Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Journey of Hospitality

Let me just confess that the picture of my dear pup has nothing to do with this post...well except maybe that I want my guests to feel as comfy when they come to my home as my pup looks!! Hows that for a stretch to make a connection? LOL!!

I was thinking today about my journey in being someone who opens her home to others. I have always wanted to be the kind of person who has an open home full of people and love. But it has not always come naturally to me. I have had to work at it, that is for sure!

When my husband and I were married, we lived in a really tiny apartment in a not so safe neighborhood in Portland, Maine. We did open our home. We had a prayer meeting in our home one night a week and had men over from my husband's Bible Study for meals. We also had occasional couples over. I remember that our closet held all our clutter. It was a small closet but it was packed as tight as the contents of a trash compactor!! One time when last minute company was coming, I quickly deposited a counter full of dirty dishes into our bathtub, closed the curtain and prayed no one would look! LOL! Oh those were the days!!

Since then we have lived in large homes and tiny homes. I smile knowingly when I read Paul's words in Phil. 4:12: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty." :) Is it easier to offer hospitality in a larger home? Mostly yes, unless I have let it get too dirty. (um, yeah...) Is it impossible to offer hospitality in a small home? No. I have learned that I am more worried about the state of my home than the people who visit.

The hardest period of my life in having people over was definitely when my children were little. Mothers of young children sometimes need to be patient with themselves, at least until you have the first two grown to about the age of 10. Then you can have them help and they start to become good helpers!!

I did still open my home, but not quite as much and it felt like a lot more work. Little hands can make big messes. Little bodies need consistency and a good nap. But I planned hospitality around my husband's schedule and he was always willing to help. I also had what I called "clutter boxes". Clutter like papers that I had not dealt with but needed to disappear were boxed or bagged before company came. I am so thankful I don't have to do that anymore but it was a necessary evil at the time.

Now my children are 14, 11 and 10. It is not uncommon to have people in my home 3 days in a week. But with the help of my children and many times my husband, we can pull the house together in no time and have a nice meal on the table.

Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

~There is no shame in a paper plate!!

~Most everyone loves roasted chicken or beef with gravy, mashed potatoes and a veggie. And the meat can be cooked the day before and then just heated in the gravy.

~If you can laugh at yourself and have a good sense of humor, it is much easier to bring people into your home. I mean when you run out of gas in the grill and then procede to burn the meat in the oven, just have a good laugh, call the pizza guy, and eat dessert first! :)

~The more often you invite people over the easier it is. If you go too long between guests it gets harder to have anyone over.

~Sometimes you need the pressure of inviting someone over in order to get your house "company ready."

~"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife." Prov. 17:1 People love to be welcomed with love. Modest fare is not an issue.

~When your motive is to bless and serve others in the Name of Jesus, you will be blessed!!


Patty Hall said...

Hi, Karen. It is amazing how quickly life can take over.
I'm not very good at being hospitable. Your tips sound good. I like that Proverbs.
Happy Birthday to your daughter, she is pretty and good job on that cake.
Patty H.

Pam said...

Your tips sound really great! I have learned that sometimes a paper plate is the best thing to use as opposed to pulling out the stops, in that it takes the pressure off of the guest - knowing that things are relaxed, casual, and they don't have to live up to a big show if they reciprocate and have you over.


NicoleH said...

Ah, to be a dog! Ha! I think I need to invite some people over so I will clean this house! You have some really good insights. Thank you, Karen.