Spring into Smoothies {Free eBook}

I am so excited to share this free eBook with you all! I and some other fabulous bloggers have been pulling together yummy smoothie recipes and have put them together into a free smoothie eBook as a thank you for reading!

With summer just around the corner and the days getting increasingly warmer, what sounds better then ice cold nutritious smoothies?

There are over 15 smoothie recipes from Anne from Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, Erin from The Humbled Homemaker, Mindy from The Purposed Heart, Nikki from Christian Mommy Blogger, Rachel from Day 2 Day Joys, and myself.

From yummy Straw-nana Berry Smoothies

to a Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

To smoothies with avocado, mint, pumpkin, cranberry, pear, peanut butter and more! These smoothies are delicious and so healthy for everyone in your family.

How to Download Your FREE Copy

Subscribe to Young Wife’s Guide via RSS feed and look for the download link at the bottom of your daily updates. See my directions for downloading free eBooks if you still need some help.

Overcoming The Fear of Hospitality

This is a guest post by Karen Yates at Finding Rest.

Two months ago, I hosted my first dinner party.  Ever.  To say I was nervous is an understatement.  I was 35 years old and petrified.

I never learned how to set a fancy table or make a 5 course meal.  I mean, where does a grown woman learn to be Martha Stewart, if it isn’t modeled to her when she’s young? 

And I never minded that I never learned.  I grew up in a small town, and my house was the house where all my friends gathered—we’d swim in our pool, play ping pong, play board games, watch movies, and eat buckets of popcorn.

I may not have been taught how to embellish a pasta, but my parents taught me to greet with a smile, have authentic conversation, say thank you and mean it.  And that was always enough.

Since moving to Orange County, though, I’ve watched many friends, most of whom are from ‘the OC,’ host incredible dinner parties, plating their food, drizzling with teriyaki glazes and fresh pineapple pinched with cinnamon.

Tables are decorated with seasonal centerpieces, votives, cloth napkins, fancy wines.  Evenings are themed and sometimes rated, and everything about the night, from the food to the conversation to the decoration is first-class, stunningly gorgeous.

I’ve wanted to reciprocate.  I’ve wanted to fit.  But I have an ill-equipped kitchen and zero confidence.  Not to mention, I’m trying to be myself—and myself serves frozen chocolate chips over a game of Settlers of Catan.

One thing I questioned, if this is how they show their love for me, how they ‘do’ friendship, (serving me a lovely meal in a lovely way), are they disappointed that I’ve never done anything remotely similar for them?

I’ve never meant to only be a taker.  I’ve just been afraid to try to play catch with a bunch of major leaguers.

{You know that scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding when Cameron Diaz sings karaoke and makes a fool of herself?  Yeah, I was pretty sure that was going to be me—except over cheap flatware.}

Two months ago, I decided enough was enough.  I was sick of feeling inadequate.  I spilled the beans to my neighbor—a confession—“I’ve never hosted a dinner party before.”  She was so encouraging, and so loving, and so not judgmental.  “I will help you,” she offered.  And the planning began.

I invited a few precious friends and their spouses for dinner.  (These friends I trusted would love me even if the whole thing flopped.)  I had diarrhea for 24 hours before hand (um, did I say that out loud?)—yes, I was that nervous.  I started setting up 8 hours early.  I recruited the help of my gracious neighbor, who loaned me place settings and serving platters and wine glasses.

I swept my kitchen and vacuumed floors.  She helped me set the table, roll the napkins, decorate centerpieces.  I planned an Italian menu, and suggested my guests bring with them something to read/share about what they’ve been learning.   And by the time they arrived, I was so overwhelmed with joy.  Because I did it.

35 years old is not too late to learn something new.

What insecurity are you up against as a mother or homemaker or friend?  What might you gain by trying something new or intimidating?

I want to encourage you—if I can do it, you can do it.  The first step is deciding to try.


Karen Yates is a writer, blogger, non-profit consultant, and homeschooling mother of 3.  A lover of sushi and Chopin, Karen writes about Christian culture, mommy parables, radical living, books, and finding rest in God.  She lives in southern California and blogs at www.KarenEYates.com.

A Beginner’s Guide to Biblical Hospitality

I love hospitality. If we don’t have people over for a week or two I start to get antsy. I start trying to figure out who we can have over. I happily prepare dinner, pick up the house, light the candles, get the kid’s toys out, and turn the music on. It has started to become second nature to me.

But this was not always the case. At one point, having even friends over was a big ordeal. I had to spend a couple days cleaning and preparing just for friends to come over.

Thankfully, the Lord has grown me over the course of our marriage and we find ourselves inviting people we barely know into our home 2-4 times a month!

Source
This did not happen over night. We started out slow. We slowly invited others into our home to get to know them and share a meal, and they started inviting us over.

Slowly we learned the tips and tricks to making hospitality run smoothly and be enjoyable for both us and our guests.

A Beginner’s Guide to Hospitality

Start Slow

Don’t jump into this thinking you have to invite your entire church over next week. If you are not comfortable or used to having people over that you don’t know very well, start out with a simple goal.

When we began doing hospitality we had decided that once a month was a good pace. Quickly we fell in love with hospitality and upped that commitment to twice a month.

Most months we were inviting others into our home weekly but our minimum always stayed at twice a month so that we didn’t feel like a failure if one month turned out busier than usual.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot!

Practicing hospitality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money! Many people feel that they don’t have room in their budget to have families over.

But don’t stretch yourself. Start with a commitment of having a family over once a month and serve pizza! Everyone loves pizza, your meal doesn’t have to be complex or fancy.

Many families will over to bring something to dinner. LET THEM! If they ask, let them bring a dessert or side dish.

Try out freezer cooking and make all your meals ahead, it can save a lot of money!

Be understanding

When first starting out practicing hospitality, it can quickly become overwhelming and sometimes emotions can run high. But try to be understanding when practicing hospitality.

Do you keep inviting a family over and they ALWAYS seem busy? Don’t take it personally or get offended. Families get busy, don’t take it personally; sometimes schedules just don’t match up. And many do not make hospitality a priority or even know that they should so be patient and understanding.

Do you live in an apartment? Don’t take offense if you invite a family over to your apartment only for them to offer it at their house. Here are 7 practical tips on practicing hospitality in an apartment.

Learn from Others

As you start extending hospitality, just wait and you will get invited over to other’s houses as well. Learn from what they do. When you get invited to other’s houses, make a mental note of what they do from the moment you walk in the house.

Do they have music playing? What kinds of questions did they ask? Did they get a card game out or offer coffee after dinner?

This is the best way to learn new tips and tricks. Offering coffee at the end of a meal is a great comfort to offer, but if you never drink coffee past 10am then you might not think about it. Glean from other’s experiences and wisdom.

Simple touches can make a big difference

Hospitality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, like I said before. So even simple touches can make a huge difference on your house and hospitality.

Buy a couple candles and have them lit around the dining room. Can’t afford Yankee candles? Head to the dollar store and see what you can find. It’s all about the ambiance!

Have soft music playing low in the background during the meal. Decorate your home in a way that welcomes in new guests and find ways to fix up things for less, like recovering old dining room chairs.

Pull out some toys from the closet to let kids play with or head to your local thrift store to pick some up for cheap.

Ask!

When practicing hospitality, ask, ask, ask. Many people that we have invited over to our house, we felt nervous about asking…will they want to come over? We barely know them…do they even know who we are? But everyone loves to be invited over. So just ask!

Ask about food allergies or preferences. You don’t want to make a big meaty lasagna only to find out that one kid is allergic to tomatoes and Mom is a vegetarian!

Ask other women for their hospitality tips. Many women like to share what they do to make their home welcoming, so ask those around you how they do it!

Practice and Readily Learn

Unfortunately, there is not a ton written about hospitality in the Christian world. But what is out there, is excellent!

I highly recommend Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch.

I HIGHLY recommend Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Ennis and Tatlock

I also put together a list of my top 7 hospitality resources.

Remember, it’s not about your home, it’s about your heart.

At the end of the day your candles don’t matter. Your cooking skills are not what is on display. The dessert and music in the background will quickly be forgotten.

What will not be forgotten is your heart. What really matters is your heart for serving the Lord and opening up your home! Remember that and don’t sweat the details. 

Hospitality Commands

Biblical hospitality was integral to the early church. The early church revolved around the home. Worship and teaching took place in the home.

Love, care, and instruction in the Lord was done in the home. The early Church members shared meals together and built community, as well as inviting strangers into their home.

Hospitality was a part of their life, and they took the Biblical command of hospitality seriously.

Alexander Straught beautifully paints the picture of the early church and the Biblical Command of Hospitality in Hospitality Commands.

It’s a short book that gets straight to the point. Strauch heads straight to Scripture and examples from the early church to explain the importance of hospitality in our modern church.

Hospitality is not an option, it is not something left to those who like Hospitality or have a natural talent for it.

Hospitality is something that should permeate the church. It should be the lifeblood of community that should be thriving in each church so much so that your neighborhoods feel the effect of hospitality.

Does that sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be.

Come back tomorrow for some practical tips on starting to extend hospitality when it may seem like a foreign concept to you.

You don’t have to have a big house (in fact you can practice Biblical hospitality in an apartment) or vast resource to practice hospitality. Just a heart to serve. 

Transitioning into Life as a Stay at Home Wife

Last week I shared how God’s timing is not usually our timing and how we are finally moving close to our family again.

We are moving at a PERFECT time, however the biggest concern at first was that I just started a new, full time, fantastic job.

Our plan was that I would work full time until 8 or 9 months pregnant with our first child, and then I would be home full time, hopefully forever.

I have dreamed and longed for the day that I would stay at home full time.

I have explored MANY different ideas of working from home but none of them were viable enough for me to quit my full time job, especially one that I actually do love (I work at a Christian college) while trying to save for a home and pay off our student loans.

Transitioning into life as a stay at home wife

So I have worked full time and have been SO thankful that I had a full time job and that we could pay our bills, and I realize how fortunate and blessed we have been. The Lord is good.

But with this move coming up, I am obviously losing my job. We are moving 6 hours away with no colleges in the area, let alone Christian colleges. My experience and knowledge lies in working at a college. I have worked at two different Christian colleges for nearly 4 years. So I began contemplating what possible job I could get. I assumed I would be searching for a job for months trying to get something…secretary somewhere maybe??

As we stressed about this and how I would find a job, my sweet husband approached me and told me that he doesn’t want me working. I have made some money online and have planned to expand this and will be home once we have kids anyway (which will hopefully be soon), so very firmly and gently he said he does not want me working.

I battled this at first…But we NEED the money! And won’t it feel like I’m wasting my time? If I can help contribute to our family and save for a house, shouldn’t I?? And for the last 3 years of our marriage, that answer was YES. For us, me working the past 3 years has been the right answer.

But now? Now I am embarking on a new journey. Now I am finally launching a design business this summer. Now I am going to be able to do all those things I haven’t had time for. Now I can fully embrace the role God designed me for and what delights my heart, being a full time homemaker.

I am scared at the idea and beyond excited for it. It is taking ALL of my energy to try and stay focused at my full time job for the next two weeks while dreaming of what is just around the corner.

I have always mentioned to my husband in passing that I would love to stay home full time before kids…but the answer has always been the same. We can’t. We can’t afford it yet.

But now? God has blessed my husband with a promotion. And God has blessed me with the ability to work from home.

The Lord is so good and we are excited for this next step in our marriage and our life. 2 months ago we could have never anticipated this coming up…but with a simple phone call…our world was turned upside down and the Lord is blessing us and making plans for us that we could never have imagined.

My heart is so full this week as I marvel at all that God has given to us. Praise be to HIM

The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him,  my father’s God, and I will exalt him. ~ Exodus 15:2

Update: The Lord is so good! About two weeks after posting this article, we found out we were pregnant with our first baby!! A couple months later, we found out we were having twins! ALL in his perfect timing :)