Classic Hymns: Read and Reflect with the Classics [Review]

As we enter December and the Advent season, I know a lot of people are looking for devotionals and reading plans to use both in personal study and with their families. B&H Publishing was kind enough to send me a copy of the book “Classic Hymns: Read and Reflect with the Classics” to review and share my thoughts. I thought this would be a great opportunity to suggest a non-Christmas-themed devotional. You can order a copy for yourself on Amazon through my affiliate link here.

First of all, I love hardcover, cloth over board, books. The outside cover gives a feel of a classic, timeless title. I also liked that it wasn’t flashy or gimmicky, which is very appropriate for Hymns since they are a more traditional style of worship.

The book includes 90 traditional hymns, including several Christmas hymns at the end of the book. Each chapter is just a few short pages and includes the full text of the hymn, Bible study questions with a suggested passage to read, personal reflection questions, and a prayer suggestion/topic as promoted by the hymn. I would consider the text of this book to be more of a devotional, since it doesn’t really include historical information about the hymns themselves other than the songwriter(s) and the year it was written.

I really like the fact that you can choose how in-depth you want to go into studying the hymn and suggested Scripture passages. I think this would be a perfect devotional to use during Advent when time can be limited, and I’m looking for a thoughtful, but brief study.

I grew up going to baptist churches, where we often still used hymnals and “praise and worship” style songs projected onto a screen was just starting to emerge and gain popularity. So I have a fondness for hymns and enjoy any resources that take traditional hymns and bring them to a modern audience. I will say that I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t more historical information included to give context, as well as maybe some small explanations of the phrases and theology of the hymns themselves for those who may not be familiar with the language of hymns. Overall I would recommend this book for both personal and family study for those who want explore hymns in relation to scripture. I am looking forward to exploring this book more and using it as a study tool with my Bible journaling.

You can order “Classic Hymns” on Amazon here.

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

Gratitude Documented Round-Up and Cyber Monday Sale

I wanted to share the journaling pages I did for Gratitude Documented. I didn’t journal all 30 days, and I wasn’t planning to, so I’m happy with the amount of time I was able to spend in thankfulness this month. I did a process video for one of my pages, so make sure to check it out here. (Psst, make sure you read to the end of this post for a Cyber Monday coupon code for Dayspring!)

I did my gratitude journaling in both my Inspire Praise Bible and my Documented Faith Binder. Not every page had a “fall” theme to the art, since an attitude of thankfulness should be something I try to have year-round. I also got to try out my new Documented Faith products that I received as part of my Blessed Friend ambassadorship. I think my favorite new item is the Bible sticky notes that are great for adding prayer journaling to the margin.

I have been loving my new Inspire Praise Bible as well. I tried to use a combo of blank margins and illustrated margins as I did my Gratitude journaling. I noticed that when I kept the entries simple or just colored, I was able to focus on the gratitude prompt a little more than on the pages where I was trying out some different techniques.

It’s been a lot of fun to see how different people interpret the same prompt in different ways in the margins of their Bible. That’s why I love being part of the Bible journaling community, because even though I’m mostly experiencing this community online, it still feels like a tight-knit group of people sharing their heart through their art. And that’s something to be thankful for.

In total, I journaled 10 pages in my Bible and 4 pages in my Documented Faith Binder for Gratitude documented. It was fun to have a bunch of supplies to choose from, but at times it was overwhelming to have all the different pieces. My plan for Advent is to keep it a little simpler when it comes to supplies, since I will be trying to journal every day in December. If you journaled for Gratitude Documented, how many entries were you able to finish? What was your favorite prompt? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.

You can grab the Gratitude kit here for the last few days of November, or pick up the Advent kit here to get a head start for December. For one day only, use code MONDAY17 to save 35% off your entire purchase at Dayspring here (excludes Willow Tree). Sale ends Monday 11/27 at 11:59pm. You can order the Inspire Praise Bible on Amazon here. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive new blog posts right to your inbox!

Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission when you shop through my links at no additional cost to you.

She Reads Truth Bible [Review]

When I found out that B&H Publishing would be sending me the She Reads Truth Bible to review, I was ecstatic! I’ve had this Bible on my wishlist ever since it came out April this year, but I hadn’t been able to justify ordering another bible, even though I needed one to use for reading/studying purposes separate from journaling. Ever since it landed on my doorstep, I’ve been carrying it around everywhere (not hyperbole), and I’m so glad it’s finally in my hands. (You can order it from my Amazon affiliate link here).

Here is the description of the She Reads Truth Bible from the publisher: “The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of ‘Women in the Word of God every day.’ The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization.

This Bible is done in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. My husband introduced me to this translation, and it has quickly become my favorite, especially since it uses both word-for-word and thought-for-thought styles of translation. Here is the description of the CSB translation from the publishers: “The She Reads Truth Bible features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text. Translated by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible features an optimal blend of accuracy and readability that’s faithful for serious study, and written with heart-stirring clarity that inspires readers to live and share it.”

So now that I’ve told you what this Bible is, let’s talk about the included features inside. I received the gray linen hardcover, but there are several other colors and styles including an indexed version and an imitation leather softcover. This Bible includes two ribbon bookmarks, one red and one white. A genius idea, and they are spaced in two different spots to make it easier to mark your place depending on which part of the Bible you’re in. The supplemental material in the front includes an introduction, the gospel message, information about the CSB translation, and an explanation of key features. In the back there is a one year reading plan, a concordance, the Apostle’s Creed, and a list of key verses for each book of the Bible conveniently color coded based on genre.

Each book of the Bible begins with a key verse artwork piece, a one page explanation/historical background, a map, a timeline or a chart based on the content of the book, and a reading plan for the book that also gives supplemental verses for further reading. Spread throughout the text are 189 devotionals that expound on a particular section of scripture in order to direct your heart to God. These devotionals are written by the women of She Reads Truth, so I would consider them the highlight of this Bible (besides the Word itself) for anyone who has used She Reads Truth for personal study before.

The format of the text itself leaves room in the margins for notetaking and art worship. However the pages are extremely thin, thinner than most journaling Bibles I’ve encountered, so I could imagine it might cause a lot of shadowing and bleed through. If that is something that concerns you, I would recommend using this Bible more for reading instead. I have found that my favorite Zebrite Bible highlighters do not bleed through the thin pages (they do shadow), and I will be using them to highlight meaningful verses. I have given an example in my reading and highlighting of Proverbs to show a block of text that I highlighted and what it looks like on the back side of the page. I did try to press lightly and not go over the same spot twice to keep the shadowing to a minimum and prevent bleed through. (You can purchase the Zebrite Bible highlighters here.)

I did also feel like the cover was a bit plain for my personal taste, but I am glad to see that they chose colors and covers that would appeal to a broad range of women. Many women’s Bibles tend to be overly flowery and feminine, so the She Reads Truth Bible took other tastes into consideration when creating the aesthetics. I did purchase a quilted “Purple Fancy” cover for mine, which you can find here on Amazon if that’s your style too. This cover fits this Bible great with just a little room to spare.

Overall I am highly pleased with this Bible, and I am very confident in my recommendation of the She Reads Truth Bible. Whether you are new to the She Reads Truth community or a veteran, this Bible would be a great addition to any woman’s library.

To purchase your own copy of the She Reads Truth Gray Linen Hardcover on Amazon, click here. For the Poppy Linen cover, click here. And for the Navy imitation leather softcover, click here.

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

Please note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission when you purchase through the link at no additional cost to you. I received a copy of the She Reads Truth Bible from B&H/Lifeway publishers in exchange for my honest review. All pictures and opinions contained within are my own. All other products mentioned were not provided, but rather purchased on my own. 

Illustrated Faith Turns 3 + My Story [Giveaway]

Illustrated Faith turns 3 today! To celebrate this milestone, Dayspring is hosting a giveaway for one lucky winner to receive ALL 19 of the devotional kits that Illustrated Faith and Dayspring have done together. So yes, that means even the retired kits like the original Created to Create. For your chance to win, enter the giveaway here between now and September 5th.
img_2661-2I am so grateful for discovering this wonderful community of Bible Journaling! I started officially Bible Journaling on January 1, 2016 after a very difficult and painful church experience that had left me broken and distant. But God sought me and brought me back into his word so that he could heal my heart. Expressing my worship and prayers creatively through illustrating in my Bible has brought such a renewal to my crushed spirit and healed me in many ways. The community of creatives illustrating in their Bibles gave me a chance to interact with other Christians again without worry of being hurt again.

I’ve also never shared so much of my faith before publicly, and I love that my illustrated Bible pages have given me that opportunity! I’ve had the opportunity to lead a Bible journaling night with my friends, and this month I’ll be starting a monthly gathering at my home to share Bible journaling with friends on an ongoing basis. I’ve also just recently become a Dayspring affiliate and part of the Illustrated Faith launch team, which means I get to share products that I already use and love!

I can’t wait to see where Illustrated Faith will take me in the years ahead, but I know one thing: God is faithful and he never leaves me.  He has created me to be passionate about creativity! I’d love to hear your story of how you got started Bible journaling, so feel free to share in a comment below! If you want to get started Bible journaling for the first time, feel free to ask me questions in a comment. Here are some tips from Illustrated Faith for getting started:

Don’t forget you also have until September 5th to shop the big Illustrated Faith sale here. And grab the New Created to Create 2 kit here.

Please note that this post contains some affiliate links. This just means I receive a small commission when you shop through the links at no additional cost to you. 

Woodland Fox Baby Blanket Pattern 

New crochet pattern now available on Ravelry and in my shop: the Woodland Fox Baby Blanket! A great addition to any woodland or rustic themed nursery, and makes a great baby shower gift.

I’ve had the idea for this blanket in my head for awhile but struggled to figure out how to make it work. Finally late one night as I was going to bed, it finally came to me. So I got to work, and the Fox blanket was born.

Pattern includes written instructions and a color chart for the fox face. This would be a great introductions to crochet colorwork. Basic knowledge of how to change colors needed for this blanket pattern.

To purchase, visit my shop here. Also available to download on Ravelry here. Make sure to link your projects on Ravelry! Use hashtag #woodlandfoxbabyblanket on Instagram for a chance to be featured on @kountingsheep

The Message Canvas Bible [Review]

I had the privilege of winning a copy of The Message Canvas Bible, so I’m going to post my review here. This is my first time with a softcover journaling Bible, and I like the flexibility of the cover. However, I know as I fill it up, it will be harder and harder to keep it closed, and I may consider getting a stretchy band to help with that.

This is the description from the publisher: “Center your heart and mind on the story of God with The Canvas Bible as you color nearly 300 hand-drawn illustrations, including 150 hand-lettered Bible verses. Using The Message’s creative language and vivid metaphors, your imagination will be bursting with ideas for crafting, coloring, and drawing. Meditate on the very words of Scripture, and hear God’s voice speaking to your heart. Make this Bible one of a kind by adding your own beauty and style. Fill the extra space with your own illustrations and prayers. Immerse yourself in the words of Scripture. Decorate this Bible as a gift for someone you love. Slow down as you color and enjoy a more relaxed pace. Let the story of God paint the canvas of your imagination!
I really like the style of illustrations in this Bible. It reminds me of an adult coloring book the most out of all the illustrated Bibles I’ve seen. I feel like it would be appealing to both men and women, despite the cover being on the more feminine side (the hardcover watercolor cover version would be a more gender neutral option). The illustrations are more geometric with lots of lines and inner repeating patterns that would make for many hours of meditative coloring while reading scripture.

This is also my first introduction to The Message translation, which is a modern paraphrase of the Bible. I wouldn’t use this translation for a deep Bible study, which is not its intended purpose anyway. It’s intended to be read like a story to make it easier to understand in today’s language.

One thing to note about The Message is that it only has numbered chapters and the verses are left unnumbered. This is to allow for easier reading, but makes it harder to find a specific verse in a traditional sense of looking up chapter:verse.

Each book of the Bible has an illustration at the beginning. I like the variety of lettering and styles used to illustrate each start of the books of the Bible. There is also a variety of plain illustrations as well as lettered illustrations that highlight a verse on the page.

The softcover is slightly larger than my Inspire and Illustrator’s Bibles. I have come to prefer single column journaling Bibles, as it makes the text easier to read as well as offers more room for journaling wherever there is poetry (like Psalms). I also really like that the preprinted illustrations are black outlines. My Illustrator’s Bible has gray outlines, and it makes it difficult to see the illustration once it has been colored.

I spent some time coloring the Old and New Testament pages, and I was happy to find them not too small to color with a colored pencil. I know in my Inspire Bible that some of the illustrations have parts that are too small to color easily, so I found the Canvas Bible slightly easier to color. I’m excited to spend many more hours reading such a unique translation and coloring the many beautiful pages.

To purchase The Message Canvas Bible softcover on Amazon, click here.

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

Please note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links. All pictures contained within this review are my own. I received a free copy from the publisher as part of a contest, and this review was not required as part of my winning. All opinions expressed within are my own. 

Inspire Bible Journaling

It’s been awhile since I’ve journaled in my Inspire Bible, and I recently started using it again. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I won my copy in the contest right before it was released! I also can’t believe that I’ve been Bible journaling for almost a year and a half now. I haven’t yet “finished” a Bible since I seem to journal in multiple Bibles at once, but I’m hoping this year to retire one or two as I continue my creative art worship.

I had been doing my journaling in my Illustrators Bible for the last 6 months, and it has started getting very full. My time is often limited with two babies now, so I switched back to my Inspire Bible. I like the illustrations better in the Inspire and wanted to do more coloring rather than my own art all the time. 

I’ve also started coloring with my oldest daughter. I gave her a composition notebook to “journal” in as I read Bible verse to her. She may be young (almost 3) but her journal is the first coloring book she reaches for when it’s time to color. I think she likes the blank pages that she can color however she wants. 

For now I write on the back of her pages to document what we talked about and did together. Someday she will be able to look back and read about our special time together learning about God and his word. I hope that by starting her young that I am creating a little journaling buddy for many years to come. 

It’s our special activity to do together since adding baby sister to the family. My days are often very long and very full juggling the needs of two young children. However it’s become a priority for me to set aside some time for myself every day to journal or crochet. These activities help me to cope on days when it’s hard and to keep some identity of myself separate from my children. I love them more than I can ever describe, and taking just a little bit of time for myself helps me to be a better mom for them. 

Bible journaling also helps me focus on my word for the year “grace.” To give grace to myself during this time of transition and adjustment. To give grace to others when my fuse is short and my frustration is high. And to remember that when I fail at all of this, God has given me the ultimate gift of grace through his son Jesus, and He is the one who saves me and sustains me. 

Handmade Blankets

Have you seen all the new crocheted blankets now available in my shop?

Blankets are one of my favorite things to make, especially baby blankets. As I start preparing for the arrival of our second baby, I decided I wanted to go back to making what I truly love: blankets. 

I want to enjoy this time while my babies are little, and making other things was stressing me out too much. In an effort to be a happier and better mom for my kids, I decided to transition my shop to crochet blankets only. I am excited about this new phase of my life, and as always I’m thankful for the support I’ve received as I make these changes. 

I have several ready to ship baby blankets available. Mermaid tail blankets are available for preorder in the colors shown or you can custom order and pick your colors. As always, I’m happy to make a custom blanket, so click on one of the custom order options to get started!

Visit kountingsheepshop.etsy.com to see all the new blankets available for purchase! Every baby needs a handmade blanket, so wrap your baby in an one of a kind crochet creation from Kounting Sheep Shop. 

HCSB Illustrator’s Bible [Review]

I have been looking forward to the release of the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible for several months now, so I was thrilled to receive a copy to review. However, I wasn’t the only one who was thrilled with this new Bible, and the brown leather copy ended up being claimed by my husband. So after purchasing the purple linen covered version, I can finally write my review now that I’ve been able to use it myself.

The thing I love the most about this Bible is that the illustrations are much more subtle, modern, architectural, and gender neutral than the Inspire Bible. As soon as my husband and I looked through the Illustrators Bible together, he immediately wanted to start reading and coloring. His positive reaction to the illustrations would definitely make me recommend this Bible to men and women alike.

This Bible boosts over 600 illustrations, and they are peppered throughout the Old and New Testaments. There are several full page illustrations at the beginning of some books, mainly in the New Testament, but there are a few in the Old Testament as well. The front and back inside covers are fully illustrated, as well as some of the additional pages at the front.

The only drawback to having over 600 illustrations is that several of the designs are repeated anywhere from 2-5 times, so it is not 600 unique illustrations. Over time once I begin to fill in more and more of the designs, it might become redundant to do the same one over and over again. However, I do like that if I were to mess up on a certain illustration, I would have a chance to redo it in another spot.

Some of the details are rather small for colored pencils, but that doesn’t bother me too much since I love to use watercolors as my main medium for illustrating in my Bible. If someone were to strictly want to use just colored pencils, I would suggest getting ones that have very sharp points or can be sharpened periodically to maintain a thin pencil for easier coloring.

Because this is also a notetaking Bible, the pages without illustrations have lined margins. Some of the columns with smaller illustrations also incorporate lines as well, so there is plenty of opportunity to take notes and write out prayers and memory verses. The illustrations are also printed in gray to make them less dominant; you could easily write over top of an illustration if desired.

Like all journaling Bibles, the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible has thin pages and small font, but I have grown accustomed to using these Bibles and find it easy to manage. I also like the fact that this Bible is single column. This Bible is larger than my ESV double column journaling Bible (my husband’s HCSB is pictured above with my ESV), but it is comparable in size to other single column Bibles.

Overall, I think the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible will quickly become a favorite for both my husband and myself. We are excited to study and illustrate God’s Word together with these Bibles. I would highly recommend this Bible to anyone looking to creatively connect with scripture.

To purchase the HCSB Illustrators Bible purple linen cover on Amazon, click here.

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

Please note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links. All pictures and opinions contained in this review are my own. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H publishers through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Stash

This will be my new front door in two weeks! I’ll be moving out of my parents’ house into my first apartment with my best friend at the end of the month. We are extremely excited, especially since this place will be much closer to our respective jobs for both of us, not to mention it’s exciting to be out on my own for the first time.
And on a yarn related note, I finally can say that my stash is officially Red Heart yarn free! Yes, I am a yarn snob now (no surprise, it’s been for several years now), and especially with living in an apartment, it was time to purge the yarns I wasn’t going to use anymore. This included all Red Heart and Caron Simply Soft; these yarns were what got me started into all this craziness that is fiber arts, but it’s time for a parting of the ways. I know these yarns will be moving to a happy home, just not mine.
I knew that my yarn stash was large, but there’s nothing like boxing it all up to show you just how large it truly is. Okay, so it’s not the largest stash in the world, nor is it large compared to a knitter who owns a house, but for someone in her mid-twenties with only one room to call her own, it could be considered on the large size. And there’s a reason why it’s called “stash,” because I literally had yarn stashed in every available nook and cranny. I tried boxing up all the yarn first, but every time I pulled out something else to pack, I’d find another spot where yarn was just sitting there, waiting to be found, which would then be followed by me saying, “Oh yeah, I remember putting that there!” 
I can say that the upside to having a large stash (well, I don’t really consider downsides to having a large stash either, only upsides, but I digress….) is that now that I’ll be living on an extremely tight budget, I can start working my way through all my wonderful yarn. As I was pulling out every skein of yarn I own, it was fun to think about all the projects I have planned and all the beautiful skeins that I’ve purchased over the years. I very rarely buy yarn just to buy it, I usually have a project in mind, so it definitely brought on a case of “KNIT.ALL.THE.THINGS!” The good news is, my new room will have 2 closets, yes read that, 2 closets! So now I can have one for clothing and one for yarn (and maybe that will help with keeping the stash all in one place). 
And although my roommate is aware of my fiber obsession (more aware than some of my other friends), I’m not sure she will truly realize the full extent of it until she actually lives with me!