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!)

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And of course, sweet Danielle!

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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

Sisterhood of the Traveling.. Stuff. #WCW

Welp, it’s my first night back in my Tennessee loft. There’s a lot more quiet around here than at New Staff Training (NST) and a lot less humidity. I suppose I should praise the Lord for both of these variants, but boy am I suffering from NST withdraws! I wish I could go across the hall to Amy and Cait’s room or Leslie’s and Rach’s room and laugh for hours.

I’m sorry. RUDE. I haven’t blogged in FOR_EV_ER, so you don’t know who any of these people are. Before I begin explaining who these beauts are, I want to share such a fun “spiritual yummy” with you.

My first year on STINT, a part of our team covenant was that we’d fight to believe that all the members on our team were God’s provision to us. He provided those people, specifically placed each one on our team, and we were fully complete in Christ and not lacking anyone. I loved that idea. It really helped us to value each person and seek deep relationships with each other. I learned so much from each person on my team and love them mucho.

Going into NST, I had some expectations about training, but did not expect to walk away with a new group of prayer warrior, spunky, fun and inspiring girlfriends. I really just expected the Lord to revitalize my heart, recast vision for college ministry stateside, and to leave 100% certain this was where the Lord was leading. He exceeded all of these expectations and lavished His blessing on me through these women (and MANY others!). Truly, they were God’s provision in my life. I LOVE sisterly community and felt the Lord work through these women in my life in deep ways! Each person was specifically placed to help teach me something about myself, joy, prayer, the Lord, and community. I love each of these girls!

For my first Woman Crush Wednesday in a while I’m posting a picture of all these ladies. Here’s a few of my favorite memories with them: anointing oil, wobble dance party, mooing at people in Chick-Fil-A, EATING A STINKING LEAF, nerdy bowling, Gary, 1000 puppies, “Can I borrow that?”, “Stop.”, “Doesn’t this African kid look like Mary Mac?”, dock time, what are the odds, “I just want to dance”, skin & cheese cooler, “I’m not one of the 9″, whole fears, and my last but of course not least the one and only Jasmine Foulda.

Girls, I love everything about y’all. Happy Wednesday Friendsday ;)

New Staff Training Provision.

New Staff Training Provision.

Pink Sunsets and Africa

NEWSTAFFTRAININGCRUAlthough we’ve only really known each other for about 3 weeks, Elise and I ebb and flow together pretty well. We generally keep each other grounded to some extent. Well, last week was not one of those weeks. You see, we’re currently taking two Master’s level theology courses in two weeks. [Sidenote: help?]. It’s a lot of reading, a lot of studying, great projects, and very little sleep [ESTJ PROBS]. During this hellacious (um, maybe not the most appropriate word to describe our classes) prepatory training, we had a few minor [relative] spaz-oid moments. I was stressing; she was stressing too. We kind of fueled each other’s anxious flames… especially the day we got our placements, which will have to wait until another blog post.

Well, amid the glorious ruin of IBS classes, we made a great decision. While feeling a little [also relative] stressed with all of our assignments, we thought, “Let’s go down and read by the water!” On our way down, we see these two men and their dogs. I looked at Elise and said, “I just need to play with a dog for like five minutes. I’m going to pet that dog.” So I did.

As I was receiving much needed pet therapy, we struck up conversation with these two older men about life, Florida, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. It came up in conversation [or maybe I just always miss Africa and love talking about it so I inserted it in there...] that I lived in Africa. We talked a little bit about what I did there, Senegal, and how they needed to bypass all other American Dreams, sell all their possessions and just go ahead and move to Africa [what's life without a little adventure, right?]. Okay, so maybe I didn’t pressure them into selling everything, I did recommend visiting Senegal for mass amounts of time [nama naleen torop!].

Towards the end of the conversation, when the sun was setting, the man on the left said, “Do you know why sunsets here are pink?” Being a person who is baffled at the fact that the technology exists that can tell us at what moment the sun will set, I have no idea as to why the sunsets colors are the colors they are. Bypassing the first answer that popped into my mind, “Jeeessuuuss..”, I respond inquiringly, “Why?” He then leans in to tell me, almost like a secret, “Africa.”

“The sunsets here are affected by the heat and dust that comes off the Sahara belt. It makes our sunsets pink.”

Be still my wildly beating heart…

I walked away from that conversation enamored by God’s specific love for me. Of all the people I could have run into ['cause let's be honest, Florida is full of old people with dogs...] God placed these two men there. As Elise and I were sitting by the water and the sun was setting, I slipped deeper and deeper in love with my Savior. He sees me. He sees my heart.

He knows that part of me is and will always be there. He knows the depth of my heart that cried out, “Why?” when we saw so few students giving their lives to Christ. He reminds me almost daily that while I love Senegalese people, He loves them more. He beckons me with every pink sunset to pray for lives within the 10/40 window to move from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His glorious Son.

And being faithful, He will act.

weatherchannelphoto

To A New Creation.

Great-Is-Thy-Faithfulness

One of the things that I love about the Lord is His faithfulness. He is so steadfast in His pursuit of us; He never waivers. This is an indescribably hard character trait to fully grasp since even in our most dire efforts, we can only copy His faithfulness. Our best efforts at reproducing this quality resemble a parrot mimicking his master. While with His help we can reflect His faithfulness, His faithfulness is always more steadfast, more pure, and more full than ours. Daily, I’m left wondering how He is so faithful. But He is. Always.

I have had several conversations over the past week that made me think, “Lord, you are so good and so faithful to me.” I want to share a little bit about one of those conversations, and how I am seeing His faithfulness at every stage of life.

To A New Creation

I chatted the other day with an ex-boyfriend [I know, first mistake right?] that I dated way before I became a Christian. He was asking a lot of really great questions about faith, life, and the different lifestyle I live now that I’m a follower of Christ. He made some kind of comment, that I believe was genuine, and to the tune of, “I just can’t see a free-spirit like you ever being caged to something like Christianity.” As I tried to explain the freedom that’s only offered in Christ, it hit me. The way that I used to live (getting plastered every night, doing occasional drugs, and other things we won’t address here) was his view of self-liberation. And it made me so sad.

I started praying through our conversation and just got so overwhelmed with the fact that even at those moments or utter rebellion, God saw me and was merciful enough to withhold so many consequences that my actions merited. As uncomfortable as this conversation was in some ways, the Lord was allowing me to remember where my future, hopes and dreams were before meeting Him. I was enslaved to sin. I was an addict of finding people’s approval to the extent of being walked all over in so many ways. I was not only caged, but I was dead.  There’s only so long that “lifestyle” could have gone on before something happened.

I am so incredibly thankful that the something that happened was that the Lord stepped in and redeemed my life. As I sat there reflecting on a conversation that would generally make a lot of people frustrated, I just wept out of thankfulness!  It could not have been orchestrated any better. I just marvel at the work of the Lord in composing all the round about ways that I would come to know Him. He was faithful to me before I even knew Him. He is faithful to me today to answer my prayers in such sweet ways that draw me closer to Him.

I am thankful for my mom urging me to go to UTC. I am thankful for Andy W. and Doug B. who introduced me to Paul and Jason. I’m thankful for Megan H. who dragged me to the Cru Bible studies the first few times. And I am eternally grateful to my spiritual father, Paul, for laying down his rights and making Christ known to college students.

Y’all this is the reminder that I need, daily. Christ not only changes lives, He is the author of life. That life we thought we had before was counterfeit, a sad replicate, to what Christ offers. There’s true freedom, joy so deep, genuine acceptance and everlasting hope found in Jesus. That’s the message I am excited to bring to college students stateside.

He is faithful and true. His love endures forever.