I was thinking yesterday about who you dream of being as a kid. Revisiting the home my Mom grew up in brought back so many fond memories of being a kid for me and when I returned to Tampa to MY home it got me thinking about who that little girl in the picture dreamed up being. I've shared some of those dreams before...I dreamed of living in Florida. I dreamed of owning a home. But what I've been thinking more about is who I dreamed of being.
When I got home from church yesterday I was standing out front having a chat with my neighbor. I make an effort to know all the people who live on my block and visit with them whenever I can. When I was growing up we always had people in and out of our house, we still joke that we basically grew up in a hotel with all the company that constantly stayed for game weekends, holidays, etc. My parents are great hosts.
In my preteen and teen years I spent every minute I could talk my Mom into letting me, at the Huhtas. This is when I really caught a vision for the kind of homeowner/hostess I wanted to be. Nancy, who you've heard me talk about many times before and her kids are my Tampa family. I still love being with them every chance I get. But for the purpose of this post lets stay focused...
Nance was that amazing hostess who didn't have to plan a week in advance for you to come over. You always felt welcomed in her house, with little or no notice. You could call and say 'I'd like to come over today' or 'what are you having for dinner' and she'd welcome you like she'd been waiting all along for your arrival. I loved that. I still love that. And I remember thinking, 'I want to me like that. I want my home to be the place people want to go and I want to be the hostess that makes everyone feel special and welcomed, planned or not.
My neighbor mentioned that his brother, sister, and cousin were in town and they were headed out to the beach for a few hours. I'd been planning after a day of watching football with friends at Beefs that I was going to grill out. ALL of my guy neighbors get excited when I grill - so I invited him to come by later for a burger if he wanted. He was, of course, all about that...but as I pulled back out of the driveway to head to Beefs I realized, hey, why not have them all?
And so I did.
I fired up the grill and we ate in my living room off paper plates and talked about New York (where his cousin lives and I went for the first time this year) and all kinds of weird things that come up when you have 3 nurses in one room (like me having a panic attack over giving blood even though I had my wisdom teeth pulled without a pain killer). And in the midst of these fun festivities I thought, this is it. These last minute, low key, hangouts - this is who I dreamed I'd be.
I'm scheduled, organized, and totally OCD but I still purpose to be someone who will drop my plans for working on my budget and dusting my baseboards to throw together food and sit around and spend time with people. My Dad does a brilliant job of reminding me that people are what matter. Not agendas or chores or things....people.
The importance of loving people really clicked with me recently. My roommate, Bekah, and I had invited our friends over back in October and we invited a neighbor (who's new to the block and close to our age) to come over as well. We introduced him to our friends and fed him, of course...and throughout the course of the night our churches came up. My roommate and I attend different churches and we each had friends from ours present. I didn't think much about it until two weeks ago.
My neighbor called me out of the blue and reminded me that when he'd been over I'd talked about my church. He said, 'the way you described it and your excitement about it stuck with me...I was wondering if I could come sometime?'. I called him back and gave him the scoop on days, service times, etc and told him he was welcome to come with me sometime soon. Last night it came up again...he told me how great it was to move in and be instantly welcomed by Bekah and myself. We've had him over to eat 3 or 4 times now (food is the key to everyones heart, right?) and welcomed him to two parties we've had. Honestly, that's just the way we are...we're inclusive. But I hadn't thought about that much until he said it got him curious about my church.
More than ever I am learning that loving people is the key. I'm not much for yelling on street corners or preaching in the streets, but I'm open and honest about my faith and I purpose to be someone who loves the people God brings into my life with all I've got. It's neat when you see the Lord use that. It's also a great reminder that people are paying attention to what we say and do, even when we don't realize it.