Thursday, December 29, 2005

Our pursuit of improvement 2006.

Surferman and I seem to have the same conversations over and over. We even joke about it. One of us will approach the other and say that we need to have "Conversation #33" - the one about budgeting, or eating healthier, or exercising, or [insert virtue here].

With the start of the new year there is a natural tendency to want to make resolutions, to change, to improve. But... resolutions also seem to disolve faster then they resolve.

We came up with an idea. Instead we came up with a list of 52 things (some repeat) that are either new habits to continue or a challenge for a particular week. Each week we will choose an item off our list.

And of course I'll be blogging about our pursuit of improvement.

  1. Track every penny spent from now on.
  2. Make a will.
  3. Establish Budget.
  4. Spend no money one day this week.
  5. Spend no money one day this week.
  6. Spend no money this week (except groceries and gas).
  7. Save all change.
  1. OAMC session this week to fill the freezer.
  2. OAMC session this week to fill the freezer.
  3. OAMC session this week to fill the freezer.
  4. Eat no meat this week.
  5. Eat no meat this week.
  6. Eat no meat this week.
  7. Always Grocery shop with a list.
  8. Plan menus weekly.
  9. Track everything you eat this week and from now on.
  10. Eat from pantry this week.
  11. Eat from pantry this week.
  12. Eat from pantry this week.
  13. Eat from pantry this week.
  14. Stop eating fast food.
  15. Stop drinking soda.
  16. No eating out this week.
  17. No eating out this week.
  18. No eating out this week.
  1. Read Psalms from Daily Bible nightly with Surferman.
  2. Gratitude Journal nightly with Surferman.
  3. Pray nightly with Surferman.
  1. Exercise twice this week and weekly from now on.
  2. Exercise three times this week and weekly from now on.
  3. Exercise four times this week and weekly from now on.
  4. Exercise five times this week and weekly from now on.
  1. Start weekly date nights.
  2. Start monthly getaways.
  3. Set a romantic scene.
  1. Declutter closet - new in , old out.
  2. Paint closet.
  3. No television this week.
  4. No television this week.
  5. No television this week.
  1. Email / Call Surferman's Dad this week and weekly afterwards.
  2. Email / Call Surferman's Mom this week and weekly afterwards.
  3. Email / Call Mimi this week and weekly afterwards.
  4. Call Mama this week and weekly afterwards.
  5. Email / Call Surferman's MidBro this week and monthly afterwards.
  6. Email / Call Surferman's MidSis this week and monthly afterwards.
  7. Email / Call Surferman's BigBro this week and monthly afterwards.
  8. Email / Call Surferman's LilSis this week and monthly afterwards.
  9. Email / Call Surferman's BigSis this week and monthly afterwards.
  10. Email / Call Surferman's StepSis this week and monthly afterwards.
  1. Plan special activity with Grom.
  2. Plan special activity with Grom

Slow Cooker (Vegetarian) Chili

I found a great recipe at The version posted below includes the changes I've made to suit my family.

Slow Cooker (Vegetarian) Chili

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can vegetarian baked beans
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes in juice
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup dried onions or 1 chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T chili powder
1 T dried parsley
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook all day on low or at least 2 hours on high.

Serve garnished with sour cream, chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese.

I sometimes add leftover meat. Grom loves this.

Speaking of handwashing...

Flu season is here.

Wash your hands! I trotted everyone off for their flu shots, but truthfully the most important thing that we can all do to keep our home healthy is to wash our hands.

Wash before you:
  • Prepare or eat food
  • Treat a cut or wound
  • Tend to someone who's sick
  • Put in or take out contact lenses
  • Do any kind of activity that involves putting your fingers in or near your mouth, eyes, etc.
Wash after you:
  • Go to the bathroom
  • Handle uncooked foods, especially raw meat
  • Eat
  • Blow your nose, cough or sneeze
  • Handle garbage
  • Tend to someone who's sick
  • Change a diaper
  • Play with or touch a pet, especially reptiles and exotic animals

Here's How
  • Use soap and warm running water.
  • Vigorously rub your hands together until you've worked up a lather. Scrub your wrists, between your fingers, under your nails, and around the tops and palms of the hands for at least 15 seconds.
  • Rinse, then dry hands with a clean (change daily) or disposable towel.
  • Apply hand lotion

Quiet Time - Mark 7 - How To Wash

  1. To make filthy or dirty; pollute: defile a river with sewage.
  2. To debase the pureness or excellence of; corrupt: a country landscape that was defiled by urban sprawl.
  3. To profane or sully (a reputation, for example).
  4. To make unclean or unfit for ceremonial use; desecrate: defile a temple.
  5. To violate the chastity of.

Mark 7:15 (NKJV)

There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.

Jesus continues His ministry. Everyone seems to know that He has something going on; that's He's "the man". Some are beginning to believe that He is the Messiah, others are looking for fault and wanting to discredit Him and his followers.

The Pharisees are tweaked. Jesus' rough and unrefined disciples are not acting as "good Jews". They are not upholding the traditions of their faith. Jesus' response is that God's commandments are all that matter. Tradition is just tradition.

The disciples were accused of defiling themselves because they didn't wash their hands. Hand washing has it's purpose. It will keep me and mine healthier, but it cannot compare to a good washing with the Word. I need to be bathed daily. (My quiet time posts may be few and far between, but those are just the posts - I am doing fairly well with reading my Bible daily - just in case you were ready to start yelling, "Hypocrite!")

Monday, December 19, 2005

Save money by reusing zipper bags.

Zipper storage bags are super convienent (did I spell that right? It's one of those words I can never spell close enough for spell check to fix) but they can get spendy.

Many a frugal folk washes and reuses these bags. I can't stand the mess of plastic bags strewn around the kitchen drying. I don't dry my handwash dishes with a towel so why would I use on to dry a baggie? And there is no possible way to get into all of those corners.

I do something a little different. I wash them, but I don't dry them.

Instead I give them a good shake, fold them in quarters and tuck them into the freezer. Any water on the bag freezes. When I need a zipper bag, I pull one out of the freezer, shake off any ice crystals and load it up with whatever leftovers I'm storing.

I use new baggies for dry items like crackers and bread. But when they are emptied they get the freezer treatment.

By the way... I don't reuse baggies that have had raw meats or greasy foods in them. Some bags just can't be cleaned well enough to be reused.

This also works for those "quick cover" shower caps for bowls.

Quiet Time - Mark 6 - Respite

I have been bad about keeping my appointments with my God lately. Thankfully, He is full of grace and paitently waits for me to return - doesn't refuse to see me or charge me a fee for missing an appointment.

There is so much here... where to start? As my time is likely limited, I'll start with what I heard loudest and go from there.

In this chapter, Jesus sends out his disciples. He tells them to take only the clothes on their backs - to make no advanced plans and to serve and preach like crazy. Later they return and tell Jesus all the things they had done and what they had taught. And then Jesus told them to "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for a while."

My job is tough. Even though I have a good boss in my Pastor and a GREAT boss in my God, sometimes I get weary in my service. It can be hard to worship, learn and just "be" when people are looking for you because you "have all the answers and the solution to every problem". (if only I did!). My spiritual battery runs low sometimes. I believe that I need the teaching of my Pastor, that my own perspective can be flawed sometimes. I'm not a very deep thinker. I can miss some of the intricacies and cool things in God's Word. Don't get me wrong, I know that God can speak to me directly (why else would I be here at 6:30 in the morning). I just hold the tradition of "church" in high regard.

I wish I had the time right now to look into the Greek, well really I wish I had the skills to look into the Greek (I'll have to ask about that - I can be taught). I have a feeling that the "yourselves" in the text is meant personally not collectively - that Jesus wanted his men to go off have some alone time and rest. That's the call I continue to hear - Be immersed in His word, in songs of praise and worship to him. That I need to focus on my walk and as I do the rest will come into place and I'll prepared for the next time I have to feed 5,000 or make last minute copies for Sunday School, or...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Quiet Time - Mark 5 - When Pigs Fly

Mark 5

What a busy day for Jesus!

First a man who is tormented by not one, not two, but a legion of demons is returned to sanity. The cast out demons are transfered to a herd of swine who meet their death.

I know that as a Christian I cannot be possessed by demons. But I tend to think of the things that I struggle with daily as my demons. I wonder how many pigs would it take? There would be some huge pigs and some baby pigs. Prayerfully as I mature the big pigs would be fewer in number as I am refined. Would I try to control and pen the pigs instead of letting them go to their deaths?

Lord, help me to recognize and hate my sin.

Then Jesus is sought out to heal a young girl. I can only imagine how precious she was to her daddy that he, a ruler of the synagogue, would seek out Jesus. He risked his livelihood, probably all that he knew because he believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

On the way to heal the daughter, another woman was healed. It wasn't an active healing by Jesus. She was unclean, she was taking a chance by approaching such a holy man. She "stole" some of His power. She knew he could make her well. She had the faith to reach out to Him.

Lord, let me have faith like these.

As the group continued to the daughter, they received word that she was dead. Jesus said to the father, "Do not be afraid; only believe". They went to the girl and she was brought back to like.

Lord, let me not be afraid. Let me only believe.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I used to build the ugliest houses

It's amazing what can be done with a lego brick or two or ten thousand..

I just got some legos free at the grocery store. I stashed them away until Grom is bigger. I don't think we'll every be this creative with them though...

Check out this site of Bible stories.

And here's an amazing church.

Bringing Jesus in the House

After yesterday's quiet time I have been thinking of ways to physical bring Jesus and our faith into our home.

Some ideas I've had:

Scripture as decoration. My parents went to garage sales yesterday. They found a cute Mary Englebreit plaque with a verse from James.

Playing worship music and hymms.

Leave Bibles around the house for quick snacks on the Word. Just make sure you keep them dusted - HA!

Scripture as decor. A great friend painted our bathroom with vines and Bible verses. It's wonderful. A potential problem with scripture that stays put is that you can get used to it. Then it's just part of the wall.

So those are the obvious ones. Here are a couple that might be pushing the box.

Light candles as a visual reminder of the Holy Spirit.

Light incense to remind you to pray. Our prayers are like sweet incense rising up to our Father (see Psalm 141:2)

Do you have any others ways that you bring Jesus into your home?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Quiet Time - Mark 2

"and it was heard that He was in the house" Mark 2:1b

It was easier this morning. Not much, but still easier to get up.

There was a talk show host who announced each of his guests by saying, "Joe Celebrity is in the house". As I read this passage, I heard in my head an announcer saying, "Jesus is in the house" and the audience responding with woots and cheers.

Jesus is in this house.

I hear Grom stirring.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's a start.

I met the Lord this morning. It was a quick appointment. I didn't get to bed as early as I could have and rising this morning was hard. But He was there waiting for me.

Sleepily I wandered from my bedroom to my studio. Along the way I grabbed a cup of coffee (decaf, but that's another post) and thought about where in the Word I would start.

Since it's all about Jesus, a Gospel made sense. I naturally gravitate to Luke and we'll be starting Matthew at church soon. Mark was the place for me to start.

And then I received confirmation - "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed." Mark 1:35

What an example and encouragement I have in Jesus.

It was a sweet time. I know it will get sweeter. I need to be more organized - have the things I need gathered; have the coffee ready; set the scene. Grom greeted me in the middle and wanted to play a bit. I'm chilly because I didn't think to grab slippers or a blankie. I have to put things in high gear to get back on schedule.

Yet... I've been with the King.

Special thanks to Surferman for elbowing me everytime (and I won't say how many times it was) the snooze alarm went off and finally saying, "You want to get up and spend time with God". And also to Laine from Laine's Letters who has exhorted me to set aside quiet time. Her emails are sporadic. I always look forward to getting one. A couple showed up last evening - they were that push that I needed.