How I Prayed for Each Room in Our Home

Praying Throughout Your Home

The story – my story – truly begins with why I prayed for each room in my home, not the how.

I knew moving to our new place in the country would be both a blessing and a test. A test of faith. Traveling on roads aren’t easy for me since a bad car accident years ago. You see, I’ve always lived in the city, only miles from what I need. And even then, it was a struggle. Now we’re 20 minutes from civilization (yes, Starbucks).

Recently, the struggle became even more complicated when Brian left for France. Stresses from all different directions honed in on me like a fluorescent target in pitch darkness. The fact that I struggle with depression and anxiety, I’m learning, can magnify these stresses beyond what most could possibly understand.

Past trips to France have rarely upset me. But this time was different. In addition to other things, I had a dreaded test result looming {it turned out fine}. And I felt myself spiraling despite immersing myself in the Word, worship music, and wise counsel from friends. On the night he left, the walls felt as if they were closing in on me.

It was during one of these wise counseling sessions {thank you, Dee Dee} that the idea to pray over my house⎯my surroundings ⎯came to mind. I’d prayed over past homes but this time I sensed an urgency. The following morning, I turned Pandora to Bethel Music, cranked up the volume, and walked through my home praying even louder.

This I Prayed:

House Prayers


Front Entry

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.

Den

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.

Kitchen

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.

Where You Create

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.

Master Bedroom

For Brian and I to grow closer to the Lord, confident that as each of us grows closer to Him, we will inevitably grow closer to one another.  To rest well…physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I prayed protection over our marriage and family. In our closets I prayed for open hands in being generous to share, refusing to keep “stuff” for all the wrong reasons.

Guest Bedroom(s)

Our second bedroom is shared between a guest bed and bunks for the grandkids {and a teepee!}. There, I prayed for my children and grandchildren. To love Christ with all their heart from an early age. I prayed for them what I prayed for our boys growing up — protection, first spiritually followed by physical and emotional protection. For if they are steadfast in Christ, all else wanes in comparison. For my children, I thanked God for His faithfulness. I also prayed for the guests God would bring to our home in the future. That they would sense a safe haven in the room.

Hobby Room/Recreational

For us, this would be my husband’s music room. There I prayed that God would greatly use the gifts and talents for His glory. For him to find rest and enjoyment in his room. I also took the opportunity to thank God for Brian and the many ways he blesses me and our entire family.

Outdoors

For God to use our pool, deck, yard, barn — anything of His choosing — to minister to others. I’m considering planting a cut-flower garden to bless others. {We never know how God may want to use a garden window, a patio, deck, or an apartment balcony!} I also thanked Him for the enjoyment of His creation. For the neighbors on our country road — blessings, to know Him if they don’t, and to shine brightly if they do.

There was a time when I would’ve thought walking through my home armed with specific prayers would’ve been “out there”. No more. I’ve experienced the power of prayer both in my heart and in my home. The heaviness of oppression that led me to walk through our home lifted with every turn of my shoulders, every turning of the knob. To God be the glory.

Have you walked through your home in prayer? Or is this a new concept that you would like to try? Or, is there a way I can pray for you today? Please share in the comment section. I would count it a privilege.

A Prayer
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Where to Write? 20 Inspiring + Unique Settings to Try in 2017

Writing OutsideIf you’re searching for creative and unique settings to create {whether that’s writing, painting, drawing, etc.} this year, I hope you’ll find the following suggestions helpful. At the very least, perhaps one or two will jumpstart another idea!

A well-loved writing spot is nice but there’s something to be said for venturing out to discover fresh and inspiring places to write. Not only does it awaken the senses, it also infuses the mind with new plots twists and settings for our stories, poetry, and the like. So pack your common sense {necessary for some of the locations}, laptop and/or writing pad/pen, healthy snacks, water, and a fold-up chair. I’d also suggest you pack your camera if you want to use something other than your phone for taking pictures. Being able to recall the specifics of a certain locale may come in handy in the future.

15 Inspiring + Unique Settings:

Taking Notes Outside

  • A construction site (in this case you may want to also pack a hard hat and ear plugs). Watching a building take shape over a period of time can inspire one to imagine their own story being built from the ground up. Or maybe the process could be used in a plot twist!
  • A vacant old house or home place where only the chimney still stands. Oh, the stories an old home place can tell if we’re only willing to be quiet and listen.
  • A local walking bridge. Try to enjoy this when the foot traffic isn’t busy.
  • Beside a local river. Pack a lunch and a blanket. Find joy in the small wonders surrounding you.
  • In the mall. Searching for fresh dialogue? Park yourself on a bench with a cup of coffee {a necessity for proper snooping} and take a listen. Or watch body language. It’s all there.
  • In your local airport. Either go inside or park where you can watch the planes land. Imagine the destination of the planes taking off. Enjoy the faces of those seeing loved ones for the first time in awhile.
  • On a dock overlooking a quiet lake.
  • Hop on a local bus and make a round trip around town.
  • Find a beautiful local garden and ask permission to write there for awhile.
  • Your local cemetery. {This isn’t as creepy as it sounds.} Much can be learned from a walk through an eternal resting spot.
  • Go to your local library. 
  • Forget the cafe — go to your favorite restaurant. Sit in the corner, order your favorite meal {or dessert}, and savor the moment, with pen in hand, of course.
  • A room or area in your home where you’ve never written before. Maybe it’s the kitchen, back porch, front porch, bedroom, etc. Or if you’re a young mom, the bathroom may be your only escape. Indulge yourself with a bubble bath while you allow ideas to soak in. {Sorry, pun intended}
  • Tour a local museum. Drink it in. Find a shady tree not far away, sit or park your vehicle and write down every detail you remember.
  • An empty high school stadium. {But a visible spot.}
Five Bonus Settings:
  • A zoo. Take a stroll through the animal park observing minute details. Who wouldn’t be awe-inspired by God’s creative design? This would be another good opportunity for lunch with a pen and paper.
  • An observatory. If you don’t have one where you live, simply step outside at night. Take notes on your phone or if it’s warm outside write beside a patio lamp. If it’s cold and you’re a brave soul, write by a campfire.
  • A rooftop terrace. Many cities have restaurants that offer rooftop dining. If it’s a pricey place, simply order dessert. Savor it…and the view.
  • A friend’s house. And if your friend happens to have a beautiful view or a lush garden, even better! You could trade places for the day or simply ask to write when they’re out and about for a few hours. After all, what are friends for?
  • Dare I say, an overnight stay? It doesn’t have to be far away but it’s surprising how a change of scenery can up our creative ante.

Elizabeth S. CraigI’m excited to share that the original post for the above 15 ideas was recently listed in Elizabeth S. Craigs’ “Top Tweets in 2016”. You will want to bookmark her post and revisit it many times over. It’s chock-full of the most popular tweets/links!

So now it’s your turn. Is there a particular setting listed above that strikes your fancy? Is there another setting you would like to add to the list? Please share!

 

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Re-Gifting the Beautiful Gift of the Gospel

The Gift of the Gospel
No greater gift exists than the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the very definition of Christmas.

As mentioned in last week’s post, there seems to be a softness to one’s soul this time of year. Songs, the scent of certain foods, hymns, readings, and traditions take many of us back to simpler days. But this divinely placed soft spot also gives us unique opportunities to invite others into our story, into the story of the gospel.

I couldn’t close this Christmas mini-series without focusing on the greatest Gift ever, so here are five ways we can share the gift of knowing the one true living God (not to be confused with knowing about God). Thank You, Jesus.

5 Ways We Can Share the Gospel This Christmas

Add an extra gift to your list. Do you have those on your Christmas list who do not have a relationship with Christ? Consider purchasing a small gift that could be given in addition to a gift of their choice. This way, they might be more open to enjoying the extra gift rather than resenting it. Some ideas might be a book, bookmark, or a candle with John 8:12 written on an attached note.

Invite that person God has been laying on your heart to join you for coffee. Pray for ways to share your gospel story. It’s one story that can never be disputed! {If this person is not the same sex as you, invite your wife/husband/friend to join you. It’s just a wise thing to do.}

Give purpose to your Christmas light expeditions around local neighborhoods. This year will be the first in over twenty years that our family hasn’t driven around our local neighborhoods that we love so much. We’ve all moved to different areas but putting the kids (or grandkids!) in pj’s and riding around on holiday nights leaves lasting memories. I wish I’d thought of this particular idea I’m sharing today before our boys grew up. {We always judged the lights – how’s that for sharing the love?) Here goes: Before you go, share different ways you can pray for people you don’t know. Write them down and take them with you. Before you pull out of the driveway, pray that the Holy Spirit will make each person sensitive to His leading in praying for complete strangers on your route. Take turns praying for whatever houses you feel led to pray for. If you’re in a neighborhood and it’s safe, pull over and pray in front of the home. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. Something as simple as “Lord, please give this family peace” is a sweet fragrance to God.

Pray before our feet hit the floor. Opportunities, especially during this season, are ripening Cookies with purposeall around us. Pray that the Holy Spirit would make you sensitive to His leading as you go through your day. Purposeful prayer is a potent weapon!

Bake cookies. But don’t stop there! Choose cookie cutters that hold a symbol of the gospel story: a star, cross, heart, cradle, etc. Be creative! Write out a corresponding verse (Google “scripture” and then a particular shape or object and see what happens!). Attach your verse and note to the cookies. Or use Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good”. Deliver the cookies with a warm smile and release the results to God.

I pray that you and your family will have a
beautiful,
blessed,
grace-filled,
forgiven and Gospel-driven Christmas.

{And a Happy New Year! See you in January!}

This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ. – Frank McKibben

You might like:
The Meaning of the Gospel – Tim Keller

10 Ways to Help Fall Linger A Little Longer

Helping Fall to Linger LongerWho wouldn’t want fall to linger a little longer? It ushers in a season of crisp breezes, ripe apples, crackling fires, and a host of other sensory delights. I’m convinced heaven will be an eternal season of fall. {Of course, we know where that lands Summer. Sorry, Brian and other summer lovers}.

Today I’m sharing ten ways that will help us to embrace this vibrant season for all its worth. Some of these ideas include affiliate links (marked by *), but all opinions are my own.

  1. Read a Proverb every day…aloud. Don’t know which one to read? Choose the chapter that corresponds with the day you’re reading. Because there are 31 Proverbs you can’t go wrong! I’m often surprised by how His Word lines up with circumstances taking place on that particular day. Read it aloud to engage another sensory, leaving a greater impact that will help you retain the truths you read.
  2. Buy a new mug. I purchased a white-washed one at Target last week that reads “Warm & Cozy”. It reminds of chunky knit scarves, warm cups of tea and my beloved electric blanket. It reminds me of fall. Novel Teas Uncommon Goods
  3. For my literary friends, you’ll enjoy the above treat. In past years, I’ve bundled up individual packets of Novel Teas* to share with fellow writers, agents, editors, etc., at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. (These would also make for great literary-lovers stocking stuffers!) See the entire Birthday collection here.
  4. Savor a good book. Don’t rush it. Turn each page with purpose, taking time to underline meaningful words, phrases, and sentences. My two reads for this fall are “Jesus and the Beanstalk” by Lori Roeleveld and “The Story of With” by Allen Arnold (thanks to Lynn Blackburn’s review). Gratitude Uncommon Goods
  5. Invite the spirit of gratitude year-round by gifting this to yourself. Writing notes of gratitude is one simple, yet powerful gesture to show other people how thankful you are for them. A Year of Gratitude* provides 52 thank you note cards along with tips on sending out a note card each week for a year. {Maybe we should start a gratitude challenge!}
  6. Take a country drive to stare at the stars. Since moving to the country one of my favorite destinations can be found outside on pitch-black nights. The stars cover the sky like a lit blanket. Rarely do I gaze upwards without Psalm 147:4 on the forefront of my mind: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Bundle up, head outside on a clear night with a blanket, and consider your mighty God as you star gaze.
  7. Take pleasure in the sunrise and sunset at least once a week. I’m more apt to take a quick glance out the window to see the sunrise or sunset and then move on with my day. Maybe you are too. But one way to make fall linger a little longer is to embrace the fullness of each day. Why not begin with enjoying how God bookends our days? Pop on a warm sweater, pour a hot cup of tea and head outside to watch the sun rise. Ask God what He desires for this day. And as the sun sets later in the day, thank Him for the day and whatever it contained, confident that it was of His design for your life.
  8. Take pictures. Pack your phone or camera and ride to places that remind you most of the fall season. Maybe it’s a nearby waterfall, mountain, or park. Or maybe your photo expedition leads you to your own backyard. Take a snapshot of those things that will bring a smile to your face long after the season ends. Date Night Bucket List
  9. Spend time with loved ones. Few things bring more enjoyment than spending time with friends and family. Go to festivals, pumpkin patches, take hay rides or pick apples. If you’re searching for fun ideas to do as a couple, this gift will go a long way in snuffing out the, “What do you want to do tonight?” type questions. My usual answer is “Whatever you want to do” which sometimes lands us in front of the TV watching army shows with bagged popcorn. But no more! Date Night Bucket List* to the rescue. Date prompts on birch wood sticks take all the guess work out of the night. (There’s also this one for families!) See the entire Anniversary collection here.
  10. Perform kind gestures. This might include raking leaves, picking up sticks and branches, or baking a loaf of pumpkin bread. Doing acts of kindness as a family is one way to instill the importance of putting others first into children and grandchildren. I know this firsthand as my dad was always chopping wood/kindling for elderly neighbors in the fall and winter. We would quietly stack the goodies by their door. The purpose wasn’t to receive accolades but to simply bless another person. Little did he know how his gestures of kindness would carry on throughout the generations.

I hope the above ideas will get the proverbial wheels turning to come up with your own ideas {please share in the comment section!}. As mentioned earlier in the post, a few of the above ideas include affiliate links to Uncommon Goods. Not only is it a store filled with unique and creative gifts it’s also one that values sustainability. This is seen in many of their products* as they offer handmade, recycled, and organic items. One thing I most appreciate when perusing their site is how they highlight their artists. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself.

Your turn! How do you help this season to linger a little longer?

 

Related Items:
-Jesus and the Beanstalk, by Lori Roeleveld {sign up for her award-winning blog and receive a free chapter of Jesus in the Beanstalk}.
The Story of With, Allen Arnold (and Lynn Blackburn’s review}.
-The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference

 

25 Things I’m Loving Right Now {From Practical to Posh}

castles-616573_640I state the obvious first — God, my husband, family, and friends will top any “Things I’m Loving” list ever created. The list below is quite frankly, cathartic. Life has been a whirlwind in recent months and I don’t see the winds dying down for awhile. So I do what I do…make lists.

I hope some of these things I’m loving right now will resonate with you and perhaps even prompt you to consider your own surroundings along with the many blessings tucked in between your days.

 

  1. Spacious places. Psalm 18:19 is my go-to verse with this next move. “He brought me out into a spacious place…”
  2. DW Home Hand-Poured Candles. Vanilla Bean, to be specific. I purchased every last one TJ Maxx carried –  to the tune of 35.00+ worth. Yes, they’re that delicious.
  3. Poetry. I love to read it …and write it.
  4. My church. It’s a church that loves well, no matter what.
  5. My great-grandparent’s bible. Its underlined scripture hints to the legacy they would leave behind.
  6. Peppermint Snow. Dee Dee Parker’s Christmas novella that is sure to be a best-seller one day!
  7. Exchange Coffee. My local coffee shop that makes the best lavender lattes, hands down.
  8. Pride & Prejudice, A&E version with Colin Firth. And only this version. Swoon-worthy.
  9. The original scent of Downy softener. It reminds me of my grandmother’s laundry days.
  10. A charm bracelet with each of my grandchildren’s names forged on a separate heart. {They are my heart.}
  11. Vintage VW vans. Because everybody has a little hippie in them!
  12. My worn lot of cookbooks, {I’m afraid this might be as posh as I get. Sad, I know.}
  13. Blogging. Absolutely. Love. It.
  14. Soft breezes on scorching hot days. A reminder that refreshment can rise even on the driest of days.
  15. Owls. Maybe it’s a throwback to the 70’s but I love them.
  16. Tiny houses. {Especially as an Airbnb on our future property!}
  17. Chickens and goats and rabbits, oh my!
  18. Pastures & ponies. These two ‘p’s’ equal a third: Peaceful.
  19. My bible. I’ve had it since 1991. Its pages paper thin and lovingly marked.
  20. White walls, chalkboards, and Mason jars decor. {Does that count for 3?}
  21. Girl gatherings. It’s been awhile since I’ve hosted one of these but once we get moved, preparest thou!
  22. Chenille blankets. Vintage chenille blankets. Soft, warm, and plush comfort. {Especially on snowy days.}
  23. The way my grandchildren smile when we first see them. {Be still my heart.}
  24. Music. The gift of music meanders its way through the soul like nothing else.
  25. Rainy days when I don’t have to be anywhere. Showers falling, coffee in hand, and a good book. {Exhale.}

Do any of the above items trigger your own love-fest? I’d love to read 25 things you love, so if you decide to do the same on your blog please let me know.  Even if you decide not to publicly share your list, I encourage you to make it anyway.

It will do the soul good. Very good.

Did I happen to mention the cupcakes at Exchange Coffee?
Did I happen to mention the cupcakes at Exchange Coffee? Okay, that makes 26.

3 More Ways to Fill A Mug with Encouragement

A Cup of Encouragement
The sooner we stop believing the lie that we must offer some grand gesture to make a difference, the sooner more souls will find rest⎯the kind of rest a good, good Father desires for His children.

Maybe you remember the above quote from last month’s post? It was there I first mentioned the idea of sharing a small {but meaningful} gift with someone in need⎯be it spiritually, emotionally, or physically.

So let’s look at three more ways we can fill a simple mug to the glory of God!


3 Ways to Fill A Mug With Encouragement

 

Be still and know that I am God __ Psalm 46_10

My love of mugs began way back when in a yellow-clad kitchen where my grandmother savored her morning cups of Yuban coffee served up in a thick-rimmed Homer Laughlin coffee cup. You might remember those cups from roadside diners or Howard Johnson motels back in the 60’s. These coffee cups with heft can still be spotted in local antique shops and estate sales. If this isn’t an option any thicker mug will do.

Here’s the question: Who are you praying for on a regular basis these days? Consider inserting a note inside a mug that says something like…Every time you sip from this gift, remember that just as this mug surrounds your coffee, my prayers surround you. You are loved, never forgotten. {Psalm 125:2}

 

Be still and know that I am God __ Psalm 46_10-1

Got a new neighbor? Go ahead and bake up those chocolate chip cookies but this time, stack them and place in a mug of your choosing, along with a simple note welcoming them to your neighborhood. Awhile back, I shared in this post how a friend of mine, Kim Rhodes, displays Christ in such an organic, authentic way by loving her neighbors well. Because summertime isn’t a friend to chocolate, you’ll want to drop this off when your neighbor is at home. It will also give you a chance to personally welcome them!

 

Be still and know that I am God __ Psalm 46_10-2

Who couldn’t use a God-kiss from time-to-time? Okay, God didn’t manufacture them but Hershey’s did, and we know all good things come from Him. {Pardon the stretch.} Nevertheless, we all know someone who could use an edible tangible reminder that God is with them right there, in the thick of their problem. Fill up a mug with Hershey’s chocolate kisses along with this note:

God Kisses
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Each time you take a kiss be reminded of God’s goodness… and name each one aloud.

For all of the above mug ideas, remember to encourage the recipient to pass it on. But most importantly, stay sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. He may want to change it up…and if so, to God be the glory!

Is there one of the three above ideas that resonates with you today? Or do you have additional ideas to share? If so, please share in the comment section. Thank you!

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