Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts

The Gifts I Bought Myself


It has been years since I've been Black Friday shopping.  I think some of the magic was lost for me when they started opening Black Friday doors on Thursday.  Come on, people.

However, this year I took advantage of Black Friday shopping when a friend invited me to go with her - I wasn't even expecting to buy much, but I ended up getting all my Christmas shopping done.  I forgot how freeing it is to get your shopping done early!  The rest of December is wide open now! I am looking forward to having more time to do Christmas projects with the kids and less time worrying about presents.

However, I may have also bought myself a Christmas gift on Black Friday.  I laughed when I read Elizabeth's post about buying a gift for yourself, because I totally do that.  This is what I got:



1. Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd.  

I read No Little Women by Aimee Byrd last year, and it was excellent.  I have been looking for a chance to buy another book from her, and Amazon's book coupon seemed to be it!  I'm really looking forward to this one - I love books that make theology accessible, and also that encourage Christian women toward good theology.  I'm expecting good things.




I cam across this after a similar recommendation from Jami Balmet's blog (or Facebook page or something), and I have to say I'm so excited about this one.  It arrived in the mail today, and I flipped through it - it is perfect!  On the left page it has the actual text of Hebrews, and on the right page it has a blank dot-grid page for you to use for journaling, or whatever.  

I know Bible art journaling has been going on for years, but after mulling it over for a long time, I decided I'm not a huge fan - I don't like how the illustrations so often go over the text of Scripture, and how the focus often seems to be on the art instead of the Word of God.  I'm sure it can be done well with a heart to bring glory to the Lord, so if you do Bible art journaling and have found a good balance, I think that's great - it's just not something I'm interested in.  However, there has been something appealing to me about those wide margins, because I'd love to take more thorough notes when I'm reading through a book of the Bible.  

This little volume is perfect for that; I can focus on one specific book and write down everything I'm learning with a full blank page!  I am so looking forward to using it!  I chose Hebrews, because I've become a little attached to that particular book after trying so hard to memorize it (I'm only shakily up to chapter 4).  I'd like to renew my memorization attempt in 2019, and I think this will help.





Do you buy Christmas gifts for yourself?  What did you get?

(No need for it to be spiritual, I also bought myself a new lipstick today for the Christmas season, ha!)

When It's Right To "Judge" A Fellow Christian



We went back to our community Bible study group this week, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to get together with other believers and study from God's word.  It's been far too long since I've been involved in a Bible study like this, and I'm reminded of that verse about "iron sharpening iron" (Proverbs 27:17).  The discussion time challenges me to think a little more carefully about different biblical topics.

This week the theme that stood out to me was "judging".  We talked about it in Bible study, and then I read this article that brought it to mind again (written from a Catholic perspective, so I don't agree with some things he says, but the underlying point made me think).  

I have thoughts.


Unlocking The Bible (A Review)


(Affiliate link below.)

Finally, a great book I can recommend!  I requested Unlocking The Bible by Jeff Lasseigne a couple months ago. The name "Unlocking The Bible" is a little misleading, because it almost presents the Bible as inaccessible without "unlocking" - but on the contrary, this book is a wonderful resource to help readers realize that anyone can read and understand God's Word.

The first couple chapters talk about the way the Bible was put together, and what qualified different books to be included in the Bible.  I thought this was really interesting.  I think there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about how we came to have the Bible we can hold today, and these chapters explained why we can have confidence in the Bible as the inspired word of God.

The next two chapters give a timeline of the Bible, from Genesis to the writing of Revelation.  I've read through the Bible several times, but I really liked this condensed version of the story to give a bigger picture.  The part I liked best was the historical details that the author included, placing biblical event sin historical context.

Finally Lasseigne gives tips on how to study the Bible, and how to teach the Bible, along with an entire section with a summary and quotes about each book of the Bible.  I thought these sections were a great encouragement and resource!

This book is sound, and the author holds the Bible in high esteem - and I think this is something we need more of, even within the church today.  I highly recommend this book!  It was readable, but full of information and encouragement to dig into God's Word!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

Becoming A Woman Of Excellence (A Review)


Earlier this summer I wrote about how I wanted to pick up a Bible study guide to use in my personal devotion time this summer.  I was happy to have a chance to review "Becoming A Woman Of Excellence" by Cynthia Heald.  I have heard of this Bible study in the past and was curious to pick it up again.

One thing I really appreciate about this Bible study is that it doesn't do all the work for you.  It is full of scripture verses to look up, and the questions make you think a little more deeply about the passage and applying it to your own life.  As part of the 30th Anniversary Edition, Heard also includes "Thoughts From An Older Woman" at the end of each chapter, writing about things she has learned since she first published this study 30 years ago.  I really loved how this study got you deep into God's word.

What I didn't love about this study - the organization was a little confusing to me.  I think this might be partially because I didn't use it every day, so maybe I forgot some of the ties between chapters.  I am still working through it going into the fall (about half way through), and I am looking forward to finishing it and seeing if it starts to fit together better for me.  The scripture verses Heald chooses seem to follow this kind of scattered organization, as she picks short passages or single verses to make some of her points.  I miss getting the full context of a passage, and I think I would like it better if each chapter focused on one Scripture passage and pulled points out of that passage, instead of listing Scripture verses that support her own topics or points.

All that said, this really is a good study, and I think it is one that is flexible enough to be good for those who want a lighter study, while also providing that springboard for depth that others might want.  I'm looking forward to finishing it (I'll update this review if I change my mind about anything by the end)!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

How Important Is It To Teach Your Kids The Books Of The Bible?




When did you learn the books of the Bible?

I am willing to bet that most adults who have the books of the Bible memorized learned them as a kid.  Kids are such sponges! It's so much easier to memorize lists of information like that as children.

I think I was probably four or five years old when I learned the books of the Old Testament.  I went to VBS at a little mountain church, and there was a teenage girl there with an acoustic guitar and long brown hair who sang the Bible books song every day.  I have no idea who she was, but I can still almost see her in my mind.  I hope wherever she is, the Lord blesses her for her service at that VBS, because it has served me well to have the books of the Bible memorized, and it all started with that song.


Three Questions I Ask Before Choosing A Bible Study (Grit + Grace)



I have been struggling a bit in my devotion time this year.

Last year I used a reading plan to read through the Bible in one year - and it was great!  I really enjoyed getting the big picture of the whole Bible, especially because I read in order of historical chronology.

But I didn't really want to do that again this year.  Mainly because I can't ever seem to manage to get up more than five minutes before my kids, which leads to me rushing through my Bible reading, especially when I have multiple chapters to read.  This year I wanted to slow down and really study each chapter that I was reading, just for a change of pace.

The problem with not having a plan is that...well, you don't have a plan.

Bible Verses For New Moms



If there is one thing I have learned about motherhood, it's that we all transition into it differently.  Some sail into motherhood on a cloud.  Everything comes easily, and they enjoy every minute of it.  Others crash into motherhood with a rude awakening, and it looks nothing like they thought it would.

But every mom I know would say how much she loves being a mom, and one look into those precious little faces just puts everything into perspective, no matter the entrance into this mothering journey.

Still, I can guarantee there will come a time when you need some encouragement as a mom.  Maybe it's right away when you just need to make it through one more sleepless night, or maybe it will be a couple years down the road when you have a rough day and worry you are messing your kids up.  Sometimes you just need that extra boost to remind you that the work you are doing has significance.  Every ounce of energy you put into you kids matters, more than you think.  It matters to your kids, and it matters to God.



So to help remind you, I wanted to share some Bible verses that I find encouraging on those days when mothering is hard.  If you are in a rough patch, I hope these will bring you some hope!  And if you are feeling like you have this mom thing down, just tuck this post away for a time when it doesn't feel so easy.



I have broken these down into times of day - I know I need different reminders in the morning than I do in the evening.  Memorize these verses so you can bring them to mind when you need them (you can even teach them to your kids while you are at it)!


For The Morning

"The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

I love this verse for rough days, because it reminds me that no matter how badly I mess up, the Lord loves me and tomorrow is a fresh day.


"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

The best wake-up verse you could ask for!


"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are."  1 John 3:1

When you look at the cute little faces of your children, remember that the Lord loves you even more than you love them!


For Mid-Day

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as a reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ."   Colossians 3:23-24

Motivation to keep going strong - because when we are serving our families, we are really serving Jesus!


For The Evening

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Philippians 2:14-15

When you are starting to feel "the witching hour" (i.e. the hour before dad gets home when everyone goes crazy), remember this verse.  I don't know about you, but I want to be a light in the world, and be an example to my kids by not grumbling when I feel like it.  Still working on this one.


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoicing usually comes more naturally in the morning when I am refreshed and energetic!  I typically need the reminders to rejoice and give thanks more in the evening, when I am tired.


For The Middle Of The Night

"When you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:3-4

This verse is about giving to the poor, but the concept of being seen by God when we give sacrificially without drawing attention to ourselves is also encouraging to me as a mom.  

"May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."  Ruth 2:12

My prayer for you, friends!  Seek refuge in Him, be faithful in this work of loving and training your children, and may the Lord reward your work!


Somehow I find it easier to remember a verse if it is printed on a pretty card, and I am excited to now be offering these printables in my new Etsy shop!  The file with the entire set is only $3!  Please check them out here. These cards also stack well with my printable verses for labor.

I am so grateful for all of you who take time to read my musings, and I hope you enjoy these cards and find the verses an encouragement like I do! Enjoy!







Please note that these printables were previously offered as a gift to my newsletter subscribers before being listed on Etsy.  They are no longer available as free printables, but are available for immediate download after purchase at the link above.  Thank you!

Why Picking A Word Was Hard This Year




Am I the only one who gets my best ideas while I am falling asleep?

I heard there is a scientific component to it.  All day your brain is gathering information and recording your life, but it doesn't have time to process everything and solve problems until you give it a chance to rest.  So right as you are drifting off to sleep you brain starts to put it all together, and you think of your best ideas.

On the night of December 30th I stayed up far too late, scrolling through my social media feeds.  I read so many inspiring posts from people about their words for the year, and why they chose them.  I had been trying to think of my own word for 2016 for the last couple weeks, and the last two days of December are crunch time.  I was processing, I was reflecting, I picked and subsequently threw out five different words.  Finally it was all too much, and I just put the phone down, and closed my eyes.  I prayed again for some direction on my word for the year, and started to feel my thoughts fade.

Psalm 113 Printable Bible Verse Cards

Psalm 113 Printable Bible Verse Cards | Through Clouded Glass


People don't give presents for Thanksgiving.  I guess that is because we are typically focusing more on what we have already received instead of what we are going to receive.

But I'm going to change things up a bit and give a little present to my newsletter subscribers anyway! 

I have been wanting to memorize more Bible verses (though it's been challenging to follow through with how busy things have been the last couple months!), and I think it is so much easier to memorize verses if they are printed in a pretty way.


10 Thanksgiving Bible Verses





Bible Verses For Thanksgiving | Through Clouded Glass


This year we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house.  I am not one of those mini Martha Stewarts that has a grand plan for place settings and gourmet-type Thanksgiving dishes.  But my sister-in-law told me long ago that hosting Thanksgiving can be easy, because you just cook the turkey and have guests bring the sides.  I am taking her sage advice, and we are keeping things simple.  If I get the urge, I may buy some cloth napkins for our Thanksgiving table.  This is the extent of the "fancy" around here.

I want to keep Thanksgiving simple this year, because I want to spend less time stressing about getting a huge meal prepared, and more time enjoying our family and focusing on our gratitude for the blessing God has given us!  So one thing I would love to do over the days leading up to Thanksgiving is teach my kids some Bible verses that have to do with giving thanks.  


Why Moms Should Memorize Bible Verses


Printable Bible Verse Cards | Why Moms Should Memorize Bible Verses | Need some encouragement to memorize more Bible verses?  This site has encouragement plus PRINTABLE BIBLE VERSE CARDS to get you started!


I remember the first time we pulled up to the church that looked like something out of a storybook.  Painted white with green trim, steeple with a bell, a merry-go-'round and swing set out back.  I stepped out of the car somewhat nervously, trailed behind my family on the way in the door, and sat next to my sister as I smoothed out my yellow floral Easter dress.


On Busyness And Bible Time (+ Giveaway!)


Sometimes I get to the end of the day, and I feel like absolutely nothing was accomplished, even though I was literally running myself ragged all day.

I am not sure how it is physically possible to be busy all day and still feel like I didn't do anything.  I think there is a serious lack of rest in many of our lives, and I am no exception.  I just did a Bible study at my church that was all about taking time to rest each day, because often God will work in our lives if we will just take a breather and slow down!  I was definitely convicted, and I'm hoping to share more of my thoughts on rest in future posts.

Another problem with not taking time to slow down is that when I get too caught up in the busy, it is easy to let time with the Lord fall by the wayside - and that is not okay with me.  I want to make sure I am being a good example to my kids, and I also cannot adequately pour into my kids when I am not taking that time to be filled up with His Word.


Noah's Ark Activity Ideas

Do you ever have a hard time coming up with activities to do with your kids?  I know my kids love doing anything out of the ordinary, especially craft or theme related activities.  I feel bad for them because I am not super-creative when it comes to coming up with special things to do with my kids.  On the one hand, this has made them great at independent play.  On the other hand, I think they deserve some organized or planned activities every once in a while.

The other week I was having an especially good day, and while the kids were napping I put together a little activity plan.

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First we sat down and read the story of Noah’s ark - which is always a favorite for my kiddos, since they love animals.

After that we went outside to draw with some sidewalk chalk - Wyatt has been itching to draw on the sidewalk for a week, so he was so excited!  I started off with drawing a picture of Noah’s ark and some animals on it (elephants, giraffes, etc).  Then I told the kids to draw some animals on Noah’s ark too!  Wyatt thought this was a ton of fun and set about drawing a snake right away.  Gwen preferred to draw some flowers, and then they asked me to draw specific animals.  My art skills are not the best, but they didn’t seem to mind!

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A little bit later we came inside, and I gave them what I like to call “monkey food” - i.e.. whatever cereal/candy/nuts I happened to have in my cupboards, mixed into a bowl.  Ours consisted of Fruit Loops, pretzel sticks, and cherry flavored baking morsels.

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You could also add in some sort of Noah’s ark craft, or gather your kids stuffed animals and toys and act out the story together.

Ideally, I think it would be a ton of fun to follow up this activity with a surprise trip to the zoo!  If we ever do this again in the future I think we’ll make it into a full Noah’s Ark day and go talk about all the zoo animals that were on the ark.




And if you are like me, my blog friend Keri from Living In This Season just came out with an ebook with activity ideas for kids - I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds fun!



You can read more about it and check it out here, and I am excited to be a part of her Blog Hop/Book Launch party!  You can check out all these lovely ladies for more ideas on activities to do with your kids this summer.









Are you one of those creative people who always come up with fabulous kids' activities?  I would love to get more ideas from you - comment below!

April Lessons And A Link Up!


(See all the fun things you're missing if you don't follow me on Instagram?)

1. Mornings go better when you start with Bible time.  

I used to always do my personal devotions in the morning, but somewhere between the first child and the third, the desperate desire for sleep took over.  For the last couple years I have been letting the kids wake me up in the morning.  When I do that, I have to jump right into dressing and feeding three little people, and by the time I am finished all thoughts of finding a quiet place for morning devotions have evaporated from my mind.

I have been trying for the last month to do better about getting up before the kids come traipsing into my room in the mornings.  Even if I only beat them by fifteen minutes, I feel so much more rested and in control of the day when I start with a quiet time with the Lord.  And on the days when I succumb to temptation and hit snooze, I can tell the difference.

2. Flowers on a kitchen table bring the whole room to life.  

Why have I not been buying fresh flowers for the kitchen table for years?  I was forced into buying some flowers earlier this month, then I was given some flowers for my last day of work (that's a whole other story - I'm sure I'll be telling you all about it soon).  Between those two bouquets, there have been flowers on the table for most of the month - and I love it!  It has brought a little springtime into my life while I wait for the outside to catch up.  Pink flowers are my personal favorite, even though they don't go with my dining room colors.



3. Current country music stinks.  

I used to be a fan, I really did.  Back when all the greats were in their heyday, when they sang about family and love stories and hometowns and love of country.  But now every time I take a chance and turn the dial to a country station, all I hear about is drinking and hooking up and revenge and how some girl looks in tight jeans.  No thank you.  Let me know when country artists grow up again and use their words to portray something other than hormonal teenagers.

Scotty Mcreery, you are the one exception that I can find right now.  Stay wholesome.

4. That whole "hot coals" thing works.

Here is the verse, just in case it's been a while since you've read it.



I am not going to go into the whole story, but let's just say I felt a little wronged by someone recently (not my family, so don't think that).  So I bought them food, just because, and you should have seen how nicely I was treated after that.  Now don't go heaping coals on anyone's head expecting anything in return, because you won't always get seeming evidence of a change of heart.  But you know what you will get?  A reward from the Lord, and that is something special.  Scripture is true, guys.

P.S. I love Proverbs.


5. You can have a "midlife crisis" in your twenties.  

I always think of a midlife crisis as a time when you are having an identity crisis.  Identity crises are not always tied to aging; they can happen any time a part of your identity is threatened or removed.  I have been a little lost the last month or two, because I feel like part of who I am (dental hygienist) is no longer as certain as it has been for the past seven years.  And this is a whole post that I have in my drafts, so stay tuned.

6.  I have a book problem.

I am in the process of redecorating our room, and we bought a new bed and nightstands, which forced me to remove all the books from the "to-read" pile that had accumulated in my old nightstand.


Those are all the books I have yet to read.  And yet I still keep buying more.  And signing up for more reviews.  It's like a sickness.


7.  Springtime doesn't have to be so bad.  

Usually I am not a fan of springtime, at least not where I live.  The mountains get yucky and muddy this time of year.  Spring has always been my least favorite season.  However, this could be the year that changes my mind about springtime.  It's been gorgeous outside for most of March and April, which is highly unusual.  Despite the fact that the lack of moisture (i.e. snow) is concerning, I have to admit that I am finally starting to see the appeal of springtime.  It's pretty exciting to see God's creation come to life like it has this year, and it makes me appreciate His creativity more!



Did you learn any lessons in April?

(Also linking up my lessons with Chatting At The Sky.)

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I am so thrilled to be co-hosting the Faith and Fellowship linkup with Susannah from Simple Moments Stick!  I have been following Susannah's blog for a few years, and she now has an adorable five month old boy.  She and I also have a mutual real-life friend (hi Ashley!), and when I realized this, the song "It's A Small World After All" might have played in my mind.

It's been so fun to watch Susannah's family and blog grow as I've been following over the years, and her Faith and Fellowship linkup is one of my favorites (and one of the few that I've actually participated in since Clyde has been born!

If you have written any faith-related posts in the last week or so, this is the linkup for you!  Check it out!



Faith and Fellowship Guidelines


1.  Link up a post (not just the link to your blog) from the week that shares what the Lord's been doing in your life or speaking to you.

2.  Put the button on your blog post or blog so that others can hear about this wonderful group of Godly women.

3.  Visit as many blogs as you're able and get to know your sisters in Christ!


Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop

Your Host:

Susannah1Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

This Week's Cohost:


My name is Callie, and I blog at Through Clouded Glass about a variety of things, like pregnancy, motherhood, DIY attempts, and recipes.  However, my main goal for my blog is to share my faith in Jesus Christ through what I write and to encourage other women to focus on their impact for eternity, even through the day-to-day (and sometimes mundane sides) of life.

Last Week's Most Viewed Post:




Life on the Parsons Farm
Infertility: What to (NOT) Say



Spoons of Grace
Work: The Struggle is Real


Susannah's Blog Post Pick:


Made to Bloom
Confession of a Busy Mom


If you'd like to cohost in the future, please email Susannah at susannah.kellogg (at) gmail.com







My Simplifying Journey (So Far)

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(How I spent nap time yesterday - making a lemon pound cake from scratch, which I have never done before.  It turned out really well!)


My word for 2015 is "simplify", and truth be told, my year feels anything but simple so far.  We have had so many things happening in our family, and so many things changing, that my life feels more chaotic than it has in a long time.  However, I kind of expected that - simplifying, ironically, is not a simple process.  It takes a lot of work to get to the point where things feel more simple.  My goal is mainly to get to the end of this year and be left with a more simple existence after all my hard work of organizing and getting my act together!

At the beginning of the year I listed three areas where I wanted to improve.  So how am I doing with the areas that needed simplifying?


Belongings 

I actually feel really good about how much progress I have made with cleaning things out over the last couple months!  I have cleaned out most of the areas of my house that really needed it (closets, clothes, toys, books).  I have made at least three fairly large trips to Goodwill since the year began, and I also have been pleasantly surprised at how many books and toys I have been able to sell to local buyback stores.  I've probably made $100 on things I have been able to sell back.  The house is slowly but surely starting to feel less cluttered.

Favorite buy-back stores?  For toys, I have been able to sell a few things to Once Upon A Child.  They don't pay wonderfully well, but it's something!  For books, I have been selling to Tradesmart, and they actually do seem to pay better than a lot of book buyback stores - I have been able to use the money I have earned there for more book money, which is kind of fun!  I wish I could find one that would take my (non-designer) clothes.


Finances 

I have been doing better at not spending so much and staying within my budget, but there is definitely room for improvement.  One thing I have decided that I think will help me is to use cash more often, especially for grocery shopping.  I still use our credit card for gasoline (because it would be way too hard to take all the kids in to the gas station to pay every time), and I was doing really well at keeping track of what I was spending from my bank account for groceries…then Paypal decided to take a purchase out of my bank account randomly (what?), and my account was overdrawn, and I was slapped with a $30 fee.  Not so simple.  If I am using cash more often (and watch my Paypal payment method more carefully), I might be able to avoid this happening again.

Favorite budgeting tool?  The GoodBudget App.  It's basically the envelope system in an app, and it helps me keep track of what I'm spending (and is especially useful for the things I use the credit card to buy, like gas).


Bible Study

I have been able to stick with the She Reads Truth year-long reading plan so far, but until the last couple weeks my quiet time was still feeling stale.  But lately I have started forcing myself to get up earlier, and I have started using a journal.  I think these two things have helped me a lot!  My main problem has been focusing on prayer and Bible study when I have little kids running around, needing me in the mornings.  Waking up earlier has given me a little more time before the chaos starts, and writing in a journal has helped me focus on what I am reading a little better.

Favorite Bible study resource?  I got an inexpensive app that has the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, and there is so much wisdom in it - I have really been enjoying it, and I write the quotes that especially stand out in my journal, along with my own thoughts.


I think I am seeing slow improvements in each area, and I am starting to feel a little more organized!

What was your word of the year, or what kind of New Year's goals did you set?  How is it going?

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Appropriately, I am also on Tommy Nelson today, talking about the process of spring cleaning - especially for those of us who are sometimes lacking in motivation!  Visit the Tommy Nelson blog to check it out!

HeBrews: A Better Blend Review


Hebrews a better blend review

Last fall I started a personal study of the book of Hebrews - mostly because it was a book I just didn't really understand.  And wouldn't you know, I saw that a study called HeBrews: a Better Blend by Leah Adams was up for review!  It was perfect.

I really enjoyed this study.  Adams has split this study up into eight weeks, and she opens each chapter with a recipe and coffee recommendation, which I love!  I appreciated all of her illustrations and the way she uses Scripture to interpret Scripture.  She references many other places in the Bible for clarification of difficult concepts in Hebrews, and I really liked that.  She also had a really good variety in the types of exercises in this study, and it kept each section interesting!

She did jump around Hebrews a bit, instead of going chapter by chapter, and though I can see how she was trying to address each topic in Hebrews, I still found it a little confusing.  I am also not sure why the publisher did this, but there were two places where an "Editor's Note" was included, and it felt weird to me - like whoever the editor was, they were trying to insert their opinion into a study they didn't write.  I think the intent might have been to add a different perspective so all sides were understood, but it was awkward to me.

The one point I did not agree with the author was when she said that the passage in Romans 8 that talks about nothing being able to separate us from God's love does not include us - that we can separate ourselves from the love of God.  Her point was that we need to cling to the Lord and spend time in Bible study and prayer, but I totally disagree with her thought on that passage - "nor any other created thing" (Romans 8:39) would include us!  We are part of creation, no?  That bugged me.

Overall, Adams has a great, conversational style to her writing, and she has a way of making difficult concepts easy to understand.  Aside from the point mentioned above, I think this study is sound, and I can recommend checking it out.

Note: I received this ebook for free from Netgalley in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Simplify

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I don't think I can really explain my word for this year without recapping my word for 2014 first.
For 2014 I picked the word "invest", and I wrote about how I wanted to invest my time and energy in things that matter - particularly in people and my relationship with Jesus.

And I have to be honest, I don't think I did that great of a job.

I had all these ideas of things I wanted to do, and relationships I wanted to build, and throughout 2014 I just felt . . . busy.  There were a lot of things demanding my time and energy, so I felt like I hardly had time to really invest the way I wanted to.

When I was thinking about my 2015 word, I just kept thinking that I would like a re-do of the word "invest".  But honestly, I would probably come up with the same result.  That's when my new word came to mind.

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The reason I felt like such a failure with "invest" was because at the end of the day, I had very little left to invest.  My schedule, my house, my to-do list were so jam-sacked that I just didn't have enough extra to give - and I hate that. I hate running myself so ragged that I don't have enough of . . . me left over to spend on eternal things.

So I realized that I got things a little out of order last year.  In order to be able to invest my life in the things that will last, I need to simplify first.

In a way, I am giving myself a do-over on investing, because I want to simplify things in my life so that there is enough of a margin left to be able to invest in things that matter.

How do I simplify and better invest what God has given me?  I want this to be my year to get back to basics, and to do that, there are several areas that need simplifying.  These are a few that I am thinking of right now.


Belongings - By this, I mean my material possessions.  This seems like a really surface level thing at first glance - how can simplifying my belongings help me invest my life better?  I know myself, and I know that when my house is crazy, I can't focus.  I think if I sat down and figured out how much time I spend just taking care of all our stuff, it would probably be really depressing.  I would love to get rid of the extra things that it seems I am constantly battling, and organize the things we actually do use.  My hope is that I can think less about keeping the seen things in order, and think more about the unseen things that really matter.

Finances - I think this topic deserves a post in itself, but I have been really convicted lately that I have not been handling my finances well.  Budgeting is not something I am great at, but it's worth the work to improve, because I so want to be a good steward of the resources God has given me.

Bible Study - This past year I have not been doing well with managing my time, and in particular, finding time to spend in God's Word and prayer.  I can't adequately invest in others when I am not continually being filled up with God's grace and truth, and for that I need time every day to read my Bible and "come boldly to the throne of grace".  To do that, I may need to sacrifice some things - sleep, "me time", or something else, but I think this is more important.


I am not good at keeping things simple - I complicate things.  I make things overwhelming, and then I end up not doing the things I want to do because it's all just too stressful.  So this year, I want to simplify and refocus on unseen things.  I am not expecting to immediately feel successful, because the truth is, simplifying will take a lot of work.  I am not expecting to get to the end of 2015 and look back at a simple year.  But I am hoping that by the end of the year, I am left with a simpler existence that will allow me to have "extra".  Enough extra that the next time I choose "invest" as my word, I will already be set up to be successful.

Do you pick a word for the year?  I'd love to hear yours if you want to let me know in the comments!

Thankful For The Bible

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It is Thanksgiving week, and like everyone else, I want to focus on being thankful for all the things God has given me!  I have a couple more posts coming on the topic of being thankful, but one thing I wanted to focus on today is God's written word - the Bible.

I believe the Bible is God's Word, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Every word of Scripture is directly from God.  I feel like sometimes Christians can even get confused on the inerrancy and all-sufficiency of the Bible (which is another topic, for another post).  But over the last few months I have been thinking a lot about the Bible, and what a blessing it is.  God gave us this manual for our lives, and everything we need to know for life is in there.  It is also through the Bible that we are able to know about Jesus and come to know Him personally!  All are reasons why this book is precious.

One thing that amazes me about God's Word is how deep it is - I could study it for a hundred years and still learn new things.  I've been learning that lately as I am continuing to study and memorize Hebrews.  I never realized how much about Hebrews I didn't know, and it makes me wonder what I'm missing in other books of the Bible as well!

All that to say, a love and thankfulness for God's Word is something that I want to impress upon my kids.  I think there are a few keys to doing that.


1.  You have to read it yourself, and let them see you reading the Bible.  This is something I need to get better at, because my kids are not going to realize the Bible is important if they don't see me reading it!

2.  Read the Bible to them regularly.  We have mostly been doing storybook Bibles with our kids, but I want to start reading them chapters.  I think it will be good practice for them at listening, and once again, I want them to realize how important God's word is.

3. Talk about how blessed we are to have God's Word any time we need it.  God really did think of everything.  We don't need to sit around, wondering what God thinks, or waiting for some mysterious new revelation.  If we want to hear from God, all we have to do is crack open the pages of the Bible.

4.  Memorize Scripture.  We've been doing much better at this lately - I have memory verses I help Wyatt with, and then I've been working on memorizing Scripture myself.


For the rest of this post I wanted to focus on that last one, because I feel like a great way to teach young children to appreciate the Bible is memorizing Scripture.  As they commit verses to memory, it is easier for them to see how these words apply to their everyday lives.

Even as an adult, as I have been trying to get back into memorizing Bible verses, I have been re-discovering how beneficial it is.  I think about God's Word much more throughout the day when I am actively memorizing a portion of it.  (Which reminds me, I am up to chapter 5 of Hebrews - I will try to do another verse-reciting vlog soon!)

Tommy Nelson has provided a great resource for finding verses to help your kids memorize - a book called I Can Learn The Bible, which is the kid's version of The Joshua Code.  I had never heard of The Joshua Code, but I have started reading through it, and I love the concept.  It is based on Joshua 1:8, which talks about keeping God's Word in our mouths and meditating on it.  We can't do that if we don't memorize Scripture.

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Both of these books take a single verse per week to memorize and think about, over the course of one year.  I have only read part way through the books, but so far the commentary on each of these verses seems accurate, and provides some good insights (if I find anything that concerns me in either book I'll update this post, but so far so good).

I Can Learn The Bible includes a verse for each week, taken from the International Children's Bible version.  I have never read through this whole version, but the language of the verses is easy for kids to understand.  I am rather traditional, so I'll probably have my kids memorize the verses in the NIV or NKJV since that is what I usually read, but so far the ICB seems like it would be a good supplement for explaining some of the more difficult verses.  I like that the gospel is explained clearly through these pages.

We've been skipping around in the book a bit, and this week I wanted to find a section that would be appropriate for Thanksgiving - then I realized that children are encouraged to thank God throughout this book, which I love!

One chapter I thought was good for the concept of thanksgiving was the chapter on being filled with the Holy Spirit, whom every believer receives when they trust in Jesus.   John MacAruthur has said that being filled with the Spirit is "living every moment as if you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ".  I like that.  If we are filled with the Spirit we will be continuously praising God and thanking Him for all things (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?  The Thanksgiving holiday is about thanking God for Who He is, what He has done for us, and what He continues to do in our lives.  His Word is one of the most wonderful things He has given us, and I want to talk to my kids about that this week.

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What are your favorite resources for inspiration to memorize Bible verses (and for getting your kids to memorize Scripture as well)?  I'd love to hear any other recommendations below!

If you are interested in checking out either of these books, I have good news - Tommy Nelson is offering one of my readers a chance to win I Can Learn The Bible and The Joshua Code!  I think it would be fun to read these books side by side, and do a study together with your kids each week (in fact, I'm not sure why we haven't been doing that already).

Enter below for a chance to win!  I'll keep this giveaway open (to U.S. residents) through Black Friday!

Note: I received copies of "I Can Learn The Bible" and "The Joshua Code" for free in exchange for a review.  The above paragraphs about the books are my honest opinion.

Jesus Is Better | Hebrews 1-2

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(I originally took this photo for The Peony Project's Instagram feed.) 

I have decided to do an in-depth study of the book of Hebrews - to read why, check out my first post in this series!

I think the main thing that I have learned so far is that if you don't understand the Hebrew culture and traditions, you are not going to understand Hebrews.  Which totally makes sense since this is a letter to Hebrew Christians.  I thought I knew a decent amount about Judaism, but there are so many subtleties in the Hebrew traditions, and knowing those subtleties goes a long way in understanding where the writer of Hebrews is coming from.

The main point of chapter one is that Jesus is better than Moses and the angels.

As a modern day Christian I was thinking "Well, of course He is!  Why are we reading about this?"

I learned that this was not actually a given for the early Hebrew Christians.

The Hebrew Christians that are addressed in this letter came out of the Old Covenant of sacrifices to cover their sins.  In the Old Covenant, the High Priest would sacrifice a bull to atone for the sins of the people, as well as his own sins, and he had to do this year after year.  This was a system passed down through Moses, and it was given to Moses by God, through angels.

But then God became a man (Jesus) and brought about a New Covenant that changed everything.  The Hebrews weren't sure how much of the Old Covenant they should keep.  They didn't understand the sufficiency of the New Covenant that Jesus brought through sacrificing Himself for our sins.

The writer of Hebrews was trying to show them that this New Covenant was fully sufficient and superior to the Old Covenant.  It replaced the Old Covenant, because it was better.  In order to show them that the new was better than the old, he needed to show them that Jesus is better than Moses, and the angels who they believe passed the Old Covenant to Moses.

I think my favorite aspect of chapters one and two is that the writer shows with Old Testament scriptures why Jesus is better than Moses and Angels - it's such a smart way to do it since the Old Testament scriptures obviously carried a lot of weight for the Hebrews.

The author of Hebrews goes over so many ideas through the scriptures he quotes.  Jesus has inherited a more excellent name than angels because He is called Son. He made the worlds.  All things are made by Him and for Him.  All things will be put in subjection under Jesus.

And then after all that, Hebrews reminds us that even though Jesus is so much better than everyone and everything, He is not ashamed to call us brethren.  We are His children.

As His children, He holds us in His hand, and through his death and resurrection He releases His children from bondage to sin.

As His brethren, He was made like us in all things.  He was tempted like we are.  And He can aid us because He overcame those temptations and lived a sinless life.

He doesn't give aid to angels, but He does give aid to us.  He became a perfect sacrifice for our sins, and we are His children when we believe in Him.

What a beautiful thing to belong to Jesus.

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In addition to studying Hebrews, I have decided to try to memorize it as well.

I'm not sure why, but I recently picked up a book that has been sitting in my shelf for years, called His Word In My Heart by Janet Pope.  It is all about memorizing Scripture.

I used to memorize chapters of the Bible as a girl, but I haven't memorized any new verses in years.  This book really made me want to start memorizing Bible verses again - if you need some motivation, I definitely recommend it.  The whole thing was very timely, because I started reading this book right as I started studying Hebrews - so it only seemed natural to start my memorization with Hebrews.

Ever since I decided to memorize Hebrews, I've been hearing about the importance of Scripture memorization everywhere, so I think it's just a confirmation that this is a good thing to focus on right now.  I've also realized how much more I get out of Bible study when I memorize the verses that I'm studying!  It makes a big difference to me in remembering the context, and I understand the subtleties of each verse so much better when I can remember all the verses around it.  That is especially useful when studying book that is as complex as Hebrews.

So all that to say, my goal is to memorize a chapter a week.  I've got the first two chapters of Hebrews down.  I'm falling a little behind in my memorization schedule, but I'm working on chapters three and four now to try to catch up.

I recorded a vlog of me saying Hebrews 1-2 from memory, because knowing I have to record myself saying the verses is good motivation!  Here it is - I'm reciting from the NKJV if you want to follow along, though I know I mixed up a couple of the words in this video.


If any of you want to join me in memorizing chapters of the Bible (whether it's from Hebrews or a different book), I'd love it if you'd post a video of yourself saying your verses - then come back here and let me know so I can check it out!
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