We were friends before we ever lived in the same town. Pinterest led me to her blog a week before we traveled to Alabama, and then I chanced to meet her at a park. We knew pretty quickly that we were best friend material.

That summer we decided to move to her area, but first we had to go home and pack up life in NY. She kept our friendship alive during those three crazy months–calling me when I was in the middle of the overwhelm of packing boxes and keeping four children alive just to say, “I miss your face.”

Our first morning in Alabama I was walking across the meadow from our campsite to where our doublewide had been set, and there she was–running across the green to me—our first guest, arriving before our house could even welcome her. I ran to meet her. We hugged. And she handed me a quart jar full of green smoothie.

After two days on the road and no kitchen to cook in yet, it was the most delicious thing I’d tasted in a month. This was hospitality.

They’re allergic to gluten. We aren’t. Yet we love to hang out together. So, I’ve learned to cook some meals that all our kids like–and that don’t make anyone break out in hives. But sometimes we wanna get together when we haven’t had time to plan. I’m out of rice pasta. Or potato starch. I can’t make anything they can eat–and my kids don’t like their lettuce boat tacos.

We’ve found a solution that works. It goes against most, if not everything I was taught about having guests in my home. I text her, “Let’s do aBring Your Own Lunch.” She arrives with her cooler full of meat and veggies, I loan her a pan. I throw our glutenous lunch in another pan, and we slap it on paper plates and call our combined eight children to the table. No one complains—they’re all hungry from a morning of swimming—and the fellowship we crave happens.

Hospitality is _TrinaHolden_Pinterest

We can share a table even when we can’t share our food.

Three years of living in a bus, or in a house full or moving boxes, or an even smaller house full of boxes, or being on the road with no home at all for days or even weeks at a time—this season has taught me a thing or two about hospitality.

It’s reworked my understanding of what hospitality is supposed to look like. It’s helped me to see that hospitality is not something that only happens when circumstances are just right—when you have a table big enough, the right kind of food, the time to plan, and the energy to execute the plan.

Hospitality is an art, not a science. Science has boundaries, rules, expectations, limits. Art is without rules. It’s open to individual interpretation—in fact, that’s what art is all about.

Hospitality is not about carefully worded invitations, planned menus, set tables, invited guests, set times, and the usual places. It’s about loving others well, whenever or wherever the opportunity presents itself, each act an original masterpiece.

That means hospitality can be a smoothie in the middle of a meadow, or fellowshipping over diet differences. It means hospitality can happen despite language barriers, social expectations, space limitations, and mismatched plates.

We know this. We all nod in agreement. But we still need to write it out. Speak it to ourselves and each other so we hear the truth. Hospitality is an art form. It will and should look different for each of us. So, go forth and create your art.

Hospitality Of Art Banner

Trina Holden / Posts / Blog
Trina Holden is a modern-day gypsy, currently parked in Alabama where she and her husband encourage families to thrive through real food cookbooks, classes, and consulting. Together they homeschool their four children, drink gallons of raw milk, and dream of their next road trip.
  • Avatar
    Leah Adams

    Yes, hospitality is so much more than just food. It is an attitude and a heart. Thank you for sharing how you and your neighbor created beautiful hospitality that works for both of you.

    September 30th, 2015 15:17
  • SimplyDarlene

    Eight people (2 parents, 6 kids) once spent the night at our place, a doublewide at the end of a dirt road. Knowing they’d only be there for breakfast, I’d labored over muffins and fruit salad, and despite being a vegan, I bought bacon and gathered eggs aplenty. As I was setting the table, the mom put her hand gentle on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “Darlene, we brought boxed cereal and milk. Here, please set the table with these paper bowels and plastic spoons. We want to spend time with you, not watching you cook.”

    She said eating cereal would be a real treat for her family because normally they eat big meals at breakfast. She also said she apprcetiate my hospitality, but wanted to extend some of her own. We could eat cereal too!

    I bagged the muffins and froze ’em and my family ate the fruit salad, but we froze some of that too… to later use in green smoothies. (Ha! I knew there was a connection to your story buried somewhere in mine.)

    October 1st, 2015 11:13
    • Avatar
      Jeremy Holden

      Darline, I always enjoy your stories, and this one will stick with me for a long time…”We want to spend time with you, not watch you cook”. What an example of gracious hospitality both you and your friend were to each other. This is true hospitality!

      October 3rd, 2015 12:12
  • SimplyDarlene

    Ooops, what I meant to add before submitting was:

    thanks for this reminder Trina. It is an art – how we extend grace, and receive it.


    October 1st, 2015 11:16

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