Weddings&Funerals

wedding

About a month ago I attended a wedding.  Two of my good friends were getting married. While picking out what to wear, I had unknowingly put together an outfit that was all black. “Marlie, you’re not going to a funeral,” I laughed. No, this was a time to celebrate. I found a grey sweater instead of a black one and headed out the door. That became a common theme throughout the day, you see, I’ve been to 7 funerals. I’ve done it:  Wear black, drive to the church, grab  tissues, stay strong, but end up crying in the bathroom, stand for the family, sit down, stare at the casket as the pastor says words you’re not listening to because  you know they can’t take the pain away, heart aching, stomach churning, get in your car and drive back home. It was such a relief to be going to a new church, in nice clothes and it not be for a funeral. On the drive over there, I was full of excitement, I entered the church and heard laughter instead of sobs, and  there were  smiles instead of solemn faces.

Instead of a casket, there was a beautiful couple standing on stage to stare at. Did I cry at the wedding? Yup, I sure did. Because they played the song from Beauty and the Beast during the wedding and that was not even fair. You can’t play  a beautiful song at beautiful events and expect me to keep my composure. All this to say, I’m thankful for the truth in Ecclesiastes. That there is a time for everything. A time for wedding and a time for funerals. A time for laughter, a time for mourning. A reason for every season under the sun.

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The Prodigal Cat

A few weeks ago, my sweet indoor kitty Stinkle ran away. I don’t know how, I don’t know when it happened, all I knew was that Stinkle was gone. I think she had gotten outside Monday night in the middle of a storm. It was really unlike her to bolt out the door and run down the street. The few times she’d been outside, she would immediately turn around and meow to get back in. The storm must have really spooked her.

With cats, it takes awhile to realize the cat is missing  because  cats love to hide indoors so I spent Tuesday looking inside the house for her. I looked in all of her favorite hiding spaces, I shook the dry cat food around the house (her favorite sound), I ran the automatic can opener (her other favorite sound). Nothing.   A strange mix of despair and panic crept over me as I was running out ideas and places to look in the house. Mom came home that night and acted as a second pair of eyes and confirmed that Stinkle was definitely not inside. It was Wednesday. Stinkle was outside and that’s all I knew.

I spent that morning and  afternoon walking up and down the streets calling her name, looking in bushes, talking to neighbors and  texting a lot of people to pray.  As I walked the streets over and over again, that same wave of panic and despair fell over me. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, but I also wanted to ring every doorbell on the street and ask if they had seen Stinkle. As I looked for Stinkle, I knew there were three possibilities.
1) Stinkle was dead.
2) Stinkle was outside hiding somewhere.
3) Stinkle was inside someone’s home.

If she was dead, I prayed that I wouldn’t be the one to find her. If she was outside, I prayed that she would hear my voice and come. I didn’t even want to consider option 3. To think that someone would see my cat, let her into their home and keep her forever made me sick. She was mine. I adopted her, I named her, I raised her since she was a kitten, I loved her.

Thursday through Saturday I was out of town and couldn’t look for my cat. Luckily, I was kept pretty busy. Still no word of anyone finding her. We had put out fliers, and posted on every social media site possible. Sunday came and I was overwhelmed. A whole week without kitty snuggles, her purring in my ear or sitting on my feet as I read. Was this my new reality? If it was, I didn’t like it. I spent a lot of time that day begging God to bring Stinkle home. The shock/denial of her being gone was fading, and the anger had definitely set in. Luckily, I had church so I could pray forgiveness for the things I said to God in my car. (mostly kidding…but not really). That night I met with my community group and I talked about my cat, saying everything I said here. I choked back tears and we all prayed that Stinkle would come home.

After group, I started talking to someone and after our conversation I checked my phone. It was a text from my mom.

“She’s home!!!” And there was a picture of my cat eating food in the kitchen.

A few members of my community group were standing close by and I managed to squeak out one of their names and I said “SHE’S HOMEEEE. STINKLE CAME HOME.” and then instant bawling. Just lots of sobs of joy, and just an overwhelming feeling of relief.  My community surrounded me as I cried.  My cat was found a few houses down in someone’s backyard. They got in contact with my mom and the rescue mission ensued all while I was at church. After the longest drive home ever, I burst through the door and held my cat in my arms. She had dried up mud on her tummy and so I got a washcloth and scrubbed the mud off.

I really wrestle  with apathy. Specifically, apathy towards God. I am apathetic because I falsely believe that  God is apathetic towards me. I think I love the Prodigal son story because the Father is anything BUT apathetic as He sprints towards his son who has come home. In a  weird kind of way, I got to live the Prodigal son story through the eyes of the father this week. And as I experienced what it was like to lose my cat and  not know if she was dead, alive or lost forever, I experienced a small bit of what God must go through all the time. Here’s some things I learned.

God aches for you:  Whenever I thought about Stinkle (which was a lot that week she was missing) my heart literally hurt. I wanted her home so badly . How much more does God ache for those who are lost? God aches for you. When you find rest, comfort, your identity in anything other than Christ, it’s like you’re Stinkle living in someone else’s home. I thought about my life and how I’ve made gods out of myself, people, being liked, control and comfort. God is aching for me to return home to my First Love, and He is aching fro you to do the same.

God pursuits you: I spent several hours a day looking for Stinkle. I walked until I was too tired and needed to rest. When it wasn’t a physical battle, it was mental one.  I let despair win sometimes and I would stop looking.  God is pursuing you. He does not need rest and He will not give up. God became man and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He left all of Heaven’s glory, praise and perfection, for this measly place where there’s headaches, sunburns, blisters, rejection, fatigue, hunger and heartbreak. Nothing stopped Jesus from making away for you to be reconciled to God. Not even death on a cross. Not even death itself. What an amazing God.

God celebrates when you are found: If anything changed my view of God, it was all the emotion I felt when i got that text from my mom. I remember thinking “Gosh, if I feel this much joy and relief about a cat, how much more joy does God feel when sinners become saved?” There’s a party in Heaven every time someone accepts Christ, and for the longest time I thought that was weird and corny. But now,  man, I believe it and can’t wait to join in on that party. But until then, I want to give my life to make sure everyone knows that they are invited to this party  and that the creator of the Universe loves them way more than I love my cat (which is a lot guys)

 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:20-24

In Memory of Katie

Monday night, I got news that my friend Katie had passed away on Sunday. Katie and I were close friends through junior high and high school. We met once or twice to catch up after highschool and college, but it had been a year or so since we last talked. Below, I’m just going to share a lot of memories and stories. Maybe in another post I’ll write about my feelings but right now it’s just time to remember Katie and the impact she had on my life.

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Every 4 years, my highschool band goes on an out-of-state trip. Lucky for us, this trip landed on our senior year. We went to Disneyland and Universal Studios in California. I remember Katie and I went through the House of Horrors together, and one of the funniest moments was when we both  were scared by the employee at the bottom of the stairs who was just standing there to warn us about the steps. This was in 2011 and Facebook Groups were a big deal, and so Katie and I decided to create a facebook group and the title was so oddly specific like: “I yelled at the employee at the bottom of the stairs at HOH in Universal Studios.” I think we were the only members of the group.

One day she invited me to a Jonas Brother concert and i was hesitant, but it was free and Katie was my friend. So I decided to go. I was not a fan of the Jonas brothers walking into the concert venue. The Jonas brothers were more than my little teenage girl heart could take. When the concert was over,  I’m pretty sure I wanted to marry all of them.  A two hour concert that night wasn’t enough JB for us, we jammed to their music on the car ride home. And I spent that night listening to their songs on Youtube.  And we spent the next few weeks/months talking about them. Katie’s passion for bands, movies, music, art was infectious. She’s the sole reason why I went through a Jonas Brother phase.

Speaking of phases, with adolescence comes phases of crippling self-doubt and loneliness. That was a tad bit dramatic, but its true. I remember having moments, days, weeks even when I just felt like no one liked me, that I didn’t have friends, or that I didn’t belong anywhere. On multiple occasions, I remember Katie being the person who brought me out of those dark phases, just by smiling and saying hello. On band trips, there were a lot of times where everyone was just standing around waiting or we would be going to a mall to eat, and everyone would group off with their friends. I knew I could always count on Katie to not run off and leave me. Or to include me in a circle of friends that she was talking to. i never felt judged by katie, I always had this sense of acceptance when I was around her. That I could be whoever I wanted and she’d still love me. Her faithfulness was such a light in my life.

It’s hard to think of a time in highschool where she wasn’t there. Band, band trips to Corpus, band trips to San Antonio for State and BOA, Anti-homecoming, Prom, the Snowpocalypse Texas had a few years ago when we went ‘sledding’ and made cookies afterwards, the trip to sixflags, your harry potter themed birthday party, bowling, my 18th birthday party, New Year’s eve where we played Apples to Apples for 3 hours on the floor by the front door. I’ve never lost someone who I’ve shared so many memories with.

We got together last year for frozen yogurt at the same shopping center where we took our group prom photos. I remember thinking about how everything had changed so much since Highschool. We’d gone to different colleges, met new friends, studied different things, yet, there we were siting on that bench eating Fro-yo like nothing had changed at all. It was not awkward, or forced, it was just authentic friendship. Laughing, talking, venting, dreaming. That’s how I knew i had a true friend. For that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you for your faithfulness, for sharing what you were passionate about with me, for always being down to do anything, for being an open ear, and a great source of joy in my life. I miss you already. but, i know I’ll see you again. 12250083_10153251410263317_5605255206383773078_n