Beautiful Work

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands…. Psalm 90:17a

Making the most of each moment October 23, 2009

Filed under: Extending Kindness,Keeping inspired — Kate @ 3:11 pm

Well, obviously we are all in the ‘moms of toddlers’ stage of life!  There are plenty of things that call for our attentions at home and just meeting those demands can be all consuming at times.  BUT we are created to be relational beings and at some level we need and want friendships in our lives!  In order to make and maintain friendships at this stage in life, my mentality has been ‘make the most of each moment!’  Some things that I do to implement this are:

Multitasking

  • I must confess that if I am talking you to on the phone I am most liking doing something else at the same time!  I find that this gives me the time to do two things that I value highly …. caring for my family and home and also maintaining friendships!  I’m not going to be doing something that requires too much brainpower, but folding laundry, washing dishes or making sandwiches are a few things that can easily be done while having a conversation and if the conversation needs to go a little deeper I can simply stop for a moment and focus in on the call.
  • Another favorite for me are the famous ‘play dates!’  Getting to chat with another mom while our kids play together (at a home, park or play area) is a wonderful way to connect with a friend and to care for my kids at the same time.  I’m always so grateful for the time together and thankful for grace and understanding as we continue to parent our children in front of each other!

Be Spontaneous –

  • Like Leah mentioned in her post, inviting someone over for dinner at the last minute might seem unconventional, but it never hurts to try it!  I like to call people when I am thinking of them and invite them for sometime that week.  Maybe it works and we are able to connect, maybe it doesn’t and then we can get something on the calendar for a later date.
  • Sit down and write a note/e-mail or make a phone call right when I think about it.  Most thoughts don’t survive in my pregnant brain too long, so doing something about those thoughts in the moment is a must!  (If I don’t have time for something right at the moment, I write it down … lists are a MUST around here!)

Are there some ways that YOU ‘make the most of each moment’ with your friendships???

 

The Not-so-social Butterfly October 21, 2009

Filed under: Extending Kindness,Hospitality,Keeping inspired — Leah @ 6:00 am

I totally agree with the points that Andie made yesterday:  Friendships were leagues easier to maintain before marriage and children arrived on the scene!  But unlike Andie, I do not have the natural desire to be overly social.   Therefore, as my time is spent caring for my husband, my home, and my children- I can very easily neglect friendships without even meaning to!  Here are some ways I have found to encourage myself to seek out friendships:

Pick your friends wisely: My husband and I aim to spend time with other couples/families that will not only spur us on, but who we can encourage as well- knowing that God often blesses us through our relationships.

Remind yourself that your family is not necessarily built like you are: I have to remind myself often that just because I am content at home with a book or a movie…my kids and husband may not be!  I try to schedule some kind of playdate (for the kids) and talktime (for the grown-ups) each week.  Sometimes it’s during the day with just me and kids and other times it’s in the evening or on a weekend when Daddy can join us.

I know, some of you are thinking “ONLY ONCE A WEEK!?!?” but trust me- that’s a big deal for some of us.  :-)

Invite someone over on a whim: If I think about it too much- the invite never happens….so I am realizing more and more that it’s not wierd (and often not even inconvenient!) to invite someone over for dinner with just a hour or two to spare before mealtime.  Families with children are flexible beings and are almost always up for  the adventure!

 

Time for friends?? October 20, 2009

Filed under: Extending Kindness,Hospitality,Keeping inspired — Andie @ 8:17 am

This week we will be discussing the question, “How do you maintain friendships without neglecting your other responsibilities?”

This has not honestly been a topic that I have given a lot of intentional thought to. At this stage of life, I think I have sort of let the chips fall as they will. Immediate family relationships come first and then friendships fit in around them. Somehow, I have managed to see my friends on a semi-regular basis.   Having small children has forced me to have a more narrow group of consistent friendships than I had before. I still have lots of people I consider friends, but very few are “every week” sort of friends. For that matter, even my closest buddies are not “every week” buddies anymore. Here are a fews ways I maintain friendships:

-Make sure to celebrate!- One way I keep up with friends is to make special occasions a priority. Who cares if it’s the second little baby girl in a family and there is ‘no need’ for a shower? We have a party anyway! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is precious to celebrate life’s special moments with friends and it provides an opportunity to catch up. In addition to this, I have some friends I always celebrate birthdays with. This usually only happens with a few friends in my life, but it insures that I have non-kid time with those friends at least a few times a year.

-Friendships change with time aka. I can’t be committed to everyone deeply all at the same time- As I mentioned before, my group of consistent friends is smaller than ever before. Less free time has meant less deep friendships. I am super social and there are many people I would love to see more often, but I purposely hold myself back from planning dates with all the people I’d like to hang out with. I have to make myself FOCUS on the friendships I feel God wants me to pour more deeply into. With that said, I do look out for newcomers.  I know how hard it is to be new and not know anyone. When I moved here, I mostly only knew Gretchen. She let me come to her house every day for awhile because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. That was such a blessing to me and I try to make it a point to welcome newcomers who cross my path in the same way. This can be time-intensive (in a totally positive way) for awhile. Eventually newcomers make other friends, too, and I don’t see them as much. This is okay with me and this ebb and flow idea is how I approach most friendships in my life.

-Do it when you can and do it right away- This is something I find helpful for keeping up with the people I love but don’t see or talk to often. If there is a person on my heart I haven’t been in contact with, I just write a quick note or email. I try not to put it off until I have time to write something long because then it never happens. It doesn’t have to be a full update to be meaningful. Just a note that says, “This reminded me of you….” or “I was laughing about the time when we….” tends to really encourage people.

 

Writer’s cramp…the gift that keeps on giving! July 1, 2009

To back-up the effectiveness of the idea Gretchen shared in the last post: my favorite wedding gift (except the beautiful quilt my mom made us…duh.) was my Red Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer.  It was a gift given to me by a group of close to 20 friends who joined efforts to buy us (me!) something that I wanted most off our list.  It was such a wonderful surprise to open and I think of that group of friends every time I use it (no joke…!).  :-)

One of my other favorite gifts was a little metal recipe box that looked awfully unassuming on the outside…then I opened it and saw, literally, a hundred handwritten recipes, each with a Bible verse and a cute sticker on it.  Each recipe was a dish that was a tried and tested recipe from this seasoned mom’s kitchen.  As their family lived on an extremely tight budget, it was the only gift they gave us and we knew that this gift was truly a labor of love.  MANY of the recipes we received in this little garage find box are now part of our family’s menu.  Many are popular potluck dishes and many more are made with ingredients that are friendly to a tight food budget.

Any wedding/bridal shower I’ve attended since, my gift has always included several recipies I believe that the bride will love and appriciate.  I feel so lame when my hand starts cramping up at 10 recipies or so…and then I think of the amazing gift we were given and I write a few more.

IMG_3465 IMG_3466I’ve even been quoted as saying it was one of the “5 Things I’d Grab if the House was on Fire.”  :-)

 

Practical Polly and her friends May 22, 2009

Filed under: Extending Kindness,Hospitality,Keeping inspired,Mothering — Leah @ 6:00 am

Last installment (I promise)!  :-)

Super practical ways to love, by serving, your friends- here they are:

  • Offer to watch her kids while she heads out on her own for a few hours.
  • Bring dinner, for no real reason…besides simply that you love them!
  • Provide date-in-a-box for a friends who just had a baby.
  • When you show up for a play date, bring the other mom’s favorite coffee drink for her.
  • Plan a girl’s night and teach a skill you’d like to share (scrapbooking, sewing, a craft you’ve recently done…)
  • It’s spring!  Head to a nearby plant sale and use some leftover grocery money to pick up a few inexpensive plants for your friends.

More ideas?  Leave us a comment and we’ll add ’em to the post!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

 

Real life hostess February 26, 2009

Filed under: Hospitality — Kate @ 6:00 am

It is always a challenge to be a good hostess when you have a few million toys scattered around on the floor after a good day (or few minutes) of toddler play!  While I would love to have ALL the toys picked up and out of sight, it doesn’t always happen, nor does it have to!  I DO encourage my kids to help me get the house ready for company.  This means giving my 2 and 3 year old SPECIFIC tasks to do in the hour before company arrives … pick up a certain toy/book and return it to it’s place and repeat until at least the area around the door is clear :), carry plates (one at a time) to the table, wait and look out the window at the appointed time of arrival.

I also try to let the kids know of our plans early in the day so that we can anticipate the arrival of guests.  This helps our day to be focused on others and not just on ourselves … thinking about what the other people (big or small) might like for a special dessert and how we can clean up so that we have places to sit and talk or play together.

If I have actually gotten everything ready a few minutes before company is due to arrive, I like to try to engage the kids in a short quiet activity (read to them or turn on a book on CD.)  This is helps my kids to know that they are not forgotten even when Mommy and Daddy are talking with the company and it helps me to sit and ‘be still’ for a moment!

All that said, we have plenty of stories of welcoming friends into a home filled with toys on the floor and children in tears.  The last 2 times some of our good friends have come over Zoe has had a bloody nose and been in tears.  (She was so excited to see them this last time that I think she tried to jump out the window!)  Things like that just happen and I’m learning to make the best of it :)

 

Keep it Simple :) February 25, 2009

Filed under: Hospitality — Gretchen @ 12:56 pm

Hosting people is one of my absolute favorite things ever!  I love having people over.  I am not really gifted in elaborate parties or themes or decorating but what I really like is just getting to listen and serve people.  I am not a very good conversationalist or extremely outgoing so a lot of how I love people is through serving and listening.  Here are a few things I do or think through in regards to quick hostessing opportunities (which happen quite often at my house with my husband :)

  • Like I said I am not an elaborate planner but I always have basic food on hand to prepare for extra guests.  I know the things I make regularly and I always have extra on hand. This means if you come to my house you are not likely to get the latest recipe out there but you will get a decent meal :)  I usually always have stuff for chicken alfredo, spaghetti, or stir fry.  With these in mind I can accommodate a lot of different food allergies.
  • When I bake I try to make extras to freeze.  This comes in very handy for last minute hostessing.
  • I always try and set out a carafe of water and cups so people can simply help themselves.
  • I generally have a plan for my own housekeeping.  I always try and unload the dishwasher in the morning first thing so that I can just be throwing dishes in the dishwasher all day and they never pile up.  I have learned to always seize opportunities to clean in stead of waiting for big cleaning days.  I try and do a little when I can in between stuff.  This makes for a stress free visit with guests.  My house is not always clean but if I do the basics clean up goes a lot faster and is a lot less scary.
  • One last tip not mentioned yet is spending lots of time with your kiddos before people come over.  This is another reason I try to clean in little bits throughout the week :)  I have found that good playing with my kids prior to people arriving goes a long way when we have guests over.  They are much more content to play by themselves if it is adults or entertain little ones or just be less needy.

I really enjoy providing a place for people to come hang out and enjoy making people food :)  It is one way I feel like I can serve others.  The biggest thing I have found that blesses others in when you have your house and relationships in order.  This is not always possible, but when people walk into a calm, peaceful home they feel welcome.  When I say “calm” I mean one that is free from relational strife not noise  or playing :)