Today, Megan speaks to us about She Lives Purposefully, a great book about suffering, and how she is working her way through the Psalms.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a Christian home with my parents and little sister. My family has been an incredible guide to Jesus throughout my whole life, and I am beyond blessed to have been placed in their family. I know not everyone grows up with families they feel encouraged and exhorted by, and I definitely don’t take mine for granted. My childhood was very love-filled. I grew up invested in activities like tennis, gymnastics, piano, etc. I also was and have been very involved in my church – Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia – often times being at church studies or events at a minimum of 4 times a week.
“I know not everyone grows up with families they feel encouraged and exhorted by, and I definitely don’t take mine for granted.”
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 – a lifetime favorite
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Currently, the Lord has really been showing me that I can fall on Him. In grappling with my own inadequacies, insecurities, negative feelings, or even goals that seem unattainable, passions we want to pursue, etc., the Lord has shown me not only that I can cast everything including all of my burdens on Him, but also that I can take the pressure off myself because I can’t actually figure anything out alone, I can’t heal alone, I can’t grow alone.
I would say I’m learning what casting your cares on the Lord actually means – and that it actually looks like letting go of those things. We’re not really casting if we still hold on and say it’s His to hold, ya?
“I can’t actually figure anything out alone, I can’t heal alone, I can’t grow alone.”
Profession: I am a PR/ marketing associate and grant writer at a nonprofit in PA.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? This answer for me comes in two parts. I first trusted Jesus with my life and asked forgiveness for my sins at six years old. As the years went on throughout elementary, junior high and high school, there were definitely moments and real encounters with Jesus that I had. I mean that to say my faith was genuine and real, and I did have a relationship with God.
However, in 2015, after my first semester of college, I had an encounter with Jesus that was so real and so unlike anything I had experienced before. I often point to that as when my faith genuinely became my own, when I dedicated my whole life to the Lord. THAT experience came after months of sadness, anger and confusion. A family tragedy had occurred that first semester of school, and it was the first time in my life that I had experienced something tragic. I had deaths in my extended family before and sicknesses in the family as well but this was something that, for me, took pain and sorrow even one step further.
I really began to grapple with the way I knew God. Deep down I had a grounded faith, praise the Lord, but those questions and feelings were still very much real. A week before a church retreat, some friends encouraged me with full confidence that Jesus was absolutely going to meet me that upcoming weekend. I hoped they were right, but I just was not nearly as confident. I had been struggling for months, and although I did see God working in ways to answer me, it was never something that pierced my heart. But that weekend, the passage that the pastor “coincidentally” taught on was about suffering – 2 Corinthians 1.
As I read this passage that I had read multiple times before, this time, the words seemed to lift off the page and hit me in a new way. It was as if I felt God speaking to me almost audibly. And in that one night, those months of anger and sadness and of a deep broken heart I had never experienced before were instantaneously healed. In those passages I found that God was a God of comfort and that He actually has purpose in our pain. Those concepts absolutely transformed the way I looked at my own suffering and the way I looked at God. It transformed my relationship with Him. And I genuinely have never been the same since that day. God has been more real to me in these past few years than ever before. My desire to serve Him and dedicate my life – the good and the painful – to Him increased 10x over.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Reading the Bible, praying and community. But in this season, community has really been a help. Going to church services and hearing the Word from pastors has been incredible and the pouring out of love, care and wisdom from people around me onto me has also been so helpful growth-wise.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’m currently in Psalms, Acts and reading a book called Suffering by Paul Trip. Psalms is so refreshing because it is so raw and allows you to know that feeling hard things is okay, but it always brings praise to God in the end. It’s like a road map for how to FEEL. It also just is a reminder – as the psalmist praises – of how incredible God is and why He is worthy to be praised (as if we should need the reminder… but we do!)
Acts is incredible because it’s basically the historical account of the early church. You see such passion, Spirit-moving and unity. It’s inspiring to look at them and all that God does there and live accordingly praying that God would move just as much in me and the world now.
The book Suffering is incredible and is great for processing suffering whether you’re in it or not – because, as Paul Tripp says, we all will go through it. It’s a great way to break it down, heal and also be better prepared (although pain still is pain and will still be hard regardless) for the future.
“Psalms is so refreshing because it is so raw and allows you to know that feeling hard things is okay, but it always brings praise to God in the end. It’s like a road map for how to FEEL.”
Top three essentials: Bible, phone, concealer.
How did God speak to you recently? Recently, through other people, God has just super expressed to me that He hears me and that I am not alone. He really sees me and everything I’m thinking and feeling, and He has affirmed to me through this that I can trust Him. Praise the Lord.
Hobby: Does my page She Lives Purposefully count? Haha I feel like that’s been dominating my time and I love it. But otherwise, I like to sing and play tennis.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: 1) Stay in the Bible. I know this sounds cliché but sometimes it’s so underrated. I was just dwelling on this thought yesterday. Looking back throughout my life, I can see that in the seasons I diligently read my Bible are the seasons – even if they’re not “spiritual highs” — is when I was the most firm and steadfast, even when doubts and questions and the mundane arise.
2) Pray. It’s life changing. I mean it. It’s another thing people say all the time, and I kind of always was intrigued by how it could make SUCH an impact. But again, in looking back, the seasons were I disciplined myself to pray (aka literally talk with God) “without ceasing” were actually seasons where I grew most, Jesus used me most, I was most “in tune” with the Lord, and I actually was MORE prepared for an upcoming seasons because I felt God actually place it on my heart to pray for that—because I was constantly in communion with Him. Praying looks like praising Jesus, bringing others before the Lord and then bringing yourself before the Lord.
3) COMMUNITY. An absolute MUST. I see it so often and I’m sure you have to: often when we or others become not as strong spiritually, a major thing that has changed is a lack of fellowship with the body of Christ. Attending church and hanging out with people who pour into us spiritually becomes less frequent. It’s been said that people need to surround themselves with people you want to be like. People impact people, and the same applies here. We need to be surrounding ourselves with those who are spiritually strong and people who build us up spiritually if we want that for ourselves.
“People impact people”
Favorite person in scripture? I absolutely adore Esther. In a Bible study, my friend and I lead, we recently went through the book of Esther, and her character – or this real historical person — is just inspiring. Esther is thrust into a situation out of her control. In this situation she finds God-given favor with multiple people. She is peaceable and kind but also wise, timely and not shy to stand for truth and against oppression. But what I LOVE about her is that she embraces where she’s placed to make an impact. She lives in the truth that she is where she’s at for a reason. She takes advantage of her place for the people of God and for His glory.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I think I find that when I try to represent Jesus I try to represent that God is love. I hope that I do and I try to listen to those around me in their different situations. Whether girls talk to me about doubts they have, struggles they’re going through, condemnation, accomplishments they’re excited for, or just the day to day, I try to receive it all in love and respond or even just listen with love.
I truly believe that Jesus actually cares about us and is actually for us and actually LOVES us. And I think often because we say so much that God loves us it tends to lose the depth of its meaning. But if we say God loves us more than anyone else loves us and I think practically about the way I love my parents and my sister and my friends and my boyfriend and how anything they’re going through doesn’t change the way I feel about them and see them and love them and care for them and it even more so makes me want to be able to help, how much more does that apply to the way Jesus loves? So even though there absolutely is repentance that is necessary with God, in Acts 11 it actually talks about repentance as something that is granted to us like a gift.
Repentance is necessary and in our culture it can seem like a negative thing but to God even that is love. God is defined by LOVE. And I think that as Christians we’re called to represent Christ in that way – in fact He actually commands it as the second most important commandment – directly behind loving God.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I would hope that I do leave a mark on my community. I’m active in my church, I lead a girls Bible study through my church’s young adults group, I try to love people in every season of life I’m in whether it’s serving at church, connecting with new people at school, work etc. I really believe that showing love and caring for people – genuinely caring for people – even if that looks like investing in them and hearing what they have to say, can make a big impact. I also run a page called She Lives Purposefully which currently doesn’t pay the bills but is my passion project. It’s rooted in (see above) finding purpose in my pain and learning that God has purpose for us in all things.
Favorite holiday? I would definitely have to say Christmas. The every-present emphasis of the birth of Jesus and what that means for us hits me harder than other times during the year, and it’s so refreshing and encouraging to remember this as a historical fact, a spiritual phenomena and a world changing time.
A goal you have? To be wise, to be more loving, and that my passion project, She Lives Purposefully, would be used to inspire, encourage and even heal.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Pasta Sundays. Every Sunday, we always eat an after-church lunch together and 99% of the time, it’s always pasta.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I have countless questions. Personal questions and questions I think that a lot of us have. And I plan to ask them all, but too on just a curious, silly level, I just want a tour of the universe, PLEASE. Space is so fascinating to me. It’s massive, and I’d love to see how God controls it all and the things we don’t know about it because of how big it is. It’s a reminder of how big God is.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I would say three things: 1) That Jesus can, can, can heal anything. 2) Jesus is trustworthy – in our spiritual needs but also logically. We can trust the Bible and what it has to say. 3) Human trafficking. It’s horrendous. This is something that’s been on my heart for years, and I think it’s something that we could all be a more invested in helping to stop.
What does your morning routine consist of? After a few snoozes, I wake up usually around 6 a.m. I immediately get up and go wash my face. It’s a way to feel just a tad more awake than I would if I held off doing that. I read my Bible then brush my teeth, spray rose water on my face (a skin care product I swear by), put some Tea Tree and Rosaline cream on (by the brand Just), moisturize with Banish’s Vitamin C moisturizer.
This is when I usually will read my Bible unless I’m running late, then unfortunately that’s the thing that gets put off until night. I put my makeup on, do my hair, choose an outfit (as much as I try to plan the night before it always changes) and eat breakfast. I usually also aim to drink a glass of water in the morning. I’ll either read my Bible that morning as well OR that night.
For more Megan:
Until next time, keep witnessing!