People who are cooked for feel cared for.

People Who Are Cooked for Feel Cared For: 4 Helpful Hospitality Resources

We were new in church and new to the area, and our little three-bedroom fixer-upper was situated in a part of the universe in which it didn’t matter that we had been born and bred in Maine. We had not been born and bred in this part of Maine, and we had the accent (or lack of same) to prove it.

We knew we had some work to do if we were ever going to live our way into the homes and hearts of people in Mid-coast Maine. We also knew the answer was, of course, to go first — to begin inviting people for Sunday dinner or Saturday night dessert and a movie. But here’s the catch:  four babies in eight years makes for complicated math that drains the budget and strains all available time and energy for home improvement projects.

As the years passed, the fixer-upper still looked pretty un-fixed as we replaced the furnace and shingled the roof, bought little-boy sneakers, and paid for the homeschool curriculum. Even so, somehow, we knew that this was not the time to put life on hold.

In a deliberate act of hospitality, we set a goal of inviting one new couple each month for Friday night supper. We opened our door, inviting guests into our own unique chaos of high chairs and sheetrock dust, half-painted woodwork, and ugly kitchen cabinets. This was our way of opening up our life and inviting others to open theirs to us.

If one of your goals for 2023 is to open your home and open your heart more faithfully, you’ll be encouraged by the resources I’m sharing here.

Gather and Give

Amy Hannon is an advocate for “simple biblical hospitality.” Operating her own kitchen store, writing a cookbook, and serving as a pastor’s wife for twenty-eight years have given her plenty of insight into the nuts and bolts of feeding people, but, for me, the most compelling wisdom from Gather and Give was gained through her boots-on-the-ground experience of feeding teenagers and opening her home to saints and ain’ts alike. Without gloss or glitter, she paints a realistic picture of the God-sized selflessness required alongside the abundant blessing that comes to those who obey God’s command to practice hospitality.

Hannon learned the sacred practice of “intentional kitchening” from her grandmother, who knew the secret that food is merely a means to an end because “people who are cooked for feel cared for.” Since each chapter closes with a tried and true recipe, readers are mentored right away into the lifestyle of everyday hospitality.

Throwing wide the door of welcome, we embody God’s welcome and put the Gospel’s warm, life-giving hospitality on display for a world of people whose lives may be changed by one simple invitation from an open and responsive heart. When we open the door, we mirror God’s acceptance.

Hannon’s home was always open, but simple refreshments and a warm welcome transform any space into hospitality ground zero:
A blanket on the beach;
The bleachers at a ball game;
A picnic table at a state park;
Your church’s fellowship hall.

Our children received great benefits from being included in multi-generational gatherings, and we also loved hosting their friends. Everything from spontaneous gatherings around the fire pit for s’mores and firefly sightings to huge gatherings with lace tablecloths and the best dishes have been part of our family’s culture.

Whether or not hospitality is our gifting, it is clearly the calling of all believers, and from the faithful practice, we learn valuable lessons about life on a fallen planet:
Things will not always go well.
Events will not necessarily unfold according to plan.
There will be seasons in which hospitality is just not possible, and you may need to be the object of someone else’s care and love.

I’m coming away from a book that felt like a good visit with a solid challenge from Amy’s three-word mantra from 1 Peter 4:8-11: Love, Welcome, Serve. God has a way of showing up in unexpected ways, showering grace into a situation that looks hopeless, as a loving reminder that biblical hospitality is not about me.

Throwing wide the door of welcome, we embody God’s welcome and put the Gospel’s warm, life-giving hospitality on display for a world of people whose lives may be changed by one simple invitation. Open the door and mirror God’s welcome.

Have a Welcoming Heart

I can’t think or write about hospitality without mentioning my friend Sue Moore Donaldson. A gregarious redhead, she has done hospitality in more ways than I can even imagine, but none of it is complicated, and all of it springs from her desire to “change the world one cup of coffee at a time”–and apparently, tea works, too. You’ll find links to all her good work including her weekly podcast, Living a Legacy Life, HERE at her website, and this particular post is loaded with resources to boost your confidence when hosting!

And if you’ve ever shied away from practicing hospitality because you were worried about keeping the conversation going, Sue has come to your rescue with Say Something Special: 50 Conversation Starter Cards with 50 prompts to get the conversation flowing and the friendships growing. When you know your guests are going to have fun and make friends, you can feel relaxed and confident about inviting company over on a regular basis.

Asking the right question can make all the difference!
Use the Coupon Code LETSTALK to get $5 off the regular price! ORDER HERE!

If you’ve ever shied away from practicing hospitality because you were worried about keeping the conversation going, @welcomeheart has come to your rescue with 50 Conversation Starter Cards with prompts to get the conversation flowing.

The Hospitable Life

Hospitality is a deliberate decision to know the people around you from more than a polite distance.

Reading Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, I felt Jen Schmidt and the whole (in)courage team nodding and smiling in agreement that true hospitality is nothing more (and nothing less!) than “an ordinary couple [making] a deliberate decision, intent on getting to know the people around them from more than a polite distance.” In Romans 12:3, the Apostle Paul puts a strong verb in front of the word hospitality when he urges Roman believers who were facing persecution to “pursue hospitality.”

Hospitality, then, is not wild creativity on display, nor is it a demonstration of expert cooking skills. It’s a way of life that wonders:
“Whom can I love on today?”
“Who needs encouragement?”

Hospitality is not wild creativity on display, nor is it a demonstration of expert cooking skills. It’s a way of life that wonders: “Whom can I love on today? Who needs encouragement?”

Each chapter of Just Open the Door unpacks a different facet of the hospitable life with words of encouragement and stories lifted from Jen Schmidt’s own parenting, inviting, tail-gating, pot-lucking life. For every “have to” moment in your day, Jen invites you to switch the sentiment to “get to,” as in “Today, I get to change the sheets in the guest room.” A life marked by gratitude opens up the floodgates to all kinds of hospitality.

Family, Food, and Fellowship

I recently received my copy of ZiZi’s Kitchen, a collection of recipes, decorating tips, and homespun encouragement that’s sure to set you looking for Post-it Notes to mark the ideas you want to try for yourself.

The Fall/Winter 2022 debut edition covered everything from creative gift wrapping to on-the-go snacks and soup recipes to keep everyone full during cold days. Best of all, woven through the lovely presentation is the message of everyday gratitude.

I’m curious…
What’s your greatest hospitality challenge?
Are you surprised to learn that hospitality is a command and not just a gift for the gifted?
I’d love to hear about your hospitality stories (successes and “failures”!) in the comments!

Holding you in the Light,

If one of your goals for 2023 is to open your home and open your heart more faithfully, you’ll be encouraged by these resources. @welcomeheart @beautyandbedlam @ThomasNelson #GatherandGive @MitziNeely

My New Year’s Gift to You!

My first post of 2023 was a collection of blessings to pray over your loved ones at the beginning of the new year. I’ve made them available in printable format for your convenience, so to access your copy, simply click on Download or on the Printer Icon in the image to the left.

I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident Christ-followers and students of God’s Word. If that’s your goal, I want to provide strong support for you through my regular email newsletter. Simply enter your email and click the “sign me up” button to subscribe.

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no expense to you.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of Gather and Give to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash

13 thoughts on “People Who Are Cooked for Feel Cared For: 4 Helpful Hospitality Resources”

  1. I feel the challenge here, Michele! now to pick it up… especially after we move countries in a few months. I’ve missed having people over since 2020!

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    1. I think we’re all still in re-entry phase after 2020’s isolation! I’m glad to hear you’re missing the interaction. Living cross culturally will certainly be a challenge for you as you practice hospitality in your new setting, but I’m sure, too, that the connections you make will help you with the process of assimilation.

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  2. OH I really needed to read this today! We have some friends that invited our whole family to dinner last winter and I really need to reciprocate but I keep over thinking the whole thing and putting it off but really I just need to do it and know it will all be just fine and probably a whole lot of fun in the end.

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  3. I tend not to enjoy time in the kitchen when I’ve had to set aside something I enjoy more to stop and make dinner–even for my family. The thought that “people who are cooked for feel cared for” puts a whole different perspective on kitchen duty.

    My husband and I were just talking last night about the fact that people don’t seem to have others over as much as they did when we were in our 20s and 30s, even before the pandemic. Yet hospitality can be such a ministry.

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  4. Oh, how this post reminded me of our fixer-upper in a rural Maine town when our kids were little. I was a Mainer and my family were Mainers from waaay back, but this was not where I grew up and was therefore not a native. We found that by taking the first steps to meet people and get involved in town life were important. When we first moved there we weren’t Christians, but we did come to the Lord in the small church there, and their love for us changed our lives and helped us become even more a part of the community.

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  5. I love this post Michele and the ideas behind it. I have been reading a lot about Dinner Church of .late, but also thinking about fellowship meals at church. you probably now this but the early church worship was a potluck, with a liturgical attitude, that is the meal and sacrament were intertwined. I think our potlucks today are so watered down in comparison. Attending a potluck meal at church, especially after worship, most people only expect a cursory prayer, yet it seemed to me that every time food is served at church whether it is The Lord’s Table, coffee hour before or after church or an old fashioned potluck are opportunities for God to bring hearts together and draw our hearts closer to God. Michele Somerville (The Beach Girl Chrnoicles)

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  6. I think hospitality has definitely taken a beating the past 3 years. I hope it will make a resurgence. I love your story of being born and bred in Maine, but not THAT part of Maine. 🙂 The same could be said of Alabama.

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  7. Thank you for sharing these great resources. My mom was great at hospitality until she wasn’t. As she got older she kind of shut down the invitations. Her modeling has influenced me greatly. She had to have the house perfect for guests and that is ingrained in me. I am better now that I have grandkids because they don’t care. They just want to see me. I pray I learn to extend invitations for the rest of my life.

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