Heading to the Beach? Don’t Forget to Pack This {Or Gift It!}

Pauses small framedAre you or someone you know heading to the beach this Memorial Day weekend? Or do you have a day, weekend, or week circled on your summer calendar for days by the shore?

There’s no better time to pack my NEW release “Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach”. It’s a one-week devotional that includes your arrival and departure days. The book provides an opportunity for you (or your family) to pause each day to draw closer to the Lord through a brief devotion, Scripture reading, prayer, and sensory activity.

And if you know someone heading to the beach, consider giving them the book as a gift. {Did I mention it’s only 99 cents?} To do so, simply go to the Amazon page and you’ll see a “Give as a Gift” button in the right sidebar. You need only enter the recipient’s email address and it will show up on their device as a gift from you!

In addition to packing my little book (more vacations coming soon!) here are several more items you may want to add (or check off) to your own beach packing list:


Don’t Leave These Behind On Your Next Beach Trip:


While it’s hard to compete with the lullaby rhythm of the waves crashing nearby, there are times I love to plug in my earbuds to my phone and zone out. My music list is all over the place. See for yourself:

  • Frank Sinatra – his songs remind me of my grandparents and the wonderful memories we made on the same very beach we now vacation.
  • Fleet Foxes – this indie band woos me with their masterful vocal harmonies.
  • Brandon Gilliam/River Crossings Worship Team – I’m especially proud that Brandon wrote some of the songs on this CD. Amazing!
  • David Crowder – just because.
  • Dusty Springfield {I warned you it was random}. One song: “What Are You Doing With The Rest Of Your Life”. I wasn’t even old enough to know this song when it was recorded but it hits a reset button of sorts when I listen to it one week a year.
Quality zip-top bags:

When you read through my book, you’ll see an opportunity to use these on the beach, but they’re also good to secure items like phones, books, food — anything you don’t want to get wet. They’re also good for holding seashells and other memorable items you find on the beach.

Baking soda, vinegar, and Benadryl:

Years ago, our oldest son, Brandon, was stung by a jellyfish. Those cries are not what any mother wants to hear. Oh, the pain! We ran across the street to a marina and happened across an old fisherman who advised us to use vinegar (rinse) and baking soda (paste). Online sources can give you the exact details. As the old adage says, “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it”.

Protective cover wear:

I remember the days of squirting baby oil all over my arms and legs in hopes of gaining the perfect tan. Oh my, those were the days. But today, I slather on the Helioplex suntan lotion and often wear a cover-up as both my husband and I have experienced skin cancer scares. This is the one I’m purchasing today. It’s a UPF surf shirt that guards against harmful rays. It will come in handy at the beach as well as our pool. Bye, bye tan.


It is cheap but not always easy to find. Nothing ruins a hard-earned vacation like stress. Cars will break down, the weather won’t cooperate, and the waiter will spill ketchup on your favorite gray and white pin-stripe shirt (was that too detailed?). Unfortunately, mishaps don’t take a vacation but packing this virtue in your heart before you leave home helps everyone to have a memorable vacation⎯for all the right reasons.


I know, we don’t take God with us on vacation, we go with Him. I actually write about this on Lori Roeleveld’s award-winning blog this week. Come, join us there.


I’m praying now that you and your family will enjoy a time of rest and relaxation away this summer. Soak up the rest God provides and bask in His goodness.

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul

Click to Order (or Gift to A Beach-Bound Buddy!)


How I Boosted Meaningful Productivity Through These Rituals


Daily rituals fascinate me.

Is there a secret to this creative energy bubbling up in writers, poets, artists, and musicians? Would my waking up earlier, staying up later, or drinking lattes with the perfect amount of froth propel my creative energy into overdrive? I can’t say for sure but I have discovered how a few (nine to be exact) wisely-placed rituals lead my day well. This is especially true on the days dedicated to writing, which have radically increased while finishing up my first e-book scheduled for release in April. {I’m excited to share more about that subject in a few weeks!}

Alarm clocks

9 Rituals That Boosts Creativity & Productivity


  • Wake up early. Now that Brian has an hour commute we’re waking up by 5:45 am. Even on weekends, I prefer to wake up early. Part of this, I’m convinced, is genetic. But I’m thankful I’ve always been an early riser. For me, embracing the feel of a full day is exhilarating. Add a cup of hot coffee to the mix, and the day is officially underway.
  • Cue the praise music. After breakfast, the TV goes off and the music comes on. I listen to three different channels on Pandora:  Brandon Gilliam {our son}, Aaron Keyes, and Bethel Music. I crank up the music for 15-20 minutes, sing, raise my arms toward heaven, and worship. Zephaniah 3:17 says the Lord sings over us. I love singing to Him in return.
  • A Conversation. The music stays on, but now it lays low. I read through the Bible chapter-by-chapter, keeping my small hardbound steno close by. Speaking, listening, praying⎯all lay the foundation for a glorifying kind of day. At least, that’s my prayer.
  • Get dressed/ready. Now that we live twenty minutes from civilization I don’t “go to town” nearly as much as I once did. It can be semi-tempting to leave on the pajamas and leave off the makeup. But I’ve recently come to see that, at least for me, getting ready helps me to view my writing as work/ministry⎯not a hobby. So I get dressed, comb my hair, and swipe on a little color — sometimes more, sometimes less. {Both grandmothers loved their lipstick. I suppose this is genetic, too.}
  • Switch the Pandora channel to George Winston. This simple swapping of stations triggers my mind that it’s time to shift to writing mode. I don’t play this station any time except when I write.
  • Sit at the desk, not the couch. Another trigger to prompt my brain that it’s time to work, not play.
  • Mute the phone and shut down Facebook. I still check both but only at set times.
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to join me in the process. He doesn’t require an invitation but it reminds me that He is with me, for me. That we are in this together.
  • Pour a cup of Paris tea. I reserve this treat for the afternoon, and it’s my way of winding down.

Paris Tea from HarneyI pretty much stumbled upon most of these rituals or at least their order, but when the creative process began clicking, there was no turning back. Tweaking my schedule has increased my productivity two-fold.

Your goals and the steps you choose to attain those goals will probably look different than mine {especially if you’re not an early riser *wink*} and that’s perfectly fine. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than one of my favorite finds, Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. It’s a peek into the minds of brilliant artists of all types. Their idiosyncracies make mine look mildly boring, and it’s a lovely feeling, I must say.

How about you? Do you have some type of ritual that helps you to be more creative and productive? Please share!


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Downloading A Gift of Worship

Music moves the heart to worship like none other — especially during the Christmas season. Some of my favorites:

Michael Card
Andrew Peterson
Frank, Bing, and Johnny

This year, I’m delighted (and very proud) to add another favorite to the list. Our son, Brandon, is a worship leader in OH and just released his first Christmas EP. It includes 3 songs:

Go Tell It On The Mountain
O Come O Come Emmanuel
Christmas Medley

The EP can be downloaded for $3.00 via online or you can purchase a 10 card bundle to slip into your Christmas cards. It’s a meaningful way to share the gift of worship. 

If you’re local, our youngest son, Zach, Brian, and friends from his church will be leading in a time of worship on Sunday at 6:00 p.m., Providence Baptist Church. All are welcome! 

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

[Psalm 95:1]
– See more at: http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/bible-verses-about-music.html#sthash.Zg4FfTGZ.dpuf

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

[Psalm 95:1]
– See more at: http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/bible-verses-about-music.html#sthash.Zg4FfTGZ.dpuf

When Scripture Meets Sand

Last week’s family beach trip created many “favorite” moments and life-long memories. Piper’s first swim with grammy and pappa, late night set-back card games, boisterous boardgames, a-mazing seafood and seeing this sweet face first thing in the morning. 

My favorite time with God occurred one early morning when I ventured out alone to the shore, plunked down into my low-to-the-ground beach chair, and soaked in the sights and sounds of my surroundings.

Jeremiah 31:35 ESV took center stage as I fixed my sight on the ocean, trying to drink in its vastness, while praying for friends and family facing sea-sized trials, “what-ifs?” and heartache. May they know—and rest in—the knowledge that the same God who fashioned the waves to roar is the very same One moving on behalf of His children.

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light
by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name.
Jeremiah 31:35 ESV

Psalm 139: 17,18 sifted through my spirit as I scooped up a handful of sand, full of wonder and gratitude to the One who chose gritty grains to describe how often He thinks of us. How are we to wrap our minds around such love and attention?

precious concerning me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of
them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”
Psalm 139: 17,18 

As our time drew to a close, I clicked my iPod to Satisfied, a song my son co-wrote and sang on his first CD, Dialogue. With hands raised to the heavens and salty tears flowing, I couldn’t help but sing my favorite lyrics: “Lord, take my heart, my wants, and my desires. Lord, take all of me. Jesus alone satisfies.”  It’s a moment I wanted to freeze in time.

When scripture and sand meet, blessings flow but thankfully sand isn’t a requirement to experience God in the daily doings of life. 

What have you seen just today that reveals God’s power, love, or grace?

Praise. I can’t imagine a better way to begin the week.

The Sweet Melody of Prayer

Music stirs my soul into a divine frenzy.
Rarely do I drive without it—especially on the Sunday mornings. But this wasn’t the case yesterday.
Music was playing when I cranked ‘ol faithful (’99 CRV) but I quickly punched the knob to turn it off when I felt impressed to pray for Brian (who played at our Cherrydale campus), for Brandon (leading worship in Ohio), and for specific members of our family. 
Within a couple blocks, I began praying for a friend’s daughter, uncertain of her needs, but certain of the One who did. 
A mile down the road, a man in our life group who just had heart surgery came to mind as I passed his daughter’s sub-division.
A few minutes later, I passed our former church — praying God’s blessings, discernment, and glory to fall upon that place. 
Drawing closer to Summit Church, I prayed for the ladies study on Tuesday night, asking God to keep us focused on Him…and not our space, or lack thereof. More ladies have decided to join us in the past week. Praising God, and trusting Him too. 
As I pulled into a parking space, the silence caught me off guard. I’d not turned the radio on! No music had played—or had it?

“What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my
mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my
mind also.” 1 Corinthians 14:15 ESV
 Oh, the sweet melody of prayer!

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