Tuesday, September 29, 2015

scripture study

Just like Saturday jobs need to be re-worked over and over again (back here), my scripture study habits sure do too.

Oh boy.

I've always held scripture study in pretty high regard.  I mean, quite honestly, whenever I'm in a pretty regular habit of reading/studying each day my days just seem to run better.  Somehow even the smallest little nugget of spirituality makes me react differently to stress and all the hoopla that comes along.  I'm more happy.  My family is more happy.  

Now, that may seem like kind of an over-glamorization, but I'm telling you, it makes my life better.  So why does it always need to be re-worked?  Why isn't that the central focus point of my day every day?  Why do I let life get in the way?

I don't know.  

But it does.  

So I work at it.  And re-work at it.

All the time.  

We are pretty good with our family scripture study during the school year.  It happens every morning and I love it.  But I'm talking personal scriptures.  That time when those wonderful stories wash over me and teach me things that "fix" what's going on in my life.

I have a couple coinciding stories to tell that relate to my latest scripture study that is working (for now).

The first is that for the last little while some of the local leaders in our church have been encouraging a new way to study..."read your scriptures for thirty minutes for thirty days."  "It will bless your life," they claim. 

They've mentioned it a few times in a few different meetings and I didn't bite.  Each time it's been mentioned I have thought, "oh, that would be nice, but how the heck am I going to find thirty whole minutes to study scriptures?  This is too busy, too long.  They must not have kids at home.  Sure I can read for a few minutes, but thirty?  That's a whole lotta time!"  Blah blah blah.  You know the excuses.  I'm good at them.
  
Ok so fast-forward to this one day back in the glory days of having all five kids at home (ha, they’re still glory days, but you know what I mean) that we were sitting at a volleyball game.  It was the first game of the state tournament and we were all a bundle of nerves and excitement (I told a little about that game back in the volleyball wrap-up back HERE).  

We took the first two games single-handedly. 

Then we gave away the next two in some heartbreak points.  

The fifth game tie-breaker (which only goes to 15 points and you have to win by two) was neck and neck.

4-5, then 5-5.  5-6, then 6-6.  When it started getting up to 13-13, all of us parents (and the whole student section) were biting our nails in worry.  We couldn't lose this thing!  We wanted to win state for crying out loud!  We were a really good team!  We couldn't lose in the very first round of state!

13-14.

14-14.

I started saying little prayers.  Please!  Get that block!  Yes!  Nice kill!  Oh please!  Come on let's take this!  (Have I mentioned Dave and I were crazy fans during volleyball and tennis season?  I'd think there was something wrong with us until I got to know the other parents who were in the same boat...parents of high school athletes are funny, including us :)

And then, in the midst of all the commotion and hand-wringing and pleading for a win, that little encouragement from our church leaders came back to me:  Thirty minutes for thirty days.

15-16, 16-16.

17-16 for us.

And right then and there I made a little deal with God.  If they could just win this game I would do it!  
I would do the thirty for thirty.  Please just let us win.

And guess what?  We won.

We won that game and it was like we had won the state championships with how that crowd erupted in jubilation.  

As did my heart.

Now, I have to back up here with a little disclaimer: I don't really believe that God is in the business of "making deals."  Some equally crazy mother on the other side of the court could have been offering up the same kind of "deal."  I don't think we won that game that day simply because little old me was throwing out crazy desperate prayers.  Ok, maybe a little, because they were pretty heartfelt I tell you! :)

But I do believe that win or lose that day, that little desperate moment was somehow a perfect time for me to get a little jump start to my reading going.  I'd like to think that if we lost I would have done the same thing I did because we won: buckle down and read that kind of pearly wisdom and beauty that can only be found in the scriptures.

And guess what?  Those church leaders doing the encouraging were right.  It did bless my life.  It made me think so much more clearly.  It made me happy.  I wasn't perfect, I missed two days of those thirty but made up for them doing sixty the following days.  And it made me happy.  Those scripture stories came to life and taught me things...things I had been pondering about...answers to parenting things...helped my days run more smoothly.  I felt that love of God with more clarity.

True to form, even after all that my scripture study needed to be re-worked.  I was better every day in general, but boy, why do I let life get in the way so dang much?  

At the end of the summer with Max leaving and getting ready to head on his mission Dave and I thought it would be pretty great to read the Book of Mormon as a family before he left (on his mission, not to college).  We decided it would be a pretty great way to kind of prepare for that mission right along with him (I hope in some ways we can go right along with him in our hearts).

Right around the same time our annual Book of Mormon challenge with our local congregation came up.  When they asked if we were in, we whole-heartedly said "yes!"  Even the kids.

And it has been pretty great so far.

It combines family scriptures with personal scriptures which I kinda like.  Because family scriptures need to be re-worked too.  Last year we decided, in trying to get our kids to contribute more to the discussion, that they could each have their own day.  Max was on Mondays, Elle on Tuesdays, etc.  Each morning they were to come with a gospel question.  And we would look up answers to those questions in the scriptures. Most days we had to help come up with the questions.  Some days it led to awesome discussions, other days not so much, but it was kind of nice to mix things up from just the normal taking turns reading verses every day.

And this year, since we've all agreed to the "Book of Mormon Challenge," we all try to read the passages leading up to that day and then have a discussion about what we've been reading during family scriptures.

We borrowed the child-friendly scriptures Dave kind of grew up on from his mom for our kids.

There are tons of volumes and I kind of love them.
Sometimes I'll help the little girls catch up at bedtime.

They often try to remember to bring them to read during church.

And I love the new system.

Sure, some days are better than others, but I love the discussions and questions that come up.  Here's the schedule if anyone wants to jump in and join us :)

True to form, I'm a little behind right now.  But I'll catch up.

Because I love having all those stories and wisdom wash over me and give new meaning to the every day things that come along.

By Christmas we'll be ready to send Max off to Taiwan all spiritually ready.

Then maybe we will start on the New Testament next.  Or the Old.  We'll figure out some new way to shift things up.

Send any great spiritual study ideas on over if you have some.  Heaven knows we need them!  But I'm convinced if we keep at it life just turns out better and I'm filled with more love and understanding and joy than I am without those wonderful words influencing me each day.

18 comments:

  1. A few years ago the youth in our ward were challenged to read the Book of Mormon by a certain date which I think amounted to 3 chapters per day. My friend was a youth leader and was doing it so I joined in as well. The power that comes into your life when you put forth effort to read and study that book is real. Thank you for sharing what is working for you. You inspire me.

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  2. Thank you, thank you for sharing this. I needed it!!!

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  3. This Sunday, as we were discussing the need to re-work our family scritpure study-- after one daughter saying she got "too confused" when reading in different sections of a book of scripture in her personal study and then with family study. We have decided that in our personal study, we will read the Book of Mormon-- And my husband felt inspired that as a family, we will focus our study efforts on the current words from our prophet and apostles from Conference talks. I am excited to see how this will bless our family. I think that's what is important when deciding a family scripture plan-- We are entitled to inspiration, as to what will work for our own personal family needs. We have a son who is a really good kid, but he has had some recent struggles with attitude (for example, if I mention the youth activity for the week I get, "That's stupid.") I know regular, daily scripture study does bless our lives and our families---and it helps me to have the added patience, and understanding that I otherwise may not have if I hadn't been edified and strengthened spiritually on a given day. Love your posts. Thank you for your example. L.A. in WA

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  4. For personal scripture study, I love to use the church's Institute manuals- https://www.lds.org/manual/institute?lang=eng
    I would pull it up through my Kindle app on my iPad, then have my physical scriptures. I would read a chapter or two, then read the corresponding part in the manual. The manuals provide lots of of insights and quotes from apostles that really help you think and ponder more. And it's just fun to switch things up!

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  5. For my personal study time with the Lord Jesus, I like to use the Bible, the living word of God. It will change you life! :)

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  6. I love the Book of Mormon for Families (so far for my own personal study). Such a great little insights, helps, quotes, etc. Here's my dilemma: I have 3 little kids - - 2, 6, and a 9 year old with DS, so in many ways he's developmentally like the 6 year old - - and struggle with figuring out how to do scripture study at this age. I think I've finally developed the weekly FHE habit and have that down pretty well, but don't know when (morning or evening) and how (those crazy short attention spans) to do it. Or should I just focus on FHE right now until they get a tad older. Ah!

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    1. I have the same ages. We do either picture scriptures - you know the kind with the pictures and explanations underneath them, or one verse of regular scriptures and then talk about it/ ask them questions about it as part of the bedtime routine. 5 minutes max. good luck!

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  7. You inspired me. I read 30 minutes today, and it brought so much more peace.

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  8. Thanks for this post! Scripture study is the hardest thing for me. But after reading this, I'm feeling determined to be finally be consistent!

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  9. I'm wondering how changes now is going to prepare Max who is at school? You have said you have done things challenges to read through it a few times before. Isn't the main thing that you habitually set aside time for it daily? My church has daily readings. Certainly would not take 30 minutes to read them and contemplate. What do you retain covering so much?

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    1. Hey! I can answer that. We feel that there is so much richness in the words presented in the scriptures. Our church leaders have never forced us to set a specific amount or time to read, but to read and study. I have found that the more time I ponder the scriptures and set aside meaningful time, the more I get out of the scriptures

      I also like keeping a scripture journal. Or, I read from the resources that the church has provided. If you get the lds library app (it's on the App Store) you can get a lot of access to old and New Testament study books that take scripture reading a lot further by asking you specific questions and inviting a pondering spirit.

      I don't know if that helps, but in the end, there is a whole life journey of reading scriptures.

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  10. So so true! Amen! The scriptures are one sure way that divinity speaks to us personally. When I do make a conscious decision to crack open those pages, it's amazing how the Spirit can guide and touch us. Oh how we need that daily spiritual paradigm which then affects what we do, how we act/react :), and who we become. LOVED the idea of having kids take turns coming with gospel questions! We just started a Book of Mormon challenge as a family too- how fun! One idea that has worked great because of all our young kids, is me highlighting beforehand my fav couple verses from a chapter, having my oldest practice reading them, and everyone gluesticking these narrative pictures as we go along... https://www.lds.org/manual/book-of-mormon-stories?lang=eng Anywho, yes life and gospel routines have to be worked and RE-WORKED all. the. time. :) And after this inspiring post, I'm borrowing all those blue illustrated volumes from my mom - that I grew up on too. Thanks for being you! And kind of fun- a really great friend that just became my neighbor used to teach your Lucy swim lessons (Tarryn). Small world. And she loves you just as much as I do!

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  11. So so true! Amen! The scriptures are one sure way that divinity speaks to us personally. When I do make a conscious decision to crack open those pages, it's amazing how the Spirit can guide and touch us. Oh how we need that daily spiritual paradigm which then affects what we do, how we act/react :), and who we become. LOVED the idea of having kids take turns coming with gospel questions! We just started a Book of Mormon challenge as a family too- how fun! One idea that has worked great because of all our young kids, is me highlighting beforehand my fav couple verses from a chapter, having my oldest practice reading them, and everyone gluesticking these narrative pictures as we go along... https://www.lds.org/manual/book-of-mormon-stories?lang=eng Anywho, yes life and gospel routines have to be worked and RE-WORKED all. the. time. :) And after this inspiring post, I'm borrowing all those blue illustrated volumes from my mom - that I grew up on too. Thanks for being you! And kind of fun- a really great friend that just became my neighbor used to teach your Lucy swim lessons (Tarryn). Small world. And she loves you just as much as I do!

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  15. I have just loved your blog for a long time and this post was very inspiring. I have just started getting back into church and am trying to commit to personal scripture study but it's super hard as the only active concert in my family. I have no one to do fhe, morning prayers or study, even prayers or study, or even someone to go to church with. It's hard but all of God's child have different paths and plans. I'm grateful for the struck now because I'll really know the importance when I have a family.

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