London (part 1): Getting there.

I walked past the flyer every day for 3.5 years. I got e-mails about it. I had several friends, even roommates go. But to each of them and to all of it,  I stuck my nose up and said, “Study abroad in London? No thank you.” There were a number of reasons why I didn’t think I wanted to go. First being fear. I was afraid to leave such a comfortable place,  a place where I felt loved and had tons of friends. I was afraid of living in another country because all I’d known my whole life was life in America. I put myself in a box. I saw pictures of the people that went to London and I always thought to myself: “They’re so adventurous. I’m not like that. I’m not like them. I could never do that.”

I was sitting at a computer one day, Spring of 2014,  looking at my degree audit and looking at the flyer for the London Study abroad program that I had nervously picked up. I walked into my professor’s office and uttered the words: “I think I want to go to London next year.” You know how you say something and it feels it wasn’t you who said it, like it was some strange new person you never met? Well, that was my first introduction to the new Marlie. I  got to know her more in London. She spoke up that day. She talked her parents into considering London. She wrote, edited and defended her thesis early so that she could be good to go to London in the Spring of 2015. The other Marlie spent hours googling things like “10 reasons to study abroad” or “what are the best and worst things about london?” She also spent a great deal of time talking with friends who had gone to London, asking them silly questions. Then, Marlie, went to her professor’s office and asked one more question: Is it worth it? Giving up my last semester on campus to go to London? Will I regret it?
To which she responded “I’ve never had a student regret it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

That’s the day that new Marlie became me.

A year later, 3 months in London behind me. I’ve never been more thankful for that day I picked up that flyer I walked past so many times that said “Study abroad in London: Spring 2015.

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.