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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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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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!

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!)

 

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.

 

What is God Redeeming in Your Life Today? {And A Gift for You!}

Redemption

I marvel at God’s redeeming power. Salvation. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace.

Lives once lost, now saved — and that reality of redemption reaches deep into our days. Not one experience, one gift, one talent, one sin, one stumble, one glint of shame, one creative idea, or one of anything else is beyond His redemptive reach. He uses it all. Nothing in our life goes to waste.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

Today, the discussion of redemptive power in your life and mine continues on Karen ‘Girl’ Friday’s blog, “Hope Is Among Us”. Click her to join us. {And did I mention a Starbucks gift card will be given away in celebration of the this week’s launch of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach? What better way to celebrate than with a cup of coffee? It’s chock-full of sensory benefits! Visit Karen’s amazing site and leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing. See you there!}

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A THANK YOU GIFT… FOR YOU

Pauses SmallThank you to the best creative community ever! Your support and encouragement spur us all on to be the women God has created us to be. I’m deeply grateful for the amazing help you offered by sharing, purchasing, and reviewing my new book on its launch day Tuesday.

To celebrate, all new subscribers will receive an uber-cool beachy scripture-based coloring page. Design artist Brittany Leigh Powell of Britt Leigh Design & Marketing Studio created this just for YOU. {Current subscribers, if you did not receive the newsletter with the link to your coloring page, please let me know.} Enjoy!

Visit Brittany’s Etsy Store to grab your own cool designs for a multitude of projects.