If you come to my house….

If you come to my house for dinner…

You can expect to be given a home cooked meal made of real food…but, it’s very likely that there will be dirty dishes in the sink.
Expect to be eating largely organic, free-range, and grass fed as the case may be…but my toddler may sing ABCs during dinner, or reach clear across the table for bread, or roll his toy car on your back.
Expect that I will have good beer (usually local) that you can enjoy…but, you may be dragged to the playroom to play cars or asked to hold the baby for a bit.
Expect to be heartily welcomed…but, you may be asked to leave early because we aren’t afraid to kick people out because we’re tired.
Expect casual, comfortable and usually messy.
Expect laughter and conversation…but expect it to be interrupted by kids and seasoned with awkwardness now and then.

If I invite you to my home for dinner…

I expect you to play with my kids at least a little.
I expect you to make yourself at home – take your shoes off, help yourself to water, beer, raw milk or whatever other drinks are around, change the music if you want.
Excuse the mess and pardon the kids chaos.

I love having people over, i would usually much rather have people in my home than go to someone else’s, but I’m not a Martha Stewart type of host. When I invite someone over I invite them into a little bit of myself – I am messy, and unfinished and so is my home. I am not interested in facades or perfection, I can’t maintain them. I am interested in friendship, I am interested in building authentic community.

I will welcome you into my home on the day when my kids took extra long naps, and I am refreshed and prepared, and on the day when I only got two hours of sleep and didn’t have time to clean. I will welcome you in on the days when I’m energized and creative and the days when I just can’t snap out of my negative funk. Sometimes I might ask all the right questions and we’ll have a great conversation. Other times I might be tired and awkward and we may end up just watching an episode of Friends or Modern Family together.

So, come on over. Come in and take a seat. Breathe. Relax. I won’t pretend if you won’t. Welcome to the mess, the chaos, the unfinished work in progress. Welcome to my home.

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

A Salad Party

Last night we hosted our first real dinner party since before Thaddeus was born. I had been looking forward to it all week and I wasn’t disappointed.

Bryan and I have always loved opening our home and sharing a meal with friends. The first year we were married we had a standing open door policy every Thursday night. Thursday nights all our friends knew that we would make a big dinner and they were welcome to join us if they wanted. When we moved to Prague we dropped the weekly open dinner, but continued to regularly invite a variety of people over for meals. Since having Thaddeus though we haven’t really done this at all and I have missed it a lot. So, tonight feels really significant to me – in a way it feels like coming back home to something I love, that I momentarily set down.

There’s been a lot of that lately – a lot of stirrings in me to return to former loves. During my pregnancy I sort of set aside many of my hobbies, interests, and former passions. I don’t know why but pregnancy and the transition into motherhood felt all encompassing for me. So, blogging, writing, photography, cooking, health, yoga, reading, and entertaining all sort of fell by the way side. Now they are calling to me again. So, tonight feels like opening a door to these former interests and saying, “Yes, come in again. I’ve missed you.”

So, what did we do for our entry back into dinner parties? A salad party. Ok, I know that there are probably some people out there who would think this sounds a little lame, but believe me it was awesome!

Basically Bryan and I provided lettuce, salad dressing options and homemade bread. We asked everyone else to bring one thing to contribute to a salad for dinner. I think everyone brought more than one thing though, and we ended up having such a great variety and a really beautiful salad. Our salad had three types of nuts, three different cheeses, tomatoes, apple, dried cranberry, and bacon all atop a salad of three different kinds of lettuce. YUMMY! For desert we had everyone bring a fruit and we made a big fruit salad and topped it with homemade whipped cream and a drizzle of honey. Strawberries, coconut, pineapple, banana, mandarin oranges, candied ginger – Even more yummy!

My favorite thing about this was that it was so communal. Everyone contributed whatever they had or wanted to offer. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about how some of the flavors would go together at first (apple and tomato?) but in the end it was delicious. Everything came together to create a beautiful colorful tapestry of flavors. To me this is a beautiful little picture of the body of Christ.

We all are so different and unique. Sometimes we aren’t sure if we really have something to contribute to the body or the kingdom, but we all do. Each and every one of us adds a unique flavor to the salad. Each and every one of us makes the kingdom “taste better” through our involvement. Even if we think that we might not “go together” well , often we’d be surprised that our “flavors” mix just perfectly to create exactly what the salad needs to take it to the next level. As I ate my salad I couldn’t l help but think about all that.

The other great thing about this dinner party was it didn’t cost much. In fact it may have been the cheapest dinner party we ever hosted. All Bryan and I had to buy for it was some lettuce, and whipping cream, and yeast. We already had everything else for bread and a whole jar of Czech honey at home to contribute. Everything else for the dinner came from everyone else. And since everyone only brought a few things it shouldn’t have been very expensive for any of them either. I really thought it was a great way to divide the cost of a big dinner, so that it was really manageable for everyone. These days that’s a big plus around here.

So, next time you’re thinking of a doing a dinner party feel free to steal this idea. You can’t really go wrong with a great big salad! And you can use this idea over and over – each time you do it your salad will turn out completely unique and different from the last time.

What are some of y our favorite dinner party meals?? Or what things are you picking up again that you’ve set aside for a while?

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)