I may have mentioned that hospitality isn't necessarily a gift I have naturally. It takes prayer and work for me. Joel actually probably has the desire and gift more naturally than I do. He has an ability to make anyone feel welcome, at home, and at ease no matter who or where you are! His mom is much the same way.
Something I remember and think about sometimes is a conversation Joel and I had when we were talking about getting married and our future together. We discussed having children, and whether or not I would stay home with our kids. He said he would love it for me to stay home if we were able, and I wanted to (ummm, yes!). He told me that he loved that his mom was always at their basketball games and 4H events while they were growing up ~ usually with a treat for them and their friends. Later, when they were older, he remembers their were always extra people at his house (especially on bread-baking day!). His mom welcomed the extra kids (even though she no doubt had enough cooking to do with 3 growing boys all over 6'4"!). Usually one or two would hang around for dinner, which she always stretched out to make sure there was enough for whoever was at the table.
Even now, many of Joel and his siblings friends love my Mother-in-law and father-in-law. I'm pretty sure it has to do with their open home and loving spirit towards them growing up.
Joel and I hope that our home will be buzzing with the activity of our children and their friends. We hope to have extra kids for dinner. We hope to have a happy place in the memories of our children and their friends! Mary Helen's best friend right now is a sweet little boy. We have him over to play a fair amount, and almost every time, the first place he goes is the cabinet where he knows I keep the snacks!
Speaking of Joel's mom, all of her children, their spouses, and their children were in town this weekend. Here are a few snapshots of the 17 of us!