The Unexpected Meal {Teaching Hospitality Through Example}

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Recently, in a concerted effort to get our house sold, we decided to have the carpet replaced throughout the house. If you’ve ever had carpet installed, you know it is mayhem. Everything in the rooms of your home displaced and moved from room to room. Workers in the most intimate parts of your home…for the entire day, if you have a lot of carpet.

Ours took from morning until supper time, as we had the entire upstairs — 4 bedrooms, a loft, and 6 closets — to re-carpet. And for the entirety of our day, three men who we’ve never met, walked in and out of our closets, bedrooms, and through our front door.

Five of my young boys were home that day, and they looked on with wonder at the work being done, and the workers doing the work. These were men that didn’t dress or talk like their teachers at school or church. These were men that took breaks outside in a cloud of smoke. These were men who’s bodies were covered with images and words they don’t see on their parent’s arms and legs. These men worked hard and worked quietly, and like everyone else…had a story. And that story was now spending a day in my home.

When lunchtime came, the boys and I started hunting for what we had to eat. We landed on simple turkey and cheese wraps. My 10 year old offered to help, and while we began to make lunch, I asked him to run upstairs and get a lunch order from the men carpeting: Turkey and cheese with salsa or with mayo/mustard. I assumed they would decline and spend lunchtime away.

But, no. They all wanted turkey wraps. I listened from the kitchen, and each of them paused in surprise, and accepted.

My son ran downstairs with the most enthusiastic smile on his face. I knew what he had just discovered: The joy of hospitality. He worked diligently to compose paper plates of turkey wraps, chips and salsa, and even placed two oreos on each plate. He was delighted and proud. It wasn’t the lunch he was proud of…we’d had fancier. No, it was the delight of knowing he was about to bless some hard-working men who were in his home for the day.

One by one the men came downstairs, grabbed a plate and sat outside to eat. One by one, they came in with empty plates and thanked us for the meal. And my boy beamed.

You see, I learned that day, that our children take our cues about hospitality. Our children hear us when we say,

“We don’t have anything worth sharing,”

“That’s awkward to feed strangers,” or

“Let’s keep to our business.”

They also hear us when we say,

“Share whatever we’ve got,”

“Give with a cheerful heart,” or

“We are blessed to be a blessing.”

They value what we value and get excited about what we think is worthy. Let Christ be our true treasure; for when his is worthy, any and all who he brings to us become souls…of value.

Blessings,

Ruth

www.gracelaced.com

Life to the fullest

Life to the fullest

Life to the fullest.

We all want it.

Adam and Eve wanted it.

We know how to get it too — our way.

It’s close enough to touch. We could just reach out and grab it…

Just like Adam and Eve.

Satan’s campaign rivaled television’s best commercials. No touch-ups necessary. That fruit couldn’t have looked more delectable.

And it probably was. Imagine the burst of flavor on their tongues.

But as they swallowed the last sweet morsel, life to the fullest disintegrated into a pile of ashes.

The thief had known it all along, of course. He’d come to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a), and they played right into his hands.

As do we.

Crazy…

The abundant life we long for, that we seek through food, materialism, addictions, damaging relationships, lusts of this world…

It’s forever elusive when we insist on getting it our way.

But Christ came “…that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b).

Do you hear that?

Life to the full is possible — possible through the Christ who came and redeemed our rebellious souls on the cross! Abundant life is held out to all who will take it.

Friend, in these last days, Satan is pulling out all the stops. Do you see it? Feel it?

He’s attacking on all fronts, in all fashions. We have brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe enduring merciless persecution.

And then we have those who are simply lulled into blissful unawareness… believing their efforts to find life — on their own terms — are harmless, not a big deal, even necessary.

Are we they?

Have we allowed ourselves to be deceived?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Don’t be mistaken. We will reap the consequences of life our way.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. He wants nothing less than to devour you and me.

But when we turn our eyes on Jesus, we find true life.

A shortcut past all our problems? No.

A promise of pain-free living? No.

No, this is so different than life “our way,” it may be difficult to understand at times.

But this is a life of love, of never being abandoned, of eternal hope, and deep abiding joy.

John 1010

Where are you today, friend? Attacked? Shaking off deception? How can I pray for you?

If you’d like to talk more about what abundant life is all about, or if you’d like information on how life coaching can help you live life to the fullest, I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Jennifer

How to Say “Yes” to God

How to Say Yes to God

I don’t know about you but as soon as I became a Christian I wanted to do something FOR God. I was a pregnant teen who found forgiveness and freedom, and I wanted to make my life count for Him.

Over the years I found many ways to serve Him, and to be truthful it was a lot of work. I taught Sunday School, led Bible studies, and volunteered in numerous ministries in church. I found myself wanting to shout, “No, enough is enough!” I was burnt out to say the least. By burning myself out, I thought I was saying, “Yes” to God.

Over time I learned that there is a difference between saying yes to my ideas vs. saying yes to God.

So how do you know what God wants? And how do you say yes?

Awareness.

God’s calling to you will be different than His calling to anyone else. What is He asking of you? Ask God to make you aware. For example, in 1999 I read an article about orphans in China and my heart was stirred. Over the years I was drawn to adopt. It took many years before my husband was open to the idea, yet God made me aware of the plight of orphans long before He called me to do anything about it. It took 10 years from the time God made me aware of the situation until we brought a baby girl home, but it all started with God making me aware of the need.

Forgiveness and Freedom.

Looking back at my life there is a “before” and “after” aspect to working for God vs. allowing God to work in my life. What was the transforming moment? It came when I attended a post-abortion Bible Study. I faced the past sin that still plagued me and took my pain and shame to God once and for all. I realized His forgiveness, and I embraced the freedom that grace provided for me.

None of us can step forward in the work of God until we deal with the old junk that is weighing us down. We can only say yes to God when we give Him all areas of our hearts, even the areas we try to hide. Especially the areas we try to hide.

Conviction.

We can be aware of and burdened for many things, but conviction is God’s call for us to do something. Conviction goes beyond your knowledge of a problem. It’s a piercing of your heart, knowing that God wants YOU to do something about it. In 1998 my pastor asked if I’d be interested in helping to start a crisis pregnancy center. At the time I was a happy and content wife, mother and writer. I didn’t “need” another ministry. Yet, as I prayed about it, God convicted me. “Yes, your articles and books are going around the world, but what are you doing to help the young women in your own community—just as you were helped?”

These weren’t audible words, but God’s message to my heart was clear. He wanted me to say yes to Him in this area, not because I needed another ministry, but because He needed someone to love on young women who are often condemned and abandoned. Conviction helped me understand God’s heart. Conviction also invited me to join God-at-work.

Acceptance.

The final step in saying yes to God is realizing His plans may be different than your own. I never planned to be a pregnancy center director, a teen mother mentor, or even an adoptive mom. Once I accepted these callings I found great joy in living them out. This showed me that God knew me even better than I knew myself.

We’re told to “dream big” when we’re young, and I did. Then I had to accept that God had even bigger dreams than I ever imagined. I also accepted the fact that if God called me to these areas, He was calling my family, too. My three children were with me often as I served at the pregnancy center. They’ve become close friends with some of the young moms I’ve mentored. And they’re big brothers and a big sister to the kids we’ve adopted.

For so long I felt guilty that these callings were taking time away from my kids. Now I accept that God had plans for my kids, in them, too. Each of my older kids is a servant of God in his or her own way. I know without a doubt the me saying yes to God has been a model and an inspiration for them doing the same. My older kids have grown up not worrying about doing something FOR God, instead they’re following God’s leading and calling in various ways. They understand that following God isn’t just about them, but about a world that God wants us to reach one yes at a time.

Blessings,

Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com

Making Room for Discipleship Training

Let’s face it. Life is busy. Even if your children don’t participate in an abundance of extracurricular activities, life is still busy. Keeping house keeps moms busy. There is always something left undone by the end of the night.

It is so easy to get caught up in the things that are immediately seen. You see dirty dishes and dirty floors, and know you must wash them. You see unfolded laundry that needs tending to. Children need to be fed several times a day. Those needs that beg your immediate attention are often the things that you focus on caring for.

These are not bad things to care for. It is required we care for our children and homes. But, too easily we lose sight of the vision God has given us as mothers. We get too wrapped up and forget the crucial, most pressing need of our children: discipleship. Not passive Bible stories or Bible coloring pages and crafts. But, real, intentional, scheduled-in time to sit with our children and nurture their hearts to live for Christ.

Being a living example is also excellent, and necessary, but the intentional teaching couples with the living examples. It’s difficult to have one without the other and disciple successfully. Jesus spoke in parables in order to help people understand eternal things. But He also walked as a living example of how to live for God; how to trust Him and depend on Him.

I could live for Christ, but if I don’t talk about Him with my children and have conversations about why I make the decisions I do, why we avoid certain things, how to embrace others, then what good is that to them? They only see a mother who lives a morally dignified life. Nothing more. Walking out our faith is essential. But so is setting time aside to specifically teach and talk about Christ; just as He did with his own disciples.

Creating these hard stops specifically for discipleship training does several things. Now, when I say hard stops, what I mean is stopping whatever it is you’re doing to meet together for discipleship. You can do this by adding it into your schedule or doing it at a specific time each day [or several times each day]. Stopping hard simply means dropping whatever you’re doing at that specified time and making it happen.

Here’s what it does:

  1. It shows your children learning about Jesus is important and a priority for your family. When you specifically set aside time from each day and guard it, your children see that you value this time.
  2. It develops a consistent habit of training. Having this habitual teaching and training helps your children grow consistently in character and in Christ. In addition, it will keep the things of God in the front of their minds and they will more readily be equipped to apply the teachings to their lives.
  3. It offers direction and instruction to help your children make better choices. When we intentionally teach our children, we can often prevent bad choices or bad behavior before they develop. We are being proactive rather than reactive.

Planning these times are not hard, it’s following through that can be challenging. The first week can be easy because you begin with gusto. But once the second and third weeks roll around, circumstances arise that seek to steal this time. We must guard this time as precious. Keep it a priority and do not allow complaceny to creep in.

I find  what happens when I miss a day, is that I write it off as no big deal; kind of being nonchalant about it. The problem is, because of this attitude, I do it again the next day. And the more I allow that time to slip away, the easier it is to let it go. Before I know it, our discipleship time is a distant memory that has dissipated due to a complacent attitude.

There will be days missed. It happens. And by all means, give yourself grace, for His are new every morning. But, the goal is to get back to it as soon as possible. Do not let distractions rob you of intentional discipleship with your children.

By Christin, Joyful Mothering

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