Ennea-God, the Divine Nine-in-One

As I was falling asleep the other night, I wrote this poem-ish thing to God. Yes, the triune God of the Bible–the one you and I both know. I admit my title may have been a bit of a click-bait ploy to get my non-enneagram loving friends to actually read this, if only to look for ways to call me out on my obsession or to criticize the enneagram itself for going too far.

And if this is heretical, please do call me out (I know my obsession with the enneagram makes its way uninvited into too many conversations).

But this is important (to me, at least). If you tend to focus on the negatives of the Enneagram or on the negative things it brings to light in us, please let me remind you that we are made in the image of God. And by learning about the Enneagram we can learn more about people, and by learning more about people we can learn more about God. And vice versa, all the ways.

So here’s just a little taste (for you anti’s or newbies) of the Enneagram from a Christian perspective–not for the sake of sanctification here, but for the sake of worship. This is my love song to God and to God’s people, all at once.

Like a One, you are so holy, faithful, truth itself. You hold us up to your standard. And even though the world has been broken since we were born, we  can still somehow picture impossible perfection because we know you.

Like a friend you want me to share. And like a Two you care most that I keep coming back to your love ‘cause you know it’s the best there is to offer. So you’re gentle and patient and understanding.

Like a Three, you won’t stop until your name is the greatest and knees bow down and everyone wants to be like you. In every culture, you are King. Respect weeps at your feet and we pour the perfume of our values on your crown.

Like a Four, you want only our sincerity–not our best face forward. You know uniquely and desire, more than anything–for us to know you, knowing that’s near impossible. We’ll both still spend eternity trying.

And like a Five, you pride yourself in knowing silly things like strands of hair and the name of every star. And sometimes I think you’re shy, but you’re probably in there, happy dreaming of new clever ways to work things out.

Like a Six, your love is a promise, marriage, family–not just sacrificial but everyday kindness. You are a hug and a home, keeping us strong and safe and sure of something.

And like a Seven, you do things differently every time, and all for the sake of the most exciting story. You keep us with our fingers on the corners of the page, and help us to live the letters boldly. You won’t just let me sit comfortably.

Like an Eight, you hate hypocrisy. You show me that there’s always more I don’t see and you want me to start becoming who I could be.

Like a Nine, sometimes it’s hard to tell your voice from mine. It’s so quiet and so one-with-me. You actually became one of us so you could understand us better and so that we could start to grasp how you think, too. You are the great Mediator, and the Prince of making peace.

Back to y’all now, my readers. I want you to know I love all of you more than I love my very limited knowledge of who you are as your type (if that makes sense). But I also want you to know (especially you Ennea-lovers) that I’ve been intentionally trying to learn and appreciate more about each type, sometimes literally writing out lists like, “things I love about type fours” or “type eights are really great at…” There’s so much I’m learning to love about people who are different from me, who I might not have been able to understand before. 

George Box, a statistician, said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” I’m a big fan of analogies, but I understand the wariness toward any kind of system that attempts to “Box in” the beautiful complexity of reality (see what I did there?). And I’m not trying to convince anyone, really. Just here to explain how my love for the Enneagram ties into my love for all of you Image-bearers. I can start to see you maybe just a little bit clearer, and that is so exciting.

I hear a lot of bloggers use the phrase, “trying to start a conversation.” That’s not really why I’m here. But I do love to talk about God and the enneagram, so if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on either, feel free to reach out to me.

Meanwhile, here’s at least one link to get you started:  https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

God bless your mess ❤

Love, Stina


Summer: A Study

This one is for my friends taking summer classes. Whether you’re squeezing in material so that you can graduate on time, or taking classes because you haven’t quite finished yet–taking classes in the summer can be a drag. Ok, taking classes anytime can be a drag. Even for you nerds at SIL UND this summer–sometimes it feels like education is just a long, long, orientation before we eventually get to the real work. We can’t wait to finish that degree or get the training we need so that we can finally reach our goal and get to the field and I feel ya.

But slow down with me a second and let me share with you something I learned during my time at Gordon that’s actually applicable now.

It started in the library. It was late at night in Jenks, Spring semester of Sophomore year. I was reading about the Pentecost for a presentation Benji and I were going to have to give in Elaine Philips’ Intro to Biblical Studies class and Nick Karinge was there, head phones on, belting out worship in the middle of the reference room. And as I read about that ancient Jewish festival, I realized something. People, over hundreds of years, recorded their traditions and their stories and their literature was passed on, making its way all the way to this specific college and into this specific commentary and my specific hands. And their scholarship tied me to them, allowing me to celebrate with a group of God-fearing diaspora (multicultural Jews). Nothing separated us but a couple thousand years. That chair I sat on? That was a holy chair. Those tables may as well have been a monastery. Nick and and Evan and I talked about how the chapel and the prayer room were not the only places students worshipped. They worshipped here, some in silent awe (like me) and some in not-so-silent singing (like Nick). Just reading drew me closer to God’s people and to God and it dawned on me that study…is worship.

And that wasn’t my only discovery that night. Many of you know that I’m hoping to work as a Bible translator pretty much as soon as I can. And I’ve known this since Freshman year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my doubts and insecurities about my ability to do so. But as I read about that first Pentecost, I realized that if God was calling me to do something, God would give me the ability to do it. Because, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not […] the LORD? (Exodus 4:11). Everyone at the Pentecost heard the Galileans declaring the wonders of God and understood the words in their own language. And I felt the pressure of my calling slip away. Not that I’m going to stop studying. But if I turn out to be a horrible linguist, there’s always the Holy Spirit, am I right? I’m only mostly kidding. Because that night I realized it’s not about how much you know. What is important is how much you learn. And that you never stop. We should always be hungry and humble and dare to climb the heights of the knowledge of the universe knowing that there’s always going to be more to climb because as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are God’s thoughts so soaring.

I’m a firm believer in the analogy. I think everything can be explained better with a metaphor. And I think that we can start to understand God when we learn about the world around us. Whether it’s societal systems or those of stars, all of it reflects aspects of its Creator. In The Great Conversation (a Gordon core class every freshman takes), we read that article, “Educating for Shalom,” about Christian higher education. And I remember talking about how education doesn’t just equip us for a vocation. That learning biology isn’t just a step we have to take to become a doctor. It’s an exercise that has value in and of itself because when we learn about an eye, or about our breath, or our brain, we learn about God. The same goes for music, art, math, literature. Even works of fiction teach us about human character, and humans were made to mirror God. Learning is significant, and not just as a means to an end.

God wants us to grow and wants to reveal God’s self to us. I know that more often than not, I skim through or forget to read my assignments and handouts altogether. But I haven’t taken a single class that didn’t cause me to, at least once, stop—in the middle of a reading or in the middle of a lecture—and comprehend something in a new way. Those are moments of discovery, of awe, of worship.

Albert Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

And maybe that’s overwhelming for some of you, or at least humbling. But it’s also exciting. Because it means that there is an eternity of learning ahead of us to match the eternity of life we have in Christ. This is an eternal calling and it’s already started.

So take a deep breath with me. And read, and listen. Because the more you learn, the more you learn. And that in itself is so good.

Bumpy Bus-ride Thoughts

A couple months ago, I was in another country and all the roads in the town were dirt roads and it was rainy season, so as I stepped out of the truck into squelchy red clay, I warned a fellow passenger, “Step lightly.” He chuckled that this situation is ridiculous chuckle and asked me, “Is that your motto?” Funny thing was, it’s something I had been thinking about a lot. Since summer, even. I felt like I was jumping from place to place, community to community. And it’s really tempting to just avoid investing when you know you won’t be someplace for very long. But, “As a dancer,” I told him, “It’s actually really important to bend your knees every time you land.” And if Gordon College has taught me anything it’s the value of being present–be here now. And I’ve always been proud of my ability to be in the moment. I thought it was my superpower.

I’ve been abroad for over three months now, but this past week, I got hit with my first wave of homesickness, and a nice bout of food-sickness to go with it. At first, I thought to myself, well, the stomach is the seat of emotions, and I was just really feeling the longing for home, for friends, for something familiar and comfortable. And I was. But I was also feeling my intestines protesting to whatever it was I ate or drank. This is probably TMI, but it’s going somewhere, I promise. So I took some Imodium, which allowed me to travel and function like I needed to. But as my stomach started to bloat, I was more and more aware of all the things I was “holding in” and holding onto: words left unsaid, bitterness, anger, and an ache for my communities at Gordon and back home.

On the 5th day of illness, I was talking to a woman who had been traveling back and forth for a few years now, who was about to embark on yet another  season abroad. And she seemed to be aching in the same way I was–for a home and a community where she could finally plant herself and not have to say goodbye again. She mentioned the importance of decorating her room wherever she was. “Making new friends” was a piece of advice she repeated but I recognized solemn, almost bitter, undertones in the phrase. She told me about her family’s Christmas tradition of writing poems for each other, but not knowing what to write anymore because she hadn’t seen them in a year. She hadn’t really had enough time in one place to form a Christian community, either. This week, I really resonated with this woman. I can’t do this long-term, I thought to myself.

The feeling hit a climax on the 5th and final hour of my bus-ride back. We started taking switchbacks through hills and I was weather-beaten, exhausted, and nauseous. And I thought about transition. How it does exist. There will be times when, other than a nice sunset and some mountain views, the majority of the ride will be spent gritting my teeth and praying my way through. Times when I won’t be content in the moment so much as in the hope that it’ll be over soon. And that’s ok. Because faith, hope–these are Jesus-sanctioned, future-oriented joys. Twice this weekend I read:

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland … to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself, that they may proclaim my praise.

Isaiah 43:16-21

We won’t be wandering in the desert forever, friends. Maybe some of you thrive on the nomad life, but I’ve learned I have a longing for a home, for a community I don’t have to say goodbye to. I’ve always said that it’s not really about the people, but God Who is constant is loving me through the people he puts in my life, for however short a time. And I stand by that. But I also know there’s probably a lot more transition ahead of me, and the challenge is in loving God back by investing in the people and the places I’m in. He’ll provide the streams, no doubt. But do I trust Him enough to grow where I’m planted, to bloom, knowing I’m going to be uprooted again? Do you?

Below are some consecutive vignette-like poems I wrote on that bumpy-bus ride. Not all the details will make sense without context, but maybe you can relate to the feelings behind them.

Exhaust Fumes

We’re all a bit battered and jostled and tousled,

Covered in dust,

Stickers and stamps and sewn-on tags too,

A couple minor tears but not terribly bruised,

Infused with the smell of the fumes

And exhausted.


Hang Dry

Pants damp

Stretched shoes

Everything else kind of is too,

From hanging it all on the line.

Old wine skin, new wine.

I keep asking for more time.


What am I Saying?

When we get there

Why do I keep saying we?

I guess there’s Christina

…but then it’s just me.

When we get there it’ll all be better, ok.

Ok? Grass always greener?

I’m scared to say.


I Forget Her Name

Poems are hard to write in English.

And I haven’t seen my siblings all year.

Tu me manques means you are missing from me,

And I haven’t had time to put pieces in here.



“We’re close.”

That’s what always gets me through.

There’s that we again–

That’s right–

It’s me and You.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Halfway to the Beginning

This was my second summer of SIL UND. Reputably much more difficult than Package A. However, I found myself with time to spare. And a lot of that I spent processing. Was translation something I was still passionate about? Was I ready for ANOTHER summer of being a full-time student? Was this really an area where God had given me strengths? We all approached the summer, it seemed, with a lot of doubts. And God responded to my half-formed questions. Here’s the gist of my discoveries.

Art has always been extremely important to me. This past semester, I was attempting to study in the library one day when my classmates were talking about “being scholars,” and I looked up to see this beautiful painting on the wall and thought to myself (v cheesy and a bit embarrassing) “I’m not a scholar; I’m an artist.”

I grew up taking dance classes, but there had been 3-4 instances in my life when an opportunity to be further involved in dance presented itself. And for maybe a day or two, I seriously considered it. But then the opportunities were taken away, and I was crushed. Dancing, or teaching dance, professionally had never been my childhood dream or my Plan A, so why was I so upset (on so many occasions) when the chance was gone? Part of it was that dance, and art in general, had been deemed unimportant and even illegitimate–as a profession and as a ministry. This past spring I told someone about a completely hypothetical position being offered me to teach dance and his response was “Who would support you?” And I cried, knowing that this reaction implied he certainly wouldn’t.

But God showed me His love for art–and for me–later that week at an evening chapel session called The Space. The first few rows of chairs had been cleared so that people could have space to dance, there was a table covered in supplies so people could worship through art, and the stage was set up like a cozy living room. Don’t let anyone tell you aesthetics aren’t important. The blue linoleum stretched out under my bare feet to the foot of the chapel stage like a dark, calm ocean. I didn’t even want to dance at that moment, but as a dancer, there’s nothing quite as beautiful as wide open space. I felt like it was like a gift from God. All I could do was sink down and cry–good tears this time–thinking about how much God loved me. I felt like He was telling me, “I love art not just because it’s Who I am, but because I love you, I care about what you care about.”

Even after graduating from high school and consistent dance classes, opportunities to teach and perform continued to fall into my lap. So that’s what got me through: knowing that God would continue to provide “side jobs” in the arts as He had so faithfully done for the past three years. But I was still struggling. How much time could I justify spending on these “side jobs”? I was at SIL UND to learn about linguistics, not to put on a Skit Night or design a T-shirt. How could I reconcile who I was as an artist with what seemed to be my calling as a translator, something so seemingly intellectual and left-brained.

So one day, halfway through the summer, I felt the need to write down the dance-related “dream-crushing” experiences. And maybe I’ll post them here one day. But I finished writing and my thoughts were still inconclusive when I read an chapter for my Ethnographic methods class. It was about symbolism in language. And art in religion. In Africa (my secret dream location). And I realized: I’m the daughter of an engineer in a western culture that idealizes scientific knowledge over all. But that’s just one part of the human experience and only one part of speech. Language in every culture is highly symbolic. And religion in every culture is highly artistic–this culture specifically revered dancing. I realized that who I am as a person who thinks in metaphors, and who I am as a person who sees places for their beauty, and who I am as a person who processes visually, and who I am as a person who expresses and relates to people through dance–all these characteristics will be valuable on the field.

Understanding and interacting with people and their culture, translating literature that’s full of symbols and allegory, and communicating the mysteries of the invisible God can’t be done with great knowledge alone. Art is important. Essential.


Some relevant quotes from the chapter.
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Holistic Humanity


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The Deepest Language


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Rationality is not our Religion

Taken from: “The Mystique of Life” pp. 94-104 in Magesa, Laurenti, African Religion: The Moral  Traditions of Abundant Life, 1997.

…because there’s nothing else to do in North Dakota

This is how I end a lot of stories about my time at SIL, partly jokingly. Being without a vehicle on an empty campus in the middle of nowhere certainly leads to a lot of creative methods of having fun. I’d like to share with you some of the things I did outside of class this summer to show you how SIL students aren’t afraid to think outside of the box and that even nerds have a high capacity for creative slacking.

Push-up Club

Yes, you heard right. Every night at 9:15pm, anywhere from 5-30 people would drop what they were doing, come to the lounge on my floor, drop to the floor, and give it their all for the entirety of an inspirational song. Eye of the Tiger, Final Countdown, Chariots of Fire, and other classics boomed through the hall, interrupting the homework of many, while our unofficial club pumped our pectorals and crunched our numbers. My friend Janelle, I believe, was the one to start the push-up club, or at least to make it into what it soon became. We started adding our numbers together and came up with group goals. She’d shout, “Everyone do FIVE MORE and we’ll make it to a thousand tonight!” Lessons learned: physical activity is good for the brain, team goals enhance community bonds, and it’s all in the music.

Poetry Nights

On Thursday nights, Graham and Sarah (the cutest, young, hip, married, linguist couple) started a poetry reading club. People would come with books, computers, or smart phones and sit in a circle and read our favorite poems. Silly ones and serious ones, and even some of our own work. Eventually, this night morphed into a poetry writing session as well. We were all dying for a creative outlet and as linguists we delight in the power of words. So once again, someone would set a soundtrack, (this time something a bit more soothing), and for the length of the song, we would write. To switch things up a bit, we took on the challenge of writing a poem to fit a poem title written by someone else. My friend Doug wrote about our process, compiled our poems, and published the work, titled Poems from a Bucket, so you can read all about it for yourself (and you can read our poems!). Check it out.

Swing Dance Club

My friend Becca and I actually started this one ourselves. On Saturdays we taught some basic Swing and danced for about an hour. I had the privilege of dancing with the program director, Dr. Bickford, and had the amazing experience of dancing with a girl named Shay. She’s deaf and she’s from Burma. So she speaks Myanmar Sign Language and I had previously had no real interaction with her other than a smile on the elevator. Several SIL students and faculty know some ASL and a handful were also learning Myanmar Sign from her, but I was at a total loss. But the one thing we had in common was the love of dance. I had to come up with ways to explain things visually, which was challenging but so exciting. And it sure helped that Swing is a partner dance, because she was able to feel the unique rhythm of Swing without being able to hear the 3/3 time of the music—and she had a better sense of rhythm than a lot of hearing people I’ve tried to dance with before. Shay also taught me some Burmese traditional dances and it just so cool being able to connect and share our cultures and have fun without being able to speak each other’s languages.

Volleybal Tournament

As a non-competitive, non-athletic individual, I did not take part in this particular activity, but I did sit on the sidelines and cheer on my friends, enjoying the golden hour outdoors and the company of the other spectators. All ages played in this very serious but very friendly competition of seven teams (they were named after the seven dwarves) with a game or two almost every night of the week.

Skit Nights

There were three of these throughout the summer. The first was hosted by returning students, the second by first year students, and the third by the staff and faculty. When our turn to host came around, I was right in my element. We put together a team of organizers and actors and writers and stage hands and techies and basically put on a full production in the form of an awards show. The full recording is below, but as a warning, it’s full of linguistics references and SIL inside jokes, so while it will give you a good idea of the night and a taste of the community, you won’t think it’s funny.

Work Assignments

To keep the cost of the program low, every student is assigned to some sort of job helping out with childcare, cleaning the building, security, etc. I cleaned the childcare area with the same team of people every night of the week and it was a great excuse to take a break from intellectual work and bond with people.

Campus and Downtown

The campus of UND is big and beautiful and there are plenty of places to study and hang and get coffee; there’s a playground and a park. We had a program cook-out with food and games. Grand Forks is on the river-border to Minnesota. On the fourth of July we sat by the river and watched fireworks and on my friend’s 21st birthday, we put together a scavenger hunt with stations and clues both on campus and downtown Grand Forks. One weekend, three of my girl friends made the three-hour drive to Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada and enjoyed a farmer’s market, thai food, and the incredible friendliness of Canadians. Grand forks also has farmer’s markets on Saturdays, good pizza, and cute coffee-shops.

…And when there’s nothing else to do, you can always run outside in the rain, go for a joy ride on the long, straight, empty roads, write letters or make phone calls, take a nap in a hammock, go out gazing at shooting stars and Northern lights, or you know, watch Netflix.

Why I Spent Last Summer in North Dakota

It’s been five months since I was there–in Grand Forks, North Dakota, studying linguistics. Just how every college student wants to spend their summer, right? Part of me hated the idea of taking more classes through the summer and spending more money instead of making some. But I had a dream; I still do. And that’s why in another five months, I’m going back and doing it again.

SIL is a faith-based, non-governmental organization that works in language research, development, preservation, translation, and training worldwide. Their training is what I was interested in. The acronym stands for Summer Institute of Linguistics. It was this program that took me all the way to North Dakota last summer where, for two months, I practiced learner-directed methods of second language acquisition, pronouncing and transcribing the phonetic alphabet, analyzing the syntax and morphology of foreign languages from sets of data, and using  digital media to collect quality recordings. I also learned about writing systems and the sociological implications of their development and reform. In other words, I finally got to take classes that had real-world implications and applications. I took 10 credits’ worth of linguistics classes in 9 weeks and I’d do it again.

So what exactly brought me there? I’ve always been fascinated by language and how it works. Languages are so connected but so different, so structured yet always changing. So I went to college as a linguistics major, and the dream that started to form during high school started to become a goal, even a plan: simply, to translate the Bible into a language that doesn’t have one. I want to work as a linguistic consultant with a committee of translators in a community that wants the Word of God in their native language. As a Biblical Studies double-major, I know the significance of the Bible as a religious, literary, historical, and sociological document and the incredible impact it has had in those areas. As a Christian, I know the spiritual significance of this book and have seen the ways it challenges and even changes people’s relationships, behaviors, and world views–including my own.

I once heard a Bible translator tell a story about a tribe in Papua New Guinea. He was working with the leaders of the community on Bible translation when one of the men finally understood that this book was the written word of God, inspired by the Creator of everything, a God more powerful than all the ones they feared on their island. As the man soaked this in, he asked the translator slowly, “Did your father have this book?” and after the translator nodded, again, “did his father have this book?” and after asking about its heritage a few generations further back, he eventually got the idea that we had had the Word of God for a long time. In his culture, it is socially incorrect to make another person feel shame, but from the silence that followed, the translator felt the weight of the question left unspoken: Why has it taken you this long to tell us about it? 

We can’t fix all of the problems we see. We don’t even have enough energy to care about every major injustice, though many of us pretend to. In my opinion, we’d do better to spend our time and energy on causes that we can actually do something about. I chose this as my cause, or maybe God gave me a passion for it. Either way, I realized I’m willing to give several years of my life to this venture, much less a couple of summers.

I spent the summer with people who shared my love of linguistics as well as my values and passions. I shared meals and worked on homework with families home from the field, researchers and professors, and young aspiring college students like myself who plan on applying to work in Bible translation after graduating. I chose to do this training now, over the course of two summers rather than after graduation, for three reasons:

  1. So that at graduation, I can actually be done with classes for the foreseeable future.
  2. So that when I leave for the field, the support that I raise can go straight to travel and living expenses, rather than toward training.
  3. So that I can get on the field faster.

I’m blessed to have parents who are extremely supportive as I spend my summers bringing in no income of my own. They made sure that I got to SIL last summer, but this additional tuition wasn’t part of the four-year college deal. So I’m trying to raise three things:

  1. Awareness for the cause. Maybe this is something you care a lot about too? Over a hundred million people have no part of the Bible in their first language. Please do your research and spread the information and the passion for Bible translation.
  2. Funds! To work as a translator, I need to complete the second half of my training. It’s another 10 credits of classes this coming summer (2017). I’m applying and trusting God for provision, but you know he uses people, so if you can, please consider donating! You can find out more under the Donate tab.
  3. Support. Donating now doesn’t mean you have to continue to do so, but I would like to start to create a network of long-term support. That doesn’t just mean people who fill my pockets. I need people who care enough to keep up with my story and to share it, and most importantly to pray for me and the efforts of Bible translators worldwide and whatever God has in store.

Thanks for reading. Whatever your cause, wherever you are in life or geographically, serve God and serve the people around you.

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 

-1 John 4:20-21