The Life of Maestra Megan

Adventures in the life of a Costa Rican Missionary

One Anothers August 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — ticameg @ 9:23 pm

alone in a crowd

Does church ever feel like this to you?

Like you are alone in a crowd?

I suspect many of us have experienced this at one time or another.  My best friend and her husband attend a church near their home.  On Sundays they go in, listen to the service, exchange nods and greetings with a few people, and then leave.

Have we convinced ourselves that this is really what we want?  Or are we just settling for what we can get?

The Christian faith was never meant to be lived in isolation.  The Bible speaks clearly and repeatedly about the church as a community, a body, a family.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,  so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.  ~Romans 12:4-5

 

So now you… are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.  Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.  ~Ephesians 2:19-21

Church isn’t a building, a sermon, or your best clothes on a Sunday morning.  Church isn’t reading the Bible, drumming up a saintly attitude or dropping the name Jesus into every conversation.

Church is one another. This was always God’s intention. 

one-anothers

I’m proud to be part of a congregation that takes this concept seriously.  We are a small international group from many different backgrounds, yet it’s incredible to see the connections that happen regularly, even when we have to cross town to do so.

In our church, the “one anothers” look like:

  • Accompanying someone to their oncologist appointment.

  • Picking up the tab for someone else.

  • Making sure everyone has a ride home.

  • Gluten-free and vegan options at events.

  • Celebrating one another’s accomplishments and news.

  • House sitting and helping each other move.

  • Sharing the abundance of a garden harvest.

  • Attending concerts and yoga classes given by someone in the congregation.

This is the kind of love, support and community that reflects the heart of God. 

I sincerely hope that you have a community close at hand, people you can reach out to when you need a flat tire changed, a listening ear, a babysitter, a home-cooked meal, or help with paperwork.  And I challenge you to think of creative ways to be the heart, hands and voice of Jesus in the everyday life of others.

ecf togher

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MESSING UP August 20, 2018

“I messed up,” she said, in a small, wavering voice.

 

It was the end of Sunday school and we were working on a maze.

 

“Don’t worry,” I told her, “mazes are made for messing up.  Just keep looking for the way out.”   Her older brother was quick to reassure her as well.

 

I commented that the maze seemed a little tricky.  “Did you mess up?” her brother asked me, in all innocence.

 

Of course not. I eyeballed every possible route before committing my colored pencil to the paper.

 

That’s pretty much how I handle most of life.  Cautiously and slowly.

 

I allow for all the factors that might affect any given situation, and carefully consider the options.  To me, making the correct decision is more important than the time it takes to do so.

 

And you know what?  It’s exhausting.  I wear myself out—and others—as I calculate all the pros and cons of each alternative…especially the cons.  I spend most of my time thinking about the risks and what might go wrong.

 

I can come across as negative or unnecessarily critical with my incessant questions and comments.  (I’m working on this.)  From my perspective, I am gathering data, as much as possible, whatever information is necessary to understand the situation or improve the outcome.

 

Sometimes it’s too much data.  I am about to take a trip overseas; I’ve known about it for months, I have enough information to plan four different itineraries, and I am only just now finalizing the details of my travels.

 

That also happens frequently.  I make decisions at the eleventh hour…after hours and hours of deliberation.  I can’t figure out if I’m a procrastinator, a perfectionist, or just over analytical.  Perhaps all three.

 

Sometimes I am so wary of taking the leap, that I don’t.  And then miss out on something wonderful.  On other occasions I make major decisions quickly, only to be plagued by months of second-guessing myself.

 

It’s pretty stressful.  I don’t like living this way, and I don’t recommend it.

 

On the inside, I’m just like that little one in Sunday school, terrified of messing up.

My heart aches every time she is in tears (it happens frequently), knowing that the self-inflicted pressure can crush a 6 year-old girl just as much as a 40 year-old woman.

 

Whenever possible, I hold that precious girl after class, and whisper prayers into her ear that are for myself as well:

 

Father, I am your child. 

I am loved, I am wanted, I am accepted.

I am forgiven and free.

I am safe. I am cared for. I am peaceful.

I can do all things through Christ.

I am a treasure.

 

Gaining Ground June 26, 2018

snipers all 2

About a month ago, I had the privilege to be one of the translators for a tactical police training.  A large group of active and retired U.S. law enforcement officers came to Costa Rica as volunteer instructors.  17 Costa Rican officers, representing special forces such as Presidential Police, Federal Investigative Police and SWAT, learned sniper tactics and precision shooting during this week-long course.

I had frequent conversations with some of the prison guards who escort high-risk inmates (did I mention we were on the grounds of a maximum-security prison all week?).  They are a good group of men, dedicated to their job, yet are lacking in the area of precision shooting.

On the second day, one prison guard  in particular was feeling discouraged after he watched some officers shoot, and commented to me, “everyone else is a sniper already…”

This wasn’t true.  The rangemaster himself and many others had never even held a bolt rifle before.

Yet I understood, all too well, his feelings of inadequacy.  We know we aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to others, but it can be hard to keep going when the task in front of us overwhelms.

One amazing aspect of this course was the sheer number of instructors available to give personalized attention throughout the week.  Demonstrating, correcting, repositioning, yelling, running ridges, cleaning rifles, adjusting scopes and partnering with the odd man out…they did whatever it took.

Fifty hours of training under the fiery sun, cheered on by veterans who understood the sacrifice and the hard work.  The instructors shared their personal testimonies with the Costa Rican officers, speaking as often of their failures as of their achievements.

All the officers were tested on the last day.  Just 3 out of 17 officers passed.  (For the record, even a US-trained former Ranger failed.)  The lead instructor wouldn’t budge on the standard.  Yet he was the first to encourage the men to keep working toward the goal.

Failures in life are disappointing to be sure, but they are not necessarily the final result.  Every participant gained something from the tactical training, and the constant correction from their instructors only made them stronger.

Similarly, we don’t have to be constrained by our experience or lack thereof.  And we are not in this alone.  God has positioned others along the way to be coaches, training partners, medics, cheerleaders and evaluators.

When we feel overwhelmed by the challenges in front of us, we must get on with it.  Just keep moving.

You have a crowd of witnesses.

 

When we feel inadequate, we must call upon other resources to help us set our sights on the target.  No excuses.

They are cheering for you.

 

When we feel we’ve reached our limit, we must remember that in a race, only one takes the prize.  Run to win.

The roar is deafening.

 

Precious in my sight June 2, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — ticameg @ 11:05 am

melody maps

My niece is four years old. Blonde, blue-eyed, precious, full of giggles.  She is my treasure.

 

Two days ago, at a tourist attraction, she ran ahead without anyone in our group realizing it.  She had almost slipped through a door out of sight when I saw her.

I sprinted to the door, and my heart was still pounding as I held her close and cautioned, You must never go ahead by yourself, that is dangerous.  I love you, and I want you to always be safe.

A few hours later another adult approached me:  she had done it again.  I kneeled down and asked if it was true.  She bowed her head, nodded, apologized to both of us, and flung herself into my arms.

What a lovely ending. Except…

 

Yesterday, we sat down together at the table to paint our nails.  As I was preparing, she started to twist off the top of the nail polish bottle.  I asked her to close the bottle and wait.

Alright!   She closed the bottle right away.  And then twisted it back open.

I repeated that we weren’t ready, and told her to close the bottle, that she needed to wait.

Alright!   She chirped again, twisting it shut.

And promptly opened it again, this time toppling the bottle which left iridescent nail polish on her fingers and the table.  She furtively wiped her hands together so I wouldn’t notice.

Baby girl — I said evenly — Give me your hands.  I will clean you up, but don’t hide your disobedience from me.

 

These small incidents caught my attention, and I thought, how often I have been in her place.

Not in childhood (although my mother will have plenty of stories), but in my walk of faith, when faced with the need for correction.

So many times, I have knelt in genuine and immediate contrition, drawing comfort from God’s loving embrace.  Only to be stubborn and selfish a few days later, ignoring God’s direction and then attempting to clean up the mess by myself.

 

I love my niece more than words can express.  I hope I will always show lovingkindness in moments of correction, no matter how she reacts.  Likely I will fail at this.

 

God however, never fails.  There are times God calls out a sharp reprimand to keep us from danger; other times God gently repeats the same command over and over, when we engage in certain negative behaviors.  But these moments of discipline are always founded in love.  We are God’s treasure, just as certainly as my niece is the apple of my eye.

 

And if you are about to protest that your sins go far beyond the antics of a four-year old, and that God surely no longer looks upon you with genuine affection, I invite you to read the following verses: 

 

  • You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…Isaiah 43:4

 

  • The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

 

  • O Lord, you are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

 

  • For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6

 

  • “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
    though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

 

  • For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

 

  • For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”  Isaiah 41:13

 

 

Who gets eternal life? March 12, 2018

Last night it was my turn to lead Sunday School.

We talked about Nicodemus and how his curiosity led him to seek out Jesus and ask more questions.  Jesus told him “Everyone who believes in me may have eternal life, life that lasts forever.”

This didn’t ring true for Nicodemus; surely Jesus didn’t really mean everyone.  After all, some people didn’t know about God at all, others were flagrant law-breakers.

Jesus assured Nicodemus—as he does to you and me—“Everyone.  God loves the world so much and wants everyone to have eternal life.”

 

I asked the kids, what types of people does God love?

Old people?  Yes

Police? Firefighters? Yes

People who steal?  Yes

Bullies? No   (No?  I pause, let them think)

…God loves them but he doesn’t love what they are doing. (Bingo!)

People in wheelchairs?  Yes ….Jesus heals them

People who sleep on the street?  No  (Again, pause, time to think)

…God loves them very much but he doesn’t want them to live on the street because they might get run over!  (Precisely!)

 

We finished with an activity to encourage and love others just as God loves us.  We wrote out the words ETERNAL LIFE on colored papers and decorated them. With only 3 kids, each of us had to work hard to reach the approximately 40 total number of people in church that night.

It was time to head downstairs; the kids were clutching their orange papers and bouncing up and down.  They had instructions to approach everyone, because eternal life is for all who believe in Jesus.  I hadn’t clued in the pastor ahead of time, but he gladly let us jump in during the last few minutes of the service.

Those kids took their task seriously!  They ran around the room several times, handing out ETERNAL LIFE to every person, including the musicians up on stage.  We still had many papers, so we left the sanctuary and went to the nursery, up to the soundbooth, searched out the custodian…leaving no stone unturned.

And, there were still papers leftover.  Samantha held several in her hand, alternately staring at them, and scanning the room for anyone who had been overlooked. The boys were still running around asking people if they got one…

I didn’t expect this level of commitment, and I didn’t quite know how to console them when they came back and reported that yes, everyone there had received a note, but we still had extras.  (I was just going tuck the extras back into my bag, no worries)

 

This morning I wondered if God might not feel the same way as these kids.  God loves everyone, in the whole world, and deliberately prepared a gift for us—not just for a select few, but a generous amount large enough to reach every individual. 

Many people have already believed that Jesus is the Son of God, the way, the truth, the LIFE.

And yet, there are still more orange papers, unclaimed.  

 

The Bible is full of word pictures that illustrate God’s desire:

The Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them. 2 Chronicles 16:9

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  Psalm 34:18

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:14

He will swallow up death forever!  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.  He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people.  Isaiah 25:8

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

Like my enthusiastic kids, God is running around, intentionally pressing LIFE into the hands of those who want more.  It’s yours for the taking; dare to believe.

 

On the outside looking in December 24, 2016

meganbearhouse

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Busy Bees July 12, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — ticameg @ 1:49 pm

Over the past several years, I’ve established some good relationships with the English teachers at Otto Hubbe, one of the schools just outside Carpio.   Last month I was invited to their first ever English festival–a new requirement by the Ministry of Education, as they raise the standards for English and hope to motivate the students in their language learning.

The day before the festival, I found out I was leading the spelling bee, and judging the speech competition!  So, instead of sitting and watching, I was up at the microphone quite a bit.  It was a great time, especially since about 40% of my students attend Otto Hubbe, and many participated on stage, others shouted out greetings from the bleachers.

I took along our two North American short term volunteers, Connor and Rachel.  The day started off with breakfast for all the invited guests/judges.  We were very impressed  with the amount of planning that went into the festival.  The decorations were amazing, all the teachers at the school were involved, there were many varied presentations and the children who participated in the speeches and spelling bee did exceptionally well in English!  And at the end of a long and noisy morning, the school surprised us once more, with a special lunch just for us, as well as some small gifts.  Truly, they outdid themselves!

 

 

 
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