Tornados, Trains, and Thirty Things Before Thirty.

Many people don’t know this about me, but I am a tornado magnet. Ask my mom.

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My fave/worst tornado story was when the tornados came through Chattanooga in 2011.  Aimee and I were at school when UTC cancelled all of our classes because of the tornados coming. As we were headed home from school both of us were like, “WE ARE SO HUNGRY.” We decided, “Let’s casually stop at Panera and get food to go.” [We were dumb; and by we I mean that was totally my idea].

I open my car door and the wind was so strong I couldn’t get it to close. Exnay on the Anerapay. We got back in the car, sped, drove safely home.

We get to the house and we’re trying to figure out what to do. We don’t have a basement. The storm is coming. Our neighbor runs out into the street to tell us a tornado just struck down 10 minutes north of us. And me, Maury and Aimee are yelling at each other trying to figure out whos house we need to go to and where.

Don't be fooled by her mature demure. She was totes speeding. And we were totes egging her on.

Don’t be fooled by Maury’s mature demure. She was totes speeding. And we were totes egging her on.

Do we go up on the mountain? YES. So we start loading up the car (dogs and all) when Ali, Aimee’s sister calls and says she see’s funnels forming behind her house which is next to the mountain. We unload the dogs and run back into the house. What do we do?

We yelled at each other a little more. Nobody panic though.

We eventually made a decision (I think I bullied them into it). We went to Bonnie’s that was about 2 miles down the road to stay in her basement. I’ve never seen Maury drive so fast. I think she ran red lights. Maybe that’s my imagination… I’m pretty sure she california stopped those… But we were safe! And I have five more tornado stories since then.

Tonight we’re anticipating some severe storms. With the drop in temperature, it’s perfect tornado weather. I have both of my windows open and as I was finishing up work stuff, I kept hearing a train. And then I realized, it was a real train not a tornado.

In lieu of a slight, “Not again,” moment I decided I’m too young to part with the world. I have 30 Things I Want To Do Before 30 (thanks Natalie!).

Here they are:

  1. Moonwalk at a wedding I crashed
  2. Write a Women’s Devotional (I’ve started!)
  3. Learn how to make cookies. I just can’t.
  4. Paint a picture of heaven while blindfolded in a park with Jesus
  5. Learn more Spanish. No habla español, chica.
  6. Spend an entire afternoon at a cooking class learning how to properly cook steak.
  7. Write a song, preferably about being in love with Jesus.
  8. Go on vacation just me and my mom (sorry mom, I’m a missionary. It’s on your budget.)
  9. Grow something useful. Not marijuana you hippies. Like a potato.
  10. Go back to Africa to share Christ with DiaDia
  11. Learn how to cook Ethiopian and Senegalese food.
  12. Make hilarious YouTube video with Christine. CAUSE YALL.
  13. Watch the Star Wars movies. I’ve never seen one.
  14. Read 30 books. Wait, let me specify. I need to read them from start to finish. I cheat.
  15. Dance in the rain… I do that every year.
  16. Go legit camping. None of this “glamping” stuff.
  17. Get a dog. YES. I almost did it today and then I thought, “DUMB.”
  18. Go to Montana. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard.. Well. I’ve never heard anything, but I’m sure it’s beautiful!
  19. Learn how to kayak/be able to flip it. That’s terrifying.
  20. Stay the night in a treehouse with my California Avenue girls.
  21. Build a fort with chairs, sheets and Christmas lights and watch all the classic Christmas movies.
  22. Invite a homeless man to eat at a restaurant with me and hear about his life.
  23. Go to a park and secretly recruit random strangers to participate in a water balloon fight. There will be a red team and a blue team.
  24. Do one thing I’m majorly terrified of each year (ie: hold a spider. ride a roller coaster. No more ziplining. I’m done with that).
  25. Dress up as a man (with fake facial hair) and walk around with a camera man interviewing people about news that didn’t actually happen.
  26. Marry somebody I guess.
  27. Move back overseas to reach the 10/40 window.
  28. Memorize the book of Colossians. It’s my jam.
  29. Own my own furniture. DREAM BIG.
  30. And lastly, be in Epiphanie’s wedding in the Cameroon. :)

Obedience And The Love Of God

Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, is a beast when it comes to handling the Word. I have never listened to a sermon by him and thought, “Yeah, God didn’t use that for my sanctification.” This sermon was no different.

This morning I needed to breakaway and spend some good, long quality time with Jesus. I have been struggling with surrendering something to the Lord (maybe I’ll blog specifically about that in about a month). I felt the Lord pushing and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be open to that God in about two years.” My prayers looked like this, “I see that you’re trying to show me something here. I am going to look at it and acknowledge it before you. I’m not going to fully give it to you, but I’m not going to take it either.” Talk about an elephant in the room…

I was convicted (a few times this week) while talking to friends who said, “Yeah, what you’re doing is not actually praying.” Or another friend who straight out said, “You’re like Jonah running from God.” Ouch. I needed it, but whew!

I went through my podcasts this morning to just break away with the Lord alone and was skimming through my Église Nouvelle Vie, Desiring God and The Village Church messages. I went to the bottom and saw, “Motivations for Obedience.” Perfect.

I think this sermon is so worth listening to especially for those of us who on our default have a hard time trusting that the Lord’s will and leading is always meant for His glory and our joy. This past week I’ve been convicted that when I’m not 100% surrendering everything to Christ I’m essentially saying He can’t be trusted. I look at the unknown with dread rather than excitement that my heavenly father wants to go on an adventure. And He is so good!

This message helped my perspective in regards to the struggle for my will be done, my view of the Lord, and was a fresh reminder that the word of God is refreshing to our souls and leads us to the abundant life.

The Sprouting Up.

Sometimes I get discouraged because I see grapes when I wanted watermelon.

I picture the harvest, and I don’t see these little fruits you have to prick individually off a vine. I see huge fruit; I see watermelons. The problem is ministry isn’t always going to be full of fruit so large you trip over it. While I wish life was like going to a 5 year old’s Easter Egg Hunt where the treasure is oftentimes in plain view, it just isn’t. Sometimes our role is pulling weeds, prepping the soil, sowing the seeds. Sometimes you don’t see any fruit and other times you see grapes. And sometimes you look to heaven and see the garden of God’s promises and faithfulness.

I took this morning and afternoon off to pray, seek the Lord’s wisdom, to cry out to Him [literally] and lay my heart bare before the Lord. “God, I need you to show up. I need You to provide. I need you to move.” I will admit, I’ve been through a week of increasingly hard discouragement. I called my sister two times in a row {sign of distress} and she finally called me back and I said, “I called. And you weren’t there. I needed you. I’m in the pit of despair.” To which she laughed and said, “Dramatic much?” [TRUTH.] We both laughed and then I got to share my heart about what is hard about this season of life and where I’m struggling.

I went before the Lord with the same concerns this morning and asked for Him to show up through His word. I began reading in Isaiah 50 and continued to Isaiah 52. In Isaiah 51:3 God’s word says,

“The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.”

I had to remember this morning, even the little sprouts that spring up are reminders of God’s faithfulness. He is worthy to be praised at all times even when I can’t see any fruit or I don’t see what I want. I hold on to this promise knowing that God has redeemed my life and is working in me. I might feel as though I’m in the desert but God will cause it to blossom. I am seeing grapes right now and need to remember that there will be the fullness of the Lord’s garden. It may take time to cultivate, but the Lord is faithful to make produce fruit for His glory and His name’s sake.

I’m holding on to the promise of joy and gladness this afternoon knowing that our God is good. Always.

Missionary Prayer Cards

I love design and I love the fact that I get to use this passion in a couple different facets of my job as a Career Missionary with Cru. Prayer letters, prayer cards, outreach materials, etc. YUM. It’s slightly therapeutic for me to mix and match patterns, colors, overlays, new fonts (Thanks Maggie) and see what works and what doesn’t!

Here’s what I’ve been playing around with for my prayer cards. I haven’t decided if I’m going to put magnets on the back so that people can put these on their fridge or not, but… I probably will. I want to create something for people to put in their Bibles as well to remember to be praying for our ministry. But right now, I got the hook up with a friend who is printing these for me at cost, so I don’t want to do too much. You know. I’ll only be able to afford so many Starbucks gift cards for payment.

Prayer Card 1:

Option1

Prayer Card 2:

Option2

I’m still tweaking these of course. And, yes I’ll have my real phone number in these. I’d rather the interwebs didn’t have access to that. ;) Sorry guys.

And I got to play around a little after realizing I didn’t need to create a back to these if there was going to be a magnet for a back. ;)

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THAT IS ALL.

Bible Studies and Sacrificed Sheep

I am so baffled by God’s goodness right now and slightly drowsy from my emotional high that is now declining that I don’t know quite where to begin this one. Let’s start with Senegal. When we arrived in Senegal in 2011, our team reconnected with Awa, a friend of Paige’s. Awa invited us to celebrate EID or Tabaski, a Muslim holiday, with her family. We said yes, and then went home to study what Tabaski was all about! Tabaski is a holiday that remembers when God provided the ram for Abraham when he was going to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22). For Christians, this is a foreshadow of what God provided through Christ. Christ was God’s provision for our sins; he was the spotless lamb. For two years, we celebrated Tabaski with the Sylla family and tried to connect the bridge to God’s ultimate provision. This year, being in America, I thought, “I want to celebrate Tabaski.” I have a Senegalese friend in America (and she’s my favorite friend ever). I thought, “I’ll see what she’s doing!” After wrestling through my reasons (wanting to recreate a mini-Senegal or to share Hope?), I finally laid down my rights, asked people to pray with me for this weekend, and invited myself to my Senegalese-American friend’s Tabaski party. “Oh, is Tabaski Saturday? Do you have plans? Oh, me? No, I am not busy. No, I don’t need to rest. Oh, how kind of you to think to invite me!”  I don’t think I have time to share exactly everything that happened, but let me explain some CRAZY things that God did! 1. There were two New Testaments in the house.  Two of the kids received two New Testaments for free from someone from school. As I was sitting on the couch, one of the kids came up to me and said, “Auntie, will you read this to me?” And handed me a NT. ARE YOU FOR REAL? And I’m sitting there in the middle of all these adults thinking, “Um. I’m the only Christian in here. Am I allowed to read the Bible to your kids in front of you?” So, I respectfully said, “In a little bit we will read it.”

2. The grandson of a famous Senegalese Serigne asked to study the Bible. I’m not lying. A serigne in Senegal is a big deal. It’s like.. a sect? Their pictures are all over people’s homes, cars, bracelets, etc. It’s like a more influential saint/pastor/marabout. So, this guy and his uncle are the leaders of the Senegalese Islamic conferences in America. He wanted to know about Peter’s betrayal of Jesus, why we call the Jesus the Messiah, and a host of other things. He pulled out one of the kid’s New Testaments and we end up studying parts of John and Matthew. I told him to read the book of Matthew, write down any questions and we can meet again to discuss them.

3. What that guy said. He pulled me into a different room to talk to me, which I was so uncomfortable with but it was okay. He said [paraphrased of course], “I talk to a lot of people about God, but you’re different. I can see it. I can see God’s light shining out of you. I know that now I don’t need to talk. I need to listen.”

I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THIS STUFF UP. 

I literally almost started crying on the spot, but I knew I couldn’t. God is real. He is pursuing people, and He wants to be seen. He wants the world to know there is hope, abundant life and JOY. There’s forgiveness of sins found in Christ, our atonement. There’s eternal security and assurance of salvation from being sealed by the Spirit. We can know that we will be in Heaven with God for all eternity because we are accepted by God because of Christ’s payment on the cross for our sins and the fact that He conquered the grave in His resurrection. We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves of Christ and free in Him. I love that sharing this hope is something I get to do all day everyday-on Cru staff or working at an office. You truly never know who you’ll meet where and who God will lead you to.

I shopped in bulk at DaySpring.

But it wasn’t clothing, so I’m still good right?

I just felt the need to share this STEAL with you. I write a lot of birthday cards, thank you notes, words of encouragement, thinking of you’s, and congratulations notes. Cards are the most unbelievably expensive things on this planet. It’s folded paper, y’all. Now, handmade cards are another story. But paying $3.99 for something a company machine pressed for .02 in China? I don’t think so.

After storming the aisles of Walgreens in search of a birthday card for a friend, I thought, “I need to pull a Costco and just get these in bulk that come in variety.” BINGO. Since I am too broke not mature enough to have a Costco membership, I took to the interwebs.

I ended up on DaySpring’s website. If you don’t know about DS, they started out with the vision of taking the message of Jesus into homes through cards. Their first card was a Christmas card of a man who had just opened up all the presents under his tree and was still in despair. The card read, “When you get right down to it… Jesus is the only thing that really matters.” Ha, gutsy for their first card. I would have thought maybe like, “Joy to the world,” nope. They went for it. Obviously, these cards are right up my alley. [ALSO: They support missions stateside and in Guinea-Bissau! :) That's near Senegal and I have two friends that were missionaries there! I'm in love.].

After poking around their site, I found these great blank cards with verses on the inside. How perfect for my Bible study girls, to send as thinking of you notes, words of encouragement etc!

Dayspring photo christian cards

I love the tea cups!

I love the tea cups!

Cute, right?

Now here’s the best part. I got them in bulk. They came 12 to a box and 48 boxes to one order. That’s 576 cards. [T&L, guess what you're getting in your stockings??].

Originally the cards were: $239.52 {$0.42 per card}

On sale they are [as in go order some]: $72 {$0.13 per card}

Now, with tax and shipping: $92.14. {$0.16 per card}

As I was checking out I thought, “Oh! I forgot about RetailMeNot.” I checked RMN for an online promo code or coupon [sidenote: never shop online without first checking eBates and then checking RMN]. I looked and found a coupon for 15% off my entire order [enter THANKYOU15 at checkout]. Bringing my final cost down to…

Final Cost: $80.28 {$0.14 per card}. 

I am so excited about these cards I CANNOT EVEN. You’re probably thinking, “Mary. That’s over 500 cards.” My cousin already told me she’d buy some from me and I’ll do more than a few as stocking stuffers and birthday presents, so I won’t keep all 500+. But still. At less than $2/box, that makes a great stocking stuffer and gift!

Thank you DaySpring for making quality cards that are truly affordable and helpful for us snail mail goobs! :)

Week 2 Reveal: 100 Days of Shopping Your Closet

{I am participating in a 100 Days of Shopping My Closet Challenge where I refrain from purchasing any new clothing, accessories or shoes until December first. See the original post here. Ladies, do this with me. But you know, in your own closets!}

Saturday

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It was a casual day for sure with very little sleep the night before, so I apologize I did not get a real picture in this outfit. But, say hello to my big sister who came in town for 9 hours! :) Longer than her last visit so that’s good!

{{Headband} gift.

{{V neck}} Old Navy $7

{{Shorts}} NYC $20 (2010)

{{Sister Time}} Priceless

 

 

Sunday

Michelle, Shelly, Erica, Lauren and I

Michelle, Shelly, Erica, Lauren and I

I was invited to speak at a Sunday School class at Broad Street United Methodist Church. I really enjoyed my time there and enjoyed my entourage. :)

I may have learned that while my NRA coffee mug is the best travel mug I’ve ever had, maybe don’t bring that to a speaking engagement…

{Dress}} Goodwill $7.50

{{Shoes}} TJ Maxx $15 2010

{{Necklace}} Sammy Dress $3

 

 

Monday

African Wax Shorts

African Wax Shorts

I think this may be the last time I get to wear these shorts this season. Goodbye summer, hello fall!

My tailor reluctantly made these shorts for me in Senegal. In Senegal it’s immodest to show your legs. I promised him I wouldn’t wear them in Senegal.

{{Top}} NYC Outlet

{{Sweater}} Old Navy $15

{{Shorts}} Senegal $7

{{Shoes}} TJ Maxx $15 2010

{{Necklace: Target $17}}

 

 

Tuesday

Tuesday Here’s one of my favorite shirts I own. It says, “Life just add water.” I bought it from a company called Sevenly that makes these shirts and sells them to raise money for charities. This shirt aided building wells in Africa. :)

You can check out their store by clicking my above tab “Shop For Good”.

{{Shirt}}  Sevenly.org $18

{{Jeans}} Jessica Simpson $10

I probably wore my Chacos with this.

#EastTennProblems

 

Wednesday

Wednesday I had a few meetings this day and LOVED this outfit. I completely forgot about this jacket.

{{Jacket}}

{{Chiffon Shirt}} Forever 21

{{Jeans}} Old Navy $14

{{“Joy” Necklace}} Forever21 $5

I wore this outfit with little black pointy, pleather flats I bought from Target in 2008.

 

 

 

Thursday

It's not this bright in real life.

It’s not this bright in real life.

 

I wore this outfit at our training in Orlando and the teacher called me to the front of the room and asked everyone, “Is the outfit Mary’s wearing appropriate for an appointment?” My face turned about as bright as this shirt, until he exclaimed, “YES!”

As extraverted as I am, I don’t do public situations like that. Eesh.

{{Shirt}} Burke’s Outlet $10

{{Pants}} DKNY Jeans (Marshalls) $10

I wore this outfit with little black pointy, pleather flats I bought from Target in 2008.

 

 

Friday

FridaysOutfit I feel like a 60 year old women in these jeans, so I may or may not have to put these ones up for resale. Mom jeans to the max due to the large size.

{{Shirt}} Forever 21 gift from my sister

{{“Joy” Necklace}} Forever21 $5

{{Pants}} Merona brand, Goodwill $4

Here’s the thing. I like the polka dot, mint pants. I really do. But they are a size 6. They fit in the legs but nowhere else so I need a belt and a butt. I have neither.

Anyone a size 6 want these pants?