Sep 8, 2014

Opportunity not Limitation

This Sunday saw me per usual rocking babies in the nursery and taking a crying two year old around the courtyard for walks.  In between walks, the special mom bounces (you all know the bounce-walk), and wails, I listened to the sermon coming over the loud-speaker.  This was our "Get Connected" Sunday and the invitation was sent out to the congregation to get into something.  Join a lifegroup, serve, get involved.  In short, get invested in other people and get hands messy.  I was having a connecting  moment with a wailing kid.  Was that what he meant?

We heard that message moving into our new house in a new city and a new church seven years ago.  We felt brave.  We flung our doors open in our nice new house and our cavernous rooms that were yet to be filled with much furniture. We felt so courageous and generous.  And we were so surprised when people actually came.  And STAYED. Then they got to know us even more and saw our ugly sides too.  And STAYED.

  Flash forward, seven years, and things aren't the same.  Instead of brave, we are comfortable.  Those new people became best friends.  Our house in hanging in there by a thread from the damage three kids have incurred on it and it's jam packed with all the trappings families bring with them over the years.  It's no longer cavernous, it's scrunchy.  Inviting people over feels like a tight fit.  Being generous with my house means that I have learned to no longer hold anything sacred.  When you weekly for years throw open your doors to families with young children who shriek, playing tag up and down the hallways with light sabers, and eat messy family meals, there truly is nothing sacred anymore.
 Two small kid bedrooms, a filled-to-the-gills playroom and a dining room table that you can barely get around because of the narrow space we calling the "dining area", well, we're pretty maxed out here. I was starting to see all of this as a limitation and not an opportunity to throwing my doors open. But, honestly, it's all in perspective.  I keep making the invites and people keep coming.  Some days it just blows my mind.  People don't seem to mind my tight spaces and the kid-friendly (read messy) spaces and keep coming by and I keep slapping down the coffee in front of them.  We keep telling deep stories and consuming cups, and shoving snacks at kids, as kids keep shrieking and laughing and crashing down my long hallways.  And somehow, I've grown so much and am all the better for it.

 We also had maxed ourselves out with people in the last couple of years.  We didn't have room for anyone new, and well, we were just feeling comfortable.  It was time to take inventory. So Tone and I took an inventory this last year and decided to scrap some things and go a new direction this spring.  We quit leading the lifegroup we had led in our home for the last 6 years and jumped into new groups. At a certain point, sometimes you just get too comfortable, ya know, and quit challenging each other to dig deeper and grow more. I don't mean quit friendships, no way (best friends for life!), but allow space for new.  I took on the role of Kids Co Director at my church campus (our children's program) which means organizing and knowing about 80 volunteers and I still need a bunch more.  And yet, that's nice church business stuff, but really, can we branch out beyond that, we wondered?

I decided not to get involved with a Monday night Bible study so that I can get involved more with Hunter's Scouts.  I decided to start attending a card making club with women in my neighborhood.  I'm the only Christian in the bunch, and they are a really tight bunch (I'm the newbie), but yet they kept inviting me and I was even able to host them this summer while all their kids came and shrieked and laughed and crashed toys down my hallway.

Tone decided to help lead and be involved in our church's Regeneration group which is a group for accountability, grace and learning; how the gospel can touch deep areas of hurt and sin in our lives and change us from the inside out. It's a place for those who have a sickness or hurt deep in the soul that needs a Savior's touch.  So really, we should all be grabbing a seat at that table to drink in the message there.

But then we wondered, can we do more?  So Saturday saw me sitting in an orientation for the International Friendship Program at Fresno State University.  We are eager to invite an international student into our home for meals and friendship while they are far from home.  If they'll let us, we'd like to be their family away from home.  We are eager to know someone who can share another culture with us and make our world just that much richer.

We keep asking God for more.  In our maxed out little house we keep asking for more.  More opportunity to be seized, and for limitations to be weeded out.  More stretching, more growing, more bravery.

 If you come over, I'm kinda in this watermelon phase right now.  It's pretty much a staple.  The summer heat is hanging on and a watermelon out of the fridge is just so yummy.  I'll slap it down in front of you on my classy plastic pink platter, wave a cup of coffee your direction, and we'll have a chat.  Bring your kids, there is nothing sacred here but the conversation (as evidenced by Tessa feeling completely comfortable by plopping down on my table top).  But the conversation, the conversation could be oh so good.

I've learned that between the wailing babies, the toys being dragged up and down the hallway, and the snack crumbs, much is sacred and holy when you are willing to show your messy underbelly and dig in deep to a person. 

Have you flung your door open yet?  I promise the pay off is huge! 


  1. We need to get back to doing this again. Like you guys, we were really good at it, but after I went back to school and James was born our house is just messy all the time and I feel like no one will want to come over and sit in our filth. Surprisingly enough, people don't really care because their houses are the same. Now I just need to branch out and start over again. Thanks for posting :) And, I can't wait to see what you all do through the International Program!

  2. So good, Jenny. Thanks for the reminder that we need to move beyond comfortable as that is where the Lord does His work. I love that you are doing cards with your neighborhood ladies! I know our church body needs us to serve in our churches, but I want to be sure to leave margin to reach those outside of our church building as well. It's time to fling open my door!