I received a phone call recently from my mother, who informed me that she (along with my cousin and three aunts) would be coming to visit my family for a few days so they could visit her younger sister in a local hospital. One part of me was excited to be seeing my family. But the other part of me immediately thought of the state of my home. How would I prepare for 5 houseguests at a moment’s notice?
God has blessed me with a three bedroom, two-floor home, so there is plenty of room. But room did not automatically equal space for everyone to sleep. I had visions of the perfectly decorated rooms I had seen in magazines, but those rooms looked nothing like the rooms in my home.
As I sat in my living room, I started to do an inventory of sleeping spaces in my home. Two people could sleep on our pull out sofa, one person could sleep on an air mattress upstairs, and another could sleep on the twin bed in our guestroom. But what about the fifth person? Maybe they could sleep on the chaise lounge?
I had less than twelve hours to prepare for their arrival, so I spent some time in prayer asking God to help me to prepare not only my home, but also my heart for their arrival.
Then I remembered a scripture I learned many years ago: “Share with the Lordʼs people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:13). 1 Peter 4:9 also says to: “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” We are called to be hospitable to people in need. But hospitality does not mean perfection. My towels don’t always match, and that’s okay! Pretty towels and fancy dishes mean nothing to the Lord. What God wants from us for our hearts to open and for us to welcome our guests with open arms.
So the next day, when my family arrived, we welcomed them joyfully! Within an hour or so,my husband had breakfast cooking, and everyone began to settle in. After they returned from the hospital visit, we shared a meal of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and coleslaw. And we even had cupcakes to celebrate my mother and uncle’s shared birthdays!
The stress I had felt two days was replaced with a full heart as we created memories for years to come.
Do you have an opportunity to share your home with someone this month? Invite someone to join you for a meal and don’t worry about making sure your home is perfect. Instead, prepare your heart for fellowship and watch how God blesses your visit!
1 Peter 4:9
Our hands do so much on a daily basis. We spend at least an hour every day online, "liking" posts, posting photos or statuses and writing on each other's walls. We also send countless emails and text messages on any given day.
But when was the last time you used your hands to offer hospitality to a loved one?
When I was growing up, anytime there was a new baby, an illness or a death in the family, friends and loved ones would surround the family with love and hospitality. They would show up to the home with food (often just leaving the meal in a cooler on the back porch along with a note), offer to care for the children, mow the yard, etc. Even if the family in need insisted "I'm fine, I don't need anything", they'd show up anyway!
And if there was a death, the community would step in to help with the preparation of the repass meal and even serve the meal if needed. The grieving loved ones did not lift one finger on the day of the funeral. They were served, loved on and looked after.
But I've noticed a shift in how we care for each other. The apron-clad church-based hospitality ministries may still exist, but I haven't seen the caring hospitality from individuals that used to exist before. I've attended repass gatherings recently to find that loved ones were left to fend for themselves, make their own plates, etc. This is unacceptable! I may make some people uncomfortable by saying that, but I don't care. We have to do better! We have to care for each other in the way that we are called to do in the Bible!
I've also noticed that when people visit with someone who has a new baby, they sometimes expect the new mom to serve them! They simply show up and "hang out" (texting on their phone, watching tv, etc.) while the new mom continues to care for the (sometimes crying) baby, provides a meal, etc. Newsflash! You are not being helpful or present if your eyes are glued to your phone!
How can you be less of a jerk and more of the person God called you to be when others are in need?
1. Check in
If you have a friend or a loved one who is ill, has recently given birth or has just suffered a loss, call them! Offer to give them a ride to an appointment. Offer to bring a meal or babysit. Offer to mow their yard or take their car to the car wash.
2. Be PRESENT when in the presence of a new mom, sick loved one or a grieving family
If you are visiting a new mom, hold the baby so the mom can have a break (or so that she can throw in a load of laundry, take a shower, wash bottles, etc. Offer to feed/ change the baby. I'm sure you've fed or changed a baby before (even if it was 100,000 years ago).
If you are attending a repass after a funeral, pay attention to the needs of the immediate family members. Can you cook your signature dish to bring to contribute to the meal? (And if you can't cook, by all means offer to make a Costco run to buy paper goods, etc.) Can you offer to make a plate for the family or get them a second helping or drink refill? If your mobility is limited, can you just SIT with the family and be a presence of God's light and compassion?
3. Pray for them or sending thoughts of good energy
We all need prayers and thoughts of good energy. You don't have to say a special prayer or kneel in a cathedral. Just send thoughts of healing and good energy to the person while they undergo this life change.
I am blessed to have been raised with a mother who extended (and continues to extend) hospitality ANY time she sees the need. And I have also been blessed with a mother-in-law who has the same compassionate heart (even when the receiver may not "deserve" it.)
We have to do more to care for each other. It only takes a few hours to help someone in need. Imagine the difference we could make if we could step away from our computers and phones for a little while! Not only are we called to help others in Romans 12:13 (as well as COUNTLESS other scriptures in the Bible), but we should WANT to because it is the RIGHT thing to do.
Scripture reference: “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:13 NLT
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Mama. Wife. Poet. Teacher. Maniac.