I recently said that Jesus was the most hospitable person who ever lived. One of the ways I seek to be more like him is through hospitality. You can find that thread in my bucket lists, in my calendar of events and as a place in my heart.
Living out hospitality means opening my home to the teenagers, my sisterhood community, my beloved family and the couples we are lucky enough to have as loyal friends.
Hospitality is also a state of the heart. We can grow a friendly and welcoming heart that opens the door to engaging beyond the shallow. Write cards. Send texts. Schedule coffees and breakfasts. Give invitations. Show up in your own little ways as often as you can.
Hospitality has a practical side. I have a system within my home and in my calendar to create space for hospitality. At the end of this blog, I have included a few tips and lists to make hospitality from the heart and home within reach.
In the meantime, I am about to tell you how I stay extremely humble with my hospitality. Let me rephrase. The forces of the imperfect life keep me extremely humble and I just go along with it. I am sharing with you in hopes that my imperfection will store up some joy in your heart. From that joy, I truly hope you’ll put yourself in the path of hospitality.
I love celebrating. I recently had a house party for my husband’s birthday. I do what I can to have a seemingly spotless house. At the end of the day, there are always a few gaping holes in my plan. At this party, I didn’t have time and/or overlooked the teenager bathroom which doubles as the guest bathroom. Whatever you think a teenage bathroom looks like, that’s what the bathroom looked like. There was also the red spaghetti sauce stain on the kitchen backsplash and the sink disposal that broke during the party. Whatever. Imperfect hospitality.
My Pre-Rehabbed Home
I was scheduled to teach a Follow Your Call class at a friend’s house. One of the ladies turned out to have severe cat allergies. The last five weeks of the class shifted to my house. We had just moved in and the rehab was not close to done. At that time, the entire back wall of the house was sliding glass doors from the sixties with peeled off decals. The stains looked like grime that any good housekeeper should have been able to scrub off, but could not actually be scrubbed off. Add broken vertical blinds that allowed sunlight to blast down on the women who sat on the couch. This gives new meaning to hot flashes. Whatever. Gorgeous imperfect hospitality.
My Disturbed Dog
I have an emotionally disturbed dog who bites anyone who touches (yes, physically touches) my husband. He barks like a madman locked up in his crate during the entire “hospitable” event. To polish the night off, he runs after you like a midnight game of man hunt when you try to leave through the front door. Whatever. Imperfect hospitality.
My Discipleship Failure
While I raised my kids, I followed in my mom’s footsteps and reached out to the homeless community. Like the good disciple of Jesus I aim to be, I bought a lot of fast food and groceries and sent my oldest in the streets to deliver along with an uplifting word. Because he is a pleaser, he did exactly as I asked. So you wonder, how did that go? Is he a leader in a homeless ministry? No, he is a young adult who flinches at the sight of a raggedy dressed person approaching him or his car. He rolls up the windows or accelerates like his life depends on it. Whatever. I tried. Hospitality failure.
Generally, To My Shock & Disbelief
I have a friend who witnesses the weirdest things when we are together. For starters, I invited her to come in my house – – for the first time – – when we were doing some kitchen project in our old townhouse. The pile of stuff in the dining room was outrageous. I have no reasonable explanation why I let a new friend inside. My husband was mortified.
The second time she came over, an oversized, disgusting Florida roach crawled out of a kitchen cabinet into plain view. When I visited her house, I fell into a pile of actual garbage in her back yard.
Another time, as I was trying to be my authentic self, I somehow shoved a shoestring French fry with ketchup straight up my nostril. That burned like hell.
All that I can say is that, for the last decade, God has used my life to show her (and me) that hospitality and authenticity live in the same space as imperfection at its height.
What can I tell you? I still aim to be friendly and welcoming in my heart and in my home.
Ridiculous Attempts at Scoring a Ten
Last story. In 2021, I aimed to have one monthly sisterhood event at my home. We lunched and usually watched a break out session from a prior IF:Gathering and then discussed. It was my goal for no woman to lift a finger. So lame of me to create such a burden of hospitality upon myself. Anyway, at the end of one of the events, an outspoken sister said, “you know, you really look like $%*#. You should get some rest.”
Here is the conclusion: Be hospitable. Be real. Open your home. Open your heart. Make it easy. Make a mess (of yourself). Do it often.
In the Home Hospitality
- Over time, acquire catering style white dinner plates and app plates. Store them in a handy spot to pull out for a crowd. Put them back in the exact same spot for the next time you need them.
- Do the same with 24 stemless wine glasses. Make sure everything can go in the dishwasher.
- Look out for cotton dinner napkins and place mats on sale. Keep them folded in a cabinet so you can set a fun, colorful table anytime you want.
- Whenever you can, fill vases with flowers from your yard or from the store. I also love handmade paper flowers that I often use instead of fresh.
- Keep on hand bulk stuff from your favorite store. Things like marinated artichokes, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate and olives. I freeze my favorite breads. If you can pull it out and put it on the counter, you are now quickly hospitable.
- Invite people over for dinner. Have a potluck. Make friends with the prepared food section at your fav store if that works for you. We have a massive picnic table in our back yard. We put up lights, play music and have an evening in the “garden”. We don’t live in a mansion or on the water. We don’t even have a pool. We don’t care. We have fun.
In the Heart Hospitality
- Call friends and acquaintances on the phone from time to time. I always start with, I’m one of those people who likes to talk on the phone. I can hang up and text you if you want. You choose.
- Send texts of pretty verses from Dayspring or Pinterest. Or make some yourself on Canva. Send them to people who need the encouragement. I do the same with snail mail cards every week.
- Pick different people to get to know over a season and have coffee with them once a month. See how God uses you and how God grows the friendship.
- Step it up and start something. Start a group text. Start a creative, monthly meet up at a local tea shop. Start a Marjane game like my friend Dana. Lead a work out like my friends Lynn and Debbie. Host an IF:Table. Invite friends to your second home for a getaway like my friend Astrid. Read a book outloud with a friend like I am with Sara.
- Pray out loud next time you have the opportunity. Say the truth. Laugh as you speak. Ask for what you really need. Welcome others do to the same.
- Think about the little things you are good at or want to be good at. Give that imperfect gift to others. Invite others to give with you. Don’t think too much about the imperfection. God knows. He’s got your vulnerable back.