Autumn days. Favorite for me. Why? I’ve always enjoyed all the seasons. Each has its focal attributes. This reminds me of a reply my mother made to my question to her when I was probably seven or eight years old. I asked her, “Mom, what’s your favorite age for us kids?” (I was asking her what age of children she most enjoyed mothering, what stage of our short lives she liked best.) With the slightest of pauses she said, “Oh, whatever age you are!” I liked her answer, feeling very secure in it. So, I learned to like whatever stage I was in, wherever we lived, and whatever the season. But part of that changed 33 years ago today.
In a darling, white chapel decorated with crimson velvet drapes, Paul Lawrence Olsen and Karen Louise Thomas were married at 7:00 on a Friday evening — October 17, 1980, Thus, autumn became my favorite season. Fall offers a potpourri of delights: crisp air, warm and brilliant colors, hots soups and drinks, rewards of labor — the yields of the harvest, the focus on giving thanks, the anticipation of winter holidays . . . .
During the latter half of my cross country trip with Judi in September, I began to anticipate preparing my home for the fall. Within days of returning home, we rearranged some furniture and pulled out fall decorations in preparation for autumn hospitality. We re-positioned our drop leaf dining room table, adding the leaves and lifting the drop leaf ends, so the table is as long as it gets. Now, I can seat twelve people. Covered with a leaf print, muslin table cloth and a fall center arrangement, I’m ready for company! Fall company begins today.
My cousin, Sherrie arrives around noon to spend three days. On Monday, we have one couple and a family of four joining us for dinner around our festive table. Then, dear friends from Ohio will arrive on Thursday to spend about a week with us!! A group of friends will join us for Thanksgiving, and we’ll have several Christmas gatherings. How delightful! Home hospitality isn’t mere entertainment to me. It is the exercise of a stewardship, a grace gift.
Scripture teaches us to serve each other in very practical ways (Romans 12:13, Gal. 6:2, Luke 10:33-34; Acts 9:36-39). Practical activities become conduits for spiritual and whole person enrichment . Each of us attempts to serve others in various ways, depending upon our backgrounds, interests, gender, and callings. You know all this. If I were a man, I would have become a pastor, as my father was. I’m not a church pastor, but I am a “minister” — serving in little ways some of those around me. I’m not a church pastor, but I am an informal “pastor,” that is, a “shepherd,” caring for some around me.
You are too, if you are a Christ-follower — you are a minister — one who serves, and a pastor — one who cares for others. I sense of weight of conviction that I need to place more focus on serving others through my gifts. My gifts come in little packages. I need to unpack and share them. There are more things I can’t do than I can do. Ha! This is “a given” for all but the most bombastic! It is so wonderful not to be able to do so many things! It frees me from the clutter of choice! I can only do certain things, only have so much time, and only have so much energy! By the time my limits are set, my box is pretty small. But like a seed, small is more than I need.
I don’t sew or crochet — you’ll never get a shirt or afghan from me! You won’t even get a button sewed on! (Ask Paul! If I sew on a button, I feel as if I’ve created a masterpiece!) I don’t mow lawns or trim trees or paint houses. I don’t jog and will never run a marathon for charity! I don’t volunteer at the hospital. I don’t fix computers, repair cars, or wash windows. I’m sure that the “I don’ts” are limitless.
What are your “I don’ts”? Aren’t they freeing? Then you focus on the “I do’s!” I did that with Paul 33 three years ago today! “I do” love you for the rest of my life — in all the ways I can. I think he does a better job “I doing” than I do! So, it’s usually fun to love him. The love just keeps on rolling.
The stewardship of my gifts — my “I do’s” — leads me to home hospitality. That I can do. (We can do, for my home is our home, and Paul loves to exercise hospitality too; we’re a team. ) I learned it through example, training, experience — all mixed with divine pre-wiring. God wired me to love people through my home. Even the “I don’ts” point me to the “I do’s” — by default, which includes the limitations my health sets on me.
Paul has been involved in short term missions for some 14 years. He can travel to Argentina, Costa Rica, Rwanda, Mexico, and to county fairs. He can go to people; however, people have to come to me. Thus, home hospitality becomes my focal (not sole) venue of ministry. Autumn offers a potpourri of opportunities to love people who come to my home by employing the example and training my mother gave me. She was a pastor’s wife with quiet, diligent gifts: the gift of attentive listening to one person, the gift of praying seriously for individuals, the gift of cooking more food than needed, the gift of purposeful home decorating to create peace and beauty in an atmosphere of welcome. These legacies I am to carry and give away as practical expressions of God’s love. I anticipate the opportunities that the fall and winter seasons are bringing.
What are your gifts to offer to others — your contributions? What is your little potpourri bowl of opportunities? May they exude the fragrance of Christ.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MY PABLO!!
Karen, really enjoyed this blog. So true of every thing you said. You and Paul are great hostess/host and your table is amazing. You know how I love to come and visit your home. Your love is best of all! Thank you bunches for a great three days…… Bootcha, bootcha, Sherrie