Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Whole Point of Home

I find myself thinking a lot about what "home" really means. Only lately have I caught a glimpse of its truest heart.

Somewhere around the time we moved into our new home things got hectic and messy and before I knew it, I was hosting parties without having my crap together. I was answering the door with no mascara and putting guests to work. It started to not matter so much if the floor was dusty or the soup burned. It was just having them here that mattered - whoever they happened to be.

It seemed like the best way to roll, or at least on some days. (I still harbor the propensity to over-fluff on occasion.)

Community and hospitality are like salt and pepper, baby. They're locked at the elbows.

Community doesn't care about the details. It's happy to lend a hand. Hospitality isn't about impressing guests. It's about opening the door into your world - where you live. It's all of you, whether it falls on one of your glitziest days or one of the yoga pants ones.

It's fully welcoming. Entirely at ease. It's shoes on the carpet or feet on the coffee table. It's babies in the bathtub and picky teenagers texting at the table.

(My dream is for a guest to ask if she can take a nap on my couch. So for real.)

Sometimes, hospitality and community collide with the fine china.

And you feel the love down in your joints.

My Sarah invited me and a few others over for a feast fit for the Dowager Countess last night. I demanded  suggested her signature Chicken Marbella and smashed potatoes. We threw in the salad, bread, and another round of Jolly Gin Fizz.

I walked through her door and the room felt like a hug.

Her home is always beautiful, always inspiring, always comforting. It's who she is.

And that is true hospitality.

I've sat at her table so many times, in so many homes. I've received the gold-star treatment more times than I can count, but I've felt just as loved when it was deli salsa and lime chips.


I want to keep getting better at hospitality. I want to pass that treasure like a dish.

I want to always have room at the table, even on left-overs night. I want my door to stay kicked open, even when the beds aren't made and all the spoons are dirty.

This, this invitation to come in, is worthy of our practice, our attention, maybe even our discomfort.

Our homes are not our own. From the walls to the rugs to the tiny soap on the dish, it has all been shared with us with the expectation that we'll share right back.

 My friend Edie swims straight into the deep end of hospitality in her new e-book, 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality.  Edie, who lost her home in a fire just two years ago, has journeyed to the far corners of Home - what it means, where we find it, how best to share it with those around us.

Purchase your copy here for just $5.

How do you feel about hospitality? Is it second nature for you? A challenge? Do you, like me, want to keep getting better at it?

(*Read more about my mad love for Edie here.)


  1. I really hope that you didn't think that my suggestion that you bring your camera was for this...but I suppose it fits! great post, always love having you!

  2. It scares me to death and I want to learn how....I have flat out refused to let people in my house....had a nice little chat on the porch in the cold. So sad.
    I believe they don't come to see my house, but it makes me so uncomfortable that they can't be comfortable....gotta learn...wanna be God's welcoming place in my neighborhood.
    So, that was probably more than you wanted to know.

  3. Love this :-) Oh and I will TOTALLY ask for a nap on your couch :-)

  4. I want to take a nap on your couch. I am not even kidding. Somebody put some sort of zombie spell on me over the weekend. Two years of Keeks has caught up with me. I almost slept through meeting Janie Fox.


    Should I bring my own lap blanket or do you provide those?

    Also, can we eat at Sarah's house after my nap?


  5. beauty filled. hospitality is my sweetest joy, i would love to be even better.
    i adore edie, need this book!

    also, i can deliver with that nap request. be over tomorrow.
    (wouldn't that be great!?)

  6. I never thought I was super hospitable but people are forever sleeping on my couch. No joke. I just figured it was a reflection of my amazing social skills, because I basically run out of things to talk about and bam! They're out.

  7. I swear this is a true story...I had a dr appt in Goshen last week and throughout the whole thing if had a terrible migraine and by the time it was over not only was I in pain but I was exhausted and I so didn't want to drive all the way back to Nappanee before I could collapse. That's when the thought popped in my head "I wish I knew Shannan better so I could go crash on her couch for a couple hours before heading home." I just laughed when I read that was your dream in your post tonight.

  8. when we lived in IN, my honey's friend used to come over and nap in our barcalounger for HOURS.
    at first i thought it was weird and then it dawned on me how cozy he must have felt. :)
    since then, i would receive an F MINUS in the hospitality department.
    God wants me to be better and i know it.
    like RIGHT NOW. not when the house is how i want it or the garage is clean.
    like right now.

  9. Very well said! Friends and family drop in all the time and sometimes all I have to offer is a glass of water. They leave smiling. My home is like a pair of well worn slippers that you love and will never throw away. People feel that. If they can feel that then I know I'm being true to myself.


  10. Amen. I like visiting my friends when their home is a real wreck and I think they feel the same way. Sharing your home is a necessary part of opening up your life and your heart. I do better with practice and habit...and yes I want to do better! I also love how your description is participatory - having guests help out!

  11. I want a nap on your couch!!!! : ). We always gave little people out the wazoo up in our place. I need to be better about inviting grownups. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. OK, I just want to say thank you for opening my eyes to a whole new view of what my home is/ought to be. I've always felt kind of protective of the "private" space that is my house --and what people see of it -- but you've made me want to fling my doors wide and invite the world in. Timely post, since one of our plans for the new year was to invite people over for dinner (besides family) at least once a month and tonight was our first dinner "party." I did too much and exhausted myself. It was still a wonderful time spent together, but I think I'll try to remember from now on that all it takes is to invite people into whatever we've already got going on over here. Thank you for showing me that opening my home is another way of opening my heart!

  13. I love hospitality and I always want to have our door open. I have gathered a nice bag of excuses however, busyness, location, time and even the big one......perfectionism. I believe that God has blessed us with our home and the environment it provides to guests and its our pleasure to give that back through hospitality. I'm praying for more opportunity to fill my table with friends more often <3

  14. I am working on hospitality this year, too - and hoping to get better at it, so that it is just my second nature. We just started a supper club with 3 other (randomly picked! Surprise!) families. Our first get together is February, and I am scared. to. death.

    I think (and hope & pray) it is worth it. xo

  15. Love this post! I definitely share your propensity to 'overfluff', but I too am beginning to learn what true hospitality looks like- and that it definitely does NOT need to involve me stressing, biting my fingernails over my stupid oven that burns everything, and being snappy towards my mister.
    Btw, my hubby is working in Indiana this week.... So if I drive down to see him, I may need to stop for a nap somewhere... ;)

  16. Yes, I want to get better at it, especially the non-fluffing part. The less stress part so that it happens more frequently. Would love to hear more about what Chicken Marbella is??

  17. Right on! I am always trying to be better at this. One of my biggest fears is inviting people over and them being too busy to come. I know that sounds crazy :) But this year, one of my goals is to be a better friend and that means spending time with people, so I've been inviting like crazy. And, thankfully, most of them end up coming, so I'm off to a good start.

  18. Yes and amen. I'm always apologizing for my house when people come over, "oops, sorry you just tripped over a lego fort and a flying saucer almost poked your eye out". I need to stress less. There are seven people in this tiny space. Grace, grace. I really wanna get over it and just invite people in even on the avalanche of laundry days. You inspire me!

  19. I like this so.

    Sarah's house! It's perfection.

    Dear Anonymous. What the heck is up with you?

    1. I am spam central! ALL the time! The filter is usually good at catching them, but lately? Not so much.

  20. I want to improve at hospitality. I think I mostly need to just start inviting people and keep inviting people. I want people to just show up. I wanna nap on your couch.

  21. an area in which i could use a complete makeover!!
    you make it sound so wonderful and simple and doable.
    i love that about you

  22. We're homebodies...and our home is very special to us. What's most important to me is not the decorating or the shiny floor. It's for people to be super comfortable and at ease. And shoot, reading your post and the comments makes me wish I had more people like you in my life. Instead, I have family members -- and even some friends -- that like to point out what's wrong - clock is set for the wrong time, mystery cat puke in the corner, crooked picture on the wall. Definitely not easy for a perfectionist who is working on her hospitality skills... :(

  23. You took the words right out of my mouth....and yes, I want to get better at hospitality too! I struggle with thinking that my home has to always be clean and ready for guests, but that's not reality. Reality is people need a haven to catch a break from this crazy world we live in...heck, my family does too. And they don't care about perfection...they just need unconditional love, listening ears, and a receiving heart.

    By the way, I read your blog all the time and love it. I just struggle finding the time to initiate conversation and establish relationships in the blog world. But I'm thinking I should make that a priority cause I seem to have alot more in common with my fellow bloggers than many of the people around me :)

  24. I love having people over and I think my husband is less so, but we had friends over for dinner last night and it was perfect. She brought mash, I made the rest, it was lovely and friendly and just plain old nice.

    Besides, I can clean really really well when I have 20 minutes before they are coming - not cause they'll judge me (if they do I don't care), but its a perfect excuse to clean since I never do otherwise ;) That alone would be reason enough for my hubby to keep having folks over!

  25. Hospitality Freaks. Me. Out! My mom was the adult child of an alcoholic and a hoarder. I could never have anyone over. When I got older, my mother-in-law is a perfectionist and very vocal about how to do things and when things are wrong...So I'm a mess! I'm not a hoarder, but I'm not perfect. I'm socially handicapped and am terrible and miserable at small talk...but God has challenged me to open up and love people...and I, I don't...but I want to! So I'm trying. I've had many people from church over and every time I feel literally sick to my stomach during preparation, but always end up having a good time. So yes, I'm working at it. :o/

    1. Susan,
      Good for you for stepping out. I just want to encourage you to just be secure in who God has made you to be. You aren't your mom or your mother-in-law. You just have to be you! I would love to make a few suggestions if I may... consider asking a friend to co-host with you in your home. This will take some of the pressure off of you and it will give you some help in navigating through the process. Also, I heard a woman say once that she took three recipes and got comfortable making them and so these were her "go-to" things to make for company. Blessings! Reader in WA

  26. Letting people into our homes lets them into our hearts and that is what can get scary. We have been good with it at times and very bad at other times. Definitely needing a more open door lately...

  27. Loved this post! We are all about having people into our home, our lives. It's definitely not about how your house looks. Or being totally prepared. One friend commented that she likes that we're still cooking when they arrive. Really, it's that we're not super organized! :) And, we keep it simple. Have you read Henri Nouwen's book, "Reaching Out." I love how he says that hospitality is really just making space for someone to enter in and become a friend. Thanks for letting us enter in to your life through this blog!

  28. Just purchased her book- can't wait to read it!! And one time a friend of ours really did fall asleep on our couch, as in not just accidentally!! You can come over any time and take a nap there too. I'll wake you when the scones are done.

  29. Great post! Sarah's home looks comfy, inviting, & oh so vintagey! The little stone kid doesn't look so happy in his time out spot, however & questioning your hospitality thought while sitting there! ;)

  30. Just makes me want to suggest "A Meal With Jesus" again! I appreciate your heart and we must not underestimate the ministry that happens around the table, when we break bread together and take naps on eachothers' couches! Lately I've been wanting to know more about how Jesus "reclined" at the table. Literally? Like, was he just comfortable and just hanging out with everyone? He was all about being with people and breaking bread. Let's be like Him! I guess we better wash one another's feet, too. And remember, you never know when you'll entertain an angel! :)
    Reader in WA

  31. Yes, yes, yes. At first I was reading this in my reader and the pictures didn't show up and I was for real mad at you for not posting pictures of Sarah's house. Then I clicked on over to tell you about it and lo and behold I find the pictures but now I'm mad at Sarah because she didn't invite me? How could she do that to me? So lovely! Her home and the sentiment. Makes me want to invite some folks over. Quick.

  32. Very well said, and I couldn't agree more. This is how my parents are now and were when I was growing up. I was one of five kids, and there was always more room at the dinner table for our friends if they wanted to join. And they always wanted to join.

    I have several extra "brothers" on account of this - guys that just started showing up to our house when I was little who never really went away and eventually started referring to my parents as "mom and dad" - like they were their own. The food wasnt gourmet and there wasn't much space anywhere in the house (the kitchen table usually overflowed into the living room), but mom and dad are always happy to have a few more.

    It turns out this is how my dad grew up. His parents were always hospitable like this. My dad played drums for a bunch of bands in the 60s. His fellow musicians inevitably bunked in his folks basement for a few days between shows, like it was some sort of hostel. Everyone was always welcome, got a place to sleep and meals to eat.

  33. What a gorgeous home! Now that looks like a good time. Do you ever feel some Sundays like the preacher's talking right to you?! Well, preach it to me, sister! Our home was party central growing up, but I have really dropped the ball in that area here in mine. BUT I invited a friend over today. Without vacuuming. Thanks, FPFG.

  34. Sarah has really done a beautiful job!! I need to have a tour of her home on my next visit. Love you Sarah!!

  35. I like hospitality. I do. I just don't like the people we end up inviting over. LOL.

    We are kinda burnt out on it. We've had everything from no-shows, people who have allergies to seemingly everything edible (for which we have to perform culinary acrobatics), to those who sit and stare whilst saying nothing at all. We've had kid guests who whine because we served green beans and they hate green things ~ so we give them pbjs and they whine because they like grape jelly and we only have strawberry. We've had guests who ask us to make them an authentic dinner from our heritage and then freak out because it's lamb and they don't eat little, cute lambs. We've had adult guests who don't like cake and would have rather had ice cream instead, and tell us so. OH and they don't like their meat roasted, but like it fried. We've had those who stayed for two meals ~ lunch and dinner, and talked their way to past midnight until we're crosseyed and our fridge is licked clean. We've had those who played a game we suggested only to get angry at losing and toss their glass on the floor in fury. My husband has made a decision to take a break for a time.

    Yes, we love hospitality. But we've got horrible discernment when choosing whom to be hospitable to! I think a book should be written on how to be a good guest when someone is trying to be hospitable :o) Maybe 31 Days to being a Gracious Guest!?


  36. I love having people in my home! This past year has been a struggle in that area. Long story short, we moved a year ago and almost immediately my husband got a job at our church, which is 35 minutes away. All of our connections are people who live in that area, so it has been nearly impossible to have people over. They aren't too crazy about driving this far. Fortunately, we have been blessed and are moving close to the church in March. I can hardly wait to open up our home!

  37. My BFF mother used to have a needlepoint that read, "Come in, sit down, relax, converse, my house doesn't always look like this, sometimes it's even worse." Her house was always spotless, but very welcoming, and had more drop-in company than you can believe! I had a sign at the door "Come in if you are coming to see me, if you are coming to see the house, make an appointment." I just love your house. It has that same feeling. It's not the house, it's the people inside that make people want to visit."

  38. I just came across your blog, and I love it. I love having people in my home. My husband and I don't have a very big house, but I'm seeing it in a whole new light recently. It doesn't matter how big or how lavishly it's decorated, it's about the people who fill our home and our lives.

  39. Amazing Tips and decoration for making home so beautiful

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