all the things I want to share with her

During the week between Christmas and and the new year, my husband took five boys (four of ours and one we love like he's ours) to Disney. Stephen had a tournament. The others were along for the ride. That left me "alone" with our four girls. We made a list of lots of girly things to do. Some of them happened. Some were relegated to another list some time in the future. 

The three littler girls bounced between my house and my friend Nicole's. One night a sleepover with me, one night with her, back and forth as they soaked up time with Nicole's daughter, Brynn. Sarah even managed a night where she spent half the night with Nicole and the other half with me. Once, we had a pajama party with a bunch of girlfriends of Mary Beth--the whole gang of bigs and littles together in a haze of nail polish and glitter. And the night the boys were driving home, we stayed awake until 3:00 AM watching Gilmore Girls for the first time.

But it was the quiet moments that were the most valuable to me. Nicole's gift to me was time alone in my house with my big girl. Mary Beth and I had the rare luxury of lots of uninterrupted conversations away from little ears and curious brothers. It was golden time, really; time I will treasure forever. She could ask questions and I could offer thoughtful answers. She taught me a lot in those days. 

She will be home for another 18 months or so. She's begun full-time college studies. She's working two jobs. She's active in her youth group. Her life is full and filling with all the things that will take her out into the world.  And still, there's so much left to share. I know that her leaving won't be the end of our friendship. Actually, I know that as she grows, our relationship will, too. But there is so much of my heart I still haven't spoken into hers.

So I began a project. I've bought a journaling Bible and I'm spending the next 18 months or so annotating it for her. I'm searching my favorite verses and I'm writing to her the words God has spoken to me in those places. I'm pouring my soul into the margins and hoping the Holy Spirit will take my offerings alongside His and make them into something beautiful for my girl.

When I posted a picture on Instagram, people asked for details. I ordered three different RSV versions of the Oxford Bible that I loved in college (only with margins for note taking). I even expedited shipping. Each time, it took 3 weeks or so to get the news that there are none of those Bibles to be had. Finally, I ordered this one. I'm a little sad about that because Sirach is such a beautiful book for a young woman, for any woman really. My plan is to put Sirach notes on the end pages. 

I've been using and loving these pens. I'm not drawing or clipping scrapbook art or much of anything fancy. I'm just using this Bible to make notes. Sometimes, it's just notes on the Mass reading of the day. Sometimes, I'm going back through Bible studies I've loved and transcribing notes from the margins of those books into the margins of the Bible. Sometimes, I'm lifting my notes from my journal. 

I'm not going to lie. When you have cancer at 24 and no one is really certain what the longterm effects of chemotherapy and radiation mean for different cancers in your future, and when a dear friend is dying of the cancer that is the greatest apparent risk, the thought that your daughter might navigate young womanhood without you does cross your mind from time to time. I don't want this book to be morbid and I hope that there will be many times when she sits with a baby on her lap or waiting out soccer practice and she calls to say, "You know that passage in Ephesians? I understand exactly how you felt when you wrote that." I hope we get those times.

But if we don't, she's got my heart between the pages. 


Anticipating further Bible questions, I'm reposting answers to last year's questions here,just to make things handy.

When I wrote about how I am called to serve my family and what I do to fuel myself, Lynn asked

I have decided to buy a new study Bible & have been looking at the Ignatius NT study Bible, but now am torn as the the C.S. Lewis Bible.

Do you have a preference ? How do you find the notes?

And the answer is BOTH and then some;-). Sorry, I think I might be a bit of a geek like that. I love the C S Lewis Bible. It's as if C.S. Lewis spent a lifetime journaling in his Bible and then gave it to me. On every page, there's insight from a truly great teacher. It's wonderful to be able to sit and read scripture and then see a bit of Lewis. And then, two things might happen. The first always, always happens: I crosscheck in other Bibles. The second, happens when time allows--I find the Lewis quote in the context of his books. This means that I have a bunch of other Bibles and a fairly extensive Lewis library, both of which are accessible online (though I much prefer the book method, as the computer can take me out of the contemplative mode very efficiently).

I use the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible as often as the C S Lewis Bible. The notes are rich and reading them is fruitful. Its only shortcoming is that it's only the New Testament. I eagerly await the release of the Old Testament. In the meantime, I keep the Ignatius Catholic Bible-RSV handy. I prefer the RSV translation and this one enables me to have both Old and New Testaments and some notes for each. I noticed that now has the RSV Catholic translation, so there's that online option. The other Catholic online option is the USCCB has the entire version of Bible online here. Because this is the New American Bible version used in the Lectionary, I take the Lord, Hear Our Prayer scripture quotes from here. There are some notes on reading the Bible privately here at the USCCB site that might be helpful for people who are wanting to begin this practice. God willing, I look forward to coming back into this space and sharing some Bible journalling ideas with you soon.

The notes in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible are extensive and very enlightening. I also like to use the Catholic Bible Dictionary to dig deeper. The C S Lewis Bible doesn't have typical notes for exegesis; it has Lewis quotes that have been selected topically.

And, since we're talking about Bibles in the morning, my basket is also stocked with a Bible for my little ones. Typically, when Sarah Annie first awakens, she'll snuggle still and quiet onto my lap for some time while I finish my thoughts and prayers. Then, I'll read to her from The Jesus Storybook Bible. It's truly beautifully done! I highly recommend it.

This basket didn't fill at once. It's been gathered over time. It is the most treasured gathering of items in my life. This is where the day begins. It's food for the journey. It's consolation in times of grief and a steady hand when I wobble. This is where the soul work happens, the work that gives light and meaning and wisdom and joy to any other work I do. The basket has been gathered thoughtfully and at some sacrifice, but graces overflow from it, far exceeding what I ever imagined when I made those purchases.