Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Challenge: Solitary Hospitality

from Stephanie

I crave solitude. Time spent alone refreshing my spirit, my mind, and my body. Just saying the word fills me with a sense of quiet and calm!

Unfortunately solitude is fleeting in my life; maybe that's why I crave it. As the mom of four young children I am always in demand. As a home school mom I am always with my children. So solitude isn't something that "just happens" in my life; it's something I must intentionally schedule.

Meredith blogged about her practice of spending a day in solitude once a month here, here and here. Her goal, was to pray, read scripture, and focus on God in a location away from her normal distractions.

I think this is a wonderful idea!

I'm not saying we only spend time with God once a month. I mean having half a day, a whole day, or even overnight set aside to focus on something specific with God. Think of it as offering hospitality to yourself and God.

Will you join me in solitary hospitality? Maybe just this month. Maybe as a goal for this year.

Here's what you do:

  • Leave a comment saying you're in for the challenge.

  • Schedule a time on your calendar to leave your house and be alone. Aim for at least 3 hours of solitude.

  • Decide where to go. Remember it should be fairly quiet, so Panera at lunch time is probably not a good idea. Try your public library, a fancy hotel lobby, or Barnes & Noble in the morning. Just check ahead of time if they have activities scheduled on your day.

  • Prepare during the days leading up to your solitude appointment. Think about what you want to take with you: music, Bible, notebook, pen, other books, scripture memory cards. Also think about what you want to focus on during this time.

  • Go.

  • Share your experience with us on your blog or on the follow-up post in a month.

I'm planning a solitary hospitality for Saturday, January 8. My local library has sound proof rooms that will work really well for this purpose. My goal is to really pray through what God desires for and from me in this new year (goals, activities, that kind of stuff).

Do you already practice solitary hospitality? If not, will you join me this month?

“Solitude is such a potential thing. We hear [a voice] in solitude , we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive [counsel and comfort], we get under no other condition . . .” - Amelia E. Barr


  1. I have an hour of solitude with the Lord every morning. I started getting up at 5:30 a couple of years ago and except for a few short seasons here & there, I've never looked back. I LOVE having that time to myself with Him every morning. The house is dark & quiet, and I find I crave that time so much.

    Working outside of the home, I don't think it would be practical for me to take a portion of my weekend (even once a month) from my family & my home keeping. But for those who may not be able to invest in the lengthy daily quiet time or who have children at home with them, this sounds like a great plan!

  2. Having been privy to reading this post before it went up, I thought about it, prayed about it and allotted some time next week for a personal retreat and quiet time with the Lord. As Melissa pointed out, it's not exactly easy to spend a "long time" every day when there are small children at home to care for. It's hard to find that time ALONE. But I've carved some out next week to really seek God and what He would have for me this coming year.

    Thanks for the challenge, Stephanie. This is definitely a good one for me - and a hard one. But the harder the challenge, generally the more profitable they are! (To put it mildly in this case.)

  3. This has always been a struggle for me. I usually just get some semi-quiet time whenever I can. With being a SAHM, Homeschool mom and having hubby here all day every day it is never quiet around here. Thanks for the challenge! I'm going to give it a try!

  4. Melissa, I am in awe that you get up everyday at 5:30 am!! I'm sure you have seen great rewards from that daily hour with Jesus.

    Carrie and Crystal, I know that we are in the same stage of life - surrounded 24/7 by little people who have big needs. I also get a semi-quiet time each day when my 4 kids go down for nap/rest time but for me that isn't the same as going someplace alone. At home I find it difficult to ignore the dirty dishes in the sink, the dryer that just buzzed, or the sounds of little feet playing instead of resting. That's why I'm excited about going someplace alone for a couple of hours and really focusing.

  5. I'm in and this is a very timely thing for me! I have just been talking about how I miss the uninterrupted long stretches of time with God in His Word that I had before children....where I could just lose track of time. I don't have the luxury of losing track of time like that now and haven't in years and I do feel stifled by that at times in my Bible study these days. If people are in the house, there will be interruptions. I've tried getting up earlier, but I can't depend on that time because inevitably someone will wake up unusually early....or not nap if it's during naptime. I've been challenged by a mentor to search out time in my day and continue to make this a priority each day and NOT GIVE UP on finding time and using what I have to have SOME time each day so I'm seriously taking that challenge, too, right now, but I LOVE this idea of a few hours of solitude.

    One funny thing...when I was thinking about this after reading this earlier my husband came walking into our bedroom. I looked up and said, "Hey, I'm thinking of taking three hours one weekend to do something. I'm going to look at the calendar and try to find a spot where I can get away from the house for a three hours or so. Does that sound ok?" His response: "All at once????" :) YES! Three hours all at once sounds revolutionary! :) I'll have to work with my sweet husband on the details, but, yes, I'm definitely IN! THANKS!

    Christie @

  6. I'm in! Thankfully my husband is very supportive and has often "sent" me on an evening of solitude with Jesus! He knows I need that time and has seen the result: I am a better wife and mom! We're working on an evening for the end of the month...I can't wait! :)

  7. Stephanie,

    Thanks for this post. I used to be more intentional about taking a monthly retreat, but I've gradually gotten more lax.

    I wrote a post a couple of years ago with some tips I'd learned along the way. This is something I need in my life!

  8. Oh, I very much feel the need for this. Thank you so much for this challenge. Unlike those of you with children, I have plenty of solitary time--but I tend to spend it reading or on the internet rather than taking a focused retreat with the Lord.

    I've scheduled my retreat for Thursday night, January 20--a night when my sister (and roommate) works late and I don't. I'll be retreating in our living room (away from both the computer and my bed--my two favorite places to hang out!)

  9. Christie, your husband's response to you taking 3 hours away for a retreat is hilarious! It makes me wonder how much we condition the people in our homes that interruptions are ok. It's hard to ignore them though. :)

    Amy, you are definitely blessed. I'm glad you are joining in the challenge.

    *carrie*, I'd love for you to link to the post with your tips.

    bekahcubed, I also find the computer and bed a temptation! :) I'm glad you are joining our challenge!

  10. Oh, this is something I need to find/make time for! With a nursing baby, it's somewhat difficult, but I'll see what I can do. I do have a dh who is very supportive of my alone-time needs!

  11. Amy, supportive husbands are a HUGE blessing! I've learned that different seasons of life call for different expectations. 3 hours away from home may not work when you have a nursing infant. After spending most of the last decade with pregnant or caring for an infant I am VERY sympathetic! :) I hope you can find time to participate in our challenge, even if it's only for an hour.

  12. I didn't specify my date and time but I'm planning on tomorrow (Monday) from 2-4 - during naptime.

    Excited! Wondering how this is going to go. Encouraged.

    Thanks again for the challenge and I hope all the rest of you ladies will find a way to make this work for you in some capacity or another.

  13. I loved reading this because I had hoped to build a morning a month for this very thing into my year this year. This post has definitely encouraged me to pursue the idea. I won't be starting until February, when school starts way down here in the southern hemisphere! But some time in February is looking good. Thank you for the encouragement.