Sharon's Corner is a periodically updated blog exploring some of today's most pressing issues. Topics range from marriage, finances, relationships, and any other issues in your life.
Blueberry Cobbler Blessings
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I finally counted them … and the total? Twenty-eight, plus a dog!

That’s how many overnight guests my husband and I have hosted in our home in the last two months. Some have stayed only a night or two, but most have been with us a week or longer. And this number doesn’t include more than a dozen others who joined us for dinner during that same period of time.

Am I complaining? Do I just want a pity party? No way. I love having people in our home. More than once when every bedroom was occupied by a guest, I’ve plopped into my own bed at night and sighed contentedly to my husband, “I am never so happy as when my house is full!”

Of course running an amateur bed and breakfast while still trying to keep up with other responsibilities… work, church, family, etc…. can have its challenges. “What will I make for dinner?” “When will I be able to run to the grocery store?” “When can I get the sheets washed, beds made and bathrooms cleaned?” “How’s our budget going to stretch to accommodate all the added expenses?” These are legitimate questions and thinking through answers well in advance of our guests’ arrival can definitely help me feel more prepared. Planning ahead helps one feel more relaxed. Or does it?

Planning ahead is a good idea, but sometimes all the mental energy that goes into planning has a sneaky way of turning into concern and worry. I’ve found that “dwelling” on future busyness can increase my stress and sap me of today’s peace and joy.

So there is a kind of mental and spiritual dance I must go through when preparing for visitors. On the one hand, I must think practically… anticipating the upcoming needs, thinking through how to meet those needs and then putting my plans into action. This spares me from a lot of inefficiency. It gives me more time to relate to guests after they arrive. But I must also intentionally hand those plans over to the Lord and not allow my thoughts to fixate on them. That’s a sure recipe for anxiety.

I certainly haven’t mastered this dance… but I do think I’m getting better at it. For example, in the last two months I have not micro-planned every last detail of each day. Partly because of our guests’ unpredictable schedules, partly because I’m trying to trust the Lord more, and partly because at 59 I just get tuckered out much more quickly than I used to, I’ve chosen to postpone some of the “way-in-advance” detailed meal planning I’m used to doing. Jesus told me not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). So I dare not let myself do it. Don’t get me wrong… I haven’t quit planning… I’ve just tried to relax my tight grasp on my plans and surrender them to the Lord. I’ve been trying to occupy my mind more with Him and less with the mundane.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). Just yesterday a friend stopped by unexpectedly. She had made a blueberry cobbler (it was still warm from the oven!) and thought that perhaps it would come in handy with all my guests. Amazing! It was exactly what I needed for the gang of Brazilian teenage boys visiting in our home. I hadn’t asked her to do this. I hadn’t even asked the Lord to do it. But in His generosity God showed up and met a need. And as He always does He did it better than I ever could! Believe me I was happy I hadn’t slaved to make a dessert that day. I might have missed God’s surprise!

When John and I were newly-weds I would never have dreamed that I would end up enjoying “having company” so much. I grew up in a home where entertaining was done British-style… fine china, fancy sandwiches (always with the crusts removed!), and a well-planned agenda. I brought that model into our marriage. John challenged me to consider relaxing and being content even when things weren’t “perfect.” What surprised me was that as I did this, over the years I truly came to love the impromptu “parties.” What I had initially resisted turned out to be a delightful blessing from the Lord.

So… I keep on with the dance… planning, preparing/ trusting, relaxing. I have to admit when I’m doing it right a house packed full of people is not a drudgery… it’s a delight… and in the midst of all the busyness, the Lord, over and over again amazes me with His “blueberry cobbler” blessings! So, perhaps when guest number 29 arrives, He’ll surprise me with yet another one…that would be just like Him… although maybe the next one will be peach!