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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bread Recipe

I know this is not my normal blog style, but I have the most delightful, and easy recipe to share. I couldn't keep it to myself!
A few weeks ago, I spent the afternoon at the home of one of my friends. She is a true domestic goddess. I just love her. Crystal made the most delightful homemade bread. I attempted to make it this week, and it really is easy! So, I will share it with yall!
Ingredients:
-3 cups of warm water
-1.5 tsp of yeast
-1 tsp of salt
-6.5 cups of flour
Directions:
-preheat oven to 450 degrees
-pour ingredients (only half the flour) into a standing mixer
-using a dough hook, mix on medium
-gradually, add the remaining flour
-once fully mixed, knead dough
-let dough rise (double in size) in a covered bowl for 2 hours
-after risen, form dough into loaves (round, Italian, etc.)
-let rise an additional 20 minutes
-place on cookie sheet
-cut slits on top of loaves
-bake at 450 for 20 minutes
-rub butter on top as soon as they come out of the oven
-serve right away!
Because there is no preservatives, or extra ingredients, this bread is best if eaten within a few days of making.
You could add different mixins to make flavored bread. Chocolate chip? Cheese? Spices and herbs? Honey? The possibilities are endless.
Enjoy a slice of fresh, hot bread, and stay warm this wintry weekend!
Love, M

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Eve Eve

It has been quite the busy few days.
Presents are wrapped. Shopping is finished. Groceries are purchased. Plans are made.
It's time.
This weekend, I have celebrated Christmas with my best friend and her babes, with my other best friend, some family, both of my church families, and then my roommate. Christmas is such a fun time to gather those you love close. Tomorrow will include time well spent with my second family, my mini best friend, church, and more family. I love it. It really is one of my favorite attributes of Christmas, just stopping everything, and seeing everyone.
I am over the moon excited. One of my dearest friends is flying home right now from Tokyo. Please be praying with me for a safe and smooth flight for him. 13 hours on a plane is a long time!!
I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. I can't wait to share life with them these next few weeks. What a lucky girl I am, to have so many people to love.
Cherish your loved ones extra as you spend time together this Christmas week.
Remember Jesus in the hustle and bustle.
And be praying for opportunities to share Jesus. I know a few somethings in my life that are brewing...can't wait to share my stories!
Merry Christmas Eve Eve. :)
Love, M :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday!

I write this in shock. How has it been a year already?!?! Life is flying by! It has been one year since I wrote this first blog. I never intended on actually writing much. I never planned on people reading this. I just kinda did it on a whim.

Well, 365 days, 4671 views, and numerous countries later, here we are.

It has been a wild ride. I am blown away at all that has transpired over the past year.

So, bear with me, since I am celebrating, I want to share my top 12 moments of 2012 with you, so this is going to be a long one!

One.
Bolivia.
What an adventure. I went all alone, to the farthest I have been away, for the longest time I have been away, to serve people I had no clue about. I lived in Cochabamba, Bolivia for six weeks. I fell in love with the culture, with the people, and the country. I went to work with orphans, and I did, but I fell in love with kids on the street. My heart broke for them. I then know that I want to be in fulltime missions, loving people that have often been forgotten about. I long for the day to be in South America again.






Two.
Andrew.
I nanny fulltime, when I'm not out saving the world. :) The family I nanny for has a little girl who is my absolute best friend. I love her more than I have ever loved a person. She had a little brother born earlier this year. I was nervous, could I love him too? Well, without a doubt, he has my heart. He is the reason I love early mornings, because we get to cuddle. These precious babes are everything to me, and have enhanced my life like I never thought possible.



Three.
Karen.
Karen is the little girl I sponsor through Compassion International. She lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and I was able to meet her, and spend a day with her this spring. She is a delightful little girl. She just turned 6 this fall. She is full of life and energy. I was able to supply some basic needs for the family, and share Christ's love with them. It may be the best day of my life.


Four.
Nestor.
Many of you know the story of Nestor. I know this, because I run into you everywhere, and you ask about him, or tell me you are still praying for him. This little baby boy with a broken heart became my baby boy. I fell in love with him, and through him, God helped heal my broken heart. Nestor is in Cochabamba, at a Nutrition Center.



Five.
The Wedding. 
One of my very best girlfriends got married this summer. We met in high school at church summer camp. We only lived in the same state for a year or so, but we became lifelong friends. She now lives in Louisville, and we rarely see each other, but this summer, I flew down twice to spend time with her, and prepare for the wedding. It was so much fun! I love the man she married. He is a good man that loves Jesus, and loves her. It was such a sweet wedding.




Six.
Clarkston.
While living in Bolivia, I began praying to move closer to work, family, friends, and church. I also prayed for a specific amount for rent. Within days of me being back home, doors opened up, and I now live in the most darling area with the sweetest downtown, and to the penny, I pay what I prayed for.




Seven.
Live Live Church.
This fall, I was asked to come on staff at a small church, as their children's director. After praying, and seeking counsel, I took the position. After 20 years of wanting to be in ministry, a door opened up where I am now paid to do part time ministry, loving kids. Its mind blowing how good God is.


Eight.
The Oakland Press.
Earlier this fall, The Oakland Press added this blog, my nonsensical writings to their list of blogs on their website. I was amazed at how this girl, who is not a writer, is now writing, and more people are reading. I get to share His faithfulness, and how Jesus is changing my life with people I don't even know.



Nine.
Pontiac.
I have begun to fall in love with the city of Pontiac. Perhaps because it is broken, I am drawn to it. But I have met the most wonderful people by just loving them, and feeding them on the weekends. They need a real Savior just as much as someone in another country. But while God has me here, I want to love here. So, I try.



Ten.
Chicago.
On the first day of autumn, one of my best friends and I flew to Chicago. We flew in at 8 that morning, and flew out at 8 that night. We had no plans, no agendas, no expectations. We just spontaneously went. It was the most beautiful day. We rode the ferris wheel, we ate a hot dog from a street cart, we shared Jesus over a cup of coffee to a man, we just lived life to the fullest.




Eleven.
Random friends.
This year was a year filled with amazing friends. People I had just met, or relationships 20 years old were flourishig into friendships. I havefriends in almost 20 states, and multiple countries around the world now. I have become very good friends with the strangest group of people. People that don't dress like I do, talk like I do, or even believe like I do. I am honored to have the friends I have. I never thought one of my best friends would be gay, or another friend would have never before stepped inside a church. But Jesus has given me new eyes this year, to really love like He loves. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love these people with everything in me. I am so blessed they allow this crazy girl to be apart of their lives.








Twelve.
He is real.
Over the course of a few events earlier this year, I realized how real our God is. He revealed Himself in ways that blows my mind. He is faithful. He is close to the broken hearted. He is the one that comforts my soul. He is my best friend. He is real. He is more than just Sunday morning church. He loves me more than I could ever begin to comprehend. I have His favor. I am His beloved. He doesn't change. He is always good. He alone conquered sin, hell, death, the grave, and Satan himself. He brings joy in the sadness. He brings peace. I have purpose, only because of Him.




So, if you actually made it this far, thank you. I know that was a lot to read. My heart rejoices, after being reminded of such a special year. I wait eagerly to see what is coming up in the next year. I know its going to be big!

Thanks for supporting me by reading!

Have a great day!

Love, M :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Life is crazy.

Christmas is next week. Oh my.
I still have....
Presents to buy. Presents to wrap. Desserts to bake. Parties to attend. Friends to see. Clothes to wash. Cards to mail. Rooms to clean. Errands to run. Shopping to do. Bills to pay. Things to find. Items to return. Gifts to make. Play dates to schedule. Phone calls to make. Dishes to wash. Nails to paint. Hair to cut.
Does the list ever end?
I didn't think the holidays were getting to me, until I lost my mind a lil bit this weekend.
I found the cutest idea to make Christmas presents for friends, and package them in mason jars. (Check back after Christmas for a tutorial!) So, I made my list, and went off to the store. I checked out, paid, and went to the car. Only to realize minutes later, I forgot to buy the mason jars. So, I drove around the parking lot, to rush back in and buy the jars. I then came home, and realized the jars were much too big for the project I needed them for. So, I hopped back in my car, drove back up to the store, and bought smaller jars. I came home, exasperated, but ready to craft. I opened the jars, and instantly realized these were too small. So, for the next trip to the store, I brought the two previously purchased cases of jars back to return them. I walked up to the door, only to realize the door was locked. The cashier who had helped me my three previous shopping trips, was now laughing at me, but came to my rescue. She then informed me that the service desk was closed, so I would have to come back in the morning to return the jars. Annoyed, I bought the medium sized jars, and just came home. Thirty six jars, four store trips, and three hours later, my project was finished. I was exhausted.
I told a friend, and she told me I must have too much on my mind with Christmas coming up.
It's true. I'm stressed. I currently don't have enough money or free time to finish what I need to for Christmas. I will have both, but not until the end of the week. I have something planned almost every second of the next two weeks. I am losing my mind. How is it all going to get done?
I know I'm not the only one. This is life in America, especially during the holidays.
The point of Christmas is not to buy the perfect gift, to make the most delightful dessert, to be at every party you're invited to, or even to spend time with family.
It's all about Jesus.
In the hustle and bustle of this weekend, I forgot that. I became overwhelmed with life, because I took my eyes off of Jesus. I got caught up in what Christmas isn't about, and forgot who it is about.
He wants us to rest in Him. He wants us to remember what He did for us.
Being stressed, airheaded, and mean doesn't bring Him any glory.
So, I challenge you this week, daily take time to spend with Him. Sit at His feet. Soak up His words. Leave the phone and the list. Focus on Him. He is the only reason for the season.
Who knows, maybe spending quality time with Him will help with time management, and stress levels too!
Happy Monday!
Love, M :)

Just a reminder.

I was reading in Psalms this morning, and wanted to share a couple gems I read.
Psalm 47:8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.
Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Psalm 49:5 Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me-
Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Join me in praying for our nation. Pray for healing, peace, and comfort that only Jesus can bring.
Happy Sunday.
Love, M :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prince Charming.

My three year old best friend and I were talking over breakfast earlier this week.
She is a big believer in fairy tales, magic, and Santa. I love it. Spending time with her is great for my imagination. She is the reason I laugh so much. It's wonderful.
Over breakfast, we were discussing what we would ask Santa for this Christmas. She wants a giraffe and a new leotard. I told her I wanted new jeans, a few kitchen gadgets, and my prince charming to show up.
She laughed, and as serious as could be, told me, "Mechelle, you don't need to ask Santa for your prince. You already have one. Jesus is your prince charming."
This mini me of a girl has never heard me talk about men, because there hasn't been any. But she has heard me talk about Jesus as my best friend. She has heard me talk to Him while driving. She has caught me reading His words early with my coffee. In her little three year old mind, it makes sense to her.
Jesus is my Prince Charming.
I have been laughing over it all week. But then I started to think on it. It's kind of true. He thinks I am beautiful. I am His beloved. He values me. He wants to spend time with me. He loves me with an overwhelming and unconditional love. My heart belongs to Him.
So, as I still pray for my manly prince, I rejoice that Jesus is my Prince. He is the Prince of Peace.
Hope that made you laugh. Oh, out of the mouths of babes. :)
Have a great Thursday. Smile a little bit, the weekend is almost here.
Love, M :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oh deer!

Tonight, I had a babysitting job. I got ready, and left the house. It is only three roads to this family's home, nice and close. I was driving and reflecting on a lot.
Driving is the time Jesus and I talk the most. I often have people with me in every aspect of life, but for some reason, its almost always just me driving. So I pray a lot. I hash things out with God. It works.
Tonight was no different. I was driving, when all the sudden I felt the need to slow down and be alert. Every sense in my body perked up. I heard His voice, "Trust Me."
And then, out of no where, a deer appeared. I had never seen a deer on this road. She was huge, but without antlers. She walked up to my car, in the middle of the road, as I was driving, inches away from me. It was one of the most bizarre moments. I hit my brakes, grateful no one was directly behind me. I couldn't believe she was that close, and I didn't hit her.
And then she was gone.
I got to the house and babysat for the night. I went to leave six and a half hours later. I got to my car, and began praising Jesus for keeping me safe driving there.
I got to the same spot in the road, while driving home, and I felt the Holy Spirit say, "look over to the right." So I did, and the deer was standing off a bit, on the side of the road, just staring at me. Once I drove by, she began to run. It was like she was waiting for me. It was bizarre all over again.
Who sees the same deer in the exact same spot, over six hours later? It was weird.
What a reminder that He is in control. I am so thankful I listened to the Spirit, and was aware as I was driving. So thankful that He kept me safe, once again.
Okay. I really need sleep.
If you could be praying for me, I am starting to get sick, and really need to be healthy. No cough, no headache, no stuffyness.
Also, I have a 5k race in the morning, so pray the rain holds off!
Goodnight!
Love, M.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cemetery. Love. Sleep.

I visited the cemetery again today. It was an impulsive visit. With the cemetery being only half a mile from my front door, the thought occasionally passes through my mind, but rarely do I find the courage to go.
I was there for just a moment today. The busyness of the day was catching up with me, but I needed to sneak in a moment of solitude. I wandered over to where she was buried. I sat for just a minute on the cold ground.
This time, instead of being angry at God, and fighting with bitterness bubbling over, I had peace. I rejoiced that Jesus, conquered death, and now our Redeemer lives.
A line from a song became wedged in my mind as I walked back to my car.
"In death, in life, I'm confident and covered by the power of your great love."
I focused on His love, and its power. It never fails. It is overwhelming. We are so undeserving, yet He gives it freely. It is unconditional. It is ours.
There are so many things I could focus on as I fall asleep tonight. But I will choose to drift into dreams reflecting on His love for me. What a sweet way to end the day.
More tales to come. But for now, rest in His love.
Goodnight.
Love, M.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh coffee.

The month of December I have decided to be more focused on listening to the Holy Spirit, and obeying.
This week I have been doing strange things. Tonight was no an exception.
I took my freshmen girls out for coffee today. It was a riot. Seven freshmen girls anywhere leaves trails of giggles. I love it. I love spending time with my girls. I was so excited knowing I wasn't working today, so we could make early plans.
My girls all lined up and ordered their coffee. I was in the back of the line, waiting to pay for all their drinks. I was praying silently, thanking God for letting me have sweet time with them, when I heard Him. That quiet whisper in my heart was getting louder the more intently I have been listening.
He told me I needed to buy the lady's coffee behind me. My first reaction was not obedience. I thought, I am already buying eight drinks, really Lord, you want me to buy another?  Then my second reaction was, it would be weird, all of my girls would see me, it might be awkward.
And then I obeyed.
The barista asked me if that was all, and I quickly blurted out I was buying the lady's drink behind me too. I began praying it was a lady behind me. I hadn't even looked to check. Shaking, I turned around, and there she was. Oh praise Jesus. I didn't just insult a man.
The woman told me I didn't have to, but I insisted. By now everyone is watching the awkwardness unfold. Why can't I be cool, calm, and collected in social settings?? She ordered, and I paid. She looked and me curiously and told me normal people don't buy stranger's coffee. Why would I do such a thing... Oh goodness, I have to talk, I wasn't in the mood, and I suddenly felt myself get nervous.
I turned to her, with the whole store listening to the loud thump of my embarrassed heartbeat, and told her the truth. "I was just praying, and God told me to buy your coffee. I just wanted to bless you." The cashier was slightly baffled. She said one time a girl came in and paid for someone's coffee, trying to pay it forward, but it was a rare occurrence. I then looked to both of them and explained, "I'm not paying it forward. I'm just being obedient. I just want to follow Jesus."
Oh the looks that followed...
Yup, I'm crazy. It's official. I buy stranger's coffee, and pray in line, and then talk about Jesus to everyone, while having brought two cars full of giggling high school girls.
I don't tell this story for any one to think I've got this down. I don't. I'm just really trying to obey Jesus. I'm a mess most of the time.
I was thinking about it later. None of my girls, and no one in the store would've known if I would've ignored the Holy Spirit. But only because I obeyed, did it open the door to share Jesus. I think I also was an example to my girls. It certainly sparked some conversation once we sat down.
I want them to know how to have a genuine faith. I want them to know how to have more than Sunday morning church time. It can be the most amazing thing of their lives. So, I attempt daily obedience, praying they see a real God through this simple, slightly crazed girl.
Goodnight!
Love, M. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Where He leads, I will follow.

There a few things I know for certain.
1. Everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
2. God values obedience. He says to obey is better than sacrifice. (1Samuel 15:22)
3. The more you listen, the easier it is to hear someone's voice.
It is easy to ignore the Holy Spirit's voice in your life. He doesn't scream or flash lights, at least for me. His voice is a quiet whisper in my heart. It tells me what is right and wrong, it reminds me of verses from God's Word, and it prompts me to do things. The more I am in tune with His voice, the easier it is to say yes, and obey. The more often I obey, the clearer His voice becomes, and the easier it becomes.
So, let me share my personal challenge to myself this month.
I decided to say practice saying "yes" this month. This December, I want to follow where He leads. When He tells me to do something, however uncomfortable, awkward, or strange it is, I want to say yes. I do not want to think it out, tell God maybe, or ignore it. I want to be obedient.
So, I started this challenge to myself a couple days ago. I have done some strange things since then. At midnight, He woke me up, and told me to start praying for someone. So I did. He told me to encourage someone else. So I did. He told me to stop by the store and grab vitamins for a sick friend. So I did.
Know what's crazy? Those people that God put on my heart to pray for, encourage, or serve needed that, in that exact moment. Nothing I could've ever set up or planned. God is meeting needs through His obedient children. It boggles my mind when someone tells me they were praying for something so specific, and next thing they know it is in their hands. They ask, how could you know? I didnt, but God did, and He is good. I just want to be obedient.
And the coolest thing is that when we are obedient, it just points back to Jesus. Isn't that how we should strive to live our lives anyway?
So, if you're with me, here's the challenge. Say yes. Be open for God to use you. Get out of your comfort zone. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in all that you do.
It's going to be a great month.
Love, M :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What a night!

Tonight I went to a fundraiser event for an awesome organization, key of hope. Twenty something women from my church are going to South Africa in July to love people, and be Jesus in a broken land. I enjoyed going and hearing of what God is doing there now though His obedient people. My heart leapt for joy as I learned more of the adventure ahead for these women.

I hadn't planned on going tonight. Originally, I didn't really want to. I have a few days off of work, and I wanted to relax, and spend time alone. But I felt a tugging on my heart to go, and so I went.
I was so blessed beyond words.

Five separate people came up to me, and shared that they read my blog. I laughed. They read this? This string of jumbled words from a nobody of a girl? Well that didn't make sense. Apparently, not only did they read it, but they knew my stories.

They prayed for baby Nestor, they read of God's faithfulness, they watched the Healer fix this girl's broken heart. It blew me away.

A little while later, a woman came up to me and encouraged me about being single. She was in my small group. I had recently spoke out about the pressure in the church world to be married young, and how it feels like we are inadequate to serve in ministry without a husband. Being content while being 25 and single is hard sometimes. She encouraged me to wait on His timing and find joy in Christ alone. She also thought my hair was cute, which made me laugh because it was so dirty!

I was also blessed to spend most of the evening cuddling and sneaking desserts to my niece. She is my best friend's daughter, and one of the few absolute loves of my life. I prayed for her years before she was here, and tonight she said my name for the first time. (She just calls me "M".)

Big tears welled up in my eyes, as I reflected on how faithful God really is.

There was a silent auction, and a life auction tonight. I bid on a cute, homemade, yellow quilt, and my bid won! I love knowing my money is going to share the name of Jesus, and I got a cozy quilt to cuddle up with.

A few times tonight I shared stories of how amazing this year has been. (Check back soon for 'M's top 12 moments of 2012')  And I became so excited thinking of stories that I can't tell quite yet, because they have not come to frutation yet, but believing they will. Things are happening, big things! My heart was reminded of how I want to go and serve, but for now we wait and serve.

I had a conversation with a dear friend tonight. We both want to be in other countries serving there. We don't want to be here. But God has us in the places we are for a reason, and we trust He is faithful, and ALL things work together for good for them that love Him, and are called according to His purposes.

God knew I needed a sweet night, full of refreshment. What a perfect way to start vacation week! :)

If you would like to support any of the women going to South Africa, please let me know. $2,500 is due by the middle of January, with more to raise in the following months. If you cannot give, please be in prayer for peace for these girls as they raise money, and for God to move mountains on their behalf.

Our God doesn't change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same God that used five loaves of bread, and two fish to feed 5,000+ people is still doing miracles today. I cannot wait to hear the stories of God doing big things. :)
\
Have a great day!

Love, M :)

email me at : michelletobolivia@gmail.com

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Super Strength

Do you ever have those moments of super strength? Not quite the pick up cars and save people strength. I'm talking about a moment when you are so strong it doesn't even make sense. A moment when emotionally you are somehow put together so beautifully that you can carry other's burdens, even if only for that moment.
I had a super strength night.
My best friend from high school's  family feels like my own. I call her grandparents, grandparents. Her parents are mom and dad to me. I am often referred to as the second daughter. We have been apart of each other's lives for over ten years.
Earlier this week my friend's uncle passed away. It was very unexpected. It has been a rough week for more people I love.
My first thought when I heard, was you have got to be kidding me Lord! I just did this. The whole funeral mess, and people I love being heartbroken. Seriously?!? We're doing this again??
So, I prayed for strength.
My friend's mom called me yesterday and asked me to make cookies for the family to snack on during the funeral home time. If you know me, you know there are very few things that make my heart as happy as baking for someone I love. So, I baked. I then drove over to her house to drop them off. It was already late, and I should've been in bed, but I knew I needed to be there. So mom and talked, and talked until one in the morning. It was good for both of us to chat. I told her stories of God's faithfulness that I hadn't really shared with anyone before. I shared in different areas how He is working. It was good.
I got four hours of sleep before the alarm went off for work. But even at work today, He gave me rest. It was so weird, but so wonderful. I wasn't too tired. I wasn't cranky. I wasn't overwhelmed. I was resting in Him.
I went up to the funeral home tonight. Dreading going, but knowing He had to be my strength.
He was.
I was able to hold, hug, and comfort the broken. Mama Michelle snapped into mode, and I made sure everyone was hydrated. I helped get paperwork done. I chatted with people I had never met. I shared about the hope we have in Jesus. I talked with the funeral director for a while. It was so bizarre. I had strength.
Someone had approached me because they had recognized me. I didn't know from where, they didn't look familiar. Then they realized, it was from Ariel's funeral. I even had strength to share stories about her. I didn't want to, but I did. And there was healing in that.
I don't feel overwhelmed. I feel His strength and His power.
The funeral is tomorrow. Please be praying for the family. Pray for peace, rest, and healing. Pray that the gospel is preached, and hearts are ready to hear it. Pray that people turn to Jesus. Pray for me to continue to be strength for these people I love.
Goodnight.
Love, M.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Death does not discriminate.

I heard the story the other day about a lady. She went to my church. She was not well known, and kept to herself. A man saw her walking her dog one day. He recognized her, but didn't wave. He saw her again later that week, but didn't think much of it. The next week he curiously drove by a home with multiple emergency response vehicles, and police. He then saw her picture in the paper the next morning. She had died.
Death seems to be looming around the people I love lately. It's in the news, on Facebook, hurting my friends and my family. The past few months it seems like every other day is peppered with some tragedy.
In this, I am learning some things.
Death does not discriminate. It doesn't care if you are old or young, if you are happy or sad, if you have people who love you or are all alone, if you can pay your bills or you can't. It doesn't matter. It takes who it wishes when it pleases.
Life really is precious. Living your days intentionally is the best way to live. Be bold. Take adventures. Live life to the fullest.
Be kind. Wave at someone. Share a smile. Tell people you love them. Be patient. You never know when it will be their last day, or your last day. You also don't know what they are really going through.
Believe Jesus is everything He said He is. He really is. He really did conquer death, hell, sin, Satan, and the grave. He really is preparing a place for those who confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts that He is Lord. Believe that He is healer, comforter, Father, peace, and friend. Believe His love is so overwhelming, we can never begin to understand.
Share hope. Don't keep Jesus to yourselves. We will never have the ability to know when someone may die. The time is now. Be bold. There isn't a second chance after the last breath. You are not responsible for someone's salvation, you are only responsible to share. God is the One who works in hearts.
Be praying for my best friend's as they deal with the sudden loss of a good man.
Have a wonderful night.
Love, M.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Proud Mama.

Wednesday night I have a small group Bible study with a handful of high school freshmen girls. I am pretty in love with them. Even after working long days, and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, these girls bring joy to my heart. They are the reason I look forward to Wednesdays.
A few of my girls spent their Thanksgiving break, last week, in Haiti, loving people.
I couldn't wait to hear of the adventures, the stories, the people, and the real God who went before them.
My girls told me about a church they visited. On Sundays they had two and a half hour long services. It included worship, preaching, and 'normal' church affairs. Later in the week they had a service that was only worship. Just songs sung in adoration of our God. My girls lit up as they told me they couldn't understand what was being sung, because it was all in another language, but they could tell in their hearts because of the passion in which they sang. They told how they sang along in English, and worshiped the same God. What a beautiful picture of heaven. Different tribes, tongues, and nations praising Jesus together. 
Ah. My heart rejoiced as they spoke.
They shared the stories of poverty and how these people had nothing, but had everything because they had a real God. Their joy was contagious. It was so apparent that He really was their everything. Material things do not make someone rich, its only finding joy in Jesus.
They shared how God seemed so real. How they really 'got it'. They want to go back. They want to love more people.
My heart wanted to explode.
I'm not a real parent, but I know as one, you want the best for your children, you want them to know a real God. These girls are my girls. So, I, a proud mama, beamed with joy as tales of a real God, His faithfulness, and adventures with Him poured out. Things I know to be true my girls are really learning.
So, I rejoice that our God is real. He desires for us to take adventures. He wants our hearts to break for the things that break His. We are never too old, too young, to overqualified, or too underqualified for Him to use us. It's incredible.
Going to bed proud of my girls for giving up their break to go on an adventure with a real God.
Goodnight!
Love, M.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Love.

Love is something I thought I was good at. I love everyone. Nothing really upsets my love. Hmmm. I was wrong. The past few days the Holy Spirit and the Bible have been teaching me truths about love, and where I am falling short.
Here in 1 Corinthians 13 is a snap shot of what it really means to love. People think this a beautiful scripture for weddings, but the truth is that its good for everyday, for everyone, and for everywhere.
(I am using the message version today, because it helped me a lot this week.)
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first",
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
The one I have really been focused on is, love doesn't keep score...
Wow. That's been a game changed to really remember that.
Which one sticks out to you? Why?
Have a great Sunday. Stay safe on the wintry roads!
Love, M

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am thankful for my parents.

This week as our country celebrates Thanksgiving, my family celebrates a couple other big things.
Friday is my parent's 28th wedding anniversary. Friday is also my 25th birthday.
I am so blessed to have parents who are so committed to each other, to their marriage, and to their God. It is a joy to have parents that still love each other, and enjoy being together. As I am growing up, I realize how rare that is. They are incredible examples of how to have a good, godly marriage.
I had a couple people tell me on different occasions in the past week that God knew what He was doing when He gave them to me. It's true. People have said they wouldn't know what to do with me as their daughter. I have too much adventure in my blood. They wouldn't be able to handle me doing what I do. But my parents can. I know they don't always love my heart for Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, or South America, but they trust in a real God to take care of me. I know every day growing up I have been prayed for. I can only imagine the prayers were more fervent and frequent when I went to South America, alone. I can share my struggles and victories with them. They are my biggest cheerleaders. They encourage me to dream big, and trust God. They are so incredible.
Twenty eight years ago, my dad told my mom that he wanted to wait three years after getting married to have kids. So, God blessed them with a tiny baby girl on their third anniversary. Isn't He good?
So, as family starts to trickle in from out of town, and the stress for many builds, I rejoice in my blessings of family. Knowing that they are exactly who I needed, and only our God could've known that.
Happy day before Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful. Rejoice in your family, whoever they are, even if they drive you bonkers, they are who God chose for you. :)
Love, M.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful...

Thanksgiving is almost here. How well have we been doing at being thankful, intentionally?
I won't lie, I started struggling mid month. It is sometimes hard to stop, focus on being thankful, and do something about it. I have felt too busy, too tired, too cranky, too caught up in me, to be thankful.
Being thankful forces a change of mindset. No longer is the focus on self, but it is on others, and the many blessings we have.
I have heard so many tragic stories in the last couple months. The circumstances and people were different, but the final sentence in their stories is, they died.
I have talked with one of my closest friends about what would happen if something happened to us. We are women, so our nature is to worry.
If we would focus on the many things we have been blessed with, and really enjoy them, worry would begin to dissolve.
I have really tried to be intentional with enjoying moments. Soaking them in. Spending time with people, and putting the phone down. Telling people how much I appreciate them. Relaxing more. Doing things I really enjoy. Reminding myself, the dishes will still be there later tonight. Going out of my way to genuinely compliment someone. Not being stressed by the little things. Trying to be fearless. Loving the unlovable. Taking chances. Having adventures. And being thankful to the One who allows it to be.
Live everyday to the fullest. Be grateful. Be an enjoyable person to be around. It leads to a satisfying life, however short or long it may be.
Happy Tuesday. 
Be kind. Be thankful. Be intentional.
Love, M.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking back...

This weekend, four years ago, I was dumped in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Fenton, MI.

Kind of weird memory, I know.

Tonight I drove by that parking lot,and I thought of the past four years.

I was suddenly very reflective. I rejoiced in my singleness, and all the things I have done, the places I have visited, and the people I have loved. I rejoiced knowing that His plan is better than any plan I could create myself.

I laughed at how much I had grown in the last four years. All of the adventures and misadeventures that had created the woman I am today. The pain, the heartache, the laughter, the embarrassment, the poor choices, the joy, the decisions, the loss, the moving, the new jobs, the old friends, the tears, the pots of coffee, the late nights, the love, the discovering, the faith, the haircuts, the new hobbies, the good choices, the many conversations, the serving, the miles, the stress, and the dreams.

They have all led me here.

Here.

Days before my 25th birthday.

What is next? What adventures will be in the next year? Will I be able to look back, and rejoice? Will I be proud of the woman I became? Will I look back and see even in the rough patches that Jesus shone through? I hope so!

So, here's to 25, and the next year of hopefully REALLY BIG things!

Praying for some huge things! :) Pray with me?

Have a great Monday!

Love, M

Sunday, November 11, 2012

He is here.

This has become one of my favorite songs the past few weeks.
Kari Jobe -Here
Come and rest here
Come and lay your burdens down Come and rest here
There is refuge for you now
You'll find His peace
And know you're not alone anymore He is near
You'll find His healing
You're heart isn't shattered anymore He is here
Breathe in
Breathe out
You will You will find Him here
I will rest in You
You will find Him
You will find Him here
You will find Him
You will find Him here

I went to the cemetery.

I am starting to feel like Michelle again. The cranky, weepy, jerk of a girl who has taken my body captive the past month is starting to move out. This weekend I felt like me. The dancing in the car, smiling at everyone, dork of a girl is coming out of hiding. I am beginning to let go of bitterness and anger. I'm becoming me, again.
I visited the cemetery today.
I was driving home, windows down, music up, hand dancing in the wind, and hair blowing everywhere. I started to realize, He's doing it. Ever so carefully, He is healing me, He is using me, He is restoring me.
I pulled into the cemetery. I didn't know if I could do it. If I could be here, and be okay. I wandered around for a few minutes. The last time I was here, the trees still had their leaves. I couldn't find where she was buried. But then I did. I plopped down on the ground. Sitting in the dirt and grass in a dress is not the most lady like thing to do, but for once I didn't care.
Short sleeves, with no jacket in November. What was I thinking? And then the breeze started. I wasn't cold, I was surprisingly warm, but was covered in goose bumps. Then I heard Him. He whispered in the deepest part of my heart, that only He can be. He told me, "I've got you, girl. You are my beloved."
Maybe those words don't do much for you, but for me, sitting at the grave of a girl whom I loved, weeping and mourning, and trying to do life, they meant something.
They meant so much. He loves me. In an overwhelming love. He wants to heal my heart. He wants to see me smile. He desires to use me. He wants to hold me in His arms. I am His girl. His girl. I am His. He is mine.
A breeze blew so fiercely in that moment, it took my breath away for a second. I could feel Him. He was here. My Jesus did not forget about me, or leave me to figure out life alone. He is here.
I heard Him for the first time in four weeks. I felt Him with every bit of me.
He alone is the one that brings hope. He conquered sin, death, hell, the grave, and Satan himself.
What Satan has been trying to use for his own pleasure, God is using for His good. He alone is sovereign. He alone is good.
So, I continue to sort through life. I trust that He really is sovereign. He is working all things for good, because I love Him. I really just want to honor Him. I want my life to point to Jesus, even on the roughest days.
Last time I was here, I picked up a leaf from near where she was going to buried. I stuck it in my Bible to press it. The colors are still bright, its beautiful. It is a reminder that He did conquer the grave. There is beauty in death, only because of Jesus. Today, I took a crinkly, brown, dead leaf. Even in death, when all hope seems lost, He brings hope, and joy.
Have a great night.
Love, M.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

distant and honest

Wednesday nights I sit around a table with a few freshmen girls. I love our time together. It is one of the highlights of my week. We open the Word together, we have laughed, we have cried, and we tell stories.
Most of the girls in my group are church kids. They have grown up in church, and their beliefs are the same as their parents. They know the right answers, how to act, and what not to say. I have been trying to challenge them to be real, genuine, and honest.
This past Wednesday we were talking about Jesus is to us personally. On our papers there was a list of words to circle. Friend, Lord, Savior, Forgiver, Healer, Distant, Judge, Absent, Uncaring, Unreachable, Guider, Father, Protector, Not Real, Life. I asked the girls if anyone wanted to share what they circled. One girl told me they all had circled the good things, no one had circled the bad things like distant or absent. They all agreed. They gave me the "right" answer.
So, I showed them my paper. Along with circling friend, healer, life, etc, I circled distant. It was honest. In this season of life, Jesus feels distant.
They were shocked. One girls asked how someone so godly and spiritual as me could feel that way.
I think in the church world, we don't know how to be honest anymore. We don't want someone to know we are broken, we are hurting, we are angry with God, we struggle reading the Bible, or that He feels distant. Everything is fine, always. We put on the face of a perfect Christian, and we forget that there is no such thing. We are all people. We mess up, we get hurt, we are broken. The only thing that makes us a Christian is that we have Jesus. Being a Christian does not mean life is in order.
Being honest means having an incredible support system. I have been so blessed by people, prayers, and texts this past week. Being honest means having accountability. As much as I hate the vulnerability of everyone knowing I feel broken, I have loved people praying for me. I love people knowing that I do not have everything together. I'm just a real girl, with real problems, and a real Savior.
So, I press on. Life is messy, but God is in control. My heart is broken, but He is healer. My emotions are everywhere, but He is constant, always. Life is ugly, but He is good.
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
James 4:8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.
I know He may feel distant in this moment, but He's there.
Love, M

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jesus is still King.

Politics make people act crazy.
Please be aware and remember that whoever is president of our great nation will fail us. For he is a man, and he is a politician. If we put our faith and hope in him, we will be let down.
So, remember that whatever happens, Jesus is still King. He is in His throne. He is not unaware of happenings here. He is sovereign. He is good. He is in control. He is in charge.
The Bible specifically talks about how God gives authority to leaders.
Daniel 2:21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
So, regardless of whoever is in power, be of good hope. Jesus is our only hope. He brings freedom. He conquered sin, death, hell, the grave, and Satan. He brings peace. He renews, restores, and refreshes. He came to give us abundant life. We have a home in heaven, only because of Him. He alone is good, and worthy of praise.
Don't get caught up in men's empty promises. Trust in Jesus. His words are tried and true.
Be praying for our nation and its leaders as we face our future.
Get some sleep tonight.
Love, M.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

If you have read my previous blog, (Check it!), you know life is hard in my corner of the world. I hate sharing all the uglies, but people have really encouraged me to share, to show that just because I follow Jesus doesn't mean I have perfect days. Even though I'm Michelle and am almost always happy doesn't mean I'm not broken sometimes. So that's life, that's real, and that's that.
I have been wanting to share some exciting news. So, today, in this moment I will.
Number One! My blog has been picked up by the Oakland Press newspaper. It is on their list of featured blogs on their website. It is such an honor to share not only with people I know, but now also with people I have never met, what God is doing over here. (Check it!)
Number Two! I am now on staff at a small church in Auburn Hills. I am the children's director. I teach toddler and preschool age kiddos about God's Word on Sunday mornings. This job is part time, so I still work my normal full time job, and I still attend and serve at the church I grew up at. Nothing big changed, I just am busy teaching Sunday mornings. I love it. The job really is a gift from God. In September, I was in my car praying, and I asked God for a specific amount of extra money a month. (I am trying to be very diligent about saving for future mission trips.) A day or so later, I was asked out to coffee by a woman I didn't know very well. She told me that she and her husband (the pastor) had been praying for a children's director for their church for months, and that God kept putting me on their hearts. I told her I would consider it, and took the next week praying and seeking godly advice. I took the job, and would you believe that I get paid 4 times the amount I prayed for?!?! It's not a lot of money, but the amount I specifically prayed for for the month is the exact amount I get paid per week. Isn't God good?!
So, in review, God is using this girl in huge ways. I didn't finish college, and yet, I'm writing, and in paid part time ministry. That's our God. Moving mountains, and showing favor.
A few of my favorite verses ring true.
Psalm 22:30b-31 future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it.
Psalm 78:6-7 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they wouldn't turn tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds, but would keep his commands.
Never before have I been in a place accessible to all generations, until now. I am proclaiming His righteousness and faithfulness, to babies, kiddos, high schoolers, peers, older friends, and even grandparents. These verses were written about me.
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realize that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these mad had been with Jesus.
I don't have a degree, I didn't finish school, and still I am being used. It's incredible.
Please continue to pray. There are seasons when life is really hard. I feel like I'm living there. But even in hurt and confusion, I know that God is good. He is in control.
Love, M.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Raw. Ugly. Messy. Real. Transparent.

A couple of friends encouraged me to share what has really been going on in my corner of the world. The only reason I am sharing, is because I want to be transparent. I don't normally talk about my relationships (or lack of) with men, work, or my real feelings. But, I want people to know my life is not always perfect. Lately it is a huge mess. God is still God, and He is still good. But life is hard. It doesn't make sense. I just want to be honest and genuine. I want to show that I'm not super spiritual, I'm just a girl working life out. So here it is....
If you are part of a very select few, you know I'm a mess. You know it has been weeks of nightmares and no sleep. You know I crumble into tears multiple times a day. You know I have multiple zits, when I rarely have one. You know I'm angry at God. You know I'm cranky and bothered by so much lately. You know I keep trying retail therapy. You know the smile on my face often isn't real. You know I am falling apart, but I don't want anyone to know. You know when I drive by the cemetery, my heart drops. You hear me say over and over, "I know this gets better. Right?" You know that I know God is good, but I still wonder what in the world He is doing. You know I can't do math because my brain doesn't work, and I love math.
When Ariel passed away three weeks ago, life fell apart. She wasn't my sister, or daughter, or niece, or best friend, but she was a part of my life. I cannot remember a slumber party growing up without her and both our sisters together. Our families are knit together. We celebrate birthdays together. We are there for the big things, and celebrate the little victories. Our families have been close friends for twenty years. We grew up together. We went to the same school for a few years. We grew up in the same church. We did life together. When I taught at the preschool, she was my assistant in my classroom for a little bit. We shared laughs, cries, and stories. Goodness, we both love to talk and man, we could tell stories. We both shared a love for Jesus in a secular workplace. We were friends.
Three days before her accident, my sister who is also 21 got in a bad car accident. I remember her text message saying she had just been in an accident. I had never called someone so quickly. I begged Jesus to keep her safe. She told me she was okay. Bruised, shook up, and her jeep was a mess, but she was okay. So when a few short days later I received a similar call, I laid flat on the ground screaming and begging God not to take her. But, she was gone. How does this even begin to make sense?
How does a gorgeous, vibrant girl full of life just disappear from us? In just a second, lives changed. I don't understand.
So, In memory and honor of Ariel, her aunt ran a marathon, and some of her family got tattoos. If you know me at all, you know those were no where near the top of my list. So I thought about it, and decided to give blood.
Giving a unit of blood can save three lives. I thought that was a fitting way to honor her. I have only given blood successfully three times before, and tried unsuccessfully probably five times. I have always been an advocate for giving blood, that'a not new, but this time it meant so much more. I made sure I ate properly, I cut out caffeine, attempted proper sleep, and mentally prepared to give blood this week. I had been denied because of high blood pressure, fast heart rate, and low iron, so I really focused on trying to take care of myself. I asked a couple close girlfriends to pray for successful donation. (They thought I was a little goofy for asking for prayer for giving blood, but they prayed.) The whole way there, I prayed, and told God that if this wasn't supposed to work He would have to make it clear, and close the door.
So, I tried. Hemoglobin, heart rate, and blood pressure all passed. I was good. And then we started talking travel. Apparently if you have traveled out of the country in the past twelve months, you can't donate. Well, I did live in South America for two months this year. The sweet nurse told me because of a new rule (March 2012) about malaria, I probably wouldn't be able to donate. My heart dropped. I told her I lived in Bolivia, she told me I was denied. She then realized there was a very short list of cities in Bolivia that were malaria free. Cochabamba was on the good list. My heart was so happy. But then I realized I had made a lay over in Santa Cruz, so once and for all, I was denied. I can't give blood until April 1, 2013. I was so disappointed. This is how I wanted to honor Ariel. And now I couldn't. I was so bummed. Why couldn't this have worked out? It was not in my control. Nothing I could've changed it.
I failed. With everything in, I felt like a failure. I was disappointed in myself. Nothing I have been doing lately has been working out the way I want. I know I couldn't have changed it, but I hated myself for not being able to change it. I hate feeling like a failure. That's not me.
So, cranky, cold, and angry, I drove home. I made some cookies, and loved on some people in Pontiac. Loving people distracted me for a bit. My roommate and I then put up our Christmas tree, where I got offended at the dumbest things. I was cranky and stubborn and wanted to cry over everything and nothing in the same moment. I went to church tonight. I have been hating going to church the past month. I normally love church. Singing worship songs brings me to an ugly, silent cry, in a room full of people. Singing that He is faithful doesn't change that people I love as much as my own family are devastated, and life will never be the same. People telling me I need to pray more or read more of the Bible makes me want to punch them in the face.
My life is a mess. I know with everything in me, God is good, He is faithful, He is in control, and He has us in the palm of His hand. Everything I have read and learned about this whole Jesus thing is being sifted through trials of life.
So that's life, in a nutshell.
So, that was perhaps the most honest I have been in a really long time. I have no idea who will read this. Throwing raw, ugly emotions and feelings onto the internet for everyone to read is frightening. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I really do want my life to point to Jesus, even on days like this. So, I share, and I hope that my words make sense to someone, anyone.
Life is raw. It is not always in a neat little package with a pretty bow on top, even though I attempt to wrap it up. It is messy. I am just a girl trying to figure this thing out. So, that's that.
Love, M.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day Two

Today is day two of the "November Be Thankful Challenge". Who joined me yesterday in actively being grateful?
When I got home last night, I was exhausted. I could tell I was cranky, so I went straight to my room. I put pajamas on, and looked for a notebook to start my 'thankful for' list. As I sat down to write, my crankiness began to dissolve. That was a benefit I had no anticipated. It's really hard to be cranky and thankful in the same moment. So, in that moment, I chose to be thankful.
I thought on my day, and realized what a very blessed girl I am. I had planned on writing five things a day, but yesterday I wrote six.
I don't plan on sharing my list every day, but I will today.
Day One.
1. Great dinner prepared by sister.
2. 7th Heaven reruns on demand.
3. Quiet and easy day at work.
4. Dinner invitation to family dinner.
5. Friend's surgery went well.
6. Great friend to vent to.
There ya have it, see how easy it is?
This morning I am so grateful for being in bed by 8:30 last night, and a good night's rest. :)
I would love to hear what you were thankful for yesterday.
Be active in being grateful today. Focus on how you're blessed, and don't forget to let others know how thankful you are of them!
I will be doing a contest coming up. So, check back for that! :)
Happy Friday!
Love, M

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November Challenge

Happy November 1st!
It is my birthday month and of course it is Thanksgiving!
So, to help us all focus on being thankful this month, I have a challenge. For the next thirty days, show gratitude.
Here are some ideas:
-Keep a thankful journal. Every night before bed write down 5 things you are thankful for. Think about the basics (clean water, warm place to sleep, socks, etc.) and the bigger things (someone special to love, a great job, a stranger's smile, etc.)
-Buy thirty thank you cards, and every day, send one to a person. (fire department, pastors, parents, girl at the coffee shop, mail carrier, etc.)
-Think of a few people who have been huge blessings to you, and make thank you baskets. (Include snacks, gift cards, sweet notes, and little thoughtful knick knacks, etc.)
-Whenever you go out anywhere, (coffee, gas station, grocery store, restaurant, etc.) say a sincere thank you with a smile, while making eye contact.
-Include kiddos! Have them draw pictures or bake cookies for local firefighters, or police stations and drop them off together.
-Do random acts of kindness, without expecting a thank you. (Consider the homeless, the broken, the elderly, etc.)
-Look up verses in the Bible about being thankful. (There's quite a few!)
So excited to start this with ya'll! Who's in? Can't wait to hear stories of what you're doing too!
Thank you for reading and supporting me!
Love, M

He is faithful.

There are times in my life where I can actually feel the presence of God. There are times when I know He is faithful, because the mountains keep on moving. I know He is real with everything in me. I talk to Him, and I know He listens.
But then there are these moments in life, where I don't feel it. I am overwhelmed, and I don't see His faithfulness.
This is when faith must step in. If faith is only active when life is beautiful, and God feels near, then it is a weak faith. But if I dig in my heels, and remember that this is just a dry period, and that's okay.
So, what about this slump I'm in? I have realized something in my own life lately, and last night in Bible study realized it all over again. I need to declare His faithfulness. Declaring His faithfulness helps me be faithful. It refocuses me. It reminds me that just last month, He was faithful in huge ways. Which means, He is faithful, today, when I just want to throw in the towel and take a nap, He's still faithful. It helps silence the enemy. When I am praising God, it stops Satan's lies about how God gave up on me. Satan wants more than anything, my faith to falter.
So, bear with me, as I remind myself of His faithfulness. I challenge you to do the same. Because there is beauty in realizing this truth.
God, You are still faithful when: life doesn't make sense, I'm tired, bills need to be paid, I'm in a mood, the power is out, I'm still tired, when death steals what we love, when cars don't start, when friends leave, days are long, no one else is there, I have been praying for something for years and don't see it any closer, people hurt my feelings, there isn't hot water, I feel rejected, I feel awkward, I am overwhelmed, I get sick, I cry all the time, I have been a bridesmaid 7 times, and I don't understand. God, you are always good. You are always faithful. My circumstances and emotions never change who You are, and that You are in control.
Psalm 18:25a To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
Psalm 36:5 Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Psalm 89:1 I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
Psalm 89:8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Hosea 6:3 Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Happy Wednesday.
Love, M
Get ready for a huge month long challenge starting tomorrow morning!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good things to do.

There are so many "good things to do" in my life:
-drink eight glasses of water a day
-sleep eight hours a night
-wash bed sheets frequently
-run
-balance the checkbook
-be kind
-eat enough fruits and vegetables
-clean out the fridge
-wear sunscreen
-return phone calls
-send letters
-moisturize daily
-always take off make up before bed
-clean the toilet
-get oil in car changed every few months
-take vitamins
-exercise more
-fold and put away laundry
-wear deodorant
-read bible and spend time with Jesus
Somehow in the hustle and bustle of life, spending time in God's word gets thrown on the list of "good things to do". It slips from being a priority, to suddenly being something that gets done only if life slows down.
Well, I'm no expert, but life doesn't appear to be slowing down. So how does this all work?
Spending time with Jesus and being in His Word needs to be priority number one. Nothing is as important than sitting at His feet, even for a moment. I know if I make time to read the Bible in the morning, life may still be hard, but I have this strength to get through it, that I only get from spending time with Jesus.
Reading the Word isn't just a thing to check off of to do list for the day. Life doesn't make sense without it. I crave it. And when my desire slips, I beg for it to come back. There is so much value in reading the Bible, prayer, and just sitting at Jesus' feet.
I challenge you to really make it a priority. If you struggle with reading or wanting to read, ask God for the desire and help to do it. The words in that book are literally life changing. It is powerful.
Good night.
Love, M.
Also, please join me in praying for the east coast of the US, as they deal with this hurricane.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My best friend.

If you know me well, you would know I have so many best friends, it is impossible to keep them straight. I have friends from childhood, friends from college, friends of the family, friends I meet and instantly know we were meant for each other.
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But I have a very, very, very, best friend. We have a secret handshake. She cuddles up on my lap, and knows when my heart is sad. She can make me smile quicker than anyone else. We dress alike and pretend we are twins. We finish each other's sentences. We go shopping, to movies, and to the zoo together. We drive with the windows down, singing our favorite country songs as loud as we can. She is my best friend. She is also three years old.

Earlier this week, we were driving to some adventure, and just talking. She quickly got very serious, and asked who my best friend was. I reminded her that she was, for always. She then asked, well what about Jesus?

I was taken aback. I didn't think I spoke much about Him to her. But she then pointed out that she noticed that I talk to Him whenever we are in the car, especially if traffic is bad. She reminded me that I love to read about Him from my favorite book in the mornings, and she told me how I love to sing songs about Him throughout the day.

So I told her that she AND Jesus were my best friends. She then got very concerned that my best friend was a boy. :)

It makes my heart leap out of my chest with joy that I have never told her, but she knew. The past few weeks have been rough. I am still believing that God is good. But life has been overwhelming. My only true joy comes from Jesus, alone. She knew that. The one person who knows me better than anyone knew she wasn't the only best friend, it had to be Jesus too.

I have been wondering if people who aren't in the car and hear my prayers, or see me weeping as I sing that He is still good, or curled up with my Bible know that Jesus is my best friend and Savior. Can they tell by the way I speak or act? Can they tell when I am tired or cranky? Jesus is more than something to occupy my weekends. He is the one who loves me with an everlasting love. He is the only reason there is good in me. He is my Savior. And most importantly, He really is my best friend.

Is He your best friend too? He's a good one.

Have a lovely weekend. M. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's a battle

Romans 7:19-20 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

If you're like me, you reread that trying to make sense of what is being said.

I want to do good, but I don't. I don't want to do evil, but I do. All because of my sinful nature.

How often do we have good intentions and we fall into evil?

We never wake up in the morning thinking we want to hurt feelings, be bitter, be greedy, cheat, lie, be rude, or be a jerk. But it is our sinful nature. That's the way we are naturally bent, to be jerks.
So, what do we do? Throw in the towel and be jerks, since that's the way we are naturally? I hope not!

There is an antidote to our jerky, selfish, sinful self. It's Jesus. He alone can make us into new creatures.

1 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Don't forget this life is a battle. Fight. Don't give up so easily.

Fight to be a better person than you were yesterday. Make changes so you are not in situations where you will give into doing what you don't want to do.
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Be in the Word.

There is nothing like the Bible. It refreshes, reconnects, renews, restores, convicts and changes us. No other book has the power to change us like God's word. Be diligent with your time, and make time to sit at the feet of Jesus, everyday.

Spend time talking to Jesus in prayer. The more you are with Him, the more you will be like Him.

We have a fighting chance. Be intentional as you start your week. Keep changing. Don't be a jerk.

Happy Monday. Love, M

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dark Days

We have been experiencing some dark days as family, friends, church, and community.

A beautiful, amazing, young girl went to be with Jesus on Friday.

And we are left here, distraught, questioning, numb, falling apart, and exhausted.

I was thinking yesterday about dark days.

The darkest day in history was the day that Jesus died.

We only see our side of the story, after all the pieces came together.

But just imagine his disciples who had followed him for years, giving their lives to His ministry, and suddenly were without their leader and teacher. Hopeless. Imagine his mama, Mary. She knew He was the Messiah, but to watch her baby die in front of her for nothing he had done, must've been awful beyond words. Crowds of people who believed and followed, suddenly doubted everything they thought to be true. Angels could not figure out what was happening to heaven's darling. Satan himself rejoicing, believing he had foiled God's plan.

But God was still in control. He was still good. He was still working in ways no one could fathom, behind the scenes.

Three days later, Jesus actually rose from the dead. The dead, not a nap. He conquered death, hell, the grave, Satan, and gave hope. We no longer have to fear death. We have hope. We have promises. Heaven is real. Jesus took care of business.

So, as we go through dark days, we can know with assurance a few things.

God is still on the throne. He is in control. He is good. He is faithful. He doesn't change when life does. He is working this for good for those who love Him. He alone is our hope.

The one phrase the past few days that has risen above any other has been, "God is good." He is good whether or not we believe He is. He is good regardless of our circumstances. He is good. Always. He is good.

Please be praying for peace, and rest for all who knew and loved Ariel. Be praying that Jesus will continue to be shared, and lives will be changed.

Love, M

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's only Jesus.

Tragedy has recently struck very close to home.

A beautiful life was unexpectedly taken.

I have had many conversations with many people sorting out emotions, feelings, and life.

A few people have said the same thing to me, leaving me shocked.

"Well, if she knew you, then you know she is in a better place."

Hold up.

Because she knew me?

No.

Because she knew Jesus personally, and in a real way, she is in Heaven with Him. I don't doubt that for a moment.

Not because she was a good person. Not because she believed in a better place. Not because enough people prayed for her to go to heaven. Not because of anything other than she confessed with her mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believed in her heart that God had raised Him from the dead.

Knowing me, being my friend, or anything I could do in my power will never do anything for anyone. But believing in Jesus will change everything.

He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father (God) except through Jesus. He is the only reason I am who I am. He is the only good in me. He is the only one who can change a life. He alone conquered the grave.

It's Jesus. That's all.

Love, M

Friday, October 12, 2012

...

Psalm 34:11 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 31:14-15a But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands.

Psalm 46:10a Be still, and know that I am God;

Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Love, M

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Update on Nestor

The other day, I received a message from my good friend in Bolivia.

She has been my connection to what is going on there. She has been able to go and hold babes that I can't right now. I am so grateful to have her be my eyes and ears in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Here is part of her email.

i just spent the afternoon with nestor and juana and things arent good.  His heart (where they operated) is infected, and he has what looks like a swollen knot on his chest showing it.  he has been running a fever for a while.  he needs to be back in the hospital and they need to do a test (i think it is like a scope) to see into his heart what is going on.  The doctors need him in the hospital for 3 weeks to treat this.  This is going to cost 15,000 bs or about $2,170 (they say, though it could be more or less depending on how long the treatment takes.  we plan on going tomorrow to the tv station at hope and pray they will allow juana to give an interview for free that they will broadcast as a fundraiser.  we are also asking the foundtation that helped with the surgery to help again.  we are hoping and praying that with these efforts, God will provide the money.  We are trying to get this all done quickly, because this infection could be fatal if it is not treated.  Please please pray hard that the money comes in and that Nestor may be healed completely.  Juana was in tears today.  My heart is so heavy for this family.  However, Nestor has put on 3 kilos (like almost 13 pounds) and looks so much healthier because of this!  He also has started smiling and laughing.  He is anxious to try to push himself up and he seems like he has a fighting spirit within him.  He has also started making some noises and loves sticking out his tongue.  on and the best part... he has a mohawk.
So, please, please, please, pray for Nestor with me. Pray for complete healing in his little body, and for his family to know Jesus.

Thanks to everyone who has been following his story. It brings tears to my eyes, and joy to my heart to know that you, who have never met this baby, love him, and ask about him.

Thank you for encouraging me, and for praying.

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Love, M

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking back, part three

Looking back on the last few years has been interesting. Each year has a very specific theme of who God was. (Read part one here , and part two here) Year three is this year. I couldn't possibly be able to share everything God has been and has done in my life this year. There is just too much. But I will try to share a bit of who my God is, and how wonderfully overhwmelming 2012 has been.

"God is faithful." I feel like this is one of the most frequently said sentences coming from my lips. He is so faithful. I have been kinda stuck in Psalms this summer, it is just so good, I can't stop reading it. Psalm 33:4 "For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does." Psalm 36:5 "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." Psalm 86:11 "Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:15 "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Psalm 89:8 "Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you." psalm 89:14 "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you." He has proven himslef faithful in the little things, so I trust him with bigger things. Then he shows himself to be faithful in the bigger things, so I trust him in the larger things. And soon, I am trusting him with everything. It makes sense, he is so faithful. He has this girl in the palm of his hand.

I have God's favor. People say I'm lucky, or things just happen to work out for me. I don't agree. I really, truly believe I have God's favor all over me. I am his. He is mine. I am his beloved. He takes such good care of me. It often doesn't make sense, but it is so true. God's favor is so evident in my life, in the big, and in the little.

This year has been an adventure. Some people live in the camp that believe that being a Christian is boring. Well, maybe that is how some people choose to live, but not this girl. I believe Jesus when He said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. -John 10:10" Abundant life. Life with meaning and purpose. Adventure. I have traveled all over this year. I spent a couple months living in South America. My days are filled with so many people, and so many activities, every day is different. I lead one the happiest, most fullfilled lives out of anyone I know. I have a real God who really cares about me. I can dream big dreams, because He is more than capable. Adventure? Story of my year.

I know the power I have through the Holy Spirit. Did you know that the same power that rose a dead Jesus back to life is the same power that lives inside of me? Seriously. Romans 8:11 "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of  his Spirit who lives in you." I can tap into that power. It is mine. My God is the God who created the world by just speaking. He split an entire sea, so the center was dry land. He causes life to exist. He is that same God, and He is true, andHe lives inside of me. Crazy, huh?

I am thrilled to watch as things unfold the next few months, and my heart is anxious to see what next year will contain. But for now, I praise Him for being faithful, His favor, adventure, and His power.

Have a cozy day! M

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

looking back part two

This is Part Two of my Looking Back post. (Read Part One here.)

Year number two I discovered God's love in a real way.

His love for me is more overwhelming than I could ever begin to imagine. Not only did He love me enough to create me, but then when I went against Him, He sent His perfect Son (Jesus) to take my place and take my punishment, so I can be in rightstanding with God. Mind blowing. And then, He continues to love me more than I ever could understand, regardless of what I do. I don't understand it.

I am His beloved. He loves me. Unconditional love.

This is the year He really opened my eyes to the fact that he loves everyone. (John 3:16 For God so loved the world...) He doesn't just love middle class, white, Americans. He loves everyone. He loves the prostitues in Detroit. He loves the babies without names, abandoned in third world countries. He loves the addicts on the street. He loves people who want nothing to do with Him. He loves the homeless. He loves the sick. He loves the hopeless. He loves those who have never even heard His name. He loves the ugly, the unloveable, the uncomfotable. He loves them with the same all consuming loves that He loves me.

So this was the year I prayed often that I would have the same eyes and heart as Jesus. I wanted to love people regardless of skin color, religion, pay check size, past, gender, age, smell, or location. I just wanted to see people the way Jesus does. (Brandon Heath - Give Me Your Eyes song)

So, I became involved in homeless ministry. He gave me teenagers to love. He helped me love my family more. He placed hard people in my path to love. And then, that May, God called me to Bolivia, and in September I accepted.

If I wouldn't had that year, I wouldn't know God's love for me, or how I should love others. I am so grateful He took an entire year and dedicated it to teaching me about love. He is still teaching me about His love, how to love, and what love really is. I am so grateful for that year of foundation.

I challenge you, if you don't know His love, or you doubt it, seek it out. It will change your life. It will change how you view yourself, and how you treat others. It is amazing.

Have a blessed day!

Love, M

Looking Back- Part One

Fall does a few things to me. It makes me want to sip hot apple cider, while wearing boots, watching football outside. It makes me want to soak up every bit of the warm sun's rays before winter comes. It puts a smile on my face because once green leaves change to bold, beautiful colors. It also makes me reflect.

Fall is a time of change. It is a time of new beginnings. It is my favorite time to sit in the crisp air and remember.

Sometimes remembering brings a smile to my face, sometimes remembering is hard, but remembering is important. It shows us who we were, and how we have changed.

This is my third autumn living out of my parents house. I was thinking about each of the three years I have been a 'grown up'. All three years have a very different theme. All three years I discovered a different characteristic of God. He doesn't change. (Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.) But my circumstances changed, and I changed, so how I viewed God changed.

The first year was the hardest. My family lost our house. Financially things became very hard. I moved into my own place by myself. My grandfather unexpectedly passed away. At the end of the year, by faith, I quit my job teaching preschool with no next job in sight. My mom started not feeling well. Friends moved away. Life became difficult.

But you know what? I discovered that God is provider. God is so amazing. He is all knowing, and he is always working. He was never surprised by any of our heartache or hard times. He was in control through it all. Only because He is who He is, did life work.

Randomly I would get babysitting jobs just in time to buy groceries, or when I needed gas for my car. A dream job offered me a fulltime position three days before my last day teaching. He brought incredible new friends into my life at the most perfect moments. My parents have seen God provide over and over and over and over. Their faith has been the most incredible thing to witness as a daughter.

God's provision was so apparent in my life that year. Someone the other day asked me how did I live alone on what I made years ago. I laughed, and then really thought about it, and it was seriously only because of God. He alone deserves the glory. Life is hard, but He is provider. (Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!)

I challenge you to ask God to be your provider, and then in faith, let Him! He is already in control, so you might as well let go, and enjoy it.

Have an incredible day!

Love, M