There are times when a song comes across our path at an intersection in life. The song Hills & Valleys by Tauren Wells came into my life on a Sunday morning when I was feeling particularly discouraged by the valleys that I was facing: adjusting to a new town, a new community, and a new season and place in life. These same valleys have also lead to hills and mountains with the Lord. In all of it, God is in control of the physical valleys and hills, but also the spiritual valleys and hills in my life and in your life.
We might sing God's praises when we're on the mountaintop whether it's his provision financially, in a new job, a new relationship, a new friend, or a sign of his particular love and care. And we often struggle to praise Him and see his particular loving hand in the valleys: illness, broken relationships and friendships, loss of a job or a loved one, or even just struggling emotionally. But God is the God of the hills and valleys, and He loves and is caring for us in the valleys as well as on the hills.
If whether you're walking through a valley or standing on the mountaintop, I hope that this song by Tauren Wells ministers to your soul, and reminds you of the God of the hills and valleys.
Listen here: Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells.
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Brandon and I moved to a new apartment two weeks ago. We traded in a 650 square foot, wood paneled basement for a 1150 square foot top floor apartment. Our main motivation for moving across town was for more space and more sunlight, but if I'm honest my soul also needed a change of environment. So after apartment hunting for a few months, we ended up here. While the space and sunlight are making room for the Lord to encourage and re-invigorate my soul, a new struggle is making it's way to the surface.
As I sit in my new living room, I'm well aware of the things that still need to be put away, things left to organize, things to buy, or even ways that I would like to decorate the space. And I feel overwhelmed by a feeling of wanting it to swiftly and suddenly be perfect and complete. I'm struggling to have patience with the process, but the process is precisely what this apartment and my soul need.
I spent two weeks staring into our second bedroom, which will double as a storage room and guest bedroom for friends and family. In the meantime, it's primarily storage. Boxes were everywhere, and things we didn't know what to do with in the moment were spread about the room: tennis rackets, kitchen appliances that we don't use very often, and office supplies. I spent two weeks staring into the room, wanting everything to finally be put away and organized but not knowing where to start. Two days ago an idea came to my mind about how to use an old closet organizer to organize all of the big items into the closet. The majority of the odd items are now neatly organized and all that remains is an empty bed and office supplies that need a home. Patience with the process.
How tempting is the struggle to not be patient, to not wait for the process to do the work. My apartment is an example of a normal inward struggle. How often do we struggle to patiently wait for the process? Waiting for the package or mail to arrive. Waiting for that guy to ask us out. Waiting to hear back from the job interview. Waiting to see the number on the scale go down. Waiting to see our health change or waiting for healing. We're all waiting for something, and it's so hard to be patient in the process.
I'm learning that there is work being done in the process of patiently waiting. Waiting doesn't mean that nothing is happening. As I stared into our spare room, I was tempted to despair that our apartment would never be tidy and organized, but I needed the time for my brain to think of using the closet organizer. As I look at my own life, there are so many things that I'm waiting for, and so many processes that are going on in my own heart, but God is doing a work in the process.
I spent most of the winter and spring working through illness. What ended up being gastritis (an inflammation of my stomach lining caused by stress) led to a four month process of waiting for the Lord to heal my stomach, but it was also four months of God using the process to root my joy and hope not in being healed physically but rather in the healing that Jesus can do in our hearts spiritually. I wanted an end result, but what I needed was the process.
Nowhere is this more true than in the spiritual life of a Christian. Those that are in Christ hope for the end result of their faith (eternal life with Jesus), but in the meantime we endure the process of fighting sin and growing to become more holy like Jesus. We want the end, but in order to get there we have to go through the process. And while the process can be difficult, it's worth it for the glory that is to come. When I think of this process, I think of what Paul wrote to the church in Rome:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)
If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. This is my prayer for us: that if we are waiting for something in this life, that we would wait for it with patience, looking for how the process might be preparing us for the end result.
If you are in Christ, there is an ultimate hope and end in sight for your waiting, whatever your waiting might be. If you're waiting for healing, there is a physical and spiritual healing ahead in eternal life with Jesus. If you're waiting to see those pounds go down on the scale, there is the hope of a redeemed body ahead. If you're waiting for the end of your sufferings, there is a glory that has yet to be revealed. There is hope in the process, but we have to wait for it with patience.
Today I'm seeing glimpses of that hope while patiently enduring the process of moving and in my own physical healing. I'm not sure what being patient in the process looks like for you, my friend, but I'm praying that the Lord helps you to patiently wait and that you would be encouraged and reminded of the future hope of glory with Jesus.
If you're a regular around here, you know that I often share about books that I'm reading and what books have impacted my life. But what I have never shared are the ways that I get books free/for a discount. There are a number of resources that I would love to share about in a future post, but today I came across an Amazon Prime deal that might encourage you to buy a new book or two.
Today only, Amazon is offering a discount of $5 off of a purchase of $15 for books and many of their books are discounted today. To secure the deal, you just need to put in the code PRIMEBOOKS17 at checkout. The coupon code is valid until tomorrow July 12. You can learn more about the coupon code here.
But I also wanted to share a few books that I would recommend buying with this sweet deal! So here are some top picks to pick up:
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin - she explores 10 ways God is different from us and why that's a good thing. I keep giving this book as a gift to friends. See a review here.
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson - great book on humility and how humility brings peace into our lives.
Made for More by Hannah Anderson - ever wonder why you were made and what your purpose in life is? Great book exploring this topic.
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin - helpful book on how to study the Bible with your heart and mind. See review.
Side by Side by Ed Welch - loved reading this book with a friend on campus last semester. It gives encouragement and helpful ideas for relational ministry.
A Praying Life by Paul Miller - read this book in college, and my prayer life has never been the same ever since. If you've ever wanted to grow in communing with the Lord in prayer, this book is for you.
Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller - it's all about how Jesus loved people and how we're called to love people as Jesus loved. If you want to feel refreshed by the amazing love of Christ, this here is your pick. Review of the book.
12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke - just finished reading this pick, and it's probably one of the best books that I've read in 2017. Couldn't recommend it more highly. See a review here.
Cinemagogue by James Harleman - this book shaped the way that I viewed filmmaking and watching movies and television in college - helpful book in thinking through how films shape how we view God and how God should shape our viewership.
It's Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke -addresses common misconceptions about being a Christian, and addresses things that most Christians do not think about, like what eternity will really be like. See review here.
My husband's recommendations:
Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley - helpful book for those that want to learn more about church history.
Circle Series by Ted Dekker - just finished reading this after Brandon's request and OH MY! Such a great book series.
Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin - In the words of Brandon, this is a book that everyone should read. He has found it particularly helpful as he thinks through leading musical worship and why worshipping God matters.
Hope that you find a new summer read that you'll enjoy and expand your mind. Don't forget to put PRIMEBOOKS17 at the check out to receive the deal.
The links to the books above are affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing a book or other products She Laughs Without Fear receives a small commission. When you buy books, you allow me to buy more books for review. Thanks for helping to fund my reading habit and supporting She Laughs Without Fear at no additional cost to you!
My parents bought my first cell phone when I was thirteen. It was a silver LG flip-phone that I carried on an eighth grade field-trip. It made my parents feel like I was safe, and it made me feel like I was cool. It took forever to send text messages to friends, and so I hardly ever used it for more than talking to my parents or making quick plans.
My little flip-phone was upgraded two years later to an LG with a full keyboard. I was moving up in the world and my fingers had the space to send longer messages and communicate more with friends. My friends still commented that I never returned text messages or calls but it was better than with my flip-phone. I was supposed to take this phone on a cruise trip with my school's music department, but I forgot it at home, so my parents mailed it from Pennsylvania to Florida overnight.
Two years later, I upgraded once again, but this time it was to an iPhone 4, and my cell phone habits haven't been the same ever since. While I was once known as the friend that never answered her phone or responded, I'm now known by my husband as the one that struggles to put her phone down at night. I still struggle with responding to friends, but it's no longer due to not using my phone. And I've never forgotten my iPhone at home while going on a trip.
My smart phone has changed me. For better and for worse.
Maybe you have a story similar to mine. Your smart phone entered into your life slowly, but has since then become a constant accessory.
I wrote in June about how I'm learning how to consecrate my phone to the Lord, and those thoughts were prompted by seeing the ways that my phone is making demands upon me that I never thought it could. These thoughts were further explored while reading Tony Reinke's new book 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.
The title says it all: Reinke lays out twelve ways that our phones are changing us. The twelve ways are as follow:
I don't know about you, but my phone has changed me in all twelve of these ways and more. Before reading this book I had already thought about how my phone changes the way that I interact with others, how it makes me more lonely, and how it makes me feed immediate approval. But I had never thought about how it makes me lose meaning in that it disconnects me from what's actually going on in my life and how our phones make us lose our place in time.
If you have a phone, you should read this book. It is written towards Christians, but even if you are not a Christian you should read this book. After each chapter, I couldn't help but think through the ways that I've seen my phone change me and impact my life and what those changes mean going forward.
What I appreciate about Tony Reinke's book is that he does not make a case that phones are bad and therefore we shouldn't use them. He makes the case that phones are tools that we are called to steward and use with self-control or else they will control us. He ends the book with a chapter focused on thinking through what we might be called to do in terms of creating boundaries with our phones.
I've been thinking a lot about how to apply the principles from this book and how to exercise self-control over my phone, and I've come up with a few applications for my life. Now, these applications might not work for you, but I'd recommend that you would join me in taking a look at your phone usage, taking a gander at this book, and thinking through how you might be called to make a change in light of how your phone is changing you. Here are some of my applications:
There is more that I could share about this book, but in summary I would highly recommend everyone to read it and to think through the ways that your phone is changing you. If you don't believe me (or Tony Reinke) try not touching your phone for an hour. I bet it will be quite difficult.
My prayer is the same as Tony Reinke, that we would see our phones as a good gift, but one that we must steward. They allow us to do so much and they are so helpful, but they can also affect us in ways that are unhelpful. My prayer is that we would think through ways that we can use self-control with our phones, rather than allowing them to control us.
Have you ever thought about ways that your phone is changing you before?
I received a free copy of 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You from Crossway in exchange for an honest review. The Amazon links to the books mentioned above are affiliate links. If you click on the links and purchase any of the books, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
Shalom! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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