Real Life Hospitality

by Emma Carsey

Runaway Imaginations Damper the True Vision of Hospitality

“This belief (or unbelief) frequently keeps me from opening up my home. Because it’s not perfect. It’s not how I imagine it to be. It’s not the way I *want* to host or prefer to host. It’s not the beautiful experience I so desperately wish I could offer.”

Early morning sunlight streams through the large windows in the kitchen and dining room. The windows are almost the length of the wall. We wanted our home to be bright when we were in the process of buying and thus, we even opted out of window treatments. Coffee is brewing, the diffuser is going, and I hear the sound of little feet upstairs. Our home is open concept so from my kitchen I can see the bar, the dining room, and the living room. The kitchen sink looks out over our property so I’ll be able to watch the kids play outside later this afternoon. 

I start cracking eggs for breakfast that our chickens laid. My sister-in-law and her girls will be up soon. I’m so thankful we have a space to be able to host them. Our guest room is a beautiful bedroom with a Queen bed with the most comfortable linens, more big windows, and a huge fiddle leaf fig in the corner. Plus, it has its own bathroom. Plus, it’s got extra space for cots and we keep a crib in there as well. They came to play for a couple of days. We love hosting them. And the chance for our kids to be able to just play.

I stop for a minute and stare out in our home. My heart full of gratitude. My husband made our farmhouse table. I love that table. There are only five of us in our family but it seats twelve. We have a large extended family (by blood and by choice) and there are almost always people coming and going from our home and gathering at our table.

It’s easy for me to believe that this needs to be true in order to be a good host. My current kitchen has one small window over the sink, it faces the side of our neighbors house. The paint around the window is peeling. I don’t have a dishwasher or counter space. My house is divided by walls so I can’t see my children play in our living room or our dining room unless I physically turn around or walk out to see them (mostly because I’m always doing dishes). My husband works from home in our bedroom so space there is tight. Our middle two kiddos share a room and the baby gets his own space because he wakes easily. While we have a liveable third floor, the temperature isn’t regulated and if someone were to stay up there, I fear they’d wake the baby going up the creaky old stairs in our 106 year old home.

This belief (or unbelief) frequently keeps me from opening up my home. Because it’s not perfect. It’s not how I imagine it to be. It’s not the way I *want* to host or prefer to host. It’s not the beautiful experience I so desperately wish I could offer. Instead it’s a blow up mattress in our living room and metal folding chairs at our table to seat additional guests.

This weekend we actually hosted my brother and sister-in-law and their four children. It was not ideal, simply in that it’s not my ideal vision. But it’s ideal in the fact that my home does not dictate my hospitality. I read once that hosting is about you but hospitality is about them. And I can be (hope I was) incredibly hospitable in the home the Lord has given us now. Yes, it’s more work. But grabbing their favorite foods, leaving out glasses for water at night, having extra blankets and pillows, making them meals – none of that requires a big, beautiful farm house. It simply requires a heart that says “what’s mine is yours and you’re welcome here.”

…”none of that requires a big, beautiful farm house. It simply requires a heart that says “what’s mine is yours and you’re welcome here.”

Emma Carsey

With this renewed vision I will focus instead on what I can offer. I can offer a place to sit and gather around healthy food. I will let my creativity run wild in helping other busy moms put beautiful and affordable meals around their table so they can enjoy their loved ones. I will enjoy the sweet presence of Jesus in each one of the guests I welcome in, knowing that I would not have known that facet of God’s character but through them.Will you join me? Let’s embrace real life hospitality and remind our imaginations of the beauty that each interaction holds, set there especially for us.

About the Author: Emma Carsey is a wife and homeschool mom of 3. You can typically find her in the kitchen baking sourdough, cooking from an actual cookbook, or fetching snacks. She says, “If we were to grab dinner, I’d suggest tacos. We’d stay until closing and I’d ask you a ton of personal questions. I love drinks – all the drinks – red wine, black coffee, oat milk lattes, margaritas, white apple juice, ice water, mimosas, craft beer, hot tea, I love ‘em all! I’m just as much a breakfast enthusiast – breakfast burrito, waffles, frittata, grapefruit, donuts, oatmeal bake – yes, please! Also, a big fan of being outside, audiobooks, true crime, house slippers, hotels, Valentine’s Day, fleece pullovers, and of course, avocados.”

She is the master mind behind Avocado Meal Plans. At the heart of Avocado Meal Plans is coming together around the table. She believes that at tend of the day serving a healthy meal is a beautiful way to serve our loved ones. Emma knows that taking her passion and knowledge for planning affordable, healthy meals gives moms more time to gather around the table with their families. You will be glad you checked out her meal plans and find yourself having more time to savor the people around your table.

I hope you have enjoyed this encouraging story from my friend Emma. To make things even more exciting there will be a giveaway up on IG inviting you to savor life everyday!

Success! You're on the list.


Kindred Spirits Book Friends

by Rachel Dodge

Finding Kindred Spirits

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

I received this text from a dear friend who joined my family for dinner recently. She doesn’t have a family of her own to share meals with and her message reminded me to value something I typically take for granted. I’m fortunate to have nightly meals with my husband and two children. Around the table, we talk about our days, sometimes laughing, other times commiserating, but always sharing our lives together. While these meal times meet our physical needs, this table fellowship also meets our emotional and spiritual needs.Gathering around books has always been a natural and necessary part of my life. When I was little, my father read the newspaper to me after work while my mother cooked dinner. Before nap time, during long car rides, in doctor’s waiting room–even in the middle of the night with the chicken pox–my mother read whole books to us. Everywhere we went, she kept a book (usually atattered copy of one of Laura Ingalls’ Little House on the Prairie books) tucked under her arm. It didn’t matter where we’d left off last; she just opened the book and start reading.

I supposed you could say we were the original read-aloudrevival family!

As I got older, my parents and brother and I continued to read out loud, swap books, and talk about literature around the dinner table and everywhere else, but I rarely found other people who liked reading as much as I did—and certainly not the sweet, old-fashioned books I enjoyed. At school, I was the one with my nose in a book, the one who loved to dress up as favorite literary characters, the one who liked the “olden days.” In high school and college, I was the reader, the writer, and the English major. Everywhere I went, I always kept eyes peeled for “kindred spirits”—those who shared my love for beautiful books, charming characters, and heart-warming stories.

Perhaps that’s why I find it so enchanting to have found so many kindred spirits, in recent years, who love to gather online to talk about books. I kind of feel like Anne Shirley when she said, “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” (Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery)

I used to think I just needed to grow up and let go of my quaint ideas about life and literature, but now I know that I just needed to find my people.

Thanks to the ability to gather online to discuss books, I now know I’m not the only one who loves old books and old-fashioned things. Other people love to read treasured classics over and over again, too! In fact, I found out that many people read for comfort, are “mood” readers like me, and love to discuss favorite books. Best of all, many of my bookish friends are also sisters in Christ, which means we get to fellowship together . . . and talk about books!

Follow Rachel on IG

For those looking for ways to gather with others and foster genuine community around books, I think the best place to start is a buddy read (or group read-along). I’ll never forget readingLes Misérables in 2020 with a group of women from all around the world. That experience was epic in so many ways! I could have never slogged through it alone, but with my faithful reading buddies beside me, I knew I couldn’t give up. I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite books now, but I don’t know if I love Les Mis because it’s so good or because I have so many great memories attached to it. Gathering online like that for over six months was about so much more than just the challenge and victory of reading a really, really long novel; it was about grasping hands with other women across continents when the world was shut down and life was filled with heartache and unknowns.

‘Reading together creates community and friendship. It’s a way for women to connect with other women and do something that nourishes the mind and the soul. It’s a valuable investment for those who find deep connection with others through shared reading experiences.

Rachel Dodge

Since that first buddy read, I’ve continued to bond with awonderful group of bookish friends online. I’ve participated in buddy reads, launch teams, giveaways, and group chats. Many of the women I’ve met online have become my sister-friends and prayer partners. I have even met some them in person while traveling for vacations, events, and conferences!

Best of all, as an author of classics based devotional books, I also have the unique privilege of writing books that provide a space for women to gather together to talk about their favorite books and grow in their faith. I can’t imagine a more wonderful thing!

Books have provided a gathering place for me my whole life, and I’m so thankful. I honestly can’t imagine a life without books—or my bookish friends.

About the Author: Rachel Dodge is the bestselling author of The Anne of Green Gables Devotional, The Little Women Devotional, and Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Rachel’s newest book is The Secret Garden Devotional! Rachel teaches college English classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and book clubs, and writes for the popular Jane Austen’s World blog. A true kindred spirit at heart, Rachel enjoys books, bonnets, and ball gowns. You can find her online at

Visit Daisy’s IG here

I hope you have enjoyed this encouraging story from my friend Rachel. To make things even more exciting Rachel and I are so excited to partner for a Kindred Spirits Giveaway just in time for Galentine’s Day! Visit both of our IG communities and find how to enter there! Rachel’s IG


Success! You're on the list.

Hola! Hello.

Echo by Design

Daisy here, welcoming you and smiling with anticipation. I am grateful that you took the time to stop by. Here we are encountering each other because in unexpected ways our paths collided. Welcome to the table, it is set and you’re the guest of honor. Welcome to this little corner of the world that exists for encouragement, companionship and practical hospitality.

The artistry of the table is awe-inspiring yet simplifies life. It thrives on creating beauty and memories that encourage our souls to rest. Asking us to lean into slow and purposeful connections while ushering in mindful living. Gathering at the table will become a needed practice because there you will learn to savor food and delight in each other.

My journey to the table has been intricate, full of surprises, but super life-giving. Almost 10 years ago, I began documenting the start of new season of life but mainly my escapades in the kitchen and around the table. Already, it was evident that for me life happened with passion around those two spaces. Little did I know I was becoming a woman of the table. I was sending out a homing signal to the other people of the table and they got the message! Today, I am so glad you recognized that signal and it lead to our paths crossing.

A new season has begun in my life, one in which I am thrilled to claim a little corner here to create a beautiful space for you to come and belong. I will curate for you a little treasury of beauty through stories, recipes, and practical hospitality tips. But mostly I want to remind you to pay attention, be present, and still your heart with the truth that He delights over you. I am so glad you met me here, let’s link arms together in life.

In Dayton, OH I lead a team of women of the table. We host a monthly meals and we invite other women from around the city to join us for meaningful conversation, good food, and fed souls. I have discovered who I am becoming around those tables. I have been seen and heard because I created space for just that. So, as I embrace this graceful becoming I see that in all the little spaces of life I am becoming, albeit not always gracefully but always grace-filled.

It is for those same reasons that I step out to meet you here and encourage you friend, because the time invested in community is key in your becoming.

Tables are places of grace, sacred spaces of sustenance that infuse us with life, and make hospitality a practice in faith.

Daisy F. Dronen

Because community starts within your home I have created some conversation cards to encourage a richer time around the table with your family. A simple but very intentional way to be fully present right now. Find how you can join me monthly for tea here and get access to this download.