I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual study, reading and introspection over the past few months. I’ve gotten back into my project to read the Bible all the way through. Back almost two years ago I decided to do it. I started with the New Testament – and since I had read the four Gospels several times, I started with Acts. I finished Revelation and went back and read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then I started the Old Testament. I really dragged it out – sometimes going months between readings – but finally got through to the Psalms – and now I’m in Proverbs. Mid-May two years ago is when I started, and I don’t foresee being able to finish by mid-May this year. So it will be a 2+ year project for me. I’m really learning a lot, though.
In the coming months, I plan to write out my thoughts about this spiritual journey. I’ve been slowing down as I read the Bible in order to think about what I’ve read, consider how it applies to me, and to underline and make notes as I go. I admit that in some of the Old Testament books, I was rushing through some of it. So my plan is that once I finish the Old Testament, I will read the Bible through a second time.
Recently I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways. I must’ve been at the point in life when I was ready to really absorb something like that. As I read, I underlined and starred a lot of things that I felt were important and significant for me. I thought about how I needed to write about what I had read in order to process it and for it to be more than “Oh, that’s a great book. I read it and liked it” and that would be it. There were too many meaty ideas that I needed to chew on and digest. I have so much spiritual growing to do. I also immediately got on Amazon and ordered several other Terkeurst books.
I thought about starting a new blog to chronicle my thoughts, but then I thought, “Why not write them in The Median Sib?” I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore since I’ve added so little content in recent years. It’ll be interesting to see if any family and friends notice – and if they do, how long it will take.
This past weekend I read Kara Tippett’s book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard. Kara Tippett was only 38 years old last month when she died of cancer. It started out as breast cancer but quickly metastasized throughout her body. She had four young children along with a dearly loved husband. Her book contained so much about grace – about God giving us the grace to get through life’s hard places. Her insights about beauty, grace, and love are profound. I want to re-read the book soon, write about it, and let more of it settle into a permanent place in my heart and mind.
I felt similarly about Lysa Terkeurst’s book on saying yes to God. I read it and immediately gave it to my friend at church who leads our ladies Bible study group. I think it would be great as our next Bible study book. Then I promptly bought another copy because I wanted to read it again myself. Like Tippett’s book, I want to let more of it become a part of me.
I am almost finished with another Terkeurst book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. That one really speaks to me since I’ve spent the past 55+ years feeling inferior and unworthy because of my weight. It’s rather sad when I look back at my life and realize the impact of those unworthy feelings. I’ve thought a lot lately about the origins of those feelings and how they helped to shape my life. So many of my wrong decisions were a direct result of those feelings. One thing that my recent reading has helped me understand better is the importance of not making quick decisions based on “feelings.” I have to replace those feelings with God’s truth – which is that I’m a treasured and loved child of God.
Another thing I’ve done lately that has brought me some insight is using prayer beads. A friend of mine on Facebook posted some photos of prayer beads she had made. I thought they were beautiful, and so I started researching protestant prayer beads. I’d never heard of them before! I really liked the concept. Ritualistic prayers seem mostly useless to me. Prayer should be personal. It should be specific. However, prayer beads allow for personalizing – for specificity. They provide a framework for prayer, and they help me focus – but they don’t dictate the content of prayer. I ordered a set of beads and also a kit to make some myself. Then, being my usual obsessive self, I bought lots of beads, watched YouTube tutorials and I started making them myself. I really like some of the ones I’ve made. I ordered some small “holding crosses” made of olive wood from Bethlehem, Israel. They’re perfect for prayer beads because they feel so natural in my hands. I started out using metal crosses that I found in the jewelry section of JoAnn’s and Michael’s craft stores. However, I love the look and feel of these wooden holding crosses.
I also researched and studied to find prayers to use with the prayer beads – some definite guidelines. I couldn’t find any I liked. Some listed specific prayers – and that didn’t feel right to me. I combined bits and pieces from a lot of different websites – and looked up Bible verses to go along with each part of the prayer bead circle. I feel it’s important to “pray God’s promises” – and those promises are found in the Bible. So I spent a lot of time finding verses that really spoke to the four parts of the prayer beads (praising, asking forgiveness, interceding, and thanking). Then I typed it up, revised it many times, and will probably revise it a few more times before I’m satisfied with it. I use the guide when I pray with the prayer beads. It’s all about providing a framework and helping with focusing. The other day I was walking at Crockett Park, and the beautiful scenery was so uplifting to me, I started mentally going through the prayer beads prayer. It was a meaningful way to spend my walking time.
As I was writing about the prayer beads, it suddenly occurred to me that since I enjoy making them so much, maybe I could sell them on Etsy – along with the guide that I wrote. I’m going to look into that – Carol’s Prayer Beads. Or maybe it should Grace Prayer Beads since it is through prayer that we seek God’s grace.
I am on a journey – a journey of spiritual grace – a journey of opening my heart and mind and delving into Jesus, the Bible, the writing of Christian authors, and seeking God’s will. A journey of discipline – of seeing self-discipline, based on God’s strength (definitely not my own!) – as a joy – as a sacrifice I gladly offer for the greater joy of being closer to God. There is so much to learn. Here I am at 65 years of age, and I’m finally doing something I should’ve done many years ago. With age comes wisdom – and maybe when I at last grow up, I’ll be wise.