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!!

day 15 :: Almost There

Today’s Christmas song {Almost There} is a flashback to two artist from my younger years – Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith.  A simple & beautiful song.

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free printable advent cards

Today’s verse is an absolute favorite of mine!

Luke 2:19

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The angels had heralded the shepherds, reporting on the breaking news.  The shepherds had gone “without haste” to see what the angels had spoken of.  They didn’t sit around to discuss whether they should go.  They didn’t form a committee to talk about the best way to proceed.  They just went.  And although there are times in which planning, preparation and committee formation are vital, there are times when it is obvious that going without haste is the best choice.  This was one of those occasions.

The shepherds found the situation exactly as had been reported.  Mary, Joseph, a baby wrapped in cloth.  Exactly as reported.  From there the shepherds, we are told, made known what they had seen & heard.  They heralded the news to others.

But Mary.  Mary ‘treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart’.  She had delivered the promised Messiah.  She had done so in a less than ideal location. They had no cradle.  They had no blanket, just some strips of cloth to cover their newborn with.  The first visitors were lowly shepherds.  Stinky, dirty shepherds.  Some women may have questioned the wisdom of the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the King.  Some women might have felt robbed of a grand event with pomp and circumstance & “worthy” visitors.  Some women may have believed that this was wrong and certainly a mistake.  But Mary.  God chose her for a reason, and I can see a glimpse of her character in these simple verses.  Her heart.  Mary treasured these moments – no matter how ridiculously strange they must have seemed.  Because let’s be honest, the fact that deity, the Word made flesh, the Great I Am was born a baby in a stable and the first to visit were some of the ‘less thans’ of the time does seem ridiculous.  But Mary held on to those memories, treasured them up.  They must have carried her throughout her life.

I also am always struck that Mary treasured but didn’t herald.  The angels heralded, the shepherds heralded, but Mary pondered.  Mary didn’t herald.  Mary didn’t appear to need to convince anyone else of the events of Jesus’ birth.  She treasured and pondered.  Of course there was no social media at the birth of Jesus {obvious comment there, yes}  But consider it a second.  Instagram.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Can you even?  The shepherd’s Instagram would have been lit up like a Christmas tree with all the selfies of them and the angels and with Mary, Joseph and the baby. Tweeting #wemettheKing #theMessiaharrived #angelssaiditwesawit. Can you even imagine?  But what about Mary?  From these verses I believe we wouldn’t have seen a post or selfie from Mary with the baby.  Her feed would have been silent as she lived in the moment.  Treasured her baby, her family, her God.  Her memories would have been stored in her heart.  Sometimes it’s not our job to herald.  Sometimes it’s our job to treasure.  Wisdom dictates when.  Mary knew she must treasure rather than herald.

Day 2 :: What Child Is This?

28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  Blessed are you among women! 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Luke 1:28-30

Mary enters our Christmas story today.  She is greeted by the angel Gabriel.  Gabriel has been pretty busy lately.  He was just over talking to Zechariah about the soon-to-be-born baby over at that house. {Luke 1:11-27}  What an amazing assignment for Gabriel…the bearing of the great news of two miraculous births!

Back to Mary.  She’s likely doing whatever it is that betrothed young women did in those days when all the sudden an angel shows up.  Did he look like an angel?  Was he all glowing and bright?  Did he look just like a man?  Did he sneak up on her?  Was she startled?  So many questions!

Side Factoid:  Mary means ‘exalted one’

So Gabriel shows up and what he says completely floors her.  One thing I see from this short passage is that Mary appears to be quite humble.  Mary definitely knew she was from the lineage of King David & as such she had to have known that there was a chance that the Messiah could be born of her.  {I wonder if they ever talked about it at family gathers?}   Had she been betting on her own amazingness as a human to win over God to make her the mother of the promised Messiah, she might have responded with a “what took you so long?!”  She may have even had a well thought out response to the message.  I have to think that there were girls through the ages from the line of King David who were certain God was going to chose them and perhaps even practiced their response.  But for Mary, it seems more likely that she thought the odds were not in her favor.  After all, she was just lowly Mary.  She may have been from the house of David, but she was far from the royalty riches of that house.  So when Gabriel shows up with the news that she’s favored…well, she seems to be dumbfounded.  She has no ready response for an angel.  She seems to have no idea why he is there & what he will say next.   She’s troubled.  She’s trying to discern what kind of greeting this might be.  Is the next line going to be good news or bad news?  Mary has humility in her character.

Here’s what we know from the 3 verses today:

  1. Mary has found favor with God.
  2. Mary has the presence of God with her.
  3. Mary is blessed.

We don’t know a whole lot about Mary at this point.  We know she’s betrothed to Joseph {what a guy he turned out to be…not divorcing her & all…winner!}  We know she’s related to Zechariah and Elizabeth {who are also expecting a miracle baby, John}.  We see that she’s from the lineage of King David.  We know she’s a virgin.

Tomorrow, we will find out the rest of the message from Gabriel.  {if you don’t know, it’s BIG!}  But for today, let’s just imagine what Mary might have been thinking in the pause in Gabriel’s breath between “you have found favor with God” and his next line.

Here is a link to the Christmas Carol for todayWhat Child Is This?  {I have a secret, this is not one of my favorites}


And if you’re just stumbling upon this little advent adventure, click here to get to the post with the free printable advent cards.  I’m using the Christmas Carol Advent Cards, but feel free to chose whichever ones you like best!

Day 1 :: O Little Town of Bethlehem

December 1.  Christmas season is officially upon us.  We received a beautiful blanket of snow overnight.  Looking past our Christmas tree into the glittery field definitely puts me in the mood for a little Christmas!  The most wonderful time of the year!

 

Today I’m listening to O Little Town of Bethlehem & doing a little reading from Micah 5.  Here’s a link to the song on YouTube, if you don’t have it in your iTunes library.  And from a good ole’ fashion Baptist hymnal, here is the music.0285=285

Micah 5:2 says “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet foretold he would be born in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem.  A dot on a map.  Not significant in any way.  Certainly not worthy to hold the promise of the coming Messiah.

Side Factoid {if you like that kind of thing, which I very much do} :: Beth•lehem signifies the house of bread.  Fitting for the Bread of Life to be born in the house of bread, don’t ya’ think?!?

So lowly, map-dot Bethlehem.  This is one of those things that is most surprising about God.  He seems to chose the nothings for some pretty important assignments.  Luke 1:52 says “he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate”  God loves to exalt the less-thans.  And Bethlehem would definitely fit in the less-than category for cities.  Bethlehem had nothing in it worthy to have this honor of being the birthplace of the Son of God.  I’m pretty certain there were cities that had prestige, perhaps winners of great battles or places of successful commerce & immense growth that would be more fitting the honor of Jesus’ birth. But God chose Bethlehem.  Christ would give honor to the place of his birth and not derive any honor from it.

Another Side Factoid ::  The chief priests and scribes that King Herod called on when the wise men arrived, knew this prophecy of the Messiah’s birth place well.  {Matthew 2:1-7}

Here’s the thing I see about God on this first day of December.  First, He keeps his promises.  He said Jesus would be born in Bethlehem & all those hundreds of years later, He was!  And second,  He uses the most unusual places & unworthy people to make His promises come true & tell His great redemption story.  He uses what, in the eyes of us humans, is less than worthy on its own to accomplish His work.

If you’d like to join in on the advent fun, here is the link to the free printable Christmas Carol Advent Cards I’ll be using this month at my house.  If you’d like a more traditional advent set, head over to yesterday’s post for Classic Advent Cards or the Names of Jesus Advent Cards.  All free.  Just print them off and enjoy!

Advent Cards :: free printable

Can you believe that tomorrow is already the first of December?  Every year, I think I have so much time to prepare for Christmas & somehow it sneaks up on me each and every year.

This year, I decided to throw together some advent cards to prepare for Christmas…& remember it’s meaning.  A little walk through Scripture day by day as we get closer to the 25th.  I started with this set.  It is the classic Christmas story from Scripture.  A great place to start when looking at what the Bible says about the day we celebrate as Christmas.  Classic!

Classic Christmas Cards

 

And then as often happens in my world…I got a bit carried away.  Heaven forbid I do anything just a little.  It’s a blessing.  It’s a curse.  So I also came up with this set with a different name of Jesus for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas morning.  I absolutely LOVE this set with it’s different Scripture passages than what I am normally reading at Christmas time.  I see these as a great reminder of who we are celebrating this season…Jesus!

names of jesus advent

 

And again because I seldom just stop with “that’s good enough” {hence the name of my blog} I took it another step farther.  And let me tell you, this may be the creme de la creme of my advent card ideas.  Perhaps you’ll hate it.  That’s ok.  I adore them.  I decided to create a card for each day leading up to the twenty fifth of December that paired a Christmas carol with a Scripture passage.  I.  Know.  Why haven’t I thought of this before.  I’m so very, very excited to listen each day to the carol and read over the passage with my family.  I.  Know!  So here’s that set.   Some of the carols are old familiar ones that you’ve likely heard a bazillion times & know by heart.  Others may be brand new to you.  I’ve tried to include the artist who sings it {or at least the one who sings it that I’m familiar with}  so that you can easily find it.  All should be available on iTunes.  {please note this set will not print out in numerical order…it makes me a bit anxious 😉 but it is what it is…good enough}

christmas carol advent cards

I printed these off on some 65# white cardstock.  Then I cut them apart using the cutting guides on each sheet and used my ever-trusty corner rounder from Creative Memories to finish them off.  So easy!  I think we’ll have all 3 sets around the house this Christmas.

I hope you enjoy these} and that the Scripture of the season fills your home.  Jesus is the entire reason for everything we are preparing for this time of year & taking just a moment to learn a bit more about him & the story we celebrate is a treasure worth unwrapping!  Let me know which set you like best & how you’re using them this Christmas!

Names of Jesus Advent cards pdf

Christmas Carol Advent cards pdf

Classic Advent cards pdf

 

Thankful Cards // part 2 :: free printable

Back a few weeks ago, I shared with you some thankful cards.  I hope you have enjoyed these reminders of gratitude.

As promised, albeit a bit later than I planned, here is another set of cards for you to enjoy this week of Thanksgiving.  I printed these on a nice Kraft card stock, cut them out & once again entrusted my Creative Memories corner rounder to finish them off.

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IMG_2393Wouldn’t they look wonderful around the table on Thanksgiving day?  Maybe one at each seat?   Or in the kitchen while you’re cooking the feast?

I just love having Scripture out & visible throughout the day.  It definitely is an encouragement & a reminder to be thankful to God.  Enjoy!

click on the image or here for the printable.

MORE FREE Thanksgiving Scripture Printables are available here & here.

ALSO check out more FREE Scripture printables here

encourage one another

What a weekend!  I am a big fan of the Hearts at Home ministry & this weekend was the annual Hearts at Home conference in Rochester, MN.  Hearts at Home is a Christian ministry designed to build up women, no matter their age or stage, so that they can be the best wife, mommy, friend, woman they can be.  And, let’s be real here, it’s a weekend away from the responsibilities of home with some girlfriends to just relax!  Winner Winner Weekend.

This year I was so excited to be a volunteer for the conference.  I was a personal assistant for one of the speakers.  And what a speaker I got assigned to!  Courtney Joseph! I have been hanging out over at Good Morning Girls for a long time & following along with her journey through Scripture.  I also absolutely love her book!  And I discovered this weekend that she is an incredibly kind & God seeking gal! And she’s real & normal.  I love real and normal!!

But the very, very, very best part of the weekend was the time after the conference.  When all the gals that I traveled to Rochester with would meet up, attempt to make a decision about where to eat {harder than you can even know!}, go back to the hotel room & laugh and cry and laugh a lot more!  There is something incomparable to time with girlfriends.  Longtime girlfriends & new ones too…no matter!

One of the evenings, we sat in the hotel room all cozy in our sweats, eating up all the chocolate & mints we brought along.  Never mind that we had just finished some of the best burgers we’d ever eaten. {shout out to the Half Barrel in Rochester, MN!}  There is always room for sea salt chocolates!  One of the gals said “we are going to share what we like best about each other.  I’m not kidding!  Let’s start with you.”  We sat, eating taking turns sharing the things that we loved most about the other women in the room. It was awkward at first – both to share and to be the receiver.  But as we all shared, it became so much less awkward and so much more refreshing.   Character qualities and skills and talents and stories filled the hours.  Some of us had known each other for decades.  Others, just a day or two.  But we shared what we saw, what we loved, how much we appreciated each other.  It was powerful!  To hear what others see in you, deep inside you…life giving!

We are called to build each other up, encourage each other, do good to one another & a whole host of other things that help us to thrive in this life.  It’s not easy to do, awkward at times, but it’s so powerful!  Sometimes it’s easier to pull down.  To remind people of the areas that are not so swell, not the best, not what you love.  Other times it’s easy to think that people know what you love about them, that they already are aware of the qualities that make them special to you.  But, often we don’t know & often we even question if any of those qualities exist in us.  We see them in others, but can’t find them within ourselves.

So today, be thankful for your friends and take time to remind them that not only are you thankful for them, but share what you see in them that makes them lovable & wonderful to you.

{click on the image for a printable version}