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.

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

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

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. :)

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!!!!