A Different Kind of Hospitality – The Turquoise Table

Hospitality always feels small when you hold it in your hands. It’s not until you let it go, released like an offering, that you see how extravagant and hallowed it is.

“Maybe the art of conversation isn’t lost after all. We just need more practice at it.”
– Kristin Schell

How often do you have other people into your home?

And if it’s not as much as you think you “should,” do you feel guilty about it?

I don’t have people over as often as I once did. So I wasn’t sure I wanted to read yet another book on hospitality.

But this one is different.

  • It’s not about how to set your table (although it centers around a table).
  • It’s not about your menu (although the book gives a simple recipe in every chapter).
  • It’s not even about your guest list (because you never know who will show up).

The Turquoise Table is a book about opening your heart and your time as well as your space.

Specifically, open the space in your front yard. Because our front yards are what people see first, author Kristin Schell suggests we start there.

But it’s less about the where and more about the who.

Kristin started by painting her picnic table a turquoise color then placing it in her front yard. She filled a basket with plastic cups, a water pitcher, and leftover napkins from a birthday party.

Then she sat outside for thirty minutes reading the mail, writing a note, etc., until one by one a neighbor or two or three would stop by.

“We’re drawn to each other and our stories and through that, experience oneness. It’s how community is built: layer by layer, struggle by struggle, story by story. It’s why we come to the table, and these women and I were doing it. And I didn’t even have to clean the house.”

And this ministry grew and grew. Now there are Turquoise Tables in nearly every state and several different countries.

She says anybody can do it. Maybe not exactly like she did. (I can’t put a picnic table in my front yard.)

“Hospitality begins in the heart, not the oven.”

But we can each be hospitable in our own ways. It’s not about having a clean house and gourmet food; it’s about conversation and connections.

“We’ve got to debunk the myth that hospitality is the same as entertainment. Genuine hospitality begins with opening our lives. It’s just as important to open up our lives as it is our homes, and sharing who we are is far more important than sharing what we bake.”

Look at the lessons Kristen learned from her Front Yard People adventure. See which principles you could convert into reality in your own lifestyle.

  • Don’t wait for the perfect time; do it now.
  • Spontaneous gatherings are just as important as planned ones (and easier!).
  • You don’t need anyone’s permission to go outside and love.
  • Do it with a buddy to make it easier and more fun.
  • Be patient; it takes time to develop community.
  • Pray for the ministry of presence every day.

The book also includes suggestions for starting a Turquoise Table in other places, such as a community garden, a church courtyard, common areas at an office complex, or a neighborhood bus stop.

But Kristen always brings us back to this:

“While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for life at the Turquoise Table, in my experience, there is a pattern: Notice the needs of others. Pray. Show up. Love. Notice. Pray. Show up. Love.”

More Quotes from The Turquoise Table

“Sometimes we are the guest and sometimes we are the host. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.”

~ * ~

“I realized God was saying, ‘It matters to Me. When you show up, I’m at work.’ Hospitality always feels small when you hold it in your hands. It’s not until you let it go, released like an offering, that you see how extravagant and hallowed it is.”

~ * ~

“Don’t be afraid of silence. My neighbor Nicole loves to use the phrase ‘tell me more.’ It gives permission for people to go beyond polite conversation and share deeper.”

~ * ~

“Out of love and out of grace, God gave me a table. We know when He gives a gift, it’s meant to be shared. Once I was excluded, and now I belong. That’s what I want to give others.”

~ * ~

“Hospitality takes the posture of humility, no longer seeking to impress but to serve. The heart of hospitality is to make people feel welcome and at ease.”

* * *

How are you at hospitality? Got it down, or do you have room to grow? Please share in the comments.

Read more about starting your own Turquoise Table at KristinSchell.com.

Watch more here.


Thanks to BookLook Bloggers
for the review copy of this book

16 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Hospitality – The Turquoise Table

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    When I lived on a cul-de-sac in a San Diego suburb, I’d always open the garage door when I was working on the construction of my aeroplane, supervised by Kareem The Pit Bull Who Looked Like Mike Tyson On A Bad Day.

    The neighbourhood kids started dropping by, interested in the aeroplane and fascinated by Kareem. Then their parents looked in, and were aghast to see small children playing with an enormous black and scarred dog, who positively loved their not-so-tender ministrations (of which pulling him backwards by his tail was the least…and he was letting them do it).

    Thus began Kareem’s Day Care.

  2. Michele Morin

    I’ve had my eye on this book — and I love the concept.
    Last summer we bought an extra picnic table because our family keeps adding wives and grandchildren lately, and we’ve enjoyed the space and time around those pushed-together tables so much this summer!

  3. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    I’m always open to an impromptu “party” but there’s a lot of room for growth. It’s too easy to “busy myself” with the hostessing and not truly focus on the guests. (Hello, MARTHA!) I have to be intentional about letting my MARY show up, too.

    This looks like a great book!

  4. Barbara H.

    I like all these concepts. I confess I struggle with having a heart open and welcoming to others. We don’t have people over much, with my m-i-l here. But I can even resent the hospice people coming and going, wishing I had “my house” back to myself, instead of welcoming them thankfully. I have to correct my thinking often. Pretty often I see some of the neighbors congregated in lawn chairs under a tree, and think, “Good grief, how do they have time to do that so much” instead of joining them. That’s one way having a grandchild has helped. 🙂 One of the times Timothy was here and wanted to play outside, I shocked my husband by going over to talk with the neighbor out in her front yard. 🙂

  5. Laura Thomas

    Well, well, well… it looks like we are both blogging about the very same book this week! 😉 I loved it just as much as you did, Lisa. I read it on vacation, and promptly purchased a picnic table upon my return home! Admittedly, it’s in my back yard (I’m a slow learner) but the turquoise paint is being bought this weekend, and if nothing else it will stand as a reminder for me to open my heart as well as my home. Such a beautiful book! Stopping by from #SaltandLight

  6. ~ linda

    How fine and special! I love this idea and it is such a simple thing to do (and be able to do!).
    Yes, I am back. Living in Lufkin, TX and during our time the new house was in escrow, we went to Foley, AL, where one of ken’s sister’s recently moved to be near a daughter. It is lovely there…nothing like the coast of South TX.

  7. Pam

    Love, love, love this, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing this great (new) perspective on hospitality! I was so blessed by what she wrote and you shared here!

  8. Jean Wise

    wow this book sounds just what I need especially after writing that series on hospitality and my struggles with it. I loved her quote too – “Maybe the art of conversation isn’t lost after all. We just need more practice at it.”
    – so true. we fail or feel uncomfortable and think that is it instead of practicing and trying once again. Great find, Lisa!

  9. floyd

    (Gulp…) I have front gathering spaces with seating… that I almost never use.

    I have so much that I want to get done that I seldom take the time to chat with neighbors.

    Having built a couple of homes on the street, I always seem to be the target for advice or them wanting me to help them with a project. It’s home for them, it’s work for me.

    Those are valid, but they probably don’t hold water in Light of the big picture.

    I’m not used to getting a bloody nose when I hang out here! You knocked some sense into me though. Thanks.

  10. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    I love the concept of the turquoise table. As a planner, I need to definitely be more spontaneous. After all, it’s about who is coming and not about the dust on my coffee table. My dad always told me that is you want to be known as a brilliant conversationalist….ask lots of questions and sit back and listen….wise advice.
    Bev xx

  11. Alice Walters

    Hospitality takes so many shapes. As an instructional coach, that’s the main thing I try to provide for my teachers. What joy comes when we choose to serve God’s children. Thanks, Lisa!

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