February 28, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: And Then It All Goes Downhill (Exodus 29-40 & Leviticus 1-25)

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I'm posting every week or two about what I read the previous week. 

I don't know about you, but I struggle with this part of the Bible, especially Leviticus. Reading about how burning bull organs are a pleasing aroma to the Lord...it's just a little difficult to get through. I'll admit I skimmed a lot of it.

I remember my freshman year of college, my roommate was doing a paper comparing and contrasting the Hebrew God of the Old Testament and the Christian God of the New Testament. I thought, but they're the same God! And then I took the same class the following semester, reading Biblical texts from an atheistic viewpoint, including some of Leviticus. While my faith was still strong at the end of the semester, I must admit, if you remove God from the story, these rituals don't make a lot of sense. And as a Christian, it's still hard for me to look at this part of the scripture and see the amazing, loving, awesome God that we sing songs about.

So, what's the takeaway from the laws of the Old Testament? How do we apply Leviticus to our daily life and strengthen our faith by reading it? Honestly, I'm not sure, which is why this section is a struggle for me and why I hesitated to even write about it. I am thankful that these laws are no longer our laws. I'm very thankful, for example, that I don't have to sacrifice two turtledoves or pigeons to be cleansed each time I have my period.

How about you? What helps you get through this part of the Bible? What's the lesson to be learned?

February 14, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: Why did this have to change?

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I plan to post weekly about what I read the previous week. 

Last week's reading was Exodus 7-27. A lot happens in the middle chapters of Exodus: the plagues, Moses parting the Red Sea, manna in the wilderness, the ten commandments and other laws. There's plenty I could write about, but there's one verse I've been kind of fixated on this week. Under a section my Bible describes as "The promise of God's protection," Exodus 23:26 reads (using the New Living Translation, to put it into contemporary vocabulary):

"There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives."

I realize this verse was a promise to the children of Israel at that time and not a promise for all future generations, but why? Why did this have to change?

Miscarriage and infertility have caused me to ask "Why, God?" over and over. I have not experienced either, but that's part of why they are such big issues for me. Why the unfairness?

I know Sarah and Jen are both dealing with losses right now. It was Jen's story that really got me set on this verse this week. Then there are those I know in real life who have had miscarriages and who have dealt with infertility. I know there are women right now who desperately want to be pregnant. Who knows how many others I don't know about.

I think of these women often and pray for them. And I ask God why. Why does it have to be this way? As I said in last week's post, only He can see the big picture. But this little piece I can see just doesn't make sense sometimes.

February 7, 2014

Trekking Through the Bible: How Did We Get Here? (Genesis 12-50 & Exodus 1-6)

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible in chronological order. To help me absorb more of what I read as well as to help with accountability, I plan to post weekly (although lately it's been every other week) about what I read the previous week.

In Genesis, we learn about the beginning. We learn about the life of Abraham, of his son Isaac, of his grandson Jacob, and of his great-grandson Joseph. For the most part, everything is good. Joesph is a governor in Egypt. Then comes the Exodus, of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and out of slavery.

Whoa, wait a minute. How did we get here? How did we get from Joesph and his brothers and their families just hanging out in Egypt to Moses, the great-grandson of Joseph's brother Levi, leading the Israelites out of slavery? What happened in those few generations, and why did this never bother me before?

Exodus 1:7 says: "But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them."

Exactly how it was supposed to be. God promised Abraham in Genesis 22:17 that his descendants would be beyond number, just as the stars in the sky and the sand upon the seashore, and God fulfilled His promise. But immediately following, in Exodus 1:8-11 (emphasis mine):

"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, 'Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.' Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens..."

It's because they were so numerous that they became slaves? Didn't God see this coming?

Of course he did.

As Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

All things work together for God's purpose. Sometimes, it just takes awhile to see what that purpose is. Sometimes it's not just weeks or months but generations. He takes His time. Sometimes it's difficult for me to trust in God's plan and His timing, but I know He's the only one who can see the big picture.

February 6, 2014

10 Things to Do Before Kids: How Many Did We Actually Do?

Six months before I got pregnant, I made a list of 10 things I wanted to do before we had kids. I referred to these as ideas instead of goals since these things didn't necessarily have to be done before we had our first child.

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at what I actually did before Evan was born.

Figure out being a family of two
I feel like our marriage did get stronger in those months before I got pregnant. Sure, pregnancy and having a baby can strain any relationship, but we're still very much enjoying being married.

Go on a relaxing vacation
This one is kind of funny. I meant to write a post about this one specifically but never did. Basically, we found out we're no good at relaxing. About four months into my pregnancy, we tried to spend less than 48 hours in Nashville, IN, staying in a cabin with no agenda, and we were bored! I guess we need to find a balance between planning too many activities and not planning any.

Start buying organic food and stop buying as much processed food
I wanted to at least buy the "dirty dozen" organically. I had a setback with this one when I bought organic potatoes and one was rotten inside. Why should I pay extra for poor quality? I'm still working on buying and making healthier foods, especially now that Evan is eating a wide variety of food and we found out Nathan has high cholesterol. I'll admit I gave Evan non-organic strawberries though. It's a process.

Get a second dog
This barely happened! I got pregnant three weeks after we adopted Adyn. At that time I was thinking it could still take awhile. Had I known I would get pregnant right away, there's no way I would have gotten a second dog. I guess it was just meant to be. Adyn's like my soulmate and archnemesis all in one. It's been an interesting ride.

Get in the habit of regular exercise
Eh...this has been off and on. I wanted to keep jogging during my pregnancy, but the crazy hot spring we had two years ago along with not feeling so great during the first trimester kind of killed my progress. I'm counting this one because I did walk the third of a mile to work until I was seven months pregnant.

Move somewhere with a washer/dryer and fenced-in yard
We sure did! And then right before Evan turned one, we moved again and no longer have a fenced-in yard. We can put the dogs out on a chain at least, and it's a much nicer area to walk the dogs (when it's not a blizzard). Having a washer and dryer was the biggest requirement!

Read and Research
I tried to limit this one so I didn't get overwhelmed. The one book I'd recommend is Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin.

Have a better community
We're getting there! We finally found a church we like right around the time we got pregnant. Several of my good friends are currently living overseas, which has been rough, but I needed the push to meet new people, especially other moms.

Do some freelance design work
I didn't actually do any freelance work before Evan was born, but once I made the jump and quit my day job last May, I found clients very quickly. It all worked out!

Continue putting all my income towards student loans and savings
During 2012, I contributed $50 into our Health Savings Account each week, and the rest of my paycheck went towards paying off student loans. I'm glad we'd had nearly three years' experience of living on Nathan's income by the time I decided to quit my job. We won't get out of debt as quickly now, but we knew we would be fine without that money.

Is there anything else I wish I'd done? Is there anything I'd encourage childless women to do before they have kids? I honestly can't think of anything I couldn't do now that I have a son. I wish I could have crossed off the two remaining items on my list, but I think I needed to quit my job to have the extra time to devote to them.

Anything you wish you'd done before you had kids? If you don't have kids yet, what's on your list?