Monday, October 28, 2013

Fellow Citizens With The Saints

...and members of the household of God...

In addition to copying Genesis, right now I'm also copying Psalms and Ephesians. Rather than work my way straight through the Bible, I'm doing multiple books at once, and simply working beginning to end in each book. And, this week, I've been particularly grateful that I'm working through Ephesians.

As I've already mentioned, this project is bigger than I ever anticipated. When I decided to do this, I thought it would just be me, on my own, blogging about the journey so that I could process what was happening. When other people decided to join in, whether they're copying the whole Bible, a book or two, or a single chapter, it was clear to me that God was taking this project out of my hands and making it his own.

Hearing that some of you are joining in has been thrilling. And hearing firsthand from a friend who's copied two books so far about what the experience has meant to her, personally, was incredible. I am awed and humbled, waiting to see what God has in store.

However, I also spent the end of last week feeling pretty down. Nothing specific happened. There was no terrible news or tragic incident. I just felt weary, and tired, and dark. I confided in some friends that I felt like there was a spiritual battle being fought over me, and I had a day or two that were just not fun at all. And they, being the great friends they are, immediately told me they would be praying for me.

Which brings me to Ephesians. I'm nearly finished copying it, and it has spoken volumes to me about not only who I am in Christ, but also to the unity that we have, all Christians, "as members of the household of God".

"For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." - Ephesians 2:18-22

It's times like last week that make me so grateful that I am surrounded by millions--billions, even--of people whose utmost purpose is the furthering of the kingdom of God. When I'm feeling burdened, I have 66 books full of my history and identity as a Christian, and I have a world full of people who are working with me, who are of the same mind, and who will drop anything at a moment's notice and claim God's promises for me.

That had never really clicked with me before, and let me tell you something:

There's nothing quite like realizing just how big God is--not only in heaven, but also on earth--to make any trouble seem completely minute.

So, I'm writing today to thank those of you who are praying over this venture, to encourage those of you who are accompanying me on it, and to tell those of you who might be feeling low today that, in Christ, you are loved, protected, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

So own it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"What is this that you have done?"


I feel like this project is already significantly bigger than I anticipated. After my last post, I shared my blog on Facebook, and my sister ended up sharing it, too. That night, it got 131 views. I've heard from several people already that they want to attempt to join in on this project, too - my sister included. How incredible is that? We could be starting a movement of hand-written Bibles, here!

So I just wanted to say thanks to anyone who's keeping up with this, and good luck to anyone who wants to join in! Don't feel like you have to do it in a year. This is a really absurd goal that I've chosen, and while I feel like it's right for me, it definitely isn't going to work for everyone. So write a chapter a week. Or one chapter a month. I don't care.

The one thing I ask is that you consider this prayerfully before taking it on. I didn't choose to do this because I thought it would be a neat art project, or even because it will make an awesome family heirloom when I'm ninety. Both are true, however, my ultimate goal in this is to awaken to the greatness of our God in a way previously unknown to me.

And, so far, I would say that has been successful.

There's nothing like slowing down and hand-writing something to make me admire the beauty of it. Especially growing up in church, there are parts of the Bible that just become commonplace. And that's so sad, because the writing really is so beautiful.

Through this endeavor, the story of creation has already been revealed to me in a way I never really got before. It is strikingly beautiful. There's this verse, Genesis 2:6, that's stuck with me since I copied it, particularly on these foggy mornings we've been having lately.

"and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground"

It brings to mind this sort of breath-taking stillness and peace. It's poetic, and lovely, and I am so glad that I've slowed down enough to really see it.

Another thing that has struck me so far is also from Genesis. I've only copied down four chapters from Genesis at this point. We're still right in the beginning. But already, God has asked people not once, but twice, "What have you done?"

First, he asks Eve in the garden. "What is this that you have done?" (Genesis 2:13), and then again, he asks Cain after he kills Abel, "What have you done?" (Genesis 4:10, which is actually another really powerful string of words. "And the LORD said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground.'"  The emphasis is mine, but talk about impact.)

So, here we are, the very beginnings of humanity. Have you ever had a moment with someone where something happens, something terrible, and you are just beside yourself, feeling hurt and confused and horrified by what has happened? I feel like that's how God was feeling both times he asked this question. I can practically hear the hurt in his voice, asking "What have you done?"

I'm curious to see how many more times he asks us this throughout the course of the Bible. And, interestingly enough, the first thought that came to mind after reading this was Jesus on the cross, saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). 

How often do we do things that leave God just astounded at our lack of obedience? I can tell you that, for me, it's probably more often than I'd like to think about. 

I'm excited to see that God is already teaching me through this, and I'm anxious (in the best way possible) to see what comes next!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Let There Be Light

My adventure has been on hold for the past few days because I managed, on the very first day, to hit a bit of a roadblock.

See, I can't write straight to save my life. And when I decided to do this, and decided that I wanted to hand-bind the books, it meant I couldn't use normal lined paper, because of the way that I have to fold it to put the book together. But it's important to me that this look nice. I want this to be something that I can cherish for a lifetime, not something that I'm going to open up and think, "I really need to work on my penmanship."

But, I figured it was fine. My plan was to very lightly line each page in pencil, so that I could use the lines to guide my writing and then go back and erase them later. Which is a grand idea. Except that I got exactly eight verses into Genesis before realizing that this was a completely unworkable situation. 

As if hand copying the Bible doesn't take long enough, measuring and precisely lining each individual page takes about six times longer. If I wanted to meet my goal of finishing in a year, I either had to quit my job and spend every waking moment lining my paper, or I needed a new plan.

Enter my makeshift light box:

After some trial and error, I finally bought a clear plastic storage bin and four cheap touch lights and threw them together. The result? A solution to my problem.

Instead of lining each page, I lined one plain sheet of paper with Sharpie, taped it to the box, turned on the lights, and suddenly I have guidelines for my paper. It also means I don't have to go back and erase the penciled-on lines later. Two birds, one stone.

So, with that problem out of the way, I'm actually ready to get going on this, now. I'm thrilled to see what's in store as I move forward.

In fact, a friend of mine is so inspired, she's decided to do the same thing. She's joining me in this ambitious venture to hand copy the Bible. She also had the brilliant idea of printing horizontal lines on her paper with her printer. Clearly, she's the more logical of the two of us.

So, there you have it. A short, technical update before I get into the real meat of the project. 

And now, I'm off to go do some more writing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In The Beginning

I love beginnings.

The first sunny day in spring. The first time at a new restaurant. The first whiff of a book as you thumb through the pages. In the beginning, everything is new. Exciting. Full of wonder and expectation and just a touch of nervousness.

That's how I'm feeling today. When I got home from work, waiting for me at my door was a package (which is its own kind of excitement). This package was special because it contained paper. Very special paper, for a very special project. See, with this paper, I am undertaking quite possibly the biggest project of my life thus far.

But before I get into that, let me tell you a little about myself.

I am a writer. I eat, sleep and breathe words. Words create and destroy, and bring joy and sorrow. They are powerful and beautiful and clear and love them.

I am also a Christian. I am constantly being changed, shaped and made new by my creator, and I am learning, slowly, to revel in it. He is the author of the universe; the writer I could never even dream of becoming. And I love him all the more for it.

What I am not, however, is good at finishing my own novel.

I have been working on the same story, with tweaks major and minor, since 2008. I have taken it to two writer's conferences, met with multiple literary agents and publishers, received requests from most of them, and have still managed to not finish it, regardless of what goals or motivations I set before myself.

So, imagine the dismay I have felt; knowing that God has gifted me in writing, feeling like he has called me to write, and seeming incapable of completing the only writing project (aside from assignments) I've had for five years.

Which brings me to this blog. About a week ago, I had the sudden urge to write the Bible. And by "sudden urge to write the Bible", I mean I have never felt so strongly about writing anything in my life. Ever. So, I've taken this as literal divine inspiration, and I'm going to do it.

Let me say that again:

I decided one day that I was going to write out the Bible. Word for word. By hand.

I feel strongly that this satisfies a couple desires for me.
First: I am at a point in my novel where I feel helplessly stuck. I haven't written a word in months, and it's killing me. So, this will get me writing again without feeling like I'm dropping my novel to start a new story. In case you were wondering, this also doesn't mean I'll never come back to my own book. I might, after this. Maybe with renewed enthusiasm, even. But for now, it's on hold.
Second: I have always felt that there has been something missing during my quiet time with God. I don't know if it's that creative streak in me feeling unsatisfied with simply reading and journaling and praying, or if it has been the Holy Spirit trying to make me have this idea for years. Either way, I've found it difficult to read my Bible and feel like I was connecting with it in a way that is real for me. Now, I will say that lately, I feel as if that's changed. God is speaking to me through his Word in a way I haven't noticed before, and it's wonderful. But I think this is going to be even better.

My goal, lord willing, is that I finish in a year. Now, I don't know if you've ever looked up "hand writing the Bible" online, but I did. There's not a whole lot there. What I did find was a couple articles about a man who made a handwritten and illuminated Bible, which took 12 years, another man who did it in seven years, a video of a sweet old woman who did it over about 16 years, and a blog post by a man who did it in a year and a half.

So, my God either has incredible confidence in me to put one year in my head, or I am utterly stupid. I'm hoping it's the former.

Because I'm right-brained and have to be creative, I will also be hand-binding each book of the Bible, separately. So, when I've finished, I will have 66 volumes, all hand written and hand bound. I'm already trying to figure out where to keep them.

So there you have it! This is my wild journey with God for the next year, which I felt like I should blog about because I love writing (clearly), and I figure I'll be so sick of hand writing that I'll want to type for awhile. Weird, right?

I'm anticipating that I'll be blessed by my venture, probably in ways I can't even imagine right now. And, I'm hoping, if you're following along with me, maybe you'll be blessed, too?