Monday, December 6, 2010

The Eternal Perspective Adventure Begins ...

I've decided to write a book!

This is a fairly abrupt decision, so we'll see if I really follow through with it. But I've put "write a book" on my bucket list. And as I think more and more about this idea of an eternal perspective, not only do I WANT ONE(!!!), but I also want to WRITE about it! I want to keep track of how God is at work in me concerning this HUGE lesson of gaining an eternal perspective.

I spent a day, earlier this year, sitting on the beach of the most southern tip of Lake Michigan, reading my Bible and going through a devotional book, when the book asked me to write a "life statement." As I hashed out several ideas surrounding the scripture "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2)," I decided that my life goal is to one day learn to consistently see the world and everything that goes on in it with God's eyes. A pretty attainable goal, right? I'm not asking for too much, am I? ;) Hahaha! Riiigghhhhtt! ... Haha! But I sure do want to try. I want my entire life to be one big constant lesson - I want my life to be all about Jesus first of all ... but within HIM, I want my whole existence to be about honoring Him with an eternal perspective.

And what an adventure it will be ... especially, when we think about the definition of "adventure." I looked it up, and Webster defines adventure as ... "a bold undertaking, in which hazards are to be encountered and the issue is staked upon unforeseen events; a remarkable occurrence in one's personal history; a stirring experience." ... That's EXACTLY what a thriving relationship with God and His perspective are!!! It is stinkin' DIFFICULT to live for Jesus and to see everything the way He does. We must be willing to deny ourselves and lay down our desires, our needs, and our very LIVES in following hard and daily and completely after Him! Nothing we do can be seen or known ahead of time. We have to step out in faith, with the eyes of Christ, expecting hardships but realizing the joy that comes from them. And finally, we will undergo the most fulfilling experiences of our lives as a result.

So 2011 and beyond ... here I come!
A day by day adventure into the eternal perspective I long for!

EP 2011

I'm back! And with a new adventure!!!

It sure won't be a blog project for every day of the year ... ha! What a flop that was! At least the "every single day" part. I'm excited to get bloggin' again though! .... I really want to spice up my life somehow ... and specifically, my walk with the Lord. I've been in a real rut for several months. Just living for myself. Not doing anything "too bad" ... but just not reading my Bible, not praying, not doing much with God at all, really. Well, hmm ... I've been a Sunday Christian for a while. Bluck! And it's been awful!!! I've been incredibly impatient with my after school kids, slacking with SoZo preparations, reading my Bible only 2 or 3 times a week, falling into sins that I disgust ... just been out of step for a long time.

AND I'M SICK OF IT!!!!!
So I'm trying again. I'm working to read my Bible and talk with God every single day. That's where it all starts. Once I begin to really nurture my relationship with Jesus, everything else will start to fall into place.
So now ... how do I begin again?
I want an adventure. Something big! I'd love to travel to New Zealand or rent a cabin by one of the Great Lakes or take a cross-country road trip. But the funds are very low ... especially after my dance lessons. So I guess I'll start there. Dancing is really adding some spice to my life! Especially the TANGO, the MAMBO, the RUMBA, and the CHA CHA! :)
Adventure #1 - dance, dance, dance!!!
How do I make the rest of my life an adventure?
After school ... hmm ... I could blog about each of my kids. Pay more attention to what I like about each one of them. Work on being patient with them ... now, that's an adventure!!! ;)
SoZo ... I could work on trusting God with my position in the youth group, at Calvary, in my life!! Accepting and really getting excited about where God has me.
Hey! I have a phrase for these "adventures." ... ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE (EP)!
Ooo, yes!!! My life goal. My journey. My adventure!!! :)
So ... I'm almost a month early, but I want 2011 to be my first year of the ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE ADVENTURE!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Final GoG ... a couple months early

Well, I am beyond behind with my GoGs once again. I don't think I kept up with 'em for more than a week straight this year. Sheesh. And although the year isn't over yet, I've decided to end my glimpses of grace project early. So, let me post one last GoG to finish out the year ....

I may not have posted something every single day, but I sure did get a lot out of this project. God's grace is such an amazing thing! So much more awesome than we really understand. Without it, we'd all be destined for HELL. So praise You, Jesus, for Your MIGHTY and AWESOME and NEVER-ENDING GRACE in our lives!!! ... Grace is beyond awesome ... and it was such a joy and a wonder to find glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary things of life ... the simple things. And the project has helped me see life in a whole new way. Just think ... grace starts with God giving us another day ... simply waking up to our alarm clock everyday is GRACE. And each of us can find grace in really everything we do and experience. Let me challenge you, as I will challenge myself, to never let a day go by without finding grace in at least one part of your day ... and then thank God for it. Heck, you could even blog about it!

And let me leave you with an amazing passage all about God's grace - it's probably in my top ten favorite passages in all of scripture. Read it. Dwell on it. Let it change you.

Titus 3:3-8
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His GRACE, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It'll Be (more than) Alright! (Posted once before, but SO good!)

Wow. I'm ready to give up.

Have you ever felt that way? Ever felt like life is just too much sometimes? Like you want to pull your hair out and burn all your school books and skip all your classes and ditch all your jobs and forget about all of your commitments and throw a temper tantrum and cry till your heart hurts worse than it already does and laugh at all of your "problems" and "pains" and dig yourself a hole and never come out? Yeah ... me neither. ................ Ha ha ha ha!

Well, my mind feels like ALL of these things at the moment, but my heart is telling me to chill out and rest in God's peace. Ya know, if God wasn't so incredibly and entirely faithful, I WOULD have given up by now! Life is hard sometimes, isn't? Whether you've had all of your heart's deepest longings put on hold (yep, I'm saying put on hold, instead of lost - aren't you proud of me?!) or you have lost a loved one or you're battling depression or you're feeling hopeless or any other countless things that seem to go wrong in this life. There is hope! Hope in God's MIGHTY faithfulness! ... God has been pouring on His faithfulness ... pouring it into my life for so long! And I find myself griping and complaining - like tonight - I got home from a super long day at school and work and just spilled it all out for my mom to hear. I'm sure she was tired of listening long before half way through, but thank God she just listened ... and then said "it'll be alright." .... "It'll be alright." ... Those are such simple words, but don't you want to hear that every now and then? ... I do!

Tonight, I want to shout out a message of God's faithfulness to you AND TO ME! IT'LL BE ALRIGHT! ... Actually, it'll be MORE than alright! God promises that He will take care of us. And His EVERYDAY, NEVER-ENDING faithfulness reveals that He DOES take care of us - each and every day - each and every moment - with each and every breath of our lives. Some verses that God's been using in my life lately to reveal and instill His faithfulness are the following. Read these now. Read these later. Soak 'em up! For they are LIFE to your whole self!!!!

Psalm 73:25-26 --- "Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the STRENGTH of my heart and my PORTION FOREVER!"

Psalm 62:7 --- "My salvation and my honor DEPEND on GOD; He is MY MIGHTY ROCK, MY REFUGE!"

Psalm 32:8 & 32:10b --- "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. ... but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him."

Proverbs 19:21 --- "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Proverbs 3:5-6 --- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Jeremiah 17:7-8 --- "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Jeremiah 29:11 --- "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

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."

I am writing this MORE as a comfort to myself! But ya'll might need some of this stuff too! :)

Keep trusting Jesus, Mical! Keep seeking Him and loving Him, Mical! Keep your eyes FIXED on Him, Mical! Keep at it, Mical! It'll be (MORE than) alright, Mical!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

GoG 286: The Mical Who Thinks She's Funny ...

Ya know those people who start telling a joke or something they think is funny but start laughing before they finish?

Umm ... yeah. I'm one of 'em.

Tonight, my parents and I were getting some dessert from The Porch ... we were sitting at the table, chatting about my mom's work day and my dad and I's dinner at McAlister's. At one point, I started to say something that I thought was funny. But as soon as the first word came out, I started laughing .... pretty hard. I could barely stop. And of course, my parents started laughing too. Probably thinking "what the heck? You didn't even finish ... you didn't even start, for that matter!" But I just got goin' ... and I had a hard time stopping. Oh, it was so funny.

So the next time a friend of yours (probably me) starts a joke and can't finish because they're laughing too hard .... just laugh right along with 'em. The joke may not be funny by the time they get it out ... but believe me ... y'all will have a good laugh! ;)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GoG 285: The Hope in Rain :)

Oh, the rain.
The rain was my glimpse of grace for today.
Although it was way too brief, it made me think of HOPE. My hope in Christ. The hope that I have for my future because I belong to God. The hope for cooler weather. The hope for God's grace in my everyday life. :)

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on us :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

GoG 284: The Sprite

Today's glimpse of grace ... yes, today! Can you believe it? Not last week ... not two months ago - TODAY. Today's glimpse of grace came in the form of a bottle of Sprite.

Miss Sandi, our awesome leader at after school, stopped by my room and gave me a Sprite. It was a gift ... in the midst of the craziness of the day. And it really meant a lot to me.

Oh, the simple things :)

GoG 283: The Patience Lesson

On Sunday morning, we talked about the fruit of patience.
Isn't it amazing how easily patience leaves us?
Seriously, on our way to lunch (less than 2 hours after our lesson) I was impatient about traffic. Wow.

Well, yesterday at after school, I was being impatient with my kids. And on the way home, I remembered our lesson. Don'tcha love it when you remember lessons God is teaching you AFTER the fact? Haha! But at least I remembered it. The lesson concerning patience in which we need to see people the way God sees them - that way we can learn to be patient with them. So I am ready to try out my new patience perspective with my after school kidos today!

GoG 282: The Kindness Discussion at SoZo

Mmm ... our discussion about kindness during SoZo on Sunday night. Man, it was good. We only had 3 youth there (that hasn't happened in probably 2 years or more!), so our discussion was probably even a little better than if everyone had been there. I learned a bit ... that the kindness level of our group isn't very high .... that lots of things go on under the radar that I don't know about .... that I need to be more assertive. It was a great meeting ... very productive, and I think we'll be able to work on the kindness level of our youth group now that we know some of the issues.

GoG 281: The Day in E-ville with Wes :)


On Saturday, I drove to the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville to see my brother for the day. He left for college around the 20th of August, and he hadn't been home since. And he's not planning to come home until Thanksgiving break. Blah. I'm excited for him ... enjoying the college life, being popular, living for the Lord, loving life. But I'm sad that he's gotta be 3 hours away to do all of that. So it was really great to see him on Saturday.

He said, more than twice, that he was glad to see him ... that he was glad I was there. And that, of course, made my day. The two of us and his roommate, Luke, went to Red Robin for lunch - I bought Wes his lunch - and then we went to the mall ... where Wes talked to every salesperson in the place. After the mall, we headed back to Wes' apartment, he changed his shirt into the one he just bought, and we headed to campus, where he showed me every building he's ever been in. Haha! He made us some chicken alfredo for dinner ... we took a few pictures ... he gave me a hug, and I head home.
All in all, a very good day with the little brother :)

GoG 280: The Race in the Church Parking Lot

Last Friday night's taco and movie night was a big success with SoZo. The kids ate ALL of the food I brought and still wanted more. They thought The Sandlot was hilarious. And we all spent a good chunk of time laughing at me for my good mood shinanigans. (When I'm in a good mood, I'm extra bubbly and ditsy and loud and weird.) We had a good time!

And afterwards, when almost everyone had gone home ... Andy, Gabe, Michael, and I were talking in the parking lot. And all of a sudden, Michael asks Andy, "Will you race me?" We were all taken off guard ... so of course, I start laughing. And then Andy and Michael race across the parking lot. Andy won. And then! Gabe wanted to race ME. I was reluctant because I might be the slowest runner on earth. But I finally gave in, and we raced. Of course, Gabe won. He even slowed down for me to give me a chance. It was quite humorous. We all laughed about it afterward.

GoG 279: The Drawing Project at After School

At after school, I started a project with the kids in my group. Partially, because I need some semi-peace and quiet for a few minutes each day, but mostly, because I want to get their "juices" flowing, and I want to get to know them better. (I also got the idea from the movie Freedom Writers ... no, I'm not this cool all by myself - haha!)

We spent a couple days making books for our project. They decorated construction paper; we hole-punched the pages; and we tied the pages together with string. And everyday, for our craft, I have them write the date down on their papers, and I ask them a question. For example, "What is your favorite season? If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?" And on and on. And each day, they draw a picture to answer that day's question. And then we take turns coming up to the front of the class and sharing our drawings. It's been quite successful in the midst of them being easily distracted. I'm excited about the project!

And last week, one of the boys - his name is Jaxson - drew something entirely precious to me. The question was "Who is someone you admire the most (look up to, think is really cool, etc. - they're 5 years old)?" And Jaxson picked ME! :) He said that I take care of them. And that's why he picked me for someone he admires. I nearly melted into a puddle. :)

GoG 278: The Dinner and a Movie with Liz and Jess :)

Last Wednesday, I invited Elizabeth and Jessica over for dinner, and we watched a movie. We had a great time laughing at old stories, poking fun at the movie characters, and they laughed at me getting lost on my way to Jessica's house. It's such a privilege to work in youth ministry ... to hang out with cool teenagers like Liz and Jess. I love these girlies!

GoG 277: The Senior Night: Jon and Levi :)





Last week, Jon and Levi had their senior night game for soccer. And just like Andy's senior night game, I was so excited to be there. I took pictures (not very good ones ... as you can see), cheered really loud, and was incredibly proud.
These are my guys we're talking about!!!! :)

GoG 276: The Compliment from Andy

I've told you before that Andy is doing an incredible job with Sr. High Bible Study on Monday nights. And a week ago, we had yet another great night of discussion and getting into the Word.

And I found such grace in a compliment that Andy gave me in the middle of the discussion. I was answering a question that he put out there for us, and he kept probing me to get me to say more. At the end, I gave him a funny look, and he said (to me and the rest of the teens there), "Well, I was gonna see what she was gonna say because Mical usually has something good to say ... and she did."

Andy is in my youth group, but I definitely look up to him. He's one of the coolest, most godly guys ever. So a compliment coming from him is the best!

GoG 275: The Catchphrase Game

Too much fun!
Thinking about what God is doing in my life each and every day is so much fun!
Thank you, Jesus, for your GRACE!!! :)

A week ago Sunday, we played the game Catchphrase at SoZo. If you don't know what this game is, let me tell you. It's pretty easy and tons of fun. You have a circular device that, when you push the button on it, a word or phrase comes up on its screen. For example, "motor boat" ... "ferris wheel" ... "pet" ... etc. Everyone sits in a circle, and your team sits every other person. We played guys against girls, so we were seated guy girl, guy girl. You push the button, and you have to get your team to guess what word or phrase is on the screen by describing the it without saying it or any part of the word. Once your team has guessed, you pass it to the person next to you (who is on the other team). There is a timer, and when the timer goes off, whoever is holding the device, loses, and the other team gets a point. It's really fun ... a lot easier than it sounds.

And we had a great time with that game. Sadly, the girls lost terribly both games. And the boys were making beeping noises and yelling totally hilarious and bogus guesses to throw the girls off. It was so much fun! And I found such grace in laughing with my kids. :)

GoG 274: The Football Game and GVB Concert :):):)


On October 2, I played football with Adam and Jason and the gang. I'm probably the worst player out there, but they always ask me to play. I'm an extra body on the field. Well, Andy plays with us too. And he ended up being the quarterback for a while ... and he picked ME to be on his team!!! And he did it just to make my day! And it did!

Later that day, I traveled to Marion, IN, to Indiana Wesleyan, for a Gaither Vocal Band concert. Oh, man, it was good! And once more, I was seating 3 ROWS from the stage! It was so awesome!!!!

GoG 273: The Hi's from My Guys :)

I went to the Danville Homecoming game for football a couple weeks ago. I think it's the second Danville football game I've been to since I graduated from high school. I had a lot of fun cheering for the team, visiting the alumni tent, running into one of my after school kids and her family. But the best part of the night was getting hi's from Jon and Levi.

I was walking to the alumni tent, after putting my nachos and hot dog down at my seat in the bleachers, when I heard a "hey, Mical!" I looked up, and Levi was standing with a couple of his friends ... one of 'em was on the football team.
Later, I was sitting in the bleachers, watching the game, when Levi and Jonathan walked by. Jon glanced up at the bleachers, and then he took a double take 'cause he saw me. He waved and say "hey."

I was so excited. I really was. It made my night that these guys said hi to me. That means I don't embarrass 'em too badly. That they like me. It was just a simple thing that showed me grace and brought me joy.

GoG 272: The Guy at After School

Last week at after school, we had a new guy switch with one of our ladies for a few days. And it turned out to be a guy named Michael Smither. I went to high school with Michael. I didn't ever really talk to the guy ... it was in my brother's grade, a friend of my brother's, but not a person I crossed paths with often. But it was great having him at after school.

Later on the first day he was there, he looked at me during movie time and said, "Hey, Mical, I don't know if you remember me but we went to high school together." And that sparked a whole conversation about what we've been doing since high school, our lack of knowing what life is gonna bring, and after school. I found it to be quite a blessing to talk to a nice guy that I know but don't know well. It's just cool to see how God brings paths together.

GoG 271: The Grace in Los Ra :)

Mmmm .... Los Rancheros is a yummy place. I really like Mexican food!

But Los Rancheros with Hannah Baker? Oh, man! It is super yummy AND super awesome! It is our CCF date place .... and one of my places to eat ever! :)

We have a great chats there ... and share yummy cheese dip ... and always get several refills of sweet tea and Mr. Pibb. Oh, the grace that comes out of Los Ra!!!! :)

GoG 270: The Dance Party!!!

If you know me well at all, you know I LOVE TO DANCE!!!!!!

A couple weeks ago at after school, we turned up the music in our snack room and had a DANCE PARTY!!!!!!
At first, the kids gave me goofy looks ... but after a while, most of 'em joined in. And we had such a good time!!!!

GoG 269: The Senior Night: Andy :)




Andy's senior night! Oh, it was great!
I was so proud!!!! It was a bit ridiculous actually. ;) I took several pictures, and I screamed louder than anyone.

I had to embarrass him a bit, right? ... What a good time! :D

GoG 266-268: The Birthday Weekend in Nashville

The last weekend of September, I headed to Nashville to hang out with my Em for her birthday. Her birthday is on the 26th.

Friday night ...
I got to Emily and Barry's around 10:30 that night. She opened her present; we watched a movie; and then we hit the beds.
Saturday ...
We had a blast on Saturday! Em recently got a new camera - a nice one! So she took pictures of me - I was her first photo shoot. We got some together too. And then we went shopping all night. We both spent too much money and had a great time!
Sunday ...
Sunday morning we went to Jared Snyder's church. And I had a blast there. They are fairly charismatic, open, free worshipers ... and it was fun to see Jared and watch him worship. And then we all went to dinner that night for Emily's birthday. Josh and Kelli came too. Such a fun couple. And Josh is a hoot! He thought I had a funny laugh.
Monday morning ...
I woke up extra early to head home ... to get back in time for after school.

I don't get to see Em very often anymore, so it was great to spend a long weekend with her.

GoG 265: The Sing with UM and Dad

Thursday nights are worship team practices for the worship leaders. From time to time, I'll drop by to chat with the leaders after practice or sit in the sanctuary and sing with them for a bit.

A few weeks ago, Uncle Mike, my dad, and I stayed after practice to sing for a bit. I love singin' harmonies and worship to the Lord. And it was a sweet time singing and chatting with two of my favorite men in the world.

GoG 264: The Veg Night on the Couch

Veg nights are so great! They are greatly needed in a busy life such as my own. So grabbin' a pizza, hittin' the redbox, and loungin' in front of the TV with a new chick flick for an evening is a glimpse of grace.

God gives us rest ... mmm, it's good!

GoG 263: The Wonderful WOW Ladies

My Women of Worth study has been stinkin' amazing! What great ladies to discuss and hang out with! Andrea, Sarah, Katie, Jess, Kristy ... gosh. It's been so good! ... We just started our second study - A Balanced Life. And I'm excited to see what this study brings about in our hearts and lives.

GoG 262: The New Season of CHUCK has Returned!

Continuing with the GoGs! :)

Chuck.
What a great TV show!
I don't know if finding grace in a TV show counts .... but I really like this TV show. I never used to watch much TV, but when Uncle Mike introduced me to Chuck, I was hooked.
I bet the grace comes more from sharing a "hobby" with Uncle Mike than Chuck.
But either way ... I find grace when I hear that the next season of Chuck is coming out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Way God Sees 'Em ....

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"
Matthew 19:14

See them the way God sees them.

These thoughts were going through my head this afternoon.

I've been so impatient with my after school kids lately. It's been so difficult. I love my kids. I really do. I just have a rough time be patient with them. I've got 21 kids in my group. Usually, 16 to 18 of 'em show up at a time, and that's a lot of kids for one person. Whew! And almost all of 'em are crazy! Put 'em all together, and it's utter chaos every Monday through Friday.

This is week #6 for me, and I just can't get the hang of this patience thing with these little people. It makes me really discouraged. Blah! But this afternoon, on my way home from after school, I was thinking about our lesson about patience yesterday during Sunday School. The first step toward developing patience in our lives was "See people the way God sees them." And that thought came to my mind as I was driving home from an afternoon with my little crazies! I need to change the way I look at my kids. Yes, I love them. But no, I'm not being patient with them. I'm not seeing them the way God sees them.

And when I think about me and my after school kids, I think of God and us, His people. Does God get impatient with us when we choose to do the wrong thing over and over again, when we act crazy, when the world these days is utter chaos because it's full of crazy people???? No.

NO.

God is ALWAYS patient with us. Sure, sometimes He gets stern with us 'cause we need that from time to time. But He always stays calm. He always loves us no matter what junk we've gotten ourselves into or how often we disobey Him.

If I could grab hold of that mindset and use it with my after school kids, oh, it would be so much better at after school. I can't hinder my kids anymore with my impatience. I must see them the way God sees them, and I must remember that, if I am patient with them, they might see Jesus in me. And they need to see Jesus, know Him, make Him their Savior, so that they will inherit the kingdom of Heaven someday.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

GoG 261: The Many Moms!

Believe it or not, I have more than one mom.

Haha! Well, obviously, I only have one mom. Yes, and she is the best!!! But I found that over time, I acquire more moms.
~ When I was in high school, Pastor Mike and Shelley took SoZo to the rehab center in town for a fashion show. We put on the fashion show for the residents. Afterwards, we went out into the crowd to talk with the residents. I was talking to a few old ladies, and they asked if Pastor Mike and Shelley were my parents. We all laugh about it to this day because they are not old enough to be my parents. So PM and Shelley call me Junior ... and I call Shelley, Shelley Mom.
~ After becoming friends with Judy Nilsen ... e-mailing, reading each other's blogs, being great friends with Ben and James, walks in the park ... she's told me I'm almost like one of her kids. And I'd definitely put her on my "mom list." :)
~ And a few weeks ago, I discovered that I have yet another mom. An older couple at my church, Richard and Carol Swenke, come up to me every Sunday and give me a hug and tell me how pretty and special I am. One Sunday, Carol's sister was visiting from Florida, and they introduced me to her as "their daughter." Ha! It was incredibly flattering. And it was at that moment, I told my mom that she's sharing me with other moms. :D

GoG 260: The SoZo Canoe Trip


Youth ministry is great! It's not easy, but boy, is it awesome!!!
I love hanging out with teenagers! It's probably my favorite thing to do!

September 18th was our SoZo canoe trip. We had a great time tipping canoes and racing each other to the finish ... eating oatmeal cream pies and stopping for ice cream on the way home. I just really had a good time with my kids. :)

GoG 259: The Extra Time with the 'Rents :)

Since most of my friends are getting married, moving away, and having kids, I've been spending a lot of time with my parents lately. It's been a huge blessing ... not only do I have buddies in the midst of my "season," but I've gotten to spend more time with them - going out to eating, watching movies, lots of chats. Chats that we may not have had if my season of life were different. And I've just really appreciated the time.

Now ... where are my friends????
;)

GoG 258: The Bethesda Soccer Game

I've only been to 2 or 3 of Jon, Levi, and Super Dave's soccer games this season. The first game I went to was the best. I got there right as the game was starting, and I saw Pastor and Mike and Penny Marshall and Marge. I stood behind them for the game, and we all cheered loudly for our guys - they for their sons and me for my SoZo guys - one and the same. Oh, it was great! They were all laughing at how much louder I was cheering than them and WHAT I was cheering. I'm a crazy person when it comes to supporting the people I love! Man, if you only knew the lengths I went for my brother's senior year of high school. ;) Good times!

I just love cheering for my guys!

GoG 257: The Autograph Picture of Zachary Levi!!!

Hahaha!
So way back in April or May, I wrote a short letter to Zachary Levi ... the star of NBC's CHUCK. Such a great show! Love it!
I felt like such a nerd writing to a celebrity ... but for some reason I felt compelled to ... maybe 'cause I have a tiny crush on the actor. Ha!
I said something to the affect of ...

"I don't know what a guy like you would need, but this verse has helped me through a lot. I hope it encourages you.
Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Sending up a prayer for you right now.
Mical Masterson"

Too funny!
Well, last month, I received a reply!!!! It was an signed picture of the guy! What!? Are you kidding me!? When I sent my letter, I wondered if it would even reach him at all ... and I get an autograph picture???? Awesome! Needless to say, it made my day; I showed it to Uncle Mike; and it's hanging on my wall in my room. ;)

GoG 256: The Candy Land Games

Babysitting for Keri is always fun ...
A couple weeks ago, I hung out with Caleb while Keri and the kids were at Bible Study Fellowship. It was fun to hang out with Caleb, watching Prince Caspian, making waffles for lunch, and playing FIVE games of Candy Land, in which he beat me 4 out of 5 times! We had a great time ... he laughed at me for losing to a 6 year old, and I laughed at him for beating me so many times.

GoG 255: The Success of Joshua 1:5-9

Joshua 1:5-9
Umm ... yeah. I was gonna type this out ... but it is stinkin' long!!! So you're on your own for this one. But seriously, take the time to read this passage. It has some good stuff in it! Go ... now.

Okay ... are you back yet? Did you read it? You better have read it .... ;)

Andy Schnur, one of the coolest guys in the world and a member of SoZo (yes! He's one of MY kids!), has been leading a senior high Bible study at Calvary for several months now ... but you should know that if you keep up with my blog because I've mentioned him a few times before. The Bible study is awesome! He does such a great job with it! ... We've been taking a look at Joshua, and with him, leadership. As part of our study, we took a look at the first chapter of Joshua. And man, oh man ... lots of conviction from the five verses I mentioned above. I carried those verses with me for over a week; I was that convicted!

The greatest conviction I gathered from the passage ....
If we would just read our Bibles and soak up what God says and live our lives by it, then nothing and no one could stand against us AND we'd have great success at whatever we put our hand to.

Seriously? That is amazing!
Let's read our Bibles, people!!!! :)

GoG 254: The Grace in Freedom

Well, I don't know what the goodness it's gonna take for me to stay caught up with my GoGs. I don't think I can. It would have to be my #1 priority every single day of the year ... and it's just not. But I do enjoy blogging. So here are some thoughts (glimpses of grace) from the past couple of weeks ...

September 12 - Sundays are awesome! Extra time with Jesus, my family, my church family, my SoZo kids, my naptime .... always grace that we live in a country that allows us freedom to do such marvelous things!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thankful at 1:27am :)

Well, it's another late night ... and I just don't want to go to bed. A night when the mind is goin' and the body won't stop movin' ... blah. I love to sleep, but I've been tossing and turning in bed more often lately ... and I find myself not wanting to go to bed at night a lot lately too.
Ha! It's probably all the sweet tea I drink, now that I think about it. ;)
But either way ... whether it be too much sugar and caffeine in my system or a mind constantly pondering my season of life ... I don't want to go to bed tonight.

I've been in an extra good mood the past couple of days. Since my chat with my dad and my "pruning," I've just been thinking UP. Excited about life. Thankful. And wow ... what better way to spend a late night than to thank God for my many blessings.
Yes, let's go! :)

God,
I thank you for my parents. I think I have the best parents ever! My dad is an encourager by nature, generous, slow to anger, passionate about You, always takes care of me and mom and Wes. My mom is a perseverer whether she thinks so or not, has a great sense of humor, goes out of her way to love me in light of my love language (receiving gifts), a great listener. I am excited to be living at home when most 20-somethings don't like, maybe even hate, living with their parents. I am incredibly blessed not only to have a great house to live in and a town I love but an awesome HOME.
Thank you for my friends. I struggle from time to time with my friends getting married, having kids, moving away, even just getting busy with school and work ... but I have amazing friends! They love me, get excited for me when I'm doing what I love, more than tolerate my shinanigans, pray for me, encourage me. Oh, they are great!
The list could go on and on, Lord, because you have blessed me with so much - far more than anything I could ask or imagine! So for now, lastly, I thank you for changing seasons - yes, the weather seasons (I'm lovin' the 50 degrees blowing through my open window right now!) - but more importantly, the seasons of life that you give me. This "single, 20-something, 'what the heck am I gonna do with my life!?'" season has been difficult, to say the least. But, God, I find so much grace in it - through Your provision of hope and excitement for what's to come, the focus I can have on YOU, the calling I can live out even more passionately and undistractedly (yes, I just made up a word), the time with my parents and brother and friends and church family and SoZo that I wouldn't have if I were married and having kids, the lessons I cannot learn in any other season. Lord Jesus, You are just AWESOME!!!! For growing me, loving me, teaching me, dying for me, giving me purpose. Thank you for Your hope and grace and strength and provision and joy and peace and lessons and Your word ... thank you for giving me courage to withstand the trials and disappointments ... and to face each new day. Your grace is more than sufficient and more than amazing. Your might is more than I can comprehend. Thank you, Lord God. Thank you, Jesus!
I love you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pruning (Part 2)

Okay! Listen up! You must read my previous post first - "The Pruning (Part 1)" BEFORE you read this post!!! It's a preface to the great thoughts to come now ...

Why might God plant us in less than ideal circumstances?
Check out these verses, yo!!!

Deuteronomy 30:6
"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."
Circumcise: "to put off the sins of the flesh; to make holy"
Less than ideal circumstances = trials
God allows us to go through trials so that we will learn to run away from the sins that so easily trap us and to make us more like Him. The more we overcome sin, the more holy we become.

Jeremiah 29:12-14
"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."
God allows us to go through trials so that He can teach us how to seek Him and allow us to experience the grace of His restoration in and of our lives.

Philippians 4:11-13
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
God allows us to go through trials so that we will learn to be content in every circumstance we face and and to learn that our strength not only comes from God but that we are utterly dependent on Him for all that we could want or need.

1 Timothy 6:6-8
"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."
God allows us to go through trials so that we will understand that we are nothing without Him and to teach us contentment with what we have and where we are in our lives.

Awesome, right? .... Wow!
Well, let me leave you with some questions that my devotional had me answer for myself ....
What keeps you from being content within your present circumstances?
What might God want you to prune?
Prune: "to remove dead parts"
What might He want to heal, mend, or perfect in you?
How can you "bloom where you are planted" in your present circumstances?

Lamentations 3:25-26
"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

THE END :)

The Pruning (Part 1)

Well, it's true ... I am very behind with my grace posts again (surprise, surprise). I'll catch up with 'em later. Right now, I have some amazing thoughts to share with you. ... My devotions tonight are really awesome. "Are" being present tense because they continue here ... I just MUST share them with you all!!! :)

It amazes me how God works ... always and in perfect ways! Tonight, I talked with my dad about the season of life that I'm in right now. It's a rough season overall ... and it was a difficult conversation with my dad. Nearly tears ... almost. But I came away from it encouraged 'cause my dad is a great encourager, always keeps an eternal perspective, which I need to be constantly reminded of, and his words just simply gave me hope for my current circumstances.

The short version of my life-situation, or my "current season of life," is ...
1. Most my friends are leaving me either by marriage or kids or moving away or busyness.
2. I failed the Praxis 9 times. I still want to be a teacher, and I plan to take the test again. But I struggle with fear that is closer to the paralyzing kind than the healthy kind.
3. I want to find my future husband and work alongside him in ministry, but he's nowhere to be found. (And by the way, several of my friends have husbands!)
4. My insecurities have been nearly crippling me in my calling.

Without going into too much of a pity party, I will stop here. Wow! I'm finding hope in these circumstances, right? RIGHT! :D .... Oh, but first! In effort to keep this LONG post shorter, I'm gonna break it up into two posts. I really want y'all to hear this! And I wanna make sure my A.D.D. doesn't kick in too hard so that I can listen to it a second time ... 'cause this stuff is good! Straight from God. So ... read my next post.

This one is TO BE CONTINUED ...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

GoG 253: The "Why the Heck Would You Want All the Details about My Day?" Post :)

Today ... well, I tossed and turned all night. Not sure why ... I've been doing that for the past week. So I finally woke up at 8:00 and headed downstairs to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Cartoons these days are so weird - warped, even ... and sometimes gross or somewhat crude. So I finally turned off the TV and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up again around 12noon. Then, I got dressed and made a few stops ... went to Calvary to do a few quick things for SoZo, went to check on Jared and Maggie's garage sale - they're having it tomorrow instead (rained out!), and then I went to Dugan's for an oil change. They were closed. So I came home, plopped down on the couch, watched a movie ... and then fixed dinner, ate dinner. Then a walk ... a long walk. Then ... I took my autographed picture of Zachary Levi over to Uncle Mike and Jen's ... I just had to show them! And I stayed for over 2 hours ... chatting and watching a movie.

Ha! But why on earth would you want to know all those details??!!! Hahaha! We'll just say I'm sharing about my day with my BBF who lives 5 hours away. You'll appreciate the details, Em. ;)

Aww ... and the grace in all that. I'm sure I could find a few glimpses, but I'm gonna go with hangin' out with UM and Jen. They are definitely at the top of my favorite people ever list ... so it's always great to chat with them. And their house feels like a second home to me. :)

GoG 252: The Hug from Jaxson :):):)

Yesterday at after school, I got a hug from Jaxson!!!!!!

I'm still new to the after school thing, so I don't get many hugs yet. And you're not supposed to have favorites among your kids, but I do. Jaxson. Jaxson Molloy is my favorite! He is the cutest 5-year ... maybe ever! He's got kind of a mischievous side to him but oh, so lovable too! And he gave me a hug yesterday. Oh, the grace!!!! :D

Thursday, September 9, 2010

GoG 251: The Tears from James

Can you believe it????? I'm all caught up with my blog posts!!!!

Last GoG to write for the day!

Today at after school, I was headed out the door, ready to leave, when one of my kids stood close by looking as though he was about to cry. Ah! My heart was already starting to break!!! The face he was making was so pitiful. James. I said, "Oh, buddy, what's wrong? You look like you're about to cry." He looked at me and told me his dad wasn't there to pick him up yet. I guess his dad had come by to pick him up about a half an hour earlier, and he didn't want to leave. So his dad told him to keep playing, and he'd be back in 45 minutes or so. Well, James' friends started to leave, so he was upset that he was alone.

When he started to cry, I wanted to cry! A few minutes later, I was scheduled to leave early that day (that's how the system works - everyone trades off days to leave early as the kids begin to leave), so I was telling the kids in the room that I'd see 'em tomorrow. And James looked at me and said, "Miss Mical, you're leaving?" And he looked as though he would cry again. Broke my heart again! So I said, "I don't have to leave? Do you want me to stay?" And he just nodded his head, tears in his eyes.

Oh my goodness. It was so sad. So we sat and colored until his dad came. Then he said, "Okay, Miss Mical. You can go home now."

Soooo cute!!!!

GoG 250: The Keri McRoberts :)

Keri McRoberts.

She's seriously one of my favorite people in the world! .... She and I often laugh together and at each other. We don't really get to talk all that often. Even in a small church, it's hard to cross paths with a lot of people.

Well, I recently started reading the Twilight series ... and she's already read 'em. And she likes Edward, and I like Jacob. So we started chatting about the book back and forth yesterday ... and it's continuing today. We're starting to get into more important things ... haha! But it's been great to chat with her on facebook. She's just awesome! And any time I get to chat with her, I am blessed.

Keri McRoberts ... a glimpse of grace in Mical Masterson's life. :)

GoG 249: The Good Job

3 more!!!!

On Tuesday, I asked my supervisor how I was doing at my job at after school. It's been a fairly stressful week and a half, so I wanted to make sure I wasn't doing something wrong with the kids, being impatient, being lazy 'cause I was tired, or in a bad mood or something. But Miss Sandy said I was doing a great job. And even though I asked her specifically about my work, it was good to hear her say "yes!" :)

In the midst of crazy kids, I'm doing a good job loving 'em! :)

GoG 248: The Labor Day in Bedford

Only 4 more posts to go, and I'll be caught up! It's a miracle!!!!!

Every Labor Day, my parents, brother, and I head down to Bedford, Indiana for a day with my dad's side of the family. I remember, as a kid, I didn't like going 'cause "all we did was sit around and stare at each other." Haha! We really do that ... well, with a little talking. But I've grown to enjoy it the older I get. It's always good to see my aunts and uncles and cousins and my granny and gramps, of course. We usually eat lots of food and then sit around talking. Sometimes, we play cornhole or euchre. But mostly, we just chat, catch up on life since we only see each other about 3 times a year - Easter, Labor Day, and Christmas.

Family. Now that's grace, isn't it?
Thank you, Lord, for family :)

GoG 247: The Night of Volleyball with the SoZo-ers :)

Since the SoZo volleyball tournament, I've left our net up. And we've been playing a lot during youth group, before the lesson. I've actually got 3 or 4 kids who've decided it's their new favorite sport - so fun!

It's fun to get the whole youth group out there playing. I've got some pretty tall guys in our group, so they often spike it down our short people throats. And we just had a really good time last Sunday playing volleyball together. Lots of laughs, lots of boasting .... it was so much fun!

GoG 246: The Really Yummy Sweet Tea ... just about everyday!

Sweet tea.

Golly! It is heaven in a glass for me! I'm serious! I am addicted.
It's my comfort drink, my joy drink ... and it tastes so good!

And for God to have put the idea into someone's head for sweet tea????
Heck to the yeah! That sure is grace!!!!
Mmmm .... yummy!

GoGs 241-245: The First Crazy Days at After School!!!

Last week, I started at after school. It's a new program to the Danville schools, and we have tons of kids! I have 20 all to myself, and it is pretty chaotic most of the time! The group leaders and supervisors are working to continually structure the program, but it's been a hard road so far. And I've only been there for 8 days! Whew!

But when God gives you a passion, He sure knows how to help you persevere and even enjoy the chaos and frustrations. I find glimpses of grace in the chaos that is after school ....

I have 20 really cute kids.
I get hugs, hi's, and "Miss Mical, look at this's."
I have kids wanting my attention, making me feel special.
I get to serve the kids by loving them, disciplining them, opening their snacks, etc.
I have kids like Jaxson and Sam who have super mischievous personalities but sooo lovable!
I have adorable little girls like Izzy and Ana who are super agreeable.
I've got little guys like James and Luke who smile all the time.
I can even find grace in Kyler holding my hand after he's cried over something totally insignificant and in Joel giving me a hug after he's thrown his third crying/screaming fit of the day!!

It's been a rough start to after school .... but like I said, God gives me the desire to push through and love the kids.

GoG 240: The Talk to Me Meeting

I had a meeting with my student leaders in SoZo a little over a week ago. It was the first one ever! We got frosties at Wendy's and sat and "chatted" about the friendliness level of our youth group. I didn't get much out of them. I have pretty quiet and reserved kids in my group, which is pretty funny when you think about my personality. But anyways ... the meeting wasn't overly successful, but the 45-minute or so wait we had until youth group was pretty fun. Although most of my kids aren't too talkative with me ... when they get talking to each other, they are stinkin' hilarious! And it was fun to hear about their school stories and teacher stories and their jokes. I love to watch my kids smile ... and hear 'em laugh! So fun! I think it's a little extra glimpse of grace to hear my kids laugh because they are my favorite people!!!

GoG 239: The SoZo Volleyball Games

Whew! I really like volleyball! It's really the only sport I'm pretty decent at. Ask Jason and Adam about my football skills - they call me Droppy McDropperson! I quit playing basketball 4 days into basketball season my freshman year of high school. I played soccer for only 3 or 4 seasons in elementary school. So I try a sport I've never really tried before, and whatta ya know? I'm pretty good at it! Well, at least I think I am. Ask the SoZo-ers ....

We had a cookout and volleyball tournament at Calvary a couple weeks ago, and we all had a great time! It was so fun to hang out with my kids, play a really fun sport, eat hot dogs, and laugh a lot with them all. Good times, indeed :)

GoG 238: The Story of My Hiring :)

Like I said, I recently started working at an after school program in Danville. I started last Monday to be exact. :) .... And I found grace in the hiring process.

Ha! I was hired on the spot!

It was great! .... I haven't been in too many interview situations ... and this one was pretty laid back. But it was great to have someone look at my "working" resume and say "Yes! This is exactly what we need!" It makes ya feel good, ya know? In addition to being hired right then and there, my interviewer told me she would "call the other people" later. The other applicants were made to wait another day for their interview. But turns out, I was hired after a short chat with the supervisor! Sooo cool!

GoGs 235-237: The SoZo Prep Days

The downside of not keeping up with these GoGs is that I sometimes forget what they are for certain days. So here's to clumping a few days together, knowing I did much of the same things on these days ... specifically, in this case, I worked on SoZo stuff. :)

The last week of August, I spent 3 days in a row working on various projects for SoZo. I prepared lesson plans, worked on signs, wrote notes to the students, updated the SoZo facebook page ... things like that.

Lately, I've been lax with my focus on SoZo. I've just been lazy if I really get down to it. It's so easy to be lazy, isn't it? Gosh! .... And the past week and a half hasn't helped my prep for SoZo 'cause I started a new job at an after school program. It doesn't take up my whole day by any means, but it is something new ... and since it's later in the day, I can sleep in pretty late if I want to ... and I always want to! ;) ... So it'll take some focus to get back to a routine and start working on SoZo stuff again.

But when I look at my days of SoZo prep, whether they be a lot several days in a row or few and far between, I think about how blessed I am to be working in youth ministry ... and now kids ministry at the after school program! God allowing me to do what I love - everyday - now that's grace!!!! :D

GoG 234: The Relevant Magazine Articles

Okay ... back to blogging! I'm getting caught up ... a little. And I'm determined to finish all my long-lost posts and get totally caught up tonight. We'll see how that goes. ;)

Pastor Mike posts various articles on his facebook page from an online magazine - Relevant Magazine. It's a Christian magazine with articles about God, life, culture, our walks with the Lord ... it's got some good stuff!

I've found a handful of articles that I've definitely related to ... about the college/career years, about prayer and devotions, about waiting on the Lord. Sounds good, right?

It's so encouraging to read about the struggles and triumphs and strivings that others are going through. And it's always grace when another person's story encourages and convicts me. .... If you've never been to this magazine's site, Google "Relevant Magazine" and check it out! :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

GoG 233: The Shy Girl ... well, she WAS :)

One of the girls in my youth group is pretty shy. Like won't read two words out loud, barely comes to youth group shy .... well, she WAS.

She's been doing so well.
She comes to youth group and Sunday School every week, she comes on just about every event, she comes to events even when her sister doesn't come!, she reads whole verses out loud, she volunteers to answer questions!

Oh, it makes me so proud! And it's such grace to see my kids grow. :)

GoG 232: The Dreaded Praxis!!!

So ....

THE DREADED PRAXIS RETURNS!

I'm taking it again ... someday.
But that's beside the point.

It still makes me cry when I get talking about it.
My dad I started talking about it last week, and ... well, I cried.
But my dad gave me great advice and compliments and a hug.
And I felt better ... and decided to take the test again!
10th time's a charm!!!!
:)

GoG 231: The Oliver :)

From time to time, I get to babysit Oliver ... probably the cutest baby in the world! :) And the last time I babysat, we fell asleep on the couch together watching Veggie Tales .... it was precious!!!!

GoG 230: The Southern Gospel Concert!!!

UM.
Uncle Mike.
One of my favorite people - EVER!
:)

Uncle Mike and I went to a southern gospel concert .... Greater Vision. A motorcycle ride, Starbucks, heart-to-heart chats, and some amazing music!

GoG 229: The Dinner with the Fam

Dinner with Mom, Dad, and Wes ..... and at Texas Roadhouse too! ;)

:)

GoG 228: The Daily Productive ....

My brother is a goal-setter. Always .... everyday, actually.

His most recent goal ... to my knowledge anyway ...
The title of his new lifestyle goal: The Daily Productive Time-Management Consistent Action Dominating Planned-Routine.

Ha! Isn't that awesome??? ;) I even helped him with it .... and we had such a good time! Laughed pretty hard. Hahahahaha! Love it!

GoG 227: The SoZo Signs

I made signs for our upcoming SoZo studies .... and it was fun.
Ha! How simple is that?! And I found grace in it. So cool!

GoG 226: The Smiles from the SoZo-ers :)

When SoZo goes extra well, it's always grace for me ... 'cause it's hard work! And to be rewarded with a good night is always a blessing. :) And seeing smiles on my kids' faces are probably one of my favorite things ever!

GoG 225: The Text ... on my way home from Nashville

I got a text from my friend, Jared Snyder. He was just "checking on me."
Yay!

GoG 224: The Campout

Campout! Campout!

Oh, wait .... we slept inside. Ha! 'Cause it was sooooo hot!! But we had a good time! And it's always grace to see my BBF, Emily :)

GoG 223: The Jesus Talk ... again :)

Lunch with Alex .... always grace 'cause they're always full of Jesus :)

GoG 222: The Sleepin' In ... oh, so sweet!

Sleeping in.

Isn't that grace???? Especially when you can't do it often, right?

Mmmm ......

GoG 221: The Life-Giving Friends ... again :)

I've told y'all about my friends, Sara-Ruth and Lauren, before ..... amazing friends!!!! Life-giving friends! :)

And they are yet more grace in my life :)

GoG 220: The Galatians 5 ... good stuff!

Galatians 5:1&16

FREEDOM! FREEDOM in Christ!
And a night with my SoZo-ers.

Both of those things are GRACE - everyday, all the time! GRACE!

GoG 219: The SoZo ... again and again :)

SoZo ...

SoZo is always GRACE whether it's a good night or a bad night. :)
Thank you, Lord, for youth ministry :)

GoG 218: The Day out on the Boat ... and a little Eclipse too!

Oh, what a good day!

A day out on the boat with Emily, Kathy, Josh, and Helen ...
And Eclipse with Emily and Mags :)

Oh, the grace in a day with friends :)

GoG 217: The Song!!!

Haha! The day camp on the Eastside was awesome! I was there for 3 days ... and we sang at the beginning of the day.

We "screamed" ... we even "danced" ... it was in the song to do so!
Soooo awesome!

GoG 216: The Compliment from Miss Laura

216 ....

Ms. Laura from the Eastside day camp was bragging on me. Saying I was a great volunteer ... and it made my day!!!

GoG 215: The Eastside Kids

Wow! I couldn't be more behind!!!!
So ... short and sweet, shall we?

GoG 215

A day with the kids on the Eastside!!!! :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walking in the Spirit is not an easy task ....

Lord,
Why is it so hard to walk in the Spirit? I fall into the same sins over and over again. I feel remorse and ask for forgiveness over and over again. But why? Why, Lord? Why can't I get this right? I want to honor you. I want to be the best me I can be. I want to truly and completely walk in the FREEDOM you've given me. You set me FREE so that I could be FREE! So why am I not FREE? How can I get out of these sin habits? How can I throw off my selfish desires and want ... no, be desperate for what you desire for me?
Oh, Lord! I fail you oh, so often! How do I stop? And how do I start living all for you?
In SoZo last week, we talked about what it means to walk in the Spirit. We talked about reading your word and applying it to our lives - living it out each day. We talked about loving and encouraging your people - pointing them to you. We talked about seeking out the calling you've placed on our lives and then living it. These are ways that we can walk in the Spirit - part of what it means to walk in you. But Lord, it's gotta be more than that!
What? What, Lord, does it mean to really WALK IN THE SPIRIT?
Please teach me. Please continue to teach me each day to walk in you ... and to walk in you with all my heart! Help me flee from temptation that so often leads me into sin ... and sins that I've struggled with for such a long time. Help me get out of the sin once I've gotten myself into it. Don't let me keep wallowing, swimming, even basking in it, Lord! Oh, Jesus! Change me from the inside out! Whatever it takes, Lord, to make me more like you - do it!
Help me grow to my full potential ... to know you better and to love you more with each day, each moment ... and to honor you with every aspect of my life. And also, to gain and maintain an eternal perspective in all things. Oh, Lord ... keep convicting me. Keep encouraging me. Keep making me into the woman of God you desire me to be. I will never stop striving after you ... no matter how much opposition I face - within myself, within this world, withing my walk with you ... I will never give up serving and seeking and loving you. Teach me what it means to truly love you with all that is in me! Please forgive me, and make me stronger. Be glorified in me, Lord. I love you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

GoG 214: The Productive Day ... again!

Another productive day ....

Filled out substitute teacher applications
Went to the license branch to buy my license plate for my new car
Deposited some money

It always feels good to be productive!

GoG 213: The Forever Friends

A few weeks ago, Mags facebooked me and Hannah about getting together for dinner or some hang out time. We ended up getting some dinner and watching Wildfire. And the grace in that is that Maggie is the one who initiated it. I know that you don't usually LOSE a friendship when your friends get married and start having kids ... I'm sure thankful that I haven't lost my friendship with Mags ... but it has changed. It has to ... there is no getting around it, I've learned. So it was great to have Mags initiate the night ... when she's busy with work, Oliver, and hanging out with Jared when he's home from longs weeks/weekends away from home.

Friends forever ... I really appreciate that!

GoG 212: The Yummy Cookies

Haha! So the first Sunday of the month, I made cookies for my SoZo kids. I took them out of the oven a bit earlier than usual ... and they were gooey and yummy. I was also hanging out with Jason and Melissa and the gang that day. So I split the cookies between the dinner at the Adamson's and youth group. And everyone who ate them went on and on about how good they were.

I made yummy chocolate chip cookies ... and that's just fun. :)

GoG 211: The Continuing Definition of Colossians 3:2

Ahh ... the continuing definition of Colossians 3:2 ... good stuff!

God has been pressing the idea of ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE on my heart and mind for months now. I've decided it is my new life-long goal ... to grasp an eternal perspective. Well, during some prep for Sunday's Sunday School lesson for the youth, I was thinking about the EP .... and God brought to mind the concept of Jesus holding all things together.

And so Colossians 3:2 - Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things ... and Colossians 1:16-17 - For by Him, all things were created, in heaven and on earthy, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together .... are connected to each other.

Because ... Setting our minds on things above means to not only realize but trust that God is in control of all things. And in trusting that He is in control of all things is to understand that He holds everything together, makes everything work, and is worthy to be trusted.

I was thankful, on that day, to find a further understanding of what it means to really set our minds on the things above. Thank you, Jesus.

GoG 210: The Movie Date

Movie dates with myself are always grace ... 'cause I'm independent enough to go to movies by myself! :D

I went to see Inception at the Regal ... popcorn, a large Coke, and a great movie! Good times!

GoG 209: The Bargain

July 29 - GoG 209

3 outfits for $100.
Now that's a girl's picture of grace, isn't it? :)

GoG 208: The Productive Day

July 28 - GoG 208

What productive day ... sub forms, paid bills ... it took several hours ... but I did it!

GoG 207: The Nothing At All

July 27 - GoG 207

Did I do anything at all today?
What grace!

GoGs 204-206: The PA/WV Adventure ... or lack thereof

Well, I'm gonna cheat a bit for the next couple of posts. I wrote about them on my bucket list blog. The story is too much work to tell twice, so here's the story of my wanna-be trip to Pittsburgh for a youth work camp.

Got back from Pennsylvania AND West Virginia on Monday night ... it was an interesting weekend. Saturday morning around 8:00, I left my house to head for Pittsburgh. A work camp full of teenagers awaited me there. Or not. I had set out to volunteer as a behind the scenes leader on the trip, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping floors, keeping the lodging facility spic and span for the week. But when I got to Pittsburgh, no one was anywhere to be found. I had arrived the night before to get settled in and have dinner with the staff. So I waited around for while, but no one came. I called 3 or 4 different numbers to get ahold of someone ... anyone! ... at the organization. Nada. So I decided to head out of Pittsburgh to find a hotel for the night. Stayed in a Motel 6 that night, got some Bob Evans for breakfast the next morning, and headed back to the facility for registration and welcoming the campers. Ha! But no one was there once again. I was beyond confused at this point. I continued calling the numbers I was given in case of questions or emergencies. No one answered. I walked next door to a church that was just finishing up its Sunday morning service, or so it appeared to be.

"Do y'all know anything about a work camp going on next door this week?" The man shook his head and said, "I see people doing things over there on Wednesday nights, but I don't know about a camp."

Weird, right? Wow. I was dumbfounded. Where was everyone? I wish I could say the camp folks eventually showed up, and they explained their tardiness ... but no. I waited around just outside of Pittsburgh for nearly 2 hours, waiting for a call ... but I heard nothing. I knew nothing. ... So I finally decided to head home.

Thankfully, I'm on a quest to see all 50 states .... and Pennsylvania is a beautiful state! Pittsburgh is awesome too - full of tunnels and bridges and a huge river running through the middle of it! So the trip wasn't wasted by any stretch of the imagination. AND! I decided to take the long way home ... through West Virginia! Ohhh! WV made it beyond worth it! I took I-79 through central WV to Charleston ... and it was entirely gorgeous! Mountains the whole trip into Ohio! Heck! It was pretty hilly into Indiana!!!! It was such a great trip! I'm still trying to get ahold of the work camp folks ... but the trip was great anyway!

GoG 203: The Porch

July 23 - GoG 203

I dropped by The Porch to say hi to my mom and brother ... when I got there, several cars were in the parking lot ... the entire front lot was full, and there were 4 or 5 cars in the back lot. That is awesome! Business is picking up! The full parking lot inspired me to take some pictures and start a facebook page for The Porch. It was great to see my mom's hard work starting to pay off.

GoG 202: The Night with Mags and Oliver

July 22 - GoG 202

I hung out with Mags.
We watched a movie. We hung out with Oliver. It reminded me of our friendship over the years. Mags has been my longest friend ... 17 years. Life-long friendships are God's grace in action, for sure!!!

GoG 201: The Free Sweet Tea

July 21 - GoG 201

Hahaha! This GoG makes me laugh because it shows how obsessed with sweet tea I am!

On the 21st, a few of the SoZo-ers and I went to the Indiana Dunes for a day of swimming and sunburns and running in the sand. On the way home, we stopped at Golden Coral for dinner. At the end of the night, I asked our waitress if I could get a to-go cup of sweet tea. And she gave me it for FREE!

Free sweet tea .... it doesn't get any better than that!

GoG 200: The Short-term Dreams

July 20 - GoG 200

I met with a friend, and we discussed short-terms goals. Short-term being 5 years.
Mine?

Get married and start a family ... ha! 'Cause I have control over that ;)
Keep a couple thousand dollars in savings
Get a Master's degree in Bible/Youth Ministry or try to pass the Praxis again
Move out of my parents' house

Can't think of too many more ....
Goals. Setting goals, I found, is a glimpse of grace ... because another word for goals is dreams. God gives us dreams. And that is something we don't deserve.

GoG 199: The Annual Grilled Cheese and a Milkshake :)

July 19 - GoG 199

The second day of the county fair. Every year, I go to the fair, specifically and ultimately, for a grilled cheese and a milkshake. This year, I walked around looking at my kids' 4-H projects ... and one night, SoZo passed out waters at the Calvary Chapel booth ... but I'm good with a grilled cheese and a milkshake.

Tasty. Fun. Simple. Grace. :)

GoG 198: The SoZo Testimonies

July 18 - GoG 198

SoZo shared testimonies about our Cottage Cove Trip. It was great to hear from many of my kids who went on my trip. And I found myself so thankful, once again, for the calling God has placed on my life - youth ministry ... and even more thankful for my 18 kids that He has placed in my spiritual care. My calling is more than grace!

GoG 197:The Hugs from the Bride and Groom

Well, I've beaten my record! It's been over a month since I've blogged!!!!! I've got some catching up to do ... so here goes!

July 17 - GoG 197

James and Hannah .... married!
It was a great day of chats and hugs and dancing and clean-up. And my GoG for the day was getting a hug from both James and Hannah.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yo, These be tha Ghetto Ten Commandments, Bro!

The SoZo-ers found these commandments in the book we were given at our discipleship training at the mission trip to Nashville. Hilarious! Especially if you volunteer on the Eastside of Indy.

Ghetto Bible - The Ten Commandments

1. I beez God. Don' beez dissin me wit otha godz.
2. Don' beez makin no hood ornaments like nothin in my crib, anythang upstayrs, orr anythang anywherz elz.
3. Don' beez usin my name 'n a wack way - homey don' play dat.
4. Y'all betta be keepin da sabbathh.
5. Don' dis ya mama ... an if ya know whoz ya daddy beez, don' dis him neither.
6. Don' cap yo bros.
7. Don' cheat on ya babies' mama.
8. Don' be liftin no goods.
9. Don' be lyin an' snitchin on ya homies.
10. Don' be eyein' ya homie's crib, ride, or nothin.

Friday, July 30, 2010

GoG 196: The Gushy, Heartfelt Message

Well, crap.
I totally just wrote out an entire post and then deleted it by accident.
Daggonit.

Well, this is an important post ... it's grace, and it's about Hannah Baker ... so I guess I need to write it again.
Shoot!!!

Hannah Baker - one of THE coolest people ever ... is my friend ... my cookie cutter friend to be exact.
Ya know ... those kinds of friends that God knew we couldn't live without, so he "cut" them out for you at the beginning of time.
Yep ... Hannah is one of those - for me. :)
When we get together, we always talk about the things that are on our hearts. We always laugh a lot! We almost always go to Los Rancheros ... our favorite mexican place and friend spot.

A couple weeks ago, we got together for Los Rancheros and a movie night ... and we shared, we laughed, and we just spent time together ... we even made fun of movie characters together. It was a really fun night. And when we headed home. We both got on our computers and wrote each other a pretty gushy, heartfelt message. And we sent 'em at almost the exact same time too! It was like we were cookie cutter friend or something! ;) .... I would share the messages here, but they are a bit gushy ... so I'll spare you.

Hannah Baker is a glimpse of God's grace in my life .... sure thing! But my glimpse for July 16, 2010 was getting a gushy, heartfelt message from a cookie cutter friend. :)

GoG 195: The Love of My Life

Ha! So the bad thing about not blogging my GoGs every single day like I planned in the beginning is that you sometimes forget what some of the GoGs were. I try to write down a quick phrase to remind me of that day's GoG.

July 15th (GoG 195) - Worked on SoZo stuff
July 16th (GoG 196) - Hung out with Hannah Baker
July 17th (GoG 197) - James and Hannah's wedding
etc.

Well, on the 15th ... I didn't write something down. And I can't remember for the life of me what my grace was for that day. Sad, I know. Lame, I know. Forgetting God's grace ... now that's just bad. ... Eventually, I looked through some SoZo records and saw that I worked on some SoZo stuff that day ... so that's what I'm gonna use for my glimpse of grace for the 15th of July. :)

SoZo.
My favorite thing - people - calling - passion - in the world!!!!!
My kids are so amazing! They make my life complete! I just see a picture of one of 'em, and I start thinking about how much I love each of them, how thankful I am to be called to youth ministry, what a blessing it is for them to be in my life. It's beyond a privilege and beyond grace to get PAID to love on my teenagers!!!! It's not a job at all most of the time ... it's just the love of my life! My kids are the love of my life! :)

All In 2010 ... 8 Months Late

So ... the following was a blog post I wrote the very first day of this year. I reread it tonight and thought "Oh my gosh! I haven't done this at all this year!" I haven't been "all in" this year. Ugh! I've been so self-centered for the past several months. I've been watching too much TV and not reading my Bible enough and not spending time praying for others like I used to ... and sinning more. Wow ....

So I want to take a look at this post again.
Here it is ....

Today, I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for a cold day of football with some good friends ... and I stopped brushing in the middle of this thought ...

I was thinking about last night. I met with some close friends for a New Year's Eve get-together. We played games, ate some good food, and laughed a lot together. It was a good time. While I was there, though, I got to thinking about how my friendships with these friends have grown a little distant lately. They are, without a doubt, some of my best friends, but we haven't spent much time together lately ... or really talked much either. We've all just been so busy! So we haven't had (or made) the time to nurture our friendships recently. And that's where the thought started. While I was brushing my teeth, my mind connected this thought with my relationship with Jesus. ..... When I don't spend time with Him, our relationship becomes a bit distant. Just like my best friends and I haven't been staying in touch as well and have grown a little distant so has my relationship with Jesus become distant because I haven't been really communing with Him for several months.

It's so true. Relationship is about togetherness. It's about that word communion that I threw at y'all in an earlier post ... it's about "an interchange of thoughts, about giving and receiving" ... things you can't do if you don't spend time with one another.

On Sunday, my pastor continued our study of the book of John, and toward the end of his sermon, he said three little words that I want to dedicate my life to this 2010.

I'm all in.

Yep ... this year, I want to wake up each day with "I'm all in" on my lips. I want to say "Lord, I'm yours. Use me. Mold me. Break me if need be. Just do your work in my life today. I want to be all for you." And part of that ... if not nearly all of it ... is communing with God. I can't be "all in" if I don't spend time with God. ....... So that be the goal. :) That be the grace God showed me today. GOD WANTS TO BE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH ME! He's been calling. He's been waiting. Which is grace in action. Grace is getting what we don't deserve. I don't deserve a God who wants to be in relationship with me so badly that He'll wait forever for me to come around if He needs to. He patiently waits at the door of my heart, gently knocking, saying "If you'd only let me in, you could have a life more abundant than you could ever imagine."

God's grace. Thank you, Jesus.
So today and everyday, Lord ... I'm all in.

John 10:10
... "Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly."


Man. That's deep stuff ... commitment kinds of stuff. And I didn't COMMIT myself to Christ this 2010. But wait! It's still 2010! And even if it wasn't, I could still start over. And that's what I'm doing - now.

Lord, forgive me for my selfishness.
Help me be all in.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

GoG 194: The Laugh with Pastor

As some of you know, SoZo went on a mission trip to Nashville, Tennessee recently. We had a good time, but I was a huge stressball for most of the trip. But there are some funny stories about my stress that came out of it all. If you read my GoGs for the week of the trip, you'll hear some of 'em!

A couple days after the trip, I was at the church working on some SoZo stuff ... and Pastor came in to pick something up. We got to talking about the trip, and I got to share some of the funny stories ... the kids laughin' at me for stressing about the tiniest things, inside jokes, me thinking a couple of the girls had been abducted. It was just hilarious! I was nearly crying thinking back on the trip and talking about it .... and I think Pastor Roger was laughing more at me than the stories. It was a good time ... and laughter is always grace in action ... always!

GoG 193: The Cupid Shuffle, the Brother, and the Basketball Court

Haha! ... I like to dance! It makes me laugh I like it so much!

I've been to several weddings this summer, and the last one of the summer - James and Hannah's wedding - was really the only one that had dancing. So I've been thinking about my wedding a bit ... ya know, the one way down the road ... when I meet the right guy and such. ;) ... When I think about my wedding, I almost solely think about my reception ... and even more specifically - the DANCING!!!! I've always said, "Sure, I'm excited about getting married ... and I'll kiss the guy and everything, but let's just go dance!!!!!" :D Haha! Love it!!!!

Okay ... let's get to the point ... I recently bought "Cupid Shuffle" on iTunes. SUCH a fun song! It has a choreographed dance to it ... those are always fun. And every time it comes on, I can't help but dance to it!!!! I was on my home from something a couple weeks ago, and when I got home, I pulled my car up next to our basketball court, opened the doors to my car, cranked up the music, and started dancing on our basketball court to the "Cupid Shuffle." It was a blast! And I couldn't help but laugh wondering what the neighbors were thinking! ;)

Well, my brother's a bit of a dancer himself. He used to hold big dance parties at our house when he was in high school. And he likes the "Cupid Shuffle." So I waited for him to get home, and when he pulled up, I yelled, "Wes! Come here! You're just in time!" So I cranked up the music and started dancing. Haha! He laughed at me a bit, but he joined right in for a minute or two! Ha! It made my night! Just a dancin' with my brother!

GoG 192: The Complete Trust

A couple weeks ago at Sr. High Bible Study, we talked about faith. And during our discussion, I articulated a conclusion that made me stop in mid sentence.

I started to say ... "When we believe that God is big and mighty and in control of all things, we will trust ...."
And I found myself stopping before I could finish the thought because I didn't believe what I was saying.

I struggle to trust God. I believe that He is big and mighty and in control of everything .... but wait. Do I? If I really believe that, then I would TRUST Him. Believing that God is BIG and MIGHTY and IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS ... IS ... trusting God. Trusting God is BELIEVING ... KNOWING ... that He is big and mighty and in control of everything. Why do I forget that so often? Why do I choose not to believe that so often???

Sr. High Bible Study, that night, was a source of conviction for me ... I realized, one step further, that I don't always trust God ... and trust Him completely. But I must!
Because ...
Ultimately, when we believe that God is big and mighty and in control of all things, we will trust Him.

And trust Him completely.

GoG 191: The Laughin' at Me

So y'all know this by now ... but I LOVE my SoZo kids!!!! ... Totally in love with 'em! .... July has been a purely "fun" month during SoZo 'cause everyone is just so busy all the time ... and it's summer ... and ya need to chill from time to time. The first Sunday we had a wedding, so no SoZo. The second Sunday of the month we had a movie night. We watched "Up." Very cute - if you haven't seen it. We ordered pizza and watched the movie together ... and we had a great turn out! 13 kids! The whole night was great ... just spendin' time with my favorites!

The highlight of the night ... and quite the glimpse of grace for me ... was laughin' at the movie. It doesn't take much to make me laugh ... and there are some funny parts in "Up." Now, those "funny" parts were mostly only funny to me. Haha! But the teens laughed at me laughing at the movie. Eventually, they all began watching me instead of the movie! We all laughed together. And it was hilarious!

GoG 190: The Bridal Shower

Well, here I am oober behind with my GoGs again. But ... I'm pressing on! ;)

Way back on a Saturday earlier this month, I went to Hannah Kay's (now Hannah Nilsen) bridal shower. It was a nice shower ... lots of warm smiles, and I had a good time spouting off jokes in my little corner ... about Hannah's "love" of Red Robin ... I laughed more than anyone else. Ha! I love laughing at myself.

But I think the greatest glimpse of grace of the day was simply being at the shower. I was invited. I don't know Hannah very well ... we've had maybe 4 short conversations ... and I got invited to her shower. :) I just made me smile. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

GoGs 185-189: The Lazy Days

So nearly the entire week after the mission trip-wedding madness, I was a total bum!

I slept most of the day on Monday ...

I slept in and watched movies all day on Tuesday ...

I had a movie date with myself on Wednesday ...

And I was lazy yet again on Thursday ...

Friday was a little more productive - I called up Uncle Mike, and we headed to the church to sing for a bit, and then I went out to eat with the family.

But golly! What a lazy week! But ya know? Sometimes, being lazy is such a gift. So that's how I'm gonna look at it ... a gift, a glimpse of grace. ;)

GoG 184: The Bridesmaid ... # 3 :)

July 4th was a pretty fun holiday this year! It always is 'cause how can you go wrong with fireworks and cookouts and friends and family? But this year, I was in my friend Tiff's wedding on the 4th instead of all those other things. We wore pretty red, white, and blue dresses ... I got to joke around with my friend Hannah (he he he) ... and Pastor Mike and Shelley and the family were in town ....... so it was a crazy good time!

I've been a bridesmaid three times now ... and it is always such a glimpse of grace - that I have so many close friends, that I can get all prettied up, that I can see Pastor Mike and Shelley ... it's just a good time every time!

GoGs 178-183: The SoZo Mission Trip!

So the week of our SoZo mission trip was pretty crazy (at least from my end) ... so it's hard to pinpoint each day of the trip. But! I do have 5 GoGs for 5 days of the trip.

June 28-July 2 :)
GoG 178: The Extra Time
All week, I was able to spend lots more time with my kids! Always a plus!!! I spent time with them on our work projects a bit, but most of our quality time was spent together in the evenings back at the hotel for swimming and cards and talks. It was great chatting with 'em, joking around with 'em, and simply just being with them. :)
GoG 179: The Bonding Time
Ha! It's kind of funny to call time with my senior guys "bonding time." That's kind of a girlie phrase. Oh well. ;) ... Most of the older guys in my group don't talk much in youth group. Sometimes, I think they only come out of feelings of obligation ... but then I realize that no one is forcing them to come - they are just faithful. :) Anyway ... they don't talk a whole lot ... they kind of keep to themselves and joke around amongst themselves. So it was great to have them open up their circle a bit and let me in some this past week. It was such a gift from God, as well as a glimpse of God's grace, to spend some quality time with them. :)
GoG 180: The Chat with Em
The last night of the trip, we went for chinese as a big group, and then SoZo and Barry and Emily came back to the hotel to swim. I jumped in the pool for a bit but got out to sit with Emily. It was so great to sit and catch up with each other. It's not very fun to live so far away from each other, but it makes me cherish our times together all the more, I think. Not much more ... 'cause I already cherished 'em a whole lot! ;)
GoG 181: The Mr. Joe :)
Ha! Mr. Joe was great! He was one of my favorite parts of the week, actually. He's a real passionate guy, full of life, and in love with the kids ... and with Jesus. I met him and Barry and Emily's wedding but didn't get to talk to him much. It was great to see him again and get to know another side of him. He was super helpful all week, a great encouragement, and just a ton of fun. And you gotta like a guy who smiles all the time, right? :)
GoG 182: The Dance Party!!!
One of the last days of the trip, Emily put me at the dance party station. Angelica, Kaycee, and I danced like crazy with all of the kids. Mr. Joe put on a worship DVD, and we danced together for God!!!! It was one of the best worship "services" I've had in a long time! Free ... free to be all in and vulnerable in front of God!!!
GoG 183: The first night of the trip, only half of our group got their on time 'cause some of the guys had a basketball tournament the day we left for Nashville. We all stayed up late waiting for the rest of the group to get in ... and Christina and I had a great time talking, laughing, and playing cards. I love that girl! She is a hoot ... and we have a great time together! She graduated in May, so she's headed off to college in the fall. So it was great to spend some quality time with her ... and oh, we laughed! ;)

All in all, the trip was pretty stressful for me ... I was in charge; I hadn't planned everything out before we left; I got discouraged about little things ... it was just rough for me. But I learned a whole lot about planning events, was convicted about keeping an eternal perspective, and had an amazing time with my kids! And my kids got something out of it too .... so I know God used it in the midst of its craziness!!!!! :D

Monday, July 12, 2010

GoG 177: The Brother Male Adult Leader

The day we left for Cottage Cove (SoZo's mission trip destination in Nashville, Tennessee), we were sitting in the orientation meeting with the Cottage Cove staff. Mr. Brent was going over rules with us, as well as activities and important news for the week. I sat next to my brother - he went as our male adult leader. And I found myself entirely thankful that he came. He's my brother. He's growing in his walk with the Lord. He was asking questions and making comments. And I got to sit next to him. I was just so thankful that he could come and wanted to come with us on the mission trip. What an answer to prayer. What a glimpse of grace. :)

GoG 176: The Teary Bride and Groom

Well, so much for sticking to ANY of my New Year's Resolutions this year! Ha! I've stuck with this one better than the other two I made, but still ... I have blogged no where near EVERY day this year. Ha! Oh, well. Just keep tryin' ...

The day before SoZo left for our mission trip was the last day I didn't blog ... so here goes ...
GoG 176 - I went to my friend Nathanael's wedding on the 26th of June, and it was one of the best weddings I've been to. The ceremony was nice. The pastor who married Nathanael and Danielle was Nathanael's good friend, a youth pastor at Clayton Christian Church (where Nathanael interned before his current youth pastor job). He explained what the vows meant rather than just having Nathanael and Danielle repeat them. That was fun. But my favorite part of the wedding and my glimpse of grace for the day was when Nathanael and Danielle BOTH cried! :)
From the moment Nathanael walked into the sanctuary to stand with his groomsmen, he was fighting the tears! Sooo cute! And then, as Danielle walked down the aisle, they both were crying!!!! It was so awesome! It was THE best response to each other I've ever seen a bride and groom have at their wedding!
I just found such grace in two people loving each other so much. I hope my husband cries at my wedding ... 'cause we all know I'm definitely going to!!!! :D

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Zachary Levi

Hey, all! I know I'm supposed to be blogging about my glimpses of grace ... and whatta ya know? I'm super far behind again! But let's take a short break. :)

Ever had a crush on an actor or actress or thought their character was adorable or just thought they were flat cool?
I try not to get "hung up" on actors/actresses ... mostly, 'cause it's just silly. But can ya help liking certain actors the best?? :D I think my favorite actor is Zachary Levi .... the star of NBC's Chuck!!! Robert Downey Jr. is probably a close second ... but Zach is the best! :D

Today, I googled "Christians in Hollywood," and Zachary Levi was an "up-and-coming" Christian in Hollywood ... I think they mean he's becoming more and more known as a Christian. But even if that's not the definition of "up-and-coming," he is claiming to be a Christian in interviews just the same. I read most of this interview (to follow) just a few minutes ago and thought I'd blog about it ... or rather Zach Levi. It's kind of long ... I didn't read it all. But skim through it, and read the parts that talk about God, prayer, etc. ... if you're curious, that is.


From Relevant Magazine: Q&A With Zachary Levi
Posted by Zac Fan in MEDIA
This was from a few years ago when Zac was on “Less Than Perfect”

For Zachary Levi, there has never been a backup plan.

For the 22-year-old actor and co-star of the ABC sitcom Less Than Perfect, acting was his calling; it was what he was supposed to do. After being cast in supporting roles in two NBC sitcom pilots (which weren’t picked up) and the TV movie Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie, Levi wasn’t satisfied. As a Christian in Hollywood, the most intensely competitive atmosphere in the entertainment world, he is constantly working to maintain both his positive attitude and his personal ministry in a jaded industry.

[RELEVANT magazine:] You were a mainstay in the Ojai Theater for several years doing The Outsiders, Godspell and other plays. What did you learn from live theater that is helping your career now?

[Zachary Levi:] Theater has been my entire training process because I never took any acting classes—any kind of conventional training. I learned everything that I know now from doing constant theater, working with different directors, writers and other actors. The actor that I am today would not exist had it not been for everyone that I’ve worked with before, God working within me, constantly keeping my eyes and my ears open to act as a sponge to soak that stuff up and then be able to spit it out when I needed to.

[RM:] Was your family involved in your acting at that point? How did they encourage you?

[ZL:] My family was always very supportive. Whether you’re an actor or not, everybody hears the horror stories of people going to L.A. and trying to be an actor, and their dreams are crushed, and they end up working for the IRS. So they were always protective to the point that they wanted me to have a backup plan, which is understandable, but there was always something inside of me that knew: backup plan, schmackup plan.

[RM:] Before Less Than Perfect you were a hard-working actor in Hollywood like a lot of people are today. What advice would you give others about going to audition after frustrating audition?

[ZL:] The first advice that I would give is to really spend time in prayer to make sure that this is exactly what God wants you to be doing and not just something that you really feel like you should be doing. Many times I have come home from a really devastating audition, and I’d be really thoroughly depressed because it was a role that I really was hoping for. I realized how crucial having a walk with God was because I could turn around and say, “It didn’t happen, but obviously it wasn’t God’s will.” People who don’t have God in their lives only have themselves to blame. So they look back at the audition and they say, “I didn’t do a good enough job.” But so often it has nothing to do with how good you did in the audition; it has to do with the fact that you’re a brunette and they were looking for a blonde. So, to me, the most important factor in all of the rejection was that I had a walk with God. As far as being an actor is concerned, you have to have passion. If you’re not bringing the passion of the character into the room with you, you might as well not come into the room at all.

[RM:] Now you’re part of one of the hottest casts in TV, and you’re playing the role of the archenemy. How have the last few months been for you?

[ZL:] It has been really crazy. You get free stuff; you get to be in the newspaper, in magazine articles and on television shows. It’s weird. To me, it hasn’t all completely sunk in yet. But at the same, I hope it never does. I hope it never completely sinks in. I hope there’s always at least a small part of me that’s always surprised, always taken aback, always childlike or innocent in the whole process.

[RM:] Is it hard to maintain that innocence in this environment?

[ZL:] Overall, as a human beings its hard to maintain that innocence. Even now sometimes I’ll find myself in a situation, and I’ll think to myself—and not in a really negative way but—“I wonder if they know who I am.” And not like, “Don’t you know who I am?” like I’m this huge guy, but I wonder if they know if that I am this guy on this TV show, more out of curiosity than anything else. But the problem is that the curiosity, in an instant, can turn into conceitedness. To me that’s what makes putting on the full armor of God everyday so important. Even saying that right now I feel like such a hypocrite, because reading your Bible and really spending alone time in prayer with the Lord every day, I stumble in that.

[RM:] Is Hollywood a difficult atmosphere to be in as a Christian?

[ZL:] Absolutely. The atmosphere in Hollywood in general is very anti-conservative, very anti-Christian. The liberal segment of Hollywood, which is 80 percent of it if not more, they look at Christians as hypocrites that are false and fake. The tough part is that in many cases I can’t argue with them. My job on my set, I believe, is to first just love people and gain that trust with people where they know that I really do love them and care about their well-being, so that when they are running into problems, they will hopefully, at some point, come to me and ask me, “What is your peace all about? What is your comfort all about? Where do you get your love? Where do you get your talents? And I can turn to them and say without blinking, “Jesus Christ.”
You can’t just come out there and say “Hey, I’m a Christian, and I’m gonna beat you into thinking the way that I do.” You can’t do that. It’s not about manipulation so much as it’s about getting in on someone’s life on the ground floor. So more than anything, that’s what I’m trying to do now. Just build relationships with everyone that I work with.

Now ...
First -
Do y'all watch Chuck?
Second -
So .... what do you think? I wonder if Zach Levi really gets it about God. I want him to really GET IT so badly!!!! I want to chat with him in heaven someday ... SING with him in heaven someday! (Did you know he can sing??!!) It sounds to me like Zach is either a true Christian but just falling into the craziness of Hollywood and feeling like he should stick to his Christian ideals but not living 'em out ... OR ... he's one of those proclaimers but not livers ... OR ... he's one of those relative Christians - "whatever's good for you is good for you, and whatever's good for me is good for me," "God isn't judgmental," etc. I think this interview was also done about 7 years ago or something - he was 22. ... Who knows? I hope he really is a Christian though.

Just some thoughts ...
I hear Chuck Season 4 starts in September!!!!