Mother's Day can be a joyful day for some women and for others a time when personal loss is felt more acutely. I encourage you to take time on Mother's Day to honor and celebrate some of the special women in your life.Read More
In February much of the media focus is around love. Love is important, but I think it would be good for us to focus on kindness this month (and every month after that!) Let’s plan for intentional acts of kindness.
Kind people are easy to be with
They think of others and not only themselves
They look for ways to add a little joy into the lives of friends and even strangers
Kindness is like the sun coming out from behind a cloud on a cold day. It gives us a little courage to keep going.
How can we show kindness to others so that we brighten their day? I would love to hear your thoughts (please share in the comments section below.)
Here are some ideas:
Document our personal goal to grow in kindness and share it with someone close to us.
Pack/buy an extra lunch item and share it with someone.
Pay for a stranger’s coffee or dry cleaning.
Give away something new and attractive not just the old and worn out.
Give an anonymous donation of any size to a worthy organization and commit to never sharing about it.
Buy a pack of greeting cards and plan to use them all in a month.
Write a meaningful affirmation. Not sure where to begin? Check out 10 Tips for Writing a Meaning Affirmation.
Plan to host a meal for friends once a month in 2019. Why not start with an Easy Valentines day Dinner?
Focus on our friendships. Friendship adds so much richness to our lives, so let’s plan on doing something special for a close friend. Maybe we need to take the time to reach out to friends with whom we have lost contact. The Fabric of Friendship can be laced with precious golden threads if we put in the time and effort.
Stretch ourselves to try something new and uncomfortable that will grow our capacity to serve others.
Let’s commit to growing in kindness in the Month of Love!
I think I’ve begun to learn over the past several years that when I am the guest, when I put my feet under someone else’s table, ceding power to them, and graciously and gratefully receiving what they serve to me - this is also a huge part of hospitality;Read More
Do you want to grow in sharing your heart and home with others? Need inspiration and instruction? Last week I shared my TOP TEN TIPS "live" on my Heartistry-Art of Welcome Facebook page. I have posted these ten 10 minute long sessions here, so that you can also watch these mini-sessions. Obviously it is hard to condense all the teachings into such short videos, but I am sure you will learn something!
Tip One- Learn by Doing
I encourage us to begin the journey. We activate the heart by action! In this video I set the stage for what we will be learning in the next ten sessions. I encourage you to sign up for our Heartistry Newsletters so that you can get more information from me from time to time.
Tip Two- Start Small
I share a true story that has motivated and touched me deeply as I have learned how to live more generously. Hospitality has a big impact on our families and the lives of other people too. It doesn't take much to be able to help someone know that they are loved and have value.
Tip Three- Bless not Impress™
What is the heart of true hospitality? I share one of our Heartistry mottos which is, "Bless not Impress™. In this video I speak about the difference between ENTERTAINING and HOSPITALITY and how we can overcome the obstacles to offering heartfelt hospitality.
Tip Four- Set a Tray Today
Set a Tray Today! I share a personal story of how I set a tray and the impact that it has on my friend. I demonstrate how to set a tray to show how quickly it can be done! I encourage everyone to set a tray and to send a photo to us, so that we can all the inspired. Why don't you do the same? Send it to Lyn@Heartistry.info.
Tip 5- The More before, the less the Stress™
In Tip Five, I share about preparing our hearts and our homes for hospitality as we learn the motto, The More before, the Less the Stress™. We discuss what prevents us from offering hospitality and what the real purpose of hospitality is. I show some of my special hospitality items.
Tip Six-Set the Table First
I love this tip. Set the Table First! There is great power in the Prepared Place. Inviting people into your home when the table is set will help them feel truly welcomed. I shared my tips and also about my new e-booklet that is coming soon! Exciting! It will be free for those who sign up for our Heartistry newsletters!
Tip Seven- Take Short-cuts
If we are going to continue to offer hospitality without getting burned out, we need to make it as easy as possible. I share some of my best tips for saving time as we prepare the table and the meal. I set a Valentine's Day tray to show how quickly one can make something pretty to share with a friend. I encourage everyone to sign up for our newsletters so that they can receive my 10 Simple Tips for Setting the Table e-booklet! It will be free for those who sign up for our Heartistry newsletters!
Tip Eight-Ask for help
In Tip Eight I encourage everyone to ask for help when offering hospitality. It can be easier at times to do everything ourselves, but if we want to be able to continue offering hospitality, we need to not try and do it all. We also train others (especially our children) but encouraging them to work alongside us.
Tip Nine- Be a Hub person
Offering hospitality can be sacrificial. It costs, money, time, effort and more. And yet the rewards are great. I encourage us to be the ones who reach out to others. "Hub" people gather and convene friends, family or even communities of people. I also share my favorite hospitality item, a cake stand! (More accurately, I share a number of cake stands with you!)
Tip Ten-Just Start- Open your Heart
In our final mini-session, I review what we have learned and encourage us all to start offering hospitality. I share from my passion and remind us all of the power and purpose of true hospitality. I would love to hear from you if you have finished watching all ten videos, so please email me at Lyn@Heartistry.info and share what you learned. I would also love you the comment here on the blog. Thanks so much!
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
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.
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!
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
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!)
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!
Last night we had our first staying guest at our new rental in Cape Town. Our friend Sylvia has been part of our Repurposing Business (rep) programs in Cape Town and also attended my first Heartistry Experience in South Africa, so Brett and I both know her well. It was a joy to have her in our home.
Check out our Heartistry blog Simple Tips to Make Staying Guests Feel Welcome for some practical ideas. I am in a furnished condo, so am making use of what I can find to make my guest feel as comfortable as possible.
Setting a small tray next to the bed and adding a note of welcome is so easy to do and helps the guest know that thought was put into preparing a place for them.
Sylvia is the owner of Special Events and Trouvrou and she is highly sought after to set elaborate tables for very fancy events. I know I can't compete with what she does, but I still wanted to make my table look attractive as I know she loves pretty things. Since the view from our windows is of the ocean, I chose a beach scene. These lovely serviettes (that is what they are called in South Africa) actually say Cape of Good Hope on them and have a map of Africa, so they are just perfect. I added a mini tea-light candle and a beautiful shell at each place setting. A simple napkin/serviette can be used so effectively when offering hospitality. Check out 10 Uses for Napkins other than Wiping your Mouth!
Sylvia arrived with a gift for me that proved she really knows me and loves me! I am SO excited by the beautiful cake stand in my color and the serviettes that came in an exquisite bag! The bag even matched the guest room!
A cake stand is one of the most useful items when one wants to make an ordinary meal or event more of a celebration. I gathered some of my best ideas to share in the blog, How to Decorate with a Cake Stand.
This morning we enjoyed a typical South African breakfast and then said goodbye to our guest. Spending time together is such a precious gift and I am so thankful that I am able to have guests in my home. After a quick clean-up, I went for a morning walk on the beach and expressed my gratitude for all my blessings.
The goal of Heartistry is to encourage generous living and true hospitality. Please share the blog with friends and sign up to receive our newsletters so that you receive notifications of new blogposts. Thanks so much!
After 30 years of living in California, my husband and I moved back to Cape Town for a more extended visit than our usual two to three week stays. Packing up our apartment, saying our goodbyes and traveling half way across the globe was both physically and emotionally tiring.
What a difference it made to receive such a warm welcome when we arrived in Cape Town!
If you have guests coming to stay at your home, check out our blog, 10 Simple Ways to Make Staying Guests Feel at Home.
When you are welcoming someone who is making a big move such as coming to study in your town, or relocating from another country, there are simple ways in which you can help make this large transition easier for your friend (or a stranger that you wish to help).
Here are some of my thoughts. Please add yours in the comments below. I would love to hear how you have received welcome from others or what you have done to make others feel at home when they have been visiting you.
Anticipate their arrival and ask if there is anything you can do in advance of their arrival such as arranging a crib/cot for a baby.
If they are initially staying at your home, place a small card and welcome gift on their bed. Even a chocolate on the pillow will say, "You were expected" and preparation was made for your arrival.
If possible, meet people at the airport even if they are renting a car. It is very comforting to see familiar faces in the crowd when you arrive at a new place. This is especially helpful when coming to a new country for the first time.
Stock some basic groceries in their fridge if you have the ability to get into their home, or bring some in a cooler to give to them. Heading to the grocery store after a long journey is not that easy and can be very confusing if you are a foreigner. I remember having a splitting headache after my first grocery shopping trip in the USA. How could there be so many different types of peanut butter?!
Draw a small amount of cash and give it to them in an envelope if they are coming from another country. This can help if they need to get a quick cup of coffee or pay for parking.
Bring a cooked meal that they can warm quickly. Only stay and eat with them if they press you to do so. They may need some peace and quiet and an early night. (My friend Kerry brought a home cooked chicken pie and salad for supper when we arrived in Cape Town. It was delicious and later other friends stopped by with meals for us.
Share some basic information on the immediate neighborhood with advice on good places to shop and eat.
Flowers brighten a room and make a house feel like home. Add a card or note with a personal and affirming message to make the gift even more meaningful.
Check in with them a few days after they have arrived to say if they need anything else. It can take a few days for people to catch their breath and then start to feel a little homesick or disoriented.
A little something extra:
My husband rented a condo in Cape Town for us to stay in for 6 months, sight unseen. He found it on the internet and after a friend checked it out, we made a plan to rent it. I didn't even know what was going to be in the cupboards etc. When we arrived in Cape Town, it was quite an adventure to walk in to the condo in person!
The first thing that struck us was the amazing view from our window!
And then I noticed that the only chintz plate (a type of china that I collect) on the wall matched the only piece of chintz I own that is in South Africa- a teapot I bought at an antique store! The painting on the wall done by the landlady matched a table cloth that I painted to use while in South Africa and the beaded flowers matched two that I own! The cushions matched my little protea themed bowls. It makes me think that this is exactly the place that we are meant to be living in during this season! What do you think? (Check out the photos!)
Many people around the world are traveling and moving to new places. Some are making these journeys by choice and others are being forced to move due to dire circumstances. As we all learn to practice generous living and true hospitality (the goal of Heartistry is to encourage this!), let us look out for opportunities to provide a warm welcome to those that need it most.
And you never know when you will be a recipient, just the way that I currently am!
Please sign up to receive our newsletters so that you will be kept in the loop and receive notifications when I post a new blog. Thanks.
You can SHARE this post by clicking the Share button below. I would love to hear how you have either experienced welcome yourself or been able to welcome others in the COMMENTS below.
The world needs people who will step out in radical generosity. This is not easy and challenges us to the core of who we are.
What prevents us from reaching out?
- Are our lives too busy for authentic, relational involvement and loving care?
- Does the sorrow of the broken world in which we live loom so large that it paralyses us, preventing us from even doing something small?
- Are we trying to protect our families and ourselves and thus have no time, energy or compassion for those outside the walls?
Many of us do want to help but may not know how. In this re-post from last year, I address the sensitive issue of our penchant towards being self-focused. I also have suggestions in the blog on ways in which we can offer hospitality as a positive and practical way to help such as Why Set a Table When the World is Hurting
Here are 10 ways in which we can tame or at least tie up the self-centered parts of ourselves as we seek to grow in generosity!
- Deny ourselves something we want for a day or week or even for a month 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 items we own
- 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
Please sign up to receive notifications of future blogposts. We will be providing encouraging and inspiring information to help us grow in generosity and hospitality.
I have had the privilege of being a guest in homes all over the world and have experienced such wonderful, warm hospitality. I have also hosted countless staying guests. There is a vast difference between good and bad guests! It is such a joy to host a "good guest" and then to invite them to return again soon. As I travel and stay with others, I want to do my very best to be a blessing to my hosts.
Here are some of my top tips to ensure that we are invited back!
1. Make clear arrangements before going.
2. Research the culture so you can be better prepared to be a good guest.
3. Learn a few words in their language such as please and thank-you.
4. Take an appropriate gift.
5. Be genuinely complimentary of the host’s town and particularly their home.
6. Take an interest in the children, learn their names and spend time with them.
7. Be sensitive to the family’s schedule such as bed times when quiet is needed.
8. Eat whatever is put in front of you! There is nothing worse than a picky guest.
9. Offer to help with household chores such as washing the dishes.
10. Purchase some groceries or treats to contribute to the family meals.
11. Spend time listening supportively to the family as hosts often unburden themselves to a guest.
12. Strip your bed, clean the bathroom, empty the trash and tidy up before you leave.
13. Write a thank you note and leave it on the bed and then thank them again when back home.
14. Leave a positive spiritual deposit by speaking words of affirmation or praying for hosts.
15. Keep in touch and you will build up friendships all over the world that will last over time.
It has been such a joy through the years to be invited to the table by family, friends and those we did not know. I grew up in a home where hospitality was offered on a regular basis. My mom could bake her famous Hot Milk Sponge in half an hour and never needed more warning than that to invite friends over for tea. My mom always encouraged my twin sister and I to invite our friends to our home and made them very welcome. At times she helped us plan fun parties and special events that we hosted. I love this photo as it is the only one I have with both my grannies, my mom, my daughter, an aunt and cousin all together. It was taken in our home in Cape Town and I think this was my granny's birthday celebration.
My parents still host me regularly and love to have me at their table (or relaxing on the couch with our food on our laps!) Brett's mom, affectionately known as Ma, loves to welcome us to her home in South Africa and it is such a joy for us to spend time with her and the rest of our South African family. Brett's sister Sally hosted us and served very traditional food made with water lilies called Waterblommetjiebredie (see if you can pronounce that!) The table is set with the national flower of South Africa, the Protea.
On another occasion we were able to take some people who were traveling with us to see the ministry that Sally and Brett's mom help run. We stood in the kitchen and heard about the amazing work they do in feeding thousands of poor children. (Check out Life Community Services.) We were honoured to eat at the centre that is used to serve so many needy young people. You can see Ma with her apron on, explaining how this simply stocked kitchen serves so many meals each week. Inspiring!
Building lasting family relationships takes time, commitment and financial resources. Brett's mom visited his other sister in Maryland, USA and we realised that this would be a good time for our whole family to connect and also for Ma to meet her newest great-grandchild. So we all traveled to the East Coast and spent the July 4 weekend together. You can see the joy on Brett's mom's face to have part of her family that she doesn't see very often around the table!
A year ago Rebecca, who is like a daughter to us, was married in Tuscany. A group of 18 of us stayed with the bride and groom in a big, old villa near Florence. The week was filled with rich fellowship, fun tourist activities and preparations for the wedding. The night before the wedding, friends and family from different countries around the world gathered around the large dinner table, held hands and prayed blessing over Rig and Rebecca.
The following day this same table was set with exquisite Italian dinnerware and flowers to create one of the most stunning table settings I have ever seen. The 34 guests who attended this intimate wedding, were treated to a gourmet Tuscan dinner served family style. (On a later blog I will share more photos as Rebecca and Rig's beautiful wedding photos were featured in Italian Vogue Bridal Magazine!)
After the wedding we enjoyed a Tuscan picnic in the garden of a local artist, before everyone headed home again. We had left-overs from the abundant provision of food at the wedding and this pretty table was filled with tasty treats and the wedding flowers. We were thankful that we had the time to relax together in the warmth of the Italian countryside and spend our last day together. The guests in this photo live in India, Ireland, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan and the USA! Isn't that amazing?
Through the years Brett and I have been hosted by people all over the world and have received such warm hospitality. Last year we took a group of people who volunteered their time with our non-profit rēp to South Africa. We stayed at T'Niqua Stable Inn in Plettenberg Bay. The owners Michiel and Bettina Meyer have beautiful Percheron horses and took us down to the coast for a picnic in a carriage! It is not every day that one can picnic out in the veld overlooking the Indian Ocean and even have a table on which to arrange all the food. It was transported down there on a horse cart! Such fun!
A few years ago we went to Egypt right before Arab Spring. We were so deeply touched by the hospitality we received from the local Egyptians we met. This delightful woman, Nirvana invited us to her home in Cairo right after meeting us and prepared a special meal for us. She cooked fish that her dad had brought from the Red Sea and even though her baby was due in just a few weeks, she opened up her home and heart to us. We felt such an affinity with the people we met in Egypt that we returned to visit again. Hospitality bridges people from different cultures and opens doors for on-going connection and community building.
A table can be so much more than a table. It can be an oasis, a fortress, a bridge, a door, a key, a gift, and the start of new ways to be generous. I encourage you to make the time to "Set the Table" today.
When have you been impacted by an invitation to the table?
Please share a memory of a special dinner you have attended in the comments below.
While visiting the Kalaupapa leper colony on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai, I was deeply impacted by what I saw in the small, historic chapel on the cliffs of the infamous bay where lepers used to be thrown overboard.
There were holes in the floor.
Grotesquely disfigured lepers hid in the lush Hawaiian foliage, intently watching as Father Damien, a 33-year-old Catholic priest, arrived on the remote island of Molokai. It was 1873 and there was not yet a cure for the dreaded and highly infectious disease that was present in the islands of Hawaii. Heeding the call to come and serve, and eventually die with the lepers of Molokai, Father Damian left his native Belgium and arrived on the tropical shores.
On his first Sunday, Father Damien prepared for the service and with eager anticipation waited for the congregants to arrive, but only a few sat on the wooden pews. Mystified, Father Damien asked why more people were not there and was told that many of the residents of the leper colony had been embarrassed to attend. Due to losing feeling in parts of their bodies, they were unable to prevent themselves from drooling and did not want to expose themselves to ridicule or worse yet, anger from the newly arrived priest.
The following week Father Damien was seen to be hard at work in the small chapel and he encouraged everyone to attend mass that Sunday. When they arrived they noticed a curious sight. Large, tropical leaves had been picked and twisted into funnel shapes and were standing upright with their bases pressed through holes in the floor. Spittoons made of leaves. Up and down the rows in front of where the parishioners would be sitting, Father Damien had chiseled holes through the beautiful wooden floor of the chapel to make drains for his makeshift spittoons.
The comfort of the people was to Father Damien way more important than the beauty of the building. He disfigured the floor so that castaway people would experience welcome.
As I saw the holes in the floor and heard the history, I was profoundly moved and challenged by Father Damien's bold and creative act. This captures the heart of true hospitality.
- As I host people, are they more important than the mud prints they may leave on the carpet or the crumbs on the couch?
- Would I be willing to lay aside my pride, comfort or embarrassment to invite people home, even if my house is far from perfect?
What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments section below.
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