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Christy Catherine Marshall

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September 25, 2007

How are you? Have you had a good week so far? I’m starting to get used to this once-a-week blog routine, though I’ve enjoyed catching up with a few of you through email. Thank you so much for taking the time to write!

What a joy it is to reconnect with old friends — and new friends too! 🙂

Well, I made it to our second Beth Moore Bible study meeting — barely. I straggled in a few minutes late, so I missed the fellowship time. Our group meets upstairs from the preschool, so at least half the women in the room also have their hands full with preschoolers. As I entered the room, my mind was scattered in a million different directions.

I sat down next to our youth pastor’s wife, wondering if she would notice I had the word “X-RAY” scribbled across the back of my hand. This was to remind me NOT TO FORGET to pick up my son’s x-rays from the hospital in the 20-minute break between Bible study and the end of morning preschool. I didn’t want to have to take a 2-year-old down to radiology, but we needed those x-rays for his afternoon doctor appointment. (He dislocated his thumb playing football — not fun.)

At first, my body was there — but my mind wasn’t. But gradually, our discussion pulled me in, and I felt like a lost and thirsty traveler, stopping in for a cool drink. We talked about integrity, stemming from the week’s homework about Daniel. We learned the Latin word for “integrity” literally means “entire.” Beth Moore writes, “The lifeblood of integrity is becoming the same person no matter where we are — no matter who’s around.” We discussed how only Jesus Christ is perfect, yet we are to strive to be more like Him on a daily basis.

Our homework for week one of this study focused on Daniel being taken captive to Babylon. For the first time, I saw this from his mother’s point of view. How devastating! Her beloved teenage son was carted off 900 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with several other outstanding young Hebrew men. Babylon is modern-day Baghdad.

Loss of Identity
What shocked me while reading through the lessons is that Daniel and his fellow captives were forced to undergo a radical loss of identity. Their very names were changed — from names that glorified God to names that worshiped the false gods of Babylon.

Daniel means “God is my judge.” His name was changed to Belteshazzar, which means “Bel will protect.” Hananiah means “Yah has been gracious,” yet his name become Shadrach, meaning “inspired by Aku.” You get the picture. These precious sons of Israel were torn from their homeland, their families, and everything they believed in.

Yet Daniel becomes our hero, our inspiration! He resolves not to defile himself with the king’s food, and is allowed to do this because of his tact in approaching his superiors. The video lesson focused on Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It was so interesting to study this ancient history, learning about the rise and fall of four world empires (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman).

Modern-day Babylon
We’re surrounded by a culture that is hostile to our faith. Beth Moore’s teaching reminded us we must be like Daniel and stand strong. She encouraged us to exercise the muscle of restraint. If Daniel could say no to the king’s rich foods, what can we say no to? What pulls us away from following God? What do we struggle with?

Beth says she will give up “rich meats” during the first six weeks of the study. I wondered how I could exercise the muscle of restraint more — and I realized my major struggle is with SUGAR! I let myself get slack over the summer, and I ate like I was 16 again — which I’m NOT.

I’ve noticed how my energy drops so drastically when I eat sugar or anything processed with white flour. So this is what I’m going to work on — getting stronger in the area of eating more healthy.


Connecting Hearts

Here are the verses we’re trying to memorize during this study, Daniel 2:20-23. Beth encouraged us to write them on separate notecards and try to learn a little more each day. I’m putting these verses over my kitchen sink, where I spend a good portion of my day. Just reading these verses makes me so excited about what God is doing in my life — and in yours too. I’m praying for you!

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.




September 18, 2007

We started our new Beth Moore Bible study at church last week, and I’m so excited. At last, I’ve found a new direction for this blog, something I’ve prayed about all summer. Instead of popping in daily to chat like I’ve done the past two years, my plan now is to write a weekly devotional reflecting on what I’ve learned. I hope you’ll join the journey with me!

We’re studying Daniel. If you’ve gone through this before, what did you think? If you’d like to join me here through watching the DVD and studying on your own, that would be great. Let’s go!

********************

Looking Back
In my early 20s, I went to live in Japan to teach English. I worked for a Japanese Christian church and stayed with a Japanese family my first year there.

After living overseas for about six months, I began to wonder what my next step should be. Did God want me to spend the rest of my life in Japan, as a single career missionary and teacher? If so, why did I have such a strong desire to get married and have children? Did He want me to come home and work or go back to school?

As I began to pray deeply about this matter, a certain school came into my mind. I sent off for information about this school, a Bible college near my home state, which offered several programs for graduate students. (This is before we could research online!)

When the packet from the school arrived, I tore open the manila envelope and gazed longingly at the glossy pictures inside. Young men and women sitting under trees, Bibles open, intensely studying the Word of God. My heart beat faster thinking how wonderful it would be to delve into Hebrew and Greek, gaining a greater understanding of the Bible’s original languages. I couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than going to this school!

Yet when I looked into the cost of tuition, I didn’t see how I could pay for it. I didn’t want to ask my parents for money, and I didn’t feel like I had anything unique to offer to apply for a scholarship. I was just one of thousands of confused 20-somethings, wondering what the next step of my life should be.

So instead of applying to this Bible college, I decided to stay in Japan another year and work on saving money. I shifted my schedule around, allowing me to take on a few higher-paying teaching jobs, and I visited a Japanese university that offered an Asian studies program for foreign students.

Based on my application and interview, this school offered me a teaching assistantship so my tuition was paid for. It was an incredible opportunity. God allowed me to go to school – just like I’d prayed for! But instead of studying the Bible on an American campus, I was studying Japanese culture, art, history, and language at a university in Japan.

Taking the Next Step
By the time I felt sure God was leading me back to the U.S. I was engaged to be married in a few months (another long story.) Our first year of marriage, I attended graduate school full-time (along with my husband), and I worked two jobs to help pay for it – writing articles for the campus newspaper and working in marketing for the university publisher.

Years later, I’m at LAST able to study the Bible intensely like I’ve always dreamed of. Instead of sitting under trees on a gorgeous campus in my early 20s, I’m now in my late 30s, a busy mother and wife, studying on my kitchen table and in a classroom at church. I watch my teacher on video, a dynamic Texan woman who makes me laugh and cry with her powerful testimony.

Instead of serving God on an overseas mission field, here I am, blogging away. Some of you are reading this on a computer thousands of miles from me. Hello! Bonjour! Konnichiwa! Guten Tag! Within the walls of my own home, I have five little souls who hear me share the excitement daily. Lord willing, I want to raise a new generation of Daniels!

Everyone says you get out of Bible study what you put into it. This would be a very shallow experience if I only went to the meetings, sat through the videos, then did nothing on my own. What makes this study so rich is the one-on-one time I spend with the Holy Spirit, as I encounter Him, my Teacher, in my individual devotional time.

In the introduction to Daniel, Beth Moore says, “If The Patriarchs was a camel ride, this one … is a rocket ride — with the windows open.” She later writes, “The wind of the Holy Spirit blows so hard through some of these scriptures, you may have to re-fix your hair.”

Ready to Blast Off!
Years and years have gone by since I first prayed, “Lord, please open the doors for me to study Your Word!” The past decade I’ve spent bearing and nursing children has consumed me and kept me so physically exhausted, I’ve had to prop my eyelids open to study.

And to be honest, I’ve never made it through a whole Beth Moore study intact – I’ve always gotten overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life, sick children who’ve kept me at home and away from the fellowship, and distractions.

Will you pray for me? I’m starting out with such dreams of completing all the homework and attending every session for the next 12 weeks. My life is so hectic right now — yet I don’t want to give up on this!

Connecting Hearts
What are you going through now? Are you able to get some Bible study in, somehow, someway? Ask God to open up your schedule so that you can. You’ll impact every person who comes into contact with you. This is truly exciting!


Lord, as moms, we’re busy women. We’re tired! We can’t get up early like we want to because we were up late last night feeding the baby or nursing the sick. We wake up in the morning and face mountains of laundry and piles of dishes. Our to-do list includes everything but spending time with you. Help us, Lord! Give us energy and time. Deepen our joy and longing to spend time with you. Amen.