Friday, May 5, 2017

Open Heart Open Home

Several years ago I read a book by that title and the title has always stuck with me. Partly because I was taught to make that the goal of my life....

Some of my earliest memories of growing up are the many visitors my parents welcomed to our home. From family, to church friends and missionaries those sharing a meal or staying a while, ran the gamut. Some of my fondest and fun filled memories were created around the dining table, stretched to its limits, filled with a home cooked meal and ending with one of Mom's "made from scratch" deserts. Oh, the stories, tears and laughter that were shared over those meals!
Our home was never the fanciest but the love, warm welcome and smell of food in the oven overshadowed any dust and "clutter" those who entered might have seen. Living in a busy house, Momma always said, "If you wait for things to be perfect you will never have someone in!" :) I have reminded myself of that often in the 50 years I have had my own home to share.

When Jim and I began our lifetime adventure it immediately became apparent that we would carry on the example my parents had set. Jim was in college and although our budget was MINIMUM there was always enough for a few more. 
Oh, the memories we made as I learned to make a pound of hamburger stretch to four meals :) Homemade rolls assured no one left hungry!
As time went on, and our family grew, the door swung open even wider and our home became the base for gatherings of neighborhood kids and the 'safe spot' for many who needed it. 

There was the homeless traveler who Jim brought home. He set with us for a meal, took a shower, told stories, and sang Spanish melodies by the fire. He left the next morning with clean clothes, a full stomach and a 'lunch to go.' He left behind a family with grateful hearts. Four young kids warned of the dangers in the world, and a prayer for "Henry" and his safety on our lips.

Or the 16 year old who lived with us until she felt safe again at home.

The teens who lived with us through the summer, 'working in the mill' to pay for school the following year. The family who needed a home away from home so they could care for a sick parent...and the list goes on. 

In the past few years since Jim retired and we have found the joy of Motor Home travels we have added guests  we have met whose homes were far from ours. "Stop by if you are ever in MT." 
Last Summer we had a chance encounter with a couple from Delaware. They were camped at the local Walmart and were missing their family far away. They joined us for a family Bar-B-Que where hugs were abundant.  What a joyful day it turned out to be for all. With the assistance of email we have kept in touch through out the year and next week we will travel to Delaware to enjoy a gift of love returned. 

There is not a need for gourmet food, a fancy house, or a table set with fine linen. Hot dogs, and paper plates will do just fine.  Spontaneous is sometimes the most fun!

It is the hug at the door, the welcoming smile; a meal seasoned with love and shared with joy that creates a refuge for a weary soul. 

Open your heart, swing wide the door of your home and bask in the joy of sharing!