Relatively Speaking

Relatively Speaking reminds us of the eternal rewards of inviting others around our family table and into our lives. Here's one woman's story. #WomenLivingWell #family #books #KarenEhman

I am so excited to have a guest with us today!  This guest is my dear friend and very talented New York Times Best Selling Author – Karen Ehman!  She is not just an amazing writer and speaker but she lives out what she writes. She is a close friend who sends care packages, listens for hours on the phone, gives good advice and mentors me in my writing style.  {She tells me I use too many exclamation points. ???? Lol!!!!!!!!}. We also have had lots of fun on many trips over the years, like the one pictured above where we got away – just the two of us – to Put-In-Bay.  I talked her ear off that weekend, about all of my life’s troubles and she listened and listened and listened and gave me wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement.

Relatively Speaking reminds us of the eternal rewards of inviting others around our family table and into our lives. Here's one woman's story. #WomenLivingWell #family #books #KarenEhman

Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and writer for Encouragement for Today, an online devotional that reaches over 4 million women daily. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, the mother of three and mother-in-love of two, she enjoys collecting vintage kitchen cookware, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many people who gather around her mid-century dining room table for a taste of Mama Karen’s cooking.

Karen has a brand new book she just released titled Reach Out, Gather In. In Reach Out, Gather In: 40 Days to Opening Your Heart and Home, Karen Ehman offers creative and doable ways to feed both the bodies and souls of the people whom God has placed in your life. Over the course of the book, you will discover biblical inspiration as you also chronicle your own journey in the areas of loving and serving others, both inside your home and on the road. From recipes and decorating ideas, to cleaning and decluttering strategies, this beautiful devotional journal highlights the why of hospitality—so that your home and life will grow to be a place where the gospel is displayed, drawing others closer to Christ and making a difference for eternity.

Relatively Speaking reminds us of the eternal rewards of inviting others around our family table and into our lives. Here's one woman's story. #WomenLivingWell #family #books #KarenEhman

So please join me in welcoming Karen to the blog…

Karen writes —

I love my family.

They are the most important humans to me on earth. Sure, we have our share of dysfunction. We sometimes disagree over politics. Other times we fight over the most trivial of things. I mean, come on—who really cares if the proper name of the summertime insect that flickers at dusk is lightning bug or firefly? (This dispute is quickly settled when our always-researching, creature-loving son corrects us all, informing us that the proper entomological name is lampyridae.)

I’ve spent oodles of time serving my family. I’ve spent countless hours on my knees—and sometimes flat on my face—praying for them and about situations in their lives. There isn’t anyone on earth I would rather spend time with. However, as much as I love my family, they can easily morph into something they were never intended to be.

An idol.

And idol is anything we put before God. We pay more attention to it. We seek its approval. We spend too much time on it. Material possessions or money certainly can become idols. But, when we place our families on a pedestal and spend all our energies catering to their every whim, we may make of them an idol.

But placing the human beings in our clan before God is only half the problem of this practice. The other hitch is that, if we spend all our efforts on our family, we won’t have margin in our schedules for being involved in the lives of those to whom we are not related.

A read through Scripture will show that God cares greatly about being inclusive of those with whom we are not physically—or legally—related. In fact, that is how he treats us!

God adopted us as his own. Ephesians 1:5 states, “He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” And this wasn’t because of our stellar behavior. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And then…?

 He adopted us, folding us into his royal family.

God is referred to as our father. He calls us his children and we are sibling with each other. God’s example of knitting together those who are not related by blood is a model for us to emulate. It will not lessen the love we have for our family members if we open wide the circle, making room for more people in our hearts and homes. In fact, it will serve as a wonderful example to our loved ones who are watching.

If as moms, aunts, and grandmas, and friends we want to inspire the children we know to be others-centered and ministry minded, we must lead by example. How in the world can we expect those we influence to live lives of hospitality if they never see us doing it? If we only spend our time pampering them, and catering to their every whim, we risk sparking selfishness instead.

Oh, I’m not at all saying there isn’t a time to spoil your family. Or that there are never occasions to spend time with just those in your immediate crew. But what I am saying is that we should rethink those times of celebration for us. They might also be times of loneliness for others. While you may be relishing the company of your loved ones, someone else might be home, staring at their four walls, all alone and lonely.

Although we are alive in this time of social media and “friends,” experts assert that—even though we are over-connected digitally—we are lonelier now than ever.

Psalm 68:6 states, “God sets the lonely in families.” Notice that it doesn’t just say that God comforts the lonely. He certainly does that. However, he allows us the privilege of being people who throw our arms wide open and welcome in a hurting soul, so they know someone else on earth actually cares.

Over the last decade, our house has often been bustling with activity. Teenage boys slept in our basement family room, spending the night after a football game. A squad of girls from the volleyball team devoured more bottles of ranch dressing and orders of cheesy breadsticks than I care to count. As the kids grew older, cars would be lined up and down our street as our house became a hangout for teenagers of driving age. Our grocery bill soared. My time spent cleaning increased. But I would not trade those days for anything.

God prompted me to view these years through a lens of ministry. I came to love many of these teenagers as my own, and several of them to this day still have me in their phone contact list as “Mom E.” As I served endless bowls of cheesy corn chowder and pan after pan of peanut butter apple crisp, I leaned in and listened. I got to know more about these teens than just their names and what type of dressing they liked on their salad. I got to know them as people.

Some of them were from wonderful homes, but some were not, with no one to advocate for them or to help them with their college or job applications. They were figuring out life on their own—some not having much success at it.

These kids became our kids. My husband and I naturally folded them into our family life. One, who was on the brink of becoming homeless, even lived with us for six months so he could graduate from high school. I don’t say this because we always had an exemplary attitude. Sometimes we didn’t. I say this because living this way became a habit—a hard habit to break. Soon it was not a foreign concept to include others around our Thanksgiving table or beside our tree at Christmastime, their own stocking hanging on the mantle next to my children’s. It became the norm. And, best of all, we didn’t just see hearts cheered, we saw souls saved as lives were changed for eternity.

Just off the top of my head I can think of five young people, now walking closely with the Lord , who were not doing so back when they were sitting at my kitchen table. God used our family—hear me now—despite our sometimes less-than-wonderful behavior, to welcome them into a home where they felt welcomed and wanted.

I hope you will utilize your time during Making Your Home a Haven to spoil and encourage your family members. But don’t stop there. Pull up a few more chairs to your table and reach out to those who may be lonely or hurting. Allow God to use you to draw others to himself.

I pray many in your life, who currently are not walking with Christ, will respond to the Gospel once they’ve experienced feeling a part of your family, however crazy or calm it may be. (If it is like ours, it is certainly more crazy than calm!)

Thank you Karen for being with us today!!! 

Don’t miss out on her new book titled:

Reach Out, Gather In

It is filled with devotionals, recipes, a place to journal your thoughts,
and the encouragement you need to open your heart and home.

Relatively Speaking reminds us of the eternal rewards of inviting others around our family table and into our lives. Here's one woman's story. #WomenLivingWell #family #books #KarenEhman

AND I had the honor of endorsing it!

Relatively Speaking reminds us of the eternal rewards of inviting others around our family table and into our lives. Here's one woman's story. #WomenLivingWell #family #books #KarenEhman

Walk with the King,


  1. My parents are great examples of leading lives of outward service for as long as I can remember. Even now, as elderly at-risk in Florida, they are bringing groceries to those in need and working at the election polls! I’ve known my life has been too focused on my immediate family and just “trying to survive”. I have no margin to serve others. I’ve been praying that God puts people in my life or shows me who needs help. Now i realize I must also pray and work to create some space in my schedule. Been praying for decent part-time work for a long time. But if that never happens, I still have to figure out how to do this. Thank you for this reminder, Karen and Courtney!

    1. I don’t think you can ever be too focused on your “immediate family”. Quote by Mother Teresa – If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. I couldn’t agree more.

      1. To be honest, I used to would have agreed with you but after raising 4 daughters, I disagree. They quickly become spoiled and entitled.. as she put it.. it sparks selfishness. I had to learn balance. I had made my immediate family an idol.. especially my children. Please know that I am kindly disagreeing.. only because I have been in the place where I, too, didn’t thinnk you could ever be too focused on your immediate family. I will add that you can go too far the other way as well.. so balance is important. The MOST important tho is asking God and allowing Him to show you His will for you. Be blessed!

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