Oh Hey, It’s Been One Year Of The Worthy Beloved

Wow, I really forgot my own blog’s birthday.

In my defense, things have been busy and different this year already, but I was caught off guard today when I was looking through my archives and realized that last year on January 16th, I clicked publish on my first blog post on here.

I wanted this to be a tiny place of encouragement and solidarity on the internet, and I’m glad to say that it has been a place of growth for me, and I hope it has been for you readers as well. I’ve enjoyed every moment of getting to know some of you, even if I have lost touch with a few as life continues to get busier.

Blogging for me has been a way of expressing myself and hopefully reaching out to others in a positive way. My thoughts aren’t always the most eloquent or coherent, but I’m proud of the way this tiny place has collected them, and I’m thankful for the sweet friends I’ve made along the way, I feel like I know so many of y ‘all’s hearts and they are beautiful and wonderful.

I’m grateful for your time, from reading my thoughts on modesty, to listening to my story about how I became a Christian, and taking the time to read some of my more heartfelt posts of this year. You guys are one of the biggest motivations in my writing, thank you.

Dear reader,

As we go into the second year of this blog, I won’t ask for your attention. I won’t ask for your follow. I won’t ask for your time in reading my posts. I won’t ask for your interest in the words I string together (mostly ungrammatically). However, if you chose to give me any of those things, I will appreciate it. If you wish to stay and grow with me, I will do my best to make it worth your time.

I have 389 of y’all following me in total. I know it’s not a huge number, but that’s a room full of people, and I’m grateful for each and every one of you.

Thank you.

Dear old readers,

Some of y’all have been following me from the beginning. Some of y’all followed a blog written by a fourteen-year-old girl who loved books and creating stories to escape.

She was bitter at times, she was hurting, and she was lonely and empty deep down.

I am not that girl anymore, please allow me to reintroduce myself:

I’m Grace Marie, there’s no more gray in my life, no more lies caged and hidden by pretty words.

I am loved and I love so many people and things, I hope to tell you about them.

I am enough, because Christ has made me whole, in Him I have found my purpose.

I came on the internet a broken girl, I am now on the internet as a mended woman who is still growing up, but I hope I’m on track to becoming the woman I was made to be.

Life is a journey and if you’ll join me on it, I’ll be happy to have you.

So, dear old friends, do you still want to be my travel buddy through the screen?
Let’s go make a difference today and tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, dear little blog. Here’s to many more years. :))

You Don’t Need A Federal Holiday to Change Lives

I checked my notifications on different social media platforms this morning, and at the top of my Facebook, there was a reminder to wish one of my friends a happy birthday.

He went to paradise last September.

I stared at the cheerful reminder to reach out and let someone know that you’re glad they’re here, and I flinched. I had only met this man once but he was wonderful in the week I spent around him, and I imagined the pain so many others would feel when they saw this notification as well.

I know it’s Martin Luther King Jr. day. He was someone who did a lot of great things and so much good in this world, I’m glad we remember to recognize his accomplishments and efforts, and I’m not downplaying them, but today I want to talk about another great man, for all the great men and women that don’t have a national day.

As I said before, I was only around Mr. Spencer for a week on a mission trip for an organization that he was the beating heart and soul of.

I could tell you a lot about him just from that one week.

I could tell you about how he would sit across from you at lunch with a shine in his eyes as he started to tell you amazing stories from former mission trips he went on, some funny, some sweet, and some heartbreaking.

I could tell you about the way he would be wide awake with so much enthusiasm for the day at five in the morning, waiting for the rest of us to get up and get going on the buses to go out into the villages.

I could tell you about how sweet he was to the children and to everyone else around him.

I could tell you about how he taught us to sing hymns in spanish.

I could tell you about how he tied everything back to God.

But… I think I’ll tell you more about his impact.

I wasn’t able to go to his funeral, but I tuned into the live.

“Spencer was my best friend,” I heard true heartbreak and pain in that man’s voice.

I heard stories. I heard about the ways he helped people get their life on track. I heard about his encouragement to others, his friendship, his good influence. People thanked him with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts because none of us truly said “goodbye” to Spencer. It was just a “see you later,” a “see you when I get home.” 

One of my favorite things to do in my downtime on my mission trip in Panama two years ago was to talk to people and hear their stories.

They told me about their pasts full of darkness and hopelessness. They told me about overcoming abuse, drugs, alcohol, and the rest of the traps and immoralities of the world. They told me about the light, and then, they told me about Spencer.

They spoke of how he had helped them find a purpose despite their past and current pain, how he had helped enable them to serve the Lord and His church even more.

The way some people looked at Mr. Spencer would bring a tear to anyone’s eye. The respect we all had for him was more powerful than the earthquake that we woke up to one night that week.

The lives he helped change are countless, some of those stories will go unspoken, and in a few years, the spoken ones may start to be forgotten, but he had an impact, and I know more people are going to heaven because of him.

The world was a better place with him in it, even if a lot of the world never even knew who he was. God knew and knows him, and he helped many other people to know who God was. That’s what matters.

“We don’t matter much,” a friend told me once, “at least, I don’t.”

“That’s not true, you know it’s not. Think of Job, he had everything taken away from him and yet he still praise God and God still loved him.” I said.

“I am not Job. I am not Elijah. I am not Moses. We are not significant like that, we don’t get Bible stories written about us. Nothing matters much.”

At that moment, I thought of so many people, so many ordinary yet extraordinary believers. Spencer was one of them. “Do you think he and so many others didn’t make a difference?” I asked my friend, “We might not know the names of the Christians that have been persecuted to death for the faith, does that mean they don’t matter? Does that mean their lives, their devotion, and their sacrifices mean nothing?” 

We sat in silence for a while, and I thought about all of the amazing people I have met in my two years of being in the church.

I am tired of the world and all of the fame and glory of it convincing us that we need a noble peace prize in order to do good and make a difference.

I’m not saying that noble peace prizes and other honors like that haven’t been well earned in the past, but listen, reader, you don’t need to have one to matter.

My friend was right in some ways.

Your story is not going to be one people go to for application in the Bible. Maybe you won’t have a national holiday after you pass. Maybe there won’t be any books written about you or inspiring movies filmed. Maybe your name will cease to be spoken after the rest of your loved ones pass. Maybe your gravestone will resemble the faded ones of veterans at old cemeteries, the words in the stone no longer legible, just a faint reminder of a life lived.

Maybe all you’ll be is a Facebook notification, an Instagram account that was never deleted, someone’s great, great, great, great grandmother/grandfather on an ancestry DNA website one day.

Maybe.

Maybe if we reduce life down to just that.

Or maybe, maybe, just maybe, there’s more to life than recognition.

People film themselves feeding the homeless and post it on social media all the time. I have so much respect for the people that don’t. Maybe no one will ever know about your kindness to a stranger, but that stranger knows, it mattered to them.

Maybe no one will ever know about the time you talked someone out of suicide at three a.m., but that person knows. You made a difference to them, their loved ones, and all the people that person will bless throughout the years they would have stolen from themselves.

Maybe no one, including yourself, will ever know that the reason someone ended up going to worship and finding salvation was because of a track you handed out without even a second thought.

Maybe no one will ever know that your smile made someone’s day a little brighter.

Maybe no one will ever know that your kind words made someone feel human again and helped give someone the strength to fight on.

Life is made up of little things and small moments.

Sometimes when I’m driving, I like to take a second to realize that all the people in the cars around me are, well, people.

They have lives, they have hopes, they have dreams, and they mean the absolute world to someone if not multiple other people.

Sometimes when I’m babysitting, it wows me so much to look down at the baby in my arms and realize that one day they might save lives, be someone dependable, someone kind, someone who loves others, and someone that has so much potential to do so much good in this dark world.

I’ll never know even half of the names or stories of the people I drive by daily, and I probably won’t remember half of the names of the children I have watched, but they still matter.

Everyone means something to someone.

And everyone has the chance to be more than just someone to God, He has called us children. He has called us loved. He has created us with purpose. He has never made a mistake.

To sum it all up, yes, Martin Luther King Jr. made a huge impact.

No, you do not have to be recognized or famous like him to make one as well. You are not helpless, you have no excuse not to try because your actions and words do mean something, and they always will. You are capable of changing lives, one often unpraised and unacclaimed action at a time.

So, thank you. Thank you to Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mr. Spencer and all of the other people that did their best, that made a difference and touched so many lives for the best.

Thank you to the people who remind us that you don’t have to be great to help make a great change in other’s lives.

Enough

A toddler I occasionally babysit is perpetually stumped by the idea of enough.

Hey, we have enough toys out already, why don’t we put up a few before you get more out, that way you’ll have more room to play?
She always looks at me, eyes wide in disbelief that I would suggest such an idea.

It always takes a bit of coaxing explanations and encouragement on my part before she’ll finally glance down at her toys scattered across the floor and start picking up a few to put in her basket.

One of her favorite words has become “lots”. It’s no longer “I love you” it’s “I love you lots.” It’s no longer just asking for apples for snack, it’s: “Apples. LOTS…please.”

We had a tiny dispute over paint yesterday.

She wanted to paint “lots of pictures,” so I got out her set of washable acrylic paints and took her outside with some brushes, papers, and a piece of cardboard that she lays out on to paint.

Contentment lasted for five minutes.

“Grace,” She pointed at her paint palette, none of the colors even close to needing a refill. “Grace,” she repeated urgently, lots of paint.”

“You don’t need more paint, silly,” I pointed at the still full sections, knowing half of the paint in there was already going to end up down the drain of the kitchen sink in ten to twenty minutes when she lost interest. “You have lots of paint already, when you need more I’ll give you more. You have enough right now.”

She stared at me.

“Use the paint you already have first, ok?”

Her eyes go back to the paints, and I watched her face harden. “Lots.”

I poked a paintbrush into one of the paints, watching it sink in, “Look, enough.”

Eventually, she returned to her painting, and I realized that we are no different than toddlers still.

I’ve been thinking about words for 2021 since I know a lot of people who like to start off their year with one.

If I were to choose a word, it would be “enough” because I always find myself wanting more, no matter how much I’ve been given.

It’s also a word on my mind because of the fact that I spent a lot of nights in 2020 crying because I felt like I wasn’t enough as I was.

If I had been older, prettier, smarter, better with words, more stylish, and with a bigger smile on my face twenty-four-seven, maybe, just maybe I would have been enough.

Those nights still bring tears to my eyes, not because I’m still upset over it, but because I still remember the pain so well.

The ache, it wasn’t anyone’s fault that I felt unwanted, but still, I sobbed to my mom like my seventeen-year-old heart was shattering in my chest, and the glass fragments of heartbreak fell from my throat in the words of, “Why am I not enough? I try so hard, but I’m just not. I’ll never be.”

Many of my nights were spent grieving.

Mourning the death of what never was, and what I realized never would be.

Looking back, I wonder why I cried so hard over some things.

Why did I lose sleep over a boy who saw everyone but me?

Why did I want what I wasn’t, when those things simply weren’t meant for me?

I am who I am, and I am who I’m becoming.

I’m becoming a good woman, a strong woman, and maybe I’m not the type of woman that the boy who I used to break my heart over would have been able to love, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not loveable. It doesn’t mean I’m not worthy just the same.

I can imagine God looking down at me, like I looked at the girl I was babysitting the other day.

You don’t need more, silly.

You don’t need to be one or two years older.

You don’t need to be smarter in these subjects.

You don’t need to have her eyes, her hair, or her smile.

You don’t need the newest clothes.

You don’t need to be extroverted.

You don’t need to be popular.

You don’t need to be witty.

You don’t need to be their definition of pretty.

Stop wondering what she has that you don’t, didn’t I make you fearfully and wonderfully made as you are?

Look, enough. If you needed more, I would have given it to you.

2020 made me feel like I lost myself, and I know a ton of people can relate to that.

I lost myself in the search for someone else–a version of me that didn’t exist.

Near the end of 2020, I tried to start reclaiming the parts of me that I had spent the year trying to throw away, parts of me that I had felt were inadequate and had attempted to replace.

I had spent the year feeling too soft for some people and too harsh for others.

I had spent the year trying to squeeze and mold myself into everyone’s definition of “enough”.

Ironically, the month I was finally ok with saying “I’m seventeen” because I no longer felt like my young age was a curse was also the month I turned eighteen.

The month I finally realized that I was enough on my own, was the month I became no longer alone.

However, words cannot describe the joy it brings to meet someone and realize that they are not just enough, but more than you could ever want, and for them to feel the same.

When I think about it, that’s how I feel about God, and I’m so blessed that He feels that way about you and me, dear reader.

I know I keep writing about this in my posts, but my mind keeps going back to it:

He sent His only Son to die for us, He looked at us, and we were enough. No, not just enough. We were His creation. From the beginning, we have been wanted.

Isn’t that enough?