EVEN PRESIDENTS LOVE COTTAGES...
One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson, which says,
"I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give."
If you have ever visited Monticello, you would probably agree with me that you would hardly call it a cottage. I tend to think of a cottage in terms of square footage, which I think is incorrect. Living a cottage lifestyle is about much more than square footage (and anyway, a "small" house is so relative). I think it is about living a lifestyle of simplicity, ease, and home grown comfort. Unpretentious. Living a cottage life is not about impressing others, but rather holding their comfort and enjoyment of your home in high regard. Loving your neighbor as yourself. When I think about being in other people's homes, I am surprised by the visits I that I remember as being the most enjoyable. One in particular stands out. The house was a mess (and that is generous). It was a large family, full of chaos and craziness, yet when the wife invited us in, she made no apology for the state of the house. We have all been there...we walk into someone's perfectly immaculate house and the woman says "I am so sorry about the mess, I haven't had a chance to clean". I admit, I have caught myself saying the same on many occasions myself.
Anyway, this woman made no apologies, just greeted us warmly, and set about preparing the meal. She asked about us, how we were, as children ran around underfoot. She set me up chopping something for lunch, Matt setting the table. We felt like another member of the family. They were having us over to spend time together and enjoy a meal. There was no elaborate spread, just simple good food. We worked together preparing it and I was glad that she felt comfortable with us and didn't feel the need to spend hours before our arrival cleaning and preparing. I always try to keep this memory in my mind when I am preparing to have friends over. It is about enjoying one another's company, spending time together, blessing others with our hospitality. And most importantly, glorifying God with the attitude of our heart. I realized a few years ago that I had so much pride (in a bad way) about having others over. It was all about making sure my house was perfect and the food was perfect and my children acted perfect. And then it hit me. We aren't perfect. We are sinful and in need of God's grace ALL THE TIME!! So why was I putting on airs? Now that I have been a homemaker for several years, and have several small, messy children, my ideals have changed, for the better, I hope. My favorite type of hospitality is when a friend drops in late at night, when I am already in my jammies. I might fix a cup of hot tea or coffee and we just sit on in the couch, talking late into the night in a quiet house. It is simple, it is unassuming, and it is honest. The way I would like all of my life to be. I want my hospitality to be a true reflection of myself, and of my values.