Saturday, February 26, 2011

E. Short

This has been a beautifully productive day! It's rapidly coming to a close, but of course, happily, this one will be finished out with a soccer game in the gym. It just doesn't feel like an official Saturday without soccer time. :-)

I just have to say, in the midst of this goal to get my "to-do" list done, I have really enjoyed friend-time! I invited Erin Short to come to Panera bread with me to do homework. We ended up having such a great evening chatting and helping each other with assignments.

I was just thinking how long I've known her (all the way since freshmen year) and how much I appreciate about her....

* she has been a loyal friend for all the time I've known her
* she takes time to write a hand-written card if she hasn't seen me in a while (and I know it's not just me she does that for!)
* she is blunt and honest (usually when I need it the most :-)
* she has a huge grin that is quick to show up in a conversation - even if it's because she's teasing in her playful way
* she is steadfastly waiting on God's perfect timing as He reveals what He wants for her life

Erin, I'm not sure if you even read my blog, but just the same, here's a thankful post for all that you mean to me. Love you girl!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Better Communicator

My roommate shared in dorm devotions last night about how small, yet powerful the words we say can be.
That prompted me to meditating on these verses today....

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Eph 4:29

"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Col 4:6

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Prov 31:26

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." Ps 19:14

My prayer lately is definitely that the Lord would make me a better communicator of his grace and His love, through the avenue of the way I talk.
So what, if I have all the Bible knowledge in the world, if I don't know how to communicate it well? Or what profit is it if my speech betrays me and compromises godly testimony?

The power the tongue holds is crucial for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Father, santify my speech and the attitude behind it, along with the other areas you are working on in my life. It's a huge struggle to not be sarcastic, harsh, disconnected, or careless with my words.

"If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.... Even so, the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things." James 3:2,5

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scrapbooking to Show You

So many things are happening this week!

One of them being that the internet server at college is being extremely touchy and hasn't let my poor little computer connect to the server since Sunday! Although apart from the sadness of not being able to blog every day, I think it is working out for the better. This way I can stay so much more focused on the crazy amounts of reading I have due this week.

Less than two weeks though and it'll be spring break! Where does the time go??

And when I go home I'll get to see this little man :-) That thought sure makes me smile.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Put Off, Put On

It’s that time of year again.

Maybe it’s just something in the air of February. Maybe it’s the Valentines holiday nestled right smack in the middle of the month. Maybe it’s just me.

This is the time when the people who have been entertaining the idea of dating actually declare on facebook that they are in a relationship. It is also when the people who have been in a serious relationship finally nail down their marriage date.

Lately it has become even more close to home for me. These new couples and engagements are people I have known before they were even showing sign of interest in each other. They are friends that have always been a “fellow single person” and now they are welcoming someone new into their life that I have never before met. It is a little unnerving.

I won’t lie – I’m feeling left out. My girlish emotions are running wild with hormones and desires lately. “If they have their special someone, why can’t I?” This is the time to be pursuing that, right? Here at Bible college is the prime place to meet a good, godly guy. If I don’t meet him now, Lord, I might miss my chance…

But that way of thinking is impatient distrust on my part. I need not pursue any person on earth – only my God in heaven who loved me SO much He was willing to die for me! (Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.)

I’ve been thinking about the “put off, put on” principle. It generally applies to sin verses righteousness. But in this case, there’s more. I can’t just ask God to take away these unruly emotions. God created me to love, but where does He want it to be channeled?

I cannot ask Him to take it away completely; instead I must ask Him to help me “put off” this lust and idolatry and to then turn around and “put on” complete surrender and devotion to Him who’s steadfast love surrounds me. (Psalm 32:10)

Holding any person higher than God is idolatry (even if I was married to him, it still would be.) If the Lord brings a man into my life in the future, he will be my protector, provider, and exhorter on this journey.

But GOD will be my security, my joy, my innermost peace, and very first love. Anything less is sin. I have learned over and over again (in my relatively short life :-) that when I pour my trust into another person, he will fail me.

But my God will remain faithful to the end (and beyond!) He has proven Himself time and time again. Right now, in this junior semester of college, He is drawing me to Himself like never before.

I pray for grace to have the right response. If I’m too busy focusing my affections on the guys in my life at this moment, I will miss the still, small voice of God, calling me to love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind.

That’s my two cents for today.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Brokenness = Usefulness

"If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad." -Ruth Stull (Peru)

For the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Am I greater than my master? The more fully my life is given over to Christ, the more I will be broken of my own will and of my own desires. That is when God will use me to be poured out into the lives of other people (even to minister to "multitudes"!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Still Learning

I'm amazed at how much my guitar has become a part of my life in just two short months! I started in January when Jeremy was around to show me the basics. Once I knew several of the foundational chords I started learning more and more from the book on my own.
Now it sits by my desk and beckons my name while I try to work on homework....

I'm amazed by how fast time passes when I am practicing with it. Now I use it as a reward - "If I get x number of pages read, then I can play 2 songs on the guitar."
I'm amazed at how much I love the sound of the violin and the guitar together! AnaLee and I have been wanting to get together to play (her on the violin, me on the guitar) for several weeks now, and finally it worked out! That was such an awesome time. Even with being roommates all last year, something about being able to sit down and worship God together in song bonded us together on a new level.

(I love that I can mess up in front of her with no guilt at all :-) She just says "Let's do it again," and we go back and play til we get it right. And when that happens it sounds so cool!)

Ana, we'll have to do this again sometime real soon....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tips from the Top

At the teacher conference this past weekend, Les Ollila (I'm sure I just butchered the spelling of his name; it was not intentionally!) did a session on "Life Touching Life."

One thing he stressed was "be available." Even when he feels like he has ten million things to do (and he's LES OLLILA so he probably does! :-) but he makes it a point to show up in the cafeteria. Not to eat, but just to be there. As a leader at Northland University, he wants the students to see he is there and he is NOT too busy for them. They are what his job is all about! When he gets into a conversation with somebody, he plants his feet, looks them in the eye, and asks how they are doing. And he stays engaged to hear the whole answer.

I've been challenged to do that lately. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out conversation. But while I am talking for those few minutes, I should give myself entirely to that conversation. My body language should convey that I want to be there, and that I care. These are such simple little concepts, but they go a long way in being an encouragement to someone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


There have been three separate occasions today when I was seriously tempted to crawl back into bed for a little break from this crazy week. And I don't just mean it was a "fleeting thought." I mean I was resigned to doing it. I was seconds away from making the final decision. But something stopped me just in time, every time. Only by the grace of God did I make it through this day without a nap.

Lately I've been really examining the concept of faithfulness. Faithfulness is showing up where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there. It's being true to your word, and doing everything within your power to keep your promises. A quiet trait - one that doesn't shout and usually goes unnoticed til it's not there - but so vital to the Christian walk. I suppose it could be considered the unsung character trait.

But when you're faithful, you're life is reflecting the very character of God.

"His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:23

Closer to me,
I'm tired and I'm weak,
And every breath within me,
Is longing just to be...
Closer to you,
And I know it won't be long,
Cuz I can hear you in the distance,
Saying you are nearly home.
So let the rain start falling
Where it will.
I will run through this valley,
Just to climb to that hill,
And if they ask why I'm singing,
Though my days may be few,
It's cuz I'm just a day closer
To you.

-Mark Schultz

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Contentment Makes the Difference

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, but they make the best of everything they have."

This quote reminded me of the amazing Christians I met in South Africa. Perspective is everything - not how much earthly possessions you own. Precious pastors like the one in this picture taught me that.

Monday, February 14, 2011


You know how I said that I'm going to blog everyday? Well, I'm getting on here solely out of duty tonight. Just because I need to write something.
Yet, I feel like anything I say tonight would lead me down crazy rabbit trails when I'd rather be sleeping right now.

I will just say this one thought that has been echoing in my mind since I heard it at the teacher conference (because maybe you are like me, feeling like you have so many goals and aspirations that you could never reach all you have in your mind wanting to do.)

Never let your goals become the source of your guilt trip. Don't let your devotional "system" kill your joy of time with the Lord. God wants your devotion during "devotions". Enjoy them.

Enjoy HIM.

And now, I'm gonna go enjoy sleep. :-)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How White Are My Knuckles?

One of my very favorite things about coming home is joining our Sunday School class! God used it over Christmas break to speak simply and profoundly to me, and things hasn't changed a bit.... He still knows how to speak to my innermost being through the truth of the Word shared in Sunday school.

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hat the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

Today's passage: Matthew 6:19-24

Today's discussion question: Can I serve God and money at the same time?

We always have really great discussions in the "college and career/young married" class. I didn't realize it at first, but this one came at the most vital time possible. My loving God knows exactly what I need to hear!

As a kid, it was easy to feel like I had the world at my fingertips. I dreamt about traveling, read missionary biographies and remarked how awesome it would be to go there and to be used by God in that capacity.
But, as I grew up, I gradually began to realize that as much as I hate to admit it, money makes the world go 'round... Without it, I couldn't hope to have even such a staple desire such as an apartment or an education. And I certainly started to realize that to travel halfway around the world and be planted in another culture isn't as financially scott-free as it might sound.

Now that it comes down to the wire, I'm making these life-altering decisions, beginning to pray about where I will student teach and what direction God would have for my life beyond college (Yes, there IS life beyond college :-)
Sunday school challenged me, on what am I basing my decisions?

It's easy to read verse 24 and think. "I'm not rich compared to alot of people. I don't live in a mansion; I can't go out and buy just whatever I want on a whim. I am surely not serving 'mammon.'"
But am I making decisions based on the temporal or the eternal?
Suddenly it seems so complicated. I realize I don't have all the money I would need to lead even an ordinary life, let alone an extraordinary life for God. I have been seriously second-guessing whether the Lord would have me to be in missions, but WHY?
Is it because there won't be a taco bell down the street? Because there might be lizards or poisonous eight-legged arachnids joining me in my bed? Because I won't be able to hop on a plane and visit home for the weekend when I need a little break from life? Those things are easy to give up in theory - when you're ten years old they make missions work sound all that much more exciting. :-)
But I'm realizing that when you go halfway around God's world carrying God's message, these things become a reality.
And it all comes back to that verse nestled in Matthew 6 - among the reminders to not worry, and to not be a hypocrite. (ironic isn't it? :-)

So it comes down to the question, will I serve God with my life?
Or will I serve the "creature comforts"?

Will I be slave to all those things that will burn up in the blink of an eye someday?
Or will I see souls won to salvation through the power of Christ in me?

Father, I pray that you would give me eyes to see life in your perspective. Help me not become so rich that I neglect to trust in you, as in Proverbs 30:7-9, or Deuteronomy 6:10-15.
You know the heart of your people. After all this training to trust you in the wilderness, the Children of Israel turned aside to other gods soon after they stepped into Canaan, the land of plenty. Let me not forget where my blessings of plenty come from.
As in Wyoming over the summer, when I experienced firsthand the inspiring mindset of the people, I pray that you would help me to realize that everything I have is given to me by your grace, and for the purpose of bringing glory to you.
May I never hold these things in a white-knuckle grip.... at the expense of obeying you and gaining treasure in Heaven.

Where does my heart truly lay?
Please develop within me a missionary heart, Father. You were willing to give your very own Son. Send me to proclaim that message. And don't let money or comfort be relevant at all in my decision.

Lord I needed this.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Was the Last Time...?

So, I'm back.

I know, I was bound and determined to write a little something every day... I just happened to pick the busiest week ever to try and do it!
This week for the first three days I worked diligently to finish my homework for the week. Then Thursday morning, myself, my professor, and two of my classmates were up before the crack of dawn in order to travel down to a teacher conference for all of Thursday and most of Friday. All I have to say for now is, it was awesome and inspiring.
But I hope to write more about it tomorrow when I can devote more of my focus to this. As of right now, I'm watching a movie with my dad, (one of the many simple joys of being at home :-) so I will just say this thought for the night.

When was the last time you wrote someone an encouragement note? Not a huge deal, but lately I've been rediscovering the power of the written word. And all the more when it is intermingled with the Word of God.
I've been receiving email updates from a certain missionary family who are going through a particularly intense trial right now, and whenever God brings them to mind I pray for them.
But then I thought, how much of a blessing would it be for them to KNOW that? God can prick my heart to write a note at such a perfect time that only He could orchestrate. Think about it. How much time does it really take to sit down and jot out a note? And when you include the ancient, holy, refreshing, enlightening Words of God.... He can use the black scribbles on a page to strengthen and revive a heart.

Ask Him, who is it in your life that that could use the encouragement?
Who is the faithful one who generally goes unnoticed?
Who is going through a particularly rough time in life?
Even someone who does not rub shoulders with you every day.
Someone who won't see it coming.
But who may most need it.

Thanks for reading. I'm going to get back to the movie.... And for the record, I am now back on my blog! (Sorry for letting it go for several consecutive days.)

In Christ's love,

Monday, February 7, 2011

Math with Miss Michelle

Taught my kindergarden lesson today in the public school system of Des Moines.

There were 25 sweet, crazy, diverse, huggable little students in that classroom. I was so blessed to teach with those particular kids. Wish I could list them all by name and say the things that struck me about each one of them (if that would be legal??... :-)

Instead, I'll just tell the moment that really cracked me up today. I was helping one student with a "2+4=6" math problem on his worksheet and the kid across the table from him looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "You are so smart!.... You're smart like my grandpa is smart." I've never been compared to someone's grandfather before. It made me smile.

That, and the fact that half the kids called me "Miss Janell" all sweet and polite-like, and then there was the portion of the class that were thoroughly convinced my name was Michelle, and had no problem blurting it repeatedly from across the room.
After a while I gave up trying to correct them on it. I thought, "Hey c'mon, I'm only here for 3 days anyway."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Price of Victory

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

-- Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Whatever You Do...

Okay, so I knew this would happen just when I decided to write every day! Yesterday was such a busy day - I ended up going straight from one thing to the next. Granted, not all of those things were "required," some were strictly having an opportunity presented to have a good time. And it was definitely a very great day!

After class I wrote a math lesson plan to teach to the kindergarten class that I'm observing with on Monday. It's going to be a picnic theme! Thus, my things to do today is to go and buy some sort of basket and to cut out different food shapes that we can count.
These kids are from a rough section of town, more on the poor side and more in the city, so I doubt that many of them have ever BEEN on a picnic. I hope they all know what one is though! lol Hopefully that will make it all the more fun to go on a (silent, indoors) picnic for the first time. :-)

Then after work yesterday Erin invited me to watch "Ramona and Beezus" (pretty much the cutest movie known to mankind). I love the emphasis on strong family ties. You just don't see that as much nowdays in Hollywood, so it was refreshing to see a movie so artsy, imaginative, and family-oriented.
God ordained the family unit and as a Christian I love so much to see families that are strong and thriving! (along with lots of character and quirkiness.) No two people are alike; why should families be?
I'm so blessed to be in the awesome family where God placed me. AND this time next week I will be hanging out with them! I'm so looking forward to that.

The movie was over just in time for us to move on to recreational soccer. And even through the little, temperal act of playing the game, I learned something last night. When one of the guys scored a goal, I complimented him on it, and he said something that completely took me aback. "Praise God. It was fun." That's it. That's all he said.
No explanation of what he did to score, or show of greatness that HE had made a goal. I've heard plenty of people say "God be praised" when they sing a solo in church or preach a sermon, but on the soccer field?

Yes, on the soccer field. That's the place where it's easiest to scramble for the glory for myself; I think that field is my weakness. Too often I play my hardest because of the few seconds that thrill me after I score, or the attention that comes when I block a ball (especially a guy's ball.) But that's not what it should be about. Literally everything in my life should be about stock-piling glory for my Savior.
That simple reminder was a rebuke to me. Play for God or get off the field.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do ALL to the glory of GOD."

Pride is the first of the seven deadly sins, condemned by God over and over again in the Scripture. Why would I let myself continually be filled the brim with it? Why would I even let a little ounce of it sneak in? God hates it with a loathing disgust because only He is the one who is worthy to receive the glory!

What is it in your life that is robbing God of the glory that He deserves? I'm finding that I have no good on my own. All that I am, and all I have comes from Him. How can I boast in ANYthing, save the cross of my Saviour? If I do boast in anything else, (even something as small as a soccer goal) it is sin. And it is so easy to commit.

Well, that reflection turned into a longer one than I anticipated! Hopefully it was a blessing to you and causes you to do some reflecting of your own. Thanks for listening, and don't worry, not every one of these posts will be this long or written about my whole entire day.

Enjoy your sweet Saturday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Different "Free Speech"

I realized tonight how little I've been blogging. And I also realized that that's because I feel like I have to have some new epiphany or catastrophic event to talk about.

But the joy is in the little things (as my blog heading reads, I think). So even though we are already 3 days into the month of February, I'm going to dub this "Free Speech February" for my blog. That is where I don't limit myself so much in what I write.

Instead, I'll write about anything and everything - as long as I write SOMETHING each and every day. No matter how long or short.

May God be honored in the big things AND in the little things that I bring to the table on this little corner of the internet. :-)

And with that said, I'm counting that as my "little" thing to say tonight. More to come tomorrow! I think this will have me on the lookout during the day for what could be in my blog. This should be an adventure....