Romans 12:13 – “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
1 Peter 4:8-10 – “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 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.”
Six days before we arrived, Kay Thagard was in the emergency room with pneumonia and pleurisy, yet we were completely unaware and had no hint of it when we were greeted with open arms as she welcomed us to her picturesque cabin in the woods and mountains of Maggie Valley, N.C. Kay had a delicious hot appetizer waiting as we watched the sun set on the beautiful fall scene outside her screened porch.
Since we had been driving all day, she had a great-smelling stew simmering in the crockpot for dinner to keep us from having to get back in the car and go out somewhere. And, the accommodations for guests were comfortable and so homey. I was in awe of the setting and the feeling I had to be invited to enjoy it.
I first met Kay in late summer of 1992 when our daughters (both named Laura) were randomly assigned to room together at The Commons in Auburn for the fall quarter. We both thought it would be a great idea to meet ahead of time, so we found a day, and the four of us had lunch in Birmingham. My Laura remembers that she and her roommate-to-be barely got in a word edge-wise, because Kay and I hit it off immediately and chatted incessantly. I don’t doubt her recollection one bit. 🙂 The girls ended up rooming together for three years and were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, but after that, we pretty much lost touch until Facebook reunited us. Hurray for Facebook when it comes to things like that!
Besides both of us having multiple grandchildren (she has 8, and I have 13), Kay and I also shared the fact that we both lost a parent to mylodysplastic syndrome, and we both love to plan trips. Kay had all kinds of great info to share before Steve and I headed to Maine in the fall of 2016. We kept planning visits, but life kept interrupting until last week.
This particular visit turned out to be perfectly timed for Steve and me. We had been pretty discouraged over the slow progress on our new house and desperately needed a change of scenery. And, oh, what amazing scenery we got!! Even though the leaves were about a week from being at their peak, we had plenty of great color in those mountains and alongside the gurgling Jonathan Creek.
Kay took into account my travel writing interest and planned two full days of restaurants, shops and attractions for us to visit. And, as luck would have it, the annual Apple Festival was on that same weekend, making everything even more festive. It also helped that Auburn was playing on Saturday night — such fun to share with fellow Auburn graduates! War Eagle! The TV was right beside this blissful, cozy fireplace. Perfect for watching the Tigers.
I can’t leave out Kay’s husband Bill. Although Kay extends a lot of hospitality when he’s away on business, he was there for our visit and did two full days of chauffeuring. I especially appreciated the fact that he accommodated my desire to make lots of photographs and gave me tips on where to stand to get the best views. He stopped the car numerous times just for picture-taking purposes. 🙂
Two outstanding traits of great hospitality stood out to me during our time with Kay and Bill:
- They were both completely unselfish. They shared their home, their food, their very entertaining stories, their knowledge of the area, and their time. And we were the fortunate beneficiaries.
- Kay made a priority of my needs and interests. She truly wanted me to get a thorough overview of Maggie Valley and the surrounding area, in order to write about it and share it with my readers. She’d seen all the places dozens of times, but she graciously visited them again BECAUSE SHE KNEW WE’D ENJOY THEM.
Entertaining and extending hospitality are two very different activities. Entertaining often focuses on material possessions and striving for perfection. Hospitality, on the other hand, seeks to meet the needs of the guests in your home. Kay Thagard has the gift of hospitality, and I am so grateful I got to be a recipient of it. She has inspired me to refocus my efforts in the days ahead.