“I can’t,” I snapped.
She faded back into the living room and left me alone with my pots and oils.
Newly married and still giddy from San Francisco and Chinatown, I planned my first dinner party from scratch–sweet and sour chicken, homemade egg rolls, and fried apple (?) somethings (I think) that kept me in the kitchen alone nearly two hours past serving time.
A perfect recipe for cranky.
I had a painting party. I bought a large framed canvas and oil paints and brushes. I made bib aprons (probably by hand) and invited some of my husband’s coworkers over to make a painting.
Then there was the soup party. I made the stock, and friends brought ingredients to toss in.
And the New Year’s Even open house with games and squealing over Skittles.
And the roots party where everyone brought a dish that somehow reflected their heritage.
And the women’s luncheon with tables set up under the trees in the backyard and little clay pots holding tableware.
All planned by a better prepared and more relaxed hostess with a much improved attitude.
Then in-home entertainment extravaganzas become a bit of a blur.
Life in general after kids becomes a bit of a blur, I suppose.
I remember occasional overnight company, a progressive meal stop, in-home Bible studies.
I continued to minister outside our home.
For the most part, adult fun stopped.
But the door revolved, and I stayed up late and got up early and listened to adolescent drama and worried and made Grandpa’s pancakes and collected soccer snacks.
Some troubled kids came and went.
And we got burned.
We moved from simply sullen teen to survival mode.
Bringing CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome.)
couldn’t wouldn’t take a chance on having to deal with a crisis in the middle of a party.
Or a simple soup supper.
We turned inward.
Nobody reached out to support us.
And we did not seek them out.
I stopped teaching.
I felt like a fake.
And a failure.
I closed my heart.
Oh. So. Tired.
I slammed the door.
And locked it.
But God’s door was (is) always open, and I’d crawl in and climb up into His lap and just sit.
And He’d love on me.
And drip grace.
And bit by bit, my heart unfurled.
Until I could serve my family with new energy and tiptoe back into ministry.
And though I haven’t planned any more of those fun get-togethers, I’m freed to serve now in more quiet ways.
I suppose it’s in my core, this serving.
Part of who I am, how I’m wired, how I’m trained.
Years ago as I rushed past his room, I heard him shout.
“Waitress! Hey! Waitress!”
He could have been disoriented.
Or maybe it was my blue pin-striped dress topped with the flared white apron that confused him.
And he needed some care and feeding. Maybe some fresh ice water.
He needed someone to serve him, to listen, to hold his hand and sooth his brow.
One on one.
He was in the hospital after all.
And had need of healing in body and spirit.
A hospitable heart leaks that.
Healing and hope.
I’ve learned there are seasons of serving.
My job is to let lean into them, to lean into Him and let Him infuse me with His love.
Then simply dispense it dose by dose, word by word, touch by touch.
Hospitality should have no other nature but love. ~Henrietta Mears
This week Bonnie asks us to share on the topic of hospitality.
And Emily–sweet Emily’s heart beats for Africa today, and she asks us to swing wide our heart doors.