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? 

 

8 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

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!

Tiny House on the Hill

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