The Light Let In.

Isn’t it amazing how you can hear the same song over and over and then one day the meaning just, clicks?! It’s like hearing it for the first time, only in the way it was intended to be all along. That’s how I’ve felt all day, especially in this moment. This moment of complete serenity, peace, honesty, and a little bit of hurt. For so long the cage around my heart has gained momentum, strength, durability. Today I realized it has begun to weaken, crack in some places (i.e. watching movies/tv and experiencing extreme emotion and even sometimes, tears). Newness, fresh skin, revealing itself under a hardened heart. It is completely scary and terrifying to admit the realization of my true heart condition. I’d been so convinced. Perception had become my reality. I was fine. It was fine.

 

Then I realized…

 

I hadn’t been fine. It hadn’t been fine. What I had once buried had uncovered itself over time. I relate to all those crime shows I watch and love so much. I’m that body, buried deep in the woods, praying no one would ever find and then one day, along comes a dog. Why is it always a dog that finds a corpse? Poor dogs! They need to hold onto their sweet puppy innocence and not see such horrid things as death, murder, and decay! But alas, along walks a dog and finds my hand, my fingers. Rotted over time, unlovable, unattractive to all who gaze upon them and then I am found. But at this point in the show, it’s not just a body found, it’s a body publicized, explored, questioned, and made public to all injuries; severe and not. Every hidden moment, secret, revealed.

 

This is that moment…

 

The band aid has been ripped off, the coroner’s report has come in, brokenness is what they’ve found. Rejection is the cause of death.

Why has this been so hard to acknowledge? Why has it been deathly, painful to admit my brokenness? The rawness of living with a heart abandoned only to be abandoned by others, this has been the mark of my existence. Now maybe that’s being a bit dramatic but that is essentially what it has felt like.

I’m listening to a song, “open up let the light in” and I’ve realized. These are the Lord’s words for me. He’s gently, yet strongly encouraging me, to open up and let the light in. Let truth set me free, the truth of his words. Let healing take place. Let people see the imperfections for what they are. Let others see my pain and acknowledge its ability to turn into beauty. After all, isn’t that what the light does? It brings truth, awareness, and beauty to something that was once unseen, unknown, undervalued, and at times unappreciated.

The world is a dark and often cruel place. Yet, his truth brings light. It brings hope. It brings justice. It brings the elements to life that we desire but cannot conjure on our own. He is my hope, my source of strength and joy, my light in the darkness that can overtake me if I am not careful.

What a grateful moment to have the sun shine in. The beams of light are beams of hope, a promise that more is out there. A discovery that something new awaits. A particle of dust crosses the beam, and what could be seen as gross and disgusting somehow turns into a beautiful symphony of movements as I kick up my heel and stir more dust around. Oh what a delightful community to be a part of, to float along without… and then I realize, “Nope! I would need more structure.” I’d need to float knowing that I was heading somewhere, to something, to someone. The beauty that is seen in the room can only be seen this way once a day. The setting of the sun, the going down of light is an experience unlike the rising. This is what I love. The beauty and quintessential difference of the rise and fall.

I bring this back to the reality of my heart. The truth is, I’ve fallen. I’ve fallen hard for people’s trust, their approval, their love and all I can tell you is, they’ve always disappointed; I’ve always disappointed. But what I can also tell you is my heart has risen. It has found hope and life. After two decades of searching there is one truth that has not let me down. Jesus. By no means has his truth always been easy or even fun, but unlike anything else it has remained. His love has lasted. His love has been perfect, even when what I thought I needed wasn’t what I needed, even when what I wanted turned out not to be what I wanted. He has remained. He has never faltered. He has never shut his eyes to the failures I make regularly. He has opened his heart to me, asked me in, and taken me on the greatest journey any of us can go on.

If you find yourself like me lost, broken, hurting there is hope. It isn’t in an essential oil, it isn’t in a pharmaceutical drug, it’s in a person and his name is Jesus. You’ve probably heard about him at some point but you may never have met him. Did you know there’s a difference? I haven’t always known there was a difference until someone explained it to me in a way similar to this; I know who Donald Trump is. I know what he does, what he says he believes in, who his family is, where he lives. Yet, I’ve never met him. So then I reevaluate. I do not actually know WHO Donald Trump is, I just know OF Donald Trump.

A lot of us live our lives this way when it comes to our spirituality and our faith. We know OF our beliefs but we don’t always know WHO we believe in. Interesting concept isn’t it?

Let the light in today, let your hearts open to the reality of your situations and your feelings, the emotions and the rollercoaster you’ve been on. Then allow yourself to realize, up until this point, you’ve never actually been able to do anything yourself to fix it. We’ve tried everything but nothing seems to works. There’s a reason for that. There is not supposed to be a thing to fix us, there is a person, Jesus. Maybe you’ve given him a try before but it just didn’t seem to work out. To which I would ask; did He fail you or did a person fail you? Because people will always fail, it’s just unfortunately a part of our imperfect nature. And if you haven’t given Jesus a try I’d ask, what’s keeping you from it? Is it the people who call themselves Christians but treat people poorly (I dislike those people too)? If the whole Christian faith happened to be a fluke, would you be worse off for believing it? There are simple solutions to these questions, ones I’d love to answer if you’d like me to [togreaterthings@gmail.com]. Regardless, this I know to be true. He is the light and wherever there is light, there cannot be darkness. Today, and everyday, I will choose to let the light in, even when I would rather hide from it.

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All my love, always

Maria

 

The Blue Hour | Review

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The cover and artwork of this children’s book is incredibly appealing. The illustrations initially drew my attention to read and review this book by, Isabelle Simler. I will say, I was unfortunately disappointed in the content and inconsistency of how it was written though. This book has the lovely opportunity through serene colors and tranquil graphics to tell a more in depth story than the reader actually receives.

The lives of the wildlife are described through minimal behavior and I believe Simler misses an opportunity to explain them further. Simler writes, “In that moment, a blue jay raises its crest and lets out a piercing cry.” I would have love to have seen an addition similar to, “in that moment, a blue jay raises its crest and lets out a piercing cry, signaling to all, the most beautiful hour has finally arrived.” As well, Simler writes, “a blue fox slips through the arctic cold.” Yet, how much more appealing to read to a child, “a blue fox slips through the arctic cold, looking forward to the warmth of its den.”

I am generally cut and dry and do not always add much emphasis when I speak to others. However, to draw the attention of a child and encourage them to see the beauty of nature and it’s stillness, I believe more description and depth could be a game changer for Simler and The Blue Hour.

The other inconsistency I noticed is the use of bold words. One page has a bold emphasis on, blue poison dart frogs, then it’s vulterine guineafowl and glass snails (no “blue” included), lastly “the blue hour settles in, and nature becomes still” does not have any type of bold emphasis as it does in the first page. The inconsistencies would not resonate with a child but stand out for me as I read it. I honestly believe the bold emphasis does not add tremendous value and the book would be just as pleasant without the emphasis.

I am grateful to have read the book and do not think it is unworthy by any means. I just see some great opportunities for it to be even better and impact more families! I would rate The Blue Hour:

rating: 2/5

Check out The Blue Hour coming 2/20/17!!!

The Queen of the Frogs | Review

I cannot apologize for the simple fact of deciding to review children’s books because they always seem to capture my attention and expand my imagination! I actually feel that an occasional return to simplicity and child-like experiences allow us to enjoy the finer things in life and reduce the strain of severity with which we try to see the world.

Marco Somà illustrates The Queen of Frogs with elegance and humility. A balance of earth tones and sophistication describe this little community of frogs. The marriage of simplistic illustration with a vintage touch is enough to have us purchase the book, solely for the message brought to life through Marco’s craft. It is almost as if Somà illustrates The Queen of Frogs through a lens of historical morality. We’re reminded of the truth that light brings. After all, darkness disappears once light enters. We have seen truth brought to light throughout history and this story is no different. The reality this community lives in and the rule it lives under are brought to light in a surprising, romantic way.

Davide Cali is a talented and gifted children’s writer with a bright future ahead. The Queen of Frogs was a lovely read initially but with further thought there are some key elements that could be developed further or perhaps differently depending on Cali’s vision for this tale.

  • The first noticeable characteristic is that it is much like an Aesop fable, only without a clear ending moral. While Cali’s vision may not have been to make such a distinction or include a strong lesson, I personally believe this brings hope and guidance to his decided audience. Children are looking for direction, beliefs, and are often confused when not given clarity to that which they seek.
  • As well, the scene of mud balls being thrown at the queen is very disheartening to read and not one I would like to share with a young child. I believe fully in the idea and truth of reconciliation/rehabilitation and do not support a bullying nature. Especially when it is prominent for so many.

With those things said, Cali does teach a valuable lesson to us; a title does not equal influence. Influence is built through developing relationships, positively. We seen that the chosen frog, who becomes queen, did nothing to deserve her title and instead treated others poorly and with contempt. We learn that if we are to have loyal friendships, working relationships, we must cultivate those through trust, communication, and appreciation.

Finally, through the wit of the community the queen’s influence is usurped and balance is restored. The last, beautiful lesson Cali teaches us is this; what we believe may be our reality could be caused by an accidental circumstance and therefore should be handled with gratitude and thankfulness, never knowing when our situation can completely change. Cali ends this story with a beautiful plot twist that I will be sure not to spoil for you but absolutely encourage you to read at its’ upcoming release!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Davide Cali for letting me provide an honest review and to Marco Somà for creating beautifully, elegant illustrations!

rating: 4/5 stars

Check out, The Queen of the Frogs MARCH 20, 2017!

The Right Heart

 

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The greatest adventure we ever go on is the one we never planned.  Most often the road we don’t want to travel on is exactly the road we’re led down. We have wants, needs, and desires but how can they stand up to the power of our Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega? The reality of life going the way we planned is slim and I can tell you the plans we make are vastly inferior to the path God prepared for us. This truth is evident in so many lives. The road I walk is characterized and guided by one important truth, Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.

The journey to this current place has been marked by sacrifice, uncertainty, joy, pain, frustration, faith, discernment, and most of all patience.

Patience, something I am learning in a new and fresh way, a lifestyle and not just an ability.

Patience is more than the capacity to accept or tolerate trouble/suffering without getting upset. Patience is the pursuit of experiencing peace without having clarity.


 

I wrote the above months ago and left it. Knowing there were words to finish but not fully understanding what they were. As I sit here though, I realize i’ve taken in one of the greatest lessons any of us can learn. God willing, I have learned enough that next time will not be as painful.

Life is always shifting, forever changing, and if we let it, it can be the greatest ride of all time.  All we have to do, is be willing to pay the price of admission. Most of us have felt those pre-ride jitters. Those moments before the ride begins where we immediately think, “Oh no. I’ve made a horrible decision and the only logical response is I have to get off. Right now.” Yet, we stay on, the intensity grows, the sweat continues to pour (if you’re anything like me) and then just like that, we’re flying through unimaginable loops, swirling to and fro, dropping from irresponsible heights. Not knowing if we should open our eyes or close them. Never knowing what part of the ride comes next, only that we understand it’s not over yet. Then, after a thrill, several loops, and a minute and a half, the ride is over.

This is life.

If i’ve learned anything about it, it’s that I never know what to expect. Sometimes I can’t open my eyes for fear of what I’ll see. Sometimes I throw my hands up with jubilance at the joy of flying through whatever it is that’s coming up, because like I just said, I don’t actually ever know what’s happening. If i’m being honest though, I think a bit of that is healthy, understanding that we can’t take life too seriously and we definitely can’t control 100% of it.

There are seasons of obedience, perseverance, planning, organizing, and so much more. There are things we can do to achieve the goals we long to accomplish, and by no means am I insinuating that we should just float through life without care or direction. I only mean, we have to be willing to see the joy through the disappointment. To allow ourselves to experience pain but continue to be a student through it.

That’s why I wrote the section above. I thought I had arrived to a dream come true. The accumulation of hard work and studying was all gathered in one place, in one title, in one community. I have learned how beautifully wrong I was. That’s why I write about having, “The Right Heart”.  We have to be willing to accept the reality of life, good or bad, with a humble heart and teachable spirit. What once may have been, may not be, but that does not define us, it directs us.

I’ve been so encouraged through the hardships, through the failures, through the ever changing dreams God places on my heart because at the end of the day, I realize it’s not about me. It never has been. It never will be. It’s about others. Walking with them through life, encouraging them, challenging them to be all they can be, always.

Let us never lose sight of that. Ever.

Fasten your seatbelt, calm your nerves, close your eyes if you have to, but get on the ride. It’s what you were made for. I believe in you and I believe you’re on the greatest ride.

All my love, always

Maria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never give up.

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Three words, never give up.

For several weeks I found myself praying the same prayer, “God, how do I love people like you do?” Last week I received my answer.

During worship I was thankful for so many things but one stood out so strongly.  I was so grateful that despite everything i’ve done, not done, said, not said, God never gave up on me.  Seriously, if you stop to think about everything you’ve been through and said, I hope you are able to see the same faithfulness in your life.  If you’re not able to see it yet, you will.

It was in that moment of complete awe that I realized, that is how I am to love others.

At times, it can seem as if I give up on people. By nature I am an all in, all out person. Black and white, all the way. I think I get it from my dad. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it isn’t.  Either way, what i’m learning is, being out doesn’t mean giving up. You can have healthy distance, healthy boundaries and still not give up on people.

After all Romans 2:4 says it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. I pray to live with that type of kindness. Not so that people can repent to me, but so people live right with their Father.  

I never want my actions to become a stumbling block for others.

The solution i’m working through with this answer right now is prayer. What a strong, first defense to have.  Prayer changes everything.  If I am able to submit others before the Lord, then surely I will never give up on them, because he never gives up on us.

My current food for thought this week. Enjoy.

-MH

Ad Maiora – to greater things

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The title says it all. We are in a constant state of growing and heading to greater things. That is the season I find myself in lately and probably, my next tattoo.

In the about section I wrote that I had just graduated from attaining my second Bachelor’s and received a certificate in ministry. Such a great accomplishment, but at times the hardest.

Ministry school is not for the weak in heart or spirit.  They always told us, “If there is something else you can/want to do with your life, do that.”  If you’re not completely dedicated to life in ministry, there will come a time the devil will talk you out of it. I encountered that conversation in my head halfway through my time in school. There was a moment I wasn’t sold into all of it and I almost sold out.

Instead though, I chose to dig deeper and found the world around me changed. It was a blessing in disguise of a little pain and hurt. Yet, I wouldn’t take any of it back. Not a moment.

Back to the theme of all of this, to greater things.

One of my closest friends left today to follow God’s call on his life. He is an inspiration when it comes to living a life headed to greater things. He came to a crossroads in life, as many of us do, and I am proud to say he chose the path less traveled.  The road that took him from boy to man. The road that was painful but brought him closer to the Lord. The Bible says it this way:

Matthew 7:13-14, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The road that leads to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

So, if you find yourself going down a road that seems too good to be true, it may be. Are there a lot of people doing what you do? Or, are you making decisions few make, not for your benefit, but for the benefit of people you haven’t met yet? That second road is probably the one you need to take. I say need because you won’t always want to make that decision. Trust me, I know.

I say all of this because this is the theme I want to write on. I want to write about our journey to greater things. I never want to focus on what holds us back, but the things that propel us forward. There are lots of moments where we can choose to stay or grow. I choose to grow.

It is funny because my friend wrote me a letter before he left. He closed it with, “Go change the world like you changed me.” Change. That is what it is all about.  We hope that by our changes, our choices, we will inspire others to do the same.  We are constantly changing/growing to look more like something.  What do you want to look more like? What do your actions say you want to look like? Sometimes what we think and what we portray are different, and we don’t even realize it. I hope to look more like Jesus every day. He is all I need, all I want, forever.

I leave you with this on the first post, are you headed to greater things?

If not, make the choice to change. Change your surroundings. Head to greater and not just good.

If you are headed to greater things, keep going! Fight the good fight! Live in a way that inspires others to choose the path less traveled. You will be blessed because of it.

All my love,

Maria