With so many lonely people in the world, I hope to inspire others to practice biblical hospitality by treating strangers and friends alike. One way to do this is by creating a space for people to build community with those around them to form deeper relationships and find a place to belong.
I’m sharing the story of someone who deeply enriched my life, in hopes that it will inspire you to do something simple that reaches out and includes others. Sometimes the little things you are already doing can help build a community for those around you and maybe even help them grow as a person. That was true for me. I have a long list of people who have invested in me over the years and helped me become the woman I am today.
This is How One Woman Welcomed Me and Others Into Her Family
In my early twenties, I had the blessing of my friend’s (at the time, brand new) mother-in-law, Gail. Since I have always been a bit domestically challenged, this woman was a godsend. She introduced a few friends and me to the art of quilting, some fantastic treats (which I have since served to many, many friends), and was a role model of biblical hospitality. She helped us build community around this fun new skill.
This remarkable woman encouraged us and shared wisdom once a week as she taught us to quilt, but she also provided a wonderful community for us. She gave us a place to get to know each other and grow our friendships as we all learned from her.
I remember walking into her house and the comfort I felt. The smell of whatever she was cooking or baking was evident the minute we entered. Her house always smelled delicious and was beautifully decorated. We could tell that she wanted us there.
Upstairs, there was a room prepared for us where we set up our sewing machines. She taped little paper bags to the sides of the table, so we had a place to put our scraps (brilliant, right!). And she often had little gifts for us. Gail thought of everything.
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We were so lucky to have her.
I remember thinking, “How lucky is my friend to be marrying into such a great family!” And she indeed was. The great thing about it for me, though, was that I was included.
***For the record, I did end up marrying into a fantastic family and am abundantly blessed... in case you were wondering.
I learned much from Gail as she listened to our problems, offered counsel, laughed with us, fed us delicious treats, and taught us how to quilt. She allowed us to be ourselves and went along with our silliness. (We were pretty goofy back then… and by “we” I mean me. I was pretty goofy)
Gail was safe. She made us feel loved, and we could talk about anything around her.
So many of the things she did have since been incorporated into how I welcome others into my home and life today.
I don’t have her charming house and natural ability to make things beautiful, but there are things that I have been able to incorporate into the way I welcome others. The most significant impact came from who she was, not what she had. Here are some of the things I remember about what made our time with her so influential:
She included outsiders
While she could have used that time to bond with her daughter-in-law alone, Gail welcomed her friends. I can’t remember how it all came about. We may have just forced our way in for all I know, but she always made us feel wanted. For example, she prepared the house for us and received us with a smile and a delicious treat each week. I felt honored to be included and always looked forward to “quilting night.”
As you can probably tell, I really knew how to party when I was in my 20s!
I now strive to include others in the life of my family. I’m not perfect at this, but I have experienced its tremendous impact on me and sincerely desire to share that with others.
She baked us delicious treats.
It’s funny how many of my favorite memories involve food. I have always been a bit domestically challenged, but I began trying my hand at baking after my time with Gail and the other girls. We loved everything she made and probably ate way too much while we were at her house, but I was in my early 20s, so my body could handle it better back then.
One thing that I never forgot was her Pumpkin Eater Pumpcakes. These are the most addictive pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes and possibly the most addictive treat I have ever had. Luckily she was willing to share the recipe with me and told me I could share it with you. See how wonderful she is!
Get the recipe here ———->>> Pumpkin Eater Pumpcakes
If you are domestically challenged like me and think that recipe is too hard (it’s not, anyone can make it), or if you are looking for a vegan option! Here is a super easy cheater version of the Pumpcakes she made for us!
Get the recipe here ———->>> Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins
She taught us a new skill.
Quilting was one of the first things I did that made me feel like I had accomplished something. I remember going to the fabric store with my friends to find the perfect fabric, ensuring that two of the patterns “read as a solid.” She told us it might be more challenging than we thought to choose. Boy, was she ever right about that! I’m pretty sure I may have laid on the floor of the fabric store crying at one point and then laughed until my stomach hurt. It is such a great memory. Luckily, I ended up loving my choices.
As we worked on our project each week, every new step brought new struggles, successes, and poked fingers. It also brought fun facts. For example, did you know that the best way to get your blood out of fabric is with your own spit? And did you know that the Amish purposely put mistakes in their quilts because nobody is perfect but God? I haven’t fact-checked either of these claims, but they seem legit.
Gail shared something she was passionate about and built a fantastic little community with us. That group was like family. Now I try to share things that I know about with others. Although, I recently learned that my greatest strength is liking people… I’m not sure how to teach that.
She shared wisdom about life.
One of my favorite things about being with people older than myself is listening to their stories and gaining wisdom. She was obviously in a different life stage than me since her son was marrying one of my best friends. Her children were all lovely humans, and I wanted to learn her ways. Gail and her husband had a great marriage. Watching her interact with her teenage and adult children was great for me to witness.
I choose to welcome people in and show them our real life. What you see is what you get with my family. I try hard to make others feel like they belong, and I hope to get better at it as I become more and more intentional.
She shared her faith naturally.
I honestly don’t remember any one specific thing she taught us about God, but I remember that she lived out her faith. After all, it was over twenty years ago. But she didn’t preach at us. She lived her life in a way that made me want to know God more. She was an excellent example of biblical hospitality to us girls, as she welcomed us in and made us feel like we belonged. Gail treated us as family.
I think we all long for others to accept us like family.
While it was fun to learn to quilt, the time spent gleaning wisdom from her in a safe environment where we could be ourselves was much more valuable.
I’m getting teary-eyed as I write just thinking about this time of my life and the close friendships formed. That sweet community of friends became like family. We now live in many different states, but their impact on my life was huge.
They will always be family… and Gail will always be our adopted “Mother-in-law.” Oh, how I hope I can be that for someone else one day.
Let’s Follow That Example
Will you join me in this endeavor?
Is there something that you do well that others might want to learn? Offer to teach them. You would be surprised at what people want to learn. For example, I have a friend who created a group to crochet animals to give to needy children. It was a blessing to those who showed up to learn and the children who received the gifts.
Can you keep a plant alive? I’m there! I want to learn!
Are you great at food prep? What a perfect opportunity to build community with others while teaching a valuable skill.
The list is endless.
You don’t need to have it all together, the main thing is to invite people into your life. This is how friendships are formed. You never know what a blessing you will be to others, and in my experience, when I invite people in, I end up being the one to have my life enriched by others.
There are a bunch of great books out there on this topic. Here are a few if you are interested. Click on the book, and it will take you right to Amazon.
What are some ways that you have found community?