How We Spend Our Days is How We Spend Our Lives

Have you ever felt frustrated that your life doesn’t look like what you value most? Or that your time on this earth is being used up on things you haven’t chosen? ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀


It has been said that, “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Here are 5 tips that I revisit to manage my day-to-day, whenever I feel frustrated that my values and time aren’t lining up.
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  • Write down your top values and priorities. What do you want to spend your life doing? (For me the list includes these things: knowing God, life mission, family, and growth towards goals.)
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  • List your responsibilities (work, carpool, volunteering…) and note anything you need to un-commit yourself to! Graciously communicate to those this will affect and perhaps see if you can help in another way. Learn to say “no” so you can say a big “YES” to what you value most.
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  • Tank-fillers. What are the things that you need regularly to keep yourself healthy – mentally, physically and spiritually. (Things like exercise, hobbies, spiritual disciplines and a social life.) Write down the frequency you need those things (x1/day, x2/week, x1/month, etc).
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    Note: Check for balance. You don’t want to only see work and family, or work and me-time. Ideally, for a healthy life, you want to see a good balance of work, community, giving back, and tank-fillers.
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  • On your calendar (I prefer paper because I can see a spread of time) put in the big rocks – your non-negotiables and responsibilities, from lists 1 and 2 (like work, school, church, weekly family time, date with spouse). ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
    Note: Put some boundaries in place. For example, as a family we have committed to not have more than 3 nights out per week.
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  • Add in your tank-fillers. Actually put them on your calendar and plan for them. You can’t expect to be good for what you love the most, if your own tank is on empty.
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    Now, when things come up you can look at the time you realistically have available, being more confident that you’re not going to over-extend your capacity, and that you’re spending your days the way you want to spend your life.
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    What are some of your time-management tips?

When All You Can Do is Lean

Danielle Balin, The Beloved

There was a morning recently during my usual coffee, reading and prayer time, when all I could do was be – just be with Jesus, or rather, let Him be with me. I was weary from running some long “races” and my heart was trembling in the face of some news that had brought fear along with it. I just didn’t feel I had any prayers I could pray or words to say. There was nothing I could do or offer, and yet, I knew I could meet Him there.

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” Song of Solomon 8:5

I’ve imagined over and over this scene from the love story in Song of Solomon, in which we are the ones leaning on God. A wilderness is an inhospitable, harsh place. In the same way life can get wild. There are moments when we feel alone and lost. And, though we hope not to, most of us will at some point experience an especially long season of difficulty or suffering. Whatever the “wilderness” is, we can come through it if we learn to lean.

In some difficulties you know what to do. It’s hard, but you know clearly what needs to be done. In other situations you rely on what you have put into practice for years, you trust in proven principles and practices and it works. And then there are days when all you can do is lean. And you know what? You’ll find God is there to be leaned on.

That morning I could sense Jesus’ presence with me. He was just WITH me. With me in my trial, with me in my questions, with me in my fears. I sensed love. And as I turned my heart towards Him, I could feel his steadiness, His reliability, His sureness, His faithfulness. And I leaned hard.

How do we turn our hearts towards Jesus, and how do we feel Him with us? I’ve trained my heart to do this – we’re all wired for it. It’s a relationship that’s cultivated by reading His Word, learning what He says and what His voice “sounds” like. It includes talking to Him about what we’ve read and asking Him to make it part of us. It is also pausing and waiting to allow His presence to touch our reality, and listening to His voice which “sounds” like His Word, meaning that we can recognize it because it agrees with scripture. And not least of all, then applying it to our situations and circumstances and making Jesus-centered decisions, which is perhaps what most grows the connection with Him – when we’re willing to trust Him with our lives. Each time we choose to lean on Him and walk with Him, we are learning how to do it better and how to more quickly and easily find Him in times of need. The closeness grows, as in any relationship.

I’m so thankful for His strength when mine fails.

Shipwreck of faith happens when we stop leaning. We have to give our faith the opportunity to grow into Jesus deeply through these moments and to come out the other side stronger. It’s in leaning that our love for Him grows.

Taking our questions to Him, rather than turning away from Him because we have questions. Taking our pain to Him, rather than closing our hearts. Talking to Him about our fears, and waiting for His wisdom, rather than taking things into our own hands.

There may be a wilderness that you have to walk through, but Jesus is always bringing you out from it. We can be sure that is the outcome if we keep leaning and walking with Him. I’ve walked with him long enough and leaned enough times to know this is true.

Don’t get lost in the wilderness.

How have you leaned on God’s strength and what works for you in wilderness times? Please share in the comments section.

Pain is an Invitation to Wholeness

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Pain isn’t all bad. When pain surfaces it’s a sign. It signals that there are deeper issues in our hearts that need to be healed. Pain is bad if we don’t get healed, but pain can also be an invitation to wholeness.
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Life happens. And when it does it can expose brokenness and misalignments in my psyche, in my paradigms, in my longings and in my beliefs (perhaps that I’ve always had, or that I’ve picked up along the way). If I can let those places become whole, I will become more fit for the future God has designed for me.
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God is so good that He will keep showing me my pain and coming after it until it’s all healed. He sees, really sees our hearts, just like what is expressed in this passage from Psalm 139.
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“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
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Verses 1-4 are an acknowledgement that God already knows all and sees all. But the secret to wholeness is in verses 23-24. My part is to keep on responding through the process.
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“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
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I want to live in this invitation for God to search me, test me, know me – to find any anxiety or any broken place in me. And to keep following His leadership and go His way which always leads to a healthier life.

How to Keep Your Heart Engaged in Life through Tough Times

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When we’re tired, disappointed, or hurt, our hearts want to shut down. We want to withdraw and protect ourselves. But if I can keep my heart awake and engaged as I walk through those times, I am going to come out on the other side with a wiser heart, a purer heart, a heart that is more empathetic towards others and a heart that is more in tune with God and with myself.
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•Stay engaged with God.
When you don’t understand, keep worshiping. Keep talking to him. Tell Him how you feel. Ask questions, but don’t distance your heart. Trust in His goodness.
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•Stay engaged with community.
I’m all for boundaries when someone is being injured by a relationship, but boundaries are not supposed to KEEP us FROM community. Keep showing up, keep sharing your life. Sometimes giving is the best thing you can do when going through a tough time cause it takes your eyes off yourself and puts them on others. Respond to texts, go to church, show up at parties and family dinners. You need them, and you know what? They need who you are.
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•Stay engaged with yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself. Allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to process with someone you trust and who has proven their love for you. Be honest and real, but keep your heart soft. I’ve found one of the best ways to do this is to say out loud what I’m grateful for, even when I’m struggling.

WHOLE-hearted

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The biggest thing I learned in 2019 is the importance of living “wholehearted”. I’m not only talking about wholehearted as it’s defined – “completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic.” Actually, that part comes naturally for me. But what dawned on me halfway through 2019 and began to shine on my heart is the realization that that’s not enough – the realization that if I’m going to reach my goals and live in my full capacity, then I have to also keep my heart WHOLE. So, that kind of “whole-hearted” is what I mean.

Keeping your heart healthy takes work. It’s perhaps the hardest work of all. When the process takes longer, when it requires change, when you experience personal cost and loss for the dream – it’s there, in that place – if you can keep your heart whole, that you will stay on the track of your purpose. Because life comes from the heart.
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Scripture shows that Caleb got to experience his destiny because he lived wholeheartedly.
Joshua 14 verses 9&10 “The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord God wholeheartedly.”
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Not only did Caleb follow God all the way, but scripture also indicates that he kept his heart healthy.
verse 11 “So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.”
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Living wholehearted isn’t just not giving up, it’s keeping my heart soft and pure. I can’t follow God without following Him into forgiveness. I can’t move forward without trusting when He leads me THROUGH (not around) difficulty and disappointment. I can’t love others well without keeping my heart steadily engaged with God, the source of love. I can’t close up or switch off. I can’t just go through the motions. It doesn’t work.

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I’m learning that the health of my heart has a direct connection to how much of my purpose I will walk into. I’m committed to living wholehearted AND WHOLE-hearted.

What an Armed Robbery Taught Me About EXPECTATIONS

Sometimes in life, disappointing, painful or even traumatic things happen that we weren’t expecting at all and can make us feel stunned, unnerved, unsure. It’s completely normal to feel that way, and we need to embrace those feelings so that we can process them. When we handle ourselves with care, these unpleasant experiences have the potential to make us wiser and stronger. But the way we navigate through these moments and their aftermath will determine whether we carry unnecessary baggage and become untrusting, cynical, fearful people. Maybe you’re facing something unexpected and walking through the surrounding circumstances.

In the previous post I shared some things I’ve discovered to be true for me when it comes to expectations. (see previous post Are Your Expectations Hurting or Helping?) I’ve found that when people let us down or life doesn’t “happen” on time or as we thought it would, it’s important to 1) grieve unmet expectations, 2) forgive when necessary, and then, 3) be grateful for what is. This sets us up to have fresh, healthy, correctly-placed expectations. Which leads me to this next point…

4. Move your expectations to a secure place.

I went through an armed robbery a few years ago, one day when I was alone in our home in South Africa. Unfortunately, armed robberies are too common in South Africa, and it was a risk we knowingly lived with. I didn’t struggle to understand “why me?” but nonetheless, it certainly didn’t fit neatly into my idea of an ideal life … into my “expectations.”

About a week after the robbery, I realized that the date on which the robbery had happened, January 15th, was the six-year anniversary of our family moving to South Africa. That got my attention. (For whatever reason, dates have often carried significant meaning in my life and I usually take note of them.) I had started the new year reading through the book of Genesis in the Bible and so it occurred to me to look up the reference that matched the date (in South Africa the date is written month first and then the day, so it was 15/1).

Genesis 15:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.

I sensed God saying to me, “I never promised you that you wouldn’t face trouble, but I said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am your shield.'”

The robbery had been unexpected, but Him being with me? – I can always expect that. So, in that moment of realization, I put my expectations more squarely, more securely upon Him. I can honestly tell you that since that experience, I am a less fearful person than before I experienced an armed robbery – for no other reason than I moved my expectations to God. He had been there for me. He was my shield.

A traumatic event (or anything unpleasant we go through) can make us less trusting or more trusting, less expecting towards God, or more expecting. We can choose the latter.

“…I am your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1) I may have lost my wedding ring, all the jewelry I owned, some other valuables and had my personal safety compromised, but now, in its place, I had more understanding of God’s sturdiness, of His faithfulness, of His love. And that is more precious than all the jewels in the world. That is enough. That is a reward in my life.

Life let me down that day, but God didn’t. So, He’s the secure place for our expectations. Expect Him, expect His goodness, no matter what – even if you have to wait for it…

5. Expectation waits well.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:11-13

There is something to be found in waiting. In the verse above, God is saying, “I have good plans for you, but while you’re waiting, search for me. Find me.”

I have news that might make you uncomfortable: God isn’t too concerned with us going through some difficulty or us having to wait. Why? Because He knows He’s going to be faithful and with us through it all and He plans to show us more of who He really is in that process. We’re the ones who forget that. (Plenty of accounts of lives in the scriptures support this.)

To make wine, grapes are crushed. But then, there is waiting for the wine to ferment. Sometimes we’re crushed in life from disappointments, from unmet expectations. If we can meet Jesus in that place and let Him press us with His love, influence and presence – if we can wait there with Him – I promise you He will bring fresh, new wine from those places. Wine is more expensive and valuable than grapes because it has gone through a process. Expect the wine.

There are several references in scripture to “new wine.” It implies that this wine is something fresh – from a fresh pressing. “New wine” is from this year’s harvest and pressing. Your “new wine” is the freshest thing you have to offer from what God has recently done in your life or is doing in your life right now.

In scripture, new wine is a symbol of God’s refreshing Spirit, a sign of God’s blessing and abundance.

So, what does God want to bring from our unmet expectations and our disappointments? When we can move our expectations to Him, He wants to bring His refreshing Spirit, His blessing and abundance into that place in our lives.

HE wants to meet our unmet expectations.

In ancient Old Testament times, the new wine was part of the drink offering that the priests would pour out onto the altar in worship to God. So our “new wine” can also be “poured out” in in worship to God as we love and serve others. When we allow God to bring new wine from our lives, then we have His refreshing Spirit, His blessing and abundance to give away to others which takes on the form of service.

I’ve been living on this new song “New Wine” by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

“In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine”

“I lay down my old flames
To carry Your new fire today”

For me, those “old flames” are my old expectations. Listen to “New Wine” here.

Are Your Expectations Hurting or Helping?

Expectation – a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

Expectation is a powerful thing. It’s so key in dreams being fulfilled and goals being reached. But expectations can also cause great disappointment, if I’m mistaken in my expectations.

I’ve always had high expectations. You can ask my parents about when I was a tiny child, or you can ask my husband about the way I am still today! I’ve never had a problem knowing what I want and what I don’t want, what I think is good and what I think is not good enough. If there is a wall or an obstacle between me and something I think is right or best, I’m going to push through that, around it, over it or under it. Or at least give it my absolute best shot!

What are some of our expectations?

We Expect:

  • The way it has always been.
  • The way we think it should be.
  • We expect our lives will include certain people.
  • We expect certain people to behave a certain way or do certain things.

And then we go after those things to try to make them happen. We think that if we love enough, help enough, pray enough… then __________ will eventually happen.

But sometimes in life there are unmet expectations. The things we’ve EXPECTED don’t happen. Or they don’t happen by a certain time that we judge appropriate. Or they’re happening, but they don’t look anything like what we thought they would.

No matter how strong my will is, I discover that try as I might, I CAN’T WILL THINGS INTO BEING.

What IF:

  • I don’t get that job.
  • that person I want to marry doesn’t want to marry me.
  • that extended family member still does not understand how their behavior hurts me.
  • my family doesn’t and maybe never will see me for who I really am.
  • that person I love, who I’ve invested into and prayed for needs to go on a journey that’s different than what I thought was best for them.
  • I haven’t achieved what I thought I should have achieved by now.

Writer and speaker Havilah Cunnington says, “We create our own heartbreak through our own expectations.”

Our hearts are broken because we’ve placed our expectations on shaky ground.

We place our expectations on the ground:

  • that is based on others’ choices and free will.
  • of my performance (which sometimes is on par and sometimes is off – I can make mistakes).
  • of my abilities – to strangle something to the ground or to create something that doesn’t exist today.
  • of circumstances I can’t control and that God doesn’t expect me to.

Sometimes the things we fight for are not the things we really need or even really want. We just think we do.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t expect the things God has promised us. Biblical “hope” -is defined as “expectation.” But, we often have our own idea of HOW those desires God has given us, and, those requests we’ve made to God must come about. And WHEN.

Can we highlight some areas in our lives where we need to be freed from our own expectations? Maybe:

  • a relationship you have your heart set on
  • an idea of something you really want
  • your own standards and expectations you’ve placed upon yourself
  • your own standards and expectations you’ve placed on others in your life

Where do you feel the BURDEN of expectation? Where does your expectation feel heavy and disappointing?

1. Grieve well.

Grieve – to feel sorrow over the loss of something. Sometimes the loss or grief we feel is simply over our EXPECTATION of something – not even something we held in our hands.

Proverbs 13:12 “hope deferred makes the heart sick” …unfulfilled expectation.

My family has recently moved back to the USA from overseas, to Detroit, to plant a church. I have been guilty within my mind and heart of having too many of my own expectations. Because I’m strong willed, I’ve had some pretty clear ideas of what I wanted and how I wanted it to be (for me, for my family and for the church) and by when. I guess we all do that, but at times, these expectations get out of hand and begin to cloud our view and choke our hearts. They mess with our ability to love people, simply and freely, and they mess with our ability to trust God fully. So, they have to be brought to the surface and grieved. They have to be peeled from our hearts so that we can move into what is actually good, and is there right in front of us. Maybe you can identify.

I’ve needed to pray prayers like, “God, you promised me __________, but you never said that it would be exactly __________ or that it would look like __________ or that it would be by this __________ time.”

LET GO. Grieve well. Grieve what might have been, what could have been. Grieve what still may be, but isn’t today. And that burden of expectation breaks off of you. Relief.

2. Forgive, if the situation requires.

forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

To FORGIVE means to stop FEELING angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw or mistake. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

When you’re feeling angry, resentful and hurt – have you actually been wronged, or is it just that people haven’t fulfilled expectations of what YOU thought they should do?

Communicate where necessary (and never put up with abuse!) but where you can identify your expectations as the problem, lift those expectations off of people! Knowing that as we forgive (flaws, mistakes and offenses), we each need to be forgiven for things too – because we all offend, have flaws and make mistakes. And sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for those things.

…When I pass through forgiveness, I find myself in a place of .…

3. Gratefulness

“Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together. Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful.” Colossians 3:13-15

Gratefulness feels like gardening. Moving the soil, planting seeds, watering… As we’re grateful for what we already have, then the things we’re longing for – our “expectations” – can grow up FROM that soil of gratefulness.

When you wake up from your own expectations, you see the beauty of what is growing right in front of you. Let go of your own expectations to make room for what God wants to give you, for better things He’s been ready to give you all along. We need to let go of the control of how we are expecting God to work in our lives, and LET Him fulfill His promises to us.

In the next post we’ll look at where we need to securely place our expectations.

I Rest So I Can Run

Written January 1, 2018

2017 took more of me than I was expecting. Honestly, the personal price of what I willingly walked into last year was greater than I had anticipated.

As I fell into Christmas weekend, I felt like a runner stumbling across the finish line of the year. On the 26th I was beating myself up for being physically and emotionally spent again, but there was a whisper in my spirit of these words as a lifeline to my heart…

“Even young people will be weary and stumble and be exhausted. But those who wait for the Lord (expect, look for and hope in Him) shall renew their strength and power… they shall run and not be weary.” (from Isaiah 40)

I heard the Holy Spirit say that it’s OK.

I’m learning that no matter how much we try to have healthy boundaries, good planning and rhythms of rest (and we should be continually learning how to do life better) there are moments and seasons that simply take it out of us, and that even in God’s good plan for us, at times that’s OK. This has been one of those seasons for me.

The fix is to recognize it and come to a pause. Rest must happen so that “strength and power” can be “renewed”. And thank God that it can be! 🙌🏽

Then, I love reading that we are supposed to “RUN and not be weary”… we’re meant to RUN! *We’re just not supposed to run on empty.*

I’ve gone underground a bit for the past few days, just as extraordinarily cold temps have made nature go to sleep around me. I’ve rested and tucked myself into my heart to listen to it, to process thoughts through writing and prayer and chats with Paul.

Today, as I look into 2018 these promises (from Isaiah 40) are working wonders in my heart. ♡

I hope that you have rested or are resting, that you are renewed, refocused and that you find what you need in a place of peace. And I pray that in 2018 you will run!

Happy New Year!

She Said Yes

IMG_5704I saw this painting of Mary and Joseph at a live nativity recently. Mary’s riding that donkey – and I thought… we can’t see that she’s pregnant but we know that she’s carrying Jesus. CARRYING. She carried something – someone, not just for her own sake or her own benefit, but for the sake of the world.

In a sense, every mother does this in that each child born is a gift to the world and has enormous potential. But, Mary! She had agreed, in an encounter with an angel, to carry the Son of God – a Savior for the sake of the world.

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.'” Luke 1:38

She said YES.

I love this about Mary. She could have said “no” to what would alter the course of her life, put her at great risk, and eventually break her heart. But, when confronted with a sense of destiny, with a calling… really, when she heard God speak, she said “yes” to it. “May everything you have said about me come true.”

To me, this is one of the most powerful and profound statements in scripture. It’s beautiful that God came to a woman and invited her to partner in saving humanity. It’s awesome that she said “yes” even though surely not all of her questions and concerns were settled in that moment. She was brave and she trusted.

And then she carried for nine months. For the whole world she carried. Then she gave birth.

What are we carrying? What can I say “yes” to carrying for others? We “pick it up” to carry or “conceive” it when we say “yes.”

I didn’t ride that donkey to Bethlehem and yet I benefit that Mary did. I can take that place for others when others don’t.

God is still asking for carriers. Carriers of:

  • love
  • hope
  • justice
  • mercy and grace (even when not deserved by those we carry it to)

Do you feel the burden of this? I do. Mary showed us how.

  1. Say yes.
  2. Go through the discomfort and inconvenience of having our lives altered and our capacities enlarged.
  3. Be faithful all the way through to deliver what we’re carrying.

Mary’s own salvation was wrapped up in her “yes” as she carried the gift of salvation for the whole world. As we do as she did we too find everything we’ve ever been looking for.

The Power of Hospitality

Hospitality – the friendly and generous reception and treatment of visitors, guests or strangers.

Hospitality reaches out to welcome in and give to others. Hospitality has a lot to do with growing our capacity for others, bringing people under the covering and shelter of our lives, giving from any love or goodness that we have to share.

In my study of hospitality, I was delighted to find this instance of when Jesus was hospitable, recorded in the book of John, chapter 1, verses 37-40,

“When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. Andrew…was one of these men…”

Andrew became one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. His first introduction to Jesus was that he hung out with him in His home. Jesus allowed people to come close to Him and He invited them into His space.

Scripture records that the early church was hospitable. In the book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 46 we read,

“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.”

In the words of my friend, Steve Sudworth, “In the early church, their homes were central places of meeting, not castles to retreat to.”

Something happens when we welcome people into our personal space as Jesus did and when we share meals together as they did in the early church.

Hospitality is not limited to meals, but MEALS are a big part of hospitality.

Sharing meals is a spiritual thing. Meals are powerful to break down barriers, to build trust, to meet physical and emotional needs, to provide family and to minister to people. Nourishment is a need that all of humanity shares. Eating is a family and community activity. So, when we invite people into the activity and space of sharing a meal, we’re saying, “I care about your needs and I want to be family with you.”

Romans chapter 12, verse 13 encourages us to “Always be eager to practice hospitality.” “Practice” would suggest that hospitality is a skill we can and should grow in.

My friend, Susanne Sivewright in South Africa, along with her husband leads a vibrant church of several hundred and is brilliant at hospitality, her home always overflowing with love and people, the warmth of nourishing food and the lingering whispers of good conversation. Susanne says, “Our homes should be gifts from God to be used, not show pieces to be admired and preserved. The mistake we often make is to confuse entertainment with hospitality. Entertaining is all about impressing with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking and few can do it. So it leads to stress. Whereas hospitality says, ‘I want to minister. This home is not mine, it’s a gift’ – and EVERYONE can do that.”

To “minister” simply means to attend to the needs of someone.

This past summer, my husband and I put a picnic table in our back yard and started having meals around it with our neighbors. You can hear about it here: Neighbors at Your Table .

I believe that we all should move towards being able to open our homes to one another, but there are also other ways we can express hospitality – to extend “friendly and generous reception and treatment of visitors, guests or strangers.” A few of these might be:

  • Taking someone out for a cup of coffee
  • Taking someone out for a meal
  • Making cookies or a baked item for someone
  • Giving a thoughtful gift or a card
  • Stopping to talk to your neighbor on your street or your neighbor at the office
  • Meeting a physical need of someone around you

Jesus, in another instance, showed extravagant hospitality to Andrew and the others when he washed their feet. John chapter 13 records that they were sharing supper (that powerful act of togetherness) and Jesus got up to begin washing the filth off of his friends’ feet.

In those days they wore open sandals, and the streets were dirty! Cows and donkeys walked the streets… you can imagine what ended up on their feet! Who would dream of volunteering to wash that filth off of someone’s feet? Yet Jesus did.

Today we don’t have that kind of filth on our streets, or at least we have better shoes and boots to protect us from it. But we do have the difficulties and the hurts of this life, we do have the hardships that are placed on us by this cruel world. People are carrying burdens and pains and the filth and dirt of living hard. And when we serve them, when we’re hospitable to them – when we serve ONE ANOTHER, in effect we’re washing that filth off of one another’s feet. Hospitality refreshes one another spiritually, just like washing feet would refresh physically.

Jesus said to Peter in verse 8, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” When they allowed Him to wash their feet and they received from Him in that way, it allowed for a connection to be made and it was a foreshadowing of the spiritual washing of their souls that He was going to bring.

Then, in verse 14, Jesus says, “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.”

When we help to wash the filth off of each other and receive that from one another it brings a connection between us. When we reach out to the world around us and minister to people’s needs, it brings a connection.

HOSPITALITY creates connection. It builds a bridge. And then, perhaps, weightier, spiritual things can travel across that bridge.

I looked at the word used in the original Greek language in New Testament scripture for the word “hospitality”. Look at this golden goodness: “hospitality’ in Greek is “love to strangers.” I love that!

I am learning, and learning over again, and again that everything starts with and comes back to LOVE. Hospitality at its heart is giving love and we can all make room in our hearts, our calendars and around our tables for that!

Perhaps take a moment and think of a few individuals or families you know who could use friendship and love. Write their names down if necessary on a piece of paper and put it on your fridge so you remember to contact them, or put a reminder in your calendar right now to invite them over for a meal or out for a cup of coffee. Make space in your capacity for showing generosity and love through the very powerful gift of hospitality.