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7 Places to Pray this Spring and What to Pray + Handy Download

Eight Places to Pray this Spring

Prayer was never meant to stay within four walls, or spoken from a well-worn chair, or coupled with coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, praying in my favorite spot with coffee in hand is a delight. But when I look at Jesus, I see how He prayed in the wilderness, solitary places, on a mountain, in crowds, gardens, and with children.

 

Jesus prayed with the same ease as His next breath, making the most of every opportunity.

 

As I look around, I see spring everywhere — in outdoor activities, flowers, trees, and on the labels of my sinus meds. The struggle is real. But every season offers its own unique opportunities for prayer, and spring is no exception.

So, where are some places we can make the most of every opportunity to pray this season? I’ll get the ball rolling with eight ideas:

 

A Park

 

Depending on the time we visit, we might see women running, children climbing on playsets, or couples circling it hand-in-hand.

We can pray God will bless the efforts of those taking the time to exercise. Are children climbing monkey bars? Pray they’ll come to know Jesus at an early age, for their protection (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), and for their parents. Also, seeing couples enjoying time together is a reminder to pray that they’ll be a good and godly influence on other couples (and we will too). So, let’s get to dusting off the devilish yellowish-green powder covering the park bench and take our seats!

 

Walks in Our Community

 

We walk in our neighborhood and pray for various families as we pass by their homes. So let’s stretch our prayer muscles and find other places in our community to pray. We can circle our children/grandchildren’s school in prayer or a small business that’s struggling. Let’s circle our church, praying for the pastoral staff and their families. We can also pray as we pass by the police station, fire department, and other places where dedicated men and women serve our community and country.

In the Garden

You know the old saying that we’re closer to God in a garden? Maybe it’s older than we think. After all, life began in a garden and the union with God was perfect before fruit was plucked and eaten.

As we dig into the earth, let’s consider those who need a holy heart tilling ⏤ for the Holy Spirit to begin preparing their heart for His Word, and that truth will sink deeply in their heart and mind. Pulling weeds? What a beautiful reminder to pray that we ourselves will also have a well-tilled heart.

 

At the Beach

Many southerners make their way to the beach during spring break, weekend trips, and early vacations. I have a feeling we’re not alone. (I hope we’re not!) While sitting on the beach, scoop up a handful of sand. Notice the number of granules, even in one pinched finger’s worth. Psalm 139 says God’s thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand. Do you, or someone you know, need to be reminded of God’s goodness, care, and attention? Pray and if you want to give them a tangible reminder, scoop sand in a Ziploc bag. Also, watching the mighty waves curl, crash and ease their way to the shore reminds us of God’s power and strength. Let’s pray for this power to move in our present circumstances, as well as others. A week’s worth of similar ideas is included in my devotional guide for the beach. (Not an affiliate link.)

 

The Farmer’s Market

We see a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables, flowers, jams, honey, and jellies⏤the fruition of hard work behind the scenes. It’s a great opportunity to pray for those who plant, water, fumigate, and can fruity goodness. Pray for their health, blessings on their work, and success.

 

At the Zoo

Who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the zoo, especially before the double-whammy hits ⏤ humidity and mosquitoes! Kids and kids-at-heart marvel at God’s creativity — the colors, habits, shapes, and their innate ability to survive. There’s no better place to praise God for surrounding us in His handcrafted beauty.

Road Trip!

Maybe it’s hard to imagine being able to pray while whipping around curves and stopping for lunch at our favorite mom and pop cafe but thanks to breath prayers, it’s possible.

 

Intentionally “taking” our prayer life wherever we go opens our eyes to spiritual truths and opportunities we would miss otherwise. And no greater example of this is Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

 

Here’s a handy PDF download of this post.

 

Ways to Pray for Our Children and Grandchildren

 

What to Pray When You Release Your Work Into the World

butterfly half

It all begins with an idea.

Maybe it’s a story, a blog, a song, a ministry, or simply a more productive way to accomplish a task in the office or at home. The idea percolates and begins to take shape⏤this could take minutes, months, or even years. The idea is relentless, clinging to our thoughts like a wet swimsuit. We pray over it, say no to things we’d rather say yes to, and grab every piece of chocolate in sight {okay, maybe that’s just me} in order to bring the idea to fruition.

And then it finally happens. We’re ready to release our work.

This year, I’ve learned a few things about what this means. My first book Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach released in May. My second, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains just released in September. I remember feeling physically ill when I first released the books to my critique group, beta readers, and finally, Amazon.

As I continue this journey, however, I’m learning the value of anchoring certain truths into place through prayer:

butterfly half

Stay focused on the why of the work.

 

Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” When we write, sing, counsel, teach, or whatever it is we do for God’s glory, His goodness is shared in a way that only we can tell it. Yes, the same story can be told by the multitudes but it’s how we experience God’s goodness that makes our story⏤the work of our hands and heart⏤unique and personal. If our ride-or-die why is to bring God glory then the missteps and disappointments we face along the way will not steer us off course because it’s not about us, our idea, or our atta-boys. It’s all His.

Father, You know my heart. Search it. Shine Your light to find any underlying motives residing in the nooks and crannies of my mind. If they are not of You, expose them as traitors, betraying my love and excitement for what You’ve put in my heart. Help me to stay focused on the why in order to guard against the voices in my head that will attempt to defeat and discourage me. May Your goodness emerge in everything I say and do.

 

Define success in my own heart before the world defines it for me.

 

Will the book sell more than a handful of copies? How will I react to my first bad review? If one person moves closer to the Lord as a result of reading the book, will that really be enough?

These questions ran through my mind with the same energy as a caffeinated child in a toy store. I knew it was time for a come-to-Jesus moment. There, I spilled all my expectations, desires, and hopes before the throne⏤the good, the bad, and the downright ugly⏤confident that nothing I said would catch Him off guard.

We all want our time, energy, and money to matter so when numbers in the form of books sold, clients or blog visitors don’t add up, the idea can feel like a failure⏤we can feel like a failure. That is unless we defined success for ourselves before the blog was written or the business began, or the story was told.

I personally define success as being obedient to what I feel God calls me to do. One of those things is writing this series of vacation devotional books. So if the books don’t sell as hoped, I may be disappointed, but I will rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, it is a success. When I get my first bad review, I will sob shed a tear, but I will rest. And if just one person moves closer to God as a result of anything I do, I will rejoice and rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, one person is equal to the world.

Father, show me how to measure the success of this idea by Your standards, not mine. Jesus says in John 5:30 that He doesn’t seek to please Himself, only God. Would you mold my desires in a way that mirrors that of Christ? I lay down my expectations, my desires, and dreams in submission to Your plans and purposes. Be glorified!

 

Release the results into God’s hands.

 

Flannery O’ Connor said, “When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God’s business.” (Thank you, Marcia!)

Our responsibility is to work diligently in pursuing what we feel God is calling us to do. That’s the calling. The results of that calling, however, are God’s.

We release our work into the world and the results into God's hands. Click To Tweet

Father, it’s all Yours. The idea, the energy and creativity to do the work, and the bravery required to release it. What You choose to do with my work {for Your glory} is completely up to You. I rejoice in knowing that the definition of true success is being faithful to You, for being always trumps doing.

 

Does one particular truth from today’s post resonate with where you find yourself today?

 

 

It’s Launch Day for My New Mountains Devotional Guide + Giveaway!

Pauses for the Vacationing SoulWhen we set out to live closer to the mountains last year, there was no way to know that the launch day for my second book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains would land on the anniversary of our closing date. But in retrospect, it seems fitting. Turns out, both are in the habit of making dreams come true.

In July of last year, after reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker ( a game-changer, by the way), I composed doodled my dreams for our next home. No judging, please.

 

 

House Drawing

Some dreams on this page have yet to come to fruition but the house we purchased two months later did have a barn, a built-in fire pit, a spacious yard (almost four acres) and a sprawling oak tree.

The tiny house is on hold, as is the desire for chickens. (In fact, that desire has shifted toward a Goldendoodle/Sheepadoodle.) Our neighbors raise chickens so I meet her at the fence on Friday mornings for fresh eggs. Did I mention snakes are attracted to coops? Yep, I don’t mind walking to the fence.

Publishing books is a dream, no doubt⏤but plans anchor dreams, allowing them to soar to their full potential. This planner keeps me grounded.

Blog planner

Why the Book Launching is a Dream Come True
  • The book is dedicated to my maternal grandparents, Henry and Elsie Knighton. Their love for home, family, and a Sunday drive to the mountains left an indelible mark on my life. It’s one small way to say thank you.
  • The book is foreworded by Edie Melson. I met her back in 2009 when I shoved my introverted self into the closet for a few hours and attended a local writer’s group for the first time. She welcomed me from the get-go and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve written together, slurped down lavender lattes at the local coffee shop (okay, maybe I was the only one slurping), studied God’s Word together, and joined in prayer numerous times. Thank you again, Edie.
  • It proves that if I can self-publish, anyone can. Don’t you feel encouraged?
How You Can Help Me Today {Thank You!}
  • Pray. For readers to be drawn closer to their magnificent Creator through what they see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. Also, creating the printed version this time around proved to be quite a challenge. I won’t see or hold a copy before you do, so please pray it publishes nicely. Above all, let’s pray that God receives much glory.
  • Share. Please share this post, and any Facebook or Twitter posts you might see today and in the coming weeks. There is also a designated page on my site where you can easily click and share images on Instagram and ready-to-click tweets.
  • Review. Like I said in my guest post on Edie’s site, Write Like You Believe It, Marilyn got it all wrong. Reviews are a girl’s best friend. Thank you!
Mountains MugMountains Mug Giveaway – Just in Time for Fall!

In celebration of today’s book launch, I’m giving away this uber cool mountains mug. It features a quote by John Muir (The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go) that’s included in the new book. Simply leave a comment here on the blog sharing your favorite thing about the mountains to enter. I’ll randomly draw a name using Random Name Picker on miniwebtool and post the winner on Friday via Facebook.

Your support means everything to me. Thank you!

 

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

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // Shine, Sister, Shine!

Shine, sister, shine

Summer offers a plethora of scents that leave us dizzy, mostly with delight:

  • Roses in bloom
  • Lit charcoal fluid
  • Suntan lotion
  • Freshly mowed grass (for allergy suffers like me this one literally leaves me dizzy!)
  • Chlorine ( = swimming)
  • Saturated air after a summer afternoon storm
  • Hawaiian Fruit Punch (throwback to the 70’s)
  • Citronella (delight in the sense that there are fewer mosquitoes!)

And when one is, oh say, 56 days away from a beach vacation, one must turn to the next best thing to capture the sea-side scent: a candle. But not just in any candle.

While searching for beach-themed goodies to promote my book Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, I came across this candle. The scent was not the first thing to grab my attention.

Non-lit candle can't shine

Being a sucker for all things visual, it took a mere three seconds to place myself in this VW van, front emblem and all. Then I noticed the packaging. A canvas material with California Dreamin’ printed in a funky font was only the prelude to the delight waiting beneath it, and one whiff was all it took. I paid more than I normally do but it was dreamy VW van (which I love) and I was there, in it, with ocean breezes blowing by as I drove down the California coast line. {Told you I was a sucker.}

But I digress.

Less than one mile from the TJ Maxx parking lot, I’d already finagled a way to keep this little treasure for myself. I would use it for inspiration by burning it each time I sat down to work on the next book in the series. Never mind that the book setting is in the mountains! Plus, it would be too heavy to mail if it became a contest prize. {If you care to hear more excuses as to why I needed to keep it, feel free to email me.}

Fast forward three months. This carefully carted VW-lovin’-ocean-breeze candle continues to sit on my kitchen bar⎯unwrapped, unopened, and unlit. Oh, I stop by occasionally to hover, inhale, and dream for a brief moment but I hesitate to take the cover off and light it. I want it to last. Burning it will only make it disappear. And because of this hesitation, the candle is neither being enjoyed or used to its fullest potential.

Jesus had something to say about this in Matthew 5:14-16. (Although tempted to focus on the 2 Corinthians 2:14 passage that eludes more to fragrance, Matthew just wouldn’t let it be.)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

A covered, unlit candle’s fragrance is scant compared to one which sits on a stand and is lit. From the moment the flame licks the wick, everyone in the room benefits⎯both from the light it sheds, and from the delightful fragrance it diffuses.

Jesus declares that you and I are the light of the world! We are to display God’s gospel-work in our lives and not hide it away. It is meant to be shared and seen by others for His glory. So how do we shine our brightest, reflecting God’s glory to a darkened world?

 

3 Suggestions to Help Us Shine, Sister, Shine!

 

Recognize Who is behind our shine.

In John 1:9, John proclaims Jesus to be the true light who gives light to everyone. We are only able to shine because we are reflecting His great light! In Matthew 5:16 we’re given the very reason why it’s vital that we shine. When our calling, our spiritual gifts, our good works are seen, God is glorified.

Recognize that too many yes’s can actually diminish our ability to shine.

The candle wick’s purpose is to deliver fuel (liquified wax) to the flame. If it’s not trimmed before each lighting, it will burn too quickly. Just because we can shine in a lot of different ways doesn’t mean we should place ourselves between every problem/opportunity and the solution. Burning out is not glorifying, nor is it a true reflection of Jesus.

Recognize how community helps everyone to shine brighter.

Have you seen the multi-wick candles? Some think the extra wicks cause the candle to burn faster but the truth is, it helps the candle to burn more evenly. Isn’t it the same with us? Bearing one another’s burdens, being vulnerable and transparent with others, and keeping a teachable spirit so that others can speak truth into our lives are all good places to start. If we release what is not ours to carry we are all able to shine brighter for God’s glory.

If we release what is not ours to carry, we are all able to shine brighter for God's glory. Click To Tweet

An unlit candle doesn’t shine. Neither does a covered one.

Heavenly Father,

Reveal anything or anyone that is hindering my ability to shine for Your glory.
Help me to lay bare my sin, my struggles, guilt, shame, and fears before You now,
confident that in the process of uncovering the darkness way down deep within,
You will bring forth light, ushering in fresh grace and mercy
that I might shine brighter for Your glory and fame.
This is my heart’s desire.
Amen.

How do you sense God calling you to shine, sister, shine?

 

Lit candles shine


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