Reclaiming Her Grace: Beauty of Elegance

Good morning friends. Sometimes you need to take a step back from a project to cropped-afternoon-beverage-break-1549706-1.jpgreevaluate and assess your goals. That’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t say I have it all figured out, but I have been inspired to share the origin of the name of this Blog/Company. I’ve been using the name Reclaiming Her Grace for my website, blog, and coaching/teaching business now for a year, but I’ve never explained the meaning behind it. You may have guessed at it, or figured it out by the subject matter we talk about, but I want to spend this time by going into why I chose this name and what it means to me.

Grace:

“elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action: a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment”

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Too often, in our modern world, we decide that it’s ok to let go of another social grace. Pleasant qualities, elegance, and manners are dated as old fashioned. Humanity is more self-focused, conflicted, divided, and unpleasant than ever. What happened? When did we decided that elegance was unattractive? Why did we decide manners were outdated? We’ve slipped in to a fast paced, disconnected society, with the idea that to get ahead we have to push and shove everyone else out of the way. We desperately need to reclaim the grace that has long left our culture. This idea that we can live how we want, say what we want, and act how we want is terribly wrong. We have freedom yes, but we also have responsibility. We are responsible for the impression we leave on others. We are responsible for how we treat others. We are responsible for those whom we have an influence over. I’d like to look deeper into different areas of our lives that need to be reclaimed by gracious living. These areas fall into five main categories:

We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Elegance
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Form
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Etiquette
We need to reclaim the Beauty of our Actions
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Attractive Qualities

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at these 5 areas closely and do an inward evaluation of our own lives and how they reflect a gracious lifestyle.

We need to Reclaim Elegance

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1.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Living

When was the last time you really enjoyed watching a good educational documentary, or listening to Classical music, or reading a good non-fiction book? We’ve become too easily entertained by the junk of this world. Most would rather pick up People Magazine than a good home improvement journal. Most would rather listen to noisy pop music than enjoy the beauty of a Beethoven number. If we are to start reclaiming areas of our lives for elegance, why not start with our tastes in entertainment and daily living? Here are some practical ways we can introduce elegance back into our lives:

-Instead of always going to a movie, try attending the local Symphony one evening. chords-sheet-on-piano-tiles-210764

-Instead of ordering that diet Coke, order water with lemon (Or sparkling water to feel extra elegant)

-Instead of reading the latest romance novel, pick up a copy of “French Women Don’t Get Fat” or “Rhythms of Renewal” and read about how to live a life you love and take care of your body at the same time.

-Instead of reading People magazine, pick up Southern Lady or the Magnolia Journal.

-Instead of playing pop music, what about listening to some Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, or Michael Bublé? Listen to some smooth instrumental Jazz or Classical piano for relax time. (This is especially nice with a bubble bath and candles.)

exhibit-painting-display-69903-Instead of going to the club, visit a nearby Art Museum or Museum of History.

-Instead of sending a text, sit down and write out a card by hand.

-Instead of going to the airport/grocery store/doctor office in sweats, put on a real outfit and pull yourself together.

-Instead of choosing a video game every time, pull out a good old fashioned board game with real pieces.

This is just a small list of ideas to help add some elegance back into our everyday living, but you’ll find when you start making more elegant choices you feel more elegant. When you feel more elegant, you act it out. When you act it out, that’s gracious living.

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2.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Habits

If you had to list the #1 bad habit of American culture what would you say? I asked this question over on my Instagram account and the responses I got included foul language, ungratefulness, excessive phone use, and tardiness. These are just the top common answers I received.

If we are to gracefully refine our habits we must recognize what our bad habits are and understand why they need to be refined. Bad habits can be devastating to the impression we leave for others. They can turn people away from listening to what we have to say. I mentioned before, but we are responsible for the people we have influence over. Elegant habits to reclaim include:
-Saying “please” and “thank you”20200212_094151_0000
-Keeping your phone away from the table
-Smiling
-Sitting up straight
-Keeping your hands out of your mouth
-Avoiding foul language
-Listening with intent

This small list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it can be a great start. For additional reading check out “Modern Manners” by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler or “A Kid’s Guide to Manners” by Katherine Flannery, written for children and their families!

3.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Words.

In Ephesians 4:29 (NIV), we’re told “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”. Again in Colossians 4:6  (ESV) we’re told “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”. There are well over 100 verses in Scripture that specifically address the way we talk. We should pay special close attention to something God tells us over 100 times! Our speech can do so much good, and so much damage. We must choose our words carefully, and choose them with kindness and respect. Remember, once something is spoken it can never be unspoken. Make a habit of thinking before you speak. Pray this prayer from Psalms 141:3 (ESV) Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

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To avoid saying something you will later regret, or that would undermine your influence, remember these key questions before you open your mouth to speak:

-Am I speaking from anger or bitterness? If yes, then go take a walk before you respond.

-Would I feel comfortable say this word in front of my sweet, 95 year old, innocent, Southern Baptist, great-grandmother. If no, don’t use it in other conversation.

-Is what I’m about to say helpful or hurtful?

-Is it necessary that I share my opinion, or was I asked for my opinion?

-Is there a more gracious way to say what I need to say?

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Elegance is a lost art. One that desperately needs to be reclaimed. As we go about our lives and daily tasks, lets ask ourselves if we’re portraying gracious elegance in our choices, in our habits, and with our words. If not, we have some work to do.

~Paige Baldwin

An Inhospitable Marriage

I don’t usually write marriage related material. Having been married just under a year myself, I am no expert and I don’t pretend to be. But, when God lays something so heavy on my heart, I feel I must share it with you. I want to talk about practicing hospitality in our marriage.RobertsBaldwin01268

Hospitality isn’t just for guests or neighbors. Your spouse desperately needs your hospitality. Unfortunately, so many marriages today are inhospitable. Inhospitable is defined as being harsh and difficult to live in. Studies are showing that nearly 50% of marriages are ending in divorce. I have seen many end myself, especially over the past few years. Couple are splitting, and then before papers are even signed, they’re with someone else. It’s a fast run to the next person that can make them happy. Unfortunately, that’s the key to this broken covenant. Everyone is out to be made happy, to feel satisfied, or to get something out of the relationship. If you go into a relationship with high expectations for what your spouse will do for you, it’s going to fail. If you think your spouse is there to make you happy and feel fulfilled, then it will fail. If you think that everything will be easy and all about you, then your marriage will fail. Romance novels, television shows, and Instagram marriages today give us unrealistic and false views on how a marriage works. When our spouse fails to meet our expectations, we respond with anger, hostility, hurtful words, and withdrawal. This creates an inhospitable environment for our relationship and eventually, it will fall apart.

Ways couples create an inhospitable marriage:

marriagequoteforblog1.)  They discuss their spouse’s flaws with others.

2.) They wake up every day asking what their spouse will do for them.

3.) They don’t have open honest discussions.

4.) They constantly complain.

5.) They don’t place a value on a relationship with God.

6.) They deny one another grace to fail.

 

Sometimes, these things happen without us even realizing. We get so busy and caught up with every day life that we lose sight of the importance of how we treat our spouse and marriage. We don’t intend to complain or be selfish, it just happens. Friends, we have to be intentional about our marriage. We can’t afford not to. We have to wake up every day and ask ourselves “am I being hospitable in my marriage?”

Ways to create a hospitable marriage:
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1.) Do not talk bad about your husband. To anyone. Ever.

2.) Every morning ask yourself  “What can I do to be a blessing to my spouse today?”

3.) Talk about the hard things. Have those difficult open and honest conversations.

4.) Every day, write down 3 things to be thankful for regarding your spouse/marriage.

5.) Spend time with God every day. As you draw closer to Him, you will naturally draw closer to your spouse.

6.) Learn to accept , or give, an apology when failure occurs.

 

When you become intentional about practicing hospitality with your spouse, you will notice how much closer you draw to one another.

Romans 12:10  reminds us “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 

 

Paige

5 People That Need Our Hospitality

This world is full of people needing to be loved and ministered to. Our mission is to show hospitality to everybody that we meet, right? It can get exhausting to do everything for everyone, especially if we’re not well practiced or just starting out. While everyone deserves our kindness and hospitality, I’ve realized that there are groups of people that sometimes need a little more than others. I’ve broken this down into 5 categories of people I think we can start with and bless while we practice hospitality as Christ commands.

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1.) College/Seminary students
Think back to when you were in college. You were broke, away from home, and sometimes just needed a hot meal and an ear to listen. Consider connecting with a local college or seminary. Work with student services and maybe offer to host a dinner one night for a few struggling students. Seminary is a great way to reach out to families that need a little hospitality. Care packages are another way to show some hospitality to college students. Little baskets filled with nutritious snacks, soaps, and office supplies are much appreciated.

2.) New parents
When you’ve just had a brand new baby, sometimes it’s all you can do just to survive. Offer to babysit the older children, or come rock the baby, while they nap. Consider taking them a meal a few nights during those first weeks. A great tool is a website called Meal Train. It helps set up meal schedules for new parents. See link and description on my Resources page for more information. Even just dropping off a package of diapers and wipes can be a huge blessing.

3.) Church family
Our church family is in desperate need of our hospitality. Look around the room and you’ll see hundreds of faces crying out for help in some way. One family might need a meal or even a bag of groceries. One couple might be desperate for a date night without kids. A housewife might need to be invited out for coffee and a listening ear. Some teenagers may need a fun safe game night with friends. Visitors may need someone to sit beside them and ask about their story. There are endless opportunities to show hospitality and love in our church if we look for them.

4.) Out of town/country guests (for parties, weddings, or funerals)
I’ll never forget the time my husband and I had to unexpectedly drive to Florida for a funeral. It was last minute and we were searching for hotels are we were driving. We got a call that said a sweet lady that knew the family reserved a hotel for us. It was such a blessing, we wept at her kindness and praised God for His goodness. Maybe you have room in your home and can put someone up there instead of a hotel. Either way, it’s such a blessing for people to not have to worry about the hassle and cost of lodging while they’re coming in from out of town.

5.) Your own family
We have to be careful that we don’t spend so much time offering hospitality to those outside our home that we neglect the ones inside our home. Our family needs our hospitality too. Your husband may need you to put down your dishrag and watch that movie with him. Your child may need you to cook their favorite meal or surprise them with their favorite dessert. Maybe it means packing a backyard picnic and leaving your phone inside to focus fully on them. It could mean a full on family vacation away from everything else. Whatever it looks like, be sure your family doesn’t suffer at you hospitable hand.

As we practice the art of hospitality, it gets easier and we get more comfortable with it. We get more comfortable reaching out our hands, inviting in to our home, and opening up our hearts. Let us live a life of constant practice so that through us someone else may find love, healing, and rest.

Paige

Starved

We live in a world that is starved for true authentic hospitality. With so many magazines and TV shows displaying what a perfect home should look like, so many people are unwilling to open their home to others unless they achieve that level of perfection. From pristine living rooms that are unbelievably uncomfortable to picture perfect meals that take hours to prepare, we are so busy trying to impress others that we fail to bless others. God did not call us to perfection, He called us to love. Authentic hospitality is sadly undervalued among our culture today.

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We read a story in the New Testament of two sisters. Mary and Martha. Jesus had come and was having supper in their home. Martha was running around making sure her table was perfect and the food was just right, but Mary was sitting at His feet listening. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I seem to contradict myself. One day I talk about planning the perfect tea party and the next I’m telling you to forget planning. Let me clarify. I’m not against a planned out event, a pretty table, or delicious food. I will continue to offer guides and posts on all things lovely when it comes to hosting different events. However, the motivation and heart behind our hospitality must be authentic and must be out of genuine love for others. We cannot get so lost in the planning that we forget the people. Now you’re asking “ok well how do I do that” I’m glad you asked!

  1. When you have company, especially someone in need of a shoulder to cry on, try your best to limit distractions. Pour a couple of cups of tea, turn off the TV, put your phone down, and listen.
  2. When you have company show up while you’re cooking or in the middle of a project, invite them to join you. (This mainly applies to unexpected company)
  3. When you are hosting an event, put your phone down.
  4. Don’t apologize for the things you don’t have, or the imperfections in what you do have. If a glass of water is all you have to offer, offer it humbly but don’t apologize that you don’t have lemonade to offer.

Authentic hospitality is not just for our friends and family closest to us. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers.” It’s opening your heart to the neighbor next door, the single mom down the street, the broke college student who needs a nutritious meal, the elderly shut-in desperate to see beyond their four walls, or the lonely widow who just needs some company. We read in the Old Testament a story of King David. He desperately wanted to show kindness and hospitality to the family of Saul after his death. So he reached out to a complete stranger, a shut-in relative, and brought him to his home. What a difference we could make if that was our mindset. When we treat people with kindness, we often open the door for them to receive a witness of the gospel.

Some good ways to seek out those people in desperate need of hospitality:

  1. Ask your church pastor or leaders. I am sure they will have a name for you to reach out to.
  2. Get to know the neighbors on your street. Maybe consider holding an open house and inviting your neighborhood to stop in for lemonade and ice cream this summer.
  3. Contact your local university or seminary and ask if you can be a blessing to a struggling student.
  4. Offer to cook supper for a family with an illness or a new baby.
  5. Pick up a shut-in and take them for lunch or a picnic in a park.

Our world is starved for true genuine hospitality. Let us be the ones to show them that kindness and let them experience God’s love through our lives.

~Paige

Entertaining vs.Hospitality

What sort of things come to mind when you hear the word hospitality? Do you imagine a beautifully set table, cocktails, fancy dresses, and perfectly put together trays of hors d’oeuvres? Hospitality can indeed include all of these things, but it doesn’t have to. Most of the time we associate hospitality with the idea of entertaining when, in reality, they actually have two separate meanings. We were called to hospitality, not to entertainment.

Entertaining focuses on impressing others, hospitality focuses on being a blessing to others.

There is nothing wrong with anything I’ve described above, however we need to keep in mind that true hospitality happens when your guests leave your home feeling better about themselves, not better about you. If we only seek to impress those around us with the things we’ve acquired, we’ll never be effective in loving them or being a blessing to those that we bring into our home. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set a pretty table or use your good china so everyone gets to feel fancy; this is only a caution to help us get into the correct mindset and prepare our hearts to love those whom God loves.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing different tips and tricks to help us through the holiday season of parties, dinners, and overnight guests so that we feel prepared and confident. Please comment below with your thoughts and a topic that you feel would be helpful this season.
Paige