How To Write and Craft a Scripture Study Book | GUEST BLOG POST
There’s no way to predict the advent of sacred spaces in our lives.
They seem to interrupt the daily ins-and-outs of routine whenever we least expect them. As personal burning bush moments, they can catch our breath, opening our eyes with a fresh rush of vision and calling.
For me, one of these encounters came during a nightly session at the stove as I shifted between crisping tortillas in the skillet and chopping a head of romaine.
It was taco night — by all accounts the same as any other taco night in our Mexican-food devouring household. But as I worked, my mind only partly engaged, that’s when it happened.
Whoosh! — a creative download for the women’s Bible study, Bless, which I had just begun writing, complete with specific formats, a vision for aesthetics, and even a list of folks to contact who might be able to help make it happen.
The knife clattered to the counter as I rushed for my iPad and began furiously typing, trying desperately to keep up with the flood of ideas.
And by the time the flood eased to a trickle, I was absolutely certain of one thing.
This is WAY more than I had bargained for.
So I did what every considerate, otherly-minded wife does for her unsuspecting husband: I dumped it on him later that night in an emotional rush of semi-panic mixed with a tinge of the awe from which I was still reeling.
His response was profound.
That about summed it up.
So here we are, twelve months later. Not only did we achieve what we could never have imagined was possible for us — ignorant novices in the world of writing and publishing, let alone videography and graphic design — but with the help of innumerable stellar players who gave of their time, talents and energy, we also crossed that finish line well.
The process was terrifying. Exhausting. Overwhelming.
But it was also absolutely thrilling to watch something come together which only God could have accomplished.
And I learned more about myself and what I’m capable of achieving than I ever thought possible.
So what were our big takeaways?
First: Pray. Because we knew this thing was above our pay-grade right from the beginning, we prayed. And prayed. And prayed some more. We gathered a team of prayer warriors to go to battle for us throughout the months as we worked to birth this project. We asked family and friends to pray for anointing, for creativity and for favor. And each time we stepped into a new experience, we prayed for strength and courage where we had nothing but overwhelming inexperience — that we could go boldly forward, unafraid.
Second: Your team is your greatest asset. There is absolutely no way that I could have accomplished this on my own. ABSOLUTELY. NO. WAY. Without the incredible gifts of my husband (who patiently straightened the tangles of my brain day after day), our graphic designer for the workbook (biggest shout-out ever to rachelallene), our numerous volunteer editors, our selah contributors, our videographer and post-production editors, and my kids, friends and family, Bless would have never come to fruition.
Third: Don’t be afraid to tackle the untried. Just because you’ve never done it doesn’t mean it’s out of reach. Yeah, the learning curve will feel like a ninety degree climb at times, but you will get there. With each element that we encountered in the process, my husband and I strove to remain open, teachable and grateful — all the while keeping our focus strong and our faith bolstered. Lean into the experts in your life. Don’t hesitate to ask for introductions. Do your research, and then do it again. Explore your options and once you’ve made your choices, stay open to changes, revisions and edits.
Fourth: Take the time to plan well. Before you really dive in, do your homework. For me, that required hours of study and research. It meant mapping out exactly what I needed to accomplish in order to reach my goal. I kept a notebook by my bed and would grab it whenever I would get a fresh idea, journaling my thoughts and then weaving them into a revised version of the study. I spent months reading and re-reading Psalm 103 and commentaries about the Psalms, eventually coming up with an outline for each week’s lesson. I wrote lists of questions which I wanted the study not only to highlight, but also to help answer. All of that planning enabled me to know exactly where I needed to head once I began writing and eventually, recording the teaching videos.
Fifth: Keep your vision in focus. When you’re pursuing that big dream, whether it’s writing a book, starting a business, or accomplishing any goal which requires intense effort, it can be so easy to get sidetracked. As I was creating the workbook for Bless, my husband was constantly reminding me to make time in my daily schedule for writing. After weeks of frustration, I discovered that I am most productive when I spend a weekend away, sequestering myself so that those time stealers— good things, all of them, but often distractions nonetheless— wouldn’t rob me of progress. It was also crucial for me to keep that original taco-night download in plain view so that each day’s choices wouldn’t sidetrack me from my goals.
Sixth: Test it. Once the study was complete, we asked the women of our church to experience a trial run. They graciously dove into the whole package, and at the end of nine weeks, they offered feedback. We spent the next three months revising and revamping, getting Bless ready to share with a greater audience. During that time we were reminded of the vital importance of humility, of staying open to perspectives other than our own. And we realized how crucial it is to relinquish ownership daily, because this project should never define us, but instead, refine us.
So what’s next?
Our dream would be that Jesus would use this study in some small way to make Himself famous on the earth. And honestly, the how’s and where’s are up to Him.
The night that we wrapped all this up, we drove to Ruby’s — our local burger joint — to splurge on fries and a hot fudge sundae. My husband stared across the table, squeezing my hands as he asked, “How does it feel?”
I relished that crisp, potatoey goodness melting in my mouth and realized that I was there once again, catching the unexpected sacredness of the moment.
My story? I’m a Jesus lover: an ardent worshiper who longs for nothing more than to revel in the presence of the One who alone is WORTHY.
I am wife to Christopher, that amazing husband and father whose beautiful romancing 30 years ago started so much.
I am mother to four incredible blessings: two stalwart young men, two radiant young women. Gifts of glory and sanctification, all.
I spent nineteen years of my life practicing at being a home educator: joyful, hard-won days filled with priceless memories and perpetual messiness.
I thrive most when teaching, mentoring, or loving on the upcoming generation.
My husband and I co-founded CRSSM, a ministry center in Costa Rica, where we lived for the first half of 2016.
On March 1, 2018, I released a women’s Bible study called Bless.
I am a fearless shower singer, a faithful Austen devotee, an unashamed musical watcher. I love to celebrate milestones with great aplomb. I delight in opening my home to friends and family, and at such events, steaming cups of tea are invariably found.