How Firm a Foundation

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In a few short weeks, I’ll be moving out of my parents house for the first time ever. I’ve started the packing (and pitching) process…and I don’t think that I’ve ever been more sad and excited at once in my whole life.

These next four weeks bring with them an incredible amount of change.  In just one month, I will have graduated from college, celebrated the Christmas holiday season, rang in the New Year, moved to a new town, and changed my last name.  Joseph and I will find a new church, grocery store, doctor, gym, library and friends.  I’m moving from a home filled with loud littles and comfortable familiar chaos to a quiet, one-bedroom apartment with a man who I will have to get used to calling “my husband.”

I’m going to change from thinking of home as ten people to home as two people. I’m going to have to start cooking again, after a couple of years living out of the leftovers from the fridge.  I’ll say goodbye to friends who have lived in the same city with me for the past four years.  For the first time in nineteen years, I’ll share a bedroom with someone who isn’t my sister.  And I’ll realize very quickly how selfish I am and how much room I have to grow after I get married.

I would be lying if I told you that I was handling these changes gracefully. There have been many times when where I’ll stop in the middle of a moment and realize it’s temporariness.  My last Christmas as a Mooradian was a few days ago.  My last few weeks of having all of my family under the same roof are drawing to a close.  There are only a few days left in my engagement and time as a fiancee.

There have been a lot of tears.  There will be many more.  There have been a lot of laughs, smiles, and beauty. More will come. But in the midst of all this hectic, crazy change, the one thing that keeps me grounded is a foundation. My foundation is Christ.

I truly don’t know how people make it through life without faith and Christ as their foundation.  I am a shaking, quivering mess of a person with God’s help…I don’t want to think of who I would be without Him.

We can scramble to control, stabilize, and manipulate our lives, but nothing we produced will even compare to the peace that comes with finding our contentment in His plan.  When we find our firm foundation in God, our priorities began to align to His will.

People move, jobs change and our lives can be flipped around and upside down in an instant.  But God is a constant that cannot be shifted.  He is a firm, unmovable foundation that offers us shelter in the storm. His faithfulness is buckler and shield.

Our lives will always shift around us. Let’s place our hope in the one who is the firm foundation.

How Mary Taught Me to Embrace the Mess

A combined picture of two paintings, probably by the same artist, showing Mary holding Baby Jesus in her arms on one side and holding the dead body of Her beloved Son on the other side. Very powerful!: If there was ever a human being who had it all together, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Conceived without sin, immaculate, gentle, and kind, she had it all.  She dedicated her entire being, even her virginity to God.

And then He turned her world upside down. 

He sent an angel to her, which frightened her.  Then, the angel tells Mary that she will conceive and bear the Son of God. Mary answers with the infamous declaration of ultimate sacrifice and love: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to Thy word” (Luke 1:38).

And then her life was perfect, right? Actually, quite the opposite.  Soon after she proclaimed her Magnificat, her betrothed tried to quietly divorce her, threatening the life of her unborn child and herself, according to Jewish tradition.  After avoiding near death, she had to travel ninety long miles on a grueling journey to Bethlehem.  When they arrived at their destination, there was no room in the inn, so Mary gave birth in a stable. After her child was born, the only place to lay Him was a feeding trough for animals.  Not a romanticized, Christmas nativity manger, but an animal feeding trough made of clay and straw that was held together with mud.

As if her son’s entrance into the world wasn’t difficult enough, over the next thirty-three years Mary watched her child grow up to be an amazing teacher and healer. But despite His goodness, He was slaughtered by the Roman Empire on one of the cruelest torture devices of the day, a cross.

When Mary said ‘Yes’ to God’s will, the result wasn’t perfection. The result was a mess.

I think we have a false idea that when we give our lives over to God, everything is going to be picture perfect. Things will fall into place and everything will work out.  Yet the truth is that sometimes God will turn our worlds upside down, and we’ll find that only then are things right where they should be.

God never promises perfection when we give our lives to Him. In fact, He warns us explicitly that our lives will more than likely become harder, not easier, when we give ourselves completely to Him. He says we will be persecuted for the sake of righteousness because we know and follow Him.

Yet we expect picture perfect. We want the perfect manger scene with soft straw hay and gentle swaddling clothes.  We want to ignore the messy reality of our lives.

The past months, I’ve been searching for a job. After struggling to not tie my self-worth into every rejection and time I was passed over, I finally resolved to give the job search over to God. Weeks have passed, I still don’t hear back from interviews. Calls come, but no follow-ups. Interviews are scheduled, but no further contact.

If I had given my job search over to God, why hadn’t He fixed my problems? I became more and more frustrated, unable to sit still and quietly let Him lead me to the next step. I was demanding perfection, and resenting Him for the mess I had instead.

When I ask that God’s will be done, it doesn’t mean that everything will magically fix itself, and I will get a call from an employer the next day.  He doesn’t automatically fix things for me…instead, He gives me opportunities to trust Him. And that is one area of my life where I could use a lot of work – so He’s giving me lots of opportunities.

Look back at the story of the Virgin Mary. She’d pledged her virginity to God, and her gift was transformed into something that humans deem impossible: a virgin birth.  God honored Mary’s gift to Him – yet His plan for her life was different that she could have ever imagined. After all, it’s not often that you pledge your virginity to God and the result is a baby boy.

How often do we given God a gift of ourselves with a secret plan in the back of our mind on how He should use that gift? Sure, I said that God’s will can be done in my job search, but what I secretly hoped that God would come in triumphantly and open the door to a job opportunity before I could blink twice. I wasn’t prepared for the part where His answer was ‘sit here in the stillness and wait with me.’

God yearns for our trust more than anything. He desire to take the pen from our hand and write the most amazing, beautifully messy story with our lives – more beautiful than we could have ever written ourselves.  He doesn’t promise perfection. Yet he tells us that He will be right beside us, yes, even until the end of the world.

It won’t be perfect. But it will be holy. He is a good, good father. So let’s allow Him to turn our lives upside down…and embrace the beautiful mess that ensues.

 

 

Why I’m Doing My Own Wedding Makeup

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I never realized how much planning goes into a wedding until Joseph and I started planning our wedding together. There are so many little things to consider. Food, decorations, dresses, toasts, music, photography, readings….and that’s just the beginning. 

As the bride, there are so many fun conversations to have about wedding planning. I’ve shown countless people my wedding dress – from the girl who cuts my hair to students in classes I taught last semester.  Any time I mention that I’m getting married, strangers and friends alike love chatting about everything from wedding colors to Mass details.  But one question that I’ve gotten asked quite a bit lately is who is doing my make up on the big day.  

There are so many options. Hire a professional. Ask a friend. Comb through Pinterest and find the perfect, special occasion look. But despite all of the options, I’ve decided to do my own makeup on the big day. And I’m not doing anything different than what I wear on a regular day.  

To some, that may seem crazy. After all, marrying the love of my life is a pretty special occasion.  Shouldn’t I do something different and memorable? I thought about wedding makeup quite a bit – but it was only when I thought back on Joseph and I’s relationship that the answer to the makeup question became clear. 

When I met Joseph, I wasn’t wearing any makeup, and I had on a baggy t-shirt, and sports shorts. I spent the first week that we got to know each other covered in sweat, pancake batter, and paint chips as we worked on houses for the Prayer and Action summer mission trip.  We had a great conversation while picking up paint chips, sweating in the Kansas summer heat.  

Joseph proposed to me on top of a mountain nine months ago.  When he asked me to be his bride, I hadn’t showered in 6 days, my hair was greasy and stuffed under a baseball cap, and my eyes were bleary from waking up at 5:00 am that day.  And he thought I was beautiful.  

I don’t wear much makeup on a daily basis – but it seems to be on the days that I don’t wear much makeup that Joseph compliments me. So when I see Joseph on our wedding day, I want to look like that the girl he spent working alongside on a house two summers ago.  I want to look like the blissfully happy girl who said yes to climbing life’s highs and lows alongside my soon-to-be-husband.  (Granted, I’ll have showered that day.)

So often in today’s culture we focus on looks.  We filter our photos, airbrush our makeup and make sure our wardrobes are Pinterest worthy. But, despite all of our best efforts, our looks will change. Bodies stretch, smiles sink further into faces and set in as wrinkles, and what we consider beautiful shifts throughout the years.  

Audrey Hepburn said: “Happy girls are the prettiest.” What makes someone truly beautiful is joy. On the day of my wedding, I won’t look flawless. More than likely, I’ll have crinkly smiley eyes, a few (ok, let’s be honest, more than few) happy tears, and a huge smile that I can’t wipe off my face. I won’t look perfect or airbrushed. But I’ll look joyful…and that’s the most beautiful look of all.