Entertaining: What is the Real YOU?

Sometimes we love safety so much that it stifles us.

And we don’t grow beyond a certain point, which means we miss out on many of life’s blessings.

Hospitality is one of those life blessings.

This email came through my box the other day. As a reminder to those who’ve been trying to win a copy of The Reluctant Entertainer the past few months … the library may be just for you!

Entertaining has never come naturally to me. In fact it is so painful and causes so much anxiety for me that I avoid it at all costs. I have lived in my home with my husband and two kids for nearly eleven years now, and except for a couple of last-minute hanging-out-on-the-deck times I have never had any of my neighbors or friends over to our place for even coffee or drinks, let alone dinner! The only time I have entertained has been for obligatory occasions such as my kid’s birthday or Christmas with only closest family over. Its gotten to a point where I simply am honest with many people about how stressed I get, explaining that I’m “working on it” and hope to have them over soon. Thank God those who know me well have been very understanding.

But this is not the real me – I have a solid sense of hospitality in me somewhere down deep, I just know it! I’ve prayed about this and asked God for his guidance and help with this and when I needed it, believe me He was there for me helping me to pull it off. But this past Christmas really did me in – I have just really been suffering over how big an issue this has been for me and all of the feelings of inadequacy I have about having friends and family into my home and preparing for them.

It was only a quick run to the library today, when I had to renew a book. I decided to take a quick look through the New Non-Fiction section and when I came across your book, The Reluctant Entertainer – well it just blew me away!

To have a book written on the exact issue I’ve felt plagued with?

I didn’t think anyone else has ever even struggled with this before let alone written about it! -A Reader

Do you feel like there is more to the “Real YOU,” when it comes to hospitality?

19 comments on “Entertaining: What is the Real YOU?”

  1. I just had to reply to how the block party went. Rather…I want to note that I survived. Not only survived but had a great time! I wish I had more time to get to know the neighbors (I was running after our 2 year old, husband running the grill).

    Someone even mentioned if I wanted to have a seat?
    Yes was my answer as I ran past. But that is a side note.

    So now I think entertaining is like exercising. Without a plan and determination you won’t do it. So my goal this year is to plan more (often), worry less…keep the 2 year old in the back yard for a bit (confusing why one day he can run in the street but not another)

    Exercise is good for our bodies, entertaining is good for you soul.

  2. Exhausting, overwhelming, stressful. Those are typically the words that run through my head when I hear the phrase “we should invite so and so over”. And when I let the fear take over and never get around to seeing our friends it saddens me. Time lost.

    This year we are in a new house and consequently have many new neighbors. The tradition around here is to have a block party once a year. The usual block party team is experiencing a missing member. Guess who has “reluctantly” signed up to help out. Yep. Me. Now what?

    I keep telling myself I’m not in charge and I’m just helping. No one will point fingers at me and say the party was in shambles because I was involved. Perhaps this is just the ticket to get me out of the comfort zone I like to stay in.

    I’m sure inviting two people over will be like a cake walk from now on.

  3. Oh, I so want the picture-perfect in every aspect of my entertaining. I need to remind myself (constantly) that perfection is not only unattainable, it can come at a big price. Namely the inability to enjoy my guests as a result of my exhaustion and crabbiness. In my head I’m the perfect hostess. Not so much in real life. There has just got to be a middle ground!

  4. Oh my goodness…I felt like I was reading about myself. I have been putting off buying your book for some time now and just following your blog. However I think this post just confirmed that I really do need to read it. Hopefully through prayer and reading your book I can conquer whatever this is that plagues me.
    Thanks so much for all you do!
    Blessings, Sarah Hardy

  5. Entertaining has been something I have always loved to do. Even in high school; my friends and I would get together and have dinner parties (pretty nerdy, I know!)
    Here we are many years later, and one of my favorite things to do is gathering around the table with people I care about. Especially at a time in our lives when we are all busy with work, carpools, sports, and day to day life. Having dinner together helps us stay connected.

  6. Malinda,
    I love your story. Learning how you “fuel up” is and will be consistently beneficial for you. I get where you’re coming from because, personally, it takes a bit for me to be able to put out the production. I get my fuel from the hours before, preparing, imagining and tasting. Of course that minute (hour) before everyone arrives is sheer madness in my brain – but regradless that peace and comfort that comes when I see the smiles or licking of fingers – that look of the dude wondering where the last of . . . went. It all makes it clear – that this is the recharging that I need – plus a moment the next morning for the dishes and a mimosa.

  7. Jekyll & Hyde here!
    I *love* to entertain. The thought of it makes my heart sing. My husband is very supportive and does almost anything I ask….but I must ask. The invitations go out….phone/e-mail/mostly – sometimes mailed – rarely. I get planning…not that I do these things very far in advance….I’m sort of last minute…1 week kinda thing. Like today…I’m hosting some friends for my dh’s BD. I decided on Tues, but was too busy and so my e-mail invites didn’t go out ’til Wed….for Sat. We get who we get…and love them. That’s the good stuff.
    The house doesn’t seem to cooperate…I get behind the 8-ball…and then I’m grouchy and I say (yell?)…why did I *ever* think to do this…”Don’t let me do this again!!!!!” My poor husband.
    You know my problem? I want everything to look like Martha. I’m not Martha…I’ve got to remember that people come to my house to see me….and to feel the peace that’s here….or at least usually is except when I have my freak-out. Okay…friends arrive in 2 hours…what am I doing here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Oh, yeah…I did have to sit down and rest…for a minute!)
    Thanks Sandy for helping me gain perspective.

  8. I love to cook and am pretty good at it, but I have to admit, it’s always stressful to invite people over, esp. those I don’t know too well. There is definitely the “performance anxiety” issue as well as wondering whether those invited will like what I serve or be comfortable in my home. But I do feel that sharing a meal is a great way to deepen relationships, and if the guests judge me too harshly if something isn’t perfect, maybe I won’t invite them back anyway! Ha ha.

  9. I didn’t grow up in a family that entertained, but the need and desire to invite others into our home has always been in my heart. We would look through the church directory and invite people we didn’t know to come for dinner. I love to cook and used to make delicious dinners, but as I aged, I find I sometimes have trouble timing so everything is done at the same time. This had been upsetting for me, until I realized that my guests were not only willing to help, but truly enjoyed it. They were happy to be helping and calming a frenzied hostess, who was happy to sit and watch.

  10. I can relate! I would love to entertain more, but feel restricted by my husband and his expectations.

  11. Boy do I ever feel like there is more to me when it comes to sharing my home with friends. My hangup has been being overly concerned about space. I lways want to go big and with a small house I tend to forgo a get together rather than just going for it not caring about squeezing everyone in. As always i am a work in progress darlin’ :)

  12. wow…what great, thought provoking questions you always pose (C: I think that, yes, there is more to me. Sometimes it’s just sheer laziness that keeps me from doing something, or fear of what others might think.

  13. I have a wonderful husband who is very charismatic and a great
    sense of humor. As a young bride (seventeen years ago) he would
    ask sweetly, “So when are we going to have so-and-so over?”
    I would look at him like he was crazy.
    I am an introvert, somewhat, and the idea of people over to my
    house sounded draining. I love one on one in a coffee shop, etc.
    I would put it off as much as possible and drag my feet.
    I had enough learning to cook for two and decorate our little
    bungalow nest together.
    As sweet babies came along and grew, I began to realize that showing
    hospitality was not only mentioned in Scripture, which I base my life
    on, but my children NEEDED me to show hospitality.
    A transformation began to take place in my heart (God’s doing) and I slowly got my
    toes wet and grew. I read lots of book. Practiced. Studied what didn’t work & worked.
    Now, I really look forward to entertaining.
    Two barrier I had to overcome: my house does not need to be perfect AND I
    do not need to make a five-star meal.
    My children have been learning so much as we have entertained.
    They have learned the behind the scenes preparation and have particpated.
    They have also learned the gentle art of conversation with a host of characters
    sitting at our table: former hippies, missionaries (great stories!), college students,
    single moms, foreigners, homeless families and list goes on…..

    Not only did my heart transform, but I feel like it has been an education for my
    precious children as well.

  14. Oh my heart aches for this person. I believe our culture puts too much emphasis on everything being so dog-gone perfect…causing anxioty for people…but you know that.

    Your book was an answer to her prayer. So awesome!

    • that is so true! My MIL is a perfect example of NOT caring what other people think. She loves having people in her home and she doesn’t hesitate to make each one feel welcome. Her house may not be decorated in the latest trends and styles (but it’s filled with things she loves) and her food not gourmet (but always satisfying), but it’s her heart and her love and her confidence in herself that makes people LOVE being there.

    • That is one inspiring MIL you have! I think we can ALL learn from her example.

  15. Again…another amazing post Sandy…I just love all your are doing and teaching though your life. My husband and I have just had this conversation…how easy it is to keep having the same people over for a meal…and in doing so making our world just a bit to easy and small.

    I am committed to bringing new friends…(single and not just married by the way!) to our home….esp single moms….The bibles says when we look for ways to give to people who can not give back to us…we are actually giving to God himself. What an amazing thought!

    I like to define hospitality as a message we give others about their value…it is not about impressing others…but rather giving comfort and care. And oh my the world needs more of that!!

    Making my list today…


  16. Alas, I could not find that book in all of the libraries of Kansas City when I did an online search. I can throw HUGE potluck type parties but the sit down with just a few makes me hyper-ventilate. I’m getting better….pushing through, trying to find lots of help on fun blogs.

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