Halfway through the Bible

So, I am still planning on finishing the Bible in 90 days.

I’m just ridiculously behind.

I got behind during graduation, but caught up.

Only to get behind while traveling to Canada, immediately followed by our apartment hunting trip to Florida.

Then I started to catch up. But we had 2 weeks to pack everything and get out of our apartment.

And now we’ve been living in Florida almost a week.

Where am I in my study?

Psalms.

Where should I be?

Isaiah.

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But I can and will catch up! I will finish on schedule! I am finally getting into the rhythm of life again (more about life in Florida later. I have too much to figure out and get a handle on before I can write about it all!)

Anyway, the read through is tough. There is a lot of skimming. I am running into troubling passages about genocide, rape, and murder, and I can’t really sit in the pain of those passages. They trouble me but I must keep moving on to meet my goal. I knew going into this project that I would get frustrated by breezing through the Bible, so I was ready for this. It’s a good reminder how important it is to really delve into scripture instead of just reading it at face value.

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Despite the challenges, I am glad to be doing this. I am absorbing the stories and the language, even if I’m missing the details. It’s also really helping me as I am writing a (fairly) comprehensive Biblical curriculum for the youth group this coming school year. We’re going through the whole Bible; we might miss a couple books and we can’t hit all the stories, but we’re studying scripture as a whole story. We’re talking about God’s covenantal faithfulness, sin and restoration, justice and community, as one story woven together. Right now I’m working with the title “The Holy Story,” but we’ll see if I stick with that. Biblical literacy is not only important for me in my life, but also for my ministry and the people I teach. I will be using music, movie clips, acting, and other creative activities to engage scripture. I’ll hit some tough topics and important topics so that the youth will see just how relevant scripture is. We’ll talk about mental health, vocation, pain and suffering, consent, abuse, self love and celebrating gifts, etc. I will also be using The Bible Project youtube videos to break down these books and the complex ideas represented in them. We’re learning about the whole Bible in numerous ways through media, activities, creativity, and the reading of scripture. While I am breezing through scripture now, we won’t be this upcoming year.

Between my read through, reading The Essential Bible Companion, creating this curriculum, and watching all of the Bible Project videos, I feel like scripture is truly sinking in and providing the firm foundation I need. I hope to be one of those people who just “know” scripture. I have a long way to go, but I’m on my way.

Moving

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. – 1 John 3:17-18

hate moving.

Packing. Lifting. Bubble wrapping. Stacking. Unpacking.

Putting an angry cat in a carrier and having him cry the whole time in the car.

(We tried the sedative thing last time and he fought it the whole time. It only made him angrier and louder.)

Fortunately we are getting reimbursed for hiring full service movers, so putting everything on a truck and then getting it off the truck will not be our responsibility!

We aren’t moving for another week, but the packing has begun.

I rue my love of books when it comes time to box them up.

As much as I hate packing and moving, It’s nice to relive old memories. My mom boxed up my old yearbooks, trophies, and plaques from school. I looked through them and remembered my accomplishments, saw pictures of myself through the years, and read messages written by old friends. I couldn’t help but laugh at my second grade yearbook. At the front it asks about all the “favorites”: favorite TV show, song, sports, etc. I filled them all in, and when it got to “favorite star” I wrote “Dolly” (as in Dolly Parton.) I am a Tennessee girl through and through! Like most Tennesseans I love Dolly, even though I am not a country music fan. I grew up going to Dollywood fairly regularly, so she is very much a part of my childhood.

It is also cathartic to go through my items and get rid of things I no longer need. I am giving away items Andy and I no longer use, donating clothes and furniture, throwing away expired items, and cutting down the clutter. Not only does it feel good to lighten our load, but it also feels good to give away items that may be of use to someone else, especially someone in need.

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Andy and I have all of these little piles of change lying around the house. We keep saying that we need to do something with our change, but then never rolling the coins and taking them to the bank. One time I found myself sweeping and found a dime. I was tempted to sweep it up and throw it away, and then it hit me: what a privilege to be able to consider throwing away a piece of money. I also know how guilty I am of not having cash on me. Growing up, I didn’t live in area where there were many people on the streets asking for money. It was a shock to see so many in need here in the Atlanta area, and I have regularly had to turn down someone because I mostly use my card and don’t carry cash. So I bagged up all of our change in small plastic baggies and I plan on keeping one or two on hand to give to whoever needs it. It’s by no means a super-cure-all for those in need, but I realized that this money could really be given to someone who could use it instead of me seeing them as coins that clutter my home.

I hope that all the items we are donating and giving away are helpful to others. While cleaning out clutter isn’t a profound theological endeavor, it is eye-opening to see what a privilege it is to have all of this “stuff”, possessions that sit, go unused, and take up space. I hope to take these moments to address my privilege and find a way to use it to give to others, even if it’s just some change, some gently worn clothes, and a couple cheap pieces of furniture.

Montreal

Andy and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary on June 15, but we will likely be preparing our move to Florida during that time. So we had decided to celebrate early! We have had our Montreal trip in the works for 2 years. We wanted to go international, but we had never planned an international trip on our own before. I had gone to France with a group from college and to South Korea with a group from Seminary. Andy went with a college group to Greece. And on our honeymoon we spent time in Charleston, Isle of Palms, and took a cruise from the Charleston port to the Bahamas. All of our international travel had been pretty well planned for us. We thought Quebec would give us the feeling of traveling far without going to far away and having English friendly places in a French speaking country would be helpful.

 

The flight was only about 2 hours and 10 minutes (much shorter than the 14 hour flight to S. Korea!) We checked into out condo that we rented through AirBnb. It was the perfect location to easily walk to Old Montreal and two of the major metro stops. There were also some great restaurants just blocks away. Of course the first thing we tried was poutine! It was as delicious as we had hoped.

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I will give a brief overview of each day:

Day 1: We went to Little Italy and explored their shops, the beautiful farmer’s market, the architecture, and had some authentic Italian pizza (thin crust topped with a layer of mozzarella, with shrimp, clams, and marinara on top.) The Italian folks who owned the shop had a great sense of humor! We then headed over to the Fine Arts Museum which was downtown. Again, great architecture downtown with tall buildings alongside old-world looking churches and businesses. The museum was enormous! They had a special Picasso exhibit alongside of an exhibit that showed various styles of art from all over Africa and contemporary African-Canadian art. It showed how Picasso had been inspired by (or maybe had taken from…) these art styles. There was renaissance art (my favorite!), various other styles through the centuries, and a large section of contemporary art.

Day 2: We walked over to Old Montreal and explored the Old Port, various statues, old-world architecture, visited shops, and looked in multiple churches. The stand out for this day was the Notre-Dame Basillica! We stopped by early in the day to see inside and attend noon mass in their smaller (though still fairly sizable and extremely ornate) chapel. Mass was in all French, but it was nice to listen to the liturgy, scriptures, and prayer being spoken while meditating on the art. We came back to the Basillica that night to see their light show “Aura.” The show was created using lights, lasers, projections, mirrors, and orchestral music to show the beauty of the Basillica and celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montreal. The anniversary was last year, but the show was so popular that they kept it going for this year! We were lucky to catch it!

 

Day 3: We went to go visit the “Underground City.” It was hard to find what we were looking for, but we learned that the Underground City refers to the tunnel system. One must follow the tunnels to find the shopping and restaurants. So we wandered around until we found some! In the future one might want a map or a specific location in mind before they find themselves wandering from tunnel to tunnel. Then we visited the McCord Museum of History, which focused on the difficult history Canada has faced with First Nations people and Jewish people. The museum attempts to honor their stories while owning up to the fact that they haven’t always treated these groups of people well. That night we visited the Comedy Nest and heard some awesome stand up!

Day 4: We visited the Botanical Gardens. There were so many flowers (every color of iris, my favorite!), a First Nations garden full of plants and trees, a beautiful pond, an Alpine garden with a waterfall and rock formations, a Japanese garden with a koi pond, and an insectarium with beetles, ants, moths, butterflies, bees, spiders, and tons of exotic bugs. Then we went up in the Montreal Tower to get a 360 view of the city.

 

We wore ourselves out! We walked all day for 4 days. But we saw so much of the city and used the most of our time. We figured out the Metro system pretty easily and could walk around without the GPS to the local spots. We could speak English pretty easily; in fact there were many conversations happening around us in English! We had some great food, and the weather was sunny every day. In fact, Montreal was having a heat wave while we were there.

It was interesting seeing so many homeless people in such a progressive country. I wrongly assumed that since Canada’s government is ahead of us in so many ways that they didn’t have as many homeless people as we do. But there are always people who are oppressed and who fall through the cracks. We all have such a long way to go in helping others.

All in all, it was a good trip! We were tired out, but it was so much fun to figure out a new city, and a new country on our own.

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After 5 years, Andy and I have been through so much together. We’ve moved states (and we are moving again soon!), we’ve gotten masters’ degrees, we’ve traveled together and apart, we’ve become better communicators, we’ve been through family illnesses and family deaths, we’ve been to weddings, we’ve seen plays, concerts, and eaten good meals, we’ve struggled with life’s tragedies and changes, and we’ve taken care of each other through it all. It’s not been easy. But I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Here’s to many more years of growth, changes, striving, and loving.