The Open-Door Policy

It’s one of the first things you see when you walk up to my door.

Welcome, it says. You are welcome in my home. It’s not simply a doormat, it’s a message. An offering. An invitation.

Ever since I got married, I have enjoyed making a home. I have enjoyed nesting and decorating and keeping my house. Much like my mother, I put a lot of thought into the colors, fabrics and pieces I have chosen. Creamy latte colored walls and light sheer curtains to enhance a brighter, cheerier atmosphere. A gallery wall full of family pictures – faces of those nearest and dearest to our hearts. What I have referred to as my “investment throw pillows” add a perfect measure of elegance and color to our dark leather sofas. Sprinklings of flowers and deer antlers reflecting the merging of Todd and me and our differences within our marriage. And words on our walls that have special meaning for us – He gives us more grace. It is well with my soul. Home sweet Home. Love. Gratitude. Family.

Our home is not large or extravagant and really can’t handle the crowds of people I’ve had here for parties, but it is full of warmth of love and I dearly love my nest and the home I’ve made for my family.

When Todd and I were engaged and dreaming about our lives together, we talked about wanting to have an open-door policy. The people who had made the biggest impact in our lives were those who we felt like their home was always open. We could always stop by, we were always welcome and they always had time for us. We both desired to have a life together that wasn’t so busy or full of activity that we didn’t have time for people. That if someone showed up on a random Tuesday night in need of a meal or just someone to talk to, that we would be there and you would be welcome to come in and share an evening with us. We wanted to create that together in our life, for our children, for our children’s friends, for neighbors and in ministry to others.

We have lost sight of that a little bit in the ten years we have been married. Our schedules have not necessarily been busy, but our door hasn’t always been open. These days, we’ve shut off the lights and turned on Netflix to numb out, because there is so much in our life right now that just feels hard. We have been hurt by people, and we have done some of the hurting too. We have been struggling and trying to recover in more ways than one from my illness and surgery earlier this year.

Ministry – loving people, taking time for people, and letting someone in– when your life, your heart and your living room are a complete mess, takes effort and vulnerability.

It’s easier to hide away than to expose the realities of your life to others that are messy. It is hard to keep an open door when so much of you wants to remain closed off.

On top of life’s difficulties and inconveniences, we recently made the extremely difficult to decision to leave our church home. There was an exponential amount of tears and heartache with the circumstances revolving around our leaving, and it came almost a year after all of our friends had made the same decision – I remember sharing that in my first post here at Red Tent Living. In the last year, so much changed within our community of friends and the people we were used to doing life with, and it left us to reevaluate relationships, ministry and the places God was and has been calling us to.

Now as we are looking for a new church home, both Todd and I have expressed the same desire to find a church body close to home, right where God has planted us. We hope that our boys can grow up with friends who may go to the same school or at least live only a few minutes away. And where if we needed to take a meal or visit someone in the hospital, we would only be up the road. We could finally tell others to drop in anytime, that our door is always open. We have had hope in our grief and starting over again. Maybe we could love on people the way that God has gifted us and put on our hearts from the very beginning.

I think God has an open-door policy too. He always has time for us. The light is always on. It’s always safe to go inside and be ourselves. We can be angry or sad, self-absorbed, or living in complete sin. He’ll still let us in, offer us Himself and make us feel welcome. He will let us cry and He will listen, and He may even convict us or give us a stern talking to. I have experienced God like that for myself and I want others to know more of Him because I’ve decided to open my door.

Our open-door policy:
· You are welcome in our home.
· It is safe to be here. Relax. Kick off your shoes, or leave them on. Just be comfortable.
· There is always something for you to eat, to drink. Make yourself at home. What’s mine is yours.
· Please excuse the mess – the Legos and the lightsabers and my dusty shelves. This is real life for us, and things aren’t always tidy. Or clean.
· Share. Share a story, a cup of coffee, good news, tears, a good laugh, a struggle.
· And please come back. Anytime. You are welcome in our home.

Deeply rooted in South Texas, Jennifer Stamness is a sunshine-lover, wife and mother to two young boys. She enjoys creating beauty in places like writing, music, decorating and throwing parties. She desires to follow Jesus into the unknown places He invites her to and is thankful for His abundant and amazing grace. Jennifer writes, dreams and shares pieces of her story here.