Monday, August 18, 2014

The Creativity Project: Home

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Home.
For my kids it would be so simple to photograph that theme.
A few shots of our well-worn abode,
the only home they've known,
where we've landed long enough to make many a mess this summer,
but not long enough to clean them up.
Yes, definitely home.
But for one, we weren't HOME when it was time to get ready for this theme.
And for two, when you are fifty-something and have lived in many places,
the concept of home gets a bit more complicated.
You learn to make yourself at home,
wherever you might be.

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When I was fresh out of college, I took a "spiritual gifts inventory".
Kind of like Myers-Briggs for Christians.
Answer these questions and we'll tell you just what gifts God gave you to offer the world.
Honestly, I can't tell you what gifts it told me I had
because I was a little taken aback by the scores in NEGATIVE NUMBERS in two areas of giftedness:

mercy
and
hospitality.

(I dare say the authors of that inventory didn't have those gifts either.  Negative numbers???)
Not long after that, I was reading one of my favorite chapters, Romans 12, in a new Bible.
Believe it or not, this copy had a typo. Look up there at the top of page 845:
"Practice hospitality.  Practice hospitality."
OH!!  So you have to practice!!
(Yes, I do, unfortunately, require repetition.)
Of course back then, I thought you had to have a tidy and beautiful home,
gourmet cooking skills,
and be a dazzling conversationalist.
Nope, nope, and nope.

But eventually I learned that hospitality happens when you help others make themselves at home.

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My family recently vacationed in Chicago.
For a variety of unusual reasons, we stayed in the kind of place
 that equates hospitality with luxury.
Which is pretty much the opposite of us,
although it was certainly beautiful.

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As luck would have it, there was a bit of a mixup when we checked in,
and the staff ended up practically tripping all over themselves to make our stay comfortable.
It was a happy ending, but a little awkward--because to us it really just wasn't a big deal.
They seemed genuinely relieved when we were happy to let it go.
But, knowing they wanted us to relax and enjoy may have helped us do just that.

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Because seriously, I cannot even imagine what possessed my husband to put his shoes up on a white bed.

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Bethany made herself at home--she will pretty much move in anywhere.

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And the hotel had milk and cookies in our room for us--
although we had brought our own.

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The biggest draw to where we stayed was that it was right at a train station.
The attendant made us feel at home when I asked her a question,
and she came over to the map to help us work out the transit stop for our day's itinerary.
(Yes, we know there's an app for that. But that's not how we learn best.)

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Then later, when we stopped to get our bearings, 
a kind stranger noticed, and stopped to SHOW us the app for that.
It was really hospitable of her.

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And so we arrived at Navy Pier.

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Which was beautiful, thanks to all the people who paid attention to detail.

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More about Chicago some other day.
We much appreciated her hospitality.

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Next we went to Rockford, Illinois.
We chose a place a little off the beaten path.

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Talk about attention to detail!

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They catered more to "regular" people like us,
but we still felt spoiled, as they welcomed us to take our time.

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We were among several guests lingering
over good morning food and conversation.

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I have learned that hospitality is a two-way street.
While there are the roles of host and guest,
the truly gracious host not only offers hospitality,
but also acknowledges and receives the gifts present in the guest.
There is a richness when host and guest are free to give and receive from one another.

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Then both can truly make themselves at home.

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I've been graciously welcomed to participate in The Creativity Project!
I appreciate how they've made me feel at home.
Even when my computer crashed this month, and I didn't make the deadline.
If you head over to see Becky at Life With Kaishon, you can still see the whole circle.
Their entries are beautiful and heart warming.

I would love to know--what is home to you?

8 comments:

Life with Kaishon said...

This was a nearly perfect post. You are so good at stringing words together. I love that you share Jesus at every turn. I am fascinated that you scored lowly in hospitality on that test. I could tell immediately upon meeting you that you always try to make people feel at home and welcome.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I often tell my sister that she got the gift of hospitality and I did not. And she says I got the gift of making a home welcoming and serene, which is hospitality. I think hospitality comes in many forms! Home for me is where my husband is. After 50 years I guess that's the way it's supposed to be. But my oldest daughter probably coined it best when (she was an adult at this point) she told someone who asked her why she called a place she'd never lived home (we moved many times!) that home is where her mother and her mother's stuff is. So funny - she knew she could walk into any house and see the familiar, the loved. blessings, marlene

Skeller said...

oh yah, I remember those spiritual giftings tests (also right around my just-graduated-college days). I failed in the mercy dept, too. I'd be curious to peruse that test now, with my super-cynical-"adult" eyes and opinions. Something tells me I would read the categories/classifications/characteristics/"gifts" as something different than what the test creators do.

Loved reading your thoughts on hospitality, especially the key to success: the give-receive enjoyment between guest and host. So true!

And, can you tell your kids to slow down the growth curve a bit? You're looking short, my friend!

Tracy P. said...

Haha, yes Susan! I have been busy noticing Bethany closing in on me, and only this morning realized that Ben is catching Lee. Ayayay!!

/SBA said...

beautiful post, words, and images. the message of home, of god, of love is felt throughout it all. i especially loved the opening image, the image of the bible and the black and white image of your husband by the bed. for some reason, these set the entire tone of calming energy for me. simply beautiful :)

Melissa B. said...

Oh, your babies are growing up! Thanks for the warm and fuzzy thoughts about Chi Town. The last time we were there, things didn't go so well. In fact, for a good number of years, Chicago was NOT my kind of town! But my chicas have convinced me to give it a second chance, and your post has sealed the deal!

Buckeroomama said...

I love how the idea of 'home' is presented in your post and your images. :)

HJ said...

Tracy, this is gorgeous in every respect! Home is one of my favorite words, and you more than do it justice!

It does amaze me that you'd have not been rated through the roof on hospitality - it's certainly one of the first things I noticed about you. Anyhow, I love that you talk about the giving and receiving aspect here - I so believe in the importance of graciously doing both, allowing others the blessing of giving.