Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge

Welcome to Living in the In-Between and the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My name is Ronda and I'm so glad you're here.  I hope you come back to visit often.   I'm looking forward to meeting you and reading your April posts. This is my fourth year and every year I enjoy it more and more.  If you're visiting for the first time, you will find that I am the queen of run on sentences and commas.  I try, really I try to listen to the voice of my high school Advanced Composition teacher, but I guess I like being queen!  I hope it doesn't distract you from reading.

My main aim from the very beginning of writing this blog was to spark a desire in the reader to read the Word of God.  If curiosity, pain, or even anger because of my words got you to open God's Word, my goal would be met.  Since 1994, when I started reading the Bible seriously, I have been blown away by how much I am like soooooo many of the people who reside in its pages.  Not the good guys either but the wicked, the evil, the proud, the arrogant, the fearful, the untrusting.

We can find our dopplegangers in God's Word.  But the only way you will find yours is to open it.  My purpose for this years blogging challenge is to help you find yours.  I really believe that is part of my purpose in writing a blog.  I believe God has given me that desire to pass along to you, dear Reader, a curiosity that breeds admiration, that breeds, eventually, I hope, a love for God and His word all through learning about a bunch of bucket head people. We know about them on the fringes, through the Sunday School stories growing up, but I'm telling you....what I have discovered is probably never going to be written in a children's curriculum!  

My prayer as I discover and share my discoveries here, is that I can give you a little bit more than the basic lesson of a Sunday School story.  I'm going to try, Lord willing, He'll make it happen. I pray that you see God in a way you hadn't seen him before.  I pray you see yourself as He sees you, because you came here and learned about some really messed up people trying to manipulate God's plan, but God still loved them and blessed them despite their best efforts to mess things up.

So let me tell you how God's been doing what I'm trying to describe.

It's been quiet in my brain for a couple months.  The words have been sleeping I guess.  I look at my computer, look up at Him, look in His Word... and there's nothing.

NOTHING!  The quiet has been deafening, but it's been a good quiet.  I like it when God quiets my mind and my soul.  Sometimes the words come so fast I can hardly rest, so when it is quiet, it's nice.

Side bar:  I used to get a little anxious about that quietness - thoughts like:  Oh no, is God mad at me?  Is something wrong?  Have I offended Him?  A funny thing happens when you dig in God's word seeking assurance, looking for comfort.....rest comes.

Permission to rest comes.  It's a very cool thing.

When I rest on the truth that there is nothing I can do to earn my salvation or keep my salvation, or mess up my salvation, a prison door opens and I can, as Wisconsin's son, Aaron, says, "R E L A X."  I highly recommend this practice.

Anyway, back to my story.

This year's A to Z Blogging Challenge will be my fourth year.  After last year's challenge produced a book, I wasn't sure what I would do in 2016 or even if I would participate in 2016.  Up until January 1st of this new year, I hadn't really given much thought to it, and certainly gave much less prayer to it.  By this time last year, I had nearly the whole challenge written, as I was making plans to getting it published, but this year...

This year?  Not so much.  And, to be honest, I was ok with that.  I was actually a little relieved.  But then I got a little anxious because I thought (silly thing to do, I know) well then, what will I do God?  What's next?  I'm sure I don't have to tell you where those thoughts tried to take me until I lassoed them in and told them to STOP and SHUT UP!

So....I went back to the basics.

I had done Bible reading plans in the past, but in the last few years whenever I attempted to start, because I have this issue with words taking over, I would get stuck on one word and before I knew it the snow would be melting and I was still stuck on the assignment for January 5th!  So, I gave up trying to stick to a "Read Your Bible in a Year Plan."  (Don't get me wrong, there were several years I stuck to the plans, but then I got a little too nosey for my own good and had to dig deeper.  So very thankful for all the vehicles God used as shovels - women's Bible studies, Bible Study Fellowship just to name a couple you might check into for yourself.  But I must warn you, you'll never look at the Bible the same once you dig below the surface of the Sunday School story).

But I digress.

This year, because there wasn't anything going on in my brain (be nice!), I started a Bible reading plan on January 1st.  I choose a 90 day plan.  It's a lot of reading, I know, but there wasn't anything else going on so I'm committed to finishing it in 90 days, well, maybe 100 days, or a year.  Because...

I have already come into a familiar problem.

The word juices started flowing.  And they aren't  just single words either, but phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and circumstances started jumping off the page as if I was reading them for the first time.

Even though the brain was starting to get back into gear, I still wasn't planning on participating in the challenge. (And God laughed and laughed and laughed).  But as I started chiseling away at my 90 day goal, questions started to enter my mind.  New questions.  New insights.  Things I had not seen before even though I had read and studied what I was reading on several occasions.

The word gears really started to turn while reading about the soap opera Jacob, Leah and Rachel found themselves in.  I heard myself say, "Let me get this straight," in regards to trying to sort out which Mom gave birth to which kid, which baby momma slept with baby daddy Jacob.

I had to pull out my notebook and start sorting out on paper what I was reading in the HOLY bible.  (The shenanigans these folks were participating in were far from HOLY, let me tell you).

So those first notes became more notes and pretty soon a picture was forming in my mind, words were coming to life, and before I knew it, as in the past three years, I was writing the alphabet down the side of a page from my journal and filling in the spaces.  It was easy for twelve of the letters (hint, hint), a little more challenging for some others, but God has already taken care of that and I even have my Q and X word!

So my theme for for the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge will be called (drum roll please):

The Testings and (dis)Trusting of the Twelve Tribes of Israel

It's going to be fun.  It's going to be heart wrenching.  It's going to be on the edge of your seat exciting.  (Well...maybe all those.  Who knows?  Oh wait, God knows.  He'll give you what He wants you to get out of what He's shown me that will somehow get translated to you in an entirely different way then I imagined but....whatever He wants.  I'm just the word wrestler).

So buckle your seat belts, come back each day in April, except Sundays, starting April 1st.  I hope we learn together how a Holy God uses unholy people and circumstances, and certainly unholy behaviors, to bring about His perfect plan of salvation while comforting you with the assurance that no matter what you've done or will do, you are His and He loves you.  I've found a whole group of bucket heads to compare yourself to.   If you think you've done some bad stuff, believe me, you ain't seen nothing yet!  You'll meet your new friends in April.

So fix your hair.  Or not.

Put on your Sunday best.  Or not.  Believe me, you'll see some straw stuck to some hair and some wrinkled clothes when you come here in April.

I'll be introducing you to some of the bucket heads of the Bible.  Those who are good, bad, selfish, generous, depressed, joyful.... all rolled into a bunch of people just like me and you.  The time period is certainly different, the culture definitely is foreign to most of us, but the humanness and hunger we all have is surprisingly similar.

Because the alphabet is alphabetized the posts may be confusing, so I'll have a brief cheat sheet of  who's who if you will, towards the end of March. Hopefully that will help you keep people and events straight and you can go back to it when you read posts that are in alphabetical order but not chronological order.   

See you in April!

Peace,

Ronda


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