Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hospitality

(Our greeting at Liz & Ian's in Salt Lake City)

They call it "Southern Hospitality," but as a self-declared expert on the U-S-A after my road trip, I am here to declare that hospitality exists ALL over this great country! :) 

Along our travels, Jeff & I saw such beautiful examples of people opening their homes to care for us, that I simply couldn't resist sharing some of them with you all.  It's nice to know that even in our facebook-obsessed/ don't-leave-your-doors-unlocked/ trust-no-one society, old fashioned hospitality still exists! 

Here's some proof:

On the very first night of our trip, my Aunt Mary Kay and Uncle John hosted us in Chicago.  They gathered the whole family for a big dinner, then showed us to our room with chocolates and an anniversary card on the pillows.

Sarah and Andrew, in Seattle, have only been married three months.  For the last two weeks, Sarah's mom has been staying in the guest room to be close by for the birth of their newest niece.  SHE moved out for two nights so that'd we'd have a place to stay... Then, Sarah & Andrew made us feel right at home with a guided tour of their city, a spot to do laundry, fresh coffee and "to-go" cups, and a home-cooked meal.  :)  We left on Thursday morning, and Sarah's mom (this time, with her dad too) would be returning that evening for the long weekend.  Whew.

In Portland, Laura simply turned over the keys to her INCREDIBLE downtown apartment.  Since it had only one bedroom, she found a sitter for her new puppy and spent the night herself a friend's down the street so that we would be totally comfortable.  We made ourselves at home and fell asleep with the entire city skyline just outside our window.  An awesome way to experience Portland!

Upon our late arrival in Salt Lake City on Friday, Liz & Ian had waited up for us (despite being the tired parents on an 18 month old) and had a home-cooked meal waiting.  In the morning, they cleared the way for us to do LOADS of laundry and cleared their whole schedule to hang out with us!  Ian even shared his Father's Day gift of gummy bears - a personal fave of mine!

Lea and Jon, in Littleton, also had dinner waiting when we arrived.  Lea even learned how to use the grill just for us!  They made us feel right at home and - I have to confess - Jon entertained Jeff with board games so that Lea and I could have our much coveted "girl time."  The truly incredible thing about them was that in addition to having a friend LIVE in their guest room all summer, they are also alternating weeks of having a family of SIX stay in their three bedroom house.  We came on one of their rare "off-nights," and Lea and Jon didn't even flinch!

Finally, in Kansas City, Judy and Tom welcomed us into their home with warm hugs and a HUGE dinner.  We had never even met before --- they are the parents of a good friend of ours at home -- but, wow!  There is something about parents that just knows how to love young people!  After our bellies were perfectly stuffed, Tom prayed for our safe travels in the morning and Judy stayed up late making pasta-salad, chicken salad, and muffins to pack an ENTIRE COOLER for our preceding 18 hour day.  Then, at 5:30AM, as we headed out the door, they met us with hot coffee and an overflow of food --- we literally could have eaten the entire trip home and STILL not finished it all.  :)

And, after all this, all I had to thank them with was this measley jar of Apple Butter - a little taste of Roanoke! Haha!

Either way, we were BLESSED by these friends and their hospitality!  Jeff and I talked often about how we want to be a couple known for welcoming people into our house and making them feel at home!

... SO often, when I think about having people over, I worry about all the details like having a super-clean house, a fancy meal, a million things planned to keep them busy, etc. etc. etc.  BUT, we were reminded once again on this trip, that the essence of hospitality is simply LOVING people and inviting them into your REAL life. (Don't get me wrong, all of these houses were BEAUTIFUL and meals were FANTASTIC, but it was clear that wasn't what our time together was about!)

I know this post is long, but I want to end with this quote from one of my favorite books - Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains.  She PERFECTLY describes the kind of hospitality I hope to grasp one day soon as I learn about loving people and using my home to bless others!

“We think in terms of entertaining as a woman's chance to demonstrate her skill and the quality of her home, when actually entertaining has little to do with real hospitality. Entertaining says, "I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking." Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, "This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am His servant, and I use it as He desires." Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.

Entertaining always puts things before people. "As soon as I get the house finished, the living room decorated, my place settings complete, my housework done - then I will start having people in." Hospitality, however, puts people before things. "We have no furniture; we'll eat on the floor." "The decorating may never get done. Please come just the same."

Because we are afraid to allow people to see us as we really are, we welcome the false ideal of entertaining. To perpetuate the illusion we must pretend we love housework, we never put our hair in rollers, our children are so well disciplined that they always pick up their toys. We must hint broadly that we manage our busy lives without difficulty. Working hard to keep people from recognizing our weak points, we also prevent them from loving us in our weakness.

Entertaining subtly declares, "This is mine -- these rooms, these adornments. These are an expression of my personality. It is an extension of who and what I am. Look, please and admire." Hospitality whispers, "What is mine is yours."

7 comments:

  1. Great post, what sweet people you enjoyed your trip with!!

    I especially love the quote at the end, I guess I never really thought about the difference between entertaining and hospitality - so true though!

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  2. Wow, that quote was really convicting! As a new wife, I feel like I have to establish the proper identity by making my home perfect. What a difference there is between that and true hospitality!

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  3. LOVE that passage! I am so guilty of everything she points out...

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  4. wish I had known you were in Kansas City, we could have hooked up! Glad you had so many doors opened for you!

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  5. We are in STL. You could have stopped to say hello.

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  6. Thank you for your precious comment about your stop in Saint Joseph! You are an absolute delight! The pleasure of meeting you was totally mine! I am loving knowing you more through your charming blog!

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  7. thanks for reading this quote at "bible study" :) it was so much fun having you and jeff in our home. you are some of our favorite people. and THANKS for the apple butter, which is one of jons favorite foods! love love love you guys!
    lea

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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