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How to Redeem Your Time Every Morning + A Starbucks Giveaway

Prayer with a cup of tea

What do a cup of tea and redeeming our time have in common? (Not a tea drinker? Stick with me.)

Years ago, in a charming old home on a corner lot, I invited small groups of women over for tea, conversation, and a focus on a particular book of the Bible or Scripture verse. There was also an annual Christmas tea and other types too. It was a sweet chapter in my life. (The subject of tea continues to pop up in the oddest of places these days, so who knows what God might be up to?)

Recently, while making a cup of tea, I realized there were moments in the tea-making process that matched some of my prayers from the morning. So I grabbed a piece of paper, jotted down the big ideas, and asked God to keep filling in the spaces. And this is what I’m sharing below (or here, if you don’t have time to read it now).

It’s a way to redeem a handful of minutes used for an ordinary morning act⏤an act that often flies by without notice.

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

Here’s the beautiful part: The redeeming tea process can be applied to many things we do throughout our day. More on that later.

For now, let’s start where any good cup of tea begins, with fresh cold water.

 

A Kettle and Cold Water

 

My soul thirsts for you, God you are the living God. Psalm 42:2

Physical dehydration is tricky⏤it can sneak up on us. Before we know it, our lips are parched and we’re lightheaded. Similarly, we can also find ourselves spiritually parched. One day, without notice, we realize our joy is lacking, we’re not making the wisest of decisions, and something is just off.

So, as the water comes to a boil, it’s the perfect time to pause and pray:

Lord, please reveal any signs of spiritual dehydration in my soul. Awaken me to Your glorious truths. You are the One True Living God and I want my soul to thirst for you with the same fervor as King David did all those years ago. Amen.

 

Prepare the mug

 

One cube or two? Ha! My mug contains stevia, and a Paris Tea teabag (thank you, Harney & Sons). Sometimes, depending on the day, I might scoop loose leaves into little disposable “pockets” instead. How do you prepare your mug?

So, then, prepare your heart and mind for action. Stay alert and fix your hope firmly on the marvelous grace that is coming to you. 1 Peter 1:13, The Passion Translation

“Stay alert” speaks to spiritual alertness. When I think of these two words, I think of memorizing Scripture, meeting with friends during the week so I can be alert to new guests in church Sunday morning, and asking God to put a guard on my mouth. What about you?

When we stay prepared for action, remain spiritually alert, and fix our hope firmly on the marvelous grace of God, lives change. Ours, and others too. We never know how our faith, no matter how small, can affect another person’s life.

So, as we insert the tea bag, squeeze the honey, and tear the packets, it’s the perfect time to pause and pray:

Lord, prepare my heart and mind for You and Your ways today. Help me to stay alert and spiritually engaged to see where I can join in what You’re doing around me. Amen.

 

Pour the Boiling Water

 

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an overflowing spring. Isaiah 58:10,11

Let’s be honest. There are times when we feel slap out of pouring ability. Other’s needs pop up when everything has gone wrong with our day, or we’re scraping by financially, or we’re mentally exhausted. In fact, we ourselves would welcome a little pouring into. I hear you.

And yet, it’s in those very moments when we feel depleted, but still offer someone else an oasis, that God’s power is put on display. In fact, Isaiah tells us that when we give at the most inconvenient times, God gives us refreshment and restoration. As we give, He continues to replenish.

Quick side note: Obviously, this doesn’t mean we’re supposed to say yes to everything we’re asked to do. Jesus didn’t help or heal everyone who had needs. It goes back to remaining spiritually alert, acting when God taps us on the shoulder or calls our name. There’s an old saying that goes we can’t help everyone, but we can help someone.

So, as we pour the boiling water into the mug, it’s the perfect time to pray:

Lord, show me where You would have me pour into someone, no matter how small an act, and give me peace when You have someone else in mind to help. Like a well-watered garden, help me to be an oasis, providing Your truth, love, and peace, as You lead. Amen.

 

Steep the Tea

 

Be still in the presence of the LORD and wait patiently for him to act. Psalm 37:7

Tea steeps anywhere between one minute to ten, depending on the type. So what if we took this time to simply sit or stand in the presence of the LORD? Maybe we’re currently waiting on the Lord for something specific:

  • Salvation for a loved one
  • A wayward child to return
  • A marriage to heal
  • Healing

Consider holding your hands out and palms up, as a posture of trust in God. We trust and we’re open to the Lord’s sovereignty.

As we wait for the tea to steep, it’s the perfect time to pray:

Lord, help me to wait patiently on You for ___________. Even when circumstances try to shake my trust in You, I will stand firm in Your presence. You are a good Father and Your timing is always perfect for my good and Your glory. Amen.

 

Holding the Mug

 

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:2

As we surround the mug with our hands, may we be reminded that the One True Living God surrounds us. He is unchanging (nothing we do or don’t do will make Him love us more or less) and faithful (He has been faithful and He will be again). And because we are surrounded, we move through our day with fresh mercy, peace, joy, goodness, and every spiritual blessing pertaining to Christ. We lack nothing!

So, as we surround our mug with our hands, it’s the perfect time to pray:

Lord, may this tangible reminder of Your presence help me to lean into You, Your strength, and Your power, today. Amen.

 

If you’re not a tea drinker, what’s something you do on a regular basis that could be broken down into redeemable steps? Do you garden, or enjoy baking? Whatever it is, this same process can help awaken those tiny redeemable moments we have every day!

 

Did one of the above steps, in particular, speak to you? Share in the comments below and you’ll be entered into a random Starbucks gift card giveaway for a favorite cup of tea, coffee, or whatever else you enjoy at Starbucks. Enjoy!

Here’s a PDF copy of the above steps!

 

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5 More Places to Pray this Spring + Starbucks Giveaway

Places to Pray in Spring

 

Many of you enjoyed last year’s post, “7 Places to Pray this Spring” so I thought you might enjoy a few more.

Daring to step outside our comfort zones to talk with God reminds us how the faith walk is an adventure that was never intended to be squirreled away for safekeeping. It is flowing, never static. A verb, not a noun. In him, we live, and move, and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

In a recent Instagram post, Stephanie Smith (@stephduncansmith), shared this:

“Martin L. Smith, an Anglican monk, wrote a wonderful book on prayer The Word is Very Near You. In his chapter entitled “God is a Conversation,” he observes that we do not imitate prayer. Instead, we are invited to join a conversation that is already underway between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.”

 

So where can we join in the conversation this Spring?

 

A local coffee shop.

If the aroma and promise of “happy juice” (as my husband refers to coffee around here) aren’t enough to draw you in, step through the doors and let prayer be your guide. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you on how to pray for those seated around you, for the Baristas, for the woman seated in the corner, staring outside the window. With your intentional heart of prayer engaged, something much sweeter than foam swirled in a fancy design will waft through the air. (Here’s a post I shared a while back about my own coffee shop experience.)

 

Take a hike!

In most areas, spring is a perfect time to hit the trails. It’s not too hot or too cold and if we’re lucky, snakes are still hidden away wherever it is they go. Before the first shoe track smacks dirt, let’s jot down five things on the trail to find. And when we do, we can pause for a moment to thank God. Some things to look for on our hike might include a tiny critter, a particular wildflower or butterfly, moss, or a tree leaf.

 

Gym

Let’s face it, summer is just around the corner. As you walk on the treadmill, lift the weights, or row, row, row your boat, pause to take in your surroundings. Choose three people to pray for silently, trusting He knows their deepest needs. Or blanket the room in prayer as you remember 1 Timothy 4:8 ESV: For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

Stargazing

Bundle up, tuck a blanket beneath your arm (or enjoy the leisure of a comfy outdoor chair), and look up! As you do, consider reading the scripture verses below:

  • He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the LORD is his name. Amos 5:8
  • Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26
  • He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4

Gazing into the dark sky, let’s pay attention to how God might be leading us to pray for ourselves and for others. Maybe it’s to remember God’s sovereignty, His creative work, or to be reminded that since He knows the number of stars and calls them by name that He surely knows (and cares about) every detail of our lives.

 

Strawberry pickin’

Tis’ the season here in the south when we load up the kids, head to a nearby strawberry patch, and hand out cartons to hold the sweet red triangular fruit. The Bible talks about teaching our children as we go and this can happen in a strawberry patch, an apple orchard, a vegetable garden, or anywhere else when we talk about Psalm 34:8, Taste and see that the LORD is good. What personal story of God’s goodness can we share with others and offer prayers of thankfulness as we go?

 

Do any of the above ideas spark your interest? We’d love to know! Or is there another place, in particular, you enjoy praying during this glorious season? Share below and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for a cup of Starbucks coffee (in case you want to try the first idea.)

 

 

Spiritual Hibernating with God this Winter + Downloads and Giveaway!

Spiritual Hibernation

I’m a hibernator by nature. I love all things cozy, flickering, warm, and quiet. How ’bout you?

Like flowers that take flight in spring after a time of gathering up God’s goodness beneath a dormant ground, we too have similar opportunities.

You may remember my post, “Hibernate in Prayer to Awaken Your Soul”. Today, we’ll consider four more small, specific ways to hunker down, quiet our souls, and draw near to God in preparation for blooming wherever He plants us.

 

Immersing ourselves in God’s Word.

Merriam Webster defines the word “immersion” like this: to plunge into something that surrounds or covers especially. One way to immerse ourselves in scripture is to practice Lectio Divina, which simply means divine reading. There’s nothing mystical or new age-y about it (or else you wouldn’t find it here). And it’s no longer seen as belonging to a particular sect. It’s for every Christ-follower who longs to slow down to a savoring pace. Here’s a PDF sample I created if you’d like to give it a try!

 

Sing!

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 63:7 NIV) This place, beneath the shadow of God’s wings, is one of comfort and protection. As we stay close to Christ, how can we not sing? Put this verse to your own melody or sing another song/hymn that resonates way down deep. Or quietly hum. Look up to the sky or close your eyes ⏤ whatever helps you stay focused on the One you’re praising. What a sweet, sweet sound in the ears of our Heavenly Father.

 

Silence.

For God alone my heart waits in silence and quietly submits to him, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62.5 AMP) What might seem like a simple act can quickly turn into a rodeo as we lasso distractions into submission. It’s why I created a system to help me remain still and silent despite the dodging of a noose. When a random thought or chore (supposedly in need of immediate attention) darts out while practicing the art of silence, I whisper the words not receiving. Maybe it’s just the way my quirky brain works but it helps me to differentiate the thoughts I want to set aside or discard and those I want to keep.

 

Confession.

Talk about freedom! If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV) Sometimes, when words are a struggle, I pull out my journal and spill out every thought, sin, or question onto paper. Then, I draw a line beneath the confession and write what I know to be true despite those times I don’t feel forgiven. Whew! Thank goodness our faith is never dependent on emotions, only God’s Word. These quiet moments of cleansing ⏤ they’re sacred, life-giving, and refreshing. I’d love to share this journaling practice with you.

 

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

 

A series of small things brought together, like soaking in God’s Word, worship, silence, and confession, bring forth great things for God’s glory.

 

Where do you “hibernate” with God in your home? We’d love to know! Share your answer in the comment section and you’ll be entered into a giveaway for a cup of your favorite Starbucks drink. Winter + a favorite warm beverage = pure delight! 

Heads up! The January theme in our Creative Pauses Facebook group is “Hibernating in the Holy”. Each weekday, we’ll focus on a different spiritual “hibernation” practice. We’d love for you to join us!

 

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Maybe you spotted our current gift for new subscribers, What to Pray for Room-by-Room? Together, we’ll walk through the rooms of your home as I share ideas on ways to pray for you, your family, guests, and even strangers. You’ll find the new subscriber box at the top of the sidebar. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time, but we hope you’ll feel right at home here in The Tiny House on the Hill.

 

15 Things I’m Loving Right Now (And You Might Too)

God and family top every love list ever written.

With that as my starting point, I thought it might be fun to share fifteen random things I’m currently lovin’. If you decide to do something similar on your site, tag me so I can enjoy yours in return.

(Some are affiliate links which simply means I may receive a small compensation but it doesn’t add anything to your cost.)

Now, let’s get started!

 

1.

How We Love Study / Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan & Kay Yerkovich. Brian and I are working through the book/workbook. We appreciate how the authors point out that marriages don’t actually begin at the altar but rather, in our childhood. It’s biblically-based and doesn’t bash parents (because what parent hasn’t made mistakes?). It does, however, open up communication and foster understanding.

2.

The Creative Pauses Facebook Group. As an extension of the Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill community, this group offers a place to converse, encourage, and inspire. It’s a space to pause, catch your breath, and be filled with biblical truth through fun and meaningful ways. We’d love for you to join us!

3.

Thymes Pine Needle Frasier Fir candle. This crisp scent of cedar drifts through our home year-round. Its fragrance so bright I can almost hear branches breaking every time I breathe in. Sweet mercy, where’s my flame lighter?

4.

The Tiny House on the Hill. The last time I wrote a similar post, the tiny house was but a dream. In 2019, it became a reality thanks to an awesome husband and one and a half year’s worth of weekends. Now, it’s used for writing, reading, Zoom meetings, and so much more. What a blessing!

5.

Travel with God Journal. I wrote about it here and mentioned it in a recent interview because God continues to awaken me to His work and ways through it.

6.

The Blue Ridge Mountains Christians Writers Conference. Seeing friends I’ve not seen since 2019, sipping coffee in The Clouds, spiffing up my skills, and worshipping day and night. What’s there not to love?

7.

My “Rain…Coffee…Books” sweatshirt. Because, well, that pretty much sums it up right there.

8.

Les Miserables/An Engaging Visual Journal by Victor Hugo. It was a gift ⏤ and what a gift! Lovely illustrations pepper the pages, bringing this classic to life.

9.

Proverbs. The old adage may be, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” but I say, “A Proverb a day keeps poor choices at bay.”

10.

Starbucks Iced Matcha Latte. This green powder cranks up the brainpower without the jitters.

11.

Treadmill. Brian’s doctor recently reminded us that to move is to live so we set aside our space concerns and ordered an inexpensive but get-it-done treadmill. It sits as pretty as you please in our den but it can fold in half and be rolled into the hallway when needed.

12.

“Ooly” Color Write Fountain Pens. This pack of pens is pure delight! The colors are beautiful, vivid, and the ink flows across the page like glass. The best part? I purchased them at my favorite shop in Black Mountain, NC. See #13.

13.

Sassafrass on Sutton. This is my favorite gift/book shop, hands down. This hundred + year-old store sits in the downtown area and holds a floor of books, literary goodies, and items I’ve not seen elsewhere.

14.

Zinc gummies. The blackberry-ish flavor tastes almost like dessert. Yumilicious + strong immunity = score!

15.

Eucalyptus shower spray. This spray had me at the first spritz. Immediately, I transported back to the “eucalyptus room” in a ladies spa where my friends and I used to sit on tiny-sized ocean blue tiles inside a large glass room filled with billows of fragrant steam. Come to think of it, maybe it’s the mingling of eucalyptus and memories that make this shower spray such a delight.

 

So, what’s something you’re lovin’ these days? 

 

7 Places to Pray this Spring and What to Pray + Handy Download

Eight Places to Pray this Spring

Prayer was never meant to stay within four walls, or spoken from a well-worn chair, or coupled with coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, praying in my favorite spot with coffee in hand is a delight. But when I look at Jesus, I see how He prayed in the wilderness, solitary places, on a mountain, in crowds, gardens, and with children.

 

Jesus prayed with the same ease as His next breath, making the most of every opportunity.

 

As I look around, I see spring everywhere — in outdoor activities, flowers, trees, and on the labels of my sinus meds. The struggle is real. But every season offers its own unique opportunities for prayer, and spring is no exception.

So, where are some places we can make the most of every opportunity to pray this season? I’ll get the ball rolling with eight ideas:

 

A Park

 

Depending on the time we visit, we might see women running, children climbing on playsets, or couples circling it hand-in-hand.

We can pray God will bless the efforts of those taking the time to exercise. Are children climbing monkey bars? Pray they’ll come to know Jesus at an early age, for their protection (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), and for their parents. Also, seeing couples enjoying time together is a reminder to pray that they’ll be a good and godly influence on other couples (and we will too). So, let’s get to dusting off the devilish yellowish-green powder covering the park bench and take our seats!

 

Walks in Our Community

 

We walk in our neighborhood and pray for various families as we pass by their homes. So let’s stretch our prayer muscles and find other places in our community to pray. We can circle our children/grandchildren’s school in prayer or a small business that’s struggling. Let’s circle our church, praying for the pastoral staff and their families. We can also pray as we pass by the police station, fire department, and other places where dedicated men and women serve our community and country.

In the Garden

You know the old saying that we’re closer to God in a garden? Maybe it’s older than we think. After all, life began in a garden and the union with God was perfect before fruit was plucked and eaten.

As we dig into the earth, let’s consider those who need a holy heart tilling ⏤ for the Holy Spirit to begin preparing their heart for His Word, and that truth will sink deeply in their heart and mind. Pulling weeds? What a beautiful reminder to pray that we ourselves will also have a well-tilled heart.

 

At the Beach

Many southerners make their way to the beach during spring break, weekend trips, and early vacations. I have a feeling we’re not alone. (I hope we’re not!) While sitting on the beach, scoop up a handful of sand. Notice the number of granules, even in one pinched finger’s worth. Psalm 139 says God’s thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand. Do you, or someone you know, need to be reminded of God’s goodness, care, and attention? Pray and if you want to give them a tangible reminder, scoop sand in a Ziploc bag. Also, watching the mighty waves curl, crash and ease their way to the shore reminds us of God’s power and strength. Let’s pray for this power to move in our present circumstances, as well as others. A week’s worth of similar ideas is included in my devotional guide for the beach. (Not an affiliate link.)

 

The Farmer’s Market

We see a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables, flowers, jams, honey, and jellies⏤the fruition of hard work behind the scenes. It’s a great opportunity to pray for those who plant, water, fumigate, and can fruity goodness. Pray for their health, blessings on their work, and success.

 

At the Zoo

Who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the zoo, especially before the double-whammy hits ⏤ humidity and mosquitoes! Kids and kids-at-heart marvel at God’s creativity — the colors, habits, shapes, and their innate ability to survive. There’s no better place to praise God for surrounding us in His handcrafted beauty.

Road Trip!

Maybe it’s hard to imagine being able to pray while whipping around curves and stopping for lunch at our favorite mom and pop cafe but thanks to breath prayers, it’s possible.

 

Intentionally “taking” our prayer life wherever we go opens our eyes to spiritual truths and opportunities we would miss otherwise. And no greater example of this is Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

 

Here’s a handy PDF download of this post.

 

Ways to Pray for Our Children and Grandchildren

 

6 Christmas Gifts for the Hurting + A Giveaway for You

 

Christmas gifts come in all shapes and sizes.

Many believe the best ones are hidden beneath a lit-tree. But I think⏤especially this year⏤the best gifts will be shown, demonstrated, and offered, from intentional hearts.

In my last post, I shared specific ways to celebrate togetherness despite the separation many of us will experience this year. Some of our separations will be temporary but others will not. Whatever hurt we experience during the holiday season seems to weigh more, sink deeper.

 

And yet, our hope in Jesus Christ creates a buoyancy of joy that no circumstance can overcome.

 

As Christ-followers, we have the privilege of coming alongside the hurting and demonstrating this truth. The good news is that we can do this in simple but thoughtful ways:

 

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Hurting

 

  • Be present, as much as you and the recipient feel comfortable. If a physical visit isn’t possible, consider calling, or face-timing. Time, energy, and a listening ear are gifts no one will return.
  • Find practical ways to offer assistance. Perhaps a widow could use help decorating her home, addressing Christmas cards, or running errands.
  • Do you have special memories of a loved one missing this season? Write each one down, being as specific as possible. Mail, record, or share them verbally with the recipient.
  • Gift a beautiful Christmas candle. Keep the scent on the mild side for those who might have allergies. Attach a card: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5 NLT)
  • Donate a Bible in their loved one’s memory. Gideon International sends beautiful cards to the recipient and delivers their Bible(s) around the globe for the cost of a cup of coffee. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.
  • For those quarantined in assisted living homes or homes, consider caroling as a family outside his/her window. Or gift a bird feeder outside the window, including seeds on a regular basis. In a card, remind her of God’s intimate care for birds (Matthew 6:26)  and how much greater He loves her. Every time you fill-up the feeder, seeing you will be another “gift” for the quarantined.

 

And Merry Christmas to You!

 

Does one idea, in particular, spark your interest? Or maybe you have a new idea to add! Either way, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below. Share, and you’ll be entered into a giveaway for a $10.00 Starbucks gift card!

 

This post closes out 2020 for the Creative Pauses blog, but I’d LOVE for you to join me over @ the Creative Pauses Facebook Group where the conversation continues. Each day, you’ll find a quick but meaningful (and often fun) pause and who couldn’t use this in December? It’s an oasis for many, and we’d love to welcome you too!

Join the Creative Pauses blog community by subscribing below or in the sidebar, and receive your Family Advent Calendar 2020 as my way of saying thank you. 

Family Advent Calendar

 

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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 Uby Yanes on Unsplash

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