When a Youth Group Lesson Hits Home

March 23, 2015

Sunday mornings I help out in my church's "junior high" ministry that consists of sixty-plus middle schoolers playing fooseball, talking a mile a minute before cramming around tables with their friends for the lesson put on by our awesome junior high youth pastor. 
Yesterday's lesson's focal point was how God never wastes our time. Using the Biblical example of Joseph, we read a part of his story from Genesis and the kids dove into dissecting how Joseph must have felt when he was betrayed by his brothers, and they then related stories as to whenever they felt like they were betrayed by friends...all after the hilarious ice-breaker of sharing about how they feel their time is wasted as middle schoolers. School was the top answer for that question.
As the youth pastor drove the point home of God being ever-near and never letting us down or wasting our time, I sat back and prayed for the precious hearts in the room to be good soil, but little did I know that later on I'd get a small bit of news that drove the lesson home in my own heart.
After church we traveled out to spend the day at my grandparents in celebration of my grandfather's recent seventy-ninth birthday. If you've read my book God's Will, there are two characters named Ted and Judy who have a huge impact on young Kathy and Elliott alike. The characters were named and modeled after my grandparents who I love dearly.
Grammy's smack in the middle. Surrounded by all her daughters and all her granddaughters.
Three generations...and Grammy's puppy, Lucky.

It was a low-key, nice time with everyone. Two cousins have significant others now, the majority of my friends are in some way or another which I am so genuinely happy for, getting to watch God unfold their love stories.
When I try to tell well-meaning family members this, they cut me off with, "You gotta get out there and meet people, Meghan Mary." 
Me, inwardly: Yes I do, because I live under a rock and only leave the house for work.
Not the point, however.
Whilst there, I was texting with a close friend and I get a, So there's this guy...
My heart dropped to my stomach and I was glad she couldn't see my face or hear my voice. Between the family members' well-meaning comments I thought I had let roll off my back, this text kind of hit me in a place I thought I was okay with for a good long while, actually. Meaning it had been weeks since I last wrestled with it. 
Some deep breathing calmed my heart and I focused on this friend and the details of, not training wheels but the ride of her life that may very well be unfolding. Her analogy made me smile, and I pray the Lord let it be so.
On the hour-long ride home from my grandparents, I plugged my earbuds in and listened to my worship playlist on Spotify, squeezing my eyes shut against the tears. I could've had a lot to say; I could've been bitter and angry and asked God "Why? When?" a million times...but I didn't. To be frank I was too tired and heart-sore to go down that road. God's doing, right there. I subconsciously realized I didn't have to put up a front of being angry or resentful because, just maybe, I've let go and let God more than ever.
The first song that came on was Hide Your Love Away by Anthem Lights. A coincidence? Yes. A heavenly one.
I just poured my heart out to God in half nonsensical sentences that ride home. Intermittently lifting my dear friend up in prayer and thanking God for His faithfulness and holding me up through everything...even if this single season be quite a while longer.
Listening to Holy Spirit by Kari Jobe, the lyric, I have tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves. Where my heart becomes free... the youth group lesson from the morning came to mind and I almost completely lost it.
God does not waste our time.
There is a purpose for the pain of smiling thru tears when you're so happy and rejoicing for friends, all the while the spot in your heart for one special guy remains empty. I've had friends
Even though I don't know a blessed thing about how my love story God's going to play out, I know He's holding it and working behind the scenes. And with such stark clarity more than ever, I realize and embrace that thank you Lord, that's not all there is to life. A guy and a book contract are two huge desires of my heart, but in the waiting, God does not waste my time here. The weekend came full circle for me in the backseat of our family car, in a way...
I went to a memorial service for a coworker's father on Friday. The man was a believer, and his memorial was the most hope-filled one I have ever gone to. Also the only non-Catholic funeral I've been to, so there's that. But as we sang Amazing Grace and listened to the pastor tell of the man's legacy he left thru his marriage of 65 years and three children, my heart ached for heaven.
I embraced my coworker afterwards and told her, "Your dad's legacy is an amazing one." Her eyes welled and she hugged me back and told me how she just wanted to talk to her dad and ask him how heaven was. How perfect eternity with Jesus was. 
It's a lifelong fight to not get swept up in the temporary trials and worries and hardships of life. It's a mind over circumstance battle to keep our hearts eyes focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and on the surety of eternity spent with Him.
My Lord and lover of my work in progress soul is changing my perspective slow but sure...loving me where I am, but loving me so much to not leave me here.

The Problem of Pain

March 18, 2015

~ C.S Lewis ~

If ever there was a quote that could sum up my "testimony" of sorts, this would be it. We talked about it in small group last night. I kept too quiet, as it hit home. I'm trying to work on being brave and opening my mouth to speak, but for now my fingers and written words will do the talking I didn't do, should have done, at small group.

When I was eleven I was diagnosed with dysplasia in both hips and after countless opinions and doctors visits, we decided the best option was to plan on having both hips replaced way down the line when I'm much older. We first went to an orthopedic doctor because I was limping and I complained of my legs being sore. So, going on eleven years, I have been living with this diagnosed chronic pain that has not gotten better, but slowly and surely worse.
I wrestled with the age-old questions, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and the, "If God loves me, why'd He let this happen?" These questions, spurred on by my pain and limitations, snowballed and, while there wasn't one moment of a turnaround testimony, I had to make a choice. I was raised in a loving, wonderful Christian home but the pain I had to get used to living with was what "planted a flag of truth in my rebel soul." It could have led to "final and unrepentant rebellion" as Lewis talks about. Whether we realize it or not, physical, mental and emotional pain all leave us with a choice.
Pain is something we can't control and something we as humans never choose. But it's a part of living in a fallen world in desperate need of a Savior.
Through my hip pain and countless other circumstances and struggles I've gone through especially in the last four years since graduating high school, I can honestly say I have never "felt" closer to God. Even during the dry spells. Even when I was stubborn and focused too much on the present and didn't have my eyes fastened on my Defender and Provider and lover of my work in progress soul. He has truly "shouted" in my pain and it's a tearfully sweet thing.
The problem of pain, of my pain which just happens to by chronic, physical, is not really a problem at all. It has been an instrument the Lord used to draw me to Himself. To throw myself on His grace and mercy instead of trying to be Superwoman. My "problem" of pain actually was a huge part of why I wrote God's Will
My pain has been getting worse of late in my right hip. The hip that was the better of the two to some degree. It's thrown me for a loop these last few months because it used to be my strongest leg to lean on. I may have overcompensated for my left hip being more painful and now the right is. And this scares the living crap out of me, ya'll. But there isn't so much of a problem with this pain I deal with day in and day out. It's taking me another level deeper into the Lord and His love, and it's also refining away the dross of this sinner's soul.
So you see, this problem of pain is one that planted a flag of truth within my rebel soul once upon a time ago and while I could say I'd trade my pain in a heartbeat, I know it's my burden to lay at the foot of the Cross day in and day out to strengthen my reliance on the Author and Finisher of my faith.

Origin Story of A Northern Belle

March 16, 2015

Grab a cup of something hot, or cold, whatever floats your boat.
It's story time.
Once upon a time a young girl wanted to break free from the joint webspace she shared with her mother and sister. Being the persnickety perfectionist she can be, it took weeks to decide the perfect name for her very own online writing haven. During a time when skirts, period drama and high school "drama" of, what to do with my life? were her everyday, this young girl who thought she was all that at times, wanted the space to be 200% her

This old fashioned lass loved the old hymns and was working on her first real novel, a family saga set in the Great Depression. Thoroughly engrossed with finishing the first draft, this fledgling writer stretched her wings to blogging and settled upon the moniker of Just As I Am. She thought perhaps if she blogged unapologetically herself about all she was passionate about, { American history, historical fiction, piano, crocheting, old movies, antiques, the Lord's work in her life } that confidence would permeate real life away from the keyboard. Little did she know it would take quite a rollercoaster of emotions, trust exercises with the Lord, and claiming the faith she was raised with as her own for her to stand confidently and not have a care about what other people think.

Little did this oh so young girl know that her last year of high school would be a tough one, she would finish and rewrite her Great Depression novel, and God would turn all her high idealistic plans on their ear and she'd be thrust into the working world filled with daunting opportunities for independence and finding her place in her home, her family, at her new church, and with her work.

Her written words far from forgotten, this young miss did not so much tackle new-found young adulthood not continuing her formal education as she did stumble through it. Those first two years of working threw her for a loop, and so many lessons were learned, layers were peeled away that she didn't know her heart needed to shed, and finally confidence and the deepest faith in the Lord she could profess began to abide deep in her heart and she stood back up again.

If you look through the now sparse archives of this blog, you'll see this young lady recently mistaken for her 19yr old sister's mother, grow from an idealistic, hopelessly romantic and often legalistic girl to a woman who is striving to own her work in progress heart, and falling in love with her Lord and Savior more each day.

No Surrender | a Tale of Two Brothers

March 14, 2015

'Cause we made a promise we swore we'd always remember.
No retreat, baby, no surrender.

The elder brother was taller. Rebellious. Reckless, even. But loyal to the core. 
The younger brother looked up to his older brother, but often didn't understand him. They bickered and argued even in the thick of the Battle of Gettysburg when they fought at the base of Little Round Top.

Unbeknownst to the other, these brothers had promised their Ma to look after the other.
Two long years of war later, the older one took it almost too far and almost got himself shot at one point before they charged over the stone wall near Devil's Den and crossed closer to the Wheatfield.

Blood brothers on a summer's night with a vow to defend.
No retreat, baby, no surrender.

The older brother wasn't too keen on the idea of his younger brother getting his hopes up about a girl at home who was from a class above them and acted like it. But the war changed all their hearts.
And they would never be the same again.

Just a glimpse into what I've been working on lately. And spoiler-free because I'm mean like that. 
And yes I used Bruce Springsteen lyrics in a blog post. About my novel{s}. My dad's quite proud.

The rain is over and gone

March 11, 2015

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11&12

My favorite cat, Doc, enjoying the fresh air from the window above my bed.
The rain isn't totally over and gone. Pittsburgh winters are very gray and wet. Actually we rarely get straight sunshine, but I digress. 
This long winter is finally becoming a memory with the arrival of over 40 degree temps, melting snow and not having to bundle up every time I leave the house. My grandfather is doing well, back at his apartment. Our dishwasher and dryer that broke within days of each other--that was fun--are both fixed thanks to my awesome dad. 
And...perhaps it's spring. Perhaps it's me getting my crap together.
Perhaps not.
It is most certainly God that enables me to write here today--to keep me accountable!--that I am back in the swing of things from head to heart in my writing. Amongst the Roses' sequel, A Rose Long Awaited has a few thousand words in, but before I go much further this pantser-writer is going to head off here, put on Spotify and work on outlining/plotting.


March 8, 2015

I am far from flawless, but a work in progress who is trying to own the truth of the Word that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Loved, free and treasured just the way God created me to be.
Blemishes you can count in the photo, my limp I'm done trying to hide, my figure and size, my unruly hair and crazy long barely-there lashes...all of it is me but I refuse to let these things define me. 
I am simply HIS creation, and God forbid I ever say or act in a way to tear down His workmanship.
I woke up like this.