Scoot over…


When I was a little girl, I wasn’t allowed to sleep in my parent’s bed.  That was Mom’s rule anyway.  I always found unique places to sleep – on the floor of my closet, on a step, under the piano…  But my favorite spot was curled up with Mom and Dad.  I would go into their room at night and approach Mom first.

“Hey, Mom, can I sleep with you?”
“No!  Go back to your own bed.”  (You’d think I’d learn and stop going to her first…)
Not easily deterred, I’d go over to Dad’s side of the bed and wake him up.
“Hey, Dad, scoot over!”
And Dad would scoot, much to Mom’s dismay and my delight. 

Mom’s rule was probably a very good one and I totally understand it, but Dad’s grace was much more comforting at the time. 

The thing is, Dad was always scooting over for someone.  Not literally, of course.  I don’t think anyone besides us kids crawled into bed with Mom and Dad, but people were always staying in our home.  Dad has the gift of compassion and Mom has the gift of hospitality, so probably at least 50% of my childhood was spent with people other than my immediate family staying in our house with us.

Special speakers from church, extended family, recovering alcoholics, troubled teenagers, missionaries, and out-of-town friends were in and out like a revolving door.  Since I had a double bed, the guests typically stayed in my room and I moved in with my sister.  Even though I was displaced, I loved the company!  I got to hear interesting stories from all over the world and all walks of life.  I have no memory of resenting the requirement to give up my bedroom.  I probably grumbled a bit here and there, but what stands out is the way that we were taught to welcome people and help them feel at home.

I got to see that alcoholics were hurting people who wanted love just like everyone else.  I saw a troubled teenage boy stop being cool for a awhile to play with a little girl.  I saw people who got up and preached at church walking around in their pajamas.  I learned that missionary kids aren’t that different from pastor’s kids.  I was extra-good friends with some of them…  And when our cousins showed up, we all piled on the floor in the basement in sleeping bags and stayed up talking all night!

Mainly, I learned that we are stewards of all God has given us.  Our house was not our own and we shared it as the need arose.  I’m sure my mother would tell of the pressure it put on our family to have other people around so often and of the extra housework she did to constantly get ready for guests and clean up after they were gone.  One year we had out-of-town guests every single month, sometimes twice a month.  We once had a man stay with us for at least a year.  Another man showed up on our doorstep unannounced and stayed for several months.  (He taught me to drive a stick shift.)  In spite of the challenges, it’s something I’ll never forget.

Whether we had overnight guests or not, we also had dinner parties, barbeques, and Bible studies.  Every Monday for years our kitchen was taken over by a men’s discipleship group.  There was no end to the dinner parties and events that my parents hosted.  My bathroom always had to be clean!  You never knew who’d be using it. 

The way I grew up, with people in and out of our house all the time (and us in and out of theirs), is not the way things seem to be now.  People are so isolated and private, so embarrassed if their house isn’t some kind of designer show place, or if there are dishes in the kitchen sink.  Who cares?  That’s the stuff of life.  We don’t always get to the dishes, we don’t always have money for the latest decor, and sometimes others might find out more than we bargained for about who we are at home.  But isn’t that how the body of Christ should be:  a family of believers who care deeply enough for each other that they don’t mind if the furniture is a little worn?

On a pastor’s salary, our house was always simple and clean.  We didn’t have anything expensive or showy, but we made sure we had space for guests and plenty of food in the cabinets.  That’s how I want my own home to be – a place where everyone feels welcome and the door is always open.  Stay over any time.  I don’t mind sleeping on the couch.  🙂

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12 Comments

Filed under My Crazy Family

12 responses to “Scoot over…

  1. Kimberly,

    I enjoy reading your blog; I believe you have a gift for writing. When I taught writing in school kids would often say, “I don’t know what to write about or what to say,” and I’d say, “Tell me about your vacation to Florida or your last ballgame, or this or that. They would start telling…and telling…and then I’d stop them. I’d tell them to write it on paper exactly like they were telling me. Nothing fancy, no big words, just tell your story.

    Kimberly, your writing is very easy to read and understand, and very relatable. Thanks for inviting me to read it.

  2. Renee

    ok im doing this from my cell so I left the last comment under the wrong blog! its been a long day…..this was great and i enjoyed reading it.This is the blog to talk about all of your fun parties and how great of a host you are. Your parents did a great job with you. As for the other comment on the other blog..please read a fun book or get an US weekly or something! 🙂

    • kimberlywenger

      Ha! How about watching American Idol? Does that count? I know it’s not “Rock of Love”, but it’s reality TV. 🙂 I’ve been reading a lot of entertainment news on the internet recently…

  3. Kim,

    It’s funny reading your stories about having guests to the house and they stay in your room. That’s exactly what happened to me growing up. Must be a PK thing. I just hope my own kids will have the same type of memories of their childhood.

    Conrad W.

    • kimberlywenger

      Do you think it might be a Mennonite PK thing??? I wonder if other PK’s had the same thing. It was one of my favorite things about my childhood.

  4. Tanya Sykes

    Kim,

    This brings lots of wonderful memories to mind for me. My mom has always had the gift of hospitality. I don’t know if she was born with it or if my dad foisted it on her! He was forever calling home about fifteen minutes before dinner to casually mention he was bringing home whatever singing group he’d been working with in the studio that day. Mom always managed to stretch whatever she had prepared, or whip something extra up. We hosted numerous singers and evangelists over the years. She was always so gracious and as a result, my sister and I got to hear lots of stories, songs and laughter that we might have missed out on.

    I enjoy reading your blogs, keep up the good work!

    • kimberlywenger

      Thanks, Tanya! I’m so glad to hear someone else knows what that was like. I miss those days and am trying to figure out how to make my life more like that now.

  5. Leslie

    Wow! Good reminder of something I should do more often… invite friends over. Have a party! I’m afraid my kids won’t have any memories of dinner parties and stuff if I don’t get on the ball. Anyhoo, as far as sleeping in the bed… my kids wanted to sleep with us and Pat would say, “Why not? It’s not like it will last forever.” Sigh, I’m so glad I let them in because they wouldn’t dare be caught with us now! LOL!

  6. tammy

    Renee – it took me a minute to realize that you are not incarcerated. i work in a jail, so i envisioned you in prison, in your cell … 😀

  7. Renee

    HA! That’s very funny. Okay, maybe next time I should be a bit more specific in saying my cell phone. I can assure you I am happy at home with my husband and 4 kids, no jail cells for me. 😀

  8. Penny

    It’s not only a PK thing, I had it happening to me all the time too. Great story!

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