A Nifty Tool for 2011

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you will have learned about my love for a little site entitled, EXAMEN.me. There are 2 reasons I love this site.

  1. My husband created the site
  2. It really is an amazing tool to help others interact with God on a daily basis.

The past few months, my husband and brother-in-law have been working hard to create additional features to enable each user to continue to grow in their relationship with Christ.  Today the new feature was released.

30 New Reading Plans

Why are these reading plans so great you ask?  These are the top three reasons why I think these reading plans stand out.

  1. The first reason is the variety of plans that are offered. There are year long plans, 90 day plans, 30 day plans, 14 day plans, and 7 day plans.  Each plan varies in its purpose.  For example, there is a year long Bible reading plan that goes through the Bible chronologically, one that goes straight through from Genesis to Revelation, one that focuses just on the New Testament for a year, one that goes through the Epistles, and one that goes through the New Testament as well as the Psalms and Proverbs.    There are 30 and 14 day plans that take you through specific people or ideas in scriptures and various shorter plans that deal with life topics.  There literally is a reading plan for every personality and life circumstance.
  2. Each user can sign up for as many plans as he/she chooses.  If you want to go through 14 Days on the Life and Teaching of Paul at the same time as you are going through the Bible in a year and 7 Days on Money, you can.  When you login, you just choose which plan to begin at that moment.
  3. The days of the reading plan are not divided into actual calendar days.  Instead, you can go through the plan as fast or as slow as you wish.  For example, if you signed up for 7 Days on Focusing on Marriage and began the first day right away, the second day would be available immediately upon completing the first day.  This allows you to complete a 7 day plan in one day, 7 consecutive days, or 7 days spread out throughout the month or year.  I love this feature because typical reading plans confine you to completing the plan in consecutive days.  The flexibility of EXAMEN.me’s plans allows you every opportunity to succeed in the reading plans you signed up for.

These are just the top three reasons why I think you should all go check out the site.  You do need to create a free account in order to access the reading plans, but it will be well worth your time.   Click here to get to EXAMEN.me and start your 2011 with a plan in place to help develop an intimate relationship with Christ.

I just signed up for Gospels in a Month.  What are you going to start reading?

Last Minute Christmas Idea?

I can’t decide which one is my favorite.  How about you?

It’s Christmas Time Part 1 from Northwood Church on Vimeo.

It’s Christmas Time – Part 2 from Northwood Church on Vimeo.

It’s Christmas Time Part 3 from Northwood Church on Vimeo.

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with Brent and Chris for pulling these commericials off. Merry Christmas!

???

We’ve been planting grass seeds this month.  The kids only get to plant seeds when they show kindness or love to each other.   Needless to say, I frequently am told throughout the day reasons why one of them should get to plant more seeds.Fast forward to this morning…The middle child comes running, “mom, can I put more grass seeds in my pot? Justus was using the water in the potty to brush his teeth and I took his tooth brush and cleaned it off on your shirt and then brushed his teeth with it. Do I get grass seeds for that?”
I guess so???

Roots

“His thoughts said:

My longing is to heal the broken and the weak, to defend the maimed, and to lead the blind to the sight of the glory of the Lord.  My choice is to be a corn of wheat and fall into the ground and die.  Then why these waverings?

His Father said:

Too much of your surface is exposed to the breath of every wind that blows.  You must learn to dwell deep.

And the son who had wavered answered humbly,

Renew within me a settled spirit.  Establish me with Your directing Spirit.  My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.  I will sing and give praise. “

-Amy Carmichael

Reviewing

This week I’ve been reviewing the personal goals I set for myself for 2010.   Click here if you want to read them.

Honestly, I thought reviewing goals might be a bit discouraging, but I was actually encouraged.   Its fun to see what has been accomplished because I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t written anything down, I might feel like no growth had taken place this year.

Maybe most of life is like that.  We get so bogged down with the immediate plans, successes, or failures that we lose sight of the big picture.   Its good to see the year as a whole and not just in bits and pieces.   The small bits and pieces picture always reminds me of where I’m still needing to grow.  The larger picture seems to highlight where God has been working.

So here is my self-evaluation for the year…

1:  Consistency:  Definitely haven’t mastered this yet, but I’m a whole lot more consistent with my emotions, feelings, etc…than I was a year ago!  I sort of tricked my husband into answering this question honestly a few weeks ago, and he confirmed my success in this area.    Still a long ways to go, but I find it completely a God thing that my goal was to not let my emotions/feelings/ideas control me, and then I stumble upon a Bible study over the book Renovation of the Heart.   The whole premise of the book is to learn to submit every ounce of you to God.  Pretty sure this study and the accountability of the group enabled me to grow in this area of my life!  God is really fun in how He works out our sanctification!

2. Health Goals: The half marathon helped me achieve this goal by pushing fitness to the forefront of my schedule.  Thanks dad!

3. Marriage Goals: I didn’t list those out on the site last year, but overall Brent and I have been consistent in our date nights and our quality time together.  I think me working on Goal #1 has really strengthened our marriage this year.

4. Family Goals: Our family devotionals still haven’t returned to what they were before the little man was born.  We used to do lessons, sing, dance, memorize scripture, and spend 30-40 minutes every night doing devotions.  We now are more in the 5-10 minute category.  We are needing to re-evaluate this for the next year.  The past few months, breakfast time has become our family devotion time and this has given us the most consistency.  We always cook a big breakfast so there is never a day that we don’t sit down together which makes it a natural time for our family to connect over scripture.  We’ll see what we decide for next year.

6. Money Goals: Our car was paid off and we have no car payment anymore!!  We have moved on to the student loan now.  2011 will be the year we get to say good bye to that beast!  Then maybe we can actually start saving for fun stuff =)

7. Personal Spiritual Goals: I have spent the year in the Gospels and I may continue.  It has been good to just study the life of Christ.  This advent season has been really impacting because of the study throughout the year.  There have been mornings when its my turn to read, I have to quit reading our advent devotional because I start to cry, and Brent has to take over the rest of the story with the kids.    As far as the discipline of simplicity…I’m still working on it but have definitely seen areas of growth.  Its now a default of mine to live in simplicity instead of a struggle.

8. House Goals: Structure:  I think this is still my biggest area of weakness.  I structure my mornings well, but my afternoons are still not that great.  This will probably continue to be my goal for next year.

So there you have my year in review.  I’m planning on spending the next couple weeks praying through what I think God may want me to work on for next year.   Have a great week of Christmas!!

Lazy….

The perfect adjective to describe our weekend. Wonderful would be the next adjective. Here’s a little picture sneak peak into our lazy last few days.

Rumors

I’ve heard rumors that Brent could sing songs before he could really talk in sentences.
It seems our little man is following in his daddy’s footsteps. Full sentences come out of his mouth if they are sung. One or two words come out at a time if they are spoken. His current favorite song: I Will Follow by none other than his favorite daddy.

Its Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas


A kitchen covered in flour, powered sugar, and frosting makes me smileThat much baking only means one thingChristmas celebrations are in full swing and I’m loving itHappy week before Christmas!

Sometimes in my desire to help people and fix  situations, I fall deep into sin.

Then I sit in service on Sunday, and Jordan so eloquently asks the question, “where is your focus?”  And the Holy Spirit uses the question to press into my heart and make me realize my sin.  My desire to help has turned into a fixation on the problems of the world.

I walk through Sunday afternoon battling my mind and continually reminding myself to praise God so that my mind will think of “the heavenly things” instead of being a slave to my own earthly “deceitful desires”.

“You are God over the universe.  You are creator and love your creation.  You alone are in control and will work all things for Your good.”

“You are good and You do good.”

“God, you alone are my king.  Not my desires or the circumstances around me that call out to me.  You alone deserve my energy and my thoughts.”

And by Sunday night, I am content.  A month long situation that daily consumed my thoughts as I struggled to find the best way to solve a problem began to look different.  My fingers opened and allowed God control, and He taught me again that no matter how much I work and strive, God alone has the best solution.   He has spent the last few days asking me “do you trust me?”  My answer is “yes” so my thoughts must reflect that, even if the outcome to situations is not what I would desire.  I trust God, and I believe He is God over all.
I hear the phrase  “there’s nothing left to do but pray” and my heart hurts.  Without prayer, my mind will continue to dwell on the things of this earth, and I will miss out on the glorious freedom that comes from walking in His Kingdom daily.

Kingdom walking requires a renewed mind that thinks in the presence of God continually.  I’ve been taught this lesson too many times to not have mastered it yet, but somehow, God, a patient God, continues to gently teach me again and again, through my desire to help people and fix situations, about fixing my mind on Christ.

There is freedom in Christ.

Walking in freedom regardless of life’s circumstances is my pray for us all today.  Let us learn to fix our minds heavenly as we walk through the rest of today.

Fridays…

Today we got to spend the day with this little sweet heart.   This is the little girl that I keep during the week.  Doesn’t she just melt your heart?!   Her mommy is pretty sweet too and working her little tail off to finish school for this sweet girl.  Pray strength for them when you think of it.   I spend most days holding this sweet baby and praying for the two of them. 

Except today the holding and praying took place in the wonderful world of IKEA.  A great place to Christmas shop because we discovered you can put your potty trained kids in their FREE childcare, buy your gifts, hide them in the car, go pick up the kids, and then feed everyone for $0.99 each.  The kids had a blast, Brent and I felt like we sort of kind of had a date (other than the 20 month old and 3 month old we were carrying around with us), and all Christmas shopping is now complete.   Genius.

The girls also got to go on a date with daddy this afternoon.   This was Elliana’s first time to go to a movie theater, and I’m going to bet I will never get her in one again.  It seems the movie “Tangled” was a bit too intense for her.  Her response when she walked in the door wide eyed was, “the ending was good…I guess…”

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening wrestling, reading happy Christmas stories, and praying she won’t be up all night with nightmares.  I hate to be woken up in the middle of the night….oh, and I feel bad for the kid and the whole nightmare thing too…but mainly I just hate to be woken up.

Happy Friday!