When Christmas Isn't Perfect

It's the Christmas season once again and the war is on. It's a war between buying happiness, taping down corners to create perfection, attending every social gathering to check off success and slowing down to soak up the meaning of a baby in a manger.

I'm not going to lie, I looove Christmas. I love the twinkling lights, the music, and the smell of gingerbread. That said, I've had my share of less than perfect Christmases. There have been stressful holiday gatherings and missed family get-togethers because the flu has poor timing. That first Christmas was a little less than perfect too. A brand new baby with soft pink skin lying on a prickly bed of straw couldn't be considered ideal. Before that, though, there is the young girl, Mary, giving birth for the very first time in a stable. Somehow I don't think a Bethlehem stable would have been up to twenty-first-century sanitary codes. We have Joseph too. Joseph is on a trip back home to get his taxes figured out. I'm pretty sure it wasn't an ideal time for him to be having his first kid. Looks can be deceiving, though. On an imperfect night, in imperfect circumstances, with two imperfect people, perfection was born. Did you see that? Perfection and it wasn't you and it wasn't me, it was Jesus. This Christmas, let's quit chasing the perfection of perfect family get-togethers, Pinterest inspired wrapped gifts and magazine worthy Christmas dinners. Let's spend more time sitting in the presence of the Perfect One who came to save us from the exhaustion of being perfect on our own.

Surrender, throw in the towel. Let those dirty dishes pile up, buy that dollar store wrapping paper, leave the bow on that gift crooked and bring store bought cookies to the party because folks it's Christmas!!!! It's time for less stress and a whole lot more holiday cheer!

Unplanned Suffering

It was my final month of community college and just like that the thread was snipped and the whole fabric started to unravel. I became sick and not just an annoying head cold kind of sick but a too exhausted to even think kind of sick. Those last four weeks were filed with receiving different treatments, missing work, way too much "almost fainting",  and showing up for tests where I missed the lectures (but tried to read the book when I wasn't too ill).

This wasn't the plan. The plan was to work hard, graduate with grades I could stand by, and finish community college like a victor. This too weak to work, battling for a fair grade, and barely finishing classes was not the plan.

Why? Why did this happen? I don't know exactly but I know it needed to happen. It was God's will. God knows that this is best. So, I'm going to accept that. God says that all things work together for the good of those who love him and that means that this unplanned suffering is actually his planned good in my life. I don't know what's happening in your life, what grades are suffering, what job is unbearable, or what relationship hurts but I'm challenging you to embrace it with a new perspective. I'm challenging you to see what is happening in your life as what's best because it is God working good for a child he loves.

Yes, it has been a long four weeks but it has also been a full four weeks. Weeks filled with conversations because when you're laying around you have time to talk, you have time to journal, read, think, and pray. It has been four weeks to reevaluate and reprioritize. These four weeks were certainly not in my plan but I do believe they were the better plan. Honestly, I'd say they were a gift.

Broken Hearts and Silent Halls

She was writing about her daughter’s heart surgery and being in the waiting room when it hit me.  Sometimes, broken hearts must heal on their own.  Sometimes, being in the waiting room is as close as you can get.  Sometimes, pacing the hall is all the concern you can show.  Sometimes, their tears must be cried, pain felt, and healing begun in a sterile room with a sharp knife and a physician.  Sometimes, all you can do is plant yourself in the waiting room because there are moments when holding their hand isn't an option.

Life is filled with broken relationships and prodigals.  It's filled with others’ busted up hearts.   It's filled with an inability to mend the hurt we see.  Sometimes, relationships are only a tug on your heart towards a hospital room with a closed door.  The good news about closed doors is that they can open but the best news is that a skilled surgeon is on the other side restoring what is broken.

I've felt that waiting room ache and I paused after reading her words.  Relief filled my heart as the realization came that maybe I am in a waiting room and that silent, broken person I know is in surgery and this silence in the hall is good.


The Boy's I Didn't Trust

It started when I was young, this belief that boys weren't trustworthy. I was maybe four or five when I was mistreated by a boy and I knew it. Something in my little heart told me that this was very wrong and I was right. Fast forward through the years and my heart got crushed as boys proved over and over again that they weren't trustworthy. I learned about pornography, desertion, betrayal, infidelity, and that was before the big news stories about molestation and rape. By the time I was an adult, I knew I didn't trust boys.  It wasn't just a subconscious reaction; it was a voiced reality.

"I don't trust guys . . . . I have been hurt by guys," I told him. "I don't ever want to hurt you like they hurt you," he said it with sincerity and I believed him. I believed him and that was my choice.
Dear Girl, whose heart flinches like a frightened child every time your man does something that makes you question your trust in him, the choice is yours. Maybe you've forgotten that,
maybe you never knew it. Maybe you were like me and you didn't even know trusting was a choice but it is. I didn't have to trust those boys and I know that now.

Our hearts don't usually break over people we weren't sure we could trust
they usually break over people we thought we could.

Trusting is my choice and I'd rather give my trust too generously than live believing it can be taken and broken. If I know I gave poorly this time then maybe I can grow and give better next time. See Dear Girl, it's about ownership, owning our mistakes, owning what rightly belongs to us.  I want to learn to not leave my trust out on the table like a cheap trinket but to keep it safe, give it wisely, and choose to be braver than the people who mistreated my gift. Dear Girl, trust in God who is greater than your last heartbreak, stronger than your past resolutions, and more loving than your own fierce heart.

The Girl I Won't Forget

"Don't forget me!" she called over her shoulder as she walked out the door.

Forget you? Forget you!? Oh, dear girl, I will never forget you! She had a plane ticket for her home on the other side of the globe and I knew I might never see her again but I also knew I'd never forget her.

To remember is to respect, it is to give value to what was. There might be an ocean between us, a culture that separates, or a memory that divides but let's never forget any of those whom we have known and shared life with. Let's be bold enough to say this relationship mattered even if it was short, or painful, or frustrating. Whatever we do, let's not forget. 

Dear Girl across the ocean, in one split second, you became a miracle in my life because you were an answer to a prayer. I grew because of you and I won't forget you.


When The Giver Needs The Gift

I smile, laugh, and chat lightly because it's my way of sharing hope. If I can smile, there must be something worth smiling about, something worth laughing over, something worth being light-hearted about. In all the standing strong and living hope I brush up against her broken heart, his anger, and my own deep struggle to cling to the truth I know. I start to break over all the pain and look for a corner in which to cry. I wonder if there is hope. I wonder if I'll find love. I doubt, grow discouraged, and wonder how I can be a hope giving girl when I feel so little hope myself.

Because my hope is a greater hope than a sunny tomorrow; it's a bolder hope than a someday romance; it's a braver hope than the perfect job. It's a hope that believes in one divine man dying so we can live without guilt. It's a hope that knows your war with God can end like mine has. Yes, I believe in hope. Some days it's harder to believe than others but don't let the flickering of my flame dim the reality that the flame of hope exists in a bolder and brighter form than I can possibly show the world.


Because Broken Hearts Still Beat

We, girls, talk about busted up hearts. We sing songs about loneliness and wasted love. I remember the first time my heart was fractured down the center. I was a teenager and he promised to always be there for me but a few weeks later he refused to speak to me. My heart felt all kinds of numbing pain and grief as I sat feeling helpless to bring life to what was dying. Opening my eyes in the morning became a victory.  Letting the world spin without screaming for it to stop brought on pain so severe it was hard to breathe. Never had I felt so abandoned and betrayed. Never had my heart ached with such fierceness, a fierceness that forever changed the rhythm of its own beat.

No, he never came back. He didn't pick up all the shattered pieces and glue them back together one by one. It didn't matter how much I cried or prayed; what had ended was meant to be forever gone. Yes, something inside of me died but something else was born. While my heart kept beating it found a new rhythm, one that beats today to share the hope I've found with other girls who've been broken in their most tender places.

You, see there is a crazy thing about broken hearts, they keep beating. There is this song that talks about a naïve heart. I don't want that to be me. I want to love bravely; I want to care boldly; I want to give graciously. Broken hearts don't have to heal into fear filled and insecure ridden masses of beating memories. Broken hearts can heal into braver, stronger, and bolder rhythms of grace. I know it hurts. I know he took your love and made light of it but Dear Girl, what he does is not who you are.


Blog Relaunch: Born Running

I was born a runner. Some days I run from people, pain, memories, and fears. Some days I run towards progress, goals, others, and Jesus. I'm seeing that there's nothing wrong with being a runner; I just have to monitor my direction. I'm an 110%, all in kind of gal with a drive for perfection and a hunger for raw authenticity wrapped up in beautiful messiness. This little space on the World Wide Web has been less than perfect and all kinds of beautiful messy. I started as a hobbyist photographer and today I find myself running on in life with a desire to go in a new direction with this little space on the web.

                Dear gals [soul sisters, cravers of beauty, and lovers of insanity]

                Welcome to Moriah Mari!! It is a place of inspiration, encouragement, and healing for gals who long to live life to the fullest. It's for those who sometimes put too much on their plate, get excited about new opportunities, and desire to make the most out of life. It's for those who've grown weary when they didn't want to, been broken when they least expected it, and lost what they didn't think they would.  It's a place of healing because we're living in a world with a heart breaking from an ache too great to carry.

                What will you see here on the blog? A lot of inspiration and hope. I'm praying that every post will bring rest to your soul, whether it's a tasty new recipe, creatively inspiring photo shoot, or words tumbling out of my heart and hoping to be heard with grace by yours. I'd love to see this as a place of connection. So, please reach out, leave comments, and send e-mails.

               I'm here to live a story of insane love. Come join me!


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