Monday, November 10, 2014

The Heart Of Hospitality

home and heart

I was raised in a very active household as the only girl out of four children. Not only were we a family of six with four very active kids, but to add to the hustle and bustle of a noisy, active household, our parents opened up our home on a regular basis as hosts to a plethora of people and various activities. We had people over for dinner often. I remember my parents and hosting taffy pulls at our house when I was young and I remember our home being a stop point for part of Chinese food progressive meals my parents were involved in through our church. My Mom held music practices at our house, we had game nights, birthday parties, holiday gatherings and sometimes people just stopped by out of the blue for a cup of coffee with my folks.  My Mom often babysat extra kids. She gave violin lessons. She let us children have our friends over often. One of my favorite childhood memories is of apple cider pressing parties in the fall and I recall my Mom canning with her friends at our house sometimes, or sometime at theirs. Sometimes we had company over simple lunches of bean and bacon sandwiches or tomato soup, and I remember picnic lunches outside on the lawn with my friends.

Sunday afternoons were reserved for fellowship and/or rest. We often arrived home after church to a delicious smelling roast in the crock pot and company in tow or we were invited for Sunday afternoon meals at the homes of our family friends. My Grandparents were the same way. They were warm and hospitable, always having people over to their home and my Grandma's cooking and pie baking were famous in their church and neighborhood.

When my brothers and I were in our teens, my parents had an open door policy for the most part. We were pretty much welcome to bring our friends home for a visit most of the time.

The art of hospitality has been virtually lost in today's society of Starbucks coffee meetings or quick lunches out at restaurants. Don't get me wrong, these definitely have a great value, but opening homes to guests just doesn't happen like it once did. This subject has come up several times with a variety of people in conversations over the years and through bits and pieces from these conversations, it boils down to one thing. Intimidation. People don't trust they have what it takes to do it.

1. They think they have to set a fancy table and have their house perfect. (Think Pinterest)

2. They don't think they have a large enough space.

3. They aren't blessed with cooking skills

4. They don't think their house is "nice enough"

5. They don't want to clean their house for company because the idea overwhelms them.

I can certainly understand those concerns, but I would like to take a minute to share what true hospitality looks like.

Hospitality is Extending the Hand of Friendship

hospitality space

 Anything goes; small spaces or large spaces, fancy homes or cozy, simple homes, home cooked food, or store bought food, a cup of coffee or tea, a plate of cookies (bought or baked at home), a bowl of hot soup out of a can or home made soup, a big pot of chili shared between friends, a football party with snacks and desserts, a bring your own meat backyard barbecue, sledding parties in the winter with hot cocoa or cider, grilled cheese sandwiches and soup shared between friends.

Hospitality is simply offering what you have to people you care about. It's opening your home and letting people experience part of your world with you.  It can be very uncomplicated and ordinary OR it can be fancy. It can be a simple meal served in the living room with T.V. trays or a an extravagant meal around a table set with fine china. Move the laundry over and offer someone a cozy seat on your couch. Life is messy. Hospitality does not demand perfection.

The best part of hospitality is the warmth of the gift of caring. We have been invited into many homes over the years and I have enjoyed each one. I love a beautiful table set with china and crystal, but I love the parties where a hot bowl of chili  was served while we ate at T.V. trays just as much. The point is to enjoy people. Show love. Have fun and create memories.

hospitality presence

I loved being in the kitchen with my Grandma on holidays. It was so much fun talking, laughing and helping her set the table and bake cookies and pies. I loved helping her make the gravy, or potatoes, or Jello or whatever she let me help her with. I just loved being at Grandma's house. I felt at home there. I felt wanted, loved, and cherished. Those were great relationship building times between my Grandma and me and now that she is gone, I will cherish those memories forever.

This past week-end, we had a very busy week-end, packed with hospitality opportunities at our own house. We don't usually have quite so many people over in one week-end, but we had company on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday after church. If there is one thing I have learned over the years that makes hospitality enjoyable, it's the word "simplify." It really is the name of the game. We kept the meals nice, but simple. We prepared ahead. Most importantly, we had fun in the process.

  Four years ago I received my Grandma's beautiful china from my Mom. Since my fifteen year old daughter had gotten a cleaning and organizing bee in her bonnet last week, my china hutch and silverware were so fresh and pretty in the cabinet that it gave me a desire to pull them out and use them. The boys were busy cleaning windows, scooping and cleaning the yard, cleaning the bathroom, helping with food prep and running any errands I asked of them.  The girls and I had a great time together as we prepared food, baked cookies and made little chocolate/peanut butter candy desserts for our company. We swept the floor, mopped it, teased each other and laughed our heads off together in the process.  We had music playing, candles lit, and the table turned out beautiful. I don't own a fancy table cloth, so we didn't use one. We used what we had. Our crystal glasses don't all match. Our silverware doesn't even all match, but we set it all out there anyway.  We have very different dietary needs than we had growing up, so our meal was entirely gluten free, egg free and healthy, but it was beautiful and delicious. The table all set with my husband's family silver, my Grandma's china and the crystal wedding gifts from our own wedding held a life time of beautiful memories for me.

Teaching your children how to be hospitable is another good reason for having people into your home. They learn how to make things special. They begin to appreciate all the little details that go into it and they learn to serve and give. When we all work together, we can make a fancy or a simple evening come together very fast and with plenty of fun involved. They also learn to appreciate the hospitality others show us.

photo 4 (3)

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint." 1 Peter 4:9

"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Romans 12:13

photo 2 (3)

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

"The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold." Acts 28:2

    hospitality defined


  1. What a wonderful reminder! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Cindy, it's great to hear from you and it's always nice to know these posts touch somebody. Thank you for taking the time to comment. God bless you! For some reason, my daughter is logged in and I can't get her logged out, so this really is from me, Jana, but it looks like it's from Christine. :)