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.:)

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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?