Magic of Beginnings

IMG_7664Quick life update and the “magic of beginnings.”

This summer, reality hit me just like that window. Suddenly, I knew it was time to start something new. Or a lot of things. All at once. Why?

Dear Mary, why not? Love, God.

I’m glad this sudden & jarring realization came smack dab in the middle of summer rest. In the midst of ocean views out my window with family. In between my best friend and wild bunnies. Where kayaks glided on glassy waters. When I sat with my dad next to the flowers by his grave. Or the time I opened a box of I do’s and yes’s to being Maid of Honor. Where coffee stands existed in Southern California on a hot day with my favorite people.

So, this blessed rest gave me the chance to process. Anticipate. Grieve. Plan. Hope for all the new. New car {with AC, amen}. New dwelling. New roommates. New {frightening} bills. New job. New classroom. New {precious} students. Brand new season.

And the Lord has gone before every single step. Every one. My mom often says to me when I call to tell her how things are, “you know this isn’t normal, right?” Rejoicing and in awe of what the Lord is doing, even in the small daily happenings. Teaching me to stop and praise my Maker, my Father. A reminder that God’s hand of provision is mighty and at work in the middle of big scary transitions in my life.

Despite the screw up I sometimes am. Despite my foolish mistakes {like how I accidentally subscribed to a year’s worth of commercial free Korean dramas for too much money and couldn’t get a refund, oops}. Despite my naivety and put it off personality, at times. Despite myself. The Lord keeps being Himself, and chooses to not just work in spite of me, but with me and for me, for His glory. What love is this?

So, in the words of fifth grade hero August Pullman, “I’m pretty much totally and completely petrified.” Of this new season. Of change. Of my own limitations and weaknesses in it all.

But my confidence is rooted in a God whose love is radical and whose provision is “not normal.” It’s what allows me to trust the magic of beginnings. Lots of them. All at once. Why?

Dear Mary, why not? Love, God.

Lesser Lights

My bare feet swayed across the cool kitchen floor as I wept over the cold pizza I took out of the fridge for lunch.

Yet, never has a moment been more abundantly full of blessed and restful happiness.
The tune of Hillsong’s “So Will I” filled my stuffy apartment, alongside the gentle humming of the fan, mimicking a breeze I’d like to imagine the ocean was bringing in.

With teary eyes closed and an abandoned heart wide open, who’s to say the kitchen tile was not actually a sandy shore?

I twirl, hum, and cry, in between each savory bite of leftover lunch, and I ponder today’s word on Psalm 27.

“The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory. There I’ll be when troubles come.”

One thing.
We were made for a One Thing.
But only One Thing is secure.

The psalmist, David, holds fast to this One Thing.
The truth that only the Lord is His light.

All else, all other lights, will dim. Flicker. Fade.
And yet, when we hold the candle of another, however good and fragrant it is, we doom ourselves to a life of anxious toil, protecting the vulnerable flame at all cost.
For where will we be if that flame is snuffed out?
What darkness is sure to consume us if that light no longer shines?

If we seek another glow,
If we raise up the candle of some thing that was not meant to be our One Thing,
We will only know the fight. The tight-grip of fear. The ceaseless striving.
Because our mere candles, our some things, are not certain.
Not secure.
Not able to weather the winds of change and sorrow and sin.

But God invites us to trade our flickering flame for a torch that will never burn out.
What a beautiful exchange.
To release the fleeting that keeps you fighting to receive the infinite that keeps you indwelling.

I bowed my head before the Great Feast, the Lord’s Supper, repenting of lesser lights I’ve clung to, however splendent they may be.

I pondered over the night before, windows down and singing along to a sweet song of slow dancing and bright and pretty things.
I felt blissfully happy to be dreaming of such a love, one day, coming soon, maybe, perhaps.
The dream is good, one my Father cares for, but it is a lesser light.

I thought back to coffee with a dear friend, opening wrapped boxes and reading the words beautifully written on a just as beautiful card.
I hugged the warm mug of my most favorite drink as I laughed, listened, and shared thoughts with this gift of a Jesus sister.
The fellowship is good, one my Father blessed me with, but it, too, is a lesser light.

Oh, how we miss the brilliance of the torch when we put it down to pick up a mere candle.

Those good things are better seen and appreciated for all they are in the light of the torch, rather than the flicker of a small flame.

And so, I repented and came to the table.
I was satisfied with the fullness of Christ and all the promises He secured for me on the cross.
Promises to be known.
To be ever-loved.
To be saved from and for.
To be made new.
To be made an heir.
To see glory.
To be Home.
All my heart could crave was found in these covenants.

This brings me back home, eating a lesser but necessary meal, in my kitchen, bare footed in front of a breezy fan.

My feet danced upon the tiles to this song of praise.

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

Oh, and my heart couldn’t take it.
My little easy bake kitchen could barely contain the love swelling up inside of me.
My big blue eyes couldn’t hold back the flood of tears, beginning to rain down from my cheeks.
What else could my feet do but spin and sway and dance before this King?
What else could my hands do but fling wide open and high and ever reach toward the Lover of my soul?

The Creator of the stars in all their radiance, burning bright for Him and all His people to behold, shines a brighter light still.
A light that we are freely given to cherish and share.
A light that never runs out.
A light that burns brighter than the galaxies.
A light breaks through the engulfing bleak and black darkness.

And He came down to us, like one of us, as this very light.
The Light of the world.
The One Thing our hearts were made for.
The Only Thing that satisfies and causes our soul to find rest.

And I realized, sobbing over my pizza, that there is no other love, no other light, no other thing that can bring me this much overwhelming, all consuming, all around me, kind of joy and delight.

No other love makes me dance, foolish and undignified, barefooted, pizza in hand, weeping and singing and praising.
No other friendship turns my stuffy kitchen into a throne room of brilliant color and glowing grace.
No other thing brings me this much unwavering and steadying peace, the kind that opens my fighting hands to be held and stills my striving body to be enveloped by the arms of a Father.

So, I set down my candles, beautiful but flickering.
I pick up the torch, brilliant and steadfast.

And I let the light illuminate my heart, setting it ablaze, and ruining it for the lesser glow of any other thing.

Oh Lord, we repent of lesser things and lesser lights.
Come.
Be our One Thing and our One Light.
May we want for nothing but You.

Be All There

I’ve been sitting on the lobby couch since 7:30 this evening.
I’ve been working on my TPA and cursing the state of California for making it so difficult to earn a teaching credential.
It’s been a great Friday night, friends.
In the midst of all of that loveliness, however, I witnessed various conversations and events throughout the evening on my floor.
And it made me stop and realize how much I appreciate the community I find myself in.
I witnessed girls rejoicing over new, Christ-centered relationships forming, along with the butterflies in their stomachs. Girls laughing as they skipped to the bathroom well past midnight with hair dye in one hand and snacks in the other. And girls returning from Friday night adventures, resulting in good food and even better conversations.
It’s things like this that make me cherish where I’m at.
I can feel the pull of age and reality tugging at me, and slowly drifting  me further away from the care free youth I once blissfully lived as.
And while there will be abundant blessings to experience in that future ever drawing nearer, I have some pretty great ones to be rejoicing in right now.
Blessings like late nights, hair dye, Taylor Swift albums, bags of chips, and new dreams that seem large enough to challenge us, but close enough to taste. Blessings that have not been tainted by future worries or doubts, but that are being enjoyed for what they are.
Right now.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me here. Keep me present. Keep me thankful.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Matthew 6:34

Finding Grace in a Clean Room

 

Yesterday, my sister showed me what it looks like to love like Jesus loved.

I pray that the Lord will continually keep my heart soft toward my sister. Some days it shows. Some days…not so much. And even after the “not so much” days, my sister gives me glimpses of what it means to have a child-like heart. One that forgets mistakes and still pursues love.
This is one of the many examples of that heart.

“Dear Mary, I want you to know what a blessing you are! You have such a soft, tender spirit, always thinking of how you can bless others, so I wanted to bless you! Faith”

As I read the words colorfully printed on the dry erase board, I was amazed. Stunned. This girl, after all she’s seen of me, is able to say that I have a “soft, tender spirit, always thinking of how (I) can bless others.”
Conviction hits me, but it feels good. It cuts deep, but it is seasoned with grace and inspiration.
She calls out from her room,
“Open your door!”
I open my door and find that my room is clean. Bed made. Blanket folded. Clothes hung up. Counter organized.
This kind of act reveals Christ’s love at work in my sister’s heart, and reveals how I need that same love to work in my heart like it is working in hers.
I’m instantly reminded of 1 Corinthians 13. The love chapter. Among the list of attributes that love is clothed in, I’m drawn to one in particular
Love “keeps no record of wrongs.”
My sister showed me that.

I have a record of wrongs. It’s a long list, my friends. It’s a list I try to keep neatly tucked away where no one can see. But my sister has seen it. I wish she hadn’t. I wish that I could have prevented so many of those wrongs from ever happening.
But, my sister reminded me that love, even upon seeing the endless list of my wrongs, keeps no record of it. Chooses to forget it. Just like God.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Isaiah 43:25

I am thankful that the Lord reveals Himself to me in my sister. His unconditional grace can be seen in the tasks that seem small, but unveil a much greater picture.
God has seen my list of wrongs. Not one of them is hidden from Him. And yet, He chooses to forget them. Forgive them.
My heart is a messy room. Clothes lying on the floor, bed unmade, dust gathering on the shelves. But God, rich in grace, surprises me. I open the door to see that my room, my heart, is clean.

Now, we’re still sisters. Our rooms get a little messy sometimes.
But I’m thankful that God’s grace is the perfect cleaner-upper.
And I’m thankful that He’s taught my sister to be a cleaner-upper, not only around the house, but around our hearts.