God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Ever since my hand glided across a china pattern etched in lace, my heart has desired to be hospitable.
To have friends gathered around the table, eating and drinking, staying in their seats long after the meal is finished because we can't stop talking is what makes the inviting worthwhile.
I love how the table can bring people together and how a meal can be the start of making memories.
Since we have moved to Dothan, most of my china and entertaining dishes have stayed packed in a box.
I never thought we would be in our rental for a whole year and keeping those items packed up kept me from doing much inviting. If I could change anything about this past year is I would have been more intentional about having people over; despite my insecurities of living in a home with floor to ceiling wall paper and shag carpet. But, our time in this house is almost done and I can't wait to entertain in our new home.
Raleigh and I have always said we wanted to live on some land so we could practice hospitality.
We want our home to be a landing place for wedding showers, church events, birthday parties, game days, sleepovers, holidays, and dinner parties. Yet one of my greatest fears about moving out to the country has been, "But will they come?"
This past Sunday, our preacher said that our fears hold us back from being our best selves. I'd have to agree.
If I allowed my fear of people not showing up to reign over how God created me for his community; I'm missing out on being complete.
Not using my joy of entertaining this past year has left a small hole on my soul that desperately needs to be filled. I just didn't realize it until I wasn't using it.
I can't wait for our farmhouse table and bench to be set up in our new house, ready to welcome guests to evenings filled with food and laughter.
Originally, Raleigh's grandmother had a room just off the kitchen set up as her dining room and it was connected to the front sitting room/parlor.
To be honest, I didn't even realize this part of the house existed for many years because it was closed off from the rest of the home by a wall and door. I had always wondered where people went when they walked into the front door!
Since we are going for a more open and informal feeling, we decided to knock down the wall that separated the sitting room from the bedroom hallway.
Instead of using the original dining room, we are using the sitting room space for our dining area.
Since the dining room is more closed off, we will be using that as our office.
The contractor still has to update all the ceilings in the home and put some plywood on the hallway wall to finish it up.
We got super lucky and were able to keep the homes' original hardwood floors in these two rooms (and most of the bedrooms!). We will stain those a pecan color and the walls in the new dining room will be a really pretty white. Eventually, we want to replace the front door.
Raleigh's grandmother had some beautiful Egyptian lace curtains hanging in the sitting room that I'd love to use somehow with some ecru and white striped curtains. It would be so lovely with some natural-colored chairs that I use at the head of our table. The majority of the home is going to be in these soft colors with touches of spa blue throughout. I would love to add pops of color through pillows and art. All in due time....
What I have learned from a year spent not being hospitable is to welcome people into my home whether it is complete or not. Because, entertaining isn't about showing off; it's about sharing life together.
I know I'm always much more comfortable in a home that is a little messy than one that never has dirt on the floor or dust on the shelf. Besides, I don't know many people with young children that can truly say their home is without crayon stains and toys shoved in hither and there!
I ran across a word in the Bible recently that I didn't know what it meant.
The word was mirth and it means "amusement, as expressed in laughter."
How appropriate is this word to describe the feelings we hope for when we invite friends and family into our homes?
To create a home filled with mirth, we must not be afraid to open our door and invite loved ones to come inside. Whether our homes are completely furnished or not, messy or clean, dishes in the sink or stacked neatly on the shelf, we must choose to invite. When we practice the true meaning of the word hospitality, then and only then, do we settle our souls and become the image of Christ that The Architect drew us to be.
Bacon and Blueberry Jam Pork Tenderloin(from Cooking Planit)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Trim any silver skin off the pork tenderloin. This is a thin outer layer of silver, shimmery connective tissue. Use the tip of a paring knife to get under the skin, then hold the loose end taut as you slide the blade of your knife underneath.
- Dry the tenderloin thoroughly, then season with salt and pepper. Tuck the narrow end of the tenderloin under to form a more uniform shape.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and warm.
- Once oil is hot, place the pork tenderloin in the pan with the folded end on the bottom. Oil should sizzle when you add the pork. Sear until the first side is nicely caramelized, about 3-4 minutes, then rotate and sear the other 3 sides until nicely caramelized, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Once tenderloin is seared, remove from heat and place on a clean platter. Let it cool for about 5 minutes so it is easier to handle.
- Prepare a sheet pan with a layer of parchment paper.
- As the pork cools, lay the bacon crosswise on the prepared sheet pan. Overlap the slices slightly to form a solid sheet of bacon. You want the "sheet" to be as long as the tenderloin so it will cover completely from end to end.
- Place the jam in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 20-30 seconds until it's slightly thinned out and spreadable.
- Once the tenderloin is cool enough to handle, use a pastry brush to spread the jam all over. Place the tenderloin on top of the bacon strips and wrap the ends around the pork, forming a neat little package. Flip the tenderloin over so the seam side faces down on the sheet pan.
- Note: Discard the jam and don't reuse the bowl or pastry brush unless you clean them first, as they have been in contact with the raw pork.
- Place the pork in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 150 degrees.
- Once you remove the pork from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Place the remaining jam in a clean microwave-safe bowl. Microwave again for 20-30 seconds until thin and spreadable. Use a clean pastry brush or a spoon to spread the jam over the top and sides of the cooked pork tenderloin to add beautiful color and another layer of flavor.
- Slice the tenderloin crosswise into 1 or 1 1/2 inch thick medallions.
- Transfer the bacon and blueberry jam pork tenderloin medallions to a serving dish or dinner plates. Ready to eat!