Monday, November 14, 2011

Open Hearts and Homes

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
- 1 Peter 4:9

So many conversations on homemaking focus on the nuts and bolts of cooking and cleaning, or on family discipleship. However, there is one homemaking talent that often gets neglected. We are called upon by God to extend hospitality to others and as the holiday season approaches, I suspect that many anticipate opening their homes just as much as I do.

That's right. I love my friends and I love making new friends, but the thought of opening my home makes me all but break out in hives. You see, in real life, I'm a rather bookish and somewhat introverted sort. And like a lot of bookish people, I have a houseful of books. It's probably hazardous. And that doesn't even touch the admission that sometimes I think I know more about relating to books than I do about entertaining people.

It's paradoxical, really. I love my friends, and I truly enjoy getting to know people and hear their stories. Big crowds make me tired and sometimes I'm shy about reaching out, and yet my heart knows that God created me to live in community with others. And so that still, small voice brings me out of myself seeking to connect with other people.

In that longing for connection I also feel called to bring people closer. We celebrate Thanksgiving, thanking God for all of the wonderful blessings He has showered on us. And we celebrate the birth of God's own Son. These are mighty things and even shy as I sometimes am, I want to share them with others and I feel God's call to extend hospitality to other people ever stronger this time of year.

Autumn table decoration

Somehow in the busyness of everyday life, it seems like an indulgence to throw the chores aside and sit down to tea or coffee with a friend, or with someone new that might be a friend someday. Or the thought of changing up routines in order to have a Christmas open house might seem like too much. Yet I can tell you that I've never once regretted having done any of these things(not even the time I burned the turkey and we had Thanksgiving nachos and pizza from the only convenience store in town that was open!) and I know that God will give me what I need to reach outside my comfort zone and do it again.

When I do things to make my home cozy and inviting, I cherish the warmth that it creates for me and my husband. However, the more I think on it, the more it really does seem selfish not to extend that warmth. If I get lost in my own fears over not knowing what to say to people or my own sometimes disorganization, I'm not only missing a chance to make or deepen friendships for myself. More importantly, a chance to show love to others in Christ's name gets lost in the shuffle. Hospitality is an important part of our ministries from home and it is a way that we can, "love one another with brotherly affection," as Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:10.

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

So, how do you normally extend hospitality to others? Do you have the gift of hospitality or is this something about which you need to be more purposeful? What do you plan to do to show hospitality this holiday season?

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  1. This is definitely something I need to work on more! I'm taking one step at a time. We live in a small apartment, so it's hard to have more than one or two people over at a time, but now we're actually inviting people over. I need to work on the basics, because it seems that whenever people walk though the door, I forget to do the little things like offering them a drink! I mean well, but I haven't trained myself well enough yet!

    Your post reminded me of loving your neighbor as yourself. I love being in a warm, inviting, relaxed, friendly and if I'm loving my neighbor as myself, then I'm going to offer those things to them as well!

    This was a really great reminder for me. Thanks for being vulnerable. It's really nice to be able to relate to someone on the things I struggle with!

  2. I'm glad to see that I am not the only one who struggles with hospitality. I too, in real life, am quite introverted, and the thought of many crowds of people around literally makes me a bit uneasy. Yes, I love to make new friends and help people, but sometimes, it can can seem to be too much for me with my introverted personality.

    At any rate, your post has given me a bit of encouragement to reach-out to others. Let's hope, in the future, I can be better with this kind of humble service.

  3. Thanks for being so open about your struggle with this. I know it can be hard to put yourself out there. I admit to having a difficulty with this as well. People don't perceive, or at least that's what they say, that I have trouble feeling comfortable in a crowd or knowing what to say. But, I do. I guess those neggie messages from my youth are still haggling me sometimes...not good know those? I've been working on inviting people over more which means making sure my home is ready at all times, just in case.

    Anyway, thanks for this great post - I'll definitely be praying for help in this area.

    God bless you!

  4. My problem with hospitality is that I'm a perfectionist and put all this pressure on myself to have things perfect when people come... but I'm slowly learning what true hospitality is, and easing the pressure off of myself. Late last year, I read a wonderful book on hospitality, which I would highly recommend to everyone! (that's my review on my book blog)

  5. I struggle with this too! Due to health issues, I battle with "catch up" work all the time and must purposefully move beyond my own expectations of what my home should be like in order to show hospitality!

    Beautifully written post, Amy!

  6. Thanks for sharing your transparent heart. Hospitality can be an intimidating call.

    God has developed this gift in me, but it has come through doing it even when I felt ill-equipped. Now, I have people coming and going from my home every week. I manage to keep the main rooms picked up so that unexpected guests always have a seat. It also helps in preparing for our regularly gatherings without much stress.

    I encourage you to step out in faith, and step out small, but start inviting others into your home and heart.

    By His Grace,

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by, too!

  7. Oh, I can so relate to your post. My home is filled with mounds of books. I'm an English teacher, and I love, love, love to read. I'm also introverted by nature, usually the quiet one in a group. I love to connect with others, on a deeper heart level, but I am sometimes reticent to do so.

    It's nice to "meet" you here. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  8. Very timely post...this subject has been on my heart lately. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  9. What a timely post. I find opening my home hard in the season of small children. I am praying God allows me the cha ce to do this over this holiday season!

    Thank you for inspiring!

  10. I saw your lily of the valley image on someone else's blog and it drew me straight here. I love lily of the valley -- wanted it for my wedding bouquet but that didn't work out. ANYWAY....

    Hospitality. I have learned (after 21 years married) that hospitality happens more when I stop worrying about my self-image. I used to think the house had to be sparkling, neat as a pin. Now I realize that a cup of coffee shared with a friend after school books get moved to another stack is okay. Hearts connect regardless of clutter.

    Of course, I still prefer a clean house, but with two teens, two jobs, a first grader and a dog... love beats tidying every time. :)


  11. I love to have people over. So I think I have this gift. I used to worry and think, oh, if we had a bigger house, and I had more time to prepare, and if our kids didn't have so much going on, but you now, you know what? Now, I just try to enjoy.

    Perfect reminder. Especially now at this time of year.

    ps I think it's brave of you to be vulnerable and throw yourself out like this.