Monday, February 28, 2011

Love and Lists

I'm a list making gal. I thrive on organization (especially if I'm the one doing the organizing). When there is a schedule to be made, a budget to be drawn up, an organizational chart to be thought out--then I'm in my element. I feel most secure monetarily the few weeks after my husband and I have revisited the budget (even if revisiting means tightening up considerably). I feel most "pulled together" after making a new schedule and sticking with it for a few days.

While this characteristic of mine has been quite helpful over the years, it has proved to be a hindrance as well. If there is a problem my knee-jerk reaction is to make out a 10 step solution to fix it. This works GREAT when the problem is a disorganized home, schedule or budget. It isn't so great when it comes to relationships--especially my relationship with God.

My tendency, spiritually, is to turn everything into a list. I'm having trouble forgiving somebody? Here's a 7 step solution for getting past that. I'm not memorizing scripture? Here's selected passage, complete with schedule and projected date of finish. I don't pray enough? Here's a framed list on the kitchen wall of some Bible prayers. Need a closer relationship with God? Here's a 10 step solution to a closer relationship.

Now, don't get me wrong, not all lists are bad. Certainly not!! Prayer lists, for example, are very encouraging and very Biblical!! God wants us to record, in literal pen-to-paper form, His mighty works in our lives and prayer lists are perfect for that. The problem isn't with the lists, the problem is the heart attitude behind the list.

When I make a list for a spiritual purpose, my tendency is to make a list with my own abilities in mind. Then, in my own strength, I march right down the list, often neglecting to consult God in either the making or the accomplishing of said items. This is not good in general, but is particularly bad when the whole point of the list is to bring me closer to the One I'm not bothering to consult.

A prime example of this is the 1000 gift project I've started. I can see that the 1000 gift project speaks directly to a need in my life. This is something God has given me to do, and I'm not planning on stopping when I reach 1000. I need to be observing God's works in my life, big and little (especially the little) and I need to be writing those things down so I remember them.

The problem in this case isn't that I'm making a list, but that I put the list on a schedule. I said I was going to write 10 of these gifts down each day. That shouldn't be hard, right? God gives us oodles of gifts each day. But I don't want to just write down things to make my scheduled list goal, if I didn't truly see them and appreciated the love of the One who gave me the gift. That isn't developing a relationship with God, that's proving that Sophie's Schedules Work. I don't need to prove they work--I need a closer relationship with my Savior.

Right now I'm finding that my "grateful eyes" are so weak that I'm only noticing, really noticing, 2-4 gifts a day. But those gifts are special, lovely, beautiful moments with my Savior--full of meaning and grace. Down the road, as I exercise my grateful eyes and they become stronger and clearer, I hope God will give me the grace to truly appreciate more than a couple of His grace-Gifts each day. But even if I don't start seeing more than I am now, I'm still seeing way more of His gifts than I did before I started purposefully looking for them. And that is a good place to be.


21. Spirituals plucked on harp strings
22. Wild Child windblown hair
23. A soft comfy chair in a coffee shop
24. 50's love songs, sung personally
25. two doves, cuddled on a tree branch
26. beautiful fresh rain
27. found keys
28. walking along a duck pond
29. Cat-sized water rats (the REAL ROUSs)
30. Heart-to-heart sharing with a new sister

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Walk in the Park

Earlier this week my man and I took a walk in the park near our apartment. even though we've had the apartment for nearly 7 months now, we've never actually explored all the outside area. It was time to remedy that. We walked the entire area and let the lovely weather and the beautiful sights sink in. Here are some of the things we saw.



A Mated pair of geese

An interesting rat creature

Who apparently is a WATER rat

The water rats were HUGE, one was about the size of a house-cat--and apparently important enough to get their very own "don't feed the Nutria" sign. I looked them up when I got home and apparently they are from South America, and were introduced to the states by fur traders/ranchers as their fur is very nice. Of course, it was only after the fact that it was discovered that the aquatic creatures have burrowing and feeding habits that run a pretty high toll on the land they live on. And they are difficult to get rid of. Oh, well. Live and learn, right? Such an interesting world we live in.

My man and me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

168 Hours: You have More Time than You Think



I choose this book on the recommendation of Crystal Payne, over at Money Saving Mom. I know I haven't been managing my time as well as I should, but with all the things I have going on I've struggled with what to cut. There just isn't a whole lot of flex time in my schedule. The only exception is (some) evenings, but having my hubby home automatically blocks out that time.

168 Hours is the perfect book to read when your schedule, like mine, just seems too full to do anything with. In it, Laura Vanderkam encourages us to view our time through the lens of a week (168 hours) rather than a day (24 hours). Her argument is that while it may not always be possible to fit everything important to us in a single day, it IS possible to fit it into a week, provided dedication and creativity are used.

Laura shows how we need to focus our energy into things that are "core competencies" and delegate as many non-core competencies as possible. A core-competency is something that either only you can do, or that you can do better than anyone else. An example of the former is exercise--only you can exercise your body. That cannot be delegated. An example of the latter is while other people could raise your children, you will do it best.  Exercise and child-rearing are both "core-competencies."

Step-by-step Laura encourages us to first find out what we are spending our time on. Second, she encourages us to determine what we WANT to spend our time on, and to be certain that the bulk of our time is spent on our core-competencies (increasing both out enjoyment and our effectiveness). Thirdly she encourages us to radically cut things that aren't core-competencies, to make a schedule, and to stick to it even when it's difficult.

There were several things that I took away from this book.

The first thing that really effected the way I think of life were the chapters on work, and specifically some questions at the end of chapter Three. After the first few pages of section on work I seriously considered skipping it. There is zero mobility in my job field. No matter what I do I won't make "supervisor" as a babysitter or caretaker. There are few pay raises in my field--and little job-security.  Questions like, "does my job tap into intrinsic motivations (things I loved as  a kid or would do for free)?" have absolutely nothing to do with my motivations to work. I started my job before I was married to pay my bills, and while my husband has given me the option to stay home full-time whenever I like I am choosing to maintain them because the income helps tremendously with savings and gives us extra "play money."

But then as I was reading I realized that my job is NOT a caretaker OR a babysitter. My job is a help-meet. I do those other things because I am a help-meet to my husband. When I allowed myself to think of my job as a helper to my husband as being an actual job, those chapters on work suddenly became much more applicable. I realized that even if I could choose another job, "switch fields" as it were, I wouldn't. Being a housewife is exactly what I've always wanted to be. It allows me the freedom to do things I want to do, to creatively meet needs, to artistically decorate my house, to cook delicious and beautiful meals, and to joyfully meet the needs of my husband. Almost everything I've ever enjoyed in life can reasonably fall under the umbrella of being a housewife. And that was a good realization to have.

The second thing I got out of the book is that my love for learning hasn't abated a bit in the last few years. On several different occasions Laura challenged me to consider what I want to do in the time I have, if I were starting with a clean slate of time. There were many different things on my list, but repeatedly I wanted to learn. Laura challenged me to look at my schedule, do a bit of rearranging, and make at least one or two of those items happen each year. I haven't made the final selection, but I have realized that even in this new stage of life it is important for me to continue actively expanding my horizons. We'll see how that shapes up in the coming months.

The final thing I got out of the book is that I need to make every minute count. Everyone has moments in their day that are "odd moments out." They come while you're waiting on someone to pick you up, between jobs, or had something unexpectedly canceled. These moments happen daily, and are often frittered away on things that are neither productive or enjoyable. Laura encouraged me to make a list of both things that bring me joy (more enjoyment than sitting in front of the TV) and a "list of 100 things I'd like to do in my life." With those in mind, I was to write down three things that could be done in 10 minute segments and three things that could be done in 30 minute segments. That way I can redeem the typically wasted time.

Final verdict? An EXCELLENT book. So good, in fact, that this is the only book on my reading list so far that my hubby has decided to read as well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend away

As  I mentioned in my last post, my man decided to surprise me with a trip. I managed to wheedle out of him that we were headed to a B&B, but that was all he would divulge. We both tend prefer an air of mystery when it comes to giving gifts to each other.

How was the weekend, you ask?

Lovely.

I've had a "thing" for Bed and Breakfasts for several years now. They fascinate me. I love looking at them, I've imagined owning one, and I've always wanted to stay in one. A B&B combines the best of all worlds. Like colors? Do each room in a different one!! Like various time periods? Pick a few and decorate away! Like a particular time period? Make the whole house a theme! A B&B is free for interpretation--it's keeper is limited only by her imagination!

Even better, most B&Bs have some sort of history. For example, the man who built this house had six sons and one daughter. The sons had fallen into disfavor because they light something on fire in a closet (I don't remember if it was accidental or otherwise).  As a result, they got put on Closet Probation. Only two bedrooms in the house had a closet--the daughters room and the parents room. Also, because there was only one daughter she got some special treatment. When her father was making the plans for the house she'd just finished reading Romeo and Juliet, and so she asked her father to make her a balcony like Juliet's balcony.  He obliged (as you can see in the picture).



As you can imagine, I enjoyed the stay tremendously. As much as I enjoyed poking around the 100 year old house (and the collected ancient books and antiques), I enjoyed breakfast even more. We ate with the two other couples staying there, and even though we came from different places and stages of life, had a very enjoyable conversation. Provided I'm with my husband (he's the conversationalist, I'm the one who enjoys listening) I love meeting new people.

After checking in Friday evening and hearing the stories about the house I was feeling nostalgic. So when my man asked what I wanted for dinner I told him I was in the mood for all American burgers and shakes. He said he knew just the place. What I didn't mention was that I was picturing us sitting together at a tall table in an old corner drug store, sipping on a shake (one shake. Two straws, two cherries), complete with saddle back shoes and a poodle skirt.

Tell him that or not, that's precisely what he gave me (well, minus the saddleback shoes and poodle skirt).


Is my man awesome or what? *grins happily*

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend plans and Buffalo Wings

This week we have had a weeklong celebration of several events that are significant to The Gentleman Adventurer and me. Monday, of course, was Valentines Day. To avoid the hordes we decided to eat in, so I made my man a yummy meal (and learned how to prepare shrimp).

Our Valentines Decorations, and the heart chain I made


Tuesday was the 2 year anniversary of our being together. That was a significant milestone for both of us, particularly as well over half that time was spent without the bonding aspects of marriage. Two years of commitment--two years of togetherness--what a blessing!!



Wednesday was a smaller, but still significant date--the "five month" anniversary of our wedding. I've tried to give Richard something special for each month-anniversary this year, I love occasions and don't need other people to make them up for me. I didn't give it enough forethought this time, though, so I skipped this month. But we HAVE spent a lot of time together this week and I now have two brilliant ideas for the next couple months. So I guess it isn't so bad. :-P



This coming weekend is when we are "officially" celebrating each of those dates. My beloved has planned a special weekend for us, and all he'll divulge is that it involves a Victorian Bed and Breakfast. As I've had a fascination the past two years with Victorian Bed and Breakfasts (something my husband didn't know till my delighted reaction) and have never been to one, I'm excited!!



To kick off our weekend celebration I looked up a recipe for Buffalo Wings. While I like Buffalo wings, they aren't at the top of my "Awesome Sauce" list. But they are pretty high on The Gentleman Adventurer's list, especially if there is blue cheese dressing. Here is the recipe I used, from this website.


Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Preparation:

Instructions for Buffalo wings.
Sprinkle chicken wings with salt and pepper. Heat oil in deep fryer to 370°. Fry wings in batches until crispy and cooked, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; keep warm. In a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in hot sauce and vinegar. Pour over wings and toss to coat wings thoroughly. Serve Buffalo wings with the Blue Cheese Dip.

*I edited the butter coating for this recipe to our taste. The Gentleman Adventurer prefers things hot, so I cut back on the hot-sauce by a tablespoon and added a chopped jalapeno.  I prefer things mild, so I melted the butter for mine and added a couple tsp from my man's hot mixture. This  gave it a tensy amount of spice, just right for me.

Blue Cheese Dip
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients; chill for an hour or two. Serve as a dip for the Buffalo wings. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of blue cheese dip.

Overall I liked this recipe. It was very tasty, easy to make spicy and mild, and didn't take too long to make. Next time I'll half the blue cheese dip recipe, as we had WAY more than we needed. My man usually gives the final verdict on foods, and he liked this recipe too.  REALLY liked it.

"Dear, I think yours are BETTER than Buffalo Wild Wings!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1000 gifts

11. Silky clean hair
12. Being alone with my man
13. Dinner for two
14. Anniversaries
15. Wind playing in hair
16. Baby skin, pink and new
17. Juicy grapes that pop in my mouth
18. The sound of friend's voices
19. Pyramid of geese flying together
20. Playful Man grins

A Sane Womans Guide to Raising a Large Family, Mary Ostyn


I must admit, A Sane Woman's Guide was almost an afterthought. I'd planned to get Large Family Logistics, but it was a bit on the expensive side. A Sane Woman's Guide was on the same topic and more in my price range. Regardless of which book, I wasn't due to read it till next month. It's a March book, because I had enough books to read this month without another one.  But, for a certifiable BookWorm blessed with a good 10 hours of reading time a week (sometimes more), limitations aren't always reasonable. So I started reading it anyway. And I'm so glad I did!!

 Mary has a way of expressing her ideas that is both thought provoking and fun to read. As I went through the pages I found myself nodding along thinking, "Oh, that makes sense." Sometimes her solutions to common problems were pretty wild (like walling off part of their living room to make a new bedroom when one was needed) but they were always creative.

Actually, Creativity is probably the main benefit of this book--particularly to women who are already have children. Women who have children probably have already thought of solutions for a lot of the daily challenges that come up, but Mary will have some new ideas for you to consider as well.

As a newlywed, the main benifit of this book was that it stretched my mind about what is possible. As the oldest of four, I come from a medium sized family. Mom ran a tight ship as we were growing up, but with just four of us some of the extreme solutions just weren't necessary. For example, we didn't have any trouble fitting the six in our family around the dinner table. My husband, on the other hand, comes from a family of 10, which means they DID have to come up with some creative solutions for the size issue. Several times I found myself reading a paragraph to him out of the book, "Wow! What a great idea! What do you think about doing this someday?" He'd laugh and say, "Actually, that's how my parents did it all along."

All in all, this was a fun, enjoyable book to read. It was worthwhile to read pre-children just to get my mind thinking in that direction, and I have every intention of reading it again someday when it is more immediately applicable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1000 gifts, a beginning

This is the first of my 1000 Gifts posts. At this point I'm planning on posting these  every day, if for some reason that changes I'll make note of it. I'd like to write a bit more about this, but it is our anniversary and my hubby is waiting. :-)

1. Sun reflected diamond light in my lap.
2. White cotton bandages, fresh and soft.
3. Lotion on dry feet.
4. Thick powder sugar snow.
5. young fingers on piano keys.
6. Sweet 16 giggles
7. the spring breeze caressing my cheek
8. the rustle of dry winter grass
9. Birdsong in the early morning
10. Bright colors on coloring pages

February 15, 2009

Today is my husband and my 2 year anniversary of being together. Valentines was special, but for us the 15th of February is a much bigger deal than the 14th. In honor of our two year anniversary, here is a re-post from Whispers of Love.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Laughter.

She looked around the room. The bedroom wasn't large, and this afternoon it was bursting at the seams as four girls prepared for a banquet. It wasn't just any banquet either, it was their church's very first annual Valentines  Banquet. It was for adults only, so for some of the younger ladies it was their first.

Smiles.

She wondered how many of those girls could see through her smile to the heartache underneath. She had been told before that her face
was like an open book,expressive and easy to read. 
For one evening she hoped she could keep that book shut.
For one evening she had to be what everyone thought she was. 
For one evening the mask must not come off.

Giggles.

She glanced at the corner of her bedroom with the full length mirror. The other girls were clustered around it putting the final touches on their hair and makeup--checking the overall effect of their dresses. 
Quietly she tucked a card into her purse. 
Then the call came--it was time to leave for the banquet. 
Her secret was still safe.

Beauty.

As she walked into the church she reached a delicate hand up to adjust the pearl circlet that crowned her long curls. Her dress, handmade for this occasion,  fluttered gracefully around her ankles. It was pink and white--simple, elegant. The kind of dress little girls dream of wearing when they become a princess and their knight comes to
carry them away on his noble steed.

Dreams.

Every stitch on that dress was a dream, 
a promise of the future, a step of faith. 
Or was it faith? 
That knowing she'd had for the last year 
that she wouldn't be alone much longer? 
Or that instinctive understanding she'd had 
for over two months that tonight was to be the big night? 
And that her knight had actually been disguised as her dearest friend?

Promise.

How had she known? 
Achingly, painfully, she went over the memories 
that had brought her such joy and hope just days ago.
She had been so sure. So very sure.
Though it had never been spoken, 
the message had seemed so clear from him and his family, 
Even her bible reading had shouted the same message. 
She was loved
She was wanted
And he was coming soon.

Wrong.

But all that was past now. 
Twice now she'd had it confirmed that her knight wasn't coming after all. 
Twice now she'd come to understand that he wasn't the one, after all. 
Twice now she'd discovered that somehow, somewhere, 
 she'd made a terrible, horrible mistake. 
How could she have been so foolish? 
She was loved...
as a friend. 
She was wanted...
as a friend.

Broken.

The dress of dreams seemed to mock her as she turned toward the banquet hall. She smiled as she greeted her friends, but inside she was discovering the agony of brokenness. In her purse was a card, secretly, joyfully written to her knight in times of hope, to give to him when he asked her hand. She wasn't sure why she had brought it. 
Maybe, as long as she had it, she could cling to hope. 
Maybe, as long as she had it she could
pretend her heart hadn't shattered. 
Maybe.

Silence.

As the speaker took the platform she waited silently. Silent. That's what she had been for nearly three months. Silent over the fears. Silent over the excitements. Silent over the joys. Now she was silent over the pain. But that was fine. This particular burden she wanted to carry alone. 
She needed their joy more than their comfort. 
She wanted to hear their laughter.

Request.

The speaker continued on, but she couldn't hear. The Lord was asking for her. He wanted her dreams, her hopes, her joys. He'd taken them away, but he wanted her to give them willingly. 
He wanted to be her prince, her knight. He wanted her trust. 
He wanted her to feel the joy over Him that she had felt over him.

Surrender.

Silently, as always, the battle was over. The dress of dreams wrapped around her as she gave her dreams away. Softly, quietly, her Lord took the gift she gave. Softly, quietly, he promised the gift wouldn't be in vain. Softly, quietly, he bid her... 
Listen... Wait.... Trust.

Entrance.


She looked up as the speaker introduced a guest. The side door opened. It was a knight, the gold of his armor glinted in the light as he stepped in from the night. In his gauntleted hands he carried a dozen roses. Startled whispers began as instead of taking the podium the mystery knight crossed the room and stopped in front of her.

Proclamation.


She looked up at him, amazed, confused, stunned. He gestured for her. Dreamlike she stood. He removed his helmet, revealing to all the identity she already knew. 
Boldly, bravely, in front of all the witnesses he proclaimed his love for her. 
Boldly, bravely, he gave her his heart. 
Boldly, bravely, he asked for hers.

Joy

Joy reflected off the diamonds in his hand. 
Joy streamed down as she answered. 
Joy filled the room with applause. 
Joy covered her face as she realized... 
She WAS loved. 
She WAS wanted. 
Memory returned and the dress of dreams rippled as she bent down to take the card of acceptance, of faith, of hope from her purse. Love in her eyes she looked up at him and quietly put the gift in his hands.

"It's for you. I wrote this letter for you." 

Valentine dinner

 My hubby and I decided to eat in for Valentines Day and eat out for our two year anniversary. I really enjoyed making dinner for him. Shrimp. Fish. Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Icecream. Ahhh.... Lovely.






Monday, February 14, 2011

Misc

It's been longer than I like since I posted here--I do try for a several times a week but sometimes that doesn't quite happen.

Because it is February, the month of love, I've been focusing more of my attention on my other blog, Whispers of Love, which is devoted to courtship, love, and marriage. Appropriate time for that, no? I've started listing 100 reason I love my husband, in addition to a couple more installments on my own love story. Tomorrow is the two year anniversary of when my husband proposed, and I have something special written up about that event. I'm looking forward to sharing it!

I have good plans for Love Lifted Me as well. I mentioned not to long ago that I would be starting a project to list 1000 gifts. This project was originally inspired by Ann Voscamp of A Holy Experience, and her book One Thousand Gifts. When I decided to do the project I hadn't read the book yet. I'm on the last few chapters now, and I have one descriptve word for it.

Wow.

It is intense, and exciting, and deep and convicting all rolled up into one book.  I'll save further summary of it for the soon-coming book report. 

As our two year anniversary (of being together) is the day after Valentines day, I'll be starting that project tomorrow. What a wonderful time to start numbering the gifts that my savior has so graciously given me!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Challenge Progress

Reading Challenge 2011



Today I found out that Chantel, of "Life, Love and Little Things" is hosting a reading challenge. I'm already doing everything on my own, so I thought I'd join in.

Here is a recap of my reading goals:

January
The Five Love Languages By Gary Chapman
168 Hours: You have More Time Than You Think By Laura Vandercam
Daughters of Islam by Miriam Adeney

February
Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy
The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
A Thousand Shall Fall by Susi Hasel Mundy


As you can see, I am pretty much on track for January. I finished and reported on both Daughters of Islam and The Five Love Languages.

I haven't finished 168 hours, because one of the early chapters required spending a week cataloging EVERY MINUTE of the day. I could have decided to do that and read at the same time, but this year I've determined not to rush through books. Particularly books that could have an impact on how I live my life. So, I did exactly as required, put the book on the shelf, and spent a week taking meticulous notes.

The result?

First, I was pleasantly surprised by how much time my husband and I spend together. Other than that  I found a few areas for improvement, but I was pretty on target with how I'm spending my time. Secondly, the week off from reading that book gave me oodles of reading time that had to be filled. So.... I started four more books. Which is why 168 hours still isn't done.

Currently I'm reading:
The Respect Dare, Wrestling Prayer, A Thousand Gifts, and A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, by Mary Ostyn (substituted for Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman, a March assignment, for no better reason than it is cheaper, on the same topic, and has just as many positive reviews)

Usually I read one book at a time--my reading vice is reading individual books too fast, not reading too many at once. But of the 5 books I have going right now, 3 are studies (meaning a few pages or a chapter each day). The 4th book, A Thousand Gifts, isn't an actual study... but the reading is deep. I can't read a lot of it all at once. In fact, I started a "Sane Woman's Guide" so I'd have something I could pick up when I needed a lighthearted, educational-but-fun book to read!

My goals for the remainder of the month are to finish the books I'm on right now (obviously!) and to actually attempt Artisan Bread (I've read the book, but I don't think a person can count a cookbook as being "read" until AFTER they've tried at least one of the recipes).

I'll check back in in about a month to let you know how I did. In the meantime, stay tuned for book reviews! :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snow Day

My hubby and I were snowed in this past week. Absolutely amazing weather for Texas. I haven't ventured out much, but here are some pictures I took when I did.



Anyone care for a swim? Oh, wait. The pool is frozen over. Maybe not...

No one out tanning themselves today...


Walking in a winter Wonderland

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Radical

Sometimes God when God speaks He whispers in the ear so quietly it can hardly be heard. Other times when God speaks he seems to shout.

Right now I'm in one of those shouting times. It seems like God is giving me one message right now--that I need to lay everything aside and be wholly, completely, entirely His.

He started whispering through Ann, who's online home I found a few weeks ago. Her writings challenged me to make my home a house of prayer, to transform all things into beauty. Her writings continue to challenge me through her book, A Thousand Gifts, newly published. 

The God whispering got louder when I started Wrestling Prayer, by Eric and Leslie Ludy. What does it take to have a relationship with God? What must one do? What is prayer and how should we pray?

And then my mom recommended the book Radical to me. I knew I wouldn't be able to give it the attention it needed in book format. I am reading four books right now--Radical was a book that needed singular focus. But I looked it up on Amazon.  And I found out that the book started as a sermon series by David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills. A Sermon series I can do--I listen while I do my housework. And God's whisper is no longer a whisper.

I've realized something in the last couple weeks--something that stopped me dead in my tracks. Something that I'd never thought of before.

I realized that it doesn't cost me anything to follow Christ. Nothing. In fact, I would loose more by NOT following Christ than I do by following him. If I were to decide today not to be a Christian I would loose...

My family...

my husband...

my friends...

my social status...

my security...

I'd loose EVERYTHING.

Which leaves me asking the question--who do I really love? Christ? Or what I get from Him?