Generation Cedar

Hospitality or Humility: Practical Tips for Practicing HospitalityHospitality, according to Jesus, is essentially being willing to be humiliated!”

Hospitality= Humble Service=”Caring for the needs of others”

Jesus’ last act as He knelt and washed the disciples’ feet–caring for their basic, unexciting needs, was the final, ultimate irony of His entire message to us:  “Forget yourself, become the least, serve until you’re spent and you can be My disciple”.

I think it’s significant that He used the lowest of acts AND performed them for his “spiritual family”, those men who had become like sons to Him, as His “grand finale”.  I don’t know about you, but I need to hang out in that story for a bit!

Once we understand the What, Why, When and How of Hospitality, it is easier to focus on the practical ways to carry out this important command.  With all our notions of entertainment and impression aside, we should feel freer now to embrace real hospitality. Instead of being prompted by pride (impress them with my food, my house, etc.) Jesus reminds us that hospitality is essentially being willing to be humiliated! Ouch.

“Outward” Hospitality

I mentioned in the last post that phone calls, sending cards and carrying meals are a few ways to show hospitality.  It’s very easy to make this a regular part of our lives with a little forethought.  Hints:

  • Keep a basket full of note cards, stamps, pens and address book.  Keep the basket in a visible place as a reminder.  Ask the Lord to lay someone on your heart and follow through with a kind word.  If He prompts you to send a monetary gift, it can be a tremendous blessing to someone, if not just to say, “God has not forsaken you”. Consider those you may not readily think about–often the women who seem to “have it all together” don’t, and could use a word of “I’m praying for you today”.
  • Occasionally make an extra meal/plate while you cook for your family to have on hand when a neighbor needs a meal.  My Dad has the habit of fixing a plate from their dinner and carrying it to a widowed man down the road.  It is about the only cooked meal he ever eats.  It takes less than 10 minutes and it is a tremendous blessing to “Mr. Bill”.
  • I’ve mentioned before the incredible gift that my friend’s daughters have given to me on more than one occasion. Sometimes they will bring a meal and clean the house for me, mostly because they just love to serve.  Busy moms appreciate acts of kindness as much as the next person!
  • Our neighbors usually bring a huge basket of breakfast food (cereal, bread, jam, fruit, etc.) when we come home after a new baby has been born.  A very practical relief to sleepy parents.

Hospitality at Home

Having people over, though not the only way to show hospitality, is the area most people feel inadequate.  There are several things our family thinks are important as we practice hospitality:

  1. If it’s too stressful, we’ll avoid it, so we must make it doable for our family in our season.
  2. If it’s stressful, Mom isn’t joyful.  If Mom isn’t joyful the rest of the family isn’t either.  If we can’t welcome others into our home with joy, there’s no point.
  3. A welcoming spirit is much more important than the menu.
  4. Be practical.
  5. Everyone serves.
  6. If we don’t plan deliberately (get out the calendar, call and invite someone) it remains something “we need to do”.
  7. An imperfect house is not only OK, but can be tremendously encouraging to another mom who (incorrectly) thinks you are perfect.   Tidy is good; perfection is hypocrisy.

Food.

We recently concluded that a one or two dish meal needed to become our standard “company menu” for several reasons.  One, it’s easier to prepare ahead of time and anything you can do early in the day relieves stress as time for guests to arrive approaches.

Secondly, if there are a lot of people, it’s much less chaotic at meal time to serve from one or two dishes rather than five or six.

Third, if the budget needs considered, this is usually the most economic route.

I’ve learned from more seasoned women that selecting one or two regular “guests menus” saves a lot of stress; also, you become more efficient practicing with the same menu.  (See one of our menus below.)

Note: It’s perfectly wonderful to have people over just for dessert and coffee–especially at first if you just want to ease in.

Cleaning House

As I’ve mentioned, I’m learning that not only is it OK for our house to not be perfect (no point trying), but I am personally relieved to see someone’s house look a bit lived in as well. So I feel there’s a balance; we should honor our guests by presenting a tidy, pleasing atmosphere, but we should not feign perfection as it provides neither us nor our guests any benefit.

Tips:

  • We designate Fridays as cleaning day.  This is also the day we try to invite others over.  Having company is added incentive for everyone to work diligently and cheerfully.
  • Play soothing music during dinner–this is a biggie on our list.
  • Light candles.  Low lights and candles hide a lot of dust;-)
  • Focus on the main areas and guest bath; don’t sweat the rest.
  • Baskets and containers will help keep things looking organized and allow you to do a quick toss before guests arrive.
  • It makes people feel especially welcomed if you or some of the family is waiting on the porch when they arrive.  Likewise, walking them out and waving them off sends the message that you really enjoyed your time.
  • Listen intently, ask questions and care about what your guests have to say.  If your heart is set on loving the Lord, “out of it will flow rivers of living water”.

One of our menus:

Just for your information:

I estimated this entire meal to cost less than $12.  It fed 14 people the first night (lots of children, mind you), 9 people again the next night (our family) and enough left over to send for hubby’s lunch the next day–total mouths fed=24

Menu

Creamy, Cheesy, Chicken Soup

Homemade wheat rolls

Pasta salad

Derby Pie

To make soup:

Pour 4-6 cups of chicken broth into large pot.  Drop a peeled, whole onion and turn on medium.  In a separate pan, sear 4 boneless/skinless chicken breast in olive oil.  Remove from pan and chop finely.  Add chicken to broth.

In the same pan, add more oil/butter and saute several cloves of garlic and diced mushrooms (I also added a Tbsp. or so of green chilies).  Add those to soup.  Add more oil/butter to pan and make a roux (add flour, stir a bit with a fork, then dip some of the chicken broth into flour mixture.  I added Marsala wine, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 block of cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, whole cream (you could use milk)–I really don’t measure this, I just add until it’s thick and creamy.)

(Hint:  you could add mashed potatoes to thicken and stretch this soup.)

Add white sauce to soup.  Season generously with fresh, ground pepper and salt.  Simmer for several hours to let flavors meld.  I prepare this in the morning, turn off around noon and as long as it stays warm, leave it out until dinner time and reheat just before guests arrive.

Serve with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top–yummy!

Can’t wait to hear your tips and tricks!

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23 Responses

  1. All good thoughts… just two caveats:
    1. I personally really dislike when people don’t wait until I
    knock on the door. I like a minute to adjust my clothing, organize anything I’m carrying in, and put on my happy face in the case of dealing with misbehaving children or a stressful situation, or, in general, just “shift gears.” (however, walking people to the car and waving good-bye is absolutely appreciated, and seen as rude if not done in my family)
    2. Back to those misbehaving children again… it’s unpleasant to have people over if your own children bicker and misbehave at the table. I”m not saying to hold off offering hospitality until your family is perfect, but make their behavior a prioritiy.
    p.s.
    Don’t forget about the single parent families… people generally prefer the “perfectness” of inviting a two-parent family.

    1. Oh Kelly, Did you write this post just for me? It almost seems like it. I needed this SO MUCH. You just have no idea. Thank you!

    2. Oops, I didn’t mean that to be a reply to Marie with my other comment.

      I did want to reply though about the “children waiting on the porch” comment. For Kelly’s benefit because I wouldn’t want her to change that aspect of her own hospitality.

      I visited her once and her little kids were standing out on the porch waiting to welcome us with huge smiles…and I just about cried it blessed me so much (I actually did on the way home). They were very well behaved and sweethearts so I have to differ a little bit on that. I guess everyone is different but that’s o.k. 🙂 Kelly… keep that up… it was just precious!

      1. Oh, Kim, I don’t even remember my children standing out there when y’all came as they get so excited all by themselves 😉 I’ve only recently been aware of this detail (I think I read it in an Emily Barnes book??) but, as I said, we don’t have to rehearse it or even mention it…it comes naturally for children who can’t wait to have people over! But I appreciate your sharing how much it blessed you!

        1. Now that I think of it… my kids do that too. They just cannot contain themselves sometimes peeking out the windows (my poor blinds). 😉

  2. First of all, I need to hug Marie! ♥((hugs))♥ Thanks dear for that ps about single parent families… you are so correct on this. Although we receive frequent invites to do things with families during the daytime, our family rarely gets invites for dinners. I think this is because, of course, husbands are home during dinners and our family doesn’t have the husband-component for him to socialize with. It’s easier and more pleasant to socialize with similar families. I completely understand that and so don’t take it personally☺ On the other hand my children rarely get to see a “whole” family in operation… to see a daddy with his wife and children and see how the whole thing is supposed to work. And so I especially appreciate it when families go out of their way to include us♥ When you do a kindness for my children, I’ll love you forever;-)

    You know back in the day, I used to have a lovely immaculate home, and I entertained often. But truthfully my motivations were not the best and godliest. I loved having people over to show off what a great cook I was, what a great homemaker I was and what a beautiful house I had. Instead of entertaining to serve and ministering to others, it was all about me and my pride. I didn’t realize that at the time, but you know what they say about hindsight! It’s crystal clear to me now, *ouch!*
    It’s harder for me to entertain now that maybe my dishes don’t all match and my neighborhood isn’t the greatest, but I think my heart is in a better place these days, ahh humility! lol.

    One of my favorite ways to entertain is to have folks over for homemade pizza. Sometimes I make a few different kinds and serve them buffet style, or I have set things out so that folks can make their own mini pizza. We’ll lay out quilts on the living room floor for the kids… all just very low key and comfy.
    One habit I would really like to get into is inviting folks over for Sunday dinner. I have known families that do this as a rule and it seems like such a wonderful way of fellowshipping, and especially of welcoming new folks into one’s circle or church family.

    1. Thanks, Diane, for the tips you offer about single moms. I have a single mom friend and sometimes it’s hard to know how to bless her.

  3. I’ve been really working on hospitality lately and it’s been easier once I’ve learned that it’s ok that the house isn’t perfect- though I do need to make sure the bathroom gets a good cleaning. lol. Paper plates are all right and a fancy dinner isn’t necessary. THere was a time when I’d knock myself out cleaning all day, preparing a delicious, but elaborate meal, get out the good plates. It was all very well, but I was tired and not inclined to do that very often. And then I started thinking about myself, when I go to others’ houses for dinner, am I offended if we eat off paper plates? No! Am I offended by a simple meal? No! It’s good company and uplifting conversation that I’m looking for, and that really changed my views about having people over. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve gotten sloppy in my entertaining, it’s just that I don’t put so much pressure on myself.

  4. Great tips! I love hospitality because it is what the Lord showed me after I prayed for ministry that I could do as a mother. There is such a need!

    Our children often greet people in the front yard because they are so excited when people come over. 🙂

    For simple dinners when people come over I have found BBQed chicken, large salad, some cut up fruit works. We use paper plates a lot too so I can spend time with people and be more motivated to have people over if there are not lots of dishes awaiting me.

    Another thing that helps us is keeping the house decluttered..that way it can be picked up in 10 minutes and looks cleaner than it sometimes is..hehehe! Good reminder on the candles and music too.

    Something cool my husband and I learned form the book Total Church is to have Christian and non-Christian friends over at the same time to reach out, build relationships, and show the gospel in action.

    1. We usually do bbq chicken when we entertain, too 🙂 That way, hubby is handling the grill while I’m preparing a couple simple side items, like rice and corn or something. I have the salad, some bread, and a dessert prepared beforehand, sometimes the night before. Makes it so much easier!

  5. Diane…yes,you said exactly what I was thinking: I’ve been a single parent of five for nine years and although I’ve enjoyed the fellowhsip of daytime visits to friends, it’s been “incomplete.” (and thanks for the hugs 🙂
    Also, I’m not offended or surprised that others disagree w. my greeting preferences; I also nearly hyperventilate when people stand in the only doorway of a room and I feel “trapped”… just chalk it up to my oddballness 🙂
    Thank you Kelly for this series… hope you add more posts.

    1. Marie–love the reminder of single moms. Something we need to think about. I think we’re afraid *they* will feel awkward??? And inviting non-believers over is something we need to really be aware of. It’s easier to invite our “comfy crowd” and I think it VITALLY important for believers to fellowship with one another (Acts church model) but we need to remember to incorporate those who are lost as well.

    2. Marie,

      I wished you lived near me, we would have you over all the time! Right now there are two families on our street with husbands that work second shift. Usually about three times a week we have them over for dinner, just so they can get a break from cooking and spend an evening with adults. We are really laid back about it, paper plates, etc. but no one seams to care. And as an added bonus, my husband usually cooks. He loves doing it, and I have a chance to visit with these women.

      For a while I was regretting doing it so often. You know, we need dinner to be “family time” right? Then I read a great article in a Focus on the Family magazine (I don’t usually agree with everything they say, but this time it was good.) It said that some of the best times families can have together is servings others together. I realized that was what we were doing. I’ve all but given up on dinner time being family time, but we’ve developed other things that we do together, just us. Like running errands together so we have time to talk in the car.

      Sorry I didn’t mean to get on a side trail. But here are a few ideas we use in the kitchen when feeding a large group: tacos (meat in crockpot, cut veggies, shred cheese and your done!), pasta with bread and salad, homemade pizzas, venison burgers on the grill (we have 3 deer worth of ground venison in our freezer we use it for the tacos, pasta and burgers. When the meat is free the rest of the meals are very affordable! No one can even tell the difference in the meat from beef either 🙂

    1. Amy,

      Sometimes homemade, sometimes a box. If I do homemade, I used shell or cork-screw pasta, cook, drain, rinse in cold, then toss with an olive oil-type dressing and add things like onion, tomatoes, fresh squash, etc.

      1. Kelly, I am not really a “follow the recipe” girl, I usually make stuff up as I go along. BUT I am making that soup once it gets a little colder…it will be 103 today here.
        BTW, If you add a little lemon juice and zest, it really livens up the salad and makes it light and summery (leaned that from Giada and it gets rave reviews).

  6. Simple dinners definitely make hospitality easier. We mostly rotate pizza (either take out or homemade), chili/soup (winter), and turkey dogs/burger with the summer sides (chips, fruit, salads) in the summer. Paper plates make clean up a lot easier.
    Also for better fellowship, we have designated play areas for all the kids; they can play in the finished basement (playroom) or outside if it’s nice. That way they play together and leave the adults some time to talk, and also we don’t have to clean up *every* room of the house after our guests leave.

    Also, don’t forget volunteering to watch others’ children as hospitality. We’ve done a lot of baby sitting for moms that have doctors/dental appointments, date nights for couples, watching kids while a family packs/moves stuff, or just parents that need a break.

  7. Kelly, not only did Jesus show humility and serving when He washed the disciples’ feet, but also one of His last recorded acts in the book of John was pure hospitality, also: He served them a meal of bread and fish, which I always imagine He cooked Himself, over an open fire on the short.

  8. i know this is so three posts ago, but i’ve been thinking on this, and i have one thought to share… i think part of ‘hospitality’… is being willing to ACCEPT it, not just share it… it is a mark of pride when we cannot take help, even when we need it, and keeping to ourselves and never sharing in our neighbor’s kindness is neither loving, nor honoring to them… i know i tend to always play ‘hostess’ but there are probably a few dinner and coffee invites i need to accept more often…

  9. Kelly, I loved this post! Hospitality does not come easily for me now that we have children, but I do try. I need to work on doing it MORE often. In the summer months, we’ve found that bbq chicken is an easy meal for us to entertain with, that way hubby does the grilling while I’m preparing a couple of simple side items.

    That soup recipe sounds wonderful; I’m going to have to give it a try on a cooler day. I love soup with some crusty homemade bread. Yum!

    I’d love to hear more from you about hospitality, if you get a chance. This was so encouraging! xoxo

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I see it was written a while ago, but these tips are timeless. I’m just in my second year of marriage and praying that the Lord will help me turn into the hospitable woman I mean to be (eventually). It’s good to be reminded that hospitality is doable even when I feel inept, that there are tips and tricks to practicing loving others well. I don’t have to be perfect before I start trying. Thanks for sharing! God bless.

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