Memorizing James: Learning the Art of Biblical Meditation

10.20.2014


I often write about the difficulties and challenges I face as a mom of three little ones. Some are unique to me and my family (like the time my kids locked me out of the house while I was chasing chickens in our backyard). However, I think most of what I write about, the stuff that really matters, is the kind of stuff we can all relate to in one way or another. That's why this topic is so important to me. Because I think as some point we all struggle making time for Bible Study. 

That's been me for the best 6 months or so. In fact if I'm honest with you, my Bible reading plan fizzled out sometime in March (when I birthed my third human being and become 17x times busier). 

It wasn't just a lack of time, but also a lack of focus and motivation. I started to feel like I would read and read and never really get anywhere. I usually do my Bible Study while the kids are napping which means the time I have varies greatly day-to-day, and it never fails that just as I start to really get into a passage someone wakes up crying ending my time in the Word and leaving me just wanting more. 

I was frustrated, and I felt guilty about spending so much time reading and never really feeling connected. 

Then my husband had this idea a few months ago to memorize the book of James together. Yes. The WHOLE book. We've memorized scripture verses together in the past, but this project was much bigger than any we'd undertaken before. 

I was reluctant and honeslty didn't think I'd ever actually finish. If I didn't have time to really read my Bible, how would I have time to memorize it? 

But I followed him. I committed myself to working on a couple new verses everyday. I said what I knew aloud to myself in the shower. I practiced during the day caring for my kids. My husband and I quizzed each other to pass the time on long car trips. 

The focus of my devotional time went from just reading and studying scripture to meditating on it, and I loved it! 

As I returned to the same passage day after day, week after week, I found that I was learning more and connecting to the text far more than I ever did when I was constantly reading. Instead of skimming the surface and moving on, I found myself repeatedly returning to a well that never runs dry. It is still amazing that even after having memorized the entire book over a month ago, I'm still learning new things about the text. 

The big picture and the small details all become clearer as I spend more time meditating on the verses in context. It's not just about memorizing but internalizing the lessons.  The time of intense focus on one passage of scripture has pulled me so much deeper into my understanding of scripture and breathed new life into my relationship with God.

It took us a month to memorize the entire book. It was fast, but I was motivated! And when I was officially done with James (I'll never really be done. I love it!), I instantly started devoring other books of scripture. With the Book of James always playing in the background of my mind, I saw the writings of Peter and Paul with new eyes and new understanding and new questions! 

As a busy mom of little ones, my life is unpredictable, and the time I have to be still and quiet, Bible open in my lap is hit or miss somedays. But now I never miss that precious time I spend in the Word. I repeat those chapters I know slowly in my head while I do laundry, drive, or make dinner and I meditate on them as I think about ways they apply to my life and my salvation. 

And the number of chapters I know is still growing! As I write this I have my Bible open to 1 Peter 2, stealing a second glance at my verses for today before heading off to make lunch. My hands may be busy and my kitchen full of chaos, but my heart and my mind belong to Jesus. 

Have you ever memorized a book of the Bible? Which book? How did it change the way you view scripture and Bible study.

Moving, Unpacking, and Finding a New Normal

10.15.2014



Hey there! My name is Katherine and I blog here. 

What? You don't remmeber me? Well, that's probably because I've been MIA for the last...ummm...five weeks. 

If you get my newsletters (which you should!) then you know that my husband recently accepted a job at a new church which required my family to pack up and move across the state to North Arkansas. We knew about the change for a while in advance, but the actual packing and moving part kind of caught me off gaurd. One weekend we were looking for a rent house and four days later we were pulling out of our drive way in a U-Haul. 

We unloaded our stuff here. 


It's a charming little house in a residential neighbor where every other house pretty much looks exactly the same. Except all the other house have ten million hanging plants and fancy front porch decorations. I put a little pink wagon and an ice chest on our porch. Cute, right? 

Really though, I couldn't be happier with our rent house or the neighborhood. It's only a few minutes from the church, the library, McDonald's, Subway, and my parents house, which is just about everywhere I could ever want to go. 

Except Walmart. Our house really isn't far from Walmart in distance but getting there requires you to take the road less traveled and thus hard to find when you are out driving by yourself. I'm not going to tell you how many times I've gotten turned around trying to get there. It's ridiculous. 

I know finding my way around a new city will just take time and practice, which is why I've made it a priority to visit Walmart almost every day since we moved in. Take that back. Yesterday I went to Walgreens just to spice things up. 

When we were packing, I threw a ton of stuff away like an old mop and outdated ketchup, but instead of making a list and replacing those things all in one trip, I'm choosing to go get them one at a time as I have need. It's not the most convienent method, but it's working for us. I do look forward to getting my feet back under me. Meal planning, housekeeping, budgeting, I'm gonna get right on that! Next week. 

My family is adjusting to our new home well. Sometime in the next few weeks I'll give you a virtual tour, and show you all the things I love about our house, but for now I'll just show you one of my favorite features. 


My washer and dryer are in the garage! It's actually not as inconvenient as it may seem. The door to the garage is right off of the kitchen and easy to access, but I love that I can just toss my dirty clothes outside and leave them there! 

Remember that old adage, "Out of sight, out of mind." It applies here. In our old house, the washer and dryer and ALL the dirty clothes were in my kitchen, under my feet, and constantly in my way. 

But here in the new house? What dirty clothes?!?!

A Letter to My Little One

9.22.2014

You wake up everyday before 6 am. I try to get you to sleep later, but you are an early riser just like your sister was. Often you will lay in your bed and play with your toes, cooing and talking. Sometimes you cry and your dad goes to comfort you, giving you a pacifier while you drift back to sleep. 

I don't usually see you until 6:30 am or so. Your dad brings you to me from your bed in the living room. You sleep on a pallet, tucked away between the couch and a now empty bookshelf, but you don't seem to mind the floor. 

Those first few minutes each morning are my favorite. You are always so happy to see me and of course, you are starving! You and I snuggle up in bed while you alternate between eating and smacking your lips trying to get me to smile. You have so much joy. 


After you eat we join the rest of the family in the kitchen. I put you in your bouncer on the kitchen table. You refuse to lay down, preferring to sit straight up and reach for your toes, listening to the breakfast table conversation. 

You love being in the middle of everyone. I often put you on the floor during the day. You like having your brother and sister crowd right around you, leaning in far enough that you can grab their ears. They squeal with delight, kissing you just like mommy does. 



Cupcake loves to hold you too. She tries to pick you up when you fall over and always wants you to sit in her lap. I love seeing the kindness she has toward you, and I encourage her efforts, even if they are less than effective. She is only 15 months older than you, and you are growing so quickly!


It is precious to see her chubby cheeks peeping around the side of your head, both of her arms wrapped tightly your waist. You sometimes look less than comfortable, but her confidence is endearing. She is your big sister! 

Rooster is more interested in wrestling with you. His knees straddle your little body, as he leans down next to your face and mimics the baby noises you make. He squeezes your cheeks between his palms and laughs as you try to stick his fingers in your mouth. 

It used to make me nervous having them so close to you, but as you thicken up around the middle I worry less, and laugh more. I want you to know this kind of sibling love that is so different from my own. And I want them to learn how to treat someone younger and weaker than themselves. 

They are learning kindness, and you are having fun!



It's not soon after you wake, however, that you are ready for a nap. I pick you up and whisk you away to my room. I settle you in the corner of my bed, kiss you a million times, and whisper in your ear. "I love you, I love you, I love you" I can't seem to say it enough. You grab my face and giggle. 

Then I give you a pacifier, and a blanket, and I leave. You cry every time. In fact, you scream, and it breaks my heart. I quickly shut the door and stand on the other side, praying that you will go to sleep quickly. At that moment I always second guess myself. Always. 

But then it's over. A few minutes is all it takes for you to simply settle in and go to sleep.

Except sometimes you don't. You continue to cry, and when that happens I know that what you really need is me. I sneak back into the room and pick you up. You laugh and kick your legs in pure excitement as I hold you close and offer to nurse you. Sometimes you eat. Sometimes you just lay there and try to grab my nose. We snuggle and pretend like it's just you and me in the whole wide world. 

A few minutes is all it takes. I lay you back down and walk away listening to you scream, again. But this time you are asleep before I shut the door, angry that I have to go but secure enough in my love to just sleep. 

This cycle repeats itself all day long, Waking and eating, giggling, playing, and finally sleeping. 

But do you know what I love the most? 

It's the way your face lights up when I walk into the room. You know me. I'm the one who feeds you, holds you, kisses you, and changes your diaper. I comfort you when you are startled and protect you when you are scared. I play with you and tickle you and make you laugh. It's all me, everyday. 



The more practice I get at this mothering thing, the more I begin to understand this beautiful relationship we have. It's more than simply caring for you, making sure your needs are met. It's about showing you so much love you can't help but squeal with delight every time I walk into the room. 


For nine months I carried you in my womb. I prayed for you and labored for you. I was your whole world. And now that you are here and growing quickly, I know that the time we have together, just you and me, is so short. Soon you will be running away from me as I call your name. You will eat from the table and drink from a cup. And the highlight of your day will be your dad walking in the door from work, ready to play. 

You won't want just me. This special bond that links you so closely to my heart will fade away to be replaced with something new and distinctly grown-up. It's happened twice before and at the time I honesty didn't know what I was going to miss. 



It's tiresome to be needed all the time. It can make for long days and sometimes sleepless nights. However, I know how heart breaking it is to hold your sweet toddler while they sleep and wish they would just stay small enough to hold forever. I'd give anything to nurse those babies just one more time. And yet they keep growing. 

So know this my sweet baby boy, I cherish these days with you. They are not always easy, but they are precious. I cherish the time you spend in my arms, laughing, eating, and playing. I cherish the joy and fun you bring to my life, and even your constant desire for attention. I cherish these days because they are a gift from God for you and me. Not every baby is loved so much, and not every mom gets to share in the beautiful closeness we have together. 

This gift is unmerited favor. God's very first gift to you is LIFE here in my arms. 



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