Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Scripture Bags: January Edition

A few months ago I went to a fundraiser for our local maternity home. I drove home that night thinking that I wanted to start doing something for the sweet mamas staying at the home each month. I decided that surrounding them with scripture to remind them of God’s great love for them would be my goal and that each month I’d give them a bag full of scripture. As I finished the bags for this month and prayed for these sweet mamas this morning, I thought I’d share what I put in each bag in case you have someone that needs to be reminded how loved they are. It only takes a few minutes and can cost almost nothing!

In the bags this month I included:

  • The Faith Scripture Writing plan. You can print out a copy HERE
  • A copy of the Counting the Fruit worksheet. You can print out a copy HERE
  • Exodus 14:14 print. You can print out a copy HERE
  • A coaster of Micah 5:5 I created a few years ago. 
  • A small devotional book. I found these at Hobby Lobby near the checkout area and they were only $2.49. You can find them HERE
  • A magnet with Mark 9:23 on it. These I found at Hobby Lobby near the cards. They had tons of verses and were only 99 cents each! You can find this one HERE
  • A printable that reminds they they are chosen, redeemed, adopted, brave, forgiven and beloved. You can print out a copy HERE

Total it cost me about $4 a bag. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all- you can truly use what you have! 

Pray for God to show you someone who needs a little encouragement and a reminder that they are loved and create your own Scripture Bag surprise for them today!

Hope in Christ Will Never Disappoint

If I saw you this morning and asked you how you were today and you were to answer honestly (not that fake "I'm fine" we usually say), what would you say? Beaten down? Facing a crisis? Exhausted? Afraid? Embarrassed? Terrified? Weary? If so know you are not alone.

As believers the life we live is never (this side of heaven) going to be easy. Christ tells us this point blank in the first part of John 16:33 which says….. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." He doesn't say we "might" have troubles or we "may" have troubles. Nope- he flat out says...YOU WILL have troubles.

The good news is the end of that verse….."But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He is our ultimate hope.

God is bigger than….
Your past.
Your mistakes.
Your problems.
Your failures.
Your anxiety.
Your depression.
Your pain.
Your hate.
Your anger.
Your doubt.
Your fear.
Your shame.
Your scars.
Your hurt.

Pain, struggle, suffering, crisis and trials do not have the last word. Christ does! Hope in Christ will NEVER disappoint.

My prayer for you today is that you are able, in the midst of any struggles or trials you face, remember that God is the authority over all things and He will carry you through your current situation. When you feel hedged in by doubt and fear, I pray that you are reminded to turn to Him because He WILL deliver you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Devotional Books I Adore

I often get messages asking me what my favorite devotional books are so I thought I would 
share all of my favorites for anyone who is looking for one to use to start their day.  
(And if you don't start your day with a devotion or some time just reading God's word, I highly recommend it. 
Focusing on the WORD before the WORLD makes a huge difference in my day 
and keeps me grounded and focused on what is truly important!)

I get to work super early and the first thing I do is my bible reading/scripture 
writing and then read a morning devotion or two. 
While some people use the same devotional book all year long, I am not that girl. 
Instead I rotate and alternate through several different devotional books
 each year - some year long devotionals and some topical. 

I also have most of these books in a physical copy AND a Kindle copy. 
Why? Because when I travel I don't want to carry them all around. 
(Hey...Did you know that once you buy a physical copy, 
you can purchase a Kindle copy super inexpensively? You can!)

Below are my current favorites including a link to each one and a little info about it: 

This book includes 365 useful, practical, encouraging and convicting devotions.
Paul is an honest, straightforward writer who constantly reminds us in these devotions 
that Jesus came to save us from ourselves and that we desperately need Him. 

This book includes 40 five word prayers to pray when you aren't sure what to pray. 
My copy is well used and so greatly loved!
It includes prayers like.....
"I need you desperately today" and "Please give me strength now".
Lisa is so authentic and genuine and I adore her writing so!
And if you aren't listening to her daily podcast, Jesus Over Everything, 
(You should also be following Lisa on Instagram!)

This book includes 100 devotions full of godly perspective on the issues we face each day. 
Lysa's writing is real and honest and full of fabulous, relate-able stories. 

This book includes 100 devotions to remind us where God is in this mess 
of our lives and how He is always working for each of us.
Melanie is so genuine and I love her sense of humor. 
Reading this book makes me feel like I am sitting down and chatting with a girlfriend. 

This book includes 60 devotions all focused on finding grace in our everyday lives. 
Ann's writing style is beautiful and truly helps open the readers eyes to the blessings God has given us all around each day in the little and the big things- in the good times and the bad times. 

This book includes 100 devotions that focus on targeting and banishing lies and insecurities 
and focuses on reminding us of our identity in Christ. 
This topical devotion book is packed of godly wisdom and one I use as someone who often feels like I can be too much and not enough- sometimes on the same day. 
(And go follow Jess on Instagram, she is one of my favorites in Instagram stories!)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Bible Reading Plans 2018

A fairly common resolution (that I think is FABULOUS)
 is the resolution to read through the Bible in a year. 

I can think of no better way than to spend time reading through God's word completely.

 I often get questions about plans that I recommend or suggest and there are tons out there. 
So below are a few of my suggestions- from an online plan, a plan generator,
 a podcast option and even a printable version I created. 

 has some fabulous plans online including: 

These plans are great because you can follow them on your phone 
or computer and you can do them alone or with friends. 
I'm actually working on one of these plans myself! 

(which I LOVE) has several plans as well including 
(allows you to read the Bible in the chronological order in which its stories and events occurred), 
(allows you to read the Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.)
(allows you to read the books of the Bible as they were written historically, 
according to the estimated date of their writing).

I love the Bible Gateway plans because they allow you to: 
  1. Have reminders sent directly to your email
  2. Record your reading progress
  3. Pause your plan any time to read at your own pace

also have some great options for reading plans including

Ligonier Ministries has a great list of printable plans HERE 
including some that are just five days a week and some that are chart form.

Bible Reading Plan Generator
This generator allows you to select all sorts of things including the days of the week you want to read, which order to read, and how long it will take you, and it will make a plan customized just for you!

Not a reader or struggle to understand what you have read?
Then this podcast is for you!
All you have to do is read the day's assigned reading then tune in to 
The Bible Recap each day after you've finished reading. 

I had a blog reader request a few years ago that I create a printable plan
so I've created a simple one that you can print out HERE
{Just a reminder, don't try to print the images below or they will be blurry. 
Be sure to click the link to download a PDF copy!}

My word of the year 2019: Yield

I spend lots of time leading up to the new year thinking about and praying about my word and verse for the new year. I'm not one to make resolutions (although I do make lists of goals!) but love choosing a word to study, focus on, and embrace.

This year my word is YIELD and my verse is John 15:5. I want a heart that lives out this verse whole-heartedly.....”I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

YIELD. I love this word because it’s a word that means both give and return. I want to surrender and receive. I want a heart yielded to His desires and His plans (NOT my own because His are far greater than any I could ever dream or imagine) so that my life and testimony yields and shows His incredible faithfulness and love to everyone God places in my life.

So what does living yielded mean? In order for me to live yielded I believe I must fully surrender and completely submit to the Lord (everything- my plans and dreams and hopes) so that I can yield (bear, produce, display) fruit according to His will for my life. And to be totally honest that’s a little scary for me because I am a girl who likes for things to go according to plan- always. (Whose plan? MINE of course!). But this year I strive to have a yielded heart.

-A heart willing to say “YES Lord” to God’s plans, no matter the cost
-A heart that embraces the fact that I am not the one in control and to rest in the fact that He has an eternal perspective while I have an earthly one
-A heart willing to do whatever He says and be obedient, no matter how crazy or impossible it seems
-A heart yielded to His plans above my own reason or what others think or say
-A heart that is yielded to God’s changes in my life instead of scared of them (kick fear to the curb)
-A heart that is yielded to Him alone for approval and doesn’t focus on what others think
-A heart that is yielded to God’s care and love for those in my life instead of clutching them tightly and spending time fearing losing them
-A heart that is yielded to Him and the fact that He is good, even when circumstances clearly are NOT

I so desire a WILLING, yielded heart! I long to know the fullness of life in Christ, the fullness of His joy, and the fullness of His power and in order to do so I must surrender fully unto Him. I must yield.

”When a person, yielding to God and believing the truth of God, is filled with the Spirit of God, even the faintest whisper will be worship.”- AW Tozer

Do you pick a new word of the year? If so, share below, I'd love to hear what it is and be praying that word over you!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Count the Fruit

I love a new year. 
I love cleaning things out and organizing them and starting fresh. 
I love thinking about my goals and dreams and plans for the new year. 
After Christmas I am ready to be done with the year and start 
dreaming and planning for the new year
BUT yesterday I was listening to the amazing and awesome 
and she said something that gave me pause. 
(If you don't follow her, you totally should! 

She talked about "counting the fruit" from a year before planning ahead for the new year. 
"Counting the fruit" is just thinking about and thanking God for 
anything you are thankful for, for any way that God provided,
for any answered prayers, for any way He showed up- big or small. 
The idea comes from John 15:1-8 where it says....
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

And I LOVE this idea so and am going to work at making this a practice in my life!
Jess said....

If you want to go into 2019 full of purpose and God's power,
you've got to leave 2018 full of gratitude and thankfulness.
Even if you think it was a hard year.
Even if it was a hard year.
Even if really broken things happened.

And to that I say AMEN!
To help write those fruits down, I created a little printable to make it easy. 

If you'd like to join me, you can print out a copy of both HERE

Friday, December 28, 2018

January Scripture Writing Plan: Psalms- I WILL....

Happy almost January sweet friends!

The scripture writing plan this month is over a topic that 
I stumbled a few months ago while reading my Bible. 
While reading through Psalms I realized that I often spend 
most of my time searching God's word for reassurance about
HIM and HIS love, care, mercy, and grace for me.
But His word is not only full of those things, 
(Thank goodness it is full of those things because we definitely need those reminders!)
it's also full of the things I should be committed to and focused on doing. 

So earlier this year I started reading through Psalms and writing down 
every single time it says "I WILL..." in terms of something I should be doing. 
And I found there were TONS! 
It was such a shift in my thinking to write them all down. 

Here are just a few...
Psalm 9:1 I WILL  give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I WILL tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:2 I WILL be glad and rejoice in you; I WILL sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
Psalm 13:6 I WILL sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Psalm 16:7 I WILL praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I WLL not be shaken.
So the topic this month is all of those "I WILL..." verses. 

These verses all contain the words “I will…” along with something God commands us to do. 
As you write each verse out, highlight the “I will…” listed. 

My prayer is that we would spend this month digging into His word
to learn more about the things that WE need to be doing 
and shifting us from thinking solely about what God promises 
us to include what we need to commit to doing for Him!

FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in English and Spanish in the folder HERE.
{Just a reminder, don't try to print the images below or they will be blurry. Be sure to click the link to download a PDF copy!}

Monday, December 24, 2018

Memory Verse: Week 52

I believe that Satan doesn’t want us in God’s word and will use any and every means possible to keep us from the truth and therefore we must be prepared and have a PLAN!

To work on hiding God's word in our hearts, 
this year I'm going to be posting a memory verse for each week
 along with a printable to print out and hang up. 

Here's the verse for week 51:

You can print out the verses in English and Spanish and the complete list in a folder  HERE

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Baking 2018

I love to bake. 
It's relaxing and fun for me to make sweet treats for friends and family. 
In fact, I started this blog (many years ago) to post recipes (and there are tons on here). 
I inherited the love of baking from my sweet mama who was an INCREDIBLE cook. 
At Christmas time each year we would spend a weekend making
 tons of treats and it was one of my favorite weekends of the year. 
As I bake now I miss her so but try to remember all the fun times 
with her and now am lucky enough to have my sweet girl join me sometimes. 

This week I made a few goodies and thought I would share the recipes in case 
you are looking for some yummy treats to whip up this week. 
Some are super simple and all are super yummy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles: 
These are a HUGE hit every single time I make them. 

Recipe HERE but you can take a short cut and make them using refrigerated cookie dough. 

Peppermint Cookie Dough Truffles: 
I made these using the refrigerated peppermint sugar cookie dough and almond bark. 
YUMMY and super easy! 

Betty's Ginger Cookies: 
This recipe came from my sweet friend Betty and they are delicious!
They are a super soft cookie- which is my favorite kind!
Recipe HERE

Grinch Cookies: 
These are cool whip cookies that are super yummy and soft. 
I got the recipe my very first year of teaching (25 years ago) and for Christmas 
just added green food coloring to make them festive. 
Recipe HERE

Snickers Fudge: 
This is a time consuming candy but it is soooooo worth all the effort! 
It really does taste like a Snickers candy bar!
Recipe HERE.

Texas Trash (aka Chex Mix): 
This was a Christmas staple in my house and so I make it every year. 
I'm a traditionalist and believe two things: 
It must be made in the oven and you should double (or triple) the seasonings/butter mixture!
Recipe HERE.

White Chocolate PB Clusters: 
These are a staple in my house at Christmas time. 
They are super easy and make a ton and they are gluten free! 
Recipe HERE

Merry Mix: 
Super yummy and makes a ton!
Recipe HERE

Monday, December 17, 2018


Buying little gifts for lots of people can quickly add up to lots of $ so I decided to come up with a few cute and inexpensive ideas that won't break Santa's bank! 
This time of year everyone is super crazy busy & hurried so it's nice to have 
a few things wrapped up and ready to give when you realize you need them-
for teachers, co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc.

For the past two years I have posted some CUTE & QUICK CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS
HERE and HERE for gifts that are great (& inexpensive) 
to give to co-workers, teachers, or neighbors
or just to have around during the Christmas season.

I've already post a few new ones this year that you can find HERE
and below are some new ones I recently came up with 
that are super easy and super inexpensive!

Idea #1:
I usually have several Sonic and Starbucks gift cards 
on hand just in case I need a quick, easy gift. 
I decided it was time to create a little printable tag to go with them!
For a bigger gift you could even add a gift card and tag to a cute cup or mug.
(Cute bag found in dollar spot at Target)
Total Cost= $5+

Idea #2:
Flair pens are the BEST and every teacher I know loves them so!
This little printable is perfect to go with a set of Flair pens.
They come in tons of sets, in tons of color 
so you can purchase either a large or small package!
Total Cost= $6.29 on Amazon or $11.45 on Amazon


Idea #3:
I saw this idea late one night on Pinterest
and knew I had to make some for folks in my office. 
Because sometimes, you just need chocolate, right?
I purchased the containers at Hobby Lobby for $2.99
and the candy at Wal-mart. 
This could also be done with seasonal candy
 (Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas)
but I made mine generic so it could last all year. 
I purchased 6 small bags of candy 
and that amount filled all 6 of my containers 
with a few left pieces of candy left over.
I also added a $5 bill so they could get a
Sonic or Starbucks drink when needed. 
Total Cost= $7.99 + cost of candy

Idea #4:
I love our mailman and decided I needed to create a little printable 
to add to some cookies so I could leave him a Christmas treat. 
I kept the printable fairly generic so you could add anything you'd like to it- 
candy, cookies, a gift card, etc. 
Total Cost= $4

Idea #5:
I love Gingerbread house kits and think they make a great gift for a family!
I purchased this one at Wal-mart for less than $9 and they 
had TONS of different versions- both big and small. 
Total Cost= $9

I printed my tags on white cardstock- sometimes in wallet size and others in 4x6 
but they are all in JPG format so you can print them in any size you'd like!
You can find all of tags from this year and last year in the folder  HERE

Memory Verse: Week 51

I believe that Satan doesn’t want us in God’s word and will use any and every means possible to keep us from the truth and therefore we must be prepared and have a PLAN!

To work on hiding God's word in our hearts, 
this year I'm going to be posting a memory verse for each week
 along with a printable to print out and hang up. 

Here's the verse for week 51:

You can print out the verses in English and Spanish and the complete list in a folder  HERE