Going from 3,000 square feet to 835 was a big change for Michael and me. Our new place was cozy for a young couple, but it certainly wasn't conducive to large parties or roaring summer barbecues.
Before we had kids I hosted a few small events at our house. We probably maxed out at about 8 people, but with the arrival of our two children having guests over seemed like an impossible plan.
I was self-conscious about the size of our home from the start. I wanted wide open spaces so that guests would feel like they could relax. Our tight quarters made me feel closed in.
A few years ago, I shared my concerns with a friend who encouraged me to have some women over for brunch even though I felt like our house was too small. She convinced me that a group of eight women could fit comfortably for a meal, so I decided to take her advice and host a brunch for friends.
Needless to say, it was a lovely morning. It turned out to be a time of some really sweet fellowship and bonding. I worked really hard to clean and decorate the house, and everyone brought delicious food to share. I felt really proud of our little house and I really enjoyed being hostess for the morning.
I have always loved cooking and learned so much from my Italian grandma. She put a lot of effort into every meal and taught me to never waste a thing. I am an epic fail at dessert, but I love making main dishes. I truly get sense of joy from cooking. Can you relate?
After the successful brunch, I decided that we could handle a few dinner parties, which were really fun (with the exception of the one when the dessert went completely awry).
After we had children, however, I realized that our days of hosting three-course dinner parties was officially over. Honestly, my daughter's high chair took up so much space that we barely had room to eat. It was a sad realization, but we knew it wouldn't be forever so we figured that someday we would open up our home again, just not today (or this year).
But I soon realized that I couldn't cut myself off from the world because of the size of my house. Fellowship would look different once again, but it wouldn't be non-existent.
This past fall, I decided to start inviting other young moms and their kids over for breakfast, especially women who I was trying to get to know at our new church. I made breakfast and we all ate together while cartoons played in the background and babies crawled around playing with toys.
My point? Community, hospitality, and fellowship doesn't look the same in every season of life, but they are necessary and encouraging to the soul no matter how they happen. And sometimes you'll need to fight for them.
Life with kids looks way different now and I'm sure those of you who don't have kids yet are probably working through the opposite challenge of trying to be accommodating to friends who do. Friendships come and go and sometimes change like seasons, but leaving margin to invest in others yields a lifetime of benefits. For one thing, it takes the focus off of you and puts it on someone else. It also models an attitude of looking outward to the needs of others and being willing to share what you have. Best of all, linking arms with others in community means that we don't have to go it alone.
So, step out friend. Host that party or playgroup. Meet that stylish new neighbor and talk paint samples. Let the neighbor kids play flashlight tag in your backyard. And if you do host that intimate brunch, below is a little recipe for you (wink).
Tara's Super Easy Bean Salad
OK, so most of this is out of a can, but you probably have a lot of these ingredients on hand so it will be easy to toss this together on the fly.
1 can black beans (rinsed + drained)
1 can of sweet corn (drained)
1 can of garbanzo beans (rinsed + drained)
I medium yellow onion (chopped)
1 can of Trader Joe's (or other brand) roasted red tomatoes with green chilis (drained)
Chipotle Vinaigrette (a brand of your choosing)
Texas Pete (for heat)
Directions: Combine cans of black beans, corn, garbanzo beans, and roasted tomatoes. Add onion. Chop about 1/3 a cup of cilantro and add. For flavor, I add about 4 tablespoons of my favorite chipotle vinaigrette, lime, sea salt, and a few drops of Texas Pete for a little heat. I basically eyeball the salt and lime juice and continue to add to taste preference.
Serve with chips or as a side dish. Enjoy!