Inviting a Guest for Christmas
Jim’s dad, James Dobson Sr., died three weeks before Christmas after suffering a massive heart attack in September. It was a devastating loss for our little family but especially for Jim’s mom, Myrtle. We will always regret not having that last Christmas season with Jim’s father, which would have been filled with love, laughter, children, and the wonderful food from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. Instead we struggled to cope with our loss.
Three things sustained us during that time: the love of one another, the support from caring friends, and the precious promise of eternal life. Having been through this experience, I am even more aware that Christmas can be an especially lonely time for those who do not have family nearby. As members of the body of Christ, we must be willing to open our homes and hearts to people in need. That is precisely what we did one Christmas Eve when we invited an elderly woman who needed a loving family to join us.
Her name was Mamie Hendricks. She was in her eighties and the widow of a missionary. Mamie bubbled over with joy when we asked her to join us. At the dinner table that evening, she was the center of attention. All the conversation focused on this wonderful lady as she shared her experiences with us. After dinner Mamie opened several scrapbooks she had brought. Apparently no one had been willing to look at them for years, but there was meaning for her on every page. She told us about her deceased husband and how much she loved him. She described her life on the mission field and talked about the people they had introduced to the Lord. Then she talked about her husband’s death and how she missed him. Story after story poured out. Our two children sat enthralled as they listened to Mamie’s recollections of a lifetime. We had thought the evening with our friend would be our gift to her, but Mamie contributed much more to each of us. She is gone now, but I cherish that evening we spent together.
As we all look toward our holiday plans, may I encourage you to invite a lonely person, someone who is older, or a single adult to join you? I believe you will recognize that it is, indeed, “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
(excerpt from Welcome To Our Table)
Shirley & Danae Dobson: As the wife of Focus on the Family founder, Dr. James Dobson, Shirley has devoted her life to the ministry and embraced many opportunities to entertain guests. From dignitaries to backdoor neighbors to the family, Shirley has opened her heart and spread the table for all. Danae, James and Shirley’s daughter, remembers the gatherings and lovingly recalls what her mother taught her about being kind and extending hospitality. Now mother and daughter have gathered the stories of those celebrations and get-togethers to inspire others.