First off I LOVE all of Shauna's books. Cold Tangerines was the first I read and I devoured it. Her style of writing is realatable, honest, and you can just feel the genuineness in each page. Cold Tangerines is fun and bright, simple and real. Then her next Bittersweet was a really beautiful read. She shared her stories of miscarriage and pain, healing, and redemption. And her recent book "Bread and Wine" is my go to cozy book. I usually read it with a cup of tea in hand. Bookmarking, highlighting, and like I said I felt so spoiled that I got to read it before it came out. At the end of almost every chapter there is a favorite recipe of Shauna's. The recipes vary from bacon wrapped dates (probably my fav) to gluten free breakfast cookies, to white bean chili (perfect for a bible study group) then to a simple blueberry crisp recipe that I have now made 5 times and counting. In the past year I have gotten so into cooking and I feel like this book was two of my most favorite things to do when I get some down time: read and cook.
What I really loved about this book was the love described for community. Not in a church building, or at some retreat in the woods, but community and fellowship in the home. In every room really but mostly around your table, filling your faces and stomach with food and your heart with love and acceptance.
I went through this sort of "burnt out" stage after I became a stay at home mom and stepped out of my full time job in ministry. Don't get me wrong, I loved every bit, every second of my job with Younglife. I loved the kids, I loved the families, I loved the work. However when I stepped out of that and into motherhood I realized how tired I had gotten, not from my newborn but from company. From every room of my house being filled with teenagers, picking up crumbs, wiping down sinks, picking up after everyone who entered. I began to realize how much I liked my home in order, clean, and still. I began to really appreciate the fact that those vacuum lines had lasted all week. It would be safe to say that the first year of our son's life our house was pretty vacant aside from family and the occasional baby visits. And it is fair because we were first time parents learning the insides and outsides....quite literally speaking....of parenthood. So it was good to just have that time with our little family. No entertaining, no hosting, just us. But what isn't so good about this is that I didn't get back to work after my vacation, so to speak. I didn't think about having people over and if I did think about it I would just look at my nice clean peaceful house and think "No." And I think to myself how many times has this way of thinking transferred over to my view of relationships? Because let's face it, it's easy and easier to have "just fun" friends, right? The friends that you just laugh with, joke with, celebrate with, but these friends we don't confess to, shed tears with, get deep with. It's too much effort and we've worked too hard to tidy up ourselves just for intimacy to mess it up, ruin the clean streak, and walk over the vacuum lines. It's another thing to trust in people, surrender a bit of ourselves, and pour in and out. I don't want to be this person. I don't want anything about the way I've lived my life in love to be safe. I don't want to keep people at bay so I can stay warm and cozy instead of vulnerable.
So I took a step.
Josh & I and a couple of close friends have a bible study Tuesday nights that is always over at the Denton's house. Every Tuesday. I'll over to cook and bring plates, but I never would of thought to invite them all over to hold it at my house. My house is too small, my table seats 4, etc etc excuse excuse. But this past Tuesday, I did it. I hosted. My 980 sq ft little home in all it's glory opened it's doors to 8 couples and 7 small children. And.....it wasn't that bad at all. It was chaotic. My dog's chew toys were found in my son's toy box. People were standing and eating because there weren't enough chairs, but here's the thing NO ONE CARED! People were filling their faces and stomach with food I made, and filling their hearts with good conversation and no one even noticed I didn't mop. It's like when you are having a bad hair day and you think everyone knows but then when you nonchalantly throw it into your sentence as a lightheadrted disclaimer the other person says "I didn't even notice". It's like a unnessicary anxious worked up ball that just needs to be tossed far far away.
Coming back to the story.... by the end of the night the sink was full but so were hearts. And it was exhausting. But it was a good exhausted. And I loved it. It makes me want to dive deep, taste life slowly, and exist in the moment I am in. I think that is the way Jesus intended us to live. It is for freedom He set us free. And I don't want to take that amazing, important, sacrificial freedom for granted. Not anymore that I already have.
So here is to getting your "house" messy with people. Here is to growing deeper with people, letting the fun part of your friendship exist but also letting it FLOURISH with confession and prayer. Here is to letting people stand while eating, and letting your sink be full of work for the next morning. Here is to effort and intentional time with people you love.
Let's conquer the mess together!
(If you are interested in purchasing & reading "Bread & Wine" for yourself you can purchase it HERE. I hope, but kind of know you will be blessed by it as much as I was!)
Until next time,