“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde There is nothing so lovely as a day with nothing to do when you can put on your pajamas with no make-up and natural hair all day (when you are working … Continue reading
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Hospitality. I’ve received so much of it in my short lifetime. I’ve stayed in more homes than I can remember, been given countless meals, had my laundry washed and ironed to perfection. Many times I was given a bed, while my hosts slept elsewhere. One instance sticks out to me.
It was summer in Germany– the longest day of the year. The ethereal quality of light was peculiar to that day and place on the globe; some friends and I were staying with a family on their pig farm. The farmer and his wife and their small children gathered with us around an old piano. It wasn’t enough that they had provided for us a beautiful meal, a warm bed, clean clothes– they wanted to give us more. On that sun-filled night, they shared their favorite hymn and we shared ours– they invited us into their home and let down their guard– we put away our iPods and our computers and experienced the blessing of gemeinschaft, fellowship. They sang Lobe den Herren, Bless the Lord, and we sang Amazing Grace and we were blessed. I’ll never forget them.
The hospitality I experienced in various places continually inspires me. I have several thoughts I’d like to share:
1. The more the merrier. I’ve never regretted inviting too many people. In fact, I’ve been more likely to regret not inviting that one person. I’ve found that even if a person can’t come, being invited makes them feel wanted and loved. Who doesn’t need a little of that once in a while? And remember Luke 14:12-14:
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Invite that odd person (you know the one) they may just be shy.
2. One-on-one is special too. There are those times that we just need to hang to with that one friend and it’s ok. Friendships need that nurturing– imagine if you never had alone time with your husband?
3. Graciousness. Accidents happen; people forget stuff; kids can be obnoxious. Letting stuff roll– and not talking about it later is the best practice.
4. Perfectionism is my enemy. Yeah, that one time that I decided to do a really fancy dinner and it was really bad . . . I experiment for my husband and do my best to recreate the successes. And the cake comes from the store.
5. But a little decadence is always nice. Tommy makes fun of me, but sometimes I like to use the cloth napkins when we have company, and paper straws. I mean why not? Let Pinterest inspire you!
6. Always offer something. After all, a party without cake is just a meeting. But really, even if it’s just a cup of coffee, it’s welcoming.
7. Don’t be afraid to dig deep. So often we’re afraid to share our grief and joy, but as I learned from my German friends, these are the things that matter: that verse that encouraged us, the fact that we struggle to meet Christ each day… these are the things we need to share; we need to be real. Pray together, cry together, rejoice together. This is real fellowship. This is true gemeinschaft.
“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” -C.S. Lewis
This quote is beautiful and often times, I find that it is incredibly true as I go about my day and think of Meg and Jo in the kitchen as I use brown sugar, or the little golden sister in the well as I fluff my pillow. At other times I am disillusioned as when I found myself thinking that a recent movie was an adaptation of a Shakespeare play . . . only to be told that the misleadingly-titled flick was actually based on a long forgotten 1980s novel. I also find these allusions unfortunate as when a friend tells me the name of their child, and I cannot help but hope they are not aware of Virginia Woolf’s novel and androgynous hero (or was it a heroine . . .??) bearing the same name. However, some nights my former life as an English grad student haunts my dreams– only last night, I was late in handing in a prodigiously extensive worksheet on Ulysses. This dream was unfair to the actual sheets and to my teacher, but completely accurate concerning my feelings as a fledgling Joyce student.
All of these musings aside, I found that after completing my degree, my former thirst for literature was assuaged for a while. In fact, last year I only read ten books! As my husband and I were considering what we had read last year, I was shocked at how little I chose to read. This event caused me to be analytical of my choices in the last year and allowed me to come up with the following observations (confessions) of life post-grad:
1. I find it difficult to read many books, because I have a need to put out as I take in. I really need to have a little notepad by me as a read so I can jot down thoughts and quotes that I want to think about, but who really does that unless they are preparing for a paper (probably all of the really smart people:). I decided this after finishing three books in January and feeling like I had overeaten. I definitely miss writing papers; however I probably will invest in a notebook and try to be smart instead of actually trying to write a literary critical essay on Divergent and Bringing up Bébé (don’t judge– everyone needs some snacks and something educational every now and then:).
2. I feel panicky when I consider all the books that are out there that I haven’t read . . . and want, NEED to read. I do have a short list for this year, but that respectable list of neglected 19th century authors (yawn) keeps me procrastinating in favor of all these child development books I feel the need to read before mini mack makes his advent. My developmental section is kept in the form of an ever-growing list on Amazon, while my goodreads list idles in the vaults of the web somewhere . . . occasionally they send an email and I feel guilt, because:
3. I need to be reading all these things in case I ever really do go back to school and write a dissertation on how the Imagists might have influenced the Georgians and how that in turn may have influenced the aesthetic of the WWI poets!! This is an unlikely event, but occasionally the ambition resurfaces and causes a flurry of research and a strong desire to name our son Owen (after Wilfred). Of course, there is a battle within me because the lucrative part of my English journey has been the education/ESL side and after a particularly exciting time with a student I will often think, no I want to finish my DELTA and then maybe pursue an Ed.D. . . . more unlikely events, yet this often causes yet another annoying habit:
4. I get distracted mid-conversation by poor grammar. And because of ESL, I need to correct it and figure out how to explain the correction in simple English. This really annoys Tommy sometimes:).
5. I am envious of my school friends who are still pulling all nighters to finish papers. I am also jealous when they get to take classes I particularly wanted to take. This envy inspires dozens of tabs being opened with plans for copious reading at a later date . . .
“Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my furry upon them and satisfy myself.”
While I was reading this passage yesterday morning, I was struck my one word in it– the word “spend.”
I immediately thought of the third definition– to exhaust, and I thought that the idea of God’s wrath having a end point, was nice, but that probably is not the meaning so, I tried not to think too much on that until I have a chance to study it more; however I did consider that in order for something to spend itself out, there has to be a fixed amount. Like time. Each person has an unknown fixed amount on this earth.
That is a sobering reality.
Because I am getting married this weekend, I think I may be a little more nostalgic than usual (and a little is a lot for me:). I started thinking of so many dear people that didn’t just spend time with me– they invested their time physically–and in prayer– in me– teachers, family, friends. I am so thankful for them.
Two things I am excited about for my wedding are:
1. my something borrowed
I am borrowing a bracelet from the three most influential women in my life, and the most influential woman in Tommy’s life, and I am excited to honor them in that small way.
2. the sixpence
One of the brightest spots during my graduate assistantship was getting to know several wonderful co workers– This truly kindred spirit surprised me by providing the final touch for the rhyme and throwing me a gorgeously fun shower– how cool is that? :)
I am also for the friends that are traveling a ton of miles to spend Saturday with me and Tommy– it wouldn’t be the same without them!
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