Early one morning on a quiet, lonely beach a solitary man stood looking out over the blue of the sea. He was watching a small fishing boat. As it neared the shore, the beachside onlooker and the fishermen shouted greetings to one another. As anglers often do, the man offered a fishing tip to the luckless fishermen.
One last try wouldn’t hurt, so the fishermen threw their net over the other side. When they felt the boat shift from the enormous weight of fish filling the net, the light of recognition dawned.
They knew this man! Hurriedly they rowed to shore to find their friend and Savior, the risen Jesus, stooped over a charcoal fire. He was cooking them breakfast.
What kind of God is this who serves His followers breakfast in the morning?
The disciples were
- awed at being in His presence again.
- stunned afresh by the reality that their once-dead Savior was really alive.
- amazed at the miracle of their catch.
But most of all they were touched—silenced, I imagine—by His tender love demonstrated as He cooked for them. He cared for them enough to serve up plates full of hot fresh food in the kitchen of His creation.
Cooking is caring. Creating meals that nourish both body and soul is life sustaining.
Jesus demonstrated this value many times in His three-year ministry; most notably when He fed the 5,000 men and unnumbered thousands of women and children who had followed Him. Mesmerized by His teaching, no one paused to realize how long they’d been gone and how far from their supper pots they had wandered. Except for one young boy whose mom had planned ahead.
But Jesus recognized their need for physical food and He fed them all.
Fully human, He partook too. During His years on earth, tables and food were a part of Jesus’ work. He ate with tax gatherers and sinners, at the homes of Peter, Zacchaeus, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He celebrated all the Old Testament feasts during His life. He ate three meals a day like everyone else.
He needed and enjoyed food. Kitchens were comfortable places for Jesus. As our Creator, He made us to need and enjoy food, too, calling us to make our kitchens today comfortable and natural places to invite Him to work. He told us to remember Him, our Bread of Life, our Living Water, our Vine, our Good Shepherd when we eat.
Women have followed Jesus in demonstrating love and care for their families and others in their kitchens for millennia.
Just last week I visited my mom in the rehab center of a nursing home. I heard a story of a woman who brought baskets of food—her famous yeast rolls, homemade cookies, a pot of soup—every day when she came to visit her husband. They weren’t just for her husband though. These special dishes, shared generously with the nurses, therapists, and volunteers who run the nursing home, demonstrated love and appreciation for these often unthanked servants.
Too often we women think of this thrice-daily duty as drudgery. I certainly did because it wasn’t the medium where I felt most comfortable expressing my creativity. And complaining children didn’t help my motivation.
We might not recognize it daily, but the truth is tables are places of connection, relationships, fellowship with those present, including the Holy Spirit. When I remember the years raising our kids, I remember many meals and smile…. at the nightly spilled milk, at the noise of baby Laura banging on a highchair tray to get attention amidst her five louder older siblings, at the recipe fails, and at the satisfaction when my fare was devoured!
We made lots of memories around that oval. My efforts in our kitchen nourished 6 growing bodies into adulthood. All the work was worth it. Yours is too.
So here are three tips for serving up fresh, hot body and soul nourishment right in your own kitchen.
1. Invite your children to cook with you. You might have more messes in the beginning, but in time you will have more help if you include your kids in the kitchen. Teach them to cut, chop, mix, and stir. A shared activity like this facilitates a venue where your children will share their hearts as they prepare a meal. When they are older, let them prepare an entire meal on their own or with another sibling. They will learn planning, timing, creativity, and the art of loving others through serving to meet physical needs.
2. Make sit down meals a priority. Plan ahead to block as many evenings at home each week as you can. Try to keep them free from practices and other interruptions. If evenings are impossible because of work schedules or other commitments, make breakfast a nonnegotiable instead of a mad dash. Find a way to eat as family once a day if at all possible. If you don’t work at this, it won’t happen because no one cares about or can influence your family like you.
3. Include everyone in conversation around the table. An easy dinner script that even young children can answer is: What was the best part of your day? What was the hardest part of your day? If they get in the habit of sharing about their thoughts and feelings at an early age, it’ll be routine as they grow. For broader conversation starters, check out Untie Your Story Memories that includes questions for all ages. Read stories out loud while everyone eats. While their mouths and tummies are full of the yummy food you’ve prepared, take advantage of the chance to intentionally nurture their hearts too.
Remember Jesus’ example when He fed His disciples a simple breakfast of cooked fish. It’s long been said that the warmest place in a home is the kitchen, but families are spending less and less time in this room. Meals don’t have to be Pinterest or Instagram worthy. They simply need to be the foundation by which you gather your people around a basic need and make the daily moments meaningful.
Mom, you can do this!
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