Food is the Messenger

A kitchen message is what I call the meals or treats I share with other families.  The gift of a dinner in disposable containers is a tangible, edible message from my kitchen and our home, saying "Hang in there," or "We love you," or "Praying for you," or "We're here for you."

Death. Birth. Surgery. Crazy season of life. Heartbreak of any sort. They're all excuses to take food to someone I love to ease their day (and maybe, sometimes, their budget).

I will never forget Mrs. Patty--the mother of a good friend--who showed up the afternoon after my mother-in-law's, death during that "suspended animation" that comes between the death and the funeral. (It was all I could do to deal with the phone, the clothes, and the crazy south-Louisiana snowstorm. Food wasn't even on my radar.)

In her hands was a battered stock pot full of homemade gumbo and a rice cooker full of hot rice. With a hug and a murmured promise to check in on us soon, she was gone in a flash. It was a simple meal, but it was Chet's kind of  comfort food growing up, and it was perfect.

Gumbo's not a quick dish to prepare, and so I  knew that almost as soon as she heard, Mrs. Patty had started sauteeing the "trinity" (onion, bell pepper, celery) and boiling that chicken, no doubt praying for us all the while. Three years on, my heart still swells with the warmth of the gesture. And my husband, who had previously been rather baffled as to why I went to "so much trouble" to take food to people when they could just grab something from McDonald's, suddenly understood that the food is just the messenger.

The folks I take food to aren't always personal friends I know well. I'm on the meals ministry of our pretty large church  (500 people attending two services), so that means sometimes I'm knocking on a strange door, handing food off to someone I may have only seen in passing (if at all). In those cases, I always hope to make a new friend, but even if I never see them again, I pray that they'll feel Jesus' love for them in the meal, that they'll know that His hands reached out to them in a stressful time, through me.

I feel privileged to be His hands, and if I could leave the meals anonymously to emphasize to the recipients just Who it is reaching out to them, I would. (But you know, it isn't wise to eat food left on your doorstep.)

If you're feeling called to send kitchen messages of your own, maybe some of what I've learned will help you on your way.

Meals as Ministry
Six (or seven) questions to ask before taking a meal
Tried and True
Special Needs
Making it special
Free printables

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