Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Hostess with the Mostest Heart Palpitations

I've always been in awe of those who entertain with ease.  I guess we admire people who possess gifts that we feel we're lacking.  I'm sure you know people who have the gift of hospitality.  They're those people who can whip up a dinner party in no time flat and with seemingly so little effort and stress that they enjoy the gathering as much as their guests.  Surely, a few people have popped into your head by now.  I know several come to my mind.  I seem to be rich in southern girlfriends who are gifted that way.   

Last night, we were invited to our friends' house for dinner.....and this particular friend is always that way.  Laurie answers the door all calm and collected.  No smoke alarms going off.  No nervous pit stains on her blouse.  All the food timed perfectly.  David takes the meat off the grill just as the potatoes finish cooking.  The rolls and pie crust- both the shade of golden brown only seen on the cover of the Southern Living Annual Recipe Book.  Everyone is relaxed.   
I consider any hostess, who doesn't sweat through their clothing during the party, to have the gift of hospitality.  That would rule me out.  I look and feel like I am on fire when we have people over.  Don't get me started on how my heart beats like a bass drum in my ears. 

Now, it's not that I can't cook or that I don't know how to set a table or design a centerpiece.  It's the fact that there's just so much to think about.  Timing the food.  Fretting over its doneness.  Imagining the ER full of your friends in 4-6 hours with abdominal cramping and projectile vomiting.  Is everyone's tea glass full?  Is the conversation flowing or did I hear a few seconds of silence?  Is there enough food?  Are their children really swinging from my curtains?  She didn't eat much of her corn casserole.....wonder if it's too salty.  Oh, my word.....look at the size of that cobweb in the corner of that window.  I hope the dog isn't doing what I think he's doing to his stuffed toy.  I should have put another clove or two of garlic in this.  Oh, no, did I point the knife blades in the right direction?  Are they having fun....because I'm not.  Is it hot in here?  (One thing I've learned is that any hostess, who is not blessed with the gift of hospitality, has in internal body temperature 5-8 degrees warmer than that of her guests. Fact.)

It may shed some light on my hospitality inadequacies to know that Blair tagged me in this video, a few months ago, as it reminded her so much of me before company arrives.
In Bible times, I would've probably been a Martha.  Martha's off in the kitchen making the sweet tea, setting the table, and she's as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs as my Daddy would say.  She's clearly irritated at Mary, who's sitting on her bottom doing nothing to help.  I know that irritation, too.  When you're flustered, irritation flows like a swollen river.....like when company is set to arrive in 12 minutes and Davis is out in the garage organizing his toolbox or something equally irrelevant to the situation at hand. 

Anyway, Mary clearly forgot that the main goal of entertaining is actually visiting with the people you've invited into your home.  It's hard to do that when you're sweating profusely and counting heads to see if you have enough lasagna and salad forks to go around.  I imagine it would be super duper stressful if your guest was the Son of God.  What if you saw Jesus sit down in the chair where the cat usually sits knowing how bad she sheds?  Or if you thought his chicken breast was too dry.  Or if there were water spots on his tea glass.  Or if one of your kids blurted out something about how you say bad words, sometimes.  So, yeah, I can totally relate to Martha.  She had a lot on her mind and if her cloak wasn't soaked completely through, I'd be amazed.   

Now, Mary.....well, she was a different story.  I suspect she did have the gift of hospitality.  She was sitting down and not worried about anything but communing with her visitor.  First and foremost, she was going to visit with her most distinguished guest in the history of forever.  She was probably thinking that when they got done and were ready to eat, she'd go in there and help Martha serve it up real fast.  Mary, how did you do it?  So relaxed.  Hello, um, Jesus is at your house!! 

I may not have the gift of hospitality which is why I usually suggest we just meet our friends at restaurants.  What I do have, though, is the gift of focusing on all the wrong things.  I'm super talented that way.  I'd like to think that if I'd been Mary and Martha's roommate and Jesus had come to our house that I could've discerned what was important and what wasn't.  I'd like to think I would've spent more time listening to what I needed to hear instead of worrying that the pillows weren't fluffed on the sofa or that there was a dust bunny under Jesus' wingback chair.  But, I can't be too sure that's where my mind would've been.   

Jesus told her, "Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  Only one thing is essential and Mary has chosen it....."  Luke 10:41-42  MSG

Ouch.  That hits all of us Marthas in the face.  In entertaining and in life, I hope that whenever I get the chance, I'll choose the substance over the surface.  That I'll focus on the presence not the pretense.  That I'll look at the content not the cobwebs.  That's where the best of life is.

Y'all have a good one!                     

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back in the Saddle

Well, a lot has happened while I've been on my little vacation from writing.  Some good.  Some not as good.  Let's start with the not as good.....

My sweet mother-in-law, who's suffered from Alzheimer's for several years now, was moved into a nice assisted living home.  It had become difficult for Davis' dad to physically care for her as she's declined a good bit over the last few months.  He was valiant and faithful in his care for her and still his main concern in life is her and her contentment.  Of course, this move has been an emotional one for all of us.  It marks the end of how things have always been.  You know we all have those turning points in our lives when either, through death or growth or a thousand other reasons, something changes and life will never return to the old way again.  After 62 years of marriage, their home won't be the same.  Holidays won't be the same.  Traditions will be altered.  Our family won't be quite the same. 

I think it's true what they say about women being the heart of the home.  They provide warmth and tenderness inside its four walls and bring the loving finishing touches to family gatherings.  I started to realize this the first time I drove up to my Grandmother's house and she wasn't there to sling that side door open to greet me.  I wasn't sure I'd ever had to open that door and let myself in.  Nobody yelled out, "Who's that coming to my house?" in a chuckling voice.  Something was missing.  Something had changed.  Her warmth was gone.  And when I walked through the screen door into her kitchen, I lost it.  Right there.  My life had reached a turning point because her presence was missing from that place.         

Now, my mother-in-law isn't like the ones you hear jokes about in late night tv monologues or see on the big screen as the antagonist.  She's never been overbearing or critical or nosy.  She has never pouted or put on guilt trips or demanded her opinions be heard.  No, she's just quite the opposite.  She's humble, kind, and giving.  She's selfless, hard working, and gracious.  Always ready to help.  More concerned about you than herself.  And even with dementia, she still has her same meek spirit.  I wasn't sure there was another living soul as kind and selfless as my own Mama until I met Davis' mother.  And for that, we have both been and continue to be doubly blessed in the mother department even as life takes a little bit of a turn for us.
Blair and her Granny

On a happier note, we celebrated Blair and John Samuel's August birthdays while I've been away.  I rearranged some furniture.  Painted the sunroom.  Worked a lot of hours putting out new merchandise at the stores.  Caught up with some friends.  Did my share of relaxing.   

And, perhaps most notably, Carson got his driver's license since we last talked.  Now, those of you who have driving children know what I'm talking about when I say that having a new driver in the house brings out all kinds of conflicting emotions.  Oh, all the worries about fender benders and distractions and speeding.  You want to keep them safe and start them out slow......but you're out of Ro-Tel tomatoes for which your Pinterest recipe clearly states "No substitutes" and there he sits.....eager to drive somewhere.  Anywhere.
You know how it is those first few days that they drive to school. " Now, text me when you get there and when you leave to come home."  Every time the phone rings, you're like, "Oh, Please don't let it be him saying he's jumped a curb..... Backed into a beamer......Rear- ended a Mercedes......Turned in front of a Porsche.....Side-swiped a Corvette......Knocked over a parked Harley."  Because, well, you know insuring a teenage boy driver is only slightly less expensive than keeping a space shuttle in orbit.  So far, he has an impeccable driving record so we're good. 

Another interesting thing happened while I was gone.  My brother, Lee, (left) raced in the Trans-North Georgia last week.  He biked 350 miles across the entire state through mountains and forests and some paved roads in only 2 days and 22 hours which according to my calculations is 2 days and 21 hours too long to ride a bicycle.  During the almost 3 days, he slept a total of 6 hours and grabbed whatever food he ate at gas stations along the way.  Starting from the South Carolina state line, the finish line was the Alabama state line which calls into question not only his sanity but our relatedness.  He finished 8th at 41 years old and I'm a very proud sister.....or, at least, they say I'm his sister.      

So anyway, I've missed blogging.  I really have.  I do enjoy this more than you can imagine.  But, from time to time, I get bogged down in my own self-imposed pressure to be interesting enough to warrant your time.  Sometimes, I think it's good to step away from your routine and get a fresh perspective on the things in our lives.  Does it belong there, first of all?  And if it does, just to take time for a deep breath before you get back out there.

Hope y'all have a good Monday!   



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I Can't Even Think of a Title

Ok, so I have something that I need to tell y'all.  It's kind of awkward but I feel like I need to level with you.  You may have even picked up on it already so I just need to come clean, right here and now.  I've been suffering from a mild to moderate case of what I like to refer to as blog constipation.  That is, I've been having difficulty writing posts without a pronounced lack of ease.

I sit down to write a post and I........
Sometimes, I......
and then.......
or I..... 
or just........
Finally, I give up......
and start saying things like......
and with a tinge of self-pity, I proclaim.........
I've even been tempted to.....
But, I stop and remind myself that blogging is fun.  But, since it's been making me feel more like this.....
and this.......

I decided I may need to take a little time to work through this constipation. 

I'm not sure if it's the heat or my mood due to the heat or laziness or lack of inspiration or just what but blogging, this summer, has been a real effort.  Sure, I go through times when words and ideas flow like Niagara Falls and, other times, it slows to a trickle.....like a washing machine drain hose.  Right now, I'm in drain hose mode.  I could continue to trickle through it, but it wouldn't be fun for any of us. 

We'll get through this.  We've done it before. 

This, too, shall pass.

When the blockage is removed, I'll be back.

I promise.