Put Away the Image! (and 300th winner)

What is it about human nature that we long to be loved and admired for what we do?

After reading this comment I was challenged to consider my own motives regarding why I do certain things when it comes to hospitality.

I am somewhat...yes I admit it...a "perfectionist" when it comes to entertaining. I have been a Chef/ Caterer for lots of so called "important" people, for almost 20 years. I always felt I had to put in 110% effort and wanted to be acknowledged and noticed for it!

But, yes...there is a huge BUT now......after reading your blog. I am immensely encouraged to use the gift God’s given me of “hospitality" without the perfectionism!!

I’ve said it before ...
I think younger women have to be very mature - to have a mature mindset. Even with an excellent hospitality role-model in my life (my mother), I still aimed for perfectionism in my 30’s. As I grew stronger in Christ, and I became more at ease with who I was (created in His image), I then created a healthy balance and a style that was “my own.” I continued to have healthy women I looked up to, to help teach me and show me what true hospitality was all about. I was eventually able to put away perfectionism.

Put away the image!
Giving advice to younger moms, my thoughts would be based on the reader’s comment above! Put away the image. If that means staying away from magazines, or over-the-top entertaining articles or books, then make a pact with yourself that you are going to find out who you really are.

Are you entertaining to impress?
• Are you always worried about what other people may think?
• Are you going over the top, with your menu and d├ęcor, because you want to keep a certain image?
• Are you fretting and stewing over your menu for days in fear that your guests won’t be pleased with what you offer them?

If any of these things apply to you, then you are definitely struggling with perfectionism. You are letting “image” play a role in your hospitality. To be frank with you, you are missing the point of true hospitality!

Find a mentor!
Learning, growing, creating, and expressing – these were aspects that helped shape me into the woman I am today. I also found myself drawn to women who knew how to entertain better than I did, and I learned from them! I made mental notes of small things that they did. And then I’d tell myself, “I can do that!” (By the way, if you don’t happen to know any woman that you are “attracted” to, as a mentor – keep following my blog for more challenging posts and great ideas!)

Start Small!
I started small with the things that I learned from my mentors, and then I gained confidence along the way. I didn’t pile huge agendas onto my plate, like - I want to have a dinner party with 10 people, and I want to cook a prime rib (for the first time ever!) and I want to make the most elaborate dessert. Oh, and I don’t want my guests to bring anything. I want to do it all!

I put away the lie that things had to be a certain way, and that I had to do it all, and I allowed myself the room to grow and change through the process of practicing this beautiful art!

The reward!
I started seeing that the reward of true hospitably was not in the details, and definitely not in me, the hostess. I began to see how lives were changed around our dinner table. How people began to feel “free” and open to discuss their life – their pains and their joys.

Oh, and I think I need to share with you the very last sentence that the above reader wrote, because it sums up this post.

I want to show true hospitality, but put away that "perfect" entertaining image!

During this beautiful season, will you join me in keeping things simple, ladies?

Let’s enjoy what really matters – that we have life to share with one another. Let’s put away the image and focus on the admiration that really counts. All we have to do is turn our hearts toward the cradle – and let the little Babe of Bethlehem engulf us and fill us with the true love we are all craving.

That’s the only image that I want my life to radiate!

(... radiating smiles on my friend’s faces a few weeks ago, when we had our Progressive Dinner!)

The WINNER to my 300th post giveaway is Miss G, from Sundrenched Moments! I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her comment, what she has learned by reading 300 posts on Reluctant Entertainer! Congrats Miss G!

Where to even begin? I am continually inspired and challenged by your blog and little things stick in my head. I have loved being hospitable from an early age but it's like your writing and experiences and the way you're living out your hospitality-mothering-mentoring-ministering pushes me a little further, reminds me to dig deeper, gives me pointers, etc. I am newly married, no kids and yet I begin to imagine my life farther down the road but know that it all needs to and can begin now, not "someday".

The first thing that came to mind when you asked what we've learned is the idea of cooking once for double the hospitality. I just need to jump in and try this "hands on". The most recent post that has really struck a chord with me is on seeing and feeling. So important! So good to know I'm not alone in my desires to do the same.Also, I am inspired by your balcony girls group. It reminds me some of a group that my grandma had for my girl cousins and I and some other little girls called "Butterflies and Rainbows". We did crafts and sang songs and had snacks and she taught us truths about friendship. I am also intrigued by your group of moms cooking for your child's teacher. I am presently a teacher, no kids and wow, I know this would be a blessing. How exciting to think about being able to do this for someone else.

Finally, the importance you place on people is always encouraging and a constant theme, letting your kids cook different things and giving them credit for it and praising their efforts, incorporating your husband's decorating ideas, valuing old friendships and nurturing them, waiting to have dinner at 9:00 so you can share it with friends, not worrying about things being perfect, it's the being together that counts.

I'm so excited to do some simple planning with Miss G, who is recently married and now Mrs. R!


G. said...

Congratulations Miss G!
I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I just turned 30 over the summer and it seems that over the past months I've really been just comfortable with myself and who God has created me to be. We hosted 2 Christmas parties this season and I found myself not really stressed at all. I think it was because I wasn't really worried about impressing. I feel like I have become more concerned about blessing others than impressing them and to just open your home to guests can be a blessing. That doesn't mean I don't clean my house and that I don't make it nice, it just means I don't try to live up to a standard that I can't achieve. Thank you for your always encouraging blog posts.

Seven Danforth's said...

Hi Sandy....

Yes I have few mentors in my life, you are in the bloglife and I am glad I found you. My moms is a pastor wife and many times she entertain people at our home, she always says they minister in there table. But I lack of picking things up along the way... I think So I am Transforming today, after finish having kids and now i can see the light shinning at me more..I wish I have found your blog before when you said , entertain with babies...but moving on...I am ready to open my home to goo friends. Thanks for this blog, it does help me a lot.

melanie said...

Thank you for such a well written..amazing post!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hey, Sandy! Thank you for stopping by & for the well wishes. I am constantly running out of time & just can't seem to get by to visit my friendly bloggers nearly as often as I'd like. As usual, you are an encouragment to all of us to keep it simple & don't stress over entertaining. I have to admit, I'm not a perfectionist, but don't entertain as often as I'd like either. I just tried to have a girl's Christmas brunch & only one person could come, so that's my dilemma more than any others. Finding people who have the time to fellowship! But, this is a busy time of year too.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your family, Sandy! Looking forward to a New Year with you and everyone else.

Betts said...

I'm taking baby steps. I like my recipes to be simple yet impressive. I have to admit that I love the "ooo"s, "ohhhh"s and "mmmm"s from my guests, but I'm working up a "bag of tricks" to get them without stressing myself out. I really henjoy your blog. You are an inspiration.

Jules from "The Roost" said...

You totally rock! :) Merry Christmas

Sandy Toes said...

Congrats to you winner..how fun..I will check her out!
-sandy toes

Christy said...

I wanted to share with you that I have seen the true rewards of hospitality in my own life this week. By the way, I loved how you said that whole paragraph... okay the whole post! Anyway, three of the last six days have been spent time with friends (new and old). I say this because they were pretty much spontaneous get- togethers. God is SO growing me in this area and honestly, I am loving it.

I've given up wanting all things to be perfect from the way my house looks to planning the perfect meal. I've done it all. I really love having people in our home and have been told many times that I have that "gift". What people don't always know is what is going on in the inside. I was still so very focused on all the details and sometimes missing out on connecting or making myself completely available to the other person.

I want God to use my gift of hospitality to build friendships and connect with others in ways that really matter.

Thank you for sharing such words of wisdom. I wish you didn't live so far away so that you could be my mentor! Just know that you have a faithful reader out here in blog land:)

Ms. Tee said...

I totally agree - what an encouragement this post (& your blog) is to so many. :)

The photos of you and your friends are so cute - have a Merry Christmas!

Kirstin said...

great post Sandy. I agree....the thing I struggle with is comparison, especially when there are so many amazing hostesses around me whose budgets are twice what mine is and I see all the platters, etc...the home just right and I feel that I pale in comparison to it. I'm learning to realize that I'm "me" and I need not compare, but that's okay.

You are a great encourager. Thanks for all the amazing tips...

soooo does your daughter take all the pictures of you throughout your posts (which I think are awesome by the way).

ellen b. said...

Over the years I have had those perfectionist moments but there always seemed to be something to shatter that the perfection :0)
Learning to laugh about the imperfection was a great lesson too. Today my efforts have been translated from "showing off" to honoring the people I've invited with a beautiful table or good food. When I focus on the company instead of my performance, things seem "right". Sandy! If I don't get around before Christmas may you and yours have a wonderful celebration of Joy honoring the coming of our King!!

Jen r. said...

What a lucky winner! Your blog looks great, I am off to look around a little more!

The Blissfully Happy Housewife said...

WOW....this post really hit home with me. Just yesterday we had my husbands family over for dinner. I love, love, love entertaining so much and get a lot of joy from just "taking care of everything myself" however....lately I've questioned my whole motive there. I enjoy it, but is it enjoyable for those visiting? Are my intentions where they should be?

Your post was FANTASTIC...I absolutely enjoyed reading and will be back!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog too!!


Anonymous said...

What a perfect choice. Mrs. R seems to "get it" and will definitely benefit from your bits of knowledge.
Thanks for sharing.
Lynne in NC

~j~ said...

beautiful...another great post as a plumb line for practicing true hospitality.
Congratulations to Miss G!

Michelle said...

Oh YUM right back! I think I am just gaining weight looking at all this good holiday food on everyone's blogs. Ha! This is my first visit to your blog. I could easily get hooked. :) Thanks for visiting me!

Vintage Mommy said...

Wow...thanks for such a great post. I really can't thank you enough--reading it brought tears to my eyes. I've put hospitality on the back burner, because I have 4 very young children (ages 5, 4, 3 and 3). Just tonight, as I was putting putting away their snow boots, I thought to myself, "I'm turning into a very lonely mommy." I don't feel very connected with other women right now. My house is always in disarray; it makes me embarrassed to have people over.

Charity Grace said...

Thanks for the reminder to put away the image. Yesterday wasn't at all what I envisioned, but I kept thinking of what you said.