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?