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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ENGAGED!!

Holy smokes!! Just when you think you have everything figured out, God steps in and shows you the REAL plan! :) I never saw this coming and was completely blown away by the most wonderful man I have ever known. I am so excited to say that I get to marry my best friend!

There have been many requests for the proposal story beyond the basic “He asked me to marry him and I said ‘yes!’”. ;) Continue on, dear reader, to discover how the man I love became my fiancé!

Since we were going to be apart on Christmas, Dan and I had decided to have our own celebration the weekend before (Dec. 17-20) while I was visiting him up in Germantown. Since we both had 4 gifts for each other, we also decided to increase the excitement and prolong the festivities by giving out only one gift per day. After battling Beltway and 270 traffic, I made it to Germantown Thursday night and met Dan at his apartment complex. We grabbed dinner at Panera and exchanged our first gifts. He gave me a Fresh Cut Roses Yankee Candle (it smells heavenly!) and I gave him my flight itinerary for my trip to Michigan (he knew about the trip but not when I was actually going to get there). After dinner, I got to watch him play soccer and took some pictures.


Day Two brought lots of errands for me. I had left my dress clothes in St. Mary’s county and we were going to the Kennedy Center so I had to find a new outfit (Thank goodness for Kohl’s and DressBarn!). I also dropped all my Christmas letters in the mail and got a box off as well. I finally had a chance to breathe in the afternoon for about an hour. Then I got ready and met Dan at his office where he gave me a tour, finished up a few things, then we grabbed dinner at Noodles & Co and exchanged our 2nd gifts. I gave Dan the next Ted Dekker novel in the sequence he’s reading (“Saint”) and he gave me a beautiful ornament to start our collection that says “Our Christmas Together” with a charm that says 2009 at the bottom. It was absolutely gorgeous and so touching! Thank goodness for waterproof mascara! We then rode Metro to the Kennedy Center and enjoyed a lovely performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the National Symphony Orchestra. When we came out, it had begun snowing! I love those first few hours when snow begins to fall and cover the world in its soft, peaceful blanket. However, I do not enjoy snow in heels! :P


Day Three put us square in the Blizzard of ’09. Dan had told me to be prepared to go out in it though so I layered up and we jumped in the car and made our way into D.C. I was so thankful that day that Dan was from Michigan and knew how to drive in snow. We got stuck a couple of times but it never took more than a couple of minutes to get unstuck. It was also a learning experience as I got to observe Dan as he helped other people get unstuck as well. Such a wonderful man! :) We drove around in D.C. looking for a place to park so we could get out and see the National Christmas Tree and walk around but everything was marked so that we couldn’t park. So it ended up being a scenic drive around in D.C. in what I thought was a valiant effort to go see the Christmas Tree. Turns out my love had ulterior motives! ;) When we got back to Germantown, we exchanged our third gift. I gave Dan a calendar I had put together on Snapfish with photos of us throughout our relationship and he gave me the DVD of “Up”, one of our favorite movies and the only one we’ve seen in theaters. We reference it quite frequently in our day-to-day conversations. :) The rest of the evening was spent around a table of delicious food with good friends in fun conversation.

Day Four typically would have meant going to church in the morning but all activities were cancelled due to the snow so we made another attempt to get to Downtown D.C. This time, Dan found out which parts of the Metrorail system were running and we went to the closest station that had parking. While they were running reduced trains and it took longer than usual, we finally made it into D.C.! It was an absolutely gorgeous day with a beautiful blue sky and sun sparkling off the fresh snow. We walked around to the National Christmas Tree, the Washington Monument, and the World War II Memorial. Then...we went to “our special place”. :) Dan pulled me close and we started to dance and reminisced about the past year and everything that had happened in our relationship. We laughed at the funny moments and recalled the ones that were near and dear to our hearts. Then Dan began to sing to me. I absolutely love hearing him sing any time but it was even more special when he started singing the chorus of one of my favorite songs, personalizing it by substituting my name into the lyrics.


When he was done, he reached into a small pocket and withdrew a ring box and opened it to show me the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. I’m told I sucked in a deep breath when he opened it. ;) Then he asked that wonderful question “will you marry me?” as he got down on one knee. According to Dan, I almost didn’t let him get down to his knee before answering. “Yes! For the rest of my life, yes!” I don’t think I said anything else for a solid ten minutes. He left me speechless! All I could do was laugh and cry and hold him tight as we continued to spin around and almost fall in the snow out of excitement! He held out the ring and allowed me to put it on and it seemed simply perfect. “I get to marry you!”

The next half hour consisted of much joy and some picture taking. I was told I was NOW prepared for my trip to Michigan for New Year’s (Dan had been telling me for two weeks I wasn’t ready). Then he asked me if I was hungry. :) We made our way to one of our favorite restaurants, Olive Garden, where we celebrated and Dan got to open his fourth gift from me: two tickets to a Washington Caps vs. Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game. Up until now, we had held off on calling anybody so that we could spend some time celebrating together. After we left the restaurant, we called both sets of parents, siblings, and a couple of other people. Due to the snow and icy road conditions, I ended up staying Sunday night in Germantown so we got to spend a little more time together that evening.

So there you have it! :) The love of my life is now my fiancé and we are in the very beginning stages of planning our wedding!! Words cannot express my excitement at the fact that I get to marry Dan! That I get to marry this wonderful man is such a blessing, entirely orchestrated by our Heavenly Father.

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” Psalm 66:5

Soli Deo Gloria!
Meghan


“Now you’re my whole life, now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you, Meghan
Like the river meets the sea stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then...”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Factual Friday: “And His name shall be called Wonderful...”

Fact: Handel wrote the first version of “Messiah” in 24 days!

Tonight, Dan and I will be attending a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C! Last year, I attended the same performance with my mom the night before Dan joined us to see the National Christmas Tree. I guess you could say this marks one year since he began pursuing a relationship with me. :) What a difference a year makes!

I think many people are familiar with portions of Handel’s “Messiah” (mainly the Hallelujah Chorus) but last year was my first time hearing the oratorio in its “entirety”. With many existing versions, there is no one that is considered truly “correct” or “authentic”. The arrangements are adjusted to account for what singers and instruments are available. Some use fewer instruments or substitute some while others use different configurations of the basic soprano/alto/tenor/bass grouping (for example, a contralto and a bass-baritone). Handel himself reworked it several times to accommodate such differences.

There is simply something overwhelming, though, about hearing Scripture sung in the soaring Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center. That God’s Word can still be proclaimed openly in such a public venue is such a wonderful freedom. It brought me chills last year to see the entire audience stand when the first strains of the Hallelujah Chorus sounded. I know some are simply following convention but still, to see all those people standing at the triumphant proclamation of Christ’s coming is remarkable.

As we enter the last week before Christmas, I pray that you will set aside time to be still and ponder God’s gift. Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate (or chai, in my case) and spend some time just staring at your Christmas tree, thinking of the most precious, wonderful Gift of all.

Merry (almost) Christmas!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Wisdom of Elliot

“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

This quote from Jim Elliot has been a wonderful encouragement to Dan and me in our relationship. It’s easy to imagine the “what ifs” when 100 miles and two hours separate us. But dwelling in them forces us to lose out on the beauty of the here and now, the excitement and uniqueness of the moment we are in. God has blessed us mightily and to diminish that is to say that what God has given is not good enough when, in fact, it is more wonderful than anything we could have imagined.

So while I may continue to ponder the “what ifs”, I must not give them ground to affect my attitude or thankfulness for where I find myself now. I have received wonderful advice and encouragement from a young married friend of mine who has inspired me to treasure the situation I find myself in as it is one I will never have the pleasure of being in again. A wise young woman indeed! ;)

I am eagerly anticipating next weekend when I will get the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with the man I love. But many things lay between now and Thursday and many of them MUST be accomplished before then (like wrapping his gifts). Even as I revel in the anticipation of a wonderful weekend, I know that the here and now still remains so I will take each day as it comes, grateful that God only brings one at a time.

I encourage you now, as I have been encouraged, to treasure the moments you have now and lay aside the worries of tomorrow, for today has enough worries of its own. (See Matthew 6:34)

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan



Below are two examples of the above quote in context. The first is two paragraphs from the letter that Jim Elliot wrote to Elisabeth and the second is her reflection on it sometime later.

"Your ’sense of loss’ at our not being able to share things these past few months is not new to me. I know it, and often tell Him about it. And such thoughts as ‘If thy dear home be fuller, Lord…’ are a consolation. And then the realistic facing of non-accomplishment comes to me and crushes to silence all telling. For if, really, we have denied ourselves to and from each other for His sake, then should we not expect to see about us the profit of such denial? And this I look vainly for. It comes to this: I am a single man for the kingdom’s sake, its more rapid advance, its more potent realization in my own life. But where is that advance and that realization? I am willing that ‘my house on earth be emptier,’ but not unless ‘His house be fuller.’ And I think it right that we hold God to his bargain. I err, of course, in making visible results of our separation the final test, and, in truth, rejoice in seeing beyond results which are obvious. But I reason thus that I should be more importunate in prayer, more dogged in devotion, and should not get, as you say, to a ‘weary acceptance of things as they are.’

Besides this, there is the somewhat philosophical realization that actually I have lost nothing. We may imagine what it would be like to share a given event and feel loss at having to experience it alone. But let us not forget-that loss is imagined, not real. I imagine peaks of enjoyment when I think of doing things together, but let not the hoping for it dull the doing of it alone. What is, is actual - what might be simply is not, and I must not therefore query God as thought He robbed me - of things that are not. Further, the things that are, belong to us, and they are good, God given, and enriched. Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living. It is true that our youth is fast fleeting, and I know the rush of wants, the perfect fury of desire which such a thought summons. All that it involves - this getting on to thirty - brings a push of hurry and a surge of "possible" regrets over the soul. And, Betty, this is just exactly what we have bargained for. Obedience involves for us, not physical suffering, perhaps, nor social ostracism as it has for some, but this warring with worries and regrets, this bringing into captivity our thoughts. We have planted (in our integrity) the banner of our trust in God. The consequences are His responsibility." ~Jim Elliot, in a letter to Elisabeth



“…all of these were things I myself longed to do, and longed desperately to do with him. ‘Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living,’ he wrote to me, and those words have helped me very often since. We accept and thank God for what is given, not allowing the not-given to spoil it.” ~Elisabeth Elliot, “Let Me Be a Woman”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Factual Friday: New Year’s Countdown!

Fact: This New Year’s Eve marks the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

Ten years ago, the biggest news story was the Y2K bug that was predicted to take down computer systems everywhere when the year switched from 1999 to 2000. Now, it seems a little silly since life went on as usual when 2000 came and 1999 went but at the time it was a big concern. My grandmother (an artist) even drew a picture for my brother of a foot stomping a moth that represented the Y2K bug (it had Y2K written on its body and wings).

What a difference a decade makes! Hard to believe I was just starting high school then. Graduated from there in 2003 and ended up at the University of Maryland that fall. Then graduated from UMD in the spring of 2007. Found myself in Colorado Springs that fall for a wonderful semester at the Focus Leadership Institute (the reason this blog was started). Came home, moved to Germantown, worked for WeatherBug, got laid off, moved back home, hired by a defense contractor, and started dating Dan. So many twists and turns that only God could have orchestrated and guided me through.

As we stand three weeks away from the beginning on 2010, why not take a moment to examine how God has moved in your life over the past year? In the bustle and rush of Christmas, it can be easy to float into the New Year without much reflection. Don’t let another year begin without taking the time to thank God for the moments He has granted you with the ones you love.

Psalm 144:4 “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, December 4, 2009

Factual Friday: Eight is great!

Fact: Dan and I have been officially dating for eight months! :)

If you had told me a year and a half ago that this is where I would be now, I probably would have laughed at you. I had recently moved to Germantown, found a great church, and was enjoying my job. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that path would lead me through a layoff, back home, and into the arms of the most wonderful man I know.

Eight months ago, the D.C. cherry blossoms were in bloom and so was our relationship. That day seems so long ago and yet so recent at the same time. So much has happened in that time and I know there are still many more adventures to come.

As we approach Christmas, I hope that you will take time from your busy schedules to spend time with those you love. Whether it’s a spouse, significant other, a sibling, or a friend, I hope you will spend some time in their company celebrating how God has worked in your life this past year. It’s so easy to get busy and overlook the importance of slowing down and remembering the true reason for our celebration: that God became a man and dwelt among us in order to redeem us to Himself. Merry Christmas!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Meghan

Friday, November 27, 2009

Factual Friday: Rain drops keep falling on my head...

Fact: This October was the wettest and third coolest on record in the United States.

Yes, I am a weather geek and yes, this is another Factual Friday about weather records. What can I say? :)

Here are some temperature highlights from the NOAA summary report on the month of October 2009:

Oklahoma recorded its coldest October on record while the month ranked in the top five for Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Florida was the only state to record an above normal temperature average in October. It was the sixth consecutive month that Florida’s temperature was above normal.
So, apologies to my friends in Florida. If it’s any consolation, Georgia and Alabama were pretty close to their average temperatures.

Some of the precipitation highlights include:

The nationwide average precipitation of 4.15 inches nearly doubled the long-term average.

Iowa, Arkansas, and Louisiana recorded their wettest October while only Florida, Utah, and Arizona had below normal precipitation.

About 45 percent of the contiguous United States had moderately-to-extremely wet conditions at the end of October, according to the Palmer Index. This is the largest such footprint since February 2005.
And snow records already, too!

Cheyenne, Wyo., tallied 28 inches of snow in October, making this the city’s snowiest October on record. North Platte, Neb., recorded 30.3 inches of snow, making October 2009 the snowiest month ever for the city.
For those interested, the report can be found here.
 
So 2009 has been a pretty interesting weather year! Well, if you exclude the unusually quiet hurricane season. The leftovers from Ida passed our way as a Nor’easter 2 weeks back. We actually received somewhere in the region of 5 inches of rain in 3 days! I won’t be surprised to find out that November is a high precipitation month as well when they come out with their report. Hmmm...ideas for another Factual Friday? ;) Stay tuned!
 
Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

**This entry is being automatically posted as I am actually on a Disney Cruise Ship somewhere in the Caribbean!**

I hope you all are having a Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful time to set aside the busy-ness and craziness of everyday life, take a step back to see the big picture, and give God thanks for all that He has done and continues to do in our lives.

The Israelites had many feasts throughout the year to remember God’s provision and ask His blessing in the season to come. The annual feasts were centered on spring and fall planting and harvest times in order to remind them where their food actually came from and that the land belonged to God. At the end of harvest, it truly would have been a time of thanksgiving for God’s goodness.

As we reflect today, what are you thankful for this year? I know I am thankful for a mighty God, my health, my family, a loving, godly boyfriend, a good job, and wonderful friends. God has provided so much this past year that sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of but I am so glad that I serve the good and perfect Lord and that I get to see Him work in my life and the lives of those around me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, November 20, 2009

Factual Friday: 6000 and counting...

Fact: I currently have 6048 audio files on my iPod.

Earlier this week, I decided to simply put my whole iPod playlist on shuffle while I was plugging away at work. It usually just runs as a soundtrack to accompany the click of keyboard keys and the glow of the monitor but I typically only choose one album or a smaller playlist to play, not usually the entire assortment.

It was really interesting to see what came up over the course of a couple of hours. Some of the files I skipped over because they were radio programs and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to someone talk for half an hour or they were books on CD and I would rather not listen to only one chapter. Sometimes, though, a forgotten favorite would come up. There were the songs I wish I could’ve sung at the top of my lungs like I do in my car and others that made me want to get up and dance right there in my office.

Have you ever forgotten that you have something and then are pleasantly surprised when you rediscover it? It’s one reason that I look forward to one day going through the storage unit that houses over 80% of my belongings. I know some of the things that are in there, including books or clothes that I occasionally wish were not in storage and that I had easier access to. Rediscovering all of those things is going to be a trying but joyful journey.

I also love rediscovering God’s promises in Scripture. Sometimes in the midst of trials or choices, it can be hard to recall what God has said He will do. I know I often forget what He has done in my own life when I go through new challenges.

Forgetfulness was one of the reasons that God had the Israelites build memorials along their journey to the Promised Land. After He would tell them to build one, it was followed by an admonishment to remember what had occurred there, usually so they could tell their children about what God had done for them. It was the reason they piled the stones after crossing the Jordan River and why they celebrated Passover each year, among other things.

Have you thought recently about how God has worked in your life in the past? Maybe you’re going through something right now where you need to remember His faithfulness in previous situations. Maybe God is trying to remind you of something in His Word. His Promises are true and God is good...ALL the time.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day off!

Hi everyone,

So today is my day off. I'm in Germantown visiting Dan. I was in training at work all day Wednesday and Thursday. All of this to say...there is no Factual Friday post today. Have a wonderful weekend! :) I know I will! ;)

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, November 6, 2009

Factual Friday: 2 Week Countdown!

Fact: 15 more days until our family leaves on vacation!

Since 2003 was such a big year for our family (my 18th birthday, Josh’s 16th birthday, parent’s 25th anniversary and my high school graduation), we decided to celebrate by taking a big family vacation over Christmas. We flew to Florida and spent 3 days at the Disney Parks then boarded one of their cruise ships for a 4 day cruise. The trip was a hit but we made the decision that from now on we were only going to do the cruise and avoid the parks.

In December 2005, we returned for our 2nd cruise, this time for a week. We spent New Year’s on the boat which was amazing. Christmas in 2003 had been nice but we have so many family traditions that it really felt like something was missing. But New Year’s was great! They really knew how to throw a party. It was also great being on the ship for a whole week. Not only did we have an extra port of call, but an extra day at sea as well so we could explore the ship.

And now we have reached the countdown to the next trip, leaving November 21st. This is our third cruise and third holiday with Disney. This trip was actually supposed to happen a year ago but God had other plans when He brought Chelse into our lives. We postponed a year in order to finish the adoption process so that she could go with us.

Taking this trip every 2-3 years is becoming tradition in our family. It’s something that we all look forward to with great anticipation. Other members of my family started counting down after the last one over a month ago. The excitement has grown in the past few weeks as we have booked excursions, talked about meals and activities, and started to think about packing. I even bought two underwater cameras earlier this week to take on my snorkeling excursions.

There is something special about sharing anticipation with those around you. It multiplies the joy and excitement surrounding the event. It’s one reason that surprises can be so hard to keep sometimes. We want to tell the person because we want them to share in our anticipation and excitement. We want them to share in the joy.

In the Christian community, we are called to share our lives with one another, but not just the joy and anticipation. Galatians 6:2a tells us to “carry each other’s burdens” as well, not only in good times but in bad. Anticipation is not always happy and joyful. Sometimes, it can be sorrowful. But even then, we are called to a higher standard, to rejoice when brothers and sisters rejoice and to weep when they weep.

Look around you today and reach out to someone in your circle. Maybe it’s to share in their joy about upcoming events in their life. Maybe it’s to comfort them as they go through a hard time. Either way, come along side them as you walk together this week.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

“Mama’s Song”

So this song made me tear up. I love Carrie Underwood and was so excited to see that she was coming out with a new CD (released today). One of my favorite country stations had the entire CD up on their website to listen to so that was my soundtrack for the day. This song in particular spoke to me, especially since I’m going through a similar time in my life as the one described in the song. :) I pray one day I handle this transition period as well as my mom seems to be. Just thought I'd share...

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

“Mama’s Song”, from Carrie Underwood’s new CD “Play On”

Mama, you taught me to do the right things
So now you have to let your baby fly
You've given me everything that I will need
To make it through this crazy thing called life
And I know you watched me grow up and only want what’s best for me
And I think I found the answer to your prayers

And he is good, so good
He treats your little girl like a real man should
He is good, so good, he makes promises he keeps
No, he's never gonna leave
So don’t you worry about me
Don’t you worry about me

Mama, there’s no way you'll ever lose me
And giving me away is not goodbye
As you watch me walk down to my future
I hope tears of joy are in your eyes

‘Cause he is good, so good
And he treats your little girl like a real man should
He is good, so good, he makes promises he keeps
No, he's never gonna leave
So don’t you worry about me
Don’t you worry about me

And when I watch my baby grow
I'll only want what’s best for her
And I hope she'll find the answer to my prayers
And that she'll say

He is good, so good
And he treats your little girl like a real man should
He is good, so good, he makes promises he keeps
No, he's never gonna leave
So don’t you worry about me
Don’t you worry about me

Mama, don’t you worry about me
Don’t you worry about me

Friday, October 30, 2009

Factual Friday: Shop ‘Til You Drop!

Fact: There are 57 shopping days left until Christmas!

Yes, I know I’m a little ahead on this one but you’ll just have to bear with me. :) I love Christmas shopping. I get a thrill from picking out gifts that I think those closest to me will love and be totally surprised by as well.

Last year, my brother mentioned a jewelry photo box that hangs on the wall that my mom had pointed out as something she would like. I was able to get back to the store (this was Black Friday) and even though they didn’t have the color I wanted, they ordered it for me from their catalog at the discounted BF price! Sweet! That thing was a pain to hide though. So grateful for family friends who were willing to take it in and guard it.

Well, in my mind, it wasn’t just enough to give her the box/frame. I decided that I wanted to fill it with pictures in advance and then give it to her that way. And then my creative, surprise nature took over and I thought about how great it would be to have photos done of the four of us kids! We had pictures of Chelse and pictures of me, my brother, and sister, but no nice, studio ones of all four of us together.

So I set my mind on getting portraits done. I did some research on pricing and found that Target not only had great prices but a coupon for a free 8x10 as well! SOLD! :) My next obstacle was Mom. In order to get all four of us out of the house without her being suspicious, I basically needed her out of the house as well. Thank goodness for her friends! :) I brought them in on the plan and we were able to get her out of the house on the night of our portrait session.

Final hurdle: Chelse. This loveable littlest sister cannot usually keep a secret. Solution: Get her all ready for bed and as soon as Mom walked out the door, I was helping her get into the dress I had picked out. I was amazed that she didn’t spill the beans before Christmas morning either!

The photos turned out amazing and Mom was entirely stunned and speechless when we proudly handed over the secret we’d managed to pull off. Some of the pictures now sit proudly on the piano in our living room.

And now to start on this year’s list. I’ve been doing some online “window” shopping and pricing but haven’t really purchased anything yet. But as much as I delight in gift-shopping and gift-giving, God offered the best gift of all by sending His Son as the original Christmas gift. It was a gift that would forever change the world and the lives of countless men and women, mine included.

I pray that as we approach this Christmas season, you will not forget why it is that we celebrate. May we remember how closely Christmas is linked with Easter, that there would be no death, resurrection, and salvation without the birth. Do not miss the wonder of Christ’s coming in the hustle and bustle of the world’s activities.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

P.S. I have not forgotten about the holiday known as Thanksgiving that comes over a month before Christmas. :) Just thought I would share my excitement over the preparations! There is still plenty of time for me to blog about Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Factual Friday: Turning 50!

Fact: This post marks the 50th post for my blog! :)

Wow! I didn’t realize that I had already made it to 50 (posts, that is)! I began looking the other day at how many posts I had done by year. 2009 has seen double what either of the other two years of my posting has seen (13 in 2007 and 11 in 2008).

As a treat, I thought I’d share the very first blog post I wrote. For those of you who are new to my blog, this will give some insight into why I named it “Koinonia” as well as why I originally started blogging. Enjoy!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

(FYI: I have edited it a bit so that it’s not one big block of text. I didn’t know any better then) :)

Originally posted June 13, 2007

Welcome to my world! :) This is the blog where I will be posting my adventures before, during, and after my semester at the Focus on the Family Institute. Right now, updates will not be as frequent, however, I hope to update weekly once I reach Colorado Springs in September.

I wanted to take a moment to explain the meaning behind the name of my blog. The actual title is written out in the original Greek letters, but the English spelling is koinonia. I like the way that Wikipedia speaks of the word. It states:
"The word has such a multitude of meanings that no single English word is adequate to express its depth and richness....Koinonia is a complex, rich, and thoroughly fascinating Greek approach to building community or teamwork."
(If you want to read more, you can find the article here.)

Koinonia is also the name of the once-weekly dinner at the Focus on the Family Institute where I will be eating with other classmates in order to invest time in each other, get to know each other, and build community.

I also wanted to share some verses with you where the word "koinonia" is used (in italics).
Acts 2:42 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of break, and in prayers."

Romans 15:26 "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

1 Corinthians 1:9 "God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called until the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."

Philippians 1:3-5 "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in ever prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now."

Hebrews 13:16 "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

1 John 1:6-7 "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
So once again, welcome to what is sure to be an amazing adventure. I can't wait to start the journey with you! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Suit

Yesterday, I wore a suit. Not really a big deal. I work in an office so I have to dress professionally anyway, but yesterday I had a meeting at our corporate offices in Virginia so I decided to step up my game and wear one of the three suits that I own. Not an unreasonable action given the circumstances.

But something felt weird. Each time I saw myself in the mirror, I felt like I wasn’t seeing me. Nothing was different except the suit. I’ve worn suits before, both for work and for other events (example: Focus on the Family Institute picture day). I looked like I fit right in with the corporate environment I was in. And I think that might have been the issue.

Seeing myself in that light made me confront the fact that I don’t desire to be doing this my whole life. When the time comes, I want to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. Why then would I want to fit in at a place I know is only temporary? Why would I want to fit in there?

But it remains that this is where God has me now. I need to be faithful to the task at hand that He has granted me. What I long for is a good thing and something I hope God will one day grant, but that is not my place in life right now. A wise person once passed this Jim Elliot quote on to me: “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”

Even Godly desires can be wrong if they are not committed fully to the One who has given them and applied at the appropriate time. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” We are quick to quote the second half of this verse without considering the first part. We want to think that God will simply give us what we want but we need to be seeking after Him and looking to follow His will. Then, our desires will align with His and the desire of our heart will be God’s heart and His plan for our life. He is ready and willing to grant what His own heart desires.

I am glad that God has given me the desires that He has. I know they are good and part of His will for my life down the road. Learning to live with these desires when He has not yet granted them, giving them to Him, seeking His will, and learning patience in my discontent are some of the lessons He is teaching me through this experience.

Does that mean I am comfortable here? No, for comfort often leads to complacency and these desires do show that God intends for my life to change. I will not always be as I am. But I can trust that God has me here for a reason and do my work as unto Him. While it may not be comfortable, I can rest and have peace in the fact that this is His will for my life. And that is more than enough.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, October 16, 2009

Factual Friday: 34th

Fact: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), this past summer (June-August 2009) saw below average temperatures for the U.S., making it the 34th coolest summer on record (records date back to 1895). Read the summary here.

If you were like me and thought summer was a little cooler than normal, NOAA says you’re right. Apparently, the average United States temperature for the (meteorological) summer months was 0.4°F below the average for the 20th century. Some states still had warm summers (Florida had its 4th warmest), but based on the mean temperatures for the contiguous 48 states, we came in below “normal”.

What makes this even more amazing is the placement of an overwhelming majority of the Association’s weather gauges. If you want to see some of them, watch this video. (Special thanks to Stuart Shepard and CitizenLink at Focus on the Family!) :)

If the majority of the sensors are placed so they’re picking up radiated heat from their environment and they still registered temperatures that put us below average for the summer...we definitely had a cool summer!

So, yes, this is me at my geekiest. :) Told you I loved weather. But I think there’s more to this than just my love of weather and attempt to come up with another interesting fact for this Friday.

Twice in the book of Proverbs, God addresses honesty in measurements:

Proverbs 11:1 “The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”

Proverbs 20:23 “The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.”
Obviously, I don’t believe this just applies to weighing items or even to temperature measurements for that matter. God values honesty in all of our dealings, whether business or personal.

But how often are we tempted to stretch the truth just a bit? “It’s only a ‘white’ lie,” we tell ourselves. But who have we cheated by using this argument, this “dishonest scale”? Ourselves, surely. God, most definitely. But it affects other people as well. It can affect your co-workers, your family, your friends, even casual acquaintances.

Everyone loses when honesty drops out of the picture.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oops!

I guess it’s a reminder that I’m only human but last week I forgot my Factual Friday post. In fact, I didn’t post all week. Sorry! :(

Life has been wonderfully busy and I have been handsomely distracted. ;) One of my recent adventures was an afternoon with Dan that involved taking my teenage sister and 3 of her friends to a corn maze. The farm that hosts the yearly event also has wagon rides, a petting zoo, and a straw pit that you can jump in (or get pushed in to).

Dan and I went through the corn maze twice. There are two phases (one shorter, one longer) and at the beginning, the gentleman working the maze said they weren’t connected. So we dove into Phase 1. About 30 seconds into it, we decided to have fun and only make right turns. The only problem is that the two phases were connected…they shared the same exit. So when we got to the end of Phase 1, we continued to make right turns…and ended up going through Phase 2 backwards! Definitely lots of fun. Later, we ended up going back through Phase 1 (it was the longest one after all) but this time only made left turns.

Remembering this wonderful weekend made me think about a verse that also mentions making right and left turns:

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

As a Christian indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I have a built in Navigator telling me where my path is. The only problem is, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I’m human and prone to push the ‘mute’ button when I don’t like what my Guide has to say and then I wonder why God is further away. He’s not the one that’s moved; I moved away by not listening to His direction.

The closer I draw to God though, the more attune I am to the distance separating us when I make a wrong turn. When I am more aware of the impact of my decision, the sooner I can repent and move back towards my Father. Those open arms are such a welcoming place to be. :)

Where are you today, my friend? Maybe you’ve taken a step off the path that God would have you walk. He’s waiting to welcome you back with open arms. I hope you can experience His love and direction as He guides you in your everyday walk. Don’t limit the impact He can have in your life by pressing the ‘mute’ button.


Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan


At the Bowles Farm Corn Maze

Friday, October 2, 2009

Factual Friday: October

Fact: October used to be the eighth month in the old Roman calendar before January and February were added in the Gregorian calendar, hence the “octo-“ prefix (Latin for “eight”).
Bonus fact: In regular calendar years, January starts on the same day of the week as October, but in leap years no other month starts on the same day of the week as October.

As I have previously mentioned, I love fall. It is a reminder, however, that the year is now three-quarters over and less than 3 months remain until we ring in the New Year.

This year seems to have gone by so fast in many ways, yet in others it seems to have crawled by in slow motion. There is still a lot going on the rest of this year: my brother turns 22, littlest sister turns 8, family Disney cruise over Thanksgiving, a friend’s wedding, Holly’s departure, time with Dan, and Christmas followed closely by the New Year.

With all the time (or lack thereof) left in the year and everything happening, I was reminded of a passage in Scripture that speaks to seasons and the events that occur over the course of time:

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

My favorites from the list include laughing, dancing, throwing away (especially as I lose weight and get rid of too-big clothes!) and loving. But it also reminds me that there are times where there will be destruction, weeping, mourning, hating and war. How easy it would be to lose hope in the hard times after the joy we experience!

But only a few short verses later I’m reminded of who is in control:

Ecclesiastes 3: 11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

We cannot understand why things go the way they do, but we can trust that it is God who is in control at all times. May the God who makes all things beautiful do so for you today, even in the hardest of circumstances.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

“And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn”
~Nichole Nordeman, “Every Season”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Toilet Paper a Car

How to Toilet Paper a Car:
1. Find toilet paper (or have it given to you)
2. Distract friend whose car you wish to decorate
3. String the equivalent of 4 rolls of toilet paper over, under, and through (if possible) their car
4. Act nonchalant when you re-enter the building
5. Watch reaction when your handiwork is discovered
*Wait three years before repeating for best results

In the summer of 2006, I met my best friend, Holly, on a crazy night filled with gelato, turtle races, playgrounds, getting pelted with rubber balls, toilet papering a car, and four-square. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

For three years we have encouraged, supported, prayed for, admonished, sharpened, amused, cried with (the crying would mostly be on my end), surprised, calmed, questioned and loved each other. Holly is my closest friend (followed by my Focus roommates)…and in two weeks, that will be forever altered.

On Monday, we had a going away party for her at our church (and yes, it involved toilet papering the same car). You see, Holly is going to be going on a 2 year trip to Southeast Asia. She leaves for 2 months of training in Virginia in less than 2 weeks. I’ll get to see her briefly in December when she’s home before leaving the country.

Yes, I am sad to see her go. But God has much bigger plans for Holly than I could ever imagine. :) I’m thrilled to participate in ministry with her as a prayer partner. I’m excited to see how God will use her in the months and years to come as she reaches out to people who need to hear about Jesus and the Gospel. Please pray for her as she prepares to follow God’s calling to the harvest field.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, September 25, 2009

Factual Friday: Moving!

Fact: I will be occupying my third desk at my company’s office, fourth desk total.

It’s moving day! I am going to be on a new contract at work so that requires relocating me from my desk at the navy base back to our company office in town. I will pack up my things today and truck them over to my new desk at the Willows office. The last time I was working at that office, I never actually had my own desk. I shared two other ladies’ desks at different times since we knew I would be coming on base. Maybe now I can actually get a name plate and business cards!

When you work in the world of government contractors, nothing is a guarantee. It’s kind of like life in general. James reminds us in the Bible that we do not know what tomorrow will bring and that our lives are short in the grand scheme of things, merely vapor (see James 4:13-15). I am not guaranteed my next breath, much less tomorrow. This should be a freeing thought! God has everything under control so I have nothing to worry about, right? Now if only living that belief were as simple as that. :)

So as I relocate and look forward to working on a new contract, I plan on embracing the uncertainty and newness of the whole experience. I like the company I work for and they have worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. With God in control, I truly have nothing to worry about. I’m looking forward to settling into my new space and learning the ropes. Now all I have to do is pack up my desk...

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end...”

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recent Happenings

Much has been happening in life lately and I thank all of you for hanging in there with me on this ride. :) I’ve been busy but I’m glad that at least my weekly Friday posts have kept me posting and in contact with you. And I apologize in advance for the disjointedness in this update post.

This past weekend, I went to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. with my good friend and Focus roommate, Alisha! :) We had a blast! I went last year so you can look in the blog archives for my summaries from then but this year, I will not be as extensive in my detailing of every speaker as that was too much last year and I never actually finished. Instead, I’m hoping to provide captioned photos and selected quotes from the weekend. Hoping to accomplish that sometime next week so be on the lookout!

We had an absolutely wonderful time. I had not seen Alisha since we graduated almost two years ago! Despite some difficulties getting to D.C. (silly flat tire), we finally got the chance to hang out and catch up. We even got to talk to one of our other roommates while we were together. Saturday night, my boyfriend, Dan, joined us and we went out to dinner near the hotel and walked around before hanging out in the hotel lobby. On Sunday, we rode Metro up to Rockville and joined Dan for services at the church where he and I met. After a relaxing lunch and wonderful conversation, we dropped Alisha off at Metro so she could go home to take care of some homework.

Dan and I continued the day by driving into Washington, D.C. and walking around. Parking near the Jefferson Memorial, we walked down to the Capitol, exploring different spots along the way. I have experienced so many new, previously unseen gems in that city since we started dating and exploring it on our walks. Then we grabbed a quick dinner at Union Station before walking back and spending some time at the Jefferson Memorial watching the planes come in to land at Reagan.

I love getting mail and on Monday, a nice little package came for me from book publisher, Thomas Nelson. If you missed the badge on the right hand side of the page (on my blog site), I am now a book review blogger for them. It means that I can request a book, read it, write a review, and then post it here and one other website. And I get to keep the books! My first one is “Redefining Beautiful: adj. - What God Sees When God Sees You” by Jenna Lucado with Max Lucado. Look for the review soon...as soon as I finish the book that is! :P

The county fair is this weekend and yours truly is entering some items! Previously, the only thing I’ve entered in the county fair was the speech contest. This evening, I will be taking a few carrots that I’ve grown and a rug I made out of t-shirt scraps to be entered into the Garden and Home Arts categories respectively. I’m so excited! The rug scraps actually came from most of the t-shirts I acquired while at the University of Maryland. My mom’s friend is going to help me make the shirt fronts into a “quillow” (quilt that folds into a pocket to make a pillow) but I didn’t just want to throw out all the extra fabric. I found some really easy instructions online to make it that just required the scraps and scissors, no sewing! I finished it last night and can’t wait to see how it does at the fair. I’ll keep you posted!

So that’s a brief snapshot of what’s been going on the past week or so in life. I know it’s not much of a philosophical post or one that required much deep thought but I felt that I had neglected the personal aspect of my blog recently. I hope you enjoyed the update!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, September 18, 2009

Factual Friday: Fall

Fact: Fall officially starts on Tuesday!

At 5:18pm this coming Tuesday, September 22nd, the Autumnal Equinox will occur and with it the official ushering in of fall. :) My favorite seasons are fall and spring. My mom once pointed out to me that that’s half the year but what can I say? I love both of them!

One thing I like about fall (and spring, too!) is the color palette that God paints in during this season. Changing leaves, flowers and pumpkins bring rich burgundy, burnt oranges and vibrant yellows to the forefront. Piles of leaves in front yards are kaleidoscopes of color. The cool greens and warm temperatures of summer give way to the warmer colors and cooler temperatures of fall.

Fall also means getting to take out the sweaters and jackets. I love bundling up in a beautiful sweater and enjoying the cooler weather. I’m also looking forward to curling up in front of a fire in the fireplace and breaking out the apple cider. Yes, I know I could do this anytime of the year, but I think there’s something magical about apple cider and fall. What are some of your favorite things about this new season?

I hope you enjoy the beginning of fall! And as we enter a season of thanksgiving, remember to give thanks to God for who He is and all that He does, seen and unseen, in our lives.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rollercoaster

“We were made for something better
Something better than this inconsistency
So while you wait to respond to what’s really going on
Under shame, under doubt what the whole thing's all about
Sing to me

It's like a rollercoaster, 100 miles fast
Spins you round in circles till you want to collapse
Makes you so excited you can't wait for your second chance”

~“Rollercoaster” by Kendall Payne

Welcome to the second half of September! :) This year just seems to have flown by with all the ups and downs and adventures that have happened along the way! Speaking of ups and downs...

This past Sunday I got the chance to ride one of my favorite rollercoasters. It’s not the newest, doesn’t have the latest technology and isn’t very tall but I enjoy it. The Avalanche at King’s Dominion is bobsled-themed, with each car bearing the name and colors of different countries, and the ride down is entirely gravity-powered. It’s the first ride that my boyfriend and I rode at the park and at the end of the night we returned to ride it again...4 times! (Did I mention it wasn’t the most popular either?)

It’s pretty easy to see how life can be compared to a rollercoaster ride. With all its twists and turns, ups and downs, life is just plain unpredictable. Even when you think you can see the path (or track) ahead, it will often throw you for a loop and take you in an unexpected direction. And each person experiences it differently. Some throw their hands up over their head in wild abandon while others hold on for dear life, screaming at the top of their lungs. Not knowing what’s up ahead can be both exhilarating and frightening.

Someone (three guesses who) reminded me last night of a few verses from Matthew 6:
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I find myself very easily falling into the pattern of worrying about the days ahead and what I need to get done. I’m not saying that good planning isn’t wise and that to-do lists are evil, but it’s when I start to “plan” for what I cannot control that it becomes unnecessary worry. But God tells me not to worry! I am to seek His kingdom and righteousness and everything else will fall into place. Yet, as a fallen human being, I continue to fail and return to my bad habits. How often do we all focus on the unknown and worry about where the money or time or resources will come from, taking our eyes off of Christ and His providence? Praise the Lord for His marvelous and abundant grace!

So while I plan and pack for the Values Voters Summit this weekend with my good friend and one of my roommates from Focus, Alisha, I will try to put into practice the habit of relying on and trusting God for the things I can’t control. Because that’s the best rollercoaster ride I could ever be on.

Now...where did I put that to-do list? ;)


Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

“Candle on the Water”

I haven’t seen the Disney movie “Pete’s Dragon” in a long time, but there is one song from it that I remember and love. “Candle on the Water” is sung by the lighthouse keeper’s daughter as she tends the light and looks out to sea, waiting for her love to return from his journey.

“I'll be your candle on the water
My love for you will always burn
I know you're lost and drifting
But the clouds are lifting
Don't give up you'll have somewhere to turn

I'll be your candle on the water
'Till ev'ry wave is warm and bright
My soul is there beside you
Let this candle guide you
Soon you'll see a golden stream of light

A cold and friendless tide has found you
Don't let the stormy darkness pull you down
I'll paint a ray of hope around you
Circling in the air
Lighted by a prayer

I'll be your candle on the water
This flame inside of me will grow
Keep holding on you'll make it
Here's my hand so take it
Look for me reaching out to show
As sure as rivers flow
I'll never let you go
I'll never let you go
I'll never let you go...”

This past Saturday, the Point Lookout Lighthouse had its monthly open house so my boyfriend and I went to check it out and walk around the park. We were actually able to climb up into the housing where the light would have been. The view was amazing. I soaked in 360 degrees of beautiful Southern Maryland landscape and weather and we watched the birds and boaters that were out enjoying it as well.

Then my boyfriend pointed out to me the reason there was a lighthouse there. As I watched where the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay meet, he asked if I could see the shoals. It was then that I noticed the waves breaking offshore, near the point. While sailors would want to reach land, they would most definitely not want to reach it by hitting those shoals! (Since it’s supposedly haunted, there’s even a story of a sailor that drowned when his ship hit the shoals still haunting the lighthouse.) The light would have been a ray of hope as well as a beacon of caution to those approaching. It showed them the safe route, guiding and guarding them against the dangerous perils that were hidden to their view.

How much more will God do this for us! He knows the way in which we are traveling and where the peril lies. All we have to do is keep our eyes on Him and trust in His knowledge and unfailing love. He knows where the shoals in our own life lie and how to navigate around them. And as the end of the song says He will never let us go.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we’re promised any easy life. Far from it! Jesus said that we would have trials and tribulations. But it’s in those storms when the lighthouse became most important. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” The light always shines brightest when it is darkest.

My prayer for you today, friend, is that this would give you hope. Maybe you’ve been in a storm for a long time and have lost sight of the hope that the Light offers or maybe you’ve been in calm waters for long enough to forget the importance and necessity of the Light. I’ve been in both places and God had something to teach me each time as long as I was willing to listen and seek Him. Whatever the case may be, I pray today that you will look to Christ to guide your path and light the way.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, September 11, 2009

Factual Friday: September 11th

"I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." – President George W. Bush

I don’t think anyone needs a “fact” or reminder of what we remember today as a country. Just about everyone remembers where they were when they heard the awful news. I was in eleventh grade and in between Physics and Calc when we found out something had happened. My mom came to the school to see if I wanted to come home. Living near a military base, a nuclear power plant and Washington, D.C. meant that anything was possible. The base went under lockdown and my dad couldn’t leave. Friends had parents that worked in D.C. and some that worked at the Pentagon that they couldn’t get a hold of. It was a scary time.

Last year, I was on night shift at WeatherBug and when I got home and sat down to watch TV while I ate breakfast, I turned to one of the news channels (probably MSNBC or CNN) and found that they were playing their coverage from September 11th in real time at the same time it had occurred that morning in 2001. It was surreal and sobering to watch again.

Several country songs came from this tragedy, a way to process the events through music. Most know Alan Jackson’s song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and many are familiar with Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”. But one of my favorites is one by Daryl Worley called “Have You Forgotten”. The last time I heard this song on the radio a couple of weeks ago, my eyes welled up. I’ve pasted the lyrics below for your consideration.


“Have You Forgotten”

I hear people saying
We don't need this war
But I say there's some things worth fighting for
What about our freedom and this piece of ground
We didn't get to keep them by backing down
Now they say we don't realize the mess we're getting in
Before you start to preaching let me ask you this my friend

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell
And you say we shouldn't worry ‘bout Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

They took all the footage off my TV
They said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger, that’s what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it everyday
Some say this country's just out looking for a fight
Well after 9-11, man, I'd have to say that's right

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire and her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell
And we vowed to get the ones behind Bin Laden.
Have you forgotten?

I've been there with the soldiers who've gone away to war
And you can bet that they remember just what they're fighting for

Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yes, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
All those loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don't you tell me not to worry ‘bout Bin Laden

Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten?
Have you forgotten...


But in all things, God is sovereign. In ALL things. God is not weak or absent simply because men chose to reject Him and sin. God is ever-present, not just in tragedies to comfort the afflicted and mourn with those who mourn, but He is present in our everyday lives as well. It’s hard to remember sometimes when we are faced with mountains or storms and we take our eyes off our Sovereign God. And yet, still He reaches out to us, wanting to bring us to His side, to draw His Bride to Him.

On a day where we remember the events of the past and look to the future for hope, may we not forget the One that our hope comes from.


Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan


P.S. Just noticed that this week’s theme seems to be memories, based on this and yesterday’s blog updates. :) I’ll try to come up with something different for next week, promise!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book of Memories

My friend, Holly, recently posted a blog entry about memories based on coins she found in her pocket. This past weekend, I had an encounter with some very beautiful, life-affirming memories of my own.

For a while now, I have wanted to scrapbook. I always loved looking through other peoples’ books, allowing them to tell me their stories with pictures. My small group leader at the Focus on the Family Institute had one for each of her four boys, an idea that I loved. What really struck me was the joy the boys got from these books, eager to show anyone who would pay attention and allow them to show off the memories of their lives.

Several years ago, I had purchased some scrapbooking supplies but never really made use of them. But now, with a Creative Memories consultant for a best friend, I have started my first album! I decided that one of the easiest places to start would be my semester at Focus on the Family, the exact reason this blog was started. I figured I would have plenty of pictures to work with and lots of memories to use for the book.

So I poured over the catalog Holly gave me and made a wish list of items I wanted (for more than just one album!) then pared it down to what I would need to do the Focus album. We put the order in and waited patiently for the materials to come. In the meantime, I picked up a tote bag to cart my supplies around in. And then my order came! It was like Christmas opening that box and examining each of the items I had ordered. The beautiful green album, the earth tone pages, the tools...it was very exciting!

That was about a month ago and this past weekend, we finally had the chance to sit down so that she could help me get going on my book. I used Snapfish (which I highly recommend) to print off the 300+ photos that I brought with me to work with at Holly’s house. We spread our supplies out on the dining room table, set up a tool station on the island in their kitchen and got to work. Holly coached me a bit to get me started then let me run with it when I was a little more comfortable.

As I flipped through over 300 photos that spanned three-and-a-half months of my life and two reunions, I reminisced about the memories those pictures represented.

The first page in my album has two pictures. The first is of me and my roommates in Dr. Dobson’s office. God blessed me with the opportunity that semester to work with Dr. Dobson’s research assistant, Paul Batura, a wonderful author in his own right. I was absorbed with doing reading and research for Dr. Dobson’s upcoming book, “Bringing Up Girls”. Paul was a wonderful mentor and supervisor and had invited me to bring my roommates up for a tour of the executive wing at Focus on the Family. The photo is from that tour after we had all had our pictures taken sitting at Dr. Dobson’s desk, a fun bonding experience for all of us as roommates and friends.

The second photo looks like a postcard image of the International Building (where the Institute is housed) at Focus on the Family covered in inches of snow. We had just returned from our Summit (end of semester) retreat in the middle of a snowstorm. The snow was beautiful and undefiled. The whole world seemed to breathe a sigh and be at peace in the blanket God had provided. Of course, the arrival of 88 students and their teachers in the parking may have disturbed the silence a bit, but it was a joyous arrival. Thank goodness my roommate, Bethany, was from Michigan! After clearing snow off her car and helping other (warmer climate) students clear theirs off as well, we got ready to head back to the apartment when she looked over at me mischievously and asked if I’d ever done a donut in a car. I can’t say ‘no’ anymore. We proceeded to go to the back of the parking lot and do a few donuts before we left. :) I’m glad I have that memory with my roommate.

I could spend pages going over the photos in my scrapbook and retelling the memories behind each one: the funny faces my roommate Alisha made, what happens when you play with blue icing, Air Force football, exploring Colorado Springs, the surprises we pulled on each other, and many more. The memories contained there are immense and it’s hard to imagine fitting such a watershed time in my life into only a few pages. But I think it’s about more than just the photos and words on the pages I create. It is truly about the entire experience. A large part of it is remembering God’s grace and His work in my life that semester, especially through the girls He had me rooming with. I actually had the opportunity to talk to one of my roommates in the midst of the creative process one night about what I was doing. I have been able to relive some of those memories and recount some of the stories behind those photos as I piece together my album. It is truly more than just photos and paper and ink.

So while I can’t recount all of our adventures and lessons from the semester in this small space, hopefully soon I can show you my scrapbook and let it tell the story. After all, that’s what the scrapbook is for now, isn’t it? ;)


Soli Deo Gloria,

Meghan


P.S. If you’re interested in checking it out, the Focus Leadership Institute has a new name, new look, and new webpage! You can find them at http://www.focusleadership.org/. Don’t forget to tell them I sent you! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Factual Friday: "Green"

Is it really Friday again already? Wow, how the week has flown! So...ready for Round Two?

Fact: Ted Dekker’s next book, “Green”, was released this week...and my name is the first on the Family Christian Bookstore pre-buy list. ;)

Ted Dekker is one of my favorite authors. I still have a ways to go to read ALL of his thirty-some-odd books but I love the ones I have read. The books that I first picked up that began my introduction (and addiction) to Mr. Dekker were the Circle Trilogy (now, the Circle Series): Black, Red, and White. And now the Circle will be complete with the addition of Book Zero: Green. Check out the website for the book here: www.teddekker.com/green. I pre-ordered the book on the first day that I could (back in July) and will be picking it up today!!  I recently introduced my boyfriend to the Circle Series and he has torn through all three in about a month. Since I read them several years ago, it’s been a great joy to see him experience them for the first time and it has helped me to get reacquainted with the plot.
 
But the works of Ted Dekker extend far beyond just paper and ink. I was fortunate enough this past June to be able to attend the second occurrence of The Gathering in Franklin, TN. The Gathering is based on an event in the Circle Series and is a day-long experience in the world of Ted Dekker. Fans gather from around the globe to relive the stories told by Mr. Dekker and to have the chance to hear him answer some of their questions. The experience was amazing and the book signing at the end of the day where I got to meet Ted was the cherry on top. I’m hoping to be able to go next year as well to see what else Ted has up his sleeve.

I have known some people that I have introduced to Ted’s books who couldn’t even make it through one. There are others who have devoured his books in a matter of days and spent weeks processing their responses. And there are still others who have never heard of Dekker much less read his books. But they have read the Story he tells.

For you see, while Ted has written many books, there is only one Story worth telling. It will take the form of many plots, but the Story is the same. Dekker weaves the tale of a not-so-distant land with pools of color, a scabbing disease, and Elyon. Lewis told it in a land called Narnia with the lion, Aslan. Tolkien spun it in Middle Earth, ruled by the Ring, rescued by a Hobbit. In the Bible, we see a land tarnished by sin and a Savior who loves His people enough to sacrifice His life for them. Each one a tale a loss, love, separation, sacrifice, and redemption. Each one pointing us to the Creator who longs for His Bride to return to Him.

Where are you in the Story, my friend? Are you still separated from the One who desires to draw you to Him? Have you even met Him? He loves you deeply, dear one. He gave His life so you could find life in Him and rid yourself of the disease. So come and lose your life for Him. Dive deep.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Friday, August 28, 2009

Factual Friday!

For those following on Facebook (yay for RSS feeds!), make sure to check out my actual blog site @ http://morrepic.blogspot.com/. I’ve made some changes recently to the layout and added new pictures so don’t miss out! Now on to your regularly scheduled blog post...

Welcome to the first of my new weekly blog feature, Factual Fridays! In an effort to add some regularity to my blog, I wanted to have a weekly entry that allowed you, my readers, to get to know me and what I’m interested in. My hope for Factual Fridays is to offer you a fact about me or a piece of trivia about something I’m interested in then expound on that in the rest of the entry.

A BIG thank you to my best friend and fellow blogger, Holly, for the inspiration for these posts. Check out her blog, Gypsy Feet, and her weekly feature, Music Mondays.

So here we go!

Fact: I have a hurricane tracking sheet and the list of names for 2009 in my cubicle at work. Whenever a Tropical Storm forms, I put it on the chart with its name and update it twice daily.

I can remember the moment that I fell in love with meteorology. I’m not sure where we were driving back from, but in the eighth grade I was riding in the car with my mom on our way home as the sun was setting. I remember looking out the window as the sun shone from behind a cloud and told my mom that it looked like God shining down on the world. (For those interested in the technical, scientific name of what I saw, they were crepuscular rays.)

Weather is so central to our lives. It’s the first thing we check in the morning before we get dressed, there’s an entire TV channel dedicated to it, and it’s a popular conversation topic. We plan our activities and weekends around it, pouring over the forecast for days in advance to see what’s going to happen. Believe me, I know. I’ve been watching this weekend’s forecast for the entire week. I rejoice every time the percent chance of rain for Saturday night drops (currently stands at 30%). Even the Bible is filled with stories of how weather impacted people’s lives (the Flood, storms on the Sea of Galilee, etc.).

But what if the weather is more insidious than it seems at first glance? And I’m not just talking about tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Awhile ago, this article from Boundless got me thinking. Here’s an excerpt (the entire article is great too!):

“You don't have to be an "angry person" to have a problem with anger. There's an anger of the garden variety that's often expressed through complaining, grumpiness, a cutting remark, sulking self-pity, and turbulent frustration.”

“Take commonplace complaints about the weather. Complaints about the excessive heat or cold can either be a form of small talk or a form of unbelief in God's good providence. We don't typically think of complaining as anger, but when framed with the providence of God we are pressed to consider our motives.”

Whoa. I know I have definitely complained about the weather before. Who hasn’t? But “a form of unbelief in God’s good providence”? Whoa.

If God wills it to be hot and muggy one day, who am I to argue with him by complaining? If He has decided a certain day should include thunderstorms that interfere with the plans I had, why should I not acknowledge that maybe He changed my plans for a purpose and a reason far beyond my understanding?

So while I will still be checking the forecast for this weekend and praying that it doesn’t interfere with our (outdoor) plans for Saturday night, I will try to remember that God is sovereign...even over the weather.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2 Dozen Trips Around The Sun

“So how does it feel to be another year older?”

This question makes me smile. I can’t help it. It amuses me. :) As if the distinction between two days is drastic enough that I can express the difference between being 23 years, 364 days old and 24 years old. My answer is typically something along the lines of: “About the same as yesterday.”

Birthdays are an occasion to reflect, to look back on the past year and remember everything that happened. Twenty-three was quite the rollercoaster for me. I was living and working in Germantown when I was abruptly laid off. I found another job and moved back home with my family. I vacationed at a farm in Pennsylvania by myself and helped with farm chores. Around Christmas time, this wonderful man started pursuing me and we started dating in April. :) I visited two new states (Tennessee and Michigan) and got to meet one of my favorite authors in person (Ted Dekker). I saw good friends from the Focus Institute at reunion in Colorado and had the chance to meet new friends during my trip to Michigan. We also added a member to the family as Chelse’s adoption was finalized!

All in all, a wonderful, crazy, beautiful, exhilarating year that God blessed and watched over. Can’t wait to see what the next year holds and how God will work! :)

Soli Deo Gloria!
Meghan

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Little Angel

Today, I write to you with a sad heart. In my Technology Blues post, I introduced you to my co-worker, John, and his twin grandchildren, Ashley and Tommy, who had a genetic disorder. At the time of that post, Ashley had already passed away and the family was preparing for what time they had left with Tommy. Following is the e-mail we received yesterday, August 17 (last names have been removed for privacy):


To my friends and family, It is with a broken heart that I have to tell you that Thomas (Tommy) Carter G------ has joined his sister Ashley and Grandmother in heaven. Tommy left us at 11:45 AM today. My beloved wife Peggy has both her grandchildren with her now. I will let all of you know what the arrangements are and the charity that my daughter Kitty and Son (Son-in-law) Jaime have chosen. It is best Tommy is not suffering and now can be free of the restrictions his earthly body put on him. God Bless all of you

John


Please pray for this family as they go through the tragic loss of two young lives so close together.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More on Cooking

Just wanted to post a couple of links related to my last blog on cooking :) Sorry I haven't posted much this week. Life has gotten a little more complicated recently. I can't really discuss everything going on but just know that I haven't forgotten about you, my readers! Hoping to be inspired with more blog posts for next week. In the meantime, enjoy these links, courtesy of Dr. Al Mohler, about the fading art of cooking. "The Cooking Creature -- A Call for Recovered Wisdom" - Dr. Mohler's blog on the subject "The Lost Art of Great Cooking" - Dr. Mohler's radio broadcast with guest appearances from his wife and daughter Enjoy! Soli Deo Gloria, Meghan

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pot Roast, Anyone? :)

I went grocery shopping today! :) It felt so good to be getting groceries again. I enjoyed strolling up and down the aisles. I had my list, I knew what I needed to get, but there was something so enjoyable about not having to just pick up stuff for my lunches at work. I got to buy raw materials to put together dinner tomorrow night. It felt good! When I moved back home after being laid off in November, I went from sharing a kitchen with a housemate to occasionally tinkering in my mom’s kitchen. I have had the chance to do a little bit of cooking at home, but it’s usually whatever my mom has planned for dinner and I’m simply throwing it in the oven or taking over when she has to go to Bible study or run an errand. Tomorrow night, I set the menu and I will cook the meal. :) I’m really looking forward to it. I may not be the best cook, but I do like to experiment when I get the chance. Cookbooks are some of my favorite books. I have a small collection of them with most of the recipes untested. Currently, my favorite kitchen appliance is my Crock-Pot that I got for my birthday last year (currently in storage) because it has 3 different size bowls that fit on the same base. It’s basically 3 Crock-Pots in one. :) The next piece of equipment I’m looking to acquire is an immersion blender so any recommendations would be nice. I hope that this weekend you get to do something that you enjoy as well. Whether it’s going for a leisurely walk, working on your car or in your yard, or maybe spending time with your family, I hope God blesses that time as you employ the gifts and talents He has given you. As for me, I’ll let you know how the pot roast, “mashed potatoes”, and strawberry sorbet go over. :) Soli Deo Gloria! Meghan

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So Many Books, So Little Time

I love a good read. There’s just nothing like the feeling of getting wrapped up in a story and being mentally transported to other times and places. My dream is to one day have a room in my house that I can dedicate to being a library filled with all sorts of books. I’ve been trying to intersperse my non-fiction and fiction reading lately to keep some variety in my library. Sometimes it’s a lot easier said than done, but I’ve enjoyed some good books this summer that I might not have otherwise read until much later. The traveling I’ve done this summer has helped too since I seem to be able to read more when I’m on travel than when I’m at home. After being in Colorado for a reunion this past weekend, I have added to the collection of books that make up the “unread” portion of my library. While I’m thrilled at some of the deals I got (used books for $3!!), this segment of my library makes me a little sad. There are several books in that pile that I can’t wait to get to but then I also have books that I have already read that I want to read again. This has recently come up as I have watched Dan discover one of my favorite series of books…the Circle Series by Ted Dekker. Black, Red, and White are the current titles with the final chapter, Green, being released in September. I’ve already pre-bought Green and have signed up to be part of the Forest Guard (promotional street team). As we’ve discussed the Circle series, I’ve discovered how many details I simply don’t remember from my first reading of the books. Oh, I remember the overarching story line and some of the major plot points and twists, but nitty-gritty details seem to have slipped my mind. So while I debate the feasibility of reading the Circle series again before September, another question has taken up residence in my mind. How much more should I be desirous of God’s Word? In a world where others have to hide in order to worship and hear Truth, or single pages of Scripture are passed between believers because of their lack of freedom, what excuse do I have? Answer: None. There is no excuse for why I can’t keep a consistent quiet time. I have my moments where my valiant efforts pay off and I get in several days of quiet times to journal but then I fall flat on my face again. Thank goodness God forgives and reaches down to lift us up! So here’s to another attempt by a fallen sinner to study God’s Word. May He bless my efforts as I seek to delve deeper into Truth. “So many books, so little time So many hunger, so many blind Starving for words, they must wait in the night To open a Bible and move towards the Light” ~Michael Card, “So Many Books” Soli Deo Gloria, Meg

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

4

Four months ago today, a man stepped out in faith and a woman responded in trust. Four months ago, we started on a new adventure and a new chapter in our lives. Four months ago, Dan and I started dating. These past four months have been such a blessing and sometimes I stand in wonder at God's provision and providence in bringing Dan into my life. There are moments when I am simply blown away by God’s work in my life and His sense of timing. So here’s to four months of walking this path together. Looking forward to many more to come! :) Soli Deo Gloria! Meg

Friday, July 24, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane...

Just wanted to let my readers know that I will be away from the blog for a few days. :) I'm leaving this evening to go to Michigan with my boyfriend to visit his family and go to his cousin's wedding. Definitely excited to see his parent's again and finally meet his brother and sister. :) The only disappointment is that this trip is so short! We're only there for the weekend before coming back to Maryland Sunday night. Then, next Wednesday, I will be flying to Colorado for our 2nd Focus on the Family Institute (now known as the Focus Leadership Institute) reunion!!! :) So excited to see everyone out there. I'll be staying with my former roommate, Bethany, who stayed in Denver after we graduated. She is such a wonderful influence in my life and I'm so glad we had that semester together as roommates. Can't wait to see her again! Unfortunately, our other two roommates won't be able to make it. We'll miss you Danielle and Alisha! But they're both moving closer to the East Coast so I'll get to see them more often. Right, girls? ;) Prayers for safe travel would be greatly appreciated! Hope everyone has a great weekend! Soli Deo Gloria, Meg

Thursday, July 23, 2009

\kə-'mit-mənt\

Commitment: a: an agreement or pledge to do something in the future ; especially an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date b: something pledged c: the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

About 2 months ago, I made a commitment. I made a commitment to change. I knew I needed to do something and now an opportunity was before me.

Almost 2 months ago, I joined Weight Watchers at Work. Basically, it's regular Weight Watchers but we meet during the lunch hour at work and my company covers half the cost of the sessions. That was what tipped me over the edge I think. I knew all the health and other reasons why I needed to lose weight, but I've known them for awhile and it didn't seem to change anything before. So I decided that I needed to do something differently. Our group meets every Thursday. A consultant with Weight Watchers sets up shop in a conference room at our office. We come, weigh in, and then have our meeting. All told, it's a little over an hour each week. We also have access to their e-tools on the website. Besides having my money behind it, I figured the group accountability would help keep me coming. And it has.

The complete session will be 17 weeks. Today was week 8. Which means it was the 8th weigh in. And for the 8th week in a row...I lost weight! In fact, since the first weigh in back on June 4th, I have lost over 5% of my starting body weight! (Total of 13.8 lbs as of today!)

Because of that, I decided to look up some facts. I found this article (http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-gain-tons-of-benefits) which had this quote: "...when patients lose 5%-10% of their body weight, they lower blood pressure, reduce LDL ["bad"] cholesterol, improve glucose tolerance, and in general, lower the risk for cardiovascular disease." (stuff I'm at risk for) I've also found articles mentioning the lower risk for Type 2 diabetes (which I'm at risk for as well). But you know what else I found? Even modest weight loss (like my 5%) can increase my life expectancy! What better way to honor God with my body than to take good care of it? In my case, that just happens to mean weight loss.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

I think much of it comes down to stewardship. I wasn't being a good steward of the blessings that God had given me and now I have to learn how. That could be the case in many different places in our lives. For some it's their money, for others time, and for those like me our bodies.

After monitoring what I eat and getting out and walking more (Thanks Dan!), the journey has been well worth it so far. Hard, yes, but in my weakness He is glorified and gives me strength. With 9 more weeks left to go, I can't wait to see where God leads and blesses. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Technology Blues

Are face-to-face business meetings really necessary in this age of technology? With the advent of teleconferencing and video conferencing, distance is no longer a barrier for teams located in multiple locations. Just pick up a phone, turn on a computer, and presto! Instant connection! Now, there is something to be said for talking to people in person. Nonverbal communication is an important component in any kind of conversation. So in person meetings are great…for groups located in the same geography. But that’s the point. If you’re all in the same building, the same county even, then there’s no issue. But why make someone drive 1.5 hours one way for a maximum 2 hour meeting then have to drive 1.5 hours back? Especially with all the technological advances of our day! I guess I’m just venting. I had a meeting at the Navy Yard in DC today that could have very well been accomplished via teleconference. In fact, besides putting faces with names, there wasn’t much point in my attendance. But putting faces with names and getting away from my desk was kind of nice. It was also good to see a co-worker that I had worked with until he got transferred to the team out in Annapolis. He and I worked as a team in the field a lot before the decision was made to move him. Before that, his daughter had given birth to twins, one boy and one girl. However, the twins were born with a rare genetic disorder called Zellweger syndrome. They were told it was very rare for children with this to live even one year. But God provided for their birth in the midst of this, allowing them to be born at the only hospital in the country doing research on Zellweger’s. But sometimes God’s plans are not our own. About two months ago, the little girl, Ashley, passed away after only a few months of life. By God’s grace, He allowed her birth and the short time she had with her family. And by His mercy, He brought her back to His side and ended her suffering. But for some reason beyond our simple understanding and reasoning, her brother, Thomas (Tommy), is still with his family. I got to talk with John some today and because of the uncertainty of Tommy’s life their family is celebrating Christmas in July, complete with a tree and decorations. He also talked about how his grandson loves different tastes. He said that they’ll touch a lollipop to his tongue and he loves it! John says that this is the one joy in his young grandson’s life because of the disorder; the boy loves tastes! It seems so often that we overlook the simple pleasures that God has given us in life. I read a line in a book today that stated “Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful.” Yet how often do we miss that beauty? If “the heavens declare the glory of God…” (Ps. 19:1a), then how often do we miss God? When’s the last time you slowed down enough to smell the flowers around you? Ate a meal slow enough to savor each taste? Played with a baby and caught their infectious laughter? Took time to hold hands with your sweetheart and just enjoy their presence (one of my personal favorites)? So in retrospect, maybe the meeting wasn’t all that important. Maybe it could have been done by teleconference. But who cares? Tommy’s story puts things in perspective for me. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve been too busy to notice. Maybe you have as well. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27) Take some time to slow down and enjoy life and fellowship with God. Don’t miss out on His presence just because there is a to-do list. Maybe I should pay more attention to my own musings…