And Tonight’s Guest Is . . .

Less than 3 weeks ago we took hospitality and hosting to a new level when we started to share our guest room on Airbnb.  Our listing went live late on a Wednesday evening.  Living in a small borough we thought it would be weeks before we’d get a hit.  We were wrong.  Thursday afternoon we received our first reservation for four nights.  From that point on we have had steady traffic.  We have now hosted four guests over 12 nights and have two more guests booked this week.

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Eighteen days after opening our home, we have learned:

  • There is a greater demand for overnight accommodations in our little town than we would have ever guessed.
  • Travelers don’t make reservations too far in advance. Some requests come in for the very same day. None of our guests have reserved more than a week in advance.

Our first guests were a pleasant young couple from the Washington DC area.  They made a same day reservation.  While chatting after check in we learned the husband was from Bethlehem, “PA.”  Not Pennsylvania, but Palestine.  The irony was not lost on us that one of the first people we had room for was from a place where there was no room in the inn for Jesus.

Two gentlemen, while only booking short term rentals, were in need of transitional housing while they fulfill contracts with nearby businesses.  Both of these gentlemen were a pleasure to host and each asked if we would consider a long-term rental agreement with them (30 days or more).   They commented on how they visited other possible hosts and preferred our home.  We offer a private guest room with access to 1/3 of the closet. They share the bathroom with our long term tenant and friend, Scott.  Guests can make use of our kitchen and share the living room with us.  I am certain it is not the most spacious, or fanciest place they’ve stayed, yet they have stated they felt most comfortable here.

Jerry noted that some of our guests seem to have many more resources (financially) than we have, yet they are restless and searching.  We have less in the way of financial resources, but share joy and peace in our humble home. Our hope is that what guests are experiencing is the presence of the Spirit of God.

We started hosting for the income, it is an “easy” way to supplement our budget.  We have quickly learned that this type of hospitality is about so much more.  As we consider reservation requests, prepare the room, and engage with each person for who will occupy it, we pray for them.  Interacting with those who pass through our home is broadening our understanding of other cultures. We pray it has also planted a seed in their heart of the eternal home that can be theirs with Jesus.

Stay tuned and see how God continues to use this venture for His glory.

feedback.jpg                                                                                                                       Have you stayed in a host home or Airbnb while traveling?  If so we’ll love to hear your experiences.  Please comment below, or on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you are reading this.

To Life!

In 1984 then President Reagan wrote an order proclaiming the 22nd of January (or the nearest Sunday to that date) to be Sanctity of Life Sunday.  The particular date was chosen as it corresponds to the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision.

Typically in Christian circles this day focused on the unborn.  In my earlier years I participated in some of the peaceable demonstrations of advocating for life for every human, whether inside or outside the womb.  In more recent years I have come to see that sanctity (the holiness, sacredness) of life goes far beyond the birth process.

I share the following ideas, not to promote Jerry and me, but to prod your thinking in how you could be a standard bearer of the sanctity of life.

We have shared our home with many who were in need of a place to live, and perhaps more a home and family.  Some stayed with us a short time, others longer term.

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Photo Credit:  Merelize
  • There was a single mom who just gave birth and did not have a safe place she could take the baby.  I spent many hours cuddling and holding that baby.  I prayed over him and sang to him.  I don’t know what became of that mom and child but I pray that as the baby grew the knowledge that he was deeply loved by his Creator  was a seed that grew with abandon in his life.
  • There was a lady recovering from a serious car accident who needed a home without steps.  Insurance was done providing rehab for her, but she could not yet return home.  Often people in this situation fall through the cracks and can become homeless or institutionalized.
  • Jerry used to say he never knew who would be at our house when he came home from work that day.  We cared for a dozen or more children of all ages who either lived in their birth home or foster home.  These kids, and sometimes the parent, needed a break. I can only imagine that some of those parents were encouraged in years gone by to give their child life only to be challenged by raising that child (perhaps with a disability or other diagnosis) and had no where else to turn.  They needed a break and some support.  Being able to welcome that child and give some relief to a parent for a short break is supporting the holiness of life.
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Photo Credit:  Stuart Miles

Maybe you don’t have room in your home for another person or two; there are other ways you can engage in breathing help and hope into another’s life.

  • Purchase a gift card, or leave some cash anonymously (you have to know the situation to do this) with the parent who is struggling .  Perhaps you would help  them buy diapers or formula, or maybe your gift would be a few bucks extra to get her hair cut or her nails done.  This reminds Mom she has value and worth as well.
  • Offer free babysitting even once a week so the parent can pursue their minimum wage job and reduce a bit of child care costs.
  • Make yourself available to those who may live from crisis to crisis, or have no other healthy supportive people in their lives.  Over the last couple of months we have twice been told that prior to talking with us their plan was to take their life that night.  That’s pretty powerful.  We didn’t do anything special.  All we did was answer the phone and listen, or open the back door and invite someone in and give them a shoulder to cry on, and a hug to remind them they are not alone.  Life, even when it hurts is holy!
  • Build into the life of someone who may not have a family nearby, or any longer.  This might be someone who is new to your area, or someone who was raised in the foster care system and never adopted, or any other number of reasons.  If may even be someone who lives a lifestyle different than yours.  Get to know them as a person – not with the idea to change their life, but to change yours.  To share your life and the blessings God has given you with someone else.
  • “Expand” your family.  Hold on – I am not suggesting anything too drastic here.  I am thinking of the young single woman who recently called us and asked us to be grandparents to the little one growing in her body.  She wanted her child to have the influence of people like us.  Sadly (for the mom and us) that child is now being held in the Father’s arms in Heaven before we ever got to meet him/her.

Lastly, for those of you who live a life of faith – don’t hide your faith!  We experienced the ultimate  sanctity of life recently when one of those above who was in crisis gave their life to Jesus when we simply asked the question, “Where do you think God is at in all this?”  Can there be any better way to celebrate life, and life eternal, than introducing someone to our Heavenly Father!  As the circle of life goes round last night I was feeling down, this new believer, for the first time, texted me a Scripture verse that had encouraged them, and now it ministered to me.  Isaiah 41:13  “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Sanctity of life . . .  not a one day event, or even a nine month journey.  The sacredness of life needs to be celebrated and protected; as the name implies, throughout LIFE.

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Photo Credit:  James R Gray