Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wonderfully Complex?: It's In the Bible, Yo

This summer, our deemed, slow summer, we've done well.  We've been homeschooling consistently, hosting and attending playdates, enjoying minimal scheduled activities (just Miss E's gymnastics which is only an hour a week), and spending lots of time swimming (vitamin D!). 

But one thing I've really neglected is Bible verse memorizing.

Now, I'm not your average Jesus-girl.  And I'm guessing most of us Jesus-girls really aren't the "average" that we read about in good Christian girl books.  You know, the mom who gets up at 5 a.m. just to light a candle, sip herbal tea, and curl up in a floral armchair in the corner of her bedroom. She has a Bible on her lap and a box of facial tissues nearby for lots and lots of good Christian girl crying while she confesses all her sins, prays profusely for her husband and kids and all sixty of her family members and dear friends (and don't forget kids' future spouses!), and asks for strength and wisdom for the coming day. 

Not me.

Here's the real me:  I don't like long sermons.  They bore me.  I don't like slow, whiny worship songs.  They make me cringe. I don't like prayers that seem to have six sequels.  I don't like crying.  I don't like surrender, submission, or blubbering confessions.  I don't like corny lines or Christian brush-offs.  I don't like when people say, "I'm blessed!  How are you?"  I don't like Bible studies based on books written by women who wear a lot of lipstick and have perfectly-shaped hair.  I don't trust those women.  I don't like fluff. 

I like concise.  I like honest. I like people who aren't afraid to blurt out a curse word when it's appropriate for the situation and they are truly feeling really, really crappy about what's going on in their lives!  I like persistence.  I like being uplifted.  I like worship songs that make you dance and think, God is really, really great and big and all-knowing and powerful. I like people who talk about hard stuff but don't wallow in self-pity.  I like seeing God made bigger through people pointing up, not at one another.  I like Christians with cool tats that symbolize their faith.  I like real, authentic Christianity that is messy, yet simple, and unapologetic. 

But I am, of course, a contradiction. 

I spend a silly portion of my day thinking about the ways I've failed myself and others. I compare myself to others, mostly those I follow/friend on Facebook.  I then feel guilty reading anything on FB when instead, the good Jesus girl should be praying or confessing or working on her selfishness, lack of empathy, or unkind thoughts. 

And in my desperate moments, when everything possible has been spilled, when we are running late or the goals for the day have not been met, when my kids have watched too much TV, when the kitchen is a disaster and I have yet to make dinner, when my blood sugar is skyrocketing or plummeting AGAIN (ain't nobody got time for that!), when each child has (what they believe to be) an immediate need---all at the exact same time, and when my husband calls to cheerfully ask, "How is your day going?"...

When those things are happening, it's when I utter once sentence to Jesus:

"Lord, give me strength."

It's sometimes all I can muster.

So tonight, as I type this, my husband is at a men's church event, all three of my children are sleeping peacefully in their beds, and I'm sitting on the screened in porch with a glass of red wine, I'm looking up Bible verses to help my kids memorize.

Because I know, I know, how important Scripture memorization is.

You see, I used to memorize Scripture for purely selfish reasons. Like at church camp.  Campers had to memorize 7 camp-themed Bible verses in order to earn our camp t-shirt.  You HAD to have a camp t-shirt.  It was a shirt with a horrid design (usually a sword or shield that symbolized spiritual battles...or something like that).  And on the last night of camp, you ran around at dusk, permanent marker in hand, letting your new best friends sign your shirt (yes, like a cast or a yearbook). It was a BIG deal.

I used to, like all my fellow campers, memorize those verses as quickly as possible to score a shirt and move on.  We didn't acknowledge, appreciate, or even grasp the significant of Scripture memorization.

But as an adult, I get it.

Bible verses have whispered their way through my soul in some very dark and very wonderful times. These were often times it had been weeks, even months, since I'd cracked open my Bible.

I hid the words in my heart, even though I didn't realize it, all those years ago. 

And these words have tremendously benefited me.  Nourished me.  Reminded me.  Convicted me.

I spend too much time feeling guilty about what I'm not doing instead of praising God for what I have and am able to do through Him---His grace, His timing, His love, His blessing.

I spend too much time thinking, "I'll be happy when..." or stressing about what is on the schedule this week, this month, or even this year. When God says worry about today, not tomorrow.  Today is enough.

I spend too much time listening to voices that do not matter. God wants me to have discernment.  To focus on Him.  Seek first His kingdom, His righteousness, His plan.  All else will fall into place.

I spend too much time seeking the next opportunity.  Instead, God tells me He knows His plans for me.  Those plans involve a future and hope.

Sometimes there are wonderful things surrounding me.  And God taps me on the shoulder and shows me the most vibrant, colorful sunset.  See that?  "That's Me," He says.  He allows a stranger, a friend, or even one of my own crew (husband or kids) to say the perfect thing at the perfect time, and He says, "That's me, too."  He brings me new friends, new experiences, new chances.  That's Him.

So tonight, as I looked up Bible verses to memorize with my kids, I was fiddling with a website that allows the user to choose which Bible version the verse appears in.  I was trying to find versions I was more familiar with.  I typed in Psalm 139:14, which I'm most familiar with as this:

Psalm 139:14  (NKJV)
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

But then I decided to try a few other versions, and God surprised me with this: 

Psalm 139:14 New Living Translation (NLT)
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Thanking God for my complexity?  And doing so while, in the same verse, admiring God's workmanship (in creating me)? 
That's wonderful? 
Messy me?
I so easily forget the point of salvation.  The gift that it is.
It's for messiness.  Not perfection.
It's for sin. Not purity.
It's for ugliness. Not prettiness.
It's for sorting out.  Not having it all together.
It's for conviction and guilt and shame.  Not for carefreeness and innocence and confidence.
I think I've taken so long to get this Bible memory stuff underway with my kids because I've been carrying too much of my own "stuff" to think we are worthy of the endeavor of digging a little deeper.  Teaching Miss E addition, subtraction, reading...these things are easy.  Teaching Baby E how to write her name, how to recognize her numbers and count, how to draw her shapes...easy. 
But to teach truth.  That's heavy.
Until we jump in headfirst and just do it, the heaviness will prevail.
And that's not what God wants for us. 
The thing is, I feel incredibly unprepared to teach my kids anything about or in the Bible. 
But if I think about it, I am prepared.  I've been getting prepared my entire life. 
God doesn't need perfect.  Not even close-to. 
He's the perfection.
I'm ready. 
Let's do this. 
And let's start with the truth (which sets me free). 
I'm wonderfully complex.
So are you.
And that's...
well, He said it.


  1. Loved this reflection of yours. And alright, so you don't like crying-- gotta say - I teared up a little here. We are WONDERFULLY imperfect. We are just who HE created us to be in all of our imperfection, we were perfectly created by HIM. You ARE just who you were created to be TODAY-thank you for reminding me of this too! Now go get 'em, Momma!


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