Monday, October 20, 2014

How (and Why) I Mark My Bible

My Bible looks pretty rough these days. I've glued Genesis back in a couple of times. Papers are tucked into the back. Colored pencil marks, thoughts from sermons and Bible studies, and sticky notes fill the pages. One page in Ephesians even has tape on it. The page ripped, and a wide piece of clear tape was the only way to repair it. My Bible may not be "pretty" but it's a record of my life over the past twelve years, with the ups and downs, the heartaches and the triumphs, nothing held back.

A lot of people are reluctant to mark in their Bibles. They don't want to mar the pages, or maybe they see it as disrespectful. But I see it as an essential part of Bible study. Marking my Bible helps me connect with the truths it contains. It also serves as a concrete reminder of the faith that shapes my life - something my children and even grandchildren can hold onto one day when I'm gone.

I don't have a set-in-stone system for how I mark my Bible. It's evolved over the years and will probably change more as time goes by. There are several things I do:

1. Underlining verses

Have you ever read a verse that just seemed to jump off the page at you? What about a moment when God seems to speak directly to you through a verse or passage you're reading? When I have those "aha" moments, I grab a pen and underline it. Sometimes I'll add other symbols (like inductive study marks) or notes to the side. Other times, it's a simple underline, just enough to catch my eye the next time I read through.

2. Inductive Bible study

I'm a visual learner. When I'm learning something new, I need to see it and try it for myself until I learn. The first time I heard of inductive Bible study, I knew it was just what I needed.

Kay Arthur is the most amazing teacher. Her website is full of free information to help you get started, including an introduction to inductive study. I also highly recommend her books. Inductive study can seem a little overwhelming at first, so if you want to check it out, start small. Choose a short book - Ephesians is a great one - and work through it.

3. Notes in the margins

I was flipping through Psalms as I wrote this post, and I stumbled across notes I'd taken on Psalm 91. I dated it November 17, 2010, with the note "the day I found out about (a family member)." It was a personal situation that shook me to the core. The message my husband preached that night was called "Living in the Secret Place." It was a message full of God's promises - His refuge, His protection, His love. It was exactly what my aching heart needed that night, and it was proof that God heard my cries. He heard them before I even cried out - before I knew what was happening. Those notes are precious to me.

I have a lot of sermon notes in my Bible. A sermon can bring out exactly what I need to hear, or I may find a nugget that I want to study more. See-through Post-It notes are perfect for this!

4. Theme verses

In the front of my Bible, I have a color code for a few key areas. These are the big themes I'm passionate about: prayer, hiding God's Word, remembering what God has done and handing our faith down to the next generation. When I come across a verse that fits into one of those categories, I'll mark the verse number with the corresponding color.

Do you mark in your Bible? Do you use a certain Bible for it and keep a separate one for church, or do you use the same Bible for everything?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Who-Done-It Giveaway

Fall is the perfect time to curl up with a good book - and what can beat a great mystery/suspense novel? I'm so excited to give away SIX amazing books to one lucky reader!

Thanks so much to each and every author for taking part in this. These amazing women have taught me so much about writing. Heather, Bethany, and Sarah were some of my earliest cheerleaders when I started to seriously pursue writing. Amryn, Marcy and Heidi are members of my ACFW critique group. They are all great writers, and I'm so thankful for them.

One lucky reader will win:

Amryn Cross' Learning to Die (ebook)
Learn more about Amryn at her website 

Emily Fox died ten years ago, but she’s not dead enough for Endriago—head of the Colombian drug cartel who murdered her brother while she looked on.
A past she can’t escape…
Now living in Miami as criminalist Kate James and under the protection of the U.S. Marshals, Emily is explosively reunited with her past, propelling her headlong into a web of corruption.
A man who threatens everything…
Two men stand in her way—one threatens her heart, the other her life. Both underestimate her. Because in the race to solve her brother’s murder, she has nothing left to lose.

Marcy's Dyer's Out for Blood (autographed print copy)
Find out more about Marcy at Rollercoaster Suspense

Dialysis nurse, Danielle Battershawn’s, life is turned upside down when her identical twin is murdered. As she strives to deal with yet another death, the killer sets his sights on eliminating her. Can handsome security consultant, Tyler Covington, keep her alive?

Heather Day Gilbert's Miranda Warning (autographed print copy)
Find out more about Heather at

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her. But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer...or the next victim might be Tess herself. Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains' lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series. 

Heidi Glick's Dog Tags (autographed print copy)
Find out more about Heidi at Scintillating Suspense

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

Bethany Macmanus' Six Solitude Road (autographed print copy)
Find out more about Bethany at Creaking Door Suspense

One morning, Kate Marset discovers her seven-year-old student Becca is missing, and all the evidence in her disappearance points to Kate's husband Clint. At the Christian school where Becca disappeared, Kate finds more than one lead the detectives have overlooked. Armed with a Colt .45 and an incriminating flash drive file, Kate struggles to prove Clint innocent in this kidnapping. All the while, her own daughter Janna slips away emotionally. Is something dark at work in the little girl's life? Or is it just growing pains? The only way for Kate to find out is to dig into the layers of sin holding her town, her husband, and her own house captive.

Sarah Varland's Tundra Threat (print copy)
Find out more about Sarah at Espresso in a Latte World

Two murdered men are the last thing wildlife trooper McKenna Clark expected to find in the stark Alaskan wilderness. As the only law enforcement in the area, the responsibility for the case rests on her shoulders—along with the danger. Hunting guide and pilot Will Harrison wants to ease the load, but McKenna balks at the thought of letting him close enough to break her heart again. When McKenna's investigations put her in harm's way, Will must race against the clock to save his second chance at love from becoming the killer's final victim.

Enter through Rafflecopter. Winner be announced via blog and Facebook." rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway