Why I Created The Tiny Prayer Garden E-Book

Garden Bench

Dirt beneath the nails is a badge of honor in my family.

Back in the ’40s, my great-grandmother, Fannie Reece, was known for her dinner plate-sized dahlias. She lived in a mill town where houses circled the block. Behind the houses was a field where her flowers grew. From Grandmother Reece’s back stoop, the top of the field was quite steep, accessible only by large field stones carved into the landscape.

I remember climbing those stones as a young girl. Dahlias and chrysanthemums of all colors and sizes spread across the land like a brightly-colored quilt.

Grandmother Reece must’ve handed down her green thumb to my grandmother, Elsie Knighton. On the window sills of her back porch, plants lined up with torn pieces of tin-foil cupping the bottoms to prevent spillage onto the corn-colored linoleum floors.

And my other grandmother, Alberta Scott, was a charter member of her local Garden Club. Large southern Gardenia shrubs lined one side of her home. Their perfumed petals welcomed guests long before MaMa had time to greet them at the door with a smile and a full-on hug.

MaMa (Alberta Scott, on far left) with two of her best friends and fellow Garden Club Members, Reba Crow and Catherine Edwards, (whom I was named after!)

 

But there’s more to gardening than the size of a flower or the perfume it carries.

 

God could’ve chosen to place man anywhere and He chose a garden.

 

When I catch a whiff of fragrant shrubs or touch the red clay of the Carolinas, I feel an undeniable tug toward heaven, and it’s for this reason I wrote A Tiny Prayer Garden for new subscribers. Creating a prayer garden doesn’t have to be fancy, cost a lot of money, or sap our last ounce of energy. It’s simply an intentional place to meet with God among His glory-filled creation.

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Tiny Prayer Garden

The introduction to A Tiny Prayer Garden:

 

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:8 NIV

“It’s no coincidence that life began in a garden. 
Trees invite us to find respite beneath their branches, the scent of flowers lingers mid-air, and the choruses of birds praise their Maker. If you feel at home in a garden, it’s not surprising, because, in a way, you are.

My grandmother was a charter member of her local Garden Club. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in her enamel-clad kitchen. A journal decorated in flowers sat on her smooth speckled kitchen counter by the stove. On the cover was written: 

“One is nearer to God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” – Dorothy Frances Gurney

To create a prayer garden is to set apart a quiet place for you to meet with God. The moment you step outside, your senses engage, inviting you to enter a quiet, thoughtful place. God meets with you in the garden, or anywhere else. He is only a breath away. 

But there is something to be said for creating a place to talk with, and listen to, God.

So, why a tiny prayer garden? 

Because many today are choosing to live on a smaller scale whether through downsizing, minimizing, or simplifying. Regardless of where we live, most of us long for a small, private, and dare I say, manageable, place to step away from the hectic culture in order to embrace the quiet. 
And in doing so, we’re in good company.

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23


When a prayer garden is kept tiny, it simplifies everything— the design, required tools, time and energy. It’s possible to create a meaningful place for soul refreshment without depleting your resources. 
Prayer gardens can be simple, elaborate, or anything in between. There’s no right or wrong. They can also vary in size because the word tiny is subjective.

It’s not about a space in the yard, but rather, a place in the heart that brings the prayer garden to life. 
And finally, you’ll find sensory tips at the bottom of each section. Planning with your senses in mind adds a layer of thoughtfulness that you’re sure to appreciate for years to come.”

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In addition to A Tiny Prayer Garden, you’ll also find a bundle of six popular downloads under the NEW Freebies Tab that’s available to new members of the *tiny* community.

Freebie Bundle for Subscribers

But if you’re not ready to join us, that’s okay. There’s still something for you on the Freebies page. 🙂

So what does it mean to become a part of our community? It simply means that you support the ministry of the work that’s shared here @ the Tiny House on the Hill. Not financially, but through prayer, engagement on the blog, and an excitement to share the posts with others in hopes of offering them hope and encouragement.

Members of the THOTH community receive 2-3 blog posts in their inbox each month and a Monthly Letter that includes:

  • Behind-the-scenes pictures/videos of our progress on the tiny house.
  • First-to-know updates on my books and other happenings at the house.
  • First notifications and glimpses of new releases, like A Tiny Prayer Garden.
  • Helpful downloads and links created exclusively for subscribers
  • And a fun monthly giveaway.

What’s not to love? *smile*

Do you have a garden, or plan to have one in the future? Or do you remember a garden from your past? I’d love to hear about it!

Thank you for taking the time to stop by for a visit at the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

Tiny House Tuesday // Goodbye Exterior, Hello Interior!

He tried to warn me.

Over a year ago, while stringing stakes and leveling blocks, Brian dropped this little love bomb:

You won’t believe how many things we’ll need to do before this tiny house is finished. It’s going to be a long process, possibly a year.

Bless his heart, he didn’t know how quickly southern girls could make things happen when they put their mind to it. Turns out, however, it wasn’t his heart in need of blessing.

The term “weekend warriors” should’ve given me a hint as to what the future held. Who knew it was code for slow and steady, with emphasis on slow? Apparently, Brian did. We entered the “over one-year” threshold in March.

After we finish up the exterior in April, we finally move indoors, where weather won’t determine our progress⏤but I’m not asking for Brian’s opinion. This heart can only take so many blessings.

 

Tiny siding

 

After debating the choice of siding for several weeks, Brian landed on Hardi Board. We considered less expensive options, but we kept hearing great things about the product. It stands up well against bugs (a biggie for me – have you seen country creepers?), mildew (eww), and wind, which is a frequent visitor up here.

The gold-ish color above is the plank treatment, but after a few buckets of paint, she’ll be bright as snow, like the front porch below.

Soon, I’ll gussy up the front door with slaps of chartreuse, a color that’s sure to pop. And lastly, the porch will welcome a vintage metal chair in the same color, so as not to be out-popped.

{Subscribers! You’ll be the first to see the gussied up door in May’s Monthly Letter.}

 

Tiny Porch

 

Goodbye

foundation, siding, and roof. You taught us lessons we won’t soon forget. Few were fun, but they were necessary.

 

Hello

shiplap, vintage mantle, eight-foot-wide views, and cozy reading nook. I’ve patiently waited two winters, two springs, and one summer to spend time with you. I have a feeling we’ll become fast friends. Hint, hint.

 

Our Heavenly Father has provided many delightful inns for us along our journey, but he takes great care to see that we do not mistake any of them for home. C.S. Lewis

 

So, what color would you choose to paint the front door of this *tiny* delightful inn? 

 

As always, thank you for joining the journey!

 

The Night This Titus 2 Woman Hosted a Tea Party

Tea Party

 

 

Remember this eavesdropping story that took place in a North Carolina café?

 

“Our generation needs women like you to pour into us.”

 

These words, from the lips of an eighteen-year-old woman, continue to flow through my mind as smoothly as the coffee tasted that morning.

Several weeks following my cafe encounter, Brian and I hosted our first small group from our new church. We were told ahead of time that the majority of the group consisted of college students.

I felt a rush of excitement over the opportunity to meet these young women but it didn’t take long for insecurities to rise and take their place. You didn’t attend college, so what could you possibly offer these young women? Why would they care what you have to say? Why are you in this group anyway?

All this while trying to rescue a dozen chocolate chip cookies from our gas-fired oven. But before they had time to cool, the college students, mostly female, began filing through our back door, two-by-two.

 

And I did what any good southerner would do—I hugged the puddin’ out of them.

 

We ate, drank hot tea, laughed, shared, studied and prayed that night. My insecurities fell like scales from my eyes. Like Saul, I was able to see—really see. The connection between “the girls” and I had nothing to do with me, my strengths, and especially my weaknesses.

 

I put my insecurities back in their place⏤at the foot of the cross.

 

It’s not about what I have or don’t have to offer. It’s about what God has to offer through me.

 

A few weeks after our first meeting, I asked the girls if they might be interested in coming over for a little tea party. “Will there be sugar cubes?” one asked. Why oh my, yes!

Because Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, it soon evolved into a bona fide Valentine’s Day Tea Party.

Valentine Tea table setting

Because I was expecting twelve and my great-aunt’s Apple Blossom china plates only counted to eight, I ordered a stack of ornately trimmed plates decked out in peachy-pink from Amazon. They come in an array of gorgeous colors and they were the perfect fit for both the table and my budget.

The love of my great-aunt, who purchased a piece of this china with every paycheck, was present through the use of these treasured teacups and saucers. (Did I mention she purchased these pieces for me even though I was a baby at the time?)

Valentine Tea Cupcakes

I found these individual cupcake holders in the Target dollar bin, along with the larger pedestal platter that held vanilla doozies wrapped in sprinkles. On each pedestal, a light pink gauzy ribbon was attached, even though they’re barely visible in the picture.

Valentine Tea Gold Hearts

After we munched on scones and sandwiches between sips of tea, I passed around this heart-shaped basket. Inside were hearts, one side gold, and the other paper, with a handwritten verse about God’s love.

Valentine Tea Candles

We closed out our evening together by taking turns lighting hand-held candles. After each candle caught flame, the gold heart was flipped over and the verse was read aloud. It was a sweet time of worship.

Valentine Tea group

My girls. Beautiful, inside and out.

Valentine Tea Gift Bag

Before leaving, they picked up this little bag filled with a Starbucks gift card, colorful gumballs individually wrapped, and chocolate kisses dressed in Valentine colors.

Looking back, I believe God began preparing my heart that morning in the North Carolina cafe. I could’ve never known that within a few months, the road would lead to my celebrating God’s love with a group of young women who’ve stolen my heart.

 

Like all stories penned by God, beauty unravels at every turn.

 

Is there some area in life where you’re holding back because of your insecurities? I’d love to pray for you. Private message, email, or leave your request in the comment section.

Which part of the tea party is your favorite? Do share!

 

 

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul

Tiny House Tuesday // Building an Ark

I love the idea of having a house by the lake⏤just not a tiny house.

When we chose the place where she’d perch, we took a lot into consideration⏤which direction to face, what views not to block, and how to prevent our galvanized roof from blinding our only neighbor. One thing we did not take into consideration, however, was the direction of the river that flows down the mountain behind us, over a berm, and directly by the tiny house.

Once the house is finished we’ll find a way to re-route the river in order to make way for the cottage garden that will include old-timey plants and an iron gate, Lord willing. But before I get too ahead of myself…

Our winter plan included finishing out the exterior by installing the soffits, corner trim, siding, and painting the front door. Brian managed to squeak in soffits and trim despite the downpours, but without a decent stretch of sunshine, the Tyvek continues to show and my front door still stands well-worn red.

Yet all is not lost. Inside the tiny house, wiring for electricity and insulation have begun and once the exterior is finished, we’ll move indoors full-time. Now that it’s lighter longer at day’s end, we’ll extend our weekend warriorship to an occasional weeknight.

Although the Ark-worthy rain has tested every ounce of our patience, it’s also set a simple but significant truth before us and that is the weather is completely out of our control.

 

And this realization prepares the knee to bow to God’s sovereignty.

 

Because here’s the thing. He knows the excitement that rumbles through my heart like a freight train at the thought of using this tiny place for His grand glory. Either I trust His timing or I don’t.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

And I do.

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So, this is usually the spot where I share the latest picture of our progress, but without any noticeable changes in the past several weeks, serious consideration was necessary for choosing a *tiny* picture for today’s post.

Okay, maybe not too serious.

Insulation Day

Insulation Man

Oompa Loompa Doompa Dee Do…

Gotta love a man who dresses up Willy Wonka style to prevent bringing the insulation fibers into the house. Thanks, babe.

 

I realize that trusting God in the timing of a tiny house build is a small act of faith compared to what you might be facing today. If so, I welcome the opportunity to pray for you. Simply leave your request in the comment section below (so others can also pray for you), or feel free to email me confidentially using the envelope icon on the home page.

Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day with me⏤it’s an honor.

 

  • Did you miss last month’s Tiny House Tuesday // A Tale of Two Gothic Windows? Check it out here.
  • Subscribers! Don’t forget to print out your spring/scripture inspired tags created just for you. It’s included in the March Monthly Letter from the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

The First Hard Conversation + Autographed Giveaway by Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld

No one goes around looking to strike up a hard conversation.

And yet, I’m not sure we can expect to walk fully in light of the gospel without a willingness to do it. Thankfully, people like Lori Roeleveld are able to take not-so-comfortable conversations and break them into hearty, but bite-sized morsels.

For almost a decade, I’ve watched Lori’s life beautifully reflect her zeal for God and His Word. She’s the real deal and I’m honored to have her guest post today. In typical Lori fashion, she went above and beyond by offering an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations to one blessed recipient. For now, be blessed as you read directly from Lori’s heart because that’s the kind of writer she is.

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If you’re anything like me, my prayer preparation for any conversation that I anticipate may be challenging or uncomfortable used to sound like this. “Please make this go away. Don’t make me be the one to discuss this. Please send someone else.” (Total transparency – sometimes they still sound like that.)

I comforted myself in that it sounded a lot like Moses, but really it was my “turtle” self, longing to escape my responsibility to speak truth, share my faith, encourage a struggling believer, or resolve a conflict.

 

Through years of engaging in all manner of hard conversations, I’ve learned that most effective ones begin with showing up for a “hard conversation” with God.

 

This is where I pour my heart out to Him in prayer about the situation first. I read relevant passages of Scripture and sit quietly while He helps me sort through my feelings, the facts, His truth, and my love for the other person in order to inform my approach, timing, and words.

There are many, many times when this time of prayer is the end of the matter. This is usually when I’ve taken some offense or harbor self-righteous anger about a situation. As I confess emotions that aren’t based in His Word and read what Scripture has to say about my words, I often realize that the log in my own eye is most of the problem.

 

Other times, this period of prayer highlights a lack of love on my part.

 

Love lapses are responsible for much of our lack of evangelism, internal church conflict, even family struggles. Too often, I try to operate solely from a foundation of my own human affection. God prods me, always, to rely on His perfect love to infuse me and inform my relationships with others, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This gets worked out in this time of prayer.

Always, this time of prayer reduces my fear and reminds me of God’s presence with me and His desire to include me in His work. That’s exciting! Hard conversations may begin as a painful exercise, but often, they are the vehicles of transformation and breakthrough God desires and how blessed are we to be witness to that!

When I feel there may be a hard conversation in my future with another person, I pray for God to give me His heart for that person and let me see them through His eyes. I pray for their heart to be fertile soil and for God to go before my words to prepare the way. I pray for the right opportunity and timing to appear with clarity and favor. And, I ask God to remove any barriers in me and in the other person that may interfere with communication and with God’s Work in our hearts.

 

Preparatory prayer is as vital for hard conversations as it is at the beginning of any worthy endeavor.

 

If you anticipate a challenging chat – being open with someone about your faith or biblically-informed belief, confronting sin, working through a conflict, or sharing tough news – commit to daily prayer leading up to your tough talk.

 

Show up with God unguarded.

 

Read the Psalms and see how David exposed his messy heart to God in prayer. Doing this with friends is unproductive and sometimes sinful. Doing it with God is life-altering. Admit your anger, envy, self-righteousness, fear, or even your lack of faith that the conversation will make any difference. Receive His forgiveness and correction, knowing we all must keep growing until we are home with Him.

Keep the Word of God open before you and read several passages that pertain to the topic of your conversation or about what God expects of our words (such as James 1:19-25 or James 4:13-18). Confess thoughts or emotions that are not in line with God’s expectations for believers. Then pray those Scriptures for the person with whom you hope to speak.

 

Ask for God’s wisdom and then believe He’ll provide it.

 

Ask for Him to clearly provide an opportunity to speak and then, watch for it. Be persistent in prayer and see what God will do when you take the risk of engaging in an uncomfortable conversation to speak His truth into someone’s life.

Too often, I think everything there is to know about a situation is what I can see. Prayer reminds me there is an entire dimension – the spiritual realm – that is at work. It’s strengthening, encouraging, and informing when I connect with that dimension in prayer before I engage in conversation – hard or otherwise.

Do you want your next hard conversation to be effective? Show up for the first hard conversation by praying and inviting God into a tough talk with you. Then, watch how the adventure unfolds.

Lori RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

 

 

To enter for an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations, simply leave a comment below. A winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, March 3rd. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day in the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

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