Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 is Upon Us!

Whenever a new year comes I think that all of us feel the necessity to start fresh.  This can be a good thing and a bad thing.  Good in that we make plans to be intentional and get things going that we have wanted to do for who knows how long.  Bad because we often fail in those attempts and then wait until next year to give it another go.  Maybe that will happen for me, maybe it wont. I do have some things that I will be taking on this year and have this blog that I haven't used for six months, so why not make a public announcement in order that I might push myself all the more?

Let's keep this brief.  Here is what I am aiming for, starting tomorrow:

  • #VTReadingChallenge:  This was proposed by Tim Challies at and I can't help but want to try.  I am not someone who reads constantly, but I hope that through this challenge I can become more diverse in what I read.  I also wouldn't mind getting a little smarter and wiser in the process.
  • Language learning:  Always a goal, but also the goal most often moved to the back of my mind.  I've blogged about it before, and I think I will stay with the tools I have used before.  Memrise, italki, Chinese Skill, Pleco, etc.
  • Bible Reading: I'm torn between doing a pre-made plan or just coming up with my own custom plan.  I'm not sure whether slowly working through a book at a time with a few commentaries by my side would be better right now, or if trying to read a lot of the Bible in each sitting to really immerse myself in it as many times as I can get through it would be better.  I'm leaning towards slow and steady right now.  We'll see. 
  • Fitness: After doing the Tough Mudder this year I realized the value in being in shape.  I felt better and I had more energy.  I have since become more sedentary and have already lost quite a bit of strength.  I will be going through some workout apps that I got for my iPhone in hopes to gain some of what I had back.  I would like to do something every day, maybe alternating muscle workouts and running/biking every other day.  I hope the weather starts getting a little nicer...
  • Family: I really want to engage my family more.  Play more board games with my wife and kids, play video games with the boys, take the girls on dates, etc.  Most importantly I want to pray with my wife and kids and slowly work through a book of the Bible together.  I think that might be a good idea.  
  • Church: I really want to connect with the people that God has entrusted me with in whatever way possible.  I want to pray for them more and hear their hearts more.  It's hard in our busy world to know exactly how to do that, but I want to make more of an effort even if it is just by sending a daily email of encouragement to a person in the church each day.  I don't know.  Still thinking through this.
There is more brewing in my mind, but this is what is fresh.  What is different about tomorrow than any other day?  Nothing.  But I want to be more intentional, so I will take the little extra push of it being a new year to get me over that hurdle of getting distracted again.  I will be blogging again, hopefully, and we'll see what happens.

God's grace in Jesus to whoever reads this.  Enjoy the beginning of a new year!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Language Learning Reboot: Giving italki a try!

Well, it has begun.  I have one month to get my Mandarin in shape for when our exchange student from Wuhan, China gets here.  I have been going back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to use italki to take private lessons, but tonight I decided to give it another shot.  My first time using italki with a professional teacher was about a year ago and it didn't go as well as I had hoped.  However, this time was actually great!

This is my teacher, Xin.  As you can tell in the picture she is very nice and very patient.  We went over quite a few things and, admittedly, my Mandarin was absolutely terrible.  At least, my conversational abilities were terrible.  My tones and pronunciation were good so I guess that's a start.  So I guess this is a new Day One in my language journey.  Here's hoping that these lessons, in addition to using Memrise and ChineseSkill, will give me that bump I need to get over this wall that I've been stuck at for while now.

For more information about italki, go here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

O the Unsearchable Riches of Christ's Love!

I have begun to read a devotional titled Voices from the Past that I picked up during a Banner of Truth sale last year.  It is a collection of Puritan writings condensed into brief paragraphs for daily reading.  I appreciated what I read this morning and thought I would share it with you in hope that it would kindle your affection for the Savior.  Enjoy!
Rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. 1 Peter 1: 8 
The glorious riches of Christ’s love cannot be expressed but in the language of paradise; it cannot be understood but by a transported soul, a spirit caught up to the third heaven. The expressions, which the Spirit uses for us to understand, are such that we realize we cannot fully apprehend them. He tells us of joy unspeakable (1 Pet. 1: 8), peace passing understanding (Phil. 4: 7), love passing knowledge (Eph. 3: 19), and riches unsearchable (Eph. 3: 8). These streams are drops of love— Christ is the fountain, the ocean; these are sparks— he has given us the Sun. His love gives us an interest in the glorious Trinity. The holy and uncreated Spirit is ours, his graces and comforts are ours. The Father also is ours; all that he is, all his glorious attributes, his all-sufficiency, wisdom, power, mercy, justice, truth, and faithfulness. His decrees are the spring of our happiness (Eph. 1: 4-5). His providence carries us with full sail into the ocean of glory. Heaven is our home, and earth is our inn, to accommodate us in our pilgrimage, and angels, they are our guard (Matt. 4: 6). And now, what is there in heaven and earth that the love of Christ has not made ours? There is nothing left but himself. And, alas, what would all these things profit, if we lack him? Without Christ, earth would be hell, and heaven would not be heaven. He is the hope of earth, and the glory of heaven. See here the height of his love; he has given us himself, and all with himself. His love would let nothing be withheld from us: not his life— he gave his life a ransom for us; not his blood— he washed us in his blood; not his glory—‘ The glory that you have given me I have given to them’ (John 17: 22). O boundless love! O the unsearchable riches of Christ’s love! O happy souls that have an interest in his love, and in these riches!
Richard Rushing. Voices from the Past (Kindle Locations 500-513). The Banner of Truth Trust.