by Nancy Guenther
“She’s Sashaaaaa, the singing baristaaaaa….” My friend sang a little made-up tune as I made and served mugs of creamy regular and decaf to my sisters in Christ. I had brought my espresso maker, mocha powder, and vanilla soy milk to our little retreat. I was busy, but the effort was bringing me a lot of joy. So much joy, in fact, that “Sasha the Barista” made an appearance at our next retreat as well.
We’d been having these little retreats with nothing-scheduled for a number of years (we called them “relaxes”), but this year, thanks to credit card and hotel points, I was planning a second weekend of all-expenses-paid relaxing for a group of women I know. I have always loved to give gifts, but at this point of my life, I was now gifting retreat time and relaxation to women I knew who had children with disabilities. Our time away together gave us a chance to share stories and give one another encouragement.
These all-expenses-paid weekends away began when I turned 40. I gathered a little group from across the country and took us to a bed-and-breakfast in wintery Wisconsin. One of the women gave the gift of cooking our dinners, and the others surprised me with amazing birthday offerings that I had not expected. It was such a rich time of fellowship and fun. For me, arranging the travel and finding the right destination were easy tasks.
I realized I could open “Sasha’s Café” at my home for drop-in chats – and I could offer traveling hospitality by arranging and subsidizing special days and weekends of relaxation. The truth is, for me, there’s almost nothing as fun as planning a trip! I absolutely love searching for venues, finding the best prices, and planning the refreshments. Details are a delight to me!
I find dates that will work, then search for a place with a wonderful common space where we can all gather. The common space is the key, because that’s where the laughter, tears, and prayers will draw us closer together and closer to God.
I always admired the ability of others to entertain in their homes with ease. I’m a little too uptight and scheduled for last-minute guests (although, as Sasha, I can always make it work!), so I considered my hospitality gifting to be very low on the scale. But sometimes hauling an espresso machine and some cheese and crackers to a friend’s house or making all of the arrangements for a weekend away is another way I can express care to those near to my heart.
I love that God uses everything in our lives (like my love of planning trips) and works with who we are. I have found a way to serve and share of myself even if it’s not always in my own home. And thanks to Sasha, when I do have guests in my home, I’ve found that her hospitable mugs of coffee provide a warm welcome and an invitation to simply “relax” a bit and spend time with a friend.
Nancy Guenther is a wife, an entrepreneur and a mom to three wonderful young adults. She and her husband are currently in the process of downsizing to a Chicago suburb as they head into empty-nesthood. Nancy owns an online business called RosesAndTeacups.com.