Tribe… in my nomadic lifestyle I have defined tribe as an ever-growing group of people that are on this similar life journey. Those who have been geographically detached from their pre-established support systems. Most of them living thousands of miles from the ‘free babysitter’ and the auntie that swoops in to play dress up and make silly faces when you aren’t feeling the mom gig. This tribe congregates out of necessity for nothing short of needing a local emergency contact number for that form you inevitably get at your child’s school registration. The subtle beginnings of what will become late night phone calls when your washer has flooded your whole house and your husband just happens to be ‘unavailable’. The secret cry sessions as you share the heartache of missed birthdays and delayed return dates. The undertones of knowing that this military life changes our spouse in ways we can’t even put words to paper. This is the stuff that establishes the tribe of military wives and the families they bring in tow. This is, for the better part of the past 18 years, the fertile ground for me to grow in my understanding of what tribe is and how to love them well.
“You do hospitality so well! That MUST be one of your giftings.” Says a well-meaning pastor friend of mine. My gut wrenched and I immediately word vomited out… “NOPE! I just live a life where entertaining is part of my gig… this is a trained behavior.” Although the second part of that statement was true, I adamantly believed the first part… well because as a woman who is called to ministry as a lifestyle, as one who preaches, mentors and pastors… there are a few boxes my wounded heart did not want to be placed in… I bet you can guess at least one… you know all the places it is acceptable for women to serve among any body of believers… if it involves a kitchen, food, children… you get my point. I had no desire to be labeled as hospitality because to me, from the view of the church structure, hospitality looked like standing behind a coffee bar handing out a donut and facilitating meal trains… this was just not my jam. (Please let me take a minute to clarify… ALL of these works are amazingly valid and a ministry to me and to those whose needs are met! We are all a part of the body… knee, shin and ankle.. all are needed and valued. This was just not my place… so I thought). Back to the comment… it sat with me. This friend, I had come to learn, does not just pay nice compliments but speaks to what he sees done well, with joy, and fullness of God’s glory. This observation was not because he had seen me fill up a few snack buckets and provide some bottled water. So I have sat some more on this comment… I got still before God and asked forgiveness for my harshness towards any good gift He has given me and asked for a revelation of what my friend saw. I asked Him to show me a little bit more of how He designed me to be. This is what I learned about me and how hospitality has flown naturally:
Loving my tribe well is not in the pictures of my Instagram feed where you see women drinking wine and sitting around a campfire. Loving my tribe well is in the many mini moments to see a need and choose to be a part of filling it. This is done best within my circle of influence… I get overwhelmed by needing to love on every tribe, but I must focus on loving mine well and trust that it will trickle over. I have learned the necessity of observing well and paying attention to the subtle clues others leave. This is my fact-finding mission, Intel only, all stakeout. (I even keep notes in my phone) I write out likes, kids names, important facts and yes I reference back to them. As a nomad, the need to be known runs deep and this helps me fill that need in others. It helps me build relationships with intentionality and purpose, to allow who God is in me to spill out on them so God can increase in them too! Then I wait… I pray… I ask God for organic opportunities to intersect His love and grace into their life and sometimes I get to be a part of that.
Sometimes that’s sending a text of encouragement, sometimes it’s talking over coffee or a margarita, sometimes that looks like driving 4 hours round trip to get 2 hours of quality face to face time. Sometimes it is sitting next to her crying as we mourn the loss of a child, sometimes that’s babysitting, sometimes it’s a late night run, sometimes its rib-splitting laughter as we play hide in seek in Target. Sometimes that’s putting encouraging notes in the bathroom at prom, Sometimes that is going to someone else’s’ kids sports game. It making the most of those simple everyday encounters. You see, hospitality, per Webster, is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
How do you receive your tribe? Are you friendly with those you receive within a 10 ft radius of yourself every day? (Yes those people are your tribe too, even the one who gives you dirty looks). Are you generous in the way you meet others needs? There is a difference in meeting a need and meeting a need well. One is a reaction and the other is a response. Responses are thoughtful, planned, and intentional. Do the little things that help you be a responder. Make space in your calendar to slow down a little for that phone call, keep a basket in the closet of small “thinking of you” gifts, always have coffee ready to brew, have the extra meal in the cabinet for the sick friend, take the time for rest and spiritual nourishment regularly so you a serving from a full cup… make the most of the opportunity presented to you, after all YOU GET TO be the avenue of God’s love directly into that person’s world.
And what does that get you??? Well, over time, you will find that your hospitality has opened an access to share your story and God’s story and how those stories have connected with their story. This is the principle I have found in studying how Jesus loved his tribe well. He most often met a tangible need before addressing the spiritual need. Loving your tribe well doesn’t end in intentional responses; those mini-moments add up to this field of grace where God’s heart is vividly seen time and time again in the midst of the community that has been created within the tribe. This is where healing takes place, mentorship begins to happen, dreams are obtained, hardships are mourned and joys are celebrated… love and grace abound and God’s glory is known. – Liz Bossard
Meet Liz Bossard: Liz is a reservoir of wisdom and truth. She has battled a lifetime of paving her way through understanding her identity in Christ, and rising to be a light house for others to break out of the box of female stereotypes in life and ministry. She loves to laugh and enjoy her military life with her husband of 18 years and their 3 children. Making many moves across the country, she has gained lots of life experience, amongst the many cultures of the U.S. Liz longs for others to know their true calling and to embrace the path God has set them on.
Tru*life: It’s me, Liz Trujillo again:), and I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring you my friend Liz Bossard! I’ve known her for close to 18 years both in the same town and across many miles, and I can tell you- she’s the real deal y’all. I’ve been able to watch her grow into this amazing communicator and have also been a recipient of her love and friendship since my early days of marriage, motherhood, and ministry. She was the obvious choice to share with us about loving our tribes well. I sure hope you took notes from her words of wisdom- I know I did today! A huge shoutout to all of her family for their continued service to our country!-Liz T
Go The Extra Mile: I’m a sucker for a Southern Rock Band, and NEEDTOBREATHE has a special place in my heart because they are from SC! Listen well to this song and be encouraged to love your tribe well today!