Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 days :: Moving on!

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 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 (NIV)

Wow!!  Here we are at the end.  The time has come to face the end; the 31st day of our 31 days of Hearts at Home :: Extending Hospitality.

I so enjoyed the Nester's Challenge.  Thank you for hanging in here and reading along this whole time.  I really appreciate it.  I'll be honest... I had no idea if I'd be able to pull it off.  Wasn't so sure I would have that much to say all on the basic same topic.  Apparently so, because I'm a little sad my "prompt" is over.  

I also know, from time to time, it was sporadic and I told you that would happen.  I just wanted to be faithful to whatever it was the Lord laid on my heart for the day... so some of it (I admit!) was things you had read before here at Treasured Up and Pondered and, at the same time, I hope you were blessed the second time through.

Again, thank you for grace.

I wasn't really sure how this last post would come to a close and I wasn't so sure I was going to end with talking about our opportunity at hand... but.

I've been busy putting hospitality to practice since Sunday in a very real way.  This family of five that has been "living" with us have been a wonderful addition to our home and yet, if I'm honest, it's been stretching.  Many evenings, after the kids were asleep, the four of us adults would sit and fellowship.  Really some true - getting-to-know-one-another was happening... and all in a good way.  Lots of encouragement and comradity (?) going on.

 Lots of coffee...

Lots of laundry...

Did I mention, they have a little dog?  Oh yes - another HUGE stretch for me, but it's been much, much better than I've ever expected.

Our kids taking to each other so well ... with so reality mixed in of not-so-well.  Again... we've been practicing.  Both in the giving and in the receiving.

For one.  My kitchen being taken over every afternoon by their twelve-year old daughter - who LOVES to bake and so, why not?  Here is her chance to shine and it gives her something to do - making her feel important.  Today it was Banana Crumb Muffins. 


Yesterday, it was brownies.  The day before that, the yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies...

I say all of this to say...

It's all about having a servant heart.  You can...  We can all say we have one, until it's proven.  And that's where I want to leave this series.

You'll never know how much of a Heart at Home you have until you begin the task of Extending Hospitality.  It will NEVER be perfect.  That is why the call is there - to just practice.  Practice by letting go of yourself and putting others before yourself.

I want to end by asking you for some feedback.  How did you honestly enjoy this series?  What was your favorite post or which one struck the most cord with you?  Which one wasn't so hot?

Any stories you would like to share?  Any thoughts or questions?

There is also this link that I want to leave you with that hopefully you'll find time to read.  It blessed me - so long ago - that I printed it off the website and kept it in my Bible for a constant reminder and reference.
I just wanted to share it with you as well.  It's written by MaryBeth Whalen, entitled... HOME : More Than Just a Word.  Hopefully you'll find a time to read this when you get a chance.

Well.  That's it!!  The end of this 31 day series.  My first ever.  Again, thank you for listening.  Thank you for reading.  As you leave - would you mind just continuing to lift this family of five to the Lord.  They are so wanting to be in the Lord's Will and in their :: MOVING ON! :: be at peace, fully, with what He has for them.  Their faith continues to amaze me.  And I'm so glad we got to do this with them and for them.  And we will continue to be here for what they need in the interim.
***
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31daysofHeartsatHome

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 days :: The best thing ever seen or heard...

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 Picture this.  
It's late evening around the dinner hour.  This time of year it's already dark outdoors, by the time the dinner hour rolls around - or at least getting there.

You're driving along with your own family in tow...and you pass by house after house, some with every light on and others not so much.

This has happened for me (recently) on more than one occasion, where I would see the drapes in windows wide open and a family, sitting, gathered around their dinner table eating together.

As. a. Family.

There is nothing more heart-warming than to see that picture flash before you, caught in your peripheral as you drive by.
At least, for me anyway.

This family is...
at. home.

***
In light of Sandy, the recent storm that our HUGE surrounding area has just gone through.  I know this morning, many, many folks are still "coming out" from under it's aftermath.  

Home.

It's a place where many may take for granted and when it's gone or "different" or "rearranged" - our heart-value placed on our homes changes drastically.
We're usually a lot more grateful and appreciative of our homes when close calls come knocking.

I know, last night, I got to thinking of how grateful I was that we were able to house guests (a family of five!) in our home since Sunday.  They're still here... looking for a place to call (their own) HOME.
We were safe.  We had electric the whole time.  We were/are comfortable.
Caleb said this the other day to me.
"Mom, I love our home".

You know what?  So do I.

I think that was one of the best things I've ever heard...

Reading in Hebrews chapter 3 this morning... these verses caught my attention.
"...just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.  For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything."

Which in turn led me back to a couple of my favorite verses in Proverbs.
Proverbs 14:1 ~  A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 24:2 ~ By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

How much more, than in walking through raging storms and battling any sort of crisis in the physical sense is this needed necessity to keep family a strong and sure thing.
Building our homes on the solid rock - Christ Jesus.  He, our sure foundation.

Praying together and reading together and playing together - dining together, surely...
keeps (or helps to keep) a family together.
And when seen - it is heart-warming.
Longed for.
And...inviting.

What a Treasure!

***
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 31daysofHeartsatHome


Monday, October 29, 2012

31 days :: Hospitality in Halloween. Really?

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It's a coming...that long, long walk. ;)

You might remember I recently posted a post, in this series, entitled: Field of Dreams.  I want to pick that "thought" back up today and tell you about a time when Scott and I and our two children, at the time, did actually walk "across the way" to our neighbors and well, don't let me get a head of myself.

First.  I want to clear the air about something.  You've seen the word Halloween in my post title and you've raised your eyebrows at me.  Listen...
 I am not condoning Halloween.  I don't like it.  I never have and I never will.  As my children get older - it's getting even harder to make it clear that we don't do Halloween - at least the way their friends might think.

So.  Now, on to my post.
 Halloween and Hospitality have a lot in common, okay?  Say - Yes!!!
And you ask - are you for real?
Yes.  Yes, I am.

A couple of years ago - I heard a radio conversation going on that gave me pause.
The morning show dude was saying something along these lines, regarding Halloween...

"Our neighbors may or may not be neighborly or (very) friendly.  At times, we wonder how to "break the ice" and really connect with them.  Well, Halloween is a time where people expect people to come to their doors.  THEY ACTUALLY LEAVE THE LIGHT ON, for you to "feel welcome".  They "plan" to treat you... if you show up."

Further more...

"What if we (as Christians) did the opposite, in a sense, and used these "open doors" as a way to meet our neighbors?  Use this as a tool to introduce yourself; be friendly/neighborly; treat them with fresh, home-baked cookies (or whatever), invite them to church, or find out if there is a way to do something practical for them.  Set up a time to come back and follow up...
Your kids are a great way to help "break the ice".  Get your church group involved.  Think hospitality... on the go!  Go out there... say hello... and bless them instead."

Well.  That resonated with me.  So Scott and I decided we were going to give this a try.  (Let me tell you, it's very nerve-racking!)  But we did it and I have a really cool follow-up story (the results) that you can read about, HERE

We're looking forward to doing it again this year, as well.  Will you join us?

:: These are Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Chips.  One problem...resulting out of our story... we found out later that the neighbors son is "highly" - not sure about deathly? - allergic to Peanut Butter.  That was not comforting to hear... but how we were to know?  I mean obviously nothing happened - she realized it before he got to them.

Oh, I felt so terrible.  So - no P.B. At least coming from us.

***
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 31daysofHeartsatHome

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 days :: Quotes I love! {a prayer request}

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This is a continued prayer, for our home....


May its doors be open to those in need, and its rooms

be filled with kindness.

May joy shine from its windows,

And His presence never leave it.

~Jewish Home Blessing.


And this... we continue to practice...

Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest 

is surely home, and home, sweet home 

for there the heart can rest.

~Henry Van Dyke

~~~~~~~~

You know what?  I wasn't sure I wanted to say anything.  But now I guess I will.

I have a prayer request.

This weekend we have a family of five in the process of relocating from TN to PA.  They're traveling as we speak. This is mainly due to a job change...which starts on Tuesday.
They are "old" friends of mine.  I mean I haven't seen them in years. I've never met their children and so when I found out (through FB) they were relocating/moving to our area...  I just wanted to be helpful.
They are possibly going to be staying with us for a few days - although she has a brother in NJ - so, due to the impending "Frankenstein" weather conditions and for some other reasons besides looking for needing housing... yes! they are still looking for a house... we offered for them to use our home as a "safe haven"... for the as long as they need.

Please pray for my friends Harvey and Jody and their three young children...

** For their safety while continuing to travel.
** For affordable housing to open up - quickly - in what they are looking for.
** For his New Job to get off to a great start.
**  That they would be able to adjust well to life in PA.  and settle in - easily!
** That they would feel "at home" in our home over the next couple of day. :)
** That we can be a blessing to them.  Big or small... whatever they need.
** That they would find a great church family...
and on and on.

We're excited... but very, very "nervous" (you know?) with them, for all of these details to unfold.  I appreciate their faith.  They seem to be so laid back and trusting to what and how the Lord has things in store for them.
You know?  When they do find a place to call their own... I'm praying for an even greater blessing, in an even more practical sense of the word - where my own friends and family will share in this to make them feel Christ's love, all the more.
Maybe they could use help with unloading/unpacking, cleaning, meals, a temporary use of a second vehicle... - etc.
Simply this.
That...His presence... never them.
***
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31daysofHeartsatHome

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 days :: A Family Gather Ring

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This is a bit of a different sort of post - having to do with this series...but I'm going to incorporate it in anyway.

My Mother's side of the family is having their Family Gathering today. She has three older sisters and each year they take turns as to who is in charge.  This year falls on my Mom - and her children - to plan it, organize it and basically "run the show".  She pretty much divided out the details and I took on the appetizers and table decorations.  We're figuring on nearly 100 people (including children), but we also know not everyone will be able to come...due to necessary travel, new babies or a work schedule that would keep them from attending.

I got to thinking about what I was going to do; something that would be easy, whimsy and not too expensive for these table decorations and I came across a few ideas that I immediately knew I wanted to incorporate.  One being this...
Canning Ring Pumpkin.


I first saw the idea from Julia, at Blissfully Content... and quickly made me own.
If you Google this, they are dime a dozen.  So easy to do and everyone's creativity begins to shine, particularly in the area of the stem.  I just used a clothespin for mine.  I added a little bit of green scrap fabric and twisted a potato bag wire around it to resemble curly vines...

 ~~~

In reading Andrea's blog - Keeping it Cozy - this post that she did on a Rustic Autumn Table caught my eye and gave me another idea for what to do for our family gathering's table centerpieces.  


I asked Andrea's permission to use one of her photos because I knew that our family gathering wouldn't happen until way after this post was prepared.

 But I'm planning to line the table with canning jars and throw in a few ears of corn like this and a few other smaller jars with corn kernels, just in the bottom of the jar, and set in autumn scented tea lights.
Interspersed with the canning ring pumpkins.

Obviously, I don't have photos of this - yet! - because we're actually enjoying the family gathering, right now, as you're reading.  It's an all day event...

But.
I feel like there is something to be shared at some point during the day - sort of like an object lesson. A take-away of sorts.
  And this is what, I believe, will tie this post into 
my Hearts at Home :: Extending Hospitality series.


A Family Gather Ring

(Holding up one of the pumpkins  - I explain I have two different sizes. I explain that the table decorations were my idea - hopefully not too corny ;) and that the pumpkin idea came first and what I'm about to share came later.) 

You know, as a family we are here today and if you will - let's allow ourselves to represent one of the rings in this here pumpkin. All of us together making up one.  Some of us are rusty.  Some of us are shiny and new.  Some are large and some are small.  You know what I mean...

We all play a part in this making of a FAMILY GATHER RING pumpkin.

As you can see, these rings are bound together by a piece of jute string.  Tied - together.  They don't stay together without it.  Nothing really separates "us" (illustrating the pumpkin) because we are all made from the same thing.  Though there are differences - as I've already alluded to - we're in this together.  We're the same.

The jute string is interesting in and of itself and it represents something too.
 It's a cord of three strands...  it's not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 3:12)  It's kind of like a you and a me and Jesus!

We have one central theme running through us... and that is the presence of Jesus!

I know we, as family, have our moments.  Our differences.  We don't always agree on or about everything, the same, every time.  But if we're humble enough to realize this... this is the most important... we all are the same.  We are from the same family lines... that run deep and that can't be ignored.  We need one another.  Whether we like it or not.  We can learn so much from each other. Lean on one another.  Pray for one another.  Serve one another.

These things have happened and will continue to happen.  I am sure.

I don't know about you... but I'm grateful today for the many blessings that have come through being a part of this particular family.  I'm grateful to be tied together - with you!!  And You.  And YOU!!!

We have a good and godly heritage.

Amen?

***

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31daysofHeartsatHome

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 days :: Be Willing to do Something

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"If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done." 

~ Thomas Jefferson

It just might mean going up to the proverbial door and knocking on it...

This Thomas Jefferson quote brought to my mind, an old country? song... one I've been humming around here this morning. 

 IT AIN'T LOVE `TIL YOU GIVE IT AWAY
CHORUS:
It ain't love until you give it away
Love don't live in a selfish place.
You got to share it with another every day,
You can't have it 'til you give it away.


1. I looked for life, I found love,
I held on tight, I did not trust,
Until one day love came to stay
You can't have it 'til you give it away.



 2. The more you give, the more returns
Spread the flame and let love burn.
Put a little love in everything that you do,
Then you'll see the love of God coming to you.


I don't think it needs much interpretation -- but I'll say it anyway -- and I've said this before.  In hospitality one must be willing and want to extend themselves...in order to reap a blessed reward.  You never know what is on the other side of that door...

Sure!  Fear gets in the way - far too often.  It's nerve-racking.  We allow our pride to stand in the way.  We're selfish...

My husband and I often talk about a time (and we're no expert, we're still learning and growing and it's still hard!), but we talk about the time we out of the clear blue invited then strangers, now friends, (strange friends?) to our home for the first time.  They were faces we knew from our church.  It was "years" that they had come and we "never really" talked to them before.  This one time - I took the effort and extended the invitation and now these folks are some of our dearest of friends.

Why?  Why did we wait so long?

I hope you hear my heart - and feel my encouragement this morning. 
We've got to be willing to do something.
Just because there is a door staring you in the face - it doesn't mean you can't roll up your sleeve, take a deep breath, muster up some courage and take a little effort, reach up and out... and knock.

***
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 days :: WEL-COME {on in}!

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How do you feel if you've anticipated going somewhere special... you were so looking forward to this...and when you've pulled up, you suddenly realize they are CLOSED.
This happened for a girl friend and I.  We talked for months of going to this little restaurant - we even had a  gift card and everything.  We finally got a date worked out.  And we were able to get a way.  My hubby was going to watch our children so I could "go out" for the evening with my friend.  We pulled up...and they were CLOSED, for only a couple of days, for whatever reason ... but what a disappointment!
So.
We eventually made plans a second time to get this to work out and lo and behold - don't you know they were SHUT-DOWN for reals.

::DEVASTATED::

Uhmm. Very disappointing.

I like Open.
I like to know I'm Welcome.
I like being waited on - once in a while.  You know?  Just sayin'.
~~~~
If you've been reading Treasured Up and Pondered for awhile - you'd remember that we took a vacation to VA and TN earlier in the Spring.  For the sake of decent-sized blog posts...I broke our vacation up into three parts (posts).  All three of those posts - scream HOSPITALITY.  You can read all about it: 1.) Here, 2.) Here and 3.) Here, when you find time. ;)  

(And, just for the record... if you do read and want to check out any links regarding my friend Amanda's blog -who I went to go visit in VA- well, since then she has currently chosen to stop blogging for the time being.  I miss her blogging voice so, so much... in due time, Lord Willing, she'll be back.)

In part 2, I talk about the fact that Hospitality isn't meant to just be given, but also to be received.

Our family had the privilege to practice hospitality but instead, this time, we were on the receiving end. Sometimes that is hard for me to do - receive.  Here is why I say that.  It must be a mom thing but even in a restaurant... I'll find myself "Cleaning Up" the table for the waitress so she doesn't have such a chaotic mess left for her to take care of when we're gone.  I'm sorry, but I can't help it.

The home where we stayed, overnight... the host and hostess, Rick and Sarah... were so warm and inviting.  I just loved their Southern Hospitality.  And, of course, their southern accent to go along with it.  We didn't have to lift a finger.  But if we did - we were made to feel right at home about it.  And oh, the open-door conversation that we had with these near perfect strangers... anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself and besides you'll have to go back and read Part 2 on your own.

When we arrived, And, as we walked in the front door, I couldn't help but notice a 
W
E
L
C
O
M
sign, hanging right there by the door.

Take a look around your own home.  Notice.  How many "Welcome" signs do you have hanging inside your home?  I have three just in my downstairs - Living Room and Kitchen alone.

If I thought hard enough - which didn't take me long - I began to imagine Sarah's sign on the side of the front door to read like this.

Well-Come {on in}!


Because essentially, that is exactly what she was saying.  And this is the overall feeling we got from our time with them.

I felt then like I needed to have a constant reminder of this exemplary show of hospitality.  It wasn't a show, though... it was for REAL.

I got to thinking if I were to come up with my own painted sign, which I want to do so bad and one of these days it is my intention to handpaint a sign which would look something like this...

(If only I'd be able to hand-paint it as good as a computer makes it look - I'd be happy. Yes! I made that "sign" online.)

Not just a sign to say this.  But my life to live it and to mean it.  I want to wear that welcome on my self with an open heart.  May my eyes and my smile be that window to a place where outsiders want to know what is going on in the inside.  May they see Jesus!!
***

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31daysofHeartsatHome

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 days :: Where even the Tea Kettle sings from Happiness

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Part of having a "heart at home"  is simply enjoying your kitchen.  Keeping it organized to suit your needs.  Keeping the cookbooks at hand to thumb through and begin creating. A desire to try out new recipes... feeling brave, I should say, perhaps to even try them out on your guests.  I confess.  I've been known to do this - and I think with usually good results.  Unless, that is they're just being gracious...

At times, there is this level of spontaneity that comes with hospitality and you've got to be prepared.  Not stressed out.

I know not everyone enjoys this, the same as me.  They'll let it up to their spouse to do most of the cooking or maybe the spouse cleans up afterward - but whatever you do to contribute to the enjoyment and making it come together is up to you.

To me, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  My home.
In one sense, literally.
If you walk in the front door - you're standing in the middle of my kitchen.  The dining room off to one side the living room on the other and - as well - the stairs leading upward.  There is a lot of traffic running through my "space".  The kitchen counters get used as a matchbox racetrack... around and round.  So does the kitchen table.  The kitchen's heart beats LOUDly.  Just sayin'...

Of all the things - I can only imagine - is the smells that the kids must wake up to on mornings I make a hot breakfast.  Of course, there is always the smell of coffee wafting through the air - and unless my hubby makes that in the morning (or preps it the night before) I don't get to smell that either. 

Nonetheless... it's home!

Home is Where the Heart Is

  ...Where even the tea kettle sings from happiness...
I wrote some similar thoughts not too long ago using this quote as my title:  A gift from the kitchen is a gift from the heart. ~ unknown.  I hope you'll take some time to read it - when you get a chance.

Do you believe that to be true?  A gift from the kitchen is a gift from the heart?  I do.

I tell you what though... there are some days when it's all I can do to make anything come together - decent - out of my kitchen.  I'm talking for my own family.  My poor husband and children...
It's balanced alright - but at times it is completely thrown together.  I insist that the children help to set the table and clear because they are part of the team but rarely ever does it see a tablecloth much less a centerpiece.

One of the challenges - though completely in jest - I face, is when my hubby says to me... "Who's coming to dinner?"  He asks that because on occasion  I will actually put some real honest effort in making our own little family's meal a VERY, VERY nice one.  Obviously, that shouldn't have to be.

Obviously, I do go "above and beyond" when company is coming if my family has to ask that question.  This is certainly an area that I'm working on.

I would like to consider your thoughts on this one.

Why do we think we feel we have to raise the bar in extending hospitality when guests are expected to grace our table? 

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Maybe this isn't a fair question for you.  But in more then just the area of food and what comes out of our kitchen - it might be a good idea to start extending hospitality to ourselves a whole lot more (and to our families) right here at home.  First.
***
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 days :: Just for fun... Let's run a poll today.

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Let's pretend that you are having friend-guests in your home for their first time.
They have heard of your cooking.  
They may have even tasted of it, at some point - say, at a church function or at a get-together, etc.
But they have never set a toenail in your home before.
You know each other but not that well...at least you don't think you do.
You're friends, but still...?
When they arrive... you notice that they are wrestling in under their arm a couple of containers.
This is intentional on their part.
They are expecting to ask you to take leftovers home with them.

The letter "W" for ... What?!?!?!

~~~~
What would you, as the hostess say, or allow to go through your mind?

A.) Think, "this is audacious!"

B.) Smile! but inside "roll your eyes"

C.) Smile! and take that as a compliment

D.) acknowledge that you're glad they thought of it and say, "Here...set them over here until after our meal."

E). Admit - you have done this yourself...

F.) Give them more then they expected and empty out the fridge with more of your weekly leftovers.
(speaking of... leftovers.  I have more to say about that sometime. Remind me!)

G) Apologize and say that there are no leftovers allowed... they have to Eat Up!!

F.) Pray that they even like your meal number one, and two that there might be something to put back into those containers.

G.) Again, you shake your head - and wonder at their comfortableness; attempting to fathom that they would bring their own containers...

H.) Consider the fact that they don't get out much, that you might need to have them over again

I.) Say, "What a great idea!" and try that the next time your invited out...

Oh, I could go on and on.

This may or may not have happened to me. 
 I just want to know what you would do, as a hostess, if this ever happened to you?

***
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Monday, October 22, 2012

31 days :: Front Porch Friendships

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I realize that to Extend Hospitality is by nature not an easy thing to do for everyone.  I've admitted it myself. That is why we're encouraged to practice it. We're called to nurture this calling.  And one of those ways - perhaps the most obvious way - is to grow deep(er) in the relationship one has with their Lord.

I was reading this morning in Mark 12, where one of the teachers of the law heard some of the others debating ... and threw Jesus his own question regarding the commandments.  He wanted to know which commandment was the most important.
 Jesus answered the man by replying, "First, know that the Lord our God is one, and to love Him; the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all mind and with all your strength.  Secondly.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these." (paraphrased, vs.29- 31.)

I don't know about you, but when I read the word - greater - I read the word "harder".
This is hard to do.

Let's switch gears here for just a minute. Can we?

So, I have to ask.  Are you a gardener?  By nature, is it easy for you?  Or, does it come hard for you?  You like all the prettiness of a well-tended garden and you dream - like me - to have it be so beautiful.
I read somewhere that the only garden that is truly well-watered comes only by way of sweat and tears.
They take time and energy... very hard work.
How true!  At least, for me.
I know it's now past the end of summer - fall is in it's lovely prime - and the gardening season is pretty much over.  The flower beds are getting cleaned out and prepared for the winter months to come.


Over the summer, I've had many an opportunity to host guests (both friends and neighbors) out on my front porch.  I love it!!!!!!!  It's the place I choose the most often to sit and visit.

Invest.
Show interest.
Serve.
Rest.
Shed sweat and tears.
Read.
Pray.

I purposely picked up couple of geranium plants - at the end of this summer - just to have something to nurture and tend to over winter so that I might, once again have something to make the front porch look as lovely and as homey as I can.



 

It takes time and energy.  Hard work.
So do relationships.
So does the practice of hospitality.

I encourage you to try.  At least, give it a try.
It gives a beautiful return.


***
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 days :: In addition...

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To my thoughts from yesterday, I just wanted to share a few quotes with you that I have found something to ponder.  Maybe you will, too.


We are here to add what we can to life,

not to get what we can from it.

Sir William Osler

~~~
Home to me is laughter...
Kisses on my cheek when they're least expected;
Glances filled with gladness;
The happiness in knowing
I'm a portion of
My family's fulfillment.
Home to me... is love!

June Brown Harris


~~~

The widest thing in the universe is not space;
it is the potential capacity of the human heart.
Being made in the image of God, it is capable
of almost unlimited extension in all directions.
And one of the world's greatest tragedies is that
we allow our hearts to shrink until there
is room in them for little
besides ourselves.

A.W. Tozer

~~~

Hebrew 13:2 ~ Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people 

have entertained angels without knowing it.

***

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 days :: Field of Dreams

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Happy Saturday, to you!!   And geez... it's almost over now, isn't it?

You might begin to think that we are always SO BUSY when it comes to the weekends and you know what?  You may be right.
I just came off of a very nice (and busy) Saturday, so far.  Actually, make that a very nice, safe weekend, so far.   If you took the time to have read my husband's Sabotage - from yesterday - then you would have read that we were having guests (almost like family) - overnight, Friday night - and so yeah!  2AM (actually more like closer to 3AM) was when I actually fell asleep and then off to a Ladies Breakfast, this morning - so I was up at 6:30AM.

Unfortunately, when I got home from the breakfast - I found out we have a sick little gal.  (So sorry to our guests - hopefully, you won't catch anything.)  As the afternoon went on she was only getting worse.
Pray for our Aubrey.  She never gets sick and so when she catches something - she really doesn't feel well.

Despite this, with Aubrey... my weekend has been going pretty well.

But I got to thinking...

I dream.
A big field of dreams.

You see,  I want my hospitality efforts to be noted as "unprecedented".   That... "She is - wholly at peace.  Without fail... able to go above and beyond in making my guests feel at home.  Any guest.  No matter who they are and why they need special attention... she's there!"

In reality.  I can't.

I can look across the field and see house after house after house of folks who in reality are my neighbors.  And, yet... are they really my neighbor?  Isn't that something that happens after and until I've (already) befriended them - or they me?

This whole series - so far - that I've been doing on Hearts at Home :: Extending Hospitality has caused me to ask, perhaps even rethink this question...

Who is my neighbor?

As I've alluded... it's far easier for me to say that my neighbor is the one who I constantly rub shoulders against.  My close friends who I see every week at church, or my family who is at my beckoned call.  They are the ones who I'm most comfortable with.  ALWAYS!  And they with me.  Somehow, that has already been established and you just KNOW they're your all-around-neighbor.

I least I say that this is WHO and what I only want my neighbor to be like.

Do you know what I mean?

In reality.  Your neighbor - whom we are called to love - is really anyone that we meet eyes with.  Anyone that we walk alongside of.  Stand behind or in front of... at the checkout, etc.

This is hard.

Did you know that when travelers would enter in through the city gates, in Bible Times, that the townsfolk would be there waiting for and willing to welcome "strangers" back to their homes, as overnight guests; giving them a meal for their continued journey the following day?

This would have had to take guts.  Don't you think?

In all honesty.  This is where the rubber meets the road for me.

I have a lot of field to walk through in order to make that dream of mine a reality.  I can sometimes be the most gun-shy person in the world.  My world.  And oh how easy it is to stay in the comfortable place.  There are no worn paths across "the field" of me extending myself... to be neighborly.  And even with my literal close, next-door neighbor(s) - some days it can be a real challenge to be real.  To be hospitable.   I confess... I struggle.  As much as I dream to be "RIGHT ON"... in so many ways and far too often I am not.

Is this, Can this be true for you, too?
What are your thoughts?

In a few days I will share a brave-challenge with you that I (our family) did take on  - so stay tuned for that.
***
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Friday, October 19, 2012

OH NO! What's this ... Scott has sabatoged the BLOG!

Hi all ... long time no talk. This is Scott writing and I have trumped and now find myself at home here with a once-in-a-rarity sabotage. As many of you know that I accuse Bevy quite often to the sabotaging of my blog post (psst... they really do get written, she just sabotages them all).....

What a great post Bevy DID have up. You can scroll down if you really want to read it. Please do!! I just wanted to comment on two things first:

1.) Yes - being from the south and married to a Mennonite can be quite interesting, especially when we have Mennonite suppers. Kinda like pie night - only different.

2.) Speaking of pie, this particular pie debut here on the blog http://treasuredupandpondered.blogspot.com/2012/06/funny-cake.html

and I am not sure if Bevy answered the question of why it is called Funny cake. Now realize that Bevy may sabotage this very post, so if I am wrong, I am sure she will correct me (via sabotage). (ya think?)

The chocolate (mixture) is placed as the last ingredient on top of the cake (batter) before cooking baking, and as it cooks bakes a unique reaction takes place that settles it to the bottom of the cake. Yet you do not see any carmalization (is that a word???) of the fluffy, rich, moist, delectable, breading cake being formed in the middle.

Well, the blog has been sabotaged now, so my work here is done.  Yes! it has. Looking to a fun weekend with friends in from out of town and fellowship with a brother in Him later this evening.

Gotta go back to work! (yes, my love, back to work...)

Have a great day all, and be drawn closer to Christ more today than you were yesterday!

(PS: I'm the gal in red today...sabotaging at it's best!)

31 days :: Pie Night!

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It's Friday!  A great night, to implement something new!  Let me introduce you to what my one friend calls  "Yoder Pie Night".  

I think you'll be intrigued.
Let me tell you about this...


I, for one, am always looking for new ideas on different ways to extend hospitality.  I keep coming back to this conversation I've had with one of my older (Mennonite) friends - when I worked at the hospital.  I hope I'm recalling the story correctly.
This friend of mine's husband was from a rather large family.  I already mentioned this - a Mennonite family.
So to think about PIE...well, that is a pretty common staple in a family like such.

But they made it into something.
Something unique and fun.

Once a month.  The siblings in this particular Yoder family would take turns to host what they called
"Yoder Pie Night"

They would gather sometime after dinner - whoever could come - (I think there were 4-5 siblings, and so include the spouses) and they would just have homemade pie (and ice cream?); sit around and play games.
The hostess in charge that month would make the pies (or buy them!), put on the coffee and pull out the games!

Fun and Simple.

What better to do then to do this on a rainy Friday night, eh?
 Of course, I'd have to change the last name...

Oh!  And one more necessary clarification.  You don't have to be Mennonite to do something like this.  But let me venture to say... if you have even a slightly remote chance at having Mennonite Roots... you've smiled, because you know how good "getting together" can be.  Especially over Pie and Ice Cream!!!!
***
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 days :: It's your turn to speak!

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Great!

I just wrote out a whole post...about extending hospitality... and DELETED it...on purpose.

Hey, I'll be honest.

blog button
Sometimes in the midst of this series it can feel flaunting.  I don't want it to feel that way.

That's what happened, just now.

And so...

It's gone!!

At least, that one is.

In Proverbs there is this verse that keeps coming to mind and reminding me of my place in this "conversation".  The verse says:

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; 
someone else, and not your own lips. 
(Proverbs 27:2)

So, in effort to keep balance here... I want to hear from you. It's your turn to speak.  Tell me  about someone else in your life!!!!  Who, is it that speaks volumes, to you, in terms of hospitality?

As well as, In your experience of sharing your hearts and your homes and your food and your fellowship... as you continue to practice that... what has "extending hospitality" taught you, and about you?  Are you a natural?  Or, do you need to practice and practice and practice?

It's okay.  We ALL need to just be faithful to do our best and be our best.  No expectations... but to be REAL.

***
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 days :: Be a Blessing Bandit

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 Could there really be such a thing, as a Blessing Bandit?  

I think so.  

In fact, I know so.  
A blessing bandit is when a person decides to be a sort of serious outlaw-bandit, but in the reverse.  They are sneaky.  As in, how much blessing can they do and get away with? - all in the name of anonymity.
I once knew of a gal who did this. 

Often. 

She would sneak by others homes; leaving things in their mailboxes, on front porches or steps, or on their car windshields.  Simple & thoughtful things like bouquets of flowers, something baked or notes of encouragement.  Such random acts of kindness that left one scratchin' their heads.  Never with an expectation of getting something in return. Purely - just because.

And then.

She disappeared - totally skipped town - as it were.  I never really heard much from her again.

It's a shame.  Really it is.

 Oh, to be like her.

We need more Blessing Bandits in our lives.  Wouldn't that be nice?  I have to ask...Would you consider joining the gang?  I mean, if I do - will you, too?

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." ~Proverbs 3:27


I thought I would share this quote that I love from Nicole Johnson...

"Encouragement is to a friendship what confetti is to a party.  It's light, refreshing, and fun, and you always end up finding little pieces of it stuck on you later."

Amen??
***
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 days :: We lead - they follow

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WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING

      When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you hang my
first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you feed the
birds in winter, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make my
favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking I heard you say a
prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make a
meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you take care
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you hold
the door open for others and heard 'thank you' and
'you're welcome', and I learned respect for others.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw tears come
from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw that you
cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be..

When you thought I wasn't looking I learned most of
life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking I looked at you and
wanted to say, Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn't looking.'

~Mary Rita Schilke Korzan


I found this poem today on another friend's blog.  I felt it so appropriate to share it with you too, as part of this series.  It proves to be true - just of how much our example is so important.  
If we lead {well}... they will follow {well}.

 ***

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Monday, October 15, 2012

31 days :: Be a Bucket Filler {extending hospitality in a way our children can understand}

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Pardon the delay in getting this post up, today, and published. As I've been playing "hospital" around here myself this morning, with a sick little guy (slight fever and sore throat - no school!) and a teething, cranky 1 yr old... and on the phone with doctors and grandmas' and well...
I think we're holding our own and hanging in there.  Mostly resting here today.

But I wanted to ask you this today.

Have you ever heard of a Bucket Filler?  How about a Bucket Dipper?


The other day...I received a letter in the mail.
A kindhearted soul, a dear friend of our whole family, "must have been" reading my blog and knows now - how much I love getting snail mail.  Because I've talked about that.
Which, in turn, kinda made me cry.  Like a baby.
But, in a good way.

Her words... so full of blessing and gratitude.

My five year old overheard the sniffles and came to see what was wrong.  I like five.  He still wants to be held and so I picked him up and held him.  WOW ~ he's getting HEAVY!!

Maybe if I held all my kids more often like that I wouldn't notice the gradual change of how quickly they really grow up.  Something to think about...

So back again to him asking me what was wrong.

I quickly told him.  And meant it.

"Nothing is wrong, honey", I said.

"But, do you remember the book you were telling Mommy about the other day, the one you're teacher read to your class, at school? - the one with the question that asked of whether or not you were a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?"

"Yes!" - Caleb whispered, snuggling deeper into my shoulder.

"Well, this is what being friends with someone is all about.  We're bucket fillers for each other.  When we can be friends with someone and they can be friends with us... and we do things like send each other encouraging cards, or help each other out, or give a meal to someone - just because.  That is what it means to fill another person's bucket.
It's where you want to do kind things for others and fill their bucket up - GOOD and FULL!
When you start to let selfishness and unkindness enter you're relationships to the point where it affects negatively - you've then become a bucket dipper."

I think he understood.  After explaining further that my tears were happy tears - he pushed back and wanted down.  Off to playing...again.


 I hope I filled his bucket that day, as well.  Somehow, I think I did.

((Verbiage like this is just another way, I hope, to help our kids understand -hospitality- and how to extend it, outwardly toward others.))
***

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 days :: Start with each other ... at home!

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Yesterday, we were at a wedding.

My cousin, Mary Beth, got married.
She, the bride, was beautiful.  They {both} were radiant.  This was the day they both had waited for...
It was a beautiful wedding.  Full of blessing.  Of encouragement.  Of family and friends.  Of the Joy of the Lord.

One of the neat things that happened was during the reception, and I've seen this before, but they had what you would call an "open mic" and it is just that.  It's where you (anyone!) can come to the sideline of the dining area, to the microphone, and give testimony, memories, "advice", your blessing, stories about...to, and specifically for the couple as a means of blessing them.

Good times.  Lots of beautiful words were shared.

Well, my hubby kept poking me in the side to "get up and share" something - from our side of the family.  I being all shy and already emotional (from all of the good things shared already) knew that I didn't really have it "all together" - something to offer that might make sense.  You know?

After getting home, later in the evening and picking up our children from the sitter's.  I was tidying up the kitchen - preparing for today, as we hoped to have guests over for lunch. (The lunch plans didn't happen then, due to a little sick five year old, this morning.) But, last night; with my hands deep in the dishwater - my mind as sudsy, with thoughts, as it comes.  I got to "thinking about" about some of the verbiage that was shared as a general theme throughout their Wedding Service and throughout the remainder of their day.

It was wished that their home would be:
a place of refuge * a safe place * a home built on prayer * with an open door * a place of healing *

{hospitality?} Of course I thought this - double time - as I've been immersed in this very topic for the past couple of weeks... with more to come.  It warmed me.

The word "hospitality" derives from the same root word as "hospital", originally a place of shelter and rest for travelers.

And I got to thinking about my husband's poking me to get up and share - which I already told you - I didn't.

But, if I would have.  Here is what I might have said...

(Addressing the Bride & Groom)

Look around the room, (250+ people) and note the amount of married couples here today.  And if you can, compile as quickly as you can the collective number of years that each couple has been married.  You might not be able to get an accurate number.   Surely that number would be in the thousands... I'm guessing?

That is a lot of years, number one.  But two, a lot of marriage advice and counsel could be shared with you here today... based out of that sum of "experience".   A lot of credibility.  And a lot of commitment -for sure, rock solid.  It's a good and godly heritage.

But.  For sure.  There would we a collective AMEN!, in this room, agreeing that it isn't always pain an trouble-free.  There are certainly moments of some "not-so-fun, nor glorious", things may not go well...nor easy to work through.  A lot of things learned the hard way.

Well, I am only 7 years into my own marriage.  I really am not qualified to share anything to noteworthy in the advice department, basically as I'm still "learning how" to do this myself... but, if there is one thing I can say (or offer?) - it would be this.

Be hospitable towards your spouse- first. 
It starts at home.  With one another... and after that it branches out of your four wall and into the world around you.  People will be attracted to that.  It will be a safe place.  A place of refuge.  A haven. A place where healing can happen...and will happen.

(Beth, the bride.  You're a nurse.  You would get this.)

In the rough times...don't smooth over and just start slapping on band aids - as if to push things under the rug.  Together - be willing to do the Wound Care.  Go deep. and make restoration as quickly as possible.

This isn't always easy.  Sometimes the pain of that is worse then original affliction itself.  But it will be for the best and it is ALWAYS the best thing that can be done.

One of the ways that you can also be hospitable towards your spouse is to keep doing the Small Things.
These things would vary from couple to couple.

For us.  It's probably a lot of my husband's Southern roots... which I'm grateful for.  But to this day - seven years later -he will still open the door of the vehicle, making sure I'm in and settled before shutting the door.

We prepare each others toothbrushes each and every night.  If the one is "there" first - s/he will set up for the other. A little quirky - maybe.  But we've always done this.  IF and when one forgets - that's when we almost get (joking!) offended at each other.

Use your manners with one another.  Always use please and thank you.  I'm sorry.  Excuse me.
          Hold Hands... still.  Just because.


Et cetera, et cetera.

It's just in the repetitive of the little things that over time will really make for some "good health" habits in a Marriage.  I also think in that doing these (random) little things for one another... it would make you want to STAY.

Start with each other ... at home.

(So, that is what I would have said. And then, I would've gone and sat back down.)

***
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Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 days :: Make Room

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One of the things that settled me about the guy I was soon to marry was this.
His heart for hospitality.

Granted, being from the South may or may not have had anything to do with it.
But basically, he got my stamp of approval and he wasn't leaving. (smile!)


While we were courting. Scott &  I had made plans for my best friend, Amiee, to come on over for dinner.  The two had already met but this was intended for them to get better acquainted.  Just because. Amiee and I lived right next door to one another... and so when she popped over with an unexpected friend of hers - who just happened to stop by her house for a quick hello - we got to talking and before I knew Scott had asked Amiee's friend if she had had dinner?  And.  Before I knew it - he twisted her arm to stay... and he started moving place settings around and stuff out of MY cupboard, found an extra - need I say "safe?" chair and made this "other gal" feel right at home.

We had plenty of food. Good conversation.
 The evening went great. 
It was settled.

There is/was always room for one more.  Even today.  This is how my husband "flies".
I really, really appreciate it.
He has such a knack for making "things" fit when there seems to be no way on God's green earth, they should.
This includes people, most importantly.

His heart is big.  So big and growing. ;)

I love and appreciate his on-board heart for hospitality.  Always willing to make room for one more. So, while he can't cook a darn thing...and he'll tell you that... I let him do the arranging and the placement of the tables and chairs and the sometimes the place settings. (That is if I can stop rearranging what he's already arranged.)

It's really important to work together and in the end, well... this is what my husband always tells our guests.
If you leave hungry - it's your own fault.

***
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