Friday, 22 July 2011

Gratitude on the Go

It's summertime (love!) and I've been doing some travelling recently. I took a road trip across three provinces and back. I was blessed to be able to stay at friend's and family's homes along the way. Yes, it saved me some money, but I was also really blessed to stay in other's homes and receive amazing hospitality.

It occurred to me as I travelled from house to house that there is such a thing as Travel Ettiquette. You have influence wherever you go. Here are a few tips/ideas for taking an attidue of gratitude with you on the road:

*Sometimes I arrive with a small bouquet. I stop at a road side stand or a grocery store on the way, and give the bouquet to the host as an initial thank you.

*Offer to help with meal preparation (from chopping carrots to setting the table). This is a kind gesture, even if they don't take you up on the offer. In this case, stay and make conversation. It can be tempting sometimes to take extra time to "freshen up" and steal some moments away, especially on long trips when travel can be tiring. Resist the temptation and take the opportunities to show you care and are grateful for the sacrifice they're making for you.

*Don't be picky. Whether it's with food or accomodation, don't stick your nose up. On the other hand, if your opinion is asked, be honest. Don't say "you're fine with anything" if you truly don't like one of the two options provided. No host wants to serve you something you won't enjoy.

*Upon leaving, I strip the bed and fold the sheets. If I stayed on a hide-a-bed, I put it back together. I fold the towels I used and place them beside the sheets. That way, it saves my host a little time when they clean up from my stay.

*Pack and give thank you cards. I keep a package in my suitcase, even when it's in storage, just so I don't forget. Whenever I leave a house after my stay, I leave a card thanking them for their generosity and hospitality. I place it on top of the folded sheets.

These are a few of my tips on how to be a good guest. Some I learned from my mother and cousin and others I picked up from guests of my own.  What would you add?

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.:.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

.:.Doorpost Hospitality.:.

Two weeks ago, my high school boarder moved out. She was an absolute delight to have as a part of our family for ten months. It is incredible how closely tied you can become to someone after such a short time. I currently have a love-hate relationship with her empty room. As I watched her leave and walk through the door, I was reminded of a moment two years ago when I prayed over our door, our home and those that would find themselves visiting there.
When I moved into the two bedroom apartment, I made the conscious decision to take the command of Romans 12:13 seriously when it says to practice hospitality. And yes, hospitality truly takes practice. I have learned some lessons along the way. I'm now all too familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm (it's applauding me, right?). I've had to let go of the lie that everything needs to be perfect for our guests to feel welcome. I’ve embraced my strengths and played off of them.
I love to host, and do it a lot. From the best friend dinners to the lemonade and cookie drop-ins to the overnight stranger-guest that didn’t have a place to stay, we have shared laughs, tears, food and a few awkward moments. One time, I even hosted a stranger-guest’s pet rats (yes, plural). Yes ladies and gents, I’ve seen the spectrum. And all along, I’ve done it unto the Lord.
I feel more blessed than words can describe by those that have walked through my door. When I first moved in, I set up my little home and then prayed over it. I thanked God for His many blessings to me through the generosity of others who helped me build my breadth of utilities. I asked Him to help me steward everything He had given me, recognizing that it belongs to Him.
And then I prayed over our door. I asked that God would bring those he wanted through it. I asked that His hedge of protection would be over it; that in our home, He would keep strife, envy and anger out and peace, love and respect in. I prayed that as people entered my home, they would be disarmed, able to relax and feel appreciated.
A home is a place of refuge. Sadly, you can be in your house without it feeling like your home.
Thank you, Lord, for a roof over my head, and those you bring to sit under it as well.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.:.