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My Scripture Schedule and What I Learned From the Book of Revelations

This year I set a goal to read the entire New Testament and also the Book of Isaiah from the Old Testament.  I’ve been slowly making my way through them and am really enjoying it!  So I decided to share some of what I’ve been learning. Today I will share what stood out me the most as I read from the Book of Revelations.

But first of all is my schedule.  It’s kind of a crazy-backwards schedule, but there is a method to the madness!

  • January – mid-February:  Revelations
  • mid-February – April:  Isaiah
  • May:  The Epistle of James thru The Epistle of Jude
  • June – September:  Acts thru Hebrews
  • October – December:  The Four Gospels

The initial idea was that I wanted to read the New Testament backwards on account of the fact that I haven’t read much of the last part of it.  So I figured that if I started with the end, then I would definitely read the end.  (Makes perfect sense, right? 😃).  But going straight backwards didn’t seem quite right, so instead I grouped different portions together, starting with the end.  I chose to not read the New Testament at all while I focused on Isaiah so that I could give it my full attention.  And I chose to read the Book of Revelations before Isaiah because I just really wanted to.  I also love how this makes it so I will be reading about the birth and ministry of the Savior during the holidays when so many people are striving to focus more on Him.

The Book of Revelations

I’ve never actually read the full Book of Revelations (I know, shame on me!) but I’ve definitely heard a lot about the crazy imagery it contains.  I even watched a TV show about it once where they depicted the things that John described literally and gave some of their own interpretations.  But I knew it was time for me to read it on my own and study what my church has to say about it.

One thing that was particularly interesting to me was Johns writings of the seven seals.  These are the 7 periods of time of the earth.  The New Testament Institute Manual helps to explain the first six seals.  Here is a very brief summary of what it says (click the link for a more detailed explanation).

  • First Seal:  These events pertained to someone on a white horse, who had a bow, wore a crown, and went forth conquering and to conquer.  The feeling is that this person was Enoch.
  • Second Seal:  A period of war and destruction:  This was the time of Noah.  From 3000 B.C. to 2000 B.C. was very violent, with plenty of war and destruction.
  • Third Seal:  A Period of Famine:  “From 2000 B.C. to 1000 B.C., as never in any other age of the earth’s history, the black horse of hunger influenced the whole history of God’s dealings with his people.”
  • Fourth Seal:  A period of blood shed:  (by sword, famine, pestilence, or wild beasts.)  Approximately 1000 B.C. to the coming of the Savior.  “This is the millennium of those great kingdoms and nations whose wars and treacheries tormented and overran, again and again, the people whom Jehovah had chosen to bear his name.  This is also the general era in which the Lord’s own people warred among themselves and sent countless numbers of their own brethren to untimely graves.”
  • Fifth Seal:  “Dispensation of martyrdom:”  Highlights from the birth of the Savior until 1000 A.D.
    • The birth of the Savior, His ministry, and atoning sacrifice
    • Setting up His Church, spreading it, and perfecting it.  Also “the unbelievable fanaticism among unbelievers that made acceptance of martyrdom almost synonymous with acceptance of the gospel.”
    • The Great Apostasy

    “Among the ancient saints martyrdom was an ever present possibility, now which completely occupied their thoughts and feelings.  They knew that by forsaking all to follow Christ, they might, if fate so decreed, be called to lay down their lives for Him who had laid down his life for them.”

  • Sixth Seal:  “The era when the signs of the times shall be shown forth, and they are in fact everywhere to be seen.”  From 1000 A.D. until Christ returns.

I think what was so interesting to me about this explanation, besides the history of the earth being divided into these fairly specific periods of time, is that it shows that all people through all time have had a fair amount of trials to deal with.  War and hunger seem to be at the top of the list.

I know that I’ve been guilty at times of wishing I was living in a “simpler time” where certain troubles that I have to deal with didn’t exist.  But reading this helped me to understand that there is no time I could have lived that would be free of troubles.  There has always been and will continue to be a battle between good and evil; there have always been people who have willingly chosen to follow the path of evil, making trouble for those who are trying to do what is right; and there has always been personal opposition as well, such as hunger, sickness, temptations, distractions, etc.

The scriptures teach that “there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11).  But they also explain that this opposition brings about God’s purpose which is “…to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).  Or in other words to give us the opportunity to learn to become like Him (and help others do the same) so that we can live with Him forever and become like He is.

I was also very interested in John’s writings of the time right before the second coming of the Savior.  It is so interesting to live in this day, knowing that His coming is so close and yet not knowing exactly when that will be.  I feel like my study has helped me to understand world events that I see on the news a little better.  They are not just isolated events anymore in my mind, but instead they are part of the “story” of the earth that we live on, a story that was written and understood before the events themselves even happened.  AND, it is a story that has a very happy ending, especially for those who put their faith in the Savior and continue choosing the good even though evil surrounds them.

I love these verses from chapter 21:3-4, 6-7, describing the time after the Millennium or the Seventh Seal.

“3- And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

6- And he said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

7- He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

I’m really happy that I started with the Book of Revelations.  And, I’m glad that I was able to review today what I learned since my reading of it was about 5 months ago.  Next time, I’ll share what I learned from reading the Book of Isaiah!

What do you love most about the Book of Revelations?

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An Update on Our “Healthi(er) Eating Boot Camp”

Last summer I put my kids through what I called a “Heathi(er) Eating Boot Camp” for two weeks and wrote about our experience on the blog.  When the experience was over, life got super busy, and we unconsciously fell right back into our former ways.  Well, here it is a year later, and even though I haven’t actually tried to continue with that way of doing things, I can see a few things that have changed as a result of the experience.

1.  My youngest is so much better about taking at least a bite (or sometimes several bites) of things.  She still doesn’t like sloppy joes much, but we can get her to eat a little bit each time which is a huge improvement over where we were before!  And this is the case for just about anything now.  She used to show a lot of fear and anxiety when faced with an unfamiliar food, but now that fear is greatly reduced (not gone, but definitely reduced). Yay!

2.  Both of my girls enjoy experimenting with flavors now.  I don’t know if this is a result of our experience, but my appreciation of it is.  They love to smell spices and choose different ones from the cupboard to add to their food.  I let them do this because I want them to enjoy a variety of flavors and allowing them to experiement themselves can help them.

3.  I have less fear of asking my kids to eat something I know they will really dislike.  I guess this sounds a little funny, that I would have fear of that.  But it is such an unpleasant thing for me to sit down at the table and have the focus of our conversation be whether or not everyone likes and/or will eat the food I served.  So I tend to avoid it by serving what I know will be accepted.  The “boot camp”  forced me out of my own comfort zone on this and made me (and them) realize that we will all survive if the best option for the meal is something they greatly dislike.  I still mostly tend to fix food that everyone is used to, but I also occasionally find myself pushing those boundaries a little bit more than I did previously, and feel more confident about my choice to do so.

4.  I worry a lot less about theirs (and my) eating habits.  I realize these habits are not perfect, but I’ve reached a place of contentment with that imperfection.  Honestly, a poplular blogger, Andrea Dekker has played a huge role in helping me with that.  Although a lot of people talk and write about the drawbacks of perfectionism, Andrea has helped me more than anyone else to see how letting go of perfectionism can help me accomplish more of what’s important in life.  I feel like I’m finally getting it!!

Here are some of her posts (from andreadekker.com) that have been especially helpful to me in accepting the imperfection of our situation, as well as being able to move forward with and feel good about small improvements.

  1. Why We Don’t Force Veggies and Allow Snacks
  2. Why We Eat Some Processed Foods
  3. Good Enough
  4. Why I’m a “do more at less than 100%” Person
  5. Three Simple Concepts to Simplify Your Life

5.  I’ve changed my approach (or rather my intended approach).  For so long my approach (or at least the intent) was that I would prepare the food so that I could control what was served.  But as they got older and more capable, more and more often they were preparing their own food…but not necessarily as healthfully as I felt it should be.  As a result, I resisted in officially turning the job over to them.  But this past year I have put them fully in charge of packing their own lunches and mostly in charge of preparing their own breakfasts, even to the point of letting them ask me to buy certain foods for this purpose at the store.  So with this control over their choices, I’ve realized that it’s more about teaching them to make healthy choices than simply expecting them to eat what they are served.

6.  I think the biggest change is that I’m finally enjoying food again!  The stresses that I’ve felt over the past few years have pretty much taken all the fun out of preparing and eating food.  I love good food, and I really love variety.  So I’m back to trying new recipes again and worrying less about them being perfectly healthy and perfectly pleasing to everyone at the table (although I do try to have something there that each person will like).  But not only that, I’m letting and encouraging my kids to create new combinations of things and have fun with different flavors too.  Food really can be a lot of fun if we let it.

So that’s us a year later.  Now it’s the beginning of yet another summer, full of lots of fun activities and all of the good food that goes along with them!

What I’ve Been Up To Lately

So, my last post was the first part of April, and here it is the last part of April!  I have lots of ideas of things I could write about, but not so much time to do it.  So, I thought I would take a few minutes (I’ve got 30 minutes before having to run off to something else!) to just write about what I’ve been up to!

So, first of all my interior decorator mother-in-law offered to help us update our girl’s bedroom into a “big girl” room.  My youngest (5 yrs) was still sleeping in a toddler bed and my oldest girl (11 yrs) had a big double bed all to herself!  So the first thing to do was to replace the old beds with a set of twin beds (no, they are not bunk beds).  Along with that is new bedspreads, a desk, new blinds, plus some other details like shelves on the wall.  My mother-in-law is the creator of all the plans, and I’m her helper.  Also, she lives in CA and I’m in VA, so we’ve been doing this long distance over the phone and me taking pictures and sending them to her.

A little more than a week ago I got the flu for the first time that I can ever remember.  I don’t get flu shots because I really just don’t (or use to not) get the flu.  Well, I guess I learned my lesson because I was in bed for a week.  It was during Spring Break.  Since my teacher-husband and kids were off of school, they were able to take care of the basics around the house, but we as a family didn’t really get to do anything fun during the week off from school.  It was good and bad timing at the same time!

While I was sick and in my bed, I had to stare at all of my clutter in my bedroom.  Day after day I stared at it, vowing that when I was well I would clean it up.  I even decided to read a few of my organizing books over again to give me some ideas and help motivate me.  Once I was better and semi-caught up on the most important chores, I dedicated about 3 hours one morning to decluttering.  It felt great!  I wasn’t able to finish in that time and by the next day, I had too many other things on my to do list to be able to keep that kind of focus.  But since then, I’ve been trying to declutter a little more just 5 minutes at a time.

Another thing that I’ve been doing is working hard to keep the wasps away from key parts of my house!  We have paper wasps all around my area.  They seem to be everywhere!  Well, one morning my daughter opened the door to go to school and one flew in the house!  I’m afraid of them…I really am!!  So it was lucky that my husband was still home and took a few minutes to take care of it before leaving for work.  Later I noticed another one inside my door frame (it didn’t fly in because I saw it before opening the door).  Upon further inspection, our screen door has just enough opening for them to get inside, and they apparently feel this is a great spot to try to build a nest.  This means that they are not “stuck” there as I once thought, but are trying to be there!  Ugh!!!!  My husband says what we need to do is replace the door, but we can’t do that right now.  So instead I took cotton balls and duct tape and did my best to fill in those gaps.  It is ugly, but I don’t care.  It seems to be working; however we’ve had cooler temperatures so I don’t know for sure yet.  In the meantime I often send my kids out a different door or if we have to open this one I look out the window first to make sure nothing is there.  Can you tell I don’t like them?

Then today my husband asked if I could put some stain on some raw wood around our house because it is supposed to rain Wednesday night.  He said it was just a simple thing he was asking; it was not a large area and it would only take a short time.  But I knew differently.  Painting/staining is never simple.  Finding the paint, the can opener, the plastic, prepping the area, etc. etc.  I tried to do it quickly today without prepping, and then realized I was going to have a mess if I didn’t slow down and do the prep work correctly.  So I did slow down.  I also noticed that really all of our porches and railings need to be repainted/stained, so I took some time to look up on You Tube how to do this properly.  I guess there are times to not worry too much about the details and other times when it really matters.

So, that’s about it.  Well, actually it’s not.  We’ve got the garden we want to get started on, plus all the usual stuff we are doing like my son going to a Scouting event tonight to earn a merit badge.  Plus a spagetti dinner/ auction this Friday night to earn money for Scout Camp.  And he is working on his project that he will be “selling” at the auction.  Busy Busy!  I feel as busy as a bee!  (And I know how busy they are because I’ve been watching them to ensure they aren’t building nests where I don’t want them too!).

So that’s all for now.  I hope everyone is having a great Spring!!

What projects are you working on right now?

Time to Say Goodbye…(at least for now)

The time has come for me to discontinue writing on my blog; at least for awhile, maybe longer.  I loved writing it for the time that I did, but time changes things, and my focus needs to change now too.  I’m actually pretty excited about life ahead of me now.  For a long time I felt like I was in such a slump; that so much of what is exciting about life was behind me.  I really feel that taking the time to write has renewed my perspective, which I am so grateful for.

But what I love best is that this blog has given me a place to share my testimony of the Savior and the Lord’s love for me and each of us.  His love is the single thing that I am most grateful for and everything else that is good in life is just an extension of that love.

This was not an easy decision for me to make, but I am confident it is the right one…at least for now.  Thanks so much for all of the support — and to my other WordPress friends out there, I just want to say thank you so much for your efforts to post uplifting things for people like me to read.  I love reading your blogs, and plan to continue doing so!

Health(ier) Eating Boot Camp

A few days ago I decided to do (another) internet search on the topic of picky eaters.  I still like the book I’ve read about the subject, and haven’t taken it back to the library yet; but I was feeling like I needed a little more perspective.  Since I’ve searched this topic many times before (without finding much that was helpful to me personally), I was surprised to come across an article that I felt was actually very insightful.  It is found on the “Real Simple Magazine” website and was written by a mom who decided to put her family through a “picky eater boot camp.”  She created five simple rules and established a time frame of two weeks.  Then she recorded the experience as she went along.  My absolute favorite part of her article is the end where she describes what her family dinners are like after the experience.  This is what she wrote (click here to read the full article):

“That was just the beginning. These days, the kids are voracious and zealous omnivores…oh, who are we kidding? They still interrogate me every time we order cheese pizza. Bryn remains offended by kids’ menus. Dash hasn’t eaten another black bean. (And I occasionally still serve him chicken nuggets. So sue me.) Still, I consider the boot camp successful.

“Our dinner rules—we’ve kept all of them, except glamorizing vegetables—have helped the kids understand what’s expected, which has meant fewer tantrums. Each one now tries food when it’s offered. Plus, they’ve discovered a couple of dishes they’ll both eat (the quesadillas and the turkey burgers). This may not sound like much, but it increases our repertoire about 300 percent.

“What’s more, I’ve changed: I’m more relaxed, even when the kids refuse to eat. Yes, I care that they have a varied and healthy diet, but I’m learning not to be so invested in every bite. And that means I can spend more time enjoying the people at my dinner table—and less time worrying what’s on it.”

Don’t you just love that?  I do.

So I’m setting up a boot camp for us too.  Mine, however is not just focused on dinner but on all 3 meals plus the afternoon snack because, for us dinner-time is not really the problem.  I have, since before they were born, been pretty good at preparing a balanced meal each night and everyone has to eat a little bit of everything.  But what has happened to us is that I have been letting them have the foods they like at breakfast, lunch, and snack (out of laziness on my part).  So, they just eat a small dinner and get the rest of their calories during the day.  The result has been a diet that is heavy on carbs and processed foods and low on fruits and vegetables.  And I want to turn this around…or at the very least get them used to seeing more fruits and vegetables so that they realize they really are an important part of each meal.

Below is my meal plan for this week.  I planned it as close to the guidelines from the USDA as I could.  But it’s not perfect…and it does have some processed, not-so-healthy additions.  My intent was to create a well-balanced menu, but at the same time to not overwhelm my kids with too many meals they don’t like.  I’m pretty proud of it; it took awhile to do, but I think if I keep practicing that I can get better and quicker at doing this.

Meal Plan 1

click on the image to enlarge

My plan is to do just like the author of the magazine article and keep a journal of how it goes this week right here on the blog.  I may not be able to share everything because I don’t want to embarrass anyone in my family, but I’ll try to share what I’m experiencing and learning the best that I can.  I also am going to adopt her rules (because they are simple and I like them).  My hope is that I can improve things around here, but also that my experience may be helpful to someone else who is struggling too!

(Note:  most of the breakfast and snack ideas in the above menu came from here and here.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject, so feel free to share in the comments below!