Friday, March 13, 2015

Being Hospitable Even if You Don't Feel Your Home is Very Nice

 We live in a brand new large home. It still isn't finished yet but it is already a place that is very comfortable to have company (though at the moment we do have a pretty muddy driveway which makes life interesting for our guests). We did design it with having company in mind. BUT... I have lived in various situations throughout my life and no matter what the current situation we can still find ways to be hospitable.

  I think one of the most common hesitations for having company that I have heard concerns their homes and feeling like they just aren't good enough. The thing is (as I talked about last week) the reason for having company is not to show off our homes. So you don't need to have your home to magazine standards in order to be able to invite guests and have a good time with them.

It really doesn't matter if your house is.....

  • Small
  • Undecorated
  • Unfinished
  • Chilly (tell guests to dress warmly)
  • Cluttered
  • Up many flights of stairs
  • Not really a house but a garage (or a tent, or a camper, etc....)
  • or whatever your issue may be....
Yes you may have to be hospitable in a way that works for you but where there is a will there is a way!

What if your house is small?

  Common sense might dictate that you don't have large dinner parties or host a dozen overnight guests but then maybe you just might be super creative and figure out how to make that work anyway!  But truly nothing says that to be hospitable you have to have over a lot of people at once. Having one or two is okay too.

 My brother Luke and his wife MollyBea used to live in a little bitty apartment. They did have 2 bedrooms but the rest of it was really small. If you stood in the middle of the kitchen I think you could touch everything else in that room. They had a little bitty eating spot with a little bitty table and room for 2 chairs (maybe they could fit 3 if they worked at it?) and their living room had room for a loveseat and chair. So, pretty small. But they still had company - and had it often. Mostly it wasn't large groups and I know having our family of 6 over was a cause for consideration before they did it but they made it work. They didn't let a little bitty apartment stop them from being hospitable.

So, if you have a small house you could....
  • Have over small amounts of people at a time.
  • Host people when the weather is warm and have them in your yard or even at a park.
  • Figure out ways to utilize every inch of space in the house. I remember being impressed many years ago when I read an article about somebody with a tiny house that had a large party but they made it so they served appetizers in the kitchen, other stuff in the dining room, dessert in the bedroom, and so forth. Every inch of space was creatively used for entertaining.
What if you are embarrassed about your house?

This doesn't sound very nice to say but it is realistic. There are probably times that all of us have been embarrassed by the way our home looks. Maybe you are struggling to keep it clean. Maybe it isn't finished. Maybe all the decorating that has ever been done is taping your child's artwork up on the walls. You know what the issue is for you if that is something that you struggle with. With me at one time it was the issue of having white carpet that was never white - in fact it usually looked rather nasty.

 The first thing that we need to remember to do it to practice thank-fullness. God has blessed us with a home - it may not be as fancy as some others but it protects us from the elements and we are able to live there happily. Just spend some time thinking (maybe writing down) all the ways that you are thankful for your home. Being thank-ful can really help us to learn contentment.

   And then once more, let's remember that when we are hospitable it is for the purpose of sharing Christ's love - not to show off our homes. Some people are going to feel more comfortable in a modest home that is cluttered than they ever will in a magazine style home. God can use you in whatever situation you are in. 

 Another note on this subject - I have found having company a great motivator for cleaning and decluttering. So if that is something that you need to do - go ahead and invite some guests to come over some set time next week. Having that on your calender will be some great inspiration to do some cleaning, decluttering or even possibly decorating.

You can be hospitable in all kinds of situations!

 Growing up our family lived in a unfinished house. My parents were building it debt free and it was worked on as there was time and money and so that meant the process was pretty slow. That didn't stop my parents from having company. We had people over frequently, exchange students would come and live with us and nobody seemed to mind that we didn't have sheetrock on our ceilings (or even some of the walls at times), or that we had bumpy cement flooring, shelves instead of cupboards, bare bulb lights and so forth. In fact there were many people that loved coming to our house. If they could be hospitable - so can you.

This fall we had our own little experiences with unique situations for hospitality. Living in a garage without plumbing made hospitality interesting but not impossible. We still had friends over for lunch and birthday celebrations at our "house".

Then we moved into the basement of our house while the drywalling was still going on upstairs and dust loved to come filtering down. We were then dealing with getting all of our water out of the pressure tank. It was at this point our lovely elderly neighbors were about to head south for the winter and I really wanted to have them over first as our neighbor had asked if he could hear me play my violin. I will admit, I hesitated. I hadn't minded having family (my family and then Ken's parents staying with us for a week) but having somebody come that had never seen me in a normal home and here I would have them for a meal when I didn't even have a kitchen or a sink. But we invited them anyway. They gladly accepted and we had a lovely time. I cooked in a crockpot and with my little electric burner and they seemed to enjoy the lunch and then we left the dishes for later and went upstairs to our unfinished living room, lit a fire in the fireplace, sat around in our deck chairs and played some music. They seemed very appreciative and we had a lot of fun together. When they come back north I look forward to having them over to our finished home but I am glad we were able to share that time in our unfinished home too.

   Now there may be seasons in your life when hospitality will need to take a little break for a while. You may be dealing with some serious sickness or a disease and it just won't work for you. Or whatever the case may be. This fall we did have a little break time from hospitality when our lives were super busy and the garage was not just chilly but truly cold. We dressed in tons of layers but I just didn't feel like inviting others to come over at that time. But I knew that would be just a short season. 

  I hope that if this is something that you have struggled with that this post doesn't make you feel guilty but that it will encourage you to realize that others have done it - you can too!

  I would love to hear you comments on these thoughts about hospitality!

7 comments:

MollyBea Williams said...

Thanks Abbi, That made me smile.

Nola said...

Thanks for the encouragement. There are two questions that I have about being hospitable. One is that I have allergies to things like perfumes and colognes and that is a big issue when having people over. I can't prevent everything but I am unsure of how to approach this. If I should mention it to people or not. The problem is that it stays behind on my fabric couch etc. after they leave and gives me allergies. Its also sometimes due to what they use to wash their clothes. It can be very strong. I think that the only answer I have come up with is just putting up with my allergies since I can't have people change their laundry detergent just to come over to my house :).

Also, I was wondering what you do when you want to invite people over but their family is much different than yours. For example I have all younger children and all girls and they have older teens or a very rough and tumble boy. We don't have a yard to go into and we don't have much space to spread out into a few areas for different needs. I don't know how to meet multiple age group needs in a smaller space and when I don't know what they like to do since I don't have anyone here in that life situation. I guess its not really my fault if the children are bored if I offer what I have then its just their own problem but I still want them to enjoy themselves.

Abbi said...

I am glad you didn't mind my writing about you MollyBea! :-)

Abbi said...

Nola,
Thanks for the questions. I might use them later as inspiration for further blog posts but here are my thoughts for now. The scent issue is an interesting one and one that I can understand. I have also become sensitive to scents (going by a candle aisle or being around strong fabric softener can give me a headache) though I am grateful that I am not as sensitive as it sounds like you are. But it is something I have thought of as when I am teaching music lessons I will sometimes need to back farther away from my students as the smell of fabric softener on their clothes starts to bother my head. I think I might mention your issue to those company coming over concerning the perfumes and cologne - though I can understand how that might feel uncomfortable but I agree that the laundry detergent/ fabric softener is a lot to ask. If you know it is a big issue with some people maybe wait until the weather is nice and windows can be open before having them?? I don't know. Also maybe you could through a blanket over couches or chairs so that after they leave it could come off and be thrown into the wash. Maybe others would have some ideas to share.....

We have definitely dealt with having families over that our different than ours. Generally now it happens that we will have families with younger children which though it can take thought isn't as hard as the other way. We do generally discuss it as a family before they come if we think there might be challenges for our kids to know how to entertain their kids. Like when a rowdy little boy is coming Megan might be assigned to entertain him and we will think through what sort of games, activities or toys they might both enjoy. Even with your younger kids they might have a game that they could play that older kids might enjoy playing with them. I do find it does really help to think about it ahead of time and visit about it so that they kids aren't left feeling very awkward. We have found it is a good idea to have several options as sometimes visiting kids will quickly dismiss the first ideas that we present. I have found that in our current day in age many kids seem to come equipped with their own electronics to keep themselves occupied. Though this feels sad to me and thankfully we don't have to deal with this very often, it does still work to keep that child that you had no idea how to host entertained for a while. So if it works for their family it can be helpful. I think this sounds like a fun subject for a blog post so I will think on it more and maybe visit with others to get ideas.

Nola said...

Thanks Abbi, I appreciate your answers. I'd love to read a blog post about the dealing with families whose ages are very different than your family. Those are great ideas you have shared already. I think its the hardest when the kids are past the "toys" stage and they haven't been taught to play with younger children or carry conversation, so they aren't really part of the children group or the adult group. I really want my own children at that age to be able to join in with either group in a way that works well. I don't know how I will accomplish it but I've seen teens doing this well. Perhaps you also have some ideas on how to do that. I don't want my children as teens just slumping over in a corner with a bored expression or putting on headphones or on an electronic device (well, we wouldn't allow the devices/headphones to begin with but what I meant is I don't want them disengaged).

Abbi said...

Nola,
I have noticed that most homeschooled kids do not have this issue (though there are some that are very shy and have trouble visiting with anybody) as they aren't used to being in an environment where they are only around peers of their own age. So I think as long as you keep your kids exposed to situations where they have to deal with people of various ages they should do fine. Also since we don't have electronics for our kids to use it isn't ever an issue for them concerning having their nose buried in them as it isn't even an option.

Nola said...

Thanks! Good to know that what I'm trying to do will hopefully "pay off". :) That is one thing I love about homeschooling- the age integration. I love that my kids don't think twice about what age someone is before they are friends with that person and I love the exposure they get to all age groups!
Thanks again for answering me, I love getting some "words of wisdom" from someone "a few steps" ahead of me (my oldest is your youngest's age).

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