Follow-Through…Finishing….Closing the Door

Sports have been a big part of my life as far back as i could remember – more watched than played, but still a big part.  For the middle part of my life, my dad was a baseball coach.  I remember when he would have camps for the little league kids during the summer and one of the fundamental lessons he would teach would be follow-through.  When you swing the bat to hit the ball, follow through.  When you catch the fly ball and throw it back, follow through.  When you’re trying to beat the throw to first, run through the bag (follow through).  The follow-through on the action is what adds the power to the action.  That is why a line drive off a major leaguer’s bat can break a guy’s neck!  It’s not about muscle strength or force.  Strong muscles and exerted force aren’t what allow golfers to drive balls “miles” down a fairway, it’s the follow-through.

Too bad we don’t get follow-through lessons in other things in our lives.  Or in other words lessons on how to finish.

I’m at the end of the pregnant phase of my life, and I’ve learned that I’m pretty terrible at finishing.  I have a stack of started crafts that prove my point.  I have rooms in my house that are 95% clean that add to the evidence.  Now, I’m not expecting my house to be “magazine worthy” clean – I live here, Ken lives here, we have a dog – I know better than to expect that level of clean.  But it’s the pile of opened mail that I know just needs to be sorted through (trash, act, or file).  Or the stack of fast food cups that sit on the counter beside the trash can that should have just gone in the trash can the first time they were handled.  Or the clothes that are laid over the chair that don’t get put up – since they’re not in the floor, they’re really not in the way (translation: I won’t fall over them on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night).

And cleaning house isn’t the only place we’ve failed to learn the lesson of follow-through (it’s just the first example this nesting preggo things of).  People also fail to follow through with their money.  You say you’re going to get out of debt, you even pay off credit cards, but then what do you do?  Is the account still open?  Is it still attached to your SirShopsAlot account?  Is the card still in your wallet?  Well, you made the promise to yourself that you’d set a limit and make sure you budget enough money to pay it off each month so you don’t accrue interest, that’s enough right?  How’s that working for you (as Dr. Phil would say)?  And speaking of budgets – what does your budget look like?  Is it on paper?  Has everyone who has access to the money agreed to it and understands the consequences of not following it?  You might have a written budget plan and it’s even hanging on the fridge for everyone to see, but where is your money really going?

Yes, follow-through seems to falter in the areas of our life where self-discipline (and self-motivation) is required.  Cleaning, money, health, relationships – all require us to work.  But that’s not the only areas follow-through needs occur.  So many opportunities present themselves throughout our daily lives – they sometimes walk right up to us, look us in the eyes, and jump in our hands.  Opportunities for new relationships, new experiences – learning more, doing more, living life more, sometimes even earning more.  And what do we do with them?  The business card goes in that “black hole” pocket of the wallet; the napkin with the phone number ends up disintegrated in the washing machine; the email or text message goes unanswered.  I wonder what we’re all missing out on?

This blog itself has been a lesson to me on following through with things.  I started this blog on 8/9/12 in Evernote on my iPad.  Something interrupted me in the middle of typing it (I really don’t remember what – went to lunch….got a phone call… had to pee) and when I finally got another minute to work on it, my excuse for finishing it was “I lost my flow of thoughts”.  Thus, in Evernote and (in my psyche) it sat – until today.

When I think about the condition of my psyche, it makes me think of Alice in Wonderland.  Alice walks into this room – it’s a round room, with doors of all sizes encircling her.  How does she get out of this room?  Most of the doors are locked.  In the end, she has to eat the cake on the table that makes her shrink so she can fit through the unlocked door.  But what if all the doors were unlocked?  That’s how I believe my psyche works – just like Alice’s room of doors where I can go through any of the doors I choose, and as long as I don’t let the door close behind me, i can come back to my room of doors and pick a different door on a different day.  The problem is that nothing ever gets completed which leads to me frantically running from one unfinished task to another (and not truly finishing any of them thanks to this thing call entropy – aka the chaos that ensues when you’re not applying energy to the situation) and then leads to the walls of my room being so full of opened doors that there’s no room for anything new in my life, that finally results me being stressed, frustrated, unhappy, and unable to relax in my own house.  What kind of life is that – especially since we’ll have a new baby around?!

Step one: yesterday’s to-do list (just ask Ken or my MIL & FIL about it).  Step two: this blog. Time to close some psyche doors, finish some tasks, and follow through on some opportunities.

Prengnacy and the Mother of Jesus

As I’m getting my insides rearranged by this 3-pound “head of cabbage” (that’s how my weekly update describes her size), the strangest thought crossed my mind…

How did Mary feel when she felt baby kicks from Jesus?

I actually had this thought around Easter, but since then I’ve pondered on it a little more.

First of all, she didn’t get the normal human experience of conceiving a baby.  But she still went through the normal human experience of pregnancy – hormone changes, body changes, emotional changes.  So, how did she feel when she felt those first tickles of baby moving around inside her?

I can only try to imagine the toll that cultural isolation had on her – with or without preggo mood swings.  But I can also imagine that once those baby tickles became more regular throughout the months, that she’d have a sense of peace and confidence regarding her position.  I mean, if ever there was someone who got to have physical evidence of their promise coming to pass on a daily basis, it was Mary.  (Sarah would fall into that category, as would Hannah).

The thought I had at Easter was more of what kind of memories did Mary hold on to when Jesus was being crucified.  Did the thought of that little baby kicking inside her and making her belly change shapes come back to her on that day or on the days after?

I have been told by mothers before me that you never forget those first memories of your baby moving around on the inside, and now I believe them (even if her favorite place to play is that nerve on my left hip that makes my leg tingle)!

A Reading Comprehension Lesson from the Bible

Well, I said I would give you an example of how I have used the steps from my last post to better understand scripture and to make it relevant to life.  It hasn’t quite been a month since I posted that, but it’s close and I’m finally getting to the example.

Note: I wanted it to be relatively short 1) for the sake of me typing it all out and 2) so it’s quick and painless for you to follow along in one sitting.  **Shameless plug – I absolutely LOVE YouVersion!  You can find it at and there is a free app available the device of your choosing.  It’s all FREE!  They make no money off of it, therefore I’m certainly not getting anything for promoting it, but it’s a fantastic Bible-reading application that is painless to use and gives you so many translation options at your fingertips!  Ok, that’s over, let’s begin…

Colossians 1:20-23 (KJV)

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.

#1: ID your pronouns – Yep, lots of him’s and he’s and you’s and ye’s.  Let’s find out who’s who.  My first step is usually to go to the amplified version of the verse – that’s my natural tendency because my paper bible is a parallel bible KJV/AMP so I just switch columns on the same page.  I gave Ken a NIV/MSG parallel for his birthday one year and so that makes 4 translations in 2 volumes when I’m in a place to page-flip.  So, start with the version you’re most used to and branch out from there (again, thank you YouVersion!)

Colossians 1:20-23 (AMP)

20  And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross.21  And although you at one time were estranged and alienated from Him and were of hostile attitude of mind in your wicked activities,22  Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence.23  [And this He will do] provided that you continue to stay with and in the faith [in Christ], well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope [which rests on and is inspired by] the glad tidings (the Gospel), which you heard and which has been preached [as being designed for and offered without restrictions] to every person under heaven, and of which [Gospel], I, Paul, became a minister.

See?  Lots less pronouns – and we can see that sometimes “he” is God, and sometimes “he” is Jesus Christ, though there are still some that may be questionable.  I

n verse 20, “all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself” – that’s God, and “the blood of His cross” – that’s Jesus.

In verse 21, “estranged and alienated from Him” – that’s God.

In verse 22, “in the body of His flesh through death” – that’s Jesus.

And in verse 23, “And this He will do” – that’s God.

In most of the letters written to the New Testament churches, “you” definitely refers to the church members, but (whether you like it or not) it can be extrapolated to “you” the present and future Christians who will be reading it.

#2 History – There’s not a lot of cultural history context to this passage but there is “Gospel” history.  This passage actually takes you all the way back to the beginning where we (the human race) became separated from God and throughout the fabric of time, God had a plan to reconcile that separation once and for all.  It also references the detriment of sin, saying that we were of hostile attitude and wicked activity.  It also gives you insight into the purpose of the crucifixion and resurrection – why it had to happen and who played what part.  All things that happened before this letter was written (Remember, Colossians was a letter from Paul to the believers in Colosse [Gentiles]).

#3 Definitions and origins – When doing this with the verses from the amplified, I’ve learned not to get bogged down because a lot of the verses have a built-in thesaurus (that’s why it’s amplified!).  But sometimes the vocabulary still ends up ambiguous, so it’s important to take the thesaurus words and simplify, especially since one of the goals for this process is for you to be able to summarize in your own words.  I’ll be pretty thorough for this example.  (Most of the words I just Googled definitions to, to save time).

Reconcile – restore friendly relations; make compatible.  (Yep!)

Estranged/Alienated – isolated; separated; unwelcome (Yep!)

Faultless/Irreproachable – beyond criticism; without defect or error (aka holy)

The fun one for me in the verse was “the Gospel”.  In the amplified verses it says “glad tidings”, which is the cute way to say “good news”.  We’ve all heard the Gospel referred to as good news before, so that doesn’t add a whole lot of depth to these verses.  I’ve heard and read a lot of people talk about “the Gospel” as being one of 2 things – Salvation (believe in Jesus and go to heaven) or Redemption (salvation from sin plus all the other things that are listed as part of the curse of sin – death, sickness, poverty, etc).  My “eureka!” moment was seeing that all the verses (in this example) before the word “Gospel” even shows up are defining “the Gospel”!!!  So what’s the good news?  That God worked out this plan, by sending Jesus to earth to die, to reconnect all of us back to Him in the same way that Adam was connected to Him before he sinned (and thus reap all the benefits that connection affords).

*Something that I didn’t plug in the first time I did these verses, if you replace the word “faith” in a lot of places with the word “sonship”, things make a lot more sense.  And there’s a whole other exercise (longer than this one) that can help you see that the substitution is not arbitrary, but you’ll have to do that one yourself.

#4 Re-write it

So here’s my own words…

And God made a plan that, through the intervention of His son, all things on Earth and in Heaven should be completely reconnected back to Himself by the means of the blood of the Son’s cross.  And although we were, at one time, disconnected from the Father, now, Christ has reconnected us to God through the death of his faultless body, in order to present us holy and free of defect in the Father’s presence.  And God will do this, provided that your sonship (new attitudes and actions) remains in Christ, and don’t move away from the hope inspired by the reconnection with God, that was designed to be offered without restrictions to every person under Heaven.

So, it’s good news that God worked his plan and by believing it and acting on it, you are reconnected with God in the same way Adam was in the garden, and can reap the benefits of that connection.  And this opportunity is available to anyone on the planet!

What I learned:  Having this understanding of the Gospel (because it’s not just about knowing verses) has changed the way I see and do life.  I had to work on Easter Sunday and it was because I understood these verses in this way (thus the meaning of the Easter/Resurrection celebration) that I could do it without feeling condemned or like I was missing out on a touch from God.  I’ve been reconnected to God, I’m a “son”, I’m not missing out on the benefits from my relationship with Him just because I was sitting in a Walgreens pharmacy rather than a church service!

One other thing: can you imagine seizing the opportunity to talk to someone you know that needs God in their life, and you know that they’ve been Bible-bashed, street-preached to that you’re not sure what new you can tell them?  Can you imagine the response you’d get when you actually talk to people in English, like humans – and instead of always quoting John 3:16 or trying to take them down the Roman Road, you were living out and “continuing in your sonship” (based on what you learned in these verses) and presented them with this Gospel?

What you learned about the Bible in the 1st grade

One of my new pregnancy symptoms turns out to be insomnia.  The past several nights, I’ll wake up to go to the bathroom and then suddenly I’m wide awake!  3 am, really?!  And I usually spend the next 2-3 hrs just awake – no reason at all.  So during these dark hours when NOTHING is going on anywhere, I’ve had some interesting things rolling around in my head.  Some of those things I have found interesting enough that I wanted to share them with you…one at a time, of course.

I remember the complaint a lot of us had regarding what we were taught in school.  “How is that going to help me in the real world?!”  One of the things that I know we all learned during school that is SOOOOO important to our lives in the “real world”, and that I am discovering it is especially in our relationship with God.  READING COMPREHENSION!!

You learn to read as you start school, and learning to read is not just about able to recognize the words on the page that form the sentences.  It’s about understanding what you read, recognizing how the sentence/paragraph/chapter you just read relates to the one you’re presently reading.  Yet somehow, there’s this disconnect when kids/teens/adults read the Bible.  Reading the Bible becomes about memorizing the “catch phrases” (“by his stripes we were healed”, “trust in the Lord with all your heart”, “For God so loved the world…”).  And then actually understanding the Bible requires “revelation from God.”  And guess what?  You will not insult God or remove the “holiness” of the Word if you break down chapters and verses (aka paragraphs and sentences) the same way you did Lord of the Flies in the 11th grade!

So, in case you need a jump start, here’s a few steps that will get you started.

1) Identify your pronouns

– If you start reading a passage and everyone is a “he” and everything is an “it”, then maybe you need to back up a bit to figure out who “he” is and what “it” is.

2) Identify the historical/cultural setting

– Somehow it becomes easy to forget that “bible times” wasn’t a separate time period from other time periods in history.  The people written about in the Bible had to learn to co-exist with the Babylonians and the Egyptians and the Romans – all of which are studied and documented cultures in history.  They weren’t some special breed of Egyptians from another dimension that just interacted with the Israelites, they were the same Egyptian culture that you watch documentaries about on the History Channel.  So, use that knowledge and information to enhance your understanding of scripture.  And the Bible isn’t the only documentation of Mosaic law-based cultures or even early Christian cultures, so learn some history!

3) Identify word origins

– The English language has proved to be a very limited language when it comes to accurate expression of thoughts and concepts.  We are all aware of the example of the word “love” – you’ve got a 1 in 4 chance to get the meaning right when you translate it to Greek.  Look up words, learn their roots.  You might be surprised to find that what teachers and preachers told you a verse meant really isn’t what was intended by the writer.

4) Re-write the passage in your own words using what you learned from completing steps 1-3

– This was probably my least favorite assignment from any Literature class I took.  But is probably the most useful when it comes to testing if you really understood what was being said by the author and what was happening in the story.  So, when it comes to doing this step with the Bible, it does a couple of things for you.  A) It gets all the thee’s and thou’s and heretofore’s out of the way to make it feel more natural B) It increase the remember-ability of the subject at hand for you to be able to summarize and share

I’ve learned that taking this seemingly academic approach to the Bible leads me to one of three places: 1) I learn something about God – his characteristics and his way of thinking.  2) I learn something about my role as a child of God – the characteristics I should have and the way I should be/think.  3) I learn something about my role as a disciple of Christ – the way I should speak and act.  Therefore, this process isn’t about getting brownie points because I read my Bible.  It’s about me taking what I’ve read and learned and evaluating my view of God or my ways of being and thinking or my ways of speaking and acting to see if they line up with what the Word says.

So, if you just want brownie points, keep it up, you’ve probably got more than you can count.  But if you want to know God, understand the Bible and how it applies to you and where you fit in with all of this, then dig in!  You don’t have to sit around and wait on a “zap” from Heaven.

Bandana Apron

This was a sewing project that I started with my MIL last spring….without a pattern!

We got stuck trying to line up the skirt, waistband, and bib so it got put on hold.

So after I got my sewing machine at Christmas, I took on the task of finishing it on my own.

After looking at several apron patterns online, I figured out what needed to be done and finished it!

The skirt is a full bandana with a half-bandana attached as pockets.  Then the bib is just the center of a bandana, while the neck strap and ties are made from the edges of the scraps.  I don’t have any special instructions other than, use your own body as your measuring tool to know how long and wide to make each part to fit you.

Bookmark’s the spot

Here is another simple project for sewing machine beginners.

Ribbon Bookmark

It was very easy and fast to make.

And I learned a little secret about my machine…

It can sew on buttons!!!!

My best tip, if you choose to make your own, is to measure your ribbon on several different sized books to make sure the hairband doesn’t overstretch and that the bookmark will be as versatile as your reading interest.

Where have you been?

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  And I was on a good crafting roll too – what a shame!  My Pinterest is full of things that are just dying to be made and used in my house (or given away as gifts).  And here I am, almost 3 months behind on all the things I had lined up to make and blog about.  Talk about a backlog!

Well, the blog hasn’t missed too much excitement over those months I missed.  My sister and bro-in-law took off to Beijing, China to teach English for a year – that was a pretty big deal.  We got to go and see them off at the airport on Valentine’s Day.  They’re all internet-connected now so we get to catch up with them every so often.

We had a guy quit at work so I’m having to fill in his schedule until they find somebody to fill it permanently – that’s been quite draining, but I think it’s coming to an end pretty soon.

But probably the most exciting thing that happened in my time away was that one of these showed up at my doctor’s appointment…


One of my friends called it our “little gummy bear”.

This would definitely explain why my energy had been a big fat ZERO when it came to crafts and blogging.  I was able to finish off 2 more crafts before the exhaustion set in, but the blogs didn’t make it.  So, those will be the first to be checked off the list.

My last post was January 6 and I went to the doctor on January 16.  So, today (the day this was posted) I am in my 17th week.

So, if you had been wondering where I’ve been…

I have been surviving my first trimester being overworked, hot, tired, and eating lots of popcicles.  Now on to the second, where hopefully the energy bursts will allow me to catch up.

And trust me, this ain’t no April Fool’s joke yo! 🙂