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Christmas Caroling for the Soul

Haute Bride Christmas Dinner at Aldo's on Tuesday December 20th.  I love these ladies (we call each other the sparkle mafia). So blessed to know them, work alongside them, and call them friends.  My boss Lindsie (third back on the left hand side) treated us to a beautiful dinner and surprised us with these GORGEOUS diamond necklaces!  I am still in shock.  What an incredible evening we had together.  The next day at work, I was gushing with my friend (also known as my coworker Ariana) about how lucky we are that we all love spending time together and have these friendships with each other.  If Lindsie read that I called her my boss she might cringe and it does feel a bit strange calling her that, even though she is a such a boss, but in the the best sense of the word.  She runs the show like nobodies business, but she is also a close friend and role model to all of us girls, so she feels more like family than anything.
Here are some pictures from the Christmas Caroling worship night we put together with a group of us at my sweet friend Sophie's home.  The scene was straight out of a Hallmark movie.  The literal fireplace behind us with real firewood was crackling and the tree was lit up like the brightest sparkler you can imagine; glistening in all its splendor.  We sat around the fire all cozy with hot coco, tea and blankets and sang about 20-25 Christmas songs, hymns and carols together; laughing and worshipping all the way through it all.  Sophie's parents so graciously made a HUGE pot of chili (the best I've ever had) for us to all enjoy afterwards and we sat around the dinner table together and blessed the meal.  We all stayed late and talked for a couple more hours. I ended up staying until after midnight to get some extra Sophie time and even extra guitar jam sesh time with her :) What a treat.  The whole night was beyond a treat.  God is so good.  It's so funny you never know what you are going to get but just be obedient and HE will do something extraordinary.  Beyond what you could ask, think or imagine.  I even got to spend the day with my step-dad after church, having a step-daddy/ daughter date at a bakery in Morgan Hill over tea and bread pudding. And then I went to Sophie's and cuddled up by the heater outside in the crisp winter's air and bundled up in blankies and had a "heart-pour-out-session." Much needed.  A long time coming. I literally cried when I first saw her and she hugged me for about five minutes.  That's how long it had been.  God knows just what we need.  We are hoping to plan a couple more of these worship nights in the New Year -- maybe at the Castle (the Willow Glen house).  I had some requests afterwards and we all had such a blast, so it is definitely on my heart and radar.  This is my jam and I'm sticking to it.  House worship nights.  Prayer appreciate for support in moving forward :) More to come... 

Breakthrough in the heartbreak

When your heart breaks you find pieces of yourself you never thought you would.

When your heart breaks you learn who you really are.

When your heart breaks God breaks through.  He can shine through the cracks.  But He most definitely cannot shine through walls of steel.  Barriers we have built.  Pride so thick that no one can come inside those castle errr prison walls.  Let down the mote, unlock the cell (yes beloved you actually are holding the key to the prison cell).  Here you have been begging and pleading all along for someone to let you out.  Where is my rescuer?!  Why have I been left behind?? Why have I been locked up??  What did I do wrong?  I am being punished.  I am a bad girl.  I did something horribly wrong.  I will never get out.  Lies.  You can unlock it whenever you want.  That sweet aroma, that fragrance of Christ…the humility that crumbles walls and unlocks chambers; He is all you need. Oh the breakthrough is in the breaking. 

Surely HIS Goodness and Mercy Will Follow You...

      I walked into the Classic Service yesterday.  An eerily welcoming place, comforting yet devastating.  Grief overwhelmed me at once and flooded my entire body as if on a cellular level.  Our bodies are so intelligent; their ability to store deep-seated memories, pain, loss, joys, shifts; to sense changes of what was, and what is no longer.  It is beyond my finite brain to wrap itself around, but God's Infinite creation is glorified in this process.  Although the grief jolted like a lightning rod to the heart, there was also this depth of peace as if I was at home for the first time in a long while.  I stood against the back wall of an upper room of the large church as the Hymns were being sung beautifully.  "How Deep the Father's Love" was the one I walked into (also very apropos to this very moment in time).  I squeezed my Bible a little closer to my stomach as if it were a life raft (it might as well be).  Smiles and greetings from familiar faces were received and given.  I hadn't been to this service in a while, in fact I had been avoiding it.  It is as if, he who shall not be named, got custody of the 9 a.m. service and I got the 11 a.m. main service.  It just worked out that way.  

       The last time I came to Classic was actually with him, so I assumed he may come to this one on occasion.  It always was a safe place for us, we really enjoyed it and all the people.  They felt like family and still do.  One familiar face in particular was an extra friendly one; she was a mutual friend of ours.  Oh such a sweet dear friend.  She gave the biggest grin and said with teeth fully revealed in excitement, "Are you looking for someone??" She must not have heard yet.  She must not have noticed on social media.  I had tried not to make it too painfully obvious or mean and yet I tried to make it obvious enough that these very kind of moments would not happen so much (oh who am I kidding?! I was avoiding these moments like the plague).  I just looked at her with a half smile through tearing up eyes as I nodded my head and said, "No." I tried not to make it too sad.  Here I am trying to protect her while I am breaking inside.  Typical.  Oh I have a lot to learn, and always will.  But that is okay.  He is with me.  Emmanuel.  The joy was that I felt loved and cared for in that moment by her and everyone in that room, whether they knew or not that me and my ex-boyfriend were no longer together.  

      So I stood against that back wall for a while.  I hated the fact that every time a door opened or someone walked by my peripheral I had to look and see if it was him.  Part of me dreaded it in a fearful panic knowing I would completely fall apart if it were, and the other part was hoping, praying maybe it would be him.  It had been three weeks since the break-up and I finally felt sort of like I could handle seeing him, almost as if I wanted to, but at the same time feeling like "Wait no! You will lose it! That's crazy! You can't even walk into church without crying?!" This church, especially this service, penetrated my heart with so many flash-flood memories of "us" that it felt almost unbearable at times.  I knew it was important to face, so I walked on and kept showing up, by His grace.  So I talked with God the night before because I truly know HE wants the best for my heart and Dustin's.  He knows the timing for the healing process.  You cannot rush grief or healing or God's timing.  Oh how I wish you could.  A very serious year and a half with someone, oh that is not rush-able.  I just asked Him to not let us bump into each other until we could fully handle that without it setting us backwards not forwards in our healing with HIM.  Keep us on the course God.  Your course.  One day at a time.  Insert the LORD I NEED YOU song right about now.  

       Alright so back to the back wall...A part of me just wanted to be a gregarious loner and slide right down to the floor and watch the sermon from there.  But courage told me to go find a seat.  His Spirit scoped a spot for me and I sat in between an elderly man and two seats over from a woman on the end of the aisle (still toward the very back of the room).  Hey, I never said I was running to the front row, hopping and skipping, but at least I moved from the back wall to the back aisle. Baby steps.  Grace abounds people.  Literally though, this is exactly where God wanted me to sit.  Chip Ingram starts to teach his lesson for the week and asks us the get our sermon notes out.  I start having this inner dialogue with myself that goes something like this... 

           Oh man God, "he" used to always get the programs for us. We always sat together in the      Classic service.  We always went to church together.  Every Sunday for the last year and a half.  We rarely ever missed a Sunday, ever.  When we would sit down and forget to grab the programs at the door he would always run back and grab them for us, for me.  Those little things you appreciate and yet take for granted and in moments like these I wish he was sitting right here and handing me the program.  That we were going to spend the Sunday together.  Oh stop.  No no. Stop thinking that.  You don't wish that.  It's over and done with, and it is for the best.  Because God knows best. Oh but it still hurts.  Oh it really hurts and my heart still misses. Stop it. But he was my best friend.  It feels like a death.  I feel so alone.  I want to cry.  Should I go grab a program? No I was already too distracting working my way into the last row, after the last song.  Just go without it. It's okay.  But you like writing notes though. Ugh. Oh well.  You can write on some of your older notes.

     All of a sudden a tap on the shoulder interrupts this inner dialogue.  I look to my left to see the kind warm face of the elderly man sitting beside me.  I look down at his hand reaching toward me, with program in hand, he says with a loving smile, "here you go, you can have mine, I don't need it." I literally just burst into tears and gasp, saying "Ohhhh thank you, thank you!"  He not so shockingly says, "of course."  I can tell he is very aware of my crying even though I am very much try to hide the sniffles, blinking profusely to disperse the leakage coming from each tear duct (and it ain't working one bit), wiping my nose with my wrist every couple seconds (by the way wearing a faux leather/pleather jacket that is nonabsorbent was not a genius plan today with the teary weepy situation happening). Oy vey.  At the very top of the notes I immediately write "THANK YOU FATHER!" with a big heart doodle next to it.  The man glances over to see what I wrote because I am clearly impacted by something.  I wanted him to see it too.  

After the sermon I was clear on my assignment.  I needed to tell him what had just occurred; how deeply his Holy spirit obedience affected my heart.  I turned to him and in a similar fashion I tapped him on the shoulder.  He turned to me and I asked what his name was.  We introduced ourselves.  Before I could get another sentence out after my name, I started to well up again.  I apologized in advance for getting emotional but he patiently listened with a gentle spirit.  I could feel Jesus in him listening as well.  I proceeded to say, "I just wanted to thank you for giving me your program.  I know it seems like a simple thing, but it meant a lot to me.  You see I was just talking to God and myself in my head about how my boyfriend used to always get the programs for us, for me.  Well we just had a break-up.  (I cried through the whole monologue). During this inner dialogue you graciously handed me your program.  It literally was the perfect timing.  I couldn't believe it.  It was totally the Holy Spirit, and a hug from heaven.  Thank you very much."  He didn't say much but it was his presence that meant that most.  He pulled me in for a big hug and said he completely understood what I was talking about.  He then wished me a Merry Christmas.  

As I walked away from church yesterday, let me just say, I heard God's voice telling me, "Malorie I know it is hard for you to show up on Sundays.  To even show up.  Especially to this church.  I see you.  I see your heart.  The pain, fear, heartbreak, loss and yet courage to keep going. I love you! I am Your Father.  I am Your Husband. I will get the programs for you honey.  I love you dear.  I haven't forgotten. I am here. I am near. I haven't left.  I haven't given up on you.  I won't.  Ever.  You are worth everything to me.  Everything.  I will keep showing you how much you mean to me.  I will get the programs and I will sit by you at church."

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.- Psalm 23:6



Please pray and support my sweet friend -- BONE MARROW transplant

PLEASE pray for and support my sweet friend Brandon Farmer and his family for a bone marrow transplant he SO desperately needs (along with chemo he is going to be undergoing as well). 
***If you would like to help out Brandon and his family (link below)***
I had the pleasure of meeting Brandon at Venture's High school ministry two years ago and leading worship with him several times. Let me just say this kid not only has the most beautiful gifts and voice but truly has one of THE most incredible hearts for Jesus and served Him passionately, cheerfully and always gave Him ALL the glory. He is a kind friend to all who know and meet him and is always, and I mean always willing to serve, be a listening ear, or put a smile on your face. Check the links I posted below on my timeline for more info on how to support Brandon and his family through this. WE LOVE YOU KID! heart emoticon God loves you MOST!

More info: They learned Brandon has a degenerative disease, and the life expectancy for it is in the low/mid 20’s, due to complications from cancer or overwhelming infections. We also learned a bone marrow transplant could be a possible cure.

They were unable to find a Bone marrow match for Brandon, so he will have what is called a Haploidentical marrow transplant. This is when marrow from a parent or sibling is used, as they are a half-match to the recipient. They will be doing his transplant within these next few months. 

Who We Are in Christ/ Whose We Are- Romans 12

I heard such a powerful sermon last night at youth group. It started out with "Who we believe we are will shape our intimacy with others, and with God." Yes. Oh this is true. And who we believe we are not. I could write out the whole sermon for you and maybe I will later because it was so powerful. Another awesome and wonderful thing is that I woke up and my Bible reading plan is on Romans 12 today... Romans 12:1-2. It could not be more perfect for what Hod was speaking last night. This is the journal text I sent to Dustin this morning about our reading. I had to share.

"Do not allow this world to mold you in it's own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind." Romans 12:2
Being in God's Word and with Him in the war-room (by the way have you seen the movie War-room?! You need to!) / quiet place is what truly renews our mind. It reminds us WHO WE ARE, and WHOSE WE ARE! Sons and Daughters of Almighty GOD.  If we aren't renewing our mind daily with His truth, something else is going to reshape our mind with lies and tell us who we are NOT. Think about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane; the first thing satan attacked and questioned was His identity. So we best believe the enemy is going to be daily whispering doubts in our ears of who we are and making us doubt that. If we are not firm in our Kingdom identity we will not act like children of God because we won't believe it; and that effects everything we do, say and think. Thus why we must lay our lives before Him morning by morning and worship Him with our whole being by giving Him what He has given us-- ourselves-- our whole being. We are not our own. It is all from Him and through Him that we have our being.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." Romans 12:1

I need to soak in His Word and Truth and be immersed in it otherwise I am going to get spun out by this world.  The minute I walk out the door I will be inundated with everything I am not and everything I should be and just lie after lie-- telling me to "conform, conform, conform, to the patterns of this world Malorie." Be more like this. Do more of that. Say this. Wear that. Act like this. Should should. Do do. Act act. Work work. Lies you told satan, lies! We become human doings instead of human beings. Besides we are truly spiritual beings trying to be human. We are just strangers and foreigners and aliens here. It's just our temporary home... Why get comfy here?!
"We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace."- 1 Chronicles 29:15