I get asked quite often about the huge bag or backpack I’m always seen carrying around church so I thought I would share its contents … as well as some articles I’ve read from the inter-webs. It’s safe to say I’ve been in a blogging “slump” and haven’t posted much recently, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about the posts I will eventually draft and publish at a later time.

Wesley Study Bible / Common English Bible – One of the most important lessons I’ve learned while reading and studying The Bible is the importance of a good translation. I wholeheartedly believe that if you do not understand the language in which a book is written, you’re less likely to want to read what’s inside. For me, the King James Version is impossible. The Common English Bible is written on or about a sixth grade reading level, making it incredibly easy to read and understand. This particular CEB Bible includes study notes and insights from Methodist founder, John Wesley. It’s truly a personal preference and I encourage everyone who asks about my study Bibles to read multiple translations for themselves. A great place to do so is BibleGateway.com. You can read any verse or Scripture passage in multiple languages and translations … a great resource to “try before you buy” your next Bible!

Harper Collins Study Bible / New Revised Standard Version – I purchased this Bible a year ago from the recommendation of my pastor as it was the Study Bible he used throughout seminary and his journey to becoming an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church. My only regret in buying the paperback version is having to glue cardboard to the front and back covers for additional support and I’ve also added a custom Bible cover. The fact that this particular Bible also includes the Apocrypha gets my nerd juices really flowing. Though there is controversy surrounding the non-canonized books, I think they are worthy and interesting nonetheless.

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge – This is one of two women’s studies I am currently facilitating at church. This particular book and companion study is much different from any of “Bible study” I’ve ever done before. It’s deeply personal and thought-provoking; making me acknowledge and admit things about myself that I would rather sweep under the rug and ignore or deny. It’s not easy admitting there are skeletons in my closet, but God’s grace is bigger than my earthly circumstances, issues, or situations. I give Him thanks for this book, study, and especially the group of women who are willingly exposing their true selves alongside me every Sunday afternoon. I feel like we’ve enclosed ourselves in a cocoon like a caterpillar and, eight weeks from now, we’ll emerge as beautiful butterflies joyfully proclaiming the beauty and power God has bestowed on us. Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to share the transformational power of this study and some of the skeletons that I have shared in my small group … maybe.

Seamless by Angie Smith – Voted the top women’s study of 2015 by LifeWay, Seamless connects the people, places, and events of the Bible into one continuous love story between God and His beloved creation: humanity. From Genesis to Revelation, God pursues us and desires a personal relationship with us, despite our fears, doubts, and mistakes. Angie Smith is an amazing writer and presents lessons with authenticity and transparency – she is not afraid to expose her own weaknesses or admit her faults. She is definitely someone I could spend an afternoon with sitting in a porch swing drinking some sweet tea!

Passionate Church by Mike Slaughter and Karen Perry Smith – I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Slaughter back in March when I attended a special event hosted by the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church at First United Methodist Church in Hurst, Texas. Then, in April, I met Mike again, along with his ministry sidekick, Karen, when I attended the Change the World conference at their church in Ginghamsburg, Ohio. As I continue to mature spiritually and develop into a rising leader at my church, it’s important for me to engage in Scripture, meet with mentors, and continue to serve those around me. Passionate Church is an excellent read about the successes (and failures) at one of the largest and fastest growing United Methodist churches in the U.S., plus it is encouraging to know that we are doing great things at our local church. We are also challenged to step outside our comfort zone to reach our neighbors and share Jesus Christ with our family, friends, and neighbors – wherever they are and whatever they look like.

What I’m reading on the inter-webs:

It’s not everyday that you can say you know someone who climbed Mount Everest, but now I can! I’ve known Gary Ervin and his family for many years – I was a nanny and golf instructor for his two sons during high school and college. On May 15, 2016, Gary reached the top of the world and stood at the summit of Mount Everest. Can you imagine the view?! I’m so incredibly proud of him – he is one of the coolest and most humble people I know – and thankful to God for a safe return home because two of his climbing mates perished on the mountain.

I cannot say my child is actually speech delayed but he is definitely a late talker and this article resonates so much with my heart.

An excellent reminder on the importance of applying Colossians 3:23 in my daily life.

Every book or study bag needs:

InkJoy gel pens – These are my new favorite pens! I love how smooth they write and the gel is quick-drying, so there is minimal smearing. And because I’m a notetaker and margin-doodler, I’ve got to have all the colors!

Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils – Speaking of color, I am in love with twistable colored pencils. In fact, I no longer use highlighters when reading and studying the Bible or other books. My only word of caution: don’t drop them or the lead will break and I’ve not figured out a way to repair them.