Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Busy"ness is all too easy!

As much as I would love to be a regular blogger, other things seem to keep me from doing so! This past week we had a college student staying with us who used my computer to finish up a big school. It truly amazes me what life fills itself with....husband, family, people, cleaning, cooking, babysitting, organizing, sewing (yes! for me anyways...time is running short and I apparently have committed myself :P to making the baby bedding, accessories, ets.), sleeping, excercising, etc.

And to think that the Lord should permeate my thoughts in and through all those things. That's a hard thing to do and I must admit I fail miserably! That's why His Word needs to come first and foremost above all those things I listed above. The more I hide God's Word in my heart, then prayerfully the easier it will be not to sin and to dwell on glorifying the Lord. Please pray for me as I seek to rise early to meditate on God's Word. If I don't rise early, then it is so hard to keep my mind focused on the Lord and not on all the "tasks" that need to get done each day.

I still have one more post I would like to write concerning the hospitality retreat, but that is still going to have to wait due to much tiredness at the moment. I do want to say one thing before I go, though, and that is how thankful I am for the best friend the Lord gave me, and the joy I get from serving and being with him. Yes, that would be my husband! I am leaving to visit family this week, and that usually means precious time with my husband before we seperate (one of his unsaid "rules", and one that I greatly cherrish) So...thank you Aaron Douglas Johnson...for loving me when I don't deserve it...for sacrificing your own desires to meat my own...for pointing me to the cross...for listening and prying...for being such a fun person to be around...for telling my growing belly is beautiful...for flirting with me day after day. I love you!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family First!!!

In the midst of talking about hospitality, it is important to remember that our families should always be our primary sphere of influence. My husband and soon to be out-of-the-tummy- baby girl need to be the recipients of the majority of my ministry!

If taking care of my own home and family is not my priority, then my foundation for serving others is going to be shaky. How could my husband and I be united in wanting to serve others if my own husband's needs are not being met? "The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." (Prov. 31:11) There have been so many times where my service towards others leaves things in dissaray at home, or leaves dinner uncooked, or leaves me exhausted and unpleasent to be with. I understand that we need to be willing to sacrifice in order to serve others, but that doesn't mean we have an excuse to neglect our husband's and children's needs.

So, if you struggle in this area as I do, then here are some great areas to focus on growth in...

  • Refuse Idleness- There is NO secret to having a tidy home and being a good cook....It's HARD WORK!!
  • Practice Diligence- Planning can be incredibly helpful. Be industrious with your time (Prov. 6:6-11, 10:4)
  • Prepare your home- "Live in anticipation of guests." When Lisa said this, I thought "WOW". One of my biggest struggles is upkeep. My life would be so much easier if I would keep up with daily chores and keep the home husband would also be much happier :).
  • Plan for gracious service- this takes meditation in God's Words and much prayer. We need to plan for the unexpected and respond with gracious attitudes, remembering that the Lord is the giver of ALL things.

It's humbling to see how much I have to grow in, seeing as I have no children yet! I could sit here and get incredibly discouraged with my sin and lack of diligence or I could take one thing at a time. I think I will choose the second and strive to be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that my toil is not in vain!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Enthusiastically Pursue Hospitality

I used to think that I love hospitality.... I love cooking and having people over and opening my home! The Bible commands us to to practice hospitality (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:1-2), so as a believer who wants to live in obedience to the Lord, we should most definitely be practicing hospitality! But I had to laugh when I learned last weekend that I wasn't really practicing hospitality (biblically speaking) nearly as much as I thought I was, because I didn't really know what it meant!

Over the next few days I want to share with you some of the main things I took away from Lisa Tatlock at our women's retreat, but I can't hardly cover everything....SO, I would GREATLY encourage you to listen to her three messages here(start with the bottom message first, and work your way up). I will forever be changed (by God's grace) by the wonderful truths in scripture that she opened my eyes to. Here are some of the things from my notes.

"Hospitality means loving strangers." That is the biblical definition of hospitality, and one that I was ignorant of. Who are strangers?

  • Fellow believers (Rom. 12:3; 1 Tim. 3:2; Heb. 13:1-2)
  • Widows and orphans (1 Tim. 5:1-16)
  • unbelievers (Luke 5:29; Acts 5:42)
  • the poor and needy (Luke 14:12-14)
  • missionaries, christian workers, pastors (Matt. 10:9-11; Luke 10:7-16; Acts 16:15)
  • foreigners, immigrants, or refugess--also called "aliens" (Gen 18:1-22; Lev. 25:35)

Wow! For me this is huge! We often have friends over and even people from church we don't know so well and want to get to know better, but strangers? People I don't know? People who may have needs or may not even know the Lord? I don't usually think of having people over for the purpose of meeting needs, spiritual encouragement, sharing the gospel, providing a place to stay, sharing my possessions, etc. But this is true ministry!

"Hospitality is a lifestyle, not an event." When Lisa made this statement, I knew it was a quote I will never forget, and one I want to live out. Did you know that? Hospitality is a day to day practice that we should be involved in, not a once a week event in our home! I never realized this! I should always be looking for opportunities to meet the needs of others. I need to be enthusiast and joyful in serving the needy. Aaron and I need to be willing to cheerfully give of all that God has given us. I will end today with this passage that blew me away. This is not usually what you see in the church today, but it starts in our individual lives...

Acts 4:32-37 "And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet."

Not only do my things belong to the Lord, but because they belong to the Lord, they also belong to fellow believers, and yes, maybe even strangers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Catching Up...

Whew....what a whirlwing of a month. These past few weeks have been busy, but I suppose that was an answer from the Lord to my prayer. I asked Him to give me opportunities to serve and things to do during the week as I was trying to live life again after being sick! Well...He doesn't mess around! :)

I am not a consistent blogger ( may happen someday) so it would be disasterous to try and catch you up on everything, but I will do a quick fastforward through these past few weeks, just so I can start with with a fresh slate!

I left off with Easter...that week I began to feel sick, but the Lord was gracious in holding that off for the week, as my husband and I got to take our first mini vacation away...just the two of us!!! Yeah! What a blessing of time away from life, resting, and having wonderful conversations about the Lord and life. I went to Sea World for the first time, and we had a blast! Here are some pics to show you some of the fun things (although pictures never do justice) we did at Sea World.
Aaron and I got to feed the stingrays! They have rubbery soft skin and eat by sucking in water with the food! It felt funny!
This sea lion swam across a swimming pool and jumped over a rope above the swimming pool...all while balancing this ball!
The whale shows where by far my favorite. Amazing what God created these mammals to do!!
The man dissapeared with the whale under the water...this is how they reappeared!
Aaron holding a startfish :)

After Sand Diego, my cold(flu) came on strong....then it turned into a very soar throat and painful cough. I'm sure some of you if not all of you have had your share of sickness during these months. It's an interesting thing...having so much you want to get done just around the house, and at the end of your day, only a few things can get crossed off the list. That is how I felt for two weeks straight, and it was incredibly humbling. Praise the Lord my husband was sympathetic and new I was doing my best. A lot of the energy I did have went towards planning the music for our church women's retreat, which was last weekend.

I wouldn't have made it through last week if it wasn't for the sweet assurance of God's sovereignty! I knew that being sick, not being able to sing well, and feeling feverish and exhausted was exactely what the Lord wanted to give me for the women's retreat. I myself couldn't have picked a worst time, but the Lord saw it to be the best! And it's not hard to see why. God has been teaching me contentment in ALL circumstances, and apparently isn't done teaching me that. He is teaching me that his grace is sufficient and that He is my true source of strength. It was a couple days before I started to feel better, but I am definitely recovered, minus a lingering cough.
We babysat Fri-Sat of this weekend, and then celebrated my first Mother's Day today. I never would have thought to do so, but my husband said I am most surely a mother! It was really sweet and made me ever more thankful for his constant love and care for me!
We have picked out a name for our sweet little baby GIRL (Yes!! It's a girl!) and we were going to keep the name a secret, but have since decided that is pointless for two people who don't really like keeping secrets! :) So, I will let you know the name once I know all my family knows.
Alright, well this is quite a long update, so I will wrap it up now! More to come on the topic of the women's retreat! It was incredibly convicting and eye opening. The topic was Biblical Hospitality- The Joy of Serving Others. Did you know that "practicing hospitality" in scripture means "pursuing the love of strangers," not just entertaining your friends from church!? This is just one of many new things I learned, and I will share much more in the days to come.
Romans 12:10-13
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.
(sorry for all the spacing wierdness....I tried to fix it many times, but my computer has a mind of its own)