“Following My Heart With Music”
Though I can’t quite recall when I met Mary Morgan Corbitt, I know that my life is richer with her in it. Her contagious Midwestern smile makes me think of long days in a sunny field where nothing feels rushed. No wonder, she’s cultivated a habit of gratitude and praise despite her ongoing vision loss.
Meet Mary Morgan Corbitt.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I have one sister who’s a year and a half older. Our family traveled every summer since my parents were both educators. We’ve visited 49 of the 50 states. After my parents retired, they were able to complete the final state – they drove all the way to Alaska!
Marriage and Children
My husband, Adam, and I have been married for 18 years and we have two beautiful daughters: Maya (13) and Morgan (11). We live in St. Charles, outside St. Louis. I met Adam at a local bicycle shop. He loves cycling and we’ve enjoyed cycling together for many years. Now we ride a tandem! He teaches at one of our local elementary schools. We taught together in the same school for nine years. Our daughters attended there as well so there were years we would all ride to school together! We enjoy traveling, hiking, biking, Cardinals baseball, music and exploring life together.
Coping with Vision Loss
I have worn corrective lenses since I was ten. I remember being hyper sensitive to light and needing sunglasses even when no one else complained about the light. But five years ago, at age 37, I was diagnosed with an eye disease I never heard of before called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).
I researched and learned all I could, read every book, article, clinical trial opportunity, visited at least 10 different doctors, received genetic testing, and became very knowledgeable in how to create the ultimate green power smoothie – sure to provide the best nutrition to my failing retinas.
I did so much research on RP, I overwhelmed myself. I didn’t know a soul who had this diagnosis and everything I read was very depressing – with a grim prognosis!
The first two years, I continued life as normal, except then I understood ‘why’ I felt like the metal ball in a pin ball machine when walking in crowds, or navigating in the dark or in unfamiliar settings. I understood why my being clumsy wasn’t always related to lack of sleep. I couldn’t believe (and still can’t) people see the things they see. I am shocked when my husband tells me he can see his own lap, or me sitting next to him, or one of our daughters sitting on the floor.
Two weeks before my 40th birthday, my eye specialist told me my driving days were over as my peripheral vision had decreased so much.
A new normal began for our family because then it affected me and my family daily – not just a bump or collision here and there. Instead, my independence was greatly impacted!
My husband is amazing! Not once has he ever complained about taking on all the driving, errands, pick ups/drop offs etc. Even when I once made brownies with olive oil rather than regular oil (yuck), he didn’t complain about making another grocery store run. He just grabbed his keys and said, “So maybe I’ll get two boxes of brownie mix, just in case.” I love his sense of humor!
My parents had musical talent. My mother used to play the cello and still plays piano beautifully. My father loved to sing old Irish tunes as well as musical numbers and classics. We often sang together around the piano in our living room. I sang in school choirs and was involved in many musicals throughout high school and college.
Music has always spoken to me, and it’s where I seek solace. I love to write songs and pour out my thoughts and stories on paper. I’ve written and recorded a children’s musical CD titled Watermelon Socks.
I’ve been singing locally for the past 20 years – wedding receptions, private parties, the ‘hired band’ gigs. That served as a great way to build my confidence and fulfill my love of music.
But after my RP diagnosis, things changed. I joined our church praise band and fell in love with the lyrics – the messages, the stories behind the songs. I felt closer to God and learned that He wants and desires to have a relationship with me. A beautiful, personal relationship directly with me! I felt this in the music and knew I needed to continue to glorify Him through song. I left the party band, and directed my attention to praise & worship!
Changing Vision, Changing Goals
I taught school for eighteen years. For the last five years with RP, I was determined not to let it affect my work. I learned to avoid those embarrassing collisions, especially by scanning the landscape before I proceeded to walk.
The last couple of years, I realized the increase in ‘classroom accidents’ were directly related to RP – falling over chairs, classroom tables and even children. I knew things were changing again with my vision. In June 2015, my eye doctor confirmed I was legally blind with about 10 degrees of peripheral vision.
This prompted deeper conversations at our house. My husband and I had many late night, heart-to-heart chats about goals, purpose and God’s calling. I decided to fill out early retirement paperwork.
How I defined myself felt foreign. If I wasn’t a ‘teacher, ‘ who in the world was I?!! What was I meant to do? I was just 42 years old!! NOT retirement age. So I decided to name it, “RE-WIRING” rather than retiring. This helped me keep a positive outlook on it!
God’s timing is amazing! I met with our pastor because I needed to talk all this through and seek spiritual guidance. I shared my love for music and ministry with her and said I felt God had placed the desire on my heart to grow in this area. But, I also felt that maybe it was my own desire and not really a ‘calling.’
The pastor said she believed God was calling me into music ministry. We prayed and I left feeling hopeful and certain that God would direct my steps. A week later, she called me into her office, excited to share a new idea on her heart. The pastor asked me to begin worship leading for our Saturday night service!! WORSHIP LEADING!
Dealing with Doubt
Although I was an experienced teacher – a higher education nerd – two Master’s Degrees, certifications to teach multiple levels, I felt completely uneducated! I told the pastor I wasn’t ‘trained’ in this sort of thing. I wasn’t ready. I would need so much guidance. Surely she knew others who could musically accompany themselves better, know how to pray out loud better. I had every excuse under the sun!
God Supplied My Needs
And then, just as God does, a National Worship Leader Conference was being held in Kansas City, Mo the very next week. Guess who received the ‘extra ticket’ our church happened to have!!??? It was life changing and I loved every minute of it!
I’m willing to go where God leads me. He continues to present doors of opportunity for me to step out in faith. Being a worship leader has been such a beautiful blessing! I want to continue following opportunities to glorify Him, to share the truth that lies in His love, grace, and peace. Through music ministry I hope to offer encouragement and hope. My prayer is to continue supporting ministries, which empower people to grow closer to God during life’s trials.
Can you share a life-changing decision you’ve had to make that caused you to be uncertain? Did you follow your decision or put it off? If you did, how do you feel about it now?
View Mary’s video link here:
To follow Mary Morgan-Corbitt or learn more about Watermelon Socks Children’s CD, visit Amazon.com or send a private message to Mary through her email address or Facebook page.
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