Bible Alone – Week 1

For January’s 30 day challenge, I decided that I wanted to spend the entire month reading only the Bible. No other books, whether they be fiction or nonfiction. I was very tempted to allow myself to read books about the Bible but I knew I would end up reading those instead of the Bible. That’s not the point of the challenge… I wanted to spend the first month of the year immersing myself in God’s word.

In the course of one week, I’ve read –
Judges 12-21
1 Samuel
2 Samuel 1-4

I like this pace of reading. It’s not as fast as the Bible in 90 Days, so I don’t feel like I’m just skimming. But I am reading fast enough that I’m getting entire stories in one sitting rather than disjointed chapters.

Unfortunately, I’ve been sick since Tuesday. This has seriously challenged my decision to read no books but the Bible. I have wanted so badly to curl up on the couch with a fluffy and entertaining fiction book. Thankfully, I’ve kept to my resolve! It has been a blessing this week and I look forward to three more weeks of the challenge.

2012 Resolutions – Spiritual

I love New Years. I love that we are gifted, all at once!, with a brand new year, month, week, and day. What a clean slate! I have a few goals in mind for this year, some specific and some general. I thought I’d separate each aspect of my life into individual posts and detail some of my hopes and plans. Of course, this is all dependent on the Lord’s will. As James 4:15 says, “you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'”

Last year’s goals

  • Study Genesis in depth – this goal was mostly met. I read all of Genesis in multiple translations but only completed the in-depth study on the first half.
  • Keep reading the Bible every single morning – success! I think I only missed 3 or 4 days all year. This morning time with God is vital.
  • Start a prayer journal – failed. Completely.

This year’s goals

  • Start a prayer journal. I really need to put a priority on this as I think it will make a huge difference in my prayer life.
  • Memorize 52 verses. I want to memorize 52 different verses of Scripture this year, one each week. That is a doable goal, one that I only need to commit myself to.
  • Increase the amount of time I spend reading the Bible every morning. Most mornings, I read two chapters. This only takes 10 minutes or so. I need to read more each morning and spend more time contemplating God’s word.

image courtesy of stockvault
My 30 day challenge this month relates to this last goal. I have committed to starting the year off with God’s word, reading nothing but God’s word. For the next 30 days, the Bible will be my only book. I really enjoyed my month of nonfiction last month, but I want to spend more time with God. When I start looking around the house for a book to read while I have a few minutes of downtime, I will pick up the Bible. When I read before going to sleep, I will pick up the Bible. I think this challenge will be both difficult and rewarding.

As today is Sunday, it’s time to pick the verse I’ll be memorizing this week.

Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my strength and song

Isaiah 12:2

What are your spiritual goals for 2012?

A month of nonfiction – week 1

In my last Nightstand post, I talked about how December is going to be a month of nonfiction reading. Now that week 1 is complete, I wanted to give a quick update.

Reading nothing but nonfiction is hard! Hubby and I like to read shortly before bed every night. At the end of the day, especially one where I’ve studied Japanese for an hour or two already, the last thing I want is heavy reading. I know not all nonfiction is heavy. It’s just so much easier to curl up with a novel!

So far I’ve read:

Lost in Shangri-La

Vermeer: A View of Delft

Up next:

The Girlfriends Guidebook

Behind the Veils of Yemen
I’ve already started reading The Girlfriend’s Guidebook. It’s a review copy so I’ll have a post about it here when I’m finished. Actually, both of the books next on my list are review copies. Someday I’ll start reading the massive pile of books already stacked up in my spare bedroom!

30 Day Challenges – Recap and December’s challenge

I have finished two 30 day challenges, both of them relatively easy and not much of a “challenge.” First was the Get Dressed challenge. That one went very well and I got into the habit of changing out of my pajamas or workout clothes as soon as possible. I’ve spent the last six weeks wearing skirts and sweaters around the house, being much more presentable on a moment’s notice! It’s been nice and lends itself well to productivity.

My second challenge was to drink more water. This challenge didn’t go as well as my Get Dressed challenge, but it did make me more aware of my water consumption. I don’t drink enough! I’m currently on week 4 of the P90X workout program, plus I run several times a week. With all of the exercise, and living in a very dry state, I don’t drink enough water and am almost constantly dehydrated. November went far toward helping me rehydrate, but I still don’t drink enough several days a week. Thankfully, the challenge helped me to keep water nearby and make sure the water filter remains filled.

For my third challenge, I am choosing something more difficult. For the next 30 days, I will be reading nothing but nonfiction. I mentioned this briefly on my Nightstand post. I read a lot of drivel, or what Charlotte Mason calls “twaddle.” Knowing that, I decided to challenge myself to read nothing but nonfiction for an entire month. My nightstand post outlines what I plan to read but I’ll update periodically as I finish books. I can’t wait to see what things I might learn this month!

I’m brainstorming ideas of what I might challenge myself to do in 2012. I want to keep the challenges somewhat related to homemaking, as that is one of my primary focuses in life. God, my husband, and my home. I want each challenge to improve one of these areas in my life, not just something I do for the sake of doing something. Any ideas? Want to join me on a 30 day challenge?

What’s on My Nightstand? Nothing but nonfiction!

What's On Your Nightstand

Looking over my list this month, I haven’t had very good luck with my selections. Most of the books were mediocre. My best read was a children’s novel!

COMPLETED (links are to my full reviews)

Children’s literature

  • The Time Garden by Edward Eager – 2 stars. I would have loved this book as a child but it just wasn’t good as an adult reader.
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle – 3.5 stars. Great book, would make a good read-aloud. I can’t wait until I have children and can share quality literature with them.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry – 4 stars. My favorite read during the month of November!

Christian Fiction

  • John 3:16 by Nancy Moser – 3 stars. A quick read. I stand by what I’ve said before: her historical fiction is better!
  • Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington – 3.5 stars. A good debut novel. Can’t wait to read more!


  • Fernande: The Story of a Courtesan by Alexandre Dumas – 3.5 stars. A very serious book by the author of The Three Musketeers. Great moral application, still applicable today.

Secular Fiction

  • The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus – 2 stars. I bought it to read on a plane. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
  • My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – 3 stars. This was my first Picoult book. My sister-in-law loves her books so I’m giving the author a try.


  • Lost in Shangri-La (Memoir) by Mitchell Zuckoff – Still working my way through it. It’s a good story but I’m reading it in spurts.
  • Eight Cousins (Children’s Lit) by Louise May Alcott – Almost done! This will be another favorite.

For the month of December, I am tackling something completely different, something very unusual and difficult for me. For 31 days, I will be reading nothing but nonfiction books. Why? I came across a video on TED about 30 day challenges, trying something new for 30 (or 31) days. As evidenced by my list above, I read fiction almost exclusively. It is only recently that I’ve been branching out and reading classics. I decided it’s time I push myself even farther out of my comfort zone and try reading nonfiction only for 30 days.

What’s on my reading list so far:

  • The in-progress books listed above, except for Eight Cousins. I should have that novel finished tomorrow.
  • Behind the Veils of Yemen: How an American Woman Risked Her Life, Family, and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women by Audra Grace Shelby – A review copy that I am very excited to start reading.
  • December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley – A review copy. I had no idea this was such a huge book (544 pages!) until I received it in the mail.
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman – If I am somehow able to finish all the books I am currently reading, plus the two review copies, I will tackle this book.

Whew. I am not going to pressure myself to start and finish all of these books before Christmas. I will do the best I can, but hopefully with the variety I have in my stack, I will not find myself longing for a novel. One can hope!

31 days of nonfiction

Happy December reading!

30 day challenge – water

My first challenge is still underway and going well. I knew starting the challenge that I would have a slight advantage as we were planning a 9 day vacation. When you’re out of town and visiting family and friends, you have no choice but to dress up! I thought that it would be a good start to my challenge and get the ball rolling for getting dressed up at home. So far, so good.

As the Get Dressed! challenge is going well and is almost half over, I decided to start another 30 day challenge and let them overlap. For the month of November, I am concentrating on my water intake. While there are a few days here and there that I drink enough water, most days my water intake is too low. Living in Arizona, that is detrimental to both my exercise routine and my skin’s health.

We own a Brita water filter, so I am going to track my water intake. Various resources have suggested a different recommended water intake. Some said that you should drink (in ounces) your body weight divided by 2. Other calculators suggested I drink 70 ounces of water based on my body weight and activity level. I decided I am going to aim for six of our 12 ounce glasses of water.

So far this month, I’ve been doing well! Yesterday I drank 6.5 glasses of water and today I finished 7. Hopefully this will help my skin and my ability to exercise! Even though it’s a 30 day challenge to drink more water, I am hoping this will jump start a lifelong habit.

30 day challenge – get dressed!

I find it interesting how timing works. You see a mention of something specific in an email and then again a day or so later in a blog post. The two information sources are completely unrelated and yet they mention the same specific idea.

First my brother emailed me this video:

Then, I read a post on The Modest Mom about a 30 day Get Dressed! challenge. What a perfect start to the idea of 30 day challenges. I don’t know about you, but being a housewife and not being required to see anyone most days allows me to dress down as much as I want. Fun, yes. Attractive, no. I spend most days in workout clothes or a denim skirt and t-shirt. I’m sure my husband would appreciate it if I looked nicer!

So, my first 30 day challenge – get dressed! Every day. All day. I will wear a skirt and a sweater/blouse, or a dress, and take a few minutes to style my hair. Some days I’ll even put on some lipstick.

Want to join me?

The Get Dressed Challenge!