Last year I had this brilliant idea to spiff up our barn and invite our church family over for a … well … we couldn’t decide. Should we do a chili cook-off? Maybe a hymn sing? Or perhaps a barn dance? I took the idea to my pastor. He comes from a place of yes and likes ideas even more than I do – so we went with all of the above and threw the inaugural “Worship at the Barn.”
The first barn party was a total blast. But I must confess, I spent the days leading up to last year’s event worrying if people would show up. Wondering how the night would go. Fretting if it would be awkward to try to fit everything in. Hemming and hawing about every little decision.
Not this year.
I have been up to my eyeballs in work, homeschooling, helping to plan a gala, and a kitchen remodel. I figured I could manage cleaning out and decorating the barn but I turned the bulk of the organization and planning over to my friend Jim because he is no slouch when it comes to planning church-wide events.
Our family swept and cleaned the barn. We decorated with fall leaves and stacked hay bales for seating. The kids groomed the horses so our church could believe a fairy tale that horses are beautiful creatures rather than muddy beasts who manage to find every single burr on the property. My friend Tommy shoveled out our goat pen and we laid down fresh bedding to create the ambiance of a petting zoo.
We thought we were all set until I discovering muddy cat prints all over the tables where the food was going to go. This triggered a flashback to when my barn cats killed a baby bunny at the women’s dinner we recently hosted. We decided to incarcerate Oreo and Max in kitty jail for the evening. Later, we fielded protests from our guests about locking up the “poor kitties.” But I doubt anyone would find the cats very endearing if they dropped a dead mouse in the chili. Just sayin’
Family after family arrived carrying all manner of chili and dessert. Smiling faces flooded our property. Adults warmed themselves by the fire and the kids scattered to play. I loved hearing the lull of laughter and conversations throughout our property.
I typically get stressed if I can’t talk to every single person at an event I am responsible for because I don’t want anyone to feel slighted. I let that go.
I usually worry if everyone is having a good time and if they are all glad they came. I let that go.
I normally keep an eye on the food and make sure there is enough and that everyone has what they need. I let that go.
I try to make sure everyone’s kids are safe and the electric fence is off. I let that go. (Ok fine, I unplugged the fence – I am not THAT negligent.)
I try to make sure my house looks presentable and all of the toilets are flushed. I let that go.
Over 100 people were at my house and I have never been more relaxed.
I soaked in the goodness of just being with my church family. I saw generations of families together. I saw everyone pitching in to make the event a success. I saw my children laughing with their friends. I saw new connections being made. I saw old friends relaxing together. I saw my church family wrap around two Safe Families kids in attendance.
I can’t tell you how much this whole night made my heart sing.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again. We were made to be in community. I urge you to plug in to your local church. And by plug in I don’t mean attend, I mean plug in. Go to the church events and meet people. Join a small group. Volunteer. Reach out. Invite a family over for dinner. Heck, invite the whole church. (Maybe check fire codes and what not.)
No one ever accused the church of being perfect. Not mine and not yours. Still, its no wonder Christ loves the Church. These are the best people. And when we are together in fellowship and worship, its nothing short of magic.
Just like last year, this is where I am going to over-share pictures. But please don’t miss the important post script that follows. Its really all I need to tell you about the evening.
P.S. I might have brought Oreos as my dessert, but the chili that my family begged me to stop making last year because they were sooooo sick of it WON in the chili cook-off. I gloated in the most Christ-like fashion.