My Year-Long Journey in Bible Study

Ladies and Gentlemen,

*Can I get a drum roll please???*

Ahhhemmm!!!!  *clears throat*

Okay. Do I have everyone's attention now?  This is kind of a HUGE deal, so listen up!  (or just continue reading...that works too)

Today is the day!  Yes, TODAY!  I've been on a very llllloooooonnnnnnnggggg (but very rewarding) journey following God and deepening my relationship with Him and my faith.  For a while now, I've been searching for the perfect Bible for me to dive into, head first - throwing caution into the wind and all!  Well, as many of you might be aware, bibles aren't cheap! *opens wallet* *crickets chirping*.  Seriously though, they are expensive, and I am poor.  Not a very good combination!  But, sacrifices were made (I sure am hungry...) and I was able to finally purchase the Bible that I fell in love with!  Now, I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, "How do you fall in love with a Bible?"  It's easy, folks!  First of all, it is the Word of God.  Hello?!?!  But it's also not a 'boring', 'black' Bible.  It's rich with color, footnotes, end notes, spark notes (oops, I got a bit carried away with the notes!).  Okay, not spark notes, but you get my point.  It has so many extra features, seeing as it's more of a Life Application and Study Bible than just an ordinary Bible.  That means many, many people have put hours and hours of their time and effort (blood, sweat, and tears included) into this compilation for those like me to learn more about the Word of God and deepen my faith even more.  (I know, my head is spinning just THINKING about it!)  It's also specifically formatted to appeal to women.  Yes, it's a BIBLE for WOMEN! (I'm pumped!!)  It's a 'True Identity' Bible.  It's to help women deal with life issues by defining their true identity in Christ through his Word.  Once we as women understand who we are in God's eyes, who we are because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can begin to see ourselves and our lives differently.  And when we root our identities in Christ, we have the freedom, security and confidence to deal with the issues in our lives and not be overcome by them.

Here are a few features of this bible:
1.  It's relevant to my life.  The features of this Bible are both intellectually stimulating and relevant to everyday life.  You won't find dry study notes that don't tie to life or feel-good devotions that don't tie to the Bible.  You'll find personal, sophisticated, honest, practical advice.  You''ll find relevance, redefined.  (Hey, I'm just going by what it's telling me!) 

2.  Created for women.  True Identity was written for Christian women in their twenties and thirties, with an emphasis on the issues women face during these years, such as career, dating, marriage, children, changing friendships, moving, etc.  This is a time of transition for women.  Other women outside this demographic will also relate to the issues and decide that this is the Bible for them. (Awesome!)

3.  100 Myths.  Every day, you hear (and subconsciously believe) myths that the world tells you.  Satan's tried-and-true weapon against you is lies.  In this Bible, 100 of the most common myths are exposed.  for each "Myth," you'll read a story (based on true stories of women's lives) about how believing that myth affected the woman's life.  Then you'll explore what God's Word says so that the next time you hear the myth, you can name the lie and replace it with the truth.  (relevancy, people!  relevancy)

4.  30 Ask Me Anything.  Hannah struggled with infertility.  Leah lived in a loveless marriage.  Deborah found a way to be a leader in a man's world.  If you could sit down with the women of the Bible and have a one-on-one conversation, what would you ask them?  The dates they lived?  The historical context of their stories?  Wouldn't you rather know how they dealt with the issues in their lives and what God taught them?  The "Ask Me Anything" profiles are intimate interviews with the women of Scripture, as if they're your own friend or mentor.  (Let's do this! ...and, mentor?  I apologize in advance...) 

5.  200 Conversations.  Do you ever find yourself skimming over the top of a familiar passage of Scripture and wondering what you're missing?  "Conversations" give you penetrating questions to reflect on, either alone as you read the Bible or as you discuss Scripture with a friend, group, or mentor.  (truly understanding the Word)

6.  200 He Is.  If your identify is rooted in God, then it's important to know who he is.  The first part of each "He Is" note introduces you to God as he reveals himself in Scripture.  The second part of the note teaches how that attribute of God affects who you are and how you think and live.  (deepening my relationship by knowing who He is) 

7.  300 At Issue.  What does the Bible say about _____ (money, friendships, gossip, shopping, dating, etc.)?  These short, hard-hitting notes on life topics bring you the Bible's teaching on the varied and sundry issues of life.  (relevancy & life application, at its finest) 

8.  66 Book Introductions.  For each of the 66 Bible books, you'll find quick facts that help you put the book in context (author, audience, date, setting, verse to remember and theme to consider).  You'll also find in-depth questions to consider as you read the book-which will add depth to your Bible study and help you remember what you're reading. (score!)

9.  Articles.  Have you tried to have a consistent quiet time...and failed?  Do you long to have, or to be, a mentor?  Do you wonder how to share your faith in a more natural way?  Do you need ideas for what to read in the Bible?  In the back of your Bible are a topical index and suggested Bible reading plans to help you get the most out of your time with God.  (I chose a 52-week reading plan that did not come with this particular Bible, but we'll see how it goes!) 

Okay, now if you're not excited to begin this journey will all of these helpful, exciting, relevant features, then you may leave now.  Seriously, get off of my blog.  Goodbye.

Now that we have only those that are STOKED to begin, let's do this!  Now, I will explain the 52-week Bible reading plan that I chose.  It's actually a common one I found by just googling 'read the Bible in one year'.  It came in PDF format, so I printed it, and voila!  Bible plan set in place.  Every day of the week is set aside for a different genre: Sunday - Epistles, Monday - The Law, Tuesday - History, Wednesday - Psalms, Thursday - Poetry, Friday - Prophecy, and Saturday - Gospels.  So, there you have it, in a nutshell.  In one year/52 weeks/365 days, I will have gone through such an extensive but important journey and will have a deeper understanding of His Word and how to use and read the Bible and relate it to my life and today's issues.

So, let's begin!  Ready, set, GO!

God's Grace

I feel kind of all over the place lately.  Not in the physical sense, but emotionally and spiritually.  However, I'm working diligently to change that.  I participated in a bible study last week during my lunch hour and it opened my eyes to some very amazing things.  Finances allowing, I am going to vow to a daily devotional and really seek God's work in my life.  

I participated in the Relay for Life in LaGrange this past weekend.  It was exhausting and emotionally draining, but it was for a great cause and I really enjoyed being a part of it.  It was uplifting to see so many cancer survivors and to know that so many had fought such a ferocious battle and won, with several of them having to had fight again when a second cancer showed up.  I admit it was heartbreaking, but it was reassuring that so many had been struck by the disease and fought with everything they had - and won.  Although my grandpa wasn't present at this function, he is a cancer survivor of at least 17 years.  And with so much research and early testing being done these days, many more lives are being saved!  I felt so honored to be a part of such a great cause.  I know that we are so far from a cure (or we may not be, we don't really know, now, do we?), but the fact that the town of LaGrange, TX had raised over $1,000,000 in only TEN years is so amazing!  So many great things have been done with the funds, and they're still going!  It was uplifting to have felt the hand of God touching them.  The only time I was personally effected by the disease was the several trips to the hospital to visit my grandmother.  The picture of her so ill in that bed is still so very clear in my head even though I was so young and didn't fully grasp the gravity of the situation - or what was even going on.  I miss her so much, and tears still come to my eyes every single time I see a picture of her.  She was such a strong and inspirational woman, and that will forever have a strong impact of who I am and want to become.  But it also goes to show that it doesn't matter how strong you are, there are some things that strength can make easier but cannot cure or fix - Cancer is one of them.  I'm so mad that she was taken by cancer, but I know that she fought to the end and she was at peace and pain-free when she left this world.  Seeing every single of those cancer survivors this weekend shows that God continues to work through everyone and helps to understand why things happen the way they do.  By His will, those survivors made it.  He made it possible for the participants to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.  He made it possible for those funds to be placed in the hands of those who knew which area was weakest. He made it possible for researchers, doctors, scientists, and nurses to further understand the disease and the ways in which we can fight it and make it a little easier on those affected, be it those with the disease or the caregivers, friends, families, etc.  By His will, we have a world with more birthdays.  

A few months ago, my brother told me about a radio station that his girlfriend found and suggested to him: 105.9.  I began listening, and I really do like it.  However, trying to remember what station it was a few weeks ago, I stumbled across K-LOVE 106.3.  So, on my way home last night from my parents' house, I tuned the radio to 106.3 and was floored.  Not that I was struggling and REALLY needed the inspiration, but something made me tune in, and I was so glad that I did.  Matthew West's 'Forgiveness' came on, and I was really struck by the lyrics - and they came alive in me: 

It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve

It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...


It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge 
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible

It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it's power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

I don't feel that I'm currently burdened by holding a grudge with anyone (that I can recall), but part of the chorus still stuck with me.  Show me how to love the unlovable.  Show me how to reach the unreachable.  Not only is this song about forgiveness, but it's about reaching past the insecurities, looking past your initial reactions to certain people and their situation and helping them.  It's about loving someone who has been unlovable.  It's about reaching someone that's been unreachable.  Don't give up.  Just because someone may be having a truly bad day doesn't make them unworthy of God's love or your time.  It means you should try harder to be a little more accommodating or to look past the cold shoulder and place the faith of God in their path so that they may see it's all a part of His plan.  So, not only should you forgive those who have hurt you and have burdened you with frustration and pain, but you should love them despite the hurt.  Love them despite the bitterness you have in your heart for them.  Show them love instead of hate.  Show them that despite the way they made you feel, you are able to be strengthened by God and really move past the petty differences.  I know that some occurrences of pain and hurt aren't so petty and really cut to the core, but if you are able to still forgive the bigger instances of pain and hurt, the stronger you are and become.  

The DJ last night on the radio show (K-LOVE - I absolutely love the title of their station) then told a story that a listener had emailed to him: 
     A woman and her husband had gone to the grocery store when they noticed the employee retrieving the carts from the parking lot.  The woman observed  that the shoes he was wearing were very worn and falling apart.  As they continued into the store, she could not shake the image of the employee's shoes.  So, after checking out, she convinced her husband to go up to the boy and ask him what size shoes he wears.  He was taken aback and unaware of what point the couple was making - he assumed they were making fun of his current shoes and the fact that he could not afford to buy new ones.  Despite this, he told the husband and went about his work.  As the woman was emailing the DJ of the show, she stated that her husband was on his way at that time to the grocery store with a brand new pair of white sneakers and a slightly worn pair of (I think he said) Toms for the boy.  

How completely unselfish of this couple to spend a few dollars to show this boy God's love and prove him wrong - not everyone uses his financial situation as their humor.  This employee was placed in this couple's path for them to share their faith and to use God's grace to give him a pair of shoes that would support his feet in his work.  This story is a great reminder that there are so many people in this world that are in need of His good graces!  This couple did not snuff their nose at the boy's attire, but instead, they chose to take the opportunity that was presented in front of them to make a difference in the boy's life.  They also show that it's not hard to do.  Let's face it, to help someone in that situation, the boy didn't need the latest fashions or the best thing in foot apparel.  He just needed support for his feet.  So, what did it cost the couple?  Maybe $30 or so?  And how worth it!  This is a truly inspiring story - this is not an example of a heroic feat, but rather one of just being kind to those around us that are struggling and in such need of warmth and compassion.  
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