A Table in The Desert Place

A Guest Writer Series

He Sets a Table for You In the Midst of Hard Times

Welcome, your place is ready. Sit down. Breath. Feel your soul exhale as you wrap your hands around a warm cup of tea and a story. The stories shared here are the perfect mix of encouragement and practical. These writers want to share a bit of their heart with you so that gathering at the table is seen in the right light. Gathering together is how we are wired. Gathering at the table is how we are formed and known. Praying for you, that as you read your soul will fill its worth, He is waiting for you at Table, come.


“So what is your plan? What are you gonna do when the house sells?” I pause for a brief moment before replying. This thought rushes in, “This is just absolutely nuts-I must be either crazy, avoidant, or completely full of faith in God.” To be honest, there could be a mixture of all three mixed in with my ever changing emotions in my journey with the Lord. “Well, I don’t know…we’ll figure it out when we need to,” I replied to her. I’m relying on the faith and hope that He will sustain my family and me as I lean on Jesus and what He says to be true.  

Have you ever been there, friend,  wondering just how in the world you are going to keep it all going? Well, grab a tea or coffee or the last bit of energy you may have and let’s chat for a bit. 

When my sweet friend, Daisy, asked me to provide a piece for this blog series, I immediately laughed probably a lot like Sarah laughed when God said she was going to have a baby by the following year. I started wondering, “What can I write that could possibly bring some encouragement to someone during a difficult season?” Honestly, the well felt like it had run dry. What I can offer is simply part of my story-a little snapshot into this “desert place” we are facing and just how beautiful gathering around a table has been and will be during uncertain and difficult times.

“I just received a termination letter,” my husband says over the phone. In short, he lost his job without any reason, any cause, or any explanation. This news blasted into our lives on the heels of the passing of my dear cousin and my husband’s loss of his aunt, who was like another mother to him. My parents were staying long term with us each dealing with newly diagnosed health problems. Meanwhile, my mother in law struggled with her health while trying to care for her husband in and out of the hospital. I felt and,quite honestly, still feel like I’m on a battlefield. And as if that wasn’t enough, one of our children began struggling with some serious issues and the other was simply not fitting in at school- and needing additional help with studying and focus. My prayers during all this became fragmented, cries for help and strength. There are days where the only prayers I can muster are simply calling out to God His characteristics and His promises…because honestly it is all my spirit can do. Meditating on His sovereignty and faithfulness while recalling the promise of never leaving me has been a source of strength. “Be still and know that I am God”, “in the presence of the Lord is the fullness of joy”, and “I will never leave you” have been breathed into my soul and as I repeat them back, I feel the strength for that moment. While this practice has proven to be healing and transforming, it isn’t all the Lord is using. 

The table in the desert place is really what this is about. My desert place today looks like losing a close family member, losing a job, uncertainty about children, and health concerns while also wanting to remain faithful in the work the Lord has called me to. Your desert place may look different but I wager you can relate to this list. While I still struggle at times to rely on the Lord completely, I am always amazed to find He has been preparing a way for me all along. A group of us had committed to gather at the table for a meal each month to listen to each other, and care for one another’s hearts. Let me be honest…while all of this has been happening in my life, the last thing I have wanted to do is gather together, listen to, and be there for other people. My plate is full-I am a wife, mom, daughter, daughter in law, bible study leader, bible teacher, volunteer, and substitute teacher….how in the world can I do anything else right now?! Although I’m not proud to admit these feelings, speaking them outloud to Jesus primarily but also to friends who will listen without judgment is freeing. The encouragement I have received from them pushes me past the limiting and intrusive thoughts, and this has been an undeniably significant part of this journey. 

As I went to the table one evening, I arrived hungry, exhausted, and frustrated. I even remember saying, “I may only stay for a little while, gals.” But as I crunched down on the most delicious candied apple, my erected walls began crumbling. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to open up fully about the circumstances I was walking through. That night as we ate and poured out our hearts to each other, we ended up petitioning the Lord for what was heavy in each of our lives. It was sacred ground; a holy moment that just an hour before I wasn’t willing to receive. But isn’t this the beauty of gathering together around a table with your friends who love Jesus more than themselves or their agendas? Our food wasn’t elaborate that evening and the table wasn’t elaborately adorned, but the unforgettable beauty of that night was a group of women on their knees before their Creator crying to the One who heals, the One who provides, and the One who fights for us.

The table became an altar on which we reminded  each other that only King Jesus can satisfy us in a way that lasts. While my physical body has experienced hunger since then, my spirit continues to draw encouragement even now from His miraculous gift that evening.  As I write this, I’m planning to have them at my home in a few days. I’m smiling because even though nothing has changed in our uncomfortable and stressful situation, there is something that remains-Jesus. He is my source of strength. He is giving me the ability, energy, and excitement to plan a meal and prepare my table for our next meal. Setting the table is not just one more thing to do during the holiday season. Instead I want to remind you that  gathering around the table is a gift one through which miracles happen with eternal repercussions. Remember, He sets the table first for you even in the midst of arid desert places and it is only sweet, King Jesus who provides in the midst of what feels impossible.



Photo by: Christina Von Moll

Amber writes in Dayton, OH from her dining table in front of a large bay window, always looking for the light. As a Mother, Writer, and Bible teacher she encourages women to open the word and befriend faithfulness. When she is not chauffeuring her children you will find her enjoying good food with her husband, reading, or setting the table for an impromptu lunch!

Connect with Amber

Email: amberrod22@gmail.com

Noonday Shop

Instagram: @amberrod22

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Santa Cookie Recipe

The Art of Gathering

A Guest Writer Series

Holiday Traditions Bind our Hearts for Generations

Welcome, your place is ready. Sit down. Breath. Feel your soul exhale as you wrap your hands around a warm cup of tea and a story. The stories shared here are the perfect mix of encouragement and practical. These writers want to share a bit of their heart with you so that gathering at the table is seen in the right light. Gathering together is how we are wired. Gathering at the table is how we are formed and known. Praying for you, that as you read your soul will fill its worth, He is waiting for you at Table, come.


I come by it honestly, my love for creating a cozy and beautiful home, a space that you want to gather with those you love. That is true of me throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season. My mom always had a way of making Christmas feel magical and special, and that had a lot to do with the family traditions that she and my dad created for my brothers and I, and it’s something that I love having the opportunity to do as mom to my three little girls. The twinkling lights throughout the house, a tree in (almost!) every room, and my ever growing collection of vintage Santa’s add to the fun, but it is the little traditions that really make it feel extra special year after year.

Central to my memories of holiday gathering’s growing up involves a lot of flour, butter, and yummy things baking in the oven. From pies, to cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, my mom’s delicious turtle bars, and chocolate fudge, we love making our favorite sweet treats each year. But the one that most certainly stands out the most in my memory, and will hopefully continue for generations to come, are my Grandma Perkin’s Butter Cookies. I have the sweetest memory of calling my Grandma on the phone when I was home from college one year because I couldn’t find her recipe and she of course was ready and willing to share. I still have the scrap of paper that I wrote it down on and I tear up every year when I pull it out of the recipe box. 

Now, the recipe is of course a necessary component, but it is the cookie cutter itself that is central to the story. I didn’t know until a couple of years ago, that the tradition started when my mom was a little girl, and my Grandma baked Santa Cookies (as we call them) for my mom’s 1st grade (December) birthday party at school. From that point on they became a yearly favorite for my mom and grandmother and now for me and my girls. Being the avid thrifter and antiquer that I am, I always have my eye out for that one special Santa cookie cutter that we have used for decades. My mom’s sister Janet, and her kids have one, as do my brothers and their kiddos, and my girls and I cherish ours. I have collected 10 or more over the years, and as we were growing our families we tried to make sure each new addition has one as well.

As soon as my girls were old enough to help, they have been helping me roll out and decorate these cookies (he must have a red hat and a white beard) and it is a tradition I hope that they will remember and share with their children someday. 

Grandma Perkins’ Butter Cookie Recipe

Ingredients for the cookies:

1 cup softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 T vanilla

3 cups flour

1/2 t. baking powder

Vanilla Buttercream Icing:

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4 T butter

1 tsp Vanilla 

4 T milk


1.Cream together the soft butter, sugar and egg

2.Stir in Vanilla

3.Add flour and Baking powder and mix.

4.*optional* You can chill the dough for 30 minutes before you roll them out to make the dough easier to work with.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees

6. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters of your choice (but we of course recommend Santa!)

7. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes

8. While the cookies cool make the vanilla buttercream

9. Mix all butter cream ingredients in the mixing bowl and whip until creamy!

Once cool decorate and Enjoy!

The Tenderness of a Holiday Tradition

I’ve so enjoyed taking the time to think through this holiday tradition that is so near and dear to my heart, and thank Daisy for inviting me to share it with you! I hope that you will make your own batch of Grandma Perkins’ Butter Cookies as you share the season with those you love. Because in our house, it doesn’t *truly* feel like Christmas until we’ve had our first bite of Santa Cookie. 



Photo by: Courtney Patch

Courtney is a fair trade stylist and storyteller who has a deep love for thrifting, travel, photography, and motherhood. She thrifts and bakes in St. Louis but her wanderlust heart is alway thinking of her next travel adventure.

Connect with Courtney

Visit her Noonday Shop

Email: courtneypnoonday@gmail.com

Facebook: Courtney Steever Patch

Instagram: @Courtstylesthriftedandfair_stl

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The Art of Gathering

A Guest Writer Series

Cultivating a Spirit of Togetherness this Holiday Season

Welcome, your place is ready. Sit down. Breath. Feel your soul exhale as you wrap your hands around a warm cup of tea and a story. The stories shared here are the perfect mix of encouragement and practical. These writers want to share a bit of their heart with you so that gathering at the table is seen in the right light. Gathering together is how we are wired. Gathering at the table is how we are formed and known. Praying for you, that as you read your soul will fill its worth, He is waiting for you at Table, come.


Gathering with friends and family, especially during the holidays, is a treasured gift. To see loved one’s faces and hear their familiar voices nourishes our souls just as the meal nourishes the body. 

We know, however, that it’s not always possible to have everyone we love gathered around the table. While it’s never the same without the uncle who cracks the corny jokes, the grandmother who bakes a family recipe to perfection, or the sibling who helps to make the unseen feel seen. There are ways to honor their absence, as well as create lasting memories for those who are around the table. In honoring those far or no longer with us, we cultivate a spirit of togetherness that will thread gratitude throughout the generations. Grounding us to the present and helping us see that our time of gathering whether in person or in spirit remind us that we have received grace upon grace. 

Ideas to Cultivate a Spirit of Togetherness

Because sometimes we need a go to list of ways to be together without a big fuss, I have made you a list to tuck away, go to when you need a reminder for how to extend an invitation, and gather those near and far. 

Choose joy. Focus on those who will be around our table this holiday season. Not every situation creates happiness, but we can always choose joy. Though we miss those around our table, we can choose to celebrate the power of being present with those who are with us.  

Send a card. If possible, ask as many relatives as possible to either sign your card or send one of their own to the person who is unable to attend. Be specific about why you will miss them. 

Fill up plates. Does the missing someone live nearby? If their absence is due to an illness, deliver a plate of food (and don’t skimp on the pie!). Deliver it with a smile and a holiday-sized air hug to make it extra special. Food has a way of bringing people together in a way few other things do.

Plan a Facetime or Zoom session ahead of time. It will give everyone something to look forward to, especially the person who is unable to be there in person. 

Give to others. Donate the money usually spent on additional groceries to a ministry that feeds the hungry during holidays in honor of those missing from your holiday table.

Create a “Why We Love You” Jar. Write down various reasons why you love the person who is missing on slips of paper. Place them in a plastic jar to ship, or mail only the slips of paper in an envelope, if you prefer. Include directions to draw one a day leading up to the holiday and read it aloud. It’s sure to be a warm reminder of your love for them. 

Create a table runner. A week or two before the holiday, ask loved ones to draw and/or write messages on Kraft paper. Cut it to the size of a placemat or table runner. Drop it in the mail in time for missing loved ones to place it on their holiday table. If you’re unable to create a table runner, consider writing messages on a card that can be folded and put on display. As always, it’s the message that matters most. 

Make a voice recording. Pass a phone around the table so that everyone can share with the missing loved one that they’re missed. By sending a recorded message, your loved one can listen to it on repeat. 

Make a video. Like the voice recording, pass a phone to each person and record a short message. The advantage of sending a video is that the missing loved one can see both their faces and hear their voices, which is a blessing indeed. 

Add an empty chair around the table. It’s a simple but powerful reminder that although a loved one’s physical presence is missing, they are not forgotten. 

Share memories. When we share specific things remembered from past holidays, especially with the younger generation, we partner with God, reminding everyone present that they belong to your family, and hopefully, a godly family heritage. If the missing loved ones have passed, ask everyone to celebrate their memory by sharing their own favorite remembrance of them. 

Speak truth. Write holiday-themed scripture verses on small cards, handing out one to each person around the table. In place of a meal prayer (or in addition to), take turns reading the various cards. The Word is living and active and the most powerful source of togetherness regardless of who is present around our table. 

A Prayer of Togetherness

Take a deep breath and remember that it’s not up to you to make togetherness happen but you get to partner with the Maker of Unity. You get to partner with the Prince of Peace so come before him in prayer and join him in the art of gathering through his strength.

Heavenly Father, we are thankful for the spirit of togetherness we share with You through Jesus Christ. As we navigate this holiday season without loved ones present, help us to remember that You are here in our midst, offering comfort and joy despite the disappointment. Show us how to be present—emotionally, spiritually, and physically—with everyone You seat around our table for Your purposes and pleasure. Amen. 



Photo by: Mindy Braun

Cathy Baker writes from a tiny studio lovingly known as The Tiny House on the Hill in the Foothills of SC. As an author, Hope Writer, and Bible teacher for over twenty-five years, she encourages women to pause and embrace the seemingly small, mundane moments of their day for God’s glory. She invites you to join her in the tiny house where you’re always welcome to come on in and take a seat. There, you’ll find a free copy of Ways to Pray Throughout Your Home. You can also connect with her on Instagram or inside her free Creative Pauses Facebook Group.

Connect with Cathy

Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill

Email: CathyBakerAuthor@gmail.com

Author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach and Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains

Facebook: Cathy S Baker

Instagram: @cathysbaker

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The Brave Path to Authentic Community

If Table Dayton Picture by: Echo by Design

One of the bravest things I’ve done is set the table.

Arriving at that moment came after a lonely path of yearning and longing. Here we are in the midst of a pandemic and setting the table for company seems to be out of reach doesn’t it? We find ourselves yearning and longing for time together, but mostly to know and be known.

I moved across the country a starry-eyed newlywed filled with dreams and the excitement of discovery. There was little room to think about the fact that I didn’t know anyone and I was blinded to the loneliness lurking in the midst of so much joy. The endless introductions that ended with promises to see each other soon left me disheartened as the promises remained unfulfilled. People have always been a source of joy and energy for me and suddenly, I found myself surrounded by them but lonely. Yet, I could feel the Lord’s constant reminder, “I am your friend and your greatest reward – remain in me.” So, today I will share with you three times I bravely set the table and how the Lord met me there.

I’ve had the honor of writing about this brave practice on Becky Beresford’s Brave Women Series. Please go there and finish reading and get to know how community is really not complicated but it takes courage to engage.

Being part of the Hopewriters Community has encouraged me to connect with other writers like Becky and I couldn’t be more excited for this community!

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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.