Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Discouragement may be the single most powerful feeling that entices great women and men to exit prematurely from youth ministry." -Doug Fields
The last three weeks have been tiring and challenging. A mixture of scary projects, weighty responsibility, and fear of failure really wore me down.
"Discouragement is a reality in all ministry, not just youth ministry. Where people live, sin exists. Where sin exists, problems abound. Where problems abound, discouragement follows. Count on it! When you say yes to ministry, you also say yes to periods of discouragement. Anyone who doesn't admit to occasional seasons of discouragement owns a timeshare on Fantasy Island." - Doug Fields
I was driving home on Wednesday, full of tears of exhaustion and disappointment that I couldn't contain. It isn't that my life and job are so horrible, but ministry by nature means that you are vulnerable almost all the time. As a camp counselor, I would cry at least once a week. My wishes and hopes, combined with impatience and inconvenient empathy, often overwhelm me. When I was almost home, this song came on.
Give to the wind your fear
Hope and be undismayed
God hears your sighs and counts your tears
God will lift up, God will lift up, lift up your head

-traditional hymn by Paul Gerhardt, translated by John Wesley
This weekend's 5th Quarter with Willet went pretty well. I think there were around 50 people there, and everyone had a good time. They played again at Jacob's Well this morning. Now that the retreat and 5th Quarter are over, I'm feeling as if they went pretty well.
"There is hope, and, because the God of the universe is involved, it's plentiful. Light is out there for you. Don't lose sight of the eternal Light in the midst of temporary darkness. When discouragement hits you, count on God to use that season in your life to increase your ministry effectiveness." - Doug Fields
I'm writing this entry partly for catharsis, and partly because I want to be open about my experience in ministry. Too often, we are afraid to tell people that we are doubtful or discouraged, but those are the times that God helps us to grow.


You can sell our secrets for your benefit.
You can toss our bodies in the ground.
You can ship our children off to battlefields.
You can wipe the blood from both your hands.
You can tell us that it's indisputable,
as you throw away the evidence.
But, we know you're lying
But, we know you're lying
But, we know you're lying through your teeth.
You will bare the brunt of liability.
It will be a stone around your neck,
drowning you in irresponsibility,
underneath the weight of your regret.

-Juliana Theory

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


My weekend (youth retreat) was exhausting. I had a 2pm meeting with my advisor yesterday, then a 3:30 study group, then class from 6:30-8:30. Long day. At the beginning of class, I went to plug in my computer (which had just been plugged in during my study group) and the AC adapter wasn't working. Grrrr......

My mid-term is on Monday and I'm soooo not ready. At least I've spent some time printing out notes and studying today. I also cleaned my room a fair bit, and started putting up some of my pictures. (Today was my day off, so I spent some time cleaning which is therapeutic if I'm in the right mood). Kieron left his posters up... and he hung them with nails and staples. They are posters. So now I have to take out the nails.

On the up side, I ordered new planning pages last night. I'm really excited about them. They are leadership themed, and the appointment tracker for each day goes from 6 am to 11 pm... much better for my schedule than 6am-8pm. Dad called Dell today, and they are sending me a new power cord. They also said that my 2 year (in)complete coverage doesn't cover my battery being completely dead. BUT, it was covered under the recall. Take THAT, Dell guy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Why should I fear?

I have never been gripped by this fear that seems to control American life and politics since 9/11. Part of this because on September 11, 2001, I turned on the tv, and then immediately turned to my Bible. Psalm 11 reminds God's people that we need not fear violence from outside forces. Does this mean we shouldn't defend ourselves? Of course not. But a Christian (and our president used his faith as part of his campaign platform) is called to act first in a spirit of reconciliation. Strike first and reconcile later is not what Jesus taught, and it hasn't helped us in our "War on Terror."

I realized today that another reason the attacks on the Twin Towers didn't change my world is that I don't think I was surprised that they happened. I has just moved away to college. I was alone and pretty scared, but I wasn't suprised. I grew up watching the news. I knew about the previous Gulf War, and about many of the terrorist bombings in the 90's. I also knew that people all over the world are exposed to such terror daily.

I grew up within earshot of Aberdeen proving ground. I have distinct memories of sitting in my third grade classroom and hearing test explosions for the first time. I thought we were at war. Even after someone explained what the noises were, every time I heard the noises, and every time I heard planes fly overhead, I would imagine for a moment what it would be like to be under attack. Maybe I was just weird, or maybe I was blessed with a little bit of prophetic vision.

When we moved to Earleville in 2000, I soon discovered that we were right across the Bay from Aberdeen, and that we were close enough that the explosions rattle our windows and shake the floor several times a day. I work at home a lot now, and every time I experience the effects of testing in Aberdeen, I am reminded that we live in a violent world, and that I hate bombs and oppression and war and retaliation. What good does it do to be afraid? Fear only causes wars, which inevitably (as we have seen throughout history) create new terrorist groups. Hating violence seems like a much more productive emotional response.

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Yoda

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I, I always believed in futures
I hope for better in November
I try the same losing lucky numbers
It could be a cold night for a lifetime
Hey now, you can't keeping saying endlessly
My darling, how long until this affects me?
Say hello to good times
Trade up for the fast ride
We close our eyes while the nickel and dime take the streets completely

-Jimmy Eat World

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Letter from Uganda

I got another letter from my sponsored child in Uganda. Here it is:

Dear my best friend How are you and your family For me I am fine plus all the family members I love you so much and I always pray for you My father is not well so please pray for him bye God bless you

Usually her letters are longer and written down by an adult at the Compassion project. This time she wrote it herself. She is in third grade, so this is no small task. When she wrote me in July, she also said that her father is sick. In Uganda, the prevalence of AIDS has gone down a great deal because of AIDS-prevention campaigns, but about 6.7% of adults were reported to have the HIV virus at the end of last year (avert.og). It seems likely that her father is infected.

I wonder what will happen to her if her father dies.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Growing up?

Its a internet era coming of age story. I grew up writing in journals. In 7th grade we got the internet and I discovered instant messenger. And then in college, the BLOG happened. I got a xanga, and it was pure bliss. I blogged, I had friends, we read and comment on each others' thoughts. Everyone was doing it. And a couple years later, I got a blogger. I couldn't let go of xanga, so I used it for personal stuff, and the other for spiritual reflection. Well, the day has come. None of my friends are on xanga anymore. Its so over. Its so... teenagerish. So, I'm making the switch. I'm integrating my life, my blogs, etc. Its like growing up and leaving childhood behind.

In other recent events....

I went back to my first blog entry on Xanga. A lot has changed. It's kind of weird.

I taught Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 16, 21:1-21) tonight in my girls' group. We were talking about girls and emotions, and how Sarah was impatient with God, and took things into her own hands, then lashed out at Hagar and Abraham. It was cool pointing out how the women in the Bible are subject to the social customs, but are still a big part of the narrative. We also got into questions about fact verse truth, and I was able to tell them that these stories were passed down to teach us about God and about our identity, and are not "journalism."

I'm trying to be more concise. And more interesting...?

Friday, October 13, 2006


I am watching Oprah right now. Say what you want, but I think she's great. Today's show is about the launch of (Product) Red, a brain child of Bono (another celebrity that I love). (Product) Red is a campaign that was formed because it costs so little to do so much to combat AIDS in Africa. In other words, people are going to buy GAP, iPod, Converse, Motorola, etc, so why not give them ways for those purchases to provide drugs for people that need them. Different companies have agreed to provide special (red) lines in which some of the proceeds go to support AIDS treatment.

Obviously this raises some questions about stewardship. Sure, I bought a pair of jeans this month that cost $30. Instead of buying the jeans, I could have fed one child for a month; or I could have provided anti-retrovirals for two people for a month. Maybe it would be better to buy cheaper jeans and up my giving. I don't usually shop at the GAP unless there's a sale going on, but I do believe in supporting companies that stand for something. I wouldn't buy $150 jeans just so $75 would go to Africa, but I would buy the sweet t-shirt for $30. $15 goes to Africa, and I have a shirt that raises awareness. Plus, there are certain things we are going to buy anyway. I will at some point get a new cell phone. People buy these things, so money may as well go to people who need it. The (Product)Red website says that isn't a charity. It is a business model.

Of course, I'd like to snoop around a bit to see if all of these products are made in ways that are fair to the people making them. I'll get back to you on that. I really want one of the GAP t-shirts though.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hebrew Bible: Babel

When I was reading the Babel story for class, I started thinking about the fact that it is hard for people to understand why God sometimes seems to have it out for people. Why couldn't God just let them eat the apple? Why couldn't God just let them build the tower? Why did God send the flood? These are questions kids ask me.

But this time I thought about when I facilitate groups on the challenge course. The point of each element isn't to finish it, but to learn and grow. Likewise, the point of life isn't just to do impressive things, but to learn and grow into what God wants us to be. The people said, "let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad across the face of the earth." The challenge course is all about moving people out of the comfort zone, and cliquishness is one of the biggest comfort zones. We often manipulate the variables of an element based on what the group needs to work on. God does the same thing with our lives. The point wasn't the tower/city/whatever it was they were building. The point was their resistence to being scattered.

Anyone who has seen me in post-camp knows that I can relate to this. On the Challenge Course and with my friends at Camp, we often wish that we could stay together as a group, but we are called to literally scatter across the world. As much as I wish my friends from Australia and South Africa and England could stay here, we are meant to strengthen each other and then go out into the world. Even if we ran the best camp in the world and changed lives for Christ every day, that wouldn't be God's whole purpose for us. God isn't being cruel in separating us, God is trying to point us to God's will for us.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

5 Things

Since there are few things more universally beloved than Top 5 lists on blogs, I'm bringing lists back. They didn't actually go anywhere... but I haven't done one in awhile. Today's list is 5 things that are on my heart right now.

1. Teenagers. What with there being 5 school shootings in the last month, and me spending a crazy amount of time with 14 year olds, teenagers to remain unnamed have been weighing on my heart. It is so hard for kids to figure out who they are and who they want to be, all the while dealing with all sorts of pressure from every angle. I am praying that God will open doors for me to be there for the kids who are around me.

2. Africa. Genocide in Darfur, children forced into militias in Uganda and other countries, AIDS... everywhere, debt and exploitation. I have been trying to raise awareness about Darfur, and it feels like nothing is happening. The UN and some governments are taking steps to end the violence, but it isn't happening fast enough. Meanwhile, there are tons of other things going on to raise awareness about. On a personal note, I am going to Africa in 2 months (!!!) and I'm still looking for money to pay for it.

3. Social Services in Cecil County. There aren't enough services available for the homeless, for the mentally ill, for people struggling to make ends me, for young or underprivileged parents or parents of children with special needs. We haven't even tapped the surface of the need for people advocating against domestic violence, rape, and incest. It is comforting, though, that our churches are banding together to address the need for a rotating homeless shelter in the winter. It is a step in the right direction.

4. My future. Dear Jesus, I'm ok right now, but it would be nice if I could have some idea of how I am going to spend the rest of my life. When I'll get out of seminar? When I might be finding someone to marry? If I'll ever have money? Loooove, Megan.

5. I miss my friends who live far away. It's cool to have friends from other countries, but it stinks when they go home. At least I'll get to see some of the Africans this winter, but hopefully I'll see the others sometime. Come to think of it, I miss my friends who live in Baltimore... Its hard enough getting to see them.

That was harder than I thought, coming up with 5 legitimate things. That's a good sign. It is much easier to think of things that I am grateful for.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

World Communion Sunday

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy universal church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

-from The Apostles' Creed

Today is World Communion Sunday, and while I was sitting in worship at Trinity, I was journaling and thinking about some old wounds that have resurfaced in the past few days. This summer, I told a group of Senior High campers thatsometimes we carry old hurt and anger to protect ourselves. We don't want to forget, as if in letting go we would forget that there are people who are going to hurt us. We don't want to be caught off-guard.

I think this is true, but today we watched the Nooma video "Dust" in Jacob's Well, which talks about doubting ourselves and our ability to live the life Christ calls us to. I think that just as some people don't seek medical treatment because they are afraid they won't get better, sometimes I'm afraid to let go of hurts because I'm afraid that I'm broken beyond repair. Of course everyone is, apart from God.

Communion today reminded me that Christ wants to make me whole in Himself, and in the body of Christ. During Communion, Amy often reminds us that in Communion we are feasting along with the whole communion of Saints. It is nice that World Communion Sunday is in October, when my camp friends are almost done scattering all over the world. It is a comforting reminder that I have brothers and sisters all over the world, and we are connected by God's spirit. This isn't a great comfort when I'm wishing that I had more friends closeby, but it is a nice truth to lean on.