Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Quick! Turn off the lights, and lock the door!

That's my gut reaction about 80% of the week. Only 20% of the week can I keep my house worthy of a "drop in without calling" visit - and that's on a good week. I know this will get better as the baby gets older, and more like when my children move out of the house.

I always thought I didn't like gravel driveways - but now I love mine. It offers that ability of being able to hear the crunching of the stones as a car pulls in. That, or the hum of a motor, or worse - not hearing either of those things - and the doorbell all cause me to panic "Maybe they won't know I'm here!!" Of course the shrieks of laughter, lights, and van in the driveway give it all away.

When we first moved in we happened to be acquaintances with out neighbors across the street (actually a field is across the street, they're sort of diagonal). They invited us over once, and we went - it was lovely. And we've bumped into each other outside several times. A couple of times when they knew Jake was out of town in the winter her husband plowed my driveway. Nice people. When we first got together, they said stop by any time and I know they mean it.

I said it reciprocally. But on my way back home do you know what I do? I panic. What if they DO stop by?! Remember the 80:20 principal. And I have not had a good week. For the record, I have stopped by their place to either drop something off or I couldn't reach her by phone to say "Your dog is over here" and they always say "Oh come in come in" and they don't have the 80:20 thing going on. Her house is immaculately beautiful, not to mention well decorated (a gift I seem to lack). They have 1 child, I have 5. I know you big family people know what I'm facing here, but I stress at the thought of the 1 child family just stop on by for a visit.

Well tonight.. the doorbell rings "Oh gosh" I think as I look around. How do I explain I've been sick? What do I do? Do I not answer it? I don't see a car in the driveway, maybe I can pretend they aren't there. But I know it's not right, I can't ignore my lovely neighbors, so I open the door.

There's a young girl at my door asking "Are you getting rid of the bassinet? May I take it?" Oh yeah, earlier I see that when Jake cleaned the garage yesterday he put the bassinet out by the road. We don't use it, but I intended to SELL it.. it's in great shape. I planned on going outside once the kids were in bed to retrieve it.

The instant she asks I feel the Holy Spirit say "YES." So I say "Yes, you may take it." And she says "Thank you so much!" and jogs off to her vehicle. I shut the door and feel "She needs your help." And I realize, all these years of hiding out in my imperfect house.. I've lacked some good neighborly communication skills.

I look out the window and she's just gotten it over to her car. So I remember "The sheets!" Run to my linen closet and get them, the run back out to tell her "Wait! Do you want the sheets to go with it?" She enthusiastically says "Yes, thank you!"

So I go back inside just to see her struggle to try to fit it in her car. I put my boots on (yeah, the first time I went in my bare feet and stepped on a thorny branch, argh! Thanks for trimming the bushes, honey!!) and went out to show her how to take it apart. I asked "Is it for you?"

She said yes, shyly, that she's due in September. I said "Congratulations!" knowing that single mom's don't get a lot of that, and I can safely say I think she's young enough to be a single mom. I asked "Do you live nearby?" She said she lives just up the road with her mom. (up the road isn't a very nice living area, actually.. we're about a mile away from there and it's a drastic difference) She thanks me for the bassinet. I'm at a loss because I feel like I should offer to help some how and I'm stumped being there in the moment. So I said "I just had a baby in January, plus I have a few other kids. If you ever want to bring your baby over to play with some kids, feel free!" She smiled and said "OK" probably thinking this woman is crazy (and she's right). And that's the best I did.

I feel happy that she was blessed with the bassinet, and I'm sure she's excited right now with a practically new bassinet for free. But I'm so frustrated that I couldn't even think of simple questions like "Is this your first? I have some extra baby clothes, would you like me to bring them by sometime?" Nope. Just.. "uuuhm...." goes through my mind.

And of course, now she may just stop by without warning!


Rissa said...

Oh Katie, this post made me burst into tears! I love it. I love it that you did that, and that the Lord was so clearly pushing you to help her. I bet she felt very blessed. Goodness, it's making my eyes tear up just thinking about it again!

I don't know why, but it's very touching!

And by the way...I just want you to know that your home is very welcoming. I don't think it would matter whether or not it was perfectly clean, or scattered with toys and whatnot. When I walk into your home, I feel comfortable, welcome, and at ease. You do a great job making your home a haven for your visitors. I think that's better than the cleanest of clean.

:) Love ya!

Sarah O said...

I do sometimes hide from the people coming door to door trying to convert me or sell me something. I never know which they are, but if I am not expecting anyone I poke my head very carefully out to try and see who is there. It's hard to see who is at my house without being seen! Usually I am not dressed either, so that makes it worse! I should at least get dressed...
Your house is lived in though, and that's okay! Better a lived in house with toys and projects and socks left in weird places then if your house was totally clean and tidy and EMPTY of children!

Arizona Bam said...

Great story...

The frustration you felt afterwards made me think of a sermon that Tara & I listened to earlier this week by Shane Hipps: Spirituality of the Cellphone

Give it a listen if you can find the time (I don't know how you do it!), I think you may be encouraged by some of the ideas he presents.

Jenna said...

First, I have the 95:5 rule. Yep, we're a disaster 95% of the time, so I think you're doing great!

Second, I am sooooo glad that you followed the promptings of the Spirit to help that girl.

When we found out we were expecting our 5th not many people were excited for us, so I'm glad you were so positive with her. It bites being on the other end.

Kristy said...

I love this post, Katie... and, girl, can I relate! As a pastor's wife with small children, it's sometimes hard for me to be "instant in season and out of season" when friend unexpectedly drop by. The Lord has been working on me in the hospitality department... it can be difficult to open wide our doors when we feel our house isn't worthy of company! I'm learning, too!

~Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

David said...

A messy home is a clear marker of where your priorities are. To me, a messy (note: messy, not filthy) living space says you'd rather invest the time in your husband, children, and the people around you than spend it working on a room's appearance. Props to you!

Enjoy being a host without the weight of vanity!! :)

Christine said...

I totally agree with David... He is so right on!

Don't beat yourself up about what you could have done. She was blessed that day because you were obedient to the Spirit... Just make sure you don't turn out the lights, and lock the door, when she comes back!