Wednesday, March 31, 2010

90 Day Challenge

Are you ready for the challenge?

Can you read through the Bible in 90 Days?
YES you can!!!

Over the next few weeks the IDD blog will be posting a Bible Reading schedule that will get you through the entire Bible Genesis to Revelation in 90 Days.  I can't encourage you enough to take up this challenge.  I did it a few years ago, and I've never regretted it.  Never.  Probably the best 3 months of my life.

And it's totally do-able!  It takes about 45 minutes of reading time a day, depending of course, on how fast you read.  Some days I had my reading done in 30 minutes, some days it took a little longer, but it was never more than 45 minutes.  It worked best for me to just read whenever I had a chance during the day.  5-10 minutes in the morning as I ate my breakfast, a few minutes again at lunch, and whenever I got a chance during the day or at night right before bed.  If I had extra time, I would read ahead because of course, there will be days that are crazy start to finish and you won't have as much time.  And surprisingly enough I still had plenty of time to do my other recreational reading as well!

We'll be posting the weekly reading schedules every Sunday, starting this Sunday, April 4th, 2010.
Will you join me?
Grow in the Word!  Take the Challenge!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting close

“In these hymns tonight we begin to glimpse the coming joy, peeping out like crocuses through the snow.”
Frederica Mathewes-Green, Facing East, p. 71

This is where we are now. Pascha* is so close that I can close my eyes and see the candles, hear the songs, taste the food. Several times I have caught myself humming “Before the dawn, Mary and the women,” one of my favorite Pascha hymns. Every time I have to catch myself, to stop and think, “No, not yet.” Now we’re still singing “Behold the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake and watching.” We have to wait a little longer, hold on until the time for celebration is come. The dark day of the Crucifixion still hangs between us. Although it might sound strange, to skip ahead to the Resurrection would lessen its joy. How can we rejoice if we have not first mourned? How can we process around the church proclaiming the Resurrection if we have not first processed around the church with Christ’s bier, singing a funeral song?

All of this is still to come. For now we are still in the quiet time, catching our breaths after the grandness of Palm Sunday. We have a chance to rest before we plunge into the end of the week, with its continuous services. I’m still going to class, still participating in the world of school and work. Soon I will detach myself and, for a few precious days, immerse myself completely in the life of the church. But for now I watch and wait.

*The Eastern Orthodox word for Easter


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Living in hope

"What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?"

It's so easy for me to get caught up in the worries. What do I do after graduation? How do I find a job? What if I don't find a job and I end up living in a cardboard box with debt collectors coming after me for my student loans?

You probably have different worries, but I'll bet you have something. And they're probably real worries. I know mine are (well, maybe not the cardboard box). We can't just say, "Oh, that's silly," and stop worrying.

And yet, we get so wrapped up in our own concerns, so tangled in these webs of trouble, that we forget to look at God. We forget all the gifts he's given us. Some of them are small: a sunny day, a cup of tea, a good book. Some of them are bigger: an unexpected bonus, a new friendship.

I want to challenge all of us, myself included, to stop ourselves when we start to get all tangled up in that web. I want to challenge us to cut straight through it with the knowledge of God's love and care for each of us. I'm not saying that trusting in God will make in God will make it all perfect and easy and everything will magically fall into place. But what did St. Paul say about faith? It's the "substance of things hoped for." Let's try our best to live in that hope.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Promises of God - Psalm 42

This particular Promise of God might seem a little strange or out of place, but the promises in this particular Psalm have been my comfort through many trials.

To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? 
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. 
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 
Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. 
I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. 


Friday, March 12, 2010

Are You Up To the Challenge?

Everybody likes a good challenge, right?! Well... I do anyway...

A challenge by definition is 
1) Something that by its nature or character servers as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.
2) Difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulation to one engaged in it.
3) To summon to a contest of will or strength

Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle. In ancient days that would be the throwing down of the gauntlet. The call to arms the night of Paul Revere and William Dawes' famous ride to Concord. - Exciting, thrilling, stimulating. Not easy, but exciting.  

When we were talking about new blog topics, challenges came up. I jumped on the topic, I THRIVE on challenges. The more, the harder, the merrier. I know they aren't easy.  I balk at them, not wanting to feel inadequate, incompetent.  I think I can safely say that everyone prefers to do something that we are good at and know that we can excel in.  But without a challenge, how would we grow?  Here is a recent example.

Last week, during violin lessons, I was working with a student on their Solo and Ensemble piece.  The student told me that they shouldn't have to do something because it's hard and as a teenager they shouldn't have to.  I wouldn't be surprised if my mouth had dropped open.  All I could think is "being a teenager is NOT an excuse!"  Instead I told him that I was reading a book called Do Hard Things, and that he wasn't going to get away with pulling the teenager card out.  You can do it! I sat down and laid out a challenge.  It has been probably around 10 years since a violinist from the local school has gone to State Solo and Ensemble.  I gave him the challenge to be the person to stretch beyond and break that streak.  Well, he got the highest score you can get.  But he was doing a Grade B solo and only Grade A solos can go to state... opps... I forgot about that... BUT, he is all excited for next year.  He took the challenge.

Begin looking for challenges.  Stretch beyond yourself.  Give 100% instead of 80% or 125% instead of 110%.  Be know for what you do instead of what you don't do.  Take a challenge, take a stand and hold it.  History is full of examples.  The 20th Maine took a stand at the Battle of Gettysburg when the outlook was bleak and they were out of ammo.  They didn't retreat, with one word from their commander they took the challenge and charged forward, changing the outlook of the Civil War, and ultimately our nation.  The choices you make and the challenges you give yourself can be just as big a turning point in your life and the lives of the people close to you.

Start small, challenge yourself to do something beyond your comfort level.  Can you read the Bible through in 90 Days? Run 10 miles?   Volunteer at a soup kitchen?  Often the things that would be beneficial in us and our communities require us to go above and beyond.  Think of a challenge in your own life and set a goal.

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." - 1 Corinthians 16:13
"...having done all to stand." - Ephesians 6:13b

Take the challenge and stand.  If you need a support team we are always here and if you're looking for a starting point the IDD Blog will be hosting the 90 Day Bible Challenge, so stay tuned.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making March Happy

Even before we hit the first of March, I knew the first few days of the month would be difficult ones. My not-so-little-anymore brother left yesterday for Basic training in the Air Force. There’s a Lemony Snicket quote that goes, “It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.” This is no simple errand for ice cream sandwiches; he’s signed up for the next four years and after today, I don’t know when he’ll be home again. I’m not even 100% sure when I’ll see him again (I’m hoping to attend his graduation at the end of Basic, but that’s still in the planning stage).

So, March is already off to a rather difficult start. It was hard to watch my younger siblings hug him goodbye one last time Monday night. And it was hard to hug him goodbye one last time at the recruiting center after watching a leiutenant swear him into the Air Force.

March 1, 2 and 3rd have been rough. A bit teary, even. But the happiness? The happiness is my family. We’re not perfect, we’re prone to drama and we don’t always get along. But we’re a tight-knit group and love each other fiercely. Sure, if we didn’t love each other, if we weren’t so closely bound, the sadness of saying goodbyes wouldn’t be so sad. But on the other hand, we wouldn’t share in the joy and the love that comes with the sadness, either.

This is part of the Making March Happy project on Krista's blog Between the Stacks. Click over to see more posts on Making March Happy.

- Written March 3rd, 2010


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Proverbs 31:23

Her husband is 
known in the gates, 
when he sitteth among the
elders of the land.
-Proverbs 31:23

If you're anything like me you read this verse and skip right over it.  You think " 'husband' ok, don't have one of those, this verse doesn't apply to me."  But, since my study right now is causing me to look at the Proverbs 31 Virtuous Woman through different eyes  I'm starting to see things a little clearer.  I might not have a husband NOW, but I certainly would like to have one sometime in the future.  So, how can I prepare for this now? 

The first thing I noticed here was that this entire passage of scripture is about the virtuous woman.  Not her husband.  There are only a few places where her husband is even mentioned.  But, even then, those verses aren't talking about HIM.  They're talking about what her relationship is with him.  So, I think we can assume that even though this verse is talking about a husband, there's something for us to learn from it.  You've heard the saying "Behind every good man is a good woman?"  I'm not saying that's completely true.  And I'm not trying to peddle a feminist agenda.  :)  But, the basis of that idea is that if a man is good, chances are pretty high that his wife is supportive and kind. Encouraging and a good influence.  She probably isn't like the woman mentioned in Proverbs 21:9 and 21:19.  "It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman."  Ouch. 

The Husband mentioned in this verse is a respected and well-known man.  He has a good reputation.  Do you think he built that reputation all on his own?  He could certainly do that and if he were single he would have only himself to concern with the upkeep of that reputation.  But, we know for a fact that he's married because this verse calls him a husband.  So, that got me to thinking about what kind of wife a respected man like that would have.  I have an excellent example right in front of my nose.  My own father is an elder in our church.  He's also a business man of good reputation in our community.  His wife (my mom) is supportive, encouraging and does an excellent job maintaining her own good reputation which in turn reflects well on my dad.  It always helps me to look at things in the converse.  So, I tried to imagine what my Dad's business and church responsibilities would look like if my mom nagged at him all the time.  To be honest, I had a hard time imagining my dad even wanting to be a well known person if he constantly had to be dealing with a contentious and angry wife.  I've been at many community events and watched my dad proudly introduce his wife to everyone he meets.  What if he didn't want to introduce her because she was such a negative person?  What if he introduced her to people and rather than smiling and being friendly she was rude?  My dad's reputation would suffer for it. 

In a conversation with our own Valerie the other day she mentioned that she felt that a lot of guys might be intimidated by the kind of man that most of us girls are looking for.  This led to a discussion of what kinds of qualities we should expect to find in a good husband candidate, which of those we should reasonably expect to be matured qualities (like a heart for the Lord) and which character qualities we should only reasonably expect him to be in the process of developing.  After all, it takes many years to iron out and develop a Godly character.  I'm certainly not perfect and I would hate to feel that I'm being passed over as a good marriage candidate because I'm not perfect.  During the conversation I mentioned that I wasn't looking for someone who was perfect.  Just so he had a willing heart and a goal about what kind of man he wants to become.  I'm totally willing to provide encouragement to help him get there!  I'm a good encourager!  And that kind of encouragement is exactly what I need in my own life!  I know who it is I want to be and I'm working on reaching  my goals.  A little encouragement along the way would be just splendid.  :)  But, I digress...  The point is that if we have expectations of what kind of man we're looking for as a husband, we should expect that the guys also have expectations about what kind of women they are looking for in a wife.  And, if we expect to marry a certain quality of man, we need to be worthy of him. 

The husband in this verse is a leader among men.  Before he was married, what kind of woman do you suppose he was looking for in a wife?  What kind of character traits do you suppose appealed to him?  Should we assume that he married a run-of-the-mill girl?  Or, that he married a girl who had the makings of being a strong, responsible, well respected women?  We have a joke in our house and it takes a little bit of explaining.  My dad is in a group of men at our church that we often refer to as "The Elders" :)  The elder's wives are usually referred to as (creatively enough) the "Elders Wives."  My mom has always encouraged her daughters to be strong women of God, leaders of our peers, encouragers and wise counselors.  She set for us the goal of being the kind of women that would be good wives of good men.  The kind of men that hold positions of leadership in their communities and churches.  She called us "Elders Wives in Training."  Or, as we quickly nick-named it "E-WITS."  It's funny, and we laugh when we talk about being "E-WITS" but the principle is a good one.  We should be preparing now to be the kind of woman that are well-equipped to encourage a man who is "known in the gates."  Be worthy of what you desire. 


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Written March 1, 2010

Yesterday I had books due at the public library, so I walked over in the afternoon. It had been sunny earlier but by then the clouds had moved in. Still, I think the pearly grey light almost as beautiful as sunlight sometimes, in an entirely different way of course.

The colors of the landscape are still dark and somber--deep green grass and dark brown earth. But the first cherry trees have started blooming; their fallen blossoms are the only snow I've seen this year. The magnolias are starting too. They're a nostalgic tree: one of our neighbors growing up had a magnolia tree which every year sprang into these perfect flowers, startling in the squalor of the rest of their yard. And there were several I passed regularly on my way too and from the Tube last year.

The world feels expectant these days. Not quite hopeful. Not yet. We still have March to get through. And yet the promise of spring is on its way and the first brave flowers are pushing their way out and into the world, despite setbacks like today. It was cold! But still the daffodils by the science building are still blooming and the forsythia has started too.


Friday, March 5, 2010


Hey girls!!

Have you ever noticed that all my posts include me thinking.... hope that's a good thing because yep, I was at it again :-)  I was thinking about how when I am thankful for something my whole world looks a little brighter.  I've made it a habit of mine to come up with at least one thing everyday that I am thankful for. And find things to be thankful for in the maybe not so thankful things.

Yesterday for instance, I was thankful that my shoe got all muddy when I stepped on the grass.  Because you know what, mud means that the snow is melting and SPRING IS COMING!!!

So, what are you thankful for today?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Review: Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley
I give this book 5 stars and 2 thumbs up.  That's how much I loved it.

Carolyn writes from her own experience and her honesty is touching, humorous and in some instances even heartbreaking.  But mostly her honesty is inspiring, level headed and REAL.

Who would've thought reading a book on a subject I personally struggle with written by another woman struggling with the same thing could be so encouraging and uplifting?

I was especially pleasantly surprised to find the author addressing the topic of the Proverbs 31 woman especially relating to single women.  This is a topic the IDD Blog has recently been studying.  I found her insights to be invaluable.

I recommend this book to EVERY woman aged 15-95, married or single.  Even though it's primary focus is single woman, Carolyn points out that single woman are just woman, who happen to currently be single.  Her encouraging words apply to women in every walk of life.

You can find more of Miss McCulley's work at Boundless


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