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October 23rd, 2013

Hospitality

Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives.  They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation.  The topic this month is: Hospitality.

Generally when I hear the word hospitality I think of serving food to guests in the comfort of my own home. Please consider that it’s so much more:

hospitality

“Our rugged American individualism hasn’t done us any favors where hospitality is concerned. Combine that with our obsession with electronics and you have, perhaps, the loneliest group of people that have ever lived… Occasionally, when a crisis hits, we are jarred awake to our need for others but for most of our lives, we live in blurry state of self-sufficiency and self-absorption. But, we were never meant for this modern isolationism. Hospitality has its roots in the ancient world, where caring for strangers was a matter of life and death. They were keenly aware of their need for each other and it was a matter of survival.” -31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality

I simply could not come up with a better way to describe the urgency of hospitality so I borrowed it from Edie who said it so well. I love the imagery ancient hospitality conjures up: caring for a strangers as a matter of life and death. Wow. That we would be so selfless these days!

If I’m totally honest, I barely care for myself like this, much less a stranger.

I was actually reading this quote right at the moment I was in the midst of an opportunity to love not a stranger, but a friend, in my home helping care for my son, this way. I was convicted immediately because just a short time ago she had deceived me and let me down on a commitment she promised to fulfill. My first response was sadness, then anger and even revenge. Not to the extremes of TV shows, but just along the lines of backing out of a commitment I offered her. Then I read that quote above and in my heart I knew I was not serving her. I was not showing her the love of Christ.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind… love your neighbor as yourself.

I needed a lesson in love. And hospitality.  And humility.

If we’re continuing in complete honesty, we use people for our selfish gains. I’m actually learning this right now in the marriage study our small group at church is doing.  It asks us to consider if we “…love [our] little kingdom more than God’s big Kingdom.” And I know we do. I know I do.

Edie suggests that hospitality and humility are intertwined and I think she is right. In the book she says, “It’s called putting yourself in someone else’s shoes—-living in their skin. And that is the very humility and love that Christ demonstrates toward us. He is humility, in the flesh…Hospitality is learning to live toward others with His borrowed love, in His perfect humility.”

Gaining this new perspective on hospitality I encourage you to first consider your own motives, actions and thoughts toward others. Do you spend time building the kingdom of YOU? Or are you willing to put others first?

Because how can we feed the poor, care for the sick, give shelter to the homeless and love our neighbors if we are consumed with ourselves?

The answer is we can’t.

But God in us can. He must increase, but I must decrease.

When we let of our agenda, our motives, our selfishness, we open our hearts to receive and welcome others in so we can care for them, serve them and love them. And that my friends, is true hospitality.

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I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:

Kelli is a United Methodist. She is a writer and public health advocate. An Arizona native, who recently returned home , Kelli lives with dog, Willie Nelson Mandela, who runs the show.  She blogs at: www.africankelli.com

Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife.  (She does not play the organ.)  She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice.  Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler.  Sarah blogs atwww.beautyschooldropout.net

Rhonda is an attorney and native of Missouri.  She is known for being overly-emotionally invested in her three, elderly dogs and dabbling in a ridiculous amount of hobbies, including sewing, music, and writing, while mastering none.  She was baptized in her late twenties and is amazed and grateful that Jesus continues to put up with her.  She blogs at bigsnafu.com.

October 8th, 2013

Women of Joy 2013

When I was invited to Women of Joy‘s 2013 conference on Absolute Surrender in San Antonio this past weekend, I was honored to say yes! It has been some time now since I have been to a women’s conference or retreat, so I was looking forward to hearing God’s word preached by my fellow sisters.

Women of Joy 2013 - Speakers Collage

I met the above ladies throughout the weekend and each one brought such a deep message about love, grace and total surrender to God and His plans for your life.

Liz Cutis Higgs (top right above), who is probably best known for her Bad Girls of the Bible books, spoke on the story of Ruth and trusting God in all circumstances – past, present and future. She reminds us that we are forgiven and so we must acknowledge it, accept it and embrace it! Leave self-condemnation behind – ask for forgiveness and accept it. “There is then no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”

Lisa Welchel (middle right above) sat down for a one-on-one chat with some of us and told us about growing up as a Christian in an industry infamously pagan. If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s a former child star from the 80′s show The Facts of Life and also a mother of 3 who has written several books on parenting, homeschooling and friendships. Lisa also competed on Survivor in 2012 and  recently has gotten back in to acting (look for her in Tyler’s Perry’s newest installment of Madea this December). She said one of her best life lessons has been to get involved in small groups – the sharpening that happens when we are around a small group of believers (and even non-believers) is crucial to growing in your walk with Christ and staying strong. She talked about being legalistic and the blessing that comes from failing at that; my favorite quote she said was, “Obeying the law doesn’t bring us to grace (faith). Failing the law does.” Amen!

Also speaking at the conference was Jill Kelly, wife of former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly of  NY’s Buffalo Bills, who has an amazing story of finding God and how he is working through her for his glory. Jill has written numerous books on grace, hope and love and she continues to encourage mom’s via Every Sister to pray for their children and the next generation right now! Then, we heard from Miss Kay Robertson (of the famous Duck Dynasty clan) and she shared the powerful testimony of God pursuing her in her darkest hour and finding her everlasting hope in him. We also had the joy of singing praise and worship with Chris Tomlin on Saturday night. Wow! Talk about an amazing way to end a long day of testimony after testimony of God’s goodness!

Women of Joy 2013-7

Women of Joy 2013-9

Have you ever been to a Christian women’s conference?

September 25th, 2013

observing the Sabbath

Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives.  They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation.  The topic this month is: Observing the Sabbath.

Keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest is one of the Ten Commandments: ”Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:8 & 10)

Rest.

What images does that word evoke in you? The sounds of rain or waves crashing on shore? Warm beaches? A quiet nap on the couch? Gazing into the backyard in the afternoon? A still lake? Time in quiet prayer?

moorea room service

God made the Sabbath for man. To rest.

A day set aside to recharge our spiritual batteries and to reconnect with God. Of all the things God made in the entirety of creation, he set aside a day for resting.

That’s a pretty clear sign that rest is important to God. Our rest. In Him.

As Christians of a new covenant with Jesus, we are not bound to Old Testament Law, so observing the Sabbath won’t jepordize our salvation.

But what if observing the habit of rest on the Sabbath enhances our sanctification? What if rest blesses us? Transforms us? Did not Jesus (the perfecter of our faith) rest?

Why do we so easily neglect this ancient practice that was created for our good? My guess is that it is mainly because we are so sick with busyness. Corresponding to that is that I think we’re ignorant when it comes to how to rest. In this super-charged, fast-paced, get-things-done society we live in, we rarely take time to unplug and just exist. I recently read a simple thought about shutting down. 12 sentences of conviction – there is a time to work and a time to rest.

lilypads in moorea

God has peppered my thoughts lately with how to observe the Sabbath, and while no list of hard and fast rules was formed, I do have some insights I believe are helpful to finding rest:

Plan for nothing. Schedule a day with nothing. Really. No errands you have to get done, no people you must visit, no time restraints, no agenda. See what happens.* This type of mental (and perhaps physical) rest is good for our minds and our souls – we are expectantly resting and letting God do what he will. Perhaps you decide to take a walk in the neighborhood (you can pray for your neighbors or your city). Maybe you dust off the Word you’ve neglected and read some passages in a cozy chair. Maybe you watch a program on TV (* I caution you against spending the whole day in front of the TV!) or you decide to hand write a letter to a friend or family member that has been on your mind.

Abstain from the internet for a day. This might be hard. If you’re anything like me it’s almost become second nature to hop online and check my email or social media. Make a decision to abstain for 24 hours from the internet – start with 6 or 12 hours at first if this is hard for you – or go cold turkey and just stay off the whole day. The world still revolves when you are sleeping, it will still revolve when you’re offline.

Feed your personality type. If you’re an introvert, set aside some alone time – wander around or sit in a quiet place and recharge your batteries. Maybe you’re an extrovert and you can plan a time to meet a friend to talk about what God is doing in your life. I dare you to not set a time limit on it and just revel in enjoying the conversation without watching the clock for when you have to go!

For a driven person like myself I find it hard to rest because I sometimes feel like it’s lazy, but “there is nothing sinful about resting and there’s nothing honorable about not resting.” It can be helpful to look at the Sabbath as a way of retracting from the world and toward the Creator of the world; like fasting, we disconnect from the world’s comfort to reconnect with His comfort.

Do you practice the Sabbath?

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I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:

Kelli is a United Methodist. She is a writer and public health advocate. An Arizona native, who recently returned home , Kelli lives with dog, Willie Nelson Mandela, who runs the show.  She blogs at: www.africankelli.com

Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife.  (She does not play the organ.)  She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice.  Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler.  Sarah blogs atwww.beautyschooldropout.net

Rhonda is an attorney and native of Missouri.  She is known for being overly-emotionally invested in her three, elderly dogs and dabbling in a ridiculous amount of hobbies, including sewing, music, and writing, while mastering none.  She was baptized in her late twenties and is amazed and grateful that Jesus continues to put up with her.  She blogs at bigsnafu.com.

August 28th, 2013

faithfully joyful

Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives.  They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation.  The topic this month is: Joy as an Act of Faith.

1thessalonians5_16-18via

This verse has been near to my heart this past 4 weeks because the hubs is going through a transition at work that is requiring all that he’s got – time, energy, creativity, efforts, physical strength… His entire being is being tested and tried.

Before this journey began he told me he decided to choose some Scripture to hold tight to during what he expected to be a very rough season. He chose these verses and shared them with me a few nights before we found out the news. He said he wanted to choose JOY no mater what the outcome of this opportunity was. He wanted to have a thankful heart because he knows that all that he has is given to him from God. We’d been in this place before – the past 4 years to be exact.

This was his 4th time to be considered for this promotion, but it was the first time he really entered the field with rooted joy, with thanksgiving before the giving.

The afternoon we found out was a mixture of excitement and terror – the unknown of what the next 6 weeks would hold, and ultimately how this new position would affect our lives. In a brief moment of conversation we had that day, he told me that right before he was given the news he was reciting the verse in his head.

His godly wisdom was preparing him to sail rough waters.

I look up to my husband and have grown to love him even more for how he is handling this season. Every night before he goes to bed he thanks God for the day – troubles and failures and all. He is choosing to live in JOY as an act of FAITH that God is using this time to mold him, to shape him, to allow him to grow in Christlikeness. This act of being joyful in all circumstances is a choice, it doesn’t come easy and there are days he is mentally and physically pushed to his limit, maybe even beyond his limit. It is in those times that his inner joy is a testimony of the power of Christ to overcome anything.

A thankful tongue is the overflow of a joyful heart.

GiveThanksInEverything

 

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Choosing joy no matter what is a symbol of strength and faith that God is for you. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show the world the great Hope we have in Christ. This is a testimony to your faith.

Joy shows faith that God is on your side; faith that He will never leave you or forsake you – even in the midst of the fire. The world tells us happiness is something to be bought or attain, that we can lose it depending on external circumstances. Joy is different. Joy is always present, it’s rooted internally and manifests itself as a peaceful and calm spirit.

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

It is my hope that you know the deep satisfaction of joy in all things. That you will abide in the presence of God and find joy in Him. That in all things you will choose joy because it doesn’t just happen.

We must choose joy, and keep choosing it every day.

You have a choice. What will you choose today?

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I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:

Kelli is a United Methodist. She is a writer and public health advocate. An Arizona native, who recently returned home , Kelli lives with dog, Willie Nelson Mandela, who runs the show.  She blogs at: www.africankelli.com

Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife.  (She does not play the organ.)  She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice.  Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler.  Sarah blogs atwww.beautyschooldropout.net

Rhonda is an attorney and native of Missouri.  She is known for being overly-emotionally invested in her three, elderly dogs and dabbling in a ridiculous amount of hobbies, including sewing, music, and writing, while mastering none.  She was baptized in her late twenties and is amazed and grateful that Jesus continues to put up with her.  She blogs at bigsnafu.com.