Friday, December 31, 2010

Filling up the house

This is part of 2 of my new years series. To read part one go here. Please leave a comment or email me with any questions you have!

From the time I was in first grade I had to memorize a verse every single week. I was to recite the verse to my parents and then have them sign a very sheet which would be turned into my teacher. I did really well on this until about my senior year, then I got lazy. That year I just had my mom sign the sheet and then i would learn the verse about half an hour before the verse test. Not the best way to fill my mind and heart with His word.

This year I'm determined to change that. Two girlsfriends and I will be participating in someting called the "Siesta Scripture Memory Team" facilitated on the blog of the wonderful Bible teacher, Beth Moore. You can read detailed instructions here. Basically, you pick a Scripture verse on the first of the month, leave a comment on her blog saying which scripture you've chosen and then memorize it over the next two weeks. You will then repeat the process on the 15th of the month. You will memorize a total of 24 scriptures in all.

I'm really excited about this because I firmly believe in the power of Scripture. Nothing stops the enemy in his tracks like the Word of God. Hebrews 3: 1 reminds us to, 'fix your(our) thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.' What better way to fix our thoughts on Him than to fill our minds with His words?

I'm already chosen my first scripture. I wanted something that goes along with the fast I will be doing. I chose I Thessalonians 5:23, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." My whole fast is about getting rid of the junk and sanctifying myself before God. I thought this verse was perfect.

I hope that I have encouraged some of you to consider making a commitment to fill your mind with scripture this coming year.


Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cleaning House

This new year I'm making a lot of changes to the way I live. I wanted to share my goals and strategies with you, so over the next few days that is what I will be doing. Please leave a comment or send me an email( if you have any questions.

I'm a planner. A very serious planner. I do tons of research before I even buy a new mascara(seriously). So, imagine my reactions when just a few days ago I started to feel this tug. This pull from fast. But not just any fast. To do the Daniel Fast. I felt God saying to me, "Start the new year fresh. Do the Daniel Fast to get rid of last year's junk(physical and spiritual) and renew yourself for the coming year." My reaction," Well, I would need to do some proper research which would take me approx. 14 days, so how about I start in February?" Sometimes i think God just shakes His head and laughs at me. Over the past few days I've been seeing the Daniel Fast everywhere. Everywhere I turn there is a book or an article or a friend confiding in me their desire to fast to begin the new year. So I've relented and will be starting the first 21 days of the new year by fasting the way the prophet Daniel did. I found a great book to help me along this journey(other than the Bible) its entitled, ironically, "The Daniel Fast" by Susan Gregory.

 The Daniel Fast is based off of the example of the prophet in the book of Daniel chapters 1 and 10. Daniel 1:9-14 says," But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, " I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you. Daniel then said to the guard who the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, " Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat your royal food, and treat your servants in accordance to what you see." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. "  Daniel was from a well respected Jewish family. He was, at the time of the above passage, a captive in Babylon. The King had invaded Israel and taken captive a good majority of the people as slaves. Daniel, being from a good family, had a good education, was handsome, wise, ect. Everything a good king would look for in one of his officials, which is what Daniel was being trained for. Therefore Daniel and his friends were treated with special respect, the king himself even ordered their food. But Daniel refused to eat the food because: 1. He was Jewish and they had strict guidelines as to how meat was to be prepared and the Babylonians did not follow these guidelines and 2. The meat itself had been sacrificed to pagan gods. So Daniel presented his own plan for healthy eating as you can read in the above passage.  After the 10 days testing period Daniel and his comrades appeared healthier, stronger and wiser than those who had eaten the kings food, so the meal plan stuck. The original Hebrew text would have used the word Pulse for vegetables which means anything from a seed, so the Daniel Fast included anything from a seed such as fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, ect.

We gain more guidelines for the fast from Daniel 10:3," I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips;"  "Choice food" is sometimes interpreted as "pleasant food" which is why the Daniel Fast does not include any sweets, whether they contain sugar, honey, agave nectar, ect., and also no alcohol.

The Daniel Fast is essentially a vegan diet with some added restrictions. The things one CANNOT have on the Daniel Fast include:

-all dairy products
-all sweeteners
-all leaved bread
-all refined and processed food products
-all solid fats
-all non water beverages(This includes coffee and tea even though they are both natural. I'm a big coffee and tea drinker though, so I've decided to give up the one that is hardest for me,coffee, and limit myself to just a few cups of tea a day)

The foods one CAN have while on the Daniel Fast include:

-all fruits
-all vegetables
-all whole grains
-all nuts and seeds
-all legumes(beans)
-all quality oils
-soy foods(this includes soy milk, which is not a dairy product)
-condiments and cooking ingredients

To some this may seem like a crazy idea. For those who are not use to eating like this, the Daniel Fast can be daunting. The hardest part I think is going to be all of the preparation. I will have to literally cook every single meal. No more grabbing a granola bar as I run out the door in the morning(it contains sugar as well as other processed ingredients) no more running through Wendy's for a quick dinner. I have to think ahead and plan my food according to what I will be doing that day. 

To help myself be organized through out this process I will be planning menus one week at a time: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some of the food can be prepared a few days in advance, so I will also be doing a lot of that.

You are probably wondering, why? Why are you doing this? Why do you feel God is calling you to this? The last 12 months of my life have been filled with a lot of junk, both physically and spiritually. I'm doing this as a way to get rid of that junk and to start this year fresh, completely surrendered to God. I'm excited I can't wait to see what He has in store for the next year.

I will occasionally share a recipe or an experience I have on here, but rest assured this fast is all about me and God and has nothing to do with blogging. I am however, more than willing to answer any questions you have about this fast or about why I am doing it. Feel free to leave a comment for jot me an email with your questions.

God is good, my friend, and I so look forward to seeing Him in a new way over the coming weeks.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Online accountability

Lately I began  reading a friends new blog. Its their first attempt at blogging and is really interesting to read. The thing I've noticed though, is that when someone comments on their blog, they do not use they're actual name. Instead they use some kind of nickname I guess you could call it. Ex: he wrote a post about getting up early and a commentor put they're name as 'earlyriser'.  I think I'm the only person to comment on the blog who used my actual name.

The reason this really bugs me(like, really bugs me) is that there is absolutely no accountability online anymore. You can just make up a name and never have to answer to what you say.

Growing up a principle my parents reinforced over and over again was accountability for you actions. If you did something that you knew was wrong, you had to face the consequences. Not so much anymore thanks to the Internet.

I hear a new story every week about a cyber bullying case. Students who are being bullied via facebook or myspace. Of course we can't always hold these bullies(read:cowards) accountable for their actions because they don't have to use their actual names.

Please don't think that I'm going to be all "The Internet is of the devil! Ban is from you home!" I'm not. I'm a big fan of the Internet, but more than that I'm a fan of accountability and responsibility. I encourage you to not hide behind a 'username', but to hold yourself to a higher standard online. I completely understand the desire to not give out too much personal info online, but that doesn't mean you get to say what you want without facing up to the consequences. Before you say something online ask yourself this: what would my reaction be if someone was saying this to me? Lets lift each other up, not tear one another down.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas recap

Oh.My.Word. The last few weeks have been such a whirlwind of activity. Between the parties and the shopping and baking and wrapping. My goodness. I greatly appreciate you  for putting up with my(unplanned) hiatus over the holiday weekend. I had planned to post at least once, but just realized that I hadn't seen my family in months and wanted to spend time with them. It was wonderful.

Christmas at our house is very quiet and low key. Like I said the weeks preceding Christmas are extremely hectic so Christmas day is very laid back. My sister works the night before so she usually gets home about 8am. Then we all wake up and make coffee and cinnamon rolls and sit around opening presents for a few hours(yes hours. We're very spoiled girls.) The rest of the day is spent watching movies, sleeping, and eating yummy food that was made the day before. It was a wonderful day to just breathe.

What about you? What was your day like?


Friday, December 24, 2010

From the Simons

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes to you and yours this Chrstmas season.

The Simons.

*sorry about the terrible picture! It was taken just a few weeks ago at my parents anniversary party and it was the best I could find. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Under Construction

I am updating the blog a bit today so it will look a little crazy today Please check back later to see the new look!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On my nightstand

Last January I had the opportunity to do an internship with a local church. During my there I got to talk with many different people and 'pick their brians'(if you will) about how to be successful in life, faith, ministry, relationships, ect. The one thread that all of their advice contained: read. Every single person emphasized the importance of reading and growing and never being satisfied with where you are. Always striving to know more. Since then I've tried to make it a point to read about a book a month. Not a fiction book for fun, but a book that will challenge me in some area of my life; usually spiritually. A few of the books that are currently sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read are....

1. God Came Near by Max Lucado: I'm actually currently reading and really enjoying this book. Max Lucado is such a brilliant story teller. This book really shows you the stark reality of what Jesus did, not only by dying on the cross, but by coming to Earth in human form in the first place.

2. One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill: My friend Caleb, who is also the youth director of the youth group I volunteer with, gave me a copy of this book last week. Caleb and I have been friends for a few years and I know enough about him to know that this book must have impacted him greatly for him to not just recommend it, but to buy a copy and give to me. Really looking forward to reading this after the new year....

3. Discipleship Counseling by Dr. Neil T. Anderson: I took a class about prayer two summers ago and this is one of the books I was suppose to *ahem* read during the course of the 21 week class. I never read it. But, I think might. One of my majors is psychology with a specialization in Christian counseling and I feel that this book would be a good way to expand my knowledge of the subject. Its a whopper though, I might give myself a few months to read this one.

4. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin: This one if for me. I love Emily Giffin. She's funny and charming and realistic. I picked this book up at Half Priced Books(my favorite place) several months ago, brought it home, shoved it in my book drawer(yes, drawer), and promptly forgot about it. I just found it early tonight. Maybe I will read it while I'm on vacation in a few weeks....

So, there's my book list. What's on yours?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Filled to be emptied

As melodramatic as it sounds, I feel empty. Literally, I feel like a pitcher of water whose contents have been poured out and is now sitting on the table. Empty. My quiet times with God are not what they use to be. I feel like I’m communicating more with Him now than ever before, but I just can’t seem to do my Bible study homework. I just end up sitting and staring at the wall.

As a youth leader, I feel inadequate. I can sit and talk and listen and pray, but I have no advice to give. No answers to the questions my favorite students inevitably ask. How can I pour into them when I have nothing inside of me that can be poured out? The words of Hillsong’s “Desert Song” have never ringed truer for me, “I know I’m filled to be emptied again.” I was filled and now I’m empty.

I had coffee with some of my best friends/sisters in Christ/fellow youth leaders last weekend and they emphasized that this is why we as Believers need to be a part of a local ‘body’. We need to be in relationship with other Believers so that when we are empty, they can fill us back up.

There have been many times over my more than a decade of being a follower of Christ that I have had the opportunity to fill others up. I’m very good at filling others up. Being filled myself?

Not so much.
It’s a very humbling experience to allow others to come alongside you and pick up where you are lacking, and to others help fill the holes that are in your spirit. I’m learning, however, that it’s a beautiful thing.

When the body of Christ functions the way it was intended to, lives are changed. Relationships are mended. Spirits are restored.

My advice: don’t fight it. Let the Believers around you do what they are supposed to do. Except their encouragement, their friendship, their love. Let yourself be cared for.

I Corinthians 12: 18, 24b-26
"18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.24  But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Comfy Day

It has been snowing for three days here in my little Ohio town and everything is still in the 'magical' stage. You know that time when the snow is still fresh and clean looking? Its a beautiful pristine white blanket that makes everything look like a movie. I love this time. In a few days all of that gorgeous white snow will become brown and yellow*ahem* and just kind of yucky looking, so I"m really enjoying the beauty of it now.

Speaking of enjoying, I have a much desired Monday off today. Can anyone else hear angles singing or is that just me? ;) Don't think I'll be staying home sleeping all day though(ok so I slept til 8:45, a girls entitled to a little rest,right?). Today is all about getting some Christmas stuff done. I've decided to make quite a few of my gifts this year, so I'll primarily be working on those. but then I'm also getting the house ready decorate. I'm not gonna lie, I love it when our house looks like the North Pole blew up and landed in our living room. I'm one of 'those people'. And I make no apologies. My mom and I went shopping this morning and got all kinds of cute things for the bathroom and tonight we'll be decorating our tree. Even if our hearts aren't feeling very Christmacy this year, it doesn't mean that our house can't look like it.

Honestly, I just plan on resting today. I haven't gotten to do that a lot lately and I could use a day when I don't get out of my pj's(I do have my Bible study Christmas party, so I suppose I'll have to get dressed at some point...). These last few weeks have been tough and I need a day to drink lots of coffee and just be home.

What are you plans for today?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Shopping

The Christmas shopping season is in full swing and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it this year. This is the first year that I’ve had ‘real money’ to be able to afford some extra special gifts for family and friends. Gifts that have really been catching my eye this season are handmade items. I’ve found lots of great stores that handcraft things like jewelry, purses, and household items likes dishes and decorative items. The best part: for the most part the items that I’ve found have been very reasonably priced. A lot of the things that I’ve found have been under $30. For custom pieces, that’s a great price. I would love to show some of the things that I’ve bought, but unfortunately some of the gifts recipients read my blog and I’m not one to disclose presents before Christmas.  I will however, share with you some of my favorite online stores. Most of these I have come across while reading various blogs and quite a few of them have very interesting blogs of their own. Click on the link to learn more about them.

Funk Vintage Kitchen- I have absolutely fallen in love with this store. The creator, April Kennedy, takes items that otherwise might be thrown away and turns them into gorgeous gifts. She also features some lovely handmade jewelry. I have bought a few pieces from her and cannot wait to give them this Christmas. I’ve also been really impressed with her prices. Very reasonable.

The Pleated Poppy-This is another shop that I came across while reading some blogs one day. Based in California, Lindsey the creator, handcrafts lots of fun little purses and pouches(I think they would make a great make up back or purse for a little girl). She also makes adorable flower pins and hair clips as well as some beautiful  crystal necklaces. A little pricier than my first shop, but I think you really get a fantastic product for the price. Bonus:  If you read her blog she will often give codes for 10% and 15% off in her shop. 

Lisa Leonard Designs-  I’m a little obsessed with this shop right now. Lisa Leonard makes absolutely stunning handmade jewelry.  The pieces are often customizable and perfect for moms, grandmas, sisters, nieces, anyone that loves beautiful handmade jewelry. I should warn you, it’s not cheap, but it’s beautiful and totally worth it for an extra special gifts.

I hope that you have fun 'window' shopping these sights. They offer fun, beautiful gifts for loved ones...and a in my case at least, a few for yourself as well.

Happy Browsing!