I asked my friend Rhonda, mom of 3 grown children, 2 girls and one boy, if I could interview her today on the subject of Hospitality. I gave her just a few questions and then let her go, because she has such wonderful ideas. Now that she’s a grandma she does amazingly fun things with her grandchildren. (We’ll have to get her back here sometime soon so she can tell you about some of them.) Today, though, she’s going to share with us what kinds of seeds of hospitality she planted in her family when they were young that grew and grew into this massive beautiful flowering tree of hospitality whose branches reach out to bless everyone and where you can come and be refreshed in its shade and beauty. I asked her to share ideas for young moms. I didn’t want to direct her answers, because I knew I could never imagine the wonderful ideas she would share! And I was right.
“I guess a little about myself. I am the oldest in a family of eight. My dad was a plumber and I spent most of my days working at his shop and very little time in the kitchen. I feel very intimidated in the kitchen whether it be my own or a large church function. I love to learn from others that have that gift and are willing to take me by the hand and teach it to me with patience. That being said my love for hospitality has to do with my love of people NOT my love of cooking. I guess I have always loved having people over but the big balancing act I had to try to overcome is not going overboard with details. For me details is a way of showing people how much they mean to me. In the early years of our marriage we started out with simple meals for grandparents. The kids would love to get involved and their grandparents left knowing the kids better and feeling blessed. Then I think we moved to neighbors. Most of our neighbors had kids the same age as ours so we started out with a rotating “play group” that was called Joy School. That lead to activities like family Christmas parties, bike decorating parades and many more activities that included dads. Those days held more picnics with neighbors and not formal dinners.
We began to meet many people at church but the young families were always doing something and we noticed a group of older widows and older couples that we started to get close to. Our hospitality was a way of getting to know those older people better and they were shocked that we even wanted to spend the time with them when there were so many activities that we could be doing with people our own age and in our same family situation. I guess the tip I would give to young families is to take the time to train your children in character and manners early and have older people over to practice the training. You don’t have the distraction of other children. It seems like so many of the young families today are overwhelmed with running and I would challenge them to just try it once. Hospitality is a way to train your children and enjoy relationships with all ages of people… We would put the kids to bed at an early hour and have the rest of the evening to visit. Then we had a great time of talking about all that they had been through in their lives and it was just as good if not better than a bible study or retreat. We had many different people over with many different life stories. Some were retired missionaries, some widows, some grew up in the depression, some grew up in non-Christian homes, some were grandparents that had family far away, etc…. One of the blessings of having activities in our home is we can have a little control on the activities. Many people gather large groups of people together but the activities don’t always provide for a way to get to know the people better. That has been hard to find a balance today. Tips: Be creative but simple. Bless someone who is older and you will be blessed. Hymn-sings and dessert were our favorite! Be sensitive to people with special needs.”
This is the essence of hospitality: letting Christ love somebody else through you. When I visit Rhonda she will always say how much God blessed her through my visit and how it was just what she needed at that exact moment. “This was just what I needed–the Lord knew I needed this.” Well, that’s the way I feel about her visit with us today. Thanks, Rhonda!
I think you can see her heart as big as all outdoors in what she shares. I love these ideas! Maybe you’ve done something like this, too. Let us know, or maybe you did something in your neighborhood to bring people together. Did you ever mix up the age-groups and how did that work out? We’d love to hear about it.