Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tiny seeds.

"Tiny seeds can increase abundantly."
  I wrote that quote down sometime last spring. I don't remember why it stood out to be at the time or where I even read it, but I've found myself coming back to it a lot lately. 
  In January {or was it February?} I set some goals for myself to become more disciplined with reading my Bible, prayer, and memorizing Scripture. I decided to read through the Bible, memorize two verses each month, and commit to praying regularly {using my prayer journal to keep me on track and focused!}. Lofty goals that seemed exciting at the time- how cool would it be to end 2015 having read the entire Bible, committed a lot of God's word to memory, and to have prayed consistently for my world, family, friends, and self?!
  To be honest? The excitement wore off quickly. Probably somewhere around 1 & 2 Kings. Spoiler alert: some bits of the Old Testament are looong. Then I found out I was pregnant and the really human part of me was tired and had zero energy to wake up early and carve out time for these things. Plus, a year is a long time to commit to something! 
  But! 10 months later {or 82%, as my hand SheReadsTruth app tells me}- and I finally understand that little quote up there. Tiny seeds can increase abundantly. Making time every single day {or catching up on a few days every once in a while} to sit with Jesus is worth it. Always. Over these last 10 months, I've read my Bible in the quiet of the morning with a warm cup of tea. Quaint, right? But I've also read it while waiting to get my hair cut at GreatClips. I've carried my Bible around the house for a couple of hours, chasing my toddler and reading bits when I get a break from saying no and pushing him on his truck. I would have loved for each morning in 2015 to have started off quiet, just me and Jesus. That's just not my real life. And that's ok!
  I've also absolutely loved some readings and been rocked by them. Other days, I learn a lot about God's people and the history that the Bible spans. And, truthfully, other days, I'm not quite sure what I've read but I walk away trusting that God's word won't return void and maybe some of the readings will draw me back at another point in my life. 
  Why am I saying all of this? Because it seems like I've had a lot of honest discussions with different women lately about reading the Bible. And the discipline of it. The thing about discipline is that you can't see its impact close up and right away. The big picture is where you can track the change it has on your life. 10 months into working hard at being disciplined with time in the Bible and prayer, and I can see the change it has had on my life. I know God's word more intimately. I read God's story every day and am more clearly able to see him in my own life. I'm slower to give someone advice or chime in with my opinion on something and quicker to simply pray for things. I'm more patient with Caleb. I'm more intentional with loving Justin well. Writing down my prayers and looking back on them has shown me very clear ways that God has heard and responded to me. Answered prayers that I may have forgotten or overlooked before are so clear to me now. 
  I didn't go on some crazy intense spiritual retreat or join a life changing Bible study. I have taken small steps every day {give or take! I miss days!} to draw nearer to God. My prayer and Bible study lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and most days, its closer to 15 minutes. That's ok. That's what this real season of life looks like for me right now. I'm sure a few years from now when I'm not chasing a toddler and making chicken nuggets and reading endless boardbooks and changing diapers on repeat, my time might look different. Right now, this is what I've had to offer God and he's met me  here for the last 10 months. 
  With only two months left in my reading plan, I'm already looking forward to 2016 and how I will approach Bible study. This book seems like a great resource to guide me and I'm thinking of still staying away from devotionals. I love plans like SheReadsTruth and others that have great commentary. Sometimes, though, I get caught up in the commentary. This past year of just reading the Bible has helped cut out some of the background noise and I want to keep that up. I still love reading notes and other's thoughts on passages, but not in a way that I let it guide my reading. 
  I'm writing this as much for myself as I am for you. How are you reading the Bible these days? Are you reading it at all? If not, can I gently encourage you  to start and not be overwhelmed? It's so good, but it'll seem a bit boring or confusing too. The whole point is doing it and starting somewhere. Those tiny seeds of discipline and the act of just digging in will, I guarantee it, produce something bigger than you could imagine!
  Have any great study ideas I should try for 2016? I want to hear them!!

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