Knowing Love According to God

The concept of love has been on my mind a lot this weekend.
I witnessed the love of a church for its community. Serving each other because we love God, He loves us and because of that it is over flowing to the people around us.

I am loved by my husband exactly as God willed it to be.
I love my children just as I learned to love by my parents.
But I have also witnessed the decline and destruction of what happens when two people fall apart and love is lost.  And I don’t get it.  I don’t understand.
Because here’s the thing.  One of the verses that was drilled into me and my siblings as children, and even hung in a frame on the wall was this:

Love is patient.
Love is KIND….
It is not RUDE
…It is not easily angered
It keeps NO record of wrongs.  <—– notice the plurality
It is not SELFISH
It always protects
Always hopes
What I don’t understand is if one KNOWS God.  Then you are supposed to KNOW Love.  That is what it says in 1 John 4:7-10.  If you KNOW God, then you are supposed to KNOW love.
We also had to memorize verses that stated that the greatest commandment is to Love.  So if we are not loving to others we are sinning.
Notice that there are no addendum.  It doesn’t say:
Love isn’t easily angered….unless someone says or does something you don’t like.
Love always trusts….unless someone has not earned it or has let you down in the past.
Love isn’t selfish…. unless you’ve put in your time during your life, then you can put yourself first from here on out. You’re off the hook! You now have achieved your selfish years! Look for your gold watch in the mail.
Golden years should  be a continuation of following “The Golden Rule.”
If you’re reading this and thinking, “You haven’t suffered the hurts I have. You don’t understand what its like.”  I would like to say. Everybody hurts. In different ways. And that is precisely why the redemption, salvation, and reconciliation of the cross is so beautiful.  
I don’t love perfectly either. I admit it. I fail. But I DO admit it. And try to do better, because if I don’t, then God cannot be near me.  And tomorrow, I will probably fail again.  But I will seek forgiveness again, and try to do better the next day. Because there is nothing as satisfying as loving and being loved.
Because that’s what my mom and dad taught me.
Because “God is Love. And he who lives in love, lives in God and God in him.” 1 John 4:16


It was a good week.  So busy. With Alex’s Garden Initiative happening tomorrow (we’re giving away 700 vegetable gardens to low income families in our city), its been a little crazy.  But good. I leave for El Salvador to work at the church and Nutrition Center for malnourished children in less than a month, and so until then I am soaking up every bit of my sweets as I can.

I love this boy.  After 3 girls I was terrified of having a boy.  But oh, he is a gift from above.

 What a 2 year old and 4 year old can accomplish in 2 minutes
 Boys can teach a mother of 3 girls a lot of things, like sticks make good pretzel holders!
 Mmmm Shrimp Scampi
 My girl finally got her chance at riding Grandpa Jeff’s horse and never wanted to get off again
 Oh dining room bliss….{happy sigh} My table arrived and with it, the completion of a project 6 years in the making!

 A certain robin has claimed the tree house as hers, and squawks from the nearby tree every time we go in it

 Home-girl got glasses!  Isn’t she adorable?  Notice sister in the back who sobbed because Izzy looked so different from what she was used to.

 Have Mercy. {said with Uncle Jesse from Full House inflection}  My son is so sweet.

 Layla Lu turned 7!!!!!  Agh!  I still can’t believe it.
 What did she want for her birthday?  A grownup manicure  🙂
 That is the life.  Fall into carefree sleep where ever you are, when ever you want.

Happy Spring to you!  I hope that you found some happiness in your week too.  I love the concept of looking for the little moments in your life that really mean the most.
If you want to link up with Life Rearraged too, click here.  Have a great Friday.  🙂

Always Changing River

This last six months have marked quite a change in my life.
I took a break…again… from school.  Because I was a blubbering baby about not being around my babies more. 
I’m going back to El Salvador in one month.
I discovered my passion.
Orphan Advocacy.
I detest fund raising.  I hate asking for money. Hate it.  Its discouraging. 
this quote strikes at my very core.
 “Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it…but I’m afraid He might ask me the same question.” (anonymous)
I get irritated with God sometimes.
There.  I said it. I cannot wrap my mind around child abuse and people allowing children all over the world to starve.
But we let it happen.
I don’t accept “Compassion Fatigue.”
Are you sick and tired of people asking you to donate money left and right for every single worthy cause?
I’m sick and tired of babies dying all over the world of easily curable problems and starvation that would never occur in The States.
So, instead of just being sad about it, I’m going to put my actions where my words are and DO something.
In a couple of weeks I’m going to launch a new Orphan Advocacy Website.
I’m going to irritate my Missions Director at my church with questions and ideas for orphanage sponsorship.
I’m so excited!!!
If your river isn’t flowing and changing, it means you are a stagnant puddle.  I don’t want to be a puddle.
I want to be this
(microsoft stock photo)
Because I cannot accept this
A huge thank you to the ladies who attended my first “Girls Night In” fundraiser for a specific orphange in Ethiopia last week.  Your generosity blew me away.
I’m off to go love and snuggle my babies.  Who were lucky enough to be born in this country, and have a mommy and daddy to hold them and giggle with them.

Death by Small Talk

Alex is taking me to a fancy-shmancy banquet tonight.  Which caused me to reminisce to a conversation we had a couple of days ago about the worst ways to die.  Burning, drowning, suffocation and dismemberment were topping our lists {we may watch too many crime dramas}.  But as I was getting ready today for this evening out, where I will know a total of 3 people in the room, I’ve decided to add Death by Small Talk to the list.  I abhor making small talk.  I’m bad at it.  Its uncomfortable.  Like trying to go {pee} after giving birth, uncomfortable.  Too much info?  I have plenty to say if I KNOW the person.  Like really know them.  Like have spent many years getting to know them, know them. I could go on and on.  Added to the fact that I cannot for the life of me remember people’s names?…..  Oi.  But I love my husband, so I’m going to go and try and survive some small talk tonight.  If nothing else, it will be nice to be out on our first date in the last hundred years.  Plus I’ve got my old standby things to say:
1. Rainy weather we’ve been having lately huh?
2. Where do you work?
3. How would you prefer to die? 
4. This dessert is delicious, eh? {because evidently I have Canadian speech tendencies all of the sudden}
Well, maybe not number 3.  I might get put on some sort of “watch this chick-and bug her phone” lists. 
Do you like small talk?  What are your standby things to say? Because clearly I need some help.

Its a Love Story- Chapter 4 {His Side, by Him}

As told by Alex:
“So I’ve been asked today to provide a guest blog; the other perspective in the next chapter in the story.  So I’m writing that tonight and I suppose it will maybe hit home the most with the gentlemen readers.  I think there are some, although I don’t know why….I’m pretty sure the last post included a discussion about discussing “boobs”, so I’m thinking the writing doesn’t exactly cater to the male reader.  That’s too much talk; guys tend to get to the point faster……
So up until now, I have not been consulted at all as to the accuracy of the tale.  That being said, it’s been pretty accurate thus far.  I’ve only noticed a small point needing clarified.  Back in Spanish class, you know, before That girl’s tears, “The Boy’s” thoughts can be more clearly stated as: [Click Here].  Now, if you were brave enough to click there, we can move on.
So school ended that year, summer came, and The Boy and That Girl became friends, thanks in large part to AOL Instant Messenger.  And That Girl, well, she was casually dating a guy who was one of The Boy’s friends. That friendship ended later that summer, but that’s beside the point.  Anyhow, he still thought it was crap that they were together.  So what’s a guy to do?  Quietly win her, of course!  Plus it helped that this friend was so inept at dating, that he spent most of the time bringing That Girl over to The Boy’s house!  Ha, playing right into The Boy’s hands.
So, can’t date the girl, got to find some way to spend time with her, without her knowing what kind of time you’re spending.  That’s right, trick her!  Look, I didn’t say it was an honest plan, but it was a good one!  But what says, “hanging out” while still arguably being a date?  Fishing!  Plus, I, I mean, “the boy”, had keys to a gate that led to a private fishing hole!  Perfect,  I called her, she accepted, hook set…..
So, guys, first impressions are big.  Step one, gotta fix up the ride!  It may have been an ’89 Buick Regal, but it was washed, waxed, vacuumed and deodorized inside (it was a high school guy’s ride after all…..).  Step two, you know you’re not the most experienced in the dating field….fine, this is actually the first non-date 😉 date you’ve been on.  So you need a way to make up for the potential of having a paralyzing lack of conversation.  Got it!  Music.  Oh, new problem.  Again, high school guy, hundreds of cd’s to choose from….Clapton – not yet.  James Taylor – too mellow.  Journey – too likely to want to belt it out.  Queen – too Queen (yes, I know that is not possible).  Search.  Search.  Eagles Greatest Hits 1. Perfect. Best selling collection of all time for a reason!  Car, music, check.  Clothes?  Ha! Who am I kidding you were in high school then and you still have no sense of style, so you throw something on….
All set.  Pick her up at her house.  Easy and Casual.  Not a  date, so don’t have to bring anything.  Not a date, so just a hi to her folks…”drive safe, be careful, yada yada yada”.  By the way, side note, the trickingThat Girl into dating you means by the time you are actually dating, the parents are so confused as to what is going on, that they miss the transition to actual dating that comes later, and all the “You’re dating my daughter” conversations just kind of get glossed over!  (I want to be clear “Parents”, I was not trying to trick you too, just happened that way and I rolled with it….).
So with such well set plans, “fishing” goes smoothly.  With the exception of you forgot there are no more than 2 fish in this pond, conversation is casual and relaxed.  Fishing gives you lots of excuses though that come in handy.  Have to help her tie the line.  Suggest a better way to cast.  Check her out to make sure her form is correct… was all good.”
Mari here- I’m pretty sure that although we never caught a single fish, Alex was definitely hooked by the end of this particular outing.  And the beginning of what is still the very best friendship I’ve ever had began.  That friendship a few months later would become a little something more, and our first date to Six Flags {which, by the way I was also tricked into by some friends} would occur.  But that’s a story for another day!

p.s If you want to hear more… follow, subscribe, comment… you know. You can also find me on Twitter: Marijmarks. And if you missed the first 3 chapters they can be found here:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Girls’ Night In- For a Cause!

I will be hosting a “Girls’ Night In” Monday, May 16  for an urgent need in an orphanage far, far away.  It will be fun for us, but life saving for babies in Ethiopia.  So here’s the scoop:

In a Girls’ Night In, you take whatever money you would have spent at a restaurant, coffee shop, movie, shopping, etc. and you give it to a cause of your choice.

For instance, I just got word of an orphanage in Ethiopia that is terribly understaffed, under-supplied, and needs so much help.  While my children are feasting on left over Easter candy, babies there are vastly underweight, starving and suffering from ailments and diseases that could easily be cured here in the good ole’ U.S.

So my friends, I would like to have a party.  We’ll play games, we’ll laugh and eat and I’m sure chat non-stop about things like babies, boobs, husbands, and poop {not necessarily in that order}.  I will make delicious snacks and we’ll play Win Lose or Draw/Pictionary and have a ton of fun.  But most importantly, we will do a little thing to make a big difference!

Please Please Come and Give. And if you can’t give, just come and pray.  Put it on your calendar- May 16 from 6-9, at my house. 
And if you would like to give above and beyond A.S.A.P. here is the link to Ordinary Hero.

Nothing Groundbreaking Here

Much of a mom’s life is routine.
Sometimes, there just isn’t a whole lot of excitement.
But even those times deserve a bit of celebration and notice.
Because every moment in this house, with my loves, is a moment I am thankful for.
So today, I am celebrating nothing, that is actually—something.

A newly decorated dining room!  It was 6 years in the wings waiting to get some attention.  What started out as me saying to my Hunk, “Hey, I think I’ll paint the dining room!” quickly turned into him redoing the ENTIRE room for me.


Notice- ugly carpet and cherry woodwork
And notice un-28 year old-like, hunter green and marroon paisley border?  That same green was the color of the inside front door too.
From Peanut Butter paint and Paisley border to…..
{and our new table and chairs arrives next Monday!!!}
 My Hunk did an amazing job  🙂  All I did was pick out the paint color.
What else am I celebrating?
Spring is finally here in Ohio!

Yes, Spring is here and we are So, SO happy about it!