ESV Study Bible Review

Once again, Crossway sent me a beautiful Bible to review. This time, it is the ESV Study Bible. I was curious how it would compare to the ESV Heirloom Study Bible, since it is significantly cheaper.

The genuine leather of this Bible is slightly more stiff than the goatskin leather of the Heirloom. It is super nice leather, but doesn’t have that soft, floppy feel the goatskin has. It feels much better than bonded leather, but is a bit more firm.

This is really my only complaint about this Bible. It only has one ribbon marker. I’ve been spoiled by having multiple ribbon markers, so one ribbon just seems crazy now. (For the record, four is the ideal number of ribbon markers for a Bible: one for Old Testament, one for the Psalms, one for the Gospels, and one for New Testament.)

You have these pretty standard pages in the beginning of the Bible. Of course, it isn’t enough of any of the headings for a lifetime Bible.

Each book of the Bible has a pretty lengthy introduction, which includes maps, outlines, timelines– basically anything to help you understand the context of the writing. The maps are all full color. It doesn’t have as many pictures as the Heirloom Study Bible has, but it does contain a lot of study materials.

The Bible passages are single column, but the reference materials are double column down below. The font of the Bible passages is pretty large and very clear to read. The reference materials are smaller font, but still readable.

There are quite a few articles tucked into the back of the Bible, much like the Heirloom. These articles are fascinating, but as far as I can tell they are pretty much the same ones in the Heirloom Study Bible. (Not that it is a bad thing, just that you definitely don’t need both.) There are also several full color glossy maps in the back after the concordance.

Overall, this Bible is very well made and an excellent study Bible. For preaching, it is probably much too busy and you’d be flipping pages quite often for shorter texts. It doesn’t have quite as much as the Heirloom Study Bible, but it is considerably cheaper. Crossway really makes some beautiful Bibles. I woud highly recommend this Bible to anyone needing a good study Bible. The ESV is a good translation for personal Bible study and the extra tools and insights in this Bible will help as you read the Scriptures to understand.

** This item was sent to me free for review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. All opinions are my own. **

*** This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite content creators as they do not cost you any extra money to use, but a small portion of the sale goes to the creator. ***

**** I originally said Omega Reference Bible instead of the Heirloom Study Bible. I can’t keep my Bibles straight, apparently. Click HERE for my review of the Heirloom Study Bible. No link to a review of the Omega Reference Bible, because I don’t have that one. (Puts face into palm.) ****

Good Enough Parenting

If you follow me, you’ll know that I have made the foolhardy decision to go back to school. Because, you know, homeschooling seven kids and being in full-time ministry isn’t enough on a person. I clearly lacked the pressure of deadlines and lamenting over formatting issues in the wee hours of the morning in case my toddler isn’t keeping me up enough. Smack dab in the middle of my struggle to be everything to everyone, I get to take a lifespan development class. Now, I was really not looking forward to knowing all the ways I was currently messing up my kids’ lives. I’d really rather just keep my head down and get through this degree program.

And right on schedule, as I dove into lifespan development for the third time (I’ve had lifespan development classes before from other perspectives), I was ready to feel bad about the stress I am putting my family under right now. At first, I got that— the guilt. Infants rely on the steady care of a single caregiver and are upset when that is disrupted. Sorry Daisy. Preschoolers need adequate scaffolding to help them acquire new and deeper skills. Sorry Pippin, can’t scaffold for you, Mama’s got to write a paper about it instead. School aged children need security and patience with close monitoring as they learn new skills and begin to see themselves as others see them. Sorry Topher and Ransom, I don’t have time to monitor your mud pit fun, I’ve got papers to write. You get the idea. Everything is a slap in the face when you feel like you’re messing everything up— especially when you’re a mom of seven in school full time.

Then I came across the work of Donald Winnicott. He was an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst who voiced the idea of the “good enough” parent. I’m going to be grossly simplifying his work and pretty much just talking about a singular aspect. I’m imagining that if you were especially fond of psychoanalytic theory of infant development, you’d likely be taking the class I’m taking or reading a much longer book about the topic. (And just as a point of interest, the class ended up being extremely interesting and insightful. I feel like I only scratched the surface and would need another year to follow all the little rabbit trails my brain made.) For Winnicott, children didn’t need perfect parents. Children needed someone they could count on, but that someone didn’t have to be perfect all the time, they just had to be good enough. They just had to show up, love the kid, and do their best. Winnicott said that was the best kind of parent.

In today’s “perfect parenting” world, where parents feel judged every time they turn around, a world where parents spend so much time comparing their own parenting (and life) to what they see on Instagram, it is a breath of fresh air to read an expert tell us we only need to be “good enough”. The idea that everything bad that happens to our kid will be our fault is never flipped. If I’m responsible for all wrong roads my child may take, I’m also responsible for the right ones. And really, according to Winnicott, if I show up and do my best, my kids will turn out fine. Winnicott realized something our society won’t mention. Moms are people. They come with their own burdens, insecurities, and issues. Learning to be there for a child while still being a real person isn’t the easiest task for some people. And if you’re showing up, trying your best, and meeting the kid’s needs most of the time— you’re doing a good enough job of it. Not all of us can be Instagram perfect. We can’t have the perfect house with everything in various shades of white and grey. (How do you people keep white couches clean with kids?!) We can’t all be stay at home moms with endless budgets for all the kids enrichment activities and the “right” toys, clothes, and baby gear. We can’t all have all organic everything from the local farmer’s market. Life is messy. Life isn’t always ideal. The good news, according to Winnicott, is that we don’t need all those things. We need to pay attention most of the time. We need to provide security most of the time. We need need to learn to sacrifice, but it is okay for life to not be all sacrifice. We won’t get the mothering thing right every single time. The good enough mom knows this and can give herself some grace, learn from her mistakes, and move on. 

So if I have to delegate some schooling tasks to Dad for the next year, that is okay. If afternoon reading time has to be audible books, that is okay. If my cooking slips to eating PB&J a little too often, they will survive. If I’m not sewing them cute clothes and instead slipping them into hand-me-downs, I doubt they’ll notice. I’m here. I’m doing my best. The kids will be alright, I’m good enough. 

Preaching Bible Review

Crossway was awesome enough to send me this beautiful preaching Bible to review. This Bible is only available in premium black goatskin leather. Seriously, listen to me when I say, if you know someone who is going into full-time ministry and you want to buy them a Bible– do not waste your time on some bonded leather “looks nice” Bible. Buy them a premium leather, love the goatskin, Bible that will last their entire ministry. It was so sad when the bonded leather Bible The Pastor was given at the beginning of his ministry started to completely fall to pieces after less than two decades of use. He really did take care of it and hoped it would be used for his entire ministry– unfortunately, it wasn’t made to last. This Preaching Bible by Crossway is not only built to last, but has a lifetime guarantee.

This Bible is so beautiful. I’m told by The Pastor and several of his preaching friends that it has the right feel in hand. You can hold it in one hand with the Bible closed and use it to point at people, which I am told is necessary in a preaching Bible. It is very structured feeling in the spine while the pages still feel nice and floppy. You can see the beautiful ridge detailing on the spine.

The leather is soft and supple. It actually feels a bit squishy in hand.

It lays completely flat. So you can set it down and not loose your place. It does loose a bit of flatness at the very front and very back, but overall, it is a pretty flat lying Bible.

The only complaint I actually have with this Bible is that there are only TWO markers. Now, for my personal Bible, two would be acceptable. But for a preaching Bible, where you’ll have four passages to read each week, two just isn’t enough.

The print is slightly larger and single column. The numbers, both chapter and verse, are clearly visible to help guide the way as you’re reading in public. In a study Bible, this would be distracting. In a public reading Bible, this is necessary. It also has slightly wider than normal margins. There are no cross-references or distractions of any kind on the pages. The paper is a brighter white and isn’t too very see through for thin Bible paper. The edges are gold, but look reddish when the Bible is open.

A few maps in the back and a table of weights and measures are all you’ll get in terms of extras with this Bible. Even those seem a little superfluous to the point of this particular Bible. They are large or splashy or a distraction from the words on the page.

This is a lovely Bible. It is absolutely perfect for preaching. Of course, it is English Standard Version, so that may not be what everyone wants for preaching. I find it poetic enough of a translation that is sounds nice when read aloud but the language is updated enough to be more understandable.

This Bible is perfect for anyone reading from the Bible in a public setting. It is simple and not distracting. It is easy to find and keep your place while reading. It would be an excellent gift for anyone who may be going into the ministry.

** I received this Bible free for review. I am in no way obligated to give it anything other than an honest review.**

**This post and others on this blog may contain affiliate posts. Affiliate posts do not cost more for you, but they do benefit reviewers, writers, and creators you know, love, and trust.**

Not About “Me-Time”

There is this myth in our culture that we have to look out for number one in order to get anywhere successfully. “Put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.” It sounds like such wise advise. It sounds like wisdom. 

People hop from church to church because they aren’t “fed”. Even worse are those that use multiple churches to meet all their own “spiritual” needs. Sunday morning here, Bible study there, women’s group over here— using what they consider to be the “best” of each “option” to build their perfect spiritual atmosphere. 

There is a very big book industry based on this concept. You’ll find options to fit every person, every religious affiliation, every type of person. Moms need “me-time”. Christians need “me-time”. Women need “me-time”. It sounds like wisdom. 

Sometimes, what sounds like wisdom, isn’t wisdom at all. 1 Corinthians 3:19-20 (CSB) says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, the Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are futile.” This message of “me-time”— looking out for yourself first— that isn’t the Christian message at all. In fact, it is pretty much the opposite. As Philippians 2:4 says, we are to look out not for our own interests, but the interests of others. (If you want to argue the “not only” portion, do yourself a favor and look up the MOUNCE Greek translation on Bible Gateway and see that the “not only” has no Greek underneath, because it isn’t in the Greek. See Dr. Kinlaw’s The Mind of Christ for more on that subject.) 

Christ says, to find your life, you have to lose it. He doesn’t say that, to find your life, you need to set aside an appropriate amount of me time in order to better “center yourself” for that life. Nope. Following Jesus is dying to self. Anyone who loves his life will lose it. Jesus is full of paradox. Things that sound like wisdom are foolish. The last will be made first— not because it is fair, but because that is His way. Those who lead will serve. Those who seem wise will be fools. If you really want to live, you lay down your life and let Him live through you. 

I’m not saying to neglect your health. I’m not saying that anything you do “for yourself” is sinful. I am saying that perhaps we need to look a little closer at the wisdom of the world and not accept it just because it sounds like wisdom. Check it against what God says in His book. Check it against your cultural assumptions. (Gym time is a luxury not afforded to many in this world. If you equate your gym time with personal righteousness, you are saying something about who can and cannot be righteous according to your gospel.) 

If I find myself looking for the religious experience that best suits me, I doubt I will find it. If I’m not being “fed”, perhaps the issue is that I’m not out in the field sowing. (“He who does not work will not eat” could apply to spiritual feeding, as well.) Perhaps I need to stop treating church like a spiritual gym and more like the meeting together of the people of God. 

When I am tired as a mother, the Bible does not tell me that luxury (through gym time, manicures, shopping, hair appointments, massages, etc.) is the way to find rest for my soul and strength for my task; the Bible tells me that in my weakness, He will be strong. It tells me that I can rest in Him and His promises. The Bible tells me that I will not work alone and that my work in making disciples of my children is His great commission. I could write an entire book on the blessing of being a mother and the amount of grace I’ve received from letting God work in those tired, busy times— but for today I’ll save you all of that. What I will say to the fellow mother who is struggling, feeling weighed down— the answer isn’t “me-time”. The answer is Jesus. Throw your full weight of burden on Him and watch Him transform it into something beautiful, meaningful, and redemptive.

Be careful, dear friends, in listening to what seems like wisdom. There is nothing wrong with going to the gym, getting your nails done, getting a massage, etc. There is something wrong if you equate those things with what it means to be a godly person. There is something wrong if you see those things as your “right”. There is something wrong if you are so focused and intent on those things that your are putting them first. This isn’t a call to martyrdom— to smear yourself in ashes and sackcloth to prove your righteousness. This is a call to take up your cross and follow Jesus. This is a call to stop thinking about yourself so much and start thinking about how you can serve others like Jesus.

Crossway Heirloom Study Bible Review

The pictures of this Bible aren’t going to do it justice. You really have to hold this Bible in your hands to appreciate it fully. I’m pretty much going to let the photos do most of the talking. This is the ESV Heirloom Bible by Crossway. The cover is goatskin. It has four (!) ribbon markers. There are so many extras in this Bible. It is pretty big. This is not a compact Bible by any means. This is the big, fat Bible of your grandparents. And this one will last that long, too.

This is a study Bible. It has so many maps, charts, articles, and features. It is amazingly packed full of anything they could think of that would help you better understand the Word of God. The articles and insights are thoroughly Biblical. If you’re more liberal leaning, this will likely not make you very happy.

When I said packed with extras, I really meant it. It is PACKED with extras. The Pastor has been using this Bible as a preaching Bible for a few months now. (His preaching Bible fell apart at the end of last year. He preached the cover right off!) While this Bible is a bit large and weighty for a preaching Bible, I highly recommend anyone in the ministry to get a high-quality Bible like this one that won’t fall apart on you with excessive use.

** I was sent this Bible for no cost. I do use affiliate links to help support this blog.**

Crossway Single-Column Journaling Bible Review

I’m sure you know by now how much I love my Interleaved Journaling Bible from Crossway. I love having every other page fully blank to create without worrying about obstructing the Word. Most people use the side column journaling Bible, so I figured I would check that out.

I am going back to school (if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, that is your answer). So, I thought it might be nice to keep a Journaling Bible for my studies.

This Bible comes in a variety of covers. There are so many beautiful options, it is hard to choose. You can even buy a customizable cover version! They also have a two-column version. It only has a single ribbon, which is what most Bibles have, but I am getting spoiled with some of my multi-ribbon Bibles.

The text is in a single column and then the margins are lightly lined with dots. The lines are light, but definitely noticeable. If you’re more into sketching, these lines might be problematic. For my purposes, I was just writing in the margins and not doing any type of art, so it worked fine for me. It would also make a nice Bible to take sermon notes in the margins. If you’re doing artwork in the margins, you may want to prep the margins before beginning.

As you can see from my pen test, the pages are pretty thin. Everything shadows through and some things will bleed to the next page. Again, prepping the page with gesso before beginning your art will help this problem significantly. It also helps to keep a blank piece of paper under the page you are currently working on so it won’t bleed to the next. (And my Mildliner was dying. Don’t worry– it has been replaced.)

You can see how the Pigma Microns that I use show through the page a bit. It isn’t enough to really bother me when taking notes in the margins. I still feel like both sides are legible.

This Bible is very light on extras. There is a reading plan to read the Bible in one year. No index. No maps. Pretty simple.

Overall, it is a beautiful Bible. Now, will it fit your needs? I don’t know. If you’re wanting a Bible for art, I highly recommend the Interleaved version. If you’re wanting a Bible to take notes in the margins– this Bible is likely perfect. I’ve really been enjoying using it for school. I have a highlighter color for each class that I am taking. During my weekly reading, I highlight the applicable verses and write quotes I come across that I want to save in the margins. I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like at the end of my degree program. I use a similar Bible for church on Sundays to keep sermon notes, and I think this Bible would be perfect for that. If you use a more scrapbook style of journaling or don’t mind gesso prepping the margins, this Bible can be used for art, as well.

I typically purchase Bibles from Christian Books Distributors. They typically have the best price. Amazon, however, will get it to you faster and if you are shipping internationally, will be overall cheaper because of shipping.

This Bible was sent to me free for review. I am not obligated to review it positively. This blog contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links from your favorite bloggers is a great way to show them a little love. Affiliate links do not cost your more to use but do give a small portion of any sales to the affiliate.

Blessed Advent Bible Giveaway

**This Giveaway is now Closed!**

I told you guys it was going to be a Blessed Advent! Crossway is giving away 5 different Bibles to my readers this year! Merry Christmas to you!

Five Bibles. Five Winners! You could win your own copy of The Story of Redemption Bible, The Archaeology Study Bible, The Illuminated Scripture Journal Set (New Testament), The Scripture Journal Set (New Testament), or the Illuminated Bible. All are ESV. And all are awesome! I’m telling you, each of these Bibles makes an awesome gift. And five of you will be receiving one of them as a gift!

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So, how do you win? Easy! Comment and share! You’ll get one entry for comments on this blog post. One entry for liking the main giveaway post on our Facebook page and commenting. One entry for liking the post on Instagram and commenting. One entry for sharing this post (comment here or on social media letting me know how you are sharing.) The giveaway is open to residents of the continental United States. It will close on December 14th at 10:45 am (EST). At 11am (EST) on the 14th, we will draw five winners on Facebook live! I am so excited to be able to share this with you!

If you’re curious about the different Bibles, you’ll find reviews here on my website! This post does contain affiliate links.