Tuesday, May 21, 2013


My mom and mother-in-law preparing a meal
We used to giggle together in the van waiting for my mom to join us before going on a family vacation. The car was packed, the kids were in, everyone had gone to the bathroom and my mom was mopping us out the door. As a kid, I thought it was so funny that she cleaned the house before we left on a trip. Now that I am an adult, I get to experiencing the joy of giggling at myself. I have turned into that glorious woman, cleaning myself out of the house before we leave town. I knew that coming home to a clean house would feel like being welcomed back.

Joel hanging out in our living room
Any time we had guests come over when I was growing up, we knew that meant a list of chores would be presented and we would need to get to work. We'd fuss over who was giving up their bed and who would be cleaning the toilets while we'd smell the delicious scents of mom's cooking in the kitchen. Hospitality has always been important to my mother but I didn't just learn it form her. 

It is with deep respect that I call my grandmother a "domestic artist." She turns her home into a parade of delights from her handmade center pieces on the dinning table, vases of flowers, to the handmade bowls and platters that her meals are displayed on. Even the dishes she cooks are full of colors and sprigs of edible flowers or herbs that please the eye as well as the mouth. My family has always valued hospitality.

Friends hanging out in the living room
It is no wonder that Joel and I both enjoy keeping our home community-ready. We live in community being part of both a large church and part of  college life living on the campus where Joel works. We love to entertain and invite friends over so that we can share meals, music and artwork. If someone needs a place to host a party, gathering, small group, we like for it to be with us. We enjoy having overnight guests and showing people around our city. We love hosting anyone who wants to come for a visit. 

A Family gathering at our apartment
The gift of hospitality doesn't just bless us with abounding joy but I like to think that it shares that joy with whoever crosses the threshold of our home. When you walk into a home that is clean, smelling of food or flowers, you just feel like you are welcome there. It doesn't seem like an interruption, it seems like you were meant to walk right on in and enjoy. I remember every home I was welcomed into over the years. The ones that rushed me with hospitality still stand out in my mind. The impression those people made on my life where huge just from opening their homes to me. Something about inviting someone into the intimacy of your space, feeding them, sharing with them, allowing them to play or rest where you play and rest is life changing.I am so grateful for the restoration and affirmation what was washed over me in those places.I have always wanted to be able to give that gift to someone just has it had been given to me. 

 I believe that through the loving embrace of hospitality, I have experienced God. The fullness of welcome touches the body, mind and spirit. This gift is holy.
Celebrating our friends engagement

Throughout scripture there are accounts of God blessing those who bless others with hospitality. It seems that God even comes in disguise to test mankind with this gift like when he sent angels to visit Abraham

God seemed delighted to discover ol' Abe was ready to cook up some food, offer his sleeping mat, and hangout all day with perfect strangers. According to the Torah, hospitality is a law. Jesus reminds us that when we shelter someone, feed someone, clothe someone, we are doing it for Him. Whether you are a follower of Christ or not, this practice has got to hit a chord of truth in you somewhere. 

Hospitality is one of humanity's most ancient practices. Entire cultures have killed each other over hospitality being absent in daily interactions. There is transformational power in the gift of hospitality and I believe we are called to live into it with reverence and gratitude.It offers us peace.

God's gifts become life-giving when they are shared. 

 Here are some the things Joel and I value sharing with visitors in our home:
  • Food- we love making meals that are healthy, from scratch to share with friends and visitors.
  • Tea- we always have some variety of hot tea ready to be tasted with guests.
  • Artwork- all of the artwork in our house was either made by us, purchased on a journey we have taken, or given to us by artist friends or family. It all has a story that we love to share.
  • feeding our friends
  • Smells- we love to have cookies ready, dinner cooking, or scented candles lit so that those comforting smells dance around our home.
  • Light- Joel loves mood lights. They make us feel at ease, relaxed and open to the moment, so we hope they do the same thing for our guests.
    flowers from The Grands in a cool vase
  • Candles- Candles are a luxury in life when you don't need them for light but if you can afford them they really do bring a warmth and life-giving energy to a room.
  • Flowers and plants- I like to keep potted plants and vases of flowers around our apartment. They freshen the air, bring beauty to a room, and connect us to nature.
  • Wine- we enjoy keeping our wine rack ready with vino to share with friends. Ecclesiastes tells us to drink wine with gladness! We share wine in times of celebration and time with guests and friends is something to celebrate. Jesus asks us to remember him with this cup and we do.
    Joel jamming with a friend
  • Music- we love to have music playing in our apartment, share music and create music together with guests. We have been known to start a jam session or drum circle out of the blue.
  • A dear friend with me in our kitchen

How have you been transformed by hospitality?