Is Self-Care Selfish?

I published this about a year ago and I felt that I needed to republish it now. This is such an important topic, and one that we miss all the time. Have you ever tried to fill your gas tank using an empty gas can? Of course not, that would be stupid. Why then do we continue to attempt to give of ourselves when we are that empty gas can? There’s nothing left, but yet we keep saying yes. We keep scheduling more. We keep taking on more responsibility. And we remain empty. What good do you think you’re doing? You are doing about as much good as that empty gas can is doing for your empty tank. In fact, this is a dangerous road that will lead to bitterness, resentment, and burnout. In a world all about “self” I want to be really careful with how I say this, but you have to develop a habit of self care. I am not talking about selfishness. Selfishness is never thinking about others, but basing your decisions and actions solely on your own desires. Self care is taking care of yourself to the point where your tank is overflowing and you have an abundance of energy and love to pour out into others. That is the opposite of selfishness. That is love. We cannot neglect ourselves and think that we will be of any good to others, and that includes our own family.

It’s not enough to schedule a bubble bath once a month and go get a pedicure once a year. That’s not self care. We have to make self care a daily habit. We have to continually fill our tanks so that we have what we need to pour out into others. You may be a busy career woman, a full-time mother, or in another season of life that keeps you from taking care of yourself. I’m telling you friends, teachers, nurses, mothers, ministry leaders…you have to put a priority of taking care of you. If you don’t, you’ll have nothing left to give your family or your job. Neglecting yourself is basically praying to fail in your calling. You can’t be a good wife, mother, business owner, employee, or leader if you’re exhausted and burned out.

There are 5 main area that we must be aware of. These are often called your “wellness meters” but I like to think of them as our “tanks”. We cannot neglect any of these tanks. Neglecting one will lead to the draining of another because each tank ties in with another. We must attend to each one as if the rest depend on it, because they do.

Physical

Our Physical tank is our personal health and wellness. If our body isn’t well, we’re not well. If we’re constantly sleep deprived, filling up with convenient junk food, and dehydrating ourselves with caffeine, then we’re going to wear out very quickly. I know it’s easier to grab something quick to eat when you don’t have time to cook. We don’t even think twice about staying up super late to clean one more thing, and then drain an energy drink to compensate the next morning.  That isn’t a sustainable way to live. Self care starts with taking care of the physical body God gave us. This happens by practicing good dietary habits such as eating clean and drinking plenty of water. When we participate in physical exercising or engage in a fun physical activity we are strengthening our body. Seeing the doctor when we’re sick (and not just ignoring the problem hoping it goes away) or visiting with a chiropractor. Consider a good wholesome multi-vitamin or supplement for those areas we’re just not hitting with diet. Book a massage or pedicure to work out tight muscles in your back and feet. Practice deep breathing exercises. Do stretches at your desk to keep you from getting sore an stiff. Ask for a standing desk if that is an option for you . There are so many things we can do to care for our physical body, we just need to do them.

Spiritual

Our Spiritual tank is the most important tank to keep full, and the quickest to empty. It’s usually the one we neglect first and then wonder why we’re bitter and stressed all the time. How do we practice spiritual self care? We start by talking with the One who fills that tank. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have been given, yet the least utilized. We are told to pray about everything and without ceasing. This is talking about living a life of prayerfulness and a lifestyle of constant, consistent, communication with our Creator. In Psalms 23, David says “He refreshes my soul.” Having regular communication with our Savior refills our spiritual tank. We must be filled with His love to be able to pass it on to others. We cannot expect others to go where we do not lead.

Another way to fill our spiritual tanks is by reading His love letters to us (the Scriptures). I find that the Psalms are especially restorative. I encourage you to read a passage every morning. Even if it’s a short Psalm, having God’s Word start you day will make a difference in your spiritual tank. I also recommend finding a devotional book to add to the routine. Find one that encourages and challenges you in your daily walk with Christ.

Finally, we look to worship to help fill our spiritual tank. Worship is showing reverence and adoration for out God. Worship fills our hearts with thankfulness and puts us in His presence. We should certainly participating in weekly worship with our church family. God tells us not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together. Something amazing happens in our hearts as we gather together as God’s family and worship Him fully. Ways we can engage in daily worship include uplifting worship music, scripture journaling, and praise journaling.

Emotional

Our emotional tank is the next one to fill. Our emotional tank has a constant drain on it, especially if our spiritual tank is not full. Between the stress of life, anxiety, responsibilities, and our packed full schedules, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel emotionally drained. Our emotional and mental tanks feed in to one another. As one drains, so does the other. Our emotional health can be a hard one to regulate if we are not intentional about keeping it in check. Our culture experiences emotional highs and lows on a constant basis, and we’re not the best at keeping ourselves in balance. We feed those highs with entertainment and indulgence, and we dwell in pity when we hit the lows and often end up with a victim complex. We have to learn to control our emotions, and to fill our emotional health tank. The first way to do this is to go to sleep. We cannot be rational running on no sleep. If you need postpone a difficult conversation or task until you’ve had some sleep, do it. For your own sake, but also those around you. Maintain a daily practice of gratitude. Gratitude has been proven over and over again to elevate your mood and make you a happier, less stressed, person. Practice being thankful for the things you have and the people in your life. Know that it’s ok to ask for alone time. It’s ok to spend some alone time each day. Sometimes, all you need to feel refreshed is 15 minutes to yourself. Be careful not to use this one as an excuse to retreat from your responsibilities or your family, but if you need to take 15 alone for an emotional recharge, ask for it. Make sure your emotional tank stays full so that you are able to invest in others.

Mental

Our mental tank needs just as much attention as the others. Check in on yourself daily. Make a habit to stop and ask yourself  “how am I doing?” Are you battling depression? Are you catching your mind going to dark places? Do you fantasize about running away from it all and starting over? These are good indications that your mental tank is running on empty. This must be tended to immediately. If you’ve reached a point where you cannot fill your mental tank on your own, I encourage you to see a doctor or counselor. It’s never weak to ask for help, that is strength. Before you get to that point, there are some things to do on a daily basis that will help keep your mental tank full and healthy! Start with filling your spiritual tank. All healing and renewal starts by falling on our face before a Holy God and asking for His guidance. Next, consider taking inventory of your social media accounts. We live in a dreadful age of comparison. If there’s an account you follow that constantly stirs up anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, get rid of it. Why would you constantly want to dredge those feelings up inside of you? Get rid of the account, and then go to the One who tells you that you’re worthy, loved, and precious. Psalms 139: 13-18 (Please keep in mind that there is a huge difference between something that stirs up inadequacy and something that inspires us to be better.)

Mental health is a lot more than our emotional response and stress level. Mental health is also the choices we make to better yourself. Choices we make to numb our mind, or to stimulate it. One of the best things to stimulate our mind is to read a book. Yes, a paper book that you physically hold and turn pages. Make a goal to read a set number of books per year and then instead of picking up your phone at bedtime to mindlessly scroll through the same media feed you scrolled through an hour ago, use that time to read. Find a stimulating podcast that will teach you new things. Learn to play a musical instrument or a new craft such as crocheting or embroidery. Get a word-a-day calendar in another language. Put your mind into a constant state of curiosity and learning to stay full. Practice gratitude as a lifestyle and keep a contentment journal.

Social

Your social wellness is our final tank to look at. Friendships are crucial. The older we get the less time we seem to have, so we must be intentional about our relationships. The very first relationship you should pour into is your spouse. They deserve the best of you, not the leftovers. Go on a weekly date or have a “date” at home if you can’t get away. Take time to invest in your marriage with intentional conversation, genuine interest, and a constant state of learning your spouse. There is no better friend you should have than the person you married. If your spouse isn’t your best friend it’s time to take a step back and start heavily investing in them, re-cultivating that friendship, until they are.

All relationships take work. Having friends is work. They take investment, but they are worth it. We were not created to be alone. We were created for connection. Even if you are an introvert your social tank has to be full. Running on fumes in this department will lead to isolation and loneliness which will drain your mental and emotional tanks. (I told you they are all tied together.) Cultivate a habit of calling a friend, texting to check in on someone, writing a card, going to coffee, or hosting a game night. Have a friend that you can depend on and go to for advise and encouragement. With the abundance of social media, we live very unconnected lives. We retreat back into ourselves and think we’re doing good because we see our friends on social media. That’s not investing in your relationships, that is hiding from your relationships. Most of us are busy working professionals, wives, and mothers. While we might not always have time to get coffee on a weekly basis, we should be intentional about being presently active with the group of people God put into our lives. Whether it’s a ladies Bible study, a small group, or a girls night out. We should make some time to invest in these crucial relationships and keep our social wellness tank full.

So friends,  is self-care selfishness? Absolutely not. In fact, self-care is quite the opposite. Self-care is saying “I love the people in my life too much to give them my leftovers, so I’m going to make sure I’m the best me I can be for them”. You are not disposable and you are not replaceable. You were made to be recharged and useful. But you have to take the time to recharge yourself because no one else can do it for you. Stop abusing your body, stop acting like a martyr, and stop giving away what you do not have. Take the time and invest in yourself. If you find yourself saying “I just don’t have the time for self-care” then it’s time to take a long hard look at your calendar because there are some things that need to go.

I love the people in my life too much to give them my leftovers, so I’m going to make sure I’m the best me I can be for them

 

Paige Baldwin

4 Easy Meals for Guests

Hello and happy September! I love the Fall season so much. I love a cooler air, and color of the changing leaves, the clothes, and ALL THE SEASONAL FLAVORS! Fall is my favorite season to cook and bake (followed closely by Christmas but we’ll wait for that). There are so many warm and comforting flavor combinations and textures you can take advantage of during this season. I’m going to share 4 easy meals (with recipes) that you can whip up either very quickly, or ahead of time for company.

Last Minute Dinner Company

You got a call, dinner company coming in an hour. That’s great right? Of course it is! You’re already prepared and you’ve got a delicious fall inspired meal you can produce in less than an hour. You’re making:

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Pumpkin Alfredo

For the Roasted Chicken Thighs: 6 Servings

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs (I always like to do a few extra in case a guest is really hungry)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2-3 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Onion powder
  • 3 tsp Dried Parsley

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400o F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl mix together dry herbs and spices.
  • Use a paper towel to pat chicken dry, then rub both sides of chicken with olive oil.
  • Rub the dry mixture all over chicken.
  • Arrange chicken skin side up on your baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165o F.
  • Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

For the Pumpkin Alfredo: 6 Servings

  • 1 LB Fettuccine cooked, reserve 1 cup pasta water
  • 6 TBSP Salted Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree (be careful not to grab the pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup Half & Half
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Parsley (optional for garnish)

Directions :

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, add fettuccine. Cook until chewy, but firm. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and discard the rest.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter over medium low heat and stir in garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Stir in Half & Half, Parmesan cheese, pumpkin puree, and nutmeg. Stir until cheese is full incorporated and mixture is heated through.
  • Stir in pasta water 1/4 cup at a time until sauce is your desired consistency. ( A thick and creamy sauce need only 1/2 cup, thinner sauces will need more.)
  • Add fettuccine and cook additional 2 minutes until pasta is well coated.
  • Serve garnished with fresh Parsley and additional Parmesan cheese.

*NOTE: Utilize frozen vegetables here to add brussels sprout or green beans. I always like to keep one shelf of my freezer stocked with bags of frozen veggies that I can pop in the microwave at the last minute. Aldi has a great selection of these bags!

Feeding A Crowd

You’re talking to your husband and he asks “hey babe, do we have plans for Sunday?” He wants to have his whole family over for a Sunday lunch and catch up. Great! Let’s pull out a Fall themed feast that won’t stress to the max having to cook for 10 people. We’re making:

White Chicken Chili and Cornbread

For the White Chicken Chili: 10 Servings

  • 1 1/2 LBS boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 TBSP Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (I like white pepper for this recipe, but you can use either)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 can (small) diced green chilies
  • 2 (15 oz) cans white beans (Drain and rinse ONE CAN ONLY. You want the liquid from the second can)
  • Desired garnishes (can include sour cream, cheese, salsa, tortilla chips, etc)

Directions:

  • In a 6-8 quart crock-pot, mix together chicken stock, spices, and chilies.
  • Add the white beans and place chicken in liquid.
  • Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Discard Bay leaves and remove chicken from crock-pot.
  • Using a hand immersion blender or stand blender, puree approximately 2 cups of the chili. You want the rest to be intact.
  • Slice or shred chicken and place back in the crock-pot.
  • Serve with desired garnishes and cornbread (recipe to follow)

For the Cornbread: 16 Slices

  • 2 cups Four
  • 1 cup Cornmeal
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 8 TBSP Salted Butter, melted (plus more more serving)
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/4 cup Whole Milk
  • 3 Lg eggs

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350o F and butter a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  • In large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal. sugar, baking powder, and salt until well mixed.
  • In medium bowl, whisk together butter, oil, milk, and eggs.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Pour into baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out with no wet batter.
  • Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serve with butter.

*NOTE: You can use a store bought box of cornbread mix if you’d rather.

Meal Delivery for A Sick Friend

Your friend, or family, or neighbor, etc….is sick and you want to take them some Fall inspired soup that will be both delicious and healthy. You’re taking them:

Carrot Ginger Soup with Whole Wheat Bread

For the Carrot Ginger Soup: 4 Servings

  • 8 medium Carrots
  • 2/3 cup Red Split Lentils
  • 1 small Onion
  • 3 tsp grated Ginger (fresh)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 TBSP coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Pumpkin seeds for crunchy garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Wash, peel, and cut carrots into chunks. Rinse and drain lentils.
  • In large pot, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook until onion starts to soften.
  • Add carrots and lentils. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add stock, salt, ginger, and turmeric.
  • Bring soup to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add in coconut milk.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.

For the Whole Wheat Bread: 1 Round Loaf

  • 2 cups Water, warm
  • 2 tsp Salt (I like using flaky sea salt)
  • 1 tsp Yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour

Directions:

  • In large mixing bowl, mix together water, salt, and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Add in flour and mix until well combined.
  • Cover dough with buttered plastic wrap or clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature overnight (or about 8 hours).
  • Place a dutch oven in your oven and pre-heat to 450o F. Once heated, carefully remove dutch oven and place on counter.
  • Flour you hands and shape dough into a circle. Drop into dutch oven.
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for additional 20 minutes.
  • Remove bread from dutch oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving or wrapping in clean cheesecloth for transport.

*NOTE: You can always save yourself time and buy a loaf of crusty whole wheat bread from your local grocer or baker.

Overnight Guests

You had some company in town and you want to make them breakfast. You don’t want them to feel like they have to get up and come to the table to be able to eat, they need to relax. You make them:

Cranberry Orange Muffins and Coffee in Bed

For the Cranberry Orange Muffins: 18 Muffins

  • 1/2 cup Pecans, chopped
  • 2 TBSP freshly grated orange peel
  • 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TBSP cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Orange Juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 2 LG Eggs, beaten

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Pecans, crushed
  • 4 TBSP cold unsalted butter

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 TBSP orange juice

Directions for muffins:

  • Preheat oven to 425o F and butter a muffin tin (or you can use muffin cups).
  • Wash cranberries and drain off water. Place in medium bowl.
  • Add in nuts, orange peel, and 1/2 cups sugar and stir well to combine.
  • In large bowl combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
  • Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender.
  • Add orange juice, eggs, and cranberry mixture and stir to combine.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and top with streusel mixture.
  • Bake for 5 minutes at 425o F.
  • Reduce heat to 350o F and bake for an additional 16-18 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to wire rack and drizzle glaze on top of muffins.

Directions for streusel:

  • Combine flour, brown sugar, and pecans in a small bowl.
  • Cut in butter with pastry blender.

Directions for glaze:

  • Combine powdered sugar and orange juice to make glaze. Use more or less orange juice as needed to reach desired consistency.

For the French Pressed Coffee: 4 servings

  • 8 cup (34 oz) French press
  • 10 TBSP Coffee beans, coarsely ground
  • 6 cups fresh boiled water
  • Milk

Directions:

  • Bring water to a boil, then let sit for 2 minutes.
  • If grinding your own beans (highly recommended) grind to coarse grind.
  • Measure out 10 TBSP (can add more if you like stronger coffee) and place in French Press
  • Pour hot water over ground and stir to coat all grounds.
  • Let steep for 5 minutes, then push plunger down.

* NOTE: Place plate of muffins on a tray with French press, mug, small carafe of milk, and cloth napkin. Take to guest bedroom and leave on table just outside door.

Hopefully this guide will help you in someway this Fall season! Read through the recipes, or come up with some of your own, and then make a list of things to always have on hand for an easy quick prep. I love cooking for guests, and I really love cooking for guests in the Fall season. The delicious aromas that fill my house alone are worth inviting guests over! If you have any cool Fall inspired recipes or tips that you’d like to share, drop a comment below. I would love to feature your recipe here on the blog!

Happy Fall!

Paige

Invite, Welcome, Love

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Matthew 10:42

I am often asked why hospitality is such a big deal to me. Why is it that I enjoy having people come to my home? There are several answers I can give. First, I like to feed people. I think for me, this is the biggest reason. I like cooking for people. It’s my love language. Food offers so much more than physical satiety. Food can be a comfort to some,  fun for others, and sometimes it can literally be necessity for someone going through a hard time. Second, not only do I like to feed people, but I like to make them comfortable. Sometimes people just need a refuge away from their own busy chaotic life, or to see something beyond their four walls (especially true during this global health crisis). If my home can be that refuge, then I will swing my front door wide open and welcome you in faster than you can ring the doorbell. Third, sometimes you just need to feel invited. That YOU specifically matter enough to be invited into someone else’s sanctuary. Even when I have a packed full schedule and life is spinning out of control, I still smile when I receive an invitation. I may not be able to accept that invitation, but it makes me feel so loved just that I was thought of.

If we are to lead others to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, it will be through His attributes displayed in us and extended to them. How do we do that? It’s quite simple when we go to God’s Word. We follow Christ’s model that He laid out for us throughout the Holy Scriptures. Throughout Scripture we see a rhythm of three steps used by Christ. He invites us to come, He welcomes us in, and He loves us sincerely. We too can use this model as we cultivate relationships with one another and with strangers around us.

3 John 1:8  “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”

Invite

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 

Matthew 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Throughout Scripture we see a rhythm of invitation from God extended to His people. We see God inviting us to rest in Him when we are weary. He invites us to drink from the Living Waters and never thirst again. He invites us to walk with Him in peace and harmony. The final invitation is to Salvation and a place at His table for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Over and over again we are invited to “come” and take part in something He’s provided for us.

We should be following Christ’s example and inviting others to “come”. We can, like Christ, invite others to rest, to participate, and to dine. For those of you who face anxiety about opening your home, take heart. This doesn’t always mean inviting into your home. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, then pray about it. Ask God for clarity, wisdom, or a change in heart. In the meantime, there are so many other ways to invite others. You could invite a friend out to coffee or to a movie. Invite a friend or co-worker to a picnic in the park. Invite the new couple at church to dinner out and maybe catch a concert after. Invite your mom or mother-in-law to join you for a spa day. Plan a trip to the zoo or botanical gardens with your small group or mom’s club. The opportunities for invitation are endless, but they are meaningful if done in the spirit of hospitality.

Keep in mind that not all invitations will be accepted. Today more than ever schedules are packed full of commitments, and others take a while to open up to new relationships. Don’t get discouraged by these obstacles. Keep showing Christ-like hospitality and extending those invitations. God will honor your hospitable spirit.

Welcome.

Luke 9:11 …He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. 

Romans 15:7 “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Webster’s dictionary defines the word welcome as “received gladly into one’s presence or companionship”. God is once again our example as many times throughout scripture he welcomes us into fellowship with Him. God has gladly received us as believers into His family and will welcome us into His presence one day in Glory. In the scriptures, Jesus welcomed the crowds as He traveled and taught the Kingdom of God. Even when He went to be alone and the crowds would follow Him, we see Jesus welcoming those in need over and over throughout the His Earthly ministry.

What does this look like for us? While we’re no longer in middle school welcoming other girls into our club, we as women still have social clubs whether we think we do or not. How about welcoming the new woman in your small group by making a effort to include her in conversation. Not only include her, but engage her in the conversation by asking open ended questions. Show her that you are interested in her, and not in what she thinks of you. Welcome the new mom into a play group by placing a hand on her shoulder and telling her you’re glad she’s there. Send her a follow up text message after play date letting her know how good it was to see her. Welcome a visitor at church by allowing them to share your row. Welcome one another with a smile, a hug, a fist bump (or elbow bump if you’re still doing that). Make a decision that you are going to make someone feel welcome wherever you may be.

The biggest way to make someone feel welcome is to simply include them in the activities and conversation. Pray and ask God to place someone on your heart who needs to feel welcome, then follow His leading in obedience.

(HOSTESS TIP: If you’re having a large event, try to greet everyone as they arrive. However, enlist the help of a trusted friend or two to help engage all of the new attendees or guests. If you have an event with 30+ women, chances are that you’re not going to be able to sit down and engage in meaningful conversation with everyone. This is where you ask for help so no one feels left

Love.

I John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

Kindness is the best way to show love to one another. Kindness not just in words, but also in our actions. Kindness can take many forms, and can be so simple once we take the time to stop and recognize the situation. Walking in the park, you might not think about all of the opportunities for simple kindness. But if you purposefully go into to the situation asking how you can show kindness, then opportunities will leap out at you. Are you walking with a child? Be patient and let them stop to pick that dandelion for the tenth time (I was that child). Are you about to pass another person on the path? Offer a smile and a hello. Is there a dog someone didn’t clean up after? Yes that’s right, get a baggie and clean it up yourself.

Kindness can be paying for coffee for the person behind you, inviting family to dinner, offering to pick up groceries for your elderly neighbor, a “thinking about you” card sent to a friend, an offer to babysit for new parents who desperately need a date night, and so much more. You can find a kind word or action in any situation. There can be so many opportunities is we are willing to recognize that we have the power to make someone else’s day better.

Here’s the thing though friends, we’re not taught to just love strangers and non-believers. No, we’re told to love one another. This seems like the hardest concept for some Believers to grasp and it’s sad. In John 13:35 we’re told “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We can show love to strangers as much as we want, but if they don’t see us showing that same love to one another, it will all be in vain. We cannot fight and bicker among ourselves as Believers and expect the world to want anything to do with the Savior we claim as ours. Love starts in the heart, floods into the home, spills over into the church, and then cannot be contained in our community.

Friends, with Christ as our example, let us continue the rhythms of inviting one another into a relationship Let us welcome one another with open arms, and then love one another as Christ loves. The difference we can make to a dark and lost world is limitless if we follow the example laid out in Scripture.

~Paige

Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Etiquette

One of my passions is etiquette. I love reading vintage etiquette books, especially some of the really old etiquette from the 1800s. One of my many collections consists of old etiquette books. I was so pleased to find one entitles “A Manual of Etiquette with Hints on Politeness and Good Breeding” by Sophia Orne (Edwards) Johnson, published under her pseudo name “Daisy Eyebright”, in 1873. She includes a quote from Lord Byron, “There’s nothing in the world like etiquette, In kingly chambers or imperial halls, as also at the race and county balls.” It’s true. There is nothing quite like etiquette. It doesn’t just belong in the grand palaces and mansions of high society, but also in the humble farm house and everyday life that surrounds most of us. It’s not just for the high class, but reaches across all socioeconomic barriers and begs us to conduct ourselves with dignity for ourselves and consideration for others.

“There’s nothing in the world like etiquette, In kingly chambers or imperial halls, as also at the race and county balls.”

Etiquette is the third area that needs to be reclaimed in our lives. Manners and etiquette will never go out of style, but somehow they’ve slipped away from daily habit. It’s funny to watch people when I start talking about etiquette, I’m greeted with a quirked eyebrow and a “that’s a little old fashioned isn’t it?” question. My dear husband gets nervous that I’m going to dress him up in a full tuxedo and make him speak using the King’s English. Neither are necessary. There are many types of etiquette we can study and practice. Anything from the proper way to court a young lady (which may be just a tad old fashion, but still very romantic) to how to set a table for a formal dinner party, to letter writing and communication etiquette. I will admit, that quite a bit of the 1800’s etiquette is definitely out of date. For example, there is an entire section in a book titled “The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Handbook for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society” published by Florence Hartley in 1860, that discusses proper etiquette for calling, or receiving callers. The “calls” are referencing actual visits, not telephone calls, as telephones didn’t exist until 1876 and weren’t widely used until 1900 . This section talked about the proper times to call on a friend, what to wear, how long to stay, and that you never ever call without a calling card. Calling cards were a way to let your friend know that you had stopped by to see her, if she wasn’t available for your visit. They were also a way for the receiver to keep track of who had visited her so that she may return the visit at a later date.

Beautiful 1800’s Calling Card

Another section discusses proper dress etiquette for those traveling, especially women traveling alone. There were correct colors, fabrics, and even styles for dress that were appropriate and those that were completely forbidden. There were proper ways to conduct oneself in a hotel, activities one did and did not do, tipping etiquette, and so much more. My favorite topic though would have to be table and hostess etiquette. Everything from the meticulous way a table was set to the conversation around the table. For example, once seated the hostess began conversation by speaking to the person on their right. This continued around the table ensuring everyone had a conversation companion. About halfway through the meal, the host/hostess would “turn the table” which was a signal to then turn to the person of their left and begin conversation. Topics such as religion and politics were considered vulgar around women and were avoided at the dinner table.

I’ve had a great time reading through these books and learning about the etiquette that shaped the 19th century. While some etiquette may be old fashioned and obsolete, there is plenty that still applies today. I enjoy reading through these etiquette books and pulling out truths that still apply to us now, 200 years removed from early 19th century. In the book “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms“, written by Thomas Hill in the 1880’s, Mr. Hill includes many areas of daily life and the etiquette that goes hand in hand. The third area we should reclaim in our everyday lives in the beauty of this etiquette.

Etiquette of Conversation

“To be an excellent conversationalist is a very desirable accomplishment. We talk more than we do anything else. By conversation we may make friends, we may retain them, or we may lose them. We may impart information; we may acquire it…Our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well; therefore, the necessity of our carefully studying what should and what should not be said when talking.”

Thomas Hill, “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms” page 152

The first area we should reclaim is the etiquette of conversation. In our current culture there are so many ways to communicate without talking that the art of vocal conversation is on the decline. People simply forgot how to speak to one another. As Thomas Hill stated in his manual, “our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well”. That was true in 1880 and it’s still true in 2020, despite how many options we have to keep us from talking. Here are a few pointers if you’re wanting to improve your conversational game:

1.) Speak clearly. Don’t say things that can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. This leads to confusion and misjudgment.

2.) Do not engage with something who clearly wants to argue. Debating a topic in a cordial setting is acceptable, but do not engage in needless arguments just for the sake of being right. Your time is more valuable than that. If someone just wants to argue, disengage.

3.) Be careful how much you talk about yourself. It’s ok to discuss your dreams and achievements, but do not dominate the conversation with yourself as the sole topic.

4.) Show courtesy to a newcomer to the conversation. Find a way to include them in the conversation, or tactfully change the subject so that they can join.

5.) Remain calm and friendly during conversation. You may be correct, but you will win more friends by remaining calm, cool, and collected while speaking. Smile.

6.) Do not use profanity. I can’t stress this one enough. Profanity is the uneducated’s replacement for words they don’t know. If you feel you can’t get through a sentence without it, don’t speak. You will immediately lose respect.

7.) If your mother, grandmother, pastor, and Jesus himself were all standing in front of you, would you say it? If not, don’t say it when they’re not there.

Etiquette of the Table

The dinner-hour will completely test the refinement, the culture and good breeding which the individual may possess. To appear advantageously at the table, the person must not only understand the laws of etiquette, but he must have had the advantage of polite society.”

Thomas Hill, “Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms” page 157

The second area to reclaim is the art of table etiquette. No it is not old fashion to appear well mannered at the dinner table. There are few things worse than being at the table with someone who is slouching, slurping, chewing with their mouth wide open, and talking over everyone else present. There are table etiquette rules form 1880 that do not apply to us today. For example “never hold bones in your fingers while you eat from them.” Let me tell you friend, Buffalo Wild Wings did not exist in 1880 and there is no way under Heaven that I’m eating a hot wing with a fork and knife. Another outdated etiquette rule is to never come to the table in your shirtsleeves. Women were expected to be dressed in semi-formal evening gowns and men in full suits. No, just no. I would encourage you to dress in nice clean clothes for dining out, but we just don’t dress like that anymore. especially for meals. Black tie formal is not necessary for lasagna night at home y’all. The following etiquette rules are ones that do still apply to us now in 2020.

1.) Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table. Do not lay your head down on the table during meal time, and this includes children. Do not tip your chair back and never place your feet on the table.

2.) Wait until your host or hostess has been seated to begin eating. If dining out, wait until everyone has received their food to begin.

3.) Pace yourself and finish one bite before taking the next. Do not overfill your mouth. Try not to talk with food in your mouth.

4.) The napkin should be placed on your lap and only brought up to dab, or quickly swipe your mouth when needed. Do not place your soiled napkin on the table during the meal. If you need to excuse yourself to the restroom, fold the napkin and place it in your chair. When the meal is over, you can placed the soiled napkin to the left of your plate.

5.) Do not be rude or disrespectful to the waiter or waitress. You do not have to apologize for making a request, but don’t overdo the requests. You are not their only task. Be kind, patient, polite, and tip generously.

6.) Do not complain about a dish served to you. If invited to dinner, notify the host or hostess of your food allergies ahead of time, but never your dislikes.

7.) When setting the table, be sure that it is clean. Be sure all dishware and cutlery is clean. The dinner plate should be placed in the center of the setting, about an inch away from the table’s edge. A salad plate can be placed on top, followed by a soup bowl if necessary. The napkin can be placed on top of the plate, or to the left, folded neatly. The fork(s) are placed to the left and the knife is placed to the right blade side facing the plate. A spoon can be placed to the right of the knife if the meal requires a spoon to eat. The bread plate and butter knife are to be placed at the top left corner. The water and wine glasses go to the top right corner. A dessert spoon/fork can be placed longways above the dinner plate. If needed, a name card can be placed immediately above the dessert cutlery. When using cutlery during dinner, one starts with the outside pieces and works their way inwards. See example below.

Multi-Course Dinner Table Setting

Etiquette of the Street

The following is a collection of “street” etiquette that has been mostly forgotten, especially by the younger generation.

1.) Both men and women, when meeting someone on the sidewalk, pass to the right.

2.) Do not run across the street, especially in front of cars. Wait for a crosswalk or walk light from the traffic controller.

3.) When a funeral procession is seen, safely pull to the side of the road and wait for them to pass. Same goes for emergency response vehicles.

4.) Do not stare at stranger, make rude remarks, call out loudly, or make unpleasant noises. For Heaven’s sake men, do not “cat call” a lady.

5.) Do not smoke around others. Those with allergies or asthma do not need to be subjected to your ill habit. Smoke at home, or in a designated area, but never in the general public.

Unclassified Laws of Etiquette

This collection is general etiquette to be observed while out and about in public, or in private. Equally as important as the first three topics above, but never discussed as much.

1.) Do not betray a confidence given by family or friend. Secrets that are not yours to tell should remain behind your closed lips.

2.) Do not read mail not intended for you, unless given explicit permission by the intended reader.

3.) Do not judge another for a fault you yourself possess.

4.) If all seats are taken, offer yours to the elderly, pregnant, or ill. If they decline, keep your seat.

5.) Do not point out physical flaws in others for which they have no control.

6.) Always be humble and kind.

In summary, not all etiquette is outdated. By refining our use of conversation and table etiquette, we can improve our status, influence, and even our confidence as we interact in the world around us. Paying close attention to “street” etiquette and even the unclassified laws of etiquette can make a difference in the way you are viewed and respected. If you would like to know more, check out my workshops and seminar options listed under Services. Hopefully you enjoyed reading a few of the etiquette subjects from the 1800’s and I do hope you found the etiquette topics of today helpful.

Until next time,

Paige

Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Form

The current buzzword right now is COVID-19. Everything is centered around this pandemic. Articles, posts, advertisements, and almost all of the news. As a nurse, I’ve been caught up in the fight and have been worrying over the outcome of this crisis.  I haven’t written anything, worked on any projects, or taught anything outside of a hospital setting. However, I can’t allow this virus to dominate my life, and neither should you. We will get through this, and we will be stronger for it. That being said, I’m going to return to normal writing and projects while praying that our world starts recovering physically, financially, and spiritually. Thank you all for sticking with me during this time.

beautiful-bloom-blooming-1563650

A few months ago I started what I wanted to be a small series of posts regarding the name I chose for this company. Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Elegance was the first in the series that explains why I chose this name and what it means to me. (Click the link above to read full post.) I’d like to look at the second part and talk about the next thing we need to reclaim in our lives.

We need to Reclaim Beauty of Form

Audrey-Hepburn-2We don’t live in 1952 anymore. Women don’t wear dresses and pumps everyday, we don’t wear pearls to vacuum, and nobody dresses up to go to the market. (Do we even use the word market now?) And as much as some of us inspire to channel Audrey Hepburn, we’re just not her. We don’t need to look like a 1950’s starlet, but we should take some pride in our appearance. Language has been steadily declining through the decades. We’re to the point where men and women alike are using filthy language in front of children and not thinking twice about it. If we’re going to reclaim the beauty of form, there are three main areas to start with.

1.) We need to Reclaim Beauty in Personal Appearance8D812C43-

You don’t see people dressing up for grocery shopping, doctor visits, the airport, or even church anymore. As matter of fact, we’re seeing a basic hygiene go out with the bath water. It shocks and appalls me when I see someone shopping in a grocery store (where I’m buying food!) in their pajamas and dirty hair. I’m amazed at how many people go to visit with their doctor in 3 day old clothes and smell like they haven’t showered in a week. We don’t have to, or need to, look like we’re going to a gala but we should be clean and put together. We don’t even have to wear makeup; I sure don’t wear makeup when I’m going to work. Even so, there are several care tasks that should be done daily before we leave our home.

4 things you should do daily, no matter what:
-Shower and wash.
-Brush you teeth.
-Brush your hair.
-Put on clean, wrinkle free if possible, clothes.

2.) We need to Reclaim Beauty in Speech

The phrase “accept me how I am or watch me as I leave” bothers me. I understand the 20200211_161632_0000underlying meaning, but so often it’s used as an excuse and nothing more. It’s used as an excuse to be loud and crude. Please don’t use the “well that’s just me” excuse to cover for bad behavior or crude speech. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” When we belong to Christ, we are to take on His attributes to be a shining light to those around us. This means that the way we verbally present ourselves should reflect our Savior. 

 

4 things we should remember when speaking:

-Not every opinion needs to be expressed.
-Use volume control on your voice.
-Think before you speak. Is it true, necessary, or helpful?
-Once said, it can never be un-said. Choose your words carefully.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

3.) We need to Reclaim Beauty in Graceful Presentation

Ladies, please don’t sit with your legs spread wide open or carelessly thrown up over your lap like a man. This will not be popular among the feminist groups of today (to be fair, I don’t think those are the kind of readers I have), but we were born as women. We don’t have to try to make a point to anyone that we can be just like a man. We can’t. Even if we could, why in the world would we want to? Men, please remember that being a man does not give you the excuse to behave like a barn animal.

hrhprincesskateEveryone should be mindful of crossed arms and scowls. Body language can unintentionally send negative messages to others before we ever have a chance to speak. This is a hard one because so often our body language is pure habit or instinct, but we must be mindful as to how it appears to others.

4 things to keep in mind with body language:
-A smile says a lot.
-Sit up straight. It automatically makes you look more approachable.
-Minimize distracting movements such as playing with hair, shaking leg, fidgeting, etc.
-If you use your hands to gesture while talking, do so palms up. It makes you appear more confident and trustworthy.

 

My hope is to see more people, especially ladies, reclaim the beauty and grace that we were created for. To feel proud of our femininity, and to present ourselves in a way that would be a shining testimony to the world around us for Christ.

cocoquoteelegance

 

With love,

Paige

Hospitality Amid Social Distancing

COVID-19 is the current buzz word. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has so may people paralyzed by fear. Quarantines are in place, basic groceries are hard to find, businesses and schools are shutting down, and the worst part seems to be the social distancing requirements. Social distancing is keeping us from activities such as outings, concerts, eating out, and even church. This one hit me hard y’all.

During this time I want to share a few ways to keep yourself protected and healthy, encouragement from God’s Word, and some practical ways to continue our mission of hospitality while we’re in this crisis.

Ways to Stay Protected:

washhands

1.) Wash your hands. Don’t forget the moisturizer after you wash. Your hands may be clean, but if they’re so dry that they’re cracking, they will pick up even more bacteria/virus.

2.) Wipe down surfaces often, especially if you’re still working outside of your home.

3.) Do not use a public bathroom if you can help it.

4.) Stay home unless absolutely necessary, especially if you don’t feel well. It might be “just a cold” but a weakened immune system is more susceptible to another virus. Be smart, and listen to the professionals when it comes to quarantine. This is not a hoax and you are not above the rules/risks.

5.) Do NOT go to the emergency department unless you have a life or limb threatening illness/injury. The chances of you walking out of there with something worse that you came in with are very high right now. This is not the time to go the the ED for your hemorrhoids, earache, or sinus infections. Most hospital systems are set up to do virtual visits to deal with that stuff.

6.) Do NOT touch your face. And for the love of all humanity, don’t eat without washing your hands. (see #1)

Encouragement from God’s Word:

Over and over again in God’s Word we see that we not only encouraged, but commanded, to not fear. Some of my favorite verses to read, and meditate on, during uncertain times are these:

1.) Psalms 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

God is our eternal source of stability and comfort. When I feel afraid, I have a conversation with my Holy Father. I tell Him that I’m afraid and why I’m afraid, and then I leave it with Him. Make this a daily practice in your life and see if your heart can be calmed.

Bible

2.) Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We are not alone. Our Savior is with us during this crisis, and He is not affected by social distancing. Talk to Him often and listen for His response telling you to be of good cheer, for He will overcome.

3.) Psalms 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

We may be walking through uncertain and dark times, but we have this hope that He is with us. We must remain calm during this time and be a light, shining brighter now than ever before.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?
I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go
So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

Staying Hospitable:

There’s no question about it, we can’t practice hospitality like we’ve been doing. Gatherings and large dinners have been put on hold and people are anxious about going to someone’s home at this time. Even so, we can still be hospitable and open to others. Now more than ever, people are in desperate need of encouragement, wellness checks, and kindness. Below are a few ways to practice hospitality while also practicing social distancing:

Video chat2

1.) Virtual Gatherings. I host a small group at my home on Tuesday evenings. A group that has had to cease meeting for the time being due to the quarantine . This is something that my heart needs so I’m going to be setting up Zoom virtual meetings instead. Try something like this for family and friends who have the technology access. Consider a fun game night or hang-out via Marco Polo, Zoom, Facebook Live, or Face time.

2.) Elderly and Unemployed. Please check in on your grandparents, or the elderly in your community that have no family. They are likely terrified right now. If you are 100% healthy, venture to the grocery store and put together care packs to drop off on their porch. Pick up the phone and call them. They can’t get out, and it’s too risky for visitors, so they need to know that they are not forgotten.

Consider the thousands of people that have been laid off due to COVID closures. If there is some way to help them please do it. If you are one of those people, please reach out to someone you trust for help.

Items to consider for a care pack:
-Dried pasta and rice
-Jarred pasta sauce
-Canned goods
-Packaged cookies and crackers
-Dried fruit
-Oatmeal
-Dried milk
-Instant potatoes
-Baby formula
-Personal care products
-A multivitamin

3.) Family and Friends. Just because they’re not elderly doesn’t mean they’re not suffering from loneliness. Check in on your friends and family. Send a text message, pick up your phone and call them, video chat, or email. Loneliness is something we are either are suffering friend, or have suffered from at some point. Chances are, someone you’re close to desperately needs some attention and love. This is a critical time to show them that love by letting them know they haven’t been forgotten. Use your extra time at home to write a letter (yes…hand-write a letter) or make a crafty card to send them. I guarantee it will mean the world to them.

One last thing I want to share: This is not mine, but I’m not sure who originally created it.

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine check-up
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.
When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people
We wanted to be,
We were called to be,
We hoped to be.
And may we stay that way, better for each other because of the worst.”

I’m praying for all of my readers during this time of crisis and darkness. May you all experience the love of our Savior in ways you’ve never felt it before. May you and your families stay healthy and safe. And may you never forget to show kindness to another, for we are all in this together.

With Love,
Paige