Ways to Show Hospitality

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:13 that we are to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” It’s a two-fold command. We often think of hospitality only in terms of having someone over for a meal or hosting people overnight. However, hospitality may also be seen in a simple act of service. So, here are some of our collective ideas for practicing service and hospitality to those around us on a day to day basis.

 

Hospitality Outside the Home

  • Deliver a meal to someone.
  • Pick up some groceries for someone when you are already out shopping.
  • Write a note of encouragement to a shut-in from your church.
  • Invite a mom friend over for a play-date or walk to the park.
  • Drop off flowers to someone who has lost a loved one.
  • Buy a box of diapers for a family who has just had a baby.
  • Write a note or send a small gift to someone in prison.
  • Invite someone to share a picnic lunch at the park with your family after church.
  • Send a box of goodies to a missionary family.
  • Initiate going for a walk with someone while your kids are contained in strollers and where you’re likely to have less interrupted conversations.

 

Hospitality Within the Home

  • Invite your retired neighbors over to bake cookies with you.
  • Invite missionaries on furlough to stay with you.
  • When you have guests staying one or two nights with you write a welcoming message on a piece of paper and then include your internet password info, invite them to make use of the washer/dryer, tell them to help themselves to the refrigerator, etc.
  • Watch a busy mom’s kids for an hour so she can get a hot shower or a nap.
  • Plan a game-night for the singles in your church.
  • Invite a teenage girl over for the day and seek to have intentional conversation. Put kids down for nap, make up some hot tea and settle onto the couch for a heart-to-heart with her.
  • Consider establishing a “soup night” each week, making a big pot of soup and then inviting a family over for food and fellowship. (Some good friends have even turned this into an “all are welcome” kind of soup night.)
  • Prepare an extra amount of food for Sunday lunch and invite a family that visited church that morning.

 

Hospitality with Neighbors

  • Host a neighborhood cookie/hot drink night and read Luke 2 with them around Christmas time.
  • Host a neighborhood “open house” in your driveway, serving lemonade and goodies.
  • Take homemade treats to those on your street.
  • Invite your neighbors to come sit and chat with you while you watch your kids play in the backyard.

 

These ideas are just a few ways that we can seek to show hospitality to those around us. Whatever avenue you may choose to work out your hospitality in, (whether it’s one listed here or one of your own) just remember that this is important work we are doing. We are obeying God’s commands and reflecting Christ’s love and example as we serve one another!

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The Gospel Comes with a House Key – A Book Review

 The Gospel Comes with a House Key

This book is not what you might expect of a book on hospitality: there isn’t a chapter with tips for making the time with your guests stress free; neither is there an appendix of tried and true recipes. On the other hand, you won’t find The Gospel Comes with a House Key to be a scholarly essay discussing Scripture’s usage of the words “hospitality“ and “the Gospel.”

Rather, Rosaria Butterfield uses Scripture woven throughout personal examples to delineate an earnest plea for the Body of Christ to practice “radically ordinary hospitality.”

Butterfield defines radically ordinary hospitality as “using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed” (page 31).

Yes, Butterfield does primarily refer to hospitality in the context of opening our homes to strangers, neighbors, and believers alike in order to gather around the dinner table for food and intentional spiritual edification. But hospitality isn’t just about the food on the table or an opportunity to socialize with people outside of our circle of friends.

Rather, hospitality has implications that extend beyond the few hours we might spend together over a plate of food. In fact, Butterfield argues that living a lifestyle of simple hospitality is about the message of the Gospel. She implores us to open our homes in such a way that a watching world can see what the Gospel is all about—that the cross changes lives, that the cross gives answers to the hard questions in life, and that through the cross, Christ’s love is extended to all alike.

This kind of hospitality peels back the fronts of one’s social status, education, race, sexuality, financial position, political leanings, and even theological camps that so often divide us. In turn, this kind of regular hospitality has the potential to communicate the often-ignored truth that we are all made in the image of God. Indeed, the reality that we are all image-bearers produces a driving motive to practice radical hospitality. Furthermore, it exposes the world’s lie that “being a human being means both more and less than being an image bearer of a holy God” (page 60).

Indeed, grasping the significance of one’s divinely-imposed worth enables us to have blood-bought compassion on the drug addict living on the streets and the criminal in prison. It allows us to extend a comforting hand to the dying and give a home to children whose homes are shattered.

Now that is extreme. But Butterfield argues even these situations provide opportunities to practice ordinary hospitality.

Butterfield takes hospitality one step further and boldly suggests that “radically ordinary and daily hospitality is the basic building block for vital Christian living. Start anywhere. But do start” (page 220).

I take that statement to mean that practicing hospitality is one of the most straightforward, basic, and uncomplicated ways to live out and articulate the message of the gospel before a watching world. However, inviting strangers into my home is a scary thought, for it invites them to enter into my safe-haven and allows them to see that I struggle with sin and that I am in constant need of God’s grace. The thought of making myself so vulnerable is threatening. But is worth seriously considering, for the Gospel is most certainly worthy of any and all risks we may take!

The Gospel Comes with a House Key was convicting on several different levels:

It spoke to my apathy in witnessing to the unsaved.

It spoke to my stinginess in sharing what I have with those around me.

It spoke to my failure to see all human beings as being made in the image of God and to see their divinely-imposed worth as such.

Finally, it spoke to my laziness to practice intentional hospitality towards those outside my circle of friends.

And so I sit here, praying that God would nudge me beyond mere conviction and enable me to take baby steps towards making strangers my neighbors and neighbors part of the family of God.

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Recipes For Your Easter Table

 

He is risen!

Easter Sunday is such a special day! I love starting out the day worshiping our risen Savior with fellow believers then gathering around the table with family or friends to share a meal together!

Here are some recipes that we enjoy.

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Potatoes Romanoff

These potatoes have been a long-time family favorite!

2 lbs potatoes, cooked, peeled, and shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green onion or onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon powdered garlic
1 cup cheddar cheese (divided)
Paprika

Mix together all ingredients and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Spread into a greased 9×11 baking pan. Top with remaining cheese. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden.

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Vegetable Casserole

This side dish has become one of my cousin’s specialties to make during the holidays… and we all love her for it! It’s delicious!

 

 

Casserole:
2 cans shoepeg corn, drained
2 cans french green beans, drained
1 cup celery, chopped
4 T. onion, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
2 cans cream of celery soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and place in a 9×13 pan or casserole dish.

Topping:
2 packs Ritz crackers
1 stick butter, melted

Crumble crackers and mix with melted butter. Sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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Peaches and Cream Pie

This recipe is like peach pie and cheesecake all rolled into one! It’s so yummy you’re sure to want another slice!

Makes 1 – Deep dish pie

Crust:
¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3.5 oz Cook and Serve vanilla pudding mix (NOT instant!)
1 egg
½ cup milk

Filling:
3.5 cups sliced peaches (canned or fresh), reserve the juice or syrup

Topping:
8oz cream cheese (softened)
⅓ cup sugar
3 tablespoons reserved peach syrup

Heat oven to 350*
Combine crust ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.
Pour into greased pie plate.
Arrange drained peaches over batter.
Combine topping ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.
Spoon mixture over peaches to within 1 inch of edge.
Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon if desired.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until center is set up.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

I’m likely to drool just thinking about these yummy little treats that have become an Easter family tradition in our home.

1 cup margarine
1 cup butter
8 oz. cream cheese

2 ½ lbs. confectioners sugar
21 oz. peanut butter
3 lbs. chocolate

Cream butter/cheese. Slowly add the confectioners sugar, alternating with the vanilla and peanut butter until completely mixed. Chill two hours. Use a 1 tablespoon scoop and shape into eggs. Re-chill in fridge or freezer. Dip in melted chocolate to coat. Cool. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Trim off any excess chocolate.

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Pineapple Sauce for Ham

This turns a generic ham into something extra special! My family always makes this sauce whenever ham is served!

Yields about 2 cups

 

Ingredients:
1/4 cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1-20oz can pineapple, tidbits or crushed
4 teaspoons mustard
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil for one minute. Serve with ham.

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As you gather this Easter Sunday we hope the fellowship around your table is sweet because of Jesus Christ!

He is risen indeed!

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Redefining “Clean”

Way down deep inside I am a “neat freak”.

LOVE. a clutter free home!

When the house get messy, I get frazzled.

With two kiddos in a very small house, I’m learning to not let my internal “neat freak” show too much on the outside but it is very much alive on the inside.

When my awesome husband realizes that I’m beginning to get stressed out he asks, “We need to clean the house don’t we?” and proceeds to help me tidy up!  Love him!

About a year ago, when I would throw my hands up in the air and say “LOOK at this house!” my husband gently challenged me to redefine “clean” in my mind and perspective of my home!

SO…what is “clean?”

The first thing that comes to my mind is TIDY, NO CLUTTER.

If that is my definition, than my house will NEVER be clean during this stage of our family life, unless I do all my cleaning right before I hit the hay… but then no one is even awake to enjoy it!

*Sigh*

What’s a body to do??

When I thought about it I realized clean means “not filthy or grimy”.

With that realization, my method of house cleaning began to change.

Each day I assigned myself a room/area of our home that I was going to “clean”.

That equals dusting, wiping down dirty surfaces, cleaning the floor, doing ALL the dishes, wiping out my microwave and yes, all around tidying up.

But if in 5 minutes “tidy” no longer defines that room, IT. IS. OK.

There is no filth under the clutter.

And ya know what?

As my definition changed so did my perspective.

The “mom guilt” isn’t quite so strong.

The embarrassment over a cluttery house when someone pops in wears off pretty fast. They might see toys strewn across the floor, dishes in the sink and maybe even the couch cushions off the couch. But I know that the floor has been mopped, the toilet has been scrubbed,  dishes have been done, garbage has been taken out and laundry has been washed sometime this week.

I’m learning to be a lot happier and more purposeful about my home.

AND!

I think my girls are happier about it too!

I know I’m not the only mom who has struggled with this and I would love to hear how you “clean” your home while still allowing your kids to be kids!

~ Rachel

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Ideas for Organization

Books upon books have been written on cleaning, decluttering and organizing.  It seams every housewife, and certainly moms, are interested in ideas for orderly spaces. Here are some tips from the three of us to you.

Kitchen:

  • Use square plastic baskets for small things such as pickle jars, dressings, creamer, jam etc: this helps keeps them all in one place. The basket can then be pulled out when looking for something in the back.  
  • Keep perishable produce all together in a plastic basket in plain sight; use drawers for non perishable items such as cheese, tortillas, etc. If you can see the produce every time you open the fridge, it is more likely you’ll use it before it rots. And unlike produce that might get forgotten in the back of a drawer, cheese and tortillas probably won’t get forgotten in a drawer!
  • Can’t find something? If your fridge has see-through shelves, try looking up through the shelf from underneath before you unload everything to get to the back. Looking up through the bottom of the shelf allows you to see what all is stacked on the shelf from a different angle.  
  • Label leftovers with a name and date. Have at least one meal a week where you serve leftovers.
  • Menu plan at the beginning of the week. Prep as much as you can in the morning or at lunch time for dinner. Double a meal and put in freezer for an easy supper later.

Bedrooms:

  • Clothes – Fold clothes and stack behind each other, like files in a filing drawer, instead of stacking pieces of clothing on top of each other. When clothing is lined up in front of each other, it is easier to see all of the clothes at a glance. No more digging underneath clothes to get to something at the bottom.

I started doing this with my toddler’s clothes and it has made a huge difference in helping keep the drawers from exploding every time I looked for an outfit. This also is much more space-efficient: I am able to store most of my toddler’s clothes in a 4-drawer plastic storage tote.

  • Toys- Use old deli containers with snap on lids to store crayons, rubberbands, little toy pieces like animals or legos,  etc. These keep things organized and safe from toddlers who can’t open them yet.
  • Buy large flat bins that can fit under beds for additional storage space.
  • Place old shoe or jewelry boxes in drawers to help separate socks, tights, underwear, bibs, bows, etc.

Living Room:

  • Keep a basket to contain kids books. Sometimes kids can have a hard time getting books lined up neatly on a bookshelf but placing them in a basket can be an easy way for them to help with clean up time.

Car:

  • Cut the top off of a cereal box. Put a plastic bag in it and wah-lah! You have a perfect trash can to fit between two front seats or in the side of your car door.
  • Keep a small bin for collecting random books/toys/other paraphernalia that somehow manages to make its way into the vehicle. Every weekend make it a habit to carry bin into the house and empty it.

This and That:

  • Cut an X in the lid of an empty coffee can or oatmeal container and stuff all your grocery bags inside. A lot of bags can be packed in and one easily pulled out when you need a liner for your bathroom trash can or for a stinky diaper.
  • Use Ziploc bags or small zippered pouches for your purse or diaper bag to help keep things contained. Use one for loose pens, one for bobby pins, one for makeup, one for baby’s extra set of clothes, etc.
  • Take the inside of a toilet paper roll and cut it one time longwise. Slide over wrapping paper rolls to keep them from constantly unrolling.
  • Mail- Open up mail by trash can and immediately throw away junk mail.

It’s always helpful to find a “home” for thinks around the house, ways to eliminate the little hassles (like unrolled paper towels), and make your day run smoother! We would love to glean ideas from you! Feel free to leave us a comment!

We hope you find joy in taking care of your home today!

 

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