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