Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Born out of Loneliness

Gary and I have been married since 1986, and for the first fourteen years of our marriage, we lived less than an hour away from his parents, my grandparents, and a few other extended family members.  Living so close, of course, meant that we always spent holidays with family.  Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and even birthday celebrations found us surrounded by many loved ones.  They were lovely days, filled with laughter and sweet memories. 



In May, 2000, however, Gary and I and our two children left Florida and made the cross-country move to Boise, Idaho. With thousands of miles between our loved ones and us, spending holidays with them was no longer possible. In fact, we haven't spent a single holiday with family since Christmas 1999, which means holidays can often be lonely and somewhat depressing. For several years, we whined about not being with family during the holidays, but we eventually realized that the best thing to do when you are lonely and sad and missing someone is to take your eyes off yourselves and reach out to others. Which is exactly what we did.

Two Thanksgivings found our family of four serving at the Idaho State Veterans' Home. We served a meal to the veterans and just spent time chatting with the men. It was a beautiful experience.  Other Thanksgivings, we invited neighbors and church friends to join us.

At Christmas, we began looking around for other families who were also far from loved ones, and we invited them to share in a Christmas Eve feast at our house. We opened our door to people we knew well and some we didn't---a co-worker of Gabrielle's; an older couple from our then-church; former neighbors; families whose children Gabrielle taught in Sunday School (but who Gary and I had never met). One time, we even invited a young man none of us had ever even laid eyes on until the moment he showed up at our door Christmas Eve---he was a new arrival in town, the friend of a Florida friend's daughter. Every single gathering was filled with joy and laughter and abundant blessings.

Our heart for reaching out to others and sharing a meal with them began with Thanksgiving and Christmas, then it was Memorial Day, then Easter, then the 4th of July. It wasn't long until it became what it is now---an open door any day of the year. We simply love opening our home to others, sharing a meal together, and extending the love of Jesus to them.

Although born out of loneliness and the longing for family, God had so much more in mind.  If you are feeling lonely with the holiday season on the very near horizon, why not look around for others who are missing their loved ones too.  Invite them over to share a meal around your table.  I'm sure you will be abundantly blessed by doing so!


14 comments:

  1. You are encouraging me at this crossroads between full house and empty nest. There is no season of life God cannot use for his glory!

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    1. Amen, Michele! God can use us in any season of life we are in!!

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  2. Beautiful! Beautiful!

    Oh the vet's home...and the elderly couple...Just perfect. All of it, just perfect.

    In reaching out to others our needs are truly met too. It's so wonderful how God works.

    Hugs to you, great entry! ~Amelia

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    1. Amelia, the veteran's home was a real blessing to us. It was very sad to see so many who had served our country lonely and sad at Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for visiting!

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  3. Patti, we have done the same thing here. We rarely have family down for the big holidays and have so enjoyed opening our door to others. It is such a blessing for us, and I hope for others!

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    1. Oh, Terri, I'm sure you and Joe are a blessing to many. And with so many "snowbirds" in your community, there are probably man who don't have family nearby.

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  4. I admit I'm concerned how we're going to do our holiday gatherings this year. :( We've been able to do outside meals with my inlaws and extended family during the summer, but I don't know how we'll be able to do that this winter. Praying for creative ways to still gather safely!

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    1. Lisa, I feel that the emotional/mental harm being caused by being isolated from people is just as damaging as the possible physical harm of the virus. Which is why I'm going out of town (by plane) to visit my parents this week. It's the second time I will have seen them since covid started. Us not seeing each other may be more harmful than any disease we MIGHT get by way of travel. I realize not all people feel that way, but my parents do, so they want me to visit.

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  5. Very inspiring, Patti. I'm sure you have been a gift to many and many will have treasured memories for a life-time due to your open door.

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    1. The cool thing, Lynn, is that I am seeing my married daughter embrace the open door policy in her own home. She was raised with that philosophy, and now she and her husband are doing it themselves.

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  6. Patti, this is beautiful, my husband and I are empty nesters and were hoping to begin a similar ministry, but I must admit in the current pandemic, I am a bit saddened that may not be possible. The time for outside gatherings in my area is fast fading, definitely need to think of a creative approach. I fear more people than ever may be lonely this coming holiday season, surely there must be a way to meet this need.

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    1. Donna, I realize that many people are anxious about gathering with others, but I know just as many people who are not. I will extend any invitation with the caveat that we will be indoors (too cold to be outside) and without masks. I will be sure to make clear that if they aren't comfortable gathering like that, that it won't hurt my feelings if they decline.

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