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What I Learn

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

It’s been fun rediscovering a love for reading these past few months. I told you already about my beloved new library card, and it still makes me so excited. If you’re in a reading slump or on the hunt for some fresh options, dive into one of these five:


She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away
Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams

I read this book after hearing one of the authors on my favorite podcast. Myers and Williams share their stories in alternating chapters and weave them together beautifully by showing that even though our circumstances are all very different and constantly changing, there is ultimately “One Hero and one Story” that does not change. This was a life-shaping read for me. Also, I was 7 weeks pregnant and bawled a whole lot.

Whether you are on a mountain or in a valley in your life right now, this book is for you. I’m not usually a repeat reader but I want to read this again soon.


The Magnolia Story
Chip and Joanna Gaines

Be still my heart. I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard “Fixer Upper” fan, mostly because I don’t have a TV, but I’ve walked my fair share of miles on the treadmill in the gym just so I could catch Chip and Joanna work their magic in Waco.

After reading their story, I have so much respect and love for the Gaines family. Their faith and philosophy on family and home life is sweet and inspiring. If you read this, you may feel less sad about the end of “Fixer Upper.” Maybe.  I hear that the audible version of this book with Chip and Jo narrating is really wonderful.  


Harry Potter
J. K. Rowling

I didn’t start the Harry Potter series until I was a junior in high school, soon before the 7th and final book was published. I loved them then and now. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 or 100; the series is full of whimsy, suspense, and fun! So far I’ve re-read the first five and am taking a break to read more adult-y books. Oh, I will return.


Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
Shauna Niequist

At the risk of sounding bossy, READ THIS BOOK if you’re at all interested in food, hospitality, or friendship. I love how each tiny chapter tells a meaningful story from Niequist’s life, and most are followed by a recipe. This read came at the perfect time. I’m so interested in hospitality and want to make every recipe in the book. So far I’ve made Blueberry Crisp, Breakfast Quinoa, Green Well Salad, and White Chicken Chili.

I also adored Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect, another memoir-style that deeply challenged me on what’s important in life and how being less busy can help us “accomplish” more.


Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
Pamela Druckerman

This was an interesting read. The author compares American and French parenting when it comes to things like meals, child care, crying babies, and bending – or not bending – to a child’s every whim. It’s not a “how-to” book on parenting but provides a glimpse into Druckerman’s experience of French culture, which I appreciated.

The downside: I felt like she made sweeping generalizations about both cultures. (French people simply don’t snack between meals? French babies sleep through the night earlier than American babies? French children aren’t picky eaters?) I took those with a grain of salt. The book as a whole provided some techniques to chew on, and I liked her quirky writing. Two out of five stars.

Now I’m reading Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler and Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and enjoying them both so far. What are you currently reading? Comment below. I’d love to hear!

What I Learn

the happy hour LIVE! and Saying Yes

Have you ever stumbled upon a Best Day Ever kind of day? A day so unbelievably and perhaps unexpectedly splendid that you are totally in the moment, listening to every word, smelling every scent, tasting every morsel, enjoying every minute? I think these days can (and should!) happen more than once, but they are rare, and you can’t force them.

Friday was a Best Day Ever kind of day. My dear friend Ashley flew down from Illinois, and we  attended the happy hour LIVE! with Jamie Ivey just outside of Austin in Elgin, Texas. Since becoming faithful fans of Jamie’s podcast, Ashley and I have had this event on our bucket list. I am so grateful we had the opportunity to make it happen! The 30 hours we spent together after eight whole months apart was invaluable, and the event was all I had hoped it would be and more.

We got all gussied up, stepped onto the Pinterest perfect Green Acres scene, had our photos taken in the photo bus, talked with the gracious and lovely Jamie, noshed on a delicious Venezuelan dinner by Four Brothers in Austin, dove into our swag bags of so many goodies including Noonday earrings and a She Reads Truth Bible(!), and gathered under the stars with over 100 other women who love Jesus and love to laugh. (Side note: new bucket list item is to go glamping at Green Acres.)

In the words of Jamie herself, the night was “an amazing beat down.” It was one of those magical settings that made me pause with gratitude and awe at getting to be included. I felt pretty. I felt joyful being surrounded by lots of smiling women. Best of all, I felt community. Community is its own kind of fun. I need it badly. And God knows that.

In Annie Downs’ book Let’s All Be Brave, she writes about how she promised herself she’d say yes to all opportunities to be with new people when she first moved to Nashville. So lately, back in Tyler, God is sending this introverted girl opportunities to say yes to community – through going back to a vibrant, local church even though I haven’t tried all the other ones, through the local women’s Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and through invitations to do this or that with new friends and with old friends passing through – a picnic, a meal at home, an impromptu visit to the zoo, even to babysit for an hour. Of course, I can and want to take the initiative at times to reach out to others, but how sweet it is of Jesus to give us opportunities to say yes.

What opportunities has He given you lately?

What I Learn

Heart Hums on Trusting God Now

wonderfelle.com

 

trust

/trəst/ verb:  believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.

synonyms: rely on, depend on, bank on, count on, be sure of

Shouldn’t trusting God come naturally to Christians? I sometimes think this and want it to be true. I belong to God; shouldn’t it follow that I trust him with what’s already his . . . me? At seven years old, I answered God’s tug on my heart, proclaiming to my parents, my church, and my own heart that Jesus is the best. Wasn’t I saying yes to trusting him forever, like a one and done kind of thing?

But some days, trusting God – with my today, with my tomorrows, with my finances, with my marriage, with my unborn baby, with every part of my life – seems so much easier than others. If I’m being honest, trusting God seems easy when life seems easy. But am I really trusting him in those times, or am I just relying on myself because it seems like I can handle things, all the while pretending that’s what trusting God looks like? (Of course that’s an illusion – I can never really “handle things” on my own.)

It’s in the challenging seasons when trusting God gets real. That’s when we lean into him, stare at his beautiful face because we don’t have the strength to look anywhere else, and see the grace he shows in giving us another breath.

I’ve had a song on repeat lately called “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells. The chorus goes like this: “On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there / In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there / When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own / When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone / You’re the God of the hills and valleys . . . and I am not alone.”

I love these words. Whether we’re in the middle of the best time in our life or the hardest, we’re standing in God’s grace, and his grace is enough.

For me, this season of change is both a challenge and a joy, and so some days I feel like I’m looking out on top of a mountain and others I’m tiptoeing through a dark, cold valley. (The pregnancy hormones also may have something to do with these feelings.) I have this brand new opportunity to explore a new city, make new friends, become a part of a new church community, make a new home, and learn what it looks like to be productive without a job. It’s so exciting and so terrifying. And it’s much more exciting than terrifying when I choose to trust God. Here are a few verses from the Bible about trusting God. (All verses from ESV translation)

On Trusting God

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26.4

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’” Isaiah 30.15

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3.5

“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs 16.20

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29.25

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37.5

On God’s Trustworthiness

We’ve established the command to trust God. Here are some verses that describe God as trustworthy.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41.10

“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19.7

“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.” Psalm 111.7

 

What about you? Do you find it difficult at times to trust God? What does it look like for you to trust God today?

xoxo,

Sar