Monday, July 26, 2010

A Life That Says Welcome: Part 3

Happy Monday, OH Friends!  I continue today in a review of the book A Life That Says Welcome.  To read my thoughts on Chapters 1 & 2, click here.  This week I will share some points from Chapter 3, "Family First."

Before launching into several chapters about different ideas for hospitality to those outside our homes, author Karen Ehman spends a chapter focusing on hospitality to those within them.  Karen and I are not the only women to have ever fallen into the trap of doing everything big, beautiful, and fancy for our guests while leaving our family with the leftovers.  How often have we totally spruced up our house, put flowers and cloth napkins on the table, and created a beautiful multi-course meal for our guests?  How often do we go to such lengths for those we live with?  

Maybe it's just you and your husband at home right now.  Do you go to the same lengths to keep your house a warm, welcoming environment for him as you would for guests coming to visit?  Does he feel as blessed and refreshed to be in your home as they would?

How about if you have children?  Do they feel accepted, valued, and comfortable in your home?  Do they feel like you put as much love and effort into their meals as you would for a family in need, or do they get what's left over after you've expended all your energy on someone else?

If you're single, do your roommates know that you value and respect them by how you maintain your space and participate in the keeping of the household?  (As a former roommate myself, I can attest to how much more peaceful the home is -- be it apartment, condo, or duplex -- when all members of the "household" keep each other in mind by helping with the necessary chores like dishes and grocery shopping.  It's no fun going home when you're not sure whose mess you'll have to pick up tonight.)

Karen's main point is this:  "[The people we live with] need to come first as the recipients of our love, creativity, and handiwork" (p. 44).  Karen uses chapter 3 to give some great ideas for how to create an atmosphere of hospitality within our homes for the sake those we live with, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Encourage kindness in the way all members of the family speak to and about one another, within the home and without.

  • Appreciate the different personalities represented within your family unit.  We are all unique and it's wonderful to feel that our uniqueness is valuable to those we live with.  It's important for all of us to feel safe within our homes and this means giving each other space to express our differences in a kind, patient, and respectful environment.

  • We demonstrate your love for our family through what we DO as much as through what we say.  This includes making the house an inviting place to be by keeping it tidy and giving it touches of personality.  It also includes putting love and creativity into the meals we share.  We can demonstrate love by prompting our family with questions about their day and then being good listeners as they share their highs and lows.
  • Find a ministry for your whole family.  When the whole family is involved with the hospitality process then "your lives together can naturally overflow with the love of Christ poured out on those with whom your life naturally intersects."
At the end of this chapter, Karen shares some more specific ideas for family hospitality, including ideas for in-home family dates and little ways to make your home a more inviting place.  She has some great ideas and I encourage you to check out this book for yourself to see which ideas will work for you and your family!

I'd like to end today by sharing a post from my friend Robyn's blog.  Robyn is our pastor's wife and has a blog of her own where she shared the following.  It perfectly expresses the idea of this chapter and she has given me permission to share it with our readers over here on OH.  Enjoy!

The Message I'm Sending

I realized just a few minutes ago as I was vacuuming the floor in my bedroom that I think perhaps I'm inadvertently sending my husband a message. And I'm not sure it's a good one, or one I'm intending to send. But, if actions speak louder than words... I'm sending it just the same.

Let me back up. I've written a fair amount on [my] blog about my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof) and my attempts at improving them lately. My house is by no means unsanitary, or even typically cluttered. It's not unsightly or out of control. But it isn't usually super clean, neat or tidy either. It's lived in.

I get motivated to clean and do everything all at once. My house is spotless. Then I give myself the 'break I deserve' after working so hard and watch my house slowly deteriorate until the next wave of motivation hits. In the mean time I only clean here and there as necessary (like I keep the dishes and counters clean, but fail to sweep or deal with the pile of clothes at the foot of my bed).

Yesterday I got a call that someone wants to come see our house tomorrow. So today--I cleaned. And cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. Rob worked in the yard and the kids 'helped' us both a bit. We've spent the day busily preparing our house to show.

On days when we have company coming over, I spend the whole day cleaning my house from top to bottom. I like a presentable house. There are only a few good friends that I don't at least make some attempt at cleaning for before they come over. And if you're coming over for the very first time, my house will sparkle for you and nothing will be out of place!

For whatever it's worth, I'm capable of being an excellent house keeper. I just choose not to exercise that skill very often... hence my struggle with the state of my home.

My husband is far more orderly than I am. He likes everything to have a place and he prefers that those things actually reside in the place they belong. He shuts doors and drawers after he opens them and puts his shoes away after he takes them off. Novel, right?

I know he really enjoys a clean house and a comfortable home. I know it's a great way to help him want to come home after a stressful day at work. I know it's a small -- no, a big -- way I can show him how much I love and appreciate him and want to do something nice for him. Yet, rarely do I do that. I clean for others. I clean for showings, and small group, and company... but rarely do I make sure my house is in tip top shape for the most important person in my life. Kind of sad, huh?

Up until a few minutes ago I'd never thought about the fact that I'm unintentionally sending him a message that other people are more important than him by the manner in which I care for my home. I'm definitely going to add this to my list of things to work on.  Keeping it real...


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  2. This is something I struggle with too! Glad I'm not alone!