Bible Study Apps

One of my goals is to be more active with my personal bible study. I go to church, and I meet with some friends of mine on a regular basis to discuss a book we are reading together on the Word. However, I have not always been the best at being intentional with my own time with God.

I know I needed to do that but also needed to be aware of what medium would be the best for me to make sure the habit sticks. Also I didn’t want to do something to just do it; I wanted my devotional to mean something.

I have found two apps that I have on my phone that are really helping me see the word more often and take a more personal approach to my faith walk.

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You may have seen She Reads Truth out there. In case you haven’t, you should really check this app out! I have loved using this app for my daily devotional.

This app is set up so you can download a variety of plans that cover many topics. Each plan is split into daily lessons. The number of days varies from each plan. I have had some that are only 8, and then the one I am currently on is 20. Each lesson has three components:  scripture, lesson, and comments. I like that you read the Word first. Then someone from the She Reads Truth staff has built a lesson or sermon of sorts to dig deeper into that scripture. I like this because I like the guidance and then the freedom to think about my own thoughts and application. It is nice hearing someone else’s perspective too. I also love how these women write. They are real and genuine, so I never seem pressured or judged by what they are saying. They often talk openly about their own struggles, and I enjoy the rawness they put into their posts. The comments part is also nice because it allows any reader to post their own stories and input on the lesson. You can often learn even more from these snippets. It builds a great community too when you are able to respond like this. I like that the plans have so much movement with them. Each part gives you more depth and understanding.

You can also do even more with it. There is a note section where you can keep tabs of your personal thoughts as you go through. You can set an alarm to remind you to do your study each day. This is especially helpful if you are trying to create a routine. I do it every night while I am pumping before bed, so generally I don’t forget. Once I stop pumping though, I may use the alarm more often. There is also an option to download screensavers from each lesson. They are beautiful pictures with the Word that are great pieces of art to have on your phone or even displayed on walls.

I have really enjoyed using this app every day. I love how easy it is to use and how practical their approach is on the Word. I do have a few criticisms, albeit minute. Once you are done from a plan you cannot remove it from your list. If you know how to do this please share! I also would like to have a check mark or something on the daily titles to know that I read that one already. Not that it is a big deal, but I don’t always remember the titles I have read until I open it up and remember by the story that I already covered it. It is also geared towards women, so the topics are definitely female heavy. Sorry to my male readers, but I am sure there are other options for you out there. Other than those minor things, this is a great app.

The app itself is free to download. Some plans are free and some are a minimal fee. They have done a great job developing this, and I have learned a lot so far.

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The second app is Daily Bible. I have been using this one for a couple years now, and I am still enjoying it.

I don’t use the full scope of this app, but this also has several parts.

There is a Daily Verse. This pops up in my notifications every morning. It is the first thing that I see when I wake up. I like the quick shot of the Bible as I wake up.

Another part is the Daily Plan. I don’t use this section very often. This is a more lengthy section. This includes several passages from the Bible that are connected in message. It is just Bible verses and no explanations. This would be helpful if you need more guidance on verses that may have a common thread.

My favorite part of this app is the Devotions. These are audio podcasts that you can listen to. Each lasts about 10-20 minutes. I have not listened to all the options, so some may be even longer than that. You can choose from a variety of different speakers. Most seem to be pastors or motivational speakers. There are new podcasts all the time. In opening up different speakers, some may have a new one every day; others may have a new one every week.

What I like about these podcasts is you can pick and choose. It is very flexible and moldable for your needs. You can go back in time and open podcasts from weeks ago, or you can go ahead and listen to this entire week’s worth in one sitting.

The one I listen to most often seems to be organized in having one sermon being broken into several 15 minute sections. I like to listen to this as I am getting ready every morning. It is a great daily reminder to get my day started on the right foot. It helps me focus and encourages me to grow in my faith.

I have used the podcasts while I am running too which I have found is a great time to help me center myself and focus on my innermost being. Mind, body, and soul right there.

So there you have it. These are two apps that I use on a daily basis to help with my journey of faith.

Do you use any Bible study apps? Have you used either of these?

Friday Filter: Book “Evolving in Monkey Town”

I recently finished this book as part of the weekly virtual women’s devotional I have with two of my friends. It’s pretty much a highlight of my week every week talking with these gals!

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Here is what Goodreads had to say about it:

In Evolving in Monkey Town, Rachel Held Evans recounts her experiences growing up in Dayton, Tennessee, a town that epitomized Christian fundamentalism during the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. With fearless honesty, Evans describes how her faith survived her doubts and challenges readers to re-imagine Christianity in a postmodern context, where knowing all the answers isn’t as important as asking the questions.

This was a phenomenal book, and even better used as a discussion starter. I am kind of kicking myself that I bought the Kindle version and not the paper version because I wanted to write all over it and highlight like crazy! But I digress…

As a Christian, I have had my days of doubting the existence of God. My faith has had it’s own ebb and flow due to questions I had and events that occurred in my own life.

Unfortunately though, I feel that in the community of church goers (overall-not as individual people), it is not normal to vocalize these questions. So there were times that I didn’t feel like I could be a part of the Christian community because I had so many questions. I felt like an outcast in a society that should have been accepting and loving of all kind.

I have since grown into my own faith and understand that those questions are ok. With this self-acceptance I had to do a lot of searching for a community that I felt comfortable sharing. And there was A LOT of “church shopping” because of this journey. This was another sad reason for leaving Iowa because I found a church community that was encouraging but also challenging in a sense that I could grow in a healthy non-judgemental environment. It is sad to me that it is so hard to find a church community like this. I know that I am not a perfect Christian nor would I ever claim that this is possible. I have however found a good balance for me where I believe whole-heartedly in God and am able to grow each day in my walk with Him and not feel ashamed by questions that creep in.

The way that Rachel Evans described her journey was very similar to mine. I connected to her experiences on so many levels as if I had written the book myself. It was very refreshing to talk about the human struggles during life and how faith factors into it all. It was a realistic look at Christianity, the acceptance, and the evolution of yourself and society.

Our little trio had a lot of really thought-provoking discussions as we each looked at our our own situations and how our faith was infused into our relationships, jobs, political affiliations, life circumstances, etc.

I think there is a shift in our society about Christianity. Unfortunately, I do believe that many people (especially young people) drift away from Christianity and their spirituality because they are not allowed to have questions or spark up discussions that are against the words of the Bible. For example, I think we can all agree that slavery is wrong, and at some point we all had to put aside that the Bible talks about the governing rules of slavery and know that this is context from the times. Things have to evolve otherwise I would have been traded for goods in my marriage. Why can’t we have honest and open discussions about all faucets of the Bible and faith? It is in these discussions that people can share their experiences and feel valued. You learn through these debates and can grown more through understanding different view points.

Now don’t take that as I don’t believe in the Bible, because I very much do. It provides me guidance daily, and I find comfort in the Word. But I also believe that it is ok and healthy to ask questions or say, “How can this be?” or “I don’t understand where this is coming from.” I feel that through these questions you learn perspective and have a deeper understanding of what the Word is trying to say.

The thing that resonated with me most while going through this book is that in our society there is this over arching idea that there is one way that Christianity should look. However, one of my biggest questions is why is that? None of our lives or experiences are the same. We all look, feel, react differently. So wouldn’t it make sense for our faith to look a little different too? Sure we can share some ideals and practices, but how we ended up there is going to be totally different. None of us will see everything the same exact way.

It is what makes us unique.

And I finally have gotten to a point where I am ok with my faith being uniquely mine. There was a time that I felt like I needed to fit into this cookie cutter way of being a Christian, almost like being part of the popular crowd. I didn’t want to stick out and not be “normal.” But what we often forget is that Jesus was never considered normal. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way with his thoughts on love and caring for others. Why do we insist now to put ourselves into a box to all be the same?

Which brings me to the cornerstone of my faith which is love and being as human as possible with all that we meet. It is only then that I feel we can actually have our faith be infectious and live on as I believe God would want.

But again, these are all my thoughts. I would love to hear yours.

This is a great read that will spark questions and make you go through a wave of emotions. Not only is the content great, which I usually see myself reading faster, but the chapters are fairly short anyway and are broken up nicely. It didn’t hurt that when she wrote this book, she was around my age, and a lot of the stories she used I had my own personal context of “where I was” in those moments. Especially with a topic so personal as faith, I like when an author makes me feel like we are at a coffee shop talking to each other, and that is exactly what she did. She infused a lot of humor into her personal anecdotes that keep you connected to her life story. It is never condescending, but always engaging and heartfelt in her process.  She brings Christianity down to a personal level and encourages you to examine your own biases and how you arrived to where you are. I highly recommend it for any devotional group or for a personal read, although I do think having the group discussions was an added bonus for my personal reflections. I also don’t think you have to be a Christian to read it. She explores so many different topics and history lessons that I feel that anyone can read this and gain some take aways.

Have a Little Faith

Last weekend, I was with my best friend shopping for a wedding present for a friend of ours. As we were checking out, the checker asked whose wedding we were attending. We explained that it was a friend of ours from college. She then asked, “Oh is this her first marriage?”

Annette and I both look like we are still in college so I am not sure where she was coming from on this. She then went on to explain her parent’s divorces and how many people just don’t make it these days.

Well unfortunately she is right. But we were still dumbfounded that it was so common for her to ask mid twenty somethings “if this was her first marriage” like it was nothing.

Typically that is not the first question you are expecting after talking about a wedding.

I come from divorced parents myself so marriage was never something that I took lightly. Tom and I were together for 3 years before we got engaged and then another year before we tied the knot. We went through a lot in that time to figure out that marriage was our fate.

I am not against divorce. Watching my parents over the years, I understand that sometimes, even though divorce can be messy, it is the best for all parties involved. And sometimes it is the only answer to make everyone happy in the long run. There are a lot of reasons why divorce is good and necessary.

But this is not an entry on the benefits of divorce. Marriage is hard work, and sometimes you aren’t perfectly Disney happy. But, I know that I want my marriage to last.

So to make it, you have to have a little faith.

And boy has ours needed faith pretty much since the day we got married.

You envision a marriage growing up as something you see in fairy tales. So perfect and lovely, and always happy endings with a fantastic symphonic overture.

Well, Tom and I have been tested since day one. From Tom’s job search here in IA not panning out as we hoped, and now mine in KY hitting a brick wall, oh and then there is this whole Army thing and being apart for the better part of a year. We have got to have some faith in our foundations.

We have to have faith that someday we will actually be together not stressed about job searches or where we live. (Although my dad in his infinite wisdom says there is always something to stress about. Thanks for the pep talk, Daddio.)

We have to have faith that Tom will return safely.

We have to have faith in us.

I wear Tom’s wedding ring on a necklace every day. I get asked all the time if it’s Tom’s or my dad’s.

Yes, he could wear it over there, but he didn’t want it damaged in case something happened.

So I wear it. Everyday, everywhere. It is a little piece of him close to my heart at all times.

And do you know what is written on the inside of the ring? FAITH.

No joke. I noticed it one day while he was in basic training last year. Neither of us knew it was there until then. Talk about bringing chills.

So it is a constant reminder to me, just to hold on a little longer. Have some faith.

Faith can give you the strength to do things you never imagined.

I never thought I could be an Army wife, until I met Tom. Just a lot of faith, and maybe a little bit of crazy.

So what do you have faith in?

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Now back to the notion of fairy tales and all that jazz.

My favorite princess growing up was Belle. I thought she was awesome. She was a book reader like me (I fantasize about having a library like the one in the movie), and we both have brown hair and blue eyes. I also thought I could sing as well as her when I was a kid, but who was I kidding? Anyway, when you are a kid those were really all the similarities you needed. At the time, I thought all the other princesses were too girly or blonde.

Anyway, my love for Belle and the story of Beauty and the Beast has grown up with me. I freaked out when I was 25 and met her at Disneyworld. I still love the character to this day.

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And I would say that I took some of Belle’s notes and have tamed a beast myself when I started dating Tom. On our first date, he did tell me he didn’t want kids or to get married.

In a month, I will have the chance to meet my childhood idol once again!

I am going to be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Disneyworld. And incidentally, the two women in the picture above are the two who I am running it with.

And yes, I am going to be dressing up as Belle. EEEEK! Dreams really do come true!

This weekend I made my tutu and headband for the affair. I am so pumped!

For the tutu I used 6 spools of tulle (4 yellow and 2 glitter) and an elastic band.

I sewed the band. I would do it smaller than your actual waist because it will stretch as you tie on the tulle. I had to cut some extra off towards the end and sew again, because it grew as I worked through it.

Then you just make knots with the tulle.

Super easy.

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And if you are using glitter tulle this is what happens. Glitter everywhere.

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And for the headband I will wear I bought several flowers, sequins to match and a simple headband.

Then you just hot-glue the flowers and the sequins to the headband. And voila, you have a princess headband!

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I had extra flowers so I made these too. It was cheaper to buy several flowers and headbands in packs than individual ones. Go figure.

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I didn’t have anyone to take my picture, so you will have to wait until February to see the full costume. I know the suspense may kill you.

Just know, that it is fantastic. I am sure this will be the most fun I have ever had running 13.1 miles.