"Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ." - George Washington

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Goodwill OWNS

   I am so ridiculously happy right now! Just ask my mom and siblings. I just got home half an hour ago with lots of lovely things from Goodwill, just down the street.

   I have been severely lacking in my fall/winter wardrobe - I have only one long-sleeved shirt that I actually like and would wear in public. It was about time to do some shopping. With a little inspiration from Pinterest (<3) I was able to buy a wonderful variety of things.

   This picture inspired me to find a skinny belt and some cardigans, which I really am short on. Yeah, I have three cardi-vests, but no cardigans. And boy, is a cardigan useful! Always makes an outfit warm, and it can be dressed up, or down.
   I left the store with a tan cardigan, a navy V-neck sweater, and a big-for-me white and blue-striped blouse. (Because I like to have the shoulder freedom. And if it's hidden under a sweater or cardigan, who is going to notice that it doesn't fit?)

   I fell into an obsession with this idea --  wearing a belt over a tweed blazer. I didn't find precisely a tweed blazer, but still one I am very pleased with. I cannot wait to try wearing it somewhere.
   I also found a grey long-sleeved shirt that fits me perfectly. Happiness! I am so picky when in come to long-sleeved shirts. I hate turtlenecks. =P

   I actually have myself two pairs of oxford heels - a brown pair from Maurices, and a black pair that I picked up this weekend from a thrift store in Pella, Iowa. I would like to try wearing them this way.

   And the grand total is...

  $21.00! For six items! I am sooooo thrilled. ^.^

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pros and Cons

   Hey there, to my various visitors from Georgia! (I have been watching the feed, it looks like I have a cult down there.)

   I'm sorry I haven't been up to blogging much lately. I am truly busy, what with nannying twins, giving art lessons, teaching tumbling, and swing dance troupe practices and swing socials. Not to mention time with friends. Yup, I wasn't kidding! I'm so glad that I'm not in school on top of all of that. =]

   So blogging easily takes the back burner, it's more of a hobby and a way to share my thoughts when I feel inspired.

   Guess what? I am feeling inspired this morning.

   It was cold this morning, and this is just the beginning. The next few days, frost is expected. Oi...

   I hate winter. I really do. And right behind that is fall (despite my name, haha) because that means winter is coming. Why do I hate winter?? Because. It is COLD. I can't stand the cold. I would happily take a 100 degree day over a 0 degree day, anytime. Plus, I hate snow driving. I spun out three times last year, and I was scared to death every single time. If I never had to snow drive ever again, I would be one happy girl.

   Despite hating winter, and the cold, there really are things I love about this season - besides the holidays, and holiday foods. Those are a given. =)

   "I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad." And my favorite things all have something to do with staying warm. (Surprise, surprise.)
  • Wearing hoodies, lounge pants and heavy socks
  • The comforting sound of the heater humming
  • Watching the curtains dancing above the vent
  • Taking showers that are much too hot
  • Flannel sheets, and heavy blankets tucked under my chin
  • Keeping the heat in the car up full blast
  • Hot cocoa, hot tea, and more coffee
  • Wearing my gloves and scarves
  • (I'd say sitting in front of the fireplace, if we actually used it.)
What do you like or dislike about winter?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Not Perfect

   I did it again, killed my contentment. It's an act of murder that I occasionally pull off very well, naturally aided by my human sense of self-pity.

   For the sake of avoiding complaining, I won't tell you what I did, but I'm sure you could name it in less than two guesses. My thorn bothers me a lot more frequently than I let on. But I shouldn't have said that... unless it makes you feel better to know that I am fully human too.

   God bless my mother, I should know better than to complain to her. She instantly shot down all of my complaints, cutting me to the quick with truth that I can't avoid. I know that I'm not as bad off as I tell myself, and she knows it too. And every time, she has a new nugget of truth for me to add to my treasure. Last night, she told me that my state is a blessing. She has been praying for me to see that what I so quickly label as "suffering" is really a gift.

   Even now, it's difficult for me to fathom. My mind can't so readily believe something that doesn't make sense. But I know that she is right, and I ought to live by it. I can't live my life on the fence, wanting what I don't have. I'd be ignoring all the wonderful things that I already possess! I have been given many wonderful blessings that I couldn't possibly pursue under different circumstances.

   During my time with the Lord this morning, I spent all of my prayer time wrestling with resigning myself to the Lord. I want to believe His promises, I want to trust Him. I want to believe that this is good. Even more than the desire to wallow in pity, I want to be content, and to be satisfied in the Lord.

   Then I found a note I had written several weeks ago, in an odd place no less.

   Thus will He bring our spirits down,
And draw our ebbing comforts low;
   That saved by grace, but not our own,
We may not claim the praise we owe.

-- John Newton

   The Lord has put this thorn in my side to cause me to lean on Him. To depend on Him. To let go of the things I am clinging so tightly to. He suffered greater, unfathomable misery and abandonment on the cross so that sin would have no power over me. I ought not struggle with doubt and discontentment.

   Instead of bemoaning my state, I ought to be sending praise to the Father for giving me such grace. It's not what I don't have that I should be dwelling on. It pales in comparison to what I DO have.

   As I pondered and meditated, God brought several promises to mind -- to prove to me that He is sufficient, and I don't need anything else to make me happy.

-- God chose me, He loves me. I am His beloved.
-- I tend to reject Him, just like Gomer. I am prone to wander, I raise up idols and commit adultery. But the Lord is faithful! He always draws me back to Himself, He always forgives.
-- I am His bride, He purifies me and presents me spotless. Ephesians 5:25-27
-- He is the High Priest - the sacrifice for my sin, and the mediator of my prayers. He speaks to God on my behalf.
-- He is my refuge and stronghold. I run to Him for safety and rest.
-- He knows every trial I suffer, He knows every feeling. Like a best friend who has gone through the same troubles I have, and gives good advice and comfort.
-- Christ has my anchor within the veil, He keeps me securely in His presence and always draws me nearer. I know that I can't stray far.
-- He is the strength of my life.
-- I dwell in His presence, He hides me in His tabernacle -- His dwelling place. Psalm 27

   And so, once again, I remember Philippians 4:6-7. That is my formula for contentment. I will be anxious for nothing, I will not allow myself to be worried or unhappy over things that I can't control. Instead, I open my hands and let go. I lay it before God and leave it there. I thank Him for His grace, and his promises. I ask Him to be my sufficiency. I ask Him to make me satisfied in Him. And I wait for His incomprehensible peace to protect me. To guard me, and to leave me filled with joy and trust.

   I need nothing else. The Lord is enough for me.

Lamentations 3:22-26  |  Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “ Therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10  |  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Psalm 43:5  |  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No Right or Reason... complain.

   We all do it. And much, much more than we even realise. Have you ever tried to go an entire day without saying anything negative? That includes spilling your difficult day to your best-girl-friend, or texting someone to whine about how bored you are, or how long the line is, or that those pants aren't in your size. It includes groaning especially loud so that someone will maybe hear you and ask what's wrong. It includes sarcastic remarks and off-hand jokes that you really did mean. It includes muttering distasteful words under your breath when someone cuts you off in traffic, or when the dog wakes you up at 3am to go outside. It is thoroughly ingrained into our flesh and humanity, we want to spill it all, and we want people to react; to cater to us, to soothe us, to make us feel better.

   It is a gargantuan task to attempt to hold our tongues and bring our thoughts into subjection. After all, the tongue is the most untamable part of the body. And the mind can run "out of control", it's not a realm that we can physically manage, such as tying it down or exercising it. But we still aren't given license to let our tongues and minds run away, just because perfection is unattainable.

   I've collected a few pieces of prose and poetry that touch the subject of complaining, and they are very convicting. John Newton in his Olney Hymns (yes, I am still reading his works) wrote about prayer and he said:
Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain,
   And fill your fellow creatures ear
   With the sad tale of all your care. 
Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To Heaven in supplication sent;
   Your cheerful song would oftener be,
   "Hear what the Lord has done for me."
   You know it. It's all too easy to talk someone into a puddle on the floor, complaining about your boyfriend and how he is so very egotistical, and then the dress that got spoiled by some moron at the laundromat who wasn't careful with the bleach, and the dreadful headache you've had for the past few days -- oh allergies are just evil! -- and you know that funny noise the car has been making every time you turn on the air?...     Words flow apace when you complain.

   You know your friend isn't truly thrilled to be the captive audience, and when it all boils down, the long and short of it is simply:  Nothing improves when you complain. Your friend may be able to offer a bit of advice, but I know deep down, you weren't really looking for advice. And you won't use it...
Psalm 142:1-2
I cry out to the LORD with my voice;
         With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
         I declare before Him my trouble.
   There's only one person who will handle all your problems, and that is the Lord. He even tells us to "cast all our cares upon Him" because He cares for us. Send up your worries to God and let them go; move on. He will hear them, and He is the most reasonable and capable person to take care of them.

  Nobody wants to hear you complain, that's a good point to remember. You will have happier friends to be sure. But have you ever thought that you have nothing worth complaining about?

   Your 17-year-old pet died? Your special date night ended badly? The tire went flat again? That's nothing compared to the pain and suffering that someone else went through. For you.
A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,
   The guilt of all men bearing;
And laden with the sins of earth,
   None else the burden sharing! 
Goes patient on, grows weak and faint,
To slaughter led without complaint,
   That spotless life to offer;
Bears shame, and stripes, and wounds and death,
Anguish and mockery, and saith,
   "Willing all this I suffer." 
-- Paul Gerhardt
   Jesus Christ suffered ultimately for you, even bearing the reproach of His own Holy Father. And He did not gripe and bemoan His heavy task.

   The next time you want to open your mouth and wail, meditate upon what Christ went through silently. We have nothing worth complaining about, when we think of our trials in comparison to what Christ endured.

Lastly, John Newton also says in Cardiphonia:
"...the Christian submits to God's providential will; he yields to His sovereignty, acquiesces in His wisdom; he knows he has no right to complain of anything because he is a sinner; and he has no reason, because he is sure the Lord does all things well."
   Clearly, complaining is a bold declaration of a lack of faith in God. We are proving that we don't approve the circumstances that He ordained, and that we must have things our way. True faith understands that "all things work together for the good of those that love God, who are the called according to His purpose", and that if all things are good, our response should be deep gratitude. (Yes, I am even deeply grateful for our president, Obama. I know that he is there for a sovereign reason.)

   There's a large amount of evidence here, presented in opposition of complaining. We have no right to complain, as sinners who deserve far worse, who have an example of a Saviour who suffered silently. And if we truly believe that all that God does is good, we have no reason to complain.

   The more you practice avoiding complaining, the more your "cheerful song would oftener be, 'Hear what the Lord has done for me.'" No, your circumstances may not change. But your perspective will. You may find yourself more willing to see the grander things God has for you.

Philippians 2:14-18 -- Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
   Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

La vingt-neuvième journée {Day twenty-nine} 9.2.11

   Well, this is the last picture folks. Not because we are done house-sitting - we still have a few weeks to go - but I need to keep blogging. I have built up a large amount of notes for more blog posts and I need to write them while they are still here in my mind, ready to use.

   It has been a pleasure to keep this up, truly. I need to try it again sometime, when I have a shorter series to publish. Keep on reading my blog, I love having followers and feedback. =) To God be the glory.

La vingt-huitième journée {Day twenty-eight} 9.1.11

   Thursday was actually quite the interesting busy day! This is from our typical Thursday night swing social, and while I was there, I got a phone call from the mom I nanny for. She was on her way to the hospital, possibly to deliver the twins she was expecting. I kept on high alert for the next few hours, and finally at 11:11, she called one more time to ask me to be at the house and take care of Evan- it was the night!

   I have never spent an overnight baby-sitting. It was weird to not have to do anything but sleep. Evan woke around 4am, wanting to know why his parents had left. He was a little traumatized. =( But he went back to bed eventually.

   The next morning, we got a phone call! Jameson Andrew and Jillian Josephine were born around 12:30am, weighing 7.7 lbs and 7.1 lbs! They are so big and healthy, and honestly they are the cutest newborns I have EVER seen. =) No bias.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

La vingt-septième journée {Day twenty-seven} 8.31.11

   All by my lonesome. Again. Kristina has a reaaalllllyyy long class tonight, which isn't over til 10. -.-

   (Yes, that's the same picture as the last post...)

   I think I'm gonna break out the ginger ale... and... well... not much else because I'm out of groceries. =P So I'll break out the ginger ale and watch a sappy romantic movie or something. I'm in a down sort of mood.

   No, I'm not normally moody, and it isn't a girl thing. Truth is, my dear friend and mentor and adopted grandfather-figure passed away this morning. ='[ Dick Swisher.

   He had been fighting with cancer for more than a year now, and he developed tumors deep in his brain over the last few weeks, which led to a rapid decline. It was hard to watch, and we all knew he would be leaving soon.

   But if he were reading this, he would tell me "To live is Christ, to die is gain."

   I cannot... even put the right words together, to describe how he lived this. He lived "desiderio domini", longing to be with his Savior. He always had a gleam in his eye as he explained the wonders he had found in the God's Word, and truth that the Lord had revealed to him. He always had a grin on his face, he was never cross or sullen. He was thrilled to impart to me the things he had been taught, I was his Timothy and he was my Paul. I never doubted that he loved me and wanted me to seek the Lord and to seek for truth.

   I am who I am because of this wonderful man, Richard Swisher. He and his wife Dixie mentored me through a point in my life where I had to decide what I believed. I have been shaped by what they taught me. They helped to lay a foundation that I have built my faith and actions on. I owe them more than I can fathom.

   And even more unfathomable is the joy, and the look of utter ecstasy on Dick's face right now. I can picture so clearly in my mind's eye, him bowing at his Father's feet, with pure peace and joy, and adoration for the One that He strived to give glory to while he was here on earth.

   This all sounds so trite, human words aren't adequate for what I know deep within me. I long to be with Dick again someday, as does his dear helpmeet and wife Dixie. We will all bow at the Savior's feet and forever live in His paradise.

   Dick lived here with his true home always in mind. I could see it in that gleam in his eye, he was always in the presence of the Lord. May I live up to the legacy he left, may I never forget the example he set for me, and always strive to glorify God.

   Dear Heavenly Father, tell Dick that I love him, and I can't wait to see him again. If you give hugs in Heaven, give him one for me. =']

La vingt-sixième journée {Day twenty-six} 8.30.11

   All by my lonesome. Lovely day at work, and then... chillin' and waiting for Kristina.

   Yup, this was a very short post...

Monday, August 29, 2011

La vingt-cinquième journée {Day twenty-five} 8.29.11

   *does the happy dance* We're ahead of the game, we're ahead of the game! Instead of waiting til Tuesday to post a picture of us laying in bed tonight, I took initiative and took a picture of us ! Woo hoo!

   Today is a big day. *heart flutters nervously* Kristina begins school and I begin swing dance lessons and troupe practice. I am very excited, but also initimidated because life is jumping into full swing... and... summer's over. =[ No more takin' things easy til winter break, now it's work-work-work, go-go-go. *sigh* I feel like I'm in the winter doldrums. Not a good thing... but I'm also excited so I'll focus on the bright spots. =)

La vingt-quatrième journée {Day twenty-four} 8.28.11

   This is my 18-year-old and now licensed-to-drive sister, April. We had birthday cake for her on Sunday night, and sang to her really... s.. l.. o.. w.. l.. y.. just because she wanted us [not] to. >=) Most fun I have ever had singing the birthday song.

   We all spent most of the day relaxing at my home, after church. Nice lazy day, pretty chill. I liked it.

La vingt-troisième journée {Day twenty-three} 8.27.11

   Blurry. That's kinda how we feel, ha. Even on days off, Kristina has errands to run and home to be catching up with. I spend my free time home now and then, just getting little projects done here and there. And our paths still only cross at night, even on the weekends.

   I had a good weekend though, because I brought my family's dog Felix over for a little vacation. He is such a love-bug and I enjoy doting on him. (He's a pug by the way, such a goofy character!) I feel guilty though, I think Jackamoe, the dog we are taking care of, has become quite jealous. =[

Le vingt-deuxième journée {Day twenty-two} 8.26.11

   That... is a very [de]-appetizing picture lol. We made supper, at last! Actually, it was the second sit-down meal we have made. Kristina baked some chicken a few weeks ago, and this night we made mashed red-skin potatoes with gravy, meatballs, and fried sliced portabellos. MMMMmmmm. It was so delicious.

( ^^ those are the meatballs ^^ )

Friday, August 26, 2011

La vingt et unième journée {Day twenty-one} 8.25.11

   Ha, well this was pretty much a fail. I even edited it so we were more visible...

   This is at the Thursday night swing social, which was obviously rather dark. But regardless of how bad the picture looks, we had a fabulous time! As always. *grin*

   I am beyond thrilled because I was asked to be a part of the Alley Cats swing troupe!! I can't wait to learn more lindy hop, and perform here and there. Excitements!

Le vingtième journée {Day twenty} 8.24.11

   How unattractive... haha. This one took too many tries to get it right (hanging off the edge of the bed) it really didn't matter enough to get a good one.

   One of those days where our paths really didn't cross until 11pm, because Kristina was up and gone before I awoke, and I was done with work before she got back. So that's as much as we have to tell I suppose. =P

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

La dix-neuvième journée {Day nineteen} 8.23.11

   Because of the false alarm on Monday, the kid I am nannying went to stay with his gramma and I had no work on Tuesday. Soooo... I stayed at Kenyon all day and got a few things ticked off my checklist. And watched about 12 episodes of Pawn Stars... that show is so addicting. Chumlee rules.

   Then Kristina's family came over for ice cream, the population in the house pretty much quardupled. lol. Here are two of her brothers, Micah and Noah. Aren't they just too good-looking? They still think girls have cooties.

Le dix-huitième journée {Day eighteen} 8.22.11

   Uhhh... I'm not sure if I can remember what we did lol. This was definitely a busy day, and we decided to fall asleep on the matress in the family room, watching a movie. I picked Little Princess, so that meant I had to stay up and watch the whole thing regardless lol.

   This was Monday, I am remembering now. Work and home to see family, and whatnot. I was home late because the family I work for had a false alarm with the twin babies coming. Monday was not the day, Emilie tells me she's gonna do jumping jacks to get them to come. ;-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

La dix-septième journée {Day seventeen} 8.21.11

   One last day at the State Fair! So sad. It's like the end of the year, because school (and work of course) typically begins the very next day. Plus that all means that summer is over. No more break. No more vacation. No more State Fair. Leaves are begining to fall here and there, and it's actually cooling down. I'm kinda in a glum mood.

   This picture was in front of the ugly cakes. Our friend Sam won second with his skunk cake.

Le seizième journée {Day sixteen} 8.20.11

   Somehow, we've developed the habit of forgetting to take a picture before it's nearly too late. And that's easy to do when you have a phone that only lasts about 3 or 4 hours at the State Fair. >.<

   We listened to the Reba concert from outside the Grandstand, and the only song I recognised was "When the Lights Went Out in Georgia." Can't forget that one very easily.

   It was actually a lot more fun to watch the kids running through the fountains that night, several of them got hit in the face or the back when they weren't paying attention. None of them got hurt, it was just too funny.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Le quinzième journée {Day fifteen} 8.19.11

   Guess who made dinner??? *grin* I spent most of the day vacuuming and cleaning bathroom. And that was just the basement. Tomorrow I tackle the upstairs. Kristina does the laundry and dinner. Good trade-off I think. Someday I'll hafta do it all on my own though...

   Well this pic took long enough to take, we had about 15 do-overs. So this post deserves a bloopers reel. Bust a gut and enjoy yourself. At our expense...

Le quatorzième journée {Day fourteen} 8.18.11

   Sporting out National Guard [temporary] tattoos from the State Fair. To all those out there who serve -- Nick Vanderpool, General Schwab, Dan Springborg, my cousin Jordan Mossman and many others -- and also those who have served, thank you. You are always in our prayers.

   I do believe this post marks two weeks that we have been house-sitting. Holy cow! I can't believe how fast it has gone already. And just how long milk and bologna can last...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Le treizième journée {Day thirteen} 8.17.11

   The Band Perry concert!... was so packed that we couldn't see. ='( In fact, it was already packed an hour and a half before the show started. Yikes... I think next time they're in town, I need to see them. *see* them. I love The Band Perry.

   Here we are... not exactly watching the concert lol. Just chilling and listening. The extra friend is Isaac, Kristina's special friend. I guess in more ways than one, now that you mention it... ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Le douzième journée {Day twelve} 8.16.11

   Well, I failed. I failed at taking a picture yesterday. =( But in all fairness, it was late. We didn't make it to bed til 1am and we were shot. So this is from this morning, with our bed hair and without make-up. Yum.

   Today should be better, we are going to the fair to see The Band Perry tonight! Plus, it's my little sister's 18th birthday. *wow*

   I feel old now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Le onzième journée {Day eleven} 8.15.11

   "Our state fair is a great state fair--" Well I haven't missed it... but I am a little late. It's been happening since Thursday and I didn't make it there till today. Shame on me! I've waited all year for this.

   Free advice:  Don't forget to fully charge your phone before heading out to the state fair. Especially if you need to meet your ride at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place. Don't you think there should be a booth at the fair where you can exchange your phone battery?

   I snapped this pic *after* my phone died, but thankfully before it died again. I was also able to work out a meeting time with my mom. But I was still left wondering how I was gonna track the time... lol.

   Big event of the night -- watching the Josh Kelly concert. Never heard of him, but I liked him. Very fun and laid back, and he sang some good stuff. Most awesome of which was Cee Lo Green's "Forget You". Did I mention he is a country singer? Haha! He's also a better "country rapper" than Jason Aldean in my opinion. His "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" was fabulous.

   He also had some great songs of his own, I'm gonna go look up his stuff on iTunes later.

   "It's a hundred degrees and I'm all out of antifreeze!"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Le dixième journée {Day ten} 8.14.11

   Another one of those pictures where we sort of... gave up. lol. We couldn't get a decent one, so we went with "who gives a care?"

  Plus we are really sleepy. I spent a long day at home doing chores and putting together art supplies, and Kris spent an even longer day at the fair. Had just enough time to play a little Guitar Hero.

   And now we're merrily off to bed. Goodnight all, much love. *muah!*

Le neuvième journée {Day nine} 8.13.11

   Um... well so much for a relaxing weekend. Saturday was definitely a busy day. The only time our paths crossed through the day was in the morning before I left, and at night after she got home. Crazy.

   Also, you may want to know that we have found the source of The Smell! Since the first day we arrived, the pantry had something rank that we couldn't eradicate. It wasn't the garbage, and we couldn't see anything suspicious on the shelves. Finally the morning after coming home from Spirit Lake, it smelled like something had *died*. It was horrid, it was even making the rest of the house stink. We had to take drastic action.

   Well, Kristina took drastic action, poor girl. I took a shower... *cough*

   After clearing four shelves, she finally reached the last one and discovered... maggoty sweet potatoes. Sitting in an inch and a half of their own moldy juices. Ick.

   I opened windows all over the house and turned on all the fans. And we also put some bowls of baking soda in the pantry. The Smell still lingers... but thankfully only in the pantry and not the rest of the house.

   What a grand little adventure. Kristina is a saint.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

le huitième journée {Day eight} 8.12.11

   Home again, home again, jiggety jog. We had a marvelous trip to Spirit Lake! We were able to jostle my grandparents' memories and they told us lots of good stories, and we hung out with good friends, had the best laughs, made some crazy weird memories... some that you wouldn't believe if I told you. Well maybe you would have, but I'd like to think not! lol

   Now back to the routine... well we actually have a weekend still. *yay* So it's a few more days of a little chillin' before jumping out of relaxation mode. I picked up Guitar Hero from my house so we may end up using it pretty soon.

Le septième journée {Day seven} 8.11.11

    Yes, this time I am three days behind... or something like that. But I didn't really have access to a computer, nor time, so I can reasonably say that I was a bit too busy. But we've been having so much fun, as you can tell by our picture.

   We crossed "jumping into the lake with your clothes on" off of the bucket list the other day. *grin* Though we didn't get to run off a dock, we still had a blast at Pikes Point, with some old and new friends.

   This picture was taken at Pike's Point after we went swimming. I actually wouldn't mind doing it again, there's something rather fun and amusing about swimming with your clothes on.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

La sixième journée {Day six} 8.10.11

   This is Steve, or "Captain Crunch" as I just learned. (He was the captain of the Queen II and would crunch her while coming along side the dock. lol) It's actually just his statue, he's not alive anymore. But he wasn't too tall for us to get a lovely picture with him.

   Just one of the few lazy things we did this afternoon. We also drove along the east shores of West Okoboji and drooled and jaw-dropped at all of the inceredible houses. It's like a magazine picture -- every single house.

   Tomorrow we are gonna jump in the lake!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Le cinquième journée {Day five} 8.9.11

   Busy day today, what with work and spending time at home with family before we head up to Spirit Lake tomorrow morning. We went roller skating tonight, fun fun! And kinda creepy and ghetto, but hey, we can't all be home-schoolers. *smirk*

   Just got back from a visit to Dick and Dixie Swisher, to see Dick perhaps one last time. Very bittersweet. It was a blessing to see my dear mentors once again. Had brownies and ice cream at Dick's request, his best idea of the night. Sooo rich and yummy.

   Off to finish packing, so I can be up bright and early. See ya'll in Spirit Lake!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Le quatrième journée {Day four} 8.8.11

   See, I told you that I would catch up tonight. *grin* We're trying to finish our lunch meat before Wednesday morning, so it won't have to be thrown away or go bad when we head to Spirit Lake.

   Today was a typical Monday, we both had to work. But a friend is coming over for the evening... in fact I think he is here now... see you tomorrow!

La troisième journée {Day three} 8.7.11

   Yes... I realize that I'm a day behind. I will catch up tonight, I promise.

   This is Kristina and I watching Phantom of the Opera in the basement. We had to take numerous pics -- the lighting was too dark, the focus was off, she was cut out, then I was cut out... I finally gave up even though I blinked. *shakes head* That's what makes memories I suppose.

   There's only a lay-z-boy in the basement, so we needed to devise a way to get another piece of furniture to sit on, into the basement. Carrying a couch downstairs has turned out to be a bad option, so we pulled out a mattress from the storage room. Perfect!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

La deuxième journée {Day two} 8.6.11

   We survived the first night! This should be a good sign. *grin*

   We got up bright and early for the farmers market, and meandered around with friend for a few hours. I admired an adorable little fawn pug named Ginger, she was a little butterball! I think we need to bring my dog Felix over, to visit with Jack-a-moe Joe for a weekend. Who says dogs don't enjoy company?

   After the farmers market, we dolled ourselves up to go to a promotion ceremony. We just happened to bring matching dresses - both the same fabric and shade of grey. We must have been on the same wavelength as we packed. I also tried a new hairstyle, a waterfall french braid. So much fun! I will post a picture someday.

   Kristina's boyfriend's dad was promoted to a Major General. His ceremony was very personal and a blessing to be a part of, so glad to have the chance to go.

Friday, August 5, 2011

La première journée {Day one} 8.5.11

   A house-sitting adventure! With my bestestest friend! This will be so much fun. If we don't drive each other crazy anyway lol.

   Here is day number one, picture number one. After we carried in all of our stuff and put away our groceries in the fridge, we found a new jar of really yummy pickles. So we ate a few, because Matthew McConaughey is hot. =)

   I can't believe I will be living here with my best friend for so many weeks. I've never spent so much time away from home and family, even though I will still spend time at home. I sort of have double the chores, now that I have to go home and clean as well lol.

   Free advice:  Don't try to eat a Popsicle while blogging... it doesn't work.

   Anyway, I have all this time now on my hands, because I'm not home working on projects. I actually have a few interesting things to get through while I'm not at home, including a state fair tumbling performance, hashing logistics and working out a lesson plan for the art lessons that I will also be starting in this time frame, a trip to visit my grandparents in Spirit Lake, my sister's birthday and the arrival of twins to one of the families that I nanny for. Excitements are on their way.

   This will be the craziest August ever.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Foundations Part II

Mosaic Law

   First there was the covenant, then there was the law. Two parts to man's salvation. Moses presented Israel with the law, a pattern and a copy of something greater that God had in mind. God laid His plan of redemption deeper than anyone could have fathomed, and He tells it through all the law and the prophets. This can be seen especially after Christ's death, and His opening up of the Scriptures on the Road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:27)
  • The building of the tabernacle according to the pattern shown him on the mountain. (Exodus 25:9, 14) (Hebrews 8:5)
  • The ten commandments written on stone. (Deuteronomy 4:13)  <  The new laws are written on our hearts. (Hebrews 8:10)
   Side note of interest:  When commandments were written on tablets of stone, both parties kept a copy. Moses came down with the mountain with both copies -- the two tablets. Why did God give Moses His copy as well? I'm not sure...
  • The law was received through the Levites and was weak and unprofitable. (Hebrews 7:11)  <  Jesus gave a new law through the order of Melchizedek, according to the power of endless life. (Hebrews 7:12)
  • The law doesn't save, it only reveals sin. (Romans 3:20)
   The law is like a stethoscope; it can be used to diagnose a problem, but you wouldn't perform surgery with it. Also consider a mirror -- you use a mirror to see your reflection and to discern what needs to be changed. But you don't wash your face with a mirror. The law is similar. We can't gain heaven by following the laws because the laws only show us what we are doing wrong- what we need to change. We can't attain by ourselves the standard that God holds up.
    • Priests were appointed by law. (Hebrews 7:28)  <  Christ was made priest by an oath. (Hebrews 7:21)
    • Priests were of the tribe of Levi. (Deuteronomy 10:8)  <  Christ is High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:20)
       The tribe of Levi was special. When the Promised Land was being divided amongst the tribes of Israel, the Levites were given no inheritance. Rather, they were given the responsibility of serving God in the temple. Thus the children of Israel were to pay tithes so that the tribe of Levi would be provided for. The Levites received tithes so that they wouldn't have to work in the fields or at a trade to earn their daily bread. They could then more fully focus on the Lord's work in the temple.
      • Melchizedek was without parents or ancestors, without birth or death. (Hebrews 7:3)  <  Jesus Christ... you get the picture.
      • The High Priest was chosen by God.
      • The High Priest was always moving, his job was never complete. (Exodus 29:38)  <  Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father, He made one sacrifice. (Hebrews 1:3)
         Our sins have been paid for, once and for all time. Not one was missed, and God, who is just, will not condemn us for something that was already paid for.
        • The High Priest suffered every temptation, but with sin, so he offered sacrifices for himself as well. (Leviticus 6:16) (Hebrews 5:2-3)  <  Christ suffered every temptation, but without sin, so he was the sacrifice. (Hebrews 4:15)
           This is rather a two-fold truth. The first part is Christ's ability to sympathize/empathize with us, because He was once a man. He suffered every single trial and temptation that we face, so we know that we are not alone and not some special case that no one understands. Christ can offer true comfort, and He will not test us beyond what we are able to bear. The second wonderful part is that He triumphed over every sin! He was perfect, innocent and holy, thus He didn't need to offer sacrifices for Himself. He WAS the sacrifice. He is the High Priest, AND the lamb. Wow.
          • The priest could not remain a priest forever, men die. And a priest only served as High Priest for one year. (Hebrews 7:23)  <  Jesus continues forever, and always lives to make intercession. (Hebrews 7:24)
            So this wonderful High Priest, who isn't just some holy dude who doesn't bother to understand what we go through, who really does know what is near and dear to our hearts and truly cares -- He lives forever! He will ALWAYS be speaking to the Father on our behalf. He knows what we need and He is able to provide it.
            • Priests ministered in the sanctuary and tabernacle made by man. (Hebrews 9:1)  <  Christ ministers in the tabernacle which the Lord erected. (Hebrews 9:11)
            • Animal sacrifices did not remove sin, they represented removal of sin and served as a reminder. (Hebrews 10:3-4)  <  Christ's sacrifice removed sin totally. (Hebrews 10:12)
            • The once a year sacrifice (the Day of Atonement) removed the sins that the people committed in ignorance. (Hebrews 9:7)  <  On the cross, Christ said "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:24)
            • The Holy of Holies, God's presence behind the veil where only the High Priest could go. (Leviticus 16:2)  <  Heaven, God's presence which we cannot see, where Christ is. We can approach by His blood, through the veil of His flesh. (Hebrews 10:19-20)
               There, in the Holy of Holies, in the presence of God was where the High Priest would speak on behalf of the people. When Christ died, the veil of the temple tore in two, signifying that the presence of God was with everyone. The Holy Spirit was later given to the Children of God. What that looked like before the Spirit and presence of God moved freely among men, I don't know. Another mystery to ponder.
               Anyway, Christ is now the High Priest in the very presence of God, interceding on our behalf... but we are in the presence of God too. Only on the earthly side of the veil. We too can speak intimately with the Father, and someday we shall be on the other side of the veil with Christ.

            A Few Other Thoughts...
              • The city of refuge. (Joshua 20:2-4)  <  We have fled to God for refuge. (Hebrews 6:18)
                 A place where no one dare condemn or harm you.
              • According to custom, an anchor was placed on another ship, and towed into harbor.  <  We have an anchor of hope, and Jesus is the forerunner; placing our anchor behind the veil, and towing us in. (Hebrews 6:20)
              • The dove and the lamb represented Christ's holiness and innocence.
              • The scapegoat bore the sins of the people and was seen no more. (Leviticus 16:10)  <  Christ has totally removed our sin, and it will be seen no more. He never brings it back up against us.
              • Sacrificed animals were taken outside the gate.  <  Jesus was crucified outside the gate. We are also to be outside the gate bearing his reproach.
              • The temple of Jerusalem.  <  Christ's body, the temple (John 2:19-22) and His Body the church. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
                 I'm only just getting the possible manifold meaning of this concept, Christ's body... from what Ephesians says, the body is the Jews and Gentiles -- the seed of Abraham -- unified, no matter what past differences have existed.
              • Circumcision of the flesh, descendant of Abraham. (Genesis 17:10-11)  <  Circumcision of the heart, seed of Abraham. (Romans 2:28-29)
              • The serpent lifted up in the wilderness. (Numbers 21:8)  <  The Son of God lifted up. (John 3:14)
                 The serpent wasn't what was believed in by those who looked upon it, it was the One who gave the promise.

              Tuesday, August 2, 2011

              Foundations Part I

                 "When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream."
              C.S. Lewis - The Last Battle
                 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
              Hebrews 11:13-16

                 This will be an extensive blog post -- more like a boatload of notes that I took while studying the book of Hebrews -- so I won't blame you if you don't care to read it. It's more for my satisfaction than anything else.

              *snide chuckle*

                 Anyway, these notes are the results of a sort of "pulling together" of all the tidbits of information, and the lessons I have learned throughout the years. It all started to fit like a puzzle, with hundreds of pieces finally matching up. It pleases me very much to see how the Lord has such a GRAND plan. I am beginning to see the forest, and not just individual trees. Only it's much more complex, and mind-blowing than that!

                 As I go through the foundations, I'm also going to parallel them with the true plan God had behind them. The first things that He had created and established were only mirroring something greater and purer.

              Abrahamic Covenant

                 The first foundation, for the WHOLE plan of God's redemption of man, begins with His covenant to Abraham... sort of. There are other verses where it is hinted at, like the Fall of Man when God said that the serpent's head would be crushed. But the covenant itself began with Abraham. Once I learned this concept of the covenant, all of Scripture fell into perspective. I still, by no means, understand it all, but I can try to explain.
              • A covenant that God made, to and yet without Abraham. (Genesis 15:9-17)  <  A covenant of grace that God made to us, and yet without us. Christ is the mediator of a better covenant, on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6)
                 A covenant made in the days of Abraham was a messy, bloody affair. Animals were taken and cut in half, and laid in two lines paralleling each other. Then the two parties of the covenant would walk down that path strewn with animal parts, and pronounce a curse upon themselves if they failed to hold up their end of the deal. Probably where the term "cutting a deal" came from, lol.
                 When God made His covenant with Abraham, he put Abraham in a coma, and in his sleep, Abraham saw the Lord walking between the corpses by Himself.
              • Men swear by something greater than themselves. (Hebrews 6:16)  <  God swore an oath by Himself, for no one is greater than He. (Genesis 22:15-16)
                 The Lord is immutable, and never changing. He cannot lie. Thus His word is sure, He will not go back on His promise.
              • God made the two-part covenant alone. (Genesis 15:9-17)  <  God elected us without our input. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
              • Abraham didn't have conditions to fill. (Genesis 15:9-17)  <  We are not saved by our works, or anything we can do. (2 Timothy 1:9)
              • Abraham only reaped the rewards of the covenant. He believed and it was accounted to Him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)  <  We will be rewarded with peace in paradise if we persevere. (Revelation 3:5)
              • The Covenant:  All nations through Abraham would be blessed. (Genesis 22:17-18)  <  Jesus died for people of all nations, not just the Jews. (John 3:16) (Daniel 7:13-14)
                 This is the meat of it, folks. Christ came and preached to the Jews first, but His mission was for people of all nations and languages. The whole world. Sure, the Jews were the Sons of Abraham. but why did Christ rebuke them and tell them otherwise? Because the seed of Abraham is Christ's elect- the children of God! "Father Abraham had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you..."
                 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
              Romans 9:6-9
              • The offspring of Abraham, the Jews, the chosen people group that bore the law and the prophecies.  <  The seed of Abraham, Christ's elect and chosen beloved. (Galatians 3:28-29)
              • Israel's rejection -- the first covenant, made with the forefathers taken out of Egypt, is obsolete. (Hebrews 8:13)  <  Gentiles election -- new covenant on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6) (Matthew 26:26-28)
              • Some Jews are elect as first fruits and a cultivated olive tree, some Gentiles are elect, as branches grafted from a wild olive tree. (Romans 11)

              Monday, August 1, 2011

              Prayers Needed

                 I have a few prayer requests that have been pressing my mind lately. And especially recently.

                 This morning, a much loved and admired TeenPacter, Jimmy Brazell went home. He just turned 19 in June. I did not have the privelege of knowing him but I have only ever heard the best about him! I have heard how he lived his life with his true home in mind. He had a brilliant passion for Christ and for the lost. He was sweet and encouraging. He was gifted at leading worship, he truly worshipped his Lord. This world will miss him very sorely. His family is surely grieving his loss.

                 Baby John TenPas needs prayer, as well as his parents. He was born 2 weeks ago with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome- only half a heart. He has come through his first operation very well, and the surgeons have reconstructed his heart. Now his parents are waiting for him to be weened off of all the machines he has been on. They have been keenly aware of God's peace and strength, they are giving God glory through all that has happened.

                 Michael Moede is in need of much prayer and encouragement, as he is slowly dying from a brain tumor. He is only 13 years old; an only child, and a miracle baby. Pray that he has patience, contentment and courage as the Lord draws him home. Lord grant him peace with his family. Pray that his parents will continue to seek the Lord and rest in Him.

                 Finally, a prayer much dearer to my heart. My art teacher and her husband have been mentors of mine through an important stage of my growing up. They taught me to search the Scriptures, and to sharpen my talents from the Lord, as well as doing all for His glory. Now Dick Swisher, who has been suffering from cancer for about a year, is being drawn home to his Lord. He truly desires to see Him face-to-face.
                 Dixie and Dick need prayer for peace and strength, Dixie especially as she is watching him decline. My mom just visited and tells me that Dick is like an alzheimers patient, confused and losing his memory. This must be so very hard for Dixie.

                 I pray that the Lord's will would be done, and that He would grant faith, and peace and tender mercies to all those who are suffering.

              Sunday, July 31, 2011


              I am now the proud owner of three Polaroid cameras! =) Three garage sale finds (my mom spotted them all), all in Spirit Lake and all dirt cheap. One even still had seven unused exposures left! What a treat.

              The first one I got was this Spirit 600, the one with the unused exposures. I think I paid $3 for it. It's also the same model I bought at a different garage sale for $2.
              This one was the second one I found. I really don't know anything about it, except that it must be an older model, because it doesn't have a flash. It requires a disposable flash actually. I bought this one for a quarter.
               They are great fun to decorate with!
               One of the photos taken with the first Spirit 600.
              Love these cameras! Only thing is, the film is not easy to come by, and definitely not cheap. But it's out there! =)

              Thursday, July 28, 2011

              Good Reads

              I'm back again! I suppose it took me long enough. =] I've had my blog on my mind a lot and so I decided to sit down and type and I figured the topic would come to me. And it did! =)

              I wanted to say a few words about my new favorite author, John Newton. Anybody remember him? Perhaps he might have been relatively unknown a decade ago, but since the making of the movie Amazing Grace, he has gained some popularity. Now practically everyone knows who William Wilburforce, Olaudah Equiano and William Pitt the Younger were. John Newton was a friend and mentor to William Wilburforce, and the pastor of a parish. He was also a former slave trader, and the author of the world's most famous and best loved hymn, Amazing Grace.

              Excuse me for a moment, I smell my coffee perking at last...

              ...mmmmm ^.^  Finally, a cup of piping hot coffee.
              Interlude over, back on topic-

              Yes, John Newton wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. But that was by no means at all, the only hymn he wrote. He wrote a whole book of them! At least to my knowledge, I am sure there are many more that I don't yet know about. Anyway, this book of hymns that he wrote is called his Onley Hymns, and Amazing Grace is just one of hundreds of wonderful poems. The book is in sections, the first section being hymns written on certain choice texts from the Bible, all the way from Genesis to Revelation. (Amazing Grace is one of those, written from 1 Chronicles 17:16-17.) The second section is hymns, or poems rather, written on "occasional subjects".

              He was a very gifted poet and a very thought provoking writer. He has a way of revealing to you the wretch you really are, rejecting the gifts and privileges Christ offers, and returning His faithful love with adultery and idolatry. He makes you see how your sin and pride taints and smudges everything you do, even your worship and prayers. You begin to understand what Paul meant when he wrote that he was the chiefest of sinners. (I always wondered how the greatest apostle could think that of himself.) You begin to see your hopeless state, your rejection of the Lord who loves you so deeply that He sacrificed His greatest treasure.

              But he doesn't end it there, he also speaks of God's grace. His marvelous grace, that gives us hope, and promises a future rest in Him. Forgiveness that covers a multitude of sins. A wise Father who softens our stony hearts and gives us love, to love Him in return. We are stripped of every hope and plea, but what is provided in the free grace of God.

              I read four of five of hymns every morning, during my private time with the Lord. It is the most humbling thing, to ponder what his poems mean. I highly, highly recommend finding a copy of his Olney Hymns. I know that Google books has a free ebook, and there are still hard copies out there to be found. I know that in the future, I will be posting some of his hymns on this blog.

              Along with that, I wanted to recommend Cardiphonia, his book of letters to his parishioners. It has much the same effect on one's pride that the Olney Hymns does, only it's not written in poem form. The letters are short and easy to read and digest, which is especially nice considering pastors veer towards long-windedness. They also go much more in-depth and can discuss one topic in several aspects, over a series of letters. You go from despairing through one letter, to a bit more hopeful in the next, to rejoicing and gratitude, etc. John Newton was very thoughtful and thorough. He thought of himself as specializing in the anatomy of Christians, analyzing the human heart and emotions in varying circumstances.

              I won't take up more of your time, I just wanted to put that bug in you ear, and encourage you to find those books. They are full of treasure and wisdom!

              God Bless!

              Monday, July 18, 2011

              Uh Oh (for a lack of better thoughts in my brain)

              Uh oh, I'm just realizing how long it has been since I have blogged. My last post was the 29th of June, and I'm thinking that was quite a few days ago...

              Normally, when I have a lull this long on my blog, it means that I haven't been faithful in my personal time with the Lord, and I haven't been learning anything. But that's not the case this time around. I have been stoically faithful in my time with the Lord for several weeks now, still maintaining my hour a day (thanks be to God). I've also been learning quite a lot... perhaps that's my "problem". I have been learning so much that I don't know what to write... so I just don't write.

              I look at blogs of friends who write nearly every day, and very well too! They write so creatively and engagingly, on whatever whim they follow, or where the Lord leads them. I'm not nearly so dedicated, and I am envious of them.

              I have said several times before that diligence is not one of my strong points. Especially where Bible study, pen-palling, and blogging are concerned. But I actually have a handle on two out of those three, now (God be praised). I have already mentioned stoically spending quality time with God, and now I have managed my pen-palling quite well by paring down my 15+ pen-pals to only 2. Cruel I know, but I'd like to see you try to be faithful to 15+ pen-pals. Let me know how that goes for ya...

              Now to master the diligence of my own blog, which I think I would like to keep as a priority.

              Is this boring to read? I'm sorry, I'm just having my first real cup of coffee today and it's 4.28pm. I'm not sure how I survived the commute home actually. (Just kidding, Mom.)

              Well that's one way of covering my hind and saying "sorry " for being a bad blogger. I am still trying to persevere. I know that if God didn't want me to be blogging, I wouldn't have been here for so long.

              And I am here, so I ought to make the most of it. God willing, I will do better. After I have some more coffee...

              P.S. Why does it feel like this must take 10 minutes to read, and then I re-read it in only 30 seconds...? I lose track of time so easily when I'm typing. My mind works too fast for my fingers I guess.

              Wednesday, June 29, 2011

              Devoted to Devotional Time

              I have been going back and forth with myself, whether I should write this or not, but I suppose I will. Not for any congrats and praise, or scorn and judgement, but just to offer a challenge and some encouragement. I want the Lord to be glorified and worshipped, and I want you to be enjoying Him, and revelling in His rich wisdom.

              I hesitate to write this post, not because I'm ashamed, but because I don't want any praise or credit, and I don't want to boast. So very humbly...

              I want to challenge you to something that I've given more than a stab at:  Devote at least one hour to your personal time with the Lord, every day.

              For some of you, that may be pencil dust; perhaps you already spend 2 or 3 hours a day in the Word of God. Good for you, God be praised. I can only imagine how much knowledge of God that you have been given. What a blessing to be so committed.

              But perhaps most of you (that's a stab in the dark, only God really knows everyone's habits) are like me, doing what I have done in the past. You are stuggling to spend even 15 minutes with the Lord, squeezing your Bible reading in whenever you have a "breather". You're checking it off of the to-do list, though you wish you weren't. You are hungry to know more of God, but when it comes time to read the Scripture, you'd rather clean your room.

              If you are a human, you are guaranteed to struggle and we have all done those things. You are not alone, you aren't the only heathenous, lazy Christian on the planet. But that's no excuse. God desires obedience more than sacrifice, meaning He would rather that we do the right thing in the first place, instead of repenting later and making up for our mistakes.

              John Newton wrote in one of his Olney Hymns:

                   But ah! my inmost spirit mourns,
              And well my eyes with tears may swim,
                   To think of my perverse returns;
              I've been a faithless friend to Him.

                   Often my gracious Friend I grieve,
              Neglect, distrust, and disobey,
                   And often Satan's lies I believe,
              Sooner than all my Friend can say

                   He bids me always freely come,
              And promises whatever I ask:
                   But I am straitened, cold and dumb,
              And count my privelege a task.

              What you may need is a change of perspective. When you see your devotional time as something to check off the list, and a chore - no matter how indespensible - it becomes a burden. You approach God's presence with the wrong mindset, already thinking of the next thing you ought to be doing, instead of leaving all else behind and focusing devotedly on worshipping and learning.

              Here, John Newton points out that our mindset ought to be that of a priveleged friend. You are deeply indebted to the Lord for His faithfulness and unconditional love. He is the King, the only Potenetate and it is a privelege that you are even able to approach His throne of grace. And He promises to hear us and takes the most tender interest in us. Why would we want to count that blessing a mere chore?

              So I'm coming back around to my challenge. I want you to spend at LEAST one hour in your devotional time with the Lord. What that looks like depends on you. You can study in a prayer closet, or on the back porch swing, or even sitting in bed. You can meet the Lord in the evening at sunset, or during your lunch break, or early in the morning. I prefer the morning, because it starts my day right, and there are several Psalms that tell of seeking the Lord early in the morning. Even if it means getting up an hour earlier than I would prefer, I still make it the very first thing I do when I wake up. It is what all my priorities are built around, and by keeping it there, I'm not distracted by what I need to be doing later on. It makes it that much easier, really and truly.

              You also don't have to make that one full hour of reading your Bible. I include writing in my prayer journal, reading hymns, studying and memorizing scripture, and reading a few pages of some old works like Newton's Cardiphonia and Luther's Treatise on Good Works. Feel free to tailor your plan according to what works for you. We aren't made with cookie cutters, and there is no cut-and-dry plan that works from person to person. That's the way God made us, we all have different gifts and worship differently. Let that reflect in your private time with God.

              You may be thinking an hour is a bit too much... I will boldy argue that it is not! It is much, much harder to commit 15 minutes that comes and goes, than it is to plan a good, hour long 'meal'. Give it two weeks and you won't even know why you thought an hour was long. I have been devoting an hour of my time with the Lord for two and a half weeks, and I'm seriously considering upping it to an hour and a half. The more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you want to spend with him! The more He feeds you, the hungrier you get.

              "Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:3

              It's like a 'viscious' circle; the more you delight in the Lord, the more that He becomes your desire, and the more you are satisfied and content.

              I can't urge you enough to 'take a stab' at this. Pray about it, and if you approach this opportunity with a willing heart, you WILL BE blessed. Those who seek the Lord will be satisfied. But more on seeking the Lord in another post, Lord willing.