Wednesday March 14, 2007

     Can you stand just one more definition?  I thought this one was great!

Hospitable: 1. Receiving and entertaining strangers with kindness and without reward; disposed to treat guests with generous kindness; as a hospitable man. 2. Proceeding from or indicating kindness to guests; manifesting generosity; as a hospitable table. 3. Inviting to strangers; offering kind reception; indicating hospitality.

     I see a common thread there.  The common thread is kindness!!  I am sure that most of you are kindly natured.  Sometimes when we are home, though, we forget our “company manners” and our guests are left feeling ill at ease.  When you have folks over, remember that we want to make them feel welcome.

     Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

     To my shame, I have never, ever treated my guests as well as I would treat the Lord.  We should really make every effort to treat every guest in our home, regardless of age, financial standing, etc., in the same way that we would treat Jesus.  I’m not back peddling at all on what I’ve already said about not needing to be extravagant.  Jesus dined with regular folks, and even with those deemed undesirable by many.  I am sure that He was served many a humble meal.  I’m talking about giving your guests the best part of you!  Your best conversation.  Your best manners.  The fullness of your time while they are in your home.

      I know that we are all familiar with the story of Mary and Martha.  In Luke 10:38, we find that Martha has invited the Lord into her home.  In fact, the Bible says that she “welcomed him into her house.”  Martha was very hospitable, or was she?  She was the one who issued the invitation, but she then busied herself with work, rather than tending to her guests and completely missed her opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet.   You may very well need to leave your guests for short amounts of time while you finish up meal preparations, but do not be a Martha and let all that busy work keep you from your guests!!  Rather, be a Mary, and give yourself to your guest with your time and presence.

     What does this look like in practice, though?  Folks are coming over for a meal, and there are always those last minute things that need to be done.  That’s fine!!!  Do not, however, spend so much time with preparing and serving and cleaning up and fixing dessert and coffee and serving that and cleaning up again that you never take the time to sit down and visit with your guests.  I have, on more than one occasion, been a guest in someone’s home where I’ve not done much more than exchange simple pleasantries with the lady of the house because she has been so busy “doing“.  I was given no opportunity to visit with my hostess or to get to know her better. 

     My mom was a wonderful hostess!  She had a knack for putting together HUGE buffet style dinners for twenty or more people, and making it look effortless.  The truth of the matter is, it was always a lot of work; but she did the majority of the preparation far in advance of her guests’ arrival.  They might have seen her pulling dishes out of the oven and the fridge just before serving, but that took her only a few minutes away from them.  The rest of her time was spent with her guests.  I have wonderful pictures from some of these events, and there are always plenty of shots of my mom either relaxing at the table with her guests after the meal, or seated on the couch engaged in conversation with guests before and/or after the meal. My point is this; she gave her guests not only a wonderful meal, but also the best of herself as well.

     My mom’s guests knew they were welcome because she made them feel that way.  She never gave anyone the impression that their visit was an imposition.  She never let anyone leave hungry!  She never rushed anyone out the door!  All guests, regardless of age or any other measure was made to feel welcome.

     Finally, do not be discouraged when things don’t go quite as you had planned.  Notice that I did not say “if” things don’t go as planned.   Burgers will burn.  Casseroles won’t heat through.  You’ll forget the butter.  Don’t sweat the small stuff!!  Because these things happen to everyone, your guests will understand.  Strangely enough, knowing that you are not perfect may even make them feel more comfortable!  Remember, they are there to enjoy your fellowship, the meal or snacks are just a bonus.  When something goes wrong, make the best of the situation and go right on with your visit.  Besides, it’s the “ooopsies” that happen that give us the best memories!

     The very first time that I had a meal with Copper’s extended family on his Dad’s side, I was invited for a Sunday Supper to his paternal grand parents’ house.  I had met his Dad, but I had not met his grandparents, or his uncle, or his aunt.  We had been dating for a few months, and I was nervous!!  Grandma had laid a nice Sunday supper table for her family.  We were a large group, but we all fit around the dining room table.  Supper was served family style.  After Grandpa asked the blessing, we began serving ourselves and passing the dishes around the table.  The conversation was cheerful, and we were all commenting on the amount of food, how great everything looked, etc.

     When the last dish had finally been passed, I picked up my fork to eat my green salad.  Uh-oh!  I leaned over to Copper to whisper in his ear, “There’s a Band-Aid in my salad.”  Much to my horror, my wonderful then-boyfriend, announced, loudly, “Hey, Grandma! There’s a Band-Aid in her salad.”  Grandma’s reply, “Oh! I’d wondered where that had gotten to!”  We laughed until we cried, and that is still a GREAT memory for me more than 30 years later!

     Grandma’s hospitality was not flawed because her Band-Aid had slipped from her finger while she was tossing the salad.  It was just one of “those things” that happen, and were it not for that “ooopsie”, I’d probably have no memory of that first meal I shared with Copper’s family.

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

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11 comments to Wednesday March 14, 2007

  • First of all, I would just like to say that I love your blog!  I recently read through all of the archives and you have some wonderful tips on homemaking, cleaning, baking, cooking, hospitality, etc. and I have learned so much.  I was wondering… if you have time, could you spell out for those of us who rarely have houseguests what to do with them?  What types of things should be in the guest room?  The bathroom?  What do you do about eating breakfast and during the day when you’re not planning a meal?  Do you just have food on hand and tell them to help themselves?  When they are just at your house for a few days visiting, should you be thinking up ways to entertain them or just go with the flow?  I would love to know your thoughts if you have time. 🙂

  • :sunny: What a beautiful post. I think hospitality is almost a lost “art.” I am doing my best to rear my girls to be not only Godly ladies, wifes and homemakers- but to be hospitable-even to those we don’t necessarily like.

    The Lord has tested me with such things before, and required me to open my home and supper table to the least of my favorite people….but I learned SO MUCH from it!!!

    Thank you for taking you time to post this wonderful blog. :love:

  • Oh, that bandaid story is too funny, Copperswife!! I have always wondered about the cleaning up after bit. Now in Canada, or at least in my extended family, after dinner the ladies would stay in the kitchen and put food away, wash dishes, etc. They always chatted while they worked and I have wonderful memories of staying in the kitchen and trying to be one of the of the adults. :0)

    I never let my guests clean up after a meal, we go into the livingroom for dessert/coffee and to visit. I will quickly put the food away but do the cleaning after they leave. I was just wondering what you do and if maybe it’s different for every family?


  • Kelli: Good question!!  Here’s one of those times when I’m gonna talk out of both sides of my mouth.  Don’t worry, it’s not painful! 😉   When I’m a guest in someone’s home, I am always ready, willing and able to help with dishes, cleaning up, etc.   The chit-chat while the ladies are working is usually such a treat.    However, in my own home, I’m more comfortable doing my own clean up (or asking Dani to do it) rather than having my guests help out.  I will, usually, just have my boys clear the tables and scrape off the plates and stuff, and then stack them in the sink, while Dani and I put away any food, and then I’ll go and sit with my guests.  (I try to fill the sink with hot, soapy water to let the plates and stuff soak in so that clean up is easier when I get back to it.)   Because I have this preference, I tend to not be really pushy about helping in other’s homes.  I’ll offer and if they decline, I won’t protest.  I may offer again, depending on the situation, or ask if I can hang out and chat if they’re cleaning, but I won’t by pushy about it because they may prefer doing things their own way. 

    So, there you have it!!  I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, so long as you are not leaving your guests, or at least the female guests, too long on their own while you are working in the kitchen.  They can assist with the clean up (if they are so inclined), or just sit and visit while the hostess cleans up, or as would likely happen in your home and mine, the dishes would be left until after the guests leave. 

  • I love your post!!

  • I am the same way Copperswife! I always offer to help clean up and feel guilty when they don’t let me help! LOL


  • I enjoy your blog and especially these posts! I would like to come back more often and learn more from you! Your blog is actually a ministry, as you probably know 🙂 Some of us youngies dont have Titus 2 women in our lives so its so good to connect with people on the internet of all places. Blogging still amazes me in that way.

    Anyways, I loved this post. God bless,


  • I’m just now catching up on blog-reading after being “off” for several days.  Your hospitality posts are just wonderful!!!  You gave me several things to spend some time pondering.  I appreciate you:sunny:!

  • Candy – Thank you so much for your sweet words.  You are always welcome here. 

    Mrs. C/butterflymommy – It’s good to have you back.  I am so thankful that the Lord brought such quick healing to your husband (and to you!).  Thanks for your nice comment.

  • I’ve just now gotten around to reading the final two parts of your hospitality series, and I just loved all of it.  The Band-Aid story was SO funny! LOL  Thanks for doing this series.