Make a face. It’ll be okay.

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I am what they call a “worry-wart.”  I worry about everything….the weather, classes, my friends, my family, the future.  Everything.
Sometimes I get way overstressed.  Noone is meant to worry about everything that could go wrong. 
When I let my worry stress me out, I have to simply take a minute, look in the mirror, and make a silly face at myself. 
I just make a silly face and find the humor in all of my pointless worry.  Can worry change anything?  No.  There is no point in it.
Then, I find the peace with knowing whatever is causing my worry and stress is not bigger than the God I serve.
I know that things will work out for my good.  (Romans 8:28) 
I just get to sit back, make a face, and rest in the peace of knowing it will be okay (whatever it may be).

So, next time you feel yourself stressed or worrying too much, simply take a minute to make a funny face at yourself.
If you’re feeling generous make a face at a stranger or loved one who has a stressful or worrisome demeanor.  It’ll make it better.  Trust me.  🙂

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What Are You Yelling?

Yell “Give me Jesus!”

As I was reading this morning in Luke the same story I have heard since I was a wee little girl, the part where Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin for judging jumped out at me.

I’ve heard time and time before this same story (which I believe is 100% true) about the accusations against my Savior Jesus Christ and how Pilate found nothing to charge Him with.  I heard the whole part about Pilate giving the people a choice of releasing Jesus (who had done nothing wrong — ever) or Barabbas (a rebel and a murderer) several times as well.  It always ends the same way….the people chose Barabbas.

When we do not know the goodness of our Savior, we will choose anything over Him.  Even a murderer.  When the goodness of Christ is not believed on and felt within the depths of our souls, we will choose things and people harmful to us over salvation.

Why?

I have thought about this, and I’m just not sure.  What I have come up with is this:  we are afraid of what we have no standard to compare to.  As humans, we want to know everything and control everything.  It’s just how we are.  The people back in the day of Jesus, and people in the present-day, often reject and crucify the Son of God because they do not have anything to compare His salvation to.  Truly, it is like nothing else.  He is like noone else.  Believing and experiencing the salvation of Jesus Christ through the grace of God is giving up control to someone much, much mightier than you are.  I, for one, actually love this.

I still like to have control in life…know my work hours, plan out events, fill my planner every month of routines, schedules, and events.  I like to be in control, but I know ultimately all control over my life is in the hands of God.  After all, He is the one who saved my life.  And I love Him.  I’ve never seen Him face-to-face or anything, but I love Him.  Eternity is going to be beyond any grand event I can conjure up in this feeble mind of mine.

I write all of that to say this:  what are you releasing into your life instead of Jesus?  What, or who, have you chose over your Savior?  For me, before I knew God I believe I had chosen two things:  fear and myself.  I let myself believe that I didn’t need God because I was a “good” kid and I knew all about Him…wasn’t that enough?   I let myself be afraid to admit that I needed and wanted Jesus because that would mean I was wrong, a bad person — right?   No.  The fear was misplaced and my view of my “goodness” was skewed.  We are never ‘good enough’ on our own.  We need the perfection of Jesus to put goodness into us.  But it does no good to just read about it…you have to experience it.

Those people in Jesus’ day knew all about Him.  They knew the miracles He had been performing.  They knew His teachings.  They saw His healing in action.  But, those who hadn’t believed in His goodness and experienced it themselves were the ones yelling “Give us Barabbas!  Give us the murderer!”

I could tell you all day about the goodness of my Savior — Jesus Christ.  I could tell you all day about what He means to me (i.e. everything).  I could tell you all day, but it means nothing if you don’t experience Him.

So, experience Him.  Pray.  Believe.  Invite Him.  Have faith.  When you do all of those things, you’ll be yelling “Give me Jesus!   Give me salvation!”  You will fall in love with not just His goodness, but with all of Him.  Don’t worry though, it’s a beautiful kind of love, because He already loves you (even if you’ve been yelling for Barabbas).  Love Him back.

My Little Mason Monster

My Little Mason Monster

He may only be 3 years and 11 months old, but this little man is one of the biggest blessings in my life.
His smiles and laughs are contagious.
He colors the world in his paintbrush of curiosity.
Fear has no hold on him, and he doesn’t think it should for anyone else.
He may be little, but he’s taught me a lot already.
I never knew I loved kids until he came around.
He is the best shopping partner and the funniest park buddy.
I love watching him experience new things like his first college football game and tailgating with me and a slew of other college kids, or his first time at Build-a-Bear.
He is going to be the hardest part about moving away after graduation.  I can’t even allow myself to accept that I will be away for so many future “firsts” of his….first day of Kindergarden, first t-ball game, first loose tooth, first time to ride a bike all by himself, etc.
But no matter where I am, I’ll always be wrapped around his little finger.
When talking about me, he refers to me as “my Mary.”   Nothing could be more true.
Every single time he runs up to me with those little arms wide open, I scoop him up, hug him tight, and thank God for such a precious little nephew.

Traditions: consistently lived memories

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Holidays are reasons to get all of the family together for food and visiting with one another.  Or, at least that is how my family sees it.  For Thanksgiving this year we had over 15 people at our house (and truth be told, it was a lot less than last year).  My mother is a wonderful cook and hostess.  She always makes sure every single person has been served their food before she will eat, often times people are having dessert before she sits down for a salad.  She truly has hosting down to an art.  Perhaps one of my favorite things about holidays are our traditions.  No, we don’t have extravagant traditions like a vacation at this spot or that one.  Instead, we have small traditions that each of us expect and look forward to every year.  Our Thanksgiving tradition for years now has to do with helping my Mom cook all of the food.  She and her “helpers”  (which are my two sisters and myself) start cooking around midnight and cook delicious dishes and bake yummy treats right up until the time of the family Thanksgiving feast — which this year was at 2pm.  The tradition is what we wear.  There are two turkey aprons, complete with cotton stuff legs that hang down to my ankles.  Traditionally, either both helpers or one helper and my Mom wear them while cooking.  We have all come to love these turkey aprons, not because they are cute or because it’s really fun to make the legs “kick” people, but because of what it symbolizes.  Those aprons hold in a lot of memories.  A lot of fond memories.  Those aprons represent a humbling sense of servantry in that we (especially my Mom, I sneak off for a nap in the wee hours of the morning) sacrifice sleep and time in order to make sure our family is fed, happy, and taken care of.  Those aprons represent fun between a mother and her daughters, between a younger sister and her two older sisters.  Those aprons represent moments preserved forever in tradition that can be relived over and over by the swing of cotton stuffed turkey legs.
I have a weakness for traditions.  I love consistency.  I love knowing that there is always that one thing unique to me and my family to look forward to on holidays.  I love the bond that forms between being a part of a long-standing tradition.  I love getting to be inclusive and invite people in our traditions.   I love my weakness for traditions.

Mom: my best friend

Best friends, mother and daughter.

Family is the most precious gift any of us are given.  I cannot stress that enough.  Family is the one group of people you know you never have to impress because they love you simply for who you are, simply because you are YOU.  Family is that one support system you never have to work for, but you just know you will always have.  Family is a constant blessing in my life, especially as I get older and learn to appreciate how truly wonderful each family member is.

My mother is my best friend.  She has never ceased to support me, discipline me, care for me, or love me.  Even through all my bad days (and let’s face it, I’ve had some really bad days) she has loved me when I’ve been unloveable.  She has forgiven me when I’ve wronged her, and never keeps a tally of those wrongs.  She invests in my life daily.  We never lie to one another.  I know that may seem crazy to not lie to your mother, but I just don’t.  She knows me better than anyone else and I know she’ll always love me — why should I lie?  We send snail mail cards and letters back and forth to one another when I’m away at college.  She gets up between 4-5am every morning in order to be at the kitchen table with her cup of coffee, her Bible, her devotional, and her journal for a little while before the workday begins.  She loves to help those in need.  She loves God with a passion that rubs off on those around her.  I only hope that one day if I have children, I can be that same light leading them to God as she has been to me.  Mom is a fantastic woman, so naturally I am proud to call her my best friend and blessed to call her my mother.

I have so many lessons that my Mom has taught me over the years, and I cannot wait for the future ones.  As for now, I will end with one very simple and true lesson:   Always, without hesitation, know that you have it good.  There are plenty of others worse off than you are, so rejoice in your bad days as well as your good ones.  Never pity yourself, because someone else looks at you with envy.  Always thank God for who you are, what you have, and whatever you are going through.  You are blessed, even when the blessings seem to be wearing camouflage.   Just keep your eyes open to them and in the meanwhile, be thankful without hesitation.

Joy: the beauty of pain

Recognize the beauty in everything.

I am learning more and more the beauty in feeling pain.  No, I am not a sadist or anything like that.  I am simply talking about the pain of feeling like someone took your heart and beat it like a pinata.  I used to ask God “why?” over and over again.  I couldn’t understand why he would let His child go through such pain when I know He could prevent it if He wanted.  I have realized that things are working in accordance to His perfect, beautiful plan and I am just a part of it.  Not only am I part, but I am blessed to be so.  I am blessed to feel the pain of heartbreak.  I am blessed to feel that sinking feeling you get when someone tells you that you aren’t good enough or simply enough.

I am blessed.

Why?  Because in every blow to my heart that knocks me to my knees, I am already in the perfect position to pray.  Because every piercing word or mocking insult are just offenses I toss at the feet of my Creator.  Because with every person telling me “you’re not good enough”, I have a Savior who says, “Listen to Me: you are worth dying for.”  Because when I am knocked down, unable to pull myself up — that is when God scoops me up not just to my feet but in His arms.  That’s just a beautiful feeling to be high on God’s love.

God loves me enough to scoop me up.  God loves me enough to protect me with His power and might.  God loves me enough to let me feel heartbreak so that I can learn, then experience the joy of resting securely in Him.

I don’t go around asking God to allow others to break me, but I try not to question Him when it happens.  Only a God of love can turn a beaten down heart into a place of joy and praise.  Only Yahweh can do that.

So even in the days when people (especially people who I care about most) intentionally hurt me, I can only find joy that I am a child of God who loves me, defends me, and who wants the best for His children.  When other people try to tell me who and what I am, I simply remember:   I am a sinner who has been saved by a gracious, loving God.  I am a child of God.  I am a co-heir with Christ.  I am a part of a greater purpose, a bigger plan.