Navigation Menu

Storied Dishes || ~ a Grace Table feature ~

May

03

Posted by on May 3, 2017 | 0 comments

GraceTable_StoriedDishes

After we got engaged I couldn’t wait to finally get to choose an everyday china pattern and register for our dishes and gifts. (How in the world was that almost 30 years ago?) I didn’t need to choose fine china; I had inherited my mother’s Malden by Oxford, simple, rimmed in gold, and stunning.

I’m one of those who believes kitchen art begins with pretty dishes.

A spectacularly set table doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy and expensive, but with a little thought and intention – flowers and greenery plucked from your yard, handwritten place cards, a centerpiece created with found objects from your home – you can design a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to begin our life together, to open our home, and experiment with new-to-me recipes. We didn’t have Pinterest or the internet to mine ideas, but we had magazines and the traditions of our own families, plenty to get us started.

I’ve always been drawn to color, and my first choice for everyday dishes was Villeroy & Boch’s Fruit Basket; predominately green and yellow, it was just so doggone happy. But it was also pricey for an everyday, and sensitive to gift-givers’ budgets, I ended up choosing Poppies on Blue, a popular-in-the-80s Lenox pattern.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.41.42 AM

 

We received all the place settings we registered for in addition to serving bowls and platters, the cream and sugar, and I think even the salt and pepper shakers. These were the dishes of our newlywed years, a part of countless meals shared with friends and family, and eventually with our own children.

Right around the time the poppies began fading, my tastes began changing. With a move from South Carolina to Tennessee, I decided timing was perfect for buying new dishes; this time around, I went with a neutral. When I wanted a splash of color, I’d pick up festive placemats. My once-beloved Poppies on Blue was relegated to a box in the attic, waiting for my children to grow up and move into their own home, or the bigger dream, a heart-secret I’ve held close for all these years.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Recently, I enjoyed a girls weekend out of town, and we decided an Airbnb rental would accommodate the space and flexibility we wanted. With many options to choose from, we decided a small, three-bedroom near downtown was best.

Our first night there we planned a simple dinner–wine, cheese, fruit and the like, and we began rummaging through cabinets for the dishes we’d need.

And then God winked. Twice.

 

Do pop over to Grace Table to see why I can’t help but think God is especially fond of me :).
Sometimes He’s kind enough to assure you you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be….

More Recent Posts

Love at the Table {a tribute for Grace Table}

Nov

20

Posted by on Nov 20, 2016 | 1 comment

love-at-the-table-robin-dance-for-gracetable

I still remember the first time I met her, emerging from the shadow of her garage to meet us at the car. Her eyes were the same piercing blue as his; or rather, I suppose, his, hers. I think I told her so right then.

I don’t know if he and I were in love yet but we were headed in that direction. He brought me home to meet his parents, after all; obviously, something was simmering.

Three decades are sandwiched between then and now but I can still recall two things about that weekend: initial introductions and Sunday lunch.

A college sophomore subsisting on starchy dining hall fare, I had come to deeply appreciate home cooking. It was a thing a kid takes for granted if they’re fortunate enough to have a family that gathers for dinner more often than not (I was one of the lucky ones). Sarah’s table was beautiful, set with Haviland china, sterling, and crystal. Platters and bowls full of comfort covered every square inch. Everything looked – and smelled – delicious. It wouldn’t take long to find out every dish delivered what it promised.

I wasn’t shy about helping myself to seconds, and Sarah declared how glad she was for her son to bring home a girl who would eat. I was a little embarrassed at her observation, but I took it as the sincere compliment she intended.

That was the first of dozens (hundreds?) of  meals I’d enjoy around my in-law’s table. Sarah’s recipes account for a substantial portion of my own culinary arsenal. Her fried chicken is magical, her sour cream pound cake might well be the best in the world, and Thanksgiving isn’t the same without her dressing. Her hand-pressed butter mints are magical.

Sarah’s life has preached hospitality without her ever needing to say a word; she’s a There you are! person from the moment you step through her door. Around her table, there’s always room for one more. Her whole life has been an offering poured out in service to others, most often through her oven.

She has always understood that something special happens when family and friends gather ’round a table. Frequently using her china taught me not to wait to use my own. Sarah recognized that extraordinary moments are found within our ordinary days.

But with Thanksgiving next week and Christmas just around the corner,
I’m acutely aware how life has changed….

* * * 

I hope you’ll click to complete reading Love at The Table over at Grace Table. Grab tissues….

More Recent Posts

The Gift of Hospitable Countenance

May

25

Posted by on May 25, 2015 | 1 comment

Quote about countenance

Wisdom lights up a person’s face, softening its harshness. ~ Ecclesiastes 8:1b

There is great possibility in face-to-face encounter.
~ Jean Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life

Have you ever thought about how much your appearance and expressions are communicating something to those around you? What is it that you have been saying when you haven’t been speaking?

It was Jean Fleming in her transformative work, Pursue the Intentional Life, who first scattered seed for an idea that rooted quick and deep in my heart and soul: the ministry of countenance.

Jean says it this way:

Those of us who know God, who have been saved from destruction and eternal lostness, who carry around in our bodies the treasure of knowing the gospel and the Holy Spirit Himself, should radiate something of that wonder.” (p. 84, Pursue the Intentional Life)

Our countenance reveals who we are, and a radiant countenance can reveal Whose we are. The difference between forcing a smile and something birthed in our interior places (when God removes our stony, stubborn hearts and replaces them with tender, responsive hearts (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)) is ev-er-y-thing.

Our pastor once offered this simple definition for wisdom: seeing our lives, the world and circumstance through God’s eyes. How I long to gain the kind of Ecclesiastical wisdom that “puts light in my eyes and gives gentleness to my words and manners.” (Ecclesiastes 8:1 MSG)

A ministry of countenance is less about what we say or do (though these things are important) and more about how we speak and respond–

  • Active listening vs. passive or distracted listening
  • Being fully present, interested and observant
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Demonstrating kindness, love, encouragement, empathy, patience and concern with our words and body language

And it hit me that a ministry of countenance is true hospitality–when someone leaves my company feeling better about themselves than about me! We don’t have to be entertaining guests in our home to extend hospitality; it’s demonstrated every time we offer friendly and generous treatment to others.

A ministry of countenance goes hand in hand with a hospitable spirit. Together they have the potential and power to impact everyone they touch for the better.

The opposite is true, too. An inhospitable spirit and dour countenance can crush the heart it touches.

During the year we lived in Germany, we took advantage of our location to travel around Europe as much as we could afford. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in London, happening upon a Remembrance Day parade during an afternoon stroll. I’ll never forget a conversation I overheard while smushed among the throng of parade watchers–

Please click to continue reading at Grace Table; this story was one of the times it’s uncomfortable to be a fly on the wall, and a reminder of who I always hope to be.

More Recent Posts

I believe in magic (& I bet you do, too!) :: Traditions & Sacred Space

Nov

24

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 | 1 comment

The kitchen table is a special place - by Robin Dance

 

With all my heart I believe in magic. Oh, how I hope we’re the same, you and me.

Not rabbits out of hats or the dark and mystical, only in the sweetest sense of the word. The things that steal my breath, explode my heart, and make me want to burst into an ovation of gratitude; seriously, those closest to me know I clap (or jump) in the presence of magical delights– How a bird gathers twigs and twine and puzzles them into a home…

The way a firefly strobes on a warm summer night…

Rainbows after storms, skies striped in lightning, a wave’s thunderous applause…

And what happens around my kitchen and dining room tables.

mag·ic (‘majik)
noun: quality that makes something seem removed from everyday life,
especially in a way that gives delight,
something that has a delightfully unusual quality. adjective: wonderful; exciting

It doesn’t matter if we’re with family or friends, time is suspended when we gather at a table

We eat, we drink, we give and receive, and for those few extraordinary moments, we’re removed from a sometimes harsh world in a way that wholly celebrates life.
A table is a special place, a sacred space, where heart, soul and body are nourished. It is home alter and first classroom, where we learn to serve and be served.

Thanksgiving is within spitting distance and Christmas is right around the corner, both when traditions scatter deep and wide.  I love that about the holidays, don’t you? The older I get the more I appreciate the value in our family’s traditions, the practices my people have learned to expect year after year. I’m convinced traditions aren’t just important, they matter for a lot of reasons. It’s never too late to begin a new tradition, and the holiday season seems to have many anchored right around the table.

gracetablelogoPlease click to continue reading On Magic, Traditions and Sacred Tables over at Grace Table today! I’m thrilled to be part of this incredible, beautiful online community where you’ll be immediately drawn to a collective heart for hospitality. What you’ll find is that doesn’t always look like what you think. Today I want to hear about your family’s traditions, which may or may not be about the upcoming holidays–and be sure to share your favorite recipes! I’m still looking for a few new things to add to our Thanksgiving meal!!





More Recent Posts