The Life-Changing Results from Praying in Every Room of Our Home

Praying in Your HOmeThe morning I spent praying through our home back in January is a morning I won’t soon forget. Perhaps you remember this post I wrote back when limbs were exposed, and so was I.

I can’t say for sure why turmoil erupted from within when I began tapping the keys for that post. Maybe it’s because I shared about my struggle with depression. Or maybe it was revealing my fear of a test result or the fear that my prayer walk through our home may be taken as mystical rather than biblical. My guess is that pride and the enemy were vying for victory as they each tugged fiercely on the rope. Turns out, neither won.

The response from the post was overwhelming. Comments, emails, Facebook messages, etc., confirmed that I am not alone in this desire to have my home immersed in God’s presence. Nor am I alone in the desire to experience palpable peace and an underlying current of joy more powerful than the hundreds of volts running through my home.

Since praying through each room nine months ago, I’ve observed specific ways prayers have been answered.

House Prayers

Front Entry {Prayed in January}

For guests entering our home to feel welcomed and cared for by us, and ultimately, the Lord. To cultivate an open home, regardless of how clean or messy our house is at the moment. For God’s blessing and protection.

How Prayer Is Being Answered

We’ve had more guests in our home in the past nine months than we had in ten years at our last home. Trust me, I know this isn’t anything to brag about. I share it only to say that now when I struggle to open our home at inopportune times, I recall my prayer in January and quietly proclaim, This is Your house, God. Be glorified. And my soul hits the re-set button.

 

Den {Prayer in January}

For the conversations in this room to be edifying and glorifying to the Lord. To be filled with joy, laughter, and family-building moments. It was also in this room that with outstretched arms I prayed for any spirit not of God to flee, in the name of Jesus. There was no room for the spirit of fear, discouragement, or confusion in our home.

How Prayer is Being Answered

Conversations have taken place on our couch this year that I never dreamed possible. I still struggle with fear in some areas but when I had the same exact test done in July that I had in January, there was no fear.

 

Kitchen {Prayer in January}

For Brian and my family to feel loved (not cursed) by the food I prepare for them. To receive creative ideas in ministering to others through food and meals. For me to make wiser choices in my food selections. {I’m still reaping the consequences from last year’s stress-mess.} To embrace the mundane work of my hands for His glory.

How Prayer is Being Answered

With increased guests and family visits, the kitchen has naturally become busier than normal. But a special “thank You, Lord” shot to the heavens when I recently served a large meal that would’ve normally sent me running. Brian asked, “Who are you?” I smiled because I knew it was more about Whose I was than who I am.

 

Where You Create {Prayed in January}

My writing desk is in our little sunroom. I prayed that every word penned would take flight for God’s glory. To lean into, depend on, and rest in Christ for not only the work but also the results. For an outpouring of creativity. To seek to know {by experience} God more deeply, not to seek to be known by others.

How Prayer is Being Answered:

I’m not sure where to begin with this one. Since January, I’ve published two books and several more are following. Let’s just say that when I “heard” God tell me that I was treating my calling more like a hobby (on the same afternoon I prayed throughout our home), everything changed in an instant. I began working on my first book within five minutes⏤literally. Two and half months later, the first book was available on Amazon. To God be the glory!

It’s for these reasons⏤and so much more⏤that I decided to create this free e-book for my subscribers. As an added bonus, I added sensory tips for each room!

 

If you’re a new subscriber to Cultivating Creativity, welcome!

Your time is the most precious commodity this side of heaven and I do not take it for granted. Every other week, you’ll receive my post in your inbox and once a month, a newsletter with the latest happenings, a small gift drawing, and a spotlight on one of my subscribers will also arrive. (September may have 1-3 additional emails due to the release of my second book and a guest post this Thursday by Andrea Merrell.) Never hesitate to let me know if there is some way I can pray for you or for your family along the way.

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“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

Which room in your home do you feel could use a little prayer today?

 

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?

 

Here’s my New Writing Nook! Where is Yours?

Would you like to see my new writing nook?

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My Previous Writing Spot

Perhaps you remember my last one. It was located on the second floor of our hundred-year-old home and although I loved it I do not miss the constant traffic whizzing by. When we decided to move to the country I realized I may be sacrificing my writing spot but I knew writing, and the joy I receive from it wasn’t dependent on a particular place. Still, I hoped for another one.

With this move, we knew it would be more about the property than the house itself. And that’s exactly what happened. We landed on almost 4 acres with amazing mountain views, a barn, pool, and a bonfire setting. The house was custom built in 1996 with its share of quirks. One being the kitchen which I initially thought was a walk-in closet off the great room (Yes, it’s that bad but we’ll save that reno for another day!). The Florida Room was a nice addition except that it felt heavy, the exact opposite feel I was desiring, especially for a room mirrored with windows on all walls but one. Turns out, this one wall was the deciding factor for the placement of my great-grandparents desk and ultimately my new writing nook. So now for the fun part!

blogbrown1img_3568{I wish I’d taken a better picture of the brown walls. It was quite cave-like.}

blogbrown2img_3569{The first coat of primer! Two coats of my favorite white paint, Dover White by Sherwin Williams, would soon follow.}

blogbrianwhiteimg_3604{My round-the-clock handyman hubby hard at work – thank you, Brian!}

blogemptyshelvesimg_3608{Empty bookshelves? Never! The white “box” is the back part of our gas log/fireplace. I wanted an industrial feel so I went with bare wood planks and piping for the brackets.}

bloglibraryimg_3646{Now it’s beginning to look like a writing nook! I initially wanted to use industrial piping for the brackets but when we realized that those alone would cost over 300.00 we quickly switched to beefy but affordable steel brackets that we painted matte black, saving $200.00. Score!}

blognook2img_3726{There we go! I have my [post-decluttered] books on hand, my writing mags nearby [white Ikea magazine holders], my family’s fold-down desk, and then there’s the view peeking out from the side window. Love it!}

blogwhite3img_3588{And I do so love my nearby sitting area! Soon after this pic, we painted the french doors black, as seen in the above photo.}

I hope you enjoyed the mini-tour. I plan to share more reno house pictures in the near future but for now, I’d love to know your favorite place to write. And if you’d like to include a photo, even better!

Thank you for stopping by today. What a blessing. 🙂

Unpacking Four Lessons Learned From Our Move

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Our hilltop barn.

I didn’t plan to be away so long.

When I went away on our family beach vacation in early September I fully expected to return to blogging the following week. This, despite the fact we had only a handful of days to pack our life up in brown paper boxes, close on two houses, and move to our new place in the foothills of the mountains, almost an hour away. But that’s not what happened.

My time away from blogging, however, allowed me to clearly see certain things that were once clouded by chaos.

canstockphoto5176462Four {Life-Changing} Lessons Learned from Our Move:

It’s not what we hold in our hands that will leave the legacy, but rather, what we hold in our hearts. While packing, I came across a dozen Precept workbooks where I’d marked up words, pages, made extra notes, etc. They represented studies that quite literally changed my life. It was through Precept years ago that I learned about the Bible, and more importantly, where I learned to love the God of the Bible. (Thank you, Kay Chandler and Kay Arthur). My initial thought was to keep them so that my grandchildren and great-grands would one day be able to read them and know they had a grandmother who loved the Lord with all of her heart, in spite of her pre-Christ choices. It wasn’t until I began sliding the tape over the seams, that the Holy Spirit reminded me that future generations would not be convinced of my love for God by seeing what I did, or even what I knew. They will know that their grandmother loved God by how she lived (imperfect but intentional) and the choices she made birthed from that kind of love.

Community. It’s a beautiful thing. Moving supplies passed on from long-time friends (our daughter-in-law’s parents!). Two vintage metal gliders delivered to my mom’s house. Another glider and two children’s car seats temporarily housed at my bestest buddy, Teresa’s, house. Brian’s musical instruments (including an upright bass) along with umpteen boxes of vintage LP’s, landed in the living room of Beth Saadati’s dad’s house. (Gary was even gracious enough to open his home to us if we’d needed a place to stay between houses. Gentle hearts and spirits run in this family.) Zach recruited friends from college to help in the move and one of Brian’s friends, whom he’d not seen in awhile, simply volunteered his Saturday morning to help. People who are a long-standing part of our “community” via family ties, friendships, and various churches, all came together at different times and in different ways to help us. We remain humbled and eternally grateful.

Releasing “stuff” isn’t just a step in the right direction, it’s a delightful destination. In the past, I’ve hauled stuff from place to place vowing to one day figure out what I really needed to keep. Not this time! For the most part, I went piece-by-piece evaluating if I would use it. I asked myself what my first reaction would be to the item when unpacking it on the other side. If there was the least bit of hesitation, it didn’t make the cut. I also asked myself if I would purchase it again. If not, why would I want to keep it now? I even released some sentimental things which proved to be the hardest part for me. But I knew if my relatives in heaven could speak to me, knowing what they know in heaven, they’d scream from the top of their lungs, “Let it go! It’s so temporal!” While I kept a few things that meant the most to me I took a picture of the things I didn’t keep and felt pure delight in knowing those things I couldn’t use would now be a blessing to others.

Jesus is in the details, not the devil. I’ll elaborate more on this in future posts but I marvel at the ways God led us to our new place. Honestly, it’s not a place, house-wise, I probably would’ve chosen were it not for the land, views, etc., but that too is part of the beautiful plan for Willoughby Way (the name we’ve given our place on the hill). I look forward to sharing more details, along with “before” and “after” pictures in the near future.

Can you relate to any of the above lessons learned during a move? If so, please share in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you and there is no doubt it will encourage others. Thank you!

When Spiritual Clutter Hides Beneath the Physical

blogmoreoflessMaybe it’s the sentimental clutter crying for relief in my attic. Or perhaps it’s the upcoming move signaling a fresh start. Point is, Joshua Becker’s latest release, “The More of Less…Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own” left me questioning what spiritual clutter might be discovered beneath my sentiment-driven, what-if-I-need-this-some-day, because-two-of-something-is-always-better-than-one kind of debris.

My desire to tuck away pretty things began at an early age. As an eight-year-old, I hid a true blue Easter egg in my headboard bookshelf. Why? Because I wanted to know it would be there when I felt the need to gaze at beauty for a moment. It didn’t take long to figure out that even beautiful things eventually decay…and reek.

It wasn’t, however, until I was in my thirties purchasing Beanie Babies {Did I really just admit that?} for no apparent reason that I began realizing there was more to those purchases than a fuzzy little feel good. Thankfully, they ended up in the hands of children in an overseas orphanage but unfortunately that was not the “why” behind the purchases years prior.

Those are just two snapshots from my past but even today when I find myself aimlessly wandering up and down the aisles of Target I have to ask myself the “why” question. I don’t want to subconsciously find peace and, dare I say, joy, in all the wrong clearance spaces.

Joshua’s latest release, “The More of Less” is a daily tool in my back pocket. The pages hold clear and concise wisdom, less a beating. The tone is conversational, friendly. It’s an easy but enlightening read, to say the least.

Snippets from The More of Less, some paraphrased:

  • Minimalism: the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.
  • The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. The beauty and the full potential of minimalism lie in what it gives.
  • Decluttering will help you clarify your purpose and values.
  • Remember, the goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.
  • In the end, your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from that of everyone else because your life is different from that of everyone else. You may have a large family, a small family, or no family. You may live on a farm, in a house, or in a studio apartment. You love music, movies, sports, or books. You practice art, or maybe you don’t. Maybe you believe you were put on this earth to host beautiful dinner parties or offer your home as a place of respite and retreat for others. Follow your passions to the best of your ability with the resources you possess. Fulfill your purpose with great focus by removing the distractions keeping you from it. And find a style of minimalism that works for you, one that is not cumbersome but freeing.
  • The more you believe you are not influenced by advertisements, the better they have done their job.
  • Generous people have less desire for more. They find fulfillment, meaning, and value outside of the acquisition of possessions.

{Told you it was good!}

buy-686337_640As I clear out the physical clutter in preparation for the move, a subtle, more insidious kind of clutter lies in wait. I find evidence of mindless shopping. Clothes with fancy tags but little wear. Books that wouldn’t be read anytime soon but bought because I refused to deny the rush of happiness that surged through my veins. Misplaced values and unhealthy dependencies now made visible because I {finally} took the time to look at the “why” behind the purchases.

Peeling back the motives behind our “stuff” allows us to discover not only what we value but also where we find it.

Although you may have enjoyed a large house in the suburbs with the accompanying comforts of life in the past, perhaps now you are thinking more about the value of experiences over possessions. Maybe you are more focused on leaving a legacy than adding to a pile of possessions. {To the Baby Boomers, like me.}

Did a particular excerpt from Joshua’s book resonate with your current circumstances? If so, please share in the comment box. It’s always nice knowing we’re not alone.

Amazon: The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

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One Question to Ask When Decluttering Your Home

Change: It's A Good ThingDecluttering is in full-swing at the Baker’s house. Maybe it’s the excitement of the move, or the adrenaline of the unknown, or the simple fact that I can’t find squat that makes this particular decluttering effort seem more successful.

As I began sorting through clothes, paperwork, and yes, even books, I began asking myself one question:

“How will I FEEL the moment I see this item when unpacking it at the new house?”

Talk about changing one’s perspective! This one question Is freeing me both emotionally and physically. If I knew a particular item wouldn’t spark joy the moment I spotted it when unpacking in our new home, it was placed in one of three places: Goodwill, consignment, or trash. It was an immediate score. Woot Woot!

In the past, we’ve hauled the entire contents of one house to another, assuming we’d one day go through all the boxes. Not this time. We’re now going through everything before it’s packed away. Last week, I took two totes to consignment, five totes to Goodwill, and tossed 8 bags of trash. Oh, the freedom!

Yes, the process of ridding ourselves of clothes that have worn out their welcome and tossing papers with scribbles from long ago is freeing, but it still boggles the mind as to how we got here.

At one point during last week’s mission it occurred to me that much of the clutter was due to procrastination on our part. It always seemed easier to find a spot for something, say, next week. Until then, any flat surface would do. Especially if it’s a book. Or a notebook. Or fountain pens. Okay, I digress. But you get the point.

During this frenzied season of decluttering and preparing for a move, I find that the one question I ask myself while deciding what to pack, or what to toss or share, brings rest to this old soul and a renewed determination to do things differently this time around.

So how do you go about the process of decluttering? Do you have a particular question or mantra that helps you stay focused?