Every October I take part in a 31 day writing challenge with other bloggers called Write 31 Days. Bloggers that participate focus on one topic for the month of October and write everyday for 31 days. This is my third year of doing a series in October. For those of you that are new to this blog, the previous series that I've written are faith > fear and Confessions of a Creative Christian.
I'm delighted to share that for this October, I will be spending 31 days focusing on finding God's kingdom in the ordinary and everyday in a series called Seeking the Kingdom.
Join me on October 1 as I begin this new series and to learn more.
I was thinking the other day about how the friendship between Elizabeth and Miss Clara in the movie War Room is a great example of discipleship. While the film's primary message is the power of prayer and intercession, the film has a strong focus on discipleship. I thought about sharing about the principles of discipleship found in War Room, but then I found that a blogger from The Overflow Blog already wrote a great article highlighting the principles of discipleship found in the film.
The writer of the article, Allision Whisler, highlights these 5 principles:
Read the post to learn more about these principles: 5 Discipleship Principles to Learn from War Room
I'd also recommend watching the film too, as it gives a great example of discipleship and the power of personal prayer, which is a topic that this blog will focus on coming up in the next two weeks. Stay tuned to find out what I've got cookin' for the blog in October.
This week's links are all about God's Word, which is a spiritual feast that I don't partake in as often as I would like. Enjoy some links that encouraged me to delight in God's Word more and that I hope will encourage you.
Treat Yourself To The Voice of God - David Mathis
God's Word is a treat and a delight that we often don't take enough delight in.
You Need To Hear Directly From God - Knowable Word
Two analogies for why we need to hear from God daily and spend time reading the Bible
How Does God Speak to Me Today - Tim Challies
"The conclusion is that the Bible speaks to us today. The Holy Spirit speaks to us today in the Bible. The Son speaks to us today through the Holy Spirit in the Bible. If he doesn’t, if he doesn’t actively speak to us, the whole letter to the Hebrews is a waste of time; it’s just a history lesson. But, of course, that can’t be. The Bible is not just about what God has said, but what God is saying."
Helping You Delight In God's Word - Erik Raymond
A tip to help you take delight in God's Word and remember what you read.
The Morning I Heard The Voice of God - John Piper
"It has increased my love for the Bible as God’s very word, because it was through the Bible that I heard these divine words, and through the Bible I have experiences like this almost every day."
Something beautiful happens when August tip toes into September. Long, hot summer days draw to a close and give way to the shorter brisk days of fall. Technically speaking, fall does not begin until September 22nd, but the first day of September usually announces fall's impending return with the smell of pumpkin spice lattes.
I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the original pumpkin spice latte, but there's just something about the smell of pumpkin spice and the thought of pumpkin everything that brings me joy. In fact, today I made pumpkin mac and cheese for dinner and pumpkin pop tarts for dessert. The taste and smell of pumpkin brings back a lot of memories of beautiful fall days, and it makes me praise God for making something so delicious and with "smelly-goodness".
As I've been thanking God for pumpkin and pumpkin spice and the return of a such a beautiful season, I stumbled upon an article called "Thank You Jesus for the Smell of Pumpkin Spice." If you too like the smell of pumpkin spice, you will enjoy reading this article about how our sense of smell can lead us to worship God.
"I was struck by the significance of smell to the human experience. God created our bodies not to restrict us, but to allow us to experience him and his creation physically as well as spiritually. No wonder so many church traditions include an aspect of the olfactory experience in worship or contemplation. Do this to remember me, Jesus says, over the table. We smell, we taste: yes, Lord, we remember. With our whole selves, we remember."
Check out the rest of the article: Thank You Jesus for the Smell of Pumpkin Spice
We can find glimpses of God's grace in something as simple as being able to smell wonderful smells. Want to find glimpses of God's grace and kingdom in the ordinary and everyday? Subscribe to receive new posts from this blog via email below.
Today marks three months of being married to Brandon. Let me just say that we've learned a lot in three months of marriage. Not a day goes by that we're not dependent upon God's grace to love and care for each other as Christ has cared for us. August was filled with a lot of lessons in regards to marriage, so here are five things that I learned and I'm still learning and some wedding photos in the mix:
God's Grace is Sufficient
Paul says it best in his second letter to the Corinthians:
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
Paul shares this with the Corinthians in regards to his own weaknesses and how Christ's power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Marriage definitely brings out and reveals my weaknesses and the weaknesses of my husband, but God's grace is sufficient for us. When I'm struggling emotionally and trying to help Brandon understand what's going on in my head, God's grace is sufficient for my weakness. I don't have to worry about Brandon judging me or not understanding, because God understands and helps me in my weakness.
Marriage Is A Slow Death To Self-focused Living
From all of the books that I've read, I know that marriage is more about holiness than happiness. Happiness is a byproduct of growing in holiness or Christlikeness. However, you can know something in your head but not get it in your heart. I needed to be married to understand that loving a spouse takes a lot of love, which means choosing to love that person more than myself, which takes sacrifice, which means a slow death to myself.
There have been a number of times this past month where I have been given a choice: do what I want to do or lay my preferences aside to love my husband. I could be reading a book and Brandon might ask if I would play a game with him. I could ask him if I could keep reading my book and play a game later or I could set it aside to play a game with him. Playing a game with my husband cares for him, but sometimes playing a game comes at the expense of giving up what I wanted to do.
Jesus says it best when he shares with his disciples:
Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom of many.
Two of Jesus' disciples asked Jesus if they could sit on his left and right when he would take his throne in glory. Jesus tells them in Mark 10 that those places are reserved for others. Jesus then teaches the disciples about who is the greatest in God's Kingdom. The greatest is a servant. Jesus is the greatest, because he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus didn't come to be served but to serve.
I learn more about the character of Christ when God calls me to seek to serve my husband over being served by him. Marriage is helping me to slowly die to my self-focused living and to live to serve others as Christ gave his life to serve others.
Communication Is Hard Work
I've never had to communicate so much with one human before. That might sound humorous, but it's so true! It took marrying Brandon and needing to communicate about everything to make me realize that an area of weakness for me is communicating. I either withhold sharing things with Brandon or I share everything all at once and leave my husband not knowing how to care for me from there. I'm learning more and more that communication is hard work, but good communication helps married couples strive towards understanding and knowing each other in order to love each other and work as a team.
You Don't Need To Go To Africa + Adopt 14 Children to Serve The Lord
I finished reading the book Kisses from Katie in August. It was an encouraging and a discouraging read at the same time. I felt encouraged in finding ways to obey the Lord's command to care for the poor and needy, and I felt discouraged in that I'm not caring for the poor and needy in the capacity that Katie is.
To explain: Katie shares in her book how the Lord sent her to the country of Uganda and as she obeyed Him and sought to love and care for others, the Lord brought many people into her life to love as the hands and feet of Christ. She even ends up adopting fourteen daughters... as a nineteen year old! It's encouraging to hear about what the Lord did in her heart and how her obedience led to loving those she never dreamed she would know and love.
But I wrestled through guilt while reading this book. I would put the book down after finishing a chapter and think, "Why am I not in Africa adopting children and ministering to the poor and needy?"
I would share these feelings with Brandon, and he would lovingly remind me that the Lord has not called us to Africa or to adopt 14 children. At least not yet. But he has called us to campus ministry, and God's Word does call us to care for the poor and needy around us. I don't need to go to Africa or adopt 14 children to serve the Lord. I'm just called to be faithful to what God's called me to right now, and one thing is loving and caring for my husband, which means not running off to Africa and adopting 14 children.
I'm Thankful To Be Married To Brandon
I wake up thinking this every morning; how thankful I am that I get to love, serve, care for, and help my husband. For better or for worse. Marriage is hard work, but it's worth it! It's worth it every time, because with each passing month of being married to Brandon, I learn more about how Jesus Christ loves and cares for me for better or for worse. Knowing the love of Christ for broken and messy sinners, makes me want to love Brandon in my broken and messiness and his broken messiness too!
We've got a long way to go and many more months, years, and lessons ahead. We don't know what the Lord has in store for us, but I'm glad that I get to live life and grow to be more like Jesus with this man.
Our wedding photos were taken by our friend Alyssa Eckhart.
You can explore more of her work at alyssaeckhart.com
What did you learn in the month of August?
Or what have you learned about marriage?
Note: The link above for Kisses From Katie is an affiliate link. If you click on it and purchase the book, you will be supporting this blog at no additional cost to yourself. Thank you for supporting this blog!
While listening to a Hope*Writer's podcast recently, I was reminded of a reason why people should blog: to practice writing words that you can't take back. If I'm honest, that's the aspect of blogging that terrifies me, but it's also the most thrilling part.
We live in a world where many people are afraid to share their creative thoughts, ideas, or writing. It often boils down to fear of man, but the fear we face in day-to-day life often trickles into one's blogging life.
We're afraid to share honestly, of writing posts that people might criticize, or even just sharing a post we've poured our heart into writing. However, persevering in blogging means practicing the discipline of writing words you can't take back, of putting your writing and thoughts out there for the world to read and potentially laud or reject. It's terrifying to write words and put them out there for people to read, but it's worth it.
Personally, I think that people that enjoy writing should have a blog, because it grows you in a number of ways. Here are three reasons why I think people should blog and practice writing words that they can't take back:
You Grow As A Writer
When you practice writing words that you can't take back, you inevitably grow as a writer, because you'll start writing a lot of words that you can't take back. And if you can't take your words back, you'll start thinking more about your craft, word choice, building tension, creating a story arch, etc. It encourages you to try new things with the freedom of putting your work out there, even if the response is critical.
You Bless Your Readers
What you write could encourage, equip, or enlighten that one reader - the one that visits your blog regularly and benefits from your content. You might only have one blog reader, but you can still bless the one you've been given. That one post you're afraid of posting because it might not be "perfect" might just greet a reader at the perfect moment.
You Choose Love Instead Of Fear
It is written, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:18) If we know the love of Christ, we don't need to be afraid. No amount of criticism, rejection, discouragement, or fear can overcome the love of Christ. Like the Bible says fear ultimately has to do with punishment, but perfect love, the love of Christ, casts out fear. So choose to love and bless others, as Christ has loved and blessed you, instead of worrying and becoming fearful of what others might think.
This post is particularly aimed towards those that blog, write, desire to blog, or are fearful to share their writing. I hope this encourages you to share what you write and to practice writing words that you can't take back. I'm practicing writing words that I can't take back by writing this post. I wanted to bless and love others by writing about this topic, and I hope it serves its purpose. So let's practice writing words that we can't take back together.
"Meditate on Jesus, who is the ultimate meditation of God. Look at him loving you. Look at him dying for you. Look at him rejoicing in you. Look at him singing over you (Zephaniah 3:17). Look at all that, and he will be a delight to you, and then the law will be a delight to you, and you will be like a tree planted by streams of water. You'll bear your fruit in season, and no matter what will happen, your leaf will not wither."
Tim Keller from Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
Here are some links for your weekend. I hope they encourage and bless you abundantly.
Miraculous In The Mundane
I'm learning a lot about seeing the miraculous in the ordinary and everyday moments of life.
What Would God Say to Your Anxiety
This is for my friends and for myself - as we struggle with anxiety, there is a God who is sovereign over our circumstances.
Take This Slowly
This song is connected to the post above, but a great song focused on trusting God in the midst of unforeseen circumstances.
How True Change Happens
True change can happen, and here's how.
One Very Good Reason To Read Your Bible
Who are you reading your Bible for?
Sometimes God brings a book into my life at just the right time, when my soul needs to read and be reminded of a truth from His Word that I never knew I needed. Simply Tuesday came at just the right time - on a Tuesday.
I've been following the author of Simply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman, for a few years. I read and enjoy her blog regularly, as her tagline is "creating space for your soul to breathe." My soul often needs space to breathe, especially in a world and culture that values producing, creating, and living fast-paced. I started reading this book while reading through the book of Matthew in the Bible. The two in tandem were like sweet honey to my soul - rich and satisfying.
The book is about small moment living, but it's also focused on God's Kingdom and how it is different from what the world would expect. Drawing from the Scriptures, Emily shows how God's Kingdom is found in the ordinary and everyday, in the small moments (and the big moments), but particularly in the small moments.
God's Kingdom is found in a mother making a pb&j sandwich for her child.
It's found in taking time to sit on a bench and converse with your neighbor.
It's found in obedience to God's Word, no matter the consequences.
It shows up even on the most ordinary days of the week.
It's far different from the kingdom of the world, which values success, extraordinary moments, and fame.
I learned a lot about God's Kingdom while reading this book, and I learned a lot about myself.
You see, in my brokenness, sinfulness, and humanity, I tend to build my own crumbling kingdom. I live life, longing for the big moments and struggling with discontentment on the everyday Tuesdays when building God's Kingdom looks like making lunch for my husband. I compare myself to others. I feel discouraged when I don't feel like I'm doing enough or when I think about the smallness of this blog or my Instagram. In the midst of this discouragement, God meets me and reminds me that it's not about my kingdom. It's all about His Kingdom and He's given me a part to play - a specific assignment. I have a small part, but it's an important part.
After reading Simply Tuesday, I'm learning how to repent when I get caught up in building my own kingdom and instead I want to look for God's Kingdom in the ordinary and everyday. I want to learn how to celebrate my smallness and be faithful and obedient to the specific assignment he has given me, which is to love others and invite them into God's Kingdom. I can't do that when I'm too busy building my own.
I would recommend Simply Tuesday for the fact that it encouraged me when I was feeling weary. This book is for anyone that is tired of fast-paced living, and longs to see the beauty and Kingdom-building ministry of small moment living.
Note: The Amazon link to Simply Tuesday above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase the book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
"Could it be possible we have it wrong? Maybe success isn't in believing I can do anything but in knowing I can do nothing. My limits - those things I wish were different about myself - are perhaps not holding me back but are pointing me forward to pay attention to my small, eight-foot assignment."
Emily P. Freeman from Simply Tuesday
Some good reads that I'm loving for you to read and enjoy too.
Don't Despise Small Beginnings
"God begins with faith the size of a mustard seed. Don’t despise the day of small things. Keep praying and encouraging and hoping."
The Six Main Arcs In Storytelling, As Identified By an A.I
All of these Arcs can be found in the narrative of the Bible.
A Love That Never Ceases
"We aren't promised perfect lives without suffering. But we are promised a love that never ceases. A Love that offers mercy and grace every single day."
What Does It Mean to #LiveBoldly?
I haven't had a chance to see Me Before You yet, but I've read a lot of reviews. This young man does a great job unveiling the layers of lies that this movie projects about the value of life for those that are disabled.
8 Ways to Cultivate a More Restful Home
Leaving this here for a reminder to read again and again. Helpful tips.
I shared previously about what I learned from reading Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller. This book deeply impacted me, and I shared about how the first section of the book was impactful in Love Shows Compassion. The main point of this book is showing how Jesus loved others and how we're called to love others like Jesus. The next section in the book is titled "Love Speaks The Truth" and boy, was this section challenging and encouraging to me.
When I think of loving others, the compassion side of loving others comes pretty easy to me. The Lord has made me a very compassionate person, but speaking the truth? That's something I'm fearful to do. I often believe the lie that being honest or speaking the truth is unloving, but Jesus exposes that lie and reveals the truth to me.
As shared in the previous post, Jesus loved others compassionately, but he also loved others by being honest. Jesus spoke honestly to others, like calling out the Pharisees for being hypocrites, but he also showed compassion towards them. He was honest with His Father in the garden of Gethsemane about how He was feeling in regards to going to the cross, but He ultimately submitted to God's will (Matthew 26:36-46). Jesus balances honesty and compassion.
I don't do that well... at all.
Paul Miller gives a great example of this struggle in Love Walked Among Us and how to choose honesty and compassion instead of dishonesty and resentment in relationships. He tells a story about a husband and a wife. The wife works late at night, and the husband doesn't get to see his wife very often. The husband and wife make plans to have a date night, but the wife calls her husband an hour before she's supposed to be home, asking if he would be okay with her working late and postponing their date night.
The husband has several ways that he could respond. If we're honest, a lot of us in a similar situation would respond by either saying "It's okay," allowing the person to do what they want and then later resenting the fact that he/she chose work over the relationship, allowing bitterness to fester. OR we respond by getting angry and upset and telling the person that they're not really caring for the relationship. (At least these are two ways I might respond).
Paul Miller offers a very different response, a response that images Jesus by balancing honesty and compassion. He shares that the husband could speak honestly to his wife and tell her that he would prefer her to come home for their date, but that he would understand if she chooses to stay later at work. In this way, the husband is honest about how he feels but is also compassionate in allowing his wife to feel free to make a decision that she think would be best.
The wife could then respond in one of several ways. She could feel guilty and decide to come home, but feel resentful that she didn't get extra work done. She could stay at work and come home later. Or she could decide that coming home is the best thing. However, in all of her potential responses, the husband is free from resenting not telling his wife the truth. He told her the truth; he wanted her home, but he gave her the freedom to make the decision. The husband images Jesus in balancing honesty and compassion
I can't tell you how encouraged I was after reading this example from Paul Miller's book, because this is something that I often struggle with: wanting to be honest with how I feel but also wanting to show compassion and understanding. Reading this section of Love Walked Among Us came at exactly the right time.
Within a week of reading the section, I encountered several relational conflicts in which I was in the "husband's" situation. I wanted to share how I truly felt but also show compassion. This time, I didn't give into the lie that I wasn't loving my friend by speaking the truth. I shared with her honestly about how her actions and decisions made me feel, but I also showed her compassion and understanding in forgiving her for how her actions and decisions affected me personally.
I would recommend this book for this example of speaking the truth in love alone. I reference this section all the time now when I encounter situations and conversations when I could choose to hide the truth and feel resentful or choose honesty and feel free.
I still have a lot of growing to do in speaking the truth in love, but this section showed me that Jesus loved others by being honest and by balancing honesty and compassion. I'm called to image Jesus as his follower and that means that I'm called to speak the truth. Speaking the truth and being honest truly does love others, and I'm looking forward to future opportunities to practice balancing speaking the truth while also showing compassion.
This post is a part of a series as I review and share thoughts spurred on by the book
Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller.
Finding Glimpses of God's Grace in the Ordinary and Everyday
I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ.
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