Monday, June 29, 2015

Mountains, Snakes, and Broken Trees

We are closing in.  I have the bookmarks that will go into the donated books designed, I will print them this week and we will laminate them and get the ribbons in them at the "Mailing Party"! Kimberly just informed me that her inbox has a bajillion confirmation for the books that she ordered! Her house is going to look like a used bookstore for the next week!
Next is to collect addresses.  I have none, so I should definitely get on that. I heard it is helpful when doing a mailing.

My husband just returned home from Montana, stay tuned - he is on a little bit of a "don't you think we should move to the mountains and raise cattle and get a 4-wheeler" kick.
My answer is very much - do they have snakes in Montana?  Yes?  Well, then "No, I do not think we should move to the mountains....."
We shall see how this ends.
He is smart though, because he knows what really gets me thinking, so he let it slip that the mountains are full of life applications. Oh.....I mean of course I knew that, but this one is really, really, good and it did sort of make me think what it would be like to wake up and look out my back door and read and talk to Jesus under the shadows of his mountains.
However, snakes...and the general lack of people or stores or cities or roads or cell phone service....I'm still leaning heavily on "ain't gonna' go willingly"
- but this one was very good -

He told me that while he was hiking in the mountains, he was surrounded by brokenness - broken trees, dead animals, broken rocks - but as a collective piece, the mountains were beautiful, majestic even.

I closed my eyes and tried to imagine it - you know what I saw?  Us.
Broken.  Stepped on.  Hurting.  Lost.
And I stepped back and I looked at us together, and it was breathtaking.
We are beautiful - majestic even.
Because in our brokenness, not in spite of it, but in it - there He is.  Holy - good.  Life giving.  And together, everything broken and everything burning with life is part of a very whole picture. A picture full of hope. A picture that points this world to a Savior, who we desperately need.
And as Eric pointed out, even the brokenness becomes part of life - the trees fall into the river and the fish have the food that they need - the animals die and become nourishment for other animals and for the soil.  Our brokenness unfolds into His grace and other people's stories.
God's plan is so perfect. He did not neglect one thing in His story of redemption and hope.
His love is so powerful.
Yes, we are all broken.  Now close your eyes and see us because in His story, we are all breathtaking to behold - beautiful and majestic.
We have a story to proclaim to the world.  Let is start with - He is real!
T-minus 8......

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"When I try, I fail..." Corrie ten Boom

"When I try I fail, when I trust He succeeds."  Corrie ten Boom.
Oh, how I would have loved to meet this woman. 

We are ever nearing "mail date".

It is surreal.  My to do list is long, but so is my energy and my awe.
So many have helped.  Another friend, Kimberly, has stepped in to purchase the most books she can get with the money that has been donated.  I am so grateful.  And right now, so calm.
So unlike myself really.

I read Corrie's quote today and it jumped out to me because - I have tried.  I have tried.  I have tried.
It used to be one of the things I would pride myself on.  A "try-er" - until it looked like I was going to fail of course, because at that point I most certainly became a "runner" - and then even more, a "hider" from the shame of it all.

Oh - I have tried.
And there was no end to it.
It wasn't good enough to succeed at first because failure was lurking around every corner.  I might have started well, but I would have to keep going - keep being better - because there was always more trying I knew I should be doing.

But then, even in my effort to avoid it, I would find myself failing at the other things on the list: peace, joy, patience.  always failing.  always falling.
I couldn't understand the freedom that Jesus spoke of.  I couldn't bear the weight of hope.
Drowning. So often, the feeling of drowning.

The thing that baffles me is that right now, I don't feel much of that, for the most part, I have peace.   I have hope.  I have freedom.
Freedom to be excited even.  Freedom to ask for help - even freedom to write about this whole thing - which I realize intellectually exposes me - but I don't feel its weight.

My dream is about to be tested, but I don't feel panicked.
Lord, God - do you understand how in awe I am of who You are?  Do I understand all that You have put in front of me, all that You have walked me through?  All that You have prepared me for?  
I have no clue Father. I cannot begin to grasp the scope or the power of Your love or of Your plans.  

My dream is about to be tested in that I have always wanted to write and speak. But, perhaps because I have lived a little more, I deeply understand that my identity is not being tested.
And, right now, by the grace of God, I am not trying.  I am following.  And when I look around, there is quite a crowd joining me and we are all following.  Desperate to get the word out dear Lord that you are Real.  You are interested. You are moving. 
And Dear Jesus, our sweet Savior, you are so worth moving for. 

 Another day closer.
T-minus 14.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Red Thread Binding

Another big God is Real Project thank you to Jordan Lyons, who  is sewing all of the sample booklets we have had printed with red thread. (They look amazing!)
The binding is in honor of the time that Corrie spent in solitary confinement.  To do something other than talk to ants, she slowly pulled threads out of her sweater and used it to sew some color in her gray cell.

The red thread binding is: 
  • An acknowledgment that even in that place, God is real. 
  • A tribute to the courage Corrie lived her life with. 
  • A way to say thank you  because her courage still breathes courage to us. 
  • A reminder that even in that kind of loneliness, Truth will hold us together.  
I am so excited for women to read Corrie's book with this study.  My hope in writing it is that we will not just hear her story and think, "She is amazing."  But we will hear her story and wonder, "If God was real for Corrie Ten Boom and that is the same God that I love and serve - then .... is He that real for me ... and what does that mean?" 

Consider what happens if we all really let ourselves enter in to those questions.

I am sometimes so overwhelmed by His realness that it nearly hurts.  

And other times, I am overwhelmed by five kids, dinner prep, and a husband who is gone with work for two weeks. 
And other times I am overwhelmed with the pain that my friends are carrying, and the daunting call of living in this world.  
And other times, I am so busy I don't have time to overwhelmed by anything. 

I am so excited for women to read this study because in those other times we all need someone to remind us what this is actually all about.  To believe for us when we are too tired, too scared, too full of our own selves to see this God who is real and moving and calling us to His love.  

Thank you Jordan for all of your love and support and for being that reminder to me so often.  I am so blessed by this ever growing list of people who are making it happen. 
God this is for you and because of you....
T-minus 21  - Bring it on! 
with love - j.l.mikel

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beautiful Red Ink

I was taught in college, while studying to be a teacher, that red ink is harmful to a student's psyche and that when correcting papers, you should use green or maybe even blue, which do not generate immediate feelings of wrongness and shame.
I suppose there is a lot of good psychology and study put into that point, and using multi-faceted ways to correct is just fine - not my point at all.

My point is that tonight I get to read a copy of God is Real, fully edited and marked to the nines with beautiful red ink (well actually, beautiful red font, but ink just sounds so much more poetic). I have prayed for help editing this book because every single time, I open the document to look for mistakes like spelling errors and run-ons, I end up doing an entire rewrite.  And, while that is a good part of the process, at some point you have to stop, and get someone else's objective eyes on the copy.

Then a friend introduced me to Tina Schieferstein; the woman with the glorious last name and years of editing experience.   Tonight, Tina sent me a copy of God is Real finished and ready for me to read through, and it is full of beautiful red ink - and the power of reading the study through someone else's objective eyes.

I do not want to sound over spiritual, but can I make a link to real life here - (**Life Application Alert**)  We do not need to be afraid of red ink.  We do not need to be ashamed.
I have lived so many years of my life afraid of someone else catching my mistake before I had a chance to fix it.  It was subtle, but it was also consuming.

I didn't just contain this mindset to my work, it started to spill over into my marriage, my parenting, my friendships, and most quietly, my relationship with God.  I was so afraid to fail.
I kept praying to God to confess about my weakness and my fear and my wrong attitude - and to thank Him for His love and His grace.  And then I would ask Him to help me get better and I would promise Him that I would work harder.

"Please, don't check my paper yet; I just need one more day to make it right"...."Please let me know when you are coming home from work; I just need one more hour to get the house in order"..... "Please don't need something else from me; I just have one more thing to finish first." "Please"...."Please"..."Please don't look yet - I'm not good enough."
I mistook red ink for disapproval and disappointment, a sure sign that next I would hear the thing I thought to be true all along, "You were almost someone worthwhile Jodi....I was almost able to use you....If you only could have been more...."

Here is the irony, the red ink was to show me that I needed Him.  In all of my effort to be better, to do more, I had started to believe that needing Him was the failure.
That is not the life that Jesus came to give.

And today, a few years older, I thank my gracious Lord that I can know, Tina's red ink is not shame; rather, it is hope.  And engaging in the "less than perfect" will lead me to the One who is perfect - the only One that can make me perfect - In His love - By His blood - and for His glory. Amen!

Mail Date is soon folks - T-Minus 23 days - Let's do this thing!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's a Group Project!!

Out of the hands of many, this project will take flight!

Let me tell you a little bit about our "marketing" plan. On July 7 we are going to mail a God is Real package to fifty women's groups.  This package will include: Unit 1 of the study, a copy of Corrie TenBoom's The Hiding Place, and a pamphlet outlining the study and directing people who are interested to a website. Our hope is that several of the groups who have a chance to review God is Real will decide to use the study.

Before we mail out the packages then, we are going to need is fifty copies of The Hiding Place.  In an effort to make this more affordable, my first thought was to go to a local bookstore and ask them for a discounted price or a donation. That wasn't proving as effective as I had hoped and my mom came up with an even better idea.

My mom usually does.

She said we should ask fifty people to donate a copy of the book, and I thought, Yes!  Yes, we should do that!!  I got geekishly excited about the idea because it is such a beautiful picture of this project and such an honor to give to Corrie's legacy and her memory!

I imagined us rummaging through second hand stores and saving copies of Corrie's book and then putting the story back into circulation so the world can hear and remember again!  Then, my friend Tina upped the perfectness of the whole thing and said anyone who donates could leave their name, their city, and the year on the inside cover of the book for the next person who would get to read this story.

I love it.

Everything about it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my "life application" song is going off like fireworks in my brain! It is said that when Corrie traveled to speak she would pack one suitcase full of copies of her book, not because she thought that she was so wonderful, but because she believed that her story; the evil and the pain even; could be redeemed if people understood and believed that Jesus was alive.

When all of us work together to get her books out there, it is like we are part of her army - and she is part of His army - and He is at work; and we are all in this together.  And I love it.

Maybe I am a little ideal; but I think we can do this.  I will begin collecting copies of the Hiding Place - starting now!  If you would like to donate a book, new or used, you can bring it to New Vintage Bible Church any Sunday morning through June and leave it in the God is Real Basket I will soon work to create.  You can also leave a comment below or on our Facebook page, or email me and we will work out the details of pick-up.

Peeps - it's on!  I'll post updates so we can celebrate together as the books begin to come in!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lawyers and other "author-y" things!

A BIG SHOUT OUT to the latest in a quickly growing list of people who are helping!

Saturday morning I had coffee with a lawyer.  It was all very official, and I LOVED it!  I also loved that this girl, this Megan Gruennert, was so willing to come and to sort through my chaotic rambling in order to help me figure out what we need to do to keep moving forward with the plan for God is Real.   Megan is a tax lawyer, which sounds pretty intimidating, but she showed up with a composition notebook!  She's brilliant, speaks real English and is incredibly helpful - not to mention funny!  I had a great breakfast and was so encouraged to see God move and put people into place. Thank you Lord!!!  Thank you Megan! And I am excited about our next coffee date sans composition notebooks and technical terms!

<Imagine for a moment you are looking at a really cool picture of Megan's business card, overlapping my to do list.  Imagine that photo is artistic and angled all cool.  Imagine for a moment the one writing this blog also has the ability to do things like take that really cool picture and insert it onto this blog.  You get the picture.>

We are getting an LLC peeps!  Mark it off on your "This is really happening list"!! so fun!

How gracious for God to let me just be one piece in this ever growing machine.  In fact, I just got off the phone with a dear friend who is going to help with the binding of the booklets!

More "author-y" fun; tonight I received an email from the women who is donating her editing experience to help us with one final clean up of the study.  I was writing to her about flow and copyright and reworks - it makes me a complete nerd, but I love it.  I am pinching myself because this is really happening.

And then, even better - so, so much better - she shared that the message in the unit she edited were what she needed to hear.  It doesn't really matter if this all works - the marketing plan, getting word out, keeping a blog - because it is working, right now, for her.

I so believe that this is real, that God is Real!  That life is about Him - so one conversation that draws someone to His feet - truly has the power to change everything; to begin a trajectory that cannot be stopped.  How do you sit still when this is what the hope is?    

I am going to keep doing updates on where we are at with publishing and getting the booklets toward the mail.  We are moving closer and closer to linking the pdf so you can print your own copy of the study! Thank you for believing in me and encouraging me to keep moving forward. one shaky step at a time - let's do this thing!

Stay tuned for the next announcement - it's a big one, and it involves you!!

Truly yours,

Jodi L. Mikel