Committed Love

 

But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,

Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

These words are a beautiful expression of the committed love Ruth showed Naomi, a reflective flicker of the incredible covenantal love of God for His people.

In our premarital counseling, our pastor reminded us that sometimes marriage will require love that will stay in the car and ride even into the ditch. You can see the danger ahead and calmly share your concern, but sometimes the decision is still to continue. You then buckle up and ride out the crash (and pay the repair bill and allow the bruises to heal) together. Note: this is not referring to life-or-death or sin situations.

Yes, commitment is that committed. Committed love goes all the way to the end. The idea is beautiful and we love being loved that way, but how often are we committed?

How often will we go out to eat IF we like the restaurant? If it’s not a menu we like, it doesn’t matter with whom we are eating (never mind Proverbs 15:17).

How much have we been willing to be friends AS LONG as we share interests and think alike? It’s more efficient and comfortable. No need to stretch (Proverbs 27:17).

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, I’ll love AS LONG as they love me? Fair is fair, and I have my rights.

I have fallen in all these traps. That’s not love; it’s an even exchange of goods.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” — John 15:12-14

We often think of the Ruth passage related to weddings. I find it interesting that neither of these Scriptures are referring to marriage. Ruth loved her mother-in-law. Christ commanded His disciples, and by extension the church.

Who are we loving today?

sanddunes-2

 

Using your Kitchen Cabinets

The time had come. Our kitchen cabinets were set up for one flow, but lately we have been using them differently. Time to reorganize! So a young friend and I set to work one morning. Below are the practical principles we used as we evaluated and restocked.

Kit Col 1Put things where you use them. Dishes usually make sense near the sink and/or dishwasher and table. Pots and pans will be used by the stove, so don’t walk across the kitchen if you don’t need to. If you have a stand mixer and always bake on one counter, go ahead and stock those supplies near there. Although you may get extra steps toward your daily goal criss-crossing the kitchen multiple times, it may not be the most effective or efficient way to accomplish that goal AND make dinner.

One step at a time. We followed the same process we have discussed when refreshing closets. Everything came out. Clean the cabinet. Sort. Decide where it will be best located and arranged. Put it back, one cabinet at a time. Although we could not empty the entire kitchen at once, due to limited counter space, we did empty the entire cabinet we were working with each time.

Match up sets. Pots have lids. Pans have lids. Casserole dishes have lids.  You will probably come up with some mismatched lids, where the dish broke but the lid didn’t go in the trash with it. You don’t have to keep the lids with the items as you place them back in the cabinet, but it will help you not keep lids you don’t need.

Cups need to go together with like cups. When all the cups are in one place, you may notice that you have more than you need. For instance, I ended up with 3 of the same size saucepan. Since I don’t often–make that never–use all 3 at the same time, one would be a good to donate to someone who doesn’t even have one.

Make the most of your space. Some cabinets have extra tall room. Some are more narrow. Use those to your advantage. Stack bigger things in the tall cabinets, or use stacking shelves inside the cabinet to stack smaller things taller.

Keep in mind, however, that your kitchen cabinets are usually well-used. Don’t stack or cram too much in any space. It needs to be easy to reach in and grab whatever is needed each time. Having your child start a cup landslide isn’t the quickest or best way to a glass Kit 3of water.

Also, remember that flat things can go sideways to allow you to grab one in the middle without having to re-stack and potentially make the most of room up.

Keep like items together. As you replace items back in the cabinet, take a few minutes to put all the same things together. All the sugar in one row. All the red glasses in one row, then the yellow glasses, then the plastic school memento cups. All the bowls in one section of the shelf. This helps you see at a glance what you need as soon as you open the cabinet door, rather than having to search through a broad category of cups or dishes. It is also easier to unload the dishwasher when the time comes. You already have a place for everything.Kit 2

High shelves are for rare items. The very top shelves, or the very back of the corner cabinet, are for the items you only use once or twice a year. Don’t strain yourself unnecessarily. You will be able to get them when you need them, but that leaves room for the often-used items on the easy-to-reach shelves.

Finally, remember our tips from closets:

  • Label enclosed containers, so you don’t have to wonder what is in the canisters.
  • Contain loose or sloppy (shapeless) items.
  • Repair as you go.
  • Decorate what you cannot fit in the cabinet, or needs to be even more accessible. Baskets, canisters or hanging bins on the countertop, if used in moderation, can be attractive and useful.
Kit Col 2
Before & After

So if you have the need to reorganize your kitchen at any point, keep these things in mind. I hope they are immensely helpful to you! If you have anything to add for the good of all, please comment below to expand this resource.

FYI: Hospitality

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our current topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

Books

Confessions of an Organized Housewife

Hospitality Commands

Open Heart, Open Home

Practicing Hospitality

Resources

Flylady.net — becoming more organized, one day at a time

Encouragement

Hospitality is War — another perspective on the importance of hospitality

Culture of Hospitality — you can do it!

Putting the Gospel on Display — a reminder that hospitality is for all Christians to do

Don’t Tell Me What You Ate — refocusing help…all the way from Greece

 

 

Objections to Hospitality

by Mary Clare Freel

My house isn’t clean enough! The flylady calls this CHAOS (“Can’t have anyone over syndrome”). I have 5 sons who shed debris as they enter a room, so I completely understand this problem. Your house does not have to be spotless. We need not pretend that no one lives here. However, we do want to reflect the glory of God in our homes. God is a God of order, and our homes should reflect the same.

Try to develop a cleaning routine that will keep things somewhat orderly so you are not tempted to hide when unexpected company drops by. You can also enlist family members to help clean. Regular chores for children foster responsibility. A quick blitz of the house is another option. Home improvement projects often happen on Saturdays, so my husband often rallied the kids for a quick clean while I prepared dinner. Whatever wasn’t cleaned was closed off.

My house isn’t big enough! Keep it manageable. Don’t invite the whole church at one time. Do things in small doses. If you don’t have enough table room, use trays for extras. I have used a blanket on the floor for kids to have a picnic. A piano bench makes a great child’s table. Be creative. Spill over into other rooms or outdoors, if whether permits. You can even be hospitable in a dorm room.

My house is not nice enough! I’ll invite people over after we remodel or get nicer furniture. When we were having a Bible study years ago after we first bought our house, it was in a constant state of remodeling. I understand feeling like that, but we were blessed by having the study. At one point we had no kitchen counters, but someone brought a board to put the food out. People are not coming to see your house, they are coming to fellowship around the things of Christ. Let Christ be the center and not your house. If you wait until you have your dream house, you may never be hospitable. Do what you can with what you have. Be creative.

  • Can’t afford a new couch? Get a slipcover or fresh pillows.
  • Ugly carpet? Cover it with an inexpensive rug to cover it or tone it down.
  • A tablecloth over a beat-up table or a coat of paint can update the look. Fresh flowers and candles can add atmosphere. An attractive table setting goes a long way to minimize other flaws in the house.

I am not outgoing enough. Pray that God would help you to overcome your shyness, because it is a fear of man, so that you may minister to others. Invite a combination of people that can carry the conversation.

I am too busy! There may be times in our lives that hospitality takes a back seat for one reason or another. Certain providential hindrances may cause us to take a reprieve from normal duties of hospitality. These may include illnesses within your family, the birth of a baby, transitions of a move, etc. During such times, it is important to maintain contact with others in the church to avoid falling into a reclusive mindset. As soon as circumstances change, we need to ease back into the practice of hospitality. If we are too busy to be hospitable, then maybe we are busier than God intends us to be. Busyness is not the mark of success our society would lead us to believe. Perhaps we should reevaluate our schedules and see what could be eliminated or switched around.

______________________________

As you can see, Biblical hospitality expresses itself in a variety of ways — from tea for two, dinner for 12, weekend housing, to even adoption. Through all these expressions runs the common thread of the love of Christ. Our homes should be a fountain of refreshment to those who live there and to all others who enter. Let that be our aim.

Practical Tips for Hospitality

by Mary Clare Freel

You have seen from our previous posts the Biblical demands for Christians to be hospitable and various uses of it. Yet there may be some who simply lack confidence and so shy away from it. Hospitality is not effortless, but it is easier than you think. Here are some practical steps to simplify hospitality.

Always keep in mind what your purpose is. It is not to impress others but to minister the love of Christ to them. You may not have someone over for an elegant dinner but may have them in for tea and cookies. It is an attitude not an event. My friend and my stepmother were very good at this — always welcoming every visitor stopping by to come in and have a cup of tea or coffee no matter how busy they were.

Plan ahead as much as possible. Planning ahead is key to making it smooth but not essential to making it happen. Sometimes spur of the moment get-togethers are the most fun. Planning is extremely helpful when it comes to the Lord’s Day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Put the meal together on Saturday or earlier in the week. Many things can be done in advance. Soup and bread, or salads and sandwiches, are easy to make ahead, as well as meals in the slow cooker. You can also double recipes and freeze one for a later date.
  • If you are not a confident cook, you can master two or three “company meals” and stick to those for Sunday dinners. I am not opposed to Stouffer’s lasagnas or Mrs. Edwards’ pies or other desserts.

Use other ideas for fellowship meals. Saturday breakfast or brunch, baked potato suppers, pancake suppers, and potluck suppers all work well. A spontaneous idea is calling friends to combine leftovers for a surprising meal. You can host a ladies tea or lunch.

Accept any help that is offered. We don’t have to do it all, and many love to help in the kitchen. It often is more fun when everyone is working together.

Accommodating overnight guests is possible without a guest room. If you don’t have one, you may shift people around and children may double up to open up a room for guests. Air mattresses have come a long way and even have frames to rest on. A den or study can become an instant guest room. Make sure guests know where everything is (i.e. towels, glasses in kitchen) and leave lights on for seeing at night. If you have a guest bath, you may want to have a basket that contains necessities. A basket of fruit and goodies is nice for those who have traveled far and arrive late, especially if they have changed time zones. Try to provide a lamp to read by and some light reading material for those who may have trouble sleeping. Young single folks, especially men, are usually happy to put their heads down wherever.