December 20, 2012
 a Sunday dinner at our table

Before we all pack up and go our little Christmas ways, I wanted to leave you with something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. Here comes a long post. Are you ready? Maybe you're snowed in and you were just waiting for something extra to read today.. I hope so! So, at the beginning of December a few of my sisters-in-law and I spoke about hospitality at a little Girls Night Out event. You guys would've loved it. In this post, I'll give you an idea of how it went. 
When I found out the topic for the night was hospitality, a few things came to mind right away: 
1. Oh, hospitality! Yay! I love that idea. That's something I want to be really good at.
2. I'm terrible at hospitality. One of my sisters said that she's at an "infancy level" when it comes to being hospitable. Yes! That's me exactly. I love my privacy. I need to learn that it's much more fun to share my home than try to keep it all for myself.
3. What is hospitality? other than making sure your guest room has extra towels and blankets?

I knew from the get-go that this "talk" I was going to give to encourage other girls was really going to be a lesson to myself. And I learned a lot as I got my little 5-minute speech prepared. I found this definition that I really loved and became my main point:
HOSPITALITY: True hospitality simply entails receiving someone as they are and generously extending whatever it is you have to share. -Kristin Tennant

image source 

My ideas about hospitality have become a bit confused, because we live in a world with Martha Stewart. Who I think is super talented and inspiring! I love her cookie recipes and craft supplies and her 500-odd wreath ideas! For Martha Stewart Living, hospitality is an industry. It's also, in reality, a lot of "entertaining." Not the same thing. When I'm flooded with those dreamy images from a Martha Stewart magazine or Pinterest (honestly, I barely spend any time pinning, which is probably a good thing for me.) it's easy to start feeling like any efforts I make simply won't measure up in today's stylish world. It's not bad to have a beautiful home,  but it is bad if that becomes my requirement and motivation for having people over. Jesus showed us true hospitality when He simply gathered people (not always the most desirable guests either) around a table and made them feel welcome, and feel like they mattered. (paraphrased from a great article Hospitality Outside of Pinterest) Following His example, I want to remember that hospitality is an attitude- an approach to other people that you have to practice. It's being kind, open and welcoming. It's a generous desire to serve others and spread the love of Christ. So I don't have a luxurious living room for you to sit in, my house isn't perfectly decorated, and I hardly ever set our table. That's okay! In Romans 12:13, we are called to practice hospitality and I believe He will provide us ways to be generous and hospitable, no matter what our circumstances and however simple the offering may be. Whether it's a glass of water (a perfectly good thing to offer) or a gourmet meal, I have the freedom to be hospitable in whatever season of life I'm in. 

Another thingYes, I admit, I'd love for you to find me pulling something sumptuous out of the oven the moment you arrive at our house. For me, it's relatively easy to be hospitable when everything is all nicely planned out and I have time to prepare an "impressive" meal and clean my house before any guests arrive. In other words, when I'm good and ready. But if I find out someone is going to drop by, I start to freak out a little bit. Although there's nothing wrong with wanting to make your home a pleasant place for guests- if you love to do it, do it! I truly enjoy cleaning and planning fancy menus- there comes a time when my perfectionism just gets in the way and results in me being flustered. My house stays relatively clean  because I enjoy keeping it that way, but if someone is coming over, you will always find me rushing around dusting random surfaces, throwing things upstairs to get them out of sight, and making sure not a single thing is in my kitchen sink. Why? Why do I do this?! I need to just stop. And realize that all I'm trying to do at that point is impress. The only person who would be bothered by some streaks on my bathroom mirror is me. And me having a happy attitude, not worrying about some visible clutter, would set guests more at ease than a spic-and-span house. My mom encouraged me with some wise words on this subject: It's okay if your house looks lived in. Let them see your life going on. People who come over are going to feel more at home and relaxed if they see you being relaxed and being real. 

So, you don't have an immaculate house? Me either! Let's be friends! 

image source

Lastly, if you have guests coming to your house for Christmas, here are some practical ideas to put your hospitality to work. (and if you don't have guests coming, maybe you want to invite someone spontaneously!)
1. Hug everyone when they arrive! Don't be too busy for a warm welcome. 
2. Make a goal of saying something encouraging to each person. 
3. Don't fuss over the details, focus on the heart. Let your home look lived in
4. Plan a meal that won't stress you out. Go as simple as you need to! 
5. Pray that the Lord would direct your conversations. Pray that they will be fun and meaningful and not gossipy. This is something I always like to do before I'm going to hang out with anyone, especially girls. 

Only 5 more sleeps until Christmas, guys!! Have fun cramming in as much fun as you can. See you tomorrow for a Christmas Break sign off!


Shanna said...

Good thoughts, Summer. I especially like the tips at the bottom. I have been guilty of fussing in the kitchen instead of coming out to warmly welcome guests. That is such a good piece of advice! Merry Christmas, friend!

sarah {on the brightside...} said...

I love how you said that being hospitable is more of an attitude that we should practice! There would be a lot less evil in today's society if we all focused more on showing love & kindness to others every day! I can definitely get caught up in trying to be "prefect"... I just need to stop worrying about measuring up to some worldly standard & I need to follow Jesus' example! Such a beautiful reminder for this time of year! Thank you & Merry Christmas!!

Nicole said...

This was great. I shared it with my friend. We spent one evening at our last women's retreat talking about our homes and how they aren't always presentable, or at least what we would call presentable. Thanks for posting and for the practical points.

Kara Gehret said...

This is SO great. And SO convicting. I have so many many many things to say in response to this, but no time to do so. In short, my new thing is just to embrace life where it is at. If it means my house is a bit messy ... ok! If I don't do Christmas baking ... it's ok! If I have to use a gift bag or buy a giftcard ... it's ok! Much of hospitality is about extending yourself enough grace to allow yourself to be an authentic host.

marta said...

i absolutely loved this post. thank you summer. especially the part about God helping us in our conversations. perfect. i imagine you to be a fabulous hostess. yes sirreee. well happy christmasing.

i made turkey stock last night and had a cup of hot broth afterwards and thought of you. enjoy all of your christmas magic.

Toi said...

This is great. We're hosting family on Christmas Eve for the first time this year. Of course my initial thought was some big over the top meal that takes days to prepare and an immaculate house. Then I got the flu. I've been forced to simplify simplify simplify. And I have to say, it feels good. You're right. It's about making your guests feel welcome and special. Not going over the top.

I needed this. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Just got time to sit down and read... love LOVE this. I always scramble and scurry to get my house perfectly clean for visitors. I need to relax, pause and pray instead. Your girls nights sound wonderful.



about this blog

Hello, I'm Summer. A people-loving introvert whose hope and life is in Jesus. His promises are my passion and my ministry is homelife. This blog is a place for me to write about everyday things. Especially food. My favorite thing to do is sit around a table, lingering over a long meal with good conversation. I live with my husband and our 2 littles. We like blizzards, thrifting, grammar, guacamole, cheerful hearts, nice manners, good movies, and making simple, real, nutrient-dense food.

"If Christ be anything, He must be everything."
-C.H. Spurgeon

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