Today #3

Today, I was reading through Psalm 139. And verse 17 “His thoughts towards us are as countless as the sand on the shore” (my paraphrase) really struck me. I’ve heard the verse before, many times, but decided to sit with this verse for a bit.

My first thought was “why?? Why does God think about us so much?”
And almost immediately after I asked myself that, I heard in my head,
“Well, why so you think about your cat so much??”

“Because i love her.”

Bingo.

God thinks about you because He loves you.
Simple But so hard to wrap our heads and hearts around.

Psalm 139

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Today #2

Today, my friend and I went to Whole Foods to get dinner. There was this huge section of the store where you could grab a container and fill it with all kinds of food. I was very hungry, and very excited about all the food choices. I probably grabbed a little bit of everything, and then I saw something: 9.99 per pound. CRAP. I held my container and guessed how much it weighed, surely not over 1lb or 2. Surely, I didn’t grab THAT MUCH food. This strange sense of shame and guilt flooded my heart. I knew it was too much. I wish I could have put some of the food back. I wish I had had more self control. Yet, there I was standing in line to buy this meal. I didn’t want to see how much it had cost. I knew I could guess all day long but the scale would ultimately have the final say. I actually asked the cashier not to tell me what I cost haha. I paid for the meal and walked out.
My friends, many of us are holding our life in our hands estimating how good or bad we are. Some days our good actions outweigh the bad and we think “wow I’m great.” But other days we see our mistakes right in front of us, we can’t put our choices back, and guilt and shame flood us. All of us have sin (Romans 3:23), are sinners, we all put food in the bowl and there’s one scale that decided the cost: God, perfect and Holy.
The cost? An eternity spent paying for our sins. (Romans 6:23)
But God being Rich in mercy, sent His Son Jesus to earth. HE lived the perfect life, and died the death we deserved. All of our sin. All of God’s wrath was put on Jesus. He died and resurrected from the grave which proved that He was who he said he was, the Son of God. He did this because He loves us! (John 3:16)

The scale says “sinner” but the receipt says Paid in Full. If someone had paid for my meal, and I went to cashier and said “I want to pay for it.” She’d say “you can’t, it’s already paid for.” I spent a majority of my life trying to earn my salvation by being a good person. I tried to tip the scales in my favor, now I trust God’s provision for my sins and Jesus death and resurrection on the cross. #nomorestriving #nomorewholefoodsbuffetslol

TODAY. #1

Today, a 3 year old girl I was nannying for was riding her tricycle. Something strange happened. She stopped and said “I have to go pick up my rocks.” She got off her bike and went and grabbed 4 or 5 big rocks one at a time and put them on the back of her bike. Then, I watched as she struggled to ride while keeping her rocks on her bike. She would turn her head around, looking back at the rocks, which meant she wasn’t looking where she was going. She would ride into the grass, lose a rock and beg me fo help. She didn’t go far and she got really frustrated. “Look ahead!!” I kept saying. I even offered to take the rocks but she said “no they are mine!” It was all pretty silly to watch, but I also wondered how often i act just like her. Collecting past hurts, carting them around, eyes glued behind me, not looking ahead. Letting these rocks decide where I go and what I’m worth. You’re not the sum of how everyone treats you. You are worthy because God said you are.

What are you looking back at today? Your past? What rocks did you pick up this morning? Are you looking ahead or crashing into the grass cause your eyes are glued to the rocks?

Take some time to choose to forgive, to let go, to leave the rocks on the ground. God is close to you and wants to help.
Psalm 23, Psalm 46. Psalm 139, Psalm 121

Faithfulness in the Mess

Full confession, I have not been writing lately because I don’t have my life together. No one does, really. But,  I found myself slowly creeping away from sharing stuff on Facebook and blogging because change is coming and I don’t know what the future holds. Job changes, potential opportunity to serve overseas, none of it in my control, but so desperately I want to control it all.  As a writer, I like to be able to sit down and write out what is going on in my life and have it all make sense, or at least just write the big updates down.  That’s what Facebook is for right, “Hey guys I’m having a baby!” or “Hey guys, i’m totes engaged to this guy #weddinghashtag #lefthandringfinger” Or “I got my dream job!! #myliferules #humblebrag #blessed” All the big life updates. Seeing how most of my big life updates recently have been a process, I don’t like sharing it unless I know that it’s going to happen. I think that’s wise. I don’t have to tell everyone everything all the time.  It is a process. And that is okay.

I like to have stuff figured out, to have a plan (and I’m type B), and to have an answer when people ask “What’s going on in your life, Marlie?” Usually, I’ll just ramble and always end it with “i’ll keep you posted.” Gosh, if I had a $1 for everytime I’ve said that the last 2 months.  I’ve had my mind and heart focused the last 3 months on this future opportunity to serve. I heard a pastor say, “Many people tell me they want to do great things for God. Not many come and tell me ‘I want to be faithful today.'” Pretty sure I needed to hear that the most out of anyone in that room.

Being faithful today.

That my friends is the real challenge. I spent 90% of my mental space thinking about the future, wondering about the future, and always usually worrying about the future. For the last 3 months, present-Marlie turned into a zombie, cause she checked out of the hotel and is living in “future land.” Checking out of the present in a sense is like I’m telling God: Where you have me doesn’t matter, the people around me don’t matter, the job I have doesn’t matter. Because all my headspace and energy is spent looking towards the future. Because that’s when I’ll serve, or share the gospel or love people around me.

Being Faithful today and taking life 24 hours at a time has been a game-changer for me.

Friends, there is freedom and peace in taking each day as it comes. I can’t control what opportunities come my way, but I can control how I take advantage of today. Where ever you are,  there are opportunities to make a difference. I don’t think the Enemy is out to get us all to be murderers or rapists, I think he is okay with letting us be slaves to worry, prone to apathy and feeling like our life does not matter right now because we’re not where we want to be (discontentment and doubt.)

The Enemy’s firsts words to Adam and Eve introduced doubt into their ears and sunk deep into their hearts:

did God really say….

Today, I still hear that whisper of doubt and it can be crippling.

Did God really say He has a plan for your life?
Did God really say He cares about you?
Did God really say He is for you and not against you?

The answer to those questions are a resounding YES. and Amen.
Open your Bible and start reading. Drown out the lies with truth from Scripture.

Ephesians is a great place to start.  This is Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus, but perhaps God preserved this text for thousands of years because it’s his prayer for us as well.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

 

In all the mess, I know God is in control, faithful and at work,

 

Marlie.

killing the god of Expectation

the god of Expectations.
The daily prayer:
god of expectations, hear my cry,
things have to go my way, or i’ll die
I have a plan for my life and how it will go,
if any of this is thwarted, then I will let you know
that I’ll try to take the reigns of control back
because this life is mine and I want it on my track
—————————————————————

I have found nothing but disappointment, anxiety and embarrassing attempts to control situations when I am holding tight to expectations of my life, myself or others.  I look back at all the times I was disappointed in myself and its due to me not meeting an expectation I had of myself: I wasn’t funny enough, outgoing, deep. I wasn’t patient enough, or kind enough, or listening with my full attention. Then, when I didn’t meet my expectation, shame came rushing in.

I do this for others too. As an idealist, I hold people to this unfair standard that they will never get mad, lose their patience, lie, or disappoint me. I view them as God and that’s not fair. All the times I’ve been disappointed in others is the times I’ve held them to an unfair expectation and they being human, failed.

I also have expectations for my life and the way I think it should go. I don’t write a step-by-step plan for my life on paper, I’m way too Type B for that, but I do have a really nice expectation for my future. (Marriage, kids, 2 cats, white picket fence.) So let’s have a chat about what I wanted for my life at this point and how it’s not worked out:
1st grade, I wanted to marry this boy because he was sitting next to me and we both liked the color blue.  (Thank you God for not answering this prayer)

College, I had the expectation of finding my husband.  (I graduated college single and have spent the last 3 years at church in Dallas finding healing, recovery from past trauma in my life. Not to mention, a new thriving relationship with Christ)

After college, I was sure I’d jump into a successful writing career (because i knew so much at 22 😉 )  and start traveling around the country speaking and doing conferences (Um, see previous parenthesis.)

The last 3 years a lot of different things could have happened; could have gotten married, had kids, started a career, moved out of the house. These were all expectations I had. And now as I wait, and wait, and wait, to hear back about this next big step in my life. I look back and see how faithful God has been. And as it’s so tempting to clench my fists tight on what I want for my life, I look back and see God’s faithfulness and see that He has done great things and He will not stop now.  When I wake up, I pray this prayer. When I feel myself getting anxious, i pray this prayer. When I feel myself trying to control a situation to make it go more the way I want it to, I pray this prayer.

God, please help me stop putting my trust and hope in my expectations for my life. Instead, help me put my trust in You and You alone.
I surrender my expectations for my life, of others and myself.

 

 

5 days under a rock (my life without facebook)

Last Tuesday, I started my 2nd break from Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook almost daily for 11 years, aside from a few weeks off last year. I wrote a blog last time I took a break, and decided to blog again about this break as well because It hasn’t even been a week but its crazy how just a week off reveals so much about why I love/hate facebook.

Desire to Share: I think one of the perks of Facebook is that you do have a platform to share a lot about your life. Stories, experiences, pictures, videos.  At the click of a button you can let everyone on your friends list know that you’re mad at the guy who cut you off in traffic, or that you really enjoyed the Incredibles 2 movie. You can also share your thoughts, feelings, frustrations, opinions, etc with people almost immediately. It’s very gratifying; have a thought>share it on Facebook> have people instantly validate your thought. I think that is one of the reasons its so addicting. We are always thinking, living, having experiences and so why not share them with the world? It’s that cherry on top, not only do I get to go and see my favorite band in the front row, but I also get to tell hundreds of people about it!! What did people do before social media? Just live their lives??? what?

 

The Performance: As a story teller and writer myself, I used facebook as a platform to share my story as I experienced it. I’ve gone through a lot of growth and change and loved getting to share it with others as an encouragement to them. However, I’ve recently hit a stage in my life where change is coming and I don’t know the next chapter, and I’m stuck staring at a blank white page with nothing to share. Then, you are reading the newsfeed and getting lost in all the stories of other peoples lives and you’re looking at your life and their life and wondering what the heck? Why am I not getting my dream job? dream husband? and dream ranch in the hills of Montana? Oh dear friend, remember your friends are only sharing their highlights. Just like you tend to only share yours. Not every family is perfect, not every event is “a blast”, not every friend group gets along all the time. You are not the only one. You are not the only one. You are not the only one who feels lonely, or disappointed or like they don’t have anything figured out.  I try to be as authentic as possible on social media. However, I still catch myself only sharing the highlights, because well, that’s what people do and its sad.

3.  Connection: As soon as I had a friend change my password for Facebook, I felt a twinge of disorientation and almost loneliness. Like, all my friends were accessible at all times on facebook and now I have to like call them, or text them or meet with them in person. WHAT. IS. THIS. MADNESS. I found that though it takes more effort to meet with people this way, it means a million times more. A person is not words on a screen, or a picture on a page. They are more than the words they can type or the like button that they click. They have a laugh, a smile, a face they make when they can’t hold the tears back anymore. We are made to connect. Can Facebook be a tool to connect? sure. but don’t forget to call, to meet in person, to do things together.

I need to take frequent breaks to remind myself of this: You are not the number of likes you receive (your stories, thoughts and opinions matter not because someone validated them, but because they are yours) , someone’s status update is not an accurate depiction of their life and neither is yours so stop comparing,  you can connect with people in person and it means SO MUCH MORE than commenting on their status.

-Marlie

 

(6 days till Albania!!!!!)

 

 

 

No Longer Slaves

Joshua 5:9

“And the Lord said to Joshua ‘Today, I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.”

Joshua 5 is a pretty uncomfortable read,   but I imagine it’s way worse for the fellas to read.  Yet, in the midst of the awkward, God said something that really struck me.

“I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.”

Remember your years of slavery? Remember the hours spent in the sun making bricks and building walls? Remember how Pharaoh dehumanized you, and ordered all the first born sons to be killed?  Egypt disgraced you. But, I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.

That verse gave me chills. God has the final say. When the Enemy brings shame, God brings honor. What the enemy destroys, God restores. What the Enemy  breaks down, God redeems.

Odds are you were not a slave in Egypt, but chances are you were enslaved to something.  I was enslaved to people’s opinions of me, anxiety and shame.  The last few years God has been leading me on an Exodus of my own, out of that enslavement and into freedom. Yet, there still is this lingering shame and disgrace. My past says “marlie, you are a disgrace.”  But God has something to say: “Marlie,  I rolled away the disgrace of sin from You.”

When Jesus died on the cross, they put him in a tomb and put a giant stone over the grave. When Jesus rose from the grave, the stone was ROLLED away. That giant stone that was supposed to keep Jesus in the grave? Mere Child’s play compared to God’s power.  Because of Christ death and resurrection, you don’t have to live enslaved anymore.  You don’t have to let the disgrace of your past sin weigh you down for one more second. The Enemy would love  for you to carry around the stone on your back, but God says “I have rolled that stone away.”

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1