Friday, July 21, 2017

9:37 PM 3

I seriously do not know why I even bother, to clean my floors, that is. Perhaps it is simply for that euphoric feeling that lasts approximately 30 minutes following an elbow-deep kind of cleaning day. Within those 30 minutes I relish the smell of Pine-Sol, because I have yet to make the switch to the all-natural, no nasty chemicals, no artificial colors or smells, totally safe, Instagram savvy colored organic cleaning solution. I am not knocking it, I just like my Pine-Sol and may be slightly annoyed that I have to contemplate "am I killing my children," every time I use it. 

In that short window of time I manage to convince myself that this time will be different. This time the house will stay clean all week. I will implement new rules and charts and everyone will joyfully and gladly pitch in as we manage to keep an immaculate home. It is about that time that Bear comes running straight through the living room, screen door slamming behind him, to declare that he has caught another fish and Fred follows quickly behind with his own set of muddy, squishy, dirt-infested feet that I awake from my day dream and start yelling, in a loving tone, of course, "have you lost your mind??"

But this particular day, the day that I want to write about, was much different. I saw a side of myself that gave me confidence in knowing that God has in fact been working on me all these years.

The date was July 5th, 2017, and the scene a very tired and slow moving "me" sweeping every square inch of my outdated white tile floors. Piles of dirt were collected all over the house, because I had yet to locate my dustpan. With each pile of dirt I began to notice that I was smiling as I swept. Like when someone catches you in mid-thought and you didn't realize that you were smiling. I managed to catch myself in that sort of moment, but why in the midst of such a mess was I smiling?

It wasn't the mounds of dirt that brought me satisfaction, but rather the cause behind the dirt, food, blankets, & coffee cups scattered all throughout our home.

The dirt came from the shoes of people I love, people I had just recently met, as well as people that share my blood. The voices of these special folks filled my home the night before as we sang praises to God.

The food was prepared and shared by those same hands and my tables, floor, and porches were all occupied as we broke bread together.

The blankets usually stacked high in a large corner basket were draped over couches and chairs reminding me of the precious friends who spent the night in my home.

The coffee, oh the endless pots of coffee, that were made and consumed until the wee hours of the morning as we played games and held discussions.

As I glare at the mess before me I cannot help but be thankful.

Zach and I both come from a long line of hospitality flowing down from both of our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Aunts, which would include Zach’s famous Aunt Kay. These womenhave all taught us a great deal about the importance of hospitality.

It was as though it was bred in us both to have a love for hosting, but so often this thing we believed to be "good" caused lots of "frustration" between us. How could that be?

I believe it was due to my own misunderstanding of what true hospitality meant. In the same way I often struggled with looking as though I "had it all together." I also carried that same mentality within my home. Everything had to be perfect. House, dishes, floors, decor, everything must be perfect and when Zach did not carry my same drive to get everything into place this would often cause tension leading to a fight. Fighting with your spouse right before company arrives never leads to the best of evenings, surely you can relate.

I realized early on that although I may have been bred to show hospitality, I was blind to the reason behind it all.

I had made it about me--imagine that? It was more about my decorating abilities and cooking skills rather than the people. It was about "the presentation" more than the sharing of lives.

My home was not a blessing, it was a museum of everything I held dear. Ouch.

I wish that I had some super cool story to tell you of how God changed my heart, but actually that is the cool story, GOD CHANGED MY HEART and it was a simple decision to say, I believe you.

Please do not misunderstand me, I love making my home pretty and inviting. I love fancy dishes, fresh flowers, yard sales, and everything being in order, but if having everything perfect remained the prerequisite for having people in my home then we would miss out on a lot of fellowship, because it is rare for me to have it all together. It would also eliminate those last minute "can I come over and talk" conversations because I would need at least a days notice to make our home presentable. Zach and I would miss out on the great blessing of sharing our home and our children would miss out on the many lessons that come with viewing your blessings as a means to show love to others as oppose to keeping them to yourself.

What you should know about hospitality and my home today.
• You may manage to catch me on a good day and find it immaculate, but it is unlikely. Either way, you are welcome.
• The smells from a home-cooked Southern meal might possibly linger out the door as you enter through the porch or the fridge could be completely bare, but either way coffee and conversation will always be available.
• I love candles, they cover a multitude of dirty laundry which is almost always lurking.
• I love quilts. Those who come to my home regularly know just where to find them. They are not for looks, but meant to be used.
• The size of your home is irrelevant. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much" Luke 16:10. One of my greatest memories took place in our single wide trailer packed wall to wall with young college kids thirsty for The Word.
• The dishes will be there tomorrow, typically your company will not, invest in them.
• Your things may in fact get broken or damaged, but those "things" will pale in comparison to the many hearts that will be changed by experiencing the love of Christ in your home.

P.S. Go ahead and bring in your dirt, because the Holy Spirit and Pine-sol will always be on hand to clean up your mess and mine.
This porch is waiting for ya! 
"Be hospitable to one another without complaint" 1 Pet 4:9

Thursday, June 1, 2017

6:42 AM 0

Dear Boys,

What I am about to write to you will go against the grain of everything you know about dating in the 21st century. It will require patience, commitment, and you will be ridiculed, but I am convinced that you are strong enough to endure. If you heed my words and obey my instruction you will not only save yourself from an immense amount of pain, but your reward will be of great value not only to yourself, but to your future wife and children as well. I am writing this because I love you, remember that.

How should you go about dating? Straight forward is the only way I know to put this, so bullet points it is.
  • You will ask her parents permission before you proceed to ask this young lady on a date. She is someone's daughter and her worth is of infinite value. It is best that you consider this before proceeding. Is this truly someone I am interested in pursuing,? and if so then this step should be worth the risk to you. 
  • If you are interested in a girl and have received her parents blessing then you must be willing to be rejected by her face to face or at the very least voice to voice.  You will not take the slum way out and text her "let's grab some grub, what ya say? 😉 #yourhot." You must have some skin in the game. Texting someone to ask them out on a date implies two things;    
1. I am not super interested in you, but if your answer is "yes" then cool, let's go for it. 

2. Just in case you say "no" then I don't want to have to endure through that awkward moment in person or awkward silence over the phone. I'll just cut my losses, erase the text, and move on to someone else.  

*NEWS FLASH: LIFE IS FULL OF REJECTION AND AWKWARD MOMENTS. It is best you learn to deal with them head on like a man.
  • If the above bullets turn out in your favor then you must plan an actual date and have the money to pay for it, I will not loan you money for dates. If you do not have the money then perhaps you are too young. Taking care of a woman can be quite expensive, but worth every dime if you choose wisely. The following is a simple template for you to follow to ensure that you have communicated effectively to both the girl and her parents.
I will pick you up at _______.
Our plan is to _________.
I will have you home by______.
  • You will be a man of your word and that is the plan you will follow. Communication and Trust are two of the most important aspects of a relationship and displaying both from the very beginning speaks volumes about the kind of man you are. Remember you are still carrying around someones daughter.
  • Finally, you will keep your hands where they belong. She does not belong to you, her parents have simply loaned her out for a short amount of time in your care.  You would be wise to understand that actually getting to know someone requires very little physical contact. If getting to know her is truly your goal, this should not be a problem. But spare no expense in making her feel safe in your presence. Hold the door open for her, guide her by the small of her back into a room (back, back I said, not below) and if she if comfortable with holding your hand then proceed. 
The WHEN and the WHY go hand in hand so I will cover these together.

"It is not good for a man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" Gen 2:18

You are looking for a HELPER.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were unashamed." Gen 2:24-25

You are looking for a WIFE.

There are two very important aspects of this verse that you must consider before you are ready to date.

1. You must be ready to leave the nest of our home, to provide for, to take care of, and to lead your wife.  You may likely have strong feeling towards a woman before you are able to take care of her, so what are you to do?  Simply be her friend, get to know her in a group settings, and pray that God will give you the patience of Jacob, a true love story (Genesis 29).  To begin dating her long before you are able to physically take care of her is only inviting temptation into both of your hearts that has the potential of preventing you from being "naked and unashamed."

2. You must be willing to guard your heart, to guard your eyes, and to guard your mind.
To even fathom being "naked and unashamed" in this over sexualized culture is hard for one to imagine, but it is possible for you my son.  It is possible if you will simply believe your Father.   

Believe Him when He tells you to FLEE and understand the "why" behind His request.
(1 Cor 6:18-20).

His desire for you is not meant to keep you from experiencing fun or fulfillment, quite the opposite in fact. God knows that once you "awaken" sexuality within multiple relationships outside of the marriage covenant then you are inviting shame into the deep places of your heart.  This would include a physical relationship as well as one that takes place via pornography.

Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed because neither of them had anything to compare the other too. There was no "right way" or "wrong way," they were sexually innocent and figured it out together with no fear of comparison. One of the greatest gifts that you could give to your wife is for her to know that she will not be compared to another, that she can be naked and unashamed. 

The ultimate goal of dating is for you to find a wife. "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord" (Prov 18:22).  This woman will become your helper and the mother of your children.  

As your mother, I pray for this woman daily.  I pray that God will grant you great discernment as you seek out the woman who will become your wife.  I pray that you will trust the words that I have written you and believe me when I tell you that marriage is a beautiful gift from God.  Within this union God desires to show you but a glimpse of His love through the blessing of loving someone unconditionally as well as becoming a father yourself one day.  Although I wish that it will come slowly, I do not mourn the day that you leave our home, because I trust and believe that God will be going with you along with all the gems of wisdom that the Holy Spirit has entrusted us to speak over you.  So my son, if you believe that you are ready to date then proceed to the "how" section of this post. Don't you dare try and take a short cut, I will call you out.



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