We’re often quick to offer kindness to others, but what about ourselves?
The fact that I winced when the idea for this post popped up is just one indicator that I have a lot of growing to do in this area. Maybe it’s because I was raised not to talk about myself. Just try bragging about how groovy that blue eyeshadow looked (hey, it was the 70’s!) and any southerner knew what was coming next⏤the ol’ side glance with a “bless her heart, she knows better” expression.
The silent “rule” of never speaking about one’s self in a positive light was engrained in my culture as deeply as cornbread and buttermilk. And that’s doggone deep!
These days, I show myself a little kindness by swinging by Starbucks for a brown sugar espresso after a long day of writing. But when it comes to offering myself kindness after repenting from something I said, or not doing something “normal” women do, like keeping everything tidy, kindness often stops short.
Like a bully, I beat myself up and rattle off a string of names I’d never call anyone else.
Recently, when talking with a friend who had a few “bruises” of her own, I suggested she be kind to herself. Those words were not meant for her ears only. I needed them, and maybe you do too. Be kind to yourself.
So, how can we offer ourselves kindness?
I think it begins, as does every part of life, with remembering who we are in Christ.
Receive God’s grace. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) A high cost was paid for the privilege of receiving God’s unmerited favor. I’m learning how to sit still until God’s grace settles in the soul to the point of peace. Then, I thank God and move on!
Practice what we preach. How would we help another woman who continues to beat herself up even after she’s repented and received God’s forgiveness for a particular action?
Align our expectations with God’s Word. Does God call us to be a perfect wife, mom, grandmother, or friend? Thankfully, no, but He does come alongside us, full of mercy and compassion, and shows us how to be who we can’t be without Him. If God doesn’t place the burden of perfection on us in these roles, why do we?
Discover the “why” behind the action that leaves us feeling less-than, and don’t shy away from it. Does my upbringing play a part in why I’m so hard on myself? Have I set unrealistic expectations on myself based on the culture? Am I giving others the power to determine how I feel about myself? Some of these may require biblical counseling, or maybe just some time set apart for prayer, asking God for wisdom. (James 1:5)
Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 (emphasis mine)
Being kind to ourselves paves the way for us to be even kinder to others.
And kindness never goes out of style.
A fun way to remember to be kind to ourselves is to carry or display a scripture card…so I’m giving you four. Enjoy your PDF download!
Another way to embed the message of kindness into our hearts is to pause for two minutes and soak in this song by Andrew Peterson. Oh, to know and receive the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father!
So, how do you show yourself kindness? Please share in the comment section below!
I inherited my paternal grandmother’s Bible. The feather-light pages crinkle with every turn, weighed down only by the ink from her handwritten notes.
It is evidence of what I already know to be true of both grandmothers⏤they were prayer warriors.
I also have my great-grandfather’s bible. Tucked inside is a torn piece of an envelope, darkened by age but lit with Zephaniah 3:17, written out in his handwriting. Not ever having met him, the asterisks and notes tell a story for which I’m eternally grateful.
Both bibles remind me of the blessing that is ours today because of those who prayed for us yesterday.
When I came to know Christ at 27, I was a single mom with two young boys. My heart ached over the sinful choices I’d made and their effect on my sons. Unfortunately, no one knew those better than me, also having come from a divided home.
I pleaded with God to allow the cycle of divorce in our family to end with me.
My prayers focused on asking God to give the boys a love for Him that trumped all others, for sexual purity, and for their future spouses. I had little to offer as an example and let’s face it, that kind of heart work can only be cultivated by the loving hands of a Heavenly Father.
Years later, those same hands brought two more-than-I-could-ever-ask-for daughters-in-law into our family. During the rehearsal dinner for our oldest son’s wedding, pictures from each of their childhoods, along with their dating years, slid across the screen. Toward the end, one image without faces fell into place. On the left side was a page from my daughter-in-law’s mother’s prayer journal where she prayed for Megan’s future husband. On the right was mine, praying for his future wife. God’s faithfulness brought both of us to tears. All those years we were praying for our children’s spouses.
We didn’t know their names but God did.
Last year, I began a prayer journal for each of our six grandchildren. The journals were purchased months prior but I kept waiting for the “right” time, the “right” words, the “right” way to do it. Ugh!
Perfectionism is a perfected tool in the enemy’s pocket.
So I set aside the need to have it right and began writing specific prayers and promises. I’m sure there’s a better and prettier way to do it but I’m not journaling for the sake of better or pretty. I’m writing down prayers for heaven’s sake…literally.
Here are five prayers I pray for them, ages 9 and under:
Salvation at an early age. I imagine to love and serve Him for a lifetime would be a glorious gift.
Their protection⏤spiritually, physically, and emotionally. There’s never been a greater need for praying spiritual protection over our children and grandchildren. With the child’s name in place of the blank space, this is written: Colossians 2:8: “Protect _____ from the captivity of hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
A robust faith with roots that deepen and strengthen over time. “…just as you received Jesus Christ as LORD, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6,7
A vibrant prayer life throughout their lives. “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence.” Psalm 16:11 You and I know that a consistent prayer life rarely comes easy.
Godly friendships. Forming healthy friendships help to create solid relationships that often carry into adulthood. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
There are a couple of reasons I journal prayers:
It helps me stay focused. My brain scatters as quickly as a squirrel dodging cars. I need to write most of my prayers down.
Journaling leaves a record for future generations to see how they were prayed over.
Having said that, the common question, “What would you save if there was a fire in your home?” recently arose. I immediately thought of the kid’s prayer journals. What if I couldn’t save them? All the time that’s been taken for writing out the prayers would…
“Would what?” I sensed the Lord asking. I paused, looked heavenward, and smiled. Those prayers aren’t going anywhere. They are in His safekeeping.
In the end, the power lies in act of prayer, not in journaling them.
And that’s what matters most.
What’s one way you pray for children, grandchildren, or others? Join the conversation and share in the comment section below!
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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each day, holy pauses are shared in the form of prayer, God’s Word, gatherings, or free downloads that help us to connect (or re-connect) with God and others.
And can we agree that few things in life are more intentional than growing a garden? We scout out a sunny spot, prepare the soil, choose the plants, and pluck them in the ground. I know a little something about this because growing up, we had a large organic garden⏤back before organic was cool.
In the springtime, we planted tomatoes, peppers, corn, and okra. In summer, insects were plucked off stems, and in the fall, decaying tomatoes whizzed past us in hopes of pelting the other person with the ripe scent of rot. Good times!
But in the winter, we rested, as did the ground.
The garden soil was still, but it never stopped receiving nutrients from the layers of organic matter dad churned into the earth just before the first frost. Earthworms continued to weave their way through red clay, as we have here in the south, aerating the soil and making it healthier for the next season.
During the winter, rest also happened inside our house as we enjoyed the fruit of our labor from the prior year’s garden. And receiving the Burpee Seed Spring catalog generated as much excitement as the lemon blueberry bundt cakes baked most Sunday afternoons. (Trust me, that’s a lot of excitement!)
So what does a wintering ground have to do with creating holy pockets of stillness?
Just because a ground appears still and lifeless for a season doesn’t mean life isn’t teeming below. And just because we choose to be still doesn’t mean a holy bustle isn’t happening within. In fact, our still moments are the most productive moments of the day.
Imagine the peace and assurance the Israelites must have received from this passage as they left Egypt. In stillness, these words from the Lord can calm the storms raging below our surface⏤fear, worry, bitterness, etc.
On the outside, we’re all smiles. Beneath the happy expression is a heart that is anything but. Recent events, deciding whether or not to take the vaccination, wondering what the year holds, and job concerns elbow their way through an already crowded heart. But in stillness, we remember God’s sovereignty and wait patiently for Him, His timing, and His ways.
If Jesus can hush an angry sea with three words, surely we can still ourselves long enough to hear them too. *smile*
Holy pockets of silence don’t need to be added to our day — they already exist in the ordinary moments.
Outdoors. Walking or sitting outside, we close our eyes. What gratitude rises from what you see, smell, or hear?
Folding laundry. Consider putting a scripture verse on the wall to meditate on while you fold.
Baking. Watching someone prepare dough for loaves of bread is marvel-worthy in my book. The slow ease with which they knead a simple mixture of flour and liquid into a work of art prompts me to want to do the same. Maybe we don’t bake bread, but we brew cups of tea and prepare meals. Both require a slowing-down of sorts. What if we embraced the quiet process instead of fighting it, choosing to practice stillness as God uses our hands to bring forth beauty?
With stillness comes rest⏤whether it’s a wintering ground or a troubled soul⏤producing a healthier, more resilient, and stronger life for seasons to come.
What’s one simple way you will create a holy pocket of silence in your day? (There’s no right or wrong answer!)
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While there’s a lot I’d like to leave behind in 2020, my prayer life isn’t one of them.
For thirty years, I’ve celebrated the truth that God wants to be personally known, experienced, and trusted. But my time with Him hasn’t always reflected it. My intentions were good, but apparently, my excuses were sometimes better, widening the door for guilt to slither in and crack open the window for shame to join in the harassment.
In early 2020, I began reading Priscilla Shirer’s devotional, Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks. The title resonated with a deep desire to stop the cycle of good intentions.
And so I began the 90-Day journey with God.
I sat down with her devotional, the Bible, and my trusted journal. Within a week or two, I sensed the Lord creating a daily rhythm for our dedicated time of fellowship:
Slowly and prayerfully, read through the book of Psalms, one a day.
In no time flat, accusations disguised as whispers began to chatter:
You should be working through a study instead of just reading your Bible.
Why are you only reading “x” amount of verses?
You call this a valid quiet time?
But I did it anyway. And here’s what happened.
You know that elated feeling you experience when spending time with someone who shares a mutual interest? You could talk about (fill in the blank) all day long, and with a little caffeine, maybe all night! You leave their presence feeling energetic, encouraged, and ready to face another day, right?
That’s what happened when I began showing up with a holy expectancy! What will my heavenly Father reveal today? Not like a little girl on Santa’s knee, but a woman who’s incredibly flawed but hungry to hear from God and join in the adventure! (Even that desire is from Him, my flesh would prefer to be eating breakfast.)
During our dedicated time of fellowship, He reveals my sins: how I overdo sweets, the way I sometimes relate to my husband, and my lack of faith in various areas of my life, just to name a few. Some revelations are painful, but they’re necessary, and even a confirmation of His love. (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6)
God opens my eyes to spiritual truths I wouldn’t see or receive otherwise. He provides ideas for ministry, ways to love others, words, sentences, paragraphs, and a dream Literary Agent only He could’ve provided. The list goes on!!! (Multiple exclamation points = holy excitement)
Still, I prayed for weeks before creating this post.
You see, I wanted to make sure it was God’s voice (and not mine) prompting me to share how He transformed our time together. The last thing I wanted was to give the illusion that I had anything to offer but a willing heart, or that there was a “magic” formula for drawing closer to God, or that I was discounting the vital need for studying God’s Word in-depth.
We know the simple act of reading the Word and studying it is the difference between wading in a pool and swimming in it. And if there’s ever been a time when we as Christ-followers need to know the Word for ourselves, it is today. I did, however, learn that if reading is done prayerfully, there’s much to glean and is anything but a simple read.
I can only testify that the plan He unfolded for a season deepened my faith and infused our time of fellowship with a deep, abiding joy that I never saw coming.
So, how do we begin moving toward a more consistent prayer life in 2021?
Check the heart. What do we truly believe about our time with God? Is He present? Does He hear us? Does He respond? Am I willing to hear His conviction as well as His blessings?
Create a plan. Whether or not we consider ourselves a planner is irrelevant. We plan other worthy appointments⏤the doctor, work, hair, etc. Is He worthy?
Come with an expectant heart! This connects with the first point but it’s also a vital part of the adventure.
Prayerfully consider what plan God might want to unfold for your time together.
Equip our time with essentials beforehand: Bible, journal, “travel with God” journal, and pen.
*Bonus: Continue the engagement with God throughout the day!
Not only did God confirm that others might benefit from this post, but He also broke it down into bite-sized pieces for “(Re)Awaken Your Prayer Life.” Inside, you’ll find more information on the five considerations above (and the bonus!), along with inspiring verses and quotes in the form of coloring pages.
This free guide is a small token of my appreciation for subscribing to the “Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill” bi-weekly blog. It’s also available to current subscribers (love and appreciate y’all beyond words!).
To subscribe, simply scroll to the bottom of this post or see the top right sidebar section.
So, as we look forward to a new year with a fresh slate, what is one spiritual discipline you sense God is calling you to cultivate in 2021? Share in the comment section to be entered into a giveaway for your own leather “travel with God” journal!
P.S. For one week in January, an added bonus on ways to grow a more consistent prayer life will be shared each day. (And don’t be surprised if there’s a daily giveaway to help in those efforts.)
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!
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