Welcome to … my life!

Hey there, fabulous readers! My friend Erika wrote a beautiful letter to me that I want to share with you all. It offers a look into one of my friendships – and more importantly, into the heart of someone who is so thoughtful and wise and kind.

If you want to read more awesome stuff from the same awesome person, check out erikajoywrites.com.



February 24, 2018

Dear Justine,

You have given me a welcome mat. A welcome mat to this online space. As I contemplated what to write to accept this writing welcome mat, ideas circled in my mind, but I kept coming back to that welcome mat.

I’m a firm believer in looking to the core of what something is and letting that inspire the actions I take. A welcome mat offering deserves a welcome mat writing, right?

So this happened today to cement that idea: Today I bought a welcome mat in a boutique/salon/coffee shop on Main Street in small town North Dakota.

Justine, I wasn’t planning on it. But you know me and plans. Sometimes quite unexpected things happen! So, I wasn’t planning on buying anything – me who has Margareta Magnusson’s book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning on my kitchen table. (The subtitle promises “How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter” – and if anyone needs freedom from clutter, it’s me!) But I had already broken my plan at a previous store, so when I saw the welcome mat sitting in the back of the small town boutique/salon/spa/coffee shop, I knew I was destined to buy it.

The welcome mat had an old-fashioned bike with a green garland on it and was on sale for $14.40 + $1.04 in sales tax.

And I was in a creative mood because it is project weekend. Project weekend means I have gathered with some of my college friends to work on projects while we catch up on life. We used to call it “craft weekend,” but it changed along the way to “project weekend.”

I thought that the name had changed because of me. Because I’m not a traditional crafter. I’m a crafter of words, of ideas. I wasn’t sure about the name change, so I asked. (We both like to ask questions!)

“Why did we switch the name from “craft weekend” to “project weekend”? Was it because of me?”

My friend replied, “Well, partly, but also because we had some freezer meals and other projects.” She paused and then said, “All projects welcome.

The sentence stuck with me. “All projects welcome.” And it made me re-frame these weekends. These weekends are a time of welcoming. A time of welcoming creativity and productivity, but more importantly to re-welcome each other into the current happenings of our lives – the lives we have shared since meeting as college freshmen 14 years ago. Our lives are not the projects (no one is ever a project), but the projects bring us together.

And I am a firm believer that welcome – which may or may not be physically marked by a mat – is inherently linked to healing.

Why do I say that? Well, because both stories in the New Testament that involve a mat (some translations say bed) involve a healing. The first story is in Mark 2 where the paralyzed man lowered through the roof is first spiritually healed by Jesus when he forgives his sins and then physically healed when Jesus tells him, “stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:11). The second story takes place at Bethesda. John 5:8-9a says, “Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!”

Those “mat” stories from the Bible are about healing, but something that I notice, Justine, is that the people had to move. Jesus gave them instructions to move towards that healing – some action had to be taken by the people. They had to stand up, they had to pick the mat, and they had to go. The healing didn’t just happen; they had to obey Jesus’ words.

And another thing I noticed, Justine, is that these stories also showcased Jesus messing with the religious status quo. In the Mark story, the religious people thought he was being blasphemous and in the John story, the healing happened at the Sabbath and that always caused conflict.

So what I took away from these two stories – combined with what I know about welcome mats – is that when we welcome people, we welcome the beginnings of healing. Sometimes that healing is miraculously instant – like the men who took up their mats – but sometimes that healing takes time, a lot of time.

Sometimes that welcoming means moving places we have never moved before. And that welcoming might also involve messing with the status quo.

Regardless of the time, regardless of the place, regardless of the status quo, we must work to know when welcome mats need to be extended in a healing manner.

So Justine, thanks for extending this welcome mat. Thanks for allowing me this space to write about healing.

And thus, I must extend my own welcome mat as well: your writing is welcome on my blog! Find me at erikajoywrites.com.

Have a beautiful and joyful week,


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