Quiet Time and Bible Questions


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 Biblia.com 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.

The Pharisee in Us

I sat at the kitchen counter in silence this morning, raw honey poised over bitter tea, Bible open to this morning's Gospel, and it hit me in a way that it never has before today. Late last night, I read an email from a reader that began, "I stopped reading your blog because it always made me feel bad about myself. Everything in your life is perfect and if it isn't, you spritualize it until it is." 

Stirred the honey into the tea, grateful for the sweet that chases the bitter.

I get some variation of that email pretty often. Usually, my reaction is to be sure that I write something very soon after that makes it clear that I'm not perfect, my kids aren't perfect, my life isn't perfect, and none of us are under the delusion that any of it is. Perfect. This time, though, it didn't hit me that way. This time, I sort of understood what she was getting at.

I read places and come away feeling less than, too. It's not so much about perfection, it's more about something seeming being better ::  more peaceful or more beautiful or more hopeful or holier. My favorite social media is Instagram. I love a picture. I really, really do. I love the way a picture can tell a whole story. Instagram (and all its sisters) is a slippery slope towards filling in all the blanks outside the frame and making a false idol of one's neighbor. 

Yep. False idol. 

Them are fighting words. I have to tell myself that fighting false idols is critical to my spiritual health. This morning, reading today's Gospel, I thought about that email.


Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”


 In my early internet days, it was easy to see the Pharisaical Danger. That is, I could spot what looked like pharasaical behavior in the women who read other women's words and judged those women's lives "not holy enough." It seemed cut and dried. I'd been hurt by those women, and maybe that's why that kind of pharasaical behavior really wasn't a temptation for me.  I learned to avoid those places and, to a great degree, those people, on the web and in my day-to-day life. Those were the esay to recognize Pharisees, so concerned with the letter of of law that they missed the Love of the Lord. But there's something else here about that Pharisee.
And this Pharisee:
Luke 18:11-14

The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

There is the obvious puffed up chest-beating, but there's also a more subtle, more insidious, and simpler warning. The Pharisee compares and in his comparison, he makes two mistakes. He wrongly judges his neighbor and he wrongly judges himself. This pharasaical behavior is the one where we think we are one thing, when in the eyes of God, we are something else entirely and the one where we think our neighbor is one thing, but she's another altogether. We aren't the Pharisee who thinks he's holy enough, we are the one who thinks she's not good enough. Or just plain not enough. Further, we might even have a false understanding of the person to whom we are comparing ourselves. The take away? Don't compare. Pharisees compare. It can't be good.
Jesus did a lot of talking about the Pharisees. He really, really wanted to leave us with words which would help us to avoid false images of ourselves and our neighbors. The Pharisees were all about false images of both self and neighbor. 
My reality is that regardless of what my blog looks like and regardless of what the graph on my site meter page portrays, I am God's. I belong to Him. He suffered and died for me. It doesn't matter where else I click on the interwebs, I am of infinite worth to Jesus, no more or less valuable than my neighbor. And so is the woman who wrote to me last night. We have value. We are loved just as we are, in all our brokenness. In all the places that would make for ugly or boring or uninspiring blogging. In all the places that blogs don't accurately reveal. And in all the places that look beautiful. He is there. Loving the real us. 
It is true that I can click along and take suggestions and gain insight from people who walk with me. And that can be a very good thing. It is also true that I can make false idols of each and every stop on my blog reader. I fix my gaze on my own icon of my neighbor and on the distorted vision of myself reflected in my perception of her.
And then. We have a mess.
Then, I have just surrendered myself on the doorstep of someone else's life and not at the foot of the cross.
Then, I begin to live on my own power and I am destined to sputter to a stop.
Why do we compare? We toss about restless on a sea of images and words that could be used to encourage our hearts and instead, we compare. We become the Pharisee that Jesus was so careful to warn us not to be. 
God created me uniquely. Everything in my life--my husband, my particular children, my location, my gifts, my struggles, my infirmities--all of it is God's to use to shape me into His vision for me. His vision for me is different than His vision for my neighbor. He calls me uniquely. There is a life He intends for me and me alone.  And so, my life will look different from hers.
We can learn from one another. We should encourage one another. But comparing? Finding ourselves lacking in the light of someone else's life as it is portryed on the internet? That's not what He wants for us. He wants a community that encourages and builds up. He wants us to link arms and look together towards Him. He wants us to look to the community for support in living vocation. Unique vocation. 
The Pharisee compared himself to his neighbor. The simple lesson of this Pharisee: don't compare.
I understand why she stopped reading here. I've done the same thing elsewhere. And truly, my heart breaks for her. It breaks for the terrible feeling of clicking away from the beauty in someone else's life, the witness of what God is doing in another family, and feeling lost and forgotten, and not good enough. My heart has hurt in the just the same way. The Pharisees didn't carry iPhones. I wish they had. It would all be so much simpler if it were spelled out: "Don't be like that foolish woman who clicks there and thinks that. Isn't it obvious that's the near occasion of sin?"
But no. It doesn't work that way. We have to discern. 
The keys at our fingertips, the windows into another woman's heart, can be among the tools in God's hands to use for our good, to shape us into the person He created us to be. Can we do that without creating idols of the tools; can we look instead to the Master Craftsman to see how He would have us use them?
We have to. We have to leave the bitterness of comparison to be able to taste and see the sweetness of encouragement. 

Consider the birds of the air...














DSC_5980Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are not you more important than they?

Matthew 6: 26


Good Morning! Is today feeling all Mondayish? The to-do list is converging with don't-have list (you know, time, money, energy, patience, discipline...) and you're wondering how in the world to make sense of it all. Look at the birds. Tiny creatures out there in the great big world! Wee little brains and delicate, hollow bones, yet there they are on a bright 17-degree morning all dancing in concert with one another. They're full of energy and well organized and seemingly ready to take on the day. It's all about their choreographer.

None of it under their own power or ability.

He does it. The Lord is the wind beneath their wings and they are utterly dependent upon His good providence. 

Are you not more important than they?

in Pursuit of Rhythm









quiet time






















bedtime snack







Yesterday, inspired by Katherine's series peaceful photos and simple, but stirring words, I set out to try to capture the rhythm of our day. Maybe just a little bit, I set out to try to see if we had any rhythm in our days!

We do, sort of, though it does not feel nearly as peaceful to me as reading Katherine's does. I wonder, though, if that is because I actually lived our day and I just perused the frames of Katherine's. I wonder if she would look on my pictures and think much the same, only about me. It's one of those internet things, I suspect--one of those myriad of reasons that comparing robs us of joy.

Back to our day.

The morning is very rhythmic. I awaken first nearly every day. I begin with tea and then with quiet time. At some point, Sarah comes to join me. We've learned she absolutely must have this time. If perchance she awakens after anyone else but me, we have a meltdown until we find a way to create quiet morning snuggle time with Mommy. She is not kidding when she says she needs it. I hold her for awhile and then when she starts to stir, she turns to the Jesus Storybook Bible and I finish my own thoughts. Often, a similar scene is taking place upstairs with Mike and Karoline and every once in a blue moon, we trade pictures:-).

[Neither of the above snugle pictures are from yesterday--they're from a few days earlier. I feel compelled to tell you that in the spirit of authenticity.]

As each child awakens, they look to their own devotions. Then we begin to congregate for breakfast.

After breakfast, there are chores. I noticed I took no pictures of chores. Maybe another day...

Then, we "do school." I hate that phrase, but somehow it sticks. We begin together with a faith study and then each child disperses to his or her own plan. 

Lately, lunch has been a "Karoline and Katie Kreation." They are a bit obsessed with Honest Pretzels. We've had some excellent real life lessons in how important it is to read carefully and follow directions in order;-).

I've been experiencing a great deal of back pain this week, probably a combination of accumulated tension, a mild virus, and hormones. Stephen and Sarah have joined me to stretch out all the kinks upstairs while lunch is being "created" downstairs.

The afternoons usually settle into more "school," more chores, and a little sewing if I'm lucky. Dinner prep happens, too. I took pictures of Katie making fried rice, but I think they must be on the big camera. If we all pause while I go try to upload that, this post won't happen today. 

We scatter to dance and to soccer or to the gym, always to return home ravenous and in need of a substantial snack because dinner was early and everyone played hard.

I find it astonishing when mothers tell me that they go for days (weeks, even?) without bathing their children. Bath time is a highlight of the day here. We love baths! I hoard bath salts and oils like some women hoard chocolate bars. And my own time in the tub is a respite of which I am very find. One might even call it my one weakness;-)

After bath time, I read to the little girls in their room and then I snuggle Sarah to sleep. I usually slip out with Katie and Karoline still whispering in the dark. 

Last night, I heard them still whispering around 11:00. Karoline is usually the ringmaster of late night circuses, so we called her to our room.

"What in the world are you doing?"

"Oh, we have all our cookbooks out and we're making meal plans. Then, we will blog them on a new website. It's going to be awesome."


The morning found me looking into the availability of lovetocook.com

Alas, it's already taken.