A Few Thoughts on Blogging

I just renewed the domain name for this blog, which reminds me that it’s been two years since I got started.  My hope when I began my blog was simply to inspire others to spend time in the Bible in a creative way.

I love the Bible and feel deeply convicted that it is a book for everyone.  When I see the Bible on the list of most challenged books, I think people today are so confused about the Bible and the positive impact that it has had on history, culture, and the lives of millions of people around the world.  It is filled with treasure.  My heart’s desire upon starting the blog was simply to do something to inspire more people to take their Bible’s off the shelf and read.

Maybe it’s something about being raised Presbyterian.  I remember reading in confirmation class that Presbyterians were leaders in the movement for public education in our country.  The hope:  Everyone would be able read the Bible.

It’s been a blessing and a gift to see the Bible journaling movement explode.  When people share creative interpretations of Biblical passages they naturally gravitate to passages that have spoken to generation after generation.  They share the verses and stories that have changed the course of history.  They share the Bible that I’ve heard preached at church.

(not the Bible others think should be banned—a rather narrow-minded view, in my opinion.)

That was my hope at first.

Here’s the funny thing about my Christian life:  the fruit of my endeavors always seems to be in my own life, growing my faith, helping my spiritual formation.  I start out thinking that I am going to do something for God or the Bible, but God doesn’t need my help, and the Bible doesn’t exactly need a cheerleader.  When I look back on the past two years, I see a wonderful adventure in my own life.

So if you are feeling the nudge to begin a blog yourself, I thought I’d share some of unexpected benefits of blogging:

  • I’ve become more comfortable being known for the kind of Christian that I am. I’ve always been a quiet Christian, very at home in secular circles at school and at work and in social settings.  And even at church, I keep certain things to myself.  For example, I am a Presbyterian who loves reading about the lives of Catholic saints.  I just don’t generally bring that up!  One of my earliest posts was about St. Francis.  When I posted it, I felt like I just confused everyone in my life.  Blogging helps me keep it real!
  • I’ve become more comfortable writing. Most of us learn to write in school or in our professional lives, where a certain style of writing is preferred.  Blogging has helped me find a voice that feels natural to me.  This has helped me in all the writing I do.  I once struggled to write simple e-mails!
  • I had a writing instructor say “Writing is a tool for thinking.” As I work out my thoughts on my blog after doodling in my Bible, I’ve made all kinds of fun discoveries connecting one passage to another or to my own life.
  • It’s not possible to write about every event, but the events I have blogged about remain part of my prayer life whether it be the conflict in Syria or trouble race relations in the U.S.
  • The blog has kept me accountable. This has happened more often than I can count:  I post something on my blog and find the passage I just wrote about applies directly to my life.  This has helped me live my faith.  My post on gelatos, which became my most-read post, is a case in point.  The words I wrote about service have been guiding me through this year.
  • Best of all: writing a blog has helped me make wonderful connections.  I’ve made treasured friends, who share my love of the Word and making good use of the margins!

If you are feeling the nudge to start a blog, it’s easy to do.  You may inspire others to begin a journey in Bible journaling.  You may find the greatest adventure is your own!

 

 

Fervent

After Revival Camp, I’m a bit addicted to travel journals.  It’s just nice to have one as a keepsake of an important Bible study.  Right now, I am part of a woman’s Bible study at my church.  We are reading the book Fervent:  A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer.  The book is a companion to the movie War Room.  I felt inspired to make some travel journals for the women in my group.

My son recently talked me into getting some oil pastels while we were shopping at WalMart.  He said to me, “You can review them on your blog!”  He knows that it doesn’t take much to convince me to try new art supplies!  I haven’t tried them in my Bible yet, but I had fun making a cover for the travel journal with them.  It’s possible to create some fun, messy textures with these.

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After I made the cover, I simply scanned it and saved it as a photo.  Then I printed it on card stock and cut it to size with a trim cutter.  I also cut six pages of regular photo paper to fit on the inside.  Then I used a long-reach stapler to bind the books.  I am looking forward to sharing these with my friends tomorrow!

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I’ve enjoyed reading the book so far.  I absolutely love when an author can take a passage of scripture and make me think of it in an entirely new way.  Priscilla Shirer picked out a story about Elisha recovering an ax head from the water and turned it into a story about how God can help us recover our passion:

The servant was doing good when he lost his cutting edge.  He was being productive, building a new dwelling for himself and for those others involved in the school of prophets.  In fact, if he hadn’t been working so hard–if he’d just been sitting around doing nothing–there’s little chance the ax would’ve ever become gradually loosened and ultimately dislodged.  This tells me that being engaged in good, even godly, productive things is not an automatic guard against losing your cutting edge.

She goes onto say that it took a work of God to retrieve the ax head:

Listen to me.  Nothing–nothing!–is too far gone that your God cannot resurrect it.  Even your cutting edge.  So go to him to get it back.  Don’t try to regain it yourself.  Don’t set your hopes on other people or circumstances to fuse it back into the fiber of your being.  Trust it into God’s care.  Only His miraculous work can make it bubble back up to the surface where it belongs.  And He is more than willing to do it.

It never fails to amaze me how much wisdom there is in the Bible, even a simple story about a man feeling suddenly dismayed as a borrowed ax head fell into Jordan river.  Her interpretation of this story definitely needed to find a way into my Bible…

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Update (9/20/2016):  As I was drifting to sleep last night I thought about this story in relation to the time that Jesus walked on water.  Peter reminds me of this worker, eager to build a home for the prophets of God.  In the story of Jesus walking on the water, it’s not an ax head that sinks, but Peter.  As Peter is lifted from the water, he receives his cutting edge.  Jesus tells Peter two chapters in Matthew later: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Sometimes sinking moments lead to breakthroughs in our faith.

My Last Report from Revival Camp

At the beginning of the summer, when I signed up for Revival Camp through Illustrated Faith, I said to myself, “I shouldn’t do this.  I don’t need another project.  I’ll never finish it.”  Then I felt that nudge from the Holy Spirit to do it anyway.  I’ve been astonished at how closely this devotional with odd passages from Nehemiah has paralleled my own life.  The camp guide unexpectedly turned into a life guide for me.

We were planning a trip to Baltimore this weekend, but honestly, I just felt more like staying home and Bible Journaling, so that’s what I’ve been doing this long Labor Day weekend, finishing the last three devotions from camp.  My husband played with our children and I feel like I’ve been on a mini-retreat!

I loved the Grounded devotion and the story that went along with it.  My major take-away from the devotional is that we can resolve many sticky situations when we ground ourselves in God’s Word.  In this case, a supposed prophet told Nehemiah that there was a conspiracy to kill him and that he should go hide in the temple.  That just did not sound right to Nehemiah.  Here’s how he reasoned through the situation:  “Should such a man as I run away?  And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?  I will not go in.”  Nehemiah finds the right path through this situation by recognizing that God is not likely to send someone with advice that goes against all the instructions he first received.  And Nehemiah shows courage by not running away, and humility by recognizing he is not the kind of man who can enter the temple.  There were those who wanted to give Nehemiah a bad name, but Nehemiah did not fall for it because he was grounded in God’s Word. Grounded

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The Wild devotion focused on the testimony given by the people of Israel.  It was a retelling of many of the events of the Old Testament as a way of demonstrating God’s steadfast love.  The devotion encouraged me to reflect on my own life and what God has brought me through.  One of the passions I’ve focused on throughout camp is vocation, so I wrote down all the ways that God has helped me through my 20-year career in investments (a fun thing to think about on Labor Day weekend).  Honestly, it’s been a wild and crazy trip that began with me getting a job other than the one I applied for, a few attempts on my part to do something else, and ultimately finding a sense of purpose in an often frustrating business.  God has blessed me with so many people who have helped me along the way.  As I wrote everything down, I kept repeating to myself:  “God if you only had done this for me, it would have been enough.”

This week’s devotion turned into a prayer in my journal:

God may my journey testify to your faithfulness.  May I always listen to you and follow your instructions.  Let me rise above conflict.  Refresh, revive, and restore my passion.  May every step bear witness to your passionate love!

This reminded me of another prayer I say often:

Grant that I may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love and serve the church and all souls with joy and simplicity, lighting up the paths of the earth with faith and love.

Both prayers ended up in my journal:

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The final week of camp focuses on “Shine.”  It feels good to confess this to the world on Labor Day weekend:  All my work is done with God’s help!”  Not just the work I get paid for, but all of it!  If the laundry gets folded and put away, praise God!  It’s an everyday miracle!!!  I wrote down the words “joy” and “simplicity” because those are the two things I notice most when I feel God’s help.  I have joy in my daily tasks and there’s a simplicity that shows up even in challenging situations.  In all my work, I try to follow this advice from St. Francis:  “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’ll be doing the impossible.”  This has always worked for me in the past.

Lately, I’ve been going through a strange season of life.  Instead of feeling in the flow; I keep meeting resistance.  I am loving and serving, but without the consolations of joy and simplicity.  I relate to Nehemiah’s dilemma; I can’t run away.  In the past, God has moved mountains for me—I recently tripped over something smaller than an ant hill.  (Maybe God wants to know me the blessings of strength and resilience?)

When I read the final line of the devotion, I burst into tears:  “Friend, He’s rubbing the dullness off your sparkle and about to hit you with a light.  For one reason…to shine for Him!”  I always hope that others can see God clearly when good work gets done, but I also worry that I’ll mess up and make God look bad.  If I testify that God is with me in all that I do, I wish I could do everything better.  And yet I know that God is with me.  I feel that even my journal was completed with help from God, who kept me going simply by meeting me right where I was in life through the Words of each weekly devotion.

With god's help

This Labor Day weekend my prayer is that God meets you in all the work that you do.  May you know the blessings of loving and serving with joy and simplicity in whatever your vocation may be.  May God bless you with strength and resilience as needed.  And if you find yourself in an especially challenging season of life, may you find joy in the God who has promised that he will never leave nor forsake you.