Tuesday, November 09, 2010

True Hospitality

A couple months ago, not long after we'd moved back to Indiana, I met one of our pastor's wives one day at the park nearby. Afterwards, she asked if she could walk back with us, because she wanted to get the exercise. I was glad for the company...until we neared my home! See, that morning, we had finished school when my friend dropped off her child so she could go to the doctor's office. We left the school stuff on the table, the blankets unfolded on the couch and the sink full of the days' (and possibly the night before's?) dishes. "I'll get it it later, I thought. It's too beautiful to be inside. We're going to the park!" You must understand that those thoughts are not often in my head. Too often I am weighed down with all that needs to be done and feels left undone. I'm always one step behind in my own head.

When I arrived at the house with this dear lady and her grandbaby, I realized it was only nice to ask her in, but found myself inevitably saying "oh, sorry for the dishes. Sorry for the school mess...(all while I'm folding the blankets on the couch quickly!). " I was very uncomfortable, because here's how I'd rather it have gone...I'd rather have had the house all together, clean and dust free, smelling like cinnamon (my comfort smell), cookies freshly baked on the table....yes, that's how I'd rather have had it. That way she could see the "real" me, right? That's what my pride likes to tell me. Rather, she DID see the real me. And, she saw my struggle with my pride that day. In her graciousness, she asked if I'd ever read, "Open Heart, Open Home." I suppose she wasn't surprised when I said I hadn't. :) She said her favorite line from that book was something along the line of "Always keep your home open to others, even if you have to write 'welcome' in the dust." We had a good laugh, and I had a decent dose of conviction that she was not offended by real life.

Well, seems the Lord wanted me to really see what was going on in my heart, because she "just happened" to find the book the next day at a garage sale. I have been reading this book, and have been convicted, challenged, and encouraged. Mostly convicted, though. I have always opened my home to others, always felt 'hospitable.' God is showing me, though, that I have always had more of a heart for entertaining...focusing on things and my own abilities to impress than a true heart of serving others. Can I be that real with you, my friends? I think God gave me a gift and heart's desire, yes, but I have misunderstood what that really looked like. I do love to serve, but I must look back at all the times my own heart was angry that a child just left toys where I'd just cleaned up...didn't they know people were coming to my home and would judge me for those toys on the ground? I mean, what kind of a mother would I be? Pride. Fear of man. Ugly. Ugh!

So much of this book has stuck out to me. So much the Lord has opened my eyes to. So much He is changing. So much more He needs to change. I'll be sharing more in the days to come...but one 'funny' story of how God allowed me not only to read and nod my head, but practice what I am learning....

Shane called a few weeks ago, about 15 minutes til 12 noon. He asked if he could bring Mark, our new youth director, home for lunch. Now, I had showered, but put clean jammies back on, since I'd just "be home alone" that day. I had school stuff on the table (again, yes!), sink full of dishes (again, yes!...I'm seeing a theme here of who I REALLY am, not who I want others to think I am...), and then there's the issue of what I'd planned for lunch...
It had been one of those days, towards the end of a paycheck, when I delve into the cabinet to see what we have. Well, we had hot dogs, but no buns, and we had baked beans. So...beanie weenies! Yes, I had homemade beanie weenies on the stove, pjs on, and a messy house and company was coming. My prayers for an angel of God to come clean my house were not answered in those fifteen short minutes...actually, I barely got my clothes on before they walked in the door. I pushed down my pride (which was huge!), opened the door, and said "come on in for some beanie weenies!" And, guess what Mark said? He said, "Awesome! I love beanie weenies!", with a big smile on his face. We ate our "main course", had cut up veggies and cheese on the side, and enjoyed getting to know this man God had brought into ministry with us. There was never a complaint, never a slight look out of the side of his eye to my "mess." There was only greatfulness from his heart. And, though this story makes me laugh, it also brings tears to my eyes. Because God is faithful and kind. He's faithful to point out my flaws and to test me, but not so that he can overwhelm me or throw me down to be laughed at, but to grow me. I grew that day.

I don't have it all together. My dishes are not always (rarely ever) all done. My laundry is NEVER done. You WILL find dust on my furniture. But, you are always welcome in my home, for it is the Lord's home, and my desire is to glorify him by loving and serving you.


Heidi... said...

We so need to meet someday... Gladine told me the same thing years ago. ; ) I love her dearly!!

Kari said...

I'd love that, Heidi! Did Julie tell me right that our daughters are in Bright Lights together? Do you homeschool, too? Love Gladine-she's a real encourager!