Hospitality is God given. I believe that is true. But I also believe it is learned. From generation to generation we pass on traits, among them, teaching those in our homes of the value of putting others before ourselves.
Is there any better example of servanthood, than to serve? I am still tweaking and improving this process of hostessing.
My husband Tom and I love to entertain, but shamefully I should say that I have had the venue perfect but my own heart unwelcoming. Exhaustion from making everything “just so” has destroyed not only the relationships in our home by speaking harsh words in haste but moreover it has robbed my own joy of being with my friends. Which if you think about it, isn’t this the whole idea anyway?
As I write I am still gleaning many of the truths I share, I hope you will gain some as well. I would love to hear your stories of mishap and success.
If you have time, comment on your own “kernels” of wisdom. Please know that I value your thoughts and that you are always welcome here!
“WELCOME MAT TO MY HEART”
Soft pink and white tissue paper peeks out tucked just beneath a bountiful row of fluffy pink slippers, size 0 to 11. Basket after basket lay stacked covering my room, 20 to be exact. The correlation of them all looks like a whimsical parade of cotton candy. It’s the final detail in my much anticipated “Women’s Spa Day.” It seemed like a crazy endeavor to undertake, but months later it has come together just as I had imagined.
It’s late Thursday evening and I’m fussing about making sure each detail is exact, perfect. I look across my efforts displayed with delight. From the next room I hear a soft chuckle as my husband peeks around the corner. I sigh believing he must think I’m nuts. Before I can assemble the words, he smiles and says, “I get it.” I offer him a bewildered look as he continues to explain. “It’s your way of making them feel special, right?”
His words encourage me and I am hopeful for the same reaction come tomorrow. Certainly if my husband can understand my motives, these 50 ladies will embrace the warmth of my heart.
Event after event I have found that women just want to know that they are valued, important and above all, loved. How to convey this is the trick.
Can I truly love someone I have never met or have only indulged in brief conversation? Maybe not the love that comes from years of invested friendship, but I do believe that the love of Christ can transcend all in unfamiliar circles.
Platforms, agenda’s and programs are vital to give substance to any well thought out gathering, but just as well placed are the variables that surround them. Unless you are a person creating big venues, the majority of us find that our greatest moments are usually found in our home or back yard, hosting friends, family and loved ones.
Picnic tables, BBQ’s and camp fires allow us the perfect avenue to enjoy those we hold dear, if only for just a few short hours. Either way both venues can create an opportunity to bring people into our world, lavishing our best efforts on them, hoping to make them feel special for the time they are with us.
Welcome to my Home ….
To suggest that we need to make people feel that we desire their company in our home seems ludicrous. After all didn’t we invite them? But in fact many of us have entered into an evening where the clock seemed to scurry us out the door even before our stomach had time to digest dinner, true? So what do we do to create this warm inviting environment?
In my own life, I enjoy the feeling of tranquility, a place of calm, like being whisked away if only for a brief escape from the daily grind. I guess in essence, a place that feels like “vacation!” For myself, the best memories of feeling this way were played out in acts of simplicity in homes with very intentional hosts.
My mother Elaine was the best at this. Our home was never fancy, but candles were always lit, making the room scented with the undertones of cinnamon and clove. Food was always plenty, and friends were always welcome.
Many of my mother’s traits naturally come out when I am hosting. Even with the flowers placed, candles lit and music set in motion I find that one thing can often be missing, “Me!”
Giving yourself permission to have things “less than perfect” is key, especially if you are a perfectionist like I tend to be at times. My mother taught me this. My own expectations often get in the way of what is actually expected.
So relax …… enjoy the process, don’t get too caught up in the details.
Place your focus on your guests! Though this is something that may not come naturally, as you work at it you will find that you will enjoy yourself more creating much less stress for everyone.
So send out the invitations!
And noted, although paper is always a nice touch, a group text will work just fine. Remember, the “less” expectations, the “less” stress, the “nicer” you will be. After all, it’s you they are coming for!
As you put out the welcome mat, plan the menu and clean the house, be mindful as each guest arrives to put on a smile, embracing each person, greeting them with a genuine heartfelt sincerity.
But above all, put on the heart of Jesus Christ, for these are the things that truly make someone feel “welcome!”
I Peter 4:9,10 “Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Carole Overmyer says
Lori — Hello from your “hometown” ! I just wanted to drop you a line to tell you that I really appreciated this particular entry of yours. And I needed it. I have always considered myself a rotten, poorly organized hostess and have avoided it more often than not. AHA –you hit the nail on the head about “why”……expectations too high, stress, perfectionism and worst of all — the heart of Christ was not IN me. I will try to do better. Thanks, Lori. BTW — your Mom was a sweety and a person always felt welcome in her home.
Lori Clounie says
Carole. So great to hear from you. So many fond memories of your children and your home! I continually remind myself each time we decide to host a party or event that it is about the gathering of family and friends …. not the venue! Not an easy task to do but I keep hoping to one day get it right. In the meanwhile … If I show up a looking a disaster, you’ll know it wasn’t today! Lol.
Deanna Albertson says
Thanks for your wonderful words of wisdom!! I also want everything to be PERFECT if I’m hosting any event and find myself fussing at my own family!!! I try and relax, knowing that people just enjoy being with friends and family and if everything isn’t perfectly placed, it’s not really a problem!!! I’m pretty sure the story of Mary and Martha fits here very well!!!!
((HUGS)) dear friend!!
Lori Clounie says
Exactly! And personally I’ve always had a lot of compassion for Martha! Lol. Kind of understand her heart. Appreciate your heart too …you have the true gift of making others feel welcome.
Beth Steury says
Such a great post, Lori! And, man, can I identify as I too struggle with everything being perfect. I’ve noticed that a half hour after everyone arrives, I care much less about the frayed rug in the bathroom or the fingerprints that reappeared for the third time on the front door. I THINK i’m imroving–allowing myself some slack–but it’s an ongoing struggle. I’m thinking we have a lot in common. Hope we get meet someday! 😉
Lori Clounie says
How true is that …. I’ve begun making it a priority to get ready first thing in the morning for a party I am hosting later that night, because in evidently I am always running behind and look a wreck by the time I’ve scrambled around putting finishing touches. This way I look at least reasonable to host! And …You are right, it is a process! I look forward to meeting you as well!
WOW! Another wonderfully written passage. I being a bit opposite from you. I just recently hosted a cook out with my co-workers. I had the day off and thought it would be nice to surprise them with a real cooked meal and fellowship. I was never once worried about the perfection part, I just tend to go with the flow. Fortunately for me everything turned out to a T. Meaning, it was perfect. Got to know my co-workers even better then I did. We had a lovely evening and everyone was talking about it at work the next day. Unfortunately we all do not stay at the same hotel and their were many not a part of our evening but they all still were overwhelmed with the the generosity that I shared. God was a big part of our evening! He was watching over us in the back ground, he is what made it a perfect evening..
Lori Clounie says
Sis you have such a generous heart! So many are blessed by knowing you!