Tiny House Tuesday // Her First Snow

Okay, so it was more of an ice event. Still, it was a milestone for the Tiny House on the Hill.

Tiny House on the Hill Snow Pics

 

In 2018, we’ve seen her bare naked, dressed in walls, and covered in wrap. But this is her first clothing of white. She wears it well, don’t you think?

Tiny House on the Hill's First Snow

Before the first line was drawn on the tiny house plans, my mind ventured into the future, imagining a space the size of a twin bed tucked within her walls. There, we pile in with the grandkids, blankets, and books to snuggle and watch snow fall outside the surrounding windows.

Perhaps this will come to fruition before winter folds into spring.

But today, the tiny house is bare and bone cold. Vacant walls can only dream of the Decembers to come, Lord willing.

So they dream.

She wears her finest hand-me-downs borrowed from Christmases long ago: Antique postcards clipped on cords, stretching from one end of the eight-foot window to the other, a silver pom-pom aluminum tree adorned in Shiny Brites and a pink vintage ceramic Christmas tree that casts a warm glow on God’s goodness.

 

Dreaming of future Decembers in the tiny house is a delight. But it’s the honor held in the here-and-now that holds my attention.

 

On this day, I join in the silence and wonder of the season as I’m reminded of another small space that once stood vacant. It didn’t hold dreams. It held my Deliverer⏤and yours. One who traded splendor for skin, bearing our sins, and equipping us to move beyond simple dreams that we might embrace a new reality, Christ in us.

“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis

Christmas 2018

 

Merry Christmas from the Tiny House on the Hill!

In celebration of the first snow, I picked up this “dashing” Starbucks gift card. Who couldn’t use a warm cup of coffee or tea this season? Simply leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Thank you for being a part of this *tiny* journey. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us all in 2019. Blessings!

 

 

20 Simple Ways to Offer the Love of Christ this Christmas + Starbucks Giveaway

christmas gifts

My paternal grandmother, Alberta Scott, aka Ma-ma, crafted the art of memory-making.

Every December certain things took place in her home. The smooth sounds of Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis spun on the console upstairs while boiled custard simmered on the stove. A twelve-inch ball of Styrofoam decked out in olive-green velvet hung over the same doorway for as long as I can remember. And the gold pedestal candy dish in the living room was emptied of common candy in favor of peppermints.

Ma-ma made Christmas special for everyone who walked through her door. But she didn’t stop there. Every year, she loaded her Buick with homemade pound cakes, fudge, and spritzer cookies, making her rounds to those who were home-bound, lonely, and sick. Even as a little girl, I remember thinking how I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

 

Her gestures were simple but meaningful.

 

She taught me that sharing the love of Christ, especially at Christmas, is a privilege that no jolly red-coated gift deliverer could possibly match.

Over the years, I’ve tried creating ideas that worked for our family. Below are some of those ways. I’d love to read yours in the comment box!

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16 ESV

Offering the love of Christ at Christmas

  1. As you receive Christmas cards in the mail, place them in a bowl in the center of your table. Pick a card each night and pray for that family.
  2. Before your fluffy socks hit the floor each morning, ask God to help you be attentive to the divine opportunities He has for you that day. Maybe you will be the only patient person in line behind the woman who plops 20 items down in a 10 item lane. Or, the only person that shows restraint, refusing to honk at the woman who robbed you of a green light because she was too busy reading her phone. Deep breath Cathy, deep breath.
  3. Not only come to a complete stop for pedestrians but smile at them. It’s a nice way to let them know they’re not an intrusion on your day and that they are worthy of your time.
  4. Go beyond what’s expected when you hear the bell ring near a favorite store. Buy a bottle of water or a hot cup of cocoa for the person who is willing to brave the weather to raise money for those in need. If you really want to make their day, take their order for a nearby coffee shop or restaurant. The smile you receive will be the brightest gift you’ll open this season.
  5. Family activity: Bundle up, grab a basket and head outdoors to find objects in nature for a holiday centerpiece. As you walk, consider pointing out the details of God’s magnificent handiwork. When you return home, place a large white candle in the center, sharing how Christ is the true Light, the Light of all mankind (read John 1). Capturing ordinary moments for God’s glory releases extraordinary possibilities.
  6. Celebrate Advent as a family. It begins December 2nd and ends December 24th. Advent – A Countdown to Christmas, by Focus on the Family has several resources that are sure to help you get started.
  7. Give the gift of song. Gather friends for cocoa and go caroling! Hand out peppermint canes with tags that read, Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)
  8. Exchange busy for being. For a few minutes each day, be intentionally still and quiet as you meditate on Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.
  9. Curl up with your favorite cup of tea and Christmas novella. After all, how can we serve others if we ourselves are depleted?
  10. Lend an ear⏤a listening one, that is. For those who are struggling with the season, be there. It’s not so much what you say as much as what you hear.
  11. Do you enjoy decorating? Take time to notice those around you who may have physical difficulties and unable to decorate a tree.
  12. Gift a day. If you know someone who became a widow in 2018, create a day for them. If they’re a single mom of young children, offer to watch the children. Or plan a day that doesn’t require money — hiking, festivals, or a church Christmas program.
  13. “Wrap gifts” for Jesus. I was a single mom when I celebrated my first Christmas as a Christ-follower. Throughout the month of December, I jotted down specific ways I was thankful for my new life, His promises, and blessings. Each one went on a different note card and under the spindly Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, after the boys had gone to their dad’s, I spent a quiet time unwrapping the gifts and saying each one aloud. It was a Christmas I’ll never forget. That’s what happens when one crosses over from darkness to light.
  14. Invite a lonely neighbor to dinner or dessert. The blessing doesn’t dwell in a dish but rather, the heart.
  15. Adopt a family with a deployed military parent. Being a single parent is never easy but this is especially so during the holidays.
  16. Write to someone who has especially blessed you this year. “More than kisses, letters mingle souls.” – John Donne. What would it mean to you to receive such a letter?
  17. Who couldn’t use a cup of coffee? Consider treating the person behind you in line. Not so long ago, I chose to forego a pay-it-backward moment because the woman seemed to have it all together. Why would a woman driving a BMW with impeccable style need a free coffee? (Must I reason everything out?) One divine tap. That’s all it took. God alone knows what’s going on in the heart of another.
  18. As you flick on your lights in December, let it remind you how Jesus is the Light of the World. He pierced your darkness and mine.
  19. Do you know someone who has lost a loved one in 2018? Consider gifting them an evergreen plant or tree. In the note, remind them that like the evergreen that retains color all year long, their love too will remain. Perhaps invite a few close friends and spend time sharing sweet memories of the person as you plant the tree together.
  20. Take a cue from the song Silent Night, Holy Night and turn off all TV’s, phones and laptops. Read a book, sing Christmas carols, work on a Christmas puzzle, or bake Christmas cookies for yourself and others.

{Download a PDF copy of the above list here.}

Every December, I peel open the tote that holds Ma-ma’s ball of styrofoam dressed in olive-green velvet and smile. Yes, the memories of childhood prompt it but it’s the blessing she brought to others that hold it.

Mustard Seed Moments

Watch for the next Tiny House Tuesday! It will be my only post during the month of December. I plan to enjoy my family, merge into a new church family, prepare my heart for Christmas, and down buckets of coffee. Speaking of which…

What’s one way you/your family reach out to others during the Christmas season? Or, is there an idea above you plan to try this season? Leave a comment and your name will be included in a random drawing for a $10.00 gift card from Starbucks!

**Subscribers! Be sure to check your inbox today. A full list of family ideas for the Christmas Jar is included in your Letter from the Tiny House on the Hill. 

 

Tiny House Tuesday // With A Little Help From My Friend

I mean, how hard could it be to install a metal roof?

We were convinced it wouldn’t be that hard⏤even with a roof that points to the sky like an arrow. Brian calls it a 14/12 pitch. I call it crazy steep.

Over the last several weeks, we’d framed, lifted beefy plywood via sheer willpower, and purchased more nails than groceries. Laying galvanized metal on top of twelve weeks of work felt like tucking a toddler into bed. The exhaustion was behind us, and now all we wanted to do was have a little fun.

 

Tiny House Roof Cap

 

But the roof cap was a party pooper.

 

This eighteen-foot-long piece of metal shaped like a pop-up tent was the last piece to apply to the roof and the toughest. Brian tried traipsing up the slick metal with the supposed “right” shoes but they turned out to be all wrong. We needed a professional.

 

But he wasn’t the friend.

 

That would be Shana. She is the person who “happened” to mention how she’d just had metal roof work done on her barn. I’d never seen Brian jot down information as fast as I did that Sunday morning.

 

But here’s the best part.

 

One issue stood between us and sanity: convincing this busy roofer to take time to do our small job. So when he called saying he could fit us in the following Friday afternoon we were surprised. Turns out, the roofer had Shana down for that time to finish up her barn.

 

But she gave up her slot for us.

 

What made her sacrifice even more special was that we’ve only known Shana for a short period of time. Something like this might be expected from a seasoned friend, but for someone to do it simply because she knew we had a need made it feel like a hug from above. It’s true, isn’t it?

 

Sacrifice is at the heart of friendship.

 

I fail miserably at sacrificing for others more often than I’d like to admit, but I’m thankful God never disappoints. He gave up⏤sacrificed⏤His Son so that we could experience the joy of being in relationship with Him for an eternity (beginning now!) and Jesus laid His life low so that we, in turn, could be lifted to this new life.

No friendship compares to the friend we have in Jesus. No one loves us as He does⏤no one possibly could.

 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

“We measure the love and friendship of Jesus by the price he paid for us.” -John Piper

 

Mustard Seed

Sacrifice and friendship go hand-in-hand.

 

The Day Eavesdropping Inspired This Titus 2 Woman to Tears

At the cafe

I didn’t intend to eavesdrop.

My sole purpose for being at the The Black Bear Coffee Co. in Hendersonville NC was to write while Brian shopped for vintage vinyl finds, five miles down the road.

On the cafe table, three essentials: laptop, a fragrant cup of non-fat goodness, aka lavender latte, and plenty of napkins. I’m messy that way.

As I tapped the keys to the rhythm of the music, the conversation next to me in our tight corner space, prompted a grateful pause more than once.

One woman did most of the talking as if she might be counseling the other. The tone of her voice reflected the zeal in her heart as she shared the gospel, the importance of remaining pure before marriage, and how a woman should expect to be treated by a Christian man. I marveled at her wisdom and the authority with which she shared it.

 

I couldn’t ignore them any longer.

 

I removed the earbuds, scooched away from my tiny cafe table and leaned over. I’m not intentionally eavesdropping, *smile* but I want to tell you that you are wise beyond your years, and to hear you share the gospel with such conviction warmed my heart.

One young woman was eighteen. The other, twenty-one. Both broke smiles that would rival wide Autumn skies as we began sharing our faith stories. Their enthusiasm was contagious. When I stood up to return to my table, the eighteen-year-old reached out and said, Our generation needs women like you to pour into us.

 

And the tears began to pour.

 

Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Titus 2:3

Joan Coker was one of those women for me. I was a new Christ-follower when we first became members of the church. We never studied the Word together one-on-one, but I studied her life, her decisions, and prayers, all leaving an indelible mark on me.

I’m still learning what it means to be a Joan Coker. I tend to be overly concerned that I’m intruding in a person’s life, so I step back, wait and watch.

 

At the risk of being dramatic, none of us have that kind of time. Today⏤more than ever⏤we need each other.

 

Since meeting the two young women in the cafe, I’m pondering ways to “pour” into the lives of younger women. Below are a few that have come to mind in recent days.

 

Embrace Community

It’s no secret that I’m a die-hard-introverted-homebody. But how can I pour into vessels that aren’t there? God wired us for biblical community. Yes, even us introverts. Meeting in person is undoubtedly the best way to rub shoulders with someone, and I look forward to these opportunities at our church, but perhaps God will also open doors in a different setting as well. For instance, the nearby university that’s nestled in the mountains. Since our move, I’ve sensed a tug to be involved with the young women attending there. Want to join me in praying for God’s lead on that particular adventure? (I’d love to pray for yours too!)

 

Take Risks

This looks different for us all. Maybe it means reaching out to someone we normally wouldn’t, at the risk of seeming foolish. Perhaps younger women are hesitant to reach out for the same reason. Selma Wilson addresses specific reasons why it’s worth taking the risk in 8 Things Younger Women Need from Older Women in the Church.

 

Live a Great Story

When the eighteen-year-old woman spoke her words, I was struck with both conviction and resolve. Conviction, because I need to steam less and pour more.

Resolve, because:

  • I’m determined to finish the race with as much⏤if not more⏤zeal than when I began.
  • I refuse to fade away from the Church, serving, community, and sharing the gospel just because the age spots darken.
  • I now understand the power of the eavesdrop and I want those who might overhear my conversations to be as inspired as I was that day in the cafe.

I want to live a great story⏤not perfect, but pourable.

 

Lori Roeleveld describes what it means to live a great story (and more!) in her marvelous post, Five Ways to Be an Older Woman Younger Women Can Hear.

 

After leaving the cafe, it occurred to me that I didn’t know their names and they didn’t know mine. My first thought was to return to the hallelujah corner, but then there was this quiet understanding: Jesus was the focus of our conversation and that One name was really all we needed to know.

 

How do you pour into the lives of the next generation? Or, how can I pray for you as you set out on this new adventure?

 

Mustard Seed

It is only when we pour into others that we ourselves are filled.

 

There's more! Here’s what I’m eagerly watching for in my mailbox this week:

Joyful Magazine

Joyful Life Magazine

Oh, the anticipation of it all! I love everything about The Joyful Life: Heart & Home Inspiration for Women. And I loved it long before I became an affiliate for this beautiful site. I’m currently working through their Bible study, Counting it All Joy. More details on that at a later date, but today I want to give you a heads up on the opportunity to pre-order the premiere issue. Shipping begins this week.

**As an affiliate, I will receive a small commission when you purchase products from the site using my links. It doesn’t increase your cost and it helps this coffee lover grab a fancy latte every once and awhile. Most importantly, I only promote products that I myself enjoy and value.

Here’s what you’ll find in this premiere issue of The Joyful Life. (I love that every issue will have a Titus 2 Interview. Pour away, sisters!)

INSIDE THE JOYFUL LIFE:

  • Heart & Home Inspiration
  • Spiritual Growth Articles
  • Honest Stories of Real Women
  • Stunning Original Images
  • Lifestyle Features
  • Seasonal Inspiration
  • Creative Pursuits
  • Lists and Journaling Prompts
  • Recipes
  • Gift Guide
  • Featured Product Reviews | In Every Issue
  • Titus 2 Feature Interview | In Every Issue
  • The Lost Art Series | In Every Issue
  • & MUCH MORE!

Wouldn’t this make the perfect Christmas gift? Pre-order your copy, or yearly subscription, here.

 

Thank you for spending time with me on the hill today! Hope you’ll join me next week for Tiny House Tuesday.

Subscribers to The Tiny House on the Hill: Be sure to check this month’s letter to download your copy of “30 Slips of Gratitude” to enjoy throughout this month. It’s never too late to start! 

 

Name Your Fears For What They Are and See What Happens When You Do

Name Your Fears

I’ve never been a fan of anything that slithers.

Having lived in the burbs for most of my life where the outdoors consisted of crumbling asphalt and the occasional stray cat, I wasn’t sure what country life would bring. I know what it brought our first night⏤a colorful snake coiled up next to the steps in our garage. That went over well. (But the swarm of honey bees that swept across our backyard on a warm summer day was a sight for these city eyes.)

There’s only one thing I dread out here and that’s moving anything outdoors⏤flower pots, deck chairs, outdoor rugs, etc. With even the slightest movement, some creature inevitably dashes (or slithers) away. Let’s just say that my tightly wound shrieks have become as common as the cock-a-doodle-doo next door.

So earlier this year, when a lizard matching the color of mulch darted in front of me, I did what any 6-year-old-at-heart would do. I named it. What once caused fear now prompted a smile. How could you fear a lizard named Ricky? (Lucy, Ethel, and Fred soon followed.)

 

The simple gesture of naming my fear weakened its ability and strengthened mine.

 

Some fears are easier to name than others. Snakes and lizards are visible, but others bury down deep refusing to surface unless they’re called out by name. Like the time not so long ago when Hurricane Florence pounced the Carolinas. Reality set in that the tiny house could buckle under the high winds even though we fastened her down the best we could. All the what-if’s kidnapped my peace.

What if the tiny house is destroyed? What if she’s damaged and requires even more time to complete it? What if I can’t minister as planned?

 

If I wasn’t careful, the name of this fear would soon become idol.

 

That was hard to write, and an even harder truth to swallow. What begins as a godly desire to build a tiny space to write, play, and minister, can quietly slip beyond its well-intended boundaries without warning.

 

Anything⏤including good, godly things⏤if held too tightly can become an idol.

 

When I recognized my fear of losing the tiny house and more importantly, the why behind it, I named it⏤called it out⏤before the Lord. With that confession came a speechless comfort. And yet, I knew I needed to put a few safeguards into place to prevent it from happening again. So I sat down with my Bible, pen, a sheet of paper, and my recently humbled heart {ouch!} and put these three grace-laced steps into place:

 

Safeguard the Heart

 

 

Start mornings with Psalm 139: 23,24.

This is one of the first verses I memorized but haven’t paid nearly enough attention to in recent months. He longs to show us the way and help us get back on the right track.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

On an index card, write a scripture verse that speaks to the issue, one biblical quote, and a scripture verse on God’s forgiveness and mercy.

I try to bookend the cards with scripture because the point of confession is not to receive an emotional “beating” but rather, to reconcile with a loving heavenly Father. The enemy would prefer us to believe otherwise, so putting this safeguard into place serves as a constant reminder to rely on truth, not feelings.

My current cards include:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14

“It (idolatry) means turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.” – Tim Keller

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

 

Pray a tiny {but powerful} prayer.

Memorizing scripture and seeing truths can change the trajectory of our days. But prayer instantaneously melds our desire to be on the right path in one breath with the power of God, the One who makes it happen, in the next. For me, it was as simple as⏤You alone, Lord, You alone.

 

Mustard Seed

To name our fear we must first recognize what lies beneath it.

 

Do you have a go-to verse when you need to be reminded of God’s love and forgiveness? If not, that’s okay! I encourage you to find one, memorize it, and take it with you wherever you go.

 

Thank you for making your way up the hill to hang out with me for a little while today. You’re always welcome here.

 

This is the final week of giveaways in celebration of The Tiny House on the Hill blog launch and I saved the best for last. After all, what better gift to celebrate the blog than these beautiful artisan *mustard seed* earrings?

To enter the random giveaway, simply share with others. For every share, you receive an entry. If you’re a subscriber, you receive two entries for every share. Be sure to tag me!

 

Mustard Seed Earrings

 

 

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