When you welcome others to your home, you have a chance to make their lives better. Who knew that it could be so meaningful to create a haven for guests!?
My first year out of college, I accepted a job 8 hours from my family and was convinced I could make a life for myself. Make a life for myself I did. I made friends and had fun, but about nine months into my adventure, I realized all I really wanted to do was move closer to my family.
I didn’t know how it would happen, so I fasted and prayed for direction and a new job. But I felt like I had no direction.
Right around that same time, I offered to take a friend to a church in Williamsburg, Virginia, to fulfill a guest speaking commitment. We were invited to stay at the home of a pastor and his wife in Williamsburg, Virginia. While they were complete strangers to me, they served us a delicious pasta dinner, and while I can’t remember much about the actual furnishings, I just know their house felt like a home.
The wife’s friendly, God-honoring conversation helped me feel so welcome. And whatever she said calmed my anxious heart and encouraged me to trust in the Lord’s plan and direction for my life.
I don’t remember specific details, but I I remember the conversations and hospitality gave me much-needed direction during this challenging phase of life. Twenty years later I still remember how very refreshed I felt when I left the next day.
(And, for the record, God did work out all the details in less than a month. The details included finding a job and moving back closer to my family.)
As a guest to complete strangers, I quickly discovered how very important and sweet a haven can be.
Whether it’s family, friends, or strangers, creating a home that welcomes and nurtures others is a great gift.
4 secrets to creating a haven for guests
Think for a moment about a haven that you’ve visited. Do you delight in the thoughtful touches you notice? Do you wish you could stay just a while longer?
As I try to create a haven in my own home, I’ve found that it’s easy to learn from what I’ve appreciated from other havens.
I still remember a home of an older single woman I visited for just one evening more than 20 years ago. It was filled with memories of her life – photos, family heirlooms, and knickknacks she’d gathered on various trips.
Her home was tastefully decorated with these things, she had comfortable furniture and tasty snacks, but what I remember most is how welcoming and engaging she was.
As a result, I wish I could’ve stayed much longer. But at the end of the night, I left feeling loved and so refreshed.
Nothing was extravagant about her home, or any of the havens I so appreciated, I learned that I can create a simple haven that blesses others without spending much money.
By remembering these 4 secrets, you can help your own guests experience a haven like I did.
1. Focus on others.
I think the most important secret in creating a haven for guests is found in investing in others.
First look for others who need your haven. What friends and family members could use the welcome of your home?
Then, forget about being the center of attention and dominating the conversation. Instead, focus on getting to know your guests better. When you do that, you’ll instantly help others feel welcome and appreciated. Genuinely take an interest in your guest’s life, and then try to be an encouragement if at all possible.
2. Pick up your home.
It really doesn’t matter how you’ve furnished your home. But your guests will notice right away if things are picked up or thrown everywhere.
This doesn’t mean your home has to be spotless. On the contrary, it’s actually welcoming to have things look less than perfect. Seeing some sort of a mess will help others feel a little relaxed.
Don’t wait until your home is totally clean to invite others over, though. Clean a few rooms – and stay in those picked up rooms. If you have rooms piled with messes, just shut the door. (And if you’re struggling to find a cleaning strategy for your home but know company’s coming over, try a quick clean up.)
3. Serve some kind of food.
Just like your home doesn’t have to be fancy, the food you serve doesn’t have to be, either. There’s something special, though, about breaking bread together. To make it easier for you, think of a few signature things to serve, then keep ingredients on hand.
You don’t have to worry about serving a meal to every single guest that enters your home, but offer some sort of snack or drink. Adding this element helps relax the mood and give you something to enjoy together.
4. Don’t be afraid to share yourself.
One way to help your guests feel like they get to know you better is living in a home that reflects your own life. Don’t worry about fancy furnishings. And don’t think that you need to live in a model home. (Those are lifeless, anyway!)
Your guests will appreciate getting to know you better by seeing glimpses of your life. Photos, knick knacks or books that you’re reading can be great conversation starters. Even what you display on your refrigerator door shares a lot about you.
These four touches can make a huge difference in the lives of your guests. I know it’s true, because of how I’ve experienced havens.
A dear friend of mine always welcomed me and my family with open arms. Even though I knew finances were tight for her, she always went out of her way to offer simple but delicious snacks. Her home, even though it was filled with children, always was neatly picked up when we arrived.
As our children played together loudly, I could count on sitting around her kitchen table with a mug of coffee and having meaningful conversations together – even with the chaos of yelling children.
I always felt welcomed and wanted. I always felt like she was truly interested in what was happening in my life. And I loved getting to know her better as she opened her own life and home in vulnerability.
Just like I’ve discovered as a guest, these four secrets will help you welcome others into your haven and refresh them in a wonderful way that they might not ever forget.
What are some ways you like to create a haven for guests? What has helped you feel welcome as a visitor?
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All images courtesy of Unsplash.