Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of June 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of June 2021

And here it is… the monthly recap.:)

Highlights

  • Helping with fieldwork and learning what not to do when merging hay
  • Riding with my dad in the chopper
  • Finishing the Out of Time series
  • Park time with some cousins
  • Making strawberry shortcake for the first time
  • Taking Pride and Prejudice selfies with a sister
  • Compiling all of my poetry into one place
  • Singing with my family
  • Letting the craziness of life push me closer to God
  • Studying the Bible with friends
  • Coming up with these flash fiction prompts

What I’ve Been Reading

A Time to Speak – Nadine Brandes

The second book in the Out of Time Series… I give it six stars out of five.

A Time to Rise – Nadine Brandes

This one convinced me that the Out of Time Series is my new favorite set of books. An epic storyline, page-turning suspense, sweet romance, engaging writing, and questions posed that challenge the way I live and think… this series covers all the bases, in my book! (Pun intended.:) )

Flags of Our Fathers – James Bradley and Ron Powers

I love the way the historical quality of this book is meshed so beautifully with engaging writing. I’ve been enjoying this glimpse of the lives of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima.

Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

Sometimes books with two storylines bore me. Not this one! I’m excited to finish it and see how everything pulls together.

Journal Snippets

Fill me so I can fill others.

If others pointed people to my life as an example of what a true Christian is, would they get an accurate description?

I love Habakkuk’s heart of humility here in Habakkuk 2:1 – “I will watch to see… what I will answer when I am corrected.” He’s asking God why… but isn’t looking to justify his own indignation. He’s seeking to know and accept the heart of God.

“You did awesome things for which we did not look…” You directed the hearts of men like the rivers of water… and I am full of confidence that You can do it again to accomplish Your will.

Oh, God, give me purity of heart and grace on my lips.

Reading in Ezekiel today about how God defended the Israelites He had disciplined was encouraging. Even though I’ve messed up big-time, Jesus, Your love fights for me. Thank You.

God, I want to be seeking You more. Finding my fulfillment in You – my strength and courage and purpose and driving force in You. God, I never regret time taken to spend in Your word… so why do I have to force myself into it at times? Whet my appetite, Lord.

What blessed/challenged you most this June?

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, and Highlights of May 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, and Highlights of May 2021

The end of another month… and so we continue with not-long-standing tradition!

Highlights

  • running lunches to the fieldwork people – bonus when I got to take the four wheeler!
  • chopping off… a lot… of my hair
  • trying to write 1,000 words of my novel each weekday (it didn’t happen every day, but it definitely boosted my progress!)
  • running errands with my youngest sisters
  • doing more a capella singing with my family
  • discovering this playlist
  • enjoying crazy-fun times with friends+siblings
  • studying the Bible with aforementioned friends+siblings
  • surviving (and thoroughly enjoying:) ) a competitive game of Ultimate Frisbee
  • working on a writing project that is (hopefully!) soon to be disclosed to the general public…

What I’ve Been Reading

A Time to Die – Nadine Brandes

This is my new favorite book! Not many books keep me reading way too late into the night anymore, but this one did! Every time the excitement began to die down, something new/horrible/exciting happened. I loved it, and can’t wait to finish the trilogy! I can’t recommend it enough.

A Time to Speak – Nadine Brandes

The second book in the Out of Time series… so far, it’s just as amazing as the first!

The Ascent of Rum Doodle – W.E. Bowman

I’ve had this one on my shelf for so long, and finally determined to finish reading it. It’s absolutely hilarious… thanks for recommending + lending it, Grandma! Don’t worry… I’ll return it soon.:)

To Build a Fire – Jack London

Another one recommended by my grandma… so, so good. And devastating. And good.:)

Journal Snippets

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not of my circumstances. So… onwards!

God, help me to lose myself and take on the identity You give me – joyfully and with grace. Don’t let me waste my time on worthless pursuits.

Am I willing to offer every aspect of my life to God as a living sacrifice? Will I let You completely mangle my dreams for my life so I can live out Yours? Yes, Lord. Only by Your grace. All I want is Your plan.

Help me to live fully. To have a zest for life. To love fully and extravagantly. To realize the brevity of life and throw myself into making each second count. For good.

Oh, man, life was so much simpler when I was eight. (hehehe…)

God is helping me to see my life the way He sees it – brimming with beauty and opportunity. I see each day as an opportunity to serve God fully and freely, to nurture my relationship with Him, to press into Him and see that He is indeed good, and more than enough for me.

How was your May? What made it stand out to you?

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of February 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of February 2021

Happy March, all!!!

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to see March before… I’m so ready for spring. But we saw what happened last March, so… do I dare get my hopes up?

I do. I most certainly do.

Before we plunge into this new month, however, I’d like to conduct a review of February, and you’re certainly welcome to join me.:)

Highlights of the month

  • Participating in a heated debate about soda during a family game night
  • Suddenly landing in a sitting position on the gym floor after a failed attempt at a throw in dodgeball
  • Having my patience tried during a freezing and eventful excursion with the youngest sisters
  • Appreciating my incredible friends
  • Finding that watching mysteries past midnight might not be the best idea… especially if you’re babysitting
  • Feeding cows without wearing a stocking cap!!!
  • Driving with the windows down
  • Falling in love with this version of The Greatest Showman soundtrack because… a cappella. And the songs.:)
  • Enjoying spiteful and malicious games of Spite and Malice

What I’ve been reading

The Resolution for Women – Priscilla Shirer

“Right now – whether you realize it or not – you’re choosing to treat people a certain way, to stay committed to certain activities, to live a certain life, to be a certain kind of person. You’re already a woman of resolutions.

I snagged this at a thrift store earlier this month, and while I haven’t been reading it voraciously, it’s been really good. I love Priscilla Shirer’s way of drawing spiritual parallels from ordinary stories!

From the Grave – A.W. Tozer

“People must be told that the Christian religion is not something they can trifle with. The faith of Christ will command or it will have nothing to do with a man.”

This book has a devotion for each day of Lent. I haven’t been reading it consistently (that’s hard to do when you misplace the book!), but everything I’ve read so far has been so thought-provoking and convicting.

Time Management Isn’t Enough to Build a Powerful Writing Habit – Josiah DeGraaf

“When you combine time management with mental energy management, you create a dynamic that will supercharge your career.”

Even if you aren’t a writer, I would highly recommend giving this a read! It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to take control of their mental energy and boost their productivity.

The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien

” ‘Drownded?’ said several voices. They had heard this and other darker rumors before, of course; but hobbits have a passion for family history, and they were ready to hear it again.”

The serious tone with which Tolkien treats his hilarious characters is the best. And his descriptions… perfection.

Stuart Little – E.B. White

” ‘Bother arithmetic!’ snapped Stuart. ‘Let’s skip it.’ “

I love how E.B. White’s stories have such a humorous tone, yet touch on deeper issues in a way that leaves you thinking.

Journal snippets

If, in trying to protect myself I disobey God, I will end up having to face the very fears I fled. Oh, God, let me always choose obedience, no matter the cost… my pride, my comfort, my safety. Help me to get out there and follow You in dogged obedience.

Don’t let me waste or misuse my sphere of influence. Help me to be surrendered, Lord… even if I can’t see the fruit of what You’re doing, help me to be faithful.

…help me to love, to seek counsel, to serve, to lose myself in Your love.

“Count my life dear to myself” – I always thought this meant being unwilling to die for Jesus. I think it means more. If I’m counting my life dear to myself, I’m clinging to my own pithy dreams for my life and refusing to live out God’s.

***

What did you get to read/do/consider last month?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of January 2021

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of January 2021

The first month of 2021 is officially over… and here’s my review.:)

Highlights of the month

  • indoor s’mores with my sisters
  • Mongolian Steamed Dumpling Night… which soon turned into Mongolian Fried Dumpling Night. The transition from steaming to frying was only a slight improvement. Ketchup helped.:)
  • reading a letter my grandmother sent home from college when she was around my age
  • eating buckeyes and exchanging snarky (good-natured!) comments with my brother while we worked on writing and algebra
  • talking late in the night with sisters
  • discovering a love of flying
  • communicating via phone with my family while I was away from home
  • swimming in the ocean
  • spending lots of time with sweet friends
  • experiencing sunburn in January for the very first time:)
  • breaking out of writer’s block
  • reading to my little sister

What I’ve Been Reading

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This was on the banned books list and recommended by numerous sources, so of course I had to read it.:) I’ve not finished it yet, but I’ve been appreciating it so far. The way it is written totally draws me into the story and makes me feel like I’m physically right there watching what’s happening. Due to the nature of the storyline and Scout’s use of language, I don’t recommend it for everyone.

Keep a Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot

This is such a beautiful collection of wisdom that’s applicable to so many different areas of life. My mom gave this to me right before I went on vacation… and I spent a lot of time reading it. As a homeschool graduate, I especially loved what she had to say about home education… and it made me even more sure that I want to home educate any children I may ever have.:)

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

I just started reading this one to my youngest sister, and it’s been fun to read it again! For some strange reason, reading about the scraps Wilbur eats makes me hungry. Weird.

Journal Snippets

Make me a vessel for honor, Lord – cleanse me from all that would dishonor You. Make me fit for every good work.

Lord, thank You for giving assurance of Your control of my life… of this nation… of this world. Of the tiniest happenings in my day. It gives me peace like nothing else can.

Lord, thank You for leading me… to a desperation for Yourself and the life You want me to lead. I pray that You would fuel this holy discontentment, never letting me sink into status quo. Let me always be seeking, reading, serving, loving. Always loving.

Oh, Lord, let me not heed the voice of tradition while riding roughshod over Your commands.

Let me give up this intense longing for what I cannot have and that which is not eternal. Turn that desire to You and let the flames rage until they consume all the dross and leave only pure emotions – a pure heart that is wholly Yours.

Habakkuk’s attitude of humility in his questioning – “I will… watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.” He isn’t questioning to force God into admitting He’s wrong; he’s questioning because his finite mind can’t wrap itself around God’s plan. Let me question You in such a way, Lord.

The will of God for me RIGHT NOW: thankfulness in every situation, and sanctification.

God, You are my Fortress, my Mighty Warrior, my Defender, my Comforter, my Love, my Great Delight, my Everything. You are indeed all to me. Nothing can add to or subtract from Who You are to me. You are my Peace. You are enough for me. And no matter where January 26th, 2022 (one year from the day I wrote this) finds me, You will still be more than enough for me, my God, my Jesus. Thank You… thank You for loving a wretch like me.

Let me never be a dumb piece on display, but a living, breathing proof of God’s power.

What have you been doing/reading/writing? I’d love to hear from you!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

Straight from the Journal – Tough Gentle Love

Straight from the Journal – Tough Gentle Love

Hey, friends! Here’s an unedited taste of this week’s journaling.

For months the topic of Christian love and how I need to be living it out has been on my heart… and that’s what this entry is all about.:)

True love is to walk according to God’s commandments. “be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;” (1 Peter 3:8)

I want this tough gentle love for others, Lord.

of one mind – clear up misunderstandings, talk through things, don’t hold grudges, pray for understanding, argue to find the truth, not advance your own interests, fight to understand one another.

have compassion for one another – go out of your way to make someone’s load lighter, be sensitive to the feelings of others and act on what you see, speak in a way that induces others to be compassionate rather than judgemental.

love as brothers – strong, deep, committed love. Easy to understand, but hard to put into practice.

be tenderhearted – be sensitive and act on it, love others as you love yourself, be understanding and patient with the emotions of others, even if you don’t understand.

be courteous – look out for others the way you look out for yourself, consider how a decision will affect everyone before making it, ask for opinions, consider the feelings of others.

This indeed is tough gentle love, Lord. Help me to put it into practice in all of my relationships.

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets, + Highlights of December 2020

Recent Reads, Journal Snippets,  + Highlights of December 2020

The last day of December. The last day of 2020. Whoa. I’m going to fully enjoy the final hours of this historic year.:)

Highlights of the Month

  • Reading!!!
  • Christmas shopping as a family… or shopping with various fragments of family, climbing in and out of different vehicles and trying to hide certain things from certain people because, you know, Christmas secrets.
  • Walks – alone or with crazy sisters
  • Sneaking peeks and too many pics of gorgeous sunrises
  • Chatting with friends
  • Decorating my bullet journal
  • Writing about a spunky new character in my fantasy novel
  • Making crash potatoes
  • Christmas cookie creation time
  • Playing Balderdash with creative siblings
  • A journal-reading session with my brother

What I’ve Been Reading

Devotedly: the Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot – Valerie Elliot Shepard

Okay, I am loving this one! I’ve always appreciated the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot’s relationship, so it’s been amazing to read more about it in this book. Also, it is crammed full of journals and letters – something that makes my heart happy.:)

Shadow of the Almighty – Elisabeth Elliot

Best. Biography. Ever. The end.

June Bug – Chris Fabry

It’s been awhile since a book kept me turning page after page way too late into the night (or early morning) but this book is doing that to me. It’s written so well… but due to certain things mentioned/implied in the book, I don’t recommend it for younger readers.

The Prodigal’s Sister – John Piper

This twist on the parable of the prodigal son is beautiful, poetic, and delightful to read.

Journal Snippets

Oh, God, put Your love in my heart. For my family. For my friends. For those I don’t want to call friends. For Your body. For the down-trodden. For those with whom I disagree. For You.

Oh, Lord, may I ever hear Your words, forsake the counsel of my own heart, and turn my eyes from idols, looking only to You. I don’t want to be “profitable for nothing”. (Jeremiah 13)

When I make my goals, Lord, let them not be according to the dictates of my own evil heart [Jeremiah reference], but according to Your pure plan.

I feel battered but sure of God’s goodness and hold on my life. I hurt. I don’t understand… but I trust. And that is enough. God leads me on day by day, faithfully.

Remember… life is not about you.

The biggest thing I see standing in my way is… a disenchantment with the Lover of my soul. Soul, love Him! Desire Him! Stir yourself up to answer His call. Break up your fallow ground – seek and serve Him in the mundane. Though mists of uncertainty veil the way, do something. Stay in shape so that when God throws you into a crisis, you will be fit for the task. Don’t waste a moment.

And there it is… the last post of 2020. What will this coming year bring?

I want to thank you for sticking with me and reading what’s on my heart… I am so blessed to have such amazing support. I hope that this year is simply wonderful for you… that God would bless you through the trials, be your joy in the mundane, and draw you ever closer to Himself in the coming year and each year to come.

-Laurel

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.:)

A Month in Review – November 2020 Edition

A Month in Review – November 2020 Edition

It’s crazy to think it’s already time for this again!

Highlights of the month

  • voting for the very first time
  • writing (of course)
  • making an audio drama with cousins
  • a sibling sleepover
  • wearing cozy sweaters
  • sight-reading piano duets with a brother
  • building relationships with people in my writing community
  • cleaning my room
  • making mashed potatoes in a ginormous bowl
  • hanging white lights in my bedroom
  • accidentally winning this giveaway (!!!)

Books I’ve been reading this month

Last month I didn’t read very much. This month I read much more. Thankfully. And each book was in a different genre! Bonus points.

Prophet

I’ve not finished this one yet, but I’ve enjoyed it so far! I’m a huge fan of allegories, and Ela’s conversations with the Infinite help me understand and appreciate the Lord more. Oh, I love the power of fiction.:)

Great Expectations

I mentioned this one last month, but it’s worth mentioning again.:) I love reading this aloud to some of my siblings.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

I’m reading this one with some family members, and so far it’s been very enjoyable… despite the fact that it’s a romance.:) The plot is so complex, and I love how some of the characters are based off of characters in Dickens’ Bleak House.

I’ve also been able to venture into the dystopian genre while reading/editing a friend’s incredibly amazing novel-in-progress!!!

Journal Snippets from this month

“I have been careless of my ways – letting life fly by while I grasp at bits of it for myself. God, I want to live whole-heartedly for You – nothing held back. God, let me seek You passionately and purposefully. I want to use this season to learn how to be a doormat for humanity. (reference to an Oswald Chambers quote)”

“God’s salvation and righteousness are enough to make me greatly rejoice… and He provides them even on my worst days. I have a reason to worship. Thank You, Jesus.”

“Oh, God… let me choose You and Your ways… first and always. Be the deepest desire of my heart and the love of my life. Be the reason I live and breathe.”

“Oh, God, guidance. Let me listen to Your gentle whisper rather than the wild throbs of my heart.”

And that’s a wrap! How was your month? Did you do/read/write anything you care to share?:)

What I’ve Been Reading (+ Journal Snippets!)… October 2020 Edition

What I’ve Been Reading (+ Journal Snippets!)… October 2020 Edition

Good morning, all! Unbelievably, October is nearly over… which means it’s time for a review of my literary diet this month.

Quite honestly, I’m not very proud of the amount of reading I did this month. For writers, reading is like fueling up… so I guess I’ve been running close to empty for basically the whole month. Ah, well. Next month is fresh… with no mistakes in it! Yet.:)

Anyway… without further ado, here are my October reads!

Desiree’s Baby

Oh, man… if you want to read something short and extremely moving, here you go. This story is heartbreaking.

The Romance of a Busy Broker

Since O. Henry wrote The Gift of the Magi – one of my very favorite stories ever – I jumped at the chance to read another one of his works. The way this short story ended cracked me up!

Great Expectations

After hearing one of my brothers raving to me about it night and day, and even after being utterly traumatized and confused by the BBC film adaptation, I decided to give this book a try… and, oh, am I glad I did!

Dickens’ descriptions are incredible, and inspire me to be more creative in the way that I write my own descriptions. And his plots – oh, his plots!!! I don’t think I will ever be able to plot so masterfully as Dickens did.

Footprints of a Pilgrim: the Life and Loves of Ruth Bell Graham

My mother gave me this book a few years ago when I was researching Ruth Bell Graham for a school project, and I dug it out again recently after one of my sisters gave me one of Ruth Bell Graham’s poems.

This book is so beautiful… a fun mashup of an autobiography and anecdotes. I think what I loved the most, though, is the poetry scattered throughout. Her poetry is just so lovely and effortless… and it has inspired and influenced my own way of writing poetry.

Journal Snippets

I thought it might be fun to include some glimpses into my October 2020 journaling here…

“Seeking You (God) is all that will truly satisfy… all that will truly last.”

“Oh, God! I want You to be far more dear to me than that which I stubbornly clench in my fist. In all my desires… all my hopes… all my ambitions… may YOU – only You – be the One I seek.”

“Acts 20 – Paul may have been seen as something of a babbler… keeping back ‘nothing that was helpful’. But he served the Lord ‘with all humility’… and that makes all the difference.”

More journal snippets… yea or nay? Let me know in the comments below.:)

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something through one of the links I share in this post, I receive a small commission… at no extra cost to you.😊

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

The Journals That Changed My Life

The Journals That Changed My Life

Every person in our lives influences us – whether it is an influence we recognize or not. Some people have a small influence, some people have a strong influence, and some people shake our lives forever.

For me, that was Jim Elliot.

I met him the year I turned sixteen. I spent a lot of time with him that year. He made me laugh, he challenged the way that I spent my time, and he lived his life in a way that made me want to live differently. He was strong in his faith, bold in his declaration of it, and passionately in love with Christ. He inspired me.

Wait, I forgot to tell you – he died over 40 years before I was born.

Shortly after Jim Elliot’s death at the hands of the men he was trying to reach with the gospel, his wife Elisabeth wrote Shadow of the Almighty. In this beautifully written biography, Elisabeth included excerpts of many of her husband’s letters and journals. Shadow of the Almighty had a profound impact on me.

What hit me most about the legacy Jim Elliot left in his writings was not so much the writing itself, but the heart, life, and dreams behind it. Don’t get me wrong – he had a rich vocabulary and a gift for powerful expression and humorous description – but that wasn’t all.

When you read his journals, you see a heart laid wide open before the Lord. He wasn’t afraid to proclaim the gospel and its implications. He didn’t shrink from confronting his peers about the condition of their souls.

Yet neither did he shrink from admitting his own faults and weaknesses. Some excerpts from the journals – “Oh, that I were not so empty-handed… I don’t love, I don’t feel, I don’t understand, I can only believe.” “Difficulty in getting anything at all from the Word. No fervency in prayer.” “Deep sense of uselessness this morning.”

Wait, what??? I’m not the only one who feels like this at times? Even the strongest and most passionate of Christians struggle?

Yes.

When I journal, I sometimes shrink from recording my struggles. I don’t always want to be honest with myself on paper. I start sweating when I think about the possibility of people cracking open my journal some day and getting a taste of 100% pure, raw, unfiltered Laurel. It’s scary.

But in reality, it’s not about me.

It’s about making myself available to God so He can display His power and goodness in me. If honesty in my journal entries may one day accomplish this by strengthening and encouraging others, I’ll swallow my pride and make myself available to God.

‘Cause that’s my purpose.

Have you made it yours?

Why I Journal

Why I Journal

I received my first journal at the tender age of eight… and I’ve been journaling more or less consistently ever since.

It’s become a habit I never want to break.

Let me tell you why.

First of all, spilling my thoughts onto a page helps me to think more clearly. Something about seeing the crazy mess inside my brain laid out in scrawling, tangible words helps me to see things a bit more clearly. It enables me to describe my circumstances, ponderings, and emotions in a way that makes me see the beauty in the pain, the humor in the frustration, and the purpose in the chaos.

Think of it as spring cleaning for the brain.

Second, it’s amazing to look back on over a decade of my journals and remember the hilarious stories, the frustrations and difficulties, and all the precious memories I might have forgotten. Especially as a writer, all of those bizarre family stories will come in handy someday as story inspiration!

Most of all, however, I love to be reminded through those journals of how God has worked in my life. What He has taught me. How He has grown me. How He has proved Himself powerful, wise, and faithful. And good. Always good. It’s my prayer that one day I’ll be able to pass my journals on to my children and grandchildren as a tribute to His goodness in loving and daily transforming someone as flawed and imperfect as me.

Do you keep a journal? What do you love about journaling?