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.

woman-358779_960_720

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.

amber-taube-34

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.

 

picmonkey-image
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,

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!

12743839_10156541513255511_6409045776649957584_n

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!

Engaging the Enemy- the Only Thing I’ve Left to Say

DAY 31, ONLY

I’ve learned over the years to look into the context and not just the two plucked out verses primed for memorization during my Sunday School years. I’ve noticed something as I’ve stepped back and examined from a wider angle the various places in Scripture that talk about living the Golden Rule. And I’ve found something. Something important. Something we need to know but don’t really want to acknowledge.

We can love other people until our days are done. We can exhaust ourselves in our efforts to serve others. We can do all the right things as we work for the Lord…and we will still be hated because we are followers of Jesus. We aren’t even guaranteed the love and acceptance of our family as we live wholeheartedly for the Lord.

And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:21-22).

 

img_1901

UGH… So, what do we do with these people who refuse the grace we extend and cross their arms to the love of Jesus? Well, we love ’em some more.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).

 

This whole “turn the other cheek” thing is just plain unnatural. The fight-or-flight response is to put up your dukes or run the other way. The godly response is to engage the enemy in love and pray earnestly for blessings upon their life.

He tells us that vengeance is His. We know nothing of Him but that He is completely just and that all His ways are right. We don’t have to daily subject ourselves to abuse, but when we encounter it, we are to offer back love in return.

fist-bump-1195446_960_720-1

Maybe this just means holding back a sarcastic comment. Maybe it’s shutting the door quietly instead of slamming it as you calmly remove yourself from the situation. It could be praying blessings upon the man who left you and started another family despite your best efforts at loving and honoring him. Or it might be pleading the blood of Christ over the sins of a lost person whose broken path has wrecked up yours.

Scripture isn’t silent on how we react when the hatred spews in our direction… Please read to the end, friends. I really believe this is crucial to living the Golden Rule and why it is paired right along with it in this passage.

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36).

 

candles-1645551_960_720

I’ve written for 31 days on living for the benefit of others and the glory of God. And I could write more. It’s so imperative to the glowing testimony of our marriages, parenting, and daily lives. There are certainly obstacles and reasons it’s just easier to withdraw or walk away.

I don’t know what you’re struggling with or who has hurt you. But I know that if you are here, and you are a true follower of Jesus, you’ll face these moments where you realize how the world sees you. And I know that it will be hard. I must remember He is worthy, and He holds our reward in Heaven. I have to believe that I will see my marriage and my family change and that I will see fruit in my ministry. Even if it doesn’t, I have to know beyond a reasonable doubt that God is good and my obedience is deserved for nothing else than blood spilled years and years ago.

Is there an enemy in your life?
Take time to pray for them today.

Talk to me in the comment section!

31 Days Cut & Paste Edition: God is the Hero of Golden Rule Living

Day 30, CUT

There are A LOT of blogs out in this world, and I’ve read a whole bunch of them. I see a common thread in the Christian blogging world- GRACE. Grace is good, and it is the heart of the gospel, but I often see something missing: how that GRACE moves us.  It doesn’t just tell us we’re doing a good job and to continue on as we were. The only reasonable response to the grace we’ve been given is sold-out devotion to Christ. Our devotion is often called to manifestation in service to others- in living the Golden Rule.

We can’t make it through the day without His grace, and we certainly can’t do good unto others apart from it. God is the hero of every single act of kindness story we have to tell. All glory goes to God.

I’ve cut and collected a few clippings from the last 28 days of posts to show this common thread throughout the series I have put together here. I would hate to have any reader walk away thinking that my daily life is glittered by the Golden Rule, and I’ve somehow mastered selfless living. SPOILER ALERT: I haven’t, and I won’t until my days are 100% consumed with singing of God’s goodness in glory.

God as the Hero in Golden Rule Living

summerfield-336672_960_720

In the Mundane…

Living the Golden Rule means getting down to the nitty-gritty with God and dealing with it all before anyone is close enough to be affected by the bomb blast- Defusing the Time-Bomb of an Overstuffed Heart

As I silently seek Him through the Word written long ago, and as I sit under the instruction of faithful servants, I move forward to do unto others. But first I just have to BE. From Stir-Crazy to Strengthened by Stillness

Grace looked at us in all our filthiness and died to make us its own. That redemptive act moves us to say, “I will lay down my life for the least of these because I know Whom I serve.” The You of the Golden Rule

In Marriage…

God’s love for me has been tested and found to be 100% true. While my husband will never earn perfect marks, I can give him a break because I don’t need proof that I am loved. –The Test He’s Sure to Fail: Does He Really Love Me?

Humility is so rarely my first move in marriage. Remembering Christ who moved towards me in complete disregard of Himself, I am convinced it needs to be. –Humility: My First Move in the Fight for my Marriage

If I expect my husband to submit to the Lord, living the Golden Rule, I must also submit to the Lord’s work in my family. I must trust that, ultimately, He is the one who leads the way and that He will direct us as we strive to do His will. Post-It-Note Your Feelings, Please

Though he knows me better than anyone else, my husband really doesn’t know me at all. Not in comparison to the One who knows the numbers of hairs on my head and the number of breaths I have left in my body. –My Husband Doesn’t Know Me

My heart is so frail, and I think it might burst from the burden of this work. I surrender it to the only One who proved on the Cross his ability to carry it. –Shouldering the Weight of God-Sized Dreams

img_0993

In Motherhood…

Just like me, my children want to be known but may not always be able to express complicated emotions. The responsibility falls on me to study them and surrender their needs to Jesus. –The Learned Art of Awareness in Parenting

It’s tempting to act like I have a monopoly on molding the hearts of my children… It’s true God gave them to me, but being uniquely made by Him, they can benefit from all sorts of people who aren’t just like me. –Mail and the Mama Bear: Am I Monopolizing My Kids’ Upbringing?

God wants their hearts and every facet of their lives. And I want them to give it all to Him when they fully understand the life-wrecking, beautiful mess they’re getting themselves into. Two Tender Hearts and One Untrained Teacher

In the fear of all the ways humility will hurt my children, I am certain the love of Jesus will cover the multitudes of sins against them. Why Can’t We Live in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

hands-63743_1920

In Missional Living…

It is God who judges hearts and opens the doors to heaven. The only job I am given is to love others and faithfully tell of the gospel of His sacrificial death and the Good News of His resurrection. –Kicking the Hypocritical Habit

Sometimes God asks me to wait. Sometimes He parks me in the lane that’s not moving. Sometimes He asks me to follow him inch by painful inch performing small acts of service to Him. I have to trust that God will use me where I am in all the little ways I’m able. –Finding the Mission Field Outside my Front Door

But the best I can live the Golden Rule unto others is by introducing them to Jesus, encouraging and reminding them of the steadfast love that completely wrecked my life in the best way possible. The Golden Rule for the Global Good

In times of transition, the criticism cuts the gospel worker like the sharpest of knives, but words of encouragement put the sharp knife to better work. The kind that crafts into tools fit for kingdom work and builds confidence in the Hands at work in their lives and ministry. The Knife that Cuts and the Knife that Sharpens

img_2794

In Moving Forward…

I deal graciously with others when I confront my nothingness and my inability to do good apart from the transformative work of Christ in my life. My Life as a Living Sacrifice: Confronting my Nothingness

Thriving in our Provider’s care, we worry less about surviving and more about serving.  Everything we are commanded to do is within our reach because we are connected to the boundless Vine. The Simple Secret to Being Super Fruitful

We will strive and struggle. It’s all part of this thing called sanctification. We need heaping spoonfuls of grace and answered prayers for the strength to do more. We make right the things we can make right, and we ask God to take care of the rest. Heaping Spoonfuls of Grace for When We Goof It All Up

Each person we encounter comes from a culture all their own influenced by their family dynamics, education, and peers. Sometimes, we will treat others the way we want to be treated and we will just fall flat. We have to rely on the truths of God’s word that apply to all people- Scriptural Social Etiquette Crosses Culture Seamlessly

What truths about God the hero of the Golden Rule especially touched you?
What would you add to this series on Living the Golden Rule?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 linking up:

Crystal Twaddell

My Life as a Living Sacrifice: Confronting my Nothingness

Day 26, CONFRONT
I’ve been so challenged by exploring how I can live the Golden Rule in marriage, motherhood, missional living, and my every day life! I hope that if you’ve read along with me you have been challenged as well and encouraged by what God can do with a heart willing to serve Him and others. If you’re just joining me, I hope you will catch up!

img_2794

I think it’s time we ask ourselves what’s holding us back. What’s keeping us from living the Golden Rule for the benefit of others and the glory of God? Is there some sin you’ve stuck in your back pocket for a rainy day? A person you just can’t forgive? A fear of giving up control and giving your life to God?

I’m bold enough to guess that what’s holding you back is the same thing that’s keeping me from living out all I know to be true and good. It has its roots tangled up in pride whether it’s a secret sin or clutched control. No matter who you are, denying yourself just doesn’t come naturally.

If I were on your end reading this, I would want to cover my eyes or jump over to YouTube and start watching something light to make me laugh. I don’t want to confront my pride. It’s seriously cringe-worthy to peer into my selfish soul and see what lies beneath.

What did I do today that ministered to someone else? Did I do it without grumbling? Would I rather have been doing something else? Did the task at hand seem beneath me or bothersome? The answer to these questions reveals the condition of my heart. And so often it isn’t pretty.

Because as much as I love other people, I tend to like myself a whole lot more. I wholeheartedly agree with the decisions I make and the way I go about things because I’m awesome, y’all (satire… hang with me).

But when I look to the Word of God to tell me who I am and what my condition is all I see is that I am a sinner saved by a gracious God. I am made for the pleasure of God. I am purposed to serve and share His greatness with the world. That’s basically it.

110% YES- I am greatly loved and graciously gifted, but I’m given all of that to hand it right back to God. I don’t have to wonder what God’s perfect will for my life is. It is spelled out in Scripture. But, oh, I want to be blind to it.

present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:1-3).

flame-726268_960_720

My flesh already ran in the other direction. For real, this is rough for me. A living sacrifice. I am to be burned at the altar of humility day after day, letting my life be consumed by the Creator as He sees fit. I subject myself to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through my surrendered life.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something,when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (Galatians 6:2-3).

 

I deal graciously with others when I confront my nothingness and my inability to do good apart from the transformative work of Christ in my life. When I consider what He has done for me, any act of obedience He requires is only reasonable.

And He tells me to get over myself and love my neighbor and my enemy too.

Come quickly, Lord, not sure how long I can do this.

Is pride keeping you from living the Golden Rule to the glory of God?
Will you endeavor to live in daily sacrifice to the One who died for you?

Talk to me in the comment section (this one’s a doozy!).