I love all things receiving people into our home and loving on them but it wasn’t until I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts by Sally Clarkson that I was challenged to show hospitality to my 9-month-old. It seemed a little far-fetched. Yet, I began to realize that showing hospitality to Hunter, was just as important as showing full grown adults warmth and generosity, if not more so.

Even though hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts, Sally’s words convicted me: I hadn’t fully invited Hunter, my baby boy, into my life.

Hospitality is willingly making space and welcoming someone into your life with generous love, not out of a feeling of obligation.

During the first few months of Hunter’s life, I wasn’t open to the idea. He was disrupting my schedule, my work life and my relationships. Instead of a loving reception, I extended frustration and tears. I felt as if the idea of hospitality didn’t apply here because it was a one-way road. I got bitter about having this new family member that changed EVERYTHING.

My mom would say, “You are such a good mother. I know you didn’t think you would be but you are a natural.”

My inhospitable heart response was, “Well, I have to keep him alive and functioning. I love him but I don’t know if I fully love life with him.”

So, to show hospitality to Hunter, I needed to make space in my heart, my daily moments and every facet of my life. So, what does that look like and how can you express hospitality to your kids, toddler or teenager? Here’s some practical ways I am trying to incorporate hospitality into my home.

Making Space in my Heart: Walk with the Spirit

You knew I was going there. To show grace and generous love, you need to be filling yourself up with God’s presence and scripture. Every morning as Hunter naps, I go to my favorite spot in the house and grab my devotional (currently it’s the Guide to Prayer for All God’s People). I spend just 15 minutes praying, reading and journaling. This sets my heart right before God and allows me to make that heart room for Hunter

Making Space in my Moments: Learn their Personality

It is sooooo easy during play time to listen to a podcast, answer emails or “gram” my thoughts. I hope I am not the only mother that finds it hard to be engaged with playtime. Yet, I think making space for Hunter to be in my moments is learning what his personality needs are.

Sometimes, Hunter really enjoys playing independently. When I go in to swoop him in my arms he gets frustrated and wants to get back to what he was doing. Making time for his independence is important to him.

Other times, Hunter is crawling in my lap, pushing my phone down and wanting eye contact. So, I put away what I was doing and give him the focus he is asking for. Sometimes he wants me to see what he has just learned or he wants me to sing songs to him.

Often, my reluctance to show hospitality comes from my selfish desire to do what I want to do. Yet, discerning his needs and allowing him into my moments, even when I may be doing something else, shows him the generous love he needs.

Making Space in my Life: It’s a Journey

Just when Hunter and I are understanding each other, communicating well and finding our rhythms—he changes. We have to re-learn our days, nap times, and rhythms all over again. And I know this doesn’t end once we leave the toddler stage.

Showing hospitality to our kids means that we are patient with the process. We do our best to communicate with them when they are reaching out and offer generous love when they are falling apart. God did the same for us, when Christ laid down His life at the cost of everything so we could be hospitably welcomed into His family. We demonstrate His care and grace through the ways we tend to our children and show them they don’t have to do anything to receive a warm welcome into our lives.