Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preparing Food With Love: Cooking As Ministry

Food is so much more than providing sustenance to a body. So much more than filling a belly.

It's about nourishing a soul.

I was reminded of this yesterday. An idea that I've always believed in with my whole heart, but often forget.

I spend a lot of my time and energies in the kitchen. It's something I don't have to do (and I tell my family that, sometimes), but feel impelled to. It's a big part of my life's calling. A talent and a gift I'm grateful to have been blessed with: The keeper of the home. The nourisher. The nurturer.

I want to give the best. And that means the healthiest, the most beautiful, the most sustaining, the most comforting food I can offer.

This job is not easy. It means work. A sacrifice in many ways. Some days I wonder if the effort I give is worth it, if it matters.

Monday is always my big kitchen work day. I made granola. I made tortillas. I made energy bars. That night I was back to make a big pot of curry for dinner. It was was well liked, but I ended up with a ton of leftovers. Wondering how and if they'd get eaten.

Sweet Ivana came over and I told her about what I had made and would she like to take a jar home? As I was in the process of doing so, she started to cry. A big cry. She could hardly express how much she loves the food I make and share with her. How she loves to come to our home for dinner. That what I've done and what I do means so much to her.

I was touched to the core.

Maybe what I do does matter.

And then there was yesterday.

I had been given the opportunity to bring a meal over to my friend who is battling cancer. A chance to feed her sweet family. I've been feeling so inadequate in not knowing how I could help her. Wishing I could just take this all away, but knowing I can't.
I do know that feeding them is something I can do. Something I'm good at.

So yesterday I spent another day in the kitchen. Such a strong feeling all day long that what I was engaged in was holy work. I was ministering with food. It made me so happy. I almost felt a reverence with each vegetable I chopped, each kneading of the dough, each stir of the pot. Every movement, every action, every step filled with thoughts of them, along with a deep intention, sent to each of their spirits of love and peace and joy.

Later on in the day, Isaac's friend came over after school. I fed them each a snack of apples and peanut butter on their own little plates and later when his mother came inside to pick him up, she wondered about all the amazing smells coming from the kitchen. They left happily with a bread stick to share and said, "Your house is always so homey."

All of this reminding me again (just when I needed the reminder, too)  with the sense that my work in the kitchen is the heart of my home. Almost the heart of my life. And it does matter. Truly.

Friends, if you ever forget this, if you, like I do sometimes, get caught up in the mundane and the drudgery, please remember that preparing  and sharing food has so much power for good in this world. Not only as a way to bless your own, but others beyond the family circle who need a bit of comfort and nurturing. 

And we all need that, don't we?

And do you know what? The one that will really be nourished the most is you. The deep- down- in- your- heart knowing that the sharing and serving of love this way; those gifts of food you provide and offer with your heart and your hands- all of it will bring such a sense of fulfillment and happiness to your soul.

I hope you can feel this like I did yesterday.



  1. Thank you. I'm also a homemaker, a teacher at home, and an Emily! I needed to be reminded of these truths. Thank you.

  2. Amen to all of that! There is no place and events of more important than the simple, hard work much took it for granted than mothers and fathersdo!Your value of what you do is great!

  3. Thank you for more of your poetry of life. Poetry occurs in many forms, and when well crafted, directs and lifts the artist/giver, and the observer/recipient, upward. Your words and photos here are poetry on many levels - lifting when the actions were first performed, then lifting again and again when recorded, shared, read, viewed, pondered, and re-shared with others. You are spreading "good".

  4. I love your blog, I don't even remember how I found it but I have been a follower for awhile now. I have missed your daily posts, Your words help me in so many ways and I don't even know you. You are my go to blog, where I know I will find something that will brighten my day and make me want to try harder to make it a good day. So THANK YOU!

  5. I loved this post Emily! I have always been intimidated by making bread, but I love warm bread! I love the smells and the warmth and comfort baking does for me too! Thanks for reminding me how wonderful food is when shared with others.

  6. nice comments :)

    you know food prepared with love taste better too!!

  7. Beautiful and ispiring words. The kitchen is a gathering place...a place to create...a place to connect with others...the place that makes this house a home. Stop by for a visit as I share our food journey.

  8. Hi Emily,

    I had to step out of lurk mode to say thank you for the wonderful post! When I've spent an hour or more on something that gets devoured in 10 minutes, I sometimes wonder... so it's nice to have the reminder that there is more going on than just filling bellies.

  9. I needed these words today....beautiful words that remind just why. Thank you. Thank you so much.

  10. Wow, I found you because of Renee's link at FiMBY, and your words seem written just for me today! I have spent the last year cooking whole foods, from scratch, while working full time outside the home, and it takes a lot of planning and time, and although my husband loves it, not so much the kids (5 yrs old and almost 9 years old). So some times I feel like it's not worth it. I think I just found a new Blog to check out when I have some time.

  11. Very beautiful!!!! I wholeheartedly agree. Feeding my family and others is a ministry.

  12. Came here from FIMBY...oh my goodness, we are kindred spirits! So happy to have found your blog and can't wait to peek around :)

  13. Thank you for this post. I needed the encouragement/reminder today. :)

  14. I LOVE this. It affirms so much of what I've been thinking and reading about food, its preparation, and meals. Thank you for the inspiration. I found you at Andrea's Flourishing Mother. I'll be back!