Stowed away in our attic, I dusted off my high school diary. Paging through memories of old, I am instantly transported to a time in my life when school, friends, boys, and parents triggered to-do lists and declarations, resolutions, and remorse. A time when affirmation was currency and attention was the payment. Years have passed since those musings, but hidden in the heart of this brand new, fifty-year-old woman, still lurks glimpses of that sixteen-year-old.
Lose weight. Stop snacking late at night. Get more organized for class. (Yes, some of my resolutions have spanned the decades.)
Talk quieter. Talk less (Does anyone else still hear their grade school teacher’s reprimand?)
But my heart swelled when I read the next challenge:
Look for a lonely girl and become her friend.
While that resolution stemmed from the high school girl’s yearning for a collective identity, some things never change. I had no idea that a heartbeat of my book, “Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation,” was already etched in my diary.
Whether sixteen or seventy-six, our hearts ache to be included. We crave connection. Knitted into our DNA is a hidden longing for deeply-rooted relationships that journey through life with us: someone to notice, acknowledge, and see us right where we are with no ulterior agenda. And while no one can know us fully or fill our intimate longing in the way that God can, He has designed us to come together in community because He created us for fellowship.
So with my old diary’s resolution in mind, I gathered the kids for our New Year’s family meeting.* Every January, we carve out time to reevaluate and reflect on the past year. We ponder lessons learned, talk through challenging failures, and honor goals completed. As we mark the ways God has worked in our lives, we celebrate His goodness and then cast a vision for the new year.
This gathering began with a new twist. I have a box of conversation starters on our table that I printed out years ago, and one of them asks the question, “If you had one week to live, how would you spend your time?” Instead of creating the bucket list experience one might expect, we opened to 1 Peter 4:7-11. I urged the kids to examine Peter’s stated priorities and brainstorm ideas from this passage.
Before you continue, won’t you join me in reading and create your own list from Scripture? Peter casts a vision for our future. What does it include?
The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11 (CSB)
Peter gave his own prognosis when he announced to the believers that “the end of all things is near” (v.7). He knew time was of the essence, but his priorities were not what we’d expect. If I announced to you, “The world is ending soon. What are you going to do?” You’d likely not reply, “I’m going to show hospitality.” I was shocked when I filtered this passage through the lens of that question. Yet if we had any doubt as to the importance of showing hospitality, loving deeply, and serving others, this is our answer without question.
As Christ followers, these are the expectations, and one of the easiest ways to show His love in a tangible, life giving way is to invite, include, and welcome others into community: to practice hospitality (and yes, to do it without grumbling).
January is the perfect chance for a fresh start — a time to reframe resolutions and cast a new family vision with kingdom purpose in mind. Love deeply. Open doors. Serve others. Create margin to pursue hospitality so that God may be glorified.
I can’t wait to hear what He does in 2020.
If Peter mentioned to you, “the end of all things is near,”
how would you spend your time?
*How to plan a family meeting: Take time this month to think back on 2019 and mark the ways you’ve seen God work personally in your own life, as well as your family’s. Express gratitude in tangible ways to those who have invested in your life and/or impacted the lives of your children. Write a note or invite them to “thank you” dinner. Outline core family values for the new year including specific ways you will serve on mission and extend hospitality in 2020.
As Christ followers, one of the easiest ways to show His love in a tangible, life giving way is to invite, include, and welcome others into community. -Jen Schmidt (@beautyandbedlam): Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Welcome to the “50 and Fabulous” club!! (Though I have just one more year before hitting the next decade marker lol). “60 and Sassy” or “60 and Sophisticated” ??? I had to chuckle about your being reprimanded for talking too much. I still remember the check mark in the “unsatisfactory” column for “Works quietly” lol. Some things don’t change. Your/Peter’s words convict me this morning. If I am to speak, it is with God’s words with which I should speak. If I serve, it needs to be in God’s strength so that my efforts glorify Him. Weighty words to ponder and use to adjust my actions. Thank you for the invitation to throw open the doors of my heart and home to others.
Ruth Ann Ball says
I remember that my grade school teachers were always writing on my record cards that I talked too much. My husband and I were in high school together and married a year after we graduated in June 1962. So, we are both 75 facing a lot of major health issues. Your article spoke to me in many ways. Thank you for your words! Love Ruth Ann.
Jennifer Schmidt says
You are so welcome, Ruth.
So sorry to hear about your healthy issues. Praying 2020 is a year of healing for you both.
Loving Others Generously Is Our Most Important Work! (Bomi) says
This post is beautiful on so many levels. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer & Incourage! 🙂
Thanks for the reminding us of one of the most practical ways of showing God’s love to others – i.e. including, inviting, opening our homes, doors and hearts to others. Some people truly have the gift of hospitality, but even when it doesn’t come naturally to all of us, we can learn. May God give us wisdom and courage. May God make it easy for us!:) May we always remember that we all need each other!
I also have to mention how much I love the following:
“Look for a lonely girl and become her friend.”
Hmm. My prayer is that our hearts will always be open to welcome anyone who is in need of a friend. Amen.
Dear God, please help us not to be so absorbed in our “important work” that we forget the most important work of all – loving others generously.
Thanks again for sharing, Jennifer. Oh and I love your ideas for planning a family meeting!:)
Love & Blessings,
Dawn Camp says
I was already thinking this morning about talking to my daughters about looking for the lonely girl, as we head back to classes today. You confirmed it!
Jennifer Schmidt says
Yes, friend. To all the many lonely girls (and us women included.)
I want to open up my heart and home to others but I feel like it will impose on the limited intimate time I have with my family.
My mother would invite people into our home as a kid and I always felt like we were second class citizens compared to our guests.
How do I show my children how to bond with our community and not risk losing the precious time we have together????
Jennifer Schmidt says
Hi sweet Gina –
First, I am so sorry that you felt that way from your mother. That’s definitely not how we ever want our children to feel as we love on people.
I’ve found welcoming others into our home right along side my children is one of the best ways I can serve them and others at the same time. They love to help host too, so maybe you can find ways to do it as a family. Modeling hospitality for them will create more precious times than you can imagine when you get their input too.
Ann Woleben says
Imagine if everyone in the world offered hospitality and lived to seek and follow God’s purpose~
Jennifer Schmidt says
Our whole society would shift in beautiful ways, right? 🙂
Ann Woleben says
Yes, it would be wonderful~
2019 is a hard year for me. But God really worked in my life in so many ways personally. Instead of being defensive, saying something back in return of accuse and being hurtful for sensitive, I realized God had changed my heart. I respond in compassion and think of the grace God has shown me in so many ways and so many times. I am not as sensitive as before, I am not easily taking things personally as before, I am happy for those who are better than me, I responded to people with Grace more. And I know one thing for sure, that it is not because I am good so I can change my heart. It is God alone that is working hard in my life. He is purifying me, refining me so He will be glorified. Heavenly Father, You are an awesome God. Only You can turn a piece of invaluable clay to something that manifest Your Glory. In Jesus Name, Amen!
Jennifer Schmidt says
Oh Linda – thank you for sharing a piece of your heart as you think back on 2019. To think of our fresh, new decade serving a promise keeping God is a might and powerful reminder.
Dawn Ferguson- Little says
Jennifer I love your writting if I had only one week to live. I tell people this is the way in which I want my Furneral. I have it wrote out the way I want it. It different to normal Furnerals. Even my Husband said that. I want a song played at my Furneral. As all my family Cousins Aunts Uncles Sisters Their Husbands and Kids not saved. Even my Dad not saved. Only me and my Husband. I pray for there Salvation. It will be different type of Furneral. They will get a shock if still alive and come to it. One song I want played at it. It is by Dave Billborough the song is : I belive there is a God in Heaven who died for my sins. Then the person doing the service to say when the song over. I have this wrote down. As you don’t know day when Jesus will call you home. Age means nothing. I want the person doing my Furneral my Salvation Army Officer. To say you know that song that you have heard. That Dawn wanted played the words of it Dawn believe them with all her heart. That is why today Dawn is in Glory with Jesus. If you want to see Dawn again. If not saved. You can make Dawn very happy by asking Jesus into your heart today to be your Saviour. Dawn does not want anyone her to be sad she gone. Especially if you are saved because you might miss her this side of earth. But you have not lost all. You will see her agin one day in Glory with Jesus when Your time up on earth. I don’t want anything from my Dad just to see him one and saved for Jesus before he leaves earth along with my Family. As my Dad now 78. 79 next month. Plus for everyone in this world to be kind loving and caring to either like Jesus was if I had week to live. No HATE. So people that not saved and my Family that not saved by the time I pass away. Will get a shock about my Furneral. As I want it to also be a happy one. No matter what age I am
Another song I want at is. Are you washed in the blood of Jesus. Excellent reading. Love it. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little. Ps hope what I wrote does not make anyone too sad. Xx
Bless you,Dawn, for seeking salvation for your loved ones to the very end. Your post does not make me sad; I applaud you for your diligence and consideration for your family to make these decisions now. It shows your caring and compassionate ways. I’ve talked to my family about my arrangements too as I do not want a “funeral home” funeral but a gathering of friends and family in a happier place. I may rethink some last words after reading your post.
God Bless you!
This need and plea for showing hospitality is especially needed for families struggling with disability or adults living on their own or in group homes with disabilities. Most churches and Christians leave the “caring” and support to paid state employees which is not the same as genuine friendships and time spent together with someone who really wants to be in relationship
Theresa Boedeker says
What hit me from this was serve others with the gifts God has given you. I am reading a book about gifts and how we sometimes hide them when we see others with more gifts. Yet we all have something to serve others with. Good gifts from God.
I know if I had only one week to live, I would want to surround myself with family and friends and just hang out and talk and laugh and cry a little, and then repeat.
My mom gave me the same advice. Find someone who looks scared and lonely and make it a point to cheer them up and make sure they have fun at the event. It always gets my eyes off myself and helps me enjoy the event.
Beth Williams says
Congrats on hitting 50 this year. I’ll be hitting 55. We aren’t a throw open the doors kind of people. I do include people often. Just this week I cooked broccoli cheddar soup & bread for my MIL. She has health issues & lost her hubby right before Thanksgiving. We need to live as though Christ were coming back any time. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Since we don’t know when He will come back-we need to keep pressing on loving, serving & caring for others. Shower kindness whenever you can. You will hear the words “Well done thou good & faithful servant”.