Snow Camp and Rule Breakers

This past weekend I headed north with 700+ students, my fellow small group leaders (Aren’t we a good-looking bunch?), coaches and church staff to SpringHill Camp for what is lovingly referred to as “Snow Camp” 2018 edition.

I usually take a lot of flack around this time of year. Everyone loves reminiscing about my very first weekend as a small group leader when I showed up without a sleeping bag, or a pillow, or shampoo or conditioner or body wash or …well okay, the underwear was a bit extreme; that’s fair… but I promise you there are places that provide all of the other things for you. For the record, they’re called hotels and they’re amazing.

Each time I go to one of these weekends, I end up learning a little bit more.

A little bit more about roughing it (with plumbing and heat and electricity, of course). I remembered all of my clothes this trip. I packed a flashlight. A selfie stick (obviously). Wool socks. Heavy duty gloves. Layers. I even packed Poo-Pourri for the cabin which I assure you was indeed worth it. Have you ever spent a weekend with a cabin full of people and camp food? Enough said.

A little bit more about people, most of whom seem to function a little bit better on very little sleep, camp cuisine, and copious amounts of coffee than I.

And a little bit more about myself.

Some years it’s spiritual. Or it’s about my friendships and the joy of being around other people. Sometimes it’s about just how competitive I really am. This year, it was about caring less about rules and what that feels like. It was about fun. About taking a walk on the wild side!

Okay, the moderately untamed side.

Fine, the mostly tamed side.


I’ve been mulling over some thoughts recently about rule following and what that looks like as a child of God. Spoiler alert: I don’t think it means what I thought it meant. 

Growing up, we’re taught rules of obedience. Think 10 Commandments. We have should and should nots to consider and, for a natural born rule follower like myself, it can feel pretty nice to be able to draw lines down the split of right and wrong. I am a great rule follower. That must mean I’m a pretty good follower of Christ, yes?

I’ve been reading more and more of the Bible recently and the people in these stories have one glaring thing in common: They’re rule breakers. Rule followers like me subscribe to certain truths; 99% of them follow rules because they favor security (that statistic has been entirely fabricated based on my own personal truth). Some of these Bible characters are reformed rule followers, I’ll give you that. But these are people who are called to stand out against the rules. Break the norms. Confront leadership. Tell them they’re wrong. Social status? See ya. Respect among your peers? Nope. Let’s be honest, on top of having little concern for security, a lot of them were grade A weirdos (I get that that’s not really relevant here but I needed to get that off my chest).

If we’re made up of a series of strengths and weaknesses rather than good and bad then I’m starting to see my friends with a little bit more of that rule-breaking edge as having a competitive advantage over me in the realm of being a Christ follower. *GASP* They’re less prone to worry and more prone to action. When God calls, are they more inclined to move?

Spontaneity is not one of my strengths. If someone tells me that I need to move across the country and leave my things behind, you know what I would say? No. I have a job. People depend on me. There are loose ends that need to be tied up. What would people think? I like it here. I have food in my fridge that I need to eat first.

There is a pattern of movement to which society subscribes, to which I subscribe. They’re essentially social rules and I’m starting to see that following them doesn’t make me a great Christ follower.


So this weekend, I let my girls fling rubber frogs across the auditorium long after the time to do so had passed. I encouraged them. I joined them. I signed my name on a bunk; it always seemed wrong as a kid but I did it. I ran up to the edge of the tubing hill and went face first over the drop. The tubing hill attendant assured me that doing so wasn’t breaking the rules but it still felt a lot like breaking the rules.

They’re little things. They’re not illegal and they’re not hurting anyone (There may have been a few errant frogs but I promise they were only minor annoyances). The point is, these things aren’t exactly following the rules either. And since I’ve been taking a more honest look at the strengths of those around me, I’ve realized that I need to flex that muscle if I want it to work when God calls on it.

The Family Teeter Totter

How do people balance married life with child(ren)?

I’ve been going at it for three years now and I don’t think I’m very good at it. They say practice makes perfect but everyone in my family keeps growing and changing. The second I think I’m on to something, I run into a wall or trip and fall flat on my face.

Do you remember what it feels like to be spontaneous?

I dream of being spontaneous but married life with child(ren) seems to be full of plans. Calculations. Routine. Expectations.

Do you want to go out with friends? Are you leaving your family at home while you’re out? You can’t bring your child but what about your husband? You’re leaving your child at home? Is married spontaneity worth $40+ to you to find a sitter? You want family spontaneity? Have you packed the snacks? Has she had her nap today? What time is bedtime?

 

I don’t know if it’s healthy to live a social media life different from reality. The best pictures, biggest smiles, softest light. It all seems so perfect.

A lot of people I know are in an unhappy phase of marriage right now or are making plans to end marriage. I’m not naive enough to believe this is true for everyone but I think this social halo around family life makes the unhappy phases seem permanent. They’re stifling and we feel like there are few people to reach out to because everyone else is doing so well.

When we speak up, we feel like naysayers. Negative influences. Outcasts.

I had a friend tell me the other day that her boyfriend was so easy to get a long with and I scoffed. They’d just started dating and I thought back to that time. When it was easier. When we were on our best behavior. Our own bank accounts. Our own schedules. When our time together was chosen and treasured in a way that marriage dulls.

I’m not trying to say that family life is terrible. It’s incredible. But incredible doesn’t mean perfect. Family life is hard. Incredible. Beautiful. But also hard. Fred and I talk about wanting a better marriage a lot and we’re constantly talking about ways to raise a lady. A healthy child. A contributing member of society.

Are you going through a hard phase right now?  

Fred and I are working our way out of one for no reason other than life happens, it happens quickly, and it usually skirts expectations (and so do we as human beings – even if we love each other!). It strikes me that we don’t typically talk about the hard times when we’re in them. We often talk about them when we’re clear on the other side. Happy, so we can be an inspiration to others. How alienating is that happy message when you’re in the trenches?

Can we please start normalizing unhappy?


When I have written about marriage in anything less than a glowing light in the past, I have received feedback that people I know are talking about the well being of my marriage. Not to me but to others. We call that gossip and it isn’t a sign of care. If you care, you’ll ask me directly how we’re doing and I will tell you that Freddy and I are capable of weathering the hard seasons of marriage for the incredible seasons. We know that seasons are a reality of life and that the harder seasons make the good seasons sweeter. We are not divorcing; we don’t even talk about it so please calm down and let me be real about what it takes to be married and raise a family.

 

Love loud. Don't Lose loud.

So many thoughts. Race. Through my mind. At this very. Moment. I’m having a difficult time. Piecing. Them. Together. Bear with me.

I am inspired. And inspiring?

I’ve been told lately that I have become some sort of inspiration for – (get this…) – spontaneity in others’ lives. Me, the child who spent years of her youth wrapped up in her mother’s long skirts, who wouldn’t spend the night at friends’ houses because she liked to be at home, who was afraid to take risks or put herself out there. I’m inspiring others.

The Lord really does work in mysterious ways.

So, I think it’s appropriate to say thank you for inspiring me so that I might pay.it.forward. Today it feels like there is no greater gift than bringing others through something you have had to be brought through yourself. And I’m still working. Still finding inspiration. Still challenging myself. I’m inspired. And, it would appear also, inspiring.

I leave for Colorado today. My first solo flight. Meeting up with friends. Acting spontaneously. Living in the now. Embracing the unknown. My skin is tingling with anticipation.

I have lived my life by rules. Golden rules. Posted rules. Unwritten rules. I have begun to make my own. To break my own too.

Future, you excite me but I’d like to pay you no mind until your arrival. I have much better things to do today.

I haven’t packed yet. I leave in 3 hours for the aeropuerto.

  • Listen to this song: http://www.myspace.com/matesofstate – The ReArranger.
    • It caught my ear yesterday in a dressing room. And I wish I would’ve learned this lesson earlier in life. To just let things go. To shake them off. To STOP MAKING MOUNTAINS OUT OF MOLE HILLS. I’ve caused many a problem in my life by over analyzing things. It’s a shame.  Love loud – I’m tired of losing loud.

And now I'm 23.

Yesterday, I got older –  just as I am growing older now – but it was marked with a celebration of sorts. I awoke to a dirty chai latte in bed, hand delivered by my beautiful mother. She planned a day for me that included a massage, a visit to a penny candy shop, lunch at a new (to us) restaurant, and shopping before heading over to The Royal Oak Brewery to meet up with some friends of mine.

Despite the inclement weather, we made the best of the day. We trudged through wet streets, tackled detours and closed cafes, and very likely walked in and out of every store contained within the mall experiencing minimal success (I did buy a Miranda Lambert CD, however). I love her (my mother, not Miranda Lambert – well, okay, her too but you know what I mean).

And now I’m 23. Twenty three years old. It’s a good reminder that Proverbs 19:21 will be a constant in my life: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Amen. None of the projections from my youth would’ve led me here. Funny thing is, none of my worries would’ve either. Makes projecting and worrying seem just a little more futile, doesn’t it?

Yes, the futility of worry. It’s something that I am all too familiar with and yet must continue to fight against. Here’s a strange question: Do you ever find yourself refusing to worry but then feel so lost without it that you slip into a state of inaction? I wonder sometimes if all I’ve done by refusing to worry is…just that. Rather than replace the time I would’ve spent worrying with something productive, I just cease to worry. “Live and let live.” “Roll with the punches.” “Don’t bother yourself with that.” “C’est le vie.” “Take it in stride.” “Just let it go.”

I have adopted a ton of passive phrases lately which have honestly helped me to be more upbeat, worry less, and overlook little things that I would’ve previously made into big things – but what I’m missing now are action verbs. I think it hit me today that my lack of worry hasn’t given way to productivity. There has to be more effort than merely ceasing one thing to begin another. I had imagined that once I cleared my life of the negatives, the positives would take over. But it would appear that I have miscalculated just a touch. Missed one step along the way. It’s easy to think in theory that life would work out in such a way but it’s unrealistic in application. And, worse yet, the inaction makes it a lot easier to revert to the known – the worry, the stress, the frustration over things not working out the way I wanted.

So what to do next? I need to figure out what I want and what it will take to get me there. Is this the natural progression? Live in the now to get comfortable looking at the future with an honest eye? Let’s recap:

(1) Enjoy living in the now.

(2) Act spontaneously.

(3) Embrace the unknown.

Okay. I like this. And I don’t think planning for my future actions negates my mantra. Enjoy living in the now – Appreciate each day for what it is. Take the good with the bad. Find moments to cherish daily. Nothing about the future, which means against the future either. So what to take from this? Well, I will not live today for some relief tomorrow. I will live today for today and tomorrow for tomorrow.

Simple things really – but are they? How many times have you been told “It’s just for a year or two.” I was talking with a friend the other day and thankfully we were both hit by the absurdity of that statement. Since when has life been something to get through? It’s as if we tell ourselves “I can forgo these years of my life for the vague hope of some future pay-off.”

…*Ahem* Excuse me while I nervously clear my throat …

What?! The thing of it is (ha), there are no guarantees in life! Two years from now, you’ll find yourself projecting again into some future happiness. It’s inevitable in this day and age; we are taught to continuously look for the next upgrade, edition, etc. But that’s not something we ought to apply to our lives. Enjoy living in the now! Enjoy the planning? Yes. Enjoy planning. And do plan! Wait…does doing so negate step 2?

Step 2: Act spontaneously. Planning doesn’t sound very spontaneous. Okay, but why is this my mantra? Because I’ve planned every little detail of my life in a stifling manner? No. Because I’m afraid to step out and take risks. Because I over think and acting spontaneously doesn’t allow time for that. Because it’s a whole lot of fun! So I brought this into my mantra because I need more of it in my life, not only it. In its original context, it’s “act” not “live” spontaneously. Living it – wouldn’t that be a feat? It would become such a difficult task that I would end up planning to be spontaneous! How contradictory. So I need to act spontaneously. I need to say “Yes!” to the things I want to do but am afraid for fear of not succeeding…but I can’t stop planning. I need to redefine the way I plan. Plan for the things that I want and plan in time to jump at opportunities (Sound like planned spontaneity? Sure, whatever…but it fits me. And as Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) would attest, that’s a good thing!). Have a plan. But have a malleable plan. A plan with options. A plan that doesn’t unravel me in the event that it itself unravels before me. Be capable of redirecting, -defining, and -routing. Spontaneity, right?

Embrace the unknown. Well, as if that isn’t every day? I think I’ve argued my point. But as most writers (I’d imagine) do, I’ve now analyzed every aspect of this “Ah-ha” moment without actually doing anything about it. Damn. Rewind. I need to figure out what I want and what it will take to get me there.

  • I want to live in Grand Rapids.
    • I have a house that I’m waiting on and waiting on and waiting on. Give me an action verb. I need to give a week deadline and move elsewhere if the house isn’t ready by then. No one’s fault. No hard feelings. Just necessity. Making what I want a reality. Verb? COMMUNICATE.
  • I want to organize my things.
    • I mean, I’m living between a garage, basement, room, and vehicle – none of which are my intended permanent residences. Excuses? YES! But they’re terribly valid. Regardless, let’s get it together. Action verb? ORGANIZE.
  • That wretched, wretched paper.
    • Okay, so it doesn’t really fit in this list because I have never not wanted to do something as much as I have not wanted to complete this paper. It’s boring to me. FIN 48: The Financial Interpretation of the Accounting Standard Related to the Uncertainty of Income Taxes as Reported in Financial Statements and Its Effect on Grand Rapids Businesses. ZzZzZ…Sorry, what was I saying? Ugh, I am in desperate need of an action verb here. Or a plan. Or motivation. Anything! …Anything? …This one evades me. I’ll come back to it at a later date.
  • I want a career direction.
    • Corporate accounting? Accounting in a way that it helps me to meet non-profit goals? Non-profit graduate program? Non-profit career without the graduate program? Writing? Graduate program for writing? I need to narrow these down. How do I narrow these down? I need to sit down with my advisor. But I’m terrified to do that without having completed my paper. Hmph. Perhaps that’s my action plan. Ew. I was hoping I could get away with that one for longer. Verb? I’m annoyed to even type this: WRITE.

My list could go on for pages and pages but that’s a good immediate start. And that’s where I’ll leave it in an attempt to turn word (even action verbs) into action. [Side note: A big fear of mine is writing about the same things over and over. I feel like I’ve touched on this list before and my inability to act. But I suppose that’s the story of life. We often find ourselves on the hamster wheel. Revisiting old steps. Wish me luck.]

“Good Life” One Republic

Teach a man to fish…

Last night I opened my graduation present from my parents. A Garmin! Never was there ever a more appropriate gift – and just in time for my mid-month travels to Chicago! I already mapped out the distance between my two Chicago friends. 16 minutes separates them. It’s a small world after all! I fully intend on keeping the GPS device on my hip at all times. This way, I figure, I can get lost on purpose. I enjoy getting lost but on occasion, it gets a little frustrating when I take myself 3 hours out of the way. This way I can better manage the time I spent lost.

I’ve been thinking lately about my quest for spontaneity. I am, at this point, probably the most spontaneous I have ever been. It’s true. I have side-stepped the current that sweeps everyone home or toward a predefined career. I have plans to travel. I have made trips back and forth between the east side and the west side of the state on nothing more than a whim. I jump at opportunities I would’ve previously over thought like staying a night in Kalamazoo, couch surfing to spend an extra day among friends, taking a spur of the moment road trip with a friend, planning a trip to South Carolina or a Michigan beer tour on a week’s notice. …It’s freeing in a way, not over thinking. And it’s strange to think that not all people can appreciate how far I’ve come.

My mom describes me as a “homebody.” While growing up, I hated spending the night at other people’s houses; you could always find me wrapped up in my mom’s long skirts; I would cry and cry when she dropped me off at school. Even looking back as recently as this summer and my travel abroad, I feel like I spent too much time missing home. I had a great time, but I think I held myself back from fully appreciating my time there this summer. I was too concerned with what I was missing out on back home. I missed out on a lot of memories when I opted to take my internships, as well. For a long time, I regretted accepting my first internship because I came back to a different friend dynamic and conversations I wasn’t a part of – I was so caught up with what I had missed that I failed to appreciate what I had gained. I think my goal of embracing the now and living spontaneously has really helped me to get over that. When I’m spontaneous, I don’t sit down to weigh the pros and cons. I make a decision and enjoy it. It’s a simple thing, really, but it’s made a world of difference in my life. It’s a more peaceful way to live, without all that worry or regret.

I’ve decided within the past week that I want to go fishing. When I was in first or second grade, our class took a trip to a trout farm. I cried and refused to participate. The boys kept running up and kicking the buckets of water holding the bloody fish just to watch them flop around. It turned my stomach. I spent the whole time defending the buckets and chasing off the rapscallions. Afterwards, our teacher mandated that we write thank you notes. My mom recalls that mine went something like this:

Dear Trout Farm Workers,

Thank you for letting us come to the trout farm, but I think it’s very cruel what you do.

Sincerely,

Megan

If someone had mentored me early on, I could’ve been a great PETA activist. But instead, just shy of 23 years old, I have decided that I want to fish. My stipulation is that I won’t catch and release – some people say that’s humane but I don’t see how piercing something and sending it wounded back into the waters is humane – instead I will eat what I catch. I eat meat anyway so it’s not like I’m doing any more harm by fishing than I would going to the grocery store. AND it should be noted that I will NEVER go to a trout farm to fish. Those memories still haunt me. But that’s my new goal. Fishing. I feel like it’s a worthy goal. I’m also aware that I may hate the experience and cry when I catch the fish. I’ll never know if I don’t try. Hey, you never know – maybe it’ll turn me into a vegetarian!

By the way, good news regarding my April 29th post!

Since when has spontaneity required planning?

Here’s a puzzle: Tonight was going to be spontaneous tonight – turns out, the activity of choice is fully booked in several cities. I guess this is my true test for spontaneity – I have approximately one hour to come up with another good plan!

God’s got a way of keeping me honest with my mission 😉

Now I’m waiting for everything to come together. After several texts and phone calls to various people, it looks like there’s a plan. How will it unfold? No one knows. But I do know that I will spend tonight with good people – what more could I ask?

P.S. Thanks to Lina for being my first reader other than my mom – haha.