No.

As I seek to process this last semester, it has been such a whirlwind of events. A relentless sequence of 12-15 hour days each day of the week with weekends spent catching up and then it all began again. I barely breathed, rested, processed, or thought. I just went kept on going and stuck to the calendar and did the next thing. On and on I went and went.

Yet, I had no complaints in what I was doing. I thoroughly loved every single thing that I was doing and I felt God was blessing me so richly in having the opportunities to go to school, intern, serve in Epic, take part in other orgs, etc. There is no way I can complain about any of those things, all of which are incredible blessings that my heart grew in thankfulness for. What privilege and blessing that I did not deserve to take part in.

Being on the other side of all of this though, I see that all of this goodness was all too much. I never stopped. I just kept on going, slowly finding satisfaction and victory in how busy I was and in how much I was doing. Nobody else’s lives seemed to be quite as busy or full as mine, and my eyes were clouded and heart were so consumed in myself that I could not see the struggles that my friends around me were facing. I ignored them, neglected them…and “being so busy” seemed to be good enough of an excuse to keep on going with my own life, half-heartedly pausing to hear about others lives…but never really stopping at all.

My heart took a hit, too. I love to process the things the Lord does in my life. I love thinking about my feelings and pondering all that I’m learning. I love to journal and reflect, I love sitting and soaking in all that I’m experiencing and dreaming for what God could do next. I love laying on the ground in my room just waiting on the Lord to speak to me and to fill my heart up, each day. Sitting, being still, breathing, waiting, being silent – these things fill me up. These things also take time. Time that couldn’t really be set apart on my google calendar and “time that I didn’t have.” Yet, I so desperately need this time for my heart to be full. For my eyes to see beyond what life seems to be. For perspective to be eternal. I need that time – my heart and soul and depths of my being so desperately need that time.

I’m reminded of my friend Martha whenever Jesus comes to her house and the way her sister Mary sat at His feet while she kept on going and going to get everything ready. There’s probably way more to the story than we really know…but I know that Jesus is sending me the same message that He was giving to Martha. Meagan, you are worried and anxious about many things, but I want you to choose what is better…I want you to choose me because what I have to give to you can never be taken from you. 

My answer, too often, is yes. Yes, I will stay longer…Yes, I can do that…Yes, I will be here…Yes, I’ll volunteer…you want me to go above and beyond? Yes, I’m all for that! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! I will suck it up and do it and I will even smile while I do it too. My heart may have started out cheerfully serving, but as time goes on and the yes’s pile upon each other…my heart’s cheerfulness fades away as I drain all of my energies and never take the time to be filled up by the only One who can fill me up. I wish it wasn’t this way, but as long as I am human I know that there are limits on what I can do and can’t do. My yes does not make up for all of the other no’s that other people have said…and when I try to counteract other’s “no’s” by saying yes…it does not fix anything.

I’ve reached a point in my life I have had practice saying no. I used to say yes to everything. Now, I just say yes to the things that I actually want to do. But, what happens when there are tons of  things that my heart longs to do? What happens when I’ve filled my life with things that I love, yet it is all too much? What happens when all of the things that I’m doing truly are blessings that I don’t deserve to begin with? How do I walk away from any of it at all?

It is so much harder than I’d ever imagined. Nobody is telling me to walk away. Nobody is telling me that I have to stop doing so much.

But, my heart knows so deeply that the Lord is calling me to walk away. The Lord longs for my heart to be back with Him. I know that I need time to just sit. To rest. To breathe. To process. And to soak in all that the Lord is speaking to me. Life cannot go on without that and I have to fight for that time. Even if it means that I have to give up something that is so dear and precious to my heart.

On the outside, everything about this seems so hard and so difficult and so wrong. Yet, at the core of my being, I know that the Lord is calling my heart back to His and it starts with making time to rest and to breathe. I can’t expect everyone to understand me and understand why I have to make this decision. Yet, what matters most is my relationship with the Lord – and that is where my priority is. Not with any group of kids or people or things. My priority is in the Lord. So, maybe it’s not that I need to say “no” to what this world offers, but maybe I need to say “yes” to the Lord – no matter what that looks like or seems to be for other people.

Advertisements

Joy.

Let’s be honest, I have a lot of feelings. I do, I do.

But, there has been something special about this semester that I hadn’t quite put together. As I left the school I’m student teaching at yesterday afternoon, I was seriously so confused. I would describe my time spent at school 90% amazing, 5% stressful, and 5% awkward. It’s overwhelmingly amazing, but I must admit that there are some things about being a student teacher that are straight up awkward no matter how amazing my mentor teacher is or how much I love the kids. One of the things includes following teachers around and just standing there because they have jobs and friends and stuff to do and I have a job of learning from them. So, even though I don’t need to follow them around, I still want to and I still do. 

Anyway, I digress. The point is that there are just so many social situations that are funny to me because of the awkwardness that I feel. There are so many points in the day that kids say stuff and I’m just like, “….what is going on right now?” because they are either so stinking funny or ridiculous. It’s fun, it really is.

It’s hard too, though. A lot of things are hard. The schedule is hard. It’s hard to consistently feel like I’m falling short of the ideal teacher that I want to be while still knowing that I am becoming a teacher and learning how to be a teacher. It’s hard when kids don’t listen to me and it’s not their fault, it’s mine. It’s hard when I fall out of chairs in front of the whole class. It’s hard when I feel like a stupid intern because I don’t know how to get the printer to work or when I can’t open doors. It’s hard when kids just have hard lives and I want to give and give and give, but what I have to give is not enough. It’s hard at 5:30 am when my first alarm goes off and it’s hard at 3:30pm when I know that there’s still like 7 more hours left in my fully scheduled day. Teaching is hard and I’m not even the teacher yet!

There’s a lot of feelings involved in all of those hard things and in all of those amazing things. 

But, these feelings come and go, they’re here and there, they rise and they fall. I can’t rely on the feelings that accompany the experiences and the ins and outs of my day. Of my week. Of my life. I can’t. 

So, I’ve been trying this new thing where I don’t rely on my feelings to determine if there is joy in my heart. I remember at camp this summer my prayer was that I would take joy in the things I got to do. And, I think that is something that I continue to carry with me. When I wake up in the morning, there are a host of feelings that I have. They are there, I know they are. But, that doesn’t determine my joy and those feelings don’t determine whether or not I will find joy in what the day holds. I don’t try to stop the feelings of happiness or sadness, stress or calmness, anger or frustration. Those feelings exist. But, they don’t control me. They don’t own me. 

Sometimes it can seem like they have to, but they don’t have to. 

Is that what joy is? 

senior year?

college. packing up. moving back.

As I see the incoming college freshmen from my church begin their college adventures, it’s just so crazy to think that I was right there with them 3 years ago.  College has been full of struggle, temptation, difficulties, frustrations, social exhaustion, loneliness, fear, etc. I can remember many times where I’d be so over everything that was going in my life – my friendships, relationships, small groups, ministry stuff, school, reading, studying, people, busyness, everything. It’s been hard and annoying and difficult to transition back and forth from.

So, it’s really weird as I sit here and realize that I’m going back tomorrow and it’s really just no big deal. I don’t know, maybe I’ll have some emotional reaction about it tomorrow as I drive off. But, really, it hasn’t felt like a huge deal. 

The Lord has done a huge work in me this summer and I think I am still seeing the fruits of His presence and faithfulness as I continue to live life and enter back into old contexts/environments where old habits/attitudes would probably still live. Before I left for camp there was much fear about this upcoming year. I was terrified about working with teachers, with students, with people. I was scared of the workload. I was scared of not having enough time. I remember before camp this summer I’d be swimming laps back and forth, back and forth singing these words in my head coaxing my heart to calm down and be still:

You’ve called me out into the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand.  

Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds, you’ve never failed and you won’t start now. 

And I will call up on Your name. And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine. 

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.

Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith would be stronger in the presence of my Savior. 

The thing is, God continues to call me and challenge me and stretch me and point me to things that scare me. He places opportunities before me that freak me out. He gives me areas to serve in where I just don’t feel like I’m good enough. He puts me in situations where I know what the right thing to do is, I’m scared of it, but I am so emotionally tied to whatever it is that I can’t help but step out in faith and do it anyway. Yet, I am beginning to find myself willingly and more quickly realizing what is happening and jumping into whatever it is that scares me. It’s definitely a growing process, but I look back and see areas where it took me a year to make a decision, or months, or hundreds of conversations with other people, etc. Not that I am beyond that by any means, but I really do see how God taking out my heart of fear and giving me a new heart of trust. 

All of these struggles are tied together – fear, control, perfectionism, image. The fact that I struggle with these things shows me that I just really need to trust the Lord to BE the Lord of my life. 

Needless to say, I think that this start of a new year and the absence of anxiety/worry/fear in these moments before leaving is evidence that the Spirit has been at work in my life. Things that used to scare me just don’t seem as big to me anymore. And it’s just really cool because I didn’t even work hard or try hard or implement a particular strategy or habit to make it happen. And maybe time has a way of doing its’ thing. But, still. There are most definitely unknowns and uncertainties and new things on the horizon and God has just grown a peace that surpasses understanding. There is so much freedom in learning that I don’t HAVE to be scared of everything, that my first reaction doesn’t need to be fear, and that the Lord IS faithful to provide every single thing that I need. 

Moved On.

My heart is so incredibly full after watching our staff flashback video and reliving the moments where the Lord totally revolutionized how I live my life.

If you were to have asked me 3 months ago if I wanted to add on another thing to my already busy schedule for this next year, I would’ve looked at you like you were ridiculous. I’ve realized how my first thought whenever I decide or think about doing something is, “I’m scared that…” I am an expert excuse maker. If there is any reason to be scared of anything – no matter what it is – I’ll find it.  This is vague on purpose, but as I look forward into this next school year, I find myself thinking less and less of, “I’m scared that…” That sentence can be filled in in infinite ways for anything that I am doing, anywhere I’m going, anybody I’m talking to, anybody I have to work with, etc.

In the spirit of moving on, I want to take what I’ve learned this summer of not being a slave to fear and smack all of the “scary” things of this next year in the face with it.  Just as the Lord demolished the weight of fear on my heart through camp this summer, I want to see Him be faithful to finish a good work that He has already begun.

I am experiencing firsthand how I can miss, love, and cherish the memories of this summer while still moving on, being present in the ministry God is providing right here right now, and seeking to take what I’ve learned straight into real life. Oh how my heart overflows with excitement and joy that the same Gospel that was proclaimed at camp can be proclaimed in my life now.

confusion and moving on.

The past few days have been so confusing for my head and heart and actions and life. I just don’t really know what to do with myself and it’s quite difficult. I know that the God who walked me through the most strenuous and frustrating moments of this summer is the same right here and right now. I know that the God who literally carried me through my moments of fear and trembling and utter unpreparedness is the same God who will carry me now. 

There is this emptiness inside of me that is confusing because I also am full of joy as I reflect on the moments of sweet victory, redemption, deliverance, and faithfulness that have ruled my heart, mind, and soul for the past 2 months.  I want to stay in those moments because of who God showed Himself to be in my life, but I also know that I need to move on and not find fulfillment in the fact that those moments happened. So, the confusion lies in a desire to soak up all of the truth and love God has poured into my life but at the same time feeling like I need to extract all of that from the experiences and friendships and memories of the summer. I don’t want to keep living in the memories of the summer, but I do want to keep living in the truth and love that God has shown Himself to be through these memories. 

I am trying to understand how I can transfer the lessons of CK4 to real life, and here are some things I’ve thought about: 

  1. Serving others means doing one more thing. 
    I think I’ve caught a glimpse of this in serving as a youth intern and serving with Epic Movement. But, in huge and monumental ways, I have seen the ways that God honors the small ways that we serve. Filling up water balloons, laying out dome cones with even spacing, dragging tarps around, cleaning paintbrushes, filling up buckets for kids to wash their hands in, etc etc etc. These things could be annoying, but this summer God filled me with this unexplainable joy to take part in the small things trusting that He uses them. Being a teacher requires things like this and my service is not to the admin, or to my CT or to my students – my service is to the Lord. And that’s how I can find joy in serving and serving and serving.
  2. Every minute counts.
    My tendency since forever and always is to constantly be looking forward to what is next. My director this summer would always tell us this: “Every minute is a minute you could be investing in the life of a kid.” Yikes! No pressure there. But really, I think that adopting that mindset really freed me up to enjoy the minutes that I got to invest in the lives of kids, that I was able to teach kids about the tabernacle, that I was able to relate making art to the Gospel, etc etc etc. It was seriously such a joy to take part in EVERY aspect of camp this summer. Even the annoying parts and even the tasks that seemed menial. 

    The Lord set out to teach me about embracing the moments He gives me and I am so glad that He did because that made the victories and blessings so much richer and deeper to experience. Every minute counts and I don’t want to wish them away anymore. I want to live in the moments the Lord has blessed me with and BE right where He wants me to be AT the time He wants me to be there. (I guess that’s also a lesson for right this moment, too.)

  3. Keep on loving kids.
    Throughout this summer, I talked to a handful of teachers who came as adult leaders with their churches. Coming into this summer, I wanted to reconcile the divide between ministry and the public school system. I don’t know how I thought that might happen? But I was quite positive being in the opposite environment (church ministry) of what I want to end up in (public school system), God would surely show me how to make the 2 into 1. WHAT. Idk. 

    But, as I probed and prodded all of these teachers that I came into contact with this summer, the resounding answer was, “You’ve just got to love those kids.” Well, I already knew that was the idea. But, I think that maybe this summer I got a deeper glimpse into what it means to love kids. God gave me opportunity upon opportunity to show love to kids, to enter into their hurt and pain, and to offer a love and a hope that does not disappoint.  One lady shared this with me, “You have one year to build up a relationship with the families of students that will give you an opening to share about your faith.” I have one year to invest in the lives of kids, but maybe even more importantly in the lives of families as to build an avenue to share the REASON why I love their kids so deeply and unconditionally. But, keeping the main thing the main thing: I need to keep loving and loving and loving these kids. They need to experience this Love that will never disappoint. And maybe I will be the only one in their life who will give them that. 

So, I guess those are some things that I can continue to carry with me as I walk forward into this year of student teaching. Perfect love casts out fear and I know that the Lord is going before me even though this new experience seems scary. And as God would have it, after processing these things and writing these words, my heart continues to overflow with appreciation and awe of the ways the Lord has been so faithful to provide me the experiences, love, and truth of this summer. Because even in my doubts, all of these things DO have a place in the ministry I will have in this 3rd grade classroom this fall. And all of these things I can carry with joy and peace, knowing that I can move on from the memories of this summer without leaving behind the rich blessings and lessons the Lord has given me. 

raw thoughts.

Wrote these things yesterday as I saw the end of camp come to reality:

I’m sitting in the Greenville airport after being prayed for, seen off, and dropped off by some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The past few days have been such an emotional roller coaster for me as my heart has overflowed with joy by the work God has done in the lives of kids, adults, and our team; yet, my heart sinks in knowing that the ministry of the summer has come to a close and it is time to move on from this place, these people, and these children.

As I sit on this airplane, there are literally no words to describe what I am feeling in these moments:

I am in awe of the way that the Lord has proved Himself to be faithful time and time again. I am in awe of the energy that God has poured into each of us each day of this summer, because I know I was NOT getting my energy from sleep or from coffee.

I am amazed by the power of the Holy Spirit to stir in the hearts of kids. I am amazed by the sovereignty that the Lord has over His Church and the ways that so many churches are chasing after Him and letting the little children come to Him.

I am overwhelmed by the thought that 24 strangers could become my family in just a matter of weeks. I am overwhelmed knowing that God has redeemed me of so many fears and hesitations, specifically in regards to depending on people, working with others, and loving them well.  I am overwhelmed by how much God has used each of these people to pour His love into my heart, to spur me on to good work, to sharpen me, and to edify me. (I’ve never used the word edify before…)

Walking away from these people has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve done all summer. I’ve never developed such a deep attachment and affection to people because my heart has always been hardened and prideful to do so. But, God placed me on this team for His specific purposes and there was really never a question of if I would depend on them, trust them, or love them – it just was. I think the reason that these people are such a big deal to me is because I know that the ministry that we had together this summer would not even have compared to what it was if we had not done it all together.  The reason the Lord calls us to be in community is because it is through community that we are able to serve Him. It is through this rich and deep family connection that we are spurred on to keep on going, to persevere, and to press into the Lord’s strength together. As we all sought the Lord’s strength, we were individually strengthened but we were also strengthened as a team.

This will sound REAL weird, but with honesty I’ll say that up until I stepped foot on the plane I was just not ready to go home. And if you know me at all, you know that that NEVER happens. Ever. I always am ready to go home, I’m always ready to move onto this next thing, I’m always looking forward to what is next. But with camp this summer, it hasn’t been like that. On the last night of camp, I was praying that the Lord would slow down the minutes because I didn’t want it to be over. In tears I was worshipping God praising Him for His sovereignty, but begging Him to let this last forever.

I know that this season of ministry has come to an end for now. But, the work that the Lord has done in my heart, in the hearts of children & adults all summer long, and in the hearts of my team is not done. We are not finished yet and our purpose here on earth is NOT to get this amazing camp experience. Or to make amazing friends. Or to be apart of a wonderful community. That’s not what it’s about.

My heart has fallen in love with the work God does in the lives of children through Centrikid camps and my heart has fallen in love the people that I have served alongside and lived life with these past few months. This is great. BUT (and that’s a big but….) – what all of this is really about is how I have fallen more deeply in love with the Lord as He has shown Himself in the most powerful of ways that the same power who conquers the grave lives in me.

So, with a heavy heart and a joy that overflows, I’m excited to see all that the Lord will continue to teach me as I process through all of the things He has done this summer, enter into real-world life and real-world ministry again, and prepare my heart to finish out this season of college life/ministry with strength and grace.

a collection of sweet moments.

At the end of worship each night, there is a time of response for kids to come to walk the aisle and  talk to a staffer to ask questions or share a decision that has been made, etc. Coming from an Asian-American standpoint, these types of things have always been awkward and uncomfortable and ineffective. Now granted, this is camp and that also changes everything – but, my point is that I just have never understood these altar call things and have never really enjoyed them.

Yet, these response times have become my favorite part of each day. This is a time when the Holy Spirit is obviously and clearly moving in the hearts of kids to stir them enough to get up, walk towards a person on staff that they’ve literally just met, and share about the questions and decisions that are stirring in their hearts. 

As these girls come up to me each night, my excitement level rises as I anticipate witnessing and hearing about the things that the Lord has already done in their hearts and lives. One of my favorites conversations went like this:

M: So, do you have any questions?
K: (shakes her head)
M: What did you want to talk about?
K: (shrugs her shoulders)
M: Why did you walk down the aisle?
K: I want to follow Jesus.
M: That’s awesome! What does that mean to you?
K: A lot…
M: Have you ever made a decision like this before?
K: No.
(conversation carries on)
M: So, do you want to pray and talk to Jesus about what you’ve decided?
K: (nods her head and in the sweetest, smallest voice begins to pray.)  Dear God, Thank you for today. Thank you for everything you’ve made. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. Amen.

Oh my goodness, melt. my. heart. This little girl just finished third grade and she was in my bible study group. She is one of those good girls who kind of blends in the background because she is so quiet. I had literally done nothing to spur her on to making a decision to follow Jesus. Yet, in the most sincere voice with tears in her eyes, she said those few words to me and prayed that simple prayer to the Jesus that already lived in her heart. You guys – this is why I came here. The Gospel is being received so readily by these kids because the harvest is ready. It is so ready that we barely have to do anything or say anything for these things to be happening. What gets me the most is how simple, but how REAL this life changing encounter with Christ was to her. I’ve always known the Gospel to be a simple message of good news that requires a childlike faith to enter into. But, I’ve never really witnessed these decisions being made, nor the simplicity and reality existing together.

After hearing enough about how to be “sure” if a kid has accepted Christ or not, or how to know if they are “ready” to receive Christ – thoughts and doubts slowly crept in as I questioned if it really is that simple to enter into the Kingdom. But obviously, God has showed me that it is indeed that simple when we know the ONE way to enter in. That is through Jesus. And it is through Jesus that the Gospel is good. And it is through Jesus that lives are saved and sealed into THE family. It’s not through us “leading” children to Christ or walking them through a Gospel track. It’s not through us performing perfect bible studies, acing transitions, going crazy during morning celebrations, etc. It’s not through us. It’s through Jesus that kids are able to see the good news and respond in the only way that makes sense.

What burden is lifted when I step away from making this about me and immerse myself into who Jesus is and the story He has written for us.