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Hospitable Thursdays: 5 Common Scenarios to Show Hospitality

I am trying a new format to help me keep up with blogging. I am attempting to have certain themes to certain days of the week/month so that I can be more organized in blogging. Who knows how this will go, so bear with me,...please. I hope you like it, and let me know if you do.

 First, let me say that I am NOT the best example of hospitality in the sense that I have people over at my house all the time. We do have guests from time to time, and sometimes weekly, but I don't feel as if I have to have someone all the time in order to be hospitable. Instead, we kind of look for opportunities to be hospitable and offer hospitality as they present themselves.
There are some very practical things that I've had to learn in order to be ready to be hospitable, and I am starting this series in order to become better at it, and I'm really hoping you'll share your experiences and tips with me.
Just to be clear, I am NOT a good example of hospitality. I am endeavoring to be better at it, and I am hoping this series of posts will help me with this. These are simply a few things that I know work and I have done, but don't do regularly enough. You don't even want to know the state of my home right now, seriously inhospitable.

Here are 5 common scenarios that come up for us regarding hospitality.

Scenario #1: My husband calls and says he's invited someone he works with to come over tonight.
Noooo!!! It seems that, at least in this stage of life with little ones, this always happens on those really bad days where nothing has went well and as a result our home looks like it's survived a natural disaster. First, it's probably not as bad as it seems, and everyone, especially who has kids, should understand that on short notice things can be a little messy. Second, my mother taught me a great rule for housekeeping. You always keep the living room, kitchen and bathroom/guest bathroom able to be ready with just a little picking up. I must confess I really do try to do this, but sometimes things just get out of hand so quickly that I have a hard time doing this consistently. I have also told my husband that it really helps if he can let me know as soon as possible when he has invited guests (you know, if he asks them at lunch, please text or call me then, not come home and say they are right behind him). He doesn't always remember to do this and that's why it's so good to keep the rooms they are likely to see somewhat clean.

Scenario #2: My in-laws/any relative/friend calls and says, "Can I stop by for a little while?"
We actually live both of our parents and most of our siblings and fairly close to many in my husband's extended family. While the extended family are not likely if ever going to just come over except for rare occassions (i.e. birthdays and after baby's birth), our immediate family does come over sometimes without much notice. I probably shouldn't, but do have a little bit of a double standard when it comes to our parents. I have the most amazing in-laws, but still feel less comfortable with them seeing my home messy than my own parents. I guess I rationalize that my mom and dad know I do clean and don't want them to see a mess, and I still think in the back of my mind that my in-laws will think I'm not taking care of their son or grandkids. I know it's silly and they would be the first to tell me so, but I still feel that way. I don't often get a lot of notice, but I've come to find out that as long as they get to see the grandkids, they don't care about anything being messy. As far as a friend goes, they're probably too nice to say anything about your housekeeping, and hopefully they understand your circumstances already. Still, I may have been known in nice weather, when I know someone's coming for a short visit to take the kids out to play when they pull up.

Scenario#3: Playdate!
Well, obviously, you would know about this ahead of time and can schedule it, so this one's not too hard to prepare your home for. I do have trouble getting my daughter to see the value in keeping her toys neat, because I guess she figures she needs to have everything out so her friend can see it all and play in the piles. I do think that it's okay to have dishes in the sink or laundry needing to be folded in a basket when the mom comes over. After all, she should understand better than most people exactly what you're doing. Plus, it may encourage her to come over more often (she won't think you're this depressingly non-human super housekeeper) with her kids and help you get stuff done at the same time, and don't worry too much about the mess the kids are making let them help to clean up afterwards. I am a fan however of outdoor playdates and wish we had more people to go to the park with, not cause I don't want anyone in my house, but because they're a lot of fun for the kids. *sigh* I do need to initiate playdates more often (insert horrible mother guilt trip).

Scenario #4: "I need to talk to you. Can I come over?"
This doesn't happen too often, but it's nice to keep your home ready for it. The good news is that because of the nature of this visit they probably don't really care much how things look. Even, so, I like to keep some easy to bake or cook or just to eat things, so I can offer them something to eat (i.e. cake mixes, muffin mixes, brownie mixes, popcorn, chips and salsa, etc.). I also like to keep some soft drinks, which we don't drink often or try not to, so I have something other than water, juice, and milk to offer, but we've also made coffee for guests if they want it (keep a powdered creamer for coffee enthusiasts). We also have a tea pot and tea bags if they would prefer hot tea (I'm not good at making iced tea). The hardest part with this scenario is what to do with the kids. Sometimes it's something that can't be discussed in front of them. My husband has often taken guests to the porch or basement or even just the yard while we're inside and having something for the kids to do to occupy their attention helps.

Scenario #5: We want to be a witness of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We do sometimes invite over people we know aren't Christians in the hope that we can share the gospel with them. It's not that we can't share the gospel with them anywhere, but we want to show them how much we care about them and their eternal destiny. We don't just randomly go up to people and say come over and talk about eternity with us, but we do make a point of reaching out to those who are unregenerate around us and  offering them a home-cooked meal or just to visit with us, because we feel the obligation to tell them the truth and warn them of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18).
This is a completely unrelated picture of my kids. Yup, he's a thumbsucker ;)
So, how do you show hospitality?


God and My Awful-Horrible-Terrible-No Good Day

Okay, so this is really a conclusion to yesterday's post
Yesterday started to be what seemed like would be an awful-horrible-terrible-no good day. I was so overwhelmed by about 10 a.m. that I not only posted about it here, but I even asked for prayer on facebook status. What with acid reflux baby spewing and toddler girl having potty accidents (which she actually inherited from me problems with incontinence), I didn't even have the time to really pray much more than "God help me!", which I did, and I know others who did. And He did, but in ways I couldn't even imagine. 
When we finally did leave, it was about 20 minutes later than I had hoped, but we got to town and saw a really bad wreck ahead. I could see the fire engine, ambulance, and police, but no cars, only a man and woman walking from way back where we were carrying a little boy in their arms and his carseat. (Please pray for those in this accident, some were taken to the hospital strapped to boards.) All I could think of was how angry and frustrated I had been about all the delays that morning, and had we left much earlier that could've been us, and it could've been us anyway, but God had protected us as we traveled. I couldn't help but cry right there and tell my kids in the back seat how much I loved them. I had to apologize to them and God. I'm so glad He forgives my stupidity.
Then, again because we were running late, we got to the AT&T store and my mom and dad asked if they could take us out to eat for lunch, because my dad had just finished his cardiac rehab class and they were in town anyway. Um, Yes! (If you know me at all, you'd know that a promise of a meal, especially with good friends and family is something I cannot resist.)
I had planned on going to the store while we were out anyway, so after we ate, my mom wanted to go with us (dad gets really exhausted after his workout). So, we decided to go to Walmart. I actually don't go to Walmart usually, but for some reason we decided to go. While just walking through the store with my mom and kids, we were approached by the Picture Studio photographer who asked us if she could take pictures of the kids for free with $50 of free pictures included! I had never heard of this, but she said that they have to have at least one session per shift and that she had had no one scheduled, so in that case they are allowed to give away free pictures to someone! (Although as their mother, I'm sure it had something to do with their cuteness.) I'm sure it's with the assumption that mommy or daddy won't be able to just stop with the $50 worth and will buy more, but they didn't know me, I'm cheap ;)
While we were there, Shelby used a public potty. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you knew how terrified she is of them and how tired I am of going back out to the car everywhere to sit in 98 degree heat while she uses a fold up potty in the parking lot and then I have to find some remotely discreet way to dispose of the, er, waste, you'd totally understand why this could improve my day.
Also while getting the kids pictures taken, my husband called and said he was getting off work, did I want him to pick up something for dinner on his way home? Yes, please! Hey, sometimes you just need a break from cooking.
After a pizza dinner, which I have found I can eat after the last feeding of the evening even though Jonah can't tolerate dairy in my milk, both kids went to sleep relatively easy. Jonah with the usual face caressing and thumb/paci sucking (picture taking wears little babes out) and Shelby after singing "Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus" and "Trust and Obey" with mommy and daddy, talking about Jesus, prayer, and reading of Psalm 22 (per her request this particular passage, though we read something from the Bible almost every night, that is if she doesn't fall asleep before). Shelby even got out of bed to go poopy in the potty by herself, another big deal in our house. 
Was God rewarding me for how I handled the first part of my day? Not hardly. You see I had only been angry, ungrateful, and self-pitying, but He brought me to repentance for my sins and lead me to prayer and to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and most of all to Himself. So that by the end of the day all I could do was sing praises to Him!
I'm forever glad and grateful to God that He pursues me, that His love isn't in the least dependent on anything I do or don't do, and that He sees me in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ! 
God's infinite love isn't dependent on us. He loves us because He loves us, and He is owed our utmost devotion for that love and care.
""And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe......He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen."-Deuteronomy 10:12-17, 21


I Am Not a Supermom

Dear Reader,
Have you ever found yourself enjoying a short afternoon respite in front of your computer/smartphone perusing the blogosphere, reading about other moms and their ideas, goals, helps, and lives? If so, have you ever spent said time wondering how they accomplish all this? How do they seem to have perfectly smiling babies, or a cleaning/organization formula that keeps their home spotless, or how they seem to love their husbands without any complaining? Or have you, like myself, simply wondered how on earth they have the time to not only accomplish all this, but to write about it for us to read?!?
Well, just so you know, I am not a supermom (not that you thought I was). And this morning has been a case in point. Perhaps God is teaching me patience and humiliation, I mean humility ;). 
Honestly, my house is a mess. No, we're not in danger for our health, thankfully it's not that bad, but it's still not how I want it to be. Babies cry and toddlers have tantrums requiring spankings. I never feel I have enough time in Bible study and prayer. And I've had to come to the conclusion that exercise will happen again; last week I only got to run once :*(
I am not writing this to complain or to incur sympathy, but rather to be honest and to show the imperfections. I think it's so easy to read blogs and facebook or twitter even, and think that everyone has it all together and never gets behind in their housework while still having time to write and homeschool their kids and pray and read and all those other things we wish we could do. 
The truth is I have a three year old and a three month old, and my husband is working twelve hour shifts which means with his long commute he's gone from 5:30 am until 7 pm. Just keeping up with the regular have-to-do kind of chores takes all of my time, and even then I often feel as though I'm running in circles. It's easy to want to only share the good things here, but I'm realizing that's not honest and it could even cause someone to feel guilty about their life or even covet what it seems like I have. 
The truth about being a keeper of the home, a mom, a wife, and a homeschooler, is that things often do not go as planned and I'm learning to be okay with that. My kids are loved, fed, clothed, and taken care of. We all always have something clean to wear, something to eat, and lots of love, and that's what matters. 
I've had to put down my "31 Days to Clean" book, because my husband asked me to read another book first. Yet, I'm still thinking about how I approach cleaning and homemaking. 
This morning, both kids and myself have already had to change clothes twice before ten o'clock, my new iphone (my old phone wouldn't let me call out anymore)can't be activated through my macbook, because it's from 2007 and needed software updates which aren't possible until I install a new OS Leopard which is $30 (!!!) and requires a disk only available at an Apple Store (the nearest is about a two and half hour journey) or online, so we're going to have to head to the AT&T store (a 30 minute drive) to activate the phone, so I can at least use it as a phone (I know that sounds just as crazy to me), so I have my husband's phone today as we don't have a ground line just cell phones. I am really starting to resent technology. *Grrr*
I'm slowly and painfully learning that God doesn't expect perfection from me (that's why Christ died, I can't be perfect), and my family won't either. Instead "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). I have to rest, by faith, in Christ's perfection and righteousness, because I have none of my own. (2 Corinthians 5:21I need the gospel everyday. I need grace everyday just to be gracious to my own family.
Today instead of lamenting what needs to be done, I'm going to choose, by God's grace, to enjoy ourselves. I will still work and clean here, otherwise our home would quickly become intolerably messy, but I'm going to strive to do it with joy and diligence, and I'm going to try to be honest about it. 
Let's put to rest the myth of Supermom. She doesn't exist. Real moms struggle sometimes. We cry in frustration, we get upset at messes, we feel guilty about things left undone, and we feel overwhelmed and we never feel as though we are good parents, or at least I don't. No one is really doing everything well, and we all fail to meet our own expectations and goals. 
I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." I'm sure this includes days when it doesn't all get done, or it doesn't get done the way we think it should. Today I'm going to strive to do my best for the glory of God, knowing that's what really matters, and leave the results to Him whatever they may be.
My family :*)