Hospitality and Messyness

I think I can say that the honeymoon period of the Jubilee Food Pantry has officially ended.  Recently we have entered into a season of walking our faith out in the daily routine and sometimes monotony of life and finding an intense need to be relying on his Holy Spirit for joy, peace, and contentment.  Like many of you, Andy and I enjoy challenge, drama, and excitement, but there are seasons of life that are in, some perspectives, uneventful.  But I am seeing that this is where the challenge really is.  The challenge to find/see Him in the daily walk of life.  Every moment presents an opportunity.

And so, as we have prayed into this, He has given us a new perspective and a refreshing challenge to meditate on and teach our children.

Every Tuesday we have an unusual opportunity to teach our children the gift of Hospitality.  Our kids often struggle as other children, that they do not know well, come in and make a mess of our home.  Just a couple weeks ago our family decided to keep bedroom doors closed on Tuesdays because of the frustrations that came during and after food pantry hours.  The kids’ bedrooms were hit by a tornado of toys and made for cleaning up long, arduous and complainy.  After many kind attempts of asking the guests to help clean up, we decided that keeping the mess to one area was necessary for our family.

This was a good decision, however, here is the struggle; there is still a mess to clean up.

And the beautiful and challenging Opportunity reveals itself.  What is hospitality?  Why do we invite strangers into our home?  Who do we keep letting them mess up our home?  How are we going to continue this path every Tuesday and not become bitter, disillusioned, and ultimately invite a religious spirit to lead the ministry?

As parents, we are in the limelight.  In the heat of the moment, our children are watching.  When I clean the bathroom after Tuesday night and I am grumbling about the trails of stickyness that have gooped up the walls and doors of our home, my children will understand that attitude is okay.  They imitate.  When I look at the carpets and flop down all frumpy and grouchy while I scrub stains out, my children see my example and imitate.  So, what do I expect when their rooms are destroyed every Tuesday?  Hmmm…

We have an incredible Opportunity to take joy in cleaning the messes up.  The kids and I have been memorizing this verse:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.  2 Peter 1:3

Applying this to our family, God has given us everything we need for inviting the stranger into our home, serving and loving them.  Our children have been taught that everything means His Holy Spirit, or in Eva’s words, “all of God”.  Everything means power, love, joy, and the perspective to thank Him for the messes that we continually clean up.  Forgiveness.  In a sense we are forgiving over and over again, imitating Jesus.  He served and he loved over and over again until death on the cross.  And then, by His divine power, He gave us all of Him to do the same.

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  Hebrews 13:2

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  1 Peter 4:9

We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.  3 John 1:8

Teaching ideals can be taught by anyone, but teaching by example is the most faith sharpening and Gospel revealing parts of Christianity.  We do not know what hospitality truly is until we get to a place where we wonder why we are doing it.  Suddenly it becomes an opportunity rather than a constant mess to clean up.  I realize that by inviting the mess and acknowledging the exhaustion of cleaning up, I can then acknowledge and receive the only Power that can clean without growing tired.  He then, heals and cleans up me a bit more on the inside.

So, our family has decided to verbally speak out the Truth in these opportunities by saying, “Thank you, Jesus, for another chance to clean up someone’s mess.  You have given me everything I need to have joy while I clean.  Thank you for cleaning up my mess.”

Please pray for our family as we work out our faith.



10 Responses

  1. I’m on it sister. Lately, my verbal reminder around the house with lessened energy (and without extra bodies on Tuesday nights) has been…thank You Lord for this mess that reveals that life and love were lived here!

    • Hey Krystal,
      I enjoyed your comment to Serenity. YES, thank you Lord for this mess that reveals that LIFE and LOVE live here!
      Sally Raquet

  2. Dear Serenity, I have so enjoyed your story of Hospitality and Messyness. When you shared, “Like many of you, Andy and I enjoy challenge, drama, and excitement, but there are seasons of life that are in, some perspectives, uneventful.” I think of these times as “Ordinary Times.” I really appreciate the ordinary times because they gave me an opportunity to focus on the Triune God.” The Father, Son, and especially, at this time in my life, the Holy Spirit. He has made me aware that He is walking so close behind me there is no space for anything to slip in-between us. I share with people that the Holy Spirit is the driving force in my life. He has done some really incredible things using me as his tool. I try to be aware, available, and ready to take care of whatever he needs me to do. I will continue to walk in the Holy Spirit’s light for as long as he wants me there. May the Holy Spirit fill you will his loving assurance. May whatever is asked of you be provided for by Him. Thank you Jesus and God Bless you!
    Sally Raquet

  3. Hey Serenity. I shared “Hospitality and Messyness” with my daughter and she suggested that maybe what you need is a small additional to the garage that could be turned into a bathroom with a small shower, sink and commode. She said maybe you could get people, like Fred Myers, to donate towels, wash clothes, soap, personal hygiene supplies, and laundry soap to help keep the messy out of your house. I told her I would share her idea with you. God Bless you and your family for the things you do and share with the Hubbard community.

    • Hey Sally,
      Thank you for your comments and kind words. And thank you for passing it on!

      I apologize if this post communicated a desire to remove the mess. In a sense, yes, temporarily moving the mess would be convenient. However, our true desire, that God has given us, is to welcome the mess into our lives. This seems crazy and exhausting at times, but if we truly believe He has given us everything we need to live a godly life, we will know the Hope and the purpose for our family.

      In this post I wanted to honestly communicate the struggle. We would be cheating ourselves if we did not admit the mess, the frustrations and our sin. And we would be cheating God if we did not come to His feet everyday, laying our frustrations and annoyances down, and acknowledging the Power He has given us to live in freedom and love.
      So, no matter where we move the mess, it will still be there to clean up. The question is; Are we going to clean and smile through clenched teeth or are we going to thank Him for an opportunity to imitate Him, using His Power? I have found Joy in these tearful and sometimes painful moments.

      Again, thank you Sally for continuing to follow and journey with us.

  4. Serenity, Bless you and your family for your kindness in the food pantry and opening your home. I am sure the mess must be overwhelming at times and I will be praying for less messiness and your peace and strength during clean up time. You are an amazying family. God Bless! Jane and Ernie Conrad
    CBC in Central Point

  5. Oh man, definitely needed to read this today. It’s really challenging to realize that my kids learned most of their whiny, sarcastic ways by watching me. But it’s also really encouraging to know that they can learn new ways by watching me as I struggle openly to change my behavior.

    And, of course, I relate to the struggle with hospitality. The guests aren’t always in my own house, but just today we had a huge number of last-minute visitors, and I got the chance to be grateful that we can offer people peace and hope at the drop of a hat. Will be praying for you all!

  6. Your Blog is an inspiration Serenity! Just this morning, I wondered if my trips downtown and $ spent to help Allen and the PRM are worth it. I made the choice that yes it is and went again. And, oh by the way, when I drove by your house the other Tuesday, I meant to tell you that I thought that i saw some angel wings on a couple of people that were going into your house! Peace, Dad

  7. Serenity, I love your blog. You write so well and your thoughts and insight are so real. Good reminders in this one.
    I love that I have a little bit of a glimpse of your life and how God is using you and your fam immensely.

    • Thanks Ang, It’s amazing what God has done in 15 years, huh? So thankful for the ability to stay in touch with you.

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