I’ve had a little bit of writer’s block lately. I’ve had a hard time finding the time to concentrate on writing a blog. It’s not that I don’t have anything to share. I think it’s just the opposite. We are in a beautiful place, seeing amazing things, participating in community activities, exploring local treasures… The problem comes with trying to share our experiences with those of you who love reading about our adventures without sounding like I’m saying the same thing over and over. I also always like to share what God has laid on my heart to hopefully encourage or challenge you. I’ve had something brewing for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been trying to articulate it into blog form. Today, I am holed up in my bedroom, worship music blasting, my dog, Tipper, at my feet, and the creative juices seem to be flowing, so let’s see where this takes us…
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the speaker was sharing that her church is doing a “read through the New Testament over the summer plan”. She was voicing how difficult it was for her to read 4 or 5 chapters a day and then move on the next day to the next 4-5 chapters. Having done many Bible studies, she was wanting to camp out and dig deeper in places, but instead, she had to keep moving to keep up with the plan. My brain and heart began to chew over her statement…
At the beginning of the year, I began a “Read Through the Bible in a Year Plan” for the 4th year in a row. This will be my 4th time to read the entire Bible. I’m not looking for a pat on the back. I’m simply sharing this to say that you can do it, too. I LOVE reading the Bible. It is now the first thing I do every morning without question or thought before my feet hit the floor. Last year, I invited my Mom to join me. My Mom read the whole thing with me in 2018. It was her first time to read it cover to cover. At the end of the year, I was conflicted. Do I start over in 2019? Do I do a more in-depth Bible study? Do I do something on my own? Do I invite others to join me? What if I invite others to join me, and I miss a day? If I invite others to join me, do I share my notes with them? What if they have a question I can’t answer? In the end, I was convicted. Why would I want to keep this to myself? I’ve been in and around church ministry enough to know that the majority of professing Christians have never read the entire Bible. Christianity has become more about morality, politics, tradition, and denominations than what the Bible actually says. I needed to get over my insecurities and fear surrounding this because there were most definitely people in my circle who would enjoy reading through the Bible with me (many of them for the first-time cover-to-cover). I put it out on Facebook, and 25 people joined me. About half of them are actively engaged in reading with me almost halfway through the year. I find this really exciting because I get to share this thing that I love so much with other people. I hope they treasure the experience even half as much as I do!
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
Reading the entire Bible is like flying over a city in an airplane. You get an overview. You can see the outline. You can see how it’s laid out. Sometimes a landmark stands out. You see how certain things are laid out compared to others. Some views are different than you expected. Some structures are more prominent than others. It is very special. Sometimes it’s hard to get oriented from above, but you know that eventually when the plane lands, you can walk the streets to see more detail. You can spend a day visiting a landmark, understanding its purpose and context. When walking the streets, you can focus on people, on stories, and the details of each individual piece of the puzzle that you previously only had an overview of.
Are either of these things more important than the other? That is the question I find myself asking. Is it more important to understand the overview or to camp out and explore a piece of the puzzle? I have come to the conclusion that they are both gifts in their own way. They both enrich the experience. To completely understand, you can’t have one without the other. You have to understand the big picture for the smaller pieces to completely make sense, but you cannot construct a puzzle if you don’t have all the pieces. You have to read the Bible in its glorious entirety to know how the Gospel fits together. You have to explore a place by walking the streets to get a true picture and feel for the culture and history. If you just hit a site or two, and move on, you might learn a thing or two, but you don’t truly get a flavor of the place. Does that make sense? If you only study a section of Scripture, a topic, or a book of the Bible, you don’t get the whole picture of who Jesus Christ is and why He came to die for us. I pray this blog at least challenges you to think about where you fit in this balance. Are you just riding the airplane…enjoying the ride, keeping your distance from the “streets”? (This tends to be my default both in my spiritual walk and in my everyday life.) Are you just mindlessly walking the streets…going through the motions, talking the talk, maybe even walking the walk…but neglecting the big picture? I’m truly convicted today that we are supposed to do both.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Our travels have taken a different path this year. We’ve previously done the fly over approach, spending a week or two each place, seeing what we can see as quickly as we can, and moving on. This year, God placed it on our hearts to slow down and walk the streets, meet people, engage, get involved in the community, get to know people, and let them know us. We decided to return to this beautiful river town in Iowa, and to stay for the entire summer. By being in one place, it has opened up so many opportunities that never really occurred to us when we were taking the airplane flyover approach. Though we have seen and learned A TON in the past four years of full-time travel, this has been a new experience.
Tyler was able to attend a week-long Wildlife Camp at a local state park because we were in the area, knew about it, and had time to sign him up before it happened. He absolutely loved it, made new friends, and shared his story of living a life of adventure with his counselors and new friends. The kid is a light wherever he goes. People are drawn to him…both other kids and adults. He is interesting, intelligent, and can adapt to pretty much any environment. I want to be just like him when I grow up! He is a true example of Shining the Light of Jesus Everywhere He Goes!
Since we are here for the summer, we were able to get library cards at the local library. Tyler is participating in their summer reading program, and Miss Emily is going to start volunteering there during the week. Her summer just got a lot more fun. She is going to be assisting the children’s librarian with cleaning out and organizing a new area for a “Maker’s Space” they just recently received a grant for, along with helping out with other events the library hosts over the summer (totally up her alley)!
In my previous blog, I told you that God has placed this community in Eastern Iowa on our hearts above all other places we have been in the past…almost 4 years. We constantly seek His will and plan for our family. We want to be exactly where He wants us to be. We haven’t stopped thinking about this place since we left last year early September. We look forward to continuing this journey of plugging into the community and making new friends here over the coming months. It’s really neat to watch God do His thing! As we walk these streets, we acknowledge that we are a tiny piece to His BIG, incredible plan! Thank you for journeying with us.