Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of Quotes

I am expanding my blogging horizons! Last year 700 something bloggers blogged every day of the month of October on their own chosen topics. (I wasn't around to witness this but it sounds rather amazing.) This year, per the example of The Gypsy Mama, I'm linking up with them too! My chosen topic........

So if you love quotes (I always have), come back here tomorrow for the first quote in a series of 31!

And go over to The Nester--the hostess of this crazy commitement--and check out what everyone else is writing about for 31 days!

31 Days of Quotes: Intro, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17, Day 18, Day 19, Day 20, Day 21, Day 22, Day 23, Day 24, Day 25, Day 26, Day 27, Day 28, Day 29, Day 30, Day 31

When Jesus is Not Enough (or rather, God's Wonderful Provision)

Tell people that God doesn’t want you to be religious, and they’ll applaud. Tell them that God’s solution to their loneliness and sex drives is NOT to make Jesus your boyfriend but to actually pursue marriage intentionally and well, what is your reaction?

Premise: Single guys are hurting their sisters in Christ and don’t even know it.

Question: Was Jesus meant to be enough?

Answer: No.

Let me explain before you stone me.

In the garden Adam experienced perfection. He was in perfect communion with nature and God. He lacked nothing.

WRONG. He did lack something.

Because in God’s assessmentGod, Elohim, the Creator of this perfect being in His own likenesslooked at this man, again, without flaw, without sin, and assessed, God assessed, that it was “not good that man should be alone.”

Was the solution a golden retriever? No. Adam quickly saw that “there was not found a helper comparable to him” among the wonderful animals that God had made.

Was the solution a deeper relationship with the God of the universe?

Ahem???!!! YOU WOULD THINK SO! Wouldn’t you?

But no! That was not God’s answer (because Adam already walked in perfect communion with God). Instead, God had arranged for His likeness to be spread across two halves to form the wholea male plus a female.

And so God brought the woman to Adam.

God designed the puzzle pieces and then fit them together. Not as similar pieces. But, in a predetermined hilarity, He designed them as ironically opposite yet intentionally congruent pieces.

Skip ahead to Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.”

Move to Malachi 2:11 where marriage is described as “The LORD’s holy institution which He loves.”

What about Psalm 128? Where the psalmist describes a happy home with a wife “like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house” and children “like olive plants All around your table” and then says, “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.”

Single guys, brothers in Christ, I plead with you to believe these verses. I plead with you to believe what God’s word says about marriage enough that you will do something about it.

I tell you the truth, there are girls around you, quality girls, who are suffering loneliness and lack of companionship, who have been longing to be godly wives and mothers for years and are wanting to be your helpmate and are wanting to show God’s design off to a world that is caught up in fornication and divorce. But they are waiting for the quality guys in their lives to stop thinking it’s more spiritual to stay single (and hang with the guys and make youtube videos) than to do the hard thing of settling down, getting married, and submitting to the sanctification that will soon begin to take place on both sides once the honeymoon is over (please refer to my favorite book on the topic: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas).

We aren’t supposed to talk about it. Girls aren’t supposed to be “suffering” because we want a guy (a husband, actually). Why? Because Jesus is enough. And because it’s not cool to be “desperate.”

So we hunker down and pray harder and laugh at the guys having fun and every once in awhile we’ll find a fellow kindred spirit who is also suffering and then we’ll let down our guard long enough to confess our desire for God’s holy institution of marriage but we’ll keep a tough face and deride all those clueless guys because if we didn’t stay tough we’d cry.

Because God never intended for Jesus to be enough. Yes, a relationship with God is our foundation. Because even married people must lean heavily into Jesus through loneliness and conflict and all sorts of life trials. Without a close, ongoing relationship with Christ, we are lost, not only spiritually but emotionally too. I would be the first to admit that we need Jesus first and foremost. He is our all in all.
And as such, He has provided for our needs. For our natural desiresfor our physical and emotional needshe has provided a natural solution: marriage. An “earthy” solution for our earthy desires, as one speaker has said.

God never intended for marriage to stop providing for our earthy needs once the Old Testament ended and for Jesus to pick those needs up in the New. God’s design of marriage is not outdated.

I’m not saying that every 20+ year old needs to be pursuing a girl right now. Not even. But do we believe what God says? It’s a mindset.

Girls aren’t perfect. We’re known for our drama. We struggle with nagging. But for those single guys out there who think God’s design is more of a suggestion for when you’re 40, I hope that you’ll at least think about these Scriptures and consider your sisters in Christ.

(By the way, I do NOT presume to speak for God. If you disagree, I love true conversation. Shoot me an e-mail (if you have it).)

Friday, September 28, 2012

FMF Grasp

Grasp. That is this week's FMF topic.

Grasp. I immediately thought of what I'm grasping for.

I'm grasping for . . . how does one put this? I am grasping for security. Currently I do not have a full time job like I enjoyed last school year. God has been providing so amazingly. I have a tutoring job that I love and the parents keep paying me more than I ask for. God has provided random dog sitting jobs that pay more than I expected. So He is providing.

But meanwhile, my car has needed two random, expensive repairs in the last month or so. And dog sitting last week was cancelled. And I found out my bachelor's degree isn't from a regionally accredited university so I can't apply to be a substitute teacher or earn a teacher's credential so that I can make money.

So I am grasping. I am grasping for security.

God has led me here. That's what I must remind myself of. Because I know it is true. It has been obviously true.

I am grasping because I want to control my life.

And that is what it is -- grasping. Not resting. Not trusting. Not praying. Not entrusting myself to the One in charge. Frantic grasping for the wind.

Five Minute Friday
Join in the Five Minute Friday parade!

"God loves an uttermost confidence in Himself -- to be wholly trusted. This is the sublimest of all the characteristics of a true Christian -- the basis of all character." --Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of Extending Grace and Evaluating Character

So, it would seem that I have been inundated with the word "grace" lately. I have many opinions on the subject :) but I will limit myself to one small corner of the grace world.

Earlier in the month I wrote that we should extend grace to others. That we should be so full of grace that impatience and selfishness is squeezed out.

Funnily enough, merely days before The Gypsy Mama posted "graceful" as the FMF topic of the week, I had had a conversation with someone where I stood by my decision to NOT give grace.

The question was put to me, if I spent the day with a stranger and monopolized the conversation talking about myself and fashion, would I want the person to extend grace to me and give me a second chance before coming to a judgment about who I was.

My answer, perhaps controversial, was no.

Why? Because I believe that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Oh yes, first impressions are so precarious. On the part of the person giving the impression, we want to put our best foot forward or at least portray ourselves how we honestly think of ourselves! But so often we go home and kick ourselves for saying THAT, oh how stupid I sounded, oh that was so rude of me I didn't even realize it!

For example: Once I wrote an e-mail to a guy (a guy that I had been wanting to impress). I carefully worded my letter, trying to sound good without sounding good (you know what I mean?). I was rather pleased with myself! Until I hit "send" and went to bed. Then I realized that I had omitted something that was so important and spiritual that, well, you can learn a lot about someone by what they omit, and I was afraid he would see me as unspiritual after I had tried so hard!

I just had to laugh at myself. Apparently God had put this person in my life not to be impressed by me, but to sanctify me, because I always seemed to mess up with him!

So anyway, back to that first impression. First impressions are not always correct. And those forming first impressions should be willing to extend grace to the person they are just meeting, realizing that he/she might be having an off day, before assessing who the person really is.

But, if someone was to spend a day with me and I was blatantly self-obsessed, shallow, and vain?

I sincerely doubt that I would do a 180 on the second try. Apparently, THAT is who I am, and although I might kick myself afterwards and try to cover up my ugliness on the subsequent meetings, the real me would still be underneath.

So, when it comes to evaluating character, do not be afraid to use discernment! The Bible highly values discernment and wisdom! Let us not ignore good sense for the sake of extending grace.


My Wonderful, Manly God

I understand that God is spirit, but how anyone could read Isaiah and then put God in the form of a woman, whether hypothetically or in a novel, is beyond comprehension.

"Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him." (Is. 59:15-16)

Doesn't this sound like some medeival knight/rugged cowboy who comes to his home town, sees that evil is rampant, is surprised that no one is doing anything about it, and so decides to take on the whole evil system himself? ♥

When Another's Sin Becomes Your Own

I like my friend Kacie's perspective on having a blog. She writes because she needs to. Sure she gets readers. But that's not why she writes.

Today I sat outside in the slightly muggy late afternoon air with my journal. A hummingbird buzzed overhead and zipped past the blue sky laced with wispy white clouds.

"Why do I take another's sin on my heart? Why do I feel like I'm the one living the lie, being deceitful? . . . .And so it grew blacker and blacker until I felt part of it and because I couldn't let it go -- I couldn't ignore it -- I couldn't drop what was burning scars into me -- it did just that. I focused on the evil I had never witnessed, never been party to, until it became part of me . . . ."

This is what happens when someone's sin (major or minor) affects you and you allow yourself to so dwell on it that it pulls you in, like the Ring and Gollum. No longer is it just their sin. You virtually allow yourself to be a witness to their sin until it is equally part of your history as well as theirs.

Dear God, help!

I cried out in my journal. Not wanting this to be a part of me. Wanting to throw the ring into the fires of Mordor. I was repentive.

But as I came inside and began cooking dinner, nothing had changed.

I was repentive, but I hadn't repented.

"When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him." (Isaiah 59:19)
"'"This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!"'" (Job 38:11)

So I prayed. Forgive me. Forgive me for this here. Forgive me for this there.

I didn't feel forgiven.

Jesus' blood is more powerful than what I'm feeling. Do I believe? Am I really letting go and believe that I am forgiven?

I preached to myself until slowly, I felt it ebbing away.

And then, I felt free.

I'm sure after so long of holding that guilt close to my chest it will reappear. But no, I will tell myself. Jesus' blood is sufficient to wash that away. Jesus' blood is sufficient! I repented. It is, as Jesus Himself said, finished.

If my camera wasn't broken, I could post beautiful pics to accompany my posts like so many other brilliant bloggers do. Someday.... :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

FMF "Wide"

It isn't spiritual. It isn't about moms or maintaining sanity in a messy house (both of which are topics I love to read about, btw, even if I'm not a mom and don't own my own house). But it's me. And if one tries to copy everyone else, well, that's already been done.

So the Five Minute Friday topic is "wide."

What would YOU write about?

I thought of "deep and wide, deep and wide." Never really thought much of that song, besides it being fun to sing. What does it even mean??

Then I thought of something along the lines of semi-trucks. Semi-wide?

And then, after reading the Gypsy Mama's post (where this all gets started), I decided to write about a wide range of knowledge.

You see, I tutor a 2nd grade boy three days a week. I simply love it! But something I've started to notice is that he does not have a wide range of knowledge. "No 2nd grader does," you might tell me. Yes, well, that's probably true. :) But it's still surprising me.

I read him a story about a boy whose family moves to a dairy farm and he disobeys and almost drowns in a manure pit. I think a whole new world opened up to him.

I read to him about Johnny Appleseed since it is his day this Sunday.

I read to him about insects, and you'd think he'd just tasted icecream for the first time!

The classical method of teaching says that children should be memorizing a lot during their early years. That their brains are able to absorb tons of information.

So why do we sit them in front of the TV (not that they can't watch TV, but as an exclusive form of childcare) when this is the time in their lives when they could be memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism or how to skip count up to 9 or all sorts of other things that would give them a wider range of knowledge?

I went 2 minutes over. Forgive me.

:) ~Michelle

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Focus II

There is nothing like reading a bunch of posts on "focus" (or lack thereof, as seems to be the common plight) to make you start feeling a little unfocused yourself. :) Goodnight!

Favorite "Focus" post of the night:

FMF Focus

I am a day late writing this. I had planned to participate in Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Friday yesterday. Actually, I had planned to participate Thursday. It was on my list of things to do. But, it would seem I have a problem with focusing.

When I set out to read a book, I find my focus is divided. I read a page. Get up and check Facebook. I read a couple sentences. Remember I haven't checked that junk e-mail address (where I now get important tutoring e-mails).  I read for a little bit. Decide to go brush my teeth. Focus. Definitely don't have it.

But this weekend, this Friday to be particular, I actually did manage to focus.

I was dog sitting, so I was at someone else's house. And for some reason, when I am living by myself in someone else's house, all attempts at normal life focus -- like running errands, getting to bed at a decent time, eating a normal amount of food (two Nestle Drumsticks in two days and 5 string cheese sticks in one day isn't normal) -- vanish. So as my normal life slowly, what's that word, unraveled, a different kind of focus came into play. I decided to read my novel. And I did! Like, while sitting down for lengthy periods of time and not getting up to check Facebook, check e-mail, brush my teeth, etc.! And I finished that book! For once, I was focused.

Mmm, and it was a good book! :) Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes (written and set in the late '60s).

So, I was so busy reading that I never did get around to writing my 5 Minutes!

Check out everyone else's Five Minute Friday posts here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jeremiah 1

Jeremiah chapter 1 is like a guy chapter.

Background: Jeremiah first hears from the Lord during the reign of Josiah. Josiah was one of the last of the kings of Judah (Israel by this time had been scattered by Assyria). Josiah finds the law of God during some temple repair, reads it, and tears his clothes in mourning. "Go, inquire of the LORD for me," he tells his servants, "for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book" (2 Ki. 22:13). So his servants go and inquire, and the word comes back that Josiah is too late. Israel's sin has gone on too long. Basically, the hammer started falling before Josiah came on the scene, and although God will spare Josiah, the hammer still must fall.

So here is Jeremiah, who describes himself as a "youth" (I don't know if this means teens, 20s, or anything under presedential eligibility). God comes to him, and the first thing Jeremiah records God saying to him is:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you

Whoah. God zooms down, out of all the people in the world, and before Jeremiah was a crying baby, God had his focus on Jeremiah. Wait. No, it's even more extreme: before Jeremiah was even a blip on a sonogram, God knew him...! I cannot comprehend that. But that's what God says.

Before you were born I sanctified you (set you apart)
Again, wow.
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.
Nothing like destiny, eh?
But I am a youth! says Jeremiah. Don't say that, says God, because I will lead you, and you will say what I command you. Don't be afraid. I am with you to deliver you. (*including when you are left in a pit*)
Then God tells him what his task as prophet is going to be. And is it a man-sized job or what?!
See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To root out and to pull down,
To destroy and to throw down,
To build and to plant.
Yowzers! Here's this young guy. God tells him, I've had my eye on you since before you were born. You are my prophet. I will send you, I will tell you what to say, don't be afraid, I'm with you. Now, your life's task, starting now as a young guy, is to prophecy over full-fledged nations and to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build, and plant.
No wimpy job for Jeremiah. No starting nice and easy.
So prepare yourself, Jeremiah. Is there a back door he can slink through right now? God lays it on the line:
Do not be dismayed before their faces,
Lest I dismay you before them.
It's all or nothing. It is time to man up and trust God completely.
(Funny, isn't it, how the Bible's definition of strength and wisdom and "manning-up" is to depend fully on God? But that's truth for ya!)
God then gives Jeremiah some strong backing. He says he's made Jeremiah:
-a fortified city
-an iron pillar, and
-bronze walls against the whole land
And then the last send-off before Jeremiah starts his work. I've never seen Braveheart, but this seems like a Braveheart moment:
"They will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you," says the LORD, "to deliver you."
And that's it. Jeremiah has received his call. His destiny. His task. His life's job. His empowerment (totally God and God alone). And he's off to take on nations!
It's like the beginning of an adventure movie. Only, like romantic weddings that segway into the trenches of marriage, Jeremiah's commission would lead him into the life of the mourning prophet.

Saturday, September 08, 2012


Last year I taught 1st grade Bible at a Christian school to a small handful of 1st and 2nd graders. The curriculum started with creation, moved through Genesis, skipped to the 12 spies, and then skipped to Saul (or something like that).

Being me, I couldn't stick with the curriculum.

Instead of just telling stories, we read through much of Genesis. Then we skipped along the surface of Numbers and Deuteronomy, dipped in for Joshua, and PLUNGED in for Judges. After all, I had boys in this class. And what's more exciting to a boy then reading the book of Judges? Especially the left handed swordsman and the guts coming out. :-P By that time we were behind (no, really?), so I was only able to touch Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, and Rehoboam before having to pull out and go to the New.

But since I had started reading and really THINKING about what I was reading so that I could read and explain and dramatize it for the kids, since I had started with creation and had worked my way up, and since I didn't get to spend hardly ANY time on David (which was just a shame), I decided to spend some time in Kings and Chronicles in my personal devotions over the summer.

It was such a blessing!

And now I've been reading Isaiah, with the full background of the time in which he was writing and the time preceding then. I repeat, a blessing!

I no longer teach at that school, but if there was only one thing I gleaned from that year (and of course there is much more than one) I know I gained a lot from teaching Bible to those kids. Because I actually had to think about what I was reading. I had to make it come alive to the kids, and in the process, the Bible came alive to me!

There is something to be said for reading the Bible chronologically and understanding the history. You start to see a pattern of who God is through how He interacts with His people.

You can tell we're created in God's image. We are feeling beings. We change. We feel frustration and imploring and anger and vicious love that will do anything to protect those we love and resignation and joy. We reason, we make statements, we beg, we pronounce, we promise, we talk. SO DOES GOD. God is so much higher of course. He is authority. And He can keep His promises without fear of circumstances subverting intentions. He does not beg because He's powerless like we sometimes do but because He cares and wants a heart response. More like wooing. He is sovereign and can decide fate. And He is perfectly just, which we aren't. He's consistently loving and faithful. It is in His nature to be faithful.
In our terms, He's a person. In His terms, we are in God's image. (On a finite, created level, and now imperfect/corrupted level.)
God is ridiculously faithful.
And human beings are ridiculously unfaithful.

Friday, September 07, 2012


When you hear the word "graceful," what do you think of? A ballerina moving across the stage gracefully? Someone from college named Grace who was crazy funny? Being full of grace?

I think of all of those.

The last seems most suited for applicability though.

We all want grace. We want people to show us grace when we mess up. We want the new aquaintance to look past our oops and ughs and give us a second chance.

But it can be so hard to give grace to others!

Because being full of grace is not only loving others. It's not only the act of extending someone extra time to finish something, extra leeway in meeting your standard, an extra smile when the joke fell flat.

Being full of grace also implies that grace is working inside of you. Full of grace. So full of grace towards others that my impatience gets squeezed out by grace. My frustration is overcome by grace. My selfishness is extinguished by grace.

Five Minute FridayJoin Lisa-Jo Baker at Gypsy Mama and tons of others who write on a chosen topic (this week was "graceful") for 5 minutes every Friday!

Saturday, September 01, 2012


That's the topic Lisa-Jo the Gypsy Mama has assigned her 5 Minute Friday peeps to write about. And I think I'm going to join. So the timer is set with currently 4 minutes and 12 seconds remaining.


I forgot that the rules were no backspacing. :) Ah well. I've been looking back at some journal entries from a few years ago. A lot has changed over the last few years.

I have less than 2 minutes, so I better say something significant fast. My boyfriend from a few years ago when all the CHANGE began happening in my family (truly) told me that I needed to figure out who I was. And only recently have I heeded that advice. I am changing into an adult, and I am changing by figuring out what my interests are. It is hard to pin down interests, because I know in a few years, or months, my interests may change.

And my time is up!

I think I need some practice blogging again!

Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for the impetus to put my hand back in the mud and form some words!


P.S. Some of the new interests I have that I hesitate to claim for fear that they will change just about the time they are established as MY interests are polka dots (including but not limited to 40s white polka dots on a red background and white polkadots on a black background) and French stuff. Which is definitely a CHANGE, since both my mom and my 2nd (last) boyfriend have/had no use for French/France. So I'll insert a pic above of my first French paraphenalia--an eiffel tower--given to me by a dear friend yesterday!