A couple of years ago I read the quote, “If you want to become a better writer – simply read.”
At the time, I was not an avid reader, but I diligently pledged I would keep up with reading for that very reason (to strengthen my writing). After a while, it soon became one of my favorite ways to “turn off the world,” to “rest,” and “to just be.”
What I’m reading, and why this discussion is important:
I like to think of content [images, media, words, instagrams, youtubes, yada] – as food. How am I feeding myself? Am I unhealthy / healthy? Have I had too little? Too much? Is it good for me? Is it making me better? Or am I eating what everyone else is eating?
It may look good on the outside, but on the inside – I don’t feel so good.
A lot of our unhealthy thoughts are the by-product of filling our minds with the wrong food. This happens subconsciously – via whatever content, words, and images you choose to put inside your mind. We are the stewards of our actions; we choose how to spend our free time.
So here we are, ’tis the season “inside,” locked away from the rest of the world. Sure, Tik Tok is fun, Netflix is great and IG Story has a ton of hilarious memes (guilty as charged, sorry not sorry). But those things will always be there, and it’s our decision to set a boundary at some point and spend this time wisely. Are we gaining knowledge and wisdom, or are we just passing the time? Are we learning how to become better versions of ourselves in this season (one where we actually have the luxury of free time), or are we just doing what everyone else is telling us to do? It’s up to you, it’s up to me. And it’s our decision to choose wisely.
Over the last few years, I’ve filtered through tons of Christian self-help books and devotionals – landing at the Word of God. I’ve also skimmed through tons of fiction novels and murder mysteries (I like trying to solve the mystery before the end – it’s the enneagram 3 in me yanno) for fun. Adding in some Bible studies and also a few book clubs that are fun too. I’ve linked a lot of these books to Walmart (free shipping and returns) and Amazon (prime). Let’s dig in:
- Jesus Calling – The OG. Simplified and easy to read, I recommend this devotional to beginners in the word, since I started here myself. Read the scripture verses at the end of each devotional, and try looking them up in your Bible. It’s a really good way to get an idea of where the different books are in the Bible.
- New Morning Mercies – A sharpened writer, Paul David Tripp is excellent and challenging. One of the most popular devotionals to boot and one of my personal favorites
- Journaling – Not a devotional – just a type to a carte your devotional time. Invest in a journal – and try journaling with devotional or scripture reading. This is my favorite time of the entire day and I can’t live without it (before I was a believer, my mornings were always anxious and rushed – now I set my alarm an hour earlier to start the day seeking peace). Use this season to train yourself to start the day with quiet time and meditation – journaling, whether it’s prayer journaling or just journaling emotions and feelings and daily thanks. You can find two on my shop, here and here.
- The Jesus Bible – My best recommendation for beginners to the Word. This specific Bible is huge – but with good reason. It’s packed with summaries and explanations in each chapter of scripture, making the word more understandable for those it intimidates. It also ties every story and passage back to Jesus – hence its name, the Jesus Bible. This bible was my launching pad for really starting to get into the word, and learn it well.
- NIV or ESV Journaling Bible – If you’ve graduated from a study Bible, a journaling Bible is my favorite way to go. If you are creative like me – fun Bible highlighters that don’t bleed through pages, help make the process more colorful and exciting. Journaling Bibles have blank columns on the side, allowing you to write notes or re-write verses–a great way to memorize scripture. Tip: NIV and ESV are my top two recommended translations for studying the Word of God (NIV = I think is easiest, ESV = most churches use; you will be equipped well with either translation). A translation is the way scripture is translated from it’s original language (Hebrew) to modern day English.
*(The Bible I instagram often is my grandma’s Bible in version NLT; it is around 50 years old and has been to Israel and back twice and cannot be linked 🙂 ).
My Current Bible Study:
- Trustworthy Bible Study – Written by my sweet friend, Lysa Terkerst, this is by far the best Bible study I’ve ever experienced. Believe it or not – it’s on 1 and 2 Kings – but we can learn a lot about the future by reading history – and the Old Testament is packed with nutrients that teach us to lean in and trust God more – especially in this time. There is so much to be learned about the pattern of human history, how we make our own decisions and how God gives us free will to do so. Lysa does a remarkable job of highlighting this – and teaches us to trust God through the ups and downs of life. Everything Lysa writes is stellar, so I’m excited to read some of her other Bible studies when I finish.
- The Circle Maker – will forever change the way you pray. This book deeply molded my prayer walk and inspired me to pray with intention and persistence – it’s packed with miraculous real stories of God answering epic and bold prayers. If you want to be encouraged and inspired – do yourself a favor and order it.
- Get Out of Your Head – is megaphoning an important message for this time, and important message for this generation. My sweet friend Jennie Allen’s best seller focuses around the spiritual battle of toxic thoughts and setting you free from lies that are holding you down in negative thought patterns. Can we just take a moment and realize how deeply we all need to open up this conversation and stir awareness about what’s going on in our heads? Jennie also touches on how we perceive God affects how we think of ourselves. This. is. a Must. Read. Especially. Right. Now.
- The Tipping Point – I need to put this on my list to read again! If you didn’t read it in high school, do it with me now!
- Your Mess Matters – by Luke Lezon. Luke is a friend, speaker, and author of this encouraging and relatable read – packed with personal and vulnerable stories and Luke’s encouraging voice. Luke authors a strong reminder that in our messiness, God is redeeming, sovereign, and loving though it all. This season is also a good time to dive deeper into how God puts together our messy puzzle pieces.
- It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way / Uninvited – two of my favorite books by Lysa Terkerst. Lysa is the best author I know on handling trauma and grief — while remaining steadfast in the Lord but finding healthy ways to heal.
Fiction / Non-Fiction Book Clubs and Resources I love:
- My sweet friend Caitlin’s Book Recommendations (see here) and Facebook Book Club
- Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club
(Below are a few of the fiction / mystery novels I have read in the past couple of months – I loved them all! If you get scared *super* easily, it’s probably not your thing, but these aren’t that that scary. 🙂 )
- In a Dark, Dark Wood
- The Last House Guest
- The Woman in Cabin 10
- I Am Watching You
- The Woman in the Window
- Crazy Rich Asians – fiction (not a murder mystery)
Top Bible Studies Recommended by @my_darling_diary Audience:
- Trustworthy (my current study), Uninvited (popular rec) and Embraced (devotional) by Lysa Terkeurst
- Seamless Study (most recommended study)
- Chase Study by Jennie Allen
- Armor of God & Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer
- Praying God’s Word Day by Day by Beth Moore
- All She Reads Truth studies (Romans study was recommended most)
Hope you guys liked this and found it helpful! 🙂 Xo Jessi