It is easy to feel too busy, spread too thin, that you aren't the type of person who has people over.
You might not be.  I'm not the type. 
Yet a week doesn't go by when our home isn't filled with people.  One particular season when we felt like we could not fit another thing on the calendar, I off handedly mentioned to Jason who asked if we could have a family over to dinner that evening, "well, we have to eat..."
That has been the motto many a night since.
We do have to eat.  Every day and night we eat.  Our children eat.  Our friends eat.  Now we eat together.

It is not fancy.  It is chaotic and simple.  It is pasta, or pizza, or tacos, or hot dogs.  A summer of hot dogs.  Kids in the pool.  Men at the grill.  Friends that know where the ketchup and jalapenos are.  Kids that know where the juice boxes are.

It is sometimes paper plates and red cups.  A quick sweep through the house cramming everything into a laundry basket as the doorbell rings. Unfinished sentences between the protests of a passionate three year old.  It is baking a cake for someone who needs it. It is letting someone else bring food because they know we need it.  It is potty training and light saber fights.  It is time outs and children climbing into laps. It is crying about the food from our picky eater.  It is bath time and pajamas.  It is homework and Star Wars and laughter and noise.  It is complicated and simple and real and messy.

We have to eat, so we invite people to come eat with us.  We talk, and I mean really talk.  We dream, we ask questions, we learn.  Conversations that could never happen in passing, as we chase kids on the patio after church, at soccer games, at school pick up, in the aisles of Target.  Conversations that shape us and challenge us and encourage us.  Conversations that are life giving.

This season of gathering around the table, the couch, the kitchen island has been a sweet one.  For someone who craves quiet, it has filled my heart and soul in a way that I never knew I needed.  If left up to my own introvert ways, I would live in a cabin on the coast of Oregon.  Alone.  My family could visit me on weekends.  That however is not how God intended us to live.  He gives us each other and gently nudges us towards community.  The raw and complicated and joyful work of letting people into your real life, and hoping they will still like you.  The beautiful thing about it is, this little community we have built has been an anchor to us.  They pray for us, support us, make us laugh, let us cry, celebrate, mourn, and somehow still like us.

It doesn't have to be dinner either.  Have people over for pizookies after the kids go to bed.  Grab donuts on the way home from school drop off and invite a friend and their little ones over for a cup of coffee.  Host a small group.  Throw together a Monday night football potluck.  Start with a small invitation.  Let people in.

"The heart of hospitality is when people leave your home they should feel better about themselves, not better about you." —Shauna Niequist, "The Power of the Living Room"

So we will keep opening the door, letting people in, sharing our noisy, messy, beautiful life.
It is everything, and I cannot imagine it any other way.

{I love this message on hospitality from Shauna Niequist.  Listen to it and be encouraged.
Read Bread & Wine.  It is so good.
Visit The Common Table Community blog.  They get it right.
Then open up your door.  Dinner's at six.}

"This is what I want you to do: I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner’s at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter.

Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity, because there will be a day when it all falls apart.

These are things I can’t change. Not one of them. Can’t fix, can’t heal, can’t put the broken pieces back together. But what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for."
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  1. such a great post. thanks for the "push". i always forget how fun it is to have people over until they leave and i have a smile on my face.

  2. God has such an awesome sense of humor! The soul purpose of me visiting your blog today was to find a recipe for a gathering, instead I found a recipe for life and not just food! I just love your heart! If you're ever in our neighborhood, dinner's usually around 7 ;)

  3. Thank you so much for this. Despite our natural introverted tendencies, early in our marriage my husband and I felt that God gave us the gift and ministry of hospitality. I love to cook and entertain and we had people over often. Then, a few years ago when #3 came along (and then #4), things took a turn for the chaotic. My house is no longer spotless like I used to keep it and I've struggled to let go of my perfectionism. I can't put together Gourmet Magazine dinner parties any longer - we eat chili and spaghetti and taco salad around a too-small table. So, we've closed our door and we've missed that community. That quote from Shauna Nyquist stung. Such truth and conviction there! We've probably been missing out on the best kind of communion - the kind that happens when we're humble enough to let people into our less-than-perfect lives and home and expose our vulnerabilities. This message was so timely for me. Thank you again!

  4. this is so beautiful Julie. Love Shauna's words too. This is something I think so many of us want and need in our lives.

  5. thank you for the reminder and telling me it doesn't have to be fancy.