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Ready to Head to the Mountains? I Have Just the Book For you!

Pauses Mountain CoverAre you ready to head to the mountains?

With summer fading and hopes of autumn just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share about my new book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains, set to release Tuesday, September 19.

When the idea for writing vacation devotional guides emerged, I admit the beach is where it all started, but the mountains quickly followed.

There has always been some type of draw to the mountains way down deep in this old soul of mine. Maybe it’s because my mom’s parents loved the mountains and took us there for roadside picnics by the river. Or maybe it’s because we had a five-acre parcel of land that sat at the foot of a mountain that we visited most weekends while growing up that makes me love them like I do.

All I know is that the draw to be closer to the mountains was so strong that the creature of habit within me took a giant step back and allowed a sometimes-friend, adventure, to step forward and move us away from all we’d known for the past twenty plus years⎯friends, church, our century-old home, comforting backroads, and the Ice Cream Station. Don’t judge.

 

There is just something about being near to the mountains that make us feel closer to God.

 

The sheer height reminds us of the mightiness of our God while the pristine nature surrounding us woos our heart to Him like a first love. Breathing in the sweet crisp air invigorates our senses, giving us clarity of mind, a sometimes difficult commodity in our busy culture.

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul // Mountains is designed for a one week vacation but it can also be used for weekends or even a single day trip, with all seasons represented. Each day invites you to draw closer to God through a brief personal story, a scripture verse, devotion, and a sensory exercise. And did I mention Edie Melson is writing the foreword? Pauses is a prayed-over, Spirit-led, and a beloved little book I trust God will use for His glory in beautiful and unexpected ways.

Blue Ridge Mountains

I would LOVE for you to be a part of the God-Lovin’ Mountain-Goin’ Launch Team! (It doesn’t require as much time as you might think.)

 

  • Read: Because the book consists of seven days you could choose to read a devotion every day if you like. The sensory exercises could be set aside for your own vacation in the future, which helps to cut your time significantly. You would have three weeks to read it.
  • Review: I’m learning just how priceless reviews are for any book on Amazon. Your agreeing to leave a review on the launch day is THE most vital part of your commitment. I will keep you updated along the way.
  • Share: On launch day and for a few weeks afterward, I ask that you share the book on your social media platforms. If you only do Facebook, that’s fine! No pressure here — share where you feel comfortable. If you have a blog, I would welcome the opportunity to guest post (just another way to share). I’ll have pre-made tweets and Facebook postings on my site. You need only click to share! I’m all about saving you time.
In return, I will joyfully do the following:
  • Send you a FREE PDF copy of the book.
  • Mention your name in the book.
  • Mention your name on my site’s book page, along with a hyper-link to your site (I reserve the right to decline this offer, if necessary)

If you would like to be a part of a project that inspires and refreshes while drawing readers closer to God as a result, here’s an opportunity! Thanks to those of you who have already contacted me saying you would love to join the team. Your support and encouragement mean the world to me!

Want to be on the God-lovin’ Mountain-Goin’ Launch Team? Please email me via the button in the sidebar or leave a comment. I’ll be in touch — thank you!

Above all, I welcome prayer from you, my friend. Self-pubbing is not for wimps and although I’ve never considered myself to be the bravest, I feel I’ve wratched up the ol’ survival skills scale this year but I still have a ways to go.

You’re the best and I thank God for you⎯often.

“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.” -John Muir

When Poetry and Promises Mingle

Poetry and Promises

Nothing mingles quite like poetry and promises. We see how beautifully they marry in the Bible, especially throughout the book of Psalms, which consists of 150 lyric poems. But Psalms also has a treasure hold on God’s promises.

During the month of April we’ll weave our way through this lyrical, non-rhyming, and foundational book, allowing its poetry and promises to encourage us…so that we might encourage others.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:2

Psalm 23 holds a special place in my life. In the weeks prior to my uncle’s death (he was in his early 50’s) I would drive over and spend my mornings with him a few times each week. In addition to the cancer invading his body he was also blind. It was for this reason he always enjoyed it when I read to him. He loved passages on heaven but often requested his favorite psalm, Psalm 23. By the time I reached the sixth verse, I could hear his breathing shifting to a slower pace. The peace surrounding him was almost palpable.

 

God’s promises are powerful to the living, but they are a life preserver to the dying.

 

Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is a tremendous resource in learning more about the relationship between sheep (us) and the shepherd (Jesus). One of my favorite insights from his book is when he points out that sheep are the most useless, and dare I say, stupid animals. {Ouch!} He also shared how it’s almost impossible to get sheep to lie down and rest. Most refuse unless four requirements are met:

  1. They must sense a freedom from fear.
  2. They must sense freedom from tension with other sheep.
  3. They must sense freedom from aggravation from flies and.or parasites.
  4. They must sense freedom from hunger.

I don’t know about you but I see a lot of myself in the above four requirements. Countless hours of rest have been deprived over fears I’ve struggled with for years, or tension between myself and another person, or just the nit picky things that aggravate the fool out of me. Hunger? Never! {I wish.}

Psalm 23Whatever keeps you up at night or steals your God-given right to rest in the middle of the day is yet another reminder that we need a Shepherd, a good Shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

I recently struggled with some emotions that I knew were not God-glorifying. I pushed them down below the next item on my to-do list and continued on, knowing I’d have to deal with them at some point. The emotions, and the thoughts that go with them, continued to distract me for days. I finally made my way up the stairs with my Bible in hand and had a “come to Jesus” meeting right there in the window overlooking the city. I feel sure that some passersby thought I was talking to a ghost. Silly people. I was talking with my Father.

Immediately following, my soul experienced a rest it had not enjoyed for days. My Shepherd forgave me, revealed truth to me, and comforted me. The city pace below us was hectic but my soul was at rest beside the still waters of grace in His presence.

The gift of poetry and His promises assured my uncle that his true rest was right around the corner, his joy, just a breath away. And isn’t this true for us all?

What is your favorite verse in Psalm 23, and why? Please share in the comment section below. Blessings to you!

The beautiful artwork used for my Poetry and Promises graphic is courtesy of Ann Marie Bone. Please visit her Facebook fan page to connect with her and to see more of her amazing work. Thank you so much, Ann.

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via The Book

 { Day 23 }

My name is Cathy Baker and I am a Book O’ Holic. 

Slender binding
Threadbare spines
Fresh printed ink
Crisp white pages, and
Well worn ones too. 

They’re all there – residing on my bookshelves, side by side, rubbing spine on spine.

Some have yet to be read
Some are on a perpetual rotation
Some left an indelible impression 
Some simply left a mental ✔ by their title 

Yes…

I may learn how to be a better wife, mom, and friend through a study or book written by a devoted author but only the Book, God’s active living Word, penetrates to the deepest, darkest layers within and brings current thoughts and actions to a screeching halt.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged
sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and
marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

 
I may learn how to be a more efficient make-up applier, decorator, and cook by perusing my stack of magazines but only the Book teaches me what’s really important. 
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:19-21

I may become a better writer or poet by studying the reference books that line my shelves, but only in the Book will I find the overarching purpose for putting pen to paper. This is vital for it is my motivation to write.

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Psalm 45:1
 

Well, I do!

 

I consider all my books to be a gift from God. Each one teaches me something. They have value, or else I wouldn’t purchase them. But, because of the fleshly tendency to reach for a book “fix”, I have to remain alert to
the truth that no book trumps God’s Word. No, not one. Not even the most soul persuasive Christian book. Nope.

Okay, so am I alone? If not, sign-ups begin Monday for all my fellow Book O’ Holics (just kidding, but it’s nice knowing I’m not alone!)

Staying in Step with the Holy Spirit: A plethora of books—magnificent books!—line our stores but only the Book is inerrant, alive and active on our behalf. When the Bible has the right priority in our lives, we can’t help but stay in step with Him. 

Heavenly Father, Your words are our very life, the well from which we draw wisdom, encouragement, exhortation, and conviction. Everything we need in life You provided in one breath. Help us to lean on You, Your Word, above else. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16,17

#Write31Days past posts:

{ Day 1 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Our Senses
{ Day 2 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Less Clutter 
{ Day 3 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Healthy Relationships 
{ Day 4 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation
{ Sunday }
{ Day 6 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayer 
{ Day 7 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
{ Day 8 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Soul Search (with guest Ginger Harrington)
{ Day 9 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Vulnerability 
{ Day 10 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 2
{ Day 11 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Moonlit Sunroof
{ Sunday }
{ Day 13 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Wild Goose Chase

{ Day 15 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Paper Bookmark
{ Day 16 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Fresh Start
{ Day 17 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Spontaneous Service
{ Day 18 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 3
{ Sunday } 
{ Day 20 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Mini-Getaway
{ Day 21 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Piped Icing
{ Day 22 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Knock at the Door

 

Why Writing from the Senses Makes Sense

You need not consider yourself a poet to appreciate sensory details in writing, whether it’s poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc. They engage our minds, memories, and imagination.  

Drink in the details of this sensory-soaked example I found on the internet. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. It’s all here:

Grandmother Workman lurched over and grabbed the pale skin of Randal’s thin forearm with her leathery hand. The folds and creases beneath her skin coiled themselves out like electrical writing, like the bloated, roughly-textured relief map of the world that his mother just posted above his bedside table. Randal looked ahead toward the winding spiral staircase, fidgeted with a small hole in his baseball jersey, and bit his lip. His mouth filled with the sweet, coppery taste of blood as she leaned in closely toward him, breathing her hot breath on the damp hair at the base of his neck. She smelled of wet cigarettes and bacon. As they slowly climbed the long, steep staircase, the only sound was his grandmothers’ labored breathing and the mournful creak of the wooden stairs.

courtesy of David Wilson, pdf   

Laura Deutsch breaks down each of these senses in Writing from the Senses, 59 Exercises to Ignite Creativity and Revitalize Your Writing. She touches on all types of writing—from memoir and journaling to fiction, journalism, poetry, travel, food writing, etc. Writing from the Senses is a new five-star release on Amazon. If it ends as strong as it began, Laura will also receive a five-star from me.

So, what’s your favorite sentence from the above paragraph?

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have
seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our
hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we
have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we
have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have
fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and
with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our
joy may be complete.  1 John 1:1-4
(God, the masterful Creator and Author of all sensory details.)

First Gift to Open: Bible

As we bring this series to a close, I’d like to share one last tradition we began with the boys soon after we became Christ followers. 

On Christmas morning, children are bouncing off walls and even a few adults (whom shall remain nameless) have been known to get giddy about the possibilities lurking in a stocking nearby but the moments just prior to the sound of ripping paper holds the power to redirect our attention to the true Gift, Jesus Christ. 

Early on, Brian began reading Luke 2 before the first gift was opened. Occasionally he would change things up by reading prophetic verses from the Old Testament. It’s a tradition we continue, except that now our children have their own little ones…and the truth carries on.

May you and your family have a worship-filled Christmas, on that day and every day. 

I’ll be taking a blogging break this week but look forward to sharing a new post with you in January!

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.  For you are great and do marvelous
deeds; you alone are God. 
Psalm 86:9,10

 

 

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