This month my focus on lè blog, is to help you start 2016 off with intentionality and grace. So today, I asked my sweet friend Kitty, to share a little something with you lovelies. Kitty has a real knack for showing hospitality. She isn’t flashy or over the top. She is genuine, thoughtful and able to pull off awesomeness on a tight budget! Kitty and her husband are no strangers to having people in their home, so she seemed like the perfect fit for a post about hospitality. Plus, I love her sass, wit and way with words. So…check out some of her tips for doing hospitality well this year!
I remember starting my first big girl job in a city where I knew absolutely no one. At first it was thrilling to spread my wings, but by the middle of the second week, I realized I had no friends. Well, except for the roommate I had met on Craigslist. (Let that sink in for a second. I FOUND MY ROOMMATE ON CRAIGSLIST. But, this back was when the internet was a little less scary, and she ended up being more of the bridesmaid type than serial killer type, so it worked out.)
So, I was new to town and knew no one but my roommate, who had only lived there a few months. One evening, I shared with her my feelings of loneliness and we decided that rather than rent (another) full season of Desperate Housewives from Blockbuster–because thats what we did back then–we needed to do something about it.
Valentine’s Day was approaching (and what better time to prey on other lonely strangers) so we thought it would be really fun to host a Valentine’s brunch inviting all the girls we knew to come, eat and hang out. Except for we didn’t know any girls. So, we girded our young professional loins and headed to our favorite Zumba class at the local YMCA. We samba-ed and merengue-d and then semi-awkwardly invited every chick in the entire class to come to our party that weekend. We canvased both our work places, inviting co-workers and picked up the phone and called–because that’s what we did back then–a few random girls we’d met at our church’s single’s group. We put together the menu, a playlist and crossed our fingers somebody would show up.
Much to our surprise over 15 girls came. All of whom, by the end of our time together, admitted struggling with loneliness, worth and identity. We were amazed to see them exchanging phone numbers, becoming friends and even roommates and eventually even bridesmaids in each other’s weddings!!
What came from that feeble attempt at hospitality ended up bringing lifeline and lifelong friendships. My good ole Craigslist roomie and I were so thankful we had stepped out of our own feelings of isolation and invited others along in our search of community.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself, a newly wed bride experiencing the same feelings. This time in a new town with another new job. A few years later, as new parents my husband and I were in the same place of needing friends. And I’m sure you can relate in your various seasons of life. It seems these same feelings are exposed in our hearts every time we experience transition.
Regardless of your season or stage, here are 3 ways to cultivate a hospitable heart with the hopes of creating lifelong community:
A hospitable heart is secure in Christ and can put others before themselves in word, deed, thought and action.
In conversation we have to learn to practice “there you are” vs. “here I am” conversation habits. We have to be diligent to train ourselves to ask questions about others, learn more about what makes people tick and figure out what their needs are. If we can see people as greater than ourselves then we can move into their world from a place of love, not trying to “get” something from them. Then we can truly practice hospitality.
*Today, when you see that co-worker who seems stressed, that parent in the carpool line or the neighbor getting their mail, do a little investigating. Perhaps try, “Hey, tell me how you’ve felt about 2016 so far.” See how they’ve felt and see if there are ways you can dig deeper into their lives to offer hospitality. Follow up with an email, phone call or text inviting them to get together for coffee or to an activity going on in your town.
A hospitable heart is secure in Christ as can invite others into their mental, physical and emotional space.
It’s a sacrifice to open your time to call someone for the sheer benefit of blessing them and not yourself. It can be humbling to open your messy house to the friend who’s husband is working late and is about to lose it with her kids. And it can throw a kink in your schedule to offer to serve someone when you’re day is already scheduled out to the minute. But when we leave margin for invitations, our souls will be deeply blessed!
*Today, maybe it looks like texting that stay-at-home mom and asking her if there’s anything she needs from Walmart. Maybe it’s asking the person sitting alone in front of you at church if they want to go to brunch with you and some friends after the service. Or, perhaps it’s inviting a bunch of randoms in your life to a soup and salad night at your house. Invite, invite, invite. Perhaps mark one night on the calendar each month that is your “night to invite”. Order pizza, buy a few of those caesar salad mix kits, light a few candles and have one meaningful question on hand to discuss.
A hospitable heart doesn’t seek to entertain and impress, but to involve people in experiencing the goodness of God from the context of their own life.
How can you involve people in what you’re already interested in and in what you’re already having to do? IT DOESN’T HAVE TO INVOLVE FANCY CHINA PATTERNS.
Are you eating today? Invite someone to join you.
Are you branching out and inviting someone to come over for supper? Ask them to bring dessert.
Do you have little people in the home? Train them in the art of hospitality.
We are trying to train our children in the practices of hospitality. We ask them to think through good questions they can ask people who come into our home. We ask them to set the table and help us make the house a little extra cozy. We encourage them to be hospitable with their own friends, inviting them to our house to play. But it takes some intentionality to involve our children. How can you involve others in your daily life and in helping you practice hospitality?
*Today, try to team up with a friend to run errands or to visit a friend who is struggling. Maybe this weekend, host a coffee and parfait bar on Saturday morning and ask two other friends to each invite a friend. Or download the app GroupMe and ask a few people you’ve been wanting to get to know if they want to help start a monthly book club.
Investigate, invite and involve from a heart filled with God’s love. All day, every day.
Practicing hospitality is one of the most rewarding pleasures on earth. We were created for community and to live life together.
How can you practice hospitality today?
Kitty Hurdle practices hospitality, writes and serves as a campus missionary in Oxford, Mississippi. She blogs at www.joelandkitty.com and would love to offer you a list of 100 Conversation Starters for you to use as you practice hospitality in your daily life.
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