Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tornado Time Before Hospitable Hosts

by: Topher Wiles
     We call it “Topher’s Tornado Time.”  I realize that one word, tornado, may elicit fear and trepidation during this upcoming fall season, but it is still an accurate description of what happens when we prepare to host people in our homes.  It begins when I ask Ashley, “What do you need me to do?”  It follows with a list, an elevated voice volume, and a flurry of activity.  Our pre-hospitality routine might sound stressful, but when my inner tornado comes bursting out as I organize last minute preparations and cleanings ahead of the visitors to come, our family is always blessed.
     One of the lost family-strengthening arts of this new millennium is the learned skill of hospitality.  It’s like the paintings of Bob Ross; hospitality is easy enough that anyone can do it, but rare enough that it is a joy to behold.  Our family has found a high value in sitting around the table to a simple meal with guests, sharing a board game in the living room with friends, and laughing over stories while we enjoy ice-cream and a brownie.  Each of these activities is easy in its own right but seems to be a rarity among people in our generation.  When we invite a family over, we benefit in several ways.
     First, as the “Tornado Time” illustrates, our house gets cleaned!  We try to have families over to our house about once a month, which means I must pick up all my “I might use this next week” tools, file the piles of mounting paperwork, and clean up my rancid shoe area.  Ashley and I don’t have a mansion compared to most and you can tell that every inch of our home is well used, but we do reach a better level of livability once we’ve been motivated to pick up and clean for others.
     Second, we’re given the gift of deeper intimacy with friends and family when we sit around the table at home together.  Yes, restaurants are nice to enjoy with others, but conversation flows so much easier and freer when you’re in the safety of a home.  When people see pictures of your children on the walls, scripture that inspires, or marks on the door denoting children’s height as they grow, your guests will open up about their own experiences, memories, and funny moments.  Some of our best moments in life have been shared in conversation around a table at home.
     Third, our kids make better friends. Sports, clubs, and classes are decent for friend making, but nothing fosters friendship faster than when another child sees our tote of Nerf guns sitting right by the back door and the inevitable Nerf war follows.  Children of all ages enjoy our Lego loft, our sandbox, and the magnolia climbing tree in the front yard right alongside our own kids.  We’ve seen our kids’ sports, clubs, and class experiences enhanced because they have enjoyed relationship building moments with friends in our home. 
     If you’re interested in showing hospitality to another family, here’s a couple of our top hosting tips.
1)      Your home doesn’t have to be grand, perfect, or spotless.  Work through your OCD and perfectionism. Don’t spend all your time making apologies for your home, either. Do the best you can to prepare and then move on with enjoying your evening.  Hospitality is not a burden but a joy.
2)      You don’t have to have the most amazing meals.  Hospitality is not a baking contest.  Grilling is great in the summer and soups are great in the winter.  Trust me, nobody will turn down an easy “breakfast for dinner” complete with pancakes and bacon. 
3)      You don’t have to be an extrovert or even a people-person to enjoy hosting.  Introverts often do best in the comfort of their own home and flourish within the safe feeling of their own walls.  People of all types can host an enjoy each other’s company in the ease of your own home.
     This summer we hosted a friend from Indiana along with her four children, for five days.  Did we mention that there are already six of us, our home is 1100 square feet, and we have only one bathroom?  You might think that eleven people in a modest home would be a recipe for disaster, but we had such a great time, better than we ever expected!  We enjoyed renewing our friendship, going on adventures together, and sharing meals.  Our kids have talked for weeks about the fun we had together.  We can’t wait to do it again.
     Like any skill, hospitality becomes easier the more you practice it.  Years ago, after moving to a new area in northern Tennessee, we began visiting a new church.  We were just a young married couple with a toddler when Harold and Dorothy Trammel invited us to their home for supper.  The Trammels were in their 80s (quite different from us!) but their hospitality helped us to settle in and made us feel like family.  They had a routine menu used when they invited people over and you could tell that they had practiced hospitality so much that they easily went about their respective task.  We felt loved and their hospitality gave us such a strong point of connection with them and the church.  The Trammels are gone now, but we will always remember them with love because of the hospitable welcome they gave to us.
     You might not need to experience the flurry of cleaning activity that comes with a “Topher Tornado.”  In reality, I hope you get so good at hospitality that your process is much more peaceful like the painting of Bob Ross.  Yet, I believe that if Bob Ross can make a comeback (check out the Halloween section at Walmart), then the lost art of hospitality can too.  Now, just let us know when you’re coming over.  We’re happy to have you.

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” – Romans 12:13
     The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,