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Drive

When I was little, maybe 4 or 5, my parents bought me a Barbie Jeep. I drove it until the battery wouldn’t charge anymore. When I was 9, daddy would put me in his lap when he picked me up from the bus stop and let me steer his truck while he did the pedals on the way home. When I was 10, he let me drive out boat around Heber Springs. When I was 14 or so, he let me use the pedals and steer, around and around our property out in Arlington. When I was 16, he put me in his 1988 Mustang and showed me how to drive a stick shift. 

My entire life has revolved around cars. Dad would put me in the bench seat of an old pickup and let me fall asleep there while me tinkered with his car in our shop out back. I don’t consciously remember a time when I DIDNT know the basics of operating a vehicle. When I look back over my 24 years on this earth, I see daddy teaching me how to drive. 

But you see, he didn’t just teach my how to drive. He taught me how to be a good person, but to also stand up for myself. He taught me how to throw a softball, catch, bat, and change the oil and tires on a car. He taught me how to handle money, navigate the city of Memphis, and the difference between the different years in old muscle cars. He taught me to find a man that would take a bullet for family, and not to settle for someone who doesn’t love Jesus more than me, but will also take care of me because a man is the head of the household. He taught me my worth, how to fish, how to mow grass, and how to put together furniture. 

He taught me that money doesn’t buy happiness, but having a safety net is necessary. 

He taught me so many things, even though most of the time he thought I wasn’t listening. Well dad, I was. I was always listening. Because you’re my hero, the first man I loved, and my forever protector. We might not always get along, but you’re always there to listen. 

Dad, you’ll never see this, but thank you. For showing up to dance recitals in time to see my solo and dance with me during the Daddy-Daughter dance and then leaving to mow the grass. For telling the same stories over and over again. For showing me where you grew up and talking about your dad, so that it feels like I knew him, too. And for loving me. Always. No matter how bad I messed up. 

Thanks for teaching me how to drive. 

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The House That Love Built

Y’all, how wonderful is our Lord?! As some of you know, I graduated from the UofM in December with little hope of finding a job that had anything to do with my degree. 

Well, fast forward, and this week marks three months I have spent at the Ronald McDonald House here in Memphis. Last week, we wrapped up C.A.M.P. Wishing Well, which was full of tie dye and messy science experiments. 

Years ago, when I changed my major from pre-med to whatever the heck it was after that, I lost hope of ever getting the chance to work with cancer patients. So naturally, I am beyond blessed at this opportunity. 

I won’t lie, though. It’s hard. It’s very hard. I find myself wanting to trade places with them. They’re just kids, they have their whole life ahead of them, why instead of playing with their friends at school and riding bikes are they spending every day in the hospital? It took me a few weeks to realize one simple thing: children are resilient. And I mean absolutely resilient. 

The things these little ones and teens go through is something I couldn’t imagine. But everyday, they come downstairs, with a smile and a “good morning!” and a visit to the candy bowl, and head out the door to St. Jude. They play, laugh, joke, and just live. If it wasn’t for the little bald heads, ports, masks, and wheelchairs, you’d never know by their spirit that they were ill. 

Something about kids, so full of hope and a cute innocence, makes waking up and going to work every morning worth it. If they can get up every day with a positive attitude despite what they’re going through, than certain lily I can make it through the day despite not getting any sleep last night. 

This is the house that love built. And the house that love sustains. And there’s nothing else in the world quite like it. 

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10 Things About Me & The Meaning Behind Ransomed and Redeemed

To kickoff my attempt at revamping the blog, I’m going to share a little about me, my life, and the meaning behind Ransomed and Redeemed. Thanks for tuning in 🙂 

10 Things You Probs Didn’t Know About Me 

  1. I’m not named after Bob Marley OR the dog from Marley and Me (yes, people ask, even though I was in 8th grade when the book came out). Marley was my momma’s maiden name, and it was my dad’s idea to keep it as my first name. 
  2. I have seen maybe 4 movies ever. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but seriously there are SO MANY movies I haven’t seen. My boyfriend gives the “Are you serious?” look quite a bit when he learns I haven’t seen things like Star Wars (which he introduced me to… I am now a fan), the Hangover, Stepbrothers, etc (all of which he made me watch. Because culture.) 
  3. I can eat a large pizza solo in one sitting. Not all the time, I do think health is important, but if I’m hungry, I’ll throw down with some ham and pineapple. *PINEAPPLE DOES GO ON PIZZA. 
  4. I started college Pre-Med Biology. Ended up Journalism/PR. Yeah, idk how that happened either. 
  5. I was a competitive dancer for 18 years, and in my last competition, placed in the top 25 nationally for a solo I didn’t think would get far. I’d give anything to be back out on the stage and in the studio one more time, but my company kicked butt for our last nationals, and I am still living in those glory days (cerca 2012).
  6. Speaking of dance, I can perform an entire 15 minute production with no back-stage breaks and be fine, but I can’t run for more than 30 seconds without dying. Idk what’s up with that. 
  7. I want to be a professional wedding planner. But, I feel like I need to plan my own wedding first to prove to potential clients I can do it, and seeing as I’m not engaged, it’ll be a while before that kickstarts. BUT no fear, I’ll be talking about wedding things quite a bit on the blog! 
  8. I hate lists and am really awful at making them. 
  9. I have anxiety. Sometimes it’s intense, others it can go months without surfacing. I was in an abusive relationship and have spent years building “me” back up. The past 2 years have been my best yet, and I want to be an advocate to young people going through what I did, letting them know that it will get better, there is help, and your self worth is not defined by a person who doesn’t respect you as a human. 
  10. Shout out to God for pulling me through #9. My relationship with Him has grown immensely since then, and He is my all. 

Now, if you’re still with me, let’s talk about what ransomed and redeemed means! 

A few years ago, my roomate Kara wanted a tattoo. Me, being the ink fan that I am, was all on board and went with her. A small, simple word on the outside of her foot. “Ransomed.” It was never a word I paid much attention to before. But now, it means everything. 

Ransom means the release of a prisoner by making the demanded payment. God loves us so much, that He covered our payment for our sins and saved us from certain death by sacrificing His Son, himself, in our place. We were bought with the blood of Christ and set free. How beautiful is life knowing we are cared about at such a magnificent scale! 

Redeem, similarly, means to compensate for the faults of something. Like before, Jesus has washed our souls white as snow, and cleared away our faults. 

These two little words are my daily drive to better than I was yesterday, to strive to live like Jesus in all that I do. 
And there you have it, folks! Me, my blog, and my Jesus! 

See ya next time! 

Mar

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24 Day Challenge: Day 3

Hi peeps! I know I’ve been MIA for a while, I got my dream job at my dream foundation. But I’m back and ready to roll (or write. Whatever)
Three days ago, I started Advocare’s 24 Day Challege. A sweet friend of mine is a distributor and it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while. What I like most about it is that it IS NOT A CRASH DIET. It isn’t even really a diet. Eating during the challenge (and in life) is super duper important, and undereating can be just as bad as eating all junk.

So far, I’ve eaten a lot of eggs, turkey, raw veggies and fruits, and wheat bread. TBH, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything differently than normal (though my normal diet is chicken nuggets and tacos). I feel energized, full, and am consuming more calories than I did beforehand. I haven’t exercised at the gym yet, but it’s been Camp week at the Ronald McDonald House, so my steps have been averaging way over 10k a day and a lot of that has been sprinting around to get what we need for the kiddos, so I’ve counted that as exercise (partly because I’ve been to sleepy at the end of the day to do anything other than Netflix).

Now the weight question. Starting this, I was 138.8 pounds. I’m not big, but I never have been. However, I was a competitive dancer for 18 years and a new desk job has taken its toll. This morning, I was at 136. I’m not interested in losing weight fast, I’m interested in being healthy. But dropping a few pounds is fine by me (gross fact: the first phase makes you go to the bathroom ALOT so that’s probs where the 2 pounds came from).

I’m excited to see where I’m at in a few weeks with exercise and finding more foods that I enjoy. Stay tuned.
Xoxo

Mar

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Good Enough

Fresh out of college, the entire world at my feet. All I have to do is walk through the door. It’s open, waiting, full of opportunity and promise.  But I stand, stuck, afraid to put one foot in front of the other. Afraid of not being good enough.

For five and a half years, all I wanted was to graduate, get married, and start my family. Five and a half years later, I realize that the latter two take money and stability. So, as a recent college grad ready to get my life together, I will admit, my life is nowhere near “together.” If I get through day without crying, I consider it a good day. I dreamed that the day I got my diploma, life would fall into place and be easy. Oh if I could go back and tell young Mar how idiotic that idea was. Graduation is not a magical moment that gently drops you into adulthood. It tosses you out on the curb with nothing but the clothes on your back and five bucks. And let’s not even start on trying to find a job. That’s a different story for a different day.

You’re probably wondering why I’m babbling on to you about my problems, and that’s because I know I’m not the only recent grad experiencing some sort of post-college depression. You’re not alone. Though it may feel like you’re running on a treadmill with a carrot dangled in front of your face, you are okay. You are enough. You matter, you are loved, and you are going to be great.

That was my turning point, recently. My boyfriend, who is my best friend and my rock, said three simple words to me (that one of his students said to him). “Be great today.” Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Right now. Today. 15 short minutes is all it takes to become greater than you were yesterday. Use this time of lost-ness to learn and master skills, establish yourself, and become someone that is great. Though you may feel like nothing you are doing is right, keep doing it. Keeping working every single dang day to be GREAT.

Don’t worry about being good enough, as long as you are investing time into making yourself great.

I want to be a person that my parents are proud of, and I want to grow into a person that my future children look up to. I can’t do that sitting idle during every ounce of my free time.

So to all of you college grads stuck in a limbo between college life and adulthood…

Get up. Get out. Be great.

15 Years

We wake up today, on a sunny Sunday morning. We go out for the paper, we drink our k-cup coffee, we scroll through our emails and social media feeds on our smart phones. We get in the car and head to church, to the grocery store, to wherever we have to go in our busy lives.

But today… Today is different. Today, we feel a strange, ominous sadness. And behind that sadness, is a little bit of pride. Today, we remember 15 years ago. We remember the day the towers fell and so many innocent souls were lost to the worst kind of evil in this world. We remember every movement we made that morning, and it still lingers as we go through our days now, in 2016, 15 years later.

Me, I was in second grade. I had no concept of “evil,” outside of knowing not to talk to strangers or get in the car with strange men. I thought people were, generally, good. I had a childish hope that everything was always going to be okay. As I grabbed my bag to head to the school bus, there it was. On TV. Headlines, “Breaking News” banners, and news anchors that weren’t exactly sure what to say or how to act. A building, smoke coming out of the side, and wide-eyed men and women just saying “I think a plane just hit the World Trade Center….” At the time, there was still speculation that it was an accident. I’m in the central timezone, so it wasn’t until I was on the bus, laughing with my friends, that the second plane hit.

By the time we got to school, all of the rooms had those TV carts in them. We were all rolling with excitement, because those carts usually meant movies and free days. But no. Not today. Today they meant the biggest turning point in modern American history. Today, they meant that the county we had grown up to love and have hope for was about to begin a downward spiral that, 15 years later, has still not seemed to level out. Today, those TVs meant that me and all of my young, naive friends, were about to have to grow up, quickly.

I remember my teacher trying to explain to us what had happened. Using words like “bad guys,” “mean people,” and the word “hijacked,” which I had never heard before. So, in my little mind, I was processing the fact that bad guys had run planes into both towers, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field. A few hours earlier, my biggest worry was whether or not my mom had packed my cosmic brownie in my lunch box, but now, I was worried about “terrorists,” a word I could hardly pronounce, and war… something I hadn’t seen in my lifetime.

15 years ago, everything changed. America changed. The world changed. I would like to say that we have become stronger because of it, but we have not. The direction our government has taken this country is one I am not proud of. We have been made out as weak and vulnerable, with a president that apologized to other countries for our strength.

I will never apologize for being an American.

I Tried (and failed) to Make Something Go Viral

SO, some of you stumbled upon my last post (which you can find again here). If you did, congrats! You aided in my homework to make something go viral. Yes, I was assigned by my Advanced Social Media professor to give “viral” a shot. Here’s how that went…

  1. Making something go viral is hard. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of patience. It takes persistence and constantly pushing your post or product. Unless you just happen to accidentally film something great, or happen to have your tweet about your Papaw and his burgers get passed around quicker than the flu, you’re going to have to work at it. Therefore, if you are a business or a company trying to gain popularity by creating “viral” content, don’t expect to post it and be done. Expect to have to post and promote.
  2. I tweeted a link and posted it to Facebook a few times over the last week and a half. In all, I’d say it was successful for driving more traffic to my page, but I by no means was viral. My posts usually get around 20 views, this particular one got well over 100, Facebook shares, and other interactions I don’t usually see. If the content had been better, or I had pushed it to my audience more, I feel that it would have eventually gotten spread some more.
  3. I’m still just fascinated by the fact that social media and “sharing” can grow your audience across the oceans. I had views from Germany, Great Britain, Kenya, and Madagascar. How those people came across my little blog, I haven’t a clue. But it speaks volumes to how powerful social media is, especially when trying to grow an audience or gather consumers outside of your geographical location.

We all see viral content daily, and most of us share things. I usually stick to pleasant, funny puppy videos, things about sea otters, and the occasional political meme. For me, I share things that:

  1. Are true.
  2. Contain correct grammar.
  3. Are visually appealing.
  4. I  agree with.

Knowing your audience is key. We all are capable of producing correct sentences in a visually appealing way and fact-checking them to insure what we are saying is true, but you HAVE HAVE HAVE to produce content your audience is going to WANT to share. To do that, study analytics like it’s the most important final of your life and get to know the people you are trying to engage with.

 

To conclude, this was a fun assignment and I learned a lot more than I thought I would have. Watch out social media world, I’m coming for ya.

I Wear Make Up, And That’s Okay.

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Lately, I’ve come across way too many of the “take her swimming on the first date” memes. I’ve also seen many posts by women saying things like “I don’t have to highlight and contour because I’m not ugly,” and I feel like once again, we need to set the record straight.

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Seriously, y’all? No. Just no.

Women do not wear make up to please men.

Let me repeat that.

Women. Do. Not. Wear. Make up. To. Please. Men.

We also don’t wear make up to please each other. But we do, however, wear make up for ourselves.

Who I am is so much deeper than what’s on my face.

I am a daughter, a friend, and a girlfriend. I am a Christian, a peacemaker, and a giver. I am sarcastic, witty, and shy. I am a tomboy, I can change my own oil and rotate my own tires, and I’m stubbornly independent. And for any male to try and put me in a box based on what I decide to put or not put on my face is ludicrous.

I wear make up because I enjoy putting it on. I like playing with new products and techniques (there’s nothing better than a fresh eyeshadow pallet). I like the way I look when I’m done. I, personally, look put-together and more professional. I feel more confident. I feel like I’m a little closer to Beyonce. I do not wear make up to please men. The only males I owe anything to are Jesus, my father, and my boyfriend, and I’m pretty sure the three of them give zero craps.

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I am not superficial, shallow, or stuck-up. I am not unintelligent, incapable, or fragile. And I am certainly not a “liar” (sorry, guys, if you actually think women have sparkly eyelids and black lines across our lashes).

I am blessed enough to have a boyfriend that couldn’t care less whether or not I wear make up. A man that never asked, never mentioned it, and when I finally hung out without it on, didn’t say a word except to tell me I was still beautiful. I’m one of the lucky ones.

But, I’ve been on the opposite, not-so-lucky end as well with a guy who wouldn’t take me out if I didn’t “try” hard enough. Ladies, never let a man (or another woman) degrade you for how you chose to wear your face. Want to go all natural? You go, girl. Want to wear a face full of MAC? Go rock it. You owe nothing to anybody, except to be yourself.

Ladies, don’t tear down other women because of their choice to wear  or not wear make up. If it’s not your face, its not your concern. We should be more concerned with bettering ourselves and each other intellectually and spiritually than whether or not Suzy next door has mastered the blended shadow or not.

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The point of all of this is- looks only go so far. Your soul is what people are going to be attracted to. Who you are on the inside is something that no amount of make up or not-make up could ever cover up. Let people get to know you, whether that includes a little eyeliner or not.

Whether or not a woman choses to throw on a contour or not has nothing to do with who she is as a human being. Wearing or not wearing make up also does not make one better than another. Of all the things going on in the world, the last thing we should be worried about is a little winged liner and some bomb brows. So let’s stop the hating, shall we?

 

And On the Eighth Day, God Made Dry Shampoo

So, as most of you precious souls that follow me know, I am currently on a hair journey I have never been on before: the journey from black to blonde. Ash blonde, to be exact. And, if you’ve been on this journey before, you know how difficult that journey may be.

So far, I have used a combination of hair color remover (One ‘N Only Color Fix), bleach (L’Oreal Paris Feria), toner (Wella Color Charm Toner in T18), and packets of Ardell’s Red Gold Corrector Plus) along with lots of purple shampoo (Ion). Apparently, my hair wants to hold on to the gold. These products have done wonders on removing the awful brassy tones, yet the golden blonde remains. Pretty? Yes. What I’m looking for? Not quite.

The day after I tone and dye, it looks perfect. Exactly what I’m going for. The day after that? The golden tint is back. But alas, I have found an easy solution: DRY. SHAMPOO. You guys, this stuff works wonders. No time for a shower? Dry shampoo. Need a little extra oomph of volume? Dry shampoo. Boyfriend break up with you? Dry shampoo. Okay, that last one was a stretch, but this stuff really is the most versatile hair product you could buy.

Dry shampoo, to put it simply, is aerosol baby powder. If you’ve ever sprayed normal, un-colored kind on dark hair, you know what it does. It never fails to leave behind a grey, dusty color. BUT WAIT…. If we want golden blonde to look ashy, that’s exactly what we need, right? RIGHT! In between colors, on the days you’re extra-gold, a little bit of dry shampoo after you style can add grey, ash tones. Quick. Easy. And another reason we LOVE dry shampoo.

Woah, Did I Just Say I Liked a Drugstore Foundation?!

So let’s start by saying I HATE drugstore foundation, with the exception of NYX (because almost everything they make is brilliant). I have lived my adult-ish years believing that since I have oily, acne-prone, awful skin, I HAVE to pay an arm, a leg, my soul, and half a month’s rent to get a foundation that will stick with me throughout the day and not look like a goopy plastic mask.

I am here today to tell you, I was incredibly wrong. Recently, in a bit of a money crunch, I purchased a foundation I had used years ago in high school when I didn’t know what “moisturizer” or “primer” were. I have recently been switching between MAC’s Studio Sculpt foundation (the cream one in the compact) and Sephora’s Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation. Recently, my beloved MAC foundation has been sliding off, caking to dry patches, and just not looking as good as it has been the last few months. So, I set out to find a drugstore replacement for days when I don’t want to use my name brand products.

Now to the good stuff, years ago, I used CoverGirl’s Simply Ageless (the wrinkle-reducer one in the glass container with the compact sponge on top…. stay with me here..) because I had left my makeup at home on a trip and it’s what my mom had with her.

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I loved it at first, but it just didn’t stay on and looked so bad after a few hours. I decided to give it another try, since I have become a fan of cream foundations recently. OH MY GOSH. You guys, I use a Rimmel primer, this foundation (that has Olay in it, so I don’t use a separate moisturizer because of my oily skin), and Kat Von D Lock n’ Load setting spray, and when I tell you I barely have to touch it up during the day, I mean I can go from 9 a.m. to well after 10 p.m. with just an oil blotter or two and the occasional powder touch up. With the right primer for your skin, this foundation goes on so smooth and even, is easily buildable for trouble ahead, without being too cakey, and on my areas that aren’t broken out (recently, I’ve broken out on my cheeks, but my nose and surrounding area have stayed perfectly clear), it looks absolutely flawless. On my areas that are broken out, I use some concealer and this covers them wonderfully (sure, you can still see the bumps, but it covers the redness better than anything else I’ve used). And, most importantly, it hasn’t made my break-out worse. If anything, my skin is starting to calm down after using this foundation and a new skin care system I found from Say Yes to Tomatos (a funny little brand you can find at Target).

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So, if you’re in the market for a good, quick, and easy drugstore dupe (or more like replacement, considering how much better it is) for MAC Studio Sculpt, I would HIGHLY recommend CoverGirl’s Simply Ageless wrinkle-reducer foundation. It’s incredibly guys, seriously.

Got any other drugstore foundations you love? Drop it in the comments!

-Mar