Homecoming and Hospitality

This week I'm catching up with my husband and son who've just returned from two and a half weeks in Asia. They're jet-lagged and travel weary, so my goal is to do all I can to ease them back into their daily routines, get them on Oregon time again, and listen intently to all their stories.

At some point I'll have to show my husband the list of calls he needs to return and appliances that need his fixing (because everything breaks when he's gone, of course), and talk to my son about the school he's missed; but in the meantime I'm praying for a gracious re-entry for them.

It always feels like I've held my breath, the times I've sent my loved ones off in a jet plane. We're all looking forward to the exhale of togetherness and thankful for the family the Lord has surrounded us with here in our little valley. I'm so glad to have them home and at the same time, a little heavy, knowing they've likely brought the weight of the world home with them. The world has also not stopped spinning its heartache and turmoil here, in their absence, but God's grasp is firmly on us. We have so many reminders of His goodness and our weakness.

It's good to do life together.

Today I'm honored to have an essay up at Kindred Mom, a new collaborative site dedicated to helping moms flourish in motherhood. It's about hospitality, which applies well to welcoming my family back home.

Learning to be hospitable means learning to recognize the needs of others, and no one needs your perfect hostessing abilities to make them feel at ease. Matching dishes and exotic foods have their time and place, but what we all need most is a little nourishment, a little work, a little rest, and good conversation through it all.

My kids have not grown into perfect social beings, always looking out for the needs of others and knowing the right time to talk and the right time to listen; but they continue to be exposed to people who think, look, live, and worship differently than them. My hope is that, rather than fluffing the pillows and perfecting the meal and changing themselves to make others comfortable, they are living hospitable lives that welcome people to have deep conversations about true things.

Click here to read the rest of the essay.

When were you last changed?

Fifteen or twenty years ago when we were just a baby church, we used to hear stories all the time about drastic conversions and life altering decisions. People used to stand and share their testimony of how they were changed, how Christ had wrecked their lives in the best way and even in the smallest ways, and we would all rejoice together. We still hear those testimonies once in awhile and maybe I'm too nostalgic about bygones, or maybe I choose to be rosy about the past and ignorant of the present; but in examining my own life I have to ask when was I last changed?

Add to your faith virtue...

The gospel changes things, changes people. But after awhile we might just consider the Good News to be old news and forget the whole working out of our salvation and our continual need for growth.

By default, I know I'm always going back to the old man (Col. 3:9). I'm forever finding that old coat with the holes, the one that I know won't keep me warm or shield me from the elements. I'm looking for ways to put it on again because it's familiar and easy and it fits so darn well.

I default to temporary comfort and ease because change is hard.

To virtue knowledge...

There are grand stories of monumental change and overnight deliverance; of the hardest of times that brought the clearest of revelations; of tragedies that turned lives right around and illnesses or addictions that were taken in one fell swoop. There are hard-knock stories that finally broke open to the call of Christ, and then there are "easy conversions" and those who slipped in the back door of the church and agreed with obvious truth.

Outside one day, inside the next.

Mine is one of the latter stories, but I don't forget the sinner that I am. Though my story might be boring, I know my life was redeemed from a pit of the status quo and easy come, easy go. I once was lost.

To knowledge self-control...

But now I'm found. The trouble is I am always finding myself, and God might need to shake me out of the old man and shake the old man out of me once in awhile to remind me that finding myself is not sufficient unless I'm hidden in Christ. There is a difference between self-control and taking control, myself.

To self-control perseverance...

The gospel is constantly calling me to change and it's a message I need to hear again and again. Paul told the Corinthians, "I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you...", i.e., I've already told you this, but I'm going to say it again because you need to hear it again. We see it in the change of seasons, the green shoots that push through earth's tomb in spring and shrink back to death in fall, and we hear the gospel again and again in our stories. Even the non-believing world is borrowing the gospel for its own plot.

It's a perpetual story woven into creation itself, a repeating cycle, and because the proof of the gospel is Jesus' resurrection from the dead, we can tell it with hope, again and again.

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. {2 Peter 1:12 NKJV}

Peter tells us to keep multiplying our grace and peace by knowing God more. Without over-examining our lives and running the risk of self-focus, by adding to faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:5-7),  we are coming to know God exponentially.

One day we will awake in His likeness and be satisfied. We will see Him in righteousness. But for now we have the gospel on repeat and though the changes may seem small—unworthy of Sunday morning sharing—for the most part we are not who we used to be. Our lives are gospel-stories we can share and the slow change is just as glorious as the overnight miracles.