You don’t need a coffee sign, of course. It’s really just a fancy welcome mat that tells people I am happy they came to my house. It does create some curiosity among my neighbors, and it makes it easy to identify my house– I have the coffee sign. They all know it.
Our society is fractured and lonely. Every time we reach out a hand of friendship, we are shining a light in a dark place. The Bible word for hospitality just means loving the outsider. We can do that with or without a house! We can include others and make them feel welcome no matter what our stage of life and no matter who God has given us to love.
Still, inviting others into our house is a powerful symbol of kindness and welcome. For those who wanted to know about my sign but didn’t ask, here is what I’ve said elsewhere about how I use my house as a place of showing love to others.
Because we move every three to four years, how we use our home changes with each state and neighborhood culture, as well as our needs and the needs of each church we’ve been a part of. When I was a new mama, my hospitality was pretty limited! I was sleep deprived and often overwhelmed. In fact, that time in my life is mostly a blur! A lot of my “hospitality” was meeting other mamas at the park! I attended a ladies Bible study at my church. We didn’t do a lot of evening hospitality– Lee was in residency for pediatrics, so he was home and not home at odd times. He was often home sleeping when he wasn’t at work. Most of my hospitality happened outside of my home: at church and in the community.
In New Mexico, I still had littles, but because Lee’s schedule was considerably lighter, my life got easier, too. Still sleep deprived. Still dealing w the mess that three littles can make! (Laurel was born shortly after we arrived in NM.) God blessed me with a few other mamas who had children similar ages as mine. We did lots of park days together. I was too overwhelmed to do much hospitality by myself, but God brought a number of women my way who teamed up with me to reach out. I taught a music class for babies; my friend Amy found people to come. My friend Sara and I started teaching candy classes. I had a big kitchen, so she would find someone and bring them over. Sara and I made a good team– I couldn’t have done candy classes by myself with three toddlers running around! I discovered that having people over forced me to clean my house, so inviting friends over for a Bible study was partly because I needed the friendship, partly for other children for my own children to be with, and partly for the external motivation to wash my dishes!
In Texas, Lee did his fellowship in neonatology, so it was back to grueling work hours for him and long hours alone for me. I was homeschooling the children. The church we were attending had a thriving women’s ministry, but it was well stocked with older women and didn’t “need” any official teachers. I learned that ministry doesn’t have to be an organized thing. I don’t need authority or a position to love my neighbor. During this season, we were given a coffee roaster, and when you have amazing coffee, you want to share it. One of God’s precious gifts was teenagers who lived next door who frequently came over for coffee while they waited for the school bus. I just asked how school was going, what they were reading and learning. They were awesome, and they taught me not to be afraid of teenagers. They like it when someone loves them and asks them about their lives.
In Okinawa, my kids bought me the coffee sign one Mother’s Day. Originally, I thought the coffee sign would be great so the neighbor kids would know when we were done with school each afternoon. Their mamas were unsure when to let them come over, so turning on the coffee sign after school made sense. Truthfully though, I’m a distractible mama and didn’t always remember to turn on the coffee sign after school! In Okinawa, we first got the idea to make lattes for parents and teenagers on Halloween. The kids’ school schedule was such that we could do a four day school week and save that fifth day for museums, field trips, and ministry days. That’s also when I started making an announcement on facebook that I would be having a drop in coffee day. I tried to make it long enough to catch the young mamas with babies but also grab the mamas who picked up older kids from school and could drop by after that. We did some evening and Saturday coffee days too for my friends who had full-time jobs.
In Virginia, we just had a lot of coffee, and lots of mamas who came over. One of the challenges of mamas with young children is the feeling of isolation while they are learning to love their children. A small group of young mothers started coming over weekly. I made them coffee, we read the Bible together and prayed, with the tinies playing, watching, and listening. This was a fun time because a lot of the mamas who came over caught a vision for using their home to serve God, and they started taking turns hosting the group after we left.
Now we are in Hawaii. I’m still figuring out how to use my time wisely. My children are entering a more intense time of study, so I’m having to be careful that I don’t assume they don’t need my presence while they are learning. If I assume the responsibility of their education, then I must not neglect ensuring their progress. However, I do have more freedom to use my time for God’s kingdom. One of the reasons I quit my job as a teacher long ago was so that I had time to serve others as well as my children. I love the freedom I have in my schedule to love others!
Every family reaches different people in different ways. You may have an unsaved husband who doesn’t want company in the evenings. You may work during the day and be unable to have coffee visits in the mornings. Consider anyone’s story (including mine) as simply an example of how someone else is working out the biblical commands to welcome outsiders. God will show you how you can use your own resources for his glory.