Sunday, August 30, 2015

On perfectionsim

It's been quite sometime since I have written down any thoughts in this space, but lately I have been focusing on my own false security in perfectionism. As I talk with friends about my struggles, I realize that so many of us struggle with this same shame filled way of thinking. Furthermore, I have been reading Brené Brown's "Rising Strong" in which she divulges about her own tendencies towards perfectionism and how it translates into other seemingly unrelated areas of her life.

I am a perfectionist. Because I am a perfectionist I fear rejection, because rejection means I was not perfect. Because I am a perfectionist I fear not being enough. I fear failure. I fear being out of control and perceiving that I have no control over a situation. Generally, I avoid any and all situations that may or may not trigger any of these feelings.

I'm also very good at making everything seem perfectly fine on the surface. I struggle with admitting to needing help, because needing help means I can't depend solely on myself - being in control - and means I am not perfect. I wear it like a big rubber mask.

When I started putting these trains of thought together for myself - my fear of failure, rejections, being out of control - thoughts of shame and where they originated began making more sense. A lot of this journey towards "healing" is attributed to Brown's research. In her newly released "Rising Strong" (which I recommend you to read right away, then "Daring Greatly" then "The Gifts of Imperfection" READ THEM ALL) she explains that in order to rise above what has knocked you down it is important to find the false story that you are telling. In recent experiences I have been able to trace them back to basic roots which in turn points right to my propensity to perfectionism.

I always want things to work out. I avoid conflict. I say "yes" because "no" may hurt feelings, or let someone down. I haven't yet taken my second certification test for fear of failure. I procrastinate and distract to avoid facing potential failures or admitting that things aren't perfect.

We live in a culture obsessed with perfection. That's why models are on magazine covers and America picks the perfect idols and the ones who've got talent. That's why we love indulging in every detail of the Duggar scandal or reading about the Kardashian's latest mess up. We crave to know that someone is more messed up than we are. We love to judge our story against theirs because we take comfort in knowing that someone else is just as imperfect as we are. It's why PhotoShop and Editing and the delete function are so amazing. We don't like that picture? We don't post it, we untag from it. We Instagram the perfect, we sardonically Instagram the imperfect to elicit a chorus of sisters going "me too."

We crave vulnerability from one another. For someone else to walk up beside us, take of their mask, help us take off ours and say "me too." The two most powerful words. Empathy.

I'm not ever positive about what to do with my perfectionism because I'm certain I don't have the right answers. But I think a good step for me is tracking my stories of imperfection. Being cognizant of the times where my reaction is to run. To realize that perfectionism has only been attained by one living Being and even that Being wrestled with fear (Luke 22:42).

I think I just still need a lot more Jesus.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Where did October go?

Here is a quick update on how things are progressing since October has come and passed.

On November 1st I purchased my plane tickets from Erie to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale to Haiti.

I will fly out of Erie on January 7th in the evening, then I will fly into Cap Haitian the following morning. On January 20th I will fly out of Cap Haitian, and on January 21st I will fly into Erie by 3:30 PM. If all goes well I will be going to youth that evening weeeeeee.

Since I will have a day in between flying back to the states and flying back home I am currently debating whether or not to book a hotel room for that evening. I am currently leaning in that direction, but that can still be up in the air due to cost. Staying in a hotel would be ideal however, since I will be arriving in the states around noon on the 20th and leaving Ft. Lauderdale around 10 AM on the 21st. I have planned my flights this way to hopefully plan ahead in case there are any delays in flights from Haiti.

I have been able to make appointments with my primary doctor for a flu shot, and my travel doctor for an updated Typhoid vaccination, prescriptions for anti-malarial and antibiotics. This has been a blessing, however I know that the travel doctor appointment is going to be expensive. If I remember correctly, this appointment will cost around $100.

Financially, I am still behind. I have raised $850, but still have a remaining balance of $750. I have been making and selling items as fast as I possibly can, which has been a blessing, but there is just over two months until I leave for Haiti and must be fully funded.

If you wish to donate you can follow this link to my donation page:

I am so thankful and blessed by your prayers and support. It is definitely appreciated as this term has been a lot more strenuous than I had originally anticipated.

"And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Vini - Come

Come on a journey with me, it involves raising money. But even more so, it involves faces. It involves names. It involves people who God loves.

Come on a journey with me, I'll post pictures and stories of my adventures. There will be smiling faces of my old students. They will be missing teeth, sassier, and two years older. There will be sad pictures of sick babies if there needs to be, but hopefully more happy pictures of mommas who hear good news, or get the right medicine, or have healthy babies, or a healthy baby growing inside of them. There will be pictures of old friends that some of you know in person, and some of you know through stories and pictures.

Come on a journey with me, I'll give you names of families and children that need prayer. I'll put my hand on them and pray for them right then and there, and send you the details and pictures.

Here is how to help...

I need to raise roughly $1500.

$1000 for flights there and back.
$200 for living there
$300 for emergency money

Because I am not going with a church group, just myself, you will notice that the cost breakdown is a lot less specified. That is because the flights take up most of the cost, and there will be unexpected things. The emergency money will first and foremost be used to fill needs.

When I am assisting at Bethesda, the medical clinic, if I meet a someone who needs to go to the hospital, I will be able to give them money to go there. If there is some sort of extra expense on the compound, money will go to help with that repair. If there is a need at the school, I will be able to help fill it. Any extra money that I do not use during my 13 days in Haiti will be given to Kate Zlotnicki, the missionary I will be staying with, to use as she sees fit.

If you want to help through fulfilling my monetary needs, you can do so by sending me money through check or through PayPal (sent as a gift). Because of the nature of this trip, I am unable to send a tax deductible form, since I am not a nonprofit organization. I hope that you still would prayerfully consider supporting me regardless.

You can also help support me and my trip by purchasing items through my Etsy shop. For each item purchased, $5 goes directly towards supporting me financially for my trip.

If you do not have the financial stability to be able to support me financially, I understand, and I am glad that you recognize that you need to be wise with your finances. I need you to pray.

Prayer requests:

  • For the money for the plane tickets ($1000). It is crucial that I obtain this sum of money by the middle of November. That is so I can order my plane tickets for the desired dates and still have seats.
  • For the missionaries in the field. Pray that I will be able to be of assistance and not hinderance to them
  • For appointments. I will need to be seen again by my travel Doctor to receive my Typhoid vaccination. I will also need to obtain antimalarials and antibiotics to keep me healthy while in Haiti.
  • For school. This semester thing is stressful. Pray that I don't lose sight of what I am working for. I am working for God and His glory. I am thankful that He has blessed me with the opportunity to return to Cap Haitian to serve alongside such faithful hearts once again.

I am planning to leave Erie January 7th and arrive in Haiti January 8th. I will leave Haiti January 20th, and return to Erie January 21st. For overnights I plan to do the un-fun thing of staying in the airport. I have done it once, I will survive doing it twice.

Thank you all for your continued support. It means so much to me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Do you realize that you are worth dying for?"

I want to make something clear: being a single girl who is surrendering her life to God is difficult.

It is difficult because everywhere she goes she are reminded of something, her singleness.

Every magazine geared towards her demographic contains articles about how to get the guy, how to tell if he is into you, or how to look to attract a guy. Her friends are in relationships, the movies are grand love stories about girls her age, and to top it all off her family is always asking if she is seeing someone.

Obviously, there is something wrong with her.

Older friends say she will meet someone at church, or that they are always looking for guys to introduce her to. As she listens to these outside influences, she lets her guard down. She begins talking to a guy that she meets at a church function. Since he was there he is obviously a believer, so check the top box on her list.

2 Corinthians 6:14 says "Do not be yoked with unbelievers." Based on what his Religious Beliefs on his Facebook say, he's a good choice.

On the surface, this whole scenario is perfectly normal and quite acceptable.

Recently, this has been something God keeps bringing up to me. How does a modern Christian girl approach dating? It obviously can't be the way the rest of the world approaches differently because we are called to be holy like God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

I was listening to a Pastor Steven Furtick sermon where he addressed this issue. To answer the question about God's will and singleness, he said many things that were good, but two specifically that I will address. The first being that singleness is not a condition, or an ailment, or an issue that needs solved. It is a season, one that doesn't have a definite ending, but one that should be looked at in the present tense. By this he means that if you are looking for the fastest way out of the season of singleness, you will miss whatever lesson God is trying to teach you, this can apply to any life "season." The second thing he said is that you can only focus on fixing yourself during this time. More or less become the type of person you want to date.

During this sermon, he also addressed the idea of dating someone who is not actively walking in their faith with God in the most articulate way I have ever heard. He started by addressing that instead of categorizing people into "Christian" or "Non Christian" it is more beneficial to recognize that everyone is on a different area of their path of a relationship with God. He then coupled this with Amos 3:3 which says "Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?" (NLT) He used the visual of two people holding hands and attempting to walk in opposite directions.

Now this combined with my life experiences, and conversations with friends, and books I have read made it hit me: "unequally yoked" doesn't mean a "Christian" and "Non Christian" it means two people trying to follow different things.

It could mean a Christian and a Non Christian, it could mean two Christians. But the defining factor is what direction they are walking in.

Let's go back to the beginning, the girl meets a guy at a church function. They are both on the path towards God, she is walking, but he is standing still. Are they still unequally yoked?

I would argue yes.

I would argue that the only way to determine if you are walking in the same direction is by fruits (Galatians 5:22).

Rob Bell in his book "Sex God" poses these questions:

Does he demonstrate that he is the kind of man who would die for you? What is his posture toward the world? Does he serve, or is he waiting to be served? Does he believe that he's owed something, that he's been shortchanged, that he's gotten the short end of the stick, that life owes him something? Or is he out to see what he can give? Does he see himself as being here to make the world a better place?

In the illustration of marriage in Ephesians 5, women are called to submit, or hupotasso, to their husbands. Meaning "to tend to the needs of the other." Men are called to love their wife as Christ loves the Church.

Christ died for the church.

Does he treat you like you are worth dying for? Do you realize that you are worth dying for?

This realization changes everything for me. It grants me patience. Why should I settle for the first checked box when there is a man who is prepared to die for me?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Annual Affair

I supposed I have started something that is going to be annual.

It first happened in 2012. Then again in 2013.

So, without further adieu, I am pleased to announce my 2014 trip to Haiti!

I have already asked the field leaders and school principal and been approved.

And I already asked my missionary host, Kate, who was THRILLED!

So, I will be going back for the month of January (that's right suckers) to teach at the school. Kate will be teaching 2nd and 3rd grade, so the class will consist of most of the students I had the first time I went in 2012.

I'm not sure what my role at the school will be this time, since I won't be going as a student from Mercyhurst, but as my own person. So my role could be anything from librarian, substitute teacher, tutor, paper grader, referee, high school boy hug deflector, supply fetcher... ANYTHING. I am totally up for it.

After talking with Kate, I will potentially fly out January 2nd or 3rd with her. Then flying back at the end of the month before the Spring Semester starts.

Financially, I will be again looking for some assistance. I have yet to determine how much this trip will cost, but I am estimating it to be in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. I will be selling scarves again to raise money, so if you have any requests please let me know.

Keep this trip in your prayers, even though it is so far in advance, because we all know how quickly God's plans can change. Also keep the financial aspect in your prayers because I have enough money saved for my last year of school and that's it.

I appreciate all of you for your continued support over these past years that has made yet another trip possible!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Portions and Prizes

This past Sunday we sang "How He Loves"

This song talks about the radical, incredible, inexplicable ways that God loves us.

As we were singing we got to this line "we are His portion, and He is our prize" and I started to chew on this line. And I am still working on it.

But it struck me as interesting because when I think of myself, I don't think of anything special. Paul says in Romans that there "is nothing good in me." So I am what God gets. Broken, incomplete, sinful, self absorbed, impatient, too sarcastic for my own good, insecure, and untrusting.

I almost think of myself as being a wormy apple. There is nothing good inside of me, just holes and pits and tunnels where good things should go.

But here I am. I get the Creator of the universe as my prize. He is all knowing, all powerful, capable of destroying the world, or raising people from the dead. Words can't describe how good, great, wonderful, and loving He is. God is my prize.

Seems a little bit off balance.

But then I realize that God doesn't look at me the way that I see me. He doesn't see me for my shortcomings and faults, He sees me as whole and complete. He sees the potential that I hold for doing His bidding.

Like when he used a doubter like Sarah in her old age to give birth to a nation, the Sarah who laughed when she was spoken to by the angels. Or Noah, who was seen as the only Godly man of his time, got drunk and passed out after getting out of the Ark. Or King David, who slept with another man's wife, then sent him to the front lines to die, but was said to be a man after God's own heart. Or Peter, who denied Jesus right after saying he never would, became the rock that the Church was built on. Or Paul, who as a Jew killed many Christians, became the author of most of the letters of the New Testament.

God uses screw ups. God sees us differently. God sees me differently.

He sees what I will become and says "it is very good" and He is satisfied with me. I am His portion.

I should start seeing me the way God sees me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bad Giving?

There is something that has been heavy on my heart for the past few months. It was placed there shortly after arriving in Haiti for the second time.

It weighed on me as we drove through Port au Prince, past tent cities and faces.

It's not an easy something to feel.

While I was there, God opened my eyes to a problem. Maybe, the biggest problem that Haiti faces. The problem was me and the 21 suit cases full of things. The problem is the color of my skin and what that means to the people.

The problem was the color of my skin plus things.

In Haiti, white people stand out. After the 2010 earth quake, white people flooded to Port au Prince for a relief effort. It was blatantly obvious in the USAID tarps that were used as people's homes or roofs that stated that the tarps were "from the American peoples" and UNICEF tarps. Most disturbingly, it was present when people had no reservations about sticking their hand out in front of us to obtain something.

It opened my eyes to the problem that many Haitian people expect Americans, or white people in general, to give them things. This does not mean all Haitian people, but many. And they believe this because we do it.

I recently watched a documentary by Frontline called "Battle for Haiti." This documentary was about the broken prison system in Haiti, but it gave me information that was very disturbing to me. During this documentary they are discussing the tent cities in Port au Prince, and the man being interviewed says that many people in Port au Prince left their homes and moved into tent cities because the people in tent cities were getting things.

Mark Aubry, a missionary working at the Seminary in Saccenville describes this plight as this:

"You see, there is a “learned helplessness” in Haiti. That is, the actions of the people here (and the kids learn it as well) are such that it seems that many are saying, “we’ll just wait for people from America to come here and give us stuff.” However, most community, school and church leaders want to change this attitude and stop the dependency. Haiti needs to develop its own “Haitian Heroes” instead of the kids thinking that the Americans (or other outsiders) are the heroes, bringing in items to save the day."

I think that his description is eerily accurate. There is a certain degree of complacency within the people's mindset with this.

I strongly believe that there is good and bad giving. In both situations, the intentions are incredibly pure and good, but the execution is what determines whether it is good, or bad.

Here are some examples, I feel, that can be bad giving:

  • Giving to people you do not have somewhat of a relationship with. This relationship doesn't have to occur over a long period of time. It can be as simple as getting to know someone's name and their story. When a foreigner goes into a country, they do not understand the language and the culture. This means that they could give to someone who, in reality, doesn't really need it. THE SOLUTION: Provide the items that you would like to give to someone who understands the culture and knows the people better than you. I can't help but wonder what the earthquake relief would have looked like if the aid workers went through and assessed every situation before giving a box of supplies. More than likely, less people would have left their homes to live in tent cities.
  • Giving publicly. When in a classroom, often when you give a student something that is desired, you will quickly have a mob of hands in front of you outstretched for their own. It is basic human instinct, but, when you give to those outstretched hands, it is easy to give to the same child twice, or miss a hand and a child won't give any. This same thing applies when you are a foreigner giving away items. You show that you have one thing, then everyone wants one. THE SOLUTION: Give privately. Pull the person aside into a separate room to give them an item. I think back to Jesus when he would heal someone and he would say "don't tell anyone." Ultimately the person always told others, but I almost wonder if it was to avoid a scene. This concept of giving privately is also referenced in Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets..." 
  • Giving items to meet needs that have already been met. I think that one of the most common misconceptions about Haiti is that they have nothing. But when you drive through the streets everyone is clothed, and not only clothed, but clean. You may see children who are unclothed, but, who dresses their children in their best to go play outside? There are places to purchase clothes, there are places to purchase shoes, there are places to purchase food. Often, these items can be given to people who already have them which means that someone who does not have them will ultimately not get something that they need. Otherwise, if people who do have them already want something different, then they can work and buy new. When they purchase something, instead of it being given to them, they are putting money into the hands of someone who is working to support their family to purchase the same sorts of things. The cycle continues, and the economy grows. THE SOLUTION: Get to know the people before you give. This will get the goods into the right people's hands and force those who do not need to purchase and support the local economy.
  • Giving things. I believe that the best way for Haiti to become stabilized is if they had a functional government, people were educated and jobs were created. Educating people to do a marketable skill is the first step, second would be having entrepreneur create a job for this person, third would be having a functioning government that would allow the Haitian people to easily export their goods. The craftsmanship in Haiti is outstanding, but they often have no way of selling their goods outside of the country. I know nothing about how that system works, so I won't try to cover how it should happen, but I do know that if we educate the people so that they can find their own job, or be a skilled workman, it would go a long way.

It's time that we begin enabling these community, school and church leaders to change this mindset. I believe that it is time to stop giving, and start enabling change.