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Offering True Hospitality

It is a special experience to be welcomed into a friend’s home; to be the recipient of generous hospitality. There is a difference between entertaining and hospitality. StartMarriageRight.com recently featured a series on hospitality and I loved a quote I read there. Karen Ehman wrote in her book, A Life That Says Welcome, “Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.”

Recently my husband and I received that kind of refreshing hospitality when we stayed in France with my dear friend Heather. We arrived worn out. We had been traveling for ten days on planes, trains, by foot and through various time zones. We were weary of staying in hotels and were looking forward to going home soon. The last stop on the trip was a few days with Heather and her family. Let me tell you how we were welcomed.

We walked into her lovely home and were greeted by a warm welcome and lovely surroundings. We were given her and her husband’s room to sleep in. They insisted. As I put my luggage in “our” room I was greeted by fresh flowers, a bottle of champagne, and a box of special chocolates from the local chocolatier. A welcome present just for us to enjoy! Heather and her family were glad we were there and we could feel it.

I was extremely tired that evening so Heather offered to cancel our dinner reservations at a special restaurant and throw something together last minute for dinner instead. We ended up going to the restaurant but I was touched by Heather’s thoughtfulness and attentiveness to my needs. When I climbed into “my” lovely bed that night I was met with soft, clean smelling sheets, a warm down comforter that enveloped me, and a pillow that was so inviting it seemed perfectly made for my head. It was a great night’s sleep and I felt like we were home.

In the morning we slept in and when we awoke we were greeted with a delicious spread of freshly baked croissants and other French goodies that Heather had gone out for that morning…just so the food would be extra fresh for us. Heather washed our clothes, made us delicious home cooked meals, showed us around town, and was attentive in little and big ways. Not only was it wonderful to spend time with a dear friend, she and her family made us feel so welcome and refreshed.

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” You know he wouldn’t have felt the need to write that phrase unless he knew how prone we human beings are to grumbling. Offering hospitality does take effort. In other words it costs us something. However the rewards are great, not only for us but for those we are being hospitable toward. Even giving a single cup of water to someone who is thirsty is an act of hospitality.

This week I encourage you to think about how you can offer genuine, refreshing hospitality to someone who needs it, just like my beautiful friend did for me.

With this blog post I’m participating in the Great Big Friendship Blog. It’s a simple way to express your thankfulness for a friend. To read other posts on thankfulness, or to write your own, visit www.SarahCunningham.Org.