Believe it or not, I'm a kind of a perfectionist, but you'd never know it! TRULY, I have a visual image in my head of THE WAY I want EVERYTHING to go, and if it doesn't go just like that....then just forget it! I'm a "start a diet only on Mondays" kind of girl! But when I give in to temptation at lunch-time, then I just abort the whole plan and wait til next Monday to start again because starting on Tuesday just won't work! (Thus the weigh loss dream not realized...but that's for a different post.) So imagine the pressure I've put on myself on New Years! I mean....It's January 1 - the first day of the year, and of the rest of my life. This is my chance to get EVERYTHING perfect! And by everything I mean my diet, my bible reading plan, my goal setting, my closets, my meal planning, my finances, my pantry, my book list, my vehicle maintenance, my chore charts, my ministry, my writing, my big ideas, my husband, my kids, my EVERYTHING!!! TODAY IS THE DAY!!!! And if I don't get it all arranged perfectly TODAY, then I guess I'll just have to wait until NEXT YEAR! Maybe that's why I'm panicking right now, as it's already 10;00 am on January 1st and I"m in still in my pajamas with a hangover (not literally) from last night's New Year's Eve bash that kept me up til the wee hours of the morning, (ok, so it was just a movie marathon with the kids and "drinks" at midnight from ........ our 24 hour McDonalds! But still, it was exhausting!) Thus my perfect 2016 is already a little off kilter!
So, I'm cutting myself a little slack -- I know, it's too soon in the year, but I'm trying to be realistic. I'm giving myself the WHOLE MONTH of JANUARY to setup the perfect 2016! (Go head and laugh!) TODAY, January 1, we are just going to focus on ONE THING -- the WORD of God! What I really want to do is start barking out orders, dragging stuff out of closets, and making mile-long lists for everyone in my family to do TODAY so we'll have a perfect year! But instead, our whole goal for today is....to get a plan for EVERYONE to be in the WORD regularly in 2016. (Of course, my diabolical plan is to count on the notion that if everyone is in the Word, then everything else WILL BE PERFECT .....their attitudes, their servant hearts, their sibling love, their work ethic, their obedience, and of course, their cleanliness - cause we all know that's next to godliness!)
But for real....by the end of the day, we will ALL have a plan for being in the Word of God. I'm over my original dream of us all having the same perfectly synchronized plan, and this year we are shooting for a personalized plan that fits the personalities and habits of each of us! After all, the goal is to get it done, not to get it done like MOM wants! (but I can dream though!) Some of our family is much better at it than others --and I personally, am not on the GOOD list! So, let's start with the one who's got this Bible reading thing down pat, then we'll work our way through the family album.
The husband......honestly, he's the least organized one in this family, but he's got THIS down! Having lived with him for 23+years, there's been lots of craziness in this family with schooling, and schedules, shuffling across continents, but ONE THING has stayed the same -- you can find him somewhere each EVERYDAY with his bible, and his highlighters, and his pens pouring over the WORDS OF OUR LORD! I know his secret -- it comes from HIS DAD. He has very vivid memories of seeing his father read the bible with his red pencil underlining truths, and our kids will have similar memories. I'll have to admit that sometimes I've been mad a him for the way he can close out the world around him and focus on the WORD. I'm like...."oh, if only I could sit and bask in the word of God quietly reading and meditating. I'm sorry, I've got a 5 kids to care for, and guests coming and going, and a to-do list a thousand miles long...and here you sit just reading your bible!" But that was the YOUNG me. As the years have gone by and I've had the privilege of daily enjoying the the fruit of the Spirit that comes from him being so deeply rooted in the truths of Scripture, I see it different now. And I long for it. And I learn from it. And THIS year....I'm going to get it!
Right now, his plan is usually to read 5+ chapters a day, making notes for our 16 year old son as it will be his gift some day -- his own personal copy of Scriptures that his dad has read three or four times through with personal messages just for him. See why I love this man? He knows the Word IN and OUT. He has found his groove, and he gets it done. EVERY.DAY.
ME- Well, I've tried EVERYTHING, of course -- the One Year Bible, printouts, inbox reminders, NT only, OT only, devos, bible studies, and in every version imaginable. But NEVER as successfully and regularly as needed. Not for perfection (well, okay, for perfection) but even for just daily growth and strength. My to do list ALWAYS gets in the way. I always start out great -- I think I've read the first 15 chapters of Genesis EVERY YEAR for the past 30! And after week two,,,,it's hit or miss for the rest of the year! If I miss ONE day, it just throws me completely off kilter. So, this year I've chosen not a plan, but a checklist. It will allow me to check off what I have read, which keeps me from freaking out if I get "off" plan a bit. I can customize it, and start where I want -- this year I'm starting in Job, followed by Psalms, Prov., Ecc, and Song of songs. It may seem random, but it IS thought to be the OLDEST BOOK (so it's kind of "in order) and I didn't want start in Genesis or Matthew (been there, done that) but truthfully, it's because I printed out this cool color coded checklist and those 5 books are all lumped together in the BLUE section! I'm usinig my ESV -- and strangely it's a kids bible as I like it's layout and lettering and spacing! And I'm also listening to the ESV audio version as I read along. If i just read...my mind wanders. If i just listen...my mind wanders. So I'm doubling up. And it WORKED! And so it's done. Day one. January 1. Job 1! Done! And may I be blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil! (Job 1:1)
Our Big baby boy, our firstborn -- really, there were moments my hopes were for him to just stay out of jail....then then he turned 4. and then 5, then 12, and my minimalistic prayers were the same. And then he turned 16 and it started to "click." and now he's 20. And the Word of God is deep in him, and part of his EVERYDAY. It wasn't me, or even his dad, or even our pastor whom he adores...it was the Holy Spirit grabbing his heart. And the personality that God gave him...that strong willed tenacious "jail bound" toddler is turning out to be a very disciplined young man, turning his strong will into determination to follow hard after God. His plan for the past year was 3 chapters a day, and 5 on Sundays. I dont' know his plan for this year, but you can be sure he has one, and he has it written on the daily notecard in his pocket like Pastor Rob suggested, and the way his dad models. Beyond reading it, he's memorizing major portions and sometimes shares them with us. (Check out some from Titus, starting at 17:15)
And my heart rejoices. And I cry. Let it be even more in 2016.
Our Curly Redhead -- in perfect first-born daughterness, she's figured it out - on her own! Of course we encouraged, and modeled, but in her independent spirit, she did it "by herself." I remember vividly, a few weeks after our unexpected return from living overseas, I saw her laying on her bed reading along in her purple engraved bible we'd given her years before, As I cracked up her door, she looked up and said..."Dang, mom, this Bible's got some GOOD STUFF in it!" Yes, it does. Sure she'd read it before, but this time it was her choice. I think she went to it for comfort, and and answers as to why God had shaken up her life, and taken her away some of her jr. high dreams. And each night as I passed by her room, she was laying there again, and again, night after night. And it stuck. She's midway through her Freshman year in college, and this Word has sustained her. This year, she's following a plan that has a NT reading, and OT reading, and a psalm or Proverb. She' also gets a devo on her phone app. And the Word of Life is driving her thoughts on life, love, career, politics, and every day grace.
The Middle - 16 and boy. Need I say more? Life is about hearts, and hurts, and hard work, and habits that don't come easily. He's a thinker, and a writer, and a reader. He can read a 400 page book in two days, and write 5,000 words in the same. However, reading a chapter of Scripture a day has been a challenge. But, he recently spent the weekend with his Big Brother, and came back with a plan -- Reading 3 chapters a day and 5 on Sundays. (Sound familiar?) And a chosen "incentive" that he has to run a mile if he misses a day -- thanks D-port, and Big Bro, and pastor Rob, and Dad, and the grandpas, of course. The TEAM that God has sent to shape this Middle one -- it is LEGEND! And I can't wait to see what a year in the Word will do to conform him further into the Image of the Invisible One.
#4 - I guess God led us to name him after a theologian because He knew Schaeffer would need all the extra "mojo" he could get to keep him on the straight and narrow. We are still waiting for all all the theological goodness of the name to kick in. But we celebrate his baptism in 2015. and we continue to wait. His (parent-directed) plan for 2016 is to read a Proverb a day, and a chapter from the NT a day, starting with Matthew. He'll read from the Apologetics Bible we got him last year that is signed by Sean McDowell. Yeah, I know, I also think autographing bibles is kinda weird, but we jumped at the chance when at a conference for our teens, Schaeffer (our middle schooler who is obsessed with his dream of playing in the NBA) said, "Mom, just in case my NBA career doesn't work out, I think I might like to do what Sean does and go around giving apologetics lectures." Boom. Signed. Gifted. and we wait.
The Roomate - As always, there's an international flare to the Outlaw family and right now it is Daniel Park, our Korean "son" who has been with us for 2 years. As stereotypically expected of a good, christian, asian young man -- he's polite, kind, hardworking, studious, devoted to the reading of God's word.....AND.....he's #4's Roomate!! Last year he read a chapter of Proverbs daily, and a chapter of the New Testament daily. (Sound familiar? minus the Korean part.) This year, his goals are The Old Testament in English and the New Testament in Korean. I can't take credit for that devotion...he came to us this way! But I'm thankful for it. because each morning by the time Schaeffer wakes up, Daniel is already up reading the Word by his lamp. And each night you can hear him praying loudly when his Roomate turns out the light..... and we wait.
My energizer baby girl - It's settled -- mornings before she even gets out of bed. IPAD. You Version. New Testament. Listen and read along. And a listening to christian music or audio bible at night to settle her as she goes to sleep. It's not a fancy plan, but it's perfect for the highly-distractable, mind-whirling one who's so much like her momma. And if the rest of us get it done this year, this girly has the best chance of the getting the MOST WORD in her heart and mind by adulthood than any of us! That's just ONE of the perks of being the Baby. We MIGHT get it right by the 5th one! Or more likely, we'll just be better at expecting God and his Grace to step in.
And that's the plan. It's 2:30pm on January 1, 2016. And we've had an impromptu family breakfast made by the kiddos that brought us all to the table. And we each hammered out our plan for the Word for 2016. And I've added a post to the blog today, which was also on my list for 2016 - so I actually accomplished two things! now to get out of these Pajamas. Don't judge...it's only day one. And in reflection from my Day One Bible reading of Job...... in 2016, May I do this continually! (Job 1;5b)
So, what about you? What you and your family doing this year about digging into the Word of God? If it's 5 minutes, 5 verses, 5 chapters, or whatever? We want to hear what has worked for you. And NEXT year, we'll let you know if this has worked for us! :-)!
mom to five kiddos and wife to the only man who could put up with her; lover of God, the church, missions, and all things community and culture.
dad, husband, theologian, global leadership guy, professor, and author of countless words hidden in stacks of journals that sit in our bedroom whose wife is making him put his writings here for others to read. :-)!