Seen & Heard: 10 Apps I Use (Nearly) Everyday

I use my phone a lot, for a lot of things, there are many apps that I use everyday and I thought I would share them with you.

10 Android apps that I use everyday or nearly everyday:

Kindle – This is a must have in this household. This app is on all of our devices for reading and the kids also use this for many of their schoolbooks.

Feedly – I love this blog reader and switched to it when Google Reader went away. I use this to read all of the Gospel Coalition blogs, Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, etc. I also have some crafting, organizing and money saving blogs that feed here, but I don’t read them much right now. 🙂

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Amazon MP3 – I used to buy all my music on iTunes, but now everything is in the Amazon cloud. I use this in the house with my bluetooth player and in the car through auxiliary port. Many a calming moment provided here!

Facebook – For a while I deleted this one, I prefer to not make it easy to be distracted by Facebook. I finally just turned off notifications so that I wasn’t constantly being pulled back in.

Runkeeper – There are probably better running apps, but this one has kept all my runs and walks since I started running so I like to keep using it.  It is also tracking how many miles I’ve gone in my running shoes since I got those at about the same time! 🙂

Expensify – I love, love, LOVE this app. It’s probably not useful to anyone else, but it allows me to take a picture of receipts and turn in all of the items I purchase for the church.  This little app saves me a huge amount of time.  I’ve taught Katie Ann how to use it too, so when we are at the store I run the church purchase first and she records the purchase while I complete our personal order.  Once a month, I go online to their website and turn in all our expenses, quick and easy! YAY! (There was underground chatter about discontinuing the use of this program at church, much moaning and groaning came from me about this so I’m going to put in one more, I LOVE EXPENSIFY, just for good measure!)

Cartwheel – Oh my. I just discovered this app. It’s a terrible app for saving money because it makes shopping at Target like a game for me and I just want to go spend more so I can earn more dumb badges in Cartwheel.  All of that to say: I really like this fun app!

Goodreads – I had hoped that when Amazon bought Goodreads we would see some better cross-app integration, but alas – we have not.  Never the less, I do enjoy being able to go on my phone and update where I’m at in books and see what my friends (my daughter) are reading. This app helps keep me on track for my 2014 booklist.

YNAB – This is for the You Need A Budget budgeting program that we’re trying out.  It’s still not a perfect fit, but I like their app because you can see how much money you have in each category while you’re out and about spending money! This assumes you’ve updated your bank account and budget recently, which is something I TRY to do everyday, but I’m not always on top of it.  It’s a pretty app.

Path – I use Path a decent amount of time. I’d use it more if it’s notifications worked properly and I actually knew when I had new content. We use this privately for my parents and my siblings that have moved away. This is where all the pictures and topics that we don’t want everyone in the world’s 25 cents about. It works well for this, but like I said, I’d be closer to my family if it would tell me my niece or my brother posted.

One of my very favorite apps is my alarm clock. I don’t know if it’s the one that comes with my phone or what, but it just works great. Goes off every morning without fail! Go figure! 🙂 No, but really, it’s easy to set alarms and easy to use. You can even set it to make you do a puzzle in order to turn it off, ha ha!

I also use Brightest Flashlight, messaging program and navigation a lot, but those aren’t worth mentioning, except I just did.

One app that I do not use, but would love to is Gqueues. I use their website everyday, all day, to keep track off all the different things I’m doing. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to pay the $25.00 a year it takes to be able to use their app. The app would be the only reason I’d be upgrading, that’s a $25.00 app that expires! Yikes!

What are your favorite apps?

Happy Friday!

The Church Planting Wife – Chapters 5 & 6

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Chapter 5: The Sacrificial Heart

In chapter five, the focus is to be willing to be spent, to serve others and “eradicating pride.” Here are some quotes that give insight into the chapter:

“Am I willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?” – Oswald Chambers

“My greatest ongoing struggle as a church planting wife has been primarily with myself.”

Some personal thoughts spurred:

People will often say to me, you’re the pastor’s wife, you shouldn’t be doing this or that. This is actually a boost to my resolve that I must continue doing what I’m doing, I must serve all the more. If I, as a pastor’s wife, will not serve, then I’m worthless for the work of the Lord.

There’s a lot of serving behind the scenes as a pastor’s wife; that hasn’t proved to be my problem.  I’m good at that, I’ve done it for many, many years.  What’s proved difficult is serving not in my strength, but in my weakness.  For me, putting myself out there, reaching out, doing the up front jobs, puts me in a place of having to depend on, trust in and rely on God like never before. Serving out of weakness has stripped me of my strength so that I have no other choice but to throw myself on God’s mercy and ask that He might work in and through me.

Chapter 6: The Faithful Heart – Forsaking Fear

This chapter goes right along with the lessons I’m learning about serving in weakness, being fearless and trusting God.  It talks about being out there, planting a church, safety harnesses gone. This can be a fearful place to be, going out on a limb for God. Christine challenges:

“When we fight to stay in certain and controlled circumstances, seek comfort over discomfort, or need a fully mapped out plan, can we even claim faith in God at all?”

Personal thoughts:

Fear spreads, fear can be sensed and felt. Fear says, “God, I do not believe you are enough for this.” Faith spreads, faith can be sensed and felt. Faith says, “God, I know that I’m not enough, but I believe you are more than enough for this.”

These two chapters were timely and further cemented the lessons God is teaching me right now.  Fear leads to partial obedience (disobedience!), a plan B that seeks to take God’s will and tweak it to our strengths so we don’t have to rely fully on Him.  I’m tired of serving in weakness, but my aim is to be spent in the service and glory of Him and doing this means I must be fully obedient.

Living fearless, transferring my fear of circumstance into a fear of God, that’s what I seek.

Seen and Heard: 3 Things in 3 Days

Three days into the New Year!

1.SOMETHING NEW: I learned something on New Years Eve, if you say you want to go to bed early, you should specify how early. A certain man in my home went to bed at 9:15 and that made me very discouraged.  I watched Monsters University and then headed to bed myself. Happy New Year! :/

2. SOMETHING BORROWED: I sent my husband on a personal retreat to pray and plan for the new year. He was there only ten minutes before he called and asked if I wanted to join him. 🙂  Our dear friends gifted him with a beautiful room that turned out to be an excellent workspace with plenty of room.  I sent along some good books for inspiration, a couple of personal notes and this list by Kevin DeYoung. The list has useful questions like this: “Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?”

While he’s gone I have the job of entertaining the teenagers after the youngers go to bed. They just sat there looking at me so I decided to learn how to play their game:

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3. SOMETHING READ: My 2014 book reading plan is in full force right now, I’m currently reading through a couple of great books and thought I’d share quotes from each, but there wasn’t really anything quotable in them, so here are some thoughts:

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung: He sounds a lot like my husband. Driven, doing many things at once and not daunted by the many tasks coming at him at once. I figured it would be best to read this one at the beginning of the year in case it had something useful in it, rather than getting more Crazy Busy and then back tracking.

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax: I have hopes for this book. I am skeptical that a writer of theology can write a good novel.  Is that terrible? I am. Skeptical I mean, but I’m probably terrible too. After reading part of the first chapter I went back and read all of the good reviews of this book just to remind myself that this is going to be great, really great!

The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover: I’ll be blogging on these next 2 chapters (5&6) as this continues to be a good book. This book, along with a study of Judges I’m doing, along with one other thing I can’t remember right now, all talked about full obedience to God without making a plan B out of fear. 3 (or maybe 2?) of the same messages in the same week,things that make you go: hmmmm.

Judges for You by Tim Keller: My sister and my husband both say if Tim Keller writes it, you should read it. I read his book Galatians for You and loved it, this one looks to be the same. I have only read the introduction, but I’m doing the study guide in preparation for our women’s study this February. This is good stuff. I bought a stack of books and poured and prayed over all of them and this one floated to the top.  I’m already learning from it as I shared in the previous section above. Tim Keller = Good Stuff

Systematic Theology by, Wayne Grudem: I read the 1st chapter this week, which means I’m ahead of my schedule! 🙂 This one is going to be good, I already know that. For the first chapter this was an application question that jumped at me:

What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer?

Well… I have lived this. As a teen and young adult it made me very frustrated to be in a system that didn’t teach systematic theology. Not that I knew what that was, but I was always discouraged when older christians and pastors would talk about the apostles creed and various doxologies because they had been taught them in church as children. Here I was in a system that didn’t believe in teaching such things and yet I was surrounded by older christians who had benefited from systematic theology, catechisms, creeds, etc.  I didn’t know where to obtain such information, my parents were not saved as children and were also trained in the same system.  As I began to have my own children and sought to rectify this situation, I found the pertinent information very difficult to find.  It wasn’t until I reached beyond my borders, went into forbidden territory, that I found the information I had been seeking for a large part of my life. To be sure, there were a great many blessings that overshadow that portion of my experience, but that was what I experienced and how I answered that application question.

Al Mohler has a good article out today on reading books: Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books.

Ok. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past 3 days, a lot of planning, preparing, cleaning up… We’re back to school on Monday!

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard: A Year of Grace & Stashing Treasures

There are so many things that happened in this past year that can’t be spoken about yet. The situations are too fresh, too near, so – unresolved. These things can be wrestled with, spoken about, cried over, before God in prayer. I think that’s the way He plans it. Quiet dependence on Him.

January

18120This year was definitely a lesson in dependence and 30 days into it, I was already Arguing with the Almighty.  My family dynamic had changed, the neat and tidy had been thrown off and I was struggling to line all my ducks up in a row again. I never did get those ducks lined up, but I learned a lot through that trial/blessing.

T&J

February
The stress of 2013, the decisions to be made, huge, greater than us, philosophical, moral, life-altering decisions had to be decided and we didn’t always see eye to eye. February 14 rolls around and a day that’s supposed to be full of love – wasn’t. Learning to live out Marriage in the Trenches was difficult, 2013 marks our hardest year of marriage so far.

March
FAMILYWORSHIPBy this time, we had started to gain our bearings a bit. Books certainly have an impact on me and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together made huge impact in how I view community and family life.  Out of it came the Family Worship Experiment, a practice that didn’t stick, due to life schedules, but was fruitful in the trying and I suspect will surface again.

April
Some time in April, I joined a book club. I’ve never been in a book club before, this one was good for me, until I made the mistake of reading someone else’s blog post on a chapter before I read it. It was talking about making furniture out of leather. That was more than I could bear, I’ve made unblogged progress in this book, but sadly, it is on the 2013 unfinished books list. I’ll finish it, I will, it’s too good not to.

Mayjojo
I was still reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking in May, blogging through chapters 3 & 4, who knew there was a Hidden Art of Doodling Prayer? This really was a good exercise for me, blogging through that book, maybe I’ll pick it up in 2014.  A better picture of what has had an impact on my own life and more specifically in 2013 is the post Child-rearing: It Takes Community. A special thank you to those very important adults who have impacted and poured into my children.

When your child hits a wall and turns their ears from you, when there is no way to get in, get through, make way. Then, friendship steps in, community steps in, life on life daily living kicks it up a notch and makes paths where the brush and weeds and thorns were too thick to pass through.

June
wpid-2013-06-11-16.56.08.pngAre you tired yet? It was tiring to live this year! We celebrated 15 years of marriage in June, moved in June, our hearts broke in June, I can only pray that in time God will restore and heal all broken things. So Life Goes On…

So I take my boxes and those dear to me and I venture out with all the exhilaration and hope that comes with new life. A fresh start. With all confidence in the One who has been faithful, and will be faithful again, I smile.

I embrace the future.

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In July the struggled continued. 2013 was a year of changes and rediscovering who we were. It was as if the rug was pulled out from under us and we just couldn’t gain a steady footing. These two posts this month are very dear to me. One was the passing of a dear girl Amanda Wright and the other was regular life with kids, but as I look back now I see that we were making specific and pivotal decisions during this time that we’re reaping the blessings from now. God does that, He takes you through the pain to bring you to the joy, sometimes it just takes time.

August
I was studying for our Women’s Conference in August and I had biblical womanhood on my mind in The Old Worn Soapbox.  Being on the other side, I find myself tired of talking about this. We’ve gone through the teaching stage for now, it’s time to start living some of these things. I’ve been praying about how to provide opportunities for women to live out their call  in the body. We’ve made progress, God’s not done with this yet.

September
wpid-20130906_151341.jpgGuess What? In September, I posted my first Seen & Heard post. They’ve come to be my favorite, I love to act silly and say whatever I want in them. Sometimes I have too much to say because something has gotten me all fired up, but mostly I try to keep them light and funny and not LONG like this one. I also began blogging through The Church Planter’s Wife, a book that has been good for me, another book not completed in 2013. (Grace, Grace!)

October
I began blogging twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays in October. Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of Julee in a week. I have to live with me all the time so just be glad you can close your browser and walk away.  There were funny moments of Identity Crisis, moments where God spoke in A Still Small Voice, just reading books with the kids in Wrapped up in Rhymes, there were even battles over Halloween. The instance that had the greatest impact on me and greatest response from women was A Call to Connect where I discovered: “It’s possible to crave community yet also crave privacy.” I learned that it’s ok to have a small circle I’m close to, I don’t have to extend deep friendship to every person that seeks it. I scratched the surface on a topic (friendship) that is the cause of ache and hurt in  many women, it was interesting to see the response.

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We’ve almost made it through the year. If you’ve made it this far in this post, you’re a trooper. I honestly don’t expect you to read the linked posts (Not even my husband or my mother would do that), but it’s been a great exercise for me to look back through this lens of written word. I can see God’s hand in all of these difficult days and in the great days too. November 2013 brings a look at my Unconventional Life a dream In Visions and Dreams that I thought was for one situation, but as it played out, was for another situation.

I also wrote about The Dark Thoughts of  a Mother, I understand not everyone has been to this place, which is why it needs to be written about. If you haven’t parented a child like this, you just can’t know what it’s like. I wanted to give the mothers that have, some relief.

December
I wrote two posts in December about a boy who was killed for his faith. I understand that a rich christian man losing his reality TV show job is more important, but this still burns in my heart. Dear America, This is Not a Game and Dear America, Actually  were like the Dark Thoughts of a Mother post, me saying what I really think and have lived. Both posts were misunderstood by some, that’s ok.

I wish I could say that at the end of all of these 2013 posts, I didn’t need to write and work through ObSoLeTe – The Pain in December, but I did. There are still pictures and Facebook posts and memories that remind me of the sting. It is what it is. My prayer is still this:

And I know I shouldn’t care
If I’m out or if I’m in
Cause if I am dismissed
Oh you always take me in

Take me in God. Take me in and shield the pain of what was, the pain of what could have been. Take me in to the next year and close the chapter on all that once was.

Take me in your love and heal me, make me new.

After writing that post, it stings less, just a bit less. Most the time.

On to 2014
Congratulations! You made it to the end! Now it’s time to start 2014! I’ve gone back and forth about studying the book of Nehemiah this year, but after writing this wrap up, I see that it’s time to begin purposefully rebuilding the city.One foot in front of the other, here we go. We go with grace, hope and peace – We go with God.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

 (Psalm 91:1-2, ESV)

Celebrating Christmas in Books

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I know I’ve written about books recently, but I just love them.  I’m not supposed to be using this arm and typing, but I can’t stay out of the game of life forever.

I’m gearing up for Christmas and that means checking out our Christmas Book Basket.  We like to spend time each day, as often as we can in December, reading from a selection of good books. I think it’s a great way to keep the season focused on the right things and a great way to disciple our children. Have you discovered that yet? Things that can’t be retained through teaching and lectures can be gently formed in minds by reading a book. Don’t overlook this powerful tool in the lives of those around you.

Here are some books I’m looking at for this season, as well as some that we already have and love.  I wish Amazon (or anyone) would cooperate and allow me to show book covers here, but they do not. So, I’ve linked to them on Amazon for your convenience below and also made a page on Goodreads.

Considering this Year:

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas: I’ll be reading through this book in the month of December.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna: Ann Voskamp recommended this one, we shall see if I buy it.

The Christmas Thingamabob: Looks like an easy read, written by Mark Dever so it should be quality content.

A Better December: This is what caught my eye about this one: “A Better December is an ideal gift book for non-Christian friends and neighbors with a gradual, non-threatening introduction to the gospel.” That could be taken for good or bad.  Great to have a gospel gift to give to unbelievers, although I’m not always concerned about the gospel being non-threatening. What is more threatening than hell fire? This one will take some looking into.

Why Christmas? – We have the Why Easter? book in this series. This one is $1.99 in Kindle format!

Family Books

Christmas Tapestry: My good friend Linda gave us this book last year and we LOVED it. Read it more than once and made sure Dad read it too. Great book!

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent,Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent,Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent: We love all of these, we’ve yet to finish any of them, but they are a family favorite every year. We like to read this right before bed in December. We light candles, read a chapter and the kids take turns each night lighting and blowing out the candles and praying for the family.

Elementary Books

Silent Night: The Song and Its Story

A Christmas Carol (picture book edition): This is a beautiful copy of this story, that we really enjoyed.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger: Bright and cheery, we had fun with this one!

Books for Olders

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas A daily advent reading that my Jr. Highers read through last year. This would be good for any adult too.

C Is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ’s Birth: Great informative book on various topics of Christmas, kind of like a Christmas dictionary.

The Battle for Christmas (Vintage): This one also discusses various Christmas traditions, more history book than dictionary. Go to Goodreads with this one, it’s an interesting read about the puritans, but some didn’t make it to the end. 🙂

A Christmas Carol: A classic!

I’m sure there will be many more when I pull out all of our Christmas stuff, but this is enough to get planning. Josiah had a big chest that said Merry Christmas on it last night at Hobby Lobby, he wanted to buy and I said what for? 🙂 This might be just the thing.

Do tell me, PLEASE, what books your family enjoys at Christmas?

Seen & Heard – Reader’s Edition

Briana Simmons

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but she’s my dear cousin. Isn’t she cute? She likes to read so it kinda fits in with the theme. Actually, we read many, many of the same books growing up and passed novels all the time. Forget this caption, this picture totally applies!

Have you started on your 2014 reading list yet?

Crickets chirping…

I suppose I am the only one who does this, beginning in October!  Goodreads was the best invention ever, I think it could be made better, but it does it’s job adequately enough. I was going to write a post about writing your 2014 booklist for our church blog, but I changed to another topic instead.  By the way, when I posted my Take Your Parents to Church! article, my husband said it was better than my post for the church. I asked him why he didn’t say so when I asked him how it was?! He replied: “Well, you can’t really tell someone to re-write their entire blog!”  Now, I know that there should have been a black eye after this comment, but I remained very calm and replied: “You could have said to write more informally.” To which he replied: “Oh, yeah, well anyways, I really liked your Take Your Parents to Church post.” Thank you. I think.

Tangent done. Don’t you just love Friday posts? Don’t answer that.

2014 Booklist:

  1. Get a Goodreads – everyone’s doing it.
  2. Create a shelf called 2014 Reading List
  3. Think hard, look broadly, search for good books on VARIOUS categories. In 2013, I tried to read a biography, a book on marriage, a book on parenting, a theology book, a book on community etc. The key is to plan ahead so that you aren’t just reading Harry Potter all year long.
  4. Don’t be a slave to your list and feel free to change your list if you want throughout the year. Otherwise, it’s not any fun. Being a slave to a booklist is not fun.
  5. Read! I don’t finish my list, ever. In 2012 my list was titled: 2012 To Read List – Not Possible.
  6. I don’t suggest starting too many books at once, but right now I have 7 books going. That’s too many for me.

Books I Read in 2013

  1. The Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler – LOVED this book. I’m still thinking back on it all the time and I’ll read this one again.
  2. Life Together – This was a life changer for me. By the way, we don’t have a clue what community, real community is about.
  3. Holiness – I read this and you know what is funny? I have NO IDEA what it was about. I think I liked it, I think it was a little bit difficult for me… wish I remembered..
  4. Washington: A Life – I haven’t finished this one, but I am really enjoying it.

That’s all. 4. I read other books, but they weren’t on my booklist so I won’t mention them here.

2014 is coming, time to start looking!

Oh, need a recommendation on where to find good books? Tim Challies writes book reviews, I’m pretty sure he reads books in his sleep. For a while, I banned him from my life because I believe he has an unnecessary bias against homeschooling and large families, he tends to stereotype in that area. However, I really can’t live without him so I look past that… until he writes a new unwarranted post about it!

Happy Friday!

Seen and Heard – Wrapped Up In Rhymes

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But all this success didn’t go to his head,
He remained very modest and humble instead.
For rabbits you see aren’t affected by fame,
No matter what happens they’re always the same.

Bill Peet, in Huge Harold

When I was growing up, my mother loved books. This is ironic since she doesn’t enjoy reading, but I somehow inherited my love for books and reading, from her. We were frequent visitors to the local library that I now take my own children to.  She even owned a homeschool bookstore, books have certainly been a large part of my life. I do love them so.

One day, I realized my 3 year old wasn’t being read to like the other kids had been and I set out to remedy the situation. As I’ve taken time to sit down and read some old favorites by Bill Peet, I’ve found myself slowly surrounded by all of my 6. I wasn’t expecting this result at all. My mom once told me that there needs to be times when we’re just sitting and being still so our children can find us and interact with us. This theory has certainly proven to be true in this book reading scenario. Today, as I finished the book Kermit the Hermit, I was rewarded with the news that I had put Hosanna to sleep! Reading aloud is going to be practiced regularly!!!

Remember the article from Practical Shepherding last week? Well, they furthered the discussion and got more, you guessed it, PRACTICAL this week. Here is the next article, How Do You Train Stay At Home Moms to Minister to Elderly Widows. Creative with the titles, I know.

 

Happy Friday!