myMISSION Blog

Extraordinary Blessings in Ordinary Places

I like to consider myself a person who delights in the simple pleasures of life. A cup of coffee in the morning, a hug from a friend, or an afternoon spent driving with my windows down can lift my spirits more than an expensive trip to a spa or any sort of “retail therapy.”

Recently the Lord has been teaching me to see these small comforts as they are meant to be seen: as blessings from Him. Second Corinthians 1:3 says God is the “God of all comfort” and James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” So it is obvious that any happiness we derive from the little things, as long as they are free from sin, comes as a gift from the Lord.

Summer Opportunities Abound

How’s your summer going? Have you been busy? What kinds of opportunities have you had? Have you served in a ministry? Participated in a missions project of some kind? Maybe Vacation Bible School or a community event? Is your schedule full? Are you running ragged? Or perhaps you’re at the beach—finally resting—feet propped up, sun block on, and cold lemonade in hand. Mmm, I can almost taste it. . . . Rest is a good thing, too! Wherever we find ourselves this summer, opportunities abound.

I love the summertime. It has a different feel. Feet in the sand, sun on our faces; even if we’re working, running errands, or taking care of others, we can sometimes sense an energy with more hours of daylight and time to take a few breaks.

The good news is that God created summers. They were His idea! He also made us in His image, which means that we can get creative, too. In the summer, we sometimes have a different schedule that lends itself to drawing out our creative side. We may have many different opportunities to choose from, or we can create some of our own! What have you been thinking about this summer?

Mary-like Hospitality in a Martha World

“Have you had dinner yet?” our neighbor asked.

“No,” we replied.

The next thing I knew, my roommate and I were eating a dinner of fried egg and a South Asian sweet in the home of our Muslim neighbors.

We had talked with them only as we passed by on the street, but a simple dinner invitation got us into their home and gave us a chance to get to know them better.

The hospitality in South Asia rivals that of the southern United States, any day, anytime. Whenever I’m invited into a home, I can expect to enjoy a cup of hot tea and warm cookies or even a full meal.

My roommate and I have been able to return the hospitality, having friends over for holiday parties and having curious neighbors over to see our apartment. Regardless of the why, we take these opportunities to share our faith with whoever enters our home.

Hosting someone in your home is a big deal to South Asians, and they show their appreciation for the person visiting them by being gracious hosts and serving lots of food.

Creating Space: Christ and Hospitality

Creating space for others—it’s what I think of when I focus on hospitality. And as mothers, we know a thing or two about creating space for other people. I would imagine a few of you have some little person invading your space even as you read this.

A long, wooden table filled a spread worthy of Pinterest with fresh bread, decorations for the season, chicken spiced and cooked well, and vegetables straight from the garden—this is what I believe our culture wants us to think of hospitality.

Oftentimes, we get caught up in the external features of hospitality and forget the internal characteristics of what it means to be hospitable people. However, as we look at Scripture and the example Christ set for us, we find a hospitality focusing much more on the relationship between the guest and the host rather than the presentation.

Christ welcomed the least of these.

Real-Life Relationships and Hospitality

I’ve been “taken in” by friends a few times in my life. This has ranged from moving into a friend’s basement for 2 weeks between gaps in apartment leases to my campus minister allowing me to be in her home regularly. In each extreme, I was able to better observe what “real life” in my friends’ lives looked like. My campus minister walked through the single, dating, and engaged phases in a 3-year span in my life. I learned more about how to conduct myself in each of those stages because of my time with her. My friend who lent out her basement also opened her home. I was engaged at the time and got a glimpse of what life as a wife, mother, and full-time employee looked like. In each situation, I was inspired to walk into the next phase of my life with more grace and understanding than when I started.

Lessons from around Dinner Tables

I’m usually confused when I see hospitality listed as one of the spiritual gifts. The others seem more tied to spirituality and ministry. The gifts of discernment, encouragement, and leadership are so obviously linked with the Holy Spirit and the daily Christian walk that the gift of hospitality, for me, seems only distantly related.

The idea of outstanding hospitality in our global culture is so foreign that I have stopped expecting it from others and even stopped focusing on it myself. It was only on a short trip to Ireland that I learned hospitality means something more than simply maintaining a house.

Over the course of a week while studying abroad, 2 friends and I took a road trip through the Irish countryside and then ended up in Dublin for a few days. Overall, the Irish people were welcoming and kind enough, but we were not expecting the hospitality we received.

Space for Opportunities

When you think about hospitality, are you like me and feel a little challenged? We can find some encouragement in the fact that the Bible teaches us to “practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). It gives us the idea that we don’t have to be perfect. We are practicing!

I was reminded of this recently, as we had a beautiful Hispanic family over for a meal. The parents have been believers for about 8 years. They radiate God’s goodness and are seeking to know His will in their lives and what mission God has for them. It was a simple slow cooker meal with water and chocolate chip cookies. And a candle. And smiles. And laughter. And checkers. And music. And a bottle for the baby. And sharing. And God. We were all tired after a long day, but we were better together. What a blessing. I am still enjoying the renewing warmth of just being the family of God.

Telling the Story That Matters

“Who is Jesus? I thought He was a corporation or a company.”

I had been interviewing a team of students serving in South Asia for the summer, and the students were telling me how, after sharing in a village, one man came up and asked them this question.

My Sunday School-going, Bible Belt-living self couldn’t wrap my mind around the thought that there were people who hadn’t heard of Jesus. But God had plucked me out of the United States that summer 3 years ago to show me the need of telling His story across the world.

Before I set foot on South Asian soil for my first experience overseas, I was a junior in college with a major I loved but unsure of what I’d do with it after graduation.

I loved telling stories. Sitting across from anyone with a pen in hand and open notebook full of questions brought me satisfaction. Journalism was my thing. It seemed as if it was the one thing in the world I was good at doing.

Teaching Preschoolers the Gospel through Storying

  • Who are you?
  • Where do you come from?
  • Why do you exist?
  • Where are you going?
  • How will you get there?

Stories connect us—across cultures, generations, and communities. Stories are meant to be shared and passed on.

Who first told you about Christ? Who first shared His story with you, connecting His story to your story? For me, it was my grandmother. She shared Christ faithfully with me each time she kept my brother and me.

From the time I was around 3 or 4, I can remember her telling us Bible stories. And if anyone were qualified to teach children the Bible, it was my grandmother. She had taught the 4- and 5-year-old class at her church for years, even before I was born.

My Story

I came to know the Lord when I was 7 years old. Many people in my life were getting baptized, including my mom, and I had questions. The more I learned about that public profession of faith, the more I desired to have faith of my own. I began to understand what trusting Jesus meant, and knowing Him at such an early age changed my life. I am not perfect, but I am graciously forgiven for my sins and able to wake up every morning knowing that Jesus’ mercy to me is new each day.

I love my story, as simple as it is, because it is my story. A nonbeliever can argue all she wants about her hesitancy to believe in God, but no one can tell me my story isn’t true. No one can tell me the Lord didn’t change my life. Every day is proof that He did. It’s why our stories are important.

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