Friday, January 27, 2012

Hospitality Rest

I'm not a fan of parties or any kind of large social event. Crowds - I can handle those. I just blend in and no one notices me. But oh my, do not put me into a room full of folks and tell me to mingle. I can do it. I can turn on the smile and cue the polite small talk, but at the end of the event I am absolutely exhausted.

I love people though, I crave time with people, particularly "my" people. I rest when I'm with them in small settings, just me and the other person. These past few weeks I've had the opportunity to spend time with some of "my" people. And it was truly restful. I went to see a friend last weekend and loved my time with her family, but the best moments were the early morning hours when she was feeding her 3 month old and it was just the three of us on her couch. Sweet conversation. Restful conversation.

Sometimes I think we buy into the idea that we have to "get away" to truly rest. Here are some of my favorite places to escape to:

Asheville, North Carolina - near where I grew up.

Topsail Island, North Carolina - inland waterway

Getting away for a weekend or even a long vacation certainly has a place in life - sweet rest can be found in those times too.

But what if you could "get away" in your own home?

Or provide a "get away" for someone else? 

Hence... hospitality rest.

Are your heart and your home places that invite your people to rest? Can they breathe a sigh of relief when they sit with you? Do you breathe a sigh of relief when you sit with them? 

I am blessed to have friends who do this for me. I can let my guard down, talk about anything, or say nothing at all and just... rest. With the hurried lives we lead in this 21st century we need to create time and space for this kind of rest - for ourselves and for others. 

Nothing gives me more joy that opening my little home to others. I am giddy that another friend is on her way today. She's been providing a lot of support to her family lately and she needs to "get away." I will wash the sheets, stock the fridge, vacuum, and dust. She will rest well in my little house. But more importantly, I will pray for our time together and in doing so create a comfortable place for her soul to rest and recharge. 

How do you create hospitality rest for yourself and others?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Over the past year I have rediscovered my family. I have always loved them - always. But it has been a particularly challenging year for all of us. I'll tell you more about that in another post.

My mom and dad are older. They had me when they were in their 40s. I have always thought growing up with older parents, aunts, and uncles was rather interesting. My parents aren't Baby Boomers, they were born in the later years of the Great Depression. My dad saw his grandfather lose his store. They lived through sugar rations and World War II. There's a depth of understanding and wisdom from their life experience that amazes me at times.

On New Year's Day, my mom, sister, and niece returned with me to my home so that we could watch a women's basketball game at my school. My mom is a huge Tennessee/Pat Summitt fan and I was able to get some great seats for a game. We had such a fabulous time. We laughed, ate great food, enjoyed a great game, and truly rested in the security of our relationships. I know that may sound really cheesy - but it's the sweetest times with your family when there's no undertone of tension or strife, when you're completely free to rest in who you are and who they are.

My dad is staying with me this week. I love that he is here with me. We have not said much to each other today because I've been working on a beastly paper. But there is such comfort in having him close. I've had the pleasure of hearing the pro football playoff games and other sporting events throughout the day. Nothing takes me back to childhood and times with my dad like the background noise of sports. It always makes me smile. We'll play chess later in the week when I've got this paper behind me. He is wicked good.

My sister will come down on her spring break in a few months. That will be a precious week too. She'll cook all sorts of fabulous things and make my life so much more pleasant while she's here. We'll laugh at goofy things I say (she's right, my brain shuts off away from campus) and we'll watch our favorite shows after dinner. We'll talk excitedly about the family beach trip coming up in May and imagine ourselves relaxing in the sun. After my niece was born she revived the annual family beach trip to Topsail Island, NC. Oh my - I'm so glad she did. And she is literally the most thoughtful person I know. Most of my favorite gifts are from her.

And then there's my precious niece. She deserves an entire post all to herself. For now I will tell you that she should have her own variety show. She could give a monologue that would rival Leno, carry on an adult conversation with any guest, do a craft with Martha Stewart (or lead the audience through her own), and then educate us on a host of wild animal guests. She is absolutely the dearest child I know and I cannot get enough of her.

So here's to family. I hope you rediscover your own families this year and soak up every single minute you get with them. May you carry all the good memories close to your heart, forgive all the bad ones and put them away, and live expecting them to surprise you in the sweetest ways.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Found on the West Coast

Look closely at this picture and you'll notice that I took part of the sky to make the header for my blog.

I took this picture in Lincoln City, Oregon in June of 2007. I had an opportunity to study at Western Oregon University for four weeks. I grew professionally during that time, learning from the country's leading experts in the field of deafness, hearing loss, and rehabilitation. But oh my... the things I learned personally were far greater.

My husband, always up for adventure and travel, flew out to stay with me for almost a week of my time there. We celebrated our third anniversary while he was there. I took this picture after our anniversary dinner. I had never seen anything like it. The beach was wide and full of this beautiful driftwood - and then that sunset.

Sights like that call out a deep sense of peace. And rest. Maybe because I know only Someone with higher ways and higher thoughts could have created such beauty.

My husband and I spent a lot of time traveling the Pacific Coast Highway later that week. It remains one of the best trips we've taken. But you know what I remember most about the time he spent with me?

The realization of how well my husband knew me. The kind of knowing that showed itself in seemingly small ways - yet my heart overflowed.

I was staying in a dorm while I was there. Four people to a suite, 4 small bedrooms, two bathrooms, and kitchen/living space. I had brought just few things to make my weeks there a tad more homey, but not much. One day while I was in class my husband went shopping and bought me candles, a few kitchen items, and (get ready - this is the big one)...

foaming handsoap for my bathroom.

Yes, my heart melted at handsoap. Why? Because I had never told my husband I preferred foaming handsoap. I just bought it every now and then. The kind with pretty flowers or other designs that matched the bathroom decor. He just noticed over the course of three years that I must like that. And when he saw my dorm room bathroom void of anything "pretty" with only a small bar soap by the sink - well, that just had to be fixed.

I cried. Not that day, later after he flew back. After I realized Who else really knew me.

So this knowing called out a deeper Knowing in the three weeks I had left in Oregon. I spent some of the most precious time with God. I read Captivating:  Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge. Oh my... I never knew how perfectly designed I was in His eyes. I never knew the life saving power I could have in my husband's life. I honestly had never considered how much I was Loved - Perfectly Loved. And in all of this Love I was Known and I was Found.

Found lovely
Found complete
Found accepted
Found in His image

Oh how my soul was flooded with love, peace, and rest - such sweet rest in knowing what He really thought about me.

And then I thought about my husband and how much he knew me and cared for me. And I was overwhelmed with the sense of being loved like Christ loved the church. Through handsoap of all things!

So I called my husband from that tiny dorm bedroom and I gushed about what I was realizing. How God loved me and created me. How divine the marriage relationship truly was. How much I needed his love. And that he was truly loving me God's way.

So this Finding started a while ago - long before the Friday I mentioned in my first post. I'm sure as I think about this more I'll begin to see the path this Finding has taken throughout my life.

And then one day, I'll know even as I am fully known. But until then... oh how exciting all this Finding is going to be.

Do you remember times when you've been Found?

Friday, January 6, 2012


I have always loved Fridays.

In elementary school they meant eating out with the promise of cartoons the next morning. In high school Fridays meant no immediate homework pressure and sleeping late. As a young professional, the end of the week meant a break from the pace of keeping up with two jobs - I only had one job to go to on Saturday. As a young married woman Fridays were date night:  dinner out, a movie, long meaningful talks, and the joy of making breakfast for us the next morning. For a brief period later in marriage, Fridays meant dinner with my family while my husband worked the night shift on patrol with the city police. A little later Friday date night returned. And then I moved five hours away from everyone and everything I knew.

I moved to pursue a doctorate in a field that I loved. My husband and I bought our first home and it was precious. It was the perfect starter home, just the right size for two, cute kitchen with my dream fridge, large master, an attic, a backyard, shrubs, and a Bradford pear in the front yard. I would work as a graduate assistant and have the same income I had at my previous full time job. He would surely be hired soon by the local police department and join me on this new adventure. That was over 30 months ago. He is still there and I am still here. The job market has not opened up so that my husband can move. And I am still working on the degree.

Most of the Fridays in between have been a far different experience indeed.

Fridays took on a harsh new identity. While they meant the end of the work/school week, they did not have the relief of homework pressures. No, Fridays meant the beginning of reading, writing, and studying. I could certainly relax a bit that first evening, but there was often no one to share it with. I could sleep late, but there was often no one to make breakfast for or sip coffee with on Saturday. And so Fridays morphed and became days of dread filled with loneliness, despair, doubt, fear, anger, and confusion culminating in torrents of tears.

Until September 30, 2011 - the Friday I was found.

I had taken the day off work because I was emotionally exhausted from my week. On Thursday I had argued like an idiot (yes that’s what I said – an idiot) with my husband, shouting my loneliness and despair - living out of a misery-loves-company reality. A scenario that had replayed countless times as if cued from YouTube.

But He still found me.

I cried out to Him and He met me in a mighty way. I had been reading Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl for a few weeks. She talks a lot about being found – as opposed to hiding. His words through her were ruminating. I had also been reading Beth Moore’s Breaking Free:  Day by Day. She talks a lot about freedom – as opposed to bondage. His words through her were also ruminating.

Finally, it all came together. Truth broke through the lies.

He reminded me of who I was:
His beloved
His bride

And because of that, I could hold my head high  – no matter what.

This was Truth. A fact. Unarguable.

No life circumstance would change this. No amount of time living alone would lessen it. Obtaining a degree would not intensify it. Days of doubt and unbelief would not take it away. Mountaintop experiences of faith would not make it more true.

It was simply the Truth. All I had to do was believe it.

“Believe even when you do not feel. Know even when you do not see. He gave the life of His Son to demonstrate His love and power. The time has come to believe.” 
Beth Moore, Breaking Free:  Day by Day

Suddenly Fridays began to take on new hope, new promise, new life, and…

Rest, sweet rest.

Rest in knowing who I really was.

Now I can’t say that I’ve lived in a perpetual state of belief and rest since then. No, I’m still human. I still pick unnecessary fights with my husband. I still seek validation in the latest romantic comedy, compare myself to other women, and long for what I don’t have. I still exchange the truth for a lie.


I no longer think those ridiculous choices define who I am.

Instead, I am reminded of being found on a Friday.

Would you join me here on Fridays, and maybe even some days in between to talk about being found? To find rest in knowing who you really are.