Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolved to simplify!

I surprised Big D with my clean closet when he got home from his ski trip.  Then he surprised me yesterday by cleaning out his side of the closet.  Our closet organizing forays have spilled over to our dressers and even our nightstands.  Big D suggested we tackle our bathroom drawers next.  We practically filled a dumpster with junk from our closet (in addition to filling up our dining room table with the giveaway pile.)  We are embarassed by how much junk we have.  And as Big D said, "Even our junk is nice."  One of our household resolutions for this next year is to lighten our load of stuff.  We want to simplify!

Less really is more.

How do you keep the stuff to a minimum? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forget the lion and the witch. You won't believe what's been hiding in my wardrobe!!!

Big D took Monk and Twinkle Toes skiing with a group from church, so I've been without my car for a few days.  I'm not sure what inspired me to begin the daunting task of cleaning out my closet.  Maybe it was when my husband asked for dress shirts for Christmas.  I knew he didn't need any shirts so I searched the bottom of my closet where clothes await a trip to the dry cleaners and found 24 long-sleeve dress shirts!  Oops.  (I decided to wait and take the short-sleeve shirts closer to spring.  Hopefully I'll remember : ).  Or maybe it was when I was looking for his shirts and found a huge tub overflowing with maternity clothes from several pregnancies ago that I had completely forgotten about.  Double oops. 

I know you're dying for some before pics.  Isn't it amazing how a person can seem so normal and then you see their closet?

Queen thinks I'm taking pictures of her.

She's trying to get into the picture again- bottom right.
True blue.  Don't you just hate trying on jeans?
Somebody got hungry while Mommy was buried alive in the closet.
She's such a survivor!  That peel wasn't going to get in her way!
As you can see, Calvin has no idea what's going on.

They say it has to get worse before it gets better.  Right?  Right?

I told you she's a survivor.

He's starting to catch-on.  This is a bigger project than any of us imagined.
 Strangest finds: 

A gift certificate for 4 one hr personal training sessions at our local gym that expired in 2004 (I bought it for BigD.  Guess he wasn't interested :), a large plastic quarter dated 1977, two sealed Snoopy valentine packages from when I was a little girl (1980's), a vintage kodak digital camera (this must have been one of their first digital cameras) with software and cables, a college research paper on the influence of Alexander the Great that I wrote in 1992 after returning from a university-sponsored trip to the Middle East, Paddington Bear's jacket, and my blankie (yes, I still have it.)

My kids are going to love these.  In a matter of minutes, what I have preserved for the last 30 years
will be utterly destroyed.  Can you tell I'm having a little trouble letting go?

This thing belongs in a museum.  It's a 3 megapixel.

Threadbare.  And no, I'm not ready to give it up, yet.  It's going right back in the top of my closet.

What do you think?  A step back in time or into the Twilight Zone?  Maybe a little of each.

Coolest find: 

My Garmin Forerunner 201- I completely forgot about this neat little gadget and plan on using it again asap.  A close second was finding my Suunto X9i GPS wristwatch.  Finding these long lost gagdets was definitely worth a couple of days of havoc.  

Now, for the after pics (keep in mind I only cleaned out my half of the closet):

This is minus a pile my mom couldn't stand for me to part with.  I mean, if I haven't worn my wedding shoes in over 12 years, what are the odds I'm ever going to wear them again?  If they don't belong in the "I can live without them pile", what does??)

Three bags of trash, a mountain of hangers, and a couple of rugs?
It almost looks worse after I cleaned my closet.  Oh, you want to see what my closet looks like now?  That is better.

In my drawers are my workout clothes for all seasons:  swim, bike, and run.

I even scrunched in our ski wear at the back.

My maternity clothes collection.  Now why would I keep these?
Wonder what my next mega-project will be?  The filing cabinet?  Maybe that can wait til next year : ).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Science confirms it- there's power in the written word!

Don't you just love it when the secular world discovers a truth that's old news to those of us who believe the Bible?

I've never read an issue of Ode magazine before, and wouldn't have this time if the cover hadn't grabbed my attention while I was waiting to fill Calvin's albuterol prescription at the drug store the other day.  "Read all about it:  Why the written word is good for body, mind, and soul."  Being an avid reader, this piqued my curiosity and I had to buy the magazine.  I know why I think the written word is good for us, but I just had to know why humanistic psychologists have now decided it's so.

Turns out, according to the article, that "reading can change and improve how we feel and behave." (Reading, writing, and revelation.  Ode vol 8 issue 6, p.33)  Evidently there's a new field of therapy, bibliotherapy, in which reading material is prescribed to help treat emotional and/or physical pain, and it's enjoying success.  While reading doesn't actually cure diseases, it "contributes to cognitive reserve (CR), the brain's ability to protect itself and adapt to physical damage." (p. 34)  In the U.K, the National Health Service gives doctors the option of prescribing self-help manuals, "books on prescription", to those seeking medical attention for mood disorders. 

According to brain imaging studies, "when reading, our brains stimulate what happens in the story, using the same circuits we'd use if the same things happened to us.  On a neurological level, we become part of the action."  (p. 34)  A 2007 study that examined 112 smelter workers found that workers who read a lot had greater protection against some of the effects of lead poisoning.  Both readers and non-readers suffered equally from lead-induced motor impairment, but the non-readers had higher levels of intellectual impairment caused by brain damage from lead poisoning.  (p. 34)  This is thought to be due to the enhanced cognitive reserve in the readers.

Interesting, is it not?  So,why doesn't this surprise me?  Because the same God who designed us chose to reveal Himself to us through the written word.  Nothing is too difficult for God.  He could have chosen to reveal Himself to us by zapping us with a laser beam or through the use of virtual reality or by implanting a computer chip within our brains.  He didn't.  He chose to have individuals record His words to us.  Inspiration means "God-breathed".  God, by His Spirit, breathed His Word into the men who penned the Scriptures.  And God's Word has been miraculously preserved over thousands of years.   Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, extols the many virtues of delighting in God's Word. 

Now don't get me wrong.  I don't believe the Bible transforms lives because it's a book.  On the contrary, the Bible transforms lives because it's God's Word, not becaue it's God's word.  My point is merely that God chose the medium of the written word because He designed us to respond to the written word.  A secular book lacks the power of the Word of God, but even a secular book causes us to reflect, to think, to exercise our God-given minds.

What does this mean for believers? 

1.  There is no substitute for the Word of God.   No sermon or tv show, small group or spiritual experience can take the place of the Bible.  As believers we must have a steady diet of the Scriptures in order to mature.

2.  We must be discerning about what we read.  There's something interactive and organic about reading.  What we read implants itself firmly in our subconscience and influences us for the better or worse.

3.  And finally, if even unbelievers recognize the benefits of reading the Psalms to treat "vexations of mind and body" (p.33), we believers should run first to God's Word when we're hurting, before turning (or at least in addition to turning) to meds or therapy.   In other words, we should see God's Word as primarily a vehicle to know God better and mature spiritually, but not only as such.  We should also see God's Word as therapeutic.  Are we tired or weak?  We can be assured in the Scriptures that it is God who is at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure, and that His strength is made manifest in our weakness.  Are we hurting or depressed?  God's Word reassures us that the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared to the glory which will be revealed.  We also take comfort in the knowledge that our suffering has a purpose in God's plan for our good and His glory.  Are we feeling guilty?  God's Word offers forgiveness of sins for those who trust in Christ alone for salvation.  You get the idea.  The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture says that God's Word is just that- sufficient.  It's all we need to become mature.

Convinced?  Join me on the 90 day Bible challenge starting Jan 3rd.  You can read the whole Bible cover to cover in just 12 pages per day (using the official 90 day Bible).  See Mom's Toolbox for more information and to sign-up.   

Monday, December 27, 2010

He must be feeling better.

Calvin is still wheezing and coughing, moaning and groaning, but he paused last night to give me some adorable smiles.  I think he must be feeling a little better.

I'm grateful for a big healthy baby boy.  When I took him to the doctor last week, he weighed 16 lbs.  At 2 and a half months he's wearing 6-12 month clothes.  Hopefully he'll get over his RSV soon.  We're ready to say good-bye to breathing treatments. 

90 Day Bible Challenge- What it is and what it's not.

My friend Roan asked me some questions about the 90 day challenge so I thought I'd share the answers with all of you.

Ok, I want to try the 90 Day Bible Challenge.....I just don't know. Will you be posting a link to the actual schedule?

Here's a link to the 88 day reading schedule plus 2 grace days.

How long did it take you each day?

They say it takes approximately an hour per day of reading.  It takes me more like 40 minutes and it took my 11 yr old son closer to an hour and a half.  Of course it also depends on which book(s) you're reading that day.  Narrative is faster and books like Isaiah, Ezekial and Revelation take longer to read.

Did you take notes as you read? Read the cross references? Keep a notebook? Or did you just simply read the day's assignment?

Yes, but that's not actually recommended.  The idea is to read the Bible, not get bogged down in answering all of life's questions.  I'm just not able to read without taking any notes at all, so to streamline my note-taking process, I bought a Bible specifically for each 90 day challenge and marked them up as I read.  I might jot notes of a particular topic at the tops of the pages, underline others, and jot still other topics in the margins.  For instance, if I was looking for references to the Spirit of God I might keep track of all those notes by dog-earing each page and underlining the references.  If I was looking for references to children being a blessing I would dog-ear the page and write the v. number and phrase at the top of the page, etc.  This way it took minimal time and I could go back later when I had more time like during the weekend and analyze the notes.

Did you also do any additional Bible reading and studying?

Yes, absolutely.  The 90 day Bible challenge gives a wonderful overview of Scripture and provides context for your studies.  It also causes you to read portions of the Bible you might otherwise skip over.  It absolutely does not take the place of in-depth Bible study.  My kids and I attend Community Bible Study which is a 4 part Bible study:  read and answer questions individually, attend a small group discussion, listen to a lecture, and follow-up by reading commentary notes.  My mom and dad are the teaching directors of the local CBS groups where I live and our class has a homeschool department so the kids study the same books I study.  This year we're in 1 and 2 Kings, Chronicles, and the minor prophets.  I'm getting so much more out of the study in light of reading the whole Bible through last year twice (thanks to the 90 day challenge).  I also host a weekly women's Bible study in my home and we work through books that are mainly topical, but also require individual study for answering and discussing questions each week. 

When in your day do you plan to read the passages?

This may not be ideal, but I almost never completed my 90 day reading in one sitting.  I would usually start in the morning, read throughout the day (in my car while waiting on kids), and finish in the bathtub at night.  This way I didn't feel the sacrifice of time, I just filled in my day and made each minute count.  I believe this allowed me to continue Bible time with the kids in the morning and my other studies.

If you're up to the challenge I encourage you to sign-up at Mom's Toolbox for weekly accountability and encouragement.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's that time again... 90 Day Bible Challenge- Kindle style

I'm so excited to read the Bible in 90 days again.  I was very intimidated before starting it last January, but now that I've completed the challenge twice, I know it can be done.  Just to spice things up a bit, I'm doing the challenge this time on my, I mean my husband's, new Kindle.  I downloaded the ESV Bible for free and since I previously used the NIV and the NLT for the 90 day challenges, I thought I'd try the ESV this time.  I just love how easily the Kindle fits into my purse, diaper bag, car, or anywhere.  I never thought I'd want a Kindle, but now I'm so in love.  I've downloaded all of Calvin's Institutes and commentaries, 58 of John Bunyan's works, 5 Spurgeon classics, Mathew Henry's commentary,  etc.  I also downloaded the Kay Arthur book we're about to begin in our lady's study.  My only complaint about the Kindle is that it doesn't have a built-in light for reading in the dark.  It seems like this would have been an easy addition, but oh well. 

What about you?  Do you kindle?  Are you up to the 90 day Bible challenge?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My crazy kids!

Looking pleased with herself, as usual.
The other morning while I was nursing Calvin, Queen came into my bedroom smelling of Big Red and announcing proudly that she had gum.  I never buy gum so I asked her where she got it.  "On the floor," was her answer.  Oh no.  I started interrogating kids and Twinkle Toes admitted that she had been chewing a piece of Big Red the night before which flew out of her mouth when her dad scared her.  Twinkle Toes claims she couldn't locate the missing wad of gum to throw in the trash.  Her loss evidently became Queen's gain the next morning.  Isn't that lovely?  

And I'm glad Calvin's feeling better, but we really do need to work on his smile.

The party must go on, but not exactly as planned.

Thank goodness I got the pork shoulder cooked and shredded before Calvin got sick.  All my other pre-party plans went by the wayside.  I envisioned Twinkle Toes (9), Measle (7), and myself cutting out Christmas cookies and icing them leisurely over the two days before the party.  It didn't happen like that.

Measle and Twinkle Toes did cut out cookies and bake them the night before the party.  We finished around 11 pm.  The icing would have to wait... and wait... and wait.  Big D ended up doing it about an hour and a half before our guests arrived.  He was such a saint.  He confided to me at one point that it wasn't exactly something he enjoyed, but he never complained.  He even made a few avant garde candy canes with red, white, yellow, and even green icing drizzled over them.  No boring green Christmas trees for him and Big D prefers red snowmen to white.  He definitely adds spice to our life.

As you can see, Prince (4) and Queen (2) also got in on the cookie action.  They made a BIG playdough mess, I mean cookies, while we were baking the Christmas cookies.

Calvin has been having breathing treatments every 2-3 hours.  Big D has given him most of them and then I try to nurse him just enough, but not so much that he can't keep it down.  This is a long, laborious process, but we're so grateful he's not in the hospital!  He was quarantined last night in our bedroom during most of the party.

My friend who was going to help me with the tables couldn't come at the last minute because her son got the stomach flu.  My mom came to the rescue.  I'm so grateful for her!  She kept the kids several hours for me during the day so we could care for Calvin and get ready for the party then she came over and made my tables look beautiful.  Martha Stewart has nothing on her, except for some jail time.  The table above isn't normally in this room, but stored behind our sofa in the living room.  We opened up the leaves and my mom brought a few chairs over from her house.  It worked.  We think we had 49 plus our family so we needed all the seating we could get.

The schoolroom was transformed for one night.

The tree with most of the kids' Christmas presents.  I'm hoping an order I placed Dec 9th comes today or tomorrow.  I just saw an email sent the day I placed the order that one of the items was on back-order and they were holding the entire order for 5 business days.  It's going to be close.  Today I'm going to stay home all day and care for Calvin.  No last minute Christmas shopping for me.  Everyone's going to have to give me a little grace this year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is this really the face of RSV?

Hard to believe, isn't it?  Even though he looks great, he sounds terrible.  Please pray for a speedy recovery for Calvin and that we'll be able to keep him out of the hospital. 


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.