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Ways to Celebrate Togetherness While Separated This Holiday Season

Holiday Together

It will be a different holiday season. On that, we can agree.

No need to run down all the reasons why. We’re very much aware of each one, but Thanksgiving and Christmas will come nonetheless.

Neither set of my parents, nor my aunt and uncle, will gather around our farm table this Thanksgiving. Who will crack the corny jokes, or whip up the family dressing, or clap for the grandkids when they perform from the top step?

As we navigate the holiday seasons of 2020 together, maybe one of the following ideas can ease the disappointment and help make way for gratitude.

 

7 Ideas for Cultivating a Spirit of Togetherness This Holiday Season

 

  • Choose joy. Lately, we’ve been talking to our grandkids about the half-full or half-empty scenario. Now I need to talk to myself. Yes, the holiday season will likely look and feel different. But, who will be around our table? Will it be a spouse, sons and daughters, a pup or cat that feels like family, or the warm presence of the Lord? We can choose joy over disappointment.

 

 

  • Do those missing from your dinner table live nearby? Fill up plates with turkey and all the fixins’. Don’t skimp on the pie! Deliver with a smile and a holiday-sized air hug.

 

  • Plan a Facetime or Zoom session ahead of time. It will give everyone something to look forward to.

 

  • Donate. Give the money usually spent on additional groceries to feed those in need of a hot meal that day. (Bonus: Donate it in honor of those missing from your holiday table.)

 

  • Create a table runner. Ask children and/or grandchildren to draw pictures and write positive messages on a Kraft paper table runner, as seen here at Hobby Lobby. Drop it in the mail by November 19th, or drop it by their home. Loved ones will surely feel your presence as they enjoy their meals.

 

  • Create a “Why We Love You Jar”. Much like the “Gratitude Jar” recently shared in our Facebook Group, “Creative Pauses”, simply write the different reasons why you love a person (or couple) on slips of paper. Cut, place in a jar, and add directions asking her to choose one slip to read aloud each day beginning on Thanksgiving, and ending Christmas morning. Is there a better gift than knowing we are loved? (If your loved one lives out of town, mail the slips only.)

 

Will there be empty chairs around your holiday table this year? How will you choose to cultivate a spirit of joy and togetherness despite the disappointment?

 

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Family Advent Calendar 2020

 

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:

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Meet My Family and You’ll Know Why I’m Grateful

There’s no way I could have a series on gratefulness without highlighting my sweet family.

This month, we gathered to celebrate all the grandchildren! One has a birthday towards the end of October, two have birthdays in November, and one just recently arrived from Uganda. So, as you can see, there was much to celebrate!

When I look at the picture below, my heart is filled with gratefulness and my eyes fill with the tears to prove it. 🙂

I see a hubster who is the most faithful man I know. He makes dreams come true that I didn’t even know existed.

I see two sons who not only love God, but pursue Him, as well as community with other believers. I learn from them…often. I take no credit for the amazing men they’ve become but truly give God all the glory.

I see two a-mazing daughter-in-laws whom I began praying for when our boys were in elementary school. Of course, I didn’t know exactly who I was praying for…but God did! They are godly women who love their families well. Brian and I often talk about what amazing wives and mothers they are (which is no surprise if you knew their mothers!)

And the grandchildren. Oh my. Well, when I see them, my heart bubbles up with pure joy. Each, already with their own personalities and strengths (note: Grammy’s don’t see weaknesses.)

Many of you prayed for Judah, Liv, Brandon, and Megan while they were in Uganda for 60 days. Thank you! Judah is a happy little boy with a quick bright smile that lights up any room. I have no doubt that he, and the story God is writing for him, will one day be used to bring true Light to dark corners around the world.

I pray this Thanksgiving — and every day — we will be reminded of the treasure found in our families. One day, when all is said and done, it will not be the temporary things of this world we’ll remember, or be grateful for. It will be our families and how we loved  one another well. Yes, that will matter most.

(Left to right – Brian, Zach, Piper, Gabe, Sarah, Judah, Me, Brandon, Liv, and Megan)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4

The Fragrance of Love: Family

by Cathy Baker

Families are like fudge… mostly sweet with a few nuts. Author Unknown

I LOVE my family. 

No naming names here Uncle Jim but I find this quote to be quite true, at least in my family—and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My dad’s mom (Ma-Ma) was a master-maker of that particular type of chocolate concoction, offering up a butter-like consistency with an ever so slight crunch of sugar.

I remember Ma-Ma’s arthritic fingers carefully stirring chocolate chips, vanilla, marshmallows, and nuts in her white Pyrex bowl.  

When God handcrafted our family He melded together a unique blend of personalities, strengths and weaknesses, much like He did with yours. 

In God’s sovereignty, He knits us in the mother’s womb of His choosing, for His purposes and ultimate glory.

Growing up, the dreaded part of the fudge-making process was the constant stirring of sugar and milk until it came to a rolling boil. If not carefully monitored, liquids quickly scorched, leaving behind wasted ingredients. 

The Waltons and other idealistic family shows left many craving that type of harmonic setting for their own families. Truth is, God has used the rolling-boil point of familial situations to teach me deeper aspects of my walk with Him, producing a peace that far surpasses that found on Walton’s mountain. In Him, nothing we experience as a family is truly wasted. 

After pouring the warm sugar mixture over the dry ingredients, the fudge is blended, poured into a prepared pan, and refrigerated. 

The baking process involves a variety of steps, and this final one reminds me of another family…God’s. I don’t need a village. I need a kingdom. People led by the living God who pour out truth, even if it means getting messy. We need not belong to the same denomination, worship the same way, or wear the same thing. When our desire is to put the Gospel on display, we blend beautifully. 

Of course, I can’t close out a post on loving my family without sharing pictures of my favorite three-wee family members. (Soon to be four via international adoption but we can’t share pictures quite yet. Stay tuned!)


Oh yes, I LOVE my family. (Especially my Uncle Jim who has rarely failed to make us smile over the years. He’s my kind of nut!) 

Your turn! Would you care to share one favorite thing you LOVE about your family? 

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who
fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children– Psalm 103:17

Simple {Meaningful} Ways to Celebrate CHRISTmas…Day 5

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 5 }

Consider adopting a family who has a deployed military parent. Being a single parent is never easy (been there, done that!) but this is especially so during the holidays.


Do you know a family we could be praying for this Christmas season?



Operation We Are Here offers a multitude of ways to show the love of Christ to the families of our deployed soldiers and much more. 


God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 
I Corinthians 1:9

 

Focusing on the Holiday Grounded in Gratitude

My favorite Hallmark Christmas Movie

by Cathy Baker

I’m perfectly content siding with the those who are not prepared for Hallmark Christmas movies beginning in October or brushing up against fake-o tree limbs in the aisles of favorite stores while fumbling for the candy corn. No, not yet!

I mean, what happened to the celebration of Thanksgiving? 

Could it be that merchandisers don’t begin displaying turkey platters two months in advance because of money, or lack thereof? Let’s face it, tons of turkeys will give their gobble-laden necks to fill our feastly tables, but other than food, what else do people purchase for this particular holiday? Exactly.

Growing up, I was blessed to experience Thanksgivings reminiscent of Rockwell renderings. As an only child, I relished the warmth of a big family as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins surrounded the holiday table. The sound of familiar laughter, the telling of fondly remembered stories, and the faces of my family surface every Thanksgiving. We could’ve made our own Hallmark movie. 

This year, with our family going in all different directions, I’ll be serving food on Thanksgiving to our community through a ministry Summit Upstate sponsors, Feast for All. If you’re available and would like to serve in some capacity, please email me (click the “e” button on the sidebar.)

So, while I plan to enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies come December, this month I will intentionally focus on the holiday grounded in gratitude. 

How about you? 

Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…Ephesians 5:20
Tiny House on the Hill

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