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 sharing practical ways to draw nearer to God and love others well. The latest happenings in the Tiny House on the Hill, along with practical ideas on 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!

One Simple Way to Engage with Scripture (& A Color-Me Download!)

Photo by Rachel Lynette French on Unsplash

 

Reading Scripture is valuable. Engaging Scripture changes a person.

I know because it changed me. A babe in Christ at the age of twenty-seven, I only knew the basic Bible stories: Jesus on the cross, Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, and The Ten Commandments, thanks to Charlton Heston.

Granted, those basic stories are some of the most beautiful, but God used Precept Ministries and Kay Chandler, the local {and amazing!} instructor, to show me how to engage Scripture for myself.

What I’m sharing today isn’t a Precept method. It’s simply an exercise I stumbled upon while singing “Blessed Assurance” in church. Words describing my own story stood up when I sat down to put pen to paper. This moment is recorded in my post, This is My Story. What’s Yours?

 

Psalm 139:23, 24 became my Blessed Assurance.

 

Two verses begin most of my mornings:

“Search me, O 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.” Psalm 139:23, 24

 

My searchlight is poorly lit, powered by emotions, a selfish heart, and limited vision.

 

So I pull out my archaic sheet of paper, grab my go-to pen, and write out these two verses in sections. Under each one, I quickly jot down words and phrases that come to mind. There’s no right or wrong way:

 

Search me, O God

as a shepherd searches for a lost sheep, search my heart // penetrate my soul with Your piercing light // in every crevice that seeks to hide my sin // for every particle of pride // for slivers of selfishness // for bits of bitterness waiting to take root in my unsuspecting heart // for sin in every form⏤search me, Father // I want to know what You see // to repent // to turn away // to walk in the freedom You’ve provided.

 

and know my heart

the one that sin soiled // and Jesus cleansed // Knower of my heart // the good // the sinful // the well-meaning but often misunderstood // You created me // You formed me // You know me better than I know myself // I trust Your findings // comfort // peace // joy // confession //

 

test me and know my anxious thoughts

worries masked as concerns // misplaced trust // worries of what people think // or might think // driving // riding // out of control // future // virus // comparisons // feeling invisible // a good wife // grammy // daughter // friend //

 

See if there is any offensive way in me,

any way // sin // pride // bitterness // unforgiveness // grudges // lack of self-discipline // quick words // negativity //

 

and lead me in the way everlasting.

an eternity // my destination // my home // lead the way, Lord // give me wisdom // discernment // choices that point to glory, not to self // help me follow well // quick obedience // loving others selflessly // embracing community //

 

Now, I prayerfully consider the words spilled onto the page, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and the hand writes.

Search my heart: I’m well aware of how easily I can deceive myself and its cost. So, whatever He finds, I want to know it. God already knows my sins and loves me still. Nothing catches Him off guard. His spotlight is welcomed⏤not because I’m confident of what He won’t find⏤but rather, of what He will.

Test me and know my anxious thoughts: I’m not a fan of asking to be tested/tried but this examination goes hand-in-hand with the search. Like the Christmas gift hidden behind the tree and tucked beneath the others, anxiety also has a way of hiding in inconspicuous places.

See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting: One last call for any hint of sin in the heart and a point in the right direction.

 

Psalm 139:23, 24 holds a key that unlocks what we truly believe about our heavenly Father.

For those willing to turn the key, the power and freedom of the gospel await.

 

Maybe the richness of this simple exercise isn’t found in the words we write down, but instead, the heart that is reflected through them.

 

Would you like to try this exercise using Psalm 139? I created a downloadable, easy-to-print (and dare I say colorable?) page. Just click here!

 

 

 

Which section of these verses do you find the easiest to pray, and/or the hardest?

 

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I’d love for you to be a part of the 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. 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!

One Way to Answer When Wisdom Calls + Journal Giveaway!

Do you hear her?

“Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?” (Proverbs 8:1 NIV)

Perhaps it’s because I followed unwise whispers for my first twenty-seven years (and saw the devastation of those choices) that now, I can’t lean in far enough to hear wisdom’s voice.

God says if we lack wisdom we can ask for it, and He will give it generously and without fault. (James 1:5) He is our one true source of wisdom.

 

“He who walks with the wise grows wise.”

 

Even though Proverbs 13:20 isn’t directed toward our relationship with God, it certainly rings true just the same.

So earlier this year, I added the practice of reading one Psalm a day, in order, and the Proverb that corresponds with that particular day to my morning routine.

 

It’s funny how one tiny but intentional tweak can breathe new life into a quiet time!

 

I can’t explain it, but knowing what I will read before I open my Bible helps me to stay focused. Without a specific direction, my brain skips around like a little girl who just downed a second box of Skittles. It’s painful to admit how often I’ve allowed that one silly snafu to trip me up over the years.

But on April 8th, I read this Proverb:

“Listen to wisdom’s instruction and be wise. Do not ignore it. Blessed is the man [and woman] who:

  • listens to me
  • watching daily at my doors
  • waiting at my doorway

… for whoever finds me, finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:33-35

I grabbed my needle-thin pen and carefully drew a line beneath the words listens, watching, and waiting. 

 

I couldn’t look away.

 

Although I’ve read the book of Proverbs many times over for the past thirty years, it’s the first time I noticed the number of active verbs on the way to wisdom. So I began praying:

What’s one way I could be more attentive to the beauty and value discovered in wisdom? Before the question had time to escape my brain (as so many things do), the idea to keep a master list of what I learn about wisdom took a seat and made itself right at home in my heart.

 

So what’s one way to answer when wisdom calls? Create a Topical List Journal.

 

Within minutes, I plowed through my pile of empty journals. When I spotted the luggage cover, it reminded me that we’re all sojourners, not stayers, so it was the lucky winner.

Now, in the mornings when I move my way through the book of Proverbs, I read through a chapter in its entirety first. Then, I circle back to list what I learned about wisdom, like:

  • She is a tree of life to those who embrace her. (3:17)
  • Wisdom = straight paths. (4:11)
  • Nothing we desire compares with wisdom. (8:11)
  • Wisdom loves those who love her and those who seek her find her. (8:17)
  • The LORD brought wisdom forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old. (8:22)

I sit speechless as I consider the benefits of listening to wisdom’s voice (and the woes if not). Seeing these truths in a list-form format helps me to digest them easier and reflect on them longer.

But you and I, we know it’s not about making a list or finding the “right” journal. And it’s not about becoming wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7) but rather, lifting words from living pages (Hebrews 4:12), and allowing truth to pierce our good ideas, our take on things, and what we think others want to hear.

“Look for wisdom like silver. Search for it like hidden treasure. If you do this, you will understand what it means to respect the LORD, and you will come to know God. The LORD is the source of wisdom; knowledge and understanding come from his mouth.” Proverbs 2:4-6 ERV

 

Do you hear her calling?

 

Writing down what we learn about wisdom is a good place to start, but maybe the Holy Spirit is tugging on your ear about a different word or theme. The subjects are endless because the Word speaks to every area of our lives.

 

  • Is there one area in your life you’re struggling with right now? That may be your first subject.
  • If you don’t have a journal handy, no problem! Office supply nerds like me seem to always have a stash hidden away, but right now, we’re blessed to just have toilet paper and paper towels, so write it down where ever you please — notebook paper, your phone, dinner napkins (oops, those are also hard to find!).
  • Taking an extra second or two to jot down the scripture reference will save time in the long run. Trust me.
  • Read the verses aloud as you write them down, and then ask God to show you how to apply the truths. We’re after a heart change, not head knowledge.
  • See this as a treasure hunt! Because it’s exactly that, regardless of the subject.

The wise ones search for what is theirs in Christ, and when they search, they find it. And when they find it, their ears open to hear and obey as one who just discovered the greatest treasures this side of heaven.

 

Are you ready to join the hunt? Share the subject that popped in your mind while reading this post and you’ll automatically be entered into the Topical List Journal giveaway! (Subscribers, you get an extra vote!)

 

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Searching for ways to think of others during the quarantine? Click here to read “30 Meaningful Things to Do if You’re Self-Quarantined.

I’d love for you to be a part of the 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, along with ideas on ways we can draw near to God and love others well. So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

How to Create an Online Inspiration Board + Free Worksheet

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

 

Is there a better time to create with the purpose of inspiring?

 

The inspiration board is personal, but when we’re inspired we can’t help but inspire others.

 

The beauty of an online inspiration board is that it’s easy, fun, free, and well…downright inspiring. Since we’re all homebound for a while, it’s the perfect time to give it a try. Children will enjoy it too!

So, let’s get to it…

Pick a subject. There’s no right or wrong answer. Here are some to get your juices flowing:

  • Goals for the next 30, 60, or 90 days. {Spiritually, physically, and emotionally}.
  • Things I’d like to learn.
  • Ways to use this season in life to serve others.
  • What I want to create space for {Spiritually, physically, and emotionally}.
  • Scripture verses I need to remember when anxiety clouds my mind.
  • Ways I can use my home for God’s glory.
  • New ministry ideas.
  • The why behind a book you’re writing or a ministry you’re considering.
  • Inspirational quotes.
  • A vision or calling that could use a little clarifying.
  • Why _____ is important to me {and specific reasons why they are for when we tend to forget.}

 

It’s the last suggestion that was the catalyst for my own board: Get and Stay Healthy. That, and my yearly physical. Although I’m healthy overall, my doctor made a couple of strong recommendations: cut down on sugar and exercise four times a week. I’ve known for a while I’ve needed to do both. But like a silly toddler, I stuck a finger in each ear and la-la-la’d all the way to the freezer to find comfort from the very thought of it.

 

I know what I need to do but I tend to forget the most important part: the why behind it.

 

So I made an Inspirational Board specifically aimed at my why for taking better care of my body.

I didn’t have cardboard lying around or any magazines I wanted to cut up, so I decided to go to Canva and create an online version. I might use it as my desktop screensaver or when society is up and running again, I may print it in color and slap it on my closet door. Or the freezer’s.

 

Just the simple act of creating a board helps to clarify what’s really important.

 

Here’s a quick overview on how to create your inspiration, mood, or vision board:

  • Go to Canva. (There are other online tools but this is my go-to for most projects. It’s easy and free.)
  • Click on “Create a Design” in the left sidebar and choose “Mood Boards Photo Collage”.
  • In seconds, you’ll see beautiful templates on the left. Focus on the layout, not the pictures, because you’ll be replacing theirs with your own.
  • Click on a template you like and depending on what type you choose, you can name your project and/or start loading images into your template by dragging them over. (Don’t worry about deleting the image to try a new one. Just move a new one over the existing one.) Click on the Elements or Photos in the left sidebar to use Canva’s images, or you can upload your own.
  • Once you’re finished, download it as a pdf to print it or as a png (image) if you want to display it on your computer.

For a more detailed version, click here to go to Canva’s instruction page.

 

Here’s my Inspiration Board.

The blocks below represent some of the whys behind my decision to make wiser choices. It’s my personal board but I don’t mind sharing it because if this virus has taught us anything it’s that we’re all in this together.

 

Inspiration Board

This is how the Inspiration Board helps me:

  • Temptation raises its ugly head more often while home 24/7. I read it to help keep me focused on the long-term goal when the short-term is begging for attention.
  • With WW meetings postponed, the accountability factor isn’t the same and where I am in the process, it’s a must. This board quietly but powerfully acts as a visual accountability partner.
  • The board inspires and encourages me of the possibilities ahead.
  • Last but not least, it also acts as a praise board. How could I not praise the One from whom all good gifts flow?

 

I chose a template that gave me several places to write down my whys, as well as places for images to match. But there are many templates to choose from, so:

  • Pick a subject.
  • Choose a template that matches how many blocks you’ll need.
  • Have fun!
  • Stay alert to what the Holy Spirit may want to show you through this process.
  • Need a little warm-up? I created a fun (and pretty) worksheet to help you get started.

Click here to download your FREE “My Inspiration Board” worksheet.

Free Inspiration Worksheet

So, what’s at least one subject you’d consider creating an Inspiration Board for? (There’s no right or wrong answer!)

 

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3

 

Subscribers, check your inbox tonight for your Monthly Letter! It includes in-home Easter celebration links, NEW hope-filled coloring pages, a download, “Giving God Glory From Our Spacious Place”, and more.

 

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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 newsletter chock-full of the latest happenings in the Tiny House on the Hill, along with ideas on ways we can draw near to God and love others well.

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

 

30 Meaningful Things to Do If You’re Self-Quarantined

Well, those are words I never expected to type, but here we are.

I’m not in a panic over the Coronavirus, but it’s true that some, perhaps many of us, may end up self-quarantined or otherwise homebound. But here’s the thing:

 

Every opportunity holds the potential to become meaningful.

 

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise — making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15,16

 

Below are thirty ideas to consider if staying inside for a while. I pray they’ll become the catalyst for spreading hope, encouragement, and truth, to others (germ-free!):

 

  • Set aside fifteen minutes to scroll through Facebook to collect prayer requests. Jot them down and set aside time to pray specifically for each person. Well-meaning “likes” don’t always result in prayer, but they can today! If the Lord brings to mind a certain scripture verse while praying, share it with the person. Our extra minute can encourage them for days.
  • Turn on praise music and sing to the Lord or better yet, sing acapella.
  • Create your own music list. Fill it with songs of hope and peace.
  • Start a new Bible study. If you don’t have one on hand, try an online study from Proverbs 31, LifeWay studies, and free studies from Jen Wilkin.
  • Complete the last study you didn’t finish.
  • Hibernate in prayer.
  • Turn everything off. Listen to the birds. Watch them. Study them. Let these tiny creatures serve as a reminder of God’s intimate care for you. (Luke 12:24)
  • Cook a vegetable meal. Before you pick up the fork, read Proverbs 15:17 aloud: “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Invite conversation: How does this apply to our family? How can we “put feet” to this verse in helping others?
  • Take a James 1:17 stroll. “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” As you walk outside, intentionally search for God’s good gifts surrounding you⏤an unfurling blossom, a flower’s scent, the sun breaking through clouds, etc. Embrace the goodness of God and let it carry you heavenward throughout the day.
  • Take tea for two, you and God.
  • Finish the current book you’re reading. Then, go the extra mile and leave a review on Amazon. Bonus points if you do the same on Goodreads, and don’t forget to add it to your reading list while you’re there.
  • Start a new book. If you know the author, message her along the way sharing what encourages you or a phrase that stood out to you. If a quote stands out, consider posting it on Facebook and Instagram to encourage others (and the author).
  • Call a different person each day. Many of us prefer to text but let’s delight someone by laying aside our preferences and call instead.
  • Text two people each day with one purpose in mind: to encourage.
  • Pray for your children/grandchildren. Jon Bloom’s 7 Things to Pray for Your Children is a favorite.
  • Pray for your adult children.
  • Pray for the lost. Tim Challies’ 18 Prayers to Pray for the Lost is a great place to start.
  • Draw a line down the center of a page.
  • Plan for the future. Sometimes our immobility is simply a rest area on the highway of life. It gives us unexpected time to pray, think, and mull over ideas.
  • Create mini-love notes and place them in sock drawers, on mirrors, cereal boxes, or inside his/her Bible.
  • Is it raining? Engage those God-given senses!
  • If you’re up for it, work or play in your yard. Plant flowers, pull weeds, plunge seeds into the ground.
  • Create simply for the joy of creating.
  • Create a vision board. Go through magazines, clip inspiring quotes and pictures OR create an online version via Canva (free). (Watch for an upcoming post on this subject!)
  • Write morning pages. Not sure how? Click here for one of the best breakdowns I’ve read (other than Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.)
  • Start a gratitude journal. Is there a better time to focus on our blessings?
  • Do a prayer walk through your home.
  • Set up a prayer journal.
  • Read scripture verses on peace. Write them down. Memorize at least one and lean on God’s promises with the same warmth and confidence a child bends toward her mother.
  • If you’re a Creative Pauses subscriber (you are awesome!), enjoy your free resources (Scripture-Based Coloring Pages, Praying Throughout Your Home, 10 Ways to Show Up for Others This Summer, etc.). If not, then pull up a chair and join in the fun! Simply type your email in the top right-hand sidebar >>>> and start enjoying your free resources immediately.

* Click here for a downloadable PDF print of the list above.

 

The Coronavirus situation gives us, the hopers and believers of the world, opportunities to share Christ in ways we’ve never had before. Becoming more intentional in how we care for others — emotionally, physically, and spiritually — during a time when many are focused on themselves, might just make an eternal difference.

 

Yes, we plan and use our resources wisely, but above all, we love selflessly.

 

Is there one particular idea above that stands out to you, or do you have one to add to the list?

 

 

 

 

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