Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I tried - reading Mississippi Bridge [September book and updates]

September!  Hooray!  


This month I started an online book club/study to read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts"


So far, the book is going really well - in fact it is a quick read.  I am doing my best to slow down, really dig deep and get into this book; not just to be a good facilitator for these women, but to find peace for myself.

Fall is my favorite, and as I am sure I have blogged before, although fall is my favorite, it is also a somewhat sad time.  I just feel like I need more time to enjoy it - that it this is my time to find my pace and speed for the next season of life.

One Thousand Gifts couldn't have come at a more perfect time!  Because we are reading the book over a period of 6 weeks, I wanted to keep reading other books, being engaged.

Labor Day my dad gave me a book and said it would take only 20 minutes.  Well, I'm a slow reader, but it was done in less than an hour.



Mississippi Bridge is a short book by Mildred D. Taylor (she wrote Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry).   I was doing research for what age the book would be good for (5th grade) but honestly, I would love for some adults to read this amazing piece of fiction.

It is so incredibly relevant to today.  How, even today, there are people who are teaching their children hatred (and some do it without even knowing they are!).  But for some children, they will "rebel" and fight for what they want to understand better - loving people.

The ending is great!  No spoilers here, just read the book yourself!

Believe me, it reminds me of the story of the Old Man his White Horse - Perspective.

Perspective is everything.
This book hurt me to read, how people are so ignorant and unkind. Perspective.
I am torn between wishing I lived in a previous time period or not.  That I would be an activist, if I didn't get myself killed. Perspective.
The ending. Perspective.

So, Here's to a great month.  A great season. A season of peace and gifts.  A season to love and be present.  A season to be outside, reading, educating and helping others.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I tried - fighting {Who are you fighting for}

A little bit about me - for vulnerability opens hearts of others.

I am loyal to a fault,
and stubborn.
Favor the underdog.
Going against the norm, is my norm.
I ask tough questions,
making people mad and uncomfortable.
Believe in justice on all levels.
I am a white, working mom.
My heart is elastic.
I love quickly, deeply and hard.
When I am hurt, I rationalize the situation to pieces.
Over thinking is my hurdle.
If you hurt others, I hurt for you.
I do not believe in the death penalty.
I do not believe in war or harming others.
I do believe that love will win.
More times than not I feel very alone in this world.
Holding on to Joshua 1:9.
Taking care of others is my passion.
If I am not careful, my words are sharper than arrows.
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 12: 9 - 21 (and many more).
My dad thought I was going to be a lawyer, I am a fighter. 
Now, I am a teacher. 


Earlier this week I got into one of those fun "word wars" on facebook feeds.  With a family member.  A lot of hurtful words were thrown my way, including the twisting of what I said; topics that were not even being debated were brought up - low easy blows - from a person who doesn't know my story.

I finally, said my peace and stopped responding.  Other people have since made comments; the carrot is in front me, waiting for me to nibble.  I have, on occasion, even typed up a response - pausing and deleting it as God asks me to.

My heart is heavy.  I have learned that if something bothers me long enough, that I need to share; regardless of if anyone agrees with me.  With enough prayer and honesty, I know God will be searching my heart one day; as he will do with others.  It's not my job to soul check others.  Gotta keep me in check.

I can't get over something that was said to me.  "You claim you're a Christian and you're standing up for injustice? No that's what I'm doing, defending president Trump, showing that he was never racist until he ran for president, and defending him from liberals and the media who have nothing better to do but insult him with impunity."  -JM

Who are you fighting for? 

Should our president's actions and words need so much defense?  A person of authority, leadership, great power, constant media coverage - constantly needing defense.  I don't need memes or youtube videos to hear the words that come from his mouth or see the "tweets" he post.

Later, this same word war, it was stated in my direction that if liberals weren't so closed minded and would see the truth and just listen for once that we wouldn't miss it.  *heavy sigh*  little do we know about each other.  Bubble living.

Who are you fighting for?

If you are asking someone to look for truth, but then do not welcome their comments, thoughts, insight, personal beliefs.... are you walking the walk or just talking the talk?

I was in tears over this conversation.
Angry tears.
Hurtful tears.
Mourning for their soul tears.

These people that I care about, and yes the strangers on this feed, are missing it.  

Who are you fighting for?

As you fight for the president....
Who's fighting for
the poor?
the oppressed?
the refugee?
the orphan?
the sick?
the homeless? 
the gay?
the widow?
the porn addict?
the prostitute?
the neighbor?
the least of these? 

(Matthew 25:40)

As I look back at these last few days, I have to remember that I am not here to fight for the President who has dug his own pits. The only way I will fight for him is through prayer.  

But I am hear to fight the good fight.  At least that is what I am trying.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

I am overwhelmed {with today's news}

Most of my blog titles contain the words "I tried" or "I am trying"
Today I simply, am.

I am overwhelmed with heart break, confusion, anger, compassion, and love.

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog about being the devil's advocate when it comes to black vs blue lives mattering.  A few months after that, during the election, I posted about loving all people.

Today, many of the same thoughts raise up in me.

Saying I am overwhelmed is the easy part.  I can not seem to find the words I am looking for as current history is taking place.  Today, everything I have been watching (Brene Brown/Vulnerability), reading and listening to, have all pointed to the same feelings within me.  Overwhelmed.

I was thinking it was irony.  God's too big for irony, my day was neatly woven by Him.

I keep typing half sentences, then holding down the delete button with vigor.

over. whelmed.


Pray for - the KKK - those that are racists, the men who claim to be superior.  For their darkness is not welcomed. That their hearts will break and love will fill their lost souls.  That truth and love will shine brighter than their torches.

Pray for - the injured and dead - as these marches and riots take place that lives can be spared and that peace will be restored.

Pray for - the families - of the victims and all that are involved.  That generations of hate will not breed anymore hate.  That generations of love can prevail.  That the armed services will find safety and be able to use knowledge over weapons. 

Pray for - the church - that we can come together and pray for these events, people, his kingdom. Be advocates. I pray that the church does not turn a blind eye. That the church will not stand with such atrocities.  But stand against.  When the dust settles, the history is written, that the church will come together picking up pieces. Hold the hands of those who hurt. Hug the ones who have lost. Pray with and for the ones who have hated. Supply the basic needs in replace of destruction. 

Pray for - Trump - he is our President, whether you like it or not.  We are asked to pray for our leaders. That his words will be humble and helpful.

Pray for - war - that is happening, has happened, and will happen.  Christians are currently at war, a peaceful war.  Lives and souls are at stake.  If our country continues to act the way it does, I am afraid we will be like Syria or any other war-torn country.  

Pray for - history - that it not does not repeat in its fullness.  Honestly, hate has never stopped.  From Biblical times, to WWII, to now... the shape of hate is the same and the darkness still exist.

Pray for - USA - that our country will not continue to fall apart in pieces as immaturity and ignorance tears apart the seams of this country.

Pray for - knowledge - that for people, like me, will be called to do what they need to.  Be it prayer, or to be active in Charlottesville, that all people will be armed with truth.

Be bold. Live loved.




I tried - reading lots of books! [August book review]

With a little extra down time, I was able to finish up July's second book, "Hoot," as well as read Philip K Dick's "The Man in the High Castle." Ambitiously, I plan on reading "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo - but.... with school starting very very soon... we will see how that comes along.


First, a short little write up about Hoot.  My dad gave me this book a long time ago, knowing that it was for young adult readers, or even elementary readers, he thought I would enjoy it to relate to my students.  I found out that the movie is, or was at one point, on Netflix and plan on watching it soon.

The book itself was an easy read.  Had cute relatable characters and a bit of mystery to the entire story (if you are 12).  Was it life changing, no not for a 30 year old.  Was it something I could easily pick up and put down for interruptions, yes.  Recommend this book, yes to the target audience or anyone that wants an easy read.  It was cute.


This book was a bit more difficult for me than Hoot was.   I am not for sure if it's because I tend to be a slow reader or if it was because there was a lot of "difference" to process through. Differences like, German and Japan names that I had to properly pronounce to develop characters.  Differences like, the time frame this took place was a real historical time, but yet futuristic as well.  Differences like, the geography was the same but ruled by other groups.

The differences were good though.  I really liked this book. 

The Man in the High Castle takes place in 1962 with an alternative outcome to the second world war.  Franklin D. Rosevelt was assassinated and therefore the journey for the USA to overcome the depression was never a success; causing Nazis Germany and Japan to win the World War II 15 years later, and take over other countries.

(Having this map might have been helpful, however, I was able to picture this in my head to some accuracy)

The book had several story lines and characters that overlapped one another and was neatly woven together.  The book not only offered an alternative outcome to war, but also within our science, technology, and anything the human race dealt with - the futuristic part - traveling at warped speeds from countries, studying and traveling/living on Mars the book was incredibly well thought out.

Two of the most intriguing parts of the book were:
1) The book did not take place in a Christian world, and because of the outcome of the war Christianity as a religion as well as American culture ceased and was replaced by German or Asian culture.  The historical 'book of changes' - the I Ching - has been China's ancient divination for centuries and it was the center belief for this story. Even though the Bible was only mentioned once, maybe twice, as an old USA artifact, the other cultures had Christian theology.  For example, at the end of the book Mr. Tagomi thinks "When I was a child I thought as a child.  But now I have put away childish things.  Now I must seek in other realms."  Starts off fairly biblical, but changes back to his current beliefs.  It was just interesting to see different religions and cultures mesh together.  It was sad at points, thinking that Nazis could have won the war and our 2017 state of living would be in hate.... but even in current news, we haven't come very far from this. 

2) One of the common trends, for many of the characters, was the book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" by the fictional character Hawthorn Abendsen - Ironically (for I just mentioned that TMITHC doesn't discuss much of the Bible or other Christian theology) is based off of the Bible's Ecclesiastes12:5.  Now, this fiction book in TMITHC,  follows what would have happened if Rosevelt escaped the assassination. A BOOK WITHIN A BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK. COOL.

With a quick google search I found out that in 2015 Chandler Duke did write "The Grasshoper Lies Heavy," a story that takes place in 1966 (4 years after TMITHC was written) about if the United States was actually ruled by four countries.  Whether Duke wrote this after reading High Castle, I am not for sure.  On Amazon, Chandler writes that he did have finally have a professional edit and read his book.  So I am not to for sure who much I want to invest in this book.

The book is good.  I would not have finished it if it wasn't.
The book is complicated - you have to not have distractions while reading it, or you'll miss important details.
The book is interesting.  I would have not read the book in a week.  I could not put this down.
The book is a tv show.... wait, what?  Yes - on Amazon Prime there are not one, but two seasons, of the Man in the High Castle.  

I eagerly can't wait to start watching them!  

If you like history, fiction, war, drama, culture, thought provoking outcomes, differences, than read Dick's, "The Man in the High Castle."


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I tried - to control too much [August.... and September Goals]

As you may know, I am a teacher.  And with that comes certain responsibilities; like I have to enjoy summer.  It's a rule, I'm sure it's in my contract... right?

Well, summer was great! Yet, I am still looking forward to the job I love. As I speak about these events, it is as if it is over.  But... IT'S NOT!  I still have two weeks before I go back to work.  OKay, I have two weeks before students start filling my classroom, slowly becoming my own kiddos.

Here's the deal.  As much I have tried to post regularly about my goals each month, and also revisiting how I did the previous month - well, that's probably not going to happen at the start of the school year.

I can only control so much.  My life can not be constantly filled with schedules and to-do's.

My reflection on July... it was not restful.  Was it enjoyable?  Yes.  But I still did not find my rhythm that I was so looking for.  I didn't find my tribe you could say.  We were able to see a lot of our favorite people, went to several weddings and events, went on a trip as a family.  Had family stay with us for a week - life was jammed back... and NOT with rest.



I eagerly look forward to August for that reason.  Look forward to finding a good pace, a healthy stride for our family to tackle the first semester.

Yes, I have already tried to excel a schedule for my family.
Yes, I have already looked at our budget and what school supplies I want to buy my kiddos (students).
Yes, I am still thinking of goals and challenges to make myself better.

But something will always take priority while something else will slip away.  I don't want that. So here are my not-goals, but my life.


Goals set me up for failure - but, living life, well I can be successful at that. 

August Life:
Health - I am happy to report that I have lost and kept off about 10-15 pounds this summer (HUGE DEAL!) and I am going to keep doing what I am doing.  Sensible eating, focusing on eating clean healthy non-processed foods.   I am going to continue to find ways to challenge myself physically, including doing this as much as I can throughout the week.

(attempting to do longer plank, more push ups and might change lunges to leg lifts)

Book - I did read/finish Messy Grace for the month of July and about 1/2 way through Hoot.  Although I did not read both for July, I am about to go on another trip and should be able to knock out Hoot rather quickly.   For August my book is going to be The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick. It looks rather interesting and hopefully a page-turner.  For those days going back to work.... I am tired when I get home.    While we are talking about books I will add, for those who are curious, that I will be reading and leading an online group through Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. This will take about 6 weeks and will find another book to read for September too! 

Scripture - although I am slacking at memorizing all of these, it's been great to be digging into the Word to find exactly what I am looking for.
Psalm 150:6
Colossians 3:12
Matthew 6:34
Isaiah 56:1
Proverbs 31:30
My wonderful husband also bought me the She Reads Truth Bible!  It weighs more than a new born baby, but that weight is because it's filled with knowledge and beauty.   My goal is to do their studies for Titus, Philmon and Hebrews and for September work on Proverbs.

Fall is my favorite.
I welcome you.
Giving up control.



Monday, July 17, 2017

I tried - being mentorable {open letter to my future mentor}

Dear Future Mentor,

Thank you.  I have needed you for some time.  I needed you without even knowing it was you, or the idea of a mentor.  I needed  you more than I realized.

See, I feel as if I am in a weird spot in the church.  I don't feel like I belong.  I did not grow up in the church that we are going to, so my roots are more shallow than others. I did not attend the Christian college, as my husband and friends did, feeling as I orbit their social circle. I have a "worldly" job... I mean ministry... ahh, whatever teaching is these days, which does not allow a lot of time to do do "mom" things or minister to others.  It's weird for I have a loving mom and great friends, but I am missing...

missing you.

I need guidance spiritually.
I need wisdom that challenges me.
I need patience, strength, calm, investment.
I need cared for.

I need you.

As I currently write you, my family is going through a season of transition. A time of reflection and re-centering our lives back to God's plan.  A time of waiting to see what is in store.  Prior to this season I had directly asked several (4) women to be my mentors, and asked handful of other women to just hang out - but it always falls through.  Some of these women graciously turned me down with positive answers.  Some didn't really have the time, respectively.

But I truly, prayerfully plead for someone to reach my hand and say "it is I that will get coffee with you! Listen. Talk. Pray. Check-in. Invest."   Okay, you don't have to talk like that.  I promise.

Mentoring is an odd topic to talk about in the church.  Sometimes it happens organically, very natural.  Other times it is forced.  I pray that whomever gets paired with me, it is a relationship that happens naturally, God driven.

See, I am a mess.  To my peers, it might appear that I am put together.  Got all the answers.  Life is grand.  But, I am human.  Just as my blog title states, I am trying.  Honestly, I don't know what I am doing from day to day.  Grasping at straws.

I know once this season of transition changes, there might be more time and opportunity for investment.

A  few weeks ago I was talking to an older lady about my parents helping take care of my children as we were at a conference she said "at least you have your parents, we always lived so far from family."    I just wanted to respond with, "but you had the church.  You had people come to you and watch your kiddos to give you a break.  Bring you a meal.  Pray with you.  Call you to see how you were. Being a mother is hard.  Working in a church is hard."   But I just acknowledged the truth that I am thankful that we are currently close living to my family.

A year ago I had a friend talk about how she doesn't have many deep relationships or mentors and how she wishes her mom lived closer.  Yet, in the same conversation I could count on two hands the older women in her life.  ASKING to babysit her new baby.  ASKING to clean her house or offer help.  ASKING  her over for coffee and conversation.  Yet it appeared that she is oblivious to all the good she had.
J
Future mentor, or can I call you friend.  I am a bit bitter.  I don't want to be.  I ask God to help soften my heart.  To give me courage to ask the right women to be apart of my life. But as a horse chases a carrot on the stick, I am always just a tad short.

So future mentor, future church.  Thank you.

Thank you for loving me, the messy me.  The real me.  The speaks before she thinks me.
Thank you for loving my family.  Challenging us to be humble kingdom workers.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to acknowledge that I exist.

That's all that is takes.
Letting people know that they are important.

I do my best to be intentional with my friends.  But having someone who has gone before me, to hold my hand through prayer, tears, excitement and opportunities is who I am looking for. (holding my hand can be figuratively - don't want to make anyone, myself included, uncomfortable).

If you are an older woman, regardless of age, who are you investing in?  The generation younger than  you?  The new mom?  A student? A babysitter?

Dear future mentor.
I needed you.
I wait for you.
I appreciate you.
I appreciate God's timing of you.

With love,
Megan


Freebie Find: 100 Questions and mentor conversation topics - to make this mentoring thing easier on all of us.  =] 

I tried - reading Messy Grace [July's Book Review]

A while back I, like more years than I can remember, I started and almost finished reading Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach but for some reason I stopped reading it, in fact I let other people borrow it!

At the end of June I had the honor hearing Caleb speak and I decided that I must finish his book for July; it wasn't a difficult task.


"Can someone be gay and go to heaven?  I think if we're going to ask that question, then we have to ask if someone can be an alcoholic and go to heaven?  Can someone be addicted to drugs and go to heaven? Can someone be a gossip and go to heaven? Can someone be a worrier and go to heaven? Can someone be jealous of others and go to heaven? Can someone be an arrogant know-it-all Christian and go to heaven?"

Spoiler alert - that was the fourth to the last page in his book.  But it gets my point across.

Messy Grace is Caleb's story and journey of growing up with gay parents, learning to hate Christians, then later becoming a Christian and serving pastor.

I love this book.  The first time I started to read it, and the second time.  It's full of thought provoking ideas, truth woven statements, and pieces of little "ah-ha!" nuggets.  The title says it all.  Grace is messy.  The church is messy.  Being a Christian is messy.  So how come we do such a horrible job at loving our gay neighbor, our gay child, our gay parent or co-worker?  Are they not human too?

Although he was more focused on loving the gay community, I couldn't help but also apply everything he wrote to other communities that Christians sometimes struggle with loving.   The quote above could also include, in my opinion, can someone be a liberal and go to heaven? Can someone be republican and go to heaven? Can someone have tattoos and go to heaven? Can someone born in a Muslim family go to heaven? Can someone who is black go to heaven? Can someone who is a cop go to heaven? Can someone who is a soldier go to heaven? Can someone who works for an abortion clinic go to heaven?


Can someone who disagrees with me go to heaven?

The very same page he writes, "Most Christians I know wouldn't have an issue with saying that any one of those people could go to heaven (talking about gossip, etc), but for some reason, when it comes to homosexuality, some think that is too tall of an order for God.  I think it's because their view of God is too small.  He's calling everyone into this kingdom all the time, as hard as that may be for us to believe."

This summer I also participated, well... attempted to participate in, a Beth Moore study called "Entrusted."   On page 106 of her workbook she writes, "Have you ever wondered how we Christians get away with some of the things we do? We rename the sin something noble.  We call gossip informing, judgement discernment, misogyny authority, anger righteous indignation, lust appreciation, arrogance confidence, profanity passion, and hate debate, and voila, misconduct gets reframed as Christian duty."

By renaming our sin, we simultaneously are trying to let others know that their sin is worse than ours.  But, sin is sin. And love is love.  

(My favorite is Romans 9:12-21)

I urge everyone to read this book, and truly seek their own hearts, get to know someone from the gay community, truly know them, don't fear them... they are people too!  My biggest fear or worry (and I know I shouldn't have any, for God is bigger than even my own small fears) is that the people who truly NEED to read this book, won't give it a second glance.  That more often than not, the ones reading Messy Grace are already trying to love their gay Christian and non-Christian friends.  But this is just me making an assumption, which is not healthy either.

So, I challenge you, regardless of where you stand on your beliefs of homosexuality in the church, to read this book.  Not just read it, but come to it with an open mind and ask God for it to touch your heart.  That your heart can reflect God's heart, one full of love and grace (even if it is messy).
~*~
To my LBTQ co-worker, friends, family, I am sorry if you have been hurt by the church.  The church is not a place of perfection, but a place of brokenness.  Our identities should be mirrors reflecting Christ, not our own thoughts and ambitions.  If you (homosexual or heterosexual) have been hurt by the church and need to talk, I will listen.  You are loved.