Tag Archives: Food

Love is in the details


pizza faceWhen we were in Youth ministry all those years ago we were poor… dirt poor.  And most of the time we did not get reimbursed for things like having teenagers drop by the house after school for a snack and a bit of conversation.  I always assured the kids that if they stopped by the house I could always make popcorn and Koolade even if I had nothing else in the house.  Sometimes I had enough ingredients to make cookies.  And we tried to keep a stash of frozen pizzas on hand for those spontaneous “parties” when a bunch of kids would land at our house after youth group.  But anyone who knows teenagers knows that they are worse than a plague of locust- they can clean out your pantry in a matter of minutes.

I discovered that many of our kids really liked the strawberry lemonade I made from scratch.  I started freezing large ziplocks full of lemonade to have on hand too.  Eventually I started giving away frozen lemonade as birthday presents to some of my girls who particularly loved it.  It may seem like an odd gift, but I paid attention to what people enjoyed and remembered what made them happy- that was the real gift.  The girls loved getting frozen lemonade for their birthdays.

Here in Costa Rica, in the absence of Starbucks and Caribou Coffee shops, I have started a new trend among our students.  I serve iced coffee.  I have asked various missions teams to bring me bottles of coffee syrups and we set up a regular coffee shop in my kitchen.  Our “regular” students know the formula now and can instruct the newbies in how to prepare the best iced coffee drinks on the planet.

Just because I know someone will ask me for the recipe, I’m going to share it here.  It’s pretty easy.  It’s a cold press base which means you dump a small package of coffee into a pitcher, fill with cold water, and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.  Then you scoop and strain off the grounds and top off the pitcher with more cold water if needed.  That’s the coffee base.  Now you need sweet cream.  This is made my mixing one can of evaporated milk and one can of sweetened condensed milk.  To make the iced coffee drink, start with a cup of ice.  Pour half of the cup full of coffee base and half full of sweet cream.  You can add syrups if you like.  I like to drink mine with a straw… because I like straws. 🙂

Anyhow, my point is that love is in the little things like paying attention to the details of a person, knowing the things they like, remembering their birthday, or being causally gracious when they stop by your house unannounced.  You don’t need to be fancy to show someone they are loved and accepted.  Nothing makes me happier than to see my kitchen full of teenagers or University students munching on handfuls of popcorn and enjoying a homemade iced coffee drink.  Love is in the details.

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Food should be a Love Language


Many years ago someone wrote a book about the 5 Love Languages and how to “speak” each other’s language.  It was a fine book, but they failed to mention my favorite Love Language… FOOD!  Ever since I was a young girl, I have baked and cooked for the people I love.  I learned to bake banana bread for my family in 4th grade.  In college, I would go home to do laundry during Sunday afternoons.  While my laundry was running, I would make cookies or Rice Krispy bars for my friends back at school.  In our Youth Ministry days, I told our teens that they could stop by our house any time and I would make them a snack.  Several made it a habit to stop by after school for a cookie or popcorn.  And on their birthdays, I would make my youth group girls a special batch of my famous strawberry lemonade, frozen in a zip lock with a bow on it.  These are ways I showed love.

This last weekend we had our first “Leaders Retreat” at our house.  We are in University ministry, and this last year we launched our first 4 groups on 4 campuses with 8 more in the works for 2013.  So now that we have leaders, we need to train them.  My husband did two days worth of teaching, training, and planning with our students.  I made all the meals for them.  I literally started prepping 3 days before the event.  I made the base for a cold press coffee cooler drink that the students love.  It takes 24 hours to brew.  I made the menu and sent my husband to the store while I taught school during the day.  Then when our car broke down, I walked to the store myself for the last few ingredients that needed to be purchased fresh.

In addition to preparing meals from scratch and washing dishes about 10 times a day, I taught a cookie baking workshop in my kitchen.  I told them, “Food makes friends- especially hungry University students.”  I have never seen a college kid turn down a home made cookie.  I send them with my husband to his teaching seminars all around the country and they make him very popular.  I send them as gifts to students when I hear that it’s their birthday.  Now our students could invite others to their groups by passing out cookies and a flyer. Cookies open doors and iced coffee opens hearts.  Food should definitely be considered a love language.

Tired of Food


I was sitting at a cafe table in front of an ice cream shop within walking distance from our house.  It was a lovely summer evening with the long, late rays of sun painting the world golden.  I was licking away at the drips sliding down the cone of my lemon sorbet and thinking of how refreshing this was, how delightfully tangy.  But suddenly I stopped in mid lick and decided I had had enough.

My friend asked me, “Are you full already?”

I paused, thought, and responded, “No, I’m just tired of that flavor.”  My taste buds were bored already.

When I said it, I realized what a privileged and extravagant attitude that was.  I’m bored with this food.  This food no longer entertains my mouth.

Here in Costa Rica people eat rice and beans almost every day.  They joke that if you want some variety to your rice and beans, you can have beans and rice.  And if you’re really wild and crazy, you can mix the rice and beans!  I can’t imagine eating that way, eating the same foods day in and day out.  We have 4 different kinds of cereal in our cabinet because no one likes to eat the same cereal every morning!  Imagine eating something as bland as rice and beans for your whole life!

We have hosted 8 teams this summer and one of the hardest things about the logistics of team hosting is feeding them 3 times a day.  Americans don’t like to eat the same thing every day.  And Americans don’t want to repeat the same TYPE of food too many times in the week either.  We get bored with the same food all the time.  

So every day Josh and I have to think about our schedule with the team.  We think about where we are going to be when a meal time comes around.  What restaurants are around that can feed so many people at once?  What restaurants are within their budget and WHAT HAVEN’T THEY EATEN YET?  Seriously, Americans will complain if the food is repetitive.

Many years ago we took a team of our youth kids on a missions trip to Utah, traveling by car and vans.  To save money, we planned sandwiches and basic home-made lunches that we could make on the side of the road.  No joke, TEN YEARS LATER those kids still remind us of how sick and tired they were of eating sandwiches every day for lunch!!!  No one remembers any of the ministry we did, any of the sites we saw in Yellowstone National Park, or anyone who gave their life to Jesus… but they all remember the crappy lunches we ate.

We get bored with our food.  Imagine that.  The entertainment value of our food determines the quantity of food we consume while half the world goes to bed hungry every night.  That’s just not right.  And I am as guilty as you are.  When I decided I was done with my lemon sorbet, I really did look around to see if there were any starving Chinese kids standing around who I could give it to.  But there were none, so I threw it away.

But I thought about how many Moms scold their family’s wastefulness with the line, “Eat your food, there are starving children in China who would love to have what you have!”  If I ever figure out how to send ice cream to China, I’ll let you know.  But in the meantime, we should all think more about why we put food into our mouths and what is our attitude towards our food.  Are we genuinely thankful for not just our Daily Bread which Father God provides, but for the abundance of food we have access to, or are we picky and only seeking to entertain our taste buds.

Proverbs 30:8 “… Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”  Is that truly our attitude and prayer?

Idolizing America


We spent our first year out of America in 2006 when we went to language school in Costa Rica.  We were thrust from the womb of our dear country and culture into a harsh new reality of Spanish with a side of beans and rice.  Among the women at language school that year we developed certain coping mechanisms unique to women.  One form of self soothing was to talk about recipes.  We talked about what worked here and what didn’t work here and why it didn’t work here.  We shopped together and swapped tips for which new products were a decent substitute for Campbell’s condensed soups and Lipton flavor packets.  When someone discovered that another store carried an American product we descended en mass and cleared out the shelf like a plague of locusts.  Food became a way to cope with too much change in our lives.

We obsessed about food so much that I started feeling like we were on the TV show Survivor.  I really started feeling deprived.  We didn’t have any American TV in the first apartment that we lived in, so we didn’t see American commercials much.  But after about 8 months we moved into a home owned by Americans who were out of the country for several months and needed someone to care for the house.  They had satellite TV.  For the first time in 8 months I saw a commercial for Olive Garden and I nearly cried!  We all groaned with despair whenever we saw a commercial featuring hamburgers or steak.  We missed America so much… with our stomaches.  Each of us had a list of places that we wanted to eat at when we returned home for Christmas.

I was craving red meat.  Josh was desperate for Chipotle.  The kids wanted Olive Garden and Krispy Kreme Donuts.  And we all wanted Starbucks.  But after inhaling our first meal back in America, we all sat there with horrible stomach aches.  Too much, too fast.  American food suddenly felt greasy and heavy.

More disappointment awaited me on the corner at Starbucks.  I took my first sip and  the only thing I could taste was the paper cup!  I was shocked and sad.  Did I always taste the cup before but never noticed it?  That cardboard flavor just ruined the whole experience for me.  All the things that we had spent the last year obsessing about, talking about, dreaming about, longing for one by one fell off their pedestals.  It turns out that our IDEAS about America were more delicious than reality.  We had spent the last year Idolizing America, and when we finally got home our fantasies deflated and anticipations fell flat.  It was a rude reality check.

They say the grass always looks greener from the other side, but it’s also true that hamburgers look amazing from 3,000 miles away.  It’s so easy to imbrue our memories with the essence of our longings and thus plump them up way beyond what is true and natural.  It takes an effort to keep our expectations in check with reality.  For me, the best way to do that is to remind myself not to idolize America, but to look around me and be thankful for where I am right here and now.  Living in the moment is better than being disappointed in the future.