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.