As a young girl, I remember my mom often taking us kids to visit my great aunts who lived along the same stretch of country road in Hill Valley, Pa. These visits were usually just “spur-of-the-moment” drop-ins, but the aunts were always gracious hostesses and seemed genuinely happy to spend the afternoon chatting with us. They would greet us with open arms and a kiss on the cheek. Then they would open their refrigerators and bring out any food they had on hand, from sandwich fixings, pickles and chips to wine, cheese and chocolate.
I consider these visits to be among some of my sweetest childhood memories. In fact, they have helped shape my own views about opening my home to guests.
So often, we believe we can’t have company over because our houses aren’t immaculately clean or perfectly decorated. I confess that I wrestle with this notion all the time. Recently, however, I read the books “The Reluctant Entertainer” by Sandy Coughlin, and “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver.
Both these books and my great aunts’ hospitality send the same message: People matter, not perfection. In fact, Sandy stresses in her book that your guests may actually feel more comfortable and relaxed when things are not perfect because they can relate to that. After all, we live in an imperfect world and imperfect homes, don’t we? Trying to create the illusion that your home is the exception to that rule will probably stress out your family and may even distance you from the very people you are hoping to connect with.
Easier said than done though, right? I’ll be the first to admit that “letting go” in order to be a more gracious hostess is tough. So in an effort to “put my money where my mouth is,” our family recently agreed to host a weekly Bible study at our home. We cook the food each week (I have to make dinner anyway, right?) and then guests contribute cash to a “food fund” canister to help out with the bill.
I can honestly say that this time of fellowship has become — like my visits to my aunts’ homes — a cherished memory that I wouldn’t trade for all the Martha Stewart cleaning products in the world.
Romans 12:13 – Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
1 Peter 4:9 – Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
How I created my “food fund” canister
I trimmed some letters out of the remaining scrapbook paper and stuck them on with Mod Podge too. I was planning to create awesome letters on my Silhouette cutting tool, but the hubs had done some work on our computer and hadn’t reloaded the software yet, so I just hand drew some letters. They’re not perfect, but we’re not going for perfection, remember?