Monday, August 28, 2006

How do you find your calling?

This topic is always on my mind because I work with college age students who are in the throes of this process. It's one of the most exciting parts of my work.

I also have young children who constantly discuss what they want to be and do when they grow up. My son wants to be a chef and run a restaurant. My daughters want to live in Switzerland and in Greece. They all want to get married and be parents and even discuss who their spouses might be. Fun stuff.

I, too, am trying to discern what I want to be when I grow up. Yes, I seem grown up, but I think I am heading for my next phase of life. Aren't we all supposed to have several careers these days? I love my work, but I wonder if there is more for me. Would it simply mean a change in location? Doing collegiate ministry elsewhere--maybe even (gasp!) in the bible belt? Or do I really live out the perpetual student fantasy and go back for a doctorate--perhaps in educational psychology so that I can help others find their calling??? I sense that I am going in a circle here, which is good because a circle is a discernible pattern. According to the Identity Code I am supposed to look for patterns in my life to discern the DNA of my purpose.

So is my calling to help others find their calling? Do I really need to go back to school to do that? Or do I simply continue shepherding those God entrusts to me? Do I do that here or do we pick up our lives and move where the real estate is cheaper, and we can perhaps be truly out of debt? I have my children for only a season and I never want to lose focus on them. They are my most important responsibility and I am grateful for a husband who is so intimately involved in their lives.

I know that I am obsessing over a transition that is at least one to two years in front of me. And yet, I want to know!

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.

Micah Girl

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This Heavy Silence

This first novel by Nicole Mazzarella has won critical acclaim and awards: Library Journal, Christianity Today and the Christy Awards all laud it.

It's a beautifully told story, honest and raw, simple and sad, ultimately redemptive but never cliche. Really, really good. I finished it last night and couldn't sleep as the characters swam around in my head.

It's the kind of first novel everyone dreams of writing-honest and literary, acclaimed yet humble. Lovely.

Micah Girl

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Everlasting purposes

Words of wisdom from one of my favorite blogs, My Writers Group:
Charisma sells, yes. But that charisma needs to derive from your core passion, whatever that is. And don’t accept any less—from anyone. If you really want to change the world, start there.

Alright? So I’m thinking this should apply to the way we view the world, this broken, twisted-up, decaying piece of rock hurtling through space. We need more Christians who understand this, their specialness that’s not about uniqueness. Use your piece of the eternal to affect the present. And when you write, think about the effect you’ll have on generations in the future of your dedicating not to what’s unique, but what’s everlasting.

Read the whole post here.

I want to focus myself on purpose that has everlasting effects. That's what matters.

Now to discern the next step--there's the challenge.

Micah Girl

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Busy-ness begins

I am involved in long meetings this week to prepare for the new collegiate ministry year. Lots of new people working in our region of the country. Lots of challenges for various ministries--people leaving, assimilating newbies, personal crises, etc.

I am starting to get out of my relaxed, Sabbath-like, hakuna matata summer routine and am beginning to return to structure. I have two settings in my life: High-Speed and Off. I need to get ready for High-Speed.

I will continue delving into the Identity Code over the next couple of weeks and blogging my answers. I have a new worker coming in that I need to orient and prepare for ministry here. I am so looking forward to getting back into the homeschool groove with my kids. This week their papi is the primary teacher because I am out of the house, but during the year I carry most of the teaching responsibilities. My husband's going to be busy, busy, busy, too with work and full time graduate studies and homeschooling whenever I am working. Although at this time of year my stomach is usually in knots, overall I feel quite peaceful. I pray that this unrushed spirit (even if my life gets rushed) will stay with me.

Last year at a conference I heard a phrase that has really stayed with me: Hurry is the enemy of holiness. I am seeking to heed this wisdom and nurture a gentle and quiet spirit, no matter what lies ahead of me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I hope to persevere in quietness and strength.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15
I want some of that.

Micah Girl

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Most Memorable Achievements (& Failures) Identity Code, Post #3

Now I am looking for patterns by listing some of my most memorable achievements, as well as a couple memorable failures.

Most memorable achievements:
1. Finding the love of my life and having a really good marriage.
2. Graduating seminary.
3. Being a mother of three.
4. Getting into acting school at NYU.
5. Doing things that scare me, such as improv comedy.
6. Moving to Ireland by myself just out of college.
7. Learning Spanish, not perfectly, but I can carry on a serious conversation with my mother-in-law.
8. Bouncing back from a broken heart more than once when close friends died too young.

Most memorable failures:
1. Getting involved with the wrong guy before I met the right guy. I so wanted to be loved that I settled. I learned lots about relationships and grew up emotionally, but made many, many mistakes!
2. All my corporate jobs in my 20s, especially corporate recruiting AKA headhunting. What was I thinking? I am not motivated by money alone! Then I did admissions for a very expensive secretarial school. Ick. Then recruiting for a temporary placement agency. Not fulfilling. Finally job placement for people with severe disabilities--I was in over my head although I enjoyed the people I worked with. I did enjoy interviewing people and affirming their gifts in all of these jobs.

Overarching theme from achievements:
Facing my fears and doing something I wasn't sure I could do. Not settling for the ordinary or the expected!

Things I have enjoyed even in situations I haven't loved:
Training others, inspiring others, teaching others, affirming others...

I have been playing with the idea of getting a doctorate in Educational Psychology. That could fit in very well with my overall pattern in life and the things I love. (My seminary degree is a Master of Arts in Christian Education, but I imagine I would still need to do lots of extra course work before I could start the PhD work.) I wonder what interesting doors that might open. Hmmm....a possibility.

Micah Girl

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Identity Code, post #2

Why I love the things I love.

Reading and writing:
Beauty, truth, knowledge.

Cooking and nutrition:
Creativity, nurturing, hospitality.

Community, shepherding, nurturing, casting a vision.


Uncovering how people tick.


Sharing wisdom. Empowering people.


Connection, intimacy, family.

Language and culture:
Bridge building


Information. Connection. Wisdom. Learning.

Overarching themes:

Underneath it all---creativity, connection and community. I think those might be my themes, my underlying passions that drive everything I do.

I need to think about this some more to see if this is really it, or if this is what I wish were really my thing. I'm wondering, am I fooling myself?

According to the author: "Suspending disbelief liberates you." So I need to suspend my disbelief and go with this process... Perhaps when I revisit this later it will seem clearer if it's accurate.

As I look back again at my list I also see truth. That connects to my passion for ministry, for analysis, for knowledge, even for humor...

Also nurturing and shepherding. Those are my pastoral gifts. My mothering talents. My teacher's passion. My vision-caster's purpose.

Maybe I need to be thinking about discernment itself. My ability to read people and to lead them. To offer counsel and encouragement. To show the way to others. I am very intuitive and trust in my gut quite a bit, as well as being able to keep a lot of things tucked away in my brain for future use. That's why I love word games--I excel at them. That's why I like talking to new people--I can find bits of information to connect to them and make them feel comfortable.

Now I've got so much information, I don't know what to do with it. Where do I go from here? I want to figure it all out right now!

Did I forget to mention that I am impatient?

Micah Girl

The Identity Code

I have just started reading this new book by Larry Ackerman called the Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose and Place in the World. I picked it up at the library and am finding it very engaging. Although it is not written from a Christian perspective, it is very respectful of spiritual and religious commitment as part of one's identity.

I am always looking for ways of knowing myself better and also for tools to teach others to do the same. Also, since my husband and I are so serious about looking ahead to a move in a couple of years, that means I should reconsider my career and where exactly I should go next. I may get an opportunity to reinvent myself completely or perhaps more truthfully, rediscover my authentic self in a new setting and challenge.

Hee-haw! (I've become re-addicted to country music again lately. A funny little habit I picked up as an undergraduate in NYC. Go figure.)

The first question and exercise has to do with Who am I? and encourages you to visualize yourself as separate from everyone else, including those you love and admire. I believe this is something I always have known. I've always felt alone in my own skin, different than my family, my friends, my peers, my coworkers. Even now I am a woman in a male-dominated denomination and ministry and know who I am. I'm a homeschooler--not a mainstream choice. My family is bicultural and not white bread typical Americana. So I skipped the first exercise. I may like these kinds of books and exercises, but never feel compelled to fill out every little requirement. (Rebel.)

On to the second question: What makes me special? I am supposed to identify the things I love doing most in order to unearth the passions that define me. Cool. One of my favorite topics: stuff I love.

Name the things you "love"--and love to do.

Reading and writing: Books, magazines, blogs, websites, the bible, bible studies, bible commentaries, theology, great novels esp. 19th century British, nonfiction of all types.

Reading aloud to my kids or anybody's kids.

A pile of books on my bedside table. Current news magazines. Health and nutrition mags.

Beautiful writing. Authenticity. The kind of writing that rocks the way you think about the world. Great picture books. Classic tales.

Cooking and nutrition: Finding the healthiest and most delicious food for my family and friends. Making salads. Baking bread from scratch. Baking cookies with my kids.

Cooking from scratch and modifying recipes to be healthier and more delicious. I don't like to be told what to do or to slavishly follow someone else's recipe!

Ministry: Creating community. Teaching the bible. Making relevant, practical applications of Christian spirituality to contemporary people. Mentoring younger ministers. Supervising the work of ministry. Setting a vision.

Humor: Doing and watching improvisational comedy. Garrison Keillor. Rowan Atkinson.

Psychology: How people learn, personality tests, insight into relationships, vocational counseling.

Education: Teaching Conversational English, teaching bible studies, teaching literature, having educational conversations with my kids, taking classes, learning new things, integrating new information into my life.

Relationships: Talking to younger women about love and marriage. Romantic movies (good ones, not cheesy ones). Reading about marriage, sexuality, fidelity. Reading about homeschooling, building a close family, helping kids to find their way and their purpose in the world.

Language and culture: Learning another language. Understanding cultural differences. Being able to connect with someone about their culture. Making someone feel welcome. Traveling.

Talk: Intelligent and witty talk radio (NPR, Lake Wobegon, What Do You Know?, This American Life) Intellectual conversations about things that matter. Great plays. Shakespeare. Games: crossword puzzles, Taboo, Guesstures, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, etc.

I will come back to update this list later because I am sure there are more areas I've not yet found. I also need to discern the whys and the themes.

Micah Girl

Friday, August 11, 2006

Weight loss at least a little

I have been working hard since the beginning of the year to build healthy physical habits for myself. Most mornings I wake up and work out--either weight training or something aerobic with a DVD, and I have been watching what I eat carefully without going on any crazy diets. Although I have slimmed up and toned up, my weight was pretty static although sloooooooooowly going in the right direction. While we were on vacation and walking and swimming just for fun, I lost nearly four pounds seemingly overnight. So since January of this year I have lost eight pounds total. Although it's been a painfully slow decline on the scale, this is the kind of weight loss that stays off, because I am not messing up my metabolism and I am building muscle. I am encouraged.

I have read every smart book out there on metabolism and lifestyle change and am moving away from wheat (as much as possible) and trying to convert only to whole grains. I am increasing fresh fruit and vegetables (which is yummy, if a bit expensive) and getting radical cutting out the sugar and looking for it hiding in everything. I am starting fish oil supplements which are good for the heart, the skin and the metabolism, and would like to start eating salmon, but it's so pricey!!!! Chicken I can get cheap...salmon is another story. I am also increasing the green tea and limiting the coffee. I have so much more energy and feel younger and am praying that I will continue in this new discipline.

I turn 39 this December and if all goes well, my 40's will be the fittest decade of my life so far.

Micah Girl

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's most important thing in the world to you?

This is a question for would-be writers. What is the most important thing in the world to you? Write about that...that is your topic.

Off the top of my head:

Living out faith in Jesus Christ
Marriage and true love
Teaching and education
Finding your calling
Spiritual freedom
Joy and contentment in all circumstances

Are these the themes of my life then? My desire to write has never gone away my whole life. Blogging has been sparse this summer because I needed vacation! But now as I look ahead over the next one or two years I am seeking a way into more writing so that if and when my husband and I transform our lives with a move to Charlottesville, Virginia (or some other place) then I will have some writing to fall back on as my vocation. I know that sounds crazy since it is notoriously hard to make a living writing, but I want something I can do at home that's creative and not in a corporate setting. If we leave this area and I leave my ministry position, I want to see if my ministry could take shape in a whole new way.

Lord, guide my steps. Let me hear you ask me questions and let me trust in you to know what to do!

Micah Girl

Mrs. Real Live Preacher

There is a new blog that promises to be interesting: Sum of the Parts. (It is written by the wife of Real Live Preacher) She is a chaplain, a mom and so much more. Check it out!

Micah Girl

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The imminent return of routine living

As the summer begins to wind down, I am praying that God will allow me to pour all of my wonderful relaxation into momentum to face the challenges of homeschooling, ministry, shepherding, mothering, loving my husband, reaching out to my city and loving those around me. I have rested deeply, napped frequently, relaxed to the deepest reaches of my sabbath-hungry soul, and now I am facing the routines of my life with a renewed confidence that God is in charge of it all.

Help me, Lord, and guide me into every good thing for Your glory.


Micah Girl

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