Bible Review | Time for Deep Study!

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Thanks to the generosity of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I am back with another Bible review. This time–the King James Version (KJV) Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, published by Zondervan 2022). The Bible is packed with delicious features for those who love intense, cerebral Bible study sessions. Though the Bible can be studied straight through from Genesis to Revelation, the chain-reference Bible demands more from us.

The 2000(+)-page Bible features more than 8000 topical listings in its alphabetical index and more than 100,000 marginal references. More than 4000 topics are systematically organized in chains “enabling the student to follow the prominent texts of a topic from the beginning of the Bible to the end. Many of these topics are subdivided, allowing for even more detailed analysis.”

This is the definitive study Bible, allowing Bible students and scholars to delve deeply into scripture through topical, thematic, chapter, and book studies as well as thorough examination of particular passages, biblical characters, and verses. 

The Bible features:

  • Complete text of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible
  • Easy-to-understand chain-reference system with over 100,000 references
  • Alphabetical and numerical indexes [that] highlight study materials for over 8,000 topics, each with its own topic number, for exhaustive topical study
  • An outline of the Bible
  • Bible study methods
  • An extensive study resource section [that] includes:
    • Bible character studies
    • illustrated studies of the Bible
    • a KJV concordance
    • Bible harmonies
    • A section on Hebrew times, Seasons, and Festivals
  • Two-color page design
  • Introductions for each of the 66 books of the Bible
  • 16-page full-color map section with map index
  • Words of Jesus in red

The Bible is printed in the KJV comfort print typeface. Since there is little marginal space, the two-color design goes a long way to break of the text-heavy pages and give tired eyes like mine some relief.

I have only had a few days to explore the KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, but I am pleased with what I have seen thus far. I am not going to pull this Bible out when I want to journal scripture or make copious notations in the margins. This one is for deep, long studies of scripture with my beautiful 300-page Bible study journal. 

I can’t wait to dig in at my leisure!

Of course, I received the Bible free from the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, but you can purchase the Bible here: Faith Gateway or here: Amazon.

If you want more information on how the KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible works, check out this short video on YouTube:

Welcoming 2023: Seven Tips for Beating Winter Sorrow

Winter Trees

I’m baaaaaaccccckkkk! 

So, 2023?

Here we are and I can’t say that I am feeling all the “new newness” of the year. I want to. I am trying to, but I can’t seem to get my head in the game. In fact, I spent the first days of the year “in a funk,” as my mom and baby sister would say. A million things to do. Too many ideas floating around in my head. “Goings on” I would normally be excited about. I just could not get myself motivated to do anything. 

I blame “wintercearig”–winter sorrow–a feeling of downheartedness or despondency caused by or as desolate as the depths of winter. You can read all about the Anglo-Saxon word on the Haggard Hawks blog. Wintercearig perfectly captures the impact of the winter season. 

I don’t think I suffer from “seasonal affective disorder,” but December brought two or three weeks (straight) of dreary, rainy weather followed by insanely cold temperatures.

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Actual temperature two days before Christmas–and I had done very little preparation. 

Considering this is the South, it was downright disrespectful. It seemed everyone’s spirits suffered. My own bones were so steeped in “winter sorrow” that I had to fake my way through the holidays. 

When I was facing the return to work last week, I struggled. I literally begged God to lift my spirits. I had things to do, after all!

An agonizing day later, my Bible study took me to Philippians 3:13-14:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Even though the verses have different meanings, I stalled at the phrase “press on” and accepted the Divine instruction to press. As much as I would have loved to lie on the sofa under a comfy throw and binge-watch “whatever,” I was well aware of the reality:

We have responsibilities that we cannot ignore and we can’t always “lie down” and succumb to our feelings. Sometimes, we have to “press on” no matter what. So, I sat down and scribbled some ideas in my journal to help get me through the day–ideas for “pressing” on when we lack motivation, when we’re weary, and when we’re simply “in a funk.” 

  1. First things first: Get up and move. Do something. Walk. Run. Dance. Clean your house. Chop some wood. Just move. Don’t allow yourself to sit and wallow.
  2. If you’re anything like me, when you don’t feel like doing anything, staring at a long list of tasks to be completed is enough to send you into a state of depression. Sometimes, you have to place the lengthy list in a drawer and make a new list of the absolutely must-dos and hit that list hard and fast—one by one. Task by task is key to not overwhelming yourself and running in the opposite direction. Pro tip: When you’re “in a funk,” even the smallest task, expectation, or obligation can feel impossible, so pray your way through every movement and remind yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 
  3. Make a piping hot cup of tea and sip slowly while listening to some cool jazz or your favorite music. Yes, tea is the answer to almost everything. 😉

  4. And while we’re on the subject of music. Create a playlist of your upbeat favs and sing along loudly and off key. There’s nothing like giving your abdominals a good workout to improve mood. I’m sure there’s some physiological explanation for that, but I’ll let the music therapists address the topic.

  5. Do something bright and colorful! Throw paint around. Play with stickers. Write a cheerful ditty or postcard. Do something that brings out your inner creative or inner child.

  6. Dial a friend. A funny one. One who is lighthearted and free and who will not allow you to remain in the doldrums.

  7. Plan a reward for yourself—a nap (my favorite reward), a new book, a pretty pen—something you can enjoy when you break free of your “downward” mood.

These all work for me, but what do you do when faced with all the icky, sluggish feelings that descend from time to time? Share in the comments.

Until next time…

May 2023 be good to thee. 😉

Such Is Life…

Fractal Deep Purple and Black

I woke up a week or so ago and typed the following note in my e-journal. I’d intended to flesh it out and clean it up, but sometimes, we need it straight. Even though it takes the shape of a poem, it is not a poem. Then again, maybe, it is. It is sad (perhaps?) and hopeful at the same time, but eh, such is life and the paradoxical state in which we all operate.

Life is hard.

Like really, really hard.

Achingly so at times.
Crippling even.

We must understand that.
We must get it through our thick skulls no one has it easy,
no matter how it looks on the outside.

There is no “life should not be this way.”
It is all life.

The sooner we get there in our thinking,
the sooner we will get to the part where we accept
“life” is always happening
and learn to find joy in spite of our circumstances.

The sooner we climb out of the oppressive pits of self-pity and despair
the sooner we begin to live,
and the sooner we will get to the part where we dance in the rain
and stand tall when everything around is crumbling.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  —John 16:33

Eternity Now: A “Comfortable” Approach to the New Testament

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Are you a Bible reader? I love the many translations of the Holy Writ and the many different approaches to scripture available. Thomas Nelson’s latest presentation has just been placed on my favorites list. 

The NET Eternity Now New Testament Series is a wonderful little collection of books which feature the New Testament presented in a unique way. Instead of book, chapter, and verse, the series presents the books of the Bible in “story form,” like paperback novels—with paragraphs and chapters and written in a style that appeals to the most readers. 

The series is divided into five paperbacks of about 80-200 pages each. This means, instead of lugging a 2000-page volume in your purse, you can tuck one small volume into your purse, backpack, or even a medium-sized pocket! If you want to carry them all at once, they’re not as heavy or as cumbersome as a traditional study Bible. 

  • The five-volume series “lets you see how eternity has broken into the here and now.” Readers can “read the history-shaping story of how Jesus Christ changed the world and what it means for [them]. It’s the no-frills, unvarnished Word of God, presented in an easy to read style and format.” –from the slipcover

Oh, and here’s the part I love: Instead of reading the 27 books of the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation, the Eternity Now set is organized by the themes listed below (descriptions adapted from the back covers of each volume).

  • The Legacy: Includes four New Testament books—Matthew, Hebrews, James, and Jude, all written from the perspective of Jesus’ own community and family.
  • No Going Back: Includes three New Testament books—Mark, 1 and 2 Peter. From these you get a fast-paced and passionate account of Jesus’ ministry and the effect it had on his most prominent disciple.
  • Grand Tour: Includes two New Testament books—Luke and Acts. Read together, these books illustrate the healing mission of Christ from prophecy through ascension and how the life-altering good news began to spread worldwide.
  • Death to Life: Includes 12 New Testament books written by Paul—Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
  • Now But Not Yet: Includes the five New Testament books written by the apostle John—John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelation. John unveils who Jesus really is, how a life can be transformed, and how we are connected together for a glorious future. 

The set is written in the easy New English Translation (NET), which is not [in my opinion] as elegant as the King James English but is beautiful nonetheless and certainly more accessible to those who are not comfortable with reading like Shakespeare characters. 😉

For someone, like me, who loves reading the Bible as literature (as well as a sacred text) this is a wonderful little set. For those who are uncomfortable with traditional scripture formats, this little set is perfect!


Note: I received a complimentary copy of the NET Eternity Now New Testament Series as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. If you’d like to purchase your own set, you can find it at the Faith Gateway Store or at Amazon.

Scripture Mail | An Encouraging Word

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Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. –1 Thessalonians 5:11

Scripture mail might be my favorite type of mail to send and receive. There’s something about opening a postcard or an envelope filled with scriptural goodness that fuels the spirit.

Whenever I receive scripture mail, it seems the senders listened for Divine direction on which Bible verse(s) to include. The card above represents a “case in point.” Shortly after returning from my father’s funeral, I received the card with the encouragement below tucked inside from LadyJo, a member of the group Christian Friends on swap-bot. She had no way of knowing about my father’s passing, but inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:11, she sent timely encouragement my way, and it did much to hearten me.

Scripture mail can take many forms–store-bought postcards and notecards, stickers, “pass it on” cards that can be purchased for as little as a dime, bookmarks, coloring cards or pages, a page or two from a devotional book, handmade cards, photo cards, and even index cards with scripture written or typed on–with or without other embellishment. There are countless possibilities.

Sending scripture mail is a great way to support an individual who might be facing difficulties. We don’t always have the appropriate words to comfort or answer life’s problems, but we can usually find a Bible verse that offers peace and hope.

Or, like, quote mail, scripture mail can be sent to let individuals know you’re thinking of them. There are many verses that can be used to just say, “Hi!”

It’s easy-peasy, of course. You can jot a few Bible verses into any card you have available. If you don’t have cards, stationery or notebook paper will suffice. Just slip the verses into an envelope and send them on their way. It truly is the thought that counts!

Side note: I do advise you to make sure the receiver will not be offended, particularly if you do not share the same belief system. I send scripture mail to encourage, uplift, or inspire, not to proselytize or get someone to convert to my religion or denomination. I am particularly drawn to sacred texts, so just as I am inspired by texts outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition, I’m sure that non-Christians find wisdom in the Holy Bible.

If you want to get a little fancy, watch for my next scripture mail post. I’ll share and talk about how to make simple scripture mail.

Until then…

Scripture Mail | The Bible That Has It All! [And Giveaway Winners]

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Thanks to a busy week and fatigue, this blog week did not go as planned—with a first post on the fundamentals of scripture mail followed by some of the encouraging scripture mail I’ve received. I’ll back up to those post in a few of days. But today, I’m sharing the ultimate in scripture mail—The Holy Writ itself! 

Have you ever received a Bible in the mail? I have many times, usually because I ordered them. 🙂 I love having different translations and Bibles that serve various purposes. The Young Women Love God Greatly Bible, which I arrived via snail mail a couple of weeks ago, is an exciting addition to my devotional life. I received a complimentary copy of the Bible as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. 

I opened the pages of the Bible and was pleasantly overwhelmed by its offerings. At a whopping 2200+ pages, the Young Women Love God Greatly Bible has everything! It presents the Bible in the traditional format that most are used to—from Genesis to Revelation–and offers many, many features that make learning and studying scripture appealing and enjoyable:

  • Memory verses for each book of the Bible
  • Brief introductions for each book of the Bible
  • 50 reading plans
  • 10 topical reading plans
  • Personal testimonies and insights from women all over the world, including country profiles for each woman
  • Reflection questions
  • Challenges for further study
  • 100 devotional thoughts
  • 10 maps, featuring the world of the patriarchs, the Kingdom of Israel, Jerusalem in Jesus’ time, and the journeys of the apostles
  • 10 detailed timelines
  • Infographics
  • 25 letters from a woman of faith that addresses life’s challenges and questions
  • 25 heroines of the Bible
  • 25 heroines of the past (Christian history)
  • 32 God’s “heart for the nation” scriptures
  • and much more

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The Bible, published by Thomas Nelson this year, was edited by Angela Perritt and Melissa Fuller, who were driven by the “battle cry” to love God greatly. The Bible was designed for young women, which [chronologically] I am not, but at heart very much am. As a dean/professor at a faith-based institution, I use a lot of biblical materials geared to the young adult set, so I am über excited about introducing this Bible to students! In fact, I was so excited that I snapped shots of some of the features and sent them to a few students who oohed and ahhed as much as I did. 

Leafing through this Bible is a pleasure! At every turn of the page there is something that captures my attention and makes me what to just stop and take note—even if I am just flipping through and not intending study. For deep scriptural study, the editors have included instructions for the SOAP method of Bible study (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer), which works for Bible study newbies as well as seasoned Bible scholars. 

The font is just the right size, not too tiny, not too large. Plus, teal (?) subheadings break up all the “gray” and give the eyes moments to rest. Minimal sketches/drawings throughout the Bible serve as invitations to slow down and consider passages while coloring. There’s ample room in the margins for Bible doodling or journaling or (my favorite) making copious marginal notes. Oh–another favorite—there’s not one but two ribbon page markers!

The Young Women Love God Greatly Bible features the easy-to-read New English Translation (NET), which may make the Bible easier to understand for some.  As mentioned earlier, this Bible has more than 2200 pages of goodness, so it is pretty thick and heavy. It is not the Bible I would take to church, but it is certainly perfect for those long study and prayer sessions in the comfort of home with a tall cup of tea, pretty pens, and a Bible journal. It is also suitable for group Bible studies. 

I would love to tell you more, more, more about this Bible, but I think you’ll have to check it out for yourself. You can find it at the FaithGateway store or on Amazon.


Screen Shot 2022-06-16 at 10.30.49 PMWeekend Giveaway Winner: I let the wheel decide, and our weekend giveaway winner is How I’m Living with KB253! Congratulations, KB253! Be sure to use the contact form above to send me your address so I can send your goodies. And…since I appreciate all of you, I invite the other five participants to send me your addresses too! I’ll send a happy note or two to each of you this summer! Have joy!

November Chaos | A Moment with the Willow

Anxiety to Joy

We are halfway through November, and I’m finally making my first post of the month! Gasp!

I had this month’s posts planned since September, but after I realized how chaotic this month would be, I “aborted” the mission–to daily share a piece of art I created in September for Sheila’s Creative Gathering. I will share those pieces as the “Spirit moves” and let November be what it will be. [Many prayers, hugs, and hearts for Sheila who is seriously ill and in the hospital].

Today, I am moved to share one of the 10 “abstract” photo art pieces I created for the Gathering. It captures my time with one of the weeping willows at the Unity Pond on campus. However, it is the Bible verse I paired with the photo that compels me to share–a verse of scripture I meditate on frequently and one I often repeat to others as they grapple with anxiety and stress these days.

When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought me joy. —Psalm 94:19

We have been dealing with a bit “too much” over the last 19-20 months. In the early months, we realized and appreciated our need for the slowing down the pandemic required. Now, instead of seeing this time as an opportunity to do things differently and better, we are trying to force an old norm that no longer serves us. I’m convinced that besides the loss and trauma of this moment, much of our sense of overwhelm and anxiety comes from our rush to normal—exacerbated by our not taking time to sit with and process our grief.

It seems everyone I encounter these days is overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious. I have this horrible sense that if we don’t pause or slow down, we’re headed for an even bigger crisis.

Perhaps, you’re feeling all those things too.

I hope a moment with the willow and these words remind you there is relief. Thankfully, in God’s presence we can find comfort, peace, and joy, even when life makes it difficult to pause or slow down.

May you carry that with you.

Fractals | Morning Frax

This morning I awakened at my usual 5:00 a.m. with a bit of anxiety. I couldn’t pinpoint any major stressors, so I figured the culprit was the many tiny things on my mind—the lengthy task list, school (un)readiness, deadlines, projects up in the air.

Deep breaths. Journal. Prayer. Still anxious.

Then, the words of Psalm 94:18-19 came to mind, and I knew I had to meditate and pray those very words. I doodled flowers, wrote the words beside them, and colored everything a cheerful red and yellow in my doodle journal.

A few hours later, to kill time (while waiting at the doctor’s office), I “fraxed” the [photo of the] doodle and words. The result–with scripture added:

Psalm 94 Fractal

May it provide what your soul needs today.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Precious Joy

Even though there are signs of spring, many of the trees around me are still skinny, naked, and exposed–shadows of their spring, summer, and early autumn selves.

I thought about those trees this morning as I watched the sun fill the sky, a backdrop for the leafless trees. I contemplated one of the passages of scripture I studied yesterday–

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of His faithful servants. —Psalm 116:15

I turned toward the computer to begin the workday, and my eyes met the pink sticky note on which I had written Psalm 96:12b a couple of weeks ago, anticipating the arrival of spring.

Let all the trees sing for joy.

Somehow, these two Bible verses are connected for me.

Today marks eight years since my little sister was taken from us. It’s strange how my body knows when the date is nearing. The grief and sorrow over the losses of both my sisters [and so many more since] are palpable, but it firms me up to know that God feels each individual loss intimately. We are precious to Him.

Maybe, the verses are connected in my mind because they point to hope.

Hope is in the “spring” of that soon-to-come Great Reunion when the trumpet sounds and those who have fallen asleep in Christ will rise first and meet our Savior (1 Thessalonians 4:12-18). Oh, how we’ll sing and rejoice!

In fact, all the earth will worship, and the trees will sing for joy!


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.