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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A Prayer For Those Desiring a Teachable Spirit

A Teachable Spirit

I remember the days when my spirit was anything but teachable. I wasn’t under the tutelage of the Spirit at the time but perhaps a person can’t fully embrace the beauty of a teachable spirit until they have been broken by dirt poor wisdom.

Today’s post is for those who long to have a teachable, pliable, open heart to God. For those who want to wake up brimming with expectancy, fully confident that the same God who spoke life into existence long ago is even more excited to speak life into your soul this very day.

Psalm 25

Psalm 25:1-5

 

Show me your WAYS, O LORD

In Your
I-can’t-see-it-but-I-still-believe-it // unexpected // behind-the-scenes // life-awakening // justified // higher-than-mine // sovereign // heart-seeking // turn-the-other-cheek // love-those-who-pounce-on-you // Fatherly ways

TEACH me your paths;

Through
life-giving words that awaken the deadest of hearts // answered prayer // prayers yet to be answered // nature // words from babes // the deepest and darkest moments // abundant-life chasers // staying in step with the Spirit // humility

Guide me in the TRUTH

The truth that sets me free from
perfection // deception // grip of sin // disastrous decisions // legalism // mistaken identity // wasted time // the lie that says I must be doing in order for God to love me, accept me // the prison of my own conscience

for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.

 

Desiring a Teachable Spirit

Father,

With outstretched hands, I adore You, here and now.
Your ways soar above my own.
Your timing. It is precise, perfect. It is never one second too soon or too late.
Your presence. It is sweet and strong. It surrounds me, comforts and encourages me.
Sovereignty reigns in You alone. Nothing escapes Your attention, or care.
Even Your instruction⎯Your discipline⎯is a display of Your deep love for me. In this, I am confident for You are a good Father.

Obedience is Your love language.

Without You, I am nothing, Pappa.
Before You, I lay bare every lie I’ve ever believed that I could do anything meaningful without You.
I confess my pride — the idea that I have all of You that I need.
Though these words never leave my lips, this lie latches onto my actions. You see it when I refuse to ask questions for fear of seeming less-than. And when I choose not to listen well to wise counsel, or invest time in reading, studying, and taking notes to become more like Jesus.
I say I need You but I don’t seek You like a parched woman thirsting for water.
Please forgive me.

Father, this is my heart cry today, and every day:
Create within me a teachable spirit.
One that longs for You, thirsts for You, and finds everything I need in You.
For You alone are worthy.
Cloak me in discernment and wisdom to guard against sin and its disastrous effects,
for sin never leaves its slimy imprint on just one person’s life.
Pry open each finger of resistance to display an open hand and heart
desiring only You, Your ways, Your timing.

Amen.

 

// Your Turn //

 

Is there a word or phrase from the above prayer that you desire to make your own before the Lord? Or, what is one specific way you pray for a teachable spirit? Please share.

 

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How A Simple Arrow Can Point You in the Right Direction

An arrow pointed in the right direction

Ah, the bow and arrow. Now that both of our boys are honing their archery skills my appreciation for this form of weaponry has increased. Or maybe it actually began years ago when a pastor spoke on how our children are like arrows. How they were created to be released, not kept in the quiver. How we as parents are to release them into the care of their Creator, not hide them away for safe keeping. The message is a decade old and yet it still circles my mind like the hawks seeking their prey just outside my window.

This type of encircling is easier to understand when you consider the purposes of the different parts of the arrow. I’m sure there are deeper, more complex comparisons out there but here’s what I see when I spot a simple arrow.

orange arrow

How A Simple Arrow Can Point Us in the Right Direction:

 

Shaft // Jesus Christ

The shaft is the spine of the arrow and it is foundational. Everything else adheres to it.

John 15:5 reminds us, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” The Lord breathed temporal days into our lungs and eternal life into our soul. He is the foundation for all of life. We cling to Him like tendrils clutch to the branch and it is there we find joy, purpose, hope, and rest.

Feathers // Holy Spirit

Feathers on an arrow are also referred to as fletching. It creates wind drag. This stabilizes the arrow in flight, boosting its accuracy. It also helps to keep the back end of the arrow behind the front.

John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” The Spirit within us is the Keeper of all things⎯He prompts, reminds, convicts, encourages, teaches, and reveals. He offers stability as we stay in step with Him through obedience. And much like the feather on the tail-end of an arrow, the Holy Spirit is quick to reveal when we get out of the “let’s follow-the-Leader line”.

Nock // Community

This small plastic groove on the rear end of the arrow holds the arrow in place on the string until its power is released.

When I notice the nock of an arrow I think of fellow believers. In biblical community, there is power released, wouldn’t you agree? You can feel it⎯this synergy that we share in Him.

Arrowhead // Our Purpose

An arrowhead is the point of an arrow and there are various types. Each with a different purpose and advantage.

Sound familiar? Your arrow may fly farther than mine and that’s okay. In fact, it’s glorious! You are fulfilling your God-given purpose and I am fulfilling mine. Sometimes the Archer angles His bow at a 45-degree angle and at other times, 30-degrees. We trust and rest in knowing He never misses His target for our lives.

Arrow Stone

You may have read this post about the recent Valentine Tea I hosted for my critique group. One of their take-home gifts was this arrow-etched stone. While carefully placing each stone in my shopping cart, I thought of God and the master Archer that He is, gently pulling us from His omniscient quiver and releasing us into a particular sphere of influence. One of His making. Doors of opportunity will open, and some will slam shut. Nevertheless, the Archer’s aim is steady and the arrowhead, weighted in purpose.

Yes, there will be days when we feel more like the target rather than a weapon of truth in God’s quiver but when this happens, we need only consider the simple arrow and how it points us in the right direction: Jesus/Truth  // Power of the Holy Spirit // Biblical Community // Rest

Is there a particular “part” of the arrow that brings you assurance in the midst of your current circumstances? Is there some way I can pray for you today? I would count it a privilege if you would like to share in the comment section or message me via Facebook.

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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Why We Need A Place to Pray {& How to Find it}

viewquiettimemg_3667It’s no secret that we can pray in any place we choose but there’s something {at least for me} about having a dedicated space that helps me to stay focused on God and His Word.

Moving into a smaller home forced us to downsize in every way, especially when it came to furniture. But one thing I rallied to keep was a 3 piece set from the first ice cream parlor in Simpsonville SC, and I’m so glad I did. Even though a 7′ farm table sits nearby, this parlor table found its own niche tucked between two large glass pane windows that frame the mountains quite nicely.

It’s at this table, that the various needs surrounding my day {dirty dishes, soiled clothes, dusty surfaces, etc.) fade into the background, fueling my engagement with God. It’s as if the brain knows this when I sit in that particular spot. If not the brain, then it must be the heart.

I remember when the boys were young my go-to prayer spot was on the end of a hand-me-down oversized sofa. Some days, I’d simply curl up, confident of my heavenly Father’s presence surrounding me. You know, when that kind of truth settles deep, it can change a person’s life. And it did. I’ll never forget that corner of prayer.

We all know there’s nothing magical or mystical about a particular place to pray. Being in a certain spot doesn’t reach God quicker or deeper. I think it simply signals to my body – emotionally, physically, and spiritually – that the temporal “stuff” needs to rest. Maybe the same is true for you — when the temporal pressures of the day begin to release their grip, eternal treasures gather both a brighter and clearer place in my mind and heart.

blogcanstockphoto16813515So, how do we find our own places of prayer?
  • Seek out a quiet place. Seems obvious, I know, but prayer has as much to do with listening as it does speaking or quietly sharing from our heart. When I show up to simply spew my desires {even godly ones!} it feels a bit more like Santa’s lap than a Savior’s embrace.
  • Find a “view”, or not. For some, a beautiful landscape, or whatever you consider to be beautiful within eyesight, can be a distraction. Not so for me but we’re all different and we need to find places that work towards focusing on God.
  • Recognize that the most vital placement question is that of the heart. Does prayer have a place in our heart? In our priorities?

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”
― Oswald Chambers

I’d love to know where you most often find yourself in prayer. Please share in the comment section below. If you’re searching for an inspiring post on prayer, there are many but this is one from Focus on the Family that covers a lot of bases.

Thank you for spending a few minutes of your day with me. Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

When Ministry Begins With a Simple Mug

A Cup of EncouragementIt needed a creative title. Or so I thought until this verse came to mind.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” Hebrews 13:3

Suddenly, having a carefully crafted title for this mini-ministry involving mugs didn’t matter all that much.

Because at every turn, we find people in need of encouragement.

So, how do we become more intentional in observing those around us who are in need of spiritual refreshment? Here are four ideas to get us started.

Pray. We can’t be everything to every person {Whew! What a relief!} but we can pray for the Holy Spirit to expand our spiritual vision and sharpen our discerning senses.

Watch. It’s one thing to pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes but it’s another to remain alert to His workings. When we pray, we’re to do so in expectation that He will answer. We don’t know how or when, but why bother praying if we’re not going to believe He is at work in and through those prayers? Yes, we pray first, but then we remain alert⎯sensitive⎯to what God may doing around us each day.

Listen. We must spiritually-hone our listening skills. This may will mean talking less and listening more.

Act. As God leads, we must be willing to follow through with what He begins, whether that’s approaching a person letting them know we’re praying for them, fixing a meal for a busy mom, or simply sharing a mug filled with prayer and encouragement.

So, for the past several weeks, snippets of an idea have been forming into what I’m sharing today. I pray it will continue becoming whatever God wants it to be, but so far, it goes something like this.

   blogpurchasemug
Purchase a mug. TJ Maxx and Ross offer an array of mugs, all under 5.00 each. Ideally, I try to spot one with scripture as we know God’s Word never returns void. He alone knows how His words brimming with life will touch another.

blogpraymug

Pray over it. Who might God want to encourage through this small gesture of caring? Pray, trust, and act.

blogfillmug

Fill it. Two things will be included in my mugs. A note letting the recipient know I’m praying for them, along with a specific scripture reference, and an inexpensive but thoughtful treat to enjoy during their time with God. Practically anything can be shared in the mug {more on this next week!}. One of my mugs is filled with tea bags and another one, Hershey kisses. {Next week I’ll share ways to tie simple items to scripture.}

blogsharemugShare it. You can hand it to the person, leave it on their doorstep, or mail it. In the past, I’ve left gifts on friend’s front door stoops with a gift signed simply from Jesus, because ultimately, the glory is all His anyway for it is His love that compels us to love in return.

blogpassitonEncourage the recipient to purchase another mug and pass that mug on to another person. This could be written on the card that you’ll enclose, or you can share the idea when you hand it off.

Consider how many people in our community could be encouraged by a simple mug and a sincere gesture.

Ministry in a mugThe author of Hebrews exhorts us to encourage one another daily because he knew the weight of this world would beat heavy on our exhausted souls.

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.

Cou●rage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

So, who do you know, or who will you cross paths with this week, that is need of mental or moral strength to be the spouse, parent, son, daughter, friend, or fellow God-glory seeker He has called them to be? They might need a hug, financial assistance, babysitting help, or they might simply need encouragement in the form of a Psalm 46:10 moment, with mug in hand.

What’s one simple way you encourage others?

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