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You guys, there are so many exciting things happening this year but one that I am looking forward to the most is being a part of the Nine Retreat. The Nine Retreat is for women who are used to giving back to others and are seeking to fulfill their own souls. Imagine a gathering of vulnerable, inspirational, loving women who want to lift you up and encourage you to live life to the fullest and chase after all of your wildest dreams.


 

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NINE represents:

1. universal love

2. inner-strength

3. loyalty

4. brilliance

5. empathy

6. forgiveness

7. communication

8. creativity

9. optimism

I cannot think of a more beautiful outline for a creative gathering. Whether you are a mother or wife, business owner or employee, dreamer or doer, student or graduate, fearful or ambitious….there is something for you at this retreat!

I encourage you to head on over to the Nine Retreat website to find more information on what we will be doing on a daily basis September 21-24 in Venice Beach, California. There are so many incredible things and people that you are not going to want to miss out on!


 

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I am so excited to be giving away 4 discount codes over the next four weeks! Each week I will let you know how you can enter to win a code to receive $500 off of the Nine Retreat cost. How awesome is that?!

We will start it off simple this week:

Leave a comment on this post and I will put all names into a random generator and let you know who was picked next week. It’s that easy!

I am so excited to see some of you in September!!
bda
  • June 19, 2015 - 5:41 pm

    Fay - Why Nine, Mary?ReplyCancel

    • June 19, 2015 - 7:58 pm

      wwmadmin - Hi Fay! Are you asking why they chose the number Nine as the name of the event? Let me know! I am happy to help answer any questions. Their information page might also have some answers to your questions :) http://www.nineretreat.com/about-nine/ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 5:58 pm

    Morgan Drummond - I love what NINE is all about. It’s so important as humans to maintain personal growth and just give yourself a break sometimes :)ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 6:25 pm

    Ashlee - This is awesome!!!ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 8:24 pm

    Elizabeth Rood - What a beautiful idea! The first time you ever posted about Nine, my spirit lept. It would be incredible to attend such a gathering!ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 10:02 pm

    BArb - Barb Groves! that’s going to be some retreat!ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 10:10 pm

    Jodi - Love this!!ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 10:36 pm

    Megan Faust - This looks like such a beautiful event with such lovely women! I would love to be a part of it! :)ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2015 - 11:32 pm

    Megan - I absolutely love with the retreat is all about and would love more than anything to get the opportunity to go, to learn, and to grow with all of these other amazing women!ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2015 - 8:12 am

    Magdalena - This is so awesome! Such a beautiful idea!ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2015 - 5:46 pm

    Stephanie wright - So excited about this!!ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2015 - 10:54 pm

    Alyssa - Can’t put into words how much the Lord has used you to bless my heart. This retreat sounds so beautiful and amazing!ReplyCancel

  • June 21, 2015 - 5:01 pm

    Abby Mortenson - Sounds amazing -I would so love to be there!ReplyCancel

  • June 22, 2015 - 2:10 pm

    Jamie - The Nine Retreat sounds like such an uplifting and wonderful getaway with other women. I would love to be part of it!ReplyCancel

  • June 27, 2015 - 11:50 am

    dark matter giving light » Wandering With Mary - […] ANOTHER $500 discount code for the retreat. If you missed last weeks post about this amazing event, click here to learn more. To enter to win this code all you have to do is declare a dark matter of yours in a comment. You […]ReplyCancel

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image by Studio Castillero

Two years ago our heads were over our heels. We stayed up late talking about everything and nothing. We found it difficult maneuvering with one available hand as the other was locked up and entangled in the softest grip we had ever known. We were driving from the coast of Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Same month. Same car. Same driver. Same passenger. A blank notebook laid open in my lap. I had recently visited Powell’s bookstore in Portland while I waited for my new boyfriend to meet me in my favorite city. I figured we needed a notebook, one with enough blank pages for all of our memories, prayers, love letters and dreams.

As we drove away from the Pacific Ocean that day, our hearts were ablaze with ambition, love and fresh couple goals. We got a surge of inspiration to map out our future because we were naive and felt like we were in control. I found a pen and he encouraged me to draw 3 sections on the first page to organize our 1 year/5 year/10 year plans. I was amazed at how far he was thinking as our relationship was relatively new even though we both knew it was a forever kind of thing. I looked over to my left and asked “okay, what do you want to accomplish in the next year?”. Without hesitation he said, “I would like to marry you.”

If I had a forecast of the storms that we would face shortly after our “honeymoon” phase, I probably would have asked him to pull the car over, stick out my thumb and catch the fastest ride down south that I could. That is the beautiful thing about us not being able to control or predict our futures. The words that danced out of JP’s excited lips were in rhythm with the same words swirling in my heart. That is all that mattered in the moment. That is all that matters in whatever situation we may face.

We have a foundation for our relationship. The day we decided to pursue one another swaying on a hammock in Uganda, we both said “we have a lot of individual work to do, but we want to work on it together.” That was the most beautiful bed of soil for our relationship to flourish out of. We easily could have said we had so much work to do on our individual selves and once we figured it all out we would find our way back to each other…but we declared the opposite. Often times when we are stuck in the mud or one foot out the door we come back to that. Sometimes we even just say “hammock” as a code word to bring us back to the beginning, to our truth.

I see this a lot in my relationship with Jesus. Since I surrendered my life to Him in 2011, the adventure has been all over the place. I’m sure the people in my life think I am crazy for all the different paths I have taken or the endeavors I have pursued. It feels like it has been a wild roller coaster. For a girl who used to stick closely to “her plan,” being obedient to the directions that the Lord has led me has been the most challenging and beautiful thing. You know those puzzles for children where you find your way out of a maze with a pencil on the paper? It’s kind of been like that with short turns left and right that lead to a path that brings me close to where I started but then slopes down to a new adventure. This maze is never ending, full of sharp turns, long waves and beautiful light at the end of the tunnel.

I said yes. When Jesus got down on one knee I said yes, without knowing everything that would come my way. The best thing is, the foundation of love and partnership is what I can focus on. I said yes on the hammock that day to my life partner. We knew there would be a lot of ish to walk through but this life would be so much better doing it together. I’m now saying yes to this new blog and yes to making a life out of writing because the truth is it brings me joy. There are so many other things that I’m saying yes to that are going to be the craziest life moves yet (you will find out soon) but the foundation is rooted in truth…in His truth. I am so ready.
bda
  • June 18, 2015 - 4:40 am

    Ashley Howser - Mary, this was incredible!! I know we don’t know each other, but I’ve loved reading your blog and hearing your story. Reading your blog has caused me to want to write one of my own about the adventures I’m going on next. Thank you for being such an inspiration and for unashamedly proclaiming your love for Christ!ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2015 - 6:54 am

    Raquel Mooring - I LOVE reading your writing! I follow you on Instagram and I often take screenshots of your vulnerable and beautiful posts because they often correlate with what I’m going through at the time. I especially love your posts about your walk with your husband as you both try to follow God’s will individually and together. As someone who isn’t married yet, it’s so refreshing to see an encouraging example of a righteous marriage. I think you should write a book ;). Thanks for sharing your heart!ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2015 - 3:11 pm

    Elisa Waidelich - Mary, I am so happy to see that you are writing again! I have followed you on Instagram for a while and read through the archives of this blog. You have such a gentle, yet passionate writing voice. I deeply appreciate your vulnerability and wisdom. Your words have challenged me to examine and strengthen my own relationship with Jesus. Keep doing what you’re doing!ReplyCancel

 

 

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It was right then. It was in that moment that I knew I no longer had ownership on my heart. It was all yours.

We stopped by the babies home one afternoon like we so often did when you were visiting last May. I greeted Stella but she was not her usual smiley self. Her turtle face was in full effect and I had never seen her more sad. I went to go kiss her forehead…our usual routine. Once my lips touched her soft skin, I pulled away quickly. She had a very high fever and suddenly her mood, her frown…it all made sense. I asked the nannies if she had been with the nurse yet and they said she already started her Malaria medicine. That filthy stupid bug. Malaria is a parasitic disease that if you spend a long enough period of time in Africa…you will most likely get. The symptoms are high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like symptoms. If caught early enough, oral medication is the assigned treatment…and that is what Stella was on at this time. I came down with Malaria in March while I was visiting and it went untreated long enough that I was admitted into a hospital and put on a drip with a high dosage of medicine for 24 hours. It was not pretty…not one single part of it. I wanted so badly to take all of the pain and discomfort away from Stella and put it on myself.

It was dinner time and JP and I helped Stella eat. We had our own dinner plans with friends and I asked him to go ahead without me and I would eventually meet him and everyone at the restaurant near by. He walked off and I held Stella. We had a wet clothe on her head to help bring her temperature down and she was keeping her food down pretty well. I looked up after a few minutes and saw JP walking back in through the door. He had gone to tell a couple of people we were with to go ahead to the restaurant and that we would meet them there. He stayed behind and helped me take care of Stella. I know one reason was because he too had fallen in love with this sweet angel and wanted to make sure she was taken care of but I know another reason was because he wanted to know I was taken care of. He knew I wouldn’t be okay until I knew Stella had taken her medicine and been put down to go to sleep for the night. My heart literally melted on the floor when I saw him coming back to stay with me. He stayed behind…he stayed by Stellas side and by my side.

That is when I knew my heart no longer belonged to me. God had sent the person who was meant to hold it here on earth and help Him take care of it and He sent that person all the way to Uganda, Africa.

bda
  • January 8, 2014 - 2:49 pm

    Megan Welker - <3ReplyCancel

  • March 7, 2014 - 12:54 pm

    Asher Collie - Mary! Dru keeps taking about all your wandering, and I’ve never wandered past your Instagram but tonight I thought I should check out this blog of your! And of course, what pops up?! Stella and Uncle JP! Oh my stars (no pun intended!) Tears….You are both such beautiful people! I love you both SO much. You are GIFTS that God has given to me during this time in Jinja. I love you both dearly!!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 7, 2015 - 1:03 pm

    Mandy @gagirlny - Dear Mary, I just wanted to say that I am so thankful for your heart and the way you share your story and others stories with all of us. I was telling someone today about following you on Instagram and how moved I am by many of your posts and your heart for Africa in particular. Namaste from me in Atlanta to you in Jinja right now and thank you for loving the children and people of Jinja as you do! I was so fortunate to meet and spend an evening with sweet Stella myself while staying at Providence Guest house in November with visiting orphans! Dru and all of the kids came for dinner after we spent the day with Sole Hope and it was truly a blessing. I’ve now put it together that you are the connector for her now “forever family” as you posted this week and it is amazing to see what God is doing in and through you and the Collie’s and so many others!
    Blessings for you all as you continue to spread the love and sincere gratitude for allowing others to share in the journey.
    Looking forward to crossing paths somewhere along the way as my heart longs to return to Africa and the sweet sweet children.

    Mandy WaldrepReplyCancel

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I told myself I would never wear red lipstick. I don’t know where this phobia of colored lips came to play in my life but as far back as I can remember…it was something that I hated. I grew up with this beautiful woman as my neighbor that I knew as Grandma Rose. Her hair stood firm with half a can of Aquanet daily and her lips always adorned with a shade of pink or red. As much as I loved Grandma Rose…I hated her kisses. They left stains on all of her straws and cups and especially on my olive skin. She respected my phobia and would give me the biggest hugs or would wait to apply lipstick until after she spoiled me with kisses. Her kisses literally made impressions, were everlasting and full of confidence.

Fast forward 20 years and I recently purchased my very own red lipstick because of my own desire. To be honest, I haven’t kept it on very long. I think it’s going to be something of an acquired taste and I am definitely going to have to get used to seeing it stain everything my mouth touches, but it’s a start. Now that I think of it, I have slowly ventured into womanhood. I didn’t grow up doing lots of girly things like painting nails, curling hair or wearing different kinds of makeup. I have never dyed my hair and it wasn’t until a few years ago I purchased my first pair of high heels. Maybe I wanted to live this young girl, carefree life as long as I could or maybe I just never thought I would be very good at being a woman and I felt like I had to constantly search on what that looked like.

The fact of the matter is and if I can be corny for a second and quote Britney Spears…I’m not a girl, I am a woman. I have experienced the in between of “not yet a woman”. I feel like this year especially has been the biggest journey of that. The last few years I have been searching for what I wanted life to look like and who I wanted to be and I am finally understanding what God is asking from me.

He is asking me to put on red lipstick, leave an impression of love and be confident in who He has designed me to be.

I married young, at 21 years of age, and really planned what I wanted the rest of my life to look like. In “my dream plan” I wanted to be starting a family at 26, I wanted to have just moved into our home with the white picket fence across from the community park and I wanted a business that I shared just with my husband. The reality of it all is that I held on so tightly to my own dream that I didn’t allow or welcome in growth for myself, my partner or for us. I was forcing my phobias on life, like that red lipstick stain, and making my own rules for everyone to abide by. If it didn’t fit into “the plan”…it wasn’t even worth discussing. I didn’t know how to be confident, courageous or welcoming to Gods plan.

Present day? My ex and I divorced shy of two years of marriage, he actually just started his own family at age 26 as I have found my life partner and best friend, and the business I began is growing and so many people are involved in it. And all of these things, through lots of healing and forgiveness, are so amazing!! Once my own plans got knocked out and I learned to trust in God and what He has in store for me, living became this thriving activity full of so much adventure and freedom!

So as I have been searching the past few years… I have been taking many opportunities. I have been listening to my gut and allowing God to guide me through it all. I have met amazing people and seen amazing places. I have felt like “I had it all figured out” to only realize, that I never will. I have been learning to take it all one day at a time.

I am focusing on becoming the woman I want to be and that being a woman of God. I am trying so hard to focus less on me and more on others. I am keeping my heart open to taking risks and dreaming big but also coming first to the Lord and seeing what He wants for me. This year has been humbling. It’s been one that has stretched me, challenged me and allowed me to grow more into someone I could only have dreamt I would be.

Through my time in Uganda and giving up a lot to have that experience, I felt the strongest I have ever been. I remember leaving Africa feeling like I could do anything and I had all of the strength and motivation behind me to do so. When I stepped back on American soil, I felt the weakest I had been in such a long time…I felt so lost. My emotions have been on an absolute roller coaster ride the last 6 months. Falling in love and figuring out a future with your best friend will certainly do that to you as well as fitting “your own life” into that. I have felt the most loved ever by a human being and I have hated on myself the most from insecurities and fears creeping up on me from past experiences. I have learned time and time again to forgive and to love unconditionally…mainly for myself. Through every challenge, there is strength at the finish line. And that is exactly what I have learned this life is…a marathon of sorts.

So what kind of woman do I want to be and embrace for myself? I want to be the woman God has created me to be. I want to be strong, courageous and a whimsical dreamer. I want to live with a childlike soul so I can continue seeing His beauty from the eyes of a child but with the wisdom of an adult woman. I want to step up and take risks when He asks me to and I want to listen to His voice when He asks me to stay put and be present in my own community. I want to leave a courageous, confident impression of love…just like red lipstick kisses. I want to be available to others as I know over the past year, I have made myself the most unavailable.

That is where this post started from…being available. This year has been one where I have been continually reached out to. It is the biggest blessing and honor. It’s also been overwhelmingly beautiful. I find myself in tears every day reading e-mails from beautiful people around the world. I want so badly to sit down with each e-mail and devote an hour or so in reply, but then I see my list of editing and shoots that has to happen in between all of the travel going on in the midst of emotional lessons. I so badly am working on being as available as I can be to all of you. As the woman God has created me to be, I thrive off hearing stories and connecting to people. I believe we are all here to help one another and it’s my biggest honor that I could connect with some of you.

So as I move forward, I start small in dedicating time to you. If it is connecting for a coffee, skype session or simply replying back to one of the many e-mails one day at a time, I will be here for you. Forgive me as I learn to juggle it all but I feel the Lord asking me to find balance in making space for others. Whether that be a reply e-mail or simply being able to dedicate my time to building a volunteer program and community to offer unique giving opportunities…I am doing it for you.

Through all of my self discoveries, even the ones where I learn I really do love girly things, I am learning to grow and stretch to welcome the woman God wants me to be instead of constantly feeling I have to search for it. I will lay down my life to be available to others. I will take risks on people and opportunities. I will love myself and others as unconditionally as God does and I will always move forward hand in hand with my Father.

bda
  • November 6, 2013 - 10:49 am

    dorothy - Mary,
    I love you so much and feel extremely privileged to be a part of your beautiful adventures.ReplyCancel

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I am a broken individual who puts way too much pressure on herself. I am happy to bend over backwards and show grace to others but I find it quite hard to give that grace to myself. I am a lover and sometimes I feel that can be a flaw..I always question if I have loved enough. I have this crazy assumption that I am a bother to those around me..which I know deep down is not true..but my natural instinct is to keep to myself until I am approached or reached out to.

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I am a believer in Christ, surrendering my life to Him has been the hardest and most amazing gift. I am a dreamer. I often find myself overwhelmed thinking of all the amazing places and people in this world that I want to be a part of my life. I am a natural host…I love taking care of people and making sure they have the best experience ever. I am a mother at heart and I believe children are the most beautiful things in the world. I take pride in being one of Gods children and that He loves to dazzle and woo me in ways no one else can because He knows my heart like no other. I am an adventurer and the thought of being on the road or traveling this amazing world non stop excites me. I am also a homebody who craves stability and a sense of belonging where community is created. I am a simple person and if you stripped me of everything but left me my loved ones…I know I will be just fine and dandy.

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In no particular order I love hiking and being outdoors. The country of Uganda. Sushi. My loved ones. The color green. Audrey Hepburn, John Ritter and Lucille Ball because they feel like family members to me as I grew up spending a lot of time with them…they make me laugh. Reading and writing. Pairing quotes and pictures. Sea Lions. Buying greeting cards for people and collecting perfect ones for the perfect moments. When I am driving or getting lost in a new place and the perfect song comes on and it makes you think you are in a movie and the soundtrack is playing over your stereo. Jesus. When my stomach and cheeks hurt so badly from laughing. Getting so excited about something that all I can do is skip. Hot sauce. Collecting magnets from places I visit. Meeting people for the first time and finding Gods perfect connection between our two worlds. Common courtesy. Rice and beans. Getting lost in a book that you don’t want to eat or sleep. One on one dates with strangers. Small intimate gatherings with friends. Bonfires and hammocks. Moscow Mules in copper mugs. Mobile homes of all sorts. Snoozing my alarm for about an hour. Helping others so much that you are exhausted but mostly because of the amount of love overflowing from your whole being.

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I share with you my weaknesses, my strengths and my random likings because all of these things make up me. It’s so easy for us to get lost in the hustle and bustle of this world striving to be someone we are not. Other peoples lives are intriguing…yes. Every single television station has at least one reality show where we can easily get sucked in on what other people are doing and how they are living their lives (which most of the time is unrealistic and frankly sad). We work harder to become stronger, richer, prettier, more successful, etc. Sometimes I am blown away at the thought that WE ALL come into this world the same way. Everyone was in a woman’s womb at some point. What happens after the moment of birth starts peoples unique journeys through this life…but we all came from the same place…with absolutely nothing and we will leave the same with only our memories and full hearts.

Even though we came into this world the same way, God created us uniquely. Everything I shared…I didn’t list it because it’s what a friend or someone I know likes, is like or is striving to be. I listed off some qualities of who makes me…me. Some I like and some I don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, daily I am faced with opportunities or temptation to be someone else. I can get lost in the possibilities of how I can dress, eat, look, educate, travel, decorate ( I blame pinterest), socialize….there are so many ways to go about this life! Some people embrace who they uniquely are and some people admire the unique qualities in others and adapt them to their own lives. There is nothing wrong with being inspired or inspiring others but this day in age…so many people are ignoring who they are because they like the thought of being someone else.

I want to encourage you to be YOU! No one else can be. Let’s stop striving to live a life out of just the influence of what others are doing…which it seems like they are all doing the same thing anyway. BE THE INFLUENCE! Follow the beat of your own drum…is that the saying? I’m not sure. Embrace the life that God is calling you to live. If you are not sure what that life is…ask Him. If you are not sure who you are…ASK HIM. If you are not sure where you got lost in the midst of conforming to other peoples lives…sit down next to Him and He will remind you of the beautiful, unique child you are…the one He loves no matter your weaknesses, strengths or interests.

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You are one of a kind. You are amazing. You are unique. You are beautiful. Please be you.

bda
  • September 4, 2013 - 6:17 am

    Erika Chambers - Thank you for this, Mary.ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    josh - Mary, it’s because you are YOU that I love the heck out of you. THANK you for being so amazing. For being so honest, embracing a little vulnerability and sharing YOU with the world. I know you’ve impacted so many lives because you just LOVE so much. Thank you for that…ReplyCancel