Saturday, December 31, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 19

Day 19 - A picture of your favorite dessert

Porch blueberry pie is definitely the winner! Mmm ... scrumptious! If for no other reason, you must stop by for lunch at The Porch sometime to try my mom's crust. Oh my goodness, it is delicious! She uses the same crust for her blueberry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, and chicken pot pie. You will not taste better crust. And you probably won't taste better food than what we serve at The Porch!

The Porch
Open Tuesday-Saturday 11am to 2pm.
2411 E. Main St. Danville, IN 46122 (across from Beasley's Orchard)
Come try us out for lunch sometime!!! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 18

Day 18 - A picture of something you think everyone should try

Oh my goodness, these are good!!! Probably the best cookie I've ever eaten and one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth! They are so stinkin' good!!!
Heather brought them to youth group one night a couple months ago, and I took one bite and instantly became Bob (ya know ... "What about Bob?" at the dinner table?)!

1 package of fudge brownie mix
1 cup of quick oats
1/2 cup of veggie oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of water
1 cup of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, oats, oil, eggs, and water - stir with a fork until combined. Dough will be stiff. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookies sheets.
Bake 12 minutes or until just barely set in the center.
Let cool, and DEVOUR JOYFULLY!!! :D

Woot, woot! Just in case you want to try 'em. I'm off to my kitchen to make some now!!!! Yummy!!! :D

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 17

Day 17 - A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently

My "This Season" blog post/facebook note that I put up recently kind of gives a vague back story of what this John 20:29 picture is really all about. The short story is that the past year of my life has been the most challenging year ever - spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Between some crazy life lessons, depression, whacked out emotions, and physical ailments, my life was a mess in 2011. Starting a few months back ... I think it was sometime in early October ... God really started teaching me some things. The young women's Bible study that we did at my church over the book, Lies Women Believe, was a huge factor in helping me learn a very important lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I've blogged about it before, but the recap is that during 2011, the trials I faced threw me into a crisis of faith. I really struggled to believe that God is good. I played the pain card ... just like so many people do. My faith was rocky. I would ask the question, "How could a good God allow this junk into my life?" I struggled with my faith, my calling, my position in life, my thoughts, my attitude, my life ... for months. And Lies Women Believe ... the very first lie of the book addressed my question - "Is God really good?" The lie is that He is NOT good. But the simple and undying Truth is that He IS good. And as I wrestled with this TRUTH, for weeks upon weeks, I finally came to re-realize and re-accept that GOD IS GOOD. And I learned, through all of my wrestling and seeking God, that God is good (and faithful) ... and His Goodness and Faithfulness is totally unrelated to me ... and unrelated to how much I need Him to be Good and Faithful. He is Good, and He is Faithful not because I need Him to be to survive this existence but because HE IS. All by Himself. All for His own glory. And as I rolled this Truth over in my mind, I continued to see how mighty our God really is. He is Good, and He is Faithful because that's who He is ... and it's all for His glory ... and yet, He shares His Goodness and Faithfulness with me every single day ... by giving me my every breath, by providing me with food and shelter and clothes to wear ... by giving me incredible parents ... by teaching me more about life and purpose and Himself ... and the list goes on. A God that big and great doesn't need me. He doesn't need to give me even just glimpses of His Goodness and Faithfulness ... but He does. *Big Sigh* Wow! ... Get excited about this people!!! This is incredible stuff!!!! And all because we serve an incredibly perfect and gracious and giving God! :D

But I still haven't told you about this picture. I took this picture at the Calvary Ladies' Retreat this past October. It's an awesome picture for a few reasons. First of all, God had spoken this verse into my heart and mind a few weeks earlier, giving me a HUGE revelation about my current circumstances and about His will for my life. Incredible, right? It's also an awesome picture because I was using this verse as one of my key talking points in my talk at the ladies' retreat (the theme being based on the book Lies Women Believe - still cool, I know!). But I like this picture the most because I found it hanging above a door on a cabin at the camp. When I first arrived at camp, I couldn't remember which path to take to get to the lodge - I took the wrong path. But on this path was a row of cabins, each with a verse hanging above the door. And whatta ya know ... my verse! The verse God had been pressing upon my heart for weeks, teaching me so much! ... I remember sitting in the car for a second, tears coming to my eyes (no, I didn't cry ... but it crossed my mind), and laughing to myself. I wouldn't have found that verse on that cabin if I had taken the right path to the lodge. Wow. ... And so this picture is very important to me. A huge gift from God, really. It is a constant reminder to me that I must BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING. I must BELIEVE that God is Good, that God is who He says He is, that God is Faithful, that God is working at all times and in all seasons of my life ... even when I can't SEE what He's up to. I don't wanna be like Doubting Thomas who had to SEE Jesus' nail-pierced hands and side before he could believe Jesus had risen from the dead. I want to be Mical Masterson, the woman who believed in her Savior with her whole heart, never wavering, always believing without seeing. Oh, Lord ... that's what I want. Please help me become that woman of faith.

And that's why this picture has made such a huge impact on my life recently. A long-winded post, but wasn't it worth it?

Lord God, keep growing me into the woman you've created me to be. Pick me up when I fall. Help me keep running the race, even in blind moments ... help me believe in you! Thank you, Jesus, for your call. Thank you choosing me and teaching me and loving me. You are Faithful, and you are Good. Be glorified in me today and always. I love you, Lord.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tim Tebow, Faith, and an Offering to God

I've been reading Tim Tebow's book, Through My Eyes, for most of the evening ... really good so far ... I just finished chapter 8, and Tim brings up some really interesting thoughts about God's will and God's work in our lives that I'd like to hash out here a bit.

In this particular chapter, Tim is telling us, his readers, about his recruiting process. Dozens of colleges tried to recruit him during his senior year of high school, and once he finally narrowed it down to two schools, he had a really tough time deciding which school to go to - Alabama or Florida. He really liked both schools and their football programs ... but he also really liked both of their coaches. In the book, he describes his inner turmoil over the decision. Weeks before he was supposed to announce his decision, he didn't know which school he would pick. Days before, he still didn't know. Hours before he got up on the podium to announce his decision, he still didn't know. Walking up to the podium, he STILL didn't know! Ahh!

But in this chapter, Tim talks about how he sought God through this decision. This is what he said ...
"I had been praying about it regularly, and my family was praying as well. I had no doubt that the Lord was leading throughout this whole process, but what was unclear was determining where He was leading. ... People often seem to think that when you're following the Lord and trying to do His will, your path will always be clear, the decisions smooth and easy, and life will be lived happily ever after and all that. Sometimes that may be true, but I've found that more often, it's not. The muddled decisions still seem muddled, bad things still happen to believers, and great things can happen to nonbelievers. When it comes to making our decisions, the key that God is concerned with is that we are trusting and seeking Him. God's desire is for us to align our lives with His Word and His will. ... But that's part of faith, what the writer of the book of Hebrews describes as a belief in things that we cannot see" (Tebow, 85-6).

I love this because I totally agree. God promises to never leave us or forsake us ... He's always with us, no matter what. But He never said that He'd give us all the answers when we need 'em. Sure, He gives us answers when we need 'em sometimes ... He shows us many things, teaches us many lessons, guides and directs us through various circumstances in our lives ... but is He ALWAYS clear? I don't know about you, but I'm with Tim ... God is not always clear. It would be great if God spoke audibly, or like Tim goes on to say in this chapter, it would be nice if God would write messages for us in the clouds. But for reasons only God knows, He doesn't work that way. And it's probably because of that little "f" word - FAITH. God wants us to exercise our faith so that we will grow in Him, and ultimately, become more like Jesus. Cool, huh? :)

I want to share one more cool thought with you ... the thought behind this post.
After I got done reading chapter 8 in Tim's book, I started journaling a prayer to God, talking to Him about this specific part of Tim's book. I immediately thought, "Read your next chapter in Psalms." (I've been reading through the Psalms for quite some time). "It doesn't matter what the next Psalm is, just read it." That's what came to my mind as I asked God some questions in my journal. So I picked up my Bible and turned to Psalm 96.
Verse 8 says ...
"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts!"
That word "offering" is key here, I think. Just like faith is believing in something we cannot see ... an offering is putting our trust in something we cannot see. ... Think about it. Have you ever given an "offering" at church? A tithe is setting aside a certain amount of money each month for God's purposes - usually giving money to your church. And an offering is giving more than your tithe. I like to think of an offering as giving God more than you think you have to give. Maybe some months, you're really tight on money, but you decide to give God your tithe money and then some ... trusting that He will bless it, bless you, multiply it, use it for great things, maybe even reward you for your faith. When we give God an offering, we are giving Him our trust, no matter what the situation and whether or not we know what the outcome is.

I hope I'm not taking this verse out of context or making something up that doesn't align with God's Word. But for me ... I asked God how we can know His will when He doesn't give us His guidance ... or doesn't give it clearly ... and then I went to His Word to find the answer ... and this is what I found - "Mical, no matter what your situation, give Me all the glory; seek My face; and give Me your offering - your worship, a sacrifice - believe without seeing. That's all you really need to know and do."

So no. God doesn't speak audibly. No, He doesn't always give clear direction. He wants to teach us to believe without seeing. He wants us to give Him a sacrifice of praise, an offering of trust ... no matter what happens.

And that's that. My ponderings for the evening. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Season

The seasons of life are pretty crazy, don't ya think? So many come and go in our lifetime. Long seasons. Short seasons. Seasons that are incredible and others that aren't so much. Seasons that are really awesome but really difficult. Seasons that are really awful and really difficult. All kinds of seasons. ... About the only thing I can consistently see in every single season of life is an opportunity for growth. Growth as a person, sure ... but even more importantly, growth as a follower of Jesus. ... Oh, yeah! :D

I don't know about you, but wow ... I wanna be more like Jesus than like myself. God has been teaching me so much in this season of my life. So much about Himself, about myself, about people in general. ... About my attitude, about my faith in Him, about my insecurities, about the way I handle situations that arise - both big and small, about not getting what I want or what I planned, about my calling ... and I'm sure I could keep going with this list of lessons. It's crazy. Crazy to think about all that can happen in your life in just one season.

The past year of my life has been the strangest, most difficult, and most incredible season of my life in my 24 years on this planet. Relationships not working out in the past was hard. Not passing the Praxis was hard. Graduating with a degree I may never "officially" use was hard. But in the past year, I have fought the deepest insecurities, and perhaps, secret sins, of my life. My overactive thyroid sure didn't help, but I don't think it was the entire cause of the battle I faced over this past year. And I thank God for seasons. That season has pretty much passed. And now, I am in a season of REAPING! Oh, to reap. God is so faithful ... even when I'm not. In just the past four months, God has pulled me out of a pit ... a very deep pit that was burying me alive. And in pulling me out, He has taught me so many lessons ... He is STILL teaching me many of them. I still have a long way to go with all of 'em, but wow ... to reap what I have sown, to reap what God has been sowing in me, to learn and to grow and to feel alive again! It had been a lot of months of drought and despair and inner turmoil. And I am finally free! Still growing and working through lessons that are a process to learn ... but FREE. Free to live a passionate, fulfilling, intentional calling. I have purpose. I have life. Because I have JESUS!

I am so thankful for the mighty lessons God teaches me all the time, everyday. The God of the universe loves me personally, intimately, and entirely ... enough to reach into my life and teach me and grow me up in Him and fulfill me. I am so thankful for Jesus and His shed blood. No matter how often I mess up, no matter how often God has to repeat His lessons, no matter what ... Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross is more than sufficient to make up the difference. And for that, I can only keep trying to stay on the straight and narrow path, keep trying to not make excuses for my sin but to make the right choices when I'm convicted and honor Jesus with my whole life. And I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit ... the part of God who lives in me, convicting me, encouraging me, enabling me not only to comprehend but to live out the lessons God teaches me. The Holy Spirit, the empowering part of God who enables me to worship God with my life song.

This season. Oh, this season. A time of growth and redemption and sanctification and joy. Whatever season of life you're in, take the opportunity to GROW. Don't miss this season. Grow. Live. Breathe it all in. God is at work. And He. Is. FAITHFUL. :)

Ephesians 2:10
We are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 16

Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you

Yep, you can't be surprised. ;) ... I recently posted about my heroes - my family - so I thought I'd write about someone new for this one. And yep, Tim Tebow is the one. Someone who inspires me. :)
I've been getting some flak for being such a big fan of Tim, but the way I see it ... who better to root for than someone who loves and promotes Jesus??? And he does! :)

I am so incredibly excited to watch Tim's life. He genuinely loves Jesus and wholeheartedly lives his life for Jesus. And not only that, but he's so constant, unwavering, and humble! He doesn't get worked up about all the negative, and even down-right mean, responses he gets. It all rolls right off his back. He just loves Jesus. The end. And he doesn't care who knows it. In fact, he wants people to know it! His passion, humility, kindness, and genuine love for Jesus are incredibly inspiring and just a flat out gift from God.

Go, Tebow, go!!! :)

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 15

Day 15 - A picture of something you wanna do before you die

I wanna run a mini marathon!!!
I probably should get crackin' on this and stop making excuses. But alas, I still haven't started training one of these crazy things! Over the past several years, I've wanted to be a runner. But wow, is it hard! Dancing is quite a bit more fun and not quite as bad on my already "old lady" knees. Although, after doing Zumba over the past few weeks, my knees would beg to differ.
But yes ... I hope one day to get myself to start running again ... and to run 13.1 miles all at once! :D

Thursday, December 15, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 14

Day 14: A picture of someone you can't imagine your life without

Yeah. This picture sure does make me smile. Hannah and I had a great day the day this picture was taken ... a great week ... a great car ride. We went to Mackinac Island for a few days - such good times! But even more importantly, I smile at this picture because it is of me and one of my most cherished, dear, true friends - ever! Hannah Joy Baker. Yep. I definitely can't imagine my life without her. She and I are what we like to call one another, Cookie Cutter Friends ... CCFs for short. :) A CCF is very special ... someone God cut out of the friendship cloth at the beginning of time just for YOU. Or in this case ... ME. :) God knew I needed Hannah. And God knew Hannah needed me. It's kinda cool how that works, huh? CCFs are those friends who know you the best, stick with you the longest, love you the deepest, and share with you the most. They are incredibly God-shaped and God-given friendships that, once started, can't be lived without. Another special part of my friendship with Hannah is that we are in a similar season of life ... and we have been for awhile --- Single. Bucket List-ers. Exploring our independence. Strong. Beautiful. Care-free. FREE. Open-minded. Open-hearted. God-seekers, God-followers, God-lovers. Growing and being challenged in our faith. And I'm sure I could keep going. And because of all these things, we can share so much together - and we do. :)

Hannah is an incredible friend - beautiful, kind, a prayer warrior, a good listener, supportive, enthusiastic, and just plain runnin' the same race I am. I am so incredibly, entirely, and completely thankful for that woman! Love you, Hannah! :D

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 13

Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band/artist

Oh, yeah! He's beltin' it! hahaha! My favorite singer of all time is David Phelps!!!! Wow, he's amazing! Incredible vocalist! Whoa! I remember the first time I heard David Phelps sing, and from that point on, I was hooked - fo sho!

My mom bought Mark Lowry on Broadway ... a VHS ... probably from a Goodwill. At the time, I hadn't really heard much about Mark Lowry, Bill Gaither, or the Gaither Vocal Band. So I watched the video, and David Phelps and the Gaither Vocal Band sang a couple of songs. First, I heard David sing "A Whole New World" with Sandi Patti. Oh my gosh! Then, he sang with the GVB, and if the deal wasn't already sealed - it was by then! Wow! He is the greatest singer ever!!! And he loves Jesus, even better.

If you don't know who I'm talking about, go to youtube (right now!), and find some of his music - as a solo artist, with GVB, even find the Whole New World song! He's really good, to say the least. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 12

Day 12 - A picture of something you love

Yep, you can't be surprised. If you know me at all, you know I love sweet tea! ... I had to find a picture that said "sweet" tea because it has to be sweet. I won't drink tea if it's not sweet. Mmm, it's so good! And The Porch makes the best tea around - and it so many yummy flavors! Good stuff, indeed.

Sweet tea ... a comfort drink, an addiction, and oh, so yummy! :D

Monday, December 5, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 11

Day 11 - A picture of your favorite movie

Mmm ... oh, yeah! I think I've finally narrowed my favorite movie down to one - Sense and Sensibility. Yeah! Gosh, I love this movie. A lot of heartbreak, a lot of love, a great story line, and the wonderful Colonel Brandon. Need I say more? :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 10

Day 10: A picture of the person you do the most fun things with

This one is definitely Emily MacDonald!!! :)
When the two of us get together, we have to silliest conversations and do the funniest things together. Mostly, they are funny because we are way too easily amused. She and I laugh up a storm almost every time we see each other. Last Saturday night, she was in town for Thanksgiving, and we had a ball! It was one of the funnest times we've had in a while, actually. :) So much fun! We walked around a few stores, went to see a movie, went to dinner, and then I took her home. Doesn't sound too crazy, right? Well, we know how to spice things up ... and just by being together. :) We went to see Breaking Dawn and giggled our way through the cheesy parts (which is most of the movie). And then we laughed about our crush on Jacob all the way to the restaurant. Once at Red Robin, we talked about our struggles and joys, and laughed about all kinds of stuff. On the way home, we stopped at Maggie and Jared's to put a funny message on their door with post-it notes, seeing as they were out of town. And on the way home, we laughed so hard our stomachs AND our heads hurt ... funny stories, bosom buddy bonding time ... it was so great!
Somehow, no matter what I'm doing with Emily, it's fun. We could simply sit on her couch and watch a movie, and we'd find a way to make it fun ... more than usual. Like when we watched Jane Eyre for the first time - it's not a funny show ... but boy, we made it funny! Or looking through Pinterest or You're Not a ... hilarious times! Or when we go out for our picture days - we always do really stupid stuff and take pictures of it! You can find all kinds of pictures of us being dorks on Facebook. Such good times with that girl. ... So yeah, she definitely wins out with this one ... I do the most fun things with Emily!!! :D

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30-Day Jesus Day 6: Believing Without Seeing

Haha! A long while back, I started a blog project called 30-Day Jesus. It was supposed to be 30 straight days of posting about Jesus and what He was doing in my life each day ... to help me be more consistent in my prayer and devotions. Ha! Well, it looks like I only made it to day 5 and gave up. What a dork. ... I guess I'll have to call it "30-Day Jesus" because it's 30 days of Jesus posts ... not in a row ... but just Jesus and what He's doing in my life. ... Every time I post one of my 30-Day Photo Challenge pictures, I think of these 30-Day Jesus posts. It might be good to finish this blog project, so here I go - day 6 is today. :)

I've been thinking a lot about the goodness of God over the past several months. To be honest, I've struggled a lot with believing that God WASN'T good. Eek! Don't tell anybody I said that. A youth pastor who doesn't believe God is good? Umm ... no. "Ban her from the church!" "Get her away from those teenagers!" "Kick her out of the Christian community altogether!" ... Haha! Okay, so I'm taking that a bit far. ... But that's how I've felt! "Oh my gosh. I'm a leader in my church ... I'm teaching the teenagers about Jesus ... people think I've got it together ... and I don't believe God is good???" Ahhh!!!! Yeah, it was quite the struggle for a lot of months.

Thankfully, recently, God's been really at work in my life. He always is ... but recently, it's been extra amazing! :) The Holy Spirit brought a phrase to mind several weeks back that has changed my perspective entirely. I was on my way to my Thursday morning Bible study, when the Holy Spirit whispered to my spirit, "Believe without seeing." Although I couldn't think of the Scripture passage He was pulling this from, I immediately knew He was speaking directly to me and that finding the context of this phrase would be huge. I burst into tears as I thought more about what this phrase really entailed ... and what it meant for my current circumstances.

For so many months, I had been focused on everything but Jesus. I had been wallowing in past hurts, suffocating in dreams that had still not been met, and feeling quite depressed and defeated. ... On Thursday mornings, we had be reading and discussing the book, "Lies Women Believe" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Wow, that's a great book! And the very first lie was "God is not really good." At the time, I had no idea that I was believing THIS SPECIFIC lie. But as we kept studying the book and things began to sink in, wow! Putting my finger on the lie really started changing my perspective. God was at work! He was telling me that I should no longer be depressed and defeated, that I was to BELIEVE in HIM no matter what my circumstances ... even though I couldn't SEE what He was doing and what He was gonna do.

And since that morning, I've been a new woman! I still have a long way to go in so many areas ... but God is really working in me about my circumstances. Believe without seeing. That phrase has really changed my life. ... Oh, and by the way, that phrase comes from Thomas' story after Jesus' death and resurrection - go read about it in John 20:24-29. Wow, it's good stuff! ... No matter what you're facing today, know that Jesus is at work in your life. Even if you can't SEE the work, BELIEVE. BELIEVE! If we believe without seeing, our faith will grow like crazy! Because that's what faith is - BELIEVING WITHOUT SEEING. :)

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 9

Day 9: A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most

This guy is probably the most incredible person you'll ever meet. Ben Nilsen is nonpareil. Haha! Didn't know I had such cool words up my sleeve, huh? ... Actually, I'm stealing it from a really great lady from church, Ronda Coon. :) ... Nonpareil means "a person or thing having no equal." That's quite a word, eh? Well, I think it's the perfect word to describe Ben. If you knew Ben, you'd agree. :) But anyways ... Ben is a great friend of mine. We've kind of lost touch over the past year ... and I still need to call him up for a friend date - told him I would do that weeks ago! Man. But I called him a few weeks back, and even though we hadn't spoken in months, we were able to chat like old times. I'm so thankful for that.

Ben has probably been my greatest encourager ... especially, a couple years back when I was going through a really rough time. I'd had a falling out with a friend, and I was totally heartbroken over it. It caused me a lot of pain. And Ben was my greatest supporter, listener, encourager, and prayer warrior friend during that year of my life. He's the kind of friend you know is praying when you ask (and even when you don't) ... you know is caring even when you haven't spoken in a while ... you know will drop everything and come to your "aide" if you need it. ... We may not be as close or stay in touch as often as we used to - seasons come and go - but Ben will forever have a special place in my heart for all the support he gave me during the roughest season of my life (so far, anyway). I really love and appreciate that guy! He is an incredible brother in Christ! :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Depravity (Part 2): What is the Point?

So what is the point? I bet you're wondering if I had a big epiphany while I was gone. Haha! And well, I think it's coming - slowly but surely. ... but I do have to say that I still don't know why God created us when He knew we were gonna be a bunch of sin bags. He knows His purposes. Obviously, there is more glory to come out of our lives than we will ever know - thank GOD for that!

But ... there is a big ... HUGE ... really IMPORTANT point to be taken away from these ramblings (and from Galatians 6:16-26 and Romans 6 - go read these passages if you haven't already). The answer is found all over these two passages, but I think it is best summed up in two little verses ...

Romans 6:1-2
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

The point is really as simple as that ... in a phrase you might hear my dad use, "Knock it off, ya bozos!" Hahaha! ... That's right - STOP SINNING, YOU DEPRAVED PEOPLE!!!!

I know what you're thinking ... well, at least, I'M thinking it ... "That's NOT simple!!!" I just told you in the last post that I fall into so many sinful attitudes so easily - pride, ungratefulness, impatience, down-right meanness, and the list goes on - and all in 5 minutes too! ... But seriously ... why would Paul (or whoever the heck wrote this book) - who got it from God in the first place - give us this sixth chapter of Romans if he didn't intend for us to LIVE it??? God expects us to read this passage and then DO it!!! Man, that's a heavy order, huh? But it's turning my cringing and my cowering into thoughtfulness, which makes me fix my eyes on Jesus for direction and clarity, which will eventually help me LIVE out this passage - or at least attempt to - a little at a time, day by day. And that brings glory to God! Ha! And there we have it ... the point is bringing glory to God

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." Galatians 6:16

... THAT is the point, my dear friends - to turn away from our sin, to stop it in its tracks, and not just walk, but run, after Jesus, which will, in turn, bring glory to God.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Depravity (Part 1)

I've been thinking about my own depravity lately. Ugh. It makes me cringe. Literally. I am scrunching up my face and my body is cowering a little bit even now as I'm typing. And I want you to think about depravity too. If you can't think about your own 'cause, like me, it makes you sick, then just think about mine. Yes, think about Mical Masterson's depravity.

Have you read the definition of depravity lately? Yuck. I just did, and it makes me cower even more.

Depravity: "corrupt, wicked, or perverted."

*Big sigh and a sad face*

Man. This makes me really upset ... heartbroken, even. Heartbroken because my depravity ... my corrupt, wicked, and perverted nature hurts my Savior, my God, my Spirit - yes, the Three in One.

I don't know how you feel about this issue of TOTAL depravity or if you even have the slightest clue what I'm talking about. Some people do ... most people don't. It's worth looking into if you haven't. It can lead into crazy controversies involving the names John Calvin and John Wesley and all that they believed about God and His relationship with/to us. I'm not gonna get into all of that ... although, I am fascinated by these ideas. I'm not gonna go labeling myself a Calvinist or an Arminianist ... I don't much care about names. But! One thing I will not budge on is this idea of total depravity. Total depravity is this ... that we are totally and completely sinful (remember those ugly words from before? - corrupt, wicked, perverted? Yep, we're ALL of those), that we can do NOTHING good in our own strength - ONLY through God's working in our lives can we do, say, or think anything good at all (also known as giving us His GRACE - what we DON'T deserve).

And THAT is what I've been thinking about lately. People may argue this point, but for me, it's as easy as looking at my OWN life. Every SINGLE day ... and usually, several times a day ... I fall into sin after sin. A LOT of things qualify as sin. Sin, in itself, is "missing the mark." The "mark" is perfection (also known, and only known, as JESUS) ... and so if our hearts and minds are exuding anything but perfection, we are sinning. Whoa! Now, there's another blog post. Whew! Thank you, Jesus, for your grace! So when I think about sin that way, I KNOW I'm totally depraved! Man, oh man.

... Okay. Back to the point. Today, I was in a funk about something meaningless ... I was claiming my "rights" about something - ha, like I have any of those. And it made feel frustrated and irritable. It made me prideful and ungrateful and just mean in my heart. Otherwise known as ... I was wallowing in sin. And I got to thinking, and I voiced this to my mom ... I screw up all the time. I am totally corrupt and wicked and perverted, and I'm always going to be. Sure, God enables me to be pure and sanctified and holy, but in my depravity, 9 times out of 10, I chose to walk in the flesh instead of in the Spirit. I asked my mom, "So if God made us for His glory, and we screw up all the time, what's the point?" This question came from conviction. I was convicted because I was not only making excuses about my rights, being prideful, and ungrateful ... I was also being impatient and unkind about some demanding customers. And God was convicting me about all of these MANY sinful attitudes. So I was discouraged with myself. I told mom, "I'm so glad God is gracious 'cause if I were God, I woulda zapped all of us by at least the 3rd time ... heck, I wouldn't have created us at all!"
And when you think about this ... when you think about my question to my mom "If God made us for His GLORY, and we constantly SIN, then what's the point?", we get into some pretty convicting stuff.

So what is the point?
Galatians 5:16-26 and Romans 6 come to mind. Hold on. I'll be back in a bit. I need to go read these again ... hey, why don't you join me, and we'll meet back here for some more deep thoughts in, let's say, a half an hour? Just let me know if you need more time. ;)

BRB ...

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 8

Day 8 - A picture that makes you laugh

This picture is my profile picture - I know, I know. But I can't help but laugh hysterically every time I see it. That's WHY it's my profile picture! :D ... You had to be there when this picture was taken ... or rather, you had to be there when Emily and I were looking through our pictures of the day we had just spent together. We had gone to Gabby's (a yummy burger place) for lunch (where this picture was taken), walked at the park, done a little shopping ... fun day. And we finished our day with one of the weirdest movies ever, Jane Eyre. It really is an odd and almost creepy movie. (I was a bit weirded out then, but now, I love it!) We were so confused for most of it, making fun of it, and having a great time cracking each other up. And then we started looking at these pictures, once the movie was over. ... So we're already beyond gitty, and I see this picture of myself. And I just lose it, which makes Emily lose it. So now, I probably laugh more at that moment (ha! Try 10 minutes!) of my gitty laughter than the picture itself. But anyways ... long story short - you had to be there. But it's a funny picture either way. :D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 7

Day 7: A picture of your most cherished item

Yep. It's definitely my blanket. You may not be able to see this blanket well in the picture, but my closest friends can attest to the fact that this blanket is the most pathetic looking blanket ... maybe ever. I still remember taking this blanket to our Bogalusa mission trip 2 summers ago, and Pastor Mike asked me ... "So you're still carryin' around that blanket, huh?" Hahahaha! Hilarious! It's true. I can't go on any trip, sleep in any hotel, sleep AT ALL without this raddy old thing. It may be old and ugly to anyone else, but to me, it's my security blanket - I will never throw it away. It is most assuredly my most treasured material possession. :D

Monday, October 31, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 6

Day 6: A picture of a person you'd like to trade places with for a day

My brother is one of the most inspiring people I know and one of my heroes. Wes is one of "those" people. Ya know who I'm talkin' about? The kind of person you wanna be like 'cause he's so positive and upbeat and outgoing. I would love to trade places with him for a day just to see what it's like to be THAT optimistic. I think I'm a pretty optimistic person a lot of the time, but over the past few years, I haven't been able to STAY an optimist because I don't know how to keep an eternal perspective. But Wes knows how. He's so good at seeing the big picture - even when he's going through a rough time. It takes a lot for him to get down. He's just good at staying determined to win ... to live his life to the fullest ... to get what he wants. And he's so outgoing. He's worked hard to get where he is, but he's always been a social guy, never really worrying about what other people think. How does he do that? Gosh. I want all of these qualities! Man, do I? So if I could trade places with anyone in the world, it'd be Wes. If I could walk around this planet for just 5 minutes with Wes' outlook, I know I would be a changed woman. Needless to say, I think a lot of my little brother ... he inspires me.

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 5

Wow. I am really bad at blogging consistently. Oh, well. Here I go again ... continuing the 30-day photo challenge.

Day 5: A picture of your favorite memory

I love this one! It's making me smile. I don't know if I can really narrow my thoughts down to just one favorite memory ... gosh, that's tough. But I'm not surprised that the only memories that come to mind for "favorite" memories involve Adam Cook. *Big grin* I love that guy! Adam and Uncle Mike and Jen were a huge part of my childhood. If we weren't at their house every Sunday and Wednesday night after church, then they were at our house ... along with a bunch of other families from church. Man, those were the days ... lots of fellowship, lots of laughter, lots of frozen pizza and movies and me and Adam and Wes playing video games in Adam's room. Adam has always been one of my favorite guys ... we grew up together, hung out a lot, and well, he just kind of became my big brother.

Some of my best memories growing up ... and really, in my whole life ... have had him in 'em. This picture was taken at Adam's apartment in Cincinnati. I went with him and his family to help him move to Cincinnati 'cause he was going to radio broadcasting school for a year and a half or so. It was such a great day. I rode between Uncle Mike and Jen in the big, moving truck, and we talked and laughed and probably sang the whole way there. Once we got there, we moved all of Adam's stuff in ... he was so excited. And I remember sitting on Adam's bed bummin' out 'cause he wasn't gonna be around for a long time. When this picture was taken, he had walked into his room to talk to me ... "So whatta ya think, Mike?" ... And I remember I had written him a long, sappy letter telling him how much I was gonna miss him ... and I probably gave him a million Bible verses to read. I was a nut. I tried to slip it under his mouse pad by his computer, so he could find it later and read it once we were gone. But he found it while we were still there, and I was embarrassed. ... After we got him all moved in and helped him set up his place, we all went out to dinner ... at Ponderosa, maybe? Some buffet, I remember. And then Adam headed to his apartment, and we all headed home.

I remember feeling so privileged and special to go with them that day. I simply adored Adam. I still do - can you tell? :) Here I was ... not even apart of his family ... everyone else was ... and I got to go too. And ya know, it's been amazing ever since. I've been close with all those guys - Adam and Jon and Jason and Jarrod, Uncle Mike and Jen ... a lot of their family for a lot of years. I couldn't be more thankful to know the Cooks and the Adamsons. They are such a great family, and I'm, in some ways, apart of their family ... well, at least ... a girl can dream, can't she? :) I love those guys!

Friday, September 23, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 4

Well, it's been quite a while since I started my 30-day photo challenge. Got a bit sidetracked - as usual. But here I go again.
So ... I think I'm on day 4 ...

Day 4: A picture of your favorite day

My favorite day is any time I hang out with my teenagers. They are, without a doubt, the joy of my life ... closely followed by dance. But my teens definitely win! :)

In this picture, we had just finished putting on an entire evening of skits, music, and serving spaghetti and salads and garlic bread for our big-time fundraiser. We were headed to Cottage Cove (our summer mission trip in 2010), and this "dinner and a show" fundraiser was one of the most involved SoZo events in years. We practiced and planned for weeks and weeks, and it was a huge success.

It was so amazing spending this kind of time with the teens. I really got to see more into their personalities, saw more of their talents, and just became even more proud than I already was. ... It is such a gift working in youth ministry. I am totally in love with my kids, so my best days are spent loving them and being loved on by them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 3

Day 3: A picture of the cast of your favorite show

Yay Chuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I really like the tv show Chuck. The best tv show ever, in my opinion. :) Comedy. Romance. Action. Really cute lead guy. It doesn't get any better. :D

I heart this show :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 2

Day 2: A picture of the person you've been friends with the longest

Maggie Elizabeth Monahan Wade :)

Yep. Mags has been my best friend since the 1st grade. And I can honestly say that we've been not just friends, but close friends, all of those years. Isn't that awesome?? :) Not many people have close friends for 18+ years. Gosh, I am blessed!

Maggie is simply wonderful. She's kind and tons of fun ... loves watching cheesy love-triangle movies and tv shows (something we've grown to appreciate together too!) ... has a love for ice cream and swimming - we've had lots of good memories with these two treats. And she's been such a great friend to me over the years. I even got to be a bridesmaid in her wedding! But I think my favorite thing about Mags is her quiet and gentle spirit. I've always wanted to be more like her when it comes to being ... well, quiet and gentle. She's so together. She makes good decisions. And all in her "Maggie way": quietly and gently. She doesn't get too bent out of shape about much of anything. She doesn't lash out at people or have many soap boxes. She's pretty laid back and even-keel ... such great qualities ... qualities I've always desired, especially when I see them in her.

Maggie Wade ... my longest, loveliest friend :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 1

My next blog project is the 30-day photo challenge :)

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 1: A picture of yourself and 10 facts

#1: I'm one of the biggest goofballs I know
#2: I am the dancin' queen ... especially ballroom - woot, woot! :D
#3: I am a youth pastor, and I LOVE my teenagers!!!
#4: I am addicted to sweet tea :)
#5: Texas Roadhouse is my favorite restaurant ... closely followed by The Porch
#6: I am one of the biggest saps you'll ever meet - a hopeless romantic, indeed.
#7: I love crocs!
#8: I'm a huge Southern Gospel fan ... especially, The Gaither Vocal Band :D
#9: I wear all of my emotions on my sleeve
#10: I really wanna travel to New Zealand someday!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Kind words; Kind actions"

1 Peter 3:8-17

Wow. This is some good stuff right here. Go get your Bible, and read this passage.

God's been convicting me lately ... concerning a cheesy, little motto I use in SoZo all the time: "Kind words; Kind actions." Haha! I love this! I don't know what happened that made me think this up ... but I started saying it a couple years back, and it stuck. And I say it to the SoZo-ers all the time when they are being somewhat less than kind. It's a youth group motto of ours. And I've claimed it for myself too - at least in words. I found out recently that I only claimed it in words. ... Did you know that "Kind words; Kind actions" is not only a rule when you're with people, talking with them, interacting with them, and so on, but it's also a rule when you're not with them?

That's what God's been convicting me about. And 1 Peter 3:8-17 is more conviction. I've been struggling at The Porch lately. I've had some pretty demanding customers to wait on in the past few weeks. They cop a "tude" and ask for a million different things - most of them ridiculous. They are impatient and inconsiderate. Man, it's been driving me crazy. And I've been unkind, to say the least. I walk back into the kitchen to give my mom the order, and I'm complaining and saying mean things about them. Unkind. I cop a "tude" about them. Unkind. I talk about their shinanigans to my co-workers, Rene and Saya. Unkind. I've also been unkind in my heart about one of the instructors at Arthur Murray. I don't think he should be instructing ... much less trying to teach me to dance ... because he doesn't have much dance experience, can't keep a beat, and doesn't lead the steps right. So I've complained to my mom and to myself and to God about him many times. I need to be more patient ... more kind to him, even when he's not listening.

I've bought a few "signs" recently - at the Christian bookstore and Hobby Lobby - about kindness. "Kindness Matters" ... "Do the kindest things in the kindest ways" ... etc. And I'm reminded that I haven't been kind. ... It sounds like such a simple thing ... and to many people, maybe it doesn't sound very important, but kindness IS important. SO important. Not only 'cause it helps people like you and gives you a better reputation but because God wants us to be kind. Kindness is a fruit of the spirit. And 1 Peter 3:8-17 talks about it too. Well, it talks about "doing good" ... which means being kind.

"Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it."
1 Peter 3:10-11

And verse 14 is incredible ...
"Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?"

Doesn't that just hit you up side the head??
Mical, if you are passionate about being kind, then how can any one person's antics get to you?

We are called to be kind. Period.
So that's what I'm going to do.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dear Emily #3

Dear Emily,

Thanks for your text earlier today! Looovveee those! :D The timing was interesting. I was just pulling into the hospital for the second time. No worries. Nothing too serious. But I haven't told you that I have an enlarged thyroid. Not sure what that means yet, but it's the reason for a lot of junk that's popped up in my life over the past 6-8 months. I just haven't been me. I've been depressed and moody ... grouchy ... negative ... insecure and lonely. So many crazy emotions that I haven't been able to handle. My hormones have been out of whack, and I've just been a big mess. I knew something was wrong because it was so out of character for me ... but I didn't know why or how to look for the reasons why. I went to the doctor for a physical last Monday, and I told him about my symptoms - depression, shaking, stomach aches, headaches, PMS symptoms 24/7, and so on. He told me my thyroid was too big, and so I was in Indy for most of the day today being tested. Haven't found out anything much yet. I'll keep you posted. ... But gosh, I am just so thankful to know that there is a root to my struggles over the past several months. I was about to go insane - really. I just wanna be ME again. Mical Masterson - she's a keeper ... when she's herself. :)

So thank you for your text ... and your prayers today. I'll update you when I have more news.
I miss you.
Love you,
Mical :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Carpenter's Gift

I shared this story with my youth group at Sunday School last Sunday. It went along with the theme of the lesson - "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" - and with our key verse for the day - Romans 8:28 ... "And we know that God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

This story really touches my heart ... I almost cried in front of my kids when I read it to them. Who knows? I might cry by the time I get it all typed out here. :)

The Carpenter's Gift

Grandpa Nybakken loved life, especially, when he could play a trick on somebody. At those time, his large Norwegian frame would shake with laughter while he feigned innocent surprise, exclaiming, "Oh, forevermore!" But on a cold Saturday in downtown Chicago, God played a trick on him.
Grandpa Nybakken worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he volunteered to build some crates to hold the clothes his church was sending to an orphanage in China. When he finished building the crates, he helped pack them full of clothing and load them on the trucks that would take them to the shipping docks. He felt good that he could contribute to the project, even in a small way.
On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses. They were gone. He mentally replayed his earlier actions and realized what had happened. The glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates. His brand new glasses were heading for China!
The old carpenter had very little money, certainly not enough to replace the glasses. He was upset at the thought of having to buy another pair. "It's not fair," he told God as he drove home in frustration. "I've been very faithful in giving of my time to your work, and now this happens."
Several months later, the director of the Chinese orphanage came to speak at the old carpenter's small church. He began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage. "But most of all," he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way to replace those glasses. My coworkers and I were much in prayer about the situation. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed one of the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top."
The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued, "Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as thought they had been custom-made for me! I want to thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity."
The congregation listened, pleased about the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no eyeglasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.

But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, was an ordinary carpenter who on an ordinary day was used in an extraordinary way by the Master Carpenter Himself.

Oh! Isn't that just amazing!? Wow. I just love this story. It really helps remind me that GOD is at work ALL THE TIME! In those bummer situations ... during all those times that I failed the Praxis, in these 2 years that I've been working with the youth at Calvary and working other jobs here and there, wondering what the heck God is doing ... Wow. This story helps remind me that GOD is working in these situations in my life - I just don't know what He's doing. But I'm holding on to this story and claiming it as a PROMISE in my own life - that GOD is doing something big in the midst of my bummers. And He's doing it in YOUR life too! How incredible. Thank you, Jesus, for the ordinary carpenter's story.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dear Emily #2

Dear Emily,
How was your 4th of July? Had a new DTI group come in yesterday, right? How was the first day of work?

I did basically nothing today. It was great. :) I slept in till 10am, talked to my brother for the 20 minutes he was home (he just came in to town to see his girlfriend ... oh, well), headed to Wal-Mart to buy I Am Number Four and Beastly, got a medium Donatos pepperoni pizza and ate all but two pieces in one sitting ... needless to say, I had a bad stomach ache for the rest of the day. ... And then, believe it or not, I started taking everything down off of my walls in my bedroom!!! Ahh! I can't believe I'm doing it ... but I've been thinking lately that the things on my walls (not all of 'em but most) are outdated - God's using new scripture in my life, the majority of the people in the pictures are not my friends/barely my friends anymore, and I just felt like doing something new ... starting over. It's gonna take a while ... but it's a new, little adventure I started today. :) I've got about 3/4 of my pictures still on the walls, but just about everything else has been taken down. I took a break a few hours ago, to cook some soup beans and cornbread for dinner ... and then I watched State Fair, which I've decided is one of my new favorite movies. I just love Pat and Margie's love story - all two weeks of it. Haha! Good day, indeed.

I hope your day was great too! Watching any fireworks? I can see the ones going off at the high school from my bedroom window. Hope it was a great day for ya ... make sure King Barry doesn't kill himself if he's doing huge fireworks again this year. ;) ... Wow, it sounds like a bunch of guns going off outside my window! ... Talk to ya soon.

Love ya,
Mical :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

6 Things

I'm copying Emily :)

6 Positive Things about My Life ....

#1: I have HOPE and JOY in Jesus!
I am quite the worrier ... quite the spaz ... quite the striver. The tiniest things shake me up and stress me out. And I'm constantly beating myself up, thinking that I have the ability to be perfect. Ha! Riiigghhhht ... Ultimately, it's a trust issue and a negative attitude holding me down. I'm working on it. I really am. But these things are real struggles for me. BUT!!! In the midst of these DAILY trials ... GOD in all of His GRACE, helps me through it. He reminds me of His mighty promises ... things like ... He's gonna finish the good work He started in me. He's gonna work all of my difficult times out for my good and His glory. He's gonna reveal to me the path of life. He's willing me and working in me for His good purpose. And so many others. And that gives me hope. And He places an unbelievable joy in me at times ... unexplainable. When things are going all wrong, I have joy because He is my Savior, and He takes care of me.

#2: I have INCREDIBLE parents and a very INSPIRING brother!
My parents are my rock. They have supported me, stood by me, encouraged me, pointed me to Christ, listened to me ... all of my life. I've been in a season of trials for the past 5 or 6 years, and no matter how much I complain, vent, cry, pour myself out ... they always listen, give godly advice, and love me through it. They are two of the most godly people I know. And their love and support has meant more to me than almost anything in my life. I have the greatest parents in the world.
And Wes ... wow. He amazes me most of the time. Sure, he occasionally steals some of my stuff and takes it to school with him!! But that's okay, I guess. ;) ... He is growing in the Lord so much right now. He is so positive and upbeat and outgoing and determined. His constant energy and dreamer-mentality and positive attitude inspire and convict me more than anything else. I really want to be like Wes when I grow up. Confident. Always smiling. Always positive. Determined to not settle for less than his best. He's just an all-around great guy. And I'm quite proud of him, if you can't tell. ;)

#3: I get to work with and love on TEENAGERS every week!
I may not be a school teacher like I dreamed. But wow! Look at where God has placed me! Look at what He's done through me! I can't think of anything better than working with teenagers. They fill my life with so much joy ... I have a hard time believing that God's grace is that big. :D ... I will say that they make me insane sometimes ... their antics can get old. But God CALLED me to love teenagers! I. Am. Called. And somehow, no matter how nuts they can make me, no matter how hard the task in youth ministry (and there are a lot of 'em!), God gives me the grace and patience and love to NEVER wanna give up, to always love them. And I do. I. Do. Wow. Thank you, Jesus, for calling me to youth ministry!!!

#4: I get to DANCE, and I have an INCREDIBLE dance instructor!
Yep. Who's jealous? Everyone, I know. ;)
I get to take dance lessons 5 days of the week. I'm learning to be graceful and beautiful and confident ... and I'm not too bad of a dancer either. ;) It is a blast!!! But the best part about it is hanging out with my dance instructor, Randy. He is one of the most happy, upbeat, encouraging guys you'll ever meet. And I adore him! He is a ton of fun and has helped me more than he's knows. He is a gift from God, without a doubt.

#5: I have the greatest FRIENDS in the world!
I am incredibly blessed to have lots of friends ... but Emily, Hannah, Mags, and Shelley will probably always be my best friends. Emily is my bosom friend - the closeness of our friendship is not something that comes around in every friendship. We sometimes say that God made one person and split her into two beings - me and Emily. Hannah is my cookie cutter friend. We say that, at the beginning of time, God knew how much we needed each other, so He cut us out of the same cloth and decided that we would be friends one day. (Yes, my friends and I have lots of cheesy analogies). Mags is my LLF - my longest, loveliest friend - she has been my best friend longer than anyone, and the thing I appreciate the most about Maggie is that she is always my friend - always and no matter what. And Shelley is my youth pastor ... or his wife. :) She loves me and holds a special place in my heart ... since the 8th grade. Her influence and love is something I will never forget.

#6: I live in a FREE country!
You may say our country is going down the drain, but we still live in an amazing country. And I'm very thankful to be an American. I get to speak Jesus in my school and at work. I get to go to church every Sunday, and it's not underground. I get paid to tell teenagers about Jesus! In this country, I am FREE to be FREE in Christ. What a gift that is.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dear Emily #1

I'm starting yet another series of blog posts ... will they ever end? Haha! They are called "Dear Emily" posts, and they will help me stay connected to my bosom buddy who now lives in Nashville ... 5 long hours away from Indianapolis. Sad day. Err ... but (this is supposed to be a happy idea) it's all good. We are staying close - thank you, Jesus, for facebook and blogs ... and BBFness. So here they begin ...

Dear Emily,
Your blog is amazing! And I'm so impressed with how often you post on it. I go away and don't read it for just a couple of days, and you have 3 or 4 posts up. Amazing! And they are always so fun.

Thank you for telling me ... ha! I mean everyone ... wow, I really do want you all to myself, don't I? Thank you for sharing so much on your blog. It really helps me stay connected with you.

I'm so thankful that you're doing well - in the midst of crazy emotions - and that King Barry is loving you so completely and taking care of you.

I want to tell you about some new plans of mine. :) I'm taking the Praxis again! Well, the first step is ordering my scores again. The Praxis people have started something new ... something called a composite score. If my math, reading, and writing scores from the Praxis 1 add up to 527, then I PASS!!! Even if my reading score is not up to snuff, the composite score will make up the difference. I ordered my scores yesterday, so I'll find out in a few weeks if I have to take the test again. But my plan is to pass the Praxis and start back to school to finish my teaching degree. I'm gonna work at Calvary with SoZo and go back to school. If things work out, I'll be ready to look for a teaching job for the fall of 2013. ... Whew. There's part of me that can't believe I'm gonna try this again. What the heck? What am I thinking? ... But I'm not at peace. I love my SoZo-ers, and I want my mom's business to succeed ... but I can't do what I'm doing forever. I can't even do it for another few years, really. Whew. I've gotta try again. I'm going to.

What do you think? Do you think I'm doing the right thing? Am I crazy for trying a 10th time!? Wow. God's going to help me. I can't do it without Him. It'll be devastating to fail again. But I've gotta try.

Missing you ... oh, so much.
Love you,
Mical :)

A Prayer for Today ... and Every Day

Gracious God,
Help me to keep my mind focused on You this day. Help me to understand more about myself today, especially who I am in Your eyes. Lord, calm my fears, relieve my anxieties, and teach me how to rely on You for security and support. Show me the pathways to joy and peace so that I may truly rejoice and sing praises to You. In Jesus' name I pray.

This prayer touched my heart and brought me one step closer to letting go of my fears and worries ... while I was at a spiritual weekend experience this past May. So powerful ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

God's Grammar Rules: Adjectives

Ooo! Ooo! I'm so excited! I was just looking through some old posts, and I found God's Grammar Rules! Do you remember those posts? ... Well, it's time for another one. ... I looked up the definition for adjective, and my favorite DEF is "not able to stand alone; dependent." Good, huh?

When you think about adjectives, you can see that definition ... adjectives often describe nouns ... a noun can stand on its own in a sentence (Watch the cat run.), but an adjective can't (Watch spunky run.). It just doesn't work. But put 'em together, and you've got a more descriptive sentence (Watch the spunky cat run.) Ha! What a lame sentence ... but hopefully you see the point.

I like this new grammar rule for three reasons ...

#1: Being reminded that I can't stand alone helps me DEPEND on God. In my everyday life, I need God to survive - He gives me the very air I breath, and He can take it away. In my everyday life, I need God to help me overcome sin and trials, and without Him, I would just be a big tub of hopeless, sin guts. In my everyday life, I would probably sink into the depths of despair without His love and hope. My life is one big adjective. It exists to bring glory to the Noun, God, Himself. Apart from Him, I can do nothing.

#2: Also, in being an adjective, I need other parts of speech to help me be the best adjective I can be - often, those other parts of speech are verbs or other adjectives. ... I'm learning that it's difficult to stand alone. I've been very lonely lately. My friends will always be my friends - thank you, Jesus, for that. But they are still getting married, having kids, moving away. And that changes things for us ... there is no way around it ... change comes to friendships. God works in the midst of that change, but the change is still hard. My fellow verbs and adjectives are still doing their jobs to complete the sentence of their lives ... but they are leaving me to stand alone just the same. But again, I guess that DEPENDENCY on the Noun makes me a stronger adjective ... which will help me articulate more fully the awesomeness of the Noun to those around me.

#3: Lastly, I love being an adjective who describes the Noun because the Noun gives me a job to do - description - otherwise known as - PURPOSE. I have a reason to live and keep pushing forward in this sentence of life: The Noun loves me enough to give me a calling and to write my story everyday. The Noun thinks I'm beautiful. The Noun MAKES me beautiful. I may make the Noun look good by describing Him to a world of incomplete sentences, but He fulfills me and sticks with me so that I never have to truly stand alone.

I'd say being an adjective is okay ... wouldn't you? ;)
While I was going to school at IUPUI, writing papers and tutoring papers, I came across a lot of weak adjectives. The reason? Thinking up effective adjectives is hard work! You have to really think about it. But don't let that get you down. Be the best adjective you can be. Make Jesus look good! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Cute Guy from High School ...

This is a totally ridiculous post.

I wanna know what's up with guys. How the heck can they have such a hold on a girl? Sheesh. ... I was at one of my SoZo senior's open houses a few weeks back and a guy I went to high school with came through the door. He graduated the year before I did. We were in choir together and some musicals. Wow ... I don't even know him that well, and as soon as I saw him, I got really nervous ... and really excited. Oh my gosh. I'm laughing at myself on the other side of this keyboard. Ha! What is up with that? I barely knew him in high school ... I'd only seen him once since he graduated ... what the heck? ... And what's worse ... he knew exactly who I was, talked to me so casually, and well, we just connected. Too much fun.

And oh, how the female mind works. ... I've been having a hard time not thinking about him since the open house. It is really obnoxious being a girl sometimes. My mind is running way ahead of reality. "Did he think I was cute? Is that why he was so attentive?" "Maybe he really will come to church, like he said." "And we could get to know each other ..." Ha! Need I say more? What a dork. If you're a woman reading this, do you know what I'm talking about? Has a cute guy ever paid attention to you, and you ran away with it? Hahaha! I'm laughing out loud once again. Ridiculous. ... Oh, well ... I'm young. I'm single ... very single. I'm allowed to admire God's good work. ... I'll keep being patient though ... God's got somebody for me ... someday. :)

What a hoot ...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Los Ra :)

Another favorite sight is mexican restaurants ... 'cause I love mexican food!!! But more specifically, I love Los Rancheros. MMMM, YUMMY! It's got yummy cheese sauce and sweet tea! It's the only mexican place around that has sweet tea ... that alone, makes it mi favorito! :D I also like it 'cause it's my CCF date spot. Hannah Baker and I meet there at least once a month for a chicken burrito with cheese sauce (no red sauce) and refried beans and a Mr. Pibb (for Hannah) and either beef soft tacos and refried beans or a chicken quesadilla (with no onions and green peppers), rice, and beans and a sweet tea (for me). A a small order of queso - of course! :D We've had lots of great conversations - about our bucket lists, about being single, about our hopes and dreams, about our struggles, about our passions, about the Lord ...

... It has definitely become a cherished place in my life :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gosh, I love this place!

Look at that! Isn't that the greatest thing you've ever seen?? :D
Haha! Well, it is to me. Aww, my home. Gosh, I love this place. I am probably the most blessed person on the planet when it comes to my home. Not only is it a great building with a classroom/3-car garage and barn and 2 acres of land ... but it's a place where love and spiritual growth and faithfulness and godliness and encouragement and hope have been given and shown to me for the past 18 years of my life. As part of my home, I have the best parents in the world. They love me unconditionally ... they have helped me grow in my faith probably more than anyone else has - ever ... they are incredible examples of godliness and faithfulness in my life ... and they give me constant encouragement about God's plan for my life and about who I am to them and to Christ. And I have an incredible brother who inspires me probably more than anyone else I know. He is so determined and strong ... he is so disciplined and uplifting ... the positive energy he gives off nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is both convicting and encouraging ... and he is really beginning to grasp what's truly important in life - living his life all for Jesus and not for himself. My home has been all of these things with these people. It has been open to strangers and church members and other family members who needed a home for months and even years at a time. It has been a Sunday night/Wednesday night after church hang-out spot for Jack's frozen pizza and lots of laughs around our little kitchen table with the Cooks and the Dailys and the Stroups and others. It has been a place for basketball and go-carts and swimming and jumping on the trampoline and building tree houses with friends. It has been a school for me and my brother. It has been a safe place ... a refuge ... and a very dear place to my heart.

Ha! Sometimes, I just sit in my room and stare at my walls, thinking about how someday, I'm gonna have to leave this place. Someday, I'll have to move out and be an adult - either with a family of my own or a job or an apartment with friends. Someday, my parents will sell this place and move south. Someday, I won't be able to turn off of 36 onto our bumpy, gravel driveway and look up at this place and say, "gosh, I love this place." ... Wow, I am way to nostalgic for my own good, huh? :) I just love my home. What a gift from God.

Probably my favorite sight in the world ... now, do you know why? :D

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dance shoes in the rear view mirror ...

I've been wanting to start a new blog project for a while. My bosom buddy, Emily, over at "The Thought Spot ..." has been blogging a lot lately, and her posts are always so fun and creative. And I love keeping up with her life in Nashville. So in effort to help her keep up with my life in Indy (because she wants to know about it!), I need to start blogging again. So my new blog project is this ... posts (and pictures) about my favorite sights. Yes, I'm gonna start telling you about and showing you my favorite things to see.

And today's sight is my dance shoes. :)

I took these pictures several weeks back, thinking I would use 'em for this blog project. I had piled 4 or 5 of my kids into my car after a youth event, and they put my dance shoes in the window of my back seat to make more room for them to sit. I saw them in my rear view mirror everyday for a few weeks, and I always smiled when I saw them ... yes, dance really does bring me that much joy. Haha! Dancing has just been so fun and liberating and a self-esteem boost and a huge outlet for me, so just seeing my dance shoes gets me excited! I've told you about my incredible dance instructor, Randy ... and the other instructors are amazing ... and dancing is helping me stay away from loneliness. It's just been awesome. Everyone needs to find a hobby that they can pour themselves into ... 'cause it is so rewarding and really just plain helpful in life. I sure do love to dance!!!!

I love Mondays!

I love Mondays. I won't say they're my favorite day of the week because Sundays are and always will be - I love going to church! Hanging out with the Body of Christ is my all-time favorite thing to do. But I will say that Mondays are wonderful ... wonderful because they are my Sabbath. If you don't take a day of rest every week, you need to! First of all 'cause God commands it ... but also because it is just plain awesome. I started having a Sabbath every week beginning sometime during my freshman year of college ... and boy, did it start one of the greatest blessings in my life. It was such a huge stress-reliever to consistently take a day of from life every single week. It really helped balance me during my college years - every week, I took one day with NO homework, NO classes, NO work ... and it was amazing! 5 years later, and I'm still taking a day off. I call it my day off from life because I really do absolutely nothing on my Sabbath these days. I lay on the couch watching movies usually ... and I feel like a huge bum by the end of the day ... but wow, is it refreshing!

Today, I slept in until almost 1pm! When I finally got up, I fixed myself some lunch and plopped on the couch for a movie. Fireproof. It was so good - as always. Then I spent the afternoon reading my bosom buddy's blog. I guess I did something productive today ... I cleaned my room - my huge pile of clothes if finally off the floor. And I loaded some pictures onto my computer. And now, I'm blogging!!! And headed to dance later. But ultimately, I've had a lazy day, and it's been great!!!

Mondays are awesome!

Monday, May 16, 2011

30-day Jesus Day 5: The Psalms

I stared reading Psalms again recently. Saya was talking about heaviness of that book recently ... the ups and downs of the writer ... and I got to thinking about my life. I am up and down ... All. The. Time. Sheesh.

My season of life is so lame sometimes. Sure, I need to be thankful and look at things from God's perspective and be content ... and the list goes on. But I'm not. I'll keep trying ... but I'm not always doing and saying and being the right things. And that's okay. That's what I'm learning ... that it's okay to not have it all together. I've been fooling myself into thinking that I am supposed to have it together ... that I CAN have it together! Ha! Only one person ever had it together ... Jesus. Duh! So, again, I'm learning that I don't have it together (took me a while, huh?), and that's okay.

I've been gathering some encouragement from the Psalms. Here's what I've found so far .....

Psalm 1:3 --- "He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers."

Psalm 2:11 --- "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."

Psalm 3:3 --- "But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy hill."

Psalm 4:8 --- "In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Psalm 5:11-12 --- "But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For You bless the righteous, O Lord; You cover him with favor as with a shield."

Psalm 6:4 --- "Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of Your steadfast love."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

30-day Jesus Day 4: The Funk

Well, the 30 days of devotions right in a row is out! Sheesh! I have proven that I am the most undisciplined person in the world ... and now, the whole world can see it! Haha! Oh, well. I'll keep bloggin' the 30-day Jesus ... it just, obviously, won't be 30 days straight.

I was talking to my youth group kids, tonight, about ... yep, you guessed it ... my journey concerning an eternal perspective. And sharing it with them made me wanna share it with you.

At the beginning of the year, I posted about my goal to further gain an eternal perspective. And like I told my SoZo-ers, I am amazed at God ... because when we ask Him to teach us things ... HE DOES! Ha! Not very profound, I know. But a really awesome concept when you think about it. ... The GOD of the UNIVERSE cares enough about ME to TEACH me things!!! Wow!!! And ever since I asked Him to teach me more about this thing called an eternal perspective, He has. :) Lately, He's been bringing lessons in the form of The Faith Dare. So I must share again ... from this great book.

The last couple of chapters have talked about "getting out of the funks of life" and "overcoming our circumstances." Good, right?
The first part - The F.U.N.K. - talked about the definition of "funk" and gave an acronym for it. Really good stuff.
Funk - "a cowering fear or a dejected mood." Did you know that is the definition of "funk"? 'Cause I sure didn't.
The second part - the acronym for "funk" - is this ...
F - a problem with our FOCUS; a time when our FEELINGS prevail
U - UNDER the circumstances, UNDER the condition, UNDER the weather
N - NEEDY or NOT thankful
K - KEEPING the fire of the funk burning by tending to it, KEEPING it alive

If you really stop and think about this acronym, you will be amazed at how right it is. Man, the funks of life (our bad moods and even the things we fear) always start with getting our focus off Christ. Hebrews 12:2-3 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Jesus DESERVES our attention ... our FULL attention. He does not ever want us to take our eyes off of Him. In other words, He always wants us to maintain an eternal perspective. And if we remember what Jesus went through to give us our very lives and the right perspective in the first place, we will have the right focus; we will not be weighed down by our circumstances.
Secondly, when I get stuck under my circumstances, I tend to stay under them. I let myself dwell on the difficult and frustrating times. And usually, these trying times come from an ungrateful heart towards God. ... Bummer.

If we will hang on to the promises of God, though, we will not fall into the funks of life so often. Check these out ...
~ Psalm 142:1-3
"I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him; before Him, I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint with in me, it is You who know my way."
~ John 16:33
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
~ Romans 12:21
"Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good."
~ 1 John 5:4
"For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."

Wow. What goodness and grace from God.
Oh, to learn this lesson! If we would strive to get out of our funks instead of wallowing in them ... if we would be thankful and not needy ... if we would get out from under our circumstances ... if we would keep our perspective in the right place ... we would so honor God.
Help us, Lord Jesus ... to let go of ourselves and live for You! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

30-day Jesus Day 3: I am of Great Value to God

So much for 30 days of devos ... wow. I've missed, what? 3 days? Ha!

Last night was a rough night.
I found out that the payroll company didn't withhold enough taxes last year, so I owe the government $700. Yeah ... lame.
Well, that's a bummer but not the end of the world.
But it still put me in a funk ... a big one.
"Stupid money" turned into "I don't have $700, nor will I have $700 by Tax Day" ... which turned into "I don't make enough money" ... which turned into "Well, if I'd only passed the Praxis, I'd be a teacher, and I'd be making some money, saving it back, and able to pay this stupid $700 without a problem." And then this one took a turn for the really bad. "I failed the Praxis so many times." "I failed." ...... "I'm a failure." "I am a screw up." "I. Am. Worthless."

Yeah. Big one. I told you.
Oh my gosh. I don't know how the mind does this ... takes something so silly waaayyyy too far!
Oh, man. It was awful. I cried for more than an hour, wallowing in my "worthlessness." ... I was feeling it bad. For a while, I really believed that I was worthless. And in feeling worthless, I felt ashamed for feeling worthless, which made me feel even worse.

I kept thinking over and over again ... what is the deal? Why do I feel this way? Man, this is bad. But I discovered something about myself ... something I don't like. The core of any of my "depths of despair" days is believing lies from Satan. I know it is a lie, but far too often, I fall for it. On a fairly regular basis, I believe that I am worthless. I think that is the root of my insecurities ... I believe that I am a screw up, a failure, a worthless person.

Can you believe that? I'm having trouble believing it ... 'cause I'm a child of God. I AM VALUABLE TO HIM!!! And of GREAT value, at that! So how can I believe that I am worthless ... that I'm not enough? .... Somehow, I have based my value on my own performance. And I guess that doesn't seem too far-fetched ... perhaps a lot of people do it ... but me? How could it be me? I'm supposed to have it together? ... Ha! See!!!! Oh my gosh!

Ya see ... I have tricked myself into thinking that I SHOULD be perfect ... that I CAN be! What??? .... Only Jesus is perfect. So what is my problem? My problem is I'm listening to the Devil's lies ... I'm believing them. I'm believing them. And believing the lies has been holding me in a state of fear. Fear of messing up ... fear of disappointing someone ... fear of not reaching my own standards. It's totally ridiculous.

... So after my crazy pity party, I finally grabbed my devotional book and my Bible. And guess what my next chapter was about? Living in the Miracle of WHO I AM!!!" ... And here is the prayer that came out of it ....

"Lord, here I am wallowing in my despair, feeling more worthless than perhaps I've ever felt ... feeling like a failure ... why me? And you bring this devotion to me. You remind me that you made me on purpose, that you have a plan for me, that you are God. How easily I lose your perspective! Oh, Jesus, I need your help. Please keep me from feeling worthless. Remind me that you CHOSE me, you've CALLED me, and you LOVE me. Please continue showing me what to do. Give me clear direction, and give me a peace that passes all understanding. Keep me, Lord. Sustain me. I need you. And please, God, be glorified in my life."

So it's gonna be a process ... coming out of fear and despair and feelings of failure often take a while. But I'm gonna work at not believing Satan's lies and work at seeing myself the way God sees me. ... Hey, there's that eternal perspective again! Man, it is a difficult thing to learn and around every corner!

I am of great value to God.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

30-day Jesus Day 2: Freedom

Day 2 ... rock it!!! :)

On Monday nights, I hang out with a handful of my teenagers at Senior High Bible Study. I've raved about how great Andy is doing with it before ... and he really is doing an incredible job! This past Monday night, we took a look at Galatians chapter 5 and thought on the concept of "freedom." It was a great discussion, and everyone gleaned some great stuff from the passage.

Tonight, I took a look at this passage again for my devotions. I want to share my thoughts about Galatians 5 with you ...
Andy's question for us: "What does Galatians 5 tell us about freedom, about ourselves, about Christ, and about Christians?"

~ FREEDOM: It's not easy! The only way to truly live in freedom is to submit to God. Only when we give up our own desires, can we really walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).
~ OURSELVES (ME): We shouldn't get too caught up in rules; but instead, we should share, live, and be faith to a world that hurts in effort to please God (Galatians 5:6). When we walk in freedom, good things come out of our lives - the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
~ CHRIST: Only He can free us from our sin (Galatians 5:1).
~ CHRISTIANS: We can't think that freedom means we can do anything we want, and so, sin. No! We must use our freedom (otherwise known as our ability to overcome sin) to serve others and honor God in all we do (Galatians 5:13).

Good stuff, isn't it??? I pulled all of these ideas out of our Bible study on Monday. Wow! Thank you, Lord, for our FREEDOM!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

30-day Jesus Day 1: A New Attitude

The Faith Dare: Day 16
A New Attitude

I think it was sometime over the summer that I started this book, The Faith Dare. Sheesh. That's ridiculous, isn't it? I'm only have way through the book, and it's stinkin' February!!! Ha! That's so Mical. ... The Faith Dare is a great devotional book that I've worked through from time to time. I'm pretty A.D.D., so I can't stick with one thing for too long. But Day 16 of this book is my Day 1 of my Jesus journey.

A new attitude ... about trials.
Did you know that our trials are yet another area of our lives in which we need to have an eternal perspective? Yes, in our difficult times, we need to see God's bigger picture. He's always at work. Aren't you glad? And there are (at least) three reasons to see trials in light of eternity.

#1 - God preserves and fulfills us through trials.
For proof, check out Psalm 138 and specifically verse 8 ... "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands."
#2 - God conforms us to His image through trials.
Romans 8:28-29 ... "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers."
#3 - God disciplines us (allows us to go through trials) to make us holy.
Read Hebrews 12:1-11 for this one and specifically verse 10 ... "For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness."

James 1:2-4
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Whenever life is hard, God has a plan. I will look to God and count each circumstance a gift.
- Debbie Alsdorf ... The Faith Dare

Thursday, February 10, 2011

30-day Jesus :)

It seems like everyone and their second cousin is starting a blog project, so why not me?

Tomorrow starts a 30-day journey into getting my relationship with Jesus back!!! I thought I'd blog about it to keep me accountable. :) I need to get back into the habit of spending quality time with Jesus every single day. This is shameful ... but it's been almost a year since I was consistent in my prayer and devotions (everyday consistent, that is). Boo. That is awful. So I'm gonna try to get back to my Jesus times.

It's called "30-day Jesus" ... and it starts tomorrow A.M. :)