Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Since I haven't posted for a week...

I'll share what I've been doing. Restrain yourself...don't be jealous! Haha!

I tried to convince my vintage-lovin' friend next door that I had some very vintage linoleum she could salvage, but she wasn't real motivated...lol.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wanna Join Me? Part 2

 After being completely sickened by the decision of corporate J.C. Penney to include the pages (shown in Part 1) in the Mother's Day edition of the flyer, I have begun to reflect upon where I am in the stages of lukewarmness/acceptance of the direction in which our culture is spiraling. 

A couple of years ago, I distinctly remember looking through a mailer that was advertising clothes.  The pictures mostly contained happy male/female couple pictures, and the thought that came to mind was this, "I wonder how long it will be until they use same sex couples in advertising?"  Here we are.

I tend to ignore pleas for boycotts of corporations because I know in my head that most of them support organizations with whom I would have sharp differences.  I rationalize that unless I grow all of my own food, make all of my own supplies, and sew all of my own clothes, I will be in some way giving money to abortion rights, gay rights, and other completely immoral and "make-me-wanna-throw-up" industries.  I know that my taxes and insurance premiums go to fund lifestyles and behaviors that I find completely abhorrent.

However, when the immorality of the issue is visible, or tangible, my decisions in shopping change, as well. When Abercrombie & Fitch started selling their pornographic magazines at the counter in their stores, I made sure I didn't patronize.  When Bath & Body Works sent mailers that contained photos of nude women, I didn't patronize (and haven't since).  And Victoria's Secret? Yeah, I used to shop there, too.  Loved the men's and women's fragrances, and lip gloss.  When I received a mailer from Lane Bryant that featured a new line of jeans (with topless models wearing them), I didn't make it into the house before speaking with customer service and asking to be removed from the mailing list for that reason.  When the Girl's Scouts made their rounds selling cookies this year, we didn't buy.  Not because we don't love the thin mints, but because their alliance with Planned Parenthood is just too tight.

Very early in this year, there was a huge issue with J.C. Penney corp. hiring Ellen as their spokeswoman.  Although I was aware of the hiring, I didn't really understand the implications it would have for the company.  The implications are no longer a secret.

It was clear that J.C. Penney was changing their approach last fall, and though I didn't like it at all, it remained a place that a very hard-to-buy-for big guy could shop.  Not to mention the fact that I can still, on occasion, find cute, modest clothing for the girls at J.C. Penney.  Their rewards are better than most retailers, and the portrait studio always has good deals. 

I don't like the new "fair and square" pricing strategy, the lingerie dept being right in the middle of the store, or the gay male that works in cosmetics who talks so loud that he can literally be heard in surrounding departments.  But none of those have forced me to quit shopping there for things that meet our needs.

But now I have a decision to make.  This has pushed my tolerance to the limit.  Am I done with Penneys?  I will start by sending corporate an email.  According to the response others are getting, this won't have an impact.  They are "happy with their decision."  However, I get the feeling that when customers begin chopping up J.C. Penney credit cards, avoiding shopping in store and online, and pass the word to all of their friends, corporate may re-think their poor choice.  That remains to be seen. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hospitality: The Who - Pt. 2

With whom should I share the love of Christ, as well as my personal blessings?

It is pretty common these days to want to shield ourselves from other people, especially outsiders and strangers.  We may feel comfortable with family coming into our homes, but after that, we begin to draw lines.  With limited time, and sometimes limited resources, how do we determine who to bless?

In the many passages of Scripture that speak to hospitality, the authors take most of the guesswork from our giving.  Certainly times have changed, and cultures are varied, but basic human needs have not changed.  People still need God, people still need comfort, and people still need people.
  • Fellow Believers - Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  (I Peter 4:9)
One of the benefits of progress has been that many churches are able to have their own building/area for group fellowship. Although the the convenience is a huge blessing (I'll never want to go back to the days of renting buildings, hauling equipment, food, etc.), I think we have allowed the times of church fellowship to substitute for hospitality in the home.  I know I have.  Church fellowship is Biblical and profitable, but shouldn't substitute for personal and family hospitality.

When I was young, our family was on somewhat of an island of seclusion out here in northwest Ohio.  None of our extended family lived within 125 miles, and there were many smaller holidays (Labor Day, Memorial Day, July 4th)  that were not celebrated with other people.  Sometimes we would have a church picnic on one of those days (our family always enjoyed those so much), but for the most part people wanted to be with their families.  That's natural.  But now that I have family of my own in town, I don't want to forget what it was like to be here without any.  I want to make my home a place where people feel like family, and feel at home.

Thinking back on my childhood, some of my favorite memories are when people would invite us into their homes for fellowship.  Being a parsonage, our home was "hospitality on speed," so it was a special treat to be invited into someone else's home.  It would give us nourishment, encouragement, laughter, and promote bonding in Christian faith.  It's no wonder we are admonished to "show hospitality to one another."
  •  Strangers -  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
There are many Scriptures that reference showing hospitality to strangers.  This is an area where most of us are tempted to firmly draw the line.  We are living in a culture that is not "stranger-friendly."  We don't pick up hitch hikers, we are skeptical when someone gives us a story of need, and we most definitely wouldn't take someone we don't know into our home and jeopardize the safety of our family.  I have been in every single situation, and I'm often confused because I don't want to be ignorant and don't want to be taken advantage of.  But how do we get around the Scriptural implications of strangers and our responsibility? 

We have a couple in our church who, as a teenager, impressed my by their hospitality for people who would come to our church for the first or second time.  We would see a new face, or a family of faces, and pretty soon we would hear that they had Sunday dinner at the home of this couple.  I always wondered if it was awkward for them to bring strangers into their home.  This sort of hospitality isn't exactly typical or popular, but they were extending the love of Christ...just as Christ asked many times throughout Scripture.  And this couple immediately had an inroad for personal witnessing.  When people experience our kindness, they can't help but want to know more about our Saviour.
  •  Those who cannot repay. -  He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  (Luke 14:12-14)  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)
How often do we open our hands, our homes, our hearts to people who have nothing to give us in return?  This is where our faith meets our works.
  •  God's servants, ministers - While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table.   (Luke 11:37)   Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. (Luke 10:38) He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” (Genesis 24:31)
In New Testament days, hospitality was important to the disciples who were traveling through the countrysides to the towns and villages.  In much the same way, hospitality is an important way of taking care of God's messengers today.  Traveling evangelists, missionaries, Bible college students and personnel are just a few of the people who benefit from believers who will choose to share what they have. 

If we ask God to open our eyes to the needs of people around us,
He will certainly give us opportunities to be His hands, His heart.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hospitality: The Who - Pt. 1

So...who should show hospitality? 

We all know people who seem to have the "gift" of hospitality.   They are relaxed when they are serving others, whether it be offering them a bed, a meal, or just a conversation and a cup of coffee.  We are all gifted differently, and what comes easily to one will likely be more difficult for others.  In the area of hospitality, our gifting (or lack of it) doesn't make us more or less responsible.  It only makes the task more or less challenging.  Some people naturally have an easier time in personal evangelism, Bible study, or giving than others, but it doesn't change the responsibility of each believer to strengthen our weaker muscles to fulfill this area which is obviously very important to God.  The amount of Scriptures that reference hospitality is almost mind boggling!  So many of the themes that we practice in our lives may be mentioned once, twice, or three times in the Bible, but wow...hospitality really has a monopoly.  :-)
  • Elders - Paul, in Titus 1, gives Titus instructions regarding those who are to be place in the position of elder: " ...if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[c] and his children are believers[d] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer,[e] as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound[f] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1)
  • Overseer (bishop) - The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.  (I Timothy 3)
  • True Christian - 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  (Romans 12)
These are only a handful of verses that reference hospitality, but they are definitely enough to guide all of us that seek to be like Jesus!  Hospitality is an important theme because it meets the needs of the whole person, while simultaneously molding the giver into the image of Christ. 

***Summertime on the Grill...click here. 

Put Your Smile On!

If anything can turn me into a big baby, a complete whiner, a rotten brat, it's having a paint brush in my hand.  Shhhh...I think I get it from my mom. She doesn't whine, she just doesn't paint.  :-)  That would be the perfect solution to my problem...if I didn't have so much painting that needed done! 

Knowing my propensity toward unacceptable paintbrush wielding attitudes, I did a little mental prep work. The conversation went something like this:

Because you're almost 36, it's high time for you to be able to paint a room without grumbling, getting annoyed at the kids, or filling your mind with negative self talk.   Put your smile on."

That's what I did.  It worked.  And it usually does.  My most dreaded tasks can become 50-100% bigger (or smaller) in my mind simply because of how I choose to face them. 

The room I had before me was interesting.  When we purchased our home, the seller had just redone her boys' room in a Chopper theme.  She painted a solid border around the top of the wall in deep red, the top half of the wall was a light gray, and the bottom half was textured and dark navy. She applied a 12 inch border around the middle of the room that was similar to a silver reflective tape, and covered the outlets, light switches, and cable ports in the same border.  She made wooden valances for the windows, painted them the deep red, and put a strip of border on the center of each of them. She also did a really nice mural on one wall. 

After 5 years of our boys living in this little abode (with frequent visits from their sisters), it was looking pretty sad, not to mention that the theme wasn't real attractive to potential homebuyers.  So, the reds and navys are no more...the entire room is a very light gray, and the paint is all out from under my nails.  Now I have a few grays  in my hair...don't be deceived...it's just paint!

What's your dreaded task for the week?  Take my challenge...put your smile on!