I love showing hospitality to people. I think it is a combination of gifting from the Lord and training from my wonderful southern family. Being hospitable was all I’ve ever known from holiday family gatherings, church socials, parties, and social visits. I spent my childhood watching my grandparents and parents feed people and invite them into our lives. When I went away to college my dorm room became a place where I could show hospitality, from late night conversations, chocolate to heal the emotional hurts, and band aids and Tylenol for the physical pains it was a place where people gathered.
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However, somewhere around the time that I became a working mother with two small children I became so overwhelmed that simply stopped being hospitable. It was not an intentional decision, my plate was full and I didn’t think I could add anything else to it. I was juggling work, children, and church and did not see time for including hospitality into my life. I always felt like the house needed to be cleaner, I needed more time, and I was too exhausted to be social after a long day.
Fast forward a few years, I now have 4 children and I work from home. It would still be really easy for me to feel like I didn’t have time to show hospitality. However,the reality is that not only is it a gift from God, it is a command from God that we show hospitality. This does not mean that we are all required by God to thrown big elaborate dinner parties, but in our own ways we are all commanded to be hospitable.
About two years or so ago, God started really showing me that I needed to be using my gift for hospitality more and that I did not need to wait for everything to be perfect or to host elaborate gatherings (though I do love a good dinner party) in order to demonstrate hospitality. God put several books into my life to reinforce His desire for me to be hospitable. The Life Giving Home and The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson, A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman (full review), and most recently Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt.
In addition to books, God gave our family an opportunity to show hospitality to hundreds of relief workers in the after math of Hurricane Florence. I certainly would not wish the disaster on anyone and the days and weeks afterwards were challenging. However, it has provided us with the opportunity to show hospitality, outside of our home. First on a daily basis, and now several times a week we have the opportunity to cook meals and provide for the needs of workers who have come into town to help with the disaster recovery. The details of that opportunity really deserve their own blog post and I will be writing more about it soon, but God really used it to show me that there are many ways of being hospitable.
While we still have several months of relief efforts ahead of us, that ministry is winding down and I had been wondering what God might have in store for our family. Both my husband and I have a desire and a gifting for hospitality but we both sometimes get overwhelmed in the day to day of life and forget to be intentional about hospitality. I found the book Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt and was given a copy for Christmas. This book was such a blessing for me in helping to confirm so of the things I was feeling and to offer up ideas and insight into ways that we could be more hospitable as a family.
One of the things that I loved most about this book is that she talks about hospitality from the view point of a family. It is very important to us that our children be a part of our hospitality efforts. We know that if we want them to grow up to demonstrate hospitality they need to have seen it modeled and participated in it while they are still under our roof. From the time they are old enough to color pictures and put silverware on the table our children begin to help us serve others. I loved how Jen shared not only how her children helped them to show hospitality but also the effects that it had on them as they got older.
She goes into multiple types of hospitality in various chapters in the book. Everything from pot lucks and dinner parties to inviting her son’s college friends into their home on the weekends. She even goes into topics such as hospitality through adoption and hospitality in hard times such as illness or death. She talks about how they showed hospitality on a nearly nonexistent budget when times were tight. It was such a great reminder that hospitality isn’t just having people over for dinner (though that is a wonderful way to show you care).
At the end of each chapter is a section called Elevate the Ordinary. These little gems are simple suggestions to take things a step further. Ideas like saving money by purchasing your paper products at after holiday sales, using a simple mason jar and fresh cut flowers to decorate for free, creating family traditions, and ways to make your home one where the kids want to hang out.
Whether you are just get started in the world of hospitality, or if like me, you just needed some fresh ideas and encouragement to jump back into that ministry, this is a wonderful book. This book can help you make your life and family culture one of hospitality.
What are your favorite ways to show hospitality? What areas are you struggling in or would you like to see tips on?
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