Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Learning to Host with a Cheerful Heart

Place Setting
{Image credit}
Today I'm happy to have Sarah from Loved Like The Church here, sharing about hospitality! I'll be able to meet Sarah "in real life" at Blissdom this coming January, which is super exciting. :)

Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 
1 Peter 4:9

My husband, Jonathan, and I have a strong desire to have our home open to our friends, family and even strangers. We love to entertain through hosting BBQs, having guests for dinner or even inviting people to live with us. One of our goals as a family is to be seen as an open door - a place of joy and comfort, a refuge from the world. We want to use our home as a beacon of light, a place to share the Gospel and show Christ's love.

Hospitality comes naturally to Jonathan. He grew up with a large extended family where hosting parties and events was very much part of life. I, too, grew up with a large immediate and extended family. However, we did not live close to our relatives and hosting was not normal. Once we were married, opening up our home wasn't something I was particularly comfortable with because it felt so abnormal. I struggled through several parties and never felt very easy when we had guests. I constantly stressed out leading up to the event, and when guests would "drop by" I very nearly fainted. I felt like everything needed to be planned perfectly and the house spotless. By our third or fourth hosting event, Jonathan asked me why I wasn't having fun. I named a laundry list of reasons, all having to do with the party and not the people. The table wasn't set just right, the food ran late, the drinks didn't taste how I wanted. You name it, I failed at it. Jonathan pointed out that I was acting a lot more like Martha than Mary, focusing more on the stuff than the people.

Slowly I started working through what hosting really means. I started to evaluate what made me enjoy being at other people's homes {was it that the food was on time or was it that the conversation was good?}. I started to realize that opening my home doesn't mean opening up a magazine perfect house, it means opening up my life, it means loving on others. Now while I will still make sure my house is presentable if I know someone is coming over, I stop worrying if everything isn't perfect and focus my attention on the what matters: the people. As my focus has changed, my attitude has changed. I am cheerful when people come over, and look for ways to focus on them, the life of the party, and not the stuff of the party.

From Alicia: Readers, what struggles do you face when it comes to hosting people in your home?

Sarah is a wife, mother and follower of Christ. She is married web genius and funny man Jonathan, and stays at home with her daughters, Julia {2 yo} and Hannah {16 mo}. When not chasing after her two hyperactive girls, she loves to cook, run, and watch movies in her "spare" time. You can follow her adventures at Loved Like The Church.   

Linked to WFMW and Homemaking Link-Up.


  1. This is so true, and something I need to work on myself. I have a desire to host people in our home, but along with the 'need' for things to be 'perfect' I also am not a small talk kind of person. I love deep conversations, stretching conversations, etc.

    So I'm working on having a comfortable home, not a perfect one, and learning to find the pleasure in the small talk as well as the 'deep' talk.

    Thanks for this post!


  2. This is great!! We love having people over.

  3. I definitely struggle. I love having people over--we did even have someone live with us for a month a few years ago--and I believe hospitality is biblical. But I am not a decorator, I have a toddler, our house is really old, etc. I determine in my mind to not let excuses get in the way and instead facilitate great conversations and fellowship! I hosted a brunch for 8 yesterday at 34 weeks pregnant ... and didn't even vacuum my area rug first.

  4. Peggy- I hear ya on the small talk. I can struggle with the "weather is nice" talk and want to jumbo right in to deeper conversations. I'm having to learn how to ask questions that will lead to deeper things without feeling too deep too soon!

    Jessie - Wow lady you are impressive! Hosting a brunch 34 weeks pregnant is awesome. And the fact that you didn't vacuum really makes me smile. That's something that I ALWAYS fuss about and have to realize 1) no one will notice 2) I will just need to vacuum again after the party. I have to tell myself "Sarah, step away from the vacuum".

    Joyce - Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Very true! I know a few people in my life who stress over the house being tidy enough for gatherings. Our yard is not very nice, in fact it's dirt, no grass, and that bothers me to have friends over. You're so right, people care only about encouraging each other and the fellowship that ensues. Great post!

  6. I would never want to host a party without you Sarah. You cover all the areas that I miss like timing, pets, and you truly consider others in their time of need. I agree that hospitality is biblical and like many things doesn't just come naturally. We are a work in progress but we are also His workmanship. And God is glorified, even when we get to have our friends over to play. :)

  7. Candi - I can understand being bothered by the yard. I want to present the best for my friends but have to remember that what I think is the best and what others think is best is different. They don't care about the yard, but just being with you. :)

    Jonathan - Thank you! I couldn't host without you. ;)

  8. Great post - this is encouraging!

  9. I struggle with wanting everything to be perfect too. I want everyone to like my house most and I always think this has to do with our decorations, food, drinks etc. Two things: hosting is not a competition, and I think it's more than food and decoration that make a good hostess. Sure those things are great and people love that but attitude makes such a difference too. When we started hosing our church community group in Austin I got so nervous (and these were our closest friends) and the previous host reminded me people just like to be fed and enjoyed. I now tell myself that every time people are coming over, and think that really makes a home feel more open and loving. Again though, not to say food and decorations aren't great, just not where I shine.

  10. It is my dream to have an open home, where people are comfortable to stop by and linger and enjoy fellowship, and ideally something good to eat and drink.

    In reality, though, I struggle to make my home presentable - like, not chaotic, and sanitary. I have a toddler, and 3 pets. It is not in my nature to clean.

    But I've come to the conclusion that true friends won't mind if my house is imperfect; if they do, then they're not really my friends!

  11. Katie - Having a good attitude and open heart make all the difference. You could serve pretzels and people will have a great time if you are really focusing on them.

    Cindy - I hear ya on not having things be super chaotic! You should see my house right now. Errr... scratch that, you shouldn't. ;) But, I'm growing to be okay with having friends over and things not being perfect.

  12. I so needed this post! We are having the boys 3rd birthday party this weekend, and I keep stressing over the details, instead of the people. I know my boys will have a blast, no matter what and that's all that really matters, I won't be any fun if I am stressed and running around.

  13. We live in a small house, so with 9 of our 10 children still at home, it is a bit crowded with just us. We LOVE to entertain and did so primarily in the summer when we could have families over in our woods for a cookout. We also host at least 2 larger gathers each summer (around 100 people). We would invite over small families in the winter, till last winter when there was a family with 13 children that really wanted to come to our house to go sledding. It was CROWDED at dinner, but oh what fun we had and what memories we made!


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