Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GoG 54: The Many Little Things

I think my glimpse of grace came in lots of little things today ......

~ Hugs from Andrea
~ A high five from Mathanael
~ "Making" Miss Emily's day at after school
~ Smiles from little Joseph
~ Thinking about how SYMC (Simply Youth Ministry Conference) is tomorrow!!!!
~ Hearing Mr. Doug and Mr. James (another non-Nilsen) :) say "man" about 50 times in the 5 minutes I was listening in on their conversation ... "Ah, man ... it was the Lord workin' man ... I mean, man, it had nothin' to do with me, man ... it was just the Spirit of the Lord workin', man. Ah, man ... God is faithful, man." (That was not the exact conversation, but oh, it was close!) Haha!
~ Simply thinking about how God has opened doors for ministry over the past couple of years
~ Phone call from Ben :)

All of these things were grace. Oh, I love my life! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GoG 53: The Monks

I'm reading a book called Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. I'm only two chapters in ... and it is already amazing. I'm not a reader. I should be ... but I'm not. So you know this book's gotta be good! ;) Really, if you struggle with contentment, find this book! Read it fast! Heck, you can borrow it from me when I'm done, if you want. :)

Well, my glimpse of grace for today came from reading a little blurb from this book for a second time. I read the blurb when I read the chapter ... but the devotional for this week (at the end of the book) suggested I read it again. ... It was good the first time ... but the second time hit me upside the head. Ha! Wow. I'm still saying wow. ... Let me type it out for you here .......

Linda Dillow said ... "The following story of two monks helped me to put my control versus God's control into perspective."

"I need oil," said an ancient monk, so he planted an olive sapling. "Lord," he prayed, "it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers." And the Lord sent gentle showers. "Lord," prayed the monk, "my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray thee." And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds. "Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues," cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.
Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience. "I, too, planted a little tree," he said, "and see! It thrives well. But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me. I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. 'Lord, send what it needs,' I prayed, 'storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.'"

You might want to read that story again. ;)

Here are the thoughts I wrote down in my journal after reading this little story a second time ........

The Monks:
Lord, it just hit me. Wow. I have been monk #1 all of these weeks and months. I've been crying out to you, saying, "I need a guy to help me with youth group. Lord, don't you think SoZo would be better if a really cool guy would come and help (or even take over)?" ... Ha! Although You haven't sent a guy like you sent all the sun and rain and frost for the monk, I now see that monk #1 and I have a similar mindset. We are not allowing You to be the Blessed Controller of our circumstances. Wow, Lord. .... Oh, Lord, make me more like monk #2, who surrendered his circumstances to You and trust that You were in complete control of all that his little tree needed. More and more, Lord, help me trust that You know what You're doing. Thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness and patience. Be glorified in me.

Isn't it cool how God shows us just what we need when we need it? He loves us enough to teach us and humble us and ever remind us that we need Him. Ahh ... grace is about the coolest thing ever! :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

GoG 52: The Joy

So ... God's grace in my life today came in the form of joy.

J O Y !

I lounged around the house ... stocked the rest of my mom's shelves for her convention ... went shopping ... went to Gabe's karate practice ... worked out ... and I had joy. Joy for the entire day.

Yep ... and that's all. Joy because I am content. :)

GoG 51: The Facebook Message Reflection

So today's GoG comes from a Facebook message I wrote to Emily tonight. Why don'tcha just read a "little" (it's really a lot!) excerpt from that to get a glimpse. ;)

And all has been well this week. Andy started a sr. high Bible study this past Tuesday, and it went really well. Gosh, I'm proud of that kid! He makes SoZo worth it just by himself. But thankfully, I love ALL of my kids ... even though youth ministry is hard work! Whew! .... But I'm so excited. ... I didn't pass my Praxis exam ... so my post of "can everyone pray for Mical? ... seeking new direction" recently was related to that. But I think prayer, along with your "just live" comment, and God's grace have really helped me keep my perspective right. I started freaking out there for a few days. But I was talking to God a couple days ago, and I told Him about my worries .... and then asked, "Why am I worried though?" I'm confident in God's calling ... He wants me to work with kids and youth. And He wants me to work with my SoZo kids ... at least for the time being. And I don't need to get all caught up in "what now?" Perhaps He had His hand in the whole Praxis mess. Perhaps He wanted me to be here, now ... in Danville, IN ... at Calvary Chapel ... with my SoZo kids ... for such a time as this. I really believe that. Even with all of the drama ... the tough times, etc. I love it! And I am confident in Christ for this area of my life. .... So what if I work at the church part-time and waitress the other part ... or work at the church and work in the writing center the other part ... or whatever. If I'm called to SoZo, then I'm called to SoZo ... and I'm excited about that! :) ... Ha! You're probably wondering where all of that came from. Too funny. ... I guess these are just some realizations I've come to this week ... some ... well ... life-changing ones. ;) So that's the biggest part of my week. :)

Other than that ... I've just been helping out at after school ... and I went to a couple of small groups. One was in Indy ... some random group through College Park Church ... and another one was through Westlake. They were both good ... but I don't think I'm gonna go to them. I feel kind of bad going to a college-age group to "find a husband." Ha! 'Cause that was my mindset going in. ;) .... I might visit a few more ... I DO need to be with folks my own age. But ... I am also totally ready to just live. To just live for Jesus and let Him bring some guy in His time. Oh, I'll have my days ... my "come on, God ... where is he?" days. But I can feel real growth in this area of my life. I am slowly but surely learning to make Jesus my all ... and just live. No worries. No "when's my future husband coming?" No "what's gonna happen next?" ... etc. ... Now, don't get me wrong. I do and will continue to have my days ... don't we all? But it's encouraging to see and feel growth in this whole trust thing. :)

I've also started this book called ... ha! I've actually started two books. The Call by Os Guinness and Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. I've been all worked up about my "calling" ... where am I supposed to be, God? What are you doing? Etc. etc. So Jeremy Wright suggested The Call. I'm not too far into it, but I'm excited to read it. And the Grace Fellowship ladies are going on a retreat next month, and the theme is contentment. .... I can't go (sadly) ... so I got the book. I started it last night ... and I can already tell that it is going to continue to mold my perspective ... maybe change it completely ... and I'm praying it will change my whole life! Good stuff, yo. :) ... And lastly, I've been and I'm continuing to get into the Word more. Pastor challenged us this morning to get into the Word all the time ... to really get into it. And I'm excited to keep trying.

Oh! Another thing! You already know this ... but I am soooo excited about that youth pastor's conference I'm going on! I leave really early Friday morning, and I am sooo excited! I'm so excited that I don't know what to do with myself! :D I think it's really going to be good. I think it's really gonna give me a spiritual push, as well as lots of great ideas and motivation, that I need to continue on in SoZo. Friday morning through Monday afternoon. Gosh, I can't wait!

Ha! Gosh, this is turning into a long reply. Are we surprised? Umm ... no. ;) .... Anyways ... I guess I say all of this ... yes, because you asked how my week was going ... but also ...
God is at work in me. He is molding me ... shaping my heart into something much bigger than myself. He's bringing me out of a huge lazy, selfish, sinful state of being that I've been in for far too long ... it's been a time that I've been trying to hide from everyone because I've been ashamed of myself. .... But God is bringing me out of my "me, me, me" slump! And I'm so excited to be growing and seeking and growing and getting excited again. :) So I share all of this to ask for prayer as well as give you an update. :) ... Could you pray that God will change my life? I know that's a big prayer, but we have a big God. :) Pray that the books I'm reading ... that His Word! ... will change my life in the coming months. Pray that this youth pastor's conference will push me and help me to change. Pray that I will throw myself into SoZo completely. Pray that I will walk in His way ... grow ... love ... live fully. :)

Ahh ... it's so nice to write. Writing really allows a girl to reflect on what she's living and learning. And you can reflect not only on blogs or in journals ... but in e-mails to BBFs. :) Yay! God's grace is amazing! :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Contentment, Trust ... Oh, the Lessons!

"How does God enable us to be content? He infuses contentment into us through His Word. As it seeps into our minds, it transforms us. Just as a cup of tea gets stronger when we give it time to steep, so we become more content when we spend time in God's Word and allow it to seep into our lives, transforming us to be like Him."
- Page 15 of Calm my Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

So that's why I've been so discontent lately. ... I've been really struggling in my prayer and devotions life for several months. I've wanted to grow. I've wanted to draw close to the Lord. But I haven't wanted to do the work. Like any relationship that is worthwhile, walking with the Lord is hard work. Anything good (anything GREAT!) does not come easily. ... But this is my relationship with God I'm talking about? Isn't that supposed to be the greatest desire of my heart? Why haven't I wanted to put forth this "work" so that I can simply BE with Him? ... Well, it all comes down to my own selfishness getting in the way ... but that's not really where I was headed.

The ladies from Grace Fellowship Church, my beloved second church home, are headed to their annual ladies' retreat next month. I was privileged to join them last March and had an amazing time! Sadly, I can't go with them this year. But Cindy told me about the retreat and about the book that they are basing the discussions on ... Calm My Anxious Heart. When Cindy told me the book (and the retreat) was all about contentment, I knew I had to grab hold of this book. So I picked it up at the Christian bookstore a few days ago. And my "love for reading" (yeah right) kept me from starting it until tonight. It's really good so far ... hence, pulling the quote and talking about it here. :)

There's even a 12-week devotional in the back of the book ... so I'm set for the next several weeks. :) ..... God's been dealin' with me on several issues recently. I think I'm growing in this season of waiting and change ... and God wants me to grow all the more. And I do too! More and more, I find myself wanting to be all in. And I find myself slowly coming out of my spiritual slump ... desiring more of Jesus above all else. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? ;) .... God wants me to put away my selfish ambition. He wants me to trust Him completely with the NOW versus my future. He wants me to be content in this crazy season of friends leaving me either through marriage and babies or distance and not having a husband and not passing the Praxis ... etc. He wants me to learn to know Him better and to love Him more with each day ... with every breath.

Contentment is only one lesson. But I only have one life. So let's learn this lesson of life ... a content life ... content in Christ alone. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

GoG 50: The Teenagers

I sighed tonight while walking out of the SoZo room.

I sighed and smiled.

I sighed and smiled and shrugged my shoulders with joy because I get to work in my heart's desire. ... I get to talk with teenagers ... laugh with teenagers ... teach teenagers more about living for Jesus ... watch teenagers grow in Jesus ... simply love on teenagers ... my teenagers - my SoZo kids.

We had a movie and pizza night at the church tonight, and while I was there, I got another glimpse of God's grace ... my teenagers. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

GoG 49: The NOW Again

Whew! Last one for the night! And I'm finally caught up!!! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember #48? .... Living for NOW?

I found out today that I did NOT pass the Praxis (for the 9th time) ... which means that I have to either sit behind a desk and stare at papers for the rest of my life (with my plain English degree) or I need to start over with something new. So ... starting over it is! But I'm not exactly sure what I'm gonna start over with or as or .... ya know. I have some ideas, but it's gonna take a lot to do any or all of them. And then there's the whole seek God for His will thing. :)

I googled my ideas for almost 3 hours this afternoon ... trying to find that new plan. I wanted just a glimpse of something I could do. Really, I wanted to find that new plan and plan it all out right then and there. I knew I was being unrealistic, but I couldn't help it. I've been waiting for so long. My "life" has been so up in the air for so long. And I was just tired of the "up in the airness" today.

I went to Jonathan and Levi's basketball game tonight. And while I was there, I realized something. I realized that I am doing it. I am doing that new plan. I don't know all of the details, but for now, God has me right where He wants me. He wants me to live for the NOW. And right now, that NOW is working with my SoZo kids. Pouring into their lives. Loving them. Encouraging them. Supporting them in what excites them. But not only did I realize that ... I realized that I don't need to have everything planned out. I don't have to ... need to ... or want to get all caught up in what's gonna happen in May when my second job at the writing center is over .... or what's gonna happen once this summer is over and my kids go back to school .... or anything concerning my future. I can (and should) simply live for the NOW.

So again ... God, in all of His amazing grace, is reminding me of His lessons. "Trust Me completely, Mical. Live for Me now, Mical. I've got it all, Mical." .... Yep. Our God is stinkin' ... beyond stinkin' amazing!!!!! :)

GoG 48: The NOW

God has been teaching me about NOW lately.

God wants me to live for the NOW .... instead of worrying about my future.

And it's not always worry.

Sometimes, it's just me dwelling too much on what is gonna happen. I don't know what is gonna happen ... but I find myself thinking about it too much.

Perhaps I'm not worrying .... but I'm getting caught up ... I'm distracted.

I'm not living for today.

Last night, I went to a college-age Bible study with a friend .... and I laughed on the inside while we were watching a video (Rob Bell ... a pretty cool motivational speaker) about leadership ... specifically church leadership ... but leadership in general. I laughed because Mr. Rob was talking about God giving us a job .... and then when we finish that job, He gives us another one. And when we finish that job, He gives us another one. And so on and so forth. .... One step at a time. One day at a time. One job at a time. .... It was just another reminder that God wants me to live for the NOW ... and I think He wants that for all of us. Sure, we need to be observant. We need to seek God for our futures. But God doesn't want us to get so distracted with the "laters" that we miss the NOW. And God cares about me and His plan for my life enough that He will remind me of this lesson over and over again until I get it. Wow .... now, that's grace, yo!!!

GoG 47: The Child's Hugs

Almost there. 3 more posts for the night, and I will be caught up!!!! Rock on!!!! Y'all have a lot of posts to catch up on! Better get readin'! ;)

#47: More touches from the little'uns :)
Wednesday at after school, Andrea (little hispanic girl who likes to pretend to run her boogers all over me) saw me and ran up to me .... "Miss Mical! Miss Mical!" And she gave me several huge hugs!

And my day was complete. :)

GoG 46: The Bible Study

So I have this really amazing guy in my youth group. His name is Andy .... and I am completely proud of him. He is just awesome! He loves the Lord .... he is growing in the Lord (like crazy, yo!!!) .... he is a leader .... he makes good decisions .... he's sensitive to the needs of others .... he's humble .... hilarious .... just an all-around good kid .... but more than just good 'cause Jesus is the Lord of his life - genuinely ... and it shows. :) .... I'm just a little proud to call him one of "my kids" ... if you couldn't tell. ;)

He started a sr. high Bible study this past Tuesday night. He led it and everything. Golly, I was proud! I AM proud. .... It went really well. We read in Joshua ... and we got to talking (even some of the kids who don't usually talk got goin'!) about what God has been teaching us and how it has changed our lives. Good stuff. And it was all Andy! .... Well, it was all God ... but God used Andy to lead and listen and just do a really good job with it. I think Andy was pleased with it too. I know I was!

But gosh .... it was just amazing to watch one of my kids do something so great ... for Jesus! It was just another glimpse of God's grace. Not only does He allow me to work with amazing kids ('cause my other kids are great too!) ... but He allows me the privilege of watching them grow up in Him ... maybe even HELP them grow up in Him. ...... Amazingness. Awesomeness. And a bunch of other "ness" words. :)

GoG 45: The Graceful Mical ... or not

Well, if you've been keeping up with my blog, you know that I like to tell stories about myself. By that, I mean ... I like to tell y'all about my spazziness, my blondeness, my well .... Micalness. :D

Monday night, I went to Red Robin with Maggie and Hannah. And while I was there ... within about 5 minutes of each other .... I practically threw the cardboard stand across the table and I spilled a full glass of water all over the table. .... It was one of those "you had to be there" moments ....

First, I knocked the cardboard stand off the table .... but it nearly flew across the room. Who knows what I was doing?
Then, I was reaching across the table to help Hannah move her burger basket ..... and I knock over my water .... what the heck? Ha ha! .... Again, you had to be there. But we all had a good laugh about it.

I am just so graceful .... uh ... yeah right. And my lack of gracefulness is grace if you really get down to it. Ha! Nice ....

GoG 44: The V-Day Party

Last Sunday, Calvary had its 4th annual Parents Night Out/Kids Valentine's Day Party. I've been organizing it and leading it for the past 3 years, and it's always a good time. We keep the kids in the sanctuary playing games, running around like crazy people, listening to music, doing crafty stuff, and we feed 'em dinner. All the while, the parents go out for a night on the town.

My GoG for Sunday was all of the help I received with the event. I made it a youth group service project ... I asked all of my kids to come help with the event. .... They didn't have to come ... but they did. Just about everyone was there. It was great to see my kids there serving the church by loving on the kids. And it was fun to laugh with them too ... we laughed quite a bit, which is always good.

And afterwards, several parents (and nearly all of the youth) stayed to help tear tape and decorations off the walls, put the chairs back in order, do the dishes, vacuum the floors, and make sure the kids didn't kill each other in the clean-up process. .... It was such a blessing to have so much help .... and just another hint of God's great grace in my life. :)

GoG 43: The Lack of Crying

I've said it over and over on this goofy blog ... and in everyday life ... Emily is my very best friend in the whole world. .... When Emily and Barry first got engaged, I realized that one day she'd be leaving me to go live with King Barry in Nashville. ... Well, last Saturday, that day finally came. I could've sworn I was gonna be a royal mess the entire day of the wedding. But surprisingly, not one tear fell. I had tears gather behind my eyes during the slide show ... maybe one tear gather during the vows ... and I nearly lost it during one point in my maid of honor speech ..... but no. tears. fell. Amazingness.

Somehow, I was able to keep it together the entire day. I still haven't cried ... and she's been married for a week. Craziness. .... But my lack of crying is my GoG for that day (and really now too). It's grace because not only am I not a royal mess ... but my heart is not aching too much either. God is really pouring on the grace, helping me get through this transition. Thank you, Lord!

GoG 42: The Same Way

At Barry and Emily's rehearsal dinner, I had the huge honor of sitting at their table. The whole way to Chili's I kept thinking, "Gosh, I hope I get to sit by Em." And when I arrived ... shortly after Barry and Em ... Emily yelled for me ... "Mical!" And she pointed to the seat next to her with a smile. And Barry yelled at Micah (his best man) in the same way. ... Oh, it was such a joy to sit with them. Em was leaving me the next day, so I wanted to spend every minute with her ... and I just wanted to be close to her. And come to find out ... she felt the same way. :)

Now, that's grace. :)

GoG 41: The Child's Touch

I got to Brookside Church last Thursday, the 11th .... and after dropping off the food, Hannah Crane (little Hannah ... 7 years old ... from after school) grabbed my hand and just held on tight. She followed me to my car and everything.

There is something about a child's touch. Many people know me as "the girl who doesn't like to be touched." This is true to some extent ... but I've gotten a lot better. I've even grown to really enjoy hugs from most people ... especially friends. But for a long time, I've loved the touch of little kids. Their touches are so pure and empowering and dear to me.

And when they run and give you a hug or grab your hand and hold on for dear life .... sometimes, if they just say your name .... at least for me, it's like a little piece of heaven. Or ... grace. :)

GoG 40.5: The Friend Date

My friend, Ben, and I get together about once a month for something we like to call "friend dates." We usually meet at the Brownsburg Starbucks around 7:30pm .... and we talk for 2 or 3 hours ... sometimes more .... hardly ever less. It is a really sweet time. ... Lawana posted on one of my blog posts recently and told me that God has blessed me with some really special friendships. She is so right. Ben Nilsen is one of those friends I'm not sure I could live without. He has been one of my greatest encouragers, prayer warriors, and dearest friends for a few years now. Ben, by himself, is God's grace in action in my life .... but something he said at our friend date will probably stick with me forever 'cause it meant so much to me.

It was one simple sentence.
"I hope you can come because, yes, I want you to be there, but I also think you'll help calm me down all that day."

We were talking about me driving to Key West for his wedding. And he not only said he'd love for me to be there .... but he also said I could help him calm down (wedding jitters). .... You wouldn't think that comment would mean all that much ... just 'cause it's not anything huge. But boy, did it. It told me that he really appreciates my friendship ... that I'm the kind of friend that he feels really comfortable around ... that he can share his life and joys and struggles with me ... that I'm a friend who is dear enough to him that he wants me to be there on his wedding day ... just so we can share the day together as dear friends.

Ahh ... yep. It's one of those friendships called grace. :)

GoG 40: The Hannah Text

#40 .... Hannah Baker is amazing. She sent me a text last week that made my day.

It said ...

"Mical ... I love you. Just wanted you to know I am praying for you today. Not sure why but you are on my heart. Hope everything's ok!"

And that's all. What a blessing. What grace. I don't deserve such amazing friends like Hannah Joy ... but God gave her to me anyway. :)

GoG 39: The Day With Emily :)

So ... this is lame. I am so stinkin' behind with these GoGs. Bummer, yo. ..... And this is even more lame -- in effort to catch up to today's GoG, I'm gonna post several short (very short!) GoGs. And hopefully, I won't get so far behind again. And thankfully, I've been keeping track of my GoGs. :)

#39: A day with Emily :)
The Monday before Em's wedding, I headed to Serendipity to help her decorate for the reception. Afterwards, we went to dinner ... then to Target ... and then I went to her house to watch a movie with her and Josh. Good day.
A glimpse of God's grace because I have a BBF ... and she is the most wonderful thing in the world to me. Days with her make my life complete. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GoG 38: The Sob

Super Bowl Sunday has never been a huge thing for me. I like football. I like the Colts. But I am just way too busy to keep up with the games. I think I saw half a game this entire season. I "watched" the Super Bowl, but I colored and dealt with "drama" for most of the evening ... so I was a tad bit distracted.

I had my youth group over to watch the Super Bowl ... and it turned into an alright evening overall, but we had some struggles. In effort to spare the details, I'll just say that I have middle schoolers in my youth group. Need I say more? ;) I love middle school. It is (somehow - Lord knows He gave me a gift!) my favorite age group. They are full of drama much of the time, but I just love 6th-8th graders. They are a ton of fun! Difficult at times ... but so fun! Well, we had a drama night at the Super Bowl party ... and I had to be ready on my feet the whole time. Never a dull moment with my kids. ;) ....

In working with youth, I have a tough job goin' for me. It is overwhelming at times ... and sometimes, there are situations that I just can't handle ... or don't know how to handle. Super Bowl Sunday turned into one of those situations. By the time I got home from taking some of the kids home, I was wiped ... even emotionally drained ... mostly because I have been going alone in this youth ministry thing for 9 months now. And youth ministry is nearly impossible to do alone. ..... I ended up talking (and crying) with my parents for almost an hour ... maybe longer ... that night when I got home. Conveying to them that "I can't do this by myself anymore." And it's true. I need help. Thankfully, my parents are amazing, and they are going to help me until we can find someone more permanent. :) .... But sobbing to my parents that night helped me realize something. Yes ... it helped me realize that I can't work in ministry by myself any longer .... but it also helped me remember that God is the one I need to be crying out to ... God is the one I need to look to for help and comfort and wisdom and the rest ... God is the one who put me in this ministry, and God is the one who is gonna help me complete this calling that He has placed on my life. ..... I've blogged before about realizing my dependence on the Lord .... or rather, remembering that I can do nothing without Him. And here He went again .... His grace again .... He needed me to know that I am helpless without Him .... He seems to do that most when my focus gets out of whack ... which is more often than I would like. ;) ... So ... He did it again. God revealed His grace by humbling me and making me recognize my need for Him once again.

GoG 37: The Clean Up

A week ago Saturday, a bunch of us girls got together for Emily's bachelorette party. Most of the bridesmaids and I took her out for a nice lunch and then some ice cream. It was a pretty fun day. But my favorite part was cleaning up the mess we made. Ha! That was my favorite part because I got to spend some, what I considered, quality time with my friend, Mags.

I think I've talked about Maggie on here at least once before ... Mags is my longest, loveliest friend ... my LLF. :) .... She has been my friend since I was 6 and she was 7 years old. We met at Calvary ... went to middle school and high school together ... and have just been the best of friends for ... wow ... it's been about 17 years. Crazy! .... Well, ever since she got married about a year and a half ago, we haven't gotten to spend as much time together as we used to. And now that she's having a baby, I'll probably see even less of her. ..... Every time I get to hang out with her these days, I think to myself, "Gosh, I'm so glad we're friends." And "Gosh, I know WHY we're friends." And "Gosh, I'm thankful for Maggie!" She's just one of those lifelong friends ... one I cherish very much. :)

That Saturday night, we got to clean up together. We didn't talk too much while we were cleaning up .... I think it was just that we got to spend some time together ... just the two of us while the others chatted on the couch. ..... I kept trying to pour the chips from the bowl back into their bag, and I kept missing and spilling 'em all over the counter .... we kept laughing at that. She is not supposed to be eating sugar while she's pregnant, and she kept stealing brownies and eating 'em ... and we kept laughing at that. We chatted about how goofy weight is 'cause it's so hard to keep off our bodies ... and she gave me all of the food that was left over so that I could take it to youth group with me the next day. I gave her the dishes while she loaded the dishwasher. I refilled the trash bag .... we cleaned up. It was as simple as that. But it was such a sweet time. Just spending time together. It was just a reminder of what a gift friendships are ... especially, long, deep friendships like my friendship with Maggie. .... God loves us so much that He gives us friends. Thank you, Lord. :)

GoG 36: The Selfless Love

Gosh. I'm still so behind. Will I ever catch up?

Last Friday ... ha! It's been a week ago Friday by now ... I watched a video by Joshua Harris. He posed the question "Are you searching for true love?" .... His video series was all about love, trust, and purity ... concerning relationships with the opposite sex. I was watching the series to see if I could use it in youth group. We watched the first video about love, but I decided to leave out the other two for now. But last Friday, I watched the video about love before I showed it in youth group on Sunday morning. In the video, Josh gave out three points that described what true love does.

#1 - True love lays down its life for others.
#2 - True love is sincere.
#3 - True love is revealed in Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross.

The big thing I took away from these three points is that true love ... the kind of love that is forever, that does not waver in tough times or put its own desires first ... TRUE love is selfless. If you think about it ... to be #1, #2, and #3, you must be selfless. Selfishness is the root of all sin. Every sin we commit points back to our own selfishness. But TRUE love ... the kind of love that Jesus has for us and the kind of love that we should have for one another is selfless ... it has no hint of selfish ambition ... no "me, me, me" attitude ... no "I." And that is what I need to be striving for. Josh's video was pretty convicting. God's words spoken through him were just another reminder of God's grace. God wants us to learn selflessness so that we can be totally consumed with Him ... so that we can live out our purpose completely. God wants us to live in joy and in purpose ... so much so that He will bring on the conviction ... bring it until we change. He's been convicting me of a lot lately ... and I am learning more and more that His conviction is His grace in action in my life ... because without it, I would be so far from His presence, from His will, from His plan ... that I wouldn't be able to come back.

True love is selfless. How are you loving, Mical?

John 15:13 - "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

Monday, February 15, 2010

GoG 35: The Scene

Soon after the movie, To Save A Life, came out in theaters, I went to see it to see if I could take my SoZo kids to see it. Having a pretty good idea about what the premise of the movie was, I thought I would be a mess on and off throughout the movie. The previews hinted around that a good friend of the main character in the movie commits suicide. And suicide is something I don't handle well. Someone I barely knew at all committed suicide a few years back, and I grieved for weeks. I just can't bare the thought that someone would be so hurt, so hopeless to the point of ending his own life. Suicide just tears me apart. So ... going into this movie, I knew I was running the risk of completely breaking down in the theater. Thankfully, I didn't lose it during that scene in the movie. But ... I DID cry during another part. It was a scene that probably wouldn't make anyone else cry. It took me completely off guard 'cause I just broke down with no warning.

The main character of the movie was a "jock," a popular guy, who seemed to have everything going for him - a beautiful girlfriend, a full-ride basketball scholarship to the college of his dreams ... good-looking, etc. etc. When his old friend from elementary school committed suicide, he really started evaluating his life ... wondering what the purpose of life was ... what he was doing with his life, and on and on. In one scene in the movie, he brought his girlfriend to youth group with him. Immediately, everyone started staring at them and whispering. She felt so judged that she left. Later on in the scene, after going out to console his girlfriend, he came back in ... and the youth pastor asked his kids to take a minute to evaluate their hearts ... asking themselves the question, "Who have I judged?" The guy (gosh, I can't believe I can't remember his name) sat down in the back and watched as several of the young people started talking about some girl they were interested in or what they were planning to do during the weekend or something totally distracting from the question they were presented with. .... Finally, this guy stands up and yells, "Didn't you all just hear what he said?!" And he goes on to tell the group that his girlfriend left because she felt judged. And he pointed at their hypocrisy and their fake Christianity ... shocked that they would proclaim something and not live it out.

You'd have to see this scene to really see what happened. It was the most powerful scene in the whole movie for me. I don't know where the tears came from, but I lost it. I think I saw how right he was .... how so many Christians proclaim Jesus as Lord, but they don't mean it. They are fakers. They are hypocrites! And then I thought about how I am a faker sometimes. I am a hypocrite at times. I judge people all the time. ..... I think they were tears of disappointment and hurt .... "How can we, as Christians, do these things? How can we give Jesus such a bad name?" .... But they were also tears of conviction. "I am one of those people who gives Jesus a bad name ... even if most of that hypocrisy and judgement goes on in my spirit .... it still comes to the surface for others to see at times ... and it still dishonors Christ whether on the surface or in my spirit." This scene just really got me thinking.

And even though conviction is never easy, it is God's grace in action in our lives. Without His conviction, we would be so far from His glory ... so far that we would never be able to find our way back. Praise the Lord for His mighty conviction and grace!

GoG 34: The Smile

Ha! This is really cheesy ... and such a girl thing to post ... but thankfully, I am both ... so it works!

A week and a half ago, I was in the gym ... I had just walked in, put my bag down, and headed for the elliptical. I looked up and started walking, and some guy said hi to me and gave me a warm smile. And I got all excited about it. And well ... that's all.

Sometimes, a glimpse of God's grace comes in something as simple as a cute guy smiling at you. :)

GoG 33: The Movie Night With Elizabeth

Wow. I don't think I could be more behind with this blog project. Darnit. Let's see if I can get caught up today. Ha!

Glimpse #33 ...

Way back on February 2nd, I took one of my SoZo girls to see Sherlock Holmes. Elizabeth is a huge Sherlock Holmes buff. She loves Doyle (the guy who wrote the Sherlock stuff). :) She carries his books around in her big bag all the time. :) We went to see this movie that night ... I picked her up at her house ... we chatted all the way there ... and after the movie, she was so excited! She thought it was the best movie she'd ever seen ... maybe even the best that has ever been made. She wants to take me to see it again. Ha! ....

God has blessed me in incredible ways by allowing me to not only spend time with my kids but lead them. I've been working with our youth group at Calvary for almost 4 years. Three of those years, I was an adult leader, but now, I'm the one in charge. Weird. But it's been such a blessing ... because I have the privilege of spending even more time with my kids. Taking Elizabeth out for the evening was just another glimpse of God's grace, reminding me of what a joy it is to work with youth ... and reminding me of why I love it so much. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

GoG 32: The "Veg" Day

Glimpse of Grace number 32 ....

Today was a "veg" day: I slept in, I watched movies, I drank lots of sweet tea, I blogged.

Life is good.

And that! That is God's grace in action. :)

GoG 31: The Best Football Game Ever!

So .... I played the best football game of my life yesterday! It was so awesome! :D

A year or two ago, my good friends, Adam and Jason, started asking me to play football with them and the guys. Sometimes there will be another girl or two ... but often, it's just me and the guys. Yes! :D ...... You faithful blog readers have probably heard me refer to the "Cooks/Adamsons Gang" a few times. They are a family I am absolutely in love with. They're all related in one way or another - cousins, uncles, aunts, fathers/mothers-in-law, girlfriends, wives, etc. They are a ton of fun! And along with the Nilsens, they are my favorite family in the world! So I get really excited to play football with them!

Well, we organized a game for yesterday afternoon after church. We had 8 people ... just enough for a couple good games of football. Adam, Jason, and their cousin, Steve, and I were on a team ... against Jon, Jarrod, David, and Andy. Gosh, it was a good game! .... Adam and Jason usually pick on me 'cause I drop the ball a lot. I'm just a bit over 50% on catches during most games. I just get nervous. But I CAN catch the ball! :) .... Yesterday, I caught every pass ... I think they threw at least 5 at me! That is no 50%, yo! 5 for 5 ... and I had a couple of good blocks and threw off the QB with a blitz or two. Nice, right? ;) ... I'm bragging a bit ... which is actually my glimpse of grace for the day. God gives us really good days ... good games ... etc. 'cause He loves us. :) He also gave me some good laughs with some of my favorite guys, and everyone "kept their cool." Attitudes were good ... everyone played well ... it was just a great time of laughs and fellowship. God is good! :)

GoG 30: The Maggie Friendship :)

My friend, Maggie, and I have been friends for a lot of years. 17 years this month, actually. She and my "big brother" Adam are my two longest friends. Maggie has been one of my very best friends for 17 years. Wow. .... On Saturday, I threw her a baby shower. My best friend of 17 years is having a baby. Wow. We played games, ate fruits and veggies, even had some ice cream. But during the opening of the gifts, I got all sentimental. (Not unusual for me, I know.) ;) I was watching Maggie open her gifts, as did everyone else. I was standing in the back ... and as I watched her, I started thinking ... "Gosh, she is gorgeous." Then I thought ... "Wow, she's having a baby!" And then ... "We've been friends for such a long time ... that's so weird she's having a baby!" And ... "Maggie. She's been one of my best friends for 17 years!" .... "Gosh."

That's about how my thoughts went.

My friend, Adam, and his wife just had a baby last month ... that was weird too. .... It's weird seeing people you grew up with (and were/are close friends with) getting married and having babies. It just is. .... The glimpse of grace was just that, I think. Maggie. She is among the dearest and closest and most treasured friends I have. And we have been friends longer than I've been friends with anyone. And I believe we'll be friends forever. .... Friendship. Genuine friendship. That's my glimpse of grace for the day. :)

GoG 29: The Compliment

I've got another one-liner as my GoG for the day. :)

I've been going to FCA at the Danville High School for the past couple of weeks to offer support for the students there, and I was there this past Friday morning. On my way out, I walked with Mr. Burdsall. He is the FCA sponsor, and he and I have been friends since I started my FCA "officership" my sophomore year of high school. He was headed to the cafeteria for some coffee before first period, and I was headed to the front office to sign out and head home. We were chatting about FCA, and I said, "I'm glad to see that FCA is still kickin'." And he replied with ... "Yep, it changes every year. They're doing a good job. ..... You did an excellent job with FCA when you were here." .... And that was it.

I was surprised at how much that encouraged me. .... When I was in high school, I did choir (several choirs) and FCA. Those were the big things I was involved with. I loved FCA, and I took it very seriously. I did (and still do) consider it a HUGE privilege. We have the FREEDOM to worship God, proclaim Him as Lord - even!, in our schools all throughout this country. It is such a blessing! ... Such a privilege. (Ha! I'm going off again.) ;) ..... FCA just meant a lot to me in high school, so I did the very best I could with it. .... Mr. B telling me that I did a great job was just a great blessing that morning ... and more of God's grace in my life. Thank you, Lord!

GoG: 28: The Amazing Tutoring Session

On Thursday, I spent my second Thursday of the semester at IUPUI, tutoring papers. I had only one session scheduled for the whole day. A student came in, asking for help with an essay for an internship. She told me she needed to send it out later that day and that she came in for some last minute help. ..... I went into the reading of the essay thinking, "Okay ... some quick grammar, and we're outta here." But it turned into so much more than that.

Get ready ... only English majors get really excited about what I'm about to share. :)

At the IUPUI University Writing Center, we do so much more than just "check your grammar." And so it is awesome to have a student like Amanda sit down at the tutoring table ready to work. ... She told me she had been to the writing center a couple of times for this essay, and I could tell she was eager to get more help from me. That always helps the session go better, just knowing that the student is excited for feedback. We started reading, and in the first paragraph, we took a look at her "main idea," the idea that she would point back to throughout her essay ... the reason she wanted to be apart of the internship. We organized the sentence in such a way that her idea was not only clearer but introduced the idea rather than just throwing it at us (the audience) out of nowhere. When we finished and started to move on, she said, "Yeah, I really like that."

As we continued through the draft, we came across some good ideas ... but they were quite broad. At this point, we had the chance to discuss specific details. Specific details are a lot of fun to talk about with tutees because the writing turns into more of a conversation. A lot of students like to use general terms like "opportunities" or "things" or "jobs" or "this" or "that" etc. If you notice, these are very vague terms. We can go so much deeper than this kind of language. And that's what makes a conversation. With Amanda, I had the opportunity to ask her questions, probe a little deeper into what she was wanting to convey to her audience. She found out that she had some really good stuff to put down ... she just didn't realize she needed to. .... For all you writers out there, specifics are always good. The more specific you are, the better. But also, keep it narrow enough that your audience doesn't get bored and lose ya. ;) .... So we talked about specific details ... and really had a good ... well ... chat. :)

Lastly, we worked on some good ol' organization. In the drafting process, it is always good to just spit your ideas out. I like to say ... "Just puke something out onto the paper, and then go back and clean it up!" You wanna get all of your good stuff out before you forget it, right? :) .... Some students do that, but then they don't clean it all up afterwards. And some students just have a tough time with organization. Organizing your thoughts is a tough job. .... Well, Amanda did a pretty good job of organizing her thoughts ... but we did some final touch ups ... and it really turned out nice in the end.

What I liked most about the session is that it was a conversation about Amanda's writing. Some sessions are teaching lessons ... I find myself teaching the tutee about certain elements of the writing process. Teaching is good! We do that in the writing center too! But overall, tutoring should be a conversation between the tutor and the tutee. So it's always great when it turns out that way. ..... The session was one of the best sessions in my 3 years at the writing center. Probably in the top 5. :) .... And it was just a huge blessing! .... My goal for the semester is, what I like to call, "the three c's" ... Be Clear, Concise, and Confident. And that's what I did ... all three in one session! It's always great to be confident in your abilities. And confidence is just another act of God's grace in my life. :)

GoG 27: The Child's Prayer

Wow. Golly, I am behind! .... On to day 27.

Wednesday at after school, Hannah Crane prayed for our dinner. Hannah is the cutest (almost) 7-year old girls I know. She's a little white girl with long brown hair and big, gorgeous brown eyes. Sooo cute! She volunteered to pray for us on Wednesday, and instead of closing my eyes, I decided to watch her face while she prayed. Who says you have to close your eyes for a prayer? ;) .... It was the cutest prayer ... thanking God for the food, for the leaders who were there to help them (the kids) with homework and spend time with them ... but what I loved most about the prayer was Hannah's face while she prayed. She had popped a tootsie roll into her mouth right before the prayer, so she was chewing and praying at the same time. She was also closing her eyes really tight and squinting. It was as if she was concentrating really hard ... I guess it was hard to speak and chew and focus on what she was saying all at the same time. Ha! .... Well, it was about the cutest prayer ever, and I took so much joy in watching her little face as she prayed. I think tears came to my eyes. A child's prayer. Even the smallest of people can talk to God. And He hears them. :)