To my mother in law on her birthday,
When I think of you, I always think of your cooking. Yes, I am the girl who loves to eat. I think of the meals you have prepared over the 17 years I have known and been a part of your family. It’s not just because you went to culinary school, or because you cook for a living, but also because so many of our family memories involve meals at your table.
The very first time we ate together as families in Hawaii, you served enchiladas and we ate on the lanai. I was only 16 then and had no idea that when you invited my family over for dinner, I would be joining yours forever in a few short years when I married Josh.
I have thought a lot lately about what it means to break bread with one another. The bond that a shared meal forms between people, and how Jesus used meals so specifically to build community. I love the idea of community, the ideals of it, the fruit that comes from it.
But truth be told, the work involved in developing and maintaining a community can be tiresome. Not only because I am an introvert and would usually prefer a quiet evening alone to a larger gathering, but also because when I take the spiritual gifts tests, hospitality doesn’t even register on my profile. It’s like my kryptonite. It makes me weak and tired just thinking about it. I am home teaching the kids all day and by evening, I’m drained. It is so far outside of my comfort zone to then open my home to others to share a meal. Although I have felt convicted that I should be more open to putting myself out there to build community, I know I will never be naturally gifted in that capacity. It’s work for me. There I said it. Friendships are a lot of work. Community is a lot of work. Cooking and cleaning up is a lot of work. I have three kids, I already have a lot of that to do and to add more mouths and dishes and groceries, well, sometimes it’s unappealing. And so, we (I) tend to avoid hospitality altogether, at least when a meal at my house is involved.
No one I know, does hospitality like you. And even though it’s not something I do well, or at all, I have learned a lot from watching you and your obvious gift of hospitality that has provided such a warm refuge for those who need a place to belong. Your house is not fancy in any respect. Most of your furnishings were found from garage sale bargains and Craig’s list. It is not immaculate and clutter free or sterile and impersonal. It is homey. Lived in. And that makes it the perfect home to invite people into. It’s a place where people gather for Bible studies and meals together. Where a room is offered when one is needed. It is a sanctuary where people find community during Holidays when all that awaits them at home is a solitary meal. It is a haven for those that would otherwise be alone.
It is an open door, a warm oven, and a table set for the Lord. It is a place you allow yourself to be used by Him to extend love, mercy , and nourishment to those needing to be fed not just in their bodies but in their spirits.
So, on your birthday, I wanted to tell you that you have nourished a very real part of me with those meals. Especially with your Guinness roast. Sigh.
And I hope someday, to be able to practice a little more hospitality with you in my life as a godly example of what it looks like to truly set the table.
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