3 Reasons Why I’m Reading the Bible in 90 Days AGAIN

Starting tomorrow, August 20th, through November 17th, I’ll be embarking on my fourth round of reading the Bible in 90 Days.

For those new to the concept, the goal of Bible in 90 Days is to read attentively every word of the Bible from cover-to-cover in a 90-day period.

I’ve successfully done this once, twice, three times in the past two years.  Why on earth, might you ask, would I do this seemingly insanely aggressive reading program yet again? (pssst – the key word here is “seemingly”)

  1. Because God wants me to. Jesus said that we are to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). I can’t live by His every word unless I first know by reading His every word. And for me, being able to read the Bible in a 90 day period has been far more meaningful than attempting to stretch it out over a year’s time (something that I was never able to do successfully, by the way).
  2. Because I want to. The last 6 months have perhaps been the most personally challenging of my entire life to date. If I shared the details, you would no doubt think I was off my rocker for committing to another round of reading the Bible in 90 Days at this point in my life. But I really, really want to do this again. And the only explanation I have to offer is that the Holy Spirit is pressing down hard on me to do this – even in the midst of my personal trials. My eyes and my heart will be focused on God these next 90 days – ever eager to receive his daily revelations for me.
  3. Because there are others that want to. I don’t believe I could have been successful at reading the Bible in its entirety without the support and encouragement of my previous Bible in 90 Days accountability groups. After three successful passes through, it was my turn to feel the calling to successfully lead/mentor others through the journey for this upcoming round. I can’t wait for the blessings to unfold in the lives of the 12 ladies in my accountability group!

Folks – this program is NOT nearly as daunting as it first sounds.  Even my 10-year-old dyslexic son was able to successfully complete it in 90 days last summer (click here to find out how)!  And he’s doing it again with me this time!

I’m eternally grateful to the Bible in 90 Days program. And to Amy Gross of MomsToolBox for, once again, being obedient to God’s calling to host another B90Days session on her website. To God be the glory!

May the blessings commence!

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Merry Christmas 2011

Classic Holly Frame Christmas Card
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Struggling Readers: You CAN Read the Bible in 90 Days!

My 10-year-old dyslexic son just completed the Bible in 90 Days Challenge via Mom’s Toolbox!    Struggling readers, adults and children alike: if he can do it, I can assure you that you can, too! Click here to read my post on how he did it.

Here’s a hokey 2-minute video I made with my iPhone to celebrate the milestone:


If you have trouble seeing the video from the email, click here to view it online.

Blessings,

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Our Family’s One-Year Activity Fast

Last September our family boldly embarked on and successfully survived a 30-Day TV and Gaming Fast (it was great, by the way, you should all try it).  This September we are embarking on a <gasp!> one-year activity fast.

It all started toward the end of Spring 2011, when our family had reached new heights in terms of activity burnout.   All the extracurricular activities our family members were involved with not only depleted our respective energy levels but also, and probably more important, destroyed our evening and weekend family time together.

Practically every night of the week, as well as every weekend day, our family was split up in different directions as we attended to various sports practices, clinics, & games, public speaking classes, Aikido lessons, church, and sporadic meetings, as required.  We were physically and mentally exhausted from running around and became more and more disconnected as a family.

I wholeheartedly subscribe to the “The Family That Stays Together, Stays Together” principle and our family clearly wasn’t living up to it.

So one rare, available night last spring during dinner, I suggested to the family that we conduct a one-year experiment beginning in September of this year: for one year, our family would not sign up for any activity that required a physical presence out of the house after 5pm.

There was a looooong pause as they all looked at me like I had two heads.  They were in total disbelief that I could even suggest such a thing.

I, on the other hand, was aghast that they wouldn’t JUMP at the chance to not run, run, run practically every day of the week and not have to get up early to play sports on cold, autumn Saturdays.  I mean, half way through any given activity season the kids would whiiiine and carry on about how tired they were as they begged “do we HAVE to go?”  It made me question why we were spending hard-earned money for activities that they didn’t really enjoy doing most of the time in the first place.  And then we became the bad guys for making them stick with it!

Hubby’s primary concern was keeping the boys enrolled in our township’s wonderful sports program.  He was adamant that they needed to continue to participate in team sports. My solution: participate in homeschool sports programs that were offered during the day (because we homeschoolers can do that 😀   ).

After a few weeks of discussion on the matter, we all agreed, some more reluctantly than others, to TRY the experiment.

So here it is, September already, and the kids haven’t even noticed that they didn’t have to schlep to a single hot, August soccer practice.  I think I’ll bring that to their attention the same time they wake up after sleeping late on a frigid October Saturday morning and realize they don’t have to freeze their butts off on the soccer field.

I did insist on one exception  to the “after 5pm” ban (other than attending our church’s Wednesday night Royal Rangers ministry): the public speaking class my 10-year-old is involved in every other Thursday night.  For me, public speaking ranks right up there with reading and writing.  And since there is no daytime option available, we are sticking with this wonderful program.  It’s called Institute for Cultural Communicators. Check out their website at http://www.iccinc.org for more information and to find a local chapter near you.

Now before you non-homeschoolers become alarmed at the seemingly diminished amount of social interaction our kids will be getting with this one-year activity fast, fear not.  By virtue of being homeschoolers, we have the ability to be flexible with our schedules and cater it to our needs.  Thus, our kids are involved in daytime art classes, swim classes, field trips, workshops at science museums, lego clubs & camps, play dates, vacation bible school…and now homeschool sports.  Trust me when I say they get PLENTY of interaction with other human beings during the course of the week.  I often lament that sometimes the hardest part about homeschooling is…staying home.

So this is how our family is going to roll this year.  Wish us success!  I’ll keep you all posted periodically with our feedback.

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Falling Out of Love with Crashplan

 

[The latest updates are provided at the end of this post. Spoiler Alert: I’m back in love with Crashplan.]

The time had come. The dreaded and inevitable hard drive crash. My 6-month old Western Digital My Book World II 2TB drive (that’s a story for another post) contained 10+ years of photos, videos, thousands of music files, documents, all our financial data and more.

Did I worry? Nope. After all, I had pre-purchased four years of backup insurance with Crashplan (www.crashplan.com). All my data was safely and soundly backed up to the reliable Crashplan cloud.

Or so I thought.

Since I had so many files to restore (it would have taken months to restore over the internet), I ordered Crashplan’s “Fast Restore” service. Essentially, for $124 they back all the data up to a hard drive and overnight it to you. Once the drive is connected to your computer, you follow instructions to have Crashplan restore the files in a much quicker fashion.

Except for one teensy weensy problem. Crashplan sent the drive to me with ENTIRE DIRECTORIES of my data missing. That’s right. MISSING. Including my 2006 photos folder (get this – not my 2001, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05 folders or even my 2007, ’08, ’09, ’10 or ’11 folders, JUST my 2006 folder. How’s that for random?).  And my ENTIRE music folder (thousands upon thousands of music files) was gone as well. POOF. I was so beside myself (and still am) that I haven’t even had the presence of mind to see what other folders or files could be missing as well.

After bringing the issue (ticket #81325) to their attention last Thursday, Sept 1st, I find out today (7 days later and only after *I* called them) the following status:

“Something went wrong during the monthly maintenance that purged a chunk of your data but we don’t know why because the logs exceed the 3-week window.”

“Something went wrong” and my data is gone. Inexplicably and irretrievably GONE. I pre-paid for 4 years of backup insurance for what?!?! What kind of insurance is THAT???

As a good will gesture, Crashplan offered to send my original, crashed hard drive to a data recovery specialist, on their nickel, to see if they can retrieve the data  but I have little hopes. I already paid $80 to have a local firm do it and all they could do was pull off the data without the directory and file structure intact. Basically, instead of having all my data restored to their rightful folders and with their rightful file names, I have a bunch of files called FILE001.doc, FILE002.jpg, FILE003.mpg…you get the idea. Hundreds of thousands of files, possibly millions, and it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Totally useless.

The ticket is still open and they are still investigating because of a significant detail they overlooked: on August 19, I attempted to restore some of my music folders and they were, in fact, there. Some of those files were restored to my hard drive as proof.  But I stopped the restore process after realizing it would take weeks to completely restore all those files. I figured it was better just to buy the $124 Fast Restore drive so I ordered it that very same day. Five days later (August 24) that they actually restored my files to the drive they were sending me, and another 4 days transpired before I actually received it. [So much for FAST.] That’s when I realized whole directories were missing. So somewhere between August 19 and August 24th, my files went POOF and, as of this writing, the issue is still within the so-called “3-week log window” where they claim they can determine what went wrong. I’m not holding my breath.

While everyone I’ve spoken to at Crashplan has been very polite and professional, there’s absolutely no sense of urgency from any of them.  It’s almost as if this type of thing occurs daily to them: “Oh, more purged files. Yawn.”

And why does the very unhappy and panic-stricken customer have to be the one to call Crashplan daily in order to get an update on the crisis, instead of the other way around where they extend the professional courtesy of proactive status updates to her?

And to add insult to injury, they haven’t offered to refund my $124 for the Fast Restore, nor offered to send me a prepaid mailer to ship my crashed hard drive to them…although I have emailed them both requests.

Crashplan, I was in completely in love with you. And I honestly thought you had my back. I told everybody I knew about how wonderful you are. But I was wrong. Matthew Dornquast (Crashplan CEO), you totally and egregiously stabbed me in the back.

I want to believe that there is a happy ending here, Crashplan. I’m hoping you will figure out why my data was purged and fix it so it never happens to anyone ever again. I’m also hoping your data recovery firm can perform a miracle on my crashed hard drive. If there is a happy ending to all this, I will happily shout it off the internet rooftops and fall back in love with you.

But for now, being on the verge of a break, I need the world to know that promises of data protection safety in the Crashplan cloud is not safe AT ALL.

Update 09-08-2011 (Thursday): Today Crashplan has determined the cause of my random data loss and were able to restore them back into my backup archive. MOST EXCELLENT! Additionally, they are sending me a new Fast Restore drive with all my files on it – free of charge – AND refunding the $124 I spent on the original Fast Restore drive.  I am waiting for a more detailed explanation on what the specific situation was that caused the purge in the first place and why Ops wasn’t notified of the situation so that they could take immediate action, as well as reassurances that measures have been put in place to avoid this type of data loss in the future.  My decision to stay with Crashplan, as well as my continued endorsement of Crashplan to my circle of influence, hinges on it.

Update 09-13-2011 (Monday): Received the 2nd Fast Restore drive and it appeared to have all my files on it but the drive was bad and couldn’t restore the files.  It took Crashplan working with me every day through Saturday before making that determination.  They are sending me another drive for Tuesday morning delivery.

Update 9-20-2011 (Tuesday): Received the 3rd Fast Restore drive.  All the files were on it and were successfully restored.  Had some glitches with the my iMac crashing in the middle of the restore and not restoring about 3000 files so I had to initiate the restore twice (each time took 24 hours – I had over 109,000 files!). All is right with the world once again. :-)  Thanks, Crashplan, for coming through for me.

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Pencil Sharpening the Man’s Way

I asked my Sweetie, whilst he was watching TV, if he would manually sharpen 36 TRI-conderoga pencils (they come with their own hand sharpener because they are too fat to fit in a traditional electric pencil sharpener). Having done this task once before and remembering how much his hands cramped from it, this is what he came up with.

My genius man.

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What I Did on Summer Vacation (2011 Edition)

  1. Started a third round of the Bible in 90 Days Challenge (finishing Oct. 8th) via Mom’s Toolbox. Our 10-year-old is doing it for the first time, too. If his dyslexic little self can do it, so can you!
  2. Participated in my first ever Beth Moore bible study (Breaking Free). Jumping Jehoshaphat! Does she ever take you neck-deep into the Word! ♫ Lo-o-ove it ♫.
  3. Changed over to a Raw Food diet. Lost 22 lbs and sprouted rabbit ears.
  4. Threw a 50th wedding anniversary party for my in-laws at our farm. The highlight of their my summer. Good times.
  5. Homeschooled. ‘Cause that’s how we year-rounders roll.
  6. Finished our 2009 taxes. Owe $150K (that’s without any of the penalties & interest). Not feeling any love for our government’s messed up tax code system and how they treat small business owners. And not feeling particularly motivated to complete 2010’s, either. Taxes should be God’s Abomination #8 (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  7. Did NOT feel the east coast earthquakequiver and was forced to endure predictable & tragically unimaginative Hurricane Irene jabs. Yawn.
  8. Lost 10+ years of photos, videos, music and documents when my network drive went belly up. I thought I was in the clear with having everything backed up to a third-party cloud.  Not so.  Western Digital and Crashplan are both of the devil.  Still waiting on a miracle.
  9. Bought the Eye-Fi Wireless SD Card for my camera. So.very.very.cool.
  10. Took a painful but much needed 3-month hiatus from Facebook which had a large part in making most of the above happen.  I highly recommend going FB AWOL for a spell.

Oh sure, I did a lot more and endured a lot more, but those were the biggies.  So…what’d you do this summer?

Happy September!

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Aperature Library Could Not Be Opened

After much research about the right photo organization tool to use, I decided to download Apple’s Aperture v3’s 30-day trial version before investing the $200 to buy it.  Right away it installed flawlessly and allowed me to create a library on my Western Digital (MyBookWorld II Edition) network drive. Yippee!  I spent the next 4 hours importing my images, also located on my WD drive, into the library and naming faces.  I was very pleased.  Then life got in the way and I couldn’t return to Aperture for about a week. That’s when IT happened.

I launched Aperture and got the message “There was an error opening the database for the library ‘<file path and name of library>’. The library could not be opened because the file system of the library’s volume is unsupported.” Excuse me?!? All I did was walk away from it for a week and all of a sudden my WD drive is unsupported?

When I tried to create another library onto the same network drive, I got the message that the drive wasn’t in a supported format.  Huh?  Didn’t it just create one on it about a week ago?

<sigh> Back to googling the forums again…for hours…trying this, trying that.  Nada.

I finally called good old AppleCare.  Got another polite professional.  Who also wasn’t ultimately able to resolve my issue.  He almost didn’t even talk to me because I’m just a TRIAL user and not a paid user.  Heaven forbid Apple try to troubleshoot a problem in their trial version in the hopes of getting a potential customer.  But I guess since I was nice and polite in return, the rep hung in with me for 20 minutes before rendering the final judgment: Aperture 3 does not support library files on network drives.

Then why on God’s green earth, APPLE, did the initial installation allow the creation of a library on my network drive to start with??? WHY??? WHYYYY???

So now I have to create a new library on my local drive and import images and name faces all. over. again.   Because I have so much spare time. <wiping my chin of my facetious drool>  I have 20 days left on the Aperture 3 trial.  And I have a 50th Wedding Anniversary photo slideshow presentation to produce in a few short weeks.  Who thinks I can make it through without another devastating problem?  I’m seriously starting to think Apple products are no better than Microsoft’s.

Score: Me 1 – AppleCare <-1>

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Solution to iMac’s Finder “Connection Failed”

As a Mac newbie I was immediately impressed with how polite and professional the AppleCare reps are.  However, polite professionalism notwithstanding, what really makes me a satisfied customer is actually having my problem resolved. Apple missed an easy opportunity on that one today.

Here’s my situation:

Our household experienced a 3-second brown-out last week.  It took my 27″ iMac down as well as my network-attached Western Digital drive (MyWorldBook Edition II).  The WD drive choked with a strange lighting sequence on the front of it and I couldn’t manually reset it via the Power Button so I had to disconnect the power cord then connect it back in.

Upon rebooting both the iMac and the WD drive, I was able to see the WD drive in Finder’s Shared devices list.  However, when I clicked on it, it said “Connection Failed”. Yet, when I did Go -> Connect to Server and reconnected the device, I was able to access the drive and everything on it.  Still, any application that I launched after that (eg. iPhoto, Word, etc.) that needed access to a file on the WD drive, I would get the same “Connection Failed” message and would have to reconnect AGAIN. In every single application.

If I had to restart my iMac, the process happens all over again.

I also tried physically disconnecting my WD drive from the network and when I did, it would disappear from Finder’s Shared list, as expected.  But upon reconnecting it, it would show up in the list but when clicked on I’d get “Connection Failed”.

After spending a few hours on my own googling forums about this issue and trying all known suggestions to no avail, I called AppleCare for the first time.  I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a very nice AppleCare rep who had me reboot (at least 5 times), all with the same outcome.  He finally passed the buck to the local Apple store by suggesting diagnostics needed to be run on my iMac.  Either he’s an idiot or he thinks I’m an idiot.  Either case, I had no intention of lugging the beast to the Apple Store when I wasn’t convinced it was a diagnostic issue.  I was convinced it was a setup issue.

Here’s what I did that finally fixed the issue:

  1. After a clean reboot, in Finder I selected Go -> Connect to Server and connected to the WD Drive so that Finder officially recognized it.
  2. Then I went into Apple -> System Preferences -> Accounts -> Login Items.
  3. Under Login Items, I added a new item, went to select my WD Drive from the Shared list but, of course, it said “Connection Failed”.
  4. So, at the top of the window in the field that dispIayed my WD drive name, I clicked on the up/down arrows on the right side of that field.  Below my WD drive name, I clicked on SHARED.
  5. Then I clicked on the WD drive, which then asked me for the WD login name/password to access the drive.
  6. Finally, I selected the volume(s) on that drive that I wanted to mount.

When I rebooted my machine, Finder successfully showed a valid connection to my WD drive. TA-DA!

Me 1 – AppleCare 0.  I’m starting to wonder if I wasted my money in purchasing the AppleCare.  At least where software issues are concerned.  Only time will tell.  And soon, too, because I have an Aperture issue that needs resolving right-quick. Stay tuned.

 

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Bible in 90 Days for Kids

Struggling readers can listen while reading along!

My ten-year-old is attempting to complete the Bible in 90 Days challenge along with me.  My idea. Not his. He’s been stuck in the Old Testament forever and, just like with me, I felt the material wasn’t gelling for him at such a slow pace.

When I first suggested it to him he thought I lost my ever-loving mind.  He was, after all, diagnosed with dyslexia 3 years ago.  And even though, through therapy and a number of other tools, the majority of his reading challenges are behind him, the thought of tackling the Big Book in 90 days was more than his 10-year-old brain could handle.

But I assured him that I had a plan to make it as easy as possible for him.  I downloaded all thirteen of the weekly audio versions of the Bible in 90 Days to my iPod (they were $2.95 each from Amazon.com) and he listens to the audio as he reads along with it (reiterating to him daily that the goal is to read every word on the page attentively).  This method takes approximately one hour a day based on the speed of the narrator.  To make it even easier, I have him split up his reading into two 30-minute sessions: one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon.

Bible in 90 Days with a duckling for company

Bible in 90 Days with a duckling for company

The boy was actually amazed at how time flies when listening to the audio while reading along!  Hey – whattaya know…Mom was right after all!

Pray that the little guy sticks with it!  In only a few days he’ll bypass the portion of the Old Testament he was last stuck on!  I’m hoping he’ll be encouraged to keep going after that!

Blessings,

 

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