Tag Archive for hospitality

The Grace Table

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite topics, hospitality, and the concept of stewarding our homes as grace-giving spaces where others find favor and kindness under our roof (or in our presence) whether they deserve it or not. I want us to envision our kitchen tables as little hospitals, thus hospitality, dispensing grace like medicine to anyone God sends our way.

table

I know that concept of hospitality can trigger stress. I know that. We immediately begin comparing and think of Martha Stewart. Though hospitality does include meeting the needs of others through work in a physical way, I want to assure you that a hospitable spirit is not something that we conjure up on our own. Rather, it’s the result of and the out-flowing of the unmerited gift of God’s abundant grace towards us. The word grace comes from the Greek charis, hence your kitchen table can become the grace table— the chari-table place for many acts of worship and service.

Here’s how it works: 

God —->freely gives us His unmerited grace—->we receive grace—->we respond to that grace—-> by freely give grace to others.

Grace begets grace.

I found it interesting in my study that another word stems from the Greek word for grace (charis)–the word gratitude. Have you ever noticed that the more alive to grace you are, the more humble you become and the more gratitude becomes your norm?

How can you do anything but PRAISE when you deserve death and hell by choice and action and instead get joint-heir status with the perfect, beloved Son of God? Completely justified. Just as if I’d never sinned. Just as if I’d always obeyed. Mind blowing and praise producing (gratitude!!) all wrapped up in one.

And when we forget what God has done, when we forget that we were the debtor who needed forgiveness, we set out to make our debtors pay. We set out to punish. We are blind, forgetting what kind of person we were. Complaining follows because ingratitude is always the response of someone who thinks they deserve more than they were doled out.

As Christians, God’s grace transforms our hearts, which transforms our speech, which gives us something worthwhile to say–words of gratitude to God– thanksgiving, praise, and glory-words that point others straight to Christ.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

The sacrifice of thanksgiving—gratitude—the fruit of our lips.

Obviously, we are not under the Old Testament law, but this is a reference back to the OT sacrificial system, to what were known as “thank offerings”–purely voluntary offerings that could be made to show your heart felt gratitude for all the Lord has done in our lives. And this is what our praise is–voluntary acknowledgement of our great God.

Are you looking for opportunities to serve? Have you considered that you can become a conduits by which God’s grace flows through you to others who:

  • desperately need to see His goodness in an unkind world
  • don’t necessarily deserve or want our favor
  • oppose us
  • despite-fully use us
  • are unlovely and overlooked

Do you see people as sinners made in the image of God? Or do you judge them and categorize them, putting yourself on a little pedestal as you look down your nose at this different breed of sinner than you?

Do you see that heroine addict as a person made in the image of God who doesn’t know His love yet? Someone you might reach?

How about that homeless person? Do you assume all the worst about why he is where he is, or do you try to love him into the Kingdom of God, leading him by the hand?

As women, we have the unique opportunity to speak truth into the lives of other women who need hope and help. This can’t be done if God’s grace is not pulsing through your own spirit.

Our homes can have an impact, and they are one of the most underutilized tools in evangelism today. Invite someone in today.

If you have a kitchen table, or a coffee table, or a dorm room for that matter, I want to encourage you to use these things for the sake of the gospel. Your home can be a little chari-table spot, a bright light in this dark world where you can make a difference for Christ.

A New Book to Nourish Your Soul

When we first started homeschooling, I had two book mentors that impacted me tremendously and Sally Clarkson was one of them.

Sally’s volume, Educating the WholeHearted Child was recommended to me by a friend, and I quickly devoured it. It helped give me a big picture into the hearts and differences of my then very young children. I referenced ETWHC so often and loaned it out so regularly, that I “laminated” the cover so it wouldn’t get ruined. (By laminate, I mean I covered it with see through adhesive drawer liner.)

Sally taught me about the different ways kids learn and I quickly adjusted my teaching methods for my wiggly Emily who would have rather been swinging and moving or crawling or jumping.

Sally planted the seeds of grace-based parenting into my very novice black and white ideas.

So of course I was so excited to learn that she had written another book, this time about home!

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Reading The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming made me appreciate her even more. It’s a peek into their life, family, and traditions and if I could describe Sally in two words they would be:

AWARE–Sally constantly encourages you to be aware of your own heart, your own needs, your surroundings SO THAT you can then serve those around you, which requires awareness of the needs of others.

WELCOMING– Sally uses her home as the epicenter of her far-reaching ministry, a concept we’ve talked about extensively on this blog. This is something that every Christian woman can do. Hospitality isn’t optional for the Christian, and she gives you a living example of how it has worked in her home. She talks about inviting people in for the holidays, for concerts, for teas, for talks. She shares her life–which is the first step to touching the heart of anyone, young or old.

Her daughter, Sarah, also writes several chapters and let me just tell you that she has a “delicious” vocabulary. :) You’ll love it.

Life-Giving Home gives you guidance and helps you see the potential that your home can have when you take responsibility to orchestrate the rhythms of your life. She includes a chapter for each month of the year and discusses how to make life special by incorporating traditions with your family and friends.

Lest you think it all sounds too idealistic and pie-in-the-sky, she doesn’t paint life as though it’s one big tea party and talks quite honestly about the really tough times when the door of the home would have to stay closed so that people can heal and regroup after a loss or hurt.

Life is busy and it goes by before you know it. I used to think life slowed down as the kids got older, but now I know that it goes by faster each year. A book like this helps you slow down and choose to say NO to the filler material of life–and to say YES to the things that will impact generations.

You can get it here.The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite quotes and doing a giveaway!

Are you planning on reading this book? Have you already started it? Have you had any ah-ha moments while reading it? Share!

*Disclosure: I received this book free of charge to review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

20 Easy, Inexpensive, Warm-Weather Ways to Entertain

Spring and summer are some of the best times to entertain and show hospitality. As the warm weather comes, you can move your party outside and enjoy warm evenings together. Casual barbecue dinners, sitting in the sunshine sipping lemonade with friends or more elegant dining on the patio with votive candles a-twinkling make this my favorite time of the year for hospitality!20 easy ways to entertain lemonade

But, the best kind of entertaining happens when we aren’t frazzled when guests arrive. Gourmet cooking might be your passion, but for the rest of us, I humbly offer these easy ideas that are perfect for the warmer weather that’s ahead of us!

1. Simple Chips and Salsa:  Find pretty linen napkins that you love. Line a basket with the colorful cloth, fill to the brim with warm tortilla chips and serve with my dad’s amazing salsa recipe here.

2. Soda Floats: In the summer, make root beer floats and serve them with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and a fun striped straw.

3. Movie Night: Initiate a movie night. This is especially great for families with little kids. The kids sit and watch the movie and munch popcorn while the grown ups gab in the kitchen.

4. Game Night: Invite some couples over for some favorite board games and serve simple brownie ice cream sundaes. You can use muffin tins to bake individual brownies in. While they are still warm, push the middle down to form a small indent for ice cream.

5. Pizza Night: Make your own pizza night. Make or buy pizza dough, and let everyone make their own pizza. The toppings are endless: pepper, onion, mushrooms, pepperoni, etc…

6. Coffee Double Date: Dessert and coffee with friends. (Or if you are in the north, iced coffee with friends!)

7. Cheese and Fruit Tray: Make an artisanal cheese and fruit platter. Serve ice tea in stemware and you’ve got an easy table assortment that everyone will pick at while you talk.

8. Use your crock pot. Crock pot meals take the last minute pressure off you as a hostess, and is usually forgiving if guests are late.

9. Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Keep chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer so you can pull them out in a pinch when company drops in unexpectedly.

10. Soup and Salad: Have a soup and salad get together. Ask each family to bring a different soup. You provide the salad and rolls. Easy.

11. Play Date: Have a young moms play date. Ask the moms to bring snacks for their own kids since they usually have a preference as to what they eat, and you focus on the adult snack. Child proof your house so the moms can relax.

12. Casual Brunch: Have friends over for a casual brunch. Homemade waffles topped with fresh fruit, sausage, orange juice and coffee.

13. Grill Out: Invite friends over for burgers on the grill. Make a platter of toppings like lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, pickles, bacon, etc. In the warm weather, sit outside and place a candle on your table for atmosphere as the sun goes down. Grill corn on the cob. Delish.

14. Share a slice of your life: When Rebekah came home from her missions trip, we had several couples over for snacks and to view her trip pictures. We shared stories and enjoyed Christian fellowship.

15. Last Minute Meet Up: Initiate a meet-up at the park, beach or local attraction with other moms with young kids. Pack your own lunches, spread a blanket and enjoy the company.

16. Pretty Presentation, but all Pre-Made. You can find so many delish goodies at places like Trader Joe’s.  Again, use your ninja display skills to make something simple look elegant. Crackers topped with mild brie cheese and fruit jam, heat and serve hors d’oeuvres, store bought bruschetta on french bread, brie and cranberry wrapped in phyllo dough.

17. Beach Trip: If you like near the ocean, pack up the kids and a lunch and meet friends for a fun days of sand and sun. (the kids play beautifully at the beach and moms can talk!)

18. Taco Bar: Make your own tacos with all the fixings. Easy and inexpensive and kids love to make these.

19. Baked Potato Bar: Purchase large baked potatoes, bake and serve with lots of toppings including sour cream, cheese, chives, bacon, chili, or whatever you love.

20. Potluck BBQ: Everyone brings their own meat to grill and something to share: baked beans, potato salad, strawberry summer salad, or whatever you love. If you have a large party, ask them to bring their own lawn chairs as well. You provide drinks, plates, meat for your family and something sweet for dessert. Easy way to entertain a crowd.

When you have kids over, consider putting out bubbles, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes or other age appropriate toys that they can enjoy while the adults chat. It makes it easier for the parents and more interesting for the kids.

What are your favorite ways to entertain in the warm weather? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

Hospitality 101 Series

My sweet friend Niki asked me to share some ideas for extending hospitality in the home, a topic that I am happy to cover because it is near and dear to my heart.

In the last few years, I’ve been asked to speak several times to women’s groups on using the home for hospitality, and it seems that God is moving women to open their eyes to all that we have at our disposal in our homes for the sake of the gospel. (Stuff we often take for granted or complain about!)

I believe hospitality is one the most underestimated, under-utilized ministries in the church today.

I believe our homes are the “hidden talent” (Matthew 25:14-30) of our modern day churches, because it is a resource that is rarely used. Women today value being out of the home doing “important things.” But God says that by being a good manager of your home, and by caring well for your family and others, and by extending our hands–and homes–to the needy via hospitality, the gospel will be well spoken of.

In the scope of all church history, American women have so much!  I wonder what God’s response will be when we are asked how we used our goods (homes, clothes, meals, technology, etc…) for His sake? Were we good stewards of His gifts? Or did we use them for our own pleasure and indulgence? Will it be “Well done, good and faithful servant.” or “You foolish servant!”?

I often imagine the gasping, wide-eyed, mouth-gaped-open look of amazement in the faces of the other saints in heaven, when they realize all that I had at my disposal as a middle-class American woman, part of the top 5% richest people in all the WORLD. I imagine their excitement, their leaning in a little closer to hear what I MUST have done for our Lord with all THAT at my disposal, expecting to hear great things! It haunts me, actually, that thought.  It prompts me to steward our home well.

I encourage women to reach out of their comfort zones and into the community for the sake of the gospel. I joke and call it “Espresso Evangelism.” –Invite a neighbor in for coffee or to just to encourage her. Read out, instead of getting stuck in the rut of only associating with the women of your church, like it’s some kind of country club.  Invite a mom from the community over to your home and befriend her. What are her needs? The gospel? Parenting help? A listening, supportive ear? Counseling? Material goods?

It starts by simply using what you have. Look around you. Of what has God made you a steward? A teapot? A tea cup? Share it for the sake of the gospel.

I love this quote:

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR LIVING ROOM AS A LAUNCHING PAD FOR NEW LIFE, HOPE, MINISTRY AND MISSION.

and this one:

The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God.

We are no longer strangers and sojourners. We have come home to God. Everybody who trusts in Jesus finds a home in God.”


I’ve told Niki that I feel kinda silly writing some of these ideas down, because so much of it seems like common sense. She told me that if you didn’t grow up in a home where hospitality was modeled, then it isn’t common sense. So, next week, it’s Hospitality week here on the blog, so gear up for some basic Hospitality 101 type posts.

But before we start, I want to point you to some older articles I’ve written on the subject, and also share some of my favorite articles around the web.

In the comments below, tell what you’d like to learn in this series or share your favorite hospitality tip, won’t you?

A Life That Says “Welcome”

This week we are hosting the National Hoops team at our church. We have a sweet family staying with us with their two young children. It has been an exhausting weekend, but it is so nice to have a baby and toddler in the house, and to see my older children changing gears and slowing down to play with little ones.

God ordains all things, and even though this couple usually has a motor home to live in on their excursions around the country, it is being repaired right now. So this sweet little family is in our home for a whole week by God’s design. The wife and I have had wonderful conversations about homeschooling(she’ll have to homeschool due to the nature of their lifestyle- traveling around the country most of the year), parenting, college and general ministry. So God has His reasons that we are together this week. And that is good to keep in mind, because I am exhausted and need to be focused on what God is doing and not how I feel physically.

Hospitality is “stranger love.” It is welcoming a stranger into your home for the sake of the gospel. It is a wonderful way to expose your children to all kinds of people from all walks of life, to bless other people, and most importantly to make the gospel of Jesus Christ look attractive to the people of this world for whom Christ died.

But let’s be honest. Hospitality equals WORK. And sometimes work is no fun. Of course, God knows us inside and out and He gives us a little warning about practicing hospitality: He tells us to “not grumble” when we have to open up our homes. :) (How does He always know!!! jk) Think of it as your home is a “hospital” and see your guests as people with needs like all of us: either physical, spiritual or emotional. Then, pray and get busy tending to those needs, easing burdens and soothing the hurt.

Look for ways to make your guest comfortable. Is there a place for them to put their stuff? How about a fan if their hot, or extra throw blankets if they are cold. Extra pillows are nice, and a bag full of goodies like chocolate, cookies and bottled water. Give them the freedom to read your books, use your computer and washer/dryer.  Maybe  put a coffee/tea basket out all day incase they want a cup of something hot. Are there toys/books for their children that are age appropriate?

The goal is to minister grace and comfort to your guest, not to impress them. If you need help in this area, seek out a godly older woman in your church who is known for the gift of hospitality and ask them to help you.  In my opinion, living and experiencing it through a real life example is better than reading a book. I have learned many things through watching my own mother. She just seems to “know” and anticipate needs before they arise.

If you  need a book recommendation for hospitality, let  me recommend two books:

Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis

A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman