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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 
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Stay Connected!

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See the rocks that little Daniel is picking up? Even a little child can take one of these stones and throw it into the ocean –

never to be seen again.

I was reminded of a sermon Phil preached several years ago about being connected in the Body of Christ. He shared the Scripture from I Peter 2:5 – 6

5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the

Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”

Phil encouraged us to be those living stones that Peter is talking about. God is using us to build His spiritual temple. Each of us is a stone and the Holy Spirit is the mortar that cements us together. Phil went on to say how easy it is to pick up a loose stone and steal it or throw it away. Yet a stone cemented in a wall – well that is another thing!

Tremendous effort and time would be involved in taking a stone from the wall behind my parents , my brothers, and me in the picture below. That stone wall has been there a LONG time!

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When we are connected in the Body of Christ we are not easy prey for the enemy to snatch away. We are also less likely to be deceived if we have brothers and sisters in the Lord whom we are close to. One of them is more likely to say – “Now wait a minute! You know that does not line up with Scripture!”

We all need people to speak truth into our lives no matter how old we are or how long we have walked with the Lord.

I had the blessing of spending the night with some dear friends last night before presenting a workshop in a town 3 hours away. We sat sharing about our lives and catching up on mutual friends. All of us knew of friends from the past who are no longer walking with the Lord. These were friends who we had fellowshipped with over the years – some who had a meaningful impact on me spiritually.

Why have they walked away from their faith and fellowship?

Some have experienced deep hurts from other Christians – so have Phil and I.

Some have faced tragedy personally and in their families  – many of us have as well.

In asking the Lord about this and pondering the circumstances life throws our way, I was reminded of Phil’s sermon.

Those friends who have

  • stayed in fellowship
  • stayed connected to the Body
  • been built IN as living stones

those individuals are still walking with the Lord despite what they have faced – and some are in the midst of the fire right now.

God does not promise us a bed of roses because we are His children. In fact we are assured that we will have trials and tribulations. God does promise He will be with us through the trials and tribulations of life.

When I am connected in the Body of Christ – those around me support and comfort me during my times of suffering. We’re cemented together.

God is our rock and our salvation….

“anyone who trusts in Him
will never be disgraced.”

Stay connected.

 

Alone

I became pregnant with our first child in 1976 while teaching kindergarten.  It was my third year of teaching and I was thrilled to be having a child of our own. He was born on June 9th, 1977 and, by the way, he was absolutely perfect (just ask him). Two months later we moved to Kentucky so Phil could attend seminary. I no longer had 23 adoring children telling me how pretty I was, how much they loved me, hanging on my every word as I sang “Mrs. Woody’s Silly Songs” and read “Tiki Tiki Tembo”. Now I was alone with a baby all day and Phil was off having fun studying Greek, New Testament, and Pastoral Counseling. I couldn’t WAIT for him to come home so I could have adult conversation.

Somewhere about this time, probably in his Pastoral Counseling class, Phil learned that males generally use around 16,000 words a day while females use about 35,000. He politely informed me that he used his 16o00 words during classes, so when he came home, he had met his verbal quota. Wait a minute! I had barely shaved the top off my quota by the time Phil came home! Our 6 month-old was not conversing much at this point (although according to him he had already read War and Peace).

We had a problem. I was lonely. I had a loving husband and a precious son, but I felt desperately alone.

Phil was busy in classes, studying, writing papers, and working four part-time jobs so I could stay home with our son. On the one hand, I knew Phil was busy with these responsibilities, I also knew I needed adult conversation and interaction. We talked about it and prayed about it and Phil finally said, “Gayle, you need to make some friends.”

OK – that was easy. It was a logical solution. It was also easier said then done. Phil had instant relationships with fellow seminarians. Many of the wives of the seminary students worked full-time putting their spouses through school. They were gone all day. I started taking our son on walks in the stroller hoping I would walk past other young mothers. I didn’t see anyone. I started planning trips to the laundry mat when I thought other mothers would be there so I could become acquainted with them while our clothes washed and dried. Laundry must have been a common chore for the husbands because the only other people in the laundramat were seminary students studying while their clothes agitated, spun, rinsed, and tumbled dry. I was in despair!

For the first time in my life, I was not surrounded by friends who I could share my life with. Phil was (and still is) my most meaningful relationship. But in my desperation for fellowship I was draining him dry. He could not meet all my needs for relationship as much as he tried. He was not interested in decorating, sewing, or painting. His eyes glazed over as I talked about breastfeeding and how long cloth diapers took to dry on the clothes line. I needed female friendship.

Looking back, I think God allowed me to go through this time to teach me how important it is to have healthy relationships.  God refers to the church as a family, an army, a body made up of many parts, a people – all collective words that require and describe some type of relationship. As a Christian I am not out there on my own – I am part of the family of God. Those relationships I have with other Christians teach me a lot as well as produce joyful interaction.

After several months of struggle, God did bring some precious friends into my life. I can truly say that I have fond memories of our time in Kentucky because of those friends.

Then we left Kentucky and returned to North Carolina. Over the years I have been blessed with friendships that have allowed me to grow as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, and most of all, as a Christian. These friendships are vital to my health and wellbeing. These friends have laughed and cried with me, prayed and sung with me, they have corrected me at times and loved me in spite of my weakness.  By living honest, transparent lives before me, these dear friends have allowed me to realize that we all fall short of God’s glory, but we can press on together to become all God has called us to be.

Philippians 3:12-16 (NIV)

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I am so blessed by the friends that have graced my life with their love.

Friends

Cousins playing at Nana and Pop's

I just returned last night from seeing six of our grandchildren. As always, it warms my heart and I am smiling now just thinking about it.  It was SO cute to see the 2-year-old cousins – one boy, one girl – play together. They are quite a pair! As is common with children their age they are WIDE OPEN. They started by “cooking” , wearing aprons and bringing me samples to “taste.”  They soon moved to jumping on the bed, throwing stuffed animals, and went on to performing with a play microphone. They were not concerned with “girls play” or “boys play” ….they just want to play. It is refreshing to see children play with abandon and joy. They aren’t bothered with “gender appropriate play” if there is such a thing. Children only become aware of such issues when adults express their concerns.

It bothered me so much when our children were small and some well-meaning person would say to our daughters “Do you have a boyfriend? ” or “Who is your boyfriend?”  If the answer was “no” (as it should be with young children) it might seem to the child that there was a deficiency, that she should have a boyfriend. Family members may even pick someone out for a child’s special attention and manufacture a relationship that a small child is not ready for, nor does he/she want. We tried to emphasize being friends. That meant that we encouraged our children’s relationships with other children regardless of that child’s sex. We tried to minimize singling out a friend as a “boyfriend”, “girlfriend” or “best friend” ( BFF now?) instead focusing on being FRIENDS. When one child is designated a “best friend” that instantly demotes all other friends to a lesser role. Encouraging healthy friendships is an important responsibility of parents.

John 15:15  (NIV)

15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Jesus said these words which define one aspect of our relationship with Him in a term we should understand and share with our children. Below are some very brief but important elements of a true friend.
  • Friends are welcoming    Jesus does NOT have a “BFF”  – we ALL are His friends if we are called by His name – Christian.
  • Friends share                          Jesus does not say – “If you don’t give that to me – you can’t come to my birthday party!”
  • Friends are loyal, no matter what      Jesus does not abandon us …. even when someone new becomes a Christian
  • Friends tell the truth       Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, He shares everything from His Father with us
  • Friends forgive                     Jesus forgives all our sins, even when we have disappointed Him …again
  • Friends are inclusive, not exclusive      Jesus had friends who were males (Peter, John) and females (Mary, Martha)

Encouraging healthy friendships that incorporate the above traits will allow our children to develop lifelong skills that will not only be a blessing, but will also emulate Christ. When one of our daughters was planning her wedding, we talked about who (besides her BEAUTIFUL sisters) she wanted in her wedding as bridesmaids. “Well, Jonathan and David are the closest friends I have had for the longest time.”

Well, those young men would not have looked so good in the bridesmaid dresses, but they did look very nice in suits as ushers! The fact was, they had been dear friends since childhood and being in each other’s weddings reflected that relationship. Their friendship has evolved to include all their spouses, though now they are separated by distance.

Friends enrich our lives in so many ways and helping our children to value true friendship is a wonderful legacy to pass on.