Hey friends! I want to get personal for a minute. As I was re-reading old posts and recalling past recipes on Gift of Hospitality, I realized there’s an important element missing: anything remotely personal about me. Sure, I tell stories in the posts. I tell you what or who I made the recipe for. But I don’t share much on what my life looks like, or how I weave hospitality into my everyday life.
So lest you think that I spend my days in the kitchen making delicious meals and photographing them (ok, I do that some days), here’s the real scoop—what I’d tell you if we sat down to a cup of tea.
My other job
Gift of Hospitality is very much a labor of love for me. I’d love to make it income producing, but I’m not quite there yet. So while I build Gift of Hospitality, I work as the Director of Events and Marketing for a personal training company in Chicago. I work from home about 25 hours per week, and I have the luxury of making my own schedule. Working from home has its perks (slippers all day, every day!) and its downsides (it can be quite lonely with no one to talk to, even for an introvert). I usually have work events 1–2 times per week, so that gets me out of the house at least!
My husband and I aim to have people into our home for a meal a few times per month. Recently, we’ve had couple friends over a few times, and I had a group of women over for something called an IF Table. IF Tables grew out of the IF Gathering, which was inspired by the question from IF:Gathering Founder and Visionary, Jennie Allen: “If God is real… then what?”.
IF Tables are designed to gather women around the table to encourage each other and connect over a good meal. I love having women sit down at our table to chat, share, encourage, and remind each other that our lives have great purpose.
80 Day Obsession
There’s one small problem with hosting people. You see, I’m following this pesky thing that I’ll call a “meal plan”, because I don’t like the word diet. It involves things like no carbs for dinner. But it turns out that my guests are not following the same plan, and they would probably like carbs with their dinner. So I make the carbs, but I don’t eat the carbs. Fun!
But truthfully, I’m kind of enjoying this “meal plan”. It’s called the 80 Day Obsession. It’s 80 Days of workouts and a carefully crafted meal plan that involves eating certain foods at certain times. Carbs are allowed, but they’re basically outlawed after lunchtime for my meal plan, anyway. I do well with a schedule and a set of rules, so this is definitely a good plan for my personality. I’m doing it because working from home is a snacker’s paradise (the kitchen is 15 feet away, all day). I want to get out of that habit, and out of my reliance on snacks as a means for avoidance—mostly avoiding work, or things I don’t want to do. 🙂 It’s not healthy, and I’m determined to set not only a habit of eating nourishing foods at meal times, but also develop the spiritual muscles to honor God and my body with what I eat and how I treat my body.
Above is a photo of our coffee table with my current stack of books. I’m part way through most of them—it’s rare to find me reading only one book at a time. There are too many good ones out there to do that. My stack leans a little heavy with self help books, or perhaps a better term—self discovery books.
Here they are from top to bottom:
Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terquerst
This book is extremely helpful in developing the spiritual muscles required to remain disciplined around food. The author talks about how we use food to fill a desire, sometimes whether we are hungry or not. She goes on to explain that it’s a desire that only God can fill, and by filling it with things that aren’t good for us, we’re not honoring God or our body. It’s full of anecdotes and helpful suggestions for making good healthy eating decisions.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
I was first turned on to the Enneagram a few months ago. It’s an ancient personality type system. They don’t market it this way, but it’s basically the antidote to the popular Strengths Finder test. Instead of finding your strengths, it points out your unhealthy behaviors that leave you feeling stuck. As an Enneagram 9 (the Peacemaker), it was so helpful to see why I operate the way I do, and learn strategies to overcome bad habits like my tendency to procrastinate.
The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher L. Heuertz
Once I was turned onto the Enneagram, I couldn’t stop reading about it. This was more of an in-depth read compared to The Road Back to You. It has fewer anecdotes and more hard facts, but also has the added bonus of helping readers find their unique path to spiritual growth based on their Enneagram type. Solitude, Silence, and Stillness are the three paths (mine is Stillness—which is indeed tough!).
A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman
I wish I had written this book! I love the title. This book is full of tips and ideas for your home and welcoming others into it. Some of the ideas are a little dated (it was written 12 years ago), like giving your walls a faux finish with sponges. But most are timeless, and the author even has a chapter entitled, “The Myth of the Too Small House” in which she talks about making room and encouraging small house dwellers to have guests over anyway.
Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage by Gary Thomas
Longe and I heard Gary Thomas at our church’s marriage retreat last fall. He reminded us of our wedding vows: to love and to cherish. We know what love is, but what does it look like to cherish? And how do we practice that in our day-to-day life? From noticing and honoring each other to learning to showcase your spouse, Gary gives practical advice on how to fulfill the “cherish” portion of your marriage vows.
Third Culture Kids 3rd Edition: Growing up among worlds by David C. Pollock, Ruth E. Van Reken, and Michael V. Pollock
I haven’t started this one yet, but I bought it because my husband is a Third Culture Kid. The subtitle, “Growing Up Among Worlds” gives a little more insight—it’s a book about children who spend a significant number of their developmental years outside their passport country. Longe moved to the United States when he was 13. His family moved from Zaire, which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, amid the political unrest there in the late 1990s. I’m eager to gain a few insights from this one!
A Cup of Tea? What about Coffee?
So why is this post titled, “A Cup of Tea with Me”? Don’t I know that coffee > tea? Yes, I do. I LOVE coffee. The trouble is, it doesn’t love me back. My body has a bit of an adverse reaction to caffeine and it causes some unpleasant side effects (like lower leg swelling). Once I figured it out, I begrudgingly gave up coffee in favor of herbal tea (womp womp). I’ve been drinking mint tea all winter long, so I’m looking for a good herbal iced tea that I won’t need to sweeten. Any suggestions?
Now it’s your turn: have you read any good books lately?