MOVING DAY

Dear Readers,

We’re moving to a new and improved site! Visit http://www.meaawakening.com to read more thoughts about life lived in honesty. Join the conversation by subscribing to the new site (subscription details at the bottom of the page) and sending us a message!

AWAKENING

See you there!

-M

A Crack in the Mirror

“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Yesterday, I found a book in my car, on the passenger seat floorboards. I have no idea where it came from. I had to slam on my brakes on the highway to avoid a collision, and when I looked down, there it was. Picking it up when I got home, I turned it over and over in my hands, studying the title and the cover illustrations. The book is small with curly cursive letters on the front and a soft pink background. In the middle is a woman’s face, dainty with a blank expression like she’s not sure what to think. I looked for any clues to its owner and found nothing except for some scribblings in the margins, none of which tell me anything about the reader. I still don’t know where it came from, but I know I want to read it.

The book is called A Lost Lady by Willa Cather, and it appears to be about the loss of illusion in love, like so many stories are. Regardless of what the text is actually about, I want it to be about (need it to be about) me. I need it to be about how someone like me, someone lost and forlorn, found her way. A lost lady learning to swim in a sea of confusion. I need that book to have a happy ending.

Because I’m a selfish human, like most are, I find myself struggling to locate myself within literature. Or any type of media, really. In songs, I look for my love story, my heartbreak. In TV shows, I look for my character, the one I can relate to best. On Facebook, I look for comparisons to my own life that make me feel better (usually worse) about myself. This is me being honest.

In a world with so many hidden mirrors, we have to fight to be allowed to discover ourselves without the influence of society. However, I challenge all of us (myself included) on this Ash Wednesday to look at ourselves in a new way, not in the way the world strongly encourages us to. Yes, look at your sin and examine your flaws. I know mine are abundant. Yes, look at your worries and examine your fears. Grieve your habitual errors and name your strongest enemies of the mind. Don’t be afraid to better understand your mistakes. Sin will always be there. And there’s a whole lot of holy in working on that sin to make it less. But look again to realize your beauty. Realize the unique life’s blood that makes you who you are. In the face of that sin blaring like a headlight on the highway, shine a light of forgiveness for yourself and for others. Ash Wednesday, to me, is just as much about realizing the truth of redemption in its wholeness as it is about understanding the complexities of our sin. The Church repents, remembering that we are nothing, dust to dust. And yet, I hope we remember the hope in our power to carry on.

More honesty: believing has been really hard lately. Remembering to be thankful has been hard. Prayer has been especially hard. Every time I’ve thought about talking to a God I’m so unsure about, the thought cripples me. So, I’ve found a new way to pray, one that will have to do for the time being. Since I don’t feel able or wiling or worthy enough to talk to God, whoever He or She is, I have tried something else. Sometimes I kneel next to my bed and whisper names, words, and places on my mind. I send over love with my mind, show somebody in the stars that I care. I think about all the beauty in that person, that place, and I rejoice over it. I think about all the hurt and suffering in that person, that place, and I lament it. And maybe that’s not what prayer is supposed to be, but maybe it’s a step closer than where I was when I couldn’t get on my knees.

One of my housemates, Emily, is writing a new blog during this 40-day season of Lent. Every day she will be publishing either her own words or a guest blogger’s on a topic related to the redemption of the Church. I would encourage you to read her writing, not only because she’s a phenomenal writer and an even better friend, but also because the topics will help us all better think about what we need to work on more specifically. Sometimes we see Lent, especially Ash Wednesday as a time to slap ourselves on the hand and tell ourselves how bad we are. But it’s more than that – it’s a time to understand our mistakes and work on fixing them. Join me in reading Emily’s blog for some words of wisdom that delve into how we can do that together. https://www.emmbrick.com

And if you find any information on the mystery book I found in my car, let me know.

Together

I’m reading this book right now called The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The book is basically conversations the two men had over a week together, moderated and recorded by Douglas Abrams. In each chapter, they talk about a different obstacle to joy and what we can do to pursue joy in spite of the obstacle.

I’m only halfway done with the book, and I don’t agree with everything the men stand for, but my favorite chapter so far, or the one most meaningful to me, has been Despair: The World Is In Such Turmoil. In this section, the two religious leaders discuss suffering in a world so filled with hurt and confusion. One part really got to me. Tutu said, “You show your humanity… by how you see yourself not as apart from others but from your connection to others…” He confessed that he sometimes gets very angry with God, mentioning the Ebola epidemic and other more specific world problems. “What can you do to help change these situations? You might not be able to do a great deal, but start where you are and do what you can where you are. And yes, be appalled. It would be awful if we looked on all of that horrendousness and we said, Ah, it doesn’t really matter. It’s so wonderful that we can be distressed. That’s part of the greatness of who we are – that you are distressed about someone who is not family in any conventional way.”

This struck me, especially in light of the fear and pain being inflicted on so many people around the world this week. We are afraid. We are distressed. And that is beautiful, even while the reason for the distress is so horrific. We face the fear together, as an unconventional family.

We are so much stronger together than we are apart.

I wish I had words to say to help heal the hurts of those who are suffering and will continue to suffer under the new executive order banning them or their family members from entering this country. I wish I could articulate my fear and the fears of all of us as we look forward at what life could be like from now on. I wish I could paint a picture of how truly courageous and crucial refugees are to our country, how important they are to me personally. All we can really do is keep showing up and making our voices heard.

Yesterday I stood at a protest in the Indianapolis Airport with people from all over the world, a variety of faith backgrounds, of all ages. The speakers shared their passionate speeches with the crowd, and we chanted for peace and open arms for refugees. One speaker stood out to me more than the rest, though. Toward the end of the rally, a little girl walked to the microphone and shared a story of how people stood up to a bully at her school and said that we need to treat others with kindness and open hearts. That is where we begin.

This isn’t about political parties, it’s not about winning or losing. This is about finding the deepest roots of our humanity and doing what is right. The smiles and the laughter, the frustrations and the struggles of the refugees I worked with over the summer, the stories we share now: those will forever be a part of me. To imagine a country built by immigrants becoming a country rejecting newcomers breaks my heart. Regardless of where you stand politically, please be aware of where you stand as a human.

We are so much stronger together than we are apart.

#refugeeswelcome

 

Contact your local representative to make your voice heard.

Joy of Song

I wrote a guest post on a good friend’s blog this week, and I thought I’d post it here in case anyone wanted to check it out. You should also read some of his other stuff written throughout the advent season – he’s pretty talented. Stay safe this weekend!

http://bencaminosoul.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-twelve-joys-of-christmas-joy-of_31.html

Diffusion Confusion

Today at the middle school we talked about migration and cultural diffusion, the way people bring pieces of themselves to mix with the new land they inhabit. We talked about immigrants and transition and push and pull factors that encourage people into new countries. The kids asked questions, as they always do, and it was fascinating to hear what some of them thought. They seemed to understand the fact that war could make people want to leave a country, that poverty was negative, but when we talked about solutions, they all just said move to the United States and everything will get better. 
I think a lot of us have this mentality – if I can only get to this place or have this job or this salary then everything will be fine. I’ve spent the last few months searching around for a place to call home. While this is nothing compared to the experience of refugees or immigrants, I think a lot of us struggle with the seeming inability to fit, bringing pieces of our old self as we attempt to incorporate them into new surroundings after transition.
Starting a new job has been so very challenging. The 7th grade kiddos I get to help are amazing, but full of energy that quickly drains mine. It’s hard to decide which parts of my “past self” to bring into this new territory, which ones will serve me well in new roles. As I learn, I’m also developing new parts of myself, which I then have to integrate into the kaleidoscope of me. Adulting is hard, transition is hard, life is hard. But we’re doing it, you and me. And that’s something worth celebrating.

Rocky Mountain High

Sitting on the edge of a waterfall, formed by the purest snow at the top of a sky-scraping mountain, I realized for the thousandth time – I am so small.

This is a hard realization to come to sometimes when you feel like you’re the most important part of the universe, on those days where everything is going your way and everyone thinks you’re top dog. There have been times early on in this adulting experiment that I have felt untouchable, impervious to hardship and danger. Being among mountains helped me regain a sense of helplessness that is so crucial to our understanding that we need each other, we need something larger than ourselves because alone we are insignificant. Of course, each person plays a role in the workings of the world, but in the end we are all imperfect humans desperate for something greater.

This week during my refugee English classes, we took the students outside to play their first game of American baseball in the parking lot. It was a resounding success, with students whooping and hollering, calling for the ball, giggling when they hit a line drive. By the end of the game, we had six bases in the field, but the grins on faces were worth a few broken baseball rules.

Again, as I was looking around at these representatives from countries around the world, harmoniously engaging in a beautiful pastime, I realized again – I am so small. Here I am surrounded by individual who come from war-torn environments, from countries with histories of dysfunction and hatred and struggle. The world felt bigger and smaller in that moment. On one hand, I thought who am I to think i can change anything in this cruel world? And in the next second, my heart reminded me that it is here in this time, in this place, with these people, that a difference is being made. In the unity created here at Exodus, lives are being changed and prejudices are being shattered. Hurt is being healed. The world is being made more beautiful. And for that, I am grateful.

This week, take time to find that place above your mountains where you can transcend. Realize your small-ness, but also remember how much the world needs you. You are small, your heart is mighty, and you are loved.

Burning Bush Moments

I was crouched down behind a wall in an orphanage in a little village in El Salvador, waiting for the right moment… When I popped out from behind the wall, a pair of giant brown eyes stared back at me, then the tiny boy they belonged to giggled and raced back to hide again.

This little boy and I played hide and seek longer than I ever have before or since, but he just couldn’t get enough. He giggled and giggled, dashing back and forth, and when I would start to lose interest, he would beckon me back, always ready to play some more.

All day long, my sister, our missionary friend, and I served this sweet little guy, and dozens others like him, food and drinks. We shared laughs at each others broken attempts at language, we cheered for our favorite soccer teams, and we practiced our Cinderella princess waves.

The hours I spent in that orphanage were some of the hardest on my heart, and it was there I truly discovered a passion for others, especially children without homes or families. Even the children who do have living parents or relatives usually come from broken homes or families destroyed by gang violence. This is not only a problem in El Salvador – this is happening globally. It is because of these children and the millions of others like them that I have decided to commit my next chapter of life to the Boaz Project, an organization dedicated to helping orphanages around the world speak life into a new generation.

Going into this process of raising awareness and partnerships, I had several “burning bush” moments, as I’ve started calling them. Basically, my prayers consisted of “Are you sure?” and “I can’t do that,” to which God continually responded, “Yes” and “I know, but I can.” I’ve read the story of Moses a million times, heard it taught over and over again in Sunday school, but never before had i felt the story touch me as deeply as it has lately. Moses protested again and again, but God reminded him of who He is, just as He’s reminding me.

The orphans of the world are not in my little, insignificant hands – they are held ever more lovingly by the one who created them. He is calling us to action in support of those who cannot support themselves – my little peekaboo boy and the millions like him. My prayer is that today you could be connected with the opportunity to allow this ministry at The Boaz Project to be your hands and feet in this orphan crisis. Make this your ministry. Volunteer at one of our events, commit to financially supporting our work, decide on a block of time every week to devote to prayer for this issue. Thank you in advance for your continued support and prayer.

If you have any questions about the Boaz Project, you can find more information at their website www.boazproject.org. If you would like to financially support me in my ministry through Boaz, visit www.boazproject.org/meganadams

Please send me an email if you would like to discuss this opportunity further!

Trust Falls

This morning, I was rocking in a chair in the nursery at church, humming a hymn to the baby I was coaxing to sleep. Back and forth, back and forth we rocked, the notes of “Come Thou Fount” carrying us. Of course, another kiddo took a tumble and started making a fuss right when we were about to reach Dreamland, but that moment right before was so full of peace and comfort. That one-year-old learned a lesson in trust today – people outside of Mom can still be good, even sleep can be good. Allowing someone new to hold you and care for you doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Yesterday, I met my summer host parents’ grandkids and they’ve welcomed me with open arms – One of the little guys invited me to excavate the front yard for dinosaur bones this afternoon, and his sister and I had a rock concert tonight in the living room. They dance without a second thought, and they dream without questioning. They give love without asking anything in return, and they accept love when it’s offered.

What a beautiful picture of God’s grace and his never-ending joy. In the midst of the hardships of this week around our country and the complete and utter terror that fills so many hearts, I am reminded of goodness that still lies in our Creator. Because of sin, our world is a terrifying place, but because of grace, we can be renewed. He mourns with us at the world’s brokenness, but God also calls us to dance with him, to sing with him, to allow ourselves to be loved by him.

Just like that baby in the nursery this morning, I often feel myself tighten with anxiety at the thought of allowing someone to love me. I get scared, thinking that maybe God will not really have my best interests in mind, that he’ll just pick me up to watch me fall. That’s where trust comes in. With my new job being completely support-raised, I’m learning a whole new lesson in trust and what it means to completely rely on God in regards to my finances. While I watch a country I love fall apart and fall back together again after colossal tragedy, all I can do is trust. Trust in a goodness beyond myself, beyond humanity.

Where can we find new ways to practice trust this week with our loved ones, with our God? I want to empower you to seek opportunities to believe wholeheartedly in a God who promises to love you unconditionally. Please feel free to share any insights or questions regarding the conversation of trust, since I’m sure it’s something I’ll be working on for a very long time. I definitely don’t claim to know everything, or really even anything, but this is something that has been heavy on my heart lately and I would love to hear what you think.

Next Steps at Boaz

Today I want to share with you the possibility of partnership, the opportunity to work with an organization dedicated to helping orphans around the world.

The Boaz Project has been around since Jim and April Jurgensen, fellow Taylor University alumni, founded it in 1999. The organization supports 13 orphanages in Russia, India, and Kenya by offering Vacation Bible Schools, job training, and humanitarian aid, among other services. Not only does the organization send teams to help with these programs, but they also equip the orphanage leaders to better care for the children on a day to day basis.The Project also helps with adoptions, providing fundraising strategies and cross-cultural training for those interested in adopting a child.

For those of you who have been asking about my next phase of life, I have good news to share with you – I have accepted a position at The Boaz Project in Greenwood, IN! I am beyond excited to finally share this news, after months of prayer and consideration over whether this was the right decision. I truly believe that this is where I have been called to be, and I look forward to partnering with many of you as we work together toward a world where more children have a place to call home.

As the new Volunteer Coordinator at Boaz, I will be organizing events centered around getting U.S. communities involved in the work taking place overseas. From a 5K Run to a Ladies Night Out Dinner, events throughout the year raise money to help fund life changing mission trips and to support the orphanages themselves. Of course, these things cannot happen without the hard work of dedicated volunteers.Since Boaz does not yet have an official volunteer program, I will be starting from scratch developing a structure for a system that will organize the many people in the area who want to help the Project. This is something that I am extremely excited and (honestly) a little nervous about. I hope to orchestrate a volunteer system that helps each individual utilize his or her strengths to the fullest as they partner with us in ministry, whether here in America or overseas.

Thank you in advance for your continued prayer and support as I take on this somewhat overwhelming task. I’m excited to see where God leads over the next several months, and will continue to update this page frequently with news about progress. If you feel led to support me financially either one time or monthly, the link is below. All of the employees at Boaz have salaries that are 100% support-raised, so every bit you can offer helps! (not to mention that the contributions are tax deductible!) If you have any questions at all about the Project or my role within it, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank you again!

www.boazproject.org/meganadams

Choosing to Carry On

This week, the world reminded me of why it is both beautiful and cruel.

This week, I taught the alphabet to individuals learning how to call this country home. We rejoiced in the accumulation of knowledge, the mental dance of acquiring a new language.  In a place unfamiliar, these brave refugees are still walking, choosing to carry on, and it is the greatest privilege to equip them with the English they need for success here.

This week, our America wept together at the senseless loss of lives. In the midst of such tragedy, we are reminded of our need for each other. When terror strikes, love shines through the broken pieces of a fragile humanity. What a privilege to participate in a human race capable of such compassion as what I have seen displayed over the last several days toward victims of tragedy.

This week, I took a few more steps toward discovering my place in this beautiful, cruel, unpredictable world. I decided to allow a God who is infinitely wiser than me direct my steps toward a future serving him (more on that coming soon). Trust is a scary thing, and yet when we entrust our tomorrows to the one who created all of that beauty we see in the loving faces around us, in that moment is where we begin to experience peace.

This week, we chose to carry on. May we ever be soldiers for the light.