My parents were (and still are!) great examples in the area of opening their home. We constantly had people in our home, whether it was for Bible Studies, dinner, a hang out for our friends, etc. My mom loves serving and giving…and is very good at it. There are always multiple candles throughout the house, a yummy beverage served upon arrival, everything is nice and tidy, music in the back ground, a feast on the table, and the list goes on! She is pretty much a Christian Martha Stewart. This has made it feel “natural” to me to open our home, and I enjoy it.
However, I have had to make some adjustment with hosting and having little ones, because prior to these adjustments, crazy mom would come out when I had people over. I finally realized I couldn’t be like my mom during this phase of my life. I would get irritated at my kids. My first priority, my family, got pushed aside as I was busy trying to tidy the house, light the candles, brew the coffee, turn on the music, set out some treats (ideally I would make something fresh but, that’s just ideal), all while trying to get the kids to finish breakfast, get some clothes on, nurse the baby, keep the toilet clean in the kids/guest bathroom… You get the picture. I was a stress case, and then would open the door and greet my friends with a big smile (sometimes fake). That’s not really a good example of showing hospitality to my kids. They probably dreaded when people came over!
It took me a while to realize that I needed to take a deep breath and just…let it go. I know, sounds simple, but sometimes it just takes that little revelation to realize a big change needs to happen. So maybe not every toy is put away, or the coffee hasn’t finished brewing, or my kids are only half dressed with breakfast dishes still in the sink. Does it matter? (I will say, I still light a candle to hide any dirty diaper smells 😉 ) And do you know why I think it was hard for me to make these changes? Because I had good intentions. I didn’t want a clean house and yummy treats just so people thought, “Wow, she has a clean house and yummy treats!” Part of the struggle is that I want to spoil those mama’s. I want them to walk in to a nice relaxing house, hand them a hot cup of coffee and let them enjoy a fresh homemade muffin while the kids play (ideally). I know from experience they probably didn’t get to finish their coffee and they *maybe* scarfed down their breakfast as they were rushing out the door. So, even with good motives, I had to adjust. It’s kind of like how you can be too busy with all good things…but you’re still too busy and need to cut back. Maybe instead of a warm homemade muffin it may just have to be something store bought, and sorry friends, but you might have to help yourself to the coffee!
I realized I couldn’t be a good mom, have a beautiful home cooked meal, and a perfectly clean house. So I’ve had to let go of the things that aren’t as important… and things are going much better! This way I can still be a good host, and a good mom. As much as I enjoy doing all the extra things, and its not bad to do those things, I just can’t do it all in the season of life. One day I will though. One day, when my kids have fled the nest, I want to spoil those young mommas with littles at home! 😉
I want to share a passage from Romans thats a good read, even if you aren’t the Bible reading type.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is
good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be
lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient
in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always
be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 (NLT).
Lets talk for a minute about the difference between hosting and hospitality in the dictionary. Hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” To be a host is to be “a person who receives or entertains guests at home or elsewhere.” Doesn’t the definition of hospitality seem so much more warm and welcoming?! The “friendly and generous” embrace of guests, visitors, or strangers. My interpretation is that God wants us to invite anyone and everyone (well, within safe reason) over to our homes, to bless them, love on them, and welcome them with a warm smile and hug!!!
God said to “always be eager to show hospitality”. He wants a willing heart and a genuine smile to our guests, visitors, or strangers. Isn’t it sad to think that sometimes we could be missing out on blessing others because we are too worried about how things look?! So, if opening your home doesn’t come naturally for you or is nerve wracking…take a deep breath. Showing hospitality is not about presenting a perfect home, its about your heart. And let me tell you, if you are warm and welcoming to your guest…they won’t care about the bookshelves you didn’t dust. They will see a sweet spirit that has blessed them, and therefore, blessed God. That is what is truly important.
Although showing hospitality isn’t about how perfect things are, its nice to prepare a little before having guests. There’s a balance with everything! If you feel at a loss where to begin, I have created 5 simple steps in quickly making your house look presentable.
1) Set out a pitcher of iced water and maybe add a few lemon slices or strawberries to the water…thats it. A little added touch can go along ways in making someone feel extra welcomed. I mean, don’t you feel like lemon slices in your water would make you feel like that?! Oh, I love putting straws out too, feels extra fancy and takes one second.
2) Put all the dishes in the sink, you don’t even have to do them, but have them stacked in the sink.
3) Remove clutter from the counter, or at least put it in a corner in a nice little pile (ha!).
4) Fluff the pillows on the couch
5) Quickly wipe down the toilet with a cleaning wipe (I leave some in the cupboard next to our toilet because…toddlers) and remove items from the bathroom floor. If you have kids, I also recommend possibly lighting a candle or spraying something fragrant in the bathroom 😯
And when your guest knocks on the door, open it with a smile and be your sweet self! I’m sure you will bless them. Now lets put this hospitality thing into practice! Pick a time this month and have someone over, whether its for some lemon water or dinner, whatever you feel comfortable with!
Did these tips help? Does hosting come easy for you, or is it a stretch for you? What holds you back from having others in your home? Have you been thinking about this lately? I’d love to hear from you!