This Kind Of Love

If you have a heart that beats and knows love then this, my friend, is for you.

Whether you’ve been married for 30 years, dating for only a few months, or you’re still looking for your soul mate…this is my hope for you.

I hope you have the kind of love that sweeps you off you feet.

The kind of love that brings you breakfast in bed.

I hope you have the kind of love that sends you flowers..

Just because.

I hope you have the kind of love that travels around the world and back with you.

I hope you have the kind of love that surprises you with tickets to see your favorite band.

I hope you have the kind of love that laughs at all of your jokes.

The kind of love that makes you feel unique and beautiful and special, just for being you.

I hope you have the kind of love that makes every single day an absolute adventure.

I hope you have the kind of love that makes all your friends jealous.

I hope that you have the kind of love that you’ve always dreamed of.

But if there comes a day when the world feels like it’s crashing down right beneath your very feet…

I hope you have the kind of love that stays.

The kind of love that picks you up when the world brings you down to your knees.

The kind of love that asks you the hard questions.

The kind of love that sits through counseling when it would be easier to just call it quits.

The kind of love that stays by your side in the hospital at all hours.

The kind that loves you through the miscarriage, the cancer, the gunshots, the rehab…all of it.

The kind  of love that wipes away your tears when you lose a loved one.

The kind of love that sits in the dark and eats ramen noodles with you after you lose your job.

I hope you have the kind of love that prays for you, over you, and with you through all of the pits and peaks of life.

I hope you have the kind of love that washes your hair for you when you can’t do it for yourself.

The kind of love that carries you to bed at night when your legs are no longer able.

And the kind of love that wakes up every single day just to do it all over again.

The purest love.

I hope you have the kind of love that’s patient.

The kind of love that’s kind.

The kind of love that doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, and isn’t proud.

The kind that doesn’t dishonor others.

The kind of love that’s not self seeking or easily angered.

The kind that keeps no record of wrongs.

The kind of love that rejoices in truth.

The kind that always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.

I hope you have the kind of love that never, ever fails.

I know it won’t be perfect.

But I hope you cherish it.

In this life, I hope you have the privilege of experiencing the kind of love as beautiful as this.

And I hope that it’s all you ever dreamed of.

And more.

So much more.

Now go be love.

And as always..

bless and be blessed,

Mary Alan

 And hey, while I’ve got you here…check out this incredible song and music video that inspired this little love blog. You can watch it here!

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Here Comes The Sun

What you’re about to read is something I shared with the world two years ago today. It popped up on my time hop and I just felt led to share.  

Enjoy! 

“I don’t know where to begin with this. This isn’t really my style of writing. But I felt the need to write it..so here it goes. 

I had a bad day today. And it got me thinking, I’ve had a lot of those lately. Not just I’m running late to work, forgot to pack my lunch, the gas light just came on kind of bad day. I’m talking about no motivation to get out of bed, zero appetite, couldn’t crack a smile even if I tried kind of bad day. Depression. It’s not something you can understand unless you’ve been there. And I’ve been here before. I’ve been fighting this, hiding it, and pushing it away for over two years. And let me tell you…it is absolutely the most exhausting thing I have ever dealt with. 

I came home from work today and thought, “ENOUGH!” This is it. I refuse to live my life like this. I’m sick and tired of being at war with myself every single day. I don’t know why I feel this way and I don’t know how to fix it. I know it won’t happen over night. Everyday is a battle. And there’s more than one way to make it through. But I came up with a little list. I know it may seem really silly and small but it got me through today and that’s enough for me. Here it is. 

1. Call someone. Call your dad. Call your best friend. Call someone. And when they ask you how you’re doing…don’t you dare tell a lie. “I’m fine.” No. Don’t do it. Be honest. “I’m not ok.” Tell them. And then they’ll inevitably ask, “what’s wrong?” Tell them. Don’t keep it locked up inside. A wise man once told me something that really stuck. He told me to never ever hold any emotion, good or bad, inside of you. He talked about how women usually live longer than men and the reason why is because women tend to let it all out. Keeping your problems and emotions tucked inside will literally take the life right out of you. Don’t do that to yourself. Let it out. 

I mean, you never know…they could be going through the same thing you are. Maybe they’ll be able to offer you a simple piece of advice that make the bad days better for them. This is what lead me to the rest of my list.

2. A few bad days ago, I called a friend and talked about how I was feeling. She told me to list 5 things that make me really happy. 3, 2, 1, GO. It was really hard for me. I could only come up with 4 things. FOUR. And they were really small and silly things. But I did it and it made me feel so much better. And guess what? Today, I came up with 5. And they were all different than my last 4. It’s a small step, but it’s a step and I’ll take it. 

3. And then today…it was one of those days. I got a call from my dad. He didn’t even have to ask me how I was doing. He jumped straight to the “what’s wrong?” Isn’t that funny? How dads just know. He always just knows. He gave me the most heartfelt advice. Whenever you’re having a really bad day and nothing is making it better…make someone else’s day better. When you see someone who looks like they’re having one of those days, lift them up. Compliment someone, do a good deed, simply smile at stranger. Not only have you made there day better…you’re making yours better too. “When you have a bad day, a really bad day, try and treat the world better than it treated you.” – Patrick Stump

4. Write it all down. Whether it’s on a sticky note at work or in a personal journal or on your blog for the world to see. Write it down. Coming to terms with what’s going on and what’s causing your days to be so bad can make all the difference in tomorrow. 

And 5. If you’re too shaken to pick up a pen, or you’re not ready to call someone, or no one will pick up the phone, call on The Lord. He will answer. He will always, always answer. Pray. And If it’s too hard to pray (and I’ve had those days, too) then just simply say, “Jesus.” It seems so silly and small but it’s amazing how much comfort it brings. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and He will heal the crushed in spirit. When I look back and think about the times that I was at my absolute happiest, it was the times when I was closest to God. I will wake up every morning and choose to believe in His promises. And every single day He takes me imperfect. Isn’t that beautiful?

If you’ve never been here before, you’re either really lucky or you’re lying. Remember that everyone is fighting some sort of battle. You just never know what someone is going through, no matter how happy they may seem. Some battles are really big and some are really small. I challenge you to be the reason that someone smiles and to try your best to make someone’s bad day just a little bit better. 

And if you have been here before, then guess what? Me too. Everyday. BUT, just because you have a bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life. I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow will bring. And that terrifies me. If I have to re-read this silly list everyday just to make it out of bed, I will. I refuse to let depression consume my life.

In saying all this, I’m really not asking for you to feel sorry for me. I don’t want that. However, I am not ashamed to ask for your prayers. I need them. Never, ever be ashamed of your story. It could inspire others someday. I’m fighting everyday to love the person I was, the person I am, and the person I’m becoming. Who knows…maybe it’s not all about having the best day..maybe it’s just about finding the beauty in everything. Beautiful moments. The silver lining. I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. But, I do know this: I am so loved. Not just by my family and friends, but by God. In His eyes, regardless of whether I had the best day of my life or if I never even made it out of bed, I am loved. I am His. And because of this, I am enough. And you want to know something? You are too.” 

And here we are. This piece of my past brought old feelings back and tears to my eyes for a couple of reasons.

One of those feelings was just total heart ache. I can’t believe just how lost and broken I really was. I let the people and things of this world determine my happiness. I allowed a terrible job and a silly breakup to consume me. 

But the other feeling I had was complete joy. God rescued me from the dark times in my life. And not only that, but He used those dark roads to change my heart and bring me to a place brighter than I could ever imagine. 

Now, I’m not saying that life is sunshine and roses all the time now…but my happiness comes from The Lord. And my soul finds rest in Him alone. 

If you’re having a bad day or maybe a few bad days then listen to me…

It gets better.

But only if you let it. 

Let God in. 

He will heal your broken heart and restore your joy entirely.

And one day you’ll look back and smile. 

Because even in the mess of it all…you ended up right where you were meant to be. 

Right here. 

Bless and be blessed,

Mary Alan 

Here We Go Again

Hey friends! 

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday again. I guess my parents were right when they said the older you get, the faster time flies. 

I posted seven things I was grateful for last week and got a pretty great response from it. 

So many of y’all reached out and told me that you were going to start making a list of what you’re grateful for, too! 

Woohoooo! 

Let’s do this again!

Week two. 

Ready, set, GO! 

One.

My small group this semester is focused around bible journaling. Which if you didn’t know, is one of my favorite things to do. 

I volunteered to share a quick word with my group this week. I chose to read one of my old blogs. 

I know, not super original. 

And I know I’m the author…but that blog spoke to me when I wrote it and it still speaks to me now.  

It’s all about putting on the new self. And how sometimes being a Christian is just plain hard. 

If you haven’t read it, you can check it out here

After I read it, one of the girls in my group spoke up. She said she almost didn’t come. She was running late and seriously considered turning around. 

But she came. 

And she said that my message was exactly what she needed to hear. 

How cool is that? 

That I chose to share a random blog I had written months ago.

And that it was just what she needed.

Isn’t that awesome? 

How God weaves all of our stories together so perfectly and uses us when we least expect it? 

If that’s not Gods perfect plan in motion then I don’t know what is. 

Two.

I watched a message from Church of The Highlands during one of my morning workouts this week. My sister attends there and she told me to check out and I’m so glad that I did! 

The message was about forgiving people. And the pastor told a story of forgiveness that really put some things into perspective for me. 

If you’re struggling with forgiving someone then this message is for you! 

You can watch it HERE.

Three.

I love having blogger friends. And this blogger friend of mine really hit a home run this week. 

It was a seriously good.

Like gives you chills from head to toe kinda good. 

I really believe the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through her post. 

If you’ve ever been in a stormy season, as I’m sure everyone has, then you should definitely give it a read! 

You can find it right here!

Four and Five. 

One of the 6th graders in my bible study told me that she loved my blog. She said it was like picking up her favorite book and she couldn’t put it down. 

Isn’t that the sweetest?! 

I love this girl and I love her heart. 

She also told me that she used to hate going to church. But her family switched churches a couple months ago and now she loves her new church. Her face lit up with so much excitement when she was telling me about it! And lucky for me, I know exactly how she feels because it’s my church too! 

This one counts for two.

I’m so thankful for this girl. She’s different. And she has a special calling on her life. I can feel it. 

And I’m beyond grateful for my church. I never thought I’d have a real church family. And I never thought it could be this good. God, it’s so good. 

Life change happens in that place every. single. week.

For myself and so many others. 

And I praise God for that. 

Six.

I had a craft night with my best friend and oh my goodness we had the best time. It was a good escape from our usual busyness and overall it was a pretty low maintenance craft. 

AND I think it turned out so super cool. 

We’ve been eyeballing these yarn hangy things on Pinterest and we decided it was a DIY craft that we could probably tackle. And maybe I’m wrong….but look at these things?! 

I can’t stop looking! 

I think they look so hip and expensive!

AND they cost less than $20 to make!!

I mean what. a. DEAL. 

I hope everyone loves them because you’ll all be getting one for Christmas this year from yours truly. 

Seven. 

I sent cards to a couple of my closest friends this week. I’m a sucker for a good greeting card and these cards had me sobbing in the aisle. 

Tears of pure thankfulness. 

Thankful for friends that love me. 

Thankful for the friends God has chosen for me.

Just so thankful. 

It was my random act of kindness for the week and it felt good dropping those envelopes in the mail. 

And maybe it made them smile, too. 

Show your people some extra love this week. 

Whether it’s a hug or a sappy greeting card…

Just love them.

And love them well. 

Make this week count!

And as always…

Bless and be blessed, 

Mary Alan 

Something New 

Hello to my very favorite followers and friends!

With life being so super busy lately, I haven’t had the time to write like I usually do.

I’m not complaining! The fact that reality gets in the way of my time sitting behind the computer screen is nothing short of a blessing.

With that being said, I’ve decided to start a new little section on my site.

Every Thursday I’m going to give a little weekly update. Seven things that touched my heart during the previous week.

Could be a bible verse, a funny video, a song, or just a little piece of knowledge I gained! Anything! Just some little peaks from my week that will hopefully bring joy to your week as well!

Haven’t decided what to call this little section just yet so bear with me. As soon as I come up with something, I’ll move it out of my regular blog section for ease in searching and what not.

And if you have any clever ideas for a title then by all means send them my way in the comments or on my contact page!

Well…here we go.

One.

A friend of mine shared this blog on her Facebook earlier this week and I’m super glad I checked it out. Good stuff for anyone.

Check it out here!

Two.

As I’m sure most of you know, I babysit…pretty much all the time.

One of the little boys I keep is two and a half and has absolutely stolen my heart.

The funnest thing about his age is that he’s constantly learning. He proves the statement “you learn something new everyday” to be 150% true.

Whether it’s putting the cap on a marker, saying a new word, or mastering how to eat cereal with a spoon, he is constantly taking in the world around him.

I never thought watching someone learn to differentiate a circle from an oval would be quite so rewarding.

I can’t even begin to imagine all the work that goes into parenting. But I know that the joy of it has to surpass all the struggles by a long shot.

Moms, soak in the small joys.

Dads, hug your babies extra tight.

I see it every single day…they grow up way too fast.

Three.

I shared this on my Facebook this week, but if we aren’t friends or you missed it then I’ll share it again.

THIS SONG.

Real Love by Hillsong Young and Free.

I mean…never mind that the lyrics are pure gold. The beat is seriously good. I listen to it every morning when I’m getting ready and it always gets my day started on the right foot!

Four.

*apologizing in advance to all my non local followers* 

If you live in Florence and you haven’t had a house special from Rivertown Coffee Co. then you truly haven’t lived.

It’s my very favorite treat when it starts feeling like fall. I don’t know what’s in it and I’m sure it’s jam packed full of calories. But I’m not going to let that stop me!

If you’re from around here and you feel like experiencing life change in liquid form, then call me and we’ll go grab one together…not joking.

Five.

I’m coming up on month two of no Netflix.

Yes, you did indeed read that correctly.

I cancelled my subscription to Netflix.

And believe it or not, I’m surviving!!!

I mean yeah, I’ve watched every DVD in my entire collection for the 100th time…but so what?!

I’m only saving around $9 a month by doing this. And yes, I know that’s a pretty laughable amount…but it’s just enough to get an extra house special or two, ya know?

I started writing a little blog about my Netflix free life and what that’s looked like for me…so be on the lookout for it!

Six.

I started leading a young girls bible study this week and I already see Gods hands all. over. these young girls.

One of the girls shared with me that she doesn’t feel like her prayers are good enough for God.

Instant. Tears.

I used to feel this way OFTEN. And if I had to guess, it’s probably a pretty common feeling among new believers and life long followers alike.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“It doesn’t sound good.”

“I forget the things that I meant to pray for.”

Normal. All very, very normal.

Let me just say…giving advice on the spot is tough stuff. But here’s what I came up with:

-Make a list of what you want to pray for. Use it as a cheat sheet when you’re praying. And also use that list to mark things off as God begins to answer those prayers. It’s a powerful visual and an exciting way to see God work.

-Pray out loud. Don’t just think it. Say it out loud. Sometimes the words come together better when you actually speak it.

-Don’t get nervous. God is your friend and he doesn’t care how you sound! Think of it like a casual conversation with a friend. And at the end of the day…He knows your heart. Don’t stress over it.

-And just pray more. The more you pray, the more comfortable you’ll get doing it and the closer your relationship with God will be!

Seven.

This is a message from my home church. It’s actually from more than a week ago, but I’m sharing it now because it seriously rocked my world.

The message is all about reaching people for Jesus. How it’s our job as Christ followers to take advantage of every opportunity that God places in front of us to share The Gospel.

To go the ultimate distance just to tell someone what Jesus has done for you.

Those are my intentions for this blog.

Those are my intentions for this life that God has blessed me with.

And my hope this week is that you make those your intentions, too.

Tell the world where your joy comes from!

Listen to the message while you’re getting ready for work or during your daily workout or before bed tonight. I promise you won’t regret it!

You can watch the service here!

That’s all I’ve got for this week!

If you’re reading this, then I hope your week is really good and just keeps getting better and better!

What are you grateful for this week?

Bless and be blessed,

Mary Alan 

It Girl

You know those girls that have it all together? They have the cutest clothes, the prettiest hair, the perfect relationship, the best job, the coolest group of friends…all of it. 

Head to toe perfection. 

You’re probably already picturing someone you know. 

We’ll call her it girl

I know this girl. 

Well..ok..I didn’t know this girl. 

I followed her on social media and saw her from afar…but I just KNEW she was perfect. 

The girl that has it all. 

The it girl. 

The girl we all want to be and have high hopes of someday measuring up to.

As I said, I didn’t actually know this girl. I just knew that she was the cream of the crop, coolest girl that we all secretly (now not so secretly) desire to be like. 

Welllllll then it girl started going to my church. 

MY CHURCH.

“Oh my gosh. Not only is she literally flawless…but she loves Jesus?!”

SHE REALLY HAS IT ALL.

We started making small talk from time to time.

Yep, me and it girl. 

You could almost call us friends.

And then we started talking more often. 

You could actually, maybe call us friends. 

And then…we made plans. 

WE WERE FRIENDS. 

Me and it girl.

Friends. 

Yep. 

We had breakfast and coffee and more small talk than ever before. 

I know I sound crazy…but the whole time I was sitting there, I couldn’t help but think..

“Wow…I don’t even know how she had time to hang out with me.” 

We chatted about school and clothes and Instagram and all the other hip, surface level kind of things that new friends discuss. 

And then the conversation took a turn. 

It got a little deeper. 

She talked about her past, her struggles, her short comings. 

My heart broke right there at that breakfast table. 

I was just shocked. 

It girl was so far from perfect. 

I couldn’t believe she actually had flaws.

She hated her hair that day and questioned her outfit choice.

She struggles with temptation and all the other things that regular people like me and you go through. 

I had put this girl on a pedestal for so long and I couldn’t believe that she was actually…well…real. 

I kept listening to her and I realized something.

I realized that she was broken, too. 

Just like me. 

Just like you. 

Just like all of us, really. 

So often we put other people on a pedestal and our only goal is to eventually measure up to them. 

#goals

(How many times have you commented that on someone else’s Instagram picture..?) 

When in reality there is only one person that we should be putting on a pedestal. 

And that is Jesus Christ. 

And our goal should be to keep moving closer and closer to Him. 

THAT is #goals. 

If you know an it girl, I challenge you to go talk to her today. 

Get to know her…I mean really know her. 

Chances are, you’ll have way more in common than you think. 

Hey, ya never know, she might even become your best friend. 

And if you are the it girl, then listen up…

God loves you endlessly. 

He doesn’t love you for your hair or clothes or boyfriend or body or the number of likes on your latest Instagram post.

He loves you for YOU. 

And whatever you’re going through..just know, one by one, He will put together every little broken piece of your heart. 

And love you all the more.

He has given you the freedom to be YOU.

Beautiful, wonderful you.

He has chosen you and called you by name.

Soak it in.  

You’re it, girl.

bless and be blessed

Mary Alan 

Stay With Me

I’ll probably regret this sloppy post tomorrow, but someone needs to hear this tonight. I don’t know what to call it. 

So just stay with me, ok? 

I went to target tonight to make a return and get a little birthday present for my friends nephew. 

While I was shopping, I ran into a sweet friend. I helped her pick out some bedroom decor for her daughter and we started making small talk.

And then we started talking about God.

And just for your reference, when a conversation goes from small talk to God talk…it is no longer small talk.

She was asking about my journey and telling me all about hers. 

The whole time we were talking I couldn’t help but think about how unqualified I was to be giving spiritual advice. Am I the only one who feels this way? 

I am so super broken. 

And just don’t feel qualified sometimes. 

Ok ANYWAYS, I told her about a book I had that I knew she would LOVE. I told her I’d bring it to her tomorrow night while she was working. 

After we parted ways…I started thinking…

“Wow, I am never going to find that book.” 

(My house is being renovated soooo that gives me an excuse to be messy, right?)

I came to the conclusion that I would just head to the book store and grab her a copy. 

PAUSE

I’m really, truly, so very sorry that this post is so all over the place. Just…STAY WITH ME. 

RESUME.

Walking in the bookstore, I ran into my childhood best friends dad. 

He’s going through a pretty big storm right now. 

His youngest daughter was in a terrible jet ski accident a few weeks ago and they are in the midst of a pretty long and exhausting recovery process.

I thought, “God, please just give me the words to say.”

Before I could even get a word out, he was asking about me. 

What I’ve been up to, how I’ve been, all that stuff. 

Can you believe that? 

After everything he’s been through and still going through, he wanted to know how I was doing. 

We had the best little life talk in the middle of that book store. 

And I know you’re probably wondering why I’m rambling and telling you all this. 

But in that 5 minute conversation I was reminded of some things that I felt led to share. 

Here ya go..

1. God. Is. Good. 

2. Your success is not defined by the world. Success is living out who God has called you to be. 

3. Life is all about choices. And it’s YOU that has to live with those choices…so choose wisely.

4. Things can change in the blink of an eye..seize this day and every second in it. Time is so precious. Hug your parents. Tell your best friend you love them. Don’t let another minute go to waste.

5. Follow your heart.

6. Love God.

7. Love yourself.

If you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and say “I love you” then what else really matters?

I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else who walks this planet. 

DO YOUR THING.

Quit trying to be who this world tells you to be. 

Chase after God. 

Run. 

As fast as you possibly can. 

And never stop.

I’m sitting in the parking lot of a book store in awe of everything God does. 

In awe of all that He is. 

How He made a trip to Target and the book store a total God moment.

A miracle. 

You guys…

His hands are in every moment of our days. 

Every breathe.

Every word. 

Every minute. 

Every little errand. 

All of it. 

He’s there.

And He’s staying with you. 

All the time. 

God is absolutely still in the miracle business. 

If you don’t believe me, just take a look around.

God is so good.

As always, bless and be blessed

Mary Alan 

If you would like to contribute to the medical expenses of the family mentioned above, you can do so HERE

Along For The Ride 

Ever since I started this little blog I have just been absolutely humbled. 

As a writer, imagining someone actually reading your words is such an indescribable feeling. 

Imagining almost 200k of you guys reading my words….

UNIMAGINABLE. 

So first of all THANK YOU.

For taking time out of your day to read what the Lord has laid on my heart. I never intended my words to reach so many.

Thank you for the shares, the emails, the comments, all of it. 

I am so touched by each and every one of you. 

I MEAN THAT! 

I love hearing from you…so by all means, keep it coming! 

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything but I promise it’s for good reason.

There are some exciting things happening with my blog and I’m so looking forward to sharing more with all of you as it unfolds! 

I’m asking for your prayers as I continue on this exciting roller coaster God has me on.

I feel so sure that He has HUGE things in store for this ministry and I can’t wait to take all of you along for the ride! 

I pinky promise I’ll have some new content up shortly so please don’t forget about me! 

I love all of you. I mean it. 

bless and be blessed,

Mary Alan 

Also HEY! This awesome website shared my blog and if you haven’t read it yet then head on over to check it out! 

Check it out HERE!

Dear New Self

A letter to yourself on the days when being a Christ follower is really hard…

Dear New Self,

Let me just start by saying that you’re doing a great job.

If you’re reading this then you’ve made a choice.

“..when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

You’ve decided to put on the new self and make a change for the better.

“I have decided.”

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

GO. YOU.

Making the decision to follow Christ can look pretty glamorous from the outside.

And while I know it’s exciting, I want you to know that the path you’ve chosen isn’t the easy one.

Yes, the reward of throwing out your old self and becoming new is better than I could every even being to explain…

But I am here to tell you that your journey is going to hard.

You will be criticized.

People will question if your transformation is genuine.

People will mock the scripture you use on your Instagram captions.

People will question why you gave up the lifestyle you had and chose the path that you did.

But listen…DO NOT..

I repeat..

DO NOT let what other people say get you down.

Don’t you dare do it.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

This is your special journey and it’s unique to only you.

It’s not for everyone else to understand.

Keep. Going.

Trust God and seek His voice in everything you do.

I promise, it’s going to be worth it.

Making decisions that honor and glorify God will lead you down a path that you’ll never regret having been down.

But even after that…

You will make mistakes.

You will slip up.

You will fall short.

And when you do, it’s important to remember that you are not perfect.

No one is perfect.

There will be days that the enemy will do everything in his power to attack you.

There will be days that you will feel like you’ve dug yourself into a hole too deep to get out of.

There will be days that the world will get the best of you.

Just remember..

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”

When you made this choice, you also chose to accept Gods grace.

And you can never out sin God’s grace.

Ever.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

But even after that…

And this is a tough one.

You will feel like you’re missing out.

There will be nights and weekends that your friends are doing things that you know you shouldn’t.

And even though you know you shouldn’t, you won’t be able to help but feel like you’re missing out.

You’ll stalk their fun on Snapchat and Instagram.

You’ll feel like a loser.

You’ll cry yourself to sleep.

I want you listen to me and know that you are missing out on nothing.

As you know, change is hard.

And your friends might not totally understand why you’re changing. But this is the exciting part.

Show them.

It’s your job to show them.

Don’t abandon your friends just because your lifestyle is different. Remember, Jesus was a friend of sinners. And you should be too.

Be a light.

Pour into them.

Love them.

And I can promise you..

You will be ok.

I mean it.

You’re doing a great job.

Your journey will be long and it will never really be over.

Your battles will start again every single day.

And every morning, you’ll have to make a choice.

You can choose to go back to your old ways.

Or you can accept Gods grace and move forward as a new person.

An entirely new you.

And as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times before…

This road is not going to be easy.

There will be times that you will question your decision.

There will be long nights, lots of tears, and days when you’re not sure if you’ll ever make it though.

But no matter how scary the road ahead may be, I promise the destination will be worth it.

God loves you endlessly.

No matter what.

And there’s nothing you can do to change that.

He is holding you in the palm of His hand and He’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.

You’re growing and changing into an amazing person with the most beautiful heart.

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Throw out your old self and choose the new one day after day.

And if you can just do that..I can promise you this…

You’re going to be ok.

You are ok.

And you’re so much more than that.

You are chosen.

You are free.

You are forgiven.

You are loved.

You are enough.

And you’re doing a great job.

Press on.

It can only go up from here.

Love, Me

Created to Create

I was sitting in church on Wednesday night and the question arose: do you read more of the Old Testament or the New Testament?

I’m a New Testament gal all day long.

Fairly new to this journey with God and the whole “reading the bible” thing, the New Testament is what I’ve found the most interesting, so I’ve just continued reading it.

After I answered the question, I got this anxious feeling in my heart.

“Oh my gosh, I don’t read the Old Testament.”

I mean, ok…my goal is to read the bible in its entirety. So I’m going to get there eventually. But since I’ve started reading it, I’ve just..found myself in the New Testament often.

..often as in every day.

When I got that sick feeling my first thought was, “I wonder what I’m missing out on?”

Immediately, I made a mental note: start reading the Old Testament.

I hopped in bed that night and I was just about to dive in to Luke and I remembered my mental note.

Not really knowing where to start, I figured Genesis was as good a place as any other.

Page 1.

After I finished the first chapter, I got all my pens and highlighters out and started taking a few notes.

In Jordan Lee‘s Brighten Your Bible Study  she suggests when reading scripture, to ask the question “What is this passage teaching me about God, His plan, or His purpose? And therefore, what does this teach me about myself?”

So what does the first chapter of Genesis teach me about God?

He is a creator.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1

He made everything.

All of it.

No biggy.

So then I asked, what does this chapter teach me about myself?

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭

It teaches me that I am created in God’s image.

The very first image we have of God in the bible is Him as a creator.

And if God was a creator…

And I was created in His image…

Then I was created to create.

Created to create.

So wait..God created the heavens and the earth and everything on the earth (trees, flowers, me, you, clouds, rivers, oceans, mountains..just to name a few) and I am expected to create like Him?!

I can barely make breakfast without burning the house down!

I wish I was kidding.

Ok sooooo if creating trees and mountains or pop tarts isn’t really your area of expertise, what are you supposed to create?

By definition, create means to bring something into existence. To cause something to happen as the result of our actions.

One of the pastors at my church gave some really great advice when it comes to finding your creative gifts.

Make a list of all the things you like to do and all the things you’re good at, then go down the list and circle the things that serve others .

And there you go.

Take action.

And create.

Create burgers and fries in a fast food restaurant.

Create memories for the children you babysit.

Create financial plans for multibillion dollar corporations.

Create a happy home for your family.

Create a little blog for your friends to enjoy.

Create.

Never feel like what you’re doing with your life isn’t good enough. If you’re loving God, serving people, and living out His will, then chances are..you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

And you are where you are for a reason.

Embrace it.

Don’t get caught up in worldly success.

I know that can be difficult.

But here’s the thing…you don’t have to make six figures or have a hip job or be a world renowned artist to be successful in God’s Kingdom.

Seriously.

Be obedient to God’s calling on your life.

Whatever it may be.

“I’m just a nanny”

“I’m just a fast food worker”

“I’m just a student”

But you know what?

You’re also a child of God.

And that’s more than just enough.

There are days that I feel so sure that I’m doing exactly what God has called me to and I’m headed straight down His path.

But can we be honest for a minute?

There are also days that I feel like I’ve taken 76 wrong turns and I’ll never, ever get where I’m going.

It’s ok.

All you have to do is ask God for direction.

I promise He won’t steer you wrong.

Just always, always remember…

You are significant.

And what you’re doing matters.

And hey, what you create isn’t going to look like what everyone else creates.

It’s not supposed to.

It is by no mistake that God created only one you.

A one of a kind, unique, beautiful you.

You are here for a specific reason.

Seek that.

Live out your calling.

Honor God.

Love people.

And create.

Create well, my friends.

“I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.”  1 Timothy 1:12-14 MSG

bless and be blessed

Mary Alan

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Single

I’m coming up on two years of being single.

Single.

Without boyfriend.

Alone.

On the couch with my dog.

Yep, that’s where you’ll find me.

And while being single isn’t exactly a death sentence, this just isn’t how I pictured my twenties looking.

Yes, my distant memory recalls, relationships are hard.

But let me tell you something:

Sitting back and watching your friends get engaged and married and have babies one after another…

IT AIN’T EASY.

I so often catch myself asking things like:

“God, when will it be my turn?”

“God, WHY NOT ME?”

If you know me and you’ve ever heard me talk about my future, then you’ve probably heard this exact line come out of my mouth:

“I strongly believe that the reason I was put on this earth is to be a wife and a mother.”

Some of you are probably laughing right now because you’ve heard me say it 3,762 times.

My deepest desire is to be a wife and a mother.

(additionally maybe a best-selling author)

But seriously…a husband and a kid or two will do the trick.

PAUSE

I started writing this blog with very little direction. And it wasn’t until I typed that, that something really clicked for me.

RESUME

While I do deeply, deeply desire to be a wife and a mother, how dare I proclaim that to be my deepest desire.

I was put on this earth for a different reason.

We are all here for a bigger reason.

We are here to bring glory to God.

WHO AM I TO BE SO SELFISH?!

I think sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day things in life, or dragged down by the season we’re in, that we forget what we’re ultimately here for.

We need to pause and remember that it’s our job as Christ followers to sacrifice our selfish wants and desires and surrender…

(there’s that word again)

…surrender our plans to a God whose ways and thoughts are crazier and better than anything in our wildest dreams.

My body trembles with excitement as I type that!

This picture perfect life that I’ve always had in mind for myself…Gods picture is still better!

Way better!

And hey, maybe you’re not going through a single season, maybe it’s a totally different kind of season.

“God, why won’t you give me that promotion?”

“God, why won’t you heal my sickness?”

“God, why won’t you just take away my anxiety and depression and make me happy?”

Instead of pointing a finger or shaking a fist at God, maybe we should ask this:

“God, what is it that you’re trying to teach me during this difficult season?”

Chances are, you’ll start seeing things much clearer.

And while sometimes in these seasons it may feel like God is punishing you.

He isn’t.

He’s protecting you.

And even more than that…He’s preparing you.

He’s preparing you for something bigger and better and more beautiful than you could ever possibly imagine!

God has absolutely used my single season to change my heart. I learn new things about God and myself every single day. This season is preparing me for my future. Preparing me for my husband.

And so much more.

Immeasurably more.

Why would I ever want to rush something that God already has so perfectly planned?

If Gods will for my life means waiting 20 more years for Mr.Right…I’ll do it.

Seriously.

I refuse to let my selfish, impatient, worldly desires get in the way of what God has for me.

Don’t settle for that.

Now ok…selfishly, I can’t wait to come home and plop down on the couch next to my hottie of a husband and share everything about my day. The ups, the downs, my fears, hopes, dreams…all of it.

Can you blame me?

And as much as I love her, I really look forward to the day that I get to come home to someone other than my dog. Ya know?

But until that day, I’ll come home and plop down on the couch and tell God all about it. The ups, the downs, my fears, hopes, dreams…all of it.

I can’t think of a single better listener than Him.

Do I still want to be a wife and a mom?

Yep.

But chasing after the heart of God has to be the first priority in my life.

In all of our lives.

Always.

The truth is, if I was still dating that guy…I don’t know if I would be in church.

I don’t know if I would’ve gone on a mission trip.

I don’t know if I would’ve made the decision to give my life to Jesus.

And that’s a really scary thought.

In saying all this, am I convinced that this season of singleness is a big beautiful blessing wrapped up with a pretty bow on top?

Not quite.

But I do know this:

It was a breakup that brought my sad little broken-hearted self to the cross.

And it’s in this single season that I’ve grown to understand what it means to give it all to God.

Surrender.

Wowwweeeeee.

So on this anything but exciting Friday, I’ll curl up on the couch with my puppy, and thank God for this special little season.

The season that shattered my heart into a million little pieces.

The season that forced me to lean solely on my Father.

The most beautiful season.

With no one else to turn to, my soul finds rest in my Savior.

And for that, I am so thankful.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

bless and be blessed,

Mary Alan