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!)

 

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Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // A God-Glorifying Gathering and Giveaway!

Pool gathering

Summer is the perfect time for any gathering and especially so when it comes to sharing our faith!

As you know by now, I’m a huge fan of Lori Roeleveld’s book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. And apparently, I’m not alone. This gem of a book recently won the Director’s Award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Chrisitan Writer’s Conference. {Congrats, Lori!}

I’m slowly reading through Jesus and the Beanstalk because I want to savor every word, and well, I don’t want it to end. Just last week I came across this:

“Too many of us have adopted the culture of consumerism rather than the culture of discipleship. Growing up in Jesus is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. We are climbing the true vine, and only he knows precisely where any one of us is in that process. Finding the next hold on the vine is not an exact science because it’s about a relationship with Jesus, not a nine-step self-improvement program. Building character doesn’t happen because we read we should do it. God builds character in us in many ways and through a variety of circumstances.”

Then Lori shared the following suggestion:

“Ask God to direct you to activities that will give you faith in increasing measure. One way we bolster one another’s faith is through testimonies or stories of God’s intervention. Invite some friends for dinner and swap stories of times you’ve seen God at work.”

 

And there it was, right in front of me: Why not host a Swim & Swap party this summer?

 

For a full-fledged introvert, that’s an undertaking — a faith-stretching activity — but the wheels are turning. I see friends gathered around our pool on a warm Saturday afternoon. Very casual, nothing fancy. As the sun sets, we begin to swap stories as to how we’ve seen⎯and are seeing⎯God at work. I admit the planner in me wants to cover every base but I’m learning that some things just can’t be planned, like the moving of the Holy Spirit.

{Having said that, there will be grilled burgers, dessert, lemonade, and S’mores involved.}

Swapping God-glorifying stories is good for the soul--yours and mine. #soulfood Click To Tweet

 

I will praise you to all my brothers; I will stand up before the congregation and testify of the wonderful things you have done. Psalm 22:22

 

Our sense of hearing⎯and the power it holds⎯-is recorded throughout the Word:

 

  • Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
  • Acts 22:15, “For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.”
  • Genesis 3:8, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

I recently returned from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. Every night, a gathering in the downstairs lobby huddled around coffee tables and sometimes delicious treats, thanks to Diana Asaad {thank you!}. As I heard those around me share stories of how God was moving through the worship times and interactions with faculty/other attendees, my own faith-walk was strengthened and encouraged. After all, that’s what happens when we’re brave enough to swap our gospel story with another!

 

God-glorifying gatherings can happen in coffee shops, grocery lines, around a dinner table, or a campfire. They can happen anywhere two or more are gathered in His name and for His glory.

Arrow

Jesus and the Beanstalk Giveaway

Want to win your own copy of this faith-building giant-trampling book? Simply leave one way you’ve seen God recently move in your life, or in the life of a loved one, in the comment section. None are considered too small. One name will be randomly drawn next Thursday, June 15th.

Jesus and the Beanstalk

 

Heading to the Beach? Don’t Forget to Pack This {Or Gift It!}

Pauses small framedAre you or someone you know heading to the beach this Memorial Day weekend? Or do you have a day, weekend, or week circled on your summer calendar for days by the shore?

There’s no better time to pack my NEW release “Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach”. It’s a one-week devotional that includes your arrival and departure days. The book provides an opportunity for you (or your family) to pause each day to draw closer to the Lord through a brief devotion, Scripture reading, prayer, and sensory activity.

And if you know someone heading to the beach, consider giving them the book as a gift. {Did I mention it’s only 99 cents?} To do so, simply go to the Amazon page and you’ll see a “Give as a Gift” button in the right sidebar. You need only enter the recipient’s email address and it will show up on their device as a gift from you! {No Kindle? No worries! Amazon allows you to upload their FREE Kindle app to your laptop or phone here.}

In addition to packing my little book (more vacations coming soon!) here are several more items you may want to add (or check off) your own beach packing list:

 

Don’t Leave These Behind On Your Next Beach Trip:

Earbuds:

While it’s hard to compete with the lullaby rhythm of the waves crashing nearby, there are times I love to plug in my earbuds to my phone and zone out. My music list is all over the place. See for yourself:

  • Frank Sinatra – his songs remind me of my grandparents and the wonderful memories we made on the same very beach we now vacation.
  • Fleet Foxes – this indie band woos me with their masterful vocal harmonies.
  • Brandon Gilliam/River Crossings Worship Team – I’m especially proud that Brandon wrote some of the songs on this CD. Amazing!
  • David Crowder – just because.
  • Dusty Springfield {I warned you it was random}. One song: “What Are You Doing With The Rest Of Your Life”. I wasn’t even old enough to know this song when it was recorded but it hits a reset button of sorts when I listen to it one week a year.
Quality zip-top bags:

When you read through my book, you’ll see an opportunity to use these on the beach, but they’re also good to secure items like phones, books, foods — anything you don’t want to get wet. They’re also good for holding seashells and other memorable items you find on the beach.

Baking soda, vinegar, and Benadryl:

Years ago, our oldest son, Brandon, was stung by a jellyfish. Those cries are not what any mother wants to hear. Oh, the pain! We ran across the street to a marina and happened across an old fisherman who advised us to use vinegar (rinse) and baking soda (paste). Online sources can give you the exact details. As the old adage says, “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it”.

Protective cover wear:

I remember the days of squirting baby oil all over my arms and legs in hopes of gaining the perfect tan. Oh my, those were the days. But today, I slather on the Helioplex suntan lotion and often wear a cover-up as both my husband and I have experienced skin cancer scares. This is the one I’m purchasing today. It’s a UPF surf shirt that guards against the harmful rays. It will come handy at the beach as well as our pool. Bye, bye tan.

Patience:

It is cheap but not always easy to find. Nothing ruins a hard-earned vacation like stress. Cars will break down, the weather won’t cooperate, and the waiter will spill ketchup on your favorite gray and white pin-stripe shirt (was that too detailed?). Unfortunately, mishaps don’t take a vacation but packing this virtue in your heart before you leave home helps everyone to have a memorable vacation⎯for all the right reasons.

God:

I know, we don’t take God with us on vacation, we go with Him. I actually write about this on Lori Roeleveld’s award-winning blog this week. Come, join us there.

 

I’m praying now that you and your family will enjoy a time of rest and relaxation away this summer. Soak up the rest God provides and bask in His goodness.

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul

Click to Order (or Gift to A Beach-Bound Buddy!)

 

You Will Love This NEW Cookbook! {Foreword by Ree Drummond}

food background

A cookbook? I know, I know. Shelves are replete with cookbooks and Pinterest is crammed with delightful dishes⎯but⎯I can personally vouch for this one.

I’ve been a full-fledged fan of Robyn Stone’s food blog “Add A Pinch” for years. Her Honey Soy Pork loin and Balsamic Beef dishes are mainstays of our family table. And, oh, did I mention they’re both crockpot recipes?

So, you can imagine my delight when I learned that I’d won a copy of her new cookbook, “Add A Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics” through Maria Ribas’ giveaway on Stonesong!

My copy arrived in the mail this week and I’d love to share four specific things I’m loving about this cookbook.

Add a PinchFour Reasons You’ll Love This Cookbook:

The photography is stunning. I don’t know about you, but I like to see what a finished recipe should look like. Not that mine will appear anything like the finished product but you never know.

Her table of contents includes my favorites. Can anyone say Slow Cooker Suppers? I also love Skillet Suppers, One-Dish Suppers, Simple Sides, and Biscuits & Breads. There are more, but these are my faves.

The book has smart sidebars. Each includes suggestions and solutions for the modern home cook.

Robyn delivers on the Southern Classics. Five favorites⎯some I’ve tried, and some I look forward to trying: Strawberry shortcakes with sweet cream cheese biscuits {need I go on?}, Cranberry Chicken Bites, Grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings, Citrus Shrimp, and Roasted Okra. Lighter dishes are also included.

Sharing a favorite cookbook with you is not my norm, mainly because I don’t purchase many, but I couldn’t keep this one a secret. Yes, it’s that good! {And yes, it was on my Amazon wishlist so sharing it was inevitable.}

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

 

Celebrating Mothers With All Five {Spiritual} Senses

Mother and Daughter

There are a plethora of ways to celebrate Mother’s Day but today I’m adding five to the mix that you may not have considered. And with it being only a few days away, there’s no time to lose so let’s get started.

 

{The Gift of Sight}

 

spiritual sightBeautiful items make themselves available on Mother’s Day. Restaurants with fancy folded napkins, a hillside with a readied picnic basket, and jewelry with all the right birthstones in place. But imagine giving mothers, especially those with baggage like myself, the gift of going to the Father and asking for the spiritual sight to see her as He sees her. I can assure you that mothers who have mothered from a difficult place, sometimes of our own making, want nothing more than for our child to know that despite their flaws and failures, they were loved. That we did our best even though our best often failed to measure up to hopes and dreams.

Consider writing your mother a note this Mother’s Day instead of simply signing a card. If your family is blessed to look more like a minimalist when it comes to “baggage” thank God and then share specific ways your mother has blessed you. But if you think of a hoarder when it comes to family baggage, consider praying for spiritual eyes to see beyond the hurt and disappointment, allowing God to show you your mother as He sees her. Share what you learn with her in a handwritten note. Has your mother passed? My heart hurts for you. Go ahead and write your note. If possible, visit her gravesite and read it aloud. Or go to a quiet place you know she would’ve loved instead and read it.

 

{The Gift of Taste}

 

ice cream If you’re a mother my guess is that you have a renewed sense of appreciation for your own mother. You now have insight into the sacrifice, unconditional love, and hard work that is required. In some ways, it’s like eating something new for the first time. You’re not sure what to expect — but when you taste it for yourself, you know {and appreciate it} based on experience.

Treat your mother to a new restaurant experience. As you enjoy your meal, share with her specific things you’ve learned (or one day hope to learn) about parenting. And don’t forget dessert!

 

 

{The Gift of Listening}

 

Mom and daughterWe all know there is a vast difference between hearing and listening. One is expected. The other is a gift. The art of conversation is a dying one thanks to our inability to turn off the phone with all of its well-meaning perks. When is the last time we asked a question and truly listened to the answer?

Turn your phone off regardless of how you choose to spend time with your mother this weekend. Give her the respect she deserves in her God-given role. Think of questions you can ask in advance about her dreams, how she feels God is moving in her life these days, her childhood, etc. And then listen.

 

 

 

 

{The Gift of A Sweet Aroma}

 

grandma cooking Aromas flowing from family kitchens can create lifelong memories. To this day, I wish I’d spent more time with both grandmothers in their kitchens (and so does my family). Our sense of smell is the strongest of the five for a reason. One whiff can trigger a bundle of memories.

Purchase a candle for your mother and share all the ways she adds a sweet scent to your life, and to your family’s. But don’t stop with the practical ways. If applicable, share how she is the “fragrance of Christ” to you (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). If this isn’t applicable, go ahead and purchase the candle but keep it for yourself. Use it as a trigger to remind you to pray for your mother every time you light it. Or if your mother has passed, use each lighting as a reminder to thank God for her “fragrance” in your life.

 

{The Gift of Touch}

 

Mother Daughter HugIf you ever doubt the power of touch, visit an assisted living home. The elderly are hungry for a simple touch. And so are mothers. I could write an entire post on this subject and one day I will, but for now, can I take this moment to encourage young mothers? Never miss an opportunity to hug or kiss your child, even when he or she acts uninterested. Touch is a powerful communicator of love, regardless of age.

I’m blessed to still have my mother but having lost two grandmothers to whom I was very close, I can say one thing I miss most are the front/back door hugs. You know, the kind you can’t escape if you want to enter their home. I didn’t always appreciate them as a youngster but now I would give anything to feel their warm embrace again. Hug your mother, your grandmother, and any mother figure God has blessed you with — because the gift of touch is one you never outgrow.