Friday, March 26, 2010

GoG 83: The Breakdown

So .... I had a "breakdown" tonight in my BBF's car. It wasn't an easy "cry fest" and "spill my heart fest," but it was needed. Beyond needed. :)

I found out that I haven't let go of some disappointments that have happened in my life over the past 3 years. That's a bummer. But it's also grace ... God's grace! ..... God cares about me enough to bring about comments (moments) in our lives to bring the uglies to the surface. He doesn't want 'em to fester within us. He wants us to deal with 'em and let of 'em and ask forgiveness for 'em and move on from 'em. Praise God for that!!!!!

And praise God for a BBF who will listen and give advice and pray and stand by me in the midst of my uglies.

I will not be bitter. I will let go. I will trust God completely and overcome. And it's all because of a little thing called grace. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

GoG 82.5: The Life-Giving Friend

In addition to becoming an unofficial aunt today, I met with my dear friend, Sara-Ruth. Sara-Ruth and I have described ourselves as very similar to one another but different at the same time. We both stress about little things. We both love deeply but are afraid of being vulnerable. We are really hard on ourselves. We get worked up (excited) about simple/goofy/wonderful things. The list could keep going. :)

Sara-Ruth is one of my all-time favorite people to chat with, spend time with, just sit close to. She is ... as she put it - a life-giving friend. She talked tonight about how I make her feel better ... that she goes away from me feeling as though she can take on the world again. She said that when she spends time with me it's as if I "radiate something ... there's life there." And so she, in so many words described me as a life-giving friend.

But that is what she is for me. I told her that, once I leave her, I can say ... "Okay, life! Let's do this thing!" All I have to do is see Sara-Ruth, and I am feeling better than before I saw her. All I have to do is get a hug from her or see her and her family at La Ranchera and chat with them for 2 minutes, and I feel better ... as if a new breath of life was breathed into me for the day. .... Not many friends do that. I think I count the number of friends who do that for me on one hand.

Sara-Ruth is so genuine, passionate, God-fearing .... a ray of sunshine, really. And she doesn't even know it. And it is her friendship ... her life-giving friendship that is my second glimpse of grace for the day ... GoG 82.5.

GoG 82: The Baby Wade!!!

Baby Wade is here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maggie has been one of my very best friends since I was 6 and she was 7. And she is married and had a baby today!!! When did we get so old!!!!

And baby Wade is my glimpse of grace for today. I'm an unofficial aunt!!!! :)

Oliver James Wade.
8 pounds 11 ounces.
Born at 9:14am Wednesday, March 24, 2010!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

GoG 81: The Emily Day :)

I got to hang out with my Emily today!

We laughed together.
We ate soup and grilled cheese together.
We took a walk in the park together.

And that's grace! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

GoG 80: The Answer to Prayer

My GoG for today is that God is providing people to help with SoZo!!!!!!!

About 3 weeks ago, my parents volunteered to help until some other people could step in. And this weekend, two people from church told me they would love to help out with SoZo! Two very capable people who will do a great job! And I am sooo excited! What an answer to prayer!

Look out, world! The SoZo youth are a comin'!!!!! :D

GoG 79: The Jon Friend

So ... today I got to chat with my dear friend, Jon. Gosh, I love that guy! ..... We've been going to the same church together for several years ... but lately, over the past year or so, we haven't been able to stay in touch as well. ... Oh, we see each other just about every Sunday ... but usually, all I get is a wink or a wave or a smile from the stage or a "hey, how's it goin'?" And a lot of the time, none of the above 'cause our paths don't always cross at church. Sometimes, we get to squeak a little more out when we play football with the gang ... but not always.

But today .... oh yeah! :)

I was so encouraged and filled with joy, really, when Jon walked with me to the football field when I first got to the game. I almost burst with joy when he told me he asked for me to be on his team (I had previously told him that I wanted to be on his team). I was excited to get a hug from him ... as well as several winks and smiles and laughs. He also made fun of me quite a bit .... all those guys do. I must have the "lame disease" or something. ;) Haha! And I was blessed to get to chat with him as we walked back to our cars when we left the game. I was able to chat with him just a little about his wife and son ... we didn't chat too long ... but he did say ... "I think about you a lot and your friendship." And I was incredibly blessed to know that he thinks of me as a dear friend .... because I just love him to death! I would give my life for that guy! Jon is one of the few people in my life whom I would literally say, to his face, "You just make me feel better about life." He really is one of my "pick-me-up" friends. He just holds a really special place in my heart.

We had the chance to chat and interact and laugh a lot together today. And it's long-time friends who are one of God's greatest glimpses of grace in our lives. Thank you, Lord, for friendship!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

GoG 78: The Compliment from Ben :)

Today, one of my best friends told me I'm an amazing person.


And that's about all I needed to continue on after a busy and overwhelming evening of prepping for tomorrow morning's announcements at church. Whew! I don't know why I'm so nervous!

Friendship. Compliments. Responsibilities. .... They're all apart of God's grace in my life. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

GoG 77: The Volunteer Excursion

So ... this was my day today ....

The pictures should say it all ... but just in case they don't ...... ;)

I've been volunteering with the after school program at Shepherd Community for almost a year and a half now. I love it! ... I also pick up food for a couple of the after school locations on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. They had a special pick up today (Friday) that I volunteered for.

The task: I was to drive to IPS #65, load some food into my car, take it back to Shepherd and help unload it, and go home. Also, they wanted us to arrive at our location (mine being IPS 65) between noon and 3pm ... a good detail for the story you are about to read. ;)

What actually happened:
11:51am - I leave my house in Danville to head for the Eastside.
11:56am - I pull into McDonald's for a sweet tea ... what else? ;)
12:26pm - I leave a gas station in Avon, still heading to the Eastside.
Roundabout 12:57pm - I pull into another gas station off of 31 North to ask for directions to IPS 65.
Roundabout 1:15pm - I arrive at IPS 65. .... The secretary takes me into the room where all of the food is being kept. I see that there are about 5 big trash cans full of loose canned/boxed foods ... as well as 8 to 10 boxes/bags full of food. Amazing! It was great to see so much!!!! But then came the thoughts ... "How am I gonna get this food into my car? The trash cans most certainly won't fit."
Roundabout 1:30pm - I call Shepherd asking about transporting the food ... "Do y'all have some bags or something I can pick up at Shepherd and bring back to IPS 65 to help load the food in my car?"
2:20pm - I leave Shepherd after retrieving some bags. Notice the time frame .... yeah ... I got lost trying to get from IPS 65 to Shepherd Community ..... ha ha! ;)
Roundabout 4:35pm - I arrive back at Shepherd to drop off the food. ... During this just over 2-hour stretch of time, I got lost (again) trying to get back to IPS 65 from Shepherd ... 4 or 5 teachers and about 8 to 10 students and myself take ALL of the boxed/trash canned food and put them (individually!) into trash bags and throw them wherever we can find room in my car ... I drive back to Shepherd and get stopped by a train - probably the longest one I've had to wait at ever! Ha ha! ... and then I finally arrive at Shepherd.
Roundabout 5:00pm - I say goodbye to Mr. Derrick and take off for the ride back to Danville.

Whew!!!!!!! What a day!!!!! A trip that I thought would take 2 1/2, maybe 3 hours, turned into a 6-hour excursion!!!!! Man, oh man ....
To be honest, I was a bit put out in the beginning. I did a lot of driving today. I got lost more than once. We had a tough time getting all of that food to fit into my car. I had a long drive home afterwards. I was a bit bummed about the overall experience to put it lightly. BUT! I prayed over and over .... I sang worship songs .... I even danced in the car to some TobyMac and Family Force 5! I didn't want my attitude to ruin the day. I didn't have a great attitude the entire day .... but I did handle it better than expected, I think. Overall. ;)

AND! ... God, in all of His mighty grace, gave me some grace!
Firstly - I love Shepherd Community! I think they do amazing work with the people of the Eastside, and I am so blessed and privileged to serve with them to some extent. So even though not everything went according to plan, I would, somehow, do it all over again. ;) ... I was blessed to serve ... even though it was a fairly difficult day. :)
Secondly - a little boy at IPS 65 gave me a sucker. Ha! Gosh, it was great. I was walking out to my car about to pull it around to start loading up all of the food ... feeling overwhelmed and hurried ... and he just looked at me and said, "Would you like a sucker?" I asked, "A sucker?" I was taken a little off guard ... by the gesture and by the grace I saw in the gesture ... and I looked at him, smiled, and walked towards him saying ... "Ya know, that would make my day so much better actually. Thank you." And I took his sucker. :)
Lastly - While we were loading up the car, one of the students, a girl probably 11 or 12 years old, looked at me and said, "You're really pretty." .... Again, I was taken off guard by both the timing and genuine nature of the comment .... as well as the amazing grace I found in it. Surprised, I looked at her, smiled, and said ... "Oh. Well, thank you!" .... And as I walked away, back toward the room with the food, I smiled really big, laughed a loud, and said, "Thank you, Lord!"

Ha! It's amazing to me that out of a more than fairly stressful day .... God still managed to show me glimpses of His grace. Amazing. It makes me smile really big just remembering the day! What?! Ha! And yes, I am smiling ... really big ... right now. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your mighty, abounding, and amazing GRACE!!!

GoG 76: The W.O.W. Hearts

I finally found a small group!

Recently, I stopped going to my parents' small group because Andy (one of my SoZo guys) wanted to start up a Sr. High Bible Study on the same night. I can't resist my SoZo kids ... so I agreed to tag along for the ride. We recently switched the night to Mondays instead ... and I've been looking for a small group to go to. I set out looking for a college-age group somewhere ('cause my church doesn't have one, sadly). I haven't had any luck .... but I did find another small group ... the W.O.W. (Women of Worth) group at Andrea Shuman's house every other Thursday. I've been wanting to join this group for quite a while but couldn't until now. So I'm excited.

Sharing my heart wtih ... and seeing more into the hearts of these ladies last night was a huge blessing. And I think this group is going to be an anchor and a great encouragement in the coming months! And the sharing of hearts was my GoG yesterday. :)

GoG 75: The Journey to Contentment

Like I said in a recent post, I've been battling discontentment lately. Hannah and I have been pushing each other and encouraging each other in this area all week. It's great to have a buddy! :) ... And my glimpse of grace for this past Wednesday was just that .... Hannah and I were texting each other, facebooking each other, praying for each other ... and our messages were all about contentment - how we don't want Satan to win and how we're gonna keep striving to be content no matter what! And it is just great to have a buddy to help you along.

So I guess Hannah is my GoG for the day on Wednesday ... but lots of days these days too. :)

GoG 74: The Pride and Prejudice Prayer

Well, this is a very girlie thing to blog about ....... good thing I'm a girl, eh? :D

I watched Pride and Prejudice the other night (one of my favorite movies ... probably in my top ten) ... and the scene at the very end of the movie where Mr. Darcy is kissing Mrs. Darcy (Elizabeth) on the cheek and then on the nose and then on the other cheek and then finally on the lips ... all the while saying "Mrs. Darcy" ... this scene always gives me those warm fuzzies and googly eyes and future husband-ish kinds of desires. Like it does any girl who is truly a girl. ;)

But the other night this scene did more than all of this for me. .... Believe it or not, it actually pointed me to thoughts of Jesus. :) I shut off the movie and wrote in my prayer journal the following prayer. And the fact that this movie moved me to thoughts about my relationship with Jesus is, amazingly, God's grace in action in my life. :)

My Prayer:
It's cheesy, but in watching Pride and Prejudice tonight, I am reminded of my love story with You. You know my heart. You know how much I desire to find and be with my future husband. That desire is becoming stronger all the time. It's getting more and more difficult to wait. I battle discontentment in this area of my life. But Lord, I know that You are standing right by my side. Lord, I know that You have a plan for my singleness as well as my married life. Help me trust You with all of this. Help me be content. Help me be patient. Help me desire more of You.
as Pride and Prejudice ended tonight, I let out a sigh, wishing for a love story like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. But then I was reminded of my love story with You. I was reminded that You are so much more than any Mr. Darcy You could give me. You stirred my heart and brought my thoughts back to You. Continue helping me desire You above all else. Even though I desire an earthly love story, I know that it will not compare to the perfect and eternal love relationship that I have with You. Lord, never let me desire anyone or anything more than I desire You. I want You, Lord. And I want You to be my all forever.
Thank You, Jesus. Keep working in my heart, and be glorified in me. I love You, Lord."

After reading through this prayer again, I see that I've repeated myself - each paragraph repeats the same big ideas. Interesting to think about. As I kept writing, I kept processing the thoughts that this movie brought to mind .... and in saying them back to God, it helped me grasp the depth of these thoughts. Hmm ... interesting.

GoG 73: The Prayer Text

So ... I have this really cool friend named Hannah Baker ... and she is not only cool but amazing!!!! :) .... I've been really struggling with content over the past week .... a lot in general over the past few years ... but specifically this week. Hannah and I have been working through it together in a lot of ways.

Well, Monday was a really rough day for me .... springing off of my Acquire the Fire/humiliating experience I mentioned in my last few posts. And I texted Hannah asking for prayer .... and this was her reply ....

"You got it. ... 'Lord, I ask that You lift the discouragement from Mical's heart. Cover her with Your love, Your peace, and give her contentment. Thank You that she is coming to You, and thank You for her friendship. Give her strength tonight. Allow these feelings to give way to joy. Thank You, Lord, for Your presence in our lives.' ... I LOVE YOU, MICAL ... will keep praying for you tonight."

Isn't that an amazing prayer??? I was incredibly blessed that she didn't just say "I'll pray for you" ... but that she actually sent her prayer to me! Oh, written prayers are such a blessing! And her prayer really helped me through the rest of the day. Yet another glimpse of God's grace in my life. :)

GoG 72: The Humiliating Experience

Sunday night, after SoZo, was rough for me. Although Acquire the Fire was good overall, it was a rough weekend in some ways. A few little things happened/were said that got me down. I struggle with insecurities (as we all do) ... one of the big ones for me is feeling inadequate ... in several areas but specifically with SoZo. I know I'm where God wants me, but I still struggle with my insecurities in this area of my life.

Well, I was worn out from the weekend, dwelling too much on those few little things ... and discouraged about an individual in my group. The situation after youth group on Sunday left me humiliated, disrespected, and feeling even more burned out and inadequate than before. ... But somehow, by God's grace, I remembering thinking ... "Now I know ..." ... The details of this story are vague to you all ... because they must be. But hopefully you get my drift - something humiliating happened to me, but God gave me a greater understanding that did and will help me see things through His eyes a little better. And really, that's all we need to know, huh? :)

God, in all of His grace, can use humiliating experiences for our good. Man, He's good! ;)

GoG 71: The Thousands in Worship

Last Saturday, I was with my youth at Acquire the Fire ... like I mentioned in my last post.

There is nothing like worshiping with thousands of believers. While we were at the event, I heard the number "6,000" thrown around. That's a lot of people!!! And we worshiped God together. It is amazing. At one point during that day, the worship band, Unhindered, led us in "How Great Thou Art." It was the best worship all weekend! I was lifting my hands and really worshiping for the first time in a while ... I'm sad to say. And it was perfect to hear everyone singing together ... singing to the God of the Universe TOGETHER.

It was my glimpse of grace for the day. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

GoG 70: The "Kaycee is an Amazing Girl"

Will I ever be faithful to this thing called blogging????

Ha! If you think about it, to blog every single day is a lofty goal. I sure know how to set 'em, don't I? Ha ha! Well ... since I don't live to blog, these don't come every single day ... but weekly/biweekly isn't bad, right? Ha! Riiigghhtt ....

Anyways ...
Last Friday night, a couple of great adults from my church and I took the SoZo-ers to Acquire the Fire - a weekend event of encountering God. ... Everyone arrived in more than plenty of time to get to the event on time. But (the first of the "buts") we ended up driving back to one of kids' houses to put an extra seat in her van so that we could all right in one vehicle. But #2 - Someone forgot something at the church, so we had to stop back by there before we could head to Ball State University for the event. But #3 - There was a crash on I-69, so we had to take a longer route to get there. But #4 - There was traffic because Mical didn't think about rush hour ... and more traffic because of the crash. But #5 - It was really rainy and hard to see signs and buildings once we got to Ball State. But #6 - The directions didn't lead us to the building we were looking for, so we searched in the dark, rainy night for "Worthern Arena" ... 45 minutes of searching, which put us 30 minutes late to the event. Whew! It was an excursion to get to this place!

And in the midst of it all, I was "freaking out" a little, as I often do when things don't go as I expect them to. I made a comment like, "By the time we get there, the event will be over." To this, one of my amazing youth group girls responds with ... "Awe. Have a little faith, Mical." To which I shut up right quick! Ha! I was humbled - incredibly - by one of my youngest SoZo-ers.

Kaycee is an amazing girl. She has actually taught me a lot in the time that I've known her. I met her a few years back when she was a little 3rd grader. She was in my VBS class that summer. Now, Kaycee is in a wheelchair ... her legs don't work. She was simply born that way. And I share that fact for no other reason than to praise her all the more! Kaycee is an amazing girl, like I've already said. .... I remember being terrified when she came to my VBS class that summer. This is probably petty of me ... but I'm just being honest here ... I thought to myself, "Oh no. What do I do? This girl is in a wheelchair?!" I was nervous, wondering if she'd get to do the same activities the other kids were going to do, if she could keep up, if she would be "weird," etc., etc. Stupid, ridiculous, judgmental thoughts, I know!!!! But I was sooo blessed by her ... and so humbled because SHE BLEW ALL THE OTHER KIDS AWAY!!! Kaycee is an amazing girl (time #3)! You would NEVER know that her legs don't work! She is one of the most positive, strong (physically and emotionally!), and uplifting people I know! I am blown away by her because she is so awesome!!!! She really blows by people. .... She wheeled her wheelchair faster than any of those kids during the games at VBS. She got excited and participated better and more enthusiastically than any of those kids who could use both of their legs that summer at VBS! She was more positive, more friendly, more fun than those other kids at VBS that year. ... Kaycee is an amazing girl.

I say all of that about Kaycee to say that she humbled me last Friday night when I had no faith that the night was gonna be more than alright. And she humbles me nearly every time I see her. And she was my glimpse of grace last Friday. God's grace: Kaycee really is an amazing girl.

Friday, March 12, 2010

GoG 69: The Child's Prayer (Part 2)

Well ... I'm sort of on time with this. It's 12:15am, so I'm a little late .... but at least I only have one to write instead of 12, 18, or 227.

I think I had several glimpses of grace today ...
- The weather was warmer ... rainy but warmer (warmer than 25 degrees ... so that's good) ... I also kind of like chilly (50 degrees) and rainy ... it would get old after a while (like, I think I'll be tired of it by the end of the weekend) ... but I was good with it today. :)
- I talked with a middle-eastern girl about her upcoming marriage today in the writing center. We actually collaborated in writing a play about her proposal experience. We laughed and worked well together - good session.
- I got to go to after school ... and I was so blessed even though I didn't feel like going beforehand.
- I listened to a really cool lady, who happens to be a youth pastor, named Jeanne Mayo ... and her talk about "Surviving the Pressures and Demands of Youth Ministry" was a huge blessing. Reminded me to keep an ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE. ALWAYS a good reminder!
- I snuggled with my blanket, some popcorn, some sweet tea, and Sister Act 2 tonight .... and teared up and got all excited when the folks in the movie started singing and dancing and winning the all-state music competition!
- I got to spend time with some of my SoZo kids .... sr. high Bible study was tonight ... always good to see my kids.

... I think I could keep going. But one GoG that stands out is little Hannah praying at after school. There's just something about a child praying. I've posted about her prayers before. But I found myself, during her prayer, grinning really big and joy welling up inside me. It was for different reasons this time ... mostly just that she is so young and yet she grasps the things of God. A child's prayer really is an amazing thing if we just stop and take the time to listen and take it all in. Praise you, Lord, for grabbing some of us when we are so incredibly young. Thank you for saving some of us at such a young age. It is only by your grace that little children can know you truly and wholly.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MOH Speech :)

Last month ... February 13, to be exact, I had the incredible privilege of being the Maid of Honor to my best friend in the entire world. Yes, believe it or not, Emily Nicole Karas (MacDonald) asked ME to be her right-hand lady! The most amazing woman in the world asked ME!!!!

I thought I'd post my Maid of Honor speech here ..... :)

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am long-winded and emotional when I talk in front of people. …. I want to say I will be neither of those things today, but I’m pretty sure I would be lying. So hang in there with me for the next few minutes … this is my best friend we’re talking about here.

And gosh …. where do you start with your best friend? ….. I’ve decided to start with a Bible verse. 1 Samuel chapter 18 talks about a friendship … probably the most distinct and intimate and cherished friendship in the whole Bible – the friendship of Jonathan and David. 1 Samuel chapter 18 verse 1 says, “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved David as himself.” When I found this verse a couple years ago, I sent it to Emily, and we both agreed that it describes our friendship perfectly. It’s our BBF verse.

So … to say all of that … I not only have the privilege of carrying the title “Maid of Honor” … I have the privilege of being the BBF of Emily Nicole Karas … err, I’m sorry Emily Nicole MacDonald. BBF stands for Bosom Buddy Forever. Yes, we are that cheesy. The word “bosom” is special to Emily and me because its definition couldn’t be more spot on. The word “bosom” means “to embrace with or as with the arms; held close; intimate; cherished; dear; as a bosom friend.” Emily and I embrace at least twice every time we see each other … a hello hug and a goodbye hug. We are the most intimate of friends, sharing our heart’s deepest longings and struggles, praying for one another, and loving each other in a way I didn’t know was possible in an earthly friendship. And these examples are just a few reasons why we are bosom friends.

EmilyWem and King Barry, I am so excited for y’all. I’m not sure there is a more beautiful couple. Barry, you are one of the most upstanding, God-fearing men I have ever met. You are amazing, and I’m so excited that you belong to Emily. And Emily, you are incredible. You are my love, my other half, my #1 role-model, my bosom friend. I am so excited for the new callings God is placing on your life! ….. But I’ve told you before … I think my heart is breaking. I know you’re not dying, as you’ve told me so many times before. I know you’re not moving to Guam or some crazy, faraway place … you’re moving 5 hours away. But 5 hours is not 12 minutes to 272 Lincoln Hills. Em, until I find that future husband of mine, you have my heart. Everything feels better when you’re with me. …. When you’re simply standing in the same room with me, life is better. What am I gonna do without you? …. Oh, there’s no doubt … I will be driving 5 hours some days just so that we can make a Taco Bell run … and then head over to McDonald’s to get some BBF sweet tea. There’s no doubt that we’ll text and call … well, we may not call because we’re both afraid of phones … but Facebook … that internet do-dad will be our constant friend. And we’ll write “love notes” … as Jason likes to call them … on each other’s pages. We’ll take road trips to see each other. We’ll live and laugh and love together still … and apart from each other. BBFness doesn’t die with distance. But oh, how I’ll miss you, love.

There’s really no good way to end these kinds of sappy speeches, but I’ve carried on long enough. So … Emily MacDonald, I love you more than you will ever know. And I will end by saying just that …. I love you. And Barry and Emily, congratulations … I love you too, King Barry. Cheers!

GoG 68: The ATF Trip

I spent a good chunk of the day today getting ready for our SoZo trip to Muncie for Acquire the Fire. Acquire the Fire (ATF) is a Friday night/Saturday event devoted to worship and getting into God's word for teenagers! I went when I was a freshman in high school ... haven't been back since ... but it was tons of fun and really pointed me back to Christ.

Since Pastor Mike and Shelley left over 2 years ago now, SoZo hasn't done any real trips. Sure, we went to King's Island a couple of times ... but nothing really great - nothing life-changing. This year, we are going to Acquire the Fire and Nashville, TN for a mission trip. I'm pretty stoked about it!

This weekend's trip should be great! And prepping for it today helped me remember what a privilege it is to go on trips like this, how fun they are, and how much I've missed them. And by God's grace, we are going again! Praise the Lord!

GoG 67: The 60 Degrees!

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees outside!

60 degrees!!!!!!

God's grace? I think so.

'Nough said. :)

GoG 66: The Possibilities

My job at the writing center is gonna end at the end of next month .... and I don't know what second part-time (or even full-time job outside of youth group) I'm gonna find. I don't wanna sit behind a desk all day or grade SAT tests or something lame like that. I want to work with kids and youth! At the least - interact with people on a fairly intimate level ... no "how are you's?" and "how can I help you's" over the phone. Blah. Give me some people, yo!!!! :D

Several weeks ago, I found a summer camp at Ben Davis Christian Church. It's a Monday through Friday gig .... and I'd get to hang out with kids all day everyday! And be outside too! Sounds amazing, I know! ..... Well, Monday I found another summer camp job at the Avon park. I am applying for both!!!!! We'll see if I get accepted to one. But oh, the possibilities! And those possibilities are my grace for last Monday. God gives us things to hope for. God gives us opportunities to look forward to. God fulfills our dreams and desires and hopes!!!! Now, that's grace!

GoG 65: The Shelley Phone Call

Sunday night after youth group I called Shelley in Poplar Bluff. I called to get t-shirt sizes for the family ... but all in all, we had a great conversation.
We talked about ...
- Youth ministry
- Guys
- Singleness
- Difficult times in youth ministry
- Icees (ya know, the slushy kind of drinks)
- Good times in ministry
- Being CALLED to ministry
- Our youth
Good stuff.
And it was so good to hear her voice ... even better that I get to see her 2 weeks from Friday!!!

GoG 64: The 23rd Birthday :)

Last Saturday was my birthday ... March 6, 2010 made for my 23rd birthday.

My birthday, by itself, is God's grace in action because I made it to another birthday.

But also .... it was a good day.
- Lunch with Hannah and Los Rancheros (our favorite spot)
- Travel plans were attempted (Hannah and I want to travel the U.S.)
- Sweet tea was drunk (oh, my favorite!)
- Games were played
- Friends were fellowshipped
- "Happy birthdays" were given

Good times were had by all. :)

GoG 63: The Writing Center That Changed My Life!

Last Friday, after I got done working in the writing center, I stayed after an unusually long time. Yes, my last session went longer than it was supposed to ... but I got to talkin' with some really cool ladies I work with. Tere, the director of the writing center ... and Lynn, one of our faculty tutors. Both of them are awesome professors at IUPUI and amazing tutors in our stinkin' awesome writing center. They have both been a great encouragement to me over the past three years. They both believed in me from the start, when I was sooooo nervous I didn't think I could withstand the training seminar class, much less be a tutor .... and they have constantly encouraged me since then.

We got to talking about all kinds of things ... but in the middle of our conversation ... Tere turns around from the computer she was facing and blurts out, "Mical, you have grown so much ... I was listening to little snipets of your sessions this afternoon, and you have come so far ... you are so confident." And Lynn chimed in with, "I agree. You are so much more confident." .... And I was so blessed to hear those compliments because the writing center really has changed my life. My work in the writing center has had one of the most profound influences on my life out of anything I've ever done. Seriously. I have grown in confidence as a writer, as a READER .... but most importantly, as a person!!!! I have learned skills that will help me all throughout life. I have grown up and come out of my shell quite a bit. I have really grown ... as an individual. And working in the writing center has been such a gift in my life. So it was great to hear such compliments and reminders! God's grace! That He allows us to grow and prosper!

GoG 62: The Little Brother

Last Thursday, my brother came home to get my dad's car. He was driving down to Florida with some of his buddies the next day. So I got to see him for a whole 3 hours before he left. Wahoo. Ha! .... Well, I took what I could get.

I bought him some things to take on the trip (since it was our birthday on Saturday and all ... yes, we share the same birthday ... and he's two years younger than I am ... weird, I know ... but fun).
- A beach towel taller than he is
- A travel pillow (to which he texted me Saturday morning telling me "This pillow is money" ... in Wes language, that means he really likes it!) Yay!
- A frisbee
- And mixed nuts ... yeah, he's a health nut, so I thought it fit him well. ;)
He was pretty excited.

And I fixed him breakfast the next morning before he left for the trip ... to which he said ... "Thanks, Mike!"

We also laughed together quite a bit ... we do that when he comes home. :)

A night with the little brother. I have a little brother. Thank you, God. Oh, your grace is so sweet!

GoG 61: The Scribbly Lines

At one point, she showed me how to draw a pictures by scribbling lines. And here's what we came up with - together. :)

And this picture, by itself, is God's grace in action in my life because it is tangible proof that I am living out my calling to love on kids. :) What a gift!

GoG 60: The BBF Phone Call

A week ago Tuesday, EmilyWem called me on the phone. It was our first long-distance BBF phone call. We talked for 56 minutes and 59 seconds!

And it was such a dear blessing to hear her voice. It was almost as if she were right next to me. And it reminded me that no matter how far apart we are, we will always be intimate friends ... bosom friends, to be exact. And bosomness is God's grace in action ... because I don't deserve such an amazing friend ... such a perfect match ... such my other half .... as Emily Nicole MacDonald. :)

GoG 59: The Stranger's Prayer

The very last session of the youth pastor's conference was held a week ago Monday. It was the last talk about leaving a legacy for our youth group kids. The speaker asked us to find a partner and talk about several things ... but the part that stuck out the most was when we were asked to share what we want more than anything in the world.

Somehow, I was able to get real honest with my partner. Her name was Kim. ... I shared with her that I want to marry a youth pastor ... that I don't want to be the one "in charge" forever ... that I want to work alongside someone, namely, my husband ... not have others work alongside me.

And she was surprised.

And I was surprised that she was surprised.

I have always dreamed this .... ever since I got into youth ministry, I've wanted to MARRY a youth pastor, not BE a youth pastor. ..... Now, God is good at conforming our desires to His ... so thankfully, I am in love with my position at Calvary. I LOVE being with my kids, loving on them, teaching them, encouraging them, just simply spending time with them. And I am confident that God has me where He wants me. But I still have an ache deep down ... an ache to work alongside my husband in ministry.

But to say all of that, I spilled some of this to Kim at the last session ..... and she prayed for me. And it meant so much to me that she prayed for me. A total stranger listened empathetically and prayed for me ... and I felt God moving in her prayer. .... I think it was one of the greatest blessings of the weekend.

GoG 58: The Q & A with TobyMac

So ... at the youth pastor's conference, I got to meet TobyMac!!!!! .... Well, I didn't formally meet him and shake his hand. But after his concert, he went back to this huge room for a Q & A with all of us youth pastors.

I found out that Mr. TobyMac is an incredibly humble, down to earth, fun guy who really loves the Lord. He shared all kinds of stuff with us about life on the road, his family, his time with DC Talk, his time with this new band, Diverse City ... which is his current band. Wow. He also shared his testimony, which was incredibly encouraging to me. He shared that a youth pastor led him to Christ ... it was because of someone just like me that he came to Christ!!!! .... Yes, I shouldn't boast. And I don't mean to. I just mean that the work God has called me to is MIGHTY! Just like that youth pastor who led TobyMac to Christ, I can help point my kids to Christ as well. God is and will continue to use me in the lives of my kids. And that is incredible!

The other big thing I took away from the Q & A was TobyMac's testimony about a specific prayer he's been praying for years. He said, "I've only committed to praying a few specific prayers in my life." And one of those prayers was that God would bring him godly people to walk with him, push him, call him out when he needs it, be like a family to him. And that's what his band has been to him. Diverse City is his family. And they are all godly people whom God brought alongside TobyMac. I was so encouraged because I've been desiring the same thing, but moreso than praying, I've been demanding, telling God what I need, and TobyMac's testimony helped me see how wrong I've been to do that. I was reminded that I just need to pray for God to bring the right people and trust that He will (and He already has ... and will continue to).

I was amazed at how listening to a rapper, hip-hopper guy would be sooo encouraging. It was one of the best parts of the weekend. :)

GoG 57: The Deep-Dish Pizza

I don't think I'm ever gonna get this blog 365 days thing right. At least not one per day. Ha!

Waaayyy back when .... a week ago Saturday, I believe ... my glimpse of grace came in the form of strangers asking me out to lunch. :) At the youth pastor's conference, I met a couple from Jesus the Messiah church in Indianapolis. Ha! It was funny because they know Pastor Roger (my pastor). We were awed by how small the world is. They knew I was at the conference alone and invited me to deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza for lunch the next day.

It was such a blessing because I was feeling rather alone a lot of the weekend because I didn't know anyone. .... So I got deep-dish pizza ... they paid for it. And it was such an encouragement to me. Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GoG 56: The Overflow of the Heart

Ha! So on Friday morning, I was driving the last 45 minutes to an hour to get to my hotel in Chicago where the conference was being held. There was lots of traffic, several toll road stops, and mapquest directions that I had to pay attention to ... all of these things stress me out, so I was thankful I left my hotel early. .... All was going well .... when I pulled out of my toll road stop, which was right before an exit (the one I was supposed to take), and I was disoriented because of the daggone toll road stop .... so I missed the exit. ...... Now, I am awful with directions ... I couldn't tell you which way was north, south, east, or west if my life depended on it .... and I'm actually a bit of an airhead when it comes to following directions. Sometimes, I think "there could be another exit that is called 'River Rd.'" So I'll wait until I pass it only to realize there is no other exit called "River Rd." Duh. .... Yeah ... airhead, I know.

So I miss the exit ... and I'm not familiar with this area at all. It's Chicago for crying out loud! Stressful, busy, crowded city. So after passing the exit I should have taken, I start freaking out. I may have been "alone" in the car that morning, but God definitely saw (and heard) everything. ..... I was an absolute idiot! I was so angry that I missed the exit ... I was worried I was not gonna be able to find my way back and I was gonna be late to this conference I had been looking forward to forever ... and I was mad that I didn't follow what the directions said even though they were right there in front of me!!! ..... I started yelling in my car. I started hitting the steering wheel with my hands, saying "I can't believe I didn't turn there!" "I can't believe I didn't turn there!" "What am I gonna do?!" "Aaaahhhhhh!!!!" And so on and so forth. I was really mad, like I said, and I said some things I am not proud of. ..... I ended up having to take the airport road, so it took me through the airport and really far out of my way. All the while, I was so angry, spouting off stupid things, yelling, turning red in the face ... freaking out completely. And all the while (again), I was saying, "Lord, I know you've been teaching me about being content in ALL circumstances, but I am NOT content, Lord." Again, so on and so forth. Freaking out. Acting ridiculous. Being a jerk. And an idiot. ..... And probably 10 minutes after I passed the exit I should have taken, I am back to that exit ... I pull in, and after taking another wrong turn, I make it to the Hyatt in Rosemont, Illinois - my destination. Whew!

But before I even made it to the hotel, I started repenting. I knew I was being an idiot WHILE I was being an idiot! But that didn't stop me. .... I felt stupid the rest of the morning ... and I am shamed when I think back to how ridiculous I was. .... But I took the whole experience as God's grace. Another humbling incident as God's grace? When will it end??? Ha ha! How 'bout never. ;) ...... My idiocy was God's grace because He really convicted me in the process. Some not so nice things came out when I was "alone" in that car .... some attitudes and even words that I would not want ANYONE to see or hear. And God really let me have it. He reminded me that my character was a little lacking (to say the VERY least!). Character is the stuff that comes out when no one is looking. And my "stuff" was not good stuff. Thankfully, I repented, and God forgave me. But at the same time, I am reminded that I MUST fill my spirit with good stuff, so that when the pressure's on, good stuff will come out. Good stuff is the the stuff that honors God. :) Think about Philippians 4:8 if you're not getting my drift. ;)

"For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." Matthew 12:34b (NASB)

And what was coming out of my mouth that day was not pretty ... what does that say about my heart? .... Whew!!! Now, that's a doozy!!!

GoG 55: The Conference

Well, I'm behind again. Are we surprised? ;) .... I was gone for 4 days over the weekend .... so that's my excuse for now.

This past weekend I went to SYMC (Simply Youth Ministry Conference). It was held in Chicago, Illinois, and it was incredible! Going to that conference is God's grace in my life ... but I'm using it at my GoG for last Thursday. Thursday night after after school, I left for Chicago. I traveled to Merrilville, Indiana and stayed in a Motel 6 for the night ... first hotel experience by myself. It was great! I took advantage of the night alone to spend some extra time with the Lord ... and it was good. :)

The entire weekend was amazing! The speakers were great - passionate and full of truth to share with us ... as well as challenges to push us in our walk with Christ and in our ministry. The sessions were full of great ideas. And I wrestled with several questions about my specific calling, my ministry at Calvary, being a woman in ministry, being single, living and ministering with abandon to Christ ... and so forth. I met cool people ... I laughed ... I cried ... I worshiped ... I wrestled in prayer and in pondering with the Lord ... it was an incredible weekend! And I got to go for free!!!! Wow ... God's grace. What a privilege to go to a conference like this. Thank you, Lord. :)