"Welcome" greets each weary traveler as they drag heavy suitcases awkwardly up our little entry steps. Candles flicker, music softly wafts through the air and chocolate almonds, tiny wrapped gouda cheeses all say, "you are a valued person and we want you to find rest and peace as you enter our home."
The past few weeks, giggles, tears, antics and life-stories amuse the walls of our home, as countless friends have filed into this Clarkson homestead. Bible studies, dinners for students visiting at a local ministry, a leadership intensive, sweet friends coming for a "cuppa" and a few minutes shared rocking on the front porch, sweet children home for limited days, and a friendship talk. all mark the occasions of a visit.
Always there is endless eating; and hearts wanting to be loved and encouraged. Sanctuary has been on my mind the past few months as I have sought to understand the importance of having a home where all can expect to come for life, beauty and peace--and to feel the touch of Him in a tangible way through our words, hands, and embraces.
Godly women shape their homes into sanctuaries where the love of God, the comfort of Jesus, the celebration of joy sings through the very oxygen of the cracks and corners of her home and brings just what each one needs as they enter there.
"We view the ministry of hospitality in our home as God's tool for us to train our children in graciousness. When someone comes to our home, our children know that we expect them to be gracious and quick to serve. That means welcoming adult guests properly, asking if there is something they can get for them, taking their coat, or whatever is appropriate to the visit. (Hospitality drills are a helpful way to train them in this area).
Our children know that being well-mannered and gracious is more than just a cultural formality...it is the way we show respect to another person, affirm their value as a person made in God's image, and strengthen our testimony to them not only as a Christian family but also as a homeschooling family.
It is the practical expression of treating others the way you want to be treated, regarding others as more important than yourself, and looking out for the interests of others. Even when we go to someone else's house, we will still practice hospitality. We rehearse with the kids before they leave the car how to be gracious guests who are polite, respectful, and helpful." -Educating the Wholehearted Child
Even though my children are now young adults, they still help me every time we welcome anyone into our home. Joy will be bustling around, setting up for tea time, and before I know it, another child has already cleaned up the entire kitchen. The dishes will be washed, the counters tidied, and each guest is sure to have been welcomed and served.
This desire to serve, help, and host does not appear out of thin air. In order for your family to be a team that works together as a unit when you have guests over, your children must have TMI (no-not "too much information.")
-Training: Train in grace behavior (manners). Value and pursue priority relationships. Train your children how to pray.
-Modeling: Moms-set the example. Be gracious and kind to family members. Show grace and love to strangers.
-Instruction: About our relationship with God. About the power of the Holy Spirit--lived out through real people to real people.
Proverbs 22:6 states:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
It is absolutely crucial that we train our children in the ways of graciousness. This also means that you must have patience and grace with your children as they learn how to serve others.
Start practicing by assigning your children different ways they can help the next time you have friends or family over for dinner. If you remember TMI, your little ones will flourish into adults who are loving, gracious, polite, and respectful.