Thoughts on hospitality and the way of the beloved.

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I.

Nine months ago, I had just turned 25 and was desperately trying to navigate living in a new state with a new job in ministry with new people, and too much of my identity was wrapped up in trying to recreate myself into a person who was well liked -- a person who fit seamlessly into the role of just enough, whatever that looked like. Just enough edge, just enough grit, giving just enough of a glimpse to keep people intrigued and on their toes. On the inside, I felt lost, deadened.

I treated God much the same way, only giving him the pieces of myself that felt ready. He offered to come in and eat a meal with me, but I wanted him to call ahead. I couldn't have him walking in on me in my unfinished fig leaves, clawing at whatever mirage of control I thought I could grasp. What I didn't realize was that he was working all along, breaking the walls down brick by brick, and sometimes that's what miracles look like. Now, I know: I can look back and see him wooing me. And he is not a God who gives himself in pieces.

II.

I didn't see the way of beloved coming on the horizon, let alone understand what it had in store for me. I couldn't have, and perhaps that is the grace of it all. We don't know what tomorrow will bring and how love will choose to rush in. I used to fear that, and to be perfectly honest, I still do fear it on most days. But he knew, and he was already etching thanksgiving on my heart when I chose to etch it on my skin.

Lately, I've found myself praying hard for revival, for my own heart, for my marriage, for my friendships, for our church, and for the Body of Christ as a whole. I've wept in worship, asking for parted waters, a flood so uncontainable that it couldn't possibly be mistaken for anything other than a wave of the Spirit. I've been begging for a straight path into a promised land.

When you catch a glimpse of the way of the beloved, you want everyone you know to come with you.

III.

I took a spiritual gifts inventory through our church last week, knowing that one of two things would come out on top. I've always been told that I am an encourager, and I have always felt called to make people feel at home. In the end, in this particular inventory, hospitality took the top spot, much to my lack of surprise.

Hospitality is, at least in my experience and what I would venture to guess is yours too, most widely viewed as being the hostess with the mostess: the one who opens up their Pinterest pretty home and turns a cartwheel in shiny pumps to hand someone a gluten free bit of slaved over deliciousness without breaking a sweat. And everyone at the party talks about how fine they are.

But really, that's not the kind of hospitality my thirsty heart longs for. Dare I say that I'm betting that it's not the kind of hospitality you're looking for either?

I'm craving soul hospitality.

If there is a revival to be experienced, it won't be ushered in through our contrived attempts to mimic glossy magazine covers. We won't find it by closing the doors to our messy places.

Jesus didn't come and die so that we could simply make ends meet or just do okay or experience the same old stuff on a different day. He didn't give his life so that we could walk around with the prerecorded response of fine. 

Honestly, I'm not fine.

Neither is my best friend.

A boy in the apartment building next to mine took his own life last week.

The headlines scream war and hate and the world is not fine.

Our time here is so short and precious and we don't need any more occasions to wear our grave clothes.

IV.

We are broken, and we are broken for each other. We are poured out, and we are poured out for each other. This is the way of the beloved, the way of being transformed to the image of Christ, whose body was broken and poured out for us.

I need you now, and perhaps you need me. I don't have many answers, but I'm trying to learn how to become one.

Here I am, arms open, with all of my fear and trust issues and temptations and nervous quirks and baggage. And you are welcome here: welcome to cry, welcome to not hold anything back, welcome to start the brick by brick demolition of your own walls, welcome to walk in freedom just for freedom's sake.

I think I'm finally ready to unpack and call this place home.

When you're struggling to stay (#TheYearOfNoFear)

For the past several years, I've struggled to find my place in the world. IMG_0173-1024x683

I’ve battled long and hard with comparison. See, I am surrounded by the most beautiful people on a daily basis: people who are passionate about ending slavery and sex trafficking, people who minister to lost souls in the ghettos of Atlanta, who hold the hands of refugees and travel to distant corners of the earth, forsaking the privilege and comfort of North America in order to bring the most basic of those comforts to children with distended bellies and dusty bare feet. Some of my best friends are church planters and worship leaders and youth ministers. Even my husband is consistently praised for his amazing work on our church’s tech team.

And I have never felt called to any of that. In fact, the closest I’ve come to participating in foreign mission work is the pair of TOMS shoes I’m wearing today.

→ Join me over at The Year of No Fear

 

Come as you are (and a GIVEAWAY).

I've been learning a lot recently about hospitality. My friend Lindsey and I often joke about how we are not "pin-able." We don't post DIY projects or have home tours on our blogs. We work with words, and at the end of the day, we just pray that the dishes get done. Last week, I had to wash the same load of laundry three times because I had let it sour -- and don't even get me started on the ring around the bath tub, because it seems to be here to stay. home We have this idea that in order to be hospitable, everything must be perfect. There must be garland and a gallery wall and the aroma of fresh baked goods. We think that we must be perfect. But I'm discovering that it really doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

I look around my sweet friend Amy's home. Two decades worth of marriage and babies, one of which has been spent nestled in our sleepy north Georgia mountains. Tonight she has stoked the fire and opened her doors to a group of women for the second time. There is red velvet cake on the island in the kitchen, and the kettle whistles anxiously. I watch and listen as Amy speaks, her voice dripping with sweet grace, and I can't help but feel a sense of peace whenever I'm around her. I can feel her warmth, her joy, radiating from across the room.

And at one point, I gather up my courage and ask, so you just decided to do this for all of us? Her eyes sparkle. "Yes." She tells me that she loves having people in her home, and that if she had her way, she would never leave.

What I've realized is that true hospitality isn't about how many times your home tour will be pinned. It isn't even about red velvet cake (although, we could probably make a pretty compelling argument for this one).

Hospitality is creating space for people to come as they are.

Over coffee and crafts, Amy tells me that she still struggles with wanting to be all the things. Lindsey chimes in about the inevitable disappointment that takes over when she is overlooked for something -- even when it comes to the things she knows she doesn't have time to do. Leaning into the moment, I said that it must be God's grace that we are not chosen to do all the things.

It was His mercy, His loving-kindness, that sent Christ to hit the mark in our stead -- and yet even the physical person of Jesus did not heal every sick person. Sometimes He simply gives us strength to bear our crosses with grace.

He invites us to come as we are and and find rest for our weary and busted up souls.

He is still Emmanuel, God with us. 

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With the coming of December, we've entered the season of advent. The word advent simply means the arrival. As we anticipate His coming, our hearts are heavy. We yearn for the day when every tear will be wiped away. We have learned to survive in a culture of scarcity. We live every man for himself, slaving away to build the tallest towers. We try to do enough to make enough to be enough. We want to be all the things.

And Christ offers us rest. He offers an invitation to cease striving. He offers us a life of that which we were made for. All of Him is more than enough for all of us.

That, my friends, is revolutionary.

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Some dear friends of mine made this for you, and I'd love to send it to you, all wrapped up in time for Christmas.

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