A meal is never just a meal.

Today the kids and I spent the day in the kitchen. I have been wanting to pass along some of our favorite family recipes and really teach them how to make them over the next several years.

A gal I met at a homeschool gathering had this genius idea for teaching kids to cook:

Pick the meal. Make it the same night 4 weeks in a row.

The first week, the kids basically watch you cook, and you talk them through some of the steps.

The second week, the kids help you in the actual making of it – you showing them how to measure everything, walk through the steps, etc.

The third week, they make the meal with YOUR assistance.

The fourth week, they make the meal without your help! And voila! You have taught your child how to make a recipe from start to finish and they have confidence in executing it!

This is something I will be doing this summer and throughout the school year as a part of homeschooling. It’s just such a valuable skill that I can’t not do this for my children.

This was week one. We made one of our family’s most treasured recipes. This recipe is not only incredibly delicious but also filled with a story of a dear old friend.

The story goes a little something like this. Years ago, we were in a season of intense grief. Our baby that we were adopting had died at 36 weeks and we were beside ourselves in sadness. Only one family brought us a meal. It’s funny the things you remember, huh? Well, that meal was brought by a dear friend, Laurie. And it was this delicious pasta you could eat hot or cold. We loved it because it was so tasty and also because it tasted like love. The love and compassion of a friend who knew that while she couldn’t do anything to heal our grief, the meal she made us could be a comfort. And a comfort it was.

We loved that meal so much, that months later when I came out of my fog, I remember emailing her for the recipe. She replied quickly and attached the recipe and we began making this meal both for our family, but also to give away to other families as regularly as possible.

Months turned to years and I didn’t see my friend much. Then one day, the unthinkable happened.

This beautiful homeschooling mama of many littles was standing in her kitchen one moment while life clattered on beautifully all around her. And the next moment she was on the floor, gone. Just. gone.

An aneurysm took the life of this holy, kind, and compassionate woman.

And so this recipe, this meal, it takes on a whole new meaning every time I prepare it. It draws me deeper into prayer for Laurie’s husband and children, and for their entire family who have grieved her. It encourages me to pray for all families who have lost someone. It grows my capacity to love and to be love & compassion to others.

This is why this recipe matters. These are the lessons I want my children to remember. A meal is rarely ever just a meal. It can taste like love, and compassion, and holiness, and community, and courage, and beauty. So the moments we spend pouring over a recipe or working the sauce until it’s just right… these are moments pregnant with grace. These are the moments we taste the divine.

The kids chose this meal to be the one they would make this week. They planned the menu, all the while knowing that we would be making TWO of this meal so as to bless another family with a full meal tonight.

So I texted a dear friend and told her to not plan anything for dinner, and that we were bringing her a meal. She is 7 months pregnant with her 6th boy and they are in the middle of moving. I knew it wasn’t a big deal as she is not sick or bedridden or anything, but it was a little something we could do to just say, ‘hey, we love you guys’.

They called when dinner was over and each of their boys got on the phone with my son (Emma was at soccer) to tell him their favorite part of the meal. It was a delight to watch his face light up as each of his friends told him what they enjoyed. This was a tangible act of service that he will remember for years to come.

The blessing of this meal is that it helped us to re-learn the lessons of grace & compassion as well as a spirit of generosity! See? A meal is never really just a meal.

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One thought on “A meal is never just a meal.

  1. Elizabeth McLeno says:

    How Beautiful!!! I can’t believe I’m starting the day crying. I need to remember as I’m rushing to make a meal, that each moment can be sanctified.

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