26 Tips for Understanding the Bible

26 Tips for Understanding the Bible

Reading the Bible can be so, so hard.

That's what I've been hearing from women just about everywhere. Between conversations with the wonderful ladies in my small group, to informal polls online, to overhearing conversations between leaders at the camp where I work, the biggest struggle for so many of us is reading the Word of God.

And I get it. 

Because it's a big struggle for me, too.

And just like all those others who I've been hearing from (and eavesdropping on), I know that reading the Bible is important. And sometimes, I know that I'm standing in my own way.

The Bible is the very word of God. It's a gift. But sometimes, I get hung up. I get hung up... because is the Bible really necessary to my daily life? Is it really enough? Is it really the one true authority?

Is the Bible really understandable?


Blessings this Week: 05.27.2016

This week, it's really felt like summer, in more ways than one.

The weather is heating up, and so is my schedule-- I'm trying to squish more and more onto my plate, and that so often (at least for me) means that work takes up most of my life and my time with God slides over to the very rim.

Survival mode is an interesting place to be, especially when it seems like everyone else is on vacation.

Taking a moment to actually recognize the gifts of right now? It's important. Because it keeps me on track, it keeps me focused, and it keeps me connected with the Giver.


These Are the Workers

The community college about half an hour away from us closed their auto-body mechanics program this past year. They didn't have enough students enrolled to make a go of it.

That doesn't really seem like much of a big deal (I mean, it's a small town and all), but  it's a symptom.

It's a symptom of the current climate.

Nineteen-year-olds make hundreds of thousands of dollars posing for Instagram followers, and then quit it all because they don't feel like they're being "authentic." College students need to be taught how to clean a toilet, because they've never done it before. If someone chooses a manual labor job, then they're "wasting their potential."

I know that I'm not really one to talk, sitting behind this computer screen, typing away in my living room with my PJ's on. All the work I do, even my day job, includes sitting at a desk in air conditioning. There's not much dirt under my fingernails.


Promises in the Bible

Promises in the Bible
Original Image used with Permission

The first few steps on this painful path were so... unexpected.

I didn't deal with it well.

I was angry and confused, but most of all, I felt so isolated. Infertility, like many other hurts in life, can do that.

Everyone in my life has kids. Many of my friends are on kid number two or three. Some have even completed their families.

Add to it the fact that I work at a Bible Camp- kids everywhere all the time, even babies and toddlers during the family camp weeks, and I’m surrounded.

I’m surrounded by the stuff of family life. The playpens and high chairs and strollers. The school trips and loose teeth.

My home is different than the houses of our friends, different than the activity at work. It’s quiet without the shrieks, chatter, and laughter of children.

In those early days, I really felt like the one still frame in a scene of activity. All around me there’s this flurry, fast-paced and noisy, but I’m standing motionless.

Frozen. Conspicuous because of what’s missing.

I stick out in the middle of all the life.


Blessings this Week: 05.20.2016 Edition

Something very interesting happened the other day.

Someone "re-tweeted" one of my posts on Twitter.

I know! Crazy! I'm barely on Twitter at all- most things that I tweet are scheduled because I just don't really "get" Twitter in the first place, and I don't have time to mess around over there, honestly.

But this person (someone I don't know at all), tweeted my post from yesterday- the one with the spring tour of our little farmplace.

They added the comment (I'm paraphrasing),

People like this who drive through life like it's 85 and sunny with the windows down when the world is falling apart... 

and then he (or she... couldn't tell by the username) virtually shook their head at me.

SMH, indeed.

Because yes, I like to tell you about the beautiful things in life, but that doesn't mean that I don't see the hurt. I'm living a little of that hurt, myself. No, the world isn't perfect and rosy. It'll just keep on falling apart until Jesus comes back.

I do believe, though, that to truly enjoy the gifts of God in this life, the ones we're living right now, we need to notice. We need to find the small blessings, because those little glimpses of God's love are really what this life is about. We can't find joy in our today unless we express gratitude for the gift of today. 


A (super quick) Spring Tour...

It's been a while since I shared much about our little homestead- I think the last time I put up a bunch of pictures of what's going on around our little farm was when I was giving updates on the house progress.

Now that the weather is nice, we're not spending much time inside-- I'm out in the sunshine any chance I can get!


Who Cares about Cubits? or, What We Can Learn from the Tabernacle {Guest Post}

And now for something a little different... I asked (more like begged) my dear friend Cryss to write a post for this series on knowing the Bible, even the confusing parts. 

Why did I ask Cryss? Because she's wise, honest, friendly, and most of all, she has a passion for a particular part of the Bible that I find... challenging. Namely, she loves the Tabernacle-- and I can't make heads or tails of it. Take it away, Cryss!


It's really tempting to skip over those insane, confusing details in the Bible. Who gives a rip about cubits, anyway? But when we really dig in to the truth of God's Word, we find many hidden gems. Here's what we can learn from all those details in the Bible about the Tabernacle!

First off, I would like to say thank you to Ally for letting me write this post for her blog.

Not only is she an amazing blogger, I am privileged to call her co-worker and most importantly…friend. I love how she is so willing to put her heart out there for the benefit of us, the readers. So…thanks, Ally!

So a little background on me.

My name is Cryss and I am married to a wonderful man and we have two beautiful girls. Like I said above, I am a co-worker with Ally at camp and also work for another non-profit ministry that has a maternity home for unwed young women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. I get to do the majority of the accounting work for both of these organizations. Yup, I’m a numbers girl =)

I am NOT a theologian by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love the Lord and I love His Word. I hope that I can help shed some light on this topic, but I would encourage everyone to do their own studying and not just take my word for it.

Ally and I had been in a group together when talk turned to the Tabernacle. I guess I may have been a little too passionate about talking about it, because now I find myself here!

Ally presented some questions to me, and I will do my best to answer them. They are:

Why present so much information about the Tabernacle/Temple in the first place? 
Why does it matter, anyway? 


Blessings this Week: 05.13.2016 Edition

There is a lemon on my desk at work.

See, here's the thing about gratitude. That lemon on my desk could just be a lemon on my desk.

Or, if I recognize it as a blessing, it can be a reminder that makes me smile. That lemon can be a reminder that God loves me- that little bits of sunshine are everywhere, even on rainy days- that I've got great friends who share lemons.

It's a perspective thing.

When I take the time to count my blessings, I find myself recognizing them more often. Seeing the small things that make life beautiful and good and full.


A Retro Camper Themed Anniversary Party

My parents have been married for 30 years.

That's a really long time, and it also makes me feel kind of old.

Because it means that I'm almost 30. (Does that mean I have to stop acting like I'm 15?)

One of the best things about my parents is that they're always up for an adventure. 

Between raising four daughters (the last three are fifteen months and eighteen months apart), the many many camping trips of our childhoods, road trips, a move to Iowa, and starting a new business, my parents are adventurers to the core.

So us girls (that's my three sisters and I) decided that we had to throw them a fitting bash.

And the theme?

A Camping Themed Anniversary Party!



Bible Commentaries: or, You Don't Have to Be a Professor to Read a Commentary, I Promise

Bible Commentaries are a great resource for making Scripture clear. Don't be intimated by their many pages- you don't have to be a professor to read a commentary!

My freshman year of college, with a little bit of never-been-away-from-home-sickness, I went to the college bookstore and purchased... my books.

(In hindsight: why did I go to the college bookstore and not Amazon or Half.com? I was young and stupid, apparently.)

And then I sat on a bench outside the library a ways and called my mom. Because of the homesickness. And to cry a little.

After a long heart-to-heart, I walked back to my dorm... without the books. It wasn't until hours later that I realized my mistake. I rushed back over to the bench, but the books were gone. I checked the lost and found, went back to the bookstore to see if they'd been returned, panicked a lot, but they were gone.


Blessings this Week: 05.06.2016

It has been an incredible week.

Nothing too profound has happened. Nothing too exciting.

And yet, all those little blessings fill up my days and make every moment so special.

Here's what I've been up to this week:

I don't think I'll ever get bored of these country sunsets.

...   ...   ...   ...   ...


The Binder: My Cleaning Record and Free Planner Printables

The Binder: The planner pages I use to record my cleaning tasks and keep my household running smoothly (and free printables!)

It's no secret that the summertime is busy around here.

I whine about it a lot, after all.

Summer is the time when most things fall to the wayside- and by most things, I mean exercise, flossing, going outside... and cleaning my home.

Yeah, in the summer, I never clean my house.

Thankfully, I've got a super easy and very basic daily routine (wipe the sink, wipe the toilet, ten-minute tidy up, dishes, and done).

(Side note: No, I'm not doing a load of laundry every day like I used to. Now we're on a once-a-week laundry plan that I'm not a huge fan of, but it works for right now. Someday, I'd like to go back to three times a week, at least... but this is working okay for now.) 

My routine keeps things relatively sanitary around here, but besides that, my little house gets very little lovin' for about three months.



Genealogies in the Bible, and Why They Matter

Genealogies in the Bible, and Why they Matter | A look into the often-overlooked portions of Scripture, and why you shouldn't skim over them anymore

I swung my feet, careful not to kick the pew in front of me, which I knew would get me a look (you know that look) from my mom. The sister on my left was sitting on the floor, using the seat of the pew as a desk, as she carefully colored in Father Abraham's sandals a shade of puke green.

I sighed heavily and picked up my Adventure Bible, flipping through it to the beginning of the chapter the pastor was preaching on.

Lists of names that I couldn't even begin to try to pronounce- how boring!

Who cares who begot whom? I felt my eyes glazing over... rescued only by my mom passing the traditional mid-church-peppermints down the aisle.