Bible Study Tip

Half way through our first book in the New Testament in 2017 plan.  How’s it going for you?  Painless & stirring?  Confusing & uphill?  I’ll be honest, some of Paul’s thoughts, I just don’t follow all the time.  Not even in easier-to-read translations.  I wanted to share a Bible study tip that makes this a bit less difficult.

At home I use this Bible.  The New Inductive Study Bible.  I use the ESV version, but it comes in nearly any translation. {& as one of my seminary profs said once, “the best translation? The one you’ll read!”}  Anyway, this Bible is big, awkward, heavy and not carry-around-friendly whatsoever.  But it has some great Bible studying features that I really like. It’s perfect for at-home Bible reading/study.  This Bible is a great companion as you study book-by-book.  I highly recommend it.

 a bit deeper in Galatians

Things to think about:

  1. Jesus Christ is mentioned 38 times in the book.  Mark those in your Bible & make list of what you learn about Him from Galatians.
  2. Look for times when Paul asks questions.  Words like “brothers, you” & “foolish Galatians”.  List them & see what Paul is rebuking the Galatians for specifically.
  3. The Galatians struggled with grace vs. works.  Are you living under grace or works?  Have you accepted God’s grace for your salvation but you still feel you need to earn your salvation?
  4. Read Galatians 5:16-21.  If you are living under grace, under the control of the Spirit, you will not be able to life a life habitually controlled by the flesh.  Evaluate your walk according to these verses.
  5. What do you boast in?

I hope that these 5 things will help to keep you focused when Paul’s words seem to just go on&on.  Have a great Wednesday!

 

she who used to…

I likely won’t post after every daily reading.  But yesterday as I was reading Galatians 1, something struck me & I thought I’d share.

The first chapter in this letter from Paul.  To tell you the truth, reading those first verses in the first chapter of any of Paul’s epistles is usually skim-worthy.  It tends to sound a lot like blah, blah, blah, blah.  Paul can seriously write the longest, most drawn-out sentences of anyone.  {And I know long, drawn-out, run-on sentences well.}  So sometimes when I start reading a new book by Paul, the intro is just so many words strung together that I get bored.

But not this morning.

Beginning in verse 13 :: For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.  Paul was a really bad guy with a really violent & horrible past.  He did some pretty horrendous stuff.  He was not kind.  He was not loving.

Verse 23-24 :: They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”  And they glorified God because of me.  A guy known far & wide for his terrible treatment of others became a spreader of the Gospel message & others glorified God because of him. God took hold of him, crossed out that past {or at least wrote forgiven & free all over it} and turned Paul right way round.  Paul didn’t sit back assuming that his past disqualified him from the future God had.  He recognized the grace he’d received and freely flew to do whatever would bring God glory.

I don’t know about you…I’ve never stoned anyone to death…but there are things I’ve done & said that I’d wished I hadn’t. I have been a “she who used to…”  Sometimes I get stuck replaying the videos of those used to’s in my head.  over & over & over again.  This was a great reminder that, just like Paul, God will cross those things out or at least write grace all over them, letting them be “used to’s” in order to write new “is now’s” in my life.  Because of this grace of God I am free to drop the “used to’s”, embrace the “is now’s” and fly.  And so are you.

As we begin a new year, let’s quit getting stuck on the “she who used to…” so we can make way for all the “is now’s” He is wanting to bring to our lives for His glory.  Begin by listing that junk that you’re hanging on to.  Ask God what to do with it.  Make amends with those you’ve “stoned”.  Forgive those who have “stoned” you.  Ask God to forgive your behavior, attitude, words, whatever.  Then drop it and fly.  Because she who used to is now free.

Galatians :: NT in 2017

This week our reading will take us through the Book of Galatians.  You can find it here.

galatians

A quick flyover of the Book of Galatians:

  • It was written by Paul.  Paul was a zealous Jew known for persecuting Christians, even holding the coats of those stoning Stephen to death {Acts 22:20}.  He was converted after a wild encounter with the resurrected & ascended Jesus {Acts 9:1-19}. 
  • Paul played a roll in the starting of the churches in Galatia that he is writing to in this letter.
  • The Galatians had begun to slip into the belief & behavior that justification was received through works {following the Mosaic Law} rather than through faith in the work of Jesus Christ.  Works over grace.  Paul writes to correct their thinking.
  • Main theme :: justification comes by faith in Jesus Christ, not by works of the Law.

And with that quick little flyover…let’s get reading.  The Word is alive & active {Hebrews 4:12}.  You need no special skill or education or training for it to speak to you.  Just read.  Somedays something will jump wildly off the page and stir up all kinds of “WOW!” and other days nothing will seem to have any significance whatsoever.  Don’t give up on the nothing whatsoever days.  You will have many.  But just keep reading because the “WOW!” days will take your breath away & possibly change your world.

Thanks for joining in the adventure.  I have no doubt this year, we’ll ‘make it to the maps.’

New Year :: New Testament

Tomorrow begins a new year.  And the first day of my resolution to read through the New Testament.  I’ve thrown out all my other whimsical wishes to eat better, drink more water, exercise regularly or otherwise generally better my outside.  This year, I’m looking to see if something can get stirred deep in my heart to create real inner change.  Maybe in my attitude.  Maybe in my treatment of others.  Maybe in my priorities.  Maybe in all of the above.  And I’ve decided that just trying really hard doesn’t ever work.  But I believe that the Word has the power.  So making reading the Word my priority is my resolution.

In an effort to make my goal a reality, I have created some printables to put in my planner to keep me on track.  And today I share the January set with you.

There are 4 in the collection, one for each week of this month.  They are super simple.  A place to note things I shouldn’t forget, a place to note people I should be praying for, a place for our weekly dinner menu & a place to write down those things I need to pick up at the store {groceries or sundries or whatever…isn’t sundries a fun word?}  And, OF COURSE, the weekly New Testament reading for the week.  Click HERE to access the FREE printable pdf file that you can print at home.  {I plan to have the first six months of the year available at my Etsy store printed for your Happy Planner shortly}

One other little problem I have when reading the Bible, or any book for that matter, is mind-wandering.  Do you suffer?  I can read the words but be thinking about other things & not have a clue what I’ve read at the completion of the paragraph.  Frustrating!  I have found that if I have a pen in hand with an “assignment” I am much less likely to suffer from mind-wandering.  To help try to keep me on task, I have also created a VERY SIMPLE journal page to use while I read through the New Testament.  For me, I like to read the passage, write down any particular verse or couple verses that really spoke to me and then write down what is stirring around when I read.  Sometimes there’s a lot written down & other days, hardly anything.  But that’s ok.  This helps keep me focused.  I’d love to share those simple sheets too.  Click on the picture or HERE for your free printable journal sheet.

All the printables in this post are just simple creations that I threw together for my personal use.  {warning::they may not be perfect}  I hope that you can find use for them if they would help you.  If you have your own journal or method or plan, that’s great!  All these printables are sized to print on regular letter size, but all can be cut to 7×9.25 to fit your Happy Planner.  If you have any questions or problems just shoot me a comment.  I’ll try to help. And please check my Etsy page for printed, sized & Happy Planner punched pages soon!

Have a wonderful last few hours of 2016!  Bring on 2017!

2017 Bible Reading Plan

2016 is quickly coming to a close.  I’m not terribly upset about that.  While 2016 had some amazingly wonderful moments, it has also included some of the hardest of my life.  And whether it will be or not, the hope withheld in the newness of a brand spanking untouched and untarnished year, makes 2017’s approach all the more exciting.  Something about fresh starts, new days dawning, hope comes in the morning. Ah, hope.  Such a generous & grace-filled word.  I am counting down these last few hours until we say au revoir to 2016 forever!

I’m not really a resolution kind of gal.  I lie.  Actually, I am.  If you know my personality even a smidgen, you can see that I am a goal setter.  I put my mind to something & I get it done.  Often with lots {and lots and lots} of complaining at times.  But I, nevertheless, get the goal met & crossed of the list.  So, I actually am the resolution type…except that for some reason this goal-setting, list-crossing-off, bucket-list-finishing gal has a problem getting through resolutions.  And as much as I love a good goal set and achieved, I loathe the setting a goal & missing it even more.

So resolutions.  They’re a strange bunch.  Perhaps fueled by all the hope I was talking about before.  New day dawning, spanking fresh start…blah, blah, blah.  Resolutions get somehow thrown on paper in permanent sharpie in a whimsical, wishful way full of hopes & dreams.  And nearly every actual new year’s resolution I’ve ever set for myself has gone uncompleted.  GASP!  I hate unfulfilled goals.  Failure.  That’s what resolutions bring.  From all out hope to utter failure in a matter of usually two-three months.  It’s daunting.

All this to say.  No resolutions for me.  Well.  Except one.  But I’ve given this some real thought, not just unicorns dancing on clouds thought & I’ve put some real planning in motion to see that I fulfill this new year’s resolution.  Because a goal without a plan is just a wish.  So plan I have.

This year I resolve to read the New Testament.  You see, every single year in recent history that I can remember I have resolved to “this year read the Bible”.  And by mid Leviticus I’m out.  Done.  Fini!  Have you ever tried to read through the Bible cover to cover?  It’s not an easy read.  Some of these Old Testament books are weird.  Just plain weird. They are hard to get through.  So I quit.  sigh…

But not this year.  I’m tackling the New Testament & while i know there will still be some weird moments {like all of Revelation} I’m thinking I’m much less likely to throw in the towel like I do every time I get to Noah getting drunk and sleeping with his daughters.  To make this resolution even more attainable, I’ve made the reading fairly easy.  One chapter a day with a very relaxed 2 chapters a week over the summer.  No excuses about time. Oh, and I’ve given myself Saturdays off too.  I’ve picked an order that will likely keep me interested {such as separating the gospels, one per quarter rather than all four back to back}.  And if all that weren’t enough, I made cute little cards to put in my planner to remind me to read.  I have no excuses for this not being a resolution I can accomplish.  And I’m kind of excited. Both to actually finish a resolution & to read the New Testament.

 

If you’re in the mood to read through the New Testament or part of it, I’d love to have you join in the fun.  I have included a printable for free that you can print off at home that includes the entire year of reading. It will print 2 months per letter sized paper.  Or if you are interested, I also have printed sets that will fit the medium sized The Happy Planner available for $6 at my Etsy site.

You can get a Happy Planner from Michaels right now on sale {HUGE SALE}.

Please let me know if you’re reading along.  I’d love to know there’s someone else out there in the same part of Scripture with me each day.  My plan to is post about what I’m reading fairly regularly to help keep me accountable.  The more the merrier.

 

…a few of my favorite things…

My friends.  We sit with just 9 days until Christmas.  Nine!  Why does is seem like we have all the time in the world & then “BAM!” out of no where, we’re almost out of time?  If you’re feeling behind, I’m here to help.  In the spirit of Christmas with a little inspiration from The Sound of Music together with a little Opren {that’s Oprah & Ellen}…I give you…

My Most Favorite Finds – 2016

  1. This has been at the absolute top of my chart for years now.  It is my absolute favorite!!  My dry, winter skin needs SO much help.  You have no idea.  Cracking, itching, awful.  This year is particularly bad with all the extra hand washing I’m doing.  And this little treasure is the best I’ve ever found.  L’Occitane Hand Cream.  Hand down the very best!  $28 very well spent.  And if you signed up for eBates {which I know you did} you’ll get 3% back on each one.  
  2. I received this as a gift from seven of the most amazing women in my life.  Scattered all over the planet, they coordinated this gift as a comfort when Sweet Ginger began his chemo treatments.  It is most wonderful throw blanket in the entire world.  Softness does not even begin to adequately describe it.  It is cozy, weighty, 100% lovely.  If you have someone on your list who might need a luxurious throw, this! is! it!!  Pottery Barn’s Ruched Faux Fur Throw.  Regularly priced at $149, it is on SALE today {Dec. 16} only.  What a steal at $104.  Don’t miss this deal!
  3. This year I did my first Whole 30.  It was a good experience and I am sure that after the holiday eating is over, I’ll be looking at another go around.  I really did feel better, sleep better and have way more energy while on it & I think I could go again here in the new year.  Anyway, while doing that I discovered my next favorite find – Bubbies Sauerkraut.  It may be a bit more expensive than other sauerkrauts out there, but for good reason.  This is true sauerkraut.  Made with cabbage, water, salt.  That’s it.  Naturally fermented like our great grandparents would have eaten it.  Delicious!!!  You can pick it up at lots of you favorite food stores in the refrigerated section.  
  4. These past few months I have become somewhat of an expert on winter head ware.  Living in the frozen tundra with a completely bald bald has required us to find the most fabulous hats known to man.  While the absolute best have come from an amazingly talented friend, the next best have to be the ones from Love Your Melon!  Hands down.  Warm, soft, comfortable.  And 50% of profits go to cancer research. Winner, winner.  They come in a multitude of colors and styles, but are so popular that they are often low or short on their most populars.  Luckily they restock often and add to their styles regularly.  They range in price from $30-$45.  A great deal on such a wonderful hat…with a fabulous cause.
  5. My final favorite find for this year is Isaiah 41:10.  “Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Especially over the past few months, I have needed this reminder almost daily.  Do not fear.  Do not be dismayed {agitated, discouraged, disheartened, frightened, horrified, rattled, scared, unnerved, upset}  God is with me, he is my God, he will provide the strength & help necessary and he will hold me up when I ca no longer stand on my own.  This doesn’t mean that every moment is rosey.  It doesn’t mean that in the end this will turn out the way that I think it should go.  It means that however it goes, I’m not alone.  This verse.  So for my final favorite find, I have a FREEBIE for you.  Simply click the “like” at the bottom of this post {or better yet leave me a comment!} and download your free printable.  Simply download & print on your home computer & printer.

printable

I hope you have a wonderful eight days of shopping or relaxing by the fire sipping hot cocoa, whichever.  I hope you enjoy this list of my most favorite finds.  Buy one for a friend or for yourself, no matter, you’l be glad you did!

And if you still need to sign up for eBates & start getting some cash back in your wallet, click here.  Get shopping straight away because they’re giving you an extra $10 just for signing up & shopping.  Don’t delay.  There’s money waiting!!

#Perfect

May I be honest?  The past few weeks have been a bit rough.  Cancer is dying {can I get a hands-raised hallelujah?!} but the chemo rounds are getting tougher on sweet ginger’s body.  More side effects like nausea, fatigue & chemo brain are creeping in. He’s a bit more, let’s say ornery, for good reason. And my patience often feels fleeting.  Cancer, chemo, all of it is just plain no fun!

Now how about we throw Christmas in the mix?  Why not?  I will admit up-front that online shopping has saved the gift giving aspect of the holiday.  I have not stepped foot in an actual brick & mortar since Black Friday.  This has no doubt helped to save my sanity.  And while the boxes are filing up nearly all my adequate hiding spaces, I would say that shopping has come to a close.  That’s the good news.  Cancer cannot win the gift giving battle!

I think what has been getting to me…is all the “perfect” Christmases I see everyone else having out there.  And by everyone, I mean a bunch of people who mostly I don’t even know.  Don’t.  Even.  Know.  And by perfect Christmases I mean the ridiculously faux, staged, photoshop perfected, do-people-even-live-in-your-home posts filling my Instagram & Facebook feeds.  I don’t know most of the folks & I know that there’s no way their homes looks like that 100% of the time.  Yet for some reason my Christmas feels downtrodden and frankly lacking when their homes, cookies, decor, Christmas lights, trees, parties with every ounce of their perfection fill my screen.  Here’s the amazing tree at the nurse’s station on the oncology floor:

The “perfect” tree for the cancer kids of the 7th floor.

For many, who are in far worse circumstances than ours, this is the only Christmas tree that they will be enjoying this season.  It hardly compares to the ones coming across the wi-fi.  And I have spent too much of my recent days a bit on the angry side about that.

OK!  I’ll say it so you don’t have to.  Jealous much?  Yes, I would agree.  There is a jealous covetousness that sits inside of this little annoyance of mine.  Jealous.  Covetous.  Ugly.  Really…I’ll say it..:: I really just want a perfect Christmas, not a cancer Christmas.

A “Perfect” Christmas

What exactly is a perfect Christmas?  From my feeds, I might conclude it’s in the tree, the decor, the food, the parties.  So what to do about that?  I could cancel my Instagram & Facebook accounts.  But I don’t actually think that would solve the root of my problem.  Instead it would perhaps just mask it for a while.  I would say the best go-to is always…wait for it…prayer & the Word.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  And here’s how the story looks this morning.

Yesterday, while feeding the chickens in temperatures that make your face hurt, I was complaining {pretend you’re shocked} about all the frozen poop in the coop {that’s a fun rhyme} it occurred to me that Jesus was born in a stable…basically a big chicken coop.  The poop in that stable was likely not frozen and instead horribly stinky.  And that is where Mary delivered him.  Mary.  What on earth would have gone through her mind if they’d had Instagram back at Jesus’ birth?  All her other friends would be posting full make-up smiles holding precious pink newborns wrapped in striped blankets from clean beds with hashtags like #perfectbundle and #amazingdelivery, while she was holding her precious bundle in some old strips of cloth Joseph found on the ground of the stable and shook off.  There would have been dirty animals, straw & stinky poop in the background of her photo with Jesus.  Not exactly hashtag worthy?

But as I envisioned this, about the King being born in a dirty old barn, I couldn’t help but smile.  Jesus really isn’t interested in our “perfect” Christmases.  His Christmas {if you can call it that} was less than picture perfect.  He isn’t necessarily impressed with our picture worthy Christmas decor or our Christmas cookies or parties or any of the things we pretend are perfect & post for some “likes” and accolades on social media.  All those things I’ve been jealous of lately.  Jesus came for people.  Christmas is about people.  Christmas {coupled together with Easter} is the gospel…the whole story…the perfect story.  Christmas is about Jesus.  Coming to earth so humbly it’s ridiculous. Remembering this, made my jealous rage {yep rage} seem so misplaced.  And rather silly, really.

Mary’s Instagram would have looked absurd.  Imagine it.  Baby Jesus in a feeding trough-#cozy.  Holding baby Jesus while the cows lick his face-#madcowsnotspreadthroughsalivaright.  Selfie with Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus in the barn-#atleastitscovered.  Jesus surrounded by dirty, stinky shepherds leaning in, touching baby Jesus’ face-#strangementouchingmybaby. Mary holding Jesus while wise men bow with amazing gifts-#theybroughtembalmingfliud.  These pictures would have been so foolish by our current Christmas standards but each embodies the Perfect Christmas. And each should have #perfect.

I don’t post this to judge anyone.  Please don’t take it that way.  I think these pictures of trees and decor and parties are beautiful. I just needed to realign my heart, remember what Christmas is really about, and appreciate my cancer Christmas.  When I look at Mary, I can see that this Christmas perhaps is closer to the Christmas Mary experienced…dirty, ugly, less-than-ideal.  But because of Jesus–absolutely perfect.  If your Christmas is not exactly Instagram-worthy, remember neither was Mary’s.  But she treasured up every, single moment.

Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.