By Kerri Gailey

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When I was a kid we usually ate off of Tupperware plastic plates that came in the oh so attractive 70’s era hues of puke green, brown, mustard yellow, and burnt orange.  They were square with these cancerous looking white lesions on them.  (I guess we weren’t supposed to put them in the microwave.)  My glassware of choice was an assortment of Flintstone jelly jars.  


That all changed when we had company.  Mom broke out the good dishes, they were white with scalloped edges.  The glasses were stemmed and they were the prettiest pale blue.  We would have two forks, and there were usually candles.  She’d put out real linen napkins in, wait for it...napkin rings!


I can remember coming home for the first time after I had grown up and moved away.  Mom had the table set with the good dishes.  I wondered who had been invited to dinner, but I soon realized the good dishes were for me. Just the thought of it still makes me feel special.


My Mom had a real gift for making people feel welcome in our home.  The house always smelled fabulous from some kind of candles she was burning, everything was decorated just so, and the house was spotless.  Since she passed away, my sister comments that coming to my house is the closest thing to going to Mom’s.  What an honor to have inherited that gift.


If you’ve ever visited The LOT Project you know there is a ministry within a ministry going on there.  We like to call it Little LOT.  


Little LOT happens at a paint and marker stained folding table in a small corner of the LOT.  Magic happens every week at that table because of the love and creativity of a very special volunteer. We all affectionately know her as “Mrs. Barb”.


The Little LOT has what I like to think of as it’s own fairy godmother, Barbara Ligon. Mrs. Barb comes in every week with a plan for fun.  She’s always loaded down with boxes of glue, paint, stickers, glitter, and all manner of craft supplies (her husband says they’ll have to move out of their house because of her crafty stockpile!)


No matter what may be going on in their lives, children know that when they take a seat at that magic table they will be transported to a place of fun. love and creativity.  They may be painting a masterpiece mural to adorn the LOT walls, creating a fun snack, making a fuzzy pipe cleaner spider, or having a tea party.


One week Mrs. Barb came in with a very large box, and asked if I would help her unpack a few things.  As I began to unwrap paper from the objects in the box, I realized there was an entire (very nice) tea set inside.  I saw disaster looming.  


Little kids, expensive china, and concrete floors don’t mix.  But Mrs. Barb didn’t care, she has the same gift as my Mom.  She knows how to welcome the kids of Little LOT.  She puts out the good dishes because they are her honored guests.


I asked her once why she started working with the children every week.  She said she noticed how the parents had a hard time shopping for clothes and getting their dinner with their kids running wild all over the place.  So she decided to give them a few minutes of sanity while their children were occupied.


During a recent volunteer meeting we had a discussion about trees and what life lessons they can teach.  One of these lessons reminded me of Little LOT and Mrs. Barb.  A tree will bear the fruit of whatever kind of tree it is.  You will get apples from an apple tree, and peaches from a peach tree.  Others will either enjoy or suffer from the fruit of our tree, so what kind of trees are we going to plant with our lives?


In Mrs. Barb’s quest to offer some tranquility to our adult guests of the LOT, she inadvertently planted a tree.  A hospitality tree. The children of Little LOT get to be honored guests at her magic table every week enjoying the fruit of what she planted with a little glitter and glue.

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.  Always be eager to practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13