April 20, 2009

blogging in coffee shops is perhaps the ultimate in cool

I'm writing a paper. (yes, another one)... this one is on my personal position on integration (of theology and counseling) which I love because I don't actually have to do any research, I can just write what I like and make it sound pretty without having to cite any miserable research articles. As an aside, when I was working yesterday on my other paper I asked the people I was sitting with what was another word for "dynamics" because I had used it 7 times in one paragraph. This horrible guy (who, as an aside to my aside, sat and harrassed my friend and I for far longer than his welcome warranted) was all, "it's a technical paper. don't try to make it sound pretty, just write what you mean." Loser. What's the fun in writing a paper if I can't make it sound pretty? and if I don't want to use the word "dynamics" 8 times, then I won't, thank you very much. oh and by the way, unwelcome chatty guy, could you please go away? thankssomuch.
BAck to my original purpose and point, I just quoted Madeline L'Engle from Walking on Water and I can't get over how much I love this:
"If she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she [does] is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not. And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord."
I just love that!
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I intend to be a Christian counselor who does not only counsel Christians. ha!

April 19, 2009

if I am truly crazy, don't you know I like my life that way?

this is how we feel about spending sunday writing papers.

so, we drank a lot of coffee.

and now, we're almost done! hooray!

oh and here is my fave picture of my fake b-day party...these boys bought me the card I am holding, which on the front says "For the Love of my Life" and had the most atrociously awesome essay about our love inside [the words "merry in your christmas, happy in your birthday, light in your darkness" were used, if that is any indicator]... I was laughing so hard I cried a little. I do have pretty good (and funny) friends. Which is lucky.

April 18, 2009

dear snow, I hate you. really. I do.

So last night, we got like a million inches of snow and Skate City closed just when my birthday party was about to begin. STUPID. I gave literal meaning to "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to" (or if it gets canceled...) major bummer. AND... it is STILL SNOWING. like, a lot. Here the view from where I sit:We still ended up having fun, of course, but it was hugely disappointing. And now I have nothing funny to blog about. So as my blog-crush Stuff Christians Like writer said recently, I'll be continuing "to get all Lifetime Movie with my writing." Sorry.

I've given a lot of thought in the past few days to judgment. For some reason, it keeps coming up. At Challenge Day which I blogged about the other day, we talked a lot with the kids about not judging people and drew attention to all of the various circumstances that make a person who they are... point being, we have no idea - at first glance - as to who a person really is.
For SOME unknown reason, we got on this tangent at my Truth Project group this week too. My friend talked bout a guy he saw on Sem Campus with pink hair. Making all the obvious judgments upon seeing any person with pink hair, the guy ended up coming to his class and talking about how he had done it as kind of an experiment to see who would get to know who the guy really was.
My friend Chris, a while back, grew a really awesome mullet. It was truly epic. He had it for a while, and as a very friendly, approachable guy usually, he commented several times on how differently people treated him when he had that mullet! Isn't that silly? Needless to say, I keep thinking about this topic... and don't worry, I'm gonna bring it all home here in a sec...

So I think this is sad. I do it too, like, every 20 seconds. I'm going to be a counselor - and if I ever want to work with at-risk youth or anyone not in a private Christian school (not that there's anything WRONG with that...) I'm going to have to really get over this. I wonder about all the people I have missed out on in my life because I didn't bother to understand them, get to know them, introduce myself. Whether it was because of what they looked like, what style their hair was, or if they were rude - whatever it was, it's sad to think about the people we miss out on - and more importantly, the people who get missed out on, because we [I] don't take the time to listen, notice, ask.

Today I saw this video - and I want you to really watch it (if you haven't already) because I think it illustrates this point BRILLIANTLY. This woman is a walking sermon illustration. I love to see the crowd's immediate change of heart, the look on the judges faces, as she completely... well... just watch. It's beautiful. I cried.

Britain's Got Talent

It makes me sad to think of all the other talents who don't ever get a chance to shine. I mean, I got to sing a solo in 8th grade at the spring concert. I got a chance. I wanted to sing, and I tried it. I didn't knock any socks off with "That's What Friends are For"... let's just say that. But the kids I met at Grant MS don't always get listened to, or get a chance, because they're punks and they have fashion mullets. Kids (and grown ups) all the time don't get a chance. Susan Boyle didn't for 47 years. But when she does, finally, get her chance... isn't it beautiful?

April 15, 2009

as an aside...

... maybe I should go easy on the super spiritual serious blogging lately. my goodness.
hopefully something funny happens soon so I can blog about it. I mean, I've got a reputation to protect.
ooh... my rollerskating birthday party is coming up Friday. that should prove entertaining.

fun is on the horizon! never you fear.

a more positive look at skinny jeans and swoopy hair.

Today, I got to see a bully apologize to those he had bullied and promise to stop.

I saw a 13-year-old girl apologize to all the girls she has talked about behind their backs, as well as her teachers and even her principal.

I saw a scrawny, sweet little kid stand up for himself, and I saw the kids who picked on him respond with love and respect.

I watched kids (and adults) as they grieved the things they had suffered in their lives and came alongside one another when they realized other kids (and adults) had gone through the same stuff.

I watched as kids sobbed into each other's skinny jeans and push each other's swoopy hair out of their eyes for a tiny moment as they acknowledged the oppression they had experienced as a result of who they are, their family situations, the color of their skin, the size of their bodies, or how much money they have.

Today, I watched a 7th grade boy stand up in front of his entire 7th grade class and teachers and apologize to any women in the room who had been mistreated by men. He said that he was sorry, and that in the future, we should remember the truth about how we deserved to be treated.

I'm not even kidding.

Confusion at this point is to be expected. Today I volunteered for this thing called Challenge Day at Grant Middle School. I literally had no idea what I was getting into - at all. But it was so stinkin cool I can hardly stand it!

The catch phrase for the program is this, and I think it says a lot: "Imagine a school where every child feels safe, loved, and celebrated... where bullying, violence, and other forms of oppression are a thing of the past... This is the work of Challenge Day." So basically these two very high-energy individuals come and run this day long program at schools all around the country. We played lots of games, affirmed each other, identified oppression and talked about really hard stuff, and then the kids got a chance to talk about what they were going to do to make a difference in their school. Who knows if the things mentioned above will stick - clearly, there will still be problems. But even baby steps are steps, after all. I had a kid in my small group who was resistant to share anything because she didn't like talking about her feelings with people she didn't know very well. After we did the oppression exercise (which was wildly powerful and had me in tears several times), we came back together and her "lips are sealed" attitude was practically gone! The gym, our group, her peers, became a safe place because they got to see that every person there had crap in their lives that was really horrible and sucky. I can't help but think that this whole day would have just made Jesus so happy.

This goes hand in hand with what I blogged (I love blog as a verb, I feel very hip using it) about back when I was all jazzed about my small group. The leaders of the program kept talking about the ways we're told it's not ok to be how we are and feel what we are feeling - and I STILL think this is problem numero uno in the church! I won't go off on this again... but lets just get real, you know? Just do it. You know you want to.

There are two things I want to do with my life/profession/ministry/whatever the heck I do: I want to refute lies (more on this at a later time, I assure you), and I want to make kids [and people] feel safe, loved, and celebrated. Lofty goals, but if I do nothing else ever I think that will be puh-lenty. So in terms of counseling, I am definitely taking a TON from the day...

Mostly, I'm going to try really hard to resist giving advice and just give kids space to feel what they're feeling for a while. I hate sadness, and I tend to try and be funny and make people laugh so they aren't sad anymore. But sometimes, we just need to be sad [mad, angry, frustrated, scared, you name it] for a while. Instead of trying to fix it or tell them the reasons they'll be ok, I'm gonna let them sit in it. I'm gonna sit with them. Life isn't about learning how not to suffer, as I think many of us can attest to... but about learning how to suffer well. Learning how to sit in it, and sometimes, [like, I don't know, when we feel safe, loved, and celebrated] letting someone sit with us.

April 11, 2009

"Christ is Risen! Celebrate accordingly."

Shortly after Lent began, a friend sent me this verse for encouragement:
"Remember not the former things, do not consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not see it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
I have to wonder about the Passion. Can you imagine? Jesus was supposed to save everybody - as in, he was pretty much expected to be this mighty warrior who came to the rescue. Jesus laid down His life instead of taking those of their enemies. "What is powerful has not come to fight…" as Derek Webb croons. It was not exactly what they had in mind. Might not God have said to the disciples, "I am doing a new thing! Do you not see it? HELLO!!" They didn't. I still don't. Out of the horrific death of Christ came this beautiful redemption, the salvation of the world. Even out of such a dark wilderness, the Lord made a way. My suffering is incomparable to Christ's suffering. But the truth remains: doesn't matter what happened way back when or even yesterday. God was (is) doing a new thing, a more beautiful thing than we could (can) imagine. Friday and Saturday's dim sadness are nullified by Sunday. This particular song I have been listening to says this, "It just might be the prettiest thing that you've ever seen, well it's a new day." This rings especially true as we welcome Easter Sunday.

Psalm 139: there is no where I can hide where God will not find me. "Even the darkness is not dark to [God]; the night is bright as day, for darkness is as light to [God]." Even as I perceive[d] darkness, where I hide and feel secluded from my Father... well, needless to say, I am wrong. Every now and then, my feelings dictate a shaky faith. I have to grasp that faith is not a feeling, rather, faith overcomes my feelings. When my feelings are the most hurt, this is when I must recall the truth: that God doesn't change. Even in the times when I perceive the most darkness, times like now when I cannot wrap my tiny mind around why things happen, I know I follow a God who sees right through it. And God will make a way, after all.

Often holidays fall through secular cracks... how chocolate rabbits are to remind us of the Resurrection, I'll never quite know. [sidenote: I am so not knocking chocolate rabbits. they're delicious. just driving my point home.] I am equally to blame. Often my birthday (which, we know this, I LOVE) falls right around Easter, and I get all caught up in the glory of my birth... and the death and resurrection of the Son of God plays second fiddle to that event. WHAT IS THAT? What the heck is wrong with me!? But such a misstep is a mere microcosm of the life I live, where I so often am distracted by something shiny and turn away from the completely beautiful paramount truth of the Cross. Truth so incredible and earth shattering (curtain splitting, even!) should be constantly on the tip of my tongue. The title of this post was actually a text message from a friend this morning - it made me smile and remember that that is EXACTLY true. I am convinced that if I really could fathom the miracle of the Cross, I would never talk about anything else to anyone ever. [exaggerating, maybe. or am I? again, with the driving of points...]

Regardless of what your mess is or what the wilderness looks like, we all want out of it. We all need a God who does not even comprehend darkness - where we are weak, God is made strong. We all need to be brought down a few notches every now and then and let Christ play first fiddle. Beyond the season of Lent, we are called to give to God the things we least want to give. We are to trust in Sunday, and not let Friday and Saturday get us down, because in today we are reminded that, as I said yesterday, that is not the end of the story! We keep reading. God overcomes. God does a new thing. God makes a way out of the wilderness. Sometimes the Bible seems like it's out of date and doesn't apply to our lives. But these things have not changed. Even the darkness is as light to our God. Even in the horrors of Good Friday and a Holy Saturday, God was doing this big, huge, gargantuan thing.

As Pastor Marsh quoted in church this morning, "It's Friday. But Sunday's a comin'!"

Happy happy Easter!! I am thankful to be here with all my family today enjoying each other. Thankful that SUNDAY IS HERE!!!!

April 5, 2009

"I want the things you just can't give me" - on Lent

Giving it up.

These concepts do not thrill me.

Imagine my dismay every year when Lent comes around. Lent, I feel, is an interesting thing. Some people do it, some people don't. Some people think it's a Catholic thing - but in the churches I have grown up in (and continue to grow up in), we have always accepted giving something up for Lent as a fairly standard practice. I've done it. I've been overly legalistic about it. I've screwed it up. I've pretty much been all across the board when it comes to Lent. When I was younger I thought I had to give up things like chocolate, sugar - very obvious things. Now, there's not anything wrong with that, all I mean is that it wasn't so much a prayerful decision about what to sacrifice, but more of a "what will the other girls be giving up?" kind of decision. Welcome to my teen years. I was a real gem.

It is not a secret to many of you that this has not been the most fun year. I struggled with experiencing what appeared to be a time of silence from God - I could not for the life of me figure out what the heck God was trying to do to me. I just recently bought a greeting card that says, "Anything described as a 'learning experience' is probably something that just sucked a whole bunch." We'll call this bit of time one such learning experience. So when I showed up at Ash Wednesday church, I was ready for something, anything, to help me understand what God was doing. I read this in the "Guide to Lent" that I was given on Ash Wed:
"The word [Lent] itself connects us to a season of life. This is a messy season, a season where things get muddy and windblown, where we discover forgotten litter and broken limbs under the snow. Lent is a path we may choose to deal with this mess. Rather than rush to clean it up or ignore it until the neighbors complain, we roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris. Ultimately, it is a journey designed to reveal more of who Jesus is and who we are in response. The ancient church understood that ashes are a prerequisite for Easter, brokenness for healing, death for resurrection. Our ancestors have given us Lent to help us find our way."
Um, wow. Not often in life do I feel like God speaks so clearly to me... but this was just what I needed to hear. I cried like a baby. The girl next to me asked awkwardly, "Um... are you... ok?" I was, finally. Maybe other people felt messy, muddy and windblown, too. Maybe the placement of this difficult time was to make Lent all the more enticing... to remind me that I wasn't going to pull myself up by my bootstraps, but that I needed help sorting through the debris. ‘Brokenness for healing.’ Thank God.

During Lent, we give stuff up for 40 or so days. We call it sacrifice. But God wants us [me] to look deeper. What keeps me from the Lord? What are my deepest sins? What am I holding onto the most tightly? I have this sinking feeling that God wants that stuff. God wants that so that I have nothing keeping me from understanding. I have to clean up the mud and the mess so my vision is not blurred by those things - so that when Easter comes, I get to celebrate and rejoice without the broken mess holding me back. So that when God makes my way out of the wilderness, I can see the path.

The rich young man (see: Luke 18:18-23) asked Jesus what he had to do to go to heaven. He was good. He followed the rules [i.e.: gave something up for Lent every year]. He probably gave up coffee or something. But were delicious, hot, caffeinated beverages what owned his heart and kept him from the Lord? Nope. "Give up all ya dolla dolla billz!" is what Jesus told him. (Yes. Sometimes in my head, Jesus sounds like a rapper.) Money was what the rich man needed to give up (and not just for 40 days, either), because it was the thing he couldn't bear to part with. Even if it meant heaven, eternal life with God, it was too scary to give up what was comfortable. So the man - a good man, mind you - went away, sad. Resigned. It was too much to give.

I wonder what Jesus would say to me if the story was called "the not-so-rich young newly 24 year old named Megan." If I said, "Hey, so Jesus, I do lots of pretty Christian stuff... I mean, I'm in Seminary. I go to church every Sunday... I try not to break the big rules, and I even gave up watching TV online for Lent. So I'm going to heaven, right?" What would Jesus say to me? What is my "money"? "Sure, Megan, you're on the right track. Just one more thing. Give me [insert monumental request here]. Then you're in." I hope that I wouldn't walk away sad. But that's what I need to give up. All the time. Every single stinking day... not just during Lent. Dang it.

So these are my ever-so-deep thoughts on Lent. I feel pretty lucky to be in a school where I do get to learn more about stuff like this, and additionally a part of a church that explains to those of us who don't know what is the significance of such important holidays, because they are so much more than holidays. I have more thoughts, in fact, on Easter - which I may post later... we'll see. But for now, as Lent draws to a close, how cool is it that a tradition so old can be so easily applicable to our current circumstance?

As we come closer to Easter, and circumstances of life do not get any easier, I am thinking about what are the things I need to part with even after Lent is over. I hope that my mess is cleared just enough that I can celebrate and find joy in the resurrection, in the gift of salvation. On holy Saturday, which is a day when hope is thought to be dead, we grieve the death of Christ. But we hold out for Sunday - with hope and anticipation - because, praise God, death isn't the end of the story. In Christ, it never is.

concerts that rock my world

Last night, we went to a concert... the Ten out of Tenn tour starring Andy Davis, Griffin House, Erin McCarley, Katie Herzig, Butterfly Boucher, Tyler James, Trent Dabbs, Matthew Perryman Jones, k.s. Rhoads, and Jeremy Lister. Now, I am familiar with a couple of those people... Katie Herzig was the special music singer at Frontier Ranch when I took kids back in college, so I know her stuff pretty well. But this concert seriously was delightful. 10 different artists switching around, playing together and loving it, and making really good music. I love live music, I really do, and this did not disappoint! I would have bought 10 cd's if that wouldn't have been wildly expensive.
So at the end of the show, they all 10 came out into the audience to sing a song - and they ended up coming RIGHT by where me and my friends were. Beckie was whispering in my ear the entire time that Andy Davis was practically touching me ("touch his butt! smell his hair! stick your number in his pocket!") it was a really cool little moment if I do say so myself, and so naturally, I took a little video. It's a little dark, but look how close they are! Man, I love stuff like that. I suppose I am easy to please, but this concert made me very happy. Giddy like a school girl, as Kelly "Missy Misdemeanor Elliot" Marhaver and I used to say. So here's the video.

Songs I recommend you invest in/investigate: the song every girl was swooning over, by the dreamy Griffin House: "the guy who says goodbye to you is out of his mind," "Let the Woman" by the equally dreamy Andy Davis who performed in a fedora and purple velvet jacket (the fedora count was out of control at this place), White Dash or Gun for a Tongue by the incredibly bada$$ Australian bassist, Butterfly Boucher... I was also impressed by Erin McCarley, but that was mostly because she is approximately 3 feet tall and wore about 12 inch heels the entire concert. Very impressive. Also look into "Pitterpat" by her. And Katie - "forevermore." The others were good too, I'm just pretty sure you're getting tired of me recounting every individual song. No? Oh, and Tyler James, who looks about 15, plays a mean trumpet and can actually pretty adequately rock out on the piano. It was such a good concert.

In other much less exciting news, Aud is back in the hospital (hopefully for a very short visit!) and continued prayers for her are much appreciated. I am looking forward to heading home at the end of the week and still just struggling with wanting to be there, well, all the time. I am currently praying for a very providential job situation to come up to make it possible for me to be there this summer.

ok... off to study... happy palm sunday!!

April 2, 2009

i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

more like... when snow and sleet and hail make April. who else is sick of this weather?

not only is that a line from my favorite poem and blog title inspiration, i am a little church, but it is true. I love April.
I love April because I think April is a very pretty sounding month name... and also (and most importantly) because my birthday is in April! if there is one thing I inherited from my mother (and lets be honest, there's more than one), it is the love of a good birthday. I LOVE my birthday. love it. not ashamed about loving it. and it's not because I like presents or attention (although lets be honest, I do), but I just love birthdays. other people's too. I think it's so fun to celebrate people and get to overwhelm them with attention and unnecessary amounts of singing and embarrassment on their special day. I think they are so happy. birthdays, that is. so there. this year mine is the day before Easter... and I'll be in Wichita with my fam and Beckie Johns! so fun.

lastly on this freezing cold pathetic excuse for an April day, read this: #512: thinking you're naked. I think it rocks worlds.

In other news, I hope someday I have kids who can dance like this kid.

Happy April!