Sunday, September 30, 2012

Document: September

Today begins October, meaning lots of pumpkin flavors, fall breezes, leaves changing, and apple cider!  But first, we had to push through September!

September was a mess, to say the least.  Not only did school crank up, but sickness rocked our house, well mostly just me!  Spider bites, nausea, and an appendectomy made it a rough month for me.  Despite the craziness and busyness, September was still a pretty good month with a lot of accomplishments.

12 in 2012.  Out of all the accomplishments, the one big thing I was unable to do was try the 30 by 30 program.  Once I finally picked out the clothes, I never had a chance to take pictures, let alone try using them in my wardrobe.

Reading.  I have completed 66 (and a half) books so far this year, which means I read an impressive 10 books this month!  Tomorrow Mark of Athena comes out, which will kick off this month's reading pretty quickly!  While I have 34 books left to read this year to hit my goal (which seems a bit out of reach), I am excited to have made such progress this year.

Cooking.  In the midst of all the school and sickness, I was able to try making some new things, including a few versions of Mac and Cheese.  This month should be full of baked goods, since we love apple and pumpkin flavors!!!

Health/Fitness.  With being sick and busy, I was only really able to keep up with my daily stretching/yoga without getting to spend a lot of time at the gym or working out at home.  As I recover from surgery, I should be able to get back to my normal yoga routine soon and add in some walking until I can begin using machines/weights.

The goal for October is to begin preparing for the holidays -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas -- especially by setting up plans to see family and friends and begin baking lots of yummy snacks!!!  School gets a bit of a break this month; one class ends in two weeks (gasp!) and I get a week-long break before beginning a new class.  Greek continues through the month with another exam looming at the end of the month.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Denial, aka How I Lost my Appendix

Denial (noun):  refusal of belief in, dissent

So, I have already informed you all of the sickness that overtook me for a few days.  This is the story of how that sickness resulted in surgery and the removal of my appendix.

Denial 1:  I am not sick; I'm fine.
After 86 hours of sickness, I woke up around 7 AM with stabbing pain on the ride side of my lower stomach/abdomen area.  I honestly decided not to tell Doug until after his class (which ran from 9 until 10:30 AM) since I assumed that it was some kind of muscle cramp from being sick.  Well, he figured out pretty quickly on his own that I was in pain and told me that it was time to go to the doctor's office.  After some crying and complaining, I convinced Doug to call my parents first and get their opinion.  I was arguing to give me 6 hours to feel better before going.  My parents took Doug's side, and we were out the door by 8:15 AM.

Denial 2:  It's just a virus; there's nothing that can be done.
We entered an empty ER (which never happens, so this was definitely God clearing the way), and I was taken back to a small room fairly quickly.  Several samples were taken for testing, and the nurses assured me that it was probably a virus that just needed to work through my system, although no one would let me drink or eat anything "in case you need surgery." (That should have been hint #1.)  Around 9:30 AM I saw the doctor (who was very nice) who talked with me and sent me for a CT scan "just in case" this wasn't a virus.  By 10 AM, I was taking my CT scan, and by 10:30 I was back in my room after being told by several nurses that my samples looked okay.  Doug had been keeping my parents in the loop; at this point they even thought I should be able to go home soon.

Denial 3:  This is not an emergency; this surgery can wait.
Around noon, my doctor came back and looked pretty surprised; "Your appendix is lit up like a Christmas tree, and your white blood cell count is high.  You are going to talk to the surgeon about how soon you need your appendix removed."  By 1 PM, I was being admitted to the hospital and waiting to meet with the surgeon.  My parents and Doug's mom were on their way.  My surgeon was really great; I described him to my parents as Cosby-like -- really good-natured and good-humored, but definitely still a good doctor.  He had looked over my CT scan and came to check out my stomach.  He noticed how much my muscles clenched when he pressed on sore spots; he informed me that I needed to go into surgery within the next 2 hours.  the conversation went something like this:
"Is there any way we can do it in the morning?"  "No, it needs to come out today."
"Can we wait for my parents to go here?" "Where are they coming from?" "PA." "No way."
"If I keep my stomach from clenching when you press on it, can we talk about waiting?" "No."
"Are you sure it won't heal on its own?"  "I'm sure it won't.  See you in surgery."

So immediately after this, they decide to send someone in to ask me lots of fun questions, like if I have a living will (apparently I said, "You can resuscitate the crap out of me") and if I'm an organ donor.  Nice, happy things like that.  By 3 PM, they wheeled me off to the OR to prep me for surgery.

Denial 4:  I'm going to be stuck in bed for days.
First, after talking to the anesthesiologist for about 90 seconds, he gave me some great anxiety medicine.  They let me go to the bathroom, and then wheeled me into the operating room.  Apparently I said something about it begin a spaceship because some people laughed at me and all of a sudden I was trying to open my eyes in a different room.  I kept asking about where Doug was and saying that my stomach hurt.  After about an hour in recovery, they moved me into my room.  I felt like I couldn't move for a few hours; my parents got there and were able to help Doug take care of me for awhile.

The good news is that after a few hours I was able to get up for short periods of time; by morning I was able to go back to a normal diet ("but take it easy") and was able to get up and walk around.  Twenty hours after my surgery, I was released from the hospital and on my way home!  I have been able to eat and get around for the most part on my own, and I was able to sleep normally through the night!

So, now I'm home, I'm resting, and I'm much better than I thought I would be!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Deferment

Deferment (noun):  act of putting off or delaying, sanctioned postponement

Things that have become deferred this week:
Weekly Goals
Menu Plan, shopping, and blog post
and Eating (apparently)

For the last three days, I have been extremely sick; I won't go into details, but one of the major byproducts is that I can basically not eat anything until 1) I am completely better and 2) for 48-72 hours after I think I am better.

Food items I was specifically told to avoid:  dairy, fruit, caffeine, sugar, most vegetables (starchy veggies are okay), anything whole grain (which is almost all of our pasta, bread, crackers), anything greasy, buttery, or cooked in oil, meat (more than 2 oz), and dark liquids (including juice and dark Gatorade).  In addition, I am supposed to be drinking a quart of water every hour.

Needless to say, I have been consisting on crackers and water for two days, and I am a bit cranky!  On the good side, it is another week that we don't need to go grocery shopping; we have had plenty of leftovers and  unused meals since I haven't been able to eat anything!!!

As far as not setting goals, I have just been doing whatever I have absolutely HAD to do.  With two large Greek quizzes this week, my in-laws visiting, and friends coming in this weekend, the hubs has made me nap, read, and watch TV instead of cleaning, organizing, and driving myself crazy ;)

Even after trying to decelerate and enjoy life, I still get caught up in all the little things when I need to be more concerned about the big things -- the enduring and eternal things.  Like taking care of myself and my health.  Like continuing to build a strong relationship with Doug.  Like being able to spend time with friends and family instead of worrying about what they might think if I haven't vacuumed this week.

So, this week (and maybe for a few more weeks), I am putting some things on deferment.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Sept 16-22)

Crazy, busy week, and not very productive, but great!  Plus a Boy Meets World marathon makes any weekend great ;)


School/Homework
1.  Greek Exam (9/21)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies -- working on these
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan 3 (due 9/22) -- I still have tomorrow

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Catch up on laundry -- still more to do, but waiting for an empty sink...

Personal
6.  Consistent Workouts
7.  Stick to Spiritual Growth Plan
8.  30 by 30 picks posted! -- grr!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

What happens when we have some extra grocery money?  Stock the freezer/pantry!  we are planning some pretty simple meals for this week so we can 1) have time to handle the increased load from school and 2) we can stock our pantry and freezer with quick and easy meals/sides.

Today:  Baked Chicken and Fries

Wednesday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Rice (leftover)
Thursday -- Grilled Steaks w/ Mashed Potatoes and Cheesy Veggies
Friday -- Broiled Cod w/ Pasta and Chunky Sauce
Saturday -- Take out!
Sunday -- Burgers w/ Fries or Chips and Zucchini Cakes
Monday -- Baked Pork w/ Spinach and Alfredo Pasta
Tuesday -- Baked Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

In addition, we will be stocking our pantry with sides and snacks (like soup, rice, pasta, pudding, granola bars, and pretzels), our fridge with healthy snacks (like cottage cheese, fruit, and cubed cheese), and our freezer with veggies, meatloaf, extra pork, beef roast, and some frozen entrees.  Needless to say, we will be prepped and ready for some Fall flavor!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Sept 16-22)

This week puts more more than half done with one class and has me taking my first exam for another!

School/Homework
1.  Greek Exam (9/21)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan 3 (due 9/22)

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Catch up on laundry

Personal
6.  Consistent Workouts
7.  Stick to Spiritual Growth Plan
8.  30 by 30 picks posted!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Sept 9-15)

This week was the return of sickness, with both Doug and I fighting off sore throats and cold symptoms.  Overall, I think I still accomplished a lot this week!  Plus, I am now at the halfway point of my online class; only four more weeks until I get a little break ;)


School/Homework
1.  Two Greek Quizzes
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies -- replying today
3.  Book Critique/Report (and 150-175 pgs of reading to do for it, due 9/16) -- reading complete; now to write the report!!!

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Planning/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Biweekly Filing/Paperwork -- All the papers are ready to be filed

Personal
6.  REST!!!  Fight off infection!
7.  Consistent Workouts (once I can workout again) -- mid-week workouts were good, but some muscle cramping in my leg kept me off of it yesterday and this morning
8.  30 x 30 choices blog post! -- Epic Fail.  Might try to send this one out to you guys today
9.  Follow Spiritual Growth Plan

I still have some projects to finish up today, but I feel like I was able to accomplish a lot this week, especially for school (midterm week in Spiritual Formation and test prep in Greek).  Things at home got a little behind, but we should be able to tackle those projects this coming week!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Department

Department (noun):  area, office, territory, league

As I near graduation and the completion of my Masters degree, I keep getting two questions:  What are you going to do after you graduate?  and What is it that you study again?  A lot of people accept "I don't know" as an answer for where I'm going next; even more accept the fact that I am taking a much needed break (after being in school/classes for the last eight years, summers included).  No one, however, seems to understand why I would have ANY interest in the field of Ancient Near Eastern studies, especially for a Seminary student.

The line of questioning goes something like this:
"Really?  Like Old Testament studies?"
"Well, I study the Old Testament, but also the other peoples and cultures of that time, like Egyptian culture and Canaanite culture."
"Why would you want to learn about those?  They don't have anything to do with Jesus or the Bible"

Normally, I say something like, "They help us understand the Israelite culture better" or "It helps show historicity" or even "It's very interesting to see how it compares and contrasts with the Biblical accounts."  I never have time to prove the REAL answer to them:  We cannot truly understand the full meaning of the Bible without understanding these ancient cultures.  I honestly believe that some people must dig into these ancient cultures to provide the necessary tools for understanding what is actually happening in the Bible.

Let me give you my favorite example.

In Egyptian culture, the person is made up of several parts.  The ba is the center of thought and personality.  It is the soul of a person; this is the part that would continue on to the underworld and continue forever.  However, the most powerful part of a person was not the soul (ba), but the name (ren).  The ren of a person carried all of their experience, all of their memory, and all of their identity.  This was bound up in their "true" name; and whoever knew that name had the power to control or destroy that person.  You could only use a person's ren if they told you their name personally; it could not be gathered from a third party.  The magician's of Egypt sought out the rens of the gods of Egypt and any powerful Egyptians (like the pharaohs, other magicians, or military heroes).

Now, let's consider Moses, who was taught in the Egyptian courts as a member of Pharaoh's household.  When God sends Moses to Egypt to bring the people out from slavery, he asks God for a name to tell the people (Exodus 3:13).  God tells him "I AM who I AM."  Later (in Exodus 33), Moses asks God to reveal to him His glory.  God does this (Exodus 34) by saying His name, "YHWH, YHWH, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness..."  To an Egyptian, this would be a very intimate and powerful thing.  Moses knew God's name -- even more so, he had been in the presence of God in His full glory.

Now, let's go one step further.  John 1 narrates the Word becoming flesh among us (as Jesus Christ).  John 1:14 links this act of incarnation to Exodus 34 by stating that "we have seen the glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."  In John 1:18 John explains that no one has seen God, but Jesus is an explanation (NASB) or proclamation (NIV) of God and His glory.  When you understand that God's glory is tied to His name, you understand that the coming of Christ is more than the coming of a Messiah; it is even more than the astounding fact that God dwelt among mankind.  It is the fact that  Jesus is the incarnation of the glory and name and ren of God.  (I don't want to make it sound as if Jesus was a part of God, but rather the significance that God revealed Himself not only through giving a name but by making that name known and available to all.)  There is no third party (priests, leaders) needed; God has revealed His name in person!

That is a whole new perspective of on coming of Christ; it shows the concept that God made Himself (the most intimate, secretive, and powerful part of Himself) into a man to be among men and be known by them; that He sacrificed Himself entirely on the cross for our sins, and that He rose again from the dead (showing His preeminence over the Egyptian gods who were destroyed when their ren was destroyed).

Now this isn't perfectly exegetical, and I'm sure many people can find mistakes or problems with this summation, but the point is that cultural and background studies can have a huge impact on our understanding of Scripture.  We cannot simply personalize whatever we read in the Bible; we must understand that the Bible has a context.  While the truths of the Bible are universal and eternal, they are stated within a culture, a time, and (in many cases) specific circumstances.

Therefore, we need people to study Ancient Near Eastern cultures.  And Greek culture.  And Persian culture.  And every other culture!

And now when people ask me why on earth I study Ancient Near Eastern cultures, I can send them here to read and understand why I am so passionate about it ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

After having a LOT of leftover food/meals from last week, Doug and I decided to skip shopping this week!  That means lots of leftovers and and extra day of eating out, but in the end we'll be saving $20+ from this week.

Wednesday -- Leftovers
Thursday -- Tuna Melts
Friday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Broccoli Cheddar Pasta
Saturday -- Grab Takeout
Sunday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Rice
Monday -- Leftovers/Takeout
Tuesday -- Grilled Steaks w/ Mashed Potatoes

Since we are pantry/freezer eating, we didn't choose very many sides; we will be adding vegetables and other sides to most of these meals though ;)

Monday, September 10, 2012

De and Doug's Den: Percy Jackson

So anyone who knows me decently well knows that I really love ancient cultures, especially their mythologies.  Of all the ancient cultures, Greek mythology is the best known by our modern culture.  So, when I saw a series about a boy who finds out he's actually a demi-god, how could I resist?

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan is a series I mention a lot on this blog, but I haven't had a chance to explain how amazing this series truly is.  I first found out about the series by accident; I was sick and picking up a prescription at Wal*mart; I had 30 minutes to kill, so I went to pick out a book, figuring I could read for awhile and buy it if I liked it.  I actually sat on a bench in Wal*Mart reading The Lightning Thief for 45 minutes before someone asked me if I was waiting on a prescription!!!  Needless to say, I was definitely hooked.

What you'll love about the series if the fast-pace, the fun characters, and the ability to relate so well to the title character.  The books are written from his perspective; I would characterize them as being similar to the Harry Potter books in reading ease and understanding, as well as stylistically.  The first book is actually the the gateway to reveal a large and sinister plot that threatens Western Civilization as we know it.  There are creative twists and turns that not only add drama and excitement, but show the growth of the individual characters.

Each book ends with a "cliffhanger;"  I ended up devouring the five-book series in a matter of days (less than a week) simply because I had to know what would happen next.  The break between books 2 and 3 (Sea of Monsters and Titan's Curse) was the biggest cliffhanger for me, so if you like the series, you might want to buy those two books together!  Each book is not very long (about 250 pages), so they are great for most kids (6 or 7 and up).  All the books are great for people who can only read a small amount at a time, because the chapters are short and the plot is easy to follow.  The final book in the series (The Last Olympian) dives directly into the action and is very fast-paced compared to the other books; maybe plan on giving yourself an afternoon off just to read this one ;)

In summary, if you are looking for an exciting and easy read, try the Percy Jackson series!  There is a movie based loosely on the first book, so you can watch that and see if you might be interested in the series, but don't be surprised when you pick up the first book and note all the differences!

If you like this series, you can also check out the available book from the sequel series, the Heroes of Olympus series.  The first two books The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune are available now; the third book Mark of Athena comes out October 2.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Sept 9-15)

Mid-September = the lull before the storm.  This week is midterm week in my Spiritual Formation class and Exam Prep week in my Greek class, so school will be taking up most of my time.  However, I have been reading a lot to relax; I might actually catch up to my Reading Goals this month!!!

School/Homework
1.  Two Greek Quizzes
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies
3.  Book Critique/Report (and 150-175 pgs of reading to do for it, due 9/16)

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Planning/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Biweekly Filing/Paperwork

Personal
6.  REST!!!  Fight off infection!
7.  Consistent Workouts (once I can workout again)
8.  30 x 30 choices blog post!
9.  Follow Spiritual Growth Plan

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Sept 2-8)

Well, this week has had many unexpected twists and turns; hopefully next week will be a bit calmer!!!  Plus, I have a few things I need to accomplish today so I can relax and watch Steelers v Broncos tomorrow night ;)


School/Homework
1.  Three Greek Quizzes (vocab and noun endings)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies to others -- doing replies right now ;)
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan Results and New Chart (due 9/9) -- doing this right after the replies ;)

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clothes Shopping (for Doug)
6.  Begin Cleaning out the Linen Closet -- nope. not going to happen soon.

Personal
7.  Consistent Afternoon Workouts (4/6 good, 5/6 great, 6/6 awesome) -- see below
8.  Choose Clothing/Pieces for the 30 by 30 Challenge -- see below
9.  Follow my Spiritual Growth Plan

So, this week went a little crazy.  I was really tired Wednesday and Thursday evenings for no apparent reason.  And I mean really tired.  Like sleeping for 8 hours at night, taking a 2-3 hour nap in the middle of the day (like 3-5 PM), and still being able to fall asleep at my normal bedtime (1 AM).  Wednesday morning was extra bad; Doug had to pull me out of bed so that I could get dressed and leave on time for class.

On Friday, we found on why I was so tired.  Infection.  From a spider bite.  Now I'm all hopped up on antibiotics (which allowed me to sleep for about 11 hours overnight) and hoping that I start regaining energy to conquer this upcoming week.

So, obviously, my plans to choose clothes on Thursday were interrupted by a nap (and a haircut), and I spent most of Friday at the doctor's office, getting my prescription, and eating so I could take my antibiotics. And due to my excessive napping and other craziness, I missed W/R/F workouts.  I think I had a pretty good excuse, though.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dread

Dread (verb):  anticipate with horror, fear, cringe

Yesterday, I got a haircut.

First, I need to explain why the thought of getting a haircut was so dreadful to me.  Since I was 14, I have only let one person style my hair.  Every trim, every color, every highlights and low lights, I trusted only my dear friend Yvette.  Even during my college years of travelling back and forth between PA and VA, I would wait for haircuts and schedule them with her.

Then, I got married.  I moved to VA.  I became an official grown-up.  I couldn't run home for a weekend just to get a haircut.  So I waited and waited for an excuse to go to PA for a haircut.  For over 14 months.

Now, to many of you this just seems ridiculous, but I had already tried to let someone else do my hair, and that had been a disaster.  When we were 20, Doug and I decided to attend our Jr/Sr Banquet at college.  Of course, that meant hair, nails, dress -- the works.  My friend Kim and I made appointments together at JcPenney's, mainly because I knew they were supposed to be expensive and high-end; this was my first time at a "real" salon in years, and I wanted to make sure it would be good.  I asked for the best stylist for up-dos and got the appointment.  I picked out a photo to show the hairdresser, who said it would be no problem.  After all, it was a very simple up-do; how poorly could it go?

It went very poorly.  First, I told him my hair had a lot of natural wave/curl to it.  He dismissed this and tried to put my hair in large rollers under a dryer.  That was a waste of 20 minutes.  After re-shampooing and re-conditioning my hair (to get all the curling mousse and gel out of it), my hair was blow-dried and finally ready to be put up.  However, the stylist parted my hair too far on the left.  After trying to sweep my hair over my forehead and behind my ear, the stylist said, "I know how to fix this!"  In a flash, I saw scissors and a chunk of my hair was gone.  Bangs.  I now had side bangs.  I never asked for bangs.  I did not want a cut.  But, before I could even utter a sound snip and gone.

Frankly, I didn't know what to say.  I mostly tried not to cry.  Everyone tried to be very nice about it, and (in all honesty) it looked perfectly fine.  But still, it scarred me for life.  I just couldn't trust another salon to touch my hair after that.

Well, here I was this week, 14 + months since my last haircut with an extra 13+ inches of hair.  It took an hour to detangle after showering.  I had very few styling options -- braids (which became a nightmare when it got so long) and wearing it up.  I had no choice.  I had to call and make an appointment to see someone in VA.  I got a recommendation from a friend (who had great hair).  I called.  My recommended stylist had an opening for that evening.  I booked it.  And I sat in horror all day.

Super long hair

Yes, it does reach to my waist.

Eventually, the time came.  I picked out a very simple cut (no color), and warned her that she was the first new stylist to cut my hair in over 11 years.  No pressure or anything.

Well, not only did I leave with a great cut (still medium length despite taking off 13 1/2 inches) and some new products, but I also had a sense of accomplishment.  I got a hair cut!  It was not horrible!  I might get another one before the end of this year!

Yea!  Short hair!

Still long enough to put up, but short enough to work with ;)


Even if it is something as silly as getting a haircut, fear has an effect.  I put off something as simple as getting a haircut out of fear.  And hair grows back; it wasn't even a life-altering choice.  If it went poorly, my hair would still grow out and be fixable.

The point is that so often we are scared to do something because of a bad experience, because we do not like change, because we have trust issues, or simply out of fear.  We end up surviving our lives instead of living them.  It is really worth it?

So, I challenge all of you, go get a haircut ;)

{2 Tim 1:7}

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Delicious: Weekly Meal Plan

This is the first "normal" week for us since classes began, which means a "normal" menu!!!

Wednesday -- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Thursday -- Baked Salmon w/ Alfredo Pasta and Zucchini
Friday -- Meatloaf w/ Cheddar Ranch Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Saturday -- Pork Fajitas w/ Rice
Sunday -- Grilled Chicken w/ Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta
Monday -- Burgers and Chips
Tuesday -- Tuna Melts
                  Sausage, Spinach, and Alfredo Pasta w/ Garlic Bread (Double Date Night)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Develop

Develop (verb):  cultivate, prosper

This semester, I am taking a (mandatory) class on Spiritual Formation -- basically Spiritual growth.  One of the primary tasks of the class is to create a two-week Spiritual Growth Plan, then continue to update that plan throughout the course.  After creating and starting my plan, I realized how simple and effective this can be in the life of any Christian, so I wanted to share a bit about it with all of you so that you can take advantage of this method of Spiritual Growth!!!

Purpose.  Many Christians try to read the bible every day and spend some time in prayer, but there are several Spiritual Disciplines that can be practiced in the life of a Christian.  If we think of these disciplines as physical exercises, we know that consistency and variety is what keeps our bodies healthy.  We need cardio and weight training.  We must work our legs and arms.  Consistency in these things keeps us strong and healthy.  It is the same in the Christian life; we must practice consistency and stretch ourselves to practice other disciplines in order to grow and strengthen spiritually.

Plan.  A Spiritual Growth Plan is just a list of disciplines you want to practice in your life for the next two weeks.  Things like Bible Reading and Prayer should be a part of everyone's list, but there are many things that you can add, like Journaling, Fellowship, Worship, Fasting, Titheing, Serving, and Evangelism.  You can also add "practical" things to your plan as well, like Physical Exercise or Financial Control -- both have to do with being a good steward of what God has given.  Just pick some things to do daily or weekly and write out your goals.

Here is a sample from my plan:  Prayer -- I will set aside 20 minutes every day to pray, I will create a prayer list of requests including a list of unsaved family/friends, I will prayer for a different country/people group every week.

While my Prayer goal has three components, yours can be as simple as just praying every day.  This is why the plan works well -- every person can choose goals based on where they are spiritually.  Each person can grow at their own pace in the areas in which they need to grow.  After two weeks, you evaluate how you did (we are using a chart to check off days) and update your goals accordingly.  By continuing this practice over a few months, you should be more consistent in spiritual disciplines and should be able to see where you are growing!!!

Partner.  One thing I recommend is finding a Growing Partner.  If you and a friend both agree to make and follow a Spiritual Growth plan, you can encourage each other to continue growing.  Just be careful to keep it from becoming a competition -- that might mean not telling each other what goals you are doing, but just asking if you completed your daily and weekly goals.  This person can also become a great Prayer Partner for you.  This is something that wasn't part of the class, but I believe has a lot of value and will help with continued motivation.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Design: Weekly Goals (Sept 2-8)

It is September!!!  While I am SO excited for Fall (which won't really hit for another two weeks here in VA, but still), I know that classes are starting to pick up, which will require much more effort and time.  The best thing about Fall, though, is FOOTBALL SEASON!!!  As a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I have my terrible towel ready for the season to begin.

School/Homework
1.  Three Greek Quizzes (vocab and noun endings)
2.  Essay (400 words) and replies to others
3.  Spiritual Growth Plan Results and New Chart (due 9/9)

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Plan/Grocery Shopping (and blog!)
5.  Clothes Shopping (for Doug)
6.  Begin Cleaning out the Linen Closet

Personal
7.  Consistent Afternoon Workouts (4/6 good, 5/6 great, 6/6 awesome)
8.  Choose Clothing/Pieces for the 30 by 30 Challenge
9.  Follow my Spiritual Growth Plan

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Design: Weekly Results (Aug 26-Sept 1)

This week has been CRAZY!  With my parents being here all weekend (spoiling us) and Doug and I still getting used to being in classes, the week was very convoluted.  Like "What day is today?" convoluted.  Hopefully we will be able to keep our heads on straight this week ;)

School/Homework
1.  Greek Quiz (8/27)
2.  Essay (400 words) and reply to others -- replies to do tomorrow
3.  Book Report/Critique (due 9/2) -- I still have tomorrow ;)

Housework/Errands
4.  Menu Blog Post (Plan and grocery shopping done!)
5.  Cut Doug's hair (and trim his beard!)

Personal
6.  Workouts/Gym -- the gym has been evasive, but I managed to get some workouts done at home
7.  Enjoy the PLL Summer Finale!!!
8.  Schedule a haircut ;) -- I have a place and stylist picked out, I just need to get on the schedule!