When You are Kind in Chaos



In December of 2011 I went to the Kansas City Ballet. I wore a flattering black dress, spoke with red lips and walked in classy flats — quite different from my dirty apron,  messy bun and coffee stained shoes. At intermission I spotted John, a regular customer I saw every morning. I knew his wife was recovering from back surgery while their master bedroom was being remodeled. I approached him to say hello. He was startled, uncomfortable, awkward — different from the personable demeanor I knew. He didn’t know how to treat me, his morning barista now as an acquaintance. He made jokes about fetching him a coffee and said he was surprised I enjoyed the arts or, get this, even knew Kansas City held ballet performances.

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From that moment on I promised myself I would befriend all positions in any work environment I’m in. I hated feeling less-than, not equal to or below John at the ballet.
I have great respect for professors, doctors, and producers – those who’ve established themselves professionally. That’s hard, bro. Mad respect. #youwinningfosho

In no way, however, do I think being condescending is appropriate. Zero chance.

The jobs looked down upon are typically held by people who’re in a line of work we “literally just can’t even” to. Would you want to clean toilets after the Dodgers game? Clean sewage pipes? Go office to office at 3am taking out the trash and vacuuming? Or what about cleaning windows in 100-degree weather?

Tv The Office animated GIFPeople who’re doing these tasks are invisible, but most noticeable if the job is forgotten. Joe the night janitor isn’t operating on your Grandpa’s heart or educating your daughter in mathematics. He is a person though, a man who probably would appreciate the acknowledgement of existing. We don’t have time to get to know every person’s life story, but we have time to give everyone eye contact in passing and simply say hello with a smile.

Furthermore, any employee is doing something the silver spoon-fed 30-year-old guy in his parent’s guest house isn’t doing: working.
To achieve any goal one must pull up their sleeves, put in the time and many times, put their pride aside EVEN if that means being the person who picks up Starbucks cups off the curb at LAX. I have more respect for those working ANYWHERE than for the guy or gal sitting around hoping their dream position opens up.
I didn’t want to be a slave to debt after college. I didn’t want to relate to every Buzzfeed article about how people in their 20’s don’t have their life together. I didn’t want Sallie Mae to have my name in the system at 40.

To achieve this with the cards I was dealt I had to step-up and work.

I enrolled in 15 credit hours and accepted two jobs when I moved to Kansas in 2009. I became the sorter of crusted, stain-filled pants at Tide Dry Cleaners and a barista at the cheesily named coffee shop LatteLand. Holding two jobs with 15 credit hours in a new environment became a tad stressful. So, after my clothes, coats and blankets were dry cleaned (fo free), I quit Tide and stuck with being a barista until graduation in 2013.

I don’t regret how I used my time in college, but I do regret being so hard on myself. I never felt like I could enjoy free time because there was always something I could be doing: tightening my paper, studying more, editing a project longer or picking up an extra shift for extra cash. Rest assured I had friends who made sure I had fun during my chaotic schedule. I was not a hermit.

I needed something to happen though in order for me to let loose and learn the balance of fun and work.

Something did. I was the passenger in a car accident.
T-bone collision. Ambulances. Tow trucks.

Despite a concussion, severe whiplash, a burned arm and several bones oddly misplaced, I was stubborn and not only refused to go to the ER, but I drove myself to work following the accident.

My brain couldn’t register anything at work. I didn’t walk straight and I nearly fainted several times. A co-worker called my manager and I sent myself to the hospital. I went home with documents instructing me not to set foot at school or work. Sentenced to the doctor every other day for four months my year now focused on rehabilitation rather than researching.

Those months were inconvenient, physically exhausting and, to be frank, annoying.

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Refusing help from paramedics and clocking-in to serve customers with injuries put my independence on a new level. I placed value on my education and work above my physical and mental health.

I was able to acknowledge the stupidity of this once I saw the fruit from resting. My brain was sharper; I was more energized and a lot happier.

I believe God used that time to release the burden of being hard on myself. Life put me in a place of forced rest and I saw just how much “Mary time” positively affected me mentally. I learned the importance of saying no to both people and homework to instead recharge. Putting aside work to focus on my mental and physical health was not a weakness, it was strength, and a lesson I learned the hard way.
The accident permanently affected my neck and knee, but I could’ve died. It showed me that no matter what, as long as I’m breathing, everything will be okay.

The accident also gave me perspective: we don’t know where anyone is at in their personal life and most often than not, people are struggling through obstacles and need grace. When I went back to work after the accident I was slower, my body was still in pain and I needed grace from both co-workers and customers. I was absorbing lectures slower and needed patience from lab partners and professors.

Fast-forward a couple of years to today. I was chewed out a few months back from a co-worker. I had accidentally bcc’d someone on an email when I should’ve cc’d them. It’s a deal, but it isn’t a big enough deal to be picked apart for 15 minutes. An hour later this co-worker got a phone call. His dad passed away. He broke down at his desk and I sat back (devastated for him) realizing (again) everyone I’m around has a life they leave at the door when they come to work they may take out their frustration on the little things because everything else is out of their control.

I guess what’s on my heart is this: work of any kind needs to be given respect. When you’re given a job, a responsibility or a situation where you have to step-up, don’t complain. Give 100% with a grateful attitude and kindness towards others.
Life will happen. You’ll get sick, you’ll get a flat tire and, hopefully not though, death or an illness might happen to a loved one.

You’ll want patience and grace from co-workers. I’ll tell you right now that if you’re lazy or have a bad attitude many things won’t go in your favor.

And when you’re off the clock, have fun. Write blogs, watch Homeland, go on photography explorations, do yoga, hang with family, travel somewhere. Whatever recharges you.

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There is beauty to having a strong work ethic, as well as a strong mental state. To be strong mentally we (usually) need to take a step back and rest.

I’m still learning how to balance everything. I mean, I’m in my twenties and don’t need to have it all together, right?

When You ChooseThankfulness

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I could open this post up in two ways: both are true.

Opening one:

I swipe my gold badge to enter the historical grounds of Paramount. Palm trees, trailers and crewmembers paint the scene. I turn on Michael Bay Avenue, stages surround me. Grabbing a cup of coffee and a ride on a golf cart, I use my badge once again to enter the Editorial building, my building. I greet Editors for shows like Blacklist and NCIS. Mid-day I say hello to AD’s, possibly writers, maybe a producer. I grab an already cut grapefruit with a raspberry placed in the center of the half, and return to work. After breezing through emails and updating documents, I drive to Amblin, Steven Spielberg’s production company, and deliver the Director’s cut of Episode 204. After giving the receptionist an envelope I pass three Oscars modeling in a glass case…next to the camera that shot E.T. To exit Amblin, I press a button on a tree, and a wooden gate slowly opens. Life is truly a dream here in Hollywood. How did I get so lucky?

Opening 2:

My eyes adjust to my phone screen at 6:50am: eight Gmail notifications since midnight. I scroll through reading the subject lines….press snooze and hold off until 7am for emails. I stretch my sore legs and get ready another 12 hour (maybe more) mentally, physically exhausting day. Driving down Melrose I say, “thank you God for my car, thank you for giving me a job I truly have had as a dream….” my daily monologue. I turn off Van Ness into the parking garage, but am told the garage is full and I have to drive to the other one, located on the opposite side of the lot. Great. 20 minutes later frustration builds when I notice the only coffee available is Kerig, a type of coffee one should only drink while waiting at the car wash.
I get to my desk. Its go-time: print-outs, passing out menus, picking up lunch, driving to drop-off drives, pick-up drives, countless runs to the Production office, updating distribution documents, phone calls, drafting several emails, backing up files from Editors…the tasks are endless. I return from bathroom breaks to post-its stamped everywhere on my desk with scribbled requests. In the span of five minutes I have requests to email our Avid company, order ink, drop off invoices at Accounting, update the department’s iCal and print out 10 copies of a newly updated document. Multi-tasking is crucial.

I’m the only single person in the office, everyone else married. No one is even in their twenties. I work with all men so I have trained myself to move forward after every moment I typically would get emotional in. My superiors aren’t afraid to be deadpanning blunt with me. That’s this business though, “get it done.” Someone will raise their voice, but then 20 seconds later they’ll say, “Great job. Thanks love.” And leave.


In the midst of being corrected, over-worked and under-paid, it’s easy to lose sight of the blessing a job is.

When I moved to Los Angeles I spent everyday in a coffee shop applying to any job I could find in Entertainment. I applied to be a receptionist at Warner Brothers, an assistant editor, and the third assistant to a big-time producer. I never got an interview. I later went to the mall and applied at all clothing stores I liked. Thankfully, a week after doing that, I was given a job on an amazing show.

Here I am now, a year later, working at Paramount.


Not long ago I went to the parking garage, chatted it up with the Valet and learned he’s been trying for two years to catch a break as an Assistant and he took the Valet gig to network.


“Mary you rotten person you…taking for granted your badge. James the driver here is basking in the sun dreaming of your job and you’re standing here counting down until the show wraps.”

Crazy thing is…someone is sitting somewhere hoping to get the Valet’s job so they can network. Another person is in Wisconsin dreaming of moving to LA and being the guy in LA hoping for the Valet job.

No matter the position, another person is probably wishing they were where you are. I try to keep this in mind whenever I’m frustrated with where I’m at, or what I have.

Last year I tried to define the word ‘blessing’ and what it means to me.

This is what I came up with: a blessing is something someone else wishes they had.

So think about it.
Like, actually stop and think about it. EVERYTHING in life is a blessing.

God is the One who gives us blessings, so, therefore, everything belongs to God.

I’ve been given tremendous favor within one of, if not the hardest industry to break into and find myself saying, “God when is this job going to eeeend.” How could someone who’s connected with big-time people like that, find themself saying anything except “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!”

Because, no matter what you’re given in life, how you choose to respond to blessings is a choice. I strive to view my job in the eyes of my first opening, yes. Most days though, opening #2 is most present because I’m in the thick of it and it’s human nature to respond to hardships by going, “ahhhhhh! Not comfortable!”

Thankfully though, I have Jesus in my life haunting me with words like, “I chose you above hundreds of over qualified people for this. I entrusted you, Mary. I believe in you.”

Cool. No pressure.

But seriously, no pressure….God has me.
I’m going to shift gears for a second, but I promise it connects.

I’ve been asked in recent months what I’m attracted to in a man. I won’t dive into what I am attracted to, but rather what I’m not attracted to.

Pride. Selfishness. Narcissism.

Oh, and if they don’t like sports in the least I don’t know how to deal. I have three brothers and a dad who raised me on sports so, masculinity = love of any sport. #kiddingbutnotreally #truuuu

I’ll connect the dots…when I’m not thankful for anything God has given me, I’m all three of those qualities I dislike.

Pride (in the unhealthy form) is all about self-ownership and thanking God for yourself and your amazing abilities, not Him.

Selfishness: wanting to be outside of where God wants me.
Example: longing for a hard job HE GAVE ME to end.

Narcissism: it doesn’t have to do with thankfulness; I just want all men (and women!) to know it’s universally a quality that won’t win anyone over 😉

I’m human.
I’m selfish.

I’ve been given an incredible life, a life full of things others only dream about. But, sometimes, I simply want the grass my neighbors have, something we’re all guilty of. Some student at Yale wants nothing more than to fly to a cabana in Vegas while the guy in the cabana in Vegas is dreaming of getting into Yale.

Let us be reminded of this: everything in our life is a blessing, and it’s our choice for how we respond.


I used my work as an example and can view it with my first opening of this blog, a mindset of complete thanksgiving….or like my second opening, lens that ignore all fun aspects and focus on the annoying parts.

Both sets of glasses are always going to be on the case, and we can choose one or the other, always. But God wants us to be reminded that everything is from Him, and when we are given much, much is required.

Luke 12:48: “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Moreover, when we have much, we must have a heart of thanksgiving.

I wrote this blog because in the midst of my crazy amazing blessings I’ve been given, it’s easy to lose sight and want another blessing. I felt led to write this because while I hope this was encouraging to you, it was for me too– being reminded that everything is a blessing and therefore, should be treated with a grateful, thankful heart.

Verses I got pwned in for not being thankful when I should have been:

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name” – Psalm 100:4

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruits of lips that confess His name” –Hebrews 13:15

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” –Philippians 4:6
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” –Hebrews 12:28-29

When You Allow Social Media to Shape Opinions of those You Already Know

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Social media has crushed a sense of authenticity. Those who post sad stories or rants are ridiculed because, really, who wants to read such news? Those who only post how amazing their life is are ridiculed because, who lives like that? We either think, “they’re always complaining,” or, “they boast about their perfect life.” A happy medium is rare.

We don’t like seeing an excessive amount of selfies or continuous Buzzfeed quiz results. I am not ashamed to admit I have spent the time to filter out Facebook friends. Out of my 1,000 friends, I see maybe 80 friend’s posts. I found my heart getting bitter, annoyed or jealous towards people who I truly enjoy in the real world. Many of my now “unfollowed” friends are great, but I resented them because of our online friendship. That could be conceived as pathetic, but I needed to take an action to prevent myself from judging.

For me to prevent feeling that way, I unfollowed them.

We are all guilty of checking in on our crush or ex-boyfriends on social-media. If you aren’t guilty of that, God has treasures for you my friend. We see pictures of the guy with a new girl, new friends, at a party or tagged in a status—thus creating F.O.M.O or jealousy inside of us and we are left bummed. What’s (not) funny about this is when we’re on the other side of everything,…in those pictures, one of the people tagged… many times those moments aren’t even fun. That picture of the guy was forced by a girl who says, “oh my god get it get in,” and then click, picture is taken, up on Facebook. That may have been the most time the girl and guy spent together–she just wanted a picture of them to put more value on herself, her reputation.
Not everyone is like this and yes, some events are as fun as they appear. I’ve posted pictures on Facebook where the picture truly didn’t capture the joy I had within the frame. The authenticity of it all has been severely minimalized: with my 1,000 friends I easily think everyone has babies, everyone has a wedding, everyone goes apple picking or carves a pumpkin, everyone travels to Europe, there’s always “that girl” going to help people in Africa—I don’t need an entire album, thanks. I also don’t need to hear how your husband left a cute note saying “you’re amazing babe, the love of my life” on your car before you went to work. Like, good for you.
With our 1,000+ friends it can be difficult to truly care about these events, unless they’re our closest friends who would share their adventure with us in an outlet independent from Facebook.

I REALLY don’t like seeing on Instagram what other people like. When guys double tab on pictures of girls who’re practically naked, or a selfie that has 8+ filters over it, I’ve seen myself lose respect for them. Men, if you don’t think girls notice who you follow, what you like, what you choose to feed your soul with, educate yourself.  Women, same goes for you.
Who am I though to truly know the heart in the matter? That naked girl could be his cousin and he’s supporting her (doubtful, but things happen). The girl could be posting the inappropriate picture because her manager demanded it (which I would say R-E-S-P-E-C-T yoself and get a new manager), and there’s more to the story (things happen).

That’s the thing. This is all relative.

I’m going to retract back to the woman who posted a picture of the cute note by her husband. My guess is her sisters and mom genuinely appreciated the picture. I love it when my sister posts about anything her and close people related; I feel connected. When I’m not the close friend or sister to excessive posts, I don’t double tap or “like.”

Hey, I’m guilty of posting. I gram my family regularly; I love taking pictures of my cat Karen. When I post pictures of my cat, I know my siblings and certain friends appreciate it. I don’t except someone I went to high school with 10 years ago to take a second glance.

I like to believe every post has (most likely) an appreciation from someone…somewhere….
Sometimes I think that somewhere is in Neverland because I can’t handle a picture of oatmeal with 15 hashtags. What in the world is that about. Unfollow

I miss the days of developing pictures and showing my Gramma when she came over for lunch that week. I miss the excitement of going over to my friend’s house after their vacation and skimming through their memory card. Since I geographically can’t do that today, it’s nice to be able to electronically show and tell. Today I get hourly updates on how someone’s vacation is going and it has made me numb towards many people. I am frustrated with myself for becoming numb because each event IS exciting, and many times there IS an amazing back-story. Maybe that vacation took five years to save up for, that couple could have had three miscarriages before this miracle was born, the “A” someone got an their exam was a result of countless sleepless nights of studying…we don’t know. Usually, we are only invited to share in the end result, not the process. And hey, I’m not saying I want to be invited to the process. I can’t emotionally handle hundreds of updates weekly from people who share with me their hardships or frustrations. Ain’t nobody got time for all that, and someone with an empathetic heart like mine surely can’t take that on.

stock-footage-happy-businesswoman-dancing-after-a-good-phone-call-in-her-officeOn the other side is this: it IS fun seeing what people are up to, even if they’re the kind of “friend” we see at our local grocery store once or twice a year. Social media is truly addicting, enjoyable, frustrating and destroying.

There isn’t a “right” answer: to get rid of or promote social media. Either side can be healthy, and it comes down to a matter of the heart.

The heart plays a pivotal role in social media.

We all have our annoyances with how others navigate their profile: what they post, their captions and the frequency of both. Personally, I don’t like selfies. I think more than two posts on Instagram daily is obnoxious and don’t see the point in tweeting where you’re eating dinner. I don’t know why people “check-in” everywhere they go and it’s annoying to me when friends change their profile picture constantly. It’ll be interesting to see who deletes me after reading this ; ) Naturally I think, “they want people to say they’re pretty, they have nothing better to do than post pictures and they just want me to know who they’re eating with.”

Heart problem.

I have friends who post selfies, pictures of their food, type countless hashtags and “share” every article they read. I decided that if I find myself bitter towards how a friend navigates social media, I shouldn’t follow them.

I encourage you to do the same. Facebook isn’t reality. Instagram isn’t reality. They’re fun, they’re convenient, they’re addicting. Authenticity is hard to find in social media and if you’ve found yourself discouraged or bitter towards someone via web, abort. Figure out what action works best for you and do it—there is nothing healthy about growing bitter towards someone just because of social media.

Rather than grow bitter, acknowledge your heart and do something about it!

When You Judge

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“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the                           ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater,                you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean.                        Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring                  at the outside of the tent.” –Dave Berry

I was a sophomore in high school when I had a revelation about stereotypes. It was before 7:45am in first period, Honors English 2. I had my bag on top of my desk with my face planted down. The bell rang and sounds of slush making their way off boots and mumbling filled the room. My classmate, I’ll call him Derek, hit my back with rolled paper practically shouting, “Lentz!” My body jolted with the girliest squeal from being startled. “Mary, hey. I read your essay and it was legit. Seriously, so good. I’d love to meet in the library to exchange notes if you’d be cool with that. Here,” he handed me my essay. “I took the liberty to write notes and dude, let’s talk.” In our class we were required to print and give all classmates a copy of our essays, but we weren’t required to read and give notes. He had voluntarily read my essay and jotted his thoughts down.

My high school
My high school

To paint a picture, Derek sported the same skinny black jeans every day with the same black beanie. His long brown hair curled along the edges of the beanie and he alternated amongst 2-3 zip-up hoodies. He snuck out for lunch as a freshman, had poor attendance and was a known drug-dealer at the school. Up until that point, we hadn’t exchanged words to each other, with the exception of classroom discussions. I unrolled my essay in second period that day and uncovered papers clothed in lines of intentional, purposeful notes.

Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom

My essay commended a hero of mine, Corrie ten Boom. She was a Christian who helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, and was imprisoned for it. I was shocked Derek took an interest. I trundled through my stack of classmates’ papers, found his, and was bewildered: he was, without a doubt, the strongest writer in our class. I metaphorically felt the claw of a hammer pry nails out of boxes I had built; boxes containing people who I had labeled, stereotyped and sealed away. I was disappointed with myself for not thinking of Derek anything more than a druggie. My first clue should have been that he enrolled in an honors class, but that is how boxed in he was to me. For the duration of the course Derek and I discussed pending essays. We didn’t have practically anything in common, we respected each other and our senses of humor meshed well. I enjoyed talking to him and the morning he approached me will always be a strong memory of mine.

The main hallway at school
The main hallway at school

During our library conversations I saw strong potential in Derek. He was naturally a strong academic, exuding joy. He respected all his classmates and teachers, which is rare for a 16 year old.

My heart shifted during Honors English 2. I believe God used Derek to reveal how His love is not grounded on choices and how I should not base whom I love off their choices. Derek dealt drugs, swore like a sailor, regularly skipped class. Beyond that he was loving, joyful, smart, quite the comedian. Honors English 2 was our last class together. He was a “school friend.” We’d walk to classes together if we caught each other in the hall, or walk to our cars together after school.

Under hypnosis
Under hypnosis

At the Senior Night Graduation party, two years after our class together, I was one of 20 to be chosen to get hypnotized. Derek ran up to me afterwards, practically tumbling me over. He said, “Lentz! Hilarious show up there. You the bomb, I’m going to go smoke…catch you at graduation?” I appreciated how, although he knew I didn’t smoke, he was open about his lifestyle. I’ve had friends who medicate, drink and whatnot hide information from me. Derek never did, showing he was confident in his decisions. Most importantly, it meant a lot to me because that showed his security in knowing I wasn’t judging him and cared for him despite his vices.

Today he is a college graduate, a Navy Seal, and happily married.

Derek’s choice to approach me one snowy morning was prodigious for my heart. I can see God that morning thinking, “I am so excited Mary’s heart will be provoked today.”

Several have described me as non-judgmental and I am complimented regularly on how I seek to know people for who they are, not what they are known for or their looks. I am strongly agitated when people make false accusations or have quick assumptions towards others–but this comes from years of learning and the tangible reason roots from Derek, a classmate who made questionable decisions academically and financially, but spent his love tank admirably, with such intentional love for others.

A second note that may seem unrelated, but I feel important for this post is this….
When I’m treated poorly by someone I barely know, it’s easy to judge. The cashier at the grocery store might be sassy, the barista may roll eyes when I return a drink, or the AT&T employee gives attitude despite putting me hold for an hour. I could easily think, “I’m giving you business…I am entitled to great customer service!”

By the kindness (and humor) of God I was that clerk on the other side of the counter for seven years. I ran the concession stand at the Little League Field, served chocolate in a mall, sorted dirty clothes at a dry cleaners and made coffee for needy, eager customers. I worked shifts on days that were personally terrible. I worked the day I learned my Gramma had cancer, the day our family pet died, the day my torn ACL knee gave out, the day after I was in a car accident and had a concussion, the day a guy I liked said he only saw me as a friend and how I was, “the Queen of platonic relationships”…and the day I didn’t get into a school I applied to.

So many employees we see have had hard days, yet they leave it at the door, put a smile on and attempt to make our experience great. That barista who isn’t smiling when you tip $0.25 may have learned her mom has a tumor, her brother has to stay in Iraq another six months or she simply may have a fever and feels nauseas but she is trying her very best to get through the shift so she can escape to rest.

I’ve seen all of the above.

If I hadn’t worked in customer service, the perspective I wrote above would not be cultivated in my heart. I try and take that perspective with me everywhere and when treated poorly, attempt to put myself in the shoes of those who “wronged” me and believe the best in them.
In retrospect, my job as an employee was to give customers the benefit of the doubt with kindness.

Snippets of my customer service days
Snippets of my customer service days

I’m not solely communicating we need to be nice to rude servers. I am bringing this full circle and suggesting those in customer service need to be nice to ill-mannered customers, and customers need to be nice to rude servers. Essentially strive to be kind to everyone, being mindful that they may have had the worst day. Many times when I paused to ask how a customer was doing their answer far out-weighed my current problems. I’ll never forget asking a regular customer what she up to that day. This girl, in her late teens, came in every morning for a tea latte. On one particular day she came in around 1pm, looking sour and unpleasant. She didn’t come in that morning so I figured she had an early release from school. I asked what she was up to that day and was stunned. She was meeting her dad’s friend because she found out her dad had brain cancer earlier that morning. He had a month, at the most, to live.

I remember taking a moment in the back room to cry. She received news I only fear to hear. What is more sad (and real) is countless, if not all people, walk the streets facing turbulence of their own.

“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” -Billy Graham

If we sat in a room with 20 people and shared our burdens, our scars, I believe most, if not all, would choose to walk away with what they walked in with. I don’t think we would choose to carry another person’s hardships.

The conviction stemmed from Derek was nearly 10 years ago. Looking back today, I see how my heart change then prepared me for the several “Dereks.” Countless people walked in my life after Honors English dealing with vices I once would not have not necessarily judged them for doing, but I’d assume they were just like all other people who acted the same. Working in Entertainment in the heart of Hollywood it’s rare, at times seems impossible, to meet someone who doesn’t resort to some vice as a way of survival.

If I hadn’t looked past Derek’s exterior I don’t know how my heart would have carved out. If I hadn’t worked in customer service for nearly a decade I wouldn’t have the empathy I have for those today in customer service. By having my heart provoked, by living difficult days and facing tough situations, I am more understanding, more loving, more wise.

I’d like to end with one of my favorite simple, profound quotes.

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” –C.S. Lewis


When You Delay Calling Jesus because You don’t have it “All Together”

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I think most of us, at one point or another, spiritually believe that if we do “A, B, and C,” we’ll get “X, Y, and Z.” That, if we act a certain way, God will give us what we want. We may know God’s love for us isn’t performance based, but it’s easy to get in the mind-set of acting as if His love is earned through our thoughts and actions. 

For many years I’ve felt that I’ve been in a harvesting season. Makes sense, I’m in my 20’s…I’ll probably feel this way until I’m 67. Until now in my life, college was my busiest and fullest emotionally. I vividly remember leaving work at midnight, driving home knowing I had a paper to write, a shift the next morning, and an exam directly after that shift. Tears streamed down my face driving, hands shaking, eyes puffy. Exhaustion overwhelmed me and getting home I would pull my oily hair in a pony tail, heat up the latte I took home, blast Enya, and knock out a paper.

171100_10150089711027867_7747478_oAt that hour it wasn’t rare to get a text saying, “hey Mare, me and [boyfriend name] had a huge fight and I’m seriously depressed. I know it’s late… can you talk?” In these moments I would think ,“Jesus would call” and call my friend, blowing off my paper. Do I think that was the wisest? For me, yes, because I am stubborn when it comes to my friends and being there for them. Wise academically? No.

If I told my friend I was busy and would call her tomorrow she would love me the same. If I called her then she still would love me the same. Now, did she feel more important because I called in the moment? Yes. Because, when we’re having bad days we feel important and loved when someone stops whatever they’re doing to listen, despite their busy life.

Before I called my friend I sighed deeply, smacked my head in my textbook and reluctantly dialed. Would Jesus sigh and smack His head in a book if I said, “Hey Jesus…I’m depressed. Can you talk?”


No He certainly would not.

In this scenario my friend, despite me calling her immediately, is more like Jesus than I was.

[allow time to let the cheesy analogy to soak in]

When we tell Jesus we’ll talk to Him tomorrow, He will be patient and wait. He loves us the same then as much as He does now. He wants us to call on Him when we need help and stop whatever we’re doing to talk to Him.  He is jealous of our time and takes delight when we spend time with Him. That has always been hard for me to have confidence in– that God delights in me when I’m being a ranting rat and venting off about my life. He does though! He wants me to go to Him before any of my friends with my worries and cast my problems before Him.

1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Psalm 55:22: Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Taken during a study session one Saturday. My face here is exactly how it was when my friend called. Trying to be gracious...trying
Taken during a study session one Saturday. My face here is exactly how it was when my friend called. Trying to be gracious…trying

And that is why, even when I seek to be like Jesus, I will never be anything close. I’m sinful by nature and even though it was selfless and kind to call my friend, my heart didn’t delight in talking to her that night. I was tired, had just worked 8 hours, had a paper to write and would have much rather spent the sacrificial 20 minutes to take a warm shower than listen to yet another fight my friend and her boyfriend had.
Some say I talk to Jesus in a non-traditional way, some say they’ve done the same thing…who knows, we do what we do. During those times when I cried on my drive home knowing how much I had to conquer I started to imagine Jesus in the passenger seat asking me how my day went. I would out loud talk to my empty seat as if He was physically present. God is everywhere and I knew I could pray or simply cry, but I would pretend He asked how my day went and I would, still do, talk my day out, out loud, alone in my car. I’ll go all out with, “I feel manipulated! I’m not superwoman here who can just conquer the world!” The filth in my heart comes out. Since I talk directly to Jesus and not to a friend, my heart usually churns as I’m talking. I’m talking to my Father, Best Friend, Savior and Lord about problems He DOES care about. My heart becomes more calm, more loving to those I’m bitter towards, more grateful, more full.

I challenge those to silence themselves and talk to Jesus as if He asked how your day was. Go in detail, don’t cover anything up. He already knows more than you about your day, so give Him your perspective and I guarantee He will give you His in return.

But, it’s tough.

In our day and age, specifically with technology and the pulls of society, to shut off all distractions and sounds and silence ourselves before God. For me it’s easier to get in my car, turn on the radio and allow my brain to go numb until I hit the pillow. I know praying and inviting God to spend time with me will always end with feeling better….so why don’t I consistently do that?

My personal answer changes regularly. Either I’m too tired, would rather have a tangible response from a friend or I don’t want to pray and talk to God because I know my sin will surface and I’m not ready to repent. Knowing to repent and not repenting is sinning again so, the cycle for me easily can start going. I grow so upset with myself for not being disciplined or doing what I know is right. At that point all I can think is, “I’ll come back to you God when I have everything together.”




How Kansas Prepared me for Hollywood


I moved to L.A for one reason: I believe God called me to. I didn’t want to. I internally kicked and screamed until God smacked me in the face with an open door I couldn’t refuse. He didn’t have to, but He is characterized by being sweet when I’m sour. In 2009 I moved to Kansas City from Chicago for the same reason and established myself. Moving there was easier because I liked the mid-west…I have never liked the West coast. That is, until I actually moved here. Ridiculous, I know.

On the trip down to Kansas in '09 my car decided to have the hiccups
On the trip down to Kansas in ’09 my car decided to have the hiccups

Two and a half years living in Kansas I felt that I needed to change my major from Business/Journalism to Film/Communications. From that moment on I thought, “God….if you’re wanting me in Film and believe in me, trust me within the film industry, you’re going to put me in L.A aren’t you.” And….bada bing bada boom, I am here–writing this in the heart of Hollywood. Given my personality, I belong in the mountains where it’s gloomy, rainy, snowy and filled with coffee, Death Cab for Cutie tunes, scarfs and conversation. I’m a one on one person, I like heart to hearts. I don’t like networking or chitchat, I like depth. Yet, I am ambitious, a dreamer, an executer…one who likes to get things done and get them done well. Laziness is one of my pet peeves. Before moving, my idea of Los Angeles was encompassed with a bubble of superficial people who are selfish, eat kale, think they’re the best, juice for every meal and have the attitude of, “you should be so lucky to visit the best city on planet earth.” Turns out I’m in the city of Dreamers:  populated by hard-working, ambitious, executing people. I did not know why I was going to Kansas in 2009, except that God wanted me to. That part was clear as day. I took a giant leap of faith and can’t imagine my life without the friends I met there. Friends I made needed me in their life, and them in mine.  God knew friends I made needed someone who would pray continually, encourage them–me. He knew I needed laughter, friends who valued loyalty and quality time, which each of them did. However,  those years were the hardest in all categories: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Pure, innocent me became best friends with people who were addicted to drugs, sex, alcohol….emotionally breaking my heart on the daily. I dealt with nightly calls from friends drunk driving, others calling me from AA after they relapsed. I had many friends on the edge of overdosing, friends who chose abortion. I had a hard time focusing on school or work when I knew what my friends were facing. My heart would cry, “Lord, why do you have me walking life out with these people? I haven’t walked what they are walking, I can’t relate. And yet you put them here, depending on me and wanting to spend time with me.”

A few of the people who made the initial Kansas years a blast
A few of the people who made the initial Kansas years a blast

Lesson I learned from that: God uses me to help people with struggles I don’t struggle with. I’ve always been different from my peers. I went to public High School, never liking the party scene, as well as choosing not to date. I chose not to date in High School because I didn’t see the point and decided my free time should be invested in hobbies or friendships with my close girlfriends.  I’ve held the word of Truth tightly since an early age, which automatically set me apart from classmates, co-workers, anyone alike. This transcended into college as being the girl with high standards, one who never compromised. Ironically, I became friends with people whose personality and lifestyles were complete opposite to mine,  leaving me wondering how on earth we got so close. I found the drug dealer in high school more hilarious than the worship leader at youth group, I thought the “school slut” had a heart of gold, one that truly, genuinely cared for everyone, whereas I had a hard time taking a leader at church seriously because when I was vulnerable she would interrupt and say, “I’ll pray for you.” The attention seeking girl in school listened intently, gave words of comfort, followed with a big hug. The church leader heard me, the girl listened.   Drugs and board games may connect people momentarily, but souls connect magnetically. Despite my friends seeking fulfillment differently than how I did, we connected. God divinely orchestrated my timing in meeting those in high school and Kansas, knowing both parties would benefit, learn, and grow in different ways. God called me to Kansas not to enjoy the scenery, although that was a perk, but to reach people and for people to reach me.

My view for many years. Apron, dirty shoes, espresso rag.
My view for many years. Apron, dirty shoes, espresso rag.

Another view I grew used to.    In Jr. High I asked for a non-cliché life, a life that was different, one where I would make a change and making an imprint on my path. I trusted that God would answer this, but was curious as to where He’d have me. If I wrote my story I would not say, “hum, I think going to America’s heartland would be great…because I want to end up in Hollywood. Kansas is the perfect place to prepare me for Hollywood.” People would think I was crazy for having that logic. In fact, they did. Telling people in Chicago I was going to a Jr. College in Kansas was rough because I was drilled for my reasoning. The main reason was “God told me,” but 17-year-old High School seniors require a lot more. Their questions were valid:

  • “You have a great GPA, why not apply to a University?”
  • “Why are you in these extra-curricular activities if you are just going to settle for a community college?”
  • “Why KANSAS?”

Thankfully, God went before me and gave me a lot of strength and words of grace to respond to them. I am one sensitive, compassionate, empathetic person. I’m easily affected by problems that are not mine. It’s easy for me to carry other people’s burdens. People were worried for me growing up because they knew I was fragile and delicate. God has used those characteristics, however, and cultivated what people viewed as weaknesses and churned them into strengths. If He had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.   1479065_10152084850132867_400569536_n   Kansas was where He marinated me and prepared me for Los Angeles. For nearly five years I learned how to live independently: how to budget well, pay bills, fix sinks, vacuums and deal with dead squirrels left on my porch. I learned how to love, communicate and appreciate personalities from all spectrums. I learned how I grieve death and the loss of friendship. Who knows what life would have looked like if I had chosen what man thought made sense: The University of Kansas, University of Illinois or my local college in Illinois. I’m sure I would have learned similar lessons, but I believe moving to Kansas was His best for me and has prepared me best for where I am today, California.

Surrounded by some of my favorite people, taken in KC at my graduation party, three weeks before moving
Surrounded by some of my favorite people, taken in KC at my graduation party, three weeks before moving

Lesson from Kansas: no matter how you feel, obey. Obeying what I believe was the Voice of the Lord to move to Kansas didn’t stop there with choosing obedience. Obedience is something chosen daily.  When I chose obedience, I was blessed with much. I gained a best friend within a month of moving to Kansas, Anna…i.e. Beck. She moved in 2010 back to Colorado, and I wanted to quit LatteLand, where I met her. I didn’t find the job fun and I didn’t feel appreciated. If I quit when I wanted to then, after Beck moved, I wouldn’t have met Tori or Danielle, who are now two of my best friends and two of the co-workers who begun shortly after Anna moved. When I transferred to the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2011 I wanted to quit LatteLand. If I was starting over with a new school I thought, why not start over with a new job? But nope, I prayed about it and it was another “stay with LatteLand” feeling. There was another LatteLand location a mile away from my new school. I transferred there. If I had quit when I wanted to (again) before transferring schools, I would have never met Patrick or Jack, two of my all-time favorite people. Working with them and the other co-workers was my favorite time in Kansas City. I loved my school, my classes, and this new crew at LatteLand. For over a year no one quit, no one was hired. We had the longest running consistent crew LatteLand has ever seen.

Patrick and I, circa 2011
Patrick and I, circa 2011
Jack and I, circa 2012
Jack and I, circa 2012

In 2012 our beloved Jack took his own life, the hardest thing I have and hopefully ever will walk through. I wanted to quit then, but I stayed. I only stayed because when I prayed I felt strongly that I should stay.  I’m still wondering why God had me stay, I may not ever know. Sure, I’ve made a lot of great friends there since his death, but having to work in the physical space I built a strong friendship in was unbearable. Obedience was asked in my home life, too. I had an adorable apartment on the Plaza with Danielle, and I felt tugged to move out. I didn’t know where I would move, but I knew God was releasing me to move. Not only did He provide for me after that moment, but He provided for me BIG. Before, I was driving to school from my apartment, paying for a space at school.  This new house was a street away, making it easy to walk to class. My rented ended up being 50% less than my apartment. Before I was living with someone who had a different lifestyle, the roommates in this house lived very similar to how I live.  Danielle and I are still very close, and the girls I met moving from my apartment to this house are some of my closest friends, favorite people ever.

Danielle and I in our Plaza apartment
Danielle and I in our Plaza apartment

Lesson I learned about chasing dreams: sacrifice is the only thing that will suffice. I sacrificed a lot to get to where I am today. I chose more hours at work to have less debt– resulting in never having a Saturday off. Ever. I chose to take harder classes such as Linguistics and Accounting rather than Bowling or an Independent Study course….just so I was better educated. I chose, for two years, to drive 45 minutes twice a week for a three hour Sign Language night class. I learned that to learn or accomplish something, it means to sacrifice all fun things. I thought that because I wanted to know how to know how to Sign, going to the class would be fun. Mmmm, no. 80% of the time I dreaded driving to class. My days were jammed with opening the coffee shop at 5:45am, off at 11am, class from 12-4pm, driving to Sign Language from 5-9:30pm. My energy by that point was as high as a dandelion that has gone to seed, and the world blew me into the wind, wishing me the best.

In-between work, homework and classes I invested my free time in people. Shifts shuffled weekly, forcing me to be spontaneous, planning things moment by moment. Those moments of free time involved meeting a friend for lunch, coffee, or meeting up after a shift and bringing them a free latte to their apartment. I am a people person, and with everything that was on my plate, I am so thankful God provided those time slots for me to grow in many friendships.

Shekinah, my home the last two years in Kansas City
Shekinah, my home the last two years in Kansas City
The amazing women I moved in with after the Plaza apartment. From left: Jordan, Christiana, Erica and I
The amazing women I moved in with after the Plaza apartment. From left: Jordan, Christiana, Erica and I

So, what is the point of elaborating on all I did throughout my time in Kansas, how I chose to set high goals for myself academically and invested all free time in people? This is why: the harder you face, the wiser you become.                                              Ecclesiastes 1:18 says this:

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says this: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  Asking God to bring me people to love sometimes ended in much sorrow. 

  • When a friend followed through with an abortion, that brought sorrow.
  • When a friend had her heart broken and cried on my bed for two days, that brought sorrow.
  • When best friend’s moved away, that brought sorrow.
  • When a friend decided not to talk to me for two months because he didn’t want to confront me in an area he hurt me in, that brought sorrow.
  • When a close friend chose to kill himself, more sorrow than I wish on anyone 
Danielle and I at Jack's funeral
Danielle and I at Jack’s funeral

I was vulnerable in friendships, loved many deeply. Occasionally through opening myself emotionally ended in hurt and pain. I am quite familiar with crying into my pillow, pulling over my car to cry, journaling until my pen runs out of ink and marking my bible with tear stains. In the end, C.S. Lewis is right: to love is to be vulnerable. It is better to love than to love not at all. My college years were not about making lattes or earning my degree. It was about people, the friendships. God loves seeing us passionate, talented and excited about things. A few of my favorite things are editing, film, kitties, coffee and cold weather. He brought me to a school with a great film program, provided me with a job where I had unlimited coffee for years, blessed me with a kitty Karen–all in a place with the four seasons. He knew the desires of my heart and fulfilled them. Last October I knew I needed to move to Los Angeles, but I was kicking and screaming internally. God knew I would go, but He knew I didn’t want to go.  Once I knew I was leaving after graduation, I prayed for doors to open. Weeks went by where I didn’t know anything, except that I was moving to Los Angeles. I am a planner; I like having a game plan. I think because of that God has enjoyed waiting until the last minute to provide, just so  I’m reminded who the Provider is–Him. He is the planner. Weeks past and I felt that I was in a hotel hallway, with every door unknown to me. I prayed God would open a door, any door. I was desperate and committed to walking through whatever He had. THE next day my brother asked me to call him. I won’t ever forget calling him at midnight after my shift and hearing him explain what had happened: he was asked to find someone to move into a beautiful home with an amazing set-up. Just like that, it was settled.

At the air-port January 15, departing to Los Angeles
At the air-port January 15, departing to Los Angeles

Here I am, in Hollywood, working in the Post-Production department for a television show. I’ve grown to love this city and in just five months have been blessed beyond measure. I see my siblings regularly, found a church I love with solid, solid people.  I landed a position that is nearly impossible to get with great people, am living in a safe, beautiful neighborhood with the most kind-hearted, funny, inspiring woman. Who knows what my future will bring, but if I continue to laugh, pray, listen & obey, I know I’m in for an adventure–a non-cliché life. 1972516_10152255866357867_413542838_n

Grampa Elliott & Gramma Joyce


My family moved from California when I was very young– so I didn’t grow up with Gramma and Grampa nearby. They visited every year though for weeks at a time, and through that I was able to grow close with them. They have things about them that us kids always talk about: Gramma’s chocolate chip cookies, the blankets she makes us, the smell of the blankets, Grandpa’s phrases, their recliners, the food trays, FOX news, Gramma’s magnets, water bottles in the car, never ending watermelon and strawberries, the kitchen bowls, Norman Rockwell figurines, pictures on their way….things that make seeing them, them. They would take each of us six kids out for breakfast one-on-one and ask about our life, give advice, and encourage us. Both of them have set such a strong example to us kids. They’ve been married for nearly 54 years, and are completely adorable. Grandpa still calls her “dear,” and sometimes I think she knows what he’ll say before he says it.

Reading in the Eagle River cabin
Reading in the Eagle River cabin

Grampa Elliott:
He is characterized as being wise, humble, funny, loyal, smart, and having a strong faith. Does it get better than that?! He loves FOX news, scotch, building things, reading the newspaper, valuing the importance of education, relaxing, eating Gramma’s food, and supporting us grand kids in all that we do. My heart gets all smiles when I think of him because he is so sweet to us Granddaughters, so tender. I look up to him for his wisdom, his angles on situations are unique, and I love listening to him. He isn’t intense with anything, and I appreciate that. I didn’t grow up with him or Gramma pressuring me to be more like one sibling or another yet instead being encouraged to embrace the skills and gifts I was given. However when I turned down FOX he let me know he would have liked his Granddaughter to have worked there 😉 Rightfully so though.

A few memories of Grampa:
I was 7 I think and we went out to breakfast. They let me get anything I wanted and I loved French toast then the same as I do now, so I ordered the French Toast Combo. He heard my order and said, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
When I was 8 they flew me out for a month. Grampa picked me up, with of course two water bottle sitting in the front seat, and on the way home he told me that I could have whatever I wanted for lunch, and then I would swim (they have the BEST underground swimming pool in their backyard) and afterwards I could watch all the TV I wanted. “So ya not a whole lot planned for today,” he said, and my eyes were so wide. Being the middle of six kids I didn’t necessarily call the shots on how the day would look. He saw my face and said, “well alright! Not a lot of planning we gotta do with you to make you happy huh!?” Nope.

Me and Grandpa, I don't quite get the concept of smiling for the camera yet
Me and Grampa, I don’t quite get the concept of smiling for the camera yet
Three generations about to go to dinner together
Three generations about to go to dinner together

Him and Gramma joined us for a few years in Eagle River and had their own cabin. One year Grandpa brought the family tree and talked through each person on that tree. That was a precious moment for everyone, listening to him. On that note I’ll bring up this: I am in a blood line where divorce is extremely rare. As he went through everyone up until now very few have gotten divorced and I am thankful for being in a blood line that values the covenant of marriage so strongly.

When I was younger during a visit to California I remember Grampa drove me to meet up with a family friend and we were early to the destination. We went to Coco’s (a diner) and he ordered an unsweetened iced tea. As a 9 year old I ordered the same thing, not knowing just how UNsweet it’d be. It was disgusting. I was used to my mom making sweet tea all my life. And here I was with my Grampatrying to be cool and drink what he had. Well, I drank only half because I could not do it. I don’t think he even noticed what was going on, but I remember the taste, but even more I remember feeling cool for ordering what my Grampa drank. On the note of drinking what Grampa drank this past visit out to California I drank his signature drink, and loved it. Every night before bed he has a scotch neat, and he was happy to hear I do too.
165400_10151607652177867_666589398_n                575418_10151607652227867_709485583_n

Grandpa and Amy, 2008
Him and Amy, 2008

Along with my memories, I like seeing him with my other siblings. Seeing him watch my brother’s play sports, taking my brothers out for “man talks,” talking politics with my sister (not partaking, but seeing my sister soak in what he says), and seeing him talk with my parents.

During a dinner in Eagle River we celebrated my mom’s birthday. Grampa took a moment to honor her as his daughter-in-law, and praised her for homeschooling us six kids. I remember it because I could tell how deep he appreciated it, and how deep it set with my mom.

John and Grandpa talking
John listening

Hearing him tell me the story about how he and Gramma Joyce met.


He is one of the best men I know, and I look up to him in several different areas. He is cherished, loved, and respected by all.


Gramma Joyce

My name is Mary Joyce. Her name is Joyce. My name carries her name, and I wouldn’t have it another way. We are also a lot alike, which is great. We both are night owls, have a lot of energy, don’t like shopping, enjoy reading, alone time, projects, and sitting and enjoying the company of close friends and family.
Gramma has taught me so much over the years of growing up. For one, she has taught me that one has to learn how to say “no.”  It’s HARD, but when I need to say no I think of Gramma and how she values that. She has empathized the importance of relationships with family, telling me all through the years about how important it is to stay close to my siblings. Her faith is inspiring, and God sure does hear her prayers. She has the gift of healing, wisdom, intercession. She is servant hearted and is selfless. She is very honest, patient, and kind. Also is pretty much the best cook and defiantly has a “Gramma’s touch” to everything. Everything is better when Gramma makes it.

Memories of Gramma.
Well first, her smell and hugs are very distinct and I feel “ahhhh” at home when she’s around, if that makes sense.
When I was 8 and visited for that month my mom was back home having brain surgery for a brain tumor. I was 8, so I didn’t know the details. But I do remember swimming one afternoon and Gramma explained to me that my mom got a hair-cut in the hospital and that she would look different when I got home. Looking back she was so sweet and explained everything in such a great way to an 8 year old granddaughter. That’d be hard.
When I was around 10 visiting I played so hard in the pool I got a headache and didn’t feel well. Either I had too much sun or drank the pool water. But I remember she gave me a foot massage, had me close my eyes and prayed for me.
The blue blankets she made for me, and my yellow one.

Amy and I sharing each other's blankets that Gramma made
Amy and I sharing each other’s blankets that Gramma made

Simply sitting and visiting. Hearing her stories about her growing up, her in college and becoming a nurse. Telling her my stories also. She not only listens but she gives great feedback. She doesn’t interrupt either, and I have come to appreciate that SO much. Someone who doesn’t interrupt.
Having her explain to me the importance of eternity and how life on earth is a spec compared to what eternity will be.
When I was 15 my mom hosted essentially a “Womanhood” party. All the important women in my life atteneded and encouraged me with words of love and advice. Gramma sat next to me and when she spoke to me it was so precious. Yes there were tears, and I remember feeling so loved.

The emails, the phone calls, and the letters from her. I am so thankful for having a Gramma who invests in her grandkids, who deeply cares for us. I know it has been hard living far away, it has on both sides, but I am so happy that even due to that we’ve made it work with keeping in contact. Through college I have been SO busy and she understands and waits for life to calm down before playing catch up. I like how catch up picks up where it left off. Her and Grandpa are always supportive, and I enjoy telling them what I’ve been up to.

Taken May 2013
Taken May 2013

Anytime I visit Gramma wants to have the food I like, and to cook me the food I like. She loves sitting and talking with me, and with activities she wants me doing only what I want to do, not what she wants me to do. It’s always relaxing going to Gramma and Grandpa’s. I love going to their house.

They’ve influenced my life heavily. They’ve shown me what a strong marriage looks like, how well they love as spouses, parents, and grandparents. I admire, appreciate, respect, deeply love and cherish both of them so much.




I met this energizer, encourager and organizer less than a year ago and she became one of my best friends.

In April of last year I started to look for another place to live in Kansas City and a friend of mine I had lost contact with was looking for a roommate. I reconnected with her and we both thought that her house would fit me well. She said there were three other girls who lived there and explained each of them to me. Through her descriptions I liked all of them. A room wasn’t open until June so mid June I moved into this adorable blue home where three incredible women lived. I knew Erica, but not the other two. I would love to focus on all of them, but my heart has wanted to write about this specific friend for a while.

Christiana. When I met her I thought we would get along, but I didn’t think we would become such besties. My first few weeks in the house were busy with work and being a sloth on the couch because it was so hot outside. Christiana babysat, ran errands and hung out with her boyfriend. There were two moments when I thought “oh okay okay we’re gonna be close.” The first was her birthday. I had lived, let alone known her for shy of 10 days when she invited me to be apart of her birthday evening. Birthdays to me are intimate and her evening was intimate with just a few close friends and yet she included me. Maybe she was being nice to the new girl, but I don’t care. Moving into a house where three girls who were best friends lived was tough, because I was the outsider. However, these ladies made the transition heart-warming. The first day I lived there the four of us went to Target and that weekend we went to the movies. Then Christiana included me in her birthday night. Their hearts were so kind so, really, who WOULDN’T want to be their friend?!
The second moment, which is more vivid for me was when we were driving back from her parents in Lee Summit, the night before she left for Hong Kong for 5 weeks. A few days prior to this she started telling me her life story. Up until this car ride I had listened to possibly 8 hours of her life, and I felt like we were finished. On the car ride home though she opened up to me on a level most of my close friends of years don’t go to. And, not to brag, but people do open to me easily so Christiana’s trust in me meant the world to me.

She left for Hong Kong the next morning. So you get the picture. She had a set life with a job, close friends, awesome boyfriend, and an amazing family. She didn’t have to make an effort to get to know  me, nor did I. I don’t remember vivid details, which is rare, but I do know that I’ve always felt blessed to have moved in with her and I’m to this day so thankful I met her. I can’t imagine my life without her as my friend and I get weirded out thinking that she wasn’t in my life simply a year ago.

Christiana is many things. She is self-motivated, productive, funny, beautiful, tender-hearted, tough-skinned, intelligent, loves people, can talk longer than anyone I have ever met, joyful, loyal to all, fun…the list can go on for miles. Her quirks crack me UP. She notices if a plant is moved by an inch, she quotes movies. Not any movies though….movies from 1998 that no one remember. Madeline, Tangled, Parent Trap, Emperor’s New Groove, Lizzie McGuire and Ice Age are just a few of the “go to” movies she’ll quote. When you walk in a room her eyes get big, she’ll tip her head back and say “hiiiii.” If she doesn’t see you for two days she’ll snap chat you with a whining face and caption it saying “miss youuuuu.” She loves trying new things and is always down for an adventure.

She came to keep me company as I edited. Good friend :)
She came to keep me company as I edited. Good friend 🙂

To say she makes me laugh is an understatement. Not because she has the best jokes, but just how she is can be hysterical. I think part of this is because we are different so when she does or says things that are so opposite of me I can’t help but laugh. However, and this is a big one, we both are similar in how we like living, which is the biggest blessing EVER. We’re both clean, practical, understanding of space, can say, “I’m going to go be in a room for a while,” share the same morals, are very responsible and remember exactly what we need  to do, when we need to do it.

Favorite memories:
-Doing homework in my room, hearing a knock at my door and ending up talking for hours with her.
-Going shopping with her. She was so blunt with my choices. “No Mary. That isn’t flattering. You seeeee  you have a great hip to waist ratio. You have to show that.” She took shirts from me and replaced them with ones of her choice. If you ever see me in a black and white striped shirt, that was her pick.
-Going to dinner with her and Christian. I was working one night when the two of them came to visit me. I hadn’t gotten to know either of them well and it was their date night. Christian invited me to dinner with the two of them and they invested the entire dinner in getting to know me.
-Her movie quoting. It’s out of control.
-If we are out of town together and share a bed. That girl gets so giddy about sleepovers you’d think she was in the 3rd grade. I think she still is. These are favorite memories because we’ll stay up for hours upon hours talking.
-She is predicable, but also very unpredictable. Predicable in where I could guess what her stance would be on a topic, how she has “go to” phrases such as “that was EEEPIC,” “you’re such a noob,” and many others. She is unpredictable in the way she’ll go about something. I never know what “Christiana” I’ll come home to. A joyful one, always, but how she greets me is always different. It’s never just a “oh hey.” She greets me as if she is (she is) SO happy I’m home, which makes me so excited to see her cute purple car in the driveway. If she thinks I’m home she’ll shout from upstairs “Mary!?” and if I see her as I enter the house her eyes will get big and go “Heeeeellllooooo” with a big smile. Sometimes it’s a head nod or a hug. My favorite now is when she is on the search for me she says my name in a tone I can’t even articulate and say “Medwy!” It cracks me up. She is animated, quirky, full of life, and someone everyone loves being around.

-Going out the two of us and talking. I think we could talk forever, and have. If it’s on the phone, on my bed, in the car, sitting at a fancy restaurant booth or waiting for church to start, we chat it UP. We also know how to chill, and memories of sitting around the table doing homework or lounging on our computers in the living room are moments I’ll cherish.
-Meeting up for lattes after my night classes.
-We had a snow day and we went out, got Baileys and Champagne, and spent two days watching movies, getting cabin fever together and yelling at the snow.
-I’ll always remember going to the KC Royals game with her. Not because of the game, but I knew then, more than I already had, that she was a friend I’d go to these events in the years to come once we’re either working, married, both, whatever life brings.
-She is very protective over me and has highest of standards for whoever I end up with. Whenever I’ve talked about showing interest in someone she’ll squint her eyes and slowly say, “interesssssting” or “go ooooon.”
-Having her and Christian visit me and my family over Christmas break this year. It was fun having her get to know my family—I think it gives anyone a better picture of me.

I’m sitting here thinking of fun adventures we’ve done and yes, we’ve done fun things, but my favorite, as said many times already is just talking with her. I think that’s when you know you’ve found a good friend: when you don’t have to go shopping, eat at classy places or invite others for a good time. The two of you can be in any place no matter the atmosphere, and enjoy the other’s company.


Christiana is a woman of conviction, vulnerability, and loyalty. She appreciates people for who they are. Who they are internally and externally. She is quick to compliment me in both those areas. So much so I have to say “a kaaaaay stop. No.” She just laughs and goes “YES MARY YES!”

I graduate in December and the option of moving is real. I’ve loved the last 4 years in Kansas City and I wouldn’t mind having a new chapter start somewhere else. I’m also heartbroken thinking about this possibility. I deeply care about everyone here in KC and the thought of leaving anyone kills me. Christiana is one of the people who I would be so sad to leave. However, if I did, she is a friend who I know wouldn’t drift apart from me. I’m secure in our friendship and know she’ll be around in decades to come. I don’t say that about every friend frankly because I know that isn’t realistic for a lot of people.

I hit the jack-pot with friends. I am always myself around her. I can be over the top goofy, talkative, introspective, blunt, anything. We have seen each other in times of almost any: mourning, sorrow, rejoicing, and laughter. Not only is she fun, kind, outgoing and joyful to everyone, as a friend she is loyal. She doesn’t see a mistake and write anyone off. She is a challenger and as a friend she expects you to meet your potential, to do great things. She knows life is hard and through struggles she won’t stand by and say “yea, I’ll stay here and let you mourn in your sorrows.” She also isn’t a pushover and doesn’t conform into what people may want her to be. She thinks ahead and has the attitude of, “this is hard. I know it’s hard. But in this will be a change and it is up to you to make a positive change.” That speaks to her optimism. She is deep. She doesn’t get to know someone and keep it on surface level, which is a main reason we are so close. I am anything but surface level. Small chat drives me nuts. She has trusted me with telling me where her heart is in different areas of life and I am so honored. I am so thankful I have her as a friend for life and am immensely blessed to have her as a roommate. I moved into this house not thinking I needed another best friend, but God knew I would need her and I am forever grateful.




“Not everyone are Rachael’s and all nice with roses and butterflies, Mary!”

A friend told me this after I said I didn’t care for his friends. He had spent time with Rachael and me and, like most people, she leaves an overwhelming impression of happiness and friendliness with anyone she meets. Her joy, laughter, humor, generosity and humbleness can’t be stressed enough. God has blessed her with a beautiful voice that lifts the hair on arms straight up, she is self-motivated and at a young age has managed groups of people who are 10+ years her senior. I consider this treasure, this beauty, one of my best friends and truly one of my sisters.

If you’ve read my other posts of friends, you would have come across Kimberly, who is Rachael’s sister. In that, and I’ll include in here also, I’ve known Rachael since I was born. Our mom’s were roommates in college and started their own families in the same church. My family moved from California in 1994, but had kept in extremely close contact with Rachael’s entire family. Starting when I was eight I would go to California for the summer and for years I’d spend more than a week at Rachael’s house. We have so many precious childhood memories together.
During high school Rachael’s family was lead to Kansas and I was so excited, because I had felt for a while that I would too end up there. And I did, in the summer of 2009. It felt so weird, that after so many years of not living close, we finally did! I remember going to the movies, hanging out at her apartment or just sitting in a restaurant for hours talking. We had separate lives: worked at different stores, went to different schools and lived a couple miles apart, but we managed to hang once in a while. I love that we just “go with the flow” when we see each other. Because we’ve known each other since forever there is never a need to explain our past, give references or tie in a current story with the past. We can just talk and I love it.

Kim and Rachael
Kim and Rachael

287_16875662866_1909_nK, time to make her feel uncomfortable with major compliments. It will be hard because I have SO many so it’ll be scattered, but know I mean everyone full-heartedly.
She is one of the most righteous women I know. She strives to do what’s right and is the first to tell you if she was in the wrong. She has humility that she will be rewarded for. She is laid-back and I think that’s a reason we get along so well. We love peace and just chilling. She’ll laugh at that.
She is selfless. Whenever we hang out it’s so frustrating because we want to do what the other wants to do. It takes so long deciding. However, we have grown because now we WILL say where we DON’T want to go and if we want to do something we’ll say “I’m kinda feeling…” or “I could go for…”
That’s one example of many. Rachael won’t take time to talk about herself, she’ll want to know about you. She knows what to ask to make you feel like her friend instantly. She’ll listen with a wide smile and is so gracious. She is slow to anger and quick to listen. If she loves you and is comfortable enough, she’ll pick you up while hugging you. Oh yea she is also extremely strong…I don’t know how she is as strong as she is. It’s Solomon strong. She is optimistic. While talking (at least with me) she doesn’t put walls up and we’re both very honest with each other. She loves conflict-resolution and isn’t afraid to solve problems. I love that.
*Our Bernie Mac quote.

Anson, Rachael and Jen
Anson, Rachael and Jen

Times with her.
*Sharing a bed.
When I visited as a nine-year-old we shared a bed. Giggling, fighting for blankets, being woken up by Anson jumping on us (not cool).
*Sleeping on her trampoline outside.
*On the way to church one morning she spilled an entire cup of coffee on my tan pants. She felt so bad and it was a complete accident, but I’ll always remember running into the church bathroom with her mom and trying to dry them. So funny.
*Our countless, endless movie watching times on her white couch in California. Ahhh, the best.
*Going to her neighbor’s pool and trying to organize a synchronized swimming routine.
*Our phone conversations during high school across the coasts.
*Visiting Kansas with my mom before I moved. I had a BLAST with Rachael. Going to Chipotle, KU, the Frasers, Starbucks, Loose Park, and last but NOT least…introducing me to JCCC.
I won’t go into how I ended up in Kansas, but I know God had been calling me to Kansas since I was younger. I thought I would attend KU and worked hard in school to make that happen. During my visit I didn’t like K-State or KU. I was frustrated not knowing what I was doing, but knowing I should come to Kansas. On my last day Rachael and I went out to coffee and my flight was delayed a few times. She wanted to show me JCCC and I said no. I just wanted to talk and be with her. After the flight was delayed a few more times we decided to go see the Frasers at JCCC. The moment I arrived there I knew that’d be my home. And I moved the next year.
*The COUNTLESS times she has driven me to the air-port. Oh gosh this girl (and her mom) has done that favor SO MANY times!!! They’ve woken up as early as 5am to take me, or stayed up past 11pm to come get me.
*Helping me move this summer. We, just the two of us, were able to move all my furniture with her truck. We felt very accomplished and I couldn’t have done it without her. Best moment: when my mattress fell off the truck in the middle of the street. She ran out and quickly by herself put it back in the truck.

Last load of moving day!
Last load of moving day!

*Driving from Nashville to Kansas with her family and Amy. We went to Josh and Catherine Lawson’s wedding and Amy and I drove back with them. It was such a fun road trip and visit the following days.
*Our traditions. We’ve found a day once a week where we’ll go get coffee and then go out to eat and catch up. It’s the high-light of my day, if not week. She’s someone where I know I can say “ugh I just don’t feel good” and wear sweats and be cranky all day and NOT feel guilty. I’ve come over to her house and sprawled on the couch in silence. This is to say I feel 100% comfortable with her. She’s a sister to me and I can speak my thoughts out knowing she won’t be judgmental, but completely understanding and love me through anything.

Kim got married this summer! Here are all of us at her rehearsal dinner. From L: Amy, Rachael, Jen, me and Kim
Kim got married this summer! Here are all of us at her rehearsal dinner. From L: Amy, Rachael, Jen, me and Kim

*Talking about our future. We love talking about what we and are sisters will be like in the future. We talk about how we’ll discipline our kids, how awesome our husbands will be, but we also talk about now, being single and our goals and hopes. Rachael is one of the only ladies I can say that cherishes her singleness and knows it’s a gift. She has never been boy crazy, she won’t analyze and relish in boy’s attention. She is one solid woman. A rare one too. This knock-out will ONLY and let me say that again, ONLY settle for what God has for her. Anything short of it…PEACE OUT. I admire that so much about her.

Out to breakfast a few weeks ago
Out to breakfast a few weeks ago

I wish I had more memories that I could write out, but I don’t know how to articulate a lot of them. I just love doing life with her. She is family. I love our hours of just BEING with each other. There doesn’t have to be a plan, just bring me to her. We’ll drive around for miles talking, looking at pretty houses. We’ll go to nice restaurants or her living room and just talk with her parents. She’ll randomly break out in dance…and she’s GOOD.
Rach, I admire you so much as a woman and I’m so thankful and blessed that you’ve been placed in my life as not only friend, but sister.

Patrick G.


“Water is BORING Mary!”
That is my first memory of Patrick….and it has stuck. During our first close together I was drinking water and look over to see a plastic cup with pink juice filled half-way. There’s no way that’s juice from the smoothie juice machine. “Patrick…..why. Why don’t you drink water!?”
He starts to shake his head forward saying “water is BORING Mary!”
I fell to my knees laughing.

When Patrick started working at LatteLand I didn’t get to know him for a few months. I heard stories, heard how funny and how much of a team-player he was, but I didn’t personally know him. After Jack moved to California Patrick filled his Saturday night spot for the next nine months. And for the next nine months Patrick and I spent 8.5 glorious hours in the Land of Lattes togethers forming a pretty great friendship.


I’ve been wanting to write about Patrick for a while, but didn’t because I couldn’t think of a way to articulate his place in my life. This could be good, because it means that he means SO much to me that I just can’t pin one thing about him that makes him wonderful. And I can’t. But I’ll try.
During my first few months of meeting Patrick I simply remember thinking he was so funny and nice. I noticed a pattern. A lot of people I write about on this blog are characterized by being nice and funny. Guess I pick pretty great people in my life. 😉
We got along immediately and he quickly became one of my absolute favorite people to work with, simply ever. He is SUCH a hard worker, keeps the store fresh with animation, has such great taste in music, wants to try new places and have new adventures in KC, loves hearing stories, laughs at you whenever you make a mess or say something messed up late at night.  He makes customers feel like his friend and knows how to make a great, long-lasting friendly impression on anyone. At a coffee shop it’s easy to start talking about something, to then have to help a customer. Patrick has always been great at remembering what you were talking about before someone came in and once the rush ends he’ll say “ok so you were saying____.” I love that.

“Patrick is he hot comonedy here! Everyone wants to work with him!” This is what Hannah told me just a few weeks ago. Very, very true.  When my mom visited me a few weeks ago Patrick was one of the two friends she met who she declared her favorite. That says A LOT. People like being around him because he’s hard-working, light-hearted, friendly and simply hilarious. For me it runs a bit deeper. He has become a close friend of mine, not only a fun co-worker.

He has shown me that he cares for me in several ways. It started with him showing genuine interest in my life during work hours. This would entail personal questions. It followed with hanging out outside the workplace.
Our first time hanging out was going to see a play.  I remember every detail (something he loves and “hates”…I remember everything if it involves interactions with people).
–He picked me up at my apartment with my (at the time) favorite drink: an iced coffee with cream, one pump hazelnut. We walked to his car and we drove to Crown Center to watch Zombie Prom. Up until this point I did NOT want to go. I thought Zombie Prom would be scary…I don’t like zombies. It wasn’t. It was a light-hearted play. Who would’ve thought!? Not me.
–He became a friend who I would talk to everyday, and if I didn’t see him at work I’d get really bummed. We’d see each other the next day and say “I’ve missed you!” If my manager heard he’d say, “….you saw each other like, two days ago.” Patrick and I would do something along the lines saying in unison, “exaaaaactly!”
–He took me to see Titanic for the first time. Not only that, but he knew how to make it an experience. Instead of taking me to the Cinemark on the Plaza he chose AMC down at Power and Light. If you know the area, that’s an upgrade. If you don’t…basically it’s a theater that charges $6+ more.
–He has picked me up from the air-port.
–After my finals last semester he took me out after our close to celebrate.
–When I found out Jack had passed away Patrick was the first and only person I called to tell that night. Once I told him he said “can I come over?” He came over and stayed to process everything with me until 3am, even though he had to move apartments the next morning.
–He’s a gentleman. He always, without fail, will want me to eat and take a break before him.
==He has my interest at heart. If something is too inappropriate he’ll catch himself from sharing and say “you won’t like it.” I’ve learned to trust him and not push anything.
–He has introduced me to a lot in KC: Crown Center, Farmer’s Market, MudPie.

Patrick and I are extremely different. We see the world differently, perceive situations differently and have different lifestyles. These are reasons why I cherish my friendship with him. Friends who are different in these ways bump heads, and we have. Friendships like this take work–ours does. I value my friendship with Patrick because we care about the other and through that we bulldoze through bumps that come our way. As we’ve said, “we’re intolerably adorable.”

And here’s why:
-Our manager knows we have each other’s back. On Tuesday mornings I get in at 6am, Patrick comes at 7:30am. Before he comes it isn’t unusual for our manager to say things that push my buttons. The other week I said, “Um, please stop.” He says, “I have to get it all out of my system before your protector Patrick comes and both of gain up on me.”
-We have a secret handshake.

-He would walk me home after every close.
-He hugs me when he gets to work and when he leaves. If I’m busy on bar he’ll stand and wait until I’m free for a hug.

…………I’m sitting here perplexed because the reasons why I love Patrick aren’t able to be put into words. It’s his reactions to situations that are so endearing. His face expressions, the things he’ll react to like HAVING the have the floor mats never touching or that he needs to eat a chocolate chip cookie every day. His love for Jimmy Johns, his cat Zoe or that he needs to park next to a pole in the garage every.single.time. I love that he’ll say “hello dahhhhling” or that whenever I start laughing non-stop instead of laughing he’ll usually role his eyes playfully. I smile thinking of our “arguments.” Where to place pitchers, his hair, what movies are good or which customers are nicer. I also love that I can be my complete quirky self around him. I hold back around a lot of people, but with him I’m all over the place. I’ll say cheesy jokes, say things that make no sense or burst ideas in the world. On the other scale of things though we’ll have intense conversations and talk about life. I like that we have extremes with each other.

I’ve been blessed to have been working closely with him for an entire year. He’s one who anyone would want as a close friend and I am blessed that he chose me as one of his. I admire Patrick for his ability to look at his life and change whatever he thinks will make it better. He doesn’t stand on the sidelines and wait for things to happen, he’ll be the one to make it happen. He has high standards for himself, but he also knows when to simply laugh at himself. With his [endearing] quirks he’ll acknowledge and embrace them. He’s great at giving compliments and living in the moment with those around him. I love you Patrick!