Comparison is the thief of joy.
I love a good dare. Many of you will remember it was a dare by Francis Schaeffer that prompted me to put the turquoise table in my front yard. A dare to open up my front door and build community right where I live.
Behind that dare was a deeply rooted issue I was struggling with — comparison. Far too often I found myself saying things like:
I would invite people over to dinner if only I had outdoor patio furniture…
Maybe when the kids are older and the house isn’t such a wreck…
I’ve made some strides, but still backslide into the old comparison games. So, when my friends at Mary & Martha asked if I would be up for taking the #nocomparedare, I knew I was in. And, I’d like you to join me, too.
Time after time, I hear women lament they wish they were better about inviting friends and neighbors over. But, we are pulled in so many different directions. Our packed-to-the-brim schedules are one of the biggest obstacles we face when it comes to opening up our lives and homes to others. The other is a rotten little bugger named Comparison.
But these are the truths I’ve been learning…
It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
We are bombarded in magazines, movies, and on social media with images of what our lives “should” look like. When we start comparing our everyday lives to those we see on Pinterest and in our Facebook feed, the joy gets sucked out of life pretty quick. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than scrolling through Instagram foodie pics when you’re having wine and Cheez-Its for dinner.
One day at the turquoise table, my friends and I made a Top 10 list of the things that get in our way of welcoming friends and even family into our homes. Maybe you’ll recognize some of our pitfalls:
- If my kitchen were bigger
- If I had nicer outdoor furniture
- If I wasn’t on a diet
- If we made more money
- If my kids were older and not so rambunctious
- If my kids were younger and I had an excuse to host a playgroup
- If my schedule wasn’t so jam packed
- If my house was nicer, or at least clean
- If I wasn’t so tired and stressed out
We decided these were really just lame excuses that were masking underlining issues of pride and fear. Talking about the way we let Comparison rob us of our joy made such a huge difference. You know how it is, once you air your dirty laundry it just doesn’t stink as bad? I’m grateful for my friends and our honest conversation.
Gather Small, Love Deep
When kicking comparison to the curb, I try to remember these words: simple is best. I tend to get caught up in the myth that more is better. I’ll start small, thinking I’ll have just a few friends over for coffee and before you know it, I’ve turned the house upside down and made a chocolate soufflé. Ok, I’ve never made a soufflé in my life, but you get the point. When it comes to gathering, it’s always about loving the people at our table. The point is not what we serve, but who we serve.
Gathering a small group of friends or neighbors over is more than fine. Simple is great! When we’re more focused on the people than the service, our love goes deeper and we better serve those gathered around us.
But just in case you need a no fail, super easy chocolate fudge sheet cake for you next gathering (and c’mon, who doesn’t need a yummy chocolate recipe?!), my grandmother’s recipe is a fantastic go-to for an irresistible treat with friends. Cut the cake into small, bite sized squares and it will go a long way!
- For the cake:
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 2 sticks butter
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- For the icing:
- 1 stick butter
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 6 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Sift sugar and flour together in a large bowl.
- In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt butter, cocoa, and water. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour over flour and sugar. Stir by hand until blended.
- Next mix in buttermilk, beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir until well combined and pour into greased pan. Bake for 20 -25 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the icing.
- In the same sauce pan miix butter, cocoa, and whole milk over low heat. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir by hand until smooth.
- Spread icing over cake. Wait until completely cool before cutting.
- Chocolate Fudge Sheet Cake freezes beautifully.
One winner will receive a gorgeous set of the Mary & Martha melamine dessert plates. They’re beautiful for decoration of course, but so lovely for a girlfriend gathering. Tea and scones? Late night chocolate sheet cake with a glass of milk? Y’all, the possibilities are endless!
How to enter the giveaway:
(1) Share with me in the comments below: when it comes to gathering, what are your biggest comparison obstacles?
(2) Head over to Facebook and ‘like’ The Schell Cafe. Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know! You’ll receive an extra entry in the giveaway for doing so.
You have until midnight June 12th to enter the giveaway. Good luck!