Daring to step outside our comfort zones to talk with God reminds us how the faith walk is an adventure that was never intended to be squirreled away for safekeeping. It is flowing, never static. A verb, not a noun. In him, we live, and move, and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
In a recent Instagram post, Stephanie Smith (@stephduncansmith), shared this:
“Martin L. Smith, an Anglican monk, wrote a wonderful book on prayer The Word is Very Near You. In his chapter entitled “God is a Conversation,” he observes that we do not imitate prayer. Instead, we are invited to join a conversation that is already underway between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.”
So where can we join in the conversation this Spring?
A local coffee shop.
If the aroma and promise of “happy juice” (as my husband refers to coffee around here) aren’t enough to draw you in, step through the doors and let prayer be your guide. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you on how to pray for those seated around you, for the Baristas, for the woman seated in the corner, staring outside the window. With your intentional heart of prayer engaged, something much sweeter than foam swirled in a fancy design will waft through the air. (Here’s a post I shared a while back about my own coffee shop experience.)
Take a hike!
In most areas, spring is a perfect time to hit the trails. It’s not too hot or too cold and if we’re lucky, snakes are still hidden away wherever it is they go. Before the first shoe track smacks dirt, let’s jot down five things on the trail to find. And when we do, we can pause for a moment to thank God. Some things to look for on our hike might include a tiny critter, a particular wildflower or butterfly, moss, or a tree leaf.
Let’s face it, summer is just around the corner. As you walk on the treadmill, lift the weights, or row, row, row your boat, pause to take in your surroundings. Choose three people to pray for silently, trusting He knows their deepest needs. Or blanket the room in prayer as you remember 1 Timothy 4:8 ESV: For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Bundle up, tuck a blanket beneath your arm (or enjoy the leisure of a comfy outdoor chair), and look up! As you do, consider reading the scripture verses below:
He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the LORD is his name. Amos 5:8
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
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4
Gazing into the dark sky, let’s pay attention to how God might be leading us to pray for ourselves and for others. Maybe it’s to remember God’s sovereignty, His creative work, or to be reminded that since He knows the number of stars and calls them by name that He surely knows (and cares about) every detail of our lives.
Tis’ the season here in the south when we load up the kids, head to a nearby strawberry patch, and hand out cartons to hold the sweet red triangular fruit. The Bible talks about teaching our children as we go and this can happen in a strawberry patch, an apple orchard, a vegetable garden, or anywhere else when we talk about Psalm 34:8, Taste and see that the LORD is good. What personal story of God’s goodness can we share with others and offer prayers of thankfulness as we go?
Do any of the above ideas spark your interest? We’d love to know! Or is there another place, in particular, you enjoy praying during this glorious season? Share below and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for a cup of Starbucks coffee (in case you want to try the first idea.)
I often choose books based solely on what I need or want to learn at the time.
It’s why reading for the simple pleasure of it is a goal this year. Maybe Nancy Mitford says it best, “As far as I’m concerned, all reading is for pleasure.”
Today, I’m sharing both types of reads and I hope you’ll share your favorite(s) in the comment section.
(Note: This post contains affiliate links which simply means I may earn a small commission but it’s at no extra cost to you. Thank you!)
Garden Maker…Growing a Life of Beauty and Wonder with Flowers by Christie Purifoy
Beauty draws me in like a blazing fire does on bitterly cold nights. And Garden Maker is currently lit on my bookshelf. It is marked by beauty both visually and spiritually. Christie snapped all the shots for the book which is impressive as she doesn’t consider herself a professional photographer. But it’s her words I love even more. I’ve been a fan of hers since her first release, Roots and Sky. I also own her second book, PlaceMaker, and both are game-changers. In Garden Maker, her lyrical magic continues, but this time, she also gives practical advice on starting and tending a flower garden. I grew up gardening so I’m reading it more to be inspired by God’s truths displayed on every page in every possible way.
A favorite quote from Garden Maker: “Welcome to the garden. Welcome to this holy work. I understand if you are afraid. The thorns are knife-sharp, and the weeds are always waging their quiet wars. But here is the promise that has been made to each one of us: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5). Every garden is singing a song for the One who made us, and we are invited to sing along.”
When Strivings Cease…Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace, by Ruth Chou Simons
You know the saying about how you don’t know how much you need something until you have it? Enter When Strivings Cease. I’m halfway through the book and for good reason. With chapters like “Bent and Broken: Striving to Please” and “The Lunchroom: Striving to Belong”, it’s no wonder the pace has slowed to a savor, much like a fine cup of tea. I thought I knew a lot about the subject of grace but God’s Word and When Strivings Cease reveal I still have a lot to learn…and that’s okay.
A favorite quote from When Strivings Cease: “When we believe an earthly father is available, knowable, inviting and good, we go running to him. We don’t hesitate to pursue a father who welcomes us with open arms, who looks up from his work and really listens, who shows concern when we cry, who holds us when we ache, who’s patient with our petty complaints, and silly stories. In the same way, we go running to God when we believe him to be that kind of Father. But we shy away and guard ourselves more when an earthly father doesn’t pursue us or seems silent. When he is bad at listening or isn’t available. We hide. We stay away. We pretend. What we believe about our Father determines how we come to him—or if we come at all.”
The Lazy Genius Way…Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done
I’m all about getting stuff done because productivity is my love language — but blind spots exist and it’s why I bought The Lazy Genius Way. I want so badly to be “normal” when it comes to housekeeping. But normal I am not. I never have been. Don’t get me wrong, I love cleanliness and order like anyone else but I don’t see multiple stacks of books, scattered papers lists, specks of dust, or baseboards in need of a fresh coat of paint. To see these kinds of things, and to feel the weight of how I “should” stop what I’m doing to pick up, paint, or do whatever else it is that normal people do, paralyzes me. Kendra teaches her readers how to name what matters to them, and to release the pressure of the rest. Talk about freeing! (By the way, on her podcast last week she spoke on how productivity shouldn’t be the definer of a good day. I almost had to pull over to catch my breath.) I’ve already pre-ordered her latest book, The Lazy Genius Kitchen: Have What You Need, Use What You Have, and Enjoy it Like Never Before. She has fun free stuff on her site for those who pre-order.
A favorite quote from The Lazy Genius Way: “Decide once, on purpose, about everything, from the items in your closet to what’s on your calendar. A single, intentional decision relieves your brain of effort, freeing you to think about what matters to you instead of living in a cycle of choosing this and that over and over again.” Boom!
What’s one book you’re currently reading? What do you like most about it? Share below and you’ll be entered into the Starbucks giveaway for a hot cup of something to enjoy while you read.
Maybe you spotted our current gift for new subscribers, What to Pray for Room-by-Room? Together, we’ll walk through the rooms of your home as I share ideas on ways to pray for you, your family, guests, and even strangers. You’ll find the new subscriber box at the top of the sidebar. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time, but we hope you’ll feel right at home here in The Tiny House on the Hill.
How would it feel to catch your breath and have it turn into praise this Christmas season?
Because a pause is exactly that ⏤ seeing minutes for what they really are ⏤ moments pregnant with opportunities to draw closer to Jesus.
There are many ways to hit the pause button in December but today, I’m sharing two simple ideas that can be experienced either alone with the Lord, or with others. But first, let’s pray.
King Jesus, our hearts bow before You in reverence and awe of Your choice to come down so that we could one day be lifted up to live with You forever. Cement within our hearts a desire to meet with You, not for the sake of checking off a box, but for the sake of our souls. Awaken within us what has fallen asleep. Revive our hearts. Cultivate a robust faith that hums throughout our days with a fervency that refuses to be snuffed out by the temporal happenings of the world. You are our world. As the old hymn says, let this also be true in our hearts today and forevermore: Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. Amen.
Pause to Light a Candle
Place one un-lit candle on a table and turn out all the lights in the room. As you sit alone or with others, consider the ways our world would be different had Jesus not chosen to leave His throne to be born in a manger. Take a few moments to share your thoughts with God or with each other. Consider the depth of darkness our world would contain. It would invade our homes and hearts. There would be no hope of salvation or receiving God’s relentless mercy, or forgiveness. We would never know the goodness of our God, or the willingness of our Savior to die on our behalf so that we could live in the light of His grace in the here and now, and for eternity. Let these thoughts settle in your soul for a few moments.
After a time of sharing in the dark, light the candle. As you do, read John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Notice how one candle disperses the darkness around you. As you light candles throughout the Christmas season, remember your moments in the dark and rejoice for your King has come. Jesus is the Light of the World!
While indoors, read Luke 2:8-14 out loud and then step outside. Look up! Depending on the weather, you may see a chalkboard sky with shimmering stars or one curtained by clouds. Either way, imagine for a moment you are a shepherd going about your business when suddenly, an angel of the Lord appears, and the radiance of God’s glory lights up the darkness around you. (I imagine we’d all be startled and afraid as the shepherds were that holy night.) And then, just as you catch your breath, a host of angels illuminate the sky praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased”.
As you look to the sky, marvel at the wonder of God and how he chose to announce His Son’s birth to the simple, hard-working, shepherds.
When you step back inside your home, read Luke 2:15-16 out loud. Talk with God or with others about your own salvation story. Did God use a particular person to lead you to Jesus? Who might He be putting on your heart to share the Good News of the gospel?
Who would choose to write a book on grief—and how could that be God’s provision?
The third book in my Soul Care series is on grieving. I signed the contract for this series of books in 2018 and the publication of the books was the order set up then. The series idea was born out of a stressful time of caregiving and loss while my dad was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s.
I learned many valuable things during that writing journey. I discovered that the five stages of grief that everyone talks about—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance— aren’t really a set process. They’re a list of things that are common to most grieving events. For me personally, I found myself often skipping one stage, like anger, and then waking up months later immersed in a rage that lingered. These stages can be helpful only when we realize what we’re going through isn’t unique, it’s a shared experience. What is not helpful is comparing my process to anyone else’s.
Another thing I learned was the fact that we all grieve differently. As an introvert, I do a lot of my grieving in private. I’m not hiding my pain or purposely pushing anyone away, I’m also not trying to be perceived as strong or something I’m not. I’m simply processing my loss in a way that is natural to how God created me. An extrovert often grieves the opposite way. They usually need to process their grief by sharing it with others. Neither way is wrong or even better, just different. Beyond our personality type, I’ve found we grieve differently every time we’re faced with loss.
But what about God’s provision?
That came to light beginning November 23, 2020. That day our precious daughter-in-law was killed in a tragic accident, leaving behind our son and their 3-month-old baby. Our family immediately drew together, supporting each other as we began to walk out our intense grief.
In this journey, I found an unexpected foundation of strength from the year of writing this book.
These are the things that helped me most.
I turned to God. I had learned I could safely take all my feelings (even the ugly ones) to God and He would embrace me. He is faithful to walk through the darkest valley with us—even when we’re angry with Him.
I practiced grace. Giving grace to myself and to those around me and not judging the process of grieving. For so many years I had thought I was doing it wrong. This time, I just took the waves of emotion as they came—without condemnation.
I read the Bible every day—first thing in the morning. I wasn’t in any kind of a formal Bible study, I just picked up the book and read. There is something incredibly healing about the word of God. By immersing myself in His healing words, I found the strength I needed.
I accepted help from others. I consider myself a strong person, so accepting help isn’t natural. But by letting others take care of us, we were better able to cope.
Accept the joy when it begins to appear. One of the hardest parts of grief for me, was when the enjoyment of life began to break through. It felt like experiencing joy was somehow a betrayal of the loss I’d had.
I don’t think there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t experienced some kind of major loss in the eighteen months. But it’s important to lean into God and let the healing begin. When I was ready, God began to once again flood my life with the warmth of His love. He has introduced us to a new rhythm for life—not one we’d have ever chosen—but still filled with beauty and a little more joy every day.
Cathy here! Edie, thank you for being our guest today.
If you’d like to win a Kindle copy of Soul Care When You’re Grieving (release date is November 2nd!), leave a comment below.
Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. She knows the necessity of Soul Care and leads workshops around the country on staying connected to God. Her numerous books, including the award-winning Soul Care series and Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on social media & thru EdieMelson.com.
Searching for ways to make the most of this season?
Let’s set aside the TV, phones, and other devices ⏤ Fall is here! Crisp winds, punkin’ patches, football, and fur-lined boots. Yes, please.
Gather the family—whether that’s two or twenty—and choose a favorite activity to boost your time together, and especially with the Lord. After all, a family that serves, plays, and prays together, stays together.
🍁 Host a yard sale and give the proceeds to a church fund, missionary, or charity.
🍁 Donate to a local missions store. If you prefer to skip the yard sale, you can still spend time together as a family gathering clothes, housewares, and toys to donate. Make plans to stop by for a treat on the way home.
🍁 Treat an elderly or disabled friend to a yard cleanup day. Rake leaves, trim shrubs or pull weeds. Yard work offers service opportunities for all ages. Want to go a step further? Leave a bucket of mums or another fall floral arrangement to brighten their porch.
🍁 Bake pumpkin bread together. Wrap up the loaf and attach a small note with Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” written on it. Brighten the day of a lonely neighbor or friend by hand-delivering it with a smile.
As a family, brainstorm twelve activities that won’t require a great deal of prep or money. Write each one on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. Draw one slip (or more!) every week and decide the best day to carry it out. Some ideas might be:
🍁 Take a nature walk to engage your senses. What catches your eyes? How does a particular leaf feel? (Steer clear of poison ivy, of course!) How does the air smell in a forest? What do you hear? (Silence counts!) As you walk, gather color-coated leaves, rocks, acorns, and evergreen branches to decorate your mantle or tabletop when you return home.
🍁 Go on a picnic. Choose a lovely location. Maybe it’s beside a creek, on a mountain, in a park, or your own backyard. Let the children help plan the menu and prepare it for the picnic. Or plan to pick up a bucket of chicken. Don’t forget a blanket/tablecloth, utensils, napkins, and bug spray.
🍁 Game night! Whoever chooses this slip of paper gets to choose which game the family plays. Turn off the TV and turn on the laughter.
🍁 Popcorn & Puzzles. Create a designated table to work on a puzzle throughout the fall season. On the nights this slip of paper is drawn, plan to serve popcorn and lemonade or any family favorite food/drink.
Teaching our children that meaningful prayer can be both simple and enjoyable is a gift they will carry throughout their adulthood. Here are a few ways to get the creative juices flowing when praying as a family:
🍁 Walk & Pray. Before you set out, as a family, discuss various ways to pray for your neighbors, such as God’s blessings, God’s healing, for them to draw closer to God, for wisdom as a family, etc. Perhaps there are neighbors who need specific prayer. Share how God is the only One who truly knows what each person or family needs but that He honors our desire to pray for them. Then take a walk around your neighborhood. You can either pray quietly as you pass by neighbors’ homes or silently while keeping your eyes open. This helps children to learn that while closing our eyes during prayer helps us to concentrate it’s also okay and biblical to pray with our eyes open too.
🍁 Journal as a family. Purchase or create journals for every person in the family. Set aside a few minutes each night to journal together. Consider lighting gas logs or candles while you write. Younger children will enjoy coloring during their time. Setting aside fifteen minutes each night (or weeknights/weekends only) will help to develop a pattern that is sure to bless your children for many years to come.
🍁 Create a prayer board. Hang a designated “Prayer Request Chalkboard” in an accessible place in your home. When prayer requests arise, write them on the board and pray for them after dinner.
In a world that currently thrives on division, it’s refreshing to intentionally create togetherness.
What would you add to the above list and/or which one will you try first? We’d love to know!
It’s the only devotional I’ve read four (soon to be five) consecutive times.
Priscilla Shirer’s Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks welcomes my soul like an old familiar friend. It settles in smoothly but never grows weary of speaking truth and timely words of advice. Who wouldn’t want to welcome this kind of friend over and over again?
One benefit of reading a devotional multiple times, especially when jotting down notes along the way, is to see how God is moving and stretching us over a span of time.
For instance, on the second read-through, these questions were posed: What are you waiting on God for right now? What does faith and confidence look like, knowing He’s undoubtedly working for you in the distance? I answered, “I’m waiting to see God’s plans for my book.” The next time I read it, a few months later, I answered, “Thank you for Cynthia Ruchti — my dream agent — and thank You for confirming Your work in my life.” I paused to consider God’s goodness in bringing this dream to fruition.
You may remember my first post on this devotional, but I’m here to testify that the joy discovered under Shirer’s tutelage continues to build. Pour a cup of tea and savor these excerpts from Awaken:
“Storms will do that to you sometimes–wash you ashore in unfamiliar places, around unfamiliar people. But if not for the storm (Acts 28:7-9), Paul wouldn’t have been in this location to meet these people and help them. God’s sovereignty had not been shipwrecked by the storm. His plans were not derailed just because the sailors’ plans had been thrown off course. God’s hand had steered them to the exact place where revival was primed to break out. And the storm was the instrument He used to do it. Are you in a fierce storm right now? Are you watchful and mindful of the various places it’s unexpectedly taking you and all the various people it’s unexpectedly introducing you to? Next time you’re frustrated or perplexed by where your latest storm has dumped you, pray for the joy of discovering that God is using this storm to intersect your life with someone else’s life, becoming part of answering their prayer, even as He’s answering yours.”
A fierce wind called the “northeaster” rushed down from the island. Since the ship was caught and unable to head into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Acts 27:14-15
“From your current vantage point, you may not be able to see how God is working out His purposes in your life. You’ve gotten your feet wet. You’ve tried to believe. But life just seems to roll on like always before, oblivious to your prayers and to the faith you’ve placed in God’s ability to change things. But be convinced that even though God may be working a great distance away, He is working. He hasn’t forgotten you or His promises to you. He has not run into a snag that may prevent Him from following through.”
The vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3
“The tumor is still there. Your family is still in crisis. The church is still without a pastor. Your son or daughter still can’t find work. It’s one thing to believe that God is able to do anything He wants. He is God. You know that. But it is quite another thing to believe that He is willing and able to do it for you.”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate. Psalm 116:5
“An encounter with God is meant to change us. To stagger us. To blind us to old pursuits, interests, ambitions, and fleshly desires, while miraculously opening our internal vision to eternal pursuits. What a waste to simply get up and go back to our normal habits after being in His presence and sensing the exhilaration of His nearness–after powerful moments in His Word, in prayer, in places where He’s made His way so plain to us.”
The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
Does a particular sentence or excerpt stand out? We’d love to know! Comment below, and you’ll automatically be entered into a random giveaway for a copy of Awaken!
(And if you received a copy of “31 Ways to Pray for Your Children” or “Praying Throughout Your Home”, you’re in the right place. Welcome!)
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