Learning the Bible as an Adult

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Learning Bible Stories as an Adult

As someone who’s been in the church my whole entire life, occasionally I forget that there are people who haven’t. Your parents stop going when you’re kid. Something traumatic happens that keeps you from wanting to face God. Maybe you didn’t leave until after high school, but you still feel like you learned nothing about the actual Bible.

I teach our Sunday School class, for young-ish people in our church – right now, we’re all married couples and most of us have young children. Two of these friends have admitted that they fell away from church at an early age, due to their parents’ choice or their own, and they just don’t know a lot about the Bible.

I am so passionate about teaching the Bible. As young as possible and right onto when you enter Heaven! Since it is living and active, we will always have something new to learn. Right now I am doing a read-the-Bible-in-90-days plan. And I will outright confess that I’m not sure I’ve ever read some of these books in their entirety before (Jeremiah, Ezekiel). I still have tons to learn myself.

Even as someone who was raised in the church, I remember talking about biblical history in my 9th-grade history class. And I was honestly unsure if King Saul and Saul (Paul) from the New Testament were different people or one in the same. I had no idea there were people who didn’t believe in Adam and Eve. I hope my kids will have a better grasp on the biblical timeline and foundations than I ever did.

So back to the point. If you are someone who, as an adult, doesn’t have a lot of biblical knowledge … don’t stress. We are all learning. I do want to share with you some excellent resources that will help you, whether you are a baby Christian, new to the Bible as an adult, or just want to learn more.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is an awesome resource for children and adults. It doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of the gospel and connects every story to Jesus and how each small part fits into the Big Story of God. Lloyd-Jones does add narrative that is not necessarily in the Bible texts, which upsets some people. I think it makes it a storybook.

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While What’s in the Bible DVDs are definitely targeted at kids – they have puppets, are funny, there are songs, etc, etc – I don’t think there’s a simpler method of learning all about the entire Bible. Phil Vischer’s creation goes through the Bible book by book, explaining what happened in each book and why it is important to the central story of God. They hit on hard topics (Why was it OK for the Israelites to kill the people who lived in Canaan?), they discuss church history topics like how the books of the Bible were decided, and they explain things that I had never learned (what happened between Malachi and Matthew to make it the perfect time for a Savior to come?).

I have learned SO much just from listening to these DVDs while my kids watch them in the car. It might take you awhile to watch all 13, but you’ll have a blast while learning all about the Bible.

And if you’re ready to approach reading the Bible every day? (Do it!!) I highly recommend the New Living Translation, or NLT. I feel like it is very readable and things don’t generally fly over my head while it still holds on to all original meanings in the text. A One-Year Bible will have passages from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for you to read each day; it will probably take 15-25 minutes depending on how quickly you read. There are also great one-year plans on bible.com or the YouVersion app. After reading, I would suggest taking the time to write down any questions or observations as well as verses you just love. Maybe reflect on how these verses speak to you right now in your life situations.

Are there other resources you recommend for learning about the Bible?

Booking It: February 2015

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I ended up reading more than I thought I would in February – probably due to a lot of snow/cold/ice/what on earth are they thinking? days where my husband was home. I’m staying caught up with my Bible-in-90-days reading too; we are nearing the end of Ezekiel, which is definitely throwing my head for a loop.

Here’s what I read in February.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – I’m thinking of making a list of books I think everyone should read, and this would definitely be on there. The topic of mortality and end-of-life decisions is one we cannot ignore. Gawande (whom I adored when I read Better many years ago) digs into nursing homes, hospice, assisted living, cancer, surgery, and more, all with a relatable voice and inserting stories from his life and work. The way he tenderly adds his own father’s tale is breathtaking. Read it.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – It took me around seven weeks to get through this class behemoth. As I told my husband, when things finally started happening around page 325, I started reading a lot faster. Obviously readers in 1860 were much more patient than I am. It’s a classic I had read about many years ago: the first sensationalist novel. It’s an interesting read, but I don’t think I recommend it to my friends (for fear they might come after me in the night when they reach page 250 or so).

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell – For the first two chapters, I was afraid I was really going to hate this book even though I like the author’s blog. A lot of “guilt stuffed like Oreos” type metaphors, and those tend to bother me. But once Mitchell found her pace, I think the memoir is very readable. And oh so engaging if you’ve struggled with your weight – especially those of us who have since childhood, a more rare and dismal clique.

This book isn’t about how Andie Mitchell lost 135 pounds. If you’re looking for a plan, you’ll be sorely disappointed. It’s about a person who grew up confused about eating and how she learned to deal with food in a normal way. I hope I’ll get there someday. I so appreciated the honesty flowing from this short memoir.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer – Fairest is definitely an “in-between” book for the Lunar Chronicles series. While the first three books in this series have all been giant hits in my opinion, this short tome is just OK. It tells the back story of the Lunar queen Levana. Even evil queens have pasts, and we get to see why Levana is the way she is (and where Winter came from, and why Levana hates her, and …). It’s good for information but not up to par with the rest of the amazing series. I can’t wait for Winter to be released! (Review for Cress, the third book, here.)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead – I feel pretty “eh” about this book, the first from Shipstead, who also wrote Astonish Me, which I read last month and enjoyed. In the same floating-between-viewpoints way as Astonish Me, Shipstead shares the story of the van Meter family as they prepare for elder daughter Daphne’s wedding. The fact that Daphne is seven months pregnant, younger daughter Livia has recently had an abortion and a bad break-up, and their father Winn is trying to keep up their family status just adds to the hullabaloo. I kept reading it, because the writing is good; but I felt like many of the characters were one-note and the sexual scenes were too much for me. Shipstead’s writing obviously grew between this book and Astonish Me, and I am sure she will continue to produce provoking works.

That’s it! What are you reading? I’m still working on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and have started All the Light We Cannot See.

Black Dog Syndrome

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I have a history with big, black dogs.

When I was just a toddler, my parents had a dog, Buttons. It was a pinscher-mix-type mutt, their “before kids” kid. And it hadn’t ever shown aggression to anyone.

Until.

The story goes that my parents were feeding the dog Cheez-Its. I crawled up, and they gave me a Cheez-It, too. And then the dog attacked me, nearly ripping my little ear off. They loved me more than the dog, so they got rid of it (or put him down – I don’t remember).

So I spent a few weeks looking like this. I have no memory of any of this at all, but I’ve never liked big dogs.

jessie_post_dog_bite

Then, when I was in eighth grade, it snowed. It snowed enough for us to be out of school for three weeks. My mom had pretty recently gone back to work, at least part-time, and after all these snow days in a row – we had a TON of snow for central Virginia – she needed to work. I was plenty old to take care of my sister, who was in fifth grade.

But I was tired of playing in the snow. One day my sister went outside with our next-door neighbor. She tried to pet their dog, a black Lab who was chained behind their house. And the dog attacked my sister, tearing a gash into her arm.

What I remember is calling my mom at work, hysterical. Our neighbor taking us to the hospital in his work van. How Ashley’s coat wasn’t torn even though her arm was. But somewhere in there, apparently I tightly wrapped the wound and elevated her arm, they say. My babysitter brain kicked in even though I have no memory of it doing so.

So see, I am kind of biased against big, black dogs. (And by the way, you are BIASED. You have a BIAS. There’s your grammar lesson for today.)

And then God saw to it to put us on a campus full of them. When we moved here, we lived next door to a man with an elderly black lab called Bio. Bio was absolutely the sweetest, most gentle dog I’ve ever met. When we moved to another dorm, Bio and his owner moved with us. And in the apartment on the floor between our two apartments lived two MORE big black dogs.

Is the universe trying to tell me something?

My boys love dogs. Their exposure has been mostly to these big old ebony-furred friends. Little by little, my defenses against such animals is wearing down. Maybe someday I’ll be able to approach a black Lab without any fear at all.

Maybe.

{Apparently Black Dog Syndrome is an actual thing, according to Wikipedia. Who knew? My prejudice does come from real life and not TV and movies.}

Favorites of the Week

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Favorite pictures: Little ones enjoying what qualifies for snow in Tennessee.

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to make:

Favorite moments:

  • Joshua having a conversation with Mommy and Daddy on the couch. This mostly consisted of, “Daddy paci! Daddy milk!” and trying to shove his paci and cup in Daddy’s mouth. But there were also a lot of kisses.
  • Cuddling and watching The Croods.
  • Getting to sleep in (hello, President’s Day and a week of “not really snow” days).
  • One of the other moms from Libbie’s kindergarten class saved my life yesterday by inviting us all over, despite the fact that we don’t really know each other and she has four sons of her own. The kids had a blast and it was such a blessing to me to get out of the house and talk to another mom.
  • Doing an essential oils class with Tiffany last Saturday on campus. It was a lot of fun, and I just enjoy sharing about the oils!

Favorite offline reading: I devoured It Was Me All Along by blogger Andie Mitchell over the last few days. I wrote a review on GoodReads about it if you can’t wait to see it here in my February books recap. I also FINALLY finished The Woman in White. Woot!!

What’s going on in your neck of the woods this week? Snowed in? We actually got maybe a whole inch of snow last night, and now it’s sleeting on top of that, so we may be stuck today.

 

Your Art Is Not You.

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The Art of Daring

I am reading the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and I read this passage tonight. It’s kind of long, but please read the whole thing here.

You’ve designed a product or written an article or created a piece of art that you want to share with a group of friends. Sharing something that you’ve created is a vulnerable but essential part of engaged and Wholehearted living. It’s the epitome of daring greatly. But because of how you were raised or how you approach the world, you’ve knowingly or unknowingly attached your self-worth to how your product or art is received. In simple terms, if they love it, you’re worthy; if they don’t, you’re worthless.

One of two things happens at this point in the process:

1. Once you realize that your self-worth is hitched to what you’ve produced or created, it’s unlikely that you’ll share it, or if you do, you’ll strip away a layer or two of the juiciest creativity and innovation to make the revealing less risky. There’s too much on the line to just put your wildest creations out there.

2. If you do share it in its most creative form and the reception doesn’t meet your expectations, you’re crushed. Your offering is no good and you’re no good. The chances of soliciting feedback, reengaging, and going back to the drawing board are slim. You shut down. Shame tells you that you shouldn’t have even tried. Shame tells you that you’re not good enough and you should have known better.

If you’re wondering what happens if you attach your self-worth to your art or your product and people love it, let me answer that from personal and professional experience. You’re in even deeper trouble.

 

Whoah, did this ever hit home for me.

Want to hear something that qualifies as very vulnerable for me? I’ve sold a grand total of 7 copies of my devotional, Parenting Parables.

Is it maybe because I gave it away to all my friends? Perhaps.

But you know what? I’m OK with it. If I had published the devotional on my 30th birthday, as I had planned, and it had only sold a handful-and-a-half of copies, I would have been up there in #2. I would have been CRUSHED.

Am I still, a little? Maybe. But my okay-ness with the situation shows me how I’ve changed in the last three years. God has worked on my heart so much during this time. I poured my heart into this devotional. But I was able to offer it to Him, not anyone else. It’s my sacrifice of praise. It was something I felt like He called me to do, and I did it.

Maybe it will really touch one of those seven people. Maybe it won’t.

But it has no effect on my being Enough. I am Enough because God says so. Not because of my Art. Not because of anything I do. Not because I read my Bible or brush my teeth or teach Sunday School or wear the right jeans.

I am Enough because He lives in me. And oh, the feeling of knowing that – the fact that nothing I could do would make me any more in His sight – it is warmth. Comfort. Cry-worthy.

So I’m baring myself again, telling you the truth, and hoping that you know: you are Enough. You, who write a blog that you think no one reads. You, who paint what no one sees. You, who want to be on the stage. Every one of you. Enough.

 

Favorites of the Week

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It seems I haven’t actually taken any pictures for fun this week, so I am sharing this picture Libbie took of all her Calico critters. Hehe.

Favorite links:

Recipes I want to try:

Favorite moments:

  • Spending all of Sunday cuddling with Joshua. Yes, he had a fever, but Mommy loves some snuggles.
  • Making meatloaf and buttermilk mashed potatoes for my people Thursday night.
  • Libbie telling me a hilarious and long story she made up in the car this morning.
  • Doing water aerobics while oldies music played and having a huge grin on my face. It just makes me happy!
  • Seeing response to my essential oils and depression post.
  • Big hugs from David every night as he proclaims he is thankful for Mommy or Daddy.
  • Seeing my husband loving on all three kids on the couch while they watched a movie.

Favorite offline reading: I am still reading The Woman in White. It never takes me this long to read a book. Insanity. I’m also working on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and if I can find some time I’d love to just sit down and devour it.

What’s going on with you and yours this week?