This week, we are on a love mission and that mission is formally known as Neighbor’s Table.
Sarah Harmeyer and I met at LaunchOut Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma earlier this year and as soon as I had the privilege to spend some time with her, I knew that what she was doing was special.
In Sarah’s own words:
“I love to love people, Matt and I think that a meal and table is a secret way of loving people. It began when I was shifting my identity from work and performance to finding my purpose in God and His calling for me as a gatherer of people.”
In 2012, Sarah began gathering her neighbors in her backyard. At the time, she had just moved to Dallas and only knew two of her neighbors and she thought, “Maybe I’ll gather people around a table.” From there, her and her father built a gorgeous cedar farmhouse table and made a goal of gathering five hundred people around this table. That decision has changed her life.
Ninety-one people showed up for that party and the On Thanksgiving 2012, her 500th guest gathered around the Neighbor’s Table. Since then, she has served another 1,000 guests and as Sarah says, “This is my jam!”
Most people can’t handle four people at their home in a year and Sarah’s hosting around forty per month. The response of those that have gathered around the Table has turned this into an amazing journey.
Sarah, tell us about how Neighbor’s Table has been influenced from your own brokenness.
“There are so many broken moments that have been game changers, but for me, losing my mom to cancer when I was in high school was a very broken moment. My world was turned upside down. My faith is the only thing I had to lean on during this time. I’m convinced, twenty years later, that God has been so faithful and it has impacted where I am today. She would get an absolute kick out of this table in my backyard.”
Sarah references a verse in Samuel about Ebenezer rocks:
“But that day, the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up in that place. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.'” – 1 Samuel 7:10-12
Sarah’s strong words, “I would gladly throw my rock down because He has helped me.”
Sarah, you have investing in others down pat. Teach me something about investing.
“I first have to say that there’s so many who have invested in me so I’m grateful for that.
Now, I want people to come just as they are, just like Jesus said. I believe we have the opportunity to share God’s love in the way we serve others. I tell everyone every night about the culture around our table. I’m convinced that when we listen to other people’s story, we can love anybody.
It looks different. Sometimes it looks like putting a plate of cheese grits in front of someone and sometimes it looks like putting an arm around someone and I think Jesus is honored in both.
Just last year, I had a neighbor reach out and ask if we would have an orphan Christmas. I was so touched. Seven men ended up showing up to join me and my family. It was warm, so we sat outside and there’s the oversized metal letters that lean against the fence in my backyard that spell L-O-V-E. One of the men, named Russ, it was his first time at the table. As we were just shooting the bull, I saw his eyes well up with tears and he pointed at the sign and said, ‘That’s what it feels like here. It feels like love.’
I was wowed. I think sometimes investing in people is an invitation to say, ‘Hey, come.’
They used to say that protein was the most valuable thing at a table, but now I believe time is the most important part of being at the table. It’s an equalizer.”
When you live the way you do, Sarah, it’s not hard to be grateful. Tell us about gratitude in your life.
“Gratitude is the center of health in our lives. We’re so quick to point out what’s not working, but gratitude leads to fullness. I am so grateful for the work that the Lord has reworked in my own life.
As many people who have come to my table, the most important person was me. I was not in a good spot in 2011 and God used this to draw me to himself. I’ve learned about the importance of rest as I serve others, I’m grateful for rest.”
Tell us a story of how gratitude has shifted your perspective.
“I’ve seen a shift from performance based to service.
I had a dinner a year ago, it was a mother-daugher dinner around Mother’s Day. I had invited many of my friends whose moms are socialites and very well-to-do. I started freaking out thinking that I was having these women in my backyard; what on earth am I going to cook.
A friend of mine dared me to serve them pizza. ‘Make it so different from what they’re used to having.’
I grilled up pizzas, Matt, and I said, ‘Tonight is about being around the pizza box. Remember when we were young, at a slumber party? Tonight’s all about that.'”
Humility and confidence have to blend together. To me, Sarah, you radiate that when you engage the people around the Table.
“I think any good thing that people recognize is the Lord and I’m humbled by that. I’ve kinda been under the radar with this table in my backyard, but this year we’re getting a lot of opportunities to share this story. It’s humbling and confident at the same time. Part of my dream with Neighbor’s Table is cheering others on in gathering people. I want to see a table in every state by 2020.
We’re actually building tables now and selling them to people. I’m taking steps of confidence to help others gather people around their tables. It’s a dance between humility and confidence.”
Sarah, tell us what it means to live a rich life.
“The richness in relationships and begin present with people, when the light dances across people’s faces whom I’ve never met. Richness happens in chasing a dream, a love mission. There is a wealth that is just bubbling up in my heart for people and it feels right. For me, it’s about people.”
Quote of the Day: “Richness is found in relationships.”
Find out more about Sarah and Neighbor’s Table:
On Instagram: www.instagram.com/neighborstable
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/theneighborstable
Here’s a recent video from an event at Sarah’s
Sometimes the SOUNDS coming from the table are my most favorite. We had the honor of hosting a larger group than normal this weekend in our backyard and it sounded like a joyful roar. (Push play for video) Ah, the sounds…soup cups clanging, laughter among new friends, the conversation of dreams and new ideas, live music under the carport, and knives to glasses for the groups attention for one last toast. There were even prayers whispered and tears shed in the quieter moments. It's all these sounds together that let out a "hallelujah". #NeighborsTable #alovemission