Choosing A Bible Translation

We have a huge blessing available to us in modern Bible translations. Not only do we have the Bible translated into our language, but we have multiple translations that are great for various walks of life and situations. We are abundantly blessed. So, don’t get yourself worked into a tizzy over which translation is the right translation. They’re all translations. You may prefer one, but our preference does not equal rightness. You may find yourself in a spiritual drought at some point, needing the Word to be fresh for you. A different translation can be all it takes to make the Word come alive again. You may find yourself discipling a child and need something on their level, but not a Bible storybook level either. You may find yourself reading the minor prophets in a new translation that makes it sound so poetic and beautiful and you experience Scripture in beauty for the first time. You may be helping a new Christian and need something readable for someone with no personal Christian history. Read on and find the translation for you now.

Translations are made one of two ways. Well, that simplifies it a little too much, but for the sake of this conversation, we’ll go with it. If you’re looking at a foreign language and you’re going to translate it, you can either translate each individual word or you can translate the whole thought. Translating word for word can lead to some things that just don’t make a lot of sense, since we arrange our words in English very specifically. (Did you know we even have a specific order for arranging adjectives?) So, in translating word for word, you can see you’ll run into problems. However, when translating thought for thought, you may not accurately convey the right word or the right emphasis. You find people complaining about the exact accuracy of thought for thought translations. But all translations will fall somewhere between an exact word for word translation and a thought for thought translation.

Each translation also comes in at a different grade reading level. Lower grade levels are typically going to have a less expansive vocabulary used.

King James Version (KJV)

This translation is a word for word translation with a very high reading level. (12th grade) While many people that grew up in a conservative church find this to be the Bible translation they are most familiar with, new Christians typically struggle to make sense of this translation. It is more like reading Shakespeare. It is incredibly beautiful in its language, but can be difficult to understand or get to the point. This translation is often a good one for memorizing Scripture because the poetic language is easier for some people to memorize. The flow just lends itself to getting lodged in the brain. However, for new Christians, people feeling spiritual draught, and younger Christians, the reading level is just too high and they have trouble making sense of the Word. This translation was published in 1611. This is a very common choice for a family Bible because it feels and reads like an old classic.

I John 1:9 “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”

New King James Version (NKJV)

This translation is still a word for word translation. Modernized a little and the reading level brought down to a much more readable 8th grade level. It still has a lot of the poetic feel of the King James, but makes a little more sense and is easier for most people to study. This is often the choice of pastors for their preaching Bible translation. Again, Scripture memorization may be easier with this version as it is more poetic and sticks in your head like a song. This translation was published in 1982. It is a classic, conservative feel that is understandable by more people. I use this translation as our homeschool Bible. This is the translation my kids learn their memory verses from and we do our group reading from.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “ He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.”

New International Version (NIV)

This is a mixture of word for word and thought for thought translation. A little of both has made this a pretty standard choice. It is just below an 8th grade reading level, so it is pretty well understood by most people. This was published in 1978 and is now the most read and the most trusted translation choice.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

New Living Translation (NLT)

Like the NIV, the New Living Translation is a balance between word for word and thought for thought translation. The reading level is just above a 6th grade level, so this is a very understandable translation for most people. This was not a translation of a translation, but a brand new translation undertaking by 90 Biblical scholars. This translation flows smoothly and makes a lot of sense. It is less poetic, but much more readable and understandable. This is an excellent translation for new Christians. Published in 1996.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

English Standard Version (ESV)

This is a word for word translation in a little above a 7th grade reading level. This is the most popular choice for Bible Journaling. It is very readable. It isn’t unnecessarily wordy and makes a great modern choice for Scripture memorization. Publish in 2001, it is an updated version of the Revised Standard Version. This makes an excellent family Bible. I use this translation in my Bible Journaling and we have a family Bible in this translation. This also makes a great gift Bible.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is a modern word for word translation at a higher reading level, 11th grade. It has a more formal feel than most of the other modern translations. Published in 1971, updated in 1995. This is very readable, but also more of a scholarly translation. This is a great choice for a preaching Bible or a Christian ready for deeper Bible study. Not always the best for Scripture memorization as it does get a little wordy. This also makes an excellent family Bible.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

This is more of a word for word translation. It has a 7th grade reading level. This version is clear and concise. It is excellent for Bible study. It can also be a great translation for New Christians. I think my primary recommendation is for Christians experience spiritual dryness in their life and need the Word to come alive again. This is the translation that you can read the stories you’ve heard your whole life and see something completely new and shocking in it that has always been there, but you are just seeing it. It is a good eye opening translation for personal study. I think it would make a great preaching Bible, as well, but I don’t know many pastors who actually use it for that. This is the Bible I use as my church Bible and for personal Bible Study.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.”

International Children’s Bible (ICB)

This is a thought for thought translation in a third grade reading level. This is a translation meant for children. If you’re a children’s pastor, this would be a good preaching and teaching Bible for you. This is a good choice for a first Bible for a child. It is very easily understood. Published in 1982. This can be difficult for kids to follow along in service or Bible study if the leader isn’t using this version.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. We can trust God. He does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrongs we have done.”

Psalm 40:2 “ He lifted me out of the pit of destruction, out of the sticky mud. He stood me on a rock. He made my feet steady.“

The Message (MSG)

This is a thought for thought, paraphrase version. A lot of hate out there for this version, but I think it definitely has its place. This translation is excellent for seekers who have no Christian back ground or experience. It was published in 2002, and can sometimes seem too flippant for many conservative Christians. But a teen who has never read the Bible will find this an invaluable source of God’s Word. And not just teens. The reading level varies with the passage, but it is about a middle school average. This can also be a good version for those experiencing spiritual aridity, but it doesn’t make for a very good study Bible. You will hear and notice things you didn’t before, but not in the same way you will with the CSB. This is a difficult version to follow along with in service or Bible study because of the paraphrasing.

1 John 1:9 “ On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.“

Psalm 40:2 “ He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.“

New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)

This is a blend of word for word and thought for thought. This has the lowest reading level of any of the translations, just below 3rd grade. This is a translation for very young children. This was published in 1994 and updated in 1998. It is a beginner’s Bible. Excellent choice for a first Bible for brand new readers. This is a good resource for homeschooling parents to use to teach young kids to read or write using the Bible. This is the translation I usually buy my kids as they are learning to read.

1 John 1:9 “But God is faithful and fair. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure.”

Psalm 40:2 “I was sliding down into the pit of death, and he pulled me out. He brought me up out of the mud and dirt. He set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand on.”

This isn’t all the Bible translations available to you. Check out biblegateway.com if you want to compare more translations. These are just a few that I hope might help you in choosing the Bible that is right for your situation.

Another note: I used to find myself feeling bad for owning multiple copies of the Bible. That was surely a luxury many in this world do not have. And that is correct. There are many who don’t have the luxury of owning one single full copy of God’s Word. So, it often felt very first world of me to own many copies. However, I have come to accept that a Bible used in my house by me or my children is to God’s glory. No matter how many Bibles we have- if we are using them, it is for His glory. Also, supporting Bible publishers is supporting Bible translators. These companies can do good around the world with my support. Supporting them is supporting the work of furthering the spread of the Gospel. Choosing to put my money in their pockets is better than what I would have spent it on elsewhere. Also, I am always willing to give my Bible away. Whatever copy I may have in my hand at the moment, if someone else has no copy- I’m always ready to give mine away. I am not hoarding Bibles, though it may seem that way.

*** This post contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links is a great way to support your favorite bloggers. You don’t pay any extra, but we are compensated a small amount when you purchase using our links. ***

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Feng Shui Mommy & Musings on Being A Mother


I had the opportunity to review the book Feng Shui Mommy by Bailey Gaddis recently. It took me a little longer than usual, since we have been traveling for what seems like forever. And I see these Instagram posts of parents having this relaxing, chill time while traveling, reading and sipping pretty cups of coffee. That is so far from my life. For me, traveling is a bunch of yelling at kids to please, don’t scream in the bus. And please, don’t throw a half eaten orange on the floor. And then trying to get them settled wherever we are staying is trying. Please don’t break anything. Please don’t scream. Just behave for a couple days, guys! My kids really need time to run outside and be wild children. They just get all crazy without it. And then trying to find decent food on the road while the kids are yelling “Look! Burger King! We haven’t been there in years! Please!!!!” It is just far from relaxing. And there is zero time for me to accomplish anything other than keeping the kids alive.I wasn’t entirely sure about this book. Feng Shui isn’t my think, neither is Eastern mysticism. But I figured I had read any other pregnancy book I could get my hands on, why not this one too? And I am a believer that wisdom can be gained from anywhere. You just have to be able to put in the wisdom and leave whatever doesn’t work for you behind.

I’ll start with the good. Bailey is hilarious. I’m sure we’d get along great in a Mommy group. The book is very encouraging, yet honest about the process of becoming a mother. It is really applicable for a first time mom or a seventh time mom like myself. We all know pregnancy is this giant miracle, the piece of creative work here on earth. But we also know it comes with hemorrhoids, stretch marks, uncontrollable belching, and plenty of other super fun things they write entire pregnancy books about. Bailey acknowledges these unfortunate parts while still reveling in the miraculousness of it all. And the commonness. Let’s face it. My pregnancy is life changing. For me. And my family. Not so much for everyone else. Pregnant women are everywhere. Babies are born every day. We don’t stop and revel in that daily miracle, unless the miracle is in our arms or our circle. Not that you, pregnant woman, are not special and your baby isn’t the most awesome thing ever. But there is comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your journey. This isn’t a path not taken. Women have babies. It is what we do.

She lays down a lot of good advice about letting go of fears and accepting and allowing this experience to shape and change you. Motherhood is going to change you. You won’t be the same. Not that you will not be you, you’ll just be a better you. Motherhood has the opportunity to let us get beyond ourselves, see things in a more broad light, and see the world not just for what it is, but what it could be for our children. You hear a lot of women talking about loosing themselves in motherhood. That has not been my experience at all. I have found myself in motherhood. I have tapped into creativity, problem solving, stamina, strength, wisdom, and more through becoming a mother. Motherhood has made me a more complete person.

There are other nuggets of wisdom throughout this book. There are little aspects similar to hypnobabies, for those not necessarily wanting to jump head in to that or wanting a little more than that. Each chapter has a riddle and the answer is the code for a free relaxation recording on her website. (Yourserenelife.wordpress if you are wanting to check out the website or just purchase the recordings.) If you are a bit high strung, this will definitely help you quiet your mind and rest. The recording go alongside the chapter. There is some great information about prenatal nutrition, exercising, dealing with your anxieties, figuring out your birth plan, breathing, breastfeeding, and postpartum self care. A lot of the things she suggests are very “woo” (hippie, might seem weird to most mainstream folks), but try them and you’ll find so many benefits (without side effects). This book is really packed with a lot of natural birth type basics, specifically helpful in the preparing stage.

I genuinely expected the major focus of the book to be decluttering and a form of minimalism in a family home. While there was a little of that, it was more about decluttering your mind and letting go of the junk you keep stashed in there, less about what you keep stashed under your bed. (Though it does briefly address that aspect, too.)

Now for my only big critique. As much as I enjoyed the book, Feng Shui isn’t my language. You may know what I am talking about. You read pregnancy affirmations and they just don’t resonate with you, not because they are wrong, but they aren’t the language of your heart or soul. Aligning my soul and my life with nature isn’t where I find myself. I appreciate the natural world, as a creation of our God that reveals His nature to us. So while I do find myself able to adapt and use much that I find in this book, it isn’t in the language of my heart. Same with the relaxation tracks. I can find wisdom in them. I can apply them to myself. But in all, they aren’t my language. My heart resonates with Scripture, with the voices of those for the cause of Christ. So, I did find that I had to leave some of this, and adapt the rest to fit my particular worldview. I find that Scripture is what I need to quiet my soul and release my anxieties. I memorize Bible verses, not birth affirmations because Scripture speaks to me. If you aren’t a solid Christian though, this can be much harder to do and not get lost with incompatible philosophies running around in your head. However, I think the overall tone of the book, being supportive and encouraging embracing motherhood and letting it change you, is completely in line with Christian beliefs and is what many Christian women need to hear. So, I do recommend the book, despite the difference of religion and worldview that is there.


I am going to have to figure out how to cut down on this rambling for a more concise Amazon review. But this book is a great jumping off point in discussing our expectations of motherhood and what the reality could be if we let go of our fear and become the mothers we were made to be. Our culture has a lot of myths about birth. We just don’t trust it because it is the wild, uncontrollable, unknown. We try to control it in any way we can. But pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are not beyond us- they are us. Their strength that we try to tamper because it is scary is our own strength. Our culture still paints women as these frail objects that are affected by birth. But women ARE birth. It is the work of women to BIRTH. We work alongside God in the creative act of bringing forth new life. That is amazing. That is powerful. And that is who we are and what we were made to do. For those without children, that strength is still there. It is still part of who you are. And I’m not talking about having some secret power you don’t use. You were made with the power of a mother, whether you are one or not. And you can embrace the strength given to you by God, too. One baby, ten babies, no babies. This is mystical. It is mystery. But it isn’t a nightmare or something to fear. Embrace it. Roll with it. Let it shape you.

** I did receive this book for free, however, I am under no obligation to talk it up or give it a good review. All thoughts are my own. **

Pregnancy and Childbirth Books on My Bookshelf

I’m pregnant with baby #7. And I am working on teaching free childbirth classes in my community. So I had every single childbirth book I own scattered across my dining room table. I often have people ask for recommendations, so I figured I’d share that particular “bookshelf” and tell you my thoughts on each, in case you were interested. 


*In no particular order. Post contains affiliate links.*

1. Holy Labor: How Childbirth Shapes a Woman’s Soul

By Aubrey Smith

A really encouraging and insightful look into the theology that goes along with pregnancy and childbirth. Very eye opening and brings even more meaning into this part of your life as you better understand how pregnancy and birth reflect our God.  I very, very highly recommend this book. 

2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

By Ina May Gaskin

Full of birth stories and real practical advice for natural childbirth. Helps you more fully see the role women play in bringing forth life as well as gives you the practical tips and tricks of the birthing trade. Kind of a substitute for that passed down from woman to woman information that we have lost in our modern culture. Most of the birth stories are very “hippie”. And some of it definitely has a new age vibe to it.  
3. The Birth Book

By William Sears, M.D. And Martha Sears, R.N.

Very informative book on birth. A little dated. No frills. No fear mongering. Just information.

4. The Lord of Birth

By Jennifer Vanderlaan

A devotion for pregnant women. Now, this one goes a little far out there. It definitely isn’t for everyone. I think Holy Labor is much better. But this book does have some good reminders, if you can take what helps you and leave the rest. If this statement bothers you: planning to have an epidural in a normal labor is lack of faith on your part because you aren’t trusting God to get you through. You should skip this book. The book is really short, only 70 pages, with a lot of breaks in there for questions and such.

5. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

By Tina Cassidy

If you are really hormonal and sensitive, this may not be best to read while you are pregnant as some of the information is really disturbing. (Human history is always tainted with the disturbing.) It really isn’t just a book for moms, but anyone interested in the history of how we give birth. It definitely makes you view birth choices in a different, more cultural, less “right and wrong” sort of way. Understanding where we have been and why some things still are the way they are. Very interesting, and slightly disturbing, read.

6. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

By Henci Goer

As an information junkie, this book is one of my favorites. I have read and reread and rereread this book. I’m surprised my copy is still holding up. It is the science behind childbirth choices. Laid out in a pros and cons sort of way with all sources cited so you make your own birth decisions. Yes, the author does give her opinions at times, but the evidence backs those up. Extremely informative. Extremely helpful.

7. The Natural Pregnancy Book

By Avila Jill Romm

This is a really helpful introductory guide to having a natural pregnancy. What things should I really be avoiding? What nutrition should I really be focusing on? Is red clover safe during pregnancy? What can I naturally do for heartburn? Those are the sorts of questions this book answers. I even have mine all tabbed for quick and easy reference.

8. Your Best Birth

By Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

You’ve seen The Business of Being Born movies, so you decide to grab the book. Good call. This is like a dumbed down version of Henci Goer’s book. It is much more for the average person who doesn’t want all the studies cited and statistics quoted. It gives you your options, pros and cons, and you make your choices. I mean, let’s be honest, you’ve seen the movie, clearly there is going to be a slant toward the natural side of things. But I do think they tried to be as informative and non-biased as possible on the subject. Some things in American Obstetrics are just wrong and it is hard to find any words to justify them. I do recommend this book. I actually recommend it in person more often than The Thinking Woman’s Guide, simply because of accessibility. This one seems more for the masses and not just science nerds.

9. Gentle Birth Choices

By Barbara Harper, R.N.

First, the picture on the cover is just adorable. Tell me that little face doesn’t make you look forward to giving birth. Gentle Birth gives you some of the history of modern obstetrics along with more natural alternatives to common practices. Very pro-midwifery. Very challenge the system. It has good information, even if you are planning a hospital birth. Although, if you know you are delivering in a hospital, you may want to try other books, since this one might increase your anxiety about it.

10. Birthing From Within

By Pam England and Rob Horowitz

When I first got this book, I thought, “What on earth have I just purchased?” However, it has been extremely helpful over the years. I have read and worked through it multiple times and recommended it to people. This book helps you recognize your preconceived ideas about childbirth and address your fears and traumas through art therapy. It sounds very woo, but it is incredibly helpful. It does have a slight new age vibe, as I find so many natural childbirth books do. But if you find yourself anxious about childbirth or needing to process your birth experiences, this book can help you do that.

11. The Christian Childbirth Handbook

By Jennifer Vanderlaan

Basically, if it has the words “Christian” and “Childbirth” in the title, I’m going to buy it. I am always looking for really good Christian alternative for the new age stuff that seems to be so prevalent when discussing natural childbirth. I have found I can glean wisdom from those other sources, but not deep understanding and deeper meaning. This is much better than her Lord of Birth devotional. There is the informative stuff, and the author is very pro- natural birth. But there are also Bible verses throughout, which I found to be helpful. I do like this book. And this book is much bigger. It is 400+ pages of actual information, not a devotional, though it does have devotional thoughts.

12. Christ Centered Childbirth

By Kelly J Townsend

Again, in my search for good Christian childbirth books, I came across this one. Some of this one is a little hokey and just not for me. It does have good information, it just isn’t laid out in the most user friendly way. I do like that it includes Scripture to read. However, it isn’t really the best Christian childbirth book I have read. It is good, just not awesomely great.  

13. Spiritual Midwifery

By Ina May Gaskin

This book is very new age. It has a lot of very hippie birth stories, which can help dispel the fear of the birthing process. I found the birth stories prepared me better for birth than anything else. This book also has a lot of really great information. The second half of the book is basically a midwifery textbook. And while I really enjoy that sort of thing, not everyone needs that level of information. The birth stories are probably the more popular reason for buying this book. The stories were similar to Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, but I still thought they were worth the read.

14. The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth

By Sheila Kitzinger

This book has a very basic week by week pregnancy guide in the front of the book. Then gets into the standard pregnancy book stuff. Like a better version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. It has good information, full color pictures (some are graphic, because… birth), and helpful tips from pregnancy all the way through birth. A very good book to cover all the basics. Like a childbirth class in a book.

15. Easing Labor Pain

By Adrienne B. Lieberman

This book is specifically natural labor techniques. If you are planning an unmedicated labor, this book would be a good one to read. I found it more helpful than the Bradley method or Lamaze breathing techniques. This one has actual helpful things to prepare for labor and then for handling labor once you’re there.

16. Waiting In Wonder

By Catherine Claire Larson

This book is a week by week guide to pregnancy and a pregnancy devotion book all in one. Each week has information about your growing baby, a prayer list for that week, a memory verse, and then several individual devotions to do throughout the week. There are 4 devotions per week, so it isn’t a daily thing. But it has room for thought and reflection. This would make a really lovely gift for the expecting couple, or buy it for yourself as you walk through each week of pregnancy with your focus on God. It can be used as a journal, as there are places to write in answers to questions, thoughts, feelings, etc. on the pages.  

17. Our Bodies, Ourselves

By The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

There are specific versions for pregnancy, but I have the big women’s health reference book. Honestly, I just don’t like it enough to bother with the Pregnancy version. Extremely liberal. Not my cup of tea at all. With information from everything from addiction and relationships to anatomy and menopause. I just found there was way more political and opinion writing that actual scientific information. It isn’t a book about health, but rather, feminism with some anatomy and health related issues thrown in.

18. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

By Diana Korte and Roberta M. Scaer

This book goes through birth options and birth issues. Even a chapter called, “How to Have A Normal Vaginal Birth”. (How sad is it that we have gotten to the point where to norm is now something we have to seek after and really try for?) It has really good information, I just think The Thinking Woman’s Guide to A Better Birth and Your Best Birth lay it out a little better. A good book, but not necessarily my highest recommended one on these specific topics.

19. Great With Child

By Debra Rienstra

This is more of a memoir. The ramblings of a mother through her pregnancy. It is very poetic and thoughtful. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is of any “help” in pregnancy and childbirth or even a book to only be read through pregnancy and childbirth. It is more of the internal musings of becoming a mother and carrying another person inside you.

20. Baby Name Wizard

By Laura Wattenberg

They now have a hugely popular website, which kind of makes the book obsolete, unless, like me, you prefer an actual book to information on a screen. The website is way more in depth than the book could ever be. The books also focuses more on the trends of the names than the meanings or where they came from. So, it isn’t a typical approach to naming, that is for sure. But check out the Baby Name Wizard website if you’re wanting to search naming trends. A lot more information. And its free. (The book isn’t free.)

21. The Mama Natural Week-By-Week guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth

By Genevieve Howland

This one is really, really new. I have been following her YouTube channel, so when the book was coming out, I pre-ordered it. It came out April 2017. (So, super new as I am writing this.)

This is a week by week guide, which I love. Something about weekly pregnancy guides. It must not just be me since there are dozens of week by week pregnancy guides and apps out there. This guide is for us crunchy mamas. Although, I would actually say it is Demi-crunchy. I have definitely seen more hippie types. This si much more balanced. Very similar to The Natural Pregnancy Book, only laid out in a weekly style. My favorite thing about the book is the recipes included for each week. The specific nutrition focus is based on how the baby is developing that week, so big brain weeks, the recipes are fish. Plus, the recipes are ones I will actually use. Like, stuff I can actually find and make and will willingly eat. I am absolutely loving this book!

22. Cool Names for Babies

By Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

Again, another silly baby name book. This one is primarily lists. What did celebrities name their kids? What about rappers? Ooh, what are names of models? How about their kids? Those are the sorts of things in this book. You’ll find normal name along with Danger Mouse and Moxie Crimefighter. It is totally amusing. You may find THE NAME in here. Or maybe you’ll just find a name to tell your Mom to get her to stop asking you what the baby’s name will be.

23. From Conception to Birth

By Alexander Tsiaras

This is a coffee table picture book. It has the little close up pictures of sperm meeting egg. Then you have the pictures as the cells duplicate. Then pictures of the baby as he develops. My kids love looking through this book. I’m not standoffish at all about how babies are made or how they are born. These are the facts of life, so I don’t hide these from my kids. They mostly focus on the development pictures and like finding pictures that correlate to their new sibling’s current stage. Look! She has a tail! We have gotten a lot of use out of this book.

24. Your Pregnancy Week By Week

By Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler

This was my old favorite week by week guide. Now, I have a new one. But this one is so much better than What To Expect When You’re Expecting. (Can you tell I hate that book?) Still more on the mainstream medical side, but not too much horrible freak you out information. I think Mama Natural is prettier and has better information, but if the word “Natural” freaks you out, this might be the way to go. (Though I still recommend Mama Natural, hands down.)

25. The Pregnancy Book

By William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

I still have the old version of this book, not the new updated version. So my take is that the old version is old. It is more of a month by month guide, but I don’t think in terms of months when I am pregnant. I think in weeks. When someone asks me how many months pregnant I am, I honestly have no idea. Purple? My brain just doesn’t process pregnancy in months. Maybe that is an age thing, I don’t know. I think the book has good information in it. It just never was my “reach for” book. I read through it once or twice, and then it has been a bookshelf sitter.

26. The Babycenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth

By Babycenter (a bunch of people who work for Babycenter)

I can feel some people rolling their eyes so hard right now. But seriously, you gotta keep it balanced, people. I need info from all sides. And then I can roll my eyes at them. This is a week by week guide with actual mom concerns. It is very mainstream. And it has some bad information in it. It isn’t bad, but you can honestly get this information on Babycenter for free, along with the asinine comments from random people along with it. Plus on Babycenter, you’ll get the added bonus of someone’s drama that is better than watching soap operas. Really, I don’t know why Babycenter is considered “expert” advice. It should just be considered “advice”. And like all free advice, take it for what you paid for it. Now, the book, sure, buy it if you want. But Mama Natural is a much better week by week guide and other books have much better “experts” giving advice.

27. Pushed

By Jennifer Block

 Warning: do not read this book while pregnant. Don’t. It isn’t going to be healthy for you mental state. However, once you have birthed and processed said birth, read this book. For so many of us it is extremely validating. It is the book that tells us we aren’t crazy and the system is flawed. A lot of history. A lot of technical information. But all information is cited, which I appreciate. I know the book cover says you need to read this when pregnant, but for many women, it would just cause too much anxiety. You know if that applies to you. It is really good information about the inner workings of our system and the problems in how hospitals and insurance companies work. I wouldn’t say it is conspiracy theory. I think we are all awake to the problems in our medical system and the bed that is made between medicine and politics. This just looks at that from an obstetric side. As someone who was cut because of my provider’s malpractice insurance, I found it very validating. (And slightly maddening.)

She Reads Truth Review


If you follow the Notes From The Parsonage Facebook page, you may have already heard about She Reads Truth. I had signed up for their Auto-Ship program for their Devotion books. They release a new one each month, and most of the book is just Scripture. It makes devotional reading very easy to do on a daily basis because it is all right there. You can also scribble notes and prayers right there on the pages on not feel bad about “messing up” your Bible. (Not that I am at all averse to writing in my Bible.) The books are beautifully done. They contain beautiful art, scripture memorization cards, some have recipes, reflection questions, and charts. It is a very Bible centered devotion.

Now, they also have an app. You can download the memory verses each week to use as a screen saver on your phone or tablet. I have found this particularly helpful in keeping the memory verse in front of me throughout the week. You can also purchase the devotions in digital form for significantly cheaper through the app. (The AutoShip program of the books is $29 a month with shipping. Each book on the app is $1.99 to $2.99 each. They even have some shorter books for free.) The app also has a Bible on it, if you don’t already have a Bible app you like.


I have really enjoyed the books. They have Scripture reading from the Old and New Testament each day, which I really enjoy. They connect the Scriptures very well. I have been very blessed in my personal devotion time with this resource and I absolutely highly recommend it. They also offer a He Reads Truth version for men. I haven’t purchased any of these, personally. (The Pastor uses the Ancient Christian Devotional books for his daily reading.) All Scripture used for She Reads Truth is Holman Christian Standard translation. 


When She Reads Truth announced they were releasing a Bible, I preordered it immediately. I had a hard time choosing my cover and options, because they all looked so beautiful. I settled on the Gray Linen Indexed version. I have never owned an indexed Bible, so I thought I would give that a try. Now that it has come in, I can give you an overview!


It comes in a very sturdy box to match. The linen cover is very nice, like an old book. The indexed tabs have 3 books per tab.


The first thing you come to in the Bible is a “How To Read The Bible” article. It is extremely helpful. I often have people ask me just this question. This lays it our very succinctly. There are also study guides in the front of each book. They have a reading plan for that book that includes references to other places in the Bible for a deeper, fuller understanding.



Next, you come to an article called “This Is The Gospel”. As a Wesley-Armenian, I often have a difficult time finding theologically appropriate study materials. So, I was a little hesitant to read this article. I was sure they would disappoint me theologically and then I might not enjoy it as much. However, that was not the case. She Reads Truth is very based on Scripture, so theologically, they were right on track. It is sad when you are delightfully surprised to not find heresy in your Bible. But I was.


Each book of the Bible has the key verse of the book illustrated beautifully to begin the book. There is an intro page for each book, giving you the background and setting of the book to give you some context for the writing. Each book also contains a timeline, map, or chart that is helpful in reading that book. Genesis has a timeline. Exodus has a map. Leviticus has a diagram of the tabernacle. You get the picture. And as I said before, each book has a reading plan, complete with additional verses from other books. It is broken down into 5 days per week. The number of weeks depends on the book.



I love the formatting. Single column with a slight margin. This margin might be wide enough to do Bible journaling in, but I will reserve it for notes. There are also very clear footnotes at the bottom of each page. They aren’t tiny and hard to read. The paper is really thin. Thinner than most Bible paper. I’m sure you can tell from the photos that the paper is thin, since you can see through the page to what is printed on the other side. I found that gel highlighters work best for this paper, since they don’t show through at all. However, for margin notes, you’re going to have to deal with being able to see through it. You could use a pencil, but I am not a pencil person. 


There are also various devotions found throughout the Bible. They are a single page, two columns, and easy to find.


In the back of the Bible, there is a list of the key verses for each book. There is also a genre guide, telling you how the Scripture is broken up. Each genre is color coded and you’ll find that those colors are also on the title page for each book. Then you’ll find the apostle’s creed. (It includes that Jesus descended into hell, but excludes the word Catholic.) Next there is a Bible in a year reading plan check list. It also lists a memory verse for each month. A topical index is next, followed by some maps they didn’t put in earlier, and a chart with weights and measures. (Ever wonder how much is a shekel or a cubit? Chart!)


Another awesome feature is that this Bible has TWO satin bookmarks! So you can hold your place in two places at once! 


All in all, I am loving this Bible! I cannot wait to dive into it and use it on a daily basis. I think it is a wonderful resource and could be very helpful if you’re looking for something to help you get into God’s Word more regularly and with passion. They clearly put a lot of thought and attention to detail in their devotional plans and their new Bible. 


**This post contains affiliate links. I am not endorsed or sponsored by She Reads Truth, just a customer. **

Bible Journaling 

 Bible Journaling can be a great way to get in God’s Word on a more regular basis and change the way you interact with it. Artistic skills or not, you can Bible Journal and you can get a lot out of it.
If you have a hard time remembering to read your Bible daily or if you are just in a rut with Bible reading, you may way to seriously consider using Bible Journaling to rekindle your love of The Word. 


 There are many different journaling Bibles on the market. I have found that CBD.com offers the biggest selection for the cheapest price. There are single column versions, double column versions. Some with space to write or doodle at the bottom of the page. Some have doodle space to the side margin. Some have every other page blank. You’ll find many different versions available. Which one is best for you depends on you. Do you have to have a Journaling Bible to Bible Journal? Well, no. Not at all. You can journal the Word in other ways. But a Journaling Bible is nice to have.


 You’ll find many examples of Bible Journaling pages on Instagram looking under the hashtags #illustratedfaith #biblejournaling #icolorinmybible. You will also find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest, searching for Bible Journaling. Some people draw, some letter, some do more of a scrapbook thing, some buy or download prints to trace or to paste into their Bible. Some people like to play around with multiple methods. You’ll find that some people are okay covering the Bible text, while others like to keep all the text readable. What you decide is really up to you. But make sure that whatever you choose, it is about you saturating yourself with the Word and not just about trying to make something cool.


 Not every journal entry I make turns out awesome. Sometimes my ink smudges. Sometimes I just don’t like the result all that much. But that is okay. The end results are what it is all about for me. The process is where it is at for me. Reading Scripture, finding a verse that speaks to me, taking that verse and carefully lettering it so it sinks in good and deep. That is what I am working toward. Interacting with God’s Word. The results are just pretty proof and a good reminder when I flip through my Bible.


 My journaling Bible is quite hefty. I chose the Crossway ESV Interleaved version. So every other page of my Bible is blank. That makes for a very thick book. For that reason, it pretty much stays at home. I have another Bible that I keep in my bag for church and reading while I am out. It sounds very first world to have multiple Bibles. And it took me a long time to allow myself permission for this little luxury. But I have now given myself permission, and I am glad that I did.


 I don’t necessarily journal every day. Right now, I am, because I am working through a #letteringhislove challenge on Instagram. These types of challenges help me shake things up. I do read the Bible daily, but I don’t always have the time to devote to making a journaling page. It is never quite when I do my Bible Journaling or my devotions, for that matter. Quite is not something I get in my house. I do get time to sit and work on it. I might be interrupted a few dozen times. Some people like to put on music. I grab a cup of coffee or a glass of tea and sit and enjoy God’s Word. Sometimes a kid will join me at the breakfast table and work on their own art. My tween likes to make pages to tape into her Bible. Music isn’t always possible because someone may be watching Teen Titans or Paw Patrol in the next room. That is okay for me.


 My favorite tool in Bible Journaling is my Tombow Calligraphy Pen. I find it does lettering so beautiful and deep black. I usually do a quick mock up on a piece of notebook paper, then use a pencil to lightly draw my basic lettering onto the page. I then go over the pencil with my Tombow Calligraphy pen. To keep my words straight, I put a sheet of lined notebook paper under my Bible page. It gives faint lines I can follow without me having to mark the page with lines that then have to be erased. It is also helpful when I am using things that might bleed through.



 I have tried the Tombow Dual Brush Pens. I thought I would love them. Turns out, I don’t. Maybe I would like some of the colors, but the black and gray that I have are just not all that impressive.


 Pigma Micron pens are also great for Bible Journaling. I find the thicker ones (05 and 08) are best for me. But the smaller ones are great for tiny details.


 Water brush pens and watercolors are also excellent art supplies to try. The water brush pens keep you from using a huge amount of water in your work, so it doesn’t wrinkle the page as much. I have also used regular brushes and watercolor, and have liked the experience despite the page wrinkle issues. Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay ink is my all time favorite art supply. Unfortunately, it isn’t really best with Bible Journaling, due to the thin pages. If you want to use something that isn’t great on thin paper, you can always use it on better art paper and then use double sided tape, washi tape, or even a glue stick to glue it in.


 I usually leave my Bible open to dry after I am done, but if I need to close it, I just stick another sheet of ruled paper on the top and close it. With very wet watercolors, this isn’t the best idea. But once everything is close to drying, or you used pens, it is fine.


 I also have a love for washi tape. I use it to decorate my Bible book headers. I also use it to add some accent to pages. I use stickers, as well. Decorative paper can also be fun to work with and add in. I like to tab my artwork pages. I have used a few different kinds of tabs, but the Recollections sticker tabs from Michael’s are my favorite tabs. They are a really good size and they stick well.



 Gel pens, colored pencils, acrylic paints, watercolor colored pencils, stamps, and stencils are all good tools to use for Bible journaling if you like them. You can also add decorative paper clips, bookmarks, really anything you like. I have seen some people Bible Journaling with just a pencil to sketch lovely drawings. Use the supplies you like. You can use the title page or table of contents page as a test page to see what your tools are going to actually do on the Bible style paper.


 If you’re not quite sure about going the Journaling Bible route, you can always just keep a notebook of your art. Bookmarks are another way to begin Bible Journaling without committing to writing or drawing directly in your Bible. Another method would be to use double sided tape to tape pages into your Bible. I did this for a few months before I decided to buy a Journaling Bible.



 If you are not really wanting to create the art yourself, you can buy a Coloring Bible or a Bible Coloring Book. There are also several people on Etsy that sell Bible Journaling templates you can use to trace or glue into your Journaling Bible. You can scrapbook your Bible, if that is more your thing. Really, anything that gets you into the word and interacting with it in new ways is going to be a good thing.


Here are some additional resources you may like:

The Joy of Lettering 

Creative Lettering and Beyond

Complete Guide To Bible Journaling 

 

 So, where do you start? Start with your favorite verse. Start with a Psalm or Proverb. Start with a Bible Story you can illustrate. Start wherever you are currently reading. Start with adding one entry to each book of the Bible. Just get started!


** This post contains affiliate links. ** 

My Experience With Trim Healthy Mama

I’m sure you’ve heard of Trim Healthy Mama. It seems everyone has. I had heard about it from friends for years before I decided to buy the books and give it a try. I researched it for quite a long time before committing. I’m not really one to try diets, despite needing to loose weight. I did the Whole 30 a couple years ago with huge success. But since living that way is almost impossible for an active family, I decided to give Trim Healthy Mama a try. Everyone said it was whole family cooking and it wouldn’t leave me in the kitchen all day long.

The good:

  • The meals were made for large families in mind. I didn’t have to double and triple recipes, which was refreshing. Most family meals feed 6-8. They do have lots of single serve recipes in the cookbook for things like breakfast and lunch, too.
  • I found some ridiculously yummy recipes that my kids love in the cookbook. Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce, Slim Sloppy Joes, Blackened Chicken with Mango and Black Beans, Lentil Soup, Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup, Tomato Chicken Bisque, Nacho Stuffed Peppers, Trim Healthy Pancakes. Amazing food. Really.
  • I found most of the sippers to be awesome and I love them! Good Girl Moonshine & Singing Canary are staying. Period.
  • The Pastor lost lots of weight in the first month.

The Eh:

  • I lost minimal weight. Very minimal. Likes, in 3 months maybe 8 lbs.
  • While it was a whole family plan, you have to tweak every single meal for every single person. This meant adding cheese to kid food but not adult food. Adding an extra side for kids. So while I was only cooking one “meal”, I was having to adjust at the table.
  • While they claim you don’t have to use specialty ingredients, I found that they were necessary if you don’t want to be completely frustrated. So, you’re buying special flours and weird stuff that are really hard to find and expensive.
  • They also claim you can do the plan without Stevia. After reading their stuff, I just started using the Stevia, even though I really didn’t want to. Cutting it out is a bigger deal than they make it.
  • You can have brownies! they say. Then you make the brownies exactly like the recipe and they are gross. The online community then tells you that your taste buds are just messed up from years of real sugar. You’ll adjust. But chocolate should never taste like chemicals. I don’t want to get used to that. So these beloved desserts are apparently all acquired tastes that will eventually be okay to you once you forget what real baked goods taste like.
  • Despite saying you can be a food purist to stick to the plan or a “drive through Sue”, I found that I was having to make a lot of concessions to food purity. I was eating things that didn’t seem normal for me to eat. So, I’m sure there was a way for me to not bend on my food standards, but they weren’t easy if they were available.
  • There are a lot of rules. It takes time to understand and properly implement the plan. While there is good support through their Facebook pages and such, you have to be careful what you say so you don’t offend the plan. (Really just never critique the plan. Just watch how much hate mail will come from this post. And not all of the groups will be like this. You’ll also find a lot of encouragement and a lot of help. Just don’t complain- they don’t like it.)

The Bad:

  • My milk supply tanked, despite doing crossovers as described for nursing moms.
  • My immune system plummeted. I had eczema and then Shingles. The nutrition just wasn’t there.
  • It was expensive. The specialty ingredients are very pricey. They say you don’t need them, but over half the recipes call for them. Want to price them yourself? Whey Protein, Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend, Stevia, Super Sweet, Gentle Sweet, MCT Oil, Gelatin, Collagen, Glucomannan, Not Naughty Noodles. Now, some of these things will last quite a while, like the Stevia and the Glucomannan. But some, like the baking blend and the super sweet will be monthly expenses at least.
  • I was eating more meat and less veggies than usual. While they say vegetarian and vegan options are available, I don’t really see how.

My Conclusions:

I have seen lots of people loose weight and have great health on this plan. I will still be using my cookbook, despite my not using the plan because some of the food is really yummy. But this plan is clearly not for me. I had so many health problems that started when I switched to this plan. I did not see results anything like I would have liked to see. And my family was just eating too many things I wasn’t really super comfortable with. So, I am going to take some of the recipes, but leave the plan. It just didn’t work for us. It certainly isn’t for everyone. It worked fine for my husband.

Do I recommend you try it? I don’t know. I don’t recommend you NOT try it. I’m just not a fan because it really wasn’t a fit for me and my family. I had really high hopes and it just did not deliver.

I also think I am somewhat biased in my attempts. I’ve never been a Stevia fan. In fact, I think I might actually be allergic. I’m not a fan of processed foods. I’m not a fan of casseroles or crock pots meals. It isn’t that I am picky. I’m just more of a whole food, clean food person. So telling me no potatoes and limit carrots isn’t ever going to sit well with me.

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Affirm Their Worth

So, what is this common courtesy business? Well, I consider it a spiritual discipline. In fact, this spiritual discipline is more difficult for me than prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, hospitality- anything else. When God first started working on my heart about common grace, you could feel my soul yelling, “Anything but this!” Seriously. Some people find this sort of thing easy. I do not. A punk rock teen grew up to be a punk in adult’s clothing. Polite is almost the opposite of my core. To me, polite felt like a lie. It felt wrong. Chit-chat seemed like wasted meaningless words. A waste of the limited time we are given! Oh how wrong I was. I mean, I thought I was right. My logic made sense. But God has a way of taking those things we hold as true and exposing them to light, and we see that we only saw a shadow of the issue at hand.

“Once we get over our egocentric arrogance about the fact that people don’t really want to know how we are when they say “How are you?” we can see that it is just an American way of acknowledging our presence. We can wave and acknowledge their presence too without feeling the need to give a prognosis on our latest headache.” – Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Did that hit you as it hit me? Honestly, that single concept took me years to master. Years. And I still think I struggle with it from time to time. My brutal and completely open honesty struggles with this concept.

“The specific acts will vary from culture to culture, but the purpose is always the same: to acknowledge others and affirm their worth.” -Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

You read that? Read it again. Let that sink in. Does my need for this ideal of brutal honesty mean more than the worth of the person in front of me? No. Does my internal punk screaming for truth matter more than this moment to affirm this person’s worth? No. In these seemingly small moments, we make people. We breathe into them that thing we find in our Great God- worth. We shine a light into their darkness and say, “Hey, you! You’re worth my time and my attention.”

Titus 3:2 (CEB) They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone.

pip handYears ago, the thought of someone touching my baby would have sent me into a tizzy. You’ve seen that Steve Harvey video? No, not the Miss Universe one, the one about the woman who didn’t want strangers touching her baby. (I linked that for ya, just in case you somehow haven’t seen it.) Well, that is the world’s wisdom. And years ago, I would have been the first person and the loudest person saying, “If you want to touch a baby, have your own baby!” But you know how God works in ways different than the world? And you know how God changes us sometimes, even those pieces we didn’t think needed to be changed? Well, that is what He did to me.

Not long ago, in a coffee shop, I had Pip all wrapped up snug. It wasn’t cold out, and his feet are so dang fat socks are just not an option unless he really might freeze without them. So, I am standing and waiting on my café au lait, and a woman approaches me. She says, “Oh! Those feet!” Now, the judgement police sirens are going off in my head. I am sure I am about to get a lecture about how he will certainly catch pneumonia and die in 70 degree weather. I smile and mention that his feet are too fat for socks. She says, “May I?” Nodding to his fat little foot poking out of the carrier. I say, “Sure.” The lady proceeds to just hold and rub Pip’s foot for a minute. She has this sad kind of smile while she does. Pip is just grinning at her, because that is what Pip does. She then says, “Thank you so much for sharing him with me today. You have no idea how much holding that fat foot meant to me.” And then she walks off.

Now, five years ago, I would have in no polite way told her that she may not touch his foot! I would have likely acted like I couldn’t hear her when she first spoke to me, since I assumed she was just being Judgy McJudgyPants. But God was working on me. And in this moment, I chose to just show simple kindness. We’re not talking about some incredible heroic act. I was simply kind and polite. I shared my baby’s foot with a stranger for a minute. I’ll never know what that woman was going through. And I will never know what that moment meant to her. But to me, it seems Pip and I were there as an act of grace to her that day. We simply acknowledged her, and somehow we brought a little light.

Common courtesy is a simple act of compassion. It is a small act of service. Are you like I was, unable to small talk because of your own ideals? Perhaps those assumptions of others are keeping you from the smallest kindness? Will you acknowledge others and affirm their worth? Will you pray for opportunities to practice small kindnesses to strangers?