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Saturday, February 26, 2011

21 Random Things About Me

I am currently reading through the book, Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick, by Karen Scalf Linamen with a fabulous group of women that attend a group I lead called, Girls' Night Out.

In the chapter of the book we read this week entitled, "Visibility," the author discusses her decision to discover more about herself by putting together a list of 21 Things about herself. I highly encourage you to do this. It's truly amazing how much we lose ourselves and our identities along the rocky road of life. It's really easy to do, especially as women, with all of the different roles we play- think: wife, mom, team mom, businesswoman, carpool driver, volunteer, etc. With that, I have decided to share my list with you all. Hopefully you'll learn a little something about me and allow it to inspire you to learn a little something about yourself!

1. I love reading, especially with/to my kids. Love our regular trips to the library, daily reading and daily devotion time.
2. I love fresh flowers in my house, although I don't have them often. The best are the ones I have grown myself in my garden.
3. I love animals- I have 2 amazing dogs & 2 horses. I used to think I wanted to be a vet or work in a zoo when I grew up. Now I've realized I LIVE in a zoo sometimes.
4. I've learned a lot about life and have had some of my best ideas & conversations with God while shoveling crap err... I mean, mucking out my barn.
5. I could spend hours reading and studying the bible. It's my favorite book. I'm like a sponge: always ready to soak up its words of life and knowledge so that I can pour it into my life and the lives of others.
6. I relish alone time and have been known to get up (or stay up!) at ungodly hours to make sure I have it regularly.
7. I enjoy working with my hands whether it is to build, cook, or garden. I think I really just enjoy creating... not just that, but I love to give away whatever I create.
8. I have a fetish for graphic design. I love designing logos, flyers, ads, etc. I'm not sure where this came from, other than the idea mentioned in #7.
9. My husband and children are the biggest blessings I have ever received- all 4 were unexpected (yes, including my baby who has preceded me in going to heaven!)
10. I have a fetish for names. I love the meaning of my own & how it relates to my life and identity. I also love learning about the meaning & history of the names of others as well. I read the Baby Names Book from cover to cover- twice.
11. Recently, I've rediscovered my affinity for the warm glow of candlelight (especially on a blustery day) and classical music. SO relaxing and calming.
12. I am a recovering workaholic with perfectionist tendencies. 'Nuff said. I'm sure that doesn't surprise any of you...
13. I find it difficult to contain &/or purge clutter- mostly because of my disability to accurately differentiate what's really worth holding onto.
14. I like to write but put off doing it because I don't feel that I do it well- I really have to work at it and the process of working at it frustrates me to no end. Like I said, I've got those pesky perfectionist tendencies...
15. I have the most amazing family, including all of my in-laws... they support me, love me, pray for me... I really am SO blessed.
16. I love soaking in a hot bath but can never seem to stay in for more than 10-15 minutes- can't decide if I can't handle the heat for that long or being faced with my (fat) birthday suit for that long. I've discovered a nice 'blanket' of bubbles helps with the latter.
17. I have a pretty all-consuming passion to achieve a purer, simpler way of life. This includes eliminating toxins in my physical, mental, & spiritual health (and my household's). I could write a book on this journey... and I had planned to until my perfectionist tendencies got in the way.
18. I love seeing lives changed by the message of the gospel and by the fruit of faith. I love hearing stories of personal challenges & obstacles being overcome- especially those told by women.
19. I love my hair- not in a vainglorious type of way, but because I have finally found a hairstyle that fits my lifestyle... thanks to my amazing stylist!
20. I dream of traveling the world someday... there are SO many beautiful places I'd love to see and experience firsthand.
21. I am also a recovering Facebook-a-holic... it is my calorie-free, yet unhealthy substitute at times, that aids me in my craving for 'escape' and 'community.'

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Advance!

There are many of us who, through some marvelous moments of motivation, have determined to set goals for ourselves. Perhaps, like myself, you set some January 1 of this year. Or perhaps you set some long-term goals quite some time ago. I've been spending some time recently evaluating my progress with some of my personal goals. Unfortunately, as I've checked my behavior to see how well it matches my goals, I haven't really liked what I've been finding: not all that much progress has been made. I would venture to say that I'm not alone... I wonder how many other people are out there who, like myself, have not quite been measuring up with their goals... and are ready to throw in the towel.

At this point, it would be really easy to give up on a few of my goals, but something inside me tells me that even a few steps taken in the right direction are better than none taken at all... and are certainly better than steps taken backward in the wrong direction.

Now, for the questions at hand: Do I choose to continue moving forward? To stumble my way toward what I initially believed could be achieved? Do I dare to press on?

There are times in our lives when we have to decide that we have reached the point of no return; that we will press on and not give up, no matter what. We have to reach a point where we sink our teeth into something and decide that we are not going to give up any more ground but will instead begin to take ground. We must decide that the battle is worth fighting, that there are some things worth standing for.

What areas are you determined to see growth or achieve progress in? Has discouragement or fear prohibited you from making further progress? Or do you have marked determination that will see you through to the end?

I've noticed an interesting thing happens when we fail to pick ourselves up and move forward: we end up moving backward whether we realize it or not. Sure, it starts with a few moments of stagnation, but those moments can quickly turn into a monument of our impending destruction.

“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved." 
{Hebrews 10:38-39}

DON'T GIVE UP. You've come too far to give up now. If you've fallen, pick yourself up and go at it again. You can do it... with God's help, with strength only He can provide. Continue to advance and you will accomplish much in your battles for better health, a better marriage, better kids, better finances, or better business. You can overcome any obstacle in your way if you will only have faith and move forward. Just put one foot in front of the other and you will advance.

"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." 
{Psalm 18:29}

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mission: Memorization

Memorizing scripture is something I have done for a long time. When we memorize scripture, we are literally tucking God's word away into our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says: 


"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." 


 If you are anything like me, my bible is not always at arms' length to turn to for the hope, encouragement, or strength I need at the very moment when trials or temptations strike. Naturally, these are the times when I need those words the most. This is why it is critical to have God's word tucked away in the recesses of my heart to pull from during those times. In fact, I still find myself pulling words from my heart that I memorized many years ago... even back to the first one I memorized at age 5 when I was a Sparky in Awana: John 3:16.

There are many ways to memorize scripture, but here a few ways I find most helpful:

1. Write verses in permanent marker on an index card and mark them permanently on your heart. I suggest making a few copies. The act of writing the verse several times is helpful in memorizing it too. Our teachers knew what they were doing back in school when they asked us to write our spelling words five times each- it helped us to memorize them. Usually, after I've written out the verse on my second card, I've found I can already remember at least part of it.

2. Next, hang those cards in places you 'stand around' or 'sit around.' For instance, hang them in places like above the kitchen sink, in the living room (close to the TV), over your washer or dryer or other area where you fold laundry, in the car, by your bed, etc. Every time you see the cards, make it a point to read the verse- not just in your head, but out loud. There is so much power in the spoken word. In Genesis we find this simple yet solid foundational truth clearly demonstrated in Genesis. God created things from nothing by the power of His spoken word. God's Word has the power to transform our world as we speak it, just as it had the power to transform our world at creation.

3. Turn your verse into a tune. I know this may sound corny to some, but hear me out: Isn't it amazing how we remember a simple jingle we heard many years ago advertising a store or product? Do the terms "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz..." (Alka Seltzer) or "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener..." (Oscar Meyer) ring a bell? What about "Like a good neighbor" (State Farm) or "give me a break" (Kit Kat)? I would venture to say those marketing reps were on to something. In much the same way, songs have the ability to cement and solidify a scripture in your heart- for life. Great news though-you don't have to be a songwriter to benefit from memorizing scripture with a melody. Did you know that many classic hymns are saturated in scripture? What a great way to get God's word in your heart and out of your mouth (where, again, it holds transforming power) than by singing it! Did you know there are actually scripture memorization CDs out there as well that have put scripture to music? Take a look at your favorite Christian bookstore or google some online.

4. Look for opportunities to allow the scripture to 'sink in.' The best way I've found to memorize scripture is to pick an area where I am personally in need of transformation and to then use a concordance or an online bible searching website to help me find a related verse. The key is then to look for ways to apply what I've learned. A great site I use is: www.biblegateway.com. Then, I soak my mind in it as I meditate on it and ask God to saturate my life with its truth as I pray it into my life.

5. Memorize with someone! This could be your spouse, your kids, a friend, a mentor, etc. Check in with each other and quiz each other from time to time. Work towards an incentive together and celebrate your progress along the way! You can memorize the same scriptures together or each choose different ones. Taking the time to share with someone else how the scripture you are working on has saturated your life and cemented itself in your heart. Over the last 2 years, I have had the mission to memorize 26 verses with my kids: one for each letter of the alphabet, each verse starting with a corresponding, consecutive letter of the alphabet. We memorized them each day as we were on our way to school, with one letter/verse per week or every other week, depending on their pace. I was amazed at how much and how quickly my then 3 and 5 year-olds could learn! It was a great encouragement to me that I was sowing these words not only into their hearts, but into mine as well. Now, over a year later, we still go back to those same verses during some of our teachable moments with them!

If you are looking for someone else to join on this journey, please feel free to join me! I'll be posting the verses I am memorizing each month on my Facebook in a note entitled, "Verses to Memorize this Year." I'd love to hear your stories of how God has transformed your life through His Word and to hear any additional tips you may have to offer in how you memorize scripture.