January's End

Friday, January 31, 2014

How is today the LAST day of January? 

Frankly, looking back on this month has me feeling productive and blessed and sad to see it go. 
Over the course of January all of these things were accomplished:
* I chose GATHER as my word for 2014.
* I began a "read through the Bible as fast you can" plan.
* I learned to make YUMMY Mexican Rice. (I'm planning to share that with you soon.) 
* I packed up the contents of my bedroom to make room for the construction going on in there.
* The reality of CHANGE in my bedroom forced me to get a better idea of my plans for the space.
* A snow day happened - I bundled up and took some pictures (I wimped out the other times).
* Progress was made on a speech class I'm taking. Project 2,  a speech on George Washington is COMPLETE. 
* As of Tuesday, I'll be DONE with that math class I've been working on! 
Highlights from January:
* Spending the first day of 2014 at Jay's house.
* Celebrating Epiphany complete with a middle eastern feast.
* Going through Downton Abbey from the beginning.
* Skyping with friends. 
* Having so many visitors and reasons to celebrate! My favorite visit was the week I got to spend with Heidi's daughter! 

* Trying out Ree's recipe for Oatmeal Bars that I found in the back of a book...

* Learning that Ree writes children's books! My favorite so far is "Charlie Goes to School". 
* Spending several days with Alice, just because. 

January is over. I now have a HUGE window in my bedroom (the work isn't quite finished yet). I'm WAY closer to being able to say I'm DONE with college. Oh, and winter? It's one month closer to being OVER. 
What was accomplished in your life in January?
 What were some of your highlights?
I know February will fly by even faster, it always does...Are you ready?

Hitting Shuffle

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amy inspired yet ANOTHER post when she hit shuffle on her ipod and listed the first 15 songs to play on her blog earlier this week. I told her I would do it too, so here you go, Amy! :) 

First 10 Songs after hitting shuffle:

*Mayhem's Life by Skrip
*Greater Than We Can Imagine by Sovereign Grace Music
* Know Me by Trip Lee
*Devil by High Society
*Call Me Back pt. 2 by PRo (now Derek Minor) (ps...This has inspired SOOO many voicemails between my brother and I - [or is it, me? You get the idea!])
*Behold the Christ by Trip Lee 
*Illogical by Skrip
*Robot by Trip Lee
*Open Your Eyes by Andrew Belle

BONUS Round:

*Undeniable by Mat Kearney
*Go Buck by FLAME (one of my favorite concert songs!)
*Hollywood by Tedashii
*APB by Lecrae
*More Than Useless by Relient K (This one reminds me of high school)

What songs come on when you put your ipod on shuffle? 

Winter is for...Movie Marathons

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On the weekends and sometimes in the evenings, I really enjoy having something to watch. Between Amazon Prime and Netflix, it is rare that I watch something I actually own.

Some of my favorites this winter have been:

Downton Abbey -  I've been going back through all of the seasons. I have always liked Carson, but this time around, I'm beginning to like Mary, A LOT. 

Which character(s) do you like?

Manor House - I really enjoyed this "survivor" type TV show. People accepted a challenge to live in and run a manor house up to the standards and only using what knowledge was available during the early 1900's. If the challenge was to great or they couldn't keep up, participants were replaced. Who knows how accurate it was, but I enjoyed a behind the scenes look and a direct contrast between our lifestyles then and now. 

Ballykissangel - This is a very clean  TV show about a little town in Ireland. It centers around a pub (where the town kind of hangs out) and one of the main characters is a Catholic priest.

Foyle's War - I love a good clean murder mystery TV show and that's exactly what this is. It's set during WWII, but the main focus is a little English village where Foyle still has crimes to solve even though war is at the forefront of the rest of the world's mind. 

The Newsies - Friends in Massachusetts introduced this to me years ago and I shared it with my family earlier this winter. A musical set in New York is bound to be good! 

Sabrina - I'm talking about the movie starring Audrey Hepburn. Do I need to say anything else? 

We're No Angels - Good for a laugh and a small dose of sentiment.

The Harvey Girls - This is an older movie starring Judy Garland. It's set in a town whose only attraction is the railroad and more specifically the jobs it brings along.

Are any of these familiar to you?

What's been on your watch list this winter? 

The Circle: A Coffee Date

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I found out about another monthly link up called"The Circle" thanks to my friend Amy who is co-hosting along with Kiki this month! Apparently each month has its own theme. I'm excited to jump right in! 

*Where are you seated?*

By the window in my living room. I love coffee shops, but I'm not one to go there to work. In fact, I absolutely despise going out to eat by myself...If I'm going to a coffee shop to sit, I'll be meeting someone there! 
*What are you sipping/munching on?*

This winter, it's been hot chocolate. I'm usually a tea or latte drinker. Lately, I can't get enough of a simple mug of hot chocolate with a splash of milk and a giant marshmallow or two.

  *What you want to get off your chest first? (Feel free to be as deep as you would like.) *

 I've been thinking a lot about TIME lately. I live in a community where I pretty much know everyone that I see any given day. I've watched many of them grow old and quite a few of them begin to start their own families. I might comment on that...I'd ask you what you'd like to remember about the time you've had so far. 

I'd smile a lot because I've been a little overwhelmed by just how special the relationships I have built over the years truly are. 

After that, I'd get down to the meat. I'd ask you how you're REALLY doing. I'd love to hear about what you've been learning from God through your time in His Word.  

*If you could choose anyone (besides us of course) who would you have coffee with?*
Besides all of the girlfriends I have and the dead guys I'd love to meet...I'd pick:
John Piper - I'd just like to talk to him about life as if he was a wise man that lived next door. 
Dennis and Darlene - they're an older couple that have been a big part of my life ever since I met them quite a few years ago...I've spent a lot of time with them particularly over the last few summers. They're over 70 but I've had more midnight conversations with them during my visits than with anyone else. I haven't really seen them since fall and I've been missing them lately. 

Mary Higgins Clark - Yes, the queen of suspense. I've always wanted to meet her. Her books made me fall in love with NYC and Cape Cod. We'd talk about writing and her travels and hopefully have a good long chat about God.

*What is inspiring you lately?*

 Reading through the Bible instead of books the way that I read books (post on that here). 

The freshness of a new year.

The progress of the work being done on and in my bedroom.

Thoughts of worship, emotions, and the human mind. (You'll probably hear more about all of that here sometime.)

*What are your plans after coffee?*

I'll tidy up my spot by the window, start some laundry, and grab lunch.

When Vacation Helps Your Faith

Monday, January 27, 2014

Back in December I worked my way through this book about a trip Lynn Austin took Israel.

I'll be honest, this book intrigued me simply because it was a chance to read someone's travel journal. I LOVE travel journals, but I rarely get the chance to actually read the ones other people wrote.

The fact that this was a travel journal about a journey through Israel really didn't even play a factor in my interest of the book - initially. Then I started reading...I quickly realized that hearing about the places Jesus and so many Christians have spent their lives was really interesting.

Austin writes about EVERYTHING. What she saw, what the tour guides were like, her own thoughts, and what this journey meant for her own personal faith.

I like people who write about EVERYTHING.

I would love to talk about this book with someone who has actually been to the places she wrote about! I would love to compare their thoughts to hers.

Some books tell a story. Some books take you to the place where the story happened. This book does BOTH.

Pick up a copy by clicking HERE and just TRY not to begin dreaming up a trip of your own!

I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review. All thoughts and comments are my own.

The Revolving Door

Friday, January 24, 2014

 I have about a million things to write about and what do I do? Not write...

I think it's time for a recap! So far 2014 has been a FLURRY of activity.

Frankly...I just need to do a recap of the last few weeks. 

*Two weeks ago, my friend Heidi and her family came down for the day on Saturday.

Her daughter stayed for a week and I had FUN. Trips to the library, lunch of fun plates, snacks in between meals, walks, playing with things like blocks and marbles and crayons, playing in the bath - life is exciting when you're four!

*We've celebrated three BIRTHDAYS this month.

I made chicken divan with bread sticks and salad with Angel Food Cake for Jay.

Then there was pizza and Caesar salad with Drumstick Cream Cheese Brownie thing for my brother's 14th.

Last night, I fixed steak, baked potatoes, and salad with chocolate, chocolate cupcakes for Ron.

*My Grandparents came for a visit last weekend.

*Monday brought a huge dose of CRAZY. The basement windows are being dug out which means there is one guy coming in and out of our house all day. I get it, it'd be awkward if he knocked every single time he came in, but still...It's kind of strange for a 6ft something construction worker to be coming in and out unannounced.

Yesterday morning, he came in at 7:30am...Mind you, I am sleeping in the living room because my room is TORN APART. So, there I am laying in the floor. The back door opens and I hear a booming, "How art thou?" You get the idea.

After a whirlwind of packing and furniture moving, there is now constant in and out, banging, sawing, and a radio that can be heard throughout the house. I kind of like the chaos. Plus, I am SUPER EXCITED about all of the light that will be coming in the windows and the fresh air that I will now have access to!

*It's been WARM and COLD.

*I've been finishing up my math class, switching out Christmas decorations for a few more snowman items, cooking and cleaning for all the parties and guests, reading through the Bible (I'm in 1 Samuel now), and watching Downton Abbey.

Now I really want to hear from YOU...

How has your 2014 been going? 

Any CRAZY stuff happening in your house? 

What are your evenings filled with? 

My friend Amy hosts these posts!

Ships Going Somewhere

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A few years ago, Hebrews 6:19 was showing up everywhere online. You probably know it. In the ESV Hebrews 6:19-20 says, 

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, 
a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 
where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, 
having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."

(The book of Hebrews is so good....I can't wait to get there in my reading plan!!!)

When I first saw that verse going around, I was right in the middle of adding some details to the hall bathroom. I happened to see two things to hang on the wall that matched with the paint and the shower curtain...You guessed it, they were beach related! 

I framed one of my favorite pictures and then decided to design a print based off of that verse in Hebrews. Unfortunately, I put it on the wall in my bedroom for safe keeping (until I got a frame for it). That was in November of 2012...Oops! I was reminded of all of that when I took it off the wall earlier this week in order to prepare for the work being done in there. 

This morning, I came across Ephesians 1:18 which says,

 "I pray that the Father of glory enlighten the eyes of your heart, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you." 

In God we have a higher call than to simply know Him or serve Him or worship Him. We have a hope which is THE HOPE. God made it so that we could KNOW what that hope of ours really is. 

The hope is a sure and steadfast anchor. The hope goes before us. The hope is for us to know. The hope is Jesus. 

By the hope we are made new. By the hope EVERYTHING changes. 

In an article posted on the Reach Records website, they were talking about their mission as a record label. With the dawn of a new year, we're all kicking around ideas about our mission. In the article they said, "the ship isn't floating aimlessly around the sea". 

I love these verses. I love the hope that is mine. My prayer for 2014 is, "Lord, may the hope keep me from floating aimlessly around the sea." 

May we be ships that are going somewhere. May the eyes of our hearts SEE that we may KNOW what is the hope to which we have been called.

The Thing About Friends

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Friends are great! Over the last five years or so I've made a lot of new friends. The thing is, only a few of them live within visiting distance from me. The rest of them are sprinkled all over the map.

This long distance stuff means that I go through spurts....Spurts where I'm driving a lot trying to see everyone, or keeping the guest blankets cycling through the machines trying to host them at my house. Spurts where I'm texting, talking on the phone, or skyping WHENEVER there is a time that is convenient for both of us. 

The spurts kill me. I can't say enough how much I love people and what a role these friends play in my life. I just long for a day when the connecting happens more easily so I don't feel like I'm always playing "catch up". 

Over the last week I've skyped for HOURS with my friends Shauna and Hannah and Glenn and Carol. I've talked with Heidi on the phone and over text. I've visited Alice. I still owe my Dad a call and I'm about to board a plane to get some time with my brother (joking on that one, but I keep trying to get in touch with him at the wrong time and it's kind of driving me crazy). 

I don't exactly know how to balance it.

The fact is, most of my friends live in different time zones. We all have lives and unfortunately, we're not really an actual part of each other's lives these days. Maybe you've got a similar situation?

How do you stay in touch with the people in your life? Is it just me, or are spurts just the way it is? 

 I think about connecting with people who are lonely in my community...There's a need for it. 

But then, I think about all of the people I'm already neglecting. 

Friendships take work and time and I'm so grateful for all of the people I have gotten to know in this life. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I know I'm not alone here. I'm writing to remind myself and all of you that our friends are worth every ounce of work that keeping them in our lives requires.

May we use our friendships as a means to build each other up, to inspire one another to take knowing and walking with God seriously, and may the distance not be such a burden. 

The thing about friends is they're great. I enjoy mine so much! May our relationships help our friends know just how much they mean to us! 

Something Important

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

This is a quote that will stay with me for a while. I took one of my pictures from last fall and put the words over the top of it! 

WHATEVER we do, WHEREVER we are, ONE thing is always most important - we need to be able to dwell on the things of God. Dwelling on those things is ONLY possible if we are actually familiar with them.

May 2014 be the year when you gather yourself around God's Word. 

May 2014 be the year when you gather for yourself treasure from God's Word.

I cannot say it enough - time with Him is never, ever wasted. 

Happy Tuesday! 

Aiming in 2014

Monday, January 06, 2014

A few years ago I found out that the average person can read the Bible in about 90 hours.  I still haven't put in the 90 consecutive hours to accomplish this goal. Those 90 hours are pretty much always floating around in my brain.

Peter Kroll recently posted about his strategy for reading through the whole Bible. He is a reader and he applies his love for reading to the Bible. You can read the post over HERE if you like. 

His strategy is this - at the beginning of the year he puts aside all other reading and only reads the Bible until he has read through the whole Bible. 
If you read the article by Kroll, you'll see that during this "run" he reads just to read, knowing that he'll be done soon and then he can pick up studying again. 

I thought this was a great idea! I've always loved books and words. Over the last few years I've become more of a reader. I'm still no bookworm, but I thought, "I can do this!". 

I printed out a Chronological reading plan and I'm aiming to read the Bible the way that I read books until I've read through the entire thing. 

As of last night, I've read through Genesis and Job and I'm halfway through Exodus.

What's your strategy? How are you reading the Bible right now?

Basically, I'm excited to see ALL of Scripture over the course of just a few months in order to see the bigger picture more clearly.

In a post of his own, Justin Taylor laid out some specific plans for reading the Bible in 2014. You can read the post HERE.

He quotes Thomas Watson who said, 

"A Christian without meditation is like a solider without arms, or a workman without tools. 
Without meditation the truths of God will not stay with us; 
the heart is hard, and the memory is slippery, and without meditation all is lost.”
How true Watson's words are! 

My heart IS hard. My memory IS slippery. I need to be IN the Bible so that my tools stay sharp and my soul has TRUTH to meditate on. 

My library card won't be very busy and my goodreads won't be updated...but my SOUL will be GATHERING treasure! 

Won't you join me?

2014: One Word

Thursday, January 02, 2014

I've been writing this post in my head since Saturday while I was driving with my Mom and brother and sister to do some shopping in another town. It was a cold, foggy day and the van was quiet.

As we were driving along I suddenly realized that because of the fog I had no idea what was beyond us more than thirty feet in any direction. Sure, I could see a bit of road ahead of us along with some pieces of field to the left and right of us, but outside of those borders, I was clueless. 

That was the last Saturday of 2013, so naturally I was thinking about 2014. 

It hit me. This year, like other times in my life, I'm in a place where there is a lot of FOG. 

The fog gives me BORDERS. I really have no idea what God has in store for 2014. No amount of looking gives me even a HINT as to what lies ahead. 

Many people are quick to offer me patches of field to the left and right...Yet, I'm quite happy right where I am. I am enjoying "the ride in the van".

In other words...
2013 came to an end. The fog settled in, leaving me with no idea as to what will be ahead.  Though the fog surrounds me, I know where I am and I know what joy God gives me in that place. 

Whatever IS beyond the fog, my word for 2014 is simply this, GATHER

In Jeremiah 23:29 it says, "Is not My Word like fire, declares the Lord..." In the advent study, "Good News For Great Joy", John Piper wrote of this Word, "Gather ‘round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights."

 As far back as August, I thought my word was going to be DECLARE. Then it kind of morphed into DECLARE and DEMONSTRATE. And now, all of that is tied together in one simple word - GATHER

I chose gather because:

it's a call for ME to gather MYSELF around this fire of God's Word.

it's a call for ME to gather FOR myself the warmth of WISDOM that I find there.

it's a call to gather OTHERS with me by pointing them to God's Word. 

it's a call to gather WITH others in order to go TOGETHER in the ways of WISDOM. 

Love God. Love people. Fight sin. 

It's the theme, the aim, of every year that I call earth my dwelling place. 

In 2014, I have one hope and that is that God will gather His people to Himself. 

My part is to DRINK and to DECLARE and to DEMONSTRATE. 

God's Word is so many things and every single one of the things that it is can be summed up in this: LIFE giver and sustainer. 

The fog may be thick, but of this I am sure, God is calling His people to GATHER; where He calls, He leads. 

GATHERING near the Word by myself and alongside God's people, I will find everything necessary to continue hoping in God. 

Hoping in God, 2014 will be a year well spent.

The fog may lift, clear, or thicken, but the fire, the fountain, the bread, will be there ready for us to gather, to drink, and to feast upon...This Word does not disappoint because it comes from the One who is the most satisfying.