Hospitable Homeschooling with Jen Schmidt

Leslie is joined by Jen Schmidt of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. They talk about hospitable homeschooling, which in a time where gathering in groups is so limited, I think you will be encouraged and challenged as you look at how God wants to use you and your family to bless others and show them God’s great love through the ministry of hospitality. 

Transcript

Leslie (00:03):

Hey there and welcome to the Homeschooling Family Podcast by Teach Them Diligently. Here we discuss just about everything that comes into play. When you’re a Christian homeschooling family, I’m Leslie Nunnery, and on today’s podcast, I’m joined by Jen Schmidt of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam together. We’re going to discuss hospitable homeschooling, which in a time when getting together in big groups is so limited, I think you’re going to be encouraged and challenged as you look at how God wants to use you and your family to bless others and show them. God’s great love for them through the ministry of hospitality. Jen shares specific ways her family has done this as we chat about a subject that you’re going to see is pretty near and dear to both of our hearts. This was originally recorded as part of a series we did in teach them diligently 365 about living boldly. I invite you to check out that whole series as a TTD365 member for today, though. Let’s dive right in and talk about hospitable homeschooling together.

Leslie (01:24):

We are back this week to talk once again about how living boldly looks in our daily lives and in our families. And I want to tell you about… Actually, I want to kick it off by telling you about a book that I read. It’s called “just open the door”. It’s by Jen Schmidt. And it just so beautifully encapsulated what my heart has been in talking about hospitable homeschooling and hospitable living that I immediately reached out to Jen and begged her to come on and do this video with me, because I think that you can benefit so much by hearing her heart in this and her story. So, Jen, I want to welcome you to Teach Them Diligently. And just, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, maybe a little bit behind the heart of why you wrote this beautiful book on hospitality?

Jen (02:15):

Thank you, Leslie. It’s such an honor to be here and oh, that’s such a loaded question because when I think of the book “Just Open the Door”, it really is a legacy of hospitality and lifestyle that we’ve lived. And I call myself an accidental author because I’ve been a homeschool mom for 20 years. I can barely even believe I’m saying that our eldest son is 24 and we homeschooled him all the way through. And so in the middle of the, you know, the day to day life, I started realizing, Lord, how can we best in the midst of raising five children and homeschooling and wanting to live boldly for the gospel? I just prayed and asked him, how can you make my time filled with as much kingdom purpose as possible? And he began revealing over and over and over how opening my door and inviting others to do life together, whether that’s in a mentorship role, whether that’s in an evangelistic role or whether it’s just, you know, encouraging each other on that mission of motherhood.

Jen (03:25):

Um, and so when I was approached about writing this book, initially I had said, no, I just didn’t think I had it in me. And then as the Lord just prompted my heart to say, Jen, your parents model this open door living for you. And you have the opportunity to look back on decades from when I was, you know, small young child. And they opened the door to me through adoption, which is the greatest act of hospitality, um, and how their ministry of open door living impacted mine. And so just open the doors a little different than your typical hospitality book. In fact, the, um, tagline is “how one invitation can change a generation”. And when we were talking about the title, I even said, I don’t want hospitality in the word at all in the title, because as women, especially we have these preconceived notions, what we assume hospitality is.

Jen (04:22):

And especially in this day of social media and Pinterest, perfect dinner parties and four course meals, it feels something unattainable when we already have such a busy schedule. And so I wanted to write a book that it would encourage women and men- this is really for, you know, families- to open the door and see how your home can be one of the greatest vehicles for life change that we have. And so that’s kind of how it came about.

Leslie (04:53):

That is awesome. And I’d echo so much my, our heart David and I, when you said, you know, it’s for men as well. One of the greatest blessings is David has been right along with me as we have opened our door through the years. And I think that, you know, that that helps in so many ways, just like in everything else to be on the same page about your mission, they’re really wanting to kind of look at two specific things. Number one, and you kind of alluded to, this is how hard is it? You know, we talk about opening our door and there’s that fear that kind of comes in that you’re you literally open your world and you are kind of exposed. People see actually who you are. But one of the amazing… my mother just called it. There we go. It’s real high.

Jen (05:46):

I talked to my mom. I usually, I don’t decline her calls most of the time. You know, when you open your door, you are exposed. You people can see what really happens within your home is no Pinterest perfect anymore. But why number one, why is that such an important thing for your family, as well as those that you’re ministering to? And two, how hard is it actually to do that? Do you have- is there, you know, this seven step plan to accomplish it, or is it merely, truly opening your heart and opening your door? Okay, well, I wish I could give a seven step plan, but as we know, whether it’s in mothering or homeschooling or, or any kind of ministry, when we try and have a list of to do’s and when we try and get control of different things, we realize that our plan has never his plan.

Jen (06:40):

So I think the first thing that I had to realize in living this life of biblical hospitality is understanding the difference between social entertaining and biblical hospitality. And for me, once I realized that we create this word entertaining, and it’s almost a one and done event, we make a plan, we make our meal plan, which are all good. We think of decorations. We think of our invite list. Those are planning events. And sometimes they’re a little bit more about us, right? Whereas biblical hospitality is leaning low and it’s serving, and it’s thinking about the other person. And it’s, it’s really kind of following this model that Jesus gave, where he saw interruptions as opportunities for divine invitations. Really. So I look at biblical hospitality as asking ourselves, how can we walk this road of welcome in our, under, in our everyday life? And when we can shift from planning an event and planning up a beautiful evening together to opening our door and doing the messy day to day living, then all of a sudden I started saying, okay, we’re all going to get a little nervous, right?

Jen (08:04):

We all tend to overthink it. We all tend to kind of over plan it. But when I get so stressed about welcoming people into my home, I started realizing that that’s the Lord giving me this like warning flag and saying, Jen, you’re making this about you. And so I’ve learned to really listen to the Holy Spirit when it becomes too much about me. And when I’m all about like, come into my house and let me show you my beautiful decor, you know, because that’s not what it is, especially as homeschool families. I mean, life is messy. And I think when you said about that vulnerability homeschooling in different seasons and different parts of life, our hospitality is going to look really different. And so it really comes back to the heart of, of the welcome and the authenticity. And so I am very much, my blog is called balancing beauty and Bedlam, and that does not come from chance that comes from decades of hard earned living in the midst of the chaos and having to peel back under the school books and under the laundry and searching for those beautiful moments every day.

Jen (09:15):

And so for us, when I learned that I need to do life with people, I need to be able to say to other homeschool moms, come, come as you are, because homeschooling and hospitality, there are so many similarities. We’re welcoming people into not only our home, but our stories and our lives. And I don’t know about you, but they, they’re not Pinterest perfect. And there’s always backstories. And so when I learned that it’s okay to just be honest with other people, then all of a sudden hospitality looked a lot more like what Jesus did as he walked this road and welcome and offered simple invitations.

Leslie (10:02):

I actually read a passage, I’ve read it. You know, countless times that at one point a couple of years ago, it really struck out to me. Jesus has had this crazy busy day. He’s ministering to all these people. He gets out early to pray and the disciples kind of like frantic to him. The people want this, they want this. And Jesus, instead of being really irritated by having to give more, he says, that’s why he’s easy to get. That’s why I’m here. You know, let’s, let’s minister some more and God has used that statement so often, because that is why I’m here. I’m here to model for my children. What God’s love looks like both to them as well as to others. And that’s kind of where I want to go now, how does this, this opening of our house and heart home and heart, how does that affect our children?

Jen (10:47):

What do, what did they, how did they grow through that? Because I know in our family, it’s been pretty remarkable what God has done within our own children just by this act of modeling biblical hospitality for them. Yeah, absolutely. I think that, especially as, as mothers, you know, we read all the parenting books, right? We buy the worldview curriculums and we, you know, want to start our day off because what is this journey? It is about, um, pointing others to the glory of God and being image bearers and, you know, modeling for our children who gets all the honor. And so we do all this studying and we put all this work in, and yet I really believe that we’re missing the best opportunity to model that. And that’s by inviting people into our own home. And what I mean about that is I kind of call it our life lab.

Jen (11:39):

And I can honestly say like, I’ve had the opportunity now to speak at conferences or lead worship, or, you know, write a book. And those are all these things that are done in front of people. And while I’m so grateful that the Lord is giving me this opportunity, when I really look back at the place, how we have been able to point others to his glory and the vehicle that he’s used to have the biggest kingdom impact, it’s been those people that we’ve welcomed into our own home. And so think of our kids and this life lab. And it’s not just about what our kids are learning. Oh my goodness. Okay. It’s about how we’re humbled, because we all know whether it’s a Sunday morning on the way to church or an hour before people come over, what is it that we all of a sudden become these psycho moms, right?

Jen (12:29):

Like, Oh my gosh, people are coming on. Or, you know, we start ordering, we start barking and we have attitudes that are not bringing glory to God. And so it’s a humbling process to go through, but I love to point out my one- our eldest daughter, and she really had a shy personality. I, I love how the Lord gives us all these different children. We raise them the same. We might even do the same curriculum. And man, they all are wired so differently, right? So we adapt and hospitality plays a part in being able to look at our kids’ personalities because she was very shy. She was one of those that would hide behind my leg. And I always say, okay, the Lord has wired our children sometimes in a more quiet way, but that doesn’t give them permission to be rude. So one of the things that I wanted our daughter to learn was she didn’t have to carry on this huge conversation at six years old.

Jen (13:26):

But I wanted her to have direct eye contact. I wanted her to be able to greet someone in a gracious way, shake their hand, maybe just give a little smile. And so what better way than by bringing people into our safe environment and letting her work, it gives our kids the opportunity to learn how to pray. Publicly children can take a different opportunity to, to pray or to give a blessing. It allows our kids life skills in learning how to clean the bathroom at a young age. I’m never, my house is never perfect, but I’ve learned that the kitchen, the main living area and our bathrooms, those are the areas that people live. So kids are kids at four and five, all had those skills. So part of hospitality was them learning to make a killer taco dip. Even our boys at 10, they could whip up a taco dip without a recipe.

Jen (14:20):

It also allows us as a parent- And here’s where I think with homeschooling, there’s a lot of pressure on moms because our children’s performance sometimes… you know, and I, I tend to, I could get emotional as I think about it, but sometimes our children’s performances, all of a sudden it becomes about us like whether we’re failing or we’re, we’ve done great. And I remember our eldest son, he was one of those that literally by five years old, he was reading or maybe five and a half or six. He was reading the Hobbit. And he was my first. I was like, Oh, I’m schooling is so easy. I am the best, you know, take lessons from me on how to teach the long vowel skills, right? Because I explained the long vowel rule to him. And in one day it snapped and I asked the Lord now, Lord, why did he have to be my eldest?

Jen (15:11):

Why couldn’t he have been my last? because many of my other children that same skill, it took them four years to master. And so when we’re willing to humble ourselves and look at where our kids are struggling, if they say they’re struggling with selfishness. Well, when we welcome people into our home, that is gonna rear its ugly head because they’re all of a sudden asked to share their toys or to give up maybe their bedroom for an overnight guest. And all of a sudden those things that you were trying to ignore, they come to light. So one of the greatest things for us as we have had this open door philosophy now for decades with our own children, is it’s allowed us to lean in not only to, um, prayer and asking the Lord how we can partner in the gospel and the great commandment and the great commission, but it’s also given our home this life lab element that we can really work on our own hearts and ask the Lord to teach us, you know, for me as a mom like, Oh, Jen, you need to work on that area of control or whatever, and also see where our kids can do.

Jen (16:23):

So it’s, it’s fun because to see them grow and to change over the years, and to finally see that selfishness, seeing the goodness that comes by sharing your toy and all of a sudden seeing your children like reach out to the underdog or to welcome in missionary kids and befriend them and see the fruit of those things. Oh, there’s such joy there too.

Leslie (16:47):

Amen. You know, the Bible tells us to whom much is given much is required. And for most of our families much has been given. You know, we are largely full units, which is odd today. We are, we are a fluent compared to most standards, you know, much has been given to us. We have a lot of knowledge and so much is required of us and that just required of our children. And this is a tremendous way for all of us to, to practice that giving nut, you know, you alluded to how things look different through the different stages in homeschooling, but also really in having people into your home because when your kids are younger, they- it’s a kind of family units coming over.

Leslie (17:35):

Now I have three teenage- well, almost four teenagers. She thinks she is a teenager. Your children are older. You know, at this point we had kids coming in and out all the time by themselves. And the fact that they feel welcome. Not only welcome, but they they’ll just come in and sit at the, yeah, it’s just an understanding that our table, there’s always enough seats we’ll pull up extras, whatever, but that has opened up unbelievable discipleship opportunities… teenage boys, teenage girls that we could have never just manufactured. So, you know, can you talk a little bit about how that progression in your own family has been- and some of the doors that the Lord has opened for discipleship with these young people? Counter-cultural kids aren’t supposed to want to sit at the table and talk to adults like that.

Jen- 18:30- I know, but they do. And I think that’s what we need to realize that, I mean, our table becomes an alter that when we say Lord, okay, I feel maxed out.

Jen (18:39):

I feel like I can’t add one more thing, but when we, as women, as family step forward and say, I am willing and I’m available, I might not have a big budget right now. A lot of our hospitality was in seasons of financial difficulty. But when we just say I got an open sofa and I’ve got my yard sale table and I’m willing, so use it. It’s amazing what the Lord will do. And I think, you know, I have a lot of mentor relationships with young moms and a lot of young homeschooling moms. And sometimes they come back and they’re like, well, you know, Jen, it disrupts my schedule and I just don’t want this influence in our home and all those things that I understand and I struggled with. And yet when I look back, those were the areas that I said, Lord, if I could go back and change it, I would because if I want our home to look more like Jesus, if I want more tea my table to look more like His, I have to be willing to welcome people from different economic backgrounds, different socioeconomic political backgrounds.

Jen (19:46):

And when we talk about the great commandment, I get fired up and I’m going to get to your question. But when we talk about the great commandment, you know, loving the Lord, our God with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength, and He doesn’t- there is no hesitation in the very next clause. Love your neighbor as yourself. And what does that mean? I think for a lot of us, we’d grown up in the church and we’ve heard that verse so many times that we gloss over it’s important. But when I look at neighbors, okay, our most literal neighbor is our kids. And for us homeschool moms, they’re like on us too much, too neighborly. But I think when we open our door and we think of our literal neighbor, the kids in our neighborhood, we don’t know them or our kids’ friends. We don’t know them and how we love the Lord should directly impact how we love our neighbor, just as how we love our neighbor is a direct representation of our worldview on how we love God.

Jen (20:43):

So if we are not welcoming people into our sphere of influence, I don’t think we’re following the great commandment and Oh man, I’m getting all like finger pointing on that one. But if women listening right now are feeling like I don’t even know where to start. That’s my first suggestion. Start with your kids, friends. Many people are involved in sports or music lessons. Instead of going and beating on your phone during those music lessons, put the phone away and use that as an opportunity to build relationships to the moms that are also sitting there. I use the example in just open the door about football, and my husband signed us up for football. I did not know the blood oath that I was taking when he did. Our kids were young. I had no idea. I’m, I’m very much like guard our family time.

Jen (21:33):

And so all of a sudden this became a new way of life. And I had a really big chip on my shoulder cause it was more than I wanted. And after a month or so of a pity party, it was as if the Lord just kind of shook me and said, Jen, you’ve committed to this season and now take your hospitality on the go and use this time to impact the culture around you. And so instead of just having a pity party and going and doing my errands, which is okay, sometimes we need to do that, right? I had a toddler and a newborn and the three boys went football and I started packing extra snacks and extra goldfish. And I brought a blanket and I started inviting women to my blanket, which was my table. And I looked to the left and the right, and the Lord said, Jen, these people need to know about me.

Jen (22:25):

And I have brought them here for two hours a day. You have 10 hours a week with these women go and love on them and point them to me. And so believe it or not, our eldest son just graduated from a full ride for division one football. And he may be playing on Sundays. We’re still praying about that. We don’t know, but I’ve had the opportunity now for 15 years to use the fact that hospitality on the go can make such an impact. And I have people that email me and keep up with Facebook and I’ve been able to use the sidelines of the sports field as one of the greatest ministry opportunities to, you know, evangelize. And so we don’t really have any excuses when it comes to hospitality, right? Because Romans talks about pursuing it. It’s an ongoing action and there’s so many opportunities.

Jen (23:20):

So football ended up being a vehicle then to invite families and guys into our home. And because I just said, Lord, I am in way over my head, but I’ve got to be here. He used that time. It wasn’t anything extra special. I would throw extra chicken breast in the crockpot and add a little more salsa to it. And in, in the process, um, these, some of these young men’s named Jesus as Lord and now decade later are living for him to think that we had just this small little opportunity to just love on them in ways that they hadn’t seen modeled before was such an honor that I don’t even feel worthy of. Um, and sometimes we think, well, it’s not anything special, but when I think further for those that don’t know the love of Jesus, anything with Him is countercultural. And so we need to think living life for Him is countercultural.

Jen (24:23):

So why aren’t we out there being the hands and feet of Jesus? Why aren’t we inviting people into our home as we point others to him.

Leslie:

Right? And I love the emotion that you just showed. Just really punctuates the, the joy for us as homeschool moms when we do this. the Lord has given us some very similar experiences to what Jen and her family have experienced both through sports and otherwise. Um, but by just showing love to these people that God brings across your path, the rewards are beautiful. I, I got a mother’s day present this year from one of my extra sons. It’s the sweet, the sweet little kisses that God gives us when we are faithful, that means so much. And I don’t want you all to miss out on that because you’ve built it up as something that it isn’t. God created us to love other people.

Leslie (25:18):

And I hope that through this conversation, and this is so not, exhaustible short conversation that we’ve been able to have. I hope and pray that it is triggered some ideas. I would love to talk to you more about this. In fact, in our monthly hangout, I want to make this our main theme so that we can discuss different ideas, different practical ways. This can look at our families. I want Jen also to tell you here in just a second, there is a another bigger way that you can hear her heart. In this matter beyond you I’ll link to the book because you do want to pick that up. But I want her to tell about another product that she has a great privilege she’s been given. So if you’ll tell them about that kind of in closing and now come back and close it down.

Jen (26:01):

Sure. Within the book that you just hold up, just open the door, how one invitation can change a generation is where I do have tons of things, practical ideas, or ways you can elevate your ordinary moments. And so I think I have exhausted in that book. So many for every different personality and not just the extrovert, but I really wrote this with the introvert in mind too. So I’m giving lots of tools, but also the, one of the latest Lifeway Bible studies that just came out, um, is I got the opportunity to write and do the seven week video four. And so it’s also called Just Open the Door, a Study in Biblical Hospitality because as I started writing it, I realized, Oh my goodness, the hospitable nature of God starts in Genesis when he welcomes us into the garden. And we use this way through almost every book of the Bible tool.

Jen (26:51):

We celebrate around the table at the marriage feast in revelation. And so as, as moms and homeschool moms, especially if we are not viewing hospitality as part of the greatest commandment and the great commission, we’re missing such an amazing opportunity in our home. So if you want to dive deeper, maybe in your homeschool group, or maybe your church we’ll be offering it this fall, it’s a great resource. And the videos are really fun, very different than your typical Lifeway videos, but ones that will create lots of great conversations.

That is awesome. Thank you so much, Jen. I, uh, I would love to continue this conversation another time. Cause I think that there’s just so many, so many great points and great things to talk about that for now. I hope that the rest of you all have a great week and I will see you back here next time.

Leslie (27:53):

Thank you for listening to the Teach Them Diligently podcast. We believe that every family is called to teach them diligently. So we’re here to help. We would love to get to know you onsite at one of our many events each year and throughout the year, when you become part of the teach them diligently 365 community go to www.teachthemdiligently.net/podcast, to get more details and resources to encourage and equip your family while you’re there. You can also pick up the show notes and additional information from today’s show. It’s our daily prayer that God will encourage and equip your family through, teach them diligently. And we’d love to hear from you, send us a note or share your stories with us on social media. With the hashtag #weTTD God is doing great things within his families all around the world. And we would love to celebrate that with you. We’d also love to have you joined us by subscribing to our podcast, and then sharing it with a friend who could use a little encouragement as they to follow God’s plan for their family. Hope you have a fantastic rest of your day. And I look forward to visiting with you again real soon.

Here is a little about Jen from her website:

What a joy it is to introduce you to my family. I am a wife to an amazing man, Gregg, and we just celebrated our 27th anniversary. As I type that, it astounds me. I can barely believe decades have flown by since in my mind I still feel like I’m a 27 year old. I’m privileged to be the mom of five blessings, one precious daughter-in-love (who we prayed for long before we knew her name) and a few too many animals.

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