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Going on a Mission in Your Own Front Yard

Air Date 06/11/2018

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Kristin Schell inspires listeners to reach out to their neighbors with friendship and God's love in a discussion based on her best-selling book, The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard.

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Episode Transcript

 

Opening:

Excerpt:

 

Mrs. Kristin Schell: Maybe this table should stay in the front yard. And maybe, you know, we could start doing our ordinary activities - dinner, pizza on, you know, paper plates, homework, bubble blowing - you know, things that our family was already doing. But what if we were to do it in a more visible way? And do it in the front yard.


End of Excerpt

 

John Fuller: That's Kristin Schell and today on Focus on the Family you’ll hear her unique story about how she began loving her neighbors in a more intentional way. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I'm John Fuller.

 

Jim Daly: John, it's so easy to drive in and out of our garages and not get to know our neighbors. And I think it takes away from what the Lord can do through you in your neighborhood to touch people in his name. And we're gonna discuss that today with a very special guest. This is one of those programs that should equip you to think a little differently, I think help train your children as well how to look at the world around them and have an impact in the name of Christ.

 

John: Yeah, this is a fun, unique and inspiring story about ways that you can show hospitality. And our guest is as I said Kristen Schell. She's the author of the book The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard. And she and her husband, Tony, have four children. They live with their family in Austin, Texas. 

Body:

Jim: Kristin, welcome to Focus on the Family.

 

Krisitn: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here.

 

Jim: First, I want to know about your kids. How old are your kids?

 

Krisitn: Well, Will is our oldest and he's a senior in high school. So, he's a - you know, graduating. And then Anna is almost 17. And Ellie is 15 and Sarah is almost 11.

 

Jim: How do you have time to be here at Focus on the Family (laughter)?

 

Krisitn: Because I have three teenagers and a middle schooler.

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Krisitn: And so - ah.

 

Jim: You're taking a little day off.

 

Krisitn: Exactly. Just a day off.

 

Jim: And you're not far away. You live in Austin.

 

Krisitn: Not far away at all.

 

Jim: It's a fun city.

 

Krisitn: Yes.

 

Jim: Hey, before we dive into The Turquoise Table, I want to go back to what started your love for food and fellowship around the table, which I think is an important part of your story. And it's my understanding it started with receiving an F in high school.

 

Krisitn: Yes.

 

Jim: Now are you fessing up to that?

 

Krisitn: I'm gonna fess up.

 

Jim: You told thousands of people now.

 

Krisitn: Right. Well, lead with your failure, right (laughter)?

 

Jim: OK. So, let's do it.

 

Krisitn: So, let's do it. Let's just get it all out.

 

Jim: What did you get an F in?

 

Krisitn: French.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: I failed French.

 

Jim: I can understand that. I can totally understand that.

 

Krisitn: You know, and the world's problems - this is not high up there. But when you are in high school and you're going to have that glaring F on your transcript...

 

Jim: Oh, yeah.

 

John: Man.

 

Krisitn: ...You know...

 

John: And it's going to follow you around.

 

Krisitn: It's going to follow you around anyway.

 

Jim: OK. So how did mom and dad respond to that when you came home?

 

Krisitn: Well, they were nervous.

 

Jim: (Laughter) I bet they were.

 

Krisitn: Because, you know, they're like OK. First of all, it's French. You know, so it's not like it was math or it was English or something. It was French, but, you know, it was a failure. And so, they tried. Like, good parents they were like let's get tutors or, you know, maybe if we help her out. Well, let me just tell you there was no helping this out. My brain for whatever reason was not going to learn the language. And so, this is crazy. But on a sort of this last-ditch effort they sent me on a summer immersion program in France.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: Right.

 

Jim: They were committed.

 

Krisitn: They were committed.

 

Jim: Man.

 

Krisitn: Well, the school, the teachers were committed. I'm their first child and so they didn't know. They didn't want to mess up. They were all nervous. But here's the thing, like, that sounds like a dream. Oh, and, you know, sort of a bless your heart, as we say in Texas...

 

Jim: Yeah, really.

 

Krisitn: ...You know, to go to France. But I hated sleepover camp; I didn't like to spend the night out.

 

Jim: (Laughter) why?

 

Krisitn: You know, like leaving - I was a homebody. And so, you know, going to France, you know, to stay with a family and live in a country where clearly I couldn't speak.

 

Jim: You couldn't speak the language.

 

Krisitn: Because hello the F. And so, it was not, it was a nightmare for me.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: But at the ripe old age of 15 I found myself in a teeny tiny town...

 

Jim: Oh, my goodness.

 

Krisitn: ...Living with a family and not understanding a word.

 

Jim: What would you like to say to your mom and dad today (laughter)?

 

Krisitn: Today, I would tell them thank you. At the time, you know, I clearly thank you was not on my lips or in my heart. But thank you because you know what I've learned - and of course I didn't know this at the time. But what I learned was that hospitality, the Greek root of that and it means love of strangers. And so, I was a stranger in a foreign land, clearly not understanding the language and I've never felt so loved. And, like, I belonged at the table. And it was - you know, now I can look back and go aha that's what God was doing. At the time, of course, you know, it was muddied and I didn't, I didn't understand that.

 

Jim: Sure.

 

Krisitn: But the food and the ritual of sitting at the table - the French have it going on. I mean, they sit at the dinner table two hours at night and...

 

Jim: Very relaxed.

 

Krisitn: ...Very relaxed. And they - conversation flowed. Now remember I couldn't understand a lot of it, but I knew that what was happening around that table was something. I mean, it was contagious and it was enthralling. And I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of. 

 

John: Yeah.

 

Krisitn: More so than the language - which by the way I ended up being a French major - but more than mastering the language.

 

Jim: You went right to your weakness.

 

Krisitn: I did go right to my weakness, but this is just what God does, right? But more than mastering that language, it was the lifestyle, it was the, you know, eye to eye, you know, good conversation, food is nourishment for the soul and just that family time around the table.

 

Jim: Let me ask you that bigger 40,000-foot view question, God's perspective on the dinner table. How do you think he sees it? I mean, of course he had the last supper...

 

Krisitn: Exactly.

 

Jim: ...With his disciples. How does he see the interaction of food and fellowship?

 

Krisitn: Oh, I think that what I - what he modeled for me when I was 15 is exactly what he wants for all of us, is that just this commune - it's a communion table. I mean, in whether it's, you know, literally the commune bread and wine or whether it's just good food. I believe so much of his ministry happened around a table. And it was modeled for us. And so, I think it's a natural, beautiful and just a deep place.

 

Jim: And you encourage us to embrace it rather than run from it.

 

Krisitn: Right.

 

Jim: Now some of us can be a bit fearful of that much time with each other as family (laughter).

 

Krisitn: Right. Well, and I get that. You know, I mean and my contacts for that much time with family was the holidays, right? You know, but certainly not every single night.

 

Jim: So, what - you ended up ordering a table.

 

Krisitn: Right.

 

Jim: Tell me about the story of the turquoise table.

 

Krisitn: So, flash forward, you know, many, many years later. And so, Tony and I are married, we're living in Austin. And at the time, our children were sort of middle school age and life was busy. It was the exact thing we just talked about. You know, on to the next, sports practices all good things, right?

 

Jim: Right.

 

Krisitn: But I felt like I was spending more time in my minivan than I was at the kitchen table. And I still had that longing, that seed that was planted all those years ago in France but I couldn't figure it out. You know, I couldn't figure out when to cook, how to bring people, you know, to the table. And then often, you know, when I would bring them to the table, I was so tired from cooking and trying to get everyone there that I wasn't a very kind person or a good hostess. And so, I felt like, again, I was failing.

 

Jim: Yeah. So how did you get the idea of a picnic bench? And what happened?

 

Krisitn: So, this - I mean, again, it was kind of on a whim. I was having a party with a neighbor and a friend of mine and I needed an extra place to seat some people. We were doing a barbecue. And it was in the backyard. So, it was very casual. And so, I ordered a picnic table. I mean, this is just a plain old table like everybody has seen. The wooden picnic tables. And I ordered it from Lowe's because they could deliver it and have it assembled the next day. And that's what I needed. And it was under 100 bucks, so that made Tony happy.

 

Jim: It's all getting good.

 

Krisitn: It was all good. And so, when they delivered it - it's heavy, picnic tables are heavy - they put it outside right next to the edge of our street kind of underneath this magnolia tree.

 

Jim: In the front yard.

 

Krisitn: In the front yard.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: And then they came to get me to ask where I wanted it. And so, when I walked out to follow the delivery guys, I saw that picnic table underneath the tree. And it was an aha moment. It took my breath away because I had been sort of in this holy restlessness for five or six years trying to figure out how to offer hospitality, how to get to know my neighbors, how can I do all this. And I saw that table and I know it sounds crazy but I was like this is it. Maybe this table should stay in the front yard. And maybe, you know, we could start doing our ordinary activities - dinner, pizza on, you know, paper plates, homework, bubble blowing - you know, things that our family was already doing. But what if we were to do it in a more visible way? And do it in the front yard. And um...

 

Jim: Wait. That's so counterintuitive.

 

Krisitn: It is very counterintuitive.

 

Jim: I'm just sitting there going why would I want to do that (laughter).

 

Krisitn: Why would you want to do that? I get it. I get it. So, when I went in and explained to the children and to Tony - you know, Austin's motto are kind of our self-proclaimed motto for Austin is keep Austin weird.

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Krisitn: And I think....

 

Jim: That fits.

 

Krisitn: ...It does fit.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: And so, I figured. You know, they're like good mom, you know, but picnic table in the front yard, doing your part to keep Austin weird. But to me, it was like what if it became like the old village well, you know, where we weren't burdened by the pressures of entertainment. So, I'm no longer now worried about cooking for people, the house doesn't have to be clean, you know, because people are going to be in the front yard.

 

Jim: Tony just has to make sure the lawn is cut (laughter).

 

Krisitn: Tony just has to make sure the lawn is cut, you know?

 

Jim: It's pressure.

 

Krisitn: It's pressure. But he has risen to the occasion mostly because I'm outside in the front yard now and not in the house (laughter). But it caught on. It became a thing in our neighborhood.

 

Jim: So, what happened? You sit down the first day and what are you thinking should happen? What's your expectation? And then what does happen?

 

Krisitn: So, here's a little teeny bit more of the backstory, too, was I, I knew that I need - I call it a great hospitality hack. Like I said, like, I didn't - you know, we went to kick perfection to the curb. You know, I knew I wanted to bring people together, but I didn't want it to always be a thing, a book club, a Bible study, a supper club because that overwhelms people. And so, I thought OK, what if we were to do something and just be present? What if we were to slow down long enough and just be present in each other's lives? And I did not know about - I'd never heard the term ministry of presence before. And so through just reading and great discipleship I've learned about the ministry of presence, which is also very counterintuitive because we're wired...

 

Jim: Yeah. Hard.

 

Krisitn: ...To be, you know, human doings.

 

Jim: Yes.

 

Krisitn: But what this message was to me was just human being. Like, what if? What if we were to take 15 minutes, 20 minutes and just be present with one another? Like, what could happen? OK. That's weird, right? You know, like OK. So, I thought, well, I'm going to go outside and just be present in my front yard at a turquoise picnic table. Like, I've lost my marbles.

 

Jim: Well, that's the other point. You ended up painting it.

 

Krisitn: I had painted it turquoise.

 

Jim: Your favorite color.

 

Krisitn: Because it's my favorite color.

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Krisitn: Right. And so now you've got - I mean...

 

Jim: So nice dark wood would be, you know (laughter).

 

John: Blend in.

 

Krisitn: ...Maybe. But, you know, I was like but that's so boring, you know.

 

John: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Jim: So, you go turquoise.

 

Krisitn: So, I went Turquoise. And so, I remember the day - God was very gracious. It rained for about a week after we painted it because he knew I needed some courage to get up the nerve.

 

Jim: You think he wasn't trying to wipe it off.

 

Krisitn: I'd - we'll see.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: Maybe.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: Point taken.

 

John: You didn't think it that way.

 

Krisitn: Now I'm all nervous again (laughter).

 

Jim: He's going to bring more rain.

 

Krisitn: More rain. More rain.

 

Jim: It's still turquoise, though. I'm sure he loves it.

 

Krisitn: I think it was to give me courage.

 

Jim: There you go.

 

Krisitn: And so, I did. The very first day I went out and I took a whole bunch of stuff to look like I was busy, like I knew what I was doing at a turquoise table in my front yard.

 

Jim: Well, this is important, too, though. You took your busy work out there.

 

Krisitn: I did at which hello.

 

Jim: Yeah.

 

Krisitn: But that was all I knew, right?

 

John: Because it's perfectly normal to do a bunch of much paperwork and stuff out there.

 

Krisitn: Right. Well, and it was the mail. And yeah, but I again, but think about that insecurity. You know, that's what I was feeling. And so clearly, I lived right into it. But y'all about five minutes after sitting down there pretending like I was busy, I - a neighbor walked by and I had never even seen her before - so not somebody I had even waved at. And we struck up a conversation and 30 minutes later, you know, we were having just an incredible conversation exchanging emails and phone numbers and talking about neighborly things. And that was almost five years ago and now I cannot imagine not knowing Susan.

 

Jim: Well, it's so important to really say what you're saying and that is it was a facilitator for meeting people that live right around you.

 

Krisitn: Exactly.

 

John: That's the point.

 

Krisitn: That is the point. And I think intuitively I knew that, I couldn't articulate it yet. And so now I say things, like, you know the turquoise table's become like the old village well. And it's a place where people can stop and quickly touch base with one another and catch up. But, you know, it all happened so fast that I - you know, I don't know that that's - I didn't go in knowing that that was going to happen.

 

John: Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. You're listening to a conversation with Kristen Schell and her book is The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard. And I told you this is a humorous and fun and inspiring story. And I love it. I love it so far and hope that you'll get a copy of the broadcast on CD and pick up a copy of the book as well at focusonthefamily.com/radio or if you'd like to order through the phone, just call us. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family.

 

Jim: Kristen, in fact, you had an encounter with an elderly couple that made an impression on you. What happened?

 

Krisitn: Well, we - our neighborhood is very multi-generational.

 

John: That's good.

 

Krisitn: And so, Tony and I were one of the very first, you know, I think of us as younger.

 

John: Younger couples.

 

Krisitn: But you know to buy from the original home owners and so now we've become one of the older couples. But at the time there you know we were, we were the young ones. And so, the neighbors around us I noticed that they were starting. They weren't as out as much. And so, it became clear to me that one of the things of community is noticing and paying attention, you know. And so, after a few days, um, of, you know, noticing habits of our neighbors, it became clear that maybe they needed looking in after, looking, you know, looking on to. And Elizabeth is one of our neighbors. And Elizabeth walks her dog - she's in her 80s - and she walks her dog Clyde almost every day still. But here's the thing. When you notice that and when you realize her rhythm and her patterns and then Elizabeth isn't walking a dog one day, it makes you wonder, you know? She's living alone...

 

Jim: Is she OK?

 

Krisitn: ...Is she OK? And so, we'll go over and check on each other. And that may not seem like a big deal. Um, but I believe in God's economy it is. Neighbors right across the street from us, um, one day we had a coyote problem in the neighborhood. And we live in Austin. And we're right kind of in the center of town. But there were coyotes that were in our neighborhood. And so, for a lot of us, there were Facebook, you know, kind of - or emails or texts going around. Be careful. Make sure kittens and, you know, just taking care of one another. But I knew that the neighbors across the street wouldn't have any of that technology or the way to know that. And so, it was wonderful to be able to go over and sit down and end up in their kitchen table, you know, kind of on coyote alert to take care of them. And it starts really small in that way. But these things over time matter.

 

Jim: And Kristin so often, um - I think as a culture we like to keep it at a superficial level because I can manage that emotionally. You know, if we just talk about news, weather and sports, then everything's good. But oftentimes as believers in Christ, he wants more from us. He wants us to provide his peace in these areas of chaos around us. And that's sometimes in your neighbors' lives, right? So, you've even had some pretty dramatic situations as well.

 

Krisitn: We have. And that's, you know, like, to your point, you know. It's like - but you've got to kind of get to know the dog walker first. And you have to be able to...

 

Jim: Be trusted.

 

Krisitn: ...Be trusted. And then, you know, have that coffee when you're on coyote patrol first.

 

Jim: Right.

 

Krisitn: But the reason those things matter is because life is hard and we all know it. And it's in every single - no matter your neighborhood, there are hard things going on behind those garage doors, behind those apartment doors. And no neighborhood is immune to it. And ours is no exception. And we've had, you know, all the things in our neighborhood. We've had the cancer diagnosis. We've had the divorce. We've had the prodigal child. We have had, recently, a story of dear neighbors of ours whose daughter came - is a heroin addict, um, and lost her life. You know, what starts small in many ways and can seem insignificant as getting to know a neighbor and walking their dogs, I would have never known them, though, had we not been present in our front yard. And then we were able to serve and come alongside in their deepest hour of need.

 

Jim: Kristin, you're describing this, I'm reminded of research that comes out every year. It's - I think it's called the loneliness index. And it's never been higher than it is right now. 

 

Krisitn: Right.

 

Jim: And when you look at that and you think of all the social media connection, all the Pinterest stuff and Facebook stuff and you can connect in so many ways, but people are more lonely today than they've ever been. And really, what you're describing is an antidote to that loneliness where when you can, as neighbors, share the burdens, the emotional burdens, of each other, it makes life so much richer, so much better, um, even in the midst of difficulty, when that daughter moves back and she's struggling in that way. For those neighbors to be able to come and talk with you and kind of pour their heart out to you, that's what you're talking about.

 

Krisitn: Exactly. And that's really what I saw in my children, you know. Before I knew about The Turquoise Table, before, you know, any of this, I, you know, I noticed, you know, Tony and I, you know, are raising digital natives. You know, Sarah was born six weeks before the iPhone came out. And so, she will never know a time in her life without knowing at least what it is. And so, as their communication styles and skills started to change, you know, there wasn't really a manual for that as a mom. And so, Tony and I were concerned. And we were like, you know, what do we do as parents as these - raising these digital natives? And part of my concern, too, was in this digital era, to your point, yes, we're more connected than ever in history and, yes, we are lonelier. And part of that is losing the art of just conversation. Back to that conversation that, you know, I was having in France. And so, I was worried that my children, you know, who were learning about emojis and texting and things like this, could they even some day sit at a table for two hours and have a conversation? And so part of that, you know, was my heart and desire was to steward a place that - that would help teach not only the kids - and, let's be honest, I'm on my phone, too, I love it, technology can be used for good - but to practice those skills. And so - uh, because the hard times are comin', you know? And so then...

 

Jim: Well, I was gonna ask you about that. I mean, there you are sitting at the turquoise table in your front yard. Uh, did your kids come out? Did your husband come out? Or did you have to bribe 'em with special dessert (laughter)?

 

Krisitn: It depends. It depends. A little of both, you know?

 

Jim: And - 'cause you probably have both extroverts and introverts in your family, if you're like every other family. So, for the extroverts, it was a fun thing. Let's go try this. How 'bout the introverts in your family?

 

Krisitn: You know, this is so interesting. And this comes up early on in the conversations, so I'm not surprised it's come up with us. You know, introverts are like, "Oh, but this is hard and scary." And Tony, as - me and my husband, he is an introvert. And he loves it for a couple of reasons, and here's why. 'Cause I cannot speak as an introvert - I don't have an introverted, you know...

 

Jim: (Laughter) I can kind of see that (laughter).

 

Krisitn: ...You know, bone in my body. So, I - you know, but I have it on good authority from several introverted friends that there's something so relaxing and comforting about being outside. You know, you don't feel trapped. There's, like, an easy way out. It's a front yard. You can leave, right? Um, and then - and by design, picnic tables are small. They're only meant to seat four, maybe six, eight if you squish. And so, it's that intimate conversation that it's fostering. So, it's not like getting...

 

Jim: Which introverts love.

 

Krisitn: Which introverts love. So, it's not like getting stuck at a big party where you're like, "oh, show me the door," and, uh, you know, "this is exhausting me." And so, it meets a need, you know, for everyone.

 

Jim: Yeah. And that's so good. And the kids have responded well? You haven't damaged your children?

 

Krisitn: I - well, I don't know.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: I don't know. Let's wait on that. You know, it's interesting.

 

Jim: (Laughter) Let's wait on that.

 

Krisitn: Let's wait on that. I can't - I'm not gonna speak for them either. You - you can have them - you can ask them.

 

Jim: We - we have on the line now.

 

Krisitn: Do you? Here it is.

 

Jim: No, I'm kidding (laughter).

 

Krisitn: Here it is. Here's the - here's - here it is.

 

Jim: Mom, I'm in counseling 'cause of all those strangers you brought to the house (laughter).

 

Krisitn: Right. Ah, who knows. But, you know, it's interesting. They have - you know, and they're teenagers now. So - and - and all - you know, people do ask, "what do the kids think about it?" And, um, I'm not allowed to post photos of them or talk about them (laughter) at the table. Which is - I mean, that's - that's fair.

 

Jim: No, that's good.

 

Krisitn: But they use it too. They use it too. And I think that that's so important, you know. And Sarah is the youngest. And, and this is a great story of how our children are watching us, and at all times. And so, we had new neighbors that moved in just recently. And I was sick. I had laryngitis at the time, and we were kinda hopin' it wasn't the flu and whatnot. And - but we saw the moving van, and we knew they were coming. And - shame on me - it had been, like, three days, and I had not gone over and introduced myself. And again, you know, I was sick and didn't want to, you know, take all the germs over. But Sarah, at 10 years old, said, "Mom, this is - I'm going over on behalf of the family and introducing ourselves."

 

Jim: Oh, wow.

 

Krisitn: And so, she did. She walked across the street...

 

Jim: That's great.

 

Krisitn: ...Banged on the door. I don't know what she said. But she told me she said, "We're the Schell’s. Here's my mom's number. Welcome to the neighborhood. When Mom's feeling better, she'll be over soon." And that, to me, you know, it might be the one thing I remember of this whole entire year, that - (laughter) that - that maybe I...

 

Jim: Victory.

 

Krisitn: Right? I'm claimin' it, only because it's so rare.

 

Jim: (Laughter).

 

Krisitn: But they do. They notice.

 

Jim: Yeah. That's good.

 

Krisitn: And - and that was powerful to me, as a mom.

 

Jim: Now, you've done this. Thousands of people are following suit. I mean, this has become a thing, the...

 

Krisitn: A thing.

 

Jim: ...The turquoise table.

 

Krisitn: Who knew?

 

Jim: And, uh, what were some of those barriers? Or if you could rattle off three or four of the reasons people say, "Ah, you know what? Love to try it. That's great for you. I'm not quite wired that way." I mean, what are those barriers for us? I'm sure people listening right now (laughter) are saying, "Here's why I wouldn't do it."

 

Krisitn: Oh, sure. Well, the - and here are the obvious ones. You know, homeowners’ associations.

 

Jim: That's an obvious one.

 

Krisitn: You know, maybe my neighborhood is not gonna let me put a turquoise picnic table in my front yard. I don't live in a neighbor - I mean, in a - in a house.

 

Jim: HOA.

 

Krisitn: Or I - I live in a very urban setting, and so I don't have a front yard. Or in Texas, I live on a huge ranch and don't see neighbors (laughter) for months and months and months. And so, one of the things that we have brainstormed - because remember, when I started this, this was just my table. I had no idea that I would become kind of the turquoise table lady, and people would ask these questions.

 

Jim: (Laughter) It's amazing.

 

Krisitn: And so, one of the things that we do is we just brainstorm. Like, notice what is - what's the rhythm of your neighborhood. Because what works in Minnesota isn't gonna work in Texas, and what works in Colorado Springs isn't gonna work in Florida. But every neighborhood - and if you have a home of any kind of dwelling, you have a neighborhood. And so, what are the rhythms? Where do people naturally tend to gather?

 

Jim: That's good.

 

Krisitn: Where do they gravitate? And one of the biggest pleasures I have is letting - like, that same a-ha moment when the table was delivered to my front yard is when someone catches that vision for their neighborhood or their community. And they think, "Wow. You know, we - we could put it in the park, or we could put a table at the library. Or" - and, you know, they answer their own question.

 

Jim: Well, that's what I hope people hear. I mean, we can get hung up on a picnic table. That's not really it. It's a - it's a junction. It's a facilitator of communication.

 

Krisitn: I always say, "The table is not the hero of the story. God's people are." And so, if it's just a - if it's an encouragement, or if it's just a - a reminder of, you know, that we belong at His table, what a whimsical, fun way to do it.

 

Jim: Describe how it has spread. What's the dimension of the turquoise table now?

 

Krisitn: Well, it's - we're - there are Turquoise Tables in communities in all 50 states and I think 11 countries.

 

John: Oh, my.

 

Krisitn: And so, it's just, um - I mean, takes my breath away. I mean...

 

Jim: France? Does France have one?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

Krisitn: Yes. I know. That's the one I wanna go visit.

 

Jim: I've gotta ask. That's good.

 

Krisitn: Yes. That's the one I wanna visit.

 

Jim: Yeah. You gotta go sit at that table and practice your language skills.

 

Krisitn: But every morning I wake up and, you know, there are - there are emails of people sharing their stories and how it's transformed their neighborhoods in the most simple and most beautiful, profound ways that I - I'm in awe still, just as much as I was that day that the table arrived, because I can't believe, first of all, that this is how God would ask me to go on a mission. I mean, that's really creative of God, right? A turquoise picnic table? (Laughter)

 

Jim: Well, yeah.

 

Krisitn: I mean, that just is...

 

Jim: Well, if he wasn't trying to wash it...

 

Krisitn: If he wasn't trying to wash it away. But so far...

 

Jim: ...Off, and, you know, in your big rainstorm.

 

Krisitn: So far...

 

Jim: But maybe - no, I could go with turquoise. God makes turquoise, right?

 

Krisitn: (Laughter) God did make turquoise.

 

Jim: That's right. Hey, let me ask you - um, years back now, this all started. How many years ago? Seven, eight years?

 

Krisitn: Five.

 

Jim: OK. Five years ago. As you look at it now, you know, on behalf of the person that's listening, going, uh, "I'm never doin' that - I wouldn't do that, that's so outside of my capability or my interest," what are the things that you've learned over those five years, the two or three core things that have - you would be less rich in your spiritual life, in your emotional life, if you had not done it five years ago? Speak to that person who's the naysayer. Go ahead and try it, the challenge.

 

Krisitn: Try it. Here it is. Well, first of all, just on a very basic and personal level, I did not know any of my neighbors. I knew a few by name. I could wave at them. We were friendly. And now I cannot imagine not knowing these people. And I...

 

Jim: And you know 'em at a depth.

 

Krisitn: At a depth. Oh, absolutely. When you've attended funerals, when you've attended births, when you are taking dinners down and praying over, you know, diagnoses, um, and - so it's the highs and lows, all the celebrations. But to me, like, you sure can go through life and skim on all of that and just have that surface level. But once you've tasted that good bit of community and relationship, it is so hard to go back (laughter). 

Closing: 

Jim: You know, Kristin, this is so good. You're really challenging us to be a good neighbor, uh, exactly what Jesus was challenging his disciples and followers to do as well. And folks, this is one of those resources that will, uh, really give you some practical ways that you can do this. It's not overwhelming. It's not too much. And the reward that comes back in the way of relationship and friendship, I think it'll make it all worth it. As Kristin said, five years looking back, "I wouldn't do it any other way." And I think that's fantastic. Hey, in fact, we believe in this so much that if you can become a regular supporter to Focus on the Family, become a monthly supporter for us, one of our friends of Focus on the Family, we'd like to say thank you by sending a copy of Kristin's book to you as our way of saying thank you. The Turquoise Table - it'll become our whole table. And you can become a partner and a neighbor for Focus, and we can touch lives together in our bigger neighborhood. So, consider that. Uh, become that monthly pledger and help touch families each and every day.

 

John: Yeah. You can donate and get the book and other resources to encourage you and those around you at focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.  Well, next time you'll hear a powerful story of how one couple walked through infidelity with the help of their church.

 

Teaser:

 

Mrs. Cindy Beall: Yes, you may have grounds for divorce, but you also have grounds for forgiveness...

 

End of Teaser

 

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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Guest

Kristin Schell

View Bio

Kristin Schell is a popular public speaker and blogger who is especially passionate about the topics of food, faith and hospitality. She would unwittingly spark a worldwide movement when she set up a turquoise picnic table in her front yard as an invitation to her neighbors for fellowship. Her readers have since been inspired to follow suit, setting up turquoise tables in their own front yards. Kristin has authored a book titled The Turquoise Table: Finding Connection and Community in Your Own Front Yard, and travels the country encouraging audiences to open their lives and homes to others. She resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Tony, and their four children. Learn more about Kristin at kristinschell.com.