{Southern Gal Hostess of the Year? Not so much.}

A few weeks ago, it was my Dad’s birthday. (Happy Birthday, Dad!) We decided to have an impromptu gathering to celebrate — at our house. I, being the southern belle that I am, had suggested a nice dinner out. After all, the house was a mess, the fridge was empty, and I was tired. Very tired. But, no. Dinner out wasn’t going to do. There had to be a celebration. For my dad. With other people. And I would host.

So, we came home from Sunday lunch and had a few hours to prep for the party. Any southern gal worth her weight in butter can prep for a party on short notice, right? Um, no. I came home and took a nap. Yes. Fell asleep. In my favorite spot. With my favorite pillow. Don’t judge me!

After my Sunday afternoon nap, the house was still a mess, the fridge still empty, and people were still coming over in an hour. On the way to grocery store, I whined and complained at my lack of preparation. I moaned that I know better than this. Why couldn’t we just take everyone out for pizza? My awesome, superstar, worth-his-weight-in-gold hubby assured me it would be fine. He has a beautiful gift of calm. We scurried through the store like a couple of crazy people. We still had 30 minutes to spare. Then, we realized we forgot the cake. Did I mention we were halfway home at that point? Yikes.

When we pulled in the driveway, we were late. (Now, you can judge me.) Our guests were already there. And so, I did what any other respectable southern gal hostess type would do. I put them to work. What. In. The. World. It’s shameful, I know. Pizza really would have been better. I promise the next gathering at my house will be better. I do have it in me.

Here’s the thing: While I may not have scored high marks this time on the “Southern Gal Hostess of the Year” chart, I still had an opportunity that evening to practice hospitality.  It didn’t necessarily look the way I wanted it to look — ok, who am I kidding, It looked nothing like I wanted it to — but, even still, I was being hospitable. See, I’m learning that hospitality is about a heart that says “You are important to me.”  I opened my door wide and invited these folks into my mess because they are important. I opened my door wide and made a place here where it was perfectly acceptable to be a hot mess! Because, hello, did you notice? Hot. Mess. Right here.

Opportunities for hospitality will sometimes interrupt our daily routines with no regard for our empty fridge or our mess. But, it’s ok. It really is. I’m learning that there’s more to it than a perfectly executed five-course dinner or beautifully executed party. It’s about leaning in with a tender heart towards the people that God has put in my path. I can be hospitable when I greet the clerk at the grocery store. I can be hospitable when I greet my neighbor with a smile. I can welcome people into our home despite the mess. Why? Because people are important. Hospitality says I see you and you matter. That, my friends, is the kind of southern gal I want to be. One who is worth her weight in butter because hospitality isn’t just something she does, it’s who she is. Kind. Gracious. Warm. Tenderhearted. One who loves others well. That’s what we’re meant to do, isn’t it? Love people. Hospitality starts there. 

To My Little (not-so-little anymore) Brother…

Yesterday was little brother’s birthday.

Sometimes I forget that we are grown-ups and not little kids running around in the yard or playing basketball in the church parking lot. Time flies.

I am sure I would have never earned the “Big Sister of the Year” award. I was most likely being bossy or sassy. On a good day, I was probably making you play some kind of game that you didn’t really want to play or curling your hair and dressing you up like a life-sized barbie doll. And, I laughed when dad plugged up the vacuum and gave you a bad haircut with the flowbe. (You have to admit, it was funny!) It’s a wonder you survived. You were a good little brother. And I know you thought I was cool – even if you won’t admit it in a million years. You still think I’m cool, right?

I joke about how I taught you everything you know and how you got all your coolness and wit from growing up with me. The truth is – I think you really are awesome.

You. Are. Awesome.

I am so glad that God picked me to your big sister. I’m so glad that we grew up to be friends. Sometimes, I wish you lived right around the corner so we could take our fabulous spouses and go on a double date. Or, we could get together and make music, just for fun. I wish my kids could spend more time with you and Auntie T. They would be crazy about you. Even more than they already are. But, it’s ok. Why? Because God is using you right where you are to do great things.

I love watching you do and be what God has intended for you to do and be. I admire your courage and your patient endurance. I admire your obedience.
I love watching you lead worship. Above all, I admire your love for Jesus. You are a beautiful picture of God’s grace – a masterpiece, a treasure.

We are celebrating you from across the miles. We are thankful for you. We love you. Happy birthday!