Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve Prayers for Mercy

I am sitting in my comfortable, lovely home with plenty of warmth, food and milk for the kids in the fridge, plans to go to First Night celebrations throughout the city, and the lovely free time that comes when my beloved college students are away and we are enjoying the holidays. And as I think about the world and what is happening, my heart is so heavy. And I pray for mercy.

Heavy on my heart:

Child Soldiers in Uganda

It's not that I was totally ignorant of what was going on, but I have never before read in such detail how very evil and self-perpetuating these particular atrocities are. Please read this even though it will break your heart.

Far Reaching Ministries is one glimmer of hope in this region.

Also heavy on my heart, our lack of unity in the church universal:

Tell me why people pick and choose their favorite issues? If Jesus died for the whole world and if the bible clearly talks about transformation of individuals, households and entire communities as well as the judgement of the same, why do we view the bible through our individualized pet project lenses? I was reading this morning in Malachi about who is going to experience the judgement of God:

I will be a ready witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:5

Now the conservative among us may concentrate on sorcerers, adulterers and liars. The liberal among us may concentrate on economic justice, the oppressed and the aliens. And the prosperity gospelers jump ahead in the book to take the following verses out of context:

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD Almighty, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:10-12

Why is it that the only time I have heard Malachi preached on it is about tithing? There is so much more here than that. And when I hear it preached about on television, it is not only about tithing but about investing your money with God, so that you can make a monetary profit. That's obscene.

But there is hope in the promised messiah who judges the wicked, and brings together a people of His own who are healed:

"But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet," says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 4:2,3

A Christmas Carol inspired by the pages of Malachi to bless you on your way:

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His Wings.
Now He lays His Glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"

Heal your world and your people, Prince of Peace. Your kingdom come, your will be done, Heavenly Father.

Micah Girl

Monday, December 26, 2005

Why I am a friend of Emergent

I consider myself a friend of Emergent...

not because I think Brian McLaren's every word is inspired and canonical, but because he makes me think and examine my faith.

not because I think that ancient-future is the next great marketing trend to draw numbers of college students, but because I think that Christian history is rich with truth and practice which has much to teach us.

not because I am a slave to relativistic postmodernity, but because I think we need to missiologically engage our culture which is postmodern, just as those before us engaged a modern culture with the gospel.

not because I agree with every theological viewpoint posted on every "emerging church" blog, but because I think that conversation grows faith, it does not diminish it.

not because I wish to compromise the gospel, which is the center of my faith and practice, but because I wish to communicate it holistically to a culture which is parched for living water.

Micah Girl

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Night Before Christmas--Latino Style Cute, although my children are not allowed to speak Spanglish--only English or Spanish.

Bible not a jigsaw puzzle...

The Bible is not a jigsaw puzzle: a new approach to the New Testament by Frank Viola at the Ooze, thanks to a post by Scot McKnight. How many more links can I add to one post?

Last night we had a Christmas dinner for some friends and eleven of us polished off a twenty pound turkey. So much for my plans for leftovers. I'll be lucky to get soup out of it.

Anyway, Merry Christmas. I have baking and wrapping and sledding to do today, as well as pancake batter to make for breakfast at church tomorrow. After that we head off to my family's for Christmas and more presents for my children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins than should be legal.

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo.

Micah Girl

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Silent Night, Merciful Night

A simply lovely story about an actor and the Christmas story.

Paradigm Shift #2

A continutation of notes to myself as I study a great resource: 10 Paradigm Shifts Toward Community Transformation

2) From Measuring Attendance to Measuring Impact

Size only tells you how many people are attending events or count themselves as part of an organization. The church, however, was never intended to be a club, but instead a tantalizing taste of the kingdom of God right here on earth. The kingdom of God does not fit into a box, or a building, or a sub-culture--instead it is the eternal, cross-cultural, multi-generational purpose of God.

Every Christian pays lip service to the fact that the church is not a building, it is the people of God--a sent people. If indeed we are sent, why have we not yet gone? We are to be a bright and salty witness to a dark and tasteless world. Jesus' life as recorded in the gospels indicate that he was deeply involved with sinners and outcasts, the forgotten, the infectious, the poor, the oppressed. He confronted the complacent religious people with a life changing message of the Kingdom of God. Some of them heard, and some of them found it quite uncouth.

In the last three years our church has grown from five to ten (when my family of five joined) and now is up to about fifty. That is a sign of health and growth. However, if we fifty are not directly impacting our neighborhoods, workplaces, college campuses, and city then what are we accomplishing? Potential areas of need are endless: public schools, homeless shelters, city politics, recent immigrants, shut-in elderly, crack-addicted prostitutes, foster children forgotten in the system, adolescent boys facing the lure of gangs and the drug trade, pre-teen girls who value their sexuality above their self-worth, the hopeless, the infinitum. This can be overwhelming, but I think that is because we are focused on our own sufficiency and not God's calling. God's calling encompasses not just my little church, but all of God's people in this area. There are specific ways our fifty are being called to invest; now the task is to discern that specific call.

It is the same with collegiate ministry. That challenge there is not the passion needed to make a difference, but the follow-through. My students are extremely serious academically and busy with many different interests and pay lip service to being salt and light to the poor (it's hip) but how much time do they spend doing anything about it beyond a short-term missions trip or an occasional community service opportunity?

And what about me? I make phone calls and send emails when prompted by the ONE campaign or Sojourners. I treat homeless people and prostitutes with respect when we cross paths and shake their hands and look them in the eyes. I teach my children to pray for the poor and displaced (we had plenty of opportunities in the recent hurricane season.) I have in the past volunteered occasionally with a soup kitchen and later welcomed some of the guests into my church and maybe even once into my home for a meal. Am I fulfilling my call? I tell myself that part of my call is to impart a socially conscious faith into my children and my students, and that is my community impact. But am I missing something? I honestly don't know.

There are those among my conservative brothers and sisters who wonder if all this "social justice" matters. Evangelism...that's what it's all about! I am all for evangelism, but isn't the kingdom of God even bigger than getting souls into heaven? And who says that the only way to preach the gospel is with a quick recap of Jesus' life leading to the sinners' prayer? Again, I can point to one time in my life as a teenager when I prayed the sinner's prayer and gave my life to Jesus. But as I look back I realize that it was the community of faith I had around me that really brought me into faith, carried me up to the point that I was ready to give my life to Jesus.

"Perhaps, in this century, the greatest apologetic for the reality of Jesus Christ living in a community will be observational more than propositional. To have a faith that can be observed is to be living out the truths we want others to grasp and the life of the Savior we want them to know." --Eric Swanson

Micah Girl

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My tongue-in-cheek parenting philosophy is up at Christian Carnival #101 hosted by Bible Archive among a surprising amount of other entries at Christmas time. Be sure to check out Why Christians shouldn't wear burkhas an ode to feminine beauty.

Micah Girl

Ezra Jack Keats

The best thing about reading to your kids is the literature. Ezra Jack Keats beautiful urban landscapes and gentle prose are some of my favorites. My 5 year old son loves to read these stories, and I love to read them to him, especially the Spanish translations. Since the vocabulary is kindergarten level, I can read them fluently. When I don't get flustered, I have a pretty good accent. It's always fun when we are at the public library to see people taking surreptitious glances at the gringa reading Spanish storybooks to her kids.

Micah Girl

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Paradigm Shift #1: From Building Walls to Building Bridges

Notes to myself re: 10 Paradigm Shifts Toward Community Transformation

1. From Building Walls to Building Bridges

A simple, yet radical idea: Can we be in the community transforming it, or do we hole ourselves up in our "holy" community and stay out of the mess of the city or the campus? Are we willing to become agents of transformation? Are we willing to do what it takes to serve others, not expecting them to come to us? Are we willing to ask the question that Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas did and ask ourselves, “What can we do that would cause people to marvel and say, ‘God is at work in a wonderful way for no one could do these things unless God were with them?’”

Would we then become a bridge building church? A bridge building college ministry? And how about as a family--how are we going to build bridges to other families, neighbors, homeschoolers and friends for the kids? In our culture walls are always safer than bridges. Are we willing to go out there?

Thoughts: As I go through these ten paradigm shifts, I might be able to use them as a basis for our weekly college worship services and/or leadership training.
Micah Girl

Monday, December 19, 2005

Parenting Philosophy in Verse

My parenting philosophy
(For those with curiosity):
Raising your kids will never be
a life without adversity.

From the first moment that they place
That tiny bundle near your face
Your leisure and your private space
Forever gone... without a trace.

Each special child that you raise
Will thrive on Cheerios and praise.
Although admirers may gaze
At your sweet brood, do not be fazed

When they quick-change their angel smiles
For devilish and impish wiles--
Not only jump through laundry piles
But spread their toys for miles and miles.

Like an old mop you may feel wrung,
Or like a creaking swing all swung.
Remember though to hold your tongue
While these, your little ones, are young.

Antics wild and quite outrageous
From child to child are contagious.
What's the skill most advantageous?
Constant prayer--now stay courageous!

Micah Girl

10 Paradigm Shifts

10 Paradigm Shifts Toward Community Transformation is a must read for anyone interested in being church and not doing church. It is written by Eric Swanson of Leadership Network. Following are the paradigm shifts, but you've got to read the article to hear the real-life examples and the biblical basis behind it all. Great stuff!

1) From building walls to building bridges.

2) From measuring attendance to measuring impact.

3) From encouraging the saints to attend the service to
equipping the saints for works of service.

4) From “serve us” to service—from inward to outward focus.

5) From duplication of human services and ministries to
partnering with existing services and ministries.

6) From fellowship to functional unity.

7) From condemning the city to blessing the city and praying for it.

8) From being a minister in a congregation to being a minister
in a parish.

9) From anecdote and speculation to valid information.

10) From teacher to learner.

Micah Girl

Small things

The best things are always the small, ordinary things--

1. My haircut! I asked the hairdresser to chop off 10 inches and then we would figure out what to do with it. She then gave me the best haircut I have had in years. And for only $11. Go figure. (Neither of my lovely daughters had 10 inches to give without extremely short haircuts, so they are not giving to Locks of Love this time.) If indeed I look ten years younger as some of my friends have told me, then my husband (just over the edge of 40) is now married to a twenty something.)

2. Our neighbors. We have recently had some new neighbors move in, so we invited nine of the houses on the street to a little Christmas Open House yesterday afternoon with cookies and hot drinks. I was so afraid we would be eating our cookies all be ourself. We had two families come: a Colombian mother and father, two kids and their abuelita, as well as a young, engaged couple. The young woman, Lauren, actually brought us a personalized snowman family ornament with the names of my husband & me and all three kids. Talk about thoughtful. And our immediate neighbors, two young doctors expecting their first child, didn't come by during the open house, but stopped by later to apologize for not being able to come. Our neighbors know us by name now, and we might even be able to become friends. No small feat in the city.

3. After the Christmas holiday we will be off to visit one of my oldest friends and her family for a few days in New Hampshire. She and I made our commitments to follow Christ the same weekend in our teens, we maintained our friendship during our education at separate colleges, and then through our twenties as she was married with kids, and I was single and searching for my future. Once I got married and we both moved in separated geographical directions, our visits became less frequent, but we always pick up where we left off.

As I start to look towards the New Year, I want to keep my focus on the little, humble moments.

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
and the pleasant land.

So the little moments,
humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages,
of eternity.

Julia Fletcher Carney, 1845
Published in the McGuffey Reader

Micah Girl

Sunday, December 18, 2005

5 Random Facts--You're It!

I just found out that I have been tagged to list 5 random facts about myself by Dawn.

Now let me see...

1. I trained to be a serious stage actress, back in the day

2. I worked as part of an improv comedy group for over a year

3. My husband & I took a three week honeymoon in Europe

4. I just received an exercise ball from my parents for my birthday, and am very excited to start using it.

5. I am usually reading at least three books at once in addition to my bible--a homeschooling book (such as Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery, A Journey of Original Seeking by David Albert), a book on ministry (Eugene Peterson is my current favorite, and I am finishing up both Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work and Leap Over a Wall, Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians Reflections on the Life of David) and a random fun read from the library (Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop is a recent example.)

Okay, many people have been tagged so far. I am supposed to send this off to five more. If you are reading this and have not yet been tagged, that means you're it!

Micah Girl

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Locks of Love

My 7 year old and 3 year old and I all have hair appointments this afternoon. I am chopping off all my hair and giving my 10 inches to Locks of Love. My 7 year old did this last year, and I don't think she has enough to give again. My 3 year old probably has enough to give, but she is complaining now that she does not want her hair cut.

We shall see how it goes...

Again, Santa, if I only had a digital camera, I could post before & after!

Micah Girl

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The prayer that never fails...

Jan Karon is a good friend of mine, at least I feel like she is. I have just finished the last book in her Mitford series, Light From Heaven. I began to read this series because I heard that her portrait of the small town Episcopal priest had inspired pastors in their work. And Father Tim does just that for me. I love him! The fictional town of Mitford, NC is inspired by Karon's hometown of Blowing Rock, NC.

The author was a successful advertising executive who quit her job in the prime of her career to finally write her novel. And then, thanks be to God, the first book At Home In Mitford lead to the most charming series of books. She's sort of a Southern, Episcopalian, female Garrison Keillor.

Throughout the books she often refers to praying "the prayer that never fails" whenever Father Tim or someone close to him is facing a seemingly insurmountable situation. When I first heard the reference, I was desperate to know--What is this prayer??? Then a few chapters later she lets us know that it is this: Thy will be done. I have been praying that a lot the last few days.

Our church is looking ahead to some good changes because of growth and health, but change is never easy, especially for the flock. I am praying for my pastor that he would have wisdom and discernment and would know how to lead us through these changes. And I am praying the prayer that never fails.

I also pray this prayer when I am overwhelmed by deadlines, heartsick at someone's pain, frightened of where things are going, or desperate for someone I love to know the love of Jesus in a real and personal way. Thy will be done, Father God, according to your mercy as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What situation in your life today needs the prayer that never fails?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Attention my homeschooling friends...

Old Schoolhouse Magazine has a promo going on where you can get lots of free stuff if you are a new subscriber to their magazine. Click here to see it.

I will be getting my stuff soon in the mail and think I might have to give some away to my local homeschooling group.

In exchange for my own free subscription and new subscriber gifts I have agreed to blog about all upcoming issues of the magazine and the placement of their banner on my website. I have read Old Schoolhouse before, and I like it.

Micah Girl

Monday, December 12, 2005

What is the Gospel?

A great article to check out at Next Wave by Scot McKnight. I want to go study at North Park just to take one of his classes.

Micah Girl

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Invititation to Tea with Mr. Tumnus

My oldest daughter accompanied me to the collegiate ministry pre-screening of Narnia on Thursday. She wore the Lucy cape, dagger and potion that we gave her for her birthday and received many comments from the crowd. She is a beautiful child with a face that is innocent like Lucy's, and it was almost magical to look at her all aglow after the movie because she had been to Narnia.

She loved the movie even though it was a bit intense in parts for a 7 year old. I would have been more emotionally involved myself if I had hadn't been watching over my sensitive child to see if the White Witch's troll was too frightening or if she could handle Aslan on the Stone Table. She's read the book through at least once so she knows the plot, but to see it on the big screen is a different thing.

I loved it. My students all seemed to love it. There were dozens of students there that I have never seen before that were invited to our events next semester. I was able to fill the theater with paying customers, so I will make a little extra on the event that I can put towards missions. All in all a good outreach.

But Narnia is not over for me! Tomorrow we have 30 people at a Narnia party for daughter's birthday. The budget is modest so I've decided to do a tea menu--sandwiches, sweets, finger foods, lemonade for kids, tea for adults. Also I need to find a pinata (not very British) and stuff it full of candy. And I have a house to clean, and much to do. So it's off to get ready for tea with Mr. Tumnus (who was so charming in the movie.)

Micah Girl

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Help me techno-geniuses!

Okay, now I was trying to update my sidebar with blogs that I read and I somehow totally messed up my sidebar. Where do I look on my blogger template to fix this? I can't read html except for the simplest things.

Thanks in advance!

Micah Girl

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


My eldest turned seven yesterday, and she is all about Narnia. We're having a big shindig on Sunday for her and it's going to be Narnia-themed. She's going to get to see the movie tomorrow with about 200 college students in a special pre-screening. We are looking forward to it!

And today is my birthday. I turn 38 and feel younger and more energetic each year. (Not that 38 is old!) I think my children, my college ministry and my cute, loving husband keep me from feeling as if I am sliding into middle age.

And here is my gospel birthday meme which I have been holding until my special day. (The first two seem so violent and the last two seem more like personal and intimate messages.)

Matthew 12:7
7If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.

Mark 12:7
7"But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'

Luke 12:7
7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

John 12:7
7"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. " It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.
Micah Girl

Christian Carnival #99

Christian Carnival is up at Attention Span.

I found a new toy among the entries! In Matt Jones' post No Christmas For You! he uses a church sign generator.

Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Some Thoughts on Real Sex by Lauren Winner

This book is a must-read for anyone in the church who is a sexual being…which includes everyone, of course. I have just finished up a book study with a small group of college women as we worked our way through this beautiful, transparent teaching on the spiritual discipline of chastity…a long-neglected topic in our sexualized culture.

Some of the memorable take home ideas:

o Chastity is a spiritual discipline meant to be lived out in community.

o How we conduct ourselves sexually forms who we are as people.

o Our struggle with living chastely parallels our spiritual struggle for faithfulness to God.

o The passion of falling in love and remaining committed in a life long covenant of marriage is a parallel to God’s everlasting love for us.

o Our perfect model of humanity, Jesus Christ, lived his life as a chaste, single person, and whether we are single for a season or a lifetime our life is to be lived in passionate devotion to Him.

As we finished up our study I highlighted a few verses from Song of Songs as an encouragement to my group. I urged them to respect themselves and their sexuality and to rely on Christ to live a life that glorifies Him.

I prayed a benediction over them that went something like this as we finished:

As you go from this place, devote yourself to God and his overwhelming love. Remember that your vineyard is your own to give. Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

If indeed God has called you to the covenant of marriage, find someone who is your brother in Christ with whom to share your life. Someone who will not only be your lover, but also your friend. As his wife your lifelong goal will be to become in his eyes the one who brings contentment.

May the passion of your life be God’s glory in all of your relationships, and may your most intimate relationships cause greater devotion to God in all who witness them.

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you, the Lord turn His countenance upon you and grant you His peace.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Proverbial advice to a son

Although my darling boy is only five, he is gorgeous, like his father, with brown skin and a winning smile. He is deeply sensitive and knows his way around the kitchen. He is also all that you might expect from a boy--he's all about Star Wars, knights in shining armor, football and baseball. He's going to be quite a catch.

As I look over Proverbs 31, with which I have a love/hate relationship, I want to look from the viewpoint of a wise mother giving advice to her son--who is quite a catch. This is the royal advice that a prince who would be king received from his mother.

(My paraphrase)

My boy, birthed from my body, little image of your father...
don't waste your energy chasing women and hooking up in meaningless encounters.

You're meant for so much more and that kind of recklessness is not meant for a man who has great purpose.

And don't spend all your time with the boys, either, drinking and carousing and partying. It's a waste of your time. You have a future, not like those who drink to forget their hopelessness. You were meant to make a difference in the world and to work on behalf of the powerless, not make yourself powerless with alcohol. Don't forget to be the voice for those who have no voice, and to work for justice.

Do look for a suitable wife--but search hard and have high standards. You need someone who will challenge you to be all you should be. A woman really worth her salt is hard to find. A woman you can trust is worth more than flashy jewels. Character is long-lasting and such a wife will be good to you for the rest of your lives together.

Find a woman who is hard-working, who knows how to care for herself and others. She's the kind of woman who will do what it takes to keep things going. She knows how to manage others, how to manage money and how to make a good business deal. Find a woman who is energetic and knows how to persevere.

She should not be only concerned for herself and her family, however. She should be generous and hospitable, caring for others who are in need. She is prepared for hard times and thinks ahead.

A woman like this makes you look good, and her hard work will enable you to succeed as well. She is creative and entrepreneurial, and together you will be a mighty team.

A woman like this doesn't need an expensive wardrobe, strength and dignity clothe her and prepare her for whatever comes with her sense of humor intact.

You need a woman who is wise and knows how to teach others. She needs to take care of the household and to work hard. Your children will respect such a woman and you had better let her know of your loving affirmation as well. "There are many great women out there, but you, my love, are the best!"

Sweet talk can lie and a pretty face and sexy body don't last forever, but a godly woman deserves your praise. Speak well of her always, and let everyone know that your wife lives a life of works dedicated to God.

Micah Girl

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Friday Five (on Saturday)

Here are my RevGal Friday Five answers:

1) Do you display a nativity scene, and if so, where?

My freshly cleared mantelpiece is the site for our collection of nativity scenes. I painted the living room a daring and gorgeous shade of terracotta orange (very Latin) and was wondering how it would serve as a backdrop and it really works. If only Santa would bring me a digital camera I would post it for you. We have in the center a traditional ceramic nativity with plenty of angels. On the sides are our other holy families: a German-looking holy family , a musical holy family with assorted angels and a small Salvadoran wooden nativity scene. It's very Christmas-y and very international.

2) Do you put a skirt under the Christmas tree? If so, what does it look like?

I use a lovely red & green linen table cloth as our tree skirt. It covers the tree stand and gives a richness to the tree.

3) Do you hang lights on the house or put them in your windows?

We have lights on our front stairs--white and blinking.

4) White lights or colored lights on the tree? Big bulbs or the small, pretty ones?

Small white blinking lights on the tree--very elegant.

5) Do you have a tree topper? What sort? Who puts it on top of the tree?

Our tree topper is a white, laser cut paper angel made by Hallmark, a gift from my older sister. She's cool in a funky sort of way, and I put her atop the tree. (The angel that is, not my sister.)

Queen Hatshepsut

Do you know who she is?

I didn't until my daughter and I were reading A Child's History of the World this morning, and we discovered the she is the earliest known female ruler in history--she was a pharaoh. We were pretty impressed, and she went directly on our timeline in the Book of Time !

Micah Girl

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