Thursday Thoughts: Hospitality...

I'm going to be ambitious and do something every Thursday called "Thursday Thoughts". Maybe its not actually ambitious because it can be about whatever I want since its just my thoughts. I guess I'm just committing to using the same blog title every week and that's not ambitious at all except that it means I have to have at least one blog post every week and it will happen on Thursday. I'm sure you're all super excited about that now that I've over-explained for a full paragraph. 

Anyway... to kick it off I'm focusing on hospitality. I love having people in my home. As a certified introvert I prefer small groups and what could be better than hand-picking the group of people you will be hanging out with in that small group. I like the IDEA of going to gatherings at other places and I love being invited to things, but it always brings up some anxiety and then I turn into a wallflower at the actual event and forget how to make all the mouth sounds. When I go TO a gathering I always end up hovering around the food or playing with the dog in the corner. Having people in MY home is my jam.

Hospitality seems to be a dying art. Jim has an old recipe book that belonged to his Grandmother and it details several dinner parties, luncheons, and other events that she hosted complete with menus, seating arrangements, and table decorations. She was an artist so she even doodled in the book to make notes about how everything should be laid out on the table. I have gone through that book over and over because its a wealth of information about showing intentional hospitality. She thought about what would make her guests feel taken care of and loved by way of the food she prepared and the table she set and the flowers she used as centerpieces. That's what I want, too.
I love the note that this friend included inside the recipe book when gifting it to her "very cherished friend". What a gift to be considered "altogether lovely."
These newspaper clippings with hostess tips are classic. Instructions for the maid...
A couple of luncheon menus. The centerpiece for the top gathering was to be red roses & yellow narcissus. So lovely. There were also several pages of lunch menus that were hosted for the "Club Girls." That made me so happy to know she had some "girls" that were a regular part of her life. I can just imagine them sipping coffee and chit chatting in the parlor.  
This page brought some confusion because Jim's grandmother's name was Lucille, so we wondered if originally this had belonged to his great grandmother and was then passed down to his grandmother. I would dearly love to know what the announcement had been... engagement, baby on the way, sweet 16/coming out party??? Regardless, its so wonderful. Please note that in the middle of the page it says the butter was to be made into roses.

It's interesting to me that having people over has become so important to me because it wasn't something my parents did much as I was growing up. We had family over for holidays, but my parents didn't host dinner parties or invite their friends into our home frequently. Coming of age in the Martha Stewart era opened my eyes to the details of hostessing, and I can get all up in some details. Intricately folded cloth napkins - yes. Fun table runners - yes. Place cards - yes. Centerpieces - YESSSSSS. All of those details can send me into a black hole of hostessing. I want my guests to feel loved and cared for just like Jim's grandmother did and sometimes I end up thinking more details = more love. Usually it only = $$$ and scrambling at the last minute because I fail to take into account how long it actually will take to implement all the details.

I think Martha Stewart Living Magazine (MSLM) was the precursor to Pinterest. I had a subscription to MSLM when I was in college. Talk about uncool. But, I saved every single issue for years and dog-eared the pages with centerpiece ideas I liked, sample menus (even though at that time I had no clue how to cook anything), theme ideas, table decor, invitation samples, etc. I will admit that some of my early attempts at hospitality fell flat because I forgot to focus on the people and got too wrapped up in the details. Prior to one particular party I hosted, I cooked and cleaned myself into pure exhaustion and was completely unable to truly enjoy the party itself. My house was clean and the food was great, but I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. I've learned to let some of those details go.

Way back in 2011 I read a blog post by Lisa-Jo Baker over at (in)courage about Hospitality. Her words have resonated with me ever since. 
"Big hospitality is a matter of the heart and not the architecture."
 One of the commenters on that post broke down the difference between hosting and showing hospitality and I loved it. She said "Hosting is look at me and what I have and have done. 
Hospitality is look at how the Lord has blessed me, please let me share with you."
This is the whole crux of the matter. Being a blessing. I want people to feel loved when they enter my home and even more loved when they leave.

Over the last 10 years or so we've hosted dinners, brunches, parties, wine tastings, book clubs and bible studies in our home. The whole "matter of the heart and not the architecture" thing struck a cord with me because we do not have a big home perfectly set up for entertaining. We have a 2 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow. Our kitchen is a decent size, but the size is fairly irrelevant when you consider the fact that it was last updated in the 1970s and there is barely any usable counter space. Even still, I've made a lot of food for people I love in that kitchen and I'm so thankful that I didn't let the architecture keep me from having people in my home.

Jim and I are part of an awesome Supper Club. Five couples around the table every could of months for some awesome conversation. Perfection. We rotate the hosting duties and the first time we hosted Supper Club at our house I went straight to Jim's grandmother's old recipe book for inspiration. I wanted to create the whole menu from her recipes and it was so awesome paging through the different options. I ended up making stuffed pork chops, but came so close to trying the Jellied Tuna, just because it sounded so disgusting.
These pork chops were DELICIOUS!! 
I LOVE that this is written on the inside of an old envelope. My grandmother used to do the same thing. 
The dinner that night was great, but more than anything I loved having everyone in our home. In a larger sense, the individuals and couples we collectively share a table with become a special part of who we are. There's something sacred about breaking bread together. I am obsessed with Shauna Niequist's book Bread & Wine. In the introduction she wrote,
"What makes me feel alive and connected to God's voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it's the way I was made, and I believe it matters."
After I read that, I underlined it and wrote out in the margin "Me, too!!!" because I truly feel the EXACT. SAME. WAY. About two years ago, I was wrestling with something I thought maybe God was wanting me to do. I wasn't sure if I was hearing him right and I wasn't sure if I was willing to step out on faith just yet and then he spoke deep into my spirit and assured me by showing that He had already set the wheels in motion and all I had to do was open my door to the people around me. All I had to do was share my love with others and invite people in. Literally. So, I did. And I haven't stopped. And it's been such a blessing. Amen.


H-E-I, N-D-L

So, the title of this blog is Heindl Haven. Heindl is my last name. And, no one knows how to spell it. I may have made a mistake in choosing a blog title that no one can spell. Please take a moment to bookmark this site, or you can subscribe via email so you never have to try and find it on your own again. Don't we all need a little helping hand from time to time?

I know with all certainty that people have a hard time spelling the name Heindl because for several years now I have been keeping a list of all the various spellings I've seen. That's about the nerdiest thing I've ever typed, right there. Actually, its a cute little thing my mother-in-law and I started doing years ago. She sends me any new ones she sees and I add it to the list.

Every time I have to give my last name I spell it out... H-E-I, N-D-L. Inevitably, the person I'm spelling it for will add an "E" somewhere at the end. D-E-L or D-L-E and then I have to correct them that its just D-L. I've had a couple of people question whether or not I was sure it was correct with just D-L. Ummmm... yes. I'm sure I know how to spell my last name.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here is the comprehensive list of all the wrong ways to spell Heindl.
  1. Heindel (SEE! The aforementioned D-E-L!)
  2. Jeindl (Fancy with a "J"!! After this one I started telling people to call me JJ - Jennifer Jeindl. I do love me some alliteration!)
  3. Hyndel (ooooooooh a "Y" AND the D-E-L.)
  4. Hiendl (So close with the ei reversal.)
  5. Heindle (There's that D-L-E.)
  6. Hiendel (we're getting further and further away here.)
  7. Hindyl (Drop the E and add a stray Y.)
  8. Hindle (Move the E to a new spot!)
  9. Hengel (The "G" in this one was a new twist.)
  10. Hyndyl (Two Ys feels very exotic.)
  11. Engle (I feel like this person wasn't even trying.)
  12. Linda Kurniawan (This one wasn't actually a misspelling of my name, but I put it on the list because it made me laugh. The local ice cream place, Graeter's, has a rewards card and when you get 100 points on your card you get a coupon for $5 off your next purchase. Well, we went to the drive thru one day to get ice cream for the family and we reached 100 points so they gave us a receipt with our $5 coupon on it. Except that the name on the reward account on the receipt was Linda Kurniawan and not Jennifer Heindl. I didn't notice it until we had driven away and it made me laugh and laugh to think that they messed my name up so badly that it wasn't even close. Maybe what made it so funny to me was that for a long time I would get my receipt from them and it would say Jem Heindl. Which made me think of Jem and the Holograms and how truly outrageous she was. And I loved that cartoon when I was younger and always wanted to be her. And here I was being called Jem. And then I logged onto my rewards account and fixed it one day because I worried I might be denied my ice cream due to my account being titled Jem and not Jen. This probably isn't funny to anyone but me. I'm so sorry. But, the person I really need to apologize to is Linda Kurniawan because I used her $5 coupon. I'm so sorry Ms. Kurniawan. Your next scoop is on me! Moving on...)
  13. Handhl (This feels like I should be a composer.)
  14. Heildl (An extra L. Interesting.)
  15. Heindi (Makes me think of Heidi.)
  16. Heinvil (We could be anvil salespeople.)
  17. Heind (This feels like a kick in the pants. Or at the very least a kick in the heind end. This post is really going south. Oh my gosh, I can't stop myself.)
  18. Klausing
  19. Hamilton
  20. Gillespie (these last three probably aren't true misspellings of Heindl, but we have received mail at our home address with the correct first name and correct address, but the last name was one of these. So random. It always brings a smile to my face when I think of my husband as Jim Gillespie. So, so random.)

As I was typing up this post I thought, "I wish I had a piece of mail to take a photo of that showed our name misspelled to prove that it really does happen." There was a stack of mail from the day before sitting on the desk next to me, so I decided to check it. Sure enough. There was a misspelling. 


Taking the Plunge

My oldest daughter, Audrey, teaches me a lot of things. Last summer, the two of us were at the swimming pool for a party with all the other kids from our church. She was merrily jumping off the diving board with abandon. Both the high and low dive. She and her friends were like a row of ducklings jumping into the water one after another. Time and time again they jumped into the water, swam to the ladder, climbed out and got back in line to jump again.

I was over on the other side of the pool deck sitting under the shelter chatting with another mom that I don't get to talk to very often. I was wearing my swim suit but I didn't plan on actually getting in the water. Audrey is a good swimmer and has spent every summer since birth in the pool at her Nana's house. I didn't need to hover and I definitely didn't need to keep watch over her while IN the pool.

After 45 minutes or so of jumping off the diving board, Audrey started toward me. She was dripping from having JUST climbed out of the water yet again. When she got over to me she paused briefly and then said, "I want you to jump off the diving board with me."

I'm sure every mother (every parent for that matter) has those moments where time sort of stops after your child asks you a question and you know that the answer you give is an important one. At that moment, I felt like my answer would be important. I tend to give a lot of answers like "maybe tomorrow" or "I'm not sure" or "next time." But, I could see in her eyes that she really wanted me to jump off the diving board that day. Right then. And there really wasn't any good reason for me to say no. So, I jumped. And I'm so glad that I did.

The lesson... 
When your baby girl asks you to jump off the diving board, don't say "next time." 
There might not be one.


Stay on the Platform

That time I didn’t follow my own advice…

Last fall I hosted a book club to read and discuss Jen Hatmaker’s latest book, For the Love. It was such an awesome time reading and laughing and thinking and considering and challenging and all that fun stuff. The book is awesome. If you haven’t read it, go order it now. If you’ve never heard of Jen Hatmaker, click over to her website, Twitter page, Insta account and read everything. I’ll wait…

Anyway, as part of the book’s launch, Jen did a video each week for four weeks talking about a section of the book and answering questions. During week two an awesome question came in that asked Jen how to handle teenagers and their particular brand of crazy. If you want to see Jen’s response, which is so brilliant, watch the video below. This question and Jen’s answer come in at the 17 minute mark if you want to go straight to the point of this blog post.
So, basically, Jen suggests that we let our kids go crazy, but we wisely keep ourselves from engaging in the crazy with them. Don’t let them drag us into the crazy. Stay planted on the platform while they take a trip on the crazy train and wait for them to get back. I don’t have teenagers, yet. I have a 10 year old, an 8 year old and a 1 year old. So, my thought was, “Well, when they meltdown I just won’t get all wrapped up in the emotion of it. I will remain calm. I’m an adult. I can do that. It will be so easy. It’s a revelation. I should share this wisdom with everyone in the book club because it will change my life and it will surely change their lives, too.”
Some of my book club girls and my favorite part of the introduction from For the Love.

The next time we met for book club I had the video all cued up to show my friends and we talked about it afterward and it was lovely. That night I was still thinking about this revolutionary advice and how I was now equipped to handle any highly charged situation with my kids. But, as I sat next to my husband on the couch I thought I should share the video with him. He needed this wisdom as well (even though he’s much better in general at not engaging in the crazy and staying on the platform). I was sure he would be so grateful for this enlightenment. He watched the 4 minute clip with one eye on the football game. He didn’t laugh at Jen’s humor because he’s a guy and whatever. But, he knew it was important to me, so he put on a good show of being interested and was mostly convincing.

I went to bed feeling very smug and self-assured because this one nugget of parenting wisdom was going to change everything. THE. VERY. NEXT. MORNING. my husband witnessed me not only buckling myself onto the crazy train but he also saw me figuratively dragging our child with me onto the ride. My CHILD was not the one to lose it first. He didn’t melt down… It was ME. As Jen Hatmaker would say, I "lost my crap" and the worst part was that it wasn't over something big. It was over a Scholastic book order form and the child holding the book order form was mercilessly hauled off the platform and onto the ride. I saw it happening, but the train was already pulling away from the platform. The best I could hope for was to keep my arms and legs inside the car at all times.

What in the world is wrong with me?? First of all it was 7:50am, we had to leave for school in 5 minutes and I hadn’t had enough coffee. In all seriousness, it’s like praying for patience. You know you’ll get a chance to practice your patience real quick when you ask God to give you some. I think I responded to the idea of Jen’s advice so eagerly because I knew it was something I struggled with. When my kids push my buttons, I get worked up more quickly than I do with any other person in my life. But the kicker was that it wasn't my kid who was pushing my buttons. He just wanted me to buy him a book. Sure, he waited until the last possible minute to remind me of the book order form, but its my job as a parent to handle those situations with some finesse. It could have become a "teachable moment" for him about responsibility, but instead I was the one who was taught. At the first test of my new wisdom, I turned the tables on myself and I was the one who lost it and acted crazy – in front of my whole family. Nice.

You know what they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. My husband called me later that afternoon to ask me how I was feeling after my ride on the crazy train. The good news is that I could recognize that it was happening. I didn’t do anything to stop it in that moment, but I knew it was happening. And, the great news is that I’ve done a better job since then. I’ve started to realize what triggers my reactions. When I start to step off the platform and get on the crazy train, I can more and more easily pull my foot back and plant it on the platform (usually). Maybe we can talk here in the Haven about what sets us off one of these days.

My advice to you… don’t let the book order form get the best of you.

P.S. The super cute woman in the video with Jen Hatmaker is her friend Jamie Ivey who also happens to have an awesome podcast called the Happy Hour (and Jen has joined her on three episodes of her podcast). I have LOVED every episode of the Happy Hour and highly encourage you to check it out.

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