Year of the Bible

Our church ( has decided that 2016 is the Year of¬†the Bible. What does that mean exactly? It means that everyone is going to be reading through the entire Bible in 2016. And everything–sermons, life groups, Little Life, Kid Life and youth–everything revolves around the reading.

I’m incredibly excited about it all. And I’m incredibly excited that I get to be a small part of helping families do this together.

And, if I’m honest, I’m more than a little bit daunted by the task. What do I mean? I’m a mom of two young kids. Finding 45 minutes to an hour for extra reading every day…well it can seem less than possible. (I’m currently writing this post while my 3 yr old sleeps on my shoulder ūüôā )

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And, if I want my family doing this together… well I’ve got to be creative. Right? My three year old can’t exactly read through Leviticus with me, right?

Which brings me to my topic for today. How in the world does a family read through the Bible together?

Being a parent is hard. It’s exhausting¬†on the good days and it can seem down right impossible on the bad days. If you’re anything like me, you wrestle with a lot of guilt associated with your parenting. Am I disciplining them correctly? Do they have the right car seat? Is this pediatrician best? Should I have made them keep taking piano lessons?

And, when it comes to spiritual things, I think a lot of us struggle to know where to begin. I know I do.



You see, one of the challenges of parenting is that we major in the mundane. And it can be hard for us to feel like we are instilling anything terribly important.

And now we’re being asked to read the entire Bible this year and to do it as family. And for many of us that seems just intimidating enough that we don’t even want to start.

And this is where I want to meet you today. Over the next year we are going to be throwing lots of great family ideas your way. We’re going to be giving you suggestions and we’re going to be letting other families show you how it’s going for them.

But I’d like to back it up and keep it simple today.

Here’s what I want you to know: There is beauty in the mundane and you can do this. Your child can do this.

It’s going to take time.¬†It’s going to start a little messy and uncomfortable. But you can do this. We can do this.

One of the best things you or I can do for our children is to actively pursue our own relationship with God, and let our children watch us do it.

So, in the month of January, I’m going to give us¬†one job. The hardest thing about this goal is establishing the habit. So this month, we¬†(as parents) need to establish this habit of being in the word. Being diligent.

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is:¬†How does this fit into my family life?¬† Choose a time that you know you can keep. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning, maybe it’s at night before bed or during nap times. It may mean waking up earlier or turning off the T.V. Maybe you need to find audio recording of some books to listen to when you’re driving or working out.¬†Find whatever works.

Establish the habit.

With one special instruction: Let’s do this in a way that our children can see. It would be easy for us to do our reading when our children aren’t around to distract us. And we do need those times.

But our children cannot ask about something they don’t see. And we can’t expect them to develop a habit we don’t show them first.

So, January is all about us establishing the habit. But with our children in mind.

Want to go further? 

  • Blessings.¬†Each week, choose a few verses to use as a blessing over your children. Pray it over them at bedtime or before school. Tell them where you found it.
  • Let them read with you!¬†For older children and youth, consider having them start this habit with you. They probably can’t read it all, but they can definitely do a part. Whether it’s the Old or New Testament, Psalm or Proverb, lead them to start a small piece. In the coming weeks, we will be point you to some great resources for your kids. If you are at a New Life Church campus, talk to your kid’s pastors. They’re going to have some great suggestions.

Friends, I think we can all do this. And I’m going to put my own family on the hook. The O’Brien family is all in. We’re eager and excited. I don’t expect it to go beautifully every time. In fact, I expect it will be a little rocky. But we are committing to do this as a family and to let you see it. Which means we will be posting the good, the bad, and the ugly throughout the year at #yearofthebible

And we’d love for families from every campus to join us. Let us see how it’s working for you. And let us be encouraged by your diligence even when it doesn’t go well.

At the end of this year, our children may not be Bible experts. But my prayer is that they will know without a shadow of a doubt that the Bible is life-changing. That it’s worth reading for a lifetime.

So, dow does a family read through the Bible together? We just do it.

And we trust the Holy Spirit to take care of the rest.

(For more information about resources throughout the year:

I need your help!

So I’ve had a hard time writing lately. Why? Well, I honestly don’t feel as if I have much to say. Which is a problem. Not so much for my faithful blog readers (whoever you may be… if you even exist), but for my professional readers. You see most of you know that Brandon writes and edits for a living. Although he hopes one day to be a full time professor, right now he finds great opportunities to write. I mean, he’s not even 30 (that’s right, we’re very, very young) and is working on his second book. He’s good. I mean, I’m totally biased, but he’s really good! (Seriously, ask his mom…)

So what does this have to do with me? Well what many of you don’t know is that I write too. Now, compared to Brandon what I do looks like child’s play… but that works for me, since I primarily write about children.

Okay, so now you’re wondering why I need your help. Well, right now I am working on a project on ministering to Children of Divorce. And I would love to know your thoughts. I am married to a child of divorce, have many friends who are the adult children of divorce and I am daily overwhelmed by stories of children who are journeying through this painful experience.

So that’s where you come in. I would love to hear your stories. Are you a child of divorced parents? What was your experience like at school, at church, at home? What did you find the hardest part of this whole journey? Maybe you are a parent or an aunt or an uncle in this situation. I would love to know your experience as well. Pretty soon I’m going to be having a round table discussion with some friends whose parents divorced when they were young. I’m looking forward to hearing from them. And I especially would like to know how your faith community handled this. What was your experience at church?

Basically, if you would trust me with it, I would love to know your story. And I know these stories might be somewhat personal, so feel free to email me by filling out the form below. Don’t worry, others wont see your story, just me. ¬†

Thank you! And I really do plan to write more regularly soon… I’ve missed my blogging world.


Longing for a person I don’t yet know…

Dear friends,

Lately we have been longing especially hard for our child. We’ve embarked on many projects… cleaning and sorting every space in our house, reading through and learning to practice Celebration of Discipline… but none of these has replaced the deep longing we both have in our hearts to meet and especially to hold our child.

I found myself earlier tonight (without even thinking) making childcare plans for a fancy dinner we have in October… it struck me, as it has so many other times, that I am a woman who is waiting and who doesn’t quite know when that time will end.

This morning at church I had several wonderful and sweet interactions with our covenant children. And as one especially beloved infant grabbed my finger, I felt in my heart the desire to take this child home. However, this wasn’t a desire felt in pain, but in joy. I am blessed to work with so many wonderful children… to shepherd so many joyous and energetic souls… these children remind me each week the joy that I am anticipating. They remind me each week of the privilege, honor and responsibility that will soon be ours as parents. And as Thomas Smoak spoke to us this morning, these children reveal Christ to me in ways I would not have known. And I am thankful for them.

And even when these children struggle to listen or say words they shouldn’t or run from the room unexpectedly (yes, even at Immanuel)… they remind me that parenting isn’t easy. I will struggle, I will even want to pull my hair out at times. And even in these “disobedient” times, they reveal Christ to me in ways I would not have known.

And I just love them.

As I sit on my couch, pajamas on and face washed (yes, I know it’s only 7:15), planning for the week ahead, my heart hopes that this is the week we get that very special call. And it aches.

But ultimately I sit in hope. Because I am surrounded by people (young and old, big and small) who have shown Christ to me in so many ways… I am married to a man who loves me when I am unlovable… I am privileged to shepherd so many wonderful children… I am a daughter, sister, friend and cousin to family I wouldn’t trade… and I am a mother in waiting.

Brandon and I are so thankful for the many, many friends & family who have walked this road with us and we thank you for your prayers as we continue to go a little farther. When we began trying to start a family more than 3 years ago, we never would have imagined being here now. And it is only because of the people who have journeyed with us that we have made it this far. You have each revealed Christ to us in ways we would not have known and for that we thank you.

And we once again humbly ask for your prayer. But more than that, we ask you to continue to walk with us so that we might continue to see Christ in you. Thank you for your testimony of God’s great grace.

Blessings on you this week!