Hospitality is not always pretty, easy, or comfortable. Today I’m sharing a true story from a woman who wrote to me a couple months ago. I thought it was impacting, encouraging, and a real-life story too good to not share.

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As a product of a bitter, nasty divorce, I have had to learn many things on my own – especially anything concerning hospitality or making friends and family feel at home around a dinner table. I determined in my own heart that I wanted my family to experience more love, laughter, and a sense of belonging around the family table so I started watching a couple dear friends from church and how they made simple, flavorful meals for their family. Everyone would come together and share their day over good food. I knew I had to start there – making meals a time for my family to come together and stay connected on a daily basis as a family. It was an important part of who I am and who I became. I am a self-taught chef. I had lived out on my own at 15 years old.

By watching older women in my church, and various shows on TV, I saw the importance of making meal times a foundation to build family time around. A 30 year marriage, three children with their spouses and seven – going on eight grandchildren later, I think I discovered some success with my plan, and the amazing love of older women who gave me some guidance when I was just learning how to be a young single mom at 17. I am blessed with a family who loves me. Now I love to have people over to dinner to show them someone cares for them as well.

It’s important to me to reach out to someone who may be as lonely as I have been in the past, or that is going through a job layoff as my husband has, or a physical disability as I am with MS.

There were times my kids would call from church and tell me there was a mission group sharing their testimony and would I mind if they brought a few people over for lunch. Next thing I knew, we would have up to fifty people over sharing a meal. It was awesome. I am thankful my kids felt they had a home they could bring friends to. I never knew that feeling growing up. I lived in fear and shame. God is an amazing God.

Love is too great a gift not to share!

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I appreciate what this reader wrote about “determining in her heart.”

Hospitality often starts with a spark of inspiration, found in our hearts.

There is something in us that wants to do more, reach out, engage, help others–often with love, warmth, and food–so I wrote out a few reasons why hospitality matters.

Why hospitality matters:

1. It’s a result of our heart’s promptings.

2. It’s a desire to stay connected with our family and friends.

3. It’s a part of who we becoming.

4. We become better people when we learn by watching and interacting with others.

5. We become better people when we’re hospitable (even when we’re experiencing our own pain), because we are giving of ourselves.

6. It’s a cure for the lonely.

7. It’s one of the most powerful and tangible expressions of love, often made through body-nourishing food.

What is one thing you’ve learned about hospitality, either in your own home, or by watching others?

Sandy Coughlin is a wife and mom of three teenagers, and is the voice behind Reluctant Entertainer, a hospitality blog dedicated to helping people in search of a lifestyle that says, “I can do this!”. Her book, The Reluctant Entertainer, is available in bookstores or online, which helps women get past their entertaining fears. Visit Sandy's blog at ReluctantEntertainer.com for more information.

The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality by Sandy Coughlin
Copyright © 2010; ISBN 9780764207501
Published by Bethany House Publishers

 Publication date: July 12, 2012