Hospitality has been on my mind a lot lately as I have read through the first two chapters of Sally and Sarah Clarkson's new book: The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming.
The book describes how Sally Clarkson created a home that was a place of refuge, a place of comfort, and a respite for her family. Her daughter, Sarah, shares memories of their home, while they both elaborate on why they feel called to encourage mothers, specifically, to create a home that nourishes their own family.
Let me preface by saying that I do not have a home like I imagine the Clarksons did.
Neither classical music nor celtic melodies are usually on in my home. We have way more coffee than tea and scented candles tend to give me a headache. Additionally, I have two little boys who have light sabers on their person more than pants. They are more likely to great a guest with, "On-guard ye scurvy swabs" (we mix our Star Wars and pirate play around here) than, "Let me take your coat."
But, the thing that resonates with me in this book is the call to serve my children and husband. You see, I am decent at neighborly hospitality. I take seriously Christ's call in Romans 12:13 to "[s]hare with the Lord's people who are in need." I love inviting people over for a cup of coffee and usually have some baked good ready to come out of the oven while they are here. I have no qualms about letting in a relative stranger to see my bathrooms that perpetually have toothpaste dried on the side of the sink - even if I just cleaned them the night before. I love hosting gatherings, dinners, community group, play dates, etc... I love the sight of shoes and coats strewn by my front door. I love the pile of dishes in the sink at the end of the night. I even love the toys left out or put back in the wrong spot. It is all evidence of friends, family, and community.
And, while I am decent at inviting in our proverbial neighbor, I sometimes forget that my children and husband are my neighbors too. I gladly pick up after other people's children, but fuss at my own after a day of exuberant creative play. I love how Sally shares how she dedicated her precious time to meeting the needs of her own children in her home. She made sure there was space for their quiet places, even when space was in high demand. She fed their never-ending hunger with food prepared and served in the same loving manner that she would serve a guest. She read, snuggled, and loved on her children in their own home until they felt safe and secure enough to go outside their four walls and share the love they felt within their own home with others.
I want that for my kids.
I want them to look forward to coming home after a day at a friends. I want them to want to be here. I want my home to be a soft place to land and a safe place from which to launch. This book has challenged me to serve my family with the same enthusiasm and love that I serve my friends. It has challenged me to be intentional in how I create that place, that space, for my children to be served. After reading it, I am inspired to hug my kids a little tighter, kiss my husband a little more enthusiastically, make soft pillows for read-aloud time, slow down and listen to my kids more, and to serve Jesus as I serve those He put in my life. (It also made me really want a warm cup of tea.)