Who am I? The Beginning of a Journey

21 Apr
Through some events in my life recently, I have realized realized that I don’t just struggle with self-hatred, for most of my life, I literally saw no value in the person that God created me to be.  I always thought there were just certain things I hated about myself, but that there were some things that I was okay with.  But, I’ve now realized the depth of what I felt.  I had been sharing my feelings with the Bonhoeffer House intern group about a difficult relationship in my life and the struggles I had been going through with it.  One of the interns prayed for me that I would see and understand God’s love for me, and only through that would I be able to love others well.  I have also been reading the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, which is about her experience with learning how to live fully in Christ.  She focuses on the concept of eucharisteo, which basically means “thankfulness” and how it is the center of life. I have been processing how to adopt thankfulness as a way of life because I know it is something that can really affect my attitude and well-being.  But I realized that in order to be thankful, I have to know that God is good.  And to know that He is good, I have to know how He loves me and who He made me.  Because most of my life, what I have truly believed is: if He was truly good, and truly loved me, why would He make me the way that I am?
So, after this realization, my prayers have been: 1) That I would know not just that God loves me, but how He loves me, and 2) That He would show me the value in the way that He made me.  As with almost all answers to prayer, these things have been coming to me in ways I didn’t expect.  I expected for the answers to be tangible; that I would receive tangible gifts and that I would realize that they are ultimately from God and that would allow me to feel His love.  Or that I would start to see how my personality and character traits are valuable to those around me or the world in general, and then I would start to see myself as valuable.  But what’s happening is, I am hearing things, or talking about things, or seeing things, and it’s like a light bulb moment of God saying, “This is who I made you to be,” and simply hearing that is allowing me to see and feel His love for me, and I am able to accept and value the things about myself that He shows me.  It’s like hearing it from Him takes away my ability to hate it.
That being said, here’s what I’ve learned so far, may I never forget them:
-I am a verbal processor.  I always knew this, but I thought it meant that I just like to talk about my problems and get other people’s feedback or advice.  What it means is that sometimes I literally do not understand something until I am talking about it out loud.  This being something I already knew, it’s amazing to see how hearing God say, “This is who I made you” takes away the insecurity that used to always come with it.
My job as a beauty advisor is a gift from Him.  I really enjoy experimenting with the products and helping myself and other women feel beautiful through them.  And not only does the job itself provide these opportunities, but because of my position, I get to try a lot of things I wouldn’t normally spend money on for free!  It is something I never imagined I would be doing as a vocation and it is blossoming a part of me that I didn’t even know was created by God.
I thrive in space that is my own and time alone.  Another thing that I knew on a certain level, but always despised.  But when I am able to have these things, I can hear Him more clearly and I can love Him and others better because it is simply how He created me to be.
Even now, I feel like I have to explain and justify these things as I share them.  But I don’t!  This is the Megan that God created.  Period.
Lastly, I want to share the revelation I received tonight.  At small group we were discussing Exodus 25:1-9, focusing on verse 8.  In the sermon on Sunday, Bret shared the different places that God has dwelt throughout history.  First in the Heavens, then in the Garden of Eden, then in the tabernacle (in Exodus), then in Solomon’s temple, then in Christ Jesus, and now in us.  Bret had also talked about the great detail in which God instructed the Israelites to build the tabernacle and the beauty and ornateness of it.  And Solomon’s temple was also an amazing and beautiful structure that historians through the ages have marveled at.   One of the members of the group shared how this explanation impacted him.  He said he realized that throughout history, God has only dwelt in beautiful things.  Even in the person of Jesus, a perfect, spotless man.  And if He now dwells in us, that must mean that we are beautiful too.
I am beautiful.  Beautiful enough to be indwelt by God Himself.  But not only that, my love and care for details is modeled after God Himself.  I have always seen my desire for details and specifics as a burden to almost everyone around me.  Details don’t matter to others and therefore are a nuisance and a bother, which makes me, someone who cares about them and needs them, also a nuisance and a bother.  But no.  God Himself cares about details more than I ever could, and when He put that in my heart, He did it because He loves me and wants to share this quality with me.  How amazing is that?

My New Path

4 Jun

So, I know it’s been ages since I’ve written on here. I honestly forgot it existed :-/  BUT, since God has provided an amazing opportunity for me, I wanted to share it!  I will be moving back to Radford, VA (yay!) and interning with Valley Bible Church!  I am so so so excited about this, I could probably talk about it for hours on end.  It’s one of those things where I get to look back on the things God has brought me through over the last few years and say “Oh hey…that was leading me toward this!”  Below I am posting the letter that I am sending to family and friends to find out who might be interested in hearing more about this next step of my life:

Dear friends and family,

The Lord has taken me down a crazy and wonderful path over the last few years.   My life has definitely taken a different direction than I would have imagined, but it has also been so much more amazing than I would have ever imagined. Over the last few years, I have been able to follow my dreams in many different directions. I was an intern with Cru for one year, which was a great opportunity for me to learn what it looks like to live my life loving Jesus and lead others in their growth in their relationships with God. After that, I spent a year as a live-in nanny just outside of New York City, which has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I am so thankful that God provided the opportunity for me to live this dream. However, while I was living in New York, something that I noticed is that there weren’t a lot of resources for me to grow in my relationship with God along with people in the same life stage. When I was in college, Cru was a great place for me to learn and grow. After graduation, I found myself feeling isolated and ignored, even in places like New York City which is full of single, young adults. During my time there, I began to realize that I am not the only person who feels that this is a need to be filled in the Christian church. While living in Montana for the last year, I have noticed that this issue is universal. Thankfully, I have come across an opportunity to change that.

For the next stage of my life, I will be moving back to Radford, Virginia and participating in an internship with Valley Bible Church. This internship will be administratively based, which is something that I greatly enjoy and have a passion for. I have been involved with Valley Bible Church since its launch in 2010 and I truly believe that God has blessed this church to fill so many needs in the New River Valley of Virginia. The majority of the 20-25 hours a week I will spend working for VBC will be spent taking care of various administrative needs such as church-wide communications, organization of tasks to assist with membership or Sunday school classes, or any other support that is needed by the VBC elders. The other part of my time will be spent specifically supporting Jesse Furey, who is the Pastor of Church Planting. He recently started a ministry called the Bonhoeffer House which equips young men to spend their lives in leadership and learning to live in the local church. Jesse is also working part-time with Cru, in an effort to create a more smooth transition between the support of college ministry and living life in the local church. I am beyond excited to see and be a part of VBC and other local churches in the area beginning to fill the need that I have noticed for so many years.

In order to be able to participate in this opportunity, I need your support. I need to raise $1,500 per month in financial support by August 1st so that I can be a part of this amazing opportunity. I would love to be able to talk to you more about the details or any questions you may have. If you are interested in hearing more, please let me know!

Sacrifices

5 Feb

I’ve been thinking a lot about sacrifices over the last few days.  It’s been one of those weeks where it seems like everything you read or look at or hear all points to the same message.  In my Bible study we’ve been studying the chapter in Genesis where Abraham has to put his beloved Isaac on the altar.  I was also reminded of a story that I’ve heard several times, but it’s like a light bulb goes on in my head every time I hear it.  Here it is:

                                             _______________________________
…Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere–Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed…

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?”

“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess–the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite.”

“That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?”

“Daddy, you know I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.”

“That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

“What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?”

Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver,she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

                                                         ____________________

Why do I always hold so tightly to the counterfeit?  I want to always remember that if God is asking me to give something up, it’s always going to be because He loves me and knows what’s best for me.  

A Much-Needed Reminder

31 Jan

So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been drowning in loneliness and missing home.  I’ve come to accept the fact that it just happens now and then and it probably will happen every once in a while for the rest of my life (or as long as I live away from home, whichever comes first).  But, God, being the amazing Father He is, always tends to show up in a moment when I least expect it.  Today was one of those moments.

I picked the boys up from Hebrew school this evening and asked them what they learned about.  They told me that they talked about why God let the Holocaust happen.  I asked them what their teacher said (“The Torah doesn’t have the answer so we don’t know for sure”….ugh.) and they shared what some of the other kids’ guesses were and whether or not they agreed.  Then I asked them if I could tell them what my opinion was and they said yes.  I said that one reason is just that terrible things happen in the world because we are sinners, and that sometimes our sins affect just us or a few people, and sometimes our sins affect lots of people.  So then they started telling me stories about kids they knew whose parents worked in the World Trade Center on 9/11 but they had lived because of one reason or another.  So I said that those are examples of what we call “God’s grace” and that grace is like a blessing that we get that we don’t deserve, and that those stories are a great reminder that God has grace even in the midst of terrible tragedies.  And then one of the boys said, “It’s like God is a really great father who sometimes gives punishments and sometimes gives rewards.” (Which was another awesome thing because we have a new rewards system that I now know is actually sticking in their minds!)

I was talking to a wonderful friend of mine today who explained that some days parenting is like you’re building a wall, and every time you put in five screws, someone comes behind you and takes out three of them.  You’re still making progress, but it’s slow and frustrating.  But, I was reminded today that those two screws that are left…they’re the most important ones of all.  🙂

Calling vs. Occupation

29 Dec

I have a bunch of thoughts and questions going through my head and I think I just need to process them in some sort of venue…

I recently spent almost a week in my wonderful hometown with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world, and it really helped refresh and rejuvenate me. I also got to meet some very adorable, wonderful babies for the first time and got to fall in love several times over throughout the week.  Going home is always a bit of a bittersweet experience for me because as happy as I am to be there, I am also sad that I have to leave again without any knowledge or idea of when I might be able to come back, which was even harder this time now that I got to meet all the babies who will have no idea who I am the next time I see them or how much I love them.  And, as much as I am daily able to see God’s provision in my current situation of life, my heart still has a Radford-shaped hole.  

While I was there, God really confirmed to me that He has called me to have a ministry to children.  It is what He created me to do.  I don’t know exactly what that means, but I know that.  I have always loved children in general (despite a terrible employment experience that caused me to forget for a while) and I remember walking into my first day of student teaching and feeling 100% sure that THAT was what God created me to do.  At the time, I thought that meant teaching in a classroom, but now I think it just means He created me to minister to children.  That could mean a million different things…..being a nanny, being a mom, being good friends with their parents and therefore an influence in their lives, being a teacher, etc, etc, etc.  I think too often we, feeble humans, decide we know what God has called us to do (sometimes based on what we WANT to do, sometimes based on truth) and then jump to a conclusion about what occupation we should have because of it.  And sometimes, the two go hand-in-hand, but sometimes they don’t.  

What about the person who doesn’t feel called to go into ministry until they are 50 years old?  Or the person who God calls to go to nursing school when they are a grandparent?  Does that mean that they assumed their calling was one thing and they were wrong their whole lives?  I don’t think so.  I think we too often lump our calling and our occupation together.  What if God calls someone to minister to middle school students?  Does that mean that they should be a youth pastor, or maybe just a middle school teacher and be a light in a world full of darkness and fear and insecurity?   

I feel blessed because I had a dream to move to NYC and it turned out to be something God called me to do.  But I know that isn’t the case for everybody.  I’m not really expecting to come up with an answer to all my questions, but it’s just something I am pondering and I just thought I’d put it out there.  All I know is, the most joyful we will ever be on this side of Heaven is doing whatever God calls us to do.  Not that the ultimate goal is to feel good all the time…it’s just generally a side effect of following God wholeheartedly.  But that’s a whole other ball of wax.  

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Birthday cards from the boys

7 Dec

Here are the birthday cards I received from the boys tonight:

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The picture in the second one is of his favorite nfl team (the saints) losing to my favorite nfl team (the redskins)

One of those moments that makes it all worth it

6 Oct

So, we were in the car, talking about something silly, like who my favorite pop star is (they asked me if it’s Lady Gaga which led to some pretty hilarious antics), and Justin Bieber was mentioned. So then Isaac says, “You like Justin Bieber even though he slaps paparazzi??” (insert conversation about whether or not I believe that is true)…”Justin Bieber should think twice before he does stuff like that, just like you always tell me to think before I speak!”

Thank you, God, for reminding me why this job is awesome 🙂

Bad kitty

14 Sep

Alex: Today we watched the video Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Meraay

Me: Who is Bad Kitty?

Boys: *proceed to laugh for ten minutes straight so hard tears are streaming down their faces*

Apparently I am *that* nanny…

Toddlers

27 Aug

So, we were shoe shopping today and we saw the tiny shoes, so I had to explain that they were for toddlers. So Isaac asks, “What’s a toddler?” and Alex replies “Someone who moves slowly…oh wait, that’s a dawdler.”

Compliments

19 Aug

I just remembered a few things that I wanted to be able to look back on in the future.

The other day, Isaac was screaming in pain, so his parents decided he needed to go back to the hospital.  They couldn’t take him, so his grandparents had to come pick him up.  I offered to carry him to the car for them, and then they asked me if I could come with them.  He seemed to be in less pain while I was holding him, so I continued to do so even once we got to the hospital room.  That evening, their grandmother called me to tell me that they were all talking about how sweet and kind and helpful I was that day, and she wanted to call and let me know 🙂

I took Alex to Bed, Bath and Beyond so I could pick up a few things (I always need more things for the kitchen!), and we were standing in an aisle that happened to have baking dishes as well.  He looked up and said, “You better get those pans that say ‘Baker’s Best’ because you’re the best baker!”  🙂