What I Gather About 2013

rg_quotes-2013

This year on January 1st I sat down with my husband and spent several hours discussing the ups and downs of 2013 and setting goals for 2014.  After a long break from blogging, I thought this would be a good time to share some things that worked for me in 2013.  Soon I will also share some goals I have for the coming year.

Health:

1.  The Paleo diet.  Nothing in my 32 years of existence has brought about more positive changes in my body than our radical change in eating habits.  I’m reluctant to call it a “diet” because we have become so accustomed to eating this way that it feels very natural.  I have more energy, have lost nearly 30 pounds, sleep better, feel alert and don’t have any digestive issues.  Several weeks of eating cruddy, sugar-laden food at Christmastime left me feeling bloated, tired, foggy and depressed.  This Paleo lifestyle is here to stay.

2.  The Whole 30.  Thirty days of saying no all sugar and processed food did wonders for my sugar addiction.  I was amazed at how little I craved foods I have always craved after even a week of adhering to the Whole 30 plan.  I highly recommend The Whole 30 for anyone who needs to reset their nutritional habits or kick their sugar addiction.

3.  Food.  Who am I kidding?  Food always works for me!  There were some clear winners, though, in 2013…. foods that I rediscovered or helped me meet my goals or made the Paleo lifestyle a breeze.  My favorites?  Brussels sprouts, eggs, dates, Lara bars, bacon, prosciutto, greens (especially kale, spinach, and beet greens), chicken sausages, pistachios, sweet peppers and organic ground beef.  Yum.

Books:

IMG_1103

1.  Bread and Wine  by Shauna Niequist.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  It inspired me to open my home and my heart to friends, neighbors and even strangers.

2.  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.  I am a huge Kingsolver fan and this book didn’t disappoint.

IMG_0822

3.  Prototype by Jonathan Martin.  I closed this book feeling more beloved by God.  My eyes were opened to the way God sees and loves me.

4.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This was such a fun book, full of whimsy and mystery.  I couldn’t put it down.  Thankfully I read it on vacation and was able to read all hours of the day and night to finish it!

IMG_1113

5. Saturday by Ian McEwan.  This book was beautiful and descriptive and made me want to become a novelist.

Personally:

1.  Transparency.  It has been a challenge blogging about some of my biggest struggles and insecurities, but I have found it to be extremely therapeutic.  I find myself working through my feelings as I write them out for the world to see.  Thank you to all of you Rachael Gathers readers, for your e-mails, comments, phone calls and shares.  You let me know that I am not alone and I draw so much courage and encouragement from your stories.

2.  Letting go.  This has been a  year that forced me to recognize that not everyone is going to like me, approve of me, or support me.  I will admit this has been a hard lesson to learn, but it is an essential lesson for us all.  I have found great peace and comfort in the love and acceptance I find in Jesus Christ and am trying not to care so much what everyone else thinks.  

Spiritually:

1.  Reading through the Bible in a year.  I didn’t quite finish on time, but I am almost done!  While this doesn’t take the place of Bible study, it was really good for me to be disciplined about reading the Bible nearly every day.  The app I used on my iPhone was extremely helpful in this regard.

2.  Creating a list of priorities.  This may have brought about the biggest change for me this year.  I didn’t see a drastic change in my behavior immediately, but rather a change in my thinking.  I began to think about what is important in my life based on time spent in prayer and study.  This has allowed me to evaluate many aspects of my life and begin to say no more often.

On the Blog:

Being flexible.  I am a very goal-oriented person, so I have felt a huge amount of frustration at not being able to plan posts better.  With my family, job, planting a church, and various other commitments, I have had to come to terms with blogging when I am able.  I try not to pay attention to stats and just enjoy posting when I can.  Mostly I enjoy the comments and feedback from all of you!

With that said, here are my ten most popular posts from 2013:

1.  Gathering Ideas for a Shabby Chic Bedroom

2.  A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

3.  Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower

4.  A Gathering of Goodwill Finds:  Kitchen and Dining Edition

5.  I Gather a Letter of Love (Happy Birthday, Jimmie!)

6.  A Gathering of Goodwill Finds:  Dress Edition

7.  A Gathering of Bible Study Methods

8. Gathering Delight

9.  What I Gather About Chelsea

10.  What I Gather About Women of Valor

Many of these were popular thanks to Pinterest.  Thanks to those of you who pin my blog posts!

___________________________________________

There is a look back at some of the things that worked best for me in 2013.  I can’t wait to share with you some of my goals for 2014!

What about you?  What did you learn in 2013?  Was there anything that really worked well for you?  I would love to hear about it!

sig

 

 

Emmanuel, God With Us

Emmanuel
I have been listening to a song on repeat over the last couple of weeks. It is called I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad.  It is beautiful and profound and you can watch the video here.  Here are the lyrics I can’t seem to get out of my head:

“From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God”

______________________________________________

Jesus has been dealing with my heart for several years about Christmas and the way we celebrate.  When I came across this blog post by Jen Hatmaker a couple of years ago, I both rejoiced and wept, thrilled that someone put into words what I felt in the depths of my spirit.

I am weary of the culture of more.  I am weary of the culture of excess.  I am weary of materialism and greed and un-gratefulness.  I am weary of mile long Christmas lists and unappreciative children.  My heart grieves at the excess all around me compared to the desperate needs of my own brothers and sisters who know me by name in Cuba.  I am saddened by the overabundance of holiday parties and food when the orphan I sponsored in Uganda died, most likely of hunger.  My heart is heavy and yet I know there is a better way.

My heart is whispering this prayer to my Savior…… I shall not want.

When I find myself scouring Pinterest for ideas to make my house more beautiful and my tree even more festive,

I shall not want.

When I try to give my children a memorable Christmas by purchasing toys instead of celebrating the blessed birth,

I shall not want.

When I pack my schedule full of activities and parties, trying to capture our society’s definition of a successful holiday,

I shall not want.

You see, in the 23rd Psalm, the first verse goes hand in hand.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

When I allow him to be my shepherd and guide, what could my heart possibly desire?  Emmanuel has come.  God is with us and we already have all that we need.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.  For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

This is what it is all about.  I will rejoice and be glad that the new morning has dawned.  In my moments of sorrow, Emmanuel, God with us.  In my moments of loneliness, Emmanuel, God with us.  In my moments of greed, Emmanuel, God with us.  God is here and he alone is what I need.

As the song so beautifully says, “When I taste your goodness, I shall not want.”

_______________________________________

What I DO want this holiday season?

I want a home full of daily scripture readings leading up to the celebration of the blessed birth.

I want moments of meditation with the family, sensing the sacredness of the celebration.

I want to bless others the way I have been blessed in abundance.

I want to give and serve and love.

I want to cry and feel peace flood my soul when we sing about the Silent Night.

I want to gather together and sing out the praises of Jesus, God himself wrapped in flesh.

I want to sit and partake of the bread and the wine in remembrance of Emmanuel, God With Us.

And so I pray.

When I taste your goodness, I shall not want all of the things.  I shall want you and you alone.

_________________________________________________

What are you doing this year to keep the celebration sacred?  I would love your feedback!

sig
Missed any posts?  Here are the most recent:

What I Gather About Whole 30

Dear Dad, Letter 4 (on cancer and trust)

What I Gather About Priorities

You can also follow Rachael Gathers via e-mail HERE!

What I Gather About Priorities

priorities

I was having one of those months.  Even though my calendar told me there was enough time to fulfill my commitments, my body and spirit were telling me otherwise.

All good things.

When I can help, I want to help.  It’s hard for me to come up with excuses to get out of doing things that matter.  It is in my nature to jump in and give my all, especially when it is for a good cause.

And yet…

My spirit wasn’t at rest.  I was feeling unsettled, foggy, tense.  My muscles were aching, my temper was short and I felt resentment creeping up in me.

My heart was crying out to God for an answer, for help, for a life boat.

(Enter the still, small voice of a gentle Savior)

So I sat down and made a priority list.  I have never done this in my life.  I have had a vague internal list of priorities in my head, but never anything concrete… never anything I could point to and say “No.  I can’t do that.  See?  It’s not on my list.”

I kept my list to ten items.  Of course, these ten items have sub-categories, so really my list is a lot longer than ten, but setting the limit at ten things made me feel sane again.  What made my list?  Here they are:

1. My relationship with God

2. My Marriage

3. My Family

4. Serving Others

5. Gathering

6. Missions

7. Myself

8. My Blog

9. Young Lives

10. Work

Let me make it really clear… ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME.  The things that aren’t so important to me didn’t make the list (unless they are a sub-category).  This list is a work in progress, and I am asking God for help in any edits I make.  During this process I have learned a few things.

1.  My current lifestyle doesn’t match up to my priorities list.  My relationship with God may be number one on my list, but there are days when God gets only the leftovers of my time and energy, if He gets anything at all.  I may say that my family is more important than my church, but when I go days without spending quality time with my kids because of church commitments, something is wrong.  This current list may not reflect where I am currently am, but it gives me a guideline to follow for where I want to end up.

2.  Numbering my priorities gives me power.  Mostly, it gives me power to say no.  If something isn’t on my list, unless it is really important, I’m not investing my time into it.  Of course, my priority list must be in alignment with scripture and how I feel God leading me.  If I make my blog number one on my list and say no to other things, I need God to hit me over the head with something.  My priorities must align with His.

3.  A priority list helps me get organized.  Even though I was busy all the time before I made my list, I didn’t really understand just how much I was committed to.  Putting it on paper was my wake-up call to get my life organized.  I made some changes on my calendar, made a decision to eliminate some distractions, and got busy.

I’m really thankful God led me to take a step back and examine my life.  I never want to get so busy that I can’t rest in His presence.  I never want to be doing so many  good things that I forget why I’m doing them.  I never want to have a mile long to-do list and in turn see the most important things suffer.  My prayer is for God to help me keep my priorities in check and always be in alignment with His purpose for me.

______________________________________________

What about you?  Do you have a priority list?  Do you have a hard time saying no?  Do you see that your priorities are not in alignment with the Word of God?  What steps have you or can you take to get your priorities in check?  I would love your feedback!

sig

Missed any posts?  Here are the most recent:

A Gathering of Vacation Reads

We Are Gathering

Dear Dad, Letter 3

 

Using The Lord’s Prayer as a Pattern

Lord's-Prayer

When I reflect on my life and progression as a follower of Jesus, few things show such marked growth as my prayer life.  I don’t say that to impress you, let me assure you.  My prayer life has highs and lows, lulls and progressions, and even shallowness and depth.

My parents taught me to pray by example.  They were a praying set.  One of my fondest memories of my dad is hearing him in the prayer room before church, praying in Spanish.  Now I often do the same.  My early prayers were typically selfish and short, but I imagine God was pleased that I was talking to him at all.  As I grew up, I prayed for longer periods of time, with a bit more consistency and more on the behalf of others.

In my teenage years, I heard a message on using The Lord’s Prayer as a pattern in our prayer lives.  My prayers have never been the same.

Just think about it, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Jesus himself responds and says, “pray like this.”  Whatever follows the “like this” is pretty important in my book.  Jesus wasn’t asking us to recite word for word the prayer time after time.   He was giving us an important glimpse into the spiritual realm and how we should be spending our time in communication with God.

Here is my very brief take on using the Lord’s prayer as a pattern. (You can see Matthew 6 and Luke 11 to read the prayer in context.)  There is a lot of information on this topic in books and online if you’d like to know more.  I also have a printable guide to stick into your Bible.  If you’re interested, e-mail me at rachael@wearegathering.org

Our Father in heaven

We recognize we are talking to our heavenly father who loves us and wants what is best for us.

We acknowledge this and thank him.

Hallowed be your name

A time for worship and praise.

His name deserves to be glorified.

We enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

We align ourselves with the plan and purpose of God.

Not my will but yours be done.

Pray for God’s kingdom to come to our lives, our church, & our world.

We desire to glorify God by making disciples of all nations.

Give us this day our daily bread

A time to bring our requests before God.

Recognize he knows what we need before we even ask.

Our requests should align with the plan of God.

And forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors

Acknowledge any bitterness or anger we are harboring.

Forgive the person and pray for them.

Only then do we repent and ask for forgiveness.

We turn away from our sin toward God.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

Pray for the enemy to have no place in our lives.

Pray for God to empower us to walk in righteousness and holiness.

(Doxology) For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

We can end our prayer with worship and praise.

We ask all in the name of Jesus.

____________________________________________

There are a few components of the Lord’s prayer that are important to notice.  First, notice the pronouns.  Jesus used “our” and “us” instead of “my” and “me.”  We should not be selfish in our prayers!  Including others in every component of our prayer time allows others to benefit from our prayers.  I often pray on behalf of my family, my community, my church and the global church.

As I have matured a bit in my prayer life, I have recognized that most of this pattern in the Lord’s prayer is devoted to getting my heart right.  I used to spend so much time praying for my list of wants and needs.  Now, I spend the majority of my time in repentance, acknowledging that God is Lord of my life, and aligning my life with HIS purpose and will.  When I take the time to get my heart aligned with the plan of God, my requests naturally are in alignment with his will.  When I am in a flow of the Spirit during my prayer time, I don’t necessarily have to spend an hour giving God my list of requests.  I simply speak them in faith, believing that God knows what I need before I even ask.

___________________________________________

There are certainly other forms of prayer, some of which I will cover in a post next week.  However, the Lord’s Prayer is what I come back to time after time in my prayer life.  I pepper in meditation, journaling, intercession, common prayers, and praying Scripture, but the majority of my prayer time follows this simple yet profound pattern.  Who, after all, is more qualified to teach us to pray than Jesus himself?

What about you?  Do you use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern during your prayer time?  What other forms of prayer do you practice?  I would love your feedback!

sig

 

 

 

Missed any posts?  Here are the most recent:

Dear Dad, Letter 2

Gathering Fashion Inspiration

You can also FOLLOW ME HERE via e-mail subscription.

 

I Gather a Prayer for Zion

IMG_0171

Our friends and neighbors, Norma and Fidelis, just had a beautiful baby boy.  His name is Zion.  My new practice is to write a prayer for any baby born to a friend of mine.  I base the prayer off of a name or something felt in prayer.  In this instance, my prayer is based off of Zion’s name.  And I have to tell you, I felt the power of God so strongly as I researched scripture for this prayer.  I can’t wait to see what ministry this precious baby boy turns out to have in the kingdom of God.  So, Zion Jude, this is the prayer I gathered for you.

__________________________________________________________________

May you be a holy foundation from which others may rise up (Psalms 2:6)

May the Lord forever sit enthroned upon your heart (Psalms 9:11)

May you always rejoice in the salvation of the Lord and recount all of his praises (Psalms 9:14)

May the salvation of many be birthed out of your ministry (Psalms 14:7)

May your life and ministry always be a support to other believers (Psalms 20:2)

May the great king dwell in your heart and bring joy to all the earth (Psalms 48:2)

May you always be glad (Psalms 48:11)

May God always shine forth out of you, the perfection of beauty (Psalms 50:2)

May the vows you make to God always be performed (Psalms 65:1)

May God’s residence be established in you (Psalms 76:2)

May God always choose you and love you (Psalms 78:68)

May you hear the judgments of God and be glad (Psalms 97:8)

May you forever declare the name of the Lord and his praise (Psalms 102:21)

May you trust in the Lord and not be moved (Psalms 125:1)

May you be glad in your maker and rejoice in your king (Psalms 149:2)

May the word of the Lord and the law be proclaimed from your mouth (Isaiah 2:3)

May you shout and sing for joy, recognizing the Holy One of Israel is in your midst (Isaiah 12:6)

May the fear of the Lord be your treasure (Isaiah 33:6)

May the voice of the Lord roar from you, that the heavens and the earth quake (Joel 3:16)

And finally, Zion…..

GO ON UP TO A HIGH MOUNTAIN, O ZION, HERALD OF GOOD NEWS; LIFT IT UP, FEAR NOT; SAY TO THE CITIES OF JUDAH, “BEHOLD YOUR GOD! BEHOLD THE LORD COMES WITH MIGHT, AND HIS ARM RULES FOR HIM; BEHOLD, HIS REWARD IS WITH HIM, AND HIS RECOMPENSE BEFORE HIM. HE WILL TEND HIS FLOCK LIKE A SHEPHERD; HE WILL GATHER THE LAMBS IN HIS ARMS; HE WILL CARRY THEM IN HIS BOSOM, AND GENTLY LEAD THOSE THAT ARE WITH YOUNG.” (Isaiah 40:9-11)

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

A Gathering of Links IX

blog2-1

Happy Monday to you all!  It is a beautiful, warm, sunny day in central Indiana and I couldn’t be happier about it!  We have a lot going on in our world.  Friday we had a Mad Men themed going away party for my niece, which was a blast.  We had a huge turnout for the community garden workday last week.  Ava is taking ISTEP this week and Isabel is at a campground with my mom.  I am trying to soak in all the time I can with my niece before she (*tear) moves out.

I have lots of great links to share with you today, but first I want to share some exciting news….

Agnes-age-10-ref#81

Agnes has a sponsor! A huge THANK YOU to the special family who will be making an impact on this precious girl’s life. I can’t thank you enough. I had hoped to have more sponsors by now, but I believe the seed has been planted and we will see more of these kids sponsored very soon! (If you are interested and missed our big promotion, please see this SPONSOR AN ORPHAN link)

Also, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the way all of you received my most popular post of the week, A (Re)Gathering of Faith.  It was my most popular post in the history of Rachael Gathers, thanks to all of your shares.  I was so moved by the comments and messages I received from so many of you responding to my story.  Sometimes I hesitate before I hit “publish” on personal stories, but the feedback from you reminded me that we all struggle and we can draw strength from the testimonies of one another.

So, let’s get to it!  Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and check out some of the best links from the WWW this week!

Spiritual Inspiration:

From Winn Collier, Revolutionary Shepherd.

At Mary DeMuth, Candace’s Crazy Beautiful Story of Healing.

From A Deeper Church, Not Just Bread, Not Just Wine.

From Narrow Paths to Higher Places, On Loving Well: A Stone’s Throw Pt. 1.

At A Holy Experience, 6 Books When You’re Looking for Change.

From Sarah Bessey, In Which We Need to Ask Questions that Have No Answers.

Food Love:

At A Cozy Kitchen, The Best Tabbouleh Salad.

For Laughs:

At It Just Gets Stranger, Dear Vague Facebook Status Poster.

And my very favorite post of the week, beautiful and challenging and straight from the Bible:

From Brian D. McLaren, a compilation of “one another’s” in the New Testament.

What have you been into this week?  I would love your comments about your favorite blogs, books, TV shows, movies or activities these days.  Have a blessed week!

sig

Have you subscribed to Rachael Gathers? If not, you can do so HERE and receive e-mail updates of new blog posts.

Gathering Strength from Psalm 42

IMG_2846 As a deer pants for flowing streams,

so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,

while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

These things I remember,

as I pour out my soul:

how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise,

a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down,

O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God;

for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;

therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep

at the roar of your waterfalls;

all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,

and at night his song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock:

“Why have you forgotten me?

Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

As with a deadly wound in my bones,

my adversaries taunt me,

while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down,

O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God;

for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Psalms 42

Yesterday before I heard the news from Boston, I was sitting on my front porch reading the Bible.  I came to Psalms 42 and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the words and the presence of God.  I couldn’t take my eyes off this psalm.  It brought comfort and strength.

Later, after hearing about the tragedy in Boston, I re-read it and it brought strength again.  Sometimes I have nothing to say, because the Word of God says it all.  I hope someone finds peace and strength in this passage.  Join me in praying for those impacted by the tragedy in Boston yesterday.

sig

 

 

(Subscribe to Rachael Gathers HERE and receive a link to new posts in your inbox!)

A Gathering of Bible Study Methods

IMG_2680

I was a young teenager the night my parents came into the guest room.  Our company was staying in my room, so I was moved to the guest room for a few days.  I don’t know why they came in or why I pretended to be asleep, but I heard them proudly comment about the open Bible on the nightstand next to my bed.

I grew up believing it was important to read the Bible every day, and so being the good little pastor’s daughter I was, that’s what I tried to do.  Many nights I would read one scripture, filling my quota for the day.  Other times I would read a chapter or two.  While I realize that kind of Bible reading was simply a chore to be accomplished, I am so thankful for parents and a church who instilled in me the desire to read God’s word.  I am thankful for that, because down the road reading the Bible turned from being  a drudgery into being a delight.

Today, my Bible study is somewhat sporatic.  I read nearly every day, but how deep I get into study depends on many factors, including my mood, the time I have, how hungry I feel for God’s Word, and how interesting the material I am studying is to me at the moment.  I was blessed to be exposed to several great study methods at my last church, and have picked up a few study methods on my own.  I want to share those with you.

1.  Journaling  – For this method, I would highly recommend Jen Hatmaker’s book, A Modern Girls’ Guide to Bible Study.  She gives lots of great tips and gets the reader motivated and equipped to dive in, all while being hilarious and relating to her readers.  I love journaling in general, so this method works well for me.  Armed with a great study Bible, and anything from commentaries to dictionaries to history books… this method allows me to study at my own pace, researching and journaling the historical context and cross references.  It also allows me to journal how a specific verse or passage makes me feel and how I can apply it to my life.  I have formally been through the book of James and Ephesians using this method, and have informally journaled through other passages and scriptures.  If you love to journal, give this method a try.

IMG_2686 IMG_2685

2.  Read Through the Bible in a Year -  I have started and failed this method many times!  This is not my preferred method of study, because typically you are reading quickly through a large quantity of scriptures each day.  I like to reflect when I read, and I often find myself hurrying through the day’s reading just to get it done.  However, I have committed to reading through my Bible this year using the Bible in One Year app for my iPhone, and so far… I love it.  The app makes it so easy, giving me a selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament and either Psalms or Proverbs each day.  Yes, I need to supplement my daily readings with in-depth study, but I am excited to see my daily progress, reading the Bible as one whole story.  I know I can make it!!

3.  Small Group Bible Study - Our home small group has been working our way through the Chronological Guide to the Bible for over a year now!  Each week we read and discuss whatever happens next chronologically.  It has taken a lot of time, but I love that everyone in our groups is reading through the same part of the Bible at the same time.  I gain so much knowledge from the insights of others.  There is also a Chronological Study Bible that goes along with the book.  I don’t have the study Bible, but some people do, and seem to like it.  We are only in Ezekiel, so this has been a huge undertaking.  It will be exciting at the end to say we have basically discussed the entire Bible!

IMG_2682

4. The Message – Last fall, I realized that I had to be more intentional about teaching and training my children about the Bible.  I had too often skirted my responsibility in that area and hoped the church would take up the slack.  I hadn’t quite decided the approach to take, so one night, I picked up The Message Bible and began reading Matthew 1:1 with my 8-year-old.  What happened surprised even me-of-little-faith.  She was intrigued.  I was intrigued.  The language is simple and easy for her to understand.  The Message reads as a story and Ava ate it up!  When we have our Bible time, I stop to ask questions.  I let her ask as many questions as she has.  We talk about Biblical history and the meanings behind the words of Jesus.  She is like a sponge, soaking up all the goodness and power of the life of Jesus.  I am learning as well, and feel I am doing my job, pouring my Biblical knowledge into my child.  Now… if only we could be a little more consistent (such is the story of my life!).  If you have school-age children, I encourage you to quiet down, sit down with your kids, and simply read The Message with them.   I think you will be amazed how the life and words of Jesus come to life.

5. Inductive Bible Study – Dear readers, I have saved my favorite for last.  I was introduced to Kay Arthur and her inductive method of Bible study at my last church and I am so grateful!  I skipped the how-to book that teaches the method and jumped right in to a study of Ezra, learning as I went along.  This is the kind of study for me, my friends!  I am talking about colored pencils, color-coding repetitive words, color-coded keys of keywords… I am talking about 30 minutes (at least), six days a week, diving into the Word of God, making lists and charts and let me just say, IT IS SO MUCH FUN!  Of course, not everyone likes it.  The homework-style, follow-these-instructions-exactly appeals to my personality and my need for order.  Plus, at the end, I felt such a sense of accomplishment, feeling like an expert in whatever book I was studying. I am amazed at what Kay Arthur’s guides bring out in scripture that I may never have seen without her help.  She has guides for nearly every book of the Bible.  I would start with Matthew.  I am in the middle of it now, and it has been amazing.

IMG_2684 IMG_2683 IMG_2679

These are some study methods that have worked well for me, but of course there are so many other options!  I do have one word of advice, a lesson that I learned the hard way.  Don’t let your study be a chore.  Give yourself a break if you go through a season when you don’t crack your Bible.  Let go of the guilt and turn to God.  Find delight in Him.  I go through seasons of Bible study, but when I hunger and thirst for God, when I long for His presence in my life, the Bible study naturally follows.  So no guilt.  Just turn to Jesus and see what happens!

What about you?  What methods of Bible study are your favorites?  Have you tried any of the methods I have mentioned?  I would love to hear your experiences!  Do any of these methods sound like something you may try?

rg_logo_biblestudy