Friday, December 30, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new

2011 is quickly coming to a close. I made some resolutions and it's time to see how I did on those.

1. Lose weight. I think 15 pounds would be doable and would help A LOT!  No.
2. Get organized. Not so much.

3.Sell a crocheted item or two, or more! I did a LOT of crocheting for gifts but didn't try to sell any.

4.Cook four nights a week, and cook different things! Sometimes but not consistently.

5. Read 25 books this year, and document them on this blog. Success! I read at least 30. List to come...later!
6. Blog twice weekly. Nope.

7. Attend a genealogy workshop. Summer, perhaps? Nope.

8. Memorize scripture. A little, but not much.

9. Do something different. Try new things. Zumba, pottery, Bunco, wool spinning...just a few of the things I'd like to try. THIS I did! Yay me.

10. Get back on the Financial Peace train. No.

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."


Moving on to 2012.  I have five goals for this year.

1. Improve my physical well being through healthy eating and exercise.
2. Continue growing in my Christian walk. (2011 saw lots of growth, but some setbacks.)
3. Continue my creative pursuits- writing, crocheting, sewing.
4. Make my home a peaceful place through organization, decluttering, and sticking to a budget. Welcome people into my home to share in that peace.
5. Read 50 books.

I have some ideas about how to carry this out. I will try to blog more, reporting on my specific goals. I have also selected a passage of scripture to use as my guide this year. 2 Peter 1:5-7 says, "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (ESV). I think that verse speaks to the need to be intentional about  your faith walk- not leaving things up to chance but to work toward building and growing your faith.

The first directive says  "giving all diligence add to your faith virtue" (KJV) or as the NIV says, "goodness." The Amplified Bible notes that virtue includes "excellence, resolution, and Christian energy." I think that this has to drive all of the resolutions on my list. I have to seek to add virtue to my faith, to be sure that the things I strive to do are NOT for selfish reasons, but to be a better Christian and to more closely align myself to the will of God. None of the rest is possible if I lose sight of that. That will be my first step toward accomplishing my other resolutions.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Musings

It's that time of year when we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child. In years past, I have foud myself spending this blessed time being sad, angry, depressed, and resentful. The obligations placed on me by the world have overtaken the joy extended to me through the miracle of Jesus. I'm making a pointed effort this year NOT to allow myself to become distracted by the busy-ness and the materialism. I refuse to lose sight of true generosity and hospitality. This year, I'm changing the tone of the season at my house. Gifts should be heartfelt and not given out of obligation. I shouldn't attend functions that I don't want to attend...my time should be spent anticipating the wonder of Christmas, not dreading the drudgery.

So, my pledge this Advent season is a renewed focus on the true meaning of the season. I'm aiming for daily posts on this topic, along with practical ways I'm going to make this real in my life.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 7, 2011

October is done...and I was not productive!

I'm not even going to revisit the list from last month. I failed miserably. Not gonna beat myself up either. Moving on. Here's what I am going to do- new month, new goals.

November's List:
1. Participate in the Do Not Depart challenge (there's a link on the right side of my blog!) to memorize chapter 8 of Romans. I should have verses 1-9 committed to memory by month's end!

2. Hit the gym. I have to.

3. Maintain order in my house. This means going back to night time and morning routines.

4. Cook more.

5. Make handmade Christmas gifts for teachers and family/friends.

Doable, I think. More than this would set me up for failure.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One week in, updating the goals!

Here's how I've done with my goals for the month of October to date...

Household
1. Wash shower curtain and bath math, deep clean bathroom.
2. Declutter living room. (Partially!!!!!)
3. Fall decor on table and outside.
4. Create and follow a cleaning checklist (a la The Fly Lady)
5. Clean out fridge.

Personal/Spiritual:

1. Get back in the gym!
2. Keep a journal.
3. Be a better friend. (Not sure how to measure this, but I'll know:)
4. Finish Feminine Appeal and Capture His Heart: Becoming the Godly Wife Your Husband Desires- and practice what I've learned!
5. Continue my quest to hear and obey God's will in my life and produce tangible results from doing so.



Family:

1. Weekly devotional/teaching times with the kids.
2. Begin a devotional/study with John.
3. Prepare healthy meals at home at least 4 times a week.
4. Plan Audrey's birthday party...make it great, but economical!
5. Keep the kids clothes organized and outfits laid out every day

Monday, October 3, 2011

Goals for October

You can search this blog and you'll find LOTS of times when I've set goals, drafted resolutions, and created grand plans. It's the beginning of October, and today starts the beginning of my three week Fall Break, so it seems that now is a great time to set some goals in motion! I'm linking up with www.simplyrebekah.com to keep me accountable!

Now is also a great time to revisit my New Year's Resolutions and update the progress on them.Here's what I declared in January. In red, you'll see my updates.

1. Lose weight. I think 15 pounds would be doable and would help A LOT! Twenty five would be awesome, but who am I kidding? UMMM....next? Nothing to report here.
2. Get organized. I can't make this one more specific. Any improvement in this area would be welcome. It seems to me that this whole exercise in goal setting and action plan designing speaks to this resolution. I've done better this year, but still not where I should be.
3.Sell a crocheted item or two, or more! Nope. But I have made more fun things in general. We'll see!
4.Cook four nights a week, and cook different things! Sometimes, I do this. Other times, we hit the drive thru. Oh well.
5. Read 25 books this year, and document them on this blog.Easily on track to do this, if I haven't already.
 6. Blog twice weekly. Good until summer hit. Maybe I'll do it again!
7. Attend a genealogy workshop. Nope.
8. Memorize scripture. I think a verse a week is doable. I haven't done this.
9. Do something different. Try new things. Zumba, pottery, Bunco, wool spinning...just a few of the things I'd like to try. They are all "fun" things, so why not? Zumba, yes.
10. Get back on the Financial Peace train. I think it ran me over during the holidays. :) Not really...

So, now, here are my OCTOBER 2011 GOALS...

Household:
OY! So much to do...so little interest in doing any of it!
1. Wash shower curtain and bath math, deep clean bathroom.
2. Declutter living room.
3. Fall decor on table and outside.
4. Create and follow a cleaning checklist (a la The Fly Lady)
5. Clean out fridge.

Personal/Spiritual:
1. Get back in the gym!
2. Keep a journal.
3. Be a better friend. (Not sure how to measure this, but I'll know:)
4. Finish Feminine Appeal and Capture His Heart: Becoming the Godly Wife Your Husband Desires- and practice what I've learned!
5. Continue my quest to hear and obey God's will in my life and produce tangible results from doing so.

Family:
1. Weekly devotional/teaching times with the kids.
2. Begin a devotional/study with John.
3. Prepare healthy meals at home at least 4 times a week.
4. Plan Audrey's birthday party...make it great, but economical!
5. Keep the kids clothes organized and outfits laid out every day.


Feel free to chime in and give me advice on how to get it all done!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Praying in Color

Last week, I stumbled across a book at Cokesbury entitled Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth. You can check out her website in the link above to get a gist of the book, which I devoured in one sitting. I had been searching for a way to enrich my prayer life, and by enrich, I mean keep me awake while I pray. This is it. I'm not much of an artist, but I do like to doodle, which is the premise of Praying in Color. I've been keeping a journal and adding to it as I continue to pray for people and things in my life. I've enjoyed adding this new dimension to my prayer life.

I haven't been blogging regularly since the spring, but I hope to get back into it soon. I've felt very spiritually confused and disconnected, as I have posted before. I'm getting back on track, though. It's been a tough process, though. Lots of spiritual "pruning" involved, some of which has been painful. I appreciate my friends, though. Those of you who have been praying for me, who have encouraged me, who have supported me. I pray that you'll see some changes in me as I continue to yield to God's calling on my life. My heartfelt desire is to commit my whole self to God. Pray for me as I listen to Him and learn to say yes to Him.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Inconvenient

I heard a really good meditation today about inconvenience, about how inconvenient it can be for us to do what God calls us to do. It really hit home with me. For a year or so now, I've been feeling God's pull on my life to do something. I've not yet figured out what that something is, but I'm starting to get a  bit more clarity. And what I am seeing would definitely not be convenient.

When I spent some time thinking about this, I began to realize that no one ever produces great results for God by doing only what is convenient. In fact, when I look at the heroes of the Bible, none of them took the easy route. All of them were faced with challenges and forced out of their comfort zones, but if they had not said yes to God's call, they would have made no real impact. But they said yes with total abandon.

I was really convicted by this. I can recall countless times when I didn't say yes. It didn't fit my schedule. I was too busy, too comfortable, too lazy, or too stubborn to do what God called me to do. I needed a detailed outline of His plan, in 12 point font, presented at least a month in advance in order to clear my calendar and even consider committing to something. And, if I was going to step out on faith, it would need to be something I was good at and that I wouldn't make a fool of myself by trying. On the off chance that I did say yes, it was really more like a maybe. Maybe I'll do it, if it is easy, if no one steps on my toes, and if I don't have to give up much of my time. Yes- when it is convenient.

For some reason, God has been persistent with me. Instead of passing me over and moving on to someone with a more willing heart, He kept softening mine. He put me in places and with people who could encourage me to do more, to push past my boundaries, and walk in total security that God's plan is way better than mine, even when I can't see it all or it doesn't make sense. Or, if it inconveniences me a little- or a lot!

So, I'm ready to say yes. To whatever it is. Yes, with abandon. Yes, with all of my soul. Yes, even if it is inconvenient. Just yes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Doubt

I haven't written a single blog post in two and a half months. I haven't had anything to say, and I am not exactly sure why. Well, I could offer a couple of reasons, but really, I have no excuse except that I've fallen into a dark place where I'm surrounded by doubt and negativity. It's hard to write from here.

It all started when I let someone's careless words hurt my feelings, and then I let that spiral into doubting myself and my mission. I'm still living in that cloud of doubt, but I'm working through it. I'm trying really hard to surround myself with people who support me, who want the same things I want spiritually, and who can help me find my way through this place. I'm learning more about my self and the way I think, and I've learned that I have to accept the fact that I am powerless to change other people. I can influence, inspire, persuade, support, cajole, but I can't change them. I can't make them see things the same way I do. I can't make them care about the things I care about.

So, all that said, I'm going to do my best to get out of the hole I'm in and to kill the doubt. More posts to come....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Checking in...

I've been off the blog beat for a couple of weeks. I have been super busy at school, plus I have been going through some stuff at work that has been really distracting and challenging. I haven't had a clear enough mind to be able to construct a meaningful blog post.

Things are tough for me, but they aren't unbearable, and they will get better. I've had to put my trust in the Lord and lean completely on Him. I'm beginning week 8 of my P90:12 plan, and I have found a great deal of comfort from the things I've been reading. I've been spending a tremendous amount of time in prayer as well. I know that God has a plan to pull me out of the funk. He will set my feet on His paths and help me follow after Him.

I will continue to seek God's will for my life. I may be off and on with the blog, but know that I'm just allowing Him to use me as he sees fit.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why bother?

Some people wonder why they should bother with Bible study. They think it is outdated, inaccurate, irrelevant, too time consuming, and too confusing. I disagree. I think it Bible study is essential to living a life rooted and grounded in Christ.

Here's what Proverbs, THE book of wisdom, has to say about those who ignore the word of God:

"Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”  (Proverbs 1: 28-33).

Now, I'm not big on the use of threats to get people to buy into religious concepts. That's not my point. I just think that it makes sense to realize that rejecting God's advice and ignoring Him when He points out the sin in your life has a natural consequence. You reap what you sow. Being complacent-choosing not to hunger and thirst for righteousness, but to keep doing only what you wish to do- will destroy you.

A relationship with God isn't a one-sided thing. He's not our genie in a bottle, here only to grant our requests. He wants to dwell in us, to shape us and refine us, and to use us for His service. It requires our commitment and a willingness to allow ourselves to be transformed by His grace and His teaching.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Woah. That's totally righteous, dude.

Last night, our Bible study group read the Beatitudes, and got stuck on the one that says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." I asked the question, "What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? What does it look like?"
 
We struggled to establish a definition for righteousness. Some associated it with being "self-righteous," which I related to the Pharisees- those who put on the external appearance of having religion through the law, but in doing so, failed to rely on the power of God's grace. Here's what the dictionary says that righteous means-characterized by, proceeding from, or in accordance with accepted standards of morality, justice, or uprightness. In other words, doing what is right and good. That's a good thing to hunger and thirst for, don't you think?

The Bible has a LOT to say about righteousness, and I tend to think the Biblical description shifts some of the perspective from doing what society accepts as good and right to doing what GOD says is good and right. Synonyms for righteousness that are found in Biblical reference are holiness, Godliness, and integrity.

Here are some scriptures to consider:
  • Job 29:14 "I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban."
  • Psalm 33:5 "The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love."
  • Isaiah 33:5 "The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness."
  • Isaiah 51:8 "For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.”
  • Ezekiel 18:26 "If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die."
  • Amos 5:24 "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness
  • Romans 3:22 "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
  • 2 Timothy 4:8 "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
So...what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? I think it means to crave God. It means to seek after Him and follow His ways, to yearn to be closer to Him. What does this look like in someone's life? I think it means that a person seeks total transformation. They seek repentence in Jesus, turn from their sinful ways,  and earnestly live in relationship with Him. It isn't something that we can accomplish of our own will or in our own strength. That is self-righteousness. True Biblical righteousness comes from Jesus.

I think Phillipians 1: 9-11 sums it up nicely."And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God." The bold and italics are mine, but the words are from Paul, a righteous man if ever there was one.






 
 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 25, 2011

On the menu this week

Spring break was lovely, but it derailed my organized life. I was in a great groove of planning and cooking meals at least 5 times a week. I was a coupon clipping diva. I was tracking my points on Weight Watchers, working out 4 times a week, and losing weight at a reasonable pace. I had it all together.

And then, three weeks of blissful, unstructured break, and POOF! All gone!

I've gained my weight back, thanks in large part to the fact that I've been eating out almost every night because I didn't take the time to plan my meals. I threw out food that went bad because I was too lazy too cook. I missed the gym almost all of last week because life got in the way and I just didn't make it a priority.

To top it off, I've been in a very cranky mood because of all the chaos, which has yielded even more emotional eating than normal, which has created that cycle that I hate so much.

This week, I've got a better handle on things. I made time to plan my meals, thanks to E-Mealz. We're having Mexican skillet pasta tonight, tandoori chicken tomorrow, mango salsa tilapia Thursday, and dijon chicken Friday night.

I've set my schedule to include Zumba at least three times, probably four. I've planned my outfits out for the week to save precious time in the mornings.

Hopefully, we'll all recognize a positive change in my attitude, a negative change in my weight, and a general overall glow about me.

Let's go with that.

Cracked cisterns

I am on my fifth week of my 90 Day Bible reading plan. I have missed a day or two along the way but am mostly caught up. I've found areas that I really enjoy reading and others that I've struggled through.

In addition to much of Psalms and Job, here's what I've completed:
Genesis
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
Isaiah
Matthew
Mark
Romans
1 Corinthians


Right now, the "prophecy" section I'm in is Jeremiah and I really have been getting a LOT out of it. I hate to say that Isaiah was a struggle for me- but it really was. Jeremiah is full of things that I can apply to my life, and it has brought a lot of answers to things I've been struggling with. In Jeremiah 2: 13, I read this last week:  “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Jeremiah was relaying God's message about the Israelites who had continued with their destructive pattern of wandering from God and worshiping false idols.

I think that verse has major implications for the church today, too. People are thirsty for God's word, but rather than drinking from His living water, they search for it on their own. They dig their own cisterns and get no water from them because they are like a seive...the water slips right through. Just like the Israelites, they call out to God when they are suffering, but then wander away again when they get what they need. They follow after messages that are easy to hear and require little sacrifice. Those false doctrines or idols that are pleasing to us are nothing more than cracked cisterns. Can we expect our thirst to be quenched if we drink of anything other than Living Water??

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grace and Truth

Last night, our Bible Study class began a new study focusing on Biblical truths. We talked a lot about absolutism, relativism, and subjectivism...and determined that we fall somewhere in between absolutism and relativism on most things.

One of the topics we discussed was the balance in truth and grace. Are we super legalistic about things? Or, do we have an "anything goes" philosophy because we claim grace? Both ways are dangerous, we decided. Living a life of do's and don'ts reduces God's power and makes it much more difficult for us to be in true relationship with Him. Having no standards isn't right either, as we are called to be set apart from the world.

So, what on earth are we supposed to do???

The key to finding balance between grade and truth is to be in relationship with God. Romans 8:1-2 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Jesus released us from legalism. Following rules and doing the right thing won't justify us; only grace will. He calls us to live a holy life, but provides grace for those times when we fail. . When I get angry or jealous, or I say something I shouldn't say, or withhold my love from my neighbor,  He will forgive me.  Now, I shouldn't take advantage of that grace, but it is there- and it is plentiful. Forgiveness is a daily necessity. I can't earn it, I can't repay it, and sometimes, I can't even understand it, but I know that it is true.

God's grace is an outpouring of His love for me. His unbelievable, unending, unconditional love. It's a gift and He wants us to accept it. He desires a relationship with each of us. No matter how terrible our sins have been, His grace is deep enough to cover them. There is nothing about me that is good enough to deserve God's love and grace. That's a hard thing for a lot of people to accept. I think it's hard for a lot of us to digest the fact that Jesus loved us so much that He went to the cross to sacrifice for our sins. We tend to see all the bad we've done and think we're unlovable and unredeemable. Not true! Romans 8:38-39 tells us, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I started by talking about absolutism and said the folks in my group and I decided that we fell somewhere in the gray area of all the black and white on most issues. Well, that's still true in a lot of respects, but one truth I can accept without hesitation is that of grace.  I've seen it at work in my life, and it continues to amaze me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adopting a new mantra this week.

As much as I've hoped it might, the clock has not frozen today. Time marches on, and tomorrow will bring the first day of a new quarter of school. I'm still not adequately prepared but I'm working on it. I've pulled my head out of the sand.

In order to prepare myself for what lies ahead, I've adopted a new mantra to repeat when times get tough this week. It is Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

I'm not giving up on my prayer that God will reveal the middle of the puzzle to me. I'm still sure that there's something at work that I'm not noticing because I can't see past the nose on my face. So, instead of letting this get me down and depressed and wallowing in the woe that is me, I'm going to focus on the verse. I won't become weary in doing good because AT THE PROPER TIME,  I will reap a harvest if I don't give up.

Did you notice what I noticed? AT A PROPER TIME. That doesn't mean by midnight tonight. Or by June 10. It means in HIS time. And to a God of eternal proportions, my timeline is pretty minuscule. Who knows, maybe tomorrow, as much as I dread it, will bring something to light that makes this puzzle make more sense. I just have to keep my eyes open and focused on Him, not on me.

God is good, all the time. Even when I'd really like Him to hurry it up, He is good!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Check out the Purple Dress Project

A few months back, I was visiting another blog, saw a post by another commenter, and clicked on her link. I scanned her blog and found references to Crohn's disease, so I began to read. Ashley, author of A Hasty Life, is a young woman whose life has been altered by Crohn's much like mine has.

This month, she's raising funds and awareness for Crohn's disease through the Purple Dress Project. Pop over to her blog and check it out. She's wearing the same purple dress every day this month, chronicling the adventure with pictures, and posting daily facts about the disease. She's a doctoral student in textiles and has a great sense of style. She's rockin' that purple dress!

I've provided a couple of links for you but her blog is always in my "Blogs I Read" list, so she's easy to find.
Kudos to Ashley, and kudos to you for checking her out!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord!

Standin' in the need of prayer. I bought the boys a new CD of fun little religious songs, and that's one of them, and tonight it applies to me.

I go back to work on Monday.  When I think about it, my chest gets tight and I want to throw up. It isn't that I hate my job. Really. I've just lost my fire for it. I feel very strongly that there is something else I should be doing, and I suspect that it is all a part of God's bigger plan for me. Some of that is being revealed to me, little by little, but it's like working a big puzzle- I've only got the edges put together. The big picture in the center is still in pieces waiting to be figured out. And, you all know, waiting drives me nuts!

Here's where the prayer part comes in. I need you to pray that God will continue to reveal His plans for me, and that I'll have a heart and eyes that are open enough to recognize it. I need you to pray that I'll have enough faith to walk down that path, even though I already can tell that it might be scary, it might be unpopular, and it might be difficult. I need you to pray that I'll be strong enough to handle the opposition and the challenges that come along. I need you to pray that I'll be obedient no matter what.

I know that God is mighty and can do more than I imagine possible. I've seen Him work before, but usually it is in the lives of others. Now, I'm beginning to see Him working in my life, and it is amazing- and terrifying! I appreciate your prayers and your love! You guys are the best!!!

XOXO!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Psalm 90:12 Adventure

Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Hold on to that verse for a second. I'll come back to it.

Most people have heard of the exercise program P90x. It stands for Power90Extreme, and is a rigorous fitness and diet program designed to produce significant results. I think that's great if that's your thing. Clearly, it isn't mine. For me, "intense" and "physical" don't belong in the same sentence. I'm loving Zumba, but that hardly qualifies as "extreme."

I have decided to embark on a different kind of 90 day adventure. I'm going to read the Bible in 90 days. I thought I'd be really cute and call it B90x, but someone else already did that. So, I'm going to call it P90:12Adventure, in reference to the verse above. I'm numbering my days as I read through God's word in order to gain a heart of wisdom.I'm on Week 2, day 4, which is approximately 12% complete.  I began on March 27. My estimated date of completion is June 24, which my 34th birthday!

Here's what I'm doing. At my Emmaus Walk, someone gave me a "Read Through the Bible in a Year" plan. I adapted it by breaking it into 13 chunks. This particular plan appealed to me because, unlike some other 90 day plans, it doesn't have me reading in order. I have tried those plans before, and the prospect of 27 chapters of Leviticus in a row doesn't work for my ADD brain. My interest wanes and I give up. However, knowing I only need to do a few short readings in those heavy, complicated books and then I can move on to something more "fun" keeps me motivated.

The structure for this plan is:
Sunday: Gospels
Monday: Law
Tuesday: History
Wednesday: Psalms
Thursday: Poetry
Friday: Prophecy
Saturday: Epistles

So far, I've read Matthew 1-22, Genesis 1-31, the book of Joshua, Judges 1-16, Psalms 1-23, Job 1-8, Isaiah 1-22 and Romans 1-8.  I'll try to post some updates on here, as well as things I'm learning as I go.

If you'd like to accompany me on my P90:12Adventure, leave a comment w/ your email address or email me at elly.gilbert@gmail.com and I'll send you a copy of the plan!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Priorities

I'm still stewing over many of the things I learned on my Emmaus walk, but one of the things that I'm really wrestling with right now is the concept of priority. I *thought* my priorities were clearly defined. I had a pat answer ready if anyone asked me what mattered most in my life. However, when I examined my life a little closer, I realized that my answer didn't really match up with the way I was living.

For example, the first thing I tell most people about myself when we meet is that I'm a teacher. I don't say, "I'm a Christian mom to three fabulous kids and wife to an amazing husband." I say, "I'm a teacher. A working mom." The emphasis in my real answer is on work. Now, my job is and should be important. But should it define me? NO. Evidently, though, it does, because I have a hard time talking about my life without dredging up my career. And, when I look at the hours I spend at work, thinking about work, planning for work, dreaming about work...it far exceeds anything else in my life. That is a problem.

My first priority should be serving and worshipping God. Some may say that I serve through my career, but I know that isn't really true. If anything, it becomes an obstacle to service. I am drained at the end of the day and I can't participate in true acts of service because I'm exhausted. I often feel called to work in different ministries, but don't have the energy to follow through. Work makes me bitter,too; I resent the time and effort I put in to lessons that go unappreciated. My light doesn't shine like it should because I'm grouchy, tired, angry, frustrated, and not giving God the attention He deserves in my life.

I also know that work is  an obstacle to loving and serving my family the way I should. Again, a lack of energy keeps me from playing with my children in the evenings like I should. I try to cook and serve a family meal every night, but sometimes I just can't. I have meetings and work-related obligations that fill my nights. I have grading, planning, and other "homework" that diverts my attention. I'm not present with them like I should be.

I know this. What am I going to do about it? I'm not sure yet. I know what my priorities should be. I want them to be as such. However, making that happen might require a major life shift. A new way of life, a new way to fill my days.

I am praying that God will make me obedient to His will in my life. I want to hear His voice and follow. When I search the scriptures for examples of this, it always seemed that God asked His people to do things they thought they couldn't, but they did anyway, and He pulled through. Maybe I know what He's asking me to do and I just don't want to say yes yet. Maybe I'm afraid.

Here's my prayer for today, that God would fulfill His promise from Proverbs 2: "If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God." I pray that God will show me the insight I need. I will seek it as a treasure. I will apply my heart to understanding His will.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reflections on my Walk to Emmaus

I promised reflections about my Walk to Emmaus. I'm going to try to do my best with this post, but, honestly, I'm not sure that words will do it justice. Yes, I am speechless. Don't get used to it!!

For those of you who haven't heard about the Walk to Emmaus, click on this link to read more. It is basically a three day spiritual renewal retreat, but it was a lot more for me. My wonderful sponsor, Joan, took me to Wilmore on Thursday evening. I was able to see many of my old Trinity Hill United Methodist Church friends, and met my roommate. We got "oriented" and the weekend began. I was still pretty clueless as to what to expect. And, for once, that was okay with me.

Thoughout the weekend filled with various talks, prayer, and worship, I got to know the ladies at my table quite well. We shared a lot of laughs, personal stories, and tears. I started learning more about myself and my relationship with God, as well. A lot of the things I realized can't be verbalized, or at least I am finding that hard to do, but here's one big thing I got, and I *think* I can convey it in writing.

The scripture that relates the original Walk to Emmaus is found in Luke 24:13-35. Just after Jesus's death, two friends were traveling out of Jerusalem toward Emmaus,and they were discussing the horrific details of the crucifixion. Jesus came along side them and talked with them, providing them with the answers to all the questions they had about what had happened. However, these two men didn't recognize Jesus. They arrived home and invited the stranger in to dinner, and suddenly, as Jesus blessed the bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, but he was gone.

My whole life has been spent on that road. I've studied, discussed, learned, and had those God moments, but I have been too blind to see how the love of Jesus has been working in my life. I saw it this weekend for the first time. I knew my parents loved me, my husband loved me, and a few of my friends did too. However, I don't think I really believed that most people loved me. In turn, I kept a big wall around my heart, and didn't love others the way I should, since I doubted their sincerity towards me and didn't want to be hurt.

This weekend, I really saw the love of God...from friends, family, and complete strangers. My eyes were opened. I've been changed. I want to show love to everyone. I want to build my spiritual life and become the person that God intends for me to be.

Now, I went into the weekend hoping that I would get some revelation about what God wants me to do with my life. I didn't really get that.  I'm still as confused about that as ever. However, I'm okay with that. I'm just trusting that He'll lead me to the plans He has for me.

I think the Walk was one of the most significant things I've ever done. I would encourage anyone else who wants a deeper relationship with Christ to consider going. I'd be glad to answer questions for you.

As we sang on our walk, "De Colores!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm baaaaack....

So, I'm back in the land of the wirelessly connected. Thursday through Sunday, I was at Asbury Theological Seminary for a Walk to Emmaus retreat. I'll post about that tomorrow when I have had time to think about what I want to say. It was amazing, but I want to say more than that. I just don't know what I want to say yet!!!

Anyway, I'm home, have all my kids back with me, and I'm going to get back in the groove of life.

Eventually.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A new day

Spring break has broken. A new day has come. After a really stressful and emotional day yesterday, I am able to enjoy a little rest today and regroup a bit. I spent a long time in my devotional book today and studied some scriptures that have put my worries into perspective.

I should probably get Philipians 4: 4-7 tattooed on my arm so that I can glance down at it every time I get myself all worked up like I did yesterday.  "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

That passage does two things for me. First, it convicts me. Gentleness? Yesterday, my gentleness wasn't evident to anyone. I think it had gone ahead and taken an early spring break, maybe skipped the country. I was that cranky. And did I rejoice? Sure...about  8:30 last night, when I was finally home, scarfing down some Rice Krispies. But I mostly rejoiced because the day was over, not because of the blessings of the Lord. So, when I read these verses, I am confronted by some serious short-comings that I need to take to God in prayer and ask for His help to overcome.

The other thing this passage does for me is that instructs me about what I should do when I'm having one of those days. Don't sweat it. Pray about it. Ask God for peace. That last little bit is an awesome promise for me. God's peace will guard my heart and mind. If I trust Him, turn my worries over to Him, ask Him for guidance, He'll insulate me from worry. He'll wrap me up in a big old blanket of peace. Love it.

Does this mean I'll never worry again? Nope. I will. But I can always flip back to this passage as a reminder of what God will do if I just ask.

Monday, March 21, 2011

One of those days

I'm having one of those days. I'm grumpy. I'm finding fault with everyone and everything. I don't want to be at school. I'd like to crawl into a dark hole and hide for the next six hours or so.

I know that's totally wrong of me. Really, I do. I know I should be celebrating so many things, such as..
  • At the end of the day today, I'll be on spring break for the next 20 days.
  • My family appears to be over the ridiculous stomach virus that kept on keeping on.
  • Thursday, I'm leaving for a three day retreat, or Walk to Emmaus.
  • I've lost five pounds and a few inches in the last few weeks.
  • The sun is shining and it is supposed to be warm today.
But no. Not me. I'm not celebrating. I'm wallowing in misery. My students have mentally checked out. They are wild and think I should just go right along with their shenanigans. To be really, really honest, I'm questioning my purpose at work again. I don't feel like I'm doing anyone any good and that I spend too much energy on self-pep-talks just to get through the day. I'm frustrated and ready to throw in the towel, but I'm too much of a chicken to really do that, and I KNOW this, so daydreaming about what I could do, or how life could be doesn't even help!

Ugh.

Yep. One of those days.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thwarted!

Every time I devise some fantastic plan, Murphy's Law comes along to thwart it. This week, I had this awesome plan to blog daily according to a set of lovely alliterative themes.

And then THE STOMACH BUG hit our house. Everyone but Sam has had it, and had it, and had it. It won't go away. I'm still reeling from the body aches and sheer exhaustion.

Maybe next week?!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stats

I know, I know. It's wordless Wednesday. I'm only supposed to post a picture. This isn't an official post. It's just....I don't know. It's something that HAS to be said!

I just checked my blog stats. You can see where readers are coming from, when they are reading, etc...One particularly interesting tool is the big ol' map that shows WHERE  your readers are. I have two readers in Nigeria.

Really? I'm just wondering...is it that Nigerian prince that needs me to handle his finances for him?

Seriously, if you are reading this from somewhere other than the US, I'd love a comment from you so that I know who and where you are! Heck, if you are reading this within the US, I'd love a comment, too!!!

Who am I kidding? I LOVE COMMENTS.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday!

I love food. I love to cook it, love to eat it, love to think about it. It made perfect sense to me to devote one day of blogging to a discussion of food. My first Tasty Tuesday post is going to highlight one of my favorite food blogs...A Year of Slow Cooking.

Stephanie O'Dea began 2008 with a resolution to use her slowcooker every day for a year. She photographed her ingredients, posted her recipes and a picture of the finished product, and provided feedback on the meal. Her blog is a treasure trove of slow cooker recipes. She's since gone on to become a bonafide domestic goddess, with a couple of published cookbooks and several TV appearances.

I love to use my crockpot, but I only use it once or twice a week- not every day! Today, I'm cooking a pork loin in chicken broth, peach preserves, canned peaches, and dijon mustard. I kind of made that concoction up. We'll see how it goes! I use Stephanie's website all the time, especially when I'm trying to find something new or unusual to make. Most of her recipes are gluten free or have gluten free alternatives, for those with special dietary needs.

Have a Tasty Tuesday everyone!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

First edition of Mission Monday

It's Monday! As if the time change wasn't crushing enough, it is rainy and dreary here in Central Kentucky. Yuck!!!

Today, I'm kicking off my new plan to jazz up the old blog by profiling a mission-oriented project. I'm starting off with an organization that is near and dear to my heart, Go Frankfort. This organization started within the Sunday School class I attend at First United Methodist Church, and thanks to some very dedicated leaders, it has really grown.

Go Frankfort organizes volunteers to go out into the community to perform service projects for various agencies. In the spring and again in the fall, hundreds of Frankfortians (Frankforters?) join together for a morning of hard work and fellowship and knock out some really big tasks. In the past, Go Frankfort has taken on the following projects:
  • PUSH - playground rehab
  • Walk/Bike Frankfort - clearing and maintaining biking trails at Capitol View Park
  • Bicycle collection for Folk Bike Recyclery
  • SIMON House - Maintenance, repairs and painting
  • Safe House (Domestic Violence) - painting, hanging cabinets and weatherize window
  • Sunshine Center - building shelves
  • Kings Center - Lot cleanup and minor repairs inside
  • Downtown cleanup - garbage pickup and leaf raking
  • CommonWealth Gardens - fall cleanup of community gardens
  • Highway cleanup - litter collection on 127S and on 60
  • Food collection for the Franklin County Emergency Food Pantry

Those are just a few of the areas in which Go Frankfort assists the community.
 
The spring voluteer day is set for May 21. It's a great time for everyone involved. I've worked mainly at the Domestic Violence Safe House and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. The first time I went  to scope out the property and create a plan for our work day, I was greeted at the door by one of my students. He and his sister, along with his mom and younger siblings, lived there. It shook me. I had no idea "my" kids were there. They have moved on, but that memory has lingered. I wanted to make the house as much a home as possible for the families that would find refuge there.
 
I'm not a particularly handy person, but I've found that I can do a lot of things I never knew I could do. I learned to winterize windows...and I was GOOD at it! I've painted, redecorated, and cleaned- and gotten more done in four hours there than I could ever do at home!
 
I urge my fellow Frankforians to join in the fun in May. There are many ways to support Go Frankfort. Your time, of course, is crucial. Sign up to be a volunteer! Or, you can donate to the cause. Money and supplies are always welcome. Often, Go Frankfort hosts fundraiser events. Most recently, they served up some delicious BBQ for lunch, and just this weekend held the first ever Go Frankfort Dodgeball Tournament. Check this link for more information. You'll be glad you did!
 
 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jazzing up the blog

I'm trying to think of a way to jazz up The Unquiet Life and also provide a little structure so that my posts aren't so random. I thought about going with daily themes, such as:
Missions Monday- Highlight different mission-oriented organization, group, or website each Monday.
Tasty Tuesday- What I'm cooking or wish I was cooking, or highlight a great foodie website
Wordless Wednesday- A picture of something going on in my world- or the world in general
Thirsty Thursday- A drink of "living water"- comments on a Bible passage
Friday Fives- A list of something...things I love, hate, want to do, etc.
Wildcard Weekends- You never really know...

This was harder than I thought! I am still not committed to these topics. If you have ideas, I'll gladly consider any suggestions.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Friday, March 11, 2011

On the topic of being anxious

I was observed this morning in my classroom. It didn't go the way I had planned because I totally forgot-or never realized to start with- that the band students were leaving at 10 for a field trip. That's half my class. My plan to finish with a neat little group activity didn't work. Oh, well. I made the best of it. I can only hope that this was suitable for my assistant principal...unlikely though. Nothing I ever do is.

It is Friday. The sun is shining. We've been in school ten weeks with no real break. The kids are off their rockers today (I should check the phase of the moon) and I am soooo ready for spring break. I'm emotionally spent after my observation. I can't get refocused and my kids aren't helping.

I'm have been anxious all day-before my observation, during it, after it-just ready to crawl out of my skin all day! It makes me think about the psalm where David says, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts" (139: 17). I identify with those words that come at the end of the psalm, but what comes at the beginning is so even better: "You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways."

It is so good to serve a God that knows us, inside and out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Status updates that aren't to be

One thing I've learned from my 36 hours away from Facebook is that, during the course of a normal day, I try to make everything I do into a Facebook status. I didn't really know I was doing this because I would just think it then post it. Now, I'm just thinking it.

This morning, I wanted to post that I had dinner in the crock pot (Black Bean Soup..yum!), then I wanted to comment on the raininess. I wanted to share my frustrations when the traffic cop at Second Street stopped traffic, pointed his thingy (technical term) at a car. The driver pulled forward and then Officer Sunshine blew his whistle at the car to back up for absolutely no reason. He just likes to whistle,  Within seconds, he motioned for the car to go. I was bumfuzzled.

All of this wit and wisdom will just have to sit in my brain for the next 40 days. Perhaps I should carry a little note pad to record all these "statuses" so I don't lose them!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What an opportunity!

When I was in the second grade, I won second place the West Liberty Elementary field day contest for best short story. It was about a little girl who found out she needed glasses but was afraid others would laugh at her. At the ripe old age of eight, a passion was ignited in me. I loved to write. From then on, I dabbled in poetry, stories, and non-fiction, and wrote competitively in academic meets with some success. I chose English as my major in college because it was the one thing I really loved.



I didn’t become a speech writer for President Clinton, like I’d dreamed as a teenager, or an international journalist or a romance novelist. I chose to take my passion to the people. I became a teacher. And, later, a wife and a mother. Somewhere along the way, my writing took a backseat to life.


I began blogging a few years ago, but my blog lacked direction. I am relatively certain the masses weren’t fascinated by my tales of potty training or what’s for dinner. In the fall, I prayerfully considered the purpose of my blog. Was it a waste of time or a missed opportunity?


God began to reveal to me ways that I could use my blog to reach people for Him. I could share my Christian walk- my failings and my growth- with others. And so I did. The response was very encouraging. People actually READ my blog and commented on it!!! That gave me the affirmation I needed to begin writing again on a regular basis.


About the same time, My husband and I began taking more leadership within our church and Sunday School class. We began facilitating our Sunday and Wednesday groups. This, along with wider readership of my blog, lead to an opportunity for me to speak in church on laity Sunday. That day, I began to see how all of these things fit together. I was finally doing the thing I was meant to do. I’m not a preacher- not by a long shot- but I do think that God has called me to teach others to be disciples, and has given me some specific gifts to help me along the way.


I like to read devotionals about other women like me, Christian women trying to make a difference in our own little corners of the universe. I regularly read Proverbs 31 and Lysa TerKeurst’s websites for inspiration. I’ve eyed the She Speaks conference for a while, thinking it would be an awesome opportunity for me to meet other women who have been called to the same ministry as I am. I’d love to learn how to make my blog and my life more effective tools to build disciples. Lysa TerKeurst has offered an opportunity to win a scholarship to this awesome conference. Winning would be the only chance I would have at attending.


We serve an awesome God who gifts us all in different ways. I am grateful for this blog, for the readers, and for the opportunity to act out His will in my life. It's amazing to see His plans come together!

Getting started

I usually wake up in the morning, check my e-mail and Facebook, get ready, log back into Facebook, make comments as appropriate while I eat my breakfast, and piddle my morning away reading about the minutiae of my friends' lives.

This morning I couldn't do that. It's day one of my Facebook Fast. I started reading chapter 1 of Phillipians trying to decide if I think I could begin to memorize it within the next few weeks. I think I can, at least some of it. I'm going to continue working on that.

I've plopped down at my desk a few times and opened a new window, like I normally would if I wanted to check in with the Facebook world. I've been a little at a loss as to where to go if I can't turn to Facebook. I've read a devotional on Proverbs 31. I registered for a new diet plan at Self magazine's website. I browsed Freecycle. I've graded papers, worked on lesson plans, cleaned off my desk.

Hmm...it's just 9:45. I'm going to  have to figure out a better way to spend my time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

40 Day Facebook Fast

I'm giving up Facebook for Lent. When I really examined the things that preoccupy me, that was at the top of the list. It was a no-brainer for me.

But, it won't be easy. I'll need to find some new distractions. Facebook is where I turn when there's a lull in my day. What on earth will I do with all that quiet time?

Here are some things I hope to fill my day with now that Facebook is off the table:
1. Prayer. I'm working on a big list of people to pray for...you're probably on it!!
2. Devotional and Bible reading.
3. Memorizing scripture. I might tackle the book of Phillipians.
4. Being more attentive to my husband and children.
5. Housework.

What else?? I'm open to ideas!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Updated updates

Two weeks ago, I posted the following updates to my resolutions in red. My updated updates are in purple. Yay me!



1. Lose weight. I did...then gained it back already. Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day. I lost it again!!! And, I'm back on track with diet and exercise.


2. Get organized. Bwhahahaha. Right.I have actually worked on this. I have a binder with daily routines/checklists assembled, along with weekly menus and coupons for the grocery store. Thanks to FlyLady and E-Mealz!!!And we cleaned house really, really well on Saturday, so I had an opportunity to discard some things and put things back where they belong. My living room is definitely less cluttered.


3.Sell a crocheted item or two, or more! Haven't done anything toward this.


4.Cook four nights a week, and cook different things! Yay!!!!! I have been doing this!!!!


5. Read 25 books this year, and document them on this blog.Well...I read a Mary Higgins Clark mystery and am in the process of reading A Year of Living Biblically...so, that's something! I read Restavec by Jean-Robert Cadet, Testimony by Anita Shreve, and a few more chapters of the aforementioned Year of Living Biblically. I also read a Jodi Picoult book, House Rules, but that was in January and I forgot to document it. So...four books so far. Not all together bad.

6. Blog twice weekly. Doing pretty well on this. Even better now!

7. Attend a genealogy workshop. Summer, perhaps? Nada.


8. Memorize scripture. Zip. I'm going to get back on this today!!


9. Do something different. Try new things. Zumba, pottery, Bunco, wool spinning...just a few of the things I'd like to try. They are all "fun" things, so why not? I don't have a plan for this. Yet. I think I have enough on my plate for this week. I have ideas. Zilch. I Zumba'd yesterday. Is that a verb? It felt like one.


10. Get back on the Financial Peace train. I think it ran me over during the holidays. :) I will admit that I don't have a plan here either. Next week??? Zero. Maybe not as formally as I'd like, but definitely better than I was!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Something new...and a painful realization.

Today, I tackled one of my new year's resolutions...trying something new. I went to a Zumba class. Now I realize I'm one of the last people on the face of the earth who hasn't tried this, but I've been really busy perfecting my couch potato regimen. In an attempt to make good on my first resolution (lose weight), I've been adding physical activity to my life. I figured it was time to give Zumba a try.

I sat in the parking lot for a while before I went in the studio. I was nervous. I mean, shaking hands and sick to my stomach nervous. What if I make a fool of myself? I can't dance. And I'm fat and out of shape.I won't be able to keep up. Everyone will laugh at me.

I know. I sound like a high schooler. You know what? I wasn't this self-conscious when I was a high schooler! I haven't always been so inhibited. I used to be self assured, more willing to take a risk here and there. But now, I'm soooo terrified of being judged by others.

Here's what I think happened. Somewhere along the way, I became a very critical, judgemental person. Even though I've worked really  hard at being much more less critical, it still creeps up way too often. In turn, I think everyone is judging me.  The fact is, most people don't give a big hoot about what I'm doing. It's not always about me. I have to remember that.


As I've been thinking about this today, I came to a really big realization. My fear of being judged by others has caused me to miss out on so many wonderful opportunities, and it has caused me to not do the will of God. Just today, I could clearly hear the Spirit telling me to invite this couple to our Sunday School class. And I didn't. I was too afraid of rejection, of looking stupid. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me, just in the last few days. Like most fears, it is destructive and debilitating.

There is absolutely no substance to my fear. I went to Zumba, had a great time, and I am certain that not only did no one make fun of me, everyone was super supportive of me. No one paid any attention to the dance skills or physical ability of anyone else. We just had fun.

I have to do more of that. I have to get past my fear of being judged and just do the things that need to be done. No one is paying attention to me. I'm not a celebrity followed by the paparazzi. I'm just a girl, trying to do the best I can...and so are all the other folks around me.

As we begin the Lenten season, that's going to be one of my goals:.to do things that make me uncomfortable. Step out of my box. Stop worrying about being judged.....and see what happens!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Big changes...

I've decided to make some big changes in my life. Okay, maybe not BIG, but changes none the less.
On Monday, I decided to start working out. I'm going back to the gym today. My goal is to participate in the Frankfort Trifecta- a series of three progressively longer races. The first one is a 3K and it is two weeks. I'm planning to walk, maybe run a little bit...

This weekend, I plan to try something new...a BELLY DANCING class.

I'm breaking out of my shell, trying something new, taking care of myself. I think it is time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm a people pleaser. I admit it.

Job 23: 10-11 says, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside."

For the last month or so, I've been struggling at work. It has had to do with a lot of it has had to do with me- my attitude, my unwillingness things go. Recently, the problem has been something I've never really dealt with before and it has been hard for me. I want people to be pleased with me. I want everyone to be happy. And, it appears, I have a few people who aren't. No matter what I do, nothing is going to change for them. All I can do is control my end of the deal, and keep my head up.

The verse from Job was today's Bible Gateway verse of the day. It applies to my situation right now. I'm being tested, and there are a lot of naysayers who'd like to see me fail. However, I'm going to stick with the One who has carried me through soooo much. I'm going to come forth as gold!

I love a good promise from the Lord!

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Years Resolutions...revisited.

I'm almost two months into 2011 and feel that it is time for an update on my resolutions. It is kind of depressing when I reflect on them, since I've made little or no progress...updates in red.

1. Lose weight. I did...then gained it back already. Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day.


2. Get organized. Bwhahahaha. Right.


3.Sell a crocheted item or two, or more! Haven't done anything toward this.


4.Cook four nights a week, and cook different things! Yay!!!!! I have been doing this!!!!



5. Read 25 books this year, and document them on this blog.Well...I read a Mary Higgins Clark mystery and am in the process of reading A Year of Living Biblically...so, that's something!
6. Blog twice weekly. Doing pretty well on this.


7. Attend a genealogy workshop. Summer, perhaps? Nada.



8. Memorize scripture. Zip.


9. Do something different. Try new things. Zumba, pottery, Bunco, wool spinning...just a few of the things I'd like to try. They are all "fun" things, so why not? I don't have a plan for this. Yet. I think I have enough on my plate for this week. I have ideas. Zilch.



10. Get back on the Financial Peace train. I think it ran me over during the holidays. :) I will admit that I don't have a plan here either. Next week??? Zero.

Like I said, really depressing....maybe the spring weather will jump start something!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

E-Mealz

Okay, so I've been raving about this E-Mealz thing on Facebook, and a bunch of people have asked me what I'm talking about. It is this awesome service that sends you a weekly menu with recipes and a grocery list, based on what's on sale in your preferred store or based on your kind of diet (Weight Watchers, Low Fat, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, etc...).

There is a button under my "About Me" box (or at least I hope there is...) that will take you to the E-Mealz site. I hope it revolutionizes your meal planning!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Learning Targets

As a teacher, I have to plan my lessons beginning with the end in mind. I know the kids are going to ask, "Why do we have to do this?"  I need to have an answer ready. Our district has adopted "Learning Targets," which is just a fancy term for the objectives of the lesson, or what we intend the outcome to be for our kids. The learning targets are often a topic of derision among the students, and sometimes the teachers, too. While the kids don't  always  pay attention to the targets, they really do point exactly to the intended outcome of the lesson. Students don't always see the connection, or the relevance.

I confess that I am not unlike my students. I often question God. "What exactly do you want me to learn from this? Do I really have to go through all this? Can't I just read the Cliff Notes version of it??" Sometimes I'm a spiritual wimp. An unruly child.

I recognize this as a weakness and I am working to overcome it. I'm praying daily for discernment. I try really hard to look for the lesson in the things I encounter. If only the Learning Targets were written somewhere!! Oh, wait....they are....

There is much wisdom to be gained in the scriptures, but sometimes reading them is a difficult task in itself. Again, I pray that God will help me learn the lessons I need to learn. A great scripture that I've been considering lately is in Psalm 119. The whole psalm is about learning the ways of the Lord and living a holy life. Verse 125 is David's specific request for insight, "I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes." My favorite part follows:

129Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.

130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.

132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.

133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

134 Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.

135 Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.


If we ask God to help us learn His ways, He will open our eyes and teach us so that we can learn and follow Him more closely. It is with that hope that I press on and continue to study the Bible, asking myself and God what I can learn and how I can apply it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hello, Sunshine!

The sun is shining today, both literally and figuratively. We've had cold, dreary winter weather for a LONG time. The forecast for the next eight days shows that we'll reach the 60 degree mark by the end of next week. I am thrilled. Today, the sun is shining so brightly that I have to squint even inside my classroom. I am not complaining about it. It is spectacular!!!

It isn't just the big yellow orb that I'm talking about, though. I have been in a major emotional funk for the last several weeks. Stuff has just really worn on me, both personally and at work. Especially at work. I just couldn't snap out of it, either. I was grouchy, mopey, and just sad. I think the lack of sunshine played a big part in it. It was an unexplainable darkness inside of me that reflected the weather. I had reverted to my Debbie Downer ways, and I was miserable. Worse, I was making everyone else miserable, too.

I woke up Wednesday morning and felt like the fog had lifted. I could think clearly again. I could concentrate and make decisions. It was a great feeling. Now, I've gotten some rest, had some time to think, and all the stuff that was making me feel so sad seems to be just trivial, or at least things that I can handle. I'm glad. I'm still a little cranky, but that is who I am! If I were nice all the time, people wouldn't know what to do with me.

I'm ready for that warm up next week. Who knows what the sun will bring?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You're getting veeerrry sleeepy...

My grandmother loves to sleep. She has divorced two husbands because they interfered with her sleep. Derward was a sleepwalker, Clarence snored. I am not making this up.

I inherited her love of snoozing. John says it is a talent. If I sit down, I'm asleep within minutes. My head hits the pillow and I'm out. When life gets tough, I take a nap. It is comforting and refreshing.

My mother, on the other hand, thinks napping is a waste of time. She has often accused me of sleeping my life away. She has a very high energy level and I really believe her body just doesn't need as much sleep as mine does.

As much as I hate to admit it, she might be right. Right before his arrest, Jesus left his disciples alone while he went to the garden to pray. When he came back, rather than finding them in prayer, too, he found them all dozing. Would I have been one of them? Most likely. It was late, still, and quiet. Perfect conditions for a nap.


Paul cautions us in 1 Thessalonians 5:6. "let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake." We have to maintain our awareness, no matter our circumstances. No matter how cozy we might be or how complacent we become, we can't let ourselves go to sleep. We need to resist that temptation and stay fully alert to the Lord's calling.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Instant Gratification

I'm sure we've touched on this before. I don't like to wait. I want what I want, and I want it now. Yesterday would be better, but now would work. And, of course, I don't dare pray for patience because we all know what would happen then., but I do work toward disciplining myself to be less demanding of God.

I was reading the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. I'm not sure how well I would have taken these words had I been in the crowd, especially when I was a young, immature Christian. Here's how the NRSV interprets these words from Matthew 5:

"1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:


3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The kicker in this sermon for me would have been the repetition of the phrase, "will be." I would have been saying, "So, when WILL we BE comforted? Huh? Cause I got things to do, Jesus. I need this comfort right now. And as for inheriting the earth or the Kingdom of Heaven. A reward in heaven? That just seems like it is going to take a lot of time. Can't we get started on this now?"
 
Over the years of my walk with God, I've learned, sometimes painfully, that His timing is perfect. It is mysterious. It is clearly NOT my timing.  But...it is perfect. God doesn't do instant gratification. While I'm still not a patient person, I'm kind of glad for the delayed gratification. When I get what God gives me, the waiting makes me appreciate it so much more . His gifts are so great, they are worth waiting for!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Healing

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

I have numerous health issues. Some are minor annoyances, some are potentially serious, and some are just plain tedious to deal with. I do what I can to maintain my health with medications and a proper diet (well, sometimes), and for the most part, I feel okay. Or, at least I have learned to ignore the symptoms that are hard to deal with and I pretend to feel okay. Either way, I'm making it. Sure I could be better, but I could be a whole, whole lot worse.

Right now, I am very aware of several people around me that are dealing with some very serious physical problems. My heart aches for them. I don't want them to have to worry or suffer with an illness. I'm praying for them. I"m praying very intently and specifically for healing.

I grew up with a very amalgamated faith. I was raised in a Baptist church with strong Pentecostal overtones from my grandmother, and I was active in the youth group in  the local Christian Church. When John and I got married, we joined a United Methodist Church. My beliefs carry little bits of all of those denominations, I guess, with some being more influential than others. I don't know what your experiences have been with divine healing, but I am a firm believer. I have seen it happen. I have experienced it.

Growing up, I always thought of healing as a sort of holy-roller kind of thing. As an adult, however, I began to see it differently. In the United Methodist church John and I belonged to as young marrieds,the pastor was very deliberate about offering a healing prayer at every service every week. At first, I thought it was odd. But soon, I began seeing the fruits of this. People would come forward to be anointed, but it never had that tent revival vibe about it. It was discreet- between you, the pastor, and God. When the prayer was over, people emerged looking peaceful, as if they'd experienced something special.  I still wasn't sure.

I never felt the need to go forward and ask for healing until several months into the process of trying to conceive a child. After agonizing and praying on my own, I decided to share it with our pastor during the healing prayer. He anointed me with oil and prayed. And you know the rest of that story. Soon, after, I was pregnant with Audrey.

I've also experienced healing when I was sick with Crohn's disease. It wasn't spontaneous. I didn't leap up out of the hospital bed after being prayed over, although I can point to one particular low point in my illness when my parents' church held a special prayer for me. As I was in the hospital, my body did respond quickly to the medications I was being given, but, overall,  my complete healing took quite a while. Many people prayed for me, in person and from a distance, for many months. It was a process of finding the right doctors, the right medicines, the right diet. I know that God led me to the right people to make me well.

But, I have also seen times when the healing didn't work the way I wanted it to. My aunt was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer when she was 34...just a few months older than I am now. Two years of a valiant fight, countless rounds of chemo and radiation, and a bone marrow transplant didn't erase the cancer from her body. Was her faith not great enough? Did we not pray hard enough? Hardly. She died, and we were devastated. However, when I look back on that situation, I think about Romans 8:28-  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I see so many ways that God did heal my aunt as well as others. She came to  accept Christ during that time, as did my  uncle and I. Could anything have been more miraculous than that?  

So, for my friends that are hurting and scared, know that I am praying with my whole heart that Jesus will heal you. I believe He can. Put all of your hope in Him. Overcome your doubts and ask someone to anoint you. There is something about that act of faith that makes a difference. In James 5:14, we are told "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord." It really does make a difference. It may seem strange to you, but it is a very powerful thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Headache.

I have deleted my post a gazillion times this morning. I have a MASSIVE headache...the kind that accompanies a moving weather front, and I can't string a sentence together.

Apologies.

Maybe tomorrow???

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Better days

For those of you who read my post yesterday and thought, "That's it. She's going over the edge," and you prayed that I would find a rope, thank you. I did.

My day was exhausting yesterday, but good. My students were attentive, my children ate the dinner I fixed them (miracle), and the house still looks fairly clean.

Today is a new day, and I'm determined to meet it with faith. My verse for the day is Psalm 138:7-8:"Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don't abandon me, for you made me."

Hoping I have another delightful day to report later. Thanks for praying. I'm praying for you too!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The struggle

Work is not going the way I'd like it to go right now. It isn't one specific thing. In fact, it seems like it is EVERYTHING. I'm just struggling to keep a good attitude right now.

I've prayed about this A LOT. I've whined, too. I am at a point that I'm not sure what to do next. Do I keep at it, keep my eyes on the prize? I'm not even sure what the prize is at this point. Spring break? Summer? Retirement? Do I give up and find another way to spend my life? If so, what is that?

I know that I should be really grateful to have a job. I work with a lot of good people and some really great kids. I get paid well and have a nice schedule.  It's just that I'm not sure my heart is here any more. I'm not sure WHERE my heart is!

I hope that I can pull myself out of this funk. Let me rephrase that. I trust that God will pull me out of this funk, and set my feet on the right path. Until then, I'm just going to keep running the race.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Man shall not live on bread alone. Mmm...bread.

For me, the new year doesn't really start until school is back in sesson. I know the calendar has said 2011 since Saturday, but I didn't throw any confetti til today. Okay, so I didn't throw confetti, but you get my point.

Anyway, I have been working toward my resolutions. Weight Watchers is going well, I guess. I'm making some changes. I've not really worked on my memory verse yet this week, so now is a good time to try.

It is Matthew 4:4. I know this verse, sort of. "Jesus answered, 'It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." One of the techniques for learning the verses is to write it down and look at it often. I've done that. Another suggestion is to read it in context and meditate on its meaning. That's a big thing for me as a teacher. I hate when I give vocabulary words and kids memorize the definitions but don't know how to apply them in context. So, that's my goal today.

Matthew 4 is the story of Jesus' time in the wilderness. Forty days of fasting, praying, and temptation. He followed the Spirit into the wilderness. He ate NOTHING for six whole weeks. I can't go six whole minutes without thinking about food, so that amazes me. I've dabbled in fasting, have done brief ones, but can't imagine 40 days. That's 120 meals and 80 or more snacks. Woah.

When I'm tempted to "cheat" on my diet (which is just about all the time), I've tried to learn some strategies to help me. I distract myself. I chew gum. I get a drink of water. I eat a piece of fruit. I give in and have just a tiny bite of whatever it is I'm thinking about.

Not Jesus. When the tempter tried to get him to eat, he quoted scripture to him.

Maybe I've been lead to this particular memory verse because it is so fitting to this season of my life. I'm struggling with overcoming temptation that comes from food. I'll put my little index card with this verse on it right on my desk and look at it every time I think about eating the Reese Cup that is hidden deep in my desk drawer. Even better, I'll give away the candy bar as a prize to a kid today so that I stop thinking about it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Plan of action

I posted my 2011 resolutions the other day. Believe it or not, I have developed a plan of action for some of them. I'm reposting the resolutions below along with my plan for accomplishing those goals. The words in RED are my plan of action.

1. Lose weight. I think 15 pounds would be doable and would help A LOT! Twenty five would be awesome, but who am I kidding? I joined Weight Watchers online, set a preliminary goal, and made a menu plan for the week that allows me to eat good foods and stay on plan at the same time. Next step...figure out when I can go to the gym.


2. Get organized. I can't make this one more specific. Any improvement in this area would be welcome.  It seems to me that this whole exercise in goal setting and action plan designing speaks to this resolution.

3.Sell a crocheted item or two, or more! I am going to continue making hats and perhaps set up an Etsy.com shop in the fall.

4.Cook four nights a week, and cook different things! See #1. This week we'll have split pea soup with ham, ranchburger sliders and twice baked potatoes, Hawaiian chicken kabobs, turkey chili, and garlic-wine tilapia.

5. Read 25 books this year, and document them on this blog. I have a list of books I want to read, and I plan to read two books a month, plus a bonus one in the summer.  Each month, I'll read one book of literary merit and one that is more fun.  This month's books are Maid for Murder by  Barbara Colley and Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
6. Blog twice weekly. DONE! Well, for this week anyway.

7. Attend a genealogy workshop. Summer, perhaps?

8. Memorize scripture. I think a verse a week is doable. I really think two a week would be doable. I am going to aim for memorizing this list of verses, starting from the top and working down.

9. Do something different. Try new things. Zumba, pottery, Bunco, wool spinning...just a few of the things I'd like to try. They are all "fun" things, so why not? I don't have a plan for this. Yet. I think I have enough on my plate for this week. I have ideas.

10. Get back on the Financial Peace train. I think it ran me over during the holidays. :) I will admit that I don't have a plan here either. Next week???

I really feel like the fact that I've developed a real plan for most of these, and a timeline for a plan for the rest, that there is a strong likelihood that these things will occur. At any rate, I've come farther than I did in past years!

How are resolutions shaping up?