How to find your Village + your People

Two out of state moves, several different cities and neighborhoods resulted in seven houses in less than ten years. No matter how many miles between old home and new, it was easy to feel uprooted and disconnected for awhile, missing my old tribe…my Village. I’ve always wanted community and solidarity similar to what we see on TV. You know, like Friends and other shows and sitcoms we all grew up with and love.

I want what Anne of Green Gables pined for when she said:

Marilla,” she demanded presently, “do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?

”A—a what kind of friend?”

”A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life.

When God created us, He built us for relationship. Genesis 2 shares that “It is not good for man to be alone”. It’s why He created Eve in the first place, so Adam would have a companion. Someone to share life with.

Motherhood, particularly moms of young children, can feel especially isolated and lonely. There are times when I’m so desperate for others to say “me too” and “so been there”!

We need our people, right?

So how to we find this Village, these bosom friends?

As much as I’d love to share a secret code word to induce friends to suddenly fall from the sky, the honest truth is it takes intentionality. Our latest move brought us to Denver and even after being here several years, it occurred to me one day that I was still missing “my people”.

I had surface conversations at soccer games and at the park. I was in a MOPS group and Bible Study. I’m not really a small-talk kind of girl. Those conversations don’t fill me. I craved friendships where I could authentically share all of life: times of tears and struggle, times of jumping for joy…or even simply because I found the cutest pair of shoes on clearance!

I was doing all the things. But not THE thing.

I wasn’t opening up my door.

There were a million reasons why I wasn’t. We have six kids and our home never seems clean enough, picked up enough. We were in the middle of remodeling and things weren’t as I felt they should be to invite ladies in. As much as it makes me cringe to say it, I realize now I was afraid I’d be judged that I didn’t live the perfect life I portray on Instagram.

As I was doing my devotions one morning though, my eyes happened upon a verse that I hadn’t noticed before. And God used it to burn straight into my heart.

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.
— Acts 28:30

While Paul rented a house in Rome for two whole years, he lived with an open door policy, welcoming all who came to see him. He invited them in, he served them, and poured into them.

That, I decided, is what I must do.

I thought back at homes where I felt most fed, most loved, and was surprised when it occurred to me that it wasn’t necessarily when someone set out homemade snacks on vintage china. It wasn’t the most beautifully decorated, spotless house. It was rather the homes where I felt like I could cozy into their couch with a glass of lemonade, not terrified to ruin something if a touch splashed onto a cushion or carpet.

It was less about how the home looked and more about the heart that pulsed within it.

I decided to stop waiting for ladies to invite me over and begun to invite them, instead. I decided my home was enough.

I invited women for coffee, playdates, lunch, Bible study, book club, cocktail parties, and anything else I could think of. During the warm summer months, I invited them to have dinner in our backyard. Eight to twelve each time, I asked women I knew and wanted to know, purposefully combining women who had never met one another.

I reached out to moms I’d met through school or sports, a woman I seemed to always run into at the grocery store, the random girl I clicked with while chatting at the gym. I even invited the neighbor down the street who I’d never actually met because she always drives into her garage and immediately puts the door down.

As an introvert, it’s sometimes hard. It’s putting myself out there with the chance of someone not being interested. But living prayerfully that Christ would bring the people He wanted to place into my path and deciding to be ok with feeling uncomfortable has brought the most incredible Village of all.

It’s being willing to dive in past the surface conversations, looking them in the eye and sharing the real stuff. Ask questions, lots of questions. Show the ladies you invite in that you really want to know them. I’m not saying invite a semi-stranger into your home and dive head first into their personal business. Let it be organic. Pray the moment you see her drive up, while you pour her cup of coffee, as you sit down at the kitchen table. Pray Christ spurs conversation so you may get to know one another at a deeper level.

My Village looks nothing like the cast of Friends because it isn’t based on a small group of like-minded individuals. Instead, it reaches much, much further.

Because I decided to open my door, my Village spans cultural, socio-economic and generational borders. Most of my closest friends may be moms, yes…because we’re in similar seasons of life and conversation is easy. But other women who are as dear to me as family are very different than I. We like different things, have different backgrounds, and even have different first-languages. These are my People. My Tribe, my Village.

We learn from one another as we share life together, live authentically and in community.

We all have doors…will you open yours?

Take Joy,

Teresa

opening up our door to our neighborhood (+ tips so you can, too!)

Never having lived in a neighborhood where we’ve actually known our neighbors, we wanted to change that. Our family decided we wanted to live life with those in our community, rather than drive into our garage and put the door down behind us, shutting out any chance of getting to know anyone.

Three cross country moves and various neighborhood and city changes means we’re now in our seventh house in ten years of marriage. Finally though, with tons of transition tucked into our belts, we’re itching to settle and grow roots…but that’s something that needs to be done both organically and with intentionality.

Deciding we simply wanted to open our doors, we begun just inviting people in. My first Book Club gathering was two weeks after moving into this house and we laughed and chatted amidst boxes that surrounded our living room.

No one cared one bit.

Shortly after that, I invited in ladies from our neighborhood, moms from the kids school, sports, and church. I wanted to give busy women an excuse to dress up and I called it, a “Let’s Party Like Girls” night (click here to see year 1 + year 2)

Last summer, we had dinners in our backyard, calling each one “An Evening to Nourish”. Faith, age, and station in life didn’t matter at these evenings.

I didn’t seek to combine a group of like-minded ladies, but rather went out of my little bubble and welcomed in women I both knew well and really wanted to know well. Most of the time, I sat around our table with women who had never met one another…but they certainly knew each other by the end of the evening. Phone numbers and hugs were exchanged at the end of each Nourish event.

We felt nourished. Not only because our bellies were full, but because our hearts were.

Lately, the desire to be more intentional about inviting families into our home has been on our hearts and decided doing Outdoor Movie Nights would be a great way to begin. We’ve hosted tons of them these past few months (so many in fact, that we decided to make a quick diy screen rather than hanging a sheet on the fence)!

I think we've been able to host so many though, because we decided that although we’re big fans of going all out for parties and events, something quick, simple and manageable needed to be reality. I needed to remind myself that if I made a big deal out of planning, it wouldn’t end up happening very often.

The whole point was to get to know our community…not throw the bash of the century.

Not wanting to spend more than a handful of dollars on these evenings, I decided to reuse wooden pallets I’d accumulated for a big picnic we’d hosted this summer. Spreading them out around the backyard, we covered them with blankets or tablecloths or even a few yards of fabric I’d found a few years ago at Goodwill. I just used what I had. Knowing evenings are beginning to get chilly now that fall is on it’s way, I also put out extra blankets to wrap ourselves in (These grey fleece ones are from Ikea and cost $3.99 each).

Since we wanted as little prep as possible, we decided to forego using our microwave, and simply bought a big bag of pre-popped popcorn at the grocery store and poured it into brown paper lunch sacks. I didn’t have enough to fill every bag to the top, so I cut the bags down a bit…which was probably good anyway because most nights I end up throwing out a dozen half-eaten sacks anyway.

I love tossing fruit into a big pitcher or jar of water rather than serving kids soda because well…kids and soda equal insanity. They never seem to mind and it’s easier on my pocketbook anyway. Depending on our crowd, we usually put out some adult beverages too.

Doing as much beforehand as we can makes having people over even more manageable.

I often make my favorite slushy cocktail and slide them into the freezer a few days beforehand and shop our house for pillows and blankets, folding them into a pile the day before, so we don’t need to scurry around the house making sure we didn’t forget anything.

Target, Ikea, and Goodwill are my go-to stores if I end up feeling we need anything, but I’m generally a huge advocate in using what we have. Shop your house!! Don’t put out anything fancy that can’t be washed…remember, people are going to be eating and drinking while lounging on these things.

Have a blanket with stains?

Who cares, it’s going to have greasy popcorn spilled on it anyway.

The goal is for people to feel comfortable, that they can unwind. Being present in your home should be a breath of fresh air to their soul. Let them feel Jesus when around you. It’s not about everything matching.

It’s not about throwing a Pinterest-worthy event.

This is about hospitality being an avenue to minister to our community without them feeling we’re shoving Jesus down their throats.

Your home doesn’t need to be perfect. Your yard doesn’t need to be pristine. You may live in a rental or something you feel is too tiny to entertain well. But you know what?

Imperfection is authentic.

No one feels comfortable in so-called perfection anyway.

Let the love of God shine through us all as you open your homes to your neighborhood. Because you might be the closest thing to Jesus they’ve ever met.

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.
— Acts 28:30

Take Joy,

Teresa

5 fall entertaining ideas

ONE.

I absolutely love the idea of a Soup Bar!! Release yourself of the guilt of not having time to make the soup from scratch though, and simply purchase it pre-made from your favorite restaurant or grocery store. Once they're poured into soup tureens, no one will ever know the difference!

I have a tureen nearly identical to the one on the far left (see top photo), which was handed down years ago from my mom...but I see them all the time at Goodwill, too!

Places like HomeGoods and Amazon are also great sources (here are some timeless white ones) without spending big bucks.

Why not substitute bowls for mugs or even tea cups? It's so much easier to hold and sip while chatting with friends, especially if there are too many folks over to sit comfortably at the table. You don't even have to put out spoons, if you didn't want to!


TWO.

Table scape is like the frosting of the dinner party...and I love out of the box table decor.

Leave it to Elle Decor to give us ideas on how to use typical fall items and turn them as far from kitchy as possible! Just love these! Head here for a gallery full of additional ideas!


THREE.

I love that autumn means earthy, hearty food. Listen to the girls over at Apartment 34 share the key to a gorgeously simple table such as this one!

Create a humble feast. For our happy hour we decided to create the charcuterie board of champions. But again the task required little else than a power shopping trip at Trader Joe’s and an epic 3-foot long wood board. Cured meats, crackers, cheese, olives, pickles, fresh berries & figs, dried fruit, nuts and our little trade secret – fresh flowers created a truly stunning display. Piling everything high makes your board so pretty you almost don’t want to dig in and mess it all up. Almost.
http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-assemble-the-perfect-fall-cheese-board/

Head over to The Pioneer Woman as she guides us through her version of assembling the perfect fall cheese board!


FOUR.

Why not continue enjoying your backyard until it gets too chilly to do so! Like these ladies, I love bringing my indoor dining furniture outside for the evening. And seriously loving the greens and flowers just draped atop the plaid covered table.

How cute are these Champagne Pomegranate Cocktails? This Backyard Fall Campfire Party looks so seriously fun!


FIVE.

Speaking of plaid, I'm definitely going to remember this photo the next time I'm entertaining. These might be picnic blankets...but they may also be scarves! How many cozy plaid scarves do we have in our closets? Probably enough to cover a table with, right? Brilliant. Seriously fantastic. I just love it.


Do you have any fall entertaining ideas you'd like to share? Which of these is your favorite?

Take Joy,

Teresa

Slushy Blush Cocktails (recipe)

Since I've been sharing a lot about hospitality lately, I thought I'd share a quick little recipe for one of my favorite party drinks.

I'm a huge fan of doing as much as possible in advance of a party, so I love making these slushy cocktails in small mason jars a few days beforehand and place them in the freezer.

SLUSHY BLUSH RECIPE:

. 1 can frozen concentrated pink lemonade (thawed)
. 36oz pineapple juice (instead of mixing concentrate with water, use the juice)
. Vodka to taste.

. Combine into large mixing bowl, then with a ladle, spoon into individual jars (I used these from Walmart). Then place into the freezer. The alcohol doesn't freeze, but the juice does...making it slushy!

Serve in a basket or bucket with spoons or brightly colored paper straws!

That's it!!

Told ya it was easy!! They're a hit every time I serve them...bet they will be for you, too!

When (not if!!) you do have a little get together for some friends or neighbors, post your pics on Instagram and tag me on my hashtag #letspartylikegirls!! I can't wait to see your photos!!

TAKE JOY,

TERESA

Hosting Tips (to keep your sanity + make entertaining easy)

WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY TO MAKE SURE WE HAVEN'T JUST OPENED OUR HOMES, BUT WE HAVE OPENED OUR HEARTS? (an extension of last week's post: how to become the right kind of hostess)

Hosting Tips 

1. do things early

Do as much as you can the night before. I always try and cram too many tasks into a short amount of time, resulting in me becoming stressed and turning into a drill-sergeant as I bark orders to my family. Not my finest moment(s).

If you can't set the table early, at least stack your plates, serving dishes, napkins, and anything else you plan to use, on your buffet that morning, or the night before.

Use your crockpot! Even if you're making something which you may not typically use the slow cooker for (taco meat, for example), decide if it can be made early in the day and tossed into the crockpot to keep warm until dinnertime.

2. semi-homemade is fine!

I've given up on the idea that I can do everything on my own and from scratch. As much as I'd love to be Martha Stewart, even Martha isn't Martha! She has a TEAM to help her!

So it's MORE than ok to purchase something yummy in the deli or grocery store and transfer it to a favorite dish before folks arrive. Typically no one is the wiser, and even if they are...rarely do they care.

In fact, just last night I had ladies over for Petra (our prayer group). I set out wine, and a few little munchie-type snacks. Halfway through the night, a friend asked about the recipe for the cookies and guac.

My answer? "Haha weeeeell, the cookies are store bought dough I just slid into the oven before you arrived, and I added three extra avocados to the store bought guacamole...because the kids got into it and suddenly didn't look to be enough."

She looked at me relieved and said she was glad she asked, because she was feeling bad about her own hosting abilities. Uhhhh no, I assured her. I've had to give up on homemade everything a long time ago.

I do what I can, but a busy day and an afternoon full of kids, sports, and homework means pretty plates or bowls will have to make up for store bought anything.

3. be prepared

Keep a drawer or shelf with easy to grab items for when company stops by without much warning, or when your day goes awry and you don't have the time to prepare like you'd hoped!

In it, you could have a clean tablecloth (just toss it over the sticky, crumb covered table), fun napkins or a couple candlesticks and matches (so you don't have spend precious moments searching).

Try and always have some San Pellegrino or sparkling juice chilling in the fridge. And a cute glass or straw (most of my glasses are from Goodwill and straws are from Target).

And psst...I totally use bedsheets for tablecloths and wrapping paper for a table runner much of the time. Don't feel you need to spend money on a gorgeous table cloth.

4. greet

Greet your guests. Personally. Don't just yell, "Come on in! I'm in the kitchen!"

Take their coats and purses and either get them a drink, or show your guests where you've set out lemonade, wine, or whatever beverages you're serving.

Invite them into the space where everyone is gathering or where you're cooking so they can begin enjoying the evening, rather than being unsure where they should be.

5. leave it

Leave the dishes. Leave the mess...until AFTER everyone has gone. Where you spend your time while they're visiting is showing everyone what is actually of the most importance.

Feel free and clear the dishes when folks are finished eating and still chatting around the table, but drop them in the kitchen and come straight back.

Which is most important...a clean kitchen and full dishwasher...or the people sitting across the table from you?

6. accept help

Do #5 unless this happens. If someone asks to help...say YES!

If your guests want to assist as you finish preparing the meal or help you clean the kitchen afterward, don't be afraid to take them up on it!

Many hands make light work, right? You're not leaving your guests in the next room. Instead, you're engaging with them and having conversation while you complete your tasks and allow them to serve you as you had just served them.


Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully.

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help.

That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time.
— 1 PETER 4:7-11 . THE MESSAGE

Take Joy,

Teresa