A Peak Behind The Curtain With Mary Margaret

“There are an enormous number of people out there with invaluable information to share with you,” Anne Lamott said, “all you have to do is pick up the phone.” Most people love having their opinion asked for and enjoy an opportunity to give a piece of their mind. Sadly, we seldom pause long enough to take an interest in what another person has to say. We've replaced good old fashion conversation with tweets, snaps, and texts. There's not anything wrong with those things in and of themselves. They're tools after all. Tweets and snaps aren't an adequate stand in for picking up the phone or sitting down to talk. When technology reaches its limit pick up the phone, grab a cup of coffee or kick off an email exchange to dig deeper.

Which is exactly what I’ve done with today’s guest. We’ve chatted in person, over the phone, and via email over the last several weeks, covering a wide range of topics. I’d like to share some of our conversations with you here.

Today’s guest...

Mary Margaret is more than a talented singer and performer. She is a kind and generous soul as well. When she’s not performing, Mary can be found in coffee shops helping other women sort through life’s ups and downs, and connecting them to a community of like-minded ladies.

Today’s conversation covers a host of topics including living in New York City, moving forward after failure and growing up in a creative family.

Join me in getting to know Mary and learning from all she has to offer...

On to the conversation...

You actually did what every kid at one point or another dreams of—you packed your bags and moved to New York City. Could you tell us about that experience? What was it like moving so far from home at such a young age? What drew you to New York? What did you learn about the City over the last few years; what did you love/hate about it? What did you learn about yourself throughout the entire process?

Since my pre-teens, I always knew that after I graduated high school, I’d move to New York. No question. What drew me to New York initially was that I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to sing my heart out and tell stories and live on stage. What drew me to New York was the “what could be’s.” As a teen, I struggled with depression and anxiety and those battles kept me feeling small and stuck. I needed to get away, and New York was the city of endless possibilities, of endless people. I could write a novel on all my experiences in NYC, but I’ll try and keep it short. The city was a place like no other. It could make you feel small, and stuck and it could also make you feel larger than life - like anything was possible. What I learned about myself was that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was, I can’t stand mariachi bands on the subway at 7 a.m., and I’m a person - who though they might not like it at the time - needs change, often.

Nobody is born with a style or a voice. No one is born knowing who they are. Those things develop as they pretend to be their heroes and try new things. Who are your heroes? In what ways do you try to emulate their work?

As I continue to evolve and grow and change, those who I look up to change vary, so my answer may be different in a month. In this season, I very much look up to a woman named Danielle LaPorte. Danielle is a bestselling Canadian author, inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, and blogger. I admire her because she is fierce, she is loving, she is raw and truthful -  in everything she does there is art. I am inspired by her to be who God made me to be and to search for truth and freedom in everything.

You have a wildly creative family. What did growing up look like? What aspects of your family life do you think influence you the most?

My dad used to set up the old video camera and record me and my siblings doing interviews with him as the show host. I mean, talk about an outlet to be all different sorts of crazy characters. No wonder I’m an actress. My Dad is also a talented musician - he used to play the keyboard all the time in the house so maybe that’s why I am so interested in music, as well.

My childhood was a combination of light, love, and complete freedom to do or be whoever I wanted to be.  I was always encouraged to follow my passions, use my imagination and creativity, and follow through with what I started. I was so very lucky to have such supportive and encouraging parents.

“There’s only one rule I know of,” Kurt Vonnegut said, “You’ve got to be kind.” You appear to have taken this to heart while in New York. Tell us about the Just Be Kind Project. What is it and why did you start it? What have you learned from the whole endeavor?

Just Be Kind Project is an organization that gathers women together into an authentic community. We do this by hosting gatherings, small events, and conferences.

My mission was to create a haven where women feel they can show up and be vulnerable and raw—totally themselves. I created this project because sisterhood is key to women flourishing and finding freedom. New York is a huge city with so many people. I had a hard time finding a group of women that I could live life with. I figured I wasn't only one. I created Just Be Kind because of needs I saw and experienced while living in NYC.

I kept seeing this pattern over and over again. Women competing with one another and tearing each other down. They'd do it in an attempt to build themselves up. I used to feel the need to be apart of that, I was one of those women. Since I’ve begun to consistently invite community with other women into my life, my world has completely turned around. Having women beside you to grow and learn from and lean on is key - pure magic starts showing up in your life.

Are you going to continue with the Just Be Kind Project now that you're back in Texas?

My plan is to continue with JBK in Dallas as soon as I get back on my feet! So Dallas gals, keep a look out for event postings on Instagram!

What makes you feel eight years old again? Or whatever age you associate with childlike innocence and ambition. What activities fill you with joy?

I love painting. Being in water. Being barefoot.

When you know a lot about something, it is a pleasure to be asked a lot of questions about it. What do you have a deep well of knowledge about that people might not realize? What do you most enjoy discussing?

Feminism. Oh, my goodness. Let's go to coffee and talk about Feminism - what it means, what it doesn’t, how the word and meaning have been distorted, and how it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. Danielle LaPorte said it perfectly, “Feminism is not gender-specific. It’s a consciousness.”

You mention that feminism isn't about gender, but consciousness. What do you mean by that?

What I mean by this is that anyone can be a feminist, not only women. The term has been completely distorted due to a lack of understanding about the subject and it’s correct definition. Many men and women are turned off by feminism because we have become so separated from the original meaning. Feminism is "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Feminism is not hating men and it is not flaunting our female bodies in a provocative way and calling it women's empowerment. It's an opinion, and it's a way you move through the world. And though feminism is a movement for the rights of women, everyone benefits from the world where everyone is equal and valued.

Life can so often be about making mistakes and feeling lost. I believe that we learn more from our failures than from our successes and that at least a dozen or so are necessary along the way. Unless we want to remain stunted individuals who don’t grow. Is there a time where you’ve completely dropped the ball, and how has it shaped you moving forward?

Ya, I agree with you. Man, I drop the ball all the time. It’s all about awareness and bringing you to a higher level of consciousness. Failing or dropping the ball can either be an excuse to get stuck and stay small, or it can be an opportunity to grow. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, says “The moment we deny a difficult experience, it owns us”. If we are brave enough, often enough, we’re going to fall. Now, I am very much a perfectionist, so often times I’ve screwed up and I’ve definitely struggled with picking myself up off the ground. But when we can take our failure and turn it into a growth moment, we do ourselves a huge favor.

Writers often send their work to many people before sending a copy to their editor or agent. They value the input, suggestions and help another set of eyes provides. This can also be helpful in life. Sometimes we get stuck and aren’t sure what to do next. A friend, mentor or coach is a great help to provide us with the direction we need in those moments. I noticed on your website that you help women figure things like this out. Tell us how you got started, what drew you in that direction and a little about how you work?

For a long time, I felt like I was merely surviving life - trying to get through the next day. And at some point, it didn’t feel good anymore. It didn’t feel like enough. I wanted more out of life - more passion, more consciousness, more ferocity, more joy.

I have always been the go-to for my friends when they needed support or guidance or someone to listen. I realized I had healthy and beneficial insight. I knew the ideal questions to ask to get them to dig deeper wherever they were struggling or having trouble. I decided I wanted to be a coach and enrolled in Mentor Masterclass, an all-in life coaching program. I support women to create loving relationships with themselves to experience freedom internally and externally. I work with women to heal the stories they tell themselves. Stories that aren’t serving them anymore. I work with women who believe they are meant for more but don’t know how to step into their power.

You talk about helping women step into their power. Help us understand exactly what that means?

To me, stepping into your power means deciding not to play small anymore. To live in alignment with your truth and who you are and not being willing to compromise. To dial into your intentions and commit to authenticity. To live the ultimate expression of yourself.

How do you integrate faith into what you do?

Faith is integrated into everything I do. It’s why I serve and help other women. It’s why I use my gifts and talents and tell my story - it’s all for His glory.

Everyone recharges in their own way. Some people enjoy walks in the park, others long bike rides, while others still prefer curling up with a good book. What are your favorite methods of relaxing and recharging, especially during a hectic and crazy season?

Reading - some of my go to’s are Rilke, Danielle LaPorte and Brene Brown.  Lighting candles, yoga, meditation. Sleep is also a really great way to recharge, and gosh, I love sleeping. Also, tea. My personal favorite is Peppermint or Woman's Moon Cycle tea.

Do you have any habits or routines that help you win the day? If so, what do you believe is the single most important aspect of it?

Prayer. It's the best reminder that it's not about you or me. Everything is for Him and the greater good.

Thanks for dropping by for today’s interview…

We have more interesting and inspiring interview sessions on the way from some of the most creative and faithful people I know.

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Learn more about today’s guest…

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing part of Mary’s story as much as I have. If you’d like to connect with her you may do so via the channels below.

Website: marymargaretflaming.com

Instagram: @marymargaretflaming_


Marching Into The Unknown

You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite movies. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are a powerhouse duo exchanging witty banter wrapped in an Affair To Remember esk story. At least once each year, I beg Hannah to let me dig it out and throw it in the ol’ DVD player. Every time, is almost like the first time all over again. Isn’t it that way with our favorites? No matter how many times we’ve seen them, we never get tired of them. As I sat down to write this morning, it popped into my mind. Scene after scene, line after line. In fact, I’m replaying the scene about the Godfather in my head as I type. Greatness!   

As I sat here replaying it in my head, another scene came to mind. Less funny, more serious, yet something I find immensely helpful in this season of life. Midway through the film, Meg Ryan and a character named Birdie have lunch. Meg Ryan’s character has just made the decision to close her charming little bookstore. In the exchange, Birdie issues a series of lines that have stuck with me. They hit me each and every year.

“You are daring to imagine,” Birdie says, “that you could have a different life. Oh, I know it doesn't feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you're not. You are marching into the unknown armed with...Nothing. Have a sandwich.”

Everything about those lines is lovely. Meg Ryan’s character is feeling low because the business her mother built and left to her, is closing. In the midst of this deep pain, Birdie reminds her of the immense bravery it takes to face the unknown, to do the thing you find particularly hard and difficult.

I feel Hannah and I are marching into the unknown ourselves. In just a few short days, our first son will arrive. Talk about a life changer. Our whole world is about to be upended, in a good way. While we’ve done everything we can think of to prepare, there remains a great deal we are unaware of.

I’m freaking out inside. There are so many questions swirling around in my head, that it hurts. How little sleep is in my future? How will that stress impact our marriage? Do we have enough diapers? Is there anything I’m forgetting? Do we have everything we need for the nursery? Will I drop him? Will we be good parents? What will this new adventure bring into our lives? So many questions, so little answers.

How do you prepare for unknown situations, when you’re freaked out and haven’t a clue what to expect? I’ve thought about that question and a hundred like it. They’ve kept me up at night, and haunted my dreams. They’ve followed me around and lived with me for months on end. Today, I’d like to share with you the result, and how we are preparing to face the unknown once more.

The truth is, this isn’t the first time we’ve “marched into the unknown” and it certainly won’t be the last. We’ve walked this path before, and so have you. Facing situations, events and circumstances you aren’t entirely sure of, is as common as it gets. You don’t know the future, and as a result everything comes with a side of doubt and uncertainty.

Your level of uncertainty changes minute by minute, day by day. While uncertain of every aspect of most situations, you have a reasonable expectation for how it will go. You’ve had similar experiences before and have formed some idea of what most things on your calendar will look like. Other events however, throw massive amounts of uncertainty your way. The more that stands to change in your life, the more unknowns you have to be stressed over. Whether something big or small, the uncertainty is headed your way.

Abide with Christ

Don’t allow uncertainty and stress to threaten your world, and hold you captive. The surest way I know to throw off the heavy yoke the things of this world attempt to lay upon me is to look to Jesus. “Come to me,” Jesus said, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Abiding with Christ is the only path to peace in this life, and joy everlasting. One mark of walking with Him is peace in the midst of chaos. You have no need to worry, because you know who’s in control. There is never a moment in your life, during which the Lord wants you to worry. To worry is sin. It communicates your concern that God might get things wrong and that if you just had control things would turn out alright. How often does this pattern play out? How many of the things you’ve prayed the Lord would spare you from, are the very things that ended up shaping who you are the most?

Abiding with Christ involves spending time with His word and doing what it says. Abiding and obedience are inextricably linked, so what does God’s word tell us to do, with our anxiety and fear?   


“Don’t be anxious in anything,” Paul said, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Worry, anxiety and stress are heavy burdens you just don’t have to carry. Cast them off and let Christ deal with it. What keeps us up and costs us sleep, makes Him laugh. He is not worried and He has it under control. Lay your burdens down at the feet of Jesus in prayer because He cares for you. While the burden may be too much for you to bear, it’s not too much for Him. Let Him carry it.

Prayer is a powerful tool God has given you to fight the stress and anxiety uncertainty sends your way. Lay it all out there. "Tell God all that is in your heart,” Francois Fenelon said, “as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself as to others."

God can do something about what’s troubling you and He wants to. What you have in Him is a loving father. Loving fathers are concerned with what’s keeping their kids up at night and want to alleviate their burdens. The Lord is no different. Put it all out there in very real, and raw terms. He loves you and wants to hear what’s on your heart.  

Focus On Truth

“The most important battle you will ever fight,” Todd Wagner said, “is the battle for your mind and the most important weapon in this fight is truth.” Your mind is flooded with a million different thoughts each day, and not all of them are good, helpful or even true. What you do with each of those thoughts will determine everything.

You have to train yourself to think rightly in all circumstances by constantly reminding yourself of what’s true. You facedown what you don’t know by focusing on what you do. You may not know exactly what the future holds, but you can know who holds it. Fix your gaze on Him.

Consistent time in God’s word is the only way this happens. There’s just no way around it. No matter how many times you hear it, daily time in the Bible is the lifeblood of the Christian life. It offers practical and helpful instruction for every aspect of life, especially when staring down anxiety, but most importantly the Bible connects you with the author of life Himself.  

“Finally, brothers,” Paul said, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Releasing your anxiety is only half the battle, you have to embrace truth in its place. Focus on what is true, honorable, pure and more. This is how you transform your mind, so that you know how to respond rightly no matter what comes your way.

Seek The Wisdom of Others

“The physical presence,” Bonhoeffer said, “of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” The Lord has been incredibly kind to you in that He has made you a part of the body of Christ. Within the body are countless men and women who have walked your steps before. What is uncertain to you, may not be to someone else. Ask good questions, seek counsel and wisdom, and avail yourself to the wisdom of others.  

The input and experience of your fellow believers can help alleviate a great deal of stress. Their insights can be huge. Go find someone who's walked the path you’re headed down. Regardless what the road ahead looks like, you can face it. Lock arms with other believers and wade into ambivalent seas ready to tackle what comes together. Remember that we is stronger than me. You don’t have to go it alone.

Want To Be A Godly Man / Women? Here's A Little Help

I sit down with guys on a regular basis who ask some variant of the same question, "I want to walk faithfully with Christ, but I am not sure where to start. Can you help me?"

While it always takes me back and I am honored to have the opportunity to help point them in the right direction, the truth is none of us are finished products. I remain very much in the trenches, fighting for faith each and every day.

Therefore the best way I know to help and serve others, is to pull back the curtain and share with them how I am seeking to grow and mature in Christ.

Today I would like to do just that with you and share the daily practices and resources that touch and inspire me in this pursuit.

So you want to be a godly man / woman?

Read God's word every day

You can't grow and mature in Christ without being connected to His word. Everything else flows from this daily devotion. The Word is central to your becoming God's man / woman. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in godliness so that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work.   

Not sure where to begin? Here is a post to help you read your bible and get more out of it.   

Memorize God's word

Hiding God's word in your heart is huge and I know of no other way to transform your mind than Bible memorization. One constant you will find among the men and women you seek to emulate most, is that they know God's word. It flows from their lips with ease. That doesn't just happen, you have to work at it.

The Scripture Typer app is one handy little way to memorizing God's word on the go. Whether you're in the line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or anywhere else this app can help you.


This is perhaps the simplest aspect of our walk with the Lord, but the one we tend to emphasize the least. This is one we tend to overcomplicate when in reality prayer is just a conversation with God. Not sure where to begin? Share your hurts, fears, anxieties, worries and cares. Ask Him for wisdom and that He develop Christ like character within you. Pray His word.

Here is are some extremely helpful prayer tips from Ben Stuart. 

Lock arms with others who are running in the same direction

No soldier wanders off and goes into battle alone, and you shouldn't either. The Christian life isn't meant to be lived in isolation. In fact, isolation kills. Grab people who are after the same things and run together. There will come a day when things don’t go your way and you'll need encouragement, when hard times come and you'll need support, when you'll stray from the path and you'll need correction. These things come for everyone, and you weren't meant to face them alone.

Here are some best practices for community shared by Jonathan Pokluda. 

Avail yourself to the vast array of resources at your finger tips

We live in a crazy awesome time! It is mind blowing all the resources you have access to. How crazy is it that you can learn, and be encouraged by folks all over the world. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

5 Characteristics Of A Godly Man, and 44 Verses To Help You Become One via Todd Wagner

5 Characteristics Of A Godly Women, and 43 Verses To Help You Become One via Todd Wagner

The Key to Christian Obedience via Ask Pastor John

One of the greatest resources available to is the opportunity to fill your ears with truth through the vast amount of teaching available digitally. Here are a few sermon series and podcasts I encourage you to invest some time in:

A Few Good Men via Todd Wagner

The Carey Neiuwhof Leadership Podcast

Ask Pastor John Podcast

The Role of Men via Matt Chandler  

Stand to Reason podcast

While blog posts and teaching are fantastic and will help you grow tremendously, not much can replace the value of a book in your hand. Here are a few books that have been helpful to me, and would be worth your time: 

Don't be legalistic about it

This sounds incredibly simple and it is, but boy can it be hard to execute on them with regularity. When you miss a day, don't beat yourself up, climb back on the horse and keep riding. None of us will get there overnight, we are playing the long game. Consistency over years is what it takes.

Faithful men and women are not over night successes, they come about over a long period of time. They devote themselves daily to the word of God and prayer, and they run with other others headed in the same direction. Do they still fail? You bet! But one thing they do consistently is forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what is ahead. That is they, ask forgiveness when they fall short, confess it to others and then get right back on the horse running after Jesus. There are no perfect men, but there are plenty of broken men pursuing a perfect Savior.