Personal

What If..?

I love to go back and read my old musings. Writing has been an activity that I have always pursued on some level. In middle school and high school the focus was poetry, in college it was -- well mostly just college related stuff, I mean who has time for anything else? -- after college I began a novel, and a few years back I even had a blog (which inspired the name for this blog). Granted, the blog was on a completely different site, I was an unabashed helpless amateur at blogging, and mostly pursued it simply for the fun of it. And yet, when I go back and read those writings I can see a young, hopeful gal who was writing with absolutely zero pressure and for pure enjoyment. Oh to take a ride on a time machine to our innocence. So today, in an effort toward preserving nostalgia, I decided to share a post with you that I wrote on April 9, 2012 entitled "What If..?"

"…yesterday never existed, and tomorrow never came…would it change what you did today?
you were incapable of failure?
you could go back in time, would you? If so, what time would you go back to? A time in your own life? Or maybe another time altogether?
instead of just saying it, you woke up with conviction every morning, and lived that day as if it might be your last?
you gave everything you owned away and started over? Does it change who you are?
you could pack up right now and move anywhere in the world without a care…where would you go?
you knew someone’s life had been drastically impacted because you were in it? Does it change how you view yourself?
someone had drastically impacted your life in a positive way…would you tell them?
you had to choose between:
  1. the perfect job or the perfect love?
  2. health or money?
  3. wisdom or knowledge?
  4. fame or friends?
  5. yesterday or tomorrow?
  6. $1,000,000 for yourself or a $1,000,000 for a perfect stranger?
  7. never dying or living for eternity in Heaven?
Every day we make choices. Some are easy. Some tough. But ALL are important. The decisions we make impact not only our lives, but the lives of those around us. Throughout our lives, we make decisions that map and change the course of our future, much like a captain steering the helm of a ship into open waters. Sometimes we sail along on calm waters, admiring the blue skies and peaceful sea. Then suddenly, and often times unawaringly, we steer ourselves headfirst into a raging storm. More often than not, however, it isn’t merely one wrong turn that gets us off course, but rather a series of wrong-turns, dead-ends, turnarounds, and side-steps.
Therefore, make your choices count every single day. Let me be clear here, this is not to say “never make a mistake”. These are also necessary and vital to our growth and maturity. The key is to learn from your mistakes. Let them sink in to the recesses of your mind, as a stamp upon your conscience, will, and heart.
Finally, take a step back, examine your life, and ask yourself, what defines me? Is it my job? The car(s) I drive? The house I live in? The things I own? The amount of money in my bank account, etc…? Or is it the people in my life? My family? My friends? Or maybe the impact I have on others?
What defines people is not a universally understood concept. It will vary greatly from person to person. But one thing is clear, what defines us should always start from the inside out. External factors can add TO our identity, but should never BE our identity."
Ahh. I look back on these posts fondly. Oh what creativity can be found in a task when it is approached with childlike enthusiasm. I miss being able to blog because it was fun. I miss having the pressure removed. Maybe that is the point. To remove (as much as possible) the pressures we feel and approach our craft(s) with love, enthusiasm, and wonder once again. How much differently would our present view look. What if....?
I would love to see how you would answer these questions. Thanks for stopping by.
~Maggie ♥

    Marriage Matters: 4 Ways to Make it Last

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    As a wedding planner, I am often pondering over wedding day timelines, room layouts, color schemes, floral arrangements, catering, and the like. However, one of the things I like to remind myself (and my clients) along the way is to not forget the ultimate goal: marriage. My husband (Don) and I were married 2 years this past September and will have been together 4 years come May. We both dated several different people before we were married and none of those relationships were successful. When we got together, however, something was different. I remember one of the first times we spent time together sharing absolute silence and the comfort I felt as if we had known each other for years. Marriage requires forgiveness, patience, and stamina, but it also should be tons of fun. Today, I am sharing with you 4 ways that he and I are working toward making it last for the long haul. 

    Adaptability

    Life will change. A lot. In the course of our marriage, we have gone through two moves, job changes, starting a business, 4 pet adoptions (yes, I have a problem) and much more. These are make or break situations. One thing you have to learn early on is that adaptability is absolutely vital in marriage. The fact is that as the seasons of life change so will your marriage and you will either grow together or apart. I have found that one of the ways to safeguard against growing apart is adaptability. Change can be hard, and the unknown is often intimidating, but if you promise to always work toward growing together and adapting to the circumstances (as best as possible), then you have already won half the battle. 

    Forgiveness

    Forgiveness is a priceless asset in marriage. I hesitate to rank them in order, but if I had to, forgiveness may be at the top of this list. The undeniable fact is that you will both screw up. Probably more than once. And forgiveness allows the other person space to be exactly what they are: human. Ghandi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." If forgiveness is an attribute of a strong person, how much more so will forgiveness make your marriage strong? After all the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I have found that grace and forgiveness (much more so than holding a grudge) are strong catalysts for evoking change. Now, I realize that in situations of infidelity or ongoing abuse that there may be a need to leave for the sake of protection, but I am not speaking of those situations. I am speaking of ordinary, everyday people in ordinary, everyday marriages. Letting go begins as an act of will and eventually becomes a way of life. 

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    Fun

    Marriage should be tons of fun. Don is my best friend in the entire world and there is no one I enjoy spending time with more. We have similar interests and both have the ability to make the other laugh (you know those good ole face-hurt-belly-laughs). However, we have to change things up sometimes. If we are feeling stagnant or for the lack of a better word, bored, then we realize it is time to try something new. For us this is sometimes as simple as taking a day trip, exploring a part of our city that is unfamiliar to us, or working on an activity together (team-building does AMAZING things for relationships). It is fairly impossible to stay with any one person for any length of time without going through seasons of stagnation, and this is often where people want to find a new partner to fill that need for excitement. Relationships ebb and flow, just like the rest of life. Sometimes you may have to work a bit harder at enjoying each other, but that is by no means a sign that it's time to throw in the towel. It just means that it's time to mix things up. You found that joy in your partner once, who's to say you couldn't find it again? 

    Honor

    I cannot stress the importance of this next one enough. As best you can, always honor your spouse in front of others. Before Don and I were married, my aunt Audrey told me to keep our business just between the two of us. She said that once you run your partner through the dirt to others, they will never be able to see them the same way again. I have found this to be invaluable advice. There are very very few people that I would trust to talk about my relationship with. A marriage is between two people and should not be broadcast all over the place (I'm looking at you social media). There are times when you may need to seek outside comfort, advice, or support. But be cautioned against what and with whom you share. People can never unremember what you have told them. My goal is to always lift up my husband before others. Not only does it honor him and our marriage, it builds him up and shows him my loyalty. A united front is much stronger.

    Well there you have it. I am by no means an expert and am just starting out on this marriage journey myself. But I feel like the luckiest girl to have married the man that I did (no human has ever loved me greater) and I want to do all that I can to protect that. I hope these tips give you something to think about whether you are dating, getting married, or already hitched. 

    XoXo ♥

    Photos by: Nicki Metcalf Photography
    Dress: Annalise Bridal Boutique

    Life of a Renegade Soul

    Hey there folks. It's a beautiful October Monday; a new day. The weather has gotten colder and yet the sun is bright and full. It's a paradox of sorts. But isn't much of life? It's been a while since I've had the chance to write about the parts of my soul that breathe new life into my dry bones. I hit a wall of frustration a few weeks back. Frustration from a keen awareness of my wrong motives, frustration from chains that were still holding me captive, frustration by feeling like I couldn't fit the broken pieces together once again. I have been on a journey since to seek after that for which my spirit so longs. A journey to let go of things that might be a hindrance and to pursue that which I desperately crave above all else: Jesus. And yet, alas, I have discovered a renegade soul within this rebellious heart of mine. My spirit pushes me forward inch by inch, step by step, mile by mile towards my King and yet my flesh tries with all of its might and loud, interfering noise to push me away toward something, anything, but this.  

    Prone to Wander

    Do you ever wonder how you could be so complex? I know without question that God has created within my spirit this deep desire to know and to be known by Him. Most times I don't understand this desire He has given me for Him. It's like no matter how weary the road gets, how intense the temptation becomes, how "easy" the other path appears, or how angry I am at Him (at times), something still propels me onward. Sometimes this relationship with God is rich and full, other times its challenging and frustrating. One minute I am ready to lay everything down and love Jesus completely and totally with reckless abandon; the other my flesh is keenly aware of this gradual process of dying to self and wages war. Isn't this the epitome of the human struggle? Our fickle hearts and wayward emotions would place us anywhere but at the mercy seat of Grace and Love. Yet this Love is the strongest force in all of Heaven and Earth. Once you are His, truly His, this force becomes all consuming until all we can say is, "I Give in. You win." As the lyrics from Lecrae's "Give In" so accurately convey: 

    "Cause you're pullin me in like a tornado wind
    and I can't pretend
    I tried leavin'
    But your love's so strong
    And it won't let go
    You're holdin' on to me."

    The road less traveled

    The Christian road is not an easy and road block free one and I think this is why many abandon their faith along the way. I will be the first to admit that sometimes this seems appealing. At times it appears that it would be much easier to continue to give in to myself, pursue selfish desires, and forget about the "least of these". I think, "God, I am weary. Sacrifice is hard. I am weak." But our God is a god of change. He isn't content with merely saving our souls (which is amazing in and of itself). No, he also desires to redeem, restore, and redefine the broken places in His children. Where we can get tripped up is by holding on tightly to our chains. We feed them over and over until they become like a boa constrictor around our lives. God says, "I have a better way. Follow me." The lie(s) say, "This way is comfortable and familiar. This way has worked for you. Why would you change it now? You don't know what lies ahead that other way." God changes us because he loves us and doesn't want to leave us in our brokenness. As Lecrae says in "Boasting": 

    "I volunteer for your sanctifying surgery.
    I know the Spirit's purging me of everything that's hurting me."

    I want to be a surrendered heart before God but I know that each new stage of giving myself more deeply to Him will be met with increased temptation. A pastor once said, "Chances are, if the enemy isn't after you, then you are walking alongside him." So we should be encouraged when we find ourselves weary on our quest for doing good for we know that our reward is great. 9 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9 NKJV). I am convinced by now that I gain the most in this life when I lose myself and the things I so tightly cling to. 

    The Sweet Honeycomb of Grace

    I was deeply encouraged last week and yesterday by the reminders of a friend and my husband. My friend Nicki reminded me last week that I am most own worst critic and the only one that is putting unrealistic demands on myself. This simple yet profound wisdom reminded me once again that I am never the one doing the heavy lifting. I am not the one sanctifying; that's all God. I just need to be faithful and realize that He has me exactly where He wants me and doesn't expect me to get it all overnight. He was faithful in the past, He will be again. Further, it was through tears yesterday for feeling like a failure in my faith because I still wrestle with my flesh that my sweet husband Don reminded me, "Your spirit is stronger than you think it is. I see it shining through and winning out." Ahh those words were like a sweet dripping honeycomb of grace. Isn't it funny how so often we sees ourselves much differently than others see us? I think if more people understood, I mean truly understood, the love that God has for them, and the way He views our lives, this world would be a different place. God is for us, not against us. A growing revelation of this characteristic has been both awe inspiring and healing to me. Only through a very real understanding of God's love, not His judgement, can a person be truly willing to have a surrendered heart before Him. And only through the knowledge of His great Grace can we propelled to love ourselves and others well.  So I am reminded once again, that it is always God pursuing me, fixing me, refining me, loving me, and forgiving me and none of this is of myself. He loves my renegade soul and the ways He's using that soul for my ultimate good and His glory. 

    May you be encouraged on your journey. You are not alone. None of us have arrived. None of us are perfect. Thank God for grace.

    ~Maggie ♥

     

     

    Maggie's Top Five "Awkward Photos"

    Let's be honest. We all have them. Those photos that make us question our DNA and genetic code entirely. You know, the ones you hope your mom doesn't show your date when you bring him/her over to visit for the first time. This week my husband Don brought up one particular baby photo of me that looks like I belong more in the Jungles of Africa than in a crib. We have a nice little laugh every time we run across it. And since, "On Fridays we have fun" here at Maggie's Misc, I thought I would share some of my "awkward family photos" with you. You're welcome friends. You're welcome. 

    Apparently I had a hard time keeping my eyes open the better part of 1987. 

    One part 1970's. One part Rastafarian. Makes total sense. 

    You know how some parents secretly hope they can dress their children in the clothes they wore growing up? No. Just, no. 

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    I give you the lost Hanson brother. 

    The piece de resistance ladies and gentlemen. I'm so thankful that my face eventually grew into my eyes. 

    And just to prove that I wasn't completely awkward growing up. I have put together some of my favorite photos of me as a youngin. Enjoy!

    Happy weekend, friends! Comment below which "awkward photo" is your favorite!

    Thanks for stopping by.

    ~Maggie ♥

    Marriage Matters: Two Years Later

    Don and I recently had the opportunity to be a part of an anniversary shoot that was photographed by Capture Photography, and styled by Chic Stripes. Jenny, the photographer, sent me an email and asked if Don and I would model as their couple. She couldn't have known then, but the timing was just perfect as we will be celebrating our two year wedding anniversary next Monday. What excited me about the shoot was that Jenny asked me to describe our relationship beforehand so she could capture us authentically as a couple. Here's what I told her on Facebook Chat: "We are both people of strong faith and God is the center of our marriage. We are both very mission-minded and want to have a deep impact on the Kingdom of God. Together, we are quirky and funny. He (Don) is supportive and genuine and always listens and sacrifices for me. He considers himself my protector and defender." 

    This shoot was such a joy to be a part of! Jenny was super organized and made the experience entirely enjoyable! Prior to the shoot, I spoke with Sydney, the stylist, and she advised me on some clothes to bring that fit within the shoot's "mood" if you will. The photo shoot took place at The Depot, which is this really cool, "off-the-beaten-path" art studio on Broad. Upon arrival at the venue, we were greeted by Jenny and Sydney with snacks and music. I then went over and met with the girls of Lou Stevens Glam Squad (who were currently working on Alex, another model) where Britny made my hair look better than it ever has before, and where Mallory made me feel beautiful and excited for Don to see me. After they finished shooting Alex, it was time for Don and I to have some fun. During the course of shooting, we changed outfits three times, and each outfit reflected a different side of our personality as a couple: elegant, retro, and laid back & fun-loving.

    So much can happen in the span of two years. When Don and were married on September 28, 2013 we were faced with the harsh reality and severity of circumstances beyond our wildest understanding or comprehension. We were not in control. We had no answers. No resolutions. No idea how to fight apart from prayer. We were planning our wedding (what should be a joyous time) while merely trying to survive. But God had other plans for us in our suffering. He heard our feeble prayers and saw it fitting not to leave us in our dark, miry pit, but to give us a new hope, a new life, new identities, and a new love. That's just the kind of God He is. Today, we are thankful for the trials, for the suffering, and for the losses we faced as we know that we can rejoice in the goodness that has come from them and the ways we now better understand WHOSE we are. Our relationship is now more rich and posses greater depth than any other earthly relationship I have ever known. So I will count all of those losses we endured as gain as I breathe in the beauty of this wonderful realization. 

    I am so grateful we had the opportunity to have photos taken of us now, two years later. Photos that showcase in still life and black-and-white how God has given us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and life for our places of death. I look back at the photos from our engagement session, and while the quality of the photos are beautiful and while there was still some joy to be seen, I also see a girl that was in a lot of pain and trying her best not to let it overcome her. I see a man who was loving and supporting that girl while trying to always remain strong as her helper. However, when I look at our anniversary photos, I see a couple that is very much in love, enjoying a brand new season of life, and whose joy is 100% real. No facades. No hiding. It was like in some way God used Jenny and the rest of the team as a reminder of His goodness in our lives. In these pictures I hear Him speak to us: "See. I am faithful. You can trust me. This is my love for you. Go. Go and share this love with my children." 

    Two years. Two years and so much has changed. But some things never change. God never changes and His plans for marriage will never change. Marriage matters. It matters in the ways that we get along so well and the ways in which we don't. It matters in the parts of Don's personality that are so complimentary to me (personality traits I have found in very few people) and it matters in the ways in which our rough edges soften each other. It matters on our goods days and even more on our bad. We are no experts. Nor do we pretend to be. We just have a contentment for life in knowing that we, through Jesus, have overcome. He has given us both exactly what we need. No more. No less. Rejoice. 

    ~Maggie 

    Photos by: Capture Photography