You guys, I'm so so excited about sharing the first of many interviews I have lined up on the topic of hospitality. In each interview, I've chosen a specific topic to ask about. In this interview, I discuss how to make family dinners a priority with my darling mom!
I thought it only fitting that the first interview be with my mom since she is the person who has influenced my views on hospitality the most (you can read more about that in my post on my heart behind Feast & Dwell). Growing up we did family dinners almost every single night. We all knew that come 6pm, we would be gathered around the table and sharing about our days. This is something I completely took for granted but now appreciate so much. Now that my brother and I are grown and have forged our own paths for our lives, I look back on those dinners and cherish them because I truly believe it is one of the elements that made our family still so close to this day - despite the miles that are between us now. Those dinners set a foundation for our relationships that I'm beyond grateful for.
To give you a little introduction to my mom, first you need to know that she's the most loving and thoughtful human I know. She loves Jesus more than anything else which I believe is one of the reasons her love is so great. She has been such a great example to me of what a good wife and mother looks like, and now she is such a wonderful mother-in-law to Will and Gigi to Liam. I have loved being her daughter and am so thankful that I can also call her my best friend. Below is a little interview where she shares her thoughts on hospitality and family dinners!
- How do you define hospitality?
I think hospitality can be best defined as sacrificial love. Paul describes it well in Philippians 2 when he writes, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others."
- What has shaped your view of hospitality?
God's word, the Bible.
- Who has been the best example of hospitality in your life?
My mother loved others well. Growing up, we didn't have others in our home for a meal often, but when we did, my mother made sure that each guest was well cared for. On a daily basis, she provided hospitality to our family by offering wonderful home cooked meals (just thinking about her cobblers make my mouth water) and a safe, calm environment to nurture our growth.
- Why are family dinners important to you?
When I was growing up, my dad would arrive home at 5:30 each day and we would sit down as a family and have a meal together. Naturally, when I got married, Kevin and I did the same thing. When our children came along, it was a habit that was already established. Dinner is an important time for family to reconnect and encourage one another after a hectic day. Also, small children learn about communication and nutrition around the dinner table.
- How do you make family dinners a priority in your home?
My children are all grown and don't live under my roof, but we still enjoy family dinners when we are together. When they were younger, it was easy to make family dinner each night a priority. When they were in middle school and high school, they were both involved in sports and eating together became more difficult at times. On busy sport days I prepared meals in a slow cooker and sometimes it would be 9:00pm or later before we sat down for a meal together after a sporting event. It was well worth the effort!
It can be easy to go through the motions when it comes to eating together regularly. How did you make dinners an intentional time?
1. I came to the table prepared to ask open ended questions. Instead of asking, "Did you have a good day?" I would ask "What was something good that happened today?". After their response, I would try to dig deeper to find out why it was good. This allowed me to get to know my children better, and it helped them learn to communicate their feelings. This can be difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.
2. I looked for opportunities for teachable moments, For example, if someone told a story about a classmate that lied or cheated, we used that as an opportunity to teach about the benefits of honesty and trustworthiness.
3. We celebrated happy occasions or accomplishments. We had a "you are special today plate" that would make an appearance when a family member mastered a difficult task or had a birthday.
4. We tried to listen to one another without interrupting or judging.
Remember: You will not have a perfect conversation each meal. Some nights we just struggled to get through dinner without a fight! However, other times we all walked away from the table feeling loved and encouraged by our family.
- What is your favorite aspect of family dinners?
I love family dinners because I love being with my family! I enjoy knowing about their hopes and dreams as well as their hurts and frustrations. It is a time to celebrate victories and mourn losses together. Also, we all enjoy a great meal and these days it always includes dessert!
What advice do you have for people who want to make family dinners a regular occurrence in their home?
1. Make it a priority at least one or two nights a week.
2. Don't stress about the food. It doesn't have to be gourmet, but do try to choose food that everyone will enjoy.
3. Let children help choose menu and help prepare the meal.
4. Don't have unrealistic expectations for young family members. As they grow, they can participate more in the conversations and sit at the table longer.
5. Relax and enjoy making memories with your family!
On my blog, I talk a lot about making your house a refuge. What are some ways you make your home a refuge for your family?
1. Make your home a safe, comfortable space to live in.
2. Be quick to listen and slow to judge.
3. Have fun together: watching movies, playing games, building forts etc.
4. Help each other work through difficult situations.
5. Love one another unconditionally.
- What is your favorite dinner recipe?
This really depends on the season. In fall and winter, I really enjoy making a big pot of soup, chili or stew and I like to braise ribs and serve them over mashed potatoes or polenta. In the summer, I prefer grilled salmon or chicken with a lot of summer vegetables or a chopped salad. And of course, tacos are always a good choice any time of year when you live in Texas. I chose to bake a beef roast for this meal. This was a standard weekly meal when I was a child. At the time, I grew tired of eating it every week, but now it brings back sweet memories each time I make it.
- What are a couple of simple things you do to prepare for people coming into your home?
1. Clean, if needed
2. Cut fresh flowers from the yard and put in vases
3. Light a candle or two (Feast and Dwell candles are my favorite, of course)
4. Prepare a meal or snack
5. For overnight guests, I enjoy leaving a basket of treats in their room
- What's one thing in your home you can't live without?
I've really enjoyed having a Vitamix to make nut butters, pestos, salsas etc.
- What is your go-to playlist when you have people over?
Kevin is the music guy in this house.
I can answer that last question for y'all since my dad and I talk about music and Pandora stations on the regular. My dad will either play worship music or put on some oldie but goodies like Eagles or Chicago Radio on Pandora - all of which I absolutely love.
I love where my mom mentioned about getting kiddos involved in the dinner prep. When we were growing up, I remember going to the library and picking out a kids' cookbook and we would have to pick meals to cook at least once a week during the summer. I cherish that so much now because it gave me a love for cooking - even if I didn't know it at the time! It also made it fun to sit down at dinner and watch as everyone ate what I had created.
What I love about this interview with my mom is she gives practical steps we can take to make dinners a priority in our home and be intentional with our family members. This whole idea of family dinners can seem daunting and impossible (especially with kiddos in the mix!), but it's something that I truly believe will positively impact your lives and your kids' lives (take it from someone who has done it as a kid and now an adult!). If you don't have kids, this is something you can start making a habit so when you do, the expectation of family dinners will already be in place.
I'm so thankful for the wisdom my mom shared with us and I know I definitely took a couple of notes from this interview! I hope you find this helpful for you and your family as well. I will be sharing a couple more tips from my mom with subscribers, so make sure you are subscribed if you would like to receive those!
Below is the dinner recipe for the pot roast my mom talks about above. This recipe brings back a lot of memories for me as well - especially Sundays after church. I can still remember walking through the door after church and instantly smelling this delicious meal.
Easy Pot Roast
- 1 beef chuck or shoulder roast (I estimate about 1/2 pound per adult)
- 1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (depends on how thick you want your gravy to be)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Place roast in a roasting pan.
- Mix the soup mix, tomato sauce, and water. Mix well and pour over roast in oven safe pan/pot. Bake at 325° for about 3 hours.
Note: When my mother made this she would serve it with rice and a vegetable. My favorite side dish was fresh green beans from our backyard garden.
When I make this meal, I add potatoes, carrots and onions to the pan with the roast. Parsnips or celery would also be a nice addition.