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

Praying With Our Eyes Wide Open

Literally.

I know, I know. It goes against everything we learned growing up. Bow your heads and close your eyes. To do anything different seems awkward.

But within my four walls, I welcome the difference, always praying with my eyes wide open. When it comes to praying with others, however, I cave to tradition.

 

I don’t want to look weird or feel out of place — and my spirit groans every single time.

 

The only way I know how to describe what happens the moment I close my eyes to pray is to compare it to a Twilight Zone episode called Little Girl Lost. A child accidentally falls through an opening in the wall and enters a different dimension. She cries while floating around in the dark, trying to reach for her dog, who suffered the same fate.

Okay, so that’s a tad dramatic but it’s true. I close my eyes to pray and everything goes dark. Everything except for the distractions. They bark louder than any dog I know.

 

Is it Unbiblical to Pray with Our Eyes Open?

 

It’s not. There’s nothing in the Bible that says our eyes must be closed to communicate well with our God. When Jesus feeds the 5,000 he prays looking up to heaven. Were his eyes open? I believe so.

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” Matthew 14:17-19 [emphasis mine]

God doesn’t pay attention to what we wear, if we’ve showered, or if our hair is mussed or perfect. The tradition of closing our eyes is both understandable and honorable. We all want to be fully present, whether our eyes are open or closed. But since our conversation today is focused on the former, here are some tips for avoiding distractions:

 

How to Avoid Distractions When Praying With Eyes Wide Open

 

  • Look up! Jesus set the example. The sky is vast and full of God’s glory. Like the ocean, it reminds us of our smallness and that is good.
  • Journal prayers first. Write down the specifics first, and then pray. This way, when praying with our eyes open, the things we want to pray for surface quicker. Distractions, at least for me, tend to happen more when my heart/mind isn’t warmed up.
  • Whenever possible, pray aloud. Hearing the words help to cement them in the heart. By the same token, praying out loud also helps me to “hear” the sins that are trying to squeak in the back door of my heart. Sometimes the simple tone of my request says it all. Combining the two ⏤eyes open and aloud⏤changed my prayer life.

 

Other Times We Can {and Should} Pray with Eyes Wide Open

 

  • When driving. Or when the guy on your bumper scooches up just a little too close for comfort.
  • When we’re outside. “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” Job 37:14
  • As we go through our day. Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to be alert in prayer. Staying attuned to the beauty and heartache that surrounds us every day gives us continual reasons to walk and pray throughout our day.

Writing is often cathartic and this post is one of those moments for me. If praying with my eyes wide open isn’t unbiblical and if my spirit groans when I try to pray like everyone else because of pride, I need to confess it and move forward in faith. Because this is what we know:

Eyes open, eyes closed. It matters not, as long as the heart is engaged.

 

 

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Did you notice the new title Creative Pauses…from the Tiny House on the Hill? I share a little more about the why behind the newly revised on my About Page.

Thank you for stopping by for a visit! I’d love for you to stay awhile. If you’d like to become a part of the Creative Pauses community, simply type your e-address in the righthand sidebar. Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy day and they automatically land in your inbox. Once a month, you’ll also receive a newsletter chock-full of helpful tidbits 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! 

3 Ways to Pray More Intentionally + A Tiny Journal Giveaway!

Intentional is my “one-word” for the year.

Some think the one-word movement is hokey. I know because that was me not so long ago. And yet, in a world that tugs on us with the same fervor as a hungry toddler, embracing a word that points us to the Word offers an intentional act that can help us stay focused.

 

Many areas in life deserve more intentionality on my part, but none more than prayer.

 

Below are three ways I’m learning to re-engage the power and beauty of prayer in my own life. I’d love to know how you’re doing the same in the comment section below. We are in this together, after all. *smile*

 

1. Re-visit the Why

 

Why pray? If we were raised in the church, our whys more than likely roll off the tongue with ease. But what about today? What about prayer stirs us to set aside time on a busy morning? What do we believe about prayer that causes us to risk embarrassment by thanking God for our food in public places?

For me, this “why” surfaced first: Because I can⏤because we can. Thanks be to Christ’s sacrifice, we can converse with the One True God⏤the One who formed us, the One who redeemed us, sanctifies us, loves us beyond comprehension, quiets us, heals us, and empowers us to live more like Jesus.

It is impossible to grasp the reality of this magnificent privilege and remain the same. 

What is your “why” and how does it change your intentions for 2020?

 

2. Scribble Your Prayers

 

Scribble, you say? Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what I mean, but one of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was to scribble my rogue ideas and rough drafts in a plain spiral-bound notebook. Not fancy ones, like those Brian used to bring home from France. {I’m not sure what it says about me that I asked for paper instead of perfume, but let me just say, this was no ordinary paper. The crisp white sheets were smooth as glass, yet thick enough to resist any bleed-through.}

But this same sheet of paper sat blank because I didn’t want to waste a “good” sheet for what could be the worst paragraph ever.

And therein lies the beauty of a solid-colored spiral-bound notebook. The sheets are thin and anything but crisp⏤but they are brimming with words. There’s no concern about messing up or writing the wrong thing on a cheap piece of paper.

Sometimes when journaling our prayers, it’s easy to feel stuck, unsure of what we want to write. Or we skip a day, a week, or longer because we don’t know where to begin. So the page remains blank.

But when the imperfect spiral-bound pages make themselves available for imperfect words and sentences, there’s a freedom at work that I can’t explain.

“Scribbling” tips:

  • Write like no one else will read it but God. It’s a safe place to pour out your hurt, your dreams, your doubts–whatever is on your heart. King David paved the way in Psalms, showing us how to trust God with our honesty while never failing to recognize His majesty.
  • Try different methods. There’s no one way that’s right for everyone. Over the years, I’ve used an organized prayer notebook with tabs for praise, confession, intercession, and salvation. I also have stacks of plain notebooks, some started but never finished, and others filled with my failures and God’s faithfulness.
  • Keep a tiny journal with you at all times. Be intentional, watching for God’s goodness as you move through your day. Eventually, you will create your own pocketful of praises. {Don’t miss the tiny journal opportunity below!}

 

3. Incorporate “Touchpoints” of Prayer

 

To be clear, there’s nothing sacred about touching anything. But using everyday touches to prompt a prayer is a simple and intentional way to stay connected with God throughout our day. Such as:

  • Washing the dishes. Let the water running over your hands serve as a reminder to pray for those who are spiritually thirsty, without Christ. We pray for their salvation so that their innermost being will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
  • Steering wheel. As you take hold of the wheel, let your grip serve as a reminder of God’s closeness to you, praising God for surrounding you with His presence. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 125:1,2)
  • Feet to the floor. This “touchpoint” is mentioned in 4 “Touchpoints” to Connect with God Throughout the Day, the latest gift for current/new subscribers. The moment our feet touch either the coldness of hardwood flooring or the warmth of cozy slippers in the morning, let that touch prompt us to offer God our first thought of the day. It can be as simple as, Thank you for a new day, Thank you for fresh mercy (Lamentations 3:22, 23), or Have Your Way Today, Lord.

 

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:12

 

How would you like to become more intentional in 2020? Share in the comment section below to help cement your own intentions, encourage others, and have your name placed in a random giveaway for a pair of mini journals.

 

We’d love for you to join us on the Tiny House on the Hill!  Pull up a chair and make yourself right at home among women who love and serve God with their whole heart. (Or simply enter your email address in the pop-up below or right-hand sidebar!) >>>>

As a thank you for subscribing to this blog, you’ll receive 4 Prayer “Touchpoints”: To Help Connect with God Throughout the Day, a free download to print and clip. Of course, we hope you’ll stay, but you may unsubscribe at any time.

 

The Moment Before and After You Hear the Word Cancer

“I have a little news to share.”

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

But they are to be treasured, not idolized.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are a blessing.

 

 

Image source by Pixabay.

How God Answered My Prayers Through a Man Named Finis

He wasn’t where he was supposed to be on the first night of the conference.

Someone noticed an older man walking in a room that was off limits until it was officially opened by faculty. A few people rescued him with the same fervor one might have when rescuing sailors at sea. Writer’s conferences take sign-ups seriously, after all. *wink*

The man shuffled out of the room and stood nearby like a schooled student. His gray hair and age-worn hands stood out among the rest. I wondered about his story and the spunk required to hone his writing skills at that age. But the first thing I noticed about this man was the black eye that cushioned his glasses.

The following morning, I made my way to the cafeteria for breakfast.

 

I’d barely added grits to my butter when I spotted the black-eyed man sitting alone at a distant table.

 

I walked over, leaned down, and asked if he’d rather wait on someone or come over and sit with us. He quickly responded, “I’d much rather come sit with you.”

He met Dee Dee, along with several other friendly faces around the table for eight and introduced himself as Finis (pronounced fine-us). He drove from Texas despite a recent fall that left him with a black eye and a bum knee. We talked about the places he and his wife have lived over the years, one being my favorite tiny town, Saluda NC.

Over the next few days, I saw him in passing and during the large gatherings. He may have regretted sitting behind me, Dee Dee, and Carlton. But if he did, you would’ve never known it.

One night, we saw him at the Nibble Nook. (For those who watched our Two Peas video a couple of years ago in front of the Nibble Nook, I can attest to the fact that there is now nibbling going on in the nook.) But this time, Finis wasn’t alone. Two older volunteers from Ridgecrest walked through the doors behind him. As it turned out, he and one of the volunteers graduated high school together. It did my heart good to hear laughter coming from their corner.

On the final day of our conference, Finis and I found ourselves in a workshop together. By mid-afternoon, I noticed him packing up his laptop so I assumed he needed to get on the road headed back to Texas. As he walked up the aisle, he took a sharp right and came to tell me goodbye.

 

As we hugged, Finis whispered, “Thank you.”

My eyes felt more like puddles.

 

Meeting Finis was the highlight of my conference and a direct answer to my prayer before I left for the conference. So what did I pray? It went a little something like this:

Father, help me to be sensitive to other’s needs more than my own.

This may sound like a sweet prayer but rest assured, it was birthed from a place of conviction. You see, it’s very easy to get caught up in yourself⏤your appointments, your introductions to the “right” people, and promoting yourself and your books⏤at a writers conference.

I’m not suggesting those things are wrong when done with the right motivation, but I’ve returned from the conference more than once over the last eight years feeling like I missed something, or more importantly, someone.

I wish I could say I lived out the prayer 24/7 while at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. There were still missed opportunities and downright selfish moments, but I hope and pray I’ll become even more aware of those around me in the coming years, Lord willing.

 

Finis may have thanked me but I’m the one who should thank him.

 

He taught me:

  • We’re never too old to start something new or hone our current skills.
  • We never retire from our calling.
  • His willingness to drive hundreds of miles to accomplish this shows me that even as I age, I need to be willing to step out of my comfort zone.
  • And despite his fall (and the black eye badge of honor to prove it), he didn’t let what others might think discourage him from following through.

I hope my path crosses with Finis again before they cross in heaven.

But until then, thank you Finis.

 

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While away at the conference, “Songs of Hope: 31 Days in the Psalms” released! This book includes thirty-one devotionals with reflection questions and short prayers. Twenty-five women, from all walks of life, share their stories of joy and heartache with an underlying thread of God’s hope. BONUS: Receive a FREE journal to go along with your study ordered by June 10th.

I’m both humbled and delighted to be one of those twenty-five women.

If you’d like to find out more information or order, click here! (This is an affiliate link, which means when you order through this link, I will receive the equivalent of a cup of coffee, at no extra charge to you.)

Thank you for stopping by the Tiny House on the Hill today!

 

 

 

The First Hard Conversation + Autographed Giveaway by Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld

No one goes around looking to strike up a hard conversation.

And yet, I’m not sure we can expect to walk fully in light of the gospel without a willingness to do it. Thankfully, people like Lori Roeleveld are able to take not-so-comfortable conversations and break them into hearty, but bite-sized morsels.

For almost a decade, I’ve watched Lori’s life beautifully reflect her zeal for God and His Word. She’s the real deal and I’m honored to have her guest post today. In typical Lori fashion, she went above and beyond by offering an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations to one blessed recipient. For now, be blessed as you read directly from Lori’s heart because that’s the kind of writer she is.

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If you’re anything like me, my prayer preparation for any conversation that I anticipate may be challenging or uncomfortable used to sound like this. “Please make this go away. Don’t make me be the one to discuss this. Please send someone else.” (Total transparency – sometimes they still sound like that.)

I comforted myself in that it sounded a lot like Moses, but really it was my “turtle” self, longing to escape my responsibility to speak truth, share my faith, encourage a struggling believer, or resolve a conflict.

 

Through years of engaging in all manner of hard conversations, I’ve learned that most effective ones begin with showing up for a “hard conversation” with God.

 

This is where I pour my heart out to Him in prayer about the situation first. I read relevant passages of Scripture and sit quietly while He helps me sort through my feelings, the facts, His truth, and my love for the other person in order to inform my approach, timing, and words.

There are many, many times when this time of prayer is the end of the matter. This is usually when I’ve taken some offense or harbor self-righteous anger about a situation. As I confess emotions that aren’t based in His Word and read what Scripture has to say about my words, I often realize that the log in my own eye is most of the problem.

 

Other times, this period of prayer highlights a lack of love on my part.

 

Love lapses are responsible for much of our lack of evangelism, internal church conflict, even family struggles. Too often, I try to operate solely from a foundation of my own human affection. God prods me, always, to rely on His perfect love to infuse me and inform my relationships with others, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This gets worked out in this time of prayer.

Always, this time of prayer reduces my fear and reminds me of God’s presence with me and His desire to include me in His work. That’s exciting! Hard conversations may begin as a painful exercise, but often, they are the vehicles of transformation and breakthrough God desires and how blessed are we to be witness to that!

When I feel there may be a hard conversation in my future with another person, I pray for God to give me His heart for that person and let me see them through His eyes. I pray for their heart to be fertile soil and for God to go before my words to prepare the way. I pray for the right opportunity and timing to appear with clarity and favor. And, I ask God to remove any barriers in me and in the other person that may interfere with communication and with God’s Work in our hearts.

 

Preparatory prayer is as vital for hard conversations as it is at the beginning of any worthy endeavor.

 

If you anticipate a challenging chat – being open with someone about your faith or biblically-informed belief, confronting sin, working through a conflict, or sharing tough news – commit to daily prayer leading up to your tough talk.

 

Show up with God unguarded.

 

Read the Psalms and see how David exposed his messy heart to God in prayer. Doing this with friends is unproductive and sometimes sinful. Doing it with God is life-altering. Admit your anger, envy, self-righteousness, fear, or even your lack of faith that the conversation will make any difference. Receive His forgiveness and correction, knowing we all must keep growing until we are home with Him.

Keep the Word of God open before you and read several passages that pertain to the topic of your conversation or about what God expects of our words (such as James 1:19-25 or James 4:13-18). Confess thoughts or emotions that are not in line with God’s expectations for believers. Then pray those Scriptures for the person with whom you hope to speak.

 

Ask for God’s wisdom and then believe He’ll provide it.

 

Ask for Him to clearly provide an opportunity to speak and then, watch for it. Be persistent in prayer and see what God will do when you take the risk of engaging in an uncomfortable conversation to speak His truth into someone’s life.

Too often, I think everything there is to know about a situation is what I can see. Prayer reminds me there is an entire dimension – the spiritual realm – that is at work. It’s strengthening, encouraging, and informing when I connect with that dimension in prayer before I engage in conversation – hard or otherwise.

Do you want your next hard conversation to be effective? Show up for the first hard conversation by praying and inviting God into a tough talk with you. Then, watch how the adventure unfolds.

Lori RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

 

 

To enter for an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations, simply leave a comment below. A winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, March 3rd. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day in the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

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