On ACCEPTING Hospitality, Plus Giveaway Results!

I mentioned last week that I’ve been in the hospital and on bed rest the past couple of weeks.  After I’m released from bed rest, I’ll still have to cut back or limit activities and I’m working on what that will look like for the next eight weeks or so.  Meanwhile, I have asked for help.

Yes, you read that right.  And yes, it was hard.

It’s hard to admit that we just can’t handle things, that things were already kind of hanging by a thread before I got sick.  It’s humbling to admit that you’re not just “doing great, thanks!” when you’re dealing with unemployment and hospitalization on top of regular household tasks and homeschooling and a bunch of other stuff.

But it sort of dawned on me, as I sat in the hospital trying not to listen too closely to the heart rate monitor so I wouldn’t freak myself out, in commanding us to show hospitality, God implies that we sometimes need to accept it too.

Like most people, I have tended to see hospitality as sort of sanctified entertaining.  I have made a lot of meals for other people, but never really connected that to hospitality.  I’m grateful that while I was in the hospital I read 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality, which describes hospitality as so much more than dinner parties, and instead as a way to build community and comfort and encourage each other.

So although it was uncomfortable and humbling for me, I accepted my mother’s offer to come stay with us, I accepted meals from our church family and other friends, I took a friend up on an offer to make some gluten-free baked goods for Sarah, and another friend’s offer to come over and clean our bathrooms.  I’m not going to lie to you, I had to fight my pride on these things.  I wanted so badly to say “never mind, I will handle it myself!”  But seeing that deeper definition of hospitality also opened my eyes to the fact that we are blessed to have family and friends who are willing to offer us the heart of hospitality–to come alongside us when things are falling apart and pray for us and offer us help and encourage us with tangible comfort.

The privilege of accepting the gift of hospitality has opened my eyes to ways that I can offer hospitality to others in the future.  Yes, I need to open my home for meals and visitors, but also I need to use the margin I’m carving out now out of necessity to be ready to creatively serve others when they need help or encouragement later.  I’m so grateful for the hospitality others have shown us, and I’m looking forward to finding ways to offer that comfort and encouragement with a true heart of hospitality.

Sheila and Elizabeth won the giveaway copies of 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality!  If you didn’t win, don’t despair!  You can still get your own copy of 31 Days to Heart of Hospitality.  If you read the book, come back and let us know what you learn from it!

Have you ever found yourself desperately needing hospitality?  Was it hard to ask for help?  What did you learn from it?


Many thanks to Edie from Life in Grace for offering this giveaway!

31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality – Review and Giveaway!

If you read Edie Wadsworth’s blog, Life in Grace, you quickly get a sense of her gift for combining the thoughtful, spiritual, and inspirational with down-to-earth style and practical tips.  In her new e-book, 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality, Edie uses the same approach, creating a book that gets to the center of why we feed and care for our families and neighbors, why we strive to make our homes beautiful and welcoming places of refuge, and how to put hospitality into practice while maintaining the right motivation and attitude.

Since my word of the year is “connect” I appreciated how the book began with our need for connection, and how it ties in to biblical commandments to feed and clothe and love our neighbor.  Hospitality, Edie writes, is not so much about entertaining (although using your best china and making pretty table settings can be a way to encourage and show people we value them) but about taking the time to really consider others, and to welcome them into your life and help meet their needs, physical and relational.

Another great aspect of the book is how Edie progresses from hospitality as a spiritual concept, to how it impacts our marriages and children.  I was challenged by the idea that we have to be hospitable to our families, not just friends and neighbors.

In addition to a strong spiritual and theoretical foundation, the book includes a lot of practical ideas for ways to make your home more welcoming, make your kitchen, living areas, and guest rooms more useable, and make your preparations for hospitality smoother so you can spend more time enjoying and encouraging your guests.

Throughout the book, I found encouraging and convicting things to think about.  As the title claims, the book really does seek to get to the heart of hospitality–why we do it and what the point is–and I found that very helpful.  You may feel like it’s important to teach your kids manners, or have people over for dinner, or invite someone to stay with you for  a weekend.  But sometimes it’s helpful to really consider the reason behind those things, so we can focus on serving others rather than impressing them, and really build connections and community rather than just putting on the dog.

While some of the content in 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality will be familiar to Edie’s blog readers, at 117 pages the e-book contains a lot of additional content, especially the deeper and more challenging aspects and implications of hospitality.


Edie graciously offered two giveaway copies for readers of A Spirited Mind.  If you’d like to win a copy of 31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality, leave a comment and let us know one aspect of hospitality you think you do well, or one that you struggle with.  The giveaway will be open until February 13.


Disclosure: Edie sent me a complimentary review copy of the e-book, but the opinions in this review are my own.


Word of the Year – Connect

I recently attended a party where, for some reason, I felt free to be myself.  I had great conversations about homeschooling and books and writing and cheese.  I did not put on the “reserved and quiet” persona I often adopt in an attempt not to offend anyone.  And it felt good.  As I drove home, it struck me that although I had just met a few of those people, they had a better sense of who I am from that one event than do many people who I have seen on a weekly basis for years.  At some point I got out of the habit of really connecting with people, and I feel this as a lack–a lack of real friendships, a lack of community, a lack of the support people can only give if they know the real you.

As I thought through goals for 2013 I realized that this theme of connection was the common denominator to nearly everything I had on my list.  I feel strongly that 2013 needs to be a year when I focus on connecting–with God, my family, and with friends and neighbors.

Taking a cue from Gretchen Rubin, I made a short (for me, anyway) list of resolutions that tie specific actions to the overall theme word connect.  Some relate to my spiritual life, some to my marriage, some to my children, some to my work, and some to my friends and community.  Instead of just saying “I want to make 2013 about connecting” I made a list of concrete, attainable steps I can take on a daily or weekly basis that will hopefully, by year’s end, have resulted in growth and connection.

My word of the year in 2012 was “brilliant,” in the sense of striking, multi-faceted, bold, and glittering.  In hindsight, I’m not sure that’s how things turned out.  As the year happened, I had some major shifts in plans, changes in circumstances, adjustment of attitudes, and overhauling of goals.  I’m not disappointed in the year, and there were small pockets of brilliant moments, but if I had to remember 2012 by a word it would probably be “re-evaluate” rather than “brilliant.”

And that’s OK.  As Johanna wrote helpfully about not being a slave to our goals, it’s all right to take stock and change goals midstream.  I also love this quote I read on Keren’s blog:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.  –Neil Gaiman

In 2013 I’m probably going to make mistakes as I push toward connecting.  I’ll change my goals and change my mind and hopefully grow in the process.  I love that life is not static, and that we can always count on curve balls.  And I love that we don’t have to fear change and risk, because God is sovereign and He has our best in mind.

If you distill your goals into a word of the year, what did you choose for 2013? Here’s to a wonderful, challenging, connected year no matter what your goals!