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Sharing Jesus With Our Children

Sharing Jesus With Our Children

In my devotions this week I have been working my way through the book of Judges. Earlier this past week I read chapter 2 and as I read the Lord caused two verses to stand out to me. Isn’t it amazing that as we read God’s Word it really is alive and the Holy Spirit seems to highlight just what He wants us to glean that day!
 
On this particular day it was verses 10 & 11, “And there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:
 
The children of Israel had seen God do amazing things in their lives! Miracles, provision, protection, fulfillment of promises, on and on the list could go for them, just as it could for us. Yet, when we come to this passage we learn that they raised their children up and as they grew, their parents neglected to teach their children about God. When those children became adults there was an entire generation who, as God’s Word says, did not know the Lord or all that He had done for Israel. 
 
It would be really easy to stop right here and finger point at the Israelite’s. How could they? After all they had seen the Lord do in their lives, how could they just simply forget about God and forget to teach their children of Him?  The thing is, where we could point one finger at them, there really would be four fingers pointing right back at us.
We have seen God work in our lives, there are times in all of our lives where we could look back and see how God provided, protected, worked literal miracles in our lives. Have we been faithful to tell our children about them? Do we tell our children of God’s goodness towards us? 
I long for my children to want a relationship with God for themselves. To place in them a deep desire in their soul to spend time with God daily. I long for them to always be faithful to God and never rebel. I pray about these things on a daily basis for them, but they will not just happen on their own.
 
What am I doing as a mom to point my children to the Lord? What opportunities am I creating for them to speak of the Lord and to tell of His goodness towards us? I have had hard times just like everyone else, but intertwined with the hard and seemingly bad, I can honestly look back and see how God was at work protecting, guiding, providing. Am I sharing those things with my children or am I choosing to withhold God from them? 
What? Withhold God from our children?  None of us would readily admit that this is what we do, but when we don’t speak of the Lord to our children, that is just what we are doing. When we are unfaithful to open God’s Word with them, we are withholding God from them. When we are unfaithful to God’s House to hear teaching and preaching from God’s Word, that is exactly what we are doing. When they only hear us speak of the bad things in life instead of pointing out the good things God is doing, we are withholding God from them.
 
Raising godly children to grow and be godly adults will not just happen. We are smack dab in the middle of child rearing and we deeply desire to do it right! There is a lot of prayer that goes into it, there is a lot of counsel that we seek from older wiser parents who have done it right, there must be teaching and training in our home, not just at church. God must be real in our life in order to share Him with our kids.
 
These two verses have challenged me to step up my game! I don’t want this testimony of the Israelite’s to be mine for my children! I am praying that the Lord will help me to create more opportunities to speak of Him, create more moments to stop and pray with them and for them. We need to seek God first and let Him fill our cup so we can pour into theirs. Oh how we pray for our children to grow in God as they grow up. I have been convicted, challenged, encouraged and I hope you have as well! Keep at it Mama! This is an investment worth making! 
Encouragement for Moms, pt. 3

Encouragement for Moms, pt. 3

As a mom there are times when I honestly feel like I’m just not sure if I am doing this parenting thing right! How do I raise my kids in Christ? What does that mean? How do I handle different parenting moments?  Discipline?

There have been moments in my life when the reality that is parenting overwhelms me!  I want to do this SO right. but how do I do that?

My third and final encouragement in this mini series is this, seek after wisdom!

Proverbs 2:1-5 says, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”

I don’t know about you but I need that wisdom and knowledge from God! We only have one shot at raising these kids up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. One.Shot. That adds all kinds of pressure!  We have one opportunity so we had better do it right!

The good news is, Christ says that if we seek after God’s wisdom, we will find it!

What does seeking after wisdom look like?

I’m sure this won’t surprise you when I say it but, getting into God’s Word daily and spending time in prayer are your top two ways to seek for wisdom!  That alone time with God is invaluable! Pouring over God’s Word and spending time in prayer will help to better equip us as Mom’s! We need a lot of wisdom raising these children, so let’s get on our knees and ask God for it!

Another way to seek after wisdom and find encouragement is to stay faithful to church. Pastor’s spend hours studying God’s Word each week and the Lord gives them messages straight from Him for us! How are we going to hear what God has for us if we are not faithful in attending services?  I remember a time when my dad was not living with our family and we had no other vehicle but the one he drove off with.  We lived maybe 1/2 a mile from our church and my mom was determined that she and her children would be faithful to church no matter what.  Even though our lives were full of uncertainty, our home was kind of a mess, she wanted her children in God’s house. So you know what we did? We buckled on our church shoes and we walked all the way to church. It didn’t matter what was going on at home, we would be in church every time the doors were open. I do not look back on those times and resent my mother for making me go to church.  Instead I am thankful she loved me enough to take me, even if it meant we had to walk there.  I think that is a beautiful testimony of my mother.  It was never a guessing game or even a question if we were going to church Sunday and Wednesday.  Rather a, “we are leaving for church at this time and you had better be ready by then.”  Our children need to know that Sunday is different than any other day of the week. It is the day we go to church and everything else can wait.  I want this kind of testimony in my family!

Next, seek out godly council from older, godly mothers who have raised their children well.  This council can come in a few different ways.  One is through actual relationships with other women in your church or that God has brought across your path who love the Lord and all of their children love the Lord as well and are living for Him.  Ask them questions!  Invite her over for coffee and ask for wise council on child rearing.  This is actually a Biblical thing to do. Titus 2:4 states in reference to older women, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,”  Seek godly advice from women who have been where you are and survived to talk about it!   Wisdom from older godly women is priceless!

Another way to seek out godly wisdom is through listening to or attending conferences on the home.  I often turn to Sermon Audio and search out sermons on the home because I oftentimes crave messages like that! {You can find some great messages on the home by any of these speakers listed in my precious post here.} Listening to them helps me keep my focus, realigns my thoughts, gives me insight and helpful tools that I can practically put into use in our home. Also, investing in good books by trusted authors on the home are very beneficial.

Ladies, being a godly mom will take discipline and work on our part but these things are worth our time and energy!  We are investing in the lives of our children and we only have one chance to raise them right! We will never have it all down perfectly, and God never requires that of us. However, we can run to the One who is perfect and knows how we ought to raise our children. Keep asking, seeking, knocking! God wants to help us be the best Mama to our children that we can be!  Let’s draw closer to Him!

 

Many Blessings,

Wendy

 

 

PS: If this has been an encouragement to your heart, please feel free to pass it on!

Encouragement for Moms, Pt 1

Encouragement for Moms, Pt 1

Nine years ago my husband and I were full of anticipation!  We were about to become parents to a little girl and we were ready for this new adventure!  We had read a lot of books, we had a plan together, we wanted to take on parenting and just knew it would work out exactly as we planned.

Then she came.

Funny how that works out, right? We think we have it all together and then reality comes and we get humbled.

Though she was cute as a button and we have loved the journey of parenthood, we learned real quick like that we really didn’t have it all together when it came to parenting! Our first was an easy baby, never exerted a strong will, was very compliant and sensitive.  Then God gave us our second born.  A little boy who by the age of two had me envisioning him as a teenage delinquent and questioning my ability to parent at all!  My ideal of having it all figured out as a parent crumbled as my child was the one screaming in the store and throwing himself down in a fit of rage despite our best efforts of consistent training!  It was a journey the Lord knew I needed to go on to help me learn more about Him and chisel away in me what was not reflecting Him.

As my husband and I have journeyed through parenting for almost a decade, we know we still do not have it all together and we are in a constant state of learning, but the Lord has been so good!  We are still right in the middle of the training years and maybe you are also!  I just want to take a few minutes over the next week and share with you a few things the Lord has taught us in our short time as parents.  I hope these posts are an encouragement to you right where you are!  Again, we are definitely not perfect parents, nor will we ever be, but by God’s grace we are learning and my hearts desire is simply to encourage you in your parenting journey!

When it comes to being a Mom the first and best thing we can do for our children is pray for them! prayerWhat should we pray about?  Pray about everything!  From the moment we found out we were expecting our children we began praying for their salvation.  We have asked repeatedly that they will see their need for Jesus as their Savior from a young age and that they will accept Him!  The most important decision of their life needs to be bathed in prayer!

Pray that your children will walk closely with the Lord all the days of their lives and as they grow physically ask the Lord to help them grow spiritually. Pray for protection over them! When my husband and I pray for our children, we even go so far as to ask the Lord to blind the eyes of those that would want to do our children harm so that they cannot even see them.  Pray for blessing on their life!  Pray for strength and for their faith to grow as they will go through trials.  It may seem odd to think of our kids enduring trials, but as they grow they will go through some difficult seasons and they need encouragement and prayer as we walk with them through it.

As a parent, we know our children well and we see their strengths and weaknesses. Ask the Lord to help them lean on Him and ask for His help to overcome temptations.  Pray that your children will be tender towards the leading of the Holy Spirit, that they will grow in wisdom and discernment. Pray for their purity in every aspect. Ask the Lord to bring godly friends and influences into their lives {and be sure to guard against ungodly influences}. Friends make a big impact on us do they not? Godly friends for our children are so very important! There really is no limit to what we can bring before the Lord in prayer for our children! Also, let me mention right here how important it is for our children to hear us pray for and with them. Let the testimony in our homes be that our children always knew Mom and Dad prayed for them!

While you are praying, don’t just pray for youprayer1r children but pray for yourself as you raise them!  Proverbs 22:6 is a well known verse about child rearing.  “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  My husband and I often find ourselves asking the Lord for wisdom beyond our years to know how to raise our children up in the way they should go. Parenting is hard work, but is always worth the effort!  We will need God’s constant strength and wisdom to be consistent and  faithful in teaching and training them.  Ask the Lord to help you take the opportunities He creates to teach your children about Him.  Opportunities present themselves every day to point our children back to Christ, the problem is we tend to not always recognize them as opportunities.  Pray that you will be a godly testimony to your children. This can be tough right?  When we are at home we feel we can let our guard down, but that only gives the enemy ample opportunity to pounce.  It can be through lack of patience, inconsistency, lack of discernment, a harsh tongue, or even distractions.  Oh how we need to be in prayer much more often then we are on behalf of our kids!

The Lord has used my own children to often humble me and make me realize how much I need God’s strength, wisdom, and discernment in parenting! Being a Mom has taught me much about my need to depend on God for helping me parent the right way!  I have eaten humble pie! I have had to apologize to my children, I have had to confess my faults to the Lord and there are some days when I just feel like all I did was fail all day long!  What does Proverbs 24:16 say though? “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:”  It may have been a rough day, but tomorrow morning we will get up, pray over our children and ourselves, by God’s grace we will depend on Him more, and it will be a better day!

Don’t forget to also stop and praise the Lord for answered prayer! As we look back we can see how God has faithfully brought us through to where we are.  He has grown our family and brought us closer. Even on the tough parenting days, there are MANY things to thank the Lord for!

I just can’t say enough about how much prayer needs to go into parenting!  Prayer accesses the power of God that we need to do our job diligently, faithfully, consistently.  These children are such precious gifts from the Lord, they are worth getting on our knees before God and interceding on their behalf.

Join me next time as we continue this mini series on encouragement for moms!

 

Many Blessings,

Wendy

Sharing Jesus through Foster Care

Sharing Jesus through Foster Care

foster pic 1When I was a
little girl I remember when I found out that there were children who no one wanted.   Stories of orphanages full of babies and children who had no one to love on them, no one to kiss their owies, or wipe their tears away.  No one to cheer them on and say “You CAN do it!”  No one to share the love of God with them. They simply had no one.  From that moment on God placed a burden in my heart to care for these little ones.  It became a desire that could not be quenched!

“I want to open an orphanage one day where ALL of the children will know they are loved!” I declared one day while in elementary school.

When I learned of foster care that only fueled my passion to help these little ones who had to be taken away from their parents for one reason or another.  Carrying fostering pichurts around with them on their slender young shoulders that no child should ever know.  “I will take them all in!!” I thought.

Here we are, years later and the desire is just as strong as ever.

Before my husband and I married we discussed the possibility of fostering with maybe one day getting to adopt if that was in God’s plans for our family.  The timing had never been quite right, until now.

Over the last year the Lord has been revealing to us that now was the time to begin the process.  Prayers have been prayed and continue to be!  We filled out the application and off it went, many prayers going with it!

Excitement and nerves abounded as we continued to gather information.  Conversations with other foster parents we know were very beneficial!  We have heard all of the, “I could never do that” and “It will hurt to much to give them back!” but we were looking for some more positive feedback from those who have been where we were about to go!  Speaking with different foster parents has actually been SO refreshing!

We will invest in the lives of little ones. We will pray for reunification of families. We will do our best to let both our children, and those who enter our home if only for a season, know they are loved both by us, but even more so by our GREAT God!

foster pic3No doubt tears will be shed as babies come and go, but that simply means they were loved with a great love, maybe for the first time in their lives!  That is a love worth sharing and giving. A sacrifice worth making on our behalf so that others will know that brokenness does not have to be the end.  Healing can be found!  We are asking God to help us share the Light of the World with both children and their parents.

We have entered a world of unknowns and yet, we have peace about doing the next right thing, taking the next right step as God leads us.  We have been loved with a GREAT love and we have been asked by God to share His love with these little ones by letting them enter our homes and hearts, sleep in a comfy bed, protect them, care for them and love them the way Christ loves us. No doubt it will be tough at times, but we have to also remember, it will be worth it!

We would certainly appreciate your prayers!

foster pic 2

James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Many blessings,

Wendy

 

If you have been encouraged by this post please feel free to share it with others!

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Out of the Mouth of Babes

(Today’s guest post comes from my dear friend Emily, who is the adoring wife of her husband and Pastor, Matt.  They are from chilly, but beautiful Canada and have four children!  I know you will be both challenged and encouraged by her today! )
Emily
I have been a parent for just over 9 years now.  Before I had children, and even now, I love to read good biblically based books on parenting.  I suppose I enjoy it so much because it helps me not feel so alone in my feelings and struggles.  Its nice to know I am not the only mom who has gone to her bedroom and cried (or screamed into her pillow) out of pure frustration.  Its encouraging to know that I am not the only mother who has yelled at her children.  Its helpful to hear from moms who have made their way “through the trenches” and come out on the other side with wonderful words of wisdom and advice that they have learned throughout the years.
I pick up these books and expect that I will learn something from them.  That’s the whole purpose of reading them – to glean knowledge from others.  What I don’t always expect is what I would learn from my own children.  That is something that always seems to take me off guard, but always has great impact on my heart and life.  Let me give you an example.
We have a bedtime routine that we try to stick to in our home.  As with anything, it doesn’t always go the same way, but for the most part, we try to go through that routine each night.  After supper, the kids usually have a little time to play, then its bath/shower time.  Once all that is done, we gather in our family room and have song and prayer time.  During this time, we try to go over what we had studied in our devotions from that morning, and then we sing a few Bible songs and pray.  Then its off to bed (and the half-hour to hour long process that seems to take!  Whew! 🙂 )
A couple months ago, my hubby was gone at a meeting (he is a pastor so this is not a rare occurrence) so I was on my own with our bedtime routine.  The kids were all bathed and in their PJs and we had just finished singing.  This particular night all four children wanted to pray, so we went down the row.  I always love to hear my children pray.  I feel it gives me a little glimpse into their hearts and what is important to them.  Sometimes they pray for silly things, and sometimes they pray for things I didn’t even know was heavy on their hearts.
When it came time for the three-year-old to pray, she started with her typical, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this day.  Thank you for our family…”  More often than not, her prayers are pretty much the same each time.  But this night she added a little something that has stuck with me and been mulling over and over in my head for months now.  Here was her whole prayer:
“Dear Jesus.  Thank you for this day.  Thank you for our family.
Help me to learn to obey.  Help mommy and daddy to learn to obey.
Help us to have a good night.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
When she came to the part about “mommy and daddy to learn to obey” I kind of snickered to myself and thought that was funny and cute.  We finished prayer time and I got all the kids in bed.  Then, later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I thought back on her prayer and was immediately convicted in my heart.  I had laughed off the fact that she prayed for me and daddy to learn to obey. She hears me pray for my children all the time to learn to obey, usually thinking specifically of learning to obey ME. 🙂  But as adults, we don’t need to learn that, right?  But that’s not true.  Not exactly.
Oh, I don’t “have” to obey my parents anymore.  I am grown and moved on and my husband and I make our own rules and decisions in our home.  I no longer answer to my parents.  But that doesn’t exclude me from having to obey God.  I will never outgrow that one.  And that is one I haven’t quite gotten a handle on, either.
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes its very easy to obey God. Sometimes it is pretty easy to obey.  I don’t even have to think about it.  I say, “Sure, Lord!  I’ll do that!” responding just like my kids do to my instruction – sometimes. But what about the other times when God asks me to obey – to do some “harder” things.  Do I obey Him then?
God has commanded me to be submissive to my husband.  Sometimes that is easy peasy.  Sometimes, I plain don’t want to.  God has commanded me to love my neighbour as myself.  But I will admit – there are some people in the world I have trouble loving and I certainly have no trouble loving myself.  God has commanded me to put nothing and no one before Him.  But its super easy for me to put kids, family, and friends before Him.  These are things God tells me to do EVERY DAY and I struggle with them EVERY DAY.
Sometimes, there are bigger things God may ask me to do.  Have I learned to obey Him?  Eight years ago God called my husband to pastor a small country church in New Brunswick, Canada.  My husband surrendered to God’s leading, and we went.  But even as we were moving, I refused to agree with God.  I did not want to move there and I was mad at Him and my husband.  I hadn’t obeyed so well then.
I have had many health issues in my life.  Sometimes God asks me to go through some difficult and painful things.  And I don’t always willing obey.  I don’t want to obey and I get upset.  I wonder “why me” and stomp my figurative spiritual foot with my arms crossed.  I don’t really obey then either.  Even now, God has been impressing some things that I need to do and change in my life and heart.  But it scares me and I don’t want to obey.
When I tell my children to do something, it almost never is just for the fun of it.  I tell them to clean their room so they can learn responsibility and to learn to take care of the things they have been blessed with (and to keep our house from becoming a huge disaster area! 🙂 )  When I tell them to hold my hand in a parking lot, it is for their safety because they don’t always pay attention to the things around them.  When I tell them to be kind or to think of others, it is to teach them that other people matter and they need to think of others’ needs and feelings.  When I tell them to share it is to show them that they are not the centre of the universe and that they need to be aware of other people.
Everything I tell them to do has a purpose.  I have a goal in mind to help mold them into descent, kind, giving, and God-honouring human beings.
And I believe it is the same with God.  He doesn’t tell us to do something so He can get a laugh out of it.  He doesn’t ask us to obey even when we don’t want to just so He can show us whose boss.  He has an ultimate goal, a purpose, and a plan for not only our individual lives but for the whole world. That is why it is so important for us to learn to obey.
So you see, it may have been a sweet, simple, innocent prayer said off-the-cuff by my 3-year-old.  But it was a sermon straight to the heart for me and a lesson I needed to hear.   I need to learn to obey.  I need to learn to obey God so I can become the person that He wants me to be – the person that He designed and created me to be. Obeying is for my own good.
And now I often think back on that prayer and ask myself one question:  What is God telling me to do today that I need to obey?
I am so thankful that I have wonderful books to read that help me in my parenting journey.  But I am also very thankful for the four little ones God has blessed me with to constantly teach me more about myself and my God.
~Emily Sealy
Ps: If you have been encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it with others!
Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 2

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 2

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mineWhen thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon theeFor I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.”  ~Isaiah 43:1b-4a

Labels.  They are often a necessity, and when in the right context they are SO helpful!  I  for one am thankful my hairspray has a label on it!  If it didn’t, I would end up accidentally picking up a can of something else and instead of having a hairstyle that stays in place, I could have a radical new hair color!

What about labels in the kitchen?  Labels on spices are helpful aren’t they?  The dinners in our household would  quickly turn into something awfully peculiar if we suddenly had WB0933574nothing on the bottles to distinguish one seasoning from another!  We rely on labels to be correct, true, real!

When it comes to many household products, brands of clothing, labels on groceries, etc these can be so helpful and very needed.  Yet, how often do we carry false labels around that we or others have placed on us?

When we stand in front of our mirror, instead of seeing ourselves the way God sees us, we are often blinded by false branding.

“Failure”, “Incompetent”, “Ugly”, “Loner”, “Introvert”, “Perfectionist”, “Messy”, “Unworthy”, and on the list goes.

We consistently find ourselves so busy believing those descriptions, that we are unable to quiet our minds and hear what God calls us.  I’ve been there, have you?

The past several weeks or so I found myself in this battle.  I would look in the mirror or lie in bed at night and only see the headline, “Wendy, also synonymous with failure!”

 I felt as if I was falling so short as a wife, making far to many mistakes as a mom, inundated with the sense of failing in my role as Pastor’s wife, and then when it came to getting my book published, goodness what was I thinking?  How could God ever use this book in the life of someone else?  There I sat in my defeat, having an early Thanksgiving feast on the lies that my enemy willingly fed me by the spoonfuls!  Failure was etched loved_newacross my forehead, or so I thought.

Oh friend, how thankful we can be that God takes the time to remind us, He calls us different names then we call ourselves.  When we look in the mirror and see “failure”, God says, “No, you are victorious through Me!”  Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

When we lay in bed engulfed by loneliness, He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”, Hebrews 13:5b.  Then reminds us He is, “a friend that sticketh closer than a thumb-forgivenbrother.” Proverbs 18:24

We tend to be so hard on ourselves, berating ourselves again and again with sins we have already been forgiven for.  God says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

God has a whole other set of names He calls us and all of them are the complete opposite of what the enemy shouts to us.  God speaks in a still small voice, the enemy does not.

Believe what God calls you and says about you!  Cling to the names He has given you!  Remember, when Satan begins to heap doubt on us, when he begins to bring up the labels that are not ours to begin with, remember, the enemy is a liar!  Let Christ speak truth to your heart!

Be encouraged!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Images courtesy of this website.

Becoming Hospitable: WEEK 3

Becoming Hospitable: WEEK 3

Dinner time…. it comes every day and sometimes it still catches me off guard!  Maybe it has been a really busy day or maybe it is just because I have a lack of planning when it comes to meals.  Either way, I find myself scrounging in the cupboards looking for something to make!  As much as I would love to be a consistent meal planner, so often I am not and instead I rely on what is in my pantry to give me an idea!

When it comes to hosting people in our homes, it is a wise idea to not let dinner take us off guard!

Now that we have come full circle, learning that our homes do not have to be perfect in order to be hospitable and that God wants us to be hospitable to more than just those within our close circle of friends and family, where do we go from here?

I simply want to share with you a game plan so the next time we sense the Holy Spirit prompting us to open our door and welcome in new people, we will not be tempted to say no!

First, make an attempt to keep the house somewhat picked up and clean on a regular basis Okay, don’t panic!  I have a two year old in my house, I know a tidy home is not always possible!  I have had unplanned company arrive at my doorstep and they have seen the toys on the floor, the counter tops covered in crumbs from lunch time, and dust on my bookshelf!  However, I have found that if I try to keep my home clean on a regular basis, it won’t be quite so overwhelming when company is coming!  I won’t feel like I have to clean the entire house top to bottom and run a white glove over my surfaces.  When company is coming, a light cleaning does the trick and if I don’t get to those dusty surfaces, it’s really going to be okay!  Dust is just a part of life.

Second, plan a meal you have already made previously and know is delicious and even family friendly.  The night company comes is not the night to try a new dinner or Exterior shot of an open Wooden Front Doordessert idea you found on Pinterest!  Cobblers and I do not go together well.  I remember one evening as a young bride I tried my hand at a peach cobbler to serve for dessert with my in-laws.  Something went very very wrong with that cobbler.  It looked so pretty, and I served it to my new husband and his parents and as I sat down and stuck my fork into my own helping, oh it was awful! It was worse than awful, it was downright horrible!  My charming husband gracefully took bite after bite in an effort to spare my feelings, and my in-laws were so very gracious.  Not one unkind comment was made, but I was mortified!  My beautiful cobbler tasted like glue!  I quickly learned my lesson!  When having company, stick with a tried and true recipe that you know how to fix.  It will spare much potential embarrassment!

Third, simply enjoy your company. We shouldn’t be more consumed with having a perfect home and a five star meal than we are sharing God’s love with those around our table.  Let the cares of the day fall to the floor and ask God to use you to minister to those in your home.  Life can be tough sometimes, our days can be stressful, our schedules tight, but taking the time to enjoy the company of others is often so needed.  We need each each others encouragement and fellowship and if we overwhelm ourselves with things that don’t really matter much anyway, we will miss out on wonderful blessing of getting to know others!

As we wrap up this series, let’s make a commitment to become more hospitable to others.  The next time the opportunity presents itself to be hospitable, let’s accept it with open arms!  Let’s not stress out about the condition of our home, let’s step outside of our comfort zones, and enjoy the fellowship!

Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”

God has blessed us with so much, let’s seek to be a blessing to others!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

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Becoming Hospitable: Week 2

Becoming Hospitable: Week 2

We were newly married and living in a shoe box of a home and we got this hair-brained idea to entertain!  One of the first people {aside from family} we entertained in our home was a missionary couple.  My husband and I had only been married a few short months but we were excited {and slightly terrified!}!  My husband had known this couple from before we had even met, but I had not yet met them.  I was a shy, nervous, bride but I really wanted to be hospitable!  I can count on one finger the amount of times we had people in our home growing up.  It just was not something my family did, however my husband had grown up in a home that was the complete opposite!  His parents had people in their home frequently.

I do not even remember what it was I had fixed for dinner, but I remember fixing a mousse for dessert because this couple were missionaries to France and mousse sounded so French.  My mind ran wild before they arrived with thoughts of, what was I going to say?  What if I burned the meal?  Praise the Lord things went off without a hitch and the mousse was absolutely luscious!

In the previous post we mentioned how we often put pressure on ourselves to have a perfect home before we welcome others in, but we learned that an inviting home has more to do with our attitude than it does our clean floors and counter tops.

So now that we have taken the pressure off of ourselves to have everything perfect before becoming hospitable, what do we do?  Well, I am so glad you asked!

The second step is, being hospitable does not just mean we open our homes to only those we know.  Though having family and friends over is wonderful and enjoyable and is something we often love doing, the essence of hospitality does not end with having only friends and family gather.  It also means to entertain those we may not know very well or even at all!

This can seem so intimidating right?  Having people in our home that we do not know can seem a bit frightening even!  Friends, can I be honest and share with you, I am as shy as shy can be!  One of the scariest things for me is walking up to complete strangers {such as new visitors to our church} and putting myself out there in an attempt to make them feel welcome.  I like my back row in the church and I would sit there quietly without disturbing a soul thank.you.very.much.  Isn’t it funny that my comfort zone is completely opposite of what God has called me as a Christian and also Pastors wife to do?  Walking up to the newcomers and making conversation, being warm and welcoming.  The more I do it though, the easier it has become.  I have found I care more about making people who enter our church doors to feel welcomed and loved than I do about my own comfort zone.

The same can be said about opening up our homes to those we may not know well.  The more we do it, the better we become at it and the more we will find ourselves wanting to be hospitable!

My mother in-law is amazing at this.  She and my father in-law have had countless people through their home and they love having them in!  My mother in-law makes everyone feel right at home and is quite possibly the most hospitable person I know!  A guest speaker comes to town? She has them in for dinner!  A traveling college ensemble?  They are bunking in her spare rooms or on the living room floor!  Everyone from family to complete strangers have sat at her dining table and she welcomes each one with open arms.  I want hospitalityto be just like that!

When we choose to stay within our comfort zones and only entertain people we are comfortable with, we can miss out on tremendous blessings!  Hebrews 13:2 states, Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” 

God desires for His children to be hospitable.  He blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.  Let’s see what Romans 12:9-13, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”  

The best way to become hospitable is to simply take the first step!  Invite someone in!  Remember, our homes do not have to be perfect, we just need to be welcoming!

Maybe you are like me, you are shy or more introverted, and the thought of having strangers in your home terrifies you as it did me the first several times we had people in our home!  I want to let you in on a little secret I have that will help.  Before we have anyone in our home, I pray!  I ask the Lord to help the conversation to flow smoothly and help us to think of things to converse about!  It may seem silly, but sometimes I just have no idea what to say to people!  Praying has helped tremendously!

We have learned that our home does not have to be perfect to be inviting and we have also seen that God wants us to be hospitable to more than just our family and friends.  To come out of our comfort zones in order to be a blessing to others.

Join me in the coming days as we learn to practically apply the two steps we have learned.

Be encouraged!

Wendy

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Becoming Hospitable: WEEK 1

Becoming Hospitable: WEEK 1

Friends, I have a confession.  I love HGTV. No way, you do too?!  Thank goodness I am not alone!  I have a particular interest in interior design, though it is something I still have much to learn about!  Beautifully decorated homes, especially those decked out for the holidays, makes me swoon!  There is just something about those twinkly lights, the garland, the red cranberries, oh man, it gets me every time!  Makes me feel so warm and cozy like I could curl up next to an inviting fire, which of course has a perfectly decorated mantel above it and drink hot cocoa while reading a book.  So picturesque, isn’t it?
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Then I have a reality check and I look across my house….. which is terribly far from perfect.  Please, no pictures!  My house on any given day and at any given moment, can resemble that of the aftermath of a tornado, or even a hurricane depending on if my toddler is using a “big girl” cup, i.e. a cup without a lid.  Now, this is not because I loathe cleaning, because as crazy as it may sound, I actually love to clean my house!  I am so weird, I know!  However, I do live in my home, as do my husband and three precious children, therefore it is never ever perfect, except for the hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

With that being said, sometimes the thought of opening my home up to guests makes me feel a bit antsy.  I mean, I love to have people in my home, we love having company, but then there is that perfectionist side of me that wants to make sure every.single.thing. is perfectly in it’s place {and clean!} before I open my door to others.  When I feel that way though, I am wrong.  There is nothing wrong with wanting a clean home, but putting the pressure of “perfect” on myself and my family before we are willing to serve others and welcome them in, that is wrong because I have forgotten what hospitality really is all about.

Being hospitable is not about me, or my house, or the crumbs under my table.  It is an attitude of our heart, wanting to serve and invite others into the home God has blessed us with.  It is about welcoming people in, making them feel at home, and sharing with them the grace and love God has lavished on us.  Do any of us really feel at home in a picture perfect setting?  Oh heavens, I do not!  Especially since I have a toddler!  When we walk into a beautiful, picturesque place my instant thought is, hang onto the baby and to the little boy as well!  My imagination runs wild over what could potentially happen!

Making people feel at home means they see we are just people, living our lives like they do, and if a glass of milk spills across the table or crumbs find their way to the floor, it really is alright.  We will clean it up and keep going because life and crumbs, well, they just happen!  We have to keep the right perspective on what is more important.  Making our guests feel comfortable in our home breaks down barriers as we break bread and have sweet fellowship across the table.

The first thing I would love to share with you about becoming more hospitable is this, our home does not have to be perfect to be inviting.  1 Peter 4:9 states, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”  Two thoughts come to my mind about this verse.  First, is that God does not say “if you feel like being hospitable”, no He just jumps right in and says “Use hospitality”, which makes me believe that He wants us to be hospitable.  Second, the words “without grudging” in this verse could also be stated without complaining!  Opening our door to others should be done because we love the Lord and we love people!  It should not be something we dread doing, especially because of the pressure we put on ourselves to get the house perfectly tidy.  Our home will be inviting if our attitude is inviting.

God wants us to be hospitable people.  He wants us to share generously what He has entrusted us with.  A home to live in, a table to eat at, warm food to share, and time to be invested in others and eternity.  The house does not have to be perfect for us to be hospitable.  We are the ones that make our home inviting, not the cleanliness of our floors and counter tops.

Join me next week as we talk about who we should be hospitable to!

Be encouraged!

Wendy

I always love to hear from my readers!  What have you learned about becoming hospitable?

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Fight For Your Marriage not Against It!

Fight For Your Marriage not Against It!

Have you ever had a wake up call?

I’m not talking about the phone literally ringing and waking you up at dark thirty in the morning.  Rather, I’m talking about a wake up call in life.  A time when circumstances or events in your life alter you and the path you are on and make you really consider where you are headed.

That is what happened this weekend to me.

A shock.  A devastating shock.  Brokenness in an instant for a dear friend in my life.

The news caused me to stop, take a look at my life and my priorities in it and ask God to reveal to me anything that needs to be removed, or areas that need more protecting.

Yes, this conversation shook my world.

My dear dear readers, I come to you today with a heart full of passion for you to see the importance of the vows you made before God to the man God gifted you with on your wedding day.

Yes, that’s right, your spouse is a God given gift!

Before I met my husband I spent hours, literally hours, praying for him.  I poured myself over my Bible, I dove into books about being a godly woman and wife.  I was serious about my walk with God because I wanted what God wanted for me!

Then I met and eventually married my now husband and here’s the clincher that we often forget.  That passion I had for praying over my future husband, the time I spent in God’s Word, it should never stop. If anything it should deepen and gain more momentum.  Great marriages don’t just happen!

Everything that God is for Satan is against.  God is for marriage so therefore Satan must be against it.  And let me tell you friend, he is against it. He is dead set on ending marriages, breaking families, ruining lives.  It is truly devastating.

Having time with God, in His Word and talking with Him through prayer is key to having a godly marriage.  Spending time praying together as a couple, reading His Word, reading books on marriage together, is key to having a God-honoring relationship.  love

As we walk this path of marriage God must remain in the center.  He is the glue that keeps us together!  When we remove God from our relationship with our spouse we simply become two sinners walking the same road.  We are all sinners, we all make mistakes, we all mess things up, and God is the One that teaches us to forgive, to love, to show grace and mercy.  He must stay in the equation.   When He stays in the relationship with us marriage truly becomes a beautiful thing!

Friends, I have stared the devastating results of divorce in the face as I have stood by others who have gone and are going through it.  It is not pretty.  I have heard the pleas of children crying, I have seen the sadness on their faces. It is devastating.  Yes, God forgives, His grace is still showered, but the hurt, that is still there.  A family is still broken.

It seems that the word divorce does not carry much shock with it these days.  It’s one of those, “everyone is doing it” kind of things.  May I remind us all, just because “everyone seems to be doing it” doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Friends, never let a day go by without purposefully showing your greatmarriagespouse you love them.  Fight for your marriage!  Don’t let up!  Pray with and for your spouse throughout every day!  Give no room for Satan to wriggle in between the two of you.  Be putting on the armor of God daily so that when temptations arise that armor will be able to deflect the temptation.  The temptation itself is not the sin, what we do with that temptation can lead to sin.

Marriage is such a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride, the church.  Make the choice to daily unwrap the gift of your mate.  Forgive, move forward, show them the same grace that God has shown you, shower them with love.  Speak their love language loud and clear.  Date each other!  Do fun things together!  Be each others best friend!  Pray with and for them!  Let Satan know that even though he is against your marriage, God and you are for it!  Remember, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. {1 John 4:4}  Your marriage is worth the fight!

Make it a point today to let your husband know just how much you love him!