Tiny House Tuesday // When Two Littles Love a Little Loft

Tiny House Tuesday

The littles love their tiny loft, and maybe the reading nook too.

When Sarah, my daughter-in-law, created these signs last summer I never imagined it would be over a year before two of our six grandchildren had a place to hold them up. Though the nook and loft are not completely finished, the end is finally in sight and as happy as I am, Brian is even happier.

 

The Reading Nook

 

Tiny House Reading Nook

 

Initially, I planned for the reading nook to be the size of a full mattress and closed off, in hopes of giving it a quiet, cozy feel. It didn’t take long, however, to realize that the eight-foot-long window/desk would barely squeeze into the remaining space so we switched the size to a twin. I was disappointed, but the tiny house was created mainly for writing, so I begrudgingly agreed with reality and here we are.

As I played with the idea of closing off this tiny twin nook, I came across a picture in Cottage Living that reminded me of the second-story sleeping porch in Thomas Wolfe’s home, located in Asheville, NC. Its surrounding walls, consisting mainly of windows, make for an airy, bright, and downright dreamy space.

So we decided to make an interior “window” that matched the other three inside the nook. Now, natural light shines through, lending an open feel to the entire tiny house. It may not feel quite as cozy but I figure the stack of vintage chenille spreads, fluffy back pillows, and a copy of Look Homeward, Angel in the corner will help readers feel right at home.

 

 

The Littles’ Loft

As an eight-year-old, I dreamed of creating a tiny space in my grandparent’s attic. It was a hidden world above their single-storied home, accessed only by a string that dangled from the door on the ceiling.

The rectangular-shaped attic was bookended by windows. On one side, an iron rod holding vintage dresses coffined in garment bags stretched for what seemed like miles. Brightly colored polyester pieces peeked out from their plastic as if to beg for attention.

On the other side, boxes housed Christmas for eleven months of the year. Grandmother and Granddaddy focused on family instead of fanfare, reflected in the content of the containers that held their decorations, and my memories.

Like the attic in their home, our littles’ loft in the tiny house will be accessible by narrow slats of wood that climb twice as high as their heads. Strategically placed bars across the front, a couple of bean bags, and a comfy throw rug will offer a nice spot to read, play games, or hide Hatchables.

 

Tiny House Play Loft

 

While their tiny “hidden world above” won’t hold vintage dresses or Christmas storage, it will hold the potential to create memories they’ll not soon forget.

Yes, the loft and reading nook are tiny, but if my grandparents’ pocket-sized home taught me anything, it’s that the size of a home doesn’t determine the amount of love it can hold.

 

So, I’d love to know… what book would you bring to read in the tiny reading nook?

 

Because gratitude begins when we take notice.

Download your fall calendars today! They include a daily gratitude prompt {that you might not expect!} and they’re perfect for the fridge, your bedside table, or near your coffee pot, where you’re sure to see it every morning.

It’s one small but meaningful way of showing my gratitude for your desire to be a part of this *tiny* community. Simply type your email address in the “Come On In” section at the top of the sidebar box and you’ll receive my monthly letter from the Tiny House on the Hill, a couple of posts each month, and access to this gift as well as all past gifts. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you for stopping by today!

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)

 

 

 

On Tiny Houses and Writing Books // Guest Post by Kim Harms & Giveaway!

 

I remember the first time I “met” Kim Harms.

I’d read her posts on Inspire a Fire and was an instant fan. So when she left a comment on one of my Inspire posts, I was tickled pink, and truly touched. Her words came at a crucial point in my writing life. Kim didn’t know this, but God did. Over the years, our friendship has grown, as has my respect.

Welcome to the Tiny House on the Hill.

By: Kim Harms

I had two years of elementary education classes behind me the first time I stepped foot in an actual elementary classroom with real children. It took me all of 30 seconds to realize that teaching kids was not for me.

Seeking direction, I took an aptitude and interest survey at a local business college. When a school counselor sat down with me to go over the results, she said these words. “I have never said this to anyone who’s taken this survey before, but you don’t belong at our school.”

 

A Turning Point

 

Those words were a turning point in my life. Knowing that I wasn’t suited for teaching or for business, I took some time to consider what I was passionate about.

Words. Words are my passion. I read three books at a time, and I have boxes of journals dating back to fourth grade. I wrote for my high school newspaper. I was on the yearbook staff. My first poem was published when I was fourteen. But I had never before considered trying to turn my passion into a career. Until now.

I stayed at ISU and changed my major to English: Literary Studies (basically a creative writing degree) and I started taking journalism classes as well. I loved it. I found the little corner of the world that I was made for. I allowed myself to dream about writing for newspapers and magazines. And someday, the dream of all dreams, maybe I’d even write a book.

I did become a newspaper reporter, and I found some success writing for magazines too, but the book thing was elusive for a long time. I didn’t try to push it. I didn’t even know what I would write a book about, but the dream always remained.

 

Praying for Direction

 

In 2015, I started praying that God would give me a clear direction for my writing, whether that was as a reporter or an author or both. For a whole year, I prayed.

 

And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

Prayers for direction ceased as I started praying for my life. Lord, will I live to see my boys graduate? Who will find all the missing earbuds if I’m gone? Who will scratch the boy’s backs at bedtime? Who will make cookie dough for family movie night? A barrage of heavy thoughts weighed me down at first, but I made it to the other side cancer-free.

I had both of my breasts removed and walked the bizarre world of breast reconstruction. I dealt with the physical, emotional and psychological toll that it all took on me.

 

It was a very very hard thing, but God never promised me a life of ease.

 

I also found that direction I’d been praying for. I recently signed a contract with Familius Publishing for my first book, tentatively titled Life Reconstructed: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Mastectomies and Breast Reconstruction. A book that wouldn’t have happened without a cancer detour.

 

The Gift of a Tiny House

 

And that brings me to my tiny house.

One year to the day after receiving a cancer diagnosis, God gave me the keys to an amazing (albeit, seriously in the need of updating) house on 1.5 wooded acres smack-dab in the middle of our little town. (You can read that story here).

 

I’d have been content with the woods and the house, but it came with a bonus.

 

A tiny cabin nestled in the trees by a ravine. The interior was unfinished, and I figured it would probably stay that way for a long while. But my hubby loves me so much that he made it one of our first projects. In his free time, he insulated it, added a propane heater, installed flooring, and paneled the walls. And I adore it because tiny houses are just the cutest thing. But I adore it even more because Corey finished it for me specifically so I would have a quiet writing space.

Prior to the cabin, I didn’t have a dedicated place to write. My book proposal came together at my kitchen table, on my couch, and at a booth in Panera. Those places are okay, and sometimes I still head to Panera because their cranberry orange muffins are amazing. But this cabin? Wow.

Kim's Tiny House

 

Right now, I’m sitting at a little table surrounded by trees and a meandering creek. It’s a gift. An amazingly wonderful gift. I don’t deserve it. I did nothing to earn it. God in his loving-kindness blessed my family with a property that includes a tiny cabin. And my hubby, in his loving-kindness blessed me by transforming it into a writing retreat.

 

God is good. And he gave me a good man.

 

I have a lot of writing to get done at this little table. My first draft is due in January. It’s equally exhilarating and terrifying to think of all that needs to happen to get this book from my brain to someone’s nightstand. But when I’m overwhelmed by this monster task, all I have to do is look out my tiny house window to be reminded of the God who loves to provide for his children and the husband who believes in me more than I believe in myself.

 

Kim’s Gift to You!

A beautiful journal and bookmark. Thank you for loving on our *tiny* community, Kim.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment sharing where you most enjoy reading and/or writing!

 

 

Kim Harms is a writer and speaker currently under contract with Familius Publishing for her first book, tentatively titled Life Reconstructed: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction. Harms has a degree in English: Literary Studies from Iowa State University and has written for a variety of publications including Today’s Christian Woman, CT Women, Creation Illustrated and Guideposts. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and writes about her Life Reconstructed at kimharms.net. She can also be found on Instagram @kimharmslifereconstructed and on Facebook. Central Iowa is home, and she lives there with her husband Corey and their three ever-growing man-children.

 

65 Specific Ways to Spot God’s Gifts this Fall + Moleskine Giveaway

God’s gifts surround us at every turn, but gratitude begins when we take notice.

 

September is an in-between kind of month. You know, the month that loosens its grip on summer with one arm and stretches to meet fall with the other.

Depending on where you live, it’s a toss-up deciding whether to stow away summer shorts or pull down the oversized, fluffy sweaters from the attic. This decision, however, requires no tossing on my part. {Oversized for the win!} Crisp breezes, bonfires, and sweater necks that crest my chin can’t come soon enough for me.

 

But in my rush to get to October, it’s easy to use September as a mere stepping stone.

 

I’m still learning how life is to be savored like a steamy cup of hot tea, and not guzzled down like a thirty-ounce Big Gulp from 7-11. Slowing down long enough to notice people, beauty, and the gifts God places in my life.

 

Gratitude begins when we take notice.

 

Those six words have greeted me most mornings over the past several weeks. With them in mind, I began taking the initiative to observe God’s gifts in the here-and-now rather than wait for a specific prayer time to consider my blessings.

Most nights before bedtime, I jot down one gift from God I noticed that day. This simple but intentional act heightens my awareness of God’s gifts and increases my gratefulness in unexpected ways:

  • “Thank You, God” is whispered (and sometimes shouted) throughout the day.
  • My appreciation for God’s love and care through creativity continues to increase. God could’ve chosen to give us a bland existence. Instead, He filled it with vivid colors, scents that breed nostalgia, and sounds that are sweet to our ears.
  • I feel more content. Kind of a throwback to Cindy Morgan’s song in the early ’90s, “How Could I Ask for More?”

 

Intentionality dares complacency to get in the way of giving God glory.

 

With this same intentionality, I’ve been working for several weeks on the NEW Fall 2019 gift for subscribers, Spot God’s Gifts Every Day, based on James 1:17:

 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above.” [emphasis mine]

 

 

Spot God’s Gifts Every Day includes three individual weekday calendars with a daily gift to spot during this beautiful season, September-November. They’re pretty, easy to print (8-1/2″ x 11″), and perfect for the fridge or bedside table. Or tape it to the interior cabinet door that holds one of morning’s most precious gifts, the coffee mugs (which didn’t make the cut but is appreciated nonetheless.)

One of my favorites in this gift — FIREFLIES: God’s living glints of light buzz only a little longer during these final nights of summer.

I hope you enjoy this latest gift from The Tiny House on the Hill. Even more, I pray God will use it stir gratitude to the point of praise throughout our days.

 

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  G.K. Chesterton

 

{To assist in jotting down your own gift spotting, I’m giving away a set of two mini-pocket Moleskine journals. Simply leave a comment sharing one gift from God you’ve spotted today!}

When you subscribe to become a part of this *tiny* community, you’re simply saying, I believe God is putting the gospel on display through this ministry and I want to be a part of what He is doing here.

Members of The Tiny House on the Hill community receive 2-3 blog posts in their inbox each month, and a monthly letter that can include:

  • Creative ideas for connecting with God and others.
  • Exclusive download gifts to enjoy.
  • Behind-the-scenes pictures/videos of the progress on the tiny house.
  • First-to-know updates on my books, guest posts, and articles.
  • A fun monthly giveaway and more!

What’s not to love? *smile*

It’s easy! Type your email address in the sidebar to claim your Spot God’s Gifts Every Day calendars, as well as access to other freebie resources as my way of saying thank you.

So, what’s one gift you’ve already spotted today?

 

 

Need Direction? Gather Co-Listeners + A Next Right Thing Giveaway!

Becoming a Worthy Listener

“Gather Co-Listeners” is one of my favorite chapters in Emily P. Freeman’s latest book, The Next Right Thing.

In it, Emily shares how, in the midst of transition and all the questions that came with it, she and her husband invited a few trusted friends in different stages of life to simply listen to their words and see what they had to say. Although they weren’t asking for advice, they were open to it.

She says, “We wanted people we loved and trusted to hear what we were saying, to see if there was something obvious we were missing, and to be with us in the midst of our uncertainty.”

Their friends listened, asked questions, and prayed for them. They even agreed to do it again a few months later. Emily goes on to share how God used their community of co-listeners to eventually help make her husband’s next step clear. They didn’t sit around complaining about how people weren’t showing up in their time of need. Instead, Emily and her husband prayerfully and intentionally sought out co-listeners to join them on their journey.

She shares more details in her FABulous book, so while you wait for your copy to arrive (or possibly win one here!), here are three simple things Emily suggests you keep in mind if gathering your own group of co-listeners:

  • “One, do it on purpose. …There’s something powerful about gathering people specifically for the purpose of listening, asking questions, and reflecting.”
  • “Two, the co-listeners don’t have to know one another, but they all need to know you well.”
  • “Finally, you have to ask them.”

Brian and I have shared in a small setting, but I can’t say we’ve ever intentionally invited others over to simply listen. That might just be our next right thing! Thanks, Emily.

 

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Becoming a Worthy Co-Listener

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” – Karl A. Menninger

 

Think back to the last time you felt listened to — How did it make you feel?

  • Understood?
  • Loved?
  • Connected?
  • Relieved?
  • Healed?

Chances are your listener possessed one or all of these fundamental elements:

 

A Godly Motivation

 

Several years ago when Brandon, our oldest son, and his new bride, Megan, called to ask if they could come over for a few minutes, we knew something was up. Turns out, he was offered a position as a worship pastor in Ohio. You know, the eight-hours-away-Ohio.

At that moment, my flesh wanted to cry out, “No, please don’t leave!” but quietly below the chaotic flesh was the remembrance of inked lines in my prayer journal where I often asked God to use our boys for His glory. Although this mama’s heart struggled, trying to hold on for all the wrong reasons was not going to happen.

{I wish I always listened with two ears and a heart bent toward heaven, but I don’t.}

So before agreeing to be a co-listener in any setting, maybe we would be wise to ask God to search our hearts first.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23, 24

If we find ourselves waiting for the person to hurry and finish up so we can one-up her, or tell her about our experience (that we thought of while she was sharing), or give advice based on anything but God’s truth, we may want to stay here for a while and soak.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV

 

Spiritual Maturity in Action

 

Since joining our church last year, I’m reminded of how spiritual maturity has little to do with age. Our small group consists mostly of young couples and college-aged students. I marvel at their wisdom and knowledge of the Word. But I’m especially inspired by the tenacity in which they seek to grow in their faith.

Speaking the truth in love, birthed from a godly motivation, benefits the body of Christ, whether we co-listen in a group setting or over a lavender latte in the local cafe. *wink*

Rather, speaking truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… Ephesians 4:15

 

Embrace the Ministry of Listening

 

“Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I’d never considered listening as a ministry, but it’s true, isn’t it? When we listen well, we make ourselves available to share in the work of Christ, lending the ears of God and the power of the Word to those who seek it.

 

So much of Emily’s book has inspired me to reclaim forgotten truths, like the beauty discovered in a listening ear.

The Next Right Thing

If you would like to have an opportunity to win a copy of **The Next Right Thing, by Emily P. Freeman, simply share one way you would like to improve your listening skills in the comment section below.

**This is an affiliate link which means if you purchase this book by clicking the link above, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. {Savin’ for that latte!}

Soli Deo Gloria! (Glory to God Alone)

{Tiny House on the Hill subscribers: Be sure to check your inbox tonight. Your Monthly Letter includes the first peek of our flooring choice for the tiny house, specific ways to pray for children as they head back to school, and ways to use a simple picnic basket to remind people of God’s love. I appreciate you so much!}

 

Tiny House Tuesday // A Shield for All Seasons

Tiny House Tuesday

 

I didn’t want insulation used in the tiny ceilings.

It cost more in both time and money, and studios shown on Pinterest didn’t use it (hello, white-washed beams). Need I say more? *wink*

But my husband, being the wise steward that he is, insisted. The hours spent writing + the depth to which I detest feeling hot = a quickly depleted electricity budget, so Brian dressed in his Oompa Loompa outfit and got to work.

Insulation Man

You can see from the door color that he started this project months ago, one rectangle at a time. Now that the exterior is complete (except for my porch light), he’s oompa loompin’ right along.

I may not fully appreciate a prickly-pink shield around the walls and ceilings right now, but I know that day is coming. Stifling southern summers and bitter cold days will ensure this heart ends up grateful to the hubby who made it happen.

 

Receiving protection creates a grateful heart.

 

King David defined a grateful heart in Psalm 3:3:

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

When he wrote this, his son and former friends had turned against him. Some were saying there was no help for him from God because he didn’t deserve it. (2 Samuel 16:8) But it’s for this very reason that Psalm 3:3 sweeps our soul off its feet with the same excitement of a bridegroom carrying his new bride over the threshold.

I love this! David isn’t asking God to be his shield⏤he’s declaring that God is his shield. And in this truth, he finds rest, both spiritually and physically. (Psalm 3:5)

 

David doesn’t allow anyone or anything to cloud his confidence in God’s power of redemption.

 

He knows Whose he is, and that’s a shield of protection that no season in life, circumstance or person can penetrate.

Though the insulation will soon hide behind the walls, its protection will be evident in every season.

“…your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

May God’s power and protection be evident in every season of our lives as we declare that He is our shield!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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