Saturday, 7 April 2012

A taste of chocolate and hospitality


“Eating, and hospitality in general, is a communion, and any meal worth attending by yourself is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.” 




This Easter weekend we have a crew of dear friends from Gosford staying with us - five adults, and one baby! Piling into our home for four days of laughter, food, kiddies and chaos. Not to mention chocolate of course!! The guest room, lounge room and Lily's room are all full with visitors (Lily is on the floor in our bedroom) and the dishwasher has been running non-stop! It has been delightful. Refreshing, relaxing, and sooooo encouraging to spend time catching up, chilling out, talking deep, laughing hard. Pretty sure six people is our record so far for our little home and for that we rejoice! Room to welcome guests is part of the reason we sought a bigger home and it does our hearts good to have dear friends make the trek from inter-state and devote their whole long weekend to spending time with us - what a blessing!


A group trip to Questacon - always a hit!

Growing up, I was amazed, inspired and blessed by the hospitality of many of those around me, particularly those in the church. Much of it I have only been able to truly appreciate in retrospect. As a teen I spent many hours, days and nights around the dinner table or crashing on the couch of various church members, one local family in particular who practically adopted me! I travelled to Sydney a lot to hang with friends there and was welcomed, loved and taken care of by so many families. In my late teens and early 20's I travelled, backpacked and/or lived all over the world, and thanks to a global Christian family, I was welcomed and looked after by so many good people, many I barely knew or in fact did not previously know at all. Amazing. Who does this? Well, a lot of Christians (and of course many other lovely souls) do this, showing Jesus' love by welcoming others into their home... I recieved this welcome and felt this love. It clearly had a big impact on me!


Oh, how she loves the mini-Q play-bakery! Heaven!

Much of the hospitality I have been shown I have only been able to truly appreciate and recognise since I've gotten older, had my own home, been in charge of my own 'household' if you will. Now I know full well that an extra person in your home is not nothing. That beds do not make themselves, that the meals do not miraculously  appear on the table while the pantry is busy stocking itself. Lifts to bus stations and airports are not most people's favourite past time, yet countless people have blessed and included and cared for me, before I was truly able to 'see' and value their generosity. They loved me without return and they welcomed me without expectation. What a gift. 

Yes, I have also been in homes where I did not feel entirely welcomed, where the hospitality seemed for whatever reason, begrudgingly given. Let me assure you, a guest can always tell when their presence is a burden and I hope, pray and strive to never ever ever let someone in my home feel like that. It ain't fun!


Eli goes cruising...

For all these reasons and so many others, Mark and I, since we got married have been excited and committed to opening our home to others, for meals, events, coffees and overnight visits. It is not always convenient, or easy. I am not always a selfless hostess. I sometimes stress too much about what food to make - though I try to remind myself hospitality is about the sharing of meals and minds, not the gourmet-Masterchef-factor, (well I hope, or I am in big trouble!!). Sometimes I worry more about the state of the house than the state of my heart. Sad but true. So, yes,  I now understand that welcoming 'strangers' into your home (or even friends) comes at a cost, not just financial but as an intrusion to the normality of your every day life and routine and space - and family time. Yep, this makes me wonder even more at the countless good people I know who made me feel truly welcomed over so many years when probably my welcome was truly worn out!!


Science/air/floating Styrofoam ball/catching/fun!

And yet.

Even more than those 'costs' I am grateful to know the blessings that far outweigh them. The way you get to know someone (and they know you) when you have them in your home. Ain't no hiding, people! The depth of conversation, the breaking of bread together, the shared meals and movies and memories. The privilege it is to serve others in your home, to cook for them and to look after them. Immeasurable riches. I pray I can help my guests feel anywhere near as welcomed and cared for as I have been over the years. I'm still learning, but oh, how I desire to practise and improve!! I am so grateful for the examples of heart-felt hospitality I have seen and experienced, selfless people to emulate and learn from - my role models in generosity. I know homes with open-door policies that I can only dream to recreate in their relaxed, casual and inviting ambience.



Wacky light room!


I also love that my children get the opportunity to witness and partake in hospitality - which is love and service in action. They watch and help prepare me the home. They give up their bedroom. They help make a 'welcome' sign to go on the bedroom door. They learn that life is not all about them, that it is a far greater thing to focus on, to serve and to love others first. They get bedtime stories read to them by all manner of wonderful folk! They, and I, get to know all kinds of people in a deeper and more intimate way than you usually do over coffee at a cafe'. How blessed we are.






As for our current guests? While they are certainly our largest batch of house guests to stay, it has been a pleasure and a blessing, not a service at all! It's been a super relaxed visit in fact, as they are all so super helpful and considerate and just plain wonderful!! It warms my heart to have a house filled with such dear people, all hanging out, pitching in and keeping things tickin'.



Eli was so excited to show off the haul from
the Easter Egg Hunt!



Just to keep the party rolling we had another six adults and two kids join us all on Saturday night for an Easter BBQ. It was a perfect madhouse with the kids making more racket than the thirteen adults combined (of course!). We had an Easter egg hunt for the kids, and though they were way too quick for me to capture any decent shots of the egg discovery, they had fun and the adults got the fun of watching them! Yes, my kids were born with a built in radar enabling them to hone in on hidden chocolate like a laser beam - just like Mama, I'm so proud!


Yummy and gorgeous Easter cookies by Sarah!


An Easter weekend is underway and it is full of chocolate, friends and hospitality! Glorious sunshine has made it all the sweeter. I am thankful and feeling rather reflective today of the many good people who have shown me love, hospitality and generosity over the years... they inspire me to try and show even a portion of such care to others. I admit it does not always come naturally or easily but to share my home with others, whether for a cuppa, a meal or a night is a blessing - but what our guests may not realise is that though they may feel thankful, we are the ones that are truly blessed by their company!



“That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear?” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird




8 comments:

  1. I always love having guests! Looks like the kids have really been enjoying themselves :)

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  2. I love the wacky light room! And the cute little pair looking through the window!

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  3. What a beautiful post Kate.
    I have always marvelled at your hospitality and the generous way you open your home to others. It seems like everytime time we catch up you are just had someone stay! It was lovely to read the reasons why this aspect of your lives is so important to the both of you.
    Again, you inspire me to be a better host...something I do need to work on :)
    Awesome pics too! I am going to have to get my camera in that new light room in Questacon!
    P.S Did you hear that Mini Q is closed for the whole month of May? The whole month - BOOOOOOOO! It's my go to place when it gets super cold!

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    1. thanks so much hon, yup we do love to host and our guest room sure gets put to use these days!! i think you are an amazing host!!!! just look at finns party and all the special touches you did to make everyone feel so special and welcomed - I *wish* i had more talents and knack for those little things, they mean a lot! you inspire me in such things! and BOO to the Mini Q but yep i think a trip to the Excite exhibit would make the trip worth it - they have this awesome exhibit with all these tubes with wind blowing, you put scarves in there and they woosh along. Hard to descrieb but the kids could have spent the morning there alone!! check it out :)

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  4. Wow Kate - you have such a lovely way with words...I think you are the hostess with the mostess!

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    1. why thanks Megan on both counts!! :)

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  5. Kate - this is such a lovely post. Your guests are very blessed to have such a thoughtful hostess.

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  6. I think it really shows when your hosts are grateful that you are choosing to spend time with them and stay at their house and I hope that your guests were just as grateful about how much love and attention you lavished on them. Sounds like a wonderful weekend and wonderful sentiments to base it all on :)

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