A Blog to Read

Just a little note on this Saturday. I found a really helpful blog this week about the subject matter of my blog Monday and Tuesday – hospitality. The blog is entitled, “4 Reluctant Entertainers.” The subtitle reads, “Real entertaining for Real People.”

The blog is full advice about making entertaining simple. There is lots of encouragement to rid the excuses we use for not being hospitable and to help alleviate the fears. She also has recipes and other ideas that are very practical. There are lots of pictures to aid her teaching. I thought I’d pass this special blog on to you. I’ve really enjoyed it and thought you might too!

Here’s an excerpt from her blog:

Sometimes I’m just too tired to think about other people, let alone open up my home to them. Some of the “joy stealers” and the excuses that often run through my head are:
* I really don’t need anyone
* My life is full enough
* I’m just too busy
* It costs to entertain
* My house isn’t adequate
* I need to look the part (Marthaidious Lie)

For others it might be:
* It’s too risky to open myself to family and others

* I’ll look foolish if I reach out
* My house is always cluttered
* I’m a horrible cook
* It’s too hard with kids
* I’m not a good conversationalist
* I need to be a couple
* It’s too much work after a long day
* My spouse isn’t interested in entertaining
* I’m just not spontaneous enough
* I am fearful and freeze up, just thinking about it
* It’s always a disaster
* I’m too much of a perfectionist

I wonder which one of these rings true with you?I know that I get the JOY sucked out of me at times, because I want things to look a certain way.What if we all pasted this quote on our front doors? “If you want to see us, come on over; if you want to see our house, make an appointment.”

I hope I’ve piqued your interest!

Have a blessed time in church Sunday. Show some hospitality there too!


(Cont.) Being a Discerning Woman

A couple of years ago our church graciously gave my husband a 40-day sabbatical that started on Christmas Eve. During the first week of January we went to a lovely mountain home in South Carolina to rest. This home was located high up in an area known as “The Cliffs.” We were staying at the end of a section of homes at the end of the road. We could look out the large windows in the house and see the tiny lights of the houses below us twinkling in the darkness.

The weather was quite blustery; the wind was howling when we unloaded our belongings from the car and the snow was flying. After we got our things moved into the house, my husband headed back down the mountain to go get our younger daughter who had been staying the week with her sister. He would be gone about an hour and a half.

While he was gone I made supper and then put it in the oven to stay warm until they returned. I then decided that this would be a good time to snuggle into the comfy sofa with a cup of hot tea and work on a Bible study I was doing. The wind continued to howl outside the windows as I studied, banging things against the house and making all kinds of imaginary people stomp right outside my doors! Then the wind got so strong that the power flickered, then went out! I put my hand up in front of my face and couldn’t even see it! It was pitch black! I grabbed my cell phone and hit the power button to activate the light, then ran into the kitchen to look for a candle and matches. Aha! Here was a lovely scented candle up on the counter. Matches…matches….? Nowhere. Then I remembered that the stove was gas. I got the wick lit at the burner, then made my way back over to the sofa relieved at the light this little candle brought to my very dark situation!

That illustration is what discernment does in our lives – it brings light to an uncertain situation. Discernment is the ability to distinguish between two things using the wisdom of God’s Word. Discernment allows us to see issues clearly. We so desperately need to cultivate discernment so we will know light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement and principles from pragmatics.

How does a person get discernment? You ask God for it. Ask Him for it before you get into a crisis. It would have been better for me if I’d have prepared for the storm before the lights went out! If only I had gotten the candle lit prior to the crisis moment of darkness I wouldn’t have been so frightened. We can’t plan for a crisis in our lives, but we can prepare ahead of time by seeking God’s face for discernment from His Word. We must store it up in our hearts so it will be ready when those moments come that threaten to shake us at the very foundation of our faith. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that a prudent person looks ahead and sees the possible danger in a situation and they do what they can to avoid it, but the foolish person plunges ahead and suffers the consequences.

One wise way to prepare ahead of time is to memorize Scripture. We will all face death at some time, in the life of a loved one, or our own. What Scripture do you know by memory that will sustain you at that time? If you’re married you know you need God’s wisdom to be a godly wife. What passages are you meditating on when it gets hard to love your husband? We are all tempted to fly off the handle and “give so-and-so a piece of our mind.” What do you tell yourself from God’s Word when that temptation comes? Ladies, storms are coming. We must prepare ahead of time so we’ll have the Light for the darkness!

Abigail responded to her husband and to David in a way that was consistent with her heart. She didn’t fall apart, come unglued, or go have a crying spell. She acted in a wise discerning way. Nabal never changed, and the fool in our life may never change either. But we can remain a pure, courageous, discerning woman that glorifies the Lord even in the midst of a crisis.

By the time my husband and daughter got back to our mountain retreat the lights had come back on, though they continued to flicker often. There was nothing to fear now though- there were lit candles throughout the house. I wouldn’t be caught unprepared again. I pray that I’ve learned that same lesson in my spiritual life!

Dealing with the Fools in Your Life – Part 4

A Discerning Woman
How many times yesterday were you needed by someone? Perhaps you felt the tug of a child pulling at your clothes, your cell phone was ringing with someone who needed a question answered or a favor done, co-workers were calling for your assistance, your husband was down the hall calling your name. These kinds of interruptions are common for us as women, but at times they can push us to our breaking point and we respond violently to the one that added the proverbial last straw to our load.
In verses 14-17 of I Samuel we meet Abigail who has one of her husband’s servants running to her to ask her to intervene on her foolish husband’s behalf. The servant tells her what had transpired between David’s servants and Nabal when they requested the provisions that were rightfully theirs. They had served Nabal’s shepherds in the field and were entitled to a gift from Nabal, but instead of a gift David received insults and anger. The servant explained to Abigail that now trouble was to come to Nabal’s house if something wasn’t done.
The fact that the servant went to Abigail rather than Nabal tells us that he knew he couldn’t speak to Nabal about this. Proverbs 23:9 says, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.” The servant knew that Nabal wouldn’t listen to anyone. He realizes that Abigail is one with wisdom in the family. I wonder how many times Abigail had been asked by others to step in and fix a problem her husband had created? Perhaps something else had already occurred that day. Now here she is being asked to take care of another mess that foolish Nabal had made. The servant knew he could go to Abigail. She was approachable.
Do you have the reputation of being approachable? Do people know you’re a wise woman and they can come to you because you will handle things wisely? Do your children know they can come to you in a conflict or crisis and that they can talk to you? If your husband or perhaps your boss has a grievance with you are you approachable? Or do people know you’ll fly off the handle, out of control? Proverbs 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” We need to be still and allow the person that comes to us to speak. Our responsibility at that point is to listen – not interrupt with our excuses or accusations. If we answer before we’ve heard the whole matter we are foolish and will be brought to shame, just like Nabal.
In verse 14 the servant tells Abigail that Nabal “railed” on David’s men. It means that he was screaming at them. It means to swoop upon, to dart greedily. He’s a mad man going wild with anger. If we find ourselves behaving like this in the midst of life’s circumstances, we need to stop and realize we hare behaving like a fool.
Some doctors in Gables, Florida did a study on 18 men with coronary artery disease. They ran them through some strenuous physical stress tests while monitoring their hearts. Then they gave them three mental stress tests. At one point they were asked to recall an incident that had made them very angry and give a short speech defending themselves. Using sophisticated X-ray techniques, the doctors took pictures of the subjects’ hearts and saw that anger reduced the amount of blood that the heart pumped to the body tissues more than any of the physical tests. Anger can effect us in so many ways. Anger is deadly in any relationship – a marriage, the body of Christ, in a friendship or work relationship. Now we also see it can be deadly even to our physical body. When you’re in a situation that angers you stop and take a breath…breathe in, breathe out, so you don’t blow up!
In verse 15 the servant tells Abigail that he can’t even understand why Nabal was so angry because when David’s men were with them nothing was missed from their belongings. Nothing had been stolen; indeed, the men had been good to them. In other words, there wasn’t anything that could have provoked Nabal to anger. There’s is no good reason for Nabal’s poor behavior. We look at that and we shake our heads and are sure we’d never behave like that! But wait, we may not fly off the handle, but what if our child comes to us and asks, “why?” for the 100th time today? Or just as we’re settled into our scrap booking project we hear our husband’s voice call out to us to come help him with the project he’s working on, and we turn on him with clenched teeth, a sigh of desperation, or rolled eyes. He did nothing to provoke us, the child is totally innocent in his question, but we turn and “rail” on them. We may not be screaming, but our eyes are screaming. Our spirit is yelling. We have turned into a Nabalish character.
Perhaps you’re saying, “I didn’t do that yesterday. Instead I was the one that was turned on viciously! I didn’t provoke, but I got anger thrust at me!” How are we to respond when we deal with people that act foolishly? Look at Abigail. She’s caught between two angry men, yet she doesn’t respond with anger. Both of these men were hurling out ugly things, but Abigail responds true to what’s in her heart. We do not have to respond in the same way as the fool – we can remain a woman of character and discernment.
…Tomorrow’s post will discuss how to be a discerning woman.

Worry, Worry Worry

There are some mornings that I am up doing my usual routine and there’s a gentle nagging inside. It isn’t always recognizable, but it causes me to be uneasy, even grouchy – not a pretty thing by any means! When my girls were small we listened to LOTS of Patch the Pirate music. There was one song called, The Worry Warthog. The chorus says, “Yes I’m a worry warthog, I worry every day. I worry, worry, all my time away. And if you want to look like me just fear and fret and snort, and very soon you’ll wake up with a great big worry wart!”

This described me recently. Not sure what it was that nagging at me I got my coffee and headed with my Bible to my quiet place. I was doing a Bible study on having a peaceful heart (no coincidence!).

The Bible study book had me read passages about times when Jesus was in a stormy time – the death of Lazarus and the people’s weak faith in Him, the betrayal of Judas, praying in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his arrest leading to His death on the cross. As I read these passages it was brought to my attention that Jesus had been sorrowful, in tears, in agony of spirit. None of these responses to His storms were sinful. The author reminded its readers that it’s okay to feel troubled about situations we’re in, however, if that troubled feeling is worry that is a sin.

How do we know if it’s worry that we’re experiencing and not one of the other emotions previously mentioned? She made it very clear – “Disciplined thought moves in a straight line through a tangle of difficulties to possible solutions. Worry is a swirling tornado of thoughts centered on a fear. They repeat themselves over and over, making you dizzy but accomplishing nothing else. When fretful thoughts begin to sound familiar, that’s worry.”

When I read that suddenly the Holy Spirit put His finger on that uneasiness in my heart – it was worry. My husband and I had been discussing something the day before that had my heart fretful and worrisome. One of the passages I studied that morning was Matthew 6:24-33 reminding me of God’s great care for His creation. What peace this brought to my heart. Yes, I can trust God to care for our needs; He is faithful. When I don’t believe this truth I John 5:10 says that I am actually calling God a liar! I asked the Lord to forgive me for worrying about this and gave it to Him that morning. I will believe and not doubt. Gone was the irritating uneasiness replaced by His sweet peace.

Is there something in your life today that has your thoughts twirling like a tornado – doing only damage? God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and He will provide for you whatever it is you’re in need of today – strength, wisdom, provisions, faith, grace…it’s readily available in vast supply!

You’re wondering if my grouchiness left too – pretty sure it did. You can’t be a grouch when you’re back in fellowship with the Lord!


Big Hearted, Low-Budget Hospitality

Being hospitable doesn’t have to cost lots of money. The most important thing is your attitude about having guests in your home. They’ll know if you’re happy they are there!

Often the more simple the refreshments are, the more at ease your guests will be. Let’s consider the popcorn end of the Popcorn and People theme. If you buy regular popcorn rather than the pre-packaged microwave popcorn it’s even cheaper and you can dress up a couple different kinds! Here are a couple recipes I found –

Nacho Popcorn
1 t. paprika

1/2 t. crushed red pepper (flakes)
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/3 C. butter, melted
10 C. warm popped corn
1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, red pepper, cumin and butter. Microwave until butter melts. Set aside while you pop the corn. Gently toss butter mixture with the popped corn, coating evenly. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over seasoned corn, tossing to coat evenly.

Microwave Caramel Corn

2 microwave popcorn bags,
popped (plain white works best)
1 C.. brown sugar
1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
1/4 C. white corn syrup
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda

Place popped corn into large brown paper grocery bag.
Place brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in medium glass bowl and place in microwave on highest power. Microwave 1 minute. Stir. Microwave another minute. Stir. Microwave 1 more minute, or until bubbly. Stir. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir. Mixture will change consistency.
Pour over popcorn in brown bag. Close bag and place in microwave on full power for 1 minute. Remove and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Microwave 1 more minute. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Microwave another minute. Shake 30 seconds. Dump onto waxed paper and let cool. Break up large chunks. Store in sealed container or zippered plastic bag.
Makes about 5 cups.

A favorite treat of my family’s is fried donuts. They’re so inexpensive, yet they are simple and are delicious. Take a can of refrigerated biscuits and cut the hole out of the middle using a melon baller. Drop the dough into hot oil for about 2 minutes per side. Drain onto paper towel-lined cookie sheets. Roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture and place on platter.

When the grocery store has watermelon on sale that makes a great snack. It’s also easy on the waistline! Other good fruits like a platter of grapes or strawberries make a nice choice for entertaining. Serve apple slices in the fall with caramel sauce for dipping.

A cheese dip and tortilla chips are also inexpensive and well liked. Go here for a great low-fat recipe.

A reader left a good tip on yesterday’s post. Check it out and be sure to leave your good ideas for entertaining here!


Popcorn and People

A new ministry was introduced to our church congregation last night – Popcorn and People. The significance behind this ministry is getting church families together in one another’s homes for a simple time of fellowship, with something as simple as popcorn being served. My husband talked about the call to hospitality, Romans 12:9-13. We’re to show kindness to strangers. The attitude of hospitality as in I Peter 4:8-10 is to do it without grumbling. The motivation of hospitality is Christ. The blessings of hospitality that he mentioned were numerous, and if you’ve been the recipient of a home that has displayed this gift to you I’m sure you could list some yourself.

I have a little booklet that I purchased many years ago in the bookstore of The Wilds Christian Camp. It’s entitled, “Around My Kitchen Table”, by Lorraine Strohbehn. In the booklet she shares the blessing of her kitchen table being used as a primary source of family times, discipling of young women, of doing crafts there, and of hospitality. One paragraph in this section reads,

“Many families are not comfortable having guests in their home. The reasons they are using are, first, that they are too busy, and second, it costs too much. Scripture does not seem to make those exceptions. Remember, we give the most to whatever is most important to us. Scripture clearly tells us to have guests in our home. This makes a difference in our children and family. We can have a rich ministry to others by making them welcome in our home.”

Sometimes people also argue that their house isn’t in order and they wouldn’t want to invite people in to see it in disarray. I’ve found that having guests is a really good motivator for me. Often the things that I would have let go until another time got put up on my priority list because I was having guests staying in my home. Let someone stay in your bedroom one night and watch how motivated you’ll be to do some good thorough cleaning and organizing! Of course for a Popcorn and People fellowship no one will be back in your room, so the main rooms would be the ones to target and straighten up. No one’s going to come in with a white glove, so there’s no need for a spring cleaning. A vacuum and dust rag should do it!

I’m in no way a professional at having guests, but I had a really good teacher in my mom. Some things I’ve noted about her way with hospitality are:

  • She thinks about the needs of her guests – Will they be thirsty? Hungry? Need a meal or snack?
  • She keeps things on hand that she could offer for drop-in company. Her pantry is a favorite place to her family company. It’s full of all kinds of good treats! Bottled water or soft drinks are stashed away for guests. The freezer often holds cookies or ice cream that could be served.
  • She does things in a beautiful way, but keeps her guests feeling comfortable.
  • She doesn’t mind going to the grocery bakery and purchasing something prepared. I’ve found that the stores’ bakery departments often have baked goods on sale and you can buy a cake, cupcakes, muffins or cookies for what it would cost you to make them.
  • She does things ahead of time so it seems that her labor is effortless. This makes the guest not feel that they’re putting a burden on the hostess.

Tomorrow I’ll post about some inexpensive foods to serve (besides popcorn, which is a favorite snack of mine!). Meanwhile if you have any ideas, recipes, or thoughts on being hospitable be sure to leave your comments here for us to read!


Mayonnaise Biscuits

While making yeast rolls today for Sunday’s dinner I flipped through an old cookbook and found a recipe that I made often when I was first married. I made them a lot probably because of two things:

  1. They are cheap
  2. They don’t require rolling out – I wasnt’ so good at that at first!

It’s also a nice recipe to have in case you run out of Crisco and need biscuits for supper. Here it is:
Mayonnaise Biscuits

1 cup self-rising flour*

1/2 cup milk

2 tbl. mayonnaise (not salad dressing)

Mix and fill 6 greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees until brown (app. 15 min.)

*If you don’t have self-rising flour, simply add 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt to each cup of flour the recipe calls for.