About the Author

Jana is a wife, mother, writer, lover of adventures and all things creative. She lives in daily awe of the grace that deems her complete in Christ.

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  1. I enjoyed this. Recently, I wrote a practice proclamation. A few of the key points…Practice makes prepared. Only Jesus makes perfect. The idea that practice makes perfect is a lie that leads to despair. Yet practice is the most important thing you can do because it prepares you for what comes next. Get up. Keep going. Try again another day. Practice Love. Practice Hope. Practice patience. Practice Kindness. We can even add practice hospitality. 🙂

    • Sarah…you are a woman after my own heart. I struggle with the perfectionistic mindset so much. I would feel so discouraged over all my failures. But God is teaching me that all my “practicing” happens in his massive safety net of love and grace.

      In all our many failures, there is no condemnation in Christ! So we can keep going with joy no matter how many of those failures we can seem to pile up some days!

  2. Great post! I want to run something by you though, maybe I need a impartial sounding board to flesh this out. So, I am a housewife & mom, but my son goes to school during the day. During that time he is at school, I LOVE to have other stay-at-home moms over for coffee and carbs 😉 Or even invite over neighbors who I know stay at home all day and might need some attention/friendship. The thing is, NOT ONE has invited me over to their house to do the same. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I have a gift to help others feel cared for by pampering them with coffee and homemade bread. I like to think of it as a “little oasis” from the busyness of life & motherhood. But, I guess I’m a little hurt. Does that make sense? I don’t believe I’m expecting a return invitation every time. Far from it. Because I enjoy what I do.

    A number of moms with young kids have commented on how “clean” my house is (ha, if they only knew). Maybe they don’t want to have me over because they think my standards are too high? That sounds outrageous to me, but I’m not sure what to think. I hope to be a friend that shows grace & acceptance no matter where you are in life.

    I guess I’m giving “the other side” of hospitality. I hope this doesn’t sound too petty, but I wonder if anyone else can relate? I have resolved, however, to keep using my gift and keep inviting these lovely friends into my home for a morning respite. Even if I never get a return invite 🙂

    • When I was entertaining a lot, I rarely had an invite back. But, people did like to come over, and be loved on and pampered. That is a gift!

      People are intimidated by things having to be “perfect” in their homes. Fly Lady has a phrase CHAOS. “Can’t have anyone over syndrome” I know that is my holding back right now. I don’t care about a little clutter, but we are talking about a lot of clutter in my home, and will take a lot of time to put things back into a semblance of order, and I’m feeling overwhelmed.

      For some reason, people also as the article mentioned feel the need to repeat something fancy and really don’t have the time. To many people, homemade bread is fancy; people rarely make homemade bread anymore. Even in a bread machine, it takes time. (I know this because I used to make all of my own bread until my husband had to go off gluten for his health and to manage pain)

      It’s not a competition, but people do feel as though they have to reciprocate in the same way or it’s not good enough. It’s not you, it’s them.

      I can’t tell you what you should do, but, because I wanted to be with people, and be friends, I still had people over anyway. They like me, the conversation, and because of that still came over. It makes sense to feel hurt, but they like you, or they wouldn’t come over to your home again after one visit if they felt unwelcome! They feel pampered and cared for so they come over and enjoy you!

      • I totally agree with you Joanne. I liked what you said about inviting people over and how they loved coming and being pampered. I guess we all have times in our lives when we’re more in need of receiving ministry from others. And at other times, God strengthens us to be the ones ministering to others.

    • Oh friend, you have no idea how well I hear you.

      I have spent years in a season of loneliness in which I felt that I was reaching out to a number of different people who seemed to like me enough, but never reached back. I told my husband I wanted to move. I cried out to God for help. I just plain cried. It’s only recently that I finally feel like I am coming out of this season. So I know firsthand the discouragement you’re feeling.

      It sounds like you have created a wonderful haven for the women you serve! Coffe and carbs is totally soul medicine! I wish I could join you! It is such an important ministry to a demographic worn out from ministering to their own children’s needs.

      I wish I had something incredibly insightful to say about why you’re not being invited back. Perhaps your friends consider your house the “go to” house where everyone assembles and don’t even consider having you over. Perhaps they’re in survival mode and feel too bedraggled to host people in general. Perhaps they do feel your standards are too high, but if so, that likely has a lot more to do with their inner struggle than the cleanliness of your home.

      When I was crying out to God to bring me out of my lonely season, I sensed him telling me to wait on him and his timing. To be faithful in my “reaching out” ministry…but also to wait and to cling to him and his promises.

      “Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, who acts for the one who waits for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

      Saying a prayer for you, my friend…

    • Here’s a suggestion. Have people come over and bring something-kinda like a potluck. Each person can bring one item of choosing and everyone can share. That way everyone can contribute and have a good time!

    • Just a note, because I’ve been on both sides of this! When my daughters were too young for school, and went to bed early, I would often invite large groups of friends over for evenings of coffee, tea, sweets, conversation and fellowship. I enjoyed it, and so did they. No one ever reciprocated, but i did it to build relationships. I figured that a woman who wanted friends should show herself friendly, and I wanted to build unity in the body of Christ. When I was feeling blue about the whole thing, I cried and prayed, and invited a bunch more people over. Then I became a homeschooler of three, and my ability to have people over disappeared like vapor! Now I feel guilt-laden because I have wonderful friends who seem to be able to homeschool AND have our family over with grace and ease. When I try, it is absolute crazy chaos! I feel worse afterward, because it is so difficult. The fact is, there are times of life when some things are easier than others. Love for others will overcome – whether by doing the reaching out, or by covering the seeming shortcomings of others. Getting close to the heart of God can bring us through either difficulty. Friends are precious, and I’m sure the ladies who have enjoyed your friendship appreciate you immensely, and you have pleased God.

  3. The Grill Cheese friends are the keepers. Especially the ones who will have Gluten Free bread on hand in the freezer just for me. I have a single friend who wanted ham leftovers at Christmas. She invited my son and I after church made a ham omelet and toast. Then gave us 1/2 the ham to take home.

    • I had to smile when I saw this. Yes, the people who like my grilled cheese and don’t get appalled at my housekeeping when I politely say, “Be careful not to step on Legos” are the best.

  4. I like that you gave the definition of hospitality “To pursue (as one would a calling) the love of strangers. I never thought of hospitality in this way. I used to have people over, and most of them people who I didn’t know well, to love on them and get to know them.

    Then messes in my life happened, and I quit entertaining, I hid to heal and let in only a very small circle of people. It took a couple of years to come back to myself.

    My house is a huge mess now, but I am feeling the nudge to have people over again. I recall the most fun meals were simple: chili with toppings, soup and homemade croutons, meatballs and rice, ice cream cake and topping, tea and a couple of go-withs….

    Thank you for this post, I know we are to live in community, and I am hearing God’s whisper.

    • Joanne

      I have definitely had CHAOS syndrome the last few years, as you mentioned above! It would stress me out so much! But as I prayed and prayed over what ministry the Lord would have me do, it finally dawned on me that, rather than leaving my family to go out and do something in the community, having people to our home is the perfect ministry for this season of life. What I did not expect, was that he would use the ministry of hospitality to heal some of my own lingering hurts. Funny how he works things out like that.

  5. I’m so glad I’m not alone in these feelings…even hearing the word ‘hospitality’ sends me into a tail spin… I think with me it’s my perception of ‘perfection’ that drives me crazy.I want everything to be perfect for those I’ve invited over. I do want them to feel loved, comfy and at peace in my home. The thing is I don’t feel even after 40 years of marriage, that I can cook quite like I’d like to either. So…sometimes we invite out a family to dine with us at a restaurant. I know it’s not always the ‘sitting around the fireplace’ type comfy, but we have had some very fun visits with families at a quieter restaurant. Another option is having people over for a dessert and fellowship. There’s not a lot to prepare with that. Plus I like desserts much better than dinners. 🙂 The key is to enjoy each other and share the love of Jesus with one another.
    Thanks for this!

    • “The key is to enjoy each other and share the love of Jesus with one another.” You just slammed the nail on the head with that one, Susan. 🙂 And I like your low-stress hospitality ideas! What a treat for your guests to be invited out to a restaurant.

  6. I really enjoyed your post, Jana. You’re so right about how letting go of perfectionism liberates others to do the same. I’ll never forget the day I went over to a friend’s house and she’d had a crazy day and didn’t have a chance to straighten everything up for my arrival like usual. I got to see a little glimpse of what real life looked like in her kitchen and it looked a lot like real life in MY kitchen. After that day, I didn’t worry quite so much about having everything spotless when she came over. Such a relief!

    • I know that oh-good-she-doesn’t-have-it-altogether-either sense of relief, Tarissa! Isn’t it such a blessing!? I’m asking God for the courage to be the one that puts her guard down first so others can do the same with me.

  7. I love this! I come from a long line of Southern women who seem able to entertain lavishly at the drop of a hat without breaking a sweat. And that’s so not me. I love people, but my slightly introverted, bookish self all but breaks out in hives at the thought of putting together a Pinterest-worthy dinner party. It helps to remind myself that if others feel loved and cared for when we bring them into our home, then that’s what hospitality is really all about. That, and I spend more time on blogs and Twitter and less on Pinterest. 😉

    • We sound like kindreds, Amy. : ) I would invite you over to my messy house for a chat if I could. Ha ha! I love Pinterest too, but have to be careful with it too. It can start making me feel like I’m ‘not enough’ if I’m not careful.

  8. This is so the reminder that I needed!! My house is always a mess and my meals are never fancy. The other day I almost didn’t let a friend in when she came to drop off my daughter because of how messy the house was. But I did and we ended up having great conversation despite the toys (and crumbs) on the floor. I much prefer making memories 🙂

  9. My motto is Martha Stewart doesn’t live here! Don’t let perfection ruin a good time. Just be yourself and serve something you know how to make and enjoy the friendship. Most people don’t care about things they want company and attention. They want you to be present with them not busy running around like Martha!

  10. Thank you for this… I used to be a paralyzed entertainer feeling never good enough… The Lord has healed many broken places where relationships are concerned…now I am comfortable to share my messy home and messy life…why mask it? I’m not all together. But I love Jesus and I love people.

    • DeAnna…I love hearing this. Praise God for the grace and mercy he pours out on us to heal our broken places!

  11. When I am invited to someone’s home, I don’t care about how neat or put-together their home is…or how messy it is. Honestly, most of the time I don’t even notice. I just enjoy the fellowship of being with friends. Why can’t I imagine my friends will feel the same way when they come to our home? Thank you so much for this post! I needed this reminder today: hospitality is not about perfection, it’s about showing love to others.

    • You sound like a true grilled cheese friend, Marty to not notice or care what others’ homes look like. : )

  12. Dear Jana,
    good post, thanks 🙂
    from my experience I can add one little advice which makes invitations less stressful – search for fingerfood in foreign cultures, it makes very little work is mostly easy to prepare and people go ‘wow! where did you get the idea?’ in my country this is what happens, when I serve grilled cheese ;;) people never ever do this and so surprise is my friend! And I agree about the bread: just serve homemade bread with fine bacon, different cheeses, homemade paste (made from beans or lenses with italian herbs, so easy) and peolpe will love the ‘at home feeling’ about it, the smell, the whole atmosphere, …
    Take good care, of you and the people you host, you can do it! <3 –sally

  13. I have been told that everyone always enjoys a good time when coming to my hme over the years–wether for coffee/cake or an elaborte barbecue/dinner or celebration party. I work endlessly on meals (mostly that can be prepared in advance). However, I get so excited and involved with my guests, that on occasion I have been known to sit down w/my already made cup of coffe, start conversing, and forget to serve/offer a drink to my guests! My friends laugh and know me…they simply then help themselves. So, yes, loving the company, being involved far surpasses any elaborate decorations/meal preparations…..but, it also is very nice ONLY if it is accompanied by enjoying the people. 🙂

  14. When we are young and somewhat unsure of our faith, the deep connection to THE VINE, JESUS, has not grown strong enough to produce delicious fruit, it’s easy to be influenced by the Marthas of this world who focus on impressing people. The only ONE we need to impress in our life is GOD! Hospitality comes from the heart. True friends, like Jesus, know our strength and weakness. Faith as well as hospitality need practice, one by studying HIS WORD, the other by asking for help. How nice that a loving husband realized the value of simplicity. Jesus food diet seemed simple until it was topped off with spiritual riches.