Practicing Hospitality..

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Showing Hospitality for me often takes the form of sharing food with others.

I have half a dozen blog posts that are half written and not yet posted, full of ideas, thoughts, and things I am working through deep down. But, today, as I love my Monday routine (I’m convinced I’m the only person who loves Mondays), I am mulling over “Practice Hospitality” from Romans 12:13.

I have been contemplating the idea of how so much of my life revolves around practicing hospitality. Learning to get good at it, adjust it, improve weaknesses, and identifying the type of hospitality that each person needs.

My job entirely revolves around this idea of practicing to get good at hospitality, and then helping to lead an entire community towards being good at it as well.

Today I am mulling over the order and process of how passages are put together. I find it fascinating is the types of things put together in scripture… Why are these things linked? What is the importance behind why they are listed like they are?

For example, practicing hospitality is listed like this:

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:
if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

if service, in his serving;
or he who teaches, in his teaching;

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation;
he who gives, with liberality;
he who leads, with diligence;
he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor;

not lagging behind in diligence,
fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord;

rejoicing in hope,
persevering in tribulation,
devoted to prayer,

contributing to the needs of the saints,
practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another;
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

I do not think it is happenstance that “practicing hospitality” falls in the middle of this, serving as a transition point. The first half of this seems to be talking to believers, for believers, and how to operate with other believers… But, then after practicing hospitality there’s a pretty clear shift in the conversation.

The second half of this depicts life: The good and bad, the ugly, hard, gritty, un-fun, and difficulty of being in real relationships with people. And then, it ends a few verses later with: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

There are three main points that stand out to me in this passage that seem to be what hinges on overcoming evil with good:

Let love be without hypocrisy
practicing hospitality.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

I think the reason I love these, and see them as anchors within this passage is because they point to real relationships. The beauty and struggle, the intentionality, and how authentic relationships are supposed to look.

Let’s be real: Life. Is. Hard.

But, life is easier if we love well, practice hospitality towards one another, rejoice and celebrate, and weep with those around us.

Life becomes less hard, less sucky, and more tolerable, enjoyable, and fulfilling when we travel it together.

We want real relationships, hard conversations, people who make us grow and allow us to fail miserably. There’s nothing quite like deep meaningful relationships to boost our spirits. Life feels a bit more manageable when we enjoy dinners, laughter, and silence with people who extend us grace and mercy throughout hard seasons because it creates a safe place for us to heal from wounds of our past. – Whether they are of our own doing, or at no fault of ours.

Life is hard, but practicing hospitality is important for everyone to learn how to do well; it is a skill that needs cultivation. Each person has their own flavor of hospitality, but most do a poor job of trying to hone their own style of hospitality to convey love without hypocrisy, rejoicing with those that are rejoicing and weeping with those that are weeping.

We must all get better at hospitality.

True, authentic, welcome to the real life of me, type of hospitality; not the fake Pinterest, better homes and gardens, Martha Stewart style hospitality.

The thing I love about this passage in Romans is it also prevents selfishness. Loving without hypocrisy, practicing hospitality, rejoicing with those that rejoice, and weeping with those who weep etc..etc.. prevent us from focusing on ourselves. – We must focus on others.

Life and community suck less when we are focused on others. We stop feeling alone when we enter into the ups and downs of the life of those around us.

People find hope and a place to learn how to be healthy if we live like this passage in Romans calls us to fulfill.

I love that my job requires me to be intentional about understanding hospitality, learning about it, and then creating space to practice it both professionally and personally.

How do you practice hospitality?

What does that look like for you?

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More often than not, hospitality and loving well looks like me freely giving my time and sharing food or drinks with someone!

Single v. Married…

I have been watching an interesting debate discussion lately about the benefits of being Single or being Married.. Or getting married young.. Or staying single longer.. whatever.

It has felt recently as though there are two teams and they are at odds with each other. I think it is a little odd that we seem to be “fighting” or trying to convince others that our current state is the best or correct one.

Here are a few of the articles in the discussion so you can follow along with why I am writing this post:
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23
The Results of a Closed-Minded 23 Year Old
I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?
Marriage Isn’t For You
Why I Did I Get Married so Young

(There are more, and you possibly have read different ones)

The “conversation” as a whole really just interests me quite a bit. Obviously some of the blog posts are in direct response to one another, whereas others seem to be oblivious to the conversation at large, and are merely adding their thoughts to the world.

I also think it’s interesting that 23 is the number that keeps getting brought up.

Let me start out by saying, I am not loving on or hating on one side of this conversation or the other, merely responding to the conversation as a whole. I think it would be helpful to highlight some things.

Some background on myself so you can be more aware of where I am coming from:
I am a turning 29 years old, still single, never married or engaged woman.
I am not at all against marriage, and not only did I think early on in my life that I would be married by this point in life, I still would like to get married to the right man someday… But, I am content single, actually love aspects of it, and I am willing to wait for the right man because I have seen the destruction of divorce in too many people (of all ages).
I also have done quite a bit of reading of research on Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) because I find people and culture fascinating (especially my own).

Now that my vantage point is known, here is my personal perspective and thoughts on the Single v. Married conversation:

Not everyone who is single loves it.
Not everyone who is married loves it.

Not everyone who is single thinks they have made a better choice than getting married.
Not everyone who is married thinks they have made a better choice than to stay single.

Being single has some major pros and cons.
Being married has some major pros and cons.

Singleness can be hard.
Marriage can be hard.

Selfishness is pervasive among single people.
Selfishness is pervasive among married people.

Some people “do” single better than being married.
Some people “do” married better than being single.

In some cases staying single was the wise choice.
In some cases getting married was the wise choice.

Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of single people I know.
Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of married people I know.

Life is an adventure when you are single.
Life is an adventure when you are married.

Staying single is better/healthier than getting divorced.
Getting married is better/healthier than sleeping with someone you’re not married to.

Remaining single “late” into your adult life does not automatically mean you are wiser than a young married couple.
Getting married young does not automatically mean you are unwise or pathetic.

Being single “late” into your adult life does not mean you are against those married young (or older).
Being married young (or older) does not mean you are against those still single “late” into adult life.

Being single does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so to “get your life together”.
Being married does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so because you’ve “gotten you life together”.

Etc..etc.. See?

For me, there are days that singleness is just straight up hard, and other times I love the advantages of flying solo. But, from my plethora of friends (married at all ages), there are days that they remind me that being married is just hard too or they love every little bit of the married life…

From where I sit, both have the same qualities, it just depends on the person or couple.

My perspective is that regardless of if you are married or single, you should have goals.. Good goals ones, fun ones, hard ones, solid ones, frivolous ones, and seemingly impossible ones, I think that is how you help yourself grow, and a way to help measure success as a single or married person/couple.

So, please, let’s stop justifying why one is better than the other as if our choice was the right one for everyone… or the perfect decision forever.

If you are single and loving it or wish to be married, that is awesome and good things can and will happen during this season.
If you are married and loving it or wish you had waited, good things can and will happen during this stage of life.

Something New…

I have had an interesting few weeks, I have been experiencing and walking through, and into some new situations and feelings, and it has brought on some new thoughts and revelations about myself.

Typically, I am a very confident and self assured person. I know who I am and what I believe in when it comes to most any area of myself or my life. However, there are a few circumstances (ok maybe just one) where I begin to allow doubts to creep in.. in fact, it is less that I allow it and more that the devil and I have our own special code for what I should feel or think.. or in reality doubt about myself. I have found myself in that situation again recently, but this time it has caused different reactions or responses than what I have experienced in the past. For example, while all the emotions are still there, the freak outs are very minimal because I have very little guessing to do which keeps my mind from running away like a crazy person… I am finding that I am getting the chance to process through things before I need to react, and thankfully, I have begun to realize where some of my emotions or fears have come from.. which allows me the chance to work through them instead of merely ignore them, only to then have to deal with them at a later inconvenient date.

I have had a few revelations.. or things told to me recently, some of which I know, but often forget, and others I have simply not every considered before. For example, it was brought to my attention that I am of “amazing” character, morals, convictions, care, and love.. (aww thank you) and then it was pointed out that this person thinks part of the reason I am still single has more to do with how intimidating my stance on me not having sex before marriage is to the guys who pursue me… It was an interesting thought that I had never really considered before.. Not that it changes anything, but is just something I had never thought of… Thankfully the person who told me also affirmed their respect and admiration for my position on it, which meant I was not confused about their position or reason for telling me…

I also have realized lately how much I am used to taking care of myself.. I mean, I know that being single sort of brings with it a level of self-centeredness and independence (neither of which are necessarily bad things, but more just a byproduct of not having to run things by someone else). In the process of realizing my natural tendency towards taking care of myself, I realized how much of a struggle.. and I mean legitimate struggle it is for me to let someone else take care of me.. I almost view it as my responsibility to take care of others, not let them take care of me… That’s been an interesting thing to learn, and try and walk through.. Graciously.

In addition, I have begun to really process through some of my fears and some of the things that have happened to me in the past. Ways I have been hurt, ways I made poor decisions that lead to additional pain, and ways that I had no idea situations affected me until I had an emotional reaction about them later. It is incredibly interesting to discover things about yourself that you just had no idea existed until the emotions take over.. it is very humbling and difficult to acknowledge.

What I do know at this point is there are new things in my life that are good things, but not easy things that will prove to force me to grow in ways I have never had to before. Should be interesting…

If.. Then..

So, I have such a swirl of emotions going through my head and heart right now. Not really bad things, just a mixture of things. A few days ago a couple friends and I sat together in NYC and shared thoughts about each other, funny observations, strengths and weaknesses, and a whole bunch of other things.. But, the thing that stuck with me the most was how totally and completely different each of our perspectives are from each other’s. For example, the things that I saw as strength or some of their most endearing qualities, things that are attractive, first thoughts and impressions.. not at all what they would have expected or ever thought of themselves. And, it was definitely a vice-versa type thing. It was interesting because we also shared what we thought was one of the things the others thought we could work on.. and mine was.. not what I was expecting, but I can see how it fits, and it has added an interesting dynamic to my prayers.

Last Sunday one of my friends spoke in our Sunday school class, and I was so excited because he spoke on something I have been thinking about a lot.. and had JUST been thinking about it literally minutes before he began speaking. He spoke about Jacob, and all the characteristics of Jacob, and how he stole Esau’s identity essentially.. and how when he saw God in a dream his response was “if you do these things.. then I will do this..” and we began fleshing out our instinct to pull “if… then..” statements on God. Which really got me thinking.. “Do I do this?” So, in an attempt to figure this out.. later in the shower I got down on my knees, and I laid it all out before God and just told Him it is all for Him anyway. That regardless of what He asks, tells, directs, anything… Here I am, send me. I know this brings pain, and heartache, and trials, and rough times. And, I am ok with that. I am ok knowing that I am struggling when it comes from Jesus.

Let me just explain that I am… apprehensive about what God will ask of me this next year, but I also do not care what it is. I just want to know I am doing what He has asked me to. I will follow His lead.

Our conversation was interesting, because the things that were said about me, specifically in the compliments realm were things I have never heard when someone was describing me.. ever. I had never heard them as qualities I have, traits, or characteristics I posses. It was interesting, and definitely has caused me to think and smile knowing and accepting something new that I never had entered into my realm before. I cannot express how much I cherish honesty, even when it is hard to accept, I appreciate knowing those around me are serious and not telling me fluff or just telling me what I want to hear. That simple fact allows me to accept their compliments as well as their objective feedback that I might not like… But is true.

I do not want to live my life as an “if you do this, then I will do this..” whether that is directed at God, my friends, my future bf/husband.. I do not want to have a 50/50 perspective on relationships. I want to give everything I have to everyone I can.

Here I am Jesus, send me. Take away my selfish desires, take away my thoughts of myself first, give me more of you in my mind and heart, give me the thoughts I should have, help me to see when you are moving and speaking to me. Help me follow without fear for anything. You alone.