Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Hostess with the Mostest Heart Palpitations

I've always been in awe of those who entertain with ease.  I guess we admire people who possess gifts that we feel we're lacking.  I'm sure you know people who have the gift of hospitality.  They're those people who can whip up a dinner party in no time flat and with seemingly so little effort and stress that they enjoy the gathering as much as their guests.  Surely, a few people have popped into your head by now.  I know several come to my mind.  I seem to be rich in southern girlfriends who are gifted that way.   

Last night, we were invited to our friends' house for dinner.....and this particular friend is always that way.  Laurie answers the door all calm and collected.  No smoke alarms going off.  No nervous pit stains on her blouse.  All the food timed perfectly.  David takes the meat off the grill just as the potatoes finish cooking.  The rolls and pie crust- both the shade of golden brown only seen on the cover of the Southern Living Annual Recipe Book.  Everyone is relaxed.   
I consider any hostess, who doesn't sweat through their clothing during the party, to have the gift of hospitality.  That would rule me out.  I look and feel like I am on fire when we have people over.  Don't get me started on how my heart beats like a bass drum in my ears. 

Now, it's not that I can't cook or that I don't know how to set a table or design a centerpiece.  It's the fact that there's just so much to think about.  Timing the food.  Fretting over its doneness.  Imagining the ER full of your friends in 4-6 hours with abdominal cramping and projectile vomiting.  Is everyone's tea glass full?  Is the conversation flowing or did I hear a few seconds of silence?  Is there enough food?  Are their children really swinging from my curtains?  She didn't eat much of her corn casserole.....wonder if it's too salty.  Oh, my word.....look at the size of that cobweb in the corner of that window.  I hope the dog isn't doing what I think he's doing to his stuffed toy.  I should have put another clove or two of garlic in this.  Oh, no, did I point the knife blades in the right direction?  Are they having fun....because I'm not.  Is it hot in here?  (One thing I've learned is that any hostess, who is not blessed with the gift of hospitality, has in internal body temperature 5-8 degrees warmer than that of her guests. Fact.)

It may shed some light on my hospitality inadequacies to know that Blair tagged me in this video, a few months ago, as it reminded her so much of me before company arrives.
In Bible times, I would've probably been a Martha.  Martha's off in the kitchen making the sweet tea, setting the table, and she's as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs as my Daddy would say.  She's clearly irritated at Mary, who's sitting on her bottom doing nothing to help.  I know that irritation, too.  When you're flustered, irritation flows like a swollen river.....like when company is set to arrive in 12 minutes and Davis is out in the garage organizing his toolbox or something equally irrelevant to the situation at hand. 

Anyway, Mary clearly forgot that the main goal of entertaining is actually visiting with the people you've invited into your home.  It's hard to do that when you're sweating profusely and counting heads to see if you have enough lasagna and salad forks to go around.  I imagine it would be super duper stressful if your guest was the Son of God.  What if you saw Jesus sit down in the chair where the cat usually sits knowing how bad she sheds?  Or if you thought his chicken breast was too dry.  Or if there were water spots on his tea glass.  Or if one of your kids blurted out something about how you say bad words, sometimes.  So, yeah, I can totally relate to Martha.  She had a lot on her mind and if her cloak wasn't soaked completely through, I'd be amazed.   

Now, Mary.....well, she was a different story.  I suspect she did have the gift of hospitality.  She was sitting down and not worried about anything but communing with her visitor.  First and foremost, she was going to visit with her most distinguished guest in the history of forever.  She was probably thinking that when they got done and were ready to eat, she'd go in there and help Martha serve it up real fast.  Mary, how did you do it?  So relaxed.  Hello, um, Jesus is at your house!! 

I may not have the gift of hospitality which is why I usually suggest we just meet our friends at restaurants.  What I do have, though, is the gift of focusing on all the wrong things.  I'm super talented that way.  I'd like to think that if I'd been Mary and Martha's roommate and Jesus had come to our house that I could've discerned what was important and what wasn't.  I'd like to think I would've spent more time listening to what I needed to hear instead of worrying that the pillows weren't fluffed on the sofa or that there was a dust bunny under Jesus' wingback chair.  But, I can't be too sure that's where my mind would've been.   

Jesus told her, "Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  Only one thing is essential and Mary has chosen it....."  Luke 10:41-42  MSG

Ouch.  That hits all of us Marthas in the face.  In entertaining and in life, I hope that whenever I get the chance, I'll choose the substance over the surface.  That I'll focus on the presence not the pretense.  That I'll look at the content not the cobwebs.  That's where the best of life is.

Y'all have a good one!                     


  1. Good morning Joni, my sister is a very good hostess, wonderful meals, always asking if the guests need anything and a pretty table. The best when everyone is feeling relax and enjoying each others company.
    Have a nice day, Kathleen in Az

    1. And I bet she doesn't sweat through her clothes either! Maybe with a horse tranquilizer, I could be that way :)

  2. Joni, We entertain quite a bit and I've learned over the years to lower my standards, accept offers of guests bringing food -- and make it simple! If you struggle with the timing of the meals, why not try making a one-dish meal, throw a salad kit together, buy a cake from the bakery and call it a meal. I used to do things much more elaborately but I don't have the energy to do that any more. Plus, for a lot of people they feel uncomfortable with that and much prefer a relaxed, simple meal. Just have fun! Blessings sweet Southern Sister!

    1. Oh, Barbara.....I can tell from here that you have the gift of hospitality! I may try some of your tips and see if that helps me any. :)

  3. Great reminder of what the important things are!

    1. If only it was that simple, Jee Jee! It sounds good on paper but actually putting it into practice, well, that's a little more difficult for me!