Tiny House Tuesday // Her First Snow

Okay, so it was more of an ice event. Still, it was a milestone for the Tiny House on the Hill.

Tiny House on the Hill Snow Pics

 

In 2018, we’ve seen her bare naked, dressed in walls, and covered in wrap. But this is her first clothing of white. She wears it well, don’t you think?

Tiny House on the Hill's First Snow

Before the first line was drawn on the tiny house plans, my mind ventured into the future, imagining a space the size of a twin bed tucked within her walls. There, we pile in with the grandkids, blankets, and books to snuggle and watch snow fall outside the surrounding windows.

Perhaps this will come to fruition before winter folds into spring.

But today, the tiny house is bare and bone cold. Vacant walls can only dream of the Decembers to come, Lord willing.

So they dream.

She wears her finest hand-me-downs borrowed from Christmases long ago: Antique postcards clipped on cords, stretching from one end of the eight-foot window to the other, a silver pom-pom aluminum tree adorned in Shiny Brites and a pink vintage ceramic Christmas tree that casts a warm glow on God’s goodness.

 

Dreaming of future Decembers in the tiny house is a delight. But it’s the honor held in the here-and-now that holds my attention.

 

On this day, I join in the silence and wonder of the season as I’m reminded of another small space that once stood vacant. It didn’t hold dreams. It held my Deliverer⏤and yours. One who traded splendor for skin, bearing our sins, and equipping us to move beyond simple dreams that we might embrace a new reality, Christ in us.

“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis

Christmas 2018

 

Merry Christmas from the Tiny House on the Hill!

In celebration of the first snow, I picked up this “dashing” Starbucks gift card. Who couldn’t use a warm cup of coffee or tea this season? Simply leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Thank you for being a part of this *tiny* journey. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us all in 2019. Blessings!

 

 

20 Simple Ways to Offer the Love of Christ this Christmas + Starbucks Giveaway

christmas gifts

My paternal grandmother, Alberta Scott, aka Ma-ma, crafted the art of memory-making.

Every December certain things took place in her home. The smooth sounds of Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis spun on the console upstairs while boiled custard simmered on the stove. A twelve-inch ball of Styrofoam decked out in olive-green velvet hung over the same doorway for as long as I can remember. And the gold pedestal candy dish in the living room was emptied of common candy in favor of peppermints.

Ma-ma made Christmas special for everyone who walked through her door. But she didn’t stop there. Every year, she loaded her Buick with homemade pound cakes, fudge, and spritzer cookies, making her rounds to those who were home-bound, lonely, and sick. Even as a little girl, I remember thinking how I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

 

Her gestures were simple but meaningful.

 

She taught me that sharing the love of Christ, especially at Christmas, is a privilege that no jolly red-coated gift deliverer could possibly match.

Over the years, I’ve tried creating ideas that worked for our family. Below are some of those ways. I’d love to read yours in the comment box!

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16 ESV

Offering the love of Christ at Christmas

  1. As you receive Christmas cards in the mail, place them in a bowl in the center of your table. Pick a card each night and pray for that family.
  2. Before your fluffy socks hit the floor each morning, ask God to help you be attentive to the divine opportunities He has for you that day. Maybe you will be the only patient person in line behind the woman who plops 20 items down in a 10 item lane. Or, the only person that shows restraint, refusing to honk at the woman who robbed you of a green light because she was too busy reading her phone. Deep breath Cathy, deep breath.
  3. Not only come to a complete stop for pedestrians but smile at them. It’s a nice way to let them know they’re not an intrusion on your day and that they are worthy of your time.
  4. Go beyond what’s expected when you hear the bell ring near a favorite store. Buy a bottle of water or a hot cup of cocoa for the person who is willing to brave the weather to raise money for those in need. If you really want to make their day, take their order for a nearby coffee shop or restaurant. The smile you receive will be the brightest gift you’ll open this season.
  5. Family activity: Bundle up, grab a basket and head outdoors to find objects in nature for a holiday centerpiece. As you walk, consider pointing out the details of God’s magnificent handiwork. When you return home, place a large white candle in the center, sharing how Christ is the true Light, the Light of all mankind (read John 1). Capturing ordinary moments for God’s glory releases extraordinary possibilities.
  6. Celebrate Advent as a family. It begins December 2nd and ends December 24th. Advent – A Countdown to Christmas, by Focus on the Family has several resources that are sure to help you get started.
  7. Give the gift of song. Gather friends for cocoa and go caroling! Hand out peppermint canes with tags that read, Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)
  8. Exchange busy for being. For a few minutes each day, be intentionally still and quiet as you meditate on Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.
  9. Curl up with your favorite cup of tea and Christmas novella. After all, how can we serve others if we ourselves are depleted?
  10. Lend an ear⏤a listening one, that is. For those who are struggling with the season, be there. It’s not so much what you say as much as what you hear.
  11. Do you enjoy decorating? Take time to notice those around you who may have physical difficulties and unable to decorate a tree.
  12. Gift a day. If you know someone who became a widow in 2018, create a day for them. If they’re a single mom of young children, offer to watch the children. Or plan a day that doesn’t require money — hiking, festivals, or a church Christmas program.
  13. “Wrap gifts” for Jesus. I was a single mom when I celebrated my first Christmas as a Christ-follower. Throughout the month of December, I jotted down specific ways I was thankful for my new life, His promises, and blessings. Each one went on a different note card and under the spindly Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, after the boys had gone to their dad’s, I spent a quiet time unwrapping the gifts and saying each one aloud. It was a Christmas I’ll never forget. That’s what happens when one crosses over from darkness to light.
  14. Invite a lonely neighbor to dinner or dessert. The blessing doesn’t dwell in a dish but rather, the heart.
  15. Adopt a family with a deployed military parent. Being a single parent is never easy but this is especially so during the holidays.
  16. Write to someone who has especially blessed you this year. “More than kisses, letters mingle souls.” – John Donne. What would it mean to you to receive such a letter?
  17. Who couldn’t use a cup of coffee? Consider treating the person behind you in line. Not so long ago, I chose to forego a pay-it-backward moment because the woman seemed to have it all together. Why would a woman driving a BMW with impeccable style need a free coffee? (Must I reason everything out?) One divine tap. That’s all it took. God alone knows what’s going on in the heart of another.
  18. As you flick on your lights in December, let it remind you how Jesus is the Light of the World. He pierced your darkness and mine.
  19. Do you know someone who has lost a loved one in 2018? Consider gifting them an evergreen plant or tree. In the note, remind them that like the evergreen that retains color all year long, their love too will remain. Perhaps invite a few close friends and spend time sharing sweet memories of the person as you plant the tree together.
  20. Take a cue from the song Silent Night, Holy Night and turn off all TV’s, phones and laptops. Read a book, sing Christmas carols, work on a Christmas puzzle, or bake Christmas cookies for yourself and others.

{Download a PDF copy of the above list here.}

Every December, I peel open the tote that holds Ma-ma’s ball of styrofoam dressed in olive-green velvet and smile. Yes, the memories of childhood prompt it but it’s the blessing she brought to others that hold it.

Mustard Seed Moments

Watch for the next Tiny House Tuesday! It will be my only post during the month of December. I plan to enjoy my family, merge into a new church family, prepare my heart for Christmas, and down buckets of coffee. Speaking of which…

What’s one way you/your family reach out to others during the Christmas season? Or, is there an idea above you plan to try this season? Leave a comment and your name will be included in a random drawing for a $10.00 gift card from Starbucks!

**Subscribers! Be sure to check your inbox today. A full list of family ideas for the Christmas Jar is included in your Letter from the Tiny House on the Hill. 

 

Three Ways to Draw Close to God This Fall

Draw Near to God

I’m convinced that if there’s an eternal season in heaven, it’s Fall.

It’s also the perfect season for spending time outdoors, finding quiet spots, and rousing our senses, so let’s consider three ways we can draw closer to God in the coming weeks.

 

1. Engage Your Senses

 

October delivers the swiftest punch of the twelve, offering up a whole host of sensory delights:

Feel: Chilled heavy breezes, rough-hewn rake handles, warm scarves snug around the neck
Taste: Candy corn, pumpkin pie, cinnamon stirred apple cider, S’mores
See: Brilliant hues, baring limbs, roaring bonfires
Hear: Crispy leaves underfoot, banjos picking atop flatbed trailers at local festivals
Smell: Smouldering logs from dampened campfires, the rancid scent of ripening pecans on the tree

My book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains, was written with the mingling power of our senses and God in mind. It’s also perfect for a staycation. *wink*

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Mustard SeedTake note of your own sensory finds this fall. How can you “taste and see” that the LORD is good through each of your finds? 

Heavenly Father, awaken our senses to Your amazing creation as we go through our days this Fall. As we taste and see your goodness, may we be quick to give You all the glory. Draw us near. 

 

**Subscribers! Your October Monthly Letter should’ve landed in your inbox yesterday. In it, you’ll find your exclusive copy of Ten {Tiny} Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Autumn.

 

2. Spend Time Praying for Specific Things

 

What are you praying for these days? Maybe it’s for a person, a situation, or a whole laundry list of needs. Regardless, God hears you. Now add specificity and we’re given an opportunity to witness God’s awe-inspiring attention to detail in action.

 

One of those moments came for me one day while peering out our window. I’d not sensed His presence as much in recent weeks, even though I was confident He was there—whether I felt it or not. Nevertheless, like any daughter desiring to feel closer to her Father, I made a simple heartfelt request, Lord, I just want to know You’re near.

 

Before I caught my next breath, a brief blustery gust of wind swept through the trees closest to my window pane—without disturbing another tree in my yard.

 

To some, a ten-second gust of wind would simply appear as our season’s signature. And perhaps it was⏤but to me, at that moment, it was a reminder that He is that close.

 

Prayer is not monologued, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part. ~ Andrew Murray

 

Mustard SeedSet aside a night in October. Find a cozy corner, pour a cuppa Joe, and consider what one person or circumstance you can pray for specifically. Bonus points if you jot it down in a journal and watch expectantly for His answer.

 

Heavenly Father, I thank You that Your presence in our lives is never dependent on whether we feel like You are near, or not. As we seek to draw nearer to You, give us a holy boldness to pray specifically, trust fully, and watch in expectation. Amen.

 

3. Head Outdoors

 

October invites us to marvel at the artistic flair of our Creator the moment we step outdoors.

Consider for a moment how God could’ve surrounded us in a black and white existence. But instead, He gifted us with a kaleidoscope of colored leaves, bright-colored pumpkins, crisp red apples for the picking, and honey-brown fried apple pies with a light dusting of sugar. Oh wait, do those count?

I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. Isaiah 45:12

 

Mustard SeedTake a walk and focus on one masterpiece in nature. Note the intricate details⏤perhaps things you’ve never noticed before. Consider spending time with God, thanking Him for your find.

Heavenly Father, our hearts bend toward You in gratefulness for the many ways You lavish us with Your love, grace, and mercy. Help us not to pass by Your creative works without a worship-filled pause. 

 

So, which of the three “mustard seed moments” activities might you consider doing this month? 

 

But first! A tremendous thanks to everyone for the success of last week’s launch of the Tiny House on the Hill.

Watch for a NEW *tiny* inspired giveaway every Tuesday through October 16th.

Enter this week’s giveaway by sharing the NEW meme located on my Facebook page. You must tag me to be entered. If you’re a subscriber, you receive two entries for every share. *Because you’re awesome*

Journals

journal

 

5 Ways to Settle the Soul Before December Begins + A Free E-book Reminder!

Settle the Soul Now

I want it to be different than the year before⏤you know, the way I go about celebrating the Christmas season.

Every December begins the mad dash to buy gifts, decorate rooms, pick out a fresh Christmas tree, make never-ending grocery lists, mail invitations, start new traditions and bake favorite foods.

And yet, one thing I’ve learned this year is that if I don’t take a few minutes each day to move me closer to necessary changes, nothing happens⏤nothing changes.

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” – Albert Einstein

So, before the hoopla of the season hijacks the days of our December, let us consider small but specific ways to settle the soul and savor the beauty of our Savior.

 

Every Day in December

Step outside for five minutes.

 

Depending on our season in life, this may mean stepping out while little ones nap or watch a favorite Christmas movie. It may require a bundling process but we can do this. Inhale and take in all God has for you. Thank Him. May we see⏤really see⏤our surroundings and remember the humble beginning of our Savior.

Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Read and meditate.

 

If possible, read from your hard copy instead of the phone. Intentionally slow down to ponder God-breathed words as you listen to crisp vellum-thin pages turn one by one. Click here to access Daily December Scripture Readings if structure is your friend (we’re BFF’s, by the way!) Obviously, longer reads are ideal but if given the choice to glaze over a chapter or indulge in a hand-full of verses, I’ll choose the latter any day, especially in December.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. -Matthew 2:10

 

Savor a favorite cup of coffee or tea.

 

What does this have to do with settling the soul? On the mornings I choose the sip over the gulp, my day begins on a calmer note. Couple that time with reading scripture, and it becomes both calming and enlightening, for nothing is sweeter than conversing with my heavenly Father over a hot cup of brew. Sometimes I even pull up a nearby chair to remind myself that yes, His presence is that real.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” -John F. MacArthur

 

Play Christ-centered Christmas music.

 

I’m a huge Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mathis fan. Tears hit the brim line when I hear these artists at Christmas. Immediately, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s house where her stereo console turned all their albums upstairs while she crafted homemade fudge in the kitchen. Nowadays, we play a variety of music during the Christmas season but mostly our music consists of a few favorites. My absolute favorite artist is Michael Card. I’ve played several of his songs from The Promise in my bible studies throughout the years. A few other favorites are: Behold the Lamb by Andrew Peterson, City on a Hill: It’s Christmas Time by various artists and Windham Hill’s Christmas Solitude, which is instrumental. Its quiet notes quiets the heart. And a quiet heart is a receptive one.

O come, let us adore Him. (Based on Luke 2:15-16)

 

Light a Candle.

 

Before bedtime, light a Christmas candle. Marvel at its glow. Reflect on the warmth and the beauty discovered in the flickering light. Inhale and enjoy its fragrance. Close out your day by quietly worshipping the Light of the World who was born on a bed of straw that we might one day walk streets of gold.

I have come into the world as light so that no one who believes me need remain in the dark. – John 12:46

 

Is there one thing you would plan to change as you move through the days of December? If so, please share!

 

Settle My Soul

 

 

Christmas PausesSubscribers! Watch for your gift scheduled to arrive in your inbox tonight. This e-book offers Christ-centered celebration tips for each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

 

Not a subscriber yet? No problem! Add your email in the sidebar. You can unsubscribe anytime. 

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // 4 Ways to Never Lose Our Wonder

The wonder of God
 A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.
– Lord Dusany

 

In the city, the night sky felt like a backdrop. I knew it was there but I couldn’t see it for the street lights and gnarly oak trees growing nearby.

But here⎯in the country⎯a wide-open sky spreads out like a picnic blanket offering up its finest for all to see and enjoy. Smatterings of stars, planets, the big pizza pie-in-the-sky, and sometimes even meteor showers await. When I look up I can’t help but stand in awe of God’s majestic feast that He displays every night without fail.

The sky is obviously the same in both places but one is obscured by trees and city lights. Or was it just the trees and city lights obscuring my view? Rushing to get inside the house to unpack groceries, start projects, binge-watch the latest series on Netflix, and of course, perusing the internet can hinder the clearest of views.

Clearing the mental clutter and physical calendar makes way for wonder⎯being awestruck by the One who was struck for me, and for you.

Wonder

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide-eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King.
[first stanza]

Talk about a hymn of praise! Perhaps I gravitate to this song by Bethel Music because I know how easy it is for me to get distracted to the point that I forget to look up and all around me. “May we be just like a child, staring at the beauty of our King”. Oh, the power of child-like wonder. These simple lyrics reflect my heart cry, and maybe yours too.

Wonder-women, let's hold out our shields, refusing to let the temporary penetrate the eternal. Click To Tweet
So, how do we hold out our shields?

4 Ways to Never Lose Our Wonder

 

Stay in the Word of God.

How can our heart⎯the one that longs to be known⎯not be drawn closer to our heavenly Father when we read how He calls forth each starry host by name?

“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 NIV

Be intentional.

Wake up every morning with the intention to see the wonders of God at every turn. Watch for it in nature, in other people, and in the eyes of those we love. Set aside a few minutes each day to stop and see the wonder of God.

Keep a journal of wonder.

We’ve benefited from gratitude journals so what if we start journaling those moments when we’re awestruck by God?

Rub shoulders with other wonder-women.

Show me a grateful person rescued from the clutches of sin and I’ll show you a fellow wonder-woman. The woman at the well in John 4 came face-to-face with the One who knew her better than she knew herself. Her sin was confronted, but done so in love. She was offered Living Water that would flow new life through her veins for an eternity. I know how she felt in that moment when she saw love instead of condemnation in His eyes, except my setting was inside a duplex instead of beside a desert well. Our outcome was also similar for neither of our lives would ever be the same. The wonder of salvation spurred us on to share this love with others and to rub shoulders with other wonder-women, like you.

Physical sight is not necessary in order to grasp the beauty of God’s wonder (one need only know my friend Jamie to testify to this truth), but if we do have sight, look up, sweet friend! The sky testifies to His wonder tonight.


What has left you in awe of God this week?
 (Can I start? Hummingbirds. I could watch them for hours. God’s creative touch is awe-inspiring!)

 

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Heading to the Beach? Don’t Forget to Pack This {Or Gift It!}

Pauses small framedAre you or someone you know heading to the beach this Memorial Day weekend? Or do you have a day, weekend, or week circled on your summer calendar for days by the shore?

There’s no better time to pack my NEW release “Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach”. It’s a one-week devotional that includes your arrival and departure days. The book provides an opportunity for you (or your family) to pause each day to draw closer to the Lord through a brief devotion, Scripture reading, prayer, and sensory activity.

And if you know someone heading to the beach, consider giving them the book as a gift. {Did I mention it’s only 99 cents?} To do so, simply go to the Amazon page and you’ll see a “Give as a Gift” button in the right sidebar. You need only enter the recipient’s email address and it will show up on their device as a gift from you! {No Kindle? No worries! Amazon allows you to upload their FREE Kindle app to your laptop or phone here.}

In addition to packing my little book (more vacations coming soon!) here are several more items you may want to add (or check off) your own beach packing list:

 

Don’t Leave These Behind On Your Next Beach Trip:

Earbuds:

While it’s hard to compete with the lullaby rhythm of the waves crashing nearby, there are times I love to plug in my earbuds to my phone and zone out. My music list is all over the place. See for yourself:

  • Frank Sinatra – his songs remind me of my grandparents and the wonderful memories we made on the same very beach we now vacation.
  • Fleet Foxes – this indie band woos me with their masterful vocal harmonies.
  • Brandon Gilliam/River Crossings Worship Team – I’m especially proud that Brandon wrote some of the songs on this CD. Amazing!
  • David Crowder – just because.
  • Dusty Springfield {I warned you it was random}. One song: “What Are You Doing With The Rest Of Your Life”. I wasn’t even old enough to know this song when it was recorded but it hits a reset button of sorts when I listen to it one week a year.
Quality zip-top bags:

When you read through my book, you’ll see an opportunity to use these on the beach, but they’re also good to secure items like phones, books, foods — anything you don’t want to get wet. They’re also good for holding seashells and other memorable items you find on the beach.

Baking soda, vinegar, and Benadryl:

Years ago, our oldest son, Brandon, was stung by a jellyfish. Those cries are not what any mother wants to hear. Oh, the pain! We ran across the street to a marina and happened across an old fisherman who advised us to use vinegar (rinse) and baking soda (paste). Online sources can give you the exact details. As the old adage says, “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it”.

Protective cover wear:

I remember the days of squirting baby oil all over my arms and legs in hopes of gaining the perfect tan. Oh my, those were the days. But today, I slather on the Helioplex suntan lotion and often wear a cover-up as both my husband and I have experienced skin cancer scares. This is the one I’m purchasing today. It’s a UPF surf shirt that guards against the harmful rays. It will come handy at the beach as well as our pool. Bye, bye tan.

Patience:

It is cheap but not always easy to find. Nothing ruins a hard-earned vacation like stress. Cars will break down, the weather won’t cooperate, and the waiter will spill ketchup on your favorite gray and white pin-stripe shirt (was that too detailed?). Unfortunately, mishaps don’t take a vacation but packing this virtue in your heart before you leave home helps everyone to have a memorable vacation⎯for all the right reasons.

God:

I know, we don’t take God with us on vacation, we go with Him. I actually write about this on Lori Roeleveld’s award-winning blog this week. Come, join us there.

 

I’m praying now that you and your family will enjoy a time of rest and relaxation away this summer. Soak up the rest God provides and bask in His goodness.

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul

Click to Order (or Gift to A Beach-Bound Buddy!)

 

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