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For a while I had been thinking of writing something about the connection between experience in homemaking and the difficulty or ease of hospitality, but before this weekend I felt wholly unqualified; we had only “had over” immediate family and maybe two friends on a handful of occasions, never for more than a couple of hours. When a good friend of my husband’s came on pretty short notice for a three-day visit last week, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed everything from the preparatory cleaning and planning to the visit itself. It was interesting; I was aware of being solely responsible (with my husband) for the comfort and well-being of his friend during his time here, and I thought I would have to restrain myself from excessive anxiety that he was uncomfortable due to some oversight on my part, because that’s one of the more charming aspects of my personality. Ha. It was likely due to the guest’s kindness and good nature that I was at ease instead, even when the chicken refused to finish roasting and I had to pull it out and poach the pieces separately…but that’s another story. Weirdly enough, sometimes I “forget” I am an adult, and married, and no one else is ultimately responsible for what goes on in our household. Having a house guest sort of made me feel like I was all grown up all of a sudden.

At the very least I now know experientially the relationship between showing hospitality “without grumbling” and having some level of general confidence and competence in keeping house. When you factor into normal routines the (probably inevitable) pressures when a guest is on his way, it is a huge advantage to know how to plan meals and to have some sort of mental checklist for preparing the guest room and rest of the house. I have only lately been aiming to keep our home close to “visitor-ready” all the time; not so much because we are apt to have unexpected visitors but because I realized that it’s just stupid to let some parts of the house get messy because no one sees them but me. Aiming for the standards I would have for a visitor helps—and I’m not sure what to think of the probable vanity underlying such a standard. I’m inclined to be pragmatic and say that if it helps me keep my house clean, welcome, vanity! Ahem. At any rate, the fact that I had begun implementing this in our guest/game/spare room about two weeks before my husband’s friend decided to visit helped quite a bit in my preparations. Sometimes I’m so used to seeing a pile of papers or books that need to be put away that my eyes simply begin to gloss over them. But it’s funny how your vision “improves” when you learn company is coming. The baseboards suddenly look dirtier, the relatively organized stack of coupons looks out of control, and you realize your dinner repertoire presents about three options for both guest-worthy and foolproof meals.

Simple thoughtfulness and application of the second great commandment—what would I like to have done for me and not done for me as a guest in someone’s home?—certainly go a long way. Without it a perfect host will be like a “clanging cymbal.” But unless I ever become wealthy enough to have maids and a chef to cook us fancy French dinners every night (which I’m not sure I would actually enjoy), I think it is right and worthwhile to expend effort improving in such mundane areas as cooking and cleaning. Are they really so mundane when they make me more ready and willing to serve my family and friends out of my home, and when they are a so large a part of true homemaking?

My name is, Denise, I have been married for 9 years. My husband, Ben, and I have 4 children. I am writing this post to ask for your advice.

Ben’s sister and her husband are coming for a visit this weekend. They are the most difficult of any company that we ever have to entertain. The sister has not given her life over to Christ, but, has recently started to go to church again and is currently attending a bible study with Ben’s mother. She tends to go through a ‘religious faze” every now and then.

Her husband, however, makes no pretense at Christianity. He is an open enemy of the Lord and quite frequently tells people that God has turned His back on them. The last time that Ben’s sister tried to spend time reading her bible and in prayer her husband was so discouraging to her that she finally gave it up. He has now gone so far as to tell her that he is ‘sick of her family and their church bit’.

My question is how can we be hospitable hosts to them while they are with us, and yet be bold enough to tell them the truth that we know they need to hear?

June 2017
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