Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Set a Bible Reading Goal for 2011!

How much time did you spend reading the Bible this past year? If you don't know...you should find out!

As I shared previously in this post at the beginning of July, I keep track of the days that I actually have my "quiet time". It's pretty simple. At the end of each year, I print off a "Read Through the Bible in a Year" reading plan (or you could make a copy if you have one in the back of your Bible) and each day that I sit down to have a "formal" time with the Lord, I circle that day's date and reading assignment. If I finish the reading, I cross it off. (If I look back and see a crossed off assignment, I know I probably missed that day, but went back to read it anyway).

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't feel this is a requirement to being spiritual. I just find this to be a good way for me to keep track. But guess what? The more scribbles on the paper, the better I function! True story!

Did you know that by reading three chapters of the Bible per day, you can read through the New Testament in 90 days? Or that by reading an average of four chapters per day, you can read through the entire Bible in a year? Or, if you read one chapter per day, you can read through the entire New Testament in a year. (By the way, that's kind of the rate I was going this year! Well, sort of!) 
Do whatever works for you. But, do something! Even if it's just one verse of Scripture per day, you'll be better off than if you hadn't read anything at all! Hebrews 4:12 says "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Is there anybody that doesn't need more "power" for their day?

I would encourage you to take a moment and make a Scripture-reading goal for the upcoming year. And keep track of your progress. I'm always amazed when I look back and see what percentage of my month I actually spent in reading God's Word. Sometimes it can be a tad discouraging if I've been less than diligent, but you can better believe during those times, I get really determined to be more consistent.

Here are a few links to printable Bible reading plans to help you get started:

What "system" do you follow to make sure you're consistent in Bible-reading? Share with me in the comments!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Goals for 2011

This time of year usually becomes a time of reflection and re-evaluation for me. Between my birthday around Thanksgiving time, and the approaching new year, I always "turn inward" as a way of determining how I grew as a person in the previous year, and how I still need to grow in the coming year.

A few days ago, I sat down and updated some goals for the new year. A goal, as I've learned, should be something specific and measurable. Some of these meet that criteria, and some are not as easy to "measure", but just the act of writing them down gets me closer to that achievement. Also, the act of referring back to these goals is good motivation to move in that direction. And (oh, and) publishing them for all the bloggy world to see is great pressure motivation to work toward meeting these goals...if for no other reason than to avoid "gah! I didn't improve at all in that area!" So, without further ado, here they are!
 Spiritual Goals:
  1. Spend moments alone with God (in prayer and Bible reading) everyday. Put Him first before anything including computer time and chores.
  2. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit- Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
  3. Make church a priority. Be excellent in my areas of service. Do what God directs me to do regardless of whether or not my work is acknowledged or appreciated. Keep my eyes on Him!
  4. Make a habit of speaking the language of praise- stop complaining! Tame my tongue!

Marital Goals:
  1. Be positive with my husband. Don't criticize, complain or condemn.
  2. Keep "covenant" in the forefront of my mind- by doing a Scripture study and/or reading books/listening to teachings that promote covenant in marriage.
  3. Be flexible (this one is a biggie for me!)- Let your immediate answer be "yes" or at the very least "I'll think about it". (So often I am immediately opposed to new ideas- this is a habit that I would like to break this coming year to promote peace in my marriage).

Maternal Goals:
  1. Actively direct P & C to the Lord by sharing Scriptures with them, weaving Biblical lessons into the everyday- don't be afraid to show them my need for the Savior when I mess up, too! Keep them in prayer on a daily basis!
  2. Focus on spending quality time with them in instruction, creative play, and just for fun (with no agenda)! Get out of the house on a weekly basis (in addition to church- i.e. to the library, park or elsewhere). Institute regular TV turn-off weeks/days.
  3. Work toward having "real food" be the basis for their diet (and ours too of course)...phase out store bought/processed foods like chicken nuggets.

Domestic Goals:
  1. Cultivate order and beauty in our home. Make it a place of tranquility and hospitality. Go the extra mile to make things "pretty".
  2. Find and use one new recipe each month.
  3. Pare down our possessions by doing "27 Fling Boogies" or something similar on a regular basis. Keep stuff I/we love and use, but sell, donate or dispose of other stuff.

Personal Goals:
  1. Continue to develop friendships with other women...pray for and be on the look out for a Titus 2- type mentor.
  2. Continue to blog regularly- make a schedule of posts every month (you know, so I don't sit around wondering what to blog about every day!). Gain 60 new blog followers in 2011.
  3. Read! Commit to two books per month for a total of 24 in 2011! (And, try to read one book at a time! :D)
  4. Contribute $400 per month to our family's income (with the purpose of covering "non-essential" expenses like gifts and other nice-but-not-necessary things) through my Pampered Chef business.

So...what are you going to be up to next year? Tell me about it in the comments, or feel free to link to your post about your goals for the new year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Questions

I found this festive meme at A Stranger in this Land- Here's her list from a couple weeks ago!

I don't know what it is about this year...I realize that Christmas is fast approaching, and I've managed to put up a little "Charlie Brown-ish" Christmas tree (the ornaments did not survive the children's curiosity!) and the stockings that my sister lovingly handmade for our family.  Other than that, I'm hardly in the "Christmas mood".  I realize it is about Jesus- but for me that's what every day is about.  Sooo...I was thinking that participating in this meme would help me gear up for the upcoming festivities! Enjoy, and feel free to link to your own meme!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I actually really love wrapping presents.  Call me crazy, but it's only once per year, most of the other gift-giving occasions get a gift bag ('cause I have a million of them!) but there's just something about wrapping a gift at Christmas that makes is so much more special.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial.  I've never had a real tree since I've been "out on my own".  I don't plan on doing a real one any time soon, unless it's like...one of those little potted ones.

3. When do you put up the tree? That is to be determined. I have no set "rule" for this...sometime after Thanksgiving...usually in the first week or so of December.

4. When do you take the tree down? Again, no "rule" for this one...usually the week following Christmas though, 'cause I know if I don't it'll still be there in February!  Now with little ones, the sooner the better!

5. Do you like eggnog? No!  But I'm sure it's possible that one year I will start liking it!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Two words: Big Wheel!

7. Hardest person to buy for? Can I count myself?  I know I'm terribly picky!  Ok, maybe my husband.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Any of my eight nieces and nephews!

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither.  I think I sent out cards the first year we were married, but since then I have not. (Sorry, Grandma!)

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Probably most everything I receive from the "white elephant" gift exchange at church!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Hmm...maybe "A Christmas Story".  I might be saying that 'cause I'm having trouble coming up with something better.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? A week or two before Christmas usually!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Totally have! See number 11!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Gumbo. Our family eats it every Christmas Eve.

16. Lights on the tree (colored or clear)? I like the colors. I give bonus points for flashing lights! Lol. :)

17. Favorite Christmas song? I'm going to have to say Harry Connick Jr's version of "O Holy Night".

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We stay local.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Nope.

20. Angel, star or ribbon on top of tree? I like angels on top of the tree.  And flashy colored lights.  Are you getting a visual now? (Like, the tackiest Christmas tree ever? Just kidding.)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve with extended family, and Christmas morning at home with the children. The best of both worlds!

22. Favorite children's Christmas song? The Chipmunk Song. (C'mon, you saw that coming, right?)

23. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Basically, the greed aspect I think.

24. Favorite ornament theme or color? No theme, really.  I just like the sentimental ornaments...the ones the children make, "Baby's First Christmas"- stuff like that.

25. Turkey or ham on Christmas day? I don't know if there's really a traditional "something" we eat on Christmas day.  I guess it just depends on where we are.

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? Just to spend time with family and enjoy the day. And, one can never go wrong with more books!

27. Does anyone in your family dress up as Santa? Nope.

28. Age you discovered who Santa was? I have no idea.  It may have been in early adolescence. I think it was kind of something I always knew was just make believe.

29. Eggnog, hot chocolate, or apple cider? Hot chocolate would probably be the all time favorite, but apple cider sounds pretty good right about now.

30. Traditional colors (red and green) or other colors? Blue. My Grandma made me a Christmasy table runner that was blue with silver snow flakes. Very pretty.

31. Do you have any Christmas decorations on your roof? That would be a "no"!

32. How does Santa get into your house? He doesn't.  Jesus and Santa in the same house? Hmm...I mean I know some people do it, but the modern portrayal of "Santa Claus" just goes against my (and my husband's) personal convictions.

33. Do you prefer gifts or gift cards? Gift cards would be really useful right about now. But usually I appreciate a really thoughtful gift.

34. Favorite children's Christmas Cartoon? I'd probably have to say "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"...but actually I prefer reading the story.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blessed are the Peacemakers

"Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!" Matthew 5:9
 I so wish I could say in all actuality that the above Scripture always suits me to a "T". But I can't! At least not for the past several weeks. And at least not lately in my marriage.

Over the past month or so, we've had several minor "setbacks" that have come up, and I have not dealt with them gracefully. Not one bit. In everything, I was constantly looking for someone to blame...someone to hold accountable for all the things that have gone wrong lately. Guess who got the brunt of it? If you guessed my husband, you're right!

Now, before you try this at home, let me just tell you, it does nothing to improve one's marriage. It does, however, cause the male person in the marriage to become withdrawn, in addition to a host of other undesirable results.

I started thinking about all of this, and how a lot of things were definitely NOT going my way one day after a pretty big fight. The biggest thing for me was the blame aspect. I was being critical. Nothing was good enough. Even something as simple as my husband's run to the grocery store elicited a negative response from me (i.e. "I meant fresh parsley...not dry").

Back to the Scripture. I was not "enjoying enviable happiness". I was not feeling particularly "spiritually prosperous". I wasn't seeing much "life-joy" or "satisfaction in God's favor and salvation" for that matter. I was neither making peace nor maintaining it. It would stand to reason that those who do the opposite of making and maintaining peace- sowing discord, and fighting their husband every step of the way- would get the opposite of what this Scripture promises. Just some of the negative things you would reap (if you were brave enough to try this yourself- like I was) are unhappiness, spiritual lack, misery, and dissatisfaction...just to name some of the results of this choice.

However (oh, how I love "however"), in God's infinite grace, He allowed me to see the error of my ways, and I was able to repent (just as you can if you happen to relate to this post even a tiny little bit). 1 John 1:9 (one of my faves) says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." For me, I know that total success in this area may not be an overnight thing, but I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. That's the beauty of it though. God will meet me wherever I'm at, as long as I'm willing to yield to Him! (And believe me, I'm more than willing to get away from this negative attitude!)

What can you do if you happen to be in a similar situation? Just take one step at a time! Commit to being a peacemaker in your marriage first of all. Purpose to let your response be one of peace...not everything has to go "your way" or even the way you are used to it being. Watch your tone, and communicate to your spouse that you believe their intentions to be good even if they do something unexpected.

So, from now on, I am a peacemaker! I hesitated to share my experience, being that my blog is called "Happy Christian Home" and all. I was certainly doing nothing to live up to that title! But I know you ladies might be able to relate, and maybe just maybe somebody will be helped by my admission.

So...what steps do you take in your marriage to be a "maker and maintainer of peace"? Feel free to share in the comments!

Linking up for Marriage Mondays at Come Have a Peace