The holidays are upon us, and I can already feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise in anticipation of what’s to come.
You see, I live in what I lovingly refer to as my Little House on the Freeway. I affectionately call it that because it’s pretty small for my big-fat beautiful nuclear family of eight and extended family of 15 . . . and I happen to love it! I believe that big and beautiful things come in little packages, especially when the package is touched by God.
As small as my home is, over the years we have had several people come to live with us temporarily. Whether it was a relative who needed a place to land for a few months, a sister in Christ who would otherwise be homeless, or a young adult who needed some time to sort things out – we somehow managed to find a way to pack one more in.
That may sound as if I’m a noble soul, but if I were to be transparent, I’d tell you that I’m not a carefree hostess. It’s not my nature to swing my door open and roll out the red carpet for others, not without a good degree of self-induced stress. In fact, I stress like crazy when company comes over, and I’ve grown grey hairs trying to figure out how to seat my large and ever-expanding family at my dining table. Quite frankly, it’s been the cause of me having a meltdown or two (or three!) right before my guests arrive.
I am not a chill host!
But as challenged as I may be when it comes to being a carefree hostess, over the years I have learned how to be more welcoming. The impetus for this has been understanding God’s heart for blessing others with loving fellowship in the name of Jesus Christ.
For instance, when my son was in the military he called home one day to ask me to host him and his FIVE friends for a holiday weekend. I thought he was CRAZY! However, he was very serious, and I was shivering in my boots! But eventually I surrendered and I ended up having one of the best weekends possible hosting five grown boys who had bottomless pits for stomachs!
If you’re anything like me, you excel at practicing what I refer to as a controlled version of hospitality, like when you know in advance who’s coming over so that you can make the appropriate accommodations, and your house is clean, and you’re mentally prepared to entertain, and your children are presentable and not ashy (mostly). You know, like when all the planets are perfectly aligned and all the entertaining variables are perfectly controlled?
That, I can deal with – but that’s rarely how hosting works. We don’t always get to choose the circumstances under which we welcome others.
Thanksgiving is a perfect example.
For some reason, if I ever prayed during the year to be more patient and hospitable, God is going to have me exercise that prayer on Thanksgiving Day, when I have meticulously prepared place settings for my family’s formal, sit down meal, which may even include some DIY Thankgiving themed place cards. (So authentic and cute!)
That’s usually when one of my adult children will walk in with an unannounced guest – something that should make the Christ in me smile, but instead, the planner in me begins to inwardly fume. AARGH!
Of course, at this point it’s physically impossible to add another place setting to the table…but somehow, we manage to make it work. (I think we will eventually begin to hang-off-of the ceiling like bats?)
Now that two son-in-law’s, a niece-in-law, one significant other, and two grandchildren have been added to our table (an near-impossible feat!) this planner is learning to CHILL OUT about the seating arrangement and be gracious as I welcome guests, but I am definitely still a work in progress.
Thankfully, hospitality is a practice we can learn to cultivate. We can pray for a heart that welcomes others. I’ve personally had to ask God to help me to be selfless enough to share my living space more than once.
We can always pray for a heart that cares enough to host a neighbor . . . for a heart that loves enough to pull in a single mom or a couple from our church so they experience the love of Christ.
Practicing hospitality may not be second nature for us, but Because of Jesus, not only can our home satisfy our family, but it can also give life to extended family and friends, and to strangers and pilgrims, as well.
From my home to yours,
So, how are you at practicing hospitality? Do you struggle (as I sometimes do), or are you a carefree “the more unplanned, the merrier” hostess? Do tell!
This post was adapted from Welcome Home Ministry’s new 20-day devotional entitled “Because of Jesus, My Home Is…”
This devotional will inspire you to love your home, equip you to successfully build your home, and deepen your intimacy with God, based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Once you sign up, you’ll receive a welcome letter and then a daily email for twenty days with a scripture verse, a devotional, and a prayer – all designed to help you discover how the rich blessings of your union with Christ uniquely impact your home.
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