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The Heart of Hospitality

What a Busy Life Means for Blogging

It has been a very busy month for my family and for me. For a while during this busy season I found myself stressed and trying to do everything for everyone all the time. I started to feel burnt out. And my kids started saying things like, “Mom, I just want you to spend more time with me.”

So instead of continuing to push myself as I was, I decided to go back to the promise I made to myself when I began blogging… I’d only blog when I had the time to blog.

Except I found that I didn’t have time to blog. And although I could have probably chosen to stay up later or get up earlier or manage my time better in order to find the time for blogging, I just didn’t want to.

I decided that was okay because in the end my relationship with my kids, my family and friends, and God is more important to me than all the other things in my life, including blogging.  I began looking at blogging from a different perspective.

A Clear Perspective of Hospitality

hopsitality graphicI began looking at lots of other things from different perspectives during my time away from blogging, too. For one thing, I’ve been thinking a lot about hospitality and what it means to really serve others.

Just before my family and I left for our vacation to visit my sister’s family in Ohio, I stumbled upon a blog I’ve enjoyed reading a lot lately. It’s called the Young Wife’s Guide to Gospel Centered Homemaking. One blog post written recently by Jami has been on my mind a lot… Biblical Hospitality Defined: The Art of Serving Others. In her post, Jami didn’t just touch on the fact that God has called us to show hospitality to others. She went a little further and touched on what hospitality looks like in practice.

And then we ended up in Chicago staying for a couple of days with a dear friend’s twin sister’s family and saw it in action.

Navy Pier Collage

An Example of True Hospitality

My friend’s sister and I have met on more than one occasion and have had a few opportunities to talk with one another, but we really don’t know each other all that well. We know OF each other’s families, but we don’t really KNOW each other’s families.

Despite that fact, my friend’s sister offered to host my family for a couple of days when we visited Chicago on our way to my sister’s home in Ohio. She and her husband didn’t have to offer to share their modestly-sized home with a family of six. They didn’t have to make us a full turkey dinner and provide breakfast each morning. They didn’t have to squeeze all five members of their family into one bedroom in order to provide our family of six with beds, our own bathroom, and plenty of privacy. But they did it anyway and with happy hearts. They did it because they love the Lord. They did it because their hearts want to love and serve others.

Heart of Hospitality

This family blessed us by sharing their home with us during our stay in Chicago.

I don’t think my friend’s sister truly understands how much her family’s demonstration of hospitality toward my family impacted all of us. They helped make our time in Chicago more affordable, less stressful, and definitely more enjoyable.

Tall Ships Collage

Our kids had other kids to play with after a long day of touring Tall Ships, watching Cirque Shanghai Dragon’s Thunder, and riding the giant Ferris wheel at Navy Pier.

Hospitality Lived Out

The kids became fast friends and totally enjoyed their time together.

We enjoyed having space to spread out, relax, and enjoy adult conversation after a day out with four children.

And, we had room accommodations that rivaled any hotel.

That family gave us the best of what they had and were willing to share everything with us. That generosity convicted me in so many ways and prompted me to reflect on my own heart.

What About Me?

I’ve been pondering questions such as:

  • Have I been showing hospitality and serving others?
  • In what ways have I been demonstrating love to others, especially people outside my family and circle of friends?
  • What would giving my best and sharing all I have look like and sound like in any given situation?
  • How are Peter and I doing teaching our kids what it means to love and serve God as well as love and serve others?
  • How can my family and I do a better job of showing hospitality to others?

What I’ve Come to Realize

My friend’s sister’s family talked about other ways they are showing love to others and serving people in their church and community. As I listened to them talk about life it really sunk in for me that offering hospitality isn’t an event or a series of events. It’s not just something you do a couple of times each month. It’s a way of living. Hospitality is a lifestyle.

I want to change my lifestyle. I want to change my family’s lifestyle. I want us to live and breathe hospitality.

I am so thankful for all the people God’s placed in my path lately as excellent exemplars. I’ve learned so much already from them. I’d love to learn from all of you, too. What do you think hospitality looks like and sounds like? In what ways can even the youngest children in a family show love for others and serve them? Has your family been doing anything special to show hospitality to others? Please share!

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  • Jakky September 9, 2013, 9:34 pm

    I love this post! Hospitality is a value that I hold dear and it has been a joy to watch the ways in which my family’s expression of hospitality has grown and changed along with my children. It truly has become a lifestyle for my kids; they are eager to serve. (It’s ironic, though, that while they happily dish up dinner, do dishes and take out trash at a homeless shelter, that willingness doesn’t always translate to their household chores!) We are a loud, and somewhat unruly bunch, but we roll up our sleeves and dig into any opportunity to be of help. Our house also has an “open door” policy that has brought so many incredible people into our lives. The house might not always be clean and the meals sure aren’t fancy, but my kids know how to really love others and how to make them feel truly welcome. Thanks for writing this post and giving me an opportunity to reflect. What a blessing.

    • Karen September 10, 2013, 6:32 am

      Jakky, your family is an excellent example for mine! I think all the things you do with your kids to love and support others is amazing. Each time I learn of ways your family is living out hospitality I think, “Man, I want to live more like that. That’s what loving your neighbor is all about!” Thanks for all you and your family do!

  • wmark September 9, 2013, 10:08 pm

    When I read your post I thought of the time I was on bed rest and you sent me a calendar of all the meals you had planned for the month. I was to choose the ones I wanted and you would make a double batch of the meal to give to me. You made my family meals and Peter dropped them off. While I am sure all of us can improve our hospitality; God does use you to bless others in many ways. This post does make me think of the many ways I can improve in this area.

    • Karen September 10, 2013, 6:48 am

      I totally forgot about doing that! It goes to show, though, how much impact you may have on others and not even really realize it. For me, offering hospitality does not always come naturally. I have to work at it and be intentional. It just seems like, for some people, that’s just part of who they are. I want to be more like that. I want to teach my kids to be more like that.

      With the examples of hospitality I’ve seen others practicing lately, I’ve been asking myself, “Hmmm. That’s what it really means to give (or be willing to give) your all for someone else. Am I doing that?” So when Nicole’s family shared their home with us in Chicago I wondered, “Would I be willing to open my home up like this to someone I don’t know very well and give them the best of what we have to offer?” And when my neighbor constantly takes on several kids to watch for long days besides her own busy 3 to serve someone else I wonder, “Wow, would I be willing to do that with such a happy heart?” I want my answer to not just be, “Yes!” I want to actually be sure I’m living that out in practice. I have a long ways to go. But I’d like to think I’m working on it…

  • Nicole September 9, 2013, 10:13 pm

    Aww, you almost made me tear up! It was certainly a privilege and an honor to serve your family in such a small way! You were as much a blessing to us as we were to you. Hugs!

  • Jami Balmet September 9, 2013, 11:40 pm

    Thanks so much for linking to my post!! I always love meeting other women who are on a similar journey of hospitality! :D

    • Karen September 10, 2013, 6:36 am

      You’re welcome, Jami. I’ve really enjoyed reading both of your blogs!