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Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // A God-Glorifying Gathering and Giveaway!

Pool gathering

Summer is the perfect time for any gathering and especially so when it comes to sharing our faith!

As you know by now, I’m a huge fan of Lori Roeleveld’s book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. And apparently, I’m not alone. This gem of a book recently won the Director’s Award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Chrisitan Writer’s Conference. {Congrats, Lori!}

I’m slowly reading through Jesus and the Beanstalk because I want to savor every word, and well, I don’t want it to end. Just last week I came across this:

“Too many of us have adopted the culture of consumerism rather than the culture of discipleship. Growing up in Jesus is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. We are climbing the true vine, and only he knows precisely where any one of us is in that process. Finding the next hold on the vine is not an exact science because it’s about a relationship with Jesus, not a nine-step self-improvement program. Building character doesn’t happen because we read we should do it. God builds character in us in many ways and through a variety of circumstances.”

Then Lori shared the following suggestion:

“Ask God to direct you to activities that will give you faith in increasing measure. One way we bolster one another’s faith is through testimonies or stories of God’s intervention. Invite some friends for dinner and swap stories of times you’ve seen God at work.”

 

And there it was, right in front of me: Why not host a Swim & Swap party this summer?

 

For a full-fledged introvert, that’s an undertaking — a faith-stretching activity — but the wheels are turning. I see friends gathered around our pool on a warm Saturday afternoon. Very casual, nothing fancy. As the sun sets, we begin to swap stories as to how we’ve seen⎯and are seeing⎯God at work. I admit the planner in me wants to cover every base but I’m learning that some things just can’t be planned, like the moving of the Holy Spirit.

{Having said that, there will be grilled burgers, dessert, lemonade, and S’mores involved.}

Swapping God-glorifying stories is good for the soul--yours and mine. #soulfood Click To Tweet

 

I will praise you to all my brothers; I will stand up before the congregation and testify of the wonderful things you have done. Psalm 22:22

 

Our sense of hearing⎯and the power it holds⎯-is recorded throughout the Word:

 

  • Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
  • Acts 22:15, “For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.”
  • Genesis 3:8, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

I recently returned from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. Every night, a gathering in the downstairs lobby huddled around coffee tables and sometimes delicious treats, thanks to Diana Asaad {thank you!}. As I heard those around me share stories of how God was moving through the worship times and interactions with faculty/other attendees, my own faith-walk was strengthened and encouraged. After all, that’s what happens when we’re brave enough to swap our gospel story with another!

 

God-glorifying gatherings can happen in coffee shops, grocery lines, around a dinner table, or a campfire. They can happen anywhere two or more are gathered in His name and for His glory.

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Jesus and the Beanstalk Giveaway

Want to win your own copy of this faith-building giant-trampling book? Simply leave one way you’ve seen God recently move in your life, or in the life of a loved one, in the comment section. None are considered too small. One name will be randomly drawn next Thursday, June 15th.

Jesus and the Beanstalk

 

3 Books I’m Reading this Winter {And Why You’ll Want to Read Them Too}

Winter read
I love reading year-round but especially so in winter.

Everything about the season woos even the nonchalant reader into its web. Frigid breezes, barren branches, and darker days all invite us to come in, bundle up, light the logs, and pour a cup of tea. What better way to answer the invite than with a book in hand?

 

3 Favorite Books This Winter
The three books I’m reading this winter are above average, one in particular. Let’s begin there.

 

Jesus in the Beanstalk…Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life, by Lori Roeleveld.

 

Jesus in the BeanstalkDon’t let the clever fairy-tale inspired title fool you. This book isn’t for fluff-seekers. It’s for those who, like me, have grown weary of living in a land of giants. Yes, our culture offers a plethora of its own giants but I’m convinced giant slaying begins at home. Every giant-slayer first requires the Word, as Lori points out, but this book is the second thing I read during my time with the Lord. Sometimes it’s a full chapter, other times just a paragraph. It’s not a book to gulp down but to savor. Her questions at the end of each chapter often marinate in my mind throughout the day. Add Lori’s sense of humor to the mix, and you hold a book that will motivate you to pick up a nearby rock and slip out your sling. I can’t say enough about this book and its impact on my life.

One fave quote: “It’s important for Christians not just to believe in God but also to believe God, trust what he says enough to obey him. The enemy has been clever to convince us that what God offers is dry and boring–and it is if we allow the truth to remain on the surface. But if we bury it deep in the soil of our souls and expose it to the light and the living water of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves clinging to the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15). We discover that we, too, are giant-killers.”

 

The Story of With…A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create, by Allen Arnold

 

The Story of WithThe Story of With may have never crossed my radar except for Lynn Blackburn’s excellent review on Edie Melson’s, The Write Conversation. {Thank you, Lynn}

The first and last part of the book is non-fiction. He unfolds a story illustrating his points in between, which I admit to skipping. I’m sorry. I’m a shoot-it-to-me kind of girl. When I want a novel I’ll read Lynn’s or Edie’s. A quick flip to the back proved to be gold. So many relevant nuggets. For me, the main takeaway is that we often rush off to do God’s work instead of inviting the Holy Spirit into the creative process.

One fave quote: “You can experience a sense of expectancy in the midst of interruptions, knowing the unplanned can lead to something better than anything you could have planned. Imagine stepping into your relationships and creativity with a power that isn’t limited to your solutions or strength?”

 

 

Fierce On The Page…Become the Writer You Were Meant To Be and Succeed On Your Own Terms,
by Sage Cohen

 

Fierce on the PageMy first introduction to author and poet Sage Cohen was her book, “Writing the Life Poetic”. It remains a staple on my shelf. So imagine my delight when I learned of her latest release, Fierce on the Page. The book was still warm when it arrived in my mailbox. Yep, it was hot off the press. With 75 brief but brilliant chapters on using ferocity to transform your craft, there is something for every writer.

One fave quote: “Writing can teach us who we are and what we are called to say. You become the person who could write the poems, as Stanley Kunitz advises, through the writing of the poems–and the stories and articles and essays. Doing what is true for you is the path to becoming your own best expert.”

 

 

I’d love to hear your process when reading more than one book at a time. For me, I use Lori’s book most days during my time with the Lord and on other days, I pepper my time with Allen’s. I carry Sage’s book in my purse, snatching extra moments as they come my way.

What are you reading this winter? And I have to ask: Coffee or tea?

**The Story of With is only $2.99 on Kindle right now!

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10 Ways to Help Fall Linger A Little Longer

Helping Fall to Linger LongerWho wouldn’t want fall to linger a little longer? It ushers in a season of crisp breezes, ripe apples, crackling fires, and a host of other sensory delights. I’m convinced heaven will be an eternal season of fall. {Of course, we know where that lands Summer. Sorry, Brian and other summer lovers}.

Today I’m sharing ten ways that will help us to embrace this vibrant season for all its worth. Some of these ideas include affiliate links (marked by *), but all opinions are my own.

  1. Read a Proverb every day…aloud. Don’t know which one to read? Choose the chapter that corresponds with the day you’re reading. Because there are 31 Proverbs you can’t go wrong! I’m often surprised by how His Word lines up with circumstances taking place on that particular day. Read it aloud to engage another sensory, leaving a greater impact that will help you retain the truths you read.
  2. Buy a new mug. I purchased a white-washed one at Target last week that reads “Warm & Cozy”. It reminds of chunky knit scarves, warm cups of tea and my beloved electric blanket. It reminds me of fall. Novel Teas Uncommon Goods
  3. For my literary friends, you’ll enjoy Novel Teas. In past years, I’ve bundled up individual packets of Novel Teas* to share with fellow writers, agents, editors, etc., at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. (These would also make for great literary-lovers stocking stuffers!) See the entire birthday collection here.
  4. Savor a good book. Don’t rush it. Turn each page with purpose, taking time to underline meaningful words, phrases, and sentences. My two reads for this fall are “Jesus and the Beanstalk” by Lori Roeleveld and “The Story of With” by Allen Arnold (thanks to Lynn Blackburn’s review). Gratitude Uncommon Goods
  5. Invite the spirit of gratitude year-round by gifting this to yourself. Writing notes of gratitude is one simple, yet powerful gesture to show other people how thankful you are for them. A Year of Gratitude* provides 52 thank you note cards along with tips on sending out a note card each week for a year. {Maybe we should start a gratitude challenge!}
  6. Take a country drive to stare at the stars. Since moving to the country one of my favorite destinations can be found outside on pitch-black nights. The stars cover the sky like a lit blanket. Rarely do I gaze upwards without Psalm 147:4 on the forefront of my mind: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Bundle up, head outside on a clear night with a blanket, and consider your mighty God as you star gaze.
  7. Take pleasure in the sunrise and sunset at least once a week. I’m more apt to take a quick glance out the window to see the sunrise or sunset and then move on with my day. Maybe you are too. But one way to make fall linger a little longer is to embrace the fullness of each day. Why not begin with enjoying how God bookends our days? Pop on a warm sweater, pour a hot cup of tea and head outside to watch the sun rise. Ask God what He desires for this day. And as the sun sets later in the day, thank Him for the day and whatever it contained, confident that it was of His design for your life.
  8. Take pictures. Pack your phone or camera and ride to places that remind you most of the fall season. Maybe it’s a nearby waterfall, mountain, or park. Or maybe your photo expedition leads you to your own backyard. Take a snapshot of those things that will bring a smile to your face long after the season ends. Date Night Bucket List
  9. Spend time with loved ones. Few things bring more enjoyment than spending time with friends and family. Go to festivals, pumpkin patches, take hay rides or pick apples. If you’re searching for fun ideas to do as a couple, Date Night Bucket List will go a long way in snuffing out the, “What do you want to do tonight?” type questions. My usual answer is “Whatever you want to do” which sometimes lands us in front of the TV watching army shows with bagged popcorn. But no more! Date Night Bucket List* to the rescue. Date prompts on birch wood sticks take all the guess work out of the night. (There’s also this one for families!) See the entire Anniversary collection here.
  10. Perform kind gestures. This might include raking leaves, picking up sticks and branches, or baking a loaf of pumpkin bread. Doing acts of kindness as a family is one way to instill the importance of putting others first into children and grandchildren. I know this firsthand as my dad was always chopping wood/kindling for elderly neighbors in the fall and winter. We would quietly stack the goodies by their door. The purpose wasn’t to receive accolades but to simply bless another person. Little did he know how his gestures of kindness would carry on throughout the generations.

I hope the above ideas will get the proverbial wheels turning to come up with your own ideas {please share in the comment section!}. As mentioned earlier in the post, a few of the above ideas include affiliate links to Uncommon Goods. Not only is it a store filled with unique and creative gifts it’s also one that values sustainability. This is seen in many of their products* as they offer handmade, recycled, and organic items. One thing I most appreciate when perusing their site is how they highlight their artists. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself.

Your turn! How do you help this season to linger a little longer?

 

Related Items:
-Jesus and the Beanstalk, by Lori Roeleveld {sign up for her award-winning blog and receive a free chapter of Jesus in the Beanstalk}.
The Story of With, Allen Arnold (and Lynn Blackburn’s review}.
-The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference

 

Lori Roeleveld: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome author and friend, Lori Roeleveld. We first met several years ago on Facebook when she posted her desire to begin an online accountability writers group.

Desiring to keep the group small for obvious reasons, the call-out was limited to the first twenty-five people to respond. I was timid but determined to set my introverted ways aside and join this community — so I responded, and my life has been forever changed by this group that has held together, led by Lori, for five years.

Lori’s first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus), continues to impact my life. If you’re expecting a comfortable feel-good read, this isn’t the book for you — but if you’re ready to be challenged and spurred on by a woman who knows, loves, and follows her God with a tangible passion, you will want a copy of this book, trust me.

So, thank you, Lori, for allowing us a glimpse into your quiet time today. I’m excited — let’s get started.

If we were to join you during your one-on-one times with God, what might we observe?

I’ve never been able to confine myself to one daily quiet time with God. As a young person, I spent hours with God – back in the days when kids were sent out to play until the street lights came on. I’d put my Bible, my hymnal, and my journal in my bike basket and sit under a tree reading, praying, singing, and writing several times a day. In college, I was impressed by Brother Lawrence’s practicing the presence of God concept and so I continue to incorporate time with God throughout my day. On work days, I read a passage before I’m out of bed and usually pray through my current needs before my feet hit the floor. I then listen to the Bible on CD in my car. At odd times through the day, I’ll google an image from the morning’s passage or look up a definition to deepen my understanding of what’s going through my mind. After work, I generally process what God’s been bringing to mind by writing it out (often resulting in a blog post but not always.) I generally get caught up in a story or concept for days at a time and God seems happy to supply object lessons as I go about my day to reinforce what I’m reading. When I have a weekend or vacation, I’ll spend longer periods of time with God alone in the morning, reading, taking notes, praying, and looking up cross-references or Hebrew/Greek stuff.

Other than the Bible, what is your one go-to “tool” you use during your time with the Lord? 

Probably my laptop. I like to type out my thoughts, it’s how I process, and love being able to look up different translations, images, or definitions on the Internet.

What’s one of the most unique experiences you’ve had during your one-on-one times with God?

I spent six months away from home at a job I didn’t like and where I didn’t feel accepted by the people. I decided to devote hours every night being alone with the Lord and asking Him to direct my quiet time. I was very afraid of what would happen. What if I didn’t sense any direction from Him? I started every evening by praying and then opening my Bible to a passage – reading and following references as I read. The sense of God’s presence was very powerful for me and I felt an incredible peace sort of leaving my burning questions aside and allowing Him to direct my thoughts. The first week, I was concerned about how I would know it was God leading my time but He confirmed it in a powerful way. At the time, I was visiting churches as one does when living in a new place. Over six weeks, I visited six different churches and every week, the sermon was on the theme that God led me to study in my quiet hours that week. It remains one of the most significant times of calling and formation in my life.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your one-on-one time with the Lord?

As have most long-term believers, I’ve experienced times when reading His Word and praying felt dry and I couldn’t sense His presence. When that happens, I’ve learned not to agonize. I ask Him if I’m putting up barriers such as cherishing sin in my life or being too distracted and I wait for an answer. Sometimes one comes but at other times, I’ve learned to just be patient and not try to force things. Just as the shore couldn’t handle the sea being at high tide all the time, so we even need a rest, a low tide, in our relationship with God. I’ve come to trust that the intensity of His presence will return in due season if I continue to show up. I don’t abandon my time with Him during these periods but I don’t agonize or try to force the issue, either.

What word of encouragement would you like to share with the readers in regard to spending time with the Lord?

Show up messy. We worry too much about having mixed motives when we spend time with God. I used to put off meeting with Him when I knew I really was just showing up because I wanted something. Now, I just admit that right away and ask Him to cleanse me of impure motives. It’s a much better process than me trying to do it without Him. Show up messy, show up late, show up inconsistently at first but whatever you do, keep showing up with Him.

Thank you for sharing your heart with us today, Lori. God bless you!

Is there one particular part of Lori’s interview that resonated with you today? If so, please share! I would love to hear from you. 

 

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Her new release is a Christmas novella, Red Pen Redemption, available now and she’s currently working on her next release, Jesus and the Beanstalk. Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. You’ll find her at her website www.loriroeleveld.com. If not, know she’s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for children’s parties.

(Lori’s site was recently voted one of the top 100 Christian blogs. Congrats, Lori!)
If you missed last week’s post with Marcia Moston, you can view it here.

 

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