Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: Miss Priss Hat

To continue the series from last week of Mother’s Day Gift Ideas, I have a pattern you can crochet as a gift: the Miss Priss Hat. This Hat pattern is one that I designed 10 years ago in April 2008, and I have revised and updated the pattern to improve it. New features include all 3 sizes in one pattern, toddler, child, and adult; new recommended yarn; new hook sizes; and a new bow pattern (Southern Style Bow by Southern Day Crochet, which can be found here). The Miss Priss Hat pattern is available to purchase on Ravelry here or in my Etsy shop here.

I was also able to partner with Oak Viking Designs to create several custom polymer clay crochet hooks to coordinate with the pattern. These hooks are featured in the pattern, and you can purchase your own custom hook for yourself or as a Mother’s Day gift through her shop here. I just love how my colorful glitter hooks turned out, and they are so comfortable to use!

The Miss Priss Hat has a special place in my heart because it was designed for my sister, Heather, as she underwent cancer treatments. This was her favorite hat, and I made her at least 8 in different colors so that she would have many options to wear while she was bald. The hats were soft, washable, and breathable since it was summer in Arizona when she was going through chemo, but her head still got cold. This hat makes a great chemo cap for those going through cancer treatments. Everyone who saw Heather wearing a Miss Priss Hat loved it, and it has been one of my most popular requests in the last decade. Sadly, the above photos are the only ones I have of her wearing her pink Miss Priss hat, but I’ll never forget what she looked like while wearing them. This pattern is dedicated to her memory, Heather Nicole 1987-2009.

Give your mom the gift of handmade this Mother’s Day! Each Miss Priss hat is handmade with lots of love and care. If you purchase the pattern to make your own Miss Priss Hat on Ravelry here or Etsy here, make sure to tag your projects on Instagram with the hashtag #missprisshat and feel free to tag me @kountingsheep!

All the proceeds from patterns and items purchased in my shop go towards my daughter Ellie’s autism care. She was recently diagnosed, and we have some expenses that we need to raise funds for. Thank you so much for your support when you shop through the links on my blog posts! If you would like more information on how to donate directly to our cause, click here.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: In Bloom Book

My third recommendation in this blog series for Mother’s Day Gift Ideas is the amazing book In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence by Kayla Aimee. I had the privilege of being on the launch team for this book back in February when it was released, and even though my review is a little late (better late than never, right?) I knew I just had to share this book for Mother’s Day. I seriously think every woman can benefit from reading this book! This post today is written more towards women, so I think this is a great gift to give to your fellow mom friends, soon-to-be moms, women who hope to be a mother someday, or even a gift-to-self this Mother’s Day.

To order In Bloom by Kayla Aimee on Amazon, click here.

In Bloom is part memoir of Kayla growing up in the 90s, part stories about navigating how to raise her daughter to be a confident woman of God, and part call to action to put aside insecurity once and for all to finally bloom into the confident woman God created you to be. This book not only was touching and witty, but it put into words many things I have felt myself, especially having grown up in the church in the 90s in a culture that viewed “biblical femininity” one way that I didn’t exactly feel like fit into.

To explain why this book spoke to me so much, I must explain a little bit about my background. My mom raised me to be a strong, outspoken/opinionated, independent woman, which seemed to be at odds with some of the teachings and cultures I was surrounded by in church while coming of age. I’ve had a lot of time in my adulthood to explore for myself what the Bible says and what it means to be a woman of God, and as I have shed some of the self-imposed misconceptions of my youth, I have seen God do a greater work in me than I would have planned for myself. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I’d be sharing my personal journaling publicly for everyone to see and read, I would have probably locked myself in my room and never come out (hello, introvert here). I am so grateful to now have a book like In Bloom to recommend to women who have felt insecure and need some encouragement for how to bloom into confidence, and hopefully do it a lot earlier in life than I did.

If you have ever felt out of place or that God got it wrong when he made you, then run to go read this book! Kayla writes: “When we imagine ourselves before and after, we think of the end of one thing and the beginning of another. But that’s where I think we get discouraged because we assume change means becoming someone completely different. Maybe we’re looking at change all wrong. It seems to me that if we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the beginning, then our renewing isn’t meant to keep changing us from one old thing to another totally new thing, over and over again. It’s meant to liberate us of our shame, enhancing our gifts and adorning us in grace” (page 142). Kayla’s writing in this book is so relatable and accessible, and I was flipping through chapter after chapter, not able to put it down. I think one of the biggest messages of this book other than confidence is that you don’t have to live in shame. What a liberating truth that God does not want us to live in our shame, but instead he wants us to be liberated through Christ to use our gifts and bear fruit!

This book is more than just a story. It’s a guide to help identify your sources of inadequacy and insecurity that have bombarded you throughout your life, and replace them with affirming truths from God’s word that you are accepted, loved, and filled with purpose. The text is saturated with biblical truth without being imposing and judgmental. Instead, In Bloom is a celebration of being a confident woman and embracing who God made you to be.

I enjoyed this book so much that I had to bring some of the lessons I learned into the margin of my Bible. I journaled this page in my Thrive Bible in Psalm 92:12-15 “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”

I highly recommend this book, and I think it’s a great resource for helping to instill a culture of acceptance, confidence, and flourishing in the next generation of young women, especially as mothers raising daughters. To order your own copy of In Bloom for yourself or as a gift on Amazon, click here.

I’m also having a giveaway over on Instagram @kountingsheepbiblejournaling for a copy of In Bloom, as well as other goodies. Head on over to my account to enter to win a copy of this book!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission when you purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. All pictures and opinions contained in this post are my own.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: God’s Call to a Deeper Life

For Day 2 in my Mother’s Day Gift Ideas series, I’m going to share this sweet little book titled God’s Call to a Deeper Life by Nancy Taylor. This book is a 366 day devotional specifically for women to experience the word of God in a new way. When I read the description for this devotional, I was intrigued: “God is calling to your heart from every page of His Word. Can you hear His voice? Or does it sometimes feel like you’ve read it all before, and the words enter your mind but fail to permeate your soul? Get ready to experience Scripture in an entirely new way through these 366 devotions. Open your heart to God’s truth in a way that is clear, personal, and relevant to your life. Let these devotions bridge the gap between the eternal, unchanging words written in the Bible and your heart’s desire to connect with the One who cares most deeply for you.”

To order a copy of God’s Call to a Deeper Life on Amazon, click here.

The style and design of this book is very beautiful and feminine, with the pink and gold colors being carried throughout. It was designed with gift-giving in mind for women who love to use devotionals, especially daily ones. The writing style reminds me of that used for the daily devotionals included in the Thrive Bible (review here), even thought it’s a different author.

The devotionals themselves start with the date, a key passage of scripture to explore for that day, a paraphrase of the passage written by the author, and a section at the bottom of the page for reflection. I will admit that I typically like my devotionals to dig deeper into scripture than this type of book, but I appreciate what the author is trying to communicate by paraphrasing. She’s trying to help the reader experience the truths of God with fresh eyes. The author has specifically chosen those verses which are often all too well known, and tries to reinvigorate the reader’s experience with the text.

From a Bible journaling perspective, I think this book would make a great supplement to help guide you through a year of scripture to explore further with journaling. Since each entry is fairly brief, it leaves room for further exploration in your Bible. It makes a great guide for choosing a daily passage , as well as guiding the reader to further reflection.

I think this book would make a great gift for moms who may feel discouraged or disconnected from their daily devotional time, or have a busy life with a demanding schedule. God’s Call to a Deeper Life is the perfect little daily push to reconnect with God and the Bible, without being too overwhelming. You can order God’s Call to a Deeper Life as a gift for the mom in your life on Amazon here.

Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you when you purchase through the links. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale publishers in exchange for my honest review. All pictures and opinions contained in this post are my own.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: One Year Bible Expressions

I know sometimes it can be hard to shop for moms, especially ones who seem to have it all, so I will be doing a blog series all week long about some of my Mother’s Day gift ideas that you may not have thought of! My first recommendation is for the One Year Bible Expressions Journaling Bible. Tyndale was kind enough to send me this beautiful pink hardcover bible to share with my readers, and I was thrilled to receive it. I had wanted this bible back at the beginning of the year, since I’ve never used a One Year Bible before, but they were sold out at the time. If this Bible would be something that would interest your mom or wife, make sure to buy it now rather than waiting til December/January when it’s in high demand (hint, hint)!

To order the One Year Expressions Bible on Amazon, click here.

The reason why I recommend a journaling Bible, even for moms that aren’t necessarily interested in art journaling, is because it’s a personal gift that anyone can use! You can write notes or prayers in the margin, lightly color the illustrations, and just enjoy reading through this Bible. You don’t have to be an artist to use a journaling Bible. This Bible is both functional and beautiful.

What is a One Year Bible though? It’s a Bible that has the entire New Living Translation text divided into 365 daily readings that include a passage from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. By organizing the text in this way, it helps guide the reader through the entire Bible in one year in a format that is more conducive to a busy life, or for those who need the visual ease of having it organized this way instead of having to flip all over the place with a traditional bible and reading plan. Each section is dated from January 1st through December 31st.

This bible has 2 inch margins that are either lightly lined or contain a preprinted illustration. The pages are cream, the text is arranged double-column, and the page thickness is the same as the original teal cover Inspire Bible (read my review for the Inspire Bible here). In fact, the 100+ margin illustrations included with this bible are taken from the original Inspire Bible, so if you have used the Inspire before, they will look familiar to you. For me, I’m actually excited to see these images again, because I was only able to color a fraction of the illustrations in my Inspire Bible before it got too full and needed to be retired. This bible will give me an opportunity to color the images I missed the first time around.

The illustrations on the inside front and back cover are unique to this Bible, and the presentation page is absolutely beautiful! It would make a lovely gift for your mom or wife to color the presentation page and write a note to her. This would also be a great place to let children or grandchildren color for mom or grandma, creating a personal and special gift that she will cherish.

Also included in the front of the One Year Bible Expressionsis information about the New Living Translation, as well as optional ideas for how to use the reading plan of this bible and an alphabetical index of the books of the Bible. I liked that the publisher provided other reading ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of, should I want to read it differently. However I think the strength of this bible is that it’s already arranged for me to read straight through without having to find a reading plan and marking it off each day. The index is helpful for finding a specific passage, since this bible isn’t arranged in the traditional Old and New Testament format.

The hardcover is a soft touch cover with floral detail and etching. The endpapers are printed with a beautiful pink, green and teal floral print. The Bible also includes 2 ribbon bookmarks, which I absolutely love when publishers do this. It helps to have multiple bookmarks if you are reading different sections, or want to go back and reread a passage while still keeping your current place. The bookmarks match the colors of the pink and teal cover.

I did color one page of this Bible using gel pens, just to make sure the paper was the same as the Inspire Bible (it was). As with all gel pens, you do have to be careful to not color over the same spot too many times or it will bleed through. As long as you aren’t too heavy-handed with coloring, they do shadow but don’t bleed. Add a set of colored pencils and/or gel pens when giving as a gift (I recommend Crayola Twistable colored pencils here and Color-It gel pens here). I highly recommend this Bible, and I think it makes a great Mother’s Day gift!

Order the One Year Expressions Bible as a Mother’s Day gift on Amazon here.

Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission when you purchase through the link at no additional cost to you. Tyndale Publishers sent me this Bible in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and pictures contained in this post are my own.

Penelope Infinity Scarf

The newly redesigned Penelope Infinity Scarf knitting pattern is now available for sale! Grab your copy on Ravelry here or in my Etsy shop here.

Penelope Infinity Scarf is a loop of fun that is a perfect transition piece for Spring, when the weather starts teasing you of warmer days, but it’s still a little chilly. Wrap yourself up with this soft scarf that feels so squishy around your neck! Penelope Infinity Scarf uses one skein of Caron Cakes yarn. Learn how to cable without a cable needle with a picture tutorial included with the pattern.

This cozy infinity scarf is sure to become a staple in your colder weather wardrobe. Download the pattern today!

Anna’s Shawl [Free Crochet Pattern]

In January 2011, I created and published a pattern called “Anna’s Shawl.” I was still very inexperienced in my pattern writing, but it quickly became my most popular pattern to date. This pattern was originally created when I made a comfort shawl for a friend going through a hard time. I love the idea of prayer shawls, but I like to call them comfort shawls, because many times when words aren’t enough, a comforting gift is like a loving hug you can carry with you.

Last year I began a project to update all of my old patterns to reflect my improved skills as a designer, but I didn’t realize there was still an error in the pattern. So I decided to go ahead and completely rework the pattern myself using new yarn, Lion Brand Mandala, to fix some of the minor issues with the pattern. My heart for Anna’s Shawl remains the same: that it would be a way for you to either bring comfort to your own life as you work on it going through a hard time, or be a comforting gift to give to someone else.

I am pleased to share my newly revised Anna’s Shawl pattern! Because the original pattern was offered for free, it will continue to be available for free as a thank you to all of my wonderful followers and supporters! See below for a list of supplies (affiliate links) and the pattern. If you prefer to have a downloadable pdf file, you can purchase one for a low cost on Ravelry here or in my Etsy shop here.

Anna’s Shawl

2 skeins Lion Brand Mandala Yarn in Chimera (or color of choice)

Size J (5.75 mm) Boye ergonomic crochet hook (Boye hook set)

Yarn needle, tape measure, and scissors

Finished size: wingspan 60 inches, Center spine 31 inches long (info on how to make a gauge square here)

Level: advanced beginner/intermediate (if you are new to crochet, here’s a great book to get started: Learn to Crochet)

Gauge: 15 sc and 18 rows = 4″/10 cm

Abbreviations (US Terms)

  • ch – chain
  • dc – double crochet
  • RS – right side
  • sc – single crochet
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • sp, sps – space, spaces
  • st, sts – stitch, stitches
  • V-Stitch – (Dc, ch 1, dc) in same st/ch
  • V-Stitch Inc – (Dc, ch 1, dc, ch 1, dc) in same st/ch
  • WS – wrong side

Notes

If you are struggling with gauge, it would be better to go with a larger hook than a smaller one; gauge is not essential. Using the right size hook for your yarn and tension will keep the top edge of the shawl from curling downwards. If you find that it is curling downwards too much, you need to go up a hook size. Slight curling is okay and should flatten out during the edging portion and/or with a light steam blocking. Steam blocking is recommended due to the acrylic content of the yarn. For the Body, the sc count at the end of each row should always be an odd number. You can make the shawl longer/wider by continuing to repeat Rows 48-49 in the Lace Section.

Body

Row 1 (RS): Ch 6. 2 sc in 2nd chain from hook, ch 2, skip next ch, sc in next ch (center sc created), ch 2, skip next ch, 2 sc in last ch. Ch 1, turn. (5 sc & 2 ch-2 sps)

Row 2 (WS): 2 sc in first sc, sc in next sc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, sc in center sc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, sc in next sc, 2 sc in last sc. Ch 1, turn. (7 sc & 2 ch-2 sps)

Row 3 (RS): 2 sc in first sc, 1 sc in each sc across to last sc before first ch-2 sp, 2 sc in next sc, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, sc in center sc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, 2 sc in first sc, 1 sc in each sc across to last sc, 2 sc in last sc. Ch 1, turn. (11 sc & 2 ch-2 sps) Rows 4-5: Repeat Row 3. (19 sc & 2 ch-2 sps)

Row 6 (WS): 1 sc in each sc accross to first ch-2 sp, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, sc in center sc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, 1 sc in next sc and each sc across. Ch 1, turn. (19 sc & 2 ch-2 sps)

Row 7 (RS): 2 sc in first sc, 1 sc in each sc across to last sc before first ch-2 sp, 2 sc in next sc, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, sc in center sc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, 2 sc in first sc, 1 sc in each sc across to last sc, 2 sc in last sc. Ch 1, turn. (23 sc & 2 ch-2 sps) Row 8 (WS): 1 sc in each sc across to first ch-2 sp, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, sc in center sc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, 1 sc in next sc and each sc across. Ch 1, turn. (23 sc & 2 ch-2 sps)

Rows 9-46: Repeat Rows 7-8 until you have 99 sc, ending on a WS row. (99 sc & 2 ch-2 sps). Turn, do NOT fasten off. Continue to Lace Section.

Lace Section

Row 47 (RS): Ch 4 (counts as first dc & ch 1, here & throughout), (dc, ch 1, dc) in same first sc, *skip next sc, V-Stitch in next sc. Repeat from * across to last 2 sc before first ch-2 sp, skip next sc, V-Stitch Inc in next sc, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, dc in center sc (center dc created), ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, V-Stitch Inc in first sc, * skip next sc, V-Stitch in next sc. Repeat from * across to last 2 sc, skip next sc, V-Stitch Inc in last sc. Turn.

Row 48 (WS): Ch 4, dc in ch-1 sp of first V-Stitch, V-Stitch in each V-Stitch ch-1 sp across to first ch-2 sp, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, dc in center dc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, V- Stitch in each V-stitch ch-1 sp across. Turn

Row 49 (RS): Ch 4, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp of first V-Stitch, V-Stitch in each V- Stitch ch-1 sp across to last V-Stitch before first ch-2 sp, V-Stitch Inc in ch-1 sp of next V-Stitch, ch 2, skip ch-2 sp, dc in center dc, ch 2, skip next ch-2 sp, V-Stitch Inc in ch-1 sp of first V-Stitch, V-Stitch in each V-stitch ch-1 sp across to last V-Stitch, V- Stitch Inc in last V-Stitch ch-1 sp. Turn.

Rows 50-70: Repeat Rows 48-49, ending on a WS Row. Turn, do NOT fasten off. Continue to Edging.

Edging

Row 71 (RS): Ch 4, sl st in ch-1 sp of first V-Stitch, * ch 4, sl st in ch-1 sp of next V- Stitch. Repeat from * across to first ch-2 sp, ch 4, sl st in ch-2 sp, ch 4, sl st in next ch-2 sp, * ch 4, sl st in ch-1 sp of next V-Stitch. Repeat from * across to the end of the row. Ch 1, turn, sc evenly across the top edge of the shawl. Join with sl st to beginning ch 4. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Steam block lightly if desired, but original as shown in pictures was not blocked.

Link your project to pattern page on Ravelry here. Share on Instagram with the hashtag #annasshawl and feel free to tag me @kountingsheep. Happy crocheting!

Pattern for personal use only. Please do NOT distribute copies of this pattern and do NOT sell copies of this pattern. You may sell finished items that you make using this pattern, but you are required to credit the original pattern/designer as follows: “Made using a pattern from Kountingsheep by Jenny Galusha-Luna: http://kountingsheep.com ” Do not use the photos from this pattern to sell your items. Do not copy and paste the pattern from this blog post to create your own pattern document. Downloadable pattern is available for purchase here.

Copyright 2018. All photos and written content contained in this pattern are the property of Jenny Galusha-Luna

Please note this post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission when you purchase through the link at no additional cost to you.

CSB Kids Bible [Review]

As the mother of two small children, I know someday that I will be in the market for some good kid Bibles. Right now they are at the age when Jesus Storybook Bible and Really Woolly Lamb prayer books make up the bulk of their “scripture” reading. But as they grow I want to be ready for that first step into a “big kid” Bible with the full text of scripture. Enter the CSB Kids Bible.

To order your own CSB Kids Bible on Amazon, click here.

Lifeway sent me a copy of the new CSB Kids Bible to share with my readers. As soon as I received this Bible, I noticed the bright colorful exterior of the hardcover version (there are several other color options). The bold design carries over onto the endpaper edges and makes for an eye-catching Bible that would be great for a boy or a girl. The size is not too bulky either, especially for being a hardcover. It’s bigger than a thinline Bible, but it’s still a nice portable size.

The more I read the CSB translation, the more I like it. I think it makes a very readable translation for kids as well. The text itself in this Bible is a nice large font and double column. The highly reliable CSB version is one that I would feel comfortable letting my kids read as they learn to study scripture.

Although this is not a traditional study Bible, it does include supplemental material in the front and back with special pages throughout. The front pages have special features like explanations and questions to ponder and quizzes for Bible knowledge. Throughout the text is colorful pages that explain the parts of the Bible and some of the main characters. In the back is an index called “Where to Turn” that gives a list of verses based on specific topics like “when I’m sad” discouraged, bored, angry, etc.

Based on the overall design of this Bible, I would consider it a great starter Bible for elementary aged kids through preteens. Since it includes the full text of scripture, it really can be used by anyone of any age, but it’s marketed to the 8-12 age range. Depending on the reading level of younger kids, I would recommend this for kids as young as 5 or 6. I like that this Bible comes in multiple cover designs so I can pick different covers for each of my girls. I’ll definitely be saving this for my daughters when they get old enough to use it. I am hoping to have the opportunity to review more Kids and teens Bibles in the future, so make sure you’re subscribed to my blog to be notified when new content is posted.

You can purchase the hardcover CSB Kids Bible as seen in the pictures of this post on Amazon here.

Want to read more Bible reviews? Visit the Bible Reviews page to see all available posts.

Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. B&H/Lifeway publishers sent me a copy of this Bible in exchange for my honest review. All pictures and opinions contained in this post are my own.

Lent 2018 Study Ideas: Drawn In

The season of Lent begins early this year, so I spent a lot of time in January thinking about what study guide or plan I wanted to use during the 40 days leading up to Easter. Then I remembered that Tyndale had sent me two new coloring Study books from a series called Drawn In Bible Study by Eugene Peterson using The Message translation, and I realized going through one of these books would be perfect! I received the studies on Esther and Mary, and although I’ve decided to use Mary for Lent, I’ll be showing you both versions in this post. They also have a third one on Ruththat I don’t have a copy of, but wanted to mention that it was available as well.

You can order Drawn In Bible Study: Mary on Amazon here, Esther available here, and Ruth available here. You can order The Message Canvas Bible on Amazon, as seen in these pictures, here.

Here is the description of the series from the publisher: “Color with friends. Be drawn into scripture. Deepen your friendships as you gather around Scripture for coloring and conversation. Drawn In offers simple four-week Bible studies―perfect for groups or personal devotions. Coloring quiets your heart and mind so you can enter fully into Scripture’s stories. The Bible’s passion and personality come through in The Message, surprising new and old Bible readers alike. Discover the delight of being Drawn In.”

Each book contains 4 sessions that are designed to be used over 4 weeks. It can be used on your own for personal study or as a group bible study guide with additional suggestions in the back for group discussion suggestions and ideas. The study content is written by Eugene Peterson, a well-known author who also created The Message translation of the Bible, which is the scripture used in these books when quoted throughout. The full scripture text is not provided, so you will need your Bible in order to study along with these books.

The illustrations themselves are a highlight of these books. Spread throughout the entire book, they are both full page and partial page designs. The style is reminiscent of that used in The Message Canvas Bible (you can read my review here). My one criticism for the design of these books is that they don’t lay flat, which makes it a bit hard to write and color in them. I bent the binding of mine to be able to get them to lay flat in certain spots, and the binding is holding up well so far. Some illustrations also peek around the edges of pages and there are a few in the introduction, which would be great for practice.

There are lots of questions with space to write at the end of each 6 sections within each session. That gives you six days during the week to work through a session of you decide to do one session a week. I haven’t had a chance to read through the questions, but I’m excited to go through Drawn In: Mary for Lent. I’ll be able to break it up into the smaller sections for a daily reading to get me through this season, with a few days for catching up, which I’m sure I’ll inevitably need.

I think these little books would make a great individual or group bible study tool. The study itself isn’t super in-depth, but there is a ton of thought-provoking content and space to meditate and color. If you’re interested in going through the Mary study with me, you can order your copy on Amazon here. I will be posting my progress here on my blog and on my Instagram @kountingsheepbiblejournaling.

Please note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Tyndale sent me a copy of these books in exchange for my honest review. All pictures and opinions contained within this post are my own.

The Apologetics Study Bible [Review]

When I received The Apologetics Study Bible (CSB) from B&H/Lifeway, my original intention was to review it and then pass it off to my husband. And then I started reading it, the opening articles drew me in, and I couldn’t stop. What started as skimming for the purpose of a review has turned into a desire to devour everything about this Bible.

You can order a your own Apologetics Study Bible on Amazon here.

The publishers describe The Apologetics Study Bible as a Bible that “helps today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in an age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. This revised and updated edition includes new articles and extensive apologetics study material from today’s leading apologists to reflect and provide deeper understanding of the relevant apologetics issues and questions being discussed today. Includes commentary from over 90 leading apologists, including: Ted Cabal, Lee Strobel, Chuck Colson, Paul Copan, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, and many more — plus a lead article by Lee Strobel ( The Case for Christ).

Features include: Presentation page, Book Introductions, Study Notes, Apologetics articles from leading apologists, “Twisted Scripture” explanations for commonly misunderstood passages, Profiles of Christian apologists, Two-color interior, Two-column text, 9.75-point type size, Smyth-sewn binding, Ribbon marker, Full-color maps, and more.

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-transforming message and to share it with others.”

One of my favorite features of this Bible is the clear study notes at the bottom of the pages. These notes help provide insight to historical customs and context, times when a person chose to sin instead of follow God, and the purposes and meanings behind things like genealogy and numbers. Another feature that I enjoyed while reading the text is the “Twisted Scripture” blurbs spread sporadically throughout. These small sections help illuminate ways that certain cultures, religions, or people groups have taken a certain passage of scripture and twisted it to mean something that distorts the original intention.

Of course the main draw of this Bible aside from the biblical text is the articles themselves. The articles are highlighted throughout with a distinctive gray design on the pages. This helps to distinguish the added articles from the scripture text itself. These articles are in no way adding to scripture but enhancing it, as well as exploring various topics that are controversial and relevant to today’s Christian. There is an index included in the front that lists the title, author, and page number for every article, so if you’re searching for a specific topic, you can find it with ease.

The design of The Apologetics Study Bible is clean and simple, creating a distraction-free reading experience. I will say that due to the content of some of the articles, it can get a bit academic and feel like reading a textbook. However, this doesn’t bother me as I enjoyed reading textbooks in college, but I wanted to mention that these are not light, fluffy articles. I think the hardcover version also adds to the feeling of a textbook, but luckily it’s not so thick that it’s too cumbersome to hold in your lap to read.

As graduation season approaches, I think this Bible would make a great gift for high school or college graduates looking to explore their faith on a deeper level, and it will equip them with intellectual tools to aid them in the defense of their faith. Since the articles are written by a variety of experts, theologians, and apologists, it appeals to a broad age range, as well as both men and women. I highly recommend this Bible, and I’m looking forward to reading more from it throughout the next year as I read the Bible in a year.

To purchase The Apologetics Study Bible (CSB) on Amazon, click here.

Want to read more Bible reviews? Visit the Bible Reviews page to see all available posts.

Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission when you purchase through the link at no additional cost to you. B&H/Lifeway publishers sent me a copy of this Bible in exchange for my honest review. All pictures and opinions contained in this post are my own.

My 2018 Plans And #Goals

It’s officially 2018, and with the start of a new year means lots of people making plans, goals, and resolutions. I’m not really a resolution type girl, but I do like to make plans (even if that means watching them crash and burn later in the year). Since I started journaling 2 years ago, usually my start of a new year now includes new Bible studies and journaling plans. If you want to see more of my journaling plans in-depth, check out my YouTube video “My 2018 Plans” here.

Speaking of new Bible studies, I finally got a hold of the January #Goals kit from Dayspring. There were some delays with this one beyond their control but it’s finally here. You can watch my unboxing video here and purchase your #Goals kit from Dayspring here.

At first I wasn’t thrilled when I heard the theme of this kit, but then once I saw it, I was totally hooked. This kit is not only packed with some great content and more scripture references, but it is very visually appealing. The geometric patterns and lettering style that they used for the design of this kit makes me want to jump into my Bible and create as I meditate on the Word.

Here are some of my favorite things about #Goals: the shape of the tip-ins make them easier to use in the margin (plus they’re just so pretty), the 8 devotional cards all include a scripture reference in addition to questions and devotional content, the sticker sheet with all the words has filled in the blank space with mini diamond stickers, and can we just admire that geometric diamonds stamp *all the heart eyes* that I just want to use on everything. Also did you notice they’ve added in the color purple to their normal “Illustrated Faith” color scheme?

My one criticism for this kit is that I wish they had picked a different word other than using “hope” twice on the stamp set. I’m not a fan of the duplicates they’ve been prone to doing on the stamp sets lately because since the size has been reduced, I feel like they need to maximize what stamps are included as much as possible. However that geometric diamonds stamp alone would make this kit worth it to me, since I’m a stamp girl and one stamp can really sell a kit or a set to me.

If you watched my unboxing video, you will have seen my bonus process of the first session #Wisdom Goals. I made a bit of a mess in my Inspire Praise Bible on the video, but after I turned off the camera and thought through what the first session was trying to say and what I wanted to journal, I was able to fix my page. I did decide to journal through this session a second time in my Thrive Bible, because I really wanted to make sure the lesson had sunk in for me. The book of James is such a rich little few chapters that it wasn’t hard to spend more time meditating on the first chapter.

I have also had a chance to work through the second session #Hope Goals in my Thrive Bible. I will say that because there are some duplicates of words in the supplies of this kit, that gives me the opportunity to choose other passages to journal in addition to the ones provided, if I so desire. I also pulled out my Illustrated Faith “Faith Planner” stamp set to use some of the stamps that I felt went well with the #Goals kit, like the triangles, arrows and banners. I also used the Illustrated Faith acrylic paint set on this page and the colors were a perfect match to this kit!

Overall I’m really happy about this first kit of 2018, and I would definitely recommend it. Even if you aren’t a “planner” type, the questions included on the devotional cards so far have been thought-provoking in regards to areas I want to work on in my faith journey. To order your own #Goals kit from Dayspring, click here.

To order your own Thrive Bible from Amazon, click here. Since this is my main reading bible for 2018, I am not covering the scripture text in this one to where I can’t read it. Thankfully the margins are wider and there’s even more journaling space on the 365 devotionals spread throughout, so I am really enjoying using this Bible as I journal and read.

Please note this post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission when you purchase through my links at no additional cost to you. Dayspring sent me the #Goals kit in exchange for my honest review. All pictures and opinions in this post are my own.