Name Your Fears For What They Are and See What Happens When You Do

Name Your Fears

I’ve never been a fan of anything that slithers.

Having lived in the burbs for most of my life where the outdoors consisted of crumbling asphalt and the occasional stray cat, I wasn’t sure what country life would bring. I know what it brought our first night⏤a colorful snake coiled up next to the steps in our garage. That went over well. (But the swarm of honey bees that swept across our backyard on a warm summer day was a sight for these city eyes.)

There’s only one thing I dread out here and that’s moving anything outdoors⏤flower pots, deck chairs, outdoor rugs, etc. With even the slightest movement, some creature inevitably dashes (or slithers) away. Let’s just say that my tightly wound shrieks have become as common as the cock-a-doodle-doo next door.

So earlier this year, when a lizard matching the color of mulch darted in front of me, I did what any 6-year-old-at-heart would do. I named it. What once caused fear now prompted a smile. How could you fear a lizard named Ricky? (Lucy, Ethel, and Fred soon followed.)

 

The simple gesture of naming my fear weakened its ability and strengthened mine.

 

Some fears are easier to name than others. Snakes and lizards are visible, but others bury down deep refusing to surface unless they’re called out by name. Like the time not so long ago when Hurricane Florence pounced the Carolinas. Reality set in that the tiny house could buckle under the high winds even though we fastened her down the best we could. All the what-if’s kidnapped my peace.

What if the tiny house is destroyed? What if she’s damaged and requires even more time to complete it? What if I can’t minister as planned?

 

If I wasn’t careful, the name of this fear would soon become idol.

 

That was hard to write, and an even harder truth to swallow. What begins as a godly desire to build a tiny space to write, play, and minister, can quietly slip beyond its well-intended boundaries without warning.

 

Anything⏤including good, godly things⏤if held too tightly can become an idol.

 

When I recognized my fear of losing the tiny house and more importantly, the why behind it, I named it⏤called it out⏤before the Lord. With that confession came a speechless comfort. And yet, I knew I needed to put a few safeguards into place to prevent it from happening again. So I sat down with my Bible, pen, a sheet of paper, and my recently humbled heart {ouch!} and put these three grace-laced steps into place:

 

Safeguard the Heart

 

 

Start mornings with Psalm 139: 23,24.

This is one of the first verses I memorized but haven’t paid nearly enough attention to in recent months. He longs to show us the way and help us get back on the right track.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

On an index card, write a scripture verse that speaks to the issue, one biblical quote, and a scripture verse on God’s forgiveness and mercy.

I try to bookend the cards with scripture because the point of confession is not to receive an emotional “beating” but rather, to reconcile with a loving heavenly Father. The enemy would prefer us to believe otherwise, so putting this safeguard into place serves as a constant reminder to rely on truth, not feelings.

My current cards include:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14

“It (idolatry) means turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.” – Tim Keller

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

 

Pray a tiny {but powerful} prayer.

Memorizing scripture and seeing truths can change the trajectory of our days. But prayer instantaneously melds our desire to be on the right path in one breath with the power of God, the One who makes it happen, in the next. For me, it was as simple as⏤You alone, Lord, You alone.

 

Mustard Seed

To name our fear we must first recognize what lies beneath it.

 

Do you have a go-to verse when you need to be reminded of God’s love and forgiveness? If not, that’s okay! I encourage you to find one, memorize it, and take it with you wherever you go.

 

Thank you for making your way up the hill to hang out with me for a little while today. You’re always welcome here.

 

This is the final week of giveaways in celebration of The Tiny House on the Hill blog launch and I saved the best for last. After all, what better gift to celebrate the blog than these beautiful artisan *mustard seed* earrings?

To enter the random giveaway, simply share with others. For every share, you receive an entry. If you’re a subscriber, you receive two entries for every share. Be sure to tag me!

 

Mustard Seed Earrings

 

 

Three Ways to Draw Close to God This Fall

Draw Near to God

I’m convinced that if there’s an eternal season in heaven, it’s Fall.

It’s also the perfect season for spending time outdoors, finding quiet spots, and rousing our senses, so let’s consider three ways we can draw closer to God in the coming weeks.

 

1. Engage Your Senses

 

October delivers the swiftest punch of the twelve, offering up a whole host of sensory delights:

Feel: Chilled heavy breezes, rough-hewn rake handles, warm scarves snug around the neck
Taste: Candy corn, pumpkin pie, cinnamon stirred apple cider, S’mores
See: Brilliant hues, baring limbs, roaring bonfires
Hear: Crispy leaves underfoot, banjos picking atop flatbed trailers at local festivals
Smell: Smouldering logs from dampened campfires, the rancid scent of ripening pecans on the tree

My book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains, was written with the mingling power of our senses and God in mind. It’s also perfect for a staycation. *wink*

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

Mustard SeedTake note of your own sensory finds this fall. How can you “taste and see” that the LORD is good through each of your finds? 

Heavenly Father, awaken our senses to Your amazing creation as we go through our days this Fall. As we taste and see your goodness, may we be quick to give You all the glory. Draw us near. 

 

**Subscribers! Your October Monthly Letter should’ve landed in your inbox yesterday. In it, you’ll find your exclusive copy of Ten {Tiny} Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Autumn.

 

2. Spend Time Praying for Specific Things

 

What are you praying for these days? Maybe it’s for a person, a situation, or a whole laundry list of needs. Regardless, God hears you. Now add specificity and we’re given an opportunity to witness God’s awe-inspiring attention to detail in action.

 

One of those moments came for me one day while peering out our window. I’d not sensed His presence as much in recent weeks, even though I was confident He was there—whether I felt it or not. Nevertheless, like any daughter desiring to feel closer to her Father, I made a simple heartfelt request, Lord, I just want to know You’re near.

 

Before I caught my next breath, a brief blustery gust of wind swept through the trees closest to my window pane—without disturbing another tree in my yard.

 

To some, a ten-second gust of wind would simply appear as our season’s signature. And perhaps it was⏤but to me, at that moment, it was a reminder that He is that close.

 

Prayer is not monologued, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part. ~ Andrew Murray

 

Mustard SeedSet aside a night in October. Find a cozy corner, pour a cuppa Joe, and consider what one person or circumstance you can pray for specifically. Bonus points if you jot it down in a journal and watch expectantly for His answer.

 

Heavenly Father, I thank You that Your presence in our lives is never dependent on whether we feel like You are near, or not. As we seek to draw nearer to You, give us a holy boldness to pray specifically, trust fully, and watch in expectation. Amen.

 

3. Head Outdoors

 

October invites us to marvel at the artistic flair of our Creator the moment we step outdoors.

Consider for a moment how God could’ve surrounded us in a black and white existence. But instead, He gifted us with a kaleidoscope of colored leaves, bright-colored pumpkins, crisp red apples for the picking, and honey-brown fried apple pies with a light dusting of sugar. Oh wait, do those count?

I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. Isaiah 45:12

 

Mustard SeedTake a walk and focus on one masterpiece in nature. Note the intricate details⏤perhaps things you’ve never noticed before. Consider spending time with God, thanking Him for your find.

Heavenly Father, our hearts bend toward You in gratefulness for the many ways You lavish us with Your love, grace, and mercy. Help us not to pass by Your creative works without a worship-filled pause. 

 

So, which of the three “mustard seed moments” activities might you consider doing this month? 

 

But first! A tremendous thanks to everyone for the success of last week’s launch of the Tiny House on the Hill.

Watch for a NEW *tiny* inspired giveaway every Tuesday through October 16th.

Enter this week’s giveaway by sharing the NEW meme located on my Facebook page. You must tag me to be entered. If you’re a subscriber, you receive two entries for every share. *Because you’re awesome*

Journals

journal

 

Hibernate in Prayer to Awaken Your Soul in 2018

Hibernate in Prayer

There once was a man who loved Jesus with his whole heart. He also loved his family, served the church faithfully, and gave sacrificially, often in secret. When an evangelist joined his family for dinner the night before a revival, this man confided in the evangelist that he felt uncomfortable praying aloud in church. So, what did the evangelist do? He called on this man to pray during the revival. The congregation closed their eyes on cue but the man stood up and politely said, “No thank you” and sat back down.

That man was my paternal grandfather and I’m quite proud of him. Proud, you say? Yep. He wasn’t a hypocrite. Sure, he could’ve stood up, put on a certain air of confidence and spurted out eloquent words in an attempt to save face, but I suppose that prayer would’ve only reached the height of the chandeliers dangling overhead.

 

Jesus has something to say about those kinds of prayers.

 

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:5-6

Jesus doesn’t deny the need for public prayer. He prayed publicly, as did the early church. And there’s nothing wrong if someone hears us pray. Jesus is simply getting to the heart of the matter: The motive.

“Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret.” Oswald Chambers

God meets us in the secret place. It’s there we hibernate⏤where we are not seen, just as God is not seen. The King James Version refers to this place as a closet.

 

I don’t know about you, but my closet isn’t the first place that comes to mind when I think of meeting God in prayer.

 

I’m more liable to get a concussion from falling debris than I am finishing my prayer. Thankfully, we’re not bound to a closet or a particular room. Maybe it’s a corner, or a desk, outside, or in an outdoor shed. It’s more about finding a place to pray that’s free from distractions and the temptation to be heard. {Party of two, please!}

But it’s not just any prayer meeting. The word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 to describe the room or closet is derived from the word tamion, which makes me a tad giddy because it describes the inner rooms of ancient Hebrew homes that were used as a storehouse or a place of protection.

 

When we hibernate in prayer, we come to a place of abundance, not scarcity.

 

God is our storehouse. We step foot into our own tamion and find He is already there. We ask for wisdom. James 1:5 says God gives it to us generously without finding fault. We ask for physical healing, financial provision, boldness to share the gospel, or the return of a wayward child.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, but you may be aware of three of them.” John Piper

God is our place of protection. Spiritual attacks, temptation, anxiety⏤whatever requires His protection this side of heaven, God stands ready to provide it from a place of abundance.

We have God’s full attention and He has ours, there in the secret place. But first, we must come.

How to Hibernate in Prayer During Every Season in Life

Jot down hibernation dates on your calendar.

The power of prayer floods the heavenlies, whether it’s done publicly, privately, or spontaneously. It’s all biblical. But hibernating in prayer requires intentionality⏤giving a hint as to its power. When we are deliberate in making time to meet with God we can testify that unexpected circumstances begin to happen. Our perspective becomes sharper, our hope takes flight, and we move through our days with deeper purpose.

Be content with a heavenly reward.

Yes, those rewards which bring immediate gratification like a slick, newly painted wall are enjoyable but they’re temporal. Those who pray “the right words” in order to impress others receive their reward right there on the spot. When we pray in secret with pure motives, God says He will reward us. I tend to believe the reward is the fact that our almighty God bends to hear the quiet desires of His children, and answers those prayers for our ultimate good. But perhaps there’s even more?

Pray aloud.

So, how do we know if we’re hibernating in the right spot? We’ll feel comfortable praying aloud. I can’t explain it, but when audible words meet the inaudible desires of my heart it feels as if a victorious tag-team is taking place in my soul. And yet, there will be days when we have no words, and that’s okay, too. Romans 8:26 says the Holy Spirit stands ready to intercede for us with groanings too deep for words. There is no right or wrong way to pray in our Father’s presence.

When we intentionally spend time with God in secret, our soul awakens to divine possibilities that surround us every day. Maybe we’ll discover that it’s possible to spontaneously pray for the weary mom behind us in the check-out line. Or to become who God created us to be, flaws and all, for His glory. Or maybe, just maybe, we find the courage to pray aloud in a church gathering.

“Awake, my soul!” Psalm 57:8

What’s one thing you are praying for yourself in 2018?

 

5 Ways to Settle the Soul Before December Begins + A Free E-book Reminder!

Settle the Soul Now

I want it to be different than the year before⏤you know, the way I go about celebrating the Christmas season.

Every December begins the mad dash to buy gifts, decorate rooms, pick out a fresh Christmas tree, make never-ending grocery lists, mail invitations, start new traditions and bake favorite foods.

And yet, one thing I’ve learned this year is that if I don’t take a few minutes each day to move me closer to necessary changes, nothing happens⏤nothing changes.

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” – Albert Einstein

So, before the hoopla of the season hijacks the days of our December, let us consider small but specific ways to settle the soul and savor the beauty of our Savior.

 

Every Day in December

Step outside for five minutes.

 

Depending on our season in life, this may mean stepping out while little ones nap or watch a favorite Christmas movie. It may require a bundling process but we can do this. Inhale and take in all God has for you. Thank Him. May we see⏤really see⏤our surroundings and remember the humble beginning of our Savior.

Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Read and meditate.

 

If possible, read from your hard copy instead of the phone. Intentionally slow down to ponder God-breathed words as you listen to crisp vellum-thin pages turn one by one. Click here to access Daily December Scripture Readings if structure is your friend (we’re BFF’s, by the way!) Obviously, longer reads are ideal but if given the choice to glaze over a chapter or indulge in a hand-full of verses, I’ll choose the latter any day, especially in December.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. -Matthew 2:10

 

Savor a favorite cup of coffee or tea.

 

What does this have to do with settling the soul? On the mornings I choose the sip over the gulp, my day begins on a calmer note. Couple that time with reading scripture, and it becomes both calming and enlightening, for nothing is sweeter than conversing with my heavenly Father over a hot cup of brew. Sometimes I even pull up a nearby chair to remind myself that yes, His presence is that real.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” -John F. MacArthur

 

Play Christ-centered Christmas music.

 

I’m a huge Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mathis fan. Tears hit the brim line when I hear these artists at Christmas. Immediately, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s house where her stereo console turned all their albums upstairs while she crafted homemade fudge in the kitchen. Nowadays, we play a variety of music during the Christmas season but mostly our music consists of a few favorites. My absolute favorite artist is Michael Card. I’ve played several of his songs from The Promise in my bible studies throughout the years. A few other favorites are: Behold the Lamb by Andrew Peterson, City on a Hill: It’s Christmas Time by various artists and Windham Hill’s Christmas Solitude, which is instrumental. Its quiet notes quiets the heart. And a quiet heart is a receptive one.

O come, let us adore Him. (Based on Luke 2:15-16)

 

Light a Candle.

 

Before bedtime, light a Christmas candle. Marvel at its glow. Reflect on the warmth and the beauty discovered in the flickering light. Inhale and enjoy its fragrance. Close out your day by quietly worshipping the Light of the World who was born on a bed of straw that we might one day walk streets of gold.

I have come into the world as light so that no one who believes me need remain in the dark. – John 12:46

 

Is there one thing you would plan to change as you move through the days of December? If so, please share!

 

Settle My Soul

 

 

Christmas PausesSubscribers! Watch for your gift scheduled to arrive in your inbox tonight. This e-book offers Christ-centered celebration tips for each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

 

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How to Pocket Your Prayers

Pocket Prayers

I’m thankful the act of prayer isn’t limited to bent knees, closed eyes, or hushed silence.

Prayer is simply conversing with our heavenly Father. I use the word simply because, in the past, I’ve made it much more complicated than I believe God ever intended. Guilt whispered if my prayers weren’t long enough⏤whatever that means⏤or if I failed to use what I call “pretty” words. Let’s face it, we all know someone who prays so eloquently that we peek in the middle of her prayer in hopes of catching a glimpse of angel wings hidden beneath the “I Love Clemson” sweatshirt. (What can I say, my someone loves her tigers!)

I’m not an eloquent pray-er. After over two decades of praying aloud, I still stumble through the words, especially when I pray with others. At home, my eyes are open and my voice is loud. For some reason though, I always shut my eyes in a crowd, leading to a major distraction when my eyes start simmering from the mascara slowly melding my eyelashes together. But I digress.

As a new believer, I began to journal my prayers. My first journal was a $1.99 three-subject stark green notebook from Walmart. l still have it today, twenty-five years later. Since then, I’ve varied prayer formats. Sometimes I list out my prayers and other times I use paragraphs or even, well…doodles. These days, I use a plain ole blank steno from Barnes and Noble. I think we can agree that in the end, it’s not so much about the method of our prayers but the heart from which they are prayed.

In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. John Bunyan Click To Tweet

When I received the Giving Shawl for my birthday, prayer ideas soon began to emerge. (Maybe I should re-name it the Prayer Shawl!) One idea I’m currently giving a whirl is what I call pocket prayers. I cut small pieces of paper, and on each piece, I write the name of one person from my list. The prayed-over congregate in an owl-cloaked pencil case.

Want to give pocket prayers a try?

Prayer for my pocket

Two Ways to Pocket Your Prayers

On the mornings I mull over my prayer list and pray, the power of prayer extends for one person/group on the list by choosing a piece of paper from the case. Sometimes the Holy Spirit burdens the heart for one particular person but if not, it’s a random draw (at least on my part.) The piece of paper is then tucked in my pocket for the day.

On the hectic mull-less mornings, I open the envelope, pull out a name/group and slip it in my pocket so I can pray for him/her throughout the day.

Either way, that person or group remains with me both physically and spiritually. Most importantly, I’m reminded to pray for them each time I reach into my pocket. Maybe it’s for the keys, a grocery list, or the extra packs of Stevia stowed away for my coffee stop on the way home. Or perhaps it’s not the touch of the paper that reminds me to pray but the sound of crinkled paper in my coat pocket.

(If you’re pocket-less, try writing the name on a sticky notepad and placing it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day. If the desire is there, the ideas will follow.)

To some, an idea like this might seem so simple that it’s silly. But I venture to say there’s nothing silly about becoming more intentional in praying for another person. I just need tangible reminders and maybe I’m not alone.

“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds, Crosswalk

How can I pray for you today?

 

4 Ways We Can Pray for Our Adult Children

Praying for Our Adult Children

I wish they could have started sooner⏤the prayers for my children.

When I entered into a relationship with Christ at the age of twenty-seven, my boys were ages 6 and 2.  I desperately wanted the cycle of divorce to end with me and for a new legacy to begin with them⏤one that would carry on to future generations I would never know. So I began praying specifically for:

  • Their future spouses and their families.
  • Our sons and their future wives to remain sexually pure until marriage.
  • Them to know Christ at an early age —  by experience, not head knowledge.
  • Godly friends.
  • God to use them for His glory.

Years passed, the boys grew up and married two amazing young women with God-shaped hearts. They now have families of their own.

When the boys became husbands, I admit that my prayers were not as fervent for them as they once were. I don’t know why. Maybe without realizing it, I believed this momma’s prayers weren’t needed as much. And then I recalled separate conversations I had with both grandmothers when I was in my early 40’s. Each shared how they had prayed for me every day of my life. Wow, just wow.

How many can say they are prayed for daily? Let's be that person for our family! Click To Tweet

Today I’m sharing specific ways I’ve started praying for our sons and daughter-in-laws. I hope these will resonate in some way and inspire you to write out your own prayers.

I pray

Their hunger and thirst for Christ will only increase as they grow older

With a birthday just around the corner, I’m reminded how vital it is that I don’t become lazy in the faith. It’s not a realization that jumps out like a bad prank but rather one that eases in the back door of our heart with a pack of chips and a million excuses. I want to finish strong and I desire this for my children as well.

 

That they will grasp the depth of love God has for them

I want our children to be convinced of God’s love at a gut level because let’s face it, this truth is a game-changer, and one the enemy desires to keep hidden away in his slimy pocket.

I pray the following for my sons and daughter-in-laws, inserting their names in place of the pronouns. Whose name could fill in your blanks?

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen ________ with power through his Spirit in _______ inner being, so that Christ may dwell in _______ hearts through faith. And I pray that _________, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that _________ may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

 

Their protection⏤spiritually, emotionally, and physically

None of us are impervious to the sin that awaits us around the next corner. (The moment we believe we are, watch out!) I pray for my children to continue to grow deeply in love with Christ and with their spouses. For outside negative influences to stand at the gate of want with no hope of entrance into the minds and hearts of my loved ones.

 

A covering of wisdom and discernment

“Listen, I [wisdom] have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies; and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 8:6-11

Proverbs says that nothing we desire can compare to possessing wisdom. Thankfully, we need look only one direction for this wisdom: up.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

 

Linking arms in prayer

Imagine parents like you and me linking arms on the battlefield of prayer in support of our children⏤regardless of their age. If you’re not a parent, I can almost guarantee that you are influencing some young person in your circle of influence by your words and/or actions.

My arm is extended.  Wanna join me?

 

 

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