Creating Holy Pockets of Stillness

A blessed life is one lived intentionally.

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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Cultivate A Consistent Prayer Life in 2021 + NEW GIFT + Giveaway!

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.
  • Read the Proverb that corresponds with the date.
  • Read one devotional from Awaken.
  • Keep my travel journal close by and jot down observations.
  • Spend a few minutes in silence.

 

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)

And

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?

 

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. Come with an expectant heart! This connects with the first point but it’s also a vital part of the adventure.
  4. Prayerfully consider what plan God might want to unfold for your time together.
  5. 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.)

So, come on over and join hundreds of other women who find value in holy pauses inside the Creative Pauses Facebook group!

 

 

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

 

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

Re-Charge Your Prayer Life by Pairing Up With a Prayer Partner!

It started easy enough.

I texted one morning, asking if there were specific ways I could pray for her, and in return, she asked the same. It was a simple exchange of words.

 

But at that moment, I realized it was more than a simple swap.

 

Yes, tapping requests on the phone is simple enough, but we know the true power begins the moment we lift up the person in prayer⏤speaking their name, sharing their requests, and trusting God’s best for them.

Sometimes this kind of pairing happens organically, but when it doesn’t, intentionality is required. Both can lead to an authentic connection for God’s glory.

 

Benefits of Partnering in Prayer

 

  • “Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
  • We become more aware of what we’re praying for.
  • We gain our partner’s perspective and godly wisdom.
  • It helps us feel less anxious knowing we have at least one person praying specifically for us.
  • We need each other! It’s no coincidence the disciples were sent out in pairs. In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile toward believers, we need to encourage, inspire, and speak words of life into one another.
  • We become invested in each other’s Kingdom work.

 

What We May Want to Consider

 

  • Set expectations from the get-go. Do you want to exchange requests daily, three times a week, or weekly?
  • Partner with the intention of being paired for 1-3 months. This takes the “I-should”, “I-must” kind of pressure off the partnership, inviting joy and the sense of biblical community into the equation.
  • We’ve all been there⏤you know where⏤the times we said we’d pray but forgot. Having it in a text format keeps her words before us, but taking a moment to pray right then and there is the best way to follow through with good intentions.
  • Text the praying hand’s emoji to our partner after we pray, and every time we pray for her. It’s a quick, small signal, but one that’s sure to encourage.

 

Where to Find a Prayer Partner?

 

 

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together.

— Charles Finney

 

It’s true we can’t be everything to everybody (nor should we try), but we can offer up everything needed on another’s behalf for God’s glory.

What’s the greatest benefit you’ve experienced from partnering with someone in prayer?

 

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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!

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

4 Ways to Offer Someone A Pause this Fall (And a Gift for You Too!)

The words pause and fall come together like a sing-a-long.

They swing and sway to the melody of a season that offers natural pauses to our day. Swift breezes encourage us to bundle up and head outside for a walk, or a sit by the fire. Wild muscadines growing nearby release a fragrance so sweet and so strong, it takes root in our memories as tightly as its vine clings to an overhanging tree.

And then there is the mug⏤you know, the favorite one that fits your hand just right and makes you smile every time you pull it from the cabinet. It’s the one that warms the quickest when holding your favorite pumpkiny latte.

Fall offers unique opportunities to slow down, to intentionally engage with God, with others, and with our surroundings. It’s comforting to pause from our chaotic culture. And it refreshes the soul we when we offer another person the same opportunity.

“…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NLT

 

 

1.

Offer soul refreshment to a parent by watching her children for a couple of hours. If there has ever been a year parents need a pause, it’s this one. Virtual learning, various school schedules, layoffs, etc. If you’re on a tight schedule, there’s nothing wrong with specifying a time, like 10 am-noon.

Bonus points:

  • Stay during a lunch or dinner hour so she can enjoy lunch or a quiet time at a park or in a quiet corner of Panera. Nothing revives a weary soul like fresh air and coffee.
  • Before she leaves, quietly hand her a coffee gift card to enjoy while she’s away.
  • Offer to help the children with homework.

 

2.

Offer a cooked or carry-out meal to a teacher, depending on how well you know her. One less meal to cook creates a bless-her-socks-off crevice of time in her schedule she’ll not soon forget. Goodbye, busy grocery store, preparation, and clean-up time. Hello, pause. A few favorite go-to sites for quick and easy meals include:

iowa girl eats

Our Home on Purpose

Mom’s Dinner

Have more money than time? Write a card that includes a restaurant gift card or a delivery service like GrubHub.

 

3.

Invite a new neighbor over for a cup of tea outdoors. Low humidity, no mosquitoes, and just enough chill in the air to appreciate a warm mug or teacup, all make for a welcoming time outdoors. Keep it simple or fancy it up. If you choose simple, Poetry Teatime offers easy treats for tea.

 

4.

Heading to the apple orchard this fall? Grab an extra bag for someone you know who especially needs to be reminded of God’s love. Or divvy up the bag and create smaller, separate bags for a few people. Apples are yummy but it’s the message that matters here. You can add this tag, based on Psalm 17:8, to the bag.

 

 

Every month, subscribers receive a holy, sensory-based pause to use in a particular setting. Like, the garden, or during a storm, or by the lake. It’s quickly becoming one of the most enjoyable downloads in their monthly letter.

Today, I offer you this “Fall Pause” as a “thank you” for becoming a subscriber. We’re a community that understands and appreciates the power of a pause⏤an intentional step toward moving closer to God as we choose to set the life we’ve created aside, and welcome the presence of our Creator.

Simply enter your email address in the top right sidebar. That’s it! {And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.}

 

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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 Maria Shanina on Unsplash

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