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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Choosing to bless instead of impress

I can remember the text like it was yesterday.
It was from my friend Ruth and she and her husband and their six boys would be making a trip soon from New Mexico to Florida and she wanted to stop along the way and spend the night with us.

In our home.  In our tiny home.
With her six boys.  gulp.

Now I love having company.  And more importantly I love Ruth.  I "met" her through Instagram and my heart  instantly connected  with hers.  All that she shared resonated with my soul and encouraged and challenged me in the Word. I knew I wanted to make the effort to connect with her…not just "like" her pictures but really get to know her.  I practically ran her over at Hope Spoken to hug her neck when we first met and we exchanged cell numbers and all that good stuff with the promise to keep in touch.  I was so blessed the Lord had crossed our paths in real life.

Then came her text.  She wanted to come spend the night in my home.  My tiny little home.  My tiny little cluttered up and messy  home.  And did I mention she has six sons?  

Now I'm gonna get real transparent today.  I'm usually not one who worries about stuff.  That's just not my nature.  I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants it will all come together so no worries kind of girl.  I usually don't get worked up over feeling the need to impress people or concerned if they will like my house.  or food.  or me.  I mean, of course I want to be liked…don't we all?  But that need doesn't govern me or control me. 

But for some reason when Ruth asked if they could stay with us, I kinda got a little panicky.  Now let me make it clear that Ruth has never done a thing to make me feel this way.  She is as genuine as they come.  The real deal. And I can't say enough good things about what rich blessings social media has brought into our lives through the people God has connected us to.  

But there is also another side of social media. And that is the pretty filtered side that we post for the world to see..the side that if we allow our flesh to go there,  we can often throw ourselves under the "comparison bus".  And that ain't ever a good place to be.  You see, I had seen Ruth's home….her pics literally look like something straight out of a magazine.  Big, spacious and incredibly beautiful.  I was looking around at my mess that I had let get totally out of hand and panic begin to take over.  They couldn't stay here! My home was not presentable. I still had wedding projects piled up in the corner. And her food!  Oh gosh… don't even get me started on her culinary skills.  Every thing she shares looks gourmet and I had no idea what I would feed them.  I mean, I love to cook but I don't cook like that!  

A part of me wanted to take the easy way out and just say we had something going on that night.  But besides the fact that that would be straight up lying,  I also knew deep down that I would be missing  one of the greatest blessings if I said no.

So I said yes. 

And I'm so glad I did. 

The words of my pastor (who I happen to be married to) began to ring loud and clear…" A wise woman doesn't build her nest to to impress those who will peek in from time to time…no, she builds it to bless those she loves.  Use your home to bless not to impress."   So after I let the enemy wreck havoc with my mind and emotions for a brief moment,  I came to my senses and put into practice the principle that we have always lived by. One of my favorite things over the years is to use my home to minister to others… so I   began to focus more on the privilege of being able to bless this precious family as they traveled on their journey.  And I immediately began to experience the joy that  comes from serving others well. 

Now even though it was a brief visit, not even 24 hours,  the Lord supernaturally made our time together rich and full of great fellowship.  We magnified His name together as we all shared our lives and the journeys the Lord has us on for His glory. We testified to His unfailing grace and steadfast provision and how rich His redemption is and how much He has changed and sustained our marriages over the years. The same love I felt for Ruth had now spread to her entire family.

 When they did pull out of our driveway, I felt a tiny taste of what the elders of Ephesus must of felt like when they said their goodbyes to Paul as they prayed for him, hugged and kissed and watched him leave. (acts 20:36-38)  The body of Christ is such a gift to each other when we walk in the way that God has commanded us to.   I thought that Ruth and Troy were so brave to plan a trip where they would stay in "strangers" homes with their six boys all so that they can build fellowship  with those they wanted to invest their time with in the body of Christ.  It would have been much easier  get a hotel room, grab some dinner, enjoy the swimming pool and then get back on the road.  But instead they chose to get past the first hellos and introductions and trust God that they would be among family.    I'm so thankful they made the effort.  

Here is  a glimpse of the rich fellowship the Lord blessed us with..

I loved having all these little men around my tiny table.

This is how you make room for five boys to sleep in one bedroom.
I apologized for all the pink stuff and they were very gracious about it and said it didn't matter to them.  Such gentlemen these boys were.

They arrived at night and it was dark so they couldn't wait to go exploring the next morning.
I loved seeing our yard through fresh eyes filled with adventure.
(and yes,,,I'm still in my pajamas.  Hostess with the Mostess for sure. lol)

Nick had fun showing them around the yard and picking fresh plums.

They all got to see a nest up close and personal.

Ruth whipped me up some amazing chalk art on my coffee table.

 And so did Asa.  :)

 Ruth is an incredible artist. (this took her all of five minutes)
 You can check out her shop here.

Home Sweet Home.

"Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." 
 Proverbs 24:3-4

Are we building our nests to impress others or to bless others?
Because it's not what's on our walls that makes our homes beautiful.
And we don't exercise biblical hospitality just because we've provided a bed or cooked a meal for someone.  Hospitality goes beyond a beautiful house, clutter free guest room or scrumptious snack. 
True hospitality is not just to offer our homes but to offer our lives.
Making ourselves available to people right where we are.

As much as I love social media and can testify personally to how the Lord uses it to glorify Himself and advance His kingdom, like anything in this messed up world the enemy can use it too. To make us compare. To make us covet. To make us discontent. Friends, we will miss out on so many blessings waiting on our spic and span floors and Pintrest worthy homes.

I'm all for pretty settings. I'm all for going the extra mile to fluff our nests to make people feel special. I like putting chocolate on the pillows and lighting candles and setting the table.  But we can't let that become the main thing. People are the main thing.
 Don't wait til the backyard is landscaped before you have your small group over.
Don't wait til your floors are mopped and you've baked a cake until you invite your neighbor over.
Just pour her a cup of coffee and sit down and ask her about her day.  I promise she will remember the conversation more than the scrambled eggs still on the floor from breakfast.  

True hospitality is loving on people smack dab in the middle of our messes with whatever the Lord has provided. 


  1. Oh, how true is this post, sweet Stephanie! This couldn't have come at a better time. I loved reading your heart and am blessed by your wisdom! I love to serve and love to entertain, but I want my house to be spotless and the food to be prepared--if I have a friend drop by, all I can think about is the basket of laundry sitting on the couch that needs to be folded. Or the 4 dishes in the sink (that she can't see) that should be in the dishwasher. I focus more on those details than just sitting and enjoying while my friend is talking. And that's not what hospitality is--that's not true fellowship. I pray that I can get past the superficial and learn to just serve in the middle of the mess. That's what it's all about!

  2. What a wonderful post! I cannot imagine being parents to 6 sons. My goodness, but what a happy, lovely family! So glad for this connection you have made and the blessings received by both families. Happy weekend!

  3. This touched my heart immensely my sweet friend! Love you.

  4. LOVE! That is all. You inspire me, once again, to stop trying to impress those who enter my home! Blessing them & being present with them is SO much better :)

  5. Lady, your gift of hospitality is beautiful. I can't wait to see how God grows this ministry for you and Nick through the years. I believe whole-heartedly your empty nest is not going to be very empty. As much as you bless others, you will be blessed over and over and over and over...

  6. ohhhh this was good. especially love that quote from your pastor. ;)
    i got to stop by ruth's house on my drive out to california, and even though her house truly is beautiful, what i loved most was the conversation i got to have with her and how polite her sweet boys are. it was one of my most refreshing stops.
    hoping to stop by YOUR house on my next road trip. :)

  7. I'm so blessed to read this...because honestly, it was just as hard for me to text you (hoping for in real life friendship and for you to meet my family) because it meant that you'd see me after two days of driving and how I "really am." But praise the Lord, because He wastes nothing and is continually at work for our good and to his glory! Finding our way down that long windy road and breathing a joyous sigh of relief while inhaling your delicious meal, was one of our most special memories-- every bit as significant as beaches, big cities, and vacationy things. Love you dearly. And know that He is doing something special with our friendship. (Also, Troy...Troy! wrote a letter to y'all that will be in the mail soon. xox)

  8. It can't say enough how your Christ-driven words fill me up and how it feels like your giving me a big 'ol hug when I read them. I love how you share all of you and use the lessons He's teach you to encourage others. You are a blessing. You are the main thing. This was eye-opening. And I pray for the day when I can text you and then come and sit around your messy table :)

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. My husband and I live away from my family and we live in a pretty touristy town (las Vegas) I have family and friends asking all the time to visit and stay. I have often felt my house is tiny, just two little bedrooms. But I love what you husband said, use your home to bless not impress. I am going to take that into heart next time someone wants to visit or just have dinner. You are such an inspiration to us young married girls Honey! Xoxo

  10. I'm so glad I found your blog, thanks to Gracelaced! I will keep repeating what you wrote; "use your home to bless, not impress." We are currently renting (at the far end of a WA island) and I've been getting a bit anxious about an upcoming event I offered to host for the University my kids attend. Lots of parents and students will be here and I'm concerned about peeling porch paint on a house that we don't own... I need to remember what matters most; welcoming them and sharing our spot so relationships can be built. BTW, I've done a few Stitch Fix orders myself! As I write this I'm shooting up big prayers for a home we're trying to buy right in town~friends could drop by...

  11. Awesome post. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Wow. This post has touched my heart to the core. Thank you for sharing your feelings (those very feelings that I have felt before). I found your blog through Instagram. I browsed through a few pages of your beautiful family photos, and Stitch Fixes (I just received my first fix last month and loved it :) and then this post caught my attention, I read it and am in tears. Thank you :)


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