Saturday, November 22, 2014

letting go

About six weeks ago, I was on a work trip and landed in the ER due to some severe pain I was experiencing. That night, I found out that I had a tumor the size of a softball sitting on my left ovary, and that's why I was in so much pain. The ER doctor said to follow up with my doctor at home, but that surgery was the fix. He said from what he could see, everything was benign - praise the Lord!

After wrapping up three more events, including my biggest one of the year last weekend, I had surgery on Monday. I honestly struggled with a lot of anxiety over this upcoming surgery over the last few weeks. When I saw my doctor in Nashville, she told me that in addition to removing the tumor, they were going to have to remove my left ovary. Not what I wanted to hear. In that moment, my first response was, "Are you kidding me?? I'm 30 and single, but I want to be a wife and a mom. You're going to take out half of my chances of getting pregnant someday??"

I got in my car and bawled like a baby, but the Lord spoke so tenderly to my heart in that moment and gave me this reminder: "Mary Margaret, do you think this caught me by surprise?"

No, it didn't.

It's easy to say that He's sovereign, but when life happens and things don't go the way we expected them to, we have to live it out. What would be the point of faith if it wasn't ever tested?

There are a number of things in my life right now that are totally outside of my control. My flesh wants to try to grasp ahold of anything I can to try and get some control back, but I've just had to let go. I'm good at holding myself together and being strong until I just hit the wall where I can't do it anymore. I hit the wall on a few things this week, and while it's hard, it's such a relief to let go and allow God to do the part that only He can do.

It's hard to be vulnerable, but it's a part of really living in community with one another. It's easier to say that everything's okay and that I'm doing fine, but it's not the truth. It means giving up control and allowing other people to see me when I'm hurting and in a raw place, which is hard. I'd much rather have people see me handling things well and being strong, but who is that helping?

All that to say, I trust the Lord more than I trust myself. Through all of this, he's doing a new work in me. It's not easy, and often not fun, but I'm just putting one foot in front of the other and taking it one day at a time.
"Remember not the former things, not consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Running for Bennett


A few months ago, my friend Mickey asked me if I would run the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon with her. After I laughed for awhile, I realized that she was being serious. This is what flew through my mind:
I'm not a runner.
I'm not athletic.
I'm not even sure that I can run for a solid 2 minutes.
I can't do it.

After praying about it, I told her I would run with her. I'm pretty sure at this point, I thought I had lost my mind. Over the last few weeks, I've been looking for a "reason" to run. One thought was to tell myself it's something that I should do before I turn 30 (about 2 weeks after the race). Another thought was to lose weight and get in shape (which is a huge motivator). At the end of the day, none of it felt like enough for me to push through 13.1 miles on April 26.

My brain keeps telling my body "you can't do this..." or maybe vice versa, depending on the day.

Right before Christmas, my sweet friends Ben and Megan Coleman were given a piece of news that no parents ever want to hear - Bennett has a tumor on his liver. Bennett is 19 months old and is at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, and he's going to be there for awhile. He's already in his second round of chemotherapy, and his parents are trading off being with him in Memphis and being with their other two kiddos (Davis and Reide) in Lafayette, Louisiana.

I kept asking the Lord for a reason bigger than myself to run, and he gave it to me in the form of a precious baby boy. Every time I don't want to wake up and run, I'm going to remember that I'm running for Bennett. When my feet and legs start hurting and I'm just not sure I can do it, I'm going to picture Bennett fighting for his life, and I'm going to keep running.

I recently found out that the half marathon is a St. Jude Children's Hospital race and you can run as a St. Jude Hero and raise money for all of the kids who are receiving treatment at St. Jude.

I'm running for Bennett.

Here's where you come in...

  • More than anything, would you pray with me for Bennett and his family? I'm praying for complete healing for this sweet boy. Will you commit to pray with me? If you want to read his story and see updates, visit www.just30days.orgBen and Megan have been dear friends for a long time - we've served 2 churches together, and they were like family to me when we all lived in Austin. I'm so grateful for how they are walking this out with incredible faith and grace. 
  • My goal is to raise $500 for St. Jude Children's Hospital - they make sure that no family ever has to pay for treatment. Would you consider supporting me as I run for Bennett? You can visit http://heroes.stjude.org/marymargaretc to make a donation to St. Jude.
Thanks for your encouragement as I run for Bennett!

Friday, May 10, 2013

silence

I'm the girl who is awkwardly uncomfortable with silence. I can always find a way to interject, and it's usually in an awkward way. Ha! My family and friends can attest that I'll say random things to avoid silence. 

I'm a verbal processor, which means sometimes I just need to get my thoughts out there so I can think them through. I've got friends who are fantastic listeners, and I often preface a conversation with, "I just need to say this out loud."

As I'm getting older, I'm learning that it's ok to be silent. 

Often, The Lord speaks the loudest when we're quiet. I don't always have to listen to music (although right now I'm listening to the new All Sons & Daughters album, which is phenomenal), and it's ok to just be quiet. 

Even when I'm in the mode of being quiet, God is sometimes the one who is silent. Have you ever experienced a time when God seemed to be silent? As I've been reading through the Old Testament the last few months, I've seen so many occasions when God stayed silent. There's an area of my life right now where God just seems to be silent. Sometimes, we just have to wait. And wait. And just keep listening. 

I was reminded last week that God does things for our good and for His glory. Even in the times where it may feel like He's silent, I'm confident that He is actively at work. I love the moments when we can look back and see His hand at work, all the while thinking He was being silent. I'm currently re-reading Mark Batterson's book The Circle Maker, and I love this quote... 
"The reason many of us miss the miracles is that we aren't looking and listening. The easy part of prayer is talking. It's much harder listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. It's much harder looking for the answers. But two-thirds of praying hard is listening and looking."
It's so true... it's easy to cover up silence and even the opportunity to listen with talking. It's hard to stop and listen. 
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
Maybe you need more time in silence...  Or maybe you feel like God is being silent. Either way, be obedient. Listen for His voice, set aside time to be in the Word and hear from Him, and wait on him to speak. Stand firm right where you are, where you're planted, and trust him to speak. The Lord is on our side.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

He isn't safe, but He's good


Last year, the Lord broke down a lot of walls in my life that I had put up. It was a tough year in a lot of regards, but I’m starting to see the fruit, and it’s really exciting.

At some point, I came to the realization that I believed a lot of lies. There were a lot of things about myself, about God, and about situations that I had believed that simply aren’t truth. It’s amazing how quickly the enemy jumps in and tries to create doubt and distrust. A lot of last year was spent putting truths up against those lies and standing on the firm foundation of Scripture as my rock. I’ve been in church all of my life and have spent the last few years serving the church in various capacities. It’s easy for people to believe that those in ministry have all of the answers, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.

I wasn’t doubting God, but I was doubting what He could do.

I’m confident in who I am, but was struggling with who I am in Christ and how He sees me.

I just kept asking if what he was doing was really for my good.

Have you ever struggled with something similar?

A lot of this came to light while I was leading a Bible study for a group of women who were going through drug and alcohol rehab. It put a lot of things in perspective, and taught me so much about the goodness of God.
"Safe?... Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
This is one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes. Safety isn't guaranteed. There are a lot of things in life that aren't guaranteed, but God is good. He's always good, and he has my best interests at heart. He equips us with everything we need, but there's a great deal of responsibility on our part. 

I had the privilege of being a decision counselor last weekend at one of our events, and the Lord spoke powerfully about freedom from sin and secrets. I was able to encourage a group of women to claim the freedom that is ours in Christ, but that doesn't mean it's easy from here on out. There's a point at which we have a decision to make - do we hold on to the past and live in bondage to our sins and lies or do we let the Lord fight the battle? So many of us hang on for dear life to things that are actually drowning us. Jesus came to rescue! Let him do it.

This verse stood out to me last weekend:


No matter what's in our past, in Christ, our sins are washed away. 

Redeemed.

Forgotten. 

Forgiven. 

From now on, I’m putting truth up against lies. I’m fighting the enemy with the Word of God (the sword we’ve been given to fight with) and I’m not backing down.

He isn't safe, but He's good. He can be trusted.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eight Years


My life radically changed eight years ago.

I'm one of those type-A, structured people who makes plans. I love to put things on a list and check them off. In January of 2005, I was a Junior in college. I was planning on graduating early and moving to Nashville to pursue a career in the music industry. Before I go into the story, let me back up a little bit...

In the fall of 2004, I started teaching a small group of 8th grade girls, and little did I know how much that role would change my life. I was terrified of teaching... of being inadequate, of not knowing enough, and basically terrified of a group of 8th grade girls. Looking back on that year, I learned way more from them than I actually taught them.

Now back to January 2005... I was sitting in a student ministry leader meeting on a Sunday night, and the Lord spoke so clearly to me that night that he was calling me into full-time ministry. There haven't been many occasions in my life that the Lord has spoken so clearly like he did that night. The Lord used a variety of ways to confirm this call, but no one was more surprised than me. Over the next few weeks, I sat down with as many people as I could to ask about their call to ministry. It was incredible to see how the Lord worked in such different ways in each of our lives. I'm so grateful that I was surrounded by friends and family who helped me walk through this process.

with Christie, Courtney, Melody and Jackie
The last eight years have been such an incredible journey. I can't think of any part of it that I would change. It hasn't always been easy (in fact, there's a lot of it that has been downright hard), but the Lord's faithfulness is woven throughout every single day. I moved from Colleyville to Austin to New Orleans to Birmingham -- then back to New Orleans and now to Nashville. Most of my experience has been serving students, but I'm loving this new chapter serving women in ministry.


March 1, 2006 - my baptism
I'm so thankful for the people that I've served alongside, for the students and adults that I've had the opportunity to know, and for the open and closed doors that the Lord has placed before me. I'm incredibly thankful for the men and women who have invested in me, discipled me, and encouraged me in my walk with Christ. There are still so many moments when I feel inadequate or unprepared for what I'm doing. All I know to do is to put one foot in front of the other and walk out my calling in obedience.

with Rob and the Smith family (Michael, Kim & Hannah)
Looking back on the last eight years, they are full of spiritual markers. This morning, my pastor talked about the memorial stones that the Israelites set up in Joshua 4. As I look back, I'm so thankful for the memorial stones that are in place in my life. I've been challenged, learned lessons I'll never forget, and these are all markers of the Lord's faithfulness. I'm so glad that my plans didn't work out. He is so much better than he has to be. I'm excited to see what the next eight years have in store. 

This is one of my favorite passages...
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified."
(Isaiah 61:1-3)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Follow-Through


I'm not a big fan of making resolutions or setting goals, mainly because I have terrible follow-through. Ha!

I've decided that I've got to get over the fact that I haven't been great at follow-through in the past and make some changes. It takes a lot of self-discipline (which I am often lacking) and more than just saying it's something I want to do. Back in December, I went to the 5 Club that Jon Acuff hosted here in Franklin. We talked about goals and named some of the things that hold us back. I came up with a laundry list of things that have kept me from reaching my goals and decided to make some changes. I spent a lot of time last year realizing the lies that I've been believing for so long and found truths to put up against them. I finally feel like I'm starting to recognize those lies more easily and hang on to the truth without abandon. In the middle of that process, I lost 35 pounds that I've been hanging onto, and made some other really good changes.

After starting my new job, I got caught up in the busyness of moving, finding a new church, making friends, establishing myself, learning my job, and everything else that goes along with that. I'm back on track and have set some goals that feel reachable. Here are a few of the things I'm working on:

Read at least 2 books a month (These are my January books)
  • Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian
  • Undaunted by Christine Caine
  • The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas
Run a 5K
  • Registered for the Color Run in Nashville on March 30 (with my small group from church)
  • Registered for the WillPower 5K to support our friends the NeSmiths in Franklin on April 6 (with my sweet friend Amanda!)
Memorize 2 passages of Scripture a month
  • Luke 1:45 (done!)
  • 1 Peter 3:4-5 (working on it)
Those are just a few ways, but I'm thankful for the friends that are holding me accountable and reminding me of the truth. I just keep having to tell myself that it's one day at a time. I can't get to my goal of losing 100 pounds by the end of this week, but the effort that I make today is going to make a long-term impact. I'm praying that this is a year of following through. I'm excited about how I can see God at work in the midst of all of this, and I'm thankful that you're along for the journey.

I tweeted out a question today and would love your input! What are some of your favorite workout/running songs? I'm working on a new playlist to get ready for my 5K runs!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

labor of love


Mary has been on my mind so much lately.

Last year, I wrote a post about her on Christmas Eve. I still can't imagine what was going through her heart and mind, but one thing is so evident: she trusted the Lord. 

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy -- the Son of God..."  
"For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:34-35, 37-38) 

As a teenager, she trusted the Lord with everything. What a huge feeling - to know that she was going to basically be wrapped up in the Trinity - that the Holy Spirit, the Most High (God), and the Son of God were all somewhat in her midst. It must have felt overwhelming, but I wonder if she felt peaceful in the midst of it all? I'm guessing there were moments when she panicked, but she was obedient. I hope that whenever the Lord asks something of me that my response is always obedience and willingness, even if it doesn't make sense.

Just after this in Luke 1:45, Elizabeth says to Mary,
"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
Mary believed and trusted, even when it didn't make sense. There was nothing to compare it to and no one who had been in her shoes, but she still trusted. She was a major part of something that literally changed the world. Jesus forever altered the course of human events when He came, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised from the dead after three days. He was and is the Savior, redeemer, perfecter, healer, and so many more things...

I went to Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God" concert Sunday night at the Ryman and was blown away. He's such a wonderful songwriter/storyteller and his Christmas album tells the story of Jesus so clearly. The song that really got me was "Labor of Love." It's about Mary, and I just couldn't help but cry as I heard her story so beautifully put to words.

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

I've walked with my friends and family through great joy and great anguish this year. We have hope because Jesus came that night. No matter what you've faced or will face, there's always hope in Jesus Christ.