Encouraged and Empowered by Hospitality

We had planned a quiet day at home: fallen leaves swirling around the backyard we shared, our daughter playing on a borrowed swing set. We would leave this home soon. I cherished another day looking out French doors across the vast green where chickens and barefoot toddlers roamed wild, but Thanksgiving Day in this fashion just seemed wrong. Visa decisions and an international move loomed as we prayerfully anticipated our son’s upcoming birth, trying also not to relive the day we met his brother whose home was made in heaven.

We joined our church family to lift words of spontaneous praise to the Giver of all good gifts. My hand swooped across my belly as I relished the swishing that indicated a child thriving within. Dark clouds had been dominating the light of joy which made brief, infrequent shifts in the daily climate. Grieved over this storm I hadn’t chosen to weather, I silently asked forgiveness and begged for peace. Certainly, these are among God’s greatest gifts.

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Minutes later, a mom of nine, with whom I’d previously only shared pregnancy horrors and birth stories, approached me, and said, “We would like to have your family over for Thanksgiving dinner. “ She proposed this so matter-of-factly like her house wasn’t full enough and she didn’t have a sufficient amount of work to do.

Shocked and relieved, I scribbled down her number, promising to call her after discussing the plan with my husband. But what was there to discuss? We had a clear calendar, an empty fridge, and restless souls.

I entered her home round belly first and toddler on my hip. I wish this memory included me bringing along some tasty treat to add to the spread. We had little to offer aside from ourselves, broken and weary as we were.

No one seemed surprised that we were there which says much about our holiday host. She embraced me with butter-covered hands, pulling me against an apron adorned with flour. Her hair was plastered to her brow, evidence of the labor of the day. I basked in the beautiful glow communicating a persisting joy I hadn’t possessed in quite some time.

There was a sense of belonging in this place which was more like the set of a sitcom throwback than a modern monument to perfected homemaking. I waddled over to a well-loved La-Z-Boy and settled to watch football while the oldest siblings took my eager toddler to bounce around a super-sized trampoline. I exhaled my worries and breathed in the enticing aromas of the equally sizable supper to come..

We feasted on fresh-baked rolls, sweet potato casserole, and new-found friendship. We savored the sweetness of spoken memories and a family founded in Christ. We ate until we were full, and we wasted the day away in the comforting silence of satisfaction punctuated by stories, laughs, and the occasional temper tantrum of a tired two year old.

It seemed, the forecast within my weary ministry/momma heart was changing. I sensed sunlight peeking through the clouds. And with it, a realization: I had vowed to carry my light to the edges of this earth but had allowed the fierce winds of sorrow to blow it out. How could I shine for Christ in the darkest of places when I carried a flameless candle in my own home? I pondered these things while I walked around the track at the park in attempt to prod my son out of my protruding belly. My induction attempts were unsuccessful, but the change in thinking as I walked ’round and ’round were well worth the waddling.

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Our home grew to include ten tiny toes a few days after this life-giving holiday celebration and the days of healing that followed. Our daughter stayed at our new friends’ home, jumped on the trampoline all day, and went to sleep in a room full of giggling girls.

I can never repay her for what she unknowingly did for me those days, how she awakened my weary soul to see all that there truly was to be thankful for. I can, however, extend grace born out of gratitude for the sacrifice made to make us daughters of God. This gratitude moves me across the world with my little light in a depth of darkness that makes my knees knock together, begging God for added souls to our spiritual family.

Kindness blew away the swirling storm and replaced it with sunshine in my soul. I was encouraged and empowered, ready to share the warmth of this kind of genuine love for the Lord and for the least of these —like me— around the world. I take lessons learned from beautiful friends like this one, open my heart and prop wide my front door to the hurting and whole alike. The forecast looks as promising as a Thanksgiving spread.

 

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Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee, Mommy Moments Blog Hop @ Life of Faith,

His Glorious Grace: A Guest Post

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My new friend Patty from Glorious Within Her has stopped by Grace to Go to share her heart with you lovely people today, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Make sure to visit her page for Biblical encouragement and practical resources for living a glorious life! (Oh, and did I tell you she has some beautiful things in her SHOP?!?) I hope these words challenge and uplift you as they did me. Take it away, Patty!

 

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His Glorious Grace

I woke up to find my website had not gotten any views- something unheard of for me. I panicked figuring it may have been hacked. On top of this, I had to feed my son, get him dressed, and keep him busy. He’s nearly walking on his own now and getting into everything so I knew he would take up most of my time that day. I had to finish getting multiple loads through the washer and dryer before wrangling my way through those multiple loads of laundry and returning them to their homes in dresser drawers.

All this combined with cleaning around the house and a host of day to day tasks that had to be done left me overwhelmed. It just seemed like too much to do with not enough time to get it all done. I struggle with perfectionism. So in my mind, if I didn’t get everything done, I failed. And I hate to fail. I wanted to do it all and do it excellently. As these thoughts were taking up residence in my mind, my son began to call out. We had just finished breakfast and I needed to brush his teeth, something he hates. While I was brushing his teeth, he began to scream even louder than usual. And as the stress mounted, I cried out to God. Actually, I screamed out to God.

And then, I felt worse than before. Not only did I still have a mile long list of things to do, but I chose to stress over and allowed myself to get overwhelmed. I had upset my son in the process with my reaction. I had cried out and he cried out, too but in a different way. When he saw me stressed out, he got stressed out. And he didn’t understand. My heart broke. My mind flooded with thoughts about what a terrible mom I was. I thought about how selfish I had been. How prideful it was of me to think I could tackle anything without God’s help!

In that moment, God reminded me of His glorious grace. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The Lord never expected me to carry today’s burdens on my own. He instead calls me to peace and rest in Him. He reminded me that when things get crazy, when I get overwhelmed, when I rush around trying to solve problems or get things done, He is right there. God is with me in my mess. Just as Jesus chose to be with humanity in its mess when He came to this earth as God veiled in flesh and spoke those very words.

God was not upset with me. He was not even the least bit surprised by my actions and reactions. Psalm 139 reminds me that He knit me together in my mother’s womb, He knows every single word I’m going to speak before it is ever on my lips, and He ordained every one of my days before a single one of them came to pass (v. 4, 13, 16). He knew I would sin and make mistakes. He knew I would miss the mark. Therefore, He sent Jesus to soak up God’s wrath for my sin so that by His glorious grace, I could be made right with God the Father.

Obviously, God does not want me to continue in sin. In these times, I need to repent. But that’s just it. I come to Him and recognize before Him the error of my ways. All I have to do is repent of my wrongdoing and ask Him to help me turn to His ways continually.

And by His grace, His glorious grace, I am forgiven and made right with Him (1 John 1:9). Then He makes me able to be at peace, regardless of the piles of laundry or the stacks of dishes. God sets my eyes to focus on Him. And as I focus on Him and serving Him, I am better able to serve my family and meet the needs of those I am called to minister to. Instead of being overwhelmed by tasks, God helps me to accomplish each one as a declaration of love and heartfelt service to Him and my loved ones.

When I trust God in this way, my heart is at peace. And when my heart is at peace, my home can reflect God’s nature. Guarding our hearts and allowing God’s grace to keep them at peace allows our home to be the haven of rest and beacon of hope it needs to be.

Since God is not a respecter of persons, He is willing to do the same for you (Romans 2:11). Is there a place in life where you are messing up? Is there an area of struggle you are facing? Do you have a hurt or hang-up you want to overcome?

Turn to God today and to His glorious grace. Ask Him to forgive you and to help you turn away from what’s not pleasing to Him. Let His grace work in you. Let him help you through it. Don’t take on the challenges by yourself. You were never made to. He doesn’t expect you to. The Lord wants you to wait on Him and on His glorious grace. His grace that makes us right with Him. His grace that makes us able to operate in His ways. For it is by his grace that He bestows on us righteousness, beauty, love, and so much more.

Have you ever been in need of God’s grace, His glorious grace? A grace that bestows beauty and worth when you fall short of it on your own?
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I’m Patty! Christ follower. Wife to Matthew. Mom to Solomon. Daughter. Sister. Former teacher. Current stay-at-home mom. Lover of God and His Word. Sharer of joy and laughter. Seeker of wisdom and justice. Passer on of godly encouragement and wisdom. I want to see women living out the fullness of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love in every area of their lives. I want for each woman to realize she is glorious within her.

 

Coffee For Your Heart @ Holley Gerth, Women With Intention Wednesday @ Women With Intention, #GraceMoments Linkup @ Journeys in Grace, Happy Days Linkup @ Life of Scoop

Do We Have Anything in Common Anymore?

Five Minute Friday, COMMON
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After a year and a half in Nepal, I am returning to America for a 3 month visit in 10 DAYS. Someone asked me the other day what was the first thing I wanted to do when I returned aside from visiting my family. My mind went totally blank. I said, “Go through a drive-thru?” just because that, even after only 18 months abroad, seems like a total novelty to me.

But I also very much look forward to coffee dates and lunch meet-ups with my mom and other friends. I imagine myself sitting across the table, chit-chatting the day away, and I realize… my imaginary conversation is happening in my second language! I try to re-imagine, and I can’t think of anything to say in my first.

I wonder if they will think I’m as weird as I feel like I’m going to be. Will we still be able to hold a conversation free from several awkward silences? Will their babies I’ve never met be scared of me? I wonder if they will think the stories I tell are interesting or just strange and unrelateable. Will we have anything in common anymore?

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My husband assures me that these fears will be unfounded (although there is no guarantee their babies won’t be afraid of the crazy person declaring herself their aunt). My friends that loved me before I left have still loved me with all the distance and silence between us. We might not pick right up where we left off, but maybe that’s why it’s called catching up.

We may not find common ground in our recent cultural experiences, but we will find it elsewhere. Maybe this table where we sit needs a perspective only my strangely unique experience could bring. Maybe more, this friendship needs me to not worry and just show up. To sit across the table with my biscuits and gravy (Bob Evans, y’all) and sigh. It sure is good to see an old friend.

The Hard Fought Battle for Contentment [The Mudroom]

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He stared at my back in the queen size bed we share. The inches between us loomed like a brick wall lined with barbed wire. I sobbed. He sighed. He must have felt as helpless as I did.

I suffered under a border blockade which prohibited the entry of petrol, propane, and essential goods in a country I never planned to live in. We faced winter with fewer than four hours of electricity to heat our home each day. It seemed I was at the mercy of an evolving government, the paper-thin houses, and my freezer-burned spirit. I was furious with my cozy Stateside friends who didn’t understand and my husband who couldn’t fix it.

In the morning, as I stood shivering, waiting for the shower to heat up, negative thoughts creeped in and claimed territory in my mind. I wished desperately for the rage to run right down the drain with the hot water. At the time, I wouldn’t have admitted that I was angry at God. I would have said I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I played the victim well because I believed I was absolutely powerless.

We had endured the hardships of an international move followed by natural disaster and economic crisis, but our marriage had now been threatened. Each night, we went to bed with cold hands and struggled to turn up the heat between life-long lovers wrapped up in ice cold sheets. Our intimacy had been killed by the chaos and cold that made up our days. The negative thoughts came around again to tell me what I already knew: I had lost all control.

Continue reading on The Mudroom…

 

linking up:

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#LMMLinkUp,  Monday Musings

 

Celebrate a Special Far-Away Friend with a “Birthday in a Box” [Women Behind the Scenes]

A birthday on the field can be a lonely time for an MK. She may remember her family and the fun celebrations they used to have back home. She may think about her favorite restaurant where she used to spend her birthdays or all the things she might receive if they were on American soil where they have all. the. things. Memories of birthdays past with special friends emerge with a longing to spend a day like those she’s spent before.

My daughter was young when we moved to the field, and the first birthday she had here was her fourth. Even at such a small age, she remembered her past birthday parties with her family. She wondered out loud if this birthday would be any fun. We included our friends here and had a small celebration a few days before, but when her actual birthday rolled around we didn’t have much planned…

Grandparents to the rescue!

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Continue reading this sweet story at Women Behind the Scenes and you’ll find a little tutorial to help you love someone special from far away, too!