As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Hidden Art of Homemaking {Chapter 8: Food}

I tentatively blogged my way through the chapters on sketching and gardening and flower arranging, wondering whether I'd have anything substantive to say. (I managed to find plenty to say anyway. No comments from Ron, please.) 

But this chapter about food has challenged me in a different way.  I have so much to say!  And much of it, I have already said in the four years that I have been blogging. 

First of all, let me say that I found myself nodding my head in agreement over and over as I read Mrs. Schaeffer's words. She takes mealtime seriously, from the variety of flavor, texture, and appearance of the food that is served, to the arrangement of the plate and the table, to the atmosphere surrounding the meal.

Here are some of the passages that had me nodding...

"Cooking should not be thought of as a drudgery, but as an art."


"To 'help cook' is one of the most enjoyable things of childhood - to say nothing of being a sure way of producing good cooks."

Indeed! I have seen this with each of my children. When I included the children in the tossing in of ingredients or the stirring of the soup or the kneading of the bread or the chopping of the carrots, we enjoyed memory-making moments. Not that it is always the "easy" thing to do with youngsters. In the beginning years, it takes longer and it is messier to include them. But in the end, you're doing yourself a favor. Both of my older girls love to bake. My son loves to grill and can make a mean omelet. And my youngest (12) has come into her own in the kitchen this year.

"Food should be chosen for nutritive values, of course, but also to give variety and interest to meals. Food should be chosen to give pleasure, and to cheer up people after a hard day's work, to comfort them when they feel down for some reason, to amuse them when things seem a bit dull, or to open up conversation when they feel silent and uncommunicative."

Yes again! Is it a part of the mother-heart that likes to feed her young...even when they're no longer "young"? I see that in my mother-in-law who feeds something to my husband whenever he comes for any reason. I see it in my mother too, and I see it in myself. 

"Being challenged by what a difference her cooking and her way of serving is going to make in the family life gives a woman an opportunity to approach this with the feeling of painting a picture or writing a symphony."

I love this! This seemingly mundane chore can be elevated to art!

"The cook in the home has opportunity to be doing something very real in the area of making good human relationships."

And that is one of the ideas that I have proposed several times in my years of blogging. It is what I believe, and it is what I teach the two girls who are still living at home...

Mealtime is about more than the food. 

It is about a gathering of family. A time to connect. A place to tell stories. A place to share values.
Allow me to share what I wrote about mealtime a while back in my series 31 Days to Make a House a Home...

Perhaps one of the surest ways to make a house a home is to make the dinner hour a priority

Family mealtimes are a priority at our house...always have been, always will be.  There is just something about that time when everyone comes together, sits around the table, and shares a meal.  And it's not just about the food. 

We connect at meal time...not only a physical connection, in that we're all in the same place at the same time, but a relational one.

We share conversation.  We talk about the details of our day.  We talk about the upcoming birthday party.  We talk about what we learned in our homeschool read aloud, or who we saw at the grocery store, or what we want to watch on movie night.  We talk about the Bible passages that Mr. Phil read on Sunday and the discussion that followed.

We share family history and family stories.
  Dinner topics often lead to stories of our younger years.  This is how our kids learn about our lives, and the lives of their grandparents and great-grandparents, and thus, they discover their own history.  (Since there is such an age difference on our four children, we often discover that there are stories that the younger two have not yet heard.)

We share our values in the daily gathering at the dinner table.  Values are communicated in the honest, open day-to-day talk.

We share time together, simply enjoying one another's company.  Shared mealtimes encourage family unity.

We enjoy stillness and respite.  The dinner hour is a time to slow down the pace, a time to relax.  It's a time to feed the body and the soul.

Dinnertime is an anchor for the day.

Sometimes mealtime is lively.  There is laughter and engaging conversation. 
Sometimes mealtime is quiet.  People are pensive...or just plain tired.
Sometimes meals are special, wonderful food served on a beautifully set table.
Sometimes the meal is canned soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (or leftovers, as it was last night).

But a meal that is shared by a family (whether that family is one with a table full of children, or a couple whose children have grown*) is a special occasion of grace and blessing.

Consistently sharing meal time is an important part of making a house a home.

That said, it is worth the effort to make ordinary mealtime a special occasion. 

Do what is appropriate for your season of life. If you are a mother whose children are all young, you will have neither time nor energy to prepare gourmet meals. But you can serve a colorful plate of simple foods and place a dandelion bouquet in the center of the table. If your children are teenagers who work during the evening, your family may not be able to dine together every night. But you can make the nights when everyone is together extra special. And be sure to share the meal with those who are present on the other nights...there are no unimportant guests at our dinner table.

I could go on. (I told you I had a lot to say!) But perhaps I'll just direct you to some of my musings about mealtimes that I have shared in the past. Then it's up to you whether or not you read any more...
Set a Pretty Table  The "hidden art" of a pretty table...and not just for company.
Plan to Eat  Planning is half the battle.
Turn Off the TV! This one is about distractions at mealtime.
Mealtime Traditions  Some practical ideas for making mealtimes special.
An Ordinary Tradition  Friday nights at our house.
A Breakfast Request  In which Bekah wants some pretty food.
Packing Lunches Bekah Style  In which Bekah again wants some pretty food.
Setting the Table for Resurrection Sunday  I take you step-by-step through an easy-peasy holiday table setting plan.

If you're interested in this book discussion, you may read along as I usually do 
(click ~here~ for all the posts in the discussion), 

or join in the discussion yourself!
(Click ~here~ for details on how to participate.)


  1. I can also nod my head with whatever you've shared! I totally agree that a meal time brings together our family. Love all the details of the post:) Have a great day!

  2. Love it! Thanks for sharing! I know that took some time. Have a good weekend! Happy cooking,

  3. Couldnt agree with you more!

    Really enjoyed your post and the links ~

    (fyi - friday night tradition and breakfast request are the same link)

  4. I'm nodding my head in agreement. Food and mealtimes are so important to family relationships. I loved everything Edith Schaeffer said in that book, but I really took to heart her chapter on food. Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Have I been here for hours? Like three? John took me out to supper tonight and I was right in the middle of your post when he said the train was leaving...yikes, I scooted.

    Oh I have so much to learn in this area and so much room for improvement. I'm going to reread right now.

  6. Cheryl, I love this post. It's so important for families to stay connected, and I must say from being a faithful reader of your blog, that you do it wonderfully! Thanks for sharing a most important post! ♥
    Martha Ellen

  7. I sure miss those family meals so I like your encouragement to do what you can for the season you are in. Being mindful is a huge part of it all for me.

  8. I can tell you enjoy cooking. I wish I was better about my kids in the kitchen, but I get so stressed out that I end up sending them out.

    I will be checking out your other links.

  9. Love your encouragements! Also for me, when I am preparing the meal (or the cookies, etc), people (either family or guests) tend to sit across the counter from me and we have a good, unpressured time of talking about things. Sometimes I think it is easier for people to talk together while you are doing something else with your hands. Plus, there is a good meal at the end of the work:)

  10. I so appreciate this post and its encouragements even though I am not a young mom.


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