The Inspire Bible (NLT), by Tyndale Publishers, is my current read-through Bible. By that, I mean it’s the one I started reading in Genesis 1 and am working my way through. I’m not just reading, however, and that is why this Bible is perfect.
The New Living Translation has been my favorite for many years, and I’ve read through it several times in various Bibles. It is a cross between word-for-word translations and thought-for-thought translations. This approach is a result of the translators striving to provide an option that would strike modern readers in a way similar to the manner in which the original texts affected the readers of their time. I will delve more deeply into this translation, or perhaps translations in general, in another post in the future.
One reason they called this the Inspire Bible is because it is filled with line drawings that can inspire you on their own, but also serve as coloring pages. If you’ve never experienced the therapeutic benefits of coloring on an adult level, you’re missing out. In my case, as you can see by this picture, I often color part of a drawing while listening to a recording of the passage. (My method is read [taking notes], listen to Through the Word’s guide on the chapter [taking notes], and listen to a recording of the chapter.) I didn’t realize until after I’d taken this photo that I’d never finished coloring this particular illustration; I must have stopped when the recording ended.
My favorite thing about this Bible, however, is the journaling lines that you can see in this second photo. As I explained, I’m making notes constantly as I read and study. This is something I recommend everyone do. Simply reading the Bible isn’t enough. We’re meant to meditate on it – to really think about what we read. This is why I often limit myself to a single chapter a day. While deeper thoughts, for instance thoughts that might turn into blog posts, send me to my journal, I can fill my Bible with individual notes as I read and experience the Word. This means I can come back to any passage I’ve already studied and find the treasure I discovered still lying there in the open.
I have owned, and still own, a variety of Bibles. This is definitely one of my favorites.
The Inspire Bible is available in several formats, which you can find simply by going to your favorite retailer’s website and searching “Inspire Bible.”
I’ve done a few of Priscilla Shirer’s Bible studies through the years, so when I received this book as a gift I knew I’d been given gold. When I saw it was a 90-day devotional, I dug right in, and after only two days I knew I had to share.
Who is Priscilla Shirer? Well, the bit of information that caught my attention when we began that first Bible study was that she is Tony Evans’ daughter. She is much more, but having known of his ministry for years I felt confident I could trust her and was pretty sure I would enjoy her teaching. I was right.
As well as being a focused wife and mother, Shirer has been in full-time ministry for decades. She’s written books and Bible studies, speaks all over the place, and runs Going Beyond Ministries with her husband. She’s got the spiritual goods.
The book starts with a two-page introduction. I realize most readers skip the introduction. Don’t. It’ll only take a few minutes to read, and will help prepare you for what’s coming. One of my favorite sentences in this section is, “The majority of what you’ll encounter here are personal whispers from God’s Spirit to my own over the last decade.” This is one of the things I value most about her in all of her works. She speaks to us what He has spoken to her. The adventure, the journey, is real.
After the introduction, you head straight into Day 1, which hits you right in the heart in a good way. She likens our need for God, for all He has to offer, to the Israelites’ need to gather manna first thing in the morning before the sun came along to burn it all off.
It took even less time to read this devotion than it did the intro, but I’m still thinking about it. This is a parallel I’d never considered, and there’s a lot to unpack. In other words, it did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me think and keep thinking.
After each devotion, you’ll find two more pages set aside just for you. Entitled “He Speaks to Me,” this section gives you the chance to answer a question, to see how what she has shared applies to your life. I encourage you to really think about your answer and take the time to write it down in the journal space she’s provided. You may not be comfortable recording your thoughts in this way, but I’d like you to remember two things.
This is your book. No one else needs to see it, so it’s a safe place.
There are probably many times in the past that God has shown you exciting, even astounding, things but you forgot them. (Or is that only me?) Recording triggers remembering.
The book is a 90-day devotional. That’s only a 3-month commitment if you do it every day. And if you choose not to do it daily? Well, I certainly won’t judge you. I will say, however, that I’m sure you’ll gain something every time you choose to dive in. I have, and I’ve only just finished Day 2.
So why didn’t I wait until I’ve done more before writing this review? Two reasons. I “know” Priscilla Shirer, and am confident in her consistency. Also, it’s December 29th, which gives you time to grab a copy for yourself and start on January 1. I can’t think of a better way to begin a new year than to focus on getting ever closer to God.
I’ve been using the YouVersion Bible app for years, and I love it. When I first discovered it, I primarily appreciated the fact that I could have access to multiple Bible translations on my phone. After a friend invited me to do a devotion with her, however, my life changed.
Once you’ve downloaded and set up (easy) the YouVersion app on your phone, you have multiple options. If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see the little house highlighted at the bottom of the screen. This Home screen gives me a snapshot of my YouVersion life.
Select Read, and you’ll pop straight into the Bible. Here you can choose from various translations, some of which you can download, some you can have the app read aloud. As you read, you can highlight, make notes, and more. Depending on how you set your preferences, your friends can also see your highlights and notes. Yes, you have friends here!
Plans is where the real fun begins. You can see that I’m working my way through 2 plans right now, both of which are around 7 days. God alone knows how many plans are available, but I can almost guarantee that you can find a plan (or several) on whatever topic you’re interested in. The plan length varies greatly, from three days being the shortest I’ve done to…well, I know you can read the Bible through in a year, so 365 days for sure. You don’t have to limit yourself to one a day, however. You can blow through any devotional just as fast or as slow as you like.
And you can do it with friends too!
So when you start a devotion, you decide if you want to do it alone or with friends (You invite whomever you choose), and whether or not you want your activity to be public. When you start the plan, you’ll read, watch, or listen to a devotion; then read its accompanying verses. Finally, if you’re reading with friends, you have an option of making comments and carrying on conversations. This can be a very enriching experience!
The app has a lot more that I don’t even get into – like Verse of the Day and being able to make your own verse graphics. It is, indeed, quite amazing and a marvelous tool for me in my determination to be consistently engaging with God’s Word.
Consistency doesn’t just happen; it requires deliberation, conscious action, forethought, planning… and the greater the number of areas that require work, the more your plan demands just the right tool. For me, for 2020, it appears that The Christian Planner is that tool.
I love planners and have used a wide variety of styles through the years. I have one that works great for the office, but this is the first I’ve found that seems to genuinely provide for every area of my personal life. Of course, since it does, there’s a lot to it. Are you ready?
Before I jump in, let me point out that planners are tools, not taskmasters. I’ve seen people look at this planner and be instantly overwhelmed, fearing they will use it improperly. You can’t. At least, I can’t imagine how you could. Since this will be a long review anyway, I’ll share some of how I’m currently using mine, but know that the way I use it will almost surely change as we move through time. That’s the beauty of it; as a tool, it has to do what I tell it to.
Open the (very nice) box and you discover a leather-like, hardcover book. Mine is purple, and it’s a little over 7” by 10” by 1” thick. Because of its size, some opt to keep it at home on their desks. I’m currently carrying it with me everywhere, having decided that my immediate future will be filled with larger purses.
An elastic strap holds it closed. Open the cover and one of the first pages you’ll see is the welcome page. It provides excellent suggestions for how to use the planner, but remember that this planner is all about what works for you.
The next two-page spread is your vision board, which also includes a small area for your “2020,” “Next 5 Years,” and “Lifetime” Bucket Lists. Don’t let the Vision Board intimidate you. Roughly, it’s a place for you to record your vision for the coming year – your goals, your dreams, etc. In my case, it’s super simple and non-traditional. God told me that my word for the year is “Consistency,” so that word alone takes up nearly half the space. The other half is a reminder of specific things I’m working on as I grow in Him. I’ve hardly even touched the Bucket List.
Flip another page and you find two charts, which I’m only just beginning to fill in. These are your Healthy Habit Goals, things you plan to focus on “Daily/Often,” “1-3 Times a Week,” “1-3 Times a Month,” and “1-3 Times a Year,” as well as your “2020 Goals.” Habakkuk told us to record the vision…or was it God who told him? Regardless, you are more likely to accomplish a goal when you record it and keep it in front of you. So, here they are.
2020 and 2021 Yearly Calendars, with holidays listed, are on the next two-page spread, and then you get to your two-page January 2020 calendar. The calendar set-up is pretty basic, but I like it. The week starts on Sunday, and there’s a column to the left of the calendar. A lot of people decorate this column, which is great, but I use it for my monthly To-Do list and clarification of calendar notes. Also on this page, you have areas set aside for…
Reflection: What blessings came into my life last month? What accomplishments am I proud of?
Action: How can I demonstrate my love for God and for others this month?
For January, my action includes a poem I read recently that particularly convicted me, and encourages me to stay open and sensitive to the needs of those around me.
Still with me? It’s about to get GOOD! Everything from here until the back of the book is repeated for every week of the year.
Next is two of my favorite pages: The Weekly Devotional Pages
The area on the left is reserved for Sermon Notes. Some people take their notes in church and then copy them over. I take my notes right there on the page. Also, since we have a midweek service. I drew a line down the center of this page so that I have two columns—one for each service’s notes.
This is one of my favorite features because, in the past, I’ve often forgotten all about the service within just a couple of days. I’ve years’ worth of sermon notebooks scattered all over, but this actually puts the notes in my hand and keeps them there all year. It gives me an open opportunity to go back over those notes repeatedly in coming week and months. It was, in truth, this that drew me to this planner.
Reflection and Action also appear here, but in reference to the past and coming week, specifically. You also have an area that is labeled “Bible Study Notes * Sketch * Prepare.” This is another area in which I deviate from the expected. One of my “consistency” goals is to write more. That being the case, my current plan calls for me using this area to write blog posts and whatever else comes to mind that week. The consistency goal, of course, is for it to never be left blank.
Now the weekly pages. Each one-week, two-pages spread consists of eight columns, the first of which many people decorate, but as is true with the monthly calendar, I use it for my To Do List. My appointments are all on the monthly calendar, and I see no need to duplicate them here. Instead, I use this as a daily record. I may record accomplishments, details of important phone calls, comments made by friends, things God spoke to me that day…whatever strikes me as being appropriate.
At the bottom of these two pages, are “My Space,” which is there for you to use in any way you choose, and the “Daily Healthy Habit Tracker.” This second one is cool. If you like checking off To Do lists as much as I do, you’ll use this. There is space to record nine different habits that you want to establish or reinforce in your life, and there are delightful little checkboxes for every day of the week under each. I’m three days into the week, and I’m already seeing clearly where I’ve made progress…and where I haven’t. You label these as you wish, and can change them every week if you like. I like.
Behind the calendars, the book ends with a dozen or so blank pages. At first, I thought I wouldn’t be using these, but after I discovered the Christian Planner Family group on Facebook, and saw how others were using their pages, I started filling them up.
To give you ideas…
Currently, I have a two-page spread showing all of the books of the Bible broken down into chapters. I highlight each chapter as I read it. Considering how often you read a chapter here and a chapter there, use this chart and you may discover that you actually read more of the Bible than you thought.
I covered the next two pages with scrapbook paper to make them stand out a little more. Here I keep post-it notes with prayer requests that I’m currently focusing on. One of my “consistency” items is to be more focused about interceding on behalf of others; that’s where this part of the tool comes into play.
A hand-drawn bookcase follows. As I read non-Bible books through the year, I will record their titles on the book spines in this drawing. I left the facing page blank just in case I end up reading more than I currently anticipate.
A budget spreadsheet takes up the following two pages. Yes, with such personal stuff in it I’ll be guarding this book, but I think I might finally have found a way to handle my budget that actually works for me. We shall see.
And there you are, having glimpsed one of the tools I hope will help me make the changes I want to see in me in 2020. If you’re interested in learning more, head over to The Christian Planner Family group on Facebook. It’s a wonderful community filled with Christians who support, encourage, educate, and in general focus on loving the brethren. Because it’s the group for this publisher, the focus is this planner, but you definitely don’t have to use the planner to benefit from the group.
So, you can probably expect me to have quite a few Consistency-related posts this year. At least, if I can become a more consistent blogger you will. Not surprisingly, since God is my highest priority, I intend to put more of an emphasis on His Word this year than I ever have before. One of the tools I’m using is the Through the Word Bible app. I learned about it while doing their study of Luke in the YouVersion Bible App (review to follow) before Christmas, and I’m hooked.
The concept is simple. They’ve put together teachings on every single chapter in the Bible. You can walk through the Bible one book at a time, which would be awesome, or you can browse their topical options. I’m currently going through their End Times collection, which uses chapters from Daniel, Thessalonians, Jude, and Revelation, and I can’t limit myself to one session a day. The things I’m learning are fascinating and valuable!
Anyway, it’s really that easy. Download the “Through the Word” app, register, and then take time to do their introductory session. While you might want to dive right in, it is best to start here. However, if you’re too ready to run forward, just go to Browse, select the series that interests you, and tell it to start playing.
Debra Clopton is a current favorite of mine. I’ve just realized I already own about half of her books. This is not good; she needs to write faster.
Seriously, I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book since I finished its predecessor, Longing for Love, with Jonah left standing there…alone. I like Jonah, and I’ve been waiting for him to find his gal. Clopton hasn’t disappointed. Her storytelling is always a delight, and the way she has her characters grow in their relationship with God is a continual encouragement. In Longing for Ever After, she’s introduced some new characters who fit into Sunset Bay perfectly, and I look forward to seeing how they help develop the story of the Sinclair clan.
She also introduced some new conflicts and challenges, which is something she excels at. One of the things she excels at is helping her characters learn to cope. As a “Polly,” who had to get past things, I am very happy with the way she had Jonah handle developments – all of the developments. In fact, I was so caught up in the story that it was rather a disappointing shock to realize I’d reached the end. It didn’t feel like I’d been reading for hours.
I’m an experienced reviewer, but I’ve never really handled fiction before; this is a challenge, telling you that you want to read the book without giving any real hints about what will happen. So…just take my word for it. You want this one.
I really like this mascara, and that’s saying something!
Birchbox is good about mascara samples; usually you get one while you’re still using one. When this came in, I was using Smashbox Cosmetics’ X-rated Mascara. I loved its formula-truly liked everything about the way it worked. I hated the brush. Maybe I was just inept, but that thing and I never did learn to work together.
So i was ready to try It’s So Big, and I found myself quite happy. The hourglass shape of the brush enables me to put mascara where I want it and nowhere else. The volumizing formula is also excellent. It ages well, stays on well, and comes off well. Yes, I also judge a mascara by how it comes off. Lazy, remember?
Another thing I watch for in mascaras is how long I’m able to use a tube. Some that have seemed great at first started clumping way too soon. This one has proven itself in this regard; I’ve been using it for quite a while now and it seems every bit as nice today as it was on the day I opened the tube. I have a feeling this one may be purchased soon. I’m definitely pleased!
The Carly is one of my favorite LuLaRoe pieces. It’s a versatile dress/top that is especially perfect for tall people like yours truly. I can easily toss on a Carly and slip into sandals. I can also throw it on over leggings as it is or knot it up in myriad ways to give my outfit more interest while accenting the high-low hemline.
You have options!
Belt it or not, as you desire.
Jackets, vests, and cardigans take the Carly into a variety of settings.
You can layer other tops over it for a completely different look.
Don’t think they’re only for tall people either. Most of my friends love the Carly, and I have several friends that I can really look down on (In the literal sense, of course!).
Depending on the fabric, and how you like styling your clothing, you can potentially wear several different sizes in the Carly. I generally stick with the Medium, which fits me nicely, and the large, which I sometimes prefer. I suspect I could drop down to a small if I found the right fabric, and I could probably go up to an XL. This one really does offer a range of options!
EDIT: Since writing this piece, I’ve teamed up with my sister to start selling LuLaRoe. We’re not consultants yet, but we’re in the queue. Check us out!
Okay, so it’s not makeup. I really can’t limit myself strictly to makeup, though, because Birchbox has introduced me to other great products as well, and this is one my my favorites. In fact, I like it so much that I gave it to my sister for her birthday. Her hair tangles like no one’s I’ve ever seen, and it didn’t take her long to figure out that this works better than any other detangler she’s ever tried.
I use it primarily as a protector and smoother. I spray this marvelous smelling stuff on my damp hair and either let it dry or blow it dry. Then, when I use my flat iron later, I get that smooth glossy hair we all want.
I’ve kept a travel size of Sens’Eyes in my cabinet for years. I’ve specifically kept the travel size because it takes very little to remove your eye makeup, which means a small bottle lasts a long time. I’ve used Sens’Eyes because it’s that good.
The pretty, blue lotion comes in a pump applicator and you truly use a tiny bit even for the most stubborn waterproof mascara. I’ve experimented with quite a few mascaras and hardly found any it can’t handle. Too, it’s called Sens’Eyes because it is designed specifically with those who have sensitive eyes in mind. Yes, even contact lens wearers are safe with this one. You can also use it on synthetic lashes.
It is fragrance free and opthalmologist and dermatologist tested.
As I said in my review of Marcelle’s 3-in-1 Micellar Solution, I have moved on, but I still keep this one in the cabinet just in case.