As I peered into those New England homes on the first day of Spring, while snow blanketed the streets in Providence, all I could think was “maybe they’ll invite me in to stay.”
I was 18 years old, and at that point in my life I was broken, depressed and although I knew the love of Jesus, what I needed more than anything was the hands & feet of Jesus to love me.
My life situation was of such living with my older brother who self-medicated with alcohol on a regular basis, my father was in jail, and I transplanted myself to attend college far from my hometown. I felt more of the world’s hostility; and honestly, rarely found much hospitality.
In this world we need not walk far to encounter the blows of hostility. It’s abrasive malice punches us in the face, and kicks us in the gut on our way to the ground. Battered and beat down, it’s no wonder most of us don’t know how to respond when extended hospitality.
Hospitality is hostility’s antithesis.
Although our hearts long for true hospitality, we are entangled in a web of lies whispering to us our worth can only be found in hostility.
When I saw the warm light emanate through the windows of those homes in the Spring of 1998, I almost walked up to one of them to ask if I could live with them. I imagined a plate of chocolate chip cookies, comfy throw blankets within reach and a generous embrace from the residents inside awaiting me. I didn’t care if their table had leftover dinner on it, or dirty dishes lay in the sink. All I wanted was a welcome. All I wanted was to see how family did life. All I wanted was for a family to show me love, protection & predictability.
Years later, I met a boy who was all those things…showed me love, protection & predictability. He was a grace to me. And as we walked through a pre-engagement course the topic of covenant keeping came up, which led me home to my housemates that night in tears. “What if I turn into my parent’s marriage? I never got to see covenant making,” I cried. But, as my friend said, “You may not have received it yourself; but, you get the greater gift in being able to give it to your future family.”
What drives me more than anything is remembering that Kamille at age 18 and seeing her in the people I meet, and seeing her in my children.
I’m driven to create our home, our family dinner table into one of hospitality to mimic the great Host of all hosts, Jesus Christ who came first to invite us to His table. I’m driven to create our home in such a way; because, I know I’m called to love my family well by bringing the kingdom in the here but not yet.
One tangible way I do this is by making dinner almost every single night, in order for us to gather around (mess and all) and share our highs & lows of our day. We are by no means a quiet family, which makes for inviting others at our table a bit intimidating to me.
I worry like anyone else, “What if they see how misbehaved my kids are? What if they think I’m a bad parent who lacks discipline in disciplining her kids? What if the mess makes them disgusted?”
However, I have been humbled time and time again when inviting others into our “no centerpiece, stained cloth napkins, and verbose ruckus,” that the friends & strangers joining us are that 18 year old Kamille…
…simply wanting an invitation to be seen & loved amidst their own mess.
This became apparent one year in particular when we hosted two college age guys in our home. We provided lodging, food, and the best part was providing them a real look into how family works. One of the young men was rather awkward. An INTP to the core (think a Jesus loving Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory). He was an aspiring research scientist, lanky, conversationally wooden, and many times little facial expressions, in order for me to read him. He came to know Jesus in college, and was eager to know more about him.
Our family dinner times were exactly what one could imagine with a two and four-year old: constant interruptions throughout conversations, greasy hands & mouths from chicken drumsticks (how did I think serving that was a good idea), and stripping down to their underwear. I cringed inside thinking, “Oh bless this, how in the world am I going to show them hospitality when my life looks like a hot, sweaty mess?”
At the end of the week, we received a note from him and his friend. His words spoke such life and truth as to how the Father saw (and sees) my offerings of hospitality. He wrote, “Thank you for showing me such love. I never grew up in a family where we spoke much, or loved Jesus. I didn’t think it was possible for me to have a family other than the one I grew up in. Yet, your family, and the way you love and share life around Jesus has given me a glimpse of hope.”
You and I don’t need to have it all together. In a world where we are buoyed back and forth by the winds of hostility, let us offer our tables as sacrifices of hospitality to our families, friends and strangers. Friends, it’s in the practicing of hospitality where we not only get to offer real life; but, where we find it ourselves. We practice hospitality for the 18-year-old Kamille in all of us, the 10-year-old child who didn’t have any friends and finds himself lonely still at age 35. We do it because Jesus first loved us, in order for all humanity to know love.
As you practice hospitality (don’t you love how the verse says ‘practice,’ it means we will never have it nailed), allow me to offer up this tasty salad. One less thing to concern yourself with, and it’s pretty food allergy friendly. If you want to make it into a main dish, simply add shredded chicken or pork, that would make it taste wonderful!
- 1 head of kale, I used Lacinto
- 2-3 avocados
- 2 sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 ½ – 2 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ red onion
- apple cider vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- red chili pepper flakes
- salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Clean the sweet potatoes and cut ends off both sides. Peel them and then cut them into ½ inch cubes. Put cut sweet potatoes in a bowl and pour melted coconut oil & cumin seeds over them. Mix to coat them. Line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper, and place the sweet potatoes on it. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until soft.
- Take your red onion and thinly slice it. Place them in a glass jar and pour apple cider vinegar over them. Make sure they are completely covered. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, but you could let it sit for much longer. Cover and put it in the fridge to use some for this salad and another.
- Wash and cut the kale into bite size pieces. Remove the rib. Put into a large salad bowl. Drizzle olive oil (about 2-4 Tb) over the kale and a sprinkle of salt. Massage the oil into the kale greens, simply by using your hands to get the kale coated in the oil. Put fresh from the oven sweet potatoes on top of the kale. Add the avocados, cut into ½ in cubes. Add the pickled red onion. Sprinkle red chili pepper flakes and pepper.