My Top Five Spring Reading Picks for 2019!

It's Spring, it's Spring and it actually feels like it!  I know I can only speak for myself but in my part of the country the sun is shining, it's warm, and I am LIVING for it.  This girl does not do snow well and I am so happy to finally see it go!  I have my windows open, my girls are running in and out of the backyard all day (no jackets, no shoes!), and I can now take my reading outside!  Does it actually get any better than that?

I have to be completely honest, I have not been reading as much lately because I have been so busy and with a pregnancy to top things off I am finding it hard to just relax with a book.  BUT I am still reading when I can.  It's just happening a bit slower than normal.  Life has it's seasons too, ya know?

If you have been following me for the last couple years then you will know that if there is one thing that gets me particularly excited about reading it is the changing of the seasons.  I don't know why but there is something so fresh that comes along with it and I love for my reading to reflect the new.

So just like years past here are my top five reading picks for Spring:

1.  Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

I had been thinking of reading this book for a long time and then one day at the bookstore I came across a beautiful illustrated edition and decided that I couldn't pass it up.  I am so glad I finally got around to it!  The story, told in the form of allegory, follows a young woman named Much-Afraid who lives her days in fear.  However, one day the Chief Shepherd whom she is in service of, invites her to the High Places where she will find a new name and a life of freedom.  Once Much-Afraid agrees we follow her along her journey of transformation where she will face many trials and tribulations.  Though much of her journey seems impossible she finds herself able by the presence of her Shepherd.

This allegory outlines the human condition, its ultimate reliance on God, and how He alone turns our sorrows into joy.  I love that this story points to that stark reality but it does it with such tender and grace.  Over and over I found myself moved to tears by its compassionate tone, by the way it addresses the character of God.

Its just so beautiful and a perfect read for anytime of the year but especially Spring because in this book, the old dies away and then all at once the new shoots up in its place.

"She had the feeling that somehow, in the very far-off places, perhaps even in far-off ages, there would be a meaning found to all sorrow and an answer too fair and wonderful to be as yet understood."

- Hannah Gurnard, Hinds' Feet on High Places

2.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I recommended this a few years ago but it is honestly one of my all time favorite books.  It's just one of those books that has just stuck with me and I really hope to re-read it again very soon.  If you don't already know, Anne of Green Gables follows an 11-year-old orphan girl who is learning to navigate life in her new home of Avonlea.  Anne is a girl bursting at the seams with imagination and she just this palpable joy for life, even as a fictional character.  I definitely think she would be a four on the enneagram!  She's not perfect and a little bit dramatic but it all just adds to her charm.  I absolutely loved reading about Anne and all of her adventures but aside from her character L.M. Montgomery did such an amazing job at describing the setting of Avonlea.  This story takes you through all four seasons but you come upon Spring and you will be wanting to pack up your things and move to Canada as soon as possible.

I could go on about this book for days but in the spirit of Anne I will just say:  this book is an absolute a delight, like ice cream on a summer day or a braid full of flowers.  I would suggest reading it underneath a blooming cherry tree or perhaps you could climb to the very top and read it there.  Either way it is simply impossible to imagine that you would ever regret picking it up!

"I had made up my mind that if you didn't come for me to-night I'd go down the track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it and stay all night.  I wouldn't be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don't you think?" 

- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

3.  My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

My Plain Jane is part of a companion series called the Lady Janies (You do not have to read the books in order).  The three brilliant authors retell stories of different Janes throughout history and literature.  I fell in love with the first in the series, My Lady Jane and this one was no different.

My Plain Jane takes a behind the scenes look at a classic tale in which you thought you knew so well, Jane Eyre.  The twist involves a hilarious though grand supernatural ghost hunt that will have you laughing out loud.  Its pretty easy for books to make me cry.  Laugh, not so much but this book did that for me!  I also love how the authors turned Charlotte Bronte and the character she created, Jane Eyre into this awesome dynamic duo, so fun!  Its clever and spontaneous and just plain (pun intended) funny!

"For everyone who's ever fallen for the wrong person, even though we agree that Mr. Darcy looks good on paper...and in a wet shirt.  And for England (again).  We're really sorry about what we are about to do to your literature." 

- Cynthia Hand, My Plain Jane 

4.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

YA Contemporary is not something I pick up a whole lot.  It's just not a genre that I normally lean towards but this was an exception for me.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before follows a girl named Lara Jean and over the years she has written a love letter to each of the boys she has loved from afar (I think there are five in total).  Writing these letters was simply a way to get her feelings out on paper, they were just meant for her.  So she puts them in a box that remains safely under her bed until one day they accidentally get mailed out.  We get to see Lara Jean deal with the fallout that comes with each letter.

It's definitely your typical oowy gooey YA contemporary so it boarder lines on cheesy but I personally loved it.  It does have the romance but it also focuses on family relations as well, which I thought was a really nice touch.  This is a three book series so you get to follow along for awhile.  I found myself a little sad when it was all over, which for me is a good sign.  Overall I think its a sweet, easy read and perfect for this time of year!

Also, if you have not seen the Netflix adaptation I highly recommend it, it did not disappoint.  I feel like Noah Centineo is totally the new Zac Efron so if that doesn't convince you.....

"My letters are for when I don't want to be in love anymore.  They're for good-bye.  Because after I write my letter, I'm no longer consumed by my all-consuming letters set me free.  Or at least they're supposed to." 

-Jenny Han, To All the Boys I've Loved Before 

5.  Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

If you read my last blog post then you will know how much I love this book.  I read this about two years ago and it fundamentally changed the way that I approach reading and studying scripture.  Jen Wilkin's wisdom through this book has really helped me not only become disciplined in reading my Bible but also has helped me deeply fall in love with it!

If you read one book from this list read this one!  It will challenge you to dig deeper and to think deeper about who God is.

"We must make a study of our God:  what he loves, what he hates, how he speaks and acts.  We cannot imitate God whose features and habits we have never learned.  We must make a study of him if we want to become like him.  We must seek his face." 

Jen Wilkin, Women of the Word 

BONUS.  Pretty City London by Siobhan Ferguson

Okay, I admit I am cheating a little bit here because this book is technically a coffee table book BUT it is so stunning, I had to include it!  If you don't know, London is number ONE on my list of travel destinations.  There is just something about this city that has me wanting to explore every nook and cranny.  I once had a layover at the Heathrow airport but that just didn't do it for me haha!  I remember flying over London and thinking to myself:  "I just can't wait to come back here and actually leave the airport!"

Anyways I have been following the Pretty City London Instagram page for a long time now and have completely fallen in love so when I found out there was a book being published, I freaked.  It was everything I thought it would be.  It's just full of the most beautiful pictures and it's giving me plenty of Spring inspiration and a whole lot of FOMO too haha!  But I am still keeping my hopes up.  One day, London, I'm coming for you!

Maybe sometime soon I will do my top five favorite coffee table books!  That would be fun!

I hope you enjoyed this year's Spring reading list!  Let me know if you have read any of these books, what are your thoughts.  Also, I would love to hear your suggestions as well, comment down below.  Have the best weekend ever!

How I Study My Bible!

Hi guys!  Today I am so excited to share with you all some of the things I do in order to study my Bible.  I've been thinking about sharing a post on this subject for a really long time but have just never gotten around to doing it.  One of the biggest reasons is probably because I have felt inferior.  I am no Bible scholar and no expert.  I still face my fair share of difficulties when it comes to understanding this ancient text.  But over the past couple years I have really been trying to push myself to be bold in sharing the Lord's heart and to answer His calling on my life to be bold.

I may be inferior in the shadow of scholars and theologians but here is the bottom line:  I love God's word.

I really, really do.  It had taken me nearly 24 years of my life for me to finally come to this place but here I am, head over heels so how can I keep it to myself?  I am passionate about encouraging people to open scripture every single day because there is so much freedom in it.  It is undeniable.  It takes time, it takes patience, it takes discipline.  But if you just open up your life to it you are going to see Jesus, you are going to learn God's true character, and you are going to fall in love.

I promise.

By the way, you might want to get yourself a snack or a cup of coffee.  I think this is going to be a long one!

So where do I start?

I will start with the kind of Bible I use.  For several years I have been reading out of the She Reads Truth Bible and I absolutely adore it.  I chose the blue leather cover because it reminded me of the Bible my mother used when I was growing up.  It's not important but personal to me.  Throughout the text there are beautiful illustrations and maps and devotions that just catch your eye.  I love how carefully designed this Bible is because that's who our Creator is.  He carefully and intentionally crafts to makes things beautiful.  How lovely that His Word reflect that?  The thing that really sold me on this particular Bible though is the introductions.  At the beginning of each book there is a brief introduction that gives background on cultural context, message & purpose, and biblical significance.  Each book is also color coded by literary style.  All of these things have become important to me while studying scripture.  I will delve into them a little deeper in a moment.

Overall this is such a beautifully designed Bible and it has been such a blessing to me but I do want to  clarify that it doesn't matter in the least what kind of Bible you are reading.  As long as you are reading you are going to hear the Lord's voice.  I personally love sitting with a physical Bible but if you are into modern technology and convenience, the YouVersion app is a great option as well.  I love using YouVersion when I want to look up different translations quickly, its great for that!  Ultimately, you find what works for you and then run with that!

Now, Let's Get to Reading!

1.  Prayer:  before I start reading I always start off in prayer.  It's usually real quick and simple but I always want to be intentional about asking for the aide of the Holy Spirit.  I just ask Him to open up my mind and my heart to hear the Lord's voice and also that He would give me wisdom to discern what is being spoken.

2.  Introductions:  when I come to the beginning of a book I always read the introduction.  This is important because the Bible is living and breathing, which means that it holds significance in every life living in every generation.  But it was also written during certain time periods that are far different than the time we are living in today.  For this reason we have to take that into consideration. By getting an overview of the cultural context in which each book was written we can gain better insight on who God is and how the text can apply to our life today.

For an example I am going to use the ever avoided book of Leviticus.  In short, Leviticus is filled with a whole lot of laws or commandments.  There are 613 to be exact.  That's a lot of laws!!! But now let's look at the cultural significance.  Leviticus was written after God had brought the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, during their 40 years of wandering in the desert.  During this time, God had established a covenant with Moses in order that He could abide among His people.  This is a holy God.  It is impossible for God and sin to exist together.  So God made a way through a series of laws for His people to still receive His blessing, despite their sin.  613 laws may seem unreasonable but rather it should point to how holy God truly is!

Now we can consider the book of Leviticus through the context of our culture today.  We are not living in a pre-Messianic age as they were in the time that this was written.  2,000 years ago, Christ died for our sins and fulfilled the law of Moses.  Now we can read it and get a better understanding of the backbreaking burden of the law and how we ultimately needed a Savior to cancel it out.  We read it and give thanks as we marvel at the abounding grace shown at the cross.  Leviticus is purposeful in pointing towards a holy God and furthermore to a humble Christ who bridged the gap between God and His people, not by law but by love and sacrifice.

3.  Notes / Commentary:  95% of the time I like to study scripture alongside commentary.  My favorite destination for devotionals is She Reads Truth.  I pick a devotional based on either a book or a subject and then use their app to follow along their reading plan.  Before I enter into their commentary I like to take as many notes as I can on my own.  This challenges me to slow down, process, and really take in what I am reading.  This is where I get out my trusty highlighters.  I keep my highlighters and a selection of pens and pencils in a zip-lock baggie.  That way I can easily find them and easily bring them to wherever I choose to study that day.  Some days its in my bed and other days its at the table.  It just depends on my mood.

While I am reading, I look for things that really stick out to me, things that really give me a better understanding of who God is, what His truth is, and how it applies to my life.  If I find something I will highlight it and then write a note beside it.  My notes range from a simple word of praise, a prayer, or a paraphrase of the passage itself.  This keeps me active in my reading and pushes me to seek true understanding rather than just passively reading.

After I take my own notes (I also keep a notebook with me to write in, just in case I have more things to say than a margin will allow me) I will then move on to commentary.  I love seeking the wisdom of others who have been anointed to interpret scripture in their own way.  It's always been a blessing to me and I have had my fair share of "aha!" moments by looking at scripture through the eyes of others.  I would only suggest that you research your commentator before you put your full trust in them.  You want to make sure that their foundational beliefs align with your own.  Remember that you are seeking commentary in order to better equip you to hear the Lord's voice for yourself.  You don't want to seek guidance from someone who is going to sway your foundational beliefs from one way to another.

4.  Connecting the dots:  All of scripture points to Jesus.  He is there from the beginning of Genesis, to the end of Revelation, and everywhere else in between.  The Word of God is truly seamless.  So when I am reading scripture I am always looking for Jesus.  I am looking at who He is, what He has done, what He promises, what He has called me to, and lastly, I count the ways that He has chosen to display His love for me.  This is personally, what I love most about studying the Bible:  finding Jesus.

If I am reading in Matthew about the birth of Jesus then I can go all the way back to the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament to see that Christ was promised from the beginning and that in Matthew the prophecy was being fulfilled.

Now, if I am reading in Acts 5:41-42 it says this:  "Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they  were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.  Every day in the temple, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah."

I can then go back to Matthew 5:10 where Jesus proclaims this in His Sermon on the Mount:  "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs."  

I make the connection that Christ has called us to a place of boldness and because of Christ's promise of the coming Kingdom we can proclaim the gospel with faith and confidence.  Even in the midst of persecution.  This is what the apostles showcased in the book of Acts and it's because Jesus had once spoken this truth and this power over them.  What was true for the apostles then is true for us now.

I could go on forever but you see?  Jesus is everywhere.  Try and make these connections while you are reading!

5. Art:  The last thing that I wanted to talk about is art.  If something really sticks out to me then sometimes I consider turning it into artwork in the margin.  It's usually a quick doodle or a fancy script but it helps me stay engaged.  Also, like I talked about earlier when it comes to creation sometimes God's word just inspires me to create and so in the end I just use it as an offering of praise.  I try not to overdo it and make it about me but just a little something to glorify Him as I seek to take in and remember His Word.


I wanted to list a few of my favorite resources that I have used in my own journey of falling in love with reading scripture.  I know that there are countless resources out there that are just as amazing but these are just the three that have had the most impact on my life personally.  I hope they can help you too!

1. She Reads Truth:  This is hands down the best place for easy, relatable, and understandable devotionals for women.  Their devotionals are so inexpensive (there are a lot of free options as well) and yet so impactful.  This is a great place to start!

2.  Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin:  This.  Book.  It fundamentally changed the way I approach scripture.  I couldn't be thankful enough for Jen Wilkin's wisdom and heart for the Word of God.  Her approach is convicting yet full of grace, extensive yet comprehensive.  95% if not 100% of what I wrote today comes from what I learned from her writings!

3.  Seamless by Angie Smith:  I CANNOT recommend this devotional enough!  Especially if the Bible intimidates you.  Angie Smith takes you on a journey from the beginning of the Bible all the way until the end.  And she does it in such a reader friendly way, I mean she breaks Scripture dowwwn!  Reading her devotional is where I really started to see the Bible as a whole picture.  The Bible was written over a period of 2,000 years by a collection of authors from a myriad of backgrounds and yet the whole of scripture is cohesive and sound.  God's glory shines in this and its truth cannot be disputed.  Seamless helped me see that in a whole new light.  If you decide to read this you will find yourself saying: "ohhhhhhh!" and "wait, how did I not see that before?!"

I did this devotional with a group of older women who have had a lifetime of reading the Bible and even they were shocked at all they were learning.  It's simply amazing!

Give Yourself Grace! 

Often times there is the stigma behind reading the Bible.  A lot of Christians can make it out to be a chore or even a "sin" if you miss a day of reading.  That's not how I choose to approach it.  I encourage people to read their Bible because by experience I know that in it is life, and joy, and freedom.  That's why I get so excited!  Of course I would encourage you to try to be in it every day.  I had a pastor once put it this way:  "Strive for seven days a week but don't settle for less than five."  Again it's not to pressure begrudgingly.  Are there days or seasons when I am not reading as much?  Absolutely!  But if I find myself in a dry season I almost always yearn for my time back in the Word.  It just fills me and I can't stay away.  I am a mother... a. very. busy. mother. so somedays I can get an extended period of time and others all I can muster is a few verses out of Psalms.  And for the days I can't read any...grace.

Don't feel pressure.  That is absolutely not how God would want you to approach His word.  Just open up your life to it.  Get a little disciplined but then just let yourself fall in love with it.

It has become such a special part of my life and I want you to feel that too.

I promise, it is so so good!