Our new house, Oct 2016

One month in, we still have boxes in every room. Except the laundry room and bathrooms. Those rooms are too small. The designated kitchen is not full of boxes, but since it is connected to the dining room (which still does have boxes), it hardly counts as unpacked. And the house isn’t pretty yet. It’s messy. No pictures on the wall. Our “curtains” are still bedsheets and cheap fabric sheeting/packing material that is literally staple-gunned to the window frame (on the top of course, so we won’t see the holes later).

“One month in!” you exclaim, “Get your act together! How can you live like that?!?” (Actually you are probably nicer than that, but these mean voices pop up in my head at times as if people are judging me, when in fact, they probably aren’t, and if they are, who cares? Jesus loves me. )

What have we been doing all month? Two soccer teams, busier-than-normal work schedules this month, church, small groups, school activities, and you know, things like dishes and laundry which generally keep me pretty darn busy even without the unpacking nonsense.

So, it is with great surprise that we found ourselves hosting some friends to go trick-or-treating, having another friend to dinner, and hosting a family (with a dog!) who found themselves in need of emergency housing for the weekend.

Guess how many of them cared about my boxes and lack of pictures on the wall and baskets of laundry? None. One friend even said, “It’s kind of nice to see I’m not the only one who has a messy house right now!” I’m not saying I’d like to make a FIRST impression this way, but kindness speaks louder than boxes, and a home is not made comfortable by fancy pillows and great decor as much as it is by a sense of the presence of God and welcoming people in the home.

I’m not a great decorator, a particularly “neat” person, or a fancy chef. Yet people tend to say our home feels like a peaceful place where they can relax and feel safe. It’s not the quiet kids that make it so (I don’t have any quiet kids), or the inspirational words on the wall (I don’t have those either). It’s the Spirit.

I got the keys to the house on a Friday at 5pm, and by 6pm the loaded moving truck arrived with our helpful friends in tow. But the very first thing I did, alone in my home, before the truck arrived, was walk through the house in prayer. Sometimes singing, sometimes praying in the Spirit, sometimes praying in my understanding, but all the while inviting in the presence of the Lord. I anointed every doorway, inside and out, with anointing oil, as a symbol of God’s presence in every room and passage. When the light hits it just right, in some places you can still see where my finger swiped the oil onto the post above the door.

God is here.

I want people to be here too.

When was the last time someone came to your home and shared a meal? This most basic form of human connection over regular human needs: food, shelter, a safe place to be with someone who is kind. We’ve had seasons of hosting people fairly often, but I realized that in the season of moving (since the spring, when we went into escrow the first time), we really haven’t hosted in the last six months due to the “in-process” state of the home. Apparently, God decided our time was up. Ready or not, here they come!

Hospitality is a calling to believers in Christ. The Good Samaritan shows us that, along with a bevy of other verses. To name a few:

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Romans 12:13 “contribute to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”
1 Peter 4:9 “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”
Titus 1:8 “Rather, [be] hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.”

Many other examples are given in the Bible of people who are hospitable, and are commended and blessed by God and others for their actions.

I’ve been reading Jen Hatmaker’s latest book, “For the Love.” She writes,

   “If Jesus is the heart of the church, people are the lifeblood… If Jesus’ basic marching orders were 1.) to love God and 2.) to love poeple, then the fruit of that obedience includes being loved by God and loved by people. We give and get here. According to Jesus, the love of God and people is the substance of life.
…A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality in every culture on earth…Loneliness can be a prison, but we have keys… They look like tables and couches beef stew and crusty French bread… The keys include good questions and good listening around a fire pit; they certainly contain stories and laughter. They don’t require fussing or fluffing, so don’t let anything stop you, because a messy kitchen only tells me someone cares enough to feed me, which is a good key.
Instead of waiting for community, provide it, and you’ll end up with it anyway.”
(pages 114-118)

Open the doors. Let people in. As an introvert, this isn’t always easy for me. People take extra energy, even when I love them and I really want to be with them. One time this past summer when I was overwhelmed with life I almost had a panic attack about going to a barbecue with some of my best friends. Because ALONE is a real need for me. But LOVE is also a real need, and though I get it from God, I also need to get it from people, and I need to give it to people.

When I open up my home, I want it to look nice, because no one really wants to sit on my mismatched socks, or walk on my kids’ legos, or look at a pile of dishes or mail while they eat. And maybe also because sometimes I do worry about what others will think of me. I want you to like me, and I want you to think I’ve got my life together somewhat. But sometimes I need to get over myself and just invite you in.

What about you? Who can you invite in this week?


Full disclosure: The rest of the house, with the junk in front that we haven’t figured out where to keep. Yep, you are welcome here. Just ignore my junk.