Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Dishes and Me

by Crista


Last Sunday we had a gorgeous afternoon here in the Willamette Valley. The sun was shining and the air temperature was warm enough to invite many in our area to fling open those windows and let breeze have its way. Dave and I had no plans immediately following church services and we had a well-stocked fridge from our shopping trip the day before. What a perfect day to enjoy guests in our home!

Unfortunately, we did not invite anyone to our apartment. Why? Because the kitchen was a mess, our couches were covered in cat hair (our darling Annabelle is shedding ridiculous amounts of her winter coat), and our bathroom counter and floor were in desperate need of a scrub. Sadly, my lack of attention to our little home -- due, in part, to a very full schedule as a teacher -- hindered us from offering hospitality to others. After school on Friday evening, I had looked at our apartment's state of disarray and thought to myself, "Gosh, something really needs to be done about this mess! Ehh...it can wait until tomorrow." Then on Saturday we got busy doing "stuff" around the house and grocery shopping, yet failed again to do the necessary cleaning to bring our little nest back into a state of cleanliness. So here comes Sunday...a rare Sunday when Dave and I are not busy after church and can afford to spend some time in fellowship with others, but our apartment is in no fit state to welcome others in. It was a bummer of an afternoon for me.

While I was reflecting on all of this Sunday afternoon, a verse from one of Paul's letters to Timothy popped into my head:

"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Timothy 4:1-2, NASB, emphasis mine)

The words "in season and out" are what chirped in my ear all afternoon long. Dave and I were not ready to bless others with hospitality that afternoon because we had not kept our home prepared. If I (we) had been more diligent about our dishes, picking up after ourselves after each meal, instead of waiting until the pile of dishes rivaled Three-Fingered-Jack for altitude, we would have been prepared "in season and out" to welcome others into our home. Instead we kept to ourselves all afternoon and missed out on the joys of fellowship!

I share this with you, dear friends, in hopes that it will encourage you to be more diligent in tackling the obstacles that are keeping you from offering hospitality and blessings to others. Some obstacles are out of our control. I'm not talking about those. Here I'm talking about bad habits that can be changed...like my lack of attention to the dishes.

Since last weekend, Dave and I have been working together very hard to make sure we go to bed with a clean kitchen. Our living room, too, we are trying to keep picked up (although the cat hair continues to be the bane of our couches' existence). Never again do I want to be kept from being ready for others because of my own negligence. It's disheartening, to say the least. I want to be ready to preach the gospel, offer grace, and bestow comfort and encouragement whenever possible.

What about you? What's hindering you from being ready "in season and out" to welcome someone into your home or in any other way be hospitable? What will you do to beat this obstacle? It's never easy to face our weaknesses, but it is SUCH a relief to conquer them, isn't it?

Would you be willing to share with others what keeps you from being ready? Maybe someone shares your weakness and would be relieved to know that they're not the only one! Maybe we can even encourage each other! Let us do as the author of Hebrews encourages us: "...let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

Whatever hinders you from expressing the gifts God has given you for blessing others, I encourage you to take them to Him and seek His guidance and help to grow through them into a more eager and ready vessel of His grace...for you and for others. I believe He is honored when we confess our bad habits to Him and allow Him to change our hearts as we diligently act on repentance with changed attitudes and behaviors.

9 comments:

  1. I don't mind dishes in the sink...but my island is typically a wreck. That's when I might not invite the neighbor in.

    Thank you for the verse. I think I need to go prepare my kitchen so I can be ready in and out of season.

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  2. I'm awful at this. I always kick myself for not having done a little better job of picking up after myself and my family throughout the day. It doesn't normally bother me (so I don't do anything about it), then I cringe when the doorbell rings!

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  3. Hi Robyn! I totally hear ya :) It's so easy to slip into the, "Oh, I'll get to it eventually" pattern. Thanks for sharing :)

    Annette: I totally understand what you're saying about the island! That's always been a problem in my family, too! Our breakfast counter would get covered with stacks of mail, newspapers, and junk! My parents built a new house several years back and actually had a closet built into their kitchen where they put a desk. This is their "mail room." Instead of the island getting all cluttered, they just shove it all in the mail closet and "deal with it later." Hee hee :)

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  4. Our kitchen is literally the heart of our home, smack dab in the middle, a straight shot visually from the front door. Therefore my major hindrances would be dishes (the dirty kind) and the clutter that seems to congregate on every horizontal surface!

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  5. Thank you for this post. Having two young children, I sometimes hesitate to invite others over because meals can be kind of chaotic at our house.

    But of course meals are not the only means of hosting, so we often have people over in the evening for dessert, and I also host regular morning playdates.

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  6. I have to say, personally, I've been surprised how many people love sharing my baby! I never knew sharing my baby could be hospitality!

    Our church, and many of our non churched friends, are mostly without children (whether single or married). We all know how much fun it can be to borrow children: you get to play with them for a short time while they're clean and fun, then give them back to their parents when they're tired and dirty.

    Of course, having a baby means my house (and me!) is often "tired and dirty"... but it seems like people don't notice because they're too busy playing with my baby. (or maybe they're all just too polite to say anything! haha!)

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  7. Oh, and I totally confess to cleaning in front of people. NOT MUCH.... but a little. One swoop of the arm gets all the toys off the couch and into the basket where they belong. Another swoop folds a blanket and nicely drapes it over a chair. And then can sit in peace with company over a pot of tea (and just ignore the rest of the mess). After all, my friends already know I'm not perfect, even if I would like to think I am... They'll overlook dirty dishes, a messy desk, and a pile of shoes in the front hall, just to enjoy my company and the tea.

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  8. I'm in your boat many times. Sunday afternoon isn't always best for us to entertain because typically my pastor-husband has to finish preparations for his evening sermon, and we both like to catch a few winks of sleep. However, there are many times when we could have had someone over but the house was not up to par. Point well made, and hopefully well taken by me! At the same time, there are weeks that are rougher schedule-wise, and I have to extend myself a bit of grace in the housekeeping area. I guess like anything else, balance is the key. Another thing that has helped me is Emily Barnes' "Fifteen Minute Organizer." If I determine to spend a mere fifteen minutes a day on an extra house organization project, it doesn't seem so overwhelming. I usually end up on a roll, and happily spend an hour or more. Then when I do give myself a day off, I can do it without guilt.

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  9. Dayna: Thanks for the tip on "Fifteen Minute Organizer." I haven't used this idea myself, but I have heard from several friends and family members who have and have been very successful! Thanks for sharking your thoughts!

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