Category Archives: Goals

The Evolution of a Blogger: Survey

Note: If you have been linked to this page, that is your personal invitation to copy and paste the unanswered survey found at the foot of this article. Join the fun!

THE EVOLUTION OF A BLOGGER

If you have been blogging for a while, you have probably noticed a change in yourself. Since the day you launched your blog, you have morphed as a person, possibly even as a writer.

Ask yourself this question:

Is it possible that the very act of blogging is, in part, responsible for the changes in your thought patterns, your attitudes toward opposing viewpoints, or the quality and style of your writing?

If so, I have put together this little questionnaire to enable you to showcase how you have evolved as a blogger, and to encourage you to link to a few of the blogs that are responsible for your personal growth.

The purpose of this survey is to give credit where credit is due.

What was the very first blog post you ever made? Include an excerpt in your response, and link to it. Caboose Alphabet

“My son was fascinated with trains. I wanted him to be fascinated with learning how to read. In an effort to combine the two, I created train flashcards with letters of the alphabet on them.”

Were you nervous to join the blogosphere? I was a little nervous, I think, but mostly I was excited. I knew this was something that I would enjoy tremendously. 

What was your greatest fear? That nobody would care. That my blog would sit undiscovered for years and do nothing but take up server space.

How did you feel after posting for the first time? Anxious to see how it would fare. I really wanted to help people – to be a resource. I was hoping people would stumble on my blog and use it to their advantage.

At the outset, which blog inspired you the most in terms of activity? Danielle Shipley. I wanted to be just like her when I “grew up” as a blogger! All of her posts were interesting, she had good interaction from followers, and she was very fun to talk to!

Do you remember wanting to have another blogger’s success someday? Maybe they had a ton of followers already, a great design, a unique idea, or a community of regular commenters. Link to them. Yep. Mark Mathia. Problem is, I can’t find his blog anymore.

Who reached out to you and really made you feel accepted in the early months of your new blogging life? Who supported you and made you feel at home in this element? Link! Aside from those mentioned above, Katharine Trauger probably encouraged me the most!

Do you remember any specific advice you read or received that immediately and permanently changed the way you blogged? I remember that I was conversing with a writing friend. I had discovered her because we both wrote for the same magazine at the time. Actually, I think it was her blog that made me realize that blogging was something I would enjoy. 

What was the advice? I was trying to think of a title for my blog. I knew I wanted to write about homeschooling, but I also knew that I didn’t want to have to stick to that topic exclusively. She told me to name my blog after myself. Then I could write about anything I wanted. So I chose the URL address based on my name, but the blog title reflects the idea that I used to be homeschooled and am currently homeschooling. 

Link to the wonderful person who gave the advice. Lea Ann Garfias

What’s your number one tip, now that you’ve been blogging for a while? Engage people in meaningful conversations, whether you are posting on their blog or they are posting on yours. Be real.

When you built your blog, who was your target audience? Homeschool parents. 

What kind of content were you mainly concerned with? I wanted to offer advice, ideas, and resources for homeschoolers, and have a place to share my own homeschooling successes and failures. 

Did you have a different name picked out for your blog that you ditched? Oh, wow. I can’t remember any one specifically. I think I had about 20 silly-sounding ones, and maybe 3 good ones. I know it wasn’t very many. As soon as I thought of FULL CIRCLE HOMESCHOOLING though, I knew that was the one.

Link to one of your old posts that is a good example of your initial goals. Incidental Teaching. I wrote this post during my first month. Six years later, and it’s still a pretty good representation of my teaching preferences.

Who else do you read regularly that targets your original audience? Do you have a favorite post from their blog? Link. Nowadays, I’m not really reading homeschool-related posts. I guess I feel like I know what I’m doing, and I have a plan, lol. I’m trying to declutter my brain, so we’ve really simplified our homeschooling process. I’m mostly reading about writing or religion. A writing blog I really like is A Writer’s Path. I discovered this blog when I stumbled upon the Writer’s Toolbox. For the longest time, I had the toolbox saved to my favorites bar!

What’s the most controversial post you’ve ever written? Link to it. If you have no idea, surf through your received comments and link to a post that received a good argument in the comment section. Probably this one: Answers for Atheists: Where Did Evil Come From?

Link to a blogger or two who commented on your blog and respectfully disagreed with your ideas. Dedicated to the Game. This person was very respectful and engaging. He commented on the post mentioned above.

Have you found yourself writing about anything that was not part of the original intention behind your blog? Yes! Torah! I never imagined I would be learning about it, much less writing about it.

Link to a good example. I Am One of Them, and So Are You.

Link to the most random thing you’ve ever written. Hobbies for the Blind?

Link to the most random post you liked this week. This one!! Balancing the Frump.

What blogs/tags do you follow that have nothing to do with anything you’ve ever posted? Link to one or two of them here. I follow the “steampunk” tag. I love looking at the pictures, and I admire all of the creativity involved! Unfortunately, there’s not a lot going on steampunk-wise on WordPress. A better place to find it is Pinterest.

A fun WordPress tag I follow is Wreck-This-Journal.

Last but not least, who do you consider your friends in the blogosphere? If you have no idea, look to see who has commented the most times on your posts and link to them. Most of my other supporters don’t have blogs! But they are: Vicki, Carl, Kimmy, Mike, Sherri, and Chrystal. Thank you for bringing so much to my blog!

Empty Survey Below (with introduction)

THE EVOLUTION OF A BLOGGER

If you have been blogging for a while, you have probably noticed a change in yourself. Since the day you launched your blog, you have morphed as a person, possibly even as a writer.

Ask yourself this question:

Is it possible that the very act of blogging is, in part, responsible for the changes in your thought patterns, your attitudes toward opposing viewpoints, or the quality and style of your writing?

If so, I have put together this little questionnaire to enable you to showcase how you have evolved as a blogger, and to encourage you to link to a few of the blogs that are responsible for your personal growth.

The purpose of this survey is to give credit where credit is due.

What was the very first blog post you ever made? Include an excerpt in your response, and link to it.

Were you nervous to join the blogosphere? What was your greatest fear? How did you feel after posting for the first time?

At the outset, which blog inspired you the most in terms of activity? Do you remember wanting to have another blogger’s success someday? Maybe they had a ton of followers already, a great design, a unique idea, or a community of regular commenters. Link to them.

Who reached out to you and really made you feel accepted in the early months of your new blogging life? Who supported you and made you feel at home in this element? Link!

Do you remember any specific advice you read or received that immediately and permanently changed the way you blogged? What was the advice? Link to the wonderful person who gave the advice.

What’s your number one tip, now that you’ve been blogging for a while?

When you built your blog, who was your target audience? What kind of content were you mainly concerned with? Did you have a different blogger name picked out for yourself that you ditched? Link to one of your old posts that is a good example of your initial goals.

Who else do you read regularly that targets your original audience? Do you have a favorite post from their blog? Link.

What’s the most controversial post you’ve ever written? Link to it. If you have no idea, surf through your received comments and link to a post that received a good argument in the comment section.

Link to a blogger or two who commented on your blog and respectfully disagreed with your ideas.

Have you found yourself writing about anything that was not part of the original intention behind your blog? Link to a good example.

Link to the most random thing you’ve ever written?

Link to the most random post you liked this week.

What blogs do you read that have nothing to do with anything you’ve ever posted? Link to one or two of them here.

Last but not least, who do you consider your friends in the blogosphere? If you have no idea, look to see who has commented the most times on your posts and link to them.

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The Miraculous Language

I know next to nothing about the Hebrew language. 501 words, or so my Duolingo app tells me. That’s not very much from a language that has 45,000 words, not including compound words. The Bible alone has over 8,000 Hebrew words in it. Oy vey, I have a long way to go…

I once had a Jewish acquaintance try to dissuade me from studying her language: “It is a lifelong pursuit.” She must have thought I was presumptuous to think I could even begin to understand something that still dazzles the rabbis. And she’s right! It is a bit presumptuous.

As I study, I am discovering that the Hebrew language is mysterious, amazing, and deeper in meaning than I ever imagined. I am persuaded that it would take a thousand years to unravel its mysteries, and even then, I fear I would have barely scratched the surface.

If my efforts are so futile then, why do I insist on pursuing it?

Because it is mysterious, amazing, and deeper in meaning than I ever imagined.

I have always wanted to be able to read the Bible in its original languages. In fact, during 9th grade, I remember memorizing the Greek alphabet symbols, along with their names and sounds. A couple of times, I even wrote phonetically in Greek in my diary so that no one else could read it. But that wasn’t enough.

I wanted so badly to learn more than just the alphabet!  In 10th grade, I went so far as to have my parents purchase a Greek language curriculum and a Greek New Testament. But I didn’t have the drive to complete more than the first few pages. The curriculum collected dust for a few years before I got married and left it behind for my mother to throw away. I hung on to the New Testament for a while, telling myself I’d learn someday, and then finally gave it away to someone who could actually use it.

However, something has changed for me in the last few years. I have discovered that things are not what they seem to be. This thing we call Christianity has at least got the basics right – Jesus Christ, Son of God, crucified to save the world. But that’s about all they’ve managed to keep straight. I’ve discovered that today’s man-made doctrines are every bit as worthless and misleading as they were back when Jesus ridiculed the Pharisees.

Mark 7

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

When it comes to sorting out the truth from the traditions, Christians have a lazy go-to excuse: “If it’s not important to the doctrine of salvation, then it’s not worth my time or effort.” The problem with that reasoning is this: it’s the spirit of truth that draws people. If we are running around promoting a bunch of lies, what is to distinguish Christianity from the man-made religions?

For instance, creationism is not a “salvation” issue. However, I know a man who got saved as soon as he discovered how ridiculous the theory of evolution really was. Anything can be a salvation issue if it’s holding you back from seeking the true Creator.

I digress. My motivation for learning Hebrew is pretty simple and compelling:

  1. I am tired of depending on modern prescriptions for how one should go about interpreting the scriptures.
  2. I am tired of all the lies that are buried under hundreds, even thousands of years of tradition.
  3. I want to see what the believing Jews saw in Christ’s day, to know what they knew, to have the proverbial scales fall from my eyes as they did from Paul’s. Torah plus Christ is a wondrous revelation to behold!
  4. I want to see how it all fits together – the Old Testament and the New – into one harmonious whole, whose sum is greater than its parts.
  5. Most intriguing to me is the miraculous combination of Hebrew letters into their words. I want to learn as much as I can about the language whose words are made up of individual letters whose individual meanings combine to define the word created by them. See the explanation below.

The ancient Hebrew is both phonetic and pictographic. I copied and pasted the following from Jeff A. Benner’s website so you can see what I mean:

The Hebrew word (av) is spelled with two Hebrew letters, (aleph) and the (beyt). In Hebrew, the word “aleph” means “ox” and the original pictograph of this letter is an image of an ox head, which represents the idea of “strength.” The beyt, a Hebrew word meaning “tent” or “home,” is an image of a tent, the home. When the meaning of these two letters are combined we have the “the strength of the tent” and is descriptive of the tent poles which provide strength to the tent. As the beyt can also represent the home, this word also means “the strength of the home,” and is the Hebrew word for “father.”

Begin to look more deeply into this, and you will discover that the Hebrew language is full of words that are constructed like this. It’s beyond amazing; it is miraculous.

Benefits of studying a language I will never have time to master:

As I learn the meanings of a few letters, combinations, and root words, I am finding that I can interpret some of the names and places I come across while reading the scriptures in English. Some of these interpretations lead to a greater understanding of the Creator and His plan.

Take Beer-sheba, a word I have read and heard over and over throughout my lifetime. This time, when I came across it, I had to stop and think. “Beer” means well, as in a water-well, and “sheba” means “seven.” But “sheba” also means “oath.” So Beer-sheba is the Well of Seven or the Well of the Oath. In a miraculous language like Hebrew, where the word is made up of letters whose definitions lend meaning to the constructed word, an indisputable, unbreakable relationship is established between the words “oath” and “seven.” The seventh-day sabbath is God’s first covenant with mankind. It is His oath of rest to us, made on the seventh day of history. Before man ever sinned, God said, “I have already established a way to save you from your sins and a way to allow you to enter into my rest.”

Exodus 31:

16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

These deep meanings and sublime understandings just explode out of nowhere during the course of learning this beautiful language. Some of these epiphanies add to an underlying infrastructure that I am building in my head. I’d like to call it “The Big Picture,” but I can’t quite put any of it into words for you. I just know that it makes me who I am, makes me believe what I believe, and informs my understanding for every verse. Occasionally I find something that conflicts, and then a reassessment of what-I-think-I-know becomes necessary.

On the other hand, I sometimes see something clearly enough that I can articulate it and pass it on. In fact, yesterday I wrote a short blurb about the connection between the Hebrew words for “seven” and “sabbath.”

In conclusion: I won’t ever learn it all, but one could use that excuse to avoid any pursuit. I’ll tell you this much: I am immensely enjoying myself, and I won’t be stopping any time soon.

P.S. If you have always wanted to pick up a second language, Duolingo offers all its languages free of charge. It’s fun, interactive, and addictive. And, no, I’m not getting paid to say so, lol. Just passing its usefulness on to you all. I have been using their Spanish course for years, and I have learned way more from them than I ever did in college. They have both Hebrew and Greek if you would like to gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word.

photo credit: mendes9 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/38775575@N07/28542539284″>WSSC-203</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Meal Planning Miracle

FreeImages.com/OBMonkey

FreeImages.com/OBMonkey

Meal planning has always been difficult for me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t usually enjoy cooking, but every time I plan meals in advance, I’m never in the mood to cook that evening’s specific meal. So I try to make things simpler on myself. I have tried all of the following:

  • Crockpot meals
  • Muffin cup meals
  • Once a month cooking
  • Running out and buying things on the day I need them

All of these things failed me for some reason or another, and I was once again finding myself surrounded by empty cupboards and empty stomachs to match. However, I finally figured out an answer to my problem. I am posting this in an effort to help all of you who might be struggling with the same thing. Here’s what I did:

I took out all of my favorite go-to recipes, and supplemented them with a few other simple meals. I also asked my Facebook friends for their favorites. Then I went through all of them and made a list of the ingredients. I put dry goods in one category, frozen in another, and refrigerated in another, but I only added ingredients that I wanted to keep on hand all the time. For instance, I can keep any amount of dry goods in stock and almost every frozen item, as long as I don’t have pizzas or other space-consuming things in my freezer. Some of the dairy products, such as milk and eggs, I added to the master list, because I figured it would be good to always have those on hand. However, half-and-half didn’t make the cut because I don’t use it often enough, and I didn’t want it going bad in the fridge if I failed to use it quickly.

Most of the meals consisted solely of ingredients that I decided I could always keep stocked. As this was my goal, I didn’t pick out any complicated or obscure recipes for this project. I wrote the names of these meals down in a separate column of my grocery list, along with the designation that I could cook any of them at any given time, provided I always kept every ingredient from my master list on hand. These meals serve as my go-to menu, and it’s working out very well, even when we have company. (My husband likes it too, because he has more and better choices.)

The favorite recipes containing ingredients that were not on that list were written down in a separate place, along with the one or two extra ingredients I would need to make them. I ended up with about 40 meals I could make at the drop of a hat, and 10 or 15 more that required one or two extra ingredients. Now this is the hard part: initially purchasing everything on the master list and then remembering to write things down as soon as I use them so I can buy them again. Because I chose simple meals, and because I already had many of the dry goods on hand, I was able to make my initial purchase for about $100.

Good luck with your meal planning, and I hope this idea helps some of you!

Bible Study vs. Bible Reading

The other evening at church, we were talking about whether it’s more important to read through the Bible over and over, or more important to slow down and study passages from it.

Personally, I like the idea of reading through it every year because I think you are more likely to open your Bible every single day if all you have to do is pick it up. If you have to think of a topic, drag out your Strong’s concordance, Vine’s topical, and Matthew Henry’s commentary, I think you are a lot less likely to be in the mood to spend time with God.

I also like the idea of having read the Bible 5 or 10 or 20 times, depending how long you’ve been at it. After a while, it becomes like that favorite movie you can practically quote. No, but really – spending time with God every single day, and working your way through every aspect in which He has revealed Himself, has some pretty amazing benefits.

First of all, you get to know God pretty well – how He thinks, how He loves, how He has planned and labored for our redemption since the beginning of time. For instance, there are certain things I know about my mom or my dad. Certain things about their personalities that go without saying. They would no longer have to tell me that they love me, or that they have my best interest in mind, etc. I just know these things because I understand them. When you read the entire Bible, especially multiple times, you are building an all-around perspective of what God is like.

Secondly, if you can get in the habit of reading for a few minutes every single day, instead of waiting for a chunk of time in which you can sit down and really dive in, you are giving God the opportunity to grab your attention daily. Sure, there will be some mornings or evenings that you are tired and have to prop your eyelids open. There will be some days where you find yourself not really paying attention and needing to reread what you just spent the last five minutes staring at. However, eventually, it’s all going to sink in. Finding a time of day in which you are awake and mentally engaged is challenging, but it can be done.

Thirdly, when people make outrageous claims about the Bible saying this or that, you will know whether they are true. If you are truly paying attention while you read, you will know if you come across anything that just doesn’t seem to jive. Here it will definitely be your responsibility to pray and research and find out what is meant by such a passage, and then you will be able to answer if someone questions your faith in a book that they claim contradicts itself.

Lastly, I think it’s ludicrous for Christians to claim they believe something they have never even read all the way through. Baby Christians, new converts, okay. I get it – you haven’t had time yet. And I know that the Word of God speaks for itself, and when you identify with certain parts, you believe by faith that the rest of it is true. But come on. Seriously, you need to at least be moving toward that goal of having completely read it, and then keep right on going, moving toward the goal of having read it so many times you can practically quote it. I looked at my Kindle reading app, and the average time for reading through the Bible that I have downloaded is 44 hours and 9 minutes. Folks, that’s less than 8 minutes a day. We honestly have no excuse.

All that being said, I am not trying to deter anyone from actually taking a half-hour to an hour a day and studying the word of God. Or maybe you can carve out a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon – whatever works. Just try to form a habit you can stick with. I do believe that there are many insights to be gained by studying the meanings of words in their original languages. I also believe we should study the Bible in light of other Scriptures, and there is something to be said about reading supporting verses in one sitting, rather than as you come to them on your journey through the Bible.

Personally, I study the things that catch me off-guard, or things that are on my heart, or things I think I need a better understanding of. In this way, I use the Bible as a tool, a reference book, a how-to guide for life. I openly admit to not studying in-depth on a daily basis, but when I do, I usually feel compelled to study until I get to the bottom of an issue. This can take hours a day for several days sometimes. It still doesn’t happen often enough for me (in my opinion), so I intend to make some additions to my reading plan in order to study with intentionality (is that a word?).

I spoke with Ian on the way home about how he thinks we should approach Bible study. I said, some folks who study the Bible but don’t intentionally read it through never even get to all of it. How do we fix that problem? Ian said, “Study it in order.” Well, I should have known that was the obvious answer, but didn’t think of it on my own for some reason. So, I think I will start at the very beginning, and study as much as I like after I have read my passage for the day. The studying portion will, of course, move at a much slower pace, but perhaps it will benefit me more. Perhaps studying everything once will have the same affect on my understanding and retention as reading it ten times through.

Do you have any ideas on reading or studying the Word of God? What method do you use? What changes would you like to make?

Train Up a Child: Prayer

Ever since Ian told me that God has called him as a missionary, I’ve been taking his training a lot more seriously. I know that I should have been diligent to train him all along – it’s not like he will always be surrounded by like-minded folks, or that he will never fall into temptation – but suddenly, his Christian development has taken precedence over everything else. For instance, we’ve been praying out loud together every day. The first day, I prayed out loud; the second day, he did, etc. By doing this, I hope to accomplish a few things:

1. Give him an idea about the variety of things we can talk to God about (aka, everything).

2. Teach him to be thankful and worshipful above all things – that these are the most important aspects of his communion with God.

3. Train him to only ask for personal things occasionally. This is not the sole purpose of prayer. I have said before – God is not a vending machine. However, we pray for salvation of the lost pretty frequently.

4. Show him that prayer is not meant to be mindlessly repetitious or ritualistic. Every approach to the throne of God should be fresh and unique to that moment, and our hearts and minds should be focused on Him.

5. Get him in the habit of taking the time to pray. Every. Single. Day. It should be non-negotiable, just like brushing his teeth.

6. Increase his comfort level in praying out loud. As a man, he will be called on to pray in church with some regularity, and as a missionary, he will have to take the initiative and teach others how to pray.

7. It just occurred to me – I should also teach him to be silent for a few moments as well – to give God our undivided attention, and allow Him the opportunity to answer back.

8. We haven’t done this yet, but I also need to emphasize the importance of searching our hearts, admitting to sin, and earnestly repenting.

Joe’s Goals

I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person. The year that I went on a diet (in an effort to cure breast cancer naturally), I didn’t eat any sugar, meat, dairy, or artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors for fifteen or sixteen months. Then, after surgeries, chemo, and radiation obliterated my cancer, I went back to eating whatever. I keep telling myself that I’m going to eat better. And I’m doing better than I was at first. I stay away from candy and soda for the most part, but I can do better still. It’s not like I don’t know what I should be eating, so I really have no excuses. My problem is, I think, “I’ll just have a little bit today” – every day. I don’t know how to do anything in moderation.

The other day, I Googled “goal website” or something like that, and I stumbled on something I’ve been using since then. The name of the site is Joe’s Goalsbadgeexample, and there’s a little goal schedule embedded into the page to help you keep track of your goal every day. Initially, you set up each goal and assign it a positive or negative point value. Then, you just keep track of each thing you accomplish or slip up on. It couldn’t be simpler! And since it tallies your points at the end of every day, I am not falling into the pitfall of “well, I missed a day exercising, so I guess I won’t exercise for another month.” Or “I ate sugar today, so I guess I’ll keep eating it until I can’t stand myself.” I literally get a few points every single day, and I’m just aiming for higher and higher scores, or longer streaks.

The Me I Want to Be

Ok, tomorrow I’m intend to do the following three things, and I want you all to help make me accountable:

1. Get up at 6:30am and stay up for the rest of the day.

2. Go for a run up to the high school and back.

3. Avoid sugar and food additives like The Plague.

PhilippiansThere are so many changes I’d like to make in my life, but I just can’t find the will-power. I keep thinking “I can do all things through Christ which strentheneth me (Philippians 4:13),” but I’m just so used to caving into my own desires that I never make it very far.

The me I want to be is the following woman: healthy, fully in charge of her eating habits, active, productive. I don’t want to be a slave to food, sleep, television, social media, etc. I just want to be me! Is that too much to ask of myself?

Would you all benefit from an accountability partner? If you had one, what challenges would you make yourselves?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/44037580@N08/7490433460″>week five – austin m. d.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;