If even for just a moment, Christmastime brings all hearts home, pausing to remember:
what once was
what life was like, before…
________ (you fill in the blank)
The memories may be heart-warming, affirming joyful times with family, friends, and loved ones.
Or the memories may rekindle angst and hurt felt during those times (or still feel, thinking back).
You may be surprised when those once-happy sweet, special moments suddenly turn into a stinging source of pain, piercing your heart with every remembrance.
👉🏻 Take heart — all of these reactions, feelings, and emotions are normal! We are human. This is how we roll!
Believers and unbelievers alike, Christmastime brings all hearts home, if even for just a moment:
it gives us that moment to pause amidst the blowout holiday sales and heavy party schedule or the darkness of long, lonely days.
during this small space of time between the old and new years, it gives us a moment to reflect upon life, this year, the way things are, and what we hope will be.
♥️Christmastime brings believers and unbelievers alike:
Comfort, if there is pain.
Peace, the assurance we are never alone.
Joy, knowing we are always loved (unconditionally), more than we could ever imagine.
Hope, knowing God has a plan to prosper each of us. With Him all things are possible!
🎁We are securely held in His love with a bright future if we accept His gracious invitation to receive the greatest gift freely given to all:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” ~ John 3:16-17 [The Living Bible]
He is the way, the truth, and the light to help you through your darkest days. He will stand with you as you celebrate your greatest joys!
👉🏻 Over the last 7 years, I have created resources to help you and those you care about, wherever you are in your life at this moment:
Additional favorite versions of John 3:16-17 and John 3:16-18
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:16-17 [NIV]
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” ~ John 3:16-18 [The Message]
In all I write, speak and do — all forms of media, all the time — I endeavor to offer encouragement to everyone for finding forgiveness, clarity for getting to grace, and assuring all that forgiveness is possible. That’s why I am thrilled to have my article “Forgiveness is Possible” published in Sweet To The Soul FAITH Magazine’s Grace issue!
This issue of Sweet To The Soul FAITH is about God’s glorious grace… containing 140 full-color pages of faith-based inspiration, including articles, devotionals, Scripture reading lists, recipes, life management, Bible Art Journaling, creative resources and more!
Throughout this issue, tender hearts share about real-life experiences and struggles. Struggles to forgive others and even harder sometimes, to forgive ourselves… also stories of supernatural hope found in the most difficult of times, hope which only God can supply.
• Spiritual Complacency and How to Renew Your Focus
• Finding Freedom from Your Past
• Hanging on to Threadbare Hope
• When Life Seems Hopeless
• How to Share Your Faith Story
• Praying for an Open Door
• Gospel Foundations for Your Finances
• Letting Go of Clutter for Good
• How to Bullet Journal
• So much more!
This is one of the most beautiful magazines of its type I’veseen. The content is truly inspirational. Much food for thought, study and encouragement is reliably found between the covers of this quarterly magazine!
The Most Powerful Tool I Use Daily (In Addition to Prayer and Reading the Bible)
Setting goals and making plans is exciting! For many, the mere thought of simply beginning in the moment to transform life is a beautiful dream sure to be realized. Our dream destination may take us to where we’d rather be, feel led to be, or know is the next right place to be. However it calls to us, the dream is compelling enough to get us fired up for the work ahead.
When we’re all in, our dedication to purpose and hard work in achieving established goals is rewarding. Initially, we may not grow weary with the required heavy lifting. The dream promises a bright future and new adventure. It energizes us, because we are 110% sold out on achieving it!
Embarking on a new endeavor or heading in a new life direction can be daunting. We need clarity to determine what we hope to accomplish. What is the result we seek? What is the expected outcome?
We need to be sure of what is be required to assure our success. Developing astrategic, workable plan, with a realistic timeline and system of checkpoints helps to put us on the right course.
But wait…there’s more!
I used to create business plans for clients as a professional consultant. I know the mechanics of building a plan, as well as the pitfalls of carrying it out. There really is much more to planning than all this logical, step-by-step, work-the-system approach. I went through the additional steps with my clients, and they always thanked me for it, because they were ready to walk out of my office and get to work on their new project.
The something more is digging in deeply and really soul-searching about your plans, dreams, hopes and fears before you take the first step toward your goal. I do mean before you begin to work that brand new shiny plan.
You cannot truly be 110% in, if you don’t. If you don’t deeply consider it all, you’re simply sold on the dream itself, not all that comes with it, including the inevitable life changes. It’s the visual aspect of it that is drawing you in, not the reality it brings.
For my clients, I had a formatting that walked them through the steps, bringing them to the other side, so they could contemplate all of this deep stuff on their own. I remember helping one client who wanted to establish a new service business who, after presenting their plan, determined not to proceed (due to perceived risks). Please know I was (still am) in the business of encouragement and supporting viable efforts.
In my personal and business projects, I have found a solution that turns out to be the most powerful tool I use daily, in addition to prayer and reading the Bible. This is not a wild claim — I can prove it! I want to share it with you, but first a story to illustrate how powerful this tool can be…
In November, 2019, I registered for a conference I wanted to attend for years. The founder had personally invited me in 2014. Unfortunately for me, her invitation came after I had already attended 3 conferences that year. I had to turn her down, knowing I wasn’t in a situation to effectively apply what I would learn there. Five years later, I knew it was my time to attend.
I’m very particular about conference-going. Attending conferences for me is entirely purpose-driven. Prior to any conference, I establish goals to achieve while there, and specific outcomes in attending. Before committing to a schedule or track, I plan how to accomplish them within the confines of the event.
At all conferences, I take copious notes and work through what I learn at each afterward, before planning to attend another. In 2014, each conference I attended was on an entirely different subject, so I justified spending the resources. Packing in so much over a few months, made me feel like conference attending was again becoming an unwanted career, after too many years on the road and countless air miles with a heavy convention/meeting schedule coast-to-coast and internationally during my marketing days.
In 2019, the conference website featured a list of 18 keywords on the homepage. This intrigued me, because they represented what the conference was about and what was offered. I wondered how I could use them?
I decided these words would be an excellent source of preparation for the conference. I believed the most effective use of them (for me) was to select one (or two related words) each week, fully considering them and what they meant to me in my endeavors.
My goal was two-fold:
To be fully prepared as an active participant at the conference.
To get the most out of the conference, making best use of the time and my resources.
To accomplish these goals, I scheduled the list of keywords over the course of the 17 weeks prior to the conference. I journaled weekly on the selected word(s) of the week:
I wrote about what the word meant to me.
I prayed about it for me (and others), as I worked toward getting ready for the gathering.
I prayed for God’s guidance and direction in it all, and for His blessing.
After journalling and prayer over the chosen word, in preparation for the conference:
I laid out specific steps needed to take that week.
I knew planning my work and working that plan, I would be ready.
When the time arrived for our conference I was indeed 110% ready, with all materials I needed in a nice, neat package. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more ready to attend a conference!
Unfortunately for all of us, COVID-19 also arrived and was looming, threatening to shut everything down. Which (as you well know) happened. It was crushing, but I held on to the promise of the conference being rescheduled. Knowing it was my time to attend, I waited.
The conference was rescheduled later in the year. A month prior to the event, I had to cancel, due to the health concerns my family had, with potential risks posed by COVID. I honored their request, but was profoundly heartbroken to not attend.
God’s faithfulness is so great! While I felt very much led to attend that conference, and in the end couldn’t due to circumstances beyond my control, He brought me through to the other side of my broken heartedness of missing-out on what I wanted, and He blessed me with what I most needed.
We don’t see what He sees, nor could ever know all God knows. In fact, we only see such a small part, our walking with Him in faith is the only way to get through. (2 Corinthians 5:7) How humbling to hear Him say to my heart one fine spring day in 2021, “See how I am answering your prayers!” Indeed I did, and I am blessed!
Journalling has been a big part of my life. As you can see keeping a journal — even a short-term special topic or subject journal — serves well in providing clarity and guidance.
Journalling The Word can help us through challenging times. Keeping a journal can help us explore complex issues and make valuable personal discoveries so we can move forward with greater clarity. My 9th book, The Grace Daily Challenge Journal, is designed to help readers and writers explore what the Bible says about grace and finding forgiveness, as they journal The Word.
The Grace Daily Challenge Journal is designed to create a personally-enriching, meaningful journalling experience with:
1,020 Bible verses organized according to topic as journalling The Word prompts.
Chapter introductions set focus through topical discussion related to forgiveness.
Content is presented to encourage journalling based on personal interest and study preference.
Journalling tips are included, to make the most of the journalling experience.
❤️🩹 Relationships rank high on our priority list, yet we often struggle with them most of our lives. Sometimes we’re not sure how to handle a troubling matter. Maybe even an everyday situation is a thorn in your side. If you’re really invested in your relationships and yourself, check your Love Quotient!
The New Year stretches out before us as a clear slate of fresh beginnings, great opportunities, hopes, dreams and wonders to be discovered…
What do you hope for in your life? The New Year is recognized as the time in our calendar year as a season for everything becoming new again. Fortunately for all of us, fresh starts and new beginnings aren’t scheduled only for January 1st!
Relationships rank high on most people’s priority list, and yet this area remains as one of life’s most daunting challenges. Our days become complicated as we attempt to navigate through issues, desire to deftly address touchy issues and try to smooth over painful moments.
Have you added relationships to your list to focus onin the New Year? Many people place relationships at the top of their list. They begin their initiative armed with all good intentions and great resolve to deal with troubling relational messes.
Often, the thought of approaching a pain-filled area in life causes even the most resolute to freeze in place. Immobilized, the whole situation becomes increasingly more confusing as hurt, deep sorrow and bad memories blend into a chaotic mix. Progress in moving toward resolution comes to a screeching halt. Fear sets in. Where to begin? How to handle this? I just can’t do this!
Seeking to address relational breaks requires us to revisit times and places we’d prefer to keep on a shelf somewhere safely out of sight. In reviewing those breaks, the deep root of a problem inevitably stirs powerful emotions.
It’s difficult to cast aside the happy life we’ve comfortably surrounded ourselves with, to make time and create space for mending a break or to admit a wrong. But take heart! In our walk with Him, God often takes us through life’s dark, rough terrain before we arrive on the other side with Him, where we find true peace and the joy we seek.
How can you embrace New Beginnings in your life and effectively apply them to restoring broken relationships?
Recognize the situation for what it is in reality — not what you think, or how you feel about it. Admit it exists. See it for what it is.
Pray about the matter, all involved and touched by it. Ask God for a clear vision of the problem, and for His guidance in addressing it. He will change your heart in every aspect surrounding this issue! When we change our heart about a painful situation, our eyes see it more clearly.
Seek His guidance throughout. He is always with us. He stands beside us and will bring us through. We have to be willing participants wherever He leads us. We have to do our part — to do the hard things. He makes the way clear for us.
Let your reset heart redirect your mind, acting as a spiritual GPS, directing you where to go. Begin taking steps toward resolution, as the Lord leads you in that direction. His restoration will be far more complete and well beyond what you could ever imagine!
Forgiveness and restoring life’s broken places takes time.
When we want to restore a relationship or fix a problem in life, it helps to remember it is a process. It’s never a one-and-done or easy peasy cure for what ails us relationally. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. But forgiveness is possible.
Let the Holy Spirit lead you in this. Don’t take personal initiative to map out your relational restoration plan or detail this project on your calendar. This is a matter of the heart — carry it with you. Let the matter (and those involved) come to your mind frequently. Allow it to be laid on your heart and cover all with prayer.
Every small step you make toward restoration is a step forward.
Progress is made, moving toward that hope. Realize relationships involve more than “self,” so moving forward (or not) rests also in the hands of other(s). They may not wish to relinquish their control or admit wrong. Our heartfelt endeavors to restore broken places shaped by the Lord’s leading, will us free of our pain.
The world’s chaos continues in a dizzying swirl around us, confusing life and creating a maze of issues. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we were designed and equipped for such a time as this. We can thrive in chaos. In this article I share 3 ironclad strategies and a toolbox to help.
As we return to our “everyday” in these (supposedly) post-pandemic times, the world’s chaos continues in a dizzying swirl around us, confusing life matters and creating a maze of issues. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we were designed and equipped for such a time as this. We can thrive in chaos.
Fortunately, we have workable strategies and tools to help us — and, dare I say it — actually thrive in the middle of all of it because of all the chaos! In this piece, I’m going to share 3 ironclad strategies and give you a toolbox to help you thrive in chaos:
Thrive daily — armed with a Big Picture view, we can thrive in chaos
Find purpose and meaning for your life in these chaotic times.
Live forward with confidence in the face of the unknown.
Uncertainty permeates daily life as we discover how things have changed during (and now after) our mandated mass hibernation. Emerging from our pandemic pandemonium, reminders popup throughout the day making it clear that life (as we once knew it) is not the same today in this crazy new world ‘order.’
Some changes will be positive, as:
Surviving businesses implement more efficient operating procedures and better ways to serve customers. They may be more profitable in the long run!
More attention focused on environmental aspects by assuring healthful conditions, upholding higher hygiene standards, rejecting potentially hazardous or unsafe practices.
Programs and activities will be changed-up, streamlined with necessary modifications, including only the essentials, eliminating unneeded fluff.
New ways of doing things may be discovered and implemented, turning out to be “better” and more appropriate than the old ways were anyway!
Previously-overlooked needs may be uncovered and appropriately addressed with new programs, policies or practices.
Of course there have been (and will be) losses for businesses, people and entities that are not in a position (nor can see ways) to pivot, moving forward in times of economic upheaval. Entrepreneurs characteristically exhibit the ability to turn on a dime (make that a $1,000-dollar bill today), as they implement necessary changes to right their listing ship and stay afloat in the storm.
Chaos impacts life, but life continues
In addition to the changes we personally experience, chaos surrounds us. It fills major city streets with violence, looting and fires. It is witnessed in neighborhoods and shopping malls across America. It’s apparent there is a continual underlying struggle for power and control that is not beneficial to humankind as a whole. Meaningful and necessary efforts to help people transition to a healthy, every day life in these uncertain times are not happening on the scale that are needed.
The chaos surrounding us is compounded by festering personal issues. We know challenging times are part of living. Coming back to “Real Life” after a pandemic shut-down is like throwing everyday life into a blender and then dumping it out, as everyone attempts to figure what work and life are going to be now.
Right out of the gate, I was surprised at ongoing difficulties encountered in pretty much everything (it seemed). Ready as I was (maybe you, too), these obstacles impeded moving forward. Simple things, really. Maybe I was overly optimistic.
Once mandates were dropped and we were green-lighted as ‘ready to go,’ gradually things seemed to get a little easier and a bit freer. Still a the threat of a controlling grip persists. It lurks in the shadows. Its presence reminds all that we could easily return to banishment from our everyday life, at a moment’s notice.
During the pandemic, our family (like many others), continued to live life in this strange, new closed-off world. We found ways to maintain contact with our family and friends. We attended conferences and meetings and school online. We had a wedding. Our niece had a baby. We had a death in our family. We had 2 college graduations, and another begin college. After a lengthy job hunt, one of our family members found a great one and relocated, to begin a new life. I published (and launched!) 2 books. Life went on. It wasn’t easy, but it happened.
When the pandemic craziness began to tone down and we were able to live more freely, I was surprised to discover it may take more time personally, to “get back” into life again. If you feel this way, too — give yourself grace and time.
3 Ironclad strategies to help you thrive in chaos and everyday
Often, the answer to our thriving in chaotic times (or even on blissful days) lies not within ourselves, but rather outside ourselves. As our perspective opens up, we see the world with a wide angle lens. In this way we gain clarity and understanding over our lives and the conditions in the world. We can better discern what we need to do, what we are called to do, and how to serve others, living a more fulfilling, purpose-filled life.
Thrive daily — no matter what (armed with a Big Picture view) here’s how:
Spend time in God’s Word (The Bible).
Pick a Bible study (independent and/or group study).
Journal: the Word; share personal insights, ideas, dreams, goals.
Pray often – and about everything! Our heavenly Father wants to hear from you.
Keep a prayer journal – ongoing, including answers and updates.
Know God keeps His promises. He will never leave us. He is in this with us.
Planning events? Organizing events? Serving in events?
Establishing a ministry? Coordinating a ministry? Running a ministry?
Being available — ‘free-agenting’ yourself to serve in a variety of ways.
Catering? Cooking? Serving food?
Live forward with confidence. Know these callings are for as long as they are to be and they will serve needs. By our heavenly Father’s design, each of us has purpose in serving in this way. Serving in this way takes us outside of ourselves, beyond our own situations, as we focus on others.
One of the best strategies to thrive is to turn our moments of uncertainty inside out, allowing God to use them for His good! It’s astonishing to see that amidst the tremendous upheaval the pandemic caused, it provided the perfect opportunity for many to find their way back to their loving heavenly Father. New ways to serve in ministry and outreach are being created even now. This is how things work in God’s world — always inverse to man’s ways and view of the world.
Every day offers “ministry” opportunities. No one is required to be associated with an internationally-recognized organization or popular entity to serve God in ministry. (Motherhood is often referred to as a ‘ministry of interruption,’ although I think other ways of serving share this characteristic as well!).
Ministry is serving the needs of others by following His lead. He will provide all that is needed to do the job. God never hands us a “To Do” List and leaves us on our own, to to figure it all out. He stays right there with us and shows us “how.”
3. Dare to ask God the hard questions on your mind, the heavy things burdening your heart. Ask for His guidance, care, presence and tender mercy.
Walk with Jesus every day. No matter your age, skills, or life situation, Accept the urging you feel for the thing He is leading you to do. Even when it seems impossible, He will equip you for it. He always calls the least likely, and reliably shows up in a big way to help!
Here’s a Toolbox to encourage you to thrive in chaos: A 22-Day Scripture Reading List, to read, study, journal – !
A Final Thought: Chaos is not of God. It’s not what He wants for any of us, but it happens in this world. It can be (and is) used for His good, to further His kingdom. In spite of it all, we can live forward in confidence, wrapped in His love and THRIVE.
I leave you with this:
Scripture shows us what we’re to do:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” ~ Romans 12:1-2 [The Message]
God’s Word assure us — He’s got this:
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:16 [NASB]
RESOURCES: Journalling the Word can help us through challenging times. Keeping a journal can help us explore complex issues and make valuable personal discoveries so we can free ourselves from our pain and gain clarity. My 9th book, The Grace Daily Challenge Journal, is designed to help readers and writers explore what the Bible says about grace, finding forgiveness, and view challenging things in a Biblical perspective as they Journal The Word. We can thrive in chaos! (Paperback and Kindle eBook)
For many of us the thought of being able to get away for a retreat sounds enticing, but seems impossible. Amidst the crush of every day crowded with unplanned challenges and schedule pressures, we find ourselves running on empty (or on a dangerously low reserve) of energy for much-needed soul care.
Unfortunately when we need it most, resources and a margin of time often don’t permit us to attend a retreat. Conferences and fellowshipping (online and in real life) are wonderful, but when schedule allows, personal budgets don’t always stretch to cover registration, travel and hotel stays.
Sometimes we realize the need for refreshment and a space for time away will help us regain focus, restore energy. Rather than not addressing our own personal soul care because it seems impossible in this season…
Here are 6 tips for creating an enriching personal retreat at home:
PREPARE: Pray for refreshment to come, God’s direction in planning the right setting and topic to explore in your time with Him.
PURPOSE: Determine the needs you want to address. Find a book, sermon series, Bible verse, devotional that speaks to your heart.
PLAN: Select a day, blocking-out a time period of 2-3 hours (if possible). As needed, include childcare or necessary adult care.
SETTING: Choose an appealing environment conducive for your hoped-for enrichment.
IMMERSE: Once in retreat mode, turn off all notifications, put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door — and settle in!
EMERGE: After your retreat, may you be blessed with greater clarity, refreshment, renewed hope, defined purpose and clear direction.
Here are 6 ideas to encourage refreshment and clarity in your personal retreat:
Deep-dive mini-study of a topic, sermon series or a Bible Study.
Select a key Bible verse (or verses), and during your time:
Journal about it (or them), as extensively as your heart wants to roam.
Bible Journal, as a visually creative activity to delve into the topic.
Bullet Journal your study, for note taking, recoding discoveries.
Create Bible verse, prayer or personal reflection cards.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: As a ready resource of Bible verses organized by topic, including journalling tips and ideas we recommend The Grace Daily Journal:
#RelationshipsMatter #ChristianLifestyle #Encouragement #SoulCare #SelfCare #PersonalCare #Forgiveness #RestoringTheBrokenPlaces #GraceDaily #PlanningARetreat #PersonalRetreat #PersonalGetaway #LivingALifeOfJoy Even in the face of adversity #BattlingBurnout
The heart of imperfect hospitality is offered in love, to encourage and give comfort. Hospitality doesn’t come easy, but it isn’t difficult…
What a blessing to spend time, share life and discuss adventures when we gather with others! Afterward, we wonder why don’t I spend more time enjoying company? It’s easy to get caught up in our daily routine and miss life-enriching moments. A nagging “To Do” List captivates our attention. Making preparations for having company isn’t always on the list.
Hospitality doesn’t come easy, but it isn’t difficult. Perceived urgency of things we need to do weighs heavily on us. We feel overwhelmed with everything on our plate. Adding a new thing displaces something else already planned. Because we make hospitality grander then it needs to be in our heads, we keep ourselves from enjoying more beautiful moments in our lives.
Opportunities to show gracious hospitalityarise when we cross paths with others. It may be as simple as warmly welcoming someone to an event or engaging in conversation. A kind introduction helps newcomers join an ongoing conversation.
Sometimes hospitality opportunities are dropped in our laps. Our latest experience was having family live with us for almost 1-1/2 years. This indeed was a time for imperfect hospitality in action because it was impromptu hosting from beginning to end!
If you had family (or others) living with you during the pandemic and worked full-time, you remember the drill. Each day brought changing protocols, new mandates, dwindling food supplies and staples impacting households everywhere. (Who knew toilet paper was so valuable?) Maybe like us, you felt the increased weight of responsibility for providing for those under your roof as shortages continued. We all pressed on through those uncertain days.
We had “company” when our youngest son and his new wife lived with us during the pandemic. For 16 months running, all efforts were made to help them settle in comfortably. With our family’s work and school schedule, my main focus was gathering nightly for a family meal. This gave us the opportunity to spend some personal time away from pressing matters.
We had 3 reasons for planning our daily family evening meal:
It is our family’s tradition.
Gathering gave us a space of time together.
This would likely be one of the last times we could spend time together in such an intimate, meaningful way.
Meshing schedules proved challenging. For the first 9 months of sheltering in, I was the last one awake (in the wee hours) finishing things needing to be done; and the first one up in the early morning, setting up for the day.
For 4 months I worked full-time, as I prepared for a speaking conference. After putting in 8-9 hours straight through the day, I spent about 2 hours making dinner, followed by another 2 hours of cleanup (most nights). It was a full, exhausting day, but I was dedicated to having this important time together. It was worth it.
My conference was postponed when gathering mandates were enacted. I worked intensively during the next 6 months preparing for it. In the end, respecting my family’s concerns for bringing COVID home, I didn’t attend the rescheduled conference. I did accomplish a lot during those 10 months!
My husband and I remained committed to providing a roof over our children’s heads, keeping them safe, providing food for them. This is the kind of loving hospitality a parent willingly provides. Our school and work schedules changed somewhat during the summer, but we continued to gather.
Getting adequate rest was challenging for everyone! Focusing on our evening meal mission helped, especially in the face of adversity as satan attempted to disrupt our family’s lives. I realize now I was also battling burn-out, after launching my book RESTORING THE BROKEN PLACES IN AN UNFORGIVING WORLD.
We continued serving food, providing hospitality, love, wisdom, support and encouragement in the face of the unknown. I believe this is the heart of imperfect hospitality — offered in love, to encourage and give comfort.It isoffered from the heart with the hope of comforting. In this situation it was my husband and I assuring our children of the beautiful future God has planned for them.
I’m grateful for every moment our family had during this challenging time. It was a blessing to serve them in this way. Living a faith-based life assures us our heavenly Father is greater than our circumstances. He is the solution to all pressing problems. In His undeniable love, He never leaves us to deal with challenges on our own. He brought our family through those dark days.
The beautiful future God planned for all of our children is dawning. We know our prayers are being answered in amazing ways for them!
OPEN YOUR HEART WITH THIS TOOLBOX FOR GRACIOUS GATHERINGS WITH IMPERFECT HOSPITALITY:
Preparing favorite meals and special foods for restricted diets and preferences is thoughtful and welcoming.
Give guests a taste of your family’s life by serving family favorites to new family members or visitors from other countries, along with a generous helping of backstory of why the dish is so popular or special memories associated with it.
Pray ahead for the gathering, asking each to be blessed.
Try to get rest beforehand.
Keep arrangements simple, so they are not all-consuming.
Focus on creating a warm, welcoming environment.
No matter how simple, offer it all in love.
Cover all (including your efforts) with grace — things don’t always turn out as planned!
Memories will be made through your efforts of graciously offered (yet) imperfect hospitality.
Some people believe we cannot “invest” ourselves in every relationship that comes our way. The main reason given for this is the perceived problem of available time to spend in relationship with others.
I disagree! In fact, it is unbiblical to live this way, and in this article I’m going to show you why all relationships matter, there’s no getting out of having one with others, even if you think you can (or are) and the secret to making a real difference in this world.
How we view “investing” in relationships impacts how we connect and interact with others. If you consider sitting down for the proverbial cup of coffee everyone always talks about, or sharing a meal with someone as your measurement for relational investment, you are right! Time, resources and ability to actually meet-up in real life (or virtually) add conditions that may never be met.
Case-in-Point: How many times have you parted after serendipitously crossing paths with someone, both agreeing to catch-up on an unspecified future date and never did? Each was sincere at that moment. You would love to spend time, to “invest” more in this relationship — but… it never happened. Does this mean you don’t have a real relationship with this person?
Next time — and likely there will be a next time — when your paths cross you sheepishly look at each other and sigh, knowing you failed in just making some time for them in your day (and they for you, in theirs). You smile, thinking how wonderful it will be and wholeheartedly long to get together, but life’s crazy schedules continue to crush the day, so setting aside a few minutes seems impossible.
There is a vast difference between developing relationships with a select few and having an impact with all you meet. It’s important to realize even with a chance meeting, a relationship has begun. Obviously with a deeper long-term relationship, more time is spent. However, even in a fleeting moment a lasting impact can be made on others through our interaction with them. This happens by how we live, walk out our faith, our words left with others, how they see us.
It may seem surprising, but those we meet in brief encounters often do remember. In over 20+ years of service, I have been blessed many times when those I’ve had the privilege of serving in ministry (or encountered in every day life) remind me of something I did or said — often in the moment — that made a real positive difference in their lives. Sometimes this grateful remembrance comes back to me by another messenger — my husband, family, friend or someone I met by chance who heard the story! I call this a double blessing!
Our example is Jesus. He had an inner circle of friends, yet left a living legacy globally through His impact, touching countless lives throughout His time here on earth continues today. Even those who were not His disciples developed a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus when they simply crossed paths with Him. They never had coffee or a meal together, but desired a real relationship — and had one with Him.
Case-in-Point: When Jesus risked asking a Samaritan woman at the well for a drink of water in John 4:1-30. Yes, He said He was thirsty, but probably could have drawn water himself. Instead, in that momentary encounter He sought to speak with the woman at the well. It was life-changing for her. She could draw water at the well, but was still thirsty. He told her of the living water, assured her He was the Messiah and told her how we (as believers) should worship and live.
If Christians endeavor to live as Jesus does, we mustn’t limit our relationships to only those we believe are tangible and important to us. If we allow it, often God brings us together with others who will change our lives, and those whom we may inspire, or encourage to live a more fulfilling life.
It is in those places where our lives are lived for God’s best with a heart dedicated to His purpose, we will have a positive impact in the world, or bless others. It is wonderful (but not required) to have a close-knit group of friends. When we live to serve God, accepting all of His blessings, our lives are to follow His ways, not go our own way. We do fulfill God’s purpose by ministering to others in the moment, serving however we can. Romans 12: 1-2 tells us how we can do this.
Having coffee with someone in need isn’t usually an option. Although they thirst, they need far more than that. Although they may be hungry their need is not often met at the local cafe. In this moment, the latest greatest burger, or extra cream and sugar are not priorities for them. A large latte doesn’t matter. I love what Romans 12: 9-13 says about serving others — it’s a big key for planner peeps — about the importance of being “inventive in hospitality.”
It is also a mistake to think that by being a believer our “relationship” with someone is going to solve all of their problems or needs, like a one-stop fix-it solution. We (nor any friendship outside of one with Jesus) is ever the answer for any of our needs. The answer always lies in Jesus.
Life and everything we encounter isn’t really all about us. Often we hear, speak, sing or think we want to be more like Jesus and much less of ourselves. If we really want to do this, in all of relationships, including any momentary chance meeting we must take themore of Jesus approach.
If we’re honest we don’t have all the answers. We do not know what tomorrow brings. We can’t imagine what’s in store for us today. A collaborative brainstorming session with our best earthly friend doesn’t always result in a satisfactory solution. But God’s Word has the answer to every problem or troubling situation. Time spent in deepening a relationship with Jesus goes a long way to resolving issues and challenges we encounter.
We cannot quench the world’s thirst for knowledge and understanding. We cannot keep the world fed. It’s astonishing to look around and see all the global efforts striving to do this. And still the needs remain — and continue to grow. In John 12:8a, Jesus told us there will always be poor people. He knows it. He could fix it, but it still exists. We are to do our part. We can help.
In our relationships we can begin to make the world better by reaching out and helping others, not waiting to make that coffee chat date. We may provide for needs with our time and resources, but Jesus’ point is the “needs” of all people are well beyond their hunger and thirst, and located well outside the sphere of our desire for meaningful relationships with only a select few.