The Struggle: Finding a Bible Study That Works for Me

It has been a while, actually, a lot longer than I realized since I have added any posts. This was a bit intentional on my part. I needed to find focus. I needed to step away and hear what God wanted me to do. Then it wasn’t just me any more. The whole world went a bit topsy-turvy, or so it seemed. I stepped away from social media almost completely. I say almost because there are some cases in which I needed to research a few things which took me to social media to find the answers. This is basically all I use it for now.

Why?

I found myself loosing too many hours in mindlessly scrolling through social media and in the end finding no benefit to it. Then, many times, I found my emotions being triggered by posts that had no purpose other than to project anger, fear and hate. I choose not to have anger, fear and hate in my life if it is within my control. Anger and hate are open doors for the enemy to insert a foot and then a stronghold to pull me away from God. This is not my purpose in life. My purpose is to get closer to God. So, social media is no longer a daily activity it is a tool for research only and I only go there when I need to research something.

I won’t be writing about Covid. I will only say this, we are fine. My daughter and I are fine. We follow our government’s advice, we stay home as much as possible and I follow my company’s requirements. Working in a pharmacy, interacting with people every day, means Covid can be a hot topic, a trigger to mine and other’s emotions, and I prefer to hand all my concerns over to God and let him take care of us. He is.

The past week or so, our air quality has been really bad here, due to the fires in the U.S. south of us. So, with the air quality, on top of Covid, breathing for some can be a huge challenge, and breathing for healthy people can be a challenge they never thought they would have to face. I fall somewhere between those two, as I learned my sensitivity to smoke can clog up my airways. Again, we stay inside as much as possible.

I know some people find restricting their movements, remaining home as much as possible a bit frustrating. I am not one of those people. I love being home whether it is with my daughter or on my own. I am never short on things to do.

I briefly scanned my last post just to remind myself where I was at the last time I posted. It didn’t have to remind me that one of the challenges I faced was in how to proceed with my bible studies. It is probably one of the main reasons I haven’t written, because it continued to be a challenge. Finding what works for me has not been easy. I often found myself asking, “why”.

That hasn’t been an easy thing to answer. I looked at inductive bible study method. I looked at the SOAP method. I tried devotionals. I checked out some Facebook groups devoted to bible study and a variety of bible classes from various sources. The list seemed endless and none seemed to work.

The other thing I was hung up on was my prayer life and wanting to be more focused and not so directionless in my prayers. I am not short on talking to God or praying to Him. I just always felt like they were NOT focused where they should be. Too much whining not enough praise, not enough thanks and so on.

I have been doing a lot of research, a lot of reading, and a lot of trial and error and praying for guidance in regards to both my study and prayer life.

I may address my prayer life later but for now I am working on a prayer journal which may work out but it is still a work in progress.

In my research regarding bible study, I came across Cat Woods on YouTube. I watched several of her videos before coming across one on how she studies her bible. This struck a cord with me and I let it germinate in my mind for a bit.

I tried a couple bible classes by Robin Sampson but they didn’t feel like they were fulfilling what my spirit hungered for. I tried altering one of the courses where I would first read the scripture, find images to correspond with what I read, incorporating those images into a journal where I hand wrote the scripture but again something seemed lacking. My spirit hungered for more.

I asked myself “what do I return to over and over again when things don’t work for me…. writing is what I always return to. I have found that my form of study is more of a written form instead of others, who like to use a lot of images in their bible journaling. I do enjoy searching for images and adding them to my handwritten scriptures which helps me to remember what I read, especially when I flip through my journal.

My study in Genesis using images, an altered version of Robin Sampson’s Creation Era class
Another page in the journal.

However, it takes a lot of time to do this and something was still missing. My spirit hungered for more. So I continued searching even though this partially worked for me.

In the meantime, I remembered Cat Wood’s video and I wondered if I could somehow formulate my own method of study. I knew I wanted to be creative in whatever I did and a new idea started to develop.

I knew I wanted to use lined paper so, the first thing I did was print out some lined paper I designed using a beautiful floral image I can’t share because it came from one of the classes I took and is not my own creation. But, by using Microsoft Word, I created lined paper with a background that looks like parchment paper.

I printed this on copy paper, two-sided, so it could be folded it in half to create a notebook using 5 or 6 sheets.

I, eventually, came upon an idea on how to create a cover that would hold about 5 or 6 notebooks. Each notebook would be like a little traveler’s notebook. The cover is based off of a travel’s notebook cover using crochet thread to hold the individual notebooks in place. I can slide out the notebook I want to write in and then slide it back in.

I created the journal today when my computer was updating. Unbelievably, I was done with the traveler’s style notebook long before my computer completed its update which took 5 hours!!

Of course a bible study isn’t just a notebook or style of notebook, it is about a method in which we can dig deeper into God’s word and learn about Him. However, I knew I needed a journal that would suit my needs and so I created this one in a traveler’s style. This enables me to pull out the journal I want to use when I’m studying.

Why 5 notebooks within my journal? Well, I’m not really sure. Tonight I started with two of the notebooks. The first I use for my reference study. The second for my study notes.

What do I mean by reference study? As an example, I started with Genesis 1:1. I start writing out the verse until I come across a superscript. The superscript points to a verse or group of verses in the reference column of my bible. Next, I flip to the first verse from the reference and write it in my journal, indenting it so I know it came from the reference. I do this for each verse or set of verses the superscript refers to. Then I go back to the verse I was reading and continue to write it out until I come across another superscript. Here is the example:

In the bible:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning,A God created the heavens and the earth.B

Reference: A Jn 1:1-2 B Job 38:4; Ps 90:2….

In my journal I did this, everything is handwritten (you might be able to see this in the 3rd image above):

Genesis 1

1 In the beginning

John 1:1-2

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

2 He was with God in the beginning.

God created the heavens and the earth.

Job 38:4

4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Psalm 90:2

2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting

to everlasting you are God.

I continued in this way until I had all the referenced scripture written down under the scripture in the verse I was reading. In the above example there were more scriptures referenced for the B reference, a lot more. In my own journal, I wrote them all out, but for sake of space and time, I only showed two of them here.

What I found when I did this was I gained a greater perspective on what the scripture means, as well as, how it relates in other scriptures. For instance, another scripture referenced in B above (which I did not include) is Isaiah 42:5 “This is what God the Lord says– the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:” and Isaiah 44:24 “This is what the Lord says– your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,”

In another notebook, I dated the page then wrote down notes relating to “who,what, where, when, why, and how” and then my thoughts. My notes included referencing the two Isaiah scriptures to back up my thoughts about how God didn’t just create the universe and our world and step back. He continually has a part in it every moment of every day. He gives us breath. He creates life in the womb, without Him there would be no life. This to me isn’t a new thought but it does instill a sense of amazement and an understanding of how each breath I take is a gift from God.

In just one verse of scripture, and using the reference feature of my bible, I think I have found what my spirit was seeking. I will know more as I continue to use this method. In Cat Wood’s video she didn’t stop at the scripture referenced in the verse she was reading. If for example she was also reading Genesis 1:1 she would go to John 1:1 and write it out until she came to a subscript and then go to that scripture in the reference, and write it until she reached a subscript and go to that referenced scripture and so on. This would lead to a lot of chained verses and can get quite complicated. Since I’m just starting out with my studies I decided to only go one deep which means only looking at the references for the scripture I am reading and no further.

What amazed me most about doing this is how the scriptures written out in this way have a sense of wholeness/completeness to them. They seem to form a complete thought.

When I realized my computer was going to take a long time to update I knew, this was God’s way of telling me I was on the right track for my studies. He gave me the time away from my computer to get my journal together. Then the time tonight to try out my first study in the method I had chosen. The insights from just the first verse in the bible by going to the references was mind boggling to say the least. If my eyes weren’t already strained from the lateness of the hour I would want to continue on to the next verse.

This also revealed to me, my study now is at the verse level and that I should never be in a hurry to get to the next verse or chapter.

What thoroughly blows my mind is the effort and work it must have taken for the creation of the cross-reference system. This was done before there were computers. How they did it just absolutely confounds me.

I did compare two of my NIV bibles that contain references and they are not identical. My study bible has more references. I decided to go with the one that has less references only because I am just starting out and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. Again, this is about taking my time and letting the Spirit lead me.

I am on day 2 now. My study included Genesis 1:2-5 and I felt it no less invigorating and informative. Reading that when God “sends his Spirit, they are created” (Psalm104:30) and “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6) helped confirm a thought I have always had. That the Spirit of God is part of all that he has created.

Learning these things on my own as I am lead by the Spirit is more insightful and embedded than just hearing it in a sermon or in a class. I make a more solid connection with this knowledge in this way than I do if someone tells me. My Spirit also recognizes its truth when I discover the knowledge for myself, whereas, hearing it from another source, there is a certain amount of skepticism.

I am not sure if I will return to my blog to write any more posts. I have been considering removing it but I am not sure if that is what God wants me to do. For now, I’ll leave it here and wait for guidance from God’s Spirit.

I have so many questions…

I have so many questions. They keep returning, again and again. Things like…

What does God want me to do?

What should I pray about?

How should I pray?

Is there a proper way to pray?

Is just talking to God okay?

Is it okay to just tell him what is on my mind?

Why am I so afraid of what He might want me to do?

Am I doing the things He really wants me to do?

How will I be able to tell what it is He wants me to do?

Most days I work on my computer. Who am I kidding? Every day I work on my computer. I write in my journal. I  create graphics or I alter graphics for my own personal use in my journal. I scroll through Facebook looking at images and sometimes reading posts, rarely replying to any comments unless something strikes a chord with me. And once in a while, I write in this blog.

One day, recently, I was working on some graphics in Affinity Designer. I tried to open one of the graphics but Affinity Designer responded with an error message stating the filename I was trying to access didn’t exist and yet I could see it right there in the OPEN FILE dialogue window.

I spent hours trying to rectify this situation.

At first, I thought it was associated with Adobe Bridge which I had installed a couple days previously to help with finding files faster on my system. I had started tagging some files and the one Affinity Designer had issues with was one of the files I had recently tagged, or added keywords for in Adobe Bridge. I use the keywords to help me find the files easier by creating a smart collection. What was odd was Affinity Designer could open other files I had been working with in Adobe Bridge, so I decided to uninstall Affinity Designer and install it again to see if that would fix the issue.

Things went from not so good to another step further into bad. Affinity Designer wouldn’t load after it was re-installed. Every time I tried to load Affinity Designer, it responded with a blue screen stating there was an issue with the cldflt.sys file and would cause my computer to restart.

My computer is really slow on restarting.

I spent several hours researching this new situation. I am sure that several of the “fix it” scenarios assumed the problem interfered with booting my computer but my computer booted just fine. I knew this because every time I got the blue screen when I tried to load Affinity Designer, it forced my computer to restart.

I finally found a location where I could get a clean copy of the cldflt.sys file and instructions on how to replace it. The author of the instructions warned that only the highly experienced should attempt to do this. I took the risk which wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed, and replaced the file, restarted my computer. This time,  Affinity Designer loaded successfully.

However, Affinity Designer STILL had the original issue of not being able to open the file I wanted. Although, the file would open if I located the file in the folder outside of Affinity Designer, right clicked the file and told it to open in Affinity Designer but I didn’t want to have to do that. I wanted to understand why Affinity Designer would NOT open the file when I tried to do so from WITHIN Affinity Designer.

I finally renamed the file and gave it a rather short name that was maybe 8 characters long. Low and behold Affinity Designer opened the file without any problems. So… my original issue was with a filename that was too long for Affinity Designer to handle.

I have run across problems with filenames being too long before but in that case the file just didn’t show up in the software. This can be rather frustrating because more and more people in the business of creating graphics are using rather long filenames and they are either not aware that some programs have limitations or don’t care.

I will admit when I was stuck on the cldflt.sys issue and Affinity Designer wouldn’t load, I started to believe my system might have been invaded with a virus. I had been through enough system problems in my life of working with computers for over 30 years to know viruses can manifest in very odd ways.

In the midst of my struggles and considering the possible infection from a virus, I sat silent before God, with only one question on my mind.

“What do I need to do?”

“Get back into the Word of God.”

rang loudly in the midst of my silence and chaotic mind.

For the past couple of months, or rather since I had completed reading the bible from cover to cover, I had become inconsistent in my reading of His Word. My goal of reading the bible from cover to cover had sustained me and kept me hungry for His Word, but as soon as I had accomplished my goal, suddenly, I was at a loss as to maintaining that focus or how to get it back.

I felt bad. I knew I should be in His Word every day but I couldn’t seem to maintain it.

Then this happened. And BAM! when I heeded his message, I hadn’t been in His Word for more than five minutes when the answers to “fixing” my issues started presenting themselves. I was taken to the location for the clean file to replace my corrupted file. I was able to replace it and Affinity Designer started working again. By the time I had read two or three chapters in the bible, I had also discovered the reason why Affinity Designer wouldn’t open the file, by renaming the file.  I was back to working in Affinity Designer but not until I had finished my daily reading.

I had more questions, like…

What bible study method should I use for studying the bible?

Should I follow the bible study courses I have added to my arsenal as they are, or should I find my own way?

What works best for me?

One of the things which had distracted me from my daily reading was my struggles with setting up a prayer/war journal. I tried about three different ways of setting one up but couldn’t quite make it work for me. It wasn’t something I would turn to every day and when I did, I always felt like it didn’t feel right. I even tried sticking prayer lists on my wall and sitting down to prayer but that wasn’t working either. Eventually, I sat down and prayed, that eventually, I would come across something that would work for me. I sort of felt like I was giving up.

I knew God was working on things. I am continually amazed when out of the blue one of my questions will be answered. The answers never come to me in any way I expect. Some of them come within minutes or hours of me forming the question in my mind. Other times they may come days or weeks later or even months later. Sometimes they come when I didn’t even realize I was asking the question. But in every situation there is no doubt that the answers come from God.

As I continued to try to find something that would work for me, I signed up for a free Bible Journaling Conference. I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it but I hoped I would get something. In fact, after viewing the videos, I was rather disappointed in it. I didn’t think I had gotten anything out of it at all.

Then, one of the videos I had watched kept popping up in my thoughts. I couldn’t understand why it was so insistent on popping into my mind at what appeared to be random moments. When I watched the video, I wondered how the person went about doing what they were showing and describing. The video had appeared to me as a show and tell of what she did with and contained very little instruction on HOW she did it. She, apparently, was doing this with a group of people and they all found it helpful but I didn’t feel like she gave enough detail as to how it was done.

After viewing the video again, and going on a search online to try and find more information, I didn’t find much that helped. Mostly what I found was just tidbits of what she had shown in the video. I started just looking at whatever images I could find and trying to deconstruct them until they made sense to me. I eventually gave up on getting any more information. The thing that intrigued me in her video was  the making of a prayer page and a gift page. All I could get out of the video were two things:

  1. the gift page was about selecting something from our day that we thought was a gift or a sort of gratitude and writing it down.
  2. the prayer page was about writing down one thing to pray about that day and doing some doodling and/or coloring.

Both pages were worked on for the whole month and then you start new pages for the next month. It wasn’t the actual making of the journal or pages that had me stumped. What stumped me was the same thing I had been facing since I started this journey over a year ago:

What is the thought process and how does that translate into prayer?

When I first watched the video, I had questions:

How do you choose what to pray for that day?

Don’t get me wrong, I pray every day. I pray abundantly every day. In fact, I feel like I overdo prayer. Why do I feel that way? Because, I don’t feel like I am very focused on prayer and my prayers feel very selfish and reactive. I don’t want to be that way but that is how it feels to me. I wanted to find a more focused prayer life and one that has purpose and power behind it. One that God would be appreciative of because it wasn’t always “me” focused or complaining in nature. This is why I set out to try and create a war/prayer journal. It bothered me that it didn’t seem to be working out for me.

However, I am learning.

The other things I eventually weaned out of the video and my research, is this:

  1. prayer page
    • divided into sections (can be random or any design you want) or just build it as you go
    • color while praying, helps to maintain focus as you pray (this is a huge issue for me, I loose focus and my thoughts go all over the place, sometimes I don’t even realize I have left my prayer completely for the random thoughts that pop into my head)
    • a scripture is selected for each month and used in the daily prayer
    • select one thing to pray about each day, write it somewhere on the page, then doodle and/or color while praying
    • creates a historical prayer journal
  2. gift page
    • format is a numbered list for each day of the month
    • select one thing from your day that is considered a gift or something to be grateful for
    • write it down on the number for that day
    • consider decorating the page as you go through the month
    • creates a historical record

In regards to the gift page. I heard the word gratitude more than once, and the word gift used not so much or I wasn’t listening very well. I have, in the past, several times in fact, tried writing out a gratitude daily but it wasn’t something that stuck and eventually they started feeling repetitive and to be quite honest, not sincere. Therefore, when I heard the word gratitude in relationship to the gift page, I became stuck. I felt a block go up and resistance entered my heart. BUT, a question kept haunting me:

Why do they call it a GIFT page?

It didn’t take long after formulating this question in my mind for an answer to come to me.

Think of it not as a gratitude page, but ask myself,

“what GIFT can you find in your day which you feel God gave to you?”

I knew when I heard that message, I was going to have to give this a go. I wanted to see if it was something that would stick.

Would it be my thing?

Would it work for me?

The decision to give these two pages a try occurred a few days before the end of October. I couldn’t wait to start.  I wanted to start that very day. In fact, I did write down something I thought was a gift from God that day and did a bit of a doodle which felt good. The next few days was in setting up my pages for November.

I chose a journal that was partially used. This journal had a blank page facing a lined page so the blank page would be perfect for the prayer page and the lined page would be perfect for the gift page.

How am I doing?

Well, I’m still adding to my pages every day. I haven’t been coloring yet on my prayer page but I am writing out something to pray about each day and sometimes I add a doodle to the page. When I take the time to doodle, I feel myself focusing on prayer.

Sometimes, I find it difficult to come up with something I think is a gift from God for my gift page but eventually I come up with something that isn’t repeated. I know there may end up being times when I repeat something, like the warmth of the sun, because I do love the feeling of the sun’s warmth, so I have no doubt God would love gifting me with that feeling quite often.

So far, I am keeping up with it and it feels right, though I still have a bit more to learn about the process for making it more powerful. And I feel like I have a lot of work to accomplish regards to my process for praying.

However, I am learning.

I just had a thought. Maybe I need to create a Question page, and maybe an Answer page. Wouldn’t that be something?

I mentioned my bible studies earlier, so….

what about my bible studies?

Oh, I’m learning there too. At least for now, about what works for me. I’m combining some methods I have come across to devise my own way of study. I’m using a class from Robin Sampson called, “12 Bible Eras”. I’m doing the first lesson “Creation Era”. Robin’s lessons usually involve Bible journaling, which can mean anything from using the images she provides for the lesson or finding free/purchased images or even creating your own, mostly digital or physically in a traveler’s notebook (TN). She does support you in doing your own thing or your own art but doesn’t teach it. Sometimes there is writing but it doesn’t seem to be a large portion of her classes.

I have another of Robin’s classes, called “Proverbs 31 and Bible Women” and I thought I could do what I had been doing in that class, where I take the PDF document she created and add it into my digital journal where I can add my own notes.  I am doing this so I can search for information later on if I want to go back and study something or need to find something. But she didn’t make the PDF for the Creation Era course the same way she did in the Proverbs class. This caused me some frustration. Who am I kidding? It caused me a lot of frustration. I spent a LOT of time trying to get the information from her PDF files which were setup like slides but they wouldn’t format correctly and I couldn’t get it so the text would be searchable.

Once I figured out the process for the PDFs from the introduction, I discovered that process wouldn’t work for the next lesson. The next lesson had 4 slides per page. Printing them didn’t work because they were too small to read. I had to do a lot more work to separate them so they would be larger and readable but once again would not be searchable in my digital journal. Merging PDFs was an option but again the slides were too small.

Then I discovered the next set of PDFs were done even more differently, and even smaller, so I gave up on trying to use the process I had used in the Proverbs class. Or even including her PDFs in anything I was doing.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to find a process that works for me and stick with it. I don’t like having to come up with a new process each time I want to do something. It is very time consuming when all I want to do is just jump right in and learn.

Learning is my passion.

I used to wonder what my passion was. I think I finally know. Learning.

And if I learn something well enough, then I love showing others or helping others learn what I have learned.

I didn’t give up on Robin’s class. I’m taking her class, just adding my own twist to it. From another bible study group, they encourage writing out scripture that is being studied, so I decided to add this to the lesson. I listen to Robin’s videos, which are really just her talking through the slides/PDFs she provides. And I listen to other videos she has linked in her lessons. These videos are available online and don’t require Robin’s lesson to access them. Then, I choose an image I like that represents what I’m learning.  I add it to my page and I hand write the scripture.

As I was writing out the scripture for chapter 1 of Genesis, a question kept coming up, over and over again:

What is the original Hebrew word that was used, and what does that word mean?

So… I started looking up Hebrew text on blueletterbible.org. This site is extremely helpful for bible study. There is much more there than what I’m about to tell you. I lookup the scripture I’m studying and in the tools I can find references to the original language, and read the definition or possible interpretations. This gives me more insight into what the scripture means. I am adding this information to my journal because sometimes what I have heard others say about the scriptures isn’t really in context or within the meaning of the original language used and how it was interpreted. Yes, preachers, ministers, clergymen put their own spin on the meaning of scripture. I love that we now have access to the original scriptures in the language it was written in.

I don’t always realize how inquisitive my mind is. In fact, I didn’t think I was very inquisitive at all until I started writing this post. If I want to know something, I just start researching it. Sometimes, I don’t consciously realize that is what I am doing. I just do it.

What is next?

Where do I go from here?

I’m not sure. I do feel I am finally finding things that work for me. I have no doubt these will evolve over time. For now, I am glad God is teaching me what I need to know and answering my questions.  Sometimes, he even answers questions that pop into my head even though I haven’t taken that question directly to Him. This is something that was mind blowing for me. To know he actually pays attention to my random thoughts and takes the time to respond to them without me going to him in prayer. It is like my thoughts are prayers even when I am not consciously attempting to pray to Him, if that makes any sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I have heard preachers say that God knows our every thought. I believed it but in the way a child believes what someone says is true, not in the way where I believe it because I’ve seen it in action or experienced it. Seeing it in action, is just mind blowing for me, because I never thought I would experience that aspect of Him knowing my every thought and Him thinking it is important enough to take the time to respond.

Below are images from my journal for the Creation Era class. I have used some images that Robin supplied but I also used other images I got from other places. I made the journal by printing a pattern on both sides of just regular printer paper, then folded them in half, stacking 4 or 5 papers together and sewing them into signatures. This booklet has 3 signatures sewn into it. The cover is watercolor paper I painted and then coated with matte medium. I haven’t put a title on it yet. I may not do so until I complete the journal so I know how much is included in it.

 

The writing is scripture handwritten on a piece of paper before I glue it into my journal. The paper was created by me in MS Word where I can add images, background color and lines, before printing it. The I write out scripture before gluing it into my journal.

Before writing out the scripture, I read through it and decide how I will organize it. I don’t mean I change the order of it. What I look for is how to group it. I look for things, like subject or topic, search for images I want to use, then where there is a change within scripture and what image to use with it. In that way, I split scripture into manageable sections. The images help me when I look at the section to remember what it is about.

I discovered something interesting when using images someone else selected for a particular passage of scripture. I don’t connect with it like I do when I find the images that resonate with me. For instance, I used the images for the 6 days of creation supplied by Robin. When I flip through my journal, those images don’t immediately make sense to me. She had no image for Day 7 so I selected an image online and as soon as I see that image I know it is for the day God rested without reading the words. The same goes for the other images I selected in Chapter 2. Now I know, don’t use an image just because someone else used that image, choose one that resonates with me, so that is what I’m doing as I go forward.

I chose to create this journal differently than I did the journal I use for the Proverbs 31 class. I learned the hard way in the Proverbs lesson on issues that can be caused by gluing backgrounds onto a page and how it can warp the binding of my journal, so I’m trying it differently in this journal by printing the background on the paper and then making the signatures. This seems to be working very well.

Plus, my journal isn’t getting distorted due to the thickness of the layers. If I want to go back to this lesson and dig deeper, I will be able to add more notes by creating tip-ins. I could add in a tip-in that has information such as WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW as a deeper study and even later I could add another tip-in that contains relevant references to other passages in the bible.

I expect, I will be creating many, many, many more journals like this as I work my way through the bible. Only time will tell if the prayer and gift pages continue to work for me or if they morph into something completely unexpected.

I am grateful to God for every moment I have in His Word and for the answers he gifts to me every day.

 

Things I’m learning….

Between reading Exodus (Moses arguing with God about his ability to speak.) and the verses from Warrior Women and Prayer Warrior and the challenges I have been facing, lessons are learned which are not always easy to accept. It is difficult to accept my own selfishness and how it can interfere with my trust, faith and relationship with God. But God brings me these things so I might learn and become the person he wants me to be.

For a long time now one of the simplest prayers I pray is “God help me to be the person You want me to be.” I, invariably, say this prayer at least once a day if not a thousand times a day but after the revelation I had last night, after creating the page below, my prayer now has more conviction behind it. It can be difficult for me to remember that I am supposed to live for God, not God living for me and serving me. I am to serve him. I see his hand and I know he is with me, moving the mountain of stubbornness which has been a part of me my whole life.

Prayer Warrior 5

This first image is yesterday’s page in my TN. The opposite page will be filled in with today’s verse.

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This above image is days 28 and 29 of October’s Warrior Women (prompts from Robin Sampson).

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I love being able to flip through my TN and read the verses I handwrite and then decorate as I have time. It tells a story which was unexpected.

I’m glad I switched back to doing this in a physical notebook and not digitally. I may scan it when it is done so I have a digital record if something ever happens to the notebook. I am half way through it. I may have to glue some pages together to help strengthen it and keep it together but that won’t be an issue since I have more pages left than there are days in the month. It is already getting quite full. It includes Warrior Women (prompts from Robin Sampson) from October and Prayer Warrior from November will complete the journal. These two months support each other very well in the story they tell.

I didn’t create all the images and I don’t have a record of where they all came from or I would credit the creators. Some are purchased and some are free. I started learning how to use my Silhouette Cameo which I have had for a couple of years and barely used. It is a challenge to cut out images using it that were not created using the software. I have had some issues with cutting but I think I found the reason why when I read a post on reasons the Silhouette doesn’t cut properly. I am hoping once I sort out the Silhouette Cameo that it will save me time on cutting out images to use in my journals, which will then give me more time for my bible studies.

The other thing I am learning to do is layering to create backgrounds in Affinity Designer. Today, I layered some images for backgrounds and it is the first time all the blend options for the layers came out looking fabulous. Below are two of the blend options performed on the same layers.

I use the backgrounds I create or purchase to print and glue down on my TN pages. I am considering doing this a bit differently in my next TN. I’m thinking of printing the pages on both sides then creating the signatures from these printed sheets of paper. I know, you would think I would have thought of doing this before. It was one of those “duh” moments… lol.. I probably didn’t think about it because I didn’t really have a lot of backgrounds to work with and so for some pages I was using paint to create the backgrounds. Now I have enough digital images  and I have learned how to create my own images that I can use to layer for making my own backgrounds like this one. This is something I can do after work, when I’m physically exhausted from being on my feet all day and I just want to sit and stream some Netflix.

I have also learned how to tag images on my computer so it will be easier to find images for my projects. Tagging them though is time consuming but hopefully worth it in the long run.

 

The Progression of an Unexpected Journey

“Father, you have called me to write today about my journey, use my hands dear Lord to type the words you wish me to share with those who will read my blog. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

On April 8, 2018, I picked up my bible for the first time in a very long time with the intention of getting to know God. Not the God, I was taught about as a child, or as an adult through the churches I attended. No, I wanted to learn about the true God which is written about in the bible. I wanted to know who he is and the history which is contained within the bible. I was also curious how the history in the bible compares with what archeology has discovered but I knew that would probably come later.

Those who read this are probably wondering what this has to do with my journey as an artist. I had considered creating another blog to write about this journey but in truth, my journey as an artist brought me here, so these are not two separate journeys but one journey. My journey.

This is not the first time, in my 58, soon to be 59 years of life, to have picked up the bible with the intention of reading it from cover to cover. No, I remember at least one other time, but more like at least two other times of attempting to do so. You have probably already surmised that those other attempts, were just that, attempts. Attempts which failed. I have asked myself several times what makes my journey this time different.

I believe there is one significant difference. This time I was called upon to take this journey. The other times, the intent was just to be able to say I did it. This time, I felt a hunger that would not subside. I had to open the bible in my lap and start reading it. This time, that hunger did not subside. It did not dissipate. In fact, it grows. Why now? Why not back then? Maybe because I wasn’t ready for the full impact of what reading the bible would do in my life. But I really don’t know.

I can’t really say that there has been any major changes in my life, external life that is since starting to read the bible. At least not that anyone outside of my home would notice, other than attending church from time to time. Attending church isn’t a major motivation for me right now.  I go when I feel called to do so and when it is possible around my work schedule.

The changes which have occurred in my life are more related to how I see God, the part he has in my life, and how I should be handling my life and decisions. My priorities have changed. My first priority every day is to read the bible. It is the first thing I do, even on the days I have the early shift at work, with the exception of taking a shower first and getting dressed, so I’m not distracted with the possibility of not getting to work on time. I read between 1 to 5 chapters every day. There are not many days in which I didn’t read at least one chapter a day. I finished Isaiah 54 this morning.

I have gone back and forth on what I should do, whether I should just read through the bible and consider deeper study as the next step after I have read the entire bible. Or, should I include deeper study while I’m reading through the entire bible.

I started researching bible study methods and tried a couple of them. One source was from Anne Graham Lotz’s AnGeL Ministries website where I signed up for a daily devotional email. After trying a couple of the study methods, I put them aside for later.

To satisfy some of this desire to dig deeper, I started with a monthly topic prompt list of verses to look up. I type them into my digital journal next to a copy of the list. These help me to get a view of particular topics like the one for this month is “Forgiveness”.

I also type in the daily devotional scripture from AnGeL Ministries email I receive daily.

Then I came across a couple Facebook groups which included some bible study with bible journaling, so I tried including one of them. I did complete one of these studies and went on to the next one. I didn’t complete the next one, as you will see later.

Then another bible study crept in that was a bit different and had a two step study. The first step was writing out scripture that we were reading/studying and the second step was to use a keyword list to focus on particular words in the chapters marking them and then answering some questions about them or writing what we learned. This is called the Inductive Bible study method. To be truthful I didn’t complete that study yet. It is easy to find an excuse why. I don’t like excuses, they are meaningless and usually are not connected to the real reason.  I intend to go back to this study later once I have read the entire bible.  I felt like I was studying something out of context without knowing what transpired before. Then too, I don’t think I am ready yet for that type of in-depth study which is how I felt about the previous study methods I tried.

These two studies also overlapped each other. With the monthly prompts and two different types of bible studies, and my daily reading I was overloading myself. I realized too I was just piling things on possibly as a way to prove to myself that I am a godly person. This was not the right attitude to have so I put them aside for later.

I did love writing out the scripture from the one study so I started writing out a chapter a day when I was in Psalms. This, however, slowed down my progression in reading because I was trying to do it in conjunction with my daily reading. After feeling like I was being held back, I decided to continue my daily reading like I had been doing and not let writing scripture by hand hold me back. I now write scripture by hand when I have time to do so. If I can do it daily, I do. If not, if I skip a day or two, I don’t feel guilty about it.

I knew I was piling a lot on because I was still searching for something. I wasn’t sure what. Something was still missing.

I came across another course or maybe it is more like a challenge, called “Time With God” by Robin Sampson. She was the author of one of the monthly prompts I was doing which is how I came across her course. The course is to help, those who want to study the bible, to make a habit out of it. I had already made reading the bible a habit. It was a habit for me from the very first day I picked up the bible on April 8th to begin reading it. I didn’t have to think about it or make an effort to do it. The desire to do it was there every day. In taking the course, I hoped to find a process for my bible study that would work for me. I wasn’t sure if the course would help with that but since it was free, it wouldn’t cost me anything other than time. So, I added it to my daily study/reading plan. I am about half way through it.

I can’t say the “Time With God” course is helping me find a process that works for me, at least not directly. I am learning about things like Asana which helps me in all areas of my life for tracking the things I need and want to do. I have learned about other resources for learning, like torahclass.com, which doesn’t just teach about the bible but puts what happened in ancient times in context with current times. This is what I have always hungered for. Teaching, not preaching.  So this too was added to my studies but not daily.

I have since come across other bible studies online which excite me and I want to try them. One called “Discovering Hope in the Psalms” which I felt I could do since I have read through the Psalms. Hope is something which has disappeared from my life and I want to bring it back. I haven’t started this because of all the things I already have on my plate.

Then I came across “First 5” which is mostly run on an app but can be read from the computer. I’m just not able to make comments from the computer. Their current study is in Psalms, the exact spot where I am in my handwriting of scripture, so I added it as a supplement to my handwritten study, to read for getting another perspective. I don’t have to keep up with the daily post so that works out well for doing it when I have time.

While looking at “First 5”, I discovered it was part of Proverbs 31 Ministries where they also have another bible study. They have a current study which isn’t in alignment with where I am at, I believe it is concerning marriage/relationships and since I’m not married or in a relationship, I looked at some of the ones they have archived.

One caught my eye.

“It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” And yes, I had to add it to my study schedule. Since it is an archived study, I can do it at my own pace.

I don’t know if it is apparent to the reader the progression of events since I started reading the bible. To me, it is apparent that I am being led. In, other words, shown the way.  In some cases, I am given answers to prayers which I didn’t know I had made. For instance, I knew what had happened three years ago in my life felt all “wrong” to me. So I knew as soon as I saw the title for the bible study “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” was an answer to a prayer I never purposefully formed and asked of God. He knew I needed it and in a progression of steps brought me to where I needed to be to find it.

Outside of my bible studies, what is happening in my life hasn’t changed much. I am still in a minimum wage job that doesn’t pay enough to cover my bills so my financial reserves are dwindling.

What has changed is this:

  1. I am no longer stressing daily or panicking daily over this situation.
  2. I am being taught through my bible studies to turn everything over to God and let him stress over my situation.
  3. I know without a doubt he is telling me to “be still” and let him handle things.
  4. I am learning when good and bad things happen, to equally turn to God and thank him.
  5. I have learned to be grateful for what he has already done and what he will do.

I have been given clear messages. I am given exactly what I need when I need it. There are times I am given things I didn’t even know I needed. I remember writing in my journal one day how frustrated I was over my lack of time to do things. The very next day I learned about Asana and now I’m getting more done every day than I did in the past. Not only does it help me know each day what I need to do but I no longer have to worry about whether I will forget something. When I find out I need to do something I put it in Asana, set a due date and when the day comes it is on my list to do. The interesting part is I didn’t pray about it, at least not in the traditional way. I wrote about it in my journal which tells me even when I don’t direct my thoughts to God he knows what I’m thinking and he delivers what I need when I need it.

This means, my financial situation will be fine. He knows what I need and he will deliver it. He knows better than I do. I don’t have to go out looking for it. He will bring it to me as long as I focus on him and make him my priority.

My faith has grown since starting this journey of reading the bible. I know there have been times when I didn’t believe he would provide for me. Stress would eat me alive as I sent application after application to job after job posting and anxiety would overwhelm me when I heard nothing or went through the process of an interview to only hear nothing. I believe this is God’s message to me to “be still”,  learn to make him my priority. Let the rest of this world be and focus upon him. He gives me more than I need when it comes to learning all about him. I have so many resources now I have to use something like Asana to manage them so I won’t lose track of them and I can go work through them learning more and more.

Even in the process, God revealed to me that my last name is Jewish. I may not be officially Jewish but in learning about God, I am also learning about Israel and the Jewish people. To think I could possibly be tied back to being one of Israel’s children gives me a warm feeling inside I can’t explain. I have always been curious about Jerusalem but now I feel its pull even more. I’m discovering something new all the time which brings me a bit closer to God when I do. As much as, I originally set out to learn what I could about the true God when I started reading the bible, I believe the root of that desire was based in a need to feel connected to God, deeply connected. I’m not there yet, but I can see him working to make that happen.