I was friends with Kristin’s mother Vicki for many years before we were introduced. When her mother found out I blog, she connected us through our web addresses. Mothers are good at carving paths for laying down some tread, yes? And the minute I met Kristin at Laity Lodge two years ago, she made me feel like we’d been girlfriends forever. She makes everyone feel welcome, that is Kristin’s gift to whatever room she walks into. Most of my Sabbath meals are recipes I discovered at The Schell Cafe, I’m not even kidding. Do yourself a favor, check out the goodness and sign up for The Turquoise Table. Your family will thank you.
An email slipped into our overflowing inboxes: Hi Kristin and Tony, I hope you had a great summer. I couldn’t read further on my iPhone without clicking to open. I scrolled to the next email assuming my husband would respond for us. The email, from friends who run a non-profit, was surely a request for a donation.
“Did you read the email from Carol and Jack?” I asked casually over supper a night or two later.
“Not yet, I’m buried at work. I don’t know when I’m ever going to catch up,” he sighed heavily which was my cue to handle the response.
The next morning I opened the email and swallowed hard as I read the request. Even though it wasn’t in the budget, writing a check would have been easier than what our friends were asking of us:
We know the huge demands on your time and energy, but we would like you to consider mentoring a young, single dad and his three children.
Romans 12:13 quickened in my heart: Take every opportunity to open up your life and home to others. But, I didn’t respond with a YES! to God. I responded with a lukewarm how?
I’m ashamed to admit we didn’t immediately jump on the opportunity. Tony and I deliberated for two weeks indecisively squirming with selfishness and fear. Overwhelmed with chaos in our lives, we tabled the decision for the following Monday.
That weekend before our commitment was due, we rested. As a family we feasted on BBQ sandwiches at the University of Texas Longhorn football game. We watched our favorite TV shows. I took a long walk with the children. Tony and I took luxurious naps. We played all weekend and on Sunday we worshipped together. We experienced a near-perfect Sabbath. We ceased the whirlwind of individual activities and collectively our family rested, played, shared meals, and worshipped. The Lord was in our midst.
“Giving and Sabbath are primary ingredients of hospitality.” Matthew Sleeth, 24/6, pg 137
It’s not a coincidence that we are reading 24/6 together, friends. Nor is it happenstance that I was reading chapter 10 the weekend Tony and I made our decision.
Dr. Sleeth begins his chapter, The Sermon on the Amount, with a story of regret. It’s a powerful story. Dr. Sleeth stands in a checkout line while the woman in front of him struggles to pay for her groceries with a check that didn’t clear. He admits the shame he felt for not acting first and thinking later about helping the woman pay for her groceries. I could feel Dr. Sleeth kicking himself in the shins because I’ve stood in that same checkout line and offered the same response—nothing.
We didn’t wait until Monday to make our decision to accept the opportunity to become a mentor family with The Dream Come True Foundation. By Sunday evening an unexpected joy and peace permeated the still space in our hearts created by our Sabbath.
“Sabbath leads to giving, and giving leads to hospitality. The Sabbath makes way for joy and contemplation, and that allows us to hear God”. Matthew Sleeth, 24/6, pg 140
In hindsight the decision to open our lives and home to this young man and his family was a no-brainer. But, our hearts and minds were too cluttered to see the obvious on our own. We would have missed this opportunity were it not for the encouragement we heard from the Lord. We were able to hear because we rested and we worshiped. In the sacred space of Sabbath God became greater than our fears, selfishness, and worries.
Thanks to the encouragement found in The Sabbath Society, the wisdom of Dr. Sleeth, and the gift of Sabbath, our family shared our first Sunday supper with our new friends. The evening was filled with glimpses of God’s exquisite handiwork.
Tony and I finished up the last of the dishes, each of us quietly processing the beauty of the evening. He spoke first, “I think that went really well, honey. I’m looking forward to this, what about you?”
At a loss for words I stole Humphrey Bogart’s, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
How has Sabbath-keeping or times of stillness informed your choices and big decisions?
Leave your answer to Kristin’s question in the comments and then join us for more discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club, where we are delving into 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth every Wednesday in September. This week, Sabbath Society peep, Terri Lynne Underwood is helping me lead our final conversation on Part 4.
Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a turquoise table where life not only happens, it overflows. Known for her outrageous hospitality, Kristin Schell cooks, teaches, and loves those who gather ‘round her table. Wife to Tony and mama to their four Littles, Kristin juggles the every day blessings of life, mostly with a contagious smile. She is a writer, speaker, and passionate fly-fisher.
Absolutely inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story, Kristin. It’s amazing how God works, how He brings people into our lives, and calls us to live love.
Thank you, Kris. I remain in awe of God always, but especially in those sabbath moments when I can see more clearly the blessings he bestows…
Kristin…I think this is a wonderful story. Obviously you have the “spiritual gift of hospitality.” I understand the telling of how being still for Sabbath helps us to hear the voice of Holy Spirit, perhaps to hear our next ‘marching orders’. I realize that we’re all called to open our doors and “perhaps entertain angels unawares”. My problem is that I have no such gifting. My husband and I, empty-nesters now, are homebodies and truly only comfortable in our own little world of two. People make us extremely nervous. So, rather than stumbling and bumbling through ‘hospitality’, we prefer to use our own ‘gifts’ in ways that are productive–he has the gift of ‘helps’, which he uses constantly, and I am an ‘encourager’ through correspondence and one-on-ones with others. I prefer the intimacy shared over coffee. We prefer peace and solitude. But I admire folk who can open wide their home and receive others with ease. I wish I was more like you, but I’m just not. Does that make me ‘bad’? Or wrong?
Jillie – it makes you exactly who God created you to be – YOU! How the Holy Spirit leads you in the sacred space of Sabbath will look absolutely different than how he leads me, your neighbor, or friends. Interestingly, my husband is very much an introvert and I too prefer small, intimate gatherings. So, we struggle as well. I would love to hear how your time of Sabbath has encouraged you to use the gift of encouragement. Those letters of correspondence and one-on-one times with others are a blessing!
My friends across the street ooze hospitality. Often she’ll text me and say, “we made brownies.” They always need an excuse for brownies and her fudge sauce is to die for…Of course, it doesn’t take long for us to cross the street and help them “feel better” about making brownies. I wish this was me, but it isn’t. The weird thing is I thought that it would be…there a complicated story that goes with that but I say all this to say…often the offer of hospitality can interrupt my “planned rest,” my Sabbath. At one time, it kind of irritated me, but I love people and being with people is filling to me. I spent a half-day of Sabbath frying chicken (don’t fry much anymore so it was a big deal, even cut up the chickens) and cooked a country feast (I am from Arkansas) for all my family. It was a great Sabbath day for so many reasons. Yes, I “worked” but when I sat at the table with my peeps, I rested into gratitude for all God’s provision and goodness. Sometimes we need Sabbath to build reserves; sometimes we need it to break the routine and put in its place “life as it was meant to be”—- like chicken dinners and people that you love sharing life. Loved your story. I know you blessed that family and will continue in the days ahead.
This happened to me, um, yesterday! School started about a month ago and I am still relishing my days alone. Getting so much done. But yesterday, God clearly asked me to open my schedule, my home, to a friend who needed some girlfriend time. We had a wonderful visit! Obedience feels good!