RSS Feed

Bible Study and Journaling Ideas

Bible Study and Journaling Ideas

A few months ago I was searching for tips on how to study the Bible smarter and how to make it more fun. I wanted to pass along those tips through a message to my youth group ladies. Pinterest had tons of great ideas, some artistic, some writing prompt-like, and some very specific and simple directions. After I pulled together a lot of different sources and ideas, I came up with a one page guide to copy and print for my group. I keep mine in my message creating journal and peek at it from time to time for quick reminders and inspiration. I wish I had kept track of all the places I got these amazing ideas, but I didn’t at the time. :[

A quick search of “Bible Study Ideas” should find you all of these ideas and lots more, though. :]

I wanted to make this page available to anyone in case they may find it helpful, too. (And it’s helpful for me too if my copy isn’t with me when I need it! :] )



Bible Journaling & Studying Ideas

Close-Up 2  Close-Up 1 Close-Up 3 Close-Up 4

Google Docs – JPEG download


2015 Theme / Down with the Resolution

A very good friend once told me about how she likes to choose theme words to actively learn about for a period of time. In order to accomplish the goal of growing the chosen topic actions include pondering the theme prayerfully, discussing it with others, studying the subject and intentionally practicing it in real life.

The word for 2014 was “grace” and it was amazing to live life looking for ways to learn about that. I think being married automatically draws out that theme because there’s a constant amount of grace needed and given in a close relationship. It’s been wonderful to learn and discuss the sweetness and necessity of God’s grace for us with others including peers and even our youth group. I’ve truly learned so much and am so thankful for the lessons in grace.

Moving forward, I am so so excited for my word/words for 2015!

Let me clarify though: It ISN’T a resolution because resolutions always seem like a set-up for failure a short time later. I won’t talk badly about resolutions now, but this is real and not something I can give up by springtime.

This year I’ve decided on three words but one concept. At first, I chose “fellowship,” but I don’t mean to downplay the significance of that word. I think it’s often used to describe things and events that aren’t true Christian fellowship. However I know I want it a part of what I do this year. So my word combo is:

fellowship – community – friendship

I am eager to start because I know I lack in these areas. I’m not so good at complete assimilation and with moving to here and then to there it’s easy to move away emotionally/mentally too. I’m partly sort of forcing myself to get over some of my shyness and continue my adventures outside of my comfort zone. More importantly, I’m trying to grow as a Christian and learn how to act in loving Christ-like concepts authentically and unselfishly—a challenge. So let’s connect or reconnect. Let’s meet each other’s families or see a movie or have coffee or cook together or something else. To learn better community I need to be in it and not just discuss or study it. I want to encourage you if I’m able, and I covet your encouragement. This message isn’t just for my peers… This is important: everyone of any age and from any phase of my life, I want to know YOU better.

In case you aren’t sure it can happen because you don’t even know where I am these days: I am living in Arkansas, go to university in Oklahoma, and am quite fond of road trips and travel. So maybe we aren’t as far apart as you thought. :)

Let me know if you want to be a part of my 2015, and we will make it happen.

I’ve been praying for the people I meet with and our encounters together. I’m trusting in God’s love and grace in all things, this too.


A Traveler’s Tale

I’ve done just a little bit of traveling in my short to middle sized life, and, thankfully, I’ve never faced a travel catastrophe so bad I didn’t feel confident I’d overcome it. Even the time in Rwanda when the airport worker took our entire plane of passenger’s passports away before letting us depart. Or the time in Chicago when I missed a flight even after running through the terminal. Or the time I went to Mt. Fuji and found out that the hostel I had paid for online didn’t actually exist and had to find a new place to stay in a jiffy.
No, all these things were just little hang ups that become semi interesting stories to tell your friends about if they ask. With these “adventures” I never ended up with a bad taste of traveling in my mouth.

That is until Hong Kong Vacation 2012.

I’m going to tell you a tale about the misadventures of three girls, and then two, trying to survive and enjoy their Hong Kong exploration without too many incidences. As you read you may laugh and you may cry. I did a bit of both on this trip.

The story goes like this:
Once upon a time, in early September 2012, to be less vague, I bought plane tickets between Hong Kong and Sendai. I paid a little more for the convenience of leaving out of my own city. Along with two friends from work, we were crazy excited to spend our winter vacation time there.

Between September and departure date, we did our research about the things we wanted to see and do there. I bought my favorite kind of book, a travel guide!, and did one of my favorite things, planned a trip. Really, I wish travel agents were more popular these days so I could be one.

Fast forward to December 26: the day before departure. Though I’ve been routinely checking my email, I have not received the ticket confirmation that comes around 24 hours before departure. So I get a little worried, but I’m not going to let it stress me out. But just in case, I should email the booking agency and make sure it’s coming. Also just in case, I should call the booking agency. -_- Not stressed out, huh?

I had to buy Skype credit to call them. That’s a little annoying. What’s more annoying is when Skype charges you for something that you didn’t click on to purchase. Mental note: fix this skype thing after you fix the other thing, Beth. OK.

Booking agency isn’t answering anything. I’m on hold for eternity. Skype credit going down down down. Fine.

Booking agency hours may be American hours…gr. Fine. Why isn’t it 24 hour customer service like everything else? Don’t they know some people live in Japan???

Let’s call the airline and hope someone speaks English. Hooray! A very nice lady from the airline is going to work on it, figure out what’s going on, and email me soon. Thank you God!

Meanwhile, I’ve been talking with my friends and Alycia’s flight was changed online already to leave out of Tokyo in the morning. Hmmm. Ariel and I both have Sendai listed online, but not confirming emails about our flight supposedly leaving in about 20 hours. So Ariel calls the airline, too, so they know we are together and having the same problem. I’m getting nervous, and I’m starting to pack just in case I have to go to Tokyo tonight.

Ariel soon learns that our flight was cancelled. In fact, it had been cancelled two weeks after we bought it, and no one thought we should know. Great! The airline is still being very helpful and kind, though they are the ones who have pretty much screwed us over in the first place. They need time to sort us out, but this we know: we are leaving from Tokyo tomorrow. That means taking an overnight bus in a few hours. Ayayaye.

Overnight bus tickets purchased. New itinerary sent to us. Assurance that the airport “knows we’re coming.” Almost packed.

We will need to get to the bus in Sendai though. We can’t walk all the way there, and it’s really difficult to even walk to the subway with our luggage. So our very kind boss calls us a taxi to pick us up an hour before bus departure. As we are waiting in the freezing cold with our luggage in hand, we watch a taxi drive up the hill to our work where we are NOT waiting for him. Ruh roh. I walk over to where he should drive by again to wave him down. I think I’ve got his attention and surely he will stop once he sees the other two gaijin waving him down. And then he’s gone. We don’t really have a lot of taxis driving by our homes at 11:00 at night so we can’t wait for another one. Bus leaves in 45ish minutes. Big ruh roh.

And who do we call? Our boss again. You can always count on him. Conversation:
Us “our taxi drove past us and we don’t know what to do.”
Bossman: “ok” shuffle shuffle shuffle noises.
We don’t know what sort of ok that was, but we were sure we woke him up. -_-zzz
But we really needed to know what to do next, so we called someone else for help, and they promised to figure out what the ok the bossman gave meant. Apparently it meant he was coming to save the day because he shortly arrived and took us to the bus. He even did some double checking in Japanese that we were safely at the right bus. What a guy!

We were finally on our way to Tokyo, praise God! Sleeping on an overnight bus is as difficult as it sounds. Sleep deprivation was not how we wanted to start our trip but at least we were getting somewhere.

Finally we arrived in Tokyo, and soon we figured out how to get to the airport after only a little figuring out.

Airport time: Alycia was suppose to be on an earlier flight than Ariel and I, so he got in line for her flight and asked if her friends could get on that flight, too. Somehow, after some magic was done, they told us we could be on the same flight. Simply amazing after the start of the trip. We were so thankful, and we even got seats next to each other.

We arrive in shanghai with little difficulty, though we had some ‘splaining to do about our funky itineraries and being on a new flight. But we made it through fine and departed a little later.

After arriving in Hong Kong, the first thing we really needed to do was get money. We had a hostel to pay for and who knows how many places will even take cards (we live in Japan, the land of cash only). We found an ATM and I was allowed to take money, but I had a limit per day, and I did not get enough to last all week. Alycia and Ariel on the other hand had more trouble than me this time. Their banks didn’t know they were traveling and their cards weren’t allowed to work. And maybe a PIN number was forgotten, too. They were able to exchange money, though, so we had enough to get to the hostel and pay for it, but not much else on our first night in Hong Kong. Thankfully, we soon figured out that cards were accepted a lot of places so I was safe for a while.

The next morning I tried to get more money but I guess it hasn’t turned into the next day in America, so it was a no go. We went to Disneyland after that, and as I opened my wallet to get my debit card to pay I discovered that it was gone. Not misplaced somewhere in my purse, but GONE. And I knew exactly where I left it. The ATM. So I prayed for its safety, to not fall in the wrong hands and further that the machine just ate it and I could retrieve it the next day. I was at Disneyland, and I didn’t want to spoil the spirit no matter the situation, so I continued praying and made sure I had an amazing day at the happiest place on earth. And we had a great day.

The next chance I had I went to the bank and asked about retrieving my card. I was told that I’d have to wait until Tuesday when the ATM guys came and opened up the machines. Tuesday was two days before I left Hong Kong and five days after I arrived. I’d have to get through the entire trip with no cash of my own. Why me? I selfishly thought. Really, it was completely my own stupid mistake. This particular mistake just had some icky consequences.

That week I borrowed more money than I care to think about, though I’m happy to say I paid my super caring and stellar friends back as soon as I could. I couldn’t have gotten through that week without those two ladies and ill never forget how helpful they were to me.

The Hong Kong vacation had its incidences like chasing buses to catch a ride but we got through it. On Tuesday I went to the bank to discover that it was closed because…duhn duhn duhn…it was New Years Day.

So another day of living off of borrowed cash and a credit card. The next morning I went to the bank, but they said come in the afternoon. So we spent the day having fun and I went back later. And I nearly jumped and screamed for joy when I saw it in the bank woman’s hands.

The next morning at around 4 am we started our adventurous trek back home. Alycia had another plane ticket bought that was direct to Tokyo allowing her to land mid day. Ariel and I were still counting on our good ol’ airline to get us home. After what seemed like was going to be an argument about getting on the flight we were told we would be on, we were safely heading back to Japan. We stopped in Shanghai for several hours, and we think the customs officer was trying to trick us into getting thrown in jail but maybe that’s just us being over imaginative.  Eventually we were back in Tokyo at around 9 p.m. and through customs and with our luggage at about 9:30.

One of the terribly unfortunate things about Japan is the cash only deal. Another one is that Japan actually does seem to shut down. Trains stop running at certain times. Barely anything is 24/7 here, even ATMs. Ariel and I needed to get back to Sendai, and we were willing to take a bus or train. But the first thing we had to do was get to either of those modes of transportation. We thought there was a bus leaving from the airport that we could catch, so we went to go buy our tickets with barely any money in hand. We found out that the LAST BUS OF THE NIGHT left in 5 minutes, so there was no time to run to the ATM. We asked how much and someone showed us, and with our money combined, we had enough! phew. Oh, wait a second, the lady got our attention because she said no, it wasn’t enough. whaaaaa? The number she gave us was for one ticket. I hated my life so much right then. What a tease.

We knew Japan was shutting down now and we had to find something fast or we were sleeping in the airport until about 10 a.m. the next day when things started moving again there. We got help at the information desk and they even looked at bus companies’ websites to try to find us something. But, to no avail, there seemed to be nothing. However, it made more sense to at least get to Tokyo station to catch the 6 a.m. bullet train or pray that we could find an overnight bus. We just didn’t want to be stuck in the airport until 10 the next morning. So we caught the very last bus going to the station while our friends safe at home in Sendai tried to find us a way to get home that night. Alycia found a bus leaving from a different station, though, and she offered to get our online while we rushed over before the bus peaced out. We hurry hurry hurried over, and while in the station we find out that Alycia’s card won’t go through online. While this is happening, subway lines are slowly closing down and we aren’t sure we can get back to Tokyo station where the bullet train leaves from and certainly our current location is going to close down because it’s Japan. Frustrated and crazy confused about how to fix this, we randomly ask someone about getting back to Tokyo Station. And what do you know, there’s one more line still open that can take us there. Woohoo! Safe again by hair!

We make it back to Tokyo Station knowing that we will be spending the night there. We meander along at 11:30 at night and find the “waiting area” of the station where some homeless people and random dudes were waiting around. Only a little bit scary, but enough to not be comfortable and stay alert. We had about 5 or 6 hours to kill assuming we find an ATM open before the first bullet train left. We found an ATM, but no English buttons or signs. Booooo. We wait around a while and we talk and I cry and we pray and we journal about how ridiculous this has all been. At about 1:00 a.m., people start leaving the waiting area and it’s just Ariel and I. At about 1:30, someone who works at the station comes and makes a big X with his arms and is telling us the station is closed down. This was my huge breaking point where I just lost all control of my emotions and bawled right in front of this Japanese stranger. He couldn’t have known our situation, but I’m sure we young lady gaijin didn’t look like we were in a good position to be kicked out of a train station on a cold night. We literally had no place we knew to go, and Ariel, God bless her, used the Japanese she knew to get across that point. We were given a paper with hotels’ numbers before we were escorted outside next to the cold sleeping homeless. I really felt an extra sense of compassion for them after this experience.

We found a police box, were laughed at, and then pointed in part English and part Japanese to an ATM machine that was open and a 24 hour restaurant. We went with the ATM first. It was inside a 24 hour Lawson konbini. We discovered that though this ATM was technically working, it still had open/closed hours. Seriously Japan? That’s preposterous. But there was nothing we could do about it. Here is where I saw God’s beautiful intervention at 1:35 a.m. The young lady working at the Lawson was trying to help us with the ATM situation, and then Ariel gave her the fuller explanation of our problem in Japanese. Somehow it was understood and the sweet girl said she would call the hotel before we even tried to get there to see if they would take credit cards. It was the sweetest and most helpful thing she could do for us. Through the help of a translation app and Ariel’s Japanese skills, all the right information was relayed and we had two rooms waiting for us around the corner. Ariel gave this girl the hug of a lifetime, and she gave Ariel her phone number to call if another problem came up. Seriously, what a blessing!

The hotel was funny…a smokey business man’s hotel meant for sleeping and probably watching funky stuff on tv. Not our kind of place, but we weren’t freezing or homeless at least. We didn’t really want to sleep alone after everything that happened so I crashed Ariel’s room and stayed with her most of the night. Personally, I wasn’t really ready to be alone in a weird hotel quite yet. The next morning we had no problems getting back to Sendai. We overcame the climax of our problems and eventually wound up home completely exhausted, but safe and thankful to not be en route to anywhere.

It took a really long time to write that. Forgive all typos and grammatical mistakes because I don’t have it in me to read that again…it’s exhausting to even think about again, and this was my last time to relive it.

This was a not exaggerated true story of me and some cool gals just trying to do something fun.

Christmas Songs

While I was editing video for a Christmas skit recently, I was in dire need of the right song to go with the footage. None of my Christmas music really fit what I needed, so I desperately scoured the internet until I found the right one. On my quest, however, I noticed a lack, save one, of really cool Christmas tune covers. Growing up, I really REALLY did not like Christmas music because of the hokey karaoke yuckyness. Except for Dad’s Gary Hoey tape. I loved that one.

So from an ex-Christmas music hater, here is what I like. Is this the best list ever? No way. Will it encourage you listen to even more holly jolly music? <<=

Little Drummer Boy – The Almost

Come Thou Fount – Sufjan Stevens

Carol of the Bells – Family Force 5 cover is crazy and fun. August Burns Red is good, too.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Haste the Day. August Burns Red did an instrumental version, too.

All I Want for Christmas is You – House of Heroes. Kevin Lien, too.

Jingle Bells – Ben Rector. Just got this FOR FREE. I shared it with my Japanese students. They found it snappy and better than the one we usually listen to.

12 Days of Christmas – Relient K

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – She & Him. Zooey Deschanel’s butter voice. ahhhhhhh

Oh Come, All Ye Faithful – Abandon Kansas

His Favorite Christmas Story – Capital Lights

I Celebrate the Day – Relient K

I Hate Christmas Parties – Relient K

Christmas Lights – Coldplay

Joy to the World – Hawk Nelson

Christmas, Baby Please Come Home – Anberlin

Christmastime Is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio (from A Charlie Brown Christmas)


Christmas Pageant – Family Force 5. It’s nuts… but super fun.

Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Knuckles AND Let it Snow, Let it Reindeer – Relient K. These two albums have some of the same songs.

X Christmas album

A Very She & Him Christmas – She & Him

Now That’s What I Call Music – Christmas Volume 1 through a zillion

Fiction Family. Ben Rector. Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Sufjan Stevens.

And all the other cool ones you know that I don’t. If you have suggestions, lemme know!

Note: This music may or may not come in handy when editing videos about Santa on the subway.

Commissioning the End

I’m coming to the end of my time in Japan; the second trimester is nearly over, I’ve lived here over ten months, and I’ve begun reminding my students that they’ll be advancing a grade in Friends Club soon. All things point to March coming quickly.


And while I have so many exciting things to look forward to once I return to America, I still have 100 (ish) days to live fully in Asia. And so my thoughts and prayers have been going into what these last few months should mean to me, to people I know, and to my relationship with my heavenly Father. This time is precious, a gift, in fact, and to not cherish it like I sometimes forget is to waste a beautiful opportunity.


In no particular order, some with explanation and some without:


Think of the lonely times as precious times of solitude with God rather than something sad. I have a whole amazing explanation of how cool lengthy times of being alone can be. Another time maybe.


Do as many new things as possible. Sometimes that means don’t think about it too much. Just eat the raw fish already.


Save money. -_-


Prepare to be a godly wife and helper. Pray. Read. Converse. Stop worrying so much.


Prepare to go into missions. Pray. Read. Converse. Stop worrying so much.


Prepare to be a grown up? …


Find a job a grown up should have. …


Plan a killer honeymoon and reception.


*Worry less about the future.*

Pray for wisdom. A lot. I’ve prayed for wisdom off and on since I was a kid and read about Solomon and David praying for wisdom. I think it’s a cool gift to have.


Accomplish my Bible reading goals.


Get discouraged at least 80% less.


Pray for my students more often.


Focus on the people who have been with me all along this journey. Let the negative feelings from those who didn’t fade away. Count the blessings of loving relationships, and take time to thank those special people.


Appreciate every day the seriously amazing thing I am doing: I live in Japan. Not many people I know can say they’ve done what I’ve done. I am truly blessed.


If you read this, you probably care about me in some way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you are reading by accident, I hope you are encouraged in some way whether it’s having a relationship with Jesus or moving somewhere far away. I’m an example of all things being possible with God.

Praise Him!

A Good Friend

Friendship is something that’s on my mind a lot as I’m here separated by seas and land looking at it in a new way. Since I moved, my life has changed. Obviously. My day to day routine is completely different than it was at home, the people I’m surrounded by are different, and even my appearance and the way I communicate has changed. But there was some things that I was counting on to never change.


That thing was my friendships. There was a group of people that I counted on before I left who soon made me feel disappointed and depressed. I didn’t understand how I wasn’t worth sending a letter on occasion, a message of encouragement to press on , a reminder of their prayers for me… When I was home some friends made me feel special to them, told me everything, and we could grow in Christ together.


But when I left it became much harder to maintain that much contact. That’s ok. But depth in the relationship didn’t have to change. Neglect shouldn’t be acceptable. A lack of encouragement is not ok just because it’s more difficult to do.


I already miss out on so many things by being away. Why do people punish my further with this hurt?


Sometimes moving here seems like a punishment that I chose for myself. Not because of what I do here, but because I don’t know what awaits me at home. There are some imperative people at home who God has used to get me through this year, but the others who make me question what friendship is scare me. I’m scared to go home with disappointment or anger in my heart. I’m scared to go home and see that I was actually forgotten and what I thought were real friendships were much shallower than I thought. I’m trying to forgive, though I don’t want to confront. Can I even do that?


But this is what I’m learning from this hurt. It’s unfair and a mistake to count on anything but God to never change. Humans are fallen. We make mistakes. We grow and change. God is the only thing that’s a certainty; forever loving and never changing. I’ll never forget this reminder of His immutability and love.

Some people don’t understand what it’s like to move away from everything they’ve ever known, and now I know the struggles, especially with relationships. I won’t let others feel like they have no one should they find themselves in a similar place. They will have me and Brad along with their other loved ones. I won’t let them become disappointed with home. I’ll strive for patience, kindness, truthfulness, and encouragement.

God make these things well up in my heart so they overflow into my actions. Keep me from disappointing and hurting others. Forgive my sins, especially when I hurt others. Reveal my wrongdoings in relationships to me. Help me be the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Make me love like you.


In some ways this is me venting after 8 months of not really talking about this. And I’ve done it in a way where people who have hurt me will maybe possibly MAYBE read it (odds are tiny), because I’m just too scared to bring it up like I maybe should. What should I do? Also, if you read this and know someone who needs some encouragement, don’t hesitate to show them love. You don’t know what they could need from you right now. Be a good friend.

Refreshed and Simple

I just recently returned from my Summer vacation, and I’m about to jump into the second trimester of the school year. Without that break I just mentioned, I don’t know how I’d be feeling about another 7 months here.

Here’s a (hopefully) succinctly written version of the break:

Buses to Fuji. Found a place to stay after a horror story of losing the place I paid for. Climb Mt. Fuji. Made friends.

Fly to Australia. Layover in the Gold Coast. Made a plane friend. Walked along the beach in the Coolangata area.

Fly to Sydney. Stayed with one of my favorite people, Ashley. Darling Harbour. Tumbalong Park. Broadway Shopping Centre. Touched the Sydney Opera House. Walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Rocks. Museum of Contemporary Art. Sydney buses buses buses. Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach walk. Wild dolphins. Taronga Zoo. Ferries as public transport. Australian animals. Koalas. Wombat! The Blue Mountains. Waterfalls. Rainforest. Wild kangaroos. Coogee Beach. Swimming. Freezing. Darling Harbour Fireworks. Pancakes on the Rocks. McDonalds’ chicken and cheese sandwiches. Max Brenner (chocolate by the bald guy) hot chocolate. Chinatown. Paddy’s Market. Hillsong Church. Hillsong Church. Nightime walks and encouraging talks. Cathedrals. Different Art Museum. Royal Botanic Gardens.

Fly to Cairns. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. New friend. Esplanade. Night Markets.

Fly to Tokyo. Bus to Sendai. Subway. Walk.

I was travelling alone most of the time, and I made it back home safely. I’m very thankful for that. All those things I saw and did mean more to me than the experiences they gave me, though. I feel so refreshed, like I have a better perspective of my life as it is right now, and like I have a better understanding of what the future looks like.

Life words right now:
temporary. Everything on earth is temporary. And my time here, specifically Japan, is the same. Appreciate this temporary opportunity. Treasure it. Live it fully.

missions. This is on my heart. It will always be on my heart (not temporary). I don’t know how that will unfold for me, but I’m at peace that it will be a beautiful story that I don’t deserve.

Simple words that mean so much. Pray I can live and learn these words as I start the last half of the school year.