Friday Fun

Well, it’s been a business week of blogging. I don’t know that I will always update Monday through Friday, but I wanted to see if I could do it. And it was fun! I’d like to end the week with some brief thoughts and fun links. Because Fridays are fun! Blogging is fun! Okay, too many funs…

First, some thoughts on the verse of the week, Acts 17:24-25. I’ve really enjoyed memorizing and meditating on these words. First of all, it’s been a daily reminder that I have a creator who is powerful and sovereign. Also, in my Bible study we are looking at the life of Moses, and just finished reading about the building of the tabernacle. This was where God literally dwelt in the midst of his people in the time of Exodus, but the Acts verse (“he does not live in temples built by hands”) reminds me that now God’s Spirit lives in the hearts of his people because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It’s because of God’s love and grace that I can experience his presence! And when I read “he is not served by human hands as if he needed anything” I am taken back to the idea of humility. I don’t bring anything to the table for God. He doesn’t need me, but he loves me and allows me to participate in his work. Like a mother with her child in the kitchen, he lets me “help,” even when all I do sometimes is lick the spoon.

Now for the fun-fun:

A nail polish tutorial. I thought I would share this, because every time I go to Pinterest I get a notification that someone else has repinned it. And it is pretty good! I would agree with Karen that the key to a perfect home manicure is practice. I have some other nail tips on my beauty board over on Pinterest.

Statement jewelry. I bought this fun ring with my Christmas money, and am looking for an occasion to wear it. It looks so cool and funky, but it is seriously giant, although in the best way. It needs a special, simple outfit.  Shipping was fast. I recommend.

That’s all I’ve got for this Friday. I just now realized that there was a definite theme… hands.

If you’ve been reading along this week, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

I love (and need) a new year

I’m not a big celebrator of New Year’s Eve. I just can’t muster up much excitement for a moment that occurs so late at night, is often associated with crowds and noise, and does not even come close to the excitement I feel about Christmas. Who’s with me?

NYE aside, I do get excited at the beginning of a new year. It feels like a breath of fresh air- a hopeful time for trying something new. It feels like a natural time to clean and organize, work out, detox from Christmas foods, etc., and everyone is doing it, so there’s an element of community support. There also seems to be a community feeling of, “We won’t make it until March with these new things,” and that bums me out. From my time in the field of applied behavior analysis, I know that people can change their behavior! It just takes some planning, and the resolutions (I prefer “goals”) should be specific and measurable. I’ve failed at my share of “resolutions,” but as I put more thought into the process I have tried and succeeded with different goals: weight loss, keeping a journal, even decreasing my driving speed. Last year a major goal for me was living with a new diet, which I adopted in order to address some health issues (more on that another time). This year I have my spiritual goals which I discussed in previous posts- learning about humility and memorizing a Bible verse each week. But I’d like to have an external goal this year, too.

So what I’m focused on this January is getting my home routine under control. In the fall I stepped away from a part-time job that came with full-time stress, and had a tough time getting back into the homemaking groove. Initially I felt exhausted, and probably truly needed rest, so that is what I did. I maintained the bare minimum- cooking, laundry, trying not to let high-traffic surfaces become disgusting. Otherwise, I was flitting about here and there, doing the things I had missed so much when I was working. Before I knew it, December was in full swing. While I was grateful I had time for things I couldn’t do before, like accompany my husband on a road trip, join a Bible study, start learning piano chords from a friend, go on a youth retreat, or babysit for friends; I was disappointed that I didn’t have a routine in place.

Now that another hopeful January is here, I know what I need to do: create routines and follow them. For the past week I have been getting dressed (out of pajamas and into something else, even if it’s only house- or WalMart-appropriate) and putting on makeup first thing when I get up. I also do some really light cleaning tasks like wiping down bathroom and kitchen surfaces. After about a week of this, I’m feeling motivated to keep going. I even dug out and went through an old list I had written up for tidying each room of the house.

I think I was just waiting for January to roll in with its hope and potential. Cue the Mary Tyler Moor theme song: “You’re gonna make it after all…” 🙂

My morning/evening/tidying routines are based on FlyLady. This site is an excellent resource for controlling clutter and taking control of your home. As a newlywed I learned a lot of my homemaking skills from this site! Be warned, the cheese factor is high, but the principles are really good. Behavior-analyst-approved.

I was also inspired to take better care of my home when I saw this article on Club31Women.

I would love to hear your thoughts- do you make resolutions/yearly goals? Or, what has been your experience with learning to care for your home?

How to memorize?

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It’s so cold this morning! The temperature is -1 right now, but thankfully the sun is shining. Most local schools have been cancelled because of the cold, and my activities for the day were also cancelled (Bible study this morning and youth group tonight).

So I thought I would post an update on my memory verse… I’ve got it! I haven’t listened to the song at all today, and have only seen the verse written once, and I didn’t actually read it. I’m going to type it out from memory now…

Acts 17:24-25 – “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”

I’m not certain about the punctuation, but the words and the meaning are there. I memorized the song version which is slightly different from the NIV, but the meaning is the same. It’s been cool to see how the truths in this verse line up with other things I’m reading, and I will continue to focus on this verse for the rest of the week!

Here are a few “tricks” I use when memorizing Scripture:

1- Sing it. Whenever possible, I like to memorize verses in song form. The verses I want or need to memorize don’t always come with a song, but when they do I get excited because it raises my chances of success. I’m not a songwriter (although I wish I possessed that skill), so I don’t create my own melodies for verses. I know people who do, though, and I say good for them! Anyway, this is why I love Seeds Family Worship– they have helped me learn a good portion of the verses I know. When I can be meticulous about this, I am. I’ll listen to the song on repeat a few times until I can sing along to all the words, then listen to it a few times each day so it gets into my head. I like listening to a verse song in the car, especially when running errands because each trip only tends to last the length of one song anyway.

2- Write it. This one can involve some time, but not a lot. I like to take a blank piece of paper and write my verse out in big letters, tracing over important words to emphasize them. I have also tried opening a blank document and typing the verse out multiple times, but I enjoy hand-lettering more. I also might draw little pictures next to words that are hard to remember, and I also use pictures for verses that contain lists of words. I did this with James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” You don’t have to draw a picture for every word, just the ones that lend themselves to it. I will also sometimes write my memory verse on my chalkboard, which is in my kitchen. It’s fun to decorate the words or use different colors, and I spend a lot of time referring back to the written or typed verse as I go. Once I start to learn the verse I will quiz myself by writing or typing it from memory and seeing how accurate I can be.

3. With a group (or not)? Act it out! I kind of want to say this is just for kids or groups, but it’s always okay to be a little silly for a good cause. I do this sometimes with my high school girls. There was a verse (Romans 11:33) that had some easy-to-mix-up words, so we acted them out a few times to help us get the order right. It was helpful, fun, and may have even helped bring our walls down before getting into our lesson.

4. Look at it. I have often taken a picture of a verse card with my phone and set it as my phone’s lock screen. I have also used photo editing apps to create a digital image for my lock screen. I am afraid to count how many times I look at my phone each day, but it’s a lot, so this is a good trick. I mentioned my chalkboard above, which involves writing, but after that it’s just a matter of visibility. My chalkboard is in a high-traffic area, so I see it whenever I leave the house, come home, go downstairs, or do dishes. Sometimes I see it without really reading it, of course, because my mind is focused on other things, but it’s a nice visual reminder that it is there. I know people who like to post a verse on the bathroom mirror or next to their bed, too. I think that’s a great idea, but I am prone to clutter so it’s a stumbling block for me. I would never erase or throw away my verses! In all of this, do what works for you.

5. Just say it. When you’ve seen your verse, or after you’ve sung it, or just any time, try saying it to yourself aloud or in your head. Get as far as you can without looking.

6. Team up! I don’t always do this, but it is very effective. I’ve worked on memory verses with my peers in adult small groups, I’ve taught one per month to a preschool class, and I also challenge my high school girls to memorize one each month. With peers and students you can practice saying the verse together or you can send out some quick encouragement as you work toward a common goal. With young children, I like to start with having them repeat a few words at a time after me, then I lengthen the amount they are repeating back. Once a couple of kids have the verse down we recite it all together, and anyone who’s behind usually catches up pretty quickly by listening to the others. Being the “teacher” always encourages me to stay a step ahead- bonus.

If you have tried-and-true methods for memorizing Bible verses, please share!

#onelittleword

I don’t always just jump right onto a bandwagon, BUT… I think I was kind of on it already? If that’s possible. A word or concept that has been popping up for me the past few months has been humility. I’m a wordy person, so I often resist challenges that involve such clarity and conciseness. But this time when I saw One Little Word making the rounds, it resonated with me. The more I look into humility and read about it and try my best to live it out, I remember that it is not synonymous with quiet or timid or self-deprecating. This concept can mean a lot of things, but I don’t think the afore-mentioned characteristics are part of the definition. Often times I find that humility does mean keeping my mouth shut, but my focus on the concept is also what led me to start this blog. Kind of a strange contrast, but I think it works.

For me, humility means considering others better than myself (although not in such a way that I diminish my own God-given value) and striving to serve them. It means shutting my mouth sometimes, like when the thing I’m about to say- that amuses me- won’t serve the conversation or may hurt someone. It means seeking wisdom from above and listening to those with more experience, rather than relying on my own thoughts and feelings for guidance. It also means opening my mouth to share what I’ve learned and am learning, which involves laying aside my self-protective fears that are actually rooted in pride. It means a lot of other things, and I will share those as they come up. Should be super-fun, because it’s always fun to be humbled! Wait…

There are many verses that support the pursuit of humility, but I thought of Colossians 3:12.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience”

Good enough for me! So my #onelittleword for 2015 is humble. I’m not going to master it in a year, and will not stop seeking it after a year, but this year I want to learn more about it and incorporate it into my internal and external life.

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How about you? Do you feel led to choose a word for your year?

Mission: Memorization

Here’s something about me: I love to know the Bible. My parents know a lot of Scripture, so growing up I was used to adult Christians who had a reference for everything. But as a child I thought this knowledge came naturally, or via osmosis from going to church. I didn’t realize until I was a young adult that a person gets this knowledge from, you know… studying the Bible. And like, praying. And being diligent in applying verses to daily life. Thankfully I caught on and started doing those things! And because I’m a pastor’s wife I’m perfect at it now.

Just kidding!!!

I noticed how much it helped me in my life to know and remember verses (Psalm 119:11), so I began to pursue the Word more intentionally. I’m still not where I’d like to be in this regard, and my search history contains many a partial Bible verse! But I have grown. It didn’t happen overnight, but as I dug into the verses I knew already it motivated me to learn more. Because learning Scripture is not simply a side effect of my upbringing, or going to a Christian college, or being in church all the time. It is the result of the Holy Spirit stirring our hearts to know the Father, and it’s through the Bible that God speaks to us and will help us to better follow him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit also helps our minds hang onto valuable biblical truths. Every believer can do this!

Recently our senior pastor challenged our church to dig into the Word in 2015, specifically with reading the Bible in a year and with memorizing Scripture. It was a really timely challenge for me. First of all, I hope to finish the Bible this year. The last time I read the Bible cover to cover it took me over two years, and I’m on track to finish at the same rate, which is fine but I would like to finish it sooner. I’m currently in Jeremiah, so I need to pick up the pace but I don’t know if I can make this an official resolution. I joined Bible Study Fellowship this past fall and am trying to keep up with the reading that goes along with my lesson each week- I find it to be a stretching amount of reading. But I would love to grow my mental library of verses, so I am taking on the verse-a-week challenge. Because I don’t want to fail, and everything is easier to memorize if you sing it, I’ll be using verses that are also Seeds Family Worship songs. I’ll post the verse here each week if any of you would like to join me.

The first verse is Acts 17:24-25. That’s technically 2 verses, so I guess I’m an over-achiever already. Here is the text:

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

You can listen to the song on the Seeds site. This is “Life and Breath,” Track 1 on “Seeds of Purpose.” The verses I use will go in chronological order starting with volume 4 (since I’ve memorized most of volumes 1-3). I’ll try to keep the passages no longer than just a few verses, but no promises. 🙂

A quick note about Seeds Family Worship: they are awesome! I’m not being paid to say this, I’ve just loved these songs since they first came into existence and I love to support the Seeds mission. These songs have helped me personally I can’t count how many times I’ve leaned over to my husband during a sermon to whisper, “I’ve got a song for that verse!” And it’s not bragging, I just get excited that the songs WORK. I also used the songs to teach Bible verses to my classes of 3- and 4-year-olds when I taught preschool. It was a delight to watch them dance around, play with the words as they learned, and sometimes even connect verses with behavior (my favorite verse for that was “Do Everything in Love,” 1 Corinthians 16:13). I highly, HIGHLY recommend these songs for parents who are looking to give their children the gift of Scripture, and to any teacher or mentor who is trying to do the same. I also recommend the songs for any adults who are looking for a simple, enjoyable way to learn more of the Bible, because these songs can please ears of any age.

I’d love to hear from you: how have you benefited from memorizing Bible verses? Reading through the Bible? Have you made a Scripture-related resolution for 2015? Will you join me in my verse-a-week challenge?

Introduction

(My thinking face)

(My thinking face)

I used to blog, like fifteen years ago, before it was cool. My online circle was small, and as social media took off and my circle grew I gradually withdrew from sharing so much. Eventually I stopped almost altogether.

But after years off from blogging, I kind of missed it. I missed having a public space to work out the deeper thoughts of life. I missed interacting with readers. I missed the accountability that came with sharing my journey. I also found myself doing things and wanting to share about them in case someone else might need encouragement to try something new… but I didn’t have any place to link back to (besides Facebook, where content is constantly buried by more content).

While I’m excited to have my own space for sharing, I still harbor some hesitation. I was shy as a child and am still very much an introvert, which for me seems to come from a desire to protect myself from (real or perceived) judgment or criticism from others. But after keeping to myself for a while I’m seeing that I may benefit from airing out my thoughts, preferences, opinions, and things I’m trying. I think it is good to be intentional about showing others who you are, and who you are trying to become. 

I know I’m just one in a sea of countless blogs, so I’m not in it for the traffic, but if my little exercise in being a more transparent and well-rounded individual can brighten the Internet just a little, then… success!

Here is a little info about me as I get started here. I am…

-a follower of Jesus

-a woman who really tries. But fails. Thank God for grace! He is making me what I need to be.

-an occupational “has-been.” In recent years I have worked as a behavior analyst for children with autism, a preschool teacher, and even a barista. Presently I work very part-time, putting on my behavior analyst hat once a week to oversee and implement an after-school in-home program for a child with autism.

-a youth pastor’s wife

-a reluctant learner (learning is great, but I don’t like admitting I don’t know something)

-a health enthusiast (partly out of necessity)

-a shopper

-a lover of pretty things (to look at, use, listen to, etc.)

-a diy-er when the mood is right

-an introvert…

-…but also an enthusiastic encourager and sharer

The list could go on, but now you have an idea. I try to see the delightful aspects of life, even in its deep or challenging times, hence the name of the site.

That is just a little bit about me and my reasons for setting up shop here. If you’ve read this, please comment and say hello! I would also love to know what you think about sharing thoughts and opinions online and what it does to us for better or for worse.