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tattoo manJust this week, I led a Bible study class on hospitality and compassion.  When we finished, one of the ladies was almost in tears.  Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren just moved back to the state.  Her grandson-in-law looks like a biker – tall, inked, long-hair, bandana. But he’s the best father she’s ever seen.  They want to come to church with her but she’s put off setting up a date. “Some people will look down their noses at him.”

“Well, they better get the heck over it. He’s family and we all adore you. Tell them to come.”

“But not everyone is like you.”

Thank God. I’m far from perfect. I’ve got a temper that one Grandmother claimed was Irish while the other insisted was German. Wherever it came from, I’ve got plenty of it. I spend a surprising amount of time wishing I’d kept my mouth shut. And there is virtually no one that I won’t boss around.

What I don’t tend to do is get caught up on how a Christian should look.  If you want to wear K-mart polyester or a snazzy suit, I’m okay with it.  A man with long hair isn’t going to faze me but neither is a buzz cut. I’m not going to slut shame or comment on your conservative pants suit, but I might ask you to sing in the choir, hand out bulletins or help me move a table. It’s that bossy gene. That said, I’ll also welcome you in and there’s always a pot of coffee on.

My friend was right. Everyone isn’t like me. Lori has her ever hopeful nature. Ruth is the best at helping us remember to laugh.  Me? It’s God’s house and I’m going to welcome you in with a bit of hospitality.

And, while you’re here, I may ask you to lend a hand. After all, God’s given each of us a gift to share.

–SueBE

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Hospitality means different things for different people.  For my grandmother and her friends, it meant cards and drinks and snacks.  Lots of cards, plenty of drinks and bowl upon bowl of snacks.  Her super clean house always looked like a magazine spread.

Grandma knew her friends and she knew them as well as she knew her family.  Before there was even a word for it, Grandma was a prayer warrior.  She held us up and we knew it.

At this point in the Edward’s household, hospitality looks very different.  The kitchen floor looks like it belongs in a stable. Instead of hay on the floor of a stall, I have zoysia chaff on the floors, both sofas and most of the chairs. Add to that the chip bags, plates coated in pasta sauce and half empty cups that accessorize every room.

For 10 hours, boys from 12 to 16 have been tromping in and out.  They’ve played Nerf and Risk and Xbox. There was something about zombies. With the mess, you would think there were dozens but this time it was only seven.  As I write this, we’ve fed them two meals and will soon be giving several rides home.

I had a whole list of things to get done before I go to bed but 7 boys pretty well take over the house.  When my husband was cooking dinner, I was counseling one on girlfriends, a healthy diet and weight loss. Yes, even boys worry about their weight and I’m going to be praying that he focuses on health and not on the number on the scale.

We discussed swim team and the fact that this summer they will be on two different teams instead of the same one. I know they can handle competing against each other. They do that anyway but we’re worried about the boy who has autism and doesn’t handle change with ease. He’s one of them being moved to a new team while his best friend stays on the other team. I’ll be praying that he find a support group who can hold him up long enough to discover his amazing sense of humor and fair play.

Maybe hospitality here really isn’t all that different. As I pray for these boys, I’ll also be thanking God for the grandmother who showed me how to open my home, get to know someone, and hold them up to God.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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