On Broadway


As most people know, I absolutely love musicals…the songs, the voices, the choreography, the lights, the costumes, the acting *dramatic sigh*.  For as long as I can remember, I have longed to be up on stage with the actors and actresses performing.  Whenever I had the chance to recite a monologue or act in a church skit, I took it and enjoyed it to the fullest.  Speech/Drama class was my absolute favorite elective in school.  There is something unexplainable about throwing yourself into your character and becoming that person, speaking like he would speak, acting like he would act, living like he would live.

One of the highest items on my bucket list would be to -just once- have the chance to perform in a professional musical… not a little church skit or a monologue that I wrote, an actual musical that had rehearsals, special costumes, live orchestra, beautiful scripts, and such other lovely additions.  Yes, I know that it would never happen, not in a thousand years.  I haven’t pursued further education in the field; and only dedicated, talented, persisting individuals ever achieve to that honor after their years of hard effort.  But still I started doing that “imagining thing”, the “what-if” scenario.  My recent visit to Fulton Theatre for “Les Miserables” began this introspection.  I had to step back and think about what I would sacrifice to make my dream come true.

Pretend a moment with me.  I have been given the opportunity to be Maria Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” or Eliza in “My Fair Lady” or Mary in “Mary Poppins”.  What will I sacrifice so that I can accept?  What morals will I lower?  What standards will I allow to fall?  What scenes will I overlook?  Will I say the things (no matter how inappropriate) upon which the director insists?  No, not every musical will have something that disagrees with Scripture, but what if I was given the chance to participate in one that did?  Just as I overlooked and made excuses for the questionable and sexual innuendo in the show I just watched, for the sake of the amazing voices and tremendous acting….would I do that for the sake of having an opportunity of which I have always dreamed?

It scares me, it really does!  How much value do I place on certain things, and what am I willing to do for them?  I can sit and listen to “Les Miserables” for three hours, but I fidget and am aggravated at sermons lasting longer than forty-five minutes.  I know broadway songs by heart, yet I can only quote a few Bible verses.  I’m afraid that I have based so much importance upon the arts that I would be like Peter and deny my very own, Savior, whom I always claimed to love.  This can fall into any area of our lives.  What will we sacrifice for that boyfriend, that job, that leadership position, that new house, that dream that we have clutched to tightly for so many years?

It is time for me to sit back and redetermine where I place my deepest admiration.  That does not mean that I have to give up every acting opportunity, every ticket to the theater, and every note of “Bring Him Home”; but it does mean that I will start valuing Christ above the arts, raise my standard of “thinking on that which is lovely, pure, and of good report” above improper content- no matter how beautifully and artistically presented, and give as much dedication to glorifying God as is given to broadway numbers.

Yes, you will still see me twirling through the house singing “My Favorite Things”, but I hope you will see a more dedicated Christian, a more God-seeking woman, and a more careful person of where she places her truest love!

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” Mathew 22:37b KJV.

That’s my random musings for the day!  May your next twenty-four hours be filled with lots of God’s blessings- MarJ



My FaVoRiTe ThInGs

These are a few of my favorite things right now….


Health and Beauty Department


Sunglasses from Maurices = $5 with Maurice’s card and coupon



Eos Lemon Drop Lip Balm = $3 at most pharmacies



Pink Chiffon, London, Italy, Stress Relief, and Pear Hand Sanitizers = 5for$5 at Bath and Body Works



Posh Perfume = $10 at Rue21



A few of the best things ever invented— Goody Softies (will stick in fine hair without pulling or sliding) = $2-5 online, puff to take out powder and deodorant marks from clothing = $2-5 Hanes Stores, Revlon Fine-Tip Tweezer (most tweezers are thick, but this one is perfect) = $10 at most beauty supply stores


Clothing Department


Adidas Chilwyanda Flip-Flops (super comfy and worth the expense) = $20 at shoe stores



Summer Scarves = BuyOneGetOnefor$2 at Rue21


Kids’ Department


Kids Parties by Williams-Sonoma (lots of excellent party and food ideas) = available online



Crayola Coloring on a Roll (lots of kids can color at one time!) = available at Dollar General or online



Breck Kids spray-on Detangler (must have for counselors at camp and VBS) = $1 at Dollar Tree


Kitchen Department


Microwave Cereal Bowls- lifetime guarantee (can be used for storage as well…always more fun when you mix and match=) = $25 at Tupperware



Four Colored-Numbered Mugs = $5 at Christmas Tree Shops



Terro Liquid Ant Baits (best ant exterminator I’ve found) = available at Walmart and Lowes


Book Department


Gorgeous copy of Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations = $5 at Ollies



Time Keeper (great organizer and planner) = http://www.wellkeptlife.com



Chirp Journal (lots of fun details and prompts inside) = $3 at Ollies



Simply Wonderful Cookbook (first edition)—my absolute favorite cookbook = available online


Other Departments


Chalkboard Piggy Bank (I’m using this one for my Europe Trip) = I got mine at Goodwill, but Walmart and Ebay/Amazon have them



Duct Tape (love this design) = $3-5 at Five Below



31 Zip-Top Utility Tote (lots of pockets and room) = 31 Consultant or 31 Website



Bird Favors = Ten Thousand Villages (each purchase helps artisans in poverty-stricken countries)



Cute Luggage Tags = $1 at Dollar Tree



Lots of great rubber stamps = 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby



Chevron Folder = $1 at Target, Double-sided Tape = available at any office supply store, Mustache Pens = $3-5 for two at Five Below, Mini Sharpie (fits great in your purse) = available at any office supply store



Candle Warmer and Wax-Melt Warmer (no flames…when candle becomes liquid you can pour it into old ice-cube trays and make your own wax-melts!) = $5-7 at Christmas Tree Shops


Favorite Coupon—-


Olive Garden (code 27, valid until 07/27/14)


Hopefully you enjoy some of my favorite things as well!


Remind Me of Home

An Ounce of Home—You’re embarking on a yearlong round-the-world adventure, and can take only one small object with you to remind you of home. What do you bring along for the trip?


Wohoo—it’s time to depart!  My plane flies out of JFK at 11:00 a.m., and I’m bound for a world-wide adventure.  My dream of traveling the world is finally coming true.  I will stand beside the Eiffel Tower, ride a gondola in Italy, climb the Alps in Switzerland, gaze at the Great Wall of China, meet kangaroos in Australia…oh, there is so much to do!

I say farewell to you, my dear friends.  I will be gone for a year and will not return until June 19, 2015.  I packed everything I need for the next 365 days into two suitcases and a carry-on.  There was only room to pack one small object to remind me of home.  Oh, how I will miss home.  I won’t be going shopping with my brother, out-to-eat with my father, or laughing and talking with my mother while I’m away.  I wish they could go with me, but I only have one ticket.  What did I pack that will ease the homesickness when I’m lonely?  What did I pack that will keep the tears from falling when I think upon my dog, my bookshelves, my home, my friends…?

I gently pull the item from my carry-on to show you.  This is what I picked to take along, my Bible.  I chose my Bible because nothing else holds all the love and memories that it does.  Each of the notes and scribblings inside remind me of certain times (whether good of bad) that I went through during my many years in Pennsylvania.  Within the pocket of the Bible cover are pictures of friends; so that I can look upon their smiling faces and pray for them.  Within the Bible’s pages are pictures of my family.  I will not forget my brother’s mischievous humor, my father’s strong yet gentle spirit, and my mother’s beautiful giving heart- because I will see them every time I gaze upon the photographs.  Within a certain pocket, I also keep special letters of encouragement that I have received over the years.  These tell of past events or happenings that have shaped me into who I am.

I also know that there is nothing more comforting than the words written in the Bible.  This is what reminds me of my “True Home”.  This is what keeps me close to the heart of God and His will.  This is how I learn right from wrong and know what my Father desires.  When I read from here, I am reminded of Home.

Within my Bible are reminders of my two homes- one on earth and one in Heaven.  So I will stick it back inside my backpack so it’s easy to pull out when I’m feeling lonely, and I will grab my suitcases and bid you Adieu!



daily postaday

Holding Their Hands


For the past week and a half, I was in South Dakota helping with Vacation Bible School on one of the reservations.  I am always captivated by the wide open sky out there that showcases hosts of stars at night and a moon that seems large enough to touch.  Each time I am there, I leave pieces of my heart behind as I fall madly in love with the kids.

But after short-term mission work or week-long bible schools I feel ashamed of us, Christians.  More personally, I feel ashamed of myself.

I’m ashamed of the way I hold my head away from the child in my lap so that I will not get lice.  I’m ashamed of the thoughts (or should I say worries about diseases) that cross my mind as I wipe bloody noses.  I’m ashamed of how quickly I wash after I’m done holding the kids’ sticky hands.  I’m ashamed of the way I revolt at the dirty clothing worn day after day or the smell of wet diapers that were never changed before a four-year old arrived for bible school.  But mostly I’m ashamed that I don’t step out of my clean comfortable world often enough to be okay with touching, hugging, and holding the dirty, hurting, and forgotten.

If I could step into these kids’ shoes and see their actual lives, I would hold unto them and weep, never once thinking about how my name-brand clothing is being soiled or how their lollipop is stuck in my hair.

If I saw the way River’s mom was too drunk to even know where her daughter was, I wouldn’t care about the spaghetti sauce caked around River’s mouth; I would kiss her cheek and let her know that she is loved.  If I saw the way Jordan’s dad beat him, I wouldn’t care how much his clothing stank; I would wrap my arms around him and wipe away his tears.  If I saw the house that Summer lives in, I would not care about the lice crawling through her hair; I would bring my head against hers and tell her how special she really is.

That’s what children like this need to see- not a bunch of “clean” Christians who swoop through a place for a few days with Bible stories (so they can say they did something for God or have pictures to show people at home how lucky they are to have been raised in a good home)—– but a Christian who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and live out the love of Jesus day after day because his heart is overflowing with compassion and mercy. .

I don’t have anything against short-term mission work and summer bible schools; in fact, I plan to still help with such things because a lot of amazing things can be done for God through these.  But I want to challenge myself to make it a daily habit to step out of my comfort zone and “get dirty”.  The best example we could ever have is Jesus.  Jesus actually touched the lepers, even though they were contagious, stinky outcasts whose skin was deteriorating and rotting.  Jesus laid His hands upon the sick and hurting because He wanted to show that His love was greater than their sickness, destitution, or social status.

I want to break the shell that separates me from the world.  I want to let go of the values I place on the physical and switch it to the emotional and spiritual levels.  I want to serve until I no longer see people in terms of appearance but I see them in the way that God sees them.  I want my arms to be open, even to the unloveliest child.  I want my heart to break for the most forgotten elderly person.  I want my tears to be shed for the hurting teenager.

This is a fairly familiar song, but I love the lyrics every time I hear it.

“Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breathe in the familiar shock
Of confusion
And chaos

All those people goin’ somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath
There’s a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He’s out of work, he’s buyin’ time

All those people goin’ somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

I’ve been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way You’ve seen the people all along

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see” -Brandon Heath

Until It Hurts

giving 2

I have been challenged, very challenged.  I always liked to think that I was a very caring, supportive, giving person.  I mean, giving is my love language, so I’m a pro at it!

Well, not really.  I’m a pro at it when it fits into my time schedule and into my way of doing things.

You want to know some real givers?

– a woman who is busy homeschooling and raising a young family, yet offers to help my grandparents (whom she doesn’t even know) as they are staying at a hospital close to her area.

– some men who have full-time jobs, yet give a day out of their schedule to help when a need arises.

– a young lady, just back from the mission field, who sends a gift card along with a sweet letter of encouragement.

– a phone call from a far-away friend to simply say hello.

– an invitation from a girl (who is working, trying to graduate from college, and facing a major decision about her future) so that someone feels welcome as she steps into her circle.

– people who drop everything so that they can visit a friend in the hospital.

– a woman with a baby who makes a dinner for a family going through a hard time.

These are the true givers; these are the people that I want to be more like.  No, they aren’t proudly displayed in the Hall of Fame or praised in long liturgies, but they will long be remembered by me and the other ones whose lives they have touched and impacted.  They didn’t give because it was easy and convenient, quite the opposite in fact. 

So, I have been challenged- challenged to get those cards out in the mail (yes, mail….not email or text…an actual card to hold in one’s hand); challenged to make that visit to the hospital (even though it isn’t my favorite place to be); challenged to take that day off from work and go clean and babysit for the mother who needs a helping hand; challenged to make a double portion for supper and send the extra to the family who is going through a hard time; challenged to take the time to sit down and talk with the lonely woman who has no one to care about her; challenged to send that gift card or bouquet; challenged to give until it hurts; challenged to pour myself out as a living sacrifice.  Jesus’ time here on earth wasn’t about making Himself cozy and comfy; He served until He was exhausted.  Gladys Aylward wasn’t at the coffee shop reading; she was giving of herself until she had literally given her last ounce of strength.

Giving isn’t about making ourselves look good- it’s about putting other people ahead of ourselves.  Giving is passing on the blessings that have been given to us (like in the song, “The Chain of Love”).  Giving is actually an abandonment of ourselves.  Yeah, it may mean that there is a little less money left for that new pair of shoes and not enough time to go ice-skating…but I’ve found that the happiest people aren’t the ones with everything their heart desires or a schedule that fits according to their exact plans.  The happiest people are actually the ones who did something for somebody other than themselves and gave until it hurt.