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Month: February 2015

Just Like Esther

Just Like Esther

A few years ago, I spent about 6 months studying the Book of Esther for a ladies’ Bible study I was leading at our church.   And a few of the main lessons I took away from that study have been “swirling” around in my mind over the past several weeks.  I thought I would share them in hopes of encouraging some of you.

Having grown up in church, I have heard this exciting story – the story of  Queen Esther –  my entire life.  I actually have no recollection of when I first heard it.  I just have “always” known it.  But, as I have learned to do from my husband, I decided with this time around to go a little deeper and get as much as I can from her life.  And let me tell you – after studying her for those 6 months,  I gained so much that can be applied to my personal life.

Most of us who have gone to church for any length of time can probably tell the story ourselves without even looking at the Bible.  We can tell how Esther was raised by her cousin (who was old enough to be her father), then sent to the palace of the king along with all the other young unmarried women in the land.  After a year of preparing, she went before the king, he found favor in her, and she was suddenly married and became queen of Persia!  She had to keep her Jewish heritage a secret.  Then, Haman (the king’s right-hand man) devised an evil plot due to a deep seeded hatred for the Jews.  And now, all the Jews were to be killed in just a couple months.  So it is up to Esther to save her people. She goes before the king – unannounced –  to plead for her people, the Jews.  Going before the king uninvited was punishable by certain death, unless for some reason the king held out his scepter to pardon them. So she goes before the king, the king holds out his scepter, and she escapes death.  Then she reveals that she is a Jew, and pleads for her people, and saves them from death as well.

It really is a beautiful story.  But while I was thinking about and studying it, a thought struck me.  We commend her so much for her actions.  We praise her for her most famous line, “If I perish, I perish.”  We think of her as a woman with no fear – only faith and bravery.  And while she was these things and more, I think we put her up on so high a pedestal that we forget one important thing.  She was human.  She wasn’t some super-Christian.  She struggled just like us.  

Look closely at Esther chapter 4, when Mordecai (her cousin) first sends word that she needs to go in to the king.  Her initial reaction was not, “Sure! I would love to go and risk my life to save my people.  That sounds like fun!”  No!  Her first reaction was fear and to come up with excuses.  She didn’t jump at the chance to risk death just to save a people that didn’t necessarily ask her to save them.  She was afraid.  She was uncertain.  She made excuses – trying to think of why she was the last person to do this job.

And that’s how we are too.  How many of us actually ask God to bring hard times into our life.  We don’t beg God to bring trials, hurt, and grief into our life.  No, we actually pray that it doesn’t come.  But yet, God does allow hard times to come into our lives.  Sometimes He asks us to go through what appears to be an impossible situation.  A situation that we don’t understand. And we don’t want to go through it.  Just like Esther.

But in the end, she knew what needed to be done.  She knew that God had a plan, that He had brought her to this place for “such a time as this,” and that no matter the outcome, He would be with her.  Even though the situation seemed impossible, suicidal even, she knew it was what she needed to do. And God showed Himself so powerful.  The king did find favor in her, he did not have her killed, and through it all, her people were saved!

Another thing we need to remember about Esther is this (and this really hit me this last time I read through the book) – Esther didn’t have her whole story written out in the Bible for her to read like we do. She didn’t know the outcome of her story.  When she was getting ready to go in to the king uninvited, she didn’t know he was going to extend his scepter to her.  She really was fully relying on God and her faith.  She was literally placing her life in His hands.  To me, that makes her even more human and just like us.

We don’t know the end of our story either. When some trial comes in our life, and we don’t know the outcome, we have nothing else to do but lean on God and our faith.  Just like Esther.

This concept has been so much in my thoughts lately.  It seems like everywhere I look, there are people – friends, family members, people I read about on Facebook – going through some hard times. And I mean hard.  I see their pain, their grief, and I feel it with them.  And I find myself wondering how its all going to work out.  How they are going to get through it.  I know that sometimes things in this life can hurt so much.  The trials, the pain, the grief – all of it doesn’t make sense.  And it may never make sense this side of heaven.  That’s when God reminds me of Esther.

She didn’t understand things either.  Why was she taken from her happy home one day, never to return.  Why was she chosen out of all the other women to be queen.  Why did she have to keep her Jewish heritage a secret?  Why was she so lonely in the palace?  Why was she going to have to risk her life for her people?  Why did all this happen?  Why? How would it end?

I’m sure all those thoughts went through her mind and heart.  But in the end, she went with her faith.  She didn’t become resentful or angry or bitter.  She didn’t turn her back on her faith or God.  She knew that He knows best, and she stayed true to that.  And God brought her through it all.  Was it easy?  No way.  Was it over in a day?  Nope.  Her trial started when she was taken from her home and only seemed to get worse.  But did God show Himself true to her?  Yes.  Did He give her strength to get through?  You betcha.

So I guess what I am trying to say is this.  Life is hard.  But God is good. Trials come into our lives.  But God is always there.  Hurt, pain, grief, and confusion all occur in our life.  But God takes care of us.  We just have to lean on Him, trust in Him, and allow Him to get us through.  Sometimes my heart is very heavy for people who are going through some very difficult times.  Things are happening to friends, family members, and even personally that I plain just don’t understand.  But I am encouraged to know this.  That God is good.  He is always there.  And He will take care of us. He knows the end of our story even though we don’t.  Just like He did for Esther.

~ Emily
Tips on Parenting

Tips on Parenting

We had 10 days until we were moving out of state.  I was one week overdue with our first baby and began feeling a bit overwhelmed!  Okay, I was feeling a LOT overwhelmed!  Our baby girl did not want to make her entrance any time soon and I was convinced I would be the first woman ever in the history of the world, to be pregnant forever.

Then, the day arrived.  After hours upon hours of labor and over two hours of pushing, our baby was born.  Oh she was precious {and I was exhausted!} and as they pbabylaced her into my arms for the first time I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Both love for this sweet baby and relief that labor was over, washed over me!  I held this tiny seven pound fourteen ounce baby in my arms and she was our very own to raise!

A few days later and we were ready to be released from the hospital.  Sent out by doctors and nurses to care for this new baby, to meet her every need, to love her and raise her to one day be a godly, responsible woman.  Wait, where was her instruction manual?!  I had never been a mom before!!  What if I didn’t know how to do this?!

Well, here we are nearly eight years later and I am pleased to say that first baby is now in lower elementary and she is happy, healthy, and growing just fine 🙂  One of the first things I learned about being a mama is that….. I didn’t know much about being one!!  Isn’t it funny how we tend to think we have parenting all figured out before we are actually parents?  Then we have children and realize, “Wow, I know nothing about this!”

Oftentimes when people think about having a baby they think only of that, having a baby!  The neglect to realize that babies grow!  They are not babies for very long and though those first weeks and months feel like hard work as we adjust to little sleep and giving the majority of our attention to someone other than ourselves, when our children are older we look back and think, “That time was a piece of cake!”

Raising children is such a blessing and if we’re going to be honest it is hard work!  It is absolutely a gift from God and it takes a lot of time.  How many days have I thought and prayed, “Lord, help me not to mess them up!!  Please make up the difference where I lack!”

I am by no means an expert, I am right there with you Mama’s, in the trenches of child rearing and training! In the 8 years I have been a Mama here are a few things I have learned along the way.

First, pray!  The world wants our children, Satan wants our children.  We are in a spiritual battle for their lives and this mama is not backing down.  I will forever and always storm the gates of Heaven on behalf of my children.  Having children has taught me so much more about how important prayer is!  I don’t know how to raise godly children because I have never done it before!  So I pray!  I pray Scripture, God has said in James 1 that if any of us lack wisdom, let us ask of God and He will give it liberally!!  I need that wisdom!!  I pray that God gives my husband and I wisdom beyond our years to know how to raise these sweet ones entrusted to us by God Himself.  Here are a few of things I pray for about my own children:

~ Pray for their salvation at a young age!

~ Pray they will always walk closely with the Lord

~ Pray for their protection, safety, and for God to bless them

~ Pray they will never be enslaved to sin, but will confess their sins quickly

~ Pray for their future spouse and his/her parents as they raise their children

~ Pray that God will help them to have tender hearts towards His leading in their lives.

I would encourage you if at all possible, pray with your spouse as you pray for your children.  I cherish hearing my husband intercede in praying for our children.

Second, seek wise council.  Find parents who have raise their children well, whose children are godly and ask them for their advice.  My husband and I have sought the counsel of several godly parents and are always desiring to hear godly counsel on both marriage and parenting.  We know we need advice and the Bible clearly teaches that the older are to teach the younger {Titus 2} and that in the multitude of counselors there is safety {Proverbs 11:14}.   Older parents who have raised up godly children who are now godly adults have a lot to offer we younger parents!  Also, books written by good Christian authors are a huge help!  My husband and I often read books together on both marriage and parenting and we have found so many to be helpful resources!!

Third, consistency consistency consistency is also key.  Oh heavens, the temptation to not always be consistent can be tough.  It does not pay off in the long run though!  Consistency is huge!

Fourth, try to incorporate Scripture and teachings of Christ into everyday parenting as much as possible.  There are SO many verses in the Bible that teach character, and discipline, respect, love, etc..  When handling sibling squabbles we often use the verses about treating others how we would want to be treated, a soft answer turns away wrath, love your neighbor as yourself.  {Prov. 15:1; Luke 6:31; Mark 12:30-31}  Do daily devotions as a family, teach your children Scripture, teach them that prayer is important and teach them how to pray!  As they grow teach them how to study God’s Word!  God is the One that will ultimately do the work that needs to be done in their heart.

Fifth, don’t just treat the outward action, try to reach their heart.  The outward actions often reveal the inward man….. what we see on the outside is often just the fruit of what is going on in the heart {1 Samuel 16:7}.

Sixth, remember you and your child will never be perfect, don’t expect perfection.  We are all sinners.  When I do wrong as a parent by speaking to harshly, jump to conclusions, or whatever, the Lord will often convict me of my wrong doing and my need to make it right.  I have also given my children permission to let me know when I sound unkind because how we say things is also important.  What we may need to say has no need to be said in an ugly tone.  It is very convicting and humbling to have had my children let me know in a very kind way that how I said something was unkind.  Yet, it is also a good reminder for me to be careful in my speech and to ask the Lord to filter my words and how I say them.  Asking forgiveness of my children when I have been wrong is humbling, but it also is a sweet time.  My kids are always so quick to forgive and reach out with a hug.  I want them to know how important it is for them to ask forgiveness when they need to and I need to lead by example.

Parenting is the most rewarding and one the toughest “jobs” at the same time.  My husband and I truly desire to raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  We make mistakes, our children make mistakes, but our mistakes point out to us how much we all are in need of the grace of God!

I hope this post has been an encouragement to you.  We don’t have it all figured out, we are still learning, but these are a few things we have learned and been taught along the way!  We love talking to older wiser parents and reading books on parenting, but ultimately, wisdom comes from God and we are in need of His wisdom in large doses!  Making sure to spend daily time with God is key!  Keeping my relationship right with God will make my days as a Mama go much more smooth.

Keep on keeping on!

What Is True Love?

What Is True Love?

Typically I am not one to weigh in on the latest trends or fads, upcoming movies or the top 10 music groups.  I have my opinions about all of those topics, just like the next person, but I usually keep my thoughts to myself on the matters.

Last week I was involved in a ministry outside of my home and the topic of a movie was brought up.  I listened as the ladies around me began to share about a few of the details of the movie and their thoughts on it.  I was incredibly thankful to hear that they were horrified at the story line and yet burdened at the same time.  Since hearing of this upcoming movie that has since been released, my heart was breaking.  A movie that has nothing to do with true love yet has masked itself with and deceived others into believing it is.  This, this is the very reason the armor of God is so important.

Satan is sneaky.  He comes at us not with a pitch fork, but rather as all of our wildest dreams come trueLion-Backgrounds!  Though he is not all knowing, he knows what is important to us.  All he has to do is observe us for awhile and it will be evident to him what our highest aspirations and dreams are.  He then disguises himself as such and waits for those unsuspecting victims to fall into his trap.  Remember 1 Peter 5:8 warns us as Satan is truthfully described, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”  The prey of a lion typically doesn’t see him coming….. he is quiet, cunning, sneaky and patient.  He will wait for just that right moment and then he will pounce and devour his prey.

All of us were created with a desire to be loved.  Loved with unconditional love.  Look at our society, the evidence of this is overwhelming.  The world is seeking to be loved and more often then not search in all of the wrong places and end up hurting, wounded, and feeling abandoned.

Hollywood is no fool in this matter, the producers, film makers, directors, they all are well aware that we are that way.  They know we crave true love and they have monopolized on that and have fed us lie after lie after lie about what love truly is.  Hollywood has fed us that true love is romance and sex and how lovemany have eaten those lies, swallowed them up whole and ended up confused and wounded when true love was not the outcome?  True love has nothing to do with outward physical beauty, it is not found in a one night stand, it is not found in extra-marital affairs, nor in movies Hollywood produces.  When has Hollywood ever truly benefited our lives?

True love is not about seeking my best interest and fulfilling my desires.  Yet, if we do not spend time daily putting on God’s full amor, we will be deceived by the ultimate deceiver. We will believe the lies spoken to us.  We have been given the warning about Satan and what he really is, but we have also been given a solution, Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” 

When I think of true love my mind cannot help but be turned to the cross.  When I let my mind dwell on the kind of love Christ showed to me there, it will cause me to weep.  The beating He endured because He loved me, willing to have His Father turn His back on Him in order that I may have forgiveness, knowing the sins that would so easily beset me (Hebrews 12:1) He came anyway, bore my sin and offered me only love and desire to have a relationship with me.  That my friend, oh this is true love!

As I allow Christ to work in my heart He miraculously allows me to be able to love those around me.  Seeking to serve them, seeking their best interest, forgiving when I have been wounded, continually reaching out no matter the rejection.  True love isn’t found in bed, though it is an expression of the true love a husband and wife share, it is far different than the example Hollywood thrusts our way.

True love does not bring bondage, true love does not bring confusion {1 Corinthians 14:33, For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…..”}, true love does not crossatduskdemand, is not self-seeking.  God gives us His description of true love in 1 Corinthians 13,

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth:” 

This is not what has been portrayed in the movie recently released by Hollywood.  Don’t be fooled!  Put on the full armor of God to be able to resist the temptations Satan will hurl your way!  If the full armor of God is not on that means we have left a hole to allow Satan to come in through.  The only things Satan will bring you are regret, shame, hurt, confusion, lies…..  Christ offers freedom!

When seeking an example of what true love is don’t seek for the definition in a Hollywood movie.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His Wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!”

All images are courtesy of bing images

The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game

Have you ever heard a song that maybe you have heard before, but for some reason you actually listened to it this time, and the Lord used it to speak to the deep places in your heart?  I had that happen to me recently.

I was busy in my kitchen doing dishes and getting lunch ready.  As is pretty usually for me, I was listening to the Christian radio station while I was doing my work.  And on came a song that made me stop, turn up the volume, and truly listen to the words.  I had heard the song before.  It has been around for a few years.  It is even on the movie “Fireproof” which I have watched quite a few times.  But for some reason, it hit me differently this time.  The song is called, “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller.  Here is an excerpt from the song:

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord

And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord

Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident

Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You

While I’m waiting I will worship

While I’m waiting I will not faint

I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord

And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord

Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait

Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident

Taking every step in obedience

We all experience it.  We like to call it the “Waiting Game.”  It seems like we wait all the time in our everyday lives.  We wait in line at the grocery store, at the bank, at the DMV, at a stop light, at the doctor’s office.  But we wait in our spiritual lives as well.  We wait for God’s direction and guidance.  We wait for Mr. or Mrs Right to enter into our lives.  We wait for God’s healing.  We wait for blessing.  We wait.  We seek answers from God.  We pray.  And we continue to wait.  But what are we doing while we wait?

Time is precious and I don’t really want to waste it.  That’s why when I am in the kitchen and I have something in the microwave, I wipe the counters while I’m waiting.  When I am baking something in the oven, I don’t just stand there and stare at the it until the buzzer goes off saying its done (assuming I remembered to start the timer! 🙂 )  No, I do something else while I am waiting.  I do the dishes.  I change the laundry.  I talk to my kids.  I prepare another part of the meal.  Or, sometimes, I sit down and check out what’s happening in the world via Facebook.  The point is that I actually DO something while I am waiting.

So why should it be any different in my spiritual life?  When I am waiting on God, I should keep doing what I know I need to do.  As the song says, I should worship and serve while I am waiting.  I shouldn’t just “stand around” saying, “Okay, God.  I am waiting for you to show me what the next step is, so I’m just gonna not read my Bible while I wait for your answer.”  Or, “God, I asked you to help us financially as we are struggling.  I’ll just wait here for you to fix that and then I will get back to teaching Sunday School.”  But sadly, all too often, those are the exact things I do.

Those are not the responses I should have.  A good example of doing it right is found in the Bible.  In the Old Testament, God told Abraham to “Go,” but that was about all the information He gave.  He didn’t even tell him where to go.  Yet still, Abraham obeyed and went.  He did what He was supposed to do until the next step was shown.  Was it easy?  Surely not!  Was Abraham maybe a little apprehensive and fearful?  I think so!  He was moving all his family to who knows where and it would take who knows how long to get there.  But he trusted that God would show him the answers in His time.  And God did.  God always does.

So yes.  We all wait for things in our lives.  We have things we want to see happen in our family, our church, our own life.  But while we are waiting for God to give His answer or to show us the next step, we need to keep doing what we are doing.  Keep serving.  Keep reading our Bibles.  Keep attending church.  Keep on.  As a famous animated fish says, we need to “just keep swimming.”  It won’t be always easy.  Sometimes it will be hard, maybe even painful.  But we can move ahead with boldness and confidence that God will show us in proper time, and we can find comfort in doing what we can while waiting.

And while we are doing these things while we are waiting, we will be more focused on the Lord and not on ourselves, giving ourselves less time to doubt, fear, worry or backslide.

Hmm… Suddenly the “Waiting Game” doesn’t seem so hard.

~Emily

I Love My Church Family!

I Love My Church Family!

I absolutely LOVE our church family!  I can honestly say I have never been a part of a church that has been quite like this one.  A church body that truly exudes the love of Christ!

When we first moved to the south I felt uncertain and probably a bit insecure!  This Cali girl had never lived in the south before, nor had I lived in the country!  Now, let me explain because I know some people probably wouldn’t even see where I am as living in the country, but folks, seriously.  When cows can look at you through your dining window and do so each evening as you sit down for dinner (probably wondering if you are eating their long lost relative…..) you know you live in the country!  Can I get a witness?!  Town is about 15 minutes away though and for that I am so thankful!  It isn’t terribly far away 🙂

As we settled into our home and began to fellowship with our church family, the Lord began to knit a deep bond with our church families.  My family and I absolutely love going to church and meeting with God’s people in His house to both worship Christ and to fellowship with our church family.

We are a small country church that God is doing big things in!

One major observation I noticed quickly is how important family relationships are tchurcho the people down here.  This was new to me!  I grew up without really knowing my cousins or Aunts and Uncles.  When you grow up that way you kind of think that’s how everyone else grew up, right?  My husband grew up with all of his family close by and some of his cousins were his best friends.  Through him, I have developed a desire to see our children really know their extended family and the godly heritage they come from.  My husband’s grandparents, wow, I cannot even explain to you the impact they have had in my life in the 11 years I have known them, but I want to be just like them!  You know the verse I Corinthians 11:1 that says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  Yes, that is them!  God has blessed our family with an amazing heritage and I deeply desire our children to know about it!

Then the Lord moved us down south and wow, the family relationships are so closely knit!  I love it!  I love seeing how much adult children love their parents and grandparents and other extended family!  Family is such a tremendous gift that can oh so easily be overlooked or taken for granted.

Something else that has been a blessing to me is how our church family acts like a family!  They care for one another, encourage one another, serve one another!  It is an incredible gift when the body of Christ acts like the body of Christ is supposed to act!  I tell you what, God blessed us when He brought each one of these people into our lives!  To get to know the Lord better together, to get to serve together, to get to go through the trenches together.  What a blessing to serve here!

What I am really thrilled about is that soon my mom will get to be a part of it as well!  She gets to join this body of Christ when she moves in just a few weeks!  I can’t wait for her to experience a church family like she has never known before!  I have no doubts she will be greeted with open and loving arms.

This is a first for me, to be serving in a smaller local church body, (the churches I grew up in were 500 +) but man alive, never judge a book by it’s cover, if you know what I mean!  A close knit body of believers and growing both spiritually and numerically!  I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in the coming weeks and months ahead!  He has a LOT in store for this sweet body of His who simply want to know Him better and point others to Him!

What a privilege to be married to the Pastor, the one who said, “Lord, wherever You lead we will follow.”  The Pastor who was willing to move to the country straight from city life, to lead and serve this body of believers.   How sweetly blessed I am!  Thank you, Lord!

Welcome Our New Guest Writer!

Welcome Our New Guest Writer!

I am thrilled to introduce you to a dear friend of mine!  She is a fellow Pastor’s wife, mama, and friend to many!  The Lord allowed our paths to cross 15 years ago and I am so thankful He did.  We met at college and were introduced by a mutual friend who said, “I think the two of you would hit it off!”  Boy was he ever right!  It has been a joy to get to know her, and just a fun fact: we discovered our birthday’s are only one day apart!  To this day we find ourselves keeping in touch through texting almost daily and face time at least once a week!

When I think of the friendship God has blessed us with my mind instantly thinks of the passage Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”  Just as David and Jonathan in the Old Testament found great strength and encouragement in their friendship, many times God has used this friend of mine to be my “Jonathan”. 

She has a passion for encouraging women in their daily lives to desire Christ more and to have a more genuine relationship with Him than ever before.  So without further a-do, let me introduce you to our new guest writer here on Morning Cup of Coffee!

Hello and welcome! My name is Emily and I am a thirty-something wife and mother who is keeping busy loving my family and Lord. I am married to the love of my life – the only boy I ever dated – who also happens to be a pastor. I am American but husband is from Canada – which is where we live. We have four children who provide us with much blessing, entertainment, and, yes, even some frustrations every now and then. I occupy my time with daily housework, homeschooling, looking for new recipes to try (any suggestions??), and enjoying my children.

A huge passion of mine is women’s ministry and to see other women, both young and old, find encouragement and refreshing fellowship together – whether that is throughMattandEm the local church or online at blogs such as this.

I enjoy writing and putting into print what is sometimes hard to say in words. You will find that I write not with eloquent speech or witty stories, but from my heart. My aim is to help us all constantly turn our eyes to Jesus in every situation we encounter.”

Learning true Hospitatlity

Learning true Hospitatlity

We were getting ready to have company and my house did not look how I wanted it to.  I don’t set a high standard for myself….. just you know, perfection.  🙂

I folded the laundry, ran the vacuum, got the bathroom wiped down, and just when I thought I was done, there was a sticky spot I noticed on the floor!  The floors!  Oh my!  Look at them!  I suddenly could not remember when the last time I ran the steam cleaner over them and just envisioned our guests noticing and silently judging.  My imagination, ya, it runs crazy every now and then!

The thing is, for so long my mind has been muddled on what true hospitality is.  Does my house really have to be “perfect” before I invite others in?  Does everything have to be “just so” in order for my guests to feel at home? Does it really have to be as stressful as I am making it?

Honestly, I enjoy having a clean home.  Clutter and I have never been friends, vacuuming is a daily occurrence, dishes are done and put away, but I don’t really deep clean that often. Are you horrified yet? 🙂  I love having a clean home, but we still live in our home and before we have company I often put the pressure on myself to make my house look more staged than lived in!

A few weeks ago I began a personal Bible study on hospitality and it has challenged my heart!  I LOVE the quote I read even just this morning, “We are a culture that has put in place nearly impossible standards for our hosts and ourselves.  Birthday parties must be perfect, dinners need to be Instagram-ready, even play dates are themed. (and I love this part!) What we’ve lost in the perfection is the comfort and companionship that comes with being with another person in their mess.  It’s not about living in filth, it’s about making relationships more of a priority than the homes they take place in.” 

So good.

Having a clean home isn’t bad.  Wanting my home to be welcoming isn’t wrong!

Where I take a turn in the wrong direction is when I put more emphasis on my clean home than I do on the guests that are about to fill it.  Spending more time thinking about the dust bunnies under my couch than I do pondering and praying about how I can be a blessing to our company.  It is wrong when I basically become selfish and self-centered about our home instead of thinking of the needs in others and giving of myself and our resources to meet those needs.

Sometimes being hospitable doesn’t take place in my home!   At times it is seeing those that stand on the street corner in need and when the Lord pricks our heart we make a u-turn, go to McDonalds, purchase a meal, drive back to that street corner and look that person in the eye and share the love of Christ with them both by feeding them physically and reaching out to them spiritually.  It may feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but the more we reach out the easier it will become.  It is exactly what Christ would do.   Hospitality isn’t just about reaching out to those within our comfort zones, but reaching beyond them as well.

I love having people in our home.  Our family loves people!  Yet, I have been challenged in this study to begin to care more about the people I am having over than I do about the toothpaste I may have missed wiping up in the sink!  People are more important than the presentation of my home.

No worries, I don’t plan to stop cleaning my home and have a pig-sty 😉 I am however, by God’s grace working on not stressing myself out over the state of my home before having company, realizing that staging doesn’t need to take place in order for my home to be inviting.  Our home is lived in, and that’s okay!  What is more important are the people about to enter it and making our home a warm and inviting haven for all who enter goes beyond cleanliness.

I’m thankful for the lessons God is teaching me, the conviction it brings, and the challenge to know Him more.  Christ is the epitome of hospitality.  He sees me in my mess and He loves me anyway.  He points me back to Himself in a gracious and loving way.  He is always available without even a moments notice.  He knows that my heart is more important than my outward appearance.

If you ever stop on by and my home is not quite up to par, just know that I am thankful to have you at my table!  You are more important than having all of the toys put away and every surface dust free.  We will be glad to have you!