Hospitality and Children

In the day and age of cell phones, busy schedules and so much on-the-go, old fashioned visiting and having company over has really fallen by the wayside. It wasn’t that long ago that days “out” consisted of spending afternoons at the neighbors’ or visiting on porches in the summer: now everyone is cocooned  in their own little houses and share pictures of their life on Instagram.

Visiting over leisurely dinners is a precious gift. Inviting people to your home is a way of showing them an intimate piece of yourself. Whenever we get invited out, it is a very BIG deal to us. The kids talk about it for days in anticipation, I relish the outing and the visit with ADULTS, and it just adds a little bit of nourishment to our souls. When you have a bigger family, or maybe your “circle” just doesn’t do that type of thing, you may have to start a trend yourself. Here are some easy tips for having people over, when you feel a bit overwhelmed.IMG_1409.JPG

  1. Invite two groups. I always invite people in multiples. Either two single people, or two couples, two families, etc. That way, if handsome hubby and I are both busy with a child (they outnumber us, so it WILL happen at some point in the visit) the conversation can be carried on without us. It may sound harder to have more people, but I find that things flow easier.
  2. Keep it simple. Right now is the perfect season for outdoor barbecues! The house will require limited cleaning before and after, the menu can be easy, and it’s just more relaxing all around. Spilled juice is no big deal outside.
  3. Research. Do they have allergies or intolerances? Make sure to know that before you start cooking. Sending someone to the hospital is never a great ending to an evening. Also, try to think of a couple things going on in your guests’ lives that you can ask about, and even tell your children so that they might participate in the conversation. Usually, our kids are assigned one question each (at least) to ask of the guests. With our oldest, I have been teaching him to ask follow up questions. For example: “Where do you work at?” “What do you like about it?”  It helps them become conversationalists, too.
  4. Menu. Make something easy, affordable and in bulk. I ran out of food at one big get together (there were three surprise guests, in my defense, but I’ll never live it down!) I like to serve things that will go far- soup, spaghetti, turkey with the sides, etc. Anything you can add lots of sides to goes over well with different allergies and tastes. Think salads, finger foods, breads, chopped vegetables.
  5. Prep. The more you can do ahead of time, the better. My favourite evenings are the ones where I made all the food up the day before, so that during the day I could clean up and spend time with the children, and keep my focus where it should be. This way the kids could be more involved- they’ve collected leaves from outside for the table, made name cards for the guests, pictures to gift them when they leave- but there needs to be a sense of peace and time in order to have fun in this way.
  6. Drop it. If you start to get stressed by the condition of your home, the food, anything- check your heart. Romans 12:10-13 says:”Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;  not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” In opening your home to others, you are showing God’s love. Don’t lose focus on that and try to “get it all done.” He doesn’t care about the state of our homes nearly so much as the state of our heart. He doesn’t care that dinner is burnt, but that you made it in love. He is our only Audience- do all you do for His glory.
  7. Pray. Pray over your home before they arrive; involve your children. It is so important that our homes are shelters in the storms, and places where people feel safe. Pray for your guests, pray for your children. Pray for your meatloaf, if you think it needs it.
  8. Relax. Have fun! If people made time out of their busy schedules to come to your home, they obviously value time spent with you. That is the highest honour, when time is so dear and treasured. So don’t worry if the kids start fighting at the table, or ask a super embarrassing question, or forget to shut the door when they use the bathroom. It’s part of your charm!
  9. Start small. Dinner sound like too much? Have guests over for coffee on a Sunday night. They probably won’t stay as long, some baking or a quick snack is plenty, and it’s a great way to ease into the process.
  10. Activity. If you can incorporate a game or activity into it, all the better! One of our family’s favourite times was spent at a couple’s house who helped the kids make all their own individual pizzas. It was a time to be treasured!

 

Hospitality is something that I don’t practice as much as I’d like. There is something about breaking bread with friends and people you don’t know that well that adds a specialness to your week, and your relationship. This summer, I am going to make it a goal to have three different occasions before the end of August to encourage our children on how to be good hosts, and to give some friends and acquaintances a night out. Who’s with me? I’d love to hear your best stories- good times, crazy times, and embarrassing times- when you have tried to be a good host!

Ordering My Days

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Each day we are given 24 hours, or 1 440 minutes, or 86 400 seconds. I’m embarrassed to say that I have squandered a great deal of them. “Presence” is my theme this year. I wanted to spend more time in Jesus’ presence, and actively participate in the presence of those around me. When you have an extremely analytic mind (like me!), a great deal of your time is spent in the the peace and quiet of your own happy space. I love to just think. About everything. You know that meme about an internet browser with hundreds of tabs open? That’s me. I don’t think any good comes of it, I just think that I overthink. And then overthink about overthinking. Sigh.

Five years ago last week, I quit smoking for good! Yay! The anniversary came and went, because I have been battling another addiction. When I quit smoking, I played a game of Scrabble every night with my HH. It didn’t matter if we were out till 11:00 with youth or activities, we came home and played that game. It was super important. I HAD to play every night. Eventually, the toxins left my body, and the routine changed. Especially as we welcomed our precious second son into the world. I never have cravings anymore, and I haven’t had any dreams of smoking (Waking up in a panic thinking, “WHY??? OH NO! I started smoking again! I can’t believe I did that. Oh my goodness. I’m going to be hooked again. My HH is going to be so disappoi- wait. I’m in bed. Ugh. Whew. I’m safe.”) I can’t believe how much smoking, like all addictions, completely prey on your mind.

Now I’ve replaced it. I’m addicted to social media. I’ve tried a few things. An addiction group on Facebook. It didn’t seem to help. Mostly, because it was on Facebook. Seemed to defeat the purpose. I tried an app for IPhone called Limiter. It will only let you on the site for a certain amount of time per day, or a certain amount of times on the site. But you had to use Facebook through that app, rather than the original. Didn’t work. I tried distraction. You know: housework, laundry. That didn’t work. I didn’t spend a lot of time at once, but I would spend five minutes here, three minutes there. When I started keeping track, it made me mad. Imagine having that time to do something that gave me genuine joy- like scrapbooking, card making, reading, chatting with a friend, etc. And if you’ve been following this blog you know that I have struggled with my phone for over a YEAR. Literally. It’s been a year since I rolled my car and contemplated how much my phone takes over.

So, I had to quit all my fun groups. The ones that involve a lot of debating and thinking. I’m still kinda sad. I also had to get rid of the friends who are interesting. So if you saw this post, congrats! You didn’t make the cut! Just kidding. Actually, the only thing that’s going to help me is good, ol’ self control. I wish there was an easier way. I literally have to leave my phone in rooms I’m not in because I’m not strong enough to resist the urge to check my notifications. I have to schedule my day, so that I know what to do next. Same as with smoking. Sometimes I wonder if I get so overwhelmed by all the things I can’t get done today, I decide to start none of them. Makes perfect sense, right?

So that’s where I am. Right now, the laundry’s done. We ROCKED homeschool today, with lots of experiments and tie ins. It was great. The house is clean, reasonably. Don’t look under the couch or anything, but otherwise, it’s in ship shape. The book, “Large Family Logistics” by Amy Brenneman was so helpful in making a routine to get done everything I need to do each day, week, and month. You know, if I do it. I’m reading a book, for the first time in awhile. I think Facebook feels like reading, so then I don’t. I do miss seeing all the exciting things other people do, but I like that everything that needs to be done, is. 

I’ve been meditating on Psalm 90. Especially verses 10-12.

10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I want a heart of wisdom SO bad. I must stop settling for mediocrity in my time, for that is where my life is.

I will rest when it’s time to rest.

I will play when it’s time to play.

I will work when it’s time to work.

I will speak when it’s time to speak.

I will listen when it’s time to listen.

And the time to listen is NOW.

 

Rollovers and I Phones

Six weeks ago, I rolled the family vehicle. Despite the title, I wasn’t on my phone. I have never been in an accident like that, so it really shook me up. I wouldn’t say that it was a near death experience or anything, because I, and our beautiful unborn baby, were completely unharmed. Not a scratch. But it was still very scary. It seemed like I was spinning in slow motion, and I can still remember my completely random thoughts.

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Oh great. Now the baby will be breech again.

Oh man. My kids are going to miss me so much. (My hubby is really handsome, and I know that he will find a much better replacement. If this comment is still here at posting, he didn’t make me delete it.)

Please, Lord, I don’t want it to hurt. I don’t mind coming to see you, but I really don’t want to hurt. (Apparently, I have an aversion to pain.)

I wasn’t afraid to die. I remember thinking in the days after, wow. I have such peace about where I am in my life. I know where I’m going, who I will get to see again. I know I am exactly where the Lord wants me. There is such comfort in that. It was beautiful to read messages from friends who were worried, and to know how loved I am. My heart was filled to overflowing with love from everyone on facebook, phone calls, hugs from friends. What an overwhelming time that was- but a good kind. I didn’t know how much I meant to some people. I heard over and over, how blessed I was, how God had his hand on me. All true, obviously. And I love having a God that looks after every part of my life.

But.

I know a lot of people who have died in accidents. And a lot that have lost people that they love. I have been following some old friends of mine on facebook who have lost a sister, a daughter, at way too young an age. Are they not blessed? Where was God there? Do I presume to answer that question in a random blog, when I have absolutely no theology training, and when even those who do, cannot come close to justifying this very question with a quick answer? No. I know God loves me as much as that little girl, her family, and all His children. I know His plans for me are very different than his plans for anyone else. I can’t compare them to anyone else’s. I know that nothing comes to me that God hasn’t allowed. And I know that every single thing that God allows, good and bad, is for my overall good, even if I don’t understand it.

And we know that in all things God workfor the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

And I know these things are true for my friends. The ones that said goodbye way too early, and live in heartache everyday. Their plan is much different than mine, but God knows both their pain, and why He has allowed it. This is a very basic, yet so difficult, part of our Christian faith.

So now I am left to wonder. What was the point of this completely random event? I have prayed through a lot of my fears, like if I were to die, what would happen to my family? To our children? And I know that God loves them more than I do, and that He would make His purpose known eventually. Don’t get me wrong. They really like me. I rarely go to the bathroom without attempted social visits. I am the only one who can find things, who knows the daily schedule, and can completely erase nightmares and boo-boos. I know I would be missed. Their hearts would break. There would be a gaping hole. But I have complete faith that God knows this. And He will take care of them, better than I can anyways! The thought of leaving my family still frightens me, but I know that God would be stepping in to take my place. And He has some mighty small shoes to fill!

It wasn’t to make me write out a bucket list. It wasn’t to deal with my fear of death. I may be afraid of pain, but who likes it? There’s treatment for that! No, it was to help me live. I am not afraid to die, but now I wonder if I have been really, honest-to-goodness living.

I forgot to mention that my cellphone has been broken for a week. No internet (till my HH comes home at night!) no contact numbers, no Words with Friends. How on earth is this related? Now I feel like I’m getting it.

I need to live, and by living, simply be.

To be in the moment with our children.

To spot a disagreement, before it’s a fight.

To watch them engrossed in an activity.

To focus on one thing at a time.

In the novel I’m reading right now, the old lady says, “I don’t know why folks say they’re so busy. In my day we didn’t call it busy. We called it living.” I pride myself on my ability to multitask. I can plan meals for the week, read a story to the Pretty One, and nurse our Beautiful One, get up to answer the phone, and swing right back into things without missing a beat. I never realized I was missing the Pretty One’s expression, or the way she knows what’s coming in the story. Or the sound of the Beautiful One sucking contentedly. I needed this stupid phone to break to realize the price I was paying to try and beat my friends score, even though I had only vowels. To know the weather for the week, but not how the fight started. I took pictures, but I didn’t live the memories.
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I was never glued to my phone. I was only on for a few minutes at a time, at random times during the day when the kids were busy with something, or I had my coffee times. It sounds so ridiculously cliche, and maybe this is all for me, and no one else will ever get anything out of it. Maybe the point of this is to humble myself, and tell you that this is an area I didn’t know was an issue for me. All I know is that I needed to tell it. Six weeks ago I rolled my car, last week I broke my phone, and although this week has been so hard, filled with no sleep. sickness, laundry, screaming children, and a couple bouts of Mommy crying, I know one thing for certain.

I didn’t miss a thing.