The Hospitality Hibiscus

The hardy hibiscus plant is a true showstopper with its dinner plate size blossoms. Unlike its tropical cousin, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the hardy hibiscus is a perennial plant, which brings a tropical flare to a non-tropical flower garden.

As a child, my family spent many summer vacations at Myrtle Beach. It was there in coastal South Carolina, that my Mother fell in love with the hibiscus plant.

Tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. However, after returning home from South Carolina, Dad surprised Mom with the hardy hibiscus variety. Forty-four years later, crimson, champagne pink and white blooms with a distinct red eye, add a South Carolina tropical flare to my parent’s back yard.

One day I surveyed the streets surrounding my parent’s house. I was amazed at all the hibiscus plants I observed.

“Mom, I see beautiful flowering hibiscus plants in many of the yards here. Did you have anything to do with that?”

Mom’s laugh lines deepened, her grin served as her response.

“Seriously mom, even several streets away from your house, I see hibiscus plants.”

With a glint in her eye, mom replied, “Your Dad and I share our hibiscus plants with new neighbors, old neighbors, when someone is sick, or anyone who walks by. One day, your Dad saw Miss Helen out walking and asked her is she wanted a hibiscus. Miss Helen said, “Do I want a hot biscuit?” Laughing Dad repeated,  “Do you want a hibiscus plant?”

Miss Helen received a few hibiscus plants and she and Dad still joke about having a hot biscuit.

I counted over twenty yards with the beautiful hardy hibiscus plants, gifted by my parents. Some yards have all three varieties of color.

The Bible describes the use of hospitality in three easy ways: Show, Offer, and Practice.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2, NLT

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:9-10

Practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13

Showing, offering, and practicing hospitality are my parent’s love languages—their gifts. Mom and Dad serve as extra grandparents to the neighboring kids. Dad repairs bikes and scooters and helps to build pine wood derby cars. Meanwhile, Mom is in the kitchen, cooking a meal, restocking the cookie jar or restocking the freezer with popsicles—sharing whatever they have with others.

Show, Offer, & Practice Hospitality. Click To Tweet

Just as the tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Kindness, hospitality, generosity, sympathy, and compassion are also no longer native to our of our culture. By replanting these diminishing character traits we can begin to replenish our communities.

My parents have lived in the same home for forty-four years. They have planted hospitality for decades and have the unique advantage to see how their hospitality has blossomed over the years. 

Sometimes we plants seeds of hospitality, seeds of kindness, seeds of compassion and we don’t remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. But whether we stay planted in one neighborhood for a lifetime or move frequently we can practice hospitality right where we’re planted.

How can we show, offer, and practice hospitality with those around us?

~April Dawn White  © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Red Chair Moments, on location at my parents’ house.

Serving Pieces

“Serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

I sat on the kitchen floor, crisscross applesauce style, pulling out rarely used items from the base cabinet. With our home on the market, we need pack away any non-essential pieces. Three piles quickly emerged—store, donate, and toss. I wondered how I acquired this much plastic ware with out matching lids. Toss.

I slid over to the next kitchen base cabinet, and extended by back into a cat stretch, feeling the strain pull across my shoulders and back. This cabinet contained serving pieces. I carefully wrapped the cut glass serving dishes and my “good” Pampered Chef items in bubble wrap before placing them in the storage box. Once the box was full, I taped the lid closed and labeled the box:

KITCHEN: Serving Pieces

I reread the contents of the box “Serving Pieces” and looked down at my hands.

Our hands are built in serving pieces. Click To Tweet

Something was amiss. This level of pondering requires coffee. I opened the refrigerator door and reached for the half-and-half. A 1970’s white plate with avocado green flowers caught my attention. I smiled as I thought, “My mom still has these plates.” Nestled on the forty plus year old plate sat a homemade cheese ball. My daughter requested Grandma’s savory delight for her twelfth birthday.

My mind wanders to author Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. My mom’s language of love is Acts of Service. Mom serves on cooking and cleaning committees at church. Not a week goes by that she is not cooking for someone in the community. While the dining room is full of serving pieces and pink Depression glass, passed down from her mother, mom’s serving pieces are utilitarian and filled with love and prayer. Like mom, I also share in the Acts of Service language . Mom taught me, our hands are our serving pieces to wrap around others in need.

Our serving pieces are extensions of our arms to wrap around others in need. Click To Tweet

The microwave dings and startles me back to my current task. I sip the reheated liquid mercy, and ponder the significance of serving pieces. Our hands are our built in serving pieces. Our serving pieces are extensions of our arms to wrap around others in need, to push a grocery cart or a lawn mower for those who cannot. Our serving pieces become gnarled and wrinkled after years of baking meals for the ill,  recently widowed, or neighbor in need.

Questions probe my heart as I ponder, what about us, do we serve others well?

Do I serve God faithfully?

Do I practice hospitality on paper plate days?

Do I wait to plan the perfect meal and perfect moment?

After nibbling my daughter’s cheese ball, I return to packing. Only God knows how long our home will be on the market. However, should that keep me from serving? No. God calls us to serve. Our hands are our serving pieces, to share with those who are in need. From the bottom cabinet I pull out two disposable pans to make a homemade dish for a few shut-ins in my community.

How can you use your serving pieces (your hands) to wrap around someone in need today?

 

Mom’s Homemade Cheese ball Recipe

2 bricks of cream cheese

¼cup red or green pepper

2 tablespoons of onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon of seasoned salt

8oz can of crushed pineapple (drained well)

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix first five ingredients together.

Roll into a ball.

Chill.

Roll cheese ball into in chopped pecans.

Bible Verses about Serving

Serving God by serving others is one of the most important principles in the Christian faith.  Here are some verses to ponder as we joyfully serve others.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7).

“But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13).

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38).

How can you use your serving pieces (your hands) to wrap around someone in need today?

~April Dawn White

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

This article was first published on Inspire a Fire.com.

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