The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

I’ve not been this excited about a preschooler/toddler Bible in…EVER.

My friend Jared Kennedy makes this book a winner – by beautifully written stories and everything pointing back to Christ – for young kids.  Of course I love the Jesus Storybook Bible, but its more for older children, say 5-6yo.  But, this Bible, the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, is perfect for preschoolers.  And that’s just where my boys are.

This Bible isn’t about us.  Its not about how to get our kids to behave better or obey a list of rules (even good rules).  This Bible is about Jesus.  And that’s what the God Story is all about anyway.

Jared hits it out of the park with this one.  And after we finish our current family worship book, and Advent, we are going to use his.

Thanks to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Lavish Hospitality 16

posted in: 31days, Bible, lavish hospitality | 0

How do you get to know someone?  Thankfully in today’s technology-driven world, I think that is easier and harder.  Let me explain.

You can get to know people on social media.  This is how I love to keep track of new friends and old friends who live in different areas of the country/world.

You can get to know people by running into them at small groups or in church services.  Or playing basketball, shopping, being in a creative group together or a book club.

But, I genuinely think that the only way to truly get to know someone is to sit down with them.  Talk with them face to face.  You may not want to genuinely know everyone – but for those close friends, don’t you want to genuinely know them and sit down with them face to face as often as you can.

With my husband: I can get to know him through texts, through what he posts on facebook, but most I get to know him when we are talking to each other without distractions.  Or if we are sitting side-by-side traveling alone together.

WIth my best friends – I want to get to know them while sitting on their porches, sipping coffee together, or grabbing a quick breakfast together (without our kids).

With new people: it is hard to get to know new people at 40.  It is.  But, I have found it best to just sit down with them, have food or beverage present, and talk. Share.  Be open.

That is what God’s Word does for us.  Though we don’t have a face-to-face with God, the Word reveals God’s heart to us.  He has been hospitable in creating the Word. He was hospitable when He sent Jesus.  And He was (and still is) hospitable to us when He God-breathed the Word to be carried down to generations for us, believers today in 2017.

Quote from Noel Piper Treasuring God in Our Traditions

New Bible Study Helps

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

If you are anything like me, sometimes you get in a rut with your time in the Word.  Maybe not, but I know I do.  If I always study the Word in the same way, I get stale (not the Word).

So, I thought I would highlight some new(er) Bible study helps. Maybe these will be new to you, maybe you will have tried them and love them.

KJV Know the Word Study Bible.  This is a new Bible from Thomas Nelson.  I grew u with KJV at my Christian school.  The verses that I have memorized over the years are a hybrid of KJV, ESV, NIV, NASB.  One thing I love about technology these days is to read the Bible in so many different translations – and the KJV is a good one.  This new Bible has topical study notes on subjects: the Trinity, Love, Covenant, Purpose, Church, etc.  These are helpful if you are doing a topical study in your Bible study.  There are helpful footnotes on the bottom margin so you can access it easily as you are reading.  This Bible has book introductions which are helpful if you are doing a read through the Bible, you are getting a brief synopsis and knowledge about the book before you read it. So, if you want a very neutral (not personality-driven study Bible) this new one is a good, basic one.

The Daily Grace Co.  Kristin produces Bible studies that I think are ideal for the beginner.

She Reads Truth – this is an easy app that you can have on your phone right when you wake up, get in the Word right away, or you can purchase their Bible studies.  Solid material.

What are some Bible study tools that you use?

Thanks Litfuse and Thomas Nelson for the KJV Bible.  All thoughts are my own.

Lavish 11

posted in: 31days, Bible, lavish hospitality | 4

There are times I fail at hospitality.  And, yes, fail is a strong word.  Most will probably say just practicing it is enough, but for me, I want to do it right.  So, there is often a struggle between doing it and doing it well.

I’m a number 3 with a 2 wing on the Enneagram.  I like to be known and loved and be needed and always seem to be giving my resume.  But, I hate the fear of rejection.  Rejection and me do not get along.

The last 6 years I’ve had the most love I’ve ever known (husband, 2 boys), but I’ve also experienced the most rejection and dislike in my life. It has been some incredibly lonely times.  Filled with so many tears.

I remember just one little example of this.  I was hosting a meeting of ladies in my home.  I love to bake.  And I make these delicious and beautiful cupcakes.  I had spent all afternoon making them (with a toddler and baby).  One person ate a bite, no one else had any.  I wanted to cry the whole meeting.  When my husband arrived home, I threw them in the trash.  He didn’t even get to taste one..  When you work on something creatively for someone, have others reject it, its really a rejection of yourself.

So, the past few months, I have really been taking that rejection and placing it on Christ.  Where I need to sit and dwell in is his everlasting, never-rejecting love for me.  I’m his beloved.  He will never let me go. He will hold me fast.

When we welcome others in our loves, in our home, not rejecting them – we will be a piece of Christ to them.  In order to show them the Gospel.  To let them dwell in the love of Jesus.

More on this Psalm in The Songs of Jesus by Tim Keller

Acts: The Unexplainable Church

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

Last night I was at a church in the country outside of Augusta.  Friendliest church to newcomers I’ve ever been in.  I was quickly shown a seat, many people were including me in conversations, introducing themselves to me, and telling me about the oldest church building in Georgia and that they did baptisms in the creek there and still do them there.  Talk about a loving church.  A welcoming church.

The book of Acts is all about the early church, the adventurers they had in sharing the Gospel, and how the word of the Cross was shared throughout the region.

In Erica Wiggenhorn’s second Bible study, The Unexplainable Church, one covering the last half of the book, you will find thoughtful questions, great history, and spaces to write your own story – how God is leading you to obey the commands that is found in Acts.

We all have a journey in the Gospel.  Acts is filled with conversions, and beatings, joys, friendship, sorry.  And today, in the life of Christians, we find relationships, new relationships with Christ, we find our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted because of the name of Jesus.

When you study the book of Acts, you find yourself in God’s story.  His story is neverending.  And so thankful we get to be a part of it.

For a good study on Acts, check out this one., which is the first half of the book of Acts – and then follow it up with this one here. Here is my review of the first one. They are a great set of studies and you will know God’s story better.  Thanks SideDoor communications for this book and Moody Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Fitting in or Belonging (Included in Christ review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

There are some themes that take over the Christian conversation world from time to time.  And by that I mean so many of the books being published are about the same topic, or podcasts are interviewing people speaking on the same topic.

Right now is seems to be about friendships, belonging, community, etc.  And one of the questions or tips with figuring our my enneagram number has something to do with this.  One of the reasons I chose my enneagram number is because I have the ability to fit in anywhere, but I don’t always feel like I belong.

Belonging is a deep sense of “I’m loved no matter what” and “these people get me” verses just being able to get along, hang out, or blend in.  As someone who has been in ministry leadership for 20 years and moved around for 17 years, I’ve been rather good at that.

But fitting in is not belonging.  Belonging is sitting down and having your soul poured into for hours on end, and you don’t even have your flip flops on.

Belonging is sharing whatever is on your heart without a lull in the conversation because you don’t have to worry about what to say.  You won’t be condemned because you aren’t perfect or don’t fit the mold.  I’ve lived in areas where I’ve not fit the mold and so I’ve neither fit in or belonged – and that is so lonely.

I was listening to a podcast just yesterday and they were talking about Sabbath, resting, and loneliness.  And usually, I have found if I am lonely, it is not primarily because I am not around friends.  It is because I’ve been absent from the Word in an intimate way, slow to pray, and seeking all of my fulfillment from those who can’t fill it.

Heather Holleman writes a Bible study called Included in Christ – a study on the book of Ephesians.  She does a really good job at helping us know where we are in Christ – rooted in Him – and known by Him – and tells us that we can belong.  She helps you see your part of the story in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Some folks are very detailed and organized in their Bible study.  I’m not.  I kinda pick a book then study it in different ways: a Bible study, sermons, books, lettering, drawing, writing it out, etc.  So, this is a good one to help me along my journey in Ephesians.

If you would like to win a copy of it, just leave me a comment about anything and I’ll pick a winner soon!

Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Moody Publishers for my copy. All thoughts are my own.

Building Bedtime Memories (giveaway)

posted in: Bible, Books, mothering, parenting | 3

At the end of the day, motherhood can require a lot of us and we can be exhausted.  We might be longing for a glass of wine, a dessert, a bubble bath, or just the ability to sit down and binge on Fixer Upper.

But, if we are faithful in finishing the day well with our children, we will reap the blessings.  I am usually the one the put our sons to bed since my mister works retail and most evenings he gets home after bedtime.  Depending on how the day has gone, I’m really just ready to turn off their lights and shut their doors.  After brushing teeth of course!

I want to improve on my daily time with them at bed time. If my mister is home, we read a Bible story and each have time with one of our boys.  I usually take the older and tuck him in or read him some Little House (we are working through this series).  He sings the younger one a song and tucks him all in nice and tight.

The area I want to improve is the nights when I’m by myself, to actually read them a Bible story, pray with them, and then spend time with each of them in their rooms.  Singing or reading or just talking.  It may take an extra ten minutes, but I know that time is precious and I won’t get that back.

The resource we are going through now is the Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories.  I like it more than I thought I would – and I usually continue the rhyme well after I’m done reading.  It is note quite as crazy as Dr Seuss, but still fun.  The pictures are engaging for the kids and the rhymes make it fun.  Then the prayers at the end of each story allow us to focus our prayers at the end of the day.

How do you need to rescue or reprise bedtime?  What have you read at bedtime or done that makes that transition easier?

You can answer the questions above for an opportunity to get this hardcover book for you and your family.  Thanks Tommy Nelson Mommies for the book. All opinions are my own.

Jesus and the Beanstalk (a review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

I’m one of those people who find it hard to stick to one thing.

Maybe blame it on a lack of patience, or always wanting to see results, etc.  I really find it hard to believe I’ve been blogging for 11 years almost – that I’ve stuck to something that long.

For me, I like to jump around in my Bible study  I don’t mean that I just pick out a verse and think about that.  No, I like to do different things any given year.  Maybe I’ll read through the Psalms while doing a Bible study.  Right now I’m going page by page through the Bible to find out what God says about Himself.

Jesus and the Beanstalk would be helpful for folks like me, who may want to change up their quiet times or Bible study time near the end of the year.  Lori Roeleveld has written a humorous but good study through the book of Second Peter.  This will give you a lighthearted look at life while walking you the little book of 2 Peter.

She helps you look at the characteristics that you need as you walk the life of faith in Christ to battle any (and many) of the giants that you will inevitably face in this life.

Thank you to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Should You Study the Book of Acts? (Giveaway and Interview)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

I minored in history, I grew up doing cemetery rubbings on vacation (put a piece of paper over old headstones and coloring it with a crayon), I love love love history, and honestly, confession here, I often times find the book of Acts boring.

I know…maybe it has something to do with its narrative and I’ve read it before so I know how it ends – or maybe there aren’t enough imperatives in it for me to live our in my daily life (like sharing the gospel and being a sold-out Jesus freak aren’t enough).  Or maybe it is because I don’t experience the Holy Spirit and his work like that in the book of Acts on a daily basis.  Maybe its because my Christian life experience is so different then those in the book of Acts.

A new study, written by Erica Wiggenhorn, helps me and hopefully will help you, learn to love the book of Acts.  In this study, she helps you engage with a part of history that you might otherwise find difficult, she helps you personalize stories and the character of the Spirit that otherwise might seem distant, and she helps you see the power of the Word of God.

Here are some insightful questions that Erica took the time to answer for yall:

Most women have two thoughts about Bible Study that hinders them from digging into God’s Word : 1) I don’t have time. 2) I won’t understand it. How does this Bible study encourage women to step out of those two hindrances?

I love these two questions, because they encompass a couple of primary reasons why I felt called to write this particular study. I’ll start with obstacle #2 first! The very first page of this study begins with “Let’s Open Our Minds” and quotes Luke 24:45, where it says that Jesus opened the disciples’ minds so they could understand the Scriptures. My favorite thing about Bible study is how it allows the Holy Spirit to open our minds and understand Scriptures in a new and fresh way we had never thought of before. It allows us to access all of the time, research and background that an author has poured into a passage of Scripture and consolidate it for us, the reader, in such a way that we can achieve greater understanding without having to spend hours researching ourselves! The characters and circumstances come to life in such a way that we can relate to them as real people.  So on to #1! What we discover in the lives of the early believers was that their lives were unexplainably changed due to their commitment to following Jesus alongside other believers and to studying His Words and teachings diligently. The truth is none of us “have time” but if we know in our soul that we are missing out on something in our Christian walk, we know in our heart that we are not as intimate with Jesus as we would like to be, and we know in our mind that there must be more to this whole following Jesus thing than we are currently experiencing, then we must intentionally choose to “make time.” Time spent with God in His Word will always return more to us than we ever spend!

 The book of Acts can be such a compelling book to look at the work of the Holy Spirit. What are one or two of your favorite characteristics of the Spirit?

I love how the Holy Spirit personalized each conversion story. He never does the exact same thing twice in the book of Acts. It’s as if He knows each person’s heart and does all that He can to help us believe and overcome our unbelief! Another thing I love is how He works in the lives of those who already  believe. Again, He does unique things in each person’s experience in order to give them the greatest chances to obey. Sometimes He sends an angel, other times He speaks directly, other times He operates through a vision, occasionally miracles happen, but each and every time the experience is personalized. It makes me realize that He is not some impersonal cosmic force, but a form of God Who knows me, sees me, loves me, and desires to be an intimate part of my everyday life!

How do you balance everything you do?  Is balance the right word?  

Well this is a funny question, seeing as I how I was just venting to my husband this morning that I “have way too much to do!”. I think balance may be a misnomer as every day contains new variables and unexpected circumstances for which we did not expect or plan. I think “prioritize” might be a better word! Despite what each day brings, am I able to keep my priorities in line with what pleases the Lord? Do I still spend time with Him, still talk to Him, still minister to my family above everything else that needs to get done? One thing that helps me immensely is to go back to the very beginning of creation and realize that the first thing God created was time. He is Lord of time and knows all I have to do and how much time I have to do it! When I intentionally make time for Him each day, whether I get everything crossed off on my to-do list or not, my perspective remains constant, my attitude is more likely to stay in check, and the people I love the most get the best of me rather than the leftovers! When I don’t start by investing in my relationship with God first, but frantically grab my to-do list, I’m usually less effective throughout the day and not nearly as gracious in my relationships :).

 What are three things you are loving right now?

Only 3?! One thing I am loving is continuing my study of the early church! I am making my way through the rest of Acts and I am in awe of  how the Holy Spirit continued to work in these early believers’ lives! I am starting to wake up and say, “Okay Holy Spirit, what have you got planned today? This cracked pot is your vessel- fill me and use me!” Secondly, I am loving David McCasland’s book Oswald Chambers: Abandoned To God, because it is the life story of my favorite devotional writer. I have gone through My Utmost for His Highest for the last several years and knowing the circumstances behind his devotional entries brings them to life in such a powerful way. It parallels the illumination that occurred in studying the historical and cultural background behind the stories in Acts and allows with me to connect with the apostles and early believers more deeply.  Thirdly, I’ll confess I am loving Hannah’s Italian Ice! It’s a little cafe near our home and they mix flavored ice and custard in layers- super delicious! My kids and I love to go there after school and cool off from the hot Phoenix afternoons and share what happened during the day. It’s a little splurge that helps me connect with my kids and when you’re raising tweens, you’ll take every moment you can get!

To win a copy of her new study, An Unexplainable Life, which is a study on the first half of the book of Acts, just answer the following: what are a few things you are loving right now?

Thanks to Side Door Communications for this study and for the giveaway to one of you.  All opinions are my own.


Colors, Pre-Teens, and the Bible (Giveaway)

posted in: Bible | 1

Back in my pre-married days, way back even pre-seminary days, I started out in ministry doing youth ministry.  A few people in St. Augustine believed in me, and let me love on teenagers through the ministry of Young Life, and the local church, Anastasia Baptist.  I’m grateful for those people in my life who believed in the gifts and heart that God had given me.

I still, even 2+ decades later, still love teenagers and discipling them – helping them pour into relationships, Jesus, and the Word.

The Color Code Bible (in NKJV) is a helpful new Bible perfect for young teenagers (or even pre-teens) with a fun way for them to start learning how to study the Bible on their own.  A neat and very helpful way to get teenagers to study the Bible is by introducing them to topical studies.  This Bible is helpful in that by giving them colors on certain topics of the Bible, like God, Jesus, sin, praise, assurance of heaven and hope, etc.

If you are wanting a new Bible to give to your son or daughter (or niece, nephew, grandchild), this would make a great gift.  And why not study along with them – that may spur them on to study the Bible for themselves even more.

If you would like to win a copy of this, (Thanks Tommy Nelson for my copy and the giveaway copy), just answer the following: what is your favorite way to connect with your teenager/pre-teen?