Hospitality: How Much and How Long, Lord? (Part 1)

Series on Hospitality: How Much and How Long, Lord? on Faith's Firm Foundation

Are you new here? Or maybe you come a lot! Please don’t miss a single post: subscribe by email or in a reader in the sidebar on the right. To receive posts directly to your inbox, enter your email and click on the subscribe button below it–it’s easy!

And

Don’t Forget to go over and
Enter my $20 Dayspring Giveaway which ends
Wednesday night at midnight CST!

Perhaps there is no area that God has used more than Hospitality in the ongoing work in my heart to make me more a Christ-like Homemaker.  Yesterday, Andrea at Right-Thinker, (click on the link) posted on “Hospitality or Home Wrecking Havoc?” dealing with the issue of extended-stay visitors in our home and she shared some of her frustrations and questions. Having just bid goodbye to my brother and nephew, who were here for a shorter-than-usual annual visit–12 days this time–this subject is especially fresh in my heart and mind.

The subject of Hospitality is so near and dear to my heart, though, that this post prompted a new sub-series beginning today on Faith’s Firm Foundation.  I know that you all have had to, or will have to, at one time or another, deal with the questions raised by Andrea, of how much of ourselves to give to guests.  How long should we allow them to stay.  Should we let our home life be turned upside down?  I think that Andrea expresses her feelings very well–please read her words for yourself.  (I’ve written a lot on the subject of Hospitality–please also click on the link to read more of my thoughts, if you’re interested in the subject.)

I have many thoughts after reading Andrea’s post. God has had to deal with my heart so often on this.

A Story

First, a story.  I remember when we bought our present home and the unfinished basement was empty. I dreamed of finishing it, and making it really nice.  I’d never built my own home, but loved decorating, loved showing hospitality, and this space would be perfect! I had big dreams.  I prayed, planned and dreamed for years.  Small changes were made, but there was no money for this project, so I waited.  We continued to use the space, unfinished.

Finally, the time came, and I chose the carpet carefully, but didn’t realize just how light the color was, (almost white) until it was down.  Yet, it was beautiful, and I was so happy with the results.  Every time we used the lower level of our home, I rejoiced at answered prayer, with gratitude to the Lord.

My heart was not only grateful, I treasured my finished basement, and had come to think of it as “mine.”  I was proud of how my home was beginning to look, and loved to clean it and stand back and admire the results.  (It wasn’t house beautiful, but I loved it.) Oh, sure, I used it for the Lord, but it had become too dear to me, and the Lord knew it. I didn’t.  But He was about to show me my heart.

Home Church

About once every 6 weeks, we moved all the furniture out of the large open area of our walkout basement and set up a podium and folding chairs in rows, in order to host about 30-35 people including small children at “Home Church,” as we referred to it.  This was a part of the larger church we attended, so the other weeks we were together with the whole group.  Home Church Sunday became a real trial for me.  I was agonizing, frequently in tears, really stressed, and praying hard.  I had no idea why I was going through these feelings.  This went on for a while, until one Sunday I came before the Lord with my heart.

“Lord, what is going on here? Take a look at my heart (I said with my heart in my hand).  I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’m a wreck! I’m so nervous, and crying, and fearful. Lord, please don’t let anyone spill grape juice on our light carpet during communion!”

Now, you might be laughing at this point, or maybe you’re thinking, “I would never ever allow a group with small children to have grape juice in my carpeted room, much less in one with light-colored carpet!”

This was very, very serious to me.  I realized that I had not committed this new basement to God–given Him ownership of it–and I was cracking under my inability to protect it from damage!

Fully Submitted?

God will always find and draw out areas in a Christian’s life that have not been fully submitted to Him. He had certainly found one of mine.  What matters most to Him is our hearts–in the area of Hospitality or in anything else.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of Hospitality:  “How Much and How Long, Lord?”

This post is linked up with the Homemaking Linkup. Go there to read others’ hearts on “Homemaking.”

Also, the photo is not of my home:)

 

 

Thanks for reading Faith’s Firm Foundation!
Leave me a comment, so I can get back to you.
Come back daily for more encouragement, tips, and
practical help being a wife and mom.
www.wendygunn.net

10 Replies to “Hospitality: How Much and How Long, Lord? (Part 1)”

  1. 30 people for a home church? Wow! We did home churches in our Church, and it consisted of many small groups, like 10-12 people. I think 30 is too much, and I don’t blame you for being stressed out. 30 people is like hosting a baby shower or a huge family reunion every week. I hosted my inlaws here for one week, and it was awesome. I have to go away to visit our relatives for all the holidays, which means renting a car and paying for gas, taking off of work-my husband has no paid vacation days, and then contributing to the food budget while we visit and also missing out on decorating my own house for the holidays bc we are away. So if I’m going to do all of that with two young babies, and drive 24 hours straight to visit, I expect people to bend their routines a little bit. When I visit my mother in law, I mop the floor for her and vacuum and always help with the dishes. My husband does things around the house for them and fixes things etc. We always have a wonderful time, although our routines get out of sync too, and I long to go home and have that routine. And I don’t know about biblical hosting, but it seems to me that the visits would be longer in the past simply bc it took longer to travel and one wouldn’t travel all that way for two days. Also it seems that the first 4 days people are tired from traveling and it takes awhile to get comfortable and jump in to your routine. We stay 10 days with my inlaws bc it takes 24 hours of driving each way to get there, and by the end of the 3 or 4 day we are working together as a big family.

    Andrea-
    What kind of people are you hosting and where do you live that people want to visit that often lol? I don’t think you have a heart problem with hosting, it more sounds like your visitors are not very enjoyable people and they are using you for a hotel instead of visiting you, like you said. Because when family or friends come to visit, I don’t think we mind letting the floor go unwashed, or buying some bread at the store instead of grinding the wheat. Good company is worth it, and the relationships your children form with a big family has a much bigger benefit than homemade bread.

    So when they spill the coffee, hand them the “Little Green Carpet Cleaning machine” by Bissell so they can clean up after themselves. Also, when we visit we always prepare a couple of dishes while we are there, so ask people if they would mind cooking a dinner or two, as you would love to taste their cooking. If they don’t cook, maybe they will take the hint and take you out to eat.

    Also, I felt very uncomfortable jumping in and helping my mother in law, because she had such high expectations and here house is perfect and her cooking is perfect. I can imagine people who don’t do domestic things will feel a little intimidating helping out, especially if you’re grinding your own wheat and they don’t even attempt a box brownie recipe, so a little encouragement will be needed.

    Anyway, I am a so-so organized person, nothing worth writing about, but I’m thankful that when my house gets unorganized or I miss some chores I can just go with the flow. My mother is a super organized woman and her house is House Beautiful, no joke and she a makes delicious dinner with a table setting that would make Martha Stewart jealous. But the woman can’t sit down to a dinner and linger for awhile because she’s so into getting the kitchen cleaned up right away. It’s better to eat a t.v dinner and enjoy your family at the dinner table, than to make everything from scratch and have your family suffer with indigestion bc the meal was so rushed.

    1. Natasha,
      This was such a delight to read! I’d love to sit with you and talk–I think we’d have such a fun (and edifying) time! I don’t even know where to begin, I appreciated so much of what you wrote and agreed with your helpful insights. Thank you so much for posting them. (You vacuum and cook and do dishes? Would you like to come for a visit?)
      Please come often to my blog and don’t forget to subscribe–so fun to hear from you!
      Wendy

  2. Thanks for the link to my article, though I would have more appreciated being notified one of my very few “complaining” type of posts were going to be used as a pointer of how “not to act”! I generally write things more encouraging, so this blog post was something rather unusual for me.

    Anyway, Cara, my feelings of “chaos” isn’t about blaming others. It’s about people who come to my home, and do not care to have a real relationship, but rather a hotel room for an extended time period. Thank you for the organization tips. I think you may be surprised at how organized my home is, even when we have visitors. I’m not sure your assumptions about my feelings are correct. This is part of my job, and one I do willingly. We have the cleanest, and most organized home of anyone I know, and I take pride in doing it for the Lord and my family. We eat at the same time each day, every day, as they sit and read books and spill coffee on my carpet after I’ve mentioned and asked nicely that we only eat at the table…this is the frustration and anxiety.

    However, the people who take advantage do not have children, so they do not pay any mind what it means to be a mother. They have disregard for the role of wife and mother, and put us down for our choices to be open to life. I wonder how they may feel if they had chosen to have 6 homeschooled children, and people would come to their home and take advantage. Biblical hospitality is not taking advantage!

    I’m glad man other women have figured out how to deal with people like this in their home, as I wouldn’t want anyone to deal with this situation. It appears that the only solution is for me to just continue to be a doormat, and allow people to come in for as long as they choose, no matter what the cost to the family. In fact, one of the upcoming visitors has requested to have a room with a “door on it” as opposed to the usual den with a bathroom we utilize for guests. So, we’ll move our son out of his room so she can be appeased.

    It seems I can’t do anything to appease the certain people who take advantage, yet yesterday we had overnight guests who stated they had a wonderful time, and we loved having them..all because they have a bit of respect when they come to visit, and visit because they wish to have a relationship with us, and us them.

    Is there anything you wouldn’t allow guests to do in your home? Is there any length of time in which people who are not in need of a place to stay should be limited to staying? Is it appropriate with very young babies and children to put others before their needs?

    Anyway, thanks for allowing me to clarify a few things. I won’t post any further on the topic, as it may be tough to see this as anything other than an act of rebellion. However, it’s NOT rebellion when one submits to her Lord, her husband, and takes care of the guests and the family, and feels taken advantage of and used, yet allows it for God’s glory. Rebellion would be if I told them they cannot come because they are too inconsiderate.

    1. Andrea,
      You have missed my point. I have felt all your feelings. You are in a difficult place, and I feel empathy for you. What I hope to do in this series is help you and others in all phases and kinds of hospitality, by talking about specific lessons God has taught me. I commented on your blog to let you know that I would be posting, perhaps forgetting to mention I would link to your original post (but I thought linking back was the considerate thing to do). I felt that many moms would resonate with your feelings and predicament, and my post was not “as a pointer of ‘how not to act’.” I ask you to continue to read on. There are many more things I feel the Lord would have me say. Many more lessons He’s taught–is teaching–me. Let’s help one another by sharing.
      Blessings,
      Wendy
      Questions: Are these inconsiderate guests unsaved? Have you been praying for their salvation or sanctification? If the carpet can be cleaned, is there any real reason why they have to eat at the table with you?
      My brother and nephew are unsaved, and we have been praying for their salvation for years. When they stay with us, I/we must be “Christ” to them, love them sacrificially, and choose which hill(s) are important enough to die on (in my case, I’ve decided that is virtually none). More to come in future posts.

  3. Well, I read the post and, while I sympathize with many of this woman’s feelings, I cannot altogether agree with her inference that visitors are to blame for her feelings of chaos. God calls us to be hospitable and open up our (HIS) home to others. If there is anxiety in this, it is generally related to expectations. I agree with you that we need to place our homes (and families) into God’s hands and trust Him.

    When we have visitors, I generally do two things. 1) I work hard to be organized – plan ahead meals, clean clothes/linens, activity ideas, disposable dishes! This cuts down on disorganization and chaos a great deal. 2) Instead of changing the bulk of our daily lives to fit around our guests with either invite them to join us in our daily lives (with a few extra activities) or meet in the middle. This helps keep our kids’ lives structured (so they know what to expect and how to behave) and allows visitors the same benefit. People enjoy vacation, but some structure is ultimately desirable. Guests enjoy knowing that they will be eating at a regular meal time and that the laundry facilities are available to them at certain times of the day.

    1. Yes, I love it, and have loaned it out many, many times. My copy is dog-eared and marked up. It helped me so much in my young-married life.
      Over the years I’ve learned some tricks that help in the area of hospitality and home organization, but God always keeps me flexible and holding my expectations with an open hand, through having an Open Home and many serving opportunities with unexpected company:)
      I hope you’ll come back, because there’ll be a lot more on this subject in the next posts!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Wendy

Comments are closed.