5 Beginner Steps for Reading the Bible



This is a guest post from a new blogging friend of mine and I hope you enjoy it!  If you have any follow-up questions please feel free to contact me.


So there it sits looming in front of you in all its glory and confusion and frustration. It seems an impossible feat to not only read, but actually understand the Bible. Sure it’s intimidating. But it’s also inspiring and filled with hope and love and promise of a future beyond the realm of our mortal minds.


You don’t have to go it alone though. There are a lot of resources to help you along your journey. I’m going to outline five tips to help make Bible study be a little less daunting.


But first, let’s get an understanding of what the Bible is. The Bible is a book that is written to you from God.  There’s the Old Testament which explains the creation of the universe and everything in it, including you and me, God’s law and history. Then there’s the New Testament which discusses in great detail the life of Jesus, His sacrifice and promise to us.


It’s important to understand though that the Bible isn’t one book, but a collection of 66 books that were written by various people {inspired by God} throught various periods in history. It is not arranged in chronological order either, but rather grouped by type of book, such as the gospels, psalms and letters from the apostles. You can see the various types of books that make up the Bible and also get an overview of each book here. Want to dip your toe in a little more? Visit Christianity Today to get a deeper understanding of the messages within each book.


Now for a few tips.


Get an easy-to-understand study Bible. Trying to understand the messages in the Bible is hard enough without trying to decipher an older version of English. There are many, many translations of the Bible and everyone has their opinion of which is best. I prefer the New International Version (NIV) Life Application Study Bible, which is actually the best-selling English version. Not only is it written in more modern English, there are timelines, an introduction to each book, bios of key people and lots and lots of footnotes that explains the verses in a little more depth. You can see a list of more Bible versions here.


Work in small steps. You could start at the beginning and just read cover to cover, and while your head probably won’t explode, this isn’t a great way to fully process and truly appreciate the Bible your first time through. The NIV Study Bible has a 365-day reading plan in the back. It takes you through the Bible in a more chronological order by grouping verses and chapters that pertain to each other and although you won’t go through every single verse in a year, you will get a great overview of the entire Bible.


Start with the New Testament. Written by those who lived alongside Jesus, the New Testament talks about the life and teachings of Jesus, rather than the history of Israel. Don’t get me wrong, the Old Testament is important, but the New Testament is a much easier read.


Find a study partner. If you don’t have a friend or family member who’s willing to study with you, there are plenty of groups online and in your Church where you can bounce ideas off each other, try to make sense of certain sections or just talk about how the Bible translates into this modern world. {Embracing Beauty recommends Good Morning Girls}


There you have it. Four tips that will get you well on your way to studying and actually comprehending the Bible in no time. Remember, it’s a journey and there’s no finish line. Studying the Bible can be a lifelong process that opens you up to a new meanings each time you take on a different journey in your own life. It’s there to uplift you and give you comfort in times of need, give you understanding in times of confusion and hope in times of despair.  God wants a relationship with you, reading His Word is a great way to get to know Him!


PR strategist turned stay-at-home mommy blogger, Momma on the Rocks now spends her days changing diapers, wiping boogies and blogging about motherhood, including recipes for the lazy, money and time-saving ideas, and product and book reviews.  You can find more of her antics on Facebook and Twitter.

In Sickness and In Health

I Dos


Ashley Wedding


As you may know I’ve been married to the love of my life for a handful of years. Michael and I live in North Carolina and are in the process of raising a wonderful little girl and an energetic dog.  We said our vows in the church I was raised in on a rainy winter’s day.  The old wooden church decorated with white flowers was breath taking.


We said our “do you takes” and promised to love and take care of each other, in sickness and in health, for the rest of our lives.  Isn’t that all you need, love and a promise?  We weren’t the typical newlyweds, I moved into my husband’s set up house, we had two of everything and had a lot of items to get rid of.  We got comfortable in our local church and became actively involved.  A few months later my doctor informed me that my tonsils would have to go.  Michael was by my side throughout the entire recovery process waiting on my every need.


In Sickness


A few years had passed when my dentist informed me that I needed to have my wisdom teeth removed.  I already had two of the four removed but apparently the other two were interfering with my bite.  This was another occasion my husband stepped up to bat and took care of my every want and need.  I’m pretty sure I almost threw up on him once during this recovery too!


A couple of years later came the discussion about having a baby.  Women birth babies every day, right?  Well, at least I thought it was that easy.  After a few grueling months my  weakness and nausea subsided and my much hoped for smooth sailing pregnancy took over.


Ashley and Baby Pea


Six months later came our wonderful baby girl came with the perfect text book pregnancy. Because I have hypersomnia I had feared that I would have a troublesome labor. I researched for weeks as I read about possible risks that could happen and the statistics of those things happening.  I talked to Provigil/Nugivil‘s parent company, Cetaphil, for any light they might be able to shed on the subject.  I tried not to worry but because this was such an unusual disorder I wanted myself, my husband, and the doctors to be fully aware of the possible complications.  My husband always assured me that everything was going to be okay and to spend my time wisely by praying about it instead of worrying.  I’m glad that he was right and I gave birth to a happy and healthy baby girl!


Michael has always been so protective of me and never leaves my side when I am sick or in the hospital.  His love and protection makes for a speedy recovery!


Recent Worries


This past December, my husband stayed home to watch my sweetie while I went to the doctor over a persistent stabbing pain in my stomach.  A few tests later and antibiotics were on there way to cure my problem.  Five months later, and two weeks ago, I went to my GYN with the same stabbing pain, tests were ran, and I was told to suffer it out until next month and my cycle would correct itself.  The pain persisted and increased.  Two weeks after my initial GYN appointment, I went back and asked for a different doctor.  He ran tests, discussed options, and promptly admitted me into the hospital.


I nervously called my husband from the doctor’s office to let him know that I was being admitted and we had to find someone to watch our baby girl.  After a few worried questions, he calmed himself down and worked towards convincing me to do the same.  He called and asked his parents to drive down and watch our little girl so he could be with me in the hospital.  About an hour later he met me in my hospital room, grinning from ear to ear, while dripping with sweat from carrying three bags and my littlest baby girl in her car-seat carrier.  I failed to warn him that I’m staying in possibly the farthest room in the building from the parking lot. : (


Ashley & Baby


Five days later and he’s still cheerfully by my side, making the time pass quickly with his jokes.  The first day I was in here he wanted to put my baby girl in the bed, draped with an extra hospital gown, while I hid in the bathroom.  He wanted to wait until a nurse came in and act shocked because I had grown young, like Benjamin Button.  Unfortunately for him I was in too much pain to hide for his trick to work.


hospital husband and food


This afternoon he looked over at me and said, “Look at us, this is a glimpse into our future! We’ll be sitting in our retirement community in side by side beds. I’ll be working a crossword puzzle and you’ll be blogging.”  He always makes me smile!


The hospital staff have really been wonderful!  They’ve been attentive, pleasant, and quick to come if I need them.  The food isn’t half bad even though I don’t have much of an appetite.  It’s sad to say this but this bed is actually more comfortable than my bed at home.  I really should get that Sleep Number bed I’ve been eyeing!  While the stay here has been as enjoyable as a hospital stay could be I’m excited about the prospect of going home in a day or two.  I have to come back in six weeks to have my appendix fully removed so if you remember you can say a little prayer for me and for my husband who will be by my side helping me recover.  : )


My husband is my biggest cheerleader, encourager, and biggest fan, all in one.  When he said “in sickness and in health”, I’m not sure if he had any idea of what he was getting himself into.  Thankfully God did and He choose the right man for the job!


What The Bible Says About Exercise

Healthy Living


Since it’s now a few months past our new years resolution and many people included getting healthy/ losing weight in their resolutions, I thought I’d chime in with some of my thoughts today on exercise!


There is only one time that physical exercise is mentioned in the Bible and it is in I Timothy 4:8 – which reads “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”


The Bible affirms that “physical training is of some value“. What does this mean for you personally? Could you have any ailments that you think physical exercise could help? Studies show that exercise gives us physical and mental energy, it makes our muscles and bones stronger, reduces fatigue, depression, and anxiety, helps us sleep better, fights heart disease, and generally gives you a longer, healthier life. “Physical training is of some value.”


Is exercise important to you? Do you exercise for vain reasons? At one time I can tell you that vanity was attached to my exercise. But now that I’ve had a baby and my body has changed (more than I would care to admit) it is less about vanity and more about being healthy.


I won’t list my ailments for you – but I do suffer from hypersomnia which I take medication for and also neck pain due to an old injury. My neck pain literally melts away with regular workouts and sleep. As soon as I stop exercising or sleeping well it returns back in full force. “Physical training has some value” and without it I suffer and my entire family suffers.


I value my exercise time so I have to make it a priority and somehow squeeze it into my routine.  When do I do it?  I have my quiet times in the morning so that free time is taken! Then my busy day begins and is packed full with my family and responsibilities. For me the best time (and the worst time) is at the end of my exhausted day!  Most often at this time of day all I want to do is snuggle up on the couch in my pj’s and hubby, turn on the television and grab my computer – but instead I have disciplined myself to spend 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week exercising.  It’s rare but some days I’ll exercise in the middle of the day.  If I can fit this in during the day it leaves my entire evening free to spend with my family and it gives me more energy to go about my daily activities.


When I fall off the bandwagon, there’s no motivator like a sharp pain the neck to remind me that I need to exercise!


So I want to encourage you that if you suffer from fatigue, low energy, and aches and pains, and you think – “but there’s just not enough time” – you must make exercise a priority – it has some value! It is not a waste of time – it is an investment into your life– your quality of life. Pray and ask God to help you.  Get moving at least 15 minutes three times a week.  And then live your life passionately for God – with energy!


Disclaimer: While exercise can do wonders for your mood I’m not suggesting that serious depression should be ignored or only treated with exercise.  If you believe that you are suffering from depression please see your doctor for PCH treatment or another form of care to treat your depression.




Today I’m pleased to share with you a guest post from one of my very dear friends, Jessica.  I trust this will be a blessing to you as it was to me.


Peace. What a lovely word. Take a deeeeeeep breath and just sit there for a moment and imagine what it would feel like to have complete and total peace…not to be in a rush…not to have regrets…to just sit there, and be…. and to be at rest, both physically, and deep in your soul.


I don’t know about you, but much to my shame, my life is not usually categorized by that word. This year, I decided to take a challenge given by Ashley on EmbracingBeauty.com, and come up with a theme word for 2012. My theme word is peace. While it’s still early on in my journey, I’d like to share a small portion of what God has been showing me.


I used to believe that if only I could get caught up on all the housework, and learn to play the piano, and organize all my pictures, and lose weight, and start extreme couponing , and memorize 1000 bible verses, and…and…and…(you fill in the rest of the blanks) and basically all life’s circumstances would cooperate with me and go the way they are SUPPOSED to, I would be at peace. Maybe you’ve thought the same thing. As I’m sure you’ve found out, life just doesn’t work that way. Unexpected company arrives, and always on that day that you’re way behind on housework and decided not to take off your pjs until noon. A slow moving utility truck pulls out in front of you, and of course it’s when you’re running really, really late. A neighbor’s dog gets in the trash and it ends up from one end of your yard to the other…and inevitably when it’s pouring the rain. So should we just forfeit the hope of peace altogether? How can a girl have peace when things don’t go her way?


There is a verse that flashes in my mind multiple times a day that answers this question very simply: Isaiah 26:3. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”




Not, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose house is sparkling clean.” Or “…whose children obey without whining.” or “…who’s got it all together.” No, instead the verse says God will keep me in perfect peace, if I keep my mind on Him because I trust in Him.


Too often I get caught up in worrying about things that won’t matter at all after today, let alone in eternity. I’ve discovered that if my perspective on life’s interruptions has God at the center, then company seeing a pile of dirty clothes or crumbs on the counter doesn’t really matter so much.  Perspective makes all the difference.


Today, I challenge you to pay attention to your “peace level.” How do you react when things don’t go your way? Are you constantly uptight? Do your husband and children dread being around you after a long day? Do you believe that if you could just “get it together,” you’d be able to have peace?  If so, remember that life will never be predictable. Never. So basing your peace on circumstances will end in a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration.


Instead of falling apart when the unexpected happens, look at those interruptions as from the Lord. Instead of focusing on the fact that you look terrible or your house is a mess when that unexpected company shows up, change your focus to what their needs might be. Maybe the Lord sent them to you today so you could encourage them or even witness to them. Use those extra minutes behind that slow truck to praise the Lord that you have a vehicle to drive and the ability to drive it, and maybe even say a prayer for the driver of the truck in front of you. Make a game of picking up the trash with your kids in the rain, then go puddle-jumping with them. Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we make of it. Make a choice today to cast all of your cares on the Lord, “…for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7b).


This quote does a good job at summarizing what a woman of peace looks like:


“A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest, trusting God because she has come to know him to be worthy of her trust. She exudes a sense of calm, a sense of rest, and invites those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort; she knows that we live a world at war, that we have a vicious enemy, and our journey is through a broken world. But she also knows that because of God all is well, that all will be well…In her presence, we can release the tension and pressure that so often grip our hearts…” from Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge


Lord, starting today, teach me to be this kind of woman.


Hope in Christ


Hope.   Do you have it?


Satan seemed victorious in the Garden of Eden and then again when Jesus died on the cross.   Thankfully, things aren’t always as they seem.  God had a much greater plan.


His plan was Jesus.  The Son of God who, with a loving heart for you and me, died a brutal death as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.  He then proceeded to conquer death when He arose three days later and ascended into Heaven.


Satan was defeated.  Because of the love of Christ, we now have hope beyond the grave.  We no longer need to fear death.  We can choose to have eternal life in Heaven.


Hope.  Do you have it?


Think of Paul, a man who was a great Christian example for us to follow.  His goal was to know Christ, to be more like Christ, and to make Christ known.  It was this goal that consumed all of his energy.


We should have the same desire to know Christ, to follow Him, and to make Him known.


  • With our hope in Christ, we can look away from past guilt and failures knowing we have been forgiven.
  • With our hope in Christ, we can set our focus to become effective in our work for God.
  • With our hope in Christ, we can look forward to Christ’s return.

Hope.  Do you have it?


There is a wonderful reward that lies ahead.  But like an athlete, we need to train hard and run well on our journey through this life.


Friends, there is a beautiful reason to hope.


In our great darkness, God promised to send a light to shine on the world.  It is the light of Jesus Christ.


“For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given…”

– Isaiah 9:6


There is hope in Christ.

Dear friend, if you are unsure where you will go when you die, take a few minutes to read over these truths about man and God:

  • God designed and created the universe and all that is within it, and it is by His power that everything holds together. Colossians 1:16-17
  • God is perfect in all areas and completely without sin. Psalm 96:9
  • God designed mankind in His own image to reflect His glory. Genesis 1:27
  • Mankind chose to disobey their Creator and by doing so brought sin’s curse upon the earth and eternally separated them from the One who created them. Genesis 3,Romans 5:12-13
  • Because of sin’s curse, and my sin, I am born separated from God and deserving of His everlasting punishment. Romans 2:12Romans 3:10-12Romans 6:23
  • God’s Son Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross to pay sin’s penalty, and rose again on the third day defeating sin and death. Romans 5:6-10I Corinthians 15:3-4
  • By turning to Christ from our sin and trusting in His work on the cross alone to save us from our sin, God imparts Christ’s righteousness on our behalf and we are freely given eternal life with Him. He gives us the power to enjoy fellowship with Him and live a life that is pleasing to Him. Romans 5:1-2Romans 3:23-24John 3:16-17

If you have questions about God or salvation, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.  I would love to discuss this life changing truth with you!



If you watched the 180 Movie, what are your thoughts on the subject?


Here are some further questions to consider after you’ve watched the video.

  • Where do you get your views of good and evil? What are they based on?
  • What do you believe about the value of human life?
  • Have you trusted in Christ as your personal Savior? If you don’t understand what that means, be sure to visit our Hope in Christ page or contact us to find out more.

This video was published by www.heartchanger.com.

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My Theme Word for 2012

Wow!!! 2011 flew by, didn’t it?! I truly can’t believe how fast the days went!  Christmas seemed to go extremely quick this year too.  With my Cheap Sally competition, all the planning, purchasing, decorating, baking, wrapping, and mailing I almost missed Christmas!  All of those activities fill us with expectations that usually leave us a little deflated after Christmas. I’m not alone in this, am I?  Christmas is never as merry and cheerful as we build it up in our heads.  Don’t get me wrong – we had a marvelous Christmas!!!  But if your Christmas was less than dreamy perfection, it serves as a reminder that nothing that this world offers can satisfy.  We can’t allow ourselves to continually be chasing the next rainbow, the next mega sale, the next big promotion, the next good thing, rather than chasing after our Savior. Absolutely nothing in this world can satisfy like knowing God intimately and walking with Him!


As I take down the Christmas lights and box up the decorations I can’t believe it’s over already.  In no time at all there will be Valentine decorations up and we’ll be well into 2012.


Did you catch that? 2012!!!  I’d like to take a minute and help you to evaluate your 2011 and choose a theme word for 2012.

woman thinking

Take some time to reflect. Find a quiet place to retreat by yourself {possibly outside} and take your Bible with you.  Read Matthew 27 and 28, and think back on the previous year and commit to living your life for God in current year.


Here are the questions that I use to help me evaluate the previous year and I hope they’ll be a help to you also!


1. Your Walk with God – Did you spend time daily in God’s word and in prayer? How can you improve your walk with God in 2012?


Suggestion: Check your schedule and then write down a set time for a quiet time each day.  Yes, schedule time for your devotions.  Mine is 9:00am every morning after my husband goes to work and my little one is napping.


2. Your Marriage – What is one word you’d use to describe your marriage in 2011? Happy, frustrating, growing, difficult, romantic, secure, amazing. What is one thing you know your husband wishes you’d change in your life?


Suggestion: Write down the steps you can take to change that area in your life. Ex. being more organized, cooking healthier, being more laid back, being more respectful, spending more time alone with him…


3. Your Children – What was a high and low point for each of your children in 2011? What is one thing that each of your children need from you in 2012?


Suggestion: Write down the steps you can take toward giving your children what they need. Ex. one on one time, my undivided attention, memorizing God’s word together, reading more to them, playing a sport with them…


4. Your Health – What healthy habits did I have in 2011? What unhealthy habits did I create in 2011 that I need to change in 2012?


Suggestion: Write down some goals for this area. Write out a specific plan for how you will tackle them.  Maybe even start a fitness or food notebook.


5. Your Ministry – What ways did I use my talents for God in 2011? Pray about what God would have you do in 2012.


Suggestion: Start by surrendering your life to God. Be anxious and willing to be used for His purposes.  Remember that each season of life brings different priorities and opportunities. Spend time in prayer about this and allow the Lord to lead you in this area.

Choosing a Theme Word:

Now take a moment to look over your evaluation and choose a theme word for the new year. Last year my theme word was joy. I began 2011 pregnant and I knew that some days were going to be rough and I wanted to remain joyful regardless of my circumstances.  It certainly was a year of joy too! For 2012, my theme word is…drum roll please…purpose.
I want to live each day with purpose! I want to spend my days pursuing things that are important to God, to my family, and for eternity.  I’ve found that my time can easily be stolen from me if I don’t manage it well and this year I want to be purposeful in how I spend it.  Not only do I want to accomplish more but I want to accomplish things that matter.   I’m sure that you’ll see some of this theme popping up in the new year on my blog, as it is continually on my heart and mind.
So what is your theme word for 2012?  I would love to hear it!

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The Pilgrims Progress Retold

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Colors Can Be Spiritual Too: Finding Books with Eternal Value

Today’s guest post is from a “virtual friend” of mine, Rivka.  Don’t  you just love that name? : )  Rivka Kawano is a mom of three blessings, all age three and under, who is always striving to find the best books for them to grow on.  Her book review website, www.beautifulbooksforchildren.com, is a way for her to keep track of all those books and ideas and share them with other parents too.  I think you’ll find her post to be a blessing!

Kids books are nothing special. A way to keep the little ones entertained, teach them their colors and numbers, and give mom and dad five minutes of quiet.


What if we started thinking of the books our children read as so much more than that. What if we realized that every image, every word, every concept, is developing their mind and helping to create the person they will become. What if we acknowledged that we are sending them messages, some overt and some very subtle, about how we feel about the world and each person’s place in it. I think we could start a revolution.

Think I am being overly dramatic? What kind of message do your children get if every book they own show only children of their own skin color – especially if those books are talking about things like God’s love? When you tell children that neatness counts, and we should always do our best, do you think they don’t notice that when a book is just a cut and paste commercialization throwing colors and numbers on a page? If listening is important, why is it so funny in a book when a child does not listen?

Our heavenly Father has given us parents such a gift and such a responsibility. The books that we chose for our children are a part of that too. We need to invest the time and effort that it takes to find good ones that are falling in line with the lessons we are trying to teach them. Even if it is just a book about colors or shapes.

Deciding to find great books is one thing. Finding them is quite another. It can be done! How do we decide which books are good and which aren’t? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this book beautiful? Does it display the fundamental principles of quality workmanship in the way it is crafted?
  2. How will it make your child feel? What emotions does it display? Are these emotions that you want to encourage?
  3. What are the overt values of the book? According to the Bible, witchcraft is not good, does this book support that idea or contradict it? Do the themes of the book themselves undermine good spiritual principles?
  4. What are the underlying values of the book? Do the characters in the book show respect and love for each other? If not what are the consequences? What is “good” and what is “bad” in this book? Do the definitions of the book agree with the Word of God?
  5. What will your child learn from reading this book with you? Animals, numbers, letters, shapes, how to feel about a new sibling? Does this book present these things in the most engaging way possible? Does it make learning fun?
  6. How are other people presented in this book? Are any groups excluded, demeaned, or degraded either in the words, or in the way they are presented in the pictures?
  7. Does this book tell the truth? Not to mean that we should never enjoy fiction, but does it share the bigger capital ‘T’ Truth that God made the world, that He loves us, and does it fairly represent other ideas and people?

Always preview books before showing them to your children. Children are easily enticed by bright colors and fun-looking characters. It is so much harder to have to take a book away from a child, once they are excited about it, than it is to take the time to see what its contents are before theMom and Daughter Readingy even get the chance.

Always pay attention to what your child is telling you. My three year old has amazing discernment. Perhaps it is because he is less jaded, but often early on in a video program or book he will say “this is too scary for me,” or “this is for grown-ups.” When I have laughed it off as childhood silliness, I have regretted it. If your child is sending you the message that they don’t feel comfortable with a book, perhaps they are seeing something you are not – and you should listen.

It is important that we agree with God and His word in all things. If children are a blessing, then you should not be choosing books that display a new baby as a bad thing. If God made all the people of the world, then one group or another should not be regularly marginalized or made fun of. If hurting each other or being hurt is not part of God’s plan, then it should not be funny to read books, tell jokes, or see shows that laugh at other’s pain.

Finding great books can seem overwhelming at times. Schedule outings without kids to browse books at the bookstore or library. Ask trusted friends and family for recommendations. Or follow a book review website that shares your values.

When you take the time you will be rewarded in so many ways. Not only will you be filling your home with positive messages, but your children will learn to love and value literature, and how to view it critically. The books you do have will get plenty of use as they are enjoyed again and again.

Story books are important, most of the Bible is stories. Make sure the books building your children’s character are good ones.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philipians 4:8 (NIV)