We had planned a quiet day at home: fallen leaves swirling around the backyard we shared, our daughter playing on a borrowed swing set. We would leave this home soon. I cherished another day looking out French doors across the vast green where chickens and barefoot toddlers roamed wild, but Thanksgiving Day in this fashion just seemed wrong. Visa decisions and an international move loomed as we prayerfully anticipated our son’s upcoming birth, trying also not to relive the day we met his brother whose home was made in heaven.
We joined our church family to lift words of spontaneous praise to the Giver of all good gifts. My hand swooped across my belly as I relished the swishing that indicated a child thriving within. Dark clouds had been dominating the light of joy which made brief, infrequent shifts in the daily climate. Grieved over this storm I hadn’t chosen to weather, I silently asked forgiveness and begged for peace. Certainly, these are among God’s greatest gifts.
Minutes later, a mom of nine, with whom I’d previously only shared pregnancy horrors and birth stories, approached me, and said, “We would like to have your family over for Thanksgiving dinner. “ She proposed this so matter-of-factly like her house wasn’t full enough and she didn’t have a sufficient amount of work to do.
Shocked and relieved, I scribbled down her number, promising to call her after discussing the plan with my husband. But what was there to discuss? We had a clear calendar, an empty fridge, and restless souls.
I entered her home round belly first and toddler on my hip. I wish this memory included me bringing along some tasty treat to add to the spread. We had little to offer aside from ourselves, broken and weary as we were.
No one seemed surprised that we were there which says much about our holiday host. She embraced me with butter-covered hands, pulling me against an apron adorned with flour. Her hair was plastered to her brow, evidence of the labor of the day. I basked in the beautiful glow communicating a persisting joy I hadn’t possessed in quite some time.
There was a sense of belonging in this place which was more like the set of a sitcom throwback than a modern monument to perfected homemaking. I waddled over to a well-loved La-Z-Boy and settled to watch football while the oldest siblings took my eager toddler to bounce around a super-sized trampoline. I exhaled my worries and breathed in the enticing aromas of the equally sizable supper to come..
We feasted on fresh-baked rolls, sweet potato casserole, and new-found friendship. We savored the sweetness of spoken memories and a family founded in Christ. We ate until we were full, and we wasted the day away in the comforting silence of satisfaction punctuated by stories, laughs, and the occasional temper tantrum of a tired two year old.
It seemed, the forecast within my weary ministry/momma heart was changing. I sensed sunlight peeking through the clouds. And with it, a realization: I had vowed to carry my light to the edges of this earth but had allowed the fierce winds of sorrow to blow it out. How could I shine for Christ in the darkest of places when I carried a flameless candle in my own home? I pondered these things while I walked around the track at the park in attempt to prod my son out of my protruding belly. My induction attempts were unsuccessful, but the change in thinking as I walked ’round and ’round were well worth the waddling.
Our home grew to include ten tiny toes a few days after this life-giving holiday celebration and the days of healing that followed. Our daughter stayed at our new friends’ home, jumped on the trampoline all day, and went to sleep in a room full of giggling girls.
I can never repay her for what she unknowingly did for me those days, how she awakened my weary soul to see all that there truly was to be thankful for. I can, however, extend grace born out of gratitude for the sacrifice made to make us daughters of God. This gratitude moves me across the world with my little light in a depth of darkness that makes my knees knock together, begging God for added souls to our spiritual family.
Kindness blew away the swirling storm and replaced it with sunshine in my soul. I was encouraged and empowered, ready to share the warmth of this kind of genuine love for the Lord and for the least of these —like me— around the world. I take lessons learned from beautiful friends like this one, open my heart and prop wide my front door to the hurting and whole alike. The forecast looks as promising as a Thanksgiving spread.
Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee, Mommy Moments Blog Hop @ Life of Faith,
Amber, a beautiful post! We truly can never know what opening our homes and a meal shared can mean to one another. Grateful to be reminded of the ministry done when we are hospitable. Blessings!
Thank you, Joanne. You are so right about hospitality being a ministry! It has taken me a long time to see it that way. Thankful for experiences like this that have shaped me.
I love this tribute to a mama with an ever expanding heart. I want to have that kind of home — always room for more. This says so much about a woman’s faith in God to provide, and to make HER enough for whatever (or whomever) comes along.
Amen! I think I’ve had the wrong idea about hospitality for a long time. It isn’t cooking skills or a perfect home that make me a good host. It’s God’s love shining through me. Thank you for your encouragement, Michele!
These words gripped my my heart today. Thank you for sharing at Glimpses this week.
So thankful, Barbie.
This is stunning and awe-provoking writing, Amber. I am so very glad to happen upon it this morning. Just lovely. “Grieved over this storm I hadn’t chosen to weather, I silently asked forgiveness and begged for peace. Certainly, these are among God’s greatest gifts.”
Wow! What an encouraging comment! Thank you, Susan!
Lovely writing my Friend! So thankful to have been pointed your way!
Thank you, sweet Tammy! XO
Amber, this is an excellent post! Thank you so much for sharing! It really is a matter of the heart, our hospitality, isn’t it?
It really is, Patty!
Hi Amher and thanks for linking up at #Gibe Me Grace this week! I’ve always honored hospitality as a special gift. I’ve learned to cultivate it in my home, in my own way but uninvited guests still scare the heck out of me and a season of not enough tends to keep me from inviting others in. Yeah, I’m still working on that. The open arms and buttery hands hug of your friend are sometime s just what we need to help is remember all the good things we forget. Have a great week.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lisha. The gift of hospitality does not come naturally to me, and I am just trying, like you, to cultivate it in my own way. I understand those seasons of not enough and that there are times we can’t do all that we want or feel we need to do. Praying for grace and peace for your heart this holiday season.
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