Saturday, February 28, 2015

Things I Learned in February

It's that time again...I apparently can't manage to put up any other kind of content on my blog, even a weekly gratitude list...but I will at least share some tidbits I learned this month, in conjunction with Chatting at the Sky:

1. Nashville's hockey team is pretty good, and when they win, I can get free coffee! 
A friend clued me in on this Dunkin' Donuts promotion, and I've taken advantage of it two or three times already. If you download the DD app and turn on location services, then when you're in the greater Nashville area, you get a coupon for a free medium coffee the day after a Predators win. Suddenly I am a hockey fan!

2. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the 50th anniversary of our nation's birth, only five hours apart. 
This was my final piece of interesting trivia from the John Adams miniseries Steve and I have been watching. I had to look it up after the final episode because it seemed too ridiculously melodramatic--but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! Sure enough, both our second and third presidents died on July 4, 1826.

3. The Voice of the Martyrs has an app to help you pray for the persecuted church.
OF COURSE there's an app for that. I've been connected to and more committed to caring for the persecuted church in the past, but I confess that over the last few years, I have been lacking in attention and compassion toward my suffering brothers and sisters. After a recent conversation in which I mentioned VOM's magazine to a friend, she gave me the heads-up on this app. I love that it gives you one simple prayer request each day--not at all overwhelming, as this sort of thing can easily be--and you can also click over to get basic information about the country.

4. You should always turn on "private browsing mode" when shopping for a plane ticket. 
When you search for a particular route more than once, the airfare may increase based on the cookies in your Internet browser--the website wants to scare you into booking before prices go up even more. Whoa! This link gives you instructions for how to search incognito, as well as several other tips for finding the cheapest possible flight for your next trip.

5. You can download audio versions of the entire Bible in several translations for FREE.
I know the YouVersion app provides streaming of audio Bibles, but when wifi isn't available, this is a great resource. I found out about it through Margaret Feinberg's website, where I also found a simple plan for going through the gospels during Lent. I have not listened to the Bible very much like this, so I'm using the ESV Audio Bible for this Lent plan.

How about you--what did you learn this month?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Multitude Monday, Take 342

Whew...I've gotten out of the gratitude habit lately. And it shows, if I'm honest. A little catching up with some January Instagrams and gifts I've enjoyed over the last few weeks: thanking God for...

6994. texting daily with my mom
6995. the BUT GODs of the Bible

6996. encouragement and affirmation from Steve
6997. the opportunity to host a going away part for this lovely friend

6998. her example of hard work, trust in the Lord, generosity, joy in hard circumstances, passion to help people and glorify God
6999. a house full of laughter, tears, food, hugs, chatter, love
7000. the privilege of knowing these beautiful women

7001. hearing stories about how they have loved and served each other
7002. Elijah patiently helping Jude build his new Lego dragon (E's Christmas gift to J)
7003. Downton Abbey with Steve
7004. the fact that I don't live in Gilded Age Britain with its ridiculous rules and caste system
7005. Lauren Winner's lovely words

7006. Ohio State's national football championship
7007. the ability to watch the game online for free
7008. dinnertime prayers for Christmas card families
7009. "Christ Jesus has made me His own" (Phil 3:12)

7010. Elephant and Piggie at the Nashville Children's Theatre
7011. the boys' delight and giggles
7012. song lyrics that inspire hope (download the song free!)
7013. seeing my brothers and sisters fight for hope and joy
7014. the way that renewed my own will to fight

7015. the new Lego table Steve built for the boys

7016. friends who hear my heart and love me, quirks and flaws and all
7017. reminders that He is The God Who Sees Me
7018. my friend Ana (pictured above) restoring this antique quilt my great-grandmother made

7019. gorgeous early morning after a light snowfall
7020. a Saturday morning prayer gathering for women of our church
7021. a surprise lunch with Diane, exactly when I needed it

7022. awareness of my own vulnerability to sin
7023. a husband who cares for me, protects me, respects me
7024. his gently helping me see different perspectives, cautioning me against judging and jumping to conclusions
7025. his never saying "I told you so"
7026. our pastors' patient wisdom and loving shepherding

7027. the Simeon Trust online course I have just started
7028. bi-weekly meetings with a dear friend who's going through it with me
7029. Jude retelling the parable of the unmerciful servant with amazing recall--hilarious and precious
7030. the boys' wonderful Sunday school teachers
7031. a Costco trip and lunch with a friend

7032. the ridiculous abundance and variety of food available to us
7033. grace to ask for help
7034. Elijah's readiness and ability to read chapter books
7035. poetry
7036. new friends around our dinner table

7037. the journal that gets sent back and forth between me and two dear college friends--showing up in my mailbox for a happy Saturday surprise

7038. the privilege of being a means of God's provision to others
7039. our pastor's amazing preaching of Jesus in Exodus 33
7040. the Mediator who went "outside the camp" to restore God's presence not only among us, but IN us
7041. a wonderful friend who doesn't merely sympathize but urges me to FIGHT
7042. twelve years with Steve (yesterday was the anniversary of our first date)


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Things I Learned in January

It's that time again--looking back on the silly/fascinating/trivial/profound things I learned in the last month, inspired by Chatting at the Sky

1. Home is here. In Tennessee. And there is a limit to the amount of time I can spend away from it.
I realized after our Christmas break trip to Ohio that I'm less and less inclined to call our trips north "going home" and more and more likely to say simply "going to Ohio." It used to be called "going home" both ways (which could be more than a little confusing). I'm not sure if my parents' move two years ago sealed the deal, or if time has just finally accumulated enough (we've been here almost a decade now), or what. But "home" isn't quite so much both places anymore; the scale has tipped in favor of HERE--Tennessee--the church and school and work and friends and life that we've established, that God has provided, in the mid-South.

In many ways I still hate being away; I wish grandparents were closer, wish we could know our nieces and nephew better, wish cousins got to play together all the time (wish we had free babysitting convenient and close). I felt the pull over Christmas break: I don't get to do any of the hosting; we don't get to spend any of the time off from work just hanging out with friends here. But...I am thankful that my life with Steve in Tennessee feels most like home.

2. Cello pens do not have an unlimited shelf life.
I stocked up on my favorite ballpoint pens long ago, and I still have a couple of packages in a box labeled "office supplies" upstairs. When I needed a blue pen recently and dug one out of the box, it wrote like crap. I tossed it out and retrieved another. Same story. I threw out probably half a dozen blue pens after attempting to write with them, finding the ink incredibly scratchy and prone to run out in the middle of a word. Back to Big Lots I go (for only a single package this time).

3. Coffee doesn't need as much sugar when it is really creamy. 
*cough* leftoverheavywhippingcream *cough*

4. I like my eggs fried crispy. 
I am just not a huge egg fan. My boys eat them scrambled/fried pretty much every day of the week, sometimes green and sometimes topped with cheese...honestly, I'd barf if I had to eat them every day that way. But my new favorite preparation method has made me more interested in plain eggs for breakfast again.

5. When hosting a 6:30PM party, be sure to clarify for your guests that no, they should NOT eat dinner before they come.
I hosted a going-away party this month for about 20 guests. I meant to tell them all that we'd have plenty of food, so they shouldn't eat ahead of time, but I kept forgetting. As it turned out, many of them weren't sure whether we'd be having dinner or just light snacks, so they ate before they came and I ended up with a ton of leftover food.

6. The day before Ash Wednesday is called Shrove Tuesday. 
I knew that "Mardi Gras" was French for "Fat Tuesday," but I'd never heard the term "Shrove Tuesday" before reading it in Lauren Winner's (excellent) book Still. The word "shrove" comes from a word meaning "confess." Interestingly/inexplicably, Shrove Tuesday is also widely known as Pancake Day, celebrated in many countries by eating pancakes.

7.The U.S. did not have a president from 1783-1789. 
During this period, the country was governed by the Articles of Confederation (before the Constitution had been written), and apparently the founding fathers were so afraid of returning to tyrannical rule that they did not even want to have an executive branch at all. Instead, the U.S. was ruled by Congress alone. Did I learn this in history class and just forget? I don't know--it came up during the John Adams miniseries Steve and I have yet to finish. I did some googling after the math for when he was president just wasn't adding up.

8. Strep throat symptoms are not always what you would expect. 
Elijah had his first-ever bout with strep last week, and it wasn't like I remember from my own childhood infections. His throat wasn't really on fire--it just hurt a little--and he randomly vomited once. The pediatrician said both of those things are very common. I was also surprised to learn that Jude was less likely to catch it; it's more prevalent in school-age kids, less for the youngest ones. The doc was right; Jude and the rest of us stayed healthy.

What did you learn in January?