Sep 19, 2017

Live a Life that Lasts



This week, a friend of a friend died.

He was young.  Some would say he had his whole life ahead of him.  But he didn't.   One day he woke up unresponsive, and the next he was gone.  No warning, no time to plan his last days.  He just left.

It didn't matter what he planned to do next week.  It didn't matter what achievements he wanted to reach.  Because it was all gone, a memory.  The only things that mattered were what he already did.

I don't often think of death.  The unknown is scary and dark.  I don't want to be a morbid person that always dwells in the bleak future.

But I think it's healthy to realize this:  we don't know if we have tomorrow.

The man who died thought he had time.  He probably had plans and dreams and hopes.  But they didn't matter.

Dear friends, make sure that your today counts.   Live in light of eternity.  Books, school, activities, life, nothing matters unless they're done for Him.  Live a life that lasts.

If you died tomorrow, would today matter?  Are you loving others and living for Christ?  Or do you let the days slip between your fingers?

This is a different post than most.  I wasn't planning on writing this, and I don't want to sound discouraging or dark.  Death, for Believers, is simply a step away from pain and into Jesus' presence.  It's a day of rejoicing because our mission is complete!  But as I remembered the short life we have, I wanted to remind you: eternity is all that matters.

I hope to restart our series on Project Love next week.   Until then, remember to be living for our Savior.  Live a life that lasts.

I'll end with a poem I wrote today.   I hope it inspires you to take a deeper look at life and seek to shine bright as daughters of the King.

Love,

    Hosanna


  

Only a Candle

The wick sinks low, silent flame quivers
one breath of air whispers through
and I am gone,
a memory.
no warmth, no light
continual stillness, life stolen by death.

What would my days have meant?
would someone miss me, shedding tears
longing for one last day together?
or would life go on,
birds still sing and sun still shine
life being lived without me?
another candle could be lit
to fill the void I left,
hours slipped between my fingers.

But as I rejoice in heaven
I hope that someone would sigh,
“this young girl drew me to Jesus’ arms,
and I have a reason to live.”


If only one heart was brightened
by the glow my fire had lit
it would be worth all
the pain, the tears
my life would have been well lived.

Yet still the sun is shining warm,
and birds sing in the trees
another day, a life to live
to laugh, to cling, to love.

A day is but a memory
‘til it becomes
something more.


"... be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." - Revelation 2:10b

Sep 12, 2017

Encouragement from our Savior




Dear Friend,

This month my calendar has a picture of a pink and violet sunset overlooking towering mountains.  A gentle meadow is surrounded by silhouetted pine trees.  In the grass, a deer is gazing into the expanse behind him.

But I noticed the tiny black letters that marked today, September 12, 2017.

National Day of Encouragement.

You all have been a wonderful source of encouragement to me.  From comments to emails,  shares and more, my day has been brightened by you.  Now it's my turn.  Imagine yourself in my calendar picture.  Feel the grass wisp against your ankles and smell the fresh, mountain breeze.  Watch as the deer turns his deep, brown eyes to stare into yours.

And read God's beautiful promises.  This encouragement is from Him to you.  These are His words as He declares His everlasting love for you, His child.


~♥~


Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
 - Song of Solomon 8:6


He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken. 
And it will be said in that day:
"Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." 
 - Isaiah 25:8-9

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.  
- Isaiah 26:3-4

In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
 - Isaiah 30:15


You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
When He hears it, He will answer you.  
- Isaiah 30:19


...in the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people
And heals the stroke of their wound.  
- Isaiah 30:26


And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 
- Isaiah 35:10


I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears...  - Isaiah 38:5


He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. 
- Isaiah 40:11

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
  - Isaiah 40:28-31


Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. 
 - Isaiah 41:10


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
And I have loved you.  
- Isaiah 43:2-4


"For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,"
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you...
No weapon formed against you shall prosper. 
- Isaiah 54:10,17


...as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.  
- Isaiah 62:5

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:11-13

...yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you. 
- Jeremiah 31:3


The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
- Zephaniah 3:17


...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; - Philippians 1:6


...for He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5







I encourage you to grab your own Bible and read 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 139.  Both chapters are beautiful reminders of how great His love is for us, and they have been a blessing to me time and time again.  I hope these verses bring warmth to your heart today.

Dear one, you are beautiful, treasured, and loved.  Don't forget that.  Jesus said,

As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love.  - John 15:9

Are there other verses that have touched your heart recently?  Please share them below; I would love to read them with you!

During this day of encouragement, step out.  Love others.  And make a difference.

Sep 8, 2017

Book Release: Isolated by Jordy Leigh



Fourteen-year-old Louise Stella flees into the forest to escape an intruder who would take her hostage. But by the time she returns to her house, her country has broken out in war and her home island has become a military base. Sharing the land with enemy soldiers, Louise’s only goal is to stay alive one day at a time. Having no food or water, and little knowledge of how to survive in the forests of Quebec, her biggest adversary is “the Unknown”. Her pride crumbles and she realizes that she can’t sustain herself. She must depend on someone else... but Whom?

Isolated is a Young Adult suspense novella with uncertainty lurking at every turn. It will have you asking the big questions about life and death. Will you come to the same conclusion as Louise?

Goodreads  |  Amazon


My Review:



I first read Isolated when it was in its beginning stages of editing.  Even back then I enjoyed the exciting and, more importantly, Gospel-centered novella.  The book explores a series of events that turns Louise Stella's life upside down.  She is forced to face life head on amidst danger, uncertainty, and life-altering questions.  That's what I appreciated most about this book:  it tells the story of someone I can relate with who asks the most important questions in life.

Because Isolated is set during a time of war, there are some descriptive scenes that might make certain readers uncomfortable.  I appreciated that the author included an example of it on the book's Amazon page, so readers can get an idea before reading it.  (I wish all authors did that!)

There are still loose threads of the story as the novella closes, but I assume that they'll be tied together in the following novellas.  It makes me all the more eager for their release.  In the meantime, I encourage you to pre-order your own copy of Isolated and explore Louise's adventure for yourself!


Author Interview:


I had the chance to invite Jordy Leigh over to my blog as an interview for her newly released book.  Let's get started.  =)

How did you first get the idea to write Isolated?

It was actually quite random.  I would never have guessed.  I had a dream one night, which was shaped by the book I was reading for school at the time, The Giver, by Louis Lowry.  I casually told a friend about this dream as it came up in the conversation, and she said I should turn it into a story.  So I did - not expecting, when I first started out, that I would eventually publish it.

If you could tell a future reader one thing, what would you tell him/her?

To any future reader who is reading this interview now, Louise is a fictional character, but the emotional and spiritual struggles she faces are real-life.  I hope that in reading Isolated you'll learn and grow alongside her, just as I believe I learned and grew through the process of writing.  I can lay no claim to knowing the absolute truth about the things of God.  But to the extent that I do know, I've tried to portray them accurately in this fictional story.  Ultimately, I hope you will love God more after reading Isolated.

How has God worked through your own life during this book creation process?

As a direct result of creating Isolated, I've pondered this question: "What place does writing fiction have in God's Design?"  If you're not a God-loving, God-fearing fiction writer yourself, you may not relate.  But this was like a small identity crisis for me.  He desires for us to think about whatever is true and noble and right and... Whatever is true.  Fiction, by definition, describes imaginary people and events - that which is not true.  Was I pouring hours of my time into something contrary to His desires for me?

But just as I would tell future readers, the emotional and spiritual struggles portrayed in Isolated are true.  As well as that, when God made us in His image, He gave us the capacity to create things (using that which He first created).  So when you or I create things - stories or otherwise - we're exercising a capacity which He gave us and - if we do it right - we're giving Him glory as the Creator of creators.


What was the hardest part of writing Isolated, and how did God help you overcome it?

Perhaps the hardest part was the crisis I described above. (Isn't it interesting how God tends to use that which is hard to work through our lives?)

But since this is a new question, another hard part of writing Isolated was the constant struggle for time.  God was evidently faithful.  Isolated is basically complete and ready to be released.  And hopefully, relationships around me didn't suffer in the name of writing.  I guess you'd have to ask my family for an answer to that one.

What encouragement/advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to make a difference with their words?

I'm staring at this question not knowing what to write. Perhaps that's because I'm trying to think of ways we writers can make a difference in our own strength. I think the first most important thing we can "do" is remember. Remember that it's God who makes the difference. Our best move, I believe, is to stay faithful to what He has taught us in our own lives. We are students of His Word before we are writers.


~♥~

Isn't Jordy such a sweet, encouraging person?!  I hope this sparks some interest; go follow her blog or pre-order her book!  You'll be glad you did.  =)


About the Author:

From as young as seven years old, Jordy Leigh filled exercise booklets with stories until her hand hurt. She loves a good book, but ultimately she hopes that hers will offer something of greater value than short-lived entertainment. In reading them, may you learn more about the God of the Bible.

Jordy Leigh hopes that Isolated will at once quench your desire for compelling fiction and nourish your soul with wholesome truth.

Sep 5, 2017

God Changed My Plans


Fall's almost upon us.  Amidst the rain, the air is growing slightly cooler.  School's starting, and life is beginning to run.  Faster and faster and faster.  Like a bike, each pedal only makes the wheels fly that much quicker.  And seems to never stop.

I began to get distracted in the beginning of August.  Why?  Because I started writing faithfully again.  I went through my WIP, Emblem of Hope, and edited/rewrote half of it throughout the month.  It was special to experience the joy of storytelling, feel the emotion of my characters as I stepped into their lives, and cry with them when their lives turned upside down.  But it also distracted me.

Project Love continued.  But it wasn't real in my own life.  I tried...but distractions won.

As August ended, I had a decision to make.  A really hard one.




My Plan


I had decided exactly what my fall would look like.

I would spend September finishing the other half of my novel.  This was an exciting adventure because it's from the perspective of my other main character.  She's dear to me.  I wanted to love on her again by writing her life story.

I would also set aside my blog for a month, posting lightly - maybe every other week.  This would keep me from being too consumed.  I could write, do school and other activities, and then pick up the blog again in October.

This also included setting Project Love aside.  In October I would be free to devote myself completely to it...so what was one month?  And God was giving me such grand ideas for Project Love.  This would be bigger.  Life changing maybe.  All I needed was September, a month to rest, catch up, and do what I wanted to do.

But God had different plans.  (doesn't He always?)


God's Plan


During the last week of August, I felt a strange pull inside.  I pushed it away.  Then I shoved it away and tried to trample it down.  It was just a thought - an idea.

What if I devoted myself now to God instead of waiting another month?

Revolutionary, I know.

The problem was this: on my blog, I say that love is important.  I even say that it's the most important area of life.  The two greatest commands in the Bible focus on love.  It can literally transform our lives.

But I didn't believe that in my heart.

So the battle raged.  My writing and plans vs. spending a month focusing on loving God more.

Thankfully, God won, stubborn though I am.  It took a few days of fighting, but it's over.  September is His.

Ever since I made that decision, I haven't regretted it.  It's hard to put aside Emblem of Hope.  But this is so much more important.  And you know what?  My novel will be waiting.  One day it may be time to write on it again.  And how much sweeter it will be.

He's been faithful.  Soon after making the decision, I read an encouraging blog post by Ivy Rose that seemed so relevant.  And then, while chatting with a sweet friend, she asked if she could join me in this challenge.  The ranks are growing, and I'm so excited to see where God bring me (us!) during this month!




But What Now?


I have no clue what the next few weeks will bring.  I am going to strive to learn what it means to love God with all.  All my heart, all my soul, all my strength, all my mind...the list goes on and on.  I want to show my love for Him in every single area of life.  That's my goal for September and beyond.

Project Love won't be gone now that summer is fading.  It's changing, yes.  But I'm hoping that as we restart this challenge in a new way it will touch our lives.  Instead of posting any random post and calling it a blog series, I want this to transform the way we live.

I know you probably follow a dozen other blogs.  There are hundreds of messages, lessons, and words floating around you each day.  I don't expect you to drop everything and join me.  But I pray that as I do this in His strength, someone will be encouraged to do the same.  Drop everything unnecessary and love God in a new way.

Isn't that what being a Christian is after all?  Loving God with all?

If that's you, in two weeks I'll be posting a more practical viewpoint of how this works.  Right now I don't know what it will look like.  All I know is that we need to love Christ with everything.  And I would be thrilled if anyone wanted to join and do this as sisters united through Christ.

So until then I encourage you to pray.  Seek Him.  And grow in Love.

Life's busy, I know.  I'll be attending a college class on creative writing, college algebra, an online witnessing class, normal electives (Spanish, ASL, and/or piano), writing here, and then practicing for a play that I didn't audition for (another plot twist from God...) =).  That along with regular life.

But we need to keep out eyes on the prize.

Press on.  Fight on.  Love on.

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39


Aug 29, 2017

"Old Fashioned" movie review


My family was excited when we found this movie at the library.  A Christian example of courtship?!  It sounded great!  But when we actually sat down to watch this movie, it didn't meet our expectations.  Because this movie addresses the area of romantic relationships, I thought it fit into Project Love.  =)




"Former frat boy, Clay Walsh (Rik Swartzwelder), has given up his reckless carousing and now runs an antique shop in a small Midwestern town. There, he has become notorious for his theories on love and romance as well as his devout beliefs. When Amber Hewson (Elizabeth Ann Roberts), a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul rents the apartment above his shop, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his strong faith and noble ideas. Together, they attempt the impossible: an old fashioned courtship in contemporary America."


Details:

115 Minutes
By Pure Flix
Directed by:  Rik Swartzwelder
Rated:  PG-13
Released: 2016


Negative Elements:

Okay, so somehow we didn't see that the movie was PG-13 and did see that it was made by Pure Flix.  We assumed that Pure Flix would make pure, family-friendly movies.  Well, it wasn't.

First of all, the Lord's Name was taken in vain a handful of times.  For me, that's enough to completely skip a movie.  There wasn't as much foul language as many other movies, but really?  In a Christian movie?

And then there was the adult content.  Scenes of drinking and partying were scattered throughout the film.  The movie focused too much on the topic of impurity and had sexual content.  It made me squeamish, and I could tell that this was made for adults.  I'm not going to get in detail, but it isn't a family-friendly movie.  (As an older teen, I would have preferred not watching it either)

If all that hasn't turned you away (haha), the Biblical standards weren't very good.  Although the cover references the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 (love is patient, love is kind), they never mentioned it.  And (spoiler in white) the Christian character ends up becoming romantic with an unbelieving woman.  She mentions once about Jesus' forgiveness...but nothing else.  There is no radical change seen in the movie.  This seems to contradict the verses in 2 Corinthians 6 that tell believers to not be unequally yoked.  (end of spoiler)


My Review:

I feel like I'm sounding incredibly negative in this review.  I do applaud the attempt that Pure Flix made to tell a Christian romance story.  But for multiple reasons, I think they could have done better.  Although this would be an okay movie for adults to watch, it didn't portray a Christian courtship well, in my opinion.  Those of my family who watched it all agreed that Old Fashioned wasn't what it boasted to be.

I couldn't watch this movie again with a clear conscience.  It would be wonderful to find a truly Christian example of courtship, but this isn't it.


Other Notes:

A more detailed review is available on Plugged In.  I won't promise that they won't go too much into detail in some areas;  use judgement, please.

And, if you found a movie that presents romance in a Christian standard, I would like to hear about it.  I haven't had the chance to watch any in a long time.  =)

Aug 22, 2017

Project Love: the Poor || guest post




Dear Reader,

I'm here today with another guest post for Project Love!  I asked Mrs. Ewing to share with us about the topic of loving the poor.  Her family runs a ministry that shares the Gospel with the less-privileged in other countries, and it has blessed my family to watch and learn how God has used them to make a difference.

I hope this post is encouraging to you.  Step out, my friend, and let's love as our Savior has loved us.

~♥~


Hello, my name is Mary Ewing.  I am married to my best friend, Dean, and the Lord has blessed us with six wonderful children.  God brought our family together with Hosanna’s family in 2007, and we have been blessed with a wonderful friendship between our families ever since.

Dean and I have been married for twenty-five years and as we have sought the Lord’s will for our lives, He has taught us so much about His heart for the poor and needy and how He wants us to give ourselves to helping the poor and needy in Jesus name.






God’s compassion and care for the “least of these”, meaning those who are needy and who lack daily necessities, is woven throughout the Bible.  God highly values the poor and the wounded, and we reflect Him when we care for the needs of the needy, both locally and globally.

I would like to share three practical steps you can take to develop a heart that reflects God’s heart in caring for the needy and oppressed.  I encourage you that this is a lifelong process, but it is wonderful to begin now while you are young.  I would also encourage you that there are no limits to how much God can use you as a channel of blessing to others.  He delights to take His children and use them to do impossible things.







In 2002, Dean and I found ourselves in transition.  God had led him to resign a position as a pastor and we were praying about what was next. We were discussing what approach he should take in looking for a new job, and he posed the question, "Should I look for the job that will make the most money or should I look for a job in ministry that may not pay as well?" We decided to read through the whole Bible and look specifically for what it said about money, possessions, how we spent our time and what should be important to us.  We did this independently, and the results changed our lives!  We discovered what God valued and it was so different than what the world around us valued.

I am currently studying through the book of Isaiah and one of my goals is to continue to build my understanding of God’s heart for the poor and needy.  Isaiah opens his book in chapter one with some amazing words. In Isaiah 1:10-20, God, through the prophet Isaiah, tells the people He is not pleased with their religious behaviors. He uses strong language to let them know their sacrifices are not acceptable in His sight. He issues a clear and unmistakable call in verse 16 and 17.

"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;  Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good;  Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor;  Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow." - Isaiah 1:16-17

The Lord is saying that He is not pleased with our “religious” behaviors, but He wants us to seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless (orphan), and plead the case of the widow.  Justice in this context means caring about those who are in need and working to make things right so they have what they need.

The theme of caring for the poor is woven throughout Isaiah. Another key passage is found in Isaiah 58. The whole chapter reiterates the message of Isaiah 1:16, 17. It is a sobering thought to think that God may not be pleased with our “worship and Christian activity” if it is devoid of a true heart of compassion and care for the needy.

I encourage you to study the Word of God yourself and seek out His heart. Ask Him to reveal His compassion to you. Take notes on what the Lord shows you through His Word. The Gospels are a great place to begin and read to know God’s heart. Matthew 25:31-46 is a key passage where Jesus explains how important it is to care for those who have less than we do.






Here in the United States, it can be easy to think that the needs in the world are small.  Most everyone around us here in the US has adequate food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care and education.  Even those we might feel are “poor” here, have food and clothing.  There are true situations of need here in the US at times, but we have to look beyond the US to see an accurate picture of global need.  I recently heard a statistic that the number of people in India who live on $2 per day or less is equal to or greater than the number of people in the entire United States.  We are an anomaly.  Most of the world has great need, and it is important that we learn about their need and about what we can do to help with their need.

Here are a few ideas to help you learn about the needs in the world.  Research specific countries and look at statistics related to education, health care and poverty.  Find reputable ministries and read their literature or look at their websites to help you understand the needs they are helping with.  I would suggest that Samaritan’s Purse is an excellent ministry to learn through.  They work all over the world and seek to go where needs are greatest. Compassion International is another reputable ministry that is working to bring help to children around the world.  It is important that you and your parents investigate a ministry, especially in how they handle their finances before you trust them as credible.

Read biographies about people who are helping others in Jesus name.  Kisses from Katie is an excellent biography of a young woman who is alive right now.  She felt the Lord calling her to Uganda and went in obedience to his call.  She adopted 14 young orphan girls before she was twenty-five years old and shares a beautiful story in her book.

There are local needs too.  I encourage you to learn about ministries in your community that are helping the needy.  These could be local food banks, crisis pregnancy centers, hospices, nursing homes, jail ministries and more.  One key thing to remember as you do this research is to not be overwhelmed by the need, instead, take your knowledge of the need and say to the Lord, "I am available to be used by you, please show me what to do."



This is an exciting step!  God can and wants to use you!  Right where you are, right now, He can use you.

He can use you in ways you might think are impossible.  When we understand God’s heart for the poor and needy around us locally and globally, and when we offer ourselves to be used by Him, He will do amazing things.  We don’t always know the impact of what we do, but we can rest that in eternity we will know.  Helping the poor happens by helping one person at a time. Once we learn about the need, it is important to remember that the burden for all of the needs is carried by the Lord.  We listen to Him, and we help one here and one there.  We pray for one here and one there or we pray for a nation or an issue such as need for education.

How can you help practically?  Here are some specific ideas to get you started. Pack a shoebox through Operation Christmas Child.  There are wonderful stories on the Samaritan’s Purse website about the impact these shoeboxes are having around the world.  They are delivered to some of the neediest children around the world and whole families and villages have come to Christ because of a shoebox gift.  Pack one, and ask God if He might stretch your faith and have you pack two or five or ten?  If you want to give, He will provide.

I am aware of a young person who recently felt the desire to give to help the poor and needy. This young person did not have any income but prayed God would make a way. Three separate odd jobs came his way, and the Lord gave him the opportunity to earn money to give to the poor.

Another idea is to sponsor a child through Compassion International or another reputable organization.  Another idea is to learn of a need in the world and trust God to channel money to you so you can meet that need.  Local ideas could be volunteering at a pregnancy center, or a food bank or a sport’s ministry to kids.  I encourage you to seek out Christian ministries where the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared along with the practical help.

I hope some of these ideas will spark other ideas for you. There is so much joy that comes to us as we give ourselves, our time and our money to help the poor and needy. God’s love shines very brightly through us and people’s hearts are opened to his gospel message.

Our family operates a non-profit ministry that helps the poor in seven countries around the world. It is called Hearts of Hope, and, if you are interested, we would be glad to send you our e-newsletter each month. The e-newsletter shares what God has been doing in each country the month before and it is encouraging to see Him at work. If you would like to receive our newsletter, you could let Hosanna know, and she can connect us. The website for our ministry is:  http://www.heartsofhopeministry.com

The website does not have a lot of specific information because it could put our partners at risk. Our e-newsletter is not online and we share current photos and stories through it.

May the Lord bless you as you follow Him…

Mary Ewing



Aug 15, 2017

Project Love: Neighbors


Here's the next part of Project Love in a vlog post.  =)


video

Psst...if the video didn't work for you, don't fear!  Here's a link to it on Youtube.  =)


I hope that inspired you to step out and love your neighbors!  Do you have other ideas to share?  How are you going to start loving others in a new way?

Aug 8, 2017

Project Love: Hospitality || guest post


For this next slice of our blog series, I asked my mom to write her thoughts on hospitality - an important next-step in the process of loving others.  Although she could claim to be an introvert, she is so good at stepping out and loving people by welcoming them into our home with open arms.  She inspires me...and I hope what she wrote is also an encouragement to you.  =)




Hospitality.

What images come to mind when you hear that word?  Fine china?  Aprons?  Perfectly prepared food and table linens?  Does that word make you feel stressed and think of how much work is entailed?  Or maybe "hospitality" makes you excited?

This word encompasses so much more than just having a Christmas party or inviting important guests to your home.  For extroverts, hospitality might be the easiest thing in the world that just makes you so happy.  For introverts, it might seem overwhelming to actually invite people into your safe, private place called home.

If you look at the definition of what Noah Webster has to say and mesh that with what the Bible has to say, I think you will get a far wider, more relaxing picture in your head that hospitality can encompass so many different aspects to meet each of our personality needs!

Webster defines hospitality as,
"The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers."
See, no mention of elaborate 5-course meals, fine china, or fancy dresses!

I have heard many people say that hospitality "just isn’t my gift." I’ve heard excuses ranging from "I'm not a good cook," "my house is not very nice," "it is just not my season," or "it would feel weird to invite people into my home."  This post is NOT to condemn you if you don’t practice this but to encourage you that it is important to practice hospitality, not just to bless others but because you will be blessed in return. Let’s start with a few verses from the Bible on this topic:
"Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." - 1 Peter 4:9
In Romans 12 under the heading “behaving as a Christian,” it explains some characteristics of Christians:
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." - Romans 12:9-13  (emphasis mine)
The last passage I would like to share is in 1 Timothy 5.  It explains that if a widow's family is not available to take care of her, the church should, but it lists requirements that the widow must have in order to qualify. (and thus probably good guidelines for us as well)

  • 60 years old
  • Wife of one man
  • Well reported for good works
  • Brought up children
  • Lodged strangers
  • Washed the saints’ feet
  • Relieved the afflicted
  • Diligently followed every good work

Whew, that is quite a list.   It can feel overwhelming just to read that list, but let’s remember the heart of those qualities.  Jesus wants us to just love others, whatever that means for each person we encounter.  Most will not require their feet to be washed (thankfully), but how much would it mean to that elderly person down the street to just come over for dinner and hear the laughter of children in your home?  How about the single mom who would love to visit and have adult conversations while her children play with new friends?  Or the new couple who just moved from out of state who don’t know anything about the community - to have someone they can ask about garbage service or where to go for car repair or which veterinarian is good for their dog, Spanky?

I could give dozens of examples of people who would be incredibly blessed by coming into YOUR kitchen, feeling the love of your family, having a listening ear, and leave feeling connected and important. I know you have people in mind right now as you’re reading!! 

Now the practical part.  HOW to do this?

First, just invite them.  Does your family have anything on the calendar Friday?  Great.   Let’s invite those neighbors across that street that we have waved at a million times and don’t know anything about them.  Are they busy?   How about another neighbor?  Older person from church? 

It’s good to ask if they have any food restrictions... and go from there.  Usually Italian food or chicken is a safe first meal.  Spaghetti or lasagna, garlic bread and a salad?  Of course an easy dessert.  You can even just buy ice cream - who doesn’t love THAT?    Or some baked chicken and easy side dishes.    If you really aren’t good at cooking, how about inviting them over for pizza and picking up pizza just before meal time?  No stress!




To be helpful, I will include the recipe that I almost always serve for first time guests.  It’s very easy, and we’ve never had anyone not love it.


And that's it!  You can serve with a salad and bread if you want to.

So your challenge for the week:   Think of one neighbor or anyone else that comes to mind that would be blessed by your hospitality.  (remember: friendly and generous reception - not perfect food or spotless house.)   Invite them this weekend….and prepare to be blessed yourself!!!!




About the Author:

Misti is a tie-dye wearing, bright paint loving, homeschool mom to 9 sweet savages.  She spends her day changing the world by doing laundry, cooking incessantly, teaching students from Master's degree to preschool, helping younger, overwhelmed moms, and doing more cooking.  Living on a farm and raising an army of children is no easy job, but she loves every minute of it.  Misti is thankful to be happily married to her husband of 23 years as they live the adventure of following an awesome God.