We waved goodbye to our New Year’s Eve party hosts and climbed into the car.
After settling into his seat and buckling his seat belt my husband turned to me and said,
“Those people are crazy!”
“I know!”, I replied in agreement.
“They are just like US!”, he said.
“I KNOW! Isn’t it GREAT?” (insert happy sigh)
Welcome to FREEDOM FRIDAY – A new devotional, emotional, spiritual and sometimes hysterical series that I will be sharing on occasional Fridays, in addition to my regular Old Things New posts. Why? Because though once bound in chains Christ has set me free – FREE to live, to love, to dance, to sing, to be who God created me to be!
As we are settling in to our new home in South Carolina God has shown Himself faithful in that He has opened many doors of welcome. He has shown us that where His people are there is love, acceptance and even a bit of laughter . . . my favorite thing!
This is us, being crazy, and welcoming in the New Year with a toast of sparkling cider at the home of some wonderful new friends!
Wait! Do we really look this old? LOL!
Many people choose a “word of the year”, usually something they want to focus on being or doing in the New Year. I didn’t even have to pray or think about what that word would be because it has been blaring in my ears for the past two months.
My word for the year is HOSPITALITY.
We’ve always practiced hospitality in our home. Hey, we had the lake house . . . so how could we NOT? So why would God give me the word hospitality? I believe that God wants to take hospitality to a whole new level in the year 2015.
I’m learning a new form of hospitality here in the South, where neighbors come to your door bearing gifts of welcome and invite you to come by for a visit any time; where new acquaintances invite you over for lunch after church to share a bowl of soup . . . and then you end up sharing a whole lot more . . . and leave knowing that this is the beginning of a great friendship; where chance acquaintances round up a team of strong men to come over and carry your 500 pound desk upstairs (16 stairs to be exact) and get it settled into your husband’s office; where people freely give out their cell phone numbers and tell you to call if you need a hand with anything, and they really mean it; where the mailman tells you that if you need to mail out any packages for Christmas and don’t have the postage, just put it in the box for him with a note and he’ll cover it until you can pay him back! Yes, even though that isn’t an invitation into a home that is a form of hospitality or welcome!
Y’all (I really like that word) I’m not saying that people weren’t hospitable or helpful back home because they certainly were, but Southern hospitality is hospitality on steroids and I want me some of that!
So that is my word for the year, but did you know that hospitality is something that ALL Christ followers are called to do (I Peter 4:9)? This means you! This week on Freedom Friday I want to share with you some things I’ve learned about hospitality. The list I’ve created is from many sources,the Allume conference I attended in October, other bloggers, and my own reading . . . but honestly . . . most of what I learned was by example, by observing my own mom who always received people into our home with a warm welcome, and my big sister, who I like to tell everyone is Martha Stewart, but better, because she loves the Lord.
Things I’m learning about hospitality:
- If God isn’t in it, what good comes from it? Hospitality isn’t a show. It’s not about you. It isn’t about how big your home is or how immaculate or how well decorated. It isn’t about serving a fancy or expensive meal. It IS about extending God’s grace and love to those you invite into your space, whether that be your home, your church, your community, or even your table at Starbucks!
- When people come into your home don’t apologize for the imperfections. Just say, “Thank you.” To be honest, I’ve not quite perfected this yet but it is a new year and time for a new start!
- Though some people can pull off spontaneous hospitality (what a gift!) it doesn’t just happen for most of us. It usually takes some planning to create a place that makes others feel welcome.
- There isn’t always time for a thorough house cleaning so have a laundry basket to pick up the clutter, keep some baby wipes on hand to clean up the stickies and light a candle. One of the speakers at the conference I attended in October said to cook up some bacon to make your house smell good, or onions if your guests are vegetarians! I like to put a pan of water on to boil with some cloves and cinnamon sticks or burn a lightly scented candle.
- Create an environment of comfort, physical and emotional.
- Be present. Show up at your own party! Be a gift to those you host.
- Listen and ask.
- Make it a sacred space, a space where people can share from the heart without fear that their words will be repeated.
- Practice generosity by giving of yourself. Be authentic so others feel safe in sharing also.
- Be sensitive to the needs of your guests.
- Be prepared for hospitality to get messy . . . people cry!
- Though it can get hard, you never know what exciting thing might come out of the sharing. Maybe NEW LIFE will happen right there in your den.
- Make it your goal to create a place where people will feel better about themselves when they leave your home.
- Be crazy! Laughter is good for the soul. (Prov. 17:22)
- Finally, don’t worry about how things went when everyone has gone. In the words of Mother Teresa, “God hasn’t called me to be successful, He’s called me to be faithful.”
Hospitality gets easier the more you practice it. I used to scramble around in preparation, snap at my husband and kids, and even feel resentment for having to do everything for everyone else! This is me, being authentic! The Freedom Friday part here is that God has set me free from caring so much about how my house appears to others and caring more about those who come into my home.
Oh how I wish you could come over to my house. I’d love to know who you are, what God has been doing in your life, what inspires you, what your favorite Scriptures are, or your favorite worship music . . . what condition your heart is in. But even though I can’t see you face-to-face, I hope you feel welcome here in my little blogging space. I hope you know how much I care about you and that I pray for you as I write out each of these Freedom Friday posts. I especially hope you know how much God loves you and that He wants more than anything to welcome you into His Presence, because He is the greatest host of all!
PRAYER: Papa God, please give us your heart of love for others and show us creative ways to practice hospitality, whether that be in our homes or out in our communities. Please remove any fear of not doing it right or not measuring up, because fear is not from You. Give us insight into the lives of those we invite into our homes so we will know how best to meet their needs. Give us godly discernment to know when to speak, when to listen, when to be serious and when it is a time for laughter! May you be blessed through our practice of hospitality and may all who enter into our spaces feel better about themselves (not about us) when they leave.
Blessings from the heart,
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