2014: my word of the year

So many bloggers and women and men that I respect-- both in real life and on the internet-- have followed the trend of picking a word of the year instead of choosing new year's resolutions. After much deliberation in my own heart about my resolutions for 2014, I have decided to hop off the resolutions train and jump on board the word of the year train.

Before I mention my word for 2014, you need a little background on me. This may it may not come as a shock to you, but I am an extremely type A person. I like order, organization, cleanliness, and pattern. I like a plan and goals. I like to know what is going on and what is expected of me, and I'd like it laid out in alphabetical order in outline form, please.

I am sensitive and always try to help others. I am sometimes impatient, and I always take on more than I can handle. Time management is super important to me. I am a high-achieving worker (also known as a "workaholic") who is often called a Martha by her husband, and I can multi-task with the best of them.

And all of this really throws a wrench in the "like to entertain/have people in my home/always have an open door" attitude that I need (and want!) to have.

I like to appear to have it all together, even if I'm wearing my spit-up stained pajamas at 2 in the afternoon while Ford fusses in his NapNanny and Watts pitches a fit to watch "one more Mowse!!!" before her nap time as she wipes her M&Ms-stained hand on my Pottery Barn rug.

I can throw dirty clothes and clutter in my tiny, disheveled laundry room so fast that it would make your head spin. I can light three or four (hundred) candles in the wink of an eye to mask the smells of our overflowing trash can and dirty dishes (stacked neatly) in the sink.

I can quickly close closet doors to hide piles of outgrown baby clothes and mounds of shoes that haven't been worn in several seasons. I can throw the covers over wrinkled bed sheets in a flash. And as you, my guest, are pulling up in my driveway, I can swipe my hand across our black TV console to give it a hurried dusting while yanking a tight Old Navy knit shirt over Watts' bedhead before you walk through our front door.

And all of that added stress sometimes makes me resent my need and my desire to be hospitable. I don't have it all together. I never do.

Sometimes, I like to think that once my kids are in school (or, ahem, grown and in college), that my house will be neat and orderly and tidy. I like to think that my house will always smell like The Yankee Candle Company's White Christmas candle. I like to think that if I can just get some scheduled time every single day, that my house will be suitable for entertaining and enjoying company at the drop of a hat. I like to think these things.

But, then I come to my senses and realize none of that is true. Or maybe it is true, but it doesn't really matter.

Lately, I've been reading anything and everything about hospitality that I can get my hands on. I've downloaded e-books and read regular books. I've read articles and more blog posts than one should be able to find. I've read poems and short stories. I've read it all. And I've come to the conclusion that entertaining and hospitality have absolutely nothing to do with the (physical) state of my house. Hospitality is about the state of my heart (and my family's heart), and we've talked about it, and we want people to feel welcome here no matter what.

I want people to come into our home and see leftovers in the fridge and clean laundry in baskets on our floor that needs to be folded. I want them to see the toys Watts has scattered in our living room and all the burp cloths we've needed for Ford that day. I want them to see more empty Tervis Tumblers on our side tables than you can shake a stick at. I want them to see open closet doors and unmade beds. I want them to see what it is that's actually going on here: a house that's LIVED IN. A house that's not just a house at all. Our house-- our messy, sometimes not clean, tiny, little house-- is not just a house at all. It's our HOME. And I want you to know you are welcome here. You are welcome here anytime.

I'm not saying that housekeeping and cleanliness and tidiness is not important. My Type A personality will never let me say that. I'm just saying those things take a back seat to me opening my home to the people I love and people the Lord has called me to minister to.

If I have to choose cleaning up or inviting you in, I'm going to choose inviting you in every single time. If I have to choose washing a few dirty dinner plates by hand or telling you tonight's not a good night to have you around my table, I'm going to choose you every single time. If I have to choose having a late-night pot of coffee with you while you work out the latest hardship in your life or turning in early to watch SportsCenter in my bed, I'm going to pick you every single time. I'm going to choose you every single time. Because that's what Jesus would do. He would choose you.

I promise to try and keep the state of my house under control. I like things clean and put away and orderly, but I recognize that might not always happen. And that's ok. People are always more important than tasks. And they are definitely more important than appearances.

A few weeks ago, my sweet Papa had a stroke. It happened on the same day as Watts' second birthday party. My family was heartbroken. I was heartbroken. I remember coming home late that night from seeing him in the hospital and looking at my really, really messy house-- still a wreck from the preparations from Watts' party. I had to drag out Christmas decorations from our garage that following Monday so my husband's Aunt Cathy could come and decorate our house while we were gone Wednesday through Friday for Mat's seminary graduation in Louisville. We got home late, late Friday night after graduation with two exhausted babies and two weary parents-- living in such a bittersweet moment from the high of graduation and the sting of my grandfather's recent stroke and uncertain prognoisis. That Sunday, we had our annual Christmas Open House for our church family. Even though Aunt Cathy took a HUGE burden off of my shoulders by doing such a great job of decorating for me, I still had lots of cleaning and prep to do to prepare for Sunday. I was stressed and hurried, but a supernatural peace flooded my soul.

In light of my grandfather's condition, so many menial tasks that I thought just had to be accomplished didn't matter anymore. I didn't mind that I didn't get to wipe down all my base boards or clean all my fan blades. I didn't care that I didn't get all the insides (yes-- the insides) of my cabinets wiped down or Watts' sippy cup collection organized. I just didn't care. I had cake and coffee and tea set out on a clean table with chairs set up around our house to hold people that we love who came to our home to celebrate Christmas with us. And that was enough for me. I needed to have those people in our home. I needed to see their faces and hold their hands and give them hugs. I needed to offer them hot cups of coffee and sweet pieces of red velvet cake as a token of our love for them. I needed them in our home, and that was more than enough.

I'm so glad I didn't cancel our Christmas Open House. I'm so, so glad, because it was a foreshadowing of the work the Lord is currently doing in my heart. He is creating within me a strong, deep desire for fellowship and hospitality, and there's no better place in the world for that to occur than in my house and around my table.

So, my word for 2014 is just that-- hospitality.

I cannot wait to see what joy and happiness the Lord brings to my heart through this word this year.

And I meant it when I wrote it-- you are welcome here. If you need somewhere to go, you are welcome here. Come sit around our table with our family. You are always welcome here.

Happy New Year!


  1. We can't wait to come visit! Love you sweet friend!

  2. Beautiful, lady! I love your word, and I think you are going to have a fantastic year as you focus on it! :-)