I hosted a plant night last night and it was such a FUN time! But, before I jump into sharing the cute pics and details of the night with you, I must give you a little background on my hospitality journey. If you’ve read my entry on “The Open Door Woman” in Remain book, then you know it is a goal of mine to grow in the area of hospitality this year. In the spirit of transparency, I used to kind of dread having people over. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy spending time with people, it’s just that it wasn’t a natural thing for me. We weren’t the house people came to hang out at growing up. We typically gathered in other people’s homes.
Once I had my own home and family I realized this was something that we should probably do, but it felt stressful…especially after having a baby! (Everything gets more complicated after that, amen?) Like, how do I prepare for people? What do I feed them…and how much? What do we talk about the whole time? What if I’m awkward? What if my baby cries the whole time they’re here? Notice a pattern here? The focus was all wrong, but I didn’t realize it at the time. Part of me honestly felt worried that I wouldn’t provide a pretty enough space or good enough food for people to want to gather in my home. (Silly, I know!) There was another side of it too, though.
My husband had just started in ministry when we got married. He is super outgoing and extroverted, and I’m kind of a mix. I’m a self-proclaimed extroverted introvert. I get energy from being around people, but need alone time to recharge. Both of us do. As we navigated being new to ministry, we experienced this new need to be “on” a lot of the time. It’s not that we were being fake or insincere. Being in a position of leadership just required us to be the people person(s) who interact and create a valuable and positive experience with and for others. That being said, home became a sort of retreat for us. This isn’t a bad thing—well not completely. It’s healthy to have a place you can completely be your whole raw self.
But, two years into living in our first home we realized that in our attempt to retreat, we became hermits! We only knew two neighbors on our whole street. One went to our church (so does that really count?) and the other happened to introduce themselves one day as we were getting home and so we carried on small talk here and there. This bothered me a little that we didn’t even know the people we were living around. We ended up moving to a different neighborhood shortly after that and we fell into the same pattern. We met two neighbors there. As we were packing up our house to move (again) a couple years later, a neighbor we hadn’t ever really talked to came by the garage to introduce herself. She brought by a piece of paper with her name and number on it in case we needed help forwarding any mail. In our conversation I found out they are believers and that their kids were a part of another church youth group in town. How did we miss this?
That little uneasy feeling I mentioned earlier turned into a strong conviction at that point. We had lived door(s) away from all these people in two different neighborhoods and had never even met most of them! What missed opportunities for friendship and outreach and love.
So, when we moved yet again to a new town this time, I was determined to change this part of our lives. God gave us a good head start. The day we moved in we had visits from three different neighbors who came bearing flowers, fresh fruit and homemade bread! They’re seriously the sweetest. Once we got settled I started dreaming up the first gatherings we might have in this home and how we could love on the people around us. One of my first and favorite ideas was a plant night for the youth group girls. I wanted a way for us to get to know one another outside of the church building. I’m proud to announce that I followed through and had the girls over last night and it was a great time!
God continues to work on my mind and heart in this area, and I’m seeking to learn all I can about loving others well. One of the books I’ve recently dug into for this very reason is Loving My Actual Neighbor by Alexandra Kuykendall. Definitely check it out if you’re looking to grow in this area.
I’m learning to lean on the truth that it isn’t the perfectly clean and decorated home or the gourmet food that matters—it’s how you make people feel when they’re there. Not to say you can’t be thoughtful and prepare a fun space for them, because I find so much joy in that now. But, the true desire to know people and live life with them is what should lead our hospitality. When we invite people into our imperfect lives, we invite them to be imperfect with us.
Have you struggled with hospitality before? I encourage you to do something hospitable this week, even if it’s initially out of your comfort zone. If you have stories or practical ideas of ways you practice hospitality, I’d love hear them in the comments!
And with no further ado, here are some photos I snapped with these adorable girls last night…
About the party: I thrifted all the tea cups (plus a couple donations) and got a lot of the stuff I used to decorate with from Dollar Tree. Also, all the succulent pieces came from friends’ yard clippings. Luckily they grow in abundance here!
My fav new idea was the Kraft paper tablecloth! I bought a roll at the dollar store and taped it underneath the table. Then I wrote with sharpie all the girls’ names—intentional and cute. I can think of all kinds of ways to use it in the future. Overall it was a super affordable little get together and we had a great time getting to know one another better!
I hope you’ve enjoyed! Have a wonderful week!