Different Bibles, Different Purposes

At first glance, my bookshelf and desk may lead you to think that I’m simply a collector of Bibles. To say I have a lot of them would be a vast understatement.

But honestly, I don’t just read them. I interact with them—and in different ways, too. So much so, that I decided to sit down and think critically about why and how I read the various Bibles I do. And it became obvious very quickly that there truly is a rhyme and reason to my methods.

In short, at any given time I have three Bibles that I’m currently and consistently using:

My “beater” Bible is always an inexpensive, lightweight (usually newsprint) version that I keep inside my purse. Sure, I could (and do) use a digital version loaded on my phone, but I personally enjoy the interaction with a physical book much more.

My beater Bible is far from pretty. It’s strictly utilitarian and it’s usually falling apart, too. If you peeked inside, you’d see lots of notes scribbled in ballpoint pen, underlined verses and a wide variety of small sticky notes throughout. Yep, this particular Bible takes a beating, but I use it constantly—whenever and wherever I am. To help it endure a little more wear, I usually cover it with a little clear Contact paper.

I also have what I refer to as my “beautiful” Bible. This Bible is the exact opposite of my beater version. I keep it pristine: no notes, no underlining, no marking of any kind and only a simple index card for a bookmark. (The latter serves as a great place to make a quick note if I simply can’t stop myself.)

My beautiful Bible is reserved only for reading or praying Scripture, and as such is usually only a text Bible, not a reference or study version. (This means it’s free of any cross-references or commentary notes. It’s the actual Scripture text only.) When I’m overwhelmed, stressed or simply craving peace, I turn to the pages of my beautiful Bible. The lack of notes and extra reference information means there’s more visual breathing room. It’s literally only God’s Word and my own thoughts at that point and time.

Lastly, my “broken-down” Bible features all my personal notes and Bible mark-up. Essentially, this is my study Bible and where I (literally) break things down in writing. Inside, are all my notes, highlighting and questions I may have. I strive to only use acid-free, fade-resistant pens and highlighters in this Bible to ensure all my notes will stand the test of time.

It may seem odd, but I usually opt for a pew Bible for this purpose. That’s because pew Bibles are often made with more tear-resistant paper and are constructed to last a long time. In other words, they’re designed to be handled and I handle my “broken-down” Bible a lot. To make my pew Bible a little more personalized, I usually wrap it with an old-school paper bag book cover or with a homemade Duct tape cover.

Like this post? Watch the video to get a glimpse at the three specific Bibles I’m currently using daily.

How to Take Bad News

It’s not a matter of if, but when. At one point or another, we all get faced with bad news. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to break us. In fact, how less-than-ideal news affects us is completely up to us—and in light of bad news, this simple truth can be a very good thing!

Here are six simple ways to take bad news so that it doesn’t take you down, too:

Resist the urge to react immediately. Instead, opt for patience and pause.
Our reactions don’t just affect others. They affect us, too. A knee-jerk reaction could very well set the stage for even greater emotional stress later. In other words, don’t do something in the moment that you might regret later. Instead, give yourself the opportunity and time needed to carefully think things over before you respond.

Remember Who’s in control. (Hint: It’s not you!)
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21
No matter how bad the news is, the (good) news you already know trumps it all. We already know how the story ends. While we may face frustration, pain and hardship now, our future is secure (John 16:33, Revelation 21:1-27). Remember this. Rest on this. Then, let this eternally good news shed light on any temporal shadows cast by bad news.

Go to and give it to God.
You’re not alone, so don’t act like it. Give your worries, doubts and uncertainty to the Father in prayer. Then, dig into His Word for wise counsel on your specific situation. Don’t know what to say or how to pray? Let Scripture speak for you by reading the Psalms. Turn to the Proverbs for quick nuggets of wisdom. Look to other people in God’s Word who faced similar struggles and bad news. Then, consider how you can apply these truths and experiences to your own personal situation.

Unpack the news completely.
Bad news has a way of knocking the wind out of us, and then masquerading as something it’s not. Don’t let it. Strip it down and carefully think about each piece separately. Things could very well not be as bad as they initially seem. And even if they are, there are likely hidden blessings waiting in the midst of what only appeared negative to begin with. Have you taken the time to adequately unwrap the present to find the gifts that could await you in the future? It’s incredibly easy to completely miss what we’re not looking for. Take the time and steps not to.

Keep it in the proper perspective.
Will this really matter tomorrow, next week or next year? Make an effort to accurately gauge the situation at hand. Then, only allow it to demand your attention and energy accordingly. Simply put, protect yourself by refusing to treat molehills as if they were mountains. Refuse to be fooled.

Consider what you (really) can affect and at what cost.
Take inventory of what—and to what degree—you can have an affect on a situation. Then, consider what it will cost you. Is it worth it your energy, time and effort? What will the ultimate impact be compared to what it will require from you personally? Write it down if it helps. Consider all your options and be honest about your current resources—emotional, mental, physical and financial—before you take any kind of action.

The Benefits of Writing by Hand

Do you benefit from writing stuff down? You’re not alone.

Sometimes it’s far easier to find our way through our thoughts by writing them down. A bit like making our own mental road map, it’s easier to stay focused, to not forget, to go from point “A” to point “B” and often gain clarity in the process of getting there. When we only mentally log our thoughts, distractions abound. We forget things and it’s tempting to stop short of completely thinking something (all the way) through.

In light of science and the very way our minds work, none of this is surprising. But yet so many of us still sit typing away in front of screen—and that’s if we write at all. So, why go analog with paper and pen when we can go digital and access it anywhere at any time?

Turns out there’s a number of good reasons why…

Writing by hand improves memory. The process of putting pen (or pencil) to paper activates specific areas of the brain that help comprehension (understanding), retention and recall. Ever feel like if you write it down, then you’ll remember? You don’t just feel this way. It is this way. It’s the way your brain was designed to work. Don’t fight it.

Writing by hand involves more senses. Journaling, note taking or just plain writing something down involves a wide variety of senses which increases brain activity and keeps you mentally alert. From the visual contrast of the ink on the paper to the feel of the pen gliding over a notepad to the sound of a pencil scratching the writing surface, writing the “old school” way is a sensory-rich experience that keeps the brain alert and active.

Writing by hand can reduce stress by increasing focus. By putting pen to paper, we can free up our brain to continue thinking rather than wasting mental energy trying to hold on to thoughts in working memory. It’s important to actually shut down (or restart) a computer completely from time to time so that it can flush its RAM (or random-access memory). This is the memory that’s accessed for stuff that’s not permanently needed. Writing by hand enables us to do this for our brain, too. In a sense, writing enables us to dump out all the “stuff” that our brain is holding on to and wasting precious mental energy and space on.

Writing by hand can increase our creativity and critical thinking. Writing is a personal process and not surprisingly it can be adapted and shaped to best meet our own individual needs and preferences. From creating thought or idea maps using shapes, lines and words to using various colors to represent meaning to just dumping thoughts out on a page to revisit later, writing offers us the opportunity to extend our thinking in more creative, critical and deeper ways.

Writing by hand can help us lighten our burdens. The process of writing by hand can actually help us improve our daily lives by enabling us to better let things go. It provides the opportunity to reassess (privately) what is and what is not worth our mental energy and effort. Additionally, it can be a wonderful way to practice an intentional perspective, too. In other words, are our feelings and thoughts truly representing where our hearts and heads need to be: in line with God?

The (Many) Hats I Wear

I was downright exhausted the other day, and I couldn’t seem to figure out why. It was really puzzling me. So, I decided to take a quick inventory of everything I was currently managing, taking care of or am responsible for. I grabbed a sheet of paper and wrote down a list of all the different hats I wear on a daily basis…

Mother
Wife
Writer
Friend

Then, I realized there were still other specific hats I wore in relationship to our youngest son, too:

Teacher
Advocate
Home healthcare aide
Medical care manager

But a quick look over the list made me discover that there were even more, much more personal hats that I wore that also monopolized some of mental and emotional energy:

Adult child of an alcoholic
Person with a disability (psoriatic arthritis)

Suddenly, my exhaustion was no longer a mystery. I had good reason to be tired, but I also discovered that I had left the most important “hat” of all off my list entirely: child of God (Galatians 3:26). And as such, I should be doing a better job of remembering to lean on my Father for help, strength, guidance and support (Philippians 4:13).

But the latter doesn’t just happen, does it? We have to be intentional about it. So, in an effort to do just that, I’ve made a personal commitment to become a better steward of me. Our physical, mental and emotional energy are precious resources that should be used and spent wisely. Likewise, how we choose to spend our time should reflect our priorities, too. While we often can’t simply throw one of the hats we wear by the wayside, we can certainly work to make sure we give ourselves the time, energy—and grace—we need to fulfill our various roles. We need to practice patience and understanding with ourselves, too.

I read a simple yet powerful statement the other day which I’ve since posted on my wall:

“I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.”

I don’t know who first said it, but I certainly needed to hear it.

The only way I can wear all of these various hats is by remembering the most important hat of all: the crown of thorns Jesus wore for me, so that I could rest in Him. Yes, we have all been created for a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). We all have many roles to fill and hats to wear. But first and foremost, we belong to God (Isaiah 43:1c).

In the hustle and bustle of daily life when we feel exhausted and bone-tired, let’s remember that it’s okay to pause. It’s important to practice stillness. And we can absolutely enjoy the precious gift of His peace no matter how many hats we’re wearing (Philippians 4:7).

How many hats do you wear?
Have you ever stopped to take an inventory of them all?
I encourage you to make a list, too.
Sometimes, just acknowledging that—yes—we are juggling a lot really helps us to better understand our need to intentionally slow down and rest.

Sensing God for Perfect Rest

My husband, Jason, and I like to get creative when it comes to gift giving. It’s more creative, personal and—Bonus! —saves money. So, when his birthday came around, I was feeling pretty excited to give him my gift.

I laid a soft blanket across our bed, rolled up a fluffy bath towel into a neckroll and carefully arranged all the tiny bottles of essential oils on his nightstand. Then, I grabbed a chair for myself and asked him to lay down for a 30-minute peppermint scalp massage.

At first, he giggled and declined. But after a little reassurance, he complied. I closed the blinds and shut the door. Then, came the real surprise. I cued the music: a track of ocean waves played soothingly from the blue tooth speaker set just a few inches away. All my effort didn’t go unnoticed and settled in happily.

I placed a lavender eye pillow across Jason’s eyes, wet my finger tips with peppermint oil and got to work. Though, it didn’t feel much like work because I, too, was being lulled and relaxed by the gentle sound of ocean waves. Within about only ten minutes, Jason added his own soft snores to the soundtrack. Success!

But then, it happened…

The once quiet, relaxing sounds of ocean waves were loudly interrupted by the abrupt and loud caws of seagulls. I jerked. But Jason laid completely still, snores and sleep uninterrupted.

I wish I could say this only happened once. But I can’t. It happened several more times, each more unsettling than the last. Yet Jason continued to lay peacefully, still snoring and seemingly unaware of the jolting sounds of these sea birds.

As I quickly applied more oil to my fingertips, I wondered how in the world was he doing this?

How could this not wake him?

How could he be this relaxed?

And, man, how can I be this relaxed in God’s rest?!

Jason’s ears were open to the crazy loud seagulls just as much as mine were. Yet his rest was unbroken.

So, with about fifteen minutes left, I started to think about this question. Here’s what I came up with—and it’s helped me. I hope it helps you, too!

God gave us many different ways to experience the world around us.
We can choose to monopolize our senses with the world (including the various things that distract us) OR we can use our senses to help us focus on Him.

We can use our various senses to our advantage. They can help us remember to stay focused. They can even help us calm and manage our emotions when they threaten to run away with us.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light… Matthew 6:22

Surround yourself with God’s Word, so you’ll see it throughout the day. Sticky notes with encouraging Bible verses can be placed on your computer monitor or install an app on your phone that rotates a verse every day. Then, put place it prominently on your phone’s homepage.

For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

Get comfortable when you’re reading and studying God’s Word. There is an undeniable mind-body connection. God intentionally designed us this way. So, use we should use it to our fullest advantage. Make an effort to ensure you’re as physically comfortable as possible when you spend time with God. This serves two important purposes. One, the more comfortable you are, the less distracted you’ll be. And, two, it is an important way of accepting God’s peace.

Remember the story of when Jesus went to visit Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)? Each time I prepare to spend my quiet time with God, I remember this story. Jesus wants us to be comfortable, so we can focus on His company, on His presence. Know this. Do this.

The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Proverbs 15:31

Surround yourself with positive, uplifting, God-ward pointing sounds. Listen to positive music when you’re cleaning house or driving in the car. Put on reflective worship music to help quiet your spirit before your Bible time. Or, perhaps most importantly, surround yourself with people who also love and seek God.

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

When we eat, we’re meeting one of our most basic needs. Eating and tasting food can be a tangible reminder to practice gratitude and be thankful for all that God provides, including His greatest gift: a personal relationship with Him through Christ Jesus (Romans 5:1-2). Instead of mindless eating, we can chew and drink slowly, pausing to remember the ultimate Source of all our sustenance, both physical and spiritual.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing… 2 Corinthians 2:15

Lastly, we can even use our sense of smell to help remind us where to keep our focus. Consider lighting a fragrant candle when you sit down for your devotional time or dab a small amount of essential oils on your temples. As you breathe in deep, focus on the beautiful aroma and remember that God breathed His very own breath into humanity through the nostrils (Genesis 2:7).  And as air fills up your lungs and you feel your chest inflate, remember that you are much, much more than the physical body that your soul inhabits. You a multi-faceted being designed and intended to experience and honor God with your whole being (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The Certainty of Suffering

I won’t identify the pastor I was listening to because I don’t think there’s value in that. Let’s just say that I think it’s always important to know God’s Word and to listen to others with a “thoughtful” ear, meaning take in the teaching, but don’t just leave it at that. Think about it, compare it to what we already know from our own Scripture studies. In other words, don’t just take things to heart and head no matter who says them. Instead, hold everything accountable to God’s Word before we allow them to take root in our lives.

I say this because I was listening to a podcast from a pastor just last night, and sadly I think it could do a lot of emotional harm to many.

His joyful report of the healing of his premature little girl was no doubt encouraging and uplifting. But I couldn’t help but think of the parents whose children hadn’t experienced the same. What would they have taken from that evening’s message? More hurt? Frustration? Maybe even fear that their own faith and prayers weren’t quite enough?

Yes, I know that God is all-powerful (Matthew 19:26). And I genuinely believe that He still steps in to perform miracles today. However, when we focus on these stories alone—the happy, joy-filled stories of miraculous healings—I can’t help but think that we’re rather missing the point.

Suffering is a sure thing. It’s going to happen.

Maybe the point isn’t to try to pray our way out of it or to do everything in our power to avoid it entirely. Instead, maybe the point is to rest easy in God’s will—no matter what that is. After all, isn’t that what Jesus modeled for all of us in the first place (Luke 22:42)? Thank God that His Son didn’t shy away from suffering, otherwise none us would have any hope at all.

When hardship threatens my joy or the pain of suffering starts to cut a little too deep, I try to remember that suffering is part of God’s plan. Our suffering is never for not (Romans 8:28). We can know that God will not be frivolous with our pain. This is true even when we don’t know the “why” behind it all.

And as I listened to this pastor’s story as tears of joy fell down his face and tears of pain ran down mine, another Scriptural truth came to mind:

God placed the rainbow in the sky as a visual reminder of His promise to never completely destroy the earth with water again (Genesis 9:13-15). But that doesn’t mean that rain will never come. In fact, a rainbow is just a reminder that even when the rain storms come—no matter how it may beat down upon us, no matter how high the water gets, no matter how close we feel to drowning in it all—it will not be the end. And even if we suffer and face hardship throughout our entire life, we can know that God’s got a greater tomorrow in store (Revelation 21:4).