Wow! Life has been wee bit crazy the last few weeks. As well, my lovely little girl and I went on our first “Girl Trip,” which included flying to Florida to attend a dear friend’s wedding. A friend, who I have known since he was but a very young boy. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to share with you a picture of hospitality shown to me many years ago, when I was in college.
I attended Louisiana Tech University (GO DAWGS!) for my undergraduate studies. Even though, it was only about an hour from my parents’ home, I didn’t go home often. I was a music major and had all sorts of performances and engagements, rehearsals and practices. As well, I was super-involved in a local church, not far from the campus. It was at this church that I really began to learn about hospitality and what it really entailed. How? You may ask. Well….
At my college church in September, the college students were asked to sign up to be “adopted” by a family in the congregation. One Sunday night in September, I walked into the Fellowship Hall of FBC Ruston having no idea who I would be matched up with. All I knew is that one of my friends and I had requested to be placed together.
As the names were called out, I remember surveying the room wondering, “Who will my family be? Will they like me? Will I get to know them?”
While I had a few questions, what I did know is that friends said they often got together at their adopted families home for a home cooked meal and were invited to wash clothes (YEA!) As my name was called, along with the family, I saw three kids (two girls, one boy) smiling from ear to ear.
I thought, “This is going to be fun!” And it was. And continues to be.
Little did I know that many years later, my “college family” would continue to be a significant part of my life, even though none of us live in Louisiana anymore.
You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with hospitality?” A lot.
My “college adopted family,” opened up their home to me on so many occasions. In the beginning, it was an occasional meal on Sundays after church (the first meal was Home made Chicken and Dumplins with Slow-cooked Lima Beans. YUM!) Then, I remember taking my laundry over to wash in between classes. And before I knew it, my friend and I (and later, her sister), all began spending every Thursday evening at our “family’s” house. (This is when Must See TV was on NBC. Remember, Seinfeld, Friends and ER? Not to mention, we were fed amazing, home cooked meals.) This tradition continued every Thursday night for three years.
Before long, we were fixtures at their house. Having early holiday gatherings before we would head home for holiday breaks, or at the end of the semester. Coming over more than just on Thursdays, or after church, or to just do laundry. And a couple of summers, I even lived with my family because I had a job in town.
They truly opened up their hearts and their home, not because they had to, or because there was anything in it for them; rather, they simply desired to be a “home away from home” for college students.
As random as it might seem, it was all part of a bigger plan. This family has taught me so many things about life, love and yes, hospitality. I truly believe that by experiencing hospitality in such tangible and genuine ways, I learned how to be hospitable. So many lessons were learned:
It’s not what you have; it’s about who you are.
It’s not how big your home is; it’s how warm and welcoming it is.
It’s not about entertaining; it’s about being available.
What began as a college ministry years and years ago, continues to this day. After almost twenty years, this family continues to be a part of my life and the life of my family. The wedding that my daughter and I attended was for my “adopted brother.” The crazy thing: I met his family when he was just about my son’s age. My how time flies by….quickly!
As I was contemplating this entry, I came across this devotion on hospitality. I resonated with so much of what the write wrote. I know we all have different skills, talents, abilities and comfort levels. Yet, as Christians, we are all called to be hospitable. This looks different depending upon who we are, where we live, what season of life we find ourselves, etc.
Please remember, “We are blessed to bless others.” Personally, I have been utterly blessed and pray that I can return that blessing.