Sunday, December 15, 2013

Of Stretch Marks and Holly Cakes

It was Friday night, and I felt like my battery had been drained by the week. My heart had no more room at the inn. I'd had people in my house all week, ranging from a friend I've known all my life but too rarely get to see to a sweet sister in Christ from Thessaloniki, Greece, and her boss -- both of whom were complete strangers to me until they walked through my door for tea. (Kind of a long story). And various others as well -- all dear, all precious image-bearers of Christ -- but all requiring emotional energy from me, and I had little left to give. I wanted to curl up in a corner of my bedroom and just read a book and let the world go by.

My heart was feeling its stretch marks. It's not comfortable to override your thwarted desire for a perfect home and instead invite people into your imperfect heart. But those words rang in my ears and memory all week, and would not let me go.

I looked ahead to Saturday and knew that more stretching awaited. For weeks we'd been saying to each other that we really should have our new next door neighbors over for tea, but on Thursday night, Caroline caught me off-guard and wrote a note --

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. King, we would verry [sic] much like it if you would come to tea tomoro [sic] at 4:00 p.m." 

-- and on Friday morning at 7:30, she was pulling on her fuzzy slippers and running down the stairs and out the door to slip her note through their mail slot. At 8:30, our slot flapped open and a festive-looking envelope fluttered to the floor. They would be delighted to accept.


By 4:00 Saturday afternoon, I'd slept in and then done some errands in city centre and come home to tidy the house. Promptly at 4:00, in true British form, the Kings knocked on our door, bearing warm smiles and a tray of hollycakes, which Mrs. King has made every year at Christmastime with her four children, who are grown now and mostly gone from home. It's a bit nerve-racking to serve tea to native Englishpeople, but we just laughed at ourselves and did our best, and they were nothing but lovely. We talked about the farm they had just left after twenty-five years, and saw photos from their daughter's wedding, and compared notes on the perils of driving in a foreign country.

It occurred to me that left to my own devices, I might have let weeks or months more slide by with the best of intentions toward our neighbors but with no real effort at relationship. But God, who loves people enough to run to us as a Father and be born unto us as a baby, is sneaky enough to use my eight year old against my passive quasi-hermit of a self.  Being saved through childbearing takes on many forms. I don't always love them, but I do give true thanks for them.


  1. <3 Loved so many things about this post. And the last line sealed the deal. Thanks for another great post.

    1. "But sneaky enough to use my eight year old against my passive quasi-hermit of a self." Lovely. Brava to Caroline! And good job, Hannah. :)

  2. Loved this post...Thanks for this adorable post!!!

  3. Lovely. And I'm sort of dying for the recipe for those hollycakes!