Tuesday, May 26, 2009

End of the year- a new chapter begins

What an incredible year this has been!!! Clemson is an incredible place with a ridiculous amount of ministry going on! I am floored by getting to be a part of incorporating the campus FCA with true athlete ministry. We have set several things in place that fulfill Clemson FCA's goal of "Loving God- Loving Campus" within the arena of the athletic department! There is now an athlete ministry leadership team comprised of 20+ athletes from almost every team. They are gonna be used of God to rock their teams, the athletic department, and this campus!

As for me as an FCA staffperson, however, this has been a very abnormal year. All the other FCA staff in our area have moved on from their time with FCA. Between that movement and the economy, funding for staffing has be lacking. As I look at the ministry needs here objectively, I realize that my strengths matched the need when I arrived, I could meet the current need, but it currently would be better suited to someone else's strengths. All of this comes together to help me in my decision to accept another position within FCA that is exciting, yet sadly would take me away from Clemson. I will be moving to the bay area (San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland) in California to serve several high schools and colleges. As the door has opened to work there, I have wrestled with the decision, realize that my strengths are needed there, and the position pursued me...all things to seriously consider. I feel blessed to get to remain with FCA as it has had such an INCREDIBLE impact on my life and countless others! I just got to attend the 2nd annual college conference as a Huddle Leader and watch 180 college athletes from across the nation get sold out and grasp their influence. Can you imagine the ripple from things like that?!?!


I've been asked what the job description would be...so....the area is only 4% Christian. Talk about being a missionary in your own country. Therefore, the mentality is to hit the open doors and use each staffer's unique strengths. That means I will spend 1-2 days/week with a handful of highschools to relieve the other campus representative. My unique addition to the team is that I am female and my sport is soccer. The rest of the week would be spent with college and professional female athletes. FCA has presence on multiple college campuses in the area. Also, women's pro soccer has launched in 6 cities, one of which is San Jose. That should tell you a little something about the soccer community there. There is still a need for the position to be fully funded and that will be a part of my job still, but I will have teamwork towards that. (If you would consider getting involved in that part, please let me know.) All this has happened so fast. I hate that I have not been able to call all of you who have been friends to me through this journey. The intention in coming to Clemson was to be there for the long haul. This doesn't make sense, yet also makes tremendous sense all at the same time. There's so much more I would love to share with you...please feel free to call me as I am journeying...and new posts will be coming soon!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lips

Proverbs 18:6- A fool's lips lead to strife, and his mouth provokes a beating.

Questions this begs:
Do our words result in strife? Our actions...do they? The Word's got one title for me when that is the case...fool. Ouch. Is it any wonder our mouths provoke, and even deserve, a beating when that is the case?
Now if you got a mama like mine...sometimes it's not what we say, but HOW we say it...or the peace we left unsaid or just straight up refuse to say when we must speak that shouts the loudest.

So...provoking fool or the wisdom of proverbs? Choose today whom you will serve.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Do you still believe…?

…God has a purpose for your life? (Jeremiah 29:11)
…God can open doors no man can shut? (Isaiah 43:13)
…the favor of God rests upon your obedient life? (Psalm 84:10-12)
…the blood of Jesus has defeated the Devil? (Isaiah 1:18)
…God can make His enemies His footstool? (Hebrews 10:12-14)
…no weapon formed against you will prosper? (Isaiah 43:1-2)
…He will sustain you? (Isaiah 40:28-31)
…greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world? (1 John 4:4)
…God has chosen you for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
…God is more than enough? (Philippians 4:19)

Hebrews 11:6- And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Don’t know about you, but don’t think I wanna set myself up to for it to be IMPOSSIBLE to please God. So may we rest in a sovereign God who "gives and takes away…but Blessed be His name anyway"…and pray like a man Jesus encountered in His time here “I believe, help my unbelief!”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

For such as time as this

As you can well tell, it has been 3 months since I last wrote. Honestly, I was afraid to because there was so much change going on around here with FCA, I didn't want to mis-speak. But I was recently convicted...it's as if God was saying, "I'm up to some incredible things around here and because you're afraid of how stuff will sound or what it will look like, you're not giving me the glory I deserve for the cool stuff going on". Yeah...that = slap in the face and a reality check and a "Yes sir" out of me.

So here you go...to catch you up on changes...bottom line...everybody that was on staff with FCA has now left for various reasons, and I am now the only FCA staff member in the area. This has posed a challenge in both things to do ministry-wise and in funding. Not sure what that will end up meaning for this area or me, but He has finally brought me to such a place of peace and rest about it! I have wrestled..."God what do you want for FCA here?!?! What is my role supposed to be?!?!" I'm sure many of you out in the working world have begun to have the same wrestle as the economy slides and jobs are threatened. Many of you are college students also...wondering what is the next step for you. This is what He has laid on me in that regard:

"Marla, you are seeking after my yet-to-be-revealed will. How are you doing on my already-revealed will? Loving me and people with everything you are...knowing me and making me known...being Spirit-filled? Are you seeking my hand or my face...making my will an idol in your life?"..... how bout you? We are each where we are today "for such a time as this".

There's nothing like watching God take His people, no matter how amazingly or little talented they are, and blow a place up! So to brag on Him...a few things I've watched the past 3 months. 400 students and student-athletes decend on St Louis, MO and share the love of Christ over spring break. 25 of our students serving as Huddle Leaders at the FCA high school state retreat. Pick of the week- where campus FCA decends en masse on athletic events in a way that has impacted athletes, coaches, AND support staff. Why Jesus?...an event put together by students in multiple campus ministries that rocked our ampitheater. I get to watch multiple students and student-athletes serve the youth group at my church and lead kids weekly. And something I personally am very excited about, adding "Athlete Ministry" to the leadership team within Campus FCA...I got to watch our athletes talk about their desire to love, serve and reach their teams and our athletic department last Sunday night! You'll be hearing more about that!

And these are just a few...and not to mention all the things He's been teaching/leading me through. So here's to living out loud...today. Chances are, we live in a generally safe enough country and live relatively comfortable lives...However, you're not promised tomorrow...and we weren't called to lives of comfort. And there are days we all (if you're like me) have amnesia. Make war on that today..."FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS"!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Did I really just have that week?!?!?

Can you handle this? Really can you? I don’t know if I can…good stuff to remember when you get discouraged…God’s kinda faithful. Check out this past week! Here’s a few highlights…

Monday 1/19- Was kinda an off day. I had a friend in town to visit and we got to go to two coffeeshops (one of my favorite things to do)! This was good, because that evening and the next 8 days would rock! That night we started off the semester for the Female Athlete Huddle. Nothing like sitting around with 10 or so athletes talking about freedom in Christ
Tuesday 1/20- Had a phone conversation with a woman God placed in my path when I needed a smack in the face. Haven’t really talk to her since college. God started something in my life through her act of obedience. I don’t think I even understand how far the ripple from that has run. But it was cool to get to share part of it with her.
Wednesday 1/21- It’s so exciting to periodically get a call from one of the girls I invested in at Auburn University last year. That was Wednesday! Got to spend some time on the phone listening, walking through Biblical responses and challenging/encouraging once again…so cool. Also that night, one of our runners got baptized…the even cooler thing was she was more excited about the 2 rows of teammates that came to support her, some of whom don’t go to church. How cool.
Thursday 1/22- I got to meet the cheerleading team for the first time. They listened intently as a shared what FCA is about after they had had a 4 hour practice. And about 8 came up afterward to personally introduce themselves, thank me, and way they want to get involved. Wow.
Friday 1/23- I went to cheer on the women’s tennis team, and unknowingly sat down amongst the men’s team. Poor guy I say next to I think felt uncomfortable as soon as his teammate said, “Hey, she’s the female FCA chaplain!” Come to find out, that guy has promised the teammate I sat next to a filet mignon if he would come to church with him. What?!?! I said, “Dude, take your steak and GO!” We’ll see…all I know is the steak cooking, church inviting tennis player is my hero.
Saturday 1/24- Working with the Student Body FCA on ways to love the athletic department to show them Jesus. How bout 100+ fans showing up to the swim meet and packing out the facility like I’ve never seen it before?!?
Sunday 1/25- I got to take 2 athletes with me to speak for a women’s Sunday school class at a local church. I got to share some about FCA and what we do. They shared their testimonies. Nothing like watching to young women grow as they step out to share their story with women 50-60 years their senior and everyone being encouraged. That afternoon, I went to the church I’ve been attending and watched 40+ people get baptized…in just that service. There were 3 others that day. What?!?
Monday 1/26- Just was amazed at how He ordered my steps all day to orchestrate 5 one-on-one conversations and an amazing female athlete huddle again
Tuesday 1/27- We had an FCA state-wide staff meeting all day, which was cool. But the best part may have been talking to a friend who is moving away…but hearing how God is orchestrating details. I went to an event hosted by church expecting to not know a soul and run into a girl I worked FCA camp with 5 years ago, and two others with many mutual friends. Topped off the day talking with FCA staff from San Francisco where my buddy is moving to play soccer. It is awesome to watch the family of God at work…taking care of each other and connecting His people.

I needed that reminder…that He’s got the details. I forget sometimes. Hope you see Him as huge too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Starting 2009

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Though it's not scripture, there is something in the previous quote that just resonates with me! And I know I’m not the only one. Many of you may recognize some of this quote from the movie “Coach Carter”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0tHkivAHs0&feature=related

Now that’s just a random quote…but as one who is reading the Bible, I her familiar words in this quote too. “Let your light shine”…and reference to the “power that works within us”…and liberation too? Those are powerful words when you stop long enough to let their weight sink in.

So as you start a crazy busy January, getting back to the grind, the beginning of a new school semester or season, the beginning of a new year…I pray you each become people that will let your light so shine, knowing the freedom that is ours to enjoy, and the power that is ours to wield well.

If you wanna check the scriptures that came to mind as I read and watched this, they’re below. They both encouraged tremendously and challenged the butt off of me. Know that I’m behind you and praying for you as coaches and athletes, but also as people.

Matthew 5:14-16"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Ephesians 3:14-21For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Galatians 5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas 2008

The end of the semester has come and most students are gone. Finals were a whirlwind of a time for our students…no surprise. A couple highlights over the past couple months are:
  • I had an opportunity to speak at another school and took Julie, one of our soccer players. She did an amazing job!
  • During finals, Evan Bryant (area FCA staff guy) and made around 500 cookies and took them to athletes and students involved in FCA to provide mini-study-breaks for them…some good conversations arose out of that.


    Some Track girls we picked up along the way helped us deliver cookies and carol as we went.

  • FCA partered with Men's Basketball to bring in Bruce Crevier. He did a halftime show in the middle of one of our games, and we followed the game with a Rally. Over 25 people responded to the Gospel, 6 of them being adults. Some of our Women's players helped.
    The audience responding to Bruce's presentation of the Gospel
    Todd Steelman, one of our women's basketball coaches sharing his testimony at the rally

    One of our Women's players helping Bruce at halftime

  • There has been more conversation between the Student Body FCA and myself. I’m really excited about opportunities to partner with them this Spring!
I leave you with a devotional that a friend, Amber Salter, wrote several weeks ago. i hope it encourages you this season as it did me.

Is your life full of drama and complexities? Are you able to rest even in the midst of all the “things” we have to do here? Do you wish your life was simple?
Jesus wants it to be.
Think of how you came to salvation.
It was as easy as coming when He called.
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
It was as simple as drinking water.
“If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water…’” (John 7:37-38)
It was as simple as receiving a gift.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
It was as simple as calling for help.
“For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Do you ever look at young kids, and see the absolute care-free freedom they live in, and wish you could live like that? Not maturity-wise, but to be that trusting and alive. Not to be burdened down with business or confusion or drama.
He wants you to live your life with that kind of freedom and rest. And He tells us how.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…” (Colossians 2:6)
There’s no striving. It’s simply trusting Him, with everything. You trusted Him to save your life, now trust Him with your life, and He will save you from your burden. He’s big enough to carry your sin, He’s big enough to carry you.
It really is as simple as reading and believing. Read what He has to say, what He says about Himself, what He says about you. And when you rest on Him and what rely on what He’s said, life is simplified.
If He made it so simple and easy to accept Him, why would He make it more difficult to live with Him? It takes the same kind of faith.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places

That's the tag line on the SC license plates. I love it!
So it's been a great month here in Clemson. Things are slowly picking up. We're working on developping a Female Athlete Huddle within the FCA Chaplain's Ministry here. But we're also working with the Student Body FCA to adopt and support our coaches and athletes here. Our Female Athlete Huddle paired up with the small groups from the Student Body FCA to host a tailgate for our Women's Basketball Orange/White Scrimmage.
Spencer and Rochelle grilling it up!!
Several of our athletes at the Bball game

I got to take a couple of our Women's Basketball Players to a local FCA HighSchool huddle to share their testimonies! How awesome it was to watch these young women stand up in front of 50 or so high school and middle school students to share what God has done in their lives...and watch Him weave together their stories along with the main speaker's story to pound home the same point in 3 different ways!
Chelsey speaking
Lindsey speaking
My Parents also came to visit me in Clemson. The only non-music major in the family...I think they occasionally have no idea what to do with me. :) It was awesome to get to show them around and have them join me for a couple days.
Dad and me at the Swim Meet
Mom and me in front of the football stadium

I've also spent quite a bit of time out of town this month too (so happy to be landed for a while!). All new FCA staff has to go to New Staff Training Camp. So off to Kansas City, Mo we flew to spend a week at the FCA Home Office. It was amazing! There were 44 new staff from all over the country there that week. We spent 5 days learning more of the "X's and O's" of FCA and getting a glimpse of the big picture of FCA across this country and internationally! They were not only sure to equip us for the ministry, but also pour into us through sessions on Spiritual, relational, physical, and financial health. But like any camp, some of the best time was the "in between" time where there were conversations that encouraged, challenged, and set new vision in all our hearts and minds.

I got to meet Jill Ewert in person...she's the editor for FCA's Sharing the Victory Magazine

I also got to be a part of the first ever Female FCA Staffperson Retreat. The Georgia/South Carolina Region has the largest number of female staff in the entire country. We have about 20% of the nation's female staff here! So we got together to discuss how we can tackle some of the topics specific to female athletes and coaches, share ideas of things we had done in our own areas, and just hang out too! I was asked to lead worship for the retreat too...

The younger female staff at the retreat. I am always real intentional about hanging with the staff older than me as I enjoy them and can learn a TON from them. I also really have been blessed with some solid encouraging friendships out of this group!!!

I hit the road once more this month to go attend some athletic events. Particularly due to the drought around here, going to Chattanooga for the "Head of the Hooch" regatta could possibly be the only time I would get to see our rowing team compete. It was incredible to watch these girls compete in one of the largest races in the southeast. I got to encourage many of our rowers who are involved in FCA, and also meet other members of the team for the first time.

One of our boats before they compete
Chatting with one of our coaches and novice rowers

Lastly, I got to go back to Auburn as a part of the trip to Chattanooga for the Women's Soccer Senior Night. It was so encouraging to see the FCA staff there that had been formative in my time with the chaplain training program. I also got to see some of the athletes I served in my time there.
Allison Whitworth and me after her Senior Night shut-out!

Friday, October 3, 2008

2 months in...amazing!

I can't believe I've been here almost 2 months. For the amount of time, there really has been a LOT that's going on. Just wanted to let you know some of the things we're been working on.


Coaches' Ministry-There is a Coach's Bible study that has been going on and is even led by one of our strength and conditioning coaches. I seriously just get to be blessed by going and being a part of it!

Female Athletes- We started off having a cookout for the female athletes and now we're meeting weekly for our Female Athlete Huddle. Here's a picture from our cookout. In the huddle, we spent the first three weeks talking about God's love for us. That we are both fully known and fully loved at the same time! Now we're turning the corner...asking, "So who is this God that loves me like that?" So we'll spend the rest of the semester, maybe longer, unpacking who He is. Kinda excited about it!
Here's a picture from our female athletes' kickoff cookout.



The area High School/Middle School Ministry and Adult Huddle- September 20th, both groups partnered to put on "Rally in the Valley" in conjunction with a home football game. There were around 3000 kids at the event where Chris Shepherd spoke. it was so powerful to watch many of these kids walk to the back where they got prayed for and will be followed up with.

Working alongside the Student Body FCA-The campus FCA is HUGE! With 1000+ students attending weekly meetings, there is so much potential to join together to accomplish a common purpose. Members of the Student Body FCA helped out with Rally in the Valley...to welcome students and help counsel afterwards.

On a personal note...It's been incredible to get away into the outdoors of the upstate and spend time with God...asking for His plan...wanting to align my path with His...praying for the same heartbeat amongst all the arms of FCA in the Clemson area. Here's my favorite place so far! Upper Whitewater Falls :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

C-L-E-M-S-O-N T-I-G-E-R-S

I was asked the other day how things were going here at Clemson. So much has happened, it’s hard to even know where to begin, much less be able to convey it all. In all of it though, God has continued to blow my mind, and make Ephesians 3:20 a reality in and around me. This morning I prayed He would order my steps…and apparently, God was listening.

It is unbelievable to fully grasp all that the Lord is doing through FCA in the Clemson area. We have Evan Bryant and Lance Shealy working in the area High Schools and Middle schools. The Student Body FCA at Clemson University sees over 1000 students regularly attending their weekly meeting and hopes to impact the campus. Through the Chaplain’ s ministry, Tony Eubanks serves the Football program and male athletes as FCA Chaplain at Clemson. They have over 90 football players being mentored by men in the community through a discipleship program called Spiritual 2-a-Days. As you can see, there are easily over 3500 High School and College Students and Athletes touched by the ministry of FCA in the Clemson area, yet only the beginnings of sowing and harvesting the female athletes and coaches here at the University have happened. I am honored and humbled to get to join FCA staff as the Women’s Athletics Chaplain.

It has been a whirlwind since I got here. I had been on staff for 2 days when it was time to go to the Georgia/South Carolina FCA Staff retreat. It was wonderful to get to meet all the staff from both states! The process slowly began in building relationships…meeting coaches, athletes, students, adults involved, finding a church, making friends…and it’s still rolling!



Part of the crew here: Wynee, Gable, Tony, Evan, and me