This year for lent I decided I wanted to be super intentional. I have sacrificed something for years and I chose to do that again this year because I see so much value in it. But, instead of just sacrificing something and longing for the day when I can partake of what I sacrificed again, I wanted to spend forty days really seeking Jesus. Being intentional about my walk with the Lord and moving forward with Him. Allowing Him to speak to me during this time, guide me and work in me. But, I wasn't sure what that looked like. And honestly, like I mentioned a while back, my quiet time looks so much different than it used to. It's typically crammed into a small window in the morning between me dragging myself out of bed and the boys waking, ready for breakfast and books and playing. It starts with coffee, a blanket, and my Bible and ends with two little munchkins wrestling for the prime spot of Mama's lap (which is getting smaller by the day) and begging for the last bites of my oatmeal. And some days I even sneak it in while hiding in the kitchen after putting VeggieTales on for a few minutes so I can spend five to ten minutes with Jesus. And honestly? I've finally come to terms with the fact that that is okay. This is a season of my life. I do not get long quiet times on a daily basis and somedays I am only able to get in a few verses but it is still good (and it is good for Crews and Tate to see their mama carving out time to spend with jesus). And somehow God always uses that little bit of time I meet with Him to work in me! So during Lent I wanted to be intentional about these 40 days - opening my heart and giving Him that time (even if short) to work. And, like I said, I wasn't sure how I was going to do that.
But then, I came across the lent journal that Naptime Diaries was selling this year. When I read about it, I was intrigued. I loved that it was just scripture. That is was divided into sections. And that you could really spend as much or as little time as you have. I decided to order it and it was seriously the best decision!
About the same time that I saw the lent journal, I also read my friend Mary Lindsey's post about how she reads scripture. She talks about the benefit of reading from at least three translations and about picking out a few verses that stick out to you and journaling on them. So, I decided to try out her method of studying. The combination of the journal and the method have been the biggest blessing over the last few weeks.
Here's how it has worked for me. First I have spent time praying each morning before reading. I am often quick to skip this part of my quiet time for some reason. As ridiculous as it sounds, it doesn't seem as "productive" as reading through a chapter in my Bible or journaling so I often jump right in and leave praying to when I'm doing something else - driving, laying in bed before falling asleep, laundry - essentially multi-tasking. And thankfully I've realized that is absolutely the wrong way to view it. Instead, I need to still myself before God. Allowing my heart and mind to clear and giving God a chance to speak to me. Also, Mary Lindsey suggested praying on your knees which is not my regular method - but, let me tell you...you should try it. There is so much value in it. Sorry, didn't mean to get off topic.
So, I start with prayer then I read the scripture passage for the day in three translations. I've been reading in the NIV, NLT and The Message. It never fails that in at least one of the translations something jumps out at me! The Lord nudges my heart with a specific wording in one translation and from there I journal out what is on my heart. It has been such a gift.
And, one of the best parts is that the Lent journal isn't dated so you could start it any time! I actually still have a few days lefts to go before I finish up since I didn't always find time each day to read the scripture and journal. But I'm thinking that after I finish, I may just start all over again and read the passages another time, seeing what God teaches me a second time around.
They actually offer a discount price if you order ten of the journals and I have seriously considered ordering ten to give as gifts because it has been so, so good for me. And, I think the best part is that it can be good for anyone. It allows you to make of it what you want. To study the scriptures the way you want and journal what you want. The passages fall under four different categories (Hope, Follow, Live, Bless) and even that alone has been so good. I remember reading some of the scriptures in the Hope section and thinking, "weird, I would've never viewed that scripture as 'hopeful' but it truly is!". And the fact that there is no pressure. You can spend as little or as much time as you have without feeling guilty about not answering tons of questions or reading lots of commentary on a passage like other studies. I encourage each of you to think about purchasing one! And to read Mary Lindsey's post on how to study scripture.
If you decide to order one, let me know what you think!
ps - Naptime Diaries has no idea who I am. I just wanted to blog about their Lent journal because it has had such a great impact on my quiet times lately!