What we talk about…Hospitality At Home.

“What we talk about when we talk about _________”  is our series for June. Words and language have meaning and provide insight. What is revealed when we reflect on the words we say? Check out the whole series HERE.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Hospitality at Home...

What We Talk About
When We Talk About
Hospitality at Home…

I remember being asked on a “get to know you” questionnaire one time, “What brings you joy?”  While other people answered “My job” or “My kids”, my first response was, “Having people in my home.”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my kids too, but I sincerely mean it when I say I love having people in my home. For dinner, for coffee, for playdates, for absolutely no good reason at all.  That is what brings me joy.  To feed and nourish and create space — whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

We all have different gifts and different personalities, so it stands to reason that hospitality at home comes more naturally to some of us than it does to others.  Some of us (ahem…me) get a strange thrill out of planning and decorating and cooking purely for the benefit of others.  Even if it does mean we run around like an absolute maniac two hours before everyone is due to arrive. (Not that I’ve ever done that).

But if your idea of hospitality is a scene from Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens, I might beg you to NOT show up at my house.

Because here’s what you need to know about hospitality:

It isn’t about you.

It has little to do with you or your personality or your gifts or your home or your cooking ability.  That takes some of the pressure off, right?

Hospitality at home is about the people you invite into your home and your life. It’s about the guest and her needs, not the host and how spotless her home is or how good the food was.  It’s about caring for people’s basic needs to create a safe space.  A place where people can cry, laugh, be vulnerable, and walk away knowing they are loved.  Hospitality shouldn’t be draining.  It should be life giving!

And here’s something else you need to know about hospitality at home (brace yourself because you might not like me so much after this): if you claim to follow Jesus, it’s not optional.  

But here’s the other piece of good news.  Hospitality at home doesn’t have to be complicated.

You see, hospitality at home can happen around a simple cup of coffee or a gourmet meal.  It can happen in an immaculate mansion or a sparsely furnished one bedroom apartment.  It can happen in the midst of crying babies, messy kids, piles of laundry, and to-do lists.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up my less than perfect home and I was the only one who truly noticed that things were out of place.

If you’re like me and you simply adore having people over (like your husband has to limit you because you’d have people over every day kind of person) then you probably don’t need much help from me.

But if this is new for you and it’s hard, that’s okay!  Start small.  Put on a pot of coffee and invite just one person over.  Maybe someone you already know and connect with well.  Go ahead and clean as much as feels necessary for you to be comfortable and enjoy your time.  But make it about their comfort and their needs instead of yours.  The first time might be hard, but the second, third, fourth times…they’ll be easier.

And yes, store bought cookies are completely acceptable.

***
By Amanda Boils
Amanda writes from her beautiful country community in Michigan surrounded by her husband and 2 small sons.

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What we talk about: Friendship

“What we talk about when we talk about _________”  is our series for June. Words and language have meaning and provide insight. What is revealed when we reflect on the words we say? Check out the whole series HERE.

Friends

Friendship has been redefined for me this year.

Don’t get me wrong, friendship has always been valuable to me. I have realized over the years just how incredibly blessed I have been in that area. Friendships among women can be difficult to find and maintain, but I have more than my fair share. Yet I believe we are created for community, women especially so.

Looking back though, I realize that for years I lived with this idea that friendship is rooted in joy. There’s some truth to that. Some of the best days I have experienced were celebrating marriages, births, educational and career accomplishments.

Celebration comes easily to us. No one has to explain to us how to rejoice when circumstances are good. For most of us, that comes naturally. We know how to buy gifts, send flowers, take pictures, smile.

But what I have learned this past year is that friendship is truly forged when life tests us.

When a friend tells you that her marriage is falling apart. When she loses a child to cancer. When she expresses the pain that comes from raising a child with autism or special needs. When life with work and little kids becomes so overwhelming it threatens to swallow the joy.

It has been those moments that have truly shaped my friendships. The times when I don’t know what to say and I can’t fix it and all I can do is pray and cry and let you borrow my faith for a little while. Or more recently the times when people haven’t known what to say to me, but they showed up anyway. In their beautiful, encouraging, unique, and even practical ways.

If worship is about honoring God, it makes sense that when we honor our friendships, we worship Him in the most beautiful, profound sense.

When we cry or simply sit in silence. When we join in pain and grief without having to fix it. When we answer that middle of the night phone call or take her kids for the day. It’s not just about “being a good friend.” It’s about serving and loving and honoring those who have been created in the very image of our Creator.

Choosing to walk through the valley and the darkness alongside someone else might be scary and vulnerable and painful. Grief and pain are messy and complicated. It can be awkward.

Do it anyway. Because one day you might find yourself needing a hand to hold as you walk through the valley of the shadow. And because sometimes we need our friends to teach us how to worship in the midst of life and heartache.

And because you might just learn something about worshipping the one who created us along the way.

***
By Amanda Boils
Amanda writes from her beautiful country community in Michigan surrounded by her husband and 2 small sons.

Fear, Motherhood and Freedom

  

Nothing has tested me in the fear department quite like becoming a mom. There are more things to worry about in the world today than my mind can even begin to process.  Are my children developing physically and mentally the way they should be?  What’s in the food I’m feeding them (because even things we thought were healthy aren’t as healthy as we once thought)?  Homeschool, public school, private school?

I have spent more of my life allowing fear to hold me back than I care to admit. I was in my early 20s when God finally broke through to my heart and freed me from the debilitating fear that had kept me from experiencing a full life.  A fear that kept me from being who God had created me to be.  

I wish I could say that I live every day in that freedom.  That when I’m tempted to worry it’s second nature to give it over to God and move on with my day with complete trust in the outcome.  

I know that it’s natural to wonder and worry and question.  I’m pretty sure that if there is a manual floating around out there about how to do this mom thing perfectly, that is one of the first things it says in big, bold print from the day you find out you’re pregnant: YOU WILL WORRY FROM THIS DAY FORWARD. (P.S. If you find that manual, send it my way immediately!)  

If I let it, the fear will overwhelm me to the point where I cannot function on a day to day basis.  Fear is one of Satan’s most formidable weapons because it can quite literally keep us from living the abundant life we are created for.  (Not to give Satan too much credit but I know from experience that fear is powerful.)

The challenging, life-giving truth is that worship and fear can’t co-exist. We can’t bow at the throne of a perfect God who has a perfect love for us while at the same time doubting that He can handle our fears and our worries.  That isn’t true worship.  If worship means laying all of what we have before God, that has to include even the fears that are too terrible to speak out loud.  The fears that keep us awake in the dark, silent, lonely moments of the night.  

And if you’re trying to worship while harboring fears, you cannot fully experience the richness and depth of God’s presence and peace.  I am convinced more each day that God desires for us to live so deeply intertwined with him, living in his presence, that fear, worry, despair, even grief have no power over his peace.

There is power in fear.  But there is an even greater power in worshiping a God who is powerful enough to handle those fears, erase your doubt, and allow you to live freely.


Do you believe that perfect love truly does cast out fear?  

 

~Amanda

What limits you?




Lately, I’ve been forced to take a step back.  To slow down.  Some of it is health related.  Some of it is just simply feeling the need to be more present with my husband and my boys.  


It feels out of character for me.  I’m a “yes” girl.  I don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything, I really do want to say yes to everything.  And for awhile I think that I can and it will all be okay and nothing will suffer.  But something always does.  


I recently stepped away from a commitment without finishing it out (which I pride myself on NOT doing) because I couldn’t handle it anymore.  I was suffering physically, emotionally, and mentally.  And so was my family.


I don’t know when I somehow got the idea that God only values me for what I do.  That He only values me, I’m only honoring Him, when I’m actively serving and worshiping in tangible ways.  Worship is a verb.  I can’t possibly worship when I’m not doing.


I’m learning something these days.  It’s a slow process, and I always thought I was a quick learner, a good student.  It’s taking time.  God is constantly putting limits on what I can actually physically do so that He can have my full attention.  


But here’s the painful, glorious, life-changing lesson I’m learning: my worship means no less to God coming from a broken, contrite, exhausted heart that is just too weary to say yes right now than it did before.  In fact, maybe it means a little bit more.  


Because I have to trust that these limitations are for my good.  When I worship these days, it’s not coming from someone who can’t help but praise Him because life has turned out the way that I dreamed and hoped and I feel amazing.  No, these days my worship is coming from a place of hope and trust that my God is a redeemer.  A healer.  And that even on my worst days, He still wants me.  He still calls me His daughter.  And He can still use me.


Sometimes worship isn’t a verb.  Sometimes worship is just being still.  


Waiting.  Hoping. Trusting.


And if you find yourself in that place with me, know that being still is all that God requires of you right now.  I have hope for rest and for the days when I can say yes again with all my heart to the things He has laid out for me.  


Today is not that day.  So today, I will be still. 

I will be still, and know that He is God.

Harmonies, Melodies, Lyrics and Poetry




I love music.  Harmonies, melodies, lyrics, poetry.  There’s something about the melodic rise and fall of notes and chords that speaks to a part of my soul that feels deeply and sees the world a little differently than most.

 

And for more years than I’d care to admit, my worship revolved mainly around music.  It wasn’t always reverent.  I didn’t always treat it or the object of my worship as sacred either.  Even after all the years I spent growing up in the church, attending a Christian college, marrying into a full time ministry gig, I’m not sure I ever fully grasped the “what” of worship.

 

Not until my oldest son was born.  

 

I was rocking him to sleep in a dark room about a week after we came home from the hospital.  I was still in awe of this tiny little miracle (and sort of in shock that they just casually sent us home from the hospital with another human being!).  I realized that I would do anything, absolutelyanything for this little boy who I’d known less than a week.  I would give up my life for him without a second thought if it meant protecting him.  Saving him.

 

Do you get it now?  Do you get that’s what I did for you when I sent Jesus?

 

It was one of those rare moments where I could have sworn I heard God’s voice audibly.  I cried tears of gratitude as all the years of unrecognized mercy and grace and acceptance came to the surface.  I was profoundly changed by a new understanding of who God is.

 

And in that moment, I worshiped.  There was no music, no instruments, no songs.  

 

Just me.  

 

Finally responding to my Creator and Savior with all that He had created me to be.  Responding to Him not just because of what He had done, but simply for who He is.  Because at the heart of it, that’s what worship is: laying all of who you are at God’s feet for His glory.  And suddenly worship went from being so narrowly defined in my mind, to something so wide and vast and deep, that I realized there’s hardly a minute of my life when I can’t worship.  

 

Worship, for so many, has become that “thing” we do on Sunday mornings.  Or even that service we attend.  Or the songs that we sing.  That’s such a shallow understanding of worship.  God has so much more that He longs to hand you.  He longs for you to see.  

 

All of life, each moment that we choose to open our eyes and our hearts and recognize who God is and what He has done is a moment that we choose to worship.  And every moment we take a breath is a moment made for worshiping.  

 

Moms, do you get that we were created for this?  That we were created for a life of abundance, of fullness…of worship?  It’s easy to lose sight of that because most of our moments don’t feel like this.  Most of our moments tend to feel mundane, routine, or just down right stressful.  

 

But worship isn’t a feeling, and if we wait for our feelings to catch up so we can honor God, we might never do it.  But I promise you, if you will slow down, you will see.  You will find your moment of worship today.  It may be fast and fleeting and if you’re not looking, you’ll miss it.  

 

Just for a moment, try it.  Try laying down all of who you are at God’s feet.  Be grateful.  Be humble.  Be changed.  

 

Because all is worship.      

Meet Amanda…Amanda Panda

I’m sure she’s thrilled that I just publically called her that! As her oldest sister, I can. I’ll let her tell you the rest…





Hello beautiful mommas!  Welcome to Worship Filled Wednesday! I’m Amanda and I am thrilled to be on this crazy, chaotic, beautiful, grace-filled journey called motherhood with you.  

 

Please know right up front that I’m not writing here because I’m any kind of expert.  On anything.  I’m a pastor’s wife of 7 years and stay at home momma to two littles (3.5 and almost 2).  I’ll turn 30 this July.  My life is not glamorous or spectacular.  (In fact, I’m listening to Jake and the NeverLand Pirates in the background as I write this.) And I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Even as a writer, I struggle to put into words the journey our family has been on over the last 7 years.  My husband began his ministry as a youth pastor.  We are now on our third church and his first as senior pastor.  I have seen the best and worst of those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  There have been mountains, valleys, late night phone calls, funerals, weddings, too many teen trips to count, and more changes than I could have imagined.  Add in two boys born twenty months apart and living at least 8 hours away from either side of extended family and well, maybe the one thing I am an expert on is change!

 

Through it all, I have learned what it means to worship an unchanging God.  I’ve learned that my worship looks different in the valley than it does on the mountaintop, but the God we worship never changes.  I’ve learned that worship looks different when you’re newly married than it does when you suddenly find yourself at home with a new baby.  I’ve learned that worship is not and cannot be dependent on my circumstances.  

 

Wednesdays are going to be the day we explore worship.  What is it?  What does it mean?  How does it change the way we live? How do we worship when we’re up to our necks in laundry and crying children?  How do we worship in the different seasons of life?  How do we worship when our feelings don’t match up with the reality of who we know Jesus is?

 

I am not an expert.  I feel like that bears repeating.  My fear is that some of you will read these posts and think, “Wow, she really has it all together.” It’s easy to think that when you get to hear about the highlights and you don’t always get to see the behind the scenes.

 

I am a wife and a mom who loves Jesus and who desires to worship in every moment.  I’d love to say that as a pastor’s wife I spend my days reading my Bible, praying, ministering to those in need, and that my kids are always dressed to the nines with hair combed on Sundays.  The reality is I am a beautiful mess.  A desperately in need of grace (and a maid!) mess.  One of my kids is almost always crying and I usually lose my patience at least once before we get out the door on Sunday mornings.  I count it a good Sunday if everyone has clothes and shoes on.  

 

But I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.  I am still learning with each new day and each new season.  God’s mercies are new every morning which means we get a new chance at worship every single day.  

 

Today is a new day.  What is your worship going to look like this day?