from Melissa at Breath of Life
I was excited to learn my good friend Carrie would be blogging through Practicing Hospitality. I'd been meaning to read it for a while but had never gotten around to it. She gave me the inspiration I needed to pluck it off my bookshelf and get reading. Then she asked if I would be willing to guest post, and I was even more excited because Hospitality and Family (the topic of Chapter 3) is near and dear to my heart.
2008 was the Year of Peace and Simplicity in my home. I purged the house of anything I didn't absolutely love, so that the items that do matter to our family could have a more prominent spot. I cleared my calendar. I learned balance. The benefits have been enormous.
As a result of the changes wrought in my life, I can testify to the truth of this chapter. There's a lot of great advice packed into Chapter 3, much of which I wish I'd read earlier...and is highlighted now. Some of my notes:
If the Lord has given us a family, extending hospitality to our family is our first priority. Once we have established the ministry of hospitality within our family, we can then broaden our hospitality to include extended family members, friends, strangers, the needy and the poor. (pg. 74, emphasis mine). Did you catch that? We must put our families first. It's practical, and Scriptural. The Proverbs 31 woman put the needs of her own family ahead those in her community. I confess, for years I struggled with this. I was great at having a clean house when guests came (as long as they didn't open the closets). I hosted weekly Bible studies. My home was where most of the extended family gatherings occurred. Yet if I didn't have an event to prepare for, my house was a complete disaster...an obstacle course to be navigated.
One of the most important things I've learned is that . . . Keeping an orderly home communicates our love in a tangible manner. Our family benefits from our management on a daily basis. (pg. 83). My husband loves being able to find things now. So does my daughter, and so do I. Knowing exactly where something is keeps me from losing precious time looking for it, and has greatly reduced the stress in my life. Is everything always perfect? No. But the overall peaceful atmosphere of our home makes us less frazzled, and less likely to be bothered by the occasional basket of unfolded laundry in the living room.
...our love, dedication, and other biblical character attributes manifested toward our family are a testimony to the world of God's powerful work in our lives. (p. 75) I recently experienced this first-hand when my mother-in-law (who is not my biggest fan) spent the night with us. She commented several times about the peaceful atmosphere and tidiness of our home. I don't think she's ever seen my house messy in the 17 years we've been married (remember, I was great at keeping up appearances), but it's obvious to me that the overall changes in our home are obvious to others. How did I get there? I offered some quick tips here.
God's strength is for what He plans for you to do - not stamina for everything you might want to do! (pg. 75) To me, this was the most important line in the entire chapter. As a perfectionist who's a full-time working mother, Sunday School teacher, choir member, daughter, sister, and friend...well, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Throw in selfish habits like reading and blogging, and it really doesn't take long for my plate to be way past full. I've had to learn that: (1) I cannot do it all and (2) sometimes, good is good enough. I confess, I often have to remind myself that snuggles and giggles are more important than a clean kitchen. But I try to remember that my 'tween daughter will soon be gone. I only have a few years left to pour myself into her life and to teach her how to be a better wife, mother, and homemaker than I.
I challenge you to ask your husband and children how they feel about your home. Do they feel as if they're afterthoughts? (Honestly, my family probably did...because they often were.) When we put more effort into making sure others feel welcome in our home than we do for our own family, we are ignoring the greatest calling God gives us as women.
Melissa blogs about life and faith at Breath of Life. Thanks, Melissa, for sharing your thoughts with us!