Sunday, May 31, 2009

Slavery = Freedom


In these verses:
Crimson - represents luxury, wealth, easy-living
Yoke - represents servitude, self-denial, hard work

When it is put that way, I'd rather have a yoke in my youth than to be established in crimson. This is a good argument for why parents should not hand everything to their kids on a silver platter; why a life of simplicity, hard work, and godly learning will go much farther than any other parenting method. Of course, I've only been on the receiving end of parenting so I'm no expert.
Hebrews 12:5-11

*I've been learning a lot about the life of Moses in preparation for camp and I just found some verses that correlate closely with the thought of having a yoke in ones youth (See Deuteronomy 8:2-5.) It gives the reason for the 40 years of wandering. It was to be a discipline for the rising generation, a preparation to their entrance into the Promised Land.

On the same topic, but a slightly different vane:
There are two types of yokes. We all bear one or the other; bearing neither is not an option. The first type is satan's yoke. It is the yoke of slavery to our sins and the subsequent guilt we bear. This is the yoke that God seeks to free us from. (See Leviticus 26:13, Jeremiah 30:8,9, Lamentations 1:14) Then there is Christ's yoke. This is the yoke of slavery to Him. (See Matthew 11:29,30)

Who usually carries a yoke? Oxen, yes. And slaves. God calls us to be slaves. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? Many translations use the word servant because it sounds less discordant and more tactful. Readers today associate the word slave with 19th century slavery where brutal treatment and loss of life was commonplace. But when striving to understand the Bible, we must define terms using only the Bible and not our own conceptions of its terminology. In Biblical times, slaves were treated very humanely. They were given a Sabbath's rest and also given the major festivals and feast-days off (by the way, there were a TON of festivals.) In addition, every seven years, all the slaves were to be set free and their debts forgiven.

There were different types of slaves. Slaves captured in war, those serving to pay off a debt of theft, poverty (using your own life as collateral for debts - indentured servants), serving in order to earn something desired (example: Jacob serving for Rachel), and then the ultimate slavery: bondslaves, which were not set free every seven years. This is the concept is introduced in Exodus 21. A bondslave made a willing choice to enter into a lifetime of servitude. The motivating factor was to be love - love for the master and the family that may have been acquired while in servitude. (See Exodus 21:5) This is the kind of slavery that God has called us to, just as Christ exemplified. He calls us to be willing slaves, motivated by love.

CHRIST - our example
  • Philippians 2:5-7 - Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a slave, and was made in the likeness of men.
  • Psalm 40:6 - Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened*; burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (*this is a reference to the practice of driving an aul through the ear of a declared bondservant. See Exodus 21:6)

  1. I am 20 and 2/3 years old. In 4 months and 3 days, I will be 21. As far as Lamentations 3:27 goes, I'm pretty much out of my youth. I'm pretty certain it was referring to childhood. However, that doesn't mean I can't still learn lessons of servitude and hard work. It will just be a bit harder to ingrain them into my life until they become habitual. Thankfully, I had great parents who taught me a lot. But there's always more to learn. I'm hoping that I am still youthful (and teachable) enough to learn the valuable lessons to be gained from a yoke of servitude.
  2. I want to be a bondservant to Christ. I want my yoke to be Christ's yoke. That's what Mary the mother of Christ chose when she willingly accepted the humiliation and potential death that came with being pregnant out of wedlock. That's what Christ chose by surrendering all to the Father. I want to DELIGHT to do His will, motivated by love. This is true freedom. Bondservant to Christ = Freedom. It appears to be a paradox. Yes.

*Make Me a Captive, Lord - Hymn #568
George Matheson (1842-1906)

Make me a captive, Lord
And then I shall be free
Force me to render up my sword
And I shall conqueror be
I sink in life's alarms
When by myself I stand
Imprison me within Thine arms
And strong shall be my hand

My heart is weak and poor
Till it a master find
It has no spring of action sure
It varies with the wind
It cannot freely move
Till Thou has wrought its chain
Enslave it with Thy matchless love
And deathless it shall reign

My will is not my own
Till Thou has made it Thine
If it will reach a monarch's throne
It must its crown resign
It only stands unbent
Amid the clashing strife
When on Thy bosom it has leant
And found in Thee its life

*Additional thoughts on the topic that were added later
**Also, if you want a more concise post on this topic, you can visit John Howe's post entitled Slavery.

Feeling Burly?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Journal How-to (plus quite a bit more)

I journal. You may wonder how I have anything left to say, seeing as how I blog so much. Well, that's a good point. I guess I just have lots of thoughts and need multiple avenues in which to express them.

I've had five journals throughout my lifetime (I just started on the sixth), some more well-kept than others. I have them all stashed away in my "treasure chest". I flip through them every once in a while when I'm home and trying to get rid of things. It's neat to go back in time and see what was on my mind, my worries, my joys, my life. I've always had this odd habit of naming my journals. I'm not sure why.

I started my first one, which I named Daily Nicole, on December 29, 1998. I was 10 years old. Odd name, I know. There's history behind it, if you ever want to know. I just found a funny entry written in November of 2000:
"Joel is the best.
He's my best friend.
He's so cool!"
Lol, it makes me laugh. I was a loving sister (at times).

My next journal was started on August 9, 2002 at 11:49 pm and I named it Garfield. Aptly named because it was bright orange and had a cut-out picture of Garfield on the front. I wrote something interesting in the front that I had forgotten about. Here's what I said: "Note to my family: If anything happens to me, go ahead and read my journals. My prayer is that you will get a better look at what is/was going on in my life and how I have drawn closer to my Savior. Your dearest daughter, sister, and friend, Christy Joy Kurtz." Interesting, very interesting. I'm surprised I said that!

The next one was started on August 20, 2003 at 1135 hours. I named it Pickle. Aah, I crack myself up sometimes. I mean, really, pickle!? What in the world!? I think it was because the pages were a nice bright green color. Funny, funny.

The next one is the huge leather one. I started to get into the habit of putting notes, pictures, and other mementos into my journals and that's what made it so thick. I began it on February 5, 2006 at 1124:22 hours. Unfortunately, I don't think I ever named it. Sad, I know. I don't know why, guess I just never thought of a name that was good enough.

My next one was named Blue Belle and began on September 17, 2008 at 0450:38 hours at the Front Desk of Thatcher. I got really attached to this journal because it represents an incredible amount of spiritual growth in my life. I would frequently write out favorite Bible verses, Ellen White quotes, and sermon notes. I finished it on May 12, 2009 at 0821:05. I was loathe to put it aside because I love going back and looking at lessons I've learned. I have to relearn them so many times and I find I learn from my mistakes better if I've written them down.

The whole reason I started posting this blog was to post the pictures of my newest journal. Sorry, I guess I got distracted reminiscing. I've been wanting to make a nice reusable leather cover to go over a standard sized blank book but I had planned to do that up at camp and I needed a new journal sooner. So I was trying to figure out what to do and I didn't want to go spend any money. While going through my stuff, I found a not-so-visually-appealing blank book on my shelf. Here's what I did next:

I didn't think to take a picture before I started my project but you can see the fabric that I tore off of it in the first picture below. Yeah, it wasn't so cool. But I got to thinking that maybe I could recover it! I pulled out a pair of shorts that I grew out of but was saving because I wanted to use the fabric in a jean quilt that I plan to make some day when I have time. (lol) By sewing together some different parts of the shorts, I was able to make a cover for the book. I then used a hot glue gun to glue it on. The coolest part is that there is a neat pocket on the front where I can keep my nice pens. Plus, I think it makes it look unique.

I know you're all dieing to know what I named it! lol. Well, the front pocket has "UB-10" stitched into it because the shorts were by a brand of clothing called Union Bay. So I decided that would be the name of this journal: UB-10. Haha, I know, it's weird, but I thought it kinda sounded cool. Like I was a scientist naming a newly discovered star or some other celestial body. I started UB-10 on May 12, 2009 at 0915:58.

1. The original fabric that I tore off
2. Blank book without the original fabric
3. My cool shorts that no longer fit but whose fabric is going to a really awesome purpose!

4. The finished product. Yay!

Well, I know you got more than you bargained for if you read all that and I won't blame you if you decided to skip most of it. But I had a nice walk down memory lane. Memory lanes are funny things, though, they only mean something to those who have a vested interest in the memories.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

in search of sunlight, harmony, and pain

Location: Howe Residence, Long Reach, Maine
Time: May 22-25
Why: For adventures, friends, harmony, awesome food, new experiences, memories, and, oh yeah, running. Lots and lots of running. Between Barry, Joel, and I, we logged 1, 103 minutes and 6 seconds of running. That's over 18 hours. (That's where the pain part comes in.)

(I love the greys in this picture. It's dark, foreboding, and yet still incredibly peaceful and beautiful)

[Before the start of Joel's 50 k (30 mi) trail race]

[Barry with 71 k down (44.4 miles) and 9 k (5.6 miles) left to go. Yeah, in case you were confused by all those numbers, that is a long ways. 50 miles to be exact. And he's smiling!?!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

From Me to You!

I wish you could all be here to smell the lilacs with me. They're my favorite.

Or to take a rainy days walk with me

Or discover mossy and sun splashed rocks that we can sit on and ponder the world

or do silly things with little kids

I wish you were here to notice the little things

the big things

the hidden things

and the beautiful things

Wish You Were Here!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In memory of...

Photo 128

Photo 125

I found my dear Sarasa pen this past semester at Southern. It was lonely, so I gave it a home. It has been a wonderful pen to me. In fact, I don't think I've ever had another so fine. I managed to keep track of it all semester and I enjoyed its easy-flowing nature. Lately, it has been my companion as I attempt to condense one hundred and twenty years of Moses' quite eventful and exciting life into 5 days of camp.

My pen wrote its last today. I realized it was nearing the end when its normally abundant ink-line began to look rather emaciated and pitiful. Its final word? - "Manna."

But I think it has enough juice left to squeak out one last word. Let's see if it does....


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wretch and a Savior

i'm just a person. i'm human. i make mistakes. i'm stupid and dumb and awful. leave me to my sin. condemn me. throw the first stone. go ahead, i deserve it. i'm a wretch. the most wretched of sinners. it is true; they tell no lies. i deserve to die. i deserve their remarks. i deserve their criticism, verbal jabs, and insults. That's right, throw them at me. like emotional barbs they hit their mark. i'm bleeding. bleed on. i'm hurting. hurt on. leave me to my pain. or finish me off, either one. it won't matter. i'm dust. the scum of the earth. mud. unfit to shine your shoes. kick me harder, why don't you? or better yet, just leave. go live your perfect lives. because i am dust. i am nothing worth your time. i am a sinner. i deserve to die. i am like balaam. i am like judas. i say i am good, i say i am holy, but we both know i am lying. I, christy, am evil at heart. I can do no right. there is no good in me. I am powerless. my humanity stares back at me like a ghostly, horrific image.

I see sandaled feet next to me. i'm scared now. my defiance falters. will they just finish me off quickly. or will they continue to throw the stones. is this how i am to end? but then a hand reaches down, rough but gentle. he's lifting me up. what is this? another trick? i'm done with tricks. i'm done with deception. i'm ready to face my fate. i deserve it. i know who i am and what i've done. i admit it all, no need to convince me. leave me to my fate. just let me go. will he spit on me? that's what i deserve. will he hit me? go ahead, it's nothing new.

my eyes are still on his sandaled feet. they are worn and dusty. he must walk a lot. those aren't the shoes of a wealthy man. they've seen hard times, i can tell. and then he's lifting my chin. it's dirty, streaked with tears. but he's touching it gently, with no anger or threat. what does he want? i have nothing to give. truly, there is nothing left. i am empty inside. it has all been given away. then i meet his gaze and all my thoughts stop. his eyes are kind. i have not seen kind eyes in years now. but there is more. his eyes hold power. a good power, not evil like the rest of them.

"And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'LIVE!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'LIVE!' ...Then I washed you in water, yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. ...Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God." -Ezekiel 16:6,9,10,14


I am dirt, but my God is greater
I sin, but my God is greater
I mess up, but my God is greater
I fall down, but my God is greater
I am a wretch, but my God is greater
I deserve to die, but my God is greater

I am a liar, but my God is truth
I am not enough, but my God is more than enough
I am selfish, but my God is selfless
I am empty, but my God is overflowing
I am dead, but my God is ever-living
I am filthy, but my God is pure
I am loveless, but my God is love
I am lost, but my God is the Way
I am nothing, but my God is everything
I am worthless, but my God is more than worthy

I am scarred, and my God is scarred too

John 14:18 - "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you."


Equally Skilled
Jon Foreman

How miserable I am
I feel like a fruit picker who arrives after the harvest
There's nothing here at all
Nothing at all here that could placate my hunger

The godly people are all gone
There's not one honest soul left here on the planet
We're all murderers and thieves
Setting traps here for even our brothers

And both of our hands
Are equally skilled
At doing evil
Equally skilled
At bribing the judges
Equally skilled
At perverting justice
Both of our hands
Both of our hands

The day of justice comes
And is even now swiftly arriving
Don't trust anyone at all
Not your best friend or even your wife

For the son hates the father
The daughter despises even her mother
Look! Your enemies are right
Right in the room of your very household
And both of their hands
Are equally skilled

No, don't gloat over me
For though I fall, though I fall
I will rise again
Though I sit here in darkness
The Lord, the Lord alone
He will be my light.

I will be patient as the Lord
Punishes me for the wrongs I've done against Him
After that He'll take my case
Bringing me to light and to justice
For all I have suffered

And both of His hands
Are equally skilled
At ruining evil
Equally skilled
At judging the judges
Equally skilled
At administering justice
Both of His hands

Both of His hands
Are equally skilled
At showing mercy
Equally skilled
At loving the loveless
Equally skilled
Administering justice
Both of His hands
Both of His hands

Friday, May 15, 2009


I need
I need to be OK
I need to be simple
I need to be simply OK

I need
You Are
the I AM



Tenth Avenue North

I know i need you
I need to love you
I love to see you, and its been so long
i long to feel you
i feel this need for you'
and i need to hear you
is that so wrong?

now you pull me near you
when we're close i fear you
still im afraid to tell you
all that i've done
are you done forgiving?
or can you look pass my pretending?
Lord i'm so tired of defending
what i've become
what have i become?

i hear you say "my love is over,
its underneath, its inside, its in between
the times you doubt me, when you can't feel
the times that you've questioned 'is this for real?'
the times you've broken, the times that you mend
the times you hate me and the times that you bend
well my love is over, its underneath
its inside, its in between,
these times you're healing
and when your heart breaks
the times that you feel like you've fallen from grace
the times you're hurting
the times that you heal
the times you go hungry and are tempted to steal
in times of confusion and chaos and pain
im there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame
im there through your heartache
im there in the storm
my love i will keep you by my power alone
i dont care where you've fallen, where you have been
i'll never forsake you
my love never ends, it never ends

Thursday, May 14, 2009

wind (incomplete thought)

I leave my window open at night. I like waking to a symphony of bird songs, the breeze in the tree branches, and the trickle-harmony of our creek. This morning I was awakened several times in the early hours by the wind's roar. I wish there was a better descriptive word for it because it wasn't really a ROAR (which makes me think of angry lions sharing there feelings at an ear-drum-shattering decibel,) but it definitely was much, much more than a simple breeze. The trees in our backyard were bent over and the branches whipped about in quite the violent manner. I was surprised that it kept waking me up, since I usually sleep incredibly hard and have been known to sleep blissfully through the loudest of noises.

The fact is, though, that wind is one of my top favorite things in the whole wide world, if not THE favorite. I find it incredibly exhilarating to be engulfed by its juxtaposition of supportive solace and menacing threat. Wind is one of the reasons why I love to hike. Usually hiking takes you UP, and usually as ones altitude increases, so does the forcefulness of the wind. While other disturbances that disrupt my sleep might have caused annoyance, every time I was awakened by the wind I would smile, turn over, and let it lull (maybe that's too gentle of a word) me back to sleep.

The wind outside my window is still quite strong and I've been enjoying its exuberance as I read my Bible. I expect a good deal of clean-up will be required when it dies down: branches to be collected and leaves to be raked. But in this moment, I will revel in its beauty, in its strength, and in its danger.

The wind has brought about some thoughts as well. They are still incomplete, so feel free to comment with your opinion.

It seems to me that wind would have no sound if it were not for the physical objects through and around which the wind passes. It is the leaves and the branches on the trees that combine with the wind to create the wind's magnificent clamor; it is the rocks and the crags over which the wind blows that creates its melancholy howl. It is our ears that provide the opening over which the wind passes which then results in the winds noise in our ears. If these physical objects were absent, would wind then be rendered silent?

To simplify the concept, let's look at a glass bottle. When one blows across the opening, a musical note is produced. In this example, there are three components:
1. The force (the mouth)
2. The wind (air movement)
3. The physical object (the bottle)
Take the bottle away, and all that is left is the force and the movement of air, which can be felt but not heard.*

What spiritual applications can be drawn from this concept? Is it sacrilegious to say that the Holy Spirit (wind) would not be heard by others if it were not for humans/us (physical beings) who are willing to let Him move in and through us? Might nature itself be a type of "physical being" that demonstrates the Holy Spirit to those who have not had the opportunity to know humans who are filled with the manifestation of God's love?

*What about feeling the wind versus hearing the wind? I suppose that feeling might involve the same principle that hearing did. If one cannot hear the wind without a physical object present to create resistance and therefore produce sound, maybe one cannot also feel the wind without a physical object (hand, face, etc) to do the feeling.

Or maybe that is a slightly different concept because it seems to correlate with the age-old question of whether sound exists if there exists no ears or recording device to hear it. This question is demonstrated in the well-known scenario that used to get me so frustrated: if a tree falls down in a forest where there are no animals, insects, or any living creature to hear it, does it still make a sound? In our case, does the movement of wind exist if there is nothing to feel it? It seems that this is a separate quandary that, while intriguing, will get us off topic. So back to my question about feeling.

Might it be possible to feel the wind without physical objects present (trees, rocks, etc) but impossible to hear the wind without these same physical objects present? How then does this apply to spiritual things?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I hate saying goodbye to things. I'm a self-diagnosed packrat. I get it from my Dad. He keeps everything, just in case he (or his great-great-great grand kids) might need it one day a hundred years in the future. ;) I have cards, trinkets, and random (and by random, I really DO mean RANDOM/ODD/WACKY/UNUSUAL, etc, etc) other odds-n-ends in various "special" locations around my room. In an effort to get rid of stuff, I've been throwing away items that are somehow "lesser". Don't worry, though, I'm not throwing away ALL my treasures! I still have plenty left if you ever want to see what kinds of things I deem as precious. lol.

I also keep old notes and papers from school. The other day, I reluctantly threw away my notes from my high school pre-calculus class. It is just so hard to get rid of something that represents so much of my time! I spent innumerable hours both in class and out of class studying from those notes! Each page became a friend to me and I feel like I'm somehow betraying them just to dump them in a trash bag. What would my pre-calculus teacher, Mr. McNeilus, think of my behavior! If he were dead, he'd roll over in his grave! (What do people do when they're not dead? 0.o) Those dear notes should at least have a decent ending... a burning, a tornado, or SOMETHING! But, alas, my rational side wags its finger at my sentimental side and insists that I leave them in the bag. *sigh*

My microbiology notes were a different story. You may be a bit shocked at my dedication (as am I) but I sure put effort into that class. (I have my dear nursing friend, Kasey Harden, to thank for that. She was an inspiration!) I spent hours rewriting my hastily scrawled notes from Dr. Foster's lectures onto sharp, white pages. I drew pretty pictures of cell walls, protozoans, and other such fascinating structures, and I reorganized the content in a way that my brain would best remember it. Aaah, they were beautiful! I lent them out time and time again in the following semesters as distressed nursing-program hopefuls came to me confused and disoriented regarding their microbiology class.

Well, you might have guessed it, I found them today. And my goal is to SIMPLIFY, remember? And, for me, that means THROWING THINGS AWAY! I mean, really, when will I need those notes again, anyway? I won't. If I ever have a question about parasites, I can google it. I patted the pages mournfully. "I'm sorry, dear notes, but it's time to say goodbye." I carefully placed them in the trash bag, gave them one final glance, and then went back to my sorting. But I just couldn't do it. I couldn't leave them there! I went back and got them out, trying to rationalize keeping them. But I couldn't do that, either. So I placed them back in. But a few minutes later I was back again. Argh! Finally, I had my solution. I would take a few pictures of them and then blog about them. THAT would be a fitting ending. At least they would be remembered and given their due credit. So here I am, blogging about my microbiology notes. (Yes, I do realize the absurdity of this post.)

I went through a similar process with my Calculus notes, though I wasn't quite as attached to those as I was to my micro notes. However, I took a picture of them too, so they could be honored as well. Oh, and the last picture - that's just for fun. I found it floating around in my post-07/08-school-year-box. I'm serious, you wouldn't believe the stuff I have stashed away, just for memories sake!

A page of my micro notes and a page of my calculus notes:

Happy Little Viruses! :D (specifically for Jen!)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Exploring the world at hand (Goal 2)

I was home alone on Wednesday. Mom and Dad were at work and Joel was canoeing down some fun river with friends. So I decided to dust off my old bike, wipe the cobwebs from a helmet that I managed to dig up in the garage, and go for a bike ride. (Can you tell I don't bike that much? ;>) It was a good decision. Down at Southern, spring hit about a month ago but here in New York, I get to experience spring all over again! I didn't go very far (despite the 3 hour duration of my ride) but I enjoyed myself immensely, found some neat off-the-beaten-path trails, and took some fun pictures.
I never understood why people dislike dandelions. It's so sad! Look at that glorious field covered in dandelions!! I think God must smile when He sees fields like that :D

(Don't miss the little goslings in the picture above!)

My snakey friend :)

Announcing my first Blog Recital! (Goals 6 & 7)

So.... to accomplish goals 6 and 7 (see post below), I am announcing a Blog Recital! Yep, you heard me right, a blog recital! Here's how it's going to work:

In order to motivate myself to practice piano and cello more during the next month, I am going to schedule a date and time when I will post videos of me performing a musical recital. I will perform two pieces, one for cello and one for piano. It's undecided at this point what the pieces will be. But anyhow, you can attend this recital simply by viewing my videos and leaving a nice comment. (Constructive comments written with tact will also be accepted.) Then, once you've finished watching the videos, make sure to attend the reception following which will consist of a yummy smoothie of your own making. (In other words, you then go make yourself a smoothie! :>)

P.S. This recital is not exclusive! If you also would like a reason to practice this summer, you can join in and perform as well. Just post a video to your blog on June 7 at 1900 hours. :)

Summer Goals

Overall Goals: : A symmetrical character and an undormant will!

"The symmetrical structure of a strong, beautiful character is built up by individual acts of duty. And faithfulness should characterize our life in the least as well as in the greatest of its details. Integrity in little things, the performance of little acts of fidelity and little deeds of kindness, will gladden the path of life; and when our work on earth is ended, it will be found that every one of the little duties faithfully performed has exerted an influence for good - an influence that can never perish." -P & P, p. 574

"When invalids have nothing to occupy their time and attention, their thoughts become centered upon themselves, and they grow morbid and irritable. Many times they dwell upon their bad feelings until they think themselves much worse than they really are and wholly unable to do anything.... The will goes with the labor of the hands; and what these invalids need is to have the will aroused. When the will is dormant, the imagination becomes abnormal, and it is impossible to resist disease." -MH, p. 240

Specific Goals [to be done prior to the beginning of camp (June 19)]:

1. Write Camp Cherokee's "Bound for the Promised Land" Program
2. Exercise
-longer runs
-more trail runs
-keep up swimming (lakes)
-get more into biking
3. Go on some short backpacking/canoeing trips with Joel
4. Become proficient at driving a manual transmission (I know how but I've never had to drive a stick-shift long enough to feel completely comfortable.)
5. Become more diverse in my cooking skills (i.e. Cook things that I normally don't like and have avoided cooking in the past)
6. Become a better hymn sight-reader on the piano
7. Practice my cello!
8. Finish Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and read other thought-provoking books.
9. Finish knitting my Glittens (Mittens with fingers on them)
10. Simplify my possessions