The other night at our house was a sweet time with friends, so I just had to write about it. Wednesday evening about 6:30 the smell of soup and fresh bread filled our house while people spilled in the door from out in the cold, greeted each other with hugs, and shared a warm meal together while laughter and life filled the corners of our kitchen. We enjoyed two hours of uninterrupted conversation with adults while the kids played in the basement. I enjoyed partaking in the rare occasion of slowly eating my food, while tasting every bite and conversing with close friends. As any one of you Mama’s know, this is a treat within itself!
Kevin and I decided about six months ago that we wanted more times like this at our house. I thought I’d share what we do in hopes that you may want to adopt the tradition and begin having more gatherings around your kitchen table.
We have given these nights a simple name because the idea is…simple. We call them Soup Nights. We say to those invited, come if you can and we will have a big pot of soup on the stove and warm bread. No other sides, no dessert, and no frills to complicate the evening and stress us out. Just a simple and warm meal to share with friends. There is no pressure to rsvp, no pressure to bring anything…no pressure to come at all!
This week there were ten of us, and as the sound of spoons were clinking bowls and laughter echoed around the kitchen, I took the moment in and thought about how I’m so grateful for these people in my life. After dinner we gathered around one couple that needs God to come through for them quickly, placed our hands on them and prayed. Then we all shared about some of the things God is doing in our lives, some of our favorite moments of this past Christmas, and ways we want to make next Christmas even better with our families.
So who are the people we invite over for our soup nights? I’m glad you asked. I’d love to introduce you to them…
My husband and I have led or been a part of what our church calls Life Groups since we were married nearly fourteen years ago. The people have changed that have been a part of these groups, but the vision has not. Your church may call them small groups, cell groups, or something similar to that, but the point is to have a small group of people who you regularly see and really do life with. For us, it has been life changing to be a part of these groups.
The group we lead now meets at our house once a month for a night of prayer and study. We vary what we study based on the groups desire. We also pray for each other and our kids, and encourage each other through life’s ups and downs. The two hours we are together is never wasted!
But this year we also started adding a soup night once a month as a way to hang together with no agenda. You know how life is. You think about getting together with someone, and before you know it a year passes by and you still haven’t scheduled anything! With soup nights on the calendar, it’s a simple way to have a standing date with the people you want to see more of.
Have I sold you on the idea yet? Yours does not have to be a part of a life group or a church at all. It could be your neighbors. Think about if you and six or seven of your neighbors got together and shared a meal once a month. The feel of your neighborhood would completely change. Or maybe there are coworkers that you would like to get to know better. Or you could invite some of the parents of the teammates of your kids sports teams.
It’s not difficult, and you can make it in such a way that it’s not expensive either. Just keep it as simple as possible so that you will want to do it again! We do a lot of hosting at our house, so I know from experience that if I have to worry about more than one dish, plus get my house clean, and make the table look perfect for seating (all the while yelling at my kids to not touch anything!)… I’m a wreck. Take it from me that people don’t care if your house looks perfect or the table is set when they walk in. They care about people and time spent together. So put your efforts into that.
Have you ever heard the phrase “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care”? I love that saying. The point is that the people in your life don’t want to hear you talk about your own ideas or what you know or where you stand on life issues. They want to know how much you care about them first. So keep the main thing the main thing…and that is people. No matter our life story, political or spiritual views, or what types of food we do or don’t eat, we all want to know that we are cared for. Soup nights is just one way to do that.
I remember when I was nineteen and I had moved away to Colorado with a friend. Everything and everyone was foreign, but we found a new church, and there was a widowed lady that attended there who was still raising two of her own boys. She decided she wanted to take about five of us young girls under her wing. So every Tuesday night, Jackie would have us over to her small house where she would serve us pasta and Pillsbury crescent rolls. It was the same every week. She told us she had to keep it cheap and easy, and would even apologize that it wasn’t a grander meal, but honestly that simple food ministered to us girls deeply at that time in our lives. After dinner and catching each other up on our week, we would all help with the dishes and then move to the living room where she taught us something out of the Bible. We drank in every last word she had to say, asking her tons of questions as we tried to squeeze out of her every ounce of life experience and wisdom she could offer. It really was a powerful thing she did for us on many different levels.
Every Tuesday evening, I knew down to the deepest fibers of my being that I was cared for. I was important to someone. And it all started with an invitation to come over for some spaghetti from a woman I had just met.
Never underestimate the power of an invitation to share in some food. You may extend the invite for others, but you will be blessed even more. Proverbs 11:25 says “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”. So if you find that you could use some refreshing in life, why don’t you start with three simple words…“friends, soup’s on”!