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How I Learned The Sacred Art of Hospitality

The gift of being truly welcomed into someone's home is one that has the power to change is from deep within. While we love being welcomed, the work of welcoming others is often one we struggle with. Whether fear or shame or business plague us, we can be hindered from opening our hearts and homes to others. Bailey has experienced being welcomed and doing the welcoming and she is sharing her story of transformation as God renewed her heart and mind and showed her the impact of Gospel-centered hospitality. It's an honor to have Bailey share her story.

I overestimated my ability as a young woman. Pinterest and registering for wedding presents left me planning a perfect house with elaborate meals spread across beautifully spread tables. This hosting would lead to deep, heart-probing conversation and a deeper love for God. Mostly, though, if you dug deep into my heart, you would have seen a desire to be the perfect wife and hostess. I would be the Pinterest woman.

Being a military spouse, my husband works with many single guys, and he opened our home to them. It caused fights like I never anticipated. He would arrive home from work with a smile on his face, letting me know that a friend would be joining us for dinner. If the house wasn’t clean, I’d frantically implore him to start working harder and to delay or cancel if possible. Then bitterly, once he had insisted that he would not cancel, I would chop more chicken and peppers to add to the fajitas I was making. Nasty comments would pepper my speech, then the doorbell would ring and I would smile.


The Reason We Disrupted Our Son's Adoption

Sometimes there are parts of our story that are just plain hard. No one can truly understand unless they have walked a similar road. This makes sharing incredibly difficult because we might be judged or ridiculed or misunderstood. There are so many risks to sharing a difficult or even controversial story. Sandra's story is one of those. It's hard, it's controversial and it's honest. Her courage to share such a difficult part of her journey is commended and it's an honor to feature Sandra's story in this space today. 

A piece of my story began nine years ago when two little boys entered our home via the local foster care system. Joseph and Barry were 6 and 17 months old at the time they were placed with us. These little boys came starved for love and nutrition. My husband, Dean, and I poured our hearts into filling their lives with love and their tummies with food. We were court ordered to attend twice weekly visits with their bio parents as is typical for children in the foster system. Barry quickly grew to hate those visits. His little body would grow stiff in protest while silent tears rolled down his cheeks as we drove to the visits. I bought a side by side stroller to use at their visits with their bio parents. Barry would reach over and hold his little brother's hand as though to comfort him. It broke our hearts to see them in such pain but there wasn't anything we could do about it. Those visits continued for two years.

Knowing the pain and neglect they suffered prior to coming into our home increased my desire to show the boys what a godly, love-filled home is like. But Barry rejected that love. At first, I thought it was just me. Maybe his negative experiences with his birth mom made him unable to trust women. However that thought was crushed when I saw him reaching out to other women, it seemed it was just me that he fought against. I couldn't understand it and tried my best to get close to him but the harder I tried, the more he pushed me away. He didn't let me hold him, would struggle when I hugged him and grew stiff and anxious if I placed my hand on his shoulder or tousled his hair. Barry allowed my husband to get a little closer emotionally but not much. He seemed determined to hold us at arms length.

Disrupting Adoption God's Faithfulness

Going on a Treasure Hunt: 5 Truths I Learned About God in Parenting My Boys

So many lessons can be learned through so many experiences. That's why it's important to widen your circle to include those who have had different experiences than you! It brings lessons you never could have learned on your own. That's why I love love love having Christelle in my online circle. As a west-coast living mama of 3 boys, she's learned things I can't on my own. That is why I'm honored to have Christelle share her story in this space today. Let's learn from her together. 

As a child, I  believed in a religious, rules oriented God. This God could be provoked to anger if I did not live a perfect life. My belief in an angry God caused me to live in fear as a child and into adulthood. Essentially, I learned to focus on my fears, even in prayer. In retrospect, I gave my attention to fear rather than love.

Through various circumstances, I was reminded that we serve a God of love. The Bible says God is love. I believed this in my heart and I perceived it as truth. However, I was unable to feel his unwavering love in my soul. One day, I began to feel a nudge and hear a whisper in my soul that seemed to say "allow me to teach you about my love through how much you love your own children."

Over time, I would come to learn of the Father's heart and feel his love in a new and profound way as I realized how much I treasured my relationship with my boys. Each time I discovered truth about the Father's heart toward me, I felt like I had discovered a new treasure! I was on a treasure hunt of all the ways the Father is absolutely 100% head over heals in love with me. And I began the journey of discovering my identity in him, as his beloved daughter.

Currently: March

One of the things that makes our stories so sacred is that there are everyday, seemingly mundane moments that make up the bigger narrative. Each of these daily rhythms, reflections or tasks is pieced together with others and suddenly, we have our story. 
Sometimes, the road to joy is through a brief, quiet moment of reflection on the present in the midst of the often large & loud life. 
 Ann & Carrie are hosting a link-up that allows for some fun reflection on the smaller bits of life, encouraging us to share what we are "currently" up to as the new month begins!

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Got Married

A big part of my story is that I got engaged when I was 20 years old and got married when I was 22. While I have several friends who got married when they were several years younger than I was, to most, I was pretty young. Because we were so young, people had ALL THE ADVICE. Seriously, it came from errrybody.  Don't get me wrong, we really appreciated all of the wisdom and have seen its effectiveness in the several years we've been married. Even so, the advice we received was missing several important truths that I wish we would have known. Whether you're married, engaged, dating or someday hope to be, I think these ideas are an important addition to any of the advice you receive. 

Fun Story Friday: February

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Sometimes as we are living and sharing our stories, things can get a bit heavy. While the work of God in the midst of challenges is encouraging and inspiring, the suffering that we hear about and are experiencing ourselves can begin to cloud our perspective and inhibit our experience of joy.

Because of this, a new Sacred Stories series has been born: Fun Fridays! On the last Friday of every month, a post sharing some fun things that have been happening or are making life a bit happier is going to be shared! It might be from me or a fun guest post! Either way, it's purpose is to help take our eyes off of the tough stuff, and help us see some of the fun pieces of our story! Besides, is there anyone who doesn't like a good restaurant recommendation or new lipstick suggestion from a girl friend? No. That's the answer. Share your stories, girl. They can change the world. Even the ones about lipstick.

This month, it's all about stuff. I've been on a mission to stop being controlled by things and the desire for things but rather, choose things that I love and are of quality, rather than quantity. I know, I know. Happiness in life does not come from our things. If I'm looking to material possessions to satisfy me, I'm going to come up empty...and so is my wallet. However, this journey has led me to a few INCREDIBLE products and things that I've gotta share. It's taught me that instead of serving my things, my things can serve me! These products have made my world a little more fun and hopefully, they can do the same for you!

Debunking the Lie of Anxiety

I'm going to make a confession to you: I am a very anxious person. Truthfully, this isn't much of a confession because anyone that knows me for 5 seconds or more is well aware of this. It's crystal clear from the moment I meet you because I normally talk too fast, or over compensate with humor or avoid prolonged eye contact. There are occasions where this doesn't happen, bless God. But 99% of the time, it does. Anxiety & Courtney are seemingly inseparable besties.