I met Gindi in the front yard at my turquoise table. She was in Austin for business and dropped by one day after her meetings. Gindi and her family — she’s the mama of triplets — put a turquoise table in their front yard last November. At the time, they didn’t know a single neighbor. Determined to change that, her family started a simple neighborhood gathering at the turquoise table called Monthly Mondays. Gindi’s story reminds us to be brave and that God created us to be in community and live as Front Yard People.
I first heard Kristin’s story at Allume last October. I didn’t go to have my life upended. Truth be told, I went to see some of my best blogging girlfriends that live all over the country.
The theme of the conference was hospitality. I’m actually good at pretty hospitality. You know, the kind where there are color palettes and champagne flutes and Crane invitations and months of obsessive planning. That’s the perfectionist in me. The one who really cares what people think about me.
I’m not so great at messy hospitality. You know, the only kind you’re capable of offering when you birth triplets. Then all your hostess-with-the-mostess goes down the tubes. You just work and come home and try really hard to button your pants and pin your broken necklaces back together and get the peanut butter out of your once rational-to-own suede pumps.
But then I heard Shauna Niequist say this at Allume, “People should leave feeling better about themselves than they do about you.”
Then I went and heard Kristin (and Sarah Harmeyer) talk about putting a table outside and inviting people to come. Kristin went nuts and painted hers turquoise and put it in her front yard.
Outside felt like a place where I could start practicing messy hospitality. Authentic hospitality. The kind where there’s virtually no planning. The kind where I actually met the people who live around me.
So I have a crazy picnic table in my front yard now.
Yes, that’s a turquoise, kelly green, and cocoa brown picnic table.
One day, I will write the story of how God opened doors to actually get an unfinished $88 Lowe’s table to my front door so my triplets and I could paint it on a Saturday (in colors they chose) to have the families on my street over two days later. How Kristin, who I hadn’t even met yet, ended up praying for that table at the moment when I first hosted my neighbors. (Y’all, God is AUDACIOUS!)
Can I tell you this has nothing to do with me? I am a scaredy-cat. I want to make-a-good-show. I am an introvert. I didn’t actually WANT to meet my neighbors because I was comfortable coming home after work and hanging out with my family and then doing it all over again.
So if you read these stories here on Kristin’s blog and think, “oh that’s nice for them, but I could NEVER do that,” then please meet me.
I was completely freaked out by “what will people think.” The trio and I walked up and down my street on Saturday morning and put flyers in everyone’s mailbox inviting them to come to “the table” for Monthly Mondays. The first of which would be the very next Monday with pizza and drinks. I was WILDLY uncomfortable standing in my front yard with my kids at 5 pm wondering if anyone would come.
But this is what God made more uncomfortable for me: I’d lived on a busy street in west Houston for eight years and I didn’t know anyone that lived around me. All of the 15 flyers I passed out on either side and across from my house went to people whose names I didn’t know and whose stories I’d never heard. God made that unacceptable and He proposed this as the solution. I felt like I was going to throw up as soon as we delivered those flyers.
So there we stood, in the front yard, with ten boxes of pizza, a big cooler of water bottles and juice boxes, and a bowl of name tags.
Six families came. Y’all, out of fifteen houses, SIX whole families came. Twelve kids played in the front tire swing and gobbled cookies one of the neighbors had brought “to the table.” I could have cried. In one hour, six families on a busy street in a big city met each other and shared stories.
We told everyone this table was theirs too. That our house could be a place they were always welcome. I want my kids to know that our space has been entrusted to us to share with others.
This February was our Fourth Monthly Monday and we’re still meeting new people. My church, oh y’all, my church is going to be community building and gave away FORTY-SIX tables last Sunday for members to put in their front yards.
I’ve been trying to survive with work and triplets and a maze of schedules and competing demands, but I have to show my kids life can’t all be rushed and hurried and we MUST NOT hide out behind our four walls. We have to clear out some of the clutter and make time for community.
That’s what we’re missing. That’s what we need more of: Community. I hope God calls you to join us as Front Yard People. Be the Light on your Street.
Gindi Vincent is a wife and mother to five year old triplets. She is an author, speaker, and energy attorney, but way more important than all that stuff, she is a woman begging Jesus to use her on her street, in her office, in her church, in her city. To hear Him say at the end of it all, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” She blogs over at gindivincent.com where you are welcome anytime.
Sabra Penley says
Kristin and Gindi…Oh goodness. Please pray for me. I live in an apartment complex and have three other doors steps away. I know my neighbor right across. Am friendly with my upstairs neighbor. But there are many others I’ve never met. I see people–say hi and wave–all the time. The same people…parked next to my car…every day. I wonder how many of them feel bad that they don’t know their neighbors any more than I do? I wonder how many are embarrassed to knock on a door because we’ve seen each other and lived so close to each other for so long and don’t even know each other’s names? Even if they don’t–I do.
I want to have the courage to step out in bold faith, knowing God’s hand is moving my uncomfortable soul to reach out and love my neighbors. A turquoise table? I don’t know. But I am praying–for wisdom, creativity, boldness.
Thank you both for your amazing stories. They are a powerful inspiration! You are making a difference in your own community–by building community.
Sabra, every single word you’ve written resonates with me. Whether we are in suburban houses, inner-city condos, sprawling ranch land — no matter our dwelling we were created by God to live with one another in community. So grateful for the desire in your heart and will join you in prayer for wisdom, creativity and boldness as you take the next step to meet your neighbors.
Did you know my story began with a dare? I kinda needed that double-dog dare to motivate me… well, that and the Holy Spirit. It was a dare I read in the book A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester that says: “Don’t start with a big program. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Begin by opening your home for community. . . all you have to do is open your home and begin.” ~ Francis Schaeffer
Brandi S says
Thank you so much for writing this! I stumbled upon this blog from another blog and oh my goodness! This is my heart! We moved from the country to the suburbs almost one year ago. We barely know any neighbors and no one around here is “front yard people”. There are kids in three of the neighbors houses that my kids don’t even know and have only seen walking in and out of their homes. The other day, I was crying out to God. You see, we moved here for community. But we have none. We know no one. And the Lord asked me why I expected people to just knock on my door and be my community. I need to do the work to develop community. And I’ve been wondering how. This is how! I just texted my husband, begging to buy a Lowes table and a can of turquoise paint. A bunch of flowers and a boatload of Little Ceasers. Some ice and a case of water. Thank you! I’m praying my antisocial husband sees the validity of this!
I’m so glad you stumbled my way! I can’t wait to hear what your husband says in reply to that text. 😉 If he needs to talk to another introverted husband, I’ve got one who believes wholeheartedly in the turquoise table. Please keep me posted and I will add you to my prayers — where do you live? xo, Kristin