hospitality-1As I walk to my car the wind is blowing, the mountains are blanketed with thick heavy clouds, and a few flurries begin to tickle my eyelashes. IT. IS. COLD. I arrive home, walk in the door and hear the pop of a fire in the fireplace. I am greeted with the smell of cookies and I know there is a big pot of soup on the stove. I feel safe, warm, and highly valued. I know I was not an afterthought today.

The sun is high, my forehead is sweaty from a good game of hide and seek with our neighborhood friends. We have spent all day in the sun, and we are HOT. I invite my friends inside only to hear the hum of the homemade ice cream maker. We gather ourselves around the bar and are served a cup full of homemade peach ice cream. Our conversation is interrupted with the parents of our friends walking in and joining the fun. As we finish our ice cream, we make our way to the back yard and visit until it is dark. There is endless conversation about work, where we grew up, and Jesus.  And us kids, we PLAY.

These two pictures are but a glimpse into the hospitable environment I grew up in. My friends and family were always welcome. Welcomed with FOOD, lots of food, a well put together house (not perfect, although my mom is excellent at a clean home), and good life-giving conversation.

Now I have children of my own, and I find myself asking: How in the world do you create a hospitable home with young children? On any given day I will have snot smeared across my shirt, my hair in a “mom bun,” sticky floors, and loads of never-ending laundry to be done. How did my mother do it? How does anyone do it?

And WHY?

Because there is no greater way to show Christ’s love to someone than serving them without wanting something in return.

Hospitality is cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those whom God brings into our lives.

Betty Huizenga, Apples of Gold

So HOW???

Create an atmosphere that says/feels, you are safe, you are welcome, you are loved.

Begin with your family. Your four walls. Make meal time a priority (even if its take out). Bake some cookies for an after school snack (they don’t have to be homemade…hello, Pillsbury!).   Once you feel comfortable, begin to include your children in the process. Allow them the joy that comes with being hospitable.

Invite people into your home. This is a time for the entire family to contribute and learn the art of hospitality. Allow your children to help with EVERYTHING, even if that means things aren’t “perfect.”

How to include your children…

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Thinking of others first
  • Greeting guests at the door
  • Speaking to adults when spoken to
  • Playing with the children that our guests bring
  • Playing what the guests want
  • Sharing our toys
  • Praying with the hurting
  • Celebrating with the excited
  • Talking about the love Christ has for us.

If this does not come naturally for you, ask for help. There are many women who are excellent in this area. Find them, listen to them, and then act on what you learn.

Matthew 22:37-39:

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

This post was written by Kristin Shannon. To read more about her, click here.