Friday, December 25, 2015

Of W.E.I.R.D. - Of Friendships - Of Love


           Just before I turned 16, I joined a Christian online writers' forum. There, I ended up meeting some of my closest friends. Some of them I've been able to meet face to face - some of them only through Skype or phone calls - and others only through type-chatting... And they've become to mean the world to me.

(From the wedding I went to this November - 2 online friends getting married to each other -
and a couple days spent with laughter with them... )

            They are truly there for me - some people may say online friendships can't be true ones - but I've lived enough years with them to know that's not true. They've helped me with projects, and writing - and allowed me to do the same in turn for them. They make me laugh - until I can't breathe, and I'm squeaking, and our teasing is rampant.  And they've made me cry - cry for their hurts and sorrows - and they've cried with me; listening when I just need to talk. They are there when I need prayer - big or small, life-shattering, or little worries - they pray for me.They share in my life - some have been there since the beginning - some are newer - and some have faded in time... They've been friendships that have changed my life.

      Ya know what some of them did for me as a Christmas gift? They took my friendship poetry book, and recorded themselves reading different poems. I've been  crying - and laughing - and crying some more. There's more love than I'm able to fully process...

         This poem I wrote to them - about them - back in 2012... and it has become even more true over the years. 

video
(Read by Camilla Uphaven)

              Almost every week a few of us get together on Skype - sometimes for upwards of four or five hours - and it's something I always look forward to. We are W.E.I.R.D - Weirdos Encouraging and Inspiring Real Dialog.
           Certain online friendships - you get to the point where you can just enjoy each other's company on Skype without needing to always be saying things. When ya can go into listening to music together, and sending links to things back and forth, and just hanging out - drifting between laughing and talking, and then mostly quiet.

       We do that with my WEIRD group sometimes - when people ask, "How do you talk for that many hours?" Sometimes we don't. Sometimes people go about doing their own thing - and we are simply together. We make food, and do chores, and fold laundry, make crafts, and throw links at each other - and yes - we do talk too. We laugh, and are strange, and update each-other on our week, and talk about projects and ideas, and stuff...
      There's a certain comfortableness in friendship where you can simply hang out and do life - even when you're far, far away.

       Last night - this is the one that especially made me cry hard. Like, start shaking a little... It's the overwhelming of memories, and love, and the continued realization of all that went into recording 73 poems...
                            video
(Read by Jordan Miller.)

  l'm still listening to poetry today - poems of friendship, in a project put together by my friends... I needed to express the joy I'm feeling, and how loved I feel this morning - again - so I've wandered to my blog. ;)

video
(Read by Susie Buckley.)

           I have some amazing friends. I really, really do.

                                                      ~Ophelia - Marie

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Do you know what you are getting yourself into?


(A conglomeration of thoughts...)


When I made up my mind
And my heart along with that
To live not for myself
But yet for God, somebody said,
"Do you know what you are getting yourself into?"


               Ha, no... When I accepted Jesus, I was about 6 years old, and I had very little idea of what I was getting myself into. But God had touched me - there was no turning back. I knew enough to know I needed a Savior, and God has been showing me day by day how good it is to be with Him.

               What did I get into? I got into the family of God, to live a life of purpose... A life of service to my King... But it's more than just simple service, or loving adoption... He has called me to die. 



When I finally ironed out
All of my priorities
And asked God to remove the doubt
That makes me so unsure of these
Things I ask myself, I ask myself,
"Do you know what you are getting yourself into?"
                  
Do you know what you are, "Getting into" when you put your faith in Jesus?

                   I've been reading the book, "Not A Fan" by Kyle Idleman. In chapter 11 he makes some very pointed points.


            Luke 9:23
"'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me'

The slogan for followers of Christ could accurately be captured this way:
Come and Die.
Well, at least it gets your attention. Not really the kind of slogan that draws people in. It sounds like a horror flick released around Halloween. It's not a slogan people flock to; it's a slogan people flee from. Nobody wants to talk about death. We don't even like the word death. When somebody dies we say, "They've passed on/ they've gone ahead/ they're no longer with us/ " 

The book goes on to say, "Death is so final' it's so complete. Exactly.  As Bonhoeffer put it, 'When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.' " ~"Not A Fan"
        
      That's God's opinion of my "priorities". He says, "Come and Die. Leave it all behind and follow me." 

"You can't carry a cross without suffering."
"There is a junk theology floating around that points to difficulties as evidence that you must not be following Jesus. The biblical reality is that when people say yes to following Jesus, they are agreeing to carry a cross, and that will be painful at times.
         There are a number of Scriptures that do more than hint at the fact that if you are following Jesus, it will cost you something.


Luke 6:22
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.


2 Timothy 3:12
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Philippians 1:29
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,

       And here's the question that is keeping me awake these days: Am I really carrying a cross if there is no suffering and sacrifice? When is the last time following Jesus cost you something?"
~"Not A Fan"


When was the last time following Jesus cost me something?

He hasn't called me to what is easy. He hasn't called me to sit by and love others from a distance. He hasn't called me to live a life of joy - but keeping that good news to myself. He hasn't called me to live a outwardly good life, but do whatever I want on the side.

He has called me to die to myself -
The broken me
The selfish me
The uncaring me -
To die. 

He has called me to LIVE in His glorious abundance.

To:
~ "Fix My Eyes", For King and Country



I am to live my life with my eyes fixed on my Lord and Savior. With Him, I am alive.


"When He looked at me and said,
'I kind of view you as a son'
And for a second our eyes met
And I met that with a question,
'Do You know what You are getting Yourself into?'
I'm getting into You
Because You got to me, in a way words can't describe,
I'm getting into You
Because I've got to be
You're essential to survive
I'm going to love You with my life." ~ Reliant K, Getting Into You

             The beautiful thing is, yes... God knew exactly what He was getting into when He made us... And yet He chose to love us anyway. He got to us in a way words can't describe - changing us, and helping us grow in Him... He wrapped us in overwhelming, loving redemption, and gave us His Spirit to live within us.... He's essential to survive. He's essential to truly live.


"Things I ask myself, I ask myself,
'Do you know what you are getting yourself into?' "
     
              Ha, I can say when I accepted Christ, I had no idea what I was getting into. He knew exactly all I'd be when He chose me, and yet He still chose me as His... 
He loves me that much.
That is beautiful, safe, and comforting to ponder on.

              That doesn't mean everything is easy... Mmm, no... For there are the results of sin in this world... But I know God has it under control He is good.

        Songs and books like those I've mentioned are a wonderful reminder - God is essential, and He's got me.  
       He knows exactly what I'm getting myself into... May our hearts long to get more of Him - to live and die in the arms of our Savior.

            “Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.
            No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out.
         Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.
— C.S.Lewis

Are you ready to come and die?

~Ophelia - Marie



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Of Thunderstorms and The Ocean


Original from Unsplash

         I'm going to launch into a little ramble here... I don't feel like sitting on it, so it probably should go straight as a G+ post, but my blog /states/ it's for rambling - anyways:

             Okay, so, I've been thinking about the ocean and thunderstorms this morning. I was talking to a friend late last night, and though this wasn't the main point of the conversation, this is what is beating around in my head since I woke up.

       The ocean. Thunderstorms. Wild - big - uncontrollable - awe inspiring. So very potentially dangerous and life threatening.

          I've been totally knocked off my feet in the ocean, and tumbled around. It would've been scary if I'd been out deeper, or if it had been any longer - but I popped up laughing. I've seen God answer prayers for rain... I remember standing out in the dark as it started and I was laughing and laughing... *Shrugs* Yes, I laugh a lot. ;) ... Both of these memories are ones of joy... and smallness.

       Joy and smallness. Joy - awe - at something so fierce, so beautiful, so untameable. Smallness - as I realize how fragile I am, and how big everything around me is.

       I think part of me loves the ocean and loves thunderstorms for how small they make me feel. How BIG they remind me that God is.

       And then there's this:

      Jesus went to sleep in the middle of a storm on the ocean... Jesus walked through a storm on top of the ocean waves...

  There are big things in life. Wild. Uncontrollable. Things we don't know quite what to do with... And they can remind us of how truly vast and powerful our God is.

              Jesus walks through the storms. Jesus finds rest in the middle of storms.

       Isn't that amazing? Imagine with me the fiercest of storms - the wildest of oceans... Realize that He brings peace right there. I've known this seeming forever, but today it feels oddly new - God is  with us in the midst of storms in life - in the metaphorical ones, as well as in the ones of nature. He is very clearly there. 

      *Grins* That's what's on my mind this morning.

~Ophelia - Marie

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thoughts Of A Nurse Aid: Elderly People Need Love Too

I wrote this post awhile ago, back when I'd been at my job for nine months. Feb. 20, I'll have been there two years.

    Today I saw this video, and felt the need to share all this.




       It's easy to take love for granted, until you begin to love those who don't feel loved at all.
       Mmm... So many of my residents don't take love for granted - even the smallest gestures can change their whole attitude... To me, one of the saddest things I heard a resident say after I hugged her was, "Thank you; that means so much...." She paused, and said kinda sadly, "You know, nobody hugs you when you get old." ... Those words hurt.

           Many of my people are lonely. They don't get hugs often at all, or get told, "I love you." or told, "I'm happy to see you today." They are away from their families, and miss a lot of the freedoms they used to have. Some of them can't speak anymore, or even get out of bed by themselves. Many of them have lost spouses, siblings, friends. Many of them have aches and pains... And they are just like you and me. They need to know that they are loved.
        A resident asked me a few days ago, "How did you get to be so loving?"
        I laughed and said, "I don't know, it just happened!" Then I stopped and said, "I have Jesus in my heart. He helps a lot."
       She said, "That's right honey. Jesus died for our sins."
       And for that moment... we were simply two Christians thinking about Jesus.
        There are elderly Christians in my building. They need to be reminded that they have purpose. They still delight God. They are still able to pray. God still hears them and loves them... You can see it in the lives of those who love God - their peace and strength in Him - but like any Christian, they need encouragement.
       God's love is the impression I want to leave. Gosh it can be hard - some days, honestly, I do what I do, and forget to try and be love - I go through the motions - doing my work, and my best, but not beyond that. Some days, I am tired and there are some residents who are mean - sharp worded, and never happy with what we do.... But I am still called to love - no matter the person, no matter my feelings. (I'm still working on loving certain people. There are some who are... hard to love... but I suppose they need it the most, don't they? Mmm.). Those who love me are reminders to me to focus on the positive, and to find joy in what I do because I can be there to serve and love.
Link

          You know what? Loving isn't easy...Sometimes I don't have a spirit of love and patience... And sometimes - love hurts.
         Towards the end of my shift tonight, I was thinking about the last 9 months of this job. My mind flitted to the aspect of death... (Not that anyone died today, but it's just on my mind.) It always feels wrong - even when I know it is coming. It always is just a bit surprising in a way... It's because we weren't made to die and in the depths of us, we feel the wrongness of it all.
        I've watched families grieve, both while their family member is fading, and after they've died. I've watched people in the process of dying. I've crouched beside a bed, and prayed a welcome into Heaven for a woman who had just gone to be with Jesus - oh, I could imagine her joy... I've gone away for some time off, and had a Christian resident I loved very much suddenly pass away while I was gone... Loving people who aren't going to be around much longer...that can hurt... Somehow though, it's not as mind-numbing as I thought it'd be... It reminds me to cherish the life I have, and love fully while I have the chance.
        In the beginning, I didn't know how I'd handle this job, emotionally. There are difficult aspects to it - usually I just talk about the joyful parts. But I feel I've found where God wants me, and He keeps teaching me... growing me... Giving me strength and love I didn't know I had. Ha - so much more patience than I ever dreamed I could muster... I can't do it without Him. You can tell me I do well - and yes, I do try - but all my trying wouldn't do that much without God with me. He is the reason I am who I am. I'm not doing anything special. I'm just bumbling through life, trying to follow Jesus... He tells us to love one another deeply from the heart.
        God is love... How are we showing His love to others? Do you ever consider - how are you showing love to the elderly, the shut-ins, the widows?
        To anyone who has an elderly family member in a nursing home - please, go visit them if you can. Love them. I know it can be hard - perhaps they don't remember you, perhaps they cry when you leave, perhaps they ask why they can't go home with you, perhaps they don't respond anymore... But please, please - show them you care. They are still people who need your love.
       And to anyone reading this - if you ever go visit a nursing home, please, show love to those around you. They need it - we all need that love. We need to reflect the light of Jesus...There is always hope.



God bless,

~ Ophelia - Marie

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Don't Accept Me As I Am - A Short Story

Pinterest
           This is based as a continuation to the story: 
** A Short Story - Work of Fiction **




    I hear all the time, "Just accept me as I am! Take it or leave it!"

   Some applaud this sentiment. "That's right! You tell them! Be yourself!"

   But you didn't accept me as I was... I'm grateful for that.

   There was a time before you loved me, where all I wanted was for you to accept me. That was at the height of my infatuation - a time where everything seemed light - exciting - happy. It was a time where I felt like nothing ever would come between us.  I wanted to see the appreciation in your eyes. I wanted you to be proud of me. I wanted you to love me.

   And in time... you did. 

   We grew into love as we grew into trust. It was hard sometimes - truly loving you... truly letting you love me... The more we grew in love, the more we saw each other as we truly were - two broken people. Two broken people who each brought along our own struggles and problems.

   I remember the first time you told me, "You're hurting yourself."

   It was true... but I'd fought this problem alone for so long. It had been years since anyone had confronted me on this. I had let it become a part of me - even when it sunk me into darkness. I didn't believe that it was something I could change. Not anymore.

   I remember the fear that plunged into my chest so hard I shook; the anger that warmed my cheeks. The way I screamed - "Why can't you just accept me as I am?"

   I wanted to be accepted. What I didn't understand was how much I needed to be loved.

   Love doesn't look the other way as someone drinks poison. Love doesn't nod in agreement as someone stumbles off a cliff. Love doesn't try to cover gaping wounds with a bit of makeup and pretend the blood isn't crusting beneath.  Love wraps around the person - despite it all... but doesn't hide from the problem. Love doesn't accept the problem as healthy.

   You - you loved me.

   You never accepted my poison as good for me. You didn't accept me as I was in that moment... but you loved me where I was. You loved me enough to show me I was tearing myself apart. You didn't leave me alone. You brought me to God.

    We learned of each other's broken parts - the ones that infatuation hid for awhile, but Trust dragged out into the light. The way I avoided conflict until I exploded. The way you let anger cloud your judgement... All the ways we could take each other for granted, or use our words as weapons, or let our insecurities pull us apart.  

     It was in those moments we learned how to run to God together. It was a painful learning. We were far from perfect. We were far from always having it figured out. Love, trust, vulnerability - it takes being open to grow those... and it takes honesty to keep them alight.

    So we learned to pray together - to take our hurts to His Throne and ask for forgiveness.  We learned to find comfort in The Word, and seek wisdom within its pages. We learned more and more how broken we are - but how much more Good and Faithful God is. We learned to grow closer to God in the midst of our brokenness... We didn't accept this was all we'd ever be.

    We didn't accept each other where we were - but we loved each other through every step.

     I never truly needed you to accept me. What I needed was to love and be loved. What I needed was to be reminded of the love God has for me - no matter what... I see that kind of love reflected in the way we love each other.

    You didn't accept me as I was... I'm grateful for that.


~Ophelia - Marie Flowers


*Author's note-

       Again - this is not a story of  my own  romantic relationship experience, but it is written as one who knows friendships... and as one who is trying to write how I feel when I think about this.

    I admit to cringing almost every time I see, "Accept me as I am! Take it or leave it!"

   I understand the sentiment. I do. But part of me still winces.

    No. Please. Don't accept me as I am.  Please - don't accept me as I am. I don't need you to accept me as I am. Love me where I'm at... but have the strength to show me how to grow... Don't accept that this is all I'll ever be. 


      Some of my dearest friends are the ones who love me - truly love me - enough to not accept me totally as I am. I'm broken too - like you - like everyone else in this world... I want to be accepted, but what I really need is to be loved enough by others to be told, "Hey... I don't think that was a wise choice." ... "I care about you - so I need tell you that I think you're hurting yourself this way." ... "I know something's wrong. How can I pray for you?"

     We need to be that type of friend to each other... We don't need to learn to accept each other's poisons. We need to learn to love each other in the midst of them.

      Love me enough to help me grow in Christ. Let me love you enough to do the same for you. Let's show each other the Love of the Father.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When The Dictionary Was Art - On Love



Pinterest

This definition is from the 1828  Websters Dictionary


LOVE:
"We love a friend, on account of some qualities which give us pleasure in his society. We love a man who has done us a favor; in which case, gratitude enters into the composition of our affection. We love our parents and our children, on account of their connection with us, and on account of many qualities which please us. We love to retire to a cool shade in summer. We love a warm room in winter. We love to hear an eloquent advocate. The Christian loves his Bible. In short, we love whatever gives us pleasure and delight, whether animal or intellectual; and if our hearts are right, we love God above all things, as the sum of all excellence and all the attributes which can communicate happiness to intelligent beings. In other words, the Christian loves God with the love of complacency in his attributes, the love of benevolence towards the interest of his kingdom, and the love of gratitude for favors received.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind -
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:37."
"The love of God is the first duty of man, and this springs from just views of his attributes or excellencies of character, which afford the highest delight to the sanctified heart. Esteem and reverence constitute ingredients in this affection, and a fear of offending him is its inseparable effect."

When a dictionary was...art.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some Day I'll Be Older

Original Picture Link



To two residents I've grown to love:

      Some day I'll be older. I'll be stooped over and grey... I'll probably be as forgetful as I've always been - I'll tell the same stories a thousand times and laugh at the same old jokes. My already daily nap time will probably be a good bit longer. I'm sure I'll be reading and writing for as long as I'm able, and probably singing too, though my eyes may grow weak, my hands unsteady, and my voice wavery.

    Sometimes I think about what it'll be like to be old - to look back on my life and hope I spent my years well. I've met so many types of elderly people, and I wonder who I'll be like...

This is what I hope. 

I pray I'm like you.

When I am your age, I pray I'm as beautiful as you are.

         I pray I'll have a love for the Lord that is deeply visible. I pray that  I'll continue to see the good things in life - that I'll show God's love by being truly thankful. I pray that I'll still speak of God's goodness, and pray for others, and encourage those around me. I pray that others will say of me, "She's a joy to be with. I wish we had more people like her," like they do you. I pray others will see Jesus in me, like I see Him in you. I see Him so clearly in you.

       For now I'll continue to walk this life ahead of me. I'll seek to be joyful - to be in step with my Lord...  I wanted you to know that though I haven't had the pleasure of knowing you long -
  You have made an impact on me.


Proverbs 16:31

31 
Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
    it is attained in the way of righteousness.

~Ophelia - Marie

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Ramble About Hope




"HOPE: While the cynical souls of the world may see your bright optimism as a youthful naivete, you have come to understand that it is the hope of a better tomorrow that burns within you. You are passionate and idealistic. You understand that there is so much potential surrounding us, and we have only to tap into it in order to achieve great things. When others are burdened by the troubles of every day life, you transcend them and consider the beauty that the future brings. Your bright disposition infects everyone around you, as they too learn how to dream. As long as hope is alive within you, you will always be the very best that you can be!"

As I look at the answer to this silly little Buzzfeed quiz, I feel struck all over again by the word, "Hope".   

And so instead of reading, or playing with clay - or whatever else it is I want to do with this day off - I feel the urge to ramble about Hope... I'll get to the other stuff soon. ;)


 Hope, for me, is so tangled in the word "Trust". I believe there is Hope because God has awakened my heart to trust. I believe there is potential because I believe in a God that is bigger than our mistakes and weakness. I believe that the future is bright in some aspect or another because God is alive and active in this broken world. I believe God cares... That is why I see hope as such a beautiful thing.

Someone said to me the other day, "If we could understand fully, how much He does care, it would change *everything*."

Yes... I believe it truly would... There's not only hope for the future - there is hope now. God is here Now... He cares Now. Right where we are, no matter what we're facing - He cares, He loves, He sees. We have access to speak with Him - to be in His presence. To be in the arms of Hope.

I have been called naive...Perhaps in some ways I am. But I don't think having hope is naive when it's placed in the One who holds my life in His hands... To me, that seems to be the fullest form of good sense.

Sometimes it's hard for me to understand the worlds of others that don't see hope and beauty as starkly as I do. I know sadness, but even in writing, I'm still looking for the completion of hope. I feel the lack of hope at times - the sorrow, the darkness, the loneliness, the overwhelming sense that things in life are wrong and I can't heal them - I've been told I write it well. But I have the blessing of a, "the glass is half full" attitude... most days.

 I was sorting out those thoughts the other night as I talked with someone who thinks quite differently than I do. Who sees the dark spots as bigger than the light ones...  The weight of that feeling made me write.


Hey it's true -
I'm my own worst enemy,
Gathering the shadows no one else can see,
Tying up the knots so I can't get free,
Never really sure where I'm meant to be -
It's a mess I'm making,
But will You stay with me?



'Cause it's a battle in the dark
And I'm the only one here.
Am I alone here?
I can't see You here...
It's a battle in the dark
And nothing is clear.
Nothing is clear...
But I trust You are near...
Please,
Please show me You're near.



    I know the world is dark... I know there are pains greater than I can wrap my mind around - I know there is suffering and tears and bleakness and blackness that seeps down deep to the soul. I know there are nights of sobbing. Of sleeplessness. Of numbness. Of wondering if pushing on is worth it. I know there are days of fake smiles and tired eyes - of going through motions that everyone expects, but there seems no reason to care... I will not gloss over that fact, or say that that is "your choice" or that, "you could feel hopeful if you want to"... I know it's not that simple.... But I want you just take a moment to look at Hope with me. Even if you can't see it today, I'm praying you will in time... God loves you - you - more than you can fathom. He wants you to find hope in Him. You are His Beloved one.

Psalm 33:20-22

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield

In him our hearts rejoice,

    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.


**
Matthew 6:25-26
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

**

1 John 4:9-10

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.



**

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** 





**

I've written about hope before. It's one of those topics that tickles in my brain and demands to have voice.

          "Since I have hope in God's promises to me, that should change my outlook on life. Hope is a funny thing - it can drive us to do things we may never well have done otherwise. It may only be a spark, but hope can make all the difference. The difference between taking a chance, and shrinking back. The difference between sickening fear, and quiet trust. The difference between reaching for a dream, or letting it die. The difference between caring for someone, or giving up. The difference between taking time to find joy, or only dwelling on the worst.     
    Mmm... Hope... I write that word on my wrist fairly often...thinking about so many, many things in life. It can be hard to remember at times to look around and have hope. Hope isn't just a feeling though. Hope needs to be grounded in the right place, in the right person. Jesus - our Savior, Redeemer, Creator and Friend. He is always with us. We are safe in His arms. He is the reason I can hope."

I pray you are reminded of Hope today... Of your need for God. Oh how great our God is, and how much He truly loves you. He loves you enough that He died for you. He loves you enough that He LIVES in you.
He loves you that much.


May God bless you and keep you,

~Ophelia - Marie