Blue Plate Legacy {Guest Post}

August 29, 2016

Good morning, friends! Today we are so excited to once again have a guest post from Sue Moore Donaldson. Sue has taught us so much about hospitality and her love of welcoming others in is contagious! We know you will love her as much as we do. Here's more from Sue:

I have a Blue-Plate Legacy. Not a legacy my mother got from her mom, but one she passed down to me in spades.

Mom loved pretty dishes. Every Sunday we’d ask, “Mom, which china do you want to use – Grandma’s or yours?” She’d say, “How about grandma’s – pretty dishes are meant to be used!”

I got Mom’s pretty-dishes-DNA. She had two china cabinets. I have one and am holding (so far). She’d say to us girls: “Now tell me—what dishes do you want after I die.” Morbid? Maybe, but we liked to please and would wander through her cupboards and drawers and lay claim to a treasure or two—just to make her happy. (Read: just to make her stop asking!)

Mom gifted me early with a This-Will-Be-Yours-Someday present when she handed me the Blue Plate Special – a glass sandwich platter with etched designs.

It was one of my favorites.

Growing up, I’d set the buffet with cakes or sandwiches for friends and future friends—Mom never met a stranger and a brownie helped turn a stranger into a friend.

While preparing to teach a workshop on “hospitality,” I decided to interview my mom. “She’s a natural,” I thought.

However, when mom began answering my questions, I was shocked to hear she used to be scared to death to invite people over. (“Really, Mom? I don’t believe it!”) Really. Her mom rarely had company. It wasn’t part of her legacy. Mom felt shy and backward when it came to inviting and cooking for others.

Mom learned – through trial and error – how to be hospitable. It wasn’t a grace she had received, but she worked at it until she became comfortable with it. Perhaps that's why it’s called: Practicing Hospitality. She got better with practice. By the time I came along—number four of five—she had shed her insecurity and blue plate specials abounded.

We never knew she had broken a chain of non-hospitality in her own legacy so that we wouldn’t have to—an inheritance far beyond a pretty blue plate.

Mom told me that when she was early married, Dad had invited the deacon board for pie and coffee. Now, she could make a good pie, she just didn’t know how to make coffee!

She cut the pie and placed the pieces on plates and loaded them with vanilla ice cream, Dad’s favorite. But when she tried to get the vacuumed top off her coffeepot, it stuck and she had to wait 30 minutes for it to cool! By that time, the ice cream had melted and she said, “I was mortified!” That was her word. I was mortified just listening to her.

“Mom,” I said, “why didn’t you tell the deacons so they could help you? All engineers, most likely! Why didn’t you serve the pie first and say the coffee would be coming?”

“I would now, Sue, but then I was too insecure.” (And mortified. Mortification stops us in our tracks. I get that, Mom.)

Bless her. She learned through many years and many mortifications that it’s not what’s on the plates and on the tables, it’s who is in the chairs and on the porch.

Mom took to heart the commandment: “Be hospitable one to another, without complaint.” (A commandment, not a suggestion.)

We felt special as kids because we got to use our home for youth group parties, Pioneer Girls sleepovers, and Good News Clubs.

She passed down to us the ease and confidence to open our homes and hearts, something she herself had not received. She broke a chain of non-grace and I’m forever grateful.

Is there a treasure you wished you’d received in your legacy? There’s still time to break any chain of non-grace--all because of his grace. It may take practice (and mortifications).

Our girls, Bonnie and Bethany and Mary Grace, will learn how to make coffee – of course, it’s easier in a Keurig –and maybe how to make a mean pie. All because of their grandma.

I don’t know who will want the blue plate.

It won’t matter. What matters is the grace that flowed from God to Mom to me to the ones at our table. That makes any plate special.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32

Sue's a wife of one man-in-plaid and mom of three daughters--who keep her either at the bank or on her knees. She writes about God’s inviting heart at Her book, Come to My Table: God's Hospitality and Yours includes stories, tips and recipes to help you get started inviting the world to your table. She speaks for women's conferences, MOPS, and retreats; series and event topics listed on See and hear a bit of Sue here.


  1. Lovely sentiments from your mom and God Sue...♥ Hospitality is always scary for those of us who didn't grow up in it (we seldom had folks over that weren't immediate family...) but we have everything thing we need through our heavenly Father who will show us how and when, why and who at just the right time. Thank you ladies for showing your virtual hospitality to such a special friend.♥

  2. I am so glad to have been invited to your table and into your life so many years ago, Sue. You embody the grace poured out to all of us. Thank you.

  3. Sue,
    What a beautiful story about your mom and her legacy, and that plate :-)

  4. Such good thoughts. This term "un-grace" will stick with me. I am learning to break the habit to resist hospitality as a foreigner in Nepal. Love this encouragement and trying not to covet that plate too hard.

    Stopped by from Coffee for Your Heart. Happy to have found both of these wonderful blogs. Blessings.

  5. I loved reading the lessons on hospitality you learned from your mom. So special, Sue!

  6. I loved this so very much. Sharing!