The Hospitality Potluck

Blogging in this season of my life is decidedly a chore. I need to find a quiet moment (which usually means getting a sitter since we have 5 amazing children at home). We’re not tech people, so the computer is never charged and hopelessly out of date. And then I have to quiet my mind enough to write when, really, there are so many more pressing things to do at home and work. However, though I’ve grown up in a generation that chooses what to eat, wear and do depending on whether or not it “sparks joy,” chores are a necessary part of life. Posting monthly-ish on this site is my meager goal, and for now, one that I’ll keep. And while it would have been easier to take a mental pass and simply post about the best things to do or eat or buy in Lancaster, today I felt the Lord asking me to share from my heart.

Hospitality. A word that, quite honestly, stirs up a sense of inadequacy inside of me. The dictionary defines it as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors and strangers.” And while I can set a pretty table, prepare a simple spread of food and provide a tidy space for guests to kick up their feet, I often feel tired by the time it comes to the “entertainment” part. Maybe it’s my season of life, my personality, or just the nature of true hospitality, but it’s not always easy to simultaneously connect with and serve people. I want to have good conversation and then, whoops, the chicken is burning and the 2-year-old just knocked over the water pitcher and the baby is crying and…what were we talking about again? I sigh because this wasn’t how I wanted things to look.

Here’s what I’m learning, though. Hospitality doesn’t have to be a one man show, and it’s always more about the heart and less about appearances. If I stop trying to do it all myself, stop trying to make it “look” a certain way, the joy of hospitality is restored. Enter the good old-fashioned potluck where everyone brings something, and suddenly, there’s time and energy left over for the “entertainment” part. If I add in something store bought, skip the fancy tablescape, and loosen up on my expectations, inviting others in to our home becomes a blessing (though I love fancy tablescapes). I can’t control the spilled water or the crying, but I can enjoy the company. And as my mom says, “food that you didn’t make yourself always tastes better.”

When the Lord called my family into the hospitality industry, I was overwhelmed. Purchasing The Carriage House meant we wouldn’t be providing hospitality to just one couple or family, but many! I looked around and saw tasks and projects at every turn and wondered how we would complete them while learning to run a new business and care for our guests. This all felt like too much. But guess what we’ve learned? The potluck concept applies here, too.

Instead of bringing food, we have a team that brings their gifts together to provide a place for our guests to call “home” in Lancaster County. One has a mind for numbers and finances, another has an eye for design. One brings the large scale vision, another focuses on the details. One quietly weeds and prays over the property, another welcomes guests with enthusiasm and warmth. It’s not a one man show, it’s a group effort, and each contribution is necessary and important. And while we still have plenty of visual improvements to make around the property, our guests are greeted with a genuine “friendly and generous reception” when they walk in the door. Here, too, hospitality is more about the heart and less about appearances.

How have you grown in the area of hospitality? What challenges do you experience as you open your home (or business) to serve others? Have you experienced the beauty of a group effort? What hospitality tips do you have to share below?