Taste and See

Lately, we’ve noticed that our sweet baby Nora has started sucking on her toes.  Yes that’s right.  Sucking on her toes.  She’s a flexible little thing.

It’s really funny looking, but we were discussing among family members last week how she puts things in her mouth in order to better understand the world around her.  If Nora is curious about something, she will grab it and put it in her mouth in order to test it.  Even her toes.  Even her hearing aids unfortunately (we’re really working on that one).

Every time I see her doing her new favorite activity, I am reminded of Psalm 34:8 that says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  Just as Nora tests out her surroundings by tasting whatever she can drag to her drooly little mouth, the Lord invites us to “taste” and enjoy Him.

I know that I haven’t been doing much tasting lately.  I’ve been reading the Bible with glassy eyes and an unfocused mind– I’ve been merely smelling the delicious feast that is the Word of the Almighty rather than partaking in the party that Christ invited me to long ago.  There is a huge difference between reading the Word and meditating on the Word in such a way that each verse sinks into one’s heart and mind and thoughts.  Simply allowing my eyes to scan the same old Bible stories is not the same as rolling His Words around in my mouth, chewing on them, and digesting them completely.  His Word is food for my soul, yet I’ve been so hungry.

Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  When we decide to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” we always like what we taste.  And we crave more.  Because He is good, and His commandments are for our joy.

But “tasting” isn’t just meditating on Scripture in order to better know the heart of God, it’s also leaning on Jesus in prayer.  This is where I struggle even more– it is so (I repeat, so) hard to pray while Nora is awake.  I started reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer yesterday, and this morning I read: “People who know their God are before anything else people who pray…”


I can’t possibly express to you how deeply this convicted me.  Lately I have been a poor communicator with my Creator.  This morning I was obedient to Matthew 6:6 that says, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret…”  I literally went into my closet and shut the door.  Even though Nora was crying (girl must be ready to pop a tooth), I desperately needed time with just me and the Lord.  *Disclaimer: Nora was perfectly fine, I promise!

I am trying once again to build up my appetite for the Divine, because I have additionally found that if we don’t consistently “taste” Him by experiencing Him, the less and less we see that He is good.  We forget that He tastes of great kindness, endless grace, rich mercy, unconditional forgiveness, boundless wisdom, incomparable strength, perfect comfort, righteous justice, sweet purity, heavy peace, overflowing joy, and forever-and-always love.  Mmmm.

I don’t know if anyone else out there feels this way, but sometimes deep down I am afraid to come before Him in prayer after a long dry spell because I think He will be angry with me.  But that is never the case.  He is gracious to forgive me every single time, because of His great love for me.  Is anything sweeter to the taste than the everlasting mercy of the King?

If anyone reading this has never tasted and witnessed the goodness of God, I must warn that “taste” is something each person must do on her own.  No matter how well a pastor preaches or a Sunday school teacher teaches…experiencing the Lord’s goodness can’t be taught into somebody’s heart.  It must be tasted.

Praying she tastes the goodness of God soon rather than her toes...
Praying she tastes the goodness of God soon rather than her toes…
Not the pink Toms!
Not the pink Toms!
She's pretty tasty herself...
She’s pretty tasty herself…

Forever Home

Moving is hard.  Next Friday (I repeat, NEXT FRIDAY), Matt and I will be uprooting our little family from its current happy location in Bentonville, Arkansas and re-planting it in the charming town of Gastonia, North Carolina.

For a new mama, moving can be extremely emotional.  I’m over here packing up baby girl’s room and getting teary-eyed as I strain to memorize every frilly pink detail of her first nursery.  I walk through our apartment wondering, “Twenty years from now, will I remember the first home Matt and I shared as newlyweds?”  I’ve also made an extensive mental list of things to do one last time before leaving Bentonville: go back to our favorite Taco Bell, walk around the classy neighborhood across the street, play dominoes on a Thursday night…But above and beyond our home, we will miss our friends and church family so deeply.  The Lord faithfully answered our prayers for great friendships, making this whole pack-it-all-up-in-two-weeks thing a lot more difficult.

So why are we moving, you ask? Rather than carrying a briefcase to work everyday and maintaining the luxury of leaving business at the office, Matt will be entering the terrifyingly messy and super rewarding world of high school ministry.  We are so excited.  We have watched this opportunity click into place in a way that can only be described as a “God thing.”  Our heavenly Father has found us a new church home to learn from and serve, and we are ever thankful for His provision.

Yes, we are overjoyed at the opportunity to pour into this ministry and work our tails off encouraging students in the Word and helping them grow as men and women of the Lord.  We are happily looking forward to pursuing their hearts and inviting them into our home.  But we also recognize that this is big work; this work affects souls and has eternal consequences.  Even now as I type this, I feel the need to pray that the Lord will sustain us and speak through us when our humanity deems us incapable.  I am so thankful that we are merely tools in the hands of the Almighty, because without Jesus living inside of us— I shudder to think…

It can be dangerous to add up one’s inability and lack of experience with a weighty spiritual responsibility while forgetting the Jesus part of the equation.  Without Him, all attempts add up to failure.  With Him, however, we can accomplish “abundantly more than we can ever hope or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).  I wonder why it’s so easy for me to forget the Jesus part, and focus only on my own inadequacy.

So between my sadness about saying “good bye” and my anxieties about entering ministry, I am — there is no better word to describe it — scared about moving to a new home.  I have been constantly reminding myself of Genesis 12:1 when God told Abraham (then Abram), “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”  At that point God didn’t even provide the location (!), He just told Abraham to leave everything he knew in order to receive the blessings God had in store for his family.   Despite any misgivings he may have had, Abraham packed up his belongings and he and his wife joyfully sojourned through the desert.  This is probably why Abraham is heralded as a titan of the faith; he trusted God’s promises so completely.

Right now, as I am up to my elbows in bubble wrap and doubts about settling into a new church home (and am additionally consumed with the familiar agony every Type A neat freak is afflicted by when her house is in complete disarray)…do I trust God’s promises are true?

Here are just a few of the many overwhelming, kind, breathtakingly beautiful promises He has made me:

1.  He will be with Matt and I wherever we go:

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

2.  He will use us for a purpose:

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2)

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

3.  We have nothing to fear:

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Now it is up to the Harris family to walk into the desert (figuratively speaking) with hearts full of expectation.  We are free to live without fear, believing that our God has called us someplace new and will help us flourish there.  As Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

And you know the best part?  This world is not our home.  There will come a day when we will never again have to say “good-bye.”  We will no longer be burdened with fear for our future.  There will be no more packing up and leaving our friends.

We will be forever home.

Our Jesus says this: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:3-4)

My moving helper
My moving helper
Where you go, I go...
“Where you go, I go…”

Top of My List

God, husband, child, family, church, home.  If you asked me to list my priorities beginning with the most important, I would rattle off a list that looks something like that one.  Maybe I would include some other things.  But I would definitely tell you, “God first.”  Or I might say something like, “God isn’t just at the top of my list, He is within my list.  Everything I do is for the purpose of glorifying God.”

But is that true?  Ever since I had Nora, spending time with the Lord has felt so different.  My mind has so much trouble focusing.  My prayer time looks something like this:

“Thank You, Jesus, for this day.” Why is Nora fussing? Maybe I’ll try her pacifier.  Okay, now she’s happy.  Continue.

“Please be with me today as I–” Nora, please stop crying.  Are her feet cold?  Hold on, let me get some socks.  Okay, continue.

“Lord, please be with Matthew today as he works.  Let him be a blessing today, and give him patience at work…”  I should probably pray while I unload the dishwasher, to save time.

“Father, I ask that you would continue to keep us healthy.  Thank you for keeping Nora healthy and safe–“ Oh, this glass has a lipstick stain.  Gross.  I’ll just slip this back in the sink…

“Sorry, Lord– where was I?”


This morning as I was squeezing in some much needed Bible-reading time between kissing Matt good-bye and feeding Eleanor, I stumbled upon Luke 10:38-42.  This little ditty details the story of two sisters named Martha and Mary, who are honored to be visited by the Lord Jesus Himself.  Martha was busy being the perfect hostess while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and “listened to his teaching.”  Martha complains to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Instead of telling Mary to step up her game and help out her poor Cinderella-esque sister, Jesus responds, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Boom. Mic drop.  I love how He had to say her name twice to get her to listen.

As I read this passage, I felt instantly ashamed.  Like Martha, I work hard to care for my family and feel annoyed when the presence of God seems far from me.  I ask, “But isn’t it a good thing that I serve my family, Lord?  Isn’t that what you have called me to do? Why can’t you come and meet me? I miss You.”

Luke 10:40 says, “…Martha was distracted by much serving.”  Reading this simple verse made me realize that we can become distracted by doing wonderful, godly deeds like cooking dinner for our family and keeping our home tidy.  We can become so wrapped up in striving for excellence as wives and mothers that we forget to sit at Jesus’ feet and be with Him and listen.

Today, I really needed to hear Jesus’ gentle words to his beloved Martha, “…one thing is necessary.”  Listening to the voice of Jesus and sitting down in His presence is necessary.  More important than vacuuming, more important than cleaning the kitchen.  Laundry can wait.  My Savior longs to sit and talk with me.  He is the “good portion.”

Psalm 27:8 says, “My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ My heart responds, ‘LORD, I am coming.'”

You know what I have discovered is hard for a mom? Resting.  Sitting down.  Focusing.  But oh, how I am going to try.  He deserves more than my meager, tired, leftover minutes between mommy activities.  He deserves more than half-hearted prayers full of half-finished sentences while I try to multi-task.  He deserves more than a quick, absent-minded prayer of thanks after I’ve already taken a bite.  He deserves more of my time and more of my heart.

Especially if I claim that He is at the top of my list.

Nap time for Nora means rest for Mommy
Nap time for Nora means quiet time for Mommy
Nora is better at resting than me!
Nora is better at resting than me!

A Pretty Good Deal

I have never been an abnormally materialistic person. In fact, when it comes to love languages, giving and receiving gifts is last on my list; I’d prefer a hug or a kind card.  But lately I have struggled so much with wanting to buy stuff.  Friends of ours recently moved into their new home and have begun the process of setting it up.  Suffice it to say that upon entering those beautiful wooden double doors, one is greeted by a room that looks like it came straight out of Better Homes and Gardens (but like a really trendy, rustic version).  I’m so jealous.  Our last visit there, I found myself gazing longingly at the handcrafted fireplace, the brick wall in the den, the furry couch pillows…I could go on…

Don’t get me wrong, I love our apartment.  It’s cozy and warm and the perfect size for our little family.  And it has plenty of stuff in it.  Plenty of stuff we don’t need, in fact.  But it seems like every time I see something that looks pretty, whether it’s in a house or on a person, I feel like I have to have it.

I try to justify my desires for more things by only shopping in the clearance section, or at thrift stores and flea markets.  I tell Matthew, “You’re so lucky that I’m not high maintenance and can shop for so cheap.”  Yeah.  ‘Till I buy ten books, three shirts, five dresses, a pair of shoes, and a homey knick-knack at Goodwill for $50.00.  Then it’s not as cheap.  The point is, I constantly desire what we don’t need.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having money and spending it on your family and your home, and even on fun frivolity every now and again.  But these past few weeks, there has been something seriously wrong with my heart.  My heart has forgotten that eventually all I have ever owned and will ever own will be in a landfill.  My heart has forgotten that happiness and fulfillment do not come with possessions.  My heart has forgotten that the Bible has promised me treasure that is spiritual.  In fact, 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great wealth.”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…”  (Eph. 1:3) What are these spiritual blessings that we have when Christ lives in us, you ask?  In his letter, Paul goes on to say that we have been chosen by God before Creation, we are holy and blameless, Jesus loves us, He has adopted us as His children, we are accepted, we are redeemed by His blood, we are forgiven, we have unmerited favor, we can know His will, He has given us an everlasting inheritance, we know the Truth, we have the Holy Spirit, we have hope, we have power (Eph. 1:1-14).

Welp.  This list makes even the best flea market bargain look like dirt.  And I have made some awesome flea market purchases.  But even if I stood all alone in an empty field with no clothes on my body or a single item to my name, I am ever so wealthy.  Because I have the treasure that is Christ living inside of me, and it will never perish or fade away or leave me for someone better.

This spiritual treasure is expensive, though.  It came at a high price.  God’s precious Son gave His perfect life in order that this treasure may be ours.  The only thing we must give up is our pride.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” (Phil. 3:8-9).

Though purchases are necessary and can bring moments of pleasure and joy, I must continue to remind myself (and all of you please hold me accountable) that the material possessions the world offers are rubbish when compared to the priceless gain of knowing Jesus and being found in Him.

My soul is so grateful that God saw me as a worthy purchase and paid the absolute highest price so that I would be forever His.

Her smiles make me rich
Her smiles make me rich


My husband and I are alike in many ways, but Matthew is a creature of habit while I require some spark of spontaneity in everyday life.  He could happily scarf down a PB&J for lunch everyday, while I constantly change up our grocery lists because I tire of foods so easily.  He can watch episodes of The Office on repeat, while I get bored watching shows I’ve already seen.  Matt thrives on routine and rejoices in the mundane in a way that I envy.

Which is why being at home with Nora was difficult at first.  I was busy— but I felt like I was always feeding her, changing her, or soothing her.  When Matt would come home from work I would practically force him back out the door to go out for dinner or take us on a walk or do anything just to get out and do something different.  Some days, I was a mommy on autopilot.

But then I think about how God’s heart rejoices in routine.  He created the sun to set and rise and He made the seasons to come every year without fail.  Psalm 74:16-17 says, “Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter.”  The Lord delights in seeing His creation do the same thing over and over again.

At the same time, He makes each day new! Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”  On a similar note, Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 3:23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…” Each day we can ask the Lord to satisfy us with His love and show us His mercy again.  What gladness can be found in the faithfulness of the Lord! Every waking of the sun brings new mistakes, new mercies, new moments, new opportunities, new experiences, and new triumphs.

I’ve discovered that (as with most things in life) we have to walk in balance.  We can find happiness in the mundane trappings of life, while at the same time soaking in the newness and uniqueness of each day.  I have since learned to drink in deeply and slowly every bath time, every feeding, every smile.  Now my gaze lingers on her face for longer, I hold her before bedtime a moment more, and my hugs and kisses have multiplied.  But also– each day is a new opportunity to wake up and be the best, most joyful mother I can be.  I am learning to take sweet pleasure in our daily ritual, while at the same time asking God in my heart, “What new do You want to show me today?  What can I learn?  What adventure do You have in store for today?”

Life can be so enjoyable when we balance excitement for the future with true contentment in the present.  Instead of just waiting for what lies ahead, I want to savor each moment as it happens.  One great thing about babies and kids is how they are continually captivated by the same things.  Games like Peekaboo and Hide-and-go-seek never get old, and they constantly say things like “Throw me again, Daddy!” or “One more time!”  For some reason, Nora is completely fascinated by lights and ceiling fans.  She tilts her head and looks up at them no matter what house or room she’s in.  We can learn from children what it means to find the most ordinary things completely riveting.  I want to be the kind of mother that lets herself be constantly delighted by what life brings her way.

So I am learning from my husband, who finds peace and comfort in routine.  I am learning from my daughter, who is fascinated by the ordinary.  And I am learning from my Father, who is exuberantly joyful to spend every day caring for His children.  My prayer is that this daughter will learn these lessons and live in such a way that she cries to her heavenly Father every night, “That was so fun, Daddy! Again!”

We love hearing her squeals!
We love hearing her squeals!
Nora loves looking at her hands.
Nora loves looking at her hands.


Matthew and I are on the verge of celebrating our one year wedding anniversary, and together we have been reflecting lately on all that has happened.  A lot can happen in one year.  Let’s see.  I got married, moved to a new state, landed a new job, started attending a new church, found out I was pregnant, finished my Master’s, and gave birth to Nora.  Whew.

Four short years ago, I had big plans to finish my Theatre degree and move out of Orlando to L.A. or New York in order to pursue an acting career.  I expected to wait a long time before getting married, and I definitely did not plan on having children any time in the near future…ha ha.  My heart was set on taking the theatre world by storm, traveling the globe, and settling into a big city for a life that was more than just the average life of a stay-at-home soccer mom.  Offended by my terminology?  Me, too.  But that’s what I wanted; glamour and spontaneity and excitement and…more.

I looked into my future and thought I had it completely figured out.  Fast forward four years later.  I am married to a man who dreams of becoming a pastor, I got pregnant so fast after our wedding that I beat my parents’ record, and…I live in Arkansas.  My first child was born in Arkansas.  Never thought I would use those words.  Maybe, My first child was born in Africa. But not Arkansas.

Nevertheless, here I am.  Sitting on my couch in Bentonville and glancing every so often at my daughter sleeping in her swing.  And I have joy.  My cup runneth over.

Psalm 139:16 says, “…in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  I marvel that the Lord not only knew my days ahead of time, but that He knew His daughter’s heart so well.  While I thought I craved the fast-paced, brightly-lit life of a successful artist, my Father knew me better and gave me the deepest desires of my heart.  Desires that I didn’t even know existed.  Growing up, I was resolved to lead a “special,” unconventional life.  Younger Mallory would have shamefully scoffed at my current life as a young mother who stays at home with a baby and is completely dependent on a husband.  Younger Mallory would look at me scornfully and say, “Didn’t you want more?”  In fact, sometimes I feel like the rest of the world looks at me and says, “Didn’t you want more?”

This is the most important lesson I think I have ever learned and may ever learn in this life (and I type this with tears of thanks in my eyes): God’s plan is always more.

He knows us better than we know ourselves, He loves us more than we love ourselves, and His plans for us are greater than our minds can fathom on our most imaginative days.  But we have to trust Him.

Everyone’s life looks different, and I am not suggesting that a woman has to be married with children to be fulfilled– I am suggesting that if we trust and acknowledge the Lord with our plans, He will offer our hearts contentment that we cannot attain for ourselves.  Our lives as followers of Jesus will not be perfect and forever peaceful; but the Lord’s plan is for our ultimate good. Always.  Even when parts of life leave us feeling impatient or unfulfilled or afraid or broken…At the end of the day, we can trust Him to carry out the best possible plan for us.  (To those of you who are muttering to yourself, “Some plan.  I’ve never been truly happy,” I encourage you to look to Christ and then wait on Him.)

At one time in my life I was praying for “more” thinking I knew what that meant, but thankfully God answered my prayers in His own way.  I may not have an acting career, but my life has tremendous purpose in caring for my family.  I may not live in a big city, but I have a beautiful community of people that love me.  And I may not have traveled the world, but I’m only 24…

Rather than yearning for “more,” I find myself asking God, “What more could I possibly want?”  And I feel a familiar whisper to my soul, Just wait.

At one of our favorite restaurants in Bentonville, the Station Cafe
At one of our favorite restaurants in Bentonville
My sweeties
With my sweeties
This smile
This smile


I have felt so unattractive lately.  Having given birth not long ago, I feel flabby, stretch-marked, and frumpy.  My clothes don’t fit right, I don’t have time to fix my hair, and every morning I go without exercising my self-esteem plummets a little more.  It doesn’t help that every time I go on Facebook or watch TV I am bombarded by images of gorgeous, photo-shopped girls with tan, skinny bodies and perfect makeup.  Finally I realized that my anxiety isn’t because of my extra baby weight.  It’s because of the trap of comparison.

I’ll never forget working at a youth camp while I was in college and meeting one of the pretty high school volunteers.  She was teeny tiny, with thick dark hair piled on top of her head, and bright blue eyes fringed with thick lashes.  Every time I saw this girl I got annoyed.  I finally realized that I was annoyed because every feature about myself that I was slightly proud of or was praised for, she had the better version.  Truly.  I’ve never particularly loved being 5 feet tall, but I do like being petite.  This girl was more petite.  My hair is one of the features about myself I like the most, but her hair was thicker and darker.  I like my round blue eyes, but hers were bluer and she had long eyelashes.

One minute I was content with who I was, and the next minute I was questioning my confidence.  All because I had compared myself to another girl.  Women do this all the time.  She is such a trendy dresser, I really need a wardrobe more like hers.  She does her makeup so perfectly, I really need to watch more YouTube tutorials.  Her arms are so toned, I really need to start lifting weights.  The problem with this is that there will always be somebody that we deem better looking.  Angelina Jolie was quoted as saying, “I struggle with low self-esteem all the time! I think everyone does. I have so much wrong with me, it’s unbelievable!” (I wanna be like, “Really, Angelina?  Really?”) But there you have it…

We can never be perfectly satisfied with how we look.  Remember the evil queen from Snow White? She was totally satisfied with her beauty until the Mirror on the Wall told her that some other chick had her beat.

So what can we do to separate ourselves from society’s laser-like focus on outward appearance?   Let’s help each other!  Let’s continue to have fun with makeup and clothing, but all the while remembering that it’s simply that: fun.  It’s not where our identity is found.

The apostle Peter encourages, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3-4).  How on earth do I raise my daughter to care more about being precious in God’s sight than in society’s? How can I teach her that outer beauty fades but inner beauty lasts forever?  *Sigh.*  I suppose by attempting to live this out myself.

By refraining from making disparaging comments about my personal appearance in front of her.  By praising celebrities who give generously and speak thoughtfully rather than those who are simply good-looking.  By telling her she’s lovely even during her awkward years (thanks, Mom).  By warning her that modesty and faith will land her a better guy than a short skirt will.  By feeding her Scriptures like 1 Samuel 16:7 that says, “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” By reminding her that while her body will grow old, her soul will live forever. By helping her grow into a beautiful woman who is known for her stunning compassion and kindness rather than for her facial symmetry.

And just one last thought.  What if instead of comparing our beauty to that of other women’s, we compared good works?  Perhaps then instead of logging onto Facebook and being overwhelmed by artful selfies and endless articles about beauty and beach bodies, we would be encouraged by others to love our families and communities better.  Maybe we would then be obedient to Romans 12:10 that says to “outdo one another in showing honor,” and to Hebrews 10:24 that says to “stir up one another to love and good works.”  Just a thought.

Perhaps then we would live in a world in which the woman who loves deepest and works hardest and speaks kindest would be considered fairest of them all.

Telling her she's lovely
Telling her she’s lovely
Our precious girl
Our precious girl