Poop Mold

This was probably the second grossest moment of my life. You don’t wanna know the first.

Our summer mission has been SO blessed with an amazing hotel to stay in while we’re in VA beach. We have mini-kitchens-but there’s a microwave, stove top, dishwasher and fridge.

We have couches that you’re not afraid to put your bare face on (oddly an upgrade from last years housing).

Lindsey and I share a bedroom-but we share a king sized bed, so there’s PLENTY of room for us.

BUT.

You know there’s always a “but” with me.

A few students have made the comment about mold in their toilets that they can’t get out. In my mind only (I’m not savage), I think, “ew. Clean your toilets better.” Which luckily, we provide cleaning supplies (toilet bowl cleaner and a brush) to our students and do room checks each Sunday to make sure 47 college students are not totally trashing the place.

In preparation for Leslie doing room checks tomorrow, I volunteered (as tribute) to clean our bathroom which included scrubbing our mold free toilet.

I put the toilet bowl cleaner in and allowed it to soak while I scrubbed the rest of the bathroom. About three minutes later, I started to tackle our toilet-which up until that point, I was BLISSFULLY UNAWARE that there too was mold in our toilet. I started to scrub the toilet and decided to scrub under the lip of the toilet and sure enough-mold chunks started falling.

Now. Listen. I am NOT one to be “one upped” by my students, so it became MY MISSION to get rid of all the mold that I could not see but knew was there.

I was scrubbing and scrubbing and then had the thought, “man, how AWFUL would it be if mold flung off this brush and hit me in the face.”

SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY, YALL-BUT WORSE.

Not ONLY did some HOTEL-MULTI-COLON-POOP-MOLD fling at me… IT HIT ME IN (I REPEAT HIT ME IN) THE EYE.

Two seconds after I thought about E.Coli hitting me, I saw it fly through the air straight into my face. Reliving the moment in slow mo in my brain, I saw myself turn as quick as I could, but my scrubbing powers were too forceful. The poo mold was coming at me.

I felt it hit my eye.

I screamed, “NOOOO. NOOOO. NOOOOOOO. LINDSEY. GET IN HERE.”

I looked in the mirror and made her look at my eye, and sure enough on my bottom lashline right on my tear duct of my right eye was a long glob of mold FROM THE TOILET.

I’ve never seen anyone sympathy puke, but lindsey instantly started gagging. So just go ahead and picture the scene: I am in the bathroom screaming “Nooo. Nooooo. Nooooo.” with my hand over my eye, while Lindsey can’t even look at me without gagging and almost puking in the toilet THAT NO ONE BETTER POOP IN EVER AGAIN BECAUSE I SWEAR IM NEVER CLEANING IT AGAIN.

After the freakout, I grabbed a tissue, wiped it out and then desperately grabbed my antibacterial soap and foamed it all over my right eye.

I’m sure there’s SOME spiritual metaphor here, but I literally “can’t even right now” to try to figure it out.

Feel free to hypothesize for me and leave your thoughts in the comments section. For your own enjoyment, here’s a pic lindsey took and posted in our staff group me.

DYING YALL.

I’m dead.

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On Depression and Being Deeply Known

Y’all, I think I’m hilarious… the majority of the time. Due to my sanguine personality, stuff just flies out of my mouth before I can catch it and realize, “Uh, don’t say that.” Need examples, ask ANYONE on my staff team. There’s been quite a few doozies this year.

The extraverted, Sanguine-ness can be super fun sometimes. I love being with people. I love adventure. I love hugs. I love quality (and quantity) time with people. I’m always connecting with someone in some capacity. Being the introverts worst nightmare, I often say, “Community is the best kind of unity!” But something has been off…

A few weeks ago I went to grab lunch with a pastor and new friend, Kevin. We have had similar experiences in ministry where we are just naturally gifted and really enjoy ministry-but for whatever reason, have felt deeply alone and depressed.

My first year in Detroit was probably the hardest year of my life since struggling with severe depression 10+ years ago. I found myself in a new ministry context, new culture, new climate (God bless this weather…), new co-workers, new friends, new church and still struggling with navigating healthy family relationships (#adulthood). All this mixed in with feeling a high need to be deeply known almost instantly, led to heightened depression and anxiety. I had not experienced depression like this since before I became a Christian and was knocked back pretty hard by it. I didn’t know you could be a Christian and feel this way, so instantly I felt isolated.

I won’t get into how that manifested itself, but I will share a huge lie I was believing: Christians shouldn’t feel this way. You are supposed to be a leader. Therefore, you cannot let people see this in you.

There was a lot of shame in being open about, “Hey, I’m really struggling to see how God is good in this season.” I personally felt shame because:

  1. “Christians are supposed to trust God, right? You’re not acting life you’re trusting God voicing your fears.”- I’ve gotten this before.  Literally.
  2. My own thoughts of what a Cru staff member/missionary looks like, right? I have such high standards for what I should be like as a friend, discipler, church goer, Bible study leader, and teammate. I oftentimes feel SUCH guilt when I don’t meet my own standards.
  3. Who wants to support a missionary who can’t even confidently say 100% of the time, “God is in this; He is for me; and He is good”?

Somewhere between STINT and moving to Detroit, “Community is the best type of unity!” became just another phrase for me. I’ve lived most of my Christian life in deep, authentic, Christ-centered community. Cru was amazing for me in college-friends like Bonnie, Rachel, Lizzy, Aimee, Jasmine, Maury and Jenny were healing balm to my soul. My STINT team, I experienced such hard, sweet, redemptive community that has lead to six years of friendship with seven of the best people on Earth.

Since being in Detroit, I have been really great at connecting with my team and my students, but I have really had a hard time establishing community beyond those two. I don’t think it is because it isn’t out there. I think it is because, for me at least, depression and shame murder intimacy, vulnerability and authentic community.

The past month, the Lord has been graciously showing me my need for the body of Christ and how condemnation has no place in my life. As I sat with Kevin, he asked me about how I was experiencing gospel-centered, loving community. I talked about how I connect with my team, and am always meeting with students, but rarely have peer relationships or even “one up” relationships where I’m being poured into outside of work. Eek. Welp, not saying that is 100% the cause of my depression, but since I do have such a high need to feel valued, known and understood, it makes sense that a lack of community would lead to feeling alone and pretty miserable.

This past Sunday, Woodside taught on belonging and growing with the body of Christ. I was reminded that we need each other. I need people, and people need me. And that’s okay to be needy and to be needed. I took a risk and finally tried out a Neighborhood Group after months of pushing off my need for community. It’s easy leading and creating authentic community for others; it’s another stepping in one to be known and know others.

Yesterday, I was diving into my new favorite book Befriend: Create Belonging In A Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear by Scott Sauls and was reading about the impact shame has on us emotionally and how isolating it is. Highly suggest this read.

Today, as Ashley and I sat in our living room for an extended time with the Lord, I happened to be in 2 John. It’s the book about living in the truth, in love for one another, and in obedience to what God has called us to do: love the body of Christ. I am loving the Lord speaking so clearly to me this past month, calling me to lay down my pride and say: I’m not perfect. My life is a MESS ON SO MANY LEVELS. But, Jesus is perfect. He makes beauty of my ashes. If MESS wasn’t the norm for 100% of fallen people, then Jesus wouldn’t need to redeem or make beauty out of it.

I need Jesus, but I also need the body of Christ. And not on solely on a Great Commission journey/linking arms getting work done, but a “hey, let’s experience the beauty of the gospel and live it out together as we expand the tent of Heaven to the nations.

So tomorrow, I want to keep diving into loving the body well and allowing the body to love me well. I want to know others and be deeply known, as icky and raw as that feels sometimes, trusting that in Christ rests my identity, all the grace, mercy, and peace that I need to step into the family of God.

Thanks for being a part of this messy journey with me. I’m learning a lot, growing a lot, and as a typical ESFJ, feeling a lot. 😉

 

Celebrating 5 Couples That Weren’t Couples That Should Have Been Couples

We have all been there. Strung along in movie, television drama or real life celebrities, we get caught in the tension of, “Do they love each other? Are they going to end up together?” This drama, man. I love it and hate it.

It fits perfectly with my day-dreaming kind of mind to think of the what-ifs, so in lieu of Valentines Day (one of my favorite holidays because LOVE + CANDY + CHOCOLATE), here is a list of 5 couples + 1 SPOILER couple that never were couples but in my honest opinion would be PERFECT together. Enjoy!

  1. Kimmy Schmidt and Titus Andromedon. 

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I know, there is one major conflict here- SHE LIVED IN A BUNKER. 😉 [ just kidding obviously]. But, they are just so fun together. I want them to be on a show together forever. I heart Titus and Kimmy. I would hang out with them on the regular.

  2. Benson and Stabler. 

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You cannot tell me these two aren’t the CUTEST. After 20 years of working together on the force, they are just the best ever. I’m so sad she never married him.

3. Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey

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Leaving room for the Holy Spirit, I see. I mean, their theology about lines up, so match made in heretic heaven?

4. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

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I honestly don’t know who’s the bigger catch here. They’re both pretty amazing. But I agree with Keke Palmer on MOST things, so watch my sentiments…

5. Penelope and Derek from Criminal Minds?

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Okay, actually, this a quasi count. I would be super annoyed if someone called me “Baby Girl” and was super affectionate and affirming with NO commitment. Talk about blurred lines. Part of me votes, “JUST BE TOGETHER” and then there’s part of me that is so annoyed by this relationship. Crap or get off the pot…?

6. WARNING MASSIVE SPOILER

***SPOILER***

***SPOILER***

***SPOILER***

***SPOILER***

SERIOUSLY, THIS LAST ONE IS A SPOILER.

Are you sure you’re in?

REALLY sure?

just in case….

***SPOILER******SPOILER******SPOILER******SPOILER******SPOILER***

BUT HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO ME?! LaLa Land, I hated you.

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Obviously, Ryan Gosling belongs with everyone. When he is in, he is 1000% in. And it is just so stinkin’ beautiful.

 

Sometimes Missions Is Hard

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FB can be so deceiving.  Good thing my Twitter is pretty unfiltered.

My sweet new friend Georgia took some awesome glamour shots for my Christmas card the other day. I posted one as my profile picture and got over 200 likes (that’s a lot for me, so if that is your normal average… just stop reading. I’m not worthy.). Everything in that picture seems perfect (GA is an amazing photographer, btw). But, for those of you who know me, I’m a dang hot mess about 20/7… the four other hours, Jesus-by His mercy and grace-is sustaining me.

Y’all.  This week… I don’t know WHAT happened, and it’s only the 2nd day. It got cold. It snowed more than I’ve ever wanted. I got depressed. I cried by myself in Panera for an hour… Which, I cry every 6 days on average (counting crying at movies and crying from laughing so hard at YouTube videos), so it shouldn’t have caught me off guard, but it TOTALLY did.

What the heck happened?

Being a missionary is hard; that’s what happened.

When I submitted my life to Jesus in 2007 and told him I would follow Him anywhere, I imagined that place to be Africa. And praise the Lord, He allowed that dream to come true for two years. And then when I told Him I’d continue to full-time partake in the Great Commission, I imagined myself in the mountains of North Carolina for a few years and then the hot, HOT desert… of the Middle East. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself in Detroit, Michigan where our low for Monday night will be -2 degrees Fahrenheit. Time to count the cost.

When I submitted my life to Jesus and told Him I would follow Him, I assumed that meant marriage at some point in time. Welp. I’m almost 30. All my friends are working on baby #2 and I still don’t know how to flirt. Cool, Jesus. I saw this hidden hurt come up when my roommate Hannah moved to Indy, oddly. I remember crying at church (again, every 6 days, totally normal) and asking God, “Don’t you have anything good for me? Will you ever give me someone to just do life with for longer than a one-year season?” Time to count the cost again. 

When I submitted my life to Jesus and told Him I would follow Him, I assumed that meant manna from Heaven type provisions where I’m never under my support goal and I have 0% anxiety about His provision. Well. Ha. We won’t unpack this one too much, but every missionary you’ve ever met has doubted God’s provision at one point in time. I’m no exception. Time to count the cost again.

So, is it worth it?

Is living where I never expected, in a climate that seriously, y’all. I just have no words. The cold I can handle. WHERE THE HECK DOES THE SUN GO?… Is it a sacrifice I’m willing to make so that the gospel can change lives and be spread among the earth so that God can get the most glory? Yes.

Is this calling worth it when… you’re the weirdest staff member ever and you walk into staff meetings with a sun lamp so you can trick your brain out of seasonal depression (and you spend your “fun” money budget on a Pink Himalayan Salt Rock that’s supposed to lift your mood by changing Ions in the air…) so that the gospel can change lives and be spread among the earth so that God can get the most glory? Yes.

Is it worth it when you’re still single and you love love, and you daydream all the time about who you’ll fall in love with, and then your students who are 10 years younger than you get engaged and you’re a bridesmaid for the 9th time… Is it worth it to sacrifice that knowing God has greater plans, so that the gospel can change lives and be spread among the earth so that God can get the most glory? Yes.

Is it worth it to live sacrificially, and trust God that He is who He says He is and the He will provide everything I need to continue walking with Him, serving Him and glorifying Him? This is probably the most important one, will I trust Him to meet all my needs emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually so that the gospel can change lives and be spread among the earth so that God can get the most glory? I will try everyday. 

I have to spend seasons counting the high-cost of following Jesus. If I’m not counting the cost, I’d question how closely I was walking with Jesus and how submitted to His will I am. And when trials come (which the Bible promises they will), I would be tempted to give it all up. All the cost, the weather, the new culture, the singleness, the living by faith, all of it is worth it because Christ is worth it.

Without Jesus, I would not know hope. Even though it feels like it comes in waves, along with peace, I do know that I serve and am LOVED by a God who fulfills His promises to me. And they are good promises. I know anything I give up this side of Heaven for the expansion of the Kingdom of God is worth it. He is worth it. Even when my heart is too dang icy to feel it, He is worth it.

My Life Is Not My Own, It’s Yours.

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I feel like, even as a single woman, I’m starting to understand the whole “mommy blog shaming” parenting debate. You know, the one that goes along the lines of, “You’re doing it wrong… you’re poisoning your kids with Easy Mac… be more granola.” Sometimes y’all, I just feel like I FAIL at ministry. Ask my students, I’m no perfect missionary. And social media comparison is pretty much the worst.

It’s easy to look at other staff women’s Instagram accounts, at a pastor’s Facebook and feel like, “Shoot.. I do not even remotely measure up… Look at their discipleship chain… Why does my life feel so messy?… Can I just stop sinning like today, lord?” I literally feel like I was all, “Ha! I don’t have to be in the Mom Blog drama, suckaaa. Oh. Dang. Gina…. Social Media comparison is alive and well at every life stage.”

Luckily, I’m getting a a heaping dose of reality today from the actual source of life.

Some friends and I are doing a study over 1 + 2 Thessalonians. Now, I’m gonna be honest, because, well, to put it in Mom Blog terms, I like pretty granola and all, but I also like McDonalds… I’m a few weeks behind. I spent an extended time today trying to catch up, and dang gina. SO SO SO good. Talk about being challenged by the Holy Spirit, where there’s grace and truth, instead of through worldly comparisons that lack truth, or grace, and robs me of my joy.

 

I’ve been encouraged over and over again in how to walk with Jesus well, love others deeply and live life to be poured out as a drink offering. Godly conviction.

This has to start with me loving Jesus well. I will not love people (friends, family, students, co-workers) well apart from abiding in the One who is my source of life. Over and over again I’m reminded: Get in His presence. Take that time.

I used this example with my roommate the other day, as someone who struggles with anxiety, I feel like I have a fewwwwww holes in my cup. My cup runs dry so quickly when I’m not spending quality time processing with Jesus who He is, what His word says to me, who I am and how I’m feeling [I have a lot of feelings all the time]. When I allow these things to not be a priority, I burn out bad. Walking with Jesus in a deep way has to be number one.

Love people genuinely and well. Man, can I write about people in the way that Paul writes about the Thessalonians, with joy, emotion and an “all in” mentality? That’s scary to love people like that. Over and over again Paul expresses his concern and love for them and his JOY in the Thessalonians. He boldy proclaimed the gospel to them, with gentleness like a mother. He was affectionately desirous of them, ready to share his life (2:1-8).

Live life as a poured out drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of another’s faith. I think this one was the most convicting for me. In one of the questions, it had us cross reference 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 and Philippians 2:14-18. It asked the question:

Why exactly does Paul regard it as so important for himself that the ones he brings to faith should stand firm to the end? In what will Paul be boasting on the day of Christ’s coming?

Paul boasts in them. They are his spiritual children. His mommy-blog objects. Ha. It’s important in the same way you wouldn’t abandon your own children. This is a spiritual life. There is necessary growth, and things that can wreck havoc on one’s faith. It’s important to disciple and pour out your life into theirs so that they may stand firm. He was poured out for them, that they can shine as lights in the world and that they would hold fast to the word of life and cling to Christ.

The last question said, “How might it revolutionize our relationships on this earth to regard them in light of the end of the gospel story, the second coming of Christ?”

Dang Gina, again. I’m just given this picture of running onto a battlefield, rescuing people and we keep running together until we get to safety. Our safety is not ever promised here, but it’s promised in the coming Kingdom. I want continue to run this rescue mission of seeing lost students be turned into Christ-centered multiplying disciples. That we would reach the lost, run with them, see them continue in the faith, and have them grab more people to run with us until we either go to heaven or Jesus comes back. This vision must be kept in front of us.

I think keeping this in mind, would help me…

  • grow in grace and truth
  • persevere
  • greater faithfulness even in the midst of hurt
  • spur myself and others on to dip our hearts in the streams of life
  • spur people on to hold fast to the Word of life
  • urge, encourage, challenge and exhort people to live a life worthy of the calling
  • pour out my life for the sake of the gospel and…
  • push the edge of sacred space to all the nations

I’m so encouraged by this study and even though I fall so frickin’ incredibly short. I’m hopeful and thankful for growth that the Holy Spirit is doing in my life to push me to be more faithful to Christ, others and the calling He has on my life. Jesus is good.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a wicked and crooked generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the Word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”-Philippians 2:14-17

 

 

It’s Fall, Y’all… Sort of.

“Reality is your friend.”-my boss, every day of my life.

“No.”- me.

Y’all. Fall is here, and it is GLORIOUS. I know there are people who are a little mad that it isn’t full on sweater weather, but before we must face that future reality of frigid death, can we just take some time to PRAISE HIM for the current reality? 14572224_10154596400852743_467557781099215723_n

  1. Apple Orchards are in full swing! I had never been to an apple orchard before last year, and let me tell you something… they are fun! I’d been blackberry picking, peach picking, and… that’s about it. Never had been to a Cider Mill/Apple Orchard (are they different??). My team and I took a half an afternoon to go to Blakes to pick apples, drink cider, and eat apple cider donuts! My fave part was climbing the trees to get the best apples up top!
  2. It was 80 degrees in Michigan yesterday. In October. RAISE ‘EM AND PRAISE HIM. In Jesus’ name. // Reality: this won’t last. In one month, it could snow. But today, I give thanks in the name of Jesus.

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3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL. Dude. The strug-gle of being in the presence of Big Ten-ers when you’re an SEC/ACC fan. Jokes about Hoosiers/Boilermakers just aren’t as funny… Literally, I’m smiling and nodding and have NO idea what you’re saying. #goTigers #goclemson

 

4. There’s sun. Michigan has this dreaded disease that every November-May, the sun goes away and it’s gray EVERYDAY. Okay, reality is my friend, so that’s an exaggeration, and the gray clouds do bring snow… But, man… let’s just enjoy all the Vitamin D we can.

5. Colorful trees and beautiful leaves // Let me just me honest, there’s nothing like an East Tennessee fall. Being in nature with mountainous walls of color popping out in front of your face… it’s glorious. Michigan is kind of flat. But! When I was in Senegal, I missed the fall leaves and walking through them and hearing the crunch. Senegal: no fall. Michigan: flat landscape. I’ll take Michigan’s fall over Senegal, so it’s a win!

6. STUDENTS ARE BACK ON CAMPUS! 🙂  Momentum keeps building at OU. WSU has been tricky, but I finally feel like I’m at a good spot with my new, sweet freshmen girls and my returning students. I’ve gotten to see girls move from death to life, and have seen more and more young women’s desire to grow in their walks with JC and have their hearts begin to burn for Him. I really, really, REALLY like the girls at OU and WSU, and just feel super encouraged by what God is doing in their lives after every meeting. It’s just been super awesome.

7. PTL for PSLs- Praise the Lord for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I don’t think this needs much of an explanation.

How are you enjoying the fall?

 

 

How to Turn 29 When You’re 27

HowToTurn29Earlier this summer, the last day of May to be exact, I had a birthday. It was a special one. This was my very first birthday in Michigan, and due to my summer schedules with Cru this may be the only birthday I have in Michigan for a while… Nevertheless, first or last Michigan birthday it was so special for a variety of reasons. First being, I FOUND OUT THAT I WASN’T 28 and I relapsed a whole year of my life.

Y’all. Bless my friggin’ heart. I literally thought the whole entire year of May 2015-2016 that I was 28. I’m not. Well, I am now, but I wasn’t. I skipped 27!

I have several theories for what the heck I was thinking, maybe the shuffle of moving back to America, working a secular job, support raising in three cities, moving across America… There could be a myriad of reasons why I lost a literal year off my life. I could blame it on transition and the fact that after 16, 18, 21, and 25 there’s really not a birthday worth looking forward to until you’re a senior citizen and can get the Senior Pancake Deal at iHop….

I could blame it on that, minus the fact that I have longed to be thirty for as long as I can remember, so maybe it was a subconscious decision to speed up the process to reaching the golden age of “stability.” Which is 30 (if you’re over thirty, lie to me. Tell me life is perfect at 30.).

So here are a few of my tips on turning 29 when you’re only 27….

  1. Have an weird obsession with being 30. Strive for 30 and don’t let a 4 year age gap stand in your way!
  2. Do a lot of major transitions in one year- get a new job, move to another state, find a new church, make new friends, travel internationally. This one will surely joggle your brain and make you forget (among many things) how old you actually are.
  3. Work with college students where they constantly ask you your major and you just say, “I graduated a few years ago…” and always shy away from the details of what year you actually graduated so you don’t feel like a grandma… Talking about age in a relative manner will make you relatively 30. Which is your goal.BdayDinner
  4. Celebrate with new friends who will make you feel so loved even if you totally forgot how old you are. They just met you a year ago, that’s not weird at all. And they never would have caught it…
  5. Freak out that you’re doing 28 all over again, and then remind yourself, “Right. That was 27…”
  6. Comment on the exciting transitions of a student speaker at Cru on Twitter and include your incorrect age so you can seamlessly slide into a more mature age at your upcoming birthday party. Cause nothing screams “ADULT” like a month to month lease. Twitter.png
  7. Take an artsy fartsy picture next to your garden that screams, “SO MATURE.”
  8. Get a grandma moo moo from a friend and have that be your favorite birthday present. (Y’all know I love my moo moos).MooMoo

That’s all my tips that I have for you. Of course, per usual, if you would like any more advice on achieving the impossible, comment below and let me know what you’d like to know. I’ll do my best to make your dreams come true.