Sunday, June 28, 2009


I love seeing Mercy Ships friends in Philadelphia. Marla, who lives in Arizona, was passing through and had just enough time for a mini-Mercy-filled reunion.

Marla, Lindsay, and met in the Fall 2007 on the Africa Mercy. Marla recently finished her first year of medical school (yeah!) and is considering specializing in OB, in hopes of one day working with VVF patients.

Marla and Lindsay are lovely. We all enjoy laughing and gelatto, which made for a rather lovely afternoon.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

little blessings...

Getting ready to leave for Africa, always makes feel a little unsettled (as evidenced by a recent loss of appetite). Although I have no reason for doubts, I always wonder if God is going to meet my needs.
I really love The Fray. When I heard they were coming to the Philadelphia area, I secretly had my heart set on going. On Monday I got a voice mail, saying I had won a free pair of tickets two Wednesday nights Fray concert. I was very excited.
It was as if God was saying, "Not only will I meet your needs, but I want to bless you along the
He loves us extravagantly. There is no better security. No need for doubts or fears.
It all may sound silly, but it reassured my heart of His love for me and reminded me that He desires to do exceedingly, abundantly more than I could ask or imagine.
Like give me tickets to a concert just because I really wanted to go.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

megan 2.0

I am leaving for Benin in a little over a week! I'm getting really excited, mixed in with a little nerves and a little I-never-quite-like-saying-goodbye sadness.

This is the third time in two years I've packed up all my stuff and said goodbye. Normally, at the 1.5 week mark, I have piles of stuff strewn about, as I madly edit what stays and what goes.

For example,

Bucks County, Pennsylvania. May 29, 2007. Packing to come to Liberia.
Monrovia, Liberia. May 29, 2008. Packing to go home.

But, I feel I've grown up a bit this year, and perhaps the proof is in the picture
Bucks County, Pennsylvania. June 2009, packing to go to Benin (for the record, I'm not packing my dog, Sasha...but isn't she cute??? :)
I am nearly done packing and I'm not leaving for another 1.3 weeks. I feel like Megan 2.o.
I know my friends (particularly the ones in Liberia who were helping me finish packing 15 minutes before the Land Rover was leaving the ship to take me to the airport : ) would be proud.

Monday, June 22, 2009

special ladies

Kathy (Nana)

Linda (Mom)

My mom and Nana weren't even given the option of being a part of the Unbranded Beauty project. They were commandeered participants (they were both happy to be in it:).

My Nana is featured today on the Unbranded Beauty blog, so I thought I'd feature them both here as well. They both beautiful, Godly, stylish, and, coincidentally, amazing cooks. I love them and I hope my skin looks as good as theirs when I am older.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

strangers and pilgrims

A murder victim. A father. A conservative. A wanderer. An old woman. A promise. A deceiver. A slave. A runaway. A harlot. A doubter. A failure. An offering.

The commonality? They were all noted in Hebrews 11 as having great faith.

Hebrews 11:13-16

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."

God's eternal perspective redefines the economy of our lives. Values are shifted. Dreams are altered. Our pursuits channeled from many to one encompassing goal; to know Him.

I believe He is more concerned by Who are seeking, then what we accomplish on earth. All that is earthly will disappear with our last breath, but knowing God will be an eternal concern.

The men and women mentioned above, in obedience, in weakness, in purity, in failing, and in sin, pursued the eternal. And God is not ashamed to be called their God.

I find that so encouraging.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Unbranded Beauty Project is linked on the news and highlights section of the True Campaign website,

What is the True Campaign?

"The True Campaign exists to end the crisis of distorted self image by challenging cultural ideals about identity and beauty, so we can be free to impact our world as God intended.
Let’s face it: too many of us dislike our bodies and struggle with eating issues. It’s time to start talking. It’s time to change and take action. For the sake of our future, its time to be True."

This is something that is so close to my heart as I have struggled with body image for years.

I remember when I went on my first diet. For an entire year, I ate jelly and banana sandwiches for lunch (which is totally gross and soggy), because (I thought) jelly and banana's were fat free. In fact, I subtly refused to eat anything with fat in it, and scoured the label of any food that wanted passage into my mouth. Every night before bed, I performed a series of exercises I found in a workout book my mother had laying around the house. I strictly adhered to this regiment. It was consuming. And I was only eleven.

I'd love to say it ended there. That the obsession was a passing phase. Sadly, it was just the beginning of years of disordered eating, low self esteem, and poor body image. I spent my teenage years experimenting with crash diets, starvation, and even self-purging.

I was never fat. I just wasn't a size two. And that was not acceptable.

In the past year, I finally learned to truly accept my body, and myself, as is. I eat nutritional foods, exercise regularly, and am not a size two. But I am healthy. I realized I'd have to be unhealthy, physically and mentally, if I wanted my body to be different (aka a size two).

It took 14 years for me accept this. I finally believe I am beautiful, just the way I am. I don't have to meet any standard. The person God created me to be, is acceptable. It's a shocking and freeing realization.

I really wanted to help other women, particularly teenage girls, understand this, which is what inspired the Unbranded Beauty Project. It's needed. I know I have not been alone in my struggles.

The True Campaign is helping women who share these struggles. It's a great resource for any woman. Definitely check it out.

I'm so excited to be a part of it in anyway. I hope the Lord can use my own story, and the stories of the women I interviewed, to break through the distortion of our culture.

It's very lonely when you don't feel like your precious. For me, that was the center of it all. Who I was was never enough to earn that title.

But everyone is precious to God. As is. We are all unique and different reflections of His beauty.

I just everyone knew it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lunch with miss Lindsay

Today I had a delicious Swiss cheese and portabella mushroom omelet for lunch, at a very cute cafe in South Philly, with my friend Lindsay. Lindsay and I met two years via a mutual friend via Myspace (I'm almost embarrassed to admit that).

Apparently, a friend of mine told his sister I was going to Africa. His sister told Lindsay's mom. Lindsay's mom told Lindsay (or something like that :). Lindsay found me on Myspace, and a few weeks later we were sitting together on a plane headed for Liberia.

Two years ago, I wasn't nervous about the prospect of living on a ship or being in Africa. However, I was scared to fly there alone. I'd never flown across the ocean or been to Africa. Secretly, I held onto a fleeting hope that I would find a travel buddy. But I realized the likely hood of finding one was slim at best.

When I opened my Myspace email and saw Lindsay's message, I couldn't have been more relieved. Aside from the practical comfort of not having to travel alone, I felt so certain of God's hand on the details of my life. He heard my insecure prayers, saw my fears, and acted on my behalf. I guess odds don't really mean much to Him. It might be a trite thing to say, but I'm so glad it's true. It puts my soul at ease.

Lindsay lives in New Jersey, and downtown Philadelphia is 35-ish minutes away for both of us (depending on how fast I drive :) We've been able to get together several times this year. She recently finished her bachelor degree program (yea!!! :) and is currently pursuing long term medical missions. I have been blessed and encouraged by her friendship and the work God is so evidently doing in her life.

Additionally, it's been wonderful to have someone at home who relates to both halves of my life. The sarcastic/fast-paced/tell-it-like-it-is/urban outfitters/Philadelphia half, as well as the vagabond-traveler/heart-for-missions/long-skirt-wearing/Africa half.

I'm happy I got travel buddy, but even happier I got a friend.

I'm glad God knows my needs, and provides for them in ways which are exceedingly abundantly more than I ask or imagine.

And maybe I should check my Myspace email account. There might be a message from someone who is eager to endure the two day trip to Benin with me :)

You never know....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

the other side of the lens...

After I photographed dozens of women for the unbranded beauty project, my friend/photographer, Arun Paul, offered to give me a photo shoot. It's funny, as much as I told everyone else to, "Just relax," and "Don't be nervous," I found myself a little anxious about stepping in front of a camera. However, even with a little rain, it was a ton of fun!

Arun and his wife Julia are two tremendously lovely people. I always feel encouraged to keep pursuing both life and holiness after being around them.

For example, a year and a half ago, when I was home from Liberia for Christmas, I ran into them at Barnes and Noble. After chatting for 15 minutes, they asked what I needed prayer for. They then prayed for me in the middle of the cafe. It was so real and genuine. I want to be more like that and I'm glad I have friends that will pray for me the middle of a bookstore :)

Check out Arun's photo's at and

He's really talented and I'm sure you will enjoy looking at them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

the human confliction

In a little over four weeks, I will be given my second Africa Mercy name badge. I'll be unpacking a large army duffel bag, trying to fit it's contents into a small, foot wide cupboard, my "closet" if you will. I haven't really thought much about packing, although yesterday I did by an essential supply of lip gloss which should last throughout my six month stay.

It's funny, exactly a year ago, I was on the other side of things. Rummaging through a year's worth of stuff I had somehow manged to collect in West Africa, deciding which items would take the journey to America and which would forever call the Africa Mercy home. I didn't know what coming home would be like. My heart was filled with aspirations, heartaches, and plans, but little direction. I didn't think I'd fit in Bucks County anymore.

I was sort of right.

The transition to "normal" life caused months of internal turbulence. I had a collection of experiences, inside jokes, and struggles, that no one understood. I'd try to pretend to care about "American-Dream-like" things that 20-somethings are suppose to care about, but my efforts were feigned at best.

September in Bucks County wasn't exciting. I was writing a book (aka spending Friday nights alone in front of a lap top at Barnes and Noble), working overnight as a home health nurse (so I had no co-workers and essentially no human interaction for 40 hours a week), and came home to find all the friends who had gotten married before I left for Africa, were having babies (now, I REALLY didn't fit in). The coin had completely flipped. The pendulum had fully swung. My life had gone from one extreme to the exact other.

No wonder it felt turbulent.

But turbulence isn't necessarily bad, and certainly never pointless. It proves integrity. For example, when an aircraft encoutners turbulence, and successfully passes through, it proves the integrity of the aircraft. Otherwise, you wouldn't have realized it's strength.

To choose to follow Christ, is to choose the turbulent way. The path of greatest resistance. The narrow road, where sorrow and suffering serve as guides. It's not easy; it's hard. At times, it's very lonely. Many times, the way doesn't make sense or feel very loving.

It's narrow for a reason.

But I have found the Lord to be a very good Shepherd. In the valley of the shadow of death, I have felt His strength in a way I would have never experienced had I chosen a smoother course. His strength as traversed the hard road with me. He is faithful. I know that, even when I don't believe it.

As I think about heading back to West Africa, I find myself conflicted again. After months I struggling with being home, the tension finally dissipated. I've even had thoughts of "settling down". Having roots almost sounds as exciting as a new adventure.

But just when I've reached this point, I'm leaving on a jet plane. Again. Alone.

Of course, I'm really excited about being back on the Africa Mercy. I can't wait to see old friends and start my job in communications. I love serving the poor. I love meeting people. I love adventure.

But my hearts conflicted. At least I'm in good company. Paul experienced this internal confliction:

Philippians 1:22-24

"If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account."

The confliction makes me ache. The aching makes me dream of heaven. It reminds me that eternity is where we will find our rest. It doesn't stop things from hurting or evaporate loneliness, but it opens my heart up to Divine Love.

And I think that's the whole point.

Monday, June 1, 2009

check it

Last month I worked with our Jr. High youth ministry on a project called unbranded beauty.
Throughout the month of June, I will be posting the photographs and interviews of each woman at

Feel free to check it out :)