Monday, January 14, 2013

What Happens When You Open Your Home?

All of our married life Jim has wanted our home to be a place that is warm, comfortable and open to guests.

He loves to extend hospitality. 

Years ago, one of my favorite communicators Elisabeth Elliot  shared in her book "The Shaping Of A Christian Family"  how she was one of six children yet her parents made space available for guests. They had a book for their visitors to sign that became a treasure to their family.

As they looked through the notes and names of those to whom their family had extended hospitality, they more fully realized the scope of blessing these people had been to them and the impact that this practice had on them over the years. 

Some who had stayed in the Howard home went on to become famous. A few gave up their lives on the mission field. All of them left a little of themselves as a gift.

So about ten years ago we purchased a journal for the spare bedroom and encouraged our visitors to sign it. Last week as we were preparing for some guests I realized the binding on our journal had fallen apart. Pages tumbled out to reveal faces and words that some had left there as a gift to our hearts.

There was Cheryl and Jill from Canada. Bold teenagers who stood before a large assembly of people to share their testimonies and gifts of music. In the quiet of our home we were able to have conversations about their lives. The transparency of these girls melted my heart like wax and on it they stamped these words. "We are committed to taking off the masks of perfection or the idea of having it all together and we hold each other accountable in how we are living our lives."

I loved that.

"Take off the masks."

Be real.

Talk about where the battle rages.

Move beyond striving for perfection and start really living.

I still love that.

Those teenagers were wiser than many adults.

We had Lica from Brazil who spoke at least three languages fluently.  She moved past being a guest to being a daughter. There was one day that Lica sat at our kitchen table and spoke at length to Juan and Eva who were visiting from Peru. They spoke is a language they both understood but that was foreign to us.

And Lica's dad. A chef. He came and cooked mound of food which blessed many. 

Sweet Andrea and Lindsey were part of a team of performers, Donna a dress designer from California, and Carl and Kathy who stayed once a year for many years.

One Christmas Yasu from Japan joined us. A gentle intelligent college student who just slipped in and make himself at home in our hearts.

It was a cold dark night with driving rain when Bob and Harriett arrived. They were so weary  from the barren ribbon of miles traveled that a simple bowl of potato soup was comfort to them. The first night they retired early to their room and sank gratefully into bed ....there was a squeal. Running downstairs I found our corgi 'Olivia' sitting on top of them licking their faces. That dog still knows how to open the door to the spare room. This sweet couple  captivated us with stories of their fifty years of living on reservations, serving and loving Native Americans.

Bob and Harriett shared with us the message of their lives. A message of faithfulness and love and service in the long haul of life. 

I don't remember how Phil DelRe found his way to our home. But we enjoyed his dynamic personality and the fire in his soul. He has a bold and vibrant jail ministry in Chicago. Long late night talks inflamed our souls to reach beyond the bars of our comfort zone to those who find themselves incarcerated. 

Four young men who were part of Moody Men's Collegiate Choir stayed. For Jim and I who raised daughters, these guys gave us a glimpse of what having sons might look like. They romped and wrestled like young bull calves, ate everything set before them and smiled the entire time they stayed.

Bright and early on Sunday morning I sat straight up in bed when Ray decided to warm up his strong beautiful soprano voice by belting out a song of praise and would then interject shrill falsetto notes to put exclamation marks on his passion and talent. The other three would join in a cappella and their voices penetrated the walls of our home and the walls of our hearts.

It was glorious. 

There were beautiful children from India who just wanted french fries from drive-through and children from Africa that danced around and played dress up and chased our dogs up and down the hall way.

A few days after the three African girls left and I was finally putting clean sheets on beds it came to me to read the message they left in the book. Those beautiful girls who called us "Auntie and Uncle". Two had left polite thank you's for warm comfortable beds and good food.

But the third one.

Her message just pierced my heart.

It was Washo.

She wrote that she had fun  ".. and wished she could stay with us forever and ever." 

Perhaps all three girls were orphans. They withheld that information from the host families. We did know some were from an area of particular unrest and war. But this message from Washo with the bright-beautiful-brave face. She must have been an orphan whose heart ached to have a home and we didn't even know.

The tears still drop from my eyes to think about her. 

And I wonder where she is now....

Yasu returned to Japan right before his beloved country endured the tsunami.

And the others.

So many others.

Our family was blessed by them all. 

Klaus and Evan are sleeping in our home even as I type. They are part of a music ministry team of seven young people who travel and perform in all kinds of settings. While touring the country and abroad has to be fun at times, my mom-grandma eyes can see these young people put in long days, many miles, crammed in a van, setting up and tearing down equipment. They have to adapt to so many different situations while doing a a ton of work.

And they are someones fine sons.

So we want to bless them while they are here.

Because they are doing the important work of sharing the reality of Jesus in their lives.

This is high work and hard work and holy work.

Carpenters Tools International Team

The old journal is falling apart but we are clinging to the pieces so we don't forget what each one gave to us.

We are grateful to have been a small part of their journeys.

A few tips on hospitality?

Don't wait until everything is perfect.

Open your heart to the blessing.

Keep it simple.

Clean sheets.

Something in the crock pot.

Just this...? 

* Be available *

What happens when we open our homes?


It enlarges our world.

post signature


Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! Thank you for stopping by.

© Rhonda Quaney