It was such a joy to have Anne-Marie Clegg with us at the Heartistry Experience in France in May 2014. Anne-Marie was deeply impacted and shares her thoughts with us. Lyn Johnson’s hospitality seminar re-introduces the lost art of being welcoming. Thanks to social media, we are able to establish exponentially more connections than our parent’s generation, but do we know how to create connectedness? I went to France to dig deeper into this topic, aware I had at times missed opportunities to build deeper community. Plus I love the Mediterranean, so why not make a vacation of it… a vacation with a purpose.Read More
Did anyone learn anything in France at the Heartistry Experience? We all had so much fun, saw new and lovely sights, ate delicious meals, made life-long friends and much, much more. But how easy will it be for us to go home and practice what we learned? A teacher's greatest joy is to see the enthusiastic outworking of the concepts, ideas and tips that have just been taught. I have been so delighted to see how those who have attended the Heartistry Experience have gone home and immediately begun to offer hospitality in many different forms. They have opened their hearts and homes to others and have thought of many little acts of generosity that have touched lives.
Our June Heartistry Experience attendees arrived home and many of them received wonderful hospitality from their families. The word had obviously got out and everyone was ready to welcome home the traveler. Tables had been set with love and creativity. One mom arrived home to see all the lunch preparation items set out with cute notes and illustrations alongside them. What fun!
Michelle attended the Heartistry Experience in France. After arriving home many of her friends asked her about the time in France. Michelle decided to host a special brunch. After treating her friends to a beautifully set table, a personal gift and affirmation for each friend and delicious food, Michelle shared some of what she had learned. She used the cards she had received as prompts to remind her of the most important points. A number of her friends told her that they would be implementing some of the ideas in their own homes!
During our time in France I noticed that some of the attendees were squirreling away their napkins/serviettes (clean ones of course!) At the end of the week, I offered the left over napkins for people to take home with them. Annie used hers to accent a special French dinner that she served to her family when she returned and the Eiffel Tower serviettes added the finishing touch.
The little lights were one of the gifts given during the week and these are being well used as part of many tables that have been set since people returned home.
I love to see the creativity that has been shown as our Heartistry alumni are opening their homes and sharing hospitality with family and friends. Danica, who came to France as my intern (she was fantastic!) hosted a tea for Canada Day. The flag added to the flower arrangement gives such a fun and patriotic touch, doesn't it?
Lydia who attended the most recent Heartistry Experience knew that my husband Brett was going to be returning to our condo in Cape Town without me. She made a tray laden with all sorts of food items, flowers and a welcome card and delivered it to our home. Brett was not there at the time, so she left it in our braai (BBQ). What a lovely surprise for Brett to find when he arrived home.
I smiled when Juliana shared that she and Michelle, who also attended the Heartistry Experience, were going to be going camping in style! I think my love of serviettes/napkins had rubbed off on them and they had purchased some colorful papergoods. I am sure these stuck out against the backdrop of the neutral shades of the African bush! But no doubt everyone had fun!
Two of our 2015 Heartistry Experience alumni came home and started a ministry to seniors in the community. They meet weekly and then put on special events each quarter. I was privileged to attend their High Tea and it was spectacular. Everyone loved the beautifully set tables and delicious food. Well done Cornelia and Liezl!
Join us in France at the next Heartistry Experience. It will have such an impact on your life.
Check out all the details here.
It is a well known fact that what the Americans refer to as the "holidays" can be a stress- producing time for many people. These simple tips will help us make some small changes that will lead to a more joyful Thanksgiving.
- Begin with the end in mind- what would you like the time together to accomplish? Make choices, even if they are tough, based on what will be constructive for your family.
- Plan ahead - use our Heartistry Motto- the More Before the Less the Stress!
- Choose some menu items that are traditional and add some new healthy dishes. Check out the amazing recipes in our Heartistry Alumni, Leigh Anne's new Holiday Slow Cooker Recipe Book.
- Shop for non-perishable items well in advance of the crowded stores and buy some extra food to donate to a needy family.
- Ask for help by inviting guests to bring a dish. Be specific as to what they should bring.
- If cooking is stressful for you, purchase some pre-cooked food and just prepare a couple of items. Make sure to serve the food in your own dishes and not in the aluminum foil pans! Garnish with some fresh herbs and no-one will suspect that you haven't been cooking all day.
- Divide up the kitchen responsibilities so that all the work doesn't fall on one person (you) and discuss the details of what needs to be done well in advance.
- Give each family member a dish to prepare and have the recipe and ingredients ready in a bag. Each of our children has prepared a specific dish every year for Thanksgiving and feels a sense of ownership for "their" part of the meal.
- Ask older members of the family if they would prefer to relax or whether they would like to be part of the preparations. Don't exclude them especially if cooking family meals was something they loved doing for many years.
- Substitute fruit and vegetables as table decor instead of flowers as they can be eaten later.
- Set the table the day before so there is one less thing to do on the actual day. (I enjoyed this blog about the value of a beautifully set table- Thanksgiving Dinner: Why we decided not to skip it.)
- If serving a big group, use fancy paper plates to make the clean up easier.
- Plan an activity that will focus on the meaning of the holiday such as going around the table and having each person say what they are thankful for. I have kept an album for the last 28 years and have had everybody write one thing for which they are grateful. It is fun to look back and see what the children wrote when they were young.
- Ask guests to share their favorite background music song and make a playlist of the various songs. Have people identify their song when it is playing and share why they like it.
- Invite a foreign student to join your family. They will so appreciate being in an American home for this special holiday and it will add a richness to your gathering. Very few foreign students ever go inside an American home so let's change this! Your children will learn so much from having International guests too. Check out my blog 10 Things Children Learn at the Dinner Table.
Relax and enjoy your time together with family, friends and strangers. Please share photos of your table with us. We'd love to see how you expressed your love for your family and your creativity!
Fall is a great time of year to gather family and friends around your table. I would like to encourage you to host a supper in October. Do you want your event to be Simple, Special or Spectacular? This will depend on your experience, the time you have allotted to prep for the meal and what the occasion is. Read on for instructions on how to prepare a delicious meal and a fall themed table that fits your needs perfectly!Read More
Would you like to spend a week in France learning about true hospitality?
In this blog, I (Lyn) share about the 2017 Heartistry Experience and I am sure it will motivate you to want to join us in 2018!
We will miss the hot croissants for breakfast and the beauty on all sides. We return home with so many memories of special times, new friends from different parts of the world and refreshed skills that will enable us to offer hospitality to our families and community. It is hard to capture all that we learned and experienced, but I would love to try! Enjoy the photos below (some of my favorites) and more pictures in the Gallery. The videos will add another element as you hear the sounds and feel the vibe.Read More
My mom passed away on July 28, 2017, having lost the battle to ovarian cancer. My twin sister Michelle and I had the privilege of nursing her and were with her when she took her last breath. It has been a busy, sad but very precious season.
I have shared about her memorial service here as a way to communicate with family, friends and any in our Heartistry community who may be interested.
Serving someone a cup of tea can be much more than just offering them a beverage. Stopping to enjoy a cup of tea with a friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger gives an opportunity to connect and share a little about the day and is an easy way to begin offering hospitality. It also provides a few moments to rest and catch one's breath. As someone so aptly said,
Today I'd like to sit and sip,
Forget about the world a bit,
Ignore the things I have to do,
And just enjoy a cup or two.
Life can be so busy and pressured that we scarcely take the time to stop and greet others around us, net alone truly connecting. We need to be committed to building authentic friendships. Let's start now by sharing a cup of tea with someone. And let's encourage others to do the same.
Join our Heartistry community in our two-week TEA FOR TWO CAMPAIGN (August 16-30) as we share a cup of tea with someone! And you don't need to only do it once!
- Gather your 'tea making supplies"- two simple cups, a few tea bags, sugar and milk (if serving tea English style!) If you feel inspired you can even set a simple tray.
- Make a list of those you know who would enjoy sharing a cup of tea- and plan to be spontaneous!
- Invite a friend to have a cup of tea with you in your home or at your desk at work.
- Plan to take your cups and tea items to someone's home- "tea in a basket" can be a big blessing to an elderly or ill person. (Kim de Carvalho delivered this lovely tray to my mom when she was not well.)
- Photograph your two cups of tea (and the two of you if you are happy to be on Heartistry!)
- Post the photo on our Heartistry site or email it to Lyn@heartistry.info.
- You're welcome to share your inspiring "tea stories" with us!
- Post photos to your Instagram and Facebook and tag #heartistry.info
- Encourage your friends to serve tea and participate with us.
- Everyone who shares a cup of tea and sends a photo of their two cups will be entered in a drawing!
- Two names will be drawn on September 1.
- The winners will receive a basket filled with tea goodies!
Read the inspiring story of a woman who packed Two Tea Cups and took them with her as she traveled. She made the effort to spend quality time with people over a simple cup of tea.
Let's make a difference in the next two weeks by inviting as many people as possible to stop for just a few minutes to have a simple cup of tea with us. You never know what may happen!
American Independence Day is a great time to gather with family and friends for a celebration. July 4 is a perfect time to offer hospitality to your family, friends, neighbors and even those people you don't yet know.Read More
Father's Day is just a few days away. I have shared some simple tips to make this day memorable for the men in your life whether it is your dad, son, uncle or another man who has played a significant role.
Whenever there are "holidays" to honor certain people or relationships, there will be those around you feeling a sense of loss more acutely than on other days. Be attentive and look for ways to reach out and encourage friends who have never had a dad in their lives, lost a dad, or are not in a good relationship with their father. Your friendship and care will mean a lot to them today.
- Take a few minutes and journal (or make a quick note on your phone) of at least 10 ways in which your dad has been a blessing to you. Focus on the good and release and forgive the areas where he may have fallen short. Thankfulness begins in our hearts and then flows over to loving actions.
- Call your dad and share with him how much you love and appreciate him. The sound of your voice will be more special than a written greeting.
- If you are unable to phone your dad, email him and share your love and acknowledge the gift he has been to you.
- Write a meaningful affirmation. Check out the blogpost on 10 Tips for Writing a Meaningful Affirmation
- Help your children celebrate their dad by encouraging them to share their love and thanks.
- Print some photos of your children with their dad and attach them to paper or place in an album. Give your children the opportunity to journal their thoughts.
- Decorate a breakfast tray and deliver it to your husband in bed. Involve your children in the preparation.
- Print a special photo and frame it. (One hour print shops can solve the need for a last minute gift!)
- Set the table and serve dad's favorite food. Check out our Heartistry Pinterest Board for lots of super easy and masculine Father's Day table settings. If you can't gather around the table on Father's Day, plan it for later in the week and give him a "formal" invitation to the dinner in his honor.
- Think about the men who have impacted your life through their mentorship, friendship, wisdom, example and care for you. Write them a thank you note and share it with them.
Happy Father's Day!
P.S. This is my first Father's Day since my dad passed away. I know I will feel sad and miss him even more than I do on other days, but I am deeply grateful for the love he showed to me, my sister and our families.
How do you celebrate Father's Day? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
It would be great if you could SHARE this post with friends! Thanks.
When you hear the word hospitality, what do you think of? The hotel industry? A fancy meal requiring a lot of work? Women folding napkins? Hospitality is so much more than this. We need a new word to capture the power and potency of this impactful practice. Or we need to have an understanding that hospitality goes way beyond just a meal. True hospitality is Generous Living.Read More
Easter has always been a very important day for our family. We love the celebration of Jesus' resurrection as it is the cornerstone of our faith. When our children were young we used to have an early morning, pre-sunrise picnic outdoors (normally the weather was still freezing!) I would prepare special food items including hard boiled eggs with words written on them with white crayon. As part of the Easter picnic activities, the children would drop the eggs into red food coloring so that they could read the phrases such as, "Jesus is alive", or "He is risen!" as they appeared!
One of the key elements of the picnic was our time opening the Easter Story Eggs and re-telling the Easter story. This has been one of our family traditions through the years and now we are so happy that our grandchildren are also opening the Easter Eggs on Easter morning and hearing the story. My husband Brett has recorded where we have celebrated Easter each year by writing the date and location on the lid of the egg box. So our box is looking a bit worn, but it so precious to us as it brings back many memories.
I encourage your to make your own Easter Story Eggs and keep them as a tradition for your family.
Purchase a set of empty plastic eggs. (If you are unable to obtain these where you live, you could put the items in little boxes or envelopes.
You will need the following supplies. Most can remain in the eggs so they do not need to be replaced each year, but obviously the bread, grapes and crackers will need to be fresh.
- small pieces of fresh bread
- a few grapes
- a couple of silver coins
- a few thorns (pick from a bush or off a rose)
- a small cross (you can buy one or cut one from wood, or use two match sticks glued together. Ours has real blood from where my husband cut himself while carving it!)
- a small piece of cloth sprayed with perfume
- a round stone
- gold fish crackers (to represent fish), or something cut in the shape of a fish
- cotton balls/cotton wool or paper cut in the shape of a cloud.
Fill the plastic Easter Eggs with these items and open them on Easter morning. Take turns as each member of the family opens an egg and tells of the significance.
At the Last Supper Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my body broken for you.” Jesus was predicting his upcoming death. (We eat the bread.)
“This is my blood poured out for you.” Jesus shares the wine with his disciples foreshadowing the shedding of his blood on the cross. (We eat the grapes…less messy than drinking grape juice from the eggs!)
30 pieces of silver, the betrayal money paid to Judas the treasurer turned traitor. (Pass the coins around. What do you think Jesus was worth? Can money pay for a life?)
The soldiers pressed the thorns into Jesus’ head, a mock crown as they taunted him for being the King of Kings. They also lashed him 39 times. “By his stripes we are healed.” (Take the thorns and allow the children to gently poke their fingers so that they can imagine in a small way the pain Jesus felt.)
Jesus was nailed to the cross where He died to save the sins of the world. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (Pass the cross around.)
6. Linen (Scented)
Jesus’ friends wrapped His body in special burial cloths and laid Him in the tomb. (Let children smell the cloth.)
Early on Easter Sunday morning the women ran to the tomb. They wondered who would roll away the stone. When they arrived they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (Pass the stone around.)
8. Empty Egg
The grave cloths were still lying in the tomb but Jesus was not there. He had risen! (Pass around the empty egg. “He is Risen!” is how early believers greeted each other. Say these marvelous words to each other.)
9. Fish (cracker goldfish)
The women tried to convince the disciples that Jesus was alive, but they didn’t believe the news. They went back to fishing. Early one morning when they came back from fishing, Jesus was there and had made a fire and cooked breakfast for them on the beach. He ate and talked with them. (Let children eat the fish.)
10. Clouds (cotton balls)
Jesus appeared to over 500 people at different times after He rose. One day He gave His followers a big job, to go into the whole world and tell others about being forgiven from sin and its consequences. He promised to be with them always and then a cloud came down and He was lifted up into the heavens. (Pass around the cotton balls.)
I would love to see photos of your family opening the Easter Story Eggs. Please share your photos with us by emailing Lyn@Heartistry.info.
We are delighted that the next generation of our family is enjoying this family tradition too (although our first grandchild didn't take too much notice of the eggs on his first Easter!
Passover is such a significant time for Jewish people all over the world. The Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a ritual feast, that retells the story of the Israelites being delivered by God from slavery in ancient Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to tell their children the story and pass it down from generation to generation as recorded in Exodus 13:8. The family gathers around the table and reads the text of the Haggadah while eating symbolic food.
I have so enjoyed the times when I have been privileged to attend a Seder feast and have loved being reminded of this important story through the words being spoken, the questions asked (often by the youngest child), answers given and the food we ate.
My friend Gail Rudee shared with me how she and her husband traveled from Seattle to Los Angeles to celebrate Passover with their son Alex. Because they were visiting their son they didn’t have Gail’s fancy tableware with them so wine glasses from a wine tasting the previous day did the trick! Gail cooked her grandma’s “old country” recipes and transported them to LA. and they so enjoyed cooking the last minute dishes together. When their daughter Talia was not able to attend the seder as she was at college they “skyped” her in! I love how we can use technology to keep families connected.
Robin Cunningham has four children and shared with me that Passover is their family’s favorite holiday. They have a number of regulars who attend the meal and then they reach out to new people each year. Robin says her Christian friends are often the ones most excited to experience a Seder. They have many traditions that add to the richness (and fun) of the experience. They go around the table and ask everyone what they would take, and why, if they had to leave home in a hurry and knew they were never coming back. Robin says they have heard some fun responses through the years!
A Bay Area resident shared, "When I think of Passover, I immediately think of a long night of traditions and a time of remembrance. I think of the opportunity to be with family, talk about the hardships the Jewish people have overcome, and look to the past to inform our future." Another person added, "When I think about hospitality in the Passover tradition, I'm reminded of Elijah's chair. There's always space for God. And there's always space for another friend to come and join the seder."
I love that. There's always space for God. And space for someone else to come to the table.
Check out our Heartistry Pinterest Board for Passover table decor ideas.
It is so easy to grow spring grass and is great to use as a table decoration. You can celebrate Spring (or for those in the Southern Hemisphere, you can have your last Summer fling with a fun grassy table). This also works perfectly for an Easter table setting as you can place eggs or lambs on the grass. Read the blog for detailed directions.Read More
Last October my father passed away after two weeks in the hospital. For my 86-year old mom, my sister and I, those were the longest two weeks of our lives. We slept in our clothes, drove a distance to the hospital each day and made countless excruciatingly hard decisions as we waited to see if my dad would regain consciousness after his stroke.
Each person copes with stress and grief differently, but the ways that family and friends supported us during this very tough season helped us tremendously. I have learned a lot through being the recipient of so much kindness which I hope to implement when friends are going through similar trials. Maybe what helped us, will give some guidance as you care for others.Read More
Take a few minutes and set a simple tray. Deliver it to family or friends and see the joy it brings!
First gather your supplies. You'll need:
- a simple tray (or a cutting board)
- a cup or mug
- tea pot if you have one
- a little vase or empty bottle,
- a single bloom and some greens (I used some herbs)
- a small dessert, either bought or homemade
- a note card or piece of paper to write your affirmation.
Use a napkin to line the tray. For more inspiration read 10 Uses for Napkins other than Wiping your Mouth.
Arrange your flower and greenery in a little vase ( I used an empty spice bottle) and add it to your tray. (I don't have a garden, so I picked some herbs from the pots I have at my kitchen door.)
Put your dessert on a plate, or in a cupcake holder. I turned my inside out so that the design showed. You don't need to spend much time on the dessert as the main emphasis should be on the loving words in the card.
Take some time to write an affirmation for your loved one. Short on words? Check out 10 Tips for Writing a Meaningful Affirmation. If you have time you can paint or draw a simple heart on some card stock paper to make the note even more personalized.
If you are inspired to do more than a tray and want to prepare a dinner, check out Easy Valentine's Day Dinner which has all the details including an instructional video.
It is always a joy to hear from one of our Heartistry readers and friends. Diana Candee sent her reflections to us and shares, "I didn’t know that my efforts to be hospitable would circle back to bless me so hugely, but they have." Read how hospitality is impacting Diana's life during a very challenging season.Read More
Sometimes doing something small and loving is just what we need.
These days I dread looking at my Facebook feed. I am trying to cope with my own life and the personal and family issues at hand that can weigh me down. I hardly know how to deal with all the sorrow, tension, distress and division that fill my social media streams.
I don’t want to withdraw and close my heart to the needs all around me. What can I do to make a difference? How can I use what I have in my hand?
I practice and teach on hospitality. How could generous living and hospitality make a difference?
Many people are voicing the problems around us. I do believe that building awareness of needs is important and as we do small and loving actions, we make an even greater impact.
Some of my thoughts:
- Plan small intentional acts of love~ they're more likely to happen than if they're random!
- Everyone carries a load~ come alongside others and help carry the burden, even for a short while.
- Words have power~ say or write something kind to someone today. (Read 10 Tips to Write a Meaningful Affirmation)
- Build committed long term friendships~ pass the “string” of regular loving interactions back and forth until you build a strong cord. You may need it one day to cross a deep ravine. (Read The Fabric of Friendship)
- Don’t try and cope alone~ we all need community to strengthen us so we can each do our own part. Especially during times of difficulty. Gather don't hide.
- Think of communities as wheels. Every wheel needs a hub. Be the person that puts in the effort to bring others together. It is not always fun to be the one calling, inviting, planning, cooking, paying etc., but it is a key role.
- Don’t pass on “problems that need to be solved” in a broad and generic way. Share personal causes and invite support; pass on other relevant information in a targeted way. Give specific action steps.
- Understand the way you engage~ if a “sprinter” then focus on an immediate task requiring intense effort in the short term; if a “marathon runner” then chose a big societal challenge and plan to be involved in a steady way for years to come.
Many people are scared and confused right now. When alone, these fears are worse. Spend time with others. Invite people over and practice hospitality. Sign up to receive the Heartistry newsletters to get inspiration and instructions on how to open your heart and home.
Light always dispels darkness. Share truth. Hold onto hope. Love well. Pray often.
Read 17 Ways to Live Generously in 2017 for more inspiration.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Please pass on this blog to friends by clicking the SHARE button. (Another way to do a small and loving act!)
Valentine's Day can be special and romantic or very difficult for some people. Lyn shares step-by-step tips on how to prepare a celebratory meal for family or friends. Gather people and express your love and appreciation for them.Read More
My twin sister and I hosted a garden party for our mom's 85th birthday. My mom and her friends just loved it and we had so much fun preparing for it. I am sharing this so you can use it as a template to host a garden party yourself! We split the tasks according to what we do best. I planned, shopped and set the table and my sister baked and did the flower arrangements. (Which jobs would you prefer?!) Now to share my best tips!Read More
New Year's can be the time for making fresh resolutions and plans. Living generously with an open heart will have a personal impact as well as making positive changes around us. Here are a few suggestions that we can put into practice. Please add your ideas in the comments below.
Document our personal goal to grow in generosity and share it with someone close to us
Write a note of encouragement for a family member or co-worker
Pack/buy an extra lunch item and share it with someone
Pay for a stranger’s coffee or dry cleaning
Give an anonymous donation of any size and commit to never sharing about it
Plan to host a meal for friends at our home once a month in 2017
Buy a pack of greeting cards and commit to using them all in a month
Deny ourselves something we want for a period of time so that we can feel some of the loss others face daily
Stretch ourselves to try something new and uncomfortable that will grow our capacity to serve others
Feel the sorrow of the suffering and not rush to switch the channel or change the subject. Spend time in prayer for those in need
Reduce the time and money we spend on entertainment to give margin to care for someone else
Give away something new and attractive not just the old and worn out
Exercise our “generosity muscle” by intentionally giving beyond what we would normally give
Document how we would want to be treated and helped if we were in someone else's position. Take one action step towards making that a reality
Support someone who is able to do more than we can do because they are in the right geographical proximity or have the required skills
Read about people who are radically generous as this will inspire us to step out and do the same
Start small rather than waiting until we can work out the big plan we have in mind