My dear, sweet friends, today I get to introduce you to a woman who is an absolute inspiration to me! I “met” Sue Donaldson through our She Speaks group before the conference and could not help but be drawn to her for some reason. After reading her book Come to My Table I knew why! I loved every page of this book. I think I flew threw it and then had to read it a second time to make notes – and add to my recipe book! Come to My Table connects our hospitality here on earth to God’s hospitality shown to us, and explains what that means to me personally. Not only does it feed me spiritually by encouraging me to follow God’s example, but it also feeds me physically with delicious recipes throughout the book. I still have many to try, but some of my favorites so far are Bev’s Chocolate Zucchini Bread (pg 74) and the Homemade Corn Dogs (pg 162). I absolutely love what the back cover of Sue’s books says:
God came right on in when He sent us His Son. He hailed us loud and clear from a cross raised high:
“Hey there, mankind, I’m here!”
“I made you because I wanted you. I redeemed you because I loved you. You are welcome here – Come to My table.”
Maybe you didn’t know He called. He invites you to walk right in and be His very own, and He can’t wait until you accept the invitation. Once you do, you’ll know that the greatest thing you can do is to let others in on His welcome – let them know they’re invited, too. What better place to show God’s welcome heart than in your own home? Go ahead, put the kettle on. God knows who’s right outside and ready to knock.
This should be the manual for Christian hospitality around the globe. Sue connects God’s grace right to our own hearts and homes in a way that gently urges me out of my comfort zone – in a good way. The chapters are filled with practical tips for inviting and hosting others, and what to do once they actually show up. As an extra bonus, don’t miss the back section where she give a huge list of theme ideas for gathering in your home! Some of these are already on my calendar for the year!
I finally got to hug Sue’s neck at the She Speaks conference this past July, and she was just as genuine and sweet as I imagined she would be. So without any more gab from me, please meet my dear friend Sue Donaldson.
Tell us a little about how your book came to be:
Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality and Yours came from two different events: first, I did a workshop for college girls on “Doing Hospitality” and interviewed my mom and sister – experts in my mind – for my research. I found out that Mom had not always been great at doing hospitality, but by the time I came along, she had practiced so much that she became comfortable! Thus, the phrase: practicing hospitality . It takes practice to feel the confidence to open your home for the glory of God. I love her courage and example because I know not everyone grow up in hospitable homes, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. Mom took the plunge so that all of her kids didn’t have to feel as insecure as she had felt. Secondly, I did a Women’s Retreat called: “The Welcoming Heart of God” and the book is loosely based on the life-changing concept that God is the Ultimate Host and when we RSVP to His bountiful invitation to know Him and live with Him daily, we can more readily invite others into our homes for the sake of meeting Him, too. I wrote it over a period of eight years or so because I was raising small children! And because I’d much rather host a gathering than write about hosting a gathering. Probably a little ADHD!
So what is it about?
Come to My Table explores the reasons, hesitations and fears that we all experience in doing hospitality and provides simple steps to get over those fears and get started inviting for Heaven’s sake. The book also shows how God is our model in inviting us first, and how we are more like Him when we invite. In addition, there are over 60 tips, 75 recipes, 25 theme gathering ideas as well as what to keep in the pantry so we can be prepared for those last-minute guests.
Each chapter ends with a recipe, and each section concludes with an RSVP to respond to God’s invitation to us. Once we understand the welcoming heart of God, we are motivated to pass on His welcome to another. Not every person is called to go to out of the country or out-of-state to share the Gospel, but we all are called to go out our front door and invite the neighbors – or a neighbor. One is okay. One is good. Just listen to the Host, and He will show us what to do and how to do it. Come To My Table provides practical steps and tips to encourage even the most hesitant host invite someone to her table (or front porch or BBQ patio.)
I read Karen Main’s book Open Heart, Open Home many years ago. She also speaks of our tables being an extension of God’s table, and I loved that idea. You don’t have to be a great cook or even like cooking. God calls us to love people. He can share His love with store-bought muffins and a teabag. People just want to be included and that’s what my book is all about.
If we came to your house for dinner, what would find?
If you came for dinner, I’d probably make an easy pasta dish called: Chicken Caesar Pasta. It makes a ton. I just pour a whole bottle of creamy Caesar dressing over cut-up chicken breasts and bake for 45 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes for color and piquancy (opt.) and before serving, stir in cooked pasta. YUM! A hit with many soccer team parties through the years. And chocolate cake – I’ve discovered and posted maybe four different chocolate cake recipes on my blog – so easy and so delicious. Jesus always gets one on Christmas Eve (it’s His favorite as well.)
I’m a terrible housekeeper, which makes my guests more comfortable or more willing to help out – ha-ha! I hire college kids on occasion to get things in order. We got a new puppy this year – I don’t know what I was thinking! It’s like having a fourth child. Loveable and beautiful but a baby still—always wanting my attention…
What is your favorite Bible verse?
My favorite scripture in relation to hospitality is Matthew 11:28—“Come unto Me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus invited first, and once we RSVP, we find His rest and strength to pass on the invitation.
Another is Ephesians 3:20 and 21 “Now unto Him Who is able…” I’m rarely able to do things His way – and I don’t want to do hospitality nor anything else without God’s enabling strength and abundant grace or it’s all for naught.
One more – “Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 The Message
I’ve just released a Bible study–which doesn’t have to be read simultaneously but it’s related –called: Hospitality 101: Lessons From the Ultimate Host—A 12-Week Bible Study. If you know God wants you to grow more like His welcoming heart, I recommend that you and a couple of friends go through this fun and practical book.
I consider myself more of a speaker than a writer even though I love both. I blog three times a week at: http://welcomeheart.com – including two devotions and one recipe, which may be healthy, but only by accident. I welcome any and all of your suggested recipes. You can email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have seven retreat series – the most popular seems to be “Road Trip with God” but “Recipes for Life” is a close second. You can see all of those and fourteen single event topics at: http://welcomeheart.com/speaking-topics.
Any special words for your readers?
Here’s what I want to say to my readers: Do you love hospitality? No? That’s okay. You can learn to do hospitality (really!) with joy, confidence and ease when you ask God to come alongside as you hear the doorbell ring and walk to your door. Opening our homes for heaven’s sake is what God is all about. Please feel free to email me any questions or angst or experiences that could be of benefit to others.
And you’re invited to join my FB group called: Welcome Heart, Welcome Home where we ask and answer questions –or just listen in to all things hospitality and share how to spice up a good tuna salad sandwich. All are welcome!
Books are available on Amazon or http://welcomeheart.com/come-to-my-table.
Short video clips are available on youtube or http://welcomeheart.com/videos.