Monday, May 19, 2014

Creating a Bible Study Notebook


You're getting involved in Bible study. You're discovering your style and finding the best way to study. Now the only thing left to do is organize your study materials and notes so you can find the information later. You're ready to create a Bible study notebook.

A simple three ring binder and some divider tabs are all you really need to get started. You'll want to get at least a 1 inch binder - anything less and you'll run out of room too quickly.

I'm a notebook addict. I love pretty binders with beautiful colors and patterns. The new Pink Chandelier line from Walmart is my new favorite, so I picked up a brand new 1 1/2 binder this week:



I've divided mine into five sections:

1. Inspiration

Inspiration is everywhere, so whenever I find a great article or blog post that encourages me in my quiet time, I print it out for my notebook. At the beginning of mine is Ann Voskamp's "Sanity Manifesto" - the post that came when I so desperately needed a reminder to focus on what really matters. Behind it sits the email devotional that first led me to faith journaling several years ago. Find your inspiration and put it in your notebook to remind you of your "why."

2. Scripture Memory

I started this section with a little inspiration, too - tips on how to memorize and review. While I use Scripture Typer for most of my memory work, I've decided to also hand-copy every passage I memorize and keep it in this section. It's easier to review a large chunk of verses this way.

3. Word Studies

Doing organized, in depth word studies is something new that I'm adding to my study time. Each word will have its own page that I can add to it no matter what book or topic I'm studying at the time.

4. Inductive Study

Since this is my favorite study method, I have a section just for notes on inductive study. I also keep a chart of the symbols and colors I use so I can quickly find what each one means.

5. Book Studies

This is for my current Bible study. Right now, I'm obsessed with the book of Ephesians. Once I'm done studying it, I will move my notes to their own separate notebook.



And that's all you need. You can add more or less tabs to personalize your notebook, but in a few minutes you can have an easy to use, organized system for keeping all your Bible study notes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spiritual Misfit, Week 2: My Excel Spreadsheet Life

This post was supposed to go up last week, but I found myself in the middle of a last-minute decision to have a yard sale...which is why this post went up a week late. Sorry, everyone. I will stay on track this time!

God has a sense of humor. I think it comes out a lot when we fall in love. When I met my husband, I was a nineteen year old vegetarian studying English literature and spending most of my spare time reading books or riding horses and working in the barn. He was an avid deer hunter who only read fiction when forced to - and he was already a pastor. A painfully shy girl like me wasn't exactly pastor's wife material. But God had other plans.

I thought I had it all worked out. I would finish both my bachelor's degree and my master's before settling down. I would date the love of my life for at least a year before getting engaged. We would get married, have several kids and settle down on a large farm, where I would become a writer.

I'm pretty sure God heard those plans and laughed. A lot.

I met my husband when I was nineteen and he was twenty-four. We were friends - okay, actually, he was my pastor and we became friends during that time - for a year. Then he moved to another church an hour away, and my world crumbled. Suddenly I realized that my feelings were not longer just about friendship. He obviously felt the same way, because three weeks after he moved, he called and asked me for our first date. Less than a month after our first date, I had an engagement ring on my finger, and three months later, I became a pastor's wife.

It was a rude awakening. Some moments were funny...like the time I said "I'll pass" when asked to pray. (I'll share that story when I guest post on Michelle's blog later this summer.) Some were painful...let's just say that pastor's wives aren't always treated by the Golden Rule. Suddenly the girl who spent almost 20 years living in the same house, the girl who treasured stability and routine, moved three times in less than two years. We would go on to move four more times in the next five years - sometimes across town, sometimes across the state, and finally out of state.

As Michelle says, "I have liked a precisely ordered universe. I crave order and structure...and have an unflagging zest for control." Suddenly I knew that I wasn't in control of anything - and I think that was God's plan all along. He doesn't like to leave us in our comfort zones. Looking back, I can see that He had a perfect plan all along...I just wish I'd realized that sooner!

What has God done to take you out of your comfort zone?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

First Grace

I STILL HATE PICKLES

50/50. Those were the survival odds the doctor gave me and my mom. After three days of labor, seventy-two hours of agonizing pain, three days of a doctor insisting my mom could have a "natural" birth despite so little progression, the odds weren't good. When a new doctor arrived and rushed us into emergency surgery, he wasn't sure either of us would make it. 

I came into the world a perfectly healthy bundle of eight pounds, covered already in God's grace from my first breath. From even before. I had no damage from our ordeal, not a single health problem.

But I didn't have a name. 

I did, but it didn't work. In the days before ultrasounds, it was all guesswork, but I was supposed to be Jeremy Wayne. The revelation that their only child was wrapped in pink, not blue, left my parents scrambling for a new name. My mom chose Christy Lynn, but my dad had a last minute change of heart. He chose Amanda Michelle.

I don't believe for a second that my name was an accident. My parents didn't know the meaning of it. They didn't have time to research it, like my husband and I did before our boys were born. They just liked it. It wasn't until middle school that I learned the meaning:

Amanda - worthy of love
Michelle - who is like God

Worthy of love. Growing up, I felt anything but worthy of love. I was the skinny, painfully shy, clumsy kid, the one who never quite fit in. Not talented. Not pretty. Not anything special. Just a misfit.

But from the beginning, God saw something else. He saw a little girl with a broken heart and dreams bigger than herself. He knew me.

I wonder sometimes - when did He first think of me? 

He knew me when He spoke the earth into existence, before Adam took his first breath. 

When Jesus went to the cross, when He walked up the hill to Golgotha to be tortured and killed, He knew me - and He knew I would need grace. He gave His life so He could inscribe me on His hands forever.

Before my parents met, before they were born, before their parents were born, He knew me. He knew that from a tangled mess of sinners and praying parents and changed lives would come a little girl who was supposed to be Jeremy Wayne.

He knew me, the little girl who would put her life into His hands. He knew I would mess up over and over, running back to Him for more grace. He knew I would battle fear, taking trembling steps forward, sometimes moving ahead and sometimes cowering in terror. He knew the feelings I would have - that I was worthless, unwanted, unloved. So He gave me a name that would remind me every day that I am loved - Amanda, worthy of love. 

Grace from the first breath. From even before. Grace I can't even begin to wrap my heart around.

It's all grace. Every moment, every breath, every heartbeat is grace. From the first to the last.