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.

 

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.

 

Tiny House Tuesday // A NEW Front Door Color!

Tiny House Tuesday

 

I tried. Really, I did.

If you read Tiny House Tuesday’s The Red Door No More, you might remember the giddiness that erupted after painting the front door chartreuse.

 

For months, the color lived up to its name ⏤ Frolic.

 

She was a bright pop of color during the day, but when night fell, the color glowed in the dark like a fluorescent beam on steroids. Bless her heart.

The chartreuse color prompted more than one smile during its time on the hill, but the sharp lemon-lime shade constantly battled the black-pane window nearby. I gave peace a try and purchased a set of floral pillows in hopes of softening the hardened edges of black and chartreuse. But the only thing that softened was my resolve. Let’s just say the giddiness I felt slowly faded, unlike the color Frolic SW 6703.

 

I love the color pink. Always have.

 

But it didn’t make the initial cut because I didn’t want my tiny working studio to be mistaken for a children’s playhouse. It can sound like one all day long, but look like one? Sweet mercy, no.

However, after six painted sample sheets, enough paint chips to wallpaper the entire tiny house, and a robust covering of primer, Jazz Age Coral SW 0058 stepped up and took its rightful place. Goodbye, chartreuse. Hello, pink! Not just any pink, mind you, but one with the softness of cotton candy and a pinch of peach. Hopefully, soon-to-be-added darker pieces like a wreath, outdoor light, and planter will help to ground the color pink to the point of pleasure.

So, whatcha think? Isn’t she pretty in pink?

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In October, I shared my dad’s bladder cancer diagnosis. Thank you for the outpouring of your prayers. His surgery on October 29th went very well. The lymph nodes are clear, and the prognosis is very good, to God be the glory!

Watch for next Tuesday’s post, “5 Ways to Prepare Your Soul for December and A Christmas Gift for You”, which is currently scheduled as the final post for The Tiny House on the Hill in 2019. I’m not one to “skip” over Thanksgiving and aim directly for December but this season has been a different one, and that’s okay. I hope you’ll understand the sooner-than-normal Christmas focus next week. And let’s face it, preparing our soul for December days can’t come soon enough.

So, what’s your front door color and what do you love about it?

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.

Tiny House Tuesday // Steps, Shiplap, and A Hidden Bookcase, Oh My!

Tiny House Tuesday

 

Do you see it?

Squinting may be required but the end of our building journey is in sight. Somebody pinch me.

 

Brian continues to work tirelessly to finish the tiny house because he loves me, but also because he believes God has His own plans for glory through the writing, shared community, and joy that will take place within this 144 square foot space.

 

 

WordPress experienced a hiccup when the last Tiny House Tuesday posted, so if you missed When Two Littles Love a Little Loft, you can catch it here. In it are pictures of the reading nook/loft area in all of its skeletal beauty…that is, until now.

Since that post, Brian built steep narrow steps that lead to the loft seen above. Because the loft floor is the reading nook’s ceiling, both measure the size of a regular twin mattress, but the pitched roof creates a roomier feel. Can all six grandkids fit up here? Yep, as long as they like to cuddle, and I happen to know that’s one of their superpowers. A fluffy rug is ready to roll once the floor is painted.

 

 

As you can see, Brian has done quite a bit since last month. The nook’s exterior wall is drywalled and we’re currently installing shiplap to the interior, with a slick coat of seafoam green to soon follow.

Look up and you’ll spot an unassuming piece of plywood attached to the loft wall. But its purpose is mighty! It will hold our split unit, providing cool air in our sweltering summer months, and heat when fall folds into winter.

The second Gothic window was set to go in the split unit’s space but we soon realized the unit had only two choices of where it could it go, the loft or over the antique mantle. Need I say more? I miss not having the second window in the back but it’s just one of many ways I’m learning to be flexible along this journey.

 

The view from inside the reading nook facing the steps.

 

And then there are tiny moments like this that offer pure delight.

The space beneath the stairs caught my eye and all kinds of creative crazy ideas began to bubble to the surface. Perhaps it could be a drop-box for the kids to crawl in and under, or the top step could latch, creating a place to drop my broom and other necessities. The list goes on, but a hidden bookcase was the clear winner. I mean, what good is a reading nook without a place to store our favorite books?

And finally, if you missed the picture of the tiny house being lit up for the first time in its 1+ year journey, check it out on Instagram. It’s something to behold, trust me. When we purchased the Gothic window, an aged opaque diamond-patterned adhesive covered the glass. We went back and forth trying to decide whether to leave it as is or scrape it off. In the end, we chose to leave it. The long-awaited image of softened light beaming through the old church window at night is now a reality.

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Thank you for joining me on this journey. It will not end once the building is complete. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Instead of building projects, we’ll share what God is doing inside the studio, and ways you can join in the fun.

If you’ve not yet subscribed to The Tiny House on the Hill, now’s a great time to become a part of our community! You’ll receive a “Spot God Everyday” calendar, plus bonus information and bi-monthly posts sent directly to your inbox. Simply type your email address in the sidebar’s top section under “Join Our {tiny} Community.” It’s that easy.

For those who’ve been on this journey a while, I’d love to know your favorite project so far. If you’re just joining, which of the above projects — the steps, the loft, the nook, or the hidden bookcase — do you like the most?

Thanks for stopping by and taking a minute to share. You’re the best! 🙂

 

An Introvert’s Journey Toward Biblical Community + Starbucks Giveaway!

Because surely biblical community and coffee go hand-in-hand.

For instance, remember the eavesdropping that took place in a North Carolina cafe last October? (If not, you can read about it here.) My being tucked away in a dark corner of a coffee shop isn’t unusual, but my willingness to interrupt the conversation of two young women I’d never met? Highly unlikely.

If you know me or have followed my writing for two minutes, you know I’m an introvert to the core. I love people but quickly crumble inside without ample space to breathe. Tapping keys, not stranger’s shoulders, is more my style.

 

But God.

 

Two words that weigh as heavy as the world He came to save.

 

Who needs Once Upon a Time when But God starts the story of every believer?

My story began three decades ago, but God used two young strangers as a catalyst to reboot my sluggish spirit.

“God wired us for biblical community. Yes, even us introverts. Since moving to the country, I’ve sensed a tug to be involved with women at a nearby campus. I don’t know one woman yet, but God does and I look forward to seeing what He will do. Want to join me in praying for God’s lead on that particular adventure? (I’d love to pray for yours too!))” – from my post, The Day Eavesdropping Inspired This Titus 2 Woman to Tears

I touch on the answer to this prayer in a follow-up post, The Night This Titus 2 Woman Hosted a Tea Party. Biblical community involves more than simply gathering together, but spending time with our small group women, getting to know them, and allowing them to get to know me feels like a healthy first step for this late-blooming introvert.

In fact, after I type this post, the list-making begins in preparation for our church’s women’s retreat this weekend. And this might be a good time to define the word journey, as used in the title of this post.

Journey: a passage or progress from one stage to another (dictionary.com)

Staying home, drinking coffee from my afternoon mug (yes, that exists), writing, playing with my grandkids, organizing organizational books currently stuffed in a cluttered closet⏤these are comfortable places for me. Traveling, sharing a room with even the best of choices (and she is!), being with truly wonderful people 24/7, and all that goes with this is not comfortable for me.

 

But God is doing a new thing, I perceive it.

 

He is making a way through my comfort zone, providing refreshment in a place that’s long felt deserted.

 

I have a long way to go on this journey with much to learn, but God is helping me progress from one stage to another. He’s not asking me to become someone I’m not. Instead, He’s empowering me to become someone I could not possibly be without Him.

Yes, the enemy whispers there’s too big of an age gap for connections to be made this weekend, but a young woman once told me that Titus 2 women are needed — and we Titus 2 women need them too. So I prepare with an excitement that’s surely not natural.

And to think it all began in the corner of a crowded, dimly-lit coffee shop.

“Practice of true community involves responsibilities and actions that do not come naturally to us.” – Jerry Bridges, True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia

 

In keeping with the definition of a journey, where would you say you are in relation to pursuing biblical community?

a. sipping lavender lattes in the cafe corner? (pre-clueful)

b. receiving words from strangers that could be a “direct message” from God? (open to receiving)

c. feeling oddly awkward that God might be up to something you didn’t expect? (contemplating)

d. taking steps to put yourself in the path of biblical community? (still clueless but desiring to become more like Christ to the point of obedience?)

e. signing up for a women’s retreat or other gatherings that are not normal for you? (becoming a comfort-zone crusher!)

f. fully integrated into biblical community (refusing to allow natural tendencies to overrule God’s supernatural power, putting the gospel on display in beautiful and unexpected ways.)

I’d love to know! Share in the comment section and you might just win your own eavesdropping session at Starbucks. {Told you I had a long way to go!}

 

Thanks for stopping by the Tiny House on the Hill. If you’d like to receive my bi-monthly posts, plus Tiny House Tuesday, where you can spot the latest photos and updates, subscribe in the sidebar. As a small token of my appreciation for your support of this ministry, you’ll receive three fall calendars with daily prompts to watch for God’s goodness, perhaps in ways you may not expect.

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