I remember reading books stacked high about how to make a house a home and how God's people always extend hospitality, bringing the lonely into families, making them welcome and loved.
I've had some good examples.
My grandfather was a feeder. It is widely acknowledged that no one could enter his home and leave hungry. No matter what time someone dropped by, he offered them something to eat, to drink, and simple words of welcome. He carried little sweets in his shirt pockets and always had something to give to a neighborhood child. He always sent my mother home with goodies for all us kids.
And yet, for so much of my early married life, I felt pressure by magazines and books as to what hospitality really was. I wanted a beautiful home to entertain guests, gourmet meals and desserts and just the right garnish. And really, it never brought me a whole lot other than stress.
Years later, I read a simple statement Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies made, where she described how at some points in her marriage, her and her husband were quite poor, but they always invited people to their home. Once, she said she had little to offer other than meals made with potatoes. And yet, so many of the people whose lives she poured into with relationship, with love and nurture and friendship, were touched and positively changed. It wasn't about the potatoes.
Last night, Trever invited some people over last minute. I had about an hour to prepare for their visit. I would be lying if I didn't tell you I most certainly told our children they needed to pick up their things and wipe down the bathroom. But I also picked up a ready made apple pie with ice cream and called it good.
I did not panic that I did not have time to make everything perfect.
I invited them into my home and spent a couple hours just visiting with them. Their children played with mine in the backyard and got dirty and giggled and we smiled at them when they came back in and gave them second helpings of vanilla ice cream and we just shared life.
And after they left I didn't fret about the dishes (we used paper plates) and I didn't wonder how impressed they were with my cooking.
I want to open my home to others, as God would want me to. But I want to be much more involved with hospitality than entertaining. All the rest is wood, hay and stubble.