Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Generational Hospitality

I’ve been thinking about what’s needed to show hospitality. A person in our church small group did not have us into his home, but hosted us at the church building and showed great hospitality. Others volunteered to bring additional food and showed their hospitality in that way. But nothing compares with having someone in your home. When I’ve spent time in someone’s home, I feel that I know them better and it increases how much I care about them. The same is true when I have them in my own home.

My parents demonstrated throughout their lives that hospitality is not based on possessions or surroundings. My earliest memories are when they invited people into their home when we lived in a drafty, rickety house with linoleum floors and a kerosene stove. The warmth of their hospitality overcame the physical obstacles. So when they finally built a house, it was built specifically for hosting lots of people at a time and with enough bedrooms that no homeless person or one in personal difficulty was ever turned away.

When we were first married and invited people to dinner, no one seemed to mind that they could only stand upright in the center of our attic apartment. When we moved to a shotgun half of a small house, guests never complained about the tiny kitchen or the little table we ate on being within two feet of the bathroom door. Now that our children are grown and gone, our home is large enough to accommodate a visiting missionary family with the parents and children having separate rooms. Hosting is a bit easier but the warmth is the same.

When our son and his wife married, their apartment was so small that there was no table at all! Guests ate on their laps on the sofa or sitting on the floor. Fourteen years later, that couple is still using the same sofa, but now in their guest house that shelters those in need of retreat time or temporary housing.

Our daughter and son-in-law host so many people on a regular basis that when they have a party the numbers overflow their modest home. Sometimes they overflow into our house, which is fine with us. They host various groups regularly and welcome the diversity of their friendships.

God will always bless our resources and our examples. He provides what we need so that we can provide for others. I am humbled to see through the generations that “given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13, KJV) is a family trait that God continues to encourage and bless. Blessings upon all who invite and are invited!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Numbers on the Door

I’ve always found it handy to tape significant phone numbers inside the cupboard door nearest the kitchen phone. There you may find current numbers, but also numbers of the girls on Kelsey’s 1994 softball team, of stores no longer in business, of friends or relatives long dead.

“I think all this needs to be thrown away!” Steve says when I go there to get him a list of favorite family entrees.

But I’m not discarding that cluttered mess any time soon. When I open that door, I’m briefly transported to a time when our house was busier, our schedules more hectic, our time not our own. I love the life I have now, but I loved that one, too. All those outdated phone numbers and lists remind me of the days when I was introduced as “Kelsey’s mom” or “Josh’s mom.” Those were good times, worth remembering—worth honoring for a few moments before this life picks up the pace and I’m off again.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy new year!

“Julie and Julia,” surely by many considered a “chick flick,” is the most recent favorite movie of my brother John, age 55. After seeing it in the fall, he told me he wanted to try Julia Child’s cookbook, so I determined to get it for him for Christmas. When he and his family arrived at our house on January 1 for our “Christmas” together, I gave him Mastering the Art of French Cooking. He was delighted, turning immediately to the recipe for Beef Bourguignon. Then he spotted Hollandaise Sauce, and our course was set for the coming day.

I had on hand the ingredients for Eggs Benedict, so we did that for everyone for brunch. Fabulous! The cookbook is definitely easy to follow—ingredients in the left column and in the right column the instructions for what to do with that ingredient. After an interesting foray to the nearby grocery superstore in which an unflappable butcher cut a prime rump roast into stew meat, we were able to cook Beef Bourguignon for dinner. It was marvelous! We were all pretty impressed with ourselves. It was mainly John and me, but his daughter Katie assisted and wife Liz washed up all the pots and pans—a terrific help. A hint about why it was so good, besides being labor-intensive: it had a bottle of merlot in it!

Cooking together was such fun! I discovered that even though he cooks a lot, there are kitchen basics that he doesn’t know how to do, such as separate egg yolks from the whites. It was a great blessing to work well together, and in between we played games and just talked.

They had not known until the last minute when they were going to be able to come the four hours to visit us. Then when they arrived they didn’t know how long they would stay. Due to their flexibility, I discovered that I don’t have to have a plan when someone visits. When we love each other, the time takes care of itself and may turn out even better than if I’d planned it. I'm hoping to continue my flexibility throughout 2010. Happy new year!