Monday, July 20, 2015

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that my new job at CBU is pretty much the best thing ever. Each day I wake up with such peace and purpose; I know that God is completely in this new position and new season and I am just overwhelmed with thankfulness, truly.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I am dying to see the new Amy Schumer movie, “Trainwreck”. It is a super salty movie, but I would like to acknowledge that I am a human being, and even more so a sinner, and I can appreciate a good joke here and there. Actually, I can appreciate very much. Popcorn, Junior Mints, and Amy Schumer… I am coming for you!

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about the new series that my church is currently in, The Art of Forgiveness. Honestly, it is the series that I didn’t know that I needed. Generally, I can forgive people (Disclaimer: I haven’t been deeply hurt or wounded like many people I know; I have never had my heart broken, never lost a loved one to a drunk driver or murderer, never had something stolen or taken from me, so yes, forgiveness is something that kind of just flows out of me.). Each week, the Lord has brought something or someone to memory, either someone to forgive, something to forgive, sometimes reminding me to forgive myself. I am also learning a lot about trust and past wounds and what trust issues actually look like for some people. 

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you what God has been teaching you lately… How has He been moving? What does He keep recalling to your mind? What have you been praying through? What Scriptures have been on your heart lately? You know, the usual.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I am itching to be up at Summer Camp with my girls. The fact that I am not up there right now makes me want to eat an entire pint of ice cream and watch a Nicholas Sparks movie. Send help. And Cherry Garcia.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that we are knee-deep in a summer storm, complete with lightning, thunder, and humidity. This kind of weather is my favorite weather and reminds me of the summers I spent my time in the Carolinas, Louisiana, and Georgia. #southernsoul

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you to buy the “Island Moonlight” candle from Target. It is roughly $10 and smells EXACTLY like the Volcano Blue candles from Anthropologie. As much as that smell makes me swoon, I am not about to spend an entire days work on that candle, so thank you Target for meeting yet another need in my life.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that right now, life is pretty awesome. Despite the weird idea of planning for a retirement in 2055 and being a little bit more tired and off my work-out schedule, this new season is just peachy and sweet and a ball of fun!
What season are you in?
Are you judging me for my love of Amy Schumer?
What would you tell me if we were on a coffee date?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

three years & three cheers to CBU...

Big News!

I mentioned in a previous post that my life was about to change, that I had exciting news… And I do! Drum roll please… You are looking at the new Receptionist for University Card Services at California Baptist University! People, this is huge and big and awesome and crazy. And here is a little bit (or a lot bit) of insight into my whole process…

Things that I need to recognize up front:
1. God’s timing is perfect; He is sovereign and good and the fact that I question this makes me the lamest person alive.
2. I am about three years ahead of God in all things. Seriously, I have a pattern.
3. His peace surpasses all things.

Roughly a year ago, I began the interview process for a full-time position at my alma mater, California Baptist University; long story short, it was a year of interviewing, waiting, and praying. Except, I want to give you the long story long because it magnifies God’s sovereignty and is just so good.

I have always wanted to work at CBU; I was told over and over that I would end up being one of those people who would “get stuck” here, and to tell you the truth, that sounded like heaven. CBU was my first home away from home, the place where Teenage Kristi became Adult Kristi. My heart will always be for CBU and for student services, and that desire grew my senior year. I applied vigorously for positions the months before graduation and the months after, thinking that I would work for CBU right out of college… NOPE. That did not work out and I really struggled with that. Naturally, I ended up working for my church with our junior high students and I LOVED IT. Please hear me say that I don’t view that as time wasted, it was just not what I originally planned for. But, my desire to work at CBU was not granted until three years later… Which is apparently my pattern. Seriously. I have noticed that many desires over the course of my life have been planted about three years before they actually come to fruition. Crazy, right? So, long story long…

For a few months last year, I had been applying to various positions within the university. I interviewed for the Financial Aid Department, Graduate Admissions, the School of Education, and a handful more and each led to no avail. I started to question myself and God… Am I not capable? Am I not enough? Is God not capable? Is God not enough? (Seriously, being denied over and over and over will lead you into some crazy wilderness talks with God.) One day, my sweet friend Kelly told me that a new office was hiring and needed a receptionist and that I should apply. I thought about it, prayed about it, and thought why not? (Note: I didn’t seek it out, it completely fell in my lap, which is pretty typical of God… He gives when we least expect it.) I applied that night and received a call the next morning for an interview. After the first interview, a week later I had a phone interview with one of the Deans of Student Services. The next step was to interview with the President. I thought, “This is insane; this came out of left field and it is actually happening! I am interviewing with the President, I am going to work at CBU, GIVE ME A BOX OF TUMS BEFORE I THROW UP.” And then I waited, and waited, and waited some more until I was told the news that pretty much shattered my excitement… CBU entered into a hiring freeze, university wide. I was told that it would be lifted for the Spring semester and that I could be looking at my final interview for December 2014. And then December rolled around, the hiring freeze was not lifted, and I questioned everything. I was told August of 2015. And I doubted. I spent many nights driving and crying and yelling at God. In Riverside, there are orange groves and fields for miles on Victoria Avenue; this is my street. I drive through there with God, windows down, the smell of orange blossoms filling my car, and me talking out life with My Savior. Victoria and I have good memories.

Suddenly, we were in June and I received a call for an interview with the President. I happened to be substituting for a high school art class when I received the call and it took everything within me NOT to just start crying. Luckily, I was in the middle of the prep period and it was totally appropriate for me to answer the phone and start jumping up and down. The following week I interviewed with the President himself, and three days later I was offered the position... 


I had three weeks to wrap up three years of youth ministry. Not to mention, my last week employed at my church would be a mission trip! It was the perfect ending to time well spent. We had cake and ice cream, I packed up my desk and my duffle bag and began praying for my transition. My prayer was to finish well, and at times it was very hard, but I think that God honored that prayer.

We came back from our mission trip on Friday and I started my new position Monday. It was crazy, but it was good.

Looking back, the year of waiting was perfect; it was frustrating and confusing, but it was perfect. That year allowed me to finish my time with my 8th Grade Girls Small Group (and the fact that I now get to move up with them to high school?!?! INSERT A THOUSAND PRAISE HANDS EMOJIS HERE.), to help our new pastor transition into our ministry/church, to begin a journey in counseling, to use my time more liberally (sleeping in, going to Texas, planning a last minute road trip through the Northern Coast, etc.), take some risks and lower my inhibitions, and to settle in to adulthood, kind of. I didn’t know that I needed this past year, but the Lord did, and I really should never question His timing. Proverbs says that we plan all our things but the Lord establishes our steps, and man, am I just so thankful for that. Is it frustrating at times? WELL YES. But, even in the frustration, I am thankful for a God who knows more than I do and has enough love to answer certain prayers with “waits” and “nos”.

So, this past week was my very first week as an official, benefit-receiving, retirement-planning, 8AM – 5PM CBU employee, and it was everything I imagined it to be AND MORE. I was welcomed with open arms, celebrated with balloons, brought in donuts for my staff as we got through (my first) Transfer Student Orientation, and then went out to spend the weekend in San Diego with my best friend. Each day I drive in to work, I am overwhelmed by peace, a peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. The days are full, but rich; I am able to have lunch with past residents and my close friends who work at the university, not to mention Chick-Fil-A is directly across the hall from me (I have told myself that I can only buy lunch there once a week, because health). You guys, it is such a good season and I am so excited to see what God does through this, both in ministry and professionally!

Thank you to every single person who has prayed, encouraged, and loved me through this process. God is faithful and good and sovereign and I still can’t believe that this is real life. I am trying to soak up the blessing of this time and not look for the next season (because as humans, we are really good at not being satisfied, even we are given what we want).

So friends, here’s to three years and three cheers to CBU!  

Friday, June 19, 2015

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have stopped watching “The Bachelorette”, therefore I will not be blogging about it. My thoughts about this season can be summed up in the following statements: Kaitlyn is making horrible choices, this whole “Nick” thing is the worst, she never has Rose Ceremony’s, and Joshua the Welder is too good for her and needs to leave the show and marry me. Same goes for Kentucky Joe. The end.

If we were on a coffee date, we would inevitable talk about “Jurassic World” and how it made me feel like I was on a ride at Disneyland. That whole movie was QUALITY. And Chris Pratt… Insert heart-eyed emoji here, please.

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I am studying through the Women in The Bible over at She Reads Truth, and it is totally rocking me! Revisiting the stories of Leah and Rachel, Sarai and Hagar, and Lot’s Wife have been so good for my soul. It is comforting to know that in all their circumstances, whether they were barren, unfavorable, or impatient, God saw them and knew them and carried them. He does the same for you and me today! What truths have you been reading that have totally rocked your spiritual world lately?

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you some pretty exciting news, like, life-altering news! Stay tuned!

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you some really hard things that I have been processing through. Like, how my view of God directly shapes my view of myself and if I don’t think God is enough, how in the world will I ever think I am enough? Hard things, people, hard things.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you if God is enough. I would ask you and hope that you would give me the real, raw, honest answer, because sometimes the answer is no, and that’s a place to roll up your sleeves and wrestle in.

If we were on a coffee date, what would you want to talk about? 

Monday, June 1, 2015

all the things: may...

I don’t know about you, but May is kind of like the calm before the storm. And because of that, I have been totally stressed and anxious. I know this because my body has decided to freak out and have sinus problems and rib problems and all the problems. But, despite that, May was fun and full of good things. 

Here are all the things (the important ones, at least) of May!

Parks & Rec: I know I am super late to join this bandwagon, but, LESLIE KNOPE IS THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously, this entire show is amazing and I can’t stop laughing and quoting and watching. Each character has something to add (except for April because I generally don’t like weird, dark characters). Ron Swanson? I want him to take me hunting. Leslie Knope? Let’s chat about life over waffles. Ann Perkins? Take my vitals and tell me I am healthy. Chris Trager? Let’s talk about how literally, everything is the best. Tom Haverford? Let’s blow up Instagram and other various social media outlets with photos of us at the best events around town. Every night, I come home to these people and I love them. (This sounds pathetic, but it’s not, it’s pretty much awesome.)

Porn & Technology by Jeff Bethke: This 10 minute video is SO GOOD. He talks about vulnerability, intimacy, porn, technology, the worth of a woman, and so much more. Please do yourself a favor and watch this.

Baseball: Our season has started! I have already been to Dodgers Stadium for my first game of the year (I am not a Dodgers fan, but how can you say no to a free ticket, good company, and Dodger Dogs? YOU CAN’T). I am already scouring Groupon for some deals on tickets for the summer!

Biblical Singleness by Matt Furby: My old boss/current pastor/basically older brother just spoke on Biblical Singleness at our church and it was literally the best message I have ever heard on singleness. If you are single, or even married, you need to watch this. I sat in his office this past week, pouring my heart out about the struggle and the emotional aspect of singleness, and I am so glad that I did. He even quoted me! “My hope is FOR marriage, not IN marriage.” Yep, Kristi Howell original right there!  

Two Years to Forever: This month marked the end of my two year small group with my junior high girls. I blogged about it here and frankly, I am still processing that they are now in high school. How did that even happen? I am going to be a total wreck when I become a mom and have my own childrens’ transitions to cope with.

My Selfie Stick: First off, the fact that these are called Selfie Stick’s? Lame. They should be called Groupie Sticks, because you only use them with a group. I realized that Summer Camp was in about 50 days, so I celebrated by purchasing a Selfie Stick. Feel free to judge me, but also know that I will get THE BEST camp photos, beach photos, etc. with this thing. I feel like every youth leader should have one of these things, it’s like an unwritten rule.

Iced Coffee: My go to this month has been iced coffee. It is a real addiction and I am okay with it. Is that bad? Probably.  

What are some things that you enjoyed this past month?
What are you looking forward to in the coming summer months?

Friday, May 15, 2015

two years to forever...

This week, my Small Group ended.
This week, I have no words and all the emotions.
Monday night was filled with poolside prayers, laughter, tears, selfies, Del Taco Fiesta Packs, and homemade fried ice cream.  And I cried myself all the way home because God’s love and joy and mercy are so evident in this group.

Two years ago, this group came from the Children’s Ministry on the opposite side of the church, into our ministry, and straight into my heart. This group of girls became my group of girls, and the fact that God allowed me to walk with them for two whole years? I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW. I do not question that God completely orchestrated these relationships, because it has been just about too much for me to handle (in every good way imaginable). Two summers, two springs, two falls, two winters. I have seen them through pains and heartaches and joys and laughter; we’ve been the group who has literally mourned and danced together. I am thankful, my heart is joyful, and my cup is overflowing by the gallons.

Teaching these sweet girls has been the best, but being taught by them has been as equally life giving. These girls have taught me so much about what it means to love unconditionally and to know a mothers heart, because let me tell you what, I did not birth these girls, but my love for them is just as fierce as if I did. If any of these girls become orphans, I am adopting them in a HOT HEARTBEAT. No questions asked, you may as well file the paperwork right now just in case, you know, for safe keeping. They have taught me to stay young and to laugh and to wear green tutus and to live fearlessly. They have taught me to exhibit grace and to go with the flow and that Oreos should be incorporated into 85% of your weekly meals. They have taught me what it means to be “on fleek” and all the other cultural shifts and references that are happening amongst the youths of today. They teach me as I teach them and I love how discipleship is cyclical and benefiting to everyone involved (maybe not the Oreo part…).

Monday night we ended our year, celebrating soccer championships and dance performances, new seasons and transitions and new jobs for their parents, sleepovers and snowball fights and awkward conversations about sex; we celebrated TWO WHOLE GIRLS giving their lives to Jesus. And people, if that isn’t the icing on top of an already sweet two years, I don’t know what is!

I am so dang excited for these girls as they start their new adventure in high school! And like I tell these sweet girls, through many tears, we go to the same church and we will always be each other’s people. This is how they learn that community is built across ministries and across rooms; this is how they learn the meaning of the church itself.

But as they grow up, I have so many hopes and prayers and wants for these girls.
I pray that Monday nights remind them of Oreos and Jesus and Tijuana and dance parties and Alex From Target; that they look back at the memories and laugh until they cry.

I pray that their friendships with each other are knit together in the Lord and that they continue to love and serve and encourage and pray for each other with each passing year. I want them to know that we are forever each other’s people.

I pray that they remember that even adults don’t have it all together and that following Jesus will be hard no matter what age you are. To decide to live as a God-fearing girl is no easy choice, but I pray that they wake up every day with the resolve to live in such a way. It is hard, but it is so worth it.

I pray that they continue to pray for my future husband and that when I introduce them to him, they love him and tell him all the silly stories of our Small Group and our jokes and their prayers. And when children come? I pray that these girls love them and cherish them and buy them all the headbands and bows and maybe one day lead them in a Small Group of their own.

I pray that they go into high school (and all of life’s seasons) with all the confidence because God is right there alongside them. He knows what is ahead and He goes before them and hems them in from behind.

I pray that they seek first the kingdom, that in all they do, they will look for the Jesus in it. I pray that they know God’s Word and they pray and they worship with all they have. I pray that one day they do become youth leaders and have a group of girls just like this that they teach and mentor, that they will know the feeling that I have RIGHT NOW.

I pray that they will always laugh with each other and protect each other and worship with each other. I pray that they come alongside each other in both the joys and the trials.

I pray that they learn their gifting’s and serve God with all of their hearts, with all of their capacity, in any season that they find themselves in.

I pray that we never stop celebrating life together; I pray that my fridge is full of graduation invitations, “Save The Dates”, wedding invitations, prayer cards, and Kodak moments from the previous years of us. I pray we still have sleepovers and snowball fights and dance parties to Taylor Swift. I pray that they know how loved they truly are.
Sitting here, writing these words, I am just so thankful, thankful and overjoyed. I am like a broken record in the best possible way. JUST LOOK AT THEM. They have the sweetest smiles and the biggest hearts and the cutest laughs. Two whole years... Praises! 

And this is why I do ministry, this is why I love these girls, because God moves so mightily in the laughter and the crying and the learning. God moves.