This week we see that the Proverbs 31 woman is kind….she opens her arms to the poor and hands to the needy…..I believe this woman knows the value of practicing hospitality and does it regularly! She opens her arms as she opens the door to her home, welcoming in her guest and loving on them the moment they arrive!
Today I have a very special guest on Good Morning Girls- Karen Ehman! Karen is the Director of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family. You can find her blogging at http://karenehman.com.
Karen has written a book called A Life That Says Welcome….a wonderful book filled with tips and ideas on how to practice hospitality and today I’m offering it as a giveaway on GMG!
The thought of hosting a dinner party or even having a friend over for coffee is enough to give some women flashbacks of lopsided cakes or doomed casseroles from home economics class. But opening up your home to others doesn’t have to be fancy or frightening or cost a fortune, says Karen Ehman.
In A Life That Says Welcome, she offers a practical, painless (no crafting or cooking aptitude required) course on hospitality. It helps busy women open up their hearts in order to open up their homes. Full of tips, ideas, recipes, to-dos, and how-tos, A Life That Says Welcome shows readers that opening up their homes is less scary and less work than they might think.
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 (NIV)
“It’s okay, slugger. Keep trying. Remember, ‘Practice makes perfect.’”
The Little League baseball coach attempted to encourage my son who’d just struck out at the plate. Coach Mike wasn’t the only adult to utter that phrase to one of my kids during their young life. My daughter’s violin teacher spurred her students on to more hours of rehearsal by voicing the same phrase. And the kids’ Bible-quizzing coaches ascribed to the truth of the old expression.
Teachers urge students to practice their penmanship. Bosses advise employees to practice their duties until they’ve sharpened their skills. And what former piano student can’t still hear their teacher’s voice echoing, “Practice, practice, practice”?
But is it true that practice always makes perfect?
Tucked away in the New Testament book of Romans, God seems to send us a quick text message by way of a simple two-word sentence: “Practice hospitality” but there is no mention of perfect.
However, the very word hospitality can evoke a feeling of panic and expectations of perfect. Images come to mind of magazine-like décor, gourmet-style fancy foods, spotless surroundings and stunning homes.
But do you, or your home or food, have to be perfect in order to practice hospitality?
I find it interesting when studying Bible verses, to not just look at what the verse says but also at what it doesn’t say. Romans 12:13 does not say many things. It does not say, “Now those of you who have roomy, gorgeous homes, offer hospitality.” Or “You culinary-savvy gals who can give Rachael Ray a run for her money, have people over for supper.”
No reference to the cleanliness of our homes, the décor on our walls or our spatula-wielding expertise in the kitchen (or lack thereof). We are simply told to practice.
The verb “practice” is defined as “to perform an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve one’s proficiency.” It doesn’t state we will ever gain perfection, only that we will see progress.
I’m thankful I was encouraged as a young woman to practice hospitality with the goal of getting better, not obtaining perfection. My starting point was near zero, knowing only how to boil water and make “slice and bake” cookies. Thankfully, God wasn’t looking for perfection in this area for He would not have found it. Instead of looking at the condition of my home, He was more often looking at the condition of my heart.
So, over twenty years ago, I swallowed hard, whispered a prayer and began to open both my home and my heart. My practice has made progress. I have learned tips for decorating, methods for cleaning and gained an arsenal of easy, delicious dishes to offer guests.
However, I have also served burnt chicken, had company spy cobwebs on my light fixtures and moved piles of unfolded laundry off the couch so they could find a place to sit. Planned company may give us time to tidy up and whip up something yummy. But spontaneous hospitality means we need to be willing to welcome others into our lived-in homes and serve frozen pizzas and ice cream sandwiches with a smile.
Practicing hospitality is one of God’s ways of encouraging us to bless others, but often we end up blessed instead. Will you join me in this venture as we make room in our hearts and our homes? Even with practice our houses, cuisine, and us may not be perfect, but we’ll be connecting hearts and touching lives as we seek to serve those whom God puts in our path. Put the kettle on. Company’s coming!
Through her daily blog, writing ventures and many speaking events, Karen’s passion is to provide women with creative inspiration and doable ideas to help them live their priorities and love their lives. She is the Director of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family.
A popular presenter at Hearts at Home moms’ conferences, Karen is also the author of five books including The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized, A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others and the recently released best-selling ebook Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday.
She has been a guest on national media shows including The 700 Club, At Home Live, Engaging Women, The Harvest Show, Moody Midday Connection and Focus on the Family. The mother of three, she and her college sweetheart Todd just celebrated their silver anniversary. You can find her blogging at http://www.karenehman.com