“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice Hospitality.” Romans 12:13

I used to be intimidated by the word hospitality. To me, the idea of hospitality felt like an ordeal that generally included both formality and fanciness. Entertaining resembled assigned seats with place cards and coordinating linens and dishes. And of course, a wonderfully prepared gourmet meal with all the courses. Not that these things don’t interest me, but opening up my heart and home in this way can make me feel more like I’m trying to be Martha Stewart rather than being the loving (laid back) neighbor or friend I desire to be.

As I’ve experienced more of life and received various forms of hospitality, I’ve realized that hospitality is not necessarily complicated nor does it need to be formal or fancy. What it does require is both effort and intention. Hospitality is quite simple when you reduce it to its core, it takes a combination of two things – noticing and showing up.


My family and I are currently walking through a challenging season. My husband David received a medical diagnosis a few months ago that turned our small world upside down. So now we are walking through cancer treatments, practicing waiting patiently, and hoping for the best. 

In this season, I’ve realized how much I desire others to notice me, which is not my normal mode of operation. As more of an independent, take-charge type of person, it’s tough for me to admit that I need my circles to really see me right now, especially as I walk through this difficult time. It’s humbling for me to share that, yes, I do need your help and your hospitality.

However, I’m also learning through this time that on the flip side, I want to do a better job of putting on my own hospitality glasses and intentionally looking around to see who is hurting and who is in need. It’s not always easy to notice others who may need our hospitality, but with an intentional heart, you are more apt to see who needs to be seen.

This is exactly what our neighbor did for us right after the news of David’s diagnosis. My neighbor noticed us and immediately emailed us a Grub Hub gift card. So simple, so thoughtful, and so kind. My heart was touched for how she recognized what we may need and what would be a gift to us. Another example was when my husband’s co-worker’s wife reached out to me via text and said, “We are bringing several prepared meals to your home and no is not an answer.” Although we didn’t know if meals would be an obstacle for us or not, the fact that these friends took time to notice us and what may be helpful, brought us an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort. We felt seen and loved because they recognized our needs.

Showing Up

Not only do we want to be noticed, but we also desire for others to show up in our lives. And this doesn’t just need to be when we are struggling or going through a crisis. We need people to show up for us over and over again. It’s what builds relationships and makes us feel connected.

Showing up means taking action and pressing in. It can be easy to notice someone (and their needs) and then simply move on. You may say a quick word of encouragement or ask the open-ended question – “Let us know if we can do anything.” And while these are nice gestures, they are not necessarily hospitality in action. Showing up is finding ways to be present in the lives of others in tangible, practical, and thoughtful ways. 

Last spring, David and I had signed up to run a Half Marathon together, and for obvious reasons, he was no longer going to be able to run the race. So, guess what? Our friends and family stepped in and showed up! A close friend of David’s ran in his place and under his name (and got an outstanding time I might add). Then my brother-in-law and sister flew out to join us for the weekend and rallied and raced. They cheered him on and encouraged him with their presence. Just like my husband’s other close friend who texted me and told me to reach out to him whenever I might think that David would need him to call, text, or even fly out. He wanted me to keep him in the loop for if/when David needed his support. He pressed in and made himself available. 

Showing up is where it’s at, it’s what makes hospitality a gift and truly blesses both the giver and the receiver. The effort or intention can be as simple as purchasing a gift card that is texted directly to the person or dropping off a note or card or texting on a regular basis and communicating that no response is required. Hospitality should be a gift to the receiver and not require more effort on the end of the receiver.

With the holidays approaching and the questions arising of how to celebrate, who to visit, and what to do – it may feel overwhelming, but I hope you can work to keep it simple. You may sprinkle in formality or fancy as it fits, but keep in mind that hospitality is about noticing others and showing up in their lives. It’s giving what you have to give to help meet others’ needs. It is so much less about what it looks like and so much more about how it feels. This is the heart and the why behind hospitality.

As Mother Teresa said – “Live simply so others may simply live.”