From the Mouths of Babes….or young lads who challenge the home or hospitality mentality.

The curtain rod fell down on my head as I balanced on a stool for the tenth time that day, all with hyperactive children running all around me a few feet below. I half caught it and then slammed it down on the stack of boxes below.

“I can’t get anything done around here! I can’t even get curtains hung!”

Danny tries to calm me.

“Honey, its OK. It will come together eventually. ”

“But I’m so tired of not being settled! I just want everything in its place and I want our house to be done!”

Danny could have talked til he was blue in the face, but it was my son’s words that penetrated.

“Mom, nobody in our neighborhood even has curtains. Why do we need them? Right now we’re just like everybody else.”

Oh, how his words sunk in. put this nesting mamma in her place. put priorities in order.

My neighbor's make-shift curtains, which is how my entire neighborhood "does" curtains

My neighbor’s make-shift curtains, which is how my entire neighborhood “does” curtains

What does it really look like to come from a “different culture” but choose to become one with the culture we have moved into?  What does it look like to to truly become incarnational in this context? Right here in America, where I can drive 15 minutes to a friends house and see beautiful tapestries hung and in place?

Maybe it means prioritizing people above the picturesque home I desire.

Maybe it means enjoying children more than enjoying neatness and order.

Maybe it means welcoming neighbors into a home that still has boxes stacked in the corners and walls still to be painted, simply because today I choose people over projects, the “to BE” list, rather than the “to-DO list”. 

Do I choose to spend the afternoon preparing a meal for houseguests who will then experience the meal in God's word? Or do I spend the afternoon tackling the boxes?

Do I choose to spend the afternoon preparing a meal for houseguests who will then experience the meal in God’s word? Or do I spend the afternoon tackling the boxes?

We chose the houseguests, and the Bible study.

We chose the houseguests, and the Bible study.

and let the stack of pictures to be hung just sit there.

and let the stack of pictures to be hung just sit there.

I don’t completely forsake the chipping away at household projects, or the desire to create beauty, order and grace in a home. For now, the slowness of the process can be embraced as a needed process of soul sanctification, neighbor identification, and it becomes far bigger than just my home transformation.

After all, maybe Liddell, who lives in a home with a blue tarp roof,

IMG_7635would feel far more welcomed into a home that is also making good use of large blue tarps

our backyard and the blue tarps...what drives me crazy, might actually drive our neighbors towards us rather than away from us.

our backyard and the blue tarps…what drives me crazy, might actually drive our neighbors towards us rather than away from us.

Every neighbor in this area lives in a home that needs work done on it, and despite my desire to “just be done” with house projects, being in this state of process might be the very thing that unites us instead of divides us from our neighbors.  Those walls needing paint, and that unlandscaped yard, and that pile of building supplies, might be the very thing that keeps the “us and them” mentality at bay…the very “us and them” mentality that left this neighborhood so forsaken those years ago.

So maybe with a death of my desire,

a desire that feels so natural and justified to me,

actually creates a void

in which new life can emerge,

the life of a neighborhood connection,

a commonality,

an identification,

a “with”ness,

that creates a platform for

witness.

Which in the end, is far more important, far more eternal, than curtains being hung.

~~~~~

Guests in our home, AND the curtains were hung (in the backdrop) both desires fulfilled, but not until patience was learned.

Guests in our home, AND the curtains were hung! (in the backdrop) Both desires fulfilled, but not until patience was learned.

 

 

Eventually those boxes were unpacked.

Eventually those boxes were unpacked.

The house looked like this when we moved in...

The house looked like this when we moved in…

And looks like this now. PROGRESS!!

And looks like this now. PROGRESS!!

Progress, but not perfection...still little things needing to be done!

Progress, but not perfection…still little things needing to be done!

 

Where did November go?!?

I am too busy being present in my life, to blog about it these days.

That hit when, yesterday, I clicked on my blog link and realized I hadn’t blogged since October!  How could that be?! I started pondering…what on earth have I been doing, that I haven’t had time to blog for that long…I started to ransack my weakened-by-pregnancies memory, and it all started coming back to me…

Fall Baking Fest with the kids:

(Mind you, I dragged five children into two different grocery stores looking for canned pumpkin and they didn’t have it.  At the second one, I declared “I’m not leaving this store without pumpkin!” So we bought two small real pumpkins and took them home to bake them down and puree them.)

Our cousins are back from Southeast Asia!!

We played with them as often as possible, because their time back in the States is short.  Our desires is that these little cousins will be the best of friends and future partners in the Gospel.

Outreach Dinner (no pictures, because I was too busy hosting and forgot to take them)

We partnered with some good friends of ours to host a “Dinner and Discussion” night in our home.  Each family invited friends and neighbors who don’t know the Lord to come over for dinner and to have discussion about spiritual things.  We had about 25 people total (including the kiddos) and had a great dinner together.  Then we watched a Francis Chan video, Stop and Think, and had a great time of discussing and then prayer.  Every single person who came was interested in be part of a beginners Bible Study that we are starting in January.  People who would feel intimidated by going to church, loved the evening in a relaxed atmosphere and said they learned so much and thought about things they don’t normally think about.   Praise the Lord.

Danny turns..ehhem…35

We had a “pre-Thanksgiving” feast and had 25 people over the following weekend to celebrate Danny’s life.  Again, no pictures because I was too busy hosting. And no, I didn’t cook everything…A bunch of people brought sides, to complement the meal. Guests hung words of encouragement on 35 different slips of paper all throughout the house, we had sweet fellowship, prayer for Danny’s life, and hilarious games….Laughing is good for the soul.

Daniel Josiah turns SEVEN!!!

And by request, we had a Ninjago party, complete with Ninja headbands, Sensaii appearance by Danny who led them in Ninja training, and fighting skills practice on a pinata (plus snacks and Ninjago cake and ice cream).  Super low budget, but everyone had such a great time. And most importantly, the birthday boy said it was the best birthday party ever.

My family comes into town!!!

What a sweet, sweet time.  I am so privileged to have such an amazing father, brother(s) and sister, AND honored that they made the trek south to spend the (almost) week with us. We played outside, went “hiking” (hiking is a relative term in Florida), stayed up late talking and laughing, and even did some shopping.

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Thanksgiving

We hosted an eclectic spread of people for Thanksgiving dinner-a neighborhood family who is having a hard time, people from the nursing home that we work with, an older gentleman from our church who doesn’t have any family nearby, and two guys from Egypt. After two straight days of cooking for the feast, I declared I wasn’t cooking again for a week! (and I didn’t, thanks to leftovers….) I was so thankful for my family who helped occupy children and straighten the house while I was busy in the kitchen. Some of our guests, for whom I had cooked for two days straight, are rather senile and didn’t have much of a clue what was going on, as long as they got fed.  It was such a good reminder of the Gospel to me- I often don’t have a clue all that God has done for me, yet I am still welcomed at the Feast of Life, simply because the Bridegroom has invited me. Also, the guys from Egypt were so encouraging to talk to.  Particularly, one who is a Christian, and who has witnessed firsthand the persecution from Muslims for his faith.  He had challenging words for us and really encouraged us in our vigilance in the faith. (I could, and hopefully will eventually write a whole blog post on our conversation.) My favorite part of the evening was going around and sharing what we were thankful for, meditating on Psalms of thanks, and having a worship time afterwards.

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Putting up the Christmas Tree!

We invited our housemate from Libya, Nader, to be part of this fun family tradition.  The kids were so ecstatic, you would have thought it was Christmas day!  It was great to share our Christmas traditions, sing carols around the tree, and then have a late night conversation with Nader about life, God, and cultures.

First of our Christmas Clubs!

I’ve recruited two other Christian moms to help me put on a series of four Christmas clubs to help teach kids the real meaning of Christmas.  We invited other students from the public school where Daniel Josiah goes and we had 16 kids come, with more who are interested in coming in the future.   It was a full, energetic house, but everyone had a great time, as we had snack, did a Christmas lesson, craft and outdoor games.  Its a great way to get to know other moms also. Again, I only snapped a quick photo at the tail end when we were playing games outside.  (its hard to teach and take pictures at the same time)

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And, THAT, folks, is where November went….