an endless amount of love for this spinning sphere we’re all on and its inhabitants. You are impacting the world in such a beautiful way and I’m so lucky to know you”

Brief could not be a more accurate description of my entire relationship with the person that wrote that post on my wall in 2013. I met him the year I graduated from high school and saw him sporadically when I would come from my various adventures for maybe a total of three hours every 6 months or less.

I wouldn’t call us friends, we never had time to become such, but I do appreciate him greatly and think he is an incredibly talented and amazing human being.

That being said, this past week I sunk into a pit of despair as I contemplated the post-grad life that is looming before me. I got stuck in the mire of “if I don’t become someone as soon as I graduate, I will never become someone great.”

But that is a lie for a couple of reasons.

The first is that becoming great doesn’t happen over night, at least not in the sphere of greatness that I aspire to. The greatness I am seeking comes with developed character, humility, grace, peace, wisdom, and abundant, radical love and that can only come with time and trial. I don’t know how long it will take me to fully accept this fact but as of today I will be consistently reminding myself of it until I can believe it with my whole heart.

The second is that I already have been great in the past and as long as I focus on my true joy – loving God and loving others – I will continue to grow in greatness. Not because I am perfect or because I am amazing at loving God and others (for I am not and I almost always suck at it very very badly) but because it brings me joy to serve the Lord in such a way. Developing character in one-on-one situations, serving at my church, encouraging my co-workers, offering a homemade meal, all these things help me love others well and bring me joy. And all of those things are great and they remind me that in the past, and even now, great things come in simplicity.

That being said, I still hope I can become greater than I currently am, that is the hope of growth and development but for now I will rest peacefully in the fact that I am great and so are all the other people around me. I will rejoice in the small feats of my peers because we are great now and we will only continue to become great as we continue to pursue Christ. Based on the character of the people I’ve come into contact with here it would be absurd to limit them to un-greatness for their hearts are redeemed and their dreams are Kingdom bound and those things will always signify greatness to me.