Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanks be to God....

Happy Thanksgiving!  I know it was a couple days ago and the majority of the world has moved on to thinking about Christmas.  Don't get me wrong....I love Christmas.  However, giving thanks should be a part of every day, shouldn't it?  I haven't been on facebook much in the last couple days but I recall seeing my friend Cindy's status on Thanksgiving day.  It said "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" Hmm.  I've just been pondering that these last couple days.  I confess I don't thank Him enough and He sure has abundantly blessed me.  I want to remember to thank Him every day....especially for "His indescribable gift" 2 Cor. 9:15  Even when life seems tough and money is tight....there is always much to be thankful for.  

What a week this was!  I had 3 cleaning jobs this week (thankful for that!), and on Tuesday night we had three of Ryan's friends from high school, along with their wives and kids over for a quick but fun supper!  That was eight adults (including me and Ry) and eight kids!!!!  My table looked plain, and the garlic bread was a bit more crispy than I would've liked, but none of that mattered because it was special just being with people we care about and enjoying the time with them.  I don't know Ryan's friends super well but I know they are great guys and it is such a treat to get to know their wives better.  After supper, the four wives and all eight kiddos went to watch the husbands play soccer.  They didn't win :( but...Lee scored the goal of the night.  Way to go, Lee!  He probably won't even read this. I'm really lamenting the fact that I didn't have a chance to take a single picture of this crazy gathering and I totally forgot to have everyone sign my guestbook.  Oh well.  Next time!  :) 

On Wednesday night we had our annual Wafflegiving at the chapel.  It's pretty self explanatory. We eat waffles with all kinds of yummy toppings and everyone shares what they're thankful for! :)  It was memorable and unique and there was lots to be thankful for.  When we got home my parents were waiting at our house and the kitchen fairy (my mom) had washed all the dirty dishes I had left behind in a hurry to get out to the chapel.   She decided "the cleaning lady needed a cleaning lady." ;) So thankful for her!

Our thanksgiving was a small but sweet gathering that included me, Ryan, and both sets of parents.  We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year and I loved every minute!  It was a pretty stress free day as I prepared as much as I could the night before and my MIL contributed ham and apple pie to the meal.  I asked Dad to make his famous secret stuffing. Even though it's never the's always delicious.  My dad pastored a church for 25 years and every year he and my mom would make a thanksgiving meal for the whole congregation.  People would always ask him for his stuffing recipe but he would never give it up.  He's one of those creative cooks who can just throw things together and *poof!* it's amazing.  I didn't think so when I was a kid because I could only appreciate things like mac and cheese.  ;)  When i shuffled downstairs in my PJs on Thanksgiving morning, he was already in the kitchen working his magic. :) So thankful for him.  My kitchen fairy followed behind me all day, cleaning dishes and helping with the feast preparations as much as possible.  Did I already say I was thankful for her?  Well...I am.  

it was so fun dressing up the table! :)

look at that handsome red bearded man!  love him! definitely thankful for him!

enjoying a little taste pre-dinner!  :)

praline pumpkin torte.  so delicious. 

thankful for parents

 We had a lovely time of eating and giving thanks.  I may or may not have teared up a little. :)  We laughed and talked and we started the tradition of each person reading a verse out of the verse box and guessing the reference. It was a great evening.

Mom and I ventured out shopping later in the day on Friday.  Thankfully we didn't have to fight off any psychos with pepper spray or worry about getting trampled.  We slept in and went out when we thought it was safe. :)  I have actually never done the whole black Friday shopping thing.  I cannot stand massive crowds of people.  We only went a few places, but mom found lots of treasures at a consignment shop for the ebay business my parents have.

While we were gone Ry and Dad put Christmas lights on the house and Ry was working on Gilbert's dog house when we got home.

you can't see him but Ryan was actually in the dog house too. :)

I think Dad likes Gilbert a little more each time he comes. :)

One thing is for sure....Gil definitely likes my dad! :)

I'll leave you with one final picture from tonight. Ryan and I were sitting at the dining room table working on Sunday school stuff for tomorrow and Gil was helping Ry.

Time for bed!  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Last Saturday was our annual ladies conference at the chapel and the topic was hospitality.  SO MUCH good stuff packed into three sessions.  I was challenged, inspired, and humbled.  I saw hospitality in a little different light and was reminded that it is so much more than just having people over for a meal.

Here are some of the key verses we talked about:
Romans 12:9-13 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
 Wow.  Hospitality requires a whole lot of love.  Devoted, sincere, unselfish love. It also requires pursuit.  We should look for opportunities to show hospitality and as Nancy said "pursue it like you want to wrestle it to the ground!"
Hebrews 13:1,2 Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 
Hospitality should be continuous.  It should not be neglected.

1 Peter 4:8,9 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

Hospitality requires fervent love without complaint.  It requires laying aside self.  It's not about me.

We also studied 2 Corinthians 9 and talked about the blessings that come out of hospitality and how God gives us what we need in order to be hospitable for Him.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.”  Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.

One of the cool things about hospitality is that it can happen anywhere at anytime. Think about that. So if you're worried that your house is too small or too messy....take a meal to someone, go visit someone in the hospital, or make an effort to talk to someone you don't normally talk to. It's not about you. It's about others.  Be creative. There are so many ways to show hospitality.  It's about receiving and treating others in a warm, friendly, generous way and sharing Christ with them. 

Nancy gave me a great book as a gift when Ry and I got married.  It's called The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin. Most of its focus is on entertaining people in your home, but it's packed full of practical tips and delicious recipes.  I highly recommend it! If you don't get the book then definitely check out her blog 

If you're shy and reserved like me unless you're around certain people, then you might be a little  nervous about having people over, but this book is wonderful and encouraging and makes even a shy person feel like they can host a dinner party! :)  

Speaking of reserved people.... In the book Sandy talks about how she and her husband usually have a question or two in mind to ask their guests and then they go around the table and each person gets a chance to share their answer.  It results in deeper connections, learning things about others you may not know, and drawing people out and making them feel valued.  

Here's a little tidbit from her book about that:

A few summers back i held a dinner party in my backyard for some women friends. I asked a simple question that would break the ice and help us learn more about each other: "What is new in your life, something that none of us at this table might be aware of?" As we went around the table that glorious summer night, some went deeper than others, but it was beautiful to witness the passions and gifts that were flowing from each individual. We all benefited from seeing each others recent accomplishments or current tasks at hand.....After the dinner, a more reserved friend commented on how special the "question" part of the evening was for her.  She admitted that as the quietest person in the group, she often feels insignificant and out of the conversation when a dominating person takes center stage. 
 I can so relate to that woman as I can be pretty reserved in groups of people and  sometimes have a hard time inserting myself into conversations.  I'm also soft spoken and often don't speak up because I'm afraid nobody will hear me. Just typing that makes me laugh because it's stupid, I know.  I've gotten a lot better about that. :)  Sometimes it depends on the people I'm with and sometimes I really shock myself  and pretend to be outgoing. ;) So, I'm definitely going to be using the question idea when I  have people over.  I think it's a great way to get conversations going and give everyone an opportunity to share life with each other.  

Another little nugget that really challenged me was about investing in friendships with older people...

Older people have nothing to prove, so they are sometimes more authentic and enjoyable. They've lived most of their lives, climbed the ladders of their careers. They've raised their children, and most are now grandparents.  They just don't talk about themselves as much, the way younger people tend to do. They are not interested in comparing their lives.  Instead they share their lives, and none claim to be experts about everything.  They tend to be much better listeners, and all of this helps them forge deeper and more genuine relationships.

That is so true. Too often we overlook older people.  There is so much we can learn from them if we just take the time to reach out to them.  We forget that they were young once too.

There is so much more I could say. Just wanted to share what's on my heart lately. Hopefully my disconnected thoughts will be encouraging to someone else too.  I'm so very thankful for all hospitable people in my life who are such great examples and have taught me so much just by watching them. My mom and mother in-law, Melissa (my sis in-law), Kristi Graves, Gloria Smith...and the list could go on.  Maybe in another blog I will share some specific things I've learned from them. Most of all I am thankful for the ultimate example of hospitality demonstrated by God giving His Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I can spend eternity with Him. THAT is hospitality.