About 2-3 months before my nephews and niece came to live with us, a series of events lead me to begin an in depth personal walk through the book of Nehemiah. It started with an encouraging email from an amazing mentor. I posted a short tongue-in-cheek entry on this blog about my three children consuming my time (funny how three seemed like such a handful just a few months ago). He responded with:
Great picture – and as far as the reason you aren’t blogging….Sandra Stanley (Andy’s wife) references Nehemiah 6:3 – when he was working on the wall and people were trying to distract him – he said, “I am doing a good work and I cannot come down.” Sandra says seasons in life change, but when her kids were little, that was her life verse. When she was tempted to do other things – good things in fact – she would post that verse and remind herself – she was doing a good work, and wouldn’t be distracted from it. So – ABL– you and RRL are doing a good work!
Sandra (via this good friend) was absolutely right. Our "work" of raising our children is good work. Its a work that we can easily get distracted from each day. And some days, distracted each hour. I've carried this thought with me for months. Through two different bible studies in the months since that email, it spurred me to start thinking about my "purpose" in a different way. While I have lots of dreams, my essence at the very core right now is to teach the six children in my home about Jesus. About love. About giving. About living life to the fullest. WOWZERS. Now that's a "good work" and boy howdy, "I cannot come down" because it is a FULL TIME job.
His email didn't JUST spur me to rethink my "parenting purpose", though. It stirred something deep within me. Something I've literally spent years praying for. A LOVE for God's word and a firm belief that it is alive and relevant.
In a nearly audible voice, I kept hearing that I was supposed to "read the book of Nehemiah". I confessed this craziness to my bible study group at the time. We were right in the middle studying about our "purposes" and dreaming big about what those might be. I told them about my renewed purpose as a mom and then I dropped the crazy-bomb on them. I actually told them that I felt like one of my current-life-purposes was just to read this one book of the Bible. WEIRDO. Seriously. OF COURSE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO READ THE BIBLE. It felt crazy the minute it came out of my mouth. But I couldn't let it go.
I'm a planner. So when I first felt the urge to study Nehemiah, I immediately went to the logical place...the internet. Instead of picking up the bible to read, I started researching ways to study Nehemiah. I found none. DON'T GET AHEAD OF ME- I know there are probably lots of good books and many a sermon series out there on the topic. But, for whatever reason, I couldn't find them. I kept hearing the Lord say (ABL paraphrase), "JUST READ THE STINKIN' BOOK ALREADY". So I did. Over. and Over. and Over.
I have never EVER studied the Bible on my own before. I've READ the bible, I've participated in Bible studies, but I've never just let HIM guide me through a study of His word. After just reading it from start to finish many times, I started back at the beginning journaling through the words. I've literally been taken verse by verse, like uncovering treasures under rocks, through that book. Its been painstakingly slow, yet I can't get enough. Its a 13 chapter book, I've been journaling through it since January 1, and I'm only 10 chapters in.
That journal, as silly as it may sound, has felt incredibly private. I've shared with RRL, of course, but have not felt released to share much of my journey publicly. It is a bit like when you have a conversation with a dear friend, revealing parts of your heart and sharing intimate details of your journey. You have things revealed during those conversations that you can't wait to share with others, yet the conversation itself was so intimate. Its hard to know which pieces are the journey, only to be understood by the traveler, and which pieces are the resulting lessons, meant to be shared so others can journey, too.
Someday, I hope to share more on this blog about my Nehemiah journey because it has so closely paralleled our current walk as a party-of-eight. But for now, I simply felt the need (and freedom) to encourage those following along on our "circus" adventures with six kiddos, to let the Word speak to you.
I know many of you are walking REALLY difficult roads right now, some much harder than I can even imagine. I am thankful that many of you trust me enough to let me know about those struggles. I often feel overwhelmed that I do not have any answers that can take away those heart-aches. But I am learning about a tool to help with the journey. I've learned that the God, through His word, meets you where you are. All of my thoughts on the words I read in Nehemiah are through the lens of my current experiences. And for the first time in my life, I LOVE that about the Bible. I love that my lack of "theological knowledge" or use of "appropriate study tools" doesn't keep the Word from speaking TO ME (or you). Because it was written FOR ME (and you)!
Be encouraged, fellow travelers!