On Mission

Showing Up!

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A lot of my friends have had little ones with the flu recently and as a mama it gets a bit overwhelming when our little ones are sick.  We have to readjust our schedule to fit in doctor appointments, continue working, and try our best to keep the other kiddos well, among the million other things we already have going on. I’m tired just thinking about it all! This past week, one of our small group families had two of their little ones down with the flu and the ladies were all texting back and forth, encouraging this mama and promising to pray for them. We’ve only been meeting a few weeks together so several ladies don’t really know each other well. One of the ladies offered immediately to stop and bring them a meal.   I was amazed and convicted and so excited for both of the ladies!  As a side note, I’ll also share that this same sweet lady that offered had just closed on a new house and they were in the middle of moving, but she saw the importance of showing up. She reached out to this mama with sick little ones and offered a tangible help and blessed and challenged the rest of us in the text group. Isn’t that what the body of Christ should be doing? But how can we be like this sweet friend who decided to just show up!

1. Leave some margin in our schedule!   Man, we can fill up our calendars week to week, can’t we?!? We have to begin to leave some  blank space so when emergencies do arise, or a friend waves the white flag and needs some help, you can! Isn’t that what friends do for one another anyway? What do you need to say NO to in order to clear out some space to be a good friend? What do you need to say YES to? It’s all about learning to balance and prioritize our time, our wants, our desires and our callings. If we want to be a mama that shows up, then we have to live like a mama who shows up, right?

2. Keep some things on hand, ready to go!  I used to be really good about this. Living overseas, I often kept cookie dough in the freezer so when the doorbell rang, I could throw a few cookies in the oven and serve my guests. I’ve gotten quite lazy in this area though honestly. But, that’s no excuse.  It’s easy to make a double batch of chili or chicken noodle soup and freeze half of it for your family later or to give away. A couple of my favorite go to recipes are a Slow Cooker Chili Recipe or Easy Taco Mac.  It also doesn’t have to be extravagant! At times, I’ve bought into the lie that in order to serve someone else or invite some one over, my house has to be perfect, it has to be a four course meal, I have to pull out the fine china. You don’t. Just show up with a pot of chili, paper bowls, and plastic spoons. Or maybe stop by and grab a pizza and drop if off. Your friend will love you and be so very thankful and they won’t care if your containers all matched or not.

3. Just be that friend! Just decide to be that mama friend who loves and serves your other mama friends even when you’re inconvenienced or it’s not easy. Be the friend who sends the first text to check in when you saw their facebook post. Be the friend who grabs an extra coffee and drops it by your friend’s desk when you realized their morning had been pretty tough.  Be that mama friend who grabs a bottle of children’s tylenol or a LARGE container of ice cream and drop it off. Don’t let fear hold you back. Just ask and offer and be ready for the opportunity to serve and love.

Do you have a sweet friend who is having a hard week? Who do you need to show up for this week? Just show up! I’m so very thankful for a mama friend who stopped and noticed and served and loved, despite her own busy. She reminded me and challenged this mama’s heart in so many ways this past week. 

Mission Ideas

Service Opportunities: Friendship Families

Caroline and her husband have done a tremendous job leading a local program, Friendship Families, where families can welcome and “adopt” an international college student. I asked her to share a little bit of her heart in opening up their lives and their home.

Each year hundreds of students come from all over the world to do cultural exchange in our city. Most stay only for a couple weeks but others stay here for a few years. The students that stay here to attend college feel that they are fulfilling their “American dream”. For most students it is their first time away from home. Soon after the excitement of being in a new country wears off they begin to realize that they don’t know where to buy clothes for a season called “winter”, they have run out of every toiletry they packed and they really just want to eat something familiar. Sure, they might find someone from school to give them a ride to Walmart, but with 42 different shampoo/conditioner options written in English, more than likely they will leave feeling frustrated. 

What would happen if they had a family come alongside them to help them learn all about their new “home” away from home? For starters, Walmart would not seem so intimidating and they would have a local able to introduce them to the culture. Imagine picking your very first pumpkin, attending your first American wedding or celebrating Easter and learning that it was about so much more than a rabbit. By being a part of a group called Friendship Families, a group of local families that have adopted a student during their time in America, this has allowed us to see joy that comes from inviting a student into our home and lives. For our family, our adopted student hasn’t just had the opportunity to learn about us but she has also shared about her family and culture back home. Just the other day we were talking about how when she graduates in four years, she will have watched my children grow up from infant to kindergarten and how we get to watch her grow up too!

If you have the desire to open your home and life to a student, it is something you will not regret. For those thinking they would never have the time to commit, I’ll be the first to admit I thought so too. My husband so graciously reminded me that we eat meals everyday- no biggie to add another plate and we also go and do family activities, like going to the pumpkin patch-no biggie because our car has extra seats. The friendships between your family and your student will be deep and they will last a lifetime.

Next year the Friendship Family program anticipates having almost 40 new students. If you would like to know what the program is all about or if you would like to get involved, I would encourage you to check out the program and consider attending our end of the year celebration for our first group of graduating seniors. Last school year, before all of the students went home for the summer a few sent us messages saying that without their family they didn’t think they would have ever left their school’s campus and they would have been very lonely. So many left for summer break feeling like when they returned for the Fall Semester they knew they would have their American family here waiting on them with open arms.

Not everyone who reads this is local to Spartanburg, but this is something that you can do too! Do you live near a college or university? They more than likely will have international students attending! Connect with their Dean of Students and ask how you can serve their students. They will be excited that someone cares!

And if you are local, email us and we will connect you with Friendship Families so you can learn how to make dumplings, watch someone pick apples for the first time, and have the opportunity to love and welcome someone to your table and into your home and heart!

Blog

Serving Others through Hospitality

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While I love to host others in my home, I have to admit it’s not always the easiest or first thing on my mind.  I think sometimes we just get “busy” or if I’m real honest with you, I’m just too fearful to ask others over and it’s comfortable being at home with the hubby and family. I also have been thinking on this lately and feel we’ve made hospitality into something “big” and  hard when it doesn’t have to be! We often times want our homes and our lives to be perfect and “then” we will ask friends and neighbors inside. I’ve had to check my heart a lot lately over this and remind myself that I’m never going to have it all together… and that’s okay! 

Opening our homes and our lives can be really simple and fun but it does take being intentional! Here are some fun ideas and thoughts that I’ve come across lately: 

  1. Ask a neighbor over for coffee and  muffins! Especially if you have little ones and the thought of getting your stuff together to host them for a big meal overwhelms you. Or simply grab some bagels or bakery items from the store. It can be simple and still a great time! 
  2. Take hospitality outside! I recently saw an Instagram post where one mama just sets up tables outside and they have “community dinner”. The kids play and the mamas just bring what they were gonna be having for dinner anyway outside and the families all enjoy it together. That’s brilliant in a lot of ways – it lets the kids play outside and the clean up is minimal! 
  3. Keep it simple! Stick with an easy dinner recipe that is a tried and true one. I have a great chili recipe that I’ve made for several events and everyone loves it and often asks for the recipe. It’s easy and I can pretty much make it from memory now. Put a crockpot of chili on, pull out the paper bowls and relax! While I love a good reason to pull out the Family China, I don’t always have the energy for a four course meal- and that’s okay! Most friends wouldn’t expect that anyway! And, If you are wondering about that chili recipe, you can find it at Cooking Classy. 
  4. Center your time around something to learn – like a book club, or a cooking club, or a knitting club or a party where a friend is “selling” something like Doterra or Beauty Counter or Pampered Chef – I could go on and on with the party ideas. Find something you want to learn about and gather friends to learn with you and support their work too while you are at it!
  5. With the Fall Season, you can also do a Smore’s Night and “fire up” the fire pit outside and toast some marshmallows. Yummy! It’s also football season, which is always a GREAT reason to throw a party and watch your favorite team together.  (Geaux Saints!! ha) Look at the season and see what you could plan! Christmas is also a great time to invite friends in!
  6. Just ask… I think you’ll be surprised! Just ask that new friend you met and want to get to know! Chances are, they are probably wanting to get to know you too! 

More than anything, just open your homes and your heart and your lives for that is where you will find community with one another and opportunities to share Christ with those in your life. 

For more Ideas, be sure to follow our Pinterest Board.

Here are some great resources addressing hospitality that you can purchase from Amazon. (These are affiliate links so we do receive a small percentage of your purchase to help support the work of On Mission Moms!)