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I’m thrilled to introduce you to my new friend, Julie, who I met through Instagram. We have very similar hearts for fostering fellowship and community, opening our homes in the spirit of hospitality, and are even both graphic designers. You can imagine how our first cross-continent Skype call went! When I asked if she’d like to share her story and insights on cross-cultural hospitality she kindly accepted. Since I’m a small-town girl, living in a 98% homogenous community, I’m very thankful for her words and wisdom.
In my interview with Julie below you’ll learn about cross-cultural hospitality in the following ways:
Let’s dive in!
My name is Julie and I blog at The Serviette. I’m a Christian, a wife, and a lover of words and images. The culture I most identify with is Canadian culture (my parents’ home culture), but I’m quite a mix of cultures because I lived on four different continents before the age of 30.
My American husband and I still live abroad, in Germany. We’re learning about hosting people of other cultures, and have been encouraged by what we see happening in those cross-cultural relationships. I started The Serviette not because I’m a cross-cultural hospitality expert, but because I want to create a sort of online reference manual for people wanting to open their doors to people who are culturally different than them.
The first picture that comes to mind when one thinks of cross-cultural hospitality is probably something like an American family hosting an Iranian family for a meal, or a German family keeping Syrian refugees in their home. But when a Canadian Christian welcomes a Canadian atheist neighbour into his or her friend circle, that could also be called cross-cultural hospitality. They might have the same ethnic background, but they have very different values and worldviews.
Also, while we usually think of hospitality as opening our homes and sharing meals, a hospitable spirit can also be shown in other ways, like remembering the (difficult) name of the new Asian employee at work, taking baked goods to your coworker on his birthday, or writing a card to someone who is going through a difficult season.
Cross-cultural hospitality could be defined as extending welcome to someone with whom you might not have a lot in common, especially to someone of a different race or religion.
Cross-cultural hospitality is close to God’s heart — bringing the far away near and making them His friends is God’s speciality (Eph. 2:13, Rom. 5:10). Christians are taught to imitate God by opening their homes to strangers (Heb 13:1).
Even from a human perspective, we can see the good it does: it opens our eyes to other cultures’ traditions and perspectives on life. Just having one Buddhist or Muslim friend can give you a whole new perspective on life. Cross-cultural hospitality gets us out of our comfort zones!
Hospitality can be time-consuming, but cross-cultural hospitality can be even more so, because you need to make extra allowances for differences in eating preferences or interests. Sometimes you need to ask new questions like, “Is there a way I can make this quiche without eggs so that my Jain friend can eat it?” or “Are we OK with letting our Muslim friend unroll his prayer mat in the living room and do his prayers here?”
When you open your home to people with different values or backgrounds, sometimes you get unusual or blunt questions. The vocabulary of your guests might not be G-rated. Your guests might question your beliefs, or smell and look different. Others may not understand why you want to bring people into your home who are different than you; my friend’s mother-in-law didn’t approve of her having people of other religions and cultures near her baby.
It’s good to remind myself of this: Jesus endured challenging circumstances to connect with me, and I can endure challenging circumstances to connect with others.
I’ve been surprised at…
1) …how even small gestures of hospitality mean so much to lonely or international guests. Once I invited a single South Asian girl over, and she told me that it was the first time she’d ever really socialized without her family along. A few months ago, an acquaintance and her husband invited a Libyan family over. They found out that the family had lived in the USA for six years and never been invited inside an American’s home! They didn’t know what was culturally appropriate to bring as a gift, so they asked a friend for help. They arrived with so many gifts: a homemade cake, a Libyan specialty dish of potatoes and beef, a European box of chocolates and a handmade crocheted table covering. Stories like this remind me that what seems easy for us, like having someone over for the afternoon, can be really meaningful to our foreign guests!
2) …how well we’ve connected with people who might seem to not have much in common with us. One of our closest friends in our last city was a Muslim friend from the Middle East. He shared his story, wept at our table, and asked us to pray for him. I was surprised how dear he became to us as we shared many meals, conversations and prayers. I think these kind of connections are God-orchestrated, but they happen most naturally when we open our homes to strangers.
3) …how openly we can talk about our faith with people of other faiths in our home. The opportunities are virtually endless to talk about our faith when people are at our table regularly. It comes up naturally, whether we pray before a meal, hang a verse on the wall, share a book from our bookshelf, or just talk about life through a Christian lens.
We have so many sweet memories of cross-cultural gatherings. Last year when two international friends were moving away, we hosted a farewell party for them. Our tiny apartment was packed with people, many of whom we had never met. I was busy the whole night, bumping past people, heating food, boiling water for tea, and setting out desserts. I couldn’t sit and chat for long with anyone, but around the room I heard people of different races and different worldviews meeting each other and great conversations happening.
I realized that those conversations might not have happened in any other setting. I was amazed that with a bit of effort, our home could become a place where people from all different nations could be comfortable enough to talk about what really matters in life. Cross-cultural hospitality blesses the guests, but we’ve found over and over that it also blesses the hosts! (Prov 11:25)
Share your heart and thoughts in the comments below and say hello to Julie here too!
I’m so grateful for Julie, her friendship, and the wonderful insights and stories she shared here. Again, if you’d like to learn more about cross-cultural hospitality you can visit her website, The Serviette, or connect with her on Instagram.
If you’re looking for a tasty diversion from your usual meals, this veggie burger is it! Can’t seem to get enough of these this week. I adapted the recipe below from food blogger The First Mess.
2 medium [to small] potatoes
1/2 cup dried split peas [I used green peas]
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 cup flour [I used GF flour]
1/4 cup oatmeal [I used GF rolled oats]
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce [or GF tamari soy sauce]
small handful of fresh basil and fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
coconut or olive oil for cooking
Boil and mash potatoes. Cook peas according to package directions. Combine potatoes, peas, carrots, spices and fresh herbs, soy sauce, lime juice, oatmeal and flour in a bowl and mix well.
When the mixture is cool enough to touch, form it into 5 to 6 patties depending on the size you want. Place patties on a sturdy silicone mat or baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 and place an empty baking sheet inside. Heat a frying pan over medium high. Add a tablespoon or so of oil to the pan. Fry each patty for 2 minutes a side until golden brown. Place the patties in the oven to keep them warm while you’re frying the remaining patties. Add more oil to the pan if you need to.
I made these patties and cooked one a day for lunch; no need to turn the oven on then to keep the whole batch warm. I ate one on a regular bun with lettuce, spicy mustard, and ketchup: delicious. I ate the rest on lightly toasted GF corn tortilla with the same toppings: excellent. You could eat them in a lettuce wrap too.
The consistency of my first batch was a bit soft. It fried up well but the center of the patty didn’t have the regular firmness of a veggie patty or regular burger. They were creamy inside with a crispy exterior, but I loved them. Less cooking time on the peas and potatoes probably would have made the batch firmer. Laura, the original recipe creator, has good tips on the consistency of the mixture.
These would also make a nice breakfast with a side of eggs and sautéd greens!
What recipe have you made over and over this summer? I’d love your recipe suggestions for the last few weeks of summer. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And I’ve heard from many of you, personally: you’ve experienced punch-to-the-gut interactions with neighbors and awkward ramifications that follow.
You are not alone.
This week we received an odd note on our door about the condition of our lawn. Said note included firm directives. I’ll admit, our yard is unruly and long. But there’s a good reason. Several weeks ago I injured my back and have been recovering, mostly in bed. Healing doesn’t leave much time for lawn mowing and I’m okay with that. The queen anne’s lace is about 3 feet tall in the yard but in the vase above it’s pretty, right?
So what do you do when a neighbor isn’t happy with you? When they treat you unkindly or wrongly assume something about you? When they have major or minor beef with you? When they’re passive-aggressively rude — or aggressive-agressively rude?
We’ve all experienced rudeness at the hands of others, it’s a condition of our broken world, but I believe gracious responses are within reach.
Initially I texted a trusted friend and ate an oreo or two. Then I began working it out.
1) Give yourself time to process.
Defensiveness, disbelief, and frustration is what I felt when I first read the note because this neighbor had traditionally been nice. It’s good to give yourself time to experience your emotions and cool down before responding.
My friend Merritt posted this prayer on Instagram this week: “I pray that we would be empowered by God’s perfect love to love others around us. Let us be quick to love and slow to anger. Help us not get caught up in the things of this broken earth, and guide our minds and hearts to focus on things above.”
Ask God for specific steps to take to usher in restoration of your relationships with your neighbors.
3) Take it as a chance to refine your personality and thought processes.
What’s your knee jerk response when you run into rudeness?
Is it anger? Aggression? Retaliation? Slander? Despair? Self-doubt?
I’m a people pleaser and often find myself trying to live up to other’s expectations even when they’re unrealistic. I’m going to look at the interaction with the neighbor as a chance to focus on self-care. To let go of what people expect me to do and continue to heal my back. I sent the neighbor a nice note and thanked them for the grace I know they’ll extend as I recover.
I love the questions a friend is wrestling with about her neighbor. Not because she’s in a place of struggle, but because the struggle can produce a season of learning, growth of character, and a peace. Have you ever had similar thoughts?
4) Don’t assume the worst.
Yes, some neighbors are down right monstrous but choosing to assume the best about your neighbors is a good place to start. Give them and their lives an extra measure of grace, especially if you want to build a bridge towards mutual understanding.
Maybe they’ve had a rough week and are lashing out? Maybe they’re feeling useless and picking at you, oddly, makes them feel some a sense of purpose? Maybe they didn’t mean any harm by their actions and are simply poor communicators.
5) Respond in love.
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9
When the poor behavior of others comes your way — behave differently and unexpectedly. If your initial reaction is to respond with anger and retaliation what’s the exact opposite response for your specific situation? Do that instead. If neighborhood teens egg your house, ask them if they’d like to bake cookies over the weekend. Respond in love. This honors God.
Sometimes the most loving response is to ignore the offense. Other times it’s talking it through and seeking common ground, discovering a solution that works for all. Maybe it’s mailing out a kind note in response or delivering baked goods to the offended neighbor.
Here’s how my friend Julia used baking to continue being a loving neighbor after a weird run in.
6) Fill your heart with truth.
Romans 12:9-21 is one of my favorite sections of scripture. It’s all about love in action, practicing neighborly hospitality, and responding graciously. Meditate on it.
7) Let it go.
Choose not to let poor interactions negatively color your view of your neighbor. Breathe deeply, let it go. Carrying around that frustration won’t serve you, it’ll only foster resentment and bitterness.
1) It’s not about you. (Unless you’re blasting music at 3am and your new-mom neighbor is trying to get her infant to sleep.)
2) Asking good questions of yourself and of your neighbors goes a long way.
3) You’re doing the best you can.
4) If you can’t please a neighbor it doesn’t speak to who you are. It often speaks to them being unable to receive your attempts at unity.
5) If they reject you and your gracious response — I promise you’ll be okay. You are loved by so many other neighbors and friends. You did the best you could in the situation at hand. Tomorrow is a new day and it’s okay to focus your loving attention in other areas.
6) Your soul can still be at peace because peace comes from God. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
7) You’re not alone in the pain and frustration. Other people are facing similar situations.
8) Make each day count by infusing love everywhere you can.
Where are you at with your neighbors? Feeling the love or facing the frustration? Walking toward restoration? Share your ideas for gracious responses to rude neighbors with other Kitchen Fellowshipers in the comments below.
If you need a listening ear for a specific neighborly problem, email me at email@example.com. I’m here to help. <3
Finding a good, delectable, fail-safe granola recipe took time! I’ve made dry and mealy granola and “healthy” batches that taste like cardboard. I’ve made batches with caramel-y sugar and egg whites that produced granola clusters larger than gold balls — but difficult to break apart. There’s nothing like sitting down to a bowl of granola that’s similar to eating an uncooked pile of rolled oats. And then there’s burnt granola. Don’t even get me started on that.
The granola saga is a long one. Perhaps when food bloggers and cook book writers claim their granola recipe “IS THE BEST” what they really mean is that it’s the best for them. Call me crazy but perhaps granola is a deeply personal thing?
When I came across Gina Homolka’s granola recipe it intrigued me and I wanted to make it my own. It’s oh-so-flavorful, refined-sugar free but just sweet enough. It’s the best granola for me. Try it yourself and see if you like it. Here’s the adaptation.
1/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup rolled oats [GF if needed]
1/4 unsweetened coconut [shredded or flaked]
1/4 ground flax seeds [flax meal]
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey [or 1/8 honey 1/8 maple syrup, or all maple syrup]
1 tablespoon coconut oil [cold pressed if you can find it]
1 tablespoon chia seeds [optional]
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of ginger
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer and pat dry with a paper towel. Spread quinoa and oats on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring once.
In a bowl combine nuts, dried fruit, chia seeds, flax meal, spices and pinch of salt. Mix in the oatmeal and quinoa.
In a separate bowl combine coconut oil, honey [and/or maple syrup], vanilla, and apple sauce. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
Spread granola out on baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Stir the granola and bake for another 12 minutes. With 5 minutes of the final bake time remaining, stir in the coconut, and continue to bake. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight glass jar. I like to keep mine in the fridge. You could also freeze batches!
NOTE: If you prefer a dryer granola omit the apple sauce and only bake the granola for 10 – 12 minutes the second time. Feel free to choose whatever combination of dried fruits and nuts you prefer. Change it up with dried cranberries and macadamia nuts, or almonds and dried blueberries, or apricots and hazelnuts. Throw in a handful of chopped bitter sweet chocolate after it’s cooled. Whatever you fancy. Make it yours.
The toasted quinoa adds a nice crunch!
Granola and milk in a bowl?
Sprinkled over yogurt?
Dry, out of the container?
Wrapped into a whole-wheat tortilla with peanut butter and apple slices?
What’s your favorite way to eat granola? Share your granola eating quirks in the comments below.
It’s that time again! Time to share the meaningful reads I’ve discovered online this week. Each piece is mixed with challenge and encouragement. (I’ve also thrown in a podcast for good measure.)
The title of Shauna Niequist’s blog post says it all: Why It Doesn’t Matter How You Feel About Your Friends
And here’s Craig, speaking truth: “Everybody wants a revolution. But no one wants to do the dishes. Doing justice takes more than a few days. It takes a lifetime commitment to costly and boring, ordinary love.”
I’ve mentioned my friend Trina before but guess what’s new in her world? She launched an online space and she’s over at Simplifying Home helping us start where we are, embrace the process, and find peace along the way. Her most recent post is all about finding simplicity online (which I could totally use more of this summer)!
If you’re carrying a burden today or have ever felt like a burden to your friends or family, this one’s for you. We miss out when we hold back.
Where are my podcast fans? My friend Merritt launched her podcast yesterday and it is so good. I might have cried a little listening to it during my morning walk. Ha. Her podcast (The Momentum Podcast: Pursuing What Matters Most) is all about taking initiative in life and work, following God’s lead and paying attention to what happens next. Find episode 0 here. Be sure to listen all the way through for the *secret ending*.
How not to freak out when friends and neighbors knock on your door? Cara shares on allowing messiness to invade your life, in the very best of ways.
60 creative ways to love a friend in crisis. Grateful Michele complied this beautiful list — so many loving ways to care for our friends, some I’ve never even considered before! Which ways speak to you?
You’re working on finding community, connecting with “your people” and forming authentic friendships, but it’s hard, awkward, and excruciating at times, isn’t it?
You don’t know where to start. Who to approach. Where to find these kindred spirits.
Once “prospective friends” are on the roster, opposition comes. You’re scared to invite them over. Worry they’ll turn you down. You’re afraid everyone’s too busy.
You wonder if these people will get along with those people if you host dinner.
Maybe you’ve moved past the initial fears of invitation, shared a few fun meals and evenings of camaraderie, but things have fizzled. You feel like a pest starting things up again and wonder if these people just aren’t into you.
Nehemiah Chapters 1- 8 has wisdom to offer. Nehemiah was a high official in the Persian court who was called to a great project. He was instrumental in rebuilding a wall and the city of Jerusalem that sat in ruins following the Babylonian exile.
In Chapter 1 Nehemiah hears of the destruction of his city and wept, mourned, fasted, prayed (day and night), praised God, reminded God of His covenant, “…hear me God”, confessed, prayed scripture, pleaded for the people of Jerusalem, and asked God for favor and success.
Have you been there? Facing sadness of the heart because you lack community? Shedding tears because it sits in ruins?
Nehemiah started his building project with prayer. As you journey toward community, press into prayer and ask God to establish what he desires in your life, that he’d usher in authentic friendships and community.
And God will.
But what I’ve learned from these chapters in Nehemiah — it’s wise to prepare yourself for resistance. Nehemiah faced opposition at every turn.
Here’s the deal. The bad dudes in the first six chapters of Nehemiah were unrelenting toward Nehemiah and the Jewish people who were rebuilding the wall.
When you’re building something good and meaningful, like friendship and community, there’s a strong chance you’ll face opposition. Whether it’s internal, external, or both.
The bad dudes? They taunted, opposed, mocked, and ridiculed the Jewish people. They plotted to attack and stir up trouble, sent four intimidating letters, hired men to intimidate Nehemiah, and sent an aide to deliver an intimidating invitation to Nehemiah. (References here: Nehemiah 2:10, 2:19, 4:1-3, 4:7-8, 6:3, 6:8, 6:10-13, 6:19.)
Even after the wall was rebuilt, the project finished, Tobiah sent letters to intimidate Nehemiah.
Taunts rise in the mind and heart while you’re longing for community and forming friendships.
When the bad dudes started mocking Nehemiah, he answered them, “The God of heaven will give us success.” (Nehemiah 2:20)
When fear cries, ‘This friendship thing is impossible…’ — repeatedly discredit the doubt with truth.
When the bad guys threatened to attack the Jewish people, Nehemiah placed guards at all the “exposed places” along the wall. Where or when are you most tender about building friendship?
Is it before an invitation goes out? Is it during a get-together? Is it after a gathering? Weekends? Weeknights? Children’s school events? At the book club? When do the doubts and fears overwhelm you?
What can you do to be proactive and protect those areas in your life?
Pray. Decide to build. Face opposition, doubt and fear. Replace doubt with truth. Pray. Keep building. Face mocking, taunting, intimidation. Pray. Keep at the good work. Repeat. Friendship comes one day at a time.
If there’s anything I can do to help you as you erase loneliness and seek to foster fellowship and friendship in your life — let me know in the comments below. Share your experience with the other Kitchen Fellowshipers here.
This turkey and dumplings dish pairs well with weather that’s vacillating between winter and spring. When it’s drizzly and wet with a chill in the air. When the sun is still hiding away. This recipe is adapted from Real Simple. I included a GF option too.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb turkey breast, cut into cubes [I found a 1.2 lb package and used it all.]
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
4 cups water
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried summer savory [A spice blend found at most grocery stores, similar to a mix of marjoram and thyme.]
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour [Or 1/4 cup corn starch + 1 cup Gluten Free Bisquick Mix]
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons buttermilk [or 5 1/2 tablespoons milk + 1/2 tablespoon vinegar]
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper
Over medium-high, heat the oil in a large soup pot. Place turkey in the pot and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Brown the turkey for about 4 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove turkey from pot and place in a separate dish.
Add your vegetables and spices to the same pot and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the turkey back into the pot along with 4 cups water and 1 cup broth. Simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until the turkey is cooked through. As best you can, spoon the turkey out onto a plate. Shred it with two forks and return it to the pot.
Whisk together 1/4 cup of the flour (or 1/4 cup cornstarch for a GF option) and 1 cup of the cooking liquid, add 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the flour mixture back into the pot and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
Dumplings: Whisk together the remaining 1 cup of flour***, the baking powder, baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Whisk in the butter, buttermilk, and parsley. Under the soup pot, turn heat to low and drop 8 large spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the broth. Cover the pot and simmer the dumplings for 12 to 15 minutes until they’ve firmed up.
***If you’re attempting a GF option for the dumplings — omit the dumpling step above. Try making a batch of biscuit dough according to package directions on a box of Gluten Free Bisquick mix. I haven’t tried this yet, but let me know if you do and if it turns out. Drop biscuit mix by the spoonful into the simmering broth mixture. Cover and simmer. Start with 7 to 8 minutes and check the biscuit/dumpling doneness. They should be firm. Simmer longer if it looks like they need more time. Trial and error might be key here. If you’d rather not risk it, perhaps bake the biscuits according to package directions and serve them on top of the soup.
Serve by ladling the soupy mixture into bowls and topping each bowl with a few dumplings.
I love new recipes so send them my way: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a linked recipe in the comments below!
It was 55° here over the weekend but the low 30°s returned and there was another blizzard last night. I know that many folks struggle with the long, seemingly dull, winter.
Freezing temperatures and heaps of snow can’t be controlled. That’s the way it is. But there’s much in your environment you can change to infuse more joy into the winter months and ease the winter blues.
Here are 12 powerful ways to overcome the winter blues! A lot of it has to do with appealing to all five senses. Smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight. Some of it has to do with our need for camaraderie and erasing loneliness. And then there’s the mindset piece!
Are you intentional with your words and thoughts about winter? How often do you state, “I hate winter…” Or, “Winter seriously stinks!” It’s time to lay the malice to rest, replacing it with mindful observations about what’s to love in this season. What do you see today that’s beautiful? Take note. Seeking beauty in the chilly months will shift your mindset toward positivity away from anxiety over the next winter gale.
Hot beverages! They keep your hands warm and heat you from the inside out. Here are a few of my favorites: hot water with lemon, turmeric tonic, hot chocolate [I like to substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar], coffee, tea, warm cider. Stock ingredients so it’s easy to whip up a steamy beverage at home. I keep the tea kettle full of water on the stove and a tea pot on the counter. It’s nice to make 2 or three cups at a time in the tea pot and keep the pot on my desk for easy fill-ups. Carefully watch your sugar intake in winter beverages so you don’t make yourself feel worse.
Filling winter months with celebration and gratitude infuses your heart and home with joy. This is the time to cozy up with friends. Have you ever hosted a coloring and chocolate party? Gather a few friends for an evening of coloring. Set jars of colored pencils and bowls of chocolate on the table. Easy peasy, and it’ll give you and your friends something to look forward to. Need a coloring book suggestion? Here’s one I created with my friend Merritt. It’s filled with 11 pages for you to color and thoughtful prompts to help you journal through what you’re grateful for.
Wear a blanket! [I hear that’s all the rage this year too!] Somedays are dreadfully cold, even after turning up the heat a few degrees and layering your clothes. This is when blanket wearing comes in handy. I can’t tell you how many Skype meetings I’ve taken with a blanket draped over my lap or shoulders.
Still can’t warm up? Try a grain filled heat pack. Make your own with a rectangle of fabric [sew it into a pouch, fill with dried rice, sew end to close]. Heat it in the microwave for a minute or two. Set it under your feet or on your neck; be careful that it’s not too steamy when you place it on your skin.
Place candles around your home. Light them often. I love all-natural beeswax candles for the sweet honey scent they give off and the warm glow they scatter around. Have you ever tried full spectrum light bulbs? They often help lift blue winter moods.
Take stock of what you look at every day! Do you have enough bright colors around you? I love winter but there are rare moments when our faint blue walls and the backdrop of white snow and gray skies begin to blend together and get to me. This is when I know I need to add a few pops of color here and there. Try swapping out your artwork for something more stimulating and bright. Set a vase of colorful flowers on the table. Hang a few boldly colored yarn pom-poms or paper flowers in dim corners. Place cheery photos of friends and family on your walls with patterned washi tape.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” – A. Wainwright
A thousand times yes to that statement! This is something I learned well when I went to college in the snowy Upper Peninsula. On those below zero days we’d wear our fur lined hats and snow pants in class. If you’re freezing, is it time for more layers? Some days call for two pairs of socks. A good pair of long underwear can keep you toasty warm. Throw a t-shirt over that tank top, then a sweatshirt, and a sweater on top of that if you need to. Let fashion fall to the wayside if your teeth are chattering. If you’re going outside, wear a hat, gloves or mittens [and not those cheap, paper thin, $1 ones], a warm coat, a scarf, and lined boots. These make all the difference.
Music! The sillier or stranger the better. Try something you haven’t listened to before and pop it on during chilly, blue moments. St. Lucia and Jorge Drexler have me dancing the moment I press ‘play’.
Since there’s no wishing it away until spring — embrace the snow! Snowshoe, ski, sled, bundle up and take a moonlight hike. Make snowman and snow angles. When you’re done playing outside, come on in for a warm batch of soft ginger cookies.
Slick roads often make it hard to gather and tend to leave us feeling like hermits. If an outing was canceled, are their neighbors you could get to know better during these long winter months? Invite them over for scones and coffee or an impromptu pizza dinner. Walking next door is easier than driving in a blizzard.
How can you nourish your heart and soul when you’re feeling blue? With cozy, warm meals. Sure, salad’s great but freezing days call for soups, stews, pasta bakes, warm crusty bread and melty butter, biscuits and gravy, curries, and burritos. Nothing warms you up like hovering over the stove as you stir risotto or a batch of chili.
Now summer on the other hand? I’ll need your help facing all the sunshine and heat.
This post isn’t meant to treat any type of medical condition. You should talk to your health care provider if you’re struggling with winter and other medical conditions.
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It seems like we’re all so busy these days. If “busy” is the answer nearly every time you’re greeted by a friend, do you wonder what it would take to answer differently? My friend Merritt and I have been wrestling with that question too.
We want to live authentic lives connected to our hearts and with a sense of calm and rest in our souls. The only way we know how to do that is to just stop, find gratitude, and rest.
That’s why we co-created the gratitude journal and coloring pages. To give you a moment to put “busy” away. To offer you an opportunity to pause, create, rest, rejuvenate, and respond to what’s brewing in your heart and soul.
It contains 14 pages total with 11 pages to journal, color, and explore. You’ll find abstract and natured inspired (hand illustrated) patterns to color.
We hope you’ll journey and journal along with us as you write and color through these topics: faith, friendships, creation, heart, hope, and gratitude. Each topic begins with a Scripture prompt.
If you feel so moved, we’d love to see your process (or completed pages) on social media with the hashtag #WhatsNotToLove.
And since it’s Valentine’s week we want to know — are you feeling gratitude or loneliness? Merritt and I are hopping on Blab tonight to share a conversation (that you can join in on!!) about this. Gather with us online here: https://goo.gl/LTbzao. [Tuesday, February 9TH: 5pm PT, 6pm MT, 7pm CT, 8pm ET]