Yes you are….

How will you celebrate mother’s day this year?

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Making it Real



We have been making excuses for why we cannot make room for others at our table. Are you ready for a challenge? A challenge to welcome people into your home, to sit with them at your table, to engage and listen to them, no matter who they are or what their story may be….no matter how well you can or cannot cook, when your house is a mess or you are feeling pressured. Will you make room this week for someone at your table?


Remember the excuses I made….well here they are again with a counter response, a practical suggestion for putting the excuses away this week. And making it real….


I thought about having some new friends over on Friday night, but I was so tired by the end of the week I cancelled. Invite a good friend to partner with you, to keep you accountable -a new and an old friend to share an end of the week pizza.

By the time I get back from work and sort out the kids, school notes, lunch boxes, uniform, readers there really isn’t enough time to prepare a meal for company. Make a bulk batch of bolognese sauce on the weekend – defrost it and serve spaghetti bolognese for your family plus one or two more. Ask your guests to bring a green salad or garlic bread. Simple.

We live too far out of town and I am sure people really wouldn’t want to make the drive on a wet Autumn evening. Invite people over for lunch on the weekend instead. A drive in the country followed by lunch and a stroll in the paddocks is hard to beat. Just remember to ask your guests to bring old shoes/boots.

We are on a really tight budget at the moment, we are building a house and every last penny is going towards the new home fund, so no entertaining at the moment. If you have food for your family then you have all you need. Invite a few families over for a pot luck dinner – BYO, perhaps with a theme (pasta, Asian, soup) and share your food and thus relieve the pressure on your budget.

I am single and I couldn’t possibly have a family over – we literally don’t have enough crockery or cutlery…or seats! If you want to be generous and really spend time with people create a DYI take away box and make dinner for  a family in their house. Keep it simple – something like a fast pasta, steak sandwiches, burritos. The family can help and you can chat as you cook. Just don’t forget to clean up.

Since we had baby number three the house has been in such a state and I am really hoping to get on top of it. Maybe next month. Forget the house. Make the focus people. Tell them you want to see them and ask them around for cheese and ham toasties – as you DYI your lunch conversation happens.

I am really not a great cook and the thought of having to coordinate a meal makes me stressed. I just can’t do it. Offer to host – prepare the venue and ask a team of friends to cater for you. Many hands make light work, all you have to do is co-ordinate.

My children are difficult and I am worried they will behave badly. We can’t take them out and we can not have people at home. On a fine day meet friends in the park for afternoon tea. Make sure it is a safe area where you can supervise and with things for the kids to do. BYO cake and thermos of coffee, juice, water and make it a casual picnic.

I have thought about asking the new people from our neighbourhood over for a coffee, but there never seems to be enough time. As genuine as this concern is we always have 5 minutes. Next time you bump into your neighbour ask them in for a coffee – your take up rate might not be high but at least you are trying to connect and this will do amazing things for your outlook and ability to see opportunities where you thought there were none.

So many people have food allergies and intolerances nowadays, how can I possibly cater for them all. Invite people to bring a dish to share. Friends with food intolerances will cater for their own allergies and fussy eaters – it is also an opportunity for you to see what they like to eat!

Modern Classic

A friend made me a meal for me this week. She showed me some generous hospitality. Life has been crazy with a few extraordinary stresses. She made Coq au Vin, but not the old fashioned version. Rather Bill Granger’s modern take on an old French Classic that our parents perhaps made in the 70s. Not only did it taste great, it looked fabulous and she claims it is simple to prepare. So as the weather continues to be bitterly cold, consider this dish for the weekend ahead and maybe invite someone to share it with you. Enjoy!

Coq au vin

Impress your mates at a dinner party – or just show off at home – with this easy eight-stage coq au vin recipe made with white wine and served with creamy mash.

Ingredients

For the coq au vin
For the crème fraîche mash

Preparation method

  1. For the coq au vin, preheat the oven to 220C/430F/Gas 7. Arrange the chicken pieces in a large roasting tin and scatter with the bacon, shallots, thyme, rosemary and chilli flakes. Season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Drizzle the contents of the roasting tray with two tablespoons of the olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
  3. When the chicken has been roasted, add the wine to the tin and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  4. Heat the butter and remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for 3-5 minutes. Tip the mushrooms and garlic into the tin and scatter with the parsley.
  5. Meanwhile, for the crème fraîche mash, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water until tender. Remove from the heat, drain well and return to the hot pan.
  6. Mash the potatoes until smooth.
  7. Heat the milk and butter in a small pan over a medium heat, until the butter has melted (do not allow the mixture to boil). Beat the hot butter and milk into the potatoes, then fold in the crème fraîche or cream. Season, to taste, with sea salt.
  8. To serve, pile some of the crème fraîche mash onto each of four serving plates and spoon the coq au vin on top.

A Meal Captured by Leo Patrone

 Kinfolk magazine  

Thinking about meals and making room at our table. Dreaming about beautiful food, family celebrations, hours shared with friends at the dining room table. Thinking about slow, deliberate food preparation with local, seasonal ingredients that we have sourced from farms and paddock surrounds. Thinking about rustic spaces, candlelight.
Leo Patrone’s images ( he is a wedding and portrait photographer) for Kinfolk magazine which I discovered from Bodie and Frou made me sigh…..the meal looks beautiful. Don’t you agree? If you haven’t seen Kinfolk before do stop by and have a look at their journal. They say, the magazine is”our way of encouraging a natural approach to spending time with family and friends.”

Making room


The list of excuses I creatively came up with may have hit a nerve with you, I am not sure. I thought I was imagining excuses you may use not to demonstrate hospitality, but on reflection I have been challenged to see that those excuses are me. And those statements are often replayed in my head even when we do have people over. Why is that? 
We are all able to do things with our head, be led by a good idea to serve and give, but our heart can be a long way from the notion of generosity and grace that comes from an honest adoption of hospitality. Like you, I become disheartened when an invitation is refused, when people always seem to be unable to come. When you host often and never get a return invitation. Or when a guest is critical in some way of their experience in your home.
The bottom line is that making room for people, even nice, ‘respectable’ people whom you and I would love to share time with, is hard work. It will always be hard to make room at the table for the homeless, the addicted and the broken. But I guess I have been forced to see that it can be hard to invite the ‘right’ people too. If our motives for making room in our home for others stems from pride or a need for approval then we will fail.
At the meal table we are exposed for who we are. A fraud, a fake, a hoarder, a gossip, a tyrant, a victim, an addict, a hypocrite. Making room for others forces us to be real with ourselves, if we are to intentionally build relationships over a shared meal and not polish our own egos.
Tim Chester says in his book A Meal with Jesus:
Hospitality involves welcoming, creating space, listening, paying attention, providing. Meals slow things down. Some of us don’t like that. We like to get things done. But meals force you to be people-oriented instead of task oriented. Sharing a meal is not the only way of building relationships, but it is number one on the list.
It’s possible to remain at a distance from someone in public gatherings…..Meals bring you close. You see people in situ, in life, as they are. You connect and communicate. Novelist Barbara Kingsolver describes dinnertime as “the cornerstone of our family’s mental health.” “If I had to quantify it,” she says, “I’d say 75 percent of my crucial parenting effort has taken place during or surrounding the time our family convenes for our evening meal.”1
Generous hospitality leads to reconciliation. It expresses forgiveness. Unresolved conflict can’t be ignored when we gather round the meal table: you can’t eat in silence without realizing there’s an issue to address. Paul uses hospitality as a metaphor for reconciliation when he says to the Corinthians: “Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no-one.” (2 Corinthians 7:2) Hospitality can be a kind of sacrament of forgiveness.

In a world where fewer families eat together, we have a real opportunity to offer grace and community to those people we are connected to in some way. There are people of peace, people we share a link to, however tentative. The new mum at the kindergarten, the check out chick who is always super nice to your kids in the supermarket, the guy you buy your take away coffee from before work. These people are people you and I need to make room for at our table.
Some practical ideas for making this happen soon…..

Excuses, excuses…..

You may recall that last week I suggested that maybe hospitality was a “public duty toward strangers”, “honor of the community” and a “sacred duty”. This notion is challenging to the busy modern man and woman. A frenetic lifestyle based around a career or family often doesn’t leave much room for welcoming strangers into our home, let alone our friends and extended family. Could this be you or me? What might our excuses me? Let me know if you have some more to add as I tease out this idea of hospitality further.


I thought about having some new friends over on Friday night, but I was so tired by the end of the week I cancelled.

By the time I get back from work and sort out the kids, school notes, lunch boxes, uniform, readers there really isn’t enough time to prepare a meal for company.

We live too far out of town and I am sure people really wouldn’t want to make the drive on a wet Autumn evening.

We are on a really tight budget at the moment, we are building a house and every last penny is going towards the new home fund, so no entertaining at the moment.

I am single and I couldn’t possibly have a family over – we literally don’t have enough crockery or cutlery…or seats!

Since we had baby number three the house has been in such a state and I am really hoping to get on top of it. Maybe next month.


I am really not a great cook and the thought of having to coordinate a meal makes me stressed. I just can’t do it.


My children are difficult and I am worried they will behave badly. We can’t take them out and we can not have people at home.


I have thought about asking the new people from our neighbourhood over for a coffee, but there never seems to be enough time.


So many people have food allergies and intolerances nowadays, how can I possibly cater for them all.


Sabbath Rest

I am yearning for rest today. Not a Nanna nap or even a power nap, but a time of quiet, relaxation and restoration. So it was no surprise when I stumbled across Tyler David talking about Sabbath Rest. I don’t think much about the Sabbath, as it would seem outmoded in our fast and crazy Western world. I never stop really – there is always the phone, the internet, Facebook or a small child demanding my attention. We were created to work, and work excellently. But we were also intended to rest, to stop, to be quiet and receive a fill with things that reenergise us. 


There are many ways of feeling full and not drained – a good coffee, time with friends, exercise, reading perhaps. But Tyler David argues that the God who made us also intended us to find our real fulfilment in Him. Sabbath rest is “like a banquet … full of gladness and tranquility.”  Rather than emptying and depleting the soul, Sabbath rest nourishes and fulfills and it enables us to put things in proper perspective.  We are made and meant for sabbath rest; for the banquet that nourishes, fulfills and restores relationship.  We are not made to just work and work and hopefully maybe catch a day off here and there. So if you need a rest today, or want to think more about resting and taking a Sabbath, you will find this talk from Austin Stone a real blessing.


  “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20: 8-11