Tag: hospitality (page 1 of 3)

How to Build a Sanctuary

“Any building is a temple if you make it so.” Phil Knight

I read this quote and it brought to mind this old post which was a good reminder for me, so I hope you don’t mind a redo!

People say I have the gift of hospitality, but I once put a cup of salt, instead of teaspoon of salt, into a batch of lasagna so clearly it can’t be about gourmet cooking.  I also once totally forgot that we had invited six people for dinner, so hospitality apparently doesn’t hinge on attention to details.  Instead, I would agree with someone I heard recently who said, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house”.

Actually I’d expand that to say, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house…the bus, the office…the hair salon…the airplane…the parking lot.”  And I know many people who do that much better than I do.

For a season, some mentors of ours, Gordon and Gail MacDonald were pastoring in New York City.  They befriended some city bus drivers who were Christ-followers, but felt they didn’t have an environment for ministry.  Gordon pushed back and suggested:

“Why don’t you start up your buses each morning and, while the engine is warming, walk down the aisle of the bus and shout, ‘In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I declare this bus to be a sanctuary where passengers will experience something of the love of Christ through me.’ You can be a pastor in your own sanctuary.”

The bus drivers took his suggestion and experienced a transformation of perspective on their everyday life.  Suddenly their buses were a safe place where they were aware God was present and welcoming.

For my friend Anne a 747 is her sanctuary.  I can’t imagine anyone more full of the love of Jesus caring for weary travelers with joy and patience on the long flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.  Her flights are places where God is present and welcoming. Recently Anne switched her schedule to work this flight when I and my colleague were on our way home.  She treated us like royalty, but she does that with everyone she meets! Can you even??

Another friend moved to a new home last year and before painting over the walls of her living room, this is what she wrote.

IMG_4805She and her husband were declaring their house a sanctuary.

Another friend, Daoud Nassar, has a farm outside Bethlehem that is surrounded by Israeli settlements.  The government has blocked the road to his farm with boulders so you have to walk in.  They have restricted him from building anything above ground, so he uses caves.  They have repeatedly bulldozed the olive trees he grows.  But his farm, called Tent of Nations, is a sanctuary.  This is the sign that greets everyone.

IMG_3664

Welcome, Jesus.  May each place we set our feet today be a sanctuary, a piece of heaven on earth.

Where is your sanctuary today?  Might you take a minute to dedicate your space to the work of God?

 

Summer Soul Food

Hey Friends,

I know I’ve been MIA on the blog recently, but I’m guessing you’re out seizing summer joy and don’t mind a little less in your “in box”! As a result, this is a looooong post!

I’ve been prioritizing speaking, prepping a new set of devo cards, and another writing project I only recently have had the courage to call a “manuscript”. Yikes it’s scary to say that, and yet I also feel total peace regarding what happens with it. If God can use it “out there” I trust it will get published. If He has other plans I’m fine with that. I’m thankful for friends and mentors who have been coaching me along in this process!

 

Speaking of needing each other… John and I always do a lot of hosting in the summertime because our back yard provides a great space for gathering folks. We have had a big tent I told you about before, but it’s so old it started to leak when there was rain, and since rain was predicted last week when we were hosting 32, we bought another tent. Here was the problem. It was a LOT more complicated to set up than our previous one (I am so thankful for a husband with infinite patience!).

 

It was super hot with one million percent humidity as we struggled to get it set up. At one point I asked John what time it was, and he said, “No worries, they’re not coming tip 6:30.” Imagine the look on our faces when we had just finished the job and were sweating like pigs and our guests walked around the corner of our house at 6:00!

Anyway, one of the benefits of hosting a lot of potlucks is GOOD RECIPES! My friend Michelle brought this amazing salad and was gracious enough to give me the recipe, so I thought I’d pass it along. It is delightfully different!

Wheat Berry and Fruit Salad

1 Cup wheat berries

Dressing:

3 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs water

1 ½ Tbs cider vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp each salt & pepper

¼ Cup dried cranberries (craisins)

1 large apple cut bite size

1 Cup seedless grapes halved

½ Cup diced cheddar

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Add wheat berries; reduce heat, cover and cook for

45-55 minutes until tender. Drain well.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk oil, water, vinegar, mustard, salt

& pepper. Add dried cranberries and warm wheat berries.

Toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally,

for flavors to absorb and wheat berries to cool. (If you want

to make ahead and serve cold, cover and refrigerate up to

1 day).

3. Add remaining ingredients to bowl; toss to mix and coat.

Serves 4   (Can be served on a bed of lettuce.)

I preached at CPC on Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000 a couple weeks ago, and I wish I had thought to use this video! With Jesus everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect, and anything can happen!

 

I’ve been reading a lot this summer, but I really hate to review books because I think personal taste, values, your current season of life, and circumstances can skew how you feel about a book.

However, my talented friend Steve Wiens has a new book coming out August 22nd called “Whole”.  

The description of this new book is: “For Christians who lament the brokenness in themselves, their neighbors, and the world around them, Whole offers a rallying cry to pursue wholeness together.”

I think Steve’s strength is in the questions he asks – the 5 questions of restoration he addresses in the first half of the book, and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this a read that would be good for group discussion.  Steve models a commitment to self-reflection and vulnerable sharing throughout which will encourage others in your small group.

If you like considering the different meanings behind the original Hebrew text, looking for new connections, you will like this book.  If you like contemporary retelling of ancient stories that highlight the movement from brokenness to wholeness, you will like this book.

If you are into spy novels, I recommend this complicated, intriguing book, ” I am Pilgrim: A Thriller”. It’s excellent, but be forewarned…there is some graphic violence and the pieces don’t start to come together til about page 245. I can’t imagine the time that went into researching this book!

One last thing…I’ve been doing more on Instagram, and recently posted this quote. I have several friends who are in very, very hard places where it seems their thoughts and prayers kept spinning in a circle of despair. Can anyone else relate?

I’ll close with part of a blessing from Suzie Larson:

May you be honest with God about the hurts in your heart. May you discern the difference between grief and self-pity. May you be okay with not always being okay. God will one day wipe away every tear from your eyes, but until then, He wants to help you walk this journey with peace in your heart and assurance in your soul. He is with you.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Neighboring Challenge, Day 7 – Eat

Most of us view our homes as a sanctuary. A safe place where we can hide from the world. It’s ours. No matter how chaotic the world seems, at home we have a sense of control. Letting others in threatens that sense of control.

We may think:

  • What if they judge me or my cooking or my decorating or housekeeping?
  • What if I don’t like them?
  • What if they stay too long?
  • What if they expect too much of our relationship?
  • I don’t want to do the work. This will just be uncomfortable!

God has a bit different take on the situation and that can feel scary. He actually thinks everything is HIS, and we’re just caretakers – charged with using our homes, our cars, our money to further His kingdom of loving care. Hospitality is a high value in the kingdom as we see in these passages.

Genesis 18: 1-8 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.  Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.  He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

Hebrews 13:1-2 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

I LOVE the idea a friend of mine has initiated! She calls it “Front Porch Fridays” and invites friends to drop by for drinks and appetizers from 4:00 on!

Neighboring challenge:  Actually invite your neighbors over! I know this can be scary, but think of it as an adventure! You could do:

  • a cookout
  • a Saturday morning bagel bash
  • a potluck where each family brings a dish that tells something about their heritage
  • or “Sundaes on Sunday” like we did

I was nervous that no one would show up, but EVERYONE came! We made it short (7:00-8:00) and as simple as possible – sundaes or root beer floats. Try it and let me know what happens!

SaveSave

Neighboring Challenge, Day 1 – Fill Up

In my family I’m known for driving my car on fumes – going as long and as far as I possibly can without actually running out of gas. I seem to have an uncanny ability to drive my car that holds 15 gallons of gas, 15.8 gallons worth of miles.

I’m also prone to stretching my “tank” when it comes to hospitality. If I don’t first fill up with a Jesus heart and perspective, although I keep going, I notice 3 things can happen:

  1. It becomes about the externals – appearances, logistics, food…This can promote pride, or discouragement, neither of which please God.
  2. I am more focused on tasks than on being present to the people in my home.
  3. I am anxious because I want to be in control instead of letting the Spirit guide.

Most of us are super familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, but take another look.

Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Ask yourself: What are you worried or upset about? Open your hands and give those things to Jesus.

Just a few thoughts about this passage to keep things in perspective:

  • Note, we tend to bash Martha and praise Mary for being so spiritual, but if Martha doesn’t open her home, Mary doesn’t have a place to sit and listen to Jesus.
  • Jesus admonished Martha for being “worried and upset”, not for serving.
  • Martha did what was expected of women. Mary did what was expected of men (sitting at the feet of a teacher). Jesus broke down the wall that divided men and women.
  • “Mary has chosen…” We always have choices! If it’s a choice between Jesus and jobs, choose Jesus first.

Neighboring Challenge: 

To neighbor well we need to fill up first.

  • Picture you car dashboard with the gas gauge. Do you feel spiritually, physically, emotionally full or empty? Somewhere in between? What changes is it possible for you to make in order to fill up? Is there a spiritual practice that might help? Consider joining me on Facebook Live at noon CST Monday to hear more about a resource I’m offering.
  • Walk through your home praying – dedicate each room to the Lord’s purposes.

I’d love to see and hear your responses throughout this challenge – in the comments or on Instagram, or Facebook! Use the hashtag #neighboring. (Follow on Instagram or like the FB page if you want it to show up in your feed)

You Don’t Need a Fancy Dinner

Friday night we hosted kind of a Fancy Dinner.

IMG_4052

This is the kind of dinner where you can’t just make a casserole and you have appetizers and you should serve the salad as a separate course but I never do because I’m afraid someone won’t like it and won’t eat it and we’ll both be embarrassed, so to save face I serve it with the rest of the dinner. I plate the dinner and then guests can just move food around and spread it out like a squirrel hiding nuts all over the yard if they don’t care for it.

They could also quietly feed it to the cat or dog under the table like Maggie and I did at the home of some crazy british ladies in Kenya once, but we don’t have a cat or dog so that’s out. Continue reading

Invited, Part 1

One of my favorite times is in the hours before guests arrive at our front door and shed their hats and boots.

Some are nervously wary, like deer in the woods, others eagerly expectant, diving into hugs and conversation like happy golden retrievers.

IMG_2996

Before they arrive, I love the prep, the anticipation – the chopping of veggies and lighting of candles, the prayer that each person would feel our delight in them, the strategy considering flow and food.

IMG_2679

Hospitality is a gift I relish. I love connecting people around a table with thoughtful questions and laughter and meaningful conversation.

But whether the idea of opening your home makes you want to do a jig, or curl up in a fetal ball and hide, it’s still a spiritual practice.

We practice inviting because Jesus invites us.

As we include and gather and host, we mirror the image of God in us, welcoming all around His table.

Recently at a prayer gathering, we did this exercise. Continue reading

Refugees and Red Cups

Thanksgiving is a wrap, and it has finally snowed in Minnesota. It is the first Sunday in Advent. As I look out on the lake starting to slowly freeze, I write “Buy Christmas Tree” on my to-do list, but my mind is still reflecting on Thursday.

This was a “different” Thanksgiving for us. We were taken in as “refugees”, fleeing from a year of hard memories, looking for a different home in which to celebrate the holiday.

I looked down the long, long table filled with laughter and flickering candlelight, conversations amongst our “other family” and some people I’d never met before and I was so thankful.

IMG_2380

It was not the table of my hometown, not my immediate family, no brother David at the head, but still…we felt at home.

Because we were in a place of love and welcome and “There you are!”

There were hugs, and favorite dishes, “Tell me about…” and “I’m so sorry…”

You and I and those in refugee camps and on streets everywhere all long to be invited; to have a place at the table, to feel welcomed and loved and known. Continue reading

Soul Food When Everyone is Welcome

When I started doing “Soul Food Friday” I didn’t intend for it to just be focused on what happens around the table, but instead about everything that feeds our souls.

But truly, something very special happens when we show up as we are, and amidst half eaten chili or chicken we celebrate or cry or question.

We gather around a table, and when it’s good it’s messy, and real, and a little island of safety where our stories can be shared and God’s faithfulness recognized.

Everyone is welcome. Nobody’s perfect. Anything can happen.

So, this week…. Continue reading

Hungry

The other night I invited a bunch of young women over for snacky stuff and dessert, wine and coffee, candlelight, pumpkins, and “how are you’s?” They showed up looking like delightfully hip pulled-together young wives and moms.

DSC00919

Not everyone had met before, so we did some get-to-know-you stuff, but as the evening wore on, I felt a distinct nudge from the Holy Spirit. Truly out of “nowhere” I felt compelled to ask them to share a little about the season of life they’re in and the character quality of God that is most important to them today.

Now it would have been easy for them to open the door to their dusted and vacuumed “living room” like I had when I invited them into my home, but instead they were brave and authentic and before I knew it there were tears and prayers and a sense of feeding each other with love.

One way to feel stronger and less alone is to invite people into your really real life – into the rooms where things aren’t quite as neat and tidy as you might like.

When we’re vulnerable we remind each other that we’re all in the same boat, all dependent on the same Star-Shooter and Storm-Shusher, rocking along on the waves, looking for True North.

When we just share our shiny confident stories we tend to get compare-ish and competitive, but when we share our doubts and insecurities we hear “me too” and  find community.

People show up in our homes and in our lives hungry. But the food we share with each other isn’t always pumpkin bars. I opened my doors with a tiny “plan”, but I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit and some brave woman walked in and made it much more.

Let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way. 1 Samuel 28:22

Do you have places where you can share your real life? Are you creating safe places where others can open up?

Soul Food from a Full Week

It’s been a full week. In the best sense of the word.

It’s been full of moments when God just seems so present, and people are authentic, and joy is in the air like the woodsmoke from Autumn fires. Out of that fullness I want to share a few morsels of soul food that have been life-giving.

The other day when I wrote about Holy Drones, I referred to the (almost impossible for me) practice of being still before the Lord. Just silent and still…to become aware of His loving presence, closer than our breath.  I thought I’d share an app that has helped me. Note: you can set the amount of time for silence and I set mine for 3 minutes. That’s truly the most I can manage. I’m clearly not a natural contemplative!

screen322x572

I love, love, love good stories like this especially when it is men stepping up!

IMG_1471

And lastly, some hospitality inspiration…

We went to a couples wedding shower this weekend and I absolutely LOVED this is idea! The Bible was given to the couple at the end of the party, full of love.

FullSizeRender-33

Then Wednesday night I had a bunch of young women over for a get-together and I was blown away by their vulnerability and present-ness. I made a little favor for them to take with them because I really wanted these young women who are in a stressful season of life to feel special.

However, 2 DISCLAIMERS regarding the following idea:

  1. I TOTALLY stole the idea from my friend, Mo, and tweaked it a bit for my get-together. She did something like this for a wedding shower with “She picked him.” on the tag instead. Thanks, Mo!
  2.  I like doing this, and in my season I have more margin, BUT making this kind of crafty gifty thing isn’t for everyone or for every season and THAT’S OK! We all have different gifts (My house was dusty and weeds have overtaken my gardens). More important to be present and welcoming than have a gift! Also, I did homemade caramel, but you could do store-bought if you want to make it easier. IMG_1568IMG_1563

IMG_1567

 

What about you? Any soul food to share with the rest of us? What inspired you this week?

Older posts

© 2017 Laura Crosby

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑