Hello again all. Wow I know, two posts in one week after such a long absence, but I could not help but write and tell you what a wonderful thing the Lord is doing in my heart, my house, to us all here on 14 W. Haywood.
There is sooo much negetive out there, whether it be Obama-haters, church politics, or just plain ole' meaness. I am sick to the gills with it. I won't even read some places because the sarcastic negitivism makes me sick. Soo today was like a breath of fresh air to our home.
Lately I have been studying what it means to be Biblicaly Hospitable, mostly because I was asked to speak on it at a Ladies Meeting, but then because my findings were so amazing that it transformed the way I looked at a certain group of people......"strangers."
Ro 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Tit 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
1Pe 4:9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
ALL of the verses in Scripture that contain the word "hospitality" can directly be translated from the Greek to mean, "A lover of strangers." Yep, strangers." And in a nut shell, God wants us to show His love to these strangers so that they can see that "hope" that is within us and want to know Him more. The biggest lesson I learned is that hospitality is not just a fancy dinner with special dishes, a casserole you have never made, just to impress, and you barking orders to all of the kids to help you clean so no dust bunny is visible to the known world. It. Is. Simple. Kindness. Or in layman's terms.......love. Investing a part of yourself in another. I am so about giving back to everyone who has invested in me and in turn investing myself in others to show how much God loves them, through me. (As a side note here, our family is just about the lovingest (yep another Deena-ism) family there ever was. The other day in church I was sitting ridiculously close to Joel, Abby was smooshed against me on my left and Isaac was smooshed against Joel on his right. We were one family "glob" because we just wanted to be close to one another! It must have been quite a sight to behold.... I digress....) We have told the children that everyone needs love. Some a little, some a lot, but everyone everywhere needs love, and you can give a little of the love that Christ has "shed abroad in our hearts," everywhere you go. It has kindov been like a game.
For those of you unfortunate enough to hear my radio debut, my sincerest apologies. That was one part impulse and 99 parts excitement. Way too much. Long story, but my delightful hospitality findings overtook me leading to a radio spoof. Sometime I MAY feel daring enough to elaborate, for now I am still too embarassed!
Wow this is becoming quite the dissertation....sorry. I will get to my point.
I have known of a milestone that was coming up in the life of a sweet Godly woman. It is the year marking of the loss of a daughter. I have grieved with her, laughed with her over a cup of sleepytime, and yet our paths have never crossed. I have never met her in person. So to ME she IS a stranger and she is a perfect stranger because she is redeemed by God's grace and perfect in His sight. :-) I knew that the year marking of this sweet life reaching heaven would be bittersweet for her and have been planning for some time to send flowers to her house on the exact day. It was almost something I didn't even have to think about. Months ago I just "knew" I needed to do it. So I gathered some of my beloved (hey I usually do NOT have any!) speaking engagement money and began in search of a flower shop close to where my stranger lived. Finding her address was quite a task and I give God the glory for helping me do so. Whenever I have some crazy notion, the details of getting to the crazy notion are just as much fun for me as the idea itself! Soooo with address in hand I began to search the web maps for the one florist closest to this house, which is several states away from 14 West Haywood.
So here were all of these red alphabetical markings siting the flower shops in the area and I just picked one.......the right one. My palms were sweating as I dialed the number and for goodness sake tried to think of what to say to the other person on the opposite end. I have many faults and one of them is to feel like I have to tell someone my whole life story when I am in a pickle. A sweet southern voice answered and I began, "Uh, Hi. I need to send flowers to someone I have never met.......and well this is going to sound a little strange......" YES! She is SO GLAD SHE is working today isn't SHE? And without a pause she replied in the sweetest voice I just wish I could somehow convey to you with the southern drawl. It was like this......she said, "Laaaaaeeeey eeeeeeet onnnnn meeeeeee." How cute is that! She listened as I pointedly explained to her that GOD wanted me to send flowers to this woman! I am positive that she must have had all kinds of interesting facial expressions though she gave no hint of apprehension to me....who was thankful because I was already sweating like a 6th grader at the State spelling Bee!I told her the money I had to work with and gave her the address. Just when I thought I was in the clear and behaving like a normal 30 year old woman she politely asked me what I wanted on the card.
Oh yeah, the card! And there was the Holy Spirit right when I needed Him. I cooly replied,
"HE giveth more grace....."
The Baptist Preacher's Wife
And that was that! The flowers will be delivered today and I will NOT drive a zillion miles just to hide out in her bushes and wait for the flower truck to arrive.....though I sorely want to, and that is so not beyond me to do it!
What I haven't added is that while I was doing all of this Joel had Anna out with him running some errands and came through the door JUST as I was giving the last of our credit card information and thanking "Katherine" for her great assistance. He gave me a look like, "You seriously DID NOT just sell one of the kids did you?" Before he could worry any further I told him with arms straight out as if in baseball to say, "SAFE," telling him "Don't worry I have it all covered!" I walked to our room as I spoke hoping to make it to my stashed savings and show him when he stopped me dead in my tracks. "What's going on???" he asked. I took a deep breath getting ready to pontificate the whole matter and just as I was exhailing, Caleb spoke up from behind me! "I KNOW I KNOW,.....there is this lady who lost a baby and Mom is gonna send her flowers!!' (NOTE TO SELF: Make sure ole' tattle tale here is somewhere safe when planning next great idea!) By this time I was able to get the money and show Joel I did have it covered, holding it up in front of my nose and grinning from ear to ear like the cat from Alice in Wonderland. do you think Joel knows I am prone to "unique off the cuff hairbrained sporatic" plans? I am beginning to wonder...
You know it IS better to give than to receive. And if there is even an ounce in us that wants to encourage others it is only because the Lord himself put it there. Philippians 2:13 reminds us, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." You know me well enough to know that I try hard to obey prompts of the Holy Spirit. Flying to a funeral was one of them. God knew that I would be able to lighten the load of someone on that trip, and it was worth flying in one day only to fly out the next....God knew. He prompted me to go months before the funeral even took place, and He prompted Joel to come home with not cheap plane tickets one evening when we had little spoken about it. It was the Holy Spirit who prompted me to buy a book for the lady at the Clinique counter and give it to her. He knew she needed encouragement. And it was He who spoke to my heart while on Nursery duty saying, "Why don't you go and find that juice?" (Refer to previous posts if you are lost here!) None of these things were things I thought of, out of the "deceitfulness" and "desperate wickedness" of my own selfish heart. (Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) GOD put them there to work out HIS WILL through me. What a wonderfully humbling idea!
And I am no exception. Perchance there is someone at your place of work, someone you may have just heard of, or even noticed at church, that God can show a little bit of love to through you? You bettcha. Listen to the Holy Spirit, give of what you have and He will make you to abound with more joy and fulfillment than any "NOBAMA" pin will ever give you.
Now I am no stranger to ignoring promptings as well. A few services ago the Lord asked me to reach out to the woman next to me...to put my arm around her, and I was too fearful. I chickened-out. So see I am no perfect example of this, but I AM working on it. There are a million reasons why His prompting is weird, uncomfortable, crazy, outrageous and scary, but there are a million ways the Lord can use you in some small way to show His infinite love and concern to someone who needs Him. C'mon you can do it! Remember stories of great heroes of the faith. Each of them from time gone by have wonderful testimonies of someone.....a stranger perhaps that they would never meet this side of heaven, filling a need for them just because the Holy Spirit prompted them to do so. Money was sent at the right time, medicine, clothing, or even a word of encouragement. Who says those stories are long gone???