One of the first things you should know about me, is that I came from a family of entertainers. My grandmother often hosted huge family gatherings. She carried a detailed list of what goes in the oven when, what time we should sit down and what time we should get up. She was the fervent planner.
And then my mother in law and mom have every dish known to man. They've collected casseroles and wine glasses and serving platters for years. Now they throw perfectly polished parties for their friends. They plan menus and themes, they go over plans and ideas. They both have stewarded the hostess gene in me well.
I've always loved to host. I love opening our house for dinners and parties, but for years it completely stressed me out. Not because I didn't want to, but because I had an idea in my head of what it COULD be and when I couldn't manage to make it happen I became not only frustrated, but irritated.
Y'all, it wasn't a pretty sight. It got to the point where Jeff questioned whether or not we should host things any more. Bless it.
But a few years ago, after we moved into our current home, I decided to wash my hands of the Pinterest Parties. Instead, I decided to embrace a "semi-homemade" kind of entertaining, mixing paper plates with china, foil pans with southern living casserole dishes. And you know what? People still had fun! The food tasted out of this world, and friend, it still looked and felt pretty darn cute.
Once I understood that it wasn't about creating an event worthy of Martha Stewart, but instead about how guests felt inside our home, I began praying a new prayer. I asked God to make our home a beacon in our community. I begged Him to show us ways to invite people in, to feed them and to love them wherever they are.
We aren't in the business of fixing people, that's God's job. We are in the business of loving and serving. Recently, God brought this scripture in front of me and it pretty much sums up the heart behind our home.
"Above all, keep fervent in our love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, empty it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:8-11
Friend, we are to be emptied out in serving one another, stewarding God's grace He has given us well. What if we viewed our homes as something we steward for the sake of the Kingdom? Whether you live in an apartment with three roommates or a posh, million dollar mansion, God gifted us our homes to use as vessels in furthering His glory!
So how do we do that?
First, we pray. We pray for God to bring people in our lives and into our community that have tangible needs that we can meet. We ask Him to soften our hearts to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that we recognize the longings of those around us and join Him in His work there.
Second, we prepare. There are a lot of opportunities God brings us that are unplanned but that we can be prepared for. Here's a recent example for us :
A few weeks ago. our oldest had a few boys over after school. I made them stay outside because - let's just be honest - 10 year old boys smell. I pulled out some frozen cookie dough along with a pitcher of crystal light - yeah, we be fancy like that. There were paper towels and paper plates and solo cups involved, but these boys thought we were the bees' knees with our treats.
But as I started cooking dinner and gave them all a thirty minute warning, I felt a prompting to ask them to stay for dinner.
Y'all, we had been praying tirelessly for these friends. I suddenly recognized this moment not only as an answer to prayer but also as an opportunity to love on these kids, for sure, but also to build a relationship with our son and his friends. A relationship where he wants to be around us, where he wants to bring his friends around our house and they want to be in fellowship with us.
So - against every part of my body screaming at me- I asked these precious boys if they wanted to stay for dinner. I was making meatball bowls and knew I had an extra bag of packaged frozen meatballs. I had sweet potatoes planned, but since there were three extra hungry boys, I decided to cook some butter noodles up for them too. We basically had a smorgasbord of food in my kitchen, but, y'all, we had a blast. We talked about school, football, sports, teachers and the like. We told "your momma" jokes (don't judge) and laughed a heck of lot.
And when they left to ride their bikes home, our house was a mess, but my heart was full.
Here's why I tell you this story. I want you to see that I was able to say yes to God's prompting not because I had planned for four boys to eat dinner with us, but because I was prepared for an open house.
This series is going to be all about preparing for the open house yet to come. Whether it's a boss stopping off for dinner, an elderly neighbor passing by, a friend with a sudden tragedy - we can take steps together to be prepared for surprise visitors.
And when we are prepared, it's easier to say yes.
When we are prepared, we are able to be present.
When we are prepared, our hearts are postured for His plans.
So between now and the next time we meet (hopefully tomorrow), take a moment to pray about the heart behind your home! Who are the people God has placed in your path? What do you desire most for your home?
I am praying that God graciously gives you a sweet word for your home. I can't wait to hear what He's going to do with your yes!
Next time we are going to be talking about one of my favorite ways to prepare - and stay prepared!