Ready to Head to the Mountains? I Have Just the Book For you!

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul MountainsAre you ready to head to the mountains?

With summer fading and hopes of autumn just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share about my new book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains, set to release in September.

When the idea for writing vacation devotional guides emerged, I admit the beach is where it all started, but the mountains quickly followed.

There has always been some type of draw to the mountains way down deep in this old soul of mine. Maybe it’s because my mom’s parents loved the mountains and took us there for roadside picnics by the river. Or maybe it’s because we had a five-acre parcel of land that sat at the foot of a mountain that we visited most weekends while growing up that makes me love them like I do.

All I know is that the draw to be closer to the mountains was so strong that the creature of habit within me took a giant step back and allowed a sometimes-friend, adventure, to step forward and move us away from all we’d known for the past twenty plus years⎯friends, church, our century-old home, comforting backroads, and the Ice Cream Station. Don’t judge.

 

There is just something about being near to the mountains that make us feel closer to God.

 

The sheer height reminds us of the mightiness of our God while the pristine nature surrounding us woos our heart to Him like a first love. Breathing in the sweet crisp air invigorates our senses, giving us clarity of mind, a sometimes difficult commodity in our busy culture.

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul // Mountains is designed for a one week vacation but it can also be used for weekends or even a single day trip, with all seasons represented. Each day invites you to draw closer to God through a brief personal story, a scripture verse, devotion, and a sensory exercise. And did I mention Edie Melson is writing the foreword? Pauses is a prayed-over, Spirit-led, and a beloved little book I trust God will use for His glory in beautiful and unexpected ways.

Blue Ridge Mountains

I would LOVE for you to be a part of the God-Lovin’ Mountain-Goin’ Launch Team! (It doesn’t require as much time as you might think.)

 

  • Read: Because the book consists of seven days you could choose to read a devotion every day if you like. The sensory exercises could be set aside for your own vacation in the future, which helps to cut your time significantly. You would have three weeks to read it.
  • Review: I’m learning just how priceless reviews are for any book on Amazon. Your agreeing to leave a review on the launch day is THE most vital part of your commitment. I will keep you updated along the way.
  • Share: On launch day and for a few weeks afterward, I ask that you share the book on your social media platforms. If you only do Facebook, that’s fine! No pressure here — share where you feel comfortable. If you have a blog, I would welcome the opportunity to guest post (just another way to share). I’ll have pre-made tweets and Facebook postings on my site. You need only click to share! I’m all about saving you time.
In return, I will joyfully do the following:
  • Send you a FREE PDF copy of the book.
  • Mention your name in the book.
  • Mention your name on my site’s book page, along with a hyper-link to your site (I reserve the right to decline this offer, if necessary)

If you would like to be a part of a project that inspires and refreshes while drawing readers closer to God as a result, here’s an opportunity! Thanks to those of you who have already contacted me saying you would love to join the team. Your support and encouragement mean the world to me!

Want to be on the God-lovin’ Mountain-Goin’ Launch Team? Please email me via the button in the sidebar or leave a comment. I’ll be in touch — thank you!

Above all, I welcome prayer from you, my friend. Self-pubbing is not for wimps and although I’ve never considered myself to be the bravest, I feel I’ve wratched up the ol’ survival skills scale this year but I still have a ways to go.

You’re the best and I thank God for you⎯often.

“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.” -John Muir

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // Seeking A Spiritually Sweet Palate

Dogwood Cafe

On our way back from Boone NC this weekend, we made two stops. First, the Dogwood Café, where I enjoyed this beaut of a drink… Vanilla and Brown Sugar Latte.

A little further down the mountain, we stopped by a popular roadside market that was chock full of preserves, jellies, fruit, and my favorite—mountain honey, with the honeycomb⎯four to be exact. Yep, I’m a tad giddy.

honeyRarely do I gaze at a quart of spun sunshine without thinking of Psalm 119:103.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

Perhaps it’s because David’s life was tinged with the bitter flavor of sin⎯adultery, murder, and a collection of wives, to name a few⎯that he was able to fully appreciate the sweetness of God’s heart, reflected in His words. In biblical times, nothing compared to honey when it came to sweetness, which speaks volumes as to David’s spiritual palate and the relationship he shared with God.

In the current book I’m working on, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Guide to the Mountains, I share how life would’ve been much sweeter had I become a believer at an early age rather than in my late twenties. A multitude of sins could’ve been avoided, and my sons, along with innocent bystanders {because sin never affects just one person}, could have been avoided. And yet, it wasn’t until I tasted the bitterness of my sin that I craved the sweetness of heavenly-breathed scripture.

Sometimes we do not crave the sweetness of scripture until we have tasted the bitterness of sin. Click To Tweet
To taste is personal.

You can’t taste my food, and I can’t taste yours. In the same way, we taste and value scripture for ourselves.

To taste is to be near.

When we look at the original language of Psalm 119, we see that David chose to use the plural form for “word” instead of singular, suggesting that the more we read scripture⎯the more we encounter God through experience⎯the sweeter our exchange becomes over time.

In reading, meditating, memorizing, and speaking its life into others (and having it spoken into ours), we taste God’s Word. We experience it and revel in its beauty for ourselves.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18

With the quart of honey in hand, I’m reminded of those written in my prayer journal who taste and testify to the sweetness of scripture:

  • Four friends—Bruce, Josiah, Mary, and Grace—are currently under the category of “cancer/healing”. All four are not mere tasters, they are dwellers.
  • There is also a friend’s son, Elijah, in my journal. This young man experiences a level of pain that would leave most adults gulping for air from the feeling of being swallowed whole. His mom, Callie, family and friends, cry out to the LORD asking for divine answers as doctors continue to seek for the origin of Elijah’s pain. Still, they taste God’s goodness, and trust.
  • There are two young and precious widows, Leah and Tara, who exemplify scripture dwellers, leaning into the provision of Christ, revealing robust faith beneath their devastating loss. Tara’s son just left for bootcamp.
  • And there is a young California friend whose husband was recently deployed. I marvel at her strength, and the joy that exudes from her relationship with God. Her toddler son is blessed as a result.

Oh, to taste⎯to personally experience⎯the sweetness of our Father’s words for ourselves!

I still have much to learn when it comes to enriching my spiritual palate, but there are a few things I’m learning along the way.

sweets

How to Sweeten Our Spiritual Palate

 

  • Keep a journal. Recording the ways God personally reveals Himself to us through prayer and scripture reminds us of His goodness, even in the toughest of times.
  • Crank up the praise. It’s more difficult for the enemy to slither his way in when praise music is occupying the space. {This is especially helpful when we find ourselves in the waiting room of life, tempting our minds to navigate unnecessary scenarios.} Also, when we crank up the praise through our lips, testifying God’s goodness to others, our spiritual palate matures and develops, creating a joyful noise of its own.
  • Invite God into the mundane. Why? Because He cares. I struggle with traffic. I mean, really struggle. If you pass me on a busy road, you will see my lips moving. I ask for His help in the smallest of things because I know He understands and desires to help me. What good father wouldn’t? Trusting Him for the little things prepares us to trust Him for the bigger things, releasing a glorious infusion of sweetness that rises to the heavens.
  • Remain confident…in God. When scripture reads more in the form of conviction {never condemnation} or instruction, we can remain confident in God, the Author of all things good and sweet for His ultimate glory.

 

prayer journalSee this blank page in my prayer journal? I would count it a privilege to pray for you.

Please feel free to leave your request either in the comments section or message me via Facebook.

Also, as the Spirit leads, please pray for those mentioned above in my journal.

Let my prayer be accepted as sweet-smelling incense in your presence. Psalm 141:2

 

 

 

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You’ll also receive a community monthly newsletter that delivers behind-the-scenes information on the blog, my books, and more. Oh, and did I mention there’s a giveaway each month? Yep, it’s the place to be and we would love you to be a part of all that God is doing! Simply go to the sidebar and enter your email address. That’s it!

 

Coming to our {Summer} Senses // Friendships & A Giveaway!

Sheltering Tree

We have a sheltering tree. Its double-trunk supports wide-sprawling branches, offering respite on these sweltering days in the South.

 

Friends are like that, too.

 

When we feel we’re being bombarded by the unexpected, wayward children, or a million little things⎯all at once⎯we find comfort in a friend’s touch.

When we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to thinner, prettier, more successful, Mary-like women, our friends are there to pull us out of the muck and speak truth into our lives.

So, last week, three friends came over for lunch. There was no agenda other than to catch up, encourage one another, and offer respite through lots of laughter, good food, and raspberry lemonade.

Centerpiece

 

Friendships⎯like trees⎯grow, mature, and blossom in a variety of ways.

 

FriendshipsFor instance, when I think of Edie, the Lily-of-the-Valley tree, better known as Sourwood, comes to mind. This tree offers beauty in all seasons. In Spring, white fragrant pearly clusters of flowers bloom profusely. In Autumn, its red leaves gloss over like shiny waxed apples. Regardless of the season of life, she finds herself in⎯joyous or downright tough⎯Edie exudes Christ. But there’s one particular characteristic about the Sourwood tree that reminds me of her. This tree is a tremendous source of nectar for bees to produce honey. Over the last 9 years, I’ve seen her selflessly pour herself, her gifts, prayers, and talents into other writers, such as myself. As God brings her own hard work to fruition, the work of countless others who have drawn wisdom and insight from her help also bring Him glory. And then they, in turn, help other writers, creating a beautiful circle of life.

Vonda’s qualities, although too many to mention (truly!) remind me of a well-loved evergreen tree called the Southern Wax Myrtle. Like the Sourwood, it too puts on a show year-round with its lustrous green leaves in the summer months and bluish gray clusters of berries in the winter. The leaves release a very aromatic scent when crushed, that smell much like a bay berry candle. Although you don’t hear Vonda complain, she sometimes carries a heavy load behind-the-scenes. But like the Myrtle tree, when she is at her weakest, “crushed” beneath the weight, there is a sweet aroma released from her soul. It’s not the fragrance of bay berry, but that of Christ. And like the Sourwood, the Wax Myrtle tree also supplies nectar for the bees. God has used both Edie and Vonda to bless a multitude of writers over the years. {Thank you!}

And then there’s Pea, aka, Dee Dee Parker. She’s my Weeping Willow tree. Her sickness earlier this year had me shedding many prayerful tears but thankfully they’re now induced by laughter. Much laughter. One interesting fact about the Weeping Willow tree is that it’s often planted by streams so that their braid-like roots will protect the bank from erosion. In the same way, Dee Dee’s prayers are woven throughout her day as she too seeks a water Source⎯Jesus. He is the only One who can ultimately refresh, restore, and renew those she lifts in prayer.

All three friends touch my life and the lives of many others in ways they’ll only know once they reach heaven.

I could learn a thing or two from these women when it comes to being a sheltering tree for others. This hasn’t exactly been a banner year for me in that department. Partly because of the new distance between me and most of my friends back in our old hometown. And in all honesty, the struggle to discover the balance for needing long stretches of writing time and life in general, is real.

But isn’t that what sheltering trees are all about? When struggles, storms, and hard situations enter our lives, we know we can find refuge beneath their branches. It is there we also find refreshment.

 

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs 27:9

 

Leigh Ann Thomas is a friend whose gentle spirit and tenacious love for Christ is evident in her life as well as her words. Her recent release, “Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace…Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride” is no exception. I wish her book would’ve been available when our boys were getting married. Mothers of the Groom need a little inspiration (and a lot of coffee) too!

Today, I’m giving away a copy of Leigh Ann’s beautiful book to one blessed reader. If you are a mother of a bride {or groom} prepare to be inspired. If you know someone else in this role, inspire away by purchasing a copy for them. I can’t imagine a better gift.

Enter the drawing by simply answering the question below.  I’ll randomly select a name next Tuesday!

How has a friend touched you⎯refreshing your soul⎯in recent days?

 

Join our Creative Community!

Subscribe to my blog and receive a scripture-based coloring page to enjoy on your beach vacation (and another goody is on the way!) No more bookmarking, searching, or waiting. Posts (once every week during the summer) and the monthly newsletter arrive directly in your inbox. The newsletter gives you behind-the-scenes information on the blog as well as my books. Oh, and did I mention there’s a giveaway each month? Yep, it’s the place to be and we would love for you to join us. Simply go to the sidebar and enter your email address. That’s it!

 

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // Shine, Sister, Shine!

Shine, sister, shine

Summer offers a plethora of scents that leave us dizzy, mostly with delight:

  • Roses in bloom
  • Lit charcoal fluid
  • Suntan lotion
  • Freshly mowed grass (for allergy suffers like me this one literally leaves me dizzy!)
  • Chlorine ( = swimming)
  • Saturated air after a summer afternoon storm
  • Hawaiian Fruit Punch (throwback to the 70’s)
  • Citronella (delight in the sense that there are fewer mosquitoes!)

And when one is, oh say, 56 days away from a beach vacation, one must turn to the next best thing to capture the sea-side scent: a candle. But not just in any candle.

While searching for beach-themed goodies to promote my book Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, I came across this candle. The scent was not the first thing to grab my attention.

Non-lit candle can't shine

Being a sucker for all things visual, it took a mere three seconds to place myself in this VW van, front emblem and all. Then I noticed the packaging. A canvas material with California Dreamin’ printed in a funky font was only the prelude to the delight waiting beneath it, and one whiff was all it took. I paid more than I normally do but it was dreamy VW van (which I love) and I was there, in it, with ocean breezes blowing by as I drove down the California coast line. {Told you I was a sucker.}

But I digress.

Less than one mile from the TJ Maxx parking lot, I’d already finagled a way to keep this little treasure for myself. I would use it for inspiration by burning it each time I sat down to work on the next book in the series. Never mind that the book setting is in the mountains! Plus, it would be too heavy to mail if it became a contest prize. {If you care to hear more excuses as to why I needed to keep it, feel free to email me.}

Fast forward three months. This carefully carted VW-lovin’-ocean-breeze candle continues to sit on my kitchen bar⎯unwrapped, unopened, and unlit. Oh, I stop by occasionally to hover, inhale, and dream for a brief moment but I hesitate to take the cover off and light it. I want it to last. Burning it will only make it disappear. And because of this hesitation, the candle is neither being enjoyed or used to its fullest potential.

Jesus had something to say about this in Matthew 5:14-16. (Although tempted to focus on the 2 Corinthians 2:14 passage that eludes more to fragrance, Matthew just wouldn’t let it be.)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

A covered, unlit candle’s fragrance is scant compared to one which sits on a stand and is lit. From the moment the flame licks the wick, everyone in the room benefits⎯both from the light it sheds, and from the delightful fragrance it diffuses.

Jesus declares that you and I are the light of the world! We are to display God’s gospel-work in our lives and not hide it away. It is meant to be shared and seen by others for His glory. So how do we shine our brightest, reflecting God’s glory to a darkened world?

 

3 Suggestions to Help Us Shine, Sister, Shine!

 

Recognize Who is behind our shine.

In John 1:9, John proclaims Jesus to be the true light who gives light to everyone. We are only able to shine because we are reflecting His great light! In Matthew 5:16 we’re given the very reason why it’s vital that we shine. When our calling, our spiritual gifts, our good works are seen, God is glorified.

Recognize that too many yes’s can actually diminish our ability to shine.

The candle wick’s purpose is to deliver fuel (liquified wax) to the flame. If it’s not trimmed before each lighting, it will burn too quickly. Just because we can shine in a lot of different ways doesn’t mean we should place ourselves between every problem/opportunity and the solution. Burning out is not glorifying, nor is it a true reflection of Jesus.

Recognize how community helps everyone to shine brighter.

Have you seen the multi-wick candles? Some think the extra wicks cause the candle to burn faster but the truth is, it helps the candle to burn more evenly. Isn’t it the same with us? Bearing one another’s burdens, being vulnerable and transparent with others, and keeping a teachable spirit so that others can speak truth into our lives are all good places to start. If we release what is not ours to carry we are all able to shine brighter for God’s glory.

If we release what is not ours to carry, we are all able to shine brighter for God's glory. Click To Tweet

An unlit candle doesn’t shine. Neither does a covered one.

Heavenly Father,

Reveal anything or anyone that is hindering my ability to shine for Your glory.
Help me to lay bare my sin, my struggles, guilt, shame, and fears before You now,
confident that in the process of uncovering the darkness way down deep within,
You will bring forth light, ushering in fresh grace and mercy
that I might shine brighter for Your glory and fame.
This is my heart’s desire.
Amen.

How do you sense God calling you to shine, sister, shine?

 

Lit candles shine


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Subscribe to my blog and receive a scripture-based coloring page to enjoy on your beach vacation (and another goody is on the way!) No more bookmarking, searching, or waiting. Posts (once every week during the summer) and the monthly newsletter arrive directly in your inbox. The newsletter gives you behind-the-scenes information on the blog as well as my books. Oh, and did I mention there’s a giveaway each month? Yep, it’s the place to be and we would love for you to join our little creative community. You can unsubscribe anytime. Simply go to the sidebar and enter your email address. That’s it!

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // 4 Ways to Never Lose Our Wonder

The wonder of God
 A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.
– Lord Dusany

 

In the city, the night sky felt like a backdrop. I knew it was there but I couldn’t see it for the street lights and gnarly oak trees growing nearby.

But here⎯in the country⎯a wide-open sky spreads out like a picnic blanket offering up its finest for all to see and enjoy. Smatterings of stars, planets, the big pizza pie-in-the-sky, and sometimes even meteor showers await. When I look up I can’t help but stand in awe of God’s majestic feast that He displays every night without fail.

The sky is obviously the same in both places but one is obscured by trees and city lights. Or was it just the trees and city lights obscuring my view? Rushing to get inside the house to unpack groceries, start projects, binge-watch the latest series on Netflix, and of course, perusing the internet can hinder the clearest of views.

Clearing the mental clutter and physical calendar makes way for wonder⎯being awestruck by the One who was struck for me, and for you.

Wonder

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide-eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King.
[first stanza]

Talk about a hymn of praise! Perhaps I gravitate to this song by Bethel Music because I know how easy it is for me to get distracted to the point that I forget to look up and all around me. “May we be just like a child, staring at the beauty of our King”. Oh, the power of child-like wonder. These simple lyrics reflect my heart cry, and maybe yours too.

Wonder-women, let's hold out our shields, refusing to let the temporary penetrate the eternal. Click To Tweet
So, how do we hold out our shields?

4 Ways to Never Lose Our Wonder

 

Stay in the Word of God.

How can our heart⎯the one that longs to be known⎯not be drawn closer to our heavenly Father when we read how He calls forth each starry host by name?

“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26 NIV

Be intentional.

Wake up every morning with the intention to see the wonders of God at every turn. Watch for it in nature, in other people, and in the eyes of those we love. Set aside a few minutes each day to stop and see the wonder of God.

Keep a journal of wonder.

We’ve benefited from gratitude journals so what if we start journaling those moments when we’re awestruck by God?

Rub shoulders with other wonder-women.

Show me a grateful person rescued from the clutches of sin and I’ll show you a fellow wonder-woman. The woman at the well in John 4 came face-to-face with the One who knew her better than she knew herself. Her sin was confronted, but done so in love. She was offered Living Water that would flow new life through her veins for an eternity. I know how she felt in that moment when she saw love instead of condemnation in His eyes, except my setting was inside a duplex instead of beside a desert well. Our outcome was also similar for neither of our lives would ever be the same. The wonder of salvation spurred us on to share this love with others and to rub shoulders with other wonder-women, like you.

Physical sight is not necessary in order to grasp the beauty of God’s wonder (one need only know my friend Jamie to testify to this truth), but if we do have sight, look up, sweet friend! The sky testifies to His wonder tonight.


What has left you in awe of God this week?
 (Can I start? Hummingbirds. I could watch them for hours. God’s creative touch is awe-inspiring!)

 

 Join our Creative Community!

Subscribe to my blog and receive a scripture-based coloring page to enjoy on your beach vacation (and another goody is on the way!) No more bookmarking, searching, or waiting. Posts (once-a-week) and the monthly newsletter arrive directly in your inbox. The newsletter gives you behind-the-scenes information on the blog as well as my books. Oh, and did I mention there’s a giveaway each month? Yep, it’s the place to be and we would love for you to join our little creative community. You can unsubscribe anytime. Simply go to the sidebar and enter your email address. That’s it!