As I handed this pint of homemade strawberry/raspberry jam to my friend Carla, my other hand went around her shoulders to give her a big hug. A long, past-due kind of hug!
The aroma in her farmhouse kitchen of freshly-baked cookies just coming out of the oven was making my mouth water! And Carla and I quickly connected with each other after a few years of not seeing each other.
The jar of jam was a very small gesture on my part, a gesture of thanks to Carla for inviting me into her home to share with her group of young mothers. Ladies – who like Carla and me at one time – are overwhelmed, in the thick of life and marriage and babies.
While Carla meets regularly with these sweet ladies, my role was to come and help encourage them to continue to love their husbands and take care of their households. And where does hospitality fit into that?
Hospitality always starts with me. My husband jumps on board when he can, and my kids are in the midst of learning what it’s all about, but I’m the KEY to making it work in my home. My home is like a ministry station – a place where hospitality comes and goes, especially during these years while my kids are in school.
Does it mean that my family entertains all of the time, no matter what? No, because we all experience seasons. Seasons when my babies are born or when death takes you by surprise (my husband and I lost 3 parents in a 5-year period). Right now during the soccer season where all 3 of our kids play soccer (one on a traveling team, the other 2 at the high school level), and my husband coaches Varsity high school soccer, we do very little entertaining. But there are other small things to do to show a hospitable spirit!
As we sat outside under the grape arbor, and drank tea and ate cookies – Carla and I began to share. Most of my readers already know that I’m passionate about “making hospitality your own.” And this is what I encouraged these ladies to do. To start simple and to begin to learn what “loving others” is all about. To not fall into the “comparison trap,” as it’s so easy to do for all of us. And to not get caught up with too many details, so that it becomes distracting to your family.
These were simple things that I shared. And I bet there was not one new thing that they hadn’t heard before. Sometimes we just have to be reminded, or hear it from someone new. But as I encouraged mentors and friendships and sharing the civic and common life together – there was one very important aspect that I wanted to share. And that was that in order to make hospitality happen in a healthy way, it’s essential to love your spouse. It’s like a garment that we constantly wear, and as Colossians 3 says, we are to never be without it. Love.
Carla and I both shared experiences in our early marriages where we may have loved entertaining more than our husbands cared to be joining in with us. In other words, we were too “pushy” with what we wanted, causing strains on our marriages with what we were trying to accomplish!
There’s so much to learn, and then to remember, as a young mother. But I loved Carla’s “round-table” discussion idea that she has established with these gals. She’s become a mentor and guess what the easiest part is? That it’s happening right in her home!
Back to my jam – my family has decided that my latest concoction of strawberry/raspberry is their very favorite. I started using the “less sugar needed” Sure Jell, fruit pectin. For every 8 cups of crushed strawberries (top photo shows we’re still getting strawberries from our garden, can you believe it?) I add 4 cups of crushed raspberries (my friend Pam says if you freeze your raspberries first, you get a more intense flavor!) And then add 2 boxes of pectin and sugar, and follow directions on the pectin box!
It’s a delicious blend.
If you want to stop by my home, I’d be happy to share a jar with you …
(There is always a need for mentors with young mothers. I love how Donnetta is doing it, here. And Julia meets with young gals on Wednesday Nights, here. Read the inspiring post I Found my Niche, here. And with school starting up, read 5 Invisible Moms post, here and reach out to your kid's teachers!)
Thank you Ellen Crimi-Trent, who sent me this lovely "owl" drawing! I love how it fits into my outdoor “orange” themed bathroom, right alongside my kid’s artwork. (Read, I Love Orange post, here.) Ellen is one talented artist!