This one time I got a tattoo.

And by this one time, I mean multiple times. I am just going to share with you the background story of one of my tattoos and what it means to me, but first, let me set the stage for you.

The summer of 2012 was the worst summer of my life for various reasons.

I hope and pray that it will remain the worst, hardest and most painful season of my life. I had just come back from my first year on STINT and was anxiously awaiting the return to the motherland. I came back to America and struggled badly with reverse culture shock (basically, everything in your culture of origin is no longer “normal” to you). I had a hard time drawing boundaries with time and people’s expectations and the guilt that followed when I did not meet those expectations.

I was dating someone long distance and couldn’t quite figure that whole situation out. Broke up with said man, went through the ringer with another, and lost a good friend. All in 4 months. It was horrible. Sounds like the perfect time to get a permanent, ever-present, visible-at-all-seasons tattoo right? ;) Well, that’s exactly the season I got this tattoo in.

The story.

I had been thinking about getting another tattoo for a few months. Maybe. I can’t remember. That whole summer, honestly, is quite the blur. Anyway, I knew I wanted a feather because of the illustration of God’s love for us in Matthew. [SIDENOTE: It ain't a leaf, y'all]. While at our STINT reunion over labor day in Charlotte, I decided, “Now’s a great time to get that tattoo. John-Mark, draw me something and I’ll go get it.” I decided what color I wanted it in based off of Whitney’s nail color. Basically, this is my STINT team’s fault.

We’re in a Fish Taco place next to a tattoo parlor [Another sidenote: Fish Tacos are gross.] with time to spare, so I walked on next door and asked how much a little blue and white tattoo would be and when I could get it. The sweet lady behind the counter told me to put down a deposit and come back tomorrow. The next day, we wake up and go to church. The sermon is on Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Hilar. I decided in church that I was going through with the decision to get the tattoo. That’s not something you hear everyday…

I love that this passage talks about God’s provision to the birds and then where it segways into our importance to God. He sees us. He provides for us in all ways.  Now, note during that season I was more than likely thinking just financial. I’m a missionary. We constantly have to trust God to provide in this area of our lives. But. I have seen God use that little blue feather on my finger as a reminder to me that He meets my needs in every way possible. He redirects my heart to the truth of his word even when I think I don’t need it.

In Him, there’s fullness and joy. Our God is an abundant God and He isn’t lacking in anything, so whatever need I have (need of grace, love, acceptance, peace, etc) He fulfills it.

I’ve learned a lot about how God loves me and sees me these past two years. He is perfect. And He perfectly loves me. I see that in His beautiful and bountiful provision of grace, I’m able to run with liberty towards Him in His holiness knowing that in Him, I’m complete, secure and cared for! God is too cool, y’all.

That’s the story behind my blue tattoo of a feather on my finger.

fingertattoo

100 Days of Shopping My Closet: Week 1 Reveal

 {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!}

Sorry friends, I forgot to take a picture of a few outfits so this post is a wee bit short, but I’ll try harder the next 94 days :)

Outfit One:

outfit1 This is my “go to” summer look. I have a ton of Senegalese skirts and dresses that have fun prints, but I can never seem to break out of wearing them with black or white v-necks. Hello missionary… I love that denim button ups are back. Did they actually ever leave?

{{Shirt: originally Gap. Purchased at Goodwill $3}}

{{Dress: New York And Company Outlet: $7}}

{{Watch: Target $20}}

{{Earrings: Target $8.00}}

 

 

 

Outfit Two:

outfit of the dayI had a Skype meeting Monday, so I really didn’t feel all that pressured to dress super nice… Well, from the bottom down at least. I felt horrible in this outfit all day. Nothing really went together-the colors, the textures. I felt a mess. Those pants from 2007 are my “closer to 120″ pants not my “you’re almost 30 now and closer to 130 so stop wearing these pants” pants.

I wore this for my meeting and then changed into yoga pants and a tee.

{{Shirt: stole from my sister $0}}

{{Teal Crop Sweater: New York and Company $25}}

{{Jeans: Wet Seal 2007 $15}}

{{Necklace: Target $17}}

 

Outfit Three:

Thursday1 First, that’s my hair all natural. Excuse the Lion’s mane. Two: TY Elise for snapping this photo.

So a little about this outfit… The shirt comes from a Fuggi Jaay market in Senegal. Literally, the salesmen shake out bags of clothes, lay them on the street, and then sell them. This shirt was on a hanger, so it was a little more pricey.

{{Shirt: F&F at Fuggi Jaay market 1500 CFA=$3 USD}}

{{Jeans: Old Navy $19}}

{{Bracelets: Forever 21 $6}}

{{Shoes: TJ Maxx $15 tax-free weekend 2010}}

100 Days of Shopping My Closet: Day 5

{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!}

Temptation is real, y’all.

As I was skimming through FB on my phone when I couldn’t fall asleep, I saw this ad.

asian market shoes

Not a big deal to the average person right? But wait. I need to fill you in on my boot problem. Last fall/winter, I looked for boots in over 25 different stores and five different states. Let that sink in. Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina and Kentucky.

I found one pair of boots I liked at a secondhand boutique but they were1.5 sizes to small. Despair. I want a slight heel, but not too high-heeled that I can’t wear them in snow. I want a slightly rounded toe but not too round (like last year’s) because I want to be able to wear them for the next 15 years. And because I want them for the next 15 years, I want them to be quality and genuine leather. I don’t want anything decorative. Nothing fancy, but nothing plain. I almost cave every time and just buy a pair of $70 boots that may last 3 years, but I want investment pieces. I don’t want to throw away money every other year.

So this ad was a temptation. While they more than likely aren’t quality boots [they aren't.], they are $20  a pop. Get out. But. 100 Day challenge said, “Girl, you need to recognize.” So I recognized. And screen shot the page… for a later reminder.

100 Days of Shopping My Closet: Day 1

I took the Dave Ramsey course on Financial Peace, and my favorite thing was creating a budget. One area of my budget I always blow is the gifts category. I love supporting students going on mission, treating people to coffee or lunch and just giving gifts. The second area is my clothing/accessories budget. I always find good deals, and they just get me. While I generally shop wholesale, second hand or TJ Maxx Clearance, $8 dollars here and $15 dollars there adds up.

I am not purchasing any new (or used) clothing or accessories until December 1st. At all. 

Why?

Well, one: I don’t have it in my budget right now anyways. And after reading Jesse Coulter’s blog about not shopping, I decided I could do it too!

Two: A part of my job involves asking people to sacrifice their temporary wants to invest in eternity. See Join My Team to understand what I’m talking about. While I do support people monthly already, I could be doing more. I choose not to because I want a new sweater, a gray v-neck and a deep gray v-neck, new earrings that I’ll wear once, etc. I can insert this in with whatever. And I’m not going extreme on this with “Christians can’t have nice things…” but living in a third world country and seeing people sacrifice there puts into perspective how much more I, personally, could be doing. I don’t feel that I can ask people to sacrifice just a bit more if I’m unwilling to do the same.

Three: Life needs to calm itself. Does anyone else notice how quickly women’s fashion trends change and how great the pressure is to stay up with the latest trends? Do you also notice that guys fashion trends are the same v-necks they’ve been for the past 18 years (Hanes v-neck undershirts, am I right dads?) and the same style polo shirts for the past 30? Simon Crompton of Permanent Style said, “There is some pure creativity in men’s fashion but, unlike womenswear, it rarely touches the regular Joe.” True. That. We as women get new “in” colors every season. New cuts for dresses. New styles for shirts… I even saw this in Senegal. A student was talking to me about a fabric choice that was “very last season.”  Life, you move too fast. Slow down.

*And fourthly: I hate the dumb American dream. I want to get that as far from my heart as possible. This is a start.

How?

By the power of the Holy Spirit…

And my mom. My mom has access to my online banking statements. She’ll be my accountability partner in this and will be able to vouch for me that I stayed true until December 1st.

And avoidance of all and any TJ Maxx store because that’s my drug.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes and some struggles I’ll face while doing this over three seasons. :) And maybe I’ll start fashion blogging a little with some of my old-new outfits.

Here’s too 100 days of shopping my closet!

Another Story For That Book… {FaceTime}

A sweet friend has gently encouraged me to write a book about all the ridiculous things that happen to me {cf: the time I got handed a brochure with my picture in it, the time a woman broke into my home and drank coffee out of my mug, when I told a woman in French the serial number was located on her butt…}. You know, just those everyday Mary situations.

Alas, here’s another one to add to the ever growing list of embarrassing moments that I’m sure God is using for the pure joy of keeping me humble.

My iPhone is on crack.

There; I said it. Let me give some grace and let you know, I have dropped it a few times and broke the off button. I oftentimes forget that and after a call will place my phone in my purse or pocket and accidentally, I don’t know, maybe call the police? Twice. I know you’re thinking, “How do you derriere-dial the police twice?” I have them on my speed dial. SEE COFFEE CUP STORY FOR JUSTIFICATION.

Yesterday I was going to grab dinner real quick and thought, “I need to call my friend Kyle to see if he will help me find a used guitar in Chattanooga.” I don’t like to text and drive so I thought, “Just use Siri. She’s ever so helpful.”

Not.

“Call Kyle Cashen..”, are the words that came out of my mouth.

I put my phone in my lap and hear, “Facetiming YOUR EX-BOYFRIEND WHO IS NOW MARRIED.” {replace all the caps with his actual name}.

I freaked.

I grabbed the phone all the while yelling, “No, no, no, no, no, no!” nearly losing my breath, passing out and hoping for Willy Wonka infused dreams to get me out of this nightmare. In my desperate attempt to end that awkward impending doom, I hit the wrong button and lost the screen. I was trying to drive, not crash my car and not crash a marriage via Facetime. “Ahaaa, heyyyy guyyysss…”

In my panicked manner, I look down and see “Y.E.B.W.I.N.M. is unable to Facetime at this moment.” I literally drove home with my hand over my mouth that I could not close for some reason. Phew. That was a close one.

So my tidbit of advice to you all, if you’re going to have an ex-boyfriends number in your phone, save them as YOUR EX-BOYFRIEND WHO IS NOW MARRIED to avoid accidentally calling, texting or Facetiming them.

Thanks for nothing, Siri.

 

Not always Etsy. Not always.

The Story: You Just Drank Out Of My Cup

While not trying to make a big deal about this on social media for fear of embarrassing the persons involved, I will try to refrain from my usual dramatics and just tell the story like it is. Now, after the shock, it is a little funny. Don’t worry, names** have been changed to protect all parties involved. They are quite realistic, though, so just be careful when retelling this true tale to not get confused.

Let’s rewind to last week. Well actually, let me brief you on my current living situation. I’m living in the upstairs of my Grandma’s** house. It used to be an attic area, but she converted it with it’s own bathroom to be a pretty nice sized loft. I always joke and say, “I live in an attic.” That’s only partly true. It’s actually one of my favorite rooms I’ve ever had.

My lovely Loft.

My lovely Loft.

Back to last week! I was working from home making a few phone calls trying to get appointments set up. I was on the phone with my mom explaining some Cru stuff when I hear, “Mary, Lady Gaga** is coming up!” And I’m like, “Who’s this Lady** coming up into my room during work hours?” But of course, southern belle personality, you never say something like that to a complete stranger.

Well, Lady Gaga** enters the room in such a fury, almost not acknowledging my presence (or the fact that I was on the phone (FIRST SIGN she was never a mom to teenage girls)), and begins walking around frantically upstairs. “Wow, this is a pretty decent sized upstairs… you’ve got two beds. One here, one there. And a bathroom. Neat. Wow, a closet [THEN SHE ENTERS SAID CLOSET].”

Said closet. Lighting isn't so great, so sorry.

Said closet. Lighting isn’t so great on this side of the tundra, so sorry.

And then just like that the Lady** went right back downstairs.

[BIZARRE].

The only thing that really went through my mind was: BOUNDARIES. I need to talk to my Grandma** about my job being a real job, 40-50 hours a week, and my space is my work space. I walk downstairs after my conversation and before anything could come out of my mouth my sweet 78-year-old Grandma** says, “I am so sorry about the intrusion. She just walked in the house. I tried to stop her but she just wanted to go upstairs.” Confused I asked, “Who was she?” My Grandma** explained she was an acquaintance that she hadn’t seen in THREE YEARS.

THREE YEARS PEOPLE. And she just thought it was okay to walk into someone’s house unannounced and look around the whole house asking, “What do those stairs lead to?… The basement? What’s down there?… What about these stairs?”

AND THEN… It gets worse. [Sorry, remembering to refrain from the dramatics].

Today, my Grandma* was expecting company around 10:30-11. At around 10:15 she hopped in the shower and I went back to my Loft to get some cleaning done. As soon as I sit down and put on a Bryan and Katie Torwalt song I hear footsteps coming up the stairs. In the back of my mind I’m thinking how horrible would it be if that was Lady Gaga**. I turn around and I see that same Lady** in my upstairs. I think, “Surely, that’s one of Grandma’s** bridge buddies.” Then I look down at her pants and realize, “Nuh, uh. Ain’t no southern belle coming to a bridge hangout with her friends in sweat pants. That’s Lady Gaga**.”

So, I panic a little realizing it’s me and Grandma** in the house alone. And Grandma** is in the shower. She won’t hear me scream. By the time I think to say something, Lady Gaga** is three inches away from me staring at my screen saying, “I kept hearing this song. It’s so beautiful. Who sings it? I heard it and had to come up. It is so beautiful.”

Bryan and Katie Torwalt, I fear what would have happened if that song wasn’t on. You saved my life. [DRAMATICS].

She starts walking around again frantically, this time making her way into my bathroom and rummaging through there. She comes out and says, “You sure do have a lot of stuff. You should sell some for money.” She then starts roaming around and looks at the twin sized bed and asks, “Who sleeps there?” I AM LIVING THE HIGH LIFE ALONE LADY GAGA**.

As soon as she starts walking back downstairs she sees my cup of coffee (first one in like 6 days people) and says, “Oh, this one’s still warm.” SHE PICKS THE CUP UP. PUTS THE CUP TO HER LIPS. AND DRINKS. Oh, and thennnn… she says, “MMMM. YUM YUM YUM YUM.”

That was the last straw. I called the cops. Ain’t no Lady** wandering around my house TWO TIMES and drinking my coffee OUT OF MY CUP.

Not always Etsy. Not always.

Not always Etsy. Not always.

CONCLUSION

She left before the cops came. We went back and forth with the police about a report and what could be done for her. Realizing there’s something psychologically wrong there made me want to push for us to make a complaint so that legally they would be able to intervene and help. Annnnd keep her from me, my Grandma** and my coffee.

XOXO

MLouise

 

PPS-  After the initial shock wore off, I realized that was a very potentially dangerous situation. It shook me up quite a bit. I write this blog with humor just to share what happened, but know I am taking this very seriously. Thanks for reading my bizarre stories of things that LITERALLY only happen to me and sympathizing, laughing and crying with me!

Expectant Faith in Climbing the Mountain

I listened to a break-out session from a woman with SoulSurvivor during one of our breaks at New Staff Training. She was talking about expectations versus expectant faith. We tend to think of that having expectations is such a negative thing. Really, we need to be checking where our hope and trust is found even in having those expectations. Expectations=not bad. Misplaced hope and trust=detrimental.

This lady, I’ll have to look up her name soon, then talked about expectant faith. She talked about having faith in God’s promises knowing that they will one day be fulfilled. We can pray big, huge prayers that align with scripture knowing that God will one day cause them to be fulfilled. I just love that.

Because God is good and faithful, we know that He is working even when we don’t see instant results. We can know that He is calling the nations to Himself even when we see little fruit in hard to reach countries like Senegal. I can trust that even when my eyes can’t see it, I can have expectant faith that God is and will do an amazing work in the 10/40 window.

I can trust, with this new shift to full-time campus staff stateside, that not only is God reaching college students but He is using them to reach the nations. He is bringing all tribes, tongues and nations to Himself. I am excited to be a part of this in the US getting the amazing opportunity to reach out, pour out and send out college students to the nations.

If you can’t tell, I have expectant faith that God will rebuild the movement at ECU and blow all of us away at what He does through these students. So here’s to climbing the mountain (maybe the Appalachian!) with expectant faith trusting God to provide and to move in my heart and the hearts of college students everywhere.

Cru Beginnings

:) Howdy y’all!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged and I really want to update you on my placement!

First, let me post this celeb picture:

VonetteBright

That is me and the co-founder of Cru, Vonette Bright. She is amazing. We got a chance to hear her speak twice at our New Staff Conference. One, she’s very entertaining. Two, she is one of the most humble persons I’ve ever met. Everything she said about Bill, Cru, other ministries was saturated in grace. If I ever grow to be half the woman of faith and grace that she is, I’ll be completely content.

Also, ignore my awkward hand. I was trying to not let my certificate from the Commissioning Ceremony touch the floor. I ended up losing it later that night as I took home my roommates instead of mine and then I’m not sure what happened to mine… I’m still kicking myself.

Placement update!

As you know, when we join staff with Cru we’re joining staff with Cru being willing to go wherever there is a need. I am excited to announce that I have been placed at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina!

ECU Pirates I do realize that I left UTC who are the Mockingbirds to go to ECU which is a bearded Pirate. :) Maybe the UTC train conducting moc can be on the Pirate’s shoulder.

I am really excited about working with the staff team there at ECU. So far, Jeff and Lindsey Rhea are the only full-time staff on campus. There are two guys who are currently completing their Ministry Partner Development, and one girl (who is THE cutest) intern, and another staff woman Jen who is engaged to Kevin! She’s not back yet from serving overseas, so be praying for her right now. And then whenever you think about her. Due to her secure location, I’m not going to post her picture. But I’ll post SO many as soon as we’re both on campus together! Which fits nicely into my next transition… I am hoping to get to campus by January to jump in on the spring semester! Please be praying for that!

Here’s a picture of the Rheas, Kevin and Adam! (Thanks Kevin!)

1501674_10203101485404294_480245435_n

And of course, sweet Danielle!

img_0102

 

 

Lil Jen!

Lil Jen!

So that’s my new staff team! It’s coming together quite nicely! Thanks so much for your continued prayers as we all seek the Lord and seek to make Him known among the nations! Check out our website: http://www.ecucru.wordpress.com!

XOXO

Mary