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To-Don’t List

Hey Friends! It’s me! No really! I’m alive. I promise. I’ve been in a war lately within myself. Everyday I want to get up and write a life-changing blogpost, and then by the time I get home from work at 7:00 most days,  I realize I’m exhausted, just want some ramen noodles and to crawl into bed with Stranger Things Season Two. Then comes the cycle of feeling like the world’s biggest failure. Thoughts of insecurity and disappointment seep in and soak my heart with what I can only call an elixir of shame and annoyance with my own self. Day after day, willing myself to do more, be more, accomplish more. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little motivation, but I do have a problem with self-inflicted emotional abuse. Trust me…been there, done that, have the scars and scary journal entries to prove it. Do you ever fall into this trap also? One moment you’re just wishing you had accomplished one more thing on your (pretty impossible) to-do list, the next you feel like the world’s biggest, ugliest failure who can’t do anything right and the world would be better off without you? WOAH! Mariah, the drama! Actually, as dramatic as it seems I know I can’t be the only one who’s made the jump within the matter of hours. Well, maybe I am. Maybe I’m the only one, but just incase there’s someone out there like me… hi!

People used to call me an “over-acheiver”, I would swat that label away like a nagging fly. I would laugh but on the inside I was thinking…”If you only knew how much of a failure I am. I don’t achieve anything, ever.” I wished I was an overachiever because in my mind that meant I would actually be achieving things that I wanted to excel at. As I’ve gotten older I look back at 16 year old Mariah and I’m mortified for her. The pressure, THE PRESSURE. The exhausting, heavy pressure I used as a tool to manipulate my sense of worth. I thought: If you do, then you are. And imagine my daily surprise as I didn’t live up to the standard I set. Looking back I see that most times I was setting myself up for failure on purpose. Was I addicted to the feeling of disappointment because I had gotten used to it and was comfortable there? Probably. Sound familiar?

There are great days, there are terrible days. There are days when you’re feeling confident, then there are days when you get corrected for one little thing and it sends you off the deep end. You want to quit, you want to run, you want to scream “I TOLD YOU SO” at the world because you are so convinced you suck anyway, why even try? People who don’t have this weird “try til you die” complex may not understand this post. But I believe so deeply that there is a fraction of you guys who can identify with this. “I have no purpose or talent!”, “I’m not good at anything!”, “All I do is mess up and make mistakes…”. All of these thoughts are… #1: Lies and just a matter of a very strict opinion of someone who can be found in your mirror. #2: Connected to your tasks and your activities and accomplishments. Can I please tell you something? And if not you then at least 16 year old Mariah?

Your worth is not connected to your work.

Who you are is not a direct stream from the river of your tasks.

You are valuable because of the beauty of who you simply are. 

I am begging you to just let yourself be for a whole week. Take the pressure off for a couple days, I guarantee you’ll “accomplish” a whole lot more in the freedom of who you are. It’s way better than living under the tyranny of your insecurities ruling your every move, thought and belief. Live from the truth you are valuable instead of living for approval. If y0u’re constantly trying to gain approval through your works and what you can do – you will be depleted, lonely, exhausted and going nowhere on a treadmill of self doubt. God wants you to be free to run on the trail of freedom. There’s beauty there.

On the treadmill, when you make mistake you’re met with punishment. Your mind starts beating up your heart. Your heart is black and blue and broken at the end of the day.

On the trail of freedom, when you make a mistake you’re met with God’s Grace and the ability to learn and grow. Your heart is valued there, your mind is balanced there.

Which one do you want to spend your life running on? Because trust me, self punishment doesn’t really get you anywhere but  alone with scars on your wrist, binding thoughts in your mind, and looking for the next thing that will numb you. I lived in that space for years of my life. Waiting to be rescued from myself, but I would only listen to myself. I was alone in a crowded room, I was blind to beautiful moments, I was brimming with sorrow in joyful encounters. All because when you beat yourself up for every, little mistake you become your master. You become a slave you your standards. You become locked up. But remember, you have the key. It takes you  to say, “no, more”. No more are you dictated by your to-do list, your grades, your position, your job, your works, your status. No longer are you only worthy of love if you are the best. Because you’ll NEVER be the best! (You should probably know that now…) But you can always be the best you. You can always get better, learn more, love more. It’s hard to get to know yourself if you hate yourself. And the beauty of life starts when you can be just you. When you can BE, not just DO. There’s harmony that happens in your life when you can do your best not only in what you do, but be your best you no matter where you’re at in life. Being your best looks like being kind to yourself. It looks like having the same grace Jesus has for you on you. If Jesus is nice to you, why shouldn’t you be nice to you? Isn’t that the point anyway? To be more like Him? Do you think your Creator would punish you the same way you punish yourself? Uhhhh. I don’t think so. It’s not His character, and it doesn’t have to be yours either. You are worthy of love, you are worthy of joy. You are worthy of enjoying your life and not feeling badly for it. You are allowed to be proud of yourself even if you did one thing on your to-do list. You have permission to rest in God’s assessment of who you are. Approved, beautiful, powerful, lovely, kind, funny. You are all of that and more because you were simply made that way. Who God created you to be is who you are. You can’t earn it, you can’t work for it, you simply just are. And there’s nothing you can do to change His mind. You are simply lovely just because you were created that way. Live from that, not for that. Get off the treadmill and run to freedom.  And lastly, no matter if you believe it or not…. Someone is proud of you. Obsessed with you, even. Even if you never did another thing, you are cherished. You are extraordinary.

Love you!

Mariah.

PS: HOW CUTE IS THIS GALLERY WALL IN OUR BEDROOM? It’s a work in progress, just like me!

Baby, You’re A Lightning Bolt

Hey Guys! Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt invisible? No really! Raise it! Now raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to feel invisible! Ha! I’ve been there. But mostly I can relate to the first one. There have been times when I’ve been in a room full of people, a dinner table a mile long or a church gathering where people are “fellowshipping” and I feel so unseen. No, I don’t want to be the life of the party. But there are times when people ask “hey, how are you!” and don’t stick around for the answer. Ever been there? Yeah, I know. Sometimes there are seasons of life sunnier than others. And I know there are times when it feels like people are looking through you more than they’re looking at you. Can I first start off by telling you: You are seen. You are important. You are loved. If you feel like you don’t have any true friends, email me. We’re friends now. Sup.

But seriously, I’ve watched the story of my life unfold and when I look back I can see where I’ve been manipulated by my circumstance. By my fear. By my “invisibility”. I remember times when I felt purposeless, even worthless. Not because I wasn’t getting attention, but because I felt completely without value. I didn’t take time to get to know my Father in Heaven and how He sees me. I didn’t get a chance to understand that I was made by the hands that flung the stars, lit the sun and poured the ocean. Now that I know it, it’s like the clouds part and I can finally see. But even more than knowing I’m seen and loved, something I’m more recently learning is that I am filled with power. Funny to say, huh? Next activity. Say out loud: “I AM FILLED WITH POWER”. Right now, at your desk or at the coffee shop you’re reading this from: say it. Out loud. Believe it or not it’s true! This is one of my favorite reminders of this truth….

“Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite,
greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!

He pulls water up out of the sea, distills it, and fills up his rain-   cloud cisterns.
Then the skies open up
and pour out soaking showers on everyone.
Does anyone have the slightest idea how this happens?
How he arranges the clouds, how he speaks in thunder?
Just look at that lightning, his sky-filling light show
illumining the dark depths of the sea!
These are the symbols of his sovereignty,
his generosity, his loving care.
He hurls arrows of light,
taking sure and accurate aim.
The High God roars in the thunder,
angry against evil.” Job 36:26-33.

 

This verse blows my mind! Especially “Look at that lightning, his sky filling light show illuming the dark depths of the sea. These are the symbols of his sovereignty, his generosity, his loving care. He hurls arrows of light, taking sure and accurate aim.”

I remember a few years ago, in the depths of a wilderness of depression and anxiety. Feeling aimless, purposeless, powerless. I read this verse and immediately felt like God was trying to show me who I am. Illuming the dark depths of the sea. He hurls arrows of light, taking sure and accurate aim.

Follow me here…

I’m feeling surrounded by darkness? “Dark depths of the sea?” Check.

Could that possibly mean that I’m meant to bring light to other’s in this place? Could this mean I’m called to be a light to bring purpose? Is that my purpose? My mind started twirling and running wild with this possibility that even though I felt aimless, when I became aware of the love I come from, He took “sure and accurate aim” with me. I wasn’t hurled or flung from nothingness into more nothingness. I was made on purpose, for a purpose. That fires me up! I believe that Jesus died on a cross, laid in a tomb and then came back to life three days later. I believe that the crazy, almost impossible power it took for that to happen also is inhabiting my body. It sits in my spirit and has nested in my soul. If you’re quiet and introverted like me, it sounds impossible and quite funny to think of yourself filled with the power of God. Surely that is reserved for the confident, bold and brave people who would talk to anyone and do anything. Let me tell you something, quiet or not, brave or not… You are created with so much inside of you. So much of the time we feel like ­if only I had this talent… or if only I had this job… If only I had this confidence… What about if only you put every fear and insecurity into God’s hands? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Do that. Because everything you need to make it happen is already inside of you, just make yourself aware and access it. Open your mouth and command the sea to part. Open up your hands and see what God places there. Open up your mind and let Heaven pour ideas and truths into you. When we live in the awareness of our royalty, you are unstoppable. Because no longer are you trying to just get by, but you know there is Someone making a way for you, guiding you and protecting you. He’s giving you ideas and providing the energy, resource and confidence to see your dreams come into fruition. Turn someday into today, because you have the authority, the power and the purpose to do cool stuff that will change the world. You don’t need a hundred million Instagram followers or a hundred million dollars to change the world, you just need to be aware that His power makes you able to do it. You are filled with this power, a lightning bolt that was shot out with sure and accurate aim. He doesn’t arrange clouds and speak in thunder on accident. That dream in your heart is not there by accident. That depth of the sea is not around you by accident. That light inside of you wasn’t placed there by accident. You are on purpose, filled with purpose and equipped with the power of Jesus to change everything. Just say Yes.

Xx Mariah

Outfit Details… Dress: Anthropologie // Shoes: Zara // Jacket: Forever 21 (ON SALE NOW!) // Earrings: H&M // Sunnies: Forever 21 

Sorrows and Sparrows and Songs

Hello Beautiful Friends! I hope your week is ever so lovely so far. And if it’s absolutely the worst week ever, then know that it’s going to get better. Actually last week I had to tell that to myself over and over… You know when you’re just kind of down in the dumps and it’s hard to understand why, but also hard to shake it off? It’s not really sadness, it’s more just a deep distress… I was reading today about distress, what causes it in people. A synonym for the word was also sorrow and I thought that was interesting because I never thought of those too things as similar. Sorrow is a really funny thing, I think. It’s not loud like anger, it’s not as weepy as sadness, it’s not as bitter as disgust, it isn’t as obvious as fear. No, it’s a silent ninja of an emotion. Sorrow sneaks up on you, it comes as casually as blue melody we hum on our lips. It hangs around until it turns into a weight that’s too heavy to bear. Let’s be honest, especially as women – we’re not happy rainbow unicorns all the time. Sometimes we’re disappointed, sometimes we feel overlooked. Sometimes sorrow hangs around us and we don’t even realize it until that moment it all hits you at once. We get busy and we get exhausted, so instead of reading the word before bed we scroll through our friend’s (and kylie jenner’s) snapchat story, rub some lavender on our feet and fall asleep to the gentle TV laughter of Jimmy Fallon. We do this night after night until one day we’re agitated, worn out and annoyed at everything. I know you know what I’m talking about! And we wonder WHY! “Why am I feeling unfulfilled? Where did my joy go?” I don’t know about you, but it’s usually at these moments when I feel the most sorrow. There’s not one thing you can pinpoint that upset you, it’s a series of little cuts and bruises and exhaustions that add up to one wound. I’ve learned to ask myself… What am I doing day to day to recognize the goodness of God? What am I doing Monday – Saturday that steadies my heart? What do I do at the end of the day to lay down the little sorrows and pick up His big Joy? This may mean nothing to you, but I know for some of us this means a lot… Every time I feel the weight of life I think of these words:

“Why should I feel discouraged, Why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, And long for heaven, heaven and home, When, when Jesus is my portion, My constant Friend is He; Oh, oh-oh, his eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watched, watched it over me.

I sing because I’m happy

I sing because I’m free

For His eye, his eye is on the sparrow, And I know, I know He watches over me.”

Why do you sing? Because you know all of the words on the screen on Sunday morning? Do you sing because it’s your job as the worship leader? Do you sing so that other people can think that you’re okay when you’re really not? Or are you singing to lay those burdens down, that sorrow down, that rejection down? You need you need to know today that you’re being watched. TOTALLY non-creepy way. But you are being watched. You’re constantly protected every time you step inside of your car, that plane, that relationship. How comforting is that to know? This week I assessed why I sing. And you know what? My heart has been so heavy that my answer wasn’t even clear. But I sat down and I sang. Not because I had to. But because He makes me happy. Because He made me free! What a beautiful confidence that should give us! I want a generation of young women who live so SEEN that they GLOW. Sometimes all I need is to be reminded that He’s looking out for me! That He sees! That I’M seen! Every struggle, insecurity and issue we hide from the world isn’t hide-able from Jesus. He sees all of us and loves us anyway. He even loves the hidden corners of our soul where we store our sorrow. He loves you. He knows you! To the extent of which we can live so peacefully and filled that we can’t help but run over with beauty. Today I’ve been buried under piles of laundry, emails and emails, and I still need to grocery shop for dinner! But you know what? I’m happy. You know why? Because I’m filled. And sorrow doesn’t have a hold on me because I can recognize the truth of who I am, the beauty of my life and be grateful for it! When the enemy tries – and trust me he does try – I can combat every lie without blinking an eye because I’ve postured myself towards heaven. But I have to make choices to do that! I have to put my phone down, pick my Bible up. I have to turn Netflix off, turn my worship up. I have to assess my sorrow – what’s hurting me, what’s hindering me? Is it a circumstance or is it the state of my mind? Am I taking care of myself or does my to-do list have authority over my health? “Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:9 Did you know that Jesus came not so you can just get by but He came for YOU to have a better life than you’ve ever dreamed of! He came for you to know you’re seen. He came so that you can sing in the midst of deep sorrow. I hope these words help you today, I sure did need them!

His eye is on the Sparrow, so how much more is He looking out for you? Sing today.

Xo Mariah

 

                                                      Steve Madden Shoes, Chanel Bag, Forever 21 Distressed Jeans

OUTFIT OF THE DAY! Forever 21 Sweater and Jeans, Hermes Belt (Thanks Dad!!) Steve Madden Shoes and Chanel Bag

Faucet Living in a Well Water World

Remember when you were a kid and boys had coodies? And then remember when they stopped having coodies? Leonardo DeCaprio just sounded like the name of an old dead, French artist and then one day there are posters of him above your bed on the ceiling? I have no idea when I first started thinking that boys were cute but I DO remember that I started early…

Listen this is my testimony OKAY so don’t judge me… I had my very first kiss at three years old. Yes, it’s true. I liked older guys, I was 36 months – he was 42 months. I was a rebel, Ok? Hard to believe I know but there is photographic evidence. I thought we would get married, eat animal crackers together forever and be an always-take-home-the-class-pet kind of power couple. But it wasn’t God’s plan for my life and we broke up the next day. My first little heartbreak.

Now looking back I can see that I was, what the kids call… “Thirsty.” Who has their first kiss at three?? All jokes aside I was thinking about powerful women in the bible today and someone unexpected came to mind. Did you know the Thirst was real in the Bible too?

Let’s start off with the fact this woman in John 4 isn’t even properly named. We don’t know what she looked like, what her name was but I do know that she’s in heaven right now and I think that’s pretty cool. She was a complex woman (as we all are). She’s lived a ton of life I’m sure. I wonder if she looks down from heaven and sees women just like her now, in her heart urging them to open up the bible to John 4 and read her story. “Just learn from me…” I can imagine her thinking.

We know her famously as the Woman At The Well. But she’s so much more than that to me. She’s the Woman With A Pattern. She’s the Woman With The Past. Even though we don’t know her real name, she’s The Woman Jesus Calls Redeemed.

In John 4 we find Jesus on a roadtrip with His buddies, his guys went to go grab some chipotle and Jesus stopped to get a drink of water from a well. It was high noon, it was hot – so there weren’t a lot of people out there except for Jesus and The Woman. Now listen, our Sister here was kind of Sassy. It’s true. Jesus asked her for a drink of water but in those days men weren’t allowed to speak to women without their husband present. And especially Jews and Samaritans didn’t speak to each other much at all. The Woman questions Jesus, not knowing who He is of course, asking Him why the heck he has the nerve to speak to her out of custom? I love that even when we focus on the law, the reality of things and the state of who we are, Jesus only focuses on Grace.

My Jesus is a G. This is his response:

“If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

If you’ve never heard this story before let me catch you up to speed. We may not know her name, but we do know her story. She’s had five husbands thus far. FIVE. (I love Byron guys, but one husband is enough for me. If I had 5 husbands I don’t know what I’d do with myself. LOL!) And after her fifth husband she went from first comes love, then comes marriage straight to first comes hot guy, then comes let’s just live together. Looking at her I can’t help but feel as though she’s settled in her life. I’m sure that she didn’t’ have five husbands just for fun… She was looking for something. She was looking for love. But she settled for lust.

Even though the woman had doubts about Jesus, he never stopped seeking to meet her deepest needs. She was willing to settle for less at this point, she was will to settle for lust. She was thirsty for something. She needed something and was constantly trying to fill an area. But when you only consume lust and not real love, you’ll be thirsty again and again. Even when we settle in our life and we give up on ourselves, Jesus never stops persisting to meet our deepest needs.

The scripture goes on and in John 4:13-14 Jesus says “Everyone who drinks that well water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give them will never thirst – not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” I don’t know about you guys – but I want the endless life. I want the spring within, please.

Y’all, hear my heart! I don’t know if you’re single, engaged or married already… I don’t know if your bank account is empty or full. I don’t know if your HEART is empty or full. I don’t know what you struggle with, what you’re needing what you’re lacking. We all have our own stuff. But here’s my question…

What Are You Thirsty For?

Are you thirsty for a temporary, quick fix that will leave you dry and empty and needing more?

Or are you thirsty for a love deeper than any well, a love more satisfying than anything on earth? Joy, confidence and fulfillment?

As a young adult there are so many things that can bring up insecurities and empty places that need filling. I’m learning that only Jesus can fill those places. Only Jesus’ living water can satisfy those secret areas of our life that we fill with fluff and leaves us thirsty again and again. For our Woman that is lust. It’s relationships that make her feel valued. Is that you? Or is it your career that makes you feel loved? Is it your talent that makes you feel worthy? Or are you living with so much undying, unlimited love that you can’t help but overflow with that living water.

Track with me…

Imagine you’re at Disneyland right. Happiest place on earth, no? Ok, you’ve got your cute mouse ears on, you got ice cream in your hand. You’re LOVING life! But imagine when it gets so hot, all you want is a cold bottle of water. You’d spend that ridiculous $8 on a bottle of water (of course it’s $8 because it’s magical Disneyland water) because you NEED it to quench your thirst. You put everything aside until you get that ice cold water. It’s hot, you’re dehydrated, irritated and exhausted until you get that water because you’re dependent on it now. You’re used to it, you need it to function. Think of this emotionally. There are things like that in our life that happen that habitually spin us into being dependent off of that one thing. Because you’re used to sipping on that drink, or letting that guy make you feel good, or spending that check on something pretty to post on Instagram…. You end up dependent on that satisfaction it temporarily gives you.

But imagine that you’re home from Disneyland now… All I would want to do is take a nice, long shower. Wash off that day, wash off the stress of kids screaming, wash off my muscles from standing and walking all day…. When I turn on that shower water faucet – I know water is going to come out of it. Because I know the water supply won’t run out. If I left that shower running FOREVER I would have the HUGEST water bill of all time, but I do know that it won’t run out. That’s the kind of love I want to live my life with. Not a temporary solution, but an everlasting spring of life. One that I could leave running forever and it wouldn’t run dry. WHAT A LIFE! That’s what I want to be thirsty for. Because once you’re thirsty, Jesus won’t stop fulfilling your need. He won’t relent in his pursuit of the satisfaction of your deepest need.

Which one are you living your life consuming?

The Water Well? Or the Everlasting Faucet?  I want to challenge us all today to analyze our desires. The Woman at the Well was so disconnected that she didn’t even recognize Jesus was just trying to help her when He walked up to her. Some people believe that she even thought that Jesus was trying to FLIRT with her. I never want to get that disconnected from Him that I don’t even recognize when He’s speaking directly to me. When he’s just trying have have a conversation with me. When He’s trying to help me.

The story ends with The Woman coming to know Jesus and living her life for Him. She leaves the seen to go tell her friends all about Him.

 Jesus ends their conversation by saying… It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

  • Did you know that this story is the longest recorded conversation between Jesus and one other person in the Bible? He spent his precious time speaking with her because she was precious to Him. Just like you are. A gem, a treasure. He spent time urging her to put down her bucket and pick up this life of endless living water. And more than anything telling her to just live her life in truth and to be herself before Him. God is sheer being itself—Spirit.” We try to fill the places of our spirit with things of the natural and that’s why we end up unsatisfied. At the end of the day, that living-water represents the Love of Jesus. It’s who He is. It will never run dry. But you can’t transform your life until you take a drink for yourself.
  • We must let go of one thing in order to receive the other. Put down the cup of temporary things, pick up the cup of ever lasting love.

So… What are you thirsty for?

I love you all. Sorry for my lack of posts, I’m going to try to have new post up every Thursday or every other! Thank you for your endless support, love and emails. You’re all beautiful

Xx Mariah.

 

 

Photo by @susannaapril

Exactly Where, A Guest Post from Emily Eisa

Hey guys! One of my sweet friends Emily Eisa has an incredible new single out on called “Exactly Where” – I love supporting my friends and sharing with you guys what I’m into at the moment! So I asked her to share a little bit about her story with us on the site! I can’t even imagine how many of you will be able to relate to her and her music! ENJOY! And thanks, Em! https://soundcloud.com/user-459322733/exactly-where

 

One of the scariest things in life is letting go. Letting go of the person that’s walking out of your life. Letting go of the fear you’ve been trying to control. Letting go of who you’re trying so hard to be, and letting yourself, people, and things just be. Because they are the way they are and you can’t always control that.
I learned that when the anxiety I’d been struggling with rose to it’s peak last year. Many nights were spent awake until 5am with my heart pounding, feeling sick to my stomach, just sitting up in bed unable to sleep. I was afraid and had never felt so out of control. I didn’t understand why I had to deal with this, and why it wasn’t going away. I watched all my friends go on trips, dates, living their life (seemingly) worry free. Meanwhile, I felt I was stuck in a box feeling too anxious and depressed to do any of those things.“Why me? Other people don’t struggle with this. Why am I so alone? This is stupid and irrational. I wish I didn’t feel like this. No one else feels this way. Why won’t this go away? I feel like God doesn’t follow up with his promises, because if he did I wouldn’t be dealing with this!!!” (my inner dialogue).
I had to finally come to the understanding that my heart needed healing. I had to recognize that I was in pain because something needed to be healed. I had to be ok with the pain instead of spending all my time wishing I wasn’t. If you cut your finger, would you spend all your time yelling at the cut, wishing it was gone, and getting mad if it didn’t suddenly disappear? No. You would take care of your hand, bandaging it, and giving it the attention it needs. Why are our feelings any different? You are in pain because something needs healing. Don’t hate the pain, but take it as a signal that your heart needs attention and love. Being angry at yourself for where you’re at is counterproductive. Trust me, I’m preaching to myself right now!
I got through last year and I can say I’m so much better than before! My new single came out of the joy AND the pain. The darkness and the light! And think you’ll hear both of those things when you listen to it. You’ll hear the anxiety and the peace. The blues and the mean reds! (If you get that reference I’ll love you forever.)
I don’t understand most things, but I do understand that God is good. It hurts him to see his children suffering, and wants you to be free probably more than you do. He cares about the ones you love more than you do because he made them. Understand this, looks are deceiving and so are feelings. It doesn’t look or feel like God cares, but he does. He loves you even when you hate him. He feels your pain with you. Do not be fooled by the perfect faces we put on. Every person you pass is fighting a battle in the mind and if we were all honest, we’d all be a lot less lonely. The good news is that this doesn’t last forever. Jesus is defending you. His prized possession, his kid. So take heart! He knows where your beauty and where your pain lies. Exactly where. XO Emily

# G O A L S

Wellllll howdy there! Yes! I’m alive! No! I haven’t abandoned this sweet little blog although I know it seems like it! I’m sorry! Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were crazy and super busy for us… (Ok ok, yes I spent most of my time eating pie.) But we were traveling and spending QT with family and friends. But I miss YOU FRIENDS! You guys, life update… After flying home from New York on January 3rd, we got up the next day and headed down a very new road. We started two new jobs at an incredible church here in Houston! For some reason, we have offices which I think is HILARIOUS because I feel like a lawyer with a desk. But we get to serve under an amazing youth pastor, and serve the vision of senior pastor’s that planted this church 2o years ago. It’s so insane for us, it feels like the first day of school. Everyone is new, everyone is so experienced and we’re literally just trying to take it all in! It brings up this subject of “goals” to me… A term we’ve all coined recently to comment under photos of things we wish we had and were. But how many of those “goals” do we actually make an effort towards? On the flip side of that, how many of these “goals” are things we envy? Or things we pressure ourselves to reach and then beat ourselves up about when we can’t reach it right away. Starting this new job, I find myself scrutinizing every move I make. Every time I feel like I didn’t connect with a student the way I wanted to, every time I see someone texting during a message I’m preaching, every time I interview a volunteer and walk away wishing I did a better job. It’s a never ending cycle of rubbing against the sandpaper of my “goals”… But the real question is how do we try to do our best and be teachable without punishing ourself for every misstep? How do we keep our goals from turning into a land-mines of perfection that end up hurting us later?

There are a million things about our inner selves and outer selves that we can point out to change. Every year we make resolutions to lose weight, get healthy, cook more, sleep more. But then in-n-out starts calling your name. (man, that sounds so good rn). What if one of our goals this year was to find the really really really good things – the positive things, the things that set us apart – and focussed on them. Yo, like have some grace for yourself today. Just like I want to be the best at my job, you want to be the best wife or girlfriend or daughter or friend ever, or you want to have the best grades and make every winning shot every game. There’s no way to accomplish every instagram goal we see every day. But set mini goals for the day. Have grace for yourself for the day. Take heart in the fact you’re doing your very best. If we spend all of our time beating ourselves up over things that have already happened – there’s no growth there. When you give every desire and trial to Him, He gives you your place in the sun in His timing. He teaches you, He stretches you, He places you in ways we don’t have the capacity to do by ourselves. Keep your soul healthy by placing your stare on the strengths God has given you. My strength may not be your strength! But we can learn from each other, give to each other.

I know life can be overwhelming. My to-do list is currently two pages long. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in work with no time to play, but these are the moments when we have to shut the door, close our eyes and say “God, I look to you. I won’t be overwhelmed. Give me vision to see things like you do.” Take life one step at a time and know there’s grace for you today. For your to-do list, for your homework, for your #goals. Take a breath. And know you have a beautiful and inspired life – find the beauty and be thankful for it all! I promise you’ll conquer this week with joy!

 

Love you guys! x Mariah

 

Whistle Why You Wait, A Guest Post from My Super Cute Husband

 

For those that don’t know me, I am Byron Rideau. I’m Husband and future baby daddy to the AMAZING Mariah Houghton. When my wife (still has a nice ring to it) asked me to write a blog for her readers I got a little nervous. One, because I have never written a blog before, two, what could I possibly write that she cant write better than me! Never the less it’s my honor and privilege to write to whomever may come across this post.

 

Some of you guys may already know our story, but here’s a little recap.

We met when I was around 15, and she was 13. We knew of each other but were never really close. “Her best friend was best friends with my best friend” type deal, and that’s how it was until August of 2014. A while of months before August I had just gotten out of a 9-month relationship. And my promise to God was to wait on Him, and learn to whistle while waiting. I told Him I wouldn’t date until I was content with who I was and had peace with who I was. Too many times we think that us waiting on God is a punishment. We are so used to getting everything we want when we want it! We live in a “microwave dinner” world that when it is time for us to wait we freak out. Whether it’s waiting in line, waiting in traffic, waiting for food service, or waiting for marriage, biding our time is more counter-cultural than ever.

 

I decided I didn’t want a microwave relationship but a slow, roasted, marinated, oven cooked relationship! Can I get an amen?! All the best food takes time and preparation to make, so why just jump into a relationship that hasn’t taken time to cook? “Whistle While you Wait” rings so loud for me, because I did it! I never “saw” Mariah until God opened my eyes to see her. Your husband/wife could be your next-door neighbor but you would never know because you haven’t waited God to reveal that person to you.

 

Now, a lot of people don’t know this but I was Mariah’s first boyfriend, ever! Which is a lot of pressure, I mean everything we would do together, like regular boyfriend girlfriend stuff, she had never done before. The crazy thing is that I knew I wanted to marry her. As a 20 year old, I was hit with asking myself 3 questions. How do I win some one’s heart that has never been won before? How do I pursue someone for marriage at our  younger ages? And how do I not mess this up?  To answer all 3 questions in detail I will have to write another post, but I will give you a little bit.

 

I would have never known how to pursue Mariah until I learned how to pursue God, even now after the wedding, if I’m not pursuing God the way I’m supposed to I forget or lose focus on how to pursue Mariah. Nobody is ever ready for marriage. Now you can be in a better place financially or mentally or emotionally  but you will never be ready for it. You learn as you go. I’m not going to lie I wish I could have been an millionaire before we got married. I wish I could’ve had a perfect 9-5 job working at a church or full time ministry before but I knew God was calling us to wait that long. You see how FINE Mariah is! I couldn’t wait any more! But I WOULD HAVE. We stepped out on Faith, and God honors that everyday.

And that is how God pursues us. He can’t wait any more. He wants to be in relationship with you every morning every day. He knows that you have other things pulling on your mind and time but He waits for you. He’s been waiting for you before you were born. He was waiting on you before the foundations of the world. He wanted you so much that He gave His Son so that you would have LIFE. I didn’t know if Mariah was going to choose me or not but either way I already chose her.

 

Long story short, we became best friends in October. Started dating March 10th, 2015. Got engaged March 10th, 2016. Got married September 25, 2016.

I waited… I decided to not have sex until I was married and it was obviously difficult! I think the real reason why it was so hard was because I wasn’t satisfied with who I was, and I thought a woman would fill that void that I was feeling. “If God cant satisfy you when you are single, nothing will satisfy you in a relationship.” Whistling is something you do when you are at peace, satisfied, or confident where you are. So if you cant be content, at peace, satisfied, or confident when you are single. You can’t whistle in a relationship.

Learn to whistle now.

I learned to “whistle” while waiting for my wife. And now everyday when I wake up and look over next to me, I see the blessing that God has given me for waiting on Him.

So, if you’re a virgin or not, in a relationship or not, married or not. Learn to whistle. God knew what He was doing when he created love. If you are looking for questions about love go to the SOURCE: Jesus is Love and Love is Jesus.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends…”  John 15:9-17

If he or she is not willing to love you like christ loves us, HE AIN’T THE ONE BOO BOO!

Love is a gamble, but God knows the out come. He will give his children peace in the relationships to pursue, or the ones to run away from.

 

 

Much Love,

Byron Rideau

Grace, Oceans of It

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Just a little something on my mind today… What do you think about when you hear the word “Grace”?

Do you think of your past? Do you think of mistakes? Or do you think of maybe something you need to share with another?I grew up in church, I know the lingo. I read the bible, I know the terms. I sing the hymns, “… amazing grace how sweet the sound….”. But what does Grace actually mean in our everyday lives? You’re tired, you’re exhausted, you’re overwhelmed. Bills are due, bank account is low, relationships go up and down, our bodies are tired… There are so many emotions and things and distractions that happen hour to hour. Can I be honest? When I’m doing laundry and dishes and in the gray crevasses of the mundane, glorious grace is a contrast. Life can become such a show, don’t you think? We try to keep up an appearance of peace so much that our own hearts get strained with chaos and the pressure of what our lives “should” ideally look like. But what should our lives actually be? For me Grace is the awareness that my brokenness doesn’t discount me from His approval. WHAT would happen if we lived  from Grace, not for grace? What would we do if we knew that even if we did fail, grace is the net that scoops us up and props us back to start again? So much of the tedious, regular things in life (that I’m usually using my energy to stress about) become smaller and smaller, and His reality gets bigger and bigger. I’m tired, y’all. Tired of being afraid of messing up, of making mistakes. I lived in such bondage because if I made any kind of mistake it would truly paralyze me. To the point of self hatred and such nauseating, emotional pressure. But g r a c e is a force that not even my biggest mistake or failure can measure up to. No show, no filter, no perception of a “perfect” life could outweigh the reality of Grace being the only reason why I breath. I know I write about perspective a lot and seeing things differently. But Grace is about seeing yourself differently. You were made of grace, by grace, for grace. And the best part of it is that we could never deserve it. We could never earn this grace- so there’s no pressure to try to be perfect enough for it. So keep sailing on the ocean of grace, He’s the wind in your sails, He’s the calm in your storm, He’s the sun light and the moon light. Sail on, friends.

On another, breezier note: lately I’ve been really into dressing for comfort. Not only do I love it but my husband loves it too. I think there’s something so attractive about a woman who knows her worth, who’s comfortable in her skin and also her clothes. I know everyday when I step out that I’m clothed in strength, dignity and grace. I absolutely love this clothing line, Gracemade- because that’s what they’re all about! Check em out. Www.thegracemade.com

More outfit details below.

 

xx Mariah

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Bag, Zara. Shoes, Urban Outftters. Necklace, Anthropologie. Dress, The Gracemade.

Twirl, Babygirl

Hey Friends! Currently, I regret to tell you, I’m sitting in… starbucks. Which is my emergency only coffee shop. (For my houston friends, I’ll do a list of my favorite, small business coffee shops in the city soon.)  I was on my way to work when I got the call that I didn’t have to come in until later today… let’s just say I was so happy and thankful I got a little extra time to myself… Today I was thinking about so many things. I often write to you all about perspective, and the importance of seeing your circumstances with different eyes… A big picture mindset. But today, it felt like everything was just a big disaster. Every worst case scenario just playing over and over in my mind like a bad commercial with the worst jingle you can’t get out of your mind. I felt like a zombie today, walking straight through life, not caring about perspective, or the roses or the sunshine. I just wanted to get back into bed and sleep until everything in life seems better…

But then I took a second to think about why I would be feeling so empty… The sun is out, Byron is by my side, I have a job, I have a family, I love God. What’s wrong with me?

God then nudged me in my heart and whispered “Twirl, baby girl….” It didn’t make sense at first. But then I thought of when I was younger, my dad and I would always spend time together and if I ever had a hard day at school, or even just down in my heart- we would go for a walk and just talk through life. He would hold my finger, lift it up in the air and tell me to twirl. My dress would billow, the wind would fly through my hair, and I felt like a little ballerina. That tradition carried over into my adulthood and no matter how old I get, I’ll always let my dad twirl me around…

I know that God was reminding me today to never be too big, too stressed, too overwhelmed to twirl. Let the wind blow and get a good look at what’s happening around me. It’s like He wanted me to spin to my left and right to recognize that He’s got this. There’s no area of our lives that surprise God, catch Him off guard or worry Him. He’s constantly master tailoring every facet of our lives so that we can just put our trust in Him and only plant our seeds that’s in our bucket for the day.

I don’t know what you’re going through today… what’s on your mind or in your heart. But if you’re anything like me – sometimes it’s difficult to just really take a moment to recognize how much we really don’t need to worry.

So go in your closet, put on a dress, go for a walk and do a little twirl, babygirl. Look at the beauty around you, look at what God is doing for you in your life. Whatever is lovely, whatever is pure -stare at THAT. Glance at the rest. He’s got you. He’s got us.

xx M

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Leave The Lights On, Darling

“You won’t need the sun to brighten the day or the moon and lamps to give you light. The Eternal One will be all the light you ever need. Your God will provide your glory, brilliance for all time. Your sun will never set; your moon will never be eclipsed in shadow, For you’ll bask in the Eternal’s light and silver splendor forever. Never again will you suffer the dark night of despair and gloom of mourning.” Isaiah 60:19-20

Happy Summer, everyone! I hope that all of you lovelies enjoyed my last post. Thank you so much for stopping by to hear my heart today! I have another confession, I have an unfortunately low tolerance for stress. I honestly shut down at the first taste of feeling overwhelmed… Just one of the many reasons I am so thankful to have Byron as my almost-husband. I’ve never seen anyone who can deal with so many issues at once, and still shine so brightly without dimming under pressure. I’m getting better at handling the feeling that I’ve disappointed someone, or the stress of learning how to handle money, work two jobs, volunteer at church AND get ready for marriage! I know there’s so much more that a lot of you deal with on a daily basis, but just to be transparent here: most days I feel like I’m underwater.

When I was growing up, I never had pressure from my parents to be “perfect”. Never pressure from them, or church or friends. Just from myself. For some reason I operated under this microscope that I made for myself. It wasn’t until one random day in Australia, I realized I was actually dying under the hot lights of perfection I placed above me disguised as a halo.

I don’t know how this happened, but in my quest to please God, please my family, please these outrageous standards I’ve set for myself, I disconnected so much from not only myself, but from God. I didn’t want my family to know how much I was hurting on the inside, so I tried so badly to be happy and smile and make people laugh like normal. But in my private moments alone, I was so frustrated and displeased with myself that I would be surrounded by total darkness. I didn’t make room for the light of Jesus but was still trying to be “salt and light” in front of others. You know what? The energizer bunny is a perfect example of what I was. I was running around, beating my drum trying to be adorable and loudly sweet to distract from the pain needing attention inside of my heart.

The light I was shining was temporary, it was synthetic and too bright to be real. For me to want everyone to think everything was perfect and sunny and happy all the time was the contributing factor to being burned out. I was constantly turning my light on for people and off when I was alone because I was trying to conserve the energy I had. Maybe you can relate to this, if not deeply then maybe just on those random days when you’re feeling low. But either way, I am typing this to tell you I’ve been there. Sometimes I still go there if I’m being real!

The reality is, sometimes we feel so deprived of true joy, true friendship and light and we don’t know “what’s wrong with us”. Especially women, I find us giving out so much. Taking care of so many. Being married, working jobs, going to school, holding our families together … We don’t realize that we’re living off of batteries instead of being connected to the source of eternal and effortless light that is Jesus. I was definitely living off of batteries, just like that energizer bunny. So temporary, an external connection rather than an internal relationship.

It wasn’t until I connected myself to Jesus not just in my deeds, but in my faith. Not just in acts of christianity, but in a friendship with my Father. It was then that I was able to actually leave the lights ON. Instead of flipping them off and on to conserve what was left of myself for other’s. When you realize that your identity is in Him, you don’t lose yourself in the pressure of perfection…Because He’s perfect.You can leave the lights on not just to shine bright for other’s but in your privacy with God… He sustains you. His source never gives out, it never dims or dilutes. So it’s not your energy that keeps the lights on in your heart, but HIS presence that does.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

This is just a reminder today to stay plugged into the Source, give up the batteries and pressure and fear of being “on” for everyone else. And let your Father keep you above the waves.

Xx Mariah

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