Sunday, August 7, 2011

Your Meal Doesn't Have to Be Perfect - Invite Them Anyway!

I love to cook. But it isn't really the act of cooking that motivates me. It is the connecting with people that motivates me. I love having people sitting around my table talking and relaxing and sharing about life. I have found that if you don't feed your guests they aren't as comfortable doing all of those things. So - I learned to cook. I also learned because my mom is the same way. She is a great cook, but she is more than that - she is hospitable. Both of my parents are. They are welcoming and put people at ease around their table. You can talk freely and comfortably while you are there. The food was always amazing - but simple.

I have been reading A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. I have been so blessed by this book. I haven't finished it yet, but so far I highly recommend it. It has challenged me in many ways - but today I have been thinking about one tiny little point that Mr. Chester has made. I want to focus on just a few lines:

"Now television shows and cookbooks sell the idea of hospitality back to us as they encourage us to remake hospitality in the image of restaurant cuisine. Sharing a family meal has been replaced by the fancy dinner party... Hospitality has become performance art, and we've lost the creation of intimacy around a meal."

That was a convicting statement. There is an ever present temptation to shift the focus of the meal from community to performance - and it is a temptation we, as the church, should resist. Tons of time and energy (and blog space) has been dedicated to presenting an impressive meal or table setting. When in reality we as believers are called to be hospitable - and often times that means serving something simple, warm, filling and inviting. It is actually freeing to intentionally serve something simple and inviting! How sad would it be if I slaved to impress my neighbor with my gourmet table only to make them feel inferior or intimidated by the meal that I am serving. I want to communicate that yes, I have worked hard to provide a good meal for you, but I am more interested in you and your needs and your company than in being impressive.

Jesus ate many, many meals and the guests were always more important than the meal. My friend Melissa told me recently about someone who invited her family over for dinner and it was soup and bread. The simplest of meals - but it was one of the most refreshing, relaxing, and entirely blessing-filled meals that she and her husband experienced in a long time. It was because the hosts cared more about them than the food - and she felt that and gloried in it.

One of the most beautiful things you can do to connect with friends and neighbors is invite them to a meal that you are serving your family - and that is different from inviting them to a meal prepared especially for them. It is including them in your daily life, including them in your home. How much easier it is to invite people to a meal that you are already preparing than to have to wait until you have the time, energy, and budget to provide them with a impressive display of your skills and food knowledge! Go ahead - invite them. Your friends and neighbors need to be seated at your table - and they don't care what you feed them, they just want to hear what makes you different! Share a meal and share Jesus.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

22 Reasons Why I Love My Husband

Today Steve and I have been married for 22 years. Wow. Some days it doesn't seem like even 5 years. The husband of my youth has become the husband of my middle age. For those of you who do not know him, this is a quote that describes him perfectly: "He was like an axman at work in a tangled thicket, cutting and cutting at the brush and the vines and the low limbs, trying to mkae room for a full swing." And I love him. Here are just a few reasons why (reasons that some of you will think are entirely too sappy - my apologies):

1. He fit one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables quotes: "I wouldn't marry anyone who was really wicked, but I think I'd like it if he could be wicked and wouldn't."
2. He loves Jesus more than me, and he isn't afraid to remind me of this.
3. He has given me Victoria - and she has his creative mind and gifted use of words.
4. He gave me Esther - and she has his sense of independence and drive and "I won't take no for an answer" attitude.
5. He gave me Isaac - Steve chose the name long before he was born - it means laughter and Isaac has brought laughter to our lives every day along with being a miniature version of his dad.
6. His IQ is one point higher than mine - and he has used it to his advantage every day of our marriage!
7. I am his standard of beauty... which is possibly the most amazing blessing that God has given us.
8. He keeps me busy.
9. He still tells me that someday I will be able to visit Base Camp on Mount Everest - even though he knows that is physically impossible for me.
10. He understands my need to dream about owning land and a barn - and 5 horses and 5 cows and 5 chickens.
11. He is a gentle man. "The gentleness I knew in him seemed to be calling out, and it was a gentleness in me that answered. That gentleness, calling and answering, giving and taking, brought us together. It brought us into the room of love. It made our place clear around us." - Wendell Berry
12. He is the adventurous one and I am the cautious one.
"The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition." - Robert Frost
13. He makes me feel safe.
14. He pushes me to feel unsafe.
15. We have grown into adults together - he is part of the reason that I am the person that I am today.
16. He is quick to apologize.
17. He is a humble man who leads me well.
18. He sacrifices himself for me daily.
19. He loves the Word of God - and this reminds me of my father.
20. He still rides his skateboard to work.
21. He loves to take me for drives that lead to nowhere.
22. He is my other half - we are one."That she was his half, she had no doubt at all. He needed her. At times she knew with a joyous ache that she completed him, just as she knew with the same joy that she needed him and he completed her. How beautiful a thing it was, she thought, to be a half, to be completed by such another half!" -Wendell Berry

"This, though I be the feeblest of God's host,
The sorriest sheep Chirst shepherds with His crook.
Yet while I love my God the most, I deem
That I can never love you over-mcuh;
I love Him more, so let me love you too;
Yea, as I apprehend it, love is such
I cannot love you if I love not Him,
I cannot love Him, if I love not you.
-Christina Rosetti

I am grateful to God for the blessing of Steve.