Books · Hospitality

The Hospitality of Frog and Toad

Long car rides and washing dishes in the kitchen sink have something very important in common. Both have the ability to let my mind retreat into itself and let random thoughts come to the forefront, much like the way tea leaves expand in the boiling water. This morning, at the kitchen sink, with my hands scrubbing bread pans and pot lids in the warm soapy water, one of those unexpected thoughts suddenly came to the forefront of my mind so unexpectedly that I wanted to drop my dishes right then and there and start writing. However, I responsibly finished my kitchen work, cleaned up from the lunch hour, welcomed some new seminary students into our home for a short visit and put my littlest down for a nap while my husband roasted some fresh coffee beans.


With a cup of English breakfast tea in hand and a book beside me for inspiration (God in the Sink by Margie Haack), I recall that somehow between the soap suds and relaxation of washing dishes from the day before, the calm in my house while children were playing, I realized something very wonderful. It involved hospitality and a children’s book series, Frog and Toad.

My thoughts often revolve around children’s books in this season of life. I wonder about that Winnie the Pooh who so looks at everything in life with such simplicity and ease. I often think about Squirrel Nutkin and his crazy antics and how much he has made my children laugh until it hurts. Our kids go on adventures into Narnia behind our home and I brace myself while reading the Chronicles for the moment when my kids realize that whatever magic is happening in the story in that moment surely means that Aslan is around, He’s coming or is already somehow mysteriously there though they hadn’t realized it for a few paragraphs. And I can’t wait for one o’clock to roll around so we can snuggle up on the couch to continue reading about a little baby named Pollywog and his curious disappearance in the playhouse floor. Unlike Eustace, and most like the Pevensies, we Harris’ want to make sure we read all the right books! Perhaps if we do, we might get to travel to enchanted lands of our own or walk into the coat closet and see if it leads to another world… my oldest two did nervously try that once, or twice, a few years ago!


Stories about little critters that keep house and home in burrows, hollows, or tree stumps have fascinated me since I was a child. So how did I make that connection between hospitality and Frog and Toad? I had never explicitly realized it before, but somehow subconsciously I had always known it. Frog and Toad are two friends that share life together in a caring and winsome way. Perhaps its the illustrations of a crackling fire in the fireplace, a toad sitting on a wing-backed chair, a cup of tea shared. Perhaps its the letter sent from Frog who knew how desperately his friend wanted a letter to come in the mail. Perhaps its the way these two friends always know the other will always be there for them or the way they really do care what the other friend is talking about even if it doesn’t totally make sense. Perhaps its the hospitality experienced in the willingness to sit with a friend who lost his to-do list. I’m sure one day I will be old and grey and need someone to remind me of the things I needed to do that day.

Sharing the simple ordinary events of their days. Isn’t this what hospitality is? Entering in to someone else’s life because you simply want to! Even when you don’t want to, but still do, this is hospitality.

My home was not cleaned up when these new students arrived on our doorstep today. There were parenting moments, interspersed with conversation, a sink full to the brim of dirty dishes, a sewing machine, a dirty floor, and messy hair tossed into a bun. But this is my ordinary and we welcomed them in to our ordinary, we made time to talk, and we gave them some fresh roasted coffee beans. Then we made sure we remembered each other’s names. It reminded me of Frog and Toad.

homemaking · Hospitality · The Artisan Home

The Heart of Hospitality


This post was originally written on my blog, The Artisan Home, on February 15, 2011. I have adapted and edited it for my new blog.

We started out our marriage by traveling Europe for 3 months. Not only did we travel to 6 different countries, we also got to experience living in community with complete strangers everywhere we went. We witnessed firsthand the hospitality of people from other languages & cultures, coming together around simple meals with hearts open to receive the stranger in our midst as they received us. Perhaps this is what true hospitality really is. At the heart of hospitality is a desire to know and be known.

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(A friend’s house, Malaga, Spain, 2007)

While in Europe, we drank freshly made tangerine juice from a friend’s orchard in Spain, ate freshly made honey bread and homemade soups & stews in Switzerland, experienced the mild and unique flavor of roasted lamb at a table of strangers on the island of Iona in Scotland and drank tea everywhere! Our adventure in Europe inspired us for a lifetime of hospitality and homemaking. It is something that both Craig and I are passionate about and both creatively pursue. Sometimes I see my husband on the computer and think he’s checking up on sports scores, but really he is searching for a new gourmet recipe for scalloped potatoes or chickpea soup.

I am finding my feet again in this new transition to busy seminary life! I’m finding the joy of cooking and baking returning to me. For the past couple years, I’ve kept cooking and baking pretty simple. Not many new recipes and pretty much the same thing on the meal schedule every week. I’m feeling inspired again in my cooking. Perhaps because my youngest is now two. Perhaps because my oldest two are now in school and I have a little more mental energy to devote to cooking and baking again. Perhaps because over this past Easter, I made my Grandma’s homemade Paska bread which took hours of preparation time, hours filled with joy as I carefully measured out ingredients and watched and nurtured that ball of dough, as I remembered eating her paska bread in her kitchen as a child, and remembering the cultural heritage of food. My roots are 100% from a unique people group of German-speaking Russian Mennonites. The Mennonites have a certain type of heritage that is rich in culture, in food, and in Christianity. I want to pay attention to the recipes of my people group and pass those down to my children.

My husband and I threw together a delectible assortment of roasted vegetables for a recent gathering of friends. We were once again creating a dish together and it was a partnership. We also have been enjoying a television show called “Cooked”. All of these factors together are inspiring me to dive back into the world of creative cooking and add a little more flare to our meals.

I will be writing more about our experience in Europe and our other travels individually to countries around the world where we have experienced hospitality in different ways and in different cultures. Hospitality is not just something I learned while in Europe. I grew up learning hospitality from my mom! My mom wore many hats including that of pastor’s wife meaning we had a LOT of guests coming over to our home! Usually every Sunday we had new people from the church over for “noon meal” as we called it. Sometimes there would be 2 or 3 families, singles, newly married couples, people from all walks of life.

(L’Abri, Switzerland, 2007)

My mom would prepare the meal the night before, have it cooking in the oven during church and then take care of the finishing touches when we got home. My sisters and I would help to set the table with the fine china, setting the forks and spoons in their proper order, lighting the candles, and making sure there were enough tea cups and saucers for dessert. It was beautiful!

My mother has hosted hundreds of people over the years. Her willingness to work hard, create beauty and nourishing meals for strangers, and welcome them into our home… shows that she was really welcoming Christ and serving Him. Each soft spoken word of encouragement, each tissue given for tears that were cried, each warm burst of laughter and each hug goodbye displayed the welcoming embrace of Christ. This was the pattern I was given for hospitality.

Hospitality does not have to look just one way. It does not even have to include a cup or a spoon. When we visited the community of Taize in France, we were given a bowl. That served as our plate, bowl, and cup. The food was simple. We sat on wooden benches in a cold room. The hospitality that shone forth was the experience of fellowshipping with all the guests around a simple meal. It centered around conversation with people from around the world without the distractions of each culture’s way of preparing or serving a meal. We each signed up to serve food and clean up. The focus was on serving and entering into conversation with one another, becoming known. I believe that is the heart of hospitality.

I am bursting with stories, ideas, and inspiration for practicing the art of hospitality and what that truly means in our world. As I research and write on this topic, please know that I am also learning and growing in this gift and do not claim to have it all together! I write to share my journey. I write because it is life-giving to me. I write because I want to inspire others to find beauty, and ultimately Jesus, in the ordinary and mundane aspects of life. I have a passion and vision for my home that God has given me and it is a joy to share that with others.

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(Taize, France, 2007)