"When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality." Romans 12:13
I love to have people into my home. But, I am not immune to the stress of preparing for them, of thinking my home isn't *up to par*, of stressing over the menu, of driving my family crazy wondering if the house will be *clean enough in time.*
It's easy to procrastinate making that invitation to have others over isn't it? But then when you do and the night is wonderful, isn't it so worth it?
I have been told that *practicing hospitality* is a lost art and maybe that's true. Perhaps that is why there are so many lonely people!
For myself, the first thing I have to do to plan a night in my home with others is to
~Get over myself! I have to get over my ideas of needing a *magazine cover home* or a *big home* or even *matching dishes!* LOL!! It needs to be about serving people, not showing how *together* I am!
Then I need to
~Take the leap of faith and do the inviting. Often I'll ask my kids or husband who they would like to invite. Often it's someone that I have found myself repeating the words *we must get together* with. Or I might offer to have a Bible Study or Fellowship group in my home.
Once I've made the invite and we have set the date then it's time to plan the menu, ready the house, and ready the kiddos.
*Planning the Menu: I always ask those I invite if they have allergies or food sensitivities. If it is something hard to get around, I'll ask their advice or for recipes that are tried and true. I might ask for ideas on meals I could create that their children will love. I don't want parents feeling like they are fighting their children while they are here because I made something they hate. I might run my final decision by them to make sure it'll be a hit. **There have been times when creating a whole meal is too much for me because we're in a busy season. In those times, I might invite someone over for take out pizza or invite them for dessert. I don't think a big meal is required to practice hospitality!
I try to list the ingredients I'll need right away and buy it with my regular grocery shop. Or I'll go the day before. I try to avoid having to go to the grocery store the day they are coming. It's just too much for me to be taking care of the major stuff *that day.*
*Ready the House: One thing I hear quite often is that people don't invite others over because of the level of clutter in their homes. I've been there. May I make a suggestion? Box it up and label it like you're moving. Put it somewhere you can find again. Set a time on your calendar when you'll go through those boxes and declutter. But if you wait to declutter every room, and clutter is an issue for you, you'll never have anyone over.
I try to take care of major cleaning before the day my company comes if possible. I have disc issues with my back and heavy cleaning and evening plans don't mix! So, I have to plot out what cleaning will get done when (and I totally involve the family)! Incidentally, one very selfish reason I love to have people over is that my house gets clean!! A weekly appointment like a Bible Study is a total bonus because it forces me to keep short accounts with the house.
The *day of*, I am cooking and trying to clean as I go. The kids and I go room by room making sure everything is *company ready.* When I had young children I had baskets or containers that I could quickly scoop their toys into and things I knew wouldn't stay cleaned, I cleaned just before our company arrived.
*Ready the kiddos: I find it very helpful to review with my kids any expectations that involve them. Do I expect them to share toys (when they were young and played with toys)? Do I expect them to clear the table or do the dishes? Do I expect them to entertain younger children? Do I expect them to give the adults some time to talk alone? Whatever the expectations I find is vital to prepare the kids by talking thoroughly beforehand.
Practicing hospitality is a challenge, but such a blessing! I can tell you, I am still *practicing*. But I am enjoying the journey and reaping the benefit of rich relationships!