Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bible Verse 5

I enjoyed memorizing last week's verse so much that I wanted to do another one similar to it. Memorizing a verse that perfectly outlines the point of a verse-memorizing challenge was pretty powerful to me this week, and each time I said my chosen verse, I remembered the reason I wanted to do this challenge in the first place. I want that same feeling with my verse for this week, so I went to the same chapter as last's week verse and found this one.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." ~ Psalm 119:105 KJV

I want God's will for my life to shine through my own desires. I want His word to guide me during this week, for the rest of the year, and throughout my whole life. I want the verses I read and study and memorize to light up the path that God wants me to follow, the path He has chosen especially for me.

Picked from What Christians Want to and my own searching

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A clean dishwasher & the start of a simpler life

While I was living in Korea last year I started reading some blogs on cleaning with fewer cleaning products, and ones that are more environmentally friendly. I was hooked on the idea. But I was also in the middle of Korea (not sure why that mattered, actually, since we did have access to many grocery stores, but it seemed to matter at the time...) and living in an apartment that was already well-stocked with cleaning supplies when we moved in.

When we finally moved into our new apartment in Maine in December I was excited to finally try out the ideas I'd gleaned over the past year. But when I opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink I found out that it, too, was already stocked with myriad cleaners, ones I had hoped I would never need to use again. A true German at heart, I sadly thought to myself that I would have to wait until I'd used up all those cleaners so they wouldn't go to waste, before I could try out the new ideas.
The resident cleaners
Fortunately, a week or two ago I suddenly realized that I can just leave all those cleaners right where I found them, ignore that whole side of the cabinet completely, and just go ahead and clean my house the way I want to. So today was the first day I actually stepped up and tried cleaning with my new arsenal of cleaning products: baking soda and vinegar.

Apparently the last renter left without cleaning the dishwasher. Dried-on food particles covered the inside of the door, and I felt slightly ill every time we opened the dishwasher to put our dishes in. I've never had my own dishwasher before and I've certainly never cleaned one before today, so I (loosely) followed the directions on my favourite cleaning blog, Imperfect Homemaking.* (I basically just did steps 4, 8 & 10, but at one point I did get a little bit crazy and dug out a Q-tip to clean around the screws in the door...) Since the author said to use vinegar, I tried that first. When a vinegar-soaked rag didn't remove the food particles, I went to my trusty mother for additional advice. Soon I was back at the dishwasher with my large box of baking soda. A generous helping of the powder and a few minutes of covering it with a damp rag did what vinegar could not handle. With some elbow grease and my new best friend, baking soda, those dried-on pieces came off like magic! I almost felt like a successful hunter/gatherer when I gazed at the completely white door! :)
All clean! (Umm, I forgot to take a 'before' picture, but I really
don't think anyone would have wanted to see it anyway...)
The dried-on food was my biggest worry, so by that stage, I almost didn't feel like step 10 was necessary, but I tried it out anyway. I poured some vinegar in the detergent trap and placed a small bowl filled with vinegar sitting in the top rack, turned on the dishwasher and let the machine do the rest of the work. I can't really tell if the vinegar wash did all that much (the rest of the dishwasher looked pretty clean, it was really just the door that needed major help), but I can tell you that after the cycle finished, the dishwasher did not smell a bit like vinegar, to my husband's relief (he's not so much a fan of the stuff).

So I'm here to tell you that at least one item in my house has successfully been cleaned with baking soda and vinegar! I'll keep you updated as I move throughout the rest of the house in the coming weeks and months. For now, I'm pretty impressed! Sorry all you bottles and packages of cleaners sitting in your little home under the kitchen sink. I might not have a use for you anymore!

*Check out her dishwasher in the first picture on that post. Does it not look identical to ours??

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cookie making

So my mum makes the most amazing chocolate chip cookies! Yeah, I know everyone thinks their mum makes the best cookies, but I'm not the only one who thinks my mum's cookies are amazing.* When my sister and I moved into an off-campus apartment our last year at Southern, we tried quite a few times to make these cookies, but something just never turned out right (we have decided to chalk it up to the elevation differences from BC to TN). The cookies usually turned out good enough to eat, but not really much better than that.

So last Sunday I was finally feeling settled enough to try out some baking. I had the ingredients for the cookies, and decided to try my hand at making them again to see if they'd turn out any better in Maine than they did in Tennessee. They did quite a bit better until the stage where you're supposed to make the dough into little balls and put them on the pan to bake. At that stage the dough was just so sticky that I asked Jonathan to pour some more flour into the bowl. After mixing that in with my hands, the dough seemed better, but it was still too sticky to form into balls. Jonathan suggested that we just pour all the batter into the pan, and after one more try with the flour, I finally agreed. So we made something closer to brownies than to cookies. They didn't look the same as my mum's cookies do, but they tasted great! All in all, I think it was much more successful than Bryn's and my attempts at Southern. I might even try it again sometime, but Mum, you'd better come visit and show me your secret!

Ingredients and dough
Ready for the oven
Time to eat!
All photos courtesy of Jonathan.

*My friend, Jodi, and I had a high-school-long arrangement with a classmate, Londell, in which we were supposed to go back and forth between baking my mum's cookies for each other any time either of us lost bets about grades, test scores, sports, or any number of other school-related things. Somehow it turned out that Jodi and I usually ended up making the cookies for Londell and never the other way around, until our graduation night where he produced two heaping platefuls of cookies and presented them to us to make up for all those other times throughout the years.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Birth day

I don't usually write about my birthday on my blog, but I'm going to make an exception this year. This morning, as I was getting ready for church, I suddenly realized that this year my birthday, January 25, fell on the same day of the week as the one on which I was born. So Friday at 7:38 p.m. PT was exactly 28 years since the moment I came into this world, same day of the week and everything! Pretty cool, eh? :)

My cousin, grandma, and mum helping me blow out my candles on my first birthday*
(Apparently I was scared of fire or candles or something back then...)
Twenty-seven years later (not afraid of candles anymore!)

*Sorry, I didn't have any pictures of newborn Ali on hand for this post, so you get to see 1-year-old Ali instead.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bible Verse 4

This past week I was wondering how to best find really good, meaningful verses to memorize if I can't come up with any on my own. I decided to type 'good verses to memorize' into Google and see what it came up with. The search results found lots of sites to give me some help, and while browsing the top two sites I found more verses than I'll be able to memorize throughout the year. So, on weeks when a verse doesn't just come to me, I'll look at those sites and find a verse to memorize. That's how I found my fourth verse.

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." ~ Psalm 119:11 KJV

I love this verse, especially in the context of 52 Weeks 52 Verses, because that's the essence of why I'm doing this challenge. I want to hide God's word in my heart so I can recall the verses I need to remember when I'm in trying circumstances. So that instead of looking verses up in my Bible or relying on tools like concordances or online Bibles I can recall them straight from my heart. And, most importantly, so that I can grow closer to God each day!

Picked from What Christians Want to

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My spiritual gift

Throughout my life, and especially throughout my teens and 20s, I've been searching for my spiritual gifts, the place that I uniquely fit into God's work in the church and in my community. Many people have told me that my spiritual gift is music. I've been playing violin since I was 4 and started piano when I was 9. My younger sister and brother and I often played for special music in our home church and also in many churches throughout the valley. As we grew and matured, both mentally and in musical ability, we began to appreciate these opportunities more and even enjoyed coming up with fun and interesting arrangements to share. Even so, I never felt like playing music was one of my spiritual gifts. Other people told me that writing was my spiritual gift. That seemed quite possible, since I do really enjoy writing and sharing with others in that way. But was it really a spiritual gift? Did my writing actually help my church? I didn't really know.

Today, though, it finally hit me. I was thinking about a Skype conversation I'd had with my friend Kezia last week. I met Kezia while we were volunteers at a baby home in Tanzania two years ago. I had mentioned to her that I'd had the opportunity to meet another former volunteer at a youth conference over New Year's. The other volunteer had mentioned to me that my comments on her blog had really encouraged her during her time overseas last year. When I relayed that story to Kezia, she told me that on her latest visit to Tanzania this past summer, three of the volunteers who were still there had said similar things about my comments to them on their blogs or on Facebook. I was surprised. It was such a little thing I had done. Just read their blogs - which I did eagerly to find out how the babies and children that I loved were doing - and left comments every once in awhile. Not even on every post, but just every so often, when I had something to say. I've been thinking about this exchange for the past week and today it came to me as I was tidying up the bathroom. My spiritual gift could be, might be, is (?) encouragement to others.

Maybe God has given me the gift of listening to others, empathizing with them or for their situation, and responding in ways that give them encouragement. Could it be this simple? Typing a short note on Facebook, writing a quick e-mail, leaving a comment on somebody's blog, doesn't feel like much to me. But maybe, just maybe, it feels like a lot to them. I pondered this for awhile this afternoon, and right in the middle of my pondering I saw that my mum had posted a few new blog posts on our church blog. The last one shocked me. A message straight into my heart. A message to love, care for, and encourage other people. I don't think for one minute that all these occurrences this past week and month were pure happenstance. I think God's been working, slowly nudging me to realize that maybe my words count, that my words matter, that my words can make a difference for people around me. Maybe my spiritual gift is music, maybe it's writing, maybe it's encouragement. Or maybe it's a combination of all three, a perfect blend that God created and has always intended just for me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bible Verse 3

This past week was a 'down' week for me. I didn't do very well at keeping up with studying the lesson quarterly and therefore never found a verse to memorize from the lesson. But God was good and threw a verse into my lap on Sabbath during the Sabbath School lesson study time. Somehow, throughout the discussion about the end of the creation week, the topic of God giving us what we need came up and someone in the class read a verse from Philippians 4. I liked the verse and continued reading on in the chapter as most everyone else in the class shut their Bibles and the discussion continued. And then I arrived at Philippians 4:19 and, yes, again I already know this verse, but it just struck me as one I need to focus on and think about more in my day to day life. So it's become my verse for week 3.

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:19 NKJV

The past few weeks Jonathan and I have been looking around the Bangor area (and the internet) searching for some more storage space for our apartment. Our kitchen, with just one small wall of base and wall cabinets, most desperately needs storage space. After looking on countless websites and visiting numerous stores, we thought we'd found the answer in a large pantry cabinet from Lowe's. However, upon bringing it home, lugging the heavy package up the snowy outside stairs to our apartment, and opening the box, we found that the cabinet was quite flimsy with just a thin back and would need to be screwed to the walls. Not quite what we had expected and not something we wanted to do to a kitchen that isn't ours. So we packed it all back up in the box and returned it a couple days later. We still don't have what we need for our kitchen, but today we cleaned up the back bedroom (currently our storage area) and managed to fit most of the canned and bulk food into a cabinet that was left in there when the previous renters moved out. It's not the perfect solution, we're still looking for something better, but it works, and I have no doubt that God will give us what a better solution right when we need it most.

Found during the Youth/Collegiate Sabbath School class at Bangor SDA Church | Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bible Verse 2

"For it is the God who commands light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV


As I was reading through the Sabbath School lesson for the second week of January, I looked up this verse and was struck by the words. These simply put, but powerful words plunged straight from my Bible's pages into my heart. That the God of the universe, the One who can command light to shine wherever he wants it, can also shine straight into my heart is amazing! Even with all the cloudy weather we've been having here in this part of Maine this week, this text stuck with me and gave me sunshine in my soul.

Picked from the SDA Sabbath School Quarterly | Lesson 2: Creation: Forming the World | Thursday, January 10

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bible Verse 1

52 Verses in 52 Weeks. My mum and my grandparents did it last year, and I'll be joining them this year.

Last night I wrote about my New Year's Resolutions, and as I wrote, I realized that with such a huge list the only way I can keep myself accountable is to document my resolutions here. Maybe not all of them, but some of them. And this is one I can document on my blog. So this year I will be writing 52 blog posts about the verses I memorize each week. I know that because my thoughts about resolutions for 2013 hadn't jelled yet when the year began I'll have to play a bit of catch up. So, this week I will memorize two verses, next week two more, and then one a week for the rest of the year.

I want to mention that if you feel so inclined, you're more than welcome to join me as I memorize 52 verses this year. You don't have to document your Bible verses on your blog or on Facebook or anywhere online. You can document them in a notebook or even just document them in your heart and mind. But if you want to join me, and you want to share the verses you choose in an online venue, I would really enjoy the partnership and encouragement, the sharing and learning that it could foster. If you decide to do this challenge with me, please let me know so we can be in this together.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." ~ Hebrews 11:1 & 3 NKJV

I have long known Hebrews 11:1, if not completely by memory than at least by near-memory from hearing it many times over, being quoted or in scripture readings and sermons. But Hebrews 11:3, only two verses later, is not one we hear so often. I spotted it during my study of the first lesson of this year, looked it up in my Bible, and lingered over the words, reading verse 1 then jumping to verse 3 and back again and seeing how beautifully they fit together. How often do I miss precious verses by just a few sentences? I fear it happens all too frequently. I hope that throughout this year God will lead me to some of those verses. The beautiful, powerful ones that are sometimes buried just a little deeper than I usually think to dig.

Picked from the SDA Sabbath School Quarterly | Lesson 1: Jesus, Creator of Heaven and Earth | Sunday, December 30

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year

This Christmas season was such a blessing. Being home again with so many family members and friends was wonderful! I'm so glad it worked out for Jonathan and me to spend this Christmas in BC with my side of the family, many of whom I haven't spent Christmas with for several years.

I will write some update posts about our Christmas vacation soon, but tonight I wanted to write a post focusing on the New Year. I'm not really one for making lots of New Year's Resolutions. Some years I do, most years I don't, and the years that I do I end up not keeping them for much more than a few weeks. But this year I want to make some resolutions, and I want to make ones that I will keep. So I'm giving myself some leniency in the resolutions that I make. I don't want to make them so rigid that if I miss a day, I will be off of the routine for the rest of the year and end up not keeping them throughout 2013. So I've been thinking about ways I can make subtle, but lasting changes in my life. And I've come up with several that I think will work. I may add some as I come up with more. I may even realize that some of them aren't as important as I thought they were in the first couple week of this new year, but I want to make a real effort to keep as many of them as I can.

Since I've just recently returned from the Generation of Youth for Christ conference, many of my New Year's Resolutions are spiritual. These are the ones I most want to keep this year. I hope you will encourage me and help to keep me accountable to these resolutions as we move from month to month. Thank you in advance for your support!

  • Spend more quality time with Jonathan - we've decided to write down 24 fun things to do together this year, and twice a month we will pick an activity and spend time doing it together
  • Be more intentional to communicate with the people I love in their love language
  • Find ways to give more thanks, encouragement, and appreciation to people
  • Look for local organizations where I could volunteer and meet new people
  • Get rid of blogs (not friends' blogs, but ones of random people I've collected over the past few years) that take my time away from my family members and friends

  • Read from my devotional every morning
  • Do the quarterly lesson study daily
  • Read a chapter a day of Ellen White's Conflict of the Ages series (About two years ago my mum and grandparents learned that if you read a chapter a day in the CotA series, you will finish all five books by sometime in mid-October, I believe. This will even leave time to read through Steps to Christ as well, I think, or at least give some lenience for a few missed days here or there.)
  • Daily read the corresponding Bible passages to each chapter in the series
  • Memorize a Bible verse a week (for starters)
  • Be more intentional in counting/writing down my blessings
  • Start to prayer journal again
  • Join a Bible study
  • Give more, either financially (might be tricky at the moment, but God can bless even a small gift) or of myself or my time

  • Walk, hike, or ride my bike more often (maybe we'll start it off at two or three times a week and raise that number as I improve)
  • Be more open to playing/doing sports that Jonathan enjoys (because as much as I hate to admit it, reading probably isn't a sport...)
  • Explore Maine and the surrounding regions either on foot, bike, or car (but try for the first two as much as possible)

  • Be a more consistent blogger
  • Write more, and look for places to have that writing seen and read by others
  • Work on actually posting the pictures that I take again, either on my blog or Facebook
  • Start looking for possible writing/editing jobs, either in the area or online
  • Look for ways that I can use my creative gifts to raise money for worthy organizations