Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality (Book Review)

I’m re-reading one of my favorite books.

Here’s my review, also found on Amazon.

At just 142 pages, this book may not take long to get through – but it can hardly be dubbed a “light read”. Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality by Steve Wilkins is a convicting, no-nonsense look at the significance of human interaction to Christian living.

Part one, “Friendship”, examines the fallacy of the Lone Ranger Christian and necessity of biblical friendships for growth in wisdom and in holiness. Wilkins does not expect the reader to be best friends with every Christian they encounter, but does show the need to practice friendliness to all. He describes various types of friendships that should be sought out and differentiates the characteristics of a true friendship versus that of the dangerous fair-weather sycophantic variety. He realistically acknowledges the difficulty in having intimate friendships, such as the time they demand to maintain and the pains of resolving conflicts along the way – but also shows how sanctifying such a relationship can be.

“Hospitality”, the second part of the book, details the practice of biblical friendliness not only to believers but to strangers as well. Wilkins examines the concepts of hospitality in the lives of individuals and in the congregation.

“In everything a faithful church does,” writes Wilkins. “It must set its face against all forms of self-worship, warning of its destructiveness and eventual condemnation. The faithful church may proclaim this through the direct preaching of the gospel or by simply living the gracious and holy life which God has called us to live – a life of peace, true and principled love, real loyalty and communion together. When God’s people care for one another, it is a powerful testimony against the manifest selfishness and idolatry of the world and it is necessary in order to give credibility to the preached word.”

Face-to-Face is sobering because it cuts to the heart of the reader and charges them to examine their own behavior in how they relate to others. Sometimes, this can be uncomfortable because of how accurately the author describes even the most subtle of sinful behavior detrimental to friendships and the ability to practice hospitality.

Yet, Wilkins balances this conviction with biblical encouragement and guidance for building and repairing relationships, and gives direction for making changes in ones’ lifestyle to become more sensitive and accommodating to the needs of others.

Life Happened

 

 

Hello.

Life happened.

Some things changed.

My husband stopped traveling so much for work. It took a lot of adjustment and grace to get use to this, but our family relationships are healthier with him consistently home.

Our children grew. They are 16, 15, 14, 12, and 10.5  The needs of teenagers and tweens are much different than babies and toddlers.  While we still homeschool, three of my children will be attending a community college part-time this fall.

In the past, I had major issues with adenomyosis, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and fibroid tumors. Last winter, I chose to have a hysterectomy and removal of the endometriosis and cysts. During that surgery, I also had an appendectomy because my appendix was covered in endometriosis. The following month, I had a tumor removed from my arm. It has taken a while to feel more normal after all of that, but my quality of life and overall health improved significantly. I am more than the summation of my health problems, and I get tired of talking about them, but I also know that there are so many women who are plagued by these things and I just want to say that there is hope.  Dr. Harkins in Hershey, PA, is probably the best women’s health specialist I have ever met. If you’re suffering in these ways and are at the point where you are considering surgery, go see him.

A friend took her own life. It’s still pretty fresh and I am processing it. Our family is helping to watch her children and be a safe place for them this summer while their dad works. I don’t want to say much about this situation directly for privacy reasons, but I certainly can say that I will forever be affected by this loss. Anyone who thinks that suicide ends hurt is delusional and is ignoring the amount of hurt it causes. That hurt is immeasurable, and it ruins the lives of everyone in their wake.  Suicide is never the answer.

Some things stayed the same.

While I took time off of from birth work,  I have a few doula clients and plan to be teaching The Bradley Method again soon.

I still love to read, shoot (just became a certified NRA RSO), garden, and cook.

I absolutely still love the Lord and I am in awe of the way He works things out for our good and His glory.  We have been members at All Saints Church for ten years now, and we love the people there like family.

This isn’t the most exciting first post in a while, but it’s a start!

In a nutshell, I’m doing well and looking forward to writing here again.

Please bear with me while I find my voice.

Much love,

Sarah

 

 

 

 

That Time I Wasn’t Robbed at the Bank

Moments after I entered the bank, a guy who had been standing by the coin counting machine walked right over to me and intentionally blocked me from getting into the teller line.

“GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY, LADY!” he said quietly, but firmly. He was about 5′ 11″ and had his head down slightly. I noticed he was wearing a navy blue jacket and a clean black Philadelphia Eagles cap. There was a Nittany Lions paw-print pinned next to the Eagle.

I stepped back so I wasn’t cornered against the marble-topped desk containing bank forms and tethered pens. Instinctively, I moved my right hand closer to my hip.

I looked to see if he had a weapon.

Both of his hands were empty.

My pistol stayed hidden.

He had leaned in close,  his face was about a foot from mine. After the initial shock of hearing something that’s probably not a good idea to joke about in a bank, I focused on his face. Behind thick gold-framed glasses, his eyes were blueish gray. His skin was comprised exclusively of wrinkles and scars – perhaps from cancer surgeries. Part of his right ear was missing.

He was ancient looking, but he was spry.

Showing him my handful of checks, I said, “Ha! Nice one, sir. I could give you these, but you’re going to have a tough time convincing the teller your name is SARAH.”

He laughed.

“Checks,” he growled. “I like cash better. Who pays with checks, anyway?!”

He stepped into the teller line ahead of me, in a way that let me know that he was going first and there was nothing I could do about it.

“Oh, these are from my students,” I said, ruffling him by not reacting. “I teach a childbirth education class.”

“Well, I can help with that!” he said. “I’ll send all the broads I knock up your way!!”

“I see,” I said, smiling. “So, having you around is good for my business?”

Very good for your business.” He paused and looked at me again. “I’m just kidding,” he went on. “I’m 89. No one’s interested in f—— me anymore. I can still get it up, though!”

By this point, I couldn’t keep myself from chuckling. “You were pretty scary back there. I would have never guessed your age!!”

A male teller said, “Sir, I can help you.”

Then, the female teller at the next window called me over.

There we were,  standing next to each other again, separated by a jar of complimentary lollipops.

“I need to move some money from my PRIVATE account to my JOINT checking account to KEEP MY OLD BALL AND CHAIN HAPPY!!” He was loudly talking to the teller, but looking at me.

He handed the teller a CoinStar receipt for deposit.

My teller was mortified, and she looked at me apologetically.

I looked at his teller. “Don’t believe him for a second! He LOVES his ‘old ball and chain’!!”

The old man feigned a scowl, but I could see that he did love his wife very much.

My teller was fast.

“Oh look! I finished first!” I said to him,  flipping him off with my voice as I walked away. “You know, fathers are required to attend to my birth classes!”

“Sticking around is my not my style — and you’d better not tell that to my wife!” he replied, still stuck at the window.

I looked back as I passed the signature desk. “Well, then maybe you should stay out of trouble!

“Never!”

His teller, whom I then realized had been purposefully slow, was professionally stifling a hysterical laugh. I nodded at him, and he gave me a discreet nod back.

I didn’t turn around and hug the old man, but I wanted to.

He doesn’t know how much he made my day.

 

 

 

 

Stir-Crazy February

Last night, my doula partner Amy and I grabbed a bite to eat after meeting with our clients. While our personalities are different, we have enough similarities (Christians, five children, second generation homeschoolers, etc.) that we never have to explain ourselves much in conversation… not to mention, we’ve known each other for about 20 years.

We both agreed that our respective walls have most definitely been inching inward this February, and she posted about this feeling this morning (with pictures!) in a very thoughtful way.

Take a moment to read The Fever That is February and note how her husband built her up and encouraged her to be a loving leader in her home, after she sent him a photo of a recently cleaned bedroom that was absolutely destroyed.

In a few short words, he helped her to see the big picture, offered some practical leadership advice for life in the trenches, and assured her of his love for her:

“In order to manage well you can’t get sucked in too much emotionally.  Love them, lead them.  Don’t get bogged down.  That’s a small problem.  I love you SO much!” – Matt Weldon

When a husband nourishes the heart of his wife (Ephesians 5:29), it fills up her empty tank (because even moms who love and trust in the Lord can feel pretty low sometimes…especially during wintry days like these, when there is no relief from repetitive noises, children with more energy that can be spent indoors, and a to-do list that resembles a trick candle), and it’s like finding an extra life in a video game, just when you think you’re going to die. Suddenly fighting “the boss”is feasible again. You can be more offensive (problem solving) than defensive (trying to address the problem despite being emotionally bogged down). You’re able to tackle the problem at hand, and to earn your achievement points.

The Bible says that, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Luke 6:43-45)  When mother’s heart is boosted up and overflowing and nourished with love, it makes it a lot easier to show love towards others, including her children.

Yes, it’s true that God is our portion and all we need (Ps. 73:25-26)  husbands and girlfriends can’t even touch the fullness of the Lord. (I wrote more about that here.) Therefore, we can’t expect for husbands and girlfriends to fulfill a need that only God can. However, if God is a feast, words of love and encouragement from those who love us are like the sweet dessert that stuff us so full that we can’t eat anther bite… which is why I usually ask for two forks with my cake: so I may share. 

Good on ya, Matt.

 

The Sexiness of Vulnerability

Every now and then, I read something that causes me to think of something in a way that turns my previous personal definition on its head.

To be vulnerable is to demonstrate that you are confident about who you are; that you aren’t afraid of your weaknesses. It shows trust and perpetuates trust. You can’t have true love without vulnerability.

Turn-On # 5: Vulnerability
Vulnerability is not the opposite of confidence, as some men seem to assume. I see your willingness to be vulnerable with me as a huge statement of confidence. And, it makes me want to support you, and take care of you. Not in some mommy/boy way, but in this, “Oh, wow, he trusts me!” way. Not only that, it makes me trust you. If you’re willing to get vulnerable with me, I’m going to be less guarded with you. And you never know what fantastic places that could lead us to.?? Trust that I can support you in the moments where you need to be held, listened to, or even just to vent. Trust that I’ll still be here when you’re through it. And as you trust more, so will I trust you. – What Women Really Want: 10 (Sort Of) Secret Turn-Ons for Men Who Want to Know!

Don’t want to accept this from a post with the word “Turn-ons” in the title?

Fine.

Listen to C.S. Lewis talk about vulnerability in, The Four Loves:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

PS: The rest of that “Turn-ons” post is pretty good, too! Enjoy.