Monday, November 16, 2009

turning the page

I love the smell of a new book... I've done a lot of reading lately, and the smell of a new book is one of my favorites. with that in mind, I also love a book that's been worn. its pages have been poured over and it's lost that smell, but there's a familiarity that comes with reading a book that's been read before... you know the story, but it comes alive in a different way each time you pick it up. you read something in a new light or see something you've missed before.

such is life it seems. I love the start of a new chapter... a new book. the new friends, excitement, and the thrill of it all. but oh, what I would give some days for a story that I've known before. I know how it's going to end and where it's headed. the thrill isn't there anymore, but it still brings laughter, tears, and exudes a familiarity.

I am absolutely loving this new chapter of being a seminary student and following God's call, but some days I wish I could go back. I'd like to say that I would change some things, but you can't change a story that's already been written. it is what it is. the suspense isn't there anymore, but the laughter and tears still feel fresh sometimes. there's a comfort in familiarity and in the new, but we can't dwell on that. if we do, there's so much that we miss out on.

there are days where I wish I could go back to starting college, to my first ministry team, to the comforts of home, but I can't. days, months, and years have passed. life has gone on. so much has changed. and so much has stayed the same.

all this to say, I'm so thankful for all that I have to reflect on. it's hard to start fresh where no one knows you... they don't know your story, your moments, your quirks, and the things that make you... well, you. but it's life. I love how Acts 17:28  says,

"For in Him we live and move and have our being."

in Christ, we are who we are. even though things may change, God never does. he is the constant. in Him, it doesn't matter where we are because He is with us. it's because of Him that I am where I am today.

I was flipping through my study Bible and found an excerpt from a book that I stuck in there several years ago. it spoke to me then, and did again this week...
"I remember the sweet sensation of leaving, years ago, some ten now, leaving Texas for who knows where. I could not have known about this beautiful place, the Oregon I have come to love... and I could not have known then that if I had been born here, I would have left here, gone someplace south to deal with horses, to get on some open land where you can see tomorrow's storm brewing over a high desert. I could not have known then that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it's God's way. All my life I've been changing... Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons."

-Donald Miller - Through Painted Deserts

that's where I find myself. had I not left, I wouldn't be who I am today... it's made me be so appreciative of the moments, the memories, the tears, and the laughter. some days I still curl up and read those days like an old book, but I'm loving the smell of these new pages.

I don't know what adventures lie ahead, what challenges I may face, what heartache I may experience, or what joys may befall me, but I'm reading furiously. I want each day to count, so I'm not looking back.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

God in the details

this girl is tired. the last few months have been a whirlwind, and I just haven't had (or taken) the time to sit down and blog. lots of changes, all good, have happened, and I'm so excited about this chapter. I said goodbye to my church family and friends in austin at the end of july and started seminary at new orleans baptist theological seminary in the middle of august. this is something I've been praying about for a long time, but God hadn't opened up a door yet until this fall. I'm so excited about what I'm learning and the fact that it's so relevant to where I feel God leading me. this is definitely not where I thought I would be right now, and I'm really missing my austin friends, but I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.

in addition to this move, I've stepped up to the plate to make some changes in my life personally. I'm on a healthy track to lose weight... finally! I feel like I've tried everything out there, but didn't stick with anything long enough to make a big difference. I'm tired of being overweight and not loving to shop for clothes. I'm tired of being tired and unhealthy, so I made a change. I've started taking Advocare nutritional supplements, and to put it mildly, it's changed my life. I have more energy than I've had in a really long time, and I'm starting to see results in pounds and inches lost. I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing on here so that my faithful blog readers (which at this point is probably just my mom!) can know how I'm doing and help hold me accountable. my big goal is to have lost 100 pounds by next august, and I'm going to do it. I'm determined and excited! I know it's doable and reachable, so here I go...

Advocare is also changing my life financially. I'm a distributor in the company also, so it means that if you're interested in losing weight, gaining energy, increasing athletic performance, or earning extra money, I can help you out and would LOVE the opportunity to tell you more about it. I promise you won't be disappointed and it's an opportunity to be a part of something life changing! check out my website for more info... and watch this video... it gives an awesome overview of advocare!

anyway, God was in the details with the timing of when he brought advocare into my life, as he knew I would soon be out of a job and a poor grad student. it's been awesome.

my family is crazy as ever, but they're doing great. rob is healing up from his fall earlier this summer and is back to walking and normal activity. wes is a senior (believe it or not!) at asbury college and will graduate in may of 2010. mom and dad are still loving little rock, and mom and rob have been visiting my nene (mom's mom) in newnan, georgia lots because she fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago. I was able to be there for a long weekend recently and spend some time with her, which was so special.

the most encouraging part of the last few months is how I've seen God's provision in the details. oh, how he cares about details... I love that. I feel like God is in the middle of picking up broken pieces in my life and restoring them one piece at a time. with this move and transition, every detail fell into place and was so God-ordained. God's provision and supply have been overwhelming, and there's not a doubt in my mind that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. a new song that I've fallen in love with is "unredeemed" by selah. I'll post a link to the video at the bottom of the post. the chorus from the song is my favorite part...
Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

God is our redeemer... and he doesn't leave pieces in our life to be unredeemed. what a mighty God we serve.
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.

Psalm 71:23





Thursday, June 04, 2009

loving it.

now that I'm done with college, and have a job I love, it seems like the question that people ask me has moved from "what are you going to do with your life?" to "who are you going to spend the rest of your life with?"

I usually just smile, laugh, and say, "I wish I knew!"
so, since it seems like everyone else is talking about it, so I guess I might as well just say it right here...
I'm loving this phase of my life and being single!
does that mean that I don't want to get married?
NO.
but it does mean that I'm enjoying every day that I have in this phase of my life... I have more time to spend with the awesome teenage girls that I love than I ever will at any other point. I have a more flexible schedule that allows me to travel, spend time with my family and friends, attend everyone else's wedding, and just do some things because it's what I want to do. I'm loving it!

I read several blogs, and one of those is Kelly's Korner... she writes about the adventures of being married and having a sweet baby girl, but she was single for a long time, and writes about that a lot too. she's giving away a few copies of a book I read last year that I absolutely loved... it's called Get Married by Candice Watters. it's not a how-to guide or anything like that, but it gives a great picture of how as single women, we can pray boldly for our future husbands. this is something that God has placed a huge burden on my heart for, and it's something that I'm praying boldly about. It talks about marrying well and asking for God's best. I loved it! if you want a chance to win the book, head over to Kelly's Korner and leave a comment on this post.

If you're a single girl, waiting on God's best for you, take hope and enjoy the time you have! the last thing I want to do is look back on this phase of my life wishing I would have done more, spent more time serving God, and not wished this phase of my life away. I really want to love every moment because I don't believe it's going to last forever.

know that just because you're not married yet doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you, or that you don't deserve a great guy. just keep offering yourself over to the Lord and asking him for his best, but at the same time, pursue Christ with everything inside of you. focus on being the best you can be, and pray that God would teach you now how to be a great wife - it's not too early to start preparing!

this is so where I find myself even today - working on myself, not worrying about my future. I know that I have a few things I need to get together, and that's all I can worry about - me. and it doesn't mean that as soon as I "get everything in my life together" that a guy is going to magically appear either... it just means that I need to pursue Christ wholeheartedly and daily make changes so that I become more like him, and I'll trust him with the rest.

I'm going to leave you with a few verses that have been an encouragement to me...

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Cor. 10:13

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

summer

let the craziness begin!!

If you could look at my calendar right now, you would understand what I'm talking about... I'm talking about 10 weeks of non-stop, jam packed, student ministry summer stuff that is going to keep me busier than I have been in awhile! most of it's student ministry related, but throw in a family reunion, packing my parents house to move, a couple of weddings, a trip to orlando, and you've got my summer in a nutshell.

it's a good thing I love my job or else this might be cause for panic.

I kind of enjoy the craziness... I feel like the crazier it is, the more I get done. make sense?

I'm a planner, so details are churning right now, and once camp hits, on june 7th, the rubber meets the road.

we're headed to destin, fl for high school camp and I am SO excited! this is the first time hyde park has taken students to the beach, and we're going to have a blast!! I'm a florida girl at heart, and I miss being an hour from the beach... I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of land. oh, wait.... I am.

I love texas, but I miss being near the beach. enough said. I don't want a bunch of people leaving mean comments because they think I hate texas because I don't!

anyway, I'll post pictures along, but for now, I must sleep. I leave you with recent pictures....

d-now with the fbcc crew
d-now with the fbcc crew

sarah beth's wedding in tampa - nene, sarah beth, me, and momsarah beth's wedding in tampa - nene, sarah beth, me, and mom

25th birthday surprises!"
25th birthday surprises!

"my new office... still a work in progress!"
my new office... still a work in progress!

trip to san antonio with kate!"
trip to san antonio with kate!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

beyond blessed

whew! it's only 2:32pm, but today has been an absolutely amazing day. I don't know if I've ever been showered with this much love and encouragement in one 24 hour period in all of my life! at the moment, my door is covered in streamers, my office is filled with balloons with encouraging notes written on them, I have a beautiful boquet of flowers, and I have enough brownies, cupcakes, and chocolate to last me a lifetime.

every hour on the hour today, one of our high school girls has come in my office and brought me a note and encouraged me.

I am beyond blessed.

this outpouring of love today, on my 25th birthday, has been incredible! I really do believe that God has great things in store for this year, and I believe it's going to be one of the best so far! I can't wait to see what 25 holds for me.

thank you for ALL of the twitters, facebook messages, wall posts, texts, phone calls, sweet gifts, visits, and everything else. I am overwhelmed, and so thankful for the family and friends that I have been surrounded with! if you're reading this, you're probably one of them.... so thank you!!

I'll post pictures of the craziness later tonight.

much love - mary margaret

Saturday, April 18, 2009

2 posts in one night? yep.

just because this made me laugh... I told you God's trying to teach me something! can you guess what it is?!
Wordle: waiting

redeemed

over the last few years, Isaiah has become one of my favorite books in the Bible. It's a book of prophecy and promise, and is one that we can find so much hope in. I went through Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" study several years ago, and this was really when I fell in love with this book.

at a girls conference today, the worship leader read Isaiah 43, and I love its words...
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

to me, this speaks so clearly of God's unchanging love for his people. this is written to the Israelites, and God is promising to deliver and restore them. it's like this chapter looks past their captivity to the idea of spiritual redemption. they had already been set apart as a people, and this chapter looks past their disobedience and reveals the love of God towards his chosen people.

I love the word redeemed, especially as it's used in this passage. we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and nothing can change or take that away.

two books that have become favorites of mine are Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and Redemption by Karen Kingsbury. both are Christian fiction books, but both have spoken such truth into my life about the concept of redemption. If you need a good book, pick one of these up... I promise you won't be able to put it down!

one of the dictionary definitions reads,

"to free from captivity by payment of ransom."


I have been bought with a price and I am a daughter of the King! it's what I claim, no matter the circumstance. the one who created me also summoned me... I have been summoned by name... even though a lot of people here on earth can't remember my name (apparently it's just too long!), my Savior summoned me by it... Mary Margaret Collingsworth.  On June 8, 2000 at Camp Orlando, he summoned me by name and I've never been the same since. he breathed new life into me and radically changed me. I am his! I am redeemed... I have been bought by the King.

If you want to know how you can have a relationship like this with the King of Kings, let me know... I would love to talk to you about it and tell you what my King has done for me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

while I'm waiting

"if God, like a father, denies us what we want now, it is in order to give us some far better thing later on. the will of God, we can rest assured, is invariably a better thing." -elisabeth elliot

so true. I read this quote a few weeks ago and I've been trying to let it sink in. there are so many areas of my life where I feel like God has denied me what I (in my own flesh) want now, because he has something far better in store in the future. It's the waiting part that really gets me. we live in such an instant gratification culture that it makes it hard to wait.

as I've prayed and read in my quiet times lately, I feel like the word "wait" keeps coming up. I'm being challenged to wait on God to answer my prayers and work everything out in his timing.

as my mom would say, "patience is a virtue." and it just happens to be one that I'm not great at. there are some easy things that I'm waiting on, some things I'm waiting on myself on (does that make sense?) and some things I'm waiting on answers from God. so, I'm just waiting... and waiting... and waiting.

psalm 5:3 reads:

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;

In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation"


I think the most important part of this verse is the last part where it says "in expectation."

last week while we took our HS students on a mission trip to new york city, we were able to visit the brooklyn tabernacle for their tuesday night prayer service. people line up hours before it begins and wait down the street and around the block to get inside because they are expecting God to do something. they are expecting him to show up and answer their prayers. they are a congregation of people who pray believing that God can and will answer their prayers.

how much more effective would our prayer lives be if we truly prayed in expectation?

so, even though I might be waiting, I'm waiting in expectation for God to do big things, answer my prayers however he sees fit, and to use me.

a song that I've been listening to the last couple of months really speaks to this...

john waller - "while I'm waiting"
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

sticks & stones

sunday night I got to do one of my favorite things... I went to a concert! I went with some of my favorite Austin friends to stubbs bbq to hear dave barnes play. and oh, it was good. really good :)

I've been a big dave barnes fan for awhile now, and I thought I had all of his albums... until I realized sunday that I didn't have his very first ep. he is one of the best live acts I've seen in awhile... if you haven't seen any of his youtube videos, you have GOT to check them out. he's hysterical, and that's putting it mildly. anyway, I loved every minute of the show... stubbs is an incredible venue... it was standing room only, and we got there early, so there were just a few people between us and the stage. love it!

dave shared his heart about africa and the mocha club, and sang some of my favorite songs. the best part of the night though, was his last song. he said he was going to get off the stage and come sing in the middle of the audience, which happened to be literally right in front of me.  if you don't believe me, check out this picture:



dave barnes' head
dave barnes' head
see what I mean?

anyway, he sang a song that I've heard maybe once or twice, but it's off of his first ep, and the track title is "sticks and stones." I downloaded the song when I got home and haven't been able to get it out of my head since then. the words are so simple, but so true.

there have been so many times where sharp words from someone have been incredibly hurtful.  it does leave a scar.... one that's much more painful than any physical pain I've had to endure. it really does feel like "they beat the life from me." it's not easy to walk through, and definitely not easy to forgive, but I've forgiven those who've spoken words that have hurt, and I have to say it's much easier than not forgiving.

in light of that, I try to make my words the kind that are encouraging and uplifting, rather than ones that leave a scar. I know I'm not always successful at doing this, but it's something I really try to do because I know how much it hurts on the receiving end.



"Pleasant words are a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Proverbs 16:24


all that to say, here are the lyrics of dave barnes' song "sticks & stones." if you're not a fan, you will be after you take a listen.



You would have kept those words on your tongue,
If you had known the hurt they had done.
While your fists stay there, right by your side,
Your words they bruise me deep inside.

I'd rather have sticks and stones and broken bones
than the words you say to me.
'Cause I know bruises heal and cuts will seal,
but your words beat the life from me.

Sometimes your words are thick as lead,
You swing them strong upside my head.
But what hasn't killed has made me strong,
So I'll take my scars and move along.

I'd rather have sticks and stones and broken bones
than the words you say to me.
'Cause I know bruises heal and cuts will seal,
but your words beat the life from me.

Goodbye is the best way that I know,
To forgive and still be letting go.

I'd rather have sticks and stones and broken bones
than the words you say to me.
'Cause I know that bruises heal and cuts will seal,
but your words beat the life from me.






this isn't my video, but it's of dave (on the right) and matt wertz (on the left - who I also love) singing the song.

Monday, February 02, 2009

loving God

as believers, we are called to love God.

this means in everything, not just some things.

surrender was a topic we sat on for awhile tonight in the high school girls small group that I lead.  I've been meeting with this group for several months now every monday night.  we sit around my apartment, eat cookies and talk about what God is doing. we're going through the book "lady in waiting" by jackie kendall, and it's a fantastic book. I really think they're digging in and starting to get it. tonight's chapter was titled "lady of security." we talked about how we all long to feel secure, and about the things that make us feel insecure.  that's when the room got quiet.

we don't want to admit our insecurities because then we feel even more insecure (duh).

it's easy to see the insecurities of others around us, but we don't want people we know to know where we are weak. it really was a tough chapter this week, but we finally got down to the heart of it. although we may not like sharing our insecurities, they are what they are.  if we're ever going to allow ourselves to love God the way we were born to, we have to begin to surrender those insecurities to Him. because at the root of it, they are things that are holding us back from knowing Him more. if we're insecure about something, it means that we don't trust God with it, and we're trying to handle it on our own.

my desire for our girls ministry is that each girl finds their security, value, worth, and identity in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone.

if our identity and security is not in Jesus Christ, it's in things of this world. I don't know about you, but I don't want the world defining who I am. I was reading USA Today a couple of days ago and saw that more people were searching for information on Jessica Simpson than any other woman in the world, because she gained a few pounds. people are scrutinizing pictures of her and making all kinds of crazy remarks, when I'm sure she's still a size that many girls would kill to be. she's still smaller than what people call "average" but yet she's been made fun of in a way that is completely uncalled for. (I'm not a Jessica Simpson fan, but just noticed this trend last week)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" -Hebrews 13:8


what truth. the world changes its mind every day on what is popular, cool, or taboo.  Jesus Christ never changes.  His character was, is, and will always be the same... because He is God. our security must be found in the one who never changes like fashion trends and fads. once we know what His word says about us, and we claim it for ourselves, we are able to approach our insecurities with confidence.

all of this requires a great deal of surrender. it's not easy to give situations, things, people, feelings, emotions, problems, or anything else over to God, but once we do, we live in freedom. He is ready to take on our insecurities and fight our battles. we just have to surrender and trust.

I wish I could say that I have this all figured out, but I'm on my way... what a journey! I'm so thankful that God has placed this small group of girls in my life.... I feel like I'm learning so much from them. I hope we can all learn better how to love, serve, and honor God.

here's a passage that really spoke to me on this subject....
Isaiah 43:1-7

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth-

7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009!

happy 2009!!  I'm looking forward to all that this year has in store... I think it's going to be pretty incredible!  I hope that no matter what kind of year 2008 was or 2009 will be that you will draw close to the Lord and seek His face, whatever trials or joys you may encounter.

if you're as bored as I am, here you go...

Where did you begin 2008?
In Washington D.C. with Leeanne and Julie... it was fantastic!!

What was your status by Valentine's Day?
status??  weird question... I was working at fbcc and living with my parents (oh yeah... gotta love it...)

Were you in school (anytime this year)?
nope!

Did you have to go to the hospital?
just to visit people
Did you have any encounters with the police?
just one... I got pulled over for speeding, but only got a warning!  I thought the speed limit was 70, I was going 72, and it was actually 65... total accident!

Where did you go on vacation?
orlando, nyc, little rock, and europe!!

What did you purchase that was over $500?
ugh... a mattress, flatscreen tv, furniture... this was the year of the apartment.  oh, and two weeks in europe ;)

Did you know anybody who got married?
I'm 24.  Do I really need to answer this one?  I think I'm the only one not getting married at this point...

Did you know anybody who passed away?
yep

Did you move anywhere?
Austin, Texas... and I LOVE it!!

What sporting events did you attend?
nothing worth noting

What concerts/shows did you go to?
this year?  matt papa, american idol, phil wickham, steve fee, building 429... and a few others... I'm going blank

Where do you live now?
Austin

What's the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2008?
tough question... pay $4 for gas.

What has/have been your favorite moment(s)?
trips to see friends and family, moving and making some new friends!

What's something you learned about yourself?
living alone isn't the worst thing in the world

Any new additions to your family?
not this year

What was your best month?
this really was a great year... hard to choose a favorite!

What music will you remember 2008 by?
best days - graham colton

lovebug - jonas brothers

you are the best thing - ray lamontagne

while I'm waiting - john waller

by your side - tenth avenue north

ruin me - jeff johnson

Any regrets?
nope... it's all a part of the journey

What do you want to change in 2009?
get healthy, deepen my walk with the Lord

Overall, how would you rate(or award) this year?
better than the two before :)

What would you change about 2008?
nothing!

Other than home, where did you spend most of your time?
student ministry

Change your hairstyle?
yep!  long, short, long, dark brown... it's been a fun year!

Get a new job?
I sure did... it's incredible and I love it!

Do you have a New Year's resolution?
I do...

Did anything embarrassing?
I'm sure I did... those kinds of things happen to me all the time

What was/were your favorite purchase[s]?
my mattress and my iphone

Get married or divorced?
nope

Be honest - did you watch American Idol?
every episode.  and I went to the concert.  I don't care what you think!!

Did you get sick this year?
just sinus infections

Start a new hobby?
cooking!

Been snowboarding?
nope

Are you happy to see 2008 go?
it was a good year... but today's just another day and I'm excited for the future!

Drank Starbucks in 2008?
you know it

What are you wishing for in 2009?

I feel like I already answered this one...