Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Place



A few days ago, I started to worry about Thanksgiving.

I read Becca's post and it ripped my guts out. It's beautiful and wild, and there's just no combination I love more these days. I felt so proud of my girl for loving her people so fully, so well.

It got me all excited.
It made me jealous.

I wanted that big room bursting at the seams, rowdy boys and ladies taking a load off. I wanted to be in that mix. It made me envious that our life is so settled here, in our little hood. It's not even close to crazy enough.

If all of this sounds messed up to you, it's only because it is.
I'm choosing desperate honesty, friends. Anything else is wasting our time.

And isn't this just like Satan? It's just like that nasty rat to make us compare gifts and decide ours come up lacking.

It's just like him to tell us the neighbors don't need us and we don't need them. It's just like him to make us believe we should go big or stay home.

The truth is, sometimes God's ridiculous request is that we go small and stay put.

Because while I lamented the dearth of prostitutes on 5th Street, there sat a strapping kid slurping his first mug of homemade cocoa in amazement. I handed him a beater from the whipped cream. He licked it and asked, "How'd you do that?" He tracked me down in the laundry room and said I "nailed" it. He joked that it was never too late for that mom-sort of thing, and though I laughed along with him, we both thanked God that it's true.

Thanksgiving is family. It's God's provision bowing the table legs.

I can't stomach the thought of anyone missing out on this communion, this clasping of hands and clatter of voices.  I pray God leads them here, somehow, some way. I pray that when He does, I recognize them as belonging to me - my family.

It's Wednesday morning and we're all up to our earlobes in potato peels and gravy. It's hectic and the lists are long, but we still have a whole day to become someone's place at the table. There's plenty of time for a family to grow.

I know wishing is for Christmas, but I'm taking an advance today. I don't want anyone left in the lurch this year. I want to be sick to death of living the traditions of exclusion and convenience.

I want us all to believe what we offer - our tiny, messy kitchens, our pans of mac & cheese - take the form of the living, breathing God who lives in us and moves among us.

I want more of the healing that happens when strangers and meth-heads and broken girls and lost boys and compulsive liars and lonely dads and welfare babies and slum lords and undocumented citizens and grieving women and tired grandmas and the scared, the broken, the prideful, the closed-minded, the ashamed and impatient and angry and loud come together and share a pan of Parker House rolls.

This is God's body, broken for every single one of us, no exceptions.

Be ready for them, friends - the one person or the twenty.
Be ready to welcome them the way you have been welcomed.

Skewer every lie with the jagged end of the wish bone.
All of it, any of it, is BIG and worthy.

Happy Thanksgiving, Sisters. Happy Thanksgiving, Brothers.


40 comments:

  1. We just invited our neighbors for Thanksgiving. They are older, & lonely I'm assuming, since I never see anyone at their house & they're always home. I hope they'll come but I don't know if they will. We'll see!

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    1. This makes me want to scream. In my kitchen. In my bathrobe.

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    2. So, they're not coming. But listen to this - she called me back this evening to say that she really appreciated the offer. Her husband isn't able to get around well right now & was just diagnosed with spinal cancer. (!!!!!!!) We had no idea, obviously, becasue we haven't had the time or concern to bother to find out anything about them. We've lived here 13 years! And I am heartbroken. :-/

      Here's the thing: we've been working really hard this year to foster & encourage community within our group of friends. There have been struggles all along the way - oh, we're all still (good) friends, but that sense of "community" just hasn't happened like I'd hoped. Meanwhile, my next door neighbor is dying & I have had no idea. Think God is trying to tell me something? He's really had to beat me over the head here.

      So we'll take them a plate tomorrow. They have no children or family nearby. I've offered to help in any way I can, but I don't know what to do. Thank you for encouraging us to get out there, to know our people, to make our family. xo

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    3. I am COVERED in goose bumps. Hold onto your hat, Sister!
      :)

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  2. Thank you, just thank you, for every word you write...

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    1. Yes...thank you from the depths of my heart!

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  3. You are doing BIG things <3 keep it up sister!!!! Your Thanksgiving is gonna rock, He will show up in BIG ways and you'll be blessed right out of your socks, can't wait to hear about it!!!

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  4. We are rarely home at Thanksgiving, but over the years we have had numerous "divine guests" around our table on Christmas Eve. Each time has been an incredible blessing!

    Thanks for laying it out there and keeping us challenged!

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  5. I always leave here excited. The opportunities come and go. I have to grab them as they pass by. Happy Thanksgiving, Sister.

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  6. Thank you, Shannan. I think I will pray that prayer...that God will send who needs to come and I will recognize them...as family....
    Tears are falling even as I type this...
    I want them to come even when it is not Thanksgiving.

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    1. "I want them to come even when it is not Thanksgiving."
      YES.
      xo

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  7. The poster at the top who invited the neighbors is why your ripples in the gravy boat of life are worth it, the blogging and the living. Thanks isn't adequate. Thanks-giving, yes. Truth spoken on this blog.

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  8. Do what you can wherever you are : ).
    Isn't that the best way?
    Gary said that Alexander can't come for dinner tomorrow, so I am making him a plate in the morning and bringing it to him as he wanders the streets. That is all I can do tomorrow. So, that is what I will do : ). No need to lament the fact that he won't be in our warm and cozy home.

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    1. Listen, I've been bracing myself since last night that half of our guests (Robert's friends) will bail. Like you said, no need to lament. We keep our doors open and welcome whoever makes it through. :)

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  9. Beautiful post. So many things to keep in mind during this season of thanks. My prayer is for God to open my eyes to the needs around me and the courage to act. Thanks for exemplifying that courage. :)

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  10. I'm so excited. We're sharing our Thanksgiving Dinner with the men that live at the Shelter at our church. Long story short, our church was given its building, a VERY old, VERY big high school. We have since given a large portion of the building to be used as a Men's Shelter/transitional housing/etc. My dad is the director, and has acted as a dad to the guys. He's pretty much the best. Anyway, my mom (who has a consignment shop in the same building...it's a family affair) said one of the guys stopped by her shop yesterday to see if she knew how to tie a tie. He was all dressed up, and said he was practicing for Thursday. I'm dying. Can barely share this without crying...turns out, I can't! Anyway, we didn't think it was such a big thing when we decided to relocate our family dinner from grandma's to the church. God is SO awesome. I can't wait for tomorrow!

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    1. Probably should have mentioned that my husband's the pastor... I don't know. It seems like it might be relevant. And, I've been loving how your blog seems like it's been hitting me right in the gut. You keep writing about things I've been thinking about or that I really need to be thinking about. Thanks for sharing your heart. :) I always look forward to reading your posts.

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    2. THIS!!! That tie thing. Oh my stars.
      Have a blast, lady.

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    3. Ok the tie thing did me in too. Love.

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  11. You have such a gift, your words are powerful and you live them. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. <3

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  12. Beautiful......your always say so perfectly what I could never articulate. It is one of your many gifts. I lOVE this! Happy Thanks-living to you and your gorgeous family!

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  13. I read your post and Becca's - a lump in my throat and then I clicked away...but had to click back because I was very touched by both posts - it's amazing what you do...and your writing touches me no matter what the subject...thanks for sharing your gift and allowing me to follow along

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  14. Thank you for another honest, convicting post.

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  15. Heart-wrenching. Needed.

    Sharing this now. Your words...Wow.

    ~Amber

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  16. I come to this place and find myself conflicted and wretched, looking inward at my own ugliness. There is a change that happens when we see the world through another's eyes. The pains of the past are not remembered when I come to this place and see how openly you love people, ALL people.

    It makes me want to be a better me. And ain't nothin' bad about changing for the better.

    We are working to grow food to feed the people who need it. Come early Spring, my husband and I will stand side by side in the back pasture, turn the soil and tenderly plant the seeds to feed the many. It's a crazy notion, but God told us to. And that, I'm sure, you understand :)

    Happy Thanksgiving and I say, bring on the wishes.

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  17. Your table is really quite large when you come to think about it. We, all of us, dine here daily - as often as you write. There's surely a whole lot of hungry souls you are feeding with your love and thoughtful words. Amen and blessings on you - and all of us.

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  18. I needed this today Shannan. I needed to hear that it is not go big or go home. I have been lamenting the fact that while our door is open, it isn't open far enough. I know the limitations of this family and sometimes it is more important to honor those living within these four walls than it is to invite strangers to gather round our table. There are other ways to serve, to be HIs hands and feet. Thank you for the reminder that comparison is from Satan. Grace, mercy, and love are gifts from the Father and there are many different ways to share them. Have a wonderfully, full Thanksgiving.

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  19. Love this. Now I must go read Becca's post to see what you're talking about;)

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  20. My husband and I have had a hard year and many things hang in the balance (our home and futures specifically). This holiday season all I have wanted to do is curl up into a ball and ignore the fact that it's Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be here. I'm a hostess by nature and a perfectionist and always want my ducks lined up in a row. Right now my life is uncertain, chaotic, scary, and messy. We always host Thanksgiving and Christmas as usually we are the only ones able to so that the family can all get together. I've cried about it, wanted to cancel it, and just felt I didn't have the means to do it. This year it will be a bigger crowd than usual. My family has been sweet in helping us provide some of the meal so that we do not have such a financial burden. I know this is a ridiculously long comment - but your words always touch my heart. I do not want anyone to go without Thanksgiving (including myself) and feel blessed that in spite of ALL our problems that seem so insurmountable - we have family to share the day with and food to fill our table and guests in abundance. I pray that you all have a beautiful Thanksgiving <3.

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  21. Beautiful post, Shannan… We're also going small and staying put for Thanksgiving this year and I just know, deep in my heart, that God is all over it and in it too. May you have the happiest of Thanksgivings!

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  22. Oh happy thanksgiving. But i have to say, i read becca's post too, and it did the EXACT same thing to me. Exact. I want every one of those homeless men at my table tomorrow, but i'm not brave enough to go out there and find them and DO it. I'm not as brave as you and becca. . .but i love you both for it.

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    1. Girl, go get them :-) It's not nearly as scary as it sounds. Seriously. Or start small and just bring them some pumpkin pie and sit down with them and enjoy it together :-)

      Happy Thanksgiving!

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  23. becca's feast.. i read it last week and almost died of jealousy and then almost died because I wanted to be her.
    and then i was like, "no, i want a heart like hers.'
    (i love all her wildness and i love yours too.)
    happy thanksgiving- may your house be full!

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    1. Aw stop it Lori. I love you and your heart, and your wild-ness :-) Happy Thanksgiving!

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  24. THIS!!!>>>....*I want more of the healing that happens when strangers and meth-heads and broken girls and lost boys and compulsive liars and lonely dads and welfare babies and slum lords and undocumented citizens and grieving women and tired grandmas and the scared, the broken, the prideful, the closed-minded, the ashamed and impatient and angry and loud come together and share a pan of Parker House rolls.* SO awesome...

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