In the Kitchen with Emilie Barnes

I’ve been asked to write a guest post for a book review at Belle’s Library, so I’ve chosen The Spirit of Loveliness by Emilie Barnes.  If you’ve been with me since the beginning of my blog, you’ll recognize this title, but the content has been changed.

Used by permission of Harvest House publishers.
Used by permission of Harvest House publishers and Emilie Barnes

Sometime in my 30’s I attended an event where Emilie Barnes was the speaker. In addition to the conference, there was a luncheon afterward where women of the First Baptist Church of Hueytown, AL decorated tables in ways that demonstrated hospitality. I wish I had taken pictures. The whole event was heartwarming, and left an indelible imprint on my home life. For years after, I used her book, The Spirit of Loveliness, to create my version of home for my family. Like many others, I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home, so here are a few examples of loveliness in my kitchen.

Making the Kitchen the “Heart of the Home”

Keep it Fun
When my kids were little, I felt my kitchen was the heart of our home.  We dressed for many occasions as we prepared seasonal meals. The kids loved it until they were teenagers – when that season of “y’all-are-embarrassing-me,” developed; but now as adults, it’s all fun again!
Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

Have an organized and well-stocked pantry.  Keep healthy snacks readily available.

The Spirit of Loveliness


Know what your family and/or guests like and have plenty on-hand.  

I also learned this from my husband’s grandmother.  My children love fried okra and she would always be frying a skillet-full when we would go for a visit. My son loved Root Beer and my daughter, sweet tea. His mom and grandmother would be sure they had both at every visit. It made my kids feel loved and welcome in their kitchen to know they had something for each of them.  The little things mean a lot.

The Spirit of Loveliness

Make mealtime an event.  According to Emilie, there are four ingredients to make each meal special:

  • The Setting.  Create a pretty table setting.  Even if you are serving a ham sandwich and potato chips, use pretty paper plates and napkins.  One thing that I started after reading this book and have kept up all these years is to set the table after every meal.  The table is always ready and it isn’t a chore to prepare as you sit down to eat. Use seasonal flowers for a centerpiece and light an unscented candle. Scented candles can affect the taste of the food. If you must eat on a tray, purchase some nice trays and pretty paper napkins.

For my daddy’s 70th birthday, we did a police theme to honor his 36 years of service as the Chief of Police in our small town. I also chose juvenile party favors that the boys in our family would love.

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

Yes, I had my fine china and crystal in a setting with little plastic firemen and policemen as napkin rings. The centerpiece included police hats, firemen hats, toy guns, handcuffs and flashlights.

May not have been fancy, but my family loved it!

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

The “boys” loved my party favors!

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

This little guy shares the birthday celebration with my dad, so it’s always a double party! It’s important to make every guest at your table feel special.

In addition to the setting, other important elements are…

  • The Food.  Serving healthy meals that are also tasty, says “I love you” in a truly heartfelt way.

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

Italian Lamb Stew

The Fellowship. I like the idea of inviting friends and family for meals to create all new conversations and memories. After all it’s not about the food all the time. It’s about the eyes you look across the table into, the laughter that echoes off the dining room walls and the love sitting in your chairs.

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

  • A Peaceful Ambiance.  Simple meals, interesting – but not too serious – conversation, glowing candles, saying grace and playing soft music can create a peaceful atmosphere.

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

Create a seasonal kitchen.  Each season brings with it new tastes and new decor.  When possible, shop in season for fruits and vegetables, using them as decor and food.  For a list of what each season produces, visit CUESA.

Spirit of Loveliness in  The Kitchen

These are just a few examples of how reading this book affected my home life. While our nest may be empty now, never let it be said that our kitchen is bare.  My daughter is beginning to entertain just like this with wedding showers, cozy dinner parties and making candles, candies, and cookies to share with friends. All starting from the kitchen. So, I’m happy I found this little book back in 1999. In the words of the great Shakespeare, “Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.”

Adapted from: The Spirit of Loveliness. Copyright © 1999 by Emilie Barnes. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

The Spirit of Loveliness: Hospitality

The Spirit of Hospitality

It was from the book, The Spirit of Loveliness by Emily Barnes, and this chapter that I first began to love entertaining in my home. Before I read this chapter on the spirit of hospitality, I felt that in order to entertain properly, everything had to be perfect.  The table had to be set beautifully, my house had to be spotless, the meal was suppose to be gourmet, all with candles burning and fresh flowers or a seasonal centerpiece on the table.

Special Occasions

There are special occasions where this is called for, like in the pictures above.  This was my daughter’s 18th birthday and I spent days planning, cooking and decorating for this very special occasion.  It was a blast.

But, the true spirit of hospitality is what I learned at home from my momma.  Mom worked outside the home and so Saturdays were our cleaning days.  Every Saturday, we three girls would get out of bed, eat breakfast while watching a few cartoons, and then start cleaning our 3 bedroom, 1 bath home.  Momma would hurry us along so it wouldn’t take all day; but, we would laugh, horse around and a lot of days it took the whole Saturday.


A Knock on the Door

Regardless of our schedule, however, every Saturday there would be a knock on the back door.  The screen door was always open, so we usually heard Momma holler, “Come in.”  My daddy was the chief of police in our small town, so sometimes it was an officer looking for him, it might be one of my friends, a neighbor or a relative, but it seemed someone always visited us on Saturday.

On one particular Saturday, I remember a very intoxicated woman showed up who didn’t realize that her monthly visitor had shown up that morning.  Momma very politely and discreetly directed her to our bathroom so she could clean herself up.  Then they sat down to have a conversation that I’m sure the woman didn’t remember having that afternoon.  It didn’t matter to Momma.

The only time I remember Momma being frustrated when visitors knocked on the door, was when the Jehovah’s Witness would show up.  We girls would roll our eyes and whisper to Momma not to answer the door.  But, oh no.  “Come in,” she hollered and in they came and down they sat, sometimes for hours.

We were Christian, but not of that denomination and it seemed that one Saturday a month, they were determined to convert my momma.  But in true “momma fashion”, she invited them in and tried to convert them.  I know that my mom would have preferred that we keep cleaning, but when she sat –  we played, so on these Saturdays it likely took all day to clean our little house.

Saturday’s Lessons on the Spirit of Hospitality

The lessons I learned from these Saturdays are:

  • It doesn’t matter if your house is clean.  It only matters that people feel welcome in your home.
  • Treat everyone the same, regardless of their religion, politics or morals.
  • Look up from whatever you are concentrating on when people are in your presence.  They are more important than tasks.
  • Cleaning can be fun – with your sisters.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness

My challenge to ladies today is this, put down your phone, iPad and laptop and spend some original face time with a friend.  Nothing compares. 

The Spirit of Loveliness: Godliness

The Spirit of Godliness

I know you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say this. There are days when I feel our Father has just kissed me on the cheek, and then… there are the other days.  I have good days with Him and not-as-good days with Him…just like any other relationship.  So how do I cultivate a spirit of godliness in my home and what will it look like when I do?  Upon first glance of this title, what words come to your mind about godliness?  Religious?  Pious? Strict? or do you think… Divine?  Good?  Holy?  Reverent? Faithful? Forgiven?  All of the above?

The Hand of God
The Hand of God.  Photo Credit:

There have been times in my relationship with our Father that I’ve laughed, cried, begged, pouted and pitched a fit, quit speaking to Him for a while, and I’ve even been so angry as to shout and ask Him what He is doing.  This is our relationship and the thing I LOVE about Him is that He is always the same.  He is the one being in my life that is constant. When I apologize, He forgives me.

Once I’ve had my little fit, His arms are open to hold me and assure me that I’ve not gone too far this time.  If I’ve had a bitter, angry day, He gently reminds me that the sun is setting and morning is coming.

Sunrise through the Cross

A Godly Woman

In my opinion, a woman who possesses the spirit of godliness in her home is not perfect. She isn’t rigid, judgmental or pious.  She has nothing to prove.  She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not whether in His presence or not. I think Emilie says it best,

“A godly woman is one who possesses inner peace and tranquility…. She is strong, and yet she doesn’t use her strength to control or dominate people; neither does she depend on recognition from others. Hers is an inner contentment and satisfaction based not on accomplishments, position or authority, but on a deep awareness of God’s eternal and personal love for her.”

So how does the spirit of godliness look in our homes?  I will give you some thoughts to ponder, but it may look different in your home than mine.  That is perfect. Our relationships with Him are meant to be different.  He is the same, but we are each a special part of His creation and in His infinite love for us, He meets us where we are.

  1. Look for Him in the small things.  Washing dishes isn’t such a chore when we see beauty in the prisms of dish soap bubbles. ~ One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voscamp  Bubble with Prisms
  2. Get outside.  There is no better place to meet with Him than in His creation.  The Spirit of Godliness
  3. Look for ways to bless another human creation in your life.
  4. Talk to Him daily.
  5. Read His Word or a daily devotional. The Holy Bible
  6. Keep a prayer journal.
  7. Bring the outside in with flowers, plants and pets.  the spirit of godliness
  8. Invite people into your home.
  9. Say grace at meals – not as a ritual, but to spend a minute reflecting on His goodness for that particular day.

How does godliness look in your home?

The Spirit of Loveliness: Stillness

The Spirit of Stillness

I just got into Birmingham after a long drive north.  The only sound I hear is the tapping of this keyboard, my grand-kitty playing with a toy in the floor and the air conditioning.  Thank the Lord for air conditioning, kittens and laptops.  But for the purposes of this post, I thank Him most for silence.

As I am re-reading this chapter from Emilie Barnes’, The Spirit of Loveliness,

Used by permission of Harvest House publishers.
Used by permission of Harvest House publishers.









Solitude is for Me

I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for this book.  I remember, when my children were little, how very sacred my “quiet times” were.   Now, no matter what is going on, I am in control of my schedule. Famous last words.  I know, having written that down, all chaos and misery will descend on me like a plaque of locusts. However, if you read my post, The Spirit of Loveliness: Femininity, you’ll remember that I mentioned my Sunday naps.  Solitude is for me.  Quiet times are a different type of rest. They are a time of learning, meditating, prayer and worship.  It is time for me and my Father.  And my rest is in Him.

Now, I have no idea if you are a believer.  I pray you are. If not, perhaps this little post from an Alabama girl will ignite in you a desire for a quiet time.  They can literally be the salvation of your soul.  Now, perhaps you don’t think your soul needs saving, or you may believe but don’t have time for a quiet time, nor think they are necessary.  I will quote Emilie to make you feel better…

“keep reminding yourself that stillness is neither an impossible luxury nor an unreasonable demand.  You need your quiet time in order to have the inner resources to take care of the business of your life.  As Isaiah 30:15 puts it, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.'”

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.

Keep Calm and Carry On

There is a popular phrase that’s currently being used in decor, “keep calm and carry on.”  I love this and wish I had it written above my front door to encourage a calmer state of mind.   How often do you rush out the door only to get to the corner and realize you’ve forgotten something? Am I saying that a quiet time will help your memory?  Prior to 50, yes! After 50, a quiet time helps with mood swings and killer instincts.

I’m sorry.  My sense of humor is lethal.  I think it’s part of the change of life.  I’ve changed from a calm, even-temperatured, kind, intelligent woman into a swashbuckling, sweaty, forgetful gypsy, who can’t remember her address part of the time.

My pirate and me.
I’m the gypsy on the left.

How the heck, do I keep calm and carry on after that? Well, here is an example of what my quiet times look like.

I do it the old-fashioned way with the Word, a journal, pen and a formula I discovered in another book I read a few years ago.  I guess you’ve figured out by now, that I am a voracious reader.  It’s amazing what God tells me through authors that haven’t had the privilege of being canonized or included in the Holy scriptures. He can speak through whomever/whatever He pleases. If He can speak through a jackass, I guess I can listen to a fellow human being.  (Numbers 22:28)


Wayne Cordeiro is the author of The Divine Mentor  and it was in this book that I found an acronym that helped tremendously with my conversations with the Father.  The acronym is this… S O A P.

S is for Scripture

  • I start in any book of the Bible and read chapter one.
  • Each day I read one chapter until I’ve read the entire book.
  • I pay attention to what the Spirit is telling me.  One or two verses usually stand out as pertinent to something going on in my life.
  • I write these in my journal.

O is for Observation

  • I scrutinize these verses.  I ask myself the 5 W’s and an H.  Who, what, when, where, why and how in order to learn what the Author is teaching.
  • I also look for keywords and define them in the Greek so I know exactly what they mean.
  • One word of advice – DO NOT take the verse out of context and apply it where it need not apply.  If needed, read verses from the previous chapter to be sure you understand what you are reading. Because…. Sunshine, If you are angry with someone and you choose the scripture, Acts 7: 59, 60 that speaks of Stephen being stoned to death, that doesn’t mean God is telling you to kill someone.  ALWAYS keep scripture within context.
  • I write down what I’ve observed about the verses.  Oh… don’t be surprised, when God Himself causes you to laugh.  Where do you think humor came from anyway?  It’s called  J – O – Y !

A is for Application

  • This is the personal introspective part.
  • What is God telling you?
  • How do you apply the verses to your life?
  • I write down how I believe God is speaking to me through these verses.

P is for Prayer

  • My prayer-life changed drastically when I began to pray HIS WORD to HIM.  We are speaking HIS language when we do this.
  • I write my prayer in my journal so when He answers I can see how I prayed and most importantly, how He answered.
  • Once I’ve completed this, I titled the page and record it in the table of contents I created at the front of the journal.

    S O A P Journal
    A page from my S O A P Journal

You will not believe that you can do this in 15 minutes, but you can.  Sometimes, you will be drawn in by the Author and not want to stop after 15 minutes.  That’s ok.  He is also the Author of time and can stop the world from turning on its’ axis if He wants. (Joshua 10:1-15) Just go with it.

Something Profound

It’s amazing how God works.  While researching for this article, I discovered something profound. On July 5, 2011 my verse was from John 20:31,

“But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.”

What God told me in these verses is not important. Apply SOAP, it cleanses the soul.  What is He saying to YOU?

As always, comments are welcome, compliments to the Father are LOVED!  Have a blessed day and forgive me.  This was longer than I promised.

Adapted from: The Spirit of Loveliness. Copyright © 1999 by Emilie Barnes. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.