I hope each of you is enjoying a WONDERFUL summer season!
It seems to be hot everywhere - even in Alaska and Europe. Places typically associated with the ability to take daily strolls along cool, lovely paths enjoying magnificent scenery. Not so this summer. I hear reports of people sweating all around the globe.
My constant refrain here in Florida these days is simple, "Hydrate, People! Hydrate!" Frank sees me coming and doesn't say hello; he simply announces how many ounces of water he's already consumed. I nod and go on to the next person. (That may be a bit of exaggeration but you get the idea.)
The heat may keep some people from traveling but we have friends coming in from all over the country next month. Not literally to our house but to Orlando. It's the year our denomination gathers and this time it's in our area. We've already started making plans in order to connect with as many people as possible.
That's what makes the Frank Hawley family happy. Connecting with other people. We've found there's just so much to learn and so many memories to rehearse and so many commonalities to discover and so much LAUGHTER to be shared. Why wouldn't you connect?
Frank and I sat down together earlier this year and had a serious conversation about connecting. We've always enjoyed hosting people. We know the best conversations happen among small groups. We enjoy helping others connect, too. So why not launch out on a bold adventure? We determined to invite each member of our church leadership team to lunch At our home. Before the end of fall.
Now for some, that may not sound bold at all. Let me clarify. We made a list and realized we have almost thirty couples who would need an invitation. That's a lot of chicken dinners, people!
Frank and I decided the smartest approach would be to invite them to Sunday lunch. Longer day for us but it gives us Saturday to clean and set up. We've developed a standard meal. Roast, potatoes and carrots in the crockpots. I also do bread and drinks; everyone else brings a side dish of their choice. Simple, I know but it's about the connecting, not impressing.
In fact, I had to eat a bit of humble pie with the group we hosted yesterday. You see, my dining room chairs have taken a bit of a hit recently. I even bought another six chairs from a friend who was downsizing. When two of those chairs lost a front leg suddenly, it left me short.
Our dining table easily accommodates eight. (An answered prayer from years ago.) But we didn't want to waste two spots just because we're waiting to get the extra chairs repaired. So, we brought in the metal folding chairs usually reserved for family gatherings.
When I put the finishing touches on the table settings Saturday evening, it was lovely. My blue and white dishes were accented on a yellow table cloth and highlighted by navy napkins. Each serving dish had a proper utensil and a slip of paper telling what it would hold on Sunday. The house was clean and a lovely hand towel waited beside the sink in the guest bathroom.
But the seating looked hodgepodge at best. In fact, Frank was a little concerned and offered a couple of options that would have involved mammoth effort or money we hadn't budgeted. I waved it off by saying, "They'll only be aware of the chairs for a few minutes; we'll be sitting in them pretty quickly. It may even make a couple of them feel more comfortable."
And that's exactly what happened. They all arrived right on time. Everyone started talking. We put the food on the table. We blessed it. Everyone took a seat and voila, the chairs disappeared . . . completely.
Now, I must be honest and admit that I had a faltering moment Sunday morning as I scanned the table one last time before leaving. The thoughts came quickly, "This isn't as nice as I'd like it." "What if they laugh at my jumbled mixture of chairs?" "What if someone tells a friend how pitiful my chairs looked?" (I'm just like every other woman on the planet. I want people to think well of my home.)
At that moment, I had to take my thoughts in hand and rehearse the REASON for the lunch. "It's all about Connecting; plain and simple. Where we sit has nothing to do with how we'll interact."
Armed with that reminder, I marched off to church confident the day would be good. And you know what, it was. Each couple had a wonderful time. There were new friendships formed and we had a sweet time praying together at the end for our church to continue connecting and moving forward together.
During the six years we lived in Ocean Isle Beach, NC, our home was full of company during each summer season, especially. One family would leave just as another was arriving. We lovingly referred to our home then as "Hawley Day Inn - Where Everyone is Welcome." Maybe we're reclaiming that title.
The main reason I wrote this post today was to offer a nudge. Many of you also enjoy connecting with people but you have NEVER considered inviting others to your home because it doesn't look like a magazine. Pish Posh! (Great term I learned while visiting England.) Invite them anyway.
Don't be robbed of a wonderful experience just because your home isn't perfect. They're coming to see YOU, not your carpet. My dear friend (and co-grandparent) Linda, waited a long time to renovate her kitchen. When Joy and John went home last Christmas the new kitchen was stunning and everyone celebrated.
But we knew Linda had never slowed her steady stream of guests while waiting for the reno to get underway. Scores of people continued to find comfort, companionship and acceptance while sitting around her table. (I know, because I got to experience it too. She and John are great hosts.)
If you aren't up for a full meal, invite some friends over for dessert and coffee. Use paper plates. Encourage them to bring their favorite creamer to share. Do s'mores around a fire pit outside and have everyone bring their own chair.
Bottom line is this, if you've always thought you'd like to branch out and have someone over - do it! Call today and set it up before the end of summer.
I have it on good authority, you'll be glad you did. Blessings for all your summer adventures.
What would be the fun name of your home if company came frequently? What memories do you have of visiting a friend whose home looked loved and lived-in rather than perfect? We'd all enjoy if you share in the comment section.