Bible in a Year Reflections and Hopes

It’s that time again for resolutions and goals and both reflecting on the year past and dreaming about the year to come. I love this time of the year, quite possibly more than any other season, because it seems so fitting that immediately after we spend a season remembering that Jesus came to save and serve and love, we get to walk into something new and try again. I think there’s a lot of beauty and grace propelling us forward in this season, and that gets me excited and anticipatory for the coming year. 

As I’ve reflected on this past year, one of my very favorite things I did was read through the whole Bible. This is the second time I’ve done this, the first being in 2016, and I’ve decided to make it an intentional practice every year to come because of how it moves me closer to the Lord, more knowledgeable about the God I serve and love, and molds me into a better wife, friend, daughter, teacher, and sister.

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My year of reading Scripture in 2017 was so, so good. I intentionally read from one Bible all year and took notes in the margins every day, thanks to the popularity of journaling Bibles. I used the reading and note-taking skills that I teach to my students and became a student again myself, every morning, practicing interacting with the text that was in front of me. In 2016, I worked through a first reading of the Bible, and in 2017, I was able to engage with the words on the page more deeply because I already had a context of what was happening. And being married to a man in seminary means that every morning I had access to Matt across the table, who is a wealth of knowledge on all sorts of Biblical things, and also his massive commentary/resource library to draw from, which I turned to often.

It’s really beautiful to look back on the year and pinpoint major events by where I was at in my reading plan and realize how the Lord was teaching me, comforting me, and challenging me through His word during those times. I recently heard in a sermon that the purpose of spiritual disciplines is for intimacy, not mastery. And that’s how I feel about this past year, more intimate with the Lord because his words ring over every major memory I have from 2017. His character and his presence were clear because I practiced recognizing them, and friends, this certainly changed how I lived and loved.

But just as a traveler learns after every place visited just how much more there is to explore and discover, the more I read the Scriptures, the more I realize how much more there is to learn about the Lord and how much more I can grow in Him and in my relationships and in my calling.

And although this can be disheartening, I remember that the point of spiritual disciplines isn’t mastery, but rather intimacy. I’m not practicing this to become perfect at it, but rather to grow closer to the only One who is perfect.

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In the coming year, I get to read the Bible again and learn more about a really incredible God and how he wants my heart. I get to read about how he provided a way for that to happen through Jesus. I get to learn, again, about how I don’t need to do anything to be loved, but rather I serve a God who fiercely fights for his people over and over and over again. And I get to grow closer to this God who is love and be transformed more deeply to who he’s called me to be.

This is why I commit my mornings to Scripture, even when it’s hard or when I’m tired or don’t feel like it. Because growth happens in the in-between moments, right? I’ve found this to be true and I want to continue living in this way with even more intentionality this year. Here are my Scripture reading goals and resources for 2018:

-Use the M’Cheyne reading plan– four chapters a day and it goes through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. (I used this plan the past two years)

– Use the new She Reads Truth Bible in the CSB translation (I used this journaling Bible last year and I’ve been eyeing this one to use next year)

-Take notes in the margin of my Bible

– Journal through Scripture at least twice a week

-Join Well-Watered Co’s Word before the World challenge– not getting on social media/email until I’ve spent time reading Scripture. The founder of Well-Watered Women has a great blog post explaining the challenge here.

I would love to know what your Scripture reading goals are for the year and walk with you this year! Let me know in the comments below or on social media @kelseylietzen

Tuesday Victories | 12.5

Friends, it’s officially Christmastime! And a Tuesday, so it’s time for some victories that are bringing me joy and meaning and reminding me of Jesus during this season.

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1. Childhood ornaments- when I moved to Indy, my mom gave me a handful of ornaments from growing up. Some are the ones my Granny gave each of the grandchildren each year and some are my favorites from growing up, especially the Cinderella and Snoopy ones. Matt and I decorated our apartment a few weeks ago and it’s always so fun to sort through them each year and to see them illuminate from the lights every night.

2. Amazon- because 2 day shipping and Christmas shopping work really well together. And the reason we’re basically done with both of our lists. Thanks, Amazon.

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3. Advent studies- with Christmas comes Advent, the season of expectation and longing and celebration of a Savior who came to save. I’m going through the She Reads Truth advent study, which is the one I’ve done for the past few years, and Matt is doing the He Reads Truth one. We typically do Advent and Lent studies every year, and I love that She and He Reads Truth provides resources for both of us! It’s not too late to start! Ladies, check it out here. And guys can head here.

4. This shirt– oversized long-sleeve shirts have been a favorite of mine this fall, and this one is pretty, looks crazy comfortable, and says “Give me Jesus plus nothing” which is my favorite and also a great conversation starter. This one made my Christmas list this year!

5. Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Kettle Corn– discovered this seasonal treat at the grocery store this past weekend and it accompanied our movie night perfectly. I love all things chocolate-sea salt-y and Matt loves kettle corn, so it was the perfect match.

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6. The book of Hebrews– I recently read through Hebrews in my reading plan and shoot dang, I forgot how incredible it is. This book is set up to prove and discuss and celebrate how Jesus is better in every way and I loved it. Such a great way to lead up to Advent. In fact, I wrote a scripture study over Hebrews 9 and used it as a catalyst for a discussion about Christmas at the girls small group I lead at school on Fridays. You can find that resource here!

7. My husband’s Christmas message from last weekend- I love a good sermon. Love them. And one of my favorite voices that I get to learn from is my husband, which is just beautiful and exciting and fun. He taught at the youth ministry he oversees this past weekend and just killed it; I know I was not the only one with tears in my eyes by the end. He told me it will be online later this week, and once it’s posted, it deserves a listen (which you can do here). Crazy proud wife over here, friends.

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8. This bag– The Reformation nerd in me is obsessed with this tote bag and it’s also officially on my Christmas list. This bag is perfect for toting around a Bible and a journal! And also another great conversation starter. I have a weakness for tote bags and love Scripture, so this was a fun find for me. (picture credit)

9. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren– I’m still slowly working my way through this book, but it’s challenging me in ways that are all sorts of hard and good and beautiful. She discusses how ordinary moments are meaningful to our spiritual life (one of my favorite very favorite things) and challenges her reader to be more intentional. Warren is a minister in the Anglican tradition and brings in her knowledge of the church liturgy and applies it to our ordinary moments. I’m finding this aspect to be particularly fascinating and challenging, especially since I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church. This book is encouraging me to slow down and make intentional changes, like waking up early to journal with paper and pen instead of scroll on my phone first thing in the morning, and it’s been so, so good.

10. The Office season finale- Matt and I started watching The Office this past summer after we drove through Scranton, PA on the way back from Maine and he realized I never actually watched the entire series. It was a tough moment in our marriage. We finished watching it last night and people. What a solid finale. I was skeptical of whether I would continue to like the series after Michael left, but I did and the last episode was so. great. All the feelings. Definitely a worthwhile show to watch all the way through, which is what I’ve been told for years, but now I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

To quote Pam Beasely from the end of The Office, “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” In this season, I’m finding a lot of reminders to slow down and pay attention to the beauty in ordinary moments and I want to invite you to do the same. What are some victories or moments that are bringing you joy or pointing you to Jesus or challenging you today? Comment below or on social media (Instagram is my favorite) @kelseylietzen. I’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday Victories | 8.29

Tuesdays are hard. They’re the sophomores of the week- you’re fully invested but not close to the end yet. Instead of feeling drained and irritated (ask any of my students- Tuesdays are the worst for me..whoops!), here are a few small victories- words, things, and moments- getting me through the week:

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1. Psalm 103– My reading plan takes me through the Psalms on Wednesdays and I haven’t been able to get this one out of my head since I read it last week. The entire chapter is filled to the brim with specific attributes about the Lord: that he is a forgiver, a healer, a redeemer, a satisfier. He is righteous and merciful and gracious and always loving. I need to be reminded of who the Lord is, everyday, and Psalm 103 is helping me this week.

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2. Fat Dan’s Deli in Indy— Matt and I first stumbled upon this place last winter and have been raving about it ever since. It’s an unassuming place in So-Bro but shoot dang, their food. It’s definitely a place to indulge, and their fries and wings are the best we’ve had in Indy. It’s a Chicago-style place, so tons of Cubs gear on the walls and Italian beef on menu and everything is amazingly delicious. My parents came into town on Saturday to watch me coach and my girls play and then treated Matt and me to lunch afterwards. I remember thinking how much my parents would love the place after we visited the first time, so it was a blast watching them love their experience. And the food!

3. GHS Soul Sisters– At school, we have this hour in the middle of the day where students get to choose where they want to eat and hang out. It’s also a time where clubs can meet during the school day. With the help of my two of my best work-friends and the enthusiasm of some students we all have relationships with, we launched a Christian-community group for girls on Friday during this hour and it has been AMAZING. The girls are pumped and inviting everyone they know and this past week we had 30 girls reading Scripture, talking about who God is and why that matters. Friends, this is incredible. To be able to disciple in a public school with students we see every day has been such amazing thing to be a part of. So thankful for the space and freedom to watch the Lord do his thing. Go follow us on Instagram @ghssoulsisters

4. You all!– Friends, your responses to my last blog post about body image was incredible. I received so many texts and messages and comments that were so encouraging, especially since I was crazy terrified of posting something so honest and raw. Thank you for sharing your struggle with me– I so value your vulnerability. I want to continue having conversations about body image and the balance between working out and eating well from a place of gratitude and worship rather than a place of obsession and self-gratification. Hopefully this will be a place where that can happen.

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5. Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly— I know this has been one of my victories a few weeks ago, but the more I read, the more it’s changing, challenging, and encouraging me to step into a place of holiness and grace and mission. I cannot recommend it enough. Go ahead and pre-order your copy here! You will not regret it, promise.

I’m in the full swing of a busy fall, but life is so, so good right now. But, I’m still needing to remember the victories that make my weeks particularly sweet. Let me know what some of your favorites are in the comments or on social media @kelseylietzen