Sunday, January 31, 2010

One Thing: Words and Discipline -- plus a change of plans

I know this is a few days late, but this post includes my daily "One Thing" entries for the last full week of January.  I am amazed that a month has gone by.  Tomorrow is February!

My mom, sister, and I did not take our trip to Missouri this weekend after all, and I have yet to take my Introduction to Computing exam.  My part of the world was covered in ice, snow, wintry mix, and frozen fog!  I had a wonderful weekend anyway.  I will post more about it later, but I will say here that it was nice to spend time with my family and Zachary that I would not have had otherwise.  God's plans don't always match mine, but that is okay, because His are much better, and I am thankful my entire family was kept safe.

  • 22 January: Joseph did not only forgive his brothers, he became their provider.  Don't just "forgive and forget."  Do good for those who mistreat me.
  • 23 January: "Let the words or my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer."
  • 24 January: Be careful of my mental and emotional input and output.  Let God and His good things take over my life -- not "devious talk" or bad teaching.
  • 25 January: Recognizing who Jesus is -- the Son of God and Savior of the world -- does not make me all-knowing.  Be humble and teachable.
  • 26 January: How often do I step in to "fix" an argument when it is not my place to do so?  Remember the story of Moses.  Even when I feel forsaken, God has not forgotten me.  He cared for me before I was even born.
  • 27 January: Let God put the right words in my mouth.  Setbacks do not always indicate disobedience, and it never means God has failed.  His timing and plan may just differ from mine.
  • 28 January: Trust God even when there are no immediate results.  Sin ensnares.  Don't be caught in it.  Instead, appreciate discipline.

This week's scripture readings were from:

Genesis 44:1-Exodus 7:25,
Matthew 14:13-19:12,
Psalm 18:37-23:6,
and Proverbs 4:11-5:23

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    September Outing in Springfield

    Lord willing, I am headed to Missouri this weekend.  My sister and I are combining needs and taking a work/fun trip with my mom.  I need to take an exam on Friday in a town some distance from me, and it just happens to be on the way to the place my sister has an Irish dance competition the next day.  We plan on combining as much fun into our travels as possible. Since fun for me means genealogy, I plan on doing as much family history research as our time restraints will allow.

    I took a similar trip with my mother in September.  It was an exciting and very full trip, but I never posted about it.  I took my Technical Writing Dantes on that trip, and my mom and I drove on to Springfield, Missouri, to attend the Osage Genealogical Society's annual genealogy conference.  My family has some history in Springfield -- back in the mid 1800's -- so I was able to fit in some of my own research.

    Remember the three Gray boys I discovered during my July trip?  I was able to visit the cemetery where they were buried -- with their parents, aunts, and uncles -- and found a slew of relatives I didn't expect -- including my great, great, great, great grandparents John and Elizabeth McCluer.  Pictures below. 

    Gray Uncles: Thaddius, Loneas, and Willie

    The gravestone of my ancestors Dr. William Gale Gray and his wife Caroline McCluer -- the boys' parents.  Also father and mother to Claude (my great, great grandfather), Zeke, and Ethel.

    Field research in the shadow of John and Elizabeth McCluer's tombstone (Caroline's parents)

    Close-ups of their inscriptions

    WARNING: Do not use sidewalk chalk on tombstones.  Use white, soft chalk, and do not do anything that is irreversible or will damage the stones.  Always wash off any chalk you apply before leaving the cemetery.

    These are just a few of the tombstone pictures my mom and I took.  There were many more McCluer and Gray aunts, uncles, and cousins buried in the Hazelwood Cemetery of Springfield, Missouri.

    We attended the genealogy conference that evening and most of the next day -- so informative.  I feel like I learned so much about my hobby and job of genealogy.  There were a few surprises there too.  I expected to be the only person from my town at the conference -- after all, I was in a different state -- but I was wrong.  Two members of my genealogy society were seated in the row directly in front of me during the opening session.  Imagine my surprise on discovering two familiar faces in a roomful of strangers! It was very welcome to have some buddies during the many sessions, as my mother did not attend the conference itself.

    My mom and I stopped by the Springfield/Greene County Library before heading home on Saturday.  Among other things, I found William and Caroline Gray's marriage record on microfilm.

    I was exhausted by the time we pulled out of Springfield and started back on the road home.  I put everything I had into two days of nonstop action: an exam, a cemetery visit, two days of intense genealogy teaching, two library visits -- including eye straining microfilm viewing.  Home had never looked so good by the time Mom and I settled into the car for the drive back.

    And now -- if the weather stays okay and the roads are clear -- I plan to take another trip.  We shall see.  It is in the Lord's hands.

    Saturday, January 23, 2010

    One Thing: The Mouth

    • 15 January: God has promised good things, but fear wants to take us over instead.  Give your troubles to God, and do not fear.
    • 16 January: Consider your words carefully before you speak.  Be kind -- and slow.  Disaster can be avoided and relationships healed.
    • 17 January: To be with the Lord we must be honest in our hearts and honor Him.  Do not be slanderous or argumentative.  Rather, be in a constant state of rededication to the Lord.
    • 18 January: Do what you promise, and do it without delay.
    • 19 January: "I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress."  We get what we are.  If we are righteous and bless God and others, we will be blessed.  If we are sinful, we will reap judgment instead.
    • 20 January: Make priorities based on what is of true value.  Be prudent.  Seek, save, and do not forget wisdom.
    • 21 January: Don't let familiarity blind you to what the Lord is doing.

    This week's scripture readings were from:

    Genesis 31:17-43:34,
    Matthew 10:24-14:12,
    Psalm 13:1-18:36,
    and Proverbs 3:16-4:10

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    In the Kitchen: Chocolate Crackles

    67 Cookies -- much more fun than studying computing. 

    Okay, so I studied some too.  I took a practice test, ordered more school books, and had a call with my CollegePlus! coach.  A productive day... and now I'm off to work.

    The recipe for the Chocolate Crackles came from Martha Stewart's Cookies by... guess who?

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Zachary Pruett: Photographer (and all around great guy)

    Zachary and I go way back.  We were both 11 years old when we first began attending the same homeschool music lessons.  I don't remember him that early though.  We were 12 by the time he made a lasting impression on my mind, and we didn't say more than a few words to each other for a couple years.  Essentially, we never "met", but over the years he went from being "that boy in class" to being my best friend.  Now, he is my sweetheart and my darling.  We entered a courtship on April 11, 2009.

    Zachary is one of the most talented and artistic people I have ever met while being down to earth and full of godly wisdom.  As a youth, he was the one who stirred me up to get serious about my own Bible study, and now, he is still a godly young man with a drive to bless people with the good news of Jesus Christ.  He has always impressed me with his wholesomeness.  Now, Wholesome Works Photography is the name of his new business.  It just started this month, and I am thrilled to see more pictures appear on his site all the time.

    A few of his latest pictures were captured when a light snow fell in our area.  Almost everyone in town missed it -- I was at work and had no knowledge of it until it was over.  Even those who saw the snow did not realize its full beauty.  Zachary did -- and he caught it on film (or I should say -- on his memory card).  Click here and here to see some of his snowflake pictures.  God's creation is marvelous beyond all description!

    I thank the Lord for Zachary, and I know you will be blessed with his photos almost as much as I am.  Take a look at his blog at and his website at

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    One Thing: Generational Faults -- Generational Faith

    This week was more complex than the more straightforward account of last week where we read about the creation, the fall of man, the flood, etc.  God has promised not to flood the entire earth again, and men and woman are learning to trust God to the best of their ability -- and finding out that even a fresh start and a covenant with God didn't fix their sin problem.  We are introduced to people that seem a lot like those we see these days -- maybe even by looking in the mirror.

    There is the man who has faith in God, but he still gets afraid and lies. --Abraham

    The woman who laughs in unbelief when she hears God's good plans for her life. --Sarah

    The man who learns to trust God at a young age, but his family life is a wreck. --Isaac

    The woman who intentionally deceives and manipulates her husband --Rebekah

    The man who is whip smart and dedicated to his work but acts selfishly --Jacob

    The women who bicker together about something as precious as children --Leah and Rachel

    These men and woman were not perfect.  They had their high moments as well as their low moments.  They trusted God, but they also took matters into their own hands.  Sometimes, punishment happened quickly, and we can see the immediate misery their sins caused them.  Other times, their dubious actions seemed to prosper them -- for a time, at least.

    I like to look for the moments of faith in their lives.  They needed God just as much as we do -- not more or less.  We are all sinners in need of God's mercy.  So, we should not be too harsh on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their families; neither should we glamorize them.  We should learn from their lives, appreciate their examples of faith, and be thankful that it is through them that we are blessed.  We should drop to our knees in thanksgiving that we have Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.     

    This week, I picked a few things out to dwell on.

    • 8 January: Treat others the way I want to be treated.
    • 9 January: Keep my testimony fresh; tell others about Jesus and how He is actively working in my life.
    • 10 January: Be kind from the inside out. God will use "little" acts of kindness in big ways if we stay faithful. Let outward actions spring from a kind attitude.
    • 11 January: Never act as though God cannot see my actions. Have the right kind of fear; trust and rely on God. Honor Him and look for wisdom.
    • 12 January: Honor the Lord with my money, belongings, time, and attitude. Give Him the best of everything -- not the leftovers. To me, this means doing my Bible reading when I know I will be the freshest and start only when I have enough time to give the reading thought and prayer. Internalize it, don't just check it off.
    • 13 January: Don't have copycat obedience. Understand the command and do your best to honor the spirit as well as the letter of any instruction. Obey God and let Him be your leader.
    • 14 January: Practice showing godly submission while actively seeking wisdom and purity. God's wisdom is of more value than anything I desire.

    This week's scripture readings were from:

    Genesis 18:16-31:16,
    Matthew 6:25-10:23,
    Psalm 8:1-12:8,
    and Proverbs 2:6-3:15

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    In the Kitchen: Peanut Butter Cookies

    My cousin Michael and I made peanut butter cookies tonight. He was a big help, and it was nice to bake something together. They have a subdued flavor. I guess that is normal, but it has been a long time since I had any. Actually, they reminded me of shortbread cookies with a peanut butter flavor, although my dad told me to think less "shortbread cookie" and more "sugar cookie." The recipe told me to bake them for 25 minutes. I laughed at that since our oven runs hot (very hot!), but I should have known that even 10 minutes was too hot. I ended up baking each batch for only about eight minutes. Family fun!

    Saturday, January 09, 2010

    In the Kitchen: California Macaroni and Cheese

    .My mom received several cookbooks when she got married. One, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking, was a gift from her cousin Carol May. It holds what became one of my mother's favorite recipes: California Macaroni and Cheese. I think she gravitated to it originally on account of her California upbringing, but she made it again and again because of its comforting flavor. It was her dish of choice to bring to families with a new baby or those who had just lost a loved one.

    My dad enjoys shopping for different cheeses, so the dish never tastes exactly like it did the time before. I made the macaroni and cheese this time, and it was made with a mixture of 3 parts pasta, 3 parts cheddar, 2 parts fontina, 2 parts fresh mozzarella, 1 part grana padano, and 1 part asiago.

    Zachary came over this afternoon to play games and have dinner with us after I got off work, so I didn't have time to make the dinner today -- not if I wanted to be with Zachary, my brother, and sister anyway. So, I made the macaroni and cheese last night and baked it tonight. It took much longer to bake than I had anticipated, but it did allow more game time for the boys!

    And, just to prove we take pictures of everything at my house (my mom got a new camera this week), we have pictures of both the well used cookbook and the person photographing the cookbook! My mom took the photos of the food and me, and I got the ones of the book and my mom.

    In the Kitchen: Early Colonial Bread

    Two slices (not shown) did not stay on set
    long enough to appear in this photo shoot. :)

    The King Arthur Flour Early Colonial Bread is made with a mixture of yellow corn meal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, unbleached all-purpose flour (with some unbleached bread flour), and the King Arthur Harvest Grain Blend. Yum! It turned out a fluffy loaf with a nice old fashioned country flavor.

    Friday, January 08, 2010

    A week of ONE THING

    The year is now a week old; so too is the One Thing! Challenge at church. We have dedicated ourselves to reading through the Bible together as a congregation of Christian believers. As I wrote in the intro of my new Bible study journal,

    Our gathering of believers will be on the same page all year; we will read the same passages from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms, and the Proverbs each day of this year. This will enable us to have close fellowship with each other as we share together in God's Word. Most importantly, it will draw each of us closer to God -- our Heavenly Father. I am excited to begin. My church will be learning together. My family will be learning together. Zachary and I will be learning together. God has good plans for 2010.

    So, that was a week ago. What stood out to me from this week's reading? Here are a few of my "one things."

    • 1 January: God's Word is powerful. He created everything with His Word. His Word is just as powerful now. How could I ever doubt Him?
    • 2 January: Excuses never work with God, and He is never caught by surprise. I must obey immediately.
    • 3 January: Satan tried to trick Jesus -- the Word Himself! Satan will try to do the same to us by distorting scripture and tempting us to take it out of context. Know God's Word.
    • 4 January: I can sleep soundly knowing God has given me righteousness and set me apart for Himself. He alone makes me dwell in safety.
    • 5 January: The world's idea of strength differs from God's standard of strength. Focus on being meek, merciful, and peacemaking. That is strength. Listen, trust, obey.
    • 6 January: Do something nice for those who mistreat me or act selfishly. We will have sad and mournful times, but God is the answer. Call out to Him. He will answer.
    • 7 January: God's timing is not mine. I need patience and faith in Him even when something is humanly impossible. "Worship" is not worship if it is done for man instead of God.
    This week's scripture readings were from:

    Genesis 1:1-18:15,
    Matthew 1:1-6:24,
    Psalm 1:1-7:17,
    and Proverbs 1:1-2:5.

    Thursday, January 07, 2010

    Light Bulbs and the Bible

    I have two light bulbs in my room's ceiling light fixture. One of them burned out a couple weeks ago, and I never got around to replacing it. The other one blew out this morning shortly after I woke up. I had a meeting to attend today, so I put off replacing them until I got home in the early afternoon. By that time, I had forgotten about the bad light bulbs. I went up to my room, flicked on the light, and -- nothing happened. My room was still dark.

    No escape now, I went downstairs to get new light bulbs from the cabinet. I took the last two from the package, wrote "light bulbs" on the refrigerator shopping list, and returned upstairs with the light bulbs.

    I was resolved to change my light bulbs. I was carrying light bulbs. I was thinking about light bulbs. Still, when I entered my room -- light bulbs in hand -- I instinctively reached for the light switch.

    Turning on my room's light is a habit for me. I do it automatically. I have turned on my light many times a day, every day, for years. Nothing stops me from trying to turn on my light -- not even burned out bulbs.

    That is the way I want my daily Bible reading to be. I want it to be instinctive. Just like I need light to see in my room, I need God's Word to illuminate my life, draw me closer to God, and help me become more like Christ. That is the purpose of committing to daily Bible reading.

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    Looking Back, Looking Forward

    2010 follows a big year! How can 2009 be outdone? It will remain forever in my memory. My courtship with Zachary began. He is a godly man with strong values, a tender heart, and a fun personality. My relationship with him has been the delight of 2009.

    My schooling has gone well. I have accomplished major milestones I didn’t know how I would get through -- it was only by the Lord's grace that I did. I am now well established in my “junior” phase. In only a few short months I will be a senior, and by this time next year, I should be done with my college studies for good.

    It is the beginning of a new year. So, what are my goals for 2010? After reviewing my first journal entry from last year, I find that my 5 written objectives can be copied and pasted into this year’s journal with very few changes. They focus on spiritual and practical aims that I want to keep in mind as I go through this next year. It is not that I failed last year, but there is so much more room to improve. Certain areas did not get as much attention as they deserved.

    I am excited about the One Thing challenge my church is taking on this year. It is our endeavor to read the Bible through this year TOGETHER. The last time I read the complete Bible in one year was in 2006. It was a challenging year, but it was such a rewarding time of spiritual development. I am so glad I resolved and completed reading the entire Bible that year. What would I have done without it?

    This year, my church has taken on the challenge together. As a congregation, we will be reading from the same page all year. We want to study and understand the Bible together and communicate and share with each other what we have read. Instead of a race to see who can make it to the end, we will all read the same passages each day: one each from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms, and the Proverbs. If we miss a day, we are not to feel like we must catch up. Rather, we are to read that one day’s reading and concentrate on hearing what the Lord has to communicate through it. The Bible was never meant to be speed-read, so “catching up” is not advised. I am full of anticipation.

    2010 holds good things in store for us!

    One Thing Challenge

    English Standard Version

    Read this for more information.