Hospitality—with Sugar on Top

by Rhonda Rhea

Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality… Hebrews 13:1-2 CSB

I’ve probably mentioned before that I don’t usually cook for the people I love. Because I love them. And while there’s much that could be said here about being hospitable, there are also a couple of sentences I could add about being “hospital-able”—which, I’m telling you, could also be a thing.

Sometimes I imagine chefs narrating while I’m in the kitchen. Mostly I hear them saying things like, “Oh honey. Just…no.”

You’re probably tempted to tell me I can still set out a nice table of prepped and packaged store-bought goodies. Been there, bought that. And thank you, snack-packagers, for having my snack-back. The last time I did that, though, I realized I’d accidentally purchased an entire table of sugar. In addition to the cookies and candies and chocolate-covered this and that, I bought two beautiful, humongous cakes. This is great, I thought. We have one to eat now, and another one to also eat now.

Seriously. How can I be so bad at snacks that I can’t even buy them well?

We have a Bible study in my home. We hadn’t met too many times before one of the ladies volunteered to bring the food. She brings snacks for every meeting. Every. Meeting. I confess, I pray for this woman now more than I ever did before. Everyone in our Bible study does. She can never, ever miss Bible study. Ever. We need her.

Just a reminder here, that when it comes right down to it, we’re all needed. Even those of us who might be considered hospitality-challenged (hospi-snack-ety challenged?) are included here.

In Ephesians 2:12, Paul recaps life before Christ, when we were “foreigners to the covenants of promise.” But then in the next verse, he reminds us as well that we are now included. Needed. On the “in.” “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Just a few verses later, he says, “So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household…” (Ephesians 2:19, CSB).

Hospitality is not so much about our house. Or its snacks. It’s about that household—and expanding it to include others. As a matter of fact, hospitality is not merely welcoming people into our homes, it’s welcoming people into all our spaces. Into our lives. Into our hearts.

Hebrews 13:1-2 CSB puts it together this way: “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality.” Without the heart, it’s not the genuine, Jesus kind of hospitality.

I love the part of this passage that gives us the how-to when it comes to loving and showing that hospitality. It’s in verse 20. “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—through the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with everything good to do his will, working in us what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (CSB) Who equips? Not narrating chefs. Not snack-packers or cake-bakers. Only our God equips us to do His will, through Jesus.

What sweet relief. Everything He wants to accomplish, He will do. All glory to Him.

It’s also a relief to remember that hospitality is about the people, not the party spread. I don’t even have to sugarcoat that. Though let’s be real, I could totally sugarcoat that if I wanted to.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What do you do to welcome people into your heart and home?

Delusions, Illusions, and Better Conclusions

by Rhonda Rhea

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.   2 Corinthians 10:4-5 CSB

Opinions. I have them. Oh, how I have them. Loud ones and high ones. Colorful and wry ones. I try to make sure I come up with three or four good opinions to have on standby—just in case somebody asks for one.

I’m not at all talking about “informed” opinions. Those are in an entirely different category. Informed opinions require research and contemplation. Reason and thinky stuff. Probably charts and graphs. That sounds like work. Plus, if you get too informed on a topic, seems to me you no longer have an opinion. What you have there is a conclusion. Wouldn’t that cancel out the need for an opinion?

A friend asked my opinion about Instagram several months ago. I told her I figure I’m only about one extra-large floppy hat away from becoming an Insta spokesmodel. She said that was a delusion, not an opinion.

Still, I recently heard someone offer an opinion that was even worse than any of mine. We all hear this one a lot. “Go with your gut.”

What? My gut? Like I’m not getting rotten enough ideas from my brain, now we’re going to check in with my colon? How is that better?

How about this for something better. Instead of forming baseless opinions and going with our innards, what if we prepared our minds the Jesus way, set our hope firmly on His grace, and made decisions based on the rightness and holiness of God?

Like this: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:13-15 CSB).

To prepare your minds for action in the original context was to gather up the constraining robes so that a person could move forward unhindered. Hindrances begin in our minds as we let thoughts and opinions run rambly-like from brain to gut and back, unfettered.

Our actions are birthed in our minds. We’re called to be diligent—actively self-controlled—about what goes on in our headspace. Not necessarily ready with some wild opinion. But ever ready to replace self-thinking and worldly philosophies with the truth of God. And to let that thinking birth obedience and right living.

Conforming to the passions of our former ignorance, that unregenerate way of forming opinions, produces a continuous and frustrating inner battle. The ready mind Peter encourages is not one that excuses or rationalizes sinful thoughts. The ready mind reins them in—essentially rolling up the sleeves of our thoughts and putting them to work for the Kingdom, all in the power of Christ.

It’s fruitless to try to fight the mind battle on our own. Paul reminds us, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 CSB).

So much for every “lofty opinion.” There is blessing, fruit, and a mind at peace as our thoughts are Jesus-captivated. This, I’m not afraid to say, is an informed opinion. Informed by the truth of who our Savior is—and how powerfully He works in us.

I’m sticking with that opinion. Not even once checking to see what my intestines might think.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you keep your thoughts and opinions centered on Christ?

Food for Praise

by Rhonda Rhea

Kids have super weird yet extremely discriminating palates. I know this to be true. I raised five of them. I’m telling you, I remember toddlers completely snubbing dinner, then half an hour later eating a dirt clod and washing it down with bath water.

It’s not like I don’t get it on some level. Not on the dirt clod/bath water level or anything. But believe me, there are parts of this concept I completely understand. The things I know I’m supposed to eat? Sometimes I just don’t want to. Forget your kale. What even is tofu?

Then there are the things I’m not supposed to eat. On that topic…well let’s just say if my husband put my favorite gemstone in a lovely ring setting, that gem would probably look like a chocolate truffle. By “look like” a chocolate truffle I mean it would be a chocolate truffle. And then there would just be an empty setting where the truffle used to be. I’m also not entirely convinced that my birthstone is not a tiny cinnamon roll.

Keep your carats. And your carrots.

I know I’m supposed to be a grownup. I’m supposed to say some yesses to kale and no to dirt clods and jewelry you eat. But what are we supposed to do, even as grownups, when we just don’t want to?

When we hit difficulties in life, sometimes praise can become more challenging. Instead of singing His praises, often in those times all we want to do is cry to Him, “Get me out of this!”

I’ve heard people say it’s hypocritical to praise God when we’re just not feeling it, and I would never suggest we pray things to God we don’t mean. He knows our hearts inside and out anyway. I would suggest all day, however, honestly recounting who He is.

It’s during our struggles that we do well to remember we’re praising God, not the circumstances. Praise doesn’t even require being at peace with the circumstances. It doesn’t necessitate understanding them either.

As a matter of fact, praise isn’t so much about our need to understand what God is doing. It’s really more about recognizing that He’s bigger than our understanding. And that He’s better than our best, most enthusiastically optimistic idea of how good He is.

He’s also completely aware and in control of our trials. He’s not uncaring. He’s loving and kind and good. He’s big, He’s powerful, He’s holy, He’s omniscient, He’s…everything. Praise isn’t for us, but still, it’s in our praise that we become all the more aware of who He is.

We can’t begin to even scratch the surface when it comes to understanding His greatness. David wrote “His greatness is unsearchable” in Psalm 145:3 (HCSB). Praising Him, though, reminds us to search anyway. To get our focus off ourselves and the temporary struggles of this life and to place that focus on the eternal God who is ever-worthy. The first part of that very same verse celebrates that “Yahweh is great and is highly praised.”

Sometimes when I need some food for praise, I hang out in the entire chapter of Psalm 145 for a bit. Or Psalm 8 or 111. Or the joy of Psalm 100 or the music of Psalm 150. So many more. They’re food for praise despite our troubles.

And with or without our truffles.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation. What is your food for praise?

The Christmas Feels and the Christmas Fills

by Rhonda Rhea

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot

That Christmas feeling. All year long. Because Christmas movies. All. Year. Long.

I have a high threshold for these things. I watch them all. So when Christmas rolls around for real, I get excited. Christmas movies—at Christmas!

I’ve seen enough of them to know that to experience the season well, you have to fill it with the proper Christmas components. Christmas cookie-baking (spoiler alert: the secret ingredient is love), decorating the tree while singing loud carols (possibly falling off a ladder), ice-skating, brushing something off someone’s face, and of course, making snow angels. We don’t always get a good Christmas snow outside of the movies. For the record, dirt angels are not the same. And Christmas laundry could also become a thing.

I had a little trouble last year. Not with the dirt angels, but with the tree-decorating/ loud singing part. A dozen extra packages of tinsel and too many extra-loud choruses of “Joy to the World” and I got the worst sore throat. Pretty sure I had tinselitis.

There’s a different kind of loud message around this time of year though. It’s both loud and subtle—and not funny. It’s a message to fill the season. Fill it with stuff. Fill it with busy and merch and different kinds of hustle and bustle—and the fullest lists. Lists on lists on lists. Fill it with chaos and stress and nary a silent night, much less sleep in heavenly peace.

I’ll tell you exactly what I do not want my season filled with. Regret. That’s what happens when we let our focus drift to the wrong fillings. There’s a beautiful filling that happens, however—as weird as it sounds—in the proper emptiness. An appreciation of Christmas, and life itself, blossoms as we fill life with…sacrifice. Fill it with surrender.

As we surrender to Jesus, life is filled with purpose. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25 CSB).

I can fill up with the temporary—money, fame, success, power—whatever this world might offer. Gaining it all. Losing myself. The ultimate regret. But surrendering to the Lord, holding nothing back, opens the door to full life. Joyful. And joy-full.

We were never meant to fill ourselves with joy. We weren’t built to wrangle purpose out of our existence. Trying it leads to joylessness—and regrets on regrets on regrets. 

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King.”

Jesus came to bring joy to this world, fully knowing what it would cost Him. What a glorious example of sacrifice. He set aside heaven and His rights as God-King, trading them for suffering—and all for the joy of closeness with us.

We can trust that when He asks us to abandon all and follow Him, He does it with our good in mind. If we let go and grab on to Him, we will always find that His plans for us are bigger and better than anything we could’ve dreamed up. This is a King I can follow without reservation.

That thought fills my heart with singing. Year-round. Though from here on out, I might do the actual singing (with a bit more reservation).

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you keep yourself from regret at Christmas?

Mapping Out the Day

by Rhonda Rhea

You guys and your fancy-schmancy words you like to use when giving directions. Like “Northeast.” And “left.”

I admit it, I have no sense of direction. North, south…and whatever those other two are? I don’t have them. There’s probably not enough space in my brain for a compass. Maybe because I filled a lot of brain space with a big list of foods that would be better covered in chocolate pudding. It’s not my fault that there are just a whole lot of things that needed to be noted.

I’ve had this sense of direction problem longer than GPS has been in existence. That means I’m all the more thankful for my phone. Having GPS and all its beautiful maps and finders and directions means I’m not forced to roll down my window and ask a stranger what state I’m in. Any more.

I’m still one of the few people on the planet who can get lost, however, even while instructions are being spoken to me. When I’m heading out of a parking lot with my directions all plugged in and ready to go and the GPS lady tells me to “head north,” I suddenly realize she doesn’t get me at all.

Recently I was chatting with a friend who said she was feeling a little “lost.” She told me she felt rather directionless, like she couldn’t seem to get a good handle on her joy, and she didn’t know why. I asked her how her time in Bible study was going, and she rolled her eyes at me. But she rolled them with a smile. She said, “Wow, I should’ve known you were going to ask me that. And I should’ve known to ask myself.”

As we chatted, she preached herself a little sermon. It was adorable. She started with, “That’s it, isn’t it.” It was a statement, not a question. She ended her sermon with a response to her own invitation, determining to set her course at the first of every day.

We met again the next week and I was amazed to see the difference in her demeanor. Talk about being back on the right road. She said the change wasn’t immediate, but it was dramatic. Oh, the difference God’s Word makes in our every day.

The battle for control of our internal compass—our spiritual direction—is a fierce one. The enemy fights to turn us onto a fruitless path. Our own flesh wars against us, too. But we can’t get to a victorious life of purpose without plugging in the right directions. The Psalmist got it. “Keep me from the way of deceit and graciously give me your instruction. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set your ordinances before me,” (Psalm 119:29-30 CSB). If we want to win the battle against the enemy’s lies and against our own sinful desires, we need the truth of God’s Word.

I had to smile when I read a paraphrase of verse 35: “Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway!” (MSG). Life’s journey really does take a happier turn when we’re traveling according to God’s direction and by the wisdom and instruction we find in His Word. Sometimes it’s a state of joy we didn’t even realize we were missing.

And by the way, if I do ever again feel the need to roll down my window to ask what state I’m in, there’s no reason why I can’t do it in a state of joy.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: Has God’s Word guided you in your walk with Him recently? Please share!

In Step—Two, Three, Four—with Jesus

by Rhonda Rhea

I’m not one to dance like nobody’s watching. Mostly because I don’t want to watch it, either. But I do sing loud. And big. Sometimes with motions. So while I might not necessarily dance like no one is watching, I have been known to sing like I’m vacuuming.

A couple of months ago, I did accidentally bust a few new moves, but it was because a bug flew into my hair. That was some sweet choreography. Embarrassing, sure. I didn’t even know I had those moves in me. A couple of my kids saw it, as a matter of fact. And then they begged me to put those moves away and never pull them out again. It was worth the bug in the hair just for that.

I heard it was Charles Baudelaire who said, “Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.” He obviously never saw my moves. Either that, or he was super bad at poetry. So hold on, Charles. Sorry, but this could be one more little proof that we can’t believe everything we hear.

When it comes to walking out this life in faith, we can’t believe everything we hear there, either. Those who don’t follow Christ will tell you that if you do all your stepping just so—if you have just the right look, the right family, the right houses and cars and things—if you have all the right moves in all the right places—then your life will be a graceful dance. They’ll tell you that when you know the right people and can say the right words in the right way, that’s when life will be good.

Sadly, you don’t have to try the world’s way for very long before figuring out that those moves make up a dance that’s everything awkward. It ends, not just in embarrassment, but in emptiness. Relying on things and power and self to make us happy will always end in that vacuum. With no singing.

How do we find the remedy for that emptiness, in the most graceful, spin-and-swing-and-whirl-of-joy way? Not in our culture. Not on our own. It begins in His Word. “Make my steps steady through Your promise; don’t let any sin dominate me,” (Psalm 119:133 HCSB). Our choice here? Let evil govern our steps. Or let the Lord. “Through Your promise” means “by Your Word.” And the indication in the original language is that the psalmist isn’t actually talking about our own sinful nature here, though that’s a battle we never take lightly. But this refers to sinful influence. He’s asking for deliverance from the dominance of evil people.

All too often in life’s dance, we take our cues from those who would love nothing more than to lead us off in some wrong direction. In that same psalm, we read, “I have kept my feet from every evil path to follow Your word,” (Psalm 119:101 HCSB). It means literally “I hold back my feet.” Hold on, feet. Do the right thing. We have to give the Word of God a place of prominence and let it lead in how we think and act and live—every step.

As we do, oh what a difference! “Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble,” (Psalm 119:165, HCSB). It’s the difference between peacefully and gracefully moving through a day, and stumbling embarrassingly out of control.

Poetry in motion. Or plummeting in an awkward commotion. Because seriously, some moves are never meant to be busted.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you give the Word a place of prominence in your life?

Message-Tagged

by Rhonda Rhea

You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. Psalm 16:11 CSB

Have you ever been tagged—maybe trapped—in a group text? You’re begging your phone. Please, not one more notification. And your phone answers with: zzzzzt.

Even worse, you go to bed early while the other 30 in your group have a night owl session. Get up the next morning, get your coffee, and get comfy. I know it’s your day off, but turn off that show you wanted to watch and don’t even think about reading a book. Because you have four thousand messages.

I’m sorry, but I’ve got news for you. The only way to escape is to change your number. And your name. Maybe your appearance. Also your place of residence. You should probably go ahead and plan your move to France.

Croissants. These are your life now.

Interesting note, if it’s a direct message you’re trapped in, don’t think it’s an easier exit. Because if you dare depart the group conversation, your abandonment is sirened to everyone in there. “____ has left the group.” With, of course, the implied shame, “She no longer cares about any of us. Or our cause. Or the planet or children or love. Probably not even puppies. She’s basically a monster.”

Sometimes, I wonder if it would be easier to just go ahead and plan a big ol’ party and invite everyone over.

I also wonder, but on a much different level, if we often make experiencing the presence of God as complicated as a group message. We start thinking in the back of our minds that to have a conversation with Him, we need to push all the right buttons, type in the exact phrase, hashtag it all just so-so.

Enjoying the presence of God isn’t elusive, complicated, or convoluted. Not unless we make it so. It’s found in the beautiful and oh-so-simple act of recognizing Him—understanding that His presence was already there even before we searched. It can often be as easy as looking up, quieting the input of every other voice or device—even quieting the over-busyness of our own thoughts—and zeroing in on Him. On His nearness. On His desire to meet and chat, and His willingness to influence every thought.

David got the message. “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 CSB)

Commenting on this psalm, 19th century preacher, Alexander MacLaren, wrote about the “unbroken consciousness of being in God’s presence.” He said, “…there is such a thing as having an undercurrent of consciousness running all through a man’s life and mind; such a thing as having a melody sounding in our ears perpetually, ‘so sweet we know not we are listening to it’ until it stops, and then, by the poverty of the naked and silent atmosphere, we know how musical were the sounds that we scarcely knew that we heard, and yet did hear so well high above all the din of earth’s noises.”

“Undercurrent of consciousness.” I want that. I want the consciousness of God to be louder than any “zzzt” or any other earth-din, and I want to notice loudly when it’s missing.

I think I’ll go so far as to say, I would love to convince my mind to stay in that most glorious undercurrent. Beautifully ever-tagged.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you keep mindful of the presence of God?

Your Secret Is Safe

by Rhonda Rhea

The crumb tray. On a toaster. That’s a real thing.

I was having breakfast with my daughter Kaley and caught a whiff of burnt toast. When we checked, though, the toast was fine. The rest of the conversation went like this.

Me: I’ll bet you just need to empty the crumb tray.

Kaley: The….what?

Me: The crumb-catcher thing. You know. That pull-out tray that catches the breadcrumbs.

It took me a couple of minutes to convince her that I wasn’t making it up. And you can guess how I convinced her, right? Yes, I went over to her toaster and pulled out the crumb tray. Full? Um yes. She was incredulous. And how had she and her entire household never caught fire?

I sent a video message to her sister so we could semi-good-naturedly rib her together (sorry, but it’s what Rheas do).

My video to Allie: Can you believe your sister never knew her toaster had a crumb tray?

Allie’s video back, looking at least as incredulous as Kaley: The…what?

My video: Noooo! You were supposed to lovingly mock her with me.

Allie’s next video, holding an overflowing crumb tray: I had to check to make sure you weren’t pranking me.

Me, in a later video message to both daughters: I am a failure as a mother.

It’s interesting to note that what was most compelling to both daughters was that there was this secret place. A secret compartment, right under their respective noses. I don’t think they could’ve seemed more surprised if I’d told them there’s a secret door that leads to a secret passage that leads to a secret treasure.

It’s more interesting to note the compelling nature of an altogether different secret place. The writer of Psalm 91 knew about it. “The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Psalm 91:1 CSB). Young’s Literal translates it this way: “He who is dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, in the shade of the Mighty lodgeth habitually” (YLT). There is treasure in habitually lodging in this secret place, treasure greater than anything we could ever cook up.

We’re not compelled to go to this secret place so we can hide away from the world or keep private our walk with God. We’re not encouraged to live out our faith in isolation. There is much in God’s Word about doing life and faith together.

But there’s a secret place that’s just one-on-one ours. It’s our spiritual bread and butter—an intentional place in every day where we get away with Him. It’s not really about a particular space. It’s about this particular relationship.  How astounding it is that we are offered a meeting place with our Creator—an invitation to enjoy His presence! Our souls are fed at every meeting in that sweet place of talking, listening and fellowshipping.

Through Moses, God told us that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3 CSB). We have a choice. We can focus our heart-of-heart’s attention on our physical needs. Bread alone. Ironically, that’s a hungry life of never feeling satisfied. Or we can make our overarching goal of every day to know and love Him so well that our truest desire is His will and His glory.

That secret safe place. It’s a real thing. A treasure. Spiritual daily bread—with no crumbs ever left over.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How often do you visit your secret place?

Positives, Peoples, and Purses

by Rhonda Rhea

Let’s just get it out there. Most guys don’t understand purses. I’m not being ugly about it. We’re different. And that’s okay. So before starting one more dialogue about my purse, let me go ahead and answer the standard purse questions I get from my husband: Yes, I need it. Yes, I need it at this event, whatever “this” event is. And yes, I need all the things that are in it. All of them. Yes, I do know it’s heavy. Yes, it has pretty much dislocated my right shoulder, that’s why I’m now hauling it on my left one.

Even after that first round of questions, there’s still almost always one more: “How do you ever find anything in there?” The answer is, I don’t. That’s why I put in two of everything. Except for pens. In the case of pens, I put in 4,000.

Before anyone even asks, I should probably also point out that “purse chocolate” is a thing. My husband now understands this: All purses should have chocolate. Don’t touch it.

They are wildly bizarre and eclectic and sometimes beautiful and often difficult to maneuver through. Purses.

Also people.

As intense as my need is for every item in my purse, so much greater is my need for people. Not just because I’m a people-person. It’s true, I’m an extrovert. But there isn’t a one of us who doesn’t need people. God made it so.

The fact that we need people doesn’t negate another fact: people can be messier than a winter purse. I’m not trying to be ugly here either. We’re different. And that’s ultimately okay. It often brings to light our inability to love others well. That’s also okay. We have an indwelling God who will take care of it for us. Every time we’ll allow it, He will love others through us. Even the messiest, most negative person you can think of. Love. It’s positively delightful what can happen in and through a person who surrenders all.

Paul said, “And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11, CSB).

Any growing love or knowledge or discernment happens through Him. Any superior, fruitful, and righteous behavior that happens in any relationship—and in any aspect of our lives—“comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”

Never mind their messiness or their shoulder-slumping baggage. Let me love them. Love them through me, Lord Jesus.

With every wildly bizarre and beautiful and difficult person I encounter, I’m asking the Lord to sort out their negatives and make me a positive. Not just because I need to connect with them, though I do. But because there’s glory and praise to God when those connections are Holy Spirit-empowered. And it simply doesn’t get more positive than that.

On the lighter side of the positives and negatives, I feel I should point out that there is also pepper spray in my purse. I’m not saying I keep it in there in case someone tries to take my purse chocolate. But I’m also not, NOT saying that.


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: Has love and grace made a difference in your relationships?

For Every Dry Place

by Rhonda Rhea

My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. Psalm 63:3 CSB

Is there anything better than a really good hand cream on a dry day? I love me some high-quality lotion. I can almost hear my hands: glub, glub, glub.

My husband though? His hands could be sparking from the friction. They could be a mere half a degree from kindling and he would still snub my hand cream. I say snub, but spurn would be more like it. Maybe “repulsed repugnance” is closer. Is that redundant? If so, I still think it fits because he doubly-triply-quadruply despises all things even nearly linimentish.

Richie doesn’t even want me to drive his car after I’ve lotioned up. According to him, it makes his steering wheel “gooey.” I’ve seen him drive his car after hand-creamed-me has had a turn, and he’ll drive using only a forefinger and a thumb from each hand. Or my favorite is when he pulls his sweater sleeves over his hands.

Granted, I might have to admit somewhere in here that when I say I love me some lotion, I mean it. Sometimes I may go a tad overboard. I consider myself sufficiently creamed when my fingers are so slippery I can barely keep them from sliding off that steering wheel. Never ask me to hold your favorite coffee mug. Because I may have recently been swimming in my vat of lotion, and there’s no way to have enough mug-holding traction. Bye-bye fave mug. Give me an ocean of lotion. That’ll be perfect, thanks.

More perfect than any lotion could ever satisfy, though, I love how our God satisfies every dry heart—all the way to the innermost parts of our souls. “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:1-5 CSB).

When we seek the God who quenches, and we desire Him more than anything else—whether life feels dry or downright gooey—we find ourselves swimming in the deepest satisfaction. Contented. Fulfilled. Satiated! As we get a glimpse of His strength, His glory, His faithful love—we leave behind the crackly-dried for every kind of satisfied. I think it’s impossible not to slip into praise and worship as He so beautifully quenches.

It’s good for us to remember that in any difficult place, God’s faithful love can lead us to a sweet, gratifying closeness with Him. “The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry” (Isaiah 58:11 CSB). Never running dry, ever-lotioned—in a beautiful way. No matter the circumstances. It’s a glorious heart-watering. David had the perfect response in Psalm 63. “So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands” (vs. 4). Praise!

By the way, if we’re ever in the same crowd of praising hands, mine will be the ones that are especially moisturized.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: Are you living a satisfied life?