Reading has fallen on hard times. Between the computer and the smartphone, people do not read as much as they once did. Or rather people don't read books or longer works as much as they once did. Despite the statistics, there are still people that make time for reading.
I've had a number of friends ask me over the years how I find time to read so many books. On any given year I read an average of 15-30 books, and I often share about books that I've read here and via social media. I love sharing book recommendations and talking about books with others, which is why I often get asked about how I find time to read and how I can read as much as I do.
To answer simply: reading is a discipline that I find valuable and enriching. Therefore, I prioritize time for it.
We make time for things that we think are important. Take exercise for example. We carve out time for it in our days and try to keep a regime and routine. We feel guilty when we don't keep up with it. We feel more energized and less stressed when we do keep up with it. Just like exercise takes discipline, reading takes discipline as well.
The way most people feel about exercise is how I feel about reading. (In fact, sometimes I do both at the same time. Hello treadmill!) Reading is something that I find to be valuable and important. Therefore, I make time for it.
Just like 15 minutes of exercise is better than no exercise, 15 minutes of reading is better than not reading at all, which is why I aim to read at least 15 minutes or roughly 1 chapter of a book a day. I find that reading a chapter a day motivates me to read and depending on the book length, I can read a book in a week or every two weeks.
Another thing that helps is reading multiple books at one time. I have a friend that reads one book that is a leisure read, one book that is spiritual growth related, and one that is job training related. I have since adopted this friend's method. Reading multiple books at one time creates variety and gives us different things to read at different points in the day. I am more apt to read a spiritual growth book in the morning and a leisure read at night time, because it is harder for me to concentrate later at night.
Reading is a discipline. If we want to read more and we find value in reading, then we need to make time for it. I could write an entire post about the value of reading (which I might do). It is a very helpful discipline for growth, mentally and spiritually, and it's a discipline that we should make a regular part of our schedules.
In the twenty minutes that we might spend on social media in the morning, we could spend that time reading a book which will actually be more encouraging and valuable than mindlessly scrolling through content. One way that you can make reading a discipline in your life is by replacing your time on social media in the morning with reading for ten minutes.
If you've been wanting to read more, the first step is deciding if reading is something that you view as valuable and important and then making the time for it, even if it's just 15 minutes a day to start. Ultimately, my hope is that you would find reading as something that is profitable and would make it a regular discipline.
If you want to make reading a regular discipline, but you're looking for good books to read, here are a few recommendations:
Circle Series 4-in-1 (The Circle Series)
To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson
The Magnolia Story
Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines
12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You
None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing)
Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World
Over the past year I've been learning a lot about myself and the way that God has so intricately made me. One thing that I've been learning recently is that God made me with a gift for gathering and inviting. I should have known this about myself, but sometimes it takes a friend pointing out your giftings to know how you're gifted. And so I'm learning and seeing how the Lord has made me to be an inviter by nature, and I want to share and invite you to read some articles and posts that have ministered to my soul.
Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me from the Rabbit Room // Stories can point us towards a greater story. Andrew Peterson shares how Harry Potter pointed him towards Jesus.
Beware (and Embrace) the Power of Story from Tim Challies // Stories and experiences have more power than we realize, and we often use stories to persuade others. Tim Challies discusses that power that stories have over our lives for good and for bad.
To Rest is to Leave Unfinished from Lore Wilbert // Sometimes resting means that we cannot finish things. Sometimes resting means that we disappoint people or even disappoint ourselves, but resting is essential for our souls. Lore Wilbert shares reflections upon learning how to rest well.
The Day I Was Supposed to Move from Sophie McDonald // How do we respond when God does things differently than we expect or when He changes plans or callings? Sophie McDonald shares how the Lord changed her plans, but is using them for her good.
Eat Real Food from Faith Thomas // I don't know about you but I often feel surrounded by different ideas on what foods that we should or shouldn't eat, but what I keep coming back to is the idea that God made food and he said it was good and gave us everything we need in real and whole food to be nourished. Faith share's a similar sentiment: when it comes down to what to eat, eat real food.
Are there particular articles that have been ministering to your soul lately?
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.
The links to the song above is an affiliate links. By clicking on it and purchasing the song or other products She Laughs Without Fear receives a small commission. When you buy music, you allow me to more music to write about for. Thanks for helping to fund my music listening habit and supporting She Laughs Without Fear at no additional cost to you!
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!
Growing up, my father would always encourage my sister and I that work was good for the soul. He modeled for us what it looked like to work diligently in all areas of life. While I learned a lot from my father in terms of working hard, I really struggled with viewing work as good and good for the soul.
The fact is that my father was not far from a biblical truth that begins in Genesis. Work is good for the soul, because God made mankind with the purpose of doing fruitful work and labor in his garden, but man's sin made our work toilsome and difficult, and now we're longing for the redemption of all things, including work.
James M. Hamilton explores this idea of work in his book Work and Our Labor in the Lord. A short but helpful book, Hamilton explores four aspects of our work: creation, work after the fall, redemption, and restoration.
I've been thinking a lot about work and calling over the past few months and have read several books that focus on why we were made and how we should live out our calling and be good stewards of our callings (Made for More, You Are Free, and What's Best Next). However, this book gives a great introduction to why God made work, why work is good for us, why work is so hard, and how work can and will be redeemed or restored through Jesus.
Here are some standout quotes:
“Work is neither punishment nor cursed drudgery but an exalted, Godlike activity”
If you're looking for a book with a helpful biblical perspective on work and how work will be redeemed, Work and Our Labor in the Lord should be on your list.
The Work of God's Fingers
Confessions of A Creative Christian
Shadows of Heavenly Things
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!
I received a free copy of Work and Our Labor in the Lord in exchange for an honest review from Crossway.
Several bloggers that I follow shared about this book (You Are Free) by Rebekah Lyons a couple months ago, sharing that it encouraged them in thinking through what it means to walk in freedom. I'll admit, I was skeptical about this book. Sometimes I avoid books if they seem like they might be "fluffy". This book was definitely not fluffy, but it's also not what I expected.
When I see a book labeled You Are Free with a foreword written by Ann Voskamp, I expect the book to be the working out of deep theological truths a la the Book of Romans style. I expected to read a book that seeks to help women understand what it means to walk in the freedom of Christ as described in so many different passages of the Bible. What I found in this book was different from what I expected, but no less helpful.
You Are Free is not a book that takes specific passages and shows their implications to our lives and how the Bible itself can help us to walk in freedom. This book is one woman sharing vulnerably about the areas in her life where she was not walking in freedom in the identity that she has in Jesus Christ, and some of the ways that the Lord worked in out in her heart. This book is primarily an autobiography of what it looked like for one woman to grow in her relationship with Jesus.
I appreciate learning from other women as they live our their faith in their day to day life, but I did not expect this theme to be the main thrust of the book. While I'm sad that there weren't more practicals or Scriptures in the book that might encourage women to see the ways that they are not walking in freedom from sin, I did appreciate Rebekah Lyons prose and sharing specific things that God has been teaching her about living in freedom. Here are some takeaways that I had while reading this book:
Remember the Joy of the Lord
Rebekah takes a chapter to talk about how she realized that she had lost her joy. In doing, doing, and doing, she no longer felt the joy of the Lord in her life, and her children saw it in their mother's smile. Reading this chapter was like an alarm, and I found myself thinking and praying through, "Am I intentional in remembering the joy that I have in Jesus?" The answer is that I often do not take the time to remember the joy of my salvation and the joy that I have in Jesus.
This chapter made me think through and evaluate whether I make intentional space in my life for thanksgiving and offering prayers of thankfulness to God. It made me think through the ways in which I can enjoy Jesus more. It made me think through whether my prayer focus for May should be thinking through the things that rob me from my joy in the Lord.
As an added bonus, when my joy is in Jesus, it is easier for me to walk in freedom from sin, because when I give into sin, I believe the lie that it will satisfy me or bring me more joy than Jesus. And it never does. Thinking through what it looks like to put my joy in the Lord is immensely helpful in terms of living free and remembering who I am in Jesus.
Short Prayers Can Be Powerful
Rebekah shared a number of prayers that she wrote in her journal as she was working through walking in freedom from anxiety and depression and panic attacks. I really appreciated her sharing these short prayers. Something as simple as Lord, please show up in my sleep has a lot of power. It made me realize how often I forget to pray or talk to the Lord and I can simply talk to Him, even if it's a short prayer like Lord, please help me to remember who I am in Jesus.
The Lord Sets Us Free So That We Can Help Others Walk In Freedom
Something I appreciated about Rebekah Lyons' testimony in this book is how the Lord setting her free from anxiety and panic attacks has actually allowed her to love and care for others and point them towards the freedom that they can have in Jesus. She shared a story in which she was on a plane and a woman started having a panic attack. God used that as an opportunity for her to love and care for that woman and walk her through the panic attack and then even share about Jesus with her. She is now able to use her freedom as a means to help others to walk in freedom as well.
When it comes to recommending this book, I would recommend this book to women that enjoy reading about someone else's walk of faith. I gleaned a lot of nuggets from Rebekah Lyons and her relationship with Jesus, and there is much that we can learn and be encouraged by from other followers of Jesus. However, I would not recommend this as the first book someone should read if they want to walk in freedom from sin or want to know what it means to be made free by Jesus Christ.
For someone that wants to walk in freedom and know what it means to be free, I would recommend reading Romans 6 or Colossians 3 or both of those books of Scripture in their entirety.
If you want to learn more about the book or even read the first chapter, you can do so here: You Are Free.
The Amazon links to the book 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!
I'm learning that the greatest thing I can do with my time is love God and find ways to love my neighbor. The heart of what I write and share is to love others. I pray that these curated finds bless you on the journey.
For those of us that are thinking through resolutions for the New Year: One Big Tip to Make Your Resolutions Stick.
For those of us that are looking to grow over this next year: Here I Raise my Ebenezer: How This Discipline Buoyed My 2016.
For those of us wanting to grow in self-control and avoid distraction: Lord, Deliver Me From Distraction
For those of us that struggle with giving up our preferences to count others as more significant: Lay Aside the Weight of Selfishness
For those of us that want to grow in God's grace and enjoy Jesus more (one of the best books I read this year): Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.
For those of us that want to know how to love God more: FLASHBACK: Loving God
Note: The Amazon link to the book mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
Have you ever thought about how God is different from you? If you're like me, you've recognized that there is a sure-fire difference between your finite, messy, and limited self and an infinite God, but have you ever taken time to think about the specific ways that God is different from you and been left in awe of His glory? Whether your answer is yes or no, I want to share a book with you that will make you think about these things.
When a book comes across my path that broadens my understanding of God through His Word, I can't help but share about it and recommend it to others. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin is one such book. If I could encourage you to read one book this year, other than well... the Bible, it would be this book.
Throughout the book, Jen lays out 10 character traits that make God different from us and what that means for our lives in light of God's character. On her website she shared that her purpose for writing the book was to show people how "meditating on God's character enriches our understanding of Scripture" and how "meditating on God’s character is intensely practical."
The gist: meditating on God's character affects our lives.
Here are the ten character attributes she touches upon in the book:
I wish that I could sit down with each of you over coffee or tea (or your hot drink of choice) and just talk about these different attributes of God, because they really leave me in awe of Him. I could talk about each of these attributes, and I'd love to devote a few blog posts in the future to them, but for right now I'll focus on one.
Jen takes a chapter to focus on one attribute at a time, and when I started reading the chapter about God's limitlessness, I was blown away. I often live my life as if I'm limitless - I try to accomplish all of the things on my list, try to keep up with all of my friends, or take care of all of the house chores. I live my life thinking that I'm limitless, in my pride, I try to rival God. There is no one like God though, and I am reminded daily that I am so limited. God has placed healthy boundaries over our lives, like sleep. However, He is not bound by the same limits that we are bound by.
How does this knowledge of God's limitlessness affect my life? Well, it gives me peace in the moments when I try to live like I don't have limits. When I feel overwhelmed by the amount of things I try to accomplish, a phrase enters my thoughts: You are limited, Madi, but God is limitless. It really frees me to submit to the boundaries God has placed in my life, like getting enough sleep, saying "no" to good things that hinder the best things, and guarding time for rest. Knowing that only God is limitless frees me from trying to rival God, and it makes me want to glorify and worship Him in the midst of my limits.
This is just one example of how this book has impacted me, and I could share more about the other attributes, but I want to leave you wanting to read this book for yourself and to explore the ways that God is different from us and why that is most certainly a good thing. So if you're looking for an excellent read, None Like Him by Jen Wilkin is definitely a book to add to your list.
The Amazon link to the book mentioned above is an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase this book, this blog is supported at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting She Laughs Without Fear!
I believe that sharing insightful blog posts is caring, so I like to devote posts specifically to sharing things that I've read that have been encouraging, inspiring, insightful, or helpful. Here is this week's round-up:
For those of us that desire to blog and are not sure whether we should write on a personal blog: Is Blogging Dead?
For those of us that struggle with exercising and finding joy in the discipline of exercise: Do You Exercise Like a Nonbeliever?
For those of us that want to read a book that will help us to be in awe of God: None Like Him.
For those of us that want to make changes to our bodies: Five Lies About Your Body
For those of us that have felt the sacrifice of loving others: On Sacrifice and Greater Love
May these articles encourage you on the journey.
A big theme of this 31 day series is that God's kingdom is more about His kingship and reign than a realm. As such, we've been focusing on how God is the King of this world, and what this entails. As I've been sharing what I've been learning, I also want to share with you what others are learning. Here are some more posts from Desiring God that fall in line with this series...
We Need a Real King
Happiness Honors the King
The King We Needed, But Never Wanted
The King of Every Subject - Even Math
You Obey the One You 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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She Laughs Without Fear