BreadcrumbsWe like breadcrumbs in our house.  We use them in several recipes.  One recipe has chicken-filled pastry brushed with butter and sprinkled with a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and garlic.  We use them in meatloaf, oven baked pork chops, Chicken Parmesan, and as a coating for the floor under the dining room table…

Breadcrumbs. 

In one location, I’m delighted to have guests join us.  In another, I want to shut the door, turn off the lights, and pretend nobody is home.

Why is it that something as simple as breadcrumbs can raise us to glory or bury us in shame?  It’s all about the location. Or is it?

Maybe it is more about the posture of my heart than the placement of the breadcrumbs. 

Seriously.  Sometimes I think I just need a healthy dose of getting over myself.  I need to focus more on the person in front of me and the hunger of their heart than on the crumbs under my feet and the presentation of their food. 

Of course this is easier said than done if you struggle with pride like I do.  But as I raise my eyes from the floor to their face, my heart rises from conceit to Christ. 

Ultimately, it comes down to “What will I choose?”  In Joshua 24:15, Joshua asked the Israelites to choose between serving false gods and the true God.

That is the same choice that faces me.  Except to me it looks more like, “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of approval-of-man and preserve-your-reputation, or the gods of promote-yourself and pretend-you-are-perfect….”

So, what does “we will serve the LORD” look like in the Quillen house?

Well, since I walk the tight rope between pride and honestly wanting to love others with my home, there are some practical things we do that help me to open our door.

  • Swish and Swipe.  This is straight from FlyLady.net and I love it!  Every morning (except Sunday) each of our bathrooms gets a quick Swish and Swipe (see instructions by clicking here).  I have certain kids assigned to swish-and-swipe a bathroom as part of their morning routine, the youngest of these started at eight years old.  A younger child follows behind and changes the hand towel in each bathroom.
  • Freezer Cookies.  We make huge batches of chocolate chip cookies.  I scoop the dough with a tiny ice cream scoop onto jelly roll pans and freeze the dough balls individually.  Later, I bag them in 36’s, label the bags with the time and temperature required for cooking, and pop them back in the freezer.  When I need a quick dessert, I grab a bag of cookies, bang it hard on the counter to knock them loose, and place them on a cookie sheet.  In 11 minutes (from freezer to cooling rack), the house smells wonderful and we have cookies.  If you aren’t feeding 9 at every meal without company, you may want to freeze cookies by the dozen.  Ginger Cookies and Snickerdoodles freeze well, too.  But they have to be defrosted, scooped and rolled in sugar/cinnamon sugar when you are ready to bake.  It takes a little longer, but if you have kids among the visitors, they might like to help.  Which leads me to the next point.
  • Ask for help.  People seem to feel like they are a part of the family when we ask them to help.  Whether it’s flipping quesadillas on the griddle or folding napkins for the table, having a job is a great way to diffuse awkwardness and dispel the idea that you are superwoman.  Working together also makes for easy conversation and wonderful memories.
  • Easy-to-expand meal options.  I keep pancake mix, tortillas and cheese, and pizza toppings on hand all the time.  Any of these meals easily expands if a spontaneous crowd appears.  All are inexpensive options.  And any of them can be made without much notice.  Pizza takes a little longer, because we make our own dough.  But sometimes we make large batches and par bake 10″ crusts which fit easily into gallon-size freezer bags.  These are quick to pop out of the freezer, top, bake, and enjoy.  Plus, if you are planning a pizza party ahead and the guest wants to contribute to the meal, they can bring their favorite toppings.
  • Room Rescue.  I can shout “room rescue” to the kids as a car pulls into the driveway.  A troop of kids will attack the living room and have blankets shoved in ottomans, stray toys tossed into the playroom, books stacked on end tables, and coasters set on the coffee table in about 5 minutes.  (This does take some pre-emergency training.)  I’ve even whispered “do a quick room rescue on the living room” into the ear of a nearby child after guests have arrived.  Once the kids have greeted our guests, while I’m asking for help in the kitchen or filling a drink order, my kids are excavating the carpet before we descend the stairs.  It’s a beautiful thing.
  • Smile and make eye contact.  A smile puts the most timid visitor at ease and tricks your brain into releasing chemicals that actually make you feel happier.  Maintaining good eye contact is not only good manners, but also shows interest in your guest.  It also keeps them from seeing the crumbs under the table because they are looking into your eyes.  It’s a win-win-win!

Homemade Wipes

1/2 roll bounty select-a-size paper towels (cut in half as a cross-section)  I use the name brand because it doesn’t deteriorate when left sitting in liquid.

1 cup rubbing alcohol

1 T white vinegar

water to make 4 cups liquid

A plastic storage tub large enough to hold the half-height paper towel roll.  Drill a 1/2″ hole in the center of the lid.

Put the roll of paper towels in the tub, cut end up.  Mix the liquid ingredients and pour half over the paper towels.  Flip the roll to put the cut end down and pour on the other half of the liquid.  After about 2 minutes, pull the cardboard tube out of the center of the roll.  Take the end of the paper towel from the center of the roll and poke it through the hole in the lid.  Fasten the lid and you have disinfecting wipes with a handy dispenser.

We keep a container of these in the kitchen and under the sink in every bathroom.  Since we use these every day, we don’t have any problem with drying out.  But when we come home from vacation, we often need to throw away the towel sticking out of the top.  You can always add more of the same liquid, if needed.

__________

Photo Credit:  By Yvwv (Original photo by Yvwv) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons