But on the flip side, now that I have 3 little ones, it is rare that my entire house is completely clean at the same time. (OK; I'll be honest; it just never happens!) The thought of preparing a special meal is overwhelming when I have so many other things that I need to do. And to be completely honest, a lot of times I feel downright selfish with my time and want to have a quiet, relaxing evening with my family instead of having to serve others and do tons of dishes late into the night. I've quickly learned that if I just wait until I "feel" like hosting, it never happens. That is why we decided that for our family, hospitality must become a routine. It was a gradual change for us and I thought I would share with you how it happened and why we love it. I know this method of incorporating hospitality into your lives won't work for everyone, but it has really been a blessing to us (and hopefully to our guests as well:).
When we first started seminary, I heard a speaker say that his wife always cooks extra food one night a week and he is free to invite anyone he meets over for dinner that night. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, but never got around to implementing it.
Then two years ago, some friends in our church needed a lot of work done on their house. Our Wednesday night Bible Study decided to just meet at their house every Wednesday night to serve them instead of studying together. Since I had two little ones and couldn't really help with the workload, I cooked everyone dinner so that they could just come straight from work, eat together, and then get straight to work and have time to accomplish a lot more than if they went home and ate dinner first.
At the end of the summer when our work was completed and we got back to doing the regular Bible Study at our house, I decided to continue cooking extra and invited one of the single Seminary Students to eat dinner with us beforehand. When his roommates joined our Bible Study a few months later, they began to come for dinner as well.
When Abbi was born, we stopped hosting the Bible Study but continued feeding and fellowshipping with the college guys most weeks. And when I was too sleep-deprived to cook, they brought us Chinese food :)
This summer I realized that it wasn't too difficult to make just a little bit more and invite another couple or two over when I fed the guys. (The guys might not get as many extra helpings, but the fellowship is more important :) We have really enjoyed building stronger relationships with these couples, along with the college guys.
Having people over for dinner every week might seem like a lot of work, but I have found that the more I do it, the easier it gets. When I first started, I tried to pick my most praised recipes and special desserts have everything perfect, but that was too exhausting (and expensive) and I just couldn't keep it up! I quickly learned to make my meal plan for my family just as I normally would, with simple dishes that could be doubled easily and most often ones that I could prepare the day before. Then I could relax and enjoy our company (who quickly became family!)
Why we love it having people over on a set night every week: The relationships we have built are priceless! My girls LOVE the college guys and couples that come over and look forward to their night every week. They are learning to have good manners and polite conversations with grown-ups. (They do not always behave, but it is a loving and safe environment to train them!) Our friends take part in our nightly sing-song time, Bible reading, prayers, and kisses, and truly become part of our family. My husband and I enjoy sharing in the lives of our friends and learning how we can better minister to them and pray for them. We are encouraged by their friendship!