Cross Cultural Family

Tabling Together

“The secret to a wonderful dinner is comfortable seating” -Sarah J. Herman

Bold advice coming from an executive chef. Sarah’s Sunday dinners, her families consistent collaboration and care for their guests shaped my understanding of hospitality. The best hosts understand that food is only one part of our shared experience. It’s about the moment when we push back from our food and linger over conversation. It’s stolen moments over the giggles of children.  It’s the gentle pursuit of people. It’s the humility to let them see your unvarnished selves. It’s bending together to clean spilled lemonade, laughing through disastrous desserts or toddler tantrums that turns guests into friends. Preparation is a central part of hospitality but it’s the humanity of invitation and participation that turns a meal into something that nourishes the soul.

Today in America, we can gather in a variety of settings to be fed, served and entertained without lifting a finger.  We really don’t need to gather in each other’s homes ever again. So why go to all this work? Invitation is important. I’m asking you to enter my space – to get to know my family.  If you enter with a critical eye you will find dust on my mantle or spots on my mirror, you’ll probably see me correct a child, drop a fork, ask for help. Hopefully, you’ll feel welcomed into our lives and friendship. Our family has invested time preparing our environment for you. We’ve made beds, wiped down bathrooms, set the table, considered our menu.   The central theme of is how we can serve you and make you feel the most comfortable.  

I grew up eating around a table that was set every night for dinner with plate, glasses, silverware and napkins. You can imagine the mixed emotions I had when my son and I came across a picture of Cookie Monster setting the table and he asked “are they having friends over?”  Our family’s rhythm is a little more chaotic. Paper plates and forks on the counter is our normal. It’s a natural outcome of our busy lives but we make concerted efforts to teach the art of hospitality.  It starts with serving our friends and neighbors.

On an average night in our kitchen you might the four of us trying a recipe that’s globally inspired, it’s loose, messy and often improtpu with at least one trip to the store for coconut milk, curry, or lemon grass.  Together we try to capture the magic of Thai street food or French casual dining and reminiscing about past adventures. We experiment and play, make mistakes together and fall into bed leaving a mountain of dishes.  Hospitality has become a shared family adventure. It’s a way to express our diverse cultures with our friends.  A way to create something from our travels that we can share or explore different global issues. This summer, I’ll be highlighting recipes and culinary adventures.  Dishes we’ve been making that focus on experiencing the world in our kitchen and sharing at our table. 

Join us,

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Judy Baer & The Black Panther

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The child of missionary parents, writing became a natural was to process my adventures across the world.

Ndjerareou means 'he who builds the road in Ngambai, Nate's tribal language spoken in Chad, Africa.

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  • “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt  #latergram #comeplaywithme #fortworth #allaccessplayground
  • May you find friends who see you honestly and still think you’re brave and beautiful. #grateful *Also they probably have photos of you on the dance floor in all your glory but they are kind, decent people who will take them to their grave. #truefriends
  • None of us want brokenness in our lives but the brokenness that leaves us exposed and vulnerable can also be fertile soil for deep, life giving relationship. One teary eyed, snotty cry, bring a meal, hold a baby, speak truth and stay for the clean up moment after another. I’m very grateful for the season this group of broken and battered people had together. It wasn’t pretty but it was special. We let each other down, held each other as dreams died, said I’m sorry, please let me try again, and I don’t know why this is happening. Dear @lisatardy said (amongst the many brave and gentle things spoken) “you can call me and say the same thing over and over, it’s nuts right now, it ok. That’s normal.” .
Last night we celebrated restoration. We celebrated being invited into each others heartache and hot mess and the Lord leading us into his life giving truth. We celebrated being known and loved and restored. Jesus gets all the glory for the smiles on our faces last night. Thank each of you for your friendship and faith.  @fridaynightwife @lauren.risedorf
  • Water fight! Just another day in the neighborhood. #summerdays #itssohotthegrownupsplaytoo #summerintexas #waterisgoodforthesoul
  • SNUBA Adventure with SnubaVI at Coral World a fantastic family adventure. Think scuba without the tank. A 20+ foot chord connects to the boat above you. This was a great entry level experience for someone considering diving and kids over age 8. At Coral World we touched star fish, learned about local wild life, enjoyed the sea lion experience, watched them feed turtles, sting rays and dolphins. It has been incredible to experience the turtles fish and rays in the wild but today was very educational and easily accessible. Thank you @coralworldvi #ndjerareoujourney #stthomas #usvi #saltwaterinmyveins #snuba #sandinmysoul #mermaidhairdontcare #beachlife #aquabluewater #cokibeach #
  • Soaking up every minute of sunshine, sand and time together. We had a sweet weekend celebrating daddy and exploring under and over the water. #livingourbeachlife  #sandinmysoul #reconnectingwitheachother #magensbay #usvi #ifyouneedmeillbeswimming #ifyouneedmewellbekayaking #ifyouneedmewellbesnorkeling
  • Ice cream is always a good idea! After running errands and groceries we refueled in Charlotte Amalie before a bit of exploring. This is such a friendly island everyone has added to our experience. My favorite adventures are often learning to live like a local, driving on the left, taking out the trash, avoiding iguanas and making the most of every minute on the island. #everydayadventure #stthomas #charlotteamalie #usvi #sandinmysoul #ndjerareoujourney
  • “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” –Michael J. Fox  #ndjerareoujourney #mahobay #sandinmysoul #stjohnusvi #makingmemories #comeexplorewithme