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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hospitality (02/07/05)

TITLE: As Long as there are no Catastrophes...
By Lynne Gaunt


Tim strode into the kitchen and examined the list taped to the refrigerator. He made a mark about halfway down the page. “Garbage out. Check.” He announced cheerfully. “I guess I’ll shovel the snow off the driveway next.”

“Good idea, and Kristen’s working on the bathroom.” Nicole looked out the window, then at the clock, then at their list. “We have about an hour before our guests arrive, I think that gives us enough time, don’t you?” There was a hint of worry in her voice.

“Plenty, as long as there are no catastrophes.” Tim gave her a smile and a wink from under his wooly cap. Minutes later Nicole could hear the sounds of his shovel scraping the pavement.

Tonight’s events would be a first for their family. Nicole and Tim had agreed to host a monthly meal to welcome new members from their church. They were nervous about how the evening would go, and wanted everything to be perfect.

The chickens were roasting. The potatoes were peeled. The Pastor’s wife would bring the dessert - all Nicole had left to do was prepare a salad… “Oh, and vacuum.” She thought, noticing the condition of her living room carpet.

She glanced at the clock, put the potatoes on to boil, and peeked at the chicken. Deciding it wasn’t cooking fast enough, she increased the oven temperature.

Quickening her pace, she headed toward the living room. Rounding the corner, she collided with her daughter, who was carrying a glass still half full of chocolate milk. Both mother and daughter lost their balance and the glass fell to the floor. On impact, the contents sprayed out of the glass covering Nicole’s blouse and splattering the wall and the carpet.

“Oh! Sorry Mom! I was taking that to the kitchen to dump it. I’ll go get some rags.” Kristen was apologetic and eager to set things right.

Nicole kept her temper, it had been just an accident. But at the same time she was beginning to feel very anxious about the evening. Together they cleaned up the mess, and Nicole expressed her concern.

“We’re supposed to be welcoming people into God’s family, but after coming to our house, I’m thinking we might actually scare them away.” Nicole was deflated. “Nothing is going as I’d hoped.”

“It’ll be OK Mom. I’ve been praying about it.” Kristen tried to sound cheerful.

“You’re right. I shouldn’t worry so much. God is in control – thanks for reminding me.” Just as Nicole reached out to give her daughter a quick squeeze, the smoke alarm went off. They both jumped.

“The potatoes!!”

Racing into the kitchen, they saw smoke rising from the pan that had boiled dry. Without thinking Nicole reached for the handle, but it was too hot, and in her haste to release it, the pan went crashing to the floor.

Tim came back to a chaotic scene. His wife was kneeling and sobbing as she wiped the floor. Kristen was shivering by several open windows fanning the air with a dishtowel. He looked at the stovetop where a couple of pitiful, dry, wrinkled chickens sat, still sizzling.

The family pulled together to tidy up the mess just as the first of their guests were pulling into the driveway. They’d managed to clear the smoke and close the windows, but their meal was in ruins.

“Look.” Tim said, gathering his family around him, “When we volunteered to do this, we weren’t trying to impress, we just wanted to share the love of Jesus with others, right?” He looked tenderly at his loved ones, who nodded and smiled weakly. “Do you think we can still do that?”

The family prayed a simple petition asking God to redeem the evening.

Nicole’s face brightened a little, “I do have several cheese pizzas in the freezer. Maybe we could doctor them up with some toppings…”

“I like pizza better than chicken anyway.” Kristen piped up.

“That’s the spirit!” Tim said.

As the guests were greeted, each was offered a knife and a space at the counter. Soon they were all busy chopping up toppings for their pizzas, while Nicole and Tim related the events of their day. The anxiety and distress melted away as laughter and casual conversation flowed easily around the room.

“This turned out much better than a fancy meal would have.” Nicole whispered to her husband.

“I guess God had something else in mind,” Tim grinned. “Glad he’s calling the shots!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Deikun02/21/05
This was a cute little story and its something we can all relate to. Nicely written. You bring the message home at the end and focus on what's important.I like that the family pulled together - that may be the part that's fiction...
Debbie OConnor03/01/05
This is a sweet, well-written story. I really enjoyed it.
neil deo03/05/05
Hi Lynne Gaunt, I finally made time to read one of your many excellent articles. This one on hospitality brings the big and small pictures together very neatly and usefully. Easier said than done: God needs our focus and mindfulness, not our things, or to be impressed in other ways. I will try to keep this beautiful lesson with me,
Thanks -- Neil Deo