Fellowship Finds via Kitchen Fellowship
I’ve heard from a few of you that you’ve been enjoying the Fellowship Finds posts. It’s a great way to introduce you to other heartfelt folks online, connect you to encouraging resources and tasty recipes, and raise awareness for pertinent happenings in our communities and around the world. Here’s what’s stirring my heart [and making me hungry] this week:

[1]

Ree, oh Ree. This Butternut Mac & Cheese is just what my fall-loving heart needs.

[2]

Debbie writes beautifully about the ways sharing leads to community. “Yes, sometimes sharing means that it is a little inconvenient. Maybe it’d be easier to just buy everything we need, even if it’s only for that one time. But what I think trumps the inconvenience is the fact that it brings us into community more. We are forced to interact with one another and live in community. It usually prompts discussions and check-ins and we find out more about the other person than we otherwise would’ve. We get a chance to step outside of ourselves.” Boom. Grateful for that fresh insight!

[3]

Brooke is all about helping you more happily inhabit your body — I need that, since most days are spent sitting at my desk, designing. From the moment I first stumbled on the Liberated Body Podcast I’ve adored these interviews. I’ve been taking daily walks and voraciously listening to this podcast.

[4]

Nancy shares in this TED Talk: “When a young woman texted us with a heartbreaking cry for help, our organization responded by opening a nationwide Crisis Text Line to provide an outlet for people in pain.” I love hearing stories of people who reject apathy, take action, and make a difference in our world.

[5]

Chungah, your Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup recipe shall feed me all-winter-long.

[6]

I clung to every word Laura wrote in her article for the New York Times: “Small Towns Face Rising Suicide Rates”. From isolation, to lack of metal health resources, to lack of psychologists and privacy, to more guns in rural areas [than in cities], to a self-sufficient attitude that keeps folks from opening up, it all adds up. “Rural adolescents commit suicide at roughly twice the rate of their urban peers. The problem reaches across demographic boundaries, encompassing such groups as older men, Native Americans and veterans. The sons and daughters of small towns are more likely to serve in the military, and nearly half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans live in rural communities”. My heart is tender towards the issue of suicide and I just want to open my arms and table to each and every neighbor in my small town. You too?

[7]

“When a church functions more like a recovery group than a religious organization, when it commits to practicing ‘honesty for the sake of restoration’, all sorts of unexpected people show up.” Yes to that. I’m only halfway through Searching for Sunday, but have gratefully pondered the words Rachel has penned.

What were your favorite reads, recipes, podcasts this week?

I’d love to know; share in the comments below.

2 comments

gluten free mac and cheese recipe, homemade mac and cheese recipe

Homemade Gluten Free Mac & Cheese Recipe

This recipe is quite versatile and depending on the type of cheese and liquid you use — it can easily become alfredo sauce!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups milk (I generally use 2%. If you want richer sauce use whole milk or cream.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons milk or warm water
1/2 box gluten free pasta (I like Barilla brand)
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350* F if you’d like to bake your mac and cheese (it’s not necessary but it’s pretty tasty this way). If you’re using a block of cheese, shred the cheese finely before you begin cooking the pasta or making the sauce. Boil water over medium heat in a large pan on the stove. Add gluten free pasta and cook via package directions.

While the pasta cooks place a large sauce pan, filled with the milk (or cream) and butter over medium heat. Stir with a whisk to ensure the milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. When the milk is simmering and butter has melted, slowly sprinkle in the cheese one small pinch at a time. Whisk to incorporate and melt. Do this until all the cheese is added. Depending on what kind of cheese you use it may look gloppy and chunky. Do not worry!! Reduce the heat just a bit.

In a small dish mix together cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons of milk (or warm water). Incorporate it well, ensuring that there are no lumps. Turn the heat back up to medium on the sauce and slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture, whisking the entire time. The cheese will start to melt more and the sauce will thicken. If it doesn’t appear thick enough, mix a little more milk and cornstarch together and incorporate into the sauce. If it appears too thick (ignore the chunkiness at this point!!) add a spoonful or two more of milk. Taste the sauce and then add salt and pepper to taste.

If your sauce went chunky, never fear! Sometimes this happens to me, sometimes it doesn’t. Perhaps different cheeses melt differently? Let the sauce cool for about 5 minutes and then pour it into a glass blender. Blend until smooth. If you have a plastic blender you should wait until the sauce is fairly cool to blend it.

Drain your pasta as soon as it’s done cooking. Pour sauce over pasta. If you’d like to bake your mac and cheese pour it into a greased casserole dish and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Cover pan with a lid or foil and bake for 25 minus. Uncover and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until it’s slightly crispy on top. If you don’t want to bake it, transfer it to serving bowls, stir in a little sprinkle of cheese and serve while hot!

NOTES + VARIATIONS

Ensure your other ingredients are gluten free.

If you’re baking the mac and cheese you’ll want to undercook the pasta so it still has a slight bit of firmness to it. The pasta will soak up some of the sauce while in the oven, which softens it a bit more.

You can use regular pasta if you’re not gluten free.

If you’d like to make an alfredo type sauce use parmesan or an italian blend of cheeses, then add a little garlic and parsley to the mix. It’s great with chicken mixed in.

1 comment

Waiting Well in a Season of Loneliness

When your Heart’s Hoping for Community

Have you ever longed for friendship and meaningful community but it simply isn’t materializing?

You see others having worthwhile gatherings, talking about “their people”, toting the joys of authentic connections. Unknowingly boasting about their life-giving relationships, their supper clubs and book clubs and mom groups. It’s peppered throughout the blogs and books we read, rolls by us as we see happy friends chattering at the farmer’s market and people connecting in the grocery store. And doesn’t that make you feel even more isolated and lonely?

You’re not alone.

Oh, it may feel like that. It may be like that. But friendship is coming.
There are people out there, lacking community, longing to know YOU.

But how do we wait well in a season of loneliness?

Community and friendships seem to ebb and flow in seasons. Coming to this realization yourself might bring peace. It might give you patience for the leaner times and encouragement to keep your heart open for budding friendships. Here are 7 ways to wait well in a community-less season.

Retreat.

Embrace your alone time. It may seem counterintuitive, but breathing in space and solitude can feel like a retreat for your soul if you choose to frame it that way. Spend lonelier times on personal development, mastering that bacon carbonara recipe, restoring parts of your heart that are banged up and bruised. Pick one activity, one that brings you the most joy, and do it solo this week. Relish in it.

Nourish.

Keep nourishing your mind, body, and soul. Eat well. Just because there aren’t a throng of people around your table at the moment doesn’t mean you have to have pop-tarts for dinner. Make that delicious baked french toast recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Keep talking walks or bike rides; enjoy your favorite form of recreation even if you have to go it alone. Continue on the path of spiritual development, engage in activities that restore your soul and renew your mind.

Engage.

Look for opportunities to engage in all areas of your life! Fostering that awareness opens your eyes and heart towards potential new friends. Where you work, play, mail packages, sip your coffee, walk your dog — might just be where you form your next life giving relationship. Instead of sitting home wishing you had faithful friends — go out and be present where others are.

Share.

What are you good at? What passions and gifts do you have? Who might need fellowship and restoration through your friendship? Think about ways you can invest in your community. What might you coach, teach, lead, participate in? Tapping into your gifts and sharing them with others opens the door to friendships. Friendships you might never make if you stay home and withhold your gifts and aspirations. Bonding over common interest tends to accelerate the formation of friendships too!

Invite.

Extend those invitations repeatedly! Often times you know people but don’t feel connected to them just yet. You’ve asked them over for coffee but they politely decline. You’ve invited them to a concert but they can’t make it. Your next attempt involves extending an invitation to an afternoon BBQ, yet they still can’t attend. What the what?! Sometimes it takes several tries to find common interests with others. Continue to suggest a variety of activities (different times/days) to those you’d like to get to know. Look for opportunities to meet others where they are.

Get Social.

Although not a permanent solution for fellowship in your life, investing in friendships and communities online can help meaningful connections flourish. A few years back I met 4 lovely ladies in a business group online and we formed our own little community. We meet every other week via G+ to virtually talk life and business. We’ve never met in person but I have a feeling we’ll be life-long friends.

Pray.

Telling God what you desire is beautiful. Praying specifically for meaningful community moves the mountains of isolation. Many times in relation to community I’ve prayed, “Establish what you desire in my life, God.” And he has — and continues to usher new friends into my life. This summer my elderly neighbor sold her home. When we heard she was going to sell, I started praying for good, good neighbors. It’s hard to believe who finally moved in. A young, super nice couple with a little son. I invited her over for pumpkin muffins and coffee earlier in the month. She invited me over for ice cream last night. It’s no coincidence, it’s an answer to a prayer I spoke repeatedly for several months.

Where are you at?

Where are you at in terms of longing for community? From the list above, what way might you try this week to wait well in this season of loneliness? Let me know in the comments below – I love to hear your heart and see you connect with others there.

4 comments

One powerful way to usher friendship into your life | Kitchen Fellowship

“Change in the world comes when we acknowledge what moves us and why.” – Emily Freeman

I love that. Because it’s relatable to friendships and how they are born when we tune into what lights us up and what breaks our heart.

If you’re looking for a change, for more authentic friendships in your life, this post is for you.

What’s a powerful way to usher friendships into your life?

Using your gifts.*

That means “paying attention to what touches your soul so deeply that tears come out”, as Emily likes to say.

Your gifts, in use, are an incredible avenue for others to experience connection and friendship. And when your gifts are lavished on someone else, in the areas where your heart breaks, in the situations and circumstances that move you — fellowship is born. And dare I even say, our world can change?

So, what moves you?

Is it nature?
Art?
Writing?
Music?
Laughter?
Fitness?
Bacon?
Sports?
Home Decor?
Gardening?
Reading?
Travel?
Photography?
Technology?
Animals?

What brings tears to your eyes?

Is it orphans longing for home and family?
Veteran’s suffering from PTSD?
Struggling marriages?
Mental health?
The environment?
Clean water for impoverished villages?
Funding cuts to art and music education in schools?
Teens living in poverty?
Widowed neighbors?
Those struggling with loss and grief?
Cancer?

What riles you up? What infuriates you? What warms your heart? What fascinates you — in movies, books, life experiences, stories?

Make time to explore, pay attention, and write down what moves you. Make your list over breakfast or as you unload the last dish from the dishwasher.

Here’s How I Fostered Friendship by Paying Attention to What Moves Me + Using My Gifts

These things light me up: cooking, creativity, connection, nature, sharing meals with others.
And these break my heart: suicide, loneliness, brokenness, strained relationships.

Fostering friendship is all about looking for opportunities (and creating them) to combine your gifts, passions, and stirrings of your heart.

As I look back on the movies and experiences that awaken my soul there’s a thread beautifully woven throughout. Take the movie Dan in Real Life for instance. Several generations of family gather at a beautiful cabin on a lake. There’s awkwardness, fights, love, laughter, and many conversations over meals. The movie Lars and the Real Girl hits me in that same place. A community surrounds a lonely man struggling with mental health issues with love, care, and support. And in The Homesman? It’s a dreadfully sad and brutal movie but one scene in particular undid me. The main character, Cutty, is charged with brining several mentally ill pioneer women into a town, away from the wild prairie, to be cared for. One woman carries a doll and pretends to feed her. Instead of treating ‘doll woman’ poorly and telling her she’s crazy, Cutty pulls a thimble from her pocket, fills it with water and offers it to this woman’s doll. That’s compassion. That’s hospitality. That’s meeting this woman where she was. These movies make me bawl my eyes out.

In the book, The Secret Life of Bees, there’s much of the same — mothering, food, help, community.

Onto real life? I’m shaped by the hours I spent in the kitchen with my parents and grandparents. My time as a camp counselor, teaching art to kids, sharing meals and daily life out in nature with them — that moved me. Living in the dorms on campus and caring for 50 residents as a resident advisor — that moved me. It was hall dinners and games, late night conversations, life transformations and growth, friendship and community on steroids.

Bringing it all together!

Pulling from those experiences helped me meet new friends in my community. Through art, hikes, gifts of food, and shared meals – I’m building friendships.

New connections form through Art & Eats retreats that I plan with my friend Kristi, the meetings I attend and events I plan on the Arts Place board, the community Bible study I visit (with a basket full of muffins).

You get the idea. Notice what moves you, notice what brings tears. Begin pressing into those areas that stir you and fascinate you. Because when you use your gifts to serve others — you’ll be making new connections that turn into fast friendships and blessing our globe for the better.

Next Steps!

If you already know — share in the comments below some of the things that move you and break your heart. And if things are still a little fuzzy for you — let’s talk. Email me at alysa@kitchenfellowship.com and we’ll sort through it together.

Image CC
*Prayer works wonders for fostering friendships too!

2 comments

Treasures from Life & Online | Kitchen Fellowship

I’ve found many treasures for you online this week. Let me introduce you to them!

[1]

Allison’s words on the mind/body connection are revealing and healing. “First, I know I’m not the only one who is feeling trapped by some kind of physical ailment—migraines or endometriosis or Cancer or food allergies. Physical illness, along with it’s obvious physical symptoms, comes with many emotional ones as well.” Her words also have me thinking about showing compassion when we lovingly include people with food allergies in our gatherings.

[2]

Erin and Hannah co-host this darling, thought provoking podcast. “Fine ladies, rational minds, and the best kind of company gather to discuss pertinent ideas and issues.” (Erin’s also writing a book for IVP called ‘Comfort Detox’. Even in draft form, I cannot put it down).

[3]

For those of you who have a ginormous tomato problem at the moment (you green-tumbed magicians!), this recipe from Minimalist Baker will help.

[4]

Counselor and Social Worker, Carolyn, from Pine Rest writes: “Art used in therapy can be helpful for adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, chronic pain, compassion fatigue, depression, grief, identity crisis, illness, loss, PTSD, parenting, racing thoughts, spiritual angst, stress and trauma.” Yes to this! I’m all for creativity and restoration melding. Time to break out the crayons and draw a picture of an emotion you’re currently feeling.

[5]

Amiee shows us how to set up an outdoor buffet in a canoe. What more does a boat enthusiast need?

[6]

Listened to this song by Housefires II a few times yesterday. When I woke up at 3am with a headache and headed downstairs for tylenol, this song was looping in my head as I marveled at the multitude of starts through the window in the dead of night. “You’re a good, good father and I’m loved by you.”

[7]

I’m working my way through Amber’s new book Wild in the Hollow. It’s heart-wrecking beautiful and refreshing. This post from her sister, Morgan, speaks volumes: “What would happen if we talked out loud about our own anxieties and the injustices in this world that burden us deeply, and then take action together as restorers who seek to mend earth’s brokenness?”

What were your favorite reads from the interwebs this week?

Share in the comments below.

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if you feel friendless

“I feel like I don’t have any friends.”

This is a theme I’ve heard woven through recent conversations.

Have you been there? Are you there right now?

Aren’t many of us in that same boat in one season or another?
Feeling friendless?

We’re all reading books like…

MWF Seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling.
The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore, by Marla Paul.

You know. Alone on our couches.

Then there are the articles about why it’s so darn hard to make friends as an adult.
I’ve read them, I’ve shared them. They’re good.

Is this feeling universal?
Because I’ve felt it in full-force at times. And from what I hear — you do to.
Maybe we should let this friendless feeling connect us instead of push us further from each other.

Because maybe we already know the answer to loneliness, the excuses we keep, the fears we hoard.

Invitation is the Answer.

Action, invitation, and commitment are the answers to our feelings of isolation.

I love what my friend Brooke says, “sometimes the cause of those lonely feelings comes when we’re not connecting in meaningful ways with other people.”

What if we feel friendless because we don’t consciously make time for the friends that we actually have?

Or even the acquaintances who could become friends!

The apprehension is understandable.
“I don’t even know what I’d make them for dinner.”
“What if they can’t come?”
“Will my kids overwhelm them?”
“But my house… it’s so messy.”
“Everyone is too busy.”
“I’m nervous. I don’t want to sound crazy when I invite people over.”
“Will my baby-food smeared shirt and crying baby be off putting?”
“What will we talk about?”

This ‘trying to protect ourselves from rejection’ business?
It’s leading to our isolation.

I aware of the ‘fear factor’. 87% of us probably face the same hangups when it comes to extending invitations or entering “new friend territory”.

But guess what? We all just want to hang out!

I’m headed out the door for a new workout class, not sure I’ll know anyone there. But I’m going anyways because I believe that friendship is always right around the corner.

Here’s how to be surrounded by friends.

Yeah, this is your homework for the week. Invite someone(s) to do something. Share a coffee. Grab a pizza. Have cereal for dinner. Make time for authentic conversations while you eat a meal; it doesn’t have to be “entertaining”, a simple gathering will do.

If someone asks to hang out — say yes (and if that moment doesn’t work, for goodness sakes, suggest a time or event that does).

Who’s it going to be?

Tell me who you’ll connect with this week. How will you foster friendship in your life?
I wanna know so I can encourage you; share in the comments below. <3


Side note: If you’re really really feeling friendless because you’ve moved to a new town or something else is making friendship hard, I understand and am sending you a HUGE virtual hug. This series might help.

5 comments

soft gingersnap cookie recipe

SOFT GINGER COOKIES

These are officially my new favorite and if you like soft cookies, I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll be yours too. The honey hits your tastebuds brilliantly then ginger chimes in. This recipe is adapted from Molly’s great-grandma’s gingersnap recipe.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup butter [softened]
1/4 shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda [dissolved in a little hot water]
2 1/4 cups flour [or gluten free flour – Domata GF flour might work well!]
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
additional sugar [for coating the cookies, about 1 cup]

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375* F. In a large bowl combine butter, shortening, sugar, honey, and molasses until smooth. You can use an electric mixer if you’d like. Whisk in egg and vanilla and dissolved baking soda.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, spices, and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Place additional sugar in another bowl. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll to coat in sugar. Put the cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes. The tops will turn slightly golden brown. (It’s oh so pretty.) They’ll look puffy and undercooked when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool on the tray for 3 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. When they cool they’ll firm up a bit and the tops will crack. At this point, you’ll need to try one while they’re still warm. Trust me on this.

Variations — if you don’t have molasses use 4 tablespoons of honey. No honey? Use 4 tablespoons molasses instead. Feel free to substitute butter for shortening and vice versa. I haven’t tried it but if you wanted it egg free you could use mix 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons water.

Could You Use Some Cookies?

If I could waft the smell of these fresh baked cookies to you through the interwebs, I would. If your mailbox could use some cookies — leave a comment bellow. Tell me about your favorite cookie eating memory. I’ll randomly pick one of you to receive some of these babies.

5 comments

Fellowship Finds // Kitchen Fellowship

[1]

Lisa wants a house that invites fun, creativity, conversations, hospitality. In short, she wants a comfortable house. She speaks meaningful words about escaping the comparison trap when it comes to our homes.

[2]

Oh Brooke! Here she’s sharing how her own mental and emotional health reflects upon the behavior of her children. She pops a few amazing tips about parenting based on personality and offers a book recommendation.

[3]

Janel recently started her blog, Peach and the Cobbler, where she shares dairy free recipes. We worked at a pastry/coffee/sandwich shop during the summers. So yeah, this girl can COOK! This crazy-wow pizza has to appear on your dinner table.

[4]

‘Ever Be’ by Bethel Music… heard it yet? It’s soul soothing.

[5]

Remember making friendship bracelets as a kid? How ’bout these babies?

[6]

Why we’re failing at community? Brittany hits the nail on the head.

[6]

‘Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy’ by Donald Miller
Love that this book is about “the risk involved in choosing to impress fewer people and connect with more, about the freedom that comes when we stop acting and start loving. It is a story about knocking down old walls to create a healthy mind, a strong family, and a satisfying career. And it all feels like a conversation with the best kind of friend: smart, funny, true, important.”

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How to Support our Troops on Tour and at Home | via Kitchen Fellowship

On a daily basis, many veterans and soldiers take their own lives.

Last week my cousin Nick, a Marine, was one of them.

Yes, I’m sad-shocked.

But when these type of sorrowful things happen to my family or our society — I get feisty, and passionate, and this rumble rises in my chest to speak up, seek restoration, and invite you along.

Will you join me in restoration?

Because our world needs it. You. Me. Soldiers and veterans. The neighbor next door.

For several weeks I’ve been searching for insight on how we can understand and support veterans/soldiers while on tour and at home; to shore up those of us in our communities who might struggle mentally and emotionally. Those who might face PTSD. This was after a military friend of mine lost a soldier in his company to suicide.

My Opportunity to Reach Out

After I found out about my cousin Nick, I saw an exchange between some of his friends online: “A lot of people don’t understand the risks you guys take and when you come back home it’s not easy either.”

Ryan, a military man himself, responded, “You’re right, not many people understand it or even want to try to. Just because we made it home safe and in one piece physically doesn’t mean everyone made it back in one piece mentally and emotionally.”

So I reached out to Ryan (even though I was nervous) to hear his story and glean what ever I could. Because I’m one of those people. I want to be understanding. You too?

Take time to read the following heart-opening ideas and insights from Ryan that he so graciously let me share with you. My take-aways are in italics. Okay, over to Ryan:

Initiative & Advocacy:

“It’s greatly appreciated that you are compelled to shed light on this matter. We need more people who want to take initiative and be proactive to help our brothers and sisters in arms. Because as unfortunate as it seems there are more against us than for us at times. It’s heartbreaking to watch my brothers make it home safe and alive only to be lost to these situations and I would love to be a part of helping them and their families in any way I can.”

My take away: This is something our world needs to talk about. It’s time for proactive measures.

Several Difficulties Soldiers Face:

“For many of us who have gone overseas to combat zones one of the hardest things besides dealing with what we saw over there is dealing with society when we return and trying to be a normal member again. And for a good amount of us we’d rather not and just stay with our brothers who we feel safest with. Especially when dealing with that percentage of society that looks at us as evil individuals for voluntarily doing what we did overseas. Next hardest thing is separating from the military and having to leave the safety of our brotherhood to attempt to become a full time “normal” person with a normal job and life.”

My take away: Transitioning isn’t easy and we shouldn’t pretend that it is. Feeling safe is important. Don’t judge.

How to Support Us While Deployed:

“Some good ways to support while on tour:
1) Let us know you’re thinking of us.
2) Understand we don’t have a lot of free time so to be patient when we haven’t had a chance to make much contact.
3) When we do make contact, the last thing we want to talk about is what’s going with us and more of how things are at home so we can take our minds off the crap we’re going through for a short period of time.
4) Simple care packages with stuff from home you can’t get overseas (like certain foods and whatnot) give us a little piece of home, while there, makes all the difference.”

My friend Amy, who has a military spouse and is a veteran herself, offered these words: “We can help in little but meaningful ways from sending care-packages, to helping the families that are left back home.”

My take away: Be respectful. Show them you care. Call. Send a letter or care package. Make it a priority to connect and fellowship with family members left at home.

How to Support Us When We Return Home:

“It’s a lot easier to show support while we’re deployed than when we’re home — cause that’s when it gets complicated.

While we’re home patience is truly a virtue.

Adjusting from a combat zone to a non combat zone is very difficult. Between dealing with possible anxiety, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and other issues it can be exhausting dealing with everyday things as simple as grocery shopping. So for our supporters when it comes to planning events or wanting to do special things it’s good to remember things like crowd size, noise levels, and something as small as where we sit in a restaurant.” [That’s Kitchen Fellowship talk right there. Keep their needs in mind. Create gatherings that are calm and full of peace.]

“One big thing that helps us out is actually getting together with our brothers for reunions whether it be few or many of us. It’s a great feeling to sit back and relax and feel completely un-judged and able to reminisce about our times spent in the worst-best days of our lives.”

My take away: Be patient. Be aware. Transition isn’t easy. Ensure gatherings meet their needs.

On Moral Support:

“As for moral support the best thing is to show that you are there for them but not be too pushy to get their feelings out so that they don’t shut down completely, and if they do begin to share anything even if it’s the littlest bit of something — stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention cause it takes a lot for us to open up. Now it gets complicated.. for some guys the persistence is what they need to open up.

Amy offered this too, “They may be reluctant to talk about it (especially to family) but may open up to others with similar situations. Here’s a website that [offers help for PTSD and such].”

And lastly and close to most importantly, when we’re having a rough day or a moment regardless of what’s going on please don’t get frustrated with us, because we are already beyond frustrated with ourselves. This is because we know we are affecting the ones around us by our issues and we hate being burdens on our loved ones. Which, sadly, is a reason I believe a lot of guys choose to take their lives because they feel their loved ones would be better off without them than dealing with our issues.”

My take away: Learn to work through your frustrations in a meaningful way — instead of transferring that to the soldiers in your lives. Embrace the fact that they’re frustrated too. Keep pouring out love and respect and patience. Share that extra measure of grace. Listen whole heartedly.

Final Thoughts

What I’ve been considering is this… we can be understanding even if we don’t understand. Even if we’ll never know all they face (for those of us not in the military) we can be there for them, be a good friend, and be empathic and understanding.

The Call to Live Proactively

What steps can you take this week to reach out to someone who’s facing emotional or mental turmoil? Maybe it’s a neighbor or classmate who seems depressed, or a veteran, solider, or military spouse and their family. If you feel called to action — take a small step forward. Share your ideas or questions in the comments below. And if you’re a veteran or soldier who has insight or wants a listening ear, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We want to hear from you too.

*Military photo of Nick via Alex Dennis. Other photo is of Nick and me as kids.

8 comments

creativity

I’m here to call you to deeper hospitality, even if you believe you’re not a natural at it.


Because we need authentic hospitality (take one look at the news…our world is every shade of crazy and I’m convinced opening our hearts and homes is a beautiful first step towards restoration). Our world needs you, and all you have to offer.

“Each should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:9b


Know what that means? Whatever gifts you have — they’ve been given for the use of one another. We can’t hide them away and assume they’re meant only for ourselves. We must use them to the best of our abilities. We’re given gifts to infuse facets of God’s character into the hearts and minds of those around us.

Our gifts enhance hospitality.

It’s time to play to your strengths!


You make hospitality more meaningful when you play to your strengths and use your gifts. This will keep you from exhausting yourself on the unimportant as you invite people to gather.

But how do you do this? Here are some practical examples:

If you’re an incredible cook (but terrible gardener) and your kitchen is a place of coziness for all who gather there, spend your time making your famous homemade bacon carbonara. Let the weeds, bushes, and runaway flowers take over the yard.

If you’re an incredible gardener (but terrible cook) and your yard is a place of supreme peace for those who gather there, spend your time enhancing that atmosphere and artfully trimming the bushes. Pick up some cookies from a bakery and a jug of tea from the grocery store.

If you’ve had a long week at work and the thought of cleaning your house a little bit for that big party brings more stress than peace, ask your friends to bring lawn chairs, and invite your hubby to torch up a bonfire in the back yard. (Ah, the gift of delegation.)

If you’re awesome at igniting laughter and drawing people into conversation (but don’t have time to prep a meal before everyone comes over because your daughter’s soccer practice let out late), set out some board games and order a pizza.

If you’re great at hiking but don’t necessarily enjoy hosting folks at home all the time, take them out on the trails and share granola bars. You could also climb to a beachy dune and enjoy chips and dip.

Too exhausted for planning a gathering but have the gift of listening? Let people bring lunch over and help them feel valued as you listen to their stories.

You get the idea.

It’s easier to open our hearts to hospitality when we’re channeling the gifts God has given us to use, when we’re being ourselves and not a knock-off version of Martha Stewart perfection.


For me, using my gifts looks a lot like opening my home, gathering people together for creative experiences, fellowship, and food. I hope to do a lot more of this as the fall and winter approaches.

Two weeks ago my college-bound cousin visited and we crafted dorm room decorations for three days straight and consumed vast amounts of bacon. By the end of her visit she said, “I feel so relaxed, so at peace.” That melted my heart and let me know my gifts were shared well. Last week my friend Amy came over and we ate a bowl of popcorn and painted placemats while she told awesome stories of God moving in the lives of those around her. This week I’m hosting an Art & Eats mini retreat with my friend Kristi. We’ll be spending time with 12 ladies for an evening of creativity, tasty food, authentic friendship, and restoration.

Using your gifts enhances hospitality. I’ve seen it first hand.

What gift of yours will you commit to using this week?

Share in the comments below! And if you’re unsure how you could use one of your gifts to enhance hospitality — let’s brainstorm! List them out and I’ll help you weave them into hospitality.

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