Beyond the Surface?

1) My name is Marlie. I am 21. Texan. Middle-class, Caucasian, College student.  Psychology/Political science major.

2) I love cats, meaningful conversation, popcorn, I love rollercoasters, I’m upbeat and love laughing.  I play trumpet and ukulele. I really love writing.

3) A few of my favorite moments: skydiving with my best friend, swimming with dolphins,  when a stranger gave me their front row ticket to my favorite band’s concert.

4) My life changed when: a friend of mine took his life in 2007, when we put my dog down, when I finished my application to GoNow Missions, when I attended Passion Conference 2012,  when my parents split up.

 

Everyone has a story. “A person is much more than what meets the eye.” And so on and so forth. Upon looking at me you could figure out line number 1 on your own or by a few minutes of talking with me. Number 2 maybe after a week or so of friendship. Number 3 and especially number 4 come with time. People say they want to “deepen” their relationship with people and they do that by sharing personal stuff, their hurts and dreams and fears. My point being is that you couldn’t assume the facts in number 3 or 4 upon looking at me. Just like I couldn’t just figure out your whole life based on looking at you or exchanging a simple “how are you?”  As a psychology major, a people lover, a Christian, I love connecting with people on deeper levels, though.

And I also love going beyond what life appears to be, finding the deeper meaning in what happens in my life. Gosh, that sounds so cliche and dumb. But when something happens to me, I see something, I hear something and in that moment or later on God’s like:
“Marlie, did you see that?”
“Yup, I did.” And then some comparison, analogy hits me. If you’ve read ANY of my blogs, you’ll understand what I mean.

I write using analogies and metaphors because they make sense to me. I’m a visual learner and go figure God knows that and uses things around me to teach me things. Life can be very shallow, things can be very surface-level if we allow it to be. But, I want to go deeper, and I want you to join me.

Let’s go beyond the surface.

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the Pool guy

I forgot his name, but I’ll refer to him as pool guy. We needed our pool fixed/cleaned and so he came that morning. I returned that evening from my walk/jog and figured Pool guy was gone for the day because his truck was gone. I pulled into the driveway and the sermon on the radio was really good so I sat and my car and continued to listen. The pastor was talking about mourning our own sinfulness, and allowing God space to work in the darkness in our hearts. I had become very aware of the darkness in my heart the past few months. The pastor also talked about how no heart was too broken for God. Something I needed to become aware of. Right about when the sermon ended, the pool guy pulled into the alley. I turned my car off, got out and asked if I needed to move my car.

“Ohnoyou’regood, whatsyournameagain?” He talked so quickly.

“Marlie,” I responded. He went on and on about the hawks flying around. When he wasn’t talking about hawks, he was talking about pools: our pool, fixing pools. I’d never seen someone speak with such passion about pools.

“Man, I just love the transformation the pool goes through. Like, it’s broken and messy when I first show up and then seeing the finished product when I leave. It’s just awesome.”

“Hopefully our pool hasn’t been too much trouble, it’s been out of business for years.”

“Oh no, no no no. Oh no. No pool is too broken for fixing.” He continued talking about the rest of the process of how he was going to fix our pool.

“It needs an acid cleaning, to get the algae out. And I gotta spray wash it. And there’s that crack on the step, which I’ll fix.” He was acting out each step, with sound effects. This guy loved pools. After a few stories from him about how he rescued some giant catfish from a flooded pool, I said “hey have a good night.”

“Okie dokie. you too.” And I chuckled.

I didn’t think about pool guy, or pools, or the sermon until I was sitting at the kitchen table eating some food the next day. Everything hit me in waves.

The sermon: “No heart is too broken to be fixed”, echoed by pool guy: “no pool is too broken to be fixed.” Watching pool guy work almost made me weep because I realized that this whole time I’ve been a Christian, God has been at work in my broken, messed up, ratchet heart: acid cleaning, fixing the cracks, pressure washing. Sometimes I kick God out. No, not there God, too messy. Let me clean that up first. I tell him. That’s as silly as locking pool guy out because the pool is messy and broken. “well of course it is, that’s why you called me, right?” Pool guy would respond. Also, the passion pool guy had for cleaning pools and that transformation, was nearly contagious. And if this regular, human being can find such joy in the transformation of a cement hole that holds water. How much more does God delight in transforming our hearts? We just have to open the gate and let Him in.

The night before pool guy came I spent some time reading the bible.  A day later as I ate my lunch, tears already streaming down my face, I remembered the verse I had read that night

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17

Alright, God, come fix this heart.

A letter I received

A letter I found today.

Dear Marlie,

This letter is long overdue. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how desperately I needed to write to you. I need to apologize, for everything, really. I’m sorry for calling you fat, and I’m sorry for calling you ugly. I’m sorry I call you so many names when you make mistakes whether it’s small, like missing a turn on the road, or big like failing a test. The wound is bad enough and I’m sorry for adding salt to it. I’m sorry I scared you out of so many opportunities. But I’m so proud that you have done so many things despite your fear. Courage is courage and whether it is jumping out of a plane, or getting on a stage in front of strangers and speaking. You are one brave soul. You are also so strong. And I am so sorry for calling you weak. You can do much more than I thought and you have proved me wrong countless number of times.

I feel like we don’t really know each other. I used to get mad because you’d avoid me. Drown me out, run from me and I didn’t understand why. And I know now. I was so cruel and unforgiving. And today, I say I am sorry. It won’t fix the hurt from the past, but maybe it’ll mean less pain in the future. And yes, I’ll stop criticizing your driving. You are doing just fine, on the road and in this life. You have come so far and I can’t wait to see where this all takes you. I look forward to this new positive friendship. I bet it will change our lives.

 

 

 

With love,

Marlie

Real Talk: Junk food

I haven’t met anyone who anyone who enjoys their post Taco Bell experience. Yes, I’m referring to those long nights on the toilet after a trip to good ole taco bell. It destroys me every time, but I go anyways because Taco bell is so delicious. And it’s cheap, also they are everywhere. Each time I walk into Taco bell, my mind is like “Marlie. This never ends well. why are you doing this?” But, those loaded potato grillers are so good, and their chalupas man. They hit that spot. And then afterwards, I kick myself and am filled with regret and gas. I promise myself I’ll never do it again and then a week or so passes, the memory of the bathroom agony fades and all I can remember is the sweet taste of potatoes, cheese, sour cream all wrapped up in a warm tortilla. I’ve talked with people about this before and many have shared similar experiences. And it’s not just Taco bell, it’s that greasy burger or the foods at the State Fair. It’s junk food. Junk is in the name for a reason. I crave Junk food.  Just like my flesh craves sin:

.The Sin Cycle (in parenthesis, the taco bell cycle) 
1.There’s the temptation to sin, (oh look a taco bell commercial!) 
2.a little argument goes on in our head, (taco bell never ends well…but it’s so delicious…hmmm)
3.we give in to sin, (TACO BELL NOM NOM NOM)
4. instant gratification follows, (mmm so good) 
5. Consequence: (crap…literally)
6.shame and guilt. (gah, why did i do that?)
7.Finally, the promise that we’ll never do it again. 
8. Repeat steps 1-7.  

Craving: I heard that one of the keys to losing weight and keeping it off is eliminating the craving for junk food by replacing the junk with good stuff. Water instead of soda, an apple instead of fries. My body feels different after eating a healthy meal (fruits, veggies, protein.) I have energy that I can spend on a light jog or playing basketball. Instead of camping in a bathroom all night. I watched a YouTuber talk about how to fight temptation. It’s not about will power, It’s about dining at the table with Jesus instead of eating dirt. Leaving the dirt, and replacing it with God. Returning to sin was compared to a dog returning to his own vomit. Gross. That’s what steps 1-7 is. We settle for our own vomit when God has a buffet for us. Spending time in  His Word, His presence. Listening to A  worship song.  Going on a A walk in nature. Prayer. All very good things to do instead of spending hours upon hours soaking up ‘the world’ (via tv, radio, music, movies.) 

Will power: When I was actively dieting at college (super hard when you’re eating at the caf everyday) my mom texted me something at lunch I’ll never forget. “Marlie, take it one meal at time. Today at lunch, choose to eat better things. Then at dinner, do the same. One meal at a time.” It was easy to get overwhelmed with having to eat healthy ALL THE TIME. That’s why I gave up so many times. I’d mess up once and I’d quit. I find myself in the same struggle with sin. I had to be perfect. I had a check-list in my head of my ‘good deeds’ and ‘Bad deeds.’  At night, i’d tally up the good checks and the bad checks and determined whether or not this whole “spiritual walk” thing was worth it based on if I had screwed up too much that day. Don’t give up. It is difficult.  It’s quite literally a daily struggle us humans have with sin. Pride, lust, idolizing, laziness, the temptation is all around us. Just like those taco bell posters for their new breakfast menu. Tempting us to choose them today. to worship them today.  Turn away from them. The satisfaction they provide is only momentary, but the satisfaction Christ provides is eternal. turn away from sin, but do not stop there. You must turn to Christ. Gaze at the Cross, feel his scars, look in his eyes and you’ll find love, grace, satisfaction. And day by day, choice by choice, you choose to live spiritually healthy instead of indulging in the junk of the world. 

Details, details.

“Matt has swimmer’s ear,” my sponsor told me. 

Those weren’t the words I wanted to hear upon entering the living room. Every Thursday and Saturday, our team would go to hotel pools and lead Kid’s clubs (Think:Vacation bible school.) Orlando has hundreds probably even thousands of resorts and of all the places Matt and I were assigned for the Summer, there just happened to be two boys (9,13) at the hotel pool one morning and the youngest brother accepted Christ after we told them the David and Goliath story and made salvation bracelets. The boys had stayed at the hotel for two weeks with their mom. So after the youngest accepted Christ, we really got to pour into him and his brother. This was our last Kid’s club with them because they were leaving the next day. So to hear that Matt, my partner, had swimmer’s ear was devastating. 

“I don’t see why I should even go today. I can’t even get in the water,” Matt expressed on the car ride over to the hotel. I was frustrated too. This was our last time to hang out with these brothers and we had become pretty good friends with them. The boys were waiting for us in the lobby that morning. The youngest was in bathing suit and flip flops, the oldest one was not. 

“You not swimming, dude?” Matt asked him. 
“Nah, I got swimmer’s ear…what about you?”
Matt and I both exchanged glances. 
“I got swimmer’s ear too, dude.” A high-five ensued and we all headed out to the pool. Usually, on Saturdays the pool was full of children, but this morning it was empty. 

For two hours, Matt and Andrew sat at the table by the pool and talked about christian rap music and other things. Meanwhile, Kyle and I took turns diving for the sinking pool rings. At the end of the morning, Kyle ran up to me and had this toy in his hand. He handed it to me and said “I want to give you this, so you’ll always remember me.”  And I still have that toy, it sits in my desk at college. I remember Kyle. And I also remember that God is in the details. And that God is in the frustrations. What the world means for evil, even just swimmer’s ear, God works it out for good. 

 

I met Jesus at a job interview

I was alone in the room which sported: white walls except for the occasional motivational poster and a white board with various indiscernible scribbles in red marker. The employees words: “The General manager will be with you soon,” bounced around the walls in my head. My fingers tip-tapped the table twice the pace of my heart. I turned my phone off so I had no idea how long I waited for my interview to begin, but it was an agonizing wait. This job interview literally combined all of my fears into one situation:

a) the unknown:  Unknown questions asked by a stranger.
b)possible rejection.
c) a test : No really, upon arrival, the employee handed me a brochure and said: “Study this information. You’ll need to know it for the interview.” 

I went over the four main points of the brochure in my head over again and once I knew I had it. I decided a quick prayer might be of good use. “God, I really need you. I’m scared. I don’t want to blow it. I’m scared because I’m alone.” This was my first job interview that was one-on-one. There was an empty chair next to me and I don’t know if it was my idea or God’s, but I pictured Jesus sitting there next to me. Just like in those cheesy cartoons that are floating around Facebook. But, I imagined Jesus incarnate right next to me and him pointing to me and saying to the imaginary manager: This girl is rad, you should hire her. Not only does Jesus have cool lingo, but  He really is there. God is always with us. And as a visual learner, picturing Jesus there (like He really is) actually calmed me down immensely. Just in time too because the manager walked in. We exchanged handshakes and “nice to meet you’s.”

Upon sitting down, he said: “I’m sorry the employee left you here all alone.”

“That’s okay!” I said with a smile and I thought to myself:

 I wasn’t alone. 

 

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Real Talk: Housewarming Party

A couple days ago, a few unexpected visitors stopped by my blog. And by a few I mean: 50,000. I can’t really explain the feeling except by comparing it to a party. You invited a few friends over to eat and watch or movie or something. You don’t clean up too much because it’s a few of your friends and they understand your mess. There is a knock at the door and you open it, to your shock those friends had brought 49,995 people from around the US and the world with them. Physics and you know spatial issues aside, everyone comes in. You don’t have time to run around and clean (and if you do, it’s little things. put a dish in the dishwasher, throw clothes in the closet) and once everyone settles, you start showing them around the house. A house can be a very personal intimate expression of oneself (that was a stretch) and likewise my blog has been a personal part of me since September. Writing is my gift and I use and it and it’s precious to me. To have 50,000 people put eyes on something I wrote, that was on a very personal topic was terrifying to say the least. (BUT ALSO AMAZING AND EXCITING AND BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS) But also very scary.  I had moments where I was like: Oh crap. Is what I said Biblical? I know my grammar is not right. I sound whiny and  bitter. What if they hate it? They’re going to hate it. They’re going to trash the place.

But wow, quite the opposite happened. They pointed out things I haven’t even realized, they told their stories, they encouraged me and they said they had learned something from it. I keep saying “they”, by they  I mean you guys, of course. Ya’ll are real people with stories with hurt and joy and pain and laughter. And so am I. This life is hard and it is even harder when you try to do it alone. The greatest moments in relationships with people is when one opens up about something and the other person responds: “You too? I thought I was the only one!” A sign of true flattery, I feel, is when you ride in the car with me and I don’t apologize for the mess. It means, I love you and trust you enough to look past the mess and love me anyway. It’s also a sign of my laziness. But that’s the aside the point. If I had known beforehand that 50,000 people were going to read the next blog post,I would still be working on  the first paragraph. Checking each word, each phrase. It’s like when you expect company, you bring out brooms, dusters, mops, deep cleaning hoses.  All to impress people, really. To show everyone how together and how clean we are. “Oh man, this person has no cobwebs in their house. They really have it together! I am so impressed.” Is anyone really thinking that? I get it’s also a sign of respect, cleaning up is like saying “I care about you enough to clean up.” But do you care about them or their opinion of you more? So these 50,000 people rush in my blog and they are okay with the mess and actually relate to it. “Yeah I’ve been there.” Or, “Man I am there. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been wanting to say something like this for song long.” It was so comforting to know that I was not alone, as I’m sure it was comforting for you guys as well.

So in spirit of getting real, being authentic, I’ll be having posts titled: “Real Talk: (subject title).”
And my regular devotionals will just have a title.

So, welcome to my blog. Let me be the first to say: I’m a mess, my writing is not perfect, I don’t have all the answers. I struggle. I have doubts. I’ve been angry at God. You guys are already in here. So, grab a drink,  get comfortable, but most importantly let’s get real.

See you soon.