Monday, May 19, 2008

Hospitality by Moms of Young Children?

We host larger groups in our home regularly now (see the picture of piled up shoes in our entryway as proof!), and have for almost a year. But it wasn't always this way. Something I've realized (being a mom with young children) is that this is a wonderful way for moms of young children to be involved in life as part of the body of Christ.

Even though you are intricately tied to the home, you can serve, interact with, influence, and befriend all kinds of people by having a hospitable home. When people know you are happy to host guests, make desserts, or have a get-together in your home, you can become their “go-to” person whenever the need arises. When a guest preacher comes to your church, the pastor may think of you as a family who can provide him with lunch. If the women's Bible study needs someone’s home to host a party, you will become known as someone who enjoys opening up her home.

That may sound scary to you... it would have to me a few years ago. But the fact is that by opening up your home, you can get to know people better in a place that allows you to be the mom of your children. If your kids need a nap, you just excuse yourself, put them down for a nap, and rejoin the conversation moments later. Bedtime can happen and then the get-together can go on. Even during this time of "working at home”, when you aren’t regularly venturing out into the world, you can essentially bring the world to you.

I'd encourage you to begin this week and learn a new dessert recipe, or put together 2-3 possible menus. Think of menus that would taste good, but also be realistic possibilities for you to prepare on an average day in your current stage of life. Think about things that can be made ahead of time and frozen, things that can cook all day in the crock pot but be excellent over rice or pasta. Consider the possibilities, and then craft a few possible menus.

Then, jump in. Invite another family over. Or an older couple. Or a hungry college student. At first, you will probably feel inadequate. You may find that you need to learn how to get several meal items all ready at the same time. Or it may be that you need to do a better job estimating accurate serving portions for groups.

Whatever you learn about your hostess skills, if you find something(s) lacking, focus on one thing that most needs improvement… and then do that one thing better the next time. The more you have people in your home, the more natural it will become. And by focusing on your one area for improvement each time, it will also become easier each time you do it.

In general, you can relax about the daily mess of life. Your home doesn’t need to look as pristine as the White House for guests to enjoy a visit in your home. Make things presentable and tidy, and then dive in. Do take the time to tidy up the room or rooms that you’ll be spending your time in, but don’t worry about it if you have a full hamper or haven’t mopped. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and in fact, the fact that you live in a “real” house will probably be an encouragement to the people you’re hosting.

As far as meals go, it can range from the simple and inexpensive (a baked potato buffet-style meal) to the basic and every-day (simple pasta, simple sauce, and baked/grilled chicken) to as creative and special as you want to make it. It’s really up to you. But simple meals like waffles with syrup or a grilled chicken salad can be every bit as good as the extravagantly-made meals that a chef could dream up. The point is NOT to become some world-class chef (although by having groups over, your cooking skills WILL greatly improve)… the point is to use your home to serve others.

And what a wonderful way to begin really getting to know your brothers and sisters in Christ! Invite the widows, college students or the single mom and her kids in your church over to your home.

Young moms, hospitality is an excellent way that we can extend our reach during this “home-bound” season of our lives and impact even those outside of our homes for God’s glory. We will find loads of ministry opportunities if we will graciously hold out our homes as a tool for God’s use.

Click here to read more articles about hospitality.


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