DISCLAIMER: I received this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. Want to be a B&H/LifeWay blogger too? Apply at bhbloggers.com.
CHANGE A GENERATION WITH SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS AS INVITATION.
For many of us, inviting people into our lives and homes feels more like inviting judgement on our entertaining skills and stress on our already maxed-out schedules. But what if you knew that opening your front door had the power to radically change the world? To make an impact and leave a legacy with everyday invitations?Jen Schmidt has set out to reframe how we think about hospitality and to equip us to walk a road of welcome in our daily lives. Jen knows that every time we choose open-door living–whether in our homes or by taking hospitality on the road just like Jesus–those we invite in get to experience the lived-out gospel, our kids grow up in a life-lab of generosity, and we trade insecurity for connection. Just Open the Door is a personal yes-you-can guide to offering the life-changing gift of invitation. Whether you’re a seasoned host looking for renewed inspiration or a nervous newbie not sure where to begin, these personal stories, practical ideas, and poignant insights will give you the confidence you need to see your home as the most likely location for changing the world around you, one open door at a time.
I think many of us can relate with the pressure we often feel when it comes to opening our homes and lives up and entertaining guests. Usually, there is a sort of dread because we feel like everything should be perfect and presentable at all times for all people. And, if you’re like me in this respect, sometimes it keeps you from opening up your home and life altogether because that little voice of fear and worry creeps in and spouts off all of the “what if’s”, and we all know what they are! In Just Open the Door, Jen Schmidt encourages our hospitality hearts with some hard but beautiful truths throughout the entire book. I love to serve. It’s just the kind of heart The Lord gave me. Which also means that I love hospitality! But I am definitely no stranger to the lies of the enemy when it comes to hosting parties. I have bought that lie that says everything has to be picturesque and perfect, which wears my hospitality heart down. Reading this book gave me a refreshing perspective on what it truly means to show hospitality and defined the difference between entertaining and hospitality. In fact, Jen makes it beautifully clear right from the first chapter: “Hospitality, unlike entertaining, treats everyone as a guest of honor rather than grasping at honor for yourself. Opening your door has nothing to do with the actual setting, the guest list, or the food. The atmosphere can be exactly the same yet have very different results based on the heart attitude of the one who welcomes”. Ouch. But, it is so so true. And, in the very same way, it’s indicative of what Jesus is all about. Throughout Scripture, you see that “He instructed His people to if their time, energy, and whatever meager possessions were on hand, demonstrating hospitality to traveling strangers by feeding and housing them after an exhausting journey”. Hospitality is not just serving others, it’s serving Christ. When we give hospitality, we are embodying the very nature of Jesus Himself. He led by example all throughout Scripture, and we have bought into the lie of the world that we have to have everything perfect before we can even open our door, much less our lives, to others. In reality though, this is the exact opposite of what we are called to do. This book has wrecked my expectations and mindset of what hospitality truly is and has shown me how to be hospitable and throw to the curb my own ideas of hospitality and model it all after Jesus and not people. In Just Open the Door, Jen opens up about her own personal struggles with hospitality and what she thought it meant, but doesn’t stop there. She gives advice on how to overcome the stigma of perfection with simple practices to shift our mindsets and begin walking a road of welcome in our everyday lives. One of those practices she implemented was reminding herself of her home’s desired purpose that has nothing to do with appearances. She set it to words to remember, and here’s what it says: “May our home be a safe, refreshing haven where everyone is loved, valued, and welcome; a soft place to land where real life happens. When guests arrive, may they sense a joyful ‘Welcome Home’ spirit that points them to Christ, and may it permeate in such a way that every single person feels as if they can truly make themselves at home”. What a beautiful reminder! Honestly, when I first read that, I immediately wanted to frame it and hang it my own home as a daily reminder. Another bit of truth that hit me hard was when she said this: “Our home is a place where everyone is welcome, yet may I never wait until I’m ready to swing those doors wide open, because if I wait, it will never happen”. When we take all the pressure off of ourselves, it makes serving a lot less daunting and a lot more beautiful. There were so many little truth bombs in this book, and I couldn’t possibly list them all. Speaking of pressure, when we feel pressure for perfection, we often have the discussion amongst ourselves of “I have to….”. Can you relate? I have to fold the laundry. I have to do the dishes. I have to make the bed. Whenever we tell ourselves that we “have to” do something, it steals our joy and brings discontentment, doesn’t it? When it comes to hospitality, it’s no different. We tell ourselves we “have to” get all this done. Jen kindly offers a word of advice that I want us all to remember “When discontentment begins to settle in your heart, turn a “have to” attitude into a “get to” attitude, and it will elevate your ability to press in and learn to love what needs to be done, regardless of how you feel. Start cultivating a garden of “get to” moments. How much different would our heart toward hospitality be if we started thinking in terms of “get to” instead of “have to”? And that doesn’t just go for hospitality, it goes for every aspect of our lives. We “get to” serve others by inviting them in to our homes and our lives, even when it’s a little messy and less than perfect. To me, that’s beautiful, and it’s exactly like God. We are not perfect, and yet God welcomes us to His table freely with no holds barred, no second guesses, and no standards. The only thing that matters is the purity of our hearts and souls to Him. I encourage you friend, if you struggle like I do with your hospitality heart and perfectionism, give this book a read and let it shift your expectations of what it looks like to walk a road of welcome. Let’s do it together! You can find a copy here or wherever books are sold. What are you waiting for? Let’s walk a road of welcome together, shall we?