Hospitality Here and Now

I love entertaining guests.  It’s an excuse to whip up some good eats, make a fun music playlist, and chit chat the night away with old and new friends.  Thankfully, I have a husband who appreciates this desire in me, so he supports my efforts to have people over, even if he isn’t as outgoing as I tend to be.

I’ve noticed lately, though, that I’ve started making a lot of excuses for our apartment, that it’s too small for entertaining, that it’s inconveniently located, that parking is a hassle, or that my kitchen is too tiny.  I’ll look forward to the day when we have a larger home and can have more guests over, coming up with reasons to avoid doing it now.

But then I think about all the people I know who have used their small homes and minimal resources to make guests feel at home.  Schoolmates often made a dorm room comfortably fit a large party, and nobody complained one bit.  Some friends of mine were recent immigrants from Africa, and their large family had a small apartment, but they shared what they had with many guests.  Their home was always open and welcoming.

I’ve been convicted that instead of postponing my parties, I should be faithful to share what I have now.  It’s ironic that we currently live in our largest apartment yet, moving up after 2 previous apartments, and it’s still not large enough for my tastes. It makes me wonder if I’d ever be satisfied enough to be hospitable.

Partly, this is me seeking contentment with where I am and what I have.  But it’s also me wanting to be a good steward of the limited resources I have.  Jesus explained how we’re all stewards (managers) of the possessions that we’ve been given. Everything belongs to him, but he asks us to manage them for him.  When we’re faithful with the small stuff, he knows that we could be trusted with more someday:  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).  I want to faithfully use the home that I have, even if it’s small.  And that means I can be hospitable in a lot of ways.  It might just take a little creativity.

So last weekend, I took a big step in this direction and invited my book group over to watch a movie and eat dinner at my place.  It took some rearranging of furniture, but everybody had a place to sit.  And I got to invite the entire group.  Sure, it wasn’t a movie theater, but it was much better, if you ask me, because it was my home, a personal place I could share with them.

Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 10:47 am  Comments (6)  

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  1. The bigger and nicer my house, the less people seemed to drop by or hang out. My dorm room (shared with a room mate) always seemed to have three or four people hanging around, loafing on the bed, talking about everything under the sun. Sometimes I wish I could go back to dorm life…but at least we are for now back to early marriage apartment living life. LOVING IT>>>and can’t wait to invite people over!

    AL: You guys have such a neat opportunity to re-live some memories and figure out creative ways to use your space and limited stuff you have there. Especially since you’re living in a new town, that makes for some even more interesting opportunities to meet new people and use your new home. I love what you’ve done so far to make it homey, with all the artwork especially, by the way. =)

  2. Great! GLad you hosted it.
    Alexander Strauch wrote a little booklet called “The Hospitality Commands.” It is a quick read, but it does a great job of reminding us Biblically why we are to show hospitality and what true hospitality is. I think it would encourage you in your pursuits, and remind you that things don’t need to be perfect.

    My senior pastor’s wife frequently has dishes in the sink before people come over. That isn’t her priority. She will try to get to them, but once the guests start arriving, she focuses on welcoming them. Her example to me has freed me for the clutter I can’t seem to hide. I do the best I can, but a perfect Martha Stewart house isn’t true hospitality.

    Great job on your efforts!!!!

    AL: I really admire people who can feel comfortable inviting others over even if there’s clutter or things aren’t quite perfect. I get a little frazzled if I’m not completely prepared. Recently, I caught myself actually sweeping crud under a rug. Who does that! What’s worse, leaving the floor a little messy or sweeping it under a rug! I’m still a work in progress.

  3. Good Blog, Amy. It took me many more years to get to a mind-set of contentment with company and guests.
    It’s not about your apartment, it’s basement cat trying to interrupt your joy – things are never good enough, big enough – on and on. One day I started to think about the places I had felt the most welcome, and happiest to visit. One that came instantly to mind was my grandparent’s house. Small rooms, unorganized, nothing matched, the food simple, yet I would have rather been there than any other place. It’s the people who make a place special. Nothing else matters very much. I applaud you for having your parties now. This sort of contentment and ease is mentioned by Paul- learning to be satisfied – an important message in today’s consumer/commercial driven society.

    AL: great point about grandparent’s houses. Makes me think about how everybody today wants bigger and better than their parents and their parents before them. Why in the world is that, when our happiest memories are probably in those same homes. We’re the more, more, more culture. But you’re right about it being the people. visitors aren’t there for the accommodations. They are there for the people.

  4. Well, crud under a rug… good hiding space.

    Dryers, dishwashers, and ovens also make good hiding spaces in a pinch… just make sure they aren’t on! lol

  5. What a great post Amy. There have been times over the years when I’ve thought, “if I only started househunting earlier, I could have afforded a bigger place”. But God has really helped me find contentment in the space I have now, and I like how you put it – being “a good steward” of what you already have.

    My wife will sometimes say, before we have folks over a visit, “we’ve got to get this place cleaned up !” And I say, “Honey, we LIVE here. What should it look like ?!” Her mom got us one of those room partitions for an anniversary gift. You can hide quite a bit behind that thing !

    AL: I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who has these issues. =) I love the idea of a room partition! My husband did something similar in my apartment. Our kitchen had a doorway that separated it from the rest of the house, and he put a curtain rod and curtain there, so I could shut it off and ignore the mess if company suddenly showed up. Or, if I just wanted to entertain and not focus on the dishes. I stayed with a family in Germany that did this kind of thing, closing off the kitchen when company was over, and I loved it. The wife would cook amazing feasts, then after we’d eat, we’d just leave the dishes to sit so we could enjoy each other’s company. She’d “close the door on them.” This was my husband’s attempt to allow me to do that.

  6. Hi, Amy! As one of the book clubbers who enjoyed your hospitality, I just wanted to say another big THANK YOU! Your home was the perfect size, at the perfect time, and you were the perfect hostess for our “Pride & Prejudice” movie nite =)

    AL: Aw shucks. Thank Melanie. You’re too sweet! I had the best evening. What a wonderful way to spend time with friends, watching a good movie based on a great work of literature, and eating all sorts of yummies. Thanks for your contributions to the desserts!

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