Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Ride Home - 1/27/11


Mountain View
A mountain view can literally take your breath away. Getting a clearer view of God can do the same. Here at the Warming House, you’ll find truth that will help you know and understand who God is and how He feels about you. What you find here may cause you to live your life a little differently.

Do you ever doubt that God exists? Do you ever doubt that He is loving and good? For the past two years, our family has experienced some extraordinary hardship. Although we knew God was with us, we didn’t feel His presence. We didn’t see clear evidence of His hand at work in our situations and longed for Him to demonstrate Himself to us. We were at the bottom. Things had gone so wrong and were so bad that I wondered to myself, “Am I a fool to believe?”
 
In times like this, it is so important to cling to truth. Our emotions can trick us and give us an inaccurate picture of God. The evidences of God are the truths we need to cling to. Evidences of God can be found in the Bible where the truth about His true character, His promises, and His ways are displayed. Other evidences can be found in your past where God has demonstrated Himself to you in various life situations.

In my situation, I chose to focus on the things God has taught me about Himself in the Bible. I clung to them like a winded person sucking oxygen through an oxygen machine. I also looked back through the years of my life and plunged myself into memories of the times God has demonstrated His love and faithfulness to me – and there are many. Regardless of what has happened in my life, I continue to believe. Yes, there is a God and He is good.

This past week, God evidenced Himself to us yet again.


Our son came home one night with an incredible story. He told us that when he was getting ready to leave for Bible study earlier that evening, he had felt uneasy about driving – something he has never felt before. As he left home, he felt God say to Him (like an internal whisper), “Take it easy driving tonight.”

He was extra cautious and arrived at Bible study safely. Coming home, he got on the highway behind a car that was going really slow. Normally, Tanner would immediately get in the left lane and zip past but something compelled him to stay put. He then looked up ahead and thought, “Are those headlights coming toward me?” This was a divided highway with a median in the middle – two lanes on each side. The oncoming car was on the wrong side of the highway going south in a lane meant to go north! The car flew by at full speed. If our son had pulled over into that lane, the oncoming car would have hit him head-on.


I am so thankful for what God did for us that night when our son went to Bible study. He didn’t do it because of anything good in any of us. He did it because of the goodness in Him. It is absolutely extraordinary and it was as though He was saying to us, “I’m still here.” My heart desperately needed that. Friends, be encouraged. God is real. He exists. He may be working behind the scenes in your life, but He is most definitely with you today.

“Oh, Church. Come stand in the light. Our God is not dead. He’s alive! He’s alive!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyYt9V8e63U&feature=youtube_gdata_player



Fireside
Join me by the fire for conversations about how to nurture your family and create a warm and inviting home for family and friends.

We love our friends. Unfortunately, many of our friends (and family) live in other cities around the world. That’s why I cherish the photo Christmas cards we receive each year. They give me a chance to see the faces of those we care about and they allow me to watch their kids grow up. For years, I struggled with what to do with those cards after Christmas had passed. I couldn’t throw them away, and I didn’t want to just stash them in a box in my storage room so I came up with an idea. It may be a little late to share this with you since Christmas was a month ago, but if you’re like me, you probably still have those picture cards lying around.

I’m not super crafty so this is really simple. Buy a frame to match your home décor. I bought one of the inexpensive wooden poster frames you can get at Wal-Mart or Target, but you can get a nicer one if you prefer. Buy a piece of poster board. Take your frame and remove the cardboard or paper piece just under the glass. Lay it on the poster board and trace around it. Cut it out to fit your frame. Get your pictures and cut around the faces. An option is to use decorative scissors to give a nice edge to the photos. Lay them out on the poster board and arrange them so they cover the entire surface. You could also print a quote or scripture to place in the middle of your poster board then arrange the pictures around it. Once your photos are positioned, attach them with photo-safe glue or double-sided tape. Lastly, turn the poster board over and write the year on the back. This makes a nice keepsake. Each year you can remove the old photos and store them easily, then arrange your new pictures on another piece of poster board for display. That’s it! Super simple but a great way to enjoy the smiling faces of your friends the whole year through.


Pinecones and Twigs
Just like gathering nature’s treasures on a hike through the woods, you never know what you’ll find here – a great read, an inspiring photo of nature, or maybe the latest bargain. Check out this spot at The Warming House for something fun.
 
Mission Trip Scholarship!

 Children at missionary school (Uganda, Africa)

I’m so excited about this! Through the years, I have watched God do amazing things through short-term mission trips. As God shares His ministry with us, He teaches us something about Himself and we are changed forever. There are huge benefits to those being served – and to those who go to serve. As a former mission ministry leader, I have had a front-row seat to see how God changes lives on both ends.

At The Warming House, we want to be a part of what God is doing in hearts around the world - as He allows us to. Our family’s strong belief is that God provides for us so that we can provide for others. As a result, The Warming House is now accepting applications for a mission trip scholarship. Up to $2,000.00 will be awarded to one applicant. Adults and youth are welcome to apply. There is no age limit.

Submit your name, an explanation of the mission journey you have been called to, the dates of travel, how much money you still need, and a short essay (125 word maximum) on your passion for this particular place of service and why you feel called to go.

A panel will select finalists then post them on a link through polldaddy.com. (To protect your privacy, we will not post your last name.) The Warming House bloggers will then have the opportunity to vote for the person they would like to see receive the scholarship. Applications should be submitted to thewarminghouse@gmail.com no later than Friday, February 4th. Please note: all funds must be distributed to/through a not-for-profit ministry with a 501(c)3 status.

Spread the word to people you know who might need some help with their mission trip costs!

 A Steaming Hot Mug
Stories of Compassion to Warm your Soul from the Inside Out

Okay friends . . . it’s time to get this piece rollin’. I strongly believe that this section of the blog will soon become a favorite for many of us. To get you going, I’m offering a little incentive. Those who submit stories by Friday, February 4th will have their names placed in a drawing for Starbucks gift cards and I-tunes cards.

Submit your stories (150 word maximum) to thewarminghouse@gmail.com and I’ll select some each week for publication on this blog. Your stories must fall into one of the following three categories: 1) Stories of a time when you experienced God’s compassion directly or through the actions of another person; 2) Specific things you’ve done to teach your children compassion; or 3) How your church or someone you know has demonstrated the compassion of Christ in your church or outside its walls. Can’t wait to hear (and share) your stories here at the Warming House!


I want to tell you how encouraged I have been by your visits to The Warming House. Some of you have come from the other side of the world. Please know that even though we have never met face-to-face and I don't know your names, I keep you in my thoughts and prayers each week. Until next time, stay warm and cozy.

Lisa
















Friday, January 14, 2011

To Save a Life


Mountain View
A mountain view can literally take your breath away. Getting a clearer view of God can do the same. Here at the Warming House, you’ll find truth that will help you know and understand who God is and how He feels about you. What you find here may cause you to live your life a little differently.

The “outcasts” of this world are pretty special to me. One of them is a man named Floyd. Floyd is in prison for armed robbery. I would like to say that I write to him faithfully. I have not. I write to him occasionally. Each time I do, he writes back immediately. I mailed him a letter late last week. On Wednesday, I got a 5-page letter back. In it he told me about some serious health issues he's had since being “locked up”. He then shared, “I was scared to death, but Lisa you wanna know what really hurt more than those two health issues? Not having nobody who cared about me. I can’t just say, ‘Hey Lisa and Mike! Can you guys accept me into your family and care about me so I don’t have to go through this alone?’ It doesn’t work like that.” If my memory is correct, Floyd was in foster care growing up. After his arrest, his fiancé died when she was hit by a drunk driver. He has no friends or family to visit him in prison. In the past year, I have learned that one of the great fears of those in prison is that they will be forgotten by those on the outside as the world goes on without them. They often feel that they matter to no one.

God loves the outcast. How do I know? Because without Christ, we are all outcasts. Remember the Garden of Eden and the fact that Adam and Eve (and everyone in the generations to follow) were “cast out” of the garden because of their rebellion against God? (Gen. 3:23-24; Rom 5:18; Rom 3:10-12) God could have left us out in the cold, but He didn’t. Instead He has shown us incredible mercy. He wanted to bring us into His family, so He said to His Son, “Go to them.” Go find the sinner, the lost, and those wandering around in the world like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:12-13 & 36) Do whatever it takes to bring them in. So Jesus came to earth, suffered and died a brutal death so you could have a place in God’s family. (Eph. 1:4-5) Why? Because YOU MATTER to God! Yes, you. He cares about you no matter how many mistakes you’ve made. (Rom. 5:8) You are significant in His eyes. Why else would He send His Son to die for you?

God wants you to understand your significance to Him. It grieves Him deeply when you don’t. It grieves me too. No one should ever feel that they matter to no one. If you doubt what I'm saying, listen to this scripture.
'How precious it is Lord to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can't even count how many times a day your thoughts turn towards me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!' Psalm 139:17-18 (TLB) Bottom line - God can't get you out of His mind.

If you are already in a relationship with God, you can make a difference by doing what Christ instructed His followers to do. “Go to them.” (Matt 25:31-40) Notice the student sitting alone at the lunch table, reach out to the single mom sitting on the back pew with her kids, feed the homeless, go to the prisons, visit nursing home residents, remember the orphans of the world. Go to those on the fringes who think they’ve done such wrong that God would want nothing to do with them. Tell them what God has done for you. Show them His love. Help them understand His heart. Let them know that God sees their potential and will never give up on them. (Phil. 1:6) Remind them that they can NEVER do anything that will make Him stop loving them. (Jer. 31:3; Psalm 86:5)
Include them in your world as God has included you in His.

With Christ in you, you can do it. Go to them.


Fireside
Join me by the fire for conversations about how to nurture your family and create a warm and inviting home for family and friends.

With “snow days” and championship football games this past week, a slew of young people have camped out in our home.



We also hosted a visitor from Africa. During his stay with us, Antonio shared that he believes God brings people into his life for a purpose. Antonio honors that purpose by bringing those people into his “family”. As we welcomed him into our home and our family, he welcomed us into his.

Relationships make life rich. Hosting friends in our home is something our family enjoys very much. Each person who enters our home blesses us immeasurably. All of these people become “family” to us. We are thankful for the opportunities God has given us to spend time with them.

Last week I told you I would post “10 things you can do to make guests feel comfortable in your home”. Well . . . I came up with a couple of extra ideas so it’s actually “12 things you can do”. Here they are:

1) Leave the light on. Do you remember those old Motel 6 commercials that promised, “We’ll leave the light on for you”? When a light burns outside a front door it says, “Come on in. We’ve been expecting you. You’re welcome here.”



2) Decorate the entrance to your home. There are so many options here, but hanging a wreath on your front door is a quick and easy thing you can do. Another idea is to burn a large candle on a stand outside your front door. A friend of mine did this when I arrived at her home one evening. So simple, yet nothing I’ve seen has ever made me feel so warm and welcome. If you do this, be sure to keep an eye on that flame to prevent a fire.

3) When guests arrive, stop what you’re doing and greet them at the door – even if someone else let them in. Offer them something to drink.

4) Keep a treat dish on an entry hall table so they have something for the road when they leave your home. I typically stock mine with store-bought candies, but there are some who go all out by wrapping home-baked goodies in decorative bags tied with ribbon during the holiday season.



5) Scents. My favorite scents are sugar cookie, p0und cake, winter woods, and gingerbread. These scents are all about comfort. What else would you expect at The Warming House?!

6) Cleanliness. A friend of mine once said, “Nothing makes me more comfortable than clean”. I agree. There was a time when I actually stayed as a guest at someone’s home where it was apparent that the sheets had not been changed. Ugh! Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well and was all too happy to leave that place. Your home doesn’t have to be tip-top perfect, but pick up clutter, put clean sheets on the bed, and clean the bathrooms your guest will be using. Your preparations will communicate the message that your guest is important to you.

7) Meals. People have to eat. When my guests arrive, I show them where drinks, food, plates and glasses are. Then I tell them that “our home is their home” and give them permission to help themselves to whatever they want. At mealtime, we always have a plan to make sure they’re fed. Sometimes it’s a home-cooked meal. Other times, it’s a meal at a restaurant, but we always make sure their needs are met. This sounds like a no-brainer, but once again, I stayed in a home where the host didn’t offer us breakfast or have any breakfast items stocked in the kitchen. We ended up getting dressed and taking our kids out to eat.

8) Provide visual reminders that you’re happy to have them in your home. You can find welcome mats that say “welcome”, write a “welcome” message on a small dry erase board and place it on a decorative easel in your kitchen, or stencil a message on your wall as we did in our guest room.


9) Keep snacks and water by their bed. If you don’t like using bottled water, buy an inexpensive carafe and fill it before your guest retires for the night. An extra touch would be to find out their favorite snacks beforehand and specifically stock those in the snack basket.
10) Make sure there are plenty of towels available and provide extra toiletries in case they forgot something. When we stay at a hotel, I bring home the unused shower caps and bottles of shampoo and lotion. I stock these items in a container in my linen closet. This makes it easy and inexpensive to restock the toiletry basket for my guests.



11) Consider placing a small welcome gift on the bed for a special guest who has traveled a long distance.

12) When your guest leaves, walk them to the door, thank them for coming and
invite them to come again.


Pinecones and Twigs
Just like gathering nature’s treasures on a hike through the woods, you never know what you’ll find here – a great read, an inspiring photo of nature, or maybe the latest bargain. Check out this spot at The Warming House for something fun.

This past week, I watched a movie with an unforgettable message. To Save a Life is a reminder of the people in the world who feel they have no value to anyone, and the difference one person can make in the life of another. It will inspire you. Parents please note: This movie presents the reality of issues facing teens today - drinking, suicide, cutting, and premarital sex. The overall message makes this one well worth the watch.



A Steaming Hot Mug
Stories of Compassion to Warm your Soul from the Inside Out

Submit your stories (150 word maximum) to warminghouse@gmail.com and I will select some each week for publication on this blog. Your stories must fall into one of the following three categories: 1) Stories of a time when you experienced God’s compassion directly or through the actions of another person; 2) Specific things you’ve done to teach your children compassion; or 3) How your church or someone you know has demonstrated the compassion of Christ in your church or outside its walls. Can’t wait to hear (and share) your stories here at the Warming House!

Down the Path

Watch next week's blog for information about my mission trip scholarship. $2,000 will be awarded to a recipient selected by bloggers.

Enjoy the View,

Lisa






Friday, January 7, 2011

Out on the Ice

Mountain View
A mountain view can literally take your breath away. Getting a clearer view of God can do the same. Here at the Warming House, you'll find truth about who God is and how He feels about you. You will be challenged to live your life a little differently.


Sometimes you read something that just sticks with you. That happened to me recently when I read an article by Les Steckel (FCA President/CEO). In his article, Les describes life as being much like a hockey game. We can be skating along on smooth ice then suddenly an unexpected life event slams us into the boards and leaves us lying on the ice. Thankfully, we have a God who helps us get back on our feet again when we trust Him to do it.

As I thought about this writing, my mind wandered to the spectators and teammates standing behind the boards as we lie on the ice. In my life there have been times when those who watched me go down responded by turning away and telling me they'd be there to listen one day down the road "when I got better". Others stayed behind the boards shouting theological platitudes and quoting scripture about what I needed to be doing and thinking. While I was familiar with the things they were saying and knew them to be true, their words left me feeling empty and cold - as though I wasn't measuring up.

Now for the good news! I have also had the good fortune to experience a very different kind of community where friends immediately came out on the ice, knelt down beside me, wiped the blood from my forehead, held my hand, and stayed with me until I was strong enough to get back up and skate on.

I encountered this type of Christian compassion just this past week when our family traveled to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for our son's heart procedure. As we sat in the waiting room, visions and remembrances flooded my mind. 15 years earlier, we had been in this same room before our son's heart surgery at the age of two. Our pastor, friends, and family had been there with us. In the weeks leading up to surgery, there had been many expressions of love from people in our church and community. I recalled the prayer vigil held on the eve of his surgery; numerous phone calls; gifts of teddy bears, musical giraffes, books and cards; visits to the hospital; and meals brought to our home after our son's discharge. Some just walked up to me and simply said, "I don't know what to do or say, but I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Let us know if there's anything we can do." I clearly remember the woman who intentionally read my favorite children's book, Love You Forever, during the children's sermon the first Sunday we were back in church. It was Mother's Day.

Our family has since moved away from that city, yet when our son had his procedure last week, our phones were once again busy with calls from family and friends. People prayed for us and offered to open their homes to us if we needed a place to stay. Facebook messages ministered to us, and the morning of his procedure, numerous texts of support and prayer flashed across our phones. In addition, four friends from our former church unexpectedly showed up at the hospital waiting room.

Joshua, Tanner, and Courtney on the elephant bed.
(Gotta love Children's Mercy!)

The actions of these people remind me of the sweet love of my Savior who came out from behind the boards to save us and show us the truth about God (John 5:19, John 14:9-11). He comforted hearts that were broken and shattered (Luke 7:11-15) and fed those who were hungry (Matthew 15:32). He cared about the whole person (Matthew 4:23-25); welcomed the outcasts and those society had rejected (Matthew 15:21-28); healed the unlovely and unlovable (Mark 1:40-42); gave rest to the weary (Matthew 11:28-30); took the time to listen to stories of hardship from hurting people (Luke 8:47-48); touched those who desperately needed a loving touch - even those with despicable diseases (Matthew 8:3); rescued women in crisis - including prostitutes (John 8:1-11); sat at the bedside of the sick (Matthew 8:14-15); crossed socioeconomic, political and racial boundaries to show mercy (John 4:43-54); lifted the oppressed and devalued (Matthew 20:29-34); courageously demonstrated compassion even when it was unpopular (Luke 13:10-17, Mark 3:1-6); and showed mercy to those who mourn (Luke 7:13-14). In the end, He willingly gave His life to save those in danger (John 10:14-18, Luke 23:44-49, John 3:16-17).

(If you aren't familiar with the Bible, just look up the books in the table of contents. They'll be listed by books of the Old Testament and New Testament. The verses listed above are all found in the New Testament.)

People can tell me about the love of Jesus all day long, but when they demonstrate His love it leaves a permanent imprint on my heart. Let me tell you, that's exactly what I need when I'm lying on the ice. Those expressions of love and compassion, no matter how small, feel like clouds and warm blankets softening the harsh edges of crisis and challenge in life. Friends, that's called comfort.

John (one of Jesus' followers and a close friend) tells us, "Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" - as Jesus did.

Considering the heart of Christ, it seems to me that coming out from behind the boards is a practice that should be the norm for Christians in our world today as we follow His example. Imagine how the world might change if we would give Christ the freedom to live and love through us as we kneel down beside those who lay on the ice.

This past week I have been loved well, and I am so grateful for the ways God has demonstrated His love to us through these faithful friends. Whether or not you have experienced this type of compassion from the people around you, know that Jesus has compassion for you and cares about the things you're going through today. He is there beside you on the ice and will help you if you let Him. All you have to do is ask.


Fireside
Join me by the fire for conversations about how to nurture your family and create a warm and inviting home for family and friends.

We have always viewed our home as a place of ministry. At the main entry to our home stands a beautiful handmade wooden door, but in reality it's more like a revolving door with people coming and going at all times. That's the way I like it.



When family, friends, teens, college students, the lonely, the grieving, international visitors, those recovering from surgery, and even the homeless have stepped across the threshold of our home, our desire is that they feel completely welcome and at ease. It is intended to be a place of comfort (much like a warming house) regardless of the path that has brought them to us. Some of this "comfort" can be accomplished through decorating.

Inside our home, I have used scripture in tasteful ways throughout my decor because it brings comfort and encouragement to our family. The use of color also makes our home warm and inviting. You will not find one white wall in my home. Although it sometimes requires courage to paint a wall a rich burgundy or deep brown, color is an inexpensive way to dramatically change the feel of a room.

Brown walls in our master bedroom


Cozy blankets are an essential item in a comfortable home. We've placed them in just about every room. Hung across the backs of chairs and stacked in baskets, they are always ready to warm a family member or guest.

Lighting also plays a major role. We have dimmers on key light fixtures so we can soften the light when we want to create a warmer atmosphere. Candlelight is my favorite. I use real and battery-operated versions everywhere. Strings of white lights aren't just for Christmas and can be used throughout the year in creative ways. The new "twig" lights are really fun and look great tucked into plants and floral arrangements.


"Twig" lights


During these cold winter months, hot chocolate is the perfect drink to make guests and family feel warm and cozy inside. Here's our family's favorite recipe.


White Hot Chocolate
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2007
(Found on foodnetwork.com)


Ingredients:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped topping
Mint leaf, for garnish


Instructions:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine white chocolate chips and heavy cream. Stir continuously until white chocolate chips have completely melted. Stir in the half-and-half, and vanilla extract. Stir occasionally until heated through. Pour into mugs and top with a dollop of whipped topping and garnish with mint leaf. Absolutely delicious!




Watch next week's blog for 10 things you can do to make your guests feel at home.


Pinecones and Twigs
Just like gathering nature's treasures on a hike through the woods, you never know what you'll find here - a great read, an inspiring photo of nature, or maybe the latest bargain. Check out this spot at The Warming House for something fun.


My daughter and I were in one of our favorite stores (Anthropologie) recently and saw this cozy cookbook - perfect for The Warming House.



"Home-baked fruit desserts warm from the oven, bubbling up with delicious juices, fragrant with spices, encased in crisp buttery pastry are comfort foods at their best. (amazon.com)" You'll find over 65 recipes including Apple & Blackberry Crumble, Blueberry and Lemon Polenta Cobbler, Plum and Hazelnut Pandowdy, Apple Brown Betty with Dried Cranberries and Pecans, Caramel Apple Crisp, as well as recipes for clafoutis, slumps, puddings, tarts, and dessert cakes. Is your mouth watering yet?


You can find "Cinnamon, Spice & Warm Apple Pie: Comforting Baked Fruit Desserts for Chilly Days" by Ryland Peters and Small at Anthropologie and Amazon.com.


A Steaming Hot Mug
Stories of Compassion to Warm your Soul from the Inside Out

Submit your stories to
thewarminghouse@gmail.com and I will select some each week for publication on this blog. Your stories must fall into one of the following three categories: 1) Stories of a time when you experienced God's compassion directly or through the actions of another person; 2) Specific things you've done to teach compassion to your children; or 3) How your church or someone you know has demonstrated the compassion of Christ within your church or to those outside its walls. Can't wait to hear (and share) your stories here at The Warming House!



Down the Path
In the future, watch for information about a mission trip scholarship contest. At the end of the year, bloggers will have the opportunity to vote on a Christian charity they would like to see receive a donation from The Warming House.


Stay warm and cozy,


Lisa