acceptance

The Cookie Tin

 

Every week my mom made a tin of chocolate chip cookies. The tin was kept in a cabinet by the stove, middle shelf.  It never changed.  She always used to say it had to last through the week.  It rarely did because the cookies came out when friends came over.

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The cookies were always a hit.  I’m not sure if it was because they tasted so good or if it was because it was part of the experience coming to the Perez home.  Everyone knew where the cookie tin was.  Everyone was welcome to grab a cookie. Mom had a way of making sure they knew that.  But that was part of her charm.

My friends loved coming to my house because of my mom.  She was (and still is) this warm, inviting and attentive presence.  Never intrusive, demanding or loud, just always there with a smile, hug and kind conversation.  The cookie tin was evidence of the hospitality in her heart.

Hospitality is the art of welcoming others.

People are drawn to hospitality.

Hospitality says you belong. 

It puts people at ease and allows their guard to come down. There is a feeling of acceptance when hospitality is extended. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t need to feel this way.

It’s not always something that comes easily. If we don’t feel welcomed or a sense of belonging in our own world it feels difficult to offer it to someone else. But that’s where we get things backwards.  We recoil when what we need most is to move towards. Hospitality multiplies a sense of belonging and love in us when we give it to others.  Our tank fills up when we lean into hospitality. Just because we haven’t received it does NOT disable us from giving it. It does not take much to let someone else know you welcome and invite their presence with you. To show that you are aware of others around you and are interested.  To notice and acknowledge another is one of the greatest expressions of kindness. This is one of the best ways to be a human.

This cookie tin memory has me thinking about the ways I welcome others in my life. The ways that I can be hospitable.  I may not have a tin of cookies to offer. But ..

  • I can offer a warm smile or the gift of attention.
  • I can be diligent in keeping my house as presentable as possible so that it’s inviting, ready and unencumbered when unexpected friends come.
  • I can engage with others. Learning the art of asking questions to so I can better see into their world.
  • I can make a bedroom comfortable and pleasant when a someone stays the night.
  • I can choose to not be on my phone in a store so that I’m giving attention to the strangers around me as I shop. For even the stranger needs to be noticed and acknowledged.
  • I can stop what I’m doing and look my husband in the eye as we reconnect at the end of the day.
  • I can give faithful greetings to those whom I see every day and show interest in their life.
  • I can invite others to my home for a meal. Just because being together matters.

Hospitality is a gift that is opens us up beautifully.

It’s easier sometimes to avoid contact with others but hospitality reminds us that it is much better to belong than it is to be alone. We can all use a little more hospitality, don’t you think?

What is your tin of cookies?

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When Things Change

Fall Trees

It’s Autumn.  Things are changing.

They always do.

  • What do you do when things change and you don’t?
  • What do you do when things change and you aren’t prepared?
  • What do you do when things change?

A few weeks ago my mom’s oldest friend suddenly passed away.  It was (and still is) a big shock to her family and friends.  “Auntie Le” was always present.  She went to absolutely everything she was invited to. She knew all the names of her friends children and grandchildren, along with their birthdays.  She had never let go of the lost art of sending Christmas cards and conversation.

She simply was a fixture that had never moved.

But things change.

Unexpected or unwanted change can be hard.  It’s easy to lose your way in a sea of uncertainty.  It’s natural that a loss of courage settles in our bones and fear begins to reside.  We begin to cling to anything we can control. We stop natural rhythms of life to halt time in its tracks as if we would not allow anything to change again. Ever.

But that only keeps us in denial.

Denial keeps us from life.

I do not have easy answers to these questions.  I like change, the kind I can supervise and orchestrate but I do not like the unforeseen change or the change thrust upon me without permission.

I only hope that I may learn the lessons these Autumn leaves teach me. Change comes, like it or not. Sometimes there is a death-of sorts, that I must face.  It could be a letting go of my thoughts or plans, it could be having to wait for something important, or relinquishing control of something, it could be saying good-bye.

I hope in the trial of my turning I become like a fiery Autumn leaf that reflects the color of grace, beauty, endurance, integrity, and strength mixed with vulnerability. I pray that I will have the wisdom to trust in the promise that change does not have the final word. I want to feel the weight of faith in the Author of life firmly rooted in my soul.

When something ends, something always begins.

I may not like the new something that begins, but it begins none-the-less, asking me to change along with it.

There is a season for everything, and a time for every event under heaven:  ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Love People Friday

Love People Clothing

Love People Clothing

I decided that today is Love People Friday.

Every day is a good day for working on love but Friday is even more important than most.  It’s the official start to the weekend. The weekend goes better when Friday is good!

My sister, Jodi, has a small business where she crafts unique pieces of clothing and sells them in local boutiques. It’s been a nice little business for some time but recently she has been inspired to move beyond creating something women like to own into creating something women will want to wear.  Her business, Love People Clothing has always promoted an inspired look but now she wants to promote an inspired life.  So she created a t-shirt line that goes by the name Love People.

Her goal is to inspire others to really examine the heart of what loving others is about and living that out in day to day life. The t-shirts are just a small reminder to wear love like you would wear a piece of clothing. To her love is not about the grand gestures but the small, loving words or actions that impact one.  Impressing thousands is easy and temporary, loving just one isn’t necessarily easy but it creates the most lasting effect.

So back to Love People Friday.

Friday is the day when most of us experience a shift in the work/school week.  Schedules are not as structured and we spend more time with our family and friends.  All the more reason why Friday matters the most when it comes to all things LOVE.

If I’m being honest, weekends around my house haven’t always been full of love.  Where I can coast most of the week on my own terms, I now have to collaborate with others on activities, needs or meals.  And then there is the issue of who gets in the shower first or who has the remote control?  I’ve been known to loose all good graces before on a Sunday afternoon. I need to be reminded to wear love.

That’s why I’ve dubbed Friday, Love People Friday.  It’s a reminder that I have to put on love before we all get together.  I have to decide ahead of time that I’m choosing love instead self-centeredness.  I choose to see my husband as he is and not as I expect him to be. I choose to flesh out patience, in whatever means necessary, when tempers rise and energy is low.  Letting naps happen. I choose to wait my turn and give grace when we are struggling; to speak truth or stop unhealthy habits as best I can for the sake of love. Eating a meal together instead of all at different times. Giving extra hugs and kisses and whisper soft words of love. Saying “thank you” and “please”. Playing a game. Reminding one another why you love “us”. Choosing to walk around the mall with your child, just because they need some time.

I know I won’t always do it well but I commit to giving it a try.

So here’s to Love People Friday.  Decide now to love those in your life this weekend.  You’ll be spending a little more time with them after all.  Wearing love on Friday could determine how well the rest of the weekend goes.

Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  ~Colossians 3:14

#wearlove

Like is the New Love

So I’m sure you’ve heard the expression,

I know I have to love (fill in the blank) but I sure don’t have to like him!

I’ve said it before.  But I’m thinking twice about it now.

Solid Rock Love

Solid Rock Love

I was laughing with a friend the other day about the fact that I have no problem loving my husband but some days I have to work at liking  him.

We laughed pretty hard because we both know how true this is with relationships.  But then I began to wrestle with it.  Is it really possible to love someone and not like them?  Does love work that way?

I thought about this dilemma long after my conversation was over with my friend.  I began to feel uncomfortable with the idea that loving and not-liking someone is compatable. Maybe liking someone is a component of loving and when we dislike we dis-love?

Jesus was traveling through a town called Jericho. At this point Jesus was kind of a rock star.  Naturally a crowd would gather around Him.  There was a man named Zaccheus who was curious about Jesus.  He too wanted to get a look at him.  But being a short man he couldn’t see over the crowd so he climbed up in a tree to be able to catch a glimpse. But being height challenged wasn’t his only problem.

Nobody liked him.

He was dispised by people in his community. And with good reason.  He was a jerk. (You can read the story here, Luke 19:1-10) Jesus did something remarkable and scandalous. He liked him.  While in a crowd of haters, Jesus liked.  In front of a big crowd, He told Zaccheus that He would be coming over to his house to hang out.  Now in those days this was really daring.  To talk to, let alone have a meal with, someone that the community deemed unworthy was like sleeping with the enemy.  You just didn’t cross those lines.  Your own reputation was then damaged if you did.

But maybe that’s the problem with dis-liking, the focus is on me.  When I don’t like someone it’s because they offend me on some level.  They irritate me or make me loose my patience, they are slow or irresponsible, selfish or mean, they are two faced or gossips, they can’t be trusted or arrogant, maybe they just rub me the wrong way.  Trying to live in a world with other human beings is work. It’s easier to dislike someone that it is to work at liking them. I’m really more comfortable that way. So yea, it’s all about me.

The people in Jericho had good cause to dislike Zaccheus.  He really wasn’t a good guy.

But Jesus shows us a side of love that has given me food for thought.  He separates the person from the behavior. With His reputation on the line He doesn’t give into the pressure to please the crowd around Him. Jesus likes Zaccheus certainly not because Zaccheus was likable, but because He was able to see past Zaccheus actions and into his humanity.  Jesus loves all men and women, no matter what.

Love makes room for like.

So what is going on in me when I struggle to “like”?  People behave in ways where it makes it really hard to like them.  It’s just crazy to think that we won’t be affected by someone when their actions offend and disrupt our lives. To dislike is NOT a sin but rather a symptom that there is still work to be done in me. 

Perhaps I need more of the grace, patience, forgiveness, understanding, correction, affirmation, opportunity and kindness of God so that I am able to pour it out when someone is acting in an “unlikable” way?

  • Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to dislike someone?
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to not get so frustrated or annoyed by others who we just don’t like?
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to see someones humanity and not only see the offense?
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to be a little more like Jesus?

So when I’m symptomatic with dislike it’s because I need a little more of Jesus. And although it’s natural say I love and not like someone at the same time, I think Jesus is asking me to help write a greater story with my life.  To call people out of trees and work at liking more.

Like is the new love.