Last week was bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s

This morning I am taking a breath and trying to comprehend what happened in my life this past week. In the last seven days I…

It just all happened so quickly! One day I was getting excited about a summer in the mountains with Greg, hanging out with college students and applying for more jobs, hoping to eventually land one in San Marcos for the fall.

The next day I was crying and debating as I tried to figure out if this awesome job I was just offered in San Marcos was worth missing my summer in the mountains. I felt in my gut that it was.

The next day I accepted that job and then proceeded to tell all the people and sort out all the details about me changing my summer plans.

The next day I cried and felt sad about losing Colorado, but also excited about my new job.

The next day I went to San Marcos for the weekend and started realizing, this is my new life. I just signed up for this for the foreseeable future. What??

The next day I continued to feel a little like that, but I also applied for an apartment.

The next day I helped 2.42 Church set up for their Sunday service and thought, this is my new church home. These are my future friends and “family.” I also reflected on the past two years in College Station and with my Fellowship Church family and cried (with joy, but also sadness) about that.

So basically I felt all the things.

I am excited to start a new job doing something I love.
I am proud of myself for having a job lined up before graduation.
I am grateful for all the support I’ve received from my friends, family, and mentors during grad school and this decision.
I am thankful to God for this opportunity.
I am sad about not being in Colorado this summer.
I am disappointed that it all didn’t work out perfectly for me to go to LT and have a job.
I am dismayed that Greg and I will be hundreds of miles away from each other this summer.
I am nervous about starting a new life in a new place.
I am worried about making new friends all over again.
I am afraid I will never get familiar with the layout of the roads in San Marcos.
I am pumped about a summer of working on personal projects like cooking, exercising, crafting, and nesting in my new apartment.
I am hopeful about joining a new community of believers in San Marcos.
I am happy that Greg and I will be able to be in the same place in the fall and onwards.
I am glum about leaving College Station and my “family” and friends here.

I have a lot of feels to sort through, it looks like. But in the end, I think the positive emotions outweigh the negative. Yes, I am grieving the loss of my summer plans and the loss of my life in College Station, but I know it is time to move forward to new adventures, and I know this summer will be best for me in the long run. But it’s still good to sit in those emotions and feel them out as I give them to the Lord. However, I do hope this coming week is a little less emotional, because I’ve got enough stuff in my emotional cup to work through for now!

Advertisements

Ms. Lindsay Cochrum, M.S.

Today I officially passed my master’s degree comprehensive exam and qualified to graduate in 39 days with a master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education. I’m trying to take it all in.

Honestly, passing my comps was sort of given. I don’t mean that in a flippant way; I just mean that our program prepares us well for our field, and solving and presenting a case study using all the skills and knowledge I learned in the past two years was more of a natural culmination than a grueling test. So it was a big deal, but it also wasn’t.

I guess it’s just strange for me to think that in a little more than a month, I’m done with College Station. I’m done with homework and reading and writing papers (for now.) It’s a little hard to grasp after being in school full-time for 19 years. (NINETEEN YEARS??)

It’s a little hard to grasp because two years here FLEW. I remember this time last year looking up to my second-year-friend Erica and thinking she was so grown up and accomplished and professional, and she is. But so am I! I am that second year that Erica was applying for jobs and going off into the real world. When did that happen?

So much as transpired over the past two years here. I’ve grown so much. I am constantly astounded by much growth occurs in such short spans on time. God works quickly! Two years ago preparing to graduate from Mizzou seems so long ago. I thought I was mature then, and I was, but I’ve grown even more since then.

I joined a new church and a new homegroup.
I made an entirely new set of friends.
I lived with roommates for the first time since I was a freshman.
I wrote 20-page papers like it was nothing.
I read and read and read for class.
I read for fun some, too.
I advised student groups.
I counseled students.
I went through heartbreak and conflict with friends that ended well by the grace of the Lord.
I got a cat.
I left the country.
I lived in Oregon.
I experienced the Lord in new and intimate ways.
My love for worship and my skills in that area blossomed.
I had my first date.
I had my first kiss.
I entered the stage of life where close friends start getting married.
I had bed bugs.
My first close relative passed away.
I shared the gospel with someone and then got to baptize them!
I somewhat conquered my fear of biking.
I was reunited with wildflower season in Texas.
I went to my first professional work conferences and met people in my field from across the country.
And so much more.

The next two years of my life are pretty hazy, but I am PRIMED for some BIG life transitions again. I’m not entirely sure where I will be and what I will be doing and with whom I’ll be doing things, but I know it’ll be good and that the Lord will continue to provide for me and grow me.

It all goes back to my blog title that I picked when I was just a wee-little 20-year old half-way through her junior year of college.

I am in progress. And I’m excited to see the progress that occurs in the next two years.

How’s it going?!

It’s been two months since I posted. Oy. This semester was supposed to be less busy than last semester! Alas, this prediction does not seem to be coming to fruition… thankfully, I think I would say that although this semester has been busy, my busy-ness hasn’t necessarily been difficult. Now, balancing everything has been challenging, but the tasks I need to accomplish are fairly straightforward.

Lately, when someone asks me how I have been doing, this has been my standard response: “Well, my life right now is pretty much school, work, homegroup, support raising, job searching, and Greg.” So I’ll fill you in on how it’s been going.

1. School
I am in my last semester of grad school, and BOY, do I have senioritis. I’m only taking three classes, but each day I have class I have to amp myself up to go. Not that the classes are bad, I’m just so ready to be done and graduate. Less than 90 days to go, people! Homework is definitely being pushed back until the last minute, but I’m trying not to be on total cruise control…

2. Work
Work is… work. Putting some structure to the peer mentor program we started last semester. Not too much going on here.

3. Homegroup
This semester I joined our small group’s leadership team, which means several extra meetings a week, but I don’t mind much at all. I love my fellow core team members Dustin & Megan, and I can’t complain about getting to meet with amazing women from our church for support and discipleship! Homegroup is interesting this semester; we’re on the cusp of losing about half our members to graduation, but I’ve been enjoying it and am excited to see the growth the Lord has in store for Shockwave.

4. Support Raising
Oy, this is probably one of the more time-consuming things on my plate. This summer I am interning as a staff member at Colorado Leadership Training, but in order to do so, I need to raise $8000 to cover administration costs, training, travel, my summer wages, and fees. Support raising is tricky because it’s never really done. I could work for 8 hours a day every day for a week on ministry team development (MTD), and I most likely still wouldn’t be done after that week. I have to be careful to use my time productively but not get sucked into MTD because I have other responsibilities that need taking care of on a day-to-day basis. So far the going is sort of slow. I’ve had four people give and about 30 tell me they want to… Hoping to see the balance in the account I’m responsible for go up soon! (If you’d like to hear more about the internship, check the “Colorado LT” tab above!)

5. Job Searching
Oh job searching… you are so tricky. I do not understand your timing. I need a job in mid-August. Are the jobs that are open now willing to wait for me until then? Who knows. I am trying to discern good ways to spend my time by applying to jobs I am really interested in but not applying for jobs out of sheer necessity yet. It’s been tricky to because I am trying to find a job in a limited area. Which, by the way, is the same area as a certain boy. I’m trying to move somewhere FOR A BOY. What is my life? This leads me to #6.

6. Greg
One of the more fun aspects of my life! Greg and I celebrated six months of dating last week, which is crazy to me. I can’t believe I’ve been hanging out with this guy for half of a year! Things are going quite well, if I do say so myself. We try to see one another ever other week, but this semester it’s been slightly more frequently… until we get to an upcoming break with what looks like five weeks in a row of mismatched weekend plans (psh, who needs women’s retreats, discipleship conferences, and mission trips? #longdistancechristiancoupleproblems), which will probably suck. But at least we have the summer in Colorado to look forward to! (Yes, Greg’s going to Colorado, too. No, that’s not why I decided to go. But you know I am definitely not upset about it either…)

I guess I have a #7, too.
7. Miscellaneous
Because I don’t want you to think I work/go to class all day, raise support all night, then only ever spent time with Greg. I have other friends! And roommates! And a cat! And regular TV shows I watch and musical instruments I play and books I read. Respectively:

  • Friends: Biweekly coffee dates with my amazing friend Jen (whose wedding for whom I will have my first bridesmaid-ship in May) and whatever phone calls/friend dates I can squeeze into Fridays/Saturday mornings/Sunday afternoons
  • Roommates: The lovely Megan, Catha, Kristina, & Christina (whose wedding I’ll be attending in less than a month!) who fill my house with goofiness and laughter
  • Cat: Still adorable and mischievous as she’s ever been. Though I might be slowly teaching her to have separation anxiety because I have been out-of-town approximately 12 of the last 35 days…
  • TV Shows: Bunheads, HIMYM, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Up All Night (which hasn’t been on?), The Office (don’t get me started on how much Andy sucks this season), Parks & Rec, and (RIP) 30 Rock.
  • Musical instruments: Played guitar and sang for Sunday worship for the first time ever a few weeks ago! Guitar and viola on my own as well.
  • Books: Read the first two C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy books and a young adult novel so far this semester. Plus a bunch of books over the winter break (Bossypants, Life of Pi, The Night Circus, The Tall Book)

So… that’s how it’s been going lately. I really do want to blog more regularly, but let’s be real: that hasn’t happened much since August. Dang you, 18th grade!

We have to go back!

I have an announcement! God- (and Drage-) willing, I will be going back to Colorado LT this coming summer as a GCM staff intern! (If you don’t know what LT is, read about it here. But really you should know about it because I think I’ve mentioned it at least every third blog post since I decided to go the first time in the spring of 2010.)

Now I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I did, too, at first.

But wait, aren’t you graduating from your master’s program in May? Shouldn’t you be looking for a real job?
Ha! That’s the first question I asked myself after I felt the Lord telling me I should consider this internship back in July.

Um, God, you’re telling me I should intern at LT? That sounds like a horrible idea. What will people say when I tell them I’m not looking for a job after graduation, I’m just galavanting off to the mountains and ignoring the “real world” for an extra 12 weeks? And I have, like, loans to repay and stuff.
Yeah, good thing it’s a paid internship!
I’m supposed to graduate and get a real job because that’s what grownups do!
Can’t you job search while you’re in Colorado?
Uh, I guess so… yeah. But employers are going to ask me about this gap between grad school job searching.
Um, what gap? You’ll be working.
But does working at LT really count towards my professional career?
Lindsay. Yes. Duh. You’ll be working with college students and coordinating a summer leadership training program.
Oh yeah… It is pretty much all the things I LOVE about my area of study… discipleship, student groups, leadership, teaching & workshops, event planning… That actually would look pretty good on my resume… hmm…
See. I told you it’s gonna be awesome.
But God, what happens when LT ends and I don’t have a job?
Lindsay, how many times have a carefully and perfectly taken care of all your needs? Oh, that’s right, ALL THE TIMES.
Ok, God. I guess I’ll think about it.
Lindsay, you can say that, but we both know what you’re going to decide…
… shut up, God. (Sometimes I don’t want to admit he’s right even when I know in my heart he is…)

So yeah. I’ve been praying about it and talking to people I trust and respect about what spending this summer in Colorado might mean for me. Obviously all the church staff I’ve talked to are pro-me-going. But I was nervous about what my grad school program coordinator would say if I took the path less traveled and put off my job search a little. Turns out she was supportive of me doing what I felt like was right for me. Something about listening to my inner voice or something (insert Baxter Magolda in-joke for SA-people here). Then I talked to my current supervisor, which I think was possibly the most encouraging conversation ever. This obviously isn’t word for word what he said, but it captures the essence of the conversation.

“Lindsay, if you feel called to go, then you need to go. We all have voices insides our selves that tell us stuff that really might not make sense for other people, but it makes sense for us. You need to listen to that voice. Will your job search look different? Yes. Will you potentially miss out on jobs that will be open in the summer? Yes. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find a job. You’re just going to find a different job. Your process is just going to be different from your peers’, and that’s okay as long as you know that and are okay with it. You’re 23 years old. When are you going to have the opportunity to do this stuff for yourself again? You have 30+ years to build up your professional career. You don’t need to start your professional first job the day after graduation.”

Biggest weight off my shoulders.

So yeah. I’m applying to intern, y’all. I’m really excited for what this internship will do for me personally and professionally. Personally, I think a season of semi-rest and refreshment after this crazy year of grad school will be the best thing ever. I need to get out to the mountains and dedicate 12 weeks of my life to serving the Lord and not writing student development theory papers or studying higher education case-law. I need to breathe mountain air and stare at God’s creation for a few months. Professionally, like I mentioned earlier, this internship will give me more experience in a non-conventional-but-still-applicable-student-affairs-y-type job. It will also give me a better understanding of the inner workings of college ministry and what it’s like to work with other GCM staffers. So yeah. Getting pumped for sure.

So does this mean you’re going on staff?!
Ha, no.

Oh, ‘cuz you don’t want to support raise, right?
Well, that is technically true. I don’t really want to support raise my salary, but that is not the reason I’m not going on staff. I’m not going on staff because I don’t feel called to go on staff. I feel called to get a job at a university and volunteer my resources and outside time to campus ministry through GCM. I feel like the Lord has equipped me to serve in this way, and I am super pumped about it.

Oh, so do you have to raise support for this internship?
Yes, so… be on the lookout for a letter asking you for support through prayer or finances in early 2013! I’ll admit I don’t really look forward to support raising again, especially since I will have to raise more than I had to for Italy last year, but I know the Lord will provide. If he’s calling me to Colorado, he will make a way for me to go.

So what happens now?
My application to intern is due December 1, and then if I’m accepted to intern, I’ll go to GCM ministry team development training in January. Then in May, I will graduate, pack out my room at the Den (woah, too soon… too soon…), and head to the mountains. I don’t know for sure what happens after that. I’ll be doing some preliminary job searching in the spring just in case my dream job shows up, but I imagine I’ll be doing the bulk of the work of looking for a real job out in Colorado. As of today, I plan on looking primarily at GCM campuses (Texas A&M, Texas State, UNT, Mizzou, and Pitt), though I will also be looking at the Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas areas. If I leave Colorado without a job, chances are I’ll move back in with the ‘rents until God tells me where to go next. Not gonna lie, that freaks me out. I haven’t been unemployed since high school, but I trust that the Lord knows what he’s doing!

So yeah! I’ll definitely try to update the blog as more happens, but, um, you may have noticed that I have sucked at blogging this semester, so… no guarantees for regular updates… Regardless, be praying for me, please! Excited to share what the Lord does with me and this opportunity over the next 10 months. 🙂

I’m no Merida

I have been told by many people this summer that I am incredibly brave. People are amazed that I would just pick up and move to Oregon without knowing anyone. They’re astounded I just picked up and moved to Missouri for college without knowing anyone. They think I’m this confident, independent woman who just makes friends at the drop of a hat and isn’t afraid of being alone. In some respects, part of that is true. I like to think I’m somewhat confident and independent (though I think that sentence just negated the “confident” part). I do make friends fairly easily, and I enjoy my alone time.

But y’all, if I’m being real, what you don’t know is that I’m homesick right now. I’m sitting here missing Columbia. I haven’t truly been homesick for Columbia in ages! I’m missing Colorado, and LT was two years ago. I’m missing College Station and Texas A&M. I’m missing my beautiful roommates and their daily friendship. I’m missing my homegroup and our crazy antics and shenanigans. I’m missing the dudes at the Dudeplex. I’m missing the people I play worship with on some Sunday mornings. I’m missing people able to play music with others in general. I’m missing people who would get excited and care that Mizzou and A&M are now both members of the SEC. There, I just word vomited all my homesickness out.


And I hate admitting this.
I want to be brave. I want people to think I’m independent and confident. But that’s just my stupid pride. And that actually isn’t so good. So here I am telling you. When it comes down to it, I’m just not that brave.

(I am, however, a fiery redhead with a Scottish background, so in that sense, yes, I am like Merida. The blog post title is mostly a play on the movie’s title.)

Going to Mizzou wasn’t that big of a deal because it was college. Everyone picks up and starts a new life in college. You’re encouraged to break away from your high school friends and meet new people. Even though I knew no one going to Mizzou, I also knew lots of people would know no one at Mizzou. And we could know no one together. Plus there were all sorts of instruments in place to help me meet people at Mizzou: my Summer Welcome group, my residence hall, my FIG. That doesn’t count.

As for Oregon, yes, I moved here not knowing anyone, but I also knew it would only be for nine weeks. You can do anything for nine weeks. I also did a lot of research to ensure I wouldn’t be totally alone here. I friended the two ACUHO-I interns on Facebook before I even got to Oregon after I asked my boss if there would be other interns here. I researched churches before I left so I could start meeting people right away. People saw that as be just being a planner, but it was also me not wanting to be alone.

And even though I’ve met some great people here and really never run out of things to do, I miss my friends. I miss my home(s). I miss CoMO. I miss Colorado. I miss CStat. (I even miss Arlington a little, but actually not all that much. Sorry Mom & Dad and Blair and grandparents! I’m not used to seeing you that much… that’s the only reason why! I promise it’ll make sense by the end of this post.)

Ever since I moved to Mizzou, I have never truly been without friends. I had my Mizzou friends at Mizzou. I stayed in Columbia with friends for two summers. I went to Colorado for a summer, but I went with Mizzou friends, and in fact, it was nearly all my close Mizzou friends that went! I moved to College Station, but I also already had friends there. I went to Italy for two weeks, but that was only for two weeks, and I at least was starting to become friends with most of my teammates.

This summer, this Oregon summer, is the first time I have truly moved somewhere without knowing anyone or having a group of other newbies to cling to. This is the longest I’ve been apart from my CStat friends. (This is not even close to how long I’ve gone without seeing my family, hence not missing them as much. This is somewhat normal for how we function these days.)

This is quite possibly what post-grad-school life is like. And that terrifies me. People say I’m brave and can just move somewhere without knowing anyone, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t want to do that when I graduate.

Searching for a job is like a big scary black unknown for me right now. Thank God it isn’t happening for 10 months. If I had my way, next fall I’d working in College Station, Austin, Memphis, San Marcos, the DFW, Mizzou or Pitt. Where I know people. Or where there are GCM churches. Where I would not be alone. I see these SAAHE second years recent grads who are off starting their lives in totally new places. They are the braves ones.

I dread starting over. I don’t want to have to share my life story with a new set of strangers. I don’t want to have to re-explain who people are when I tell stories from my past. And I realize this will happen even if I stay in CStat or move to another GCM campus church or back to Mizzou or whatever. I’m going to meet new people, and I actually enjoy making new friends. But only if I have some constants. Even moving to CStat was hard in that aspect because even though I had a few close friends there, I still had a support system to rebuild. I remember thinking to myself, “Crap. I have to find my new Amanda Craven (one of my closer female friends, peer discipler, and confidant).”

Anyway, now I’m just letting my fears out all over the page, which is silly because I know God is going to take care of me wherever I go. I will be okay if I stay in College Station. I will be okay if I end up moving to Montana or somewhere equally as random and far away. In fact, I will be better than okay. I will be great because the Lord’s plan for my life is more than my tiny, homesick mind can fathom. And if this post makes me sound miserable, don’t worry, I’m really not. I’m just excited that in five weeks I’ll be back in Texas. I’m going to enjoy my last five weeks here, but I’m also glad it’s only five weeks.

I just wanted to dispel this myth everyone keeps believing. I’m not that brave! I am only able to do this, to have this experience, because I trusted God with my summer. I know I’m supposed to be here, and it’s been really, really good for me. It’s been restful. It’s been professionally helpful. And it’s been revealing, socially and professionally, about what I want in the future. Just think. If I hadn’t come here this summer, this whole new experience might have been at my first job, which hopefully will last more than nine weeks. At least now I won’t be surprised by my homesickness in the future. I’m coming to terms with it. I don’t have to hide it out of my pride. I’m learning to accept my inherent need for true community, unconditional support, and deep friendship. And that’s worth nine weeks of missing.

Willamette Wednesday: Hitting my stride

Welcome back for another weekly edition of Willamette Wednesday! Here’s what’s been going on up in Oregon.

Work
Work has picked up pace considerably, and I finally feel like I have at least a few things to show for from my summer here. I’ve started writing assessments for orientation, which has been more challenging than I had anticipated. Sure, I took an entire class on assessment and even did an entire assessment project from start to finish, but y’all, writing questions to prove learning outcomes were met for orientation is hard. That being said, I don’t think I want to be the next Sandi Osters*. Don’t get me wrong; doing all this assessment this summer is a really great chance to practice and get more experience in something that will undoubtably be a part of whatever job I go into. I just don’t want it to be my entire job.

*Sandi Osters was our assessment professor and is the director of Student Life Studies, the student affairs assessment office, at Texas A&M.

Free Time
More of the same! This past weekend I finally stayed in Salem for the weekend, saw Brave, and ate the most delicious berries from the Salem Farmer’s Market. (Side note: Oregon has delicious, fresh berries all the time everywhere, and I’m kind of addicted to them.) I should have spent a good chunk of my Saturday designing the program for my cousin’s wedding next week… but I just watched Felicity instead. Oops. Sounds like I know what I’m doing tonight! I finally got a bike, but I haven’t been able to ride it yet due to a few busy nights and rain

It’s cold.
Speaking of rain… and I know I sound like a huge spoiled jerk here to my friends watching wildfires in Colorado and my melting friends in Texas… BUT IT IS TOO COLD HERE. I can’t move to Oregon long-term. If this is summer, I don’t want to see the other seasons. I don’t really remember what the other side of 65 looks like. It’s been days since I’ve seen the sun in its full glory. I want to wear shorts and Chacos. I miss my hammock. Ok, complaining over. I’m going back to Texas for a few days next week, so I’m sure I’ll get blasted with sweltering heat and humidity then and appreciate the dampness and grey skies when I get back to Oregon… maybe…

Church
I have committed to going to Outward Church for the summer! It was the second church I tried, and though I was skeptical of Acts 29‘s ties to Mark Driscoll (the jury of my mind is still out on him), I’m liking Outward a lot. The atmosphere reminds me a lot of The Rock and Fellowship, and it has a similar demographic of people, though there are a lot more young married people than I’m used to. That’s cool, though, because I get to be in a community group of mostly 20-somethings from all parts of life: in school, working, single, married… it’s nice to hear from so many perspectives in discussion! It’s also pretty cool to see this community group in action because it is allowing me to live out a book my homegroup in College Station is reading this summer. This summer, the leadership team for our group plus a few other people (like me!) are reading Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Brad House with hopes to apply some of its theory to Shockwave this fall. Because Brad House is a member of Mars Hill (Mark Driscoll’s church, which is a part of the Acts 29 network), my community group at Outward seems to be modeled off a lot of this book’s principles. It’s nice to have our group in Texas read about it, and then I can report on how it looks in practice! It’s also neat because our friend Dale is currently interning in Seattle and is attending Mars Hill this summer, so he gives us another perspective on the book’s advice!

This summer is going by so fast
I can’t believe July starts next week. This summer is flying by. I made a calendar at work to map out the projects I’m working on, and I can see all the weeks I have left on one page. Less than six weeks left! Six weeks is still sort of a long time, but I need to make sure I’m making the most of the glorious free time I have left!

Well, that’s all for now. Until next week, much love from the Pacific Northwest!

#Community

My room during the de-bugging process.

This, my friends, is the story of how my four months of “hives” actually turned out to be bed bugs. Read on! I know you are all curious to hear the tale!

So within my group of friends, we have a little Twitter-related joke where we “hashtag” things. You know… like on Twitter you might seen “#YOLO” (YOLO = You only live once) or “#firstworldprobs.” Well with my friends, we’ll often just say it out loud, like “Hashtag: Things I wish I knew earlier,” or, one of our favorites, “Hashtag: community.” You see, “community” is one of the Christian buzzwords about how your church family should be like a real family and take care of one another and live near each other… and honestly our church does a good job of fostering community in our small groups called homegroups. So when we cook for one another, or borrow each other’s vacuum cleaner, or just go into someone else’s house because the door is always unlocked, we often jokingly say “hashtag: community.” Well Ags, here’s a little story that shows just how awesome my hashtag: community is. But first we have to sum up the last 5 months of my life.

Back in January, I came back to College Station after being home for winter break for about three weeks. After one night in my CStat bed, I woke up and noticed I had mosquito-like bites on my arms and legs. It was strange because it was January, which is not a month known for its mosquito infestations. I ignored it for a few days, but when more showed up and started itching, I started thinking it might be more than mosquitoes. My next thought was, “OH MY GOSH I HAVE BED BUGS.” So of course I Googled it. The bites actually didn’t look like bed bug bites, and after inspecting my mattress and not seeing anything, I figured it most be something else.

I spent the next 2 months scouring the Internet trying to figure out what invisible creatures were causing me intense discomfort and constant itchiness. I went to a few doctors. I thought it might be spiders. Bird mites. Rat mites. Bed bugs again. Mites again. Nothing really seemed to match. Bed bugs bite in groups of three usually, and you should be able to see bloodstains on your sheets. People slept in my bed and didn’t have any problems. After exterminating for spiders and mites, the bites got worse, but every time I checked my sheets and mattress for bed bugs, nothing showed up. But things got better when I spent the weekend out of town or went home to Arlington. I started to feel like a crazy person. Why was I itchy all the time?!

Finally in mid-March I broke out in a sheet of hives on my right shoulder. HIVES. That could explain it. I used to break out in unexplained hives when I was little, and maybe I was allergic to something in College Station. These little spots could just be hives. I went to an allergist who agreed that the spots didn’t really match bed bug descriptions, but he also couldn’t really find a reason that I would be breaking out in hives. We tried several over-the-counter anti-histamines, and while they sort of stopped the itching, they weren’t really working that well. He told me he was really sorry, but they the hives were probably because of stress, which I admitted to having plenty of. He told me I could manage the itchiness with creams and some steroid pills, and that he hoped they’d go away over the summer when my stress was reduced.

At this point, in April, I had basically learned to live with the itchiness and to not leave the house without anti-itch cream. It was my new way of life. I hoped that being away from College Station would solve the problem and that it wouldn’t return in the fall… well, I was somewhat right.

While I was in Italy, I got an email from my roommate telling me she and my summer subleaser had found bedbugs in my box spring, which I had never checked. I felt awful. I had inflicted this plague on my whole house, even though it wasn’t really my fault. And there was nothing I could really do because I was thousands of miles away in Italy. I felt horrible.

Together, my four roommates began the process of ridding out house of bed bugs, which let me tell you, is a complete and total nightmare. Everything fabric must be washed and dried at high temperatures to kill any bugs or eggs. Anything that can’t be laundered has to sit out in the sun and heat all day. Essentially six girls pillows, blankets, sheets, clothes, shoes, towels… anything we own that was cloth, had to be bagged up and washed or taken outside. Then the whole house had to be cleaned and sprayed. Our instruments (guitars, violin and viola) had to be de-stringed and treated. Our house was in complete chaos. And this all happened while I was in Italy.

But here’s where the hashtag: community comes in. My roommates weren’t alone. We had the support of so many friends and two churches helping them accomplish everything. A total stranger from my roommate’s church washed all my clothes and bagged then. My homegroup came over and helped bag things. When I got home from Italy and burst into tears because I was exhausted from travel and everything at home looked like a refugee camp, a couple from our church let me sleep at their house. Another couple let me shower at their house. The next two nights I stayed with some guys from my small group in a spare room they had open. In short, we could not have survived this hell without the body of Christ.

And that’s why I wan to tell this story! Even though us having bed bugs is awkward and kind of embarrassing (even though it is not a comment on our cleanliness! We are clean people!) and there’s that stigma attached that we should be ashamed, I want everyone to know this story because it is truly a testament to God’s provision.

1. Thank God I wasn’t there when we found this. This semester nearly killed me, and having me at home would have sent me over the edge. My roommates just kept saying they were so glad I was in Italy and didn’t have to deal with the stress of the clean up. And they had wanted to find a way to serve me, and cleaning out my whole room was how they accomplished that. I felt totally blessed to come home and have all that work done on my behalf.

2. Thank God we found them after school was out. This was three of my roommates’ final semesters, and it was by far the hardest semester I have ever taken. Finding this during the school year, especially during the nightmare that was April, also would have sent all of us over the edge. Weirdly enough, God’s timing in us finding this was perfect. Everyone had more time on their hands and less on their plates to deal with than they would have during the school year. Even if it meant I learned to live with itchiness.

3. We got to see Christ’s body at work serving as it is designed to. Everyone pitched in during our time of need. Everyone served selflessly. Strangers served people they didn’t even know. Even after all the bags were taken care of, my friends helped me look through bags to find everything I needed to get for Oregon. People prayed for me to find things quickly, and I did! There was more than one occasion when I found exactly what I needed in the first bag I opened. This was the perfect example of community.

4. I truly believe God takes these awful experiences and uses it for his glory and to remind us to rely on him always. Some thoughts from II Corinthians: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God… Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by our prayers.” (II Corinthians 1: 3-4, 9-11a)

So that’s what I got from this experience. Sometimes life throws you awful, awful, insidious, evil curve balls, but God uses it for his glory. And then you have an awesome story to tell. As I read in Mark on my plane ride to Oregon the other day, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So here I am, telling you.

PS: Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite! (Isn’t that childhood rhyme just horrifying now?! It is for me at least…) 

Pretty flowers, pretty girls

So remember a few weeks back when I posted about how great Texas springs are? About how beautiful the wild flowers are? And how I didn’t have any actual real-life photos to show you? Well, now I do! I had two photo shoots in the wildflowers this spring: one with my homegroup (aka my CStat family) and one with my roommates (aka my CStat sisters)!

Take a look! All of the photos were snapped by our dear friend, Blanche. You should definitely check out her stuff. The homegroup photos were taken on my friend Barclay‘s camera, and he edited those. Blanche edited the roommate photos. Needless to say, I have some talented photographer friends!

Shockwave: my homegroup family
(Photo by Blanche Jacobson; editing by Barclay Bell IV)

We're a little weird. Notice my "silly pose" is one of dispair because I *hate* silly photos.
(Photo by Blanche Jacobson; editing by Barclay Bell IV)

Homegroup ladies!
(Photo by Blanche Jacobson; editing by Barclay Bell IV)

Being goofy
(Photo by Blanche Jacobson; editing by Barclay Bell IV)

The ladies of the Den
(Photo and editing by Blanche Jacobson)

Love the focus on this one!
(Photo and editing by Blanche Jacobson)

This is seriously my fave. Holy cow I love these girls.
(Photo and editing by Blanche Jacobson)

Miss Kelsey
(Photo and editing by Blanche Jacobson)

Miss Jennifer
(Photo and editing by Blanche Jacobson)

Tehe... an awesome play on my roommate and her fiance's last names.
They got engaged this past weekend!
(Photo and editing by Blanche Jacobson; cropping and text added by me!)

Also can we talk about how freaking gorgeous my friends are?

That’s so Austin

Last week I fell in love.
In love with Austin, Texas.

I know as an Aggie, I’m not supposed to do that, but, well, I did.

I went to Austin last weekend with my homegroup, and even though I’ve been to Texas’ capitol on multiple occasions, something about this trip changed my heart for a city I’ve felt neutral toward my entire life.

I love the feel of the city. The people there. The fact that it’s a city but surrounded by Texas Hill Country. The fact that you can canoe past the skyline. The fact that there are locally supported businesses. The fact that everyone bikes (even though biking still scares me to death.) It just all hit me in a perfect storm of “LOVE ME AND MOVE HERE, LINDSAY.” It’s like a more urban Columbia, Missouri. Love.

The view of the Austin skyline from my roommate Kelsey's house

The tower on the UT campus

The view of the Capitol from the UT campus

The rotunda of the Texas State Capitol

You see, the things is I’ve been thinking about moving to Austin for a while. Two years ago, before I was even back in Texas, my friends Mark & Macie mentioned a potential church plant to the t.u. UT campus, and it struck a chord with me. My graduate degree would qualify me to work at a college, and having someone “on the inside” could be a real asset. Plus I see my job as my mission field, and the church plant could combine those two so beautifully.

The problem is that this said church plant it set for 2-3 years after I get my master’s degree. So I’ve been mulling over this idea. This idea of sticking around College Station after graduation and staying at Fellowship and preparing to start a church on the University of Texas campus. And the mulling has grown into the dreaming and planning. And the dreaming and planning has grown into thinking critically and weighing pros and cons and actually starting to get really scared.

You see, I graduate in just over a year. In a year I start the job search. And I need to know where to look. Do I start a nation-wide search and ditch Austin all together, believing God has other plans for me? Or do I severely limit my job search to College Station and Blinn and trust that the Lord with provide a job?

Beyond just the job stuff, and as much as I have grown to love the idea of the Austin church plant, parts of it terrify me. The risk we’d be taking, I’d be taking. The areas of my heart that would need to be redeemed and changed. It’s a lot to trust God with. And I want to trust Him. But it’s scary.

And I can see myself there. I’ll probably have to get over my fear of bikes and get a tattoo and buy more hipster clothes and a canoe to fit in, but I can see it.

But even though I fell in love this weekend and can see myself there, it’s still terrifying, and that’s something I’m going to have to work out with the Lord over the next year. I’m excited to see what He says.

Milan Monday: Less than two months to go

You can read all of my Milan Monday posts here.

As of last week, we have passed the two-month mark until we leave for Milan! I cannot believe the semester is going by so quickly. I still have seven weeks of classwork until my final assignments are due, but I know they will fly by in a flash.

Support raising is going super well. The Lord has been so faithful to provide financially. I am just under $100 from reaching my goal! I have been so blessed to have such a generous family and group of friends who are willing to support me.

It’s also been a huge blessing to have people willing to join my prayer team (ask if you would like to be added)! I am so excited to know all of these people will be interceding for our team as we prepare for Italy and after we arrive.

I don’t have too much to say this week. My brain is still in catch-up mode from spring break (post on that hopefully later this week!). We had a team meeting two weeks ago to discuss Italian culture, and here are some numbers we were given:

Note: I do not know where these numbers came from precisely, but we were told they’re pretty accurate from people’s past experiences in this particular mission field.

20% of Italians say…

  • I believe in God.
  •  I try to go to Catholic church regularly.
  • I think the Bible is a good book, but you cannot and should not take it literally.
  • Jesus was a good moral teacher, but I’m not sure about the miraculous stuff he did.
  • The way God accepts people into heaven is based on their good works.
  • I try to live a good moral life, so God will surely accept me into heaven when I die.
  • I sometimes read the Bible, but I really do not understand it.

80% of Italians say…

  • I doubt there is a God.
  • You could probably best classify me as an atheist.
  • I am pretty upset at the Catholic church and really want nothing to do with it.
  • My family life was pretty bad.
  • Truth is pretty much whatever you want it to be.
  • The Bible is totally irrelevant to me. It’s a book of myths and tales.

100%  of Italians say…

  • Sex is perfectly fine reghardless of your marital status.
  • Studying is very important to me, so it is sometimes difficult for me to get involved in other things (like small groups of English clubs  — my interpretation).
  • I am pretty suspicious of religious people who try to push their beliefs on me or others.
  • What’s important to me is my friends, but I really lack a close relationship with them.
  • When I have a boyfriend or girlfriend, most of my other activities are neglected.

Lots of things to think and pray about as we prepare for out trip! Lots of lies about God’s grace and a lot of unfulfilled places in people’s hearts.

Prayer Requests & Updates (for the Italy team and my support team):

  • Pray for the Lord to continue to provide with support raising for all our teammates as the deadline approaches in less than a month. Especially for team members Karla and Victor, who are raising money from their homes in East Asia and Mexico.
  • Pray for team unity as we prepare to “do life together” 24/7 for two weeks.
  • Pray our team can understand Italian culture and learn to adapt to their ways of life (flexible schedules, importance of listening skills, etc.)
  • Pray for the church in Italy, that they may be strengthened and filled to pour out to the students in Milan

Support Progress:

  • $2470 out of $2550 (96.9%)
  • 51+ people have joined my prayer and finance support team (and that’s not even counting the people who don’t have Facebook!)

Until next week, ciao!

How you can get involved:
  • Finances: Contact me if you are interested in giving financially! Every bit helps. If I were to send out letters to all the people I brainstormed to ask, it would only take $10-$15 per person to raise what I need to go.
  • Prayer: I will have weekly prayer updates here on the blog and will be posting updates to a Facebook group. Please join me in prepping our team and the people we will meet in Milan through intercessory prayer.
  • Subscribe: To receive weekly updates on prayer requests and other info, you can subscribe to my blog! This will send you email updates every time I post. I’m not sure if that link works, so try it out and let me know if it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you can hit the subscribe button on the right sidebar.