I have a crazy picnic table in my front yard now.
Yes, that’s a turquoise, kelly green, and cocoa brown picnic table.
There’s this long and winding God story of how I got from hearing a message at Allume about hospitality and having six families I’ve never met in my front yard this week. Twelve kids (only one of whom was older than 6).
But I’m still trying to figure out how to share it because I’m pretty overwhelmed at what God did to my little scaredy-cat, make-a-good-show, heart. I will write a little about the journey once I’ve sat with it a while and it’s still pretty much unfolding.
I will say I did a lot that made me uncomfortable. More than just driving the hubby’s truck to pick up an unfinished picnic table at Lowe’s and then spending the weekend sanding and painting a table with permanent paint with three five year olds (yes, they were each allowed to pick a color they wanted to use for the table).
More the uncomfortable “what will people think” actions. Walking up and down my street on Saturday morning with my kids and putting flyers in everyone’s mailbox inviting them to come to “the table” for Monthly Mondays. The first of which would be the very next Monday with pizza and drinks. Standing in my front yard with my kids at 5 pm wondering if anyone would come.
But this is what was more uncomfortable to me: I have lived on my busy street in west Houston for eight years and I don’t know anyone that lives around me. All of the 15 flyers I passed out on either side and across from my house went to people whose names I didn’t know and whose stories I’d never heard. That became unacceptable. And God basically let me know that He was proposing this as the solution. I felt like I was going to throw up as soon as we delivered those flyers.
So there we stood, in the front yard, with ten boxes of pizza, a big cooler of water bottles and juice boxes, and a bowl of name tags (because I’m terrible with names and I figured if we all put our house number we’d know where the others were located on the street).
Six families came. Y’all, out of fifteen houses, SIX whole families came. Twelve kids played in the front tire swing and gobbled cookies one of the neighbors had brought “to the table.”
I could have cried. In one hour, six families on a busy street in a big city met and had dinner. I heard the most amazing second chance love story from the retired couple down the street. We discovered the husband in the house next to us is from Louisiana like Bray’s family and hunts and fishes just as avidly. We had five different private schools represented because most of the families in our neighborhood don’t attend the public school where we are zoned. Two moms offered to help me host December’s Monthly Monday of cookies and cocoa.
And everyone was told this table was theirs too. That our house could be a place they were always welcome to come visit. My kids maybe started to learn that our space has been given to us to share with others.
I’ve been trying to survive with work and triplets and a maze of schedules and competing demands. I need to show the kids, and myself, that life shouldn’t all be rushed and hurried and that we can’t hide out behind our four walls when we get a spare moment to regroup. Instead, we have to clear out some of the clutter and make time for community.
That’s what we’re missing. That’s what we all need more of. Community.
Swoon. I adore that crazy table of yours! Most creative interpretation of the turquoise table ever! And, I love how God smiled on your obedience and bravery to invite your neighbors over! SIX FAMILIES. So, so good. I’m in awe.
“Everyone was told this is their table too.” Yes, oh yes.
Thank you for gathering and loving in your community.
Thank you dear Kristin for your heart for hospitality and your love to join people in communities everywhere!
Tears welled up when I read this blog. This is a big ‘ole dose of courage on your part and the reward of your bravery and efforts have proved profitable for the move of God of your life! I don’t even know you, but I’m terribly proud of you. You have blessed six families and I bet there are more to come!
Thank you Vicki – I will tell you I was the one blessed!
Kathy Johnson says
When our children were young, we used to know all our neighbors. The kids played outside and we spent time outdoors watching them and visiting. Now everyone opens the garage door remotely, drives in, closes the door, and we rarely see anyone. I’m not good about ringing doorbells and introducing myself to newer neighbors. Your table is a wonderful idea!
Thanks Kathy – and yes that is it, I wanted to find a way for us all to connect again!
Honey, you humble me. I have a very slow quiet life with almost all grown kids and only a few hours of seamstress work every week… in other words, no excuse for not welcoming my neighbors into my yard and home for pizza and conversation. There you are with your three (THREE?!) five year olds and your job and busy life and still you’re taking a step like this. Thanks for being a role model to this chubby old gal ((hugs))
Oh Diane, it doesn’t matter what stage of your life you are in, this is scary and outside our comfort zone! But you get out there on your street with all of us scaredy cats and God will use you!
So fun! I love your table!
Kimberly Amici says
Tears in my eyes as I read this even though I already know the stories of what the turquoise table can do… I don’t think I am that brave to. I so want to reach out in community but it freaks me out a bit. I am truly encouraged and need to figure out what “my turquoise table” looks like.
Oh I assure you Kimberly – this is WAY out of my comfort zone, I nearly threw up multiple times, but God can work despite our personal terror 🙂
Kimberly A. Vogel says
Wow. I’ve wanted to reach out to neighbors but just haven’t. This idea is incredible. I love it! I’m having an event at my house next week. I think I’ll invite the street. Have you read my gate in the fence story. Several years ago we met our back door neighbors. Little did we know this family would change our lives. When hurricane Ike blew down our fence, they put a gate so we could go back and forth. Now it’s used weekly – if not more. In fact, just today they came through to borrow something in a time of need. Neighbors – when you find good ones, they can really be there in times of need.
I love that story so much, we’ve got neighbors (it turns out) where I would love to do that eventually too – God works in everything, doesn’t He!?!?
Sarah Harmeyer says
Brave and absolutely beautiful, my friend! Oh the story God is wirting with you!! I’m grabbing popcorn and will watch to see how this unfolds over time. 😉 Reach out if we can support you! XO
Thank you sweet Sarah for the encouragement and inspiration to bring people into our space!
This is my favorite ever. I just LOVE it! I also informed my hubby of the turquoise table we’ll have in our yard once we can see the grass again, and he didn’t say no. In fact, I think he looked a little excited about it. You go, girl! So great. Please keep sharing the stories that unfold around that table? 🙂 (((hugs)))
I love that our whole crew is going to eventually end up with a turquoise table sweet Mel!!
Well this is just super-duper! As you can see, I am catching up on my “online community” here by reading posts I miss and, oh, boy, I am glad I am! This story-the story of what happens when we slow down and consider others-is truly inspiring to me. Thank you so much Ginidi for being a super duper sister of mine and sharing your journey with us. Continue to be the light my friend.
Thank you sweet Shavonnah – it’s so incredible to have such a brave group of friends to journey with!