Creative Ways to Serve, Play and Pray this Fall (Downloadable PDF)

Creative Ways to Serve, Play and Pray this Fall

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.

 

Serve 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.

 

Play Together

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.

 

Pray Together

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! 

Keep this list handy! Download your PDF copy here.

(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!)

[This post was shared first on the In The Quiver site.]

 

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul Mountain Devotional Guide

God is Still Speaking Through This Devotional (And How to Win a Copy!)

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

 

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:

 

Day 70

“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

Day 78

“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

Day 88

“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

Day 90

“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!)

 

Break Free from Spiritual Claustrophobia!

I’m no stranger to claustrophobia.

Let’s see. There’s the time I almost took out an entire Boy Scout troop trying to get out of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and the time I climbed six stories instead of taking the elevator…two weeks after a c-section.

Enclosed spaces squeeze my lungs and numb every limb on my body (except those required to climb over scouts).

 

King David also knew something about cramped places.

 

While on the run from Saul and his enemies, he spent many a day crouched in the cleft of a rock or sleeping in deep dark caves. But in Psalm 18, David tells how God drew him out of “deep waters”, rescuing him from his enemies.

Most of us won’t find ourselves hiding in a dark cave — but what about these spiritually cramped spaces?

  • an unteachable spirit
  • unforgiveness
  • discontentment
  • bitterness

No one wants to be hemmed in with these enemies of our faith. Though not framed in flesh and blood, each has the potential to limit the freedom that is ours in Jesus:

 

An unteachable spirit

 

Proverbs 12:15 (The Message) sums it up like this: Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice.

The opposite of headstrong is obedience, God’s love language. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3) Just as God delighted in David because of his trust in Him (Ps. 18:19), He also delights in us when we intentionally cultivate a teachable, obedient heart. Oh, the places God wants to take us with a teachable spirit!

 

Unforgiveness

 

Allowing thoughts of vengeance, anger, and bitterness to take root in our hearts is to slap down bricks on our own walls, hindering God’s work in and through our lives. It’s no secret that unforgiveness confines us, not those in need of our forgiveness.

 

 

Recently, in our Creative Pauses Facebook Group, women shared some of the most moving testimonies on the power of forgiveness I’ve ever read. They could’ve easily chosen to stay imprisoned by unforgiveness and the world would’ve understood. Instead, they chose forgiveness because of the forgiveness they’ve received from Jesus. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

 

Discontentment

 

Few things drain God’s power from our lives than grumbling.

 

When we choose contentment, we open ourselves to God’s best, freeing us to be the women God created us to be. Now that’s a spacious place!

 

Bitterness

 

“Anger and bitterness are formidable detriments to biblical love, harmonious relationships, and maturity in Christ. Failing to put off anger and bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit, gives Satan an opportunity in your life, obscures your witness to others, and disrupts the unity in the Body of Christ. Dealing biblically with anger and bitterness requires wholehearted obedience to God’s Word in every circumstance and with every person, even if your feelings dictate otherwise.” John Broger

One freeing truth about God’s commands is this: He doesn’t command us to do anything that He has not equipped us to carry out. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 ESV

 

 

Trusting God unlocks the cage of spiritual claustrophobia.

 

Trust is the key and obedience turns the lock to provide a spacious place ⏤ unspeakable peace, joy, limitless opportunities, and abundant living!

Creative Pausers, God doesn’t want to confine us⏤He wants to free us! {Thank You, Jesus!}

What (or who) is God asking you to trust Him with today?

 

Living an Unhurried Life in a Hurried World

 

Can we start a “How to Live an Unhurried Life” support group?

I’d be the first to sign up. You see, I’m not writing this post from an “I got this!” point of view. I simply want to learn how to squash the word “hurry” from my life and replace it with “holy”.

After all, our greatest example in living an unhurried but holy life is Jesus. Just ask Martha and Mary.

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary, and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” (John 11:1-7)

 

“So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”

 

By the time Jesus arrived, John tells us that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. We all know how this story ends. But where does our story begin as we think about Jesus’ view of priorities, time, and schedule?

 

Yes, Jesus is God but the Holy Spirit resides within us, equipping us to choose an unhurried life.

 

Around our house, summertime is by far the most hurried. For Brian, there’s mowing almost four acres, keeping the pool from becoming an acid pit, and trimming shrubs that block swimmer’s views of the mountains. My summer pool hurry is more about shuffling around like crazy at the last minute trying to shove books, papers, a rogue power cord that stretches across the room, and anything else that our two and three-year-old grandchildren might find interesting, into a nearby bedroom. I know it’s not pretty, but it’s real.

Feeling the constant tug of hurry this summer, I put some practical grace-paced “to-do’s” into place that will last long after the final swim:

  • On Sunday nights, I take a few minutes to jot down meal ideas for the week, along with the needed ingredients. This helps to eliminate questions about dinner plans and the hurried feeling that ensues.
  • Also on Sunday nights, I look at my calendar and choose 2-3 top priorities for the week. I try to keep them in order: God, family, church, and ministry. No doubt, I sometimes fall flat, but I try to be intentional about it. Intentionality offers focus, which for me, offers peace in knowing I don’t have to accomplish it all (as if I could!).
  • No writing or creating on Sundays, giving the soul, body, and mind a rest.
  • Before bed, I make sure the square frying pan is readied for eggs and the tiny measuring cup is washed and prepped for coffee creamer. To most, it’s called a routine. To me it’s a gift, knowing the next morning starts with a clean slate, no pun intended.
  • I pray to remain open to His plans and “interruptions” for the day. I’m prone to zero in on a project and not raise my head for hours at a time. Trusting He will provide when plans change helps to eliminate the feeling of hurry or anxiousness.

 

Simple, right? Some of our most life-giving moments begin with small, doable steps.

 

Consider small steps you might put into place this week to help lessen the hurry as you move through your days with purpose and joy.

To help give you a boost, check out some of my favorite quotes from Alan Fadling’s, “An Unhurried Life…Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest”:

 

  • “Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.”
  • “I feel hurried inside even when nothing actually urgent is on my schedule. Hurry has become a habit: I find myself stuck in emergency mode.”
  • “I realize that an unhurried life is not a lazy life. In fact, it can be the exact opposite. Jesus was unhurried, but he was not lazy He was engaged, hardworking, purposeful, and conscientious.”
  • “I’m aware that God’s great commandment to us isn’t ‘Get more things done,’ but to love him with the whole of our energies, capacities, and passions to extend that love to others. And love isn’t rushed.”
  • “God is never in a hurry.”
  • “Being unhurried does not mean being unresponsive to divine nudges. Being unhurried enables us to notice those nudges and to respond.”
  • “I don’t think I’ll find my deepest joy in the number of people who liked something I said or did. I’m coming to believe that my greatest joy will be being part of an extended community of men and women with whom I’ve shared a journey with Jesus, living out his life in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and schools, and the church communities where God has planted us.”
  • “Despite Jesus’ example, I find it a continual temptation to do things that will get a lot of people excited about what I’m doing⎯and get them excited now!”
  • “Do our conversations about ministry revolve around growing numbers of participants, successful programs, or other easily measured outcomes? Or do we tell stories about particular people who are responding to Jesus, stories of seeds of gospel truth sown in people’s hearts that will grow into the fruit of Christlikeness?”
  • Told to John Ortberg during a transition in his ministry life: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

 

Now that’s a lot of unhurried goodness. How are you eliminating hurry from your life? Do tell!

Quots on an Unhurried Life

Want to keep the quotes handy? Here you go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Things to Pray for This Summer

25 Ways to Pray This Summer

Summer delivers sunshine and sweet tea but it can also present specific prayer needs.

Children are out of school, parents are working from their homes with children who are happy to be out of school (which is a whole different kind of happy!), and the hustle and bustle of summer life is cranking up.

 

So what better time to set prayers into motion?

 

Here are twenty-five prayer opportunities for our summer in no particular order. (Click here to download a PDF copy of the list below.)

 

  • To create meaningful memories with family.
  • For strangers we spot in the park.
  • Physical protection over our families.
  • Spiritual refreshment for our pastors and their families.
  • Wisdom for ways to bless a neighbor, UPS driver, postal carrier.
  • Men, women, and children on the mission field.
  • Spiritual revival in our hearts.
  • Spiritual revival in our families.
  • Spiritual revival in our country.
  • Opportunities to offer hospitality… to strangers.
  • Wisdom to simplify life.
  • How to be intentional in finding ways to serve others.
  • A desire to eat healthier.
  • A desire to move the body.
  • As you take a summer stroll around the neighborhood, pray for different neighbors each time.
  • For those who work in the heat.
  • For school teachers to have a refreshing summer.
  • For creativity to flourish.
  • To be more intentional in making the most of opportunities.
  • For those who live in areas directly affected by hurricanes.
  • For discernment in knowing how to build margin into our days.
  • To see interruptions as God’s opportunities.
  • To savor the season. If we learned anything from 2020 it’s that we can’t take tiny joys for granted.
  • To embrace rest — spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
  • Safe travels.

(Click here to download a PDF copy of the list above.)

So, what are your plans for the summer? Do you have a prayer idea to share? We’d love to know!

 

Additional resource:

How to Pray for Your Kids this Summer by Sam Crabtree

 

3 Prayerful Ways To Prepare for Unexpected Blessings

Three Powerful Ways to Prepare for Unexpected Blessings

Unexpected blessings catapult our faith into high gear and steady our walk of faith.

I didn’t realize how much so until last week when I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. As I’ve done over the past nine years, I showed up eager to fellowship with friends, meet new ones, and hone my craft.

 

But this year was different. And it had nothing to do with Covid.

 

At registration, I planned to attend everything the conference had to offer. But soon after arriving, I sensed God might be calling me to something unexpected. My southern-fried raising tried its best to guilt me into doing what I always did because, well, it was the expected, “right” thing to do.

 

I’m learning, however, the only thing right thing to do is to follow God’s plans.

 

So, instead of attending the a-mazing large group meetings and classes, I took a seat in the Clouds coffee shop and simply made myself available, with a lavender latte in hand.

During my time in the coffee shop, God:

  • brought dozens of attendees by, making it possible for me to share wholehearted smiles and hellos. (We had a lot of new attendees!)
  • allowed me to pray with others right there on the spot.
  • let me be a listening ear to several who were carrying heavy burdens. More than once, someone said, “I’m so thankful you were here.” And in return, I echoed the same sentiment to God.
  • enjoyed the laughter that surrounded the shellacked table.
  • blessed me with friendships with the volunteers working behind the counter.

 

Looking back, I see how a few specific prayers prepared me to follow God’s leading, resulting in unexpected blessings:

 

Three Prayerful Ways to Prepare for Unexpected Blessings:

 

  1. Pray for God’s agenda, period. In the weeks prior to the conference, I prayed for various things like staying healthy, the removal of any pride or selfishness from this ol’ heart, and being available for however He might want to use me as a conduit of His love and kindness.
  2. Pray for bravery. Because we can all agree that following God’s agenda and not ours (or anyone else’s) isn’t for wimps.
  3. Expect the Unexpected. I admit that when I first sensed the Holy Spirit pointing me to the cafe, I bristled a bit, knowing it might disappoint some people I love and respect. (My name is Cathy Baker and I am a recovering people pleaser.)

 

On the final day of the conference, a friend put this “Office of Cathy Baker” sign on the cafe table. Here’s one of fourteen pictures taken in my “office” *smile*. It’s a favorite because it includes Pepper Basham, along with her latest release, Hope Within the Pages (Doors to the Past).

 

(I’m sharing my various visitors to the “office” on Facebook over the next week or two. I’d love for you to stop by and say hello!)

 

Do you sense God might be calling you to serve Him in an unexpected, possibly out-of-the-norm kind of way? We’d love to know!

Opportunites to Connect in a Disconnected World

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We’re a bunch of women who love Jesus and desire to encourage and be encouraged through biblical fellowship.

Each day, holy pauses are shared in the form of prayer, God’s Word, gatherings, or free downloads that help us to connect (or re-connect) with God and others.

We believe in the power of intentional holy pauses in our day and we’d love for you to join us!

 

 

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