Thursday, May 26, 2016

101 things in 1001 days #43: Learn my credit score and how to improve it.

Not going to lie, there are many things about the financial world that make me nervous because I don't understand them.  In doing this goal I at least wanted to understand credit a little more.  I learned my credit score when I applied for a car loan this year and I was very surprised to learn I actually had a great credit score.  That was very different than what I had expected.  I thought if you could have a negative credit score then mine would be pretty close.  I did some research into what makes a good credit score and how to keep it good/improve it.  I still don't understand all of it but I understand a great deal more than I did before.  I knew that paying your bills on time affected the score but I also learned that it helps if you keep your account balance 50% or less of the credit limit.

I thought this site was a great reference and made things simple to understand.

I'm glad I had this experience!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

101 things in 1001 days #12 Read Louisa May Alcott's 8 classic books

Here is my report of the last of the Louisa May Alcott books.  It was a wonderful experience!

Rose in Bloom
This is the sequel to “Eight Cousins” and further tells the story of Rose and her friends and family.  It is a great piece of historical fiction because it tells a lot about how life was like during this era, particularly when it comes to dating and courtship.  Again, one of the things I really enjoy about the Rose books is the presence of a really strong father figure in Uncle Alec.  He is one of my favorite Alcott characters.  The book does get a bit slow at times, but overall it is very worth it.  There are beautiful love stories involved and even though one may make you go “Huh?” it again gives us a glimpse of how life was in those days.  I loved this book!

Under the Lilacs
This is one of Alcott’s lesser known works.  It the story of Ben, a run-away from the circus and his dog Sancho.  He finds a surrogate mother/big sister to stay with and begins life as a somewhat normal kid.  There are many fun adventures along the way and many sweet moments.  It does drag at times but there is one particular scene in the book that is so heart-warming, I will bet that it will make you cry.   Of all Alcott’s books, this one is probably the most designed for children and gives the characters a “happily ever after” that is worthy of the fairy-tales.

Jack and Jill
I love this book! Again, it is one of Alcott’s lesser known works.  It is the story of two best friends, Jack and Janey.  Because they are always together, Janey is nicknamed Jill after Jack and Jill from the nursery rhyme.  A tragic sledding accident leaves them bed-ridden for the winter and while Jack gets better quickly, Jill doesn’t fare so well.  It is a delightful coming-of –age story about them and their friends and family.  I love the two mother characters in the story.  Jack’s mother is especially beautifully written.  This was my second time reading it and when I came across this line it made me smile just like the first time.  In talking about one of the characters, it said she “remained a merry spinster all her days, one of the independent, brave, and busy creatures of whom there is such need in the world to help take care of other peoples' wives and children, and do the many useful jobs that the married folk have no time for.” Of course I want to be married but it that is not to be in this life, I hope that I can be like that.

An Old-Fashioned Girl
Hands down, “An Old Fashioned Girl” is my favorite Alcott book outside the Little Women series.  I have read it several times and each time it does me so much good.  I wish Louisa had written several Polly books.  Polly Milton is a girl from the country who goes to stay with a friend’s family who lives in the city.  She is such a beautiful and inspiring character.  In each of Alcott’s books there seems to be one character who an angel on earth of sorts.  As much as I love Beth from Little Women, Polly is much more of relatable character.  She is an inspiration but also loses her temper and has struggles.  Her relationship with the Shaw family is wonderful and I particularly love the surrogate father/daughter relationship that develops between her and Mr. Shaw.  I love the beautiful love story as well.  Each time I close this book at the end I feel a little sad.  Each time I start it, it makes me smile.  It is a lovely story! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

101 things in 1001 days #1 Read the Standard Works

           When I first started making out my 101 things in 1001 days list, I knew this was one of the things I wanted to do.  I found a great chart that helps you read the standard works in a year.   Regular scripture study has not been an easy thing for me.  There have been times when I have felt I was too busy and to be honest, not very interested. I felt there were other things I would have rather spent my time reading.  But I wanted to do better and I believed that being in the scriptures daily would bless my life.  Yesterday, I finished the last chapter of Revelations and read the Articles of Faith, finishing off the Pearl of Great Price.  What an absolute blessing this goal has been! I am so grateful that I did it!

I started reading the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon together.  I loved the familiar stories at the start of the Old Testament, of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph, and Moses and him setting the children of Israel free. I decided to read two of the designated sections each day because the stories were so interesting, I didn’t want to stop.  As I got further into the “law” section of the Old Testament, I did get bored often but kept plugging along.  I enjoyed the stories of David and Solomon.  I LOVED Psalms and Proverbs.  Isaiah was not as hard as I thought it would be to get through but Jeremiah was the hardest book for me. 
I loved reading the Book of Mormon at the same time and seeing how they all fit together.  For anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with The Book of Mormon, it is a record of the people on the American continent some of whom left the Jerusalem area just before the Babylonian captivity and some who left the area at the time of the tower of Babel, as well as other people.  It also includes Jesus Christ’s visit to that continent after his resurrection.  I loved getting the added perspective and history that came with reading these two books simultaneously. It also gave me added perspective about how they complement each other so well.  In the Old Testament, Jehovah is often portrayed as being angry and ready to destroy.  We need The Book of Mormon in our lives to help us understand better the character and nature of Jehovah and his incredible mercy. 

After I finished the Book of Mormon, I started on the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a book of revelations and commandments received by the prophet Joseph Smith during the time of the restoration of the church.  I loved reading this book and imagining all the extraordinary things that happened during that time.  It helped me gain an added appreciation for temples and helped strengthen my testimony and gratitude for revelation, both on a personal and prophetic level.  Again and again, I saw evidence that the Lord is very much aware of his people. 
I really enjoyed reading the New Testament.  I am very familiar with the four gospels but I loved reading about the life of our Savior again.  I think my favorite part of the entire experience of reading the Standard Works was reading the writings of Paul.  What an inspired and wonderful apostle! His words strengthened me many times and helped me want to be a better person.  Revelations was another book that was tough to get through but was inspiring at the same time.  What an incredible experience John had!

The Pearl of Great Price is indeed a treasure.  There is the book of Moses, part of the Bible translation Joseph Smith did.  There is the book of Abraham, which is the translation of some Egyptian writings that were found in the early days of the church.  There is Joseph Smith: Matthew, which is Matthew 24 and part of the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible.  There is the Joseph Smith history in which the prophet gives an account of his First Vision among other things, and The Articles of Faith, part of a letter stating what we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe.  There is so much in this small book of scripture.  We learn so much about who we are and our divine potential.  I absolutely loved reading it.  As I read the account of the First Vision again I felt the Holy Ghost confirming to me again that it is all true.  I wanted to read the last of the Joseph Smith history yesterday because it talks about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood and yesterday was the anniversary of that great event.  I was a little sad to have it all over when I closed the book on the Bible and the Pearl of Great Price yesterday.  I really have noticed a difference in my life as I’ve read the scriptures every day.  I found that I missed the experience if there was a day I couldn’t do it.  I simply felt better and became better each day because of it.  I’m so glad I chose this goal! Here is the link to the chart I used if you would like to try this.  I can highly recommend it!!