For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. – Matthew 25:35
A heart for biblical hospitality…
I am the mother of two little boys (Jude 6 years and Bear 8 months old) and so far, they are ALL BOY. Raising boys, I worry how my love for hospitality will influence their hearts. I spend hours in the kitchen preparing beautiful dishes of food, piled high to feed my friends and family. I love lighting candles, setting out cloth napkins and drinking from fancy, vintage glasses. To me, decorations and dessert are a necessity when entertaining guests. What guest doesn’t just love a good chocolate cake covered in sprinkles? I worry how this desire in me to be the perfect host will translate in a home full of growing boys. Of course, I have come to the realization that my dream of playing tea party probably won’t happen in my house unless light sabers or dirt pies are involved.
At the heart of hospitality is love, and the love of serving others is something that I can share with my boys. I can teach them to offer biblical hospitality through grace and courtesy, as we open our home and in the way we serve people.
Cultivating Grace and Courtesy
“Please” and “Thank You” are just the beginning of teaching my children about grace and courtesy. It is important to smile and make others feel welcome. We should choose words that do affirm the value we see in others, or sometimes it’s important to be the first to say, “I am sorry.” I love watching my little buddy hold the door for ladies, which he learned from his dad, and even more I love when I see him put others before himself.
In a world around us that is constantly changing, more and more I notice people crying out for authentic community. It’s my goal that people can find that when they’re invited into our little family.
I find myself along with my other mommy pals struggling to fight against hyper individualism among our children. Current cultural trends are drawing our children to focus on SELF and it’s everywhere; commercials, movies, social media. Daily our kids are bombarded with a world that is telling them to focus on themselves first and others second. Cultivating grace and courtesy in our children is counter-culture to what is going on in our world. It is less about what we want, rather if we love like Christ, we serve despite our own wants. An expression we have adopted in our home is, “What is more important, people or _______?” This question allows our family to stop and think about what we are placing value in.
One afternoon my son frantically burst through our front door wondering why the boy from across the street did not ride home from school on the bus with him. I told him that this friend had come home from school sick. Soon my Jude came into the living room with a brown paper gift bag filled with a few of his favorite snacks, several of his personal little toys and a get well picture that he had prepared for his little buddy. Watching him rush across the street, knock on the door and deliver his get well package to his friend may have been the sweetest thing I have had the pleasure of witnessing. It was his idea, it was his heart of hospitality shining through. He is six and he is beginning to get it. He gave to his friend some of his most special things, just wanting to serve and to love someone who was not feeling well. I see Christ moving in his life, I see him affecting his community and making a difference.
An Open Invitation (Opening Your Door to Others)
To our family having an open door means no invitation required. Our house is often filled with friends, old and new. We make it a point to invite individuals into our home that do not always think and act like us. My husband and I are very intentional about involving our children in conversation and connection with guests, and it is rare that we allow iPads or other technology to draw our children away from helping us host. I want my children to be a part of the love and laughter of a full home. We want them to learn to serve others, to share traditions, opinions and different ways than our own of doing things. At times, opening our home is messy and out of control. When we open our door, people see our mess. Toys everywhere, running, screams of laughter, spills, piles and piles of dishes… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes people show up at our door unannounced, sometimes in need, or just to hang out. We want others to feel welcome to drop by even when it is not always convenient for us.
Each year during the holidays we open our home to those who, like ourselves, do not have family close to celebrate with. As we gather around the table, we encourage our friends to bring their favorite dishes and to share their family traditions with us. I remember the first time I shared the “wishbone” tradition with my Japanese friend Mariko. She was so tickled when I explained how breaking a dry bone in half could result in good luck for the year (of course, we know this isn’t true, but it’s fun!). We have also developed new traditions with our friends, for example, instead of pumpkin pie each Thanksgiving, we now look forward to Marikos’ delicious tiramisu for dessert.
An open door has become more than just opening our home, rather a way of life for our family. I am learning that true hospitality extends beyond the four walls of my own house. We make it a point to eat with others and simply to share life with people. A table for eight at a restaurant is so much more fun then just grabbing a bite to eat with our little family of four. We are slowly teaching our son the importance of cultivating authentic relationships around the table, on the soccer field, at church, wherever we go. Our biggest battle with Jude right now is that he becomes indignant when we fail to invite others to eat with us. “Mom, who are we eating with today?” At times I must remind him that a relationship with his mommy and daddy is important too. We must never underestimate the bond a family can build sharing life with one another around the table, televisions off and everyone tuned in. I love it.
I try my best to model what it looks like to serve people in practical ways. No only must we have the right attitude to serve, but also the practical skills to do so. My grandmother taught me many of these life skills, like setting the table correctly, chewing with my mouth closed, how to pass dishes around a table, to always help clean up after a meal, and to make guests feel included in conversation…to name just a few of those gems. Charts and checklists are the easiest way to teach my son practical skills. Here are a few ways we practice hospitality in our home:
What does motherhood mean to me? It means everyday, in my weakness, trying to teach my children to live and serve like Christ. To show them the importance of seeing others through Christ’s eyes. And I must remind myself daily that motherhood means showing my children mercy and grace!
Hi, I am Candice! I am a wife and mother of two incredible little boys. You can find me on Instagram @candicemcgarvey and my blog flyingpaperairplanes.net. Flying Paper Airplanes is a lifestyle blog dedicated to sharing my love for food, motherhood, DIY and adventure. It is my goal to inspire and nurture others as I open my home, set the table and share life with you.
What are some ways you cultivate hospitality in your home? Thank so much for reading!