Friday, December 26, 2008


I've been a bit of a slacker lately, if you haven't noticed!  It's been a busy month and a half, and I haven't taken the time to sit down and write it all down yet, so here goes!

  • In November, I was able to go to Europe for two weeks with two of my amazing friends in Austin.  We backpacked in Austria, Switzerland, and France and had the time of our lives!  I have a ton of pictures, but haven't put many on facebook or anything yet... once I have some time, I'll get it done.  I loved experiencing other cultures, trying to cross the language barriers, and eating crazy food.  We had a fantastic time, and I'm so thankful that I was able to take time off and go.

  • After Europe, I flew straight into Atlanta, and met my family for Thanksgiving in Newnan.  We ate at Sprayberry's BBQ, and at the Varsity in Atlanta... two of my all-time favorites!  A lot of my Leavell cousins came the days before thanksgiving, and all of my immediate family was together for Thanksgiving day.  I absolutely love spending time with both my immediate and extended family.  They are amazing and I am so thankful to have each of them in my life.

  • After Newnan, I headed home for a little bit, and caught up on everything.  I really am loving living in Austin, and I've made some great friends so far.  The Riley family let me go Christmas tree shopping with them one Saturday, and I loved it, since I didn't get to go tree shopping with my family this year.  I am so thankful for my Austin family!

  • On the 11th, I flew to Birmingham for Rob's graduation from Samford.  We had a great weekend... Mom, Dad, NeNe, Uncle Theo, and Aunt Glenna all made it, and we had a great time.  I finally got to see the Shire, Rob's home for the last couple of years, and meet all of his friends.  Rob graduated on Saturday, and now has a job on campus at Samford... I am so glad that this has all worked out so well for him.  I am so thankful to call Rob not only my brother, but also my friend.

  • My flight from Birmingham to Austin got canceled on Saturday night, so I had to wait and fly out on Sunday.  I was able to go to church with Rob, Mom, and Aunt Glenna at the Church at Brook Hills on Sunday morning.  The service was absolutely amazing... incredible worship, and phenomenal teaching by David Platt.  In a word, he's brilliant, but incredibly humble.  He preached a sermon out of Galatians 3 on Freedom in Christ, and I wish I could describe how good it was... he hit the nail on the head.  You should download the Podcast... it was just that good!  There aren't many pastors I could listen to for an hour and not get lost or bored.  I'm so thankful that Rob has found such a great church home.

  • Instead of flying into Austin on Sunday, I flew to DFW because I needed to be there Sunday night anyway.  Wes and Rhonda (our HS minister and his wife) picked me up Sunday night, and we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  I got to stay with Michael, Kim, and Hannah Smith, who are some of my favorite people!  We had a great time catching up.  I really do miss them!  We were all in town for Youth Leader Summit, a leadership workshop for people who work in Student Ministry.  This was the second time I've gone through it, and the material is fantastic.  It's not a "student ministry in a box" type of thing, but it's all about how to grow as a leader so that you can be better at what you do.  I feel like I got so much out of the two day workshop, and I'm so thankful that I'm able to do what I do.

  • After the workshop, we headed back to Austin for a few days, wrapped things up at the church, then I left to spend Christmas with my family!  I went to Little Rock for a few days, was able to go to church with the fam at Immanuel Baptist Church, where my Dad serves on staff as Senior Associate Pastor for Ministry and Leadership.  We had a great time with some family friends in Little Rock, and even went bowling, where I bowled the worst game of my life!

  • Then, we headed down to Louisiana to spend Christmas in Ruston with my dad's family.  We have had a great time hanging out, talking, playing games, watching movies, and just enjoying spending time together.  Today, Rob and I are watching season one of "Chuck" and about ot head out with everyone to do some shopping and then to dinner with the Smiths tonight at Johnny's Pizza.  This has been a wonderful Christmas, and I am so thankful for my family!

Whew!  That was a lot longer than it was supposed to be, but all that to say, I have so much to be thankful for.  This has been a great year, and I am excited about all that God has in store for 2009.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

girls ministry article

I did this on such a whim, but I submitted my last blog post to Joshua Griffin (HS Pastor at Saddleback Church) because he's doing "guest posts" this week and my blog was chosen!!  He literally has thousands of readers every week... how crazy!
I am blown away that he would put mine up, but so excited!  I absolutely love what I do, and I love that this is just one way to get the word out.  I think that Girls Ministry is a vital part of Student Ministry, especially because of everything that teenage girls are facing today.  I feel like it's so much worse now than even when I was in high school.  There's so much pressure to fit in and to be what the world defines as beautiful.

My prayer is that these girls would find their identity in Jesus Christ.  I hope that this ministry can help them re[define] their view of themselves, the world, and of who God is in their lives.  God is already beginning to do a great work here and I feel so blessed to be a part of it!

re[defined] girls ministry logo

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This is why I do what I do.

When people ask me what my job is, I get interesting responses.  Most of the people in the church think I'm an intern or an assistant, and people outside of the church don't understand how Girls Ministry can be a "real job."

Well, I saw this excerpt from a photo essay by journalist Robin Bowman, entitled It's Complicated: The American Teenager.  She spent almost four years interviewing over 400 teenagers to be a part of this photo essay.

The excerpts that I read were absolutely heartbreaking, and a great reminder of why I'm so thankful that God has called me to do what I do.  There are so many hurting teenagers out there who feel like they have no one to turn to, no one to talk to, and that the world has turned its back on them.  I pray that they see us as a place of safety and refuge.  A place where they don't feel judged, but where they will hear about the saving grace of Jesus Christ and how he can take the broken pieces of their lives and make something beautiful out of them.

Because the truth of the matter is, if we look at our lives, at some point we've all been just as broken.  We've all screwed up big time in our lives, and I think we do teenagers such a disservice to categorize sin like we do.  We've come up with a rating scale for sin, and feel like our sins couldn't be half as bad as theirs are, so we feel better about ourselves.  Not so in God's eyes.  I wish we could grasp this... I think we would be much more compassionate towards others if we did.  I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with this, but it's something that I'm consciously working on.

Anyway, take a look at this photo essay... I hope that it breaks your heart for teenagers like it has broken mine.

I desire for each of the girls in our ministry to know who she is... first of all in Christ.  If she knows that, she can face the world like a champ, and the rest of the issues don't seem quite as scary or huge.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

Hebrews 10:24

Saturday, September 27, 2008


If you know me well at all, you know how much I love my family.  I am so thankful that I have great relationships with both of my parents and both of my brothers.... I feel incredibly blessed.  We haven't always been this close, but I am so glad that we are now.

I also have an amazing extended family on both sides.  Believe me, we're all very different, but we're family, and when things happen, we all drop everything and get together.  Whether it's a wedding, funeral, or family reunion, it's rare that someone doesn't come... because that's what you do for your family.

My mom called last night to let me know that my great Uncle Landrum Leavell passed away after being in the hospital for the last several weeks.  He was a great man of faith and loved the Lord and his family more than anything.  He was my NeNe's (grandmother on my mom's side) youngest brother, which now leaves my NeNe as the last of her siblings.  I'm headed up to Wichita Falls, Texas, tomorrow for the funeral on Tuesday.  I hate that things like this bring us all together, but I'll be happy to see my family this week.  Awhile back, I posted about this side of my family, and the heritage that I come from, and the legacy that they have left for us.

When I called mom back this morning to figure out our plans, she let me know that Rob had another seizure last night.  He's doing fine now, but he's just a little sore.  I am still praying for healing for Rob, but that ultimately God would use this in his life so that He alone can be glorified.

In my quiet time this morning, I ran across this passage, so I'll leave you with the words of David:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;

He heard my cry for mercy.

Because he has turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live."

Psalm 116:1-2

Monday, September 08, 2008

beyond my comprehension

God works in the most mysterious ways so much of the time.  I'm watching Him move and work in my own life and in the lives of my friends and family in ways that are far beyond my own comprehension.  He's doing some big things, and I can't wait to see what He has in store in each individual situation.

Right now, God's taking me on a journey that I can't put into words.  He's asked me to give up some things, to sacrifice some things, and to hold on tight for the task at hand.  I'm humbled that God would choose me and would use me, and I don't write any of this to bring glory to myself, but to honor and praise the one who has released me from my chains and has set me free to be able to do what He alone has called me to do.

I started a new chapter in my story on Sunday, and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.  The next few weeks are not going to be easy, but I trust that God will show himself to me through this process.

I'm not trying to be cryptic, but maybe you can relate to me better if I don't tell you exactly what I'm going through... just that God is at work, and he's called me to do something that's not easy, but with his strength alone, I'll be able to do.  My heart's desire is to be transparent in every aspect of my life, so that others can learn from me and that I can be held accountable, but I also don't want to be a distraction from the one who should be getting all of the glory.

The last season of my life where I walked this familiar journey with God was a season of preparation for things that, at the time, were beyond my comprehension.  It was a time of preparation for me to cling to God like I had never done before, and surrender my life and my desires so that He might be glorified.  Because when that season of preparation ended, Satan came at me, all guns firing.  I think that regardless of whether or not I agreed to be obedient, I still would have faced the same heartache and trials, and I am so thankful that I was obedient to God's call to prepare.

I don't say any of this because I have it all figured out or have everything together, because I don't.  I'm just me... I'm Mary Margaret and I make mistakes.  I'm just taking things day by day, moment by moment, so that God can be glorified in and through me.

Sorry if this doesn't make much sense... I think this was more for me today than for you, but it's where I find myself today.  So, my encouragement at the end of this is to press on... God is at work, and if you don't already see Him at work in your life, ask Him to do something big.  He'll do it.  He's just like that.
Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.

Hosea 6:1-3

Saturday, August 30, 2008

august update

it's been awhile since I've posted, so here's an update on what's been going on!  I just got back from an incredible weekend in NYC, where I was a bridesmaid in my dear friend Jessica Oney's wedding.  the wedding was beautiful and I had a fantastic time.  It was great catching up with some of my Orlando friends throughout the weekend.  I just put pictures up on facebook, and I'll try to post a few here also.

with jess at the wedding
with Jess at the wedding

with amy burgess at the wedding
with Amy Burgess

when I flew back on Monday, I flew into DFW and went to the American Idol concert with Jenn Price... it was awesome!  haha!  we both watched the whole season and when the tickets went on sale, we just couldn't resist. It was a great concert... the guys were definitely better than the girls, and David Cook totally rocked out at the end.  I loved it!!

with jenn at the american idol concert
with Jenn at the American Idol concert

david cook rockin' it out
David Cook

audience shot
audience shot

We have 2 new student ministry staff members... yay!  Eric Perkins is our new Minister to Families, and he's going to oversee student ministry.  He's had a lot of experience, and is coming off 5 years on the mission field in Ecuador with his family.  Wes Hinote is our new High School Minister, and he starts on Tuesday.  We had an awesome week with Eric last week, and I'm sure this week is going to be great as well, since we'll finally all be in the office together!  I'm really excited about all of the possibilities... I think God's up to something big here, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

Whew!  as you can tell, Things have been crazy, but really good.  No more trips planned for me until thanksgiving, and I think we're going to Newnan, GA to visit my mom's family, so it should be fun!  I miss my family, but I'm loving where I am right now.

I'm off to bed now to rest up before tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


here are a few recent things in my world:

music purchases

  • hillsong - "this is our God"  - I love their music, and this new live cd is awesome

  • phil wickham - "singalong" - this is actually a free download on his website... the cd is fantastic!  I love his style and originality

  • jonas brothers - "jonas brothers" - yep.  I did it.

  • coldplay - "viva la vida" - love it.  coldplay rocks.

  • tim hughes - "holding nothing back" - this is a great worship cd.  my favorite track is "everything"

  • selah - "all my praise" - this song is incredibly powerful.

  • natasha bedingfield - "soulmate" - love this song.

visitors to austin

  • my mom helped me move in (thanks mom!!)

  • julie cole (my cousin) she's fantastic!  she helped me decorate :)

  • leeanne barnett - we stayed up way too late talking... love this girl.

  • wes - my sweet brother bought a plane ticket just to fly out here and see me!  I have the best brothers in the world.

  • jenn and ryan and her parents are coming this weekend!  yay!!  they are my second family and I can't wait to show them around austin.

meals cooked

  • chicken quesadillas with corn tortillas

  • shrimp fra diavolo with whole grain pasta (yum!)

  • tomato soup with ezekiel bread (if you haven't tried ezekiel bread, it's amazing!)

  • I haven't been home enough to make much more, but I have lots of good ideas!

movies watched

  • "the dark knight" - increidble.  what more can I say??

  • "the other boleyn sister" - I love historical movies, and this one was really good.

  • "one night with the king" - after finishing our hs gbs study on the book of esther, we watched this and it was wonderful!

  • "sisterhood of the traveling pants 2" - cute movie... not a favorite.

new things in austin

  • kayaking on town lake

  • schlitterbahn

  • tubing down the guadalupe river

  • picnic at auditorium shores

  • meals at chuy's, kerbey lane, serrano's, magnolia cafe, pita pit, and several others... I love original austin food!

  • six flags fiesta texas - san antonio

  • round rock express game (astros minor league)

things coming up...

  • trip to NYC next week for jess and josh's wedding!  yay!!  I can't wait...

  • 2 new student ministry staff members as of september 1!  woohoo!

  • girls ministry kickoff at hpbc

  • thanksgiving & christmas in little rock with the fam

  • rob's graduation in birmingham - december 13

Saturday, August 09, 2008

can't think of a title for this one...

For those of you who got my email this week and have read my blog, thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging emails!  This has been a long week, but God has continued to prove himself faithful.  So you know, Rob had another seizure last night (Friday) at his house.  It was around 10:30, and he and some of his roomates cooked some dinner for some girls, and were just hanging out, and they were able to catch Rob as he passed out.  One of the girls is a nurse, so she knew exactly what to do (and not do)!  Rob's ok now, but it's just hard not knowing where he'll be when a seizure comes on.  Over the last few months, I've been amazed to see how God has protected Rob every time he has had a seizure, and has surrounded him with friends and family, or he has been able to get to them easily.  I am so aware of God's provision and protection through all of this, and it's been a huge answer to prayer.

I am continuing to pray for complete healing for Rob from this seizure disorder, and I ask of you to pray the same.   if you didn't get my email, the day after I wrote my last post about the song "healer" below, Rob had a seizure, and I was so reminded of this video the next day and how much it spoke to me.  I truly do believe God to be the Great Physician and Healer, and so we are joining together to pray for healing for Rob.  Thank you again to those of you who have already been praying to this end!

this is one of my favorite pictures of me, rob and wes!  this was at disney world in january 06.  I have this one framed in my office!
making pirate faces with Wes and Rob at Disney!

On a lighter note, I'm sitting in my living room watching the Cowboys play their first pre-season game and it's pretty exciting so far!  For some reason, I have a few HD channels, and so I'm loving watching the Cowboys and the Olympics on my new tv!  I feel like this summer has been such a whirlwind, and I'm ready for things to settle down a little bit, but I think they're about to get crazy again!  We have two new guys coming on our student ministry staff in a few weeks, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for student ministry here at HPBC.

I got home today from an overnight retreat the we did for our incoming freshmen called FISH camp, and we had a blast!  We had 15 students who went with us out to lake LBJ, and we hang out, talked about high school, and played on the lake for most of the day today!  I had a blast riding around in the boat and getting to know this group of students better.  It was so relaxing to be out on the water... I want a house on the lake someday!  I'm tired, so this is it for now, but hopefully the next entry will be more exciting than this one.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


I've blogged a lot more lately than I usually do, but I really feel like God is up to some big things, and it's caused my thoughts to come tumbling out.  some serious, some not.

I ran across this song on a friend's blog the other day and the song and the story that inspired it brought me to tears yesterday.  it speaks of such truth and has such power behind it.

I believe confidently that God is a healer.  He is the Great Physician.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

how often do we pray with such boldness?  do we pray believing that God can do what He has clearly said He can do? I think we have been conformed to doubting and to hesitancy in our prayers.  God has really done a work in my prayer life recently, and I think it's changing the way I view God in an incredible way.

We must pray with confidence, with the knowledge that God is in control.  We must pray believing because we serve a God who can do the impossible.
"For nothing is impossible with God."
Luke 1:37

In the same vein, we must also pray trusting God with the outcome.

Here are the lyrics to the song.  It's going to be on Hillsong's new live cd "This is Our God" which releases in the US on August 12.

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in you
I trust in you

I believe
You're my healer
I believe
You are all i need
I believe
You're my portion
I believe
You're more than enough for me
Jesus, you're all i need

Nothing is impossible for you
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for you
You hold my world in your hands

Before the song begins, scripture is read.  It's part of Isaiah 53 out of The Message:
"Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God-a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried-
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him-our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

And by his stripes we are healed."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

me in a nutshell.

I know... who I am.
I believe... in Jesus Christ.
I fought... with a girl named bianca in 6th grade. I slapped her and she fought back.
I am angered... when people don't use common sense.
I love... my family and friends.
I need... to start going to bed earlier.
I take... my time making decisions.
I hear... that there are some exciting things going on.
I drink... lots of iced tea and coffee.
I hate... having to use a pc at the office.
I use... my cell phone too much.
I want... to be a wife and mom someday.
I like... spending time with my friends.
I feel... so happy where I am right now.
I wear... flip flops almost every day.
I left... my chi on one day last week while I was at work... oops.
I do... someday.
I hope... that you aren't bored yet.
I dream... in color... pretty much every night.
I drive... a silver nissan xterra... named blue steel.
I listen... to music while I go to sleep.
I type... pretty well. my mom made me use "mavis beacon teaches typing."
I think... that things are about to get exciting.
I wish... that christmas was sooner... I'm ready for cold weather.
I am... going to nyc in a few weeks!
I regret... nothing.  it's all a part of the journey.
I care... about people.
I should... clean out the spare bedroom.
I said... that I would never live alone.  here I am!
I wonder... when my neighbor is going to quit being so noisy.
I changed... a lot last year... for the better I think.
I cry... more often than I admit.
I lose... keys and sunglasses all the time.

I leave... you with this.

where have all the good guys gone?

saw this article this morning.... what an amazing stand for Christ.  we need more Christians in the world like this who aren't afraid to take a stand.

Tim Tebow Article

and by the way, GO GATORS!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

looking back and looking forward

I think part of being on a journey is looking back.

looking back to see what God has done and how he's proved himself to be faithful time and again.

for some reason, I looked at my old blog today... it was a trip down memory lane for me, and a testimony to God's faithfulness in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without each of those experiences. the last entry I wrote was the weekend that I graduated college 2 years ago. it's amazing how quickly time passes and how much we change.

change is such a huge word, and a necessary part of life. I was flipping through my study Bible this morning and found a piece of paper I hadn't seen in a long time. it's an excerpt from donald miller's book "through painted deserts" that speaks of change, and I thought back to the first time that I read it... so much has changed since then. ironic? I don't think so.

God has a purpose for every season of our lives... it's up to us whether or not we see His hand in every breath we take, in every situation that we face, in every painful or joyful situation.

I've been co-teaching a high school girls Bible study this summer on the book of Esther. one verse that keeps resounding in my head is where Esther and Mordecai are talking, and she is about to agree to help the Jews and basically put her life on the line for them. Mordecai looks at her says says,
"yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14b - nkjv)

God's timing is perfect, and He used Esther in such a mighty way. sometimes we miss out on opportunities to do something because we forget that God has brought us to where we are for such a time as this. I am where I am because God led me here... for such a time as this. I've joined Him on the journey of what He's doing and have followed His call on my life. so, there's purpose in all of it... every bit. because God is at the center of it all.

I'm excited about looking back on this time in my life to see how God was at work that I currently can't see. my heart's desire is to be used to bring glory to His name... even if it's just to help one person or see one girl realize that she's beautiful and important in God's eyes, it's worth it all. spending time with the girl who questions her self-worth because of something that someone has said to her is worth it. I hope that I can use the pain and heartache that I've experienced to lessen someone else's pain and allow them to learn from my mistakes.

God is already answering prayers and opening doors here, and I am so excited to see Him at work.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite passages...
the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

because the Lord has anointed Me

to preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound...

to give them beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,

that they may be called trees of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

isaiah 61:1,3

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I thought this was so much fun... takes the most-used words from your blog or page and creates this...

Monday, July 14, 2008

i'm so tired...

I don't like living alone.

If you didn't know this about me, now you do.

I'm not scared, I'm not lonely. I just don't like to be by myself a whole lot. yes, I do need mary margaret time, but not as much as I've had lately. the biggest problem that this whole not liking to live alone is causing is that I don't go to sleep at night. I just stay up way too late, usually watching reruns of "friends" or "gilmore girls" or reading a good book. last night I had a monica gellar moment and I stayed up until 1:30am cleaning my apartment. when I was wide awake at 12:30, I figured I would be productive, so now the apartment looks and smells great.

so now, I'm exhausted. I'm caught up on bills, and I'm ready to go to six flags tomorrow, but for some reason I'm still awake. maybe it's because I wrote this as a way to keep myself up since I don't like to be by myself. I have a feeling I've caught myself in a sick cycle.... I'm ready for a roommate, which hopefully will be really soon!

I think I'm headed to bed now. for real.

oh yeah, things are still going great in austin - I love this city!  our girls Bible study on the book of esther has gone over really well, and I'm having a bunch of those girls over one night next week for a slumber party and we're going to plan some awesome girls events for the fall... I can't wait!

also, I'm headed to orlando for a wedding and to see some friends, so I'm really excited... should be lots of fun!  I'll try to to post pictures soon, but I can't find the cord that plugs my camera into my computer... sad day!

for real now, I'm going to bed.

Monday, July 07, 2008


no, I haven't had a breakdown of any sorts... but it just seemed an appropriate word for right now.  I'm going to give you a breakdown of everything that's happened over the last couple of weeks, including everything that I own that has broken over the last two weeks.

let's just start things off this way... here's what has broken:

  • washing machine (I had to buy a new pump the day I moved in)

  • refrigerator leak (yay for the fact that the apartment fixed it!)

  • dishwasher leak (apartment fixed it!)

  • car battery died my first week of work - had to buy a new one

  • computer had to be sent off for repairs

  • cell phone freaked out - had to get a new one

needless to say, it's been a little crazy the last couple of weeks, but it's also been SO good.  I firmly believe that I'm exactly where I need to be right now, and other than everything breaking, this has been a really smooth transition, which is such an answer to prayer.

following God's call to go where he wants you to be is an easy thing, except for the fact that I'm human.  it's hard to leave behind friends, security, familiarity, and everything that goes along with that.... but God was so clear that this was where he was leading my heart that I couldn't stay in colleyville.  it's so easy in the midst of all of that to question God's timing, because it definitely didn't make sense to me, but I believe in His sovereignty and the fact that His timing is perfect.

making this move in the middle of summer has felt like a whirlwind, but it has been so much fun.  I'm feeling settled in my apartment, and haven't gotten lost too many times yet!  everyone here at hyde park has been so welcoming and friendly, and have made me feel at home so quickly.

here are a few ways that you can be praying for me and for this ministry...

  • receptiveness of the students to this new girls ministry, and to my role as I lead out

  • guidance for our church staff as we look for a new high school pastor

  • for the people of austin - 90% of which are unchurched

  • for me as I continue to settle and make friends

I promise I'm going to get pictures up here as soon as I can find the cord that connects my camera to my computer!  ha!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

more than you know

this video and the rest in this series had me laughing hysterically today!  click on the youtube link and check out the rest of the videos!

Monday, June 16, 2008

i'm movin' on

well, if you haven't heard already, I'm moving to austin this week! I'm going to be working on staff at hyde park baptist church as student ministry associate. it's definitely a bittersweet time, and it just feels like the end of an era, but I'm excited about this new chapter in my life.

I had one of those "grown-up" feelings today when I bought and paid for a mattress and box springs for my new apartment... my mom said I went pale and looked like I might throw up. the guy offered 2 years of no-interest financing, but that's a dave ramsey no-no, so I paid for it like a big girl. growing up isn't all it's cracked up to be! haha! I finished clearing out my office today, and just moved out all of my furniture. the movers are coming around 8am on wednesday, and then I'm headed out! hard to believe. I've been in dfw for the last 6 1/2 years, and I've been at fbc colleyville for the last 4 years. so much has changed in all of that time, and it's been an amazing journey. I definitely wouldn't be who I am today or headed where I am if it weren't for all of it... the good and the bad. I had dinner with my mom at la hacienda ranch (my favorite!) tonight and it just brought back so many memories of what's probably been about 50 meals there over the last few years. time flies when you're having fun!

anyway, just wanted to put this up here... more updates to come when I get into my new apartment! my cell phone and email are the same for now... let me know if you need them!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

the never-forsaking God

what I needed to hear today... from "my utmost for His highest" by oswald chambers.

June 4, 2008

The Never-forsaking God

He Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you’ —Hebrews 13:5

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' " ( Hebrews 13:5-6 ).

"I will never leave you . . ."- not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

"I will never . . . forsake you." Sometimes it is not the difficulty of life but the drudgery of it that makes me think God will forsake me. When there is no major difficulty to overcome, no vision from God, nothing wonderful or beautiful- just the everyday activities of life- do I hear God's assurance even in these?

We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing- that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God's assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

vicky mwikali kyalo

for the last year, I've sponsored a child through Compassion International.  her name is vicky mwikali kyalo, and she's from kenya.  she's one of 6 children, and she is 7 years old.  her father died, and her mother works as a farmer to provide for her family.  she loves to jump rope and her job is to help clean the house.

I love getting her letters in the mail, and they are usually accompanied by a picture that she has drawn.  today's letter moved my heart, so I wanted to share it with you... (it is written by jacob, one of the social workers)
"vicky greets you this Easter holiday and hopes this letter finds you well kept of the Lord.  she says that she is fine and has been doing alright in the Lord.  vicky narrates that this Easter season she will go to church, visit her friends, and feast on chicken and rice as she celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  she hopes you too will celebrate, but wonders how you do it in your home country.  she further states that she is very grateful for the Christmas gift you sent to her over last year december from which she was bought a dress and a pair of leather shoes.  she declares God's blessings and favor upon your life and the work of your hands.  she finally says thank you for being there for her and that God bless you and you do good ever, Amen.

this letter brought me to tears today.  vicky started school in the third term last year, and she's at the top of her class - 1st out of 45 students.

here's a quote from Compassion's website about the children in kenya:
Compassion's work in Kenya began in 1980. More than 55,900 children participate in more than 225 child development centers. Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Kenyan children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

for just $30 a month, I have the privilege of helping to feed a child in need.  she is able to go to school, learn about Jesus Christ, and grow.  if you don't already, please consider sponsoring a child like vicky.  there are so many children in need, and what would you be giving up?  two or three meals out a month.

it's worth it.  a child's life depends on it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

american idol finale... my thoughts.

well, mark my words. I was wrong. I had pinned david archuleta as the winner from day one, and I've stuck by that the entire time. david cook is incredibly talented, but archuleta seemed to have the popular vote, especially among the demographic that watches the show. I've said for the last month or so that david cook should win, but that he wouldn't, and I was wrong! I'm totally ok with that though...

I thought the finale tonight was hilarious... I'm probably crazy and just plain exhausted, but I loved it! here are a few of my favorite moments:

  • gladys knight and her "pips" - ben stiller, jack black, and robert downey, jr. - I love gladys, and this song is a favorite of mine - those guys are crazy!

  • jordin sparks - I love this girl - so much personality! she was on tour as a backup singer when I saw michael w. smith twice on his christmas tour - she was incredible then, and is even more so now.

  • michael johns and carly smithson - two of my favorites from this season, both of which went home too soon

  • david archuleta singing "apologize" with one republic - ryan tedder didn't sound great tonight, but david sounded great on the song. I actually have a cd from my sweet friend amanda hampton that has some of ryan's early recordings - way back in the day. she gave it to me in high school, and it's hilarious to listen to now! ha!

  • bryan adams - I didn't love the song he sang tonight, but I love some of his other stuff. sappy, I know.

what I could have done without tonight:

  • the donna summer medley

  • mike myers as the "guru" - shameless promotion!

  • brooke white with the guy from crosby, stills, and nash - too folksy for my taste

  • george michael. need I say more? carrie underwood sang "praying for time" SO much better on "idol give back" this year - he sounded terrible.

have I mentioned yet that I bought tickets to go see the concert tour when it comes to dallas in august?! have I mentioned that I am freaking excited about it?! jenn's going to go with me, and we're going to scream and sing along... I can't wait!!!

by the way, did anyone catch the new coldplay/apple commercial? it was pretty awesome... I know wes loved it!

well, that's my two cents. let me know what you thought.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

... yet will I trust Him

This spoke to me so clearly today from "My Utmost for His Highest" and it included a verse that has been so powerful and spoken into my life so much lately:

"though he slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 13:15

Let that one sink in... after everything that Job went through, this was his attitude. Even though he felt completely ripped apart and destroyed, he still trusted in Almighty God.

Now read below...

The Faith to Persevere

"Because you have kept My command to persevere..." Revelation 3:10

Perseverance means more than endurance— more than simply holding on until the end. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, but our Lord continues to stretch and strain, and every once in a while the saint says, "I can’t take any more." Yet God pays no attention; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, and then He lets the arrow fly. Entrust yourself to God’s hands. Is there something in your life for which you need perseverance right now? Maintain your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the perseverance of faith. Proclaim as Job did, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" ( Job 13:15 ).

Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion, but is strong and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. And even though you cannot see Him right now and cannot understand what He is doing, you know Him. Disaster occurs in your life when you lack the mental composure that comes from establishing yourself on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the supreme effort of your life— throwing yourself with abandon and total confidence upon God.

God ventured His all in Jesus Christ to save us, and now He wants us to venture our all with total abandoned confidence in Him. There are areas in our lives where that faith has not worked in us as yet— places still untouched by the life of God. There were none of those places in Jesus Christ’s life, and there are to be none in ours. Jesus prayed, "This is eternal life, that they may know You . . ." ( John 17:3 ). The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we will take this view, life will become one great romance— a glorious opportunity of seeing wonderful things all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

sunday night nachos

as a kid, it seems like so many times we came home after sunday night church and ate nachos. strange? maybe. but I loved it! mom made the best nachos, and so many times I find myself wanting nachos on sunday nights. so, tonight I went to costa vida and got some nachos, and boy were they delicious! I'm trying to eat healthy, so this definitely wasn't the best idea, but they were good. :)

now, I'm finishing up my nachos and watching "indiana jones and the raiders of the lost ark." it's been a loooong time since I've seen it! I'm trying to watch these again before the new one comes out. I think this is going to be a great summer for movies!

this was a busy weekend... mom came in again, on the other end of her trip to orlando... we spent saturday running errands and seeing friends, and had lunch at seekers. we also dug up several flower beds and planted new flowers in the front and back, and in some pots around the house. we planted begonias, geraniums, english ivy, and impatients. I ended up having to dig up and then plant the ivy today because we ran out of time, and now I'm incredibly sore from it all. no fun! I saw "made of honor" last night with some of the girls and we had a great time. I can't think of anything else right now... back to the movie!

Monday, April 28, 2008

found faithful

I've been doing a study through 1 & 2 Samuel over the last few weeks and months. I came to realize that there's so much in there that I either missed over the years or just never read. One story has stuck out in my mind, and I haven't been able to let it go. The story is out of 1 Samuel 13, and here's the jist of it... Saul had been reigning as King of Israel for 2 years and had built up a great army. Samuel had given instruction to Saul (1 Samuel 10:8) that he is to wait seven days (until Samuel returns) before doing anything. Samuel had promised to come and show Saul what to do at this point.

The thing that kills me here is that when Saul was anointed King, Samuel prophesied all of this to Saul. He knew what was going to happen, and had been given specific instructions as to what to do, but he does just the opposite... he does what is wise in his own eyes, and disobeys God.

So, Saul gets impatient, and at the end of the seven days, he offers a sacrifice before Samuel has returned. Here's what Samuel's response to Saul's disobedience was:

"You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command."

Talk about a humbling experience... Saul acted out of impatience and selfishness, and look where it got him. He gave away every blessing and opportunity that God could have handed over to him, and it was now about to pass along to David - a man who wasn't perfect, but who sought God and was a man after God's own heart.

This just hit me in between the eyes when I read it. I think it's because it's something that we all face at one point or another. It may not be over a war, but it could be over many things in our own lives. God gives us instructions, asks for our obedience, and we can't be patient enough to see it through. We deny God the opportunity to bless us or to use us because we are impatient and feel like our way will work out better.

Patience is something that I'm still learning, and it's not easy. I like to be in charge (imagine that!) and it's hard for me to wait on God's best or his answer sometimes. I feel like I can just "fix things" so that they'll be just right, and all the while, I'm just messing things up. Oh, to be found faithful and obedient. He is faithful, and He's never late.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

late night musings

I can't sleep... too much to think about.

so, I'm going to write.

here's another itunes update... now I'm looking at my "play count" to see what songs I've listened to the most... here are the top two culprits:

  • "none but Jesus" by hillsong united : this song has become one of my favorite worship songs over the last couple of years. it speaks to where I am in life and it's what I desire - "there is no one else for me, none but Jesus." (play count: 147 - one night I fell asleep to it on repeat and I think that's why... ha!)

  • "glorious day" by jeff johnson : yet another new favorite worship tune. I love the fact that it's an old hymn... such truth in the words. it's a song of celebration. "living he loved me, dying he saved me, buried he carried my sins far away... oh glorious day!" (play count: 104)

I've been listening to a lot of old music lately... stuff that reminds me of when I was younger. I love it! if I told you the names of what I've been listening to, you would most likely laugh at me, but that's ok... doesn't bother me!

I think I'm on the verge of another great reading kick, so I'm excited. I love reading during the summer.... sitting outside with a good book, pretending like I'm at the beach.

I'm excited about summer and I'm dying to go to the beach... but that probably won't happen until the end of july, so I'll just have to wait. this summer includes: two weddings (orlando and nyc), camp, mission trip to canada, some sort of family vacation (which includes a trip to little rock... woohoo...), and I'm sure some other fun and sundry events. yay for summer and flip flops! I'm ready. here's a picture of me at the beach last summer...

me at the beach

my birthday is also coming up, so that's exciting... I'll be 24 on may 13! wow, I feel old. it just feels like the last few years of my life have gone by so fast, but I'm doing my best to live life to the fullest and enjoy every day! I'm ready for the adventures ahead, and I think 24 is going to be amazing. watch out, here I come!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

i will not take my love away...

this song has become a favorite... I love the lyrics. a great picture of how God cares for us.

"I will not take my love away" by matt wertz

I will not take my love away
When praises cease and seasons change
while the whole world turns the other way
I will not take my love away
I will not leave you all alone
When striving leads you far from home
And there's no yield for what you've sown
I will not leave you all alone
I will give you what you need
In plenty or in poverty
Forever, always, look to me
And I will give you what you need
I will not take my love away

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

official dogsitter?

that's my current title. dogsitter. housesitter. and a host of other things.

while we're talking about dogsitting, let me just tell you that I'm watching 2 cute miniature schnauzers (daniel fox, if you're reading this, I love your dogs.)

the funny thing about this though is that one of the dogs, lexus, is deaf and almost blind. have you ever tried to coerce a deaf and blind dog to do something? I'm guessing you haven't, and let me tell you that it's not easy. I watched them last week and again this week, and it's getting more and more challenging. I was late to a meeting last week because I couldn't get her to come inside.

I love dogs... it'll be awhile before I have one though. I'm definitely going to wait until I have my own house, but you can count on me having one after that.

now on to the housesitting thing... this morning I was asleep and was about to get up when all at once, my cell phone starts ringing, the house alarm is going off, and I hear our realtor talking downstairs. I immediately jump up, throw on some clothes and run downstairs. in the process, I hang up on the alarm company twice, and try to compose myself as our realtor and the pool guy he brought are standing in the foyer. my dad then calls because the alarm company has called him and he's worried that someone is coming in to get me. I explain what happened and he passes along the message. the realtor apologizes and tells me that he rang the doorbell twice, and I inform him that the doorbell doesn't work! :) anyway, things settled down after that, but I've made the official decision that I don't like living by myself. I hope this doesn't last too much longer! from what I've heard, a couple of people are interested in the house, which is good and bad.

that's all for now. I'm tired and I'm going to turn the alarm on with the hopes that it doesn't scare me to death again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

i'm not gonna...

...write you a love song.

I love sara bareilles' new song titled "love song." it's on the list of my ever-increasing "purchased" playlist on itunes. I think that music speaks louder than ordinary words sometimes, so here's a glimpse into my head... I'll give you the last 10 songs I've purchased from itunes.... from earlier this month to last week.

  • "love song" by sara bareilles - I love the jazzy feel of this song... and I think it was the free song of the week the week I bought it.

  • "it's all wrong, but it's alright" by michael johns - oh how I am loving the current season of american idol. I love checking the tivo tuesday and wednesday nights these days and catching up. oddly enough, this is a dolly parton song... can't really stand her. this was one of my favorite performances though, and I love michael johns. it was a heartbreaker last week when he had to go home. mark my words though, he's going to be big. love it.

  • "across the universe" by michael johns - see, I told you that I love his voice. he's got this amazing edge to his voice that makes it unique. this was an awesome song during beatles week.

  • "stop and stare" - the ep by onerepublic - I totally love their sound and I love the title track to this ep. the other songs are great too - "last goodbye" and "too easy"

  • "shout to the Lord" by the american idol top 8 - ok, so I'm still trying to figure this one out, but I love the song, so I bought it. I've been reading josh griffin's blog lately (the hs pastor at saddleback) and he posted the link to the video and it had some interesting feedback from his readers. michael told us we should all check his blog out, and it's proved to be hilarious and a great read.

  • "praying for time" by carrie underwood - I promise I'm not a total american idol freak, you just happened to catch me at a moment where there have been some great songs! this was a live performance on "idol gives back" last week, and I love carrie underwood anyway, so I've listened to it a lot this week.

  • "bleeding love" by leona lewis - this girl has an incredible voice... I heard her sing on tv a few weeks ago, and I love this song. simon cowell is predicting that she's the next big thing. you should take a listen.

ok, so there you have it. I'll keep you posted on what else I find. I've had an interesting few weeks, and God is really stretching and challenging me. I can't wait to share what He's doing, but that's going to have to wait. I promise I'm about to start writing here more... I'm working on it. I'm about to head to bed early... this has been a long weekend... dine by design friday night, 9th grade girls sleepover and painting pottery friday night (we stayed up til almost 4am... not as much fun as it used to be! ha!), went to the zoo with some fun friends today and saw the new penguin exhibit. I love penguins! if I can figure out how to put pictures on here, I'll put a few up. that's all for now!


Friday, February 29, 2008

you have got to be kidding...

ok... so this week has been crazy. my parents are officially moving to little rock (more about this at the end of this blog) and a few other things happened...

*disclaimer* if you're reading this and a part of the story, yes, I still love you, and yes, I will still watch your child.

now that those of you who haven't heard the story of my week are confused, have no fear, for I am about to fill you in.

this week started off pretty normal... work, sleep, work, sleep. until we came to tuesday. I spent most of the day helping michael and kim pack up stuff to move to their new house... then wednesday, I unpacked it all. fun times. while we were unpacking on wednesday, christie and ethan came over for awhile, and we all worked and talked. in the middle of the afternoon, christie said she was having some contractions, but that they were the braxton-hicks (or something like that) ones that aren't real. woohoo!

that night at church, however, she was still having contractions, and was puzzled by this fact. I know nothing about pregnancy/birth (except now thanks to kyle, I know that it involves being "stitched up" at some point, which entirely freaked me out) so I have no idea what to tell her except, "oh, that's weird."

so... at 10pm wednesday night, she called to see if I could stay at the house with ethan while jonathan took her to the hospital to get checked out. I happily obliged and drove my cute little xterra over to mesa court. this is where the fun begins.... things were fine until about 2am, when I woke up, looked at the video monitor and couldn't see ethan, so I decided to go upstairs and check on him.

what did I find? let me tell you... poor little ethan had gotten sick and thrown up twice on his bed. I felt incredibly bad, and at the same moment, I had no idea what to do. so, I picked him up, cleaned him up, and put a new shirt on him. then I took him downstairs to watch elmo, and I think he was confused and thought it was morning and time to get up and play. he watched "mo" while I cleaned up his bed. yes, I did call my mom at this point to find out what to do. sh said to wash the sheets with lots of soap and put new sheets on the bed. I probably could have figured that one out on my own, but I was in a moment of panic. I actually washed the sheets twice, just to make sure they were good and clean. :)

one of my first thoughts in the middle of this was "oh, wow... being a mom is not for sissies." I'm definitely going to pass of puke patrol to my future husband. I think the worst part about it for me is the smell...

jonathan and christie got home around 4am, and all was well. no baby yet! christie said that ethan has only gotten sick like this once, so let's just say that I had some great "mom training" wednesday night!

so you thought my story was over, right? nope... keep reading.

needless to say, I slept in thursday morning. you don't want to be around me if I haven't had sleep. it's not a fun experience. thursday afternoon at 2:30, I picked up hannah smith from preschool, since her parents were busy with the movers getting all of their furniture in the house. we went to my house and did the following: played candyland with mom, ate cheez-its and drank lemonade, colored pictures and watched american idol from wednesday (hannah loves it), played with my little cousin ella claire who came over, took about 50 pictures in the backyard, collected rocks, made dinner, and went to mcdonalds to get hannah some fries and ice cream, and play in the playplace. the only minor meltdown we had was when she found out that kim had forgotten to pack her dinner and she couldn't have quesadillas. you would have thought I had told her that something tragic had happened. she got over it pretty quick, and things were all good again. whew! what a day... lots of fun though!!

now on to today... I was called in for jury duty this morning.... woohoo... I had to be downtown ft. worth at 8:30am, and I was actually early, believe it or not! while I was going through security, a man in his 60s started getting upset with the people running security and actually had to leave the building! I then had to sit in a room with about 250-300 people, to wait for instructions. we watched a video, had to have a briefing by the jury bailiff, and then took an oath. there was a huge line of people who wanted exemptions and wanted to leave. she said that in 17 years, she's never had so many cranky mean people in one day! at the advice of a friend, I took a good book and read. after they assigned groups to courts today and monday, she said that our group could leave!! yay!! I was one of about 40 people who didn't have to do anything and just got to go home. I got to leave around 11am, and have been running errands since then.

that's pretty much it... it's just been crazy around here. one major reason being that my parents are moving within the next month to little rock. my dad has taken the position of senior associate pastor for ministry and leadership at immanuel baptist church. the senior pastor is a good friend of his, and both of my parents are very excited.

for me, this means I need to find a place to live... I never planned on staying at home this long, but I have been able to save money, which is a huge blessing. now I'm just waiting to see where I'm going to land!

that's enough for now... I'm tired of typing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

light in the darkness

over the last couple of months, I just haven't had much to say or write.  I've started writing on here several times, and just never finished anything.
over the last year, I feel like I really have wrestled with God in several areas of my life.  today was the first time in awhile that I just laughed... I let go and laughed so hard with some of my friends at lunch.  it's been way too long, and I've just felt too overwhelmed.  all that to say, I'm ready to put it all behind me.  I'm ready to move on and move forward from the tough year that 2007 was.  If you think you know why my year was tough, you probably don't... but God has walked with me every step of the way, day by day.

sorry if I haven't been a good enough friend, returned enough phone calls, and really responded like a friend should.  I've had to take some serious time for me, and it has been difficult, but worth it.   I'm sorry.  I'm just a sinner.  I'm no better than anyone else.  I want my life to be ruined and wrecked by God so that he can be glorified through me, no matter how much it hurts or what it costs me.  I have surrendered my life to that, and I am ready for whatever that means.  a verse that I read in my quiet time this week was out of psalm 18:28 and it says, "The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness."  this is such incredible truth.  God has brought such incredible light into my darkness, and it's because of him that I am where I am today.

right now, I'm exhausted.  we just finished an incredible d-now weekend... we had 198 students (wow!!!) and God completely exceeded our expectations on every level.  I had the privilege of praying with 3 6th grade girls to receive Christ this week.  what a blessing.  God is hard at work, which means that Satan is just as hard at work trying to throw us off course.

this weekend was the tip of the iceberg of what I believe God is about to do in our student ministry and in our church.  God has laid an incredible foundation, and we are following hard and fast after him and his plan.  Pastor Craig announced to the church today about where the Lord has been leading his heart, and that a plot of 4.5 acres at the corner of our property is going to be cleared off and we are going to build an incredible student building.  the most amazing part of it is that it's not about the building.  God has so clearly led and guided us to this place that it's about Him.  it's about the lives that he's going to change because this ministry will be able to grow, flourish, and reach students that we would never have reached otherwise.  it's about making an impact on this community, and drawing a line in the sand that we are about to cross.  God is so good.