Thursday, August 17, 2017

Listen, Love, Linger: Southern Hospitality with Summer

I have some Facebook friends I've never met in real life. Most of them are friends of friends, but some I've met through various pages that involve my interests. One of these is Jessica Summer Overstreet, the admin of a small page where we try to help each other boost our blog page posts "one like at a time". (Isn't that a great tag line she came up with?)

I asked Summer some questions about her mealtimes growing up, with family, and with friends.

What was the first thing you learned to cook?
Grilled cheese sandwich. When I was between the ages of 10 and 12, my mom was in nursing school and her study group would always cram for exams at our house. It made me feel so important to make and serve "lunch" aka grilled cheese sandwiches and chips to her friends!

What meal related chore will you put off as long as possible?
Anything to do with peeling! I am like a butcher with that task. I ruin tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers. I would much rather shell peas and shuck corn!

In the south manners are important, what mealtime manner did your parents have to constantly remind you about?
To not put my feet in the chair. I was terrible about wanting to sit on my knees at the supper table when I was little. I felt taller and it allowed me to lean in when I got to a really good part of whatever I was talking about. However, try as they may, my parents never broke me of the habit. If I am eating at my supper table you will find me sitting Indian style every time!

Tell me about the people usually around your table.
When it comes to supper time, my family is a little bit different. My parents both own their own businesses and I manage one of them, so we all work very long hours. For that reason, we eat out at various, locally owned restaurants most nights. We have been doing this for years, so we have made close friendships with the owners, management and staff of these restaurants. On any given night, you will find me, my parents, my sister and various restaurants employees at our table. Sometimes they will eat with us if they are in break or just sit and catch up for a minute. We love these precious people so much and consider them to be family! 

We also love to have supper with extended family and we have "adopted" several young men and women who will join us from time to time. 

What is your guilty pleasure food?
Mint chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream! I have a dairy allergy, so I can't enjoy regular ice cream. However, my coconut milk based ice cream is fabulous! I may or may not go through a container a week!

If you could bottle anything and spray it over your table, what would it be?
Summer time weather! Once the weather warms up, we love to sit at the outside patio at our favorite Mexican restaurant. There is something very intimate about those lazy summer days, soft breezes and relaxed and real conversation. We love watching the lightning bugs flicker, drinking an endless amount of sweet tea and watching the moon rise over the river. It is my happy place!

What is the last food picture you took on your phone?
Dark chocolate granola clusters. Because I have allergies to gluten and dairy, I had a hard time finding snack foods that I could eat. I finally decided to start making my own foods and these cookie clusters are my favorite!
Do you have a standard question you like to ask guests or friends when you are enjoying a meal with them?
My favorite question to ask at the supper table is about what has been going on in their lives recently. I want everyone at my table to know that they are free to open up and talk and that there is someone to listen and take interest in them.

What advice would you give to someone who is afraid to try hospitality?
Hospitality is so rewarding! It is a great feeling to see your guest relaxing and enjoying themselves. If a big meal is impossible for you to pull off, then go simple and invite a few ladies over for coffee. Have some of your coworkers over for fun appetizers after work.  If all else fails, do what my family does and ask them to have supper with you at a local restaurant on a week night. It will not be as busy so you can all have easy conversation and not feel rushed to give up your table as soon as you finish your meal. 

What's the most unusual combination of people you've put together for a meal?
My family and I love people. It's that simple, we love people. For that reason, I do not know of any combination of supper guests that we would consider unusual. We are go with the flow kind of people so feel free to pull up a chair and join us!

Finish this sentence: My ideal dinner party would include _______
Oh, I could gush about this one forever! My ideal dinner party would include plenty of outdoor seating, women unwrapping delicious casseroles, men laughing around sizzling grills, Frank Sinatra softly singing in the background, laughing children running in the grass with bare feet, colorful table cloths, pretty flowers for the table, sweet tea with lemon, a dessert table filled with pies, cakes, cobblers and banana pudding and a night of memories with a yard full of people who love the Lord.

How do you bring Christ to your table? 
I think the secret to a successful mealtime is to listen, really listen to each other. As busy people, supper time is our one opportunity each day to stop and focus on each other for one whole hour. I am a very candid and open person, so I willingly open up to whoever I am eating with. More times than not, they will usually open up to me as well. When a conversation starts to get deeper than just the standard "how've you been?" the opportunity comes to bring God into the conversation. This can be through advice, verses, examples of people in the Bible, sermons I've heard, what God has been showing me recently and stories of His faithfulness to me in the past.

Summer is a born again, Southern raised Alabama girl who loves Jesus, her family and her hometown. She works as a floral designer at her family owned florist, teaches first grade Sunday school and writes a blog designed to encourage every woman to find her confidence and value in Christ. So many of today's women are deeply struggling with accepting who God has made them to be and it is Summer's desire to reach out to them in that place. Before she turns 40, Summer would love to accomplish a few goals she has for herself like learning how to juggle, traveling to Israel, writing a children's book and taking a ball room dancing class! You can read her blog here.

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aroundthetableblog (at) gmail (dot) com

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Can't wait to read Around the Table: Connecting With Your Family at MealtimesDid you know it is available on Kindle?

You can get a copy today for only $4.75!

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  1. Love that. Listening to each other at meal times is SO important! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. You asked amazing questions, and it was fun getting to know someone who has a real gift of hospitality!

    1. Thanks, I try to come up with fun questions.

  3. As a southern gal from Texas who currently lives in TN, I can relate to this article totally! Faith, family, friends, food and hospitality! Is there anything sweeter? Well except for sweet tea! Ha.

  4. It's fun to "meet" these new and interesting people. I loved your questions. Thanks for sharing her story!

  5. I used to have a small dinner party about 3 times a month, but in recent years have gotten out of the habit. I need to get back into it!

  6. We're called to the ministry of hospitality. Thanks for modeling it for us here.

  7. This was such a wonderful post. The questions were so thoughtful and they were answered gracefully. Thanks for linking up to #fridayfrivolity! Xx



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