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Sweet & Salty: On Joy and Bitterness {ft. a Character Study: Naomi}.

I’ve had better days.

A bit before 2017 rolled around, I wrote a post on how 2017 would be better than 2016. 2016 brought on a lot of pain and suffering in the form of a mental illness {see the “Unashamed” tab}. It brought on a lot of heartache and bitterness as I longed to return to Nash and be loved by my Waco friends.

Then 2017 hit and it has been better — God’s provided me with an amazing, entry-level dream job; He gave me a new church home and provided new, grounded community; lately.

He’s opening up opportunities for me to serve locals on Forest Ln — people I work with, climb with, eat with, drive by, pray for — from all walks of life: every age, race and socioeconomic level {many are impoverished}; and to fully seek healing redemption through Him and Him alone.

He’s given me a core group of women my age and life phase that hold me accountable to discovering His Truths and living them out daily. We call ourselves the “Wine, Whales & Word” tribe. I cannot say where or who I would be without them during this crazy, fun season of life.

Sometimes life is sweet. Sometimes it’s salty.

My TVC Dallas Home Group and I are walking through Ruth. Starting yesterday, we plan to read it all the way through {it’s four chapters long} each week, to deliberately meditate on the scripture, to earnestly analyze characters, culture, Creation and Christ in every word and between every line.

Yesterday we walked through Chapter 1. I believe God is forever, always, eternally sweet, but life can sometimes be salty.

Poor, Sweet Naomi — her husband and two sons all died within a short span of time. She was left a widow without children with two women who were destined to become cultural outcasts unless they remarried soon.

Before their deaths, Naomi was named “Pleasant.” She experienced the pleasure of loving and following God, of living a life under His provision and guidance. But after their deaths, she changed her name to Mara, which directly translates to “Bitterness.”

I think bitterness is a valid emotion — when people wrong me, I become bitter. Today was a very bitter day: my pants broke, my stomach hurt, employees related to my work {not people I work with} were being unkind, impatient and downright rude, my back started to physically ache from the anxiety and stress.

Joy is also a valid emotion — as Believers, we are equipped with eternal joy when we accept the Holy Spirit’s dwelling in us. We are called to a joy that never ceases, to thanksgiving in all circumstances {1 Thess. 4:16-18}.

Joy partners with seven other Fruit of the Spirit — please note: it’s only one fruit, this means the Fruit of the Spirit is one entity, embodying seven traits {Gal. 5:22-23}. It does not stand alone, it must work alongside love and peace {they are the three foremost fruit that truly marry each other in union}.

As people, we choose to be sweet or salty. We get to decide.

Today, I was salty. I slightly snapped at my poor work husband Cedric when he playfully teased me as he always does. I decided to be bitter to dwell in anger and regret and contempt. My day was awful to me, so I wanted to be awful in return.

Sweet Penny from Downtown Fort Worth Sheraton chose to be sweet. She reached out in hopes that our firm would give them business. Sweet Penny delivered a Tiff’s Treats package to me: cookies, ice cream, milk.

These three things will always brighten my day. But snail mail in particular really gets me going. It really makes me grateful for the sender’s intentionality and genuine pursuit of my gratitude and love. It takes more work to call a company, ask for a delivery, pay for a package, than it does to text me, “Hope you’re doing well.”

Sweet Penny gave me faith in humanity again. She made me feel “Pleasant,” just like Naomi felt pleasure before her trials. She reminded me there are kind, patient, good people in this world who love to serve, share and give.

It is not up to me to decide if we give Sweet Penny and the Sheraton business, and Sweet Penny knows that. But she chose to send me some love anyway, to brighten my day just because she can, and just because she had the opportunity to.

I want to be Naomi.

I like to choose pleasure, I like to choose joy. I will choose bitterness and contempt on off days, I will experience down moments and unkind souls and humans who test my patience and my ability to love and be loved.

But I want to be Naomi — I want to experience God’s goodness, promise, provision. I want to taste and see — figurative cookies, ice cream, milk — literal joyful moments, people, places — that God is eternally sweet to me and sweet to everyone He loves.

Who are you today? Who do you want to be? And how can you become that person? Stay tuned for a later character study on Ruth, Boaz and Mara. Stay tuned for a post on how to overcome bitterness and bask in eternal joy.

Blessings,

Naomae

For the record, I have zero regrets for using that pun.

*S/o to SJ, MCD, AML, RDLC and a couple of new faces eager to join us soon.

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In the Darkest Moments: On Peace That Transcends.

Sometimes, bad things happen to good people.

Long before I was diagnosed, I saw the pain and hurt of my friends and family. Divorce, deaths, diagnoses tore them apart from the inside-out. It ripped their hearts into pieces and they dove into depression or became addicted to whatever vice to briefly fix their pain.

Sometimes, bad things happen to me.

Sophomore fall was my hardest semester of college. I suffered from betrayal of those who were close to me, I became bitter and distraught. My life felt desolate and isolated.

I wandered in my own desert, longing for Christ’s eternal water to quench my thirst.

My diagnosis last year tore my world apart. I honestly thought I peaked in college and that I would never be able to work, function or love again. I feared that my life would amount to nothing and I’d be stuck in a constant cycle of major depression and minimal joy.

But during even the lowest of lows, I remembered core truths:

  1. God works for my good.
  2. God loves me.
  3. God never changes.

When my world shatters, I get down on my knees.

One of my very favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:7. This is how it goes:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (NLT).

It’s hard for me to pray when I’m hurt. My instinct is to get mad at God, to put on my gloves and smack a bag and scream until I weep. I feel forgotten and used and trapped.

It’s easy for me to pray when I’m whole. I’m madly in love with my God and my friends. I feel joyful and independent and confident.

But God pursues us when we’re both: when we’re black and blue, and when we’re silver and gold. He seeks us out with his never changing grace and mercy. He scoops us up in His strong, brave arms.  He says, “You are allowed to feel, just know that you are always mine.”

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with peace.

I’m in a strange period of life: ending a PR internship, seeking something more. I’m open to new opportunities near and far, similar and unfamiliar.

I’m ready to dive headfirst into my next adventure, because I just know God’s cooking up something good.

I experienced the deepest heartbreak in 2016, but God’s brought so much healing in 2017. In the most painful moments when I doubted, He met me while I was curled up in bed in a puddle of my own tears.

He said, “There, there, dear daughter. Let me stitch you together with my love.”

When you are down and when nothing seems right, when you’re right in the eye of the storm, remember: God works for your good. God loves you. God never changes.

You can be angry, you probably have a right to be so. You can be sad, you probably have a right to be so. But you can also rejoice, because in the hardest moments, God’s already ahead of you, prepped to heal you, ready to make you whole.

Bearing my Cross · Body. · For the Ladies · Life Written. · Love Languages · Love or Something Like It · Post-Grad. · The Word · To My Mister

Great Expectations: On Dating & Plans, Etc.

So my gal pals & I keep facing an issue:

Whenever we meet a great guy, we get super amped. Then when it doesn’t work out, we are absolutely devastated.

It’s happened to me a time or two…or twenty. It’s that “so I met a guy” story I mentioned a couple months back. We start a friendship and shoot dang, I’m over the moon. Then it burns out or he dates another girl or whatever it may be, it simply doesn’t work.

And then I whip out the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and Legally Blonde because if Elle Woods can go to Harvard Law, I can do freaking anything — including getting over said man.

so why does this happen? what’s wrong with us?

The answer is: absolutely nothing.

It’s okay to be excited when you meet a guy with potential. It’s okay to anticipate good things in a newfound friendship. It’s okay to giggle whenever he texts you or even looks you in the eyes.

I don’t think the question is what’s wrong with us, or me, it’s more of dissecting: what is wrong with my actions? With my thoughts? With my expectations?

god’s never promised me a husband.

But He has promised to 1) never leave me 2) work for my good 3) to always love me. He has promised to walk beside me and before me, to gather up broken pieces from my past, to stitch me together in the present, to prepare me for the wonders of my future.

So if God is doing all of these wonderful things in my past and present, surely I can expect wonderful things in the future. Surely I can know that whatever man is (or isn’t) coming my way, His timing and His plan and His will overtake whatever I plan.

These days, I’m trying to keep my actions, thoughts and expectations in check. I’m trying to align these things with God’s promises, to remember my life boils down to God’s sovereignty and my free will. To know that I have plans in my mind, but God directs my steps.

So to all my single ladies, hang in there!

Don’t break your heart over a man who’s not worth it, or especially a man you barely know. Do guard your heart in Truths and wisdom and scripture that reveal all of the miraculous things God does for us!

If you’re struggling to get over a man today, remember this pain won’t last for all of your tomorrows. If you’re feeling strong right now, keep at it. You’ve. Got. This.

For the Ladies · Life Written. · Love Languages · Love or Something Like It · Mind. · Post-Grad. · spirit · To My Mister

A Hopeful Heart: On Trusting God Above All Else

Awk

i don’t do trust falls.

You can ask any of my friends or family. If they say I’ve done a trust fall with them, they’re a stinking liar.

I don’t do trust falls, because the idea of falling flat on my back does not appeal to me. Yes, I understand the concept. You trust your teammate, so they reach their arms out and catch you. They save you from falling. Cute.

But in my head, I fall flat on my back. Every time.

i don’t trust god well.

I was taught Proverbs 3:5-6 at a young age. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

I don’t trust God all of the time.

I lean on my own understanding. I think I know what’s best for me. I follow my own plan.

I don’t always acknowledge Him. I often forget to give Him credit where it’s due.

My paths are downright crooked and wonky and twisted and curvy, because they are my paths. Not God’s.

i don’t always trust in god, but when i do, my paths are straight.

The other night, I had one of the most defining come-to-Jesus moments in my twenties.

Last year, I met this guy. (Yes, all terrific and tragic stories start with, “I met this guy.”) He’s kind and cute and compassionate. He also laughs at all of my jokes and loves Jesus with his whole heart.

After only our first date-esque friendship outing, I was over the moon. It’s like every single man I had met in the history of my existence could not meet up to the level of extraordinary, amazing and perfect that this man was (and is–sort of).

So for the past almost 365 days of my life, I’ve been pining for this guy. I’ve been waiting for him to come around, to greet me with this huge smile, pull me into a hug, and twirl me around just like Noah does to Allie in the Notebook.

Yeah. That has not happened.

And during my come-to-Jesus moment, I realized that it may never actually happen.

In that moment, I fell flat on my face, knees to the ground, palms up. I said, “God, I’m giving him to you. I’ve got to let go of this. I cannot control this. It’s all up to Your Will.”

Honestly, I thought about taking it back. Because he’s really the total package.

But then I remembered Proverbs 3:5-6.

If I trust in God, He will make my paths straight. If I let go of this and my plan, His dreams and His life for me will fall into place. I don’t have to weave in and out and up and down to follow my own wonky path. I simply have to walk step-by-step, trusting God in every move I make.

so here i am, on day 9 of trusting god with my love life.

There are times my heart is weak. I just want to call this guy up and eat tacos with him and tell him all of my jokes.

But my Spirit is strong. My Spirit says I’ve got this. My Spirit says my measly plan pales in comparison to the reward my trust will receive.

So here I am, sharing the amusing-yet-anti-climactic-love-saga that is my life. And I can only hope that you are better at trusting. And that you know God’s plans for you are crazy stupid awesome and you should really join me in the trusting God boat, because my worries are none and my life is breezy with God as Captain right now.

Bearing my Cross · For the Ladies · Life Written. · Love Languages · Love or Something Like It · Popular Posts. · To My Mister

My Mom Told Me to Wait for Marriage, But I’m Done With That.

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not my virginity, i’m talking about my life!

I’ve never been particularly good at waiting (Exhibit A of why singleness is good for me). I’ve always been especially hasty to make decisions and impulsively act. That’s how many of my travel adventures began: in the blink of an eye, with a quick thought, at the swipe of a card.

So when I envision myself waiting for marriage, I see a mopey Maelyn benched on the sidelines of a super exciting, buzzer beater game. The stands are full. Crowds cheer. Feet stomp. The ball thumps. The net swishes.

I cannot just sit and watch. I cannot be an idle observer. I have to be there, in the middle of the court, ball-in-hand. I have to feel my own heart leap out of my chest with every step, every second counted down on the clock. I have to make snap decisions and stay alert and wipe the sweat off the back of my neck.

I’m done with waiting, but i’m not done with growing.

I’m not done with learning from my mistakes, heartbreaks, wins, triumphs. I’m not done with taking notes about who I am and who I’ve been and who I want to be. I’m not done with falling flat on my face, knees to my chest, crying out to Jesus to rejoice and to weep.

Before I meet my man, I’d like to grow. A lot. When I meet my man, I want to say, “I make more than Ramen.” I’d like to declare, “I’ve put a dent in my bucket list, but I’m ready for your help.” I’d like to admit, “I’ve missed you a lot. But I’ve been busy while you’ve been gone.”

i don’t know his name, but i pray for him often.

My man has a lot to put up with: a lot of sass, a lot of obnoxious laughs, a lot of silly arguments that don’t actually matter (no, a burrito is not a sandwich). And since I’ve never met him yet, I can pray that he grows and learns, too.

I pray he can say, “I can make you the coffee rack you’ve always wanted.” And, “I vow to never hug you right after I work out.” I hope he can declare, “I’ve been chasing Jesus, and I can’t wait to chase him with you.”

It might not be 2017, or 2018, or even 2019. But when we’re face-to-face, I’m going to shriek and giggle and jump and do a cartwheel because that man is already my very best friend in this whole wide world!!! And I cannot wait to meet him.

Bearing my Cross · Body. · Life Written. · Love Languages · Mind. · Post-Grad. · Sojourn. · spirit · The Word

Just Around the Big Bend: On Hope & Expectation

946796_10208895827141727_1832745874572742066_nI’m camping at Big Bend this weekend.

My friends Brian, Sarah, and I dreamed up this trip months ago. As adventurers and lovers of the great outdoors, and strangers to Big Bend, we decided it would be the perfect Labor Day weekend getaway.

A lot of planning has gone into our trip: what to pack, meal planning, buying last-minute gear. There are far few things I love more than packing for a trip, especially a campout. This week I’ve been giddy as I run around the house to find miscellaneous items like wipes and bug repellant.

There is much around the bend {of life}.

Year 22 beholds a mixture of the new and old. A new church, an old hometown. A new job (hopefully), an old resume. A new friend group, while keeping the old.

Excitement and adventure come with all of this newness, but so do anxiety and nerves.

What if I don’t fit into my new church? What if I can’t find community?

What if I can’t get a new job? How will I sustain my weekly coffee and pie expenditures?

What if I can’t make new friends? What if the old ones leave me?

But God works for our good: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. This means Christ will always be our Savior, always be Protector, always be Deliverer, always be King.

This means that while I spend my days in today’s, God is far ahead, making room for good things to come.

What if I prepared for God’s goodness the same way I packed for Big Bend? What if I planned for great things to happen in and through me, long before they do?

Let’s wait on God in hopeful expectation.

Because the ultimate greatness that will happen is Christ’s return.

What if I loved so much today, that it poured into my tomorrow’s? What if I feared less today, so I can enjoy my tomorrow’s?

What if instead of doubting and worrying and over-planning, I sat in the still and quiet, and waited for Christ to come back?

Hebrews 6:19 says, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”

God’s hope keeps us planted, it won’t let the waves and storms of life sweep us away. God’s hope keeps us steady, it holds onto us just as much as we cling to it.

Friends, do not doubt yourself today, and don’t live in fear of tomorrow.

Look ahead to the horizon, switch to a bird’s eye view, and be prepared for blessing and abundance. Fight the storms, anchor your soul, and be ready!

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Unashamed: I have a disorder, but I’m not disordered.

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Call me Mae. I call this man Pops.

Bipolar.

That’s what the Doc said.

I received the diagnosis this week–shortly after a big move to a new city, new job and new life bombarded me with stress, anxieties, restlessness, insecurities.*
I was once a singular, candle-like flame. But I exploded into a raging wildfire.

I’m not disordered.

I believe a man, Jesus Christ, loves me through His Father, The Lord, and dwells within me, The Spirit.

Those are personal beliefs, personal “problems” even. The best problems I’ve ever and never had.
When the world says “bipolar is a disorder,” The Man says,
“You are not disordered. You are not defined by a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are made up of mind, body and Spirit. Three in one, just like me.
I live in the most peaceful state of mind. Every morning, I choose to wake and see God’s Mercy in the sunrise. Each evening, I can rest easy basking in God’s Grace.

I’m a human, so I matter.

Dear goodness, my heart breaks for those who’ve journeyed before me in fear, or those who follow behind me in shame on similar paths.
A diagnosis is almost never good. It’s usually a physical illness or disease, or a psychological or cognitive disability. Slapped on your wrist as a patient, or tattooed to your foot like Toy Story’s Woody, which read “Andy.”
I’m not a toy. I’m not Andy’s. I’m human. I’m Christ’s.

And I’m not damaged. I’m not out of order.

I don’t care much for labels. People call me different names, like Daughter, Sister, Hipster, Asian, Christ Follower.

But first, please first, call me Mae. It’s my favorite.

Then call me: Caring, Compassionate, Christ-like.

A diagnosis does not, and will not ever change me, or my wiring: the ISTJ, lion and beaver-esque, strategic, intense, and purpose-focused “Mae Mae” who was born 21 years ago, adopted 20 years ago, left home 3.5 years ago, and returned home as “Mae” two days ago.

Call me Mae.

Call me human.

Call me Christian. Call me Writer, Dreamer, Creative, Thinker, Lawyer, Love, Mockingjay, Mae Flower, Mae Bae. Or just Mae.

Because I’m called by Christ. And I’m qualified by the Cross. And I’m me, and will always be me, a girl with a disorder. But not a woman who’s disordered.

* This post was originally written on 3/20/2016. It was saved as a draft and published at a more appropriate time.