What brings you joy? How do you celebrate life? The past few months I have been inspired by The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson and the 2014 – 2015 “HopeWriters” podcasts with Emily Freeman, Gary Morland, and Myquillyn Smith. Woven throughout their words, is the beauty and peace of celebrating and honoring the daily joys that God has provided in each of our lives. So often, we become too focused on and overwhelmed with our ever-growing to do lists, easy distractions of social media and entertainment, and anxieties of daily living. These women and men challenge listeners and readers to stop, savor, and enjoy. They provide valuable, practical advice on how to clear space to celebrate, but also provide ideas for how you, individually or as a family, may dive into the art of making memories, while glorifying God for the gifts and life He’s provided you. The largest take away from both sources that I personally gleaned is:
Each season is different. Know yourself and know your season. Find ways to celebrate that work best for you and your family in the specific season you are in. Be content with the resources you have, and use them wisely.
In this season, I began implementing the practice of celebrating through hosting themed meals. For me, I find so much satisfaction and happiness in bringing meals together with items I have never made before. I love pulling pretty dishes and cups out of the cabinet, playing music, and decorating with items from around my home. My husband and sister-in-law, who lives with us, love listening to music and eating new meals. We combined these passions to create Themed Meal Nights. These meals are an opportunity for us to spend quality time enjoying each other and the “culture” of the dish we are creating; however, we love to invite our friends into these times as well. We want this to be a way that our family is remembered or recognized — taking the time to stop, savor one another, and enjoy the sounds, tastes, and views of different countries, environments, entertainment, and people.
Themed Meals typically begin with music representing our theme for the night. The music travels through our small apartment as I move around our kitchen preparing Main Dishes, Side Dishes, and Desserts. As the food is cooking, I search our cabinets looking for the perfect glasses, plates, bowls, or serving utensils to best fit the theme. ( I feel the need to explain — I do not have fancy china or dishes or silverware that I spent a lot of money on. All of our dishes are from Goodwill, hand-me downs, or gifted to us at random occasions. They are mismatched, and some are faded or cracked. That is okay! Our dishes have character and bring their own stories into our themed nights.) I then scurry around our home pulling out blankets or quilts for makeshift tablecloths, dusty, fake flowers, decorative knick-knacks, and candles. I busy myself setting the scene for our meal. The joy bubbles over inside of me. Finally, the food is prepared and placed on the table in front of each person.
We try something new, laugh over the meal, find joy and contentment in these everyday objects made beautiful, and rest. It is a time of celebration and no matter which season we are in, we can find ways to celebrate. He has given us good gifts in one another and the lives we share together.
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)
North African themed meal featuring a lovely quilt and hand-made pottery from friends.
After watching the Royal Wedding, my husband (Jake) and I enjoyed a lovely brunch of salmon, couscous, eggs, toast, watermelon, and blueberries. (Notice the blueberries are being served out of a Pioneer Woman measuring cup… I thought it was sweet and pretty, though.) All served with glasses of Sunny D. (Each glass is from bachelorette weekends of two sweet friends.)