Friday, December 21, 2012

He Sings


I’m telling you, God is so kind. I just feel like I’m sitting on His lap right now and He’s singing to me like a Father singing His child to sleep. He sings right into my ear. Right into my scattered, fragile, don’t know what I want half the time kind of life.

I sit.
He holds.
I sit.
He sings.
I sit.
He embraces all the parts of me I never want shown.
And then He calls those things beautiful.
I sit.
He sits.

Even when I fail to notice His presence.
Even when I go all day without even saying His name.
Even when I am pounding fists at my steering wheel because my car won’t start or I’m at a standstill on I-65 or because I want to be anywhere but where I am at 

This 
Very 
Moment.

It is in these moments I fail to remember where I am. And where He is. I tune Him out. But He just keeps singing. His voice is like water. Falling onto a bed of rocks that are as hard as… well, rocks. Like a majestic waterfall, His voice draws all kinds of attention… except mine. My heart sits like a rock at the bottom of the waterfall, His waterfall.

Yet He still sings.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Car for a Day.


The waitress just called my feet feminine. I’ll drink to that.

So today I got a chance to drive away from camp for a while which is always a treat. I have some very kind friends and coworkers that loan me their cars without hesitation when they know I’m feeling ancy and need some space. I must say, I have been tremendously blessed by their giving spirit this season.

And let me tell you, I forget how much I miss driving. I look forward to these next two months where driving will be more accessible to me as I plant one foot in the rolling hills of Tennessee, the other in Home Sweet Home, Alabama.

Something about the hum of the wheels beneath me as I glide along the terrain is beyond satisfying to me. As I wind around these Redwood trees, following the Yellow Brick Road to Hippy-ville… I mean, downtown Occidental… I feel connected to the earth in such a tangible way, deeply rooted and intertwined into her existence, memorizing her movement with every twist and unexpected bend in the pavement. I feel myself sinking deep into her lap with every mile, every left turn, right turn, stop, and yield. It’s like I belong in that very place. Resting on the knees of our inconceivable planet.

And then there’s always those night drives when I am alone in the car and yet for some reason or another, I never truly feel alone. In fact, on these night drives, sometimes I feel more alive than ever and more connected to the world around me than if I were standing in the mid-day glorious sweat of Bonarroo.

I’m just going to go ahead and claim it: Jesus is there with me on these drives. His presence is incredibly, exceptionally thick. Just imagining it, I am suddenly wrapped in the heat of summer, standing barefoot on the noise-creaking, splinter-giving dock with Lake Tuscaloosa at my toes. Humidity at its finest. That’s what His presence feels like to me. So thick, you feel twenty pounds heavier almost immediately.

During those night drives, I hear the voice of God so clearly, it’s incredible. As I pray aloud, I literally feel God swarm around me. Tears fall effortlessly as I thank Him for the blessings He has lavished on my life as of late.

I mean, my goodness, I’m about to be an aunt! Life is overwhelmingly beautiful to me sometimes. Every once in a while, I actually do pause and take in its raw, indestructible beauty. Every once in a while, I become truly aware of God’s goodness that He pours out on me at each waking moment whether I recognize it or not. And every once in a while, I thank Him.

So. 

How about we call this a “once in a while” kind of moment as we pause and remind ourselves that God is good. God is SO good. I wish I could take this time to write out every single blessing I have received from Him during this season of adventure in the Redwoods (which will continue in January) but I do not have the appropriate time or space to even contemplate such a task.

But since this is one of those once in a while opportunities, I shall share just a few…

     An Abbreviated Thank You List-
For trees that grow so tall I cannot see their peak.
For mornings off where I have nothing better to do than practice Blue Moon on the
   ukulele.
For socks so dirty after just one day of playing outside.
For the most majestic of bike rides to the Russian River AKA my Sanity Sustainer this fall.
For bright blue nail polish on my fingers and toes that I never seem to get tired of.
For Psalms.
For Madrone trees.
For skype.
For gardens.
For chacos.
For morning yoga.
For waking up but not getting out of bed for another hour thanks to some good ole
  morning day dreams… always the best kind.
For adventurous, child-like runs through the forest.
For the mere fact that sending kids off ziplines and swings is part of my current job description.
And then for the sweet blessing of watching them smile as wide as the heavens when they touch ground.
For spontaneous prayers with roommates.
For my boyfriend becoming my best friend.
For the incredible God-given grace that feeds my heart, my mind, and my soul daily 
   whether I notice it or not.

Ok now it's your turn.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

He said No.


So. In case you haven’t heard… I work with 5th & 6th graders in the Redwood forest at an outdoor education center and it’s kind of the best. I do lots of facilitating, leading, guiding, and teaching. But little did I realize how much they would do the teaching and I would do the learning. These kids are teaching me how to be kind, patient, and bold.

Take Eric for example, A.K.A. the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen. A little bit of pudge. A little more bit cross-eyed. And the sweetest, most innocent smile in the whole wide world. Oh, and the most beautiful brown skin straight out of Mexico.

Adorable.

I loved that kid… wish he was still around. But here’s the thing, Eric was terrified of anything more than 10 feet up in the air. He refused to climb the trees or do any of the ziplines or swings. And I mean, RE-FUSED. I was lucky if the boy even put a harness on.

So there I was, up in the tree sending kid after kid off all kinds of exciting “rides” as they like to call it, my ears practically bleeding from all the spontaneous screams and uncontrollable laughter as each wild eyed participant took their first step or “scoot” off the wooden platform.

Then almost out of habit, I would find my eyes back on Eric, his eyes larger than ever, just gleaming at each participant with such an innocent, child-like hope and determination. I just knew he wanted to fly and wave from the sky like all the other kids. Or did he? Didn’t every kid want that? 

You know, there were actually a few times where Eric would come close to maybe, possibly, potentially, in an hour’s time… attempt to climb, zip or swing from the trees. And each time I would get so excited. In fact, on his last full day of camp, I was certain it was going to happen.

WHAT?!! Eric has a harness on!
He’s moving toward the stairs!
Heart pounding.
Feet grounded.
Carabineer ready.
Eyes locked on his.

After only one step up, Eric casually yet intently looked back at his even more terrified friend, Christian, the only other kid who had not yet attempted the the zipline. Desperate for an Ok, a nod, maybe just maybe, some sort of approval from his loyal comrade. But Nothing. Just the same familiar fear staring back.

Still Eric moves forward, terrified and full of doubt.

Man.

We tried everything. Eric’s father-like figure chaperone, David, stepped in and together we were ready to Conquer. We had Eric close his eyes and dream about his puppy. I explained our equipment set up and our inspection process… told him those carabineers can hold the weight of a baby elephant. We even had him repeat after us,

I know I can do this. (I know I can… do…this.)
This is not scary. (This… is not… scary.)
It’s going to be super fun. (It’s going to be super…. fun.)

Then tears. Lots of tears. We’re talking major waterfall.

Quick sidenote: I’m beginning to become pretty comfortable with kids crying next to me up in the trees these days. Shoot, I almost expect it. And then there’s the uncontrollable shaking. And the petrified, toddler-like screaming. Oh and let’s not forget, the mere shock on the kids’ faces as they look down for the first time and practically swallow the entirety of the height at which they are going to fall from. Although I never use the F word with kids… at least not that F word.

"Not fall, Rebecca.
FLY. You are going to FLY."

Anyway, back to Eric. Here we are, desperately trying every possible technique in the whole wide world of Challenge Course Counseling. At one point, we even picked him up on both sides of his harness so he could feel the support of the cable.

But after about 10-15 minutes of doing everything but pushing this kid off the dang platform, he looks us both in the eye and says without a stutter,

I can’t do it.

Hands officially and forever out of the handholds.
Head shaking profusely.

And without another word, we both know there’s no way he’s letting down this time. Eric’s done.

After catching his breath and wiping the remainder of his tears on his sleeve, he and Christian walk down to the field and wait in silence for David to walk them back to their cabin. All the other kids had left at this point. Free time had begun and they were tired of waiting on Eric to make a decision.

“Well, we tried. That’s too bad. These kids sure are missing out,” Military Man David says to me in a rather depressing tone. Then he turns around to go back down the stairs, ready to give the boys a Growing Up Talk on their walk back to camp.

But you know, as I think back to that day at the zipline, I begin to realize something: Maybe Eric has more courage than any of us. Maybe he is the bravest one of all.

Eric said No.

A ten year old. A mere ten year old. Still afraid of girls. Still learning how to hike without tripping over every possible root in the forest.

He said No.

How often I say Yes because people expect me to. How often I...
Do this. 
Do that. 
Go here. 
Go there.

All because I’m supposed to or because everyone else is doing it. Or because I don’t even know there’s another option. How often I stand at the edge of the platform internally terrified and more than overwhelmed, trying to calm myself down but failing miserably as my breathing soon evolves into disappointing attempts at inhalation, forgetting for the life of me how to exhale.

Harness: Check
Helmet: Check.
Clipped in.
Handholds On.
Step. Forward.
And…
Gone.

If only I knew I had a choice. 
The choice to say No.
To step back.
Get unclipped.
And walk away. 

There’s always a choice.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Invitation


So I am learning that I really enjoy being 24. While it is somewhat disturbing to move further and further into adulthood and watch the years of my youth slowly fall through my fingers like sand, I am, in very tangible ways, rediscovering myself. For the first time in a long time, I am folding inside out and becoming comfortable in admitting my own weakness, hesitations and doubts.

And in this process, I am seeing and tasting and discovering more beauty than I ever knew existed.

So here I stand at the beach of self-discovery. I visit this place often in my internal explorations, as it quickly becomes my necessary escape. It is here that I linger in reflection and collect memories like shells in the sand. It is here that I speak kindly to myself in a calm and motherly tone.

Today I play in the sand like always as I painfully allow each tiny speck to drift from my hands back to the ground until suddenly it seems, my childhood and college years become a closed chapter. The story must go on.

But with the sand forever set free, I sense something new in my hands, something invisible but heavy. I experience the weight of it in my palms all the way down to my feet. I feel it dance within each strand of my hair. I feel it nudge at my limbs and tickle my eyelashes... 

Wind.

I welcome the wind in all of her playfulness. Boldly, brilliantly, she sings a majestic sound, like music I have never noticed on this beach of golden sand. With time, the wind becomes stronger in her movement, more intricate in her choreography, until she completely and deliberately turns me around. At once, my eyes are in shock at what they see.

A body of blue perfection.

The ocean in its raw and fiery blue, is the most calming yet inviting piece of creation I have ever seen. And like a magnetic pull, it draws me in and never wants to let me go.

In this great big ocean of blue, moments combine into days and days into weeks and weeks into years and over time, I discover, this is what it means to grow up... 

To weave in to the waves of the majestic. 

Yes, the years of playing in the sand are most beautiful, I must assure you. But may I invite you to swim in the sea? May I request your arrival at this ocean of glory? Come discover yourself in the waves of desire and swim toward her horizon. And as you swim, I dare you,

Invite your Creator to pull back layers of your heart. 

Layer after layer… in all of your past, in all of your confusion, in all of your doubt, He peels. In all of your very fragile and human moments, the moments you thought impossible to forgive, He peels. So for once, let each year of your life serve as just one more layer being peeled back as you are given a deeper awareness of yourself with all of your kinks and quirks, cravings and aspirations.

The ocean is behind you. Let the wind carry you home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tears of Gold.

So I got my first taste of homesickness yesterday. It stung a little and still stings now if I’m telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Wow…just had a sudden flashback to the magical slumber party game every girl dreams of known as… wait for it… the legendary, the timeless…

Truth or Dare.

I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. We would all be in our pajamas by this time of the night. And we had (of course) already completed the other tasks on our To Do List of Sixth-Grade Fun including a 3hour-long series of MASH, make-overs, dance performances, scary movies, raiding the fridge… and NOW. It was everyone’s favorite.

Pillow in lap. Here we go.

And before you could say Backstreet’s Back, everyone was sitting in a perfectly flawless circle, Indian style and all, silently comparing PJ’s. And I swear you could actually hear hearts beating heavily around the room like rocks gloriously tumbling down the Carolina mountainside. And the longer the silence lasted between players, the louder these hearts of rock would become until suddenly, the moment when you equally love and hate your name…

Mary Margaret. 
Truth or Dare!?

At once, as if all N’sync (ha, see what I did there?), a chorus of giggles and glares would leap across the circle as each girl internally analyzed you to death, looking you up and down trying to figure out what your puberty-stricken self is made of. In retrospect, it is a bit creepy how each individual tween's eyes would gleam like diamonds as she would silently predict your answer better than a weatherman predicts the day's mood.

And as fun as it was to be the brave soul that took on the Dare every round and be forced to rush to the garage and shove a bowl of Dog food down your throat against your own Limited Too will, you do know that, most times that was the easier route. I mean, seriously, what middle school girl really wants to open all doors to any question which she is required by Slumber Party Law to uphold to in all honesty? Um… sorry, but No Thanks.

Ok so we’re on the same page? Truth is the new Dare. Just go with me for a minute…

So back to yesterday…you know those moments when you crave nothing more than familiarity? This was one of those days. Shoot, you could have thrown me in a ditch in Nashville or Tuscaloosa (take your pick) and I would have been one happy little camper. Either place would have sufficed. Just give me a voice I recognize, a face that knows my past so I don’t have to explain myself anymore. Just give me that Alabama ground, a tree at Centennial. Anything.

It’s quite hilarious, though, how upset I get at myself when those feelings come. I find myself saying things like, Just tough it up Mary Margaret. Come on. You’re a big girl now. And then low and behold, the real battle exists between a clean cheek and a wet one. And let me tell you, if those tears come, all hell breaks loose.

I get so mad at myself.

Each tear becomes one more avalanche reminding me I failed. I failed at being grown-up. I failed at putting on the happy face that people so easily associate with me… or at least that’s my desire. Tears mean soft, weak, pitiful. And this is not the time. At least save them until you are by yourself, I tell myself. Save it for a decent writing session, a lonely night before bed.

I was in Rite Aid when it happened. The battle had begun. Two of my new coworkers/friends scurried around the store to cross off their lifelong list of items… or so it seemed because it had literally been years since I purchased my one necessary item for the day: a watch. I was putting it off as long as possible. I hate wearing those heavy, ugly things on my wrist. And more than that, most days I hate knowing what time it is. It makes me feel like I live in a box… but I guess that’s part of being grown-up too.

So I was sitting in a cheap, raggedy looking chair in the front of the store that I’m pretty sure was for sale since it was in the middle of Nowhere-ville, Rite Aid. Yes, I was feeling a bit on the lazy side but I was certainly ok with that. I know I probably looked a bit silly and out of place sitting there but I somehow felt entitled to such temporary and unusual comfort, I guess because, “I’m not from around these parts.”

I’m using that line as long as possible.

And then it hit me: I’m not having fun. I feel stuck in this town, in this store, with no car and no desire to be the slightest bit social. And I just bought a watch. Really?! A watch.

Ok so mission accomplished. I didn’t cry. My new friends who are coming to know me for my quirky humor and Alabama twang never even knew I was hurting inside. But should that have been my goal?

It’s such a natural instinct for me to not let myself “go there” too many times than not. As soon as I get the shaky voice and the stuffy nose, I just want to crawl into a hole and die. Ok that’s a little dramatic but I think it’s safe to say I quickly turn into somewhat of a drill sergeant inside demanding this way, then that. This feeling, not that.

And you know one thing I am beginning to realize? While I spend all my time and efforts to withhold being vulnerable with people (A.K.A. when my heart turns plastic like a McDonald’s hamburger), I hurt those I am closest to because I don’t let them in. I don’t let them in to that sacred space where God actually dreams of me living. Because it is there that He gets to be God and we get to be human. He gets to be Father and we get to be child. He gets to be Creator and we get to be creation.

Simpler version? We become what we were made for: Weak.

I know, it’s a bit unsettling. I still struggle with the concept myself but God is opening my eyes to a new day, a new reality, where I actually can begin to trust in His goodness. He is inviting me to a new place on the map, an island of liberty perhaps, where He can actually hold my frail and fragile heart and let me be me.

Messy messy me. Tears and all. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Getting to know You.


So I have officially been in the Redwoods for an entire week. I am meeting some beautiful people and learning more and more about myself. Sometimes it takes some distance from familiarity to learn such things. And what’s really exciting is the fact that God is giving me some much-needed rest that I was praying for (a lot) toward the end of the summer.

I spent my summer working at a Christian multi-cultural camp in Kentucky called Barefoot Republic and let me just tell you, it was such a sweet blessing for me. I am still processing all that God did there and all that He is continuing to do in my heart because of my time at camp.

Some of the most memorable experiences come from my time as counselor, once for high school aged girls and once for middle school. It’s crazy how much I saw Jesus in those girls. Like you think you know Jesus after growing up in the church and reading so many stories about Him in Scripture but what is so beautiful and alarming to me is this:

We are always getting to know Jesus.

It never stops. We meet someone, we hear a story, and BOOM. Jesus becomes real in that moment and you pause and you ask yourself,

Wait.. This can’t be Jesus. In this conversation? Really?!

Yes. Really.

His presence is always with us and just when we think we fully know Him, He surprises us with another layer to His goodness, another shade of His color scheme.

I think that’s what I love most about meeting new people. I get to meet Jesus again and again and again. Because this is real: Jesus loves His people. He loves smiling on His creation and He loves when we live out what we are made for: 

Relationship with each other. 

And there we meet Jesus. 
Have you met Jesus today?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Day's Climb.

So here I am after too long of an absence. Not just from this blog but from my own creative outlet, my sacred space. The kind of space created when I actually pause and listen to myself. I listen to my desires, my fears, my dreams, my ideas (the ones that make sense and the ones that I hope to make sense out of some day).

And in this space I become a student again…
A student of myself.

And suddenly, the oh-so-missed college days return. Flashbacks to my ocean blue quirky little Wal-Mart bike (yes, it was stolen and yes, I am crying… almost) that could take me a mile a minute in any direction of campus flood my memory. And of course my favorite New College seminars like Songcraft and Creativity I and II with the infamous and dream shaping Dr. Dill. And who can forget those beautiful spring afternoons on the Quad in between classes with nothing to do but lie in a blanket of Alabama’s greenest grass and melt into the heat of the day, letting the mind run loose into the trees.

Oh, the joys of calling oneself a college student.

So not entirely different, here I sit at the classroom of my own thoughts, a student yet again. Here in this sacred space I collect, I analyze, I learn and relearn how to be human. It’s funny how we tend to forget such a thing. The art of being human, I am learning, is to listen well. To listen with my eyes, my ears, my feet, my hands. And here I feel more alive than ever.

And once again, I listen to myself as I allow my thoughts to climb high into the trees as they did on the Quad years ago. With time and years, I am learning how to watch my thoughts, how to step back cautiously yet attentively and gaze at their growing curiosity in the world around them, at their beautiful fascination with the trees. Like a child at the playground for the very first time, they climb in anticipation and wonder, alive and full.

Too easily in a culture like ours, we stand motionless underneath the trees, letting our eyes casually drift and wander from the climber we are responsible for, the climber we are belaying until suddenly, tragically, the climber falls as we have released all of the necessary tension in the rope. And just like the climber loses height, our thoughts lose what they are made for as we let them fall into ground-level normalcy. And if we’re not careful, our once creative and imagination thirsty thoughts forget how to climb trees.

I hope and pray that I can better learn to care for myself in this new season. So I step back, I look up and watch my thoughts climb. Branch by branch, they grow into the skies of my Creator.

And there He waits, watching my thoughts from above as I watch below. And He smiles down at His messy, broken child underneath the trees.


imgres.jpg

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alberta Soul

So I just got back the journal I share with my sweet friend Lydia! We swap this journal around and I am proud to say it is almost 3 years old! Wow, just realized that. When we started it, I was living in Colorado Springs for my final semester of school and she was in Tuscaloosa. Then she was in Ireland and I was in Nashville. Now she's literally all over the place... about to be in North Carolina, and I'm in Kentucky about to be in California.

Crazy times.

This journal has been through a lot with us. She has turned in to a friend of sorts as she has watched us grow up a bit, change a lot, and maybe even become young adults...? Eh, that's a stretch.

So here's an entry I wrote on August 3rd (almost a year ago!) at 12:12 AM. It's about the aftermath of the tornado(s) that hit Alabama. I thought I would share since I don't think I wrote about the effects of the tornado when it actually happened. I think it just felt too close to home, honestly, and I didn't know where to start. But now that time has passed I feel good about sharing.

Ok here goes... (Thanks for listening with your eyes.)

... Girl I totally connect to your confusion and pain and frustration during the post-tornado chaos in T-town. Even being in Nashville was hard. I can't imagine the weight you felt in your heart being so far away. Your prayers have not gone unheard. I can assure of that, my friend.

One trap that I have tried to avoid with every ounce of energy I own is distancing myself from the reality of Tuscaloosa now. It's a different world there now. And it's so easy to just fall back in to my seemingly perfect little Nashville routine and forget about the destruction, the lost lives, the injured souls... to just put that all away like a used-to-be Best Seller now collecting dust in the corner of an old book shelf. Thankfully, I live close enough to travel back fairly often and check up on things... hear names, hear stories.

I have been back three times since the tornado hit, one of them being last weekend with a group of students from the high school I work at. These kids worked for three days in the blistering heat of Alberta City without complaint... well, maybe just a little, but anyone could read their eyes and see that they were committed- committed to acting, to listening, to responding. I was truly inspired by their persistent leadership, unique and creative ideas, and passion for shedding some light into the dark struggles our Alberta neighbors have experienced.

I watched a student who I thought I had all figured out as insincere and insensitive break down in tears as she shared with the group of nearly 20 of her closest peers and adults about a lady she had met in Alberta that day. Let me try and paint the picture...

"OH THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!" exclaimed the elderly woman, looking at this group of young students as her rescue from the sinking Titanic. Her skin seemed as rough as a reptile; her eyelids getting heavier by the second.

All of the sudden, she leaped up from the brick steps that used to lead to her house of nearly 45 years, and ran as fast as she possibly could to hug the neck of whoever she got to first. The group of teenagers seemed exhausted, yet eager, afraid, yet oddly comfortable.

The old woman with her hunch-back grace and short stature hugged Lanise so tight you would'a thought the two were long-life pals. From this moment on, the woman and the girl were inseparable as shared stories and tears and praise fell so free, like the autumn leaves that used to dance across the sky of Alberta. But now the streets lay bare, exposed, more vulnerable than they ever thought possible.

"This was my house..." said the woman pointing to the pile of rubble beyond the steps she had just abandoned. Suddenly, each word became sacred as they flowed effortlessly into the thick Alabama air. The woman's voice would break at parts as the memories unfolded and Lanise held her tight, carrying her through with all the strength her 17-year old self could allow, hoping it would somehow transfer into the heart of this kind soul. Lanise knew how much this meant to the woman to share her story, and in an odd way, Lanise felt as though she was stepping into this woman's experience with her, like she had been there all along.

"Over there is where we found my mother," the woman explained as she pointed to what used to be the last house in their little culdesac in the heart of Alberta. The woman paused for a long while, her silence screaming.

"You see, Lanise, in front of that house there was a tall, beautiful tree, a tree I grew up playing on as a little girl.... my mother's body was found in its branches... all tangled up in the middle. She didn't make it."

Lanise's heart dropped. She hugged her new friend, not knowing what else to do or say in that moment, as they stood motionless in front of that tree for what seemed like hours.

Meanwhile, the guys in the group were helping the woman's husband search for his belongings in the pile of rubble. A pair of glasses, and old American flag, his Purple Heart medal from Vietnam. Since the couple was understandably preoccupied with a death in the family, they had not gotten the chance to sort through their things after the tornado in attempt to find their most precious keepsakes like wedding pictures and war medals. So here they were the first day on the job and along came these strangers from Nashville to help, to listen, to care. Perhaps they were angels undercover, blessing the troubled couple with fresh ears to receive and hands to give. Perhaps...

As the van pulled away and Lanise led the group in extended goodbyes out the window and into the streets, their voices echoing behiind them, they noticed the former Vietnam soldier do something so peculiar, they were astonished. The man pulled his lawnmower off the back of his truck and attempted to mow his used-to-be lawn. Like it was any old normal summer day, they watched the man fight for routine and regularity in his daily life like he was on the battlefield fighting for independence and freedom. He fought with the same intensity, the same passion.

And in that moment Lanise knew life must go on.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cookin in the Kitchen

So one part of camp that has been a MAJOR blessing has been teaching songwriting class.... I wish you could hear the tune of this but here are some funny lyrics from my 3rd-5th graders.
(Prepare to get hungry.)

Cookin in the kitchen
Makin fried chicken
Eatin up some french fries (ohh..)
Eatin em how I like em
Dippin them in ketchup 
Finishin up my plate
I hope I'm not late
Alright Alright Alright Alright Alright.....

French fries chicken nuggets
And tater tots
Ravioli and steak
Is what we got
Peanut butter and Jelly 
is what we want
We're done with our dinner plate
Yeah....

(Remix) 
Peanutbutter French fries
I love macaroni
Eatin up potatoes so I can eat my ravioli  (2x)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

And the Children will Sing

Oh, how I have missed this. An empty blog post, a page in my journal. This is my blank canvas. It is here that I can...

Pause.
Breathe.
Linger (without feeling guilty about it).

It is here that I can stretch out my thoughts, stringing them together to form story and context as I reconcile the emotional turmoil that is too easily paralyzed and distorted and trapped within me. And slowly my sanity is restored, shakily creeping back into existence after too long of (Un) Paid Time Off.

So Yes. I am realizing how much I need this.

Lately I have had so many split millisecond crumbs of thought pop in to my very scattered, overwhelmed, and over-occupied brain but haven't had the time to release them just yet on to a canvas of any sort.

Thus far, these intellectual beings have rested undisturbed in my To-Do List/Scratch Paper Journal (Yep... got a journal for everything). At times this journal serves as a safe place, letting my inspirations burn by the fire and cook a while so that they taste better, smell better, and of course, look more appealing in hopes to unite friends to laugh and cry and feel their heart beat again, or maybe even for the first time as they are constantly surrounded by noise, distraction, and societal and materialistic demands. Believe it or not, this journal keeps my mind somewhat settled until I find the necessary time to release, process and stretch

Emotionally.

Psychologically.

Spiritually.

So I took a class with my church recently on how to view creativity as a Christian. We talked a lot about just sitting in our desired art form and literally losing track of time because we are so locked in to our own world of color, sound or movement. And we become so consumed that we are like a child happier than we've ever been. Suddenly, things become simpler, calmer, and let's be honest, just more fun.

We also talked about Genesis 1 when God created the world. In everything He created He said,

And it was Good. 

So. Question: What would it mean for us to live in that kind of freedom with our creativity, where we don't need people to proclaim that it is good? That we call it good simply because we enjoy it. We enjoy the process, the stillness, the joy flowing from our souls as we unleash art through our fingertips, our mouths, our limbs, our feet.

As many of you may know, I am at camp for the summer which means I am around people literally all day for hours and hours and hours. (ha)

BUT.

I love it. Don't get me wrong. I love being here and love the staff and campers. But even the outrageous extrovert in me needs alone time.

Yes, MUST have some Mary Margaret time. And hey, it's actually happening today! (If I had my own talk show, I would hold up my APPLAUSE sign now.)

So my creative outlet? Well one of my favorites, at least, is this.

Writing. 

The more I write, the more I fall in love with words and their graceful, unpredictable and rhythmic movement across my blank canvas.

So my challenge to you?

Find your creative outlet and use it.

Seriously.

You need it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Library Day.

Here I am in the library once again. It's official: I have found my favorite spot. By the large windows that overlook the "Green Hillsy", fancy old person park. Lots of green and sun to look at. Oh yeah, and it can't hurt that this is where the comfy seats live.

I always require two chairs, no exception- one for me, one for my legs to stretch out on. Yes, I like to think I own this place with my dramatic expectations for comfort. You would at least think I lived here with the extent of freedom I take on in merely setting up my space.

My bright yellow backpack settles in the little nook created between my two chairs while my journal, water bottle, loose papers, and phone find a home beside me in Chair #1, but not touching me in any way or else I feel crowded.

The first full minute I settle into my space, there's lots of zipping sounds thanks to my backpack and the embarrassing state of my short-term memory...

Oh wait, I need a pen. (unzip) (zip)

2 seconds later...

Oh wait, I need my planner in case I need to schedule a meeting or think of something fun coming up. (unzip) (zip)

3 seconds later...

Oh wait, I need to put my sunglasses in my backpack before I lose them. (unzip) (zip)

4 seconds later...

Oh wait, of course. It's a blue-ink day, not black-ink. Need a new pen. (unzip) (zip)

You can imagine how annoying I am in a library. And yes, one would assume I would actually need to be accompanied by another talking human being to be so dang noisy. But nope, just me.

So after my graceless attempt to keep it cool like Fonzie, I  awkwardly ward off the growing crowd of onlookers and their discomforting death-stares they have unleashed like fire in my direction, I begin my library day.

Headphones in. (Today I listen to all of Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest album. SO good.)

Chacos off.

Feet stretched out into Chair # 2.

Lap top open.

Phone on silent.

Every possible thing I might need in arms reach.

(Deep breath.)

And...

Settled.

5 seconds later...

Oh wait.

No plug.

Computer dies.

And...

Relocate.

Process starts over.

Welcome to my world.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dream On.

Alright I am writing another post tonight because...

1. I drank coffee at 5PM. (Any time after 3PM and I am up for quite some time...)
2. I am done reading The Hunger Games or else I would be, as I told my roommate last week,
    "ALL up in Katniss's world right now."
3. I have more to say.
4. I have realized lately how much I love writing. And how much I don't do it enough. That doesn't
    match up. Today is a new day.
5. I actually don't have a 5, but I hate listing things in 4's. It's un-American.

SO.

At the house show tonight, (Don't worry, I'm not going on a 6798435 word rant about why house shows rule the world again..) after the music was over and everyone was transitioning back into social rules and people watching, the night's host stood up to speak. It was brief. I mean, we're talking a 3 minute thank you and announcements about upcoming shows and events.

But then he said something that just hit me.. something along the lines of living your dream.

His dream?

To host shows. To manage bands. To bring people together through music. To create community, and as he said, "to make Nashville smaller" by connecting people. And he's done it. He's doing it. He's moving in the direction of becoming a full-time music junkie. (Umm... Yes, please.)

I know another guy who I went to college with who just started his own Snow Cone food truck in Nashville. (So proud of him. And more info. on that coming soon!)

Anyway, this whole dream thing got me thinking.

What are my dreams? And what steps am I taking to pursue them and breathe life into their abstract, half thought-out attempts at tangibility?

You know, it's funny how we put our dreams on hold because we are Young. Inexperienced. Incapable. Or as many post-college students can relate to...


Poor.

Question: Are we saying these things only to make ourselves feel better about our own reality? Is this our own desperate attempt to talk ourselves in to maturity?

Adults don't dream.


Dreaming is for children.


Ohh that was before I knew what the "real world" was like.


These kinds of thoughts crowd my mind ALL the time until...

Deep breath.

There is one dream I am pursuing.

I got a job. 

In the Redwood Forest of California. Teaching 5th and 6th graders at an Outdoor Ed. program and leading night hikes and team building exercises.

Is this one of my dreams?
Yes.

Am I going?
Yes.

Will I miss Nashville?
Of course.

Will I come back?
Very likely.

Someday I hope to own a camp. Live on lots of land with horses and gardens and trees. Lots of trees. I long for a place that is known for its open door and empty seat, a place where people are welcome. To be themselves.

To hurt.
To cry.
To roam.
To sing.
To dance.
To feel.
To breathe.
To be human.

A place where people feel safe. A place where teenagers can come and ask questions and make friends. And find that they are worth something. In fact, they are worth a lot of things.

Yes, most of this is not possible right now. But I am moving in the direction of my dream for this next season. I am passionate about camp because it pulls people out of their own version of familiarity and comfort. Camp forces people to simplify and to focus on relationships. To put away the cell phones and the TVs and the MacBooks and just be. And that is powerful.

Ohh.. and I also want to write a book.

So dream.
I dare you.

The Swirl

OK yall I just went to such an awesome house show in Nashville tonight (Foreign Fields- Look them up! Amazingg!!) and let me tell you, I love live music so much. Seriously. I think going to (good) live shows goes in to my top 3 favorite things to do.

Period.

And there is something so unique, so bold and SO refreshing about house shows. It's hard to name, really.. what it is exactly that I love so much about these silly ole things. Perhaps it is the comfort of being in someone's actual home with couches and pillows instead of cement floors and bar stools. It feels much more vulnerable and exposed and personal and raw than most venues... all good things when music is involved. And I think this type of setting plants a deep seed for creative spontaneity. There seems to be a mutual respect tossed between musicians and listeners in this kind of environment, a respect that has a fresh tint to it. No one is competing for attention. Time and space submit to sound as listeners sit.

Still.

Quiet.

Focused.

Wildly in tune to each individual and collaborative sound that so effortlessly escapes from human touch to human ears, as if listeners are required to memorize each seemingly peculiar detail and play it back to a new set of listeners. Somehow, it is here that music holds more weight. More stability. Each song rises and falls like a waterfall erupting into a river of emotion.

Love.

Sadness.

Purpose.

That's what music does to me at least. So often at shows, I feel like I am completely swallowed into my own world. My own universe. I envision a swirl of sound forming around me, thickening with each compelling song, each melodic intervention. And the best part? No one else can touch it. No one can interfere. This swirl locks me in to my own depth of reason, my own version of sanity, but only if I refuse to fight it. And in this swirl of wonder, I dream about new opportunities, people I love, what heaven's like...  or... (let's keep it real) lack of opportunity, people that are hard to love, personal pain that blinds me from the reality of heaven.

But it is here that I feel things. And quite honestly, it is here that I feel most like myself.

Is it a spiritual experience?
Very much so.

Is it inspirational for me as a songwriter and blog/journal writer?
Absolutely.

Is it possible for me to sit still without stomping my foot or twitching chaotically and (sometimes) rhythmically to the sounds?
Uhhh... Negative.

Live music= My own personal therapy.

So there you have it. My favorite thing about Nashville? The music. And now you know why.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crown of Chaos



Tonight I saw the film, Blue Like Jazz, which originated from the pen of a brave soul, Donald Miller. I don’t know if brave is the right word exactly. I guess I just say that because it seems as though he has beautifully articulated so much of what so many Christians struggle with: authenticity in the faith and the way we communicate that to the world around us.

I mean let’s be honest, there’s a lot of us who are hesitant to claim the faith sometimes because of the Crown of Chaos the world places on our twisted, ignorant, hypocritical, rotten heads as we curse anyone and everyone who taps on our eggshell of Truth.

I must say that during the film I was quickly locked in to the long-lost adventure of Donald Miller and his social justice, India-loving friend, Penny, and the sarcastic lesbian that told him he better keep quiet about his history with Jesus in order to survive at Reed which led to his pivotal season of questioning all things religious when…

Suddenly.

The film is over.

Time to snap back to reality.

But I couldn’t.

I can’t.

That is too much of my own reality. And to just “snap back” into normalcy? Is that an option? Is that possible? Honestly, this film is more of my reality than I will ever wish to admit. No, I did not go to Reed College and live the freshman Don experience with the brownies and the drugs and the… well, you know what I mean.

BUT.

I lived a very confused college life.

Trying to figure out what or who the hell I belonged to. Trying to figure out how to explain my thoughts on God, my relation to Him, my thoughts on eternity. So often I stood as Peter did denying Christ time after time after time. On many days, you would have never guessed I even knew Him. That I called Him my Savior. My Father.

In fact, I went to school in Colorado my last semester to start over. To start clean.

Spiritually.

Personally.

Emotionally.

I didn’t know who I was anymore and that scared me. The only way out was to leave.

I remember going camping with a group of Christian friends I made in Colorado early in the semester and a girl prayed out loud in a group. Out of a deep sense of longing or even out of habit, maybe, this girl began her prayer with one simple word.

Father.

It irked me. I don’t remember anything she said after that. My night stopped the moment she said it. My eyes opened immediately. Chills ran up my spine as I entered into a session of flashbacks where I too could call God that very same name. I hadn’t been to that level of depth or intimacy in quite some time.

But for a moment, I let myself go there. I let myself taste the love of our Creator. And Yes. I dared myself to once again call Him Father. It was a scary word. It meant I would acknowledge His presence. I would have to with a name like that.

Notice I said God’s presence, not the youth pastor with the neatly groomed hair and golden smile, the kind of smile that makes you wonder if he is a salesman of some sort, anticipating your yes to push him over the top into a winning commissions lead. Nor am I asking you to consider the Christian extremist who yells, YOU WILL BURN IN HELL to Lady Gaga fans as they wait in line for concert tickets. And not even the Christian who has grown up in the Bible Belt all her life and has never stopped to ask the most horrifying question:


Is this real?

Let me be the first to say, we Christians are quick to create extreme, non-negotiable labels. Labels like, Good/Bad, Holy/Unholy, True/False. Most times, we do this out of fear of excessive exposure, darkness, or “secular influence” on our perfect little angel selves. And it is for this very reason that the conservative, evangelical Christian bubble has missed out on SO much good music. Ohh don’t even get me started…

And with every judgment and assumption about “those people”, we build up more walls than we know what to do with, trying to shoo everyone else away like foolish little flies at a summer day picnic. They are nothing to us. They are the “crazies”, the liberal non-conformists that keep us from getting anything done.

You know, when I started this blog, I initially set very harsh rules for myself. Don’t let this turn Christian, I demanded. Don’t get all God-like on these people. No one will want to read that. Don’t let yourself go there. Keep it light. Keep it in the mind, not the heart.

Yeah… that didn’t happen. God’s doing way too much in my story to silence it. But I was tempted to. Because of a deep desire I have just recently named in my life, a desire to be liked… not necessarily loved. Just liked by people. By everyone. (I know, it’s a bit obnoxious, really.)

But this means I can’t let myself go there. Not everyone digs the whole Jesus thing, Mary Margaret. Let’s be real.

My biggest fear?

People not liking me.

But I am noticing that the more I acknowledge God’s presence, the more I want to cling to Him even more, praying, pleading that He never ever ever leave my sight. I am the terrified mother who ventures out to Wal-Mart with the curious and wandering 5 year-old never daring to let go of the hand I love so outrageously.

So may I bring the focus back on the real presence that we all crave and need? The presence of Jesus. It’s amazing: When we put Jesus in the place where He belongs, “those people” become, well... just like us.

People.

In need of God.

Yall forgive me for my boldness, but God is real. He is real and present and alive in your every hanging thought, your every breath. He knows every single breaking point you own. He knows every internal and external malfunction in your body, the very second someone’s words become too much for you to handle and your throat catches and suddenly your lack of words translates to tears, to pain. He knows that moment like it's His own and He cries with you. For you. Through you. And He doesn’t watch you, binoculars at hand, glaring down from a cloud of thorns with a lightning strike ready to pounce on you at your first sip of alcohol or the second you say shit.

To those who don’t believe in a God, to those who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church or with a Bible at hand:

I am sorry. I am sorry if the Church or the world’s perception of Christianity has hurt you in some way.

But I choose to invite you into the story of Jesus. The story of redemption. The story, if understood, you will never want to forget.

Pull up a chair and rest a while.

May our hearts be in tune to the Gospel. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And the Wheels on the Bus

It’s funny to me how we, (the created), tell God, (the Creator), exactly how we want our life to pan out. We do more than tell. We demand. We hand him the script and say GO before we take a second to listen. To ask ourselves the question, WHY? Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Human beings are silly. (And yes, I am one of them.) We live and breathe out of this place we like to call empowerment, independence, and control. But be honest with yourself. What kind of control do you really have over your life? Really?

Trust me, my intention is not to scare you. My plan for my readers and for myself is to constantly bring us back to the bigger picture, the bigger story. Really, to a place of humility. Raw Humility. There's nothing like it. I genuinely desire to draw you in to a higher power that is after your soul, that knows the timing of your ever breath, every heart beat. He paints pictures in the sky and gives color to the leaves and brings smiles to the faces of those around you until perhaps you finally pause and say,

"Wait. This is real."

How often do we want to be in charge until something goes wrong. But when that “something” plants its roots deep into our hearts and we experience pain of some sort, all of the sudden, it’s God’s fault. We point our finger to the sky and curse the Living God because He messed up our plan. What right does He have to intervene when things are going so well? These are the kinds of moments that turn so many people away from Jesus. He doesn't fix their problems the way they want Him to, so they get tired of waiting around and give up. They have waited at the bus stop at the crossroads of Pain and Shame and they finally decide to walk home. The bus isn't coming.

So many times I have stood at that bus stop. Waiting. Waiting to escape my pain, my misery, myself. I imagine myself standing in the heat of the day as I routinely check the status of my beat-up, modern-day "uncool" cell phone telling me the time I am afraid to learn. And I ask myself questions like, "How long do I wait?" "When do I give up and just walk home?" "When do I stop trusting the bus driver to show up and be the escape that I so desperately need?

In a way, I feel that we are always waiting on something in life... whether it be a person, a job, a degree, a sense of respect from our peers, a seal of approval from someone you love and trust. Perhaps we are waiting on the "right time to say the "right words" to someone the "right way".

Or maybe we are waiting to be free.

Whether we realize it or not, could we be, should we be waiting on freedom? Freedom from the expectations and demands we so easily place on ourselves? Freedom from the way we allow people to treat us because deep down, we think that is what we deserve?

Quite honestly, maybe we are wasting our time at the bus stop. Maybe what we are actually waiting on has already arrived in the form of a Savior: a living, breathing God who wants to wreck your life with a kindness so real it feels fake.

This is where my hope lies: He has already arrived.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spoiled Rotten.

Ok let’s be real: Jesus is constantly amazing me with my friendships here in Nashville. Honestly, I feel spoiled. It’s like one of those moments where you see a cop and start to second guess every tiny little thing you are doing even down to the motive behind the motive behind the action. Don’t think too hard about that… it will make your head spin. Or… you know those moments you get a test back in school and wonder if the teacher graded it correctly because you got a B+ when you were 120% sure you totally bombed it? But then you come to find out, you actually did know your stuff and the teacher did in fact grade the test correctly. Whaaat?!

Yep, that’s what I feel like right now. The Lord has blessed me with some sweet friendships here. And I stand thankful… incredibly unworthy of such gifts, but aren’t we all?