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    Choose to Listen

    After a lovely dinner with old friends, my husband turned to me, “Cindy, you hardly let me get a word in all night!” His comment took me by surprise. Had I really dominated the conversation so much? Oh dear. These were my former colleagues whom I hadn’t seen in more than thirty years. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. I totally got carried away with all the catching up,” I feebly mumbled. My apology sounded lame even to me.

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    “The Gospel Comes with a House Key”

    We all have them. That short stack of books that have profoundly impacted our lives. Changed not only our understanding but the way we live. To my short stack I’m adding Rosaria Butterfield’s The Gospel Comes with a House Key.    I’ve read several books on “hospitality.” But none have reached as deeply into the way I think about and practice hospitality as her discussion of it as the overflow of table fellowship and caregiving. Rosaria and her husband’s daily schedule radically incorporates preparing extra food, engaging with neighbors, and filling their guest room as a way to make “strangers into neighbors, and neighbors into the family of God.” In…

  • Heartprints

    Becoming a Welcoming Church

    As parents, we know all too well the pressures of simply getting out the door on Sunday mornings with kids in tow. Along with that comes the added pressure of checking our children into their classes, making sure teachers know about a child’s allergies, or calming a tearful toddler. When it comes down to it, welcoming new people isn’t always on our radar. And sometimes, the bigger problem is that we think our church is already so welcoming that it won’t make a difference if we fail to greet a guest. Thom S. Rainer (church consultant and author of Becoming a Welcoming Church) learned not to ask church members if…

  • Heartprints

    Hospitality: An Overlooked Part of Evangelism

    Do you ever wonder how to encourage your family in sharing their faith? Simple steps such as evangelism training go a long way, but one thing often gets forgotten—the role of hospitality. Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements introduce readers to hospitality as a way of life in The Simplest Way to Change the World. Sometimes as parents it’s easy to get caught up in the mundane elements of day-to-day child rearing. Our ordinary days seem insignificant. But as these authors point out, Jesus is in the business of taking small things and making them big. Not the other way around. “In the same way, the ‘smallest’ things in our lives—ordinary days…

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    Turn Your Radar On!

    April, May, June, July…the time of year for women’s retreats, Mother’s Day teas, and other activities that draw newcomers to your events. You’re familiar with the term “designated driver.” I want to invite you to become a “DESIGNATED ENGAGER.” Let me tell you why… For several years, I was active in women’s ministry at my church. When I attended an event, I knew just about every woman there. I usually had responsibilities at the event and/or hung out with my friends so I didn’t really notice the newcomers very much. I assumed they would jump into the mix and connect on their own. But then, I became the newcomer! It was a vastly…

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    Confessions of a Christian Perfectionist

    Do you host anyone during the Christmas season? Maybe family, neighbors, or dear friends? There was a time when I had guests with great reluctance.   I have always loved Christmas, but somewhere along the way I became a Christmas perfectionist. I guess it started when I was a little girl obsessing over our Christmas tree. I wanted the silver icicles perfectly hung on our tree, but my younger sister basically threw them on the branches. When giving her instructions didn't work, I resorted to rehanging them myself when no one was around.    That began years of wanting everything perfect during the holidays—decorations, food, gifts, house, and family. Although…

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    Fight for Intimacy with Friends and God…right around your own table

    This Friday and Saturday tens of thousands of women around the world will gather in homes, churches and Austin City Limits Live to enjoy the second IF: Gathering. I loved sitting on a friend’s comfy couch last February to watch the simulcast (my review). Also loved following up around a monthly IF: Table to share dinner and our life with God: 6 women, 4 questions, 2 hours.    But you don’t have to sign up for IF: Table to be intentional about inviting the life and power of Jesus into a circle of friends sharing a meal. In his famous description of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 I…

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    Make Your Heart and Home a Place of Grace

    True welcome and nurturing homes seem like a thing of the past. Our homes no longer hang signs of “Welcome,” instead they communicate, “No Soliciting.” I often tell my family before any get-together, “Leave the drama at the door” for fear of tension, confrontation or unpleasantness. When did I start avoiding messiness?   Our culture seems to encourage self-preservation as opposed to taking chances, risking and investing in others. But Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” Instead of avoiding the hard, we need to take the risk, make messes and love each other with no conditions.    This holiday season, we have the opportunity—a gift—to incarnate…

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    Nightmares of Martha Stewart

    I have nightmares of Martha Stewart—not nightmares that come in the dark but those that chase me in broad daylight when I prepare for guests. Do you also feel intimidated by Martha, chefs on the Food Network, and decorators on HGTV? I don’t have their gifts, creativity, or training. Clearly, God didn’t design me to be a chef or a decorator. So, can I just wait for others to invite me to their homes? I don’t think so. God calls us to hospitality (Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:9). In fact, it is a requirement for elders (1 Tim. 3:2). Although the scriptures were written in another culture, opening our homes…