2015 ended, for me, at 10:00 pm. After putting our children to bed at their usual time, my parents, my husband, and I played cards and talked for a while. By around 9:30, I was really starting to yawn. The schedule of the past month–Christmas shopping, Christmas wrapping, Christmas baking, pre-Christmas events, Christmas Eve worship service, Star Wars: Episode VII opening day (it was a big deal for my son and me!), getting Christmas gifts shipped to family we wouldn’t see, packing for my family of five to be on the opposite coast for ten days, a short road trip to Philly and DC after a few days in Virginia, our youngest son’s first birthday party on New Year’s Eve day, the list goes on–we. were. tired.
Going to bed “early” on New Year’s Eve was the first wise thing I decision I made going into this new year.
And I hope it’s not the last.
The past two years have been a bit of a blur. From the moment we became foster parents in January 2014 until very recently, I have felt like many of my thoughts, words, and actions were reactionary. Year One launched me into what we have come to call The Red: intense emotions, fatigue, fear, and a world that was completely foreign to me (child-rearing). Adjusting to life with two children was harder than I ever imagined, particularly because we became a family under the most stressful of circumstances, and we all experienced trauma as we adjusted to life together. While Crisis Mode seemed to tone down by the end of 2014, the fairly sudden addition of a new baby in January of 2015 replaced one kind of chaos with another (beautiful!) kind of chaos: not one, not two, but three children came into our lives in the span of 364 days! In September 2015, we were able to adopt our two older children, which was a glorious experience. Everyone seemed to relax and settle in as a forever family. We’re adapting, finally, to a new normal. Most major crises have been averted. There are scars, to be sure. But we’re in a good place. And there is a lot of love in our home, which covers a multitude of things.
I have relied heavily on the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to get me through the past two years, having to be satisfied with short, frenzied cries for help and short, frenzied breath prayers whispered in repetition while driving to the grocery store or Target or while taxiing children to appointments–doctor, therapists, dentist, educators–and activities–soccer, jump rope club, basketball, ballet. I have dipped my cup of desperation into the well of scripture stored up in my mind from years of Bible study, and it has been sufficient for that time. But the grace that brought me safe thus far, while consistent, ever-present, and never-failing, has begun to feel, well, thin.
I have not been able to pray much beyond my present circumstances for a while, but recently I started taking some deeper breaths and lifting my head up a bit–just a bit–to see past the diapers and the finger paint and the screen time negotiations. And when I did, I realized the thing I’ve missed most these past two years is, simply put, the Bible.
Word of God, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so.
It’s not like I have not read the Bible at all these past two years. I have. I have preached several sermons, which has required hours spent in texts. But those few bursts were the exception, not the norm, and that’s not good enough for me–not in the long term. I’ve had grace to live on yesterday’s bread for a while now, and when yesterday’s bread was rotten, the ravens showed up. I was nourished. But grace for that season has run dry for me, and I am hungry–no, ravenous–for fresh bread.
As I thought about what this might look like, I thought about this blog and how much I have missed writing it. I thought about you, and I wondered if maybe some of you are also a bit out of practice for Bible study and might benefit from the community aspect of doing this together. I thought about the fact that I need to be realistic about what I can expect from myself, knowing the daily interruptions and surprises that frequently thwart my best-laid plans (“He always takes a nap at this time! I don’t know why he isn’t asleep right now!!”) I thought about the fact that the one thing I have felt I lacked more than anything these past two years was wisdom: wisdom as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, as a church leader, as a community advocate, as a human being who needs more sleep and needs to take better care of herself. And all this thinking led me to today: launching a new year-long weekly series on wisdom.
The Nuts and Bolts
Fifty-Two Weeks of Wisdom is a weekly devotional blog. Posts will go up every Monday (and if you are a subscriber, will land in your inbox when they are published). Each post will feature a short prayer, a Bible verse or passage that deals with wisdom, a short reflection on the lesson of that passage, and a suggestion on how or why that verse is applicable for us today. If you have read Coffee Stains on my Bible in the past, you will recognize the format–my practice of Lectio Divina.
In addition to the format listed above, I will include some additional resources aimed at promoting Bible memorization and keeping God’s words of wisdom ever before you. First, there will be an image you can download and save to your smartphone’s home screen, so that each week, you will have a scripture verse in front of you to meditate on and memorize as you are in line at the grocery store or sitting on the bus or train heading into work. Second, there will be a printable sheet with that week’s verse printed several times, which you can cut out and post in places you will see it regularly: inside the medicine cabinet, above your kitchen sink, on your car dashboard, above the changing table, beside your bed… you get the picture.
The first devotional will go up this Monday. If you have feedback, questions, or suggestions for how to make this more helpful to you, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave comments under the posts or email me, noting that I check that email about once a week. Also, if you happen to mention this on social media, the tag I’m using is #52Wisdom, and I invite you to use it too.
I want my life to be saturated by God’s word in 2016. I want to grow in God’s wisdom. I also want to be realistic about what that might look like for a busy wife and mom of young children (or for you, in whatever ways you’re feeling spread thin.)
I think I’ve landed on it with #52Wisdom.
Let’s jump in and see, shall we?