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!

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

Pool gathering

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

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

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

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

Then Lori shared the following suggestion:

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Arrow

Jesus and the Beanstalk Giveaway

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

Jesus and the Beanstalk