Guest Post // Nurturing a Crowd with Beth Reid
Today on the blog we interviewed Bethany Reid, long time friend, comrade in motherhood, creative artist, Crossfit enthusiast, and warrior in the kitchen. Beth and her husband Jeff are followers of Jesus and have a knack for gathering people in their home, at the park, wherever they go. Check out her blog Community Eats for more of this goodness!
What is your favorite thing about gathering people in your home and hosting dinners?
I love creating a moment that makes people feel special, valued and loved. When I look around the house and see friends spread around the table, couches and floors eating and talking- thats the moment I live for! From the flowers on the coffee table, to the smell of what’s cooking, to the clean bathroom (I have boys) my goal is always for friends to immediately feel both relaxed and honored. The Lord has brought me so many prophetic words, dreams and pictures about hospitality bringing restoration, joy and relationship both in my life and in the lives of those who come into my home. With those promises in my heart I feel opening my home through hospitality is a way I can bring the culture of Heaven to earth.That motivates me to cook one more community dinner!
Are there any special things you do to prepare when you know you’ll be hosting people in your home?
I do truly enjoy the whole process of menu planning, shopping, cooking & decorating. But that’s not really at the core of what hospitality is, that just creates the environment to love on people. I try to ask the Lord on a regular basis if there’s anyone we should include for meals- its such a natural way to get to know people or encourage and disciple them. Then I ask Him what they need, think though what vibe of gathering will most bless them etc. Sometimes it’s a simple brunch, other times a shared BBQ - it’s rarely a fancy or expensive process (although the planning for those is my fave)! As I tidy up the house or prep the food I try to turn on music and worship, praying for the people who will come. So often I feel the tangible presence of the Lord, those are some of the moments I’ve most felt His presence. Like ever.
What’s your favorite way to set your table?
Greenery! I love a simple table, not much fuss, so people will feel relaxed as they gather around it. So foraging local greenery and laying them as a table runner, or putting a few branches in a vase seems to lend itself perfectly to that! Also, a candle always seems to make the moment special - and the children more well behaved!
Do you have any tips to incorporate your kids into gatherings?
Being a mother of 4 (ranging in age from 18-2yrs) means that there’s always a little hand wanting to help in the kitchen! Creating a special ‘kid table’ always makes them really pumped - you can cover it in paper and lay out crayons or paint. Also, I try to include the kiddos in the conversation (instead of just putting on a movie). They can really track with and contribute to what’s being talked about, it’s an excellent 'teachable moment' for their little hearts and minds. We have a tradition of our boys asking the group ‘what was your highlight of the day’ - this always starts a good round of happy conversation that young and old can contribute too. Also, there are times we’re hosting and one of the kids looses it or just cannot roll… that’s ok too. That's a sign it’s time to host some special little ‘family’ dinners - those are really important too.
What is your go to meal when you know you’re going to need to feed a big crowd?
Probably either my Lime Soup or Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. Both of these meals are great because you can make them ahead and they’re just SO, SO good. My goal is to not be cooking when people arrive (I’m still working on this!) so i can enjoy the moment a little more. Choosing a menu with a element of ‘build your own’ is great for bigger groups where you may not know everyones dietary needs. Also, you can easily ask guests to each bring an item for the meal… saving you time and energy to focus on the friendships!