Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wrestling.

The New Year is always such a great time of reflection. I think if we are honest with ourselves, most of us do some serious reflecting and decision making around this time of year. I also know that within months or maybe even weeks, the 'new me' begins to fizzle out and I forget about all the changes or new things I had on that list, including the exercise part (FOR THE LOVE!). I know this is because I'm the queen of good intentions, people. The. Queen.

I haven't forgotten 'my list' yet and frankly, I don't think I can. Why? I'm wrestling, y'all. And not Sumo style. Oh, the wrestling I am doing. The Holy Spirit just keeps tapping me on my shoulder. Tappity tappin'.  A few times I've just wanted to shout back, "I KNOW ALREADY!". Because, you know, conviction and all.

I'm not sure the good folks at Kroger are quite ready for my brand of crazy at this time. Or ever.

The Lord has been dealing with me on many things in my life, but one little sticky area that just KEEPS coming up is HOSPITALITY.

Now, for those of you that know me (like truly KNOW me), know that I'm one of the most social people you have ever met.  I could talk the hind legs off a donkey, so to speak. (Don't you just love Southern idioms? For real, though!). I truly don't know a stranger and one would think that could easily translate into natural hospitality, right?

Not so much.

The jig is up, y'all. Here it is for all of the Internets to see...my confession of why hospitality is so hard for me. Ready for this?

My house is dirty. Because people live here, don't y'all know this?  My pride is bigger than my desire to be obedient to Jesus and so I choose to marinade in my stubborn will and not invite people over because, for the love, can these children NOT pick up a dang dirty sock already!  And that is the truth.

I don't want anyone to see that I have dirty dishes ALL THE FLIPPIN' TIME! Or that my floors haven't been mopped in weeks. Or that I have paper piles on my counter, my table is sticky, my windows have fingerprints, or there's dog hair on the couch and what will people think of me for letting the dog on the couch? But I keep a sheet on it so that's okay, right? Oh and there's marker on the walls from 3 year years ago, drawers are broken in my kitchen, the ice maker on the fridge doesn't work, our bathroom sink fixtures are outdated and gross, my ceiling fans have an inch of dust on them.... and the list goes on and on. And yes, this is how my brain works. Scary, right?

 My desk. Mercy.

An endless myriad of excuses that I try and justify over being obedient to what Jesus truly wants for my life.

We've lived in this 35 year old house for 19 years. We have raised 6 children here, with 4 of them still here and 3 of those 4 not leaving any time soon. We have stuff. Or crap. Whatever.

The point is this...if I am constantly waiting for the right time or the perfect house in which to invite people over to then I'm missing SO many opportunities for true gospel community. I'm missing shared laughter, shared tears, shared stories.

Shared LIFE.

And I'm tired. Tired of wrestling against this. Tired of telling the Holy Spirit to get lost when I'm reminded time and time again that this life is not about me. It's just not. It's about sharing life with others and loving others and showing people how Jesus is SO good and He is worth sharing. Worth talking about. Worth choking out this cancerous pride with humbleness and laughter and food and community.

Jesus is working this (amongst other things) out in me and has been for months now. It is at the forefront of my brain every day. What does this hospitality look like for me? Us? Our family? I truly don't know. I have no idea if people will be in my home all the time or if just the simple act of saying, "yes, Lord. I'm willing.", is all that's being asked of me. I highly doubt it's the latter and I'm okay with that. What I do know is that having the right heart about this has been hard. No wait ....HARD. I won't deny it. But I do know this... obedience, while sometimes painful, WILL bring joy!

And I look forward to finding joy and peace with this hospitality gig. I mean for real...the house can't be a mess forever.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 1:6




Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year Thoughts

New year. New thoughts. After over a year, right?

It was time, y'all.

It was time to write some thoughts, bare my soul and feel all the feels. I needed to write. Because in all honesty, sometimes I feel like if I don't write then there is a part of me that curls up into some sort of creative coma. Never quite dying, but not living either. And then I become afraid to write because I have an irrational fear of all the imaginary Judgy McJudgersons out there analyzing my every dot and tittle.

Whew. It's hard to be me some days.

Also, I have many people in my life who are complete and total wordsmiths. The words they write seem to come so effortlessly, like milk and honey flowing from their seriously passionate souls. With inspiration and deep thoughts...DEEP thoughts, y'all. And I tend to write about one (all) of my girl's ability to make armpit farts with a straw. I respect those who can write so well. It's a gift. Truly. And maybe...just maybe I'm a skosh jealous. Mostly because I just long to write, but honestly don't feel like I always have the time. Or the talent...which is a whole 'nother therapy session right there.

So now that I've hopped down that bunny trail, lets talk about the new year.

Okay wait..I need to rehash 2014 for just a second.

So much has happened over the past several years. Monk being unemployed for 16 months and although he now has a job (and we are SO grateful for something), it really doesn't pay our monthly bills. There's always still the struggle, the juggle, the constant doubt in the back of our minds if we will make it this month. That's a hard place to live for a long time.

But you know what? Jesus has been SO faithful! So unbelievably good to me. In the midst of all of this, He gave me joy. JOY! I didn't recognize it at first, but as 2014 clamored on, I realized that in spite of all the things that have happened, all the stress, all the struggle, I still have JOY. And every time we would be faced with yet another stressful financial situation, I could rely on that joy to be there for me at some point. It came down to one thing for me. Trust. Could I trust Him to be faithful and see us through yet ONE more situation.

And He DID, y'all. Every time. I can't tell you how many times our house has been in jeopardy. Even up for auction not once, but TWICE! People driving by our house, taking pictures of it, like vultures circling a dying animal, waiting to get the chance to bid on the place we call home. It was hard. (And we won't talk about the time I went out and stood on the front porch and STARED down some woman sloooowly driving by and she abruptly drove away...ahem). But once again, He was faithful.

And NOW we can move onto the New Year.

Can I just be honest? Can I say what I want to say about this beautiful new beginning without it sounding trite?

Remember when we were kids and during some sort of game, something would go awry and we would call out, "do over!'?  It was no big deal, we just forgot about whatever it was that interrupted our game and simply started over. That's how the New Year works for me.

Every day, we get new mercies. Lamentations says that GREAT is His faithfulness. So if every single day we get new mercies from the Lord, I tend to look at the New Year as one, big clean slate of God's great faithfulness. I realize that's never implied or suggested in the verse, but in all honesty, the New Year always feels like one great big DO OVER!

And for our family, our do over? I just want more Jesus for us. Is that too easy? Is it too trite? Is it an easy out to a deeper question?

We would give more, serve more, help more....love more. How would that look? I mean think about it...how would that look? Even if 5 or 10 people you know really lived that way. I am privileged to know people who DO live that way and they have been such a testimony to me. I'm not talking about Jesus 'talk'. I'm talking about getting our hands dirty sort of love. Loving the unlovable, getting our heads out of the sand concerning the things going on in our own communities. Stop wrapping Jesus in some name brand package that's only unwrapped on Sunday and truly being the every single day Jesus of the bible that helped the poor, the sick, the hurting... I want my children to know that Jesus. The one that showed me JOY last year. The one that showed me that in every single circumstance, He is faithful.

2015 is a do over. A clean slate.

And today is page 1 of the new story we begin to write.