Ways to Celebrate Togetherness While Separated This Holiday Season

Holiday Together

It will be a different holiday season. On that, we can agree.

No need to run down all the reasons why. We’re very much aware of each one, but Thanksgiving and Christmas will come nonetheless.

Neither set of my parents, nor my aunt and uncle, will gather around our farm table this Thanksgiving. Who will crack the corny jokes, or whip up the family dressing, or clap for the grandkids when they perform from the top step?

As we navigate the holiday seasons of 2020 together, maybe one of the following ideas can ease the disappointment and help make way for gratitude.

 

7 Ideas for Cultivating a Spirit of Togetherness This Holiday Season

 

  • Choose joy. Lately, we’ve been talking to our grandkids about the half-full or half-empty scenario. Now I need to talk to myself. Yes, the holiday season will likely look and feel different. But, who will be around our table? Will it be a spouse, sons and daughters, a pup or cat that feels like family, or the warm presence of the Lord? We can choose joy over disappointment.

 

 

  • Do those missing from your dinner table live nearby? Fill up plates with turkey and all the fixins’. Don’t skimp on the pie! Deliver with a smile and a holiday-sized air hug.

 

  • Plan a Facetime or Zoom session ahead of time. It will give everyone something to look forward to.

 

  • Donate. Give the money usually spent on additional groceries to feed those in need of a hot meal that day. (Bonus: Donate it in honor of those missing from your holiday table.)

 

  • Create a table runner. Ask children and/or grandchildren to draw pictures and write positive messages on a Kraft paper table runner, as seen here at Hobby Lobby. Drop it in the mail by November 19th, or drop it by their home. Loved ones will surely feel your presence as they enjoy their meals.

 

  • Create a “Why We Love You Jar”. Much like the “Gratitude Jar” recently shared in our Facebook Group, “Creative Pauses”, simply write the different reasons why you love a person (or couple) on slips of paper. Cut, place in a jar, and add directions asking her to choose one slip to read aloud each day beginning on Thanksgiving, and ending Christmas morning. Is there a better gift than knowing we are loved? (If your loved one lives out of town, mail the slips only.)

 

Will there be empty chairs around your holiday table this year? How will you choose to cultivate a spirit of joy and togetherness despite the disappointment?

 

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Family Advent Calendar 2020

 

Thank you for stopping by Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill!

Bi-weekly posts invite you to come in from the craziness of life, take a seat, and pause awhile, allowing your soul to be refreshed with God’s truth and promises.

Each month, subscribers of this community receive a letter from The Tiny House on the Hill that includes:

  • Practical but meaningful ways to draw closer to God
  • Creative ways to show God’s love to your family, friends, and strangers
  • The latest happenings at the house, my books, and ministry
  • What I’m reading in the Book Nook
  • A favorite (often family) recipe
  • A FUN giveaway…and more!

It’s pithy but packed with grace-filled goodness.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

25 Ideas for Your Fall Bucket List + Coloring Sheets!

 

If there’s a season to fill our want-to bucket, it’s Fall, right?

Fall pinches every sensory to our delight⏤what we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste! So grab that bucket and fill it up with one or all of these ideas for you, your family, and friends!

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.” Humbert Wolfe

 

Enjoy!

  1. Binge on Hallmark Fall Harvest Movies showing every weekend and some weeknights. (Click here for the movie guide.)
  2. Wait! Did I lose you at #1? Try this instead: Pack for a day trip. Find every back road possible, roll down the windows, (take your Benadryl), stick your arm out, and “ride” the waves of wind. See where the roads take you!
  3. Hike in your nearest National Park.
  4. Invite friends to pack picnics and join you at the park. It’s the perfect way to practice social distancing while munching on yummy food and laughing with friends.
  5. Get a family picture made.
  6. Go to the pumpkin patch and fetch a few pumpkins for you and a neighbor. This year has been one of distance, so simple acts of cheer mean more than ever.
  7. Invite a friend over to bake these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins. Divvy ’em up and both families will have a yummy treat to enjoy.
  8. Purchase bags of individually wrapped candy and donate them to local churches who are holding fall festivals.
  9. Start a new book. It’s the perfect weather to curl up, which leads to…
  10. Try a harvest-flavored tea! Grab the book, slip under a chunky blanket, and pour a cup of tea. Wait. Is that an “ahhhh!” I hear? Scoot over, I’m in!
  11. Throw a “BYOM” (Bring Your Own Mug – filled with your favorite tea, coffee, or cocoa!) gathering with friends in your backyard.
  12. Visit a working farm.
  13. Bake fresh apple turnovers! Here’s an easy recipe.
  14. Host a bonfire. #bringyourownsmores
  15. Stargaze. Bundle up, pour cups of cocoa for the kids, and head outside. If you’re not sure what to look for, this might help.
  16. Enjoy a craft day with the kids. Fall crafts + a meaningful message can be found over at Meaningful Mama.
  17. Collect larger, whole leaves. Write the name of one person you would like to pray for on a leaf. Place a candle in the middle of your dining table and surround it with your “prayer leaves.” Light the candle before dinner (representing the Light of the World – John 8:12), choose a leaf, and pray for a different person each night.
  18. Feed the birds. Lots of easy and fun ideas can be found @ The Homeschool Scientist.
  19. Find a Fall Prayer Partner. I’ll blog more about this in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, find a partner, set guidelines (how often to touch base), and share simple ways to pray for one another.
  20. Go camping or glamping! Even if it’s in your own backyard.
  21. Purchase canned goods and deliver them to your local food bank as a family.
  22. Play “The Monster Mash” and dance like Frank.
  23. Change to flannel sheets.
  24. Read a different section of Psalm 119 every night. Tammy Mashburn of Redefining the Wilderness, is taking readers through a journey of this Psalm.
  25. Encourage-a-person-a-day through Thanksgiving. Handwritten notes, sweet treats, scripture, praise music, a book, written prayers, voiced prayers, and yellow mums on a front stoop. Just some ideas to get those creative juices flowing!

Click here to download a printable version.

With the definition of “normal” being challenged this year, it’s comforting to know that some things never change.

So, is there a favorite idea you’d like to toss in your bucket first? (Or add your own!)

 

DON’T FORGET YOUR COLORING SHEETS!

 

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Thank you for stopping by Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill!

Bi-weekly posts invite you to come in from the craziness of life, take a seat, and pause awhile, allowing your soul to be refreshed with God’s truth and promises.

Each month, subscribers of this community receive a letter from The Tiny House on the Hill that includes:

  • Practical but meaningful ways to draw closer to God
  • Creative ways to show God’s love to your family, friends, and strangers
  • The latest happenings at the house, my books, and ministry
  • What I’m reading in the Book Nook
  • A favorite (often family) recipe
  • A FUN giveaway…and more!

It’s pithy but packed with grace-filled goodness.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

 

 

Photo by Unsplash

Coming Full Circle: The Story Behind the Instagram Picture

There’s always a story behind the scenes, right?

This story begins in the sixties when Ma-Ma (my paternal grandmother) coaxed me into her big ol’ car with the promise of a fudge sickle when we returned. She knew my love language was sugar.

Within minutes, we arrived at a worn, brick nursing home.

 

The floors were beige linoleum squares with bright specks and the walls were lined with wheelchairs, holding people who longed to be held.

 

With one folded arm, Ma-Ma held her purse that snapped taut on top, and with the other, she held my hand along with a bag of hard candy. Although we were there to visit one of Ma-Ma’s friends, she handed out peppermints to everyone, covering their hands with her nubby knotted fingers, ravaged by arthritis.

Driving home, Ma-Ma talked about how much our visit meant to her friend. The long goodbyes and multiple hugs made that obvious even to an eight-year-old little girl. I wish I could say that over time I joyfully lept into her Oldsmobile without a fudgy coaxing, but it felt like drudgery… until the ride home.

 

Twenty years later…

 

I had two little boys of my own. Below our church sat a small brick assisted living center. I’d not visited one since those days with Ma-Ma but I was drawn to it like an eight-year-old to a fudge sickle. The first morning I visited, the stench of soiled sheets was so strong I could barely catch a clean breath. But then I saw a familiar sight⏤wheelchairs lined along a cement block wall, filled with people who smell it every day, all day. I could smell fresh air later.

Over the next eight years, I smuggled in 2-liter Dr. Peppers, fig bars, cards, postage stamps, and hard candy.

On some weekends, our whole family visited. Brian played the guitar, I shared a devotion, and Brandon, still in elementary school, dressed up like a clown and juggled for the crowd. Zach, the youngest son, was petted and passed around like a cute puppy. After our visits, we’d head to TCBY, the modern-day fudge sickle, and I repeated Ma-Ma’s words with a smile. You have no idea how happy you made them today.

 

Twenty years later…

 

The boys have children of their own. They, along with their wives and children, serve the Lord faithfully (all glory to God). Zach’s family lives twenty minutes from us, and Brandon’s is in Ohio. Before the pandemic struck, Zach’s small group at our church, including the kids, began visiting the residents of a local assisted living center.

 

Two Weeks Ago…

 

While driving the two older grandchildren home, we talked about pulling out my rubber stamps and making cards. Six-year-old Gabe asked if we could make cards for those “older people who all live in that one house together,” perfectly describing the residents at the local assisted living center. Smiles stretched across both of their faces and plans were soon underway. I upped my insurance policy and began digging through the closet to find craft supplies from long ago.

 

Last Weekend…

 

Before we started stamping, we talked about how a lot of people assume older folks know Jesus, and how it’s not true. So each card includes a scripture verse or a written reminder of God’s love. That night, before bedtime, we prayed for the people who will receive the cards.

I couldn’t help but wonder if Ma-Ma was peeking down from above with a smile as she witnessed her kindness toward an often forgotten generation coming full circle.

We celebrated the completion of our twenty cards with the first batch of homemade ice cream in our new maker. After all, some things never change.

 

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Thank you for stopping by Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill!

Bi-weekly posts invite you to come in from the craziness of life, take a seat, and pause awhile, allowing your soul to be refreshed with God’s truth and promises.

Each month, I send subscribers of this community a letter from The Tiny House on the Hill that includes:

  • Practical but meaningful ways to draw closer to God
  • Creative ways to show God’s love to your family, friends, and strangers
  • The latest happenings at the house, my books, and ministry
  • What I’m reading in the Book Nook
  • A favorite (often family) recipe
  • A FUN giveaway…and more!

It’s pithy but packed with grace-filled goodness.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

Ready to Create A Travel (with God) Journal?

If you’re ready to start your own travel journal, buckle up sister!

I’ve kept many types of journals over the years — prayer, gratitude, health, etc. — but when I cracked open my first “Travel Journal” in January, life changed.

I first read about a travel journal in Allen Arnold’s The Story of With, a book mentioned in a past post, Three Books I’m Reading This Winter.

It reads:

“Those brave enough to carry a travel journal for their adventures with God reveal hearts of expectancy. There is such freedom when you live in this posture of expectancy while letting go of all your expectations. There’s no demand on how the Story of your life will go. Relinquish the script you’ve been holding so tight and replace it with an expectancy for all God desires. Not just for you but that He wants to do with you. The journal reminds you of the adventure you are on with God.”

 

What could happen if I created a designated spot to record so-called “random” ideas and sparks of God’s truths?

 

Well, let me tell you.

 

Your spiritual eyes do more than see. They quicken with insight and wonder.

 

It’s why my little leather journal stays with my Bible at all times. Observations leap from the paper-thin page onto the cream-colored thicker ones. Most times, I jot them down immediately. Later, I’ll ask God to show me how or where they could be applied. Some get straight to work, while others take their own sweet time.

 

Your spiritual ears⏤those that God transforms from hearing to listening⏤awaken.

 

For instance, while watching a movie several weeks ago, the father of the main character, a violinist, noted a specific issue in her playing. She may have fallen for the idea that she was simply reading from a script but in reality, God answered a question I’d jotted down weeks ago.

 

Becoming intentional is a simple gesture of faith — engaging this belief that the Spirit of Truth peels back the obvious to reveal a deeper reality if we’re willing to show up.

 

In a greater sense, I think of Mary visiting Jesus’ tomb that early morning. She came with spices expecting the obvious — a body in the beginning stages of decay. But what she found was a large stone rolled away, an empty tomb, and two men in dazzling white clothes asking why do you seek the living One among the dead? She showed up because of her love for Jesus and was blessed by experiencing a glorious new reality.

This same living One lives in us, with us, and us with Him. Are you ready to join the adventure?

 

Tips for Creating Your Travel Journal

 

  • Pick a journal without lines. Being a visual person, I sometimes draw out an idea that’s forming and I have a feeling I’m not alone, so avoiding lines is a plus. Also, no boundaries on a page remind me that all things are possible with God.

 

  • Keep a designated pen nearby. So far, I’ve used only my go-to Pilot Precise V-5 in black for the entire journal, but whatever you choose, keep it handy because as the Chinese Proverb reminds us the faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.

 

Creating a travel journal has deepened my relationship with the Lord so how could I not offer someone else a head start in creating their own?

Share a favorite place to travel and consider yourself entered into the random giveaway for this genuine leather journal!

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I hope you’ll decide to stay awhile. If you’d like to become a part of the community, simply type your e-address in the top right-hand sidebar. >>>>

Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy days. And once a month, you’ll also receive a fun but pithy newsletter with the latest happenings in the Tiny House on the Hill, along with practical ideas for drawing nearer to God and loving others well.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

 

Image by Dirk Vetter from Pixabay

While You Wait Outside Hospital Doors for a Loved One

It’s a helpless feeling, isn’t it?

Leaving loved ones on the stoop of hospital doors, entrusting healthcare workers to fill in the gaps we want to fill but can’t.

Lives lost, dream weddings postponed, jobs eliminated, and the inability to enter health facilities with loved ones being admitted, are just some of the situations we find ourselves in these days.

Several weeks ago, my stepmom took dad to the ER for a high fever. Saying goodbye at the stiffly guarded steel doors only to return alone to her car and wait was one of her hardest moments.

 

“The worst part of life is waiting. The best part of life is having someone worth the wait.”

 

When Jessica Brumley penned these words, she wasn’t referring to the same kind of wait, but the words still ring true, don’t they?

Choosing to see blessings beyond our circumstances is an act of faith.

Recently, I started creating sensory-based pauses (mini-devotions) for my subscribers to enjoy while in specific spaces. One month is it was the garden. Last month, a picnic. For each of the five senses, I offered a simple prompt to help push the pause button and focus on the goodness of God that stretches far beyond a steering wheel.

 

The simple act of focusing on God turns an upside-down world right-side up.

 

Today, “A Pause While You Wait” (including an inspirational page to color) is my gift to you. Feel free to share this post with your circle of friends because sometimes we don’t know we’ll need it until we do.

 

“You will keep the mind that is dependent upon you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 

To download your copy of A Pause While You Wait, simply click here. The coloring page is included.

 

 

 

 

Is there some way I can pray for you today?

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I hope you’ll decide to stay awhile. If you’d like to become a part of the community, simply type your e-address in the righthand sidebar. >>>>

Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy days, and once a month, you’ll also receive a fun but pithy newsletter with the latest happenings in the Tiny House on the Hill, practical ideas for drawing nearer to God and loving others well.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

© Can Stock Photo / scottshoots

Ten Ways to Show-Up for Others this Summer!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

Because that’s what we do, right?

As our nation slowly unfolds into a new normality, we’re all navigating what it means to go to church, to gather with friends, and to eat out {thanks to Chick-fil-A, I conquered this one early on.} But here’s one truth we know:

 

We can help others draw closer to Christ from behind our doors or in person. That’s the beauty of the show-up.

 

Every season offers unique opportunities to share the gospel. With daylight stretching long into the night, open pools of water, and enough iced tea to serve the south, summer is definitely no exception. And aren’t we blessed? Regardless of where we find ourselves during these trying times, we can joyfully love and serve in small but meaningful ways.

 

God specializes in multiplying our meager offerings for glory’s gain.

 

A poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” Mark 12:42, 43

 

A couple of years ago, I created Ten Ways to Show Up for Others This Summer, an exclusive download for the {a-mazing!} subscribers of this community. And now it’s available here. So put your own God-given creative spin on these ideas and let’s redeem the days of summer! Some ideas have been tweaked in light of our nation’s current situation but there’s enough space for us all, masked and unmasked.

What’s your favorite part of summer? Is there a particular way you minister during this season? Do share!

 

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We’d love for you to join our Creative Pauses community! Simply type your e-address in the righthand sidebar. >>>> (You can unsubscribe at any time.) Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy days. And once a month, you’ll also receive a newsletter chock-full of the latest happenings in the Tiny House on the Hill. It includes ideas for drawing near to God and how to love others well. So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

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