Monday, August 17, 2015

Dear Mama, How to Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: What to do When You're Ready for a Bit More Bible Study {plus a giveaway and an update on the Conference}

Growing up in a good church with a godly pastor and assistants, a loving Christian family, and a truly Christian school, I heard often about "devotions."
Maybe you've heard it called 'quiet time' or 'time with God.'
I was taught that it was important for every Christian to read the Bible daily and pray to God, too.
I remember some times at camp being given a devotional booklet that gave us Scripture passages to read and asked some questions about what we'd read.
Once I was given a small binder that had pages for keeping track of prayer requests and answers.
I was given the ACTS plan for prayer time {Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication}.
My Bible teacher in high school was amazing. He knew God's Word, and he taught us to think.
He instructed us in using a Strong's Concordance and a Vine's Dictionary. 
He taught us doctrine ~ what we {as Baptists} believe and WHY we believe it.
He trained us in how to prepare devotionals and Sunday School lessons.
We even had to share these lessons with elementary students and bus classes.
When I went off to Bible college, I heard people talk about doing deeper Bible studies.
Most of the time the ladies who mentioned these things were talking about working through a study guide based on a topic.
I even bought a couple books that I could work through that would teach me ____________ {you fill in the blank ~ there are lots of them out there!}.

All of these things were good.
I learned the importance and the habit of reading my Bible on a regular basis.
{Habits aren't bad, by the way. But that's another topic for another day!}
I took in a lot of truth from God's Word simply by being in it almost every day.
When I left home, I knew what I believed. I could also give Scripture reasons why I believed it.
I could use the tools I had to prepare lessons to teach others.
I'd filled in blanks in  good books, and I knew that prayer lists were helpful.
But you know what?
Even with all that training, all that knowledge, many days my "devotional" time was just that.....
a time when I sat down, read my Bible, prayed a few lines, and crossed it off my list for the day.

I was a "good" girl.
I'm a people-pleaser by nature, and I didn't want to get in trouble.
I never ran with the "wrong crowd" or dated the "bad boys."
I had moments when something I read in the Bible was exciting.
I had definite times when the Holy Spirit convicted me, or guided me, or taught me something.
But most of the time, devotions was just a thing I did, because I was supposed to.
That's what good girls did.

When trials came in my life, I'd spend more time in my Bible.
I'd search out verses to encourage me in hard times.
I even had a small notebook of them that I'd share with girls in my dorm when they came with questions.
But most days, I felt that my normal routine was "good enough for now."

Then.......I grew up.
I thought for sure that suddenly my Bible time would become amazing! fulfilling! exciting! spiritual!
That somehow the day I became a grown woman I'd suddenly have this quiet time figured out.
I read how-to books on devotions.
I tried the fill-in-the-blank-ers.
I'd read lots of great Christian biographies about people who had deep relationships with God.
I knew godly men and women who spent time in their Bibles and were always excited to share what God was teaching them.
My devotional time wasn't like that, though.
Oh, I kept doing what I'd been doing, but I didn't really remember much of what I'd read before the day was half over.
There were flashes of greatness ~ times when something would really stir me ~ but in time, it would fade away, and I'd be back to my same-old, same-old.
I'd get nervous when I had to share what I'd been learning in my Bible with others, because really?
I didn't feel like I was learning all that much.
I wanted more, and at times I tried different things to get more, but nothing really clicked for me.

About this time, God decided that it was time for me to see who I really was, what I really needed.
He moved me half-way around the world and dropped me here in Ghana, West Africa.
Five months later, I became a mama for the first time.

I found out that I wasn't the "good girl" I really thought I was.
I struggled with crippling fear, seething anger, deep disappointment, a sharp tongue, horrible meanness, overwhelming sadness, and on some days, dark hatred.
God used my new realization of the sin in me to drive me to Him.
And He was enough.

Over the years, God sent more lessons to teach me to come to Him in His Word.
Baby #2 arrived, and then a long season of hoping and praying for another child. 
Surgeries, a miscarriage, new co-workers, furloughs, a baby with a heart problem, dyslexia, a surprise baby #4, a heart surgery, discouragements, set-backs.....all these seemingly hard things were really cords God was using to draw me to His side.

His way worked.
In seeing my need, I learned how much I needed to spend time with Him.
Devotions became more than just crossing something off a list.
It became a soul-need, something that had to be satisfied in me.

Now I have a regular time with the Lord each day.
I journal what He's teaching me.
I journal my thanks.
I journal some of my prayers.

But not long ago, that old ache began to trouble me again.
That desire to take the next step.
The need to dive deeper into God's Word.
As baby became more independent, I knew without a doubt that it was time to find a way to get into my Bible and dig things out for myself.
I wasn't sure where to look, or even what exactly I was looking for.
I didn't want it to be a book about the Bible with handy-dandy study guide.
Though those aren't bad, I was craving a way to get it straight from God, not from a person who had done all the studying for me.....does that make sense?
That's when God lead me to Kari.

I had hoped to have her guest blog here today, but she just couldn't work it out.
She did give me permission, though, to share how God has led her to study His Word, and I believe it could be a blessing to you, too!

She started by "ruining" her Bible....

From there she began looking for a way to organize all her thoughts and notes, and came up with a Do It Yourself Bible Journal.....

And now, she writes Bible Studies to help other ladies just like herself {and me} get more out of the Bible, whether we have 5 minutes or 2 hours!

To be honest, I wasn't really sure I had time to fit in a full-on Bible study, but I believed I should try.

Each Bible study is written with 3 levels.
If you are a busy mama, Level 1 is for you. It only takes a few minutes, but it really helps you think about what you are reading.
If you have a bit more time, you can move on to Level 2 or save it for later and just continue through on Level 1.
Level 3 adds a bit more, and there are also extra studies for each chapter if you are at a time in your life when you have a good block of time for Bible study.

I decided to try out the five minute challenge, and Kari was right! I could fit in 5 minutes of study, learn something, AND remember it! {That's saying a lot to a mama with 4 busy kiddos, including a 22 month old, and lots of responsibilities!}
For full disclosure, I usually have to shove aside a million other things to get it done, but it is worth it!

For all of us homeschooling mamas, she even shares ideas of how to use doodle studies with your kids to help them get more out of Bible time!

For all you weary mamas of newborns, this might not be for you, but tuck it in your back pocket for later, maybe?
But for those of us who have a tiny bit more time for Scripture {even if it's just 5 minutes!}, maybe this is a great way to start studying God's precious Word more!

*Because I really believe Kari's Bible studies will be a blessing to whoever tries them, I'm giving away a copy of any one of her Bible studies AND a copy of her DIY Bible Journal Workbook {Just in case you are a perfectionist like me, it really, really helps!}.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog or on facebook telling which Bible study you would like to start with.
You can obtain a second entry by going over to Kari's blog and looking around, and then coming back and leaving a comment telling me you did so!
*For those who don't win, Kari offers a FREE full-length Bible study for the book of Ephesians for anyone who subscribes to her mailing list {right side-bar of her blog}!

*The winner of the free Scripture download is Snowy Devkota!
*For those of you who were praying for our Love & Marriage Conference, thank you so much!
Though we didn't have lights on Friday night, it wasn't too hot, and our rechargeable lamps worked just fine! God held of the rain for all of Friday night, and it didn't start sprinkling until the last session on Saturday. We believe a good foundation has been laid, and hope and pray that God will use these messages to build strong, loving, godly marriages in a place that has very few.


  1. What a neat idea. I may try this. I struggle with focus and retention because of the Lyme disease. This may help me retain more. Love some of the ideas on her blog. Thanks for sending us over there.

  2. Looks very interesting, I've actually been searching for a deeper Bible study, so I will definitely be checking these out. I would probably start with the Ephesians study.

  3. You have piqued my curiosity! I am SUCH a doodler! I even doodle while on the telephone, through messages, etc. But, I never tried anything with much meaning. I am really going to look into this. I find that, in my own Bible reading, it helps to look for themes and applications as well as information. LOVED this post, Patty! Thank you for sharing your heart and life!

  4. I love this so much! Love your story and your heart! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I love this idea! Thanks for steering me to it!

  6. It's only been a week or so since I discovered Kari's blog & I downloaded the Ephesians study to try. (Maybe today is the day to start!!) I tend to be a perfectionist when I write, so learning to NOT be that way is a challenge. Yet I feel it's necessary if I'm ever going to go deeper than just filling in the blanks. Thanks for sharing & for doing the giveaway!

  7. I love this idea. Kari's blog has So much good info. Would love to try her I Corinthians study. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I am in the middle of your story! I am a missionary mommy of 5 (in 5 years), home schooling, facing prolonged illness... And you nailed it! And the many mom's as I have talked to-all of us facing our need for God and yet chasing the time to feed our souls!
    I would love to try out the study for Luke. I just looked the website and I think we might try this for our children as well! Thank you so much for sharing!