Welcome to our home ~

You will find love and joy within.

This is the sign beside my back door.  (Or at least it was before the kids had a light saber fight on the back porch the other day – I better check that it’s still there.) I cross-stitched it to hang in my home when we were first married.  I love that sign.  I love all that it means.  I’d love to have it be true.

Recently someone has “accused” me of being hospitable.  OH how I wish this were true.  I know hospitable people – and it oozes from them like a candy bar in August…sitting on the dash board….while you were grocery shopping.  (Just a guess, of course… 🙄 ) Hospitality does NOT ooze from me.

Growing up, my grandmother was the quintessential entertainer.  She would have made Martha Stewart slither from a room in shame.  I remember attending a fall card party she was having.  She made meatballs to look like porcupines, cut the cheese slices into fall leaves, made fall leaf sugar cookies, served hot spiced cider and created a veritable FOREST from the veggie tray.  OH – and made (MADE) ceramic mugs for each guest, covered in little mushrooms for their hot soup.  The coup de grace was the popover tree, filled with fall-colored cream fillings and drizzled with caramel sauce.  (HUSH winkies, REAL people don’t make desserts like that.) 😉 Furthermore, Grandma’s napkins ALWAYS matched her aprons. I neither WANT to spend that kind of time on food/preparation, nor can I.  (Anyone with children can imagine what type of chaos would be reigning after I spent a month in the kitchen preparing an array of this magnitude.)

Contrast my grandmother with my mother – having guests was a fun time, but we were all too exhausted from preparing the house to enjoy them.  We would work like lunatics to try and bring the disorder of our home into something that resembled clean to allow our guests entrance into our home.

What does being hospitable mean to you?  How do you define hospitable?  Do you excel at it?  Are you “ok” at it?  Do you like it?

Biblically we’re called to do it – so I WANT to do it and do it well, to honor my Lord.  But, I stink at it.  So, Ladies, step up to the plate and ….no wait, that’s someone else in my life…would you all please simply gently leave your comments? 😉 I want to grow in this area of my life.  I NEED to grow in this area of my life.  I need your help.  (Jenna, there BETTER be a response here from you – this is an area that you excel!! and winkies, BE GENTLE!) 😉

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20 Responses to “Welcome to our home ~”
  1. Jenna says:

    Oh Dawn, you are just too funny. I’ll indulge you though.

    For me, being hospitable means treating people as though they were a member of my family. Oddly enough, this means NOT going insane in order to clean the house. We’d never pass a ‘white glove’ test anyway, and I’m not going to kill myself trying. lol

    Generally, this means that if I’m having people over, I make sure that all of the dishes are washed. It’s not because of mess, but because I want to be able to set the table with some dishes that match. lol I’ll put a treat out, nothing too fancy. I’ll offer a drink, which is usually a list of whatever we actually have in the house.

    I don’t do fancy cooking, and certainly don’t have the patience to make meatballs look like little animals. But, I do know how to sit down and talk with folks, and that is more important than anything. People don’t come to my house for some grand event, but for a chance to feel like someone cares about them and what they have to say.

    If it’s dinner time, then we pull out whatever we have available to make a meal stretch. If the company is unexpected, we’ll take food from our own plates to feed a guest. (Heehee… we can eat again later. lol) So, a person may only get baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots. It’s nothing fancy, but they DO get to sit around the table with us and share about their day. Maybe afterwards we’ll make some hot chocolate and go sit out on the porch if more “private” talk is needed.

    Like I seem to be saying over and over again, it’s not about the ‘stuff’. It’s about relationship.

  2. Laura says:

    Jenna Bean…That “it’s about relationship” stuff…That is so RIGHT ON! Really that is what it is ALL about…That is what we are called to…to serve, to love, to be a friend…But like Dawn, I stink…I am a perfectionist by nature and if everything is not in absolute PERFECT order (which is seldom to never lol) I tend not to have people over…I can easily spend a week trying to prepare my home for guests and NEVER EVER have impromptu guests over…Sad as it is, I once made my best friend stand outside on a cold MI evening because I was too embarrassed to let her see my house…Crazy thing is when I go over to another persons house I don’t even think twice if everything is not in perfect order….Actually kind of like it when it’s not. So enough of the rambling. I guess I have no great ideas/advice for you Dawn…This is an area that I have alot of growning to do….I guess it is just a matter of gettting over my own insecurities and stepping out of my comfort zone….

  3. Jenna says:

    If ever I feel bad about letting someone see my house as it is now, I just have to look at pictures that DH took of me when I was on bedrest with our daughter. *laughs* The honest truth, you couldn’t hardly find my big, pregnant self on the couch. There was so much mess everywhere, we eventually broke down and asked a neighbor lady for help. So, I look back at those pictures, and it helps me put things ito perspective. Maybe there is a film of dust on my tv, but who cares? Is someone going to run away in disgust if they see our mail in a pile next to the rocking chair? For the most part, I think that we women just need to lighten up. When we make such a big deal that OUR houses have to be spotless to have guests, we’re also sending that same message to our friends- and possibly making them feel insecure. Is that what we want to foster? 😮 )

  4. javadawn says:

    Laura, Did I write your post and put your name to it or did you blog MY post and put it on Javadawn? Cause I’m thinking we’re the same person. Although I can’t say I’ve left my best friend out in the cold MI night – only because I don’t live in MI. 😉 (We did entertain guests on the porch, with a oil lamp and hot tea – but that was because they stopped over unexpectedly and we had a houseful of flu victims – they NEEDED to talk that very minute, so they accepted our offer of a front porch gathering…and it was COLD!! Snow flying, as I recall, BUT they didn’t get the flu, which was the goal.)

    Jenna, you’re starting to sound like Lydia. Remember that piece she wrote about putting ourselves second and allowing others to see us in the midst of our mess, without profuse apologies? UGH –

    You know, I realized, as I read your post, should you arrive on my doorstep, with a medical release indicating you were legally blind, I’d let you in my house ANY TIME! 😀 It’s the whole, “My house is a pit” thing that ends up slowing me down, I think.

    I NEVER expect that from someone else…ok, maybe ONE someone else – I have tried to find dirty dishes in her kitchen sink or hair in her shower for YEARS and I haven’t yet. (DRAT!):lol: But, for anyone else, I could be in their house and unless I stuck to the floor I probably wouldn’t even notice if it was a mess or not. (That’s not true – I went to a friend’s house one time and climbed on piles of dirty clothes that were higher than my knees – I noticed…but only because they were all over the kitchen and I was trying to get to the bathroom) 😀

    I remember Kim (are you reading Kim dear?) that if you arrived on her door step and the house was a disaster and the dog had just barfed on the floor and … something else, I don’t remember what – she’d welcome you with open arms. I cringed….I don’t think I could do that. I’d like to, I just don’t know that I could.

    Jenna, so what you’re telling me is it all comes down to pride (AGAIN!!!) aren’t you?! Jenna? Shut up. 😉 😉 😉 (Don’t tell my children. That’s considered cussing at my house.)

    Ok, so who besides Laura and I would make you sit on the front porch in the rain because the house was a mess? 😉 😉 (Come on – surely someone!)

  5. Mrs. Nehemiah says:

    I think we can look at this like a Mary/Martha situation. do we want to sit at our guests feet (so to speak) and enjoy fellowship with them, or do we wish to run ourselves ragged trying to impress them with our housekeeping skills?(when if we really took the time to do our work every day we wouldn’t have to run ourselves ragged when guests are coming, Ouch! I better get offline now, I have a birthday party here in only three weeks!!)
    by the way where IS that balance??
    Mrs Nehemiah

  6. javadawn says:

    Mrs N ~ I have NO clue. You know, I can be disciplined and diligent for weeks on end. I can have things running smoothly, but the first week that the whole thing comes crashing around my ears – generally due to illness or being too busy – we get drop in guests. AND usually LOTS of them. 😆 I should have recognized that the Lord was dealing with pride in my heart/life long ago. 🙄 I’m just a little slow on the uptake.

  7. winkies6 says:

    GENTLE??? I am certain you know that you are NOT talking to Martha Stewart here. I can bake. That does not in any way indicate I am a great hostess. ROFLOL!!

    I have stopped people from coming in my house by meeting them out front to greet them. Glad to hear I am not the only one. Hey, I have kids too, ages 2-10, there is stuff all over my house!

    Almost everytime we have people over, announced or not, I forget to ask them if they want something to drink. That’s only if they haven’t asked me for something first. Oh, we are horrible at it.

    I want for people to feel comfortable in my house. Comfortable to feel free to help themselves. Is that wrong? I mean the first couple times they come over I’ll get it for them. After that, you are like a regular. LOL

    I am with Jenna. It’s all TOTALLY about the relationship.

    We’ve had Thanksgiving at our house before with both sets of parents (or grandparents, however you see it) and brothers and sisters on both sides. The tableclothes didn’t match. The plates didn’t match. The silverware didn’t even match. The tables were two different levels even! But I can tell you, we were practically kicking out everyone at the end of the evening. We were exhausted! I saw my father, who is usually running away from dinners away from home and other social situations, lounging (!) in a chair in my living room; comfortable as can be. Amazing.

    People have told us that our house is very comfortable. I call that “lived in”. LOL I don’t care for the stacks of papers, magazines, bills laying around in plain view, but that’s our house. Usually when people walk in unannounced, I ask them to look past our clutter and come on in. Oh yeah, and be careful of any toys that may still be laying around. I call that the “toy shuffle”: keep your feet touching the ground and pretend you are cross-country skiing. LOL

    I am NOT a perfectionist when it comes to my house or entertaining. (psst, doesn’t that go back to the firstborn daughter thing? Cuz I’m a middle/second child :D) I am NOT a cleanie by any means. I do TRY to keep my house clean and maybe a little less of a hazard to your health with general vacuuming and occassional dusting, but it doesn’t always happen.

    I totally agree with the whole Martha/Mary scenario. God isn’t looking for us to make perfect meals or to keep our houses perfectly attended to. He is looking for us to attend to our relationships as perfectly as we can and to make our words as fruitful as we can. Everything else is “cake”.

    (((HUGS))) and get over it girl! How’s that go? God made dirt………

  8. ReneeM says:

    you guys are funny. WE love having people over. We’ve even had grilled cheese and tomato soup for last minute ones. (always dessert of SOME kind! 🙂 )

    A friend of mine… a pastor’s wife 🙂 which kind of makes me laugh, wonders how I do it, having people in my house to eat at least once a week (home church) and often more… Then I told her my menu.

    OH… that’s it? yeah, sloppy joes, spaghetti, fettucine alfredo… its generally simple. AND when its not, its for fun, and sometimes it doesn’t work out, and I think that is a hoot, quite frankly!! BECAUSE we always have lots of bread, and of course, desert!!!

    In Australia, it is rare to invite someone out to eat, you usually invite them to your home, for a cuppa (hot drink – or cold, and a pastry / cake / cookie) or a meal. And it is usually simple.

    I have never had my whole house organized… so I guess no one would ever come into my home if I waited for that!! – that tells you how sad my organizational skills are!!

  9. Shanlilac says:

    Dawn,

    I am not talented with hospitality, either, but have such a heart for it! I think it is a wonderful way to serve the Lord and for Christians to be mutually encouraged. I have so often wished hospitality would “ooze” from me the way you are talking about.

    But I have not got any natural talent at all! The talking and being friendly part goes great as long as I haven’t got any serving to do; but I can’t converse well and work in the kitchen, seeing that things run smoothly, at the same time. One or the other seems to suffer.

    My husband has even more of a heart for hospitality than I do. The wonderful thing about that is he helps me! Truly, he is better with remembering things like coffee and drinks than I am.

    So together we have people over; all would flop without my darling, for even though I think I work hard to remember everything, the reason I end up relaxing and just having fun is because he’s there and will remember some details I forget.

    Sometimes we both overlook something significant, though! We were holding a young couple’s Bible study at our place and at the end of the night, two of the five or so couples there said they’d better get going. They headed toward the door, but then just seemed to linger in conversation.

    I thought they were having so much fun they just didn’t want to leave when they managed to stand around for another half hour. But then one of the women timidly asked for their coats! They had been politely waiting all that time for me to get their coats from where I had put them in the closet.

    I felt foolish! Because I had never once caught on the whole time! This is the kind of thing that happens to you (and worse) when you do not have natural talent for hospitality.

    But we persevere! And laugh about the memories of both our mishaps and the great fun we’ve had…

  10. Oh hey, no advice from me. I’m in the middle of scurrying around because we have missionaries coming over Sunday…missionaries with seven kids…:) So…that will be 14 kids? WOWSERS! Yeah, we’re tryin’ to clean.

    I want to be hospitable,too, Dawn. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to MAKE myself relax. I have to FORCE myself to say…”it isn’t any big deal.”

    Thanks for the confirmation, ladies!

  11. Margie says:

    Well, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have never stopped someone from coming in my house when it was a mess. Maybe it is just because I never have people drop by unannounced. It certainly isn’t because I always have a neat and clean home.

    One of my projects for this fall has been to establish routines so that we don’t have to clean like the white tornado when guests are coming. I am sad to say that my mom and her husband are coming on Sunday and the bathrooms have not been cleaned for three weeks so the tornado will be roaring through this place on Saturday. My excuse is that we are trying to combine school routines with cleaning routines and just don’t have the glitches worked out yet. Yup! that’s my story and I’m stickin to it.

    Has anyone ever done something like Once A Month cooking? I was given the cookbook as a wedding present. The whole idea is that there is always food in the freezer so that when ever guests drop by you can feed them. It is a great idea. I have yet to actually put it into practice.

  12. Jenna says:

    I wouldn’t mind doing “once a month” cooking, but it wouldn’t work for our unexpected guests. For some reason, as sure as rain is wet- guests show up as we are scooting our chairs in at the table. lol

    I think that the reason why I enjoy being hospitable so much is because it gives me opportunity to really witness to people. Quite fankly, I’ve never been in a situation where anyone has cared one hoot about what I might have to offer as far as the gospel or spiritual/life advise unless we have first gained RELATIONSHIP. Church may be a great place to sing praises with believers, but my real WORK takes place in my kitchen. I seek to establish relationship through the stomach, which isn’t so hard in America. *laughs* (haven’t met a normal person who doesn’t like to eat!!) Whether it is taking a platter of food over to nervous neighbors, or walking an apple pie next door, I try to let people know that I think about them and seek to gift and nurture them. THAT leads people into actually listening to me on the occassion that I open my mouth to speak, after plenty of time exercising my ears. So, the long and short of it is, hospitality isn’t just a nice thing that I just do because I like people to like me. (Ok, that too. lol) God poked me into using it as a means to knock on people’s hearts.

  13. Kim's Vineyard says:

    Hi there Dawn! Yes, I am listening! I found a piece of my jawing on hospitality in our home, here it is!
    Well, for starters, our home is only 672 sq ft with one bedroom and one bath. Dh and I sleep on a fold-out sofa in the living room/dining room/kitchen combo! It is a breeze to clean…takes about 15 minutes–20 if I scrub the toilet! :o) So, when I say ‘our home’, I really mean the whole 13 acres of land including the dwelling! I always have coffee ready to make, and try to keep the dishes done. The kidlets have strict routine of chores in the morning that tidy up for unexpected guests. BUUUUT my biggest secret is that I am always hospitable even when the place is a mess, the fridge is empty and the dog is throwing up on the rug! I chucked the whole premise of hospitality ‘looking good’ a long time ago! Hospitality need not ‘look’ it needs to ‘be’ good. Good heart, good smile, good genuine interest in my guest over all else. That has not always been easy, but I believe it (hospitality) to be one of my primary spiritual gifts and the Lord does not set a plan–well, without a plan! When someone drives in the driveway…I always try to approach it as an act of God and melt into a moldable piece of clay for His use. It does NOT always work! Sometimes I am selfish and greedy and nasty….oooohh I despise myself when I act this way. However, I would be lying to say that it does not happen.
    So come on over, anytime! I’ll make the coffee and you can try to make your way through MY maze of laundry to get to the bathroom!
    Kim in Northern MI

  14. onebeggarsbread says:

    Dawn! I saw your blog post this morning, and remembered a post I had written on hospitality, and my journey towards there, but never “published.” It never seemed the right time, before, but today’s a good day! In fact, I just read through the comments your friends made, and I think I’ll add a link back here from my blog — great practical tips and encouragement you have here!
    Deborah
    http://onebeggarsbread.wordpress.com/2006/09/28/cultivating-hospitality/

  15. ~ Patricia says:

    Wonderful thread! I’d like to think that I am an example of southern hospitality, but it didn’t come naturally. I had to pray for it. It has nothing to do with a clean house, though. In fact, the more “lived-in” a house looks, the more inviting it is for most of us. I’ve learned how to do a quick surface cleaning in my guest bathroom every day and the rest I don’t worry about. For several years, I hosted our homeschool group once a week and that was exactly what I needed to get over my perfectionistic tendencies. My best friend has a beautiful home that could easily be featured in Southern Living, but she is perfectly comfortable with dishes in the sink and dust on the furniture and I think she is the queen of hospitality. We live in a very rural county, across the river from the main part of a very small town, on about five acres on a dead-end road. In other words, I almost never have company just drop in, but if I did, I would make a fresh pot of coffee, and/or offer a glass of sweet tea (I am never without coffee and sweet tea.). If I am expecting company, I would make muffins and/or bread ahead of time. Are any of y’all coming down?

  16. Valerie says:

    Well, Dawn, I LOVE to entertain! Given five minutes notice, I can make my house look clean. My mother is a clean-bunny, and I was raised to never have people over unless the house was perfect! I’ve veered from that – I’ve learned that as long as you can give the floor a quick once-over with a dustbuster, it is best to vacuum AFTER they all go!

    Now, I don’t have children (YET!!) but I hope I can keep this relatively-tidy thing happening. Mess really bugs me! lol! (NOT in other peoples’ homes – just mine! I don’t give two hoots about what everyone else does – as long as we can have a good gab!)

    Like Renee said, we tend to entertain at home, often just with some tea and cake, or a glass of wine and some nice nibbles. I can always find something to put out to munch on, even if it’s a bowl of almonds and dates!

    I have found that lowering my expectations of myself, and at the same time, never letting my house get Out Of Control works the best for unexpected drop ins.

    Enough yabbering from me.

    Valerie

  17. javadawn says:

    Valerie, my dear, you just come yabber ANY time. If I come to your house I want snags, you realize that, right?? 🙂
    Dear Ladies, yep, yep, yep – it’s pride. Of that I’m CERTAIN. When I’m reading this, I’m thinking – oh yah, I do that. Yep, I do that. It’s when I get to the “the place is a mess, the dog barfed on the floor and the frig was empty (thanks Kim for rescuing me, I knew there was a 3rd thing)” part that I stop and quiver in me boots. 🙂
    Tonight we stopped unexpectedly at a friends house – and she welcomed us with open arms. She ministered to our bodies with hot tea and to our minds, hearts and souls with rich conversation. While I was sitting there she said, “I don’t do this hospitality thing well.” (or some thing close to that.) I said, “Oh don’t go there with me today.” And I passed over it….KRISTINE – FORGIVE ME! I should have clarified MOST CERTAINLY that you are hospitable. What a dope I am…even away from home I was too involved with ME! Which, I would have to suspect is the root of the whole problem to begin with, eh???!
    Patricia, you know, if I know I’m having company, which is not the norm, I generally have TONS more drop in guests than announced, I delight in asking Father to tell me what to fix for my guests that would bless them. Patricia, my dear, if you ever make it up this far, please send me the recipe for sweet tea – I don’t know how to make it right. (The coffee – no problem!) 😉
    Deborah, I’m eager to go read your blog! Thank you for joining with us in this discussion.
    Holly Belle – Extra stars for you – guests after traveling!!!!!! Honey, this has GOT to earn you jewels in your crown!
    Shannon, your story made me think of the time that we had guests over and I had made a turkey – I was hurrying and zipped into the dining room, where the bird went flying off the platter and landed at the feet of one of the guests. I said, “Whew, good thing I made two turkeys, let me grab the other one.” Ran into the kitchen (where they could all see me) and rinsed it off. I love the stories we have of hospitality gone awry. 😆 Thanks for reminding me!
    You Miss Margie – you tell them that I said that blending chores and school is required for graduation. 😉

  18. Elissa says:

    I like what Valerie said, “I don’t give two hoots about what everyone else does – as long as we can have a good gab!”. This is so true. I have been in very clean homes where it was very uptight and uncomfortable to be there and in messy homes where there was conversation and love and it was relaxing and enjoyable. Not that clean homes aren’t good, but just to say that it is definately the people in it that matter.

  19. I can’t believe I almost missed this whole conversation (stupid errand day…grumble, grumble)! The whole *southern hospitality* thing has just been INGRAINED in me from childhood. And I love to have people over – I really do. BUT (knew that was coming didn’t you) women around here (me included sometimes) have such an issue of PRIDE in their homes. ANd it can make hospitality absolutely gut-wrenching. There have been times I’ve left unexpected guests cooling their heels while I washed crystal to serve iced tea and times when I let my baby cry so I wouldn’t be rude and leave my guests – now is that messed up or what?! But two good friends tought me so much about hospitality. They both typically have spotless house (one actually has the prettiest home in country club estates) and are extrordinary hostesses. The first, Mandy, invited me over for the first time and showed me where she kept her glasses. She said “here are the glasses. we’re going to be friends so you just make yourself at home and help yourself.” After that she didn’t feel like she had to remember to “be a good hostess” and I always felt like family. The other friend, Melanie, would just make you sick if you knew her. Gorgeous big white house (the kind with the columns out front), looks like Scarlett but acts like Melly(GWTW reference:) ), and she’s a size 4. Why am I friends with her again? 🙂 Anyway. Her house is usually spotless but I once stopped by to drop off some church stuff (she knew I was coming) and there were piles of laundry everywhere. You had to step over them to get in because her laundry closet was next to her front door (and that was the last time I coveted her house!). She said “just step over the clothes and move those clothes out of the chairs while I grab us a drink. By the way, you’ve been promoted to a backdoor friend now:)” Both times I felt loved and valued as a friend and very at home. So I am trying, TRYING, to get over myself and just treat people like family. I’m so much more likely to invite people over when I’m not trying to impress, although that pride monster still rears his ugly head.

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  1. […] Addendum:  Check out JavaDawn’s post on hospitality and the ensuing comments…full of encouragment and tips on cultivating hospitality!  I am so thankful for what I have learned from Titus 2 mentors from CyberSpace! […]



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