Some things I learned or was reminded of—the Word of God is absolutely incredible. It is so rich, deep, and intentional for His people. God loves us more than we can imagine. His grace and forgiveness are things I will never be able to wrap my mind around. There are some crazy, terrifying, really messed up world situations in the Bible (and today), but God is faithful no matter what. Heaven will be amazing. I dream about the moment of seeing Jesus face to face and for the day I can ask him my list of questions (of course I have a list)!

It was January 5th. For the first time, I did not make my traditional “list” of things I wanted to accomplish in the new year. From the time I was 7 years old, I have been passionate about organization, planning, list-making, goal-setting, and chasing after dreams. Ask me if I’ve ever made a list for it, and I probably have. Ask my parents. They may have thought I had a slight problem at times because I constantly had a pen and paper in my hands and everything was an organizational game for awhile.

Dad told me about making a bucket list as a child. I was fascinated. I was going to make one. The first time I made my bucket list was literally as I was sitting up in a tree with my journal, and after I had written my life-dreams at age 9, put my list in a bucket. That’s a bucket list. Your list of dreams goes into a bucket!

This list-making, planning, organized way of life is usually a wonderful thing, but as I’ve written in numerous posts in the past, it can be so dangerous at times. Dancing in a perfectionist, overly critical lifestyle can be a real challenge for me at times, however God has gradually taken away those tendencies over the last 5 years or so. Years ago, if I didn’t have set, detailed plan for what I would be reading, writing, achieving, etc, I would have seen myself as a failure. Now, that just makes me laugh as I look back.

So, back to January 5th. I didn’t have a specific plan for reading scripture, however I wanted to read the whole Bible this year. I’ve read the Bible for as long as I can remember, however I have never read the whole Bible before. I wanted to go deeper in my relationship with God, and I wanted to be more intentional about my reading time. I wanted to continue to learn how to trust Him more and trust myself less. I’ve read the same books over and over, and I’ve read a good majority of the Bible, but not the entire thing. I started searching in the Bible app. I wanted to find something that was a year or less. I wanted something chronological. Not just cover to cover. I had tried a two-year plan, a one-year plan, and I’ve never succeeded in finishing. I’m not sure why.

As I scrolled through plans, I came across “A Reader’s 90 Day Guide to the Bible.” Three months? Probably not the whole Bible, but it was! Was that even possible? Yeah for people who do nothing but read. I kept scrolling. “I wish I had time for stuff like that,” I thought. Someday, maybe! I went back to the plan—one hour of reading a day would get me through the Bible in 90 days. One hour? That sounded pretty neat, however I knew I didn’t have an hour. Who has that kind of time? You would think that simple scrolling through plans on an app would be something super low-key for me, but this was intense. I wanted to read the whole Bible. I needed guidance and a schedule though—I don’t have the discipline to do that on my own yet. “Ugh, I just don’t have time!” I thought. “I teach preschool, piano lessons, have two energetic toddlers, two dogs, a husband, a social life (somewhat), and I’m busy.” God must have heard my “poor me, I don’t have time” attitude. Instantly I felt a strong, “Make time. You have it.” Make time? Come on, do I actually have an hour to spare? Only way to know is to give it a shot. So I did.

I started the plan on January 5th. Reading my Bible for an hour a day didn’t mean it had to be all at once. I could split this up. I prefer to read my Bible from my actual Bible, but I could also read on my phone if I wanted. Maybe if I was focused I could even listen to it from the app sometimes.

90 days through the entire Bible seemed a little overwhelming at first, but I chose to just read at the pace I could do. I’d have the “schedule” and the order of books and chapters, but I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I missed a day or got behind schedule. I gave myself that flexibility (something I never would have done years ago either) and that made a huge difference.

After just a couple of days into the reading plan, I was hooked. This intense, long-time reading was good for me. It was something I looked forward to. I didn’t sit down and read for an entire hour. The first day I read for 20 minutes, then another 5, then 15, and then finished up before bed. The next day was similar. Maybe this was doable!

Tonight is April 25th. I finished the entire Bible for the first time today! I did not read it in 90 days, and that is ok. I took some time off. I didn’t read every single day, and some days I read for more than an hour. I loved reading through this plan. Not only did it immerse me in scripture, but it brought me closer to the Lord. Years ago, this would have been some big “accomplishment” for me. Tonight, that isn’t quite what I see it as at all, despite the photo of the app giving me an “award”. This was wonderful time with the Lord.

Some things I learned or was reminded of—the Word of God is absolutely incredible. It is so rich, deep, and intentional for His people. God loves us more than we can imagine. His grace and forgiveness are things I will never be able to wrap my mind around. There are some crazy, terrifying, really messed up world situations in the Bible (and today), but God is faithful no matter what. Heaven will be amazing. I dream about the moment of seeing Jesus face to face and for the day I can ask him my list of questions (of course I have a list)!

Some other things I learned—I have an hour a day to read; in fact, I have more than an hour many days. If I’m intentional with my time, I do have time. If it matters and is important, time can be made. Quiet reading time each day is a perfect time to read the Bible. Reading the Bible out loud while the boys eat or play is fun. Listening to the audio version for all the genealogies and “boring” parts is really fun—especially with two toddlers to help laugh at the silly names! Listening to the Bible in the car makes car rides more relaxing sometimes. The boys have wanted to read their Bibles more too throughout these last couple months. Reading in the morning before the boys get up is one of my favorite times to read (even though it didn’t happen as much as I would have liked). One time I came out to the kitchen, and my oldest son was sitting at the table reading his Bible. “I got up early to read, Mama.” That melted my heart.

The more I read, the more I want to read. The more I read, the more my heart is at peace. The more I read, the more I learn about the heart of Jesus and his love for people. The more I read, the more my perspective stays in check each day. The more I read, the less I view life from a worldly perspective and can stay in more of an eternal perspective.

The timing of this plan for me was good. On January 7th, two days after I started reading, I found out I was pregnant again. I was in utter shock. Exactly three months prior, on October 7th, I was diagnosed with a kidney disease and my urologist’s words were, “This disease makes it really hard to become pregnant and carry a healthy baby. You’re done having kids, right?” Not what I had expected to hear, and yes I cried the whole way home (mainly because now I was labeled a “kidney disease patient”, but also so thankful for my two boys). My shocked excitement turned quickly to fear because of the doctor’s words. This baby wasn’t going to live. My body couldn’t handle it. Not a good mindset, but I had a few days of utter fear and depression. I kept reading. God gave me hope through his scripture. You know when you hear from God? Maybe not audibly, but you feel him speaking to him. This is what he told me in the midst of fear that came back over this baby. “Christine—I created this baby. If I take this baby early, the baby will be with Me. Stop worrying.” Wow. Could I have forgotten that? What peace I had after that. The fear was gone. God’s plans are perfect, no matter what they are. It doesn’t mean life will be easy, but God just reminded me that even a devastating possibility would still end in hope.

Also in January, our youngest son’s stomach and fever symptoms worsened. He had many doctor’s appointments and we changed up his diet several times to look for potential allergies. We were in the midst of very stressful extended family situations during that month and the month after, and life felt like a blurry whirlwind some days. I kept reading. God kept my heart at peace for so many days. Things intensified in March with our youngest son, and doctor’s were concerned. Lab work came back abnormal, he stopped playing and continued to lose weight. It got to the point where we knew things were worse than we thought. Did my blood pressure spike here and there and I have minor panic attacks a couple times? Yep. Thankfully, God directed me so many times back to his word. I read a lot. Some days it was less than an hour (only a few minutes). Some days it was a full hour. Some days was three hours or more. During these few months of anxiety, stress and heavy circumstances, there were many sleepless nights. More often, these sleepless nights were so good for me. Maybe not physically or for as much mental clarity the next day, but this gave me hours more to read and hours more to talk with God.

Tonight, April 25th. Today was the most difficult day as a mom I have ever faced, but also the day I finished reading the greatest Story ever written. For me, it beats the day I gave birth to each boy. It beats the newborn days of not knowing what I was doing (I still don’t and may never, but those first few months were rough)—of sleepless nights, of days in the NICU, of painful physical healing, or any obstacle until today. Today was the most challenging, tear-filled day I’ve had. Walking my 19 month old son through a bowel cleanse and a 40 hour fast is something I never wish upon anyone. I won’t go into the details, but it was awful. It was a good day though. I talked to God so often. I prayed bold prayers, I thanked him, and saw his hand through each moment today. Friends showed up with coffee this morning. My sister-in-law sent a text early saying she was praying for us today. My mom facetimed each boy for a few minutes to make them laugh. My sister texted encouragement to me at the perfect times. My wonderful friend from South Africa sent me a voicemail prayer. So many friends and family prayed all day, and we could feel the prayers. A couple close friends texted back and forth with me through the entire day and evening with encouragement and finding out how things were going. What an incredible community of family and friends that came along side us today and have for many days.

As I held my screaming boy tonight before bed, I felt so helpless. “I love him so much, Christine. It’s ok.” Something inside me relaxed. A minute later, so did my little boy. As he fell asleep in my arms as he sucked his little thumb, I was so thankful. God is good.

Today I finished the book of Revelation—the end of the story that concludes God’s plan for the world. God gave me so much hope today. I didn’t know that today would be the day I would finish reading. If I had stuck to the plan, I would have finished on April 1. Today was a better day to finish. 115 days through the Bible, and it was doable! So if you think you can’t, or don’t have time, think again. I had no idea how wonderful all this reading time would be, or how much it would impact my life and relationship with the Lord. Once again, I am reminded how perfect His timing is, and that he works all things together for the good of those who love Him.