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Comparison is the Thief of Joy.

I’m journaling my way through Sophie Hudson’s “All in All Journaling Devotional” and you guys, day three just hit me like a train.

It discusses comparison, calling it a “never-ending, pointless competition that no one ever wins.” I spend a lot of time criticizing myself. If only I were prettier, smarter, funner, more ambitious, more adventurous, less boring, and so on. I also think I am “too much.” Too whiny, too dramatic, too demanding. Why? Because I let a boy tell me so. I let one person dictate how I have lived out the past 6 years of my life. I put other people’s visions of me over how God looks at me.

First Samuel 16:17 says “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”

But, God created me. He formed me in my mother’s womb with my hair, my eyes, my body, and my mind. My acne scars, stretch marks, flat, straight hair, all make me “me.”

Though you can always be better and can always improve, who you are at your core is from the Lord. Take what He has given you, and run with it. Be too much. Be unapologetically who you were created to be.

Now, I can see an issue with this mindset. “If God created me as I am, then why should I try and be better?” Because walking with Christ means improving yourself. It means facing your demons and becoming better than you were yesterday. Take your talents and use them to worship the Lord. Don’t have any talents? You’re alive, aren’t you? Worship Him anyway. 

 

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Minted Limited Edition Art Prints: Helping Independent Artists

I’ve been redoing my room lately. I am a boomerang child living with my parents to save up money for when I’m married. Ugh.

It’s been a hard time trying to make my space feel like my actual space again, after living near my college campus for a few years. I just want to share one of my favorite little treasures.

I’ve always been a huge fan of wall art. By that I mean my wall has been covered in band posters since I was 18. So, when I started to look at stuff a little more grown-up (why can I not just be 14 again…), I found a site called Minted. They have everything from wedding invites to birth announcements to, you guessed it, wall decor.

My favorite part is that they are all from independent artists, so someone is working really hard on these pieces, and by purchasing, you are helping artists and fostering creativity. As a blogger, I get what it’s like to have to put a piece of yourself out there to try and make a living, or to at least get to a place where people know who you are. And for that, I ALWAYS love supporting other artists.

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 9.45.50 PM

 

Not to mention, they’re all totally adorable and I am addicted. I can’t wait to get some more to make this drab attic a little less bleh!

So go ahead, check them out, Pinterest them, support artists!

Where You Go, I’ll Go.

Lately, the Lord has been putting a whole lot of stuff on my heart. Funny how when you pray for guidance, He grants it, even when it isn’t what you want to hear. I have always been a creature of habit and comfort, never really rocking any boats or doing anything unpredictable.

I have been a part of the Church for as long as I can remember. There was never a time when I didn’t know about the glories of God’s love for us. However, as an adult with a full time job, I have been slacking on my end of the deal. You see, Christianity is a relationship. God is not a genie in a lamp waiting to grant your wishes. He isn’t here to fix your finances or help you get a new car. WE are here for HIM. HE created US. Our purpose is to worship Him. And, the older I have gotten, the less I have been doing that.

In college, it was easy. I lived with believers, attended bible studies, and was constantly surrounded by a support system. Now, while I still have that support system and a godly man, I have not been keeping myself accountable. There have been a lot of things placed on my heart lately, some of which I am not ready to share yet. But one is to spend more time in the Word. It has been months since I picked up a Bible. The funny part is, I can tell. The times when I am vigilant in  spending time with God, I am a different person. My anxiety stays dormant, and I am able to look at things in a positive light. When I go chunks of time without Him, anxiety makes  its way back into my life, slowly taking over until I shut down again, like I have so many times before.

My prayer this week is to continue to seek out what God wants for my life. Where He wants me to be. What He wants me to be doing. My plans for myself are just that, for me. They are selfish ideas that I have built inside of my comfort zone. I want to be shoved out of this box. I want to face whatever He is going to throw my way. I no longer want to stay in comfort, never speaking out.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing a lot of posts based off of what I may have read or realized. I am going to share this journey with you guys, so that you can hopefully see Him in me, and that I may be held accountable to continue on this journey.

That’s all for now, be looking for more to come 🙂 Wvolkswagen-569315_1920

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My Wedding Dress Obsession: BHLDN

So in my attempt at finding y’all some affordable but not “cheap” wedding dresses, I have stumbled upon BHLDN, Anthropologie’s Wedding line. Well, let me back up, I’ve known about them for ages, but always assumed that, much like their parent company, they would be WAY out of my price range, I never paid them much attention until lately.

YOU GUYS. I CAN’T. They are by far some of the most unique and gorgeous dresses I have found, are fantastic quality, and are just so dreamy. ~Not to mention, it is so hard to find a reliable site to buy dresses online~

My favorite would have to be the Rhapsody Dress, coming in at on $499 (which is a STEAL, I mean LOOK at how beautiful this thing is).

rhapsody

 

I also love the Heritage gown, a little pricier at $975, but with the lace and illusion neckline, you’ll look like $$$$$.

heritage

The last beauty I’ll show you today is the Ariane gown, at $1,400. Lace, a flowing skirt, and a sexy yet modest V-neckline. BLHDN wins again.

Ariane

 

So, here you are, three of my absolute faves from BHLDN. You can probably tell I am a fan of the romantic, flowy, lacey style (and straps, I am a HUGE supporter of straps, because comfort). And honestly, I am shocked at their prices. SO, if you’re looking for your dream dress, but can’t seem to find the boutique style for a not-so-boutique price, give BHLDN a go, send me pictures, let me know what y’all think about it!

 

*this post contains affiliate links, but I would NEVER support an item or company that I didn’t 100% believe in*

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I’m Sorry

Anxiety is an ugly monster that shows up to the party uninvited. It lets itself in and grabs a drink and kicks his feet up, knowing it’ll hang around past its welcome. His favorite hobby is ruining friendships, relationships, and torturing the host of the party. And for so long, I let him stay and hang out. To my friends and family, I am sorry.

I am sorry that I used anxiety as an excuse not to hang out and spend time with you.

I am sorry that I let past events affect current relationships. I am sorry that it, subsequently, puts some of my best friends in the same category as those who hurt me. You see, when I say my walls are up because of my past, it assumes that I am afraid you are going to be like the people in my past. Whether or not this is how my mind processes it (hint… it isn’t), this is how it is perceived.

I am sorry if I ever made you feel like I didn’t care, or wasn’t putting in the effort, or that I would rather be alone. I’m sorry if I pushed you away, lied and said I was fine, or never seemed to open up about how I felt.

The truth is, YOU are not the problem, never were and never will be. To those that stuck around, thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not walking away, even when I wasn’t there for you. Thank you for always picking up the phone, even when I hadn’t answered when you reached out to me. Know that my walls were not against you.

I’m not writing this for attention, or to show the world how much better I am doing, or for you to think I have it all together. I’m writing this because a realization has hit me in the past few weeks. God has placed a burden on my heart, that I feel in the end, can only heal me. My anxiety, and what started it, is not anyone’s fault but the individual who caused it (another story for another time). To continue to live, complacent, inside of my little fortress, is not only selfish, but foolish.

Anxiety is a concrete wall, and the person stuck inside is armed with a Barbie-sized pick ax. Over the years, I have picked away most of the stone that has built up. This last stretch, however, is the hardest. I have grown comfortable in my prison, and that is not okay. To those out there with anxiety or depression – I am not saying you hold all of the answers. You don’t. It will take other people, other hurt and pain, prayer, and time. But, one day, you’ll be here, so close to the finish line, but with the most daunting challenge ahead.

Finally stepping out of the cloud cover and into life. To stop using anxiety as an excuse to not tell your loved ones how you feel. To stop being distant and silent around the ones who have patiently stood by your side.

Anxiety, as awful as it makes the inside of your own head feel, also makes it seem like a comfortable, safe palace. Stepping outside of that, finally, is terrifying. I’m afraid of confrontation, of people that I love leaving because all of a sudden, I say how I feel. But if they abandon ship after one little storm, maybe they aren’t supposed to be there in the first place. I am trusting that God has placed people in my life for reasons.

This is probably super rant-y, and won’t make sense to a lot of people. To those with anxiety who aren’t quite there yet, it may seem as though I am full of BS and have no idea what it is like. I do. Years ago, I was a hot mess. Today, I am still a mess, but more conscious of how my mess affects other people. You’ll tell me that I’m not being selfish, that it is my disease and others should understand. But listen, my issues weren’t things that I was born with. They stemmed from things that happened to me. Here, at the end of my healing journey, I can see that my issues not only hurt me, but a lot of those around me, and that is my fuel to finally step out of this. To those that have never experienced anxiety, you lucky poops, it may seem like the fix is so easy. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to just “stop being anxious,” I could retire tomorrow and move to the islands. But, sadly, that isn’t how it works. It takes time. It takes prayers. It takes breaking down almost daily, but using that as a way to build yourself back up stronger.

Moral of the story: I am done. I am done hiding behind this thing that has consumed my life since I was 16. I am done with lying to those I love. I am done with taking out my issues on my friends and family. I am not going to be a victim anymore. I will still have my days, but I am putting this in the past, and am going to enjoy the rest of this life.

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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Genesis

Every summer since I was in second grade, our family has packed up and driven down to St. George Island, Florida. While the group that accompanies us has changed, that little island still holds such a huge place in my heart.

This year was no different. I see my best friend maybe twice a year, one of those always being on the island. It is usually me, my parents, my boyfriend, my best friend, her boyfriend, and my 15 year old cousin. The week was full of laughs and tears and food and jellyfish stings and game nights (including my mom playing Cards Against Humanity with us, that one we won’t talk about).

But more than the cold margaritas and the always-sandy feet, I am taken aback each and every time. If you’ve never been to a non-commercialized beach, I highly suggest it. After 9 pm, it is completely dark and quiet, with the exception of maybe two bars on the island. You can see every single gosh dang star in the sky, the moon’s reflection over the water lighting up the beach just enough to see that you aren’t about to walk into a chair someone left in the sand. We sit out on the deck at night with my dad and “solve the world’s problems.”

One night, while solving world problems, we got on the topic of how amazing it is to think about what could be out in that water. The horizon, from roughly eye level, is about 3-ish miles away. The amount of water out there, and life that, as a painfully average human, I have never and will never see. The stars sparkling in the sky, so many of them that there is almost no blackness up there, every single inch covered with what looks like glitter. It makes you feel small. Tiny. Microscopic and unimportant standing next to such a powerful force. The warm waters feed storms that have devastated millions. The currents dragging anything it can out to see. Waves that, in other areas outside of the usually-calm Gulf, can tear apart boats. And here I am, I can barely bench press the bar and can’t do a pull up, or run for more than 10 minutes without falling out into the floor. I am so weak and fragile and dependent, standing next to a force that does not care who or what you are.

But, I am more important than all of the birds and the marine life and the waters and the sand. We, as humans, are loved more than any other creation. The one true God that made all of the oceans and the life in them, who controls the currents and formed the land I stand on to admire such a beautiful scene, loves ME more than all of the other things He formed with His words. He can speak things into existence, and yet He chooses to use us to share His word. He does not need us. He is more powerful than we could ever comprehend in this short life. Yet He made all of these things for us, the puny, little, sinful humans.

Moral of the story, You are loved more than all of the stars. You are cherished by someone much more important than any other human.

 

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” – Genesis 1:26-31

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Build Your Ark BEFORE the Rain

Today, we had an Active Shooter training at work. I hate that we live in a world where, at a place that cares for the families of sick children, we have to have “trainings” on what to do if someone comes in with the intent to commit a mass murder. We talked a lot about the mental aspect of being ready for these events. But, 2 things we talked about have stuck with me, and I want to share them here. 

1…. “Build your ark before the rain.” We were talking about being mentally prepared for catastrophe before it happens, so that we are not stuck hesitating when it does. But this can be applied to so many parts of life. Finances. Relationships. Jesus and our eternity and salvation. Start now. Do what you can now, because one day, it will be too late. If you want a healthy life, start today. Not next week, next month, or next year. Do it right now. “Hide and hope is not a plan.” Take action, along with prayerful guidance from the Lord. Do what you can. Study new things. Travel new places. Learn. Grow. Improve. Be great. 

And 2…. the threat is most likely going to be from within. While we were talking about, again, the threats of mass shootings, this took me back to my anxiety. I’ve been struggling with it lately, and I’ve been grasping for outward comfort. “If I just pretend to be okay, maybe I’ll feel better.” “Maybe if I avoid tough conversations, it will all just go away.” These things aren’t true. Be honest. Be open. Tell others how you feel, because if rocking the boat makes them abandon ship, maybe they were never meant to be there in the first place. The only person in charge of your happiness is you. YOU make a decision every day to dwell or to overcome. I choose to overcome.

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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