Attempting to be 'Faithful Meg'

Contemplation on life, faith, ministry, and motherhood; Knowing I don't always get it right

3 Myths About Creativity In Worship & Learning February 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 4:26 am

As I continue my series on providing Imaginative Encounters with God, we move from some initial thoughts on why using all our senses matters in drawing those we minister to, as well as ourselves closer to our glorious Creator; to some myths that tend to come along with the term “creativity”.  I’d love to hear some other myths you’ve come across when it comes to the word creativity.

 

Myth #1 Creativity is Synonymous with Artsy.  

That is, what is often considered to be artsy.  Things that are pretty, involve craft kits, and that would be the envy of everyone on Pinterest.

Confession:  I don’t even have Pinterest envy, because I’ve been to scared to even go near Pinterest out of my fear of being overwhelmed by all the ideas I know I couldn’t accomplish.

Creativity doesn’t have to be pretty to have an impact.  As far as I’m concerned, the messier, the better!  It’s about using our imaginations to problem solve, and to discover was to ensure that learning and worship are interactive and engaging in ways that go beyond words- but it doesn’t have to be the perfect drama production, neat little craft kits, or a beautiful mural.  It doesn’t mean that something should be overly elaborate requiring fancy supplies.  Creativity is at its best when we turn ordinary objects and use them in not so ordinary ways.  This can be in games, lesson illustrations, or even in worship practices.  Just because you hear the word creativity- that doesn’t always mean its time to pull out the art supplies.  Sometimes, yes! I hope that we all utilize visual arts in our ministries, but creativity is not just about art projects.

 

Myth #2 Creativity is Girly 

First of all, I think that we need to stretch our definitions of masculinity, and the Church should be a safe place for guys to feel safe not to have to live up to what mainstream media deems “appropriate masculine behavior”  However, this ties into the first myth about creativity and artistry.  We can find engaging ways to utilize the senses- and even use art projects that relate to the ladies and the gents without taking the guys too far out of their comfort zones that they disengage!

 

Myth #3 Creativity in Teaching is Only for Kids

As we work with teens and adults, we assume that as they grow in the ability to handle abstract thoughts, the need for hands-on learning is no longer needed.  Just because the ability to handle abstract thoughts exists, it doesn’t mean that simply listening to sermons and reading texts will be the strongest learning method for all that we are serving.  When we use the senses all we teach can then be solidified and have a longer lasting impact on all- kids, teens, and adults alike!

 

Are there any other myths about creativity in learning & worship that you would add to this list? 

 

Providing Imaginative Encounters with God Series Intro! February 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 7:14 pm

I recently had the honor to share some thoughts about providing imaginative encounters with God at Youth Cartel’s Open Boston.  (More thoughts on that great experience in later posts) Since my slides were more of a guide for me to stay on track giving my presentation, I am fleshing out the sections of my presentation in a series of blog posts on the topic! Here’s what I hope to explore in this series:

~Myths about creativity in learning & worship

~ Scriptural examples of multi-sensory teaching and worship

~Great resources to help with the WHY we should engage the senses beyond just written and spoken word

~Some important Do’s and Don’t’s to consider as we engage our students and congregations

~A forum of great ideas that have been shared and experienced in a variety of settings over the years (most recently at the Open Boston Seminar I led)

 

My mission to empower ministry leaders to take steps in towards engaging their faith communities with imaginative learning and worship has its roots in my childhood.  I was blessed to be brought up in the liturgical traditions of the Episcopal church, where I truly think all the sitting, standing, kneeling etc.  was exactly the type of environment which allowed me to engage with what was going on in church in meaningful ways from a young age.  We didn’t do all the singing all at once, and then have to sit and listen to one person talk up front for the rest of the service.  We sang, we prayed with congregational responses, we heard scripture (again with more congregational responses). We stood, we sat, we knelt.  The Gospel text was read from the middle of the center aisle.   I was known as a little one to even start dancing in the aisle during hymns- and people let me!   At the church I attended in middle and high school, the prayers were led from the center of the sanctuary, not from the front.  We also had the occasional  use of incense – truly helping all of our senses to be engaged in our worship experiences.   The place I grew up learning about God the most was at a Christian summer camp where staff and campers alike spent time learning about God through creation, through community, and utilizing all the of the creative means we had access to being at a great camp facility!  As I’ve grown, I have been extremely blessed to discover myself in different communities filled with people who have wonderful imaginations that help them discover ways for others to experience all that God has for us in the five senses we’ve been blessed with in addition to the written and spoken word.  The list of amazing mentors who have helped shape my understanding on this topic goes on for days. I can’t take too much credit for all of this, but to praise God for allowing me to find the right ministry and educational partners for the right seasons of my life!

 

When our whole beings are able to sense the wonders of our glorious Creator- how much more heartfelt would our worship be?  

When we are able to experience the love of Christ with fresh perspectives that go beyond words-

how much deeper could our walk with Jesus become?

 Join me in this great conversation!

 

Attempting a “Faithful Comeback” to the blog! February 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 10:41 pm

Well… that was a long hiatus from writing, honestly, I do miss it quite a bit.  Later in this week, I will begin a new blog series based on what I taught in a workshop at Open Boston this past weekend.  Right now, I want to give a brief update on what’s been going on leading up to me finally re-launching this blog.

Jumping into the world of actually feeling like a “grown-up”

Masters degree, turning 30, taking a temporary (but not as temporary as expected) aquatics director position at a local Y.  I became an official member of the local Young Life volunteer Leadership team.  I got a few more chances to preach at my church while my Pastor was away.  I am connecting with New England Regional Leaders with the National Network of Youth Ministry.   My husband and I just bought a house (!) and I’ve been blessed with the honor of being part of the speaking team at Open Boston this year.  All while still serving in my part time ministry position! I was so worried about what to do after graduating seminary not having to spend hours on trains, in my car, in class, reading, and writing papers, I think I overcompensated a bit.  I’m working that out now, and figuring out a better balance.  Trying to do a better job of following my own advice I wrote in previous posts.  That being said, I have also generated a better sense of vision for this blog, and how I could it as a resource for others on this journey of a life of following Jesus, especially (but not limited to) those in ministry!  Here’s some thoughts on what I want to write about in the months to come- any suggestions or offers of guest posts welcome!  Also- if you want a guest post for your blog- don’t hesitate to ask!

Coming up on the blog:

Imaginative Encounters with God: A Series on Multi-sensory learning and worship

Dealing with Trauma in the Midst of Ministry:  How can we be best prepared to support students and families in our ministries who are dealing with trauma.

Revised and Continued Reflections on the Events surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings

My leap into the world of Young Life ministry!

Thoughts on the unique small-church nature of ministry in old New England churches.

Any other suggestions?

 

The Days That Followed- A ‘Boston Girl’ Reflects- Part 2 August 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 7:47 pm

In the hours and days that followed the attacks at the Boston Marathon,  So many mixed feelings went through my head.  This was especially so in light of other events happening in our country and around the world.  My frustration with mass media began to set in through lots of different ways.   While I understand that it was important to keep our community up to date, I wasn’t prepared to see all the major news networks set up camp in Boston. This post is about my first day spending time back in Boston after the bombings and my personal experiences.

In all the tragedy, some of us wanted to have some moments distracted by our favorite TV programming for a laugh or to.  I don’t know if the major networks outside of the Boston viewing area got to see their regularly scheduled programming, but we didn’t.  Even in non-Boston news networks, we only heard about what was (or at that point, WASN’T) happening in Boston.   The racism and hatred floating around the internet (without any known suspects yet, mind you) was soooo frustrating.  I was encouraged to hear from friends who were okay, who were seeking a place to vent and share prayer requests, and to cheer one another up.  My BU School of Theology Community was amazing during this time.  So many were caught up in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, saw and heard things they hope they never have to face again.   I can’t imagine what may have been going on in their hearts.  But we used social media well to hold one another up in love.  One professor suggested a positive way to honor the significance of what happened.  Dr. Shelley Rambo brought forth the idea that we should wear our running shoes all week as a sign of standing together in love, and running towards justice and peace.  Upon hearing that a BU grad student was one of the victims, I took some old running shoes to bring to leave as a tribute at Marsh Plaza- the heart of the BU Campus in front of the Chapel. Mind you, I wasn’t expecting this to become as big a deal as it kind of/almost did.

 

Wednesday morning I head into the city like “any other Wednesday… except it wasn’t” to use words my friend Shawn used to open up our BU weekly chapel service later that day.  I went into the city a little early so I could walk a bit- It honestly felt great to be back in Boston.  After getting over the initial surprise of it, I was comforted by the heavy presence of National Guard and Police somewhat heavily armed.  I had my old running shoes, and grabbed a few things to put together to leave at Marsh Plaza.  The problem with news media swarming the city was that it had been two days and there hadn’t yet been much in the way of updates, so somehow I was so caught up in being grateful to be joining my BU STH beloved community, that I must not have noticed the reporters lurching (literally) in the shadows of BU Central Area at that moment looking for a good story about.  As I went to place my tribute, I looked up and saw a swarm of reporters all around me.  They started hounding me with questions and snapping photos and honestly it was one of the most awkward moments.  Apparently my picture was in a number of NYC news sources the next morning.  They even made a bit of a scene, as some of them weren’t all that respectful as they tried to cover our chapel service.  Somehow, I found that my name got tossed around the media pool, and some creeper from the Boston Globe even managed to hunt down my BU email address to ask me about the tribute I left.  I gave all the credit to my BU STH community in my reply, but by the end of the day, false rumors of suspects and arrests gave them something to gnaw on for a while.

Nonetheless, that time in Marsh Chapel together with our beloved community, was more meaningful than words could really describe.  I was incredibly grateful to see everyone safe.  It was a powerful experience to realize the depth of what happened by looking into the eyes of many who were downtown when the explosions happened.  I admit, I call myself a “Boston Girl”, but I live outside the city far enough that I can’t fully imagine what my friends who lived in the city and were in the city that day were going through.  Our love for one another grew even more this week, and it carried us through the tough moments, and it is a collective voice that tried to be a voice of hope, peace, and love in these seemingly dark days.

 

In all this- other events around the country and globe challenged me to consider what it meant to have a healthy perspective on what happened in Boston.  That’s what I hope to consider in my next post.

 

Boston area friends:  What moments stood out to you in the moments and days after the explosions?

 

More than 3 Months Later, A ‘Boston Girl’ Reflects part 1 July 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 5:19 pm

I admit this is a rather self-indulgent post, but one that I’ve waited a long time before writing.  After the events in Boston on the third week of April 2013 there were so many posts, and blogs, and I wanted to react. My twitter feed and Facebook accounts will indicate that I did often.  But I hesitated in writing my own blog post which would add to the noise. But I realize in the more than 3 months since that indescribable week, I still discover new feelings and emotions and thoughts on those events, and the varied responses since that week.   I had the season finale of “Boston’s Finest” on my DVR, and finally watched it last week.  I didn’t realize it aired the week of the bombings and was shocked to see the opening screen honoring the victims and first-responders.   Last night a local nightly program featured the healing process of survivors 100 days since their lives were changed by the events of April 15.  I’m sitting here editing this post wearing my Life Is Good Boston shirt the back of it reads “Nothing is Stronger than Love”  Boston has always been strong, is certainly stronger today, but Love is the strongest force in all of this.  Here’s the first part of my reflections on the week that changed the city I love more than any other.

Some of the roots of my reaction, as I’m guessing is the case for many others can be found 12 years ago.  It was a beautiful Tuesday my freshman year of college.  I had my first class, and was thrilled that my second class- a writing class including a creative writing assignment where we got to work on it outside.  I saw a campus facilities truck drive up to the flag pole, and lower the flag to half mast.  All the campus vehicles moving around campus all had talk radio on, and it all sounded very frantic.  Something wasn’t right.  I began to have a very unsettled feeling as I realized how quiet campus was except the frantic talk radio on  the maintenance trucks.  It was Sept 11, and I’m sure you can figure out the rest of the story.  While I grew up with the evening news on at home every night, this event turned me into a news junkie.  I never wanted to be in a place of confusion and uncertainty.  MSNBC became my homepage.  I realize it’s all about being a control freak which is strange because once I knew about the heartbreaking things happening in the world (I think of many events of natural disaster coverage) I felt even more helpless for not being able to do anything about what was going on.  After that day, I remember how going into Boston changed.  In the days after 9/11 there was a lot of worry in many metro areas across the country.  But after 12 years the thoughts of “could it happen in Boston?” weren’t as prominent as they once were.

So with my news-junkie self in the habit of keeping an eye on local coverage, I watched the end of the Marathon coverage on TV this Patriots Day, like I always have.  I had just come back from a trip to California, and had gotten up early to work at the Y to make up for the shift I missed the week before.  I put my head down for a little nap, waking up shortly after my alarm went off at 2:45 p.m.  I flipped on the TV to find something to put on while I started some chores.  The explosions had just happened, and I was certain that it had to be related to problems with utilities.  This neighborhood in Boston has had struggles with transformer and underground power lines frequently over the past year or so.  I couldn’t fathom it could have been deliberate.  When my husband called me to see if I had heard, and to see if I knew if all my friends in the city were okay, I realized this might really be more than issues with the utilities.  I don’t know why bad people like to do bad things on the third week of April, but growing up in MA I was never in school this week and was used to seeing coverage of these things on TV.  I think of Waco, the OKC bombings, and Columbine.  But those were always somewhere else.  This was in “MY” city.  The street I’ve strolled countless times, where my friends live and work… and run… and cheer on runners.  When the aerial video showed the red stains on the sidewalk  I almost lost my lunch and I wanted to cry- but was too shocked.

I have never experienced the double-edged sword that is the internet so clearly as this day.  I was blessed to have the tools of Facebook to hear from all of my Boston area friends- marathon runners, spectators, and residents.  The BU School of Theology Community banded together via social media in a way which was quick and caring.  Then there were the reactions of hatred and ignorance.   That afternoon, while there was still so much confusion and uncertainty, I also realized I should be a voice for my church family, as our Pastor was away.  I had kids in my ministry who had parents who were working in the Back Bay when these things happened, and I knew there was a good chance I’d need to provide a chance for them to process what’s going on.  Then there was the fear of opening my email box or answering my phone- fear that it would be news of someone we know hurt in the blast, and praying for the many pastors and youth workers who DID get that email or call.

These events changed how I feel about being addicted to staying connected to what’s going on in the news cycle, and challenged me to consider how followers of Jesus  should respond as a voice of peace in the chaos.  I will write about those things in the days ahead. For now, I’ll conclude this post with the words I shared with my church community in the hours following the explosions in Boston.

Praying for our beloved city of Boston. Sometimes, there are no words to express our confusion and sorrow, no easy answers for how to face situations such as these. We must seek to cling to love.

 

When Body Meets Soul June 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 8:27 pm

The reality is that no matter how we try to separate the two, the fact remains that a significant part of our soul care MUST include caring for our bodies.  Just as with the practice of a more authentic Sabbath, this is an area that is not easy for me.  Perhaps the reasons I re-launched my blog with this series on soul care is because putting my own struggles “out there” makes them real, and can encourage me towards a direction of doing something about it.  No matter how we try to swing it- God created us as living moving beings and created us intricately in the form of the human body.  God also used the lineage of our families- for better or worse- in that amazing process of forming our bodies.  No matter what excuses we find, we need to find ways to ensure we can care for our bodies.  It may be little things at first, but even the tiniest of steps are still steps.  (Something I have to remind myself of constantly)  I think that there’s often too much emphasis on the spiritual/mental/emotional health realm, forgetting how important our physical bodies are in that process.

 

CONFESSION:  I know I’m not exactly the perfect person to write about this.  I admit right here and now that I don’t get this right a lot, but I’ve been working on it a great deal this past year since moving, starting a new job, and finishing seminary.  I can say that the steps I’ve taken aren’t drastic, and that my physical body doesn’t LOOK like I’ve been more active and making better nutritional choices, but I do FEEL the impact of those changes.  Now if only I could get myself on a regular sleep schedule- a project that my poor mother will tell you has failed since my birth!  Still I recognize that writing about self-care and soul care would be hollow without bringing up how we take care of our bodies.

 

Student Ministry is a challenging field in which to work, and uphold healthy habits simultaneously.  One night at a Young Life Club event, I found myself trying to down a bowl of Lucky Charms doused in Mountain Dew.  When I was in full-time youth ministry, the first church I worked at had a specific McDonald’s and Chinese place which were the “go-to” places for meeting with leaders and teens alike.  It “upgraded” to Wendy’s when I began at a new church.  I live in MA, which means constant meetings at any one of the numerous Dunkin’ Donuts locations.  Never mind the goodies and snacks parents bring for regular youth nights and events!  I’ve had some good conversations with friends about finding ways to change those habits to healthier ones like walking in public parks, or maybe even if you share memberships to the area YMCA working out together while meeting.  It is not only healthy for you, but it’s also setting a great example for kids and families.

 

It’s not always easy, and I confess that in the month since I’ve graduated and been trying to get back into “new normal” schedule, it’s been hard to keep up the good habits I had formed during the school year, but It’s important to recognize its importance!  Here’s a great short post from Christ Schaffner with the basic “how to” checklist for keeping up care of our physical selves so that our whole self can thrive in making a difference in the lives of others!

http://conversationsonthefringe.com/2013/06/03/self-care-checklist/

 

So… Now What?! June 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 10:15 pm

Yes, that’s a question I am hearing a great deal now that I’ve finally finished my program at Boston University School of Theology.  It only took 3.5 years to complete a 2 year program!  As a pastor I know once said, I took the “contemplative pace”  My world has seen a whole lot since I posted last while in California.  I had plenty of intentions to keep writing- I have a draft waiting to be finished on my “soul care” series.  It’s a tough one because I think it’s the hardest aspect of self care for me personally, and I don’t want to post it sounding like a hypocrite.  It’s coming, really!

Days after returning home from a trip to San Francisco, (a place I can’t wait to visit again) it was Patriots Day here in MA.   I worked an early morning at the Y, and so was ready for a nap once I watched the finishes of the elite groups of the Marathon when I returned from work.  I awoke from my nap shortly before 3pm.  I’m sure you can all figure out the rest of the story.  I will write more about it in an upcoming post.  The range of emotions, thoughts and concerns for not only “my” city that week, but for the other tragedies taking place around the world still make me squirm.  With so much buzz online, especially in the blogosphere, I was nervous to add to the noise.  Now that I’ve seen what’s taken place in the weeks following that tragic day, I will have thoughts to contribute in time.  Still processing I think.

Then, my last weeks of my time at BU STH arrived with classes, papers, evaluations, projects, and finally graduation came. The people of that community are amazing.  I can’t imagine my life without having met some of the most amazing students, faculty and staff you’ll ever find there. Two amazing moments stand out to me from my final moments at STH.  First, the last chapel of the year, where the graduates filled the center aisle as hands were laid upon us in prayer.  Seeing the amazing cloud of witnesses all around me was astonishing I couldn’t contain the tears of gratitude.  As so much in my life was in transition- that place and those people were a rock for me. On the day of our hooding ceremony, The faculty lined up in front of the graduates, but then lined the walls to cheer us on as we walked from STH to the Marsh Chapel.  That was an unforgettable moment. It was so filled with love that I am grateful, but still here I am with a Master’s Degree sitting on my bookshelf in our home office, and I hear a lot of “NOW WHAT?” from everyone I come in contact with- even those closest to me who actually have an idea…  It’s a pretty loaded question with some answers, and honestly, also more questions.  I know that I am passionate about where God is leading the church I am serving at.  First and foremost, I feel equipped to do the job I have in a better way.  One of my biggest passions that have been stirred up in my heart through various experiences is being an advocate for others in student ministries.  I am exploring ministry partnerships to help bring my voice to that conversation.

So I might not have super concrete answers to the frequent question of “Now What?”, but I know that God is carrying me along a unique journey and I’m excited to taking strides down this new phase in my life, using my story through all sorts of different experiences to help create new stories, and perhaps even have the honor of speaking into the stories of others- so stay tuned!

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