Monday, July 7, 2014

When Our Lives Create An Atmosphere

I stand at the sink, my hands working under a thin stream of cool water. When all the hard boiled eggs have been peeled, I start removing the skins from potatoes. Only a handful of times in a year, do I make potato salad. 

I don’t have a real recipe, but when I make a bowl full, it's always a hit with family and friends. 

With the long weekend, I wanted a few things ready that JQ loves. We’ve learned to celebrate holidays, as well as life, when he is here, which is rarely on the same day that is marked on the calendar.

We put up a few decorations, grilled handcrafted hamburgers and fresh veggies sprinkled with olive oil and parmesan cheese. It was all relaxed and comfortable. The time together was as sweet as the blueberry crisp which was topped with freshly whipped cream.

Since we have been married, JQ has wanted our house to be a home that is welcoming. Even if only for the two of us.

He has wanted us to live in such a way, that our home is a retreat, not only for us, but also for anyone who enters.

In the early years I wasn’t sure what that really meant. 

It seemed as if you would have to have a fresh pan of brownies and nearly spotless home, to accomplish that kind of culture of warmth.

So I would try. 

And if I knew company was coming I’d command the children to run around making their beds and moving laundry off the stairs.

Until, one day, completely unannounced, a knock came at our door. Since we lived twenty minutes, on one of the worse roads in the county, drop-ins were not the normal, unless people were lost or out of gas.

There, standing outside our door, was a woman I knew only casually. She had been to our home once before on business. Now, she had traveled over an hour to arrive at our little place, with a car load of family, who were visiting from Sweden. She apologized for not calling ahead, but explained how they were taking a drive when she remembered us and wanted her visitors to experience the atmosphere of our home.

While I was a little embarrassed at our very imperfect, messy life, we flung the door open wide on our home and our hearts. We rummaged around for a little refreshment and sat down to sweet conversation. 

Even though mostly we were strangers, it felt like we had been long time friends when they departed.

They kept saying things like, “there is just something wonderful and welcoming about your home.” They thanked us for the kindness of hot chocolate and warm heart-to-heart exchange of words.

They prayed blessings over us.

And right there in the middle of our ordinary, unplanned life, I think we got a glimpse of real hospitality.

What they really came to see, to feel and to experience, was Jesus in our home and in us.

It wasn't about how the furniture was arranged, but about how we positioned our hearts to be open to others.

That lesson learned a decade ago, still teaches.

If there is one thing I want my home and my very life to reflect, it is an atmosphere of love, acceptance, of kindness and a sense of warm welcome.  

I want it to be "others" centered. That is really what it's about. Our lives and our homes.

It's about people.

Jesus lived that kind of life. 

A life that was an open invitation to “come.”  

Since He didn't have a home of His own, He lived a welcoming life. 

By His words and actions, He made people feel like they could approach Him, hang out with Him, share their deepest places of need with Him.

He told those who were weary, "to come." (read here?)

He commanded the disciples to "let the little children come to Him." (read here?)

He asked people to “come follow Him.” (read here?)

In Revelations the beautiful invitation is “...Let the one who is thirsty come....” (read here?)

Jesus lived a life that was about others and I personally feel the most alive when I live that way too.

This summer I have a stack of books that I’m reading, but the one on the top right now is "Pursue the Intentional Life," by Jean Fleming. 

I just want to squeeze her. 

She says that “every life creates an atmosphere.” 

It is a profound truth, how every single person brings into the room and into the world, an “atmosphere.”  

So my question to myself and to you?

When we walk in the room, what mood, what tone, what feeling do we bring with us?

My hope and prayer, is that it is one of love, peace and light.


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© Rhonda Quaney