Hospitality: Ideas For those Who are Hospi-phobic and Those Who are Fearless Too

It’s One Word Friday!

Like I wrote recently, part of “Choose Life” means choosing to exercise our gifts.

And you’ve got ’em!  You’re talented and capable and you’re gamers.

Hospitality seems to be one of mine, (although it’s easy to see how others are doing it so much better).  Some of you may have this gift too.  I hope you’ll add your ideas in the comments.

For others the thought of guests ringing your doorbell makes you want to hide under your bed.

Whether hospitality is one of your gifts or not, it’s a reflection of God’s welcoming heart that we’re all called to live out.  I hope this post will give you some resources and encouragement!

4 Suggestions if you’re new to opening your home:

1.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Potlucks take the pressure off and this is about community not performance.  Everyone has a recipe they’d like to try or time to pick up a bottle of wine.  Before or during the evening, people feel good when they’re asked to help.

2.  If you have an extra fridge/freezer, or a little extra room, keep some some basics there so you can pull them out in a pinch.  (Twice this year I’ve had people who said they’d bring a dessert forget, so out came the homemade brownies I had in the freezer) And pick up a bag of ice every time  you get gas.  You ALWAYS need ice.photo 2-4

3.  Do everything you can ahead of time.  I will set our dining room table even a day or two ahead (I know this may not work if you have tinies at home, but…).  This also gives me the freedom and space to be a little more creative with a theme if I want.

4.  Keep it in perspective.  I do this by making of point of stopping to pray for the people who will be coming to my home.  This is about THEM – making them feel welcome and valued.  I also matted and framed this great free printable I got from Myquillyn at the Nesting Placephoto-166

Hospi-phobics are you feeling a little better?  Deep breaths.  

Veterans, want some more ideas?

In the summer we do a lot more entertaining because our backyard becomes a huge additional “room”.  One of the best investments we made years ago, was to buy a “carport” tent on sale at Home Depot (I think) for about $90 and some 6 ft tables from Costco (also on sale).  We use them constantly in the summer.  Investing in some matching tablecloths also pays off over the years.

** Caveat!  If what you have is a 500 square foot apartment, USE IT! Fill it up with people and good conversation and laughter.  Reflecting the welcoming heart of God isn’t about size.  For us using our yard and investing in some reusable pieces has just been helpful.

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I often do a Tex-mex theme.  I bought some red bandanas super cheap (I think they come in packs at Walmart) to use as napkins.  If you want a cheaper alternative to tablecloths, get some of the stuff they wrap trees with to use as burlap table runners.  Mason jars are fun for glasses.  If you are smart, you can find pie tins at garage sales to use for plates (but I’m not that smart. Or committed)

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We went to dinner at some friends’ house abut a month ago and she gave me this great idea.  She got these marinated meats to grill from Trader Joes, and put out all the fixings for Tacos or whatever.  This is great for a potluck too cuz everyone can bring a different topping.

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And then there’s this new salad recipe I’ve been making over and over this summer.photo-135

  • 1 can black beans (14 ounces), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels (I USED FRESH CORN OFF THE COB)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (half a palmful)
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco (eyeball it) (I OMITTED)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil (eyeball it)
  • Salt and pepper
  • I HAD SOME CHERRY TOMATOES SO I HALVED THEM AND ADDED

The original recipe had this option (but I really like fresh corn): Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let stand for at least 15 minutes for the corn to fully defrost and the flavors to combine, then toss and serve. The corn will also place a quick-chill on this easy side-salad as it defrosts – no need to refrigerate!  Serves 4

We have a great family recipe for homemade guacamole, but an easier alternative is to buy some at the store and “doctor it” with some fresh cilantro and avocados.

And lastly… an ice cream dessert.  Think about it… You don’t want to waste food!  There won’t be any left, but if there is, an ice cream dessert won’t spoil.  Just put it back in the freezer!
Oreo Sundae Dessert
Crust: 1 pkg (35) oreos, crushed.
1/2 stick butter melted.
Mix and pat in greased 9×13 pan  (can reserve 1 cup crumbs for topping if you want)
Filling: 1/2 gallon ice cream (i used java chip)
Topping: 
melt 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. butter
2 t. vanilla
4 well-beaten egg yolks
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
Beat 4 egg whites beaten stiff.  Fold into chocolate mixture and pour over ice cream. Freeze 🙂

Now it’s your turn!  If you’re a veteran at hospitality, what works for you?  If not, what overwhelms you?

 

How to Make a Difference Today

I’ve been a little “off” lately.  A bit of a cranky pants.  And as I examined why, the thing that I noticed was that I’ve really been neglecting the soul rhythm of time in God’s Word.  So this morning I started on a new Bible reading plan, breathing in Genesis 1.

And two things clicked together – God’s words for me, and words for others

First, when I read… I read, pray, & meditate (RPM).  Actually it’s not usually in that order, but RPM is catchy :).

I read the passage and meditate on it.  And what I mean by meditate is that I try to pay attention to verses God quickens my spirit to, and specifically I ask “What does this passage teach me about God and about myself?”

Then I pray the passage into my life.

Here’s what I breathed in from Genesis 1:

  • God is powerful.
  • His Word is powerful. It makes a difference.
  • Words are powerful.
  • God’s words call out life and beauty.
  • I am made in HIs image.

So…then I pray about reflecting God’s image.  How can I call out life and beauty today?

Second, I received the Best. Note. Ever. from our daughter, Katy.  It was another reminder to me of the power of our words to call forth life and beauty in others.

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As our communications guru friend reminds us, “Words Matter!”

Katy’s note was a tangible example of someone reflecting the image of God – making a difference with her words.

This practice of note writing has been a powerful one for me.

Years ago I felt prompted to write a mentor from college who I had been out of touch with.  I thanked him for his influence in my life, growing me to be a leader more like Jesus.  He wrote back that my note had come at the lowest day of his life, where personal challenges had tempted him to believe maybe nothing he had done in ministry had really mattered.   That little note I wrote at that exact time made a difference.  God used it, and God can use your words too.

I try to reflect each morning on different people, conversations, experiences…Is there something I’ve noticed, or some conversation where someone else was affirmed and I haven’t told them?  And I’m reminded of this sign at the airport:

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Here are a few of thingsI’m learning:

  • Emails are ok, but there’s something special about receiving a “real” card with someone’s personal penmanship that you can save.
  • Being super specific is the key to a life-giving note.  There’s a huge difference between “I really appreciate you.” and “The way you welcomed me with a hug and a smile the other day made me feel so loved. It was such a reminder of God’s care for me.”
  • What’s not turned to praise is turned to pride.  We’re all in this together.  We’re dependent on God and His gifts to us through those around us.  Let’s encourage each other!

What is YOUR experience with words of encouragement?  What would you add to what I’ve learned?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

Is God Always the Hard Choice?

It’s One Word Friday!

Ok, so I’m not sure how I got there, but after becoming a Christian in my teens, I fell into a default mode that always assumed that God’s will must be the hardest, and most painful choice I was faced with.

Broccoli or brownie?  Broccoli must be more holy.

Cat or dog?  God surely hates cats so He must want to refine my character by inflicting a cat on me (if this is true, I’m not committed enough to be a disciple) Continue reading

Life-giving Links and Likes

Happy One Word Friday!  I think some of the ways we “Choose Life” (my two words) are by choosing truth, choosing grace, and choosing to delight in the gifts of God.  I thought I’d share some of those gifts that have been delighting me lately.  What about you?  Share what’s delighted you lately in the comments! Continue reading

About Ellen and Giant Space Acorns and Choosing Life

It’s One Word Friday!  How’s it been going for you?  Has your word changed your life or do you have a hard time remembering what it is?  Here are some of my recent thoughts on Choose Life.

Text message convo with daughter Maggie…

Me: Guess who I just ran into at the pool??!!!

Maggie: Ellen???!!

Me: Close, but no.  Not this time.

Maggie and I love Ellen (Degeneres) and are pretty sure she wants to meet us and be best friends.  We also made it to the finals auditioning for the Amazing Race as a team.                        And we’ve visited the giant space acorn (which is probably on your bucket list too).

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All that to say, we set our sites pretty high.  No halfway stuff for us.

I figure, in John 10:10 Jesus didn’t say, “I have come so that your life might be kind of okay.”

Then the other day I was having a conversation with my husband (small caveat: it may have been 6 am and he may still have been half-asleep when we had this conversation).

Me: Honey, Light of my Life, what are some exciting things you’d like to do in the next 10 years?

Husband: “Road trips.  Like up the coast of Oregon and Washington State.”

Me: Road trips???!!  NOOOOOOO!  Wrong answer!  (You think you know a person!)

Husband:  What are some exciting things YOU’D like to do in the next 10 years?

Me: Hike Machu Pichu, teach with you in Africa, hang glide in Switzerland, are the first things that come to mind.

Husband:  Well, whatever you die of it won’t be boredom.

True, but as I look back over my “high expectations” I think, how many of them are eternal?  How many of them reaaaaallly matter?

When we “choose Life” we’re choosing to live into all of God’s abundance, but He also warns us about investing in what won’t last.  And then there’s that whole annoying thing about losing our life in order to gain it.  And the reminder to “live a life worthy of our calling.”

I love it when choosing life includes my passport, or chocolate, or doing anything outside preferably with really exciting people.  But what about when choosing life means choosing inconvenience or grace, or discipline or service?

When I’m not sure, this reminder helps:

Choosing life will always be consistent with choosing love.

Choose life = Choose love.

So today I’m thinking about the “Life” I’m choosing.   What about you?  How’s it going?

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Changing the To Do List to Choose Life

The other morning I was up early, before husband John (as usual), but no worries.  Did I wake him?  No, that would be sooooo inconsiderate!  Instead I left him a note in the bathroom.  It read something like this:

Sweet Baboo (NOTE: I did not say “baboon”),

I woke up remembering…

And could you please…

And while you’re at it…

And don’t forget to buy….

love,

your adoring, romantic, AWAKE wife

Upon reflection, I write a lot of these notes which reinforce the business of marriage much more than the delight.  I’m trying to turn over a new leaf.  So these were my notes this morning: Continue reading

Living Instead of Liking a Better Story

First, let me say loud and clear: I LOVE the ministry of Jen Hatmaker!  I think she is an amazing, funny, inspiring, kingdom-loving mom and leader.  If you’ve been following this blog long you’ll remember when we did our own “experimental mutiny against excess” motivated by her book, 7, so clearly she’s been influential.  If you haven’t read her stuff, you should!

But the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came across this:

photo-8The rest of the update reads: “…minutes past Remy’s bedtime. Tra la la.”

So I’m looking at this and thinking, “Oh, that’s nice.  Family.  Beginning of summer.  Building good memories.”

I’m happy she could post that, but it’s not a big deal, right?  It’s not like her kids won American Idol or converted Kanye West.  I would hope many of you could post some nice slice of a pre-bedtime moment if you have kids, or a nice pic of you and friends relaxing on your deck if you don’t, right?

What baffles me is what’s under the update.  4,700 people “liked” this, and 138 people commented!

I showed husband John and asked him why he thought so many people engaged with a simple picture of someone’s kids playing in their back yard.  He said something which I thought was brilliant (I think most of what he says is pretty brilliant though).  He said: Continue reading

Choosing Life When All We Can See is Death

It’s “spring” in Minnesota which means when I woke up this morning and it was gray and cold my first thought was, “Thank God it’s not snowing or raining again.”

Spring in Minnesota looks like a boat-load of ugly.

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Yes, this is the mountain of soot-covered snow still in our parking lot.  We’re thinking we could raise money for missions if we take bets on the date it will finally be gone (and 4th of July is not out of the question).

It does NOT seem like an easy time to choose life.  Or to remember that life is there, beneath the surface, hidden in the ugliness of brown dirt.  It’s hard to remember that God WILL actually transform that ugliness at some point in the near future.

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It’s much the same with seasons, or days of our life.  We can recite “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.” but we think, “HOW in the WORLD is God going to change this mistake, this sin, this pain, this relationship and bring LIFE and Beauty from it???  How will God redeem it at all?” Continue reading

How Do You Picture Choosing Life?

As I’ve been traveling I’ve not been able to post very consistently and I’ve really dropped the ball on our One Word Fridays.  Sorry about that.

Like I wrote the other day, it’s been a week of living back into real life.  And part of that has been letting my heart and mind catch up with the rest of me.  Doing a kind of  Examen.  Celebrating places of Life, and mourning places of Death.

The main thing that drives me to write this blog is the conviction that we don’t just drift into becoming more like Jesus.  We have to pay attention.  When we do, maybe we end up saying with Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

So…today I’m paying attention to the “patches of God-light” or instances from the past two months that shouted, “This is what it looks like to choose LIFE!”.  Here are 6 of them:

1.  Hospitality  We had the delightful privilege of staying at the guest cottage belonging to some friends in Charlotte NC while we met with some mentors.  We had dinner with our friends and some different topics of interest came up in our conversation.  The next morning (one when rain was predicted), here’s what our hostess left outside our door.  The books are about the topics we had discussed the night before.

Choosing life = paying attention to the way I can serve others.

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2. Relationships  A week in one of my favorite cities, reconnecting with friends in ministry at National Community Church and spending time with daughter Katy!

Choosing life = learning from everyone everywhere.

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3. Travel in Israel/Palestine, Telos Conversations and at the International Justice Mission Global Prayer Gathering

Choosing life = partnering with God in His work of bringing justice around the world.

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4. Creation Life emerging from death, even in Minnesota!

Choosing life = noticing the smallest gifts.

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 5. Words

Choosing life = choosing to share life-giving words that build up rather than tear down.

Bob Goff (@bobgoff)
God doesn’t look for typos in our lives; He’s a creator, not an editor. We’re all rough drafts of who we’re becoming.

6. Random Acts of Kindness Twice in the past two months – once here and once in Florida, people have surprised us, paying for our dinner!

Choosing Life = looking for opportunities to delight others.

photo-102What are some places you’ve experienced Life over the past two months?

 

How Do You Picture Choosing Life?

As I’ve been traveling I’ve not been able to post very consistently and I’ve really dropped the ball on our One Word Fridays.  Sorry about that.

Like I wrote the other day, it’s been a week of living back into real life.  And part of that has been letting my heart and mind catch up with the rest of me.  Doing a kind of  Examen.  Celebrating places of Life, and mourning places of Death.

The main thing that drives me to write this blog is the conviction that we don’t just drift into becoming more like Jesus.  We have to pay attention.  When we do, maybe we end up saying with Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

So…today I’m paying attention to the “patches of God-light” or instances from the past two months that shouted, “This is what it looks like to choose LIFE!”.  Here are 6 of them:

1.  Hospitality  We had the delightful privilege of staying at the guest cottage belonging to some friends in Charlotte NC while we met with some mentors.  We had dinner with our friends and some different topics of interest came up in our conversation.  The next morning (one when rain was predicted), here’s what our hostess left outside our door.  The books are about the topics we had discussed the night before.

Choosing life = paying attention to the way I can serve others.

photo-98

2. Relationships  A week in one of my favorite cities, reconnecting with friends in ministry at National Community Church and spending time with daughter Katy!

Choosing life = learning from everyone everywhere.

photo-95

 

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3. Travel in Israel/Palestine, Telos Conversations and at the International Justice Mission Global Prayer Gathering

Choosing life = partnering with God in His work of bringing justice around the world.

IMG_6301

photo-100

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4. Creation Life emerging from death, even in Minnesota!

Choosing life = noticing the smallest gifts.

photo-96

 5. Words

Choosing life = choosing to share life-giving words that build up rather than tear down.

Bob Goff (@bobgoff)
God doesn’t look for typos in our lives; He’s a creator, not an editor. We’re all rough drafts of who we’re becoming.

6. Random Acts of Kindness Twice in the past two months – once here and once in Florida, people have surprised us, paying for our dinner!

Choosing Life = looking for opportunities to delight others.

photo-102What are some places you’ve experienced Life over the past two months?