Ordinary Offering of Hospitality

My husband and I have always had an open home policy. We desire our home to be a place of welcoming.  A safe haven where spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical needs may be met. Our first home was a two bedroom, one and a half bath apartment. Our visitors were mainly friends from college, family, and college students. There wasn’t that much space to maintain— and I was less stressed about how it looked. I didn’t worry about the space I had to offer. I didn’t worry about the state of the apartment— I just loved having it full. 

On snow days there would be wet shoes piled by the door, coats slung across the kitchen chairs, and soup on the stove. Sometimes we hosted Student ministry leadership meetings, women’s Bible study, discipleship meetings, or game nights. Other times, we had live in guests who loved our pug and helped take out the trash or wash dishes. 

Honestly looking back, it was a mess. Things were cluttered and disheveled. There were stains on the floor from potty training our puppy. We always relocated items from the table to the counter or vice versa to make room for meals or for friends to perch and chat while I cooked. Yet — He provided so faithfully. In loaves and fishes moments, we never ran out of food to feed the flock that filtered in and out. He was faithful to provide physically, but also gave us spiritual nourishment to provide for other needs as well. 

Then right before the pandemic hit, we moved into a split foyer home just around the corner in the same area. We had anticipation about all the ways our home would welcome neighbors, friends, family, and college students. We moved in at the end of February, and the world shut down at the middle of March. I became more secluded and anxious about our home. Anytime my husband invited people over or someone planned to drop by, I would frantically run around our home trying to check all the boxes of tasks that HAD to be completed before they arrived. 

I would like to blame this on the pandemic— too much time being secluded and out of practice hosting. Too much time staring at my own walls and floors and counters. Less activities to spend time and money on, and more opportunity to order cleaning supplies and home decor. More time to immerse myself in Instagram, Pinterest, and books about home decor. The list goes on — yet, if we’re being honest- those were only a symptom of the real problem. 

PRIDE.  I took the fruit the Lord had faithfully provided from my previous home, and began to think my efforts were contributors to the harvest. I put too much worth in the cozy blankets, the stocked pantry and fridge with all the guests’ favorites, the perfectly in place home with extra toothbrushes and clean towels. I valued the details more than I valued the people in my home. Instead of preparing to love the people coming with patience, a listening ear, and sound wisdom— I depleted all of my energy preparing the bedding, cleaning the counters and the floors, and planning the menu. Rather than being attentive and kind, I was distracted and short as I picked up behind or noticed all the ways the house was a mess. 

Then, I began reading books like The Gospel Comes with a House Key, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, andThe Lazy Genius Way. I saw examples in Scripture of  people hosting Jesus and the way Jesus taught His disciples to hold space for others. The Lord uprooted my pride and began sowing truths of His plan for hospitality and loving people. He urged me to surrender the perfect, and to be intentional about the right things. 

I’ve learned there is nothing wrong with a clean, cozy home— but it has everything to do with my motivation. The Lord began to prompt me with these questions: 

Am I spending my time preparing things that will tangibly love and care for my guests? Or am I trying to build my house up on a hill of pretty, put together things? 

Does preparing this leave me with energy to actually be with my guests? 

Would this cause someone else to feel shamed or like they are failing? 

Do my guests feel at home here? Or are they afraid of messing up or dirtying up my things? 

Does this hold purpose? Does it inspire? Encourage? Practically serve? (I’ve learned to use this as a filter for items I bring in or put out) 

As I processed through these questions, I began to see things I could let go and things I needed to be intentional about. One specific, practical takeaway was scheduling my week to do a different cleaning/tidying activity each day. This helped cut down on the amount of work and time it takes to prepare our home for friends. It also helped me to split the work into more manageable chunks. I created the schedule to fit the needs for each day of the week. Here is my schedule below:

Monday— Dust, Clean Windows & Mirrors

Tuesday — Clean bathrooms

Wednesday — Vacuum

Thursday — Clean Out Refrigerator & Empty Trash 

Friday — Sweep & Mop 

Saturday – wash bedding 

Sunday — rest 

Every day – wipe down kitchen counters, pick up main areas 

Dishes— run as needed 

Every M, W, F — laundry 

This causes me to spend maybe an hour at most on each day’s task. I used to do this when I got home from work, and now I do it during my daughter’s nap. Sometimes I wake up and do not feel like cleaning that day (or have other plans), so I just tack that day on with another day that is light. For instance, I’ll run the Roomba while cleaning the bathrooms. Or— sometimes I just skip something for the week depending on the state of that area. I have learned if I build in rhythms of caring for my home and preparing it for others, it feels more natural and less like a chore that makes or breaks the ability for our home to be open. 

Now that I’ve built intentional rhythms and let go of perfectionism in the state of my home— 

1. I feel more at rest in my home, and less frantic to do things around the house. 

2. I am more likely to welcome others in. 

3. I let go of pride in “presenting” my house and open my hands to receive what gifts my house has to offer me. 

4. I value the details of my home less, and value the people who are in it more. 

He is growing me in humility and in authenticity with our people. Sometimes, someone needs to visit when there are toys scattered all over, the meal is mediocre, and my laundry is piled high greeting the guest as soon as they walk in. Sometimes, someone might just need to sit at a cluttered island and unload about their day. Alternatively, there are times someone might need a clean, warm bed with their favorite snack tucked in the pantry. Or someone might need an extra toothbrush and a quiet couch with a cozy blanket. Most importantly— each person who steps through my door (including myself and my family) needs Jesus. My greatest aim and calling is that—no matter the state of my house, my heart should humbly offer it for His service.

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