7,665 meals. That’s about how many I’ve served and cleaned up in the past seven years for my family. But that doesn’t count all the breast milk bottles I pumped or afternoon applesauce snacks. Somedays I feel like I live in my kitchen. So I have to decide, will that 12 by 12 space be a jail cell or a mission field.
“I’m hungry!!” My 2 year old yells from the living room. But I just fed him 20 minutes ago.
“The kitchen’s closed until lunch, bud. Sorry.” I say, and then end up getting him a cup of water to tide him off. Not so closed after all.
It’s easy for resentful thoughts to slide in throughout the day when we can’t sit down or have a thought without a little person dragging us back to the kitchen to meet their needs. But that’s not going to change anytime soon, and really if I think about it, I don’t want it to change.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; … if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)
Motherhood has taught me how to be a servant — a lesson my heart needed to learn. I needed to put others needs before my own, to be patient and generous with my time, and to learn how to work for the Lord instead of my ego. So that even if no one in the world sees how much I do to serve others, it’s enough to know that God sees my service and he thinks it is good.
I love that passage from Romans because it levels the field and says that serving the Lord doesn’t have to be something grand. It may look big or small to the world, but to God, it’s all the same. There is not small act of love. So serve no matter where you are with a happy heart — even if it’s your kitchen.
I leafed through my grandma’s old cookbook the other day. One that is dated back to 1953 called “Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.” It was interesting to read through the old pages that taught on how to decorate your table so the dishes wouldn’t clang, and how to properly nourish your family with three balanced meals a day. There were charts to learn about vitamins and creeds to learn about serving your family.
It may sound old-fashioned, but to me it was beautiful. Women used to take such pride in homemaking because they saw it as important. Like they were working for the Lord, not for social media likes.
I found the page I was looking for — grandma’s recipe for peanut butter cookies — something I haven’t had since she died last year.
Funny how something like a cookie can make you feel loved. I remember my mom making those same cookies and letting me dunk mine in her afternoon coffee. And something in my heart wanted to be that person for my kids too.
So My daughter stayed up for nap time and we headed back to the kitchen. We measured and poured and giggled as the mixer went fast. She licked the sugar off the counter and smiled.
That time in the kitchen was good. It was mission field work. It was love.
I am thankful for the hours my grandma and my mother stood at their kitchen sinks preparing meals and washing dishes. I’m thankful for the memories and joy and love they spread out on their tables. And that night when I was packing my dishwasher with little pink plates and dinosaur forks, I was thankful that I got to serve my people.
We need to believe that our time serving, cleaning, wiping, helping, and tying is important to God. Because it is.
That night as I filled bowls of popcorn for movie time I finally sat down on the couch to snuggle. And my sweet girl said…
“Don’t sit down yet, I need a cup of water.”