The Moment Before and After You Hear the Word Cancer

“I have a little news to share.”

I knew dad was taking medicine for a recent issue but it turned out the medicine was no match for the mass occupying most of his bladder.

With the biopsy looming two weeks later, I protected my thoughts like a mama bear, refusing to allow “what if’s” to sink in and do their damage.


There’s a comforting thread of normalcy that hangs in the air between the moments of not knowing and knowing.


Two weeks following the procedure, the phone rang. The cancer was aggressive, possibly penetrating the nearby muscle. It would be another two-week wait before learning the biopsy results, answering the dreaded question about the lymph nodes.


“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.”  – Charles Spurgeon


There’s nothing fun about waiting, especially when it concerns someone you love. But it does give the heart and mind time to meld together, strengthening the muscles that bow to God’s sovereignty.

On October 11th, we learned cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes. Let’s just say my happy dance learned a few more moves and this daughter couldn’t be more thankful. He still has a ways to go with the removal of his bladder scheduled in November but it’s the first major step toward healing. (We found out yesterday that his surgery is today!)

In the weeks that have passed since dad’s initial phone call announcing “a little news” I would be lying if I didn’t confess the desire to cling to the comforting thread of normalcy where my only waiting time involves a Keurig.


How lovely is the mundane, the normalcy of our days.

But they are to be treasured, not idolized.


It’s a hard lesson I didn’t even know I needed to learn.



Watch for the final two posts of 2019 coming up Tuesday, November 12th (Tiny House Tuesday) and Tuesday, November 19th.

Tiny House Tuesday will unveil the NEW front door color! (Yep, the chartreuse is gone and I can’t wait for you to see it on the 12th).  If you’re a part of our *tiny* kindred community you’ll find the first snapshot of the new door color in today’s Monthly Letter.

For the 19th, in addition to the post, I’ll share a special download for Christmas, KEEPING CHRISTMAS.

Depending on how things go with dad, I plan to share pictures of a decorated tiny house in December, and if you’re a subscriber, watch for your personal tour via video!

A lot of exciting things are happening up on the hill. Thank you for your prayers and for simply being here.

You are a blessing.



Image source by Pixabay.

Tiny House Tuesday // Steps, Shiplap, and A Hidden Bookcase, Oh My!

Tiny House Tuesday


Do you see it?

Squinting may be required but the end of our building journey is in sight. Somebody pinch me.


Brian continues to work tirelessly to finish the tiny house because he loves me, but also because he believes God has His own plans for glory through the writing, shared community, and joy that will take place within this 144 square foot space.



WordPress experienced a hiccup when the last Tiny House Tuesday posted, so if you missed When Two Littles Love a Little Loft, you can catch it here. In it are pictures of the reading nook/loft area in all of its skeletal beauty…that is, until now.

Since that post, Brian built steep narrow steps that lead to the loft seen above. Because the loft floor is the reading nook’s ceiling, both measure the size of a regular twin mattress, but the pitched roof creates a roomier feel. Can all six grandkids fit up here? Yep, as long as they like to cuddle, and I happen to know that’s one of their superpowers. A fluffy rug is ready to roll once the floor is painted.



As you can see, Brian has done quite a bit since last month. The nook’s exterior wall is drywalled and we’re currently installing shiplap to the interior, with a slick coat of seafoam green to soon follow.

Look up and you’ll spot an unassuming piece of plywood attached to the loft wall. But its purpose is mighty! It will hold our split unit, providing cool air in our sweltering summer months, and heat when fall folds into winter.

The second Gothic window was set to go in the split unit’s space but we soon realized the unit had only two choices of where it could it go, the loft or over the antique mantle. Need I say more? I miss not having the second window in the back but it’s just one of many ways I’m learning to be flexible along this journey.


The view from inside the reading nook facing the steps.


And then there are tiny moments like this that offer pure delight.

The space beneath the stairs caught my eye and all kinds of creative crazy ideas began to bubble to the surface. Perhaps it could be a drop-box for the kids to crawl in and under, or the top step could latch, creating a place to drop my broom and other necessities. The list goes on, but a hidden bookcase was the clear winner. I mean, what good is a reading nook without a place to store our favorite books?

And finally, if you missed the picture of the tiny house being lit up for the first time in its 1+ year journey, check it out on Instagram. It’s something to behold, trust me. When we purchased the Gothic window, an aged opaque diamond-patterned adhesive covered the glass. We went back and forth trying to decide whether to leave it as is or scrape it off. In the end, we chose to leave it. The long-awaited image of softened light beaming through the old church window at night is now a reality.


Thank you for joining me on this journey. It will not end once the building is complete. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Instead of building projects, we’ll share what God is doing inside the studio, and ways you can join in the fun.

If you’ve not yet subscribed to The Tiny House on the Hill, now’s a great time to become a part of our community! You’ll receive a “Spot God Everyday” calendar, plus bonus information and bi-monthly posts sent directly to your inbox. Simply type your email address in the sidebar’s top section under “Join Our {tiny} Community.” It’s that easy.

For those who’ve been on this journey a while, I’d love to know your favorite project so far. If you’re just joining, which of the above projects — the steps, the loft, the nook, or the hidden bookcase — do you like the most?

Thanks for stopping by and taking a minute to share. You’re the best! 🙂


An Introvert’s Journey Toward Biblical Community + Starbucks Giveaway!

Because surely biblical community and coffee go hand-in-hand.

For instance, remember the eavesdropping that took place in a North Carolina cafe last October? (If not, you can read about it here.) My being tucked away in a dark corner of a coffee shop isn’t unusual, but my willingness to interrupt the conversation of two young women I’d never met? Highly unlikely.

If you know me or have followed my writing for two minutes, you know I’m an introvert to the core. I love people but quickly crumble inside without ample space to breathe. Tapping keys, not stranger’s shoulders, is more my style.


But God.


Two words that weigh as heavy as the world He came to save.


Who needs Once Upon a Time when But God starts the story of every believer?

My story began three decades ago, but God used two young strangers as a catalyst to reboot my sluggish spirit.

“God wired us for biblical community. Yes, even us introverts. Since moving to the country, I’ve sensed a tug to be involved with women at a nearby campus. I don’t know one woman yet, but God does and I look forward to seeing what He will do. Want to join me in praying for God’s lead on that particular adventure? (I’d love to pray for yours too!))” – from my post, The Day Eavesdropping Inspired This Titus 2 Woman to Tears

I touch on the answer to this prayer in a follow-up post, The Night This Titus 2 Woman Hosted a Tea Party. Biblical community involves more than simply gathering together, but spending time with our small group women, getting to know them, and allowing them to get to know me feels like a healthy first step for this late-blooming introvert.

In fact, after I type this post, the list-making begins in preparation for our church’s women’s retreat this weekend. And this might be a good time to define the word journey, as used in the title of this post.

Journey: a passage or progress from one stage to another (

Staying home, drinking coffee from my afternoon mug (yes, that exists), writing, playing with my grandkids, organizing organizational books currently stuffed in a cluttered closet⏤these are comfortable places for me. Traveling, sharing a room with even the best of choices (and she is!), being with truly wonderful people 24/7, and all that goes with this is not comfortable for me.


But God is doing a new thing, I perceive it.


He is making a way through my comfort zone, providing refreshment in a place that’s long felt deserted.


I have a long way to go on this journey with much to learn, but God is helping me progress from one stage to another. He’s not asking me to become someone I’m not. Instead, He’s empowering me to become someone I could not possibly be without Him.

Yes, the enemy whispers there’s too big of an age gap for connections to be made this weekend, but a young woman once told me that Titus 2 women are needed — and we Titus 2 women need them too. So I prepare with an excitement that’s surely not natural.

And to think it all began in the corner of a crowded, dimly-lit coffee shop.

“Practice of true community involves responsibilities and actions that do not come naturally to us.” – Jerry Bridges, True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia


In keeping with the definition of a journey, where would you say you are in relation to pursuing biblical community?

a. sipping lavender lattes in the cafe corner? (pre-clueful)

b. receiving words from strangers that could be a “direct message” from God? (open to receiving)

c. feeling oddly awkward that God might be up to something you didn’t expect? (contemplating)

d. taking steps to put yourself in the path of biblical community? (still clueless but desiring to become more like Christ to the point of obedience?)

e. signing up for a women’s retreat or other gatherings that are not normal for you? (becoming a comfort-zone crusher!)

f. fully integrated into biblical community (refusing to allow natural tendencies to overrule God’s supernatural power, putting the gospel on display in beautiful and unexpected ways.)

I’d love to know! Share in the comment section and you might just win your own eavesdropping session at Starbucks. {Told you I had a long way to go!}


Thanks for stopping by the Tiny House on the Hill. If you’d like to receive my bi-monthly posts, plus Tiny House Tuesday, where you can spot the latest photos and updates, subscribe in the sidebar. As a small token of my appreciation for your support of this ministry, you’ll receive three fall calendars with daily prompts to watch for God’s goodness, perhaps in ways you may not expect.

Tiny House Tuesday // When Two Littles Love a Little Loft

Tiny House Tuesday

The littles love their tiny loft, and maybe the reading nook too.

When Sarah, my daughter-in-law, created these signs last summer I never imagined it would be over a year before two of our six grandchildren had a place to hold them up. Though the nook and loft are not completely finished, the end is finally in sight and as happy as I am, Brian is even happier.


The Reading Nook


Tiny House Reading Nook


Initially, I planned for the reading nook to be the size of a full mattress and closed off, in hopes of giving it a quiet, cozy feel. It didn’t take long, however, to realize that the eight-foot-long window/desk would barely squeeze into the remaining space so we switched the size to a twin. I was disappointed, but the tiny house was created mainly for writing, so I begrudgingly agreed with reality and here we are.

As I played with the idea of closing off this tiny twin nook, I came across a picture in Cottage Living that reminded me of the second-story sleeping porch in Thomas Wolfe’s home, located in Asheville, NC. Its surrounding walls, consisting mainly of windows, make for an airy, bright, and downright dreamy space.

So we decided to make an interior “window” that matched the other three inside the nook. Now, natural light shines through, lending an open feel to the entire tiny house. It may not feel quite as cozy but I figure the stack of vintage chenille spreads, fluffy back pillows, and a copy of Look Homeward, Angel in the corner will help readers feel right at home.



The Littles’ Loft

As an eight-year-old, I dreamed of creating a tiny space in my grandparent’s attic. It was a hidden world above their single-storied home, accessed only by a string that dangled from the door on the ceiling.

The rectangular-shaped attic was bookended by windows. On one side, an iron rod holding vintage dresses coffined in garment bags stretched for what seemed like miles. Brightly colored polyester pieces peeked out from their plastic as if to beg for attention.

On the other side, boxes housed Christmas for eleven months of the year. Grandmother and Granddaddy focused on family instead of fanfare, reflected in the content of the containers that held their decorations, and my memories.

Like the attic in their home, our littles’ loft in the tiny house will be accessible by narrow slats of wood that climb twice as high as their heads. Strategically placed bars across the front, a couple of bean bags, and a comfy throw rug will offer a nice spot to read, play games, or hide Hatchables.


Tiny House Play Loft


While their tiny “hidden world above” won’t hold vintage dresses or Christmas storage, it will hold the potential to create memories they’ll not soon forget.

Yes, the loft and reading nook are tiny, but if my grandparents’ pocket-sized home taught me anything, it’s that the size of a home doesn’t determine the amount of love it can hold.


So, I’d love to know… what book would you bring to read in the tiny reading nook?


Because gratitude begins when we take notice.

Download your fall calendars today! They include a daily gratitude prompt {that you might not expect!} and they’re perfect for the fridge, your bedside table, or near your coffee pot, where you’re sure to see it every morning.

It’s one small but meaningful way of showing my gratitude for your desire to be a part of this *tiny* community. Simply type your email address in the “Come On In” section at the top of the sidebar box and you’ll receive my monthly letter from the Tiny House on the Hill, a couple of posts each month, and access to this gift as well as all past gifts. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you for stopping by today!

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)




On Tiny Houses and Writing Books // Guest Post by Kim Harms & Giveaway!


I remember the first time I “met” Kim Harms.

I’d read her posts on Inspire a Fire and was an instant fan. So when she left a comment on one of my Inspire posts, I was tickled pink, and truly touched. Her words came at a crucial point in my writing life. Kim didn’t know this, but God did. Over the years, our friendship has grown, as has my respect.

Welcome to the Tiny House on the Hill.

By: Kim Harms

I had two years of elementary education classes behind me the first time I stepped foot in an actual elementary classroom with real children. It took me all of 30 seconds to realize that teaching kids was not for me.

Seeking direction, I took an aptitude and interest survey at a local business college. When a school counselor sat down with me to go over the results, she said these words. “I have never said this to anyone who’s taken this survey before, but you don’t belong at our school.”


A Turning Point


Those words were a turning point in my life. Knowing that I wasn’t suited for teaching or for business, I took some time to consider what I was passionate about.

Words. Words are my passion. I read three books at a time, and I have boxes of journals dating back to fourth grade. I wrote for my high school newspaper. I was on the yearbook staff. My first poem was published when I was fourteen. But I had never before considered trying to turn my passion into a career. Until now.

I stayed at ISU and changed my major to English: Literary Studies (basically a creative writing degree) and I started taking journalism classes as well. I loved it. I found the little corner of the world that I was made for. I allowed myself to dream about writing for newspapers and magazines. And someday, the dream of all dreams, maybe I’d even write a book.

I did become a newspaper reporter, and I found some success writing for magazines too, but the book thing was elusive for a long time. I didn’t try to push it. I didn’t even know what I would write a book about, but the dream always remained.


Praying for Direction


In 2015, I started praying that God would give me a clear direction for my writing, whether that was as a reporter or an author or both. For a whole year, I prayed.


And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.


Prayers for direction ceased as I started praying for my life. Lord, will I live to see my boys graduate? Who will find all the missing earbuds if I’m gone? Who will scratch the boy’s backs at bedtime? Who will make cookie dough for family movie night? A barrage of heavy thoughts weighed me down at first, but I made it to the other side cancer-free.

I had both of my breasts removed and walked the bizarre world of breast reconstruction. I dealt with the physical, emotional and psychological toll that it all took on me.


It was a very very hard thing, but God never promised me a life of ease.


I also found that direction I’d been praying for. I recently signed a contract with Familius Publishing for my first book, tentatively titled Life Reconstructed: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Mastectomies and Breast Reconstruction. A book that wouldn’t have happened without a cancer detour.


The Gift of a Tiny House


And that brings me to my tiny house.

One year to the day after receiving a cancer diagnosis, God gave me the keys to an amazing (albeit, seriously in the need of updating) house on 1.5 wooded acres smack-dab in the middle of our little town. (You can read that story here).


I’d have been content with the woods and the house, but it came with a bonus.


A tiny cabin nestled in the trees by a ravine. The interior was unfinished, and I figured it would probably stay that way for a long while. But my hubby loves me so much that he made it one of our first projects. In his free time, he insulated it, added a propane heater, installed flooring, and paneled the walls. And I adore it because tiny houses are just the cutest thing. But I adore it even more because Corey finished it for me specifically so I would have a quiet writing space.

Prior to the cabin, I didn’t have a dedicated place to write. My book proposal came together at my kitchen table, on my couch, and at a booth in Panera. Those places are okay, and sometimes I still head to Panera because their cranberry orange muffins are amazing. But this cabin? Wow.

Kim's Tiny House


Right now, I’m sitting at a little table surrounded by trees and a meandering creek. It’s a gift. An amazingly wonderful gift. I don’t deserve it. I did nothing to earn it. God in his loving-kindness blessed my family with a property that includes a tiny cabin. And my hubby, in his loving-kindness blessed me by transforming it into a writing retreat.


God is good. And he gave me a good man.


I have a lot of writing to get done at this little table. My first draft is due in January. It’s equally exhilarating and terrifying to think of all that needs to happen to get this book from my brain to someone’s nightstand. But when I’m overwhelmed by this monster task, all I have to do is look out my tiny house window to be reminded of the God who loves to provide for his children and the husband who believes in me more than I believe in myself.


Kim’s Gift to You!

A beautiful journal and bookmark. Thank you for loving on our *tiny* community, Kim.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment sharing where you most enjoy reading and/or writing!



Kim Harms is a writer and speaker currently under contract with Familius Publishing for her first book, tentatively titled Life Reconstructed: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction. Harms has a degree in English: Literary Studies from Iowa State University and has written for a variety of publications including Today’s Christian Woman, CT Women, Creation Illustrated and Guideposts. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and writes about her Life Reconstructed at She can also be found on Instagram @kimharmslifereconstructed and on Facebook. Central Iowa is home, and she lives there with her husband Corey and their three ever-growing man-children.


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