Practicing Hospitality

 . . .Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. . .I Peter 4:8-9 ESV

One of our family’s New Year’s resolutions is to invite someone over every week.  Yep.  Every week.  Did I mention there are 8 of us.

My children range from age 10 months to 14 years.  We homeschool, have a very small farm, special needs and I teach childbirth classes one night a week and am a doula so I occasionally attend births too!  Whew – we are busy.  Always.  We work very hard to minimize our obligations to things in general because just living life – schooling, animals, medical appointments, laundry, baths for Pete’s sake! – keep us pretty well booked.  There’s not a ton of time leftover.  Ever.  Sometimes there is down time and sometimes, honestly, there’s not a lot.  So why on earth would be even attempt to have people over this much??  I’ll explain.

First of all – the Bible says to do it.

Not weekly, mind you.  But “show hospitality” and again in Romans, “practice hospitality.”  We take this to heart.  There are some things in the Bible that aren’t always this clear, things we must wrestle out for ourselves.  This one is simple. Do it.  Don’t grumble.  Practice it which kinda implies some amount of regularity.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. . .Romans 12:9-13 ESV

I find it interested that in both of these often quoted passages there is talk of love and then hospitality.  The first one addresses this idea that love covers sins. . .spending time together, living life together opens the door for healing when the offenses or sins happen.  The second passage again starts with talking about love and then ends with another call to hospitality.

Ship Docking.

This is a big reason we’re stepping up a notch in hospitality this year.  Our children are getting older.  Especially important to our oldest son is time with friends.  I remember feeling that way too.  We want to provide opportunities for him to connect with people his age, to forge good friendships and to have fun.  However, we prefer to do things as a family for the most part.  In order to meet his need for friendship and peer time and maintain our conviction to not segment our family in a bunch of different directions all the time, we decided to invite people over more often. And we’re giving our children input on who we invite.  The friendships that we form in our young adult years are often the same ones that see us through finding a spouse, standing up with us on our wedding day, giving input as we navigate becoming independent adults and even into adulthood and parenthood.  We want to help him dock his ship alongside other God-fearing, respectful and hardworking young men and women.  Young adults who will sharpen him, laugh with him, challenge him and push him on toward becoming all that he can be.

Our house stays cleaner.

When we host regularly we stay more faithful in keeping our home presentable.  We always try to keep things decent.  However, whenever someone is coming over we always take a few more minutes to tidy up, rescue the bathrooms, pick up toys and usually put something that smells good in the diffuser.  I like this.  It’s a bonus.

Things will get in the way.

There are a multitude of things that will derail our plans – sickness, scheduling conflicts, vacations, holidays and on and on.  But, if we aim for once a week and even succeed half the time that would be 25 times we’d invite someone over this year.  That’s huge.  Way better than we typically do. We’re committed this year to keeping after it – no giving up.  Sickness, holidays, hard weeks, busy schedules. . .No excuses!  If we fall off -we’re going to get right back up on that horse and keep at it.

It’s good for our children.

There are so many ways that it’s good for our children.  They learn to serve others, through cleaning ahead of time and after company leaves.  They learn to be good hosts themselves – sharing toys and favorite seats.  I believe they are better guests having been frequent hosts.  My children have often experienced the frustration of guests who come and don’t help pick up after themselves.  I teach them to have grace and clean up with a cheerful heart, but also to be sure to clean up after themselves and offer to help after a party at someone else’s house.

Sometimes it feels tiring, sometimes it takes way too much effort to sync up with another family, sometimes the children get sick and sometimes I just don’t feel like hosting.  Sometimes my dear son with special needs uses the distraction of company to overflow and clog my toilet (that one happened again tonight).  But rain or shine, this year, we’re going to practice.  Perhaps we’ll get better at it, but no matter, I am confident there will be blessing in our faithful obedience!

 

 

I Hate Making Meal Plans

If you know me or have even been in my house you may have noticed that mounted on the front of my refrigerator is a dry erase menu board/calendar.  Quite often, especially ladies, comment about it when they visit.

“Wow.”

“A whole month of meals planned ahead.”

“You must be so organized.”

The truth is – I truly HATE making meal plans!  Truly.  Which is why I do it a month at a time.  I do not like planning what to cook for the week.  I do not like planning it for the month.  But so much more I absolutely loathe arriving on a given day of the week and having nothing planned and having to think up something that day!  Hate it.

I nearly refuse to go to the store specifically for one or two items only. . .especially if they are needed desperately for dinner. . .tonight.  We live in the country.  To go to any store it takes nearly 30 minutes round trip just driving.  I feel like it’s such a waste of time to run into town for just one errand let alone just one item!

Long ago in my mothering and home managing journey I started making menus.  I realized that in order to provide tasty, nourishing meals for my family I needed to have a plan.  And that is something I do love – eating tasty food!  🙂  It was very important to me that the food I was serving my growing family was nutritious and wholesome.  But, when I would fail to plan well we would end up eating out more, spending way too much money on take out.  We would eat poorer quality food.  The truth is – it does take some time – or a whole lot of money – to provide made from scratch whole food based meals.  Sigh.

I made a week’s plan and it worked.  No more scrambling, less eating out, better food.  Then the week was over and drat!  I had to make another plan.  So I began doing two weeks at a time.  That got more comfortable so eventually I figured I’d rather do the work once and be done for an entire month and that plan works for me.

Here’s the secrets you can’t see on my pretty, organized looking board. . .

I only stick to the plan about half the time!  Funny, no?  Seriously, nearly every week we change many of the planned meals and are most grateful for that brilliant inventor of dry erase things.  I’ve heard so many people say they can’t do a meal plan because they hate feeling boxed in or controlled.  That’s truly funny to me.  I make my plan.  Then I constantly change it.  It’s so freeing!  I’m free to change as often as I like.  And I’m free to not think about it and just follow the plan.  Lovely.  Guests coming over – swap a couple things around to find something that’s easier for a crowd.  Husband gone for a night – fix “Egg Roll in a Bowl,” or some other tasty thing he could live without instead of my original plan.  Too many leftovers building up in the fridge – leftover night.

The beauty is – I only have to do the job I hate – planning –  once every month or two.  And the month’s plan will often work again for the next month with a few easy tweaks.  I’m free to be as impulsive and creative as I like or just auto-pilot through the menu board.  I always consult the menu board when I make my grocery list so there’s always 5-10 meals worth of ingredients on hand.  But I can swap them, postpone them or cancel them as much as I want.

I hate making menus.  But I love having one made.  I love eating tasty food.  And I love knowing I’m doing something good for my family.

Here’s Feb in case you’re curious. . .

  1. Leftovers
  2. Quesadillas
  3. Nachos
  4. Fish & Potatoes
  5. Italian Beef & Salad
  6. Egg Roll in a Bowl
  7. Sunday – Kids Cook Day
  8. Red Beans & Rice
  9. Taco Salads
  10. Chicken Taco Soup
  11. Leftovers
  12. Cheeseburger Pie
  13. Nachos
  14. Sunday – Kids Cook Day
  15. Egg Roll in a Bowl
  16. Cubed Steak & Salads
  17. Chana Dahl Soup
  18. Baked Chicken & Rice
  19. Fish & Potatoes
  20. Leftovers
  21. Sunday – Kids Cook Day
  22. Taco Salads
  23. Egg Roll in a Bowl
  24. Chicken Taco Soup
  25. Nachos
  26. Sloppy Joes
  27. Chicken & Vegetable Soup
  28. Sunday – Kids Cook Day

 

 

 

 

 

Just. Living.

So, I’m beginning a blog. . .again. . .no, really, this time I’m going to stick with it. . .I had to come up with a name, domain, etc.  I thought conscionable existence sounded like a great idea.  I My loving husband laughed.  No one will know how to spell that or perhaps what it means without looking it up.  But it summed up what I’d like to talk about in my writing.  Nearly everything that I do is based on conviction, conscience, faith.  I looked up the meaning of the word, “conscionable-being in conformity with one’s conscience; just,”  (Dictionary.com).  That’s exactly what I was trying to express.  But he still said no way, not a good name.  For the record, we always have this kind of conversation when choosing names for things:  our farm, our pets, our children.  So he said to look up synonyms for the word and there is was “just.”  That’s it.  Just living.  Just – honest – conscionable- living.  

Just. Living.  Living by my conscience and doing things because I believe in them.  This is what my life has been about and it covers the breadth of so many choices I’ve made and so many things I’d like to share.  So, here goes.

 

 

Samaritan Ministries In a Nutshell

Samaritan Ministries, Int’l is a health care sharing ministry.  It is an organization set up with the biblical model of “bearing one another’s burdens” as their purpose.  Members directly share and help one another deal with unexpected medical expenses due to illness or accident.  Our family has been a member of Samaritan Ministries for over 11 years now.  We joined when we had only 2 children.

Each month, I get a newsletter in the mail and in that mailing is a shareslip which tells me the specific need of another member and their address.  I’m asked to pray for them, send them a note of encouragement and send them my monthly share which at this time for a family is $405.00.  The ministry has a fancy computer program (and a whole bunch of smart guys who write and run it) which helps them allocate or divide up all the needs (medical bills) and available shares each month.

In return, whenever I have a qualifying need I can send in the required paperwork to Samaritan Ministries and my need will be shared amongst the members.  This process usually takes about 2 months from the time that I submit all the paperwork.

When I go to a doctor’s office or medical visit of any kind I tell them that I am self-pay.  They bill me directly and are typically quite willing to set up a payment plan until the need is shared by Samaritan members and all the funds get to me directly.  As soon as I receive the shares (and lovely cards, notes and words of encouragement) from the other members, I pay off my remaining medical bills.

That’s it in a nutshell.   It’s a pretty amazing thing.  Thousands of other Christian families and individuals who truly “have my back” in case of medical emergencies.  I love being a member and would never go back to insurance!

To find out more about Samaritan Ministries you can visit their website here.