Sunday, May 18, 2008


Win a free, autographed copy of A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman and a sampler pack of tea from Tea & Traditions. Details following interview.

Would you be surprised to know that hospitality has less to do with you, your house or your fine china and more to do with making others feel comfortable? Author of A Life That Says Welcome, Karen Ehman clearly explains what hospitality really is. Karen is a wife, homeschooling mom of three, author and speaker. God has gifted her in making the once seemingly impossible task of hospitality seem possible. In her book she includes recipes, decorating tips and much more.

We are excited to share our interview with
Karen Ehman. Be blessed and encouraged by the wonderful insight she shares!

What inspired you to write A Life That Says Welcome?
I wanted to share the lessons I learned about the difference between what the world calls "entertaining" and what the Bible teaches on hospitality. I learned this lesson the hard way when I married into a family full of cooks, decorators and bed and breakfast owners while I myself could barely boil water! I tried for years to impress my new family until God taught me a much needed lesson. Also I wanted to provide lots of practical and doable ideas for decorating, cleaning and cooking for guests.

My favorite definition of hospitality comes from your book: “Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home.” You explain that the Lord began to teach you the difference, how important is that in your ministry?
Very!!!! It must always be about God's glory not ours. When it isn't, we fall flat on our faces every time!!!

In your book you discuss the biblical sisters, Mary and Martha. You praise Mary, but also defend Martha, why?
She was serving as best as she knew how. Jesus and his entire entourage was coming to her house after all! Someone had to cook and clean and get things ready. It was actually Mary's behavior that would have seemed odd in that culture. Women were not supposed to sit at the feet of traveling teachers. They were to do exactly what Martha was doing. Actually, today I think we need to do both. We should sit at Jesus feet to learn how to serve, then we should serve with all of the gusto Martha had, just minus the attitude!!!

Why is it so important to extend hospitality first to our families?
So we don't end up living out a huge contradiction!!! We don't want our families to remember us moms pulling out all of the stops for company, but not attempting to ever do anything beyond frozen pizzas for our own family!!! Our husbands and children should be the primary focus of our efforts, not the recipients of all of our leftover goods and goodies.

Tell me a little about your ministry of hospitality. Is there one experience that stands out above the rest?
It varies with each season of life. For years it seems it was other young moms and their kids over for a play date. We moms could share while the kids played. Sometimes it was a neighborhood Bible study group we hosted for those who had never studied the Bible for themselves. Now, often it is a group of hungry teens "hanging out" studying for an exam at the homeschool academy or goofing off after the ball game. As always, I try to make others feel welcome by providing a place to unwind and simple food, but plenty of it.

What are a few simple steps you could share with someone who knows the Lord is calling them to extend hospitality, but they do not know where to begin?
Start simple. Don't invite a lot of people for an entire meal. Invite one woman for tea. Or invite a mom and her child for grilled cheese sandwiches and cookies. From there, branch out.

Your newest book The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized is obviously about organization, can you tell me how organization ties in with hospitality?
It ties in very closely because if our home is in relative order and we aren't over-committed with our time, we can have the confidence and the white space in our calendar to offer hospitality to those whom God is nudging us to.

How can we learn more about your ministry and/or purchase A Life That Says Welcome and your other books?
Visit me at to check out my blog, my books or inquire about having me speak to your group. I'd love for you to leave a comment or bookmark my site and visit when you can!!

In order to win, you must leave a comment about tea or hospitality on this post by midnight on May 28th. You may enter only once. The winner will be selected by a Random Integer Generator. We must have a way to contact you, so in your comment leave your email address in this format: info [@] yahoo [dot] com. The winner will be announced here on Wednesday, May 29th and will be contacted by email. Your prize will be mailed to you directly.


Anonymous said...
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Tea & Traditions said...

Leave email address like this

janedoes (@) comcast (dot) com


Anonymous said...

I strongly identify with Ms. Ehman's comment that our hubands and children should not get our "leftovers". It is so important to show our immediate family our hospitality so that it naturally flows into every thing we do in life!
connieanddavid[@]bellsouth[dot] net

Susan said...

I really liked the definition of hospitality. I always tend to be intimidated by having people over because I know I am not the best cook, but I know I can make people feel loved. Thank you for changing my paradigm!

jamielee said...

I see you popping up again on the FISH mom's group! Thanks for this interview! Now I want this book! I just wrote up a post this week about hospitality... I'll link to it for my URL.

my email is

Anonymous said...

Tea is like a blanket that fills your tummy and your senses with
a tranquil secure warmth. I so enjoy your comments about hospitality and
your endless knowledge of teas and ways of helping others enjoy them.
Thanks for all the tips and continuing to help us enjoy this tradition of
serving those you love.

Anonymous said...

Life is so hectic with a house full of children but, when we slow down long enough to visit with friends we all feel blessed. The best part of all is a closer friend! As an aside, the blueberry tea is fabulous iced and everyone in our house has been enjoying it on these warm afternoons.

krisdell [@] bellsouth [dot] net

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the interview. I do agree we need to start with our own families and then extend outward. Having someone over for tea is a great way to share hospitality with others. Then you can branch out to luncheons etc. I like the one on one or small groups best because I can really focus on that person and make them feel special. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading your books in the near future.

Org Junkie said...

I have only just discovered the joy of hospitality. I look forward to having a look around here. Thanks!

Kristen said...

Recently I have been incredibly convicted about my lack of hospitality. I chalk it up to a tiny living room and a seminary family's budget, but the truth is that my pride has been in the way of truly serving the people in my life. Karen, your comments on hospitality are challenging.

kristen (dot) munson (@) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

This is encouraging because I love to "entertain" guests but don't always feel like I have the money, energy, etc. The best compliments I have received, however, have been when the focus was the person / people in my home instead of how everything looked, tasted, etc. Thank you for reminding me :)
j_kollen (@) hotmail (dot) com

Jerralea said...

I agree with what Kristen posted. I want to practice hospitality but my pride stands in the way sometimes because of my housing situation. I do really want to overcome that.
prov31grace [@] yahoo [dot] com

Anonymous said...

You have encouraged me to once again attempt hospitality. With many "Martha Stewart-type" friends, hospitality is intimidating to me. But, with your books and God's help, I know I can begin once again to have friends over with confidence. And the "family first" admonition brought conviction on my heart. Yes, family should always come first with hospitality.


Anonymous said...

I read Karen's book a couple of months ago and was totally Blessed by it! (I borrowed it from the library, but would love to have my own copy!) It was a confirmation that I need to obey God's command for hospitality... I had been in a dry season and the Lord is opening up New Life! Thank you ladies for your ministry and to God be the Glory!


bitterroot (@) yahoo (dot) com

gotta have green tea said...

Great definition for hospitality!
I learned from Romans 12:13 that hospitality is actually defined as kindness to strangers and is taken from the word meaning to be a friend to strangers.
All of this is thinking of the other person above yourself as the author states.
So, if you can't 'entertain' at home you certainly can be kind to a stranger in many different and innovative ways all the while practicing hospitality.
I enjoy having others to my home especially for tea, but get in the overly 'Martha' mode at times.
My present situation is I have moved to a different state in a neighborhood that is just being built, so I really don't know a soul to have over for tea. I've learned until I meet some women to have over to practice hospitality in other ways.
A smile for a stranger who looks stressed, letting someone cut in line at the store or as new houses go up and new neighbors move in to take them a little something to meet them.
Thanks for the encouragement to keep it up!
standfirm1613 (@) gmail (dot) com

Kelly said...

I have had a few tea parties at my home over the past several years and they were really fun. There are some women at my church who love to have tea and occasionally we will all get together and go out for tea at a local tea shop. I would love to have another tea party at my house, but lately I feel overwhelmed working full-time, living room needing a paint job, new puppy, etc....I know that it is very important though to reach out and a tea party is a wonderful way to enjoy friends.

Kelly said...

Oops forgot to leave my email address:
keeekers (@)harbornet (dot)com

Anonymous said...

Tea & a good book sound like a great way to spend an afternoon


Newbold Family said...

I agree with showing your family hospitality first. Elizabeth George also talks about that in A Woman After God's Own Heart. Thanks so much for inspiring me to branch out in the hospitality area, even if my hallway walls need some major work!!
newbold_p (@) bellsouth (dot) net

Betty said...

I really enjoyed the interview, and the book sounds delightful. So often the most memorable times I have spent in someone's home have been ones of simple fare, good friends, and a caring, sharing atmosphere. A good cup of tea with good company is something to be treasured.

Lisa Neal said...

I love thinking about hospitality in this way. I am always running around so much. I just need to relax and enjoy my guests. Thank you for this interview and for the wonderful teas!

Julie Coleman said...

Karen "gets" hospitality as God intended. I spent years worrying about having a perfectly tidy house and homemade everything to offer to guests. But that is not what makes me comfortable when I go into someone's home! It is their excitement over my being there and their willingness to sit and chat as if I am the most important person to walk through their door. So I decided to stop worrying about apologizing when things aren't perfect. Instead, I focus in on who is in front of me.

info (@) juliecoleman (dot) org

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I am learning that less is more when it comes to hospitality. The less I worry about the details the more of myself I have to give to my guests.

melinda said...

A life that says atmosphere where others feel a sense of belonging, a place of being accepted, secure, and significant. A place of connecting with others, to share God's love here on earth. Home...where our story begins. Thanks for the encouragement.

...and staying organized, well, that has to wait for another day;-}

Meredith said...

Thank you Mari, for giving us this interview with Karen. It has challenged me again to not worry about what my home looks like.


christian wife & mom said...

Thank you so much for sharing what real hospitality looks like and how we can use it to glorify God. I really would like to get both of Karen Ehman's books since hospitality is something that I would love to do to share God with others...but find myself stressing out over my lack of organizaion! Thanks for the interview and all the wonderful tea! jenny(dot)jones(@)bellsouth(dot)net

Anonymous said...

Recently I was visiting in Georgia and mailed a bag of the new creme brulee tea to my friend in Mo. When I returned she visited me and brought the tea for me try. She said it was to die for and she was absolutely right. It was so soothing to sit and visit and sip our tea. A cup of tea always seems to soothe and relax a person.

ikkinlala said...

I have a wonderful friend who often has me over for tea. I've learned a lot about hospitality from her - it's so much more fun to visit people when they're relaxed, so I try to be when I have people over.

ikkinlala [@] yahoo [dot] ca

Karen said...

I love what Karen said about hospitality. I agree that you have to show hospitality to your family as well as your guests. I feel that I'm not the best at entertaining guest but I try my best to make my guest feel welcome and comfortable


Sonseeker said...

This is an area that I need to work on. I'd love to win this book.

Anonymous said...

Karen's thoughts about hospitality are so true. I've been so convicted lately to minister more to ladies in my own neighborhood and this is a great reminder. I would love to read Karen's book. Thanks for sharing the interview!

Anonymous said...

Some of my favorite times have been sharing tea with a friend. It was not planned, there was not a fancy menu; just tea and lots of conversation. Hospitali"tea."
Thanks for the idea of keeping the packaged mixes on hand. What a great way to have a "sweet" in minutes and without the fuss of making it from scratch.
musicalteacups(@)bellsouth (dot) com said...

I couldn't agree more about the "Less is more" concept of hospitality. I love having my girlfriends at my house and have not been ashamed to serve grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. They like the fact that I am making something for us to share - and I can serve it on nice dishes and in a clean kitchen. It's not fancy, but it's made with love and gives us time to share. The time spent talking is the important part.

Judith Rippelmeyer said...

I enjoy sitting and chatting with friends over a cup of tea. In our hectic world we've lost the quiet graciousness of hospitality and real friendship. It's nice to see it being resurrected once again!

Anonymous said...

Years ago, our family decided to cut back on our own gifts at Christmas and, instead use those funds for holiday hospitality. After the first year, I expected an outcry to return to the previous gift extravaganza. However, the overwhelming cry was to keep celebrating and honoring family (the family of God)through opening our home and lives. I can tell you now, with all the children married with families of their own, the treasured memories are not of any gifts but of those holiday gatherings. Try it!
mmartin77 (@)

Jean said...

I have a dear friend who is having to care for her mother who has dementia so some days are difficult for her. Last year she started coming over once a week and I would get out my china tea cups and tea pot. I would put on a Christian classical cd and we would sit and visit while sipping our tea and then we would pray for our kids and their friends and our husbands. She would then go home and feel so refreshed. We really look forward to that time together each week.

Denise from PA said...

When I lived in Texas, I met a sweet sister in Christ, and we would all gather at her home and study the word of God, and pray for each other. I really miss those gatherings, the study and prayers, and I miss having a cool beverage with my friends, a great gift from our God.

Patricia said...

The books sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing/doing this interview ~ I really enjoyed it. Blessings, Patricia

fieldcpa (@) msn (dot) com

Anonymous said...

I have always been "wanting" to entertain. I fell into the trap not clean, nothing to serve. We recently moved to a new house. I am hoping to start over. I want to meet folks and invite folks in. I have a wrap around porch that is the perfect place for tea and cookies. I love tea. Never tried so many teas, but would like to. Love the idea of your store. Karen's book sounds very interesting! (Total pun) it sounds like my cup of tea! Thanks again!

steelerspens (@) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Both for your tea store and for sharing Karen's book. It sounds very interesting! I have always wanted to entertain but never have. I fell into the trap of my house not being clean enough, not having the "right" food to serve. We recently moved to a new house/state. I plan to start over. My front porch is a wrap around--perfect for tea and cookies. Thanks again!

steelerspensfan (@) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous said...

I have always been "wanting" to entertain. I fell into the trap not clean, nothing to serve. We recently moved to a new house. I am hoping to start over. I want to meet folks and invite folks in. I have a wrap around porch that is the perfect place for tea and cookies. I love tea. Never tried so many teas, but would like to. Love the idea of your store. Karen's book sounds very interesting! (Total pun) it sounds like my cup of tea! Thanks again!

steelerspensfan (@) yahoo (dot) com

Bonnie said...

When we purchased our new home a few years ago after praying that God would help us find the right one, I promised Him I would use the wonderful home He gave us to glorify Him. I would like to host some friends from Sunday School for a small get together. I just need the courage to do it!

Anonymous said...

I really liked the part about showing hospitality to your family first. Lately, we have eaten outdoors alot. Putting flowers on the table, etc. The kids love it. Their favorite was when the camilias were blooming and we put petals all over the table. They still talk about it.

I was also challenged to forget about my house. We homeschool, and it seems it's never clean. I really need to get beyond that, and not let it hinder me from showing hospitality.

Another idea for keeping things on hand...Super Suppers has frozen scones, that you just take from the freezer and pop in the oven. They are delicious, especially teh raspberry with white chocolate!
Thanks for reminding me about the important things!


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