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
Hospitality is such a powerful practice. It impacts us, the lives of our families and those around us. Yet very few people practice hospitality.
Why is that? I have observed these in myself at times, as well as in others. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please add to my list in the comments section below.
- I am too busy
- My cooking skills are not good enough
- I don’t like to cook
- My home is not suitable for guests
- I don’t have margin in my budget
- I have never done it before so am nervous
- My privacy is very important to me
- My family doesn’t want to host people
- There is hidden dysfunction in our family
- I don’t have a vision for the impact hospitality can have
Why am I just stating the problem?
I have endeavored to offer as many resources as I can to increase people's vision and equip them with the skills necessary on the rest of the Heartistry.info site. So please spend some time checking out the rest of the blog. It may well inspire you to reach out more to others around you!
I grew up near the sea and now after 30 years have returned to South Africa for a season and am once more going to sleep at night to the sound of waves. A nautical theme is one that I plan to use often as I set a table with the beach in the background. I have collected some nautical napkins to be prepared!
Recently I visited my parents at their lake cottage in Connecticut, USA. I quietly unpacked my nautical napkins and scarf from my carry-on luggage and set a surprise tray for them (crazy to carry items like this I know, but it was fun!)
Later I picked some wild flowers from the garden and added an old navigation lamp that my dad had used on one of his sailing boats for a simple lunch table. I treasure every moment that I can spend with my parents and am so thankful that I can visit them on a regular basis even though I live far away from them. I took this photo of us holding hands as my mom said grace before our meal and prayed for the family spread around the world.
P.S. The exquisite wooden sculling canoe was built by my dad. Isn't it so beautiful?
I love using a theme to set a table. It makes it so much quicker and simpler. Read my blog on How to Use a Theme to Set a Table and 10 Tips on Choosing a Theme for Setting a Table for more helpful tips.
One of our Heartistry readers and a dear friend, Diana Candee, sent me a couple of photos. A friend of Diana's was visiting her from out of town and they were planning to have a tea together with local friends. As they shopped for items for the table, they spontaneously decided to match what the guest of honor was wearing and went for a blue and white theme. And they ended up with a pretty nautical table setting! Just in time for me to add them to my blog! Thanks Diana!
I would love to see photos of your table settings, so please share them with me!
If you haven't signed up to receive my newsletters, please do so and then you won't miss any future blogposts. And please SHARE our Heartistry site with your friends. You can click the SHARE button below to forward this blog with others. Easy sailing!
Many people are so busy nowadays and are struggling to keep up with their crazy schedule that family meal times are rushed and infrequent, if they happen at all. There is so much value to the family meal time that it needs to be made a priority. Here are 10 reasons why.
1. Connection-Children are part of a family and gathering at meal times reinforces this and has a deep impact on children’s sense of belonging. It is also very beneficial to gather with grandparents (or older relatives) so that the connection between the generations is understood.
2. Confidence-Research has shown that children who eat family meals on a regular basis each week are more confident, achieve better academically and are less likely to participate in destructive behaviors as teenagers.
3. Civility-It is important to have good manners and the dinner table is an essential place to teach children to keep their elbows off the table, eat with their mouths closed, etc. (You remember those table prompts I am sure!)
4. Conversation-Sharing our day’s news and learning to ask other family members good questions is the basis of effective conversation and can be practiced at the table. Of course, no cell phones should be allowed at the dinner table including those of the parents!
5. Current affairs-Parents should take time to discuss some of what is happening in the world with their children. Make sure to only share age-appropriate material and don’t add burdens to your children when they are too young to process them.
6. Culinary skills-Children should be encouraged to try different types of food, even if it is just a mouthful so they will be better prepared for the future and not be picky eaters. Childhood obesity is avoided when families eat healthy food together at the table.
7. Creativity-Children can help set the table, and be encouraged to add their own creative touch.
8. Conflict resolution-Different members of the family will have varying ideas on many topics and can learn to discuss these issues courteously at the table.
9. Cross-cultural understanding-I strongly encourage families to invite people from different countries to join them for meals. This provides an opportunity to expand children’s understanding of the world and teach them geography in the best possible way.
10. Compassion- Jesus teaches us to not only invite those who can invite us back but to welcome the poor and needy to our table. This is probably the most challenging part of true hospitality. Each family needs to think this through for themselves, but inviting a foreign student, elderly person or tired, single mom and her children to join the family meal will teach children to show compassion to others.
- How did family meal times impact you growing up?
- What practical tips do you have to share that would help others to plan and commit to family meal times?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section. If this was helpful, please SHARE this blog with friends. Sign up to receive our newsletters to that you will be informed when there is a new blogpost or activity in your area. Thanks so much.