Posted on Leave a comment

Learn Bible Marking | How to Mark Your Bible

Have you ever learned Bible marking? Do you know how to mark your Bible effectively? There is no exact science, nor are there explicit biblical commands to follow around this area of Bible study. But with a better understanding of how Bible marking can help us in our walks with Jesus, our personal time in the Word can be enriched both in the moment and for years to come!

This post contains affiliate links.

How I Got Into Bible Marking

As a young believer, I remember being excited to learn that my Bible wasn’t a book that I needed to keep in the most pristine condition. Instead, I could let it get worn from use—and even that I could mark it up! I got started with Bible marking by simply highlighting verses that stood out to me based on what I was going through at the time. But as the months and years passed, I—for the most part—stopped marking up my Bible. It was nice to look back on my highlights from months and years passed and remember how God was working during those times. But I started realizing that when I’d just highlight my favorite passages, the pages would get filled and not much would stand out to me anymore.

But about a year ago, when I was receiving some training through my church on how to lead a small group through the basics of Bible study, there was a chapter on Bible marking. We received a simple key on how to more strategically mark our Bibles. I immediately connected with this training. Unlike my old way of Bible marking, which would change with the seasons, this plan was evergreen. I could gain wisdom from the markings as I was writing them. And I could benefit from them when I looked back, no matter how much time had passed.

Getting Started Again

Needless to say, I was excited to get started with Bible marking again! I even asked for a new journaling Bible for my birthday so I could start fresh. (And add notes in the margins when I wanted to!) I had my eye on this one for years and my sweet hubby got it for me. What a special gift it was when I turned the big 3-0!

So I got my new Bible, but my one issue with the Bible marking key my church gave us was that it was color-coded. I’m a hand lettering artist, so you might be surprised that I’m a minimalist when it comes to pens! I wanted to recreate a key with a similar concept where I could use just one pen. So, I made up my own underlines and symbols to mark similar words and phrases. I wrote my special key on a notecard I kept in my Bible so that I could easily refer to it. As I learned and grew, I even added some of my own underlines and symbols to highlight other key words and phrases I was noticing were important.

As I engaged with God’s Word in this way, I began realizing how my time reading Scripture was deepened. And when I did it alongside the Bible study I was going through with my small group, I could more easily answer the questions, because Bible marking was helping me see key themes and how to apply the text to our lives.

My Bible Marking Essentials

So as Bible marking became more of a consistent part of my quiet time, I decided it would be fun to create a pretty bookmark to share my system with others so that you could benefit from it! Pictured below are my three Bible marking essentials: my ESV journaling Bible, my go-to pen, and of course, my bookmark key.

ESV Journaling Bible | Sakura Pigma Micron 005 Pen | Bible Marking Bookmark

ESV Journaling Bible

I love the ESV translation because it’s considered an “essentially literal” translation that’s still easy for today’s readers to understand. It prioritizes transparency to the form and structure of the original documents, which is also known as a word-for-word translation. The fact that this journaling Bible is pretty is just an added bonus! (You can learn more about Bible translations in this blog post.)

When I shared with a friend about my Bible marking endeavors, she loved the idea of starting with a new Bible. She, like me, wanted to give it a try but wasn’t ready to start marking up her favorite Bible. But as I mark up this new one, it is becoming my new favorite! If you’re wanting to start Bible marking, you don’t need a journaling Bible. You can use a regular Bible, a study Bible… but don’t let perfectionism be a hangup. Bible marking isn’t an exact science anyway! And if you feel comfortable, go right ahead and start marking up the Bible you’re currently reading from!


Like I mentioned above, I wanted to be able to do my Bible marking with just one pen. So it had to be the right one! Thankfully with my experience as a lettering artist, I’ve tried a lot of them! So I knew the Sakura Pigma Micron Pigment Fineliners were great. I chose the 005 weight so it wouldn’t muddy up the pages in my Bible or bleed through to the other side.


I had so much fun creating my Bible marking bookmark, which is now available in my shop (ships free)! It was a total upgrade from the notecard I initially wrote up for myself. And I even included a little sample passage as a helpful reference. Even if you use the exact same key, your markings will likely vary! As I did this sample passage with others in mind, I realized that there is a slight bit of variation that happens—even when I revisit a passage the next day—and that’s totally okay! All the more reason not to stress about perfection!

More About My Bible Marking Key

You might be wondering, why mark up these particular words and phrases? So, I’d love to briefly break down a few reasons why each prompt is important.

Names of God

God is at the center of the Bible—it’s His revelation to us! So it deeply benefits us to notice where He is mentioned. Circle Father, Son, Holy Spirit, God’s pronouns (He, His, Him), the Lord, etc. And get to know God by His names as He reveals Himself throughout Scripture.

Who God Is / What He Does

Similarly to how beneficial it is to take notice of God’s names and pronouns, it’s also important to notice His attributes, what He does, and what He promises. This shapes our most basic understanding of who God is.

Repeated Words & Phrases

Simply put, noting these can give us a better understanding of what the main point of a passage is or how God is calling us to apply a particular truth to our lives.

Sin, Warnings, Evil, Enemies

Have you ever looked at the mentions of these things in the Bible as an act of God’s mercy? He has so graciously warned us about various sins and how to recognize evil and enemies. He also uses these warnings to point us to Jesus and the gospel!

Application / What’s For Me?

I reference James 1:22 a lot, but it’s so important that we are doers of the Word and not hearers only. Sometimes the application of a passage is more implied or discerned, based on the context and content. But other times, the application is explicitly stated. It’s important as we read to ask God: How are you calling me to respond?

Similes & Metaphors

God often used similes and metaphors to make specific points in the Bible. Many of these examples refer to Christ. It’s also helpful to recognize similes and metaphors for accurate Bible interpretation and application. 

Pronouns Referring to Me / Psalmist

Recognizing pronouns like me, I, you, us, and we can better help us understand how a text applies to us.

Gospel Passage

Romans 1:16 states that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes! These passages are of the utmost importance. They minister to us personally, no matter where we’re at in our walk with Jesus, and they help us witness to others as we carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15).

But / For / Therefore

Transition words are often overlooked. But in the Bible, they can have great significance. Paying attention to transition words can help us better understand ourselves, the character and promises of God, and so much more!

Enjoy Your Time In God’s Word

Are you ready to start Bible marking? I hope that this post has ignited a similar excitement in you as learning this did for me! As you read, take your time, go at your own pace, don’t worry about perfection, and discover how marking your Bible will benefit your personal studies and grow you in your understanding of who God is, who you are, and how He is calling you to respond. Blessings!

Continue Reading

Posted on Leave a comment

My Redemptive Journey to Motherhood

In case you haven’t heard, I am pregnant! My husband Luke and I are expecting our first child mid-August and we are so excited to meet her! Before she is born, I wanted to share a bit about my redemptive journey to motherhood, because God truly deserves all of the glory for the joy I have over this precious gift.

A Full Transformation

In my early 20’s, I really wasn’t sure how I felt about the possibility of one day becoming a mom. A lot of my friends got married and started having babies pretty quickly after. I saw this natural longing in their hearts to be moms, but I really struggled to relate to that. I think somewhere in the back of my head motherhood was for “someday.” But I wasn’t sure how I would ever change. I was never at peace with my lack of desire and wrestled internally for a long time. So my husband and I prayed that if it was God’s will for us to have children, that He would give us both the desires of His heart (Psalm 37:4). We ultimately knew God’s will was best.

Looking back, I can now see that my primary hangup was fear. We all go through trials in our lives that shape our worldview—for better or for worse. And God had to expose my fears and wrong thinking to bring about a heart change within me. If I had to point to one thing that had the most impact on my heart transformation around motherhood, it would have to be biblical counseling. Biblical counseling is centered on the sufficiency of God’s Word to counsel us in the various issues in life we are confronted with. (You can learn more about biblical counseling here.) Luke and I went through biblical counseling with our pastor for completely unrelated reasons to our worries around parenting. But as we grew in our trust in God and His Word, other areas of our lives began to change. That included fears around starting a family. (Click here if you’re interested in a great biblical counseling podcast.)

Choosing to Believe God’s Word

Psalm 127:3-5 says that children are a heritage and reward from the Lord. To put it more simply, the word heritage is also translated as gift. And the original Hebrew of the word reward speaks to the benefit of having children. A good friend pointed out this verse as she was wrestling with her own struggles as a young mom. Through this passage, God opened our eyes to the countercultural nature of the biblical view of children. For a long time, without realizing it, I had been so influenced by what the world preaches to us about children. The culture teaches that your life is basically over when you become a parent. You need to establish your life. You need to accomplish all your goals and travel before you have kids because they drain your time and finances… What a depressing view of children!

In contrast, God speaks highly of children in the Bible. As I mentioned above, He describes them as a gift, benefit, and blessing in Psalm 127:3-5. He speaks about the tender, loving care He has for every child even before they are fully formed in the womb in Psalm 139:13-16. Jesus spoke highly of children in Matthew 18:3 when He said we must become like children to receive eternal life. He welcomed them and was not too busy for them (Matthew 19:13-14). Those are just a small handful of biblical examples of how God views children. And yet, so many of the cultural lies are exposed through them. So as I chose to believe what God says about children and rejected what the world focuses on, God transformed my heart just as Luke and I had prayed. Our God is so faithful!


God’s greatest redemptive story is the gospel. Out of His great love for us, Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead to save all who repent and believe in Him (John 3:16, Mark 1:15). By grace, through faith, we are given eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9). God has given me the greatest gift, benefit, and blessing through Christ. Even still, He uses our unique circumstances to reveal the power of the gospel in our lives. I praise God for how He has orchestrated my redemptive journey to motherhood. He has shown me His abundant mercy and joy through this experience. And God continues to humble me by exposing my fears for what they are and lovingly drawing me back to Himself and the truth of His Word. 

A Word of Encouragement to The Woman Wrestling With Becoming a Mom

I have learned throughout the years that every woman has her own fears, struggles, and feelings toward motherhood. I know it’s such a tender topic that can well up both joy and grief. My heart rejoices with moms raising children and it aches for the woman who longs to be a mom and is waiting. But given my story, I want to encourage the woman wrestling with becoming a mom. If you relate to my story at all, first I want to say, you’re not alone. I remember feeling so lonely and misunderstood in my early 20’s. And it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I met moms who had similar stories. My best advice is to get connected with women in your church. Serve, join a small group and Bible study, hear the stories and wisdom of others. If there is a pastor or leader at your church you trust, reach out to talk through your personal struggles. And most importantly, I encourage you to bring your concerns and fears to the Lord in His Word and prayer. Trust that He knows what’s best for you and surrender to His will. He loves you and cares for you.

If you are looking for a great resource to help you work through anxiety and fear, check out my Bible study Strength in the Struggle. Whether you’re struggling with fears around motherhood or something else, this grace-filled study will equip you to find freedom and overcome life’s ongoing battles with fear and anxiety.

Continue Reading

Posted on Leave a comment

Staying Spiritually Hydrated

I hope your summer is off to a good start! Mine has been filled with finishing up work projects before our baby is born in August and getting house projects completed as well. Summer is always a season of being outside of my routine, but this year that’s been especially true. And truthfully, it’s been challenging to stay consistently in the Word and prayer with God.

I think it’s pretty common for most of us to feel that challenge. Many churches have different summer programming, college women are away from student ministry groups, moms have kids home from school, many of us have more weekend or vacation plans… Whatever season of life you’re in, our normal rhythm of life typically changes in these warmer months. That can tempt us to pull away from God and leave us spiritually dry. So, I just wanted to take a moment to talk about how we can avoid spiritual “dehydration” this summer!

This post contains affiliate links.

If Anyone Thirsts

First, something I’m learning is that it’s okay for our quiet times to look different when our schedules are different. There is a difference between me not making Jesus a daily priority vs. seeking Him, but needing to rest in His grace as I navigate a less consistent schedule. For example, there is a difference between literally not drinking water—whether by choice or just plain old forgetfulness—and keeping my water bottle with me, but realizing that not all circumstances allow for me to take a drink.

Jesus says in John 7:37 that, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Similarly to how we need to stay physically hydrated, we also need to remain spiritually hydrated. So, let’s start by asking ourselves these questions:

Am I currently being a good steward of my time?

In what ways can I prioritize Jesus and remain spiritually hydrated this summer?

Do I need to surrender my idea of a perfect quiet time routine and rest in God’s grace for this season? What might that look like in my life?

I encourage you to take some time to reflect on those questions with God. Ask Him to show you where He wants to grow you—especially if you’re unsure. As you pray, here are some ideas of how we can stay spiritually hydrated this summer:

How We Can Stay Spiritually Hydrated This Summer

Be In the Word Daily

What this can look like: Commit to reading a book of the Bible over the course of the summer, take the time to do a Bible study, commit to memorizing some of your favorite Bible passages, start Bible markingpray the Word, etc. (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12)

Be In Prayer Daily

What this can look like: Keep a prayer journal, go on prayer walks, pray Scripture, find a quiet place you can talk out loud to God (Sitting alone in my parked car is one of my favorite spots for this), pray with your spouse, kids, roommate, etc., and pray throughout the day while doing things. Continually praying silently to God as we go about our days is important (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Romans 12:12), but we also must remember that even Jesus Himself would often slip away to a solitary place to pray. (Luke 5:16)

Stay/Get Involved Within a Church

This can be a challenge, especially if you travel a lot in the summer, but it’s so important! Try not to rely too heavily on church services online. This is helpful to receive teaching when we’re away, but we miss out on worshipping and serving in community! (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I hope this list equips you for a summer of staying spiritually hydrated! I shared quite a few ideas, but to simplify even further, I’ll ask one last question:

How will you seek Jesus this summer in the Word, prayer, and within your local church?

Continue Reading

Posted on Leave a comment

Biblical Card & Letter Writing Inspiration

Writing cards and letters is increasingly becoming a lost art. It can be so much easier to send a quick text or email. And truthfully, I struggle spending more than five dollars on a card—and most greeting cards are averaging higher than that these days! But, you can’t put a price tag on a thoughtful handwritten card or letter from someone you love. There are so many cards and letters I have saved over the years and look back on with so much gratitude. So in today’s post, I’d love to offer you some biblical card and letter writing inspiration.

A Biblical Look At Letter Writing

Another reason I struggle buying store-bought cards with pre-written messages is that many of them aren’t biblical. I love a humorous birthday card, but many are just plain mean! (Who is buying these??) I’ve found that oftentimes “get well” and sympathy cards give recipients false hope and offer promises we don’t know will truly come to pass. I’ve realized that I spend so much time in the card aisle looking for just the right one, that I could just get some blank cards and spend my time writing a personalized card. This can be overwhelming—especially on occasions on which I just don’t feel like I have the words. However, we can learn a lot from the structure of New Testament letters and apply that to our own card and letter writing for an easy roadmap to help us write.

Many of the New Testament books are letters and these letters (also called epistles) follow a general format:

  • Greeting
  • Prayer
  • Thanksgiving
  • Body
  • Closing Greeting

If we take a close look at the epistles, we’ll notice structural differences between many of the letters. For instance, the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians is much different than his letter to the Philippians. If we read a bit of commentary in our study Bibles about the audience and reasons the New Testament authors wrote each letter, we’ll find that the structure of letters changed based on things like the occasion or urgency of the message. Thinking about our own reasons for writing cards, we can relate to how the content in our own letters and cards changes from birthday to loss, wedding to retirement, “get well” to new baby, and so on. But having this general structure in mind can be so helpful to us as we consider what to write to our loved ones.

Biblical Card and Letter Writing Inspiration for You

So, let’s break down how we can apply this biblical letter writing structure to our own cards:

Get a Card

Biblical epistles were carefully written on scrolls. Today, a simple piece of lined paper works just fine. But, you can make your letter extra special by writing it on a card. I have a collection of beautiful, biblical cards in my shop that you can purchase individually or save when you buy four or more through my Greeting Card Pack listing. (Bonus: they ship free and you can mix and match the cards in your pack!) I created each card with multiple uses in mind. So, whether you are writing to a loved one about a birthday, wedding, loss, encouragement, new baby, thank you, or whatever circumstance, you are sure to find something that will fit the given occasion. (View each individual listing for my recommendations.)


During biblical times, it was common to open with who the letter was from. This makes sense, considering how long the letters were. Readers needed to know who was writing to them from the beginning. But, we generally aren’t writing letters that are the length of a book of the Bible! For a brief note in a card or even a single-page letter, starting with something like “Dear, [Recipient]” and signing our name at the end is just fine. If you are hoping for a response, following with a question like “How are you doing?” can make a great greeting.

A Word of Gratitude & Prayer

Regardless of the occasion, it is always sweet to open with a word of gratitude and how you have been praying for the recipient. If you haven’t been praying for that person, share how you will be praying for him or her in the future. It may feel most natural to open with the prayer piece and follow with gratitude—or, save the prayer for the end! Many of the epistles close with a prayer too. The point is, wherever you place these elements in your letter, know they will likely be extremely encouraging to the reader!


If you have something specific you want to say, the body of your letter is where that will happen. For longer letters, you may have a lot to write and several topics to cover. But, for shorter cards, this might just be a sentence or two. If you are writing a card for a specific occasion and aren’t quite sure what to say, but you want it to come from the heart, an additional word of encouragement, a Bible verse, or simple Scripture reference are all great options to add to the body of your letter.


If you are hoping for a response, closing with some questions for the recipient is a great way to close. If not, either way, a word of blessing and encouragement, an “I love you,” or a reminder of how you’ll be praying for the recipient are all thoughtful closing remarks. And of course, don’t forget to sign your name clearly!

Letter Samples

Need some additional help improving your letter writing skills? I’ve got you covered! Below are three examples of how I personally apply this biblical format to letters. And hopefully you’ll see how each of the elements we unpacked above work for any occasion.

Birthday Sample

Happy Birthday, Kyla!

What a joy it is to celebrate you today! I am so grateful God brought you into this world, because you have been such a light in my life. You point me to Christ, you pray for me, you make me laugh when I need it most, and even the way you love on my cat is just the absolute sweetest. You are truly a one-of-a-kind friend! I hope you have the best birthday and I pray that God will bless you with many, many more years to come! (Numbers 6:24-26) Have a fantastic day! <3

Hugs, Lauren

Thinking of You / Encouragement Sample

Hello, sweet Anika!

How have you been? I know I haven’t seen you in a bit, but I am so grateful God gave me you for a friend! I have been praying for you as school wraps up—how are things going? Last time you wrote, you said you were pretty swamped and overwhelmed. So, I just wanted to remind you that Jesus promises to strengthen you and use your weakness to display His power and glory (Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9). I know you know this, but sometimes we just need a reminder to keep turning to Him! He will enable you to finish strong! Love you oodles and bunches and I’m excited to hang when you’re on break!

Hugs, Lauren

Sympathy Sample

Dear Jenna,

How are you doing? I have been praying for you as you and your family grieve and process this loss. I know that nothing I say can heal this deep wound, but I praise God that He promises to heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). He is acquainted with our grief (Isaiah 53:3), He is near (Psalm 34:18), and He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). I pray you will know and feel the Lord’s compassion for you at this time and that you’d experience His peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Feel free to reach out if you need anything—I can bring a meal, be a listening ear, babysit the kids so you can get away for a bit… whatever you need, I’m here. And no matter what, know that I’ll be praying. Love you, sweet friend.

Hugs, Lauren

Start Writing!

I hope this post about biblical card and letter writing inspiration has been a gift and tool you can use! It’s my hope that you’ll now feel more equipped to write a card or letter from the heart—one that your recipient will cherish for years to come.

It can be super helpful to have extra cards on hand for when the unexpected happens or that celebration on the calendar creeps up on you faster than you expected! So again, I invite you to check out my collection of greeting cards in my shop. Order individually or save when you order four or more through the Greeting Card Pack listing (all greeting cards ship free!). Words are a sweet gift, but if you want to add a little something extra, I have lots of stickers and bookmarks that fit neatly in an envelope. Or get a little fancier with a foiled Bible verse print, enamel pin, or something else. Happy writing!

Continue Reading

Posted on 2 Comments

Personal Update: Baby, Book, Blog

Hello, friends! The year got off to a busy start! If you are a subscriber, you know I haven’t disappeared. But if you only follow me here on my website, you may be wondering where I’ve been. So, I’m back here with a personal update—for the first time in 2023!


I announced it to my subscribers and on social media, but in case you missed it… I’m pregnant! About a month ago, my husband and I found out we’re having a girl and we could not be more thrilled! I come from a family of girls and we love our little niece, so having a girl suits us! I am grateful to God every day that it has been a smooth pregnancy so far. I’ve felt great, God’s kept me healthy, and I’m thankful for such a flexible work schedule that allows me to rest when I need it. I have so much more respect for all the working mamas and the mamas who have been through this multiple times. 

I am due mid-August. So, we’ve slowly been preparing for our girl. It feels great to check some of the big things off the to-get and to-do lists! However, work has been busy, so it’s been a bit challenging at times to get more done around the house. We moved last July and still have lots of painting and a few smaller projects we’d like to get done before our daughter is born. But, we’re prioritizing and trusting in God’s timing. Thankfully, we have family close by who are willing to help out!


Part of the reason work has been crazy is because I’m trying to take on some more projects now so I can take a long maternity leave at the end of the summer. But, the main reason you haven’t heard from me in awhile is because I’ve been working on my next book! My team and I are practically done with it. I finished writing and I’m just finishing artwork, edits, and layout with my editor and designer.

I can’t share too many details just yet. But, I will say that God showed up in such unexpected and exciting ways throughout this process. He always does, but there is just something about the way He wove all the content together so beautifully this time that leaves me in greater awe of Him. The Lord worked through my weakness, led me to deeper dependence on Him, and worked powerfully in and through me. He truly gets all the glory! Stay tuned for more on the new book in the coming months!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. —2 Corinthians 12:9


I have so missed blogging and hope to get back to it some more now that I’m wrapping up my next book. I’ve had some ideas circulating in my head, but neither the time nor mental energy to invest in them. Hopefully, that will change a bit in the coming weeks! I’m not sure what my life will look like come August and September when I’m in full-blown mom mode, so I want to be present here while I know I can be. We’ll see what I’m able to post here with my few months left before that happens. Again, stay tuned!

Closing Encouragement

I hope your year has been off to a good start. After spending an evening with some in my church community recently, I was reminded that God is good and life is full of a whole lot of sweetness, but we all are facing unique challenges too. I just wanted to close today’s post to remind you that you’re not alone—that Jesus died and rose from the dead to save sinners. When we repent, believe, and receive the good news of the gospel, we are united with Christ and He unites us with His people.

I know many of you attend church, but are you involved? Are you engaged in a group Bible study? Serving in any capacity? Really plugged in and sharing life with your brothers and sisters in Christ? God has given us the gift of the church for many reasons—one of them being to pray through and support one another through trials… and celebrate with you when good things happen too! It’s been sweet to share with my church community the joys of becoming a mom as well as the things that have been heavy on my heart.

So, I wanted to pass this encouragement onto you. It takes time to build relationships. But God created us for a relationship with Him and with one another (Genesis 1:27, Gen. 2:18-24; Matthew 22:37-40). When we respond to this call on our lives, we are sure to be blessed in beautiful ways by our God who works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Keep Reading


Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Posted on 2 Comments

Finding Strength in the Struggle

Have you felt the weight of anxiety or fear over the past year? How about the past five minutes? Something I started noticing about my subscribers and readers is that so many of you are especially tuned in when I write on the topic of anxiety. First of all, if this is an ongoing struggle for you, I just want to say I’m so sorry. I don’t know your personal struggles, but I know from wrestling with my own that this is not an easy burden or battle. My heart’s desire is to come alongside you and strengthen this community of women in God’s Word. Jesus is attuned to our bent towards anxiety and fear. He has compassion for us and speaks truth into these struggles throughout Scripture. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce the release of my brand new book—and first Bible study! Strength in the Struggle is a study and workbook for women on letting go of fear and anxiety.

This post contains affiliate links.

How God used this study in my own life

Early last year, my publisher, Paper Peony Press, expressed a desire for me to write a Bible study. I was totally open to the idea—excited, in fact! But, as the conversations continued and we landed on the idea of a Bible study about anxiety and fear, I began questioning whether I was truly called and equipped for this. It all likely started as good questions to pray and process through with God. But, the enemy took hold of my questions and used them to well up fears and anxiousness of my own.

No stranger

In the intro of Strength in the Struggle, I wrote about how I have experienced anxiety and fear in a variety of ways throughout my life. So, I won’t get into that now. But to put it simply, I am no stranger to these struggles. When this book was still just an idea floating out there, I felt like I would be writing this from the perspective of what I’ve learned in the past and how I’ve experienced victory in this area of my life. Little did I know, I’d be in the thick of my own new battle against anxiety. As I wrote this book, I feared: 

“Who am I to write a study about this?” 

“Aren’t there people way more qualified than me to teach God’s Word?”

“Is God really calling me to this or am I mistaken?”

And worst of all…

“What if I interpret His Word wrongly and lead others astray?”

As I’ve prayed, studied, and processed this with godly friends and family members, I now realize the enemy was using those questions to well up a whole bunch of fear and anxiety in me. When I finally started writing, I was in the thick of my own battle. It was humbling to write from that place, but I know God used it for His glory so that I could not only offer this study to help you overcome your own fears and anxieties, but so that I could re-learn to battle my own.

Standing in awe

Strength in the Struggle includes ten lessons that focus on a key verse or short passage of Scripture. I was familiar with many of these passages, but I hadn’t studied them in depth. As I began the process of understanding each verse within its historical and biblical context, I was in awe of how much more there was to each passage than I initially thought. For instance, I had never understood Proverbs 3:5-6 in light of the gospel and it completely rocked my world. 

I was also in awe of how many weeks God had me in the lesson that I needed most as I battled my own insecurities. It’s been several months since I finished writing and I am still in awe of Him—Who He is, what He promises, the gospel of grace, and how He lovingly spoke into my own fears and anxieties while simultaneously giving me the opportunity to share what I learned with you. What a gracious and merciful God we have!

My hope for you

I am far from perfect, I have struggles of my own, and I’m not a certified psychologist. So, the enemy used these realities to whisper lies and doubts about my authority to speak into the topic of fear and anxiety in such a bold way. But, I know my God—He is all-wise, all-knowing, and His Word is sufficient to teach us how to walk in godliness (2 Timothy 3:16). 

I did not write this Bible study based on my own perceived authority or opinions. God simply used me to highlight what He has already clearly spoken to us through Scripture. The desire of my heart is for you to trust His authority as He speaks through His Word into this deeply personal area of your life. And, that you would discover how the hope of the gospel impacts our daily struggles.

I pray that all who humbly approach Him in this study will experience His wise counsel that gives us strength in our struggles, peace as we persevere, and victory in our battles against anxiety and fear.

So, let’s dive into God’s Word to learn what He says about anxiety and fear and how He can transform us as we apply it to our lives. Each of the ten lessons follow a very simple format, while still going deep so that many can follow it. Whether it’s your first or hundredth Bible study, I invite you to pick up your Bible and this book and discover the immeasurable amounts of grace God has for those who struggle with anxiety and fear and the strength He offers us to effectively battle against it.

Click here to Order Strength in the Struggle on Amazon today!

Related Posts

Related Products

Posted on Leave a comment

Preparing for Christmas (Free Printable Included!)

Preview Preparing for Christmas here—read the full blog post and download the freebie by clicking the button below.

Earlier this year, I approached my husband in our tiny apartment kitchen and semi-jokingly asked, “Can I share a deep secret of my heart?” And I proceeded to tell him, “I think about my Christmas decorations almost everyday.” He laughed and said, “Seriously?” I have this weird sense of humor where I occasionally like making him think we’re about to have a serious moment, and then I just say inconsequential things. But, there was some truth to this comment! There is something in my heart that longs for Christmas and the visual reminders that signify we are in a special season.

Click the button below to continue reading at

Advent Bookmark

If you would like a physical bookmark with my Advent Reading Plan, it’s available for purchase in my shop.


  • Includes one double-sided, 2×6″ ivory and dark green bookmark
  • Printed on 150# card stock with a coated matte finish
  • Numbers correspond with each day of December leading up to Christmas
  • The bookmark takes readers through three key topics: the gospel, fulfilled prophecies about Christ’s birth, and the Christmas story
  • Passages are short, so you never have to skip a day due to lack of time
  • Questions for journaling are included for those who want to spend more time reflecting
  • Domestic bookmark orders ship FREE

Paper Peony Press and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We hope you make many sweet memories and find joy in the Christmas preparations and festivities. But most importantly, we hope you find Jesus and delight in His Word as you seek Him during this beautiful season.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Biblical Meaning of Thanksgiving

I’m thankful. I’m guessing we’ve all said these words at some point or another. We typically know what we’re thankful for, but do we always know to whom we are thankful?

Practicing thankfulness as a child

I grew up with parents who taught me from a very young age the tedious task of writing thank you notes for every Christmas and birthday gift. Looking back, that’s a good example of not only acknowledging what we’re thankful for, but to whom we’re thankful.

But perhaps there are things in life that we’re typically just thankful for. Meaning, they aren’t a tangible gift we can hold or seemingly attached to any person. 

Keeping the childhood examples going, I think of the gratitude journal my parents had me keep as a young girl. I went through a long, pessimistic phase so my parents started helping me keep a journal where I’d write three things a day I was thankful for. I still have my first and most memorable journal, where—I kid you not—one day I scribbled, “I got to water my plant today.” 😂 Too funny! But I do remember that little plant. I grew it from seeds and the leaves would fold shut when I touched them. It really was something I treasured.

But anyway, my point is that as a little girl writing in my gratitude journal and even as I grew up, I learned to be thankful for things like my family, my friends, the ability to walk, talk, and breathe, and even the simple joys in life. But, it took me a lot longer to learn that there is always a Giver and it is to Him we owe each and every expression of gratitude and word of thanks.

The biblical meaning of thanksgiving

According to Strong’s definitions, the Hebrew word thanksgiving is tôwdâh (to-daw’) and it means confession, praise, and offering. When we give thanks in the truest sense of the biblical word, we offer God our praises and acknowledge to Him that He is the Giver of all good gifts.

Of course, the greatest gift from God is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Even if everything else is going wrong in our lives, we always have the good news of the gospel to give thanks for. We can always praise God for creating and loving us unworthy sinners. We can always praise Him for Jesus’s death and resurrection that paid the price for sin that no good works or intentions could ever pay. When we confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior, we can praise Him for the eternal life He has given us and that life with Him lasts forever.

The gospel is our everlasting reason to give thanks. But of course, because God is always good, we can always find more in our lives to be grateful to Him for. This may take some serious digging in darker seasons of trials and suffering. But because God is always with the ones He redeems through faith, we can trust He is doing good in our lives in big, small, and often unexpected ways.

Giving thanks to God

So what does it look like to give thanks to God? As I mentioned above, thanksgiving is an offering of confession and praise. So, what first comes to mind is prayer and worship. We can express our gratitude to Him with words privately or corporately. But, it’s easy to forget that obedience is a form of praise and another important way we express our love and gratitude for God and all He has done for us.

My pastor gave an analogy in reference to loving God that also applies to giving thanks through obedience: Imagine you have a child or teenager who says, “Mom, I love you and I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me. You’ve been so good to me. But, I’m not going to listen to what you say.” Would that make you feel loved or appreciated? Obedience is a response to salvation led by the Holy Spirit. It’s not a work that contributes to our salvation. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone! I’m learning in this season that obedience is an act of praise and thanksgiving.

He is worthy

So to conclude, as you and your families gather around the table this Thanksgiving, take a moment to pause. Remember who we offer our deepest thanks to and why. He is worthy of our praise and offerings of thanks because every good and perfect gift comes from Him and He works all things together for good for those who love Him (James 1:17, Romans 8:28).

Are you interested in taking steps to grow in your faith? Become a subscriber and I’ll send you tons of free resources to help you grow in your walk with the Lord. I would love to connect with you!


Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Posted on 1 Comment

Anxious to Abiding

Hello, friends! Lauren Ibach here with my first ever guest blogger! In this post, you’ll get to hear my friend Lauren Wallace’s testimony. Lauren Wallace is a faithful sister in Christ and she runs a small online shop called MOSS Collaborative. We met through Instagram and since she’s local, we met up and became good friends. I’m hoping her story about going from anxious to abiding in Christ will be an encouragement to you today.

Anxious to Abiding: Lauren Wallace’s Testimony

My faith wasn’t part of my life until I was 20 years old. I didn’t grow up in the church and quite frankly, I didn’t think I’d ever pursue a relationship with God. It was the anxiousness I experienced in my early college years that pushed me to open the Bible. However, the largest turning point in my faith wasn’t until about a year later when I stopped making my time with God all about me. That’s when I finally went from being anxious to abiding in Christ.

When I started out, I was reading the Bible to see how it fit into my life and could make my worries go away. Does God call us to cast our anxieties on Him? Yes, 1 Peter 5:7 tells us He does. However, we need to humble ourselves before Him and pursue a relationship with Him first. That’s not what I was doing. I was too consumed with a desire for control and just wanted the chaos to go away. 

Lauren Wallace of Moss Collaborative

Figuring things out the hard way

I say “chaos”, but it’s not like there was anything crazy going on at the time. I actually really liked the way my life was going. It was the unknowns of the future I was afraid of. I was living based on my feelings, which often led to overthinking and anxiousness in my gut. Control was something I desired deep down, so I subconsciously tried predicting the possible negative outcomes. I thought if I figured out the storyline in advance, I could stop bad things from happening and avoid being blindsided or naive. When it came to my time in the Word, I was searching for answers I wanted to hear while clinging to my own plan. I approached God as if I had the best idea of what my life should look like and was just waiting for Him to agree.

As you may have guessed, that plan wasn’t working. My anxiousness worsened and filtered into OCD, which included intrusive thoughts and avoidance. To combat that, I tried deep breathing exercises, daily affirmations, slow stretching, and other various remedies. I desperately wanted to solve my own problems because that meant I was in control, but any fleeting sense of calm would soon wash away and anxiousness would return. Those quick fixes were only temporary bandaids on (what I didn’t know was) a Jesus-shaped hole in my life. I didn’t want to depend on anyone else, but I was tired and defeated. It turns out there is nothing that will satisfy us or bring us true peace like a relationship with Jesus, and I was figuring that out the hard way.

The turning point

At that time, I was following Lauren Ibach on Instagram. I saw one of her stickers, which read, “Trust your gut God”. That struck me. We’re often told to trust our gut, and I think we generally like how that sounds. It gives us a sense of independence, control, and being in tune with ourselves. In reality though, my gut was where my anxiousness was sitting. I felt like it was lying to me and even tormenting me, so trusting in that wasn’t going to work.

To go from anxious to abiding in Christ and to experience the true peace I was longing for, I needed to trust Him—not my gut. I reached the end of myself and realized I couldn’t be the most qualified person to come up with a plan for my life. Thankfully, Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It was so freeing to realize I didn’t have to predict and prepare for an endless amount of doomsday scenarios. I could simply place my faith in Jesus Christ, abide in Him, and trust in this promise.

Looking to God

Once I took my eyes off my own circumstances and looked to God in awe, I was filled with wonder and curiosity. Who is He? How does He interact with us? What is His desire for His creation? By the power of the Holy Spirit, I realized my time with God was not all about me. Rather than searching for the answers I wanted to hear, I was hungry for truth.

Quiet Time

From that point on, I’d have quiet time pretty much every day. I wanted a relationship with Him and I was finally reading the Word to learn more about who He is. It’s important to note what an absolute gift it is to be able to have a personal relationship with God. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. The only reason we can even approach God is because Jesus died for our sins and makes us new again.

During quiet time, I’d often read a Scripture-based devotional, write in my prayer journal, or even watch Bible story videos geared towards children just to process everything on a basic level. Day by day, my relationship with Him grew and I went from being anxious to abiding in Christ. I experienced true peace for the first time. It was such a relief to find out I could be at peace even with a battle going on in my mind. It sounds like an oxymoron, but peace isn’t based on our circumstance, it comes from the Lord. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The transformation

 By God’s grace, through the transformative nature of His Word and prayerfully going through therapy, I did overcome OCD and anxiety. Reflecting on His faithfulness as He brought me to the other side of this struggle fills me with deep gratitude. Now, why would God allow this season of suffering in my life in the first place? Sometimes, we don’t know why. We can just trust He works all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

In this case, though, I believe He has made the reasons pretty clear. I was living based on my feelings and grasping for control in a world full of unknowns, which will never lead to peace for very long. I needed a breaking point. It’s tough to reflect on this time where I was so selfishly approaching God, but isn’t it amazing to see His patience and grace through it all? He was still able to use my time in the Word and soften my heart enough to fully trust in Him, let go of control, and realize where true peace and contentment comes from. From there, He developed the spiritual discipline of quiet time in me which has become such a sweet, extremely important piece of my relationship with Him.

Anxious to abiding

This fall, I hope we’ll all grow in our understanding of what it means to abide in the Lord and live that out. I love that this is Lauren’s focus for the season. Ultimately, life is full of unknowns and there are plenty of reasons to be anxious if we base things on our feelings or circumstances. However, God has a better plan for us. I invite you to focus on abiding in Christ by reading the Word consistently to learn more about Him. When we learn more about our good and sovereign Heavenly Father, we’re humbled and our trust in Him is strengthened. He delivers us from our fears and takes us from anxious to abiding in Him— where we experience the true peace and contentment that comes from Christ alone.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my dear friend Lauren Wallace’s testimony. Please show her some love by visiting her online shop, MOSS Collaborative and by giving her a follow on Instagram. She is an inspiring young believer and I praise God for the many ways I’ve gotten to witness how she is growing in her love for Jesus and living according to His Word. 🖤

About the Author of this Post

Lauren Wallace is a young believer who came to Christ in college. After graduating from UMN Crookston in December 2021, she started her job as a marketing coordinator. She lives in Minnesota and enjoys visiting local coffee shops, paddle boarding, kayaking, going for walks, playing volleyball, and board games. She loves being creative and designs fun vinyl stickers and greeting cards for her Etsy shop, MOSS Collaborative.


Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Posted on Leave a comment

What Does It Mean to Abide in Christ?

Does the idea of abiding in Christ seem like an abstract or elusive concept to you? Are you overwhelmed by the weight of good works in your Christian walk? I shared a bit about some of these struggles in my own life with my email subscribers and that my focus in this season is simply to abide in Jesus. So I began to wonder, what does it really mean to abide in Christ? What should that look like in our daily lives? In this post, we will dive into John 15:1-11 and explore the answer to this question.



Just before this passage, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and exposed Judas as the one who would betray Him. This ultimately led to Christ’s crucifixion (John 13). After that, Jesus went on to affirm that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And, He promised the Holy Spirit would be the disciples’ Helper (John 14). Jesus knew that He would soon face crucifixion. And, our passage includes some of the last words He spoke to His disciples before that took place. In John 15:1-11, Jesus is speaking to His disciples (minus Judas)—preparing them for the trials and sorrow ahead. With that in mind, let’s read our passage.

John 15:1-11 ESV

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” — John 15:1-11 ESV (divided in two paragraphs for easier reading)

Digging Deeper

The Word “Abide”

Given that Jesus’s primary command in this passage is “abide in me” it’s important that we understand the meaning of the word abide. The original Greek word is menō (pronounced men’-o), which simply means to remain. But, it can be used in several contexts, which adds depth to the meaning of the word. Some of the more nuanced definitions are: to be held or kept continually, not to perish, to last, endure, live, and to remain as one.1

The Meaning of This Passage

In this passage, Jesus is telling His disciples to remain in Him. Ultimately, explaining the nature of genuine salvation by using a word picture.2 He explains that He is the Vine. God the Father is the Vinedresser (or Farmer) and there are two types of disciples who are the branches. The first kind of branch (or disciple) is like Judas—one that does not bear fruit and is cut off from the Vine and thrown into the fire (hell). The second kind of branch is one that’s firmly attached to the Vine. It’s nourished by the Vine, bearing fruit. And, the Vinedresser prunes it so that it can bear more fruit.

To be clear, Jesus is not implying that someone can lose their salvation. There are many verses throughout Scripture that confirm once a person is born again, they are saved once and for all. There are no “take backs” when God gives the gift of salvation. Instead, Jesus is explaining that “disciples” like Judas who ultimately reject Him were never true disciples in the first place. Those who are truly saved bear fruit. 

But, it’s not up to us to produce our own fruit. We must be attached to the Vine for life and pruned by the Vinedresser. As I reflect on this, I am looking at the maple tree growing outside my window. It doesn’t bear fruit, but if I were to cut off a branch, the leaves would wilt and the branch itself would get brittle and die. A branch cannot hope to survive, or turn vibrant red in the fall, or grow leaves again in the spring without the life of the tree. We need to have a similar mindset about life and works.

What fruit looks like

If bearing fruit in the Christian life is as important as Jesus says it is, we must understand what fruit looks like. Thankfully, God explains this to us through the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” All other good works flow from this fruit.

The world today is filled with messages to love your neighbor, be kind, and do good. But if these are fruits of the Spirit, can they truly be accomplished apart from Christ as many attempt to do? A branch cannot will itself to bear fruit. Only the Vine and the Vinedresser have any real control over whether or not a branch bears fruit.

So how do we abide in Christ? Thankfully, Jesus makes this clear to us if we listen carefully.


Abiding in Christ means having faith in Him alone.

Again, the primary message Jesus is communicating is that salvation is found in Him alone. To abide in Him is to repent and believe in the gospel. The gospel is the good news that while we were guilty and dead in our sins, God the Father lovingly sent His Son to die on a cross and rise from the dead for the forgiveness of sin so that we could be declared righteous in God’s sight, receive the gift of eternal life, and not fear judgment and wrath on the day Christ returns. (Mark 1:15, Romans 5:6-11) (Read this post for more details on the gospel.)

Jesus forgives us out of His abundant grace when we put our faith in Him. Faith isn’t an abstract concept. Jesus is very clear throughout Scripture that to believe in Him is to trust in Him alone as God, Savior, and Lord of our lives. It also means we repent, which is to confess our sins, turn from them and towards Christ. It’s to surrender to His will for our lives. I’ve heard it said that faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. (To learn more, read this post.)

Important questions

Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life? If so, what fruit has receiving the gift of salvation produced in your life? If you’re struggling to see fruit in your life, why might that be? I encourage you to prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal the fruit in your life if there is fruit. And if there’s not, ask Him to show you why that is. If you have not yet put your faith in Christ, will you do so today? All God requires is repentant faith. He wants a relationship with you and you can start pursuing Him today!

Abiding in Christ means we abide in His Word.

John 15:3 reveals we are saved by hearing the Word. And, John 15:7 indicates that abiding in Christ and abiding in His Word go hand-in-hand. One commentator I listened to likened the Word of God to the knife the Vinedresser (the Father) is holding. This passage, along with Hebrews 4:12 supports this analogy. His Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Likewise, Spurgeon said that “It is the Word that prunes the Christian.” The more we know the Word, the more we love the Word, and the more we allow the knife to do its work.3

Do you believe that the Bible is God’s written Word to us? Do you believe all of it is perfect and without error? If so, how has that belief impacted your life? If not, what do you struggle to believe and why? Ask God to help you understand His Word rightly.

And, are you regularly reading the Bible? Are you studying it? Do you seek to know and love God more deeply through His Word? Consider the impact His Word is having or could be having on your life by abiding in His Word daily.

Abiding in Christ means we obey Him.

As God produces fruit in us scripturally, He develops the fruit of obedience within us. And, He uses our obedience to produce more fruit. Oftentimes, we jump straight to obedience by doing good works. But, when this isn’t a result of faith in Christ and faithfulness to His Word, it doesn’t bear good fruit. Instead it leads to striving and spiritual burnout. And at worst, it even leads some to have false assurance of salvation. The question we must ask ourselves is: Do I have more faith in my works or in Jesus to save me? Only Jesus saves. Or perhaps you’re like me and you know Christ alone saved you, but you still fall into doing and striving that leads to burnout. If that’s you, consider: Am I trusting that I already have God’s favor because of Christ’s righteousness given to me?

And finally, do you pray for the Holy Spirit to help you walk in obedience? If we aren’t living Spirit-led lives, we will attempt to do far too much in our own strength. Our passage comes right after Jesus promises the Holy Spirit in John 14:15-31. Jesus was communicating that relying on the Holy Spirit is critical to abiding in Him.

Abiding in Christ means we have joy.

The disciples didn’t understand it yet, but Christ was preparing them for His death and resurrection as He spoke the words in John 15:1-11. In John 15:11, Jesus communicates that He revealed all of this so “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Considering this passage, what does it mean to be filled with Christ’s joy? Examine your own heart and life. Are you a joy-filled Christian? How might reflecting more on the gospel increase your joy? What might it look like for you to be filled with joy, even in the midst of hardships and grief? If joy is lacking in your life, how might this passage be speaking into the reason why? 


When we abide in Christ, He bears fruit in our lives. This glorifies Him and blesses us and those around us. 

So, as I consider what it means to live my own life abiding in Christ as a born again believer, I know that it means I must continue pursuing Jesus faithfully through His Word and obedience by the power of the Spirit. In doing so, I can joyfully trust Jesus and the Father to prune and bring forth fruit in my life.

Before you close this window, consider: How is God prompting you to abide in Him?



Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.