Love Deeply. Offer Hospitality.

I'm writing to process and thought I might as well include you in on the journey, if you'd like. 

If not, I'll still love ya and be your friend. Don't ever feel obligated to read one single word on this blog. I share because I want my kids to some day see our daily story. Their mother's story. And I share to encourage others with whatever they're going through. And I share because it would be my heart's desire that people that happen upon my blog might be moved one step closer to Jesus, wherever they are in their faith journey. That's all. Nothing too profound or deep or hidden. You'll find if you know me for long, you'll come to know that I'm a rather simple gal. What you see is what you get.

Very early in January I mentioned to my accountability/prayer group that I thought God was up to something really big in 2012. I wasn't sure what it was, couldn't really put my finger on anything specific other than just this gut feeling I had, way down deep, that things were going to get radical this year. And maybe messy. And maybe unexplainable except that God was a part of it.

I've continued to feel that way since then, and here it is on the brink of May 1st and I'm feeling it stronger than ever.

By last night (Sunday) I was weary. Weary from doing a million things for a lot of people. All good things mind you... but feeling somewhat spent. I landed from a 5 day trip to California - an amazing trip - only to be hit with emails and projects and follow ups to my 'to do' list that seemed to be a mile long and growing. Daily. Hourly actually.I felt like everyone needed a piece of me and I didn't have enough to go around. Ever feel that way?

And so as the week wore on I just continued to feel weary. Not depressed or down or irritated. Just weary of always being on the run. Always being on the run. Always. 

 My every day regular day looks something like this:

Get up later than I should (because I stayed up later than I should have the night before and I hate waking up in the morning so I most always start the day about 45 minutes behind schedule which means I'm runnin' from the get go.).

Race to get lunches made and kids fed and out the door to drive 10-15 minutes to school.

Drop the kids off and race to whatever the first thing is on the list of things to do. Could be the gym to get that done because I'm trying to take better care of myself. .Or it could be back home to start laundry. Or it could be to tackle the grocery list at 3 stores because not one store does it all. Or it could be to help a friend in need. Or to meet friends for small group. Or to race down to Breakthrough to drop off clothes for the homeless. Or this or that. Just random stuff all the time. Sometimes meaningful. Sometimes mind-numbing.

It just seems like I am forever racing around and this Mama is about to get off the race track.

But I am realizing that getting off the race track means some radical changes and stepping back and asking the question,

So what should I be doing with my time?
What would God want me to do with my time?

How can I do a better job with my time so that I'm not wasting it?

Because clearly I can fill it with a million things -- but I'd rather fill my time with God's purposes for my time. Sort of back to that "Intentional Living" thing that I'm so passionate about but for some reason has gone by the wayside of late.

So last night we had small group at our house and I shared the above about just feeling weary from running a million different directions ...and wanting prayer to be able to focus on what God might want me to do with my time. And prayer that I would take/make the time to sit and evaluate everything on my plate to know what God would have me do.

After they left, Jack and I happened to listen to this podcast by Jennie Allen on Moody Radio (you can hear it here if you'd like - it is powerful - just know that ahead of time.). We were moved to tears. We were challenged; so much so that I went and bought her book "Anything" today, hours later, so that we could read it this week.

And after that, we prayed together and I had this picture as I prayed of our home being a sanctuary, a safe haven, a place of rest and hope and peace ... for our little family, for our friends, for strangers, for passers by ... It was sort of out of the blue, but I've learned that more often than not, the 'sort of out of the blue' things usually end up being "God trying to get my attention" things.

This morning, after I left the gym {patting myself on the back for getting there}, I decided I would take a piece of paper and write all the things that are currently vying for my time. All of them. I felt like maybe if I had it all on paper I might see things that I could eliminate or prioritize or I don't know what. I'm a list maker so it always seems to help to just write stuff down. {Hence this very lengthy post.}

It just so happened that the only paper I had in my purse was a Sunday school paper of Jackson's from yesterday that I hadn't even looked at and had just shoved in my purse along with the other random things that end up in a woman's purse.

And wouldn't you know it, but on the back of that paper that I turned over to write on, he had drawn this beautiful picture of a big house. A house.  Curious. Brown with purple windows and a few orange doors.Seemingly random but I had to shake my head and think is God trying to get my attention. {I'm not a wacko, I promise - I just try to always be on the lookout for God. I'd rather look for Him and catch glimpses of Him than not look for Him and miss Him altogether.}

The first thing I scrawled down on that paper, beside Jackson's 6-year-old version of a house, was could our home be a sanctuary for us, for others? Could this be God trying to get my attention? Hospitality.

And then about three hours later when I sat down to read my Bible and just talk with God about this, I read these verses from 1 Peter 4:7-11 because we happen to be going through the book of 1 Peter in our small group and this is the next section ...

"The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, SO THAT in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." -- emphasis mine

I was struck by the whole "love each other deeply" bit ... and the "offer hospitality" phrase... and the "use whatever gift you have to serve others" command ... and the "speak as if you're speaking God's words" knocked me upside the head and "serve in the strength God provides" was like "WOW. Do I need some of that!" ... And all of that is so that God gets praise.

I'd say that's radical. And challenging. And it seems that if I'm serving in God's strength, instead of my own, I might be a whole lot less weary than I felt last week.

So I'm moved tonight. Compelled to rethink my time and passions and where I'll place my efforts and energy. I find it so helpful to write this all out so if you've made it this far you're either crazy or kind-hearted.

That podcast I mentioned above also mentioned the book "Kisses From Katie" that Maddie had been asking to read, so I snatched that up too and have already cried through numerous pages in the foreword and introduction alone. This quote caught my heart ...

"Human suffering and need are everywhere. Katie (the book is about this girl that goes to Uganda and adopts all these children) is not a superhero; she's really just an ordinary woman who wanted more than anything to obey God and say yes to whatever He asked of her. It just so happened that a great adventure awaited her when she did, and she now finds herself in the midst of a remarkable story that is unfolding in jubilant ways, in heartbreaking ways, and in courageous ways every day. If you are ordinary but hungry to obey God ... may you find the strength to say yes and be launched into your very own amazing story." -- Beth Clark

And so as I navigate the waters of restructuring my days so they feel less about running around doing a million disjointed good things and more about saying "yes" to what God has for me on any given day ... (which incidentally, I think goes back to that verse above - love deeply, offer hospitality, serve others in God's strength, speak as if I'm speaking God's words...") I get really, really excited.

I love potential. I love possibilities. I love seeing God do His thing. I love when I finally get out of the way and let Him BE the way.

So we'll see. I just needed to process and connect some dots that have come along in the last twenty-four hours, seemingly out of nowhere, but I guarantee it was all in God's rich timing ...

He's good to let us learn and grow and be touched by other folks' stories which encourage and provide hope.

Love deeply. Offer hospitality. Serve in God's strength.

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