Hospitality with Humility

(Note: names changed to protect the innocent!)

Yesterday shortly after noon, I had a friend drop by. We’ll call her Annie. She was coming by to pick up something little, so I wasn’t sure whether she’d actually come in to the house or just run to the door, grab the aforementioned item, and leave quickly. Well, given her two little cherubs think our dog (we’ll call him Kid) is very cool, she voted for getting them out of the car and heading into the house.

Before I begin this next paragraph, you must understand that in keeping with my pride, I generally like my house to look a certain way when people come over. I like it to look nice for us but that desire is almost always heightened when the potential for company is on the horizon. I imagine many people feel this way, but I might be worse than most.

Well, as Annie and crew crossed the threshold into the House of Thorne I warned them in no uncertain terms that my home was potentially in danger of being declared a disaster area. (It is probably unkind of me to use such terminology given the recent devastation Claudette has brought to the Texas coast.)

Truthfully, though, it was indeed, ahem, untidy, to put it mildly. I had just returned from a mammoth Target trip and hadn’t put much of anything away yet. So the counters and kitchen table and even some of the floor were filled with groceries. The dishwasher was clean but not emptied so there was an accumulation of dirty dishes strewn across the counters near the sink. Then there was the little issue of the chocolate chip cookie bars I’d baked the evening before for Small Group. I made them last thing before it was time to leave for church, then I’d been away after group was over and didn’t return home till after midnight so doing dishes was not high on my priority list. The laundry I had earlier taken the time to fold had since fallen (or been thrown from) the love seat so it was decorating the living room floor. Meanwhile, my two eldest (we’ll call them Abishag and Nathan joe) had gotten out every board game we own and littered the dining table with them. They were all in varying states of being played. Lastly, the baby (we’ll refer to him as Nicolai) had contributed to the general state of chaos by plucking most of the magnetic letters off the fridge door.

Ok, I know I’m not making it sound as impressively awful as it was, but you have to trust me, it was bad, VERY VERY BAD!! However, I had just made a fresh pot of coffee which smelt very wonderful. So, as our friends made their way through the danger zone, tripping on target bags and magnetic letters, I meekly offered Annie a cup of coffee. She very bravely accepted and although we had to push aside the discarded mixer from the previous evening in order to prepare our coffees, they were warm and tasty nonetheless. Meanwhile, the previously mentioned Abishag and Nathan Joe offered to share their new toys (Viewmasters and slides purchased just minutes before at “The Target”) with their visiting friends. After picking myself up off the floor from the shock, I turned back to Annie and the two us had a good conversation in the midst of the mess. Our friends stayed on for the better part of an hour and a half and it was a lovely visit. For the most part: there was one little incident involving blood but nobody had to go to the emergency room!

I learned something in all this: if one can swallow their pride it is possible, even with a very messy casa, to extend hospitality to those who knock at your door. Being brave enough to allow Annie to enter the abominably untidy House of Thorne yielded a wonderful time together over coffee which, while offered humbly, was received warmly. I was immensely thankful for friends who accept me, my progeny and my house the way they are. What a blessing.

Look Out Folks!

He wears Thomas pants, carries a purse and loves his HoneyDude. His name is Jonathan and he is making waves around the Horne household.

As Jonathan is our middle child, I am perhaps more concerned about making certain he is not lost somewhere between the oldest and the youngest. So I try to encourage and applaud his progress where I can. He is a delightful little boy who is passionate about everything he does. This entry will be devoted to chronicling some of his newest interests, accomplishments and cute little sayings which made us giggle.

For the past couple weeks Jonathan has worked very hard at learning to use the potty. His promised reward? The coveted Thomas the tank engine underpants purchased at “The Target” which he now wears proudly (and keeps dry!!). We are very excited about his progress in this area and think he is doing stupendously!

Given his older sister’s collections of things girlie, Jonathan has shown an interest in toys and pasttimes outside the realm of “normal” boy interests. Just as Abigail loves to play with trains and cars and the like, Jonathan finds that wearing big floppy hats and carrying gold lame handbags is just part of being a kid. To hear him exclaim, “Wait, I forgot my purse!” before we head somewhere in the car gives his Daddy fits but I find it rather amusing.

Earlier in the week we had a new kind of melon with our supper. The kids really enjoyed it; we usually have cantaloupe or watermelon around here so this green version was a nice change. But imagine our surprise when Jonathan politely asked, “Please have more honeyDUDE!!”

Tonight as I was singing him his requisite “Five Little Ducks” song before I tucked him in, I have to admit I sort of cheated and went from “5” to “3” to “1”. It was late and the kids should’ve been in bed much earlier but we attended a church service tonight and so returned home past their bedtime. Anyway, as I was singing my abridged version of his bedtime song and neared the end, he interrupted me with “Mommy, can you please sing ALL the ducks?” Smart kid.

“Church” at the Hornes’

This morning while Nicolas napped, Abigail and Jonathan looked for something to do to amuse themselves. Their request for a video was denied, and their creative game of “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” as reenacted on our living room sofa, met with Mommy’s disapproval. So they put their minds to recreating yesterday’s church service, as seen through the eyes of a preschooler and a toddler. It will probably be insightful for you to know that at Town North we use instruments of widely varying types in our worship service, so our kids have been exposed to everything from organs to guitars, violins to tympani.

Out came the Fisher Price instruments: drums, maracas, xylophones, tambourines. Abigail (the leader) announced, “First, we sing the Gloria Patri!” Which they proceeded to do, in very loud voices, while they marched enthusiastically around our living area, through the foyer and back through the dining room. This was accompanied by much banging of the aforementioned percussive instruments. Suddenly, “Time to pray!” ordered the rather bossy older sister. Four little feet scurried to stand at the edge of the dining table, where with bowed heads they recited the Lord’s Prayer together. Then it was back to singing again. After insisting they each acquire new instruments for making noise, Abigail led them in a very grand version of the Doxology, complete with Hallelujahs throughout, more hearty marching and the cacophony of various instrumentation. Immediately following this second song, it was time again to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

This pattern went on for about 20 minutes: loud singing of various songs while rhythmically beating little instruments, always followed by a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Until finally, perhaps tuckered out from so much singing and praying, little Jonathan meekly asked, “Can I go to nursery now?”

Meanwhile, Back On the Home Front…

I had all but decided not to bother blogging about our week at home whilst Jay was in China, but his teaser on an earlier entry has left me no choice but to give an account. Plus I have had several inquiries from folks who are curious about my experiences during the China week. This then is an attempt to satisfy those curiosities!

Firstly however, I would like to politely disagree with Jay’s assessment of who had the harder week. Though ours was certainly momentous and hard in many ways, I do not believe he had the easier of the two times given he was in a foreign land, eating foreign duck feet, etc. When I think of my poor sick husband, thousands of miles away from home, sick and alone in his hotel room, worrying that he had come down with SARS and would not be able to leave China! Now that is stress!! I on the other hand had the support and presence of family and friends close at hand during our various little experiences. And even more importantly, despite the hardships during our week, I felt an overall sense of peace about everything, which in light of what happened, is quite amazing and none other than a tremendous blessing from the hand of God.

But, having made these disclaimors I will now attempt to greatly try your patience as I recount in detail the events of our week! To start things off nice and easy, I made the decision to go on a 240 mile road trip that we might attend our new niece’s baptism in Minco, OK. It seemed a grand undertaking (at least to me) to drive three kids by myself up to attend the church service early Sunday morning but we were really excited about seeing Charis baptized and the kids were ready to go and very thrilled at the prospect of visiting with their cousins. Though we had little sleep the night before on account of wakeups and power outages, I did get a couple solid hours and we had a fairly uneventful drive up except for bad storms the first hour. We arrived 45 minutes before the service began so we had time to change, and enjoy a small snack. Everyone that is except Abigail, who began telling me that she wasn’t feeling well, and judging by her refusal to eat food I guessed she was right. But on to church we went.

Everyone’s a Critic!

A bit earlier today, I was changing Jonathan’s diaper before his afternoon nap. I happened to be singing something to him (as I often do around here!) when he interrupted me in midsong with,

“Please don’t sing Mommy…it give me bad dreams.”

Incredulous, I replied, “Oh, don’t worry Jonathan, I don’t think my singing will cause you to have bad dreams.” And continued on with my song….

To which he insisted, “No, Mommy, please don’t sing anymore…I don’t want the bad dreams!”

Tough crowd around here!!

Rice Owls!


I realize I’m late in posting this, but the Rice Owls have won their first national title in any sport! This is no small feat given that Rice is the smallest of all NCAA Division I schools and has the highest graduation rate of all NCAA Division I schools.

Go Rice!