Bible Study

In this season of my life, Bible study looks completely different than it did a year ago.

At first, I felt a little guilty.  My Bible study didn’t look like what I thought it was supposed to look like.  But then I realized that it doesn’t have to be the Instagram picture in my head of the early morning time, with a cup of tea or coffee, an open Bible along with a pen and notebook.

While it still includes some prayer journal time at night, my mornings include a verse or two of scripture on my own, and then some kids worship songs with the boy (he is loving Father Abraham).  Last year, I dug in deep on some of my favorite women of the Bible which then led to some more digging into genealogy and wherever my curiosity took me.  But right now, with the unpredictable nature of my day, that just isn’t feasible.

That’s when I realized Bible study can be all the above things, but it can also be other things.  My time in the Word has changed depending on my circumstances over the last five years, and they seem to fall into three categories.

Challenging

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:1

This is the digging deep time.  It’s diving into the stories of men and women in the Bible, allowing my curiosities to guide me.  It may lead to studying a particular book or workbook that will challenge me, not just mentally but spiritually as well.  It’s the stretching and reaching part of a study that I love to do, and when I do, I get obsessed.

Comforting

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Right after I lost my daughter, I needed God.  I needed his comfort.  I spent more time journaling than I read during this time, but I did lean on verses and stories in the Bible that bring me that comfort.  When I find a verse that soothes my soul, I write it down for these particular moments.

But also, I would listen to music.  I feel like God’s Word and his promise can play out in music.  I would ball up on the floor, crying my eyes out, just playing the same songs over and over.  Songs that remind me that God hasn’t forsaken me.

Sustaining

“Behold, God is my helper. The Lord is the one who sustains my soul.” Psalm 55:4

This is where I am now.  There are times I don’t even know what day it is.  Everything is just running together as I am caring for this little boy in my arms.  I don’t have the time for challenging study, but I still need something to sustain.  So, if it’s just a verse or two, that’s okay.  And if I find an interesting curiosity, I write it down for later when I have more time to follow up.

I no longer feel guilty if I don’t have 30 minutes every day to devote to Bible study or prayer or worship.  Someday I will have that time to dig deep.  Someday I may need those moments of comfort.  But for now, I do what I need to sustain my relationship with God, even if it’s only for a few moments today.

I know that I’m not the only one who has felt this way.  And I’m also wanting a little accountability.  So, on Fridays, the plan is to share something I read or listened to that week from one of these categories (to be honest, it will probably being the sustaining category for a while).  I’m excited to try this, and I encourage you to share a verse or song that’s speaking to you as well!

Advertisements

My Current Playlist

I feel like it’s been a hot minute since I shared what I’m currently listening to.  And usually, it’s in the realm of pregnancy loss or anxiety.  While I do have a few songs that are under that theme on my playlist, I thought I would also share a couple songs that just get my foot tapping as well.

I found this song to be perfect for me during the Lent season.  “Help us with our unbelief” has been something I’ve written more than once in my prayer journal during the pregnancy.  Plus, the video is beautiful and simple.

This song is always playing in my car, turned up and blasting.  The first verse made my breath catch and I knew I would love the song.  Amazingly, the first time I heard this song was on the radio at a low moment of doubt and fear.  It was exactly. what. I. needed.

 

Pivoting from the Christian themed songs, I heard this one on the radio as well.  I’ve never heard any other songs from Lovely the Band, but I really this one.  The beat is great.  Plus, I can relate to connecting with others through brokenness and loneliness.

And finally, the happy sunshine song I’ve been loving this Spring.  This was another radio introduction and it’s so catchy.  It’s just one of those fun, lovey-dovey songs that I like to blast when I’m working on projects or cleaning or driving.  And I will end the playlist here.

What are you listening to lately?

Upcoming Anniversary Reflections

Upon reflection of the upcoming anniversaries in my life, I have realized how differently I have viewed each of my pregnancies, based on a number of factors.

pexels-photo-247195a

For instance, when my first daughter died, I was in shock for quite a long time.  I didn’t feel the same way other women seemed to feel.  It took me three months at least to name her.  And it took me well over a year to really realize that I was already a mother.  And even longer to finally buy her urn.  I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that I never learned how to live in this limbo, how to process this limbo.

It was about a month after I had accepted my own motherhood that I became pregnant again.  And this time, I got to spend a little more time with this daughter.  Because of my first daughter’s death, I was now a high-risk pregnancy, which came with more ultrasounds, including a DVD of a 3-D ultrasound at 20 weeks.  I felt her move more.  I danced with her to the songs on the radio, while waiting in traffic.  When I found out she died, she had a name before her stillbirth.  Her urn was bought immediately.

And I guess that’s why last year’s holidays were so hard.  Everything I lost became so real.  I wasn’t in shock anymore.  I was supposed to be celebrating Christmas with my two girls, and I wasn’t.  No matter how many traditions I participated in, no matter how many cheesy movies watched or presents purchased, the holiday felt empty without them.  It hurt so bad to see everyone else celebrating with their kids, making memories when all I had left of my daughters were memories.

But this year, it’s different.  Now, I’m carrying a new life, a new hope of future Christmases and traditions. Some people celebrate the child’s birth, but the fact that I have this little, precious heartbeat within me during this holiday season for the first time in five years of waiting…this is my true gift this year.  And I thank God every day I get to spend with this little one.

Life is so precious.  Every breath, every heartbeat, every moment.  I’ve never really understood that until now.  So, in the midst of the sadness of remembering and the heartache of those I miss terribly, I find strength in joy and hope.  It will probably always be bittersweet, and this child will always know the sisters that came before.  We will take time each year around this season to remember them.  But in remembering them, we will make strides to embrace every moment as a wonderful gift.  And to always be thankful.

Waiting

waitinginthegap.jpg

I’m giving myself just a little break today, but I wanted to share a psalm that I’ve been meditating on the last couple of days.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

Lord, hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive

to my cry for mercy.

 

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,

Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

 

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

and in his word, I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord

more than watchmen wait for the morning,

more than watchmen wait for the morning.

 

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,

for with the Lord is unfailing love

and with him is full redemption.

He himself will redeem Israel

from all their sins.

Summer Study: Philippians 4

The final chapter of the final book of my summer study.  I can’t believe I’ve already arrived here.  This has been fun, fascinating, convicting, and amazing.  So let’s get into chapter 4 of Philippians!

Philippians4.jpg

In this final chapter, Paul is saying his farewells.  In this letter, he’s covered how to remember the big picture, of the spiritual warfare that is prevalent though unseen, how to stand firm but be humble, knowing that we don’t have it all figured out.  But instead stay steadfast in Christ.  He continues along these lines pleading with specific people to stop fighting and unify for the sake of the kingdom.

But if I were to boil down the last chapter into one word, it would be “contentment”.  And there were two things that Paul felt would help the people of this church find contentment.  Praying with thanksgiving (meaning asking requests to God in the same breath as thanking him for what you have already received) and leaning on the strength of God.

He even uses himself as an example.  In whatever situation he is in, he has learned to be content.  But he also recognizes with thankfulness the generosity from this church that has enabled him to reach so many others.  But even in that gratitude, he acknowledges that his contentment comes with the help of his Heavenly Father.

philippians413.jpg

Because it’s not always easy to be content in our circumstances.  And while gratitude journals or using other ways to instill gratitude into our lives is helpful, I think it’s also helpful to acknowledge that we are weak in our humanity.  We are not going to have this all figured out.  We are not going to be perfect, even through practice.  And when we come up short, God’s grace and strength can fill in the gap.

I don’t really like thinking of myself this way.  Weak.  Failure.  Chaos.  Fumbling.  I like to think that if I follow the rules long enough, make the right choices every time, and envelope myself in the right environment, that I will have it figured out.  But if anyone could have filled out that resume, it would be Paul.  And as I learned in chapter 2, he considered all of his abilities and gifts and strength rubbish compared to what God had.

And God knows this, and he wants to use this.  He’s like “Give me your weakness and I will give you my strength.”  Because he doesn’t want people who have it all figured out because those people’s followers will just want to follow those people.  But when our weakness is exposed and God’s strength shines through, the followers and onlookers see only God.

It lifts off some of that responsibility we try to hold on to.  I thought for years that it was my job to convert the hearts of others, but instead, I’ve learned that I just need to love them.  But in order to do that, I have to get that love from God, so I need to be in a relationship with him so that he fills me up with love to the point that it overflows to others in my life.  Hence, love God, love others.

Thank you so much for following me through this summer study.  It’s amazing the little things, little reminders, that shine through the text that I’ve read so many times before. I look forward to new things and ideas this fall!

Summer Study: Philippians 3

Before I share my thoughts about this chapter, I wanted to say that my heart is with those in Charlottesville, Virginia. And I pray that God’s love and mercy extinguish the flames of hate and fear throughout our country. I denounce the words and actions of white supremacy and racism that were on display this weekend. We are a broken people of a brokenhearted God.

Philippians3

Paul continues his letter to the Gentiles about circumcision. This is a topic that permeates through most of his letters. There were groups of Jewish Christians who insisted that Gentiles must get circumcised in order to be truly saved (which was no small task), and Paul, again and again, refutes this.

What stood out to me the most in this chapter was how Paul makes the case that on paper, he’s pretty much perfect. He was a Pharisee. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Circumcised. Legalistically Righteous (following the letter of the law).

And yet, he would throw it all away, consider it rubbish, to chase after Jesus. Because the words on his resume are finite. Jesus is eternal.

The same could be said about us. We strive and pursue and pull up by our bootstraps and achieve. There is so much importance on the outer perceptions of our world, just like back then. But Christ is so much more interested in the inward – the putting to death of our old self to be renewed in him.

It’s easy to put to death my brokenness and my sin, but would I put to death my competence? Not just use my gifts for God, but consider those gifts temporary and finite. Those gifts, my abilities are not going to save me. Only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his victory over death save me in the end.

This year, I’ve been working on my people pleasing attitude. It is almost an addiction to receive attention, respect, admiration, and acceptance from others. And I have freely given my time and energy and abilities in the hope that I will receive these things from others that I so desperately desire. Would I consider these things I’ve been addicted to for so long rubbish in comparison the Jesus Christ?

Paul makes it clear that those who are focused on these earthly things are on a path to destruction. But we are destined for so much more in Christ. We will be transformed into his likeness. We can leave the past behind (even the accolades and good stuff) and strain towards the future with God. And through that vision of what is to come, we can see the reality of what is today. This world is not our home.

Paul even admitted, for all the knowledge he had obtained in his lifetime, he still didn’t have it all figured out. He was continually growing and maturing upon the foundation that Christ had built. And he encouraged the church in Philippi to do the same. Never give up. Keep the faith and keep going.

philippians314

Friday Ramble: Connection

Connection.jpg

Several weeks ago, in another post, I can’t remember which one, I removed two paragraphs because I realized it didn’t fit with the rest of what I was writing.  I held onto those two paragraphs until I had another day to dig deeper into it.  And when I opened up the Word document to jog my memory on this topic, this is what I read:

It’s really, really easy to barrier yourself in this life.  All of our houses have garages that close, doors that lock, fences that border.  Our phones come with a do not disturb function on it and caller id, but before that, we were using voicemail to screen our calls (or was that just me?).  We have been moving towards isolation with furious speed for decades.  We blame the tools of this world – smart phones, social media, the internet – for all of it, but we, mankind, created those tools.

This is not a declaration against social media or cell phones or even the internet.  God is in every connection.  We can’t encrypt against his omnipresence.  We can’t go incognito from his omniscience.  And I believe he works as much in the virtual world as he does in the physical one.  You can’t block God.

This month has been particularly hard for me.  The end of this month will bring the one year anniversary of losing our second daughter.  And just like with our first, the weeks leading up to it have been hard.  Like I said earlier this week, I feel drained by any social interaction, so I’ve chosen to take some time to myself.

Then, I read these two paragraphs and realize how appropriate they are as a reminder. Even when I’m feeling the need to distance myself to work through grief, it is such good news that God remains connected.  And he has made himself known to me – through nature, my dogs, even conversations online with friends and strangers.  It’s so amazing to have people check in at random, but perfectly timed, moments.

So, thank you, friends.  Thank you to those of you who have commented on my blog recently.  You have made my heart smile.  Thank you to those who have sent private messages or small reminders to let us know that you are praying for us this month.  It has meant so much more than you will ever know.  In the midst of pain and grief, I can look to my Heavenly Father who provides for me, and I know that I am blessed.