Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life


Real-Life Hospitality: Come on into My Mess!

real life hospitalityI’ve decided it’s okay to invite people into my mess. Nothing builds community like opening our homes to friends and family, but Pinterest images of artistic decor and scrumptious food can intimidate us. Our living rooms definitely don’t look pin-worthy, and on top of that, we’re too busy to have company.

Living in Turkey, my family and I are surrounded by people who slow down enough to make time for community.  Turks ask you all the time just to drop by, and they are genuinely happy when you do. Their hospitality varies from elaborate, formal meals to quick cups of coffee in chaotic living rooms.

Don’t Wait for Perfect

If I have to wait for the perfect time and conditions, hospitality is never going to happen around here. Ideally, I’d like time to clean my house spic and span, get out to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a scrumptious meal, and then actually cook, but those three conditions almost never happen at the same time, so I’ve given up on perfect.

That means my brand of hospitality is sometimes messy.  Over the years, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to let go of perfection. Imagine the following scenarios:

  • You open the oven to take out the chicken you baked for your guests, but it’s stone-cold raw. (Surprise!) You forgot to turn on the oven.)
  • You’re serving tea to neighbors you just met, and your slip slides out from under your skirt into a perfect ring around your feet. You wonder how on earth to make it disappear without anyone noticing. (This actually happened, for crying out loud. Can you believe it?)
  • You’re running late, but your breakfast guests arrive early. You take a deep breath, invite them into the kitchen, and finish prepping your ingredients. When you’re finally ready to start cooking, you realize the gas tank that fuels your stove is empty. (Another surprise!) You hope no one will keel over from starvation while you wait another 45 minutes.

From situations like these, I’ve learned to try to relax and enjoy my guests, whatever happens. Even if the food isn’t ready until one and a half hours after they’ve arrived, people can still have fun.

Build Community

We live far away from family, but inviting friends over has enabled us to build a community network that has grown to be like a family over the years.  My kids love it. When they were little they would ask, “Is anyone coming over tonight?”

Show Love

Opening your home speaks louder than any words.  Just the other day I was surprised when a new Christian told me one thing that encouraged his spiritual life was being invited to our home for holiday dinners for the past three years. Food and family rituals are powerful communicators of love.

The upcoming holiday season may bring Pinterest images to our minds, but I want to encourage you. When it comes to hospitality, don’t wait for perfect. Takeout pizza on paper plates and ice cream from the freezer can make for a lovely meal in the company of friends.

Now it’s your turn. Will you have any guests over the holidays? Do you enjoy hospitality, or does it scare you?

(Re-edited from my archives)

Linking up with Equipping Godly Women



Choosing to Count His Kindnesses


Martha Stewart definitely does not live at my house. There are no picture perfect Thanksgiving decorations around here. I dragged Bob, our half-dead ficus, from the balcony to my living room to be this year’s Thanksgiving tree. I figure Bob may not make it through the winter, but at least he’ll have his moment of glory at Thanksgiving. Continue reading


Shining Our Lights Brighter Over the Holidays

Shining Our Lights BrighterJesus called us the light of the world. He told us to let our light shine, but sometimes I’m too busy or too wrapped up in my own world to think much about shining.

My friend Debbie lets her light shine in a special way every Thursday at 12:30 in Austin, Texas. Through an elementary school mentoring program, Debbie has lunch with Susan, a little girl who lives with her grandmother because her mother died, and her father’s an unfit guardian. Continue reading


Making a Difference in an Overwhelming World

making a differenceDo you ever feel like a tiny grain of sand in an overwhelming world? We watch the news, and our hearts are broken by mind-boggling suffering. The conflict in Iraq and Syria hits my family hard because it’s relatively close. Kobani, for instance, is 800 miles away from Izmir, where we live. Over a million refugees have entered Turkey, many with only the clothes on their backs.

This is happening at my doorstop. The sheer magnitude of it overwhelms. What could I possibly do to make a difference?

I learned a lesson from my kids.

Continue reading


When You Feel More Like a Drill Sergeant Than a Mother

Faith in Action Fridays

No one ever told me that motherhood was sometimes like being a drill sergeant. Someone’s got to get the troups organized. I easily fall into a mode of barking out orders when I’m trying to get everyone out the door: “It’s time to get going!” “Get your shoes on!” “Could you PLEASE turn off that computer!”

Between orthodontist appointments, piano lessons, grocery shopping, preparing meals, house cleaning, and ministry, I can fall into a pattern of rushing myself and my kids through the day. My kids would be the first to tell you that Drill Sergeant Mom is no fun. Continue reading


Slowing Down to Find Joy in the Ordinary

Betsy de Cruz fearfully made momWhen my kids were little, the daily routine of diapers, fixing meals, and getting up nights to feed the baby or settle my toddler made me feel like I was on a treadmill. Worn out and weary, I’d wonder what happened to the abundant, joyful life I read about in the Bible.

Paul’s word to “Rejoice in the Lord always” sounded irrelevant. What was joy anyway? Was that like pie in the sky by and by? Maybe joy was for heaven? Half the time I was just trying to survive now without losing my mind!

Today my kids are older, but the challenge remains: how to move beyond survival into a more joyful life? We women carpool kids, hold down jobs, cook, clean, make sure the kids to do their homework, and teach Sunday school.  How do we get off the treadmill?


I’m writing for Fearfully Made Mom today. Come on over to read the rest of this post.

Linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday.


Courage, Dear Heart (When You’re Scared Senseless)

Courage dear heartI always said I’d celebrate my 50th birthday by getting a tattoo. But 50 came and went, and I didn’t get that tattoo after all.

I was too scared. Scared of what people might think. (I don’t exactly look like the tattoo type, you know.) Scared it would hurt too much. Scared I’d regret it later.

But since last month, a friend’s tattoo keeps catching my eye. It says:

Courage, dear heart.

Courage, dear heart.  As I think about those words, I remember all the times I’ve felt fear. Fear that would have paralyzed me had God not carried me through.

I was scared to death to get on a plane from Texas to Istanbul when I was 24. Even more scared when I arrived at my new Turkish home with people I could barely talk to.

Scared when I could hardly walk and the doctor told me I had rheumatoid arthritis at age 27.

Scared silly to say “yes” when I got my second marriage proposal from the man who’d broken off our engagement four years earlier. I’d have to go live in El Salvador to marry him.

Daunted when my husband and I loaded up our two toddlers and 17 suitcases to get on another plane back to Turkey 5 years later.

Nervous to take the first step and knock on my neighbors’ doors to say hi.

Even more nervous to call younger women on the phone when I sensed God calling me to a discipleship ministry. What if they thought I was an idiot?

Doubtful when I started home schooling my two kids. What if I messed up their education?

Anxious beyond words when my dear husband had a mini-stroke at age 53.  I sat in the hospital waiting room wondering, “What would I do if Jose couldn’t take care of me anymore?”

Petrified to tell people we believed God was calling us to plant a new church in our Muslim city. Who did we think we were, anyway? What if we failed? What would people think?

What kind of fears have you faced?

I don’t know what fears you might be facing today. Maybe you’re worried about that doctor appointment, or wondering if your marriage is going to make it through. Maybe you’re afraid the depression you’re under will never lift.

What I do know is this. Whatever you’re scared of, God is bigger. You can be brave in the face of fear because God is on your side. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. Courage means you keep going in spite of fear. You keep hanging in there when the going gets tough.

It’s okay to be afraid. God knows our weakness. His voice whispers reassurance:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Take courage, dear heart. God is with you.

Joining up with Equipping Godly Women‘s Fellowship Friday and with Suzie Eller’s “You Don’t Have to Be Brave.” link up.
Photo courtesy of Zeynep A.


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