Hospitality and The Gospel Comes with a House Key

Recently I read The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. Below you can find a link to some of my favorite quotes and questions I developed for a women’s Book Chat at my church.

In light of reading the book, hospitality has been on my mind a lot lately. How do I live it out with use of my house, but also in life in general. Butterfield defines radical ordinary hospitality as seeing strangers become neighbors and neighbors becoming a part of the family of God. I really loved this simple idea.

And then, as I was coming up with the questions, it hit me. While she was definitely advocating for household hospitality, she was also giving a treatise on relational evangelism. Sometimes stranger evangelism and relational evangelism are pitted against each other. But in reality we need to see and understand there is a place for both. My husband is a street evangelist. Three seasons a year (he sits out winter) he goes downtown, hands out tracts, preaches the gospel, and gets into deep gospel conversations. He is also a husband, father, software engineer, an elder, and a neighbor. He forms relationships with those in his family, church, work, and neighborhood and has gospel conversations with those people when possible. Both forms of evangelism are good and right.

But getting back to the book…. I really enjoyed her writing. She is a beautiful writer! I loved hearing her stories and being encouraged by them and their ministry. And hearing about how open-door hospitality and being included in singing and devotions lead to her own conversion. It gave me a heart and a desire to open my life up more to the people around me. It made me think about hospitality in two ways: my home and my relationships.

Before this book, and even after reading it, I do consider our family fairly hospitable. We in no way, shape, or form practice nightly table fellowship, but I don’t think that has be the goal, for a family to be considered hospitable. Nightly table fellowship is what works for the Butterfield family – for their jobs, lifestyle, and personalities. I think Kent being a pastor helps them to accomplish this, so does homeschooling, and the kids being involved with swimming (usually a morning activity). In contrast, my husband has to commute in rush hour. He usually is home by 6pm, but occasionally it’s helpful for him to stay late at the office. My daughters love taking ballet. This will take up more and more evenings as they grow. We have one of our church’s small groups meet at our house on Mondays and our oldest is off to youth group on Wednesdays, and Thursdays have been set aside as Aaron’s street evangelism time. Nightly table fellowship, just isn’t going to work for our family, and that’s ok.

It’s important to not walk away from the book feeling defeated, having set the standard so high that you fail to take any of her wisdom to heart. Instead, ask “What can I do? Where can I start?” I, personally, can continue to be willing to allow friends to crash on my couch on short notice because it works better logistically than for him to drive the almost 2 hours home. I can have a handful of items on hand so that last minute, after church, lunch invites are easier to  offer. (And be ok with picking up rotisserie chickens on the way home if I don’t have anything on hand.) Ultimately, I had an idea about turning our Friday pizza and movie nights into an open invite pizza and game night for all. My husband, the wise man that he is, suggested we start doing that monthly (instead of weekly) — he knows I can burn out easily.

The second aspect of the book that made be think was terms of personal relationships. It convicted me to make those phone call/text messages reaching out to people that I’ve been meaning to reach out to. To continue building friendships with people God has placed in my life. And, it has also made me realize that I am not superwoman. I do have a limited capacity. I am an introvert but God has not seen fit to make me a morning person, so 4 or 5 am mornings of quiet before the day gets started, just isn’t going to happen. And that’s ok. Recognizing that I need a day or two during the week to be at home, to get things done, to think, to just not talk, is ok. I realized after scheduling out a busy week and weekend that I was falling into bed at night with nothing left to offer my kids and husband. I needed to save part of me to be hospitable to them. This means we can’t have something going on every night of the week. We need time together just as a family to bake cookies and talk about the day. The point is, to not make my naturally shy, introverted personality an excuse for not being hospitable. But to also not feel guilty about saying “Is it ok if we plan that for next week or the week after?”

I highly encourage people to read the book, humbly taking in the wisdom they can and asking what is a small step I can take to be more hospitable? Don’t be overwhelmed or compare your family to hers. Do what you can in your life, in your community, within your relationships!

Click on the link below for the questions I wrote up for our book chat. Feel free to use them, edit them, and print as many as needed. It also includes quotes that I thought would be helpful for those at our book chat that weren’t able to read the book. (Hopefully to wet their appetite!)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1elpXSPW7nBy80rEXj8-ZQGkE_e7Cl56caATN0Ky0txE/edit?usp=sharing

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Fear

I grew up in Southwest Florida. I remember hurricane season with fondness. I remember being “trapped” in my dad’s office building during Hurricane Andrew, which did minimal damage in our area. I remember having “hurricane days” in high school. Our school building was a shelter and so they’d cancel school, but both times this happened the hurricane changed course. So, you could find all the high school students on the beach enjoying the most beautiful of days. Some fear hurricanes, but not me. Although, to be fair, I was grateful to hear that my family evacuated for Hurricane Irma in 2017!

A natural disaster that I have always feared is earthquakes. That was never a possibility in Florida. And when we decided to move to Utah for ministry purposes, I’m pretty sure I’d never considered Utah earthquake territory. But there is a big doozy of a fault line right at the bottom of the Wasatch Front. And the state has been warned that “the big one” will come within the next 50 years. However, given that we’ve lived here for 13 years without the slightest tremor, the fear of that looming big earthquake is easily pushed aside.

That is, until a couple of weeks ago. You see, I woke up at 5:03am with a gasp, to my bed shaking like crazy! I thought, “What is Aaron doing?!?” And… proceeded to fall back asleep. I then woke up at 5:10 to more shaking and thought, “That feels like an earthquake. Man, that wind is crazy!” And fell back asleep. (Obviously I have my smartest thoughts while sleeping.) Aaron, who slept through both, told me the following morning that they had been, in fact, earthquakes. The first was a magnitude of 3.1 and the second 3.7. The talk of earthquakes and “the big one” has since been at the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Eight days later, after spending my kids’ mid-winter break safely in Florida, I woke up at 2:31am to more shaking, but this time I knew what it was. I lay there feeling the ground shake and hearing my husband snore and could feel the anxieties creep in.

What if the big earthquake hits while Aaron’s at work, the kids are at school, and Hannah’s at preschool? Would I be able to get to them? Could we survive? Would our house still stand? Would we have water to drink and food to eat?

I think the older I get the more anxieties that I have. Upon flying home from said trip to visit family, the flight had quite a big of turbulence. It never used to bother me. Now, it makes me scared that the plane is simply going to drop from the sky. Even more than that I worry about my kids. What if they grow up and reject Jesus? What if, when they leave, they reject me and never want to come home or have a relationship?

Almost two years ago a friend lost her husband suddenly. And more recently a college friend’s mother died, also suddenly. Those are also things I fear. What if Aaron died tomorrow, how would I take care of my family? How would I survive without him? What if one of our parents died? It would bring such heartache that I’m not ready for.

In the end, however, I have to remind myself that in life there is so very much to fear. And I can become consumed by fear and anxiety or I can trust God. Prepare for things, yes, but ultimately, I need to rest in God. If the worst happens, God will see me through, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. For Jeremiah 17:7-8 says:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

   whose trust is the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water,

   that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

   for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

   for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

So as the numerous anxieties of life begin to creep in I need to put my trust in Him and turn, always turn, to the word of God and to prayer. He is the giver and sustainer of life. After all, the only reason any of us are here today is because he is sustaining us and giving us breath in our lungs. And if one of my fears becomes a reality tomorrow, I will need to turn to him and rest in him and trust that he will see me through. And if that’s the case, than why should I subject myself to a life of fear before a tragedy happens? Instead, I need to be practicing that rest and that trust in my God, who loves me, perfectly.

So, if you need me, I’ll be over here avoiding thoughts of earthquakes and impending doom and actively placing my thoughts and trust in the Sustainer of Life.

John Turns 11

I’m not even sure where to start. John is 11. How did that happen?! He is the one that paves the way for the girls and where Aaron and I learn new things in parenting!

As John prepares to start 6th grade next month, I am reminded of dropping him off for Kindergarten. I remember visiting APA when he was still 4 for a tour, seeing the sixth graders in a line and the tears welled up in my eyes thinking I wasn’t ready for that yet. I IMG_0729also was not happy at the thought of dropping off my little 5-year-old kindergartener off at the school where there were super big 6th graders! But now, my mama-heart is so happy that he’s not yet headed into junior high and that I have another year to prepare for that milestone.

John is a great kid. He has an infectious laugh and reads… all. the. time. And he reads quickly too! If I had to buy every book he read, we’d be poor! We lived at the Sandy house for most of this past year and if he wasn’t in the house, he was more than likely on the hammock, reading.

He also loves Minecraft and Civilization, Star Wars, Adventures in Odyssey and LEGOs. He loves to make other people laugh and will try to find the best jokes to repeat! Oh! And he loves science. One time he had a friend over and they burned a CD (with parent permission) just to see what would happen. He has a curious mind and a great imagination. And while his sister annoys him quite a bit, he also plays really well with her. He is a great big brother!

While it’s hard to let go as your kids get older, you know it’s necessary. We can’t make them stay small forever. So I keep stretching my limit of what I’m comfortable with when it comes to letting go and giving him new responsibilities. One day, Lord willing, he’ll be a man providing and protecting his wife and kids. I can at least let him ride his scooter around the block! 🙂

Hannah Turns 3

Hannah is incurably happy. That’s what Aaron always says. She really does have a smile on her face more often than not!

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Dancing on the table!

Highlights from this past year have been:

  • Dance with Me – A mommy and me dance class that was the highlight of our week.
  • “My best friend Wade.” Hannah and Wade have a love-hate relationship! They are always so excited to see each other, but then get upset because one doesn’t want to share a toy — especially when that toy is, specifically, Wade’s doctor kit.
  • Speaking of doctor kits… Hannah’s favorite toy was her (or even more so Wade’s) “wishenscope.” Better known to everyone else as a stethoscope. 🙂
  • She loves being Super Hero Hannah! “I’m here to save the day!” She loves wearing capes and masks and pretending to have super hero powers.
  • She left behind Daniel Tiger as her favorite show and instead prefers Doc McStuffins and PJ Mask.
  • Hannah LOVES music! She always asks for music in the van. And at night when I sing a song (the majority of the year it was Twinkle) she’ll sing at the top of her lungs right along with me!
  • Hannah is also officially potty trained! While it took longer than I thought, we made it and there are no more diapers in our house.

My sweet little Hannah! How I have loved every minute of her growing up. She is so talkative and smart! She is adorable when she gives me a thumbs up – which is quite often. She loves twirly dresses, dress ups and pretty shoes. She loves puppies and always asks to pet them when we see them in public. She is a sweet girl with a happy attitude and is quick to change her bad attitude when it appears. I can’t imagine life without her!

Lydia Turns Nine

Lydia is my bright, bold, beautiful little girl. She is silly and active and social. Every time we’ve moved these past few years she finds a friend as quickly as possible! Then she begs to go play with that friend as soon as homework is finished. She likes having other people around and playing games together or doing some activity.

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Lydia being silly with frosting on her nose!

Lydia is finishing up the 3rd grade with Mrs. Provstgaard. She has worked so hard this year. We’ve studied for history and science tests together and worked hard on math homework. She loves reading A-Z Mystery books, but she’d rather be playing games with a friend.

She has been taking ballet classes from En Pointe School of Ballet and this year gets to be horse and pull the carriage in the ballet Cinderella. She has been so excited about her roll since the beginning of the year. Soon she’ll start track and she’s super excited about getting to run!!!

Lydia loves animals and takes our neighbor’s dog on a walk when she can or brings the dog to our yard while she plays outside with his son. She loves Splashlings, Shopkins, Littlest Pet Shop, and American Girl doll stuff. She had a great birthday party at All Stars with laser tag, bumper cars, and arcade games! She has some good friends Olivia D, Olivia F (who she doesn’t get to see often enough), and Evangeline.

I’m excited to watch this little girl grow up over the next few years.  To see the vivacious young woman that she will become. I pray that the Lord helps me to raise her to be a woman who loves Jesus and lives to serve him.

Envy of Eve – Quotes

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World by Melissa Kruger should be required reading for all young college/career women! While coveting and lack of contentment are not sins only women struggle with I do think women struggle with the comparison game more than men. I’m pretty sure that’s why there are “Mommy Wars” and not “Daddy Wars.”

 

I know I have struggled with lack of contentment in my life phases: when I was single I wanted a boyfriend, once I had a boyfriend I wanted to be engaged, once married I wanted children, etc. The cycle continued. I recognized my lack of contentment but struggled with what the secret to contentment was that Paul talks about in Philippians.

 

Years ago as I awaited the adoption of my 3rd child my covetous heart was out of control. Thankfully God eventually got a hold of my heart, but when I think back on those dark years I think about the wasted time and energy. I’m not sure if I could have been saved from the pain of my coveting had I read a book like this, but if young women could read this book in preparation for a life that, without a doubt, will bring trials in one form or another maybe it could prepare their heart and they could walk with God in a much better manner than I did.

 

There is so much Biblical wisdom in this book! It ministered to my heart in so many ways. It stretched me, convicted me, and encouraged me. I highly recommend it!

 

Let me share some quotes:

“Coveting is the antithesis of Christ’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ because our neighbor becomes our enemy simply by possessing what we desire. We cannot love well those whose lives or belongings we covet.” pg 29

 

“Our lack of contentment primarily flows from unbelief regarding God’s sovereignty and goodness in our lives.” pg 48

 

“A heart softened by the Spirit can respond to the Word preached. However, a heart hardened by sin’s deceitfulness will only grow harder still upon hearing the tidings of God. Only God’s Spirit can awaken a heart to believe the message of sin and redemption.” pg 49

 

“The serpent tempts Eve to doubt God’s Word and His goodness to her. He stirs up discontentment in her heart, as well as a longing to rule, rather than be ruled. Do not miss the fact that Eve, even in the middle of all the goodness of Eden, finds herself longing for the one thing forbidden. In the midst of perfect circumstances, unbelief can still arise.” pg 73

 

“Satan wants us to believe that we cannot control what we long after or that if we have a longing, it must be good, in spite of God’s instruction. It is one of his most damaging lies, keeping us enslaved to years of worthless pursuits. Although we cannot always choose what we see, we can choose what we set our heart upon.” pg 75

 

“Our incessant cravings suggest to others that we worship a God who is not able to satisfy.” pg 88

 

“If we desire to fight Satan’s attacks, we must immerse ourselves into God’s Word and seek to understand the full counsel of the Bible.” pg 100

 

“Our joy, peace, and hope do not flow from perfect circumstances or gaining all that this world has to offer. Instead, these items are fruits of spiritual growth. They are often born in the furnace of trials and afflictions, but they lead to a hope that is imperishable.” pg 104

 

“Our outward grumbling is a sure sign of inner coveting.” pg 134

 

“We need to bring our good and right desire for relationship together with an understanding that no earthly relationship can mend the brokenness in our lives. Pg 147

 

“A content woman can share with friends and the Lord her honest struggle. However, she does so in a way that demonstrates her belief and trust in the Lord. In contrast, the covetous woman believes her outward circumstances are proof of the Lord’s failure to be good to her. She complains and grumbles, seeking others to join her in her lament. She cultivates discontent and soon, she becomes a woman who takes from those around her.” pg 209

 

“Such a person hides her own sin as she thinks to herself, ‘My situation is so uniquely difficult that I am allowed to be miserable. Anyone facing what I am facing would be just as discontent as I am.’ Paul speaks to the fallacy of this type of thinking when he writes, ‘No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful’ he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’ (1 Cor. 10:13)” pg 211

 

“As we spend time with the Lord each day, slowly our desires will transform and grow into new hopes. Even as we long for circumstances to change, our greater longing will be for contentment in any and every circumstance.” pg 215

 

“As we sacrifice our own lives to give to others, we should expect to feel worn out, tired and spent. The call of the gospel is not one of self-protection, but of self-denial.” pg 243
There were so many more quotes I could have added or ended up deleting from my list to make this shorter. I’m telling you, this is an amazing book… Go read it!

A Failed Adoption – Two Years Later

We are coming up on the 2nd anniversary of our failed adoption and I still think about it.

Almost two and half years ago we were matched with a birth mom in Florida. We spent 5 months thinking about this baby, anticipating, praising God that he had heard our cries and that He was, after such a long wait, growing our family. While I do believe that God protected my heart during this time, I still got attached to the little boy. In my head I call him Matthew James. Aaron and I had definitely agreed on Matthew and I figure I would have won him over to James as a middle name. 🙂 So, Matthew James is the name of the little boy that I was expecting to raise.

However, his mom decided to keep him. And that’s ok! We knew that was a possibility. And she had every right to do so! I do not begrudge her in any way. But, I do think about Matthew James, sometimes – at random times. I think about how he’d be almost two. I wonder what his exact birthday is. I wonder what he looks like. I wonder if he’s happy. I wonder what milestones he’s hit. I wonder if he’ll grow up to know Jesus. I wonder what his favorite toys are. I wonder how big he is. I just wonder about him and who he is.

God has healed my heart from the pain of the loss of this expected child. He gave us a daughter instead, only four, short months later. God has blessed us immensely. I can imagine that these years – wondering about Matthew James – would have been harder if we didn’t have our joyful Hannah Pi. But God also reminds me to pray for little Matthew James. Wherever he is, whatever his real name is, he is still on my heart. I hope he is safe and knows that he is loved by the creator of the world. He’ll never know about me, but I’m here, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget about him.