Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

Real-Life Hospitality: Come on into My Mess!


real life hospitalityI’ve decided it’s okay to invite people into my mess. Nothing builds community like opening our homes to friends and family, but Pinterest images of artistic decor and scrumptious food can intimidate us. Our living rooms definitely don’t look pin-worthy, and on top of that, we’re too busy to have company.

Living in Turkey, my family and I are surrounded by people who slow down enough to make time for community.  Turks ask you all the time just to drop by, and they are genuinely happy when you do. Their hospitality varies from elaborate, formal meals to quick cups of coffee in chaotic living rooms.

Don’t Wait for Perfect

If I have to wait for the perfect time and conditions, hospitality is never going to happen around here. Ideally, I’d like time to clean my house spic and span, get out to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a scrumptious meal, and then actually cook, but those three conditions almost never happen at the same time, so I’ve given up on perfect.

That means my brand of hospitality is sometimes messy.  Over the years, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to let go of perfection. Imagine the following scenarios:

  • You open the oven to take out the chicken you baked for your guests, but it’s stone-cold raw. (Surprise!) You forgot to turn on the oven.)
  • You’re serving tea to neighbors you just met, and your slip slides out from under your skirt into a perfect ring around your feet. You wonder how on earth to make it disappear without anyone noticing. (This actually happened, for crying out loud. Can you believe it?)
  • You’re running late, but your breakfast guests arrive early. You take a deep breath, invite them into the kitchen, and finish prepping your ingredients. When you’re finally ready to start cooking, you realize the gas tank that fuels your stove is empty. (Another surprise!) You hope no one will keel over from starvation while you wait another 45 minutes.

From situations like these, I’ve learned to try to relax and enjoy my guests, whatever happens. Even if the food isn’t ready until one and a half hours after they’ve arrived, people can still have fun.

Build Community

We live far away from family, but inviting friends over has enabled us to build a community network that has grown to be like a family over the years.  My kids love it. When they were little they would ask, “Is anyone coming over tonight?”

Show Love

Opening your home speaks louder than any words.  Just the other day I was surprised when a new Christian told me one thing that encouraged his spiritual life was being invited to our home for holiday dinners for the past three years. Food and family rituals are powerful communicators of love.

The upcoming holiday season may bring Pinterest images to our minds, but I want to encourage you. When it comes to hospitality, don’t wait for perfect. Takeout pizza on paper plates and ice cream from the freezer can make for a lovely meal in the company of friends.

Now it’s your turn. Will you have any guests over the holidays? Do you enjoy hospitality, or does it scare you?

(Re-edited from my archives)

Linking up with Equipping Godly Women



Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

33 thoughts on “Real-Life Hospitality: Come on into My Mess!

  1. Great post, I too want to focus more and more on a welcoming loving home, and embrace this as a far higher goal that clean and tidy! Your chicken story made me smile – we had a similar experience the first time we hosted Christmas! The oven was on…but the turkey was hardly cooked at all….we had a very late lunch!
    I really enjoy having people in our home. I used to want everything to be ‘perfect’ and cook amazing food, but now I like to cook simple (hopefully still delicious!) meals that mean I can be relaxed and enjoy hospitality.

    • Yes, I’ve had that kind of Thanksgiving, too Victoria! Salvadorans cover their turkey in a delicious roasted pepper, onion, garlic and tomato sauce, and the first year I did that for my husband (Salvadoran), I didn’t realize it would add an hour or so to the cooking time!

  2. Betsy,
    I LOVE the story about your slip lol. I could so see that happening to me. I used to be a perfectionist when it came to having people over, but now I invite guests to sign their name in the dust on my coffee table and then pull up a comfy chair. I know when I go to someone else’s home and everything is pristine, I begin to feel inadequate because my home doesn’t look like this. I hope when others come to my home, they know the focus is one them, they feel comfortable, and they know they are cared about. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Thank you for sharing your stories! They made me smile and think of times similar things have happened to me. You’re so right…things will NEVER be perfect! We don’t have people over much because our house is the smallest of anyone in the family, but when we do, we always end up enjoying ourselves. 🙂

  4. This is great! One time we had guests, and I just couldn’t cook enough noodles. I kept boiling water and adding noodles, but why didn’t I just cook the whole bag of them? Thankfully they were good sports! I usually like to have the dishes done and clean out the cat litter box (phew!) but sometimes it doesn’t happen, and it’s okay.

    • I’m with you Karen! I like to have kitchen counters clear and clean, but it doesn’t always happen, and I don’t think it means my guests don’t enjoy being with us just because the counters are full of dishes and cutting boards.

  5. Betsy…I agree! I made a conscious decision to have people over even when things are not tidy. I have to admit though that I still have trouble with it!

  6. I appreciate this post greatly and all the comments, too. My husband & I have the smallest house (and family!) in our extended family too, and we have had some very “cosy” get-togethers — but it’s always worth it. That’s what I have to remind myself: it’s always worth it because you make memories together. I admire you for admitting the slip thing, too! 🙂

    • Yes, Jeannie, I’m enjoying reading the comments too. That is great that you have get-togethers even though your house is small. You’re right, making memories is always worth it. (One of the most hospitable friends I know also has the smallest living room!)

  7. The slip story is priceless…I love it!! I struggle with this so much because of the mess and sometimes the awkwardness of our son Cooper and new people…I know that might sound a little less than perfect but it is true. It is easier and I prefer to have people in our home rather than taking him to someone else’s home. All of that being said I still want the perfectly clean house, nice meal etc. I am coming to realize it’s ok to just kick the stuff aside and enjoy your company. Thank you for sharing this, it’s great to have this reminder right before the holidays!

    • Thanks Beth. I can imagine how your son brings a whole new set of struggles to hospitality. Whenever we visit El Salvador, a couple with two autistic children always invites us over and we have the best time with them. Their kids are “out there” and are quite loud, but they only add to our experience of their parents’ hospitality. The kids are teens now and we’ve known them since they were kindergarten age.

  8. Betsy, I am glad you shared this again. It’s great and needed encouragement. One thing hubs and I are committed to doing more of is opening our doors more. I have struggled with the desire to be perfect first but I am tired of missing out on opportunities to build community. Thank you!! Blessings to you and your family. xoxo

  9. Betsy!
    I love this!! It is so true that perfection doesn’t make for a great gathering, authentic love does. “Food and family rituals are powerful communicators.” – phew that is profound and true all the way to my core. Thank you for this today, your timing is impeccable!
    ~ Brandi

  10. Betsy, your blog itself oozes hospitality! Thanks for the reminder that even in the suprises and messes of life–and often because of them–we welcome people into our hearts. And that’s what makes our homes so inviting and warm. I wish my mind would embrace this truth! Maybe I should start a Pinterest board showing true hospitality. That might actually be fun! Surprises, messes, and all. (Do you have a photo of the slip around your feet? Ha!) xoxo

  11. Oh, Betsy, what a wise post you have written. I’m one of those who fusses if my house is not perfect. Nevertheless, like you said, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to let go of perfection. I LOVE the funny stories you’ve shared in this post! Priceless! The story about the man you welcomed into your home for holiday meals touched my heart, too. May you have a wonderful, happy, blessed Thanksgiving!

  12. Oh my goodness, I love this post! This is definitely an attitude I have tried to go into my marriage with as we welcome friends and family over! Growing up we often didn’t have guests over because the house was ‘never clean enough,’ but I think the reality is that people really don’t care that much! They want to be loved, not shown into a museum 🙂 Wonderful post, Betsy – thank you!!

    • You are right, Jackie! I also think that the more we use what we have, the more God gives us. I’ve been using the same tea tray with the handle broken off for 6 years now! (It’s in the photo if you look closely) I don’t let it stop me.

  13. Betsy, thank you for sharing your stories of what real life hospitality looks like – SO encouraging! I’ve always described myself as hospitality-challenged but I really want to grow in this area. I’m learning – little by little. 🙂

  14. Betsy this hits right on the target for me. With a houseful of pets and two little kids, my house is always messy. And I clean all the time. I am giving up on perfect. I have the hardest time comparing myself to others. Friends have bigger houses and therefore there is more room for playgroups. Friends have newer things than I do and therefore they can provide a better gathering for women’s small groups. My comparisons go on and on. But my kids love friends and so do I, therefore I let others into our mess and we have a blast. My home is known as kids friendly place and every once in awhile we will have painting parties. Kids love our place because we have a little indoor petting zoo too. Your post really encourages me to keep my home open and to be me. I have what i have and I really do give thanks for everything, I just forget sometimes and want more. For thanksgiving we are going to a friends. Her hospitality is exactly what we need this year. My Dad died two years ago. My mom is grieving and doesn’t want to celebrate the holidays without him. I have always celebrated with my parents and siblings. So its a sad time. But my friend who is having us over is such a blessing and my kids are friends with hers. I am very thankful that my kids will have fun over thanksgiving. Hospitality indeed is a wonderful way to give.

    • Hi Lisa! I love your comment :” I have what i have and I really do give thanks for everything, I just forget sometimes and want more.” That’s me too! How wonderful that your house is open to kids. That’s bottom-line, sold out hospitality. That’s an open heart for Jesus. I’m so sorry about your dad’s passing away, but I’m so glad that your friend is having you over. I hope you and your kids have a great time.

  15. Oh this is just perfect for the upcoming Holidays! I open my home to others often for small groups and my women’s group and lots of other lovely gatherings… and I have learned the ‘art’ of hospitality is all about the ‘heart’ of hospitality!! I hate to cook, bake or clean…. HA! But I sure love me some fellowship!!! 🙂 And THAT is most important.

    (Visiting from FF link up- SO lovely to meet you, Betsy!!!)

  16. Hi Chris, I love that: the ‘art’ of hospitality is also about the ‘heart’ of hospitality. I love cooking and baking (cleaning not so much) but there are lots of times when I’m short on time and have to make do. But as you say, fellowship is what it’s all about!

  17. I love the quote from your kids, “Is anyone coming over tonight?”
    We used to live very close to a lot of family members and old friends when my children were small, and they loved having them come over all the time. Now it’s difficult with everyone’s busy lives to drive an hour to visit.
    The kids still love having company over, but these days “company” is usually their own teenage friends!
    After reading your post, I am inspired to call a friend and inquire about joining Bunco! That would be perfect for a working mom like me, as I’d get to socialize once per month, but I’d only host in my home a few times a year. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Bunco is a great idea, Deborah! My sister-in-law does that and really enjoys it. And yes, once a month is so much better than nothing, but not too hard either! That’s great that your home is open to teenaged friends. 🙂

  18. Oh how God can use the most distressing things to help us remember what’s important. I can lean toward being a Martha so I have to remind myself what hospitality is really all about. Loved your transparency.

  19. lol. These things happen! I love having people over, even if they have to see my messy house. I wish we could have people over more often!

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