The Very Worst Missionary

I just finished this book by Jamie Wright.

10/10 would recommend reading with a grain of salt.

She has some good points, but there is some shaky theology. She also uses some language so if Christians using language makes you mad just read the highlights and not the book.

Here are the things I pulled from the book( these are my opinion so if you disagree or agree take time and research it for yourself. I would recommend that you don’t just blindly follow me because I could be wrong.)

  1. Missionaries are normal people. Missionaries are not “more spiritual” because they decide to give up American (or their comfortable) culture for one that is different. They have similar struggles as the average American but we get shocked when we hear about their struggles.
  2. Our calling is not what we do as much as it is who we are while we do it. I used to be convinced that God would “call” me to suburban America because that was the environment I was least comfortable in. Now, I have realized it’s not where you are but who you are that matter. You can be a missionary anywhere and anytime. Some people are “called” to go overseas but Jesus simply said “Love your neighbor”. “I’m pretty sure he meant, like, my actual neighbor—the person or people nearest me at any given moment. At home. At work. On the subway. In the supermarket. Y’know, neighbors.”
  3. The only way to know how to truly love your neighbor is to truly know your neighbor. I’ve heard stories of short term missionaries going into a community and building a church or doing something and leaving and then the nationals tear down and rebuild it according to what’s common in that culture. If we go into missions with a savior mentality than we lose something crucial—relationships. Relationships are hard and time consuming. There is no physical measurement suggested for relationships. They don’t have the same measurements that say building a church does. You can say you built a church and built relationships, but you can only visually see one. You can’t see the hours spent talking over coffee and just simply being present. You can’t measure the depth of a relationship as a grande or venti. But the content of the time together matters.
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Reflections and “me too”

This week has been a tough one, but one full of reflecting on my life.

God is good.

Life is messy.

This detour was not in my plan. The longer this detour is going on, the harder it is to cling to that fact that God is good.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would be here. I figured my life as I knew it was over. I embraced the label of disability. By God’s grace, I’ve made it this far, but it’s not without hard work.

The past 15 months have been hard, but the next year will be even harder. It’s going to be hard and exhausting work to get back to floor nursing, but it’s not impossible (as of now).

This week God reminded me that my story is valuable and needed.

My story is my story, but it’s also God’s story. God is the master storyteller.

Morgan Harper Nichols says it best in her song, “The Storyteller”:

The mountain where I climbed

The Valley where I fell

You were there all along

That’s the story I’ll tell

You brought the pieces together

Made me this storyteller

Now I know it is well, it is well

That’s the story I’ll tell

I shouldn’t be ashamed of my story or think that God can’t redeem or use it. When I believe that, I am greatly underestimating the grandness of His power.

I’ve been thinking about the power of “me too”. There’s something about being vulnerable and admitting “me too”. We don’t say it because we’re afraid that people will think less of us-that we destroy that perfect image in their head. The thing about being vulnerable is that there is a line to not cross. We shouldn’t air our dirty laundry under the guise of vulnerability, but also we shouldn’t be ashamed of what happened to us or what we have done if we have repented of our sins.

My story is valuable because God can use it to bring himself glory. My story points to God as my healer and hope. If I choose share about what God has done and is doing, God might use it in someone else’s life.

I just have to be faithful and say “me too”.

Vulnerability.

Vulnerability. Community.

These words are used so often in resident life at Christian colleges that they begin to lose their meaning. We say things like “build community”, “be vulnerable and open”, and “facilitate community”.

Do we really know what we are asking for when we say these buzz words?

Vulnerability and community are incredible and beautiful aspects of belonging to a group of people. I have been blessed to be a part of a group that consistently reminds me of the value of these qualities. I’m not afraid to tell them if I’m having a bad day or I’m struggling keeping my thoughts positive.

“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”
― Brené Brown

As humans, we believe that showing people our true selves—our hurts, our desires, our passions, our insecurities—reflects that we are weak. In modern society, sharing our emotions is weak, and weakness of any sort is unacceptable. We try so hard to hide the messiness of our lives behind a thin-lipped smile or stifled laugh. We play pretend.

The reality is that vulnerability requires bravery. We are not weak when we share this part of ourselves with others. The part we hide behind our façade of “I’m OK. I’m tired. I’m busy”. These are safe answers when we do not desire to share our heart with other people. They are barriers that we need to put up because we cannot share our deepest desires and darkest secrets with every random person with whom we come into contact with.

Choosing to be vulnerable is risky and scary, but so much more rewarding than I could ever imagine. It opens the door for significant conversations about real life—the triumphs, the trials, the hurts. The very definition of the word vulnerable means “capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, open to assault, or difficult to depend”. When we become vulnerable with other people, we are choosing to enter into this place where we open up our hearts and lives to the point where we can get hurt. This place of unknown emotions where we share our souls with other individuals. I have been challenged this semester to be real, genuine and vulnerable with the people God has placed in my life.

My default setting is to simply assume that everyone could disappear because I have moved so many times. As a result, it is hard to be vulnerable and open with people because the more I open up, the greater the possibility of hurt.

The reality is that I can avoid getting hurt by putting up barriers, but what would I miss out on?

Deep conversations about God at 3 am.

Watching God reveal strengths in my life that others point out to me through my weakness.

Accepting that I am broken so that people can see God as he works in my life.

Sharing songs that speak to my heart with a dear friend.

Sharing my story with people who truly listen.

Reflecting God’s vision of community as we forgive and love each other in our brokenness.

As I challenge myself to be audacious, I decided to choose vulnerability.

To share my heart’s story with my closest friends. To speak the truth in love. To reveal pieces of myself in layers. To not hide behind the masks I put up to protect my heart.

The more I hide behind our masks, the more hurt I become because I feel truly alone in this big, challenging world. Sometimes, all it takes is realizing that someone else struggles with the same vices or doubts. We all have wounds. We all have hurts that cause us pain. There lies that deep-seeded loneliness that emerges in the midst of every success, the feeling of worthlessness that hides behind every accomplishment, and the meaninglessness that sneaks up on the good days which causes us to seek validation in human company, not God.

When you choose to be vulnerable, you allow people to enter into the story of God’s redemption in your life.

We do not feel so alone.

The Christian walk is not one that we can do by ourselves. We need to be surrounded by people who encourage us in our journey, who move us closer to God, and challenge us to keep trusting in God’s timing.

Vulnerability is a choice that is make every day as I choose to take off my mask and simply be a broken person loving broken people.

18 Things I Desire for 2018

A new year brings a new beginning and a fresh start. As this New Year begins, I am starting to think about what I want for this New Year. What do I want this year to be about? As I prayed about what I want for this year, two words came to mind: Fearless and Expectation. These words have played a part in my journey during this past year, and I believe they have a role to play in the year coming up. I made a list of things that I desire for the year ahead as I incorporate these words into my life. I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions, we tend to think that we will not complete our resolutions. They are normally just stated to help us feel good about our plans for the New Year. The idea behind what I want out of this year is growth and adventure. I want these items to contribute to how I interact with others and God.

Cross at least one item off of my bucket list

Life is meant for good friends and great adventures. The adventures of this new year comes from taking chances, stepping out of my comfort zone. In the spirit of being brave, I desire to take new adventures and check things off of my bucket list. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to pursue the things that you want, even if it just to say you did

Make new friends and deepen friendships.

2017 overflowed with new friendships, and I want 2018 to expand those relationships and make new friends throughout my adventures. Charles Swindoll writes, “I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun”. I do not know where I would be without the amazing friends I have and the ones I made this year. There is a moment when you meet someone and something clicks. You become friends, and they impact your life in ways you never thought of. This year I strive to be more vulnerable with the friends in my life. Inviting the people I love into my heart and life.

Be brave and expectant.

This appears general, but this word brave has been a theme for this year, and I want to continue to strive to step out in faith, being brave in the life God has given me. Brave (adj.) is defined as ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. This is who I want to be. I want to be a brave and audacious woman who embraces life regardless of any fear. This does not mean I will never fear hard situations or trials, but I will approach the situation with courage and grace.This is a year of recovery and new things. I’m expecting that God will do great things this next year.

Embrace the life of freedom I have been given.

As a child of God, I have been given freedom. I am no longer a slave to fear, perfection, and insecurity. I can embrace life with an attitude of freedom because Christ had given me life. Freedom from fear and insecurity is something that I have been wrestling with over the past year. This year, I am choosing to live in that freedom and embrace the Creator of the Universe.

Learn to make each moment, good or bad, count.

The thing about living a brave and free life is that I want to make every moment count. I do not want to look back on this year and regret the past moments and missed opportunities. I desire to look back on my year and say, “Wow. What a year!” because of the relationships I made and the moments that I allowed myself to live, I mean, truly live. I want to live life to the fullest, as I take step out of my shadow and be brave with my decisions.

Be intentional with the people in my life.

As I am intentional with my conversations, I can invest in people’s lives. At the end of the day, accomplishments are amazing, and material possessions are nice, but relationships are the only things that we can take with us to Heaven. People matter.

Spend more time discovering who God is.

This new year is a new opportunity to spend time discovering the Creator of the Universe and me. My relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life. I desire to spend more time intentionally getting to know God and allowing him to love me. To love the places in my heart where my deepest insecurities and hopes lie. Beth Moore writes, “May God remind us daily—no matter what kind of obstacles we face—that we are loved and empowered by the One who brought the universe into existence with the mere sound of His voice. Nothing is impossible for Him”. As I get to know God and delve into His word, He continues to love and empower me. He pushes me out of my comfort zone into places that I never thought about, but that are so incredibly better than I could have planned.

Figure out what makes me tick, what I feel passionate about and delve further into it.

As I bravely and vulnerably surrender my time to Lord, He begins to show me glimpses of the woman he created me to be. I bravely try new things, develop new habits as I discover new interests. As I celebrate my twenties, I desire to use my time this year to discover new passions and bravely explore the place these passions interact with my life. Whether it is volunteering at a free clinic, helping with an afterschool program, or raising money for a cause halfway across the world, I desire for this year to be a defining year of me interacting with the lesser known passions and desires in my heart.

Cry unashamedly.

Crying signifies vulnerability, and I hate being vulnerable, truly vulnerable. This year, as I bravely become more vulnerable with the people around me, I give myself the freedom to cry. Not emotionally crying all the time, but to cry when I need to cry without being ashamed of tears. Sometimes, being strong means not holding back the tears but letting them fall.

Worry less about what people think.

I have tendency to be reserved and cautious because I am afraid of what others think of me. I selfishly think that they care about every little thing I do. The reality is that as I live in freedom I shake off the perceptions of other and the expectations I place on myself. The only expectations that matter are God’s.

Do one random act of kindness each month.

Kindness puts a smile on others faces. It is as simple as that.

Complain less.

Complaining is being ungrateful for what God has given me, as well as it can drive people away. It can taint the personality. I do not want to be known for complaining about things that I cannot do anything about.

Step out of my comfort zone.

This is one of the biggest things that I want to focus on changing about my life. I find that some of the most rewarding moments of my life happen when I step over that line into areas where I am unsure. I have to rely totally on God, and guess what? He always comes through with a life-changing experiences as I learn more about myself and my abilities with God by my side. We walk hand in hand as he guides me through life.

Continue to dream big.

This new year is a big year, I have dreams about travelling, and the perfect job. The idea is that these dreams are held loosely, but I still need to dream. I still need to allow myself to dream of the impossible, because my God is big enough to do anything. I should not put him in a box as I try to tell him the path I should go on.

Embrace and enjoy the little things of life

The small moments matter. The smiles. The breezes. The quiet. These little moments like holding hands, reading a book for fun, the reassurance that I am heading on the right path. These moments are not flashy moments, but rather they creep up into your life. You can miss the significance of the moments, if you are not paying attention.

Accept myself.

I am pretty, smart, awkward, quirky, organized, vivacious, entertaining, outspoken, and introverted. I am fiercely loyal to my friends. I have an obsession with colored pens and planners. I love reading. I am learning to accept myself exactly as God created me quirks and all.

Read 25 books.

This is my goal for this year-to fill my head with knowledge of the world around me. Books allow me to escape to a different place and time. They fill my head with information about life and the pursuit of happiness.

Learn a new recipe a week

I started loving to cook when I lived by myself, out of necessity. Now, I desire to develop that skill.

5 Things My TBI Taught Me

As the anniversary of my accident approaches, my mind is swamped with emotions. Here are a few things I’m learning about myself and God.
1. Life is precious. Embrace every moment.

Almost dying makes you appreciate living so much more. You are thankful for every breathe because you know it only takes a moment for everything to be taken from you. You see everything with new eyes, and you’re thankful for even the mundane things that used to be frustrating.

2. God is ultimately good even if it doesn’t look like it.

God always shows up. He sits with you in the mess and holds you, if you allow Him. The little things that happen are more than just coincidence. It’s not a coincidence that on a particularly hard day, I received a watercolor from a dear friend. It’s not a coincidence that a friend texts me to get coffee after a hard week when I feel like a failure. These are not coincidences. They are God kisses or moments where God whispers “You are more loved than you can ever know. This may not be how you planned your life going, but I’m in control.”

3. Patience is truly a virtue. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Everything requires patience-my healing, driving and learning a new job. I want to be back to normal NOW. You don’t realize how much you need your brain to function until it’s broken. It literally influences everything you do. I want to do everything, but I can’t. I almost died. I can’t expect to be back to my energetic, sassy self immediately. It will take some time. It takes 2-3 years for a brain to heal. I’m not even 12 months into a 24-36 month period. I have more good days than bad ones, and hopefully soon, I’ll have only good ones. I just have to be patient and give myself grace.

4. I need to give myself permission to be weak.

It’s not beneficial for you to be strong all the time. I need to cry. I need to mourn my old life. I would be lying to myself if I said it wasn’t good, and I don’t want it back at times. Life is different and sometimes harder, but no less amazing. I have opportunities that I would have never had, and becoming close with people I didn’t even know existed. I’m learning the art of saying no. I am the kind of person that values independence, and wants to be seen as strong. There is beauty in allowing yourself to be vulnerable with people. There is strength in allowing yourself space to be weak and not carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

5. I’m stronger because I’ve survived.

I’ve learned several things about myself in the aftermath of the accident, but the main one is that I’m a survivor. I survived a car accident. Yes, I am going to be dealing with things for the rest of my life, but I survived. I know if something else comes against me, I can deal with it because I survived this thing. Everything else seems minor compared. I’m braver because I know that I can handle anything life throws at me with God at my side.

Solitude 

Solitude.

That word holds some stigma.

Loneliness. Seclusion. Desert. Backwoods.

When I returned from rehab, I had not been alone alone for several months. I craved solitude. I craved space for my soul to breathe. 

I used to despise solitude. I didn’t exactly know what to do when everything was quiet, and I could only hear my soul. Sometime during college, I learned the art of quieting my mind-being alone with God.

Now, people make me tired. I crave solitude. I need to be alone to let my brain rest. It takes a lot of brain energy to process what people are saying, to think about what to say next, and actually saying it. 

Sometimes, it’s frustrating because I want to be around people, but my brain is not having it. It gets overwhelmed quite easily. Solitude allows me to be alone with myself-process what I’m going through.

At times, it is just me and Jesus, and I’m okay with that. He calms my fears and quiets my soul.