Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Room in the Inn

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 250: Today, I am grateful for lessons in hospitality."There is always make room in the inn". 

We lived only three miles out of town, but we lived up a very long lane. I never thought about the one lane roads being confusing or unwelcoming. If you met a car or truck coming from the other direction, you both moved over and shared half the road. No thought went into it. It was country road manners. 

You always waved at oncoming vehicles. Why? It's friendly. The chances of knowing someone in the other car were pretty good, and if you didn't know them, there was no reason to be rude an unfriendly. You might think I am exaggerating, but it is plain, simple country manners. 

There were no neighborly chats at mailboxes. No shared fences. Visitors arrived by car, truck and the occasional tractor. In rural life, things got hard at times. Neighbors worked together to weather any storm. 

Dad rarely consulted Mama before inviting someone to eat at our table. If they were in the yard at noon...or the end of the day...they were welcome to share the meal. Morning visitors were offered coffee and a baked good. All were welcome. There was always room at the table and in the inn. 

How many times did we watch her scramble to stretch a meal or add side dishes to insure the food was enough? There was always enough. April and I were extra hands to make it quick, light work. Such sweet memories of preparing food for an unexpected guest together. She didn't get mad or flustered by Dad's last minute invitations. No, she just got to the business of making sure the welcome was warm and the table held plenty. What a rich life lesson we were taught. 

Not living near any of our family for all of our married years, I quickly adopted "there is always room in the inn" as part of my closing in the annual Christmas letter. Friends are the family you choose, and they are always welcome, too. Over the years, some have taken us up on the invitation. I am thrilled that two of my friends have borrowed the line for their annual Christmas greetings. Hospitality matters. 

Last year was the first time I have not sent a Christmas photo and letter in close to 25 years. It was the year I had to let something go... for the sake of my sanity...  in a full season. It was the annual invite to "come visit" if you ever pass this way that I missed sending out. Hopefully, all know truly know us, know the welcomes still stands. 

"Room in the inn" says there is a welcome waiting. Because our God is one seeking a relationship with us, he stands at the door and knocks. 

 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the " door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

How we respond to that knock is what defines our destiny. 

"Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." -John 14:23

I am awed by how much Jesus lays out in this simple statement. He makes everything so clear. 
1. If you love me you keep my word (his directions, instructions and teachings).
2. How we receive Jesus determines to how the Father receives us. 
3. He has come. He will come. He is coming again.
4. He will make His home with us and we will make our home with Him. 
5. Keeping my word means: Love Me. Love your neighbors. All of your neighbors.

For us...pumpkin season is in full swing at Libby's/Nestle packing plant. Our annual Morton Pumpkin Festival is just around the corner. It is a time when hospitality in our little town is poured out full throttle. It is a chance to welcome friends and family from near and far for the apple cider slushies, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin chilli, pumpkin backed beans (my favorite) and so much more. 

This is a season of celebrating not just the harvest, but the relationships we build along the way. This image from "Single Dad Laughing" is perfect for our nearing Pumpkin Festival's 50th year. Forrest and Bubba... what a great example of friendship. 

Today, I am grateful for lessons in hospitality."There is always make room in the inn". 

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