Pages

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Independent Homeschool Student Weekly Planner


God's Words:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
~Proverbs 16:3


Just as a head's up, this post pertains to homeschooling.  So if you don't homeschool, I suppose this post won't interest you much...  Sorry! But stay tuned for future posts that might actually apply to your life.

Two school years ago, after much frustration with my hopeless search of finding a homeschool planner that works for my family, I finally gave up and created my own.  And since it is the new year and I assume we all are in need of a fresh start at organization, I thought I would share my planner on my blog, in case you might be able to benefit from using it for your homeschool.


The planner I created is specifically designed to be used by independent homeschool students.  However, if your child(ren) aren't independent learners yet, I suppose the planner could be adapted to be used as the teacher's weekly planner.  That would just take a little tweaking.  See instructions for this below. Either way, I hope you can make it work for you and your student(s).

What is this independent learning, you say?  Would that mean less school time involvement required of mom (and dad)?  Well, yes, yes it does.  Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Imagine getting more housework done during the day, instead of it piling up all week long because you're already too busy personally teaching all the school lessons.


Getting my children to eventually be independent learners in their schoolwork has always been one of my goals of homeschooling.  They will definitely need to be able to study and work on their own once they're in high school and college, so why not get an early start in training them to do so?


Once my eldest child started 6th grade, I felt it was time to get him used to completing most of his individual assignments independently.  And my then 6th grader is now an 8th grader, with his 7th and 5th grade sisters not far behind him, who are both also doing mostly independent work.  We do a few subjects with all my children together, such as Bible, history, health, and geography. But I wanted my middle-schoolers to have an organized, easy-to-use student planner that would help them be more independent with all their individual studies.  And free up my time to actually get most of my housework done each day.  Whoo-hoo!  Never thought I'd be so happy about that...


Here is what the independent student weekly planner page looks like:




There are check mark boxes, which the student checks off himself when finished with each assignment, so that Mom can easily see what has already been done (or not done) and also so that the student can quickly see which assignments need to be done next.

The first table, "My Daily Assignments", includes the assignments that must get done each day, such as Bible memory work, reading, and music practice.

What I love most about this student planner is the second table, "My Weekly Assignments", which lists all the subjects that the student can work on whenever he chooses, as long as he gets all assignments done by a certain time at the end of each week.  Our family rule is that you must get all independent work done by 3:00PM each Friday or you will lose all "screen time" for the entire weekend. I don't even have to tell you that we've never had anyone break that rule.

So for example, one week he might want to do all his math lessons in 2 days, with none to do for the remainder of the week.  Or all his grammar assignments in one day.  You see, it's up to the student, which will prepare him for the independent study necessary in college.  Mom's not helping out with college work.  Sorry, kiddos.  You're on your own by then.

The third table, "My Weekly Chores", lists that child's chores, when they need to be done, and check mark boxes for each day of the week.

The last table, "My Weekly Planned Activities", is like a calendar showing the child what day their special activities are on.  It's especially helpful at the beginning of each semester or season whenever a new sport or class starts, so they won't have to keep asking mom, "What day is football practice again?"

Now remember, we teachers might meticulously write out our plans for each day, each week.  But one of the most important lessons I've learned as a homeschool mom is to be flexible.  Because life happens.  God just may well have a different plan in mind for your family that day or week.  As it says in Scripture:

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
~Proverbs 19:21

You or a child might come down with an illness.  Dad might decide to work from home for the day (no school work's getting done when fun Daddy's home!).  An impromptu field trip, visit with friends, or a last-minute getaway vacation might present itself.  And there goes that week's schedule!

That's when the pencil and eraser come in handy.  Use it.  Embrace it. Flexibility is one of the best benefits of homeschooling.  So don't fill out the planner like you're chiseling in stone.  I advise only filling out 2 weeks or so at a time.  That way you won't have to erase a whole lot, because what homeschool family is going to choose a day's worth of schoolwork over a spontaneous visit to a friend's house if the opportunity arises?  Not this homeschool family!

There are 2 possible ways you can use this planner:

  1. Click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive where this document is absolutely free for the public to use.  At the top of the web page there are several different options.  If you click on the "printer icon" you'll be able to print the document and fill in the blanks using pencil or pen (pencil is always, always, always preferred because you'll often need to erase and change assignments).  This is the more time-consuming method of using my planner pages because you will have to fill in all the necessary blanks each and every week.

  1. The more efficient and personalized method:  First, you will need to have Microsoft Word (or another word processor software).  Next, click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive.  Then click on the "download icon" at the top of the web page, which lets you to save the document to your computer.  Once you open the document on your word processor, make sure to "Enable Editing", which will allow you to type in information and revise the template however you want to suit your child's needs.  You can add the student's name and grade to the top, which will save you lots of penciling in each week.  Also, you can type in all of your child's independent subjects and daily assignments into the table.  Then each week when writing down your child's assigned schoolwork, you will only have to fill in the assignments for that week, saving yourself lots of time.

If you don't have word processor software on your computer, no worries!  You can simply click on the "down arrow" at the top of the web page, which will give you several more ways to use the document with "Connected Apps". So, for example, if you already have a Google Docs account, then you can open the document with Google Docs, which is basically a free online word processor.  It may not have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Word, but it works great and it's free.  Gotta love free!


Using the Planner as a Teacher's Weekly Planning Page:

To use this planning page as a Teacher's Weekly Planner, you could follow Step #2 above for downloading the template to a word processor and then revise it as needed.  A little tweaking of the tables and you have your own personal teacher's planner.  You could have a separate assignment table for each student's individual schoolwork, plus a table for all the combined subjects you do together.

I also designed a two-to-a-page independent homeschool student weekly planner to use when it's not necessary to have the child's weekly chores and extracurricular activities listed down each week.  This planning page saves ink and paper and can be simply cut in half to make two separate planner pages.

Once again, you can click on the link below to access this free template on Google Drive and follow the same steps listed above in order to use it.


Please let me know in the Comments section below if you find my planner pages helpful in your homeschool or if you have trouble downloading or using them with your word processor.  And I'll see what I can do to make any necessary adjustments.  Thank you!

May God richly bless the remainder of your school year with peaceful, happy learning and growing healthy, loving relationships!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bible Study and Prayer Journal: Part 3


God's Words:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
~James 5:16b

It's time for the last part in the 3-part series of how to make and maintain a Bible Study & Prayer Journal.  Today I will guide you through the unique process I created of how to keep a Prayer Journal section.  If you missed the first two posts about assembling your very own Bible Study & Prayer Journal binder and the Bible Study section of the Journal, you can find the binder set-up instructions here and the Bible Study section steps here.

Prayer Journal Section

If you followed the directions in the first post, which showed you how to put together the Journal binder, then you should already have half a package of 3-ringed notebook filler paper in your binder behind the Prayer Journal divider, like this:



Now, go find a pen or pencil.  Either will work fine.

Alrighty, here's what you have to do first:

You have to think.

I know, I know.  How could I ask such a thing of you when you just want to get this journal started already?  After all, you've waited 2 long weeks for the final part of this series!

Well, so sorry, but you will first need to get your prayer needs and requests in order in your mind before you write them down on paper.  Believe me, you will save yourself from lots of erasing (or throwing away sheets of some poor dead tree if you used a pen).  So save your eraser (or a tree) by first thinking through what you would like to regularly pray about.  Then, after you get your prayer thoughts in order, you can start writing them down on your Prayer Journal pages in a neat and organized way.

You can start by thinking about who or what you pray for the most.  Maybe it's your family, your personal walk with the Lord, or an issue or problem you are struggling with.  These most-important-to-you prayer needs can be written down on your first Prayer Journal page.  You may choose to have the first several or more pages filled with your high-priority requests.

Then the following pages can be filled with other prayer requests that you want to remember to pray for, but that don't always come immediately to mind when you're praying.  And for those that you don't pray for every single day, but want to keep in mind to pray for from time to time. This is just one way of organizing your Prayer Journal.

The whole point of having a prayer journal is so that all your long- and short-term prayer requests are kept in an organized fashion so that they are easier to find, pray about, and keep updated as time goes by.  So you may organize your Prayer Journal however you think works best for you.  And you can always change it as needed.  That's the beauty of the filler pages.  Nothing is permanent.  I bought a prayer journal once that was bound like a book, so I would have to actually rip out any pages that I had to change or didn't need anymore.  It didn't look very pretty.  And that bothered me.  Because I like things to look pretty.  So I like my method much better, thank you very much.

If you're not sure how or where to begin, allow me to use my own Prayer Journal as an example. For instance, my first page is designated for my immediate family. My husband is at the very top of the page since he is my #1 priority in this life - after God, of course. Under his name are listed specific long-term things I have committed to praying for him, such as his spiritual health and growth, his physical health, safety, his role as father to our children, his job and career, his ministries, etc. These lifelong requests are followed by short-term or temporary requests, such as a need having to do with his current job situation or an illness.

Directly under my husband's prayer list is a request list for our marriage.  It also starts out with long-term, lifelong requests for the well-being of our sacred relationship, followed by short-term problems or needs we might be facing, such as financial hardship or in-law issues which are affecting our marriage.

At the bottom of that first page I have a long-term prayer list for my children. The requests I have written down here are ones that I am committed to praying for all of them as they are growing up in our home. Someday this list will look much different when they have moved out, but for now I am asking the Lord to bless and protect all aspects of their health, friendships, purity and education, and for them to grow and develop their talents and skills for God's glory and to serve Him.

This list for my children includes praying for their future as well.  Sometimes we moms get bogged down in the here and now of our children's lives.  But our prayers for their future are just as important as our prayers for their present needs.  For instance, I pray for each of my children to find godly, Christ-serving spouses someday, if it's God's will that they get married (and if not, that they will be content with that).  I also pray that they will always be brightly shining lights leading people to Christ in a dark, lost world.

Now on to my second page!  Here I have listed each of my children separately, with different prayer requests for each of their specific needs at this current time.  This list changes a lot, based on the individual struggles, challenges and phases that each of them is going through.  So I update this page regularly, as needed.

My third page is all me.  Yep.  It takes a whole sheet of paper to cover all my issues.  On this jam-packed page I have listed not only my own personal needs, such as my health and wellness in all areas of my life, but also the requests I have that concern my current roles and responsibilities.  I pray for myself as my children's teacher and mother (both equally daunting tasks that require much supernatural help), the manager of our home and family schedule, a helper and supporter to my husband, as well as for the different ministries I am involved in. This blog is one of those ministries!

Not only all that, but I also pray about my hopes, dreams and goals.  I just have to remember that, as I give these desires to God, they might not be His will for my life and that He has something different (and always for my best) in mind for me.  Which reminds me of a post I wrote last year about when God doesn't seem to answer your prayers the way you think He should.

Yes, my "Me" page is very private as you can probably imagine.  As well as all the needs listed above, I also have written down the personal struggles and weaknesses I need God's strength and grace to deal with.  Of which there are many.  I have also included the different fruit of the Spirit that I need His help with.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  ~ Galatians 5:22-23a

Ok, all of them.

I need help with all of them.

And now you know why my "Me" prayer requests take up an entire page.  You may not have wanted to know, but now you do.  Let's hope your list is shorter, girl.

Now my fourth and fifth pages are filled with the prayer needs of my extended family and for God's blessing and protection in their lives.  Since quite a number of my relatives don't yet seem to have a right relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord, I feel an intense responsibility to pray specifically for them to grow closer to Christ, or have their eyes opened to their need for salvation if they aren't already saved.  For those relatives that already are believers, I pray that they will grow in their faith and be faithful followers and effective witnesses for Christ.


My  sixth page is for our church and church family.  Here I am reminded to pray for the pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, leaders, missionaries, youth groups, classes, Bible studies, and the congregation as a whole.  On this same page I also have listed the different ministries at our church that my family and I are involved in and the prayer needs that go along with each.

Then comes my seventh page on which I have listed the names of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. whom I regularly pray for.  This list is for their long-term needs, such as their need for salvation, healing/relief from a chronic illness, or for our relationship to grow in love and kindness for one another. 

While writing this out, it dawned on me that I don't have a prayer page for our world, country, government leaders, etc. If anything needs more prayer desperately, it's definitely this list!  I will add this page to my journal tomorrow! And I will probably have it be my 8th page, since it's more of a long-term list.

My last several pages are filled with mostly temporary requests I have committed to pray for. These pages are for short-term prayer needs of friends, relatives, my small group at church, etc. These pages are frequently updated and changed out, since they are usually temporary in nature. And this, my friend, is why I stressed in the first post about why it's so important that your binder dividers have pockets!  I'll explain why below.

NOTE:  If a short-term request ends up turning into a long-term prayer need, such as a friend's medical problem becoming chronic, then I will add this long-term need to my former page where that person's name is listed.

Ok, about the necessity of the Journal's divider pockets.  They are for the purpose of temporarily storing all the prayer requests you pick up throughout the week so that you don't lose them before you have the extra time to write them down in their appropriate spot of your Prayer Journal.

Because if you're like me, you usually forget most of the prayer requests people tell you if don't actually write them down somewhere for you to look at later. Out of sight, out of this lady's mind, people.  I have a condition known as "Mom Brain" and there are only certain things that remain in my memory or they're lost forever.  It helps me to write things down. But then I have to keep the notes organized or just forget it - literally!

So what I do is keep a small notepad in all the places I typically get prayer requests:  in my purse, by the computer, by the home phone, in my night stand, etc.  This way I'm always ready for when I come across a prayer need, whether it be in person when I'm out and about, over the phone, or through emails and social network sites.

Then, every time I have a new written request, I stick it in my Journal's divider pocket to add in later when I have the time.  I will usually go through my purse's notepad once a week or so and take out the requests I've accumulated in conversations with people at church, get-togethers with family and friends, etc.

The Prayer Journal divider pockets can also be a handy place to store church bulletins and prayer request lists, as well as newsletters from the missionaries and ministries that you support.  You can either store these papers in the pockets if they include too many requests to write down in your Journal, or save them there for later when you have the extra time to write down any specific requests from them in your Journal.

By the way, I totally forgot to explain in Part 2 why the pockets are useful in the Bible Study Section divider!  Whoops!  Let me do that right now:

Bible Study Journal Divider Pockets

Those divider pockets are the perfect place to store sermon and group Bible study notes for later use.  Have you ever sat through a sermon or group Bible study and felt the desire to do a personal study about something mentioned? Well then, write it down in your sermon notes or in your purse's notepad and remember to add it to your Bible Study Journal divider pocket for future study.

Another great use of the Bible Study divider pockets is to store notes of any favorite or special verses you want to memorize or meditate on in the future. For example, sometimes while I'm studying a certain passage of Scripture in my daily devotional time, I come across a verse(s) that I really want to memorize. I write down the reference to make a note card later for my Scripture Card File, if I don't have time to do it right then.  FYI:  I keep my Scripture Card File in my Bible Basket, so that I have everything I need within reach for times just like this.  But some days I have limited time for my devotions, so I have to write a quick note to remind myself to add the verse(s) to my File later and I stick these notes in my pocket for another day when I have more time.

Sorry about that.

Back to the Prayer Journal:

Now that we have gone through how to organize your prayer requests, we can get down to the fun part - actually writing out the pages!

When I first started my Prayer Journal, I realized I wanted a better way to make note of how prayers were answered.  So I devised this handy (and I'll admit, pretty darn cute) method of differentiating between prayer requests and their answers.

If you click on the link below it will take you to a sample Prayer Journal Page I made up that will show you what it looks like using the technique I created (please note that I have not included any real life names or personal information of anyone I know; it's all made up!  So this page is to be used as an example only):


SAMPLE ONLY Prayer Journal Page

So basically, as you can see from this sample page, any prayer request main topic is listed with a "heart" in front of it.  And any additional prayer needs associated with that main topic are written below with "squiggly lines", technically known as the "tilde" symbol.  Why did I not just use dashes or bullet points?  It's simple, really. They're just not as pretty.  And like I mentioned before, I like things to be pretty.  You can go ahead and use any symbol you want, but I like the squigglies.

What are the cross symbols used for then?  If you didn't already figure it out, they are to notate how prayers are answered.  Whenever we pray, we pray in Jesus' name and for His sake, so the cross symbol seemed to be the perfect symbol to use for answered prayer.  Plus, it's easy to draw.  So are hearts and squiggly lines.

Are you ready to start writing your very own Prayer Journal?

I'm so excited for you to start being more organized and purposeful in your prayer life!  I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome it feels to draw those crosses as I see God working in my life and the lives of those I care about.  That is the best part of prayer journaling. It's why we pray in the first place, isn't it?  To have our hearts and lives changed and renewed by the gracious and mighty hand of God.  To give Him the praise and thanksgiving He is worthy of and for His loving care of us.  And to increase our trust and faith in Him and His good purposes for our lives.

Looking back in your Prayer Journal and seeing all the crosses you have added under all the hearts is an effective faith-builder.  Keeping a record of God's faithfulness and loving work in your life is a great way to grow in your faith walk and trust in Him, especially during those difficult times of life when it seems He's not listening to or answering our prayers.  Or answering as quickly as we think He should.

I hope and pray you will enjoy keeping your own Prayer Journal and that it will draw you closer to your Lord, and also to the many people you will commit to pray for!  God bless you, my friend, as you spend more time communicating with our great and mighty Lord who hears and answers prayer!


I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;

~Psalm 17:6a


They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle.  He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.
~1 Chronicles 5:20 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bible Study and Prayer Journal: Part 2


God's Words:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
~2 Timothy 3:16-17

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law...Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path...Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
~Psalm 119:18, 105, 133




Welcome back for Part 2 of how to put together and maintain your very own Bible Study & Prayer Journal!  I am very excited to share these next steps with you.

In Part 1 we left off at assembling the Bible Study Section of your Journal binder.  So go grab the binder you started and let's get back to work!

Bible Study Section

After doing a little research on the best questions to ask oneself when studying the Bible, I put together this list of 4 questions and an ending application prayer.  Each of these 4 Bible Study questions alone will help you delve deeper into the meaning of the passage of Scripture you are reading. But when used altogether, the questions will give you a much broader, deeper, and more lasting view of what you are studying.

For example, have you ever rushed through your Bible reading time just to get it "checked-off" your to-do list, only to end up forgetting what you read later that same day? That's no good, is it?  Whenever I do that, I feel like I might as well not have even read the Word that day if I'm not going to take the extra time and effort to specifically apply it to myself and my life.  At times like this I feel just like the vain, albeit remarkably amnesic dude that James writes about:

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."  ~James 1:22-24

Nope.  That's no good at all.

Instead I want to be more like the blessed dude:

"But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does."  ~ James 1:25

Just as the two key Bible passages of this post describe, I truly do desire to have God's Word sink deeply into my heart and mind so that I can be blessed by it, meditate on, and allow it to light my life's path and guide me in God's way.  And I want to know my Lord and Savior better and find new reasons to fall more deeply in love with Him!

How about you?

Well, these 4 Bible Study questions and application prayer will help you do just exactly that!  I have been amazed at how the simple but profound questions have caused me to find new things in Bible passages that I've already read countless times before.

You see, they will help you look at Scripture in a whole new way.  And you will discover new hidden treasures in each Bible passage you read that you never even knew were there!

I just love how God uses His Word to touch me each new time I read a verse or passage; sometimes in a very different way than the previous time I read the same exact passage! Isn't God so amazing that way?

These study questions will also help you make a very personal application to your own life.  You will find that you'll actually remember what you learned in your reading so that you can continue to apply it in your daily walk.

And always make sure you end your Bible study time with an application prayer. That's when you ask the Lord to give you the grace and strength you need to remember and obey all that He has shown you in His Word that day.

Please keep in mind that actually writing down your prayer is optional, of course.  Some people find this step very meaningful and enjoy looking back at prayers they wrote to God.

Now If I wrote down every word of my Bible study application prayers to God, I would need more than 5 lines.  Just sayin'.  I'm wordy.  God knows this and still loves me.  But my writing hand is cramping up right now at just the thought of penning all my prayers.  Once in a great while I do, but only if I feel like it.

Therefore, you don't have to feel like you must write down your application prayer if you don't want to either.  I just included that in the Bible Study Journal Page as a reminder to definitely pray after your Bible study time because this is a very important part of the power of taking in God's Word.

I will admit that more often than not, my application prayer includes a confession of sinful choices I have made that He shows me through His Word that He wants me to stop - and stop it now.

This is the really hard part of Bible study...  It can be a rather painful business to read words of God that totally convict you.  Then there is just no longer any way you can continue to deny or ignore what God desires and commands for your life as His child.

Yeah.

Ouch.

But it's a good pain.  God wants you to get that sin out of your life, for your own good.  And also for the sake of your witness for Christ. Just as it says in Hebrews 12:10b-11:

"But God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Whew.  That was deep!  Now back to your binder!

Please feel free to use the Bible Study Journal Page document I have already put together, which includes the 4 questions and application prayer.  Here are directions of how to access this document found at the link below:
  1. Click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive where this document is absolutely free for the public to use.  At the top of the web page there are several different options.  If you click on the "printer icon" you'll be able to print the document as I designed it.
  2. Or you may also use the document as a template to create your own personalized Bible Study Journal Page.  First, you will need to have Microsoft Word (or another similar word processor software).  Next, click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive.  Then click on the "download icon" at the top of the web page, which will allow you to save the document to your computer.  Once you open the document on your word processor, make sure to "Enable Editing", which will allow you to revise the template however you want to suit your personal style.  If you don't have word processor software on your computer, no worries!  You can simply click on the "down arrow" at the top of the web page, which will give you several more ways to use the document with "Connected Apps". So, for example, if you already have a Google Docs account, then you can open the document with Google Docs, which is basically a free online word processor.  It may not have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Word, but it works great and it's free.  Gotta love free!
Bible Study Journal Page

There are actually 2 main ways you can use this Bible Study Journal Page:

1. You can print as many copies as you want and use them as your Bible study journal pages on which you will directly write your answers. There is writing space provided after each question and space at the bottom for a written prayer (always optional). The pages will just need to be 3-hole punched so that you can put them in your Journal binder.  This method is a much more costly way to keep your Bible Study Journal, since you will be using up lots of printer paper and ink. The cheaper method detailed below is what I prefer to use.  Now don't forget, I married a Dutch man.  That statement alone should be enough.  However, if you weren't already aware, Dutch people (and their married counterparts) just love to scrimp, save, pinch, and anything else we can do to our pennies to keep as many of them as possible to ourselves.

2. The Dutch Method:  Print just one copy of the Bible Study Journal Page (once again, card stock paper works best because it's sturdier) and insert it backwards into a 3-ring top-loading clear poly page protector, as shown below:



Whoa.  Wait.  What?!  Why on earth do you insert it backwards, you ask?

Good question!

For this method, the Bible Study Journal Page in the page protector will be your daily guide as you write your answers to the questions on the filler paper. It's simple really (although it didn't occur to me for at least a month of using this method that it made way more sense to put it in the binder this way).



As seen in the photo above, the Bible Study Journal Page should be inserted into the page protector backwards so that you can see the questions on the left side of your binder as you write on the filler paper, which is always on the right side of the binder. Make sense?  If not, I completely understand.  You'll get it sooner or later.  I did.  So there's hope for anyone.

Okay, now that we have all that figured out (or not), let's move on.

So each new day when you begin your Bible study time, you will flip in your Journal binder to where the page protector currently is.  It should be on the left side of your last Bible study Journal entry.

Take the page protector out of its current spot...


Move it past your last Journal entry and insert it to the left of a fresh new page of the filler paper as shown here:


Now begin by writing the day's date and the Bible verse or passage you will be reading that day at the top of the next blank page of filler paper.  Then go through all the questions as you read the verse(s), writing down your answers and application prayer (remember - optional!).

Well, that's it for the Bible Study Journal section!  I hope and pray that you find your Journal to be a huge blessing in your life, as I've experienced with mine.

Keep a look-out for the third and final part of this series where I will share the steps I've created to make your very own Prayer Journal section of your binder. I hope to have it completed by later this week or early next week!

Until then, enjoy digging deeper into the Word of God!  I am praying for you to grow much closer to the Lord each new day through your new Bible Study Journal.  And that He will open your eyes to see the wonderful things in His Word that He wants you to know. Wonderful life-changing truths about Him, about His promises, about who you are in Christ, and about His will for your life.  Truths that will train you in righteousness so that you will be "thoroughly equipped for every good work".  Amen.  God bless you, sister!

UPDATE:  I totally forgot to explain in this Part of the series why the pockets are useful in the Bible Study Section divider!  Whoops!  Find those instructions in Part 3.  Just scroll about two-thirds of the way down the page until you get to the bold, underlined heading titled "Bible Study Journal Divider Pockets"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bible Study and Prayer Journal: Part 1


God's Words:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
~2 Timothy 3:16-17

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law...Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path...Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
~Psalm 119:18, 105, 133

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
~James 5:16b

Do you ever struggle with maintaining regular personal Bible study and prayer time? Do you feel the need to get more organized with your devotional time, so that you'll be motivated to actually do it? Instead of getting overwhelmed at the thought of studying the Bible and procrastinating it until the next day (or days later)?

And do you often tell people you'll pray for them, thinking you'll never forget the fervent prayer request they so passionately shared with you? Only to end up completely forgetting to pray for them. At all. Not even once.

Yeah.

As you can probably tell, I have plenty of experience here, folks.

So I don't know about you, but I tend to need some major help in these two areas of the Christian life. Ashamed to admit it, but it's nonetheless true.

And I knew I had to do something about it. Something that would be really, truly effective in getting me more in the Word and prayer.



Therefore, in my rather desperate effort to become more organized (and therefore that much more motivated) with my Bible and prayer time, I put together a Bible Study & Prayer Journal.

It's pretty, is it not?









And it perfectly matches my Bible Basket and Scripture Card File, as seen here in this photo.

I chose a blue, green, and white color scheme, which coordinates with the majority of my home's living area decor.


Now because I love my Bible Study & Prayer Journal so much, especially for how it has significantly helped me spend more meaningful time with the Lord, I thought I should share it with my readers to help you become more organized with your devotional time, too.






So if you would like to put together your very own Bible Study & Prayer Journal, here is what you'll need:


  • 1" or wider 3-ring binder with clear display pockets in the front cover and spine
  • 2 sheets of 8-1/2" x 11" printer paper (card stock works the best; take my word for it - you will thank me later)
  • 2 - 3-ring tabbed dividers with pockets (pockets are very important - I'll explain later)
  • 1 package 8-1/2" x 11" 3-hole punched filler paper
  • 1 - 3-ring top-loading clear poly page protector (optional)
  • 1 sheet of 8-1/2" x 11" scrapbook paper (optional)

I chose tabbed dividers that match my green and blue color scheme. It's the little things that make a girl happy.

Now for the very important steps, including a few delightfully helpful photos, to show you how you can make and maintain your own Bible Study & Prayer Journal.



Designing your Journal Binder Cover and Display Accessories:

First, you'll need to use one of the sheets of printer or card stock paper to make your Journal binder cover, which you will insert into the clear front display pocket of the binder.

You can make your binder display cover and tab inserts however you'd like.  Anything goes, really.  Go all out, girl!  Use whatever suits your fancy to make your Journal binder as appealing as you want it to be.  Coordinating scrapbook paper, ribbon, stickers, gel pens, feathers, die cuts, glitter. The possibilities are endless.


An earth-friendly, minimalist style works just as well.  Hand-write the cover with the blotchy ink pen and piece of scrap paper you find in your kitchen odds n' ends drawer.  Hey, this way you save money and a tree.  This style is a win-win.


But seriously, design your cover and accessories any way you like.  This is your Journal. And the best part of it is that you can always change out your design whenever the whim strikes. Then off to Hobby Lobby you go!


However, if you prefer a more simple approach and would rather use the binder cover and accessories that I have already created, or even revise it to your own liking, please feel free to download the document below.  It includes four separate parts that can be cut out for use in your Journal binder:

  • A front cover title (which you can glue onto your 8-1/2" x 11" piece of coordinating scrapbook paper - as shown on my binder - and insert that prettiness into the binder's front display pocket).
  • A title for the binder's spine display pocket.
  • A "Bible Study" tab label to insert into your Bible Study divider.
  • A "Prayer Journal" tab label to insert into your Prayer Journal divider.
Like I mentioned, there are 2 ways you can use this document:
  1. Click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive where this document is absolutely free for the public to use.  At the top of the web page there are several different options.  If you click on the "printer icon" you'll be able to print the document as I designed it.  I hope you like yellow and green!
  2. Or you may also use the document as a template to create your own personalized Journal binder cover and tab inserts.  First, you will need to have Microsoft Word (or another similar word processor software).  Next, click on the link below which will take you to Google Drive.  Then click on the "download icon" at the top of the web page, which will allow you to save the document to your computer.  Once you open the document on your word processor, make sure to "Enable Editing", which will allow you to revise the template however you want to suit your personal style.  If you don't have word processor software on your computer, no worries!  You can simply click on the "down arrow" at the top of the web page, which will give you several more ways to use the document with "Connected Apps". So, for example, if you already have a Google Docs account, then you can open the document with Google Docs, which is basically a free online word processor.  It may not have all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Word, but it works great and it's free.  Gotta love free!
Bible Study & Prayer Journal Binder Cover with Tab Labels

    Here is a close-up of my binder's spine:


It takes a little careful pushing to get the paper inserted all the way into the spine's display pocket. Which is the #1 reason why I strongly advise using card stock paper as opposed to regular thin printer paper.  Printer paper will wrinkle up as you're trying to insert it into the display pockets and divider tab pockets.  You will most likely end up frustrated, grumpy, and with wrinkly inserts. Now who wants that?  Take it from me - just use card stock paper and make your life that much easier.

Now that you've got the outside of your Journal all nice and pretty, it's time to start working on the inside.

First, put your two 3-ring tabbed dividers with pockets into your binder.



Next, put in half the filler paper into the binder after each divider, so that you have two sections - one for your Bible Study Journal and one for your Prayer Journal.  No photo for this step since it should be a no-brainer.  You should be fine without a photo.  If not, you've got bigger fish to fry, my friend.



Now, insert the cut-out tab labels into the tab inserts, as shown here.  It doesn't matter which order you put them in.

I typically start my quiet time with Bible study and follow up with prayer, so that's why I personally have chosen to have my Bible Study section first in my binder. You can have your sections however you want; whatever suits your needs and personal routine best.


Since my Bible Study section comes first in my own binder, I will share the steps for this part of the Journal first.  But you will have to wait until my next post for those instructions!  I plan to post Part 2 later this week.



In the meantime, girl, go find all the supplies you need and get started putting your Journal together!  Target, here you come!  They have some super cute office supplies right now.  No, they are not paying me to give them a sales plug.  In my dreams!

Until then, I am praying for you as you take these steps to spend more meaningful time with the Lord.  God loves a seeking, obedient heart and He will bless you abundantly with the priceless treasures found in His Word!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Loving Care of Our Father God


God's Words:

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
~Psalm 27:10


This verse popped out at me in a big way this morning during my devotions.  See it circled in pen at the bottom? You are probably thinking right now to yourself, "Wow, she is highlighter happy".  Why yes, yes I am and happy to admit it!  I love me some God's Word!  By the time I'm 95 and about ready to crawl (or be carried by a very strong hospice nurse) into my death bed, I will probably have highlighted every verse in my much-adored Bible.


Anyway, as I read this verse this morning, it struck me that many children are forsaken by their parents, in many different ways; whether done on purpose or not.


There are foster children whose parents aren't capable for whatever reason of taking proper care of them.  Maybe these parents have been abused and are carrying on the horrible cycle of abuse to the next generation.  Maybe they are in the bondage of addiction, trying to numb their own personal pain, leaving them unable to give their children the loving care and attention each child desperately needs.


Then, of course, there are the children in abusive or negligent homes who haven't been rescued yet.  My heart aches so painfully for them and I wish I could save them all.  My own mother and her siblings were children just like this. They were never rescued from their extremely mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically sick, abusive father...until the day he drank himself to death when they were all grown-up or nearly grown-up. And even now, many years later, they are each still carrying the wounds and bearing the scars of how they were hurt by the hands and mouth of their own father.


Yet, God always has a plan of healing and restoration for these hurting souls; they have only to reach out to the Savior Jesus Christ and find his supernatural healing from all their pain, shame, and bitterness.  And in Him they will also find forgiveness - not only for themselves, but also the ability to forgive those who hurt them.


My own mother is one of these abused children who has found complete healing through Christ's power in her life.  Her story is one I am thrilled to tell others about because of the amazing work of a loving Heavenly Father who has worked so mightily and mercifully in her life...because of how much He loves her and wants to help her heal and find all that she needs to recover and be whole - in Him.


She is actually in the process of publishing her life story of abuse and restoration.  I read it. Cried sad and happy tears.  And was newly amazed at God's loving and gracious healing in her life.  I promise to share it on my blog once it is ready to be put up for sale!


In addition, this verse ultimately makes me think of all the millions and millions of aborted children in the history of the world.  Yes, there has always been abortion, you know; just not always a "legal right" where there are actual massively-funded centers in which a woman can "safely" have her child dismembered, sucked, and many other despicably-cruel-and-taboo-to-mention-methods of removal.


These precious, innocent lives may be forsaken by their very own parents whom they were given to by God to care for, love, and cherish for all their life long.  After all, this is an imperfect world with imperfect people suffering from many forms and degrees of pain and sin.


But all of these beloved of God are NOT forsaken by their Heavenly Father. He WILL receive them, somehow, someway.  It's a promise.  Right there in His Word.


I think of all the aborted babies being excitedly welcomed into heaven by their Heavenly Father and His angels when their earthly parents haven't chosen to keep them, for whatever reason.



A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Psalm 68:5


As the wife of a pregnancy resource center director, I am more aware than the average person of the fact that many girls and women who end up choosing abortion have felt forced to do so. Some have no support from their family and friends, either financially or emotionally.  Some have boyfriends or husbands or parents who order them to kill their child.  Many others are ashamed to be pregnant in the first place and are desperate to hide their secret from the world. Or feel like their future will be ruined if they bring the baby to term, regardless of whether they choose to raise it themselves or give it up for adoption.

Unless one has been in the situation of an unwanted pregnancy, I dare say it is difficult to truly understand the excruciating thought and decision processes that these women (and their partners) go through before they make that final decision to keep, give up, or abort their child. And my heart goes out to each of them, because I don't think anyone really desires to be in that situation. 

Then I think of the many amazing people who have followed God's call to be foster parents. Oh, the selfless, self-sacrificing work they do, day in and day out, and throughout each night of caring for hurting little ones!  The stories I have heard firsthand from my fostering friends have made me cry, both in sadness and happiness.  Foster parents are my heros (along with single parents). These specially-gifted people amaze me.  I am constantly in awe of their sacrificial love for needy children.  God comes to the aid of these children by providing temporary (and oftentimes long-term) caretakers:



Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress...
~James 1:27

Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
~Job 29:11-12

And I think of the numerous people who have followed the Lord's call to rescue orphans by becoming adoptive parents.  Now THOSE children are the especially "wanted" ones!  They are specifically chosen to become one's son or daughter!  Wow.  The gift of adoption is like none other and blows my mind whenever I really think about it.  God reaches out to these parentless children - in the form of new parents who want so much to have them be their very own children.



I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
~John 14:18

...for in You the fatherless find compassion...
~Hosea 14:3e

God sets the lonely in families...
~Psalm 68:6a

So the comfort we find in today's key verse is this:  Whenever a child is forsaken for whatever reason, God has promised, and always follows through, to receive them in one way or another.  He promises to provide for their needs, somehow, someway.  He offers them complete healing through the power of His compassionate love, His Spirit, and the saving, forgiving work of His Son which enables them to be set free and whole from the hurt of their past.  And He promises to love and take care of them, when they are unloved by seemingly everyone else. Even if that means joyfully welcoming them into heaven before they take their first breath on earth.


Have your ever suffered in some way by being forsaken by your parent(s)?  Or do you know of someone who has or is enduring this pain?  How have you, or they, been received by God?


Or perhaps you feel the call to help children such as this?  How do you feel God specifically calling you to reach out to them and be His arms and feet of love and care and protection for them?


Please share your thoughts and stories in the Comments section below!