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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.

Bearing my Cross · Body. · For the Ladies · Friendship · Life Written. · Mind. · Post-Grad. · Sojourn. · spirit · The Word · To My Mister

Waiting on God 101.

I know how to wait.

Or at least, I think I do — most of the time. I’m used to waiting on men, waiting on change, waiting on flights, waiting on food, waiting on traffic lights, waiting on lines.

But waiting on God? For some reason, that’s harder for me to tackle. Maybe because I can’t physically see or audibly hear Him.

Maybe because some days it’s hard to picture Him as more than a figment of my imagination. Maybe because I’m often too stubborn to remember He manifested himself in Christ, lives through the Spirit in me and works for my good every day.

Waiting is the worst.

Sometimes, I pray for patience. But then I learn the process to obtain patience entails waiting, so I usually take it back — can you take prayers back? Like unkind words or jeans that don’t fit?

Waiting is always uncertain — it can last hours, days, weeks, months, years. At times, waiting periods may pass in the blink of an eye. But others may not be so quick, they are painful and arduous and test every ounce of perseverance within me.

I’ve spent my lifetime waiting.

Not in this lazy, complacent way where I just sit and wait for good things to happen. Not in this overbearing, manic way where I run fast and chase after good things.

Somewhere in the middle, where I find peace in the present and satisfaction through productivity.

I’ve waited for my guy to come, I’ve waited for my medication to work, I’ve waited for a job, for a place to call home, for a friendship, for a degree. I’ve waited for short periods and long stretches. I’ve waited for the world to change (as my man John Mayer sings).

Here are my tips on waiting:

  1. Gain perspective. Think of why you are waiting, and what for. Think of how to use your time and resources wisely. How can you spend your energy? Who can help you in this waiting period?
  2. Pray. A lot. We are called to “present our requests” to God with “prayer and petition.” I think of a dorky petition I signed in middle school to allow gum chewing on campus. God probably has bigger fish to fry than gum privileges, but perhaps He wants us to approach in the same manner — with a plan, with support, with tenacity.
  3. Remember hope. It is with the Hope of the Lord that we truly survive, and more importantly thrive, during our waiting periods. We cannot do this alone, not without the support of friends & family, and surely not without God on our side.
  4. Weep. The older and hopefully wiser I become, the more likely I am to weep, to truly mourn for my hurts and heartaches, and for those around me. When I miss something or someone, when I beg God to deliver me, I often curl up in my bed or fall to my knees. I cry out to God, because He promises to hear our cries.

There are so many ingredients to waiting contently, waiting patiently, waiting in a strong and respectful manner. All of my suggestions come from the God-breathed Scripture, the gift that is His word. I would get nowhere without it.

Friends who are waiting, be encouraged by this: you are never alone. We wait for good news. We wait for good friends. We wait for better days.

When we wait on God, we will not be disappointed. When we wait for Him, He will reward us here on earth, and permanently in Heaven. When we wait, we grow.

Bearing my Cross · Body. · For the Ladies · Friendship · Life Written. · Love or Something Like It · Popular Posts. · Post-Grad. · Sic'Em Forever. · spirit · The Word · To My Mister

I Don’t Have a Backup Husband…Anymore.

He is one of my closest guy friends.

He and I go way, way back. He’s seen me wear many hats: the Christian, the Baylor student, the Tri Delta, the PR chick, the coach, the climber, the writer. He’s really an incredible person.

But he met this woman. And he thinks maybeee he’ll marry her one day. Originally, I accused her of ruining my life. I said, “Dude. What about when we’re 40? Who am I supposed to marry then?”

He reminded me it was only a backup plan. I haven’t picked a new backup husband since.

On Wednesday night, my gal pals and I shared Torchy’s chips and queso and delved into this deep conversation on what marriage is, what it looks like, how to wait, and how to give and receive love. It was this raw, honest, convicting conversation.

“Marriage is a gift, not a given.”

Oof. My friend Sarah delivered the truth.

Here’s the thing about marriage: it is absolutely beautiful. God uses marriage as a model of how Christ loves the Church, to show us how He pursues His children, to give us an idea of how unconditional and irreplaceable His love is.

Here’s the thing about marriage: not everyone gets married. I can think of a handful of wonderful, godly women well over 30-years-old who are still single. Some chose it. Some didn’t. Each has an exquisite, intimate relationship with The Lord, and have positively impacted my faith.

“Singleness is a gift just as much as marriage is.”

Yours truly threw this one out on the literal Torchy’s table. I meant every single word.

I’ve never exclusively dated. I’ve been on dates and had those childish summer flings. But I’ve never been in a fully committed relationship.

It used to hurt me a lot. I had this longing to understand how to love and be loved in a romantic way. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to date, like I was unworthy.

Then, it didn’t hurt at all. In fact, what I once considered a shameful weakeness became my greatest strength. It took me about half of college. It took years of prayer and patience.

Every minute of my life is used to follow Jesus and to love God’s children. I am completely accessible to women who mentor me, and to younger friends who I mentor. My flexible schedule and availability to drop-everything-and-run to my friends who hurt are undeniable advantages of singleness.

Benefits of singleness include: I rarely have to shave my legs, I have awesome cuddle seshes with my dog, and I don’t have to share my meal with anyone.

Actual advantages include: free weekends to serve, an undivided attention to seek God first, an availability to dive deep into friendships with other singles (and marrieds, of course).

We are not defined by our relationship status.

We are defined by The Lord, by the incredible lengths He undergoes so we can merely grasp His love for us. We are defined by Christ on the cross, bleeding out for all of God’s children, just so we can call Him “Abba.”

We are qualified by who we are: we are chosen, we are humbled, we are loved. We are qualified by whose we are: The Lord our King. That is all that matters. That is who we are.

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

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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. · College Life · For the Ladies · Friendship · Life Written. · Love Languages · Love or Something Like It · Mind. · Popular Posts. · Post-Grad. · Sic'Em Forever. · Sojourn. · spirit · The Word · To My Mister · Uncategorized

Single & Almost Ready to Mingle {re: A Strong Ass Woman of God}

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“I am a stubborn and feisty lady.”

My darling cousin Kendall called herself a “strong ass woman of God,” on her blog, a Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.

I love that a single status encourages independence, sanctification, and satisfaction in my own life. However, many friends see singleness as a thorn in their flesh, not a rose in the garden.

Satan manipulates our strengths, and turns them into insecurities.

Satan tries to grab my strategic thinking, and manipulate it into “manly thinking.” If I feel like a boy, surely I will never be ready to date a boy.

He takes my love to travel and wander, and translates it into “fear of commitment.” If I cannot commit to a place, surely I will never settle on a person.

He latches onto my ability to process and vocalize my thoughts, and twists it into an “inability to submit.” If I can speak for myself, surely I will never want a man to speak for me.

But as I draw near to God, my desire for a husband grows.

I will never feel qualified to call myself a girlfriend, wife, or mother. I will perptually use my sinful humanity as an excuse to never enter a romantic relationship.

But The Lord qualified me to be a woman and a wife on the Cross.

Each day, He sculpts away at a bent heart and a broken mindset, and He points back to where His Love redefined history.

When I look at the Cross, and I remember the Love Jesus showed, and I consider grace and mercy and peace.

I see the grace, mercy, and peace my Baylor brothers extended me when I was mean, selfish, and unkind. I know the grace, mercy, and peace my college roommataes showed me when I was short, stubborn, and snarky.

So when I think of Jesus, I remember my husband.

I don’t know him as my husband now, but in the moment I say, “I do,” I will weep tears of eternal joy.

Because right now, it feels like I will never have that moment.

Satan grabs ahold of my past to lie to my face, to call me unworthy, unloved, and incapable of sacrificing.

He tortures me by replaying past failed almost-relationships, he agonizes me with deceit, saying I will never be good enough.

Thankfully, The Lord wins. His love wins.

His love says, “You are a wonderful friend, a kind sister, and a generous stranger. Every step you take now is one closer to the man I’ve created for you.

Do not disqualify yourself. Do not listen to the Devil. He is a liar, and he will lose.

On this side of Heaven, he can grab hold of your insecurities. He will play you, he will trick you.

But look to me for Truth. Look to me for Love. Look to me for the grace, mercy, and peace that you will never find on this earth.

I am yours. I am your first love. And I am here, I will prepare you for another kind of love that will surpass all that you haven’t yet found.

I love you, dear one. Be patient. Be kind. I’m working for your good.”