The gift of hospitality was put on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic. While my family has certainly enjoyed the fruits of my hospitable heart, the pandemic made me feel like something was missing because I was unable to do what brings me so much joy. I had to get creative during the pandemic but at the end of the day, it wasn’t the same.
I’m sure you can relate. So much of what was normal and natural pre-pandemic has been taken away or turned upside down. Still, there are some things that have remained. Like, the need for connection and community. Statewide shut-downs or cultural tensions can try to hinder us from welcoming people inside of our homes, but they certainly cannot stop us from welcoming people into our hearts!
It is interesting to me that one of my favorite fellow Michiganders, author/speaker/Bible teacher Karen Ehman, released not one but two hospitality-themed books* right smack in the middle of the pandemic – a season of life when people were encouraged not to socialize or commune together. But, God…His timing is always perfect and He knew His people would need some enriching soul food during this exact moment of history.
Reach Out, Gather In: 40 Days to Opening Your Heart and Home is part-devotional, part practical handbook, and full-on invigoration to seek purpose on the path placed before you.
Ehman’s expertise as a Bible teacher lends value to the biblical foundation of hospitality and the significance behind the original Greek and Hebrew text. Moreover, each chapter includes a “Ponder and Pray” section that encourages the reader to dive a bit deeper into personal reflection and application. Additionally, there is ample space to journal prayers, action steps and even the names or groups of individuals you are looking to serve or reach out to. Each larger themed section also assigns a memory verse for the reader to consider, which ultimately ties together the corresponding chapters.
This book is designed to be read over 40 days (8 weeks of reading on weekdays only) but I completed the book in one week. It wasn’t my plan initially, however, I loved how the different sections were comprised and decided a few chapters in to complete each section in one setting.
The 8 themes in Reach Out, Gather In include:
- The use of individual gifts and talents as a means to serve others
- Prioritizing your family without neglecting others
- Opening your eyes and ears to the needs of those around you
- Discovering your niche
- Meeting the needs of others by entering into their world
- Satisfying hungry souls with food for their soul
- How to be hospitable in places outside of your home
- Seeking God and His goodness to “fill up” so you can be “poured out”
I cannot stress enough how incredibly inspiring this book is! It is brilliantly crafted in both word and wisdom and is OH. SO. PRACTICAL!
Ehman is very natural in her approach to hospitality and she will encourage you to do the same. An added bonus to her encouragement and theological teaching is her sensible methods for organizing your home and being prepared for any type of guest (outside of your home, those invited and those who show up on your doorstep). Her contribution of including family recipes is a nice icing on the cake.
It is not possible to put this book down and not receive any takeaways to apply to your life!
Reach Out, Gather In will equip you to love like Jesus loved and serve like Jesus served. No prior resume, experience, or Pinterest-worthy training necessary. Simply, you will learn how to live a life of invitation without any underlying motivation. By opening your heart to welcome others as they are, you can potentially have an impact to lead them to where God calls them to be.
*Karen Ehman released 2 “new” hospitality-themed books during the pandemic. In addition to Reach Out, Gather In, she released Make Their Day, which I also read and enjoyed! For my full review, click here!
**The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my very own. I purchased this book based on my personal interest.