Yesterday was another full day at our cozy little cottage. (All five of us reside in a three-bedroom, 1100 sf ranch home in a humble subdivision) We were wrapping up the day. Work and school? Check. Dinner cooked and eaten? Check. The neighbors, well the moms and kids anyway, were gathering for the end-of-day last bit of playtime before baths and reading and bed. The neighborhood was scattered with tricycles and kids shooting hoops and moms discussing everything from potty-training to middle school. And I get to chime in on all of it because we’re crazy and our kids are that spread out in age. Life was feeling pretty good. Then, my husband burst out the front door of the house with a Wii controller in one hand, waving at me with a big smile on his face as he ran across the street.
His dear friend just called to share that his trip landed him in town for the night and he would love to stay over, if we would have him. I could tell that Matt wanted this. Then he admitted as much when he told me he was leaving for the airport to get him, adding an “if you don’t mind” at the end…for good measure. Sure. I dig Paul. He’s a neat guy with great stories of far-off places. They go way back. Sure. The boys were eager to tag along. I mean, a trip to the airport is super fun, right?
I stood there for a moment and waved good-bye as they pulled away…then the thoughts of the state of our home started off a wave of anxiety. Ugh! Of all nights, a Friday at the end of the first week of school. We were not nearly in our groove yet. Bookbags were everywhere. I hadn’t bothered with the dishes yet. I needed to scramble my best Martha attitude and gets to cleanin’!
You see, I can relate to Martha. I’m not talking Martha Stewart – although the girl can wield a mean glue gun – but to Martha, sister of Lazarus and Mary. In the book of Luke, we read about an evening when the family hosted Jesus for a visit. Martha was annoyed by the unequal share of housework she had to do while Mary, who should have been sharing the load, sat listening to Jesus talk. Martha’s the one who carries the inner burden of the work of the house. She wanted it to be perfect and presentable. Her fussiness was how she thought she’d show respect to her guest. But Jesus didn’t see it quite that way. He gave her perspective, reminding her that none of the chores needed her attention at that moment, but her guest, He should have been the focus.
So, as I dashed through the house to gather, straighten and toss, this story came to mind. (Note to self: Bible stories are important and will come to visit our kids’ hearts someday, right when they need them.) I determined to do what I could do in the hour or less until they arrived and then just be a gracious host, visiting and listening.
Although it was a surprise and a short visit, Paul (at the far right, below) is a welcome addition any time. We shared stories and watched the Olympics together. He caught up on the boys’ adventures and got to meet Anna. I didn’t beat myself up about the unscrubbed bathroom or even the fact that we don’t have a proper place for a guest to sleep. I offered what I had, a cozy home that’s full of love and laughter and crazy antics and a sofa made up as a bed with our finest Walmart linens.
And you know what? Paul only noticed the welcome.