The clinking of coffee cups and the amalgamation of female voices echoes melodically off the kitchen walls; I’ve been awakened too early for my liking, but I don’t mind…especially when my wits are gathered and I realize that the voices I hear belong to my mother, my grandmother and my four aunts.
These are some of my favorite sounds. I lie in bed and smile to myself. It’s always like this. Every time these women are under one roof, they involuntarily gravitate to the kitchen. It’s the command center of my grandmother’s home. Here, love is expressed, tears are cried, dreams are dreamed, and boo boos are doctored.
As a child, I was certain that Mimmaw’s cake plate held an endless supply of delicious baked goods, like her pumpkin roll, as I can’t recall a time when it was ever empty. (The fruit bowl next to it always offered a healthier alternative.) These precious women instilled in me the value of gathering in the kitchen for food, fellowship and the caring of family.
Of course they were great examples of caring for others through hospitality as well, but they taught me the importance of learning how to minister to family first. I once asked my mother what she felt were some of her biggest accomplishments in life. I was surprised to learn that through her myriad of experiences and achievements, her most prized ones revolved around her family. Even if she had failed at everything else in life, she would have been completely content with the task God had given her for her family.
The family is very important to God, as we see beginning in Genesis and all throughout His Word. Deuteronomy 6 is a great example when it reminds us of the greatest commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength and to pass this command on to our children and families. First Timothy 5:8 also speaks strongly to the task of providing for one’s family: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Through my family’s example, I have learned that caring for a household most often begins in my kitchen. It is a great place to start since the majority of conversations often take place around the kitchen table.
First Peter 4:10 says, “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” I’ve recently started pondering the question, “What if God’s main purpose for my life was for me to use the gifts and talents that He blessed me with exclusively for the family that He provided me?” …What if, instead of taking random craft or computer courses, I should take a cooking course or a home course?…What if my decorating skills should be focused on a beautiful centerpiece for our table that makes my family feel special? I know, for some, these are questions that have already been thought through, and others would mock me for the very idea.
Now, don’t get me wrong. His Word promises me in Matthew that if I’m faithful with a little then He will bless me with more — He definitely has, can, and will use what He’s given me to minister to people outside my family as well. However, what if the “more” still has to do with how I’m training up my child, respecting my husband, and loving them both for what God has in store for them, ultimately bringing glory to Him?
What if that is my primary task? I’ll admit, the very thought of not having a more “profound” purpose in life has bothered me in the past, due to my own sin of pride. However, I’ve also learned that His plan is way better than my plan and, as a married woman with a child, my primary task is to care for them first.
Another conviction I’ve dealt with is the role that the kitchen plays in completing that mission. Although modeled for me as a child, as an adult, I’ve struggled in this area. So many excuses, like time, money, and convenience, have thwarted my good intentions. I may spend several late hours preparing to bless someone else, while my family ends up with my second best. I’ve been guilty of cleaning or making a special dish only for my daughter to inquire about who it’s for. Wow…Conviction. If my own family has to ask or if it’s a shock to them when I place a specially planned meal in front of only them, then I’m definitely off-track from fulfilling my God-given task.
I want to purposefully make the kitchen a special place in our home and the table a gathering place for my family to praise God together, eat together, and dream of the future together. I want mealtime to be sacred and the table to be a reflection of God’s provision of not just the food, but of the talents that He’s given me. I want to take care of my family with the sole purpose of glorifying Him. As I learned as a child, the kitchen is a very important room in the house and I’m blessed that God saw fit to include this room in His plans for me.
Samantha Carby is working towards a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southwestern Seminary, where her husband, Paul, is pursuing an Master of Divinity. She has a precious, daughter, Cate, and loves teaching and encouraging women. She especially has a heart for broken marriages and for women who don’t recognize their identity in Christ. Besides her love for being a wife and mommy, her other passions are traveling, organizing and decorating for women’s events.