90 Years of Thankfulness

We had the privilege of celebrating a birthday Saturday with a dear family friend, Nana Kehrli. She is 90 years old, still lives in the home where she raised 3 lovely daughters, just down the road from where she was born on Stoney Creek in eastern Tennessee.

Nana, almost everyone calls her that, has slowed down some physically, but her mind is as sharp as a tack. She is an amazing cook – her Southern pork chops just melt in your mouth. Eating “farm to table” is a trend that is growing in popularity throughout our culture – Nana and her family have always eaten that way.

It could certainly be a factor in her 90 healthy years.

She and her sisters ran a grill, a small community restaurant several years back. It was very popular with local folks who knew they would get the best in home-cooking. They probably never made a lot of money because these Southern ladies treated their customers as they would guests in their home.

“Honey, did you get enough? Do you want some more?.”

“Here, take this plate to your mother. I hear she is feeling poorly.”

If Nana knew someone was recently widowed, she would send an extra meal home for lunch the next day. If she knew someone was hurting financially, she gave a discount.

Nana has seldom gone to the doctor in her 90 years, besides the births of her three daughters. “I don’t go to the doctor, he’ll just find something wrong with me.” she has often been heard to say.

Nana has been a widow since 1968 when her Air Force husband was killed in the Vietnam War. She raised her daughters with the love and support of her close knit family on Stoney Creek.

I told Nana Saturday that she could be so thankful for her 90 years of health and mental acuity.

“Gayle, honey, I get up every morning and thank God for all He has blessed me with. I didn’t know of anyone who is as blessed as I am.”

What a testimony of God’s faithfulness!

Colossians 2:6-7 says

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

May Nana Kehrli be blessed with God’s grace and peace in her remaining days.

I want to follow her example – overflowing with thankfulness each day for God’s blessings.

 

Company is Coming!

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I am vacuuming. My children ask – “Who is coming over?”

so – I only vacuum when we have company?

Out of the mouths of babes….

I used to scurry around madly fussing at anyone in my way before we had company over. I always left things to the last-minute so I was stressed and made my family stressed as well.

This is the way I viewed hospitality when I was first married.  I had gotten all these wedding presents like –

  • dinner ware
  • silver ware
  • placemats
  • cloth napkins
  • matching glasses

So I thought hospitality was setting a lovely table with flowers and having people over for dinner. The first home Phil and I lived in was in Bryson City, next to the road – NEXT to the road. The rent was $65.00 a month. (can you picture a house that was torn down soon after we moved?)

We invited a couple over after church and I had made a meal of spaghetti (one of two dishes I could fix) and set a beautiful table with those wedding presents.

It was raining.

That would not have been a problem, but our roof leaked and there were four of five streams of water coming from the ceiling. The first thing we did when we entered with our guests was put bowls under each stream.

So much for the lovely table setting.

The dictionary defines hospitality this way –

  1. Hospitality – the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
  2. synonyms – friendliness, welcome, helpfulness, warmthkindnesscourtesygenerosity,

Just look at those synonyms!

  • friendliness
  • welcome
  • helpfulness
  • warmth
  • kindness
  • courtesy
  • generosity

Hospitality can be so much more than inviting people to your home.

Romans 12:9-13

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Each time I read about hospitality in scripture, it was connected to showing love.

I believe hospitality is an attitude of the heart.

AN ATTITUDE WHOSE BASIS IS LOVE.

Hospitality is an attitude of the heart.

I know a young woman named Sadie who lives hospitality. She invites people over and makes them feel at home, makes them tea and listens. Sadie lives hospitality.

It is the attitude of her heart.

I had the privilege of shadowing Elaine White at United Christian Ministries. Remember those synonyms for hospitality? friendlinesswelcome, helpfulness, warmthkindnesscourtesygenerosity, Elaine demonstrated every one of those with each person she saw.

It is an attitude of her heart.

A friend shared with me about opening her home to “strangers” – someone her daughter had met who needed a place to stay.

It did not go well.

But the attitude of her heart was to be welcoming, kind, and generous. She honored God – even though some people are unwilling to receive such love.

Sometimes showing hospitality is difficult.

It is not always easy – but God is asking us to have a hospitable heart.That may mean opening our homes, inviting people over.

It may mean being kind, friendly, and loving at Wal-Mart.

II John 1:12

“I have many things to write to you, but I prefer not to do so with paper and ink. I hope to see you and talk to you FACE TO FACE – so that our joy may be complete.”

Face to face –

this is when we can practice hospitality – whether it is in our home, while we work, when we see someone at Wal-Mart.

Then our joy may be complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

He’s Coming, Again!

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The last of our children and grandchildren left yesterday.

We had a wonderful time with family – coming and going at various times with a brief overlap of everyone. It can be wild and crazy at times, yet the joy of having our children and grandchildren in our home supersedes all other factors. We know we are truly blessed.

As I mentioned in my post on December 13th, I spent a lot of time preparing rooms – making beds, putting pictures of the anticipated occupants in the rooms, (learned from a dear friend Donna), a small dish of special candy in the adult rooms, and fresh towels. As much as possible, I wanted each family member to feel welcome and loved.

I also put away any breakable or valuable non-essentials so that we did not have to say “no” any more than necessary.

The preparation paid off – I enjoyed the seven days we had family here and we only broke two dishes, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

So, yesterday we started cleaning up. Phil vacuumed, I put things away. One load of sheets is in the dryer and the second load is in the washer as I type this.

Yet, something my older brother texted me with his holiday greeting keeps resonating in my mind.

“Jesus is coming again!”

We made so many preparations to celebrate the first appearing of Jesus. All were special and held meaning for us and our family as we celebrated Jesus’s birth.

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But what preparations am I making to prepare for His second coming?

In I Thessalonians 5: 19-24 (MSG) Paul addresses this very issue –

19-22 Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

23-24 May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!

The preparations are quite clear –

  • allow the Holy Spirit to empower us
  • listen to those who speak God’s truth
  • don’t be deceived – test everything by the standard of God’s Word
  • throw away the bad, avoid everything that is evil
  • God will make us holy and whole
  • God is completely dependable – HE WILL DO IT!

God will make us prepared for the second coming of Jesus. We can begin the process by following the first four steps – but ONLY God can complete it.

The joy of preparing for our family’s arrival was the anticipation of them actually coming. Our granddaughter Adella said to me, “Nana, you are so happy when I come to your house.” Yes, I am, and I am so pleased she knows it.

If we had not prepared, I dread thinking of the consequences. No food, no beds ready, no clean bathrooms….There would be no joy on Macktown Gap!

No one knows when Jesus will come again. We DO know He is returning.

I want to commit to intentionally preparing myself – spirit, soul, and body – for the return of Jesus, my Saviour and Lord.

Jesus is coming, again!

The One Thing

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Ever hear of the sisters, Mary and Martha?

They were friends of Jesus and also among those who followed Jesus and listened to his teaching. Biblical scholars believe that Martha was probably an affluent widow. She also practiced hospitality.

When she invited Jesus to her home – she had to be ready for a crowd – his entourage came with him.

The Bible says she was encumbered or stressed by serving.

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.

So she does what most of us women do when stressed – she complains.

She goes right to Jesus!

She attempts to get Jesus to agree with her – “I’m doing all the work – shouldn’t Mary help?

God does not necessarily agree with the cause of our distress – we might think it is –

  • My mother-in-law
  • My child who refuses to potty train
  • My boss who doesn’t seem to understand that I have children
  • My adult child who doesn’t call me
  • My messy house

Jesus does care – just not about the same thing that is bothering Martha.

Mary chose the “good part” – that was The one thing worth being concerned about – which certainly meant what Mary made her choice to do—sitting at Christ’s feet, to hear his word.

So, does Jesus not want to eat, you may ask? Don’t we have to attend to the needs of our families, especially when there are little ones that depend on our care for their very survival?

Of course. The Bible is clear in teaching that we have responsibilities to fulfill and it is godly to do so.

Yet, are we so busy that we neglect the “One Thing” that feeds our souls?

“Martha’s care and work were good in their proper season and place; but now she had something else to do, which was unspeakably more needful, and therefore should be done first, and most minded.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

I had the privilege of participating this weekend in a women’s retreat sponsored by a local church, yet including ladies from various congregations. It was a precious time of fellowship, worship and teaching.

It was a time to focus on the One Thing – sitting at Jesus feet.

God was faithful to meet us and His presence was evident as we shared together.

I am so thankful that I was able to be like Mary this weekend  – sitting at Jesus feet.

 

 

Emphasis

Daniel is 5!

Daniel is 5!

“Happy Birthday to YOU!”

This is something to celebrate!

Children, and all those who are young at heart enjoy birthdays. It is not just about getting older, it is reaching that milestone of another year. It is a day when we emphasize a person and what they mean to us. For our children, it is a day to make them feel significant as a part of our family.

In art, emphasis is described as “special attention or importance given to one part of a work of art”. This often causes the piece of art to communicate meaning because of what is emphasised. An example is the Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci. One’s eye automatically goes to the middle of the painting  – to Jesus – because of the placement of the figures on each side, the perspective of the walls, and the lightness of Jesus’ robe. All these qualities emphasis the importance of Jesus, the focal point of the painting.

When we celebrate members of our families, we emphasize their importance which results in their feeling loved and appreciated. Each family celebrates in unique ways. It does not require a lot of money to make a child feel special. In fact, spending more may result in less personal attention.

Some thoughts to consider when planning children’s’ birthday celebrations:

  • limit the number of friends to the age of the child (this does not include cousins, who are entitled to come)
  • ask the child what they would like to do for their party (one of our children wanted friends to come and play baseball – how fun and easy was that!) One grandchild had a camp out in the backyard with a movie projected on a sheet hung from the deck.
  • if the child wants to go to Paris, France – discuss the realities of life, and then plan accordingly
  • during warm weather – one grandchild had a water party with water games like water balloons and watergun battles
  • decorations can be simple – don’t fall in the trap of copying a Pinterest layout that stresses you out for a two-year old – the child won’t notice
  • as children get older, the parties do NOT have to get bigger and bigger. A special outing as a family may be a chance to celebrate that child and his/her interests.
  • make sure the celebration is about that child  – not the photo ops.
  • most importantly – let your child know how thankful you are that God added him or her to your family

In Psalm 127, Solomon is rejoicing in God’s blessing of giving children. In verse 3 he says –

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.

Are we responding to our children in such a way that they know they are a blessing to us? Or do they feel like they are in the way….a bother?

We must let our children know daily – not just on their birthdays –  that we are so thankful that God joined them to our family.

May we place emphasis on each child’s value to ourselves and to God.

Home Making

Where is the food?

Where is the food?

My dear friend Carol’s mother-in-law recently passed away to her eternal home. She was a godly woman who poured out her life for her family. I read her obituary in the paper and I was so struck by the words that one of her sons wrote. (he is a writer and an editor at the Asheville Citizen-Times) I am quoting him, James Buchanan –

“A devoted homemaker known for her cooking and generous hospitality, she crafted a modest home into a focal point of happy memories that would be the envy of an opulent mansion, overseeing generations of gatherings of import for family and friends. These ranged from holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals to more modest events such as the arrival of the season’s tomatoes from the garden the family tended for decades.”

How true this was! I benefitted from being a family friend who was graciously included in Brittie May Buchanan’s family celebrations from time to time. The food was delicious and there was always enough – even when growing teenagers were part of the mix. Brittie’s home was modest, but there was a wealth of love and genuine warmth that no decorating could compete with.

You always felt at home.

I was thinking about this Saturday as I was cleaning our home in preparation for a visit from some of Phil’s cousins. We have discussed the need to re-paint our den since it has several places where there are nicks in the paint and marks on the walls. Yet, there is not time to paint before the visit from these cousins.

Does it really matter?

No.

Now, I do need to clean and dust – we don’t want the attack dust bunnies to scare our guests away!  They are coming to see us – not our house. I need to be reminded of this occasionally because I am a visual person.

I would rather set the table with pretty napkins and matching place settings with a carefully arranged bouquet of flowers as a center piece than fix the food that will be served for the meal.

Oops.

They are coming to eat.

Do we spend hours on Pinterest looking for the perfect table setting before we are willing to have anyone over for a meal?

Brittie Buchanan cared about what really mattered – feeding people’s bodies and hearts. Pretty flowers don’t fill stomachs.

Her son went on to write:

“She was an unerringly kind woman who always put others before herself, their concerns before hers, a woman who practiced her Christianity with humility, foreign to the habits of looking down on others or speaking ill of anyone (including those who deserved it).”

Brittie Buchanan left a legacy of love. “She crafted a modest home into a focal point of  happy memories” – that is real love. Paul talks about what real love looks like in I Corinthians 13: 4-7

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I love decorating the dinner table and will certainly continue to do so. Yet I want my focus to be the love that is shared in my home that feeds the spirit and soul of those who come.

I want to a have a home that welcomes all who enter with God’s love and kindness, regardless of how it looks.