Simple Beauty

Almost six years ago we were house hunting.  We came across this 100-year-old house with amazing character, but I just didn’t love it. Nope, it was not for us.  I mean friends, it didn’t even have a bathtub!!  My HOME would need a bathtub.  The house search continued.  Every now and then, my husband Bret would drive by the house.  Probably the fourth time we looked at the house (bless our sweet realtor), I saw this house a little differently.  I envisioned a huge table full of people having great fellowship.  The porch wasn’t just a porch; it was a place where my family and friends could step on our porch and feel comfort and beauty. The steps led to our fortress.  Our safe place.

Those moments were where I realized the power of a home.  Our homes have much potential, we just have to envision it.  I want our home to be a place where my husband can recharge.  A place that my kids have a sense of belonging and know that no matter what else happens outside our walls, they have a place to be themselves.

So how do I make a place for my family and others full of beauty and peace?

Purge all of the unwanted things

            Purge all of the things that you don’t love, I mean LOVE, LOVE.  Purging, although tedious, can make room for the things that reflect you and the people in your home.  I love what Nancy Kelly says about purging, “Keep cutting back ‘til there is PEACE in your home.”

Make a place for your people

            Making a corner for each person in your home can help cultivate an atmosphere of peace and belonging.  My two older kids have a tea corner set up with everything they would need to make “a hug in a cup”.  An art table, with markers and paper, and a coffee station for mom and dad.  All of these spaces are created in various spots of the home so that each of us can explore creativity, solitude, and prayer.

Add elements of beauty

Beauty can be found in some of the smallest things and the most ordinary moments.  Potted plants, old books, or family photos.  One of my favorite things recently has been bees wax candles.  Lighting them as the kids get ready for bed brings such a peaceful renewal as they end their day.  We have a family full of cold natured people, so blankets strategically placed around the house offer a cozy feeling in our down time.  Smells can have such a connection to memory.  Fresh flowers from the supermarket, tree clippings in a vase, favorite scented soaps, or even an aromatic cleaning spray can make the smallest moment a memory.

Sally Clarkson puts it so well, “Instead of creating us to live in a house of weariness and colorlessness, God has made us to live in a home of full of soul beautiful elements.”

I encourage you, friends, to find what your beauty looks like in your home for your family and start reaping the benefits of a life-giving home.

We would like to thank Kendra Huey for writing this post!

 

For the Love of Cooking

trinarecipe2

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved food!  I got my first cookbook in the first grade and remember rushing home after school.  I went through all the recipes and picked the one that we had all the ingredients for, Quick Sugar Cake!  I mixed all the ingredients by myself, put it in the oven, and sat in front of the oven for 20 minutes while it baked.  When my cake was finally done, I took it out and waited 5 minutes for it to cool.  It was so hot I could hardly taste it.  Once my taste buds recovered, WOW, it was delicious!  I was shocked I had made it all by myself!  I was hooked and ate the whole thing!

I’ve come a long way since then.  I love to read about food and cooking, and I love to eat (don’t judge)!  One of my favorite things to do is have people over and serve them a meal.  Several years ago, a dear friend told me that I had the gift of hospitality.  I had never heard of this before!  Since then, God has showed me that I can use my love of cooking for His purposes.  This gave me a new way of looking at how I can reach out to other people; it is a way to get to know new friends.  Through this whole process I’ve learned a few important lessons:

  1. Everyone enjoys being invited and included! I love to see the looks on people’s faces when they are invited over.
  2. You do not have to be a chef to entertain in your home. People just enjoy the fact that someone cares enough to invite them over!  You can even invite people over and just order pizza! It’s about the fellowship, not the food!
  3. Your house does not have to be perfect.It does not have to be clean enough to eat off the floor.  It does not have to be a mansion!  There aren’t many mansions in Plainview anyway!  Be happy with what God has blessed you with!

Hospitality is defined as:  The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.  In the New Testament, the Greek word “hospitality” literally means “love of strangers”.

With summer approaching, venture out, invite people over!  Remember, it isn’t about the food, it’s about the fellowship!  One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
I’m sharing two recipes with you.  The first is a recipe that my sister-in-law gave me.  I love it because it feeds a lot of people, and it taught me how to bake a brisket!  The 2nd recipe is my beloved Quick Sugar Cake!

3 DAY BRISKET
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic saltSAUCE:3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. ground mustard
4 tbsp. Worcestershire
1/2 c. water
2 tsp. celery seed
6 tbsp. butterDay 1: Baste the uncooked brisket well with 2 tbsp. liquid smoke and 1 teaspoon salt. Wrap in heavy foil and refrigerate overnight. Day 2: Cover with teaspoon onion salt and garlic salt. Wrap and bake at 300 degrees for 5 hours. Refrigerate overnight.Day 3: Slice thin, cover with sauce. Wrap and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour. Sauce: cook all ingredients until well blended.

Trinarecipe

We would like to thank Trina Lewis for writing this post!

The Table Experience

Editor’s Note: This semester we’re focusing on Titus 2 and the wisdom it offers us as women in all different seasons of our lives. It’s our prayer that as you read through these posts you’ll hear each writer’s heart as they’ve spent time connecting with God over this passage of Scripture.

How many of you grew up in a home where you sat at the dinner table as a family? This is one of my favorite memories as a child. I remember the food mom would make, the enjoyment I had antagonizing my sister (sorry Allison), and the conversations we would have.

eloisebellmarch-01The table experience growing up shaped how I view the dinner table today. One dinner, in particular, comes to mind. I had made some delicious potato soup a few days earlier (key words: “a few days earlier”). Miley was three at the time and took a bite of the left-over soup, and said, “This is the wuhst dinnuh evah!” (a.k.a. worst dinner ever: she couldn’t say her R’s). Offended, I told her to leave the table and go think about how ungrateful she was acting. I then proceeded with the “go-to speech” of how there are starving children all over the world who would LOVE this left-over soup. She came back to the table and I told her, “Miley, you have two choices. You can either finish your dinner and be grateful for it, or you can be done.” Miley looked at me, and in her sweet, innocent voice she replied, “I’ll be done,” (laughing out loud).

Miles and I are intentional about eating together as a family as much as possible. One of our favorite things to do is cooking dinner together.

Scripture is filled with illustrations of lives changed when eating around a table.

Unfortunately, the typical family no longer eats meals together at the table. The table has been replaced with fast food. The ugly truth is mealtime is no longer an opportunity for families to build relationships.

Why is eating at the table so important? Scripture is filled with illustrations of lives changed when eating around a table. In 2 Samuel 9:7, Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth was invited to dine at King David’s table. It was there that Mephibosheth’s rejection and unworthy past was replaced with confidence and personal value. In Luke 15:23, the father’s decision to have a celebration feast gave his wayward son hope for a new future. In Matthew 26, Jesus and the Twelve sat down at the table to share in the Passover meal. After His resurrection (Luke 24), Jesus broke bread with two followers and gave thanks. Suddenly, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. At both meals, Jesus demonstrated the frame of mind that we should have at the table. Remember Him and the price He paid for you as you break bread together in your homes.

There are many things you can experience around the table: love is shared, bodies are nourished, actual face-to-face conversations happen, family members serve each other, daily schedules are discussed, and the list goes on!  Most importantly, a lovingly prepared table is a place where the presence of God dwells and relationships are established. God designed the table for you and your family to share life with each other. So, I encourage you to put dinner together back on the calendar.

Eloise Bell from our Amarillo campus wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.

Your Home, Your People

I love beauty. I love that God is the ultimate creator and source of beauty. And I love the fact that because we are made in His image, we are, by nature, also creators of beauty.

I also love all things “home.” It’s my very favorite place to be. I could spend hours just looking through picture-perfect homes in magazines. But what the magazines don’t share is that God has given each of us an incredible opportunity to express his rich beauty, love, and hospitality through our homes in a way that’s completely unique to how he has created us and the home that he has given us to share.

In the last 6 years, my husband and I have lived in a tiny university-owned apartment, a sweet, small rent house, and our very own home. Through each of our homes, I’ve gathered some practical ideas for creating a beautiful and welcoming environment (that probably won’t be featured in the next home and garden magazine article).

Decorate with what you like. Instead of trying to fit everything into one particular style, choose pieces that you love and that fit your lifestyle. You might find that, like me, you’re somewhat eclectic. Your home doesn’t have to fit into a box, so don’t try to force it. Our homes should be an expression of who we are and our love for the people in our sphere.

Embrace the process of making a home. Unless you have a huge budget (and probably not even then), a home that fits you and your family doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process—a living, breathing, expression that is built over time. When I try to make everything look designer-put-together and finished all at once, I always end up not completely loving it. Let your home breathe a little. Let it become, over time, a place of retreat for anyone who enters your door.

Display your fondest memories. These probably won’t ever be magazine-worthy. They’re amateur pictures from your favorite vacation. Pictures your babies drew for you as a way to show they love you. Papers and sticky notes filled with scripture that some of your sweetest friends posted all over your house while you were gone for weeks in the hospital with your husband. These things make a home.

Prepare your home for guests. Pick up around the house. Put on some worship music. Brew a pot of coffee. Light a candle. Pray for the people that you will be welcoming into your home. Invite the Holy Spirit to minister to them in your house.

Focus on people. It’s easy to get caught up in whether the house looks perfect enough, or whether everything is done before guests arrive. But your people are much more important than any unfinished task. Don’t feel pressure to point out or apologize for every little thing that you think is wrong or unfinished about your home. They won’t care. They probably won’t even notice. Pay attention to the people in your house more than the tasks or things. It’s such a sweet opportunity to love on them that you don’t want to miss.

Like the author Myquillyn Smith shares in one of my very favorite books, The Nesting Place,

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

This post was written by Catherine Dunn. To read more about her, click here. 

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How to Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus

In August 2013 I was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.  Yes, those were the words the doctor used in the measured, clinical tone some doctors use in delivering bad news.  Those words, in addition to “It’s not good, Monica,” and “A few people make it to five years.”  I will be honest, I have experienced the goodness of God and I know the One who numbers my days, but this news of metastatic breast cancer was devastating.  My husband and I have four kiddos and at the time they were 6, 4, and 3 years old, and our baby was 7 months old.  My mother’s heart grieved, and I simply could not imagine not raising them.

So, my family started down a path that we continue to walk today, and many in the body of Christ bravely chose to walk with us.  The Bible says that we are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), which, if we are honest, can be overwhelming.  However, in God’s incredible grace, He surrounded us with people who were willing, by the power of His Spirit, to do the hard thing and bear this burden of cancer with us.  How sweet our co-laborers have been.

First, people prayed.  A woman I had never met came up to me almost a year after my diagnosis and said, “I have been wanting to meet you.  I pray for you twice a day, that you will dance at your grandchildren’s weddings.”  I receive that!  She continues to pray for me, twice a day.  When we do not know how to come alongside someone in their suffering we can always, always pray.  I have friends who have called and prayed with me over the phone, laid hands on me in my sister’s living room, texted prayers, and I could go on and on.  God has heard.

People gave.  They gave of their time.  My mom and dad still come almost every three weeks when I have treatments.  It is a sacrifice of their time and their resources, but they continue to bear that burden with us.  People gave and continue to give physical gifts:  money to help with medical expenses, gifts to encourage my heart and my kids’ hearts, breast milk to feed my baby while I was receiving chemotherapy, and countless meals and gift cards, to help ease the tasks of everyday life in the midst of initial and continued treatment.  God has faithfully met each and every need.

People believed.  What balm to my soul to see faith personified in the body of Christ. Just last week, a friend sent me the following scripture: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, Your power to all those to come” (Psalm 71:18).  She is believing with me—especially in those moments of darkness when I do not believe myself—and for me: that in my old age, I will be proclaiming the name of Jesus to another generation.  May it be so.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ 

Monica Patrick has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember.  She is a stay-at-home wife and mother in Fort Worth, TX.  She and her husband Charles are about to celebrate 11 years of marriage and have four children, Susanna, 10, Josiah, 8, Nathaniel, 6, and Seth, 4.  She homeschools their children and together she and Charles serve as the 4th grade Sunday School teachers at their church.  She is a gatherer and enjoys bringing women together to talk about Jesus and His faithfulness in marriage, parenting, friendship and life.  She dreams of one day traveling the country with her family in a motorhome.

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The Place Where People Want to Be

Growing up in a family with five children all under the age of seven, one of the things I looked forward to—with great anticipation—was spending the night at my grandparents…by myself!

My grandma was an amazing cook and a wonderful hostess. It didn’t matter if it was just me, or the entire family, the table was set with her good dishes placed atop a placemat, the napkin to the left alongside the fork, with the knife and spoon on the right and my glass placed directly above that, exactly as it should be. Favorite foods were always made, sometimes together, and we would play cards all night long…she knew how to make things special for me, and I loved that!

At a very young age, there were deposits made into my heart that helped shaped who I am today. There are so many ways to create a beautiful and comfortable home, but the home that is full of peace, love and joy is what makes it inviting—a place where people want to be.

I believe that having a servant’s heart, preferring others above myself, is where a beautiful home becomes an inviting home. Sometimes, going “the extra mile” doesn’t require much on my end but means the world to someone else!

I enjoy having treasures with history in my home, things we’ve collected from the places we’ve been. When I look at them, gratefulness fills my heart.

I like to have fresh flowers in my home…they make me smile, reminding me of how the Creator of the heavens and earth takes care of His creation…I don’t have to worry.

I like to have music playing in my home brings peace and joy to any occasion, lifting away any heaviness from the day.

I like to have candles lit when we eat…taking meal time out of the mundane and making it a banquet feast…because the people I’m eating with are that special!

Here are some of the virtues I strive to implement daily, wherever I might find myself:

  • Faith – Visualizing God’s plan and responding accordingly. Can I visualize what God can and wants to do through me and my home?
  • Anticipation – The eager expectation that God’s promises are true and that He will work through my circumstances to fulfill them, not only for me but for others.
  • Availability – Giving up my right to determine how my time and resources are spent. When I hold the resources He’s given me with an open hand, I’ll get them back, in “good measure, pressed down and shaken together” abundance!
  • Enthusiasm – The outward expression of the joy that is in my heart.
  • Gratefulness – A thankful response to the benefits that have come into my life.
  • Generosity – Not being stingy with the resources that could be used to benefit others. I serve a God of “more than enough”!
  • Hospitality – Eagerly sharing the resources of my home to benefit others.

Even in this…especially in this, in these times…heaven can and does invade earth. We should not forget to show hospitality to strangers (and friends), for some have done this and entertained angels without realizing it! (Hebrews 13:2)

This post was written by Connie Paxton. To read more about her, click here. 

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Practical Ways to Care

Becoming a full-time caregiver of a parent, spouse, disabled child or foster children is life-altering at a minimum. For many it can be the most demanding, difficult job they’ve ever done as they lay down their lives to love, serve and care for the needs of another. Today I want to offer some practical ways you can be a minister of love, hope, and encouragement to these special people.  I’m writing as a daughter, a respite care provider for my parents, as someone who has been a foster parent.

When my dad was about 60 years old, he developed a rare brain disease that began with things like not being able to tie his shoes and all too quickly took his ability to speak and use his hands and arms. My mom was thrown into processing all the changes that were occurring with my dad, taking care of him, making financial and business decisions, doctor’s visits, and care of the home and property. For several years, Dad could not be left alone, and taking him anywhere was an enormous challenge.

Suffice it to say that, for many, caregiving can be very isolating. Caregivers often struggle with exhaustion and being able to take care of themselves, as well. Their lives can feel totally out of control and they need help and compassion.

There are many ways that you can breathe life into their situation.

  • Visit: Ask when it’s a good time to come by. Bring them news of the outside world: what’s happening at church, your job, the community. Please, tell a good joke. The Bible says that laughter is good medicine. One of my dad’s favorite hospice nurses would carry on and tease and make jokes about the awkward things that would happen when she was caring for him. Don’t forget a hug or touch for the disabled, even if it’s awkward when they can’t respond. They still know.
  • Listen: Caregivers need to be able to tell someone about how hard it is and if they’ve had a particularly bad day.
  • Meals: A healthful and delicious meal is a God-send.
  • Holidays: Offer for them to join you at your house, or ask if you can bring the food to them and do the dishes.
  • Remember: Send texts, a thinking of you card, or call. Pray with them.
  • Help: Offer to help with yard work, pick up groceries, or stay with the home-bound person while the caregiver gets out for a while. My uncle kept my dad once a week while my mom went to lunch with friends or a doctor’s appointment and ran errands. These friends and this help from my uncle were life support for her.

Body of Christ, we have the privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. 2 Corinthians 9:12 says,

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

This post was written by Erin Smart. To read more about her, click here. 

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