Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hospitality and Family

When I think of hospitality, the idea that immediately comes to mind is that of an outward expression. Before reading this chapter on hospitality and family, my vision of hospitality could largely be filled up in inviting a friend or a close family over for dinner, meeting a neighbor’s need, hosting a holiday dinner party and so on. The authors open this chapter on family by saying “While the ministry of hospitality often focuses on those outside out home, it should begin from within our home. If this occurs, generosity and kindness toward others become an extension of our family hospitality.” They go on to say that extending hospitality to our own family should be of first priority. Here are some of my underlined family first principles to the point of treating your family "as good as guests:"

1. Prepare favorite foods.

2. Set the table-How often to I neglect to do this for my husband and I?! It’s so easy to take a paper plate to the coffee table but how much more does setting the table with a nice table cloth and some fresh flowers communicate to your husband/children that you have given thought to the meal and are joyful about serving them!

3. Check your appearance: The authors point out here how quick we are to change our cloths, do our makeup and hair before guests come over. Why not give our family the same courtesy? There is a short story in the book about a woman walking in to find her mother doing her hair and putting on her lipstick. When the daughter asked where she was going, the mother replied, “nowhere, your dad is coming home soon.” The authors concludes this point by saying that while we shouldn't’t be overly consumed with our appearance, maintaining care of our appearance out of love is appropriate.

4. Create a warm atmosphere-Dinner music anyone?

5. Turn off the tv and leave the phone to the answering machine.

6. Keep an orderly home-Our family should benefit from our daily cleaning and organizing just as guests enjoy our efforts when they visit. You probably spend time cleaning the house before the guests arrive, but what about after the leave? Managing the home is key to the hospitality of your family.

7. Include your children: Neglecting to include children in hospitality can plant seeds of bitterness towards it. For many women, it’s easy to give into the temptation of viewing children as interruptions when preparing to host and plan a meal. Reading this, I can easily see how ignoring my future children while wearing the hostess hat could make them resentful of people coming over, and even get in the way of them learning the importance of serving others! To avoid viewing kids as a frustration in the midst of your preparations, the authors offer some great points. First, allow yourself extra time for tasks, because face it, you know it’s going to take longer with little helpers! Also, be willing to set aside the “to do” list for the needs of your children, and proactively look for ways to include them in your preparations.

As a last note, modeling hospitality with your family is not only foundational in setting a good example for your children, but also provides a great opportunity to create meaningful memories and family traditions.

That concludes my latest lesson on hospitality, Bon Appetite!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

The headlining event of the weekend was going to Goldsboro to celebrate my dad’s birthday. My mom made a wonderful Italian inspired meal, and we topped it off with coffee and ice cream cake. The much anticipated surprise present this year for dad was none other than Apple’s IPhone. That’s right, my dad got an IPhone for his birthday. For someone who just recently started getting used to a prepaid cell phone, this was certainly a big splash into the 21st century! Talk about taking the plunge ;) Enjoy it dad!
Dad and his girls
After opening the big present, words like “have mercy,” “Wow,” and “how much did this cost?” were exchanged several times. :)Chris and dad inaugurating the IPhone.

Happy Birthday Dad! I'm sure you'll be an IPhone expert in no time!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lessons in Hospitality

In my pursuit of learning the art of domestic engineering, I am really enjoying my new book on hospitality. So far, "Hospitality, the Joy of Serving Others" by Pat Ennis & Lisa Tadlock has proven a wonderful source of encouragement, inspiration, good recipes and witty anecdotes-and I'm only on chapter three! More than serving up ingredients for successful entertaining, Ennis & Tadlock paint a clear picture of biblical hospitality that extends far beyond appetizers, dinner music, and dare I say comfort!

Each chapter is sprinkled with great pointers and also provides a helpful concluding summary for study. It is my intent to pull out some of my favorites and share them here for future reference and practical application. Perhaps an "adventures in hospitality" series if you will. Here is my first lesson:

I really appreciated the author's distinction of biblical hospitality. Biblical hospitality separates itself from everyday entertaining as it is a demonstration of love. Entertainment may focus primarily on having a beautiful table decor or preparing gourmet food-having everything just right. In contrast, the food, table arrangements and other elements should be viewed simply as tools to express our love towards others.

This leads in to the next point of "hospitality without grumbling"-and don't we all need to hear that! Although easier said than done, it's so important to pursue hospitality enthusiastically and not with a complaining or grumbling spirit. The authors point out here that we should always be on guard for sins of selfishness, laziness and pride which can easily dampen the joy in serving others and practicing hospitality. This rings especially true for me as I think of how my own pride often cripples my hospitality. For example, our carpet was a hot mess before we put in our laminate floors. I was so embarrassed by how dirty they looked and was reluctant to even think about inviting someone over for fear of what they would think about the carpet and as an extension, my housekeeping skills!

This book is immensely beneficial for me because it's reminds me that hospitality is about serving others. Wait a minute-do you mean hospitality isn't about me(did I just write that out loud?). Not about the way I decorate my house, set my table or show off my budding cooking skills? This is not to say that providing a warm, welcoming environment and well set table for your guests is not important-rather that your time and energy should not be overwhelmed, nor your joyful spirit be exhausted in the details.Without a doubt, there are many more opportunities for genuine, enthusiastic and loving hospitality when your motivation is seated in the right place, for the joy of serving others.

Friday, August 7, 2009

One Of Those Days...

You know the kind, where:

...The cashier decides to count the money in her register just when it’s your turn

...Roadwork appears out of nowhere on your always trusted shortcut

...You desperately need a bathroom in Joanne fabrics but the manager with the magic key is no where to be found-then you go through two neighboring stores only to be greeted with the unfriendly “customer’s only” sign before finding some grace in "Wild Birds Unlimited." (I seriously considered buying something there, but left with many thanks instead.)

...You order a sweet tea with lite ice and lemon from McDonalds and receive a lemonless tea with 90% ice. Don't they know that the lemon in my tea is as ketchup to a burger, or A1 to steak-absolutely necessary and not the same without!

...You leave Target without that one very important item at the top of your mental checklist.

...It starts to pour while inside said target and your only umbrella is laying useless in the backseat of the car-which is conveniently parked miles away from the entrance.

...You spill sugar on your freshly swiffered kitchen floor, and the trusty dusty buster has zero battery left.

Yes, it’s been one of those days. No doubt God is teaching me a lesson in patience here. I’ve always thought myself to be a pretty patient person, but am thankful for opportunites to learn and grow in that area. Sometimes it takes a day like this to say "Hey, the world is'nt spinning on my schedule after all, lol!" :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Persnickety Piper

Piper has been developing some pretty peculiar habits lately, like
lining up his favorite toys in the window-for safekeeping I'm sure.

He also likes to show off his "toy of the day" as soon as I come home from work. I say toy of the day because it's usually a different item he comes running to the door to greet me with everyday. Without fail, he will be super attached to that toy for the rest of the night, and usually even tries to take it out on walks with him(so cute!). This new habit started in our job transitions where both Chris and I were out the house at the same times, leaving him by himself for longer hours than he was used to. So, he's made the best of his alone time and has become better friends with his toys :) Two words- Separation Anxiety.

He seems to understand more of the things we say now-like "going upstairs" and other everyday sayings. If I know that Chris is on his way home, I can tell Piper that he's coming home soon and no lie, he will run to the window and sit there patiently until he gets home...that is unless I'm cooking of course, in which case nothing gets between that dog and a crumb!

In other Piper news, he has almost mastered his new trick "spin," is in dire need of a good grooming and has more treats in our pantry than we do! He is very affectionate and playful, and has not mellowed out an ounce since we had him neutered a few weeks ago. In fact, he is as energetic and mischievous as ever! In any case, I'm confident that most of his acting out is rooted in attention seeking and not pure evil. He really would be an almost perfect pup if he didn't feel the need to bark at every soul that walks in front of our home-this is by far our biggest challenge! It's a hard one though because it's really just our home where he's territorial-he's an absolute angel when we take him out in public to eat, walk, ect. He's even been doing really well with strangers and kids coming up to pet him. I don't understand why he doesn't feel the need to bark at a TON of people outside the mall but goes crazy when just one person comes within a close radius of our home. Our poor, blessed neighbors! Any Caesar Milan experts out there? Tips appreciated! Other than that he's a perfectly well adjusted pup-albeit with a strangely curious and quirky affection for his toys ;)