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.

 

Divider

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.

 

Divider

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!

 

 

 

Tiny House Tuesday // Building an Ark

I love the idea of having a house by the lake⏤just not a tiny house.

When we chose the place where she’d perch, we took a lot into consideration⏤which direction to face, what views not to block, and how to prevent our galvanized roof from blinding our only neighbor. One thing we did not take into consideration, however, was the direction of the river that flows down the mountain behind us, over a berm, and directly by the tiny house.

Once the house is finished we’ll find a way to re-route the river in order to make way for the cottage garden that will include old-timey plants and an iron gate, Lord willing. But before I get too ahead of myself…

Our winter plan included finishing out the exterior by installing the soffits, corner trim, siding, and painting the front door. Brian managed to squeak in soffits and trim despite the downpours, but without a decent stretch of sunshine, the Tyvek continues to show and my front door still stands well-worn red.

Yet all is not lost. Inside the tiny house, wiring for electricity and insulation have begun and once the exterior is finished, we’ll move indoors full-time. Now that it’s lighter longer at day’s end, we’ll extend our weekend warriorship to an occasional weeknight.

Although the Ark-worthy rain has tested every ounce of our patience, it’s also set a simple but significant truth before us and that is the weather is completely out of our control.

 

And this realization prepares the knee to bow to God’s sovereignty.

 

Because here’s the thing. He knows the excitement that rumbles through my heart like a freight train at the thought of using this tiny place for His grand glory. Either I trust His timing or I don’t.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

And I do.

Dot Divider

So, this is usually the spot where I share the latest picture of our progress, but without any noticeable changes in the past several weeks, serious consideration was necessary for choosing a *tiny* picture for today’s post.

Okay, maybe not too serious.

Insulation Day

Insulation Man

Oompa Loompa Doompa Dee Do…

Gotta love a man who dresses up Willy Wonka style to prevent bringing the insulation fibers into the house. Thanks, babe.

 

I realize that trusting God in the timing of a tiny house build is a small act of faith compared to what you might be facing today. If so, I welcome the opportunity to pray for you. Simply leave your request in the comment section below (so others can also pray for you), or feel free to email me confidentially using the envelope icon on the home page.

Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day with me⏤it’s an honor.

 

  • Did you miss last month’s Tiny House Tuesday // A Tale of Two Gothic Windows? Check it out here.
  • Subscribers! Don’t forget to print out your spring/scripture inspired tags created just for you. It’s included in the March Monthly Letter from the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

The First Hard Conversation + Autographed Giveaway by Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld

No one goes around looking to strike up a hard conversation.

And yet, I’m not sure we can expect to walk fully in light of the gospel without a willingness to do it. Thankfully, people like Lori Roeleveld are able to take not-so-comfortable conversations and break them into hearty, but bite-sized morsels.

For almost a decade, I’ve watched Lori’s life beautifully reflect her zeal for God and His Word. She’s the real deal and I’m honored to have her guest post today. In typical Lori fashion, she went above and beyond by offering an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations to one blessed recipient. For now, be blessed as you read directly from Lori’s heart because that’s the kind of writer she is.

Arrow divider

If you’re anything like me, my prayer preparation for any conversation that I anticipate may be challenging or uncomfortable used to sound like this. “Please make this go away. Don’t make me be the one to discuss this. Please send someone else.” (Total transparency – sometimes they still sound like that.)

I comforted myself in that it sounded a lot like Moses, but really it was my “turtle” self, longing to escape my responsibility to speak truth, share my faith, encourage a struggling believer, or resolve a conflict.

 

Through years of engaging in all manner of hard conversations, I’ve learned that most effective ones begin with showing up for a “hard conversation” with God.

 

This is where I pour my heart out to Him in prayer about the situation first. I read relevant passages of Scripture and sit quietly while He helps me sort through my feelings, the facts, His truth, and my love for the other person in order to inform my approach, timing, and words.

There are many, many times when this time of prayer is the end of the matter. This is usually when I’ve taken some offense or harbor self-righteous anger about a situation. As I confess emotions that aren’t based in His Word and read what Scripture has to say about my words, I often realize that the log in my own eye is most of the problem.

 

Other times, this period of prayer highlights a lack of love on my part.

 

Love lapses are responsible for much of our lack of evangelism, internal church conflict, even family struggles. Too often, I try to operate solely from a foundation of my own human affection. God prods me, always, to rely on His perfect love to infuse me and inform my relationships with others, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This gets worked out in this time of prayer.

Always, this time of prayer reduces my fear and reminds me of God’s presence with me and His desire to include me in His work. That’s exciting! Hard conversations may begin as a painful exercise, but often, they are the vehicles of transformation and breakthrough God desires and how blessed are we to be witness to that!

When I feel there may be a hard conversation in my future with another person, I pray for God to give me His heart for that person and let me see them through His eyes. I pray for their heart to be fertile soil and for God to go before my words to prepare the way. I pray for the right opportunity and timing to appear with clarity and favor. And, I ask God to remove any barriers in me and in the other person that may interfere with communication and with God’s Work in our hearts.

 

Preparatory prayer is as vital for hard conversations as it is at the beginning of any worthy endeavor.

 

If you anticipate a challenging chat – being open with someone about your faith or biblically-informed belief, confronting sin, working through a conflict, or sharing tough news – commit to daily prayer leading up to your tough talk.

 

Show up with God unguarded.

 

Read the Psalms and see how David exposed his messy heart to God in prayer. Doing this with friends is unproductive and sometimes sinful. Doing it with God is life-altering. Admit your anger, envy, self-righteousness, fear, or even your lack of faith that the conversation will make any difference. Receive His forgiveness and correction, knowing we all must keep growing until we are home with Him.

Keep the Word of God open before you and read several passages that pertain to the topic of your conversation or about what God expects of our words (such as James 1:19-25 or James 4:13-18). Confess thoughts or emotions that are not in line with God’s expectations for believers. Then pray those Scriptures for the person with whom you hope to speak.

 

Ask for God’s wisdom and then believe He’ll provide it.

 

Ask for Him to clearly provide an opportunity to speak and then, watch for it. Be persistent in prayer and see what God will do when you take the risk of engaging in an uncomfortable conversation to speak His truth into someone’s life.

Too often, I think everything there is to know about a situation is what I can see. Prayer reminds me there is an entire dimension – the spiritual realm – that is at work. It’s strengthening, encouraging, and informing when I connect with that dimension in prayer before I engage in conversation – hard or otherwise.

Do you want your next hard conversation to be effective? Show up for the first hard conversation by praying and inviting God into a tough talk with you. Then, watch how the adventure unfolds.

Lori RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

 

 

To enter for an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations, simply leave a comment below. A winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, March 3rd. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day in the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

Tiny House Tuesday // A Tale of Two Gothic Windows

At least that’s how the story began.

Last April, before May floods meandered their way over the Swannanoa banks, we headed to the Antique Tobacco Barn in Asheville NC, in search of a Gothic window. We explored aisles of primitive ladders, glass knobs, and bird egg blue cabinets until we spotted the distinctive curve peeking over nearby antique relics.

 

Or should I say curves? Turns out, there were two.

 

We asked to buy just one, but the seller wouldn’t budge⏤purchase the pair, or nothing at all.

A Gothic window isn’t an easy find, especially on our budget, so we paid the money and skedaddled back down the mountain.

We decided the now two windows could bookend the tiny house. One in front, perched over the porch, and the other, nestled in the back. Because we were nowhere ready for installation, (which begs the question why did we go shopping for them in April?), we wrapped the windows in beach towels and leaned them on my great-aunt’s bed frame in the garage.

Finally, on a bitter cold day in January, we introduced the windows to their forever home. Brian, aka, my Genius, devised a way to frame the window without having to cut curved pieces of wood, saving valuable time, and dare I say, frustration.  *wink*

 

Gothic window

 

 

Brian installed the first Gothic window over the front porch. Around the same time, we needed to decide where to install the split unit for heating and air. While compact and uber-convenient, the interior part of the unit takes up a bit more space than expected, leaving us with only two choices: mount the unit over the antique mantle, or on the back wall.

 

Let’s just say the mantle won.

 

I couldn’t imagine having a split unit hovering over the vintage mantle, especially when two lovely alternatives are vying for that space. The second window was returned to the garage until further notice.

If this weekend warrior is learning anything during the building process, it’s to be flexible and to always have a Plan B. Notice I said learning, as in, the struggle is real.

 

Now, the Tiny House on the Hill sits with the Gothic window in place⏤a space designed just for her.

 

To have a tiny space to call our own is good for the soul. It doesn’t have to sit on a hill out back. It can be as simple as a cozy corner in our home, a closet where we create, or a place in our garden where we meet with God.

 

Tiny House on the Hill

“You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.”
Psalm 119:114 MSG

 

So, where’s your space⏤the place you go to create, rest, and recharge?

 

*Tiny subscribers, if you missed February’s Letter, you’ll want to check out the exclusive video of Brian installing the Gothic window.

Tiny House on the Hill

Are you a member of our {tiny} community?

Subscribe to the Tiny House on the Hill and receive the latest seasonal gift, posts, behind-the-scenes information, and resources.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest