I’ve been writing a lot about minimalism lately – how it applies to my closet, my parenting, and the holidays. I thought I’d change it up and talk about an area where I’d rather not be minimal: hospitality.
Last year, Josh and I felt called to move to a large old house where we’d have space to entertain and offer people a place to stay. Most of our regular visitors are independent musicians in touring bands (this website connects us with them) but we also host through our church for conferences and mission trips. We had one friend live with us a few months, and two foreign exchange students for their spring break.
We’re the kind of über-practical people who like to save on heating and electric bills, home repairs and mortgages. So on the one hand it felt a bit crazy to move our small family into a 100-year-old house with 4 bedrooms. We felt that going larger only made sense if the home was going to be used as a ministry. So we each prayed about it before moving forward and God spoke to our hearts that this was the place – that if we opened wide our home, He would fill it.
We’ve been very intentional not to acquire more possessions just to fill square footage. The things we did acquire – several free beds, lots of used dishes, and a lovely old dining room set – are for the purpose of being hospitable.
Some minimalists say you don’t need more than one place setting per family member, or more than one towel per person. That brand of minimalism just won’t work for us! I believe in hosting without the use of disposable products, so that means having enough secondhand cups, plates, and silverware for a crowd. (One example of frugality and minimalism contradicting. I write about this in an upcoming post.) Some people don’t use their crock pots and can consider donating them to save space. I, on the other hand, own two large crock pots and could seriously use at least one more!
Minimalism means different things to different people and it all has to do with priorities. We have a fairly large towel collection for our family, but it’s just the right amount when there’s a band staying.
I have a passion for cooking for large groups of people. I don’t make fancy or expensive things. My favorite recipes are vegan and spicy, with coconut milk, veggies, beans, and rice as main ingredients. That’s the difference between “entertaining” and “hospitality” as defined by one of my favorite bloggers Kalie at Pretend to be Poor. Entertaining is about the food. Hospitality is about the people. If it’s a last-minute request from a friend who needs a place to crash, I don’t stress about running to the store and fixing a fancy three-course dinner. I throw some extra tomatoes and kale in our own dinner and say “come on over!”
I’d rather have the people in my home feel comfortable, not “entertained.” It means helping yourself to the coffee and tea, and playing with my toddler (who’s all the entertainment you’d ever need!) I’ve seen people stress about hosting because they think they need lots of fancy wine, a cheese platter, and gourmet appetizers. While these things are nice, they aren’t necessary for every gathering! Don’t let the idea that you need to spend a lot keep you from inviting folks over!
I love that being hospitable is a way for me to minister and connect with people without even leaving my home. Since I have small children it’s difficult in this season for me to get out and garden, work on houses, tutor, or serve in a homeless shelter. I think of this home as my main ministry. I try my best to be present for my children and Josh everyday, which can be difficult. Serving our families and being content in that role is sometimes the hardest of all! At the same time, we extend the invitation to anyone who needs a little community and family time. Our family has grown to include people all over the country.
It’s important to remember that things don’t have to be perfect before you open up your home. If you’re waiting for the perfect home or perfect setup, you’ll never actually do it. You don’t have to put it off. You might make some mistakes – we all do – but you’ll figure it out, and your setup will improve. Everyone doesn’t need their own personal bathroom. Many travelers are fine sleeping on floors, provided it’s clean! They just need to know you’re available.
Sharing our home and opening it up allows for organic relationships to form. People are less guarded in a house than they are in public. Facilitating these kinds of relationships fills me up in ways I can’t describe. As I write this, I just had eight wonderful men and women stay the night. Today I am full and blessed. No matter where I’m supposed to be in five or ten years, right now I’m supposed to be right here. In this place. With an open home.
So if you’re reading this and feeling the least bit inspired, feel free to send me a message or setup a visit! I’ll brew some tea and we can talk about ways that you too can open up your home, no matter the size.