a distraction to hospitality~unpacking rwanda series

~unpacking rwanda, a short series of simple thoughts~

apologizing for anything in our home that the world deems as imperfect is a distraction to our hospitality.

 truth be told, if i could go back twenty plus years, this would be what i would snap out of & change. in a heartbeat. i can’t help but think of all the times i blew this one. good grief. and yet when i’m on the flip side  i want to tell the hostess who’s apologizing for the whatever ( dated appliances, unfinished decorating, mix-matched furniture, wobbly chair at the kitchen table, stain on the wrinkly slip cover…whatever the whatever may be) that it’s all okay. the very things i apologize for in my own home are things i never even notice or think about in the home of someone else. i’m just thankful for our time together. i’m just loving our friendship. i’m excited about their homemade lemonade. i’m thankful for the friend that trusts me with her heart… that’s the whatever i love.

let me break it down this way.

usually the whatever, wouldn’t be noticed anyway.

the whatever has no effect on the outcome of  time spent together.

discussing the whatever takes time away from meaningful communication.

let me make this one personal~

when i name the whatever & draw attention to the whatever, it takes away the focus of blessing my guest and places the focus on things that don’t really matter anyway. or even more convicting, myself. and hospitality isn’t about me.

i have visited homes that are on many a pinterest board. i have seen images of those homes in all their glory…and been impressed. and i have loved visiting those homes & seeing crayons all over the table and crumbs on the floor….signs of life in those homes…signs of life from people i love.

just as you would want to look your best for a family portrait, you want your home to bring its A-game if say… bh&g were showing up. but if regular folks are dropping by, without any bh&g crew to photograph your laundry room, who cares if there’s laundry all in your laundry room….or on the floor outside the laundry room! or that there’s a few stacks of laundry on your kitchen table. heaven forbid real life actually going on in your home. where you live.  the dog hair in the corners or the fact that you haven’t freshly lemon oil polished your table is really not a deal breaker. and apologizing that your humble home is humble and not a million dollar mansion takes away from it’s charm.

& let’s look at it from another angle.

what if every pillow is hand-chopped down the middle ( you know what i mean) and the drapes are freshly pressed. windows were recently professionally cleaned and all the stainless appliances are free from fingerprints…and the following is said~ “gosh my home is a wreck”…why would anyone feel comfortable here or welcome here? heaven forbid getting all comfy cozy against the well placed, too big for the chair anyway, hand-chopped down the middle pillow? not i.

i’m totally guilty of this & always have been. and you know what?  i’m not even really sure why because i love my home.  it’s a two story brick traditional which isn’t “me” but for crying out loud. who cares. and i’m totally fine with my dated (none of which are even stainless) appliances. my ikea furniture is totally doing it’s job and we’re not in debt over the pottery barn pieces that we really couldn’t afford in the first place. the perpetual dog hair on the floor is there because i have always wanted a golden and they shed. that’s why i own a swiffer. big deal.

nester says it this way, “what if you were less hard on yourself for the ways you and your home fail, and you looked instead at what’s already there? what if creating a beautiful home was less about stuff and more about attitude? what if you already have everything you need to have the home you’ve always wanted?

you don’t have to get perfect to have a pretty house. most of us simply need to learn to see the beauty in the imperfect. because life is gloriously messy. we can find rest in our less than perfect circumstance when we figure out that no amount of striving can create the perfect life we think we are looking for. true rest comes when we realize that we can’t get it from trying extra hard. we find rest when we give up”. the nesting place.

~~~

it was late in the afternoon as several of us walked down the street to visit a couple of our new friends in their newly acquired homes. having been victims of property theft in rwanda, their lawyers at IJM had recently won their cases! these widows were now in homes again. they walk “around the corner” to their workplace. their children come by on their way home from school. the school these mamas are able to send their children to because they are earning a sustainable wage. as we walked i glanced over my shoulder to see the words ” in god we trust” outside one of their neighbors homes. i smiled thinking to myself thinking about the fact that a country once torn apart, trusts.  the women were so joyous as we walked in. i don’t think i’ve ever felt more welcomed! we sat with them and listened to their stories. solange radiates joy as she greets us. teresa beamed as we fussed over the portrait of her and her beloved. we held hands & prayed over them. pinterest was never mentioned. instead, only how special our time was together and how thankful we each were for the other.

that very afternoon, they taught me hospitality at it’s finest.

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“he is happiest, be it king or peasant, who finds peace in  his home” van goethe

(to see the first in this series, begin here.)

July 31, 2014 - 10:35 am

Rachel - Bravo Paige K! You are an ambassador for us all. I love your words, spirit and reflections. Keep it up–it’s so impactful! Thank you

July 31, 2014 - 11:48 am

Lemonade Makin Mama - that was incredibly WELL said my friend and I love it and LIVE it. I love a tidy home and it’s normally pretty close to what I show in photos but with signs of life of course… and I gave up apologizing years ago because of these very reasons. I love to clean but I’m far from perfect and that’s just awesome because it’s the imperfection that people relate to, not the perfection. Gotta love, embrace and build on that. Wish I’d know that truth deep down when I was a new bride killing myself to impress. What amazing moments captured on camera too… you just shine!

July 31, 2014 - 1:16 pm

chrissi - paige, i love your work. it amazes. these photos from rwanda are beyond it all. these woman shine. the children are priceless. there is something so pure about these families. such generosity. love. and i just have to say how beautifully happy you look.♥

July 31, 2014 - 1:26 pm

Ashley Nolan - Paige-
I just love this! Thanks so much for sharing.
Ashley Nolan

July 31, 2014 - 1:29 pm

Michelle - Well said Paige! And just the reminder that I needed to hear!

July 31, 2014 - 2:54 pm

Louise - I had to find a measure of rest after lay offs and drops in income and house value going down down down all at the same time and we foreclosed. Along with MANY MANY around here. We didn’t have a fancy home but had ripped up the carpet and put in tile, had ripped out the sliding door that I loathed and put in inexpensive french doors that I loved. I had painted each room etc. I am a VERY visual person, I will be horribly honest, I DO notice decor and flooring and lighting etc in others homes, I DO. I don’t judge them or really care, but I notice, and I LOVE beautiful homes. I never would have told you that I would be ok with a rental with blue carpet and a sliding door and VERTICAL BLINDS (EEEK) and I think I can honestly say that I AM. At first it was an I JUST DON’T CARE (but I DID) attitude. I couldn’t look at decoratng books or HGTV or decorating blogs very much for quite a while. Now I CAN, it isn’t a forced I DON’T CARE. IT is a real I AM OK.

Wouldn’t recommend losing a home you have put countless hours in to painting kitchen cabinets or anything, and this is not a sob story. We never saved anywhere near as much as we should have to tide us through such a difficult financial time (I’d buy house stuff instead of saving) . .. but it has been a lesson. That is for sure. And I can HONESTLY say at this point, not a HORRIBLE lesson. I’d still like to own a home but financially doubt that will ever happen again . .. and I can enjoy looking at the homes of others again now.

Well that was all about me, wasn’t it.:)

I see how much Caroline looks like you in these photos. Lovely.

July 31, 2014 - 4:42 pm

Rebecca - This is something the Lord has JUST begun teaching me. Thank you for unpacking it more and sharing your wisdom. It’s so encouraging to me!!

Also…I woke up thinking about you this morning, wishing we could have spent more time together in Rwanda. I loved talking with you at dinner that night!

July 31, 2014 - 4:51 pm

Nancy - So well said!

July 31, 2014 - 7:24 pm

Susan W - Beautiful people within your beautiful photographs!! Thank you

July 31, 2014 - 8:49 pm

Heidi - Wow you hit it right on the head!!!!! I find myself doing this all the time-apologizing for something in my house that 99% of my guests would never notice. Thank you for the reminder to be a gracious host and keep the focus on friends and our special relationships. Thank you for sharing your journey and inspirational stories from Rwanda. It has been amazing to read about these women and their families.

August 1, 2014 - 5:36 am

Jackie - Dearest Paige

I’ve commented before but it needs to be said again: I love your heart.

This message has so blessed and encouraged me. I’ve long not allowed people in my home because I’ve felt it so inadequate, but in truth, I felt inadequate. The Lord has been speaking to me for some time now about hospitality – which my heart actually yearns for! – and your blog post was just another gentle reminder that I’m moving in the right direction. Because in truth it’s not the things in our houses that makes a home beautiful, but our hearts. I’m focusing on that as I host a gathering of friends this weekend.

Big hug special lady