7/11/07

When Shoulders Melt

We expect life-changes around our dinner table, because early in our marriage Paul and I put into place this mission statement: Feed people, lead people (see Commandment #10).

We took these words to heart, as a young couple, and with God’s help and love we decided to open our home for meals, making people feel welcomed and wanted. We determined to offer laughter and encouragement around our dining and patio tables. We learned to be curious with one another, to join in our guests’ journeys, by asking them about their lives and by forging a willingness to feel their grief.

How, you may ask, do we do this when we have done such little entertaining ourselves? And conversation does not come easily to us, or we’re afraid to say too much or offend our guests.

It starts with caring about people. Paul and I learned to show a genuine interest in the lives of our friends. It starts as soon as our guests walk through the door. We create a relaxing, inviting environment, which means we need to be relaxed ourselves! We make good eye contact when talking to our guests, and for a few hours we want to help them put their worries aside, relieving them of their burdens. It also helps to “set the mood” by simple ways of planning ahead what music you want in the background, or if you want candles on the table, etc. (See Commandment #3).

We can’t forget that evening where a young couple was going through a rough patch in marriage, and life in general. During the meal we saw them both relaxing together and call a much-belated truce. But it wasn’t until we cleared the dinner dishes in preparation for dessert that we saw the great breakthrough take place. We left them alone in our backyard, and through the window we saw him put his arm around her and we saw her melt into his arm. They held hands. They laughed a much-needed laugh. She laughed so hard she cried tears of joy. They left our home that summer night far happier, and more relaxed and optimistic than when they arrived.

In our small but significant way, Paul and I literally helped put their marriage back together. Redemption sometimes means warming what has gone cold or numbed.

The people who impact our lives shape our lives for years to come. Many intimate conversations have taken place around our tables, indoor and out, as we savor each other’s words of wisdom and cultivate deeper friendships.
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The staff at Bethany House are so generous and hospitable. Here we are at dinner last night in "Hotlanta," eating delicious desserts!

14 comments:

Nadine said...

Sandy - This post blessed me. It reminded me how much opening our home, giving some food and love can be healing to those in our lives. What a great example of extending God's love that led to healing.

Melissa R. Garrett said...

Seriously Sandy, I wish we knew each other in person :-)

You are such a wonderful inspiration!

ellen b said...

May God continue to bless you with the wonderful ministry you have around your table!

Elizabeth said...

What an inspirational story! Thanks, Sandy!

Jami said...

Oh, Sandy, I just love your heart!!! Whether I'm ready or not I must come and jog/crawl behind you some morning!

Peach said...

So glad to see you enjoying yourselves in "Hotlanta" -- though it really wasn't all that hot these past few days of your visit. You were spared!

May God grant you safe travel and fond memories to take home with you. Praying for you and those seated around your table with you, dear Sandy.

Cherdecor said...

I am SOOOOOOOOO thankful I found your blog. I want to read more about how you open your house to visitors. Now that our children are grown and I have survived cancer, we have more time to open our home to others. I will certainly be reading your archives soon. Thank you for such an inspiring blog!

Belle-ah said...

You are leading by example and I am enjoying it so much!

RealEstateGirl said...

this post made me all teary! What a wonderful thing the two of you do. I really need to get on the ball and "meet" my neighbors. You are such an inspiration!

Tammy said...

This post completely blessed me. I so want to be a more relaxed and giving hostess...and knowing how much we can bless others by these simple acts is inspiring!

GiBee said...

Oh, Sandy -- what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. It just confirms in my heart that we really do have so much in common -- entertaining, caring, encouraging, and a love for people... I agree with Melissa ... I wish we knew each other in person too!

linda t said...

I absolutely loved this post Sandy! (as I do ALL of them) But this one really touched my heart. What a precious story. I so agree, as I know when someone cooks for me, provides that safe place, I feel so loved and able to relax and receive love. I love to "set the table" for others to feel that love and warmth also.
I have always said, feed me and I feel loved!!

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

I agree with everyone else - what a wonderful thing you are doing by opening your home and your hearts to others...and you have a great way of telling the story.

So, where did you eat in "Hotlanta"?

Tonia said...

Sandy,

You visited my old blog months ago when I was not blogging much and left such nice comments. I am so glad I remembered (fellow Oregonian - that was the trick!) to follow you back here now and find out a little more of what you are doing.

I enjoyed reading through several of your posts. You are quite inspiring and encouraging. :)

Bless you!

Tonia