Lavish Hospitality 3

posted in: 31days, lavish hospitality | 0

When we are in relationship with other people, the main way we communicate lavish hospitality is by the words we speak.

I’ve learned in marriage that it is more often the little things I say (and how they are said) that cause the most damage.

As a Mom, usually when I am tired and not feeling like I’m in charge, is when the anger comes out and I lash out at my children.

Usually with friendships and relationships, I’m more in control of when and how these things happen and I can back out of the situation to regroup, but I’ve learned so much over the years about how my words (and other’s words) can affect our ability to love well.

I can think of three specific relationships, as an adult, that were totally broken by words.  One was letting a misunderstanding get in the way and cause years of silence.  One was silence instead of fighting for a friendship. One was condemning and has just been healed to the point of being able to talk every now and then.

War of Words is such a helpful book by Paul Tripp, about using our words to communicate the Gospel.  As we invest in those around us, take stock of our relationships, and use our mouths to be instruments of grace, let us first look to our role as reconcilers – not those who destroy.

The Gospel & Relationships

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The Gospel and Relationships

This weekend I’ll be spending 36 hours kid-free with my Mister exploring our town and just hanging out with each other.  I’m thrilled at the chance to do this.  We’ve not done an away trip since last Christmas.  Way too long – but so much has happened since then.  While we absolutely adore our two littles, we know there is much value in getting significant alone time with each other – more than the occasional date night (which I love too).

For our relationship, we thrive when we have quality time together.  With his new job and our season of life, this is not always possible.  So, we value those free evenings and don’t try to fill our lives with too much “other” stuff.  But, we know that we need to communicate well for our marriage to thrive.

He is my husband after all.  We’ve now spent three years being married, and 8 months before that getting to know each other, building that relationship, building trust, building intimacy, having arguments and figuring out how to bounce back, seeking forgiveness and seeing what new way we can apply the gospel to our marriage.  He is most definitely my best friend.  If I have any news to tell – he is the first one.  There is no one I would rather travel with.  I so miss him when he’s gone or I’m gone.

That is how I’m beginning to realize that God is with us.  Yes, I’ve been a Christian for 32 years now.  Wow – that’s a long time – but oh, sanctification is a continual process and Jesus keeps getting sweeter.

I’ve read some Scriptures today that talk mostly about suffering – and we’ve definitely had our share of that in our marriage – but to me, the personal pronouns stood out to me.  And lately, those little grammar wonders have been leaping off the page at me in my reading of the Word.

*God Himself will be with us as our God (Revelation 21)

*The surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3)

*That I may know the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3)

*The Spirit Himself intercedes for us (Romans 8)

*His ears are open to our prayers (1 Peter 3)

*That he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3)

Do you hear the personal relationship that is intended and required for the Gospel?  We can’t be second-hand Christians.  WE have to cultivate a personal relationship with the God who created everything.  And you know what – He makes that possible.  He sent Jesus.  He gave us the Holy Spirit.  He will be forever with us – so we can forever know and worship Him.  He’s not going to send His assistant.  He himself will be our God!

And that my friends, is good news.

What I Learned Today:

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

blue hydrangea

I love living life with people and catching up with friends.  Today was one of those days.  And for me, catching up and hanging out usually teaches me something.  Today was no different.

I’m so glad friends are in our lives.  Especially during a season with much pain, I’m thankful for those friends that brighten your day and soothe you and make you feel right at home: no matter where you are.

Three things I learned today:

1.  Being known is something that is sweet – but you don’t want everyone to know you.  I really love having honest relationships with people (and even here on the blog). I love living life with folks and knowing what goes on in their lives and what God is teaching them – what they are walking through.  But, there are times when being known hurts and is painful.  You can do one of two things at that moment – and I think you have to know which moment you are in : walk away or persevere.  You have to decide for yourself with much prayer which one you should do in any given moment.  Walk away – maybe the relationship is a harmful one for you – you need to walk away.  But, in the most important relationships: your marriage, family, or tried and true friends – you persevere.

2. What do you want to be known for? How do people describe you to others? What do you want to be known for to either friends or strangers? There are some adjectives that I would love to be described as – and then there are some, that right now I’m not, but I want to be – so I know what areas I need to work on.

3. Travel – I love it. My friend travels for her job. She is not married and has the luxury of doing so. She packs up and heads out and pours into the community she is in for any given time. I love to travel and see the world. It is much harder with a husband and kids. But, I love living a life of an adventure. That’s why we are always in the car (except during nap time). I want to explore my area – which is ATL and is amazing to explore.

What are you learning right now?

Marriage Impact

posted in: marriage | 2

What is the biggest influence on your marriage?

For those Christians who are reading this – I’m going to go ahead and assume answer #1 will be individual time in the Word and prayer and the fighting of sin.  That’s a given.

Ok – so what is the second biggest influence in your marriage.

As my husband and I have learned in less than two years of marriage (with a 8mo old son and one on the way) – our answer would be SLEEP.   Just this week: first two days of the week, little mister was awake several times during the night because of congestion and Mister always gets up with him at night (which is a huge blessing to me).  But, that doesn’t give him much sleep to function with.  These last two nights, little dude has slept for 12 hours – only waking up once either night.  What a blessing.  For me, its been warmer in the house this week and we’ve not wanted to turn our air down (saving money), and can’t open our windows because of the pollen, and due to pregnancy I’m both hot and congested.  Fun times – but doesn’t allow for much sleep.

When we woke up this morning after about 8 hours of sleep for both of us (we finally turned the air down and Mister had on three layers of clothes to combat the chill), we woke up rested, laughing and tickling the little mister who was overjoyed to start the day.  Mister commented how much sleep does us good!

Sleep deprivation (whatever is less than the magic number of hours of sleep you need to feel rested) can harm marriages on a daily basis more than a lot of other factors.  Sleep deprivation puts us on edge and we are less likely to think before we speak, be willing to serve, and we are usually more prone to sin when we are sleep deprived.

So, do your marriage a favor: SLEEP!

If it isn’t sleep for you, what is the biggest hindrance in  your marriage on a daily basis?

Much and Link Love (November 8 edition)

posted in: weight loss, writing | 0

Daylight savings time and colder weather. But pretty red trees on my way to work. Almost makes up for it.

1. I love fall. Everything about it.
2. I love really long meals with friends (at a restaurant) where you are just talking, sipping, and you have a great waiter.
3. 13 miles hiking through downtown Richmond on Saturday have made my feet really tired.
4. But, that doesn’t negate the really cute boots I got yesterday at Kohls. I love Kohls.
5. I’m doing pretty well on my goals I’ve set.
6. This week is Bstudy, baking, CMA awards, bday dinner for a friend, trip to Asheville and Ridgecrest, youth discipleship weekend with Troy Temple, and a conference with Tedd Tripp (even though I’m not a parent).
7. Vacation is coming soon. 4 WHOLE DAYS. Can’t wait. That means I’ve got some things to accomplish before I go.
8. Here is what is on my coffee table right now: InStyle, Durham Foodie, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Cookbook, a recipe I must share tonight with pictures.

Link Love:
1. Thank you Katie McCoy for this post on single girls waiting for Mr. Right.
2. And while we are on relationships, Ken offers this bit of advice for single guys in Toy Story 3.
3. I have always wanted a map of the world…how cool is this one?
4. Mom and I are going to try this over Thanksgiving, Thanks CasaBrasi!
5. Love how Carolyn McCulley presses on with hospitality and shares with the rest of us!
6. Another thing I’m getting over Thanksgiving…my Christmas tree!
7. I’m going to a holiday open house here, can’t wait!

Carolyn Mahaney on Effective Womanhood

posted in: Women | 3

GirlTalk has been an invaluable tool and resource for me over the years. I wanted to share this with you as a means of encouragement and discipleship and growth. You can see the whole blog here, but these are the 7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman:
So with this in mind, I came up with a list of 7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman (to borrow from the title of the bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). We will consider these 7 habits over the next few days. This list has evolved out of my years of personal study on this topic. It certainly is not an exhaustive list; however, I hope it will be helpful.

7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman:
1. She rises early. (The 5am club. Shopping for Time. This is something I do well for seasons of time, then I get out of the habit – like many of these. But, this is a Biblical concept.)
2. She maintains the spiritual disciplines. (Again, I think some of these go in and out of season for me, but most are a pretty set part of my life now. What are some Spiritual Disciplines that you do? Two books which would be good here are Don Whitney’s and Richard Foster’s.)
3. She focuses on relational priorities for every season. (This is key for different seasons of life. I just had a conversation with a mom the other day about the importance of pouring into people at different times in life – making different relationships a priority.)
4. She sets up regular times for planning. (I had a great idea to do this at Caribou on Friday mornings at 7am – I thought of this before I moved to Raleigh – I need to be more diligent with it.)
5. She develops an effective to-do list system and calendar/planner system. (Well, my planner system is my phone, and my to-do list is usually in my head. It works well for me. Find what works best for you. As long as it works.)
6. She establishes an efficient routine for managing her home. (I need to work on this one. It doesn’t matter if I have a roomie or live by myself. I need to be a manager of my home. It isn’t going to naturally come into place if I ever have a real “home” of my own. How do you manage your home? What tips would you offer?)
7. She organizes her house systematically. (what does this look like? You can find further thoughts on the Girltalk Blog)

Valentines Day Approaching

posted in: sin, Women | 0

The more I live the more I see that this world is not about Christ. Ok – yes, I should know that, and I do. But, the closer I am with God – the more I am in His Word, serving Him, being shaped by Him, the more I am appalled by sin.
Being home the past two days has allowed for good times of reading and little TV watching – that was grand!
With Valentine’s Day on Sunday, I thought I would shoot this out there. How do you prepare for Valentine’s Day? Last night I made some Vday goodies to share tonight and tomorrow. I am babysitting for a couple on Saturday night so they can have a date. I am making brownies shaped in hearts for a potluck on Sunday. I really don’t think much about the fact that I am single on Vday, because I’ve only ever dated one person on Vday, and it didn’t rock my world…so…
I came across this on a blog I read (about fitness mostly, or well-being), and I wanted to counter her 5 points with Scripture. This is how you have to start looking at the world – a biblical worldview!
Noshtopia wrote this: How to have a good Valentine’s Day:
1. Be completely selfish. Phil 2.3: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
This first one is so anti-biblical. I am reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Counsel from the Cross. The third chapter is all about LOVE. It doesn’t say anything about being selfish. I would counter Stephanie’s first point by saying on Vday – find something to do for others. I love babysitting for people around Vday (and I usually say I’ll do it for free) because I want to be encouraging their marriage.
2. Give Your Inner Voice a Day Off. Counter this with: Preach the Gospel To yourself every day. I actually agree with her point. She knows, as we all do, that if we are single we are usually hating life on Vday because our culture, especially our church culture, makes it miserable for you to be single. I think culture looks upon singleness as a good thing (for mostly wrong reasons). I have found it mostly difficult to be single in the church because most people are pressing you to get married, or women’s events are geared toward mothers or wives; not just women.
3. Get Glammed Up and Go Party. Counter this with: 1 Peter 3.3-4: Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. Do I think it is a bad thing to get dressed up and go out to eat, art show, somewhere fun – NO. I love doing it. But so much of our culture presses this issue, especially for single women. This Sunday night, I’m going out to eat with new friends who are coming to look at the seminary. Will I look pretty – as much as I can. But, I can’t find my worth in this – or try to use it as a flirtatious model for attracting men.
4. Make Love with Yourself. Counter: Hebrews 13.4: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. This one appalled me more than any of the others. Where do I begin? Sexual activity is just for the marriage of a man and a woman for life. No where else. I was watching a repeat of “American Life” on ABC Family. The mother of one of the teenagers told the father (in front of the son) – “He’s just wanting to figure out if he wants oral sex from one or sex from the other?” For real, on ABC Family? What kind of family show is that? Well, don’t need to watch that anymore. Do I really need TV?
5. Write Down 5 Things You DO Have. Counter: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. The Word tells us to be grateful for all the blessings we do have. God has been so gracious to us. And on this Valentine’s Day I am grateful for: new friends, new ministry opportunities, my family, friends who have loved me for a long time, the Word, provision.

So…how do you look at Valentine’s Day? What are your plans for the wknd?

Redeeming Relationships: God, Marriage, and Family: Randy Stinson

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

I had the privilege of hearing my boss speak at Gilead Baptist Church this past Sunday night. Gilead is starting a Gilead U on marriage (in the spring) and parenting (in the fall). It is to help their church see the importance of these two relationships, how they influence the church (and vice versa) and how the gospel has to be applied to both.
Dr. Stinson, who is the Dean of the School of Church Ministries for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, spoke on this topic to kickoff the semester. It is always a pleasure for me to hear him speak because I know what he is saying is practiced in his own home, and I laugh the whole time. Also, I am convicted by what he says and can apply it to my life now – even though I am neither married or a parent.
(Italics are his, regular type is mine).
He started at the beginning – Gen 3.14-15. A Declaration of War! Cursing and enmity. Right there – from the very beginning, Satan has plans to attack the marriage. This war centers on the home. Through the family (conception, children), Satan’s destroyer will come. (Jesus is born of a virgin Mary. You can trace his lineage by reading the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew)
You can see this all around. Divorce rate (even within the church, among Christians), in the tabloids at the check out counter, marriages failing, unfaithfulness on the rise, cohabitation so rampant among young adults, delay in marriage.
Satan wants us to get comfortable and not realize that we are at war in our homes. If we let things slide, tempers flare, complacency dominate, Scriptures and family worship fade away – then we are setting ourselves and our marriages up for defeat.
Malachi 4.6 talks about the work of Elijah the prophet in “turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” Stinson remarked that one of the ways Satan wages war on families and the home is that the father’s hearts on not turned toward home, their children. They are turned toward work, business, succeeding, and other personal interests.
Ephesians 5. This passage is central to the cosmic interaction. It is not primarily about submission and authority. It is about the gospel. Because of the fall, there will be no more harmonious marriages and argument free families. Dave Harvey wrote a book entitled When Sinners Say I Do if you need to read up on this topic – great book. Ephesians 5 paints a picture of Christ and the church. Marriage is just the picture. Since Satan hates the gospel more than anything, he wants desperately to destroy marriages. You and your marriage are targets.
If you care deeply about the picture Ephesians 5 paints, its not about who mows the lawn or pays the bills, it is about the gospel.
If you love the gospel more than everything else, all else will pale. How will you portray the gospel authentically in your marriage and in your home?
Several times a day we are reminded of our dependence upon God. When we eat, we are reminded that we have to eat – God doesn’t. When we get thirsty, we are reminded that God never gets thirsty, but send us the Living Water.
Paul says no one hates his own flesh (Eph 5.29). Yet, why don’t we treat out spouse that way? We are so often consumed with ourselves, when we should be consumed with others…namely, our spouse. You wake up every day loving yourself. Love the gospel so this (other’s focused, loving your spouse) becomes second nature. Many decisions we make are for ourselves. We are self-centered, not gospel-centered.
What if God’s greatest goal in your marriage was not to make you happy? What if the bigger picture is your sanctification and portraying the gospel? I think quite a lot about this, even though I’m not married. I think about my pickiness in a future mate, even those whom I will accept dates from? I want the gospel to be revealed daily in my marriage. If that can’t happen, I don’t want to be married. I do want someone I’m attracted to, because God did create sex and didn’t intend for it to be a chore, but more than anything else, I want a God-glorifying marriage. Embrace this function for your marriage, namely sanctification, instead of praying and longing for a way out.
You don’t need to question the will of God for your marriage. If you are in a marriage, that’s it. Don’t worry about if you are married to the wrong person, or made a mistake. God means for your marriage to stay pure and strong. And to the same extent that God loves the Gospel (He sent His Son) and loves your marriage (He created the institution of marriage), Satan hates it. How can you go home – right now – and bless your wife (or husband)? We care more about ourselves than we do about the gospel and our spouse? What needs to change in your life so you care more about your marriage and the gospel then yourself?
The Harris brothers wrote a book for (mostly) teenagers entitled Do Hard Things a few years ago. It was calling teenagers to not take the easy road, but to pursue hard things, excel at what they do, press on. Dr. Stinson said another great title for a book would be “Do Little Things”. So often we fail in doing the little things in life. This is a biblical concept – be faithful in the little things (Luke 16.10).
Sanctification: I don’t know what God’s will for your life is – but I know it is sanctification. Since He loves His Son preeminently, you can bet you becoming like His Son is a first priority.
Many will say “my wife (husband, job, traffic, kids) make me impatience (angry, selfish). No, these things don’t make you ________, it just reveals that you are _______. So, if you get impatient with your husband because he fails to take the garbage out when you ask him to, then its not him that makes you that way, the situation reveals that your heart is full of impatience and full of self. Matthew 15 says this very thing: “what comes out of the mouth defiles a person.” What comes out of the mouth reveals the state of the heart. You do the right thing – don’t be concerned with the response of your spouse. You do right. Start with correcting your heart and yourself. A saying my Mom always says is you can never control what others will do, just your response to the situation.
Forgiveness is key element of a healthy marriage:
1. Ask for it.
2. Create a climate for it.
3. Remember, you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, not your own.
4. This is a lifestyle, not an emergency valve.
5. Reconciliation is key – not separation, subversion, or undermining.

The question I left asking myself is this: What would help me picture the gospel the best? Would it be to get married? Would it be to stay single? What it be
to be faithful in the things that God has called me to: to love people, disciple girls, write, be a homemaker, take care of myself, be a good steward? I think I’ll choose to be faithful where He has me, and have faith that He will take me where He wants me.