Tuesday, November 12, 2019

God Knows Our Potential

Have you ever NOT done something God has called you to do because you felt inadequate? I definitely have- ALL THE TIME. When we feel inadequate, we usually feel inadequate in our calling.
1 Samuel 9 is the story of Samuel anointing Saul as King. In verse 21 Saul says: 
"Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”
It seems so ridiculous that he wouldn't just accept that if God said it would happen, it WOULD happen- regardless of how Saul felt or how inadequate he was. But clearly it wasn't and honestly- I am exactly the same way. When God calls me to do something my default is to first think...."I can't do that! There's no way."
The good news is that when God calls us, He calls us to be who He always knew we were- who He created us to be, not who we are in our own head. He knows our potential. He doesn't need to us to be perfect, to be a superhero or to know all of the answers. All He needs if for us to be willing, to be available, and to be obedient when He calls.
So my question for you today is....What part of God's calling are you ignoring because you feel inadequate or unequipped?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

November Scripture Writing Plan: Contentment

Happy almost November friends! 
The scripture plan this month is over a topic that many folks have 
suggested when I asked for topic suggestions on Facebook, 
CONTENTMENT!

Contentment is such a struggle in our world for so many today.
Because of social media it's easier than ever to compare 
our lives to others and feel we are lacking. 
Relationships, homes, jobs, kids, friendships- you name it, we compare ours to others. 
We see the pretty perfect pictures many post on Instagram and Facebook and look
 around at our own lives thinking....my life is so NOT like that. 

When we compare, we often spend lots of time thinking "If only....". 
If only I had a bigger house, a bigger bank account, better behaved children, 
a better job, more friends, a more romantic husband, etc.
When we focus on "If I only had..." we start to wallow in it
and almost always become discontent.

We have to remember that God has placed us or allowed 
us to be right where we are right now. 
He wants us to fix our eyes solely on Him and
 to look to HIM for our worth, 
not our circumstances or our position in society. 
The truth is, we don't have to like where we are or what we have, 
but if we will choose to thank God for His provisions regardless of our 
feelings towards those things, we will grow content. 
It's difficult to be thankful in imperfect circumstances, 
but Jesus enables us to be content through His power and His strength.

My prayer is that this month, as we focus on these verses about contentment, 
we take our eyes off of others and instead fix them on Jesus. 
May we find peace that comes only from Him, no matter the circumstances of our lives.  
May we find gratitude in all that He has provided for us 
and peace so that we may truly be content in His faithful provision and blessings. 





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 the folder HERE.

Bible Study 101: Verse Mapping Part 2

I had so many great questions about verse mapping from this post  
on verse mapping that I decided to do a quick follow up post! 

Frequently asked questions about verse mapping: 

Where to start? What do you recommend? 
I think starting with a few of your favorite verses is a great idea. Because they are verses you love you probably think you know everything about them. It's fun to verse map them and find out even more info about them! 

How do you decide what verse to map? 
I either do a verse from a list I keep on my phone (of verses I come across that I want to study) or a verse from a Bible study I am doing or hear in a sermon or podcast.

How long does it take you to do a verse map? 
It takes me around 20-30 minutes to do a verse map. 

What do you do with your finished verse maps? How do you store them? 
I do mine on loose leaf graph paper so that I can keep them in a binder, 
sorted alphabetically by verse. 

Can you give us a list of verses to map? 
Sure! I'll post a list of 100 popular verses below for you to start with. 

Can you save the Instagram stories about verse mapping to your highlights? 
Yes! It's saved under the highlight titled Bible Study 101

I created a quick worksheet with the basics of verse mapping 

and a list of 100 verses to verse map. 

You can find the PDF in HERE to download a copy. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Bible Study 101: Verse Mapping Part 1

I often get questions regarding what Bible I use and how I go about studying the Bible. 
I decided to do a couple of blog posts regarding this topic so 
when someone asks, I can easily reference this list and send them a link.

Previous posts on the topic are listed below: 

Today I am sharing one method I use for Bible study- verse mapping.
Verse mapping is simply taking a verse (or two) and 
breaking it down and researching the verse. 
I love verse mapping because it's a way to dig into a scripture pretty quickly. 
I always learn tons when I verse map and just love the process!

There are tons of ways to go about doing verse mapping but I typically do the following:

Read and Write it:
  • Read the verse in context. I typically read the whole chapter and sometimes several chapters.
  • Read the verse in several different translations. I use Bible Gateway for this. 
  • Write the verse down on a sheet of paper. I use graph paper but any paper will do!
Map it: 
  • Research the background of the verse and write down what I discover (who wrote it, when, where, who was the audience, etc.)
  • Circle words to define. Define words using a dictionary-both using a regular dictionary and a Greek/Hebrew dictionary. I use Blue Letter Bible for this.
  • Box important phrases
  • Read what several commentaries say about the verse. I use Blue Letter Bible or Study Light verse-by-verse commentary for this. Highlight the part of the verse the commentary talks about and make notes highlighted in the same color.
  • Write other related scriptures using a concordance
Summarize it:
  • Summarize what I've learned about the verse in a few sentence. 
  • Ask questions: What can I learn from this verse? Are there any promises/commands/warnings in this verse?
Apply it:

  • Pray to God about this verse and ask him to help me apply the lessons I learned from this process. 

Below are a few examples of my verse mappings. 
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. 
Do what works best for you!




If you want to learn more, you can find some great videos HERE and HERE
I also shared an Instagram story showing the process and it's saved in my highlights. 




Thursday, October 24, 2019

Bible Study 101: Online Resources

I often get questions regarding what Bible I use and how I go about studying the Bible. 
I decided to do a couple of blog posts regarding this topic so 
when someone asks, I can easily reference this list and send them a link.

Previous posts on the topic are listed below: 

BIBLE STUDY 101: STUDY AND READING SUPPLIES


Today I am going to share a little detail about the online resources that I use and LOVE!
Now these are not the only resources out there, 
there are TONS of resources out there online that are fabulous- 
these just happen to be my favorite! 

Two quick things regarding Bible study and tools: 

1. We should never rely solely on other's knowledge of the Bible. 
We MUST read it ourselves! 
Bible studies and commentaries are great 
but we need to learn God's word firsthand, not secondhand!

2. We need to be sure not to read verses in isolation. 
For context, reading the whole chapter 
(sometimes the whole book) is so important
in order to truly understand it.


Resource #1: Bible Gateway
Bible Gateway is a site I use all the time for reading different
 translations as well as reading commentaries. 
They also have some fabulous devotionals and reading plans! 


I use Bible Gateway to read various translations when I don't have my Bible handy 
and when I'm working on a scripture writing plan. 

Here's how that works: 
When you search for and find a verse in one translation, click on the Add Parallel icon (looks like two pieces of paper siting side by side) at the right side of the passage. 

Doing so adds a second translation that you can select from the drop down menu
and you can see the translations side by side!

If you click the icon again, you'll see a third translation. 

You can also click on the listen to icon (speaker icon) to have the scripture read to you. 

There are lots of other great things to check out on the site, 
especially those under the Study tab. 

There's also a great  Bible Gateway app that you can use- 
although I usually just use it in the browser, even on my phone. 




Resource #2: Blue Letter Bible

Blue Letter Bible has some incredible resources including some of my favorite commentaries.

    Just like Bible Gateway, you can search and read any Bible verse/chapter. 
    But what I love to use is the text commentary feature. 

    Search for the verse and click Go. 

    To the right of the verse click the Tools icon to reveal a bunch of options. 

    My favorites are Interlinear and Commentaries with Cross Refs as a close third. 
    Interlinear is the first tab and is a list of all the words from the scripture in Greek and Hebrew. 
    (The definition of Interlinear is written or printed between the lines of a text)
    You can even click on the icon on the right to listen to the pronunciation. 

    Learn more about how to use Interlinear  HERE

    Cross-Refs lists words that are in the scripture and used in other places in the Bible. 


    Commentaries lists audio, video and text commentaries. 
    Commentaries are a series of comments, background, 
    historical details, etc by biblical scholars. 
    I typically use the Text Commentaries. There are lots of great ones
     but my favorites are Matthew Henry and David Guzik.


    Clicking on one takes you to the commentary for that verse. 
    Each is set up like an outline. 
    It starts with a short summary and is followed by the text in dark red. 
    Below that are thoughts, details, and historical facts related to the scripture. 
    I like to think of reading a commentary as sitting down with a Biblical scholar 
    who is explaining the scriptures and giving me additional background. 
    If you are ever struggling to understand a scripture or 
    want more information or context, 
    a commentary is for you!

    I will warn you that reading commentaries is a little addicting. 
    The more I read them the more I want to read them and learn more!
    Learn more about reading commentaries on BLB  HERE

    The Dictionaries tab shows different words from the scripture 
    and their definitions in different dictionaries. 
    Learn more about the Dictionaries HERE

    There is a ton more to learn about on BLB and you can check out their 
    Help section HERE or check out their awesome video tutorials  HERE




















    Tuesday, October 22, 2019

    White Texas Sheet Cake

    As the mother of a child who HATES chocolate, I'm always on the look out for desserts
     that do not include chocolate. I've made Texas sheet cakes (aka Coke cake) for 
    years and years but until recently had never made a white Texas sheet cake. 
    I have no idea why I waited so long to make this but gosh- it is GOOD! 

    Cake:

    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract


    Frosting:

    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 cup walnuts (optional)


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl, whisk the first five ingredients. In a small saucepan, combine butter and water and bring just to a boil- string constantly. Stir into flour mixture. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sour cream and extract until blended; add to flour mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until golden brown (do NOT overbake) and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about18-20 minutes. Cool before frosting. For frosting, combine butter and milk in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil- stirring constantly. Remove from heat; gradually stir in confectioners' sugar and extract. Stir in walnuts. Spread over warm cake.

    Bible Study 101: Study and Reading Supplies

    I often get questions regarding what Bible I use and how I go about studying the Bible. 
    I decided to do a couple of blog posts regarding this topic so 
    when someone asks, I can easily reference this list and send them a link.


    Today I am going to share the supplies I use when doing Bible study. 
    There are tons of products out there for Bible study (and I've bought my fair share of them!) 
    but what I have found works best for me are simple, basic supplies. 



    When doing a Bible study I use all or most of the following:



    My Bible

    I have lots of different bibles but my preference is a dual NIV and the Message Bible. 
    I love this Bible because it has both translations on the same page. 
    I used to use two separate Bible but love this so much more. 
    Mine came from Amazon and you can find it HERE

    A notebook

     Although there are tons of options for Bible study journals and notebooks out there, 
    I use a good old-fashioned spiral notebook when doing a Bible study. 
    I usually grab mine at Target or Walmart- just looking for one that 
    is cute and college ruled. This is the one I am currently using. 


    A binder
    When I am doing verse study, I use a simple three ring binder with dividers. 
    Instead of regular notebook paper, I buy loose leaf graph paper 
    from Walmart but notebook paper would work just great too.


    Pen
    My favorite is the G2 black pen.




    Bible highlighters

    I have several sets and my two favorite are below.
    THESE from Amazon and I love them because there are two of each color in the set. 
    I have one set in my purse and the other with my Bible study stuff in a bag.
    I also have THESE from The Daily Grace Co and love them. 
    They don't bleed through the page and they are precious!
     (While you are there, check out all of their things- 
    so many cute products and GREAT Bible studies!) 

    Sticky Notes
    I use sticky notes to write notes and place in my Bible. 
    Usually just to jot down something I don't want to forget. 



    Online Commentaries & Study Guides
    My favorites are Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible. 
    I'll explain more about how I use these sites in an upcoming post, 
    but below are some basics about them. 


    Bible Gateway is a site I use all the time for reading different

     translations as well as reading commentaries. 
    They also have some fabulous devotionals and reading plans! 
    I love that I can check out different versions side by side. 



    Blue Letter Bible has some incredible resources including some of my favorite commentaries.


    I'll follow up in a few days with another post showing HOW I use these items! 
    Stay tuned!



    Thursday, October 10, 2019

    Turkey Sweet Potato Chili

    Every time I have mentioned this recipe someone has said...."Wait, what? Sweet potato in chili?". I know it sounds like a strange combination but trust me when I say it is AWESOME! I originally found the recipe from Skinnytaste HERE (she has the BEST recipes!) but have altered a bit. My recipe adaptation is below. Don't knock it till you try it!

    Ingredients:
    1 package 93% lean ground turkey
    salt and pepper to taste
    1/2 cup onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 large can crushed tomatoes
    8 oz can tomato sauce
    2 15 oz cans of beans, NOT drained (kidney or pinto)
    3/4 cup water
    1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
    1/4 tsp chili powder
    1/4 tsp paprika
    1 bay leaf
    1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into small cubes


    Directions: 
    In a large skillet, with a little bit of olive oil, brown onion and garlic over medium heat. Add turkey and brown- seasoning with salt, pepper and cumin. When meat is browned add the can of tomatoes, diced sweet potato, tomato sauce, beans, water, chili powder, paprika, salt and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are soft and cooked through, about 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally. Add additional water if it's too thick. Remove bay leaf and serve

    Monday, October 7, 2019

    Make me MORE

    He must become greater; I must become less.
    John 3:30

    Monday, September 30, 2019

    Monday Morning Prayer


    October Scripture Writing Plan: God is My Comforter

    Happy almost October friends! 
    The scripture plan this month is over a topic we ALL need at times, 
    the reminder that 
    God is My Comforter!

    Life can be be just plain hard y’all. I seem to be in a season of life when so many around me are hurting and struggling that my heart literally aches. Friends with children and parents battling cancer, friends with serious relationship issues with those they love, friends battling addiction and big work issues, friends fighting for custody of their children and dealing with abusive and dangerous ex spouses, friends with broken and bruised hearts, friends battling serious mental health issues, friends with serious financial issues- the list goes on and on. No doubt you too can name many folks dealing with heartache and heartbreak and struggle. 

    I feel like I spend much of my day praying to God to comfort and care for those friends- praying that they would feel His mighty arms around them. I am so thankful that God is the almighty comforter and He alone can comfort us when we are struggling. His word is full of reminders that He will love and care for us- always. When I was little my place of comfort was my mama's lap. Even up into high school and college if I was upset, laying down with my head in her lap (which she played with my hair) and talking to her- always brought me such great comfort. I am so thankful that like the scared little girl I was then, no matter how old I am or where I am, I can always crawl up into God's big old lap and feel His mighty arms wrap around me, comforting me and reminding me of His love for me. He is our protector and comforter and nothing will ever change that.

    My prayer is that this month we dig into the many reminders in God's word that He is our comforter. That we are reminded to always seek Him for our comfort because He is the ONLY thing in this world that will never let us down. 





    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 the folder HERE.

    Monday, September 23, 2019

    Treat Others the Way that Chick-Fil-A Treats You

    The folks at Chick-Fil-A have the BEST customer service of any company I know of. They truly are fantastic at loving and caring for their customers. I made a list of the things CFA does to make their customers feel loved and appreciated and if you look at that list, it is actually a list of the SAME things that God calls US to do daily!

    Matthew 22:36-40 reminds us that we are the first love God and then to love others. 
    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    So today lets treat everyone the way that Chick-Fil-A treats us!

    -Be kind and always positive
    -Make people our priority
    -Be driven by purpose (being obedient to what God has called us to do)
    -Be courteous and helpful (even when we don’t necessarily feel like it)
    -Don’t ask if we can help others, just do it
    -Treat our families as great as we treat our friends
    -Go the extra mile
    -Honor God
    -Check in on people, making sure their needs are met
    -Pay attention to the little things and listen
    -Enjoy serving others (“My pleasure”)

    Friday, September 13, 2019

    True Contentment

    I’m a fixer by nature. When something is broken or not working well, I work hard to find a solution. While reading this verse in 1 Corinthians 7:17 in The Message this morning it made me think about my tendency to want to change or fix circumstances or situations (even people) in my life:

    "And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. "

    Reading this made me think....What if those circumstances that we don’t like, are exactly where God wants us to be- at least for a time?

    God created each of us uniquely and calls us to live the life we are given- not to compare ours with our neighbor or friend or FB or IG friend who looks like their life is perfect- because here's a news flash: IT IS NOT. Each of us has a purpose and God has given each of us a unique perspective, value, insight, and set of experiences that no one else in the entire world has. When we live out that God given purpose, IN the circumstances He has given us or allowed to happen to us (even when they are stinky), it gives us the opportunity to point those who look at our lives and wonder how we can manage those situations to Jesus. God can and will use our struggles and challenges for His glory- we just have to allow Him to.

    So that’s my prayer for us today friends. That we are reminded to be content in our unique calling. That rather than striving to gain more things, a better position, or a change in our lives, we serve the Lord with thankfulness and gratitude for wherever he has placed us. That we are reminded that true contentment comes only through Jesus Christ, as we faithfully serve him in our present circumstances.