A Different Look At House Keeping and Preparing for Guests, by Sarah Latimer

Ladies, when you are out in your front yard watering and some indistinguishable person sitting behind dark windows of an SUV or truck drives by and gives a little honk and waves, what is your automatic reaction? Do you smile and wave back? If you live in a fairly safe community, you probably do. I may not wave back, but I usually look up with a smile to see who it is, and I may wave if my hands are free. Often, we never know who it is we waved at, unless at some later time we find out. We were just being friendly and expecting that the honk came from a friend or acquaintance being neighborly.

If you think back to when you were growing up, when you were in school, or when starting out in your work/career, you may recall someone who became somewhat of a mentor or role model to you. You knew them, and because of their older age, greater experience, and/or success you gave them a position of authority and great respect in your life. You always wanted to present the best of yourself to them. The mere thought of them motivated you toward excellence, and this may still be the case. These people are good to have in our lives, as long as we keep perspective that they are still human and not gods to be worshiped. (Everyone puts on their pants the same way.) There simply are those who inspire us, whether it is in career, relationships, homemaking, community service, faith, survival preparedness, or whatever. Now think about who fits this description in your life, before I take you on another tangent. Who is it that inspires you to present yourself/your work the best?

Now, imagine that you are in your old, bleached sweats or whatever you consider your grubbie clothes, whether that is jeans and a flannel shirt or a raggedy dress. You are doing one of those ugly projects inside the house that you hope no one catches you doing. (You know what I mean.) It could be cleaning out a big closet that requires hauling everything out into the open to go through boxes and so forth. It could be doing a messy project indoors that might better be performed outside if it weren’t bitter cold outdoors, or it could be simply returning from vacation and dumping several week’s worth of laundry, including underwear and socks, in the living room to be sorted and folded. You are doing this “messy” project that has cluttered up your living area when the doorbell rings. You open the door, expecting a delivery, only to find that it is this esteemed person who inspires you. Oh, no! Not only are you in your grubbies, but your hair is in a pony tail or under a bandana, and you have on no makeup. You don’t even have a good place for your special guest to sit down because you have things strewn across the furniture. You are ill-prepared for this guest!

In this kind of situation, we may make excuses, may try to talk to them at the door if their visit is brief, and may then scramble to grab things up to make a seat for them if they have come to talk awhile. We feel small and tiny. We feel insecure and off guard. We are not our usual poised selves. It’s a crisis. Depending upon the guest, we may get to a point where we can laugh about it, but we just hate finding ourselves in this embarassing situation. We don’t want our dirty laundry, literally, exposed to the people we most want to impress. However, it is what it is, and we must live with it.

My point here is that we just never know who is going to drive by or show up at our door and when they will come. We don’t know if they will be gracious or cruel either. So, though it is important that we keep our homes in order and prepared for guests, I want to make an even more important point that parallels this concept; we’ll discuss it further momentarily. I think most women understand the concept of keeping the living room ready for guests or in a condition that it can quickly be picked up for guests. I personally don’t think that a home is supposed to be sterile and continuously perfect. We live in our homes, so mine is not perfect…not ever. There is never a time that I can say it is completely and totally dust free. There will always be some dust hidden in some corner, behind some books, and under some things. There just will. However, I will do what I can to make sure welcomed guests feel comfortable and, well, welcomed. God wants us to be hospitable, and Jesus modeled this repeatedly by caring for the practical needs of those He encountered. He was practically the opposite of a plague. Instead of infecting everyone who toughed Him; He healed everyone.

Abraham welcomed the sojourners who would receive him and his message. Jesus welcomed those who would receive Him also, and He fed those who were hungry. We should be ready to welcome those who come to our door who are aligned with us, too, and to provide some comfort to them. From a business perspective, most of us have read about and/or been in some kind of training promoting the benefits of networking, so we know that building good relationships is to our advantage and we work at being hospitable to accomplish these benefits, too.

I keep some sweet breads in the freezer for surprise guests, and I always have coffee and tea ready to be prepared. It was my mother’s tradition to keep some banana or cranberry bread in the freezer, so I do too. Anytime someone drops by, I can quickly microwave some bread and have a nice treat ready in a matter of a few minutes. People appreciate a cup of coffee or tea and some sweet bread while we visit about the business, whether professional or personal, they have to discuss. This level of hospitality has always been considered good manners, in the way I was raised, yet I know this isn’t the way that everyone operates today. There was a time before I had a household of children/grandchildren when I went so far as to keep an “essentials basket” in the guest bathroom for overnight visitors who may have forgotten their toothbrush or razor or such. It was just part of my trying to make sure that anyone visiting had whatever they needed to be comfortable as best as I was able to provide it. I ask if guests have dietary restrictions in advance and plan meals to accommodate these restrictions. I let them know that they are important!

Many people don’t answer the door when someone unexpectedly knocks. There are good reasons to be cautious about who we let into our homes. It requires discernment to know who is friend and who is foe. Up until now, I’ve been speaking about courtesy to those we know well and can trust to be safe, but not everyone is trustworthy in our home and with our family.

While you may want your welcomed guests to feel comfortable in your home and you may work to be ready for their arrival and to make their stay a pleasant one, it is equally important that you be just as prepared for unwelcomed “guests”, ladies. This is not our usual mindset, as it is generally our role to ensure that our home is comfortable and hospitable. However, it is important to the safety and comfort of our home– ourselves and our family– that we get a defensive mindset as well.

We need to remember that our house is a building, but a home is built of people. From a biblical perspective, as your husband’s wife you are his home. You are to be his safe, welcoming place, and you are to make a place for him to feel comfortable. Without you, he will not have the encouragement he needs to be the success he is. We are our husband’s emotional fuel. We believe in them and love them. We care for them and are great supporters, allowing them be the head of our home. Of course, our husbands have even larger responsibilities to us, as their wives. They are to sacrifice their selfish desires to care for us and provide a home and provisions for us as well as protect us. It really is a team effort with some differences in roles and some that overlap a bit. It is a oneness, with each part longing for the other. I truly hope that you know this kind of marriage, if you are married! It is God’s plan. So, when you are thinking about housekeeping, remember to take care of the home, too. Take care of the people, because the building and possessions can be replaced when the people cannot! The people within your home deserve a greater level of protection than your property.

What do you think was the mindset of Teresa Stauffer Foster strolling through an Hawaiian garden on a Sunday morning 75 years ago when a pilot flew overhead and waved at her? She thought he was being friendly, so she waved back. This was just moments before this pilot and others pilots with him dropped bombs and fired upon ships anchored in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, killing more than 2,400. Theresa and the whole base were caught off guard by the Japanese.

We often hear about the men of Pearl Harbor, but there were plenty of women who were on the base doing their part also. Most were serving as nurses. They were young and single, as only single women were allowed to be nurses in the military at that time. It was a difficult position. Some women were on ships during the attack and continued to do their duty, rescuing and caring for the men who were injured. They had to have fortitude. I read how some pulled out their lipstick to mark who was believed to be treatable and who were not. It was a hard call to make, but it had to be done. They had to be strong and deal with what was in front of them. They had training, but they had not anticipated having to apply that training in such mass on American soil! The home was not guarded as well as it could have been! Fortunately, they did have training and jumped into action quickly and with conviction. I am impressed with what they accomplished and the job they did with strength, carrying on afterward, too. We must never forget the sacrifices that were made that day and in the subsequent battles of WWII! I’ve tearfully stood beside the sunken U.S.S. Arizona and said a prayer for the 1,177 souls who lost their lives aboard that ship 75 years ago and for their families.

So, ladies, if your husband is trying to talk with you about OPSEC (operational security) and defensive measures and you are resisting, maybe you should stop and listen again so that your home is just as prepared for uninvited, destructive guests as it is for beneficial guests. Just this past month, I have had multiple friends who have experienced unexpected tragedy, some which could have been avoided had they applied good OPSEC. I am sure that when you are out of your home in an urban street environment you are aware and on guard, but even when we are on our own property and in our home we should also be on guard and aware. We need to have our home in order and have plans in place in the event that either a welcomed person of dignity shows up or a very unwelcomed criminal shows up. We need to partner with our husbands in this area. Even if it is uncomfortable for you to think about firing a gun, consider learning. Like using any tool, it requires practice. Get the knowledge and practice. Your husband’s life and your children’s lives may depend upon your ability to defend them, and it may rest on your shoulders alone if your husband is injured. Your husband may need you standing beside him, too, if you face multiple intruders!

Every member of the family needs to have a role in preparing for guests of any kind. Most families with children have their children doing age-appropriate chores to help care for the home and property. This is a team approach and teaches responsibility and cooperation. When company is coming, children can pick up their toys and help clean. Should there be unwelcomed intruders with ill intentions, children need to have advanced instruction on what their job should be, too. This should be rehearsed so that when it is time to deal with a challenging scenario, the children will know what to do and will follow instruction readily. This keeps them and you safe. Just as we talk about fire safety and evacuation and we rehearse our plans, we should also talk about and rehearse schenarios for home invasion, teaching children when to hide, evacuate, and possibly shoot, too. Develop a family plan and work together, not to build fear but to be prepared. We have fire extinguishers in case of fire, and we should have weapons in case of attack. You don’t spit on a kitchen fire to put it out, and you don’t defend yourself from an armed intruder with a badminton racket. Be prepared to use a variety of weapons, including pistols and rifles.

It’s terribly embarrassing to have a house out of order when friendly guests arrive, but it could have a deadly consequence to not have a house in order for unfriendly, violent intruders. The friendly driveby “honk” may not always be friendly; they may be casing your place for invasion. Plan and prepare for either situation. Work out a plan. Learn to shoot, get concealed carry training, carry a knife, and be strong to stand by your man and protect your family in every way possible! It’s an important part of good house- and home-keeping!