About Mary Hess

Mary is a creative spirit, gifted speaker, loyal wife and loving mother dedicated to furthering the message and mission of Jesus. A Kentuckian by birth, a South Carolinian by choice and now a resident of North Carolina by God's design, Mary and her husband Shannon co-pastor a new church plant, New Day Waynesville that they are building from the ground up! When she has some free time from this new adventure, Mary enjoys reading, blogging and coffee. She really loves coffee.

Change, Transitions and Life, oh my!

Zoe at Jump Off RockDo you like change?  How well do you handle transition?  When life throws you a big ol’ curveball, do you duck or try to bat it out of the park?

We’ve been in Waynesville now for almost 4 months. It’s been quite the adjustment.  I knew I would have to transition from having access to my family/friends.  I knew that would be difficult. What I didn’t anticipate was adjusting to a slower pace of life, an empty social/work calendar and the dead of winter in the mountains where we knew no one.

Hello frustration.

Change and transition are two words that aren’t at the top of my “Favorite Words in the Whole Wide World” list.  I like familiarity.  I like security.  I like routines.  I like predictability.  It makes me feel safe and content.

Even though this has been a tough transition,  I’m learning so much — much about life, much about relationships, much about myself.  Much. Much. Much.  Here are a few things that really stand out to me.Methodist Church at Cataloochee Valley

1.  It’s a great time to discover a deeper level of Father’s love :: Right?!  When you have a lot of time on your hands suddenly, there’s really no excuse for not digging in to more prayer, reading the Bible and chatting it up with Jesus. I thought that since we were moving away from the environment where my issues were being continually brought to the service, I’d have a break getting up here. But no.  Not a chance.  If nothing else, any abandonment and/or rejection issues I have, are pinging at an all time high.  Papa is relentless in His pursuit of us.  I love it.  Sometimes I hate it, but that’s only temporarily while I’m processing through the healing.  Because of this down-time, we’ve even scheduled a week of intense inner healing ministry – as a couple – for late June (Can someone say Thorough Format for Couples from Restoring the Foundations?!). Why?  Because we know it’s important to continually peel back those layers of hurts and wounds that we’ve experienced over the course of our lives that causes us to view Father and others through a skewed lens.  And more importantly, there are always deeper levels of the Father’s love to experience.  I want that.  I crave it.  We never arrive.  Isn’t that awesome?

2.  It’s okay to slow down and take a rest ::  What?!  My brain does not compute.  What do you mean slow down?  It’s okay?  Won’t people think I’m lazy?! (See the need for Item 1)  Yes.  I’m learning (and actually starting to enjoy!) this slower pace of life for us right now.  Apparently my brain and my body needed it. When I was very, very busy, it was nothing for me to run off of 6-7 hours of sleep each night.  Now that we have slowed down, I find that there are many days my body needs 10-12 hours of sleep.  WHAT?!  Shut. The. Front. Door.  It bothered me so much that I even sought some counsel/advice.  Everyone was unanimous – “Sleep if you need to, while you can.  Your body is catching up on rest.”  Well, okay then.  So, I sleep as much as I need to each day, then we get up and take walks, hang out in coffee shops, spend time reading and praying and meeting people very organically – no set schedules, no routines (except waking up to send Zoe off to school and picking her up).  Just time and Papa and each other.

Farm near Bethel Community3.  Emotions are good.  Experience them.  ::  Y’all.  I would say I cried quite a bit those first few weeks we were here.  I felt sad.  I felt excited.  I felt depressed.  I felt elated.  I felt melancholy.  I felt adventurous.  ALL OF IT.  If I know one thing that has kept me from having a heart attack over the years is that I need to express my emotions.  God gave them to me.  It’s healthy to cry, to laugh, to be angry, to be sad.  As long as we don’t linger too long in the depths, we should allow ourselves to experience emotions. Emotions are a physical release for us and are necessary to a healthy life.  So go grab those tissues and sob like it’s nobody’s business!

4.  It’s not about the doing but the being. ::  Well, this one is a tough one for me.  How does a “doer” learn to be a “be-er?”  One of the things I’m learning is that it’s okay to just go through my day being, not doing.  It feels very foreign to me, but I’ve really been trying to embrace it.  How?  Playing my piano, singing to Jesus, reading a really good book while enjoying a really good cup of coffee, sitting back on the couch with my hubby laughing and talking and just enjoying the moment.

5.  Create your new normal. ::  This has been weird and fun all at the same time.  It’s been important for me not to dwell on our “normal” when we lived in Summerville and both worked full time jobs, homeschooled, did ministry appointments, family time, trips, etc.  When I dwell on how it used to be, I try to recreate it to feel comfortable again and that can hinder me from experiencing all the new stuff God has for me right here in Waynesville. Instead, we are learning to create a new normal.  We take weekend trips to explore a bit further out than town.  We spend afternoons in the coffee shop.  We spend mornings walking, praying, reading and journaling.  We spend evenings with Zoe doing fun family things.  We have become braver in talking to strangers about us, about our church, about life.  Crazy.  Just 4 months ago I wouldn’t have dared walked up to a complete stranger and introduced myself.  REJECTION ISSUES.  But now, it’s becoming my new normal and I actually love it!Creek at Cataloochee

Now listen.  I haven’t mastered any of these items just yet.  I’m such a work in progress.  But I am embracing them – at least from a side hug position – instead of just shaking hands with them.  I’m sure there’ll be many more changes and many more transitions as we move from phase to phase in this church plant.

This first little bit is just giving me lots of opportunity to practice.

I Hope You Remember

Blog PostI love it when God does amazing, miraculous things.  I love hearing stories of bodies being healed, resurrections, financial miracles, restorations – you name it.  I’ve seen some of it with my own eyes and celebrated right along with them!

Yet there are times we go through life and things don’t seem so miraculous.  Sometimes our bodies break down in various ways. Sometimes relationships crumble.  Sometimes loved ones die. Sometimes there are more bills than money and we’re forced to choose what to pay and what not to pay. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and we find ourselves just trying to stay out of a big black hole of despair.

It happens.

So how do we respond in those times?  How do we stay connected to the Father when everything is breaking down and we can’t seem to get our heads above water?  What is the posture of our hearts in those seasons? I’ve been thinking about this lately.  Choosing to stay positive – choosing to stay thankful – those are hard choices some days.

I know.  I’ve failed miserably at making the right choice many, many times.

That’s why I love Scripture.  Papa has given us so many wonderful examples of every day, ordinary people who chose to be thankful even when they had every right to be frustrated, let down, depressed, you name it.

Did you notice that verse I posted at the top of the post?  David penned that one.  In case you aren’t aware, David was a very vocal person.  The Psalms give us a really good inside look at how David’s mind worked through any given emotion he was experiencing.  It’s my favorite book, seriously.  That man kept it real.  And I can appreciate that so much.  One minute he was all “gloom, despair, and agony on me.”  The next minute he’s pouring out how amazing God is and how thankful he is even for the rough times.

I love that man.

He’s my hero.

And not because he was a king.

And not because he did great things for God.

I love him simply because he was real.  He was transparent.

And somehow, that made him a man that God said was after His own heart.

What?!

You can pour over the Psalms and see time and again David lifting himself out of the pit of despair simply by praising God, by remembering God’s deeds, by remembering the miraculous things God had done for him and his country/nation.

In Psalm 77, after pouring his heart out about how bad things had gotten, even Asaph, one of David’s choir directors, reminds himself of the remedy for those “down in the dumps” times.

Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
    lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
    and give a long, loving look at your acts.
Psalm 77:11-12 (The Message)

Lately as we’ve been adjusting to our new way of life – moving to a new city, leaving behind our community of friends and support, transitioning into church planting, trying to connect with complete strangers and make new friends, and adjusting to a change in our financial situation, it’s easy to allow myself times of “Woe is me. This is hard.  Help! I’m sad.  I’m frustrated.  I’m weary.”

And it’s okay.  It’s okay to have yucky moments.  But I don’t want to dwell there.  I don’t want to stay in the pit.  I want to be like David.  I want to spend the hours in grateful reflection of all God has done for me – of who He is in my life – of where He brought me from.  I want to remind myself of  what He has done for us, remember His faithfulness, the miraculous times we’ve experienced, His goodness all the days of our lives.

Do you know what happens when we spend time reflecting on His goodness toward us?  Our spirits are lifted. Our faith increases.  We have strength to endure whatever comes our way because we know that He is always faithful.  How do we know? We have proof of the many times before He has been there for us, delivered us, protected us, provided for us!

We remember.

So, when you’re feeling that life isn’t fair, maybe you’re not sure how you’re gonna pay those bills, or maybe you are just tired from all of the drama, the frustrations and the seemingly endless days of no good news – when you’re there, I hope you remember.

Blog Post 2I hope you remember that you have a Father who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

I hope you remember that He’s there for you even when everyone else lets you down.

I hope you remember that He will keep you in perfect peace as you dwell on Him.

I hope you remember that He has come through for you in the past and will do it again.

I hope you remember that above all of that, He wants to be in the most amazing relationship with you and is just waiting on you to jump in!

I hope you remember.