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.

Temp Dec

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. 😉

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…

NPM | Black and White | Eternity

orchid everything beautiful

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11

Ecclesiastes 3:11 is one of the most beautiful verses of Scripture to me. On the heels of the popular “To Everything There Is a Season” poem of the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3, this verse reminds us that everything serves an ultimate purpose and happens when it should.

I’ve spent many days wrestling with God over the the whys and why nots, so I understand this knowledge is not always comforting, especially when we face horrific circumstances. The last part of the verse acknowledges this limitation of our humanity—our inability to comprehend God’s ways–and gets us off the hook of trying to explain the unfathomable. We need only trust His providence, long-range divine vision, and Sovereignty. 

I find the middle of this Bible verse most potent. God has set eternity in our hearts. This explains our thirst for water from an unearthly well. For we were never meant to have all our yearnings satiated in this life. We were created in the image of God, created to commune with Him “in the garden,” and, therefore, with the innate desire to spend “our always” with Him.  

100 Failures in One Year!

Heart's Desire 2I had a full, productive first day back at work, and though I have not completed the task list (unsurprisingly), I feel good about relaxing for the rest of the evening. I thought I’d drop in with a little inspiration for the new year.

I stopped formulating New Year’s goals and resolutions some time ago. I use my birthday (October), instead of January 1, to reflect on the past year and consider my goals for the next 365-day cycle. However, at the beginning of the year, I do take stock of my progress and consider methods I can use to achieve my goals.

One of my forever goals is to get things out of my head, onto paper, and into publications. My life is crazy-busy, but if I’m not writing, I’m dying inside. So I write a LOT! I have journals and notebooks full of writing. And last year, after attending Tara Gray’s Publish and Flourish workshop, I started writing every morning (for a minimum of 15 minutes). I took a break from the practice, because in just a few months, I had drafted several articles and needed to take the time to edit, integrate research where necessary, and consider publications. 

And that’s where many things get stuck. That’s the time-consuming part, and because of all my other responsibilities, those things get put on the back burner. But, I think it’s also the scary part. Finishing can be daunting because it means I have to put it out there and deal with the possibility of rejection.

That’s what I’d like to push through this year, and Kim Liao’s article on failing best, “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year,” provides the antidote. In the Lit Hub article, Liao shared advice a writing friend she admired offered her:

Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.

I read the article late last year and decided that starting January 1, 2022, I’m going for the goal—100 rejections in a year. Yes, this will be mortifying for my soul, but the goal is not really the rejections, of course. The goal is to keep writing and to keep submitting. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m writing and submitting subpar material just for the sake of rejection. If I go for 100 rejections, that means, I am getting good writing done, crafting proposals, putting my work out there, and not sitting on the fence waiting for the publishing gods to find me. 

I like the idea of pushing for the loss instead of the win. It removes the pressure and anxiety and frees me to write authentically. So, that’s my one “big” plan for the year. I’ll let you know by December 31, 2022 how it goes. 😉

You can use the same principle for your goals. Try your hand at 100 new recipes; create 100 new clothing designs; visit 100 new places; read 100 books; create 100 masterpieces, or even perform 100 random acts of kindness. Whatever it is, go for it!

For now, this is my prayer for you:

May God grant your heart’s desire and renew your plans. — Psalm 20:4

Just remember to put in the work!


About the Image: This is one of the 10 pieces of inspirational “doodle art” I created for the 30-Day Creative Art Gathering. I think another round starts next month.

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 (But It’s Friday) | Between Water and Trees

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For I [fully] satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person. —Jeremiah 31:25

I spent four days this week working, resting, and resetting in a tiny bit of heaven—between water and trees—at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama.

I resisted this work “retreat” because it was…well…more work, and I already had a long list of tasks that wouldn’t get done if I spent time there. My internal tantrums were driving me nuts, so I took a moment to whisper a prayer and ask God to help me change my attitude.

By the last morning, I had to apologize to God for my earlier grumbling. The mornings were work-intensive, but fun and interactive, which is my preferred method of collaborating. I am not a fan of long, long meetings, but I don’t mind getting down to business and doing the work.

Thanks to careful planning, this was the first time (for me) a “work retreat” actually felt like a retreat. I enjoyed the morning meditations, spiritual gems dropped throughout the sessions, the time spent in work groups, and getting to know my brilliant colleagues in a different way.

Most of our afternoons were spent in leisure and recreation, so I was even able to work some of the “long list” referenced earlier.

It rained most of our time there–offering a soothing, steadying rhythm, perfect for the contemplative soul. However, the weather did not hinder encounters with nature. I was able to participate in a two-mile nature hike, deer watch (deer post coming soon), and enjoy the sweet tweets of baby birds as I walked the breezeway from my room to meeting spaces.

Joe Wheeler State Park-3

I had time to sit, write, and think on a balcony with a gorgeous view of Wheeler Lake and time to spend with Sylvia G, one of my dearest friends who has known me since I was a child!

I did not realize the full impact of limited movement for 15 consecutive months on my mental and emotional state until I was able to spend significant time away from my home and campus. My being positioned between all that luscious nature offered the respite I needed to clear some of the cobwebs and move some thoughts forward.

If you know just a little about me, you know I find in trees my most experienced counselors. You also may know that something stirs excitedly inside this NOLA girl–who grew up down the street from the Mississippi River–whenever I am near any body of water.

Joe Wheeler State Park-2b

I’ve been languishing [see previous post]. Of course, the retreat was not planned for me, but God knew I needed a strong dose of therapy, that I needed to be situated between water and trees to truly rest, reset, and hear His voice clearly.

He always delivers, even when I’m standing in my own way.


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.

#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.