An Open Letter To My Mom

Dear Mom,

On this your 50th birthday, and International Women’s Day there are a few things I would like to say.

For 50 years, you have graced this Earth with your abundance of joy, wisdom, and laughter. You have touched the lives of numerous people with your faith and teachings. You have been a listener, a teacher, and a friend to hundreds of youth and adults through your work within the church. You have been a mother to not only Jordan, Chandler, and myself, but countless other people who have gone through youth group or have worked with you in the many different activities and groups you are in.

For 22 years, I have had the privilege of calling you mom. You have made me who I am today, and for that I sincerely thank you. You have taught me kindness, grace, humbleness, and to find joy in the small things. You have taught me how to be a friend, how to love, and how to be a listener. We have been through some tough times, but even through the bad you were always willing to listen to my petty problems, teach me how to bake your famous cookies, and spend time with me and the boys. You are always willing to lend a helping hand, give to others, and put everyone before yourself.

On this International Women’s Day, I look to you as the most influential and important woman in the entire universe. You have bestowed your wealth of knowledge, and your wisdom to me, and have taught me how to be a strong independent woman and for that I am extremely thankful.

So thank you. Thank you God for gifting you; Jeannie Dian Collins Henderson as my mother. Thank you for all the lessons we have learned, whether easy or hard. Thank you for raising me to be a strong woman of Christ and for instilling great morals and values in my life. I love you times a million!

Now, have a happy birthday and go enjoy yourself!

 

Love always and forever,

Mary

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NO!

As both a nanny, and a big sister to a three year old, I hear that word a lot. “NO. I will not go potty.” or “NO. I do not want blueberries with my lunch, I want strawberries!” It’s a fairly common response with children between the ages of 2-6 I feel like. It’s also a common response in teenagers and adults. We are always saying no to something.

No, I do not want change in my life. No, I do not want this to happen. No, I do not want to be an adult yet.

Those are my favorites. Mainly, because I say them a lot, especially that last one.

As we begin our season of Lent, I am challenging you to say yes. I am challenging myself to say yes. Say yes to helping others, say yes to praying more, say yes to doing that thing you said you were going to do but never did. I think Jesus wouldn’t want us to say no, so long as it betters both ourselves and others, do you? In order to be more Christ-like, we need to be able to accept change, to be able to do more for others, and unfortunately for me, to be an adult.

So say yes! Say yes to the gym, say yes to giving up sugar, say yes to change! I’m going to say yes to helping my spirituality grow, and also giving up sugar. What are YOU saying yes to?

Side note: don’t say yes to things that will harm you or others. I think we all know what I’m talking about.

Hey God, it’s me Mary

I’m officially a slacker ya’ll. I promised myself I was going to write every week and I have not. I could use the excuse of “well I work a lot, and I’m a full time student” but let’s be real, that’s a lame excuse. I could tell you that I value sleep over writing but let’s be real, up until a couple of weeks ago, I was up late either studying, or playing video games. So really, I don’t have a good excuse other than I didn’t know what to write. Until this week.

I have either been working, studying, in class, or sleeping. That has been my life lately. It’s non-stop. The only time I have to myself is my shower and even those have been cut short lately. I feel like a roadrunner, except I haven’t stopped running since the middle of January. I have put other things before my mental, and physical well-being and guess what? I got bronchitis, sleep deprivation, and have gone a tad bit crazy. I’ve been Grumpy the Dwarf’s twin sister; Grumpier, and I’ve been harsh.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to somewhat slow down. I traveled with a group of  9 other people to Prude Ranch out in good ole West Texas. Fort Davis, TX to be exact. If you’ve never been out there, I highly recommend it. Gorgeous scenery and the best part? NO CELL SERVICE! That’s right, I said that not having cell service was the best part. It mean’t I couldn’t receive calls from any of my jobs, my family, or my friends. Sorry ya’ll but sometimes you don’t realize how much stress is caused just by those people. I spent the entirety of the weekend in fellowship and service with 100 youth in the western part of Texas. We talked all about something that has been reappearing more and more in my life; Loving your neighbor as yourself. Apparently it’s not a hard concept to these kids because they told me all about how they help each other out in the good and the bad. Why can’t everyone be like that?

Anyways, I got to spend the weekend doing something I love; spreading the Gospel and talking about it with youth. If you have never worked with youth, it is an amazing experience. Some of the things those kids said, are things that wouldn’t even cross my mind. Usually, I’m absolutely exhausted after those types of retreats and while I was exhausted, I felt refreshed. I think in today’s society we often forget to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the small things in life. We are constantly going somewhere, doing something, texting, snapchatting, etc. So when do you slow down and allow for spiritual growth and rejuvenation?

Lately, I have been a bit out of touch with the big guy upstairs and my life has been nothing but stress filled and difficult. I know that everyone has a different setting where they like to pray, talk to God or just sit and experience the Holy Spirit. For me, that place is usually outside…and sometimes my shower. I typically like to spend some time outside in my hammock or walking around. It’s my “thin place” or a place where I feel closest to God but between working, going to school, and trying to maintain my physical health, my spiritual health has somewhat been lacking. I am guilty of putting other things ahead of my spiritual health. Sometimes when I’m really upset, or mad, I yell at God in the shower, or I have a very stern conversation with Him. May seem weird, but whatever. We always, always seem to talk or lean on God more when things aren’t going the way we want them to in our lives, when things are hard. We need to have constant communication with Him, whether its a “good morning my dude, please be with ___ and ___ throughout their day, keep us all safe, and I’ll talk to you later. Amen” or a “GOD. THE COOLEST THING HAPPENED TODAY! This and this happened and omg you probably already knew that because you’re all-knowing but I just really wanted to share that and tell you thank you for always being with me, even when I retrograde to my moody teenage years and totally ignore you! Love you! Amen”

It’s something as simple as saying “Hey” or “This happened and it was cool” or “I’m really upset about this, help me get through it”. With a little priority, our spiritual health would be in so much better condition. Well, mine would at least.

So basically, open that line up and make some time for God. He’s the best friend you will always have, and usually has some pretty good advice.

Also, for anyone who has a friend or family member that gets hangry, words of advice: feed the beast. You will thank me later.

 

Peace,

Mary

 

Meet Charles.

This is Charles, actually his name is Chas but because I’ve known him since diapers I’m allowed to call him Charles.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

 

 

Charles likes to blow up my phone at random points during the day with quirky thoughts, and good business ventures. Charles wanted to be on my blog every week with these quirky thoughts, so every Wednesday you will get a little glimpse into Charles’ mind.

ALL OF THESE THOUGHTS ARE FROM CHAS GOLD. NOT ME.

“In today’s modern society, we should always strive for equal opportunity. Regardless of gender, religion, or sexual orientation, we should all have the same opportunities regarding education and employment. The exception being Girl Scouts. Teaching these young women business skills has done nothing but increase our national debt and create in overweight population as we are drowning in their tantalizing treats. Learn from the Boy Scouts and sell something less addicting, like popcorn no one really wants. I’m all for free enterprise, but at what cost man??!?”

“You can never have too many of the smaller spoons. Butter knives? I use maybe one or two a week. Large spoons? Like once a month. But I run through those small spoons like smallish people (children?) in the plastic fun houses at a local burger stop.” <— I agree with this. My small spoons are always dirty.

“What’s it like to be a fish? Like, do they communicate? Do they have thoughts? Are they jealous of our ears? Only time will tell.”

“The socks don’t wear the man, the man wears the socks. Unless you’re living in an alternate reality in which socks are living beings and humans are no more than a garment to wear underneath shoes.”.

bearss

 

This my friends, has been Weekly Words with Charles. Hopefully it brightens your day a little.

When You Love Somebody

“When u love somebody, it’s hard to think about anything but to breathe”

The Fruit Bats said it best in my opinion.

Think about when you’re falling in love for the first time, or even for the second or third because heaven knows we don’t fall in love only once. It’s hard to not think about anything else except that person, and I can honestly attest to that statement because I’ve been there, done that. With Valentine’s Day coming up fast, we tend to think of it as a holiday for couples or, like myself and the cynics of the world think of it; a capitalist holiday where it’s only a thing so that chocolate companies, flower companies, and the like can make a few hundred dollars. While yes, I still agree with that last statement I also like to think of Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate not just our significant others. It’s a day to spread LOVE! DUH.

Not only should we celebrate those we love, we should also make a point to share love every day. That’s right, every day my friends. Here’s where a lot of people (including myself) have a problem and it’s that we should also share love with people we don’t like, people we don’t think “deserve it”. I don’t know about ya’ll but when I love someone, I love deeply. If a person I love needs anything, I try my absolute best to help them out. So it’s hard for me to love someone who is full of hate, or someone who has done absolutely horrid things. I feel as if that’s a pretty common thing for most people though. “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Guess where that’s from? Mark 12:31. Guess what else? Christianity isn’t even the only religion that teaches that.

Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517

Confucianism: Tse-kung asked, ‘Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?’ Confucius replied, ‘It is the word ‘shu’ — reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'” Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

Islam: “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.” 3

Judaism: “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”, Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) Leviticus 19:18

I could keep listing, but you would probably stop reading after a while. Even if you aren’t the religious type, you were probably still taught this because it’s basic human decency. So what’s the deal? Why do we only celebrate loving people once or twice a year? (I say twice because people are generally more giving, and kinder around Christmas time.)  Especially in today’s day and age we need to love one another. We need to radiate positive vibes dudes. {insert hippie flag here}

If you don’t take anything away from this other than “Well, Mary’s rambling on the internet again”, then I challenge you, I challenge everyone;myself included, to love one another. That person that won’t stop posting politics on your Facebook feed that you don’t agree with? Love them. That person who did/said that one thing to you a long time ago but you’re still upset about it? First of all, forgive them, secondly, love them. Those people who are different than you and scare you? Love them. That person who cut you off in traffic? LOVE THEM. It’s gonna be hard, but if all we have is hate and general discontent towards people, we will soon be a world of robots rather than humans. And while robots are super cool, I’d rather have people that can think for themselves.

 

Here’s that Fruit Bats song I mentioned at the beginning. It’s pretty dope.

 

LOVE,

~Mary

You’re never too old for camp.

Good morning from the ever so beautiful Albuquerque, NM! My best friend and I drove the almost 9 hours here yesterday because she has a job interview!! I tagged along because I love driving, she hates it, and I’m used to driving to New Mexico since Matt lives here most of the time. Also I just love roadtrippin’ so why not?

Something you’ll hear me talk about quite a bit is how life-changing going to or working at a summer camp is. It’s my favorite conversation topic. “So this one time at camp…”  I know a lot of you will probably roll your eyes at me and say “Mary, all you ever talk about is camp, can you find a new topic?” Well the answer is no, and I’m going to tell you why.

When you send your kids to camp for a week (or two, or the whole summer depending on where you send them), you’re not only sending them to a place where they will have fun, you’re sending them to a place where they will branch out and meet new people. You’re sending them to a  place where they will learn to be an independent person, where they will grow as a person. And I’m not saying this because I was a camp counselor for 2 years, I’m saying this because I was a camper for almost 9 years.

Camp was where I was able to get away from mom, dad, and my “annoying” brothers for a week and be free to ask questions that maybe I didn’t feel comfortable asking my parents. It was a week where I got to stay in a cabin with a gaggle of girls and giggle every night about which boy was the cutest, or talk about something that we were struggling with at home and still be loved and supported no matter what. We were all in it together, whether that mean’t taking a buddy to go to the bathroom in the woods during camp-out night and then proceeding to have that buddy run back to tell a counselor you had fire ants crawling all up your legs and in your pants (true story my friends), or hiking to the top of elephant graveyard during the heat of the day and banding together to share what water we had left in our water bottles so nobody got dehydrated. Shoot, I met people at camp as a camper that I still talk to!

Sure I made really great friends and grew a whole lot when I was a camper, but when you work as a counselor it’s a whole different ballgame. I always wanted to be a counselor when I was a camper so when I was finally able to be one I was absolutely ecstatic! YES! I was going to be one of the people that kids looked up to! I would get to help kids grow in their faith! I was going to get to spend basically my entire summer outdoors and in nature! SCORE! While all those things are great, what I didn’t realize is how much I would grow in my faith those summers I worked. I didn’t realize that I would gain some of my absolute favorite memories, or that the people I would work with would become people I couldn’t even imagine doing life without. I didn’t realize that camp would change me even as a 19 year old. Obviously I was wrong.

While working at camp, kids would ask questions in bible study that I never would have thought about. The spiritual advisers who came to be more in depth at bible study and lead vespers in the evenings not only helped kids be more in touch with God, but also me. Who would’ve thought that something meant for kids would change my life too? God works in mysterious ways my friends and the Holy Spirit is ever present at camps like Camp Gilmont.

Like I said previously, I met some of my absolute best friends while working at camp. Friends that I honestly don’t know how I handled life before that without. When you work at camp, you gain a second family. Your co-counselors are the people who at the end of the day are going to support you no matter what. They are the people who know what you’re like when you’re at your worst; sweaty, exhausted, and usually pretty irritable because of the first two. They are the people who when kids do or say something that just knocks you off your feet, or makes you want to die of laughter, you tell. They are people who genuinely care about how you’re doing even though you probably hadn’t even have met them until you started staff training. They know you. Like, actually know you. Your co-counselors are people you share your life goals and ambitions with. You create memories that last you a lifetime. Memories like: sitting in your hammock talking to each other because one of you heard an animal/felt an animal run under your hammock and is terrified to sleep, or mattress surfing down the stairs of a church while there for a traveling camp (sorry Liz!), or having to keep 15 5 yr olds interested in an activity for an hour and a half and taking them on a special “hunt” through the church to find the secret tunnel before the weebles get to you.

Your co-counselors keep you sane 90% of the time and drive you to insanity the other 10%. But it’s 100% worth it because at the end of the day you can laugh about it and spend the afternoon you have off eating good food and playing super mario party in the staff lounge or even better: sleeping.

Moral of this post is that camp is life-changing for all ages. I highly recommend you send your kids for a week this summer, or work as a counselor at least once. If you don’t know where to send your kids/where to work as a counselor, I highly recommend Camp Gilmont. Applications for camp staff close Janaury 31 so be sure to apply soon!!

Camp Gilmont

Peace,

~Mary

 

The Year of Me

We are officially 12 days into 2017 and I have been wracking my brain as to what my resolution for this year should be. I’ve finally come up with 5 that I definitely would like to accomplish.

  1. Do more of what makes me happy and don’t let anyone effect that
  2. Be more active! Be healthier! Get some gainz! (as my brothers would say)
  3. Start writing more (this one is going to be hard, but I’ve got a sticky note on my desk reminding me to post at least once a week)
  4.  Slow down and find the joy in the small things
  5. Try something new at least once a week

I feel like those should be easy enough to accomplish, but I feel as if we all say that in January and come February or March we have shoved our resolutions to the back of our brain and focused on other things. I’m so excited for this year in particular because I will finally be studying something that makes me excited to be an adult!

For those who haven’t heard yet, I am the new youth director for a Presbyterian church in the area and I am absolutely elated! I’m also a tad bit overwhelmed at the current moment, but that’s to be expected for anyone who starts a new job. I’m also a nanny for 3 boys under the age of 5. It’s crazy-town most days, but there are moments that make it all worth it; like having a baby fall asleep in your arms, getting fought over who gets to hug you first, who gets to walk you to your car, showing me the cool things they learned at school, and my personal favorite: sharing with them my love of the outdoors and reading. It definitely makes me want to wait to have kids until I’m 35, but everyday is a new adventure.

I’m so excited to share my insights, adventures, and failures with ya’ll this year. Yes, I said failures, because we know that nobody is perfect (try as we may). I want to leave ya’ll with one last thing, and that’s my favorite bible verse.

“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” – Corinthians 10:13

I hope you remember that when things seem impossibly difficult. As mama always said “Mary, if God put you to it, He’ll pull you through it”

 

Peace,

~Mary