About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

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  1. ” The gospel isn’t about us doing or trying or proclaiming anything that will make our will happen. It’s a willingness to partner with Him and surrender that one, small seed by loving others as best we know how. ”
    YES! In every season of life there are unknown variables, and I love the way you have “done the math” and found that God honors our faithfulness, even when we don’t know what to expect or where the journey will take us.
    Blessings to you, Jen, and to those who gather around your table!

    • Amen!!!As my son approaches the teenage years this year what a great example you have set. I like to think I would have been a mum who always had their kids friends around to play hang out and sleepovers but fast forward to today and my energy levels and tolerance are spent most evenings…I am busy studying but I hope this will change. To view it as hospitality for Gods Kingdom puts another view on it and that we are only a part of the process…. I pray for more energy and time to devote to my children and their peers they want to bring through our doors!!

      • And Jas, trust me, I completely understand the lack of energy. There were so many times I opened the door when I was exhausted and depleted, but someone HE multiples it when they’re there. Plus, there were also times, when I let them take over the house and I climbed in bed and watched a movie. haha 🙂

    • Yes, I’ve found our hospitality looks so differently in all our seasons, but stepping forward with our small offering changes everything 🙂

  2. Jen,
    Just last week, one of my son’s best buddies who grew up with him and who lived across the street, stopped over to say,”Hi” and have some dessert with us. Here he was, this 25 year old man with a small beard and mustache. I remember the first day he came over ( knee high to a grasshopper and with a bowl cut hair do), and stepped into our home. That was the beginning of many sweaty, smelly packs of boys and many giggling, toe-nail-painting gaggles of girls that made our home their home. My son’s friend began recalling all the antics, stories, meals, knee-hockey brawls that went on here. For some reason, our house was the one designated for hanging out and consuming mass quantities of mac ‘n cheese. “Those were great times,” he said with a reminiscent smile. I remembered how exhausted I was back in the day, but here he was remembering the good ole days. We never know the memories we are creating when we choose to open the door and say come on in (even if we’re growling when we do it lol). Great post and reminders!!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Oh Bev – aren’t memories like that the best? You realize that it was all worth it. xoxo

  3. I spent my last three years of high school at a boarding school 12 hours away from my parents. During that time, many different families welcomed me to their table, creating a safe place for me to learn and grow (and also be my awkward high school self). Now as a military wife and mom of five kids of my own, I look back to lessons that I learned from those many different “aunts” who took the time to nurture me. They may never know the full impact they had on my spiritual growth (though I have tried to tell them), but it was significant. I am so grateful for that time. Thank you for being faithful to welcome those students into your home. Incidentally, I only had one family who did that for me during my college years in the States. For four years, they were a haven for me while my family was halfway around the world. Our senior year of college, I started dating their son. We’ve been married for ten years now.

    • No way!! They opened their door and got a precious daughter in love out of the deal! 🙂 How is that for God’s faithfulness? I LOVE that story. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  4. That “learning to love what must be done” is really speaking to me right now. I’m in a season of God teaching me what it means and looks like to life faithfully and you’ve encouragement in that spot. Thank you.

    • Yes, that’s a phrase I often need to preach over and over to myself. 🙂 We can do that together.

  5. Jen,

    I moved away from family for a semester of college. One family down the hill “took me in”. The first night alone they brought me supper. I was invited over several times & even went to the “Super bowl” party they had. There was a blizzard the next day. The mother & I took the left over pizza & food over to the Nursing home across the street, fed the tired workers & helped with patients some. It was our way of giving back. I feel it’s my turn to help others & show hospitality. Each month I cook or gather food for my in-laws & my elderly neighbor. My way of planting a seed. You never know what acts of kindness or hospitality will make an impression on people. Like Bev it may be later in life that you find out people appreciated you opening your doors & being there for them. God will certainly bless you for doing that even in your tired state.

    Blessings 🙂

    • I love your college story because statistically, so many college students are battling loneliness and depression and isolate themselves. You’d never think that because they’re around people all the time, yet that’s when it can really hit. Such a great reminder how that small seed multiples. 🙂

  6. Thankful for this in my inbox today, it served as a much appreciated affirmation of my own recent action which I had begun to question. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re so welcome, DZ. I love how the Lord can use something like an email in an inbox to affirm us. 🙂

  7. As I read, two boys are arriving at my house for their usual Friday morning: an impossibly rambunctious 3 year old and his 18-month old brother, to be added to my own 4 and 1 year olds. Thank you for reminding me that I am ‘making a Kingdom difference in the lives of these young men’. My son wondered why I was crying in my breakfast. Thank you for reminding me that in a world that constantly asks ‘what do you want?’, sometimes the right question is ‘what needs to be done?’ Thank you for helping me give up the desire to control the outcome. All we can do is plant seeds. I am grateful and encouraged this morning.

  8. Wow! I wish I had been a more gracious hostess when my kids were young. I have 3 girls and many young ladies came through our door, looking for respite from whatever chaos they had at their house. Quite a few of them are still on my radar. Some are still wandering and troubled, while others found their center and seem to be fine. When an overnight stay turned into two…or three, I wish I had been less anxious to get them back to their home. But I cannot go back. Only forward. Now I will open my heart and my home when the opportunity presents itself. Thank you for your wise words. Good for thought and action.

  9. Jen, thank you for the encouragement to “just do it” in regards to hospitality. My mantra this year is “Celebrate action, embrace imperfection” and choosing between comfort and Kingdom work resonates in an unexpected way. Can’t really explain at this point but the quote you shared by Goethe is timely: “Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do and learn to love what must be done.” Grateful for what you’ve shared, Jen. Thank you, and may you be blessed for obediently opening your home to the unknown for the sake of our Savior.

  10. I love this message so much. God is really speaking. As in my Church the Salvation Army. My Officer Simon this last while has been speaking on. Bless. Meaning. Who are you as Christian going to bless Today or this week. Like take that person who has not much money that no one would think of or want to bless or have anything to do with like take them for that cup of coffee etc. Show them Jesus LOVE. Do what Jesus would do LOVE them. Listen to them let them know they are loved. Especially when they feel the world don’t love them or want anything to do with them. LISTEN TO THEM. Look at this reading it is amazing. You providing this meal. Like Jesus who fed all thoes people that Day with Five Loves and Two Fish. He showed the people they were Loved. He didn’t turn them away to go get food for themselves. Like the Disciples would have done. He Bless them. We too are do the same as Christians. This message really speaks to me. Thank you for it. Even if it just means giving a person a lift home. You never know what doors many be open in their life Especially if they have problems. If you know the person. They could be open to you. You could help them to get the help they need plus find Jesus if not saved. Or say to them can I pray for you if the right time. Or say I will pray for you. They may talk they may not but you just saying I am hear for you if you want to talk if God leads you to say that. My be that is all they need to hear. So thank you for this message God is really speaking. Love Dawn God Bless xxx in my prayers

  11. Jennifer, thank you for sharing your moments of letting go and opening up to your community in lieu of keeping status quo. I want to be more in the moment and tuned in to what God may be whispering to my heart and not let my brain second guess everything. Which in turn may help me to truly listen and be present with my loved ones today.

  12. This weekend it was running sound for a women’s retreat. Even though I’m a worship leader….even though I’m a Bible study teacher, I purposed in my heart to run the sound with excellence because that was what I was being called to do. It took some pride-fighting and some major praying over my attitude, but God was able to work on me and in me. Thanks be to God for His mercy and His grace and His patience with us!

    • Oh Diane – YES, YES, YES!! This!! It’s often the behind the scenes, invisible moments where He can really use us and refine us in ways we can never expect. Thanks for humbling sharing this. 🙂