Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Quick Trip through Hebrews!

I know only one thing .....


Philippians 1:6 .... Listen up! This is a mighty promise from God!!!

"He who began a good work in you WILL carry it on to COMPLETION until the day of Christ Jesus!"

Hebrews 13:5 --- "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Words of Jesus, ya'll!)

Because ....

Hebrews 13:8 --- "Jesus Christ is the SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, and FOREVER!"

Therefore ....

Hebrews 12:1-2a --- "Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, LET US THROW OFF EVERYTHING THAT HINDERS and the sin that so easily entangles (I think trials can count here too!), and LET US RUN WITH PERSEVERANCE the race marked out for us. LET US FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS, the author and perfecter of our faith."

Let's make this our goal this week, friends! No matter how rough the trials ... God is faithful! Keep runnin', Mical! Keep fixin' your eyes on Jesus, Mical! Keep! Keep! Keep!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Getting to Know You ... M&Ms Style! :D

I'm at it once again! Yay for blogging! :) ......... Remember my Patrick the Persimmon posts? Well, in one of those posts I mentioned a "get to know you" activity with M&Ms, and I'm gonna make up my own rules for the same thing right here! Join me! It'll be fun!!!

Getting to know you ... M&Ms style! :D
Okay. So here's the deal .... head to your local gas station or grocery store and pick up a bag of milk chocolate M&Ms. Pour 'em all out, and separate them by color. Now! For each yellow, you're gonna share your favorite meals of all time (if you could eat anything in one meal, what would it be?). For each orange, your favorite Bible verses. For each blue, your favorite places (to travel to, to hang out, whatever). For the red, share your favorite things about winter (activities, scenery, places to go, whatever). Brown - some of your all-time favorite things. Green - some of the greatest blessings in your life over the past 6 months. ... Okay, I think that covers 'em all. .... Now, go! You MUST get a hold of some M&Ms for this task. You can't cheat! Eating the M&Ms as you go is part of the fun!

Alrighty ... here we go! :D
3 Yellow M&Ms:
- Steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, french fries, and sweet tea!
- Cheeseburger, french fries, and sweet tea!
- Baked potato with all the fixin's - meat, cheese, butter, ect., and sweet tea!
(Are ya'll seeing a pattern?) ;)
15 Orange M&Ms:
- Psalm 73:26 -- "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
- Psalm 16:11 -- "You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are pleasures forever."
- Psalm 62:7-8 -- "My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."
- Joshua 1:9 -- "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
- James 1:2-4 -- "Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you will be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
- James 1:12 -- "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."
- Philippians 1:6 -- "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
- Romans 8:28 - "And we know that God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
- Psalm 37:4 -- "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of Your heart."
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 -- "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
- Isaiah 26:3 -- "He will keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in Him."
- John 15:5 -- "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."
- Hebrews 12:1-3 -- "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perefecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
- Psalm 32:8 -- "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."
- Revelation 21:4 -- "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
15 Blue M&Ms:
- New Zealand! I want to hike through the gorgeous sites!
- Bogalusa, Louisiana .... where I took the best mission trip ever! Wanna go back and help out out with the hurricane relief.
- Mountains of Tennessee ... I wanna take pictures of mountains all day long!
- Every other place with mountains that I've never been to!
- Ireland ... nice sites there too.
- All of the tiny states ... Rhode Island, New Jersey, Vermont, ect.
- Virginia to see my friend, Rachel!
- India ... My pastor talked about orphanages ... I want to help out in the orphanages there.
- China ... I'd like to see all of the underground churches and witness the millions who are coming to Christ.
- Turkey Run .... I REALLY want to go hiking!
- Brown County .... it's where James and the gang go to hike sometimes ... I've never been.
- Mammoth Cave ... I wouldn't mind going on another cave tour with Ben and the gang. :)
- Grace Fellowship (my second church home)
- Calvary ... yes, I'm there every Sunday morning ... but I want to be there right now!
- University of Southern Indiana ... I want to visit my brother, see his apartment, and watch him run track sometime before the school year is over!
7 Red M&Ms:
- Snow angels!
- Breathing really cold air :)
- Drinking hot chocolate with friends
- Sitting next to a warm fire in some remote log cabin (a dream of mine, I guess) ;)
- Christmas!
- Watching snow fall
- Scarves
10 Brown M&Ms:
- Smiley face fruit snacks
- Goldfish crackers
- Music
- My Bible
- Stickers
- Friends
- Church
- Campfires
- The sky
- Photography
6 Green M&Ms:
- Ben Nilsen
- Jesus talks with Alex Ehrhardt
- E-mails from Judy Nilsen
- God's word
- My youth group kids
- Mammoth Cave Trip

Okay ... that was long and yummy! Go get some M&Ms, and join the fun! Love ya'll! :D

Friday, November 28, 2008

God, Grant Me ....

Just a quick thought for today. :)

I was walking in my hallway upstairs on my way to my bedroom this morning, and I noticed a scroll laying on my mom's big "pirate chest," as I like to call it. She decorated our upstairs with beach/ship kinds of stuff. We have a huge chest (it looks like there's tons of treasure inside ... too bad it's just dust) with a captain's wheel and a tiny ship and fish net set up in our hallway upstairs, and on top of the chest lies a scroll with this written on it .....

"God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

It's a simple saying ... a well-known saying .... and this scroll is gathering dust on that huge pirate chest .... it's been there for years. So why did it grab my attention today? Well ... there are a couple of things in my life that I really want to change. I want to change them so badly that I ache on a regular basis. I am continually surrendering them over to God, but there is still an ache. I'm sure the ache won't be gone until they are completely surrendered. That's usually how God works. ;) ... So yeah ... serenity ... I had to look that word up. It means "calmness of mind; peace." Lord, give me peace to wait on your timing ... not to try and change things ... but simply wait on your timing and live out my calling to the best of my ability while I wait.

Are you waiting on God for some things? Do you want to change some things in your life right now? .... If so ... join the club! ........ But let's keep trusting God for those things instead of worrying about 'em. Let's keep surrendering them. Each and every day.

I was just reading tonight in 1 Peter .... 1 Peter 5:7 says .... "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." ......... Whatever it is you want to change .... give it to Jesus. He cares about you. He cares about the condition your heart is in. Keep trusting Him. Keep giving everything to Him. And just take it one day at a time. That's what I've been doing and will continue to do ... until I get it right! Or until Jesus comes back! Whichever comes first! ;)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Family Thanksgiving in Ohio :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Thanks Day is coming to an end .... aren't you glad that our thanks is NOT!? :D

I traveled with my mom, dad, and brother to Cincinnati, Ohio today for our annual family Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. It was a good time! Seeing family is always fun. :) .... Just wanted to share a quick run down of the highlights of my day and ask you to tell me about YOUR Thanksgiving. What did ya'll do???
Some of the highlights ....
- I had a great conversation with my grandma and great aunt about the lessons God's been teaching me over the past year. It is such a blessing to have family members who love Jesus and are diligent in following after the Lord. That was a blessing I ended up thanking God for throughout the day. And it was especially great seeing my great aunt, Peggy. She has been one of the greatest encouragers of my extended family. Every time I see her, she tells me that I am beautiful and that she is proud of me. Those words are powerful! They most certainly empower me!!!
- Hay ride with some of my 2nd (or 3rd or whatever) cousins. They are the kids of my mom's cousins ... so what does that make them in relation to me? They are all in middle school ... MY FAVORITE AGE GROUP! So it was fun to chat with them about fun and middle school things ... bond with them a bit ... and just sit and laugh with them. :)
- Eating waaayyy too much turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy!!!! Because that is what you're supposed to do on Thanksgiving! ... Overeat and NOT feel bad about it! Yes!!!
- And my favorite part .... walking out into a huge cornfield by the house, breathing in the crisp, fall-heading-into-winter air and watching the sun set. :)

The sky is one of my favorite things in the entire world! The ENTIRE world!!!! I got some great pictures, so I'm gonna share 'em with ya'll! :D

And lastly, one thing I confirmed today is that I LOVE being outside! My woody places post .... my posting pictures of trees and clouds and sunsets .... my obsession with bonfires .... that is only the beginning! Once Ben and James help me figure out how to start my own fire, I will be set! I can just grab a tent and head for the woods ... and just LIVE THERE! ..... At the very least, I can be prepared for my 3-day silence and solitude trip that I am taking over my spring break this next semester! Ha ha! ..... Anyway! Here are some great pictures! God really knew what He was doing when He designed the sun to set each night and rise each morning! Aren't you glad He decided to share this masterpiece with us??? I am pretty much stoked about it!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spiritual Thought Buddy #2

Well, while I'm at it .... I better tell you about another friend God has been using in amazing ways in my life lately. I love bragging about my friends ... can you tell? .... That, along with bragging about Jesus, is the entire goal behind this Fun and Faithful Tales blog!!!!

Alex Ehrhardt. Yep .... she is my #2 spiritual thought buddy, a great inspiration, and becoming one of my most cherished friends. I've only known Alex since July ... and we have only been growing in our friendship over the past couple of months .... but our bond in Christ has strengthened our bond of friendship in extraordinary ways! It is amazing what kinds of friendships come out of a foundation in Christ! Really! .... I really haven't spent much time with Alex if you get right down to it. We've met for a Jesus talk maybe 3 or 4 times .... maybe. But again ... our Christ foundation links us. And in linking me to Alex Ehrhardt, God has drawn me closer to Him. We have been sharing deep God concepts through our "book" e-mails for several weeks. We both know how to write a lot, so our e-mails are so long they could be books! :D .... And like I said in an earlier post about Alex, when she sits down to talk with me at our Jesus talks, it is like Jesus is sitting next to me, pouring Himself into me. She is so full of Jesus! And her Godsong causes my Godsong to sing all the louder! She is an amazing inspiration. She is younger than I am, and yet she grasps the things of God so deeply ... way more deeply than I do! And she's so good at loving. She loves to love other people. .... She's just a spectacular person! And I am excited to be growing in my friendship with her! I think I can stick her next to my bosom buddy, Emily Karas, and say, "I want to be just like you two when I grow up!" :)

Thanks for all your love, encouragement, and spiritual support, Alex! Love ya, friend! :D

A "Thank You" the day before Thanks Day :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!! Thanks Day is tomorrow. Aren't you excited? ... I am excited to spend time with family I don't get to see but once or twice a year. And we're traveling to Ohio to see them. :) I like traveling! Where are you all going for your Thanks Day??? :)

Well, in light of this thanks season .... I've been thinking extra hard about the things and the people I am most thankful for. It is not hard to think about ... I am more blessed than I know how to say! God is ALWAYS faithful. He is ALWAYS pouring on blessings ... even when we can't see them quite as well. But He has been pouring more blessings into my life over the past several months than ever before! (Remember all my posts about my pain? Ha! God used that pain to bring the greatest blessings too! Wow! How does He do that!?) .... So ... I wanted to share one of the things I'm the most thankful for right now ... or, I should say, the PERSON I'm most thankful for .... :)

Ben Nilsen. Yep ... have you ever gone through a time in your life in which God knew exactly the kinds of people to stick in your path to encourage and uphold you??? God's been using several people in my life lately, but one friend who has helped me in a way that no one else could is my friend, Ben. :) And since this blog is all about fun and faithful tales about FRIENDS ... about Jesus .... and about lessons learned and learning ..... I thought I'd share some Ben blessings with you all. :)

One thing I really appreciate about Ben is that he is one of my very few guy friends whom I can just sit and chat with and it not go down the awkward road. Guy-girl friendships are often so complicated because ... well, because of just that ... one of the friends is a guy; the other is a girl. I think you know where I'm going with this. ;) .... Anyway! Ben and I don't have to worry about any of that. He's my brother. I'm his sister. We are friends. We build each other up. And I LOVE that about my friendship with Ben. We've both talked time and time again about how thankful we are that we don't have the normal guy-girl friendship drama that others have. .... Guy-girl friendships are important. They are very good and godly when they are done right. And from a girl's point of view .... the friendships I have with my guy friends are so important to me because they make me feel safe. God has given me scads and scads of friends, and several of those friends are godly guy friends. I am so blessed! And Ben is one of those guys who makes me feel safe and loved. :) I can't put into words how thankful I am that Ben and I are friends who can simply be that ... friends ... minus the drama.

Another thing I'm thankful for in my friendship with Ben is something I wrote about waaayy back during the Cookie Cutter Friend posts ...... I'm thankful that he is my #1 spiritual thought buddy. :) I go to him for all of my deep thoughts about God. .... Just yesterday, I called him to ask for some resources about Existentialism because a girl from the writing center asked to get together with me next week to talk about Christianity and Existentialism. Crazy, I know. And Ben was right there to offer support and any help he could give, as well as drop the books off at my house this weekend. What a blessing! He is always offering spiritual support. :) And what's more ... he pushes me to think about things that are over my head. The more time I hang out with him, the more I realize how little I know about God, about the world, and about the human heart (a few things he and I have been talking about and have been trying to understand better). And it's good I realize this! It's an amazing push in the right direction! Thank you, Ben! :) .... In addition to spiritual support, he is also an emotional rock in my life. He is the most emotionally stable person I know. I'm a fairly emotional roller coaster kind of woman at times, so I can't express how much I need an oober stable friend like Ben to keep my head above water. ;) He is constantly reminding me that he's praying for me ... and always asking me how I'm doing, as well as, "is that the official version or the real version?" .... He is genuine. He cares. And his consistency, stability, and support have been one of the greatest blessings and strongholds of my life over the past several months. He's one of those people God knew I needed to help me through several heartaches ... and whom I needed to help me grow further in my current spiritual growth spurt. It is amazing to watch God do great things through the people He places in our lives, isn't it?

.... Well, I could keep going about Ben .... but I better stop here. I'm sure you all have turkeys to put in the oven, potatoes to peel, and thanks to give. ;) Hope your Turkey Day is great tomorrow! Be sure to thank God for all the amazing people He has placed in your life! I only mentioned one person in this post ... but I have a long list of people to thank God for! I know you do too! Happy Thanks Day, all! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Waiting on the Lord ....

I meant to look up this song a while back right after I went to see the movie, Fireproof, with Ben and some of the gang.  Amazing movie!  Amazing message!  For married couples .... for all Christians ... for non-Christians.  Go see it if you haven't already!

One of the most powerful parts of the movie, for me, was a song.  "While I'm Waiting."  It nearly brought me to tears in the theater.  And it is one of my new goals.  The lyrics say it all, so I won't write some long rambling about it. ;)  Just read these lyrics, and if you get a chance .... go to google, type in "while I'm waiting, fireproof" and watch/listen to the music video.  This song is amazing!  Let's keep waiting on the Lord!!!!

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

New Bookstore in Town!

Hey, everybody!  Just a quick announcement! :D

My mom's new store is open!  All of it! ..... The Porch ... located just a few houses east of Calvary Chapel in Danville, across from Beasley's Orchard!  2411 E. Main St.  Check it out sometime!!!  She is open Tuesdays from 10am to 7pm, Wednesdays from 10am to 4pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm.  And I think she has extended hours the week of December 1st! ..... It's a fairly new place, and it has tons of great books!  She has books for all ages and for people of all walks of life!  Homeschool curriculum, kids/youth novels/picture books/ect, art books, music books, collectible books, historical books, adult Christian fiction/nonfiction, and books open to the general public - mysteries, westerns, self-help/medical/sports/animals/memoirs/all kinds of stuff!  Also!  She has games and gifts!  She has fantastic teas ... and cookies!  Free tea samples and cookies! ... What is better?  Stop by her store sometime!  Buy some books.  Try some of her fine teas.  The Ginger Peach is my favorite so far!  Actually ... I'm drinking it right now.  Yummy!

I'm in the process of writing an article for her store!  Look in the paper ... maybe you'll see it someday soon! ..... Stop by!  She loves to see familiar faces .... and business is slow .... so she just loves to anyone!  Ha ha!  It's a great place!  Stop by sometime! :D

Woody Places

I'm posting again ... whatta ya know. ;)

Judy recently posted about violin music.  She said that hearing the sweet strokes of a violin is one of the gifts God uses to draw her into His presence the best ... violin music takes her to a place where she can simply bask in God.  She asked her readers to think about a similar gift in their lives ... so that's what today's posting is all about. :)

What makes me feel and know God's presence the best??? ..... Well, I didn't have to think too long .... I think it's an easy answer for me. .... There are a few places ... a few people ... that help me know God better ... but the place where I can sit and bask in God's presence the best is in the middle of the woods.  Any woods.  My best times in the presence of God are when I go hiking with friends or when I sit and simply listen to the sounds of nature.  In my Mammoth Cave posting, I mentioned the "devo. rock" .... and my devotions were so good that day because I got to sit on this huge boulder and be silent before the Lord.  The only sounds were the wind rustling the trees, squirrels running through the leaves, making them crunch, birds chirping, and the soft voices of my friends far off in the distance.  I sat on that rock for several minutes ... silent ... trying to hear from the Lord.  I love the feeling of cold, fall-heading-into-winter air when I take deep breaths.  I love the sound of crunching leaves.  I love the sound of the wind blowing the tree branches.  And I love to see the beauty of God's creation.  He knew what He was doing when He created hills and huge boulders and tall trees and brown and red and yellow and green leaves that crunch when you walk through them.  God's creation is one of His greatest gifts to us.  Bask in it sometime .... it helps you know Him better!  It helps you know His character and His love for us better.

Hiking through woody trails with friends .... or sitting in silence, with nothing by God and His creation ... that is where I know God's presence the best. :)  What about you?  I'm gonna ask just as Judy did. :)  You don't have to post it anywhere (although you should!) ;) .... but think about it. :):):)

Have a great day, everybody!  And go drink some hot chocolate! :D

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Yummy Donut and No More Zombie

Alright .... so I was eating a yummy donut on my way to a writing center staff meeting this morning, and I started thinking. It was all because of the yummy donut too. Some "food for thought!" Whatta ya know! ;) ......... This donut was made up of some kind of sugar bread ... AND it had sugarful icing on top ... with sprinkles. (Yes ... sugarful is a word - a Mical word, at least - and yes ... I was loading up on the sugar. Sorry, James.) ;) ...... Like I said earlier ... It was a really good donut ... and its yumminess factor spurred on thoughts about Jesus. Yep. :) The question popped into my head .... "How can I get Jesus to taste this good?" Of course, Jesus DOES taste good, and it's not because I make Him good .... I just meant ... How can I make Him taste good in my life? How can I really savor Him in my life? .... Like I was savoring that yummy donut. I got to thinking about Psalm 34:8, which says, "TASTE and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."

TASTE the Lord. How do you do that? I was talking to my friend, Ben, last night .... and we got to talking about the crazy stuff God's been allowing into my life over the past several months. He was asking me about how I've grown in the Lord through all of it .... and I brought up the word "communion." I was telling him about how my time with God has NOT be another thing on my "to do" list lately. It's been real communion with God. I knew what I meant by this word when I was talking to Ben about it last night, but I just looked it up in the dictionary, and Webster defines communion as .... "fellowship; interchange of thoughts or interests; a state of giving and receiving." These are all good definitions, but I really like the last one ... "a state of giving and receiving." That's what real communion with God is. So often we get caught up in other things during our "quiet" times, our times for just Jesus and us. (Did you notice that quiet is in quotations? ... It is difficult to really get quiet before the Lord. How often do you do it? I know I have trouble.) I was describing to Ben how my time with the Lord before all of the trials was me saying my two bits ... then God saying His two bits. It wasn't really a conversation ... it was more like an awkward .... hmm ... I can't think of the word I'm trying to get across. My quiet times were kind of zombie-like. Zombies (yes, they are not real ... but work with me here.) can walk around and perform "normal" tasks ... but they are not engaging in any of those actions. They don't even know they're doing them. It's just something they do to get by. ....... Okay ... that was a lame example ... but it was the first thing that popped into my head. I was a zombie quiet time Christian before all of these trials were thrown in my path. I read my Bible every night. I prayed. But I wasn't engaging in those activities that produce growth and joy and ... LIFE! So I wasn't growing in my faith ... I wasn't living in joy ... I wasn't being filled with the life of Christ. I was a zombie ... walking around, maybe performing Christianly tasks (reading my Bible, praying, ect.) ... but completely oblivious to the importance or the depth of those tasks. I wasn't engaging in my prayer and devotions. I wasn't engaging myself in getting to know God better. I wasn't communing with God.

TASTE and see that the Lord is good! We know that God is good. We've been taught that all our lives. We've said it countless times. ....... But to TASTE that He is good ... to SEE that He is good. How do we do that? ........ No more zombie ... that's how. To taste the Lord, we must eat His word. We must spend time with Him. We must LOVE HIM MORE THAN ANYTHING OR ANYONE! Yep! I said it! MORE than all things!!!! ....... This is what God's been pressing upon my heart for the past 3 or so months. Our primary calling is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. We can glorify God in tons and tons of ways ..... but the foundation is a right relationship with Him. And we experience a RELATIONSHIP with Him by tasting and seeing that He is good ... by COMMUNING with God. Think about that for a little bit. It's a bit deeper than you think. Or as my pastor says, "That's better preachin' than you think." ;)

Huh. This post took a crazy turn early on ... one I wasn't expecting. I was planning to simply tell you all that I ate a yummy donut today and that it made me think of Psalm 34:8. .... And somehow I got to talking about communion and ..... what? Zombies??? .... Wow. The side note/tangent Queen strikes again! ;) Okay ....... well, I'm done with my ramblings. At least for now. ;) Have a great weekend! Allow God to teach you something new this weekend .... keep growing in Him. :) I'm off to hang out with my youth group kids! Sweeet! :D

Outdoors ... ah, yes!

Hey, all! :) Short and swweeet post .... I love pictures. I'm a photographer ... not a very good one. But I really like taking pictures. Pictures of friends ... pictures of outdoorsy stuff. Yep ... that's what I like. So .... I have tons of pictures of my friends all over my blog ..... but not many outdoorsies. Here are some shots I took today ... I really like clouds and trees ... and even leaves. Ha ha! I love pictures ... and those who like the outdoors will probably enjoy these almost as much as I do. ;)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"L" in T.U.L.I.P.

Wow! My brain is getting a workout! Don't you love that feeling?! Especially when it is a result of grappling with the things of God! Swweeet!!! Alright! Well ... that said ... just warning you that I'm about to spill some thoughts about a controversial issue within our faith. You can agree. You can disagree. But think about what GOD'S WORD says rather than whether or not YOU think it is in or not in God's character. This is deep stuff! The deepest stuff I've ever thought about! ......... But when some of your best friends are Ben and James Nilsen - it is inevitable that this will come up in conversation. :) I love those guys!

A couple weeks ago, I went to Mammoth Cave with the Nilsens and some other fun folks. I rode down with James, Kim, Elise, and Elise's friend, Drew, and we got to talking about Calvinism. Yep ... I know you're afraid! A crazyily controversial issue! .... You just mention Calvinism or something with one of the points in it (... I think James and I like to talk about predestination the most ... ha ha!) to Ben or James ... and you better be ready to get deep! ;) .... I forget how we got talking about it, but I started asking what the 5 points are (because I always forget) ... and after James told me a little about each one, I started asking about limited atonement. James said this is the toughest point of the 5 to grasp. ........ Well, I've been thinking about it a bit since then ... trying to wrap my mind around this crazy concept. I didn't get too far ... but I'm a bit farther than I was, so that's fun! .... I've been trying to e-mail my thoughts to James this week ... but he's an oober busy guy. I'm gonna post my last e-mail to James here .... to get some thoughts out about some of this mind-boggling Calvinist stuff. It should be fun ... and only a little scary. ;) I hope ... if some of you don't believe anything about Calvinism .... you will still be my friend after this post. ;) ..... Here it is!

Alright, James .... I'm still grappling with this. Ha! Ha!

I googled TULIP this morning, and here's what I found about limited atonement. Here are the scriptures this site gave me (the site is ... in case you were wondering). ;) .... Matthew 26:28, John 10:11&15, Matthew 25:32-33, John 17:9, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 5:25-27, and Isaiah 53:12. I was also given 1 John 2:2 on another site, which threw my mind into a tailspin! Sheesh!

The site talked about how Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross (His shed blood) is sufficient for everyone but how it's not efficacious for everyone. Efficacious. Big word, I know. I looked it up ... and it means: "capable of having the desired result or effect; effective as a means, measure, remedy, etc." Some synonyms for it are: effectual, efficient, productive, active, capable, effective, forcible, potent, powerful, prevalent, useful, valid. Yeah ... I gave you the whole list ... don't you love copy and paste? ;) .... Anyway ... I was glad I looked it up. ... Jesus' sacrifice was more than able to take care of everyone's sins, but it was not effective in taking care of everyone's sins. Does that sound right? .... I can't fully wrap my head around this concept ... but I think I am getting there (a little). Going back to unconditional election .... since God chose the people who would come to know Him, it sort of makes sense to me that Christ's sacrifice was not effective for those who were not chosen. 'Cause if Christ's sacrifice was effective for everyone, then everyone would have been chosen ... right? Does that make sense? .... So I think I can grasp that part of it. But then there's the question of ... why did God only choose certain people? ... That goes back to the second point, unconditional election. Ha! Wow! This is crazy! And another thing ... backing up a bit .... the verses this site gave me don't really prove anything about limited atonement. They are pretty vague. In Matthew 26:28 and Isaiah 53:12 --- these verses talk about Christ's blood being shed for "many." Vague. And the sheep and the goats talked about in John 10:11&15 and Matthew 25:32-33 ... how do we know the goats are those who were not chosen? Couldn't they just be people who are not saved? Granted, the whole limited atonement thing says the unsaved are the ones who were not chosen (those whom Christ's sacrifice was not effective for) ... but these verses in and of themselves don't prove that the goats are those whom God did not choose. ....... Wow! Crazy stuff.

I'm not presenting this to you or asking you about it because I am trying to disprove the "L" in TULIP. If point #2 is valid (unconditional election) ... and I believe it is (even though I think it's nuts!) ... then point #3 (limited atonement) makes more sense to me. But I don't think the verses that this website provides help support this point. I think it comes down to if you don't believe unconditional election is valid, then you can't believe limited atonement is valid. Unconditional election is what affects/brings about limited atonement.

Ahh! It still doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me ... but I'm gonna trust that God knows what He's doing. ... I know this is long .... and I know you're busy ... but I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on this if you get some time .... even if your reply is a month down the road. Reply when you can ... if you can. :) I hope your week is going well! Praying for you, friend --- everyday! :D

Bye for now,Mical :)

So what do you all think?? Don't hesitate to leave your thoughts! And let's keep grapplin' with the things of God!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fasting .... Any Thoughts?

Alrighty! I'm back at it already! ;)

I've been thinking a lot about fasting lately. Ever think about this aspect of being a follower of Christ? I'm not sure why I've been thinking about it so much ... but I have a lot, on and off, for the past several months. I have a few thoughts about it .... and a few questions. And I thought I'd share them with you all and see what YOU guys think. :)

Matthew 6:16-18 talks about fasting ... briefly. But it's definitely there, and we shouldn't avoid or dismiss it. It says not to parade around shouting "I'm fasting! .... I'm abstaining from something I really enjoy so that I can be more spiritual!" Although this is a good goal (take out the spiritual and insert "so that I can be more like Jesus!" ... this sounds better!), God doesn't want us to let everyone know about our fasting excursions. ... Perhaps I've been thinking about this lately because a little over a month ago, I sent out an e-mail letting everyone know I was fasting from e-mail/blogging for a couple of weeks. I was a little apprehensive about letting everyone know ... but I think in that case, since e-mail is one of the biggest ways I stay in touch with a lot of people, it was alright. I didn't want everyone to think I was ignoring their wondrous e-mails. ;) ..... Perhaps that's why I've been thinking about it. And this leads me to some questions .... Is it okay to mention that you are fasting (from whatever) when it comes up in conversation? If it affects other people ... is it okay to mention it? .... Matthew 6:17-18a says, "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men." After looking at verse 16, I think the context concerns "parading," like I mentioned earlier. God doesn't want us to boast about ourselves. "Hey, look at me! I'm being spiritual! You should think I'm great because I am great!" .... Umm ... no! God doesn't want us to boast in/about anyone but HIM.

This leads me to some more thoughts ... we shouldn't fast just so we look more spiritual. We shouldn't fast just to say we fasted. I've struggled with both of these things in the past, but the more I meditate on WHY God commands us to fast, the more I want to try it out. ... Did you catch that? God COMMANDS us to fast. Yep ... check out Matthew 6:17 ... "But you, WHEN you fast ..." He didn't say "if." He said WHEN. That is something I've been grappling with for quite some time. Fasting is hard work. Fasting is all about giving up something that you enjoy/desire/even need, at times. And since scripture says "when you fast" rather than "if you ever get around to it," that means I have to find ways to fast. .... I think many of us think about food when we think of fasting. Growing up, that's what I always thought of - food. Food is a great thing to fast from ... whether you cut it out altogether for a short time (a day, a week, ect.) or if you cut out certain foods for a time .... like I've fasted from sugar or carbs before ... even gotten as specific as cutting out sweet tea for a whole week! I know ... crazy! ;) .... So fasting doesn't have to be just starving yourself. It can be a fast from anything.

My only suggestion ... make it a sacrifice of some kind. Fasting is all about focusing our attention on Jesus. With all the craziness and business and selfiness we possess in our lives (in our very beings!), it is a tough task to focus all our energies on Jesus. Fasting is a great tool in helping get our focus off of ourselves and back on Jesus! :) And my last thought .... yes, fasting is about sacrifice ... it is about obedience ... but it is also about prayer! This is the part of fasting that I really struggle with. Pathetic, I know. Abstaining from some sort of pleasure (or we can make it plural - pleasures!) leads us to depend on Jesus. Even if it's something small like not drinking sweet tea for a week ... when I crave sweet tea and know that I'm committed to NOT drinking it until Sunday night at 5:03pm (or whatever), I am pushed to talk to God about it. Yep, even something as small as that. It is amazing how our desires for the things of this world (whether they be godly or not) push us in the direction of Jesus ... at least hopefully they do ... and I mean in the "I need Jesus to help me overcome" kind of pushing towards Jesus. So when I desire sweet tea (or whatever I'm fasting from), my desire for that sweet tea leads me to desire more of Jesus. And so I pray. And prayer is the most essential part of fasting. Prayer draws us closer to Jesus. That is the part I don't spend enough time doing. ... I guess I'll have to keep fasting from things until I get it right, huh? ;)

Well ..... I think those are all my thoughts ... at least for now. I can't get the "WHEN you pray" out of my mind ... so that's why I'm posting about it. :) And thought I'd ask for ya'll's feedback. What do you think about fasting? Do you ever fast? What do you fast from/have you fasted from? What do you think about the context of Matthew chapter 6 in relation to fasting? .... If you get a minute or two, leave me a post - I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! :)

Alrighty! Gonna check my e-mail from Ben and then start on some homework! Have a great day, everybody! :D

Sunday, November 16, 2008

5 Things I'm Thankful For Today :)

Ha ha ha ha ha! Another post!!!!! #7 for this weekend alone! I think I've made a new blogging record!!!! ;)

Well, earlier today I sent out another "Randomness with Mical" e-mail .... and I forgot to put my answer in the e-mail. "Randomness with Mical" is an e-mail I send out once a week (or once a month ... or once ever couple of months. Ha! I kind of forgot about it for awhile). I ask a question - something out of the blue (random) ... and I await replies. :) I love getting to know people better ... that is the #1 goal of "Randomness with Mical." :) .... So ... I sent out a question today. I usually include my answer, but it slipped my mind. The question is a great blog post ... so here ya go!

Randomness with Mical (Part 8) --- Question of the Week ............

In light of the Thanksgiving season .... What are 5 things you are thankful for today?

My answers:
#1 - My youth group girls .... SoZo is the ONE area of my life that God is being clear about - "Mical, I want you HERE." I love hanging out with young people. I love hanging out with my girls!
#2 - My brother came home from USI this weekend. We worked on a paper for his English class together ... had lots of laughs ... it was just a really good time with my little brother! :)
#3 - I only have 2 full weeks left in this semester!!!! This week - full week of school ... next week - Monday and Tuesday and then I'm off for Thanksgiving break! Sweet!!! ... The following week - LAST full week of classes! Then - a few papers/finals - done with the worst semester of my college career on December 10th! Waaahoooooooo!!!!
#4 - My friends. I don't think a girl could be more blessed. Actually, I'm gonna be bold and say ... it's impossible for someone to be more blessed than I am in the friends department. I have the most godly, most consistent, most amazing friends in the world. I am incredibly thankful for each of them!
#5 - The promises I've been finding in God's word during this crazy transitioning stage of my life. I have gone through the toughest challenges of my life over the past year ... but I've also experienced the greatest joys of my life! And God's word has been THE Rock of my life over the past year. The promises found in God's word blow me away! Psalm 16:11, Psalm 62:5-8, Psalm 73:23-28, Romans 8:28, Philippians 1:6, and Revelation 21:4 .... just to name a few! Our God is amazing!!!! And His word is the foundation of my life!!!!

What are YOU thankful for today? Make a list (yep ... I like lists! They are pretty amazing tools of worship!)

Lastly ..... It's the very beginning of the week! God has great things in store for each of us! Check out Psalm 16:8-11 every morning this week. That's my challenge for you! That's what I'm gonna try to do! Wanna try it with me??? :) .... You don't have to choose this passage of scripture ... God's just been using these verses, especially verse 11, in my life lately - reminding me that even though God isn't saying "Mical, this is where I want you to go. This is what I want you to do." He's not giving me any specifics whatsoever ... but He IS giving me His word! And it is sustaining my life .... right down to my core! ...... So that's why I suggest this passage. But whatever you do .... meditate on God's word this week! Let's grow closer to our amazing Savior and King! He is the song of our hearts!

Have a great week, my blogger friends! ......... Much love to you all! :D

The Adventures of Patrick and the CC Ladies!

I am obsessed with blogging. I'll admit it. This is my sixth post in 3 days. I think I can officially label myself as a "blogger addict." (I could be addicted to much worse things, don'tcha think?) .... Alrighty ... well for my sixth post in the same weekend, I'm finally gonna post about a little guy that I introduced you to about a month ago. .... Yep, I'm talking about Patrick .... Patrick the Persimmon, whom I met (and helped create) at the Calvary Chapel Ladies Retreat last month. I've been meaning to post about him for a long time and haven't gotten around to it. Too many ideas rolling around in this brain, I think! ;) ... I was talking to a super great lady at my church this morning, Kelly Atkinson, who led the Calvary Ladies Retreat last month ... and she asked about my blog! Yeah! She said that someone told her about my Patrick post (Sweeet! Word is getting out about my blog!), and she wanted to check it out. So ... that clenched it! From that moment on, I was determined to finish my story about Patrick - today! So ... without further ado ... this is what Patrick and the ladies of Calvary Chapel did at the CC Ladies Retreat back in the middle of October. :) Get ready! This'll be the best thing you see all day! :D

This is where Patrick and the ladies spent the weekend ... a "quaint" little camp down in Oolitic, Indiana. :)

In case you haven't met Patrick (in case you missed my introduction of Patrick a month ago) ... This is Patrick the Persimmon ... the short version is that Patrick was created in a game that the CC ladies played on the retreat. Yep ... he is a persimmon with screw legs, pebble eyes, a pine mohawk, and he flies around on a wild turkey feather.

This is Patrick with our coolio speaker, Michelle Lampton. She is an extraordinary woman who has overcome crazy obstacles and all the while kept her eyes and heart stayed on her mighty Jesus! She talked to us about being "Beautiful Warriors" for Jesus ... and reminded us that no matter how tough our lives get, God is calling us to "stay at our posts." We are NOT to abandon the talents and callings and responsibilities and people God has placed in our lives! Great messages that weekend - fo sho!!! :D

Patrick and our worship leaders, Cheryl and Tiff! :) .... Worship must've been pretty impactful for Patrick because on the last morning of the retreat, someone wrote a ransom note for Patrick. No joke! Someone STOLE Patrick ..... but one of the ladies found him later with a note attached to him that said, "Take him back! He won't shut up! He keeps singing 'Jesus loves me' over and over and over!" So Patrick was returned to us. .... Yep. God can even impact a tiny little persimmon man.

We had lots of down time during our weekend getaway, and there were prayer stations set up all over the camp. Many of the ladies took several walks of silence and solitude throughout the weekend ... and some stopped at the prayer stations to focus on specific aspects of prayer. ..... Patrick also took some quiet time away with God, to read his Bible and pray. ;)

There was lots of time to fellowship on the retreat. We chatted for hours, played games together, broke up into small groups after sessions, and did "get to know you" activities. Patrick even made some friends ... Gilbert the Grape and Mr. Smiley. :)

We played a "get to know you" game on Friday night after everyone arrived. The idea was to take a handful of M&Ms, and for each M&M color, we shared different things about ourselves. Green M&Ms were our favorite foods, red M&Ms were our hobbies, orange were places we wanted to travel, brown - embarrassing moments, yellow - our favorite movies, and blue was anything scary/exciting/fun fact about ourselves that we wanted to share. .... And believe me! There were some pretty scary stories ... mostly about .... poop. ..... And you think I'm joking! I have never heard a group of people (a group of LADIES!) talk about poop as much as we did that weekend! No joke!!!!!!! We were worst than Jared Wade on a good night!!!! It was hilarious! (So much for being "ladies," huh?)! Ha ha ha!

It's too bad Patrick ended up eating all of his M&Ms ... we didn't find out much about him.

One of the yearly traditions at the retreat is cooking meals together. Saya, a super fun, mom-kind-of-figure in my life, and I cooked some amazing cinnamon french toast and tons of yummy sausage on Saturday morning. Patrick was pretty excited about cooking too ... except when we cracked jokes about persimmon pudding. ;)

Patrick and I agreed that sitting by the fire with all the ladies was one of the best parts of the weekend. It smelled like a campfire in the retreat lodge all weekend! (My favorite smell in the whole wide world!) .... It was ggrreeat! :D

Ha ha ha! Patrick the Persimmon. He was definitely the highlight of the ladies retreat for me. Heck! He's a persimmon man! If that isn't entirely hilarious and completely laid back (two things I LOVE being!), nothing is! And what made it so great is that every single lady on that ladies retreat ... all 17 or so of us, got a kick out of Patrick! EVERYONE joined in on the fun! Like I said earlier ... Jenny Freouf, a fantastically hilarious and fun woman from Calvary, decided to plot a kidnapping just to get me all worked up! Patrick was my little buddy, afterall. ;) It was hilarious! I think I can post the ransom notes here .... let me see. They are too hilarious! ...........

And the kidnapper pleading with us to take Patrick back ...........

It was entirely too much fun!!! Everyone on the trip played along with this crazy-fun ... well .... craziness! It was a blast! We laughed together! We worshipped together! We learned more about God together! We ate together! We talked together! We loved on each other TOGETHER! ..... Togetherness! ........ It was a really great time!

And many of you who read this blog .... you are Grace ladies. Don't ya think you all should join us next year??? With all the coolness of the amazing Grace ladies and the awesome Calvary ladies ... maybe we could make new fruit buddies next year! ;)

ENTIRELY TOO MUCH FUN! ..... Yay for Patrick the Persimmon and the Calvary ladies! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some More Wisdom from Kung Fu Panda ....

Ha! Yet another post! This one's a short one though - I promise! .... I was watching Kung Fu Panda again today while I was eating my lunch, and the scene I finished my lunch with had some more simple wisdom from that old and wise Oogway. Although this is not from scripture, Roger Shuman, it is good stuff. ;) Ha ha! Here it is ....

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present."

Short. Simple. Completely true. And whatta ya know ... something God's been teaching me lately (yep, He's been teaching me a lot!) .... living each day to the fullest - counting it as a gift from the Lord.

And while I'm at it! ... Let's throw in a perfect "tie-in" verse! :) .... Colossians 3:23 --- "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men."

So let's do that today! No matter if you're excited ... discouraged ... bored ... whatever. Make the most of today!

This post is as much for me as it is for any of you, my fellow blogger friends. :) Let's keep living each and every moment for Jesus! :)

....... Still striving after that goal .... love you all!

Mical :)

Stolen Post from Alec :)

Alec - yep, the super cool guy from "a little bit of nothing" - posted a simple but amazing post a few days ago ... and I'm gonna steal it! You should too! It helps us get to know each other better! Love you all! :) ..... Man! That crazy "enter" button. There is something wrong with my computer! I know I keep going on and on about it ... but I think it is becoming one of my biggest pet peeves. Posts that run all together are just bluck. Bluck to look at. Bluck to read. Bluck! .......... Okay, I'm done. This is a happy post ... so let's make it happy! ;) --- Stolen from my buddy, Alec Nilsen --- THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY (Senses style!) ------- Sight: Showchoirs performing (I love singing and dancing - to watch and to do it myself!), Sunsets, stars, clouds, mountains, smiles, watching James lean forward (often over his knees) when he finds something really funny. Touch: hugs from Emily - it feels like Jesus is wrapping His arms around me when that girl hugs me :), handshakes from my "big brother," Adam, the feel of my feet in my comfy crocs. Smell: campfires, grilling out hamburgers, red roses. Taste: sweet tea!, steak, potatoes (baked, fried, mashed - I just like potatoes!) ... yep, those are my favorite. :) Sound: David Phelps singing (the best singer in the world) ... my buddy, Jon, singing (2nd favorite singer in the world) ... when Adam, Jon, Jason, and Uncle Mike sing quartets at church, listening to Ben and James sing - I'm really not kidding, guys! I love it when you sing! (Did you notice that I like it when people sing???) ;) .... And lastly, sitting in the middle of the woods, in silence - listening to the wind blow through the trees, squirrels jumping through leaves, making them crunch, birds pecking and chirping (sounds from my devotional rock on our Mammoth Cave trip!). ............... Oooo, that was fun! Great idea, Alec!!!


So my friend, Alex (over at Rant, Repose, and Ruminate) and I have been e-mailing back and forth for the past few months ........ it has been a huge blessing in my life. It is amazing to have a someone to sit down and talk with - through e-mail or in person (we've also been meeting here and there for, what I like to call, "Jesus talks.") When you sit down with Alex, it's like Jesus is sitting down right next to you. She is pretty amazing. :) She is striving after Jesus with all that she is, reading His word, meditating on His word, striving to love Him with all she's got! She is so full of Jesus that when she talks to you, it's like Jesus is talking to you. At least ... that's what it feels like to me. That's why I call our chats "Jesus talks." :) ........ Alright. That was a side note. I am the "side note Queen!" :D ....... Back to where I was headed --- in her last e-mail to me, she encouraged me to make a list of 50 blessings. She mentioned to me how she's been trying to dwell on God's blessings in her life ... and she encouraged me to do the same - by making a list of them! :) Of course, that is a marvelous idea ... so that's what I set off to do! And needless to say ... I'm finished, and I'm gonna post 'em here! :) ......... and my "enter" button isn't working again. Man, that drives me crazy ... so this list is all gonna run together. Blah. But God is still good! Even when blog posts that have no spaces drive me crazy! These are in no specific order ... just wrote 'em down as I thought about 'em. :) .......... 50 BLESSINGS ---- #1: Starbucks friend dates with Ben #2: Jesus talks with Alex #3: Laughing with James #4: Higher Ground #5: Football with the Cooks/Adamsons gang (for those who don't know them - they are my favorite family in the whole world - they go to Calvary with me!) #6: Handshakes from my "big brother," Adam (a part of the Cooks/Adamsons gang) #7: Bosom Buddy Hugs (Emily is my #1 favorite hugger!) #8: Los Rancheros dates with Tiff and Hannah #9: Hanging out with Jared and Maggie WADE (Wow, that's still crazy and fun to me!) #10: Movie nights with Justine #11: E-mails from Judy (they are empowering and always brighten my week!) #12: Blogging :) #13: Getting picked on by Jason (another big brother figure in my life - from the Cooks/Adamsons gang) #14: Uncle Mike's big, belly laughs (yep ... another member of the Cooks/Adamsons gang) #15: Sweet tea ... it's one of those comfort drinks :) #16: My Malibu - my parents are amazingly generous! #17: Tutoring in the IUPUI Writing Center #18: Family Fun Nights at Calvary #19: Calvary Chapel and Grace Fellowship (my TWO church families!) #20: SoZo (my youth group) #21: Kids!!! #22: My dad's gas card - he is paying for half of my gas this semester! Wow! #23: Sunsets #24: Campfires #25: String cheese .... yep, it's the simple things in life. ;) #26: "Yo Mike's" from my brother, Wes #27: Watching my mom's perseverance #28: My dad's godly and upstanding example #29: My crocs ... comfiest shoes in the world! #30: Having God's word in my hand everyday and wherever I go! #31: Freedom to read and pray and express my love for Jesus everywhere I go - freedom! Freedom!!! #32: Getting a rub on the arm from Shelley #33: Hearing Pastor Mike call me Junior #34: Questions from Kim Svoma - I love talkin' to that lady! :) #35: Rachael Miller's laugh - love it!!! #36: I'm saved by GRACE - NOT by what I do/say/think --- praise the Lord!!!!!!!!! #37: I have TONS of godly friends! #38: My college-age small group at Calvary #39: Christina Adams "looks" - read my post called "One of my greatest joys" to find out what I'm talking about :) #40: Music!!! #41: My house - not only do I have one, but it's the best house in the world! ##42: The foundation I have from being homeschooled until 7th grade and then going to a really great public middle school/high school #43: Phone calls from my buudy, Ben, just to see how I'm doing :) #44: People posting on my blog #45: Photography #46: The sky - it does such cool things! #47: Mountains #48: Taping encouraging notes to my desk - it's covered!!! #49: Interacting with people on campus #50: "Hi's" from complete strangers ............... How is God blessing you today? You don't have to post it on your blog ... but make a list of blessings! It is a blessing in and of itself! :) ....... Have a great day, all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kung Fu Panda Analogy

Alright! I've got an amazing analogy to share! (Again ... Alex and Alec ... aren't you proud?) ;) ....

Have you ever seen the movie, Kung Fu Panda? ...... I've been wanting to see it for a long time and hadn't gotten the chance until last night. :) .... My mom bought that movie for me yesterday, so I popped it into the DVD player as soon as she got it home. ... I love animated shows and Jack Black was the voice of Po, the panda in the movie. He's hilarious. I was pretty excited to finally be watching it! Well ... there is an amazing analogy wrapped up in this movie. As I was watching the scene I'm gonna tell you about, my mind started freaking out (as it often does), and I actually watched the scene again to catch the whole story. It is amazing! Enjoy!

Okay ... here goes! ........ There was a scene in the movie where this old, wise turtle (Oogway) was talking to some endangered specie (?) of panda (Shifu) ... I don't know what he was exactly ... these animated shows are always throwing funky creatures atcha! But anyway ... he was a kung fu master in the movie. Shifu was panicking because some evil tiger (Tai Lung) had escaped from prison, was on his way to destroy the village, and the "chosen" warrior (the only one who could supposedly defeat Tai Lung) was a fat, clumsy panda (Po) - so Shifu went to the old and wise Oogway for guidance. They were standing under a peach tree ... and after Shifu got done freaking out, Oogway warned him of his "illusion of control." Oogway said, "Look at this tree. I can't make it blossom or bear fruit before its time." .... Shifu got upset ... (the "how dare you say I don't have control" kind of reaction). He hit the tree, and the peaches fell to the ground. He said, "I can control when the peaches fall." He then threw a peach in the air, did some cool, kung fu mega chop (something cool that got the pit out of the peach) ... landed on the ground, kung fu chopped a hole in the ground, and stuck the peach pit into the hole. He then said, "I can control where the seed is planted. How is that not control?" (See his issues with control???) ... Then ... Oogway simply said, "But no matter what you do ... it will be a peach tree. You may want an apple or an orange, but it will be a peach tree." ... Shifu cried, "But a peach won't defeat Tai Lung!" (The peach, referring to Po). And Oogway said, "Maybe it (the peach) can if you are willing to nurture it ... if you are willing to believe in it." "But how!?" Shifu cried. "You must tell me how!!" ... "You just need to believe," Oogway said.

Amazing, huh? ....... I'm sure you can find several analogies in this scene, but the one that sticks out to me the most is something God's been dealing with me about ... imagine that. ;) ..... We all want control. We want to control everything that goes on in this crazy life. And sometimes we think we have control. ... In reality, we can do whatever we want to ... we can try to fix things, try to make things go our own way ... but it never happens our way. We may want apples or oranges ... but in the end, we're gonna get a peach tree! In the end ... God's plan is going to prevail. .... Oh my gosh! I just thought of another connecting idea!!!!! Hold on! Let me get my Bible! ........... It's just like Proverbs 19:21 - "Many are the plans of a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." And sometimes we think that a peach (whatever it is that God is putting before us right now ... whatever we are doing/experiencing right now) will not "defeat." We think that what we are going through right now will not help us get to where we want to be in the future. Then God says, "Grow in your walk with me. Trust in me." ... Just as Oogway told Shifu to "nurture the seed and believe." When we grow in our walk with Jesus ... we are on our way to getting that peach tree (which is God's perfect plan and path for our lives). We can ask "How!? I've gotta know how! And now!" ... just like Shifu did ... but God's gonna say " just trust me" every time. He doesn't lay everything out for us because He wants us to learn to trust Him completely ... and for the long term (forever). Isn't that amazing?! What an amazing analogy!

Keep trusting Jesus! That peach tree is on its way! :D

Dancing with Jesus

Hey, all! :) .... Rachael Miller sent this forward to me. I'm usually not a fan of forwards, but this analogy is amazing! (Yep, another analogy, Alex and Alec! Aren't you excited!?) :) ...... I love to dance. I need guidance. So this picture is an amazing blessing from a friend, from the Lord! Hope you enjoy it!

Dancing with Jesus

"When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing 'dance' at the end of the word;
And I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
And everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
Both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
Or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender, willingness,
And attentiveness from one person.
And gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw 'G' I thought of God,
followed by 'u' and 'i'. 'God, 'u' and 'i' dance.'
God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life and once again,
I became willing to let God lead.
My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
And mercies are upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God, as God abides in you.
Dance together with God,
Trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Marvelous Mammoth Memories

Alrighty!!!!!! Gonna tell you about my marvelous weekend! :)

First off ... I know the picture of the cave is lame. I'm sad to say this was the best cave picture I took all weekend. Sheesh. The cave was too dark (imagine that!), and I couldn't get good pictures. But that's alright. I'd never been in a cave before, so I thought it was pretty cool. And the company was among the best a woman could have! :)

So ... as you've all guessed by now .... I went to Mammoth Cave for the weekend with some of my best friends. Ben called me up last week, asking me if I'd want to join him and some of the gang on a weekend trip to Kentucky. And I'm so glad I got to go! It was one of the best times I've had in a long time! And I wanted to share some of the highlights with you all! :)

Like I said ... I'd never been in a cave before, so the trip down to the cave on Sunday morning was pretty great. It was amazing to see yet another MARVELOUS, God-created masterpiece! God is really good at creating things, isn't He? And at one point during our cave tour, the guide shut off all the lights in the cave ... and we stood in complete darkness. I had never been in darkness that ... well ... dark! I kept blinking .... my eyes were looking for even the tiniest glimpse of light ... somewhere! Anywhere! But there was no light to be found. It was amazing!!! And then the guide lit a match, and it was amazing how much light it provided. One tiny match. Wow. ....... There are tons of analogies there ... but I'll leave Alex to the cool picture stories and analogies. ;) ... An understatement --- The cave was a pretty cool experience.

And I also mentioned that the company was great. :) ........ The group included the entire Nilsen family, the Beards (from GFC), a few people who work with Ben, Brittney, Elise and her friend, Drew, Kim Svoma and her nephew, BJsquared (as I like to call him), and me. Some pretty amazing people in that group. I had the most adorable kids in the world crawling all over me, giving me hugs, holding my hands all weekend. Isn't that picture of Barrett and the Beard kids to die for? ;) ....... That's what I love about kids. They don't have bubbles. Ha! I can't believe I'm saying that. Just months ago, I would've been afraid of those kids. I have a BUBBLE. I've never been a real touchy person ... but I'm growin' out of it a bit. I must be! Because I LOVED every minute with the kids! (Makes me want to work in kids ministry even more than I already do!) Time with Barrett, Mason, Corrin, and Silas was one of the best parts of the weekend. I'm so glad the kids came along! :)

Another highlight .... James. Yep! He sang and DANCED most of the weekend. At least during the car rides. Actually ....... it was amazing! I have never heard the Nilsen guys sing as much as they did this weekend. Saturday night, around the campfire, BEN LED THE SONGS! I'm not kidding! He just busted out singing. And Alec and James busted out the tunes throughout the night too. It was great! I love it when people sing! They can be the most tone-deaf person ever or right up there with David Phelps - I just LOVE IT when people sing! ....... And James and Kim danced to Grits and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. half of our trip home. It was one of the highlights of my night!

Yet another joy .... I walked with Ben for close to half of the cave tour, and that was definitely one of the best parts of the trip for me. Ben is one of my closest friends, and chatting with him is one of my all-time favorite things to do. He and I have been growing in our friendship a lot over the past 3 or 4 months, and he's one of the few friends I can sit and talk to for hours on end. .... We obviously didn't talk for hours in the cave, but it was great to chat with my buddy, Ben! We talked about serious things, happy things, random things .... and we had a good time goofing off together ... as we often do. Good times!

I also got to spend extra time with Judy and Alec this weekend. :) Two people I don't get to see all that often or talk to much. It was great to chat with Alec around the campfire ... listen to him try to lead "Open the Eyes of My Heart" about 8 times on Saturday night .... no one followed him. Ha ha! And for some reason, he was trying to light a candle while we were sitting around the fire on Saturday night. He kept calling it his "night light." He was gonna sleep right next to the fire pit, so I don't know why he thought he needed a night light. Ha ha! And he couldn't get it lit! He went through an entire box of matches and lots of being made fun of in the process. It was hilarious and way too much fun! ........ I also got a hug from Judy. Judy hugs are some of my favorite hugs. :) And during the cave tour, we talked with Ben about how we are emotional roller coaster women. It was fun to laugh with her about that ... and hear all of Ben's deep explanations of why we are that way. Ha ha! It was a fun time!

Lastly, I walked down the hill next to our campsite and found huge boulders!!! I don't know what it is about huge rocks ... but I get excited about them! If you've ever been to a big place called "The Chimneys" in Tennessee .... now there's a GREAT place for huge boulders! And they are for climbing on!!!! That was my first experience with huge rocks ... and I have gotten excited about them ever since! Ben and James and I talked for half the cave tour about wanting to climb on all the huge rocks in the cave! ...... Okay .... back to the big boulder I was talking about .... I found these huge boulders down the side of the hill, and one of them turned into a great devotion spot. :) Sunday morning, after breakfast, I grabbed my Bible and my 382 prayer journals and headed for the "devo. boulder," as I like to call it. It was huge! And was shaped just so I could sit comfortably on it and read my Bible. I had a really great devotional time that morning ... read Psalms 18 and 19 ... wrote in my 382 prayer journals (I really only have 3 ... but that's a lot! Might as well round up!) ... and sat in silence for a few minutes, breathing in the crisp, November air and listening to squirrels run through the crunching leaves. Sitting in the middle of the woods is one of my favorite places to be ... so it was an extra special devo. time. :)

Okay ... I know I've made this super long. I don't know how to keep things short. Sheesh! ;) ..... It was a great trip! If you've never been in a cave, go! If you've never camped with some of your best friends, do it! Makin' memories is way too much fun! Do it sometime! And soon! :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hannah! :D

Hey, everybody!!!

Hannah Baker (one of our fellow bloggers) is celebrating her 21st birthday today!!! Head on over to "Handing Him the Pen" and leave her a birthday message!

Love you, Hannah! Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, November 7, 2008

More to the Bucket ....

Wow, guys! I totally forgot my NUMBER ONE Bucket List item!!!! (I was writing this Bucket List at school yesterday, and I forgot some of them ... give yourself a break, Mical.) ;)

#1 - Take a 3-day trip of silence and solitude! (Yep, Ben gave me the idea. What a surprise.) Thanks, Ben. :)

#2 - Visit my sponsored child. Ruth Flores. She lives in Bolivia. :) (Are we still takin' that trip, James?) :):):) James Nilsen and I have talked about taking a trip to see our sponsored kids. I've got one in Bolivia ... And he's got one in Africa and one in ...... what is it? .... Haiti! I think those are right. So we're gonna take a trip someday! ;)

#3 - Read all of Mere Christianity and understand at least 10% of it. Ha Ha! I'm not joking. It's way over my head. I'll try to read it again one of these days. Out of all the C.S. Lewis books I want to read, Mere Christianity is at the top!

I think that's all for now. I'm sure I'll be adding more to this list eventually. And hopefully, over the years, you will hear me checking things off my list! :D Have a great weekend everybody! .... I'm going to Mammoth Cave with some folks! :)

P.S. I guess I spell bar chords wrong in my previous post. It should be spelled barre chords. ... Don't look at me. Talk to Roger Shuman about it. Ha ha! Thanks, Roger. ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Bucket List

So in light of my belief that homework is overrated ... I am putting it off for yet another blog post. (Can you tell the senioritis is kicking in? ... I'm always foregoing homework to blog. Ha ha!)

I've been spending lots of time away from home lately ....... School from 8am to 8pm four days a week, Higher Ground on Friday nights, my college-age small group at Calvary on Monday nights, church on Sunday mornings, youth group on Sunday nights, and extra hang out time with friends every spare moment I get .... I've got a full schedule going! .... And I don't get to see my parents very often. I LIVE WITH THEM! And I don't see them very often. How pathetic. So .... all of that said .... I set up a Mical-Mom and Dad night on Tuesday evening. :) We ate pancakes and watched "The Bucket List." I wasn't too impressed with the movie itself, but it got me thinking about some things I want to do before I "kick the bucket." ...... I know ... I'm young. I don't plan on dying for awhile .... although I wouldn't mind going to see Jesus! :D .... But yeah ... I most likely won't die for a while. I've been striving to honor my parents all these years .... so I think I'll be one of those "live long and prosper in the land God's given me" kind of people. I plan on living until I'm at least 100! .... I guess that means I'll have plenty of time to accomplish all the things on my Bucket List! :) So here's a (growing) list of what I'd like to do before I kick the bucket! :)


#1 - Hike through New Zealand!!!

#2 - Run a mini marathon.

#3 - Read through the Bible at least 3 times .... once in my NIV, once in a ESV, and once in my (WIDE-MARGIN ... yes, I'm just a little excited about my new Bible!) NASB.

#4 - Learn to play bar chords on my guitar. (And rhythm might be nice too!) ;)

#5 - Take swing dancing lessons!

#6 - Marry an oober godly guy!

#7 - Homeschool my kids.

... And I'm sure the list will grow over the years. You all should make a Bucket List too! And share it with ME! :D Have a wonderful day, all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008







Yep! Amazing lyrics to an amazing song!!! "Your Love is Amazing" has always been one of my favorite worship songs. Sure, I like the rhythm and all, but the words are super great!

God has been doing a lot in my heart and mind over the past year, and He has been bringing both the biggest challenges and the greatest joys that I've ever experienced! Isn't it amazing how God does that? He'll bring crazy hard things ... yep, He wants to grow us! He loves us too much to leave us the way we are! Isn't that .... oh my word! Isn't that just BEYOND amazing! And what's even more AMAZING is that He brings JOY along with the pain!!!! He lets us go through tough things ... sometimes things that we don't think we can bear! But He always brings joy! Amazing joy! And it all flows out of His amazing love for us! He instills His mighty love in our hearts! And ya know ... sometimes we just can't contain it anymore. ..... At least I hope that is something you've experienced in your Christian walk. :)

God's been filling me up this week, and it's been fun! :) .... It's been a regular week. Nothing too exciting has been happening. I get up early and get to school by 8:30 each morning .... sit through classes - some dull, some over my head, some interesting - I endure long days (classes all day and tutoring in the writing center all evening) ... get home around 8:00pm. Then do it all over again. Nothing too amazing. ...... But ya know? There's joy in living for Jesus. I've got some glitches I'm workin' out .... but I've got a GODSONG RISING UP IN ME! My Godsong has been sitting quietly beneath the surface at times and bursting forth at other times.

Like yesterday .... I was walking on campus .... I think I was heading to my sociology class .... and all of sudden I started laughing. Yep ... I know. Not a surprise. I laugh all the time anyway ... and at things that aren't funny most of the time. Ha! But seriously! I don't usually just burst out laughing out of nowhere. But that's exactly what I did. It was a beautiful day ... I was half way done with my classes for the day ... and I was walking .... and then smiling .... and then laughing! It was one of those Godsong moments! :D Too much fun!

I got to thinking about how great God's love is for us .... how it is the most GINORMOUS thing in our lives. Jesus loved me enough to DIE for me! God loves me enough to have a PLAN for my little life! God loves me enough to give me JOY! As I was thinking about this mighty love from our amazingly mighty God, "Your Love is Amazing" popped into my head .... specifically the part about this "Godsong rising up in me!" Amazing! .... It was just way too much fun! I got tickled in Jesus! I got tickled about His love for me! It was a great moment ..... and a really good afternoon. :D

We serve a mighty, mighty God! Aren't you glad He loves us? Aren't you glad He loves YOU!!??? Dwell on that thought today. No matter what this crazy thing we call life is throwing at you today ... hang onto Christ's love for you! He loves you! He really, really does! :D

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I think I'm gonna start scrapbooking again! I've taken some amazing pictures lately, and I've gotta get out there for people to see!!!!! Anyone want to join me? ;)

Pick a time and a place!!!!!!!!!

My Big Sister!

Well, I think the e-mail/blog fast I took a few weeks ago is helping ... I haven't been blogging 4 times a day like I used to. ;) I haven't been checking my e-mail quite as much either. Hopefully I'll continue to prioritize!

And speaking of prioritizing .... I have a special friend I've been meaning to write about and haven't ... so I'm making her a priority today! :D

I think everyone who has siblings will know where I'm coming from with this post. Siblings are an amazing blessing!!! Our biological siblings are great .... but what about those people God puts in our lives to be our "other" brothers and sisters. Ya know what I mean? God gives us amazing people outside of our family to ADD to our family. So yes ... I have my little brother, Wes. He's my only "real" sibling ... but I have "other" brothers and sisters too. I have a couple of big brothers ... even a second mom and dad .... but I only have ONE big sister!

Yep! My friend, Tiff, is the only friend I've thought of as a sister. She just has those big sister qualities .... wise, loving, a good listener, gives advice, looks out for her "little sisters," fun-loving .... and it's hard for me to explain, but she's got a way of supporting people that screams "big sister" to me! She is really good at supporting the people she loves, encouraging them to follow their dreams and give it all they've got, and letting them know that she's behind them no matter what. She's helps them feel encouraged and more confident. That's how I've always felt around Tiff. I know that no matter what I choose to do with my life, she'll be right there to support me through it, love me through it, and encourage me to keep going even when I feel like quitting. And it's funny .... she doesn't even have to say anything. She's steadfast. And it just flows from her. Every hug, every "hang out time," every conversation .... I just know she supports me. Just like a big sister. That's what big sisters do. They are there to pour out love and wisdom and support. And Tiff is so good at all of that!

I remember hanging out with Tiff several years ago .... it was early in our friendship, and we had never hung out just the two of us before .... we tried to get a bunch of the girls to hang out, but we were the only two who could get together. We ended up going to Culver's in Plainfield. We probably shopped around or drove around or talked .... but I remember we left our outing as "bonding buddies." And it was a name that stuck. I still have cards that Tiff has written me signed "your bonding buddy." It was one of those days I'll always remember --- a day out with my big sister bonding buddy!

And last month ... Tiff and I went on the Calvary Ladies' Retreat together. Friday night ... while all the ladies were upstairs laughing and playing games ... Tiff came downstairs to see what I was up to, and we ended up chatting for close to an hour. We talked about my discouragement with my major .... how I feel like I'm wandering aimlessly ... how I feel like God isn't directing me much at the moment .... and Tiff simply listened and offered support. She reminded me that I'm almost done with school .... and then we got to talking about a college graduation open house! I was bummin' out about not wanting to be in school .... about not knowing what I'm going to do with the rest of my life .... and she got all excited about an open house! She gave me a a huge boost that night! ...... I'm gonna graduate next December .... so we started planning a Christmas theme for it! She even thought up the idea to have people write an answer to "What should Mical do with her English degree?" as their "admission" to my open house. And then we talked about having them write their ideas on an ornament and sticking 'em on a Christmas tree!!! What a great idea!

It was a sweet time with my big sister, Tiff. She knew I was down about my future, and she found something to get excited about for me. She's always been really good at that. :)

I've had lots of friends over the years. Cookie Cutters .... the Cooks/Adamsons gang .... the "Fab Five" .... but I only have one big sister! :D