Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I pooped on the potty, though!

If that title doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will.  But, if you are around me at all, I just want to warn you, this might become my new catchphrase!

Tonight I was meeting with my 3 year old client (don't get me started on how I do counseling with a 3 year old, because that is definitely the topic of another post).  I met with her foster parents for a little while, and they were telling me that they have been struggling with potty training.  However, she has started going to the bathroom at preschool and daycare, just not at home.  So she told us no less than 50 times tonight that she pooped on the potty at school today.  The foster father also told me that she tries to use it to get out of trouble for other things.  I didn't really believe him until I saw her do it.

Dad: Please don't throw that.
Client: I pooped on the potty though!

It's become her standard refrain. As if her punishment will be lessened for doing something completely unrelated to potty training.  The best part is when she throws in the "though."  I laughed so hard, even though I shouldn't have because she was sitting right there.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Recycling and Automatic Appliances

I find it interesting that in a recycling world, we all have the things we are passionate about but don't think about other things.

For example, I don't recycle (as in have a recycle bin in my apartment).  I'm not opposed to it, but I'm not going to pay for it.  At work when I have a Dr. Pepper, I put the empty can in the recycle bin.  However, my "contribution" to recycling is to not use a lot of paper products in the house.  I don't remember the last time I bought paper plates.  While I do use napkins and paper towels, I don't feel like I use them in excess.  Today I was going to eat an orange and went for a paper towel to put the rind in, but then I realized I could just as easily put it on a plate that I could wash.  I also don't use a lot of baggies when I make my lunch.  I more often put my chips or vegetables in Tupperware containers.  I don't use recyclable bags at the grocery store, either.  I like the plastic bags because I use them in my little trash cans at home.  I often go through the self checkout so that I can bag my own groceries and put more than two items in each bag, but otherwise I definitely use plastic bags.

I also think it is interesting when I go into public restrooms.  While it's not exactly the same as recycling, I think it's interesting what companies choose to make automatic and what they don't.  Have you ever been in a public restroom that has everything automatic?  Usually you have automatic flush toilets and automatic paper towels, but you might have to turn on the water on your own.  Or they might have the automatic sink and soap dispenser, but you have to get your paper towels on your own.  No connection to the previous topic really, but these two things have been on my mind. :)

So, what is the recycling thing that you are passionate about?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Scripture Memory--A Discipline and a Joy

I have had this post on my heart for the last several months but have been hesitant to write it because I do not want to sound boastful or proud.  I have talked to several friends about how it is so hard for me to talk about ways I am growing in the Lord without sounding like I am tooting my own horn. So, know from the outset of this post that I am writing this as an encouragement to my fellow believers in Christ and as a testimony to what God has been doing in my life over the last six months.  I am not writing to be boastful or toot my own horn (because it is God working in me and not by my own strength that I am able to testify anyway!)

Also, know that I  realize as I write this that everyone has different levels of strength in memorizing. Memorization has always come pretty easily for me.  It is how my brain is wired.  In school, I studied by basically memorizing my notes for tests--both the words and the where things were located on the paper because I can recall information if I can picture it on a page. That being said, I will also tell you--no matter how much you struggle or don't struggle with memorization, the brain is a powerful thing.  I have seen an increase in my ability to memorize since starting this journey.

What is this journey I keep hinting at but not explaining, you ask?  In June I received this email from a friend:
Recently several of my friends have turned 40. They have done some really inspiring challenges. And that has gotten me thinking – 40 is a great motivator to get something done that we wouldn't normally do. So the question is: what do I really need motivation to do? And the answer is: Scripture memory. I have 35ish months left before I turn 41 and I would like to memorize 40 chapters of the Bible. (40 chapters BY my 40th birthday would have been better, but since there are only 24 months left, I decided to try something that is actually achievable.) So far I am loving it. And I am convinced that the more I fill my heart and mind with the Bible, the less I will be tempted to fill them with things from the world. And there’s nothing I want more. I am excited because this is the beginning, but I’m guessing I’ll get past the “honeymoon” stage soon and be in need of accountability. That’s why I’ve sent this to you. If you are interested in joining in on a passage, chapter or book, please let me know. I’m going to put a tentative list of chapters at the end of this email; if you're interested, just let me know what you want to learn and if you have a preferred time period. I am definitely open to changing some of the chapters if you would like to join in memorizing and being accountable but have a different chapter in mind.
I will be honest. I read it and just kind of let it sit in my inbox for a few weeks.  But through those two weeks, God really worked on my heart.  And this was my reply, when I finally got the courage to reply (because let's face it, once you put the words out there, you can't really take them back!):
 I keep forgetting to reply to this!  I definitely want to participate.  This is SUCH A GREAT IDEA!!!!  And it makes me so happy to be your friend!  But I have absolutely no idea how to choose how I want to partner with you.  My first instinct is actually to say "Give me the schedule.  I want to memorize them all!" Scripture memory is an area that I go back and forth in how active I am.  And I haven't been very active in memorizing lately.  So, where are you in your memorizing and would you think I was a total geek if I just joined you in your memorization?  I might not stick with if for as long as you are, but it is a good motivator for me for this summer at least.  And I would totally join you again later if you need more accountability.  
So, "Give me the schedule.  I want to memorize them all!" became my answer.  Six months later, we are currently working on memorizing our 15th chapter (which includes the whole book of James!)!!!

Each Wednesday, I get together with Ginger to recite verses we are currently working on and review at least one of the chapters we have already memorized (if we stop practicing, we are going to "lose" what we have memorized).

Here are a few of the many blessings that have come out of this time, that I really want to encourage you with.

  • So many people who have heard what we are doing have said, "I could never do that!" (especially as fast as we have memorized).  Maybe the fast part is true, but I am not so sure.  If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I often sell myself short.  I have found more time to work on Scripture memory than I would have ever thought I had time for.
  • The main time I work on Scripture memory is while I am getting ready for work in the morning.  I write all of my verses on 3x5 index cards and keep them with me all the time.  Other main times I work are when I am in the car.  I travel a lot for my job, so this has been an excellent time for me to review.  Odd times I have found that work for me to review are when I am in the shower and when I am trying to fall asleep at night.
  • My friendship with Ginger has grown as we talk through the Scriptures and review Scripture together.  I don't know why this surprises me because coming alongside each other and sharing Christ with each other should grow us closer!
  • Scripture has come alive for me in ways I could not ever imagine!  It is amazing how much the Scripture I am memorizing connects with each other and comes up at Bible study, in sermons, and in books I am reading.  Here is one example of this.  Over Christmas, Ginger and I memorized Luke 2 because it talks about the birth of Christ.  Over the Christmas break I was working on BSF homework and we are studying Leviticus.  There is a chapter in Leviticus that talks about regulations for a woman after she gives birth to a child: how long she will be unclean, what kind of sacrifice she needs to offer to the Lord, etc.  In the past, I have never found this passage very awe-inspiring or relevant to my life.  However, in Luke, one of the verses says, "When the time of their purification according to the law of Moses has been completed, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."  Now, in Leviticus I learned that the time of purification was 33 days.  And because they brought a pair of doves or two young pigeons, I knew that Mary and Joseph were poor because otherwise they would have brought a lamb!  All of this may not excite you, but I am typing faster with the excitement that it brings me to see how all Scripture is God-breathed and connected!
  • Scripture memory is exciting to me!  When we start a new chapter, even if we are only a few verses in, Ginger and I are often talking about the next chapter we will memorize.  We want to do it all, and we want to do it right now!
  • Here is the best one, and a testimony for those who  feel like they could never do it:  The more I memorize, the easier it becomes.  I have seen God's Word take root and my ability to memorize increase over the last six months.  Some weeks are a struggle.  But, friends, it is no joke when I say that over the course of today (just one day), I memorized 10 verses.  Now, I will have to review them over the next few days to really get them to stick in my brain.  But I was able to recite them just a few minutes ago without much of a mistake.  I was not able to do that six months ago.  And I would have been the first to say to anyone who would have tried to tell me it was possible, "You're crazy.  I could never do that!"  With God ALL things are possible!
Oh my goodness, I am so excited to be able to share this with you all!  I hope you made it to the end so I can say how much I love you, my readers!  Thank you for listening to me go on and on and get carried away with my excitement. :)  I hope it was an encouragement to you.  Even if you don't want to memorize Scripture after you read this, I hope it gave you encouragement to do something that you have previously thought was impossible!

And, if you're still reading now (sorry this post has gotten so long), you could be praying for me over the next week.  I am speaking in AWANA next week and have chosen to recite Acts 7 to them, one of the chapters we have memorized that is a history chapter.  I am so excited to share with the kids and encourage them to continue to memorize even after they leave AWANA, but I need prayer that I will remember everything that I have memorized.  It is very different reciting to myself or to Ginger and reciting to 100 kids and a couple handfuls of adults!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Blessings Jar Process

Many of you have told me that you are going to start a Blessings Jar after reading my post a few days ago. I am so glad that this project has inspired some people because it has been a huge blessing in my life. So, I thought I would tell you how I do my Blessings Jar in case you need some ideas.
The first year I did my Blessings Jar I found this card stock at Hobby Lobby. They are 4x4 cards and the pack is $4 for 75 sheets.  And they come in two different color schemes--darks and brights.  I use both packs so I have a wide variety.  Today, all the scrap booking stuff at Hobby Lobby was half off so I got three packs of cards for $6.  Not bad!
The first year, I would get the card as I wanted to write the blessing, but I found that I am more likely to keep up if I make things as simple as possible for myself.  So now I buy the pack of cards, and tear them all out.
Then I cut them in half to make them last longer and because they fit in the jar better.
And then I keep them next to my jar on the night stand in this box that John painted for me several years ago.
Now, each night, they are right there ready for me.  I just have to grab a color and write my blessing on the card and drop it the jar.

Not that you have to do it this way, but sometimes I just like to have ideas on how to streamline things.

Bundling up for the Cold

So, here is the thing about the cold.  And it is super cold today.  School was cancelled because of the cold.

The first dilemma is whether you dress for the cold outside or the heat inside.

Today I decided to dress for the cold outside.  And then I proceeded to sweat much of the day.

Second, is that I can layer lots on the top but not at all on the bottom.  I am not wearing long underwear that can't come off later.  Top layers can come off easier when you're inside.

Third, when I wear a scarf I feel like I can't turn my head in the car.  And I get a little claustrophobic because I don't like things around my neck.  But my supervisor made me a really cool scarf that I want to wear while it is cold enough for me to wear a scarf.

Who else has dilemmas for bundling up for the cold?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Refrigerator: 2015 edition

As so easily becomes the case on my blog: another tradition.
Each year I take all the new Christmas card pictures and arrange them on the refrigerator as a fun picture collage so that I can enjoy seeing all my friends and family throughout the year.  And who wants a boring old white refrigerator anyway?

This picture is last year's edition.
Drum roll please.....
Here is the 2015 edition of the refrigerator collage:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Blessings Jar 2014

Top: the full Blessings Jar
Bottom: The cards arranged by month ready to be reviewed.

I just read through my Blessings Jar post from last year to get an idea of how I wanted this post to go this year.  I liked my format so much last year, we're going with that tradition.  If you want to see how similar my 2013 was to my 2014 read here.  Otherwise, just trust me, my blessings look very similar, with a few exceptions that I will highlight as I go.

Themes from the year:
~Games with friends and family 
~Productive days at work and home
~Resisting temptation/working on a sin habit (This one in particular is new.  I worked really hard to conquer a sin habit this past year.  Some days were better than others and that was reflected in many of my cards.  But it was good to see how hard I worked on this sin habit and how faithful the Lord is to encourage me and forgive me when I fail.)
~Talks with friends
~Working on my prayer life (Another resolution I had last year that I worked really hard on at the beginning of the year but then struggled with toward the end of the year)
~New relationships
~Snail mail (I love that this was a theme from last year and that it always makes me happy)
~Weddings and engagements
~“And Can it Be” (I LOVE this song.  I think it made the blessings jar every single time I heard it at church or BSF)
~Lunches and dinners with friends
~BSF and Bible study
~Billing good units at work (this was such a struggle for me this last year and caused a lot of stress, so it was good to see the days that I did my job well)
~Birthdays (and not just my own!)
~Scripture memory with Ginger ( a new project that Ginger started and I joined her on.  So far we've memorized 14 chapters of the Bible and are continuing into the new year!  It has been such an encouragement and deserves a post all its own one day)
~Great weather
~Good sessions with clients

~Quiet evenings reading books

Here are specific cards from the year:
Jan 5th—Snow day!  No church L but it was a blessing because Emily and I would have been gone when the sewage backed up in the laundry room; finished another puzzle 
Jan 5th—Blessed by friendships far away—knowing that Elizabeth is fasting and praying this week and has included me in those prayers.
Jan 10th—Mail with pictures from John and Michael!  Games at the Burkes with Emily and Amanda.  Resisted temptation! Yay!
Feb 5th—The maintenance guy shoveled out my car for me.  Sunshine on snow and a great sunset.
Feb 10th—Talked to Dad on the phone; snail mail from Amy! J
Feb 14th—blessing of friends who will pray when I feel overwhelmed/stressed; Kaylay’s for a Valentine celebration.  Thank you , Lord, that it is not a holiday that makes me hate being single
Feb 26th—Good conversation about loving others with one of my AWANA girls
Mar 9th—Good sermon about being joyful and challenged to better recognize my own sin
Mar 17th—Laughing until I cried and almost peed in my pants (with Susan)
Mar 19th—Kari bought me a cookie cake “for my birthday” J
April 18th—Good Friday baptism service at church—amazing, as usual!
May 4th—“Take every thought captive” Sunday School lesson—just what I needed after a teary night missing family and a random dream where I got married
May 8th—Relaxing evening at home; reminiscing with college friends through a Facebook picture
June 16th—Talked to Danell—first step in planning a Texas trip this year
July 24th—Josh was baptized at Mission Peoria
July 26th—Back Pack Peoria—tied a little kid’s shoe and made him smile; following Dad around and watching him do what he does J
July 27th—Prayer meeting for Janelle—seeing the body of Christ do what it does best; perfect outdoor weather and spending the day with Acres kids in Edelstein
August 2nd—Never left the apartment!
August 22nd—Morning thunderstorms; dinner with the Burkes and Scripture Memory with Ginger
August 25th—woke up praying for Daynah’s first day of school and Janelle’s first day of chemo
Sept 4th—Struggled with a poor attitude because of client cancellations but I was able to repeatedly turn my mind to Scripture to refocus
Sept 5th—lunch with Ginger at Chickfila; low key evening with Amanda and Emily playing Ticket to Ride and Skip-bo; really long texting conversation with Daynah
Sept 17th—several leaders reported good things happening in their groups in AWANA
Oct 6th—Before I was out of my room hearing Lucy say, “I hope Teresa gets up soon”; 7Wonders with Danell and Ken
Oct 10th—Last full day in Texas; stayed up late talking with Danell and Ken and reminiscing
Nov 18th—Janelle’s post on Caring Bridge—her cancer is no longer growing and she won’t have to do another round of chemotherapy!!!
Nov 24th—Laughed a lot at BST—good to connect with small group
Dec 21st—Made it to Arizona!! Quiet evening with the family resting
Dec 24th—Finally felt 100%!!  Kurt Warner and family.  Even more cheesy Christmas movies J

It was again good to see how often my blessings came out of adversity and hard days.  Sometimes those days are the easiest for me to see the blessing, which is surprising to me.  The hardest days to name a blessing are often the days that are just normal and ordinary.  Those are the days I want to focus on more this year in order to list more than what I did on my cards but to focus on what the Lord does in those days.  I know I talked last year about how much I have enjoyed my Blessings Jar.  I love that it is still something that I enjoy and want to continue.  It has been a good day to day reminder for me of everything I have been given.  It is also fun to look back through the cards and see blessings that I would have forgotten if I had not written them down.  

Here is to a 2015 filled with great blessings from the Lord!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Last night I was at a New Year's Party where we prayed in the new year.  What an awesome blessing I have in new and old friends who are faithful to the Lord and inspire and push me to grow in my faith!

This morning as I was laying in bed at 11:00 (yes, you read that right!), I began praying for my new year and reflecting on the old year.  It is often a sobering experience.  Sin is such a powerful thing, even if there is no condemnation in Christ.  There are so many areas I want to grow in this year.  Here are a few of the main ones:

1.  I want to focus less on my circumstances and emotions and focus more on the sure foundation I have in Christ and what His Word tells me is true.
2.  I want to continue to memorize Scripture in order to be grounded more in God's Word.
3.  I want to grow more in service to others and not feel so entitled to have time to myself or for myself (not that I want to give that up completely, but I know that I lean more toward this than I should).
4.  I want to grow more in prayer for others and pray Scripture into the lives of others more often.
5.  I want to remember God's grace in my life and not think so much about my agenda for my life.  I want to rest in the assurance that God is in control, He has not forgotten me, and His plan for my life is way more than I could ever hope or imagine for myself.

Here is to a wonderful 2015!