My name is Carly McDougal, but you can call me “Carly Jo.” and I am from Magnolia, Texas. I was raised in a Bible-believing, God-fearing home – one in which my parents displayed what it looked like to love Jesus above all else and pursue Him fervently every day of the week, not just Sunday. My parents’ love for me has been a direct reflection of their relationship with Jesus. Their prayer for my three brothers and me has been that we would ‘love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength’ – Deuteronomy 6:5. Following many conversations and prayers, I placed my trust in Christ at five years old.
It has been such a hard yet sweet journey since I placed my faith in Jesus Christ! Through my family, church, mentors, and friends my relationship with God grew steadily in junior high and high school. But, I would say my faith skyrocketed throughout my time at Texas A&M University – it is where rubber met the road. Going off to college, my faith became so much more precious to me. No longer were my parents physically present in order to comfort me and provide all the answers – Jesus had to fill that void and become my everything. I learned what it meant to: trust the Lord in all circumstances, survive off the Word of God, and find comfort in the Lord alone. And it, gosh, it was sweet. God has been faithful and I have seen the nearness of Him throughout not only my college years but post-college as well!
Upon college graduation in May of 2016, the Lord led me to participate in the Post-College Residency Program at Christ Chapel Bible Church. Approaching the program, I was excited to grow in my understanding of the Lord. However, I did not understand just how much I would be stretched, challenged, and forced to grow in my faith through our weekly theology class. Before the program, I was satisfied with living in naivety of tough theological topics such as soteriology, eschatology, etc. When those topics were brought up amongst family and friends, I ignored the conversations – not to be spiteful but because I did not see the need to study these topics … however, in God’s graceful yet wise way, He forced me to come face-to-face with these difficult concepts through the Post-College Residency Program. And, He did it for my good and His glory. Of course, He did this in love – not because He wanted to scare me from my faith but to fall more in love with who He is and how He operates. The more I learn about who God is, the more I realize that I do not know. And I absolutely love this concept. We can never know enough about our Heavenly Father, He is a deep well that will never run dry.
After completing the program in May of 2017, I was hired on staff as the Life Stage Two Director of Shepherding. And, what a sweet gift this role has been! Daily I must beg for divine power from the Holy Spirit to invade me as I encourage and counsel young women … He must become greater and I must become less if any good will flow from me. To me, it is so life-giving to sit across from a hurting woman and encourage her with the gospel – the good news that never ceases to fail or meet us in our times of trouble. I absolutely love to use my life experiences as a testimony of His steadfast love to other women. Through experiencing the darkness of depression, I have a story to share of God’s provision and faithfulness in my darkest hours. I want to encourage women with similar struggles to believe, not just in their head but their heart, that God is for us not against us. Of course, this belief can only be birthed out of an act of the Holy Spirit, but I am honored to be apart of His work here at Christ Chapel through using my story for His glory in others’ lives.