The time had come when I was finally going to do it up right. A party deemed worthy of scrapbook status or, might I dare, Pinterest?
No more last-minute decorations. No more Krispy Kreme Donut cakes. No more email only invitations.
My daughter deserved the birthday party of her dreams and her patience showed me grace.
With an unavoidable, previously packed calendar, we agreed to celebrate her birthday as a family, but postpone the friend party for a future weekend.
Soon that future date became a thing of the past, and as days morphed into weeks and those gorgeous invitations never got
sent, bought, I knew that our dream birthday party, complete with a photo station, Olympics-worthy gaming stations, handmade goodie bags, and a Pinterest perfect cake, was not a reality for this season of life.
But who deemed that reality necessary? Surely not my daughter, whose preference leans toward the simplistic. Her desire stems from a heart for deepened community, not an epic birthday bash.
Even at ten, she shared her love of gatherings and simple fellowship with the reminder, “Let’s just plan something, Mom. Friends just want to come over to our house. They love it here. They don’t really care what the house looks like.”
And with that encouragement, we set her birthday party date immediately, just 36 hours later.
I am a huge believer in spontaneous hospitality.
Without any stress of expectation, my to-do list was nearly nonexistent.
Initiations sent via text. Check.
Décor grabbed from our hall “party” box. Check
Pizzas pulled from the freezer and snacks gathered from the pantry. Check.
Dessert? Let the guests make it.
Love on precious girls and let them know we’re thrilled they are with us. Check.
How could something so easy bring such fulfillment? Surely, I’d forgotten something.
(For those of you who gasped at guests making the dessert, yes, it’s outside the norm, but it rivaled the Next Food Network Star competition and they had a blast! They each took turns making up part of the requested Dirt Cake right alongside the birthday girl, and as you can tell from the picture, it was memorable and the reaction to their creation? Priceless. Rock Stars!)
This party goes down as one of our most memorable.
Not because of the beautiful ambiance or the coordinated theme, but because this kind of hospitality symbolized the simple joys of embracing the ordinary and elevating it to extraordinary.
Life shared, giggles freely given and sweet innocence enhanced.
On the outskirts, I watched their evening together.
It was so simple, so pure. No lavish expectations placed on them, just unadulterated time spent allowing their souls to be refreshed and renewed amidst best friends.
This is a party that will never be pinned, but the moments will forever be etched in their memories.
Scoffed at by any true party planner and heckled for the tablescape photos that will not make it past my iPhone camera roll, I found myself craving what they had.
What was it that drew me into their time of community?
Authenticity, Safety, Grace
As I pondered this party, I couldn’t help but notice how often hospitality reminds me of the Gospel.
It’s so easy to complicate them both, when in their purest form, they are both quite simple and straightforward.
Neither requires us to get our “homes” spotless or perfectly in order, and yet we wrestle over those very expectations.
We spend hours attempting to dress up our houses, church services, music preferences and even sanctuaries when there is no need. People are drawn to the authenticity of both open hearts and open homes without all the frills.
Why do we make it so difficult and over think it?
We don’t invite people over because our living room isn’t quite finished. We don’t invite co-workers to church because this series is a bit too straightforward.
We close the door on hospitality because we’ve been hurt before. We close the door on church because it’s wounded us and we can’t find the right “fit.”
Hospitality and the Gospel are simple. They both invite the weary, the messy, the brokenhearted, the questioning to come and find rest. They both welcome the stranger and offer a refuge for our souls.
As I reflect on this party that will never be pinned, I’ve been renewed with a vision.
Embrace the simple, the ordinary, and be the conduit by which hospitality and the Gospel intersect.
Don’t make it something it’s not. Just start!
Extend the invite.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
Simple Guest List
All of us!
“Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 NIV)
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
Just like my daughter modeled for me, “People just want to come.”
I know the Apostle Paul would have celebrated my party that will never be pinned. He reminded the Church in Thessalonian of the intersection of simple hospitality with the Gospel, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Share life. Share ourselves. Share the Gospel.
Jesus wants us to come just as we are. For once, let’s leave the unnecessary party stuff behind and enjoy all that He has to offer.
Won’t you join me for my next party?
Q4U: Share a memorable story of one of your most imperfect party moments? What did it teach you about hospitality? Do you find extending a Gospel invitation as scary as opening your home to strangers?
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