Archive for November, 2014

Hospitality Stories Part II

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


It’s a bittersweet day. Today is the final post for my hospitality series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found something useful along the way.

But, I’m excited to share another hospitality story  to end the series by one of my favorite people on the planet.

Marcella is a friend of mine from our seminary days. I met her  in the last couple of years that we were in Philadelphia, through a book club, and as soon as I met her, I wished I had met her sooner.

We also ended up in a supper club together, which was one of the highlights of my adult life, really. I have never laughed harder and felt so comfortable with a group of people.

Marcella was always throwing big parties and loved having people around. She’s an amazing cook, but even more, she has a sweet spirit that’s contagious. (Just look at that face!)

Marcella and her little boy, James

Marcella and her little boy, James

Friday Favorites: November 14th

Friday, November 14th, 2014

friday, favorites


Well, hello.

It’s Friday, and so much good stuff is happening right now.

My little brother and his wife had their first baby girl last night. That’s pretty significant by itself, but we’re excited in the Davis fam because it’s the first girl cousin. Abby is surrounded by boys–3 brothers and 2 boy cousins. We love them and all, but it’s a nice win for the gals in the family. Plus, I get to buy cute, girl clothes again.

I already got her this:



I’m pretty sure she’s going to wear it everyday.


My brother and his wife are 6’4″ and 6’5″, respectively, which means, YES, she’s taller.  If you want to laugh (really hard), watch the two of us walk around together. It’s like Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger from the movie Twins.

We joke with them that they are going to birth an entire NBA team, so it’s pretty funny that the initials of their first little one are M.V.P.

Can’t wait to meet this girl.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I’m in planning mode for Thanksgiving. What about you?

I picked up the turkey today, and now I’m dreaming about the sides.

While I was on Pinterest today, I saw these printable Thanksgiving MadLibsI’m pretty sure they’re going to be a hit at the table, especially between my dad and the kids. 

I’m also not much of a fall decorator, but I like to do something simple for the table on Thanksgiving. Saw this centerpiece this week and was sold. Easy, simple, and elegant.

* * * * * * * * * * *

What I read (am reading) this week…

I’m finally taking up Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.


I’ve been wanting to read it for several years, but just kept forgetting. But she’s gotten some press recently for her newest book in this series, Lila, which is supposed to be the best.

The New York Times did a great, reflective piece on her recently called The Revelations of Marilynne Robinson. In it, she talks about our culture’s default culture of fear, and how we use it as an excuse for inactivity or worse. Good weekend reading.


Finally, I’m a little late to the party on this one, as usual, but if you haven’t read Glennon Melton’s parenting article Don’t Carpe Diem in the Huffington Post, stop whatever you’re doing now and READ it. It’s one of the best parenting articles I’ve ever read.


Happy Friday to all.

Hospitality Stories

Monday, November 10th, 2014

To wrap up my hospitality series, I’m excited to share stories from a couple of friends who I’ve had the pleasure of sitting around the table with many times. They’ve not only been hospitable to my family, but to many others along the way.


The first story is by my friend Kristi James, a fellow pastor’s wife and blogger, with a serious wit. I always crack up a little when I think of her answer to the oft-asked question, “What’s it like being the pastor’s wife?

Kristi: “It’s better than being the pastor’s girlfriend.”

Yes, yes it is.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

When we moved to Asheville, we lived in a pretty cool apartment in a building that had been built to function as a hotel, but had been used as a mental hospital until the nineties.

As in 1990’s.

It was as gothic and creepy as you’d expect. Once a friend came over for the first time and when I opened the door, she was practically sweating. “I didn’t see another person the entire way up here!” she said. It was dark and quiet, making the whole thing seem even more eery.

In my mind, the ideal home for exhibiting hospitality is one that’s easy to find, has great curb appeal, and maybe even a double-wide circular driveway. Lined with great landscaping.

Our creepy third floor apartment was definitely not that.

And yet, we had people over. We gave them our security code to the building, or we ran down to let them in. We welcomed them, fed them, talked to them, and hugged them goodbye, even though it wasn’t an ideal setup.


I come from kind of a quiet family so when we got married, I was sure that I’d never be the one to raise my voice. I’m soft spoken as it is, so it seemed unlikely that I’d ever be the “yeller.”

We didn’t have people over for a long time after we got married, because it took forever for us to get our house to a point where I felt like it was moderately presentable. I’m 9 years younger than my husband, and moving into the house he’d already lived in for years made it hard for me to feel confident in my ability to make good choices for a home.

Plus I didn’t really cook. (Clearly I was a real catch.)

We finally invited another couple over for the first time and I was super stressed. I felt the need to be a fancy southern host (although I’m neither fancy nor southern). I had several things working against me. We had a smelly dog that shed a sweater’s worth of hair right after you vacuumed, like a fluffy middle finger taunting you from the corner. Fancy southern women don’t have piles of dog hair in the corner. The kitchen had about 2 square feet of counter space and no dishwasher. Fancy southern women don’t have cluttered counters and unwashed dishes. I knew how to make about 3 things, so I made them. Fancy southern women use The Masters Cookbook and make…fancy things.

I scrambled around trying to make things JUST SO. Right before our friends came over, my exasperation with Duff’s inability to know EXACTLY what I needed help with at every moment without me having to actually verbalize it boiled over, and I yelled some words at him.

Everything about it shocked me. The volume, the tone, the actual words I used; it was awful. He handled it perfectly, walking calmly out the back door to the grill, while I fell apart, crying at the kitchen sink. I looked up and saw our friends walking to the door. Perfect.


Hospitality is bigger than having people over, but one of the easiest ways to bridge the gap between being an acquaintance and being a friend is to spend time in each others’ homes. Before Facetime was a thing, I had a friend who wanted to see where I sat when I talked to her on the phone, so she could picture it. Spending time in each others homes is like that – our idea of the person is more grounded and personal once we invite each other into our living spaces.

But I share those two stories because while that sounds romantic, it isn’t always perfect.

Your home may not be exactly what you want it to be. We live in a house now and while it’s easy to find and has some curb appeal, we have street parking and it can be kind of a pain. But we have people over all the time, and you know what? No one has ever turned us down because they have to walk a few hundred feet to get to the door.

Your mental state might not be perfect. Wouldn’t be nice if you could be cool as a cucumber and impressive whenever anyone approached your house? “Who me? I’m just whipping up a batch of meringue by hand. My mixer’s broken but it’s fine! Everything else I needed to do is done so I figured this would be just the thing to fill the time!”

NO. Never going to be me.

Instead, I’ll try to make sure things are reasonable – a toilet that won’t gross you out and handsoap in the bathroom. But your feet will probably crunch on a stray cheerio and you’ll see crumbs from last night’s dinner on a child’s placemat. I might be mad (but I probably won’t have just yelled at my husband because while I’ve yelled since then, the years have softened me a little and it doesn’t happen as often). I might be tired. I might end up needing you to help me with something. But I want you to be there, at that moment. I’m not going to wait until I’m perfectly ready.

Because I’m not ever going to be perfectly ready.

Instead, my imperfectly ready is the best I’ve got to offer.

But when it comes to hospitality, the imperfectly ready is more than enough.

(Also, I ran out of sugar, can you bring a cup?)


Connect with Kristi at her blog, And Babies Don’t Keep, or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Friday Favorites: November 7

Friday, November 7th, 2014

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Today marks the end of a crazy, busy week.

It started with Halloween last Friday, followed by 3 inches of snow on Saturday morning. We  scrambled  to find everyone’s snow suits, mittens, hats, etc. for what seemed like hours.

Four kids in snowsuits–I needed a nap before they even got outside.



A photo posted by Julie Davis (@onneutralgrnd) on


After sledding, snow angels, and a middle school skate party (out-of-body experience), Duane and I headed downtown with some good friends to see the Avett Brothers. #bucketlist

I hadn’t been to an arena concert in probably 15 years. I prefer more intimate settings for live shows, BUT they sang my favorite song so I forgave them. It was a really good show.  


A photo posted by Julie Davis (@onneutralgrnd) on


Then, just a few days later, Duane and I found ourselves at yet another live concert downtown. My only question is: How did I get away with seeing 2 concerts in one week? Crazy.

So we had a couple of late nights, but it was totally worth it.


Other notable online favorites from the week:

A Snob by Any Other Name“Our hope is not found in the passing of tests but in the forgiveness of failure (and snobbery and hypocrisy and relentless testing of our loved ones…), the fact that, by the sheer grace of God, the test-to-end-all-tests has already been taken.”

18 Excellent Gifts for Kids That Aren’t Toys: A great list (with Christmas right around the corner and all…)


What were your favorites from this week? I’d love to know what you’re reading, eating, listening to…


Happy Friday (from our crazy crew).

halloween, costumes, family