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.

Advertisements

Prodigal Cat (again)

A few weeks ago, my fat indoor cat Stinkle disappeared again. I felt the familiar wave of panic, desperation, grief and anger that came the first time she was gone. Two very long, very sad, very lonely days passed. I searched the backyard, I  called her silly name on the streets (and only got a few weird glances) and put her favorite blanket and cat treats on the porch.

 At the end of the second day I was talking to my dad on the phone about Stinkle, and I hear thunder, lightening and then just buckets of rain poured down. Then, I hear a faint “Mrawwwrrr.” I walked to the kitchen to the back door and heard “mararrrwwwoww, meoww” it was louder this time. There she was. Stinkle. she’d been in the backyard the whole time. I said “Dad she’s here, she’s home!!” I threw that door open and she came running in. she shook the water off, and I ran and grabbed a towel and began to dry her off. and I cried sitting on the floor holding her saying “You’re home, I can’t believe it.  you’re home.” and then i said “I called you, why didn’t you come??I called you, I called you. I called you.” 

I held that fat wet kitty in my arms and loved her no less than I did two days before. The storm brought her home. And my friends, the storms bring us home to our loving Father, does it not? sometimes we get super comfortable in life, we begin to stray spend a few days out on our own, and then a huge storm comes out of nowhere and we’re running home. I sometimes worry that God’s locked the door and thrown the key away. That he stopped calling me long ago. “You wander too much, you don’t love me enough, ya blew it.” But, when I saw my cat at that door there was no way in a million years that I’d just lock the door and leave her out there alone. I don’t care how many times she runs out the door and leaves me, if she comes home I am opening that door and letting her in. 

how much more is God going to do the same for us? he’s not going to give up on you, if you’re in a storm turn around and run Home don’t go through it without Him. Psalm 91:4 says “Under his wings, you will find refuge.”

From my Journal

As a writer, a blank page shouldn’t scare me, it should excite me.
But when it comes to how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking, I’m always full of crushing self-doubt.
As I write my feelings down, a voice in my head offers her sighs and critique. “Oh you feel that way? Wow that’s wrong.” Or, “That’s bothering you, Please. talk about first world problems.”
A blank page could mean freedom but it often feels like a stage and I’m the lead but no one gave me the script for this performance.
There’s pressure to say the right things, to always be progressing forward.  “Marlie, careful not to take two steps back when you’ve already taken a few forward.” I tell myself. But really, the beauty of a blank page is that it is an invitation to be human.
You see a child scribbling on a page and he calls it a robot ninja shark.
A middle school girl blushes as she writes, “I think I love him,”in her diary and in her eyes it’s real as love has ever been.
A blank page haunts the college student who forgot about that term paper that was due the next day, it’s 3am and he’s only written his name and the heading.
A blank page could be a will for a dying man or a grocery list for a family of 4, a resume for a college graduate or the vows for a newlywed couple.
Even now, I sat down with this blank page with the intention of writing about my feelings and I wonder if I just spent the last 30 minutes cleverly averting that topic. so  THIS blank page instead is filled with words about pages, and before I get myself even more confused, I’ll move on to this next page and try all over again.
“My name is Marlie, and this is how I’m feeling and that’s okay because I’m a human being.”

 

 

 

An Interview with Coby from Dude Perfect

­

 We live in an interesting world; fame doesn’t just belong to the people in Hollywood anymore. Anyone can become a viral sensation thanks to social media websites like Youtube and Facebook.  Watch any vlogger on Youtube and you’ll see a regular person with millions of views, comments and followers. We might scoff and think “Wow what a silly thing. Who cares about this guy just talking to a camera?” But, deep down, maybe there’s an aching in our heart to be seen, to be approved of and to be followed just like those guys on Youtube. For me, I wrestle with this “viral” thought a lot, especially as a blogger. I go through this thought process every time I  post something, I think perhaps this next blog post will go viral and THEN my writing career will take off, or more recently “surely once a few people read my book, it’ll get the recognition it deserves and spread all over the country.” I disguise these thoughts with “Oh, it’s all for God’s glory!” and “The more people who know Him the better.”  And maybe there’s some truth there, but I know deep down, there’s a part in me that really just wants the spotlight, the approval, the comments, the likes, the empty praise. Admitting all of this is hard. I feel gross. But, I know it’s human nature and I am not alone.  These are all big heart issues I’ve been dealing with and wrestling with for years now.  And I know I got to deal with them so I decided to ask my friend Coby Cotton (Member of Dude Perfect) some questions about managing internet fame as a Christian and all the craziness that comes with it.  

 Sidenote:  if you don’t know who Dude Perfect is, check out their channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/corycotton/featured 

I understand that DudePefect started out with just you guys in a backyard, challenging each other to a variety of trick shots. When the first video was posted and it went viral, what emotions/thoughts were you experiencing in those first few days, weeks? How has that changed to how you feel today?

As juniors at Texas A&M, we posted our first video in 2009. For some reason I still don’t fully understand, it caught the attention of Good Morning America and they called wanting to air it the following morning! I remember feeling both a genuine excitement and a sense of gratitude that God would allow what we created to be highlighted that way. The levels of recognition we’ve received for our videos since that day have risen and fallen, but I’m still equally grateful that God has chosen to use us, a simple group of friends making fun videos, in His way.

 

You’ve gotten to meet and hang out with a lot of famous people, you’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things, you have a TV Show, a freaking cool new warehouse.  By the world’s standard, you’ve “made it.” You’ve got the fame, the fun, a dream job. Sometimes I falsely believe that I need stuff, experiences and people to make my life better. If I only could meet this person, go on this trip, have this awesome job, then I’d be happy. Any words of wisdom for me and the people out there who can relate to that?

Dude Perfect has afforded us some incredible opportunities that, earlier in my life, I could have only dreamt of. I never want to downplay the exciting pieces of this journey, but at the same time, each of these experiences come and go and their luster fades. It’s easy for me (and I think for all of us) to live for the next thing: the next tv show, the next concert, the next weekend, the next promotion, the next vacation. We put all of our hope in those things, and then, once each one comes and goes, we’re left chasing the next. If there’s one thing God has taught me over the last few years it’s this. Be faithful where I’ve placed you. Not where you hope to be one day or in a place you wish you could return to. Be faithful with where I’ve placed you today. Ben Stuart says it this way, “Excel at the revealed things.” We don’t know what God has for us next. I think it’s great to be honest with God and ask Him for what we desire. But in the midst of those honest requests, don’t lose sight of all that He has for you exactly where you are today.

How has your faith played a role in your Dude Perfect Journey?

Over the past year, God has been using a specific verse in my life to bring my focus to Him. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”  I want my heart to be undivided in its devotion for Him. I don’t want to be distracted by this or that and miss out on what He has for me. In the midst of all the craziness of Dude Perfect, I fail in this all the time and allow myself to be pulled a hundred different directions. But my prayer remains the same, “give me an undivided heart” because I know that all that other stuff will let me down. I absolutely can rely on His faithfulness. He has guided me in the past and will continue to do so.

There’s tons of content creators out in the world, bloggers like me, and Youtubers like you guys. As you reached each milestone in your Youtube popularity (1,000 subscribers, 100,000, 1,000,000. Etc), did you feel any better about life? Any advice for content creators who are Christian and are waiting for that next milestone, hoping it will be what they need to feel satisfied?

This one’s easy: No. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble or demotivate someone from seeking that next milestone, but just know that it won’t satisfy you the way you think it will. Think about it. Do you know anyone “at the top” who’s really satisfied with where they’re at in life? The richest and most famous people on the planet are some of the most unsatisfied people on earth. At the age of 30, Tom Brady famously stated in a 60 Minutes interview after having already won 3 Super Bowls and 2 Super Bowl MVPs “There’s gotta be more than this.” The answer that Tom, and all of us, are seeking will never be found in another Super Bowl ring or another raise. God offers us abundant life, both here on earth and forever with Him in Heaven. And contrary to popular belief, good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do. And forgiveness only comes through Jesus. Make your life about Jesus, not the next milestone, and suddenly you’ll be able to rightfully celebrate achieving those goals instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster of reaching them and finding them empty.

What do you do to stay grounded through all the recognition and attention? Some people think it’d be really cool to have that life of being recognized and having people come up to you and be a source of constant affirmation, but really, how is that life? What are the challenges? What do you lose when you’re in the spotlight?

Different people value different things. Some value money, some value power, some value fame or applause. It’s easy to think that with those things comes real happiness. But all of that stuff fades! You’re only as good as your last performance, your last game, your last paycheck. When all of that stuff fades away, you’re only as happy as the quality of the relationships in your life. You first need to make sure that you’ve trusted your life to Jesus, all other relationships are secondary to that one. But beyond that, you’ll never regret spending more time with the people closest to you. I’ve heard it said, “Everyone cheats. You either cheat your work to spend time with your family or you cheat your family to spend time at work.” We all know people who regret giving whole seasons of their lives to their work at the expense of their families and those closest to them. Being in the spotlight (either through entertainment or rising to a certain position in your workplace or through some other means) may seem desirable, but don’t let it cause you to neglect the relationships in your life that truly matter. In the end, all that really matters is loving God and loving people. My prayer for anyone reading this is that they would pray honestly to God, asking Jesus to change them, and then ask Him each day after that how to live in a way that would honor Him and bring them the most joy along the way.

Preschool stories: Spilled Milk and Frozen

I never really understood the whole “No use crying over spilled milk” thing until yesterday. It was the last day of school and the kiddos (3-6 years old) were eating their pizza at lunch. Our youngest girl some how knocked her cup of milk on the floor. Her eyes welled up with tears, she looked at the puddle of milk, then at me, then at the puddle and back at me. Her shoulders began to shake and the shrieks of devastation soon followed. In her eyes, it was the end of the world. That was only the beginning of the tears. During nap time, she woke up and started screaming for her mom. I went over to her began to pat on her on the back, and whisper “it’s okay…shhhhh….it’s okay.” She screamed louder. MOMMY. I WANT MY MOMMMM. I WANT MY MOMMY. MOMMMMM. Sobs. then she screamed even louder. I WANT MY MOMMMMM. MOMMY. I learned a tactic from another teacher when a similar situation was occurring, I tried mirroring the little girl, helping her know i heard her and understood. “I hear you. I hear that you want your mom.” But that did not work and  it became clear she was not going to listen to my words.

The lead teacher and I exchanged glances and kind of shrugged shoulders. She tried a few things as well. Distraction, a glass of water, a book. Nothing worked. The girl had been sick the last few days and this was her first day back in awhile. My lead teacher said “today was a different schedule than usual, and probably hasn’t helped her anxiety from being away from mom.” . It was so easy to put this girl in a box and label it “loud child, defiant, just ignore.” When she said the word anxiety, I instantly thought of myself. When I’m anxious, hearing “calm down, you’re okay.” doesn’t help. Listening to music helps me. We had tried everything to help her, or so I thought, I went to her nap roll and started singing songs from Frozen quietly. Her loud sobs turned into quiet whimpers. Then when I ran out of lyrics from Frozen I started singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little star. Her breathing returned to normal, she was quiet.  she fell back asleep. I took a huge breath of relief.

It’s easy and tempting to group kids into a different category from myself. I am, after all, 17-20 years older than all of them. However, their younger age doesn’t make them any less human than me. As the little girl cried for her mom,  I remembered the time I was in a hotel in the middle of England with no wifi, and no cell service homesick as ever and crying because i wanted to talk to my mom (as a 21 year old!) I put on my favorite music and told myself I’d be home soon enough.  I’m learning that kids are people too: tiny, smelly, loud, fun, annoying, innocent, but people nonetheless.

Debt

Great news!! I got an email today saying  that someone had paid off my student loans! can you believe it? I had over 200 payments to make and now I’m free!! 

Are you sure they paid for all of it? that’s kind of ridiculous. maybe they left some for you to cover. 

Well, come to think of it, I should make sure that they paid for all of it. let me check my account: “You owe $00.00” oh wow well this is great. I was just getting really overwhelmed at the thought of having to make all those payments. 

Why would someone do that? you probably owe that person now. Nothing is ever free.    email them and see what they want from you. 

Maybe you’re right. Let me email them.  to whom it may concern, I noticed you paid off my student loan debt  I was wondering why?? and was wondering if there was anything  I could do to repay you. thanks, a student  

Look they responded! Hello, yes that is true. because I love students and don’t want them to live in debt. you don’t owe me anything. 

That’s so weird. students are so irresponsible going to such expensive colleges. that person is out of their mind to pay for a debt they didn’t owe.  I know what to do. just keep making payments on the loans. that’s the only way to be sure. can’t trust someone you’ve never met  

Are you sure?? I mean my account said it was all paid for,  that guy said it was covered. 

It’s the only realistic option.

Okay, I guess. I’ll pay this thing off on my own. 

—————

Friends, as sinners, we owed a debt.a debt bigger than student loans.   a debt we could never ever pay off. a debt that earned us eternal separation from God. Jesus paid the debt. all of it. All of it. the enemy is going to try and convince you  otherwise. he’s going to fill you with doubt & shame, he’s going to confuse you and convince you that there’s still payments to be made  but rest assured because  the account is closed. He loves you. don’t live this life trying to pay off your own sin. the account is  closed. you can’t add to it or take any of it away. Jesus paid it. rest in His freedom and grace. you are loved.