Monday, April 30, 2012

April's Reading Challenge Update

More challenge victories -yay reading! Six out of 20 challenges have been successfully completed. Four challenges are over half way completed. The challenges I'm most worried about is the What's in a Name and the Game of Thrones but there is still eight months to go so anything is possible.

I read 10 books this month making my total books read this year 40. That's double the movies I've watched, which is a nice change. That figure is going to drop next month since I rented ten movies for this coming week (the store was moving locations and had a great "help us movie" rental price).

My favourite read and the book I would recommend is In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen. The subject of why and what we eat has interested me for a long time and Pollen's writing enhanced my thoughts and questions on the subject. The other book that got me thinking was M.T. Anderson's cyberpunk dystopia Feed. I would say I enjoyed the book but it was interesting and it brought up ideas and subjects I'm still processing.

1. Name: 2012 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge VICTORY!
Books Read: 6/5

2. Name: Finishing the Series 2012 VICTORY!
Series Read: 4/3

3. Name: Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012
Books Read: 4/12

4. Name: Mount TBR Reading Challenge
Books Read: 7/12

5. Name: 2012 Audio Book Challenge
Books Read: 9/12

6. Name: 2012 Dystopian Challenge VICTORY!
Books Read: 6/4

7. Name: The Reading Challenge Addict Challenge VICTORY!
Completed Challenges: 6/1-5

8. Name: Speculative Fiction Challenge
Books Read: 19/24


9. Name: 1st in a Series Challenge
Books Read: 5/6

10. Name: 2nds Challenge
Books Read: 5/12

11. Name: New Authors Challenge 2012 VICTORY!
New Authors Discovered: 18/15

12. Name: Read the Bible 2012
Books Read: 0/66 -using One Year Bible so far no books finished but keeping up with the daily reading

13. Name: 2012 Young Adult Reading Challenge VICTORY!
Books Read: 12/12

14. Name: What's In A Name 5
Books Read: 1/6

15. Name: All the Books of Pern Challenge 2012
Books Read: 4/6

16. Name: Game of Thrones Reading Challenge 2012
Books Read: 0/5

17. Name: 2012 Women's Murder Club Reading Challenge
Books Read: 4/5

18. Name: 2012 Chunkster Challenge
Books Read: 3/4

19. Name: Tea & Books Reading Challenge
Books Read: 0/2

20. Name: Outdo Yourself 2012
Books Read: 0/11

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Simple Woman Daybook 107

FOR TODAY: April 29, 2012

You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...night

I am thinking...that if May is going to be veggie month I only have tomorrow to really get ready for it.

I am thankful for...friends.

I am wearing...jeans and brown tee.

I am creating...the first strap to a felted purse. It's a big project that I expect to finish this time next year.

I am going...home to sleep soon -I hope.

I am reading...Moreta, Game of Thrones and The Glory Road.

I am wondering...about how to keep myself motivated.

I am hoping...that I'm done with being sick (I slept for 15hrs the other day).

I am looking forward to...sleep.

I am hearing...The Finder

Around the house...about the same. Friend had other plans Friday and things just didn't happen. Didn't help that I spent a few different days in bed sick.

I am pondering...what books to read next.

One of my favorite things...sunrises.

A few plans for the rest of the week:...Life Group Wednesday, youth group Thursday, and GEMS Friday. It's a normal week which should be a nice change.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birthday Joy and Adventures

Another trip around the sun successfully accomplished. To celebrate I decided to start the day with a very early morning adventure. My mission was to watch the sunrise. Picture to the right is from the pre-sunrise waiting. The sunrise was good and so was the rest of the day, full of joy and joyfulness. There were friends and food and surprises and Doctor Who and it ended with Despicable Me.

The whole day reminded how awesome the people in my life are and how blessed I am. Awhile back I read/heard about a woman who was going to try to come up with a thousand things she was thankful for in a year (I don't remember where or when). I thought the idea was neat and decided it would make a good Thankful Thursday challenge. So the quest for a thousand thankful things will begin next week. Should be interesting. It might be a mix of blessings and favourite things. Till then here is a picture account of this mornings adventure:
Some time after 5am Pre-Sunrise Waiting


I forgot I had zoomed in....silly Liz

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Simple Woman Daybook 106

FOR TODAY: April 22, 2012
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Daybook.


Outside my window...night


I am thinking...about chess.


I am thankful for...home.


I am wearing...a flower print skirt with a coral coloured sweater over a green tee but soon I'll be in pajamas.


I am creating...the first strap to a felted purse. It's a big project that I expect to finish this time next year.


I am going...to be up all night.


I am reading...Feed and Game of Thrones and In the Defense of Food


I am wondering...why God gives different people different encounters.


I am hoping...to play board games.


I am looking forward to...supper with the Jenn tomorrow!


I am hearing...a conversation in the other room.


Around the house...I've invited a friend over for supper on Friday the apartment must be will be friend worthy.


I am pondering...food culture vs food science.


One of my favorite things...hugs.


A few plans for the rest of the week:...lunch with the girls, dinner with Jenn and writing group tomorrow, youth group Thursday, oh and my birthday :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ugh! Tissues Are My New Best Friend

There is some type of flu/head-cold miserable sinus plague going around. I got it Friday. I've gone through so many tissues. Part of me wants to continue to whine about it....part of me knows that just wouldn't be fun to read.

I really just wanted to explain the reason for blog-posting hiatus. I had posts were planned for the whole month. Writing was beyond my skills most of the week. I lacked the brain ability to string words together in coherent ways (it would surprise you how long it took to write this short message and now I'm ready for a nap.)

I miss you blog readers :(

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Simple Woman Daybook 105

FOR TODAY: April 15, 2012
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...an empty parking lot

I am thinking...about what games to bring to a friends tonight (so far it's Dominion, Pandemic, To Court the King, and Once Upon a Time), that I think I have a cold (not fun), and that I am frustrated I haven't posted a Wrap Up to Monday's Talking With an Theist. The thing is I don't know how to wrap it up. I think I need Skittles the Candy Rapper to Wrap it Up (a character in High Voltages ministry videos).

I am thankful for...invitations and plans.

I am wearing...a flower print dress with a coral coloured sweater because I was cold.

I am creating...the first strap to a felted purse. It's a big project that I expect to finish this time next year.

I am going...to see The Cabin in the Woods tonight!

I am reading...Feed and Game of Thrones.

I am wondering...why writing a conclusion to the reason to believe discussion has been so difficult.

I am hoping...to nap.

I am looking forward to...a day with the Jenn tomorrow!

I am hearing...footsteps in the hallway (sounds like the title to a horror/thriller).

Around the house...nothing ever changes :(

I am pondering...what to do next.

One of my favorite things...naps.

A few plans for the rest of the week:...movie and games tonight, trip to Halifax tomorrow, games Tuesday, life group Wednesday, youth group Thursday, and GEMS rally on Saturday. We're expecting 100 girls.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday -Dan

I am thankful for...
*Insert Picture Here*

Dan Sparkman

My friend Mark introduced me to Dan at the market in the summer of 2009. I don't think we chatted again till that fall during NaNoWriMo. Dan works at the coffee shop my writing group meets at. Since then our acquaintance has grown to a true friendship. I appreciate any time we get to hang out. He and Manda host wonderful parties and dinners. They are great people. I also love that Dan organizes games nights. Board games are great fun. They would happen less without Dan. Fun story, he commented that he was jealous of Favourite Atheist's title. So, Dan has asked to be my Favourite Heretic. I am not sure how heretical he is...but now I have a Favourite Atheist, Agnostic, and Heretic! It's like I've collected a whole set :)

Back to the Thankful Thursday, Dan is a good friend. He is one of my favourite people and I am thankful to know him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Survivor: One World Week 8

It is nice being right. Last week my prediction was that Michael even though the "plan" was to send home a weak outsider. Jay was wanting to vote out a Manono girl to make the gender numbers equal. That isn't what happened. The girls plotted and lied successfully that lead to Michael being blindsided. The remaining guys are now scrambling to see which alliances still stand.

Survivor Thoughts: Thoughts on "Just Annihilate Them:
  • Kim is playing a strong social and alliance based game. She's made promises to many people which can be good....unless the rest of the castaways think she's being a puppet master.
  • Blindsides are mean and hilarious.
  • Tarzan talking is also hilarious.
Predictions for April 11:
The girl's alliance is the strongest. Unless Jay can win immunity or secure a new alliance with some of the woman on the outside I think he has the greatest chance of going home. The girls might try for Troyzan but I don't think they know he has an immunity idol.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kid's Ministry Resource Dreams

The internet has changed how I prepare for children's ministry on Sundays. It is helpful to discover creative games, crafts, experiments, activities, and lessons. Google has saved me from recreating the wheel many times allowing me to pour my creative energies into other areas. There are also great resources for pastors from training materials to leadership development. There are more sites available than I could ever discover. However, there are times I feel there are gaps in what is available. These are two resources I wish I could find:

1) About a year ago I caught a radio interview with Laurie David about her book The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with our kids, one meal at a time. She talked about the needs for families to make the effort to eat meals together and make those meals special. An example was Friday night's having a question to discuss during the meal that related to something in the news. I would like to see more resources available that take this idea and give families conversation points or activities that relate back to what was taught on Sunday or connected to a family devotional. Some curriculum companies are doing this but few are being intentional about it.

2) The room in my children's ministry meets in matters. The whole space sets the tone. The colours, posters, decorations or lack of these affect the atmosphere which can aid or hinder learning. I love to create decorations that fit the upcoming unit theme. Only some times I'm stumped. I am not sure what to do to make jungle vines or rocket ships. I often search for birthday parties with similar themes to help generate ideas but it's not always enough. I wish there was a database of images like Pinterest for pictures of children's ministry spaces, decorations, and themes. It could include pictures from VBSs, current themes, displays, anything that could help inspire others creativity.

These two resources might exist, I just haven't found them yet. If I was interwebby skilled I might make the second one, but I'm not. Have you seen anything like these dream resources? What would you like available to enhance your children's ministry?

Monday, April 09, 2012

Talking with an Atheist: Reasons to Believe

Why do you believe what you believe?
How did you come to this those conclusions?
What reasons and/or evidence do you have that support these conclusions?

These are important questions that continually come up in my conversations with Favourite Atheist (FA). We talk about my belief in Jesus and his believe that the world is only natural.

I can't remember a time when I did not believe in God. My early beliefs were based on people I trusted teaching me about God and God answering my specific prayers. As I grew I had more experiences that strengthened my belief. These included more answered prayers, the lives of other Christians I respected, my own encounters with God which included a sense that God was calling me to be a missionary. I had questions and doubts. There are still times when I am confused, struggling or doubt. In this instances I pray, read (the Bible, books that agree with my position and even books that disagree) and I found no reason to not believe.

FA's follow up question to my reasons has been, "do you think this enough evidence for me to change my views?" Or the variation "if a Hindu gave you the same reasons to accept their faith would you change your mind?" Similar experiential evidence coming from a person of a different belief would not convince me to reject Jesus (which often feels like I'm failing my friend).

How do I better communicate my reasons for hope? That has been the question on my mind for months. About a year ago I asked FA what would change his mind. He shared this link with me The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists. I wonder if there is something else that he hasn't yet considered that would convince him?

So questions to think about: What do you believe and why do you believe it? Do you think that your reasons should convince someone else, why or why not? And would similar evidence from another faith/view be enough for you to switch your views? If it's not then should your reasons be enough to convince someone else, why or why not? And what would type of evidence would cause you to change your mind about your beliefs?

Thank you for stopping by. I know that is a lot of questions. I'm interested in your thoughts. Please leave a comment answering any of the questions or adding your own thoughts to the conversation and return Friday for the conversation wrap up.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Simple Woman Daybook 104

FOR TODAY: April 8, 2012
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...a winter wonderland....Merry Christmas?

I am thinking...communication, actions, and forgiveness.

I am thankful for...kids.

I am wearing...new black shoes that make me tall-er, new skirt, and a red top.

I am creating...a knit purse that will be felted. It's a big project that I expect to finish this time next year.

I am going...to the Van Meekeren's today

I am reading...Inheritance and Water for Elephants.

I am wondering...about the future.

I am hoping...to nap.

I am looking forward to...seeing The Cabin in the Woods later this week.

I am hearing...the hum of the computer.

Around the house...still much to do, feels like nothing changes.

I am pondering...my reasons for hope and faith in Jesus.

One of my favorite things...talking with friends over tea.

A few plans for the rest of the week:...Easter dinner today, board meeting tomorrow, games Tuesday, youth group Thursday, movies Friday, and I am sure a number of unexpected good things through at the week.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Little Spud Spider

April's National Poetry Month. I was thinking over the poem's I know and the list is very small. The only one I think I could recite is a parody I wrote in grade six. The assignment was to rewrite a nursery theme as a parody:
Little Spud Spider,
Sat on a tire,
Eating some bugs and flies;
A long came a girl,
Which made Spud hurl,
And frightened him far away.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Anticipation

I'm not a horror fan. No where near a fan. I do not watch scary monsters, slashers, gore, ghosts, or anything that goes bump in the night. They scare me and it's just not fun. So the first teaser I saw of The Cabin in the Woods I wasn't interested. I didn't even pay attention. It looked like just another movie about teens getting slaughtered in a forest.

Then I saw a different trailer and something caught my attention. There were hints that more was going on than just another gory blood bath. My interest was piqued. I even decided I'd rent it if the reviews were decent. Then I saw the full preview at The Hunger Games and discovered it was written by Joss Whedon. JOSS WHEDON! To quote a friend "He's the man."

The Cabin in the Woods is now on my top must see movie list. Am I going to be scared? Yes. Will I scream? Probably. Will it be great? It was written by Joss Whedon! It is going to be great and awesome and full of twists and unexpected things...and then more goodness (I hope). My favourite part of the trailer is the eagle flying through the hexagonal grid. I was also excited to see that Fran Kranz who played Topher in Dollhouse is in the movie. So next Friday I am prepared to be scared.

My other great geek discovery of the week is my new favourite youtube channel Geek and Sundry. There are so many reasons to like this channel. They have seasons of The Guild, a weekly vlog by Felicia Day, motion comics, and the fact that the title has the word "sundry" in it. Fun Fact: Sundry was on a vocabulary list at some point in high school and I really liked it. It was put on my mental list of favourite words -for realsies!

The element of Geek and Sundry I already love is Wil Wheaton's Table Top. The site explains the show as "'Celebrity Poker' meets 'Dinner for Five'" with euro-style board games =awesome! The first episode they played Smallworld, which I just learned to play a few weeks ago -very fun. I can't wait for the next episode. I'll share more about the show in the future but this post is about "anticipation" so here is the Table Top preview:
sun·dry/ˈsəndrē/ Adjective: Of various kinds; several. Noun: Various items not important enough to be mentioned individually. Synonyms: various - different - varied - diverse - several - divers

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Hunger Games + Easter?

The Hunger Games seem to be everywhere. A poll my youth group tonight showed more than half have already read or seen the movie. Of those who hadn't most were still planning on seeing the movie and only one person didn't know what I was talking about. It's not surprising that book has sold almost three million copies and the movie was #1 at the box office making $155 million it's first weekend (the third highest weekend of all time). I have wanted to blog about the story and the movie for awhile but this post isn't a review or reaction or even a comparison of the book and movie. It's about youth ministry, Easter, and The Hunger Games.

Tuesday I was searching for activities for youth night (I've added a link at the end to a new game the group loved) when I found this freebie "Sacrifical Love: A Hunger Games Bible Study." It seemed like the prefect bridge into a discussion on Jesus' death and resurrection. The writer compared Katniss' volunteering to take her sister Prim's place in the games to Jesus taking our place and punishment. I tweaked a few of the questions and finished with communion. I was very happy how the night went.

What made the night was the kids answering  "what makes The Hunger Games so appealing?" The answers were very diverse and the conversation flowed well. Someone said the action, another said it is feels real even though it's fiction, someone said it's not the world but it feels like a possible future. Then one of the girls paused and said, "I think it's appealing because of the type of story it is. It reminds me of the stories in the Bible, of how God sent his son to show us his love and to do that he had to be a sacrifice." In my head I was like, "yep exactly I'm just going to read the Bible and pray cause you said it all." We actually moved from that into more question but it made me smile that she made the connection. It was a good night.

How do you feel about taking something "secular" like The Hunger Games and using it to illustrate God's story? Is it useful? Harmful? Over done? Not done enough? Have Christians done it poorly, unfairly, or wrong? These are things I have been thinking about and I wonder what you think about them.

Bonus Fun:
The new game I found is called Ninja. The kids loved it and it followed the best youth ministry advice I ever got (about running games). My first year at the church I was feeling over my head about everything especially finding creative and innovative activities for the youth group. I asked A.J. Thomas for advice and he said something like, "Liz, you're doing it wrong. You have to stop trying to come up with games you think the kids will enjoy. Instead, choose a game that will be hilarious for you to watch because that is the game they are going to love the most." It has proven to be true time and time again. Three-legged, capture the flag, in the dark -Epic! I don't think we've actually done that....hmmm...I know what were doing next week :)

This is a video of kids playing Ninja and then Waa:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Survivor: One World Weeks 6 & 7

Two episodes have aired since my last Survivor prediction. Colton was medically evacuated in episode five. Both tribes were called to a special tribal council where the merge was announced (10 hours earlier than the show had expected.)

Last week was a hilarious adventure in watching the weaker alliance miss the point. There was a lot of blow ups and scrambling by Tarzan and Jonas but it didn't strengthen either their positions.

Survivor Thoughts:

  • Even with Colton gone there will be no end to the social-game drama. Last week it was provided by Tarzan with crazy "you broke our alliance" blow up and "not poopy" underwear incident.
  • Tarzan might be a smart but he seems oblivious to what is going on in the camp or the game.
  • I think Kim is playing smart and the guys, even the ones in her alliance should be worried.
Predictions for April 4:
Tarzan and Leif are on the outside of everything. It would make them seem the likely targets but since the are on the outside I could see the stronger alliances trying to pick of strong players in the middle who think they are safe. With that in mind, I think Michael is in trouble.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Decisions, Plans and Future Posts

Decisions:
  • Veggie month will be May this year. This is partly because of the reasons mentioned earlier (I want ham on Easter and bacon on my birthday) and partly because I hadn't actually realized it was April when I enjoyed a slice of meat lover's pizza -which made April not veggie month.
  • The other big-ish decision, for the blog at least, is I've signed up for another month of NaBloPoMo the blog everyday challenge.
Plans:
  • I am working on a short story. Best Word, the writing group I'm in, is planning on self-publishing a collection of the groups writings. I have till May 28th to finish and edit the story. I'm very excited.
  • The youth group's 3rd Annual Thrift Shop Formal banquet is coming up. Last year's theme was Alice in Wonderland. This year it is a masquerade. At this time by biggest question is "what to feed them and how do I make that special/different?"The first year we did a mystery meal (where they order a list of funny words that include their utensils) last year was a progressive dinner.
  • The other ministry plans are the children's ministries summer backyard clubs. My head is full of thoughts and ideas on how to make our three weeks successful.
  • I want to have a few friends over at the end of the month to celebrate my birthday. The challenge is actually having the space to a point I feel comfortable having people over again....at the moment it feels like the clutter is winning the war and not willing to give up any ground. I have 23 days (and if I have to everything will get crammed into my office and bedroom). More than beating back (getting rid of) all the stuff I want to make the space feel more like me -hang pictures and such.
  • The biggest of my plans is happening in three months. I'm going to be going on a short term mission trip to Central Asia.
Future Posts:

  • Two new Talking with an Atheist questions
  • A review/reaction to the Hunger Games
  • Thoughts on some TV shows I like
  • Relaunch of Rate the Fun board game reviews
  • Ministry resources I wish existed (and maybe do but I haven't found them yet)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Talking with Kids about Talking Donkeys

As a kid's pastor I talk to children a fair bit. I enjoy the interaction (most of the time). I get some of the best quotes because children say some of the most epic of statements. There are these great moments were the kids and me we click and conversations happen, points are made, friendship is born, and life is good. However, there are times when that isn't what happens; there are times when the lesson don't go well...or as planned. Take this past Sunday morning for example.

It was the first service, there were four boys (two set of bothers oldest in grade two the youngest in primary). Since it was Palm Sunday I read Luke's account of Jesus' Triumphant Entry (Luke 19:28-40). I wanted to focus on Jesus' words "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!" I had a few rock activities planned. To lead into the games I asked the boys what happened in the story. There was a long silent pause filled with fidgeting till one boy said that there was a donkey. Someone else added that Jesus asked for a donkey to be brought to him so he could ride it. I asked what happened next and with loud exuberance one of the boys (who hadn't spoken yet) yelled out "THE DONKEY TALKED!"

The donkey did not talk.

I take a deep breath, look at him smile say there was a donkey but he did not talk. And asked what role did the donkey have in the story. I get a few answers, recap what they told me and try to get us the the praising God part by asked again, "So, what happened next?" I was again informed that the donkey talked. In my head I was think "no, that's Balaam's talking donkey found in the Old Testament" but since that had nothing to do with the lesson I re-read the Luke passage jumping to the actual people praise and Pharisees reaction. We talked about what happened: the people blessed Jesus, the Pharisees didn't like it, Jesus didn't tell the people to stop but said that if the people were quiet the rocks would cry out.

With the story finished, I began to get the boys prepared to go outside and collect rocks. When the youngest boy raised his hand and asked, "So, Pastor Liz, when did the donkey talk?"

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Simple Woman Daybook 103

FOR TODAY: April 1, 2012
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...blue skies and sunshine, I am hoping it sticks around all day.

I am thinking...about today's kid's moment object lesson and if I want to add a donkey puppet into the mix.

I am thankful for...hobbies.

I am wearing...the "Catch" theme fisher-women costume which is made up of my brown cord skirt, purple long sleeve tee, fishing vest and finished off with me carrying a fishing pole.

I am creating...the shawl is done! Well the knitting is done. The loose ends need to be sewn in and then it needs to be blocked. Still, the knitting part is done and that is happy. I'm going to cast on a new project this week, just not sure what project yet.

I am going...to be diligent & industrious this week, at least that's the plan.

I am reading...The Sweet Far Thing, Inheritance, The Pursuit of God, and Water for Elephants. I am still working on Almost Christian, Game of Thrones, Sophie's World, Almost Green, and a sci-fiction story a friend loaned but they're all shelved at the moment. Library books take priority.

I am wondering...and dreaming about summer programs and what could make them more successful which means I am having to define what we mean by "success".

I am hoping...not to get fooled today.

I am looking forward to...planning the youth groups third annual thrift shop formal.

I am hearing...the worship team practice.

Around the house...little by little things are improving. I think I am going to try Fly Ladies baby steps again. They were really helping but then I got out of the routine and everything fell a part.

I am pondering...signing up for another month of blog every day. I like blogging and the challenge does keep me focused on actually writing.

One of my favorite things...simple afternoons in the sun with friends.

A few plans for the rest of the week: it just hit me...I'm preaching Friday this is going to be a very busy week!