Meet my friend Jess. She is a professional photographer, editor, and creator of Jess Kettle Presets. Her work has taken her everywhere from the Ozarks to Aruba, and she has been featured on Martha Stewart’s website and in Good Housekeeping and The Knot magazines. She has four kids and loves girls’ nights out and spending summer days at the lake with her family. As a working mom, Jess often finds herself second-guessing how she spends the hours and minutes of her days. She knows what it feels like to be spread too thin and to set overwhelming expectations for herself. Jess used to be a party perfectionist who would obsess over every details of a special event or gathering, including the perfect menu, the most unusual part theme, and picture-worthy décor. As it turned out, that perfectionism brought more stress that joy for her and her family. Her gathering style has evolved over time as she has settled into motherhood and accepted the fact that her family cares more about being together than about a picture-perfect event. She goes big for birthdays, Halloween, and Christmas but still sends invitations via text message. She has become the queen of last-minute, quickly planned soirees. You won’t find elaborate tablescapes or mantel decorations every month of the year at her house, but you will find Sunday dinners with neighbors, late evenings filled with laughter as everyone squishes together on family-room couches, and people gathered around the kitchen counter in meaningful conversation. Her greatest belief about gathering is that we can choose connection over perfection.
Emily Freeman took her first creative writing class in high school and has loved writing ever since. She finds great joy in studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Her deep love of the scriptures comes from a desire to find their application in everyday life. She is a best-selling author of numerous books, including Creating a Christ-Centered Home; Closer to Christ; and Even This: Getting to the Place Where You Can Trust God with Anything.
I can’t wait to introduce you to my friend Katie. She is someone I admire because no one creates the magic of gathering in the same way she does. Her love for gathering was passed down through the women in her family, and the art of hospitality was taught to her by her mother. Katie believes that love is in the little things.