Monday, August 30, 2010

a challenge

image used with permission by

a little background
i mentioned in a previous post that i had decided to start this new school year (always kinda like a new year to me) by reading the Bible cover to cover.  oftentimes i keep most of my Bible study in books of the Bible i am feeling the Lord highlighting to me in certain seasons.  though this is a great way to get into the Word, i have found that since i have lost the habit of reading the Bible through once a year like i did in the past, there are many books that i haven't visited for several years (gasp!) such as romans or acts, simply because i didn't feel particularly drawn to them.  i have been feeling the need to review the Bible, especially the parts i don't read regularly, for about a month now, so i decided now is the time.

my goal

my goal is to read some amount every single day, starting in genesis and ending in the revelation of Jesus.  now, with 4 kids, there will be days when i honestly can only get in one chapter.  i am totally going to try to do at least that much because the way my mind sometimes works is if it isn't as much as i wanted to accomplish, why even try.  but i will do something every day, minus the very few exceptions.  

the challenge

there are 1189 chapters in the Bible.  this means that if i read 3 or 4 chapters every day, i will finish the whole Bible in a year.  not too bad.  if i read about 13 chapters a day, i could finish in 90 days.  for some reason the challenge of that draws me, even though it is very unlikely i could average that every day right now. 

i am going to stick with making a goal of 3 or 4 chapters every day.  i think it is very realistic for where i am at and, of course, if i get on a roll i could read more than that on any particular day.  


i started last wednesday and today i am on genesis 19.  i will updated all my faithful readers on this blog on my progress from time to time as a bit of accountability.  i am working on my yes being yes and my no being no (matthew 5), so knowing that i am making this commitment publicly puts on a bit of good pressure to keep my word.

filling wasted time

an even cooler idea popped in my head last week as well.  i figured that with regular mommy duty car trips and now dropping off/picking up kids (includes taking my pre-kindergartener inside to sign in and out of class) to and from school, i am in the car an approximate of 3 hours 5 days a week.  that seemed like an incredible waste of time to me and i was fretting about all i could be getting done during that time that i will not be able to do in this season.  then this great idea popped in my head:  i will listen to the Bible, cover to cover, on cd in the car!  i remembered that both my mom and mother-in-law gave us the Bible on cd in two different versions, so i started right away.  

so far so good.  i am on disc 4, in the middle of exodus.  i have only been listening since thursday, i believe.  i am going to get through the Bible so much faster than i can sitting down and reading, so i will get a double dose of the whole thing.  

my new addiction

it has been addicting, i will admit.  my kids even asked me this morning as soon as they got into the car if i could turn on the Bible.  we are all hooked!

several times i have almost cried as the Lord has revealed Himself in deeper ways through stories i have read before and heard before.  i have been asking Him to open my heart and for the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to me as all the Scripture speaks of Him.  

i can't wait to get back into the car to hear more.  we had lost disc 4 and this afternoon i told my husband we had to find it immediately!  i had finished disc 3 and couldn't skip one of my very favorite books in the Bible, exodus, and just move on.  so we searched until we successfully found it and i could go pick up asher listening to the stories of moses and the signs and wonders in egypt. 

invitation to the challenge

so, will any of you join me?  how long has it been since you last read the Bible cover to cover?  

maybe you never have read the whole Bible.  no worries, now can be the time!  i would love to know if you would join me in this challenge for this next year, or whatever time frame you decide to challenge yourself to.  some of you may be able to go for the 90 day challenge.  i have heard it coined b90x.  haha.  i think doing it in a year with reading 3-4 chapters a day is do-able for anyone.  nowadays, we can even read our Bible chapters on our cell phones.  talk about a great thing to do while waiting in line at the grocery store.   maybe you would want to listen to it on cd, like i am, so that you can use that wasted driving time for something that will make your spirit man come alive on the inside.

leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  let me know if you too want to tackle getting re-familiar with the whole Word of God and we will do this together.  

join me on this journey!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

simple woman's daybook 8.25.10

i liked this idea so much last week, that i am going to use it again this week!
for today:

outside my my front yard.  i am definitely staying in here right now because it is over 110 degrees!  oh, and i already taxi'd my kids back and forth and back and forth for a couple hours today, so inside is sounding really nice right now.

i am thinking... how to establish a good new routine now that school is in full swing.  this new schedule with a newborn is going to take some getting used to for me.

i am thankful for... sleep.  i do not get enough of it these days.

from the learning rooms... still crocheting!  well, after taking out the hat i started last week 2 times, i think i finally have it looking how i want it to look... though not quite finished.  i am excited for how it will turn out.  did i mention i want to make a dozen of these for christmas gifts?  i am over-ambitious, aren't i?

from the kitchen...i am making capellini pomodoro tonight - fresh tomatoes and basil from our 1st garden with fresh parmesan cheese, olive oil, and angel hair.  it is one of our summertime favorites around here.

i am wearing...shorts!  with it being 110 i can't even imagine wearing pants.  it makes me feel claustrophobic just thinking about that thick of clothing.

i am schedules.  i think i need to write something down so life doesn't feel so overwhelming as it does right now.  my old schedule just doesn't work anymore with school, so out with the old and in with the new.

i am going... on a date tonight with my hubby!  a dear friend from our watch of the Lord team volunteered to watch our older 3 boys... for free!  i am paying her in the form of a great dinner and lots of gratitude. :)

i am reading...  the Bible all the way through again, cover to cover.  i used to read the Bible once a year and am way out of the habit.  that means that oftentimes i am not drawn to reading certain books like acts or romans, so they are left untouched for a couple years (gasp!) while other books like psalms, proverbs, the gospels, the books encompassing the life of david, etc are read over and over and over again. 

i am really encounter to Lord in a fresh way by diving into this review of the whole sum of His written Word.  i am anticipation fresh revelation and a new hunger for the Word.

i am hearing...the whole Bible.  yep, you read it correctly - i am going to both read and listen to the whole Bible.  both bill and my mom gave us a set of cd's of the Bible read aloud in different versions.  i figured to maximize the use of the time i am driving back and forth across town, i would listen to the Bible and probably make it through that way a lot faster than i will reading it.  i am already a 3rd of the way through genesis just from driving today, and it wasn't on the whole time.

around the house... i am staring at a pile of clean clothes on the couch.  it will take some time to get back into a workable routine to keep up around here...  and with 6 family members, we have endless laundry.
one of my favorite things... is getting comments on my blog posts.  anyone who blogs will probably agree that you put time and thought into writing, then press "publish post" and wonder if anyone does in fact read what you put out there for all the world to see.  i wonder sometimes what people connect with, what their thoughts and perspectives are on the subject i wrote on, and what they are thinking about in general.  i am always excited when i get an email that i have a blog comment.  i try to comment back as much as possible.  it also reminds me to try to leave comments on blogs i read, though sometimes i don't have a free hand to comment but just free eyes to read.   

a few plans for the rest of the week: well, first things first is getting through this first week of school.  here are a couple pictures of the world's cutest boys on their first days of school.  i hope to have the energy to go to another watch prayer meeting this week as well, but we will see.

cutest 1st grader ever

cutest pre-kindergartener ever


Sunday, August 22, 2010

reading for today

here is a psalm i have been meditating on lately.  i hope it speaks to you today like it has spoken to me this week.   (bold print added by me)

psalm 50 
a psalm of asaph. 

the Mighty One, God, the Lord, has spoken, 
and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
out of zion, the perfection of beauty, 
God has shone forth. 
may our God come and not keep silence
fire devours before Him, 
and it is very tempestuous around Him.
He summons the heavens above
and the earth, to judge His people:  
"gather My godly ones to Me,  
those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice."  
and the heavens declare His righteousness
for God Himself is judge

"hear, O My people, and I will speak; 
o israel, I will testify against you; 
I am God, your God.
"I do not reprove you for your sacrifices, 
and your burnt offerings are continually before Me.  
"I shall take no young bull out of your house 
nor male goats out of your folds.
"for every beast of the forest is Mine, 
the cattle on a thousand hills.
"I know every bird of the mountains, 
and everything that moves in the field is Mine.
"if I were hungry I would not tell you, 
for the world is Mine, and all it contains.
"shall I eat the flesh of bulls 
or drink the blood of male goats?  
"offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving  
and pay your vows to the Most High;  
call upon Me in the day of trouble;  
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." 

but to the wicked God says, 
"what right have you to tell of My statutes 
and to take My covenant in your mouth?  
"for you hate discipline, 
and you cast My words behind you.  
"when you see a thief, you are pleased with him, 
and you associate with adulterers.
"you let your mouth loose in evil  
and your tongue frames deceit. 
"you sit and speak against your brother;  
you slander your own mother's son. 
"these things you have done and I kept silence;  
you thought that I was just like you
I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.
"now consider this, you who forget God, 
or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver.

"he who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me;  
and to him who orders his way aright 
I shall show the salvation of God."

i hope to be counted as one of the first group, not as one of the second.  cultivate a heart of humility and thankfulness within me, o God.  teach me to love Your discipline and control what comes out of my mouth.  You alone are judge.  i desire to value Your judgments.  may you find me faithful in the end.  i desire Your salvation.  i desire to honor You.


Friday, August 20, 2010

a summer full of fruit


this summer has been full of picking fruit.  
we found a u-pick orchard that unfortunately is closing after this year.
the good thing is we utilized it to the max this year.

we picked bright juicy cherries.

even someone like me who doesn't particularly like cherries cannot deny 
their beautiful deep red allure.

a big bucketful was exactly what we picked, considering both the affordability and sweetness of the fruit.  though we could have frozen some, every last cherry was eaten fresh.

do you think he enjoyed tasting any while we were picking?

next came the apricots.  my very favorite in many ways... i have childhood memories of eating them straight off my parents' tree, nice and warmed by the sun.

fully nine months pregnant, i tried to obey my mom's orders to not climb the ladder like i did do weeks before while picking cherries.  but i could not resist the photo op, since our 4th child was too comfortable inside of me instead of keeping me company on the outside.

picking apricots is serious business.  
orders are given and the boys climb to the sweetest fruit.

this one seemed to find his job is enjoying the fruit while we pick.
he took his job very seriously. 

last, came the peaches.  
oh, sweet glorious peaches.  

of course we had to taste test to see the quality of the fruit.

it definitely passed the taste test.

he is in training to be an expert fruit picker.  i put him hard at work at six so hopefully it pays off in abundance when i aspire to freeze and can fruit.  while they are only three of them six and under that eat, 15-20 lbs of fruit is not nearly enough 
to have extras after the fresh fruit eating.  
(did i mention 15-20 lbs of each fruit we picked.  yes, i am serious.)  
i am dreading the day when there are four teenage boys eating at our house.

it was nice that he decided to show up and join us on one of these fruity excursions.  i was starting to think he was staying in my belly as a protest that he could not be a taste tester this year.  no worries baby boy.  you will be joining in all the fun all too soon.

once again, he was more than ready to accomplish his job as the royal taster. 

the owner of the orchard told us that if we left hungry it was our own fault... 
and if we left sick to our stomachs it was also our own fault.  
i think this little guy took him rather seriously.

aw... fresh fruit.  i will miss summer.  i will miss this orchard.
hopefully there is time to go one last time before the season ends. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

a thankful heart

there are times when i get discouraged and overwhelmed by life, just like every single person reading this blog.  there are a handful of things that i like to do to help get me out of my funk and back into a right view of life - two of which are reading the Bible and cultivating a thankful heart.

i have mentioned in the past that i like to read the sermon on the mount (matthew 5-7) when i am struggling particularly with my view of money.  i have written about examples of this here, here, and here.  there is so much in that portion of the Bible that is Jesus' first public sermon that strengthens and encourages my heart.  a regular practice of mine is to read it every week right before i work on our home finances (usually monday mornings).  it does something to get my heart correctly aligned with God's perspective of what is important as well as a correct view of God as my Provider when i may be tempted to strive to make things work for myself.

another tool i use to get my head screwed on straight is telling God all the things i am thankful for that He has done for me.  sometimes this consists of a list in my journal.  sometimes i will sing it at the piano.  other times i will just force myself to put it on my lips out loud while driving or in the shower or in a conversation to someone.  you can tell how discouraged i start out by how general my things i am thankful for start out as and how i start growing in encouragement as i get more and more specific into fine details of provision or blessings i can list off.

here is a list of the things that come to mind right now as i think about what i have to be thankful for as i am wrapping up a very long and tiring day.

my thankful list

1. i have 4 beautiful, healthy, loving children that God has given me.  i always dreamed of being a mommy and having a big family, and i have a big family!

did i mention how thankful i am that simeon is out of my belly instead of still in my belly?  

2. i have a great husband.  he really is a great husband.  we have been married 8 years and he is so helpful and loving he even cleaned up a terrible mess of diarrhea that our 2 year old made at my grandma's for me because he knows how nauseated i get with that kind of stuff.  it has almost been 10 years since we first met, and i can honestly say he is my very best friend i have ever had.

3. God provides for us over and over again in so many different ways.  there have been countless times that we "shouldn't" have made it financially, and yet He comes through for us.  did i mention that we bought an amazing van in cash????  as full-time intercessory missionaries living on support??  it amazes me every time i drive it that it is really ours.

4. friends.  we had great friends come over to visit today with their kids and they treated us to dinner and she, mary, made me the cutest purse and coffee sleeve after already giving me the coolest baby carrier (the one pictured in my previous post), and did i mention she has 3 kids 4 and under and one due in 2 short weeks?  we have the coolest, most thoughtful friends and God has surrounded us with many people just like this family who came to see us today.

5. sleep.  i do not get much these days and i am thankful for any good stretch or even just good quality of any short amount i do get.

6. the community of believers we live among.  we are so amazed constantly about the love that is poured out by other believers and followers of Christ.  with this recent new addition to our family, people have showered us with baby clothes, diapers, money, meals, chocolate, and love.  we have been so blessed to have a refrigerator full of food for several weeks that has been from the abundance of food brought to us either in the form of a meal or as plain old groceries.  this is such a blessing and makes my heart warm and happy to be loved in such a practical way.

that is where i will stop for now.  what are ways that you encourage yourself when you are down?  what are things that come to mind that you are thankful for?  do you have a favorite passage of scripture you turn to when you are down?  i would love for you to share in the comment section and read comments from other readers.  you encourage me with your own stories and insights.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

simple woman's daybook 8.17.10

today i am out of ideas for what to write about, but i do want to write.  i am taking this idea to start a simple woman's daybook for the days that i am simply uninspired, but that i do want to blog.  maybe these topic starters will ignite some inspiration for me.  anyways, read on.  it is short and sweet.  maybe you will learn a few things about me that you do not yet know.  maybe you will also be inspired to do one of your own.

for today:

outside my window... is sun and blue skies... only 80 degrees right now at 9:30 in the morning.  it will get much hotter.

i am thinking...about what to blog about.  since i don't have a lot of concrete thoughts right now, i thought doing a simple woman's daybook would be fun to try.

i am thankful for... my kids.  my husband.  my simple life that is full of the simple pleasures.

from the learning rooms... i am teaching myself how to crochet for the first time.  i made a hat that is a fun first project, but turned out a tad too big for my head.

from the kitchen... we have been blessed with lots of friends bringing meals after having our 4th baby.  i am figuring out creative ways to use up the leftover chicken.

i am wearing... still in jammies at 9:30.  hey, i have a newborn.

i am creating... home crocheted hats.  i hope to make one for each of my kids for christmas gifts.

i am going... not too far this morning.  i have a meeting here at the house and then piano lessons this afternoon.  we do have homegroup tonight.

i am reading... the psalms.  

i am hoping... for a better night sleep tonight.

i am hearing... the pitter patter, or maybe stomp stomp, of little feet running on the hardwood floors in our house.

around the house... trying to catch up from having a new baby.  is there ever really a time that a house is caught up on?

one of my favorite things... the smiles of my one month old.  

a few plans for the rest of the week: my mother-in-law is coming up from guatemala for a visit and to meet her new grandson, but shhhhhhh!  it is a surprise for the kids.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

the waiting place

be still.

i am not by nature someone who knows how to rest.  by rest i do not mean sleep because anyone who knows me very well knows i love sleep.  i actually mean rest in two different ways:  ceasing from constant activity and waiting on the Lord.

constant activity

i have the underlying need to be in constant activity.  i am very driven by nature and, though some may describe it as a positive trait, i have found that oftentimes it leans towards the side of striving.  i live off of "to do" lists as not a means of keeping myself on task as much as limiting the tasks that i try to accomplish in a 24 hour period of time.  if i do not give myself a stopping place, i will not stop but be looking at all that hasn't been finished even when it is completely unrealistic to finish.  by writing things down i have found a way to limit the constant chatter in my brain telling me to do this and do that... causing me to start one task and be distracted by the next so that i start countless things at the same time thinking that i am "multi-tasking," when in reality i am not getting anything finished very well.

i also have a difficult time waiting on the Lord whether that is in the midst of being active or being still.  i often think of "the waiting place" from dr. seuss's book oh the places you'll go, and how everyone is just waiting.

the waiting place...
...for people just waiting.
waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a yes or no
or waiting for their hair to grow.  
everyone is just waiting.

waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle jake
or a pot to boil, or a better break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or another chance.
everyone is just waiting.

i do not like to wait.  i am a very impatient person, though i am one of those crazies that actually prays for patience.  i am determined to perfect patience in my lifetime, and so i press into it though it has definitely never come naturally.

waiting on the Lord

there are times when we are called to wait on the Lord to move on our behalf.  there are times when we are called to be still.  this morning i felt the Lord speaking to my heart that i was entering into a season when i am to learn on a deeper level what it is to be still and wait on Him.  i am not sure what that will look like or what the end result will be, but i feel Him whispering, cease striving.  be still.  know I AM God.  know I AM in control.  let me be exalted in your life.

i love how the new american standard version words psalms 46:10-11.  though it is in context a psalm about the last days, i feel the Lord presently speaking to me personally the same message at the end of the psalm:

"cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of jacob is our stronghold. selah.

be still.  cease striving.  stop your constant activity that really is just a grasp for control of your life.  let Me be exalted.

has the Lord been speaking this to anyone else in this season?  i would love for anyone to share in the comments section your experience with learning to wait on the Lord and cease striving.  i gain so much from the insights you all share... as the title of my blog, at the gate called beautiful, we are all called to share what we have to give.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


fyi... any apparent lack of continuity is due to being a mother of 4 boys who apparently do not know what it means to give mama a couple consecutive minutes to blog and keep the same train of thought. 

one of the things that has keep me occupied this summer has been my garden.  (as if being pregnant and then having a baby doesn't keep one busy enough)  i have had such a high learning curve, but i have learned so much and been blessed to get both great experience and great reward in food for the dinner table from this new venture of mine.  i think i am hooked for life!  i thought i enjoyed flowers, but do i ever enjoy the type of gardening i can eat.


these are the gems i mostly got into gardening for... tomatoes!  i love the other vegetables and herbs i have had the opportunity to grow, but when i think of a summer garden the first thing to make my mouth water is the thought of a sweet juicy tomato.  don't you think these look pretty good for being my first try at tomatoes?  i am impressed myself... i think their beauty is half the work of God and half due to the gorgeous heirloom varieties my friend john gave me as small plants to start my first garden.

back to eden

gardening this summer has made me think a lot about God and how He created the very first garden.  i have thought about what it must have been like for adam to tend the garden of eden (genesis 2:15).  can you imagine what it would be like to tend to the plants of the earth without the nuisance of pests eating the plants or the fruit?  in eden, the soil would be the perfect balance with no lack.  it wouldn't need any fertilizer.  there would be no blossom end rot on the tomatoes because of lack of calcium in the soil because the soil would have plenty of calcium.  the sun would be just the right heat and there would be plenty of shade from the foliage, so nothing would be scorched by the sun.  there would be no weeds!  can you even imagine no weeds?!  there wouldn't be rain nor the need of watering with overprocessed tap water... but water would come from the river in the garden making the ideal growing conditions.  there would be an abundance of bees to pollinate the flowers to produce the most fruit.  the fruit would be huge and in abundance (not to mention completely organic)!   oh, how i would love to garden there!!

it wasn't until adam sinned against God that gardening because the challenge that it is today for gardeners.  due to adam's rebellion against God, the ground that he worked became cursed to be hard and difficult:

cursed is the ground because of you; 
in toil you will eat of it 
all the days of your life.
"both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; 
and you will eat the plants of the field
by the sweat of your face 
you will eat bread, 
till you return to the ground, 
because from it you were taken; 
for you are dust, 
and to dust you shall return."
genesis 3:17-19 

man was always meant to garden (work), but it wasn't always meant to be difficult with the disappointments that can often come with it.  i know i have had my own share of disappointments this year in my first attempt at vegetable gardening.  i planted twenty pepper plants, both hot and sweet peppers, only to end up with two  that barely survived the cutworms, the strange weather this year, and have yet to even be fruitful at all.  bummer.

i was excited to pick my carrots, as i was told that carrots were easy to grow as a beginner.  my carrots were puny!  i wish i had a picture to show how skinny and short they were.  they weren't even big enough to eat as baby carrots.  bummer.


we have a hope, however, that our work won't always be a mix of reward and toil.  Jesus promised that when He returned to the planet to set up His eternal kingdom that He would make all things new. (revelation 21:5)  in romans 8, paul says that all creation groans and waits to be set free from the corruption and curse it was put under.  there will be a day when the Son of Man is ruling on the earth and we will see with our own eyes the fruitfulness of the original garden.  we were created to work, but not originally meant for the toil and disappointment.  in that day we will get all the rewards of our gardening without any of the disappointments that sin brought upon the ground.

and we will get a bountiful harvest of tomatoes.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

a quiver full

my life is currently consumed with a new little one who captures my heart, as well as the three others sweet ones that seems so big and so old and so much so growing up too quickly.  here is a peak into what consumes my current days...

this is my oldest son, the one who first made me a mom, who seems so much older now that he is missing a tooth!  truth be known, i cried when he first told me it was loose.  he asked me yesterday after he pulled it out if i would please play the tooth fairy for him.  i told him the tooth fairy can only afford $1.  he said, the tooth fairy isn't real mom.  i said, i can only afford $1, and proceeded to list off his friends who get $1 a tooth to solidify my case.  he was satisfied.  when i look at my new little one, he reminds me the most of my oldest when he was a baby and i often experience deja vu.  i can't bear to think that it really does go by that quickly.

this little guy lights up my world.  i guess it goes with his name - the Lord is my light.  i love to see his tenderness towards our new baby and his eagerness to be a big helper right now.  he has been newly labeled my "laundry boy" as he can sort, start, switch out, and bring in laundry for me.  and he loves it. (it was his idea)  i will probably cry when he starts school in just a couple weeks.  if he wasn't so eager and excited, i would keep him home forever.  i will miss having his cute face to look at all day.  he has always been a mama's boy.

my green eyed child - the one kid that has my color eyes.   he was born to be a big brother.  he affectionately refers to his little brother as "my baby," and i think he is serious in his intent to not share him with anyone.  i am so happy that he has transitioned well.  no one can make me laugh as much as he can, besides maybe his daddy.  he is forever telling me knock knock jokes, each one with the same punch line of you don't have to cry about it, it is just a joke.  it will be a sad day when he learns a different one.  he is forever my beloved son in whom i am well pleased.

and this is my new little one.  when i look at him i am reminded all over again what it is to be a mommy for the first time.  his eyes melt me.  his lips are so kissable.  he is happiest when snuggling as close as humanly possible to his mama.  as he is my fourth, i am so much less in a hurry to know who he will be or to see him achieve each milestone... i just want to soak in every second of who he presently is.  i know each sigh, coo, and cry will only last such a short time and i don't want to miss any of it.

and he has my feet and toes.

behold, children are a gift of the Lord
the fruit of the womb is a reward.
like arrows in the hand of a warrior, 
so are the children of one's youth.
how blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; 
they will not be ashamed 
when they speak with their enemies in the gate. 
psalm 127:3-5
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