It's hard to believe that November is almost over and 2018 with it. It has been quite a year, and the Lord has proven faithful through all of it, even if it has turned out far different from what I expected or planned.
December is on the horizon with the longing and anticipation of the Christmas season. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. But the older I get the more the consumerism, hustle, and busyness of the season seeks to crowd out the peace and joy that so many Christmas songs celebrate. I'm learning more and more that peace, quiet, and joy isn't something that just happens to us, but rather something that we have to intentionally seek and guard space for in our lives.
Peace and joy ultimately doesn't come from our circumstances or everything getting crossed off our to-dos or wish lists. Peace and joy are ultimately found through resting in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
I've been thinking about peace and joy as my to-do list grows and the plans with family and friends keep rolling in. I want to intentionally carve space for peace and joy in this season through carving space to spend time resting in Jesus. It's difficult to guard that time in this season and in regular life, but I know that it will make this season all the more enjoyable.
One way that I've been preparing to spend time resting in Jesus in this season is by choosing a devotional to read for the Christmas season. This year I am reading Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope with my mom, and it started a few days ago. It has been very helpful so far in preparing my heart for this season and intentionally setting aside time to rest in Jesus. It's just one of many different devotionals and tools to help prepare our hearts to remember from where true peace and joy comes.
If you are looking for peace and joy in this season, might I recommend intentionally seeking it through guarding time to spend with Jesus. One way to do that is through reading passages of the Bible or even devotionals that help point our hearts towards peace and joy. Waiting Here for You is one such devotional, but there are many others. If this is something you are interested, I'll share a few other resources below. I pray that they bless you in this season.
She Reads Truth Advent Study: Until the Son of God Appears
Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional
The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas
The 25 Days of Christmas: A Family Devotional to Help You Celebrate Jesus
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and purchase a product, this blog will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for helping to support She Laughs Without Fear!
October is always a full month for me, but I am thoroughly enjoying the change of weather and colors here in the northeast. The changing of the seasons always reminds me of how God has made seasons to be a regular part of our lives, whether it is the physical changing of seasons or the changing of seasons in our personal lives. Change is a constant in this life, but one thing remains unchanging and that is the character of God. I have been dwelling on that truth in the midst of a lot of life change. While my life will always be changing, the God of the Bible remains the same.
One thing that does change regularly in my life is what books I'm reading. I'm an avid fan and advocate for reading. It's a simple pleasure that a lot of people do not take the time to enjoy. But I have found reading to be very life-giving in every season of my life. I thought I would share with you what I've been reading lately, and I'd love to hear about what you've been reading too! If there are any books you would recommend, share them in the comment section below. But here are a few books I've read over this past month:
French Women Don't Get Fat // Mireille Guiliano
I've been wanting to read this book for a few years, and I finally got a library card to go and check it out. If you are a francophile (a person that loves French culture like me) then you will likely enjoy this book. It is a fun book for just learning about ways that French people think about food and eating and staying healthy. While many of the things suggested are more difficult in the United States, it was still fascinating to think through the biblical principles of healthy eating that transcends cultures. This is not a Christian book but a lot of the things that she shared are biblical - like eating moderately and refraining from instant gratification when it comes to food.
Bringing Up Bébé // Pamela Druckerman
I had a month of reading books about French culture it seems, because this book was written by an American woman living and raising children in France and her observations of French parenting culture as well. I just find other cultures, particularly French culture fascinating. As Brandon and I prepare for having children of our own, I thought this is book was helpful in considering how other parents in other cultures raise their children.
There were a number of things in this book that Brandon and I will implement as we raise children. There were some things that I'm still thinking about, and other things that are either a matter of preference or I do not think would work well in our culture and in the ways that we would want to raise children.
One of the things that fascinated me the most is how French parents teach and educate their children to sleep at night and to practice waiting and not receiving instant gratification. The author made mention to how French children (by and large) do not throw as many tantrums as American children. It was interesting hearing this author's observations.
Deep Work // Cal Newport
I've been wanting to read this book for a few months and thankfully my local library had it as well. The tagline for this book is "Rules for Focused Living in a Distracted World", and that tagline sounded like a book that I needed to read. I'm in the middle of this book, but so far it has proved fruitful in helping me think about the ways that my phone, media, and other forms of technology really affect my focus when it comes to my work. This book is written towards those in the field of knowledge work (like computer programming or writing). However, Cal shares words and thoughts that transcend knowledge work.
If we're honest with ourselves, the blessings of technology far outweighs the ways that it distracts us and often hinders us from deep and meaningful work, even if our work is as a cashier at Panera. Technology creates barriers that often hinder us from doing the deep work of loving God and loving our neighbor.
I have a lot of thoughts from this book and will likely share more thoughts in the future, but in the present I would recommend this read if you are a knowledge worker looking to grow in focused living.
These are just a few books that I've been reading, but what have you been reading?
P.S. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and purchase a product this blog will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for helping to support She Laughs Without Fear!
We were made to share about good things with others. We share about the things that matter to us, the things that we love, and the things that we think would benefit our neighbor. Here are a few things that I've been itching to share with you.
The Power of One-on-One: Discovering the Joy and Satisfaction of Mentoring Others - excellent book about ministering to others. I devoured this book, and felt so encouraged in personally ministering to others.
How to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties - good stuff to think about.
Loving Your Husband Before You Even Have One - I wish I would have read this book in my early twenties, but if you want to be married one day, this article is one to read.
The Next Right Thing - I listen to this podcast every week and it is a simple pleasure during my week.
Look Up Child - this whole album by Lauren Daigle is wonderful
Jefferson Bethke's Instagram Post about home responsibilities for men and women.
Let me know if you visit, read, or listen to any or all of these links! I hope they bless you on your journey.
P.S. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and purchase a product this blog will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for helping to support She Laughs Without Fear!
What a wonderful season summer can be! I've found over the years that summer is the season in which I read the most. It's due primarily to having a different schedule which enables me to have more time to read and I'm able to read in more locations.
One of my favorite places to read is in my hammock tied between trees. I have yet to enjoy this delight of hammock reading this summer due to moving and international travels, but I hope to be able to tie up my hammock soon.
However, this has not stopped me from reading a number of books this summer. I have a new bedtime routine to thank for the added reading time. I've started going to bed a little earlier and spending an hour or so reading before bed to wind down. This new habit has increased my reading consumption, and it has helped me to actually fall asleep faster. Maybe it's something you'd like to try too?
Well without further ado, here are some books that I read this summer, and a few quick thoughts about them. I'd encourage you to pick up one of these to read for yourself.
All The Light We Cannot See
Synopsis: The interconnecting story of a young and blind French girl named Marie Laure and a young German boy named Werner. It is set during the period of World War II and tells of the story of the connection between these two people during the war.
Personal Thoughts: I could not put this book down, and I often found myself reading it late into the night just to find out what would happen to each of the characters.
Get the book: All the Light We Cannot See
The Power of One-On-One
Synopsis: Jim Stump (missionary to college athletes at Stanford University) shares stories of how God has used one-on-one mentoring to lead many people to Christ over the years of his ministry, and how you can apply the same techniques that he uses.
Personal Thoughts: This book was insightful and impactful. It made me eager to mentor others, to look at the Bible with them, to share the gospel clearly with others, and to be fervent in prayer. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to minister to others and help them to grow in their walk with Jesus.
Get the book: The Power of One-on-One: Discovering the Joy and Satisfaction of Mentoring Others
A Million Little Ways
Genre: Non-Fiction and Personal Growth
Synopsis: Emily P. Freeman shares about how we can live out the art we were made to create with our lives. Being made in the image of God, we are each made with the nature of being mini-creators after our Creator. Emily unpacks what this could like to live in light of this fact in your own life.
Personal Thoughts: I love everything that Emily P. Freeman writes and this book did not disappoint. It was encouraging to be reminded that I am made in the image of God and that my creative pursuits are a reflection of His creativity and his mark on me.
Get the book: A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live
In His Image
Genre: Non-Fiction and Theology
Synopsis: Jen Wilkin shares ten ways that we are made in the image of God and how that affects our daily lives.
Personal Thoughts: Are you sensing a theme from my summer reading? Unintentionally I've read a few books about being made in the image of God, and it has formed a lot of my thoughts this summer. I appreciate Jen Wilkin's writing as well, and I learned a lot from her in terms of her observations about the ways we image God's character. You can read a post that I wrote about additional thoughts from this book: God Is Not Amazon.
Get the book: In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character
Summer is drawing to an end, but if you're looking for a new book to read, might I suggest the ones above. It is a pleasure sharing about books with others, and if you're looking for other books to read, visit the recommended articles below.
The Ten Best Books I Read in 2017
The Discipline of Reading
When Your Phone Changes You
When Humility Brings Peace
I've been thinking about something for the past few months and it is this: there is something therapeutic about writing just for the joy of writing.
When I look at our culture, what I often see from others and within myself is this pressure to create for the sake of consumption. It's a pressure to write, create, have hobbies, and share our creativity and lives for the sake of money, success, likes, followers, significance, and sometimes to just prove ourselves. We offer up our time and talents for rewards that do not last.
A year ago, I was sitting on the beach with my family when I felt this intense urge to write begin to well up inside of me. I had a lot on my mind and in my heart and I needed to write it down on paper to make sense of everything I was thinking and feeling. With my journal and a pen, I set myself up with a chair in the sand and before I knew it I had written for two hours. My hand hurt from writing, but my soul felt at peace. And I thought to myself, "Why don't I do this more often? Why don't I just write for the joy of writing my heart out?"
For the past year, I've asked myself that same question.
If I'm honest with myself, I regularly fall into the temptation to write for the praise of man. I find a deep joy and satisfaction in writing to help and love people, but I can tell when my motives are in the wrong place. When I'm writing to love people, the words come easily. When I'm writing for praise, I get stuck. Have you ever had this happen to you, not just with writing, but with other pursuits?
I've felt a little stuck for a few months, and I realized 1. My motivation for writing has been for the praise of people and 2. It was sucking the fun and joy out of writing.
Writing is something that I've always enjoyed. I feel like I am my most honest self when I am writing, particularly when I can just journal my heart out and talk with God in the process.
So that's what I've been doing. For the past few months, I've just been writing for the joy of writing. I haven't shared much writing on here or on social media because I've just been enjoying writing for pleasure. And guess what? I love it! It helps me to get everything out of my head and onto a page. I've also found that it inspires me to write more things out of a love for people rather than a love for praise.
I've also been learning that sometimes I need to write faster than my hand can follow, which means that I've been trying to type up my thoughts rather than writing by hand. For those of you that know me well, you know that I love beautiful journals, but for this season I get the sense that typing is more helpful for getting out my thoughts than using my handwriting.
If you are someone that really wants to write, I hope this encourages you to just write for the joy of writing. You don't need to have a "successful" blog or following to be a writer. You just need to write. And that goes for a myriad of other hobbies.
So if you, like me, feel this overwhelming desire to write, get yourself a journal, open a Google Doc, use Evernote, or even just use a note-taking app on your phone. Whatever you use, may I encourage you today to just write for the sake of writing and the joy that comes from this simple pleasure.
Today is Amazon Prime day! That means that if you are a member of Amazon Prime, there are a number of deals going on today that might be worth looking into. One of my favorite deals every year is their discount code for print book purchases. With the code PRIMEBOOKS18, you can get $5 off of a book purchase over $20. For book lovers like me, that's a good deal!
If you want to buy a new book but are not sure where to start, I've curated a list of some current recommended reads. They are organized by category below:
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.
In His Image by Jen Wilkin - she explores 10 ways that we are made to reflect God's Character.
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 Christianity and addresses things that most Christians do not think about, like what eternity will really be like. See review here.
To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson- the biography of Adoniram Judson - the first missionary from the United States. I could not put this biography down.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines - they story of how this couple started their lifestyle brand Magnolia which led to the HGTV show, Fixer-Upper
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - historic romance novel based of the biblical story of Hosea.
Circle Series by Ted Dekker - just finished reading this series. It's one of Brandon's favorites and it's excellent.
I could recommend more books, but this is a good list to start. Don't forget to add the code PRIMEBOOKS18 at checkout to receive your discount. If you don't have Amazon Prime, you can try it for free with a 30 day trial and receive the discount.
P. S. What I'm Buying
In case you were wondering what books I'm buying on this Amazon Prime Day, I bought Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp (only $5.42 right now), The Memoir Project by Marion Smith, and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I'll keep you posted on how I like them.
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!
It was the summer of 2014, and I was living in Poland for a few weeks. I was working alongside local missionaries and churches with a team for the summer, and we had decided to hike a mountain for pierogi. You heard me, pierogi. (In Poland, the plural for pierogi does not have an "s" and since living there I've adopted saying it that way.) Anyway, we decided to hike a mountain for pierogi.
A three hour hike would bring us to this little restaurant sitting on top of a mountain in Poland, and we were promised that the food and the views were well worth the hike. So hike we did. Only, I hate hiking... with other people that are faster than me. You see, I have little legs and a stout body, and that makes hiking difficult when people are more slender and athletic than me. I like to take my time, meander, and allow my heart and lungs time to catch up. But not everyone is like me. And so my little heart started this particular hike with a bitter, grumbling posture.
My friends were very kind in waiting for me, taking breaks, and walking slower so that I could keep up. And you know what, as we reached some of the view points and as we got closer to the top, my bitter, grumbling heart and attitude starting changing. The closer we were to the end, the greater perspective I had. When we finally reached the top, my attitude and bitterness were completely forgotten, and it was because the hike had been worth it. The views were spectacular. The food was amazing, and we had an all around good time.
You see, this hike taught me an important lesson about life. Sometimes you have to endure hard things if you want to get to the good thing. You have to endure the hard hike if you want to get to the views and the pierogi. Something that I have been reminded of recently is that the same is actually true when it comes to our spiritual life: we do not get resurrected life apart from dying.
The Bible has a lot to say about the resurrection of the dead. In fact, the core of Christianity is wrapped up in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus' resurrected body is what convinced the early Christians to give their lives to sharing about Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and this message cost them their lives. But you see, their hope was in their own future resurrection with Christ. Because Christ died and rose from the dead, they knew that they would rise with him as well.
But in order for Christ to rise from the dead, death was inevitable. And the same goes for Christians. In order to get the resurrected life and life everlasting, we have to die first.
I'm eager to experience the resurrection of the dead one day and meet my Maker face-to-face, in a new body, with no brokenness, evil or sin. What else could a girl ask for? But in order to resurrect, I will one day have to die first, and that will not be pleasant. But what awaits on the other side makes it so much easier to endure.
I've been thinking about this today as I remember my time in Poland and the lessons that it taught me. One lesson I will never forget is the lesson I learned on that mountain and how it pointed my heart to the hope of the resurrection and the life everlasting. Amen.
If you would like to learn more about my trip to Poland and the things that God taught me through that trip, you can see and read all of the posts here.
This post is part of a series called Longing For Home. You can read some or all of the other posts from this series here as well.
One of the things that I enjoy doing here on the blog is sharing about edifying and encouraging content that I've stumbled upon. One of the joys of the interwebs is that it connects us to a myriad of other people.
When I was a sophomore in college, I stumbled upon Emily P. Freeman's blog. At that time, it was called Chatting At The Sky. Since then, she has written several books and released a podcast.
While I don't know Emily personally, I have found a kindred spirit in her writings and creative pursuits.
A year ago she released the first episode of a Podcast called The Next Right Thing. It's a podcast for anyone and everyone in the midst of the regular decisions of life.
While Brandon and I've had a number of different life decisions over this past year, sometimes I just listened to her podcast to listen to the ways that she tells and weaves stories about life.
If you're in the midst of a big life decision or just looking for a podcast that will encourage, inspire, and wake you up gently in the morning, this one is for you!
It's Simply Tuesday - my book review of one of Emily's books.
I waited several months for Jen Wilkin's new book In His Image to release, and it did not disappoint. I devoured it over the past few days, but I'm still taking time to savor it and think through its implications for my life.
Simply, In His Image is a book about the attributes of God that mankind has the privilege of imaging. In fact, when we image God's character in our daily lives, we live out our truest identity as image bearers. I have more to write and share about this along with a review of In His Image. But for now, there is something that Jen Wilkin wrote in this new book that I felt compelled to write and share about.
It comes from the chapter titled "God Most Patient". You can see where this is going.
This paragraph describes my struggles with being impatient and trusting God's timing. Does it describe your struggles as well?
We live in an Amazon culture - where we expect and demand that things happen on our timeline, but God is not Amazon and his timeline is often different from ours.
Instead of frustrating us, God's patient control over our lives should humble us. If we serve the God of the Bible, we serve a God not made with human hands. He does not play by our rules nor bend to our will, but instead he calls us to live, breathe, play by, and bend to his rules and his timeline.
We're all waiting for something, and I hope that this encourages you today as God calls you to patiently wait where ever you are. God is not Amazon, and he is infinitely greater at providing good things on his delivery schedule.
Even though God is not Amazon, if you wish to read the book In His Image, you can visit Amazon via the link above to order it. Any purchase made through that link will provide this blog with a small commission at no additional cost to yourself. Your purchase enables me to buy more books to review and share. Thank you for supporting the fun labors of She Laughs Without Fear.
Two months ago my husband, a dear friend, and I made the trek down to Florida. It was a spur of the moment few days away in the midst of a Pennsylvanian winter. We returned home to a snow storm that left us without power for six days, but the week that we spent in Florida was a much needed rest and retreat in the midst of winter.
I've been learning a lot about rest over the past year, and something I keep thinking about is how vacation and rest are actually good for the soul and help us to flourish in the work we are made to do. Work is not a bad thing. Our souls and bodies were actually made for fruitful work and labor, but we often work to the point of burn out and exhaustion and we lose sight of the joy and blessing of fruitful work. Taking time to rest actually helps us to be refreshed and gives us a fresh perspective on our work.
In my case, taking time to rest gave me the refreshment I needed to continue discipling students and leading Bible studies in the midst of a busy semester. Sometimes a good rest is needed.
In celebration of rest, here are some photos from our recent trip to Florida and our time at Disney and Universal Studios. (These are primarily for you, my family!)
Welcome! 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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