Making Hospitality Easy: 4 Tips for Hosting People in Your Home

20
Nov
2020

making hospitality easyWith Thanksgiving coming soon here for those in the U.S., I thought I would chat a bit about one of my most favorite topics—making hospitality easy.

When I mention the word hospitality, how do you respond? Do you get excited? Or perhaps you begin to feel a bit anxious and nervous?

My heart is to calm your nerves if you are the latter. The art of hospitality, the bringing together of friends in our home, is truly the heart of the gospel being played out in a real tangible way. I read this today, and it resonated with me deeply…

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by divining lines.” —Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

Put simply, hospitality is the act of hosting people in your home, making time and space to create connection. Often it involves serving them a meal. The centerpiece of how Jesus shared the gospel was often around a table. It fills a human need for nourishment, and we can add so much to that experience by using our unique gifts. If you feel you aren’t good at hospitality, I encourage you to think again.

Let’s chat about a few really simple and practical ways to create a space that is inviting, yet not overwhelming, to those we invite in our home. I know your desire is to make others feel welcome in your home, that is all. Nothing more is needed.

Create a welcoming space

What brings you joy? What speaks to your heart? Your home should be an appendage of your heart. When friends walk in, they should be able to see you in all the spaces. This does not mean you need everything to be perfectly arranged and have expensive pieces decking your home. What it does mean is that your personality is reflected.

Having simple decor that does not clutter but is special to you is really a key piece. As I began furnishing my home last year (the one we’ve recently sold), I was very aware of choosing special things that were a part of me and really reflected who I was. A special painting that my good friend painted for me as a centerpiece. I chose small, decor pieces because they fit a need, not just create clutter. It doesn’t have to be a perfect space but should reflect who you are.

Simple is best

One of my biggest tips for those stepping out into hospitality is to have two or three simple and really good recipes or menus that you can use when you invite others over. This is key to having things run smoothly and also for you to be less stressed. I have found a good chili recipe with a wonderful gluten-free cornbread recipe to be one of our staple menus we pull out when we have others over. I also can make some roasted potatoes, roasted vegetables, and a simple protein like grilled salmon or chicken. There are several of my favorite hospitality recipes in my book, Got Dinner recipe book, where you will find 45 recipes that will make entertaining easy.

Diffuse

This tip is by far my favorite!!! Ever since I began using essential oils in my home, which is now nearly eight years ago, as soon as someone walks into my home they comment on how good it smells. I am so grateful! The calming ability of diffusing essential oils eases stress, but also just gives a feel-good feeling when you are smelling really yummy smells without any toxic residue. If you have a diffuser, be sure to check out these wonderful fall diffuser blends I shared; they will be perfect for your Thanksgiving gathering. We may be in a trailer now, but I have two diffusers, and we will be spending the day with my son and I will have diffusers going there as well. If you do not have oils yet, be sure to connect with me and I would be honored to help you get started.

Good conversation

Even as an introvert at heart, I can and do enjoy conversations with others. It’s true. The art of conversation is actually a skill you develop. I have spent time working on how to have engaging conversations with others over the past five years. People truly enjoy talking about themselves, so why not make sure you have some questions in your pocket to engage that conversation. I have enjoyed small gatherings of friends and acquaintances because I can ask questions about them and their life experiences. This truly helps me understand them, but also helps me feel connected. It’s such a joy for me now. I was once a person who struggled with conversations. Now I just keep asking questions about their family, their hobbies, their favorite things to do, and more.

Put these tips in your back pocket and you’ll be well equipped to foster a home filled with key pieces, making hospitality easy even at a moment’s notice.

Further reading for making hospitality easy

I have a few books that I have enjoyed on the topic of hospitality. If you’re interested in gaining more tips and inspiration, give these resources a look.

Living the RV Life: Selling it All to Travel Full Time

12
Nov
2020

Selling Everything to Travel Full-time: living the RV life

“Living the RV life? But why?” I’ve had a lot of questions about why our family would sell our recently completed, custom-built, ocean view home in Seabrook, WA, to go travel the U.S. full time in an Airstream, so I thought it was time to share.

Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city

Just over four years ago we left the Seattle suburbs, sold 80% of our personal belongings, and ventured to a remote beach community on the Washington Coast. People thought we were crazy then, but the process of escaping the big city, the hustle and bustle, to find a simple peace from small-town living was exactly what our family needed at the time.

We completed an amazing home, which was an experience in itself. I am forever grateful for the process of building our home from the ground up, as it truly helped shape me, develop a different connection with my husband, and certainly brought our family together in a way that otherwise would not have happened. Oh, and during that three-year process, we lived in 400 square feet, so small living is something we know all about.

The pursuit of living a full life

This year I think, has given us a chance to truly see what’s important in our lives, what truly matters, and that really, life is short and if you desire something, you better go out and find it. So that is what we are doing.

Back in early spring, I began having a sense that perhaps our time in this little town was coming to and end. I wasn’t sure really where we would go, but a friend of mine had been traveling around the country living the RV life for the past few months and I was intrigued. Now, let me say, just months prior, I was the one saying, “I could never do that.” But, it’s funny how things can change when you open your heart.

I brought the idea up to my hubby and we chatted. His job as an airline pilot allowed him to be flexible, meaning her could basically fly into work from anywhere,  and I work from home, so that gave us a sense of freedom. We began looking at logistics, touring some trailers, and digging into this idea to see if it was something we could make happen.

We prayed, we talked, we dreamed about where we would go. We watched YouTube channels (I highly recommend Keep Your DayDream) and we waited. When you proactively begin seeking for God to show up and lead you, you will see his kindness and how He opens doors. That is exactly what happened for us.

One of the biggest doors that opened for us was that my husband was given the chance to take a three-year leave from his job. Just…wow. We prayed and felt it was an answered prayer, which would lead us into taking the next steps to sell our home and then go full time on the road.

We had already determined we would be homeschooling our ten-year-old in the fall, so that issue had been resolved. So he applied for the leave and was awarded it. We adjusted our family budget and determined it was time to sell our home.

Reality is setting in

Now, our home, Coastal Haven, is incredibly special to us. Not just because we determined each unique feature in the home, picked all the knobs, handles, windows, finishes—all of it, but because the home sits with an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean, among other things. To say we are emotionally attached to the home is likely an understatement, but when you know in your heart the time has come to allow another family to take over the space, well…you just know. It doesn’t make it easier, but you just have a peace that passes anything you can describe. We listed our home, and it sold in perfect timing. We took delivery of our Airstream almost two weeks ago and are a bit nervous, but in a good way.

I have come to realize with downsizing for the second time in less than five years that a home is special. The things in it are nice, but really, when all is said and done, it’s experiences you cherish the rest of your life. I want to live my life full right now. That is one thing I said to my husband when we were considering this new adventure. We have the ability right now to do this. We have the freedom of time; I can work from anywhere…what more do we need? In fact, I will get to see many of the people I chat with online every single day in my oily community—in person! I am thrilled about that. If there is one thing my heart has been missing, it is the loveliness of people.

So here we are. As I write this, I took my last walk around our beach town this morning. I didn’t cry; I just enjoyed the walk and wanted to etch it in my memory. Now I am packing up the last few things to take out of our home, as we leave in the morning and another family will call it theirs. We met them on Sunday, and they are so excited for their next chapter, and I am thrilled for them. You see, when you have something special and can share it with another, it truly does bring more joy to everyone.

Having faith as we embark on a new future

We have said we will travel for a year and decide what our next step is. I think we will build again, not sure exactly where, but we don’t have to figure it out right now. We can just think about what we are doing tomorrow, and the next day, and that is a beautiful thing.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to watch our adventures living the RV life. I will do posts here on the blog occasionally, but consistent sharing will be done there.  For those praying for us, I will forever be grateful.

Grieving Losses Other Than Death

7
Nov
2020

Grieving losses other than death The topic of grief has been on my heart for several months. For many of us, including myself, we typically only think of grief with losing someone we love. But all of us at one time or another find ourselves grieving losses other than death. I believe that as a society, we typically do not give merit to the other places grief can show up.

Loss comes in the form of death, but also making a move, selling a home, losing a friendship or relationship with a family member, and one which has been completely overlooked the past six months—the loss of normal routines and connections.

You are likely in a season of grief right now. Have you considered that?

Regardless of the type of loss you’ve experienced, your grief is real.

Right now, in my season for example, I am grieving losses other than death. I am struggling with grief over selling a home we built with all our heart and soul (more on that and why we have chosen to do that in another post), moving from the small town we’ve been blessed to be a part of for over four years, launching into a season of uncertainty, being isolated from friends and family during this pandemic, grieving the inability to proceed with vacation plans we made, and having any sense of control and ability to dream and plan, and the one big one for me is a disintegration of a relationship with a close family member without knowing exactly why.

What we often don’t realize is that grief is not always about death. Grief is about loss, and that loss comes in many forms, death being just one of them.

My heart has been tender for so many months, and I am sure if you sat down and thought about your situation and what has been happening, you could come up with a list as well. Grief often brings along varied feelings that may be difficult or confusing for you. Some of the most common reactions to loss are:

  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation. A desire to be alone or an inability to converse with or reach out to friends and loved ones.
  • Loss of control of your thoughts and feelings. Feeling like you’re “going crazy.”
  • Difficulty concentrating, numbness.
  • Guilt, remorse, or constant anxiety over what you could have done differently.
  • Anxiety and fear.
  • Irritability, frustration, and anger at yourself, someone else, or the situation at hand.
  • Listlessness, lethargy, and general exhaustion.

Any of those sound familiar?

When you’ve experienced loss and you feel any of the above, it’s important to realize that this is a normal reaction to grief. While many are looking for a “quick fix” or a way in which to accelerate the grieving process, it’s important to remember that grief is as unique as the individuals who experience it. It can’t always be rushed, and it’s critical that you’re kind with yourself as some days will inevitably be better than others.

My desire is to help bring some relief, some acknowledgment that it is okay to not be okay. When we recognize issues, we can then begin to nourish those areas to bring healing. The way in which you cope with your grief makes a world of difference. Letting yourself feel the grief is critical, because grief needs an outlet, however painful. I am seeing that now, that I will often just begin crying and cannot explain it. My typical “put-together” self will begin to be irritated with myself because I am feeling and expressing myself, but I am learning to allow the process to flow in order to bring healing.

I have been focusing on a few things that I hope will help you as you nourish your soul and bring healing.

Proper nutrition

Grief takes its toll on the body, depriving you of energy and strength. Now is the time to eat whole, nutritious foods that will help keep your body strong while you heal. Treat your body good.

Nurturing sleep

Grief and sleeplessness go hand in hand. I have experienced this like never before in the last six months. However, your body—and mind—heal during sleep, so all those sleepless hours can really exacerbate suffering. I have been using natural methods to help by mind wind down and release anxiety, some of which I shared in this post.

Rest and relaxation

Lethargy can be part of grieving, but allowing yourself to relax does not mean wallowing in bed all day. (Okay, I may have done that a time or two.) It means allowing yourself to feel pampered or indulged; it means having grace with ourselves. You can take it one step further and find ways to truly nurture yourself—like getting a massage, reading a good book, journaling, listening to the waves crash on the beach, or sitting with headphones on listening to worship music.

Find your tribe

I am grateful for a small group of friends who will gather around and listen, pray for me, and help me feel valued. I am not able to do this in person unfortunately, but we have used Marco Polo, a wonderful app that connects us together. If I hadn’t had a group of friends to walk this journey with, I would have crumbled. This is something we need to seek out, building relationships is hard work; however, it is so worth it!

Professional help

Sometimes grief can feel too big to bear on our own, and that is okay. Seeking help from a qualified professional is the best way to begin dealing with your grief in a productive manner. I urge you, if you are needing to talk to someone, seek out a Christian counselor via recommendations from friends or a local church in your area.

Don’t ever feel silly or downplay your feelings when you find yourself grieving losses other than death. Acknowledge it, and do what you need to do to promote healing for your heart.

5 Simple Ways to Connect as a Family

21
May
2020

Summer is here…we are busting down the door to sunshine and sprinklers, right??!! However, this spring has left me a bit “disconnected” even when I have been so “connected” to my family. Can you relate?

We’ve been in close quarters for weeks, and honestly, it’s been getting on my nerves!! So I decided to be a bit more creative on finding things that can break up the monotony. As with anything, changing things up is a good thing.

I hope these ideas spark some connection in your home!

Reading Out Loud

I admit, I really despise reading out loud, but I realize it is a great way to build connection. It’s also a fun way to share a story together as a family, which can then be brought into further discussion. It expands the mind, brings on creativity, and allows everyone to experience something together.

I just ordered these Oregon Trail Books that were highly recommended by a friend of mine. My son is ten, the same as her son, and he has not been able to put them down. I am looking forward to reading them as a family. I can remember in fourth grade doing a big Oregon Trail report; I even made paper look old by soaking it in coffee grounds and warming in the oven to dry. Maybe we will do a fun project like that while reading these books.

Here is a great printable that contains some other books that have been family favorites…grab yours here!

Games

Whether you like healthy competition or not, family game time is a great way to connect. Make it afternoon or evening, it doesn’t matter, and provide a few fun snacks too. We have been especially fond of these gluten-free pretzels as of late. I have enjoyed playing enough Candyland, Go Fish, and Old Maid in my time, and now  have graduated to games that require a bit more concentration. Some of our family favorites are Sequence, BananaGrams (which we take with us when we eat out), Sorry, Uno, Yahtzee, and Exploding Kittens (which I have yet to play, the name…I just cannot get beyond the name…but my family loves it!).

Have you added a new game to your collection? We’ve had some of the best laughs over games we’ve played. They just break things up in a good way and have a way of making connection and memories.

Hike

Getting outside on a hike. It’s the best ever. When I say, HIKE, maybe that mean a walk around your neighborhood, or perhaps you live near a hiking trail or natural wooded area you can take advantage of. It doesn’t have to be a big formal activity, but getting out in nature is truly a way to connect and get some much needed exercise.

We are blessed with a ton a walking trails and opportunities to get outside where we live. We are also near some national parks, and I cannot wait until they are open again in our area. So many great opportunities to see wildlife, nature, and some great waterfalls. I just grabbed my ten-year-old a new pair of hiking shoes and he literally begs me to plan a hike and get outdoors!

Cooking

What mom doesn’t need help in the kitchen? Well, if you are like me, I tend to just prefer to “get things done” rather than use opportunity for a life lesson, but I am getting better!

We have been making almond milk together. I will share my easy recipe soon, but he loves squeezing the nut bag!! How about cutting veggies and fruit? My-ten-year old is all about using the knife. Two years ago we began using  Green Chef, and it literally has changed my game in the kitchen. I am much more relaxed and, honestly, fun to be around and will often have my son in the kitchen to help, and my husband. Honestly, my husband loves to cook the Green Chef meals. The recipes are all super easy, done within 35 minutes, and here is the best…ALL the ingredients are included for the recipe, except for salt, pepper, and cooking oil, generally.

It truly does make cooking a joy. We have been using the plant-based plan lately, but alternate with the gluten-free plan as well. It really does help our evening routine, and we have fun together in the kitchen.

Mad Libs

Ever since I was a kid, and that was a long time ago, Mad Libs has been so much fun. Great for car rides, sitting waiting for an appointment, a day at the beach, or sitting around on a lazy afternoon. You will get a big belly laugh for sure!

This Best of Mad Libs version is great, with 125 fillable pages of fun. We would collect Mad Libs and toss them in a small plastic tub similar to this and keep some easy activities in our car (when we were out and about more!), and Mad Libs is perfect for adding to that bin. Try tossing in some playing cards, like these fun unicorn cards, and you are all set.

Mad Libs will help your child learn the difference of nouns, verbs, and adjectives—all while making up a hilarious story that you end up reading out loud. The reading is truly the best part.

Do you have some fun family favorites for connecting? I would love to hear them.

The Lord Is My Refuge

24
Mar
2020

In the past few weeks, my heart has been aware of those of us who need to be reminded of how present God is. Yes, even in the midst of things that seem almost unreal. As we learn to navigate this season, with “unplanned homeschooling,” “social distancing,” and “families in close quarters,” it can become almost too much to bear.

It is a time to be drawing near to the Lord, instead of drawing near to the news media. All they do is share some info and then rehash it over and over initiating fear that is thrown at us multiple times a day.

I listened to a sermon a few weeks ago where the pastor told us to read Psalm 91 each morning and each evening. The promise and protection God has for us in that Psalm is what you will want to resonate on. That and only that. If you watch the news and listen to all the opinions, you want to be sure to look at it through God’s eyes. Every SINGLE day!

We want to dwell on God’s word.

As I was reading this piece of scripture with my ten-year-old, a friend shared with me a version she had where she was actually able to fill in her own name, or the name of her family. It was brilliant. I took that as a jumping off point to create a free printable that you can use in your home, now—and fill in your name, your children’s names, or your family last name. There could be nothing better than a personalized reading of Psalm 91 to marinate and dwell on.

I encourage you to grab this free download.

Spend some time during dinner tonight and fill in the blanks. Perhaps you even make more than one copy and have your kids write their name in all the blanks and keep a personal copy for them to read before bed.

Taking time to read this truth…GOD’S words which are full of power will help ease your spirit.

God is not a God of fear. He wants you to be in His word, walking closely with him. It’s time to share that with our kids in a dramatic way.

Do you have a favorite portion of Psalm 91?

For this current season, my favorite is Psalm 91:5-6

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Go now to download your FREE personalized Psalm 91 printable and have it handy.  You can either download and save to your desktop, then open Adobe and use your computer to type the fillable blanks or you can just print and handwrite in the blanks.  Either way, it will empower you with truth.

Remember, the Lord is my Refuge. He is here to protect you and give you peace.