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? :)