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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.
Love, M.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


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


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.


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