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{Giveaway} Special guest: Karen Ehman on hospitality

This week we see that the Proverbs 31 woman is kind….she opens her arms to the poor and hands to the needy…..I believe this woman knows the value of practicing hospitality and does it regularly! She opens her arms as she opens the door to her home, welcoming in her guest and loving on them the moment they arrive!

Today I have a very special guest on Good Morning Girls- Karen Ehman! Karen is the Director of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family. You can find her blogging at http://karenehman.com.

{GIVEAWAY}

Karen has written a book called A Life That Says Welcome….a wonderful book filled with tips and ideas on how to practice hospitality and today I’m offering it as a giveaway on GMG!

 

The thought of hosting a dinner party or even having a friend over for coffee is enough to give some women flashbacks of lopsided cakes or doomed casseroles from home economics class. But opening up your home to others doesn’t have to be fancy or frightening or cost a fortune, says Karen Ehman.

In A Life That Says Welcome, she offers a practical, painless (no crafting or cooking aptitude required) course on hospitality. It helps busy women open up their hearts in order to open up their homes. Full of tips, ideas, recipes, to-dos, and how-tos, A Life That Says Welcome shows readers that opening up their homes is less scary and less work than they might think.

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“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 (NIV)

“It’s okay, slugger. Keep trying. Remember, ‘Practice makes perfect.’”

The Little League baseball coach attempted to encourage my son who’d just struck out at the plate. Coach Mike wasn’t the only adult to utter that phrase to one of my kids during their young life. My daughter’s violin teacher spurred her students on to more hours of rehearsal by voicing the same phrase. And the kids’ Bible-quizzing coaches ascribed to the truth of the old expression.

Teachers urge students to practice their penmanship. Bosses advise employees to practice their duties until they’ve sharpened their skills. And what former piano student can’t still hear their teacher’s voice echoing, “Practice, practice, practice”?

But is it true that practice always makes perfect?

Tucked away in the New Testament book of Romans, God seems to send us a quick text message by way of a simple two-word sentence: “Practice hospitality” but there is no mention of perfect.

However, the very word hospitality can evoke a feeling of panic and expectations of perfect. Images come to mind of magazine-like décor, gourmet-style fancy foods, spotless surroundings and stunning homes.

But do you, or your home or food, have to be perfect in order to practice hospitality?

I find it interesting when studying Bible verses, to not just look at what the verse says but also at what it doesn’t say. Romans 12:13 does not say many things. It does not say, “Now those of you who have roomy, gorgeous homes, offer hospitality.” Or “You culinary-savvy gals who can give Rachael Ray a run for her money, have people over for supper.”

No reference to the cleanliness of our homes, the décor on our walls or our spatula-wielding expertise in the kitchen (or lack thereof). We are simply told to practice.

The verb “practice” is defined as “to perform an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve one’s proficiency.” It doesn’t state we will ever gain perfection, only that we will see progress.

I’m thankful I was encouraged as a young woman to practice hospitality with the goal of getting better, not obtaining perfection. My starting point was near zero, knowing only how to boil water and make “slice and bake” cookies. Thankfully, God wasn’t looking for perfection in this area for He would not have found it. Instead of looking at the condition of my home, He was more often looking at the condition of my heart.

So, over twenty years ago, I swallowed hard, whispered a prayer and began to open both my home and my heart. My practice has made progress. I have learned tips for decorating, methods for cleaning and gained an arsenal of easy, delicious dishes to offer guests.

However, I have also served burnt chicken, had company spy cobwebs on my light fixtures and moved piles of unfolded laundry off the couch so they could find a place to sit. Planned company may give us time to tidy up and whip up something yummy. But spontaneous hospitality means we need to be willing to welcome others into our lived-in homes and serve frozen pizzas and ice cream sandwiches with a smile.

Practicing hospitality is one of God’s ways of encouraging us to bless others, but often we end up blessed instead. Will you join me in this venture as we make room in our hearts and our homes? Even with practice our houses, cuisine, and us may not be perfect, but we’ll be connecting hearts and touching lives as we seek to serve those whom God puts in our path. Put the kettle on. Company’s coming!

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Karen Ehman

Through her daily blog, writing ventures and many speaking events, Karen’s passion is to provide women with creative inspiration and doable ideas to help them live their priorities and love their lives. She is the Director of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family.

A popular presenter at Hearts at Home moms’ conferences, Karen is also the author of five books including The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized, A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others and the recently released best-selling ebook Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday.

She has been a guest on national media shows including The 700 Club, At Home Live, Engaging Women, The Harvest Show, Moody Midday Connection and Focus on the Family. The mother of three, she and her college sweetheart Todd just celebrated their silver anniversary. You can find her blogging at http://www.karenehman.com

 

 

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3 Ways To Be Strong

In my first video  at the beginning of our Proverbs 31 series I mentioned that the word “virtuous” in Hebrew actually was used in the Bible normally to describe men……men of war….men ready for battle…soldiers ready to fight.
What a strange way to describe the Proverbs 31 woman……or so I thought.
My sweet sisters in Christ…..we are called to do battle. We are called to be women of war!
We are called to fight for our families!

Our marriages!

Our children!

As we are reading through Proverbs 31 we see that everything this woman does….she does for her family….for their benefit.

What is her focus? Her family…..and ultimately bringing praise to her Lord!

In verse 17 we see that the Proverbs 31 woman is strong….she has physical strength but she also has spiritual and mental strength too. Because of the battle we are in, we need to be strong as well. Here are a few ways to build our strength in these three areas.

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Building Spiritual Strength
1. Regularly read your bible and apply God’s Word to your life.
I love a great devotional book like the next person…..but we should never substitute reading a devotional with reading God’s Word on our own and applying it to our life. Reading a devotional is great but it should never take the place of time spent reading God’s Word……remember He speaks to us through His Word….God’s Word is alive! (Hebrews 4:12)

2. Pray
Pray daily, hourly, minute-by-minute make communicating with God a breath by breath habit. We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)…..make conversing with the creator of the universe as necessary as breathing.

3. Godly fellowship
Participate in Godly fellowship. That’s one for the purposes of having you all in smaller groups…..we are told not to forsake the meeting of each other. (Hebrews 10:25) Why? So that we can encourage each other!

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Building Mental Strength
1. Memorization
So much of the battle occurs in our minds…..we need to make our minds strong by having verses memorized that can combat the harmful thoughts that attack us.

2. Take thoughts captive
Pay attention to what you are thinking about and focus on God’s Word! (2 Corinthians 10:5) Focus on God’s goodness, His promises, His truth…..who you are in Christ and what He has done for you!

3. Disciplined & Organized
Even when we don’t “feel like it” we need to lead a disciplined life, “rising before our children”, planning our days and being intentional and focused with the time God has given us.

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Building Physical Strength
1. Exercise
Working out with kids, without kids, in the gym, outside, at home etc…..incorporate working out into your everyday life.

2. Get rest
Rise early but also make sure you are getting enough sleep to stay healthy. Yes, the Proverbs 31 woman occasionally “burned the midnight oil” but she also had to make sure she got to bed so that she could rise early. Don’t wear your bodies down going to bed super late and then waking up super early.

3. Eat right
We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Feed your body healthy foods that will help fuel your body and give you the energy that you need to help you accomplish the tasks that are at hand. We see in verses 14 & 15 that she brings her food from afar….she wants the best food for her family and then in the morning she prepares the food for her family.

 

Looking at the 3 lists, which area of strength are you strongest in? What are you doing to build your strength in that area? Which area of strength are you weakest in? What steps can you take to become stronger?

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Women around the world are IN THE WORD!

Every Wednesday we will have a link-up. If you are a blogger we invite you to link-up any blog posts that you have written about your quiet time that week. We ask that you put our button in the post or on your sidebar so we can find each other. We do not have code for this link up button. Just right click and save as. Then link it to http://www.goodmorninggirls.org

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Love God Greatly!


 

 

 

 

{Week 4} WIWW Link-Up Party… Beginning Well to Finish Well

 

It’s officially summer break around here.

How do I know?  Because the fourth grade class science experiment (also known as Maisy, the friendliest albino rat you’ll ever wanna meet) has now taken up permanent residence in our home.  Tyler may or may not have reassured me just a couple of nights ago that really, there was no one breaking into our house at 2am.  Apparently when you’re half asleep, an excitable rat (who, in my groggy half-slumber, I had forgotten really does now live in our upstairs… and on purpose, no less) sounds an awful lot like a burglar when she creatively redecorates her cage in the middle of the night.

And here I thought we had agreed to stick to raising children.  Ha.

I also know it’s summertime because after spending much of the day on Monday clearing fallen sticks from our back yard, I peered out my kitchen window on Tuesday morning to find three imaginative boys dragging every last stick back into our yard so they could build their first fort of the season.

Of course they did.  And it’s a great one, at that.  (For the record, I have an engineer, a laborer, a narrator and a clear {Miss} bossy pants on my hands.  A well rounded crew, I tell ya.)

 

 

By Wednesday morning, the four had barely swallowed the last bites of their breakfasts before collaborating in the kitchen for a family science experiment.  While I really don’t wish for their little minds to shut off completely during summer break, I would settle for a couple of hours each morning so I can catch up with their growing intellects.  Call me crazy, but I can’t seem to effectively answer physics questions about momentum, vortexes and inertia before 7:00am.  Go brush your teeth, please, and let me Google it think about it for a second.

One boy needs me upstairs while another pair needs an intervention downstairs, and the girl needs me in the same room as her always, don’t you know.  The phone rings, ironically always at the exact same moment that someone needs me in the potty.  And while it would be a whole lot faster to sort the laundry myself, teaching is absolutely more necessary than efficiency.  The gaps are filled in with everything from neighbor kids to baby dolls, important Lego repairs to grocery store runs, baseball games galore and questions of all kinds, with barely a down moment from the minute my feet hit the floor in the morning until I sink into bed each night.

In my own strength, I’m always a step behind.  It’s four to one after all, and clearly they won’t be sleeping in anytime soon.  While the surface things may (or may not) get accomplished, if I’m not careful, their impressionable hearts might not be any more nourished by the end of the day than when we started.

So even on these summer days, I will rise early.  Oh, this heart needs preparation for the day ahead!  I will humbly fall on my knees before the One who knows what my day will hold, and I will give it to Him.  I will ask today, just like every day before, for help in surrendering my own agenda so that He might accomplish His in me.  I will feast on the promises of the One who gives me my Daily Bread, and Who gently leads those with young.  I will beg for patience and mercy, so that I can give the same to these four whom God has entrusted to my care, who are watching every move I make.   

And by God’s grace, I’ll turn busy moments into God-moments:

A ten year old boy can feel loved and heard (after a long season of hearing us say “no” to the things of this world), all because his parents listened to his heart, and very intentionally said “yes” to a pet rat.  I can slow down long enough to tell him that if we as his parents love him and long to give him good things, just think how much more his Father in heaven loves him and promises much greater blessings to those who walk in obedience with Him.

I can spend time sitting with my children in a fort made of sticks, marveling at the beauty around us and God’s goodness to us through His creation.  I can purposefully teach them that only a powerful, very real God could do something this magnificent, just by speaking a word.

Science lessons can bring on conversations with my kids about how small we are in such a complex universe, and how when we don’t always know the answers, God does.  Science books answer some questions.  God’s Word is applicable for all of life, and we should depend on it daily.

Daily tasks can teach little ones how to humbly serve.  Gentle answers can show grace.  Small helps can be the hands and feet of Christ to children whose hearts are looking for Someone to trust in.  And when they ask why we help and love and forgive, we can remember together the work that Jesus did on the cross for us.

 

To finish well, I must begin well.  The earlier the better.  With the renewing of my mind.   

 

I know this:  I can’t afford not to.

 

“She rises while it is yet night…” ~Proverbs 31:15

 

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;

in the morning I lay my requests before you

and wait in expectation.” ~Psalm 5:3

At His feet,

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Women around the world are IN THE WORD!

Every Wednesday we will have a link-up. If you are a blogger we invite you to link-up any blog posts that you have written about your quiet time that week. We ask that you put our button in the post or on your sidebar so we can find each other. We do not have code for this link up button. Just right click and save as. Then link it to http://www.goodmorninggirls.org

 

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The Proverbs 31 Woman-Week 4

Welcome back to week 4 in our Proverbs 31 series!

This week we are reading:

Proverbs 31:15-16
She gets up while it is still dark;
She provides food for her family
And portions for her servant girls.
She considers a filed and buys it;
Out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

 

(If you cannot see this video click here.)

We see in verse 15, the Proverbs 31 woman gets up early and organizes her day! She is proactive instead of reactive!

We see in verse 16, the Proverbs 31 woman is wise with her money! She considers how she should spend her money before she actually does!

So far in Proverbs 31 we see that the Proverbs 31 woman is a wife of noble character, she has a husband who has full confidence in her, she brings him good all the days of her life, she selects and works with eager hands and she brings her food from afar.

This week we will see that one of the ways she is able to accomplish so much is because she rises early! She plans what she will feed her family for the day and organizes her day before the rest of her family begins theirs.

She believes that productive mornings = easier days.

Our challenge this week:

Rise before your family!!! Come on girls I know YOU can do it!!! I know it’s hard! It’s hard for me too, but lets focus this week and RISE before our family does…..before our kids do! Let’s rise, have our quiet time and organize our day BEFORE it starts!!! Pray this week for strength and the discipline to rise early! Also pray about your finances and ask God for wisdom to help you make wise choices concerning how you spend the money He has given you.

 

What are some ways you can make your days easier by getting up before your family?

 

Love God Greatly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practical Ways To Do Good To Our Husbands {Link-Up}

 

 

One thing I hope you feel with Good Morning Girls is that we are real women, in real marriages with real children. We are not perfect, nor do we hope to be. We are all women who are daily in need of a savior and who are thankful for the grace and love that He gives us.

Sometimes I think you just need to hear that.

We have disagreements with our husbands, struggle to hear God’s voice at times and stress over our children…..we are real.

Today I’m going to try and get really practical with you……bringing God’s Word to our everyday application.

On Monday we read that the Proverbs 31 woman brings her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life. We also read how Solomon’s wives turned his heart toward other gods.

Main point: As wives we have tremendous influence over our husbands. We can use our influence, as we’ve seen in these two verses, for good or for harm.

I believe wives don’t intentionally bring harm to their husbands….but that’s not the issue, the issue is that we can….and we sometimes do.

Here are just a few ways we can unintentionally harm our husbands:

Proverbs 31:12- She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

1. By withholding forgiveness
2. By withholding love
3. Expecting to much….our husbands aren’t perfect just like we aren’t perfect.
4. Not telling the truth in love.
5. With our words and tone.
6. With our attitudes
7. By not praying over them……if you’re not going to pray over him, then who will?
8. By withholding sex…..
9. By fixing unhealthy meals

Are you guilty in any of those areas? I know I am……I’m convicted as I read over this list. But you know what, we have a choice. We can choose to do better today….with God’s help we can choose to focus on doing good to our husbands…..remembering that when we do good to them, we are doing good to our Lord.

Here are a few ways we can bring good to our husbands:

1. By not talking bad about them behind their backs.
2. By showing them respect in front of our children and others.
3. By fixing healthier meals
4. Praying over them…..for them to be the leaders of our homes, men of integrity and character.
(Note: If you need help knowing how to pray over your husband I highly recommend Stormie Omartian’s book: The Power of a Praying Wife.)
5. Speaking truth in LOVE…..our husbands are not mind readers and yes they do have feelings so words do hurt them even if they act like they don’t.
6. Forgive…….
7. Initiate sex……plan dates for the two of you…..make sure you spend time together without the kiddos.
8. Realize that he’s human……give him grace.
9. Smile at him……I know it sounds crazy but seriously who doesn’t love being sincerely smiled at.
10. Be intentional with him….find out what you can do to help make him feel loved. Ask him…“What can I do that will make you feel loved and respected?”
11. Give him down time when he first gets home.
Sweet sisters let me encourage you today with this quote:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, in all the places you can,
At all the times you can, to all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
- John Wesley

 

Let me encourage you to read the story of Abigail….she was the wife to a difficult man…..like some of you, she was in a difficult marriage, still she choose to be good to him. She is described as “the good angel of Nabal’s household” and you can find her story in 1 Samuel 25.

 

Again we come back to the question, how can we be a Proverbs 31 wife? By keeping our eyes on Jesus.

 

Remember, we are in a war. Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle, a battle for our marriages. Cling to Jesus, stay in God’s Word, pray over your husbands and practice doing good to them!

 

I am praying right along side of you!!!!

I invite you to share today in the comment section or on Facebook, what would you add to my lists?

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Women around the world are IN THE WORD! Every Wednesday we will have a link-up. If you are a blogger we invite you to link-up any blog posts that you have written about your quiet time that week. We ask that you put our button in the post or on your sidebar so we can find each other. We do not have code for this link up button. Just right click and save as. Then link it to http://www.goodmorninggirls.org

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Love God Greatly!

 

 

 

 

 

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