How Can We Homeschool and Show Hospitality?

God tells us in I Peter 4:9 to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”  If you’re like me, you want to obey the Lord and practice hospitality, and we as homeschooling moms know how much we desperately need relationships with other moms.  We also know that our kids need healthy, strong friendships, and that all of these relationships are built through the practice of hospitality. We bless others and are blessed abundantly when we offer the gift of hospitality. 

Watch Yvette Hampton’s conversation with Annie Boyd for The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast.

But how can we open our days to more people when our homes are already always filled up with children? I tend to feel overwhelmed on a lot of days with completing school and keeping our household running, and it’s not easy for me to be willing to welcome more people into our days. Do you feel this way, too? 


One summer evening, my mom invited our family to her home for a gathering that she called Favorite Pie Party. On that night, she showed the love of Christ through simple hospitality, and it really got me thinking about how I could incorporate some of these practices in simple ways. 

I wrote all about that evening and what I learned about simple hospitality in my family’s upcoming book The Gathering Table (Revell, October 2020).  This is what I wrote: 

“Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here!”

After experiencing hospitality from my mom during the favorite pie party and thinking about what the Bible has to say about opening up our hearts to show love, I got to thinking about some practical ways we can bring hospitality into our already full lives. I’m often one to measure things in volume—food, budget, laundry—so I tend to think I have to do something huge to be hospitable. But I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be big. Guests are actually relieved when it’s quite simple, because it means they don’t have to do something big either. See how good this is for all of us? I take the pressure off you—you take the pressure off me!

There are many ideas you can easily incorporate into your life to offer this type of hospitality.

“I’m so glad you’re coming! Just wear your comfiest clothes.”

Keep It Simple

I was recently invited to a book club by a new friend. The hostess texted me the day of the gathering to say, “I’m so glad you’re coming! Just wear your comfiest clothes.” That text relieved my anxieties about going to a new group. My friend let me know that it was important I was coming and that she was more concerned about the true me than a perfect outfit. When I arrived, I was greeted with a warm hug and a “Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here!” She proceeded to offer me a cup of coffee and a treat from a plate full of . . . Oreos!

Those Oreos and the fact that the other ladies were wearing favorite yoga pants and hanging out together on the couch made the evening comfortable and low-key. The relaxed atmosphere took the attention off of food, clothes, or home decor and instead helped us to focus on each other and some great conversation. This “come as you are and be yourself” attitude exhibited the love of Christ to me.

In what ways can you show hospitality in a similar, comfortable way?

●      Meet at a park and bring a picnic to share. When my kids were little, I invited friends to meet at a community center that had a play structure. We’d visit over a cup of coffee while keeping an eye on the kids. No one will feel any less “loved” because you aren’t meeting at your home.

●      Be spontaneous and casually invite people over. Last-minute often works better for some folks than weeks of planning. Intentionally focus more on the people rather than the food and preparations.

●      Host a “leisure club,” “informal book group,” or other gathering around a purpose and serve foods you can pick up at the grocery store. When your friends see that you didn’t stress, they’ll feel more at ease and open to conversation.

●      Like my friend did, text your guests before arriving to say, “I’m glad you’re coming. Just wear your comfiest clothes!” Your text might also say, “Don’t worry about childcare—come with your kids!” or “Come when you can!” Use texts as an encouraging way to show others you value them and their presence at your gathering.

●      Have some light, casual music playing in the background. Music sets the tone for the environment and helps guests (and hosts) feel more at ease. 

Most importantly, just ask the Lord for help and ideas to obey him in simple, doable ways. He knows you’re homeschooling, he sees your efforts everyday, and he wants to help you obey and show his love through hospitality. 

Author Bio:

Annie Boyd is  the wife of Shane, her high school sweetheart. She is the mother of five gregarious and adventurous children, whom she homeschools. She loves traveling, spending time outside, reading, and baking bread. Annie received her BA in elementary education and biblical studies from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul. She accepted Christ as a young girl and hopes to invite others to know about his love, faithfulness, and forgiveness. 

The Gingham Apron – We are five women from one Iowa farm family who love to find new ways to celebrate everyday life together. Join us as we plan family gatherings, try new recipes, take care of our homes, and educate our kids. We cherish our beautiful family farm, our time spent with our family, and most of all- our faith in Jesus Christ. 

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Excerpt and pictures used with permission. 

The Immeasurable Benefits of Homeschooling

Psalm 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

Just this week:

My kids had really runny noses. I became determined to get ALL that yucky stuff out of their systems, and I implemented nose blowing times at the top of each hour. With these determined efforts, nobody’s yucky nose turned into ear, throat or sinus infections. Victory! I counted this as a benefit of homeschooling because even with best intentions, a teacher wouldn’t have been able to give this much attention to my kiddos. Plus, I let them sleep in a bit to get over this little bug.

We met a group of homeschooling families at a park at 2:00 in the afternoon. This simple event was filled with so many blessings. First of all, we were able to go at a time when the park was deserted. Secondly, some of the kids were able to strike up a great game of basketball, which gave them fun exercise. Others brought out art books and drew whimsical pictures while lying on a quilt in the shade. Still others played a great imaginative game on the park equipment. Thirdly, we moms got to visit, laugh, and encourage one another in the middle of a week. Before we knew it, two hours had passed, and we reluctantly packed up to head home for supper preparations.

Yesterday, which was a Monday, some friends from our old home town visited. We were able to finish our schoolwork in the morning and then welcome them into our home and to a trip to our neighborhood pool. We had fun catching up, playing together, and then enjoying a fun meal that evening. My kids not only got to have a fun day on what would have ordinarily been a typical Monday, but they also got to learn about hospitality by helping to get the house ready and prepare some food. These experiences help them to taste and see the goodness of the Lord, especially his gifts of friendship and hospitality. They also teach them how to practically show God’s love by opening up our home and fostering friendships.

And then there are those tender, heartfelt benefits. The ability to say, “I love you so much, and God loves you even more than I do,” countless times during a difficult school subject is invaluable. The time that I’m afforded to sit down and really listen to my teenager tell me about her concerns in her social life is a gift that I will never be able to measure. Telling my son that I see how hard he is working and that I know he will continue to make progress is changing his life in ways that I will never know. These are truly immeasurable benefits that God has given to us.

I’m sure your week consisted of a cumulative series of events like these. I share these very ordinary snippets from my week because I am trying to see and count my blessings in the part of my life which is homeschooling. I find that looking for God’s faithfulness cultivates joy and rest in my soul. I already understand the academic and practical blessings. I know some of the statistics of ACT scores and I enjoy not packing lunches and not sitting in a pick-up line every day.

But lately I’ve been seeing some new positives that maybe I’ve overlooked in the past: the benefits of being able to rest and get back to good health more quickly, of enjoying the outdoors and sports with friends, and being able to host dear people on a Monday afternoon were just some of unassuming, everyday things that surprisingly bring so much joy to my family.   And I’m especially treasuring the seemingly small benefits of encouragement and relationship building, which deep down I know are the biggest treasures of all.

What are some of the hidden blessings in your life that come from this lifestyle of homeschooling? I encourage you today to give it a little thought, write down a few recent joys, or maybe ask your family to contemplate this question tonight around the supper table. If you’re struggling to see, ask God to show you. He’s so faithful to us!

Psalm 34:8a Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

 

Photos from Unsplash.com

Turn Your Thoughts into Prayer

 

It’s August, one of my favorite parts of the homeschooling year. We will be starting school soon, and packages have been arriving on our doorstep. Each is filled with something new and delightful: boxes of perfectly sharpened pencils, curriculum and student sheets from my favorite publisher, fresh markers that still have all the lids on them, clean workbooks that are not yet wrinkled and dog-eared. Hope and excitement abound in our home as we look forward to an exciting time of learning together.

As I place all these wonderful supplies in our school room, I get carried away with my thoughts about the upcoming year. Really, if you could hear me thinking, you’d know how ridiculous I can be!  I’m just certain that this is going to be our best, most peaceful, more creative, well… I get even more carried away… could this be a perfect school year? My thoughts are snowballing now. We’re going to accomplish more from the teacher’s handbook. We’re going to do all the recommended art and music lessons. We’re really going to go for it in science and get those experiments done.   If I just try hard enough, this year is going to be terrific!

Screech... my Pollyanna thoughts come to an abrupt halt as reality sets in. I remember long division!  I remember perfectly planned group times that are met with children who are not interested in history or geography or anything and refuse to pay attention. I remember the tears and whining, not just from the kids. I know there have been unmet expectations in years past. I know from experience that when I try to manufacture a perfect year in my strength, I quickly get discouraged and tired.

A heaviness sets in, in both my heart and my mind. This is my tenth year of homeschooling, and while it is a tremendous gift from God full of so many blessings, teaching my kids at home can be overwhelming and scary. The pendulum in my mind has swung and now I start to doubt. Can I do this again this year? Can we get everything done? Are my kids going to learn enough?

I turn to God’s Word. Jesus tells us so many times, “Do not fear.” He says to take my thoughts captive. An older, wiser woman taught me that taking thoughts captive doesn’t mean trying to turn them into positive thoughts. Instead, she told me to take each fearful thought and turn it into a prayer. That’s the best, most effective way she’s found to “taking her thoughts captive.” I love that there is an action I can take.

So that’s what I do. As I go about my days and new fearful thoughts come, I turn each one into a prayer. “God, I’m afraid of math. Long division just about did us in last year.” I talk to him like He’s a friend, because truly that’s what He is, and He’s instructed me in Psalm 62 to pour out my thoughts to Him. He doesn’t care if I talk to Him about math or markers, attitudes or astronomy. He answers me with this verse, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Ephesians 6:10. “Yes, Lord, give us yourstrength.  It’s unmeasurable.”


Later, another thought arises, and I pray, “God, can we really accomplish all that we need to in this school year?” I think of the promise in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” “Ok, Lord, I commit this year to You, and just like in all our years of homeschooling, please help it to be established in Your perfect will.”

Homeschooling mom, this practice of turning fearful thoughts into quick prayers may seem overly simple to you, but truly the assuredness of Psalm 94:19 is coming true in my heart. The Psalmist writes, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Friend, as we start a new school year, I encourage you to take your fearful, anxious thoughts and simply turn them into prayers. I’m not talking about down-on-your-knees prayer at 4:30 a.m. While that kind of prayer is wonderful, also let’s pray while going over the long division steps. Let’s talk to the God who cares while checking the spelling. Let’s shoot up an arrow of a prayer when our kids forget the short O sound again. Let’s pray for peace and focus with our kids as we begin group time.

Let’s ask God right now to take the load of this year and carry it for us. I’m convinced that we canhave our best, most peaceful, most creative year yet because of this delightful promise in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

Article and Photos by Annie Boyd of The Gingham Apron.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash