Engage Your Five Senses this Winter and Behold the Wonders of God

Engaging our five senses opens us to moments of wonder we might otherwise miss.

 

“God has strewn our paths with wonders and we certainly should not go through life without seeing them.” Alexander Graham Bell

 

An eight-foot-long window on the north side of the tiny house faces mountain ranges skirted in native trees. Just a glimpse of the majestic peaks stirs this heart to wonder.

And then there’s the joyful chirping heard from nearby Robins as they swoop down in search of late-bearing fruit. Birds, in general, remind me of God’s care.

 

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26

 

But to hear their chirping praises to the Lord reminds me to be joyful and content with His provisions.

 

Pausing to celebrate even the tiniest of God’s wonders, prompts our heart to worship throughout the day.

 

Perhaps winter is the ideal season to cultivate the art of slowing down long enough to take note of God at work around us?

It begins with prayer.

 

A prayer for our five senses to bring God glory

 

And heightening our awareness of God’s wonders may also require practice.

“Great are the works of the LORD, they are pondered by all who delight in them.” Psalm 111:2

Below is a list of fun observations made over the past couple of weeks. It’s a simple way to train the brain in becoming more intentional to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste the wonders of God. What will you notice this week?

 

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See:

  • Red cardinals on bare branches. Bright spots among the bleak.
  • Forgotten homes, abandoned buildings, and barns normally hidden behind foliage. What stories did they once hold?
  • Here in the south, the blessing comes in what we don’t see…mosquitoes. That reason alone is cause for praise!
  • Words, sentences, and paragraphs. Reading while curled up beneath a chunky knit blanket and hugging a warm cup of tea = a perfect winter oasis. (Here’s what I’m reading now. And let’s just say she’s found a life-long fan in me.)

Hear:

  • Squeals of joy from nearby slopes as children slide on sleds.
  • The hefty crunch of boots when stepping on frozen ground.
  • Zipping up heavy coats.
  • Puzzle pieces snapping into place.
  • Snow-fall silence. A glorious deafening indeed.
  • Tiny crackles of static when removing toboggans.
  • A whistling tea kettle, assuring us of a soon-to-be pause.
  • Thumps of wood being tossed into the fireplace.

Touch:

  • Blankets – heavy but soft, combining to bring warmth and comfort.
  • Heated car seats. Need I say more?
  • Smoother hair – fewer frizzies thanks to the lower humidity.
  • Snow – a wintry delight (for those of us in the south), possessing the power to transform grown adults into giddy ten-year-olds.

Smell:

  • Propane (gas logs).
  • The sharp scent of cedar when split for kindling.
  • Candles with the rich fragrances of fir, evergreens, and spices.
  • Lemon, frankincense, and eucalyptus essential oils misting the room to help keep everyone healthy.
  • Freshly-washed flannel sheets that hold a hint of Downy.

Taste:

  • Snow cream! Fresh snow, pure vanilla, and cane sugar (blended with memories of my grandmother making it for me) creates the sweetest of concoctions.
  • of Spring…when bright crocuses emerge and ole-timey Witch Hazel shrubs blossom the color of sunshine.
  • Hot cocoa made with whole milk, topped with puffs of chalky white goodness.
  • Homemade soup, like this family Chicken Noodle recipe. 

Want to become more intentional in noticing the details this week? Here’s a handy guide created just for you!

 

What winter observation sparks your spirit to praise the wonders of God?

 

 

 

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We’re women who love Jesus and desire to encourage and be encouraged through biblical fellowship.

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We’re women who believe in the power of intentional holy pauses in our day. We’d love for you to join us and share the group with your friends!

 

* **If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy “Engaging Our Five Senses this Spring 2020”.

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

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

Engaging Our Five Senses this Spring!

Never was Spring more welcomed than this past March.

Longer lit days, the promise that when one season closes, another will open.

I wonder if we’ll notice more this spring as we work, play, and do school from home. If the necessary pause in our society will heighten our awareness to God’s goodness in ways we all experience — salvation, biblical community, a baby’s birth, nature — as well as the way He personally ministers to us through His Word, prayer, and even our God-given senses.

My hope is that we don’t see the following only as a list to check off or something to look for, but also, opportunities to praise our Maker.

 

This is one way we slow our soul down to a holy pace.

 

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What We See:

  • Leaves unfolding from a long winter’s nap.
  • Daffodils and other memory-making flowers. (It’s hard to pass a patch of these tiny trumpets without thinking of my grandmother. She loved old-timey varieties that held a touch of sweetness.)
  • Song Birds gathering twigs, mud, and feathers for their nests.
  • Kites catching spring winds and riding them across the sky.

 

What We Hear:

  • Bird songs, especially early in the morning before their day begins. “In the trees nearby, the birds make their nests and sing.” Psalm 104:12 GNT
  • Lawnmowers (and if you have four acres, you’ll hear it for hours).
  • A personal concert created by wind chimes stirring to rhythmic winds.
  • Collisions of unstable air, moisture, and lifting in the atmosphere, producing spring storms that hold the power to jolt us from our bed. And on those days you might enjoy “Engaging Your Five Senses on a Rainy Day.”

 

What We Smell:

  • The sharp, distinct scent of a freshly mowed lawn.
  • A musky mingling of soil and air when the shovel turns its first scoop onto the ground. It’s the fragrance of spring!
  • The savory fragrance of meat on a grill.
  • A clean home, but not perfectly so. A comfortable home creates a sweet fragrance that lingers long after any cleaning product is gone.
  • Spring flowers, heavy with the scent of victory, for they survived the winter.

 

What We Touch:

  • Tufts of green moss carpeting the woods nearby.
  • Sandals instead of boots. Light sweaters, not heavy. Bye, bye bulky.
  • Spring breezes that scoot through open windows.
  • Pool water, because we want to believe it’s warm enough for a swim.
  • Feathery fern fronds, lacy Japanese Maples, bristly pine needles, and smoothly textured leaves.

 

What We Taste:

  • What have we not tasted during this quarantine? Sweet mercy!
  • Strawberries (Subscribers, watch your inbox today for a simple, old-timey Strawberry Pound Cake recipe from my namesake, Catherine Edwards. Did I mention there’s icing involved?)
  • Fresh produce. Now’s a great time to support our local farmers.
  • Is it safe to say we could be tasting a bit of loneliness? Being apart from those we love, our church gatherings, and perhaps even from the loss of normalcy. It’s okay, you’re not alone. But distance doesn’t have to distance us where it matters.
  • God’s goodness. Every moment, every day. Memorizing a Scripture verse is one of the most powerful ways to engage our season, both in spring and life. Click here to download spring-inspired verses.

 

“This is what the LORD says⏤he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, the poplar trees by flowing streams.” (Isaiah 44:1-4)

 

So tell me, what’s your favorite part of spring?

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Thank you for stopping by! I hope you’ll decide to stay awhile. If you’d like to become a part of the community, simply type your e-address in the righthand sidebar. >>>> Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy days, and once a month, you’ll also receive a newsletter chock-full of the latest happenings in the Tiny House on the Hill, along with ideas on ways we can draw near to God and love others well.

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

 

5 Ways to Prepare Our Soul for December and a Christmas Gift for You!

 

I know, I know. Here I am mentioning Christmas and we’ve not even carved a turkey yet.

But there’s a good reason, maybe two. In last week’s Tiny House Tuesday, I shared how this would likely be the final 2019 post due to dad’s recent surgery. {Thank you for your prayers. He continues to recover well.}

Also, despite the desire to create “Silent Night” December days, the real soundtrack that plays for many of us sounds more like the song Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. But it’s not the reindeer that runs us slap over. It’s the shopping, the list of to-do’s, the baking⏤the parties that extroverts enjoy and introverts survive.

So let’s decide now⏤before the traveling, the turkey, and the rush to buy maximum-strength Tums⏤to prepare our soul for the celebration of Christ with holy intent, refusing to allow circumstances to decide for us:

 

Preparing My Soul Through Prayer

Before animals go into hibernation, they prepare a safe place to lessen the chances of being ambushed by other animals. Many of us shift into a whole other gear during the holiday season. It’s almost as if November and December deserve a separate calendar. Starbucks Chestnut Praline holiday drinks pack on the pounds, while the checking account quickly disintegrates beneath the weight of the Amazon delivery truck. In our “hibernated” state, we can become easy prey, leaving us vulnerable for a cultural ambush.

But prayer protects our holy intentions to stay focused on Christ by purposefully shifting our gaze heavenward, gaining clarity we do not naturally possess.

“Remember, our prayers do not need to be long. Sometimes a word or two will suffice.”    — David Jeremiah

 

Preparing My Soul Through the Celebration of Advent

The word Advent comes from a Latin word that means “coming.” It’s a 4-week celebration that captures our longing to celebrate the first arrival of Jesus, as well as the Second. Advent can be celebrated in several ways⏤calendars, Advent displays with 25 drawers or pockets to fill, devotionals, etc.

This year, I’m reading Walter Wangerin’s Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas, and the Kingdom. (The Kindle version is 2.99). Up until now, I celebrated Advent quietly and privately. But this year, through my church, small group, and my children, I learned the beauty of biblical community. I still have a lot of room for growth, but more on that in 2020.

For now, I hope you will join me on Instagram beginning December 1st as I plan to celebrate Advent through scripture, prayers, prompts, and poetry each day leading up to Christmas. It’s one way we can pause to celebrate our glorious Christ together. {Each day will also include a *tiny* snapshot of Christmas at the Tiny House on the Hill.}

“God is coming! God is coming! All the elements we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?”  — Walter Wangerin

 

Preparing My Soul By Planning Wisely

Before Thanksgiving (ideally), set aside a few minutes to gather your people and pull out the calendar. Decide what you’ll say yes to and what you’ll decline⏤guilt-free. You may not know which parties or events you’ll be invited to in December, but you can determine the number of events you want to occupy your family calendar. Jot down a few traditions you enjoy as a family and refuse to budge for they are the builder of memories that will last a lifetime.

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 

Preparing My Soul in Song

Our turntable rarely stops spinning during the Christmas season. I play Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Mathis because it reminds me of cooking in the kitchen with my grandmother while her stereo spun these crooners in the background.

But nothing stirs this soul like Michael Card’s The Promise and Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb. One can’t help but sing when Word-immersed lyrics grab hold of both heart and mind.

“The Savior has rescued us that we might sing the song of the redeemed. May we sing it well. May we sing it constantly. May we sing it passionately. May we sing it for his glory and the advancing of his gospel until the time comes when our songs will never end.”  — Bob Kauflin

 

Preparing My Soul in the Pause

When we choose to pause, to slow down and consider our days, we’re able to see unique opportunities to celebrate and share the love of Christ during this particular season. To help in this effort, subscribers (or as I like to say, “our *tiny* community), will receive an easy-to-print download called KEEPING CHRISTMAS.

Here are four possibilities for using this resource:

(1)  Read the daily entry that includes a scripture verse and the simple but meaningful way to make Christ known that day.

(2)  Read the few words of scripture beside each Sunday and meditate on them throughout the week.

(3) Do both!

(4)  Print all three pages and cut each day into daily slips, using them as inserts for your Advent calendar.

 

If you’re not yet a part of the community, come on in and take a seat. We hope you’ll make yourself right at home in the Tiny House on the Hill.

In addition to KEEPING CHRISTMAS, you’ll also receive a PRIVATE VIDEO CHRISTMAS TOUR  of the Tiny House on the Hill!

Hop over to the sidebar and you’ll find a space at the top eagerly awaiting your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time. If you’re already part of the community {thank you!}, watch for your link in today’s Monthly Letter.

Now that the tiny studio build is coming to completion, watch for exciting opportunities coming our way in 2020! But for now, I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram and join in the Advent celebration beginning Sunday, December 1st.

 

“Awake, my soul!” Psalm 57:8

I pray this Thanksgiving and Christmas season will offer sweet opportunities to bless others, glorify God, and hold our families a little tighter than normal.

 

The Night This Titus 2 Woman Hosted a Tea Party

Tea Party

 

 

Remember this eavesdropping story that took place in a North Carolina café?

 

“Our generation needs women like you to pour into us.”

 

These words, from the lips of an eighteen-year-old woman, continue to flow through my mind as smoothly as the coffee tasted that morning.

Several weeks following my cafe encounter, Brian and I hosted our first small group from our new church. We were told ahead of time that the majority of the group consisted of college students.

I felt a rush of excitement over the opportunity to meet these young women but it didn’t take long for insecurities to rise and take their place. You didn’t attend college, so what could you possibly offer these young women? Why would they care what you have to say? Why are you in this group anyway?

All this while trying to rescue a dozen chocolate chip cookies from our gas-fired oven. But before they had time to cool, the college students, mostly female, began filing through our back door, two-by-two.

 

And I did what any good southerner would do—I hugged the puddin’ out of them.

 

We ate, drank hot tea, laughed, shared, studied and prayed that night. My insecurities fell like scales from my eyes. Like Saul, I was able to see—really see. The connection between “the girls” and I had nothing to do with me, my strengths, and especially my weaknesses.

 

I put my insecurities back in their place⏤at the foot of the cross.

 

It’s not about what I have or don’t have to offer. It’s about what God has to offer through me.

 

A few weeks after our first meeting, I asked the girls if they might be interested in coming over for a little tea party. “Will there be sugar cubes?” one asked. Why oh my, yes!

Because Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, it soon evolved into a bona fide Valentine’s Day Tea Party.

Valentine Tea table setting

Because I was expecting twelve and my great-aunt’s Apple Blossom china plates only counted to eight, I ordered a stack of ornately trimmed plates decked out in peachy-pink from Amazon. They come in an array of gorgeous colors and they were the perfect fit for both the table and my budget.

The love of my great-aunt, who purchased a piece of this china with every paycheck, was present through the use of these treasured teacups and saucers. (Did I mention she purchased these pieces for me even though I was a baby at the time?)

Valentine Tea Cupcakes

I found these individual cupcake holders in the Target dollar bin, along with the larger pedestal platter that held vanilla doozies wrapped in sprinkles. On each pedestal, a light pink gauzy ribbon was attached, even though they’re barely visible in the picture.

Valentine Tea Gold Hearts

After we munched on scones and sandwiches between sips of tea, I passed around this heart-shaped basket. Inside were hearts, one side gold, and the other paper, with a handwritten verse about God’s love.

Valentine Tea Candles

We closed out our evening together by taking turns lighting hand-held candles. After each candle caught flame, the gold heart was flipped over and the verse was read aloud. It was a sweet time of worship.

Valentine Tea group

My girls. Beautiful, inside and out.

Valentine Tea Gift Bag

Before leaving, they picked up this little bag filled with a Starbucks gift card, colorful gumballs individually wrapped, and chocolate kisses dressed in Valentine colors.

Looking back, I believe God began preparing my heart that morning in the North Carolina cafe. I could’ve never known that within a few months, the road would lead to my celebrating God’s love with a group of young women who’ve stolen my heart.

 

Like all stories penned by God, beauty unravels at every turn.

 

Is there some area in life where you’re holding back because of your insecurities? I’d love to pray for you. Private message, email, or leave your request in the comment section.

Which part of the tea party is your favorite? Do share!

 

 

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul

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