About the Author

Leslie Verner is a goer learning how to stay. Other cultures, spicy food, deep conversations, running, and sunshine feed her soul. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three kids. Her first book, Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness, releases August 2019.

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  1. Leslie, if Myers-Briggs had a factor for Oblivious/Alert (which I think they should!) I would be “O” off the charts.
    But, like you, I’m persevering in this hospitality thing because I’ve seen that it really does break down walls and open hearts. So I make lists like crazy and check the menu before I sit down at the table, and if I discover that I’ve forgotten to light the scented candles to mask the smell of St. Bernard, I just try to remember next time. (When your kids are older you can delegate that one. Daughters-in-law make great candle lighters, I’ve found.)
    And this image: “I believe God delights in smashing our boxes, breaking them down, and using them to form mazes and tunnels, airy spaces with skylights. Redefined, hospitality offers freedom, not confinement; acceptance, not judgment.”
    Priceless.

  2. Leslie, thank you! This was a breath of fresh air to this hospitality-challenged hostess. I had a friend over this week (maybe more like I let her visit me) and because of health struggles the house was…well, what it looks like when we’re living in it with kids and don’t have enough energy for all the things! I had no makeup on, hair was meh, and jeans and a shirt felt dressed up after being sick so long. But I managed to wipe the bathroom down and let that be good enough. God knew a perfectly clean house or looking put together was not what was needed. Two hearts connecting at the “real” level was far more precious. I’m really glad I let her come over!

  3. I finally realized a long time ago that I am more at ease in a comfortable setting when I visit another person, its them I come to see and be with and enjoy the company of. I appreciate the invite, and their taking the time for me, I have told some at times, “I have left my white glove at home.” And when they come to visit me, I smile and say, “welcome” so go to have you here, please leave your white glives at the door! We all laugh and It puts everyone at ease, now we can get on just being ourselves and enjoying each other. This is one of the ways I practice loving myself and others. And isn’t that what God asks of us, and its good.

  4. I truly needed this ! I’m one of those that looks at my house and says, “Maybe when I get the floor polished,(which I am not able to do), or when my kitchen is spruced up, etc. But I know God is calling me to show hospitality in my home so I will seek what He wants, who I need to connect with, and then do it. Maybe it’s one person or a group ? The Lord will take my very simple offering and work His will !
    Thank you again for this reminder and encouragement ❤️

  5. Okay, I often like to copy a favorite sentence into the comments to let someone know how much I loved their writing, but if I did that here it would entail copying the entire post. YES TO ALL OF IT! So refreshing. So good. So true!!

    Last week I invited a group of moms over to visit with a friend of ours who was in from out of town. I wanted to provide the space for us all to connect, but I didn’t have the bandwidth to be a fancy hostess. So what did I do? I told my friends that. I told them that I would have hot coffee and tea and open arms ready for them. They were welcome to bring their kiddos, and a snack too if they were hungry. I wiped off the table, lit a Duraflame log, and it was a beautiful time together. Friends brought fresh fruit and lemon cake and we sat on my dingy couches and pulled up chairs and all over the floor, all focused on why we were there–to be together. Come as you are, give what you have. That’s my kind of hospitality too.

    Such a joy to host your words here today, Leslie. xx

  6. Okay, that was me 16 years ago when I would host several Sunday hospitality lunches per year because my husband is on the church council, and that’s what council members (or their wives) do. Yes, I stressed and made the lists, and cleaned the house (or at least the “guest” areas). The lesson I learned after all those years and countless lunches is this: K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Sister. No more lists for me. Lunches include something I can make the day before and reheat (Sloppy Joes are always a hit), something store-bought (potato salad or chips), and a super-easy dessert (store-bought brownies with ice-cream sounds good) . Some times it’s just soup and ham and cheese buns with chips and a dessert. I also have a few favorite go-to menus. Do I set the table? Nope. I set the dishes, cutlery, and napkins on the counter, and when someone asks if they can help, I just politely ask them to set the table for me. It makes them feel good to be helpful and included, and saves some extra time for me. I even ask them to set the food out. Have you ever noticed how easier it is for women to bond together when they are working together in the kitchen? Guests, especially women, would rather be in the kitchen doing something than just sitting on the sofa waiting for the meal to be served. One thing my husband and I intentionally do is invite guests that probably don’t know each other. The conversations are always interesting and informative. And I really think that most of guests don’t remember what I served them or what the table looked like. They just remember the conversations and laughter, and new acquaintances they have made. Hugs and K.I.S.S.

  7. It’s not about the material things you need to have to be a good host, it is the heart of wanting to serve others is what matters the most. People will forget about what your house looks like or what décor you have but they will remember how kind and gracious you are about opening up your home to them. We get so caught up with trying to be the perfect host that we miss the importance of being present and sharing life with those in our presences. We miss out on the simple conversations and the impact to make a difference and be that light for someone who may have just needed simple encouragements at that moment. Small things matters and they make the most change in such a huge way that we never think about. I remember when I was a kid visiting a friend of mine. They invited me over their house for dinner and although it was a very tiny apartment, I felt the love they had for one another through their conversations with me and each other and that made such an impact on me even today. I am reminded that no matter what food I have at the table or where I am, by having meaningful conversations makes me feel like I had been the best host. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. I saw much of myself in your story. That is exactly why I’ve never really gravitated toward waitressing (and I can’t multitask.) Thanks for the encouragement to serve out of our own “fit.”

  9. I loved this. I am in a small group through our class at church. When it is my turn to host our couples, I become so stressed and anxiety-filled because when the ladies arrive at all homes, so much focus is on the home, decor, place settings, flower arrangements, amazing menu, and this is absolutely not my gifting and totally out of my comfort zone. I love this group, and I know this is my issue, not theirs because I am this way with having anyone in my home playing hostess with the mostest. If my focus is having someone over, and we are talking and lifting up the Lord, I’m good. I love making people feel welcomed and that they matter, I am just uncomfortable having so much focus placed on an area of mine I consider a weakness. I am an introvert and seem to attract extroverts who I view as so comfortable in their gifting. Praying in advance for God’s peace and preparing does help. Praying also I stop worrying and focusing on my inadequacies and more on why we are together!