The Art of Gathering

A Guest Writer Series

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.


Connection
Meals
Joy
Sorrow
Journaling
Learning
School
Deep talks
Board games
Meaningful conversations
Meeting with my Maker

Gathering at the table represents more than eating a meal at dinner time, it’s the center of our home. I have encountered my Maker there for devotions in the early morning. It’s where my husband and I did our very first devotions together as husband and wife. Then with our boys nestled between us we hold family devotions together. We have expanded the table over the years to make room for our small groups and feasts with friends. The table is where every one of the boys birthdays has been decorated and celebrated. The table is a precious and integral part of our lives.

I remember the day I met Daisy for the first time at the table. I was invited by a friend to go to my first IF:Table and Daisy was the host. Event though the table was beautifully decorated and inviting, the one thing I recall is Daisy’s warm smile as she said, “Welcome.” That day marks the beginning of our gathering at table but thankfully of our friendship as well. Invitation does not call for a perfect place, just a place that is full of the Lord’s love and grace.

Gathering and making room at the table for others is important especially when you make space their season of grief. Over a year ago my dad passed away leaving me feeling a bit untethered. I found myself at the table and I found it full. Friends and family brought food and friendship to our table giving me the freedom to just be with my mom and extended family. What a gift. During those months we continued to meet with our small group, eating together created space for me to share my grieving heart. It was joy mixed with grief a reminder of the kingdom of God-the tension of the here and the not yet. My father is a believer in Jesus Christ he loved the Lord, and I know that I will see him again. I know that there will be moments when I will miss him espcially his prayers.

The way my parents practiced gathering around the table was to always have an open spot ready for anyone. I remember sharing the table with missionaries, friends, and sibling’s friends-eating together as a family. The more I gather at the table the more I realize that Inviting others over even if they say no, is important. The invitation is the just the beginning to know that you are thought of and invited is the catalyst to gathering authentically.

You don’t have to be the best cook, because I’m certainly not. If all else fails, make it a Mexican food night— you can’t go wrong. Everyone loves chips + salsa. Your heart for each other and the kindness of gathering at the table are what truly matters. So, do the inviting without hesitation because you have been invited first by the one who longs to meet you at the Table. He will give you the grace to make room at the table for others. I invite you to then pray ahead of time. Ask the Lord to meet you and your guests as you “break bread” together. May your table be filled with nourishing grace.

Gracefully,

Johanna

Devoted to my Maker. Married my husband David, for over 23 years + mom to three wonderful guys. Yes, I am surrounded by testosterone and BOY do I LOVE being their mom! I am a graphic designer by degree and author for the love of it. I’ve recently started selling Scripture Collections. My Christmas ScriptureCollection sets just launched, please visit me and get a set for your own table.

Connect with Johanna

Instagram
@johanna_devotedtomaker

Facebook


Let’s Connect over Tea!

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Freedom

a haiku on Motherhood and Life

A quick snack for any occasion


Creating together
A universe of wonder
Your eyes alight
Free





~dfd

Giselle and I made these quick treats on the Fourth of July.

I love that you can keep most of the ingredients on hand, and the colors can be adjusted for any occasion. Although I have made a version of these before, These were inspired by Brighter Day Press

Here’s a quick but detailed recipe.

Ingredients:

1 large packet of of Quick Candy bar (or 2 cups of Candy Melts)

1 cup of of blue candy melts

1/2 cup of red candy melts

1 bag Long pretzel rods (you will get about 24 rods)

White and blue Sprinkle stars

Parchment paper

2 microwave safe bowls

1 microwave safe jar or measuring jar

Spoon, fork, mini spatula

Cookie sheet

Instructions:

  • Gather all of your utensil and ingredients to your work area
  • Place one piece of parchment paper on the counter.
  • Place a second piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  • melt the white quick candy coating according to instruction
  • Dip the pretzel rods in the melted white chocolate place them on the cookie sheet and when full place it in the fridge to help them harden quicker.
  • While they harden melt the blue and red candy melts. Or divide up the white chocolate putting about half of cup and add food coloring to get the desired color.
  • Take the white dipped rods out of the fridge and dip the tip or as much as halfway in the blue chocolate.
  • While the blue is still wet sprinkle with stars
  • Dip the rest of the rods in white chocolate and put them in the fridge on the cookie sheet And repeat the blue dipping plus star sprinkling process on the newly hardened pretzels.
  • Next line them up side by side in both parchment papers
  • Melt the red colored candy melt
  • Using a fork drizzle the red chocolate over the white chocolate part of the pretzels

Let them harden and enjoy!

Or place a few in a treat bag and share with your neighbors!

P.s. catch the reel of us making these here.

Gracefully,

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Change

Change

It sometimes tip toes in 
It sometimes catches us by surprise 
But mainly it stops us and makes us pay attention.

I am adjusting constantly 
My body adjusts in microscopic ways unbeknownst to me
I adjust again 

A coffee sent me reeling 
A lack of in-home barista 
A lack of your presence 
I adjust again 

Reminding myself of your smile
Of the way my heart will flutter 
When you walk in the door 
I adjust again 

I wait 
Your presence a gift
I froth milk 
Reheat the coffee you left me 
I adjust again. 


~dfd


Shalom as we change with grace,

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Quick Apple Chicken Salad

Aunt Linda’s Chicken Salad Recipe


Sometimes a food will bring up nostalgic feelings, this salad always takes me back to a golden time in my life. A time of discovery, growing up, and lingering in the what could be. I loved sitting around Aunt Linda’s island chatting about school, she would check on our hearts, and together we wondered and dreamt about the future. Does food do that to you? I’d love it if you shared!

Today, I give you a snack that could also be used for lunch! Serve it over a bed of greens or on a veggie board along with humus and crackers. I hope you try it and then tuck it in to your go to recipes. You are going to love how it comes together quick and easy!

Ingredients:

12 oz shredded chicken (1 can)
2 green apples diced
1cup of raw almonds
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 tbsp of dry dill
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Begin by gathering all the ingredients to your work space

2. mix all ingredients in a large bowl

3. Serve and enjoy!

4. Can be refrigerated for a day or so, may dry out but just add a bit of mayo to moisten!

La Ensalada de Pollo de Tia Linda

Ingredientes:

12 oz de carne pollo desebrada (una lata)
2 manzanas verde cortadas en cubitos
1 taza de almendras crudas
1/4 taza de mayonesa
1/2 tbsp de eneldo seco (dry dill)
sal y pimiento al sabor preferid

Instruciones 

1. Comienza recogiendo todos los ingredientes

2. agrega los ingredientes a un tazón y mezcla

3. listo! sirve y disfruta!

4. puedes guardar la ensalada en la refrigeradora por un día, si se seca le puedes añadir un poco de mayonesa!

Buen provecho,

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Book Stack

A Poem to COVID-19

Oh Covid-19, 
Spring is here in its usual SPRING LIKE JASMINE way. 
You may feel like you are still blooming 
But know that we are PRAYING TOGETHER for your eradication.

I am happy to practice THE ART OF GATHERING again
Especially gathering for the good of others with Noonday
Although, you have caused so much disruption
There is beauty emerging out of the chaos 

In these last few years I have been able to GIVE MY CHILD THE WORLD 
Through homeschooling and exploring books together
 I have also spent more time examining our propensity to live BUSY LIVES that lead to RESTLESS SOULS.

And so I am re-reading ESSENTIALISM as I continue to focus on what truly matters as we long to live a purposeful life. 
I am now more than ever convinced that creating is an act of resistance 
And so we create and continue ADORNING THE DARK left in your wake. 

Although it may seem like I AM ALL OVER THE PLACE 
The COMFORT  BOOK reminded me that “cooking is the best kind of active meditation”  so weekly I practice meditation when I Prep and Pray 
This is my active stand in THE RUTHLESS ELIMINATION OF HURRY 


With your arrival so much of our normal activities ceased 
But we continue the sacred struggle in slowing down
And I long to live free and light WHEN STRIVINGS CEASE.

We learned to live and work from home 
We have also learned to live at home with our whole self 
Giving thanks for this good body is a new rhythm for me
And I can feel that I am slowly BREAKING FREE FROM BODY SHAME 

Even though you meant to ravish our bodies 
You don’t get the last word
These bodies are meant for greater purposes 

And Black women have beautifully embodied faith 
Like they are CARVED IN EBONY showing us all 
That “there is a justice in joy” so, CALL US WHAT WE CARRY 
Because we are healing through our collective poetry of love

Here I stand to BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US 
Covid 19 your presence desired to steal our peace
And fill us with anxiety but IN THE NAME OF JESUS 
We choose RHYTHMS OF RENEWAL

THIS BEAUTIFUL TRUTH will prevail 
We are stepping into Holy Ground 
Every small unseen moment is exactly 
Where heaven abounds. 

Shalom. 

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Wednesday Words

A Book Review

“Now, my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get before Father comes home.” 

Marmee March

I love reading, I have loved reading from the minute I learned to string words together. I am not sure why I had never read Little Women, but I am so glad I discovered it along side my kiddos! I will forever treasure reading this book together. We reread it this winter and I am so glad that I had Rachel’s new Little Women Devotional. This chapter by chapter companion truly spurred me to begin again as Marmee invites her girls to do. To begin again in a more gentle and slow way for all things. In parenting, to extend grace more earnestly when I just want compliance. In life, to wait with patience when I just want things to get done. In relationships, to wade deeper into uncertain pools as we love each other when I just want comfort and ease.

The beautiful devotions drew out of the chapter a still small voice that invited me to reflect and learn instead of only being entertained. The sweet illustrations added a whimsical feel and helped me imagine myself in the scene. I loved showing the pictures to the kiddos and they made sure I didn’t forget. The prayer that Rachel offers at the end of each devotional without fail touched on a need or a struggle we were facing that day.

I may or may not have cried as I read the devotionals. The last one was so sweet and encouraged me so much in motherhood. The kiddos all came around and hugged me when my voice cracked reading about the fruit of Marmee’s investment in her children. I believe reading this devotional together with my children not only strengthened our bond but also gave us more insight into how we can love each other better.

I hope you pick up this beautiful devotional and share one with a friend or daughter it will bless you immensely. This devotional will strengthen your faith and will also help you navigate suffering, and even discontentment with a right view of yourself and God.

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Quiet

#hopewriterlife Day 1 Challenge

Quiet is how my soul felt after my sister’s visit ended. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. The buzz of excitement and proximity came to a crescendo of togetherness.

There were many things I wanted to do and say but time slipped away as quickly as water through fingers. We left each place and experience already hoping for a next time…

As we sat together eating, remembering, and revisiting places familiar shortened the distance of so many years apart.

The day after their departure I found left overs in the fridge from our time together. I began to prepare them as I do my home made meals, realizing they were a special gift. They were a cord connecting me to a fulfilled longing. I loved that because of these leftovers I was able to linger in their gift of presence. It was their presence that stilled and quieted my soul in peace.

Maybe you are also navigating the murky waters of unfulfilled longings. maybe the waves overpower and you flail breathless and can’t catch a glimpse of the goodness available for you.

I want to remind you today, that you are not alone. I pray for you today. I pray that His gift of presence will supernaturally quiet and still your soul. Let those spaces tender, heal in the presence of Jesus.

As you emerge you will find your heart is ready to be available, present, and to serve wholeheartedly. With out expecting it you will begin to catch glimpses of the goodness specifically placed for you all around.

To share your space with your people is truly a generous gift from above.

Be strengthened with grace and love,

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On Grief

From the Ranch, a Poem

High up in the sky the sun 
the heat rising from the ground 
tears close to spill
 yet our hearts were tender still 
Miracles right from the start 
prayer a constant spark
 Connecting and strengthening 
In the waiting the Lord was growing tiny seeds in the dark
now before me an expanse 
that spoke of the glory of God 
A smile of miracles seen 
blooms into a sparkle in eyes -a deeper knowing of God
High up in the sky the sun 
the heat rising from the ground
 we enter pastures dresses in beauty all around
 beauty of beasts given by the creator 
beauty in places that astound
watching, touching, loving, 
knowing all this is gift a prayer and a dream 
the shade is comfortable we huddle close seeking shade 
yet, there’s more 
this was beautiful and healing 
and yet more He has in store
an Elijah moment before me
 in the stillness of the day 
the heat rising and oppressive 
we see  the winds pick up
 the branches sway and dance to rhythm the powerful breezes relay
stronger and stronger lifting dust and leaves 
Lifting and twisting in powerful air
the openness now seems dangerous 
But surprisingly it comforts us
just as our hearts began to quake
 And we looked around for shelter and escape
 a cold breeze on our skin the wind becomes breeze 
ushering a new coolness 
ushering peace that surpasses understanding 
the evening turns into a sweet haven 
a whisper of promises from heaven. 
a gentle breeze cool 
a heart poised to hear 
a tender caress from father God whispers, 
“ I see you, I hear you I am yours and you are my delight” 
High up in the sky the sun 
below the daughters of the Son 
a Lord who comes close 
heaven caresses wind blown hair sweet 
now praises rise from the ground

It’s been a year since my grandmother went to heaven. I still as if just yesterday I stood beside her bed and read Psalm 91 over her. Loving her my whole life has been one of my greatest blessings. From the moment she first held my hand to walk to town in Honduras to the moment she last held my hand at her table I knew I was loved. I’m so glad that my children also got to hold her hand because I know they felt the true and peaceful love only she could give. I will continue to remember her in the flowers, in the quiet afternoon coffee time, and in prayer. This year when I see new life grow in the garden I remember that she is whole, new, and full of life too. Te amo, Abuela.

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La Primavera/Spring

a haiku on Spring

The shoot in journey
Growth now visible to us
In light death to life
Spring

El retoño de jornada 
El crecimiento visible
En luz de muerte a vida 
La primavera 

I shared this Haiku in the form of a video. you can take a look at it above!
It was inspired by a walk in the early spring.

Gracefully,

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Halls and Doors

a haiku on Nursing and Life
Halls and doors-open lives 
Great hope and great loss collide
To bring healing touch
An honor


Gracefully,

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