When I think of endurance, I don’t think about marathons or Olympic podiums or even the work of childbirth. I think of a woman making meatloaf. Flashy, I know.

Every week, an email slips into my inbox. Sometimes once, sometimes twice or three times, with almost the same subject line each time: Meals for the Lee Family. Meals for the Cooper Family. Meals for the Cruz family. I have 6,055 unread emails, but I rarely miss one of these. These emails are our church’s way of ensuring that families walking through difficult days don’t have to worry about dinner a few nights a week. Two faithful women hear all the needs and send out the call, and a large group of volunteers click a link to add their name and record the meal they’ll deliver.

While I can only manage to add a meal here and there, I can’t help clicking the links, even when I know I can’t contribute anything that week. It’s this tiny window into a hidden world, where each year hundreds of pairs of hands are quietly making meatloaves and lasagnas and chicken soup, delivering them to strangers or old friends alike. It gives me so much hope to click that link and see those names, each showing up with their chicken and potatoes again and again.

There’s an endurance to this kind of service, to doing the simple thing in love, to so many hands working together to carry each other in the midst of life’s hardest moments.

It isn’t a glorious kind of work, and most do it without documenting it in blogposts or taking Instagram evidence. There are a few who make meals week after week. There’s a group of friends who gathered one weekend to fill a freezer with extra meals. There are people like me who are lucky to make a few meals each year. But somehow, in this quiet, behind the scenes ministry, there’s always enough.

That’s not to say all our hospitality has to be hush-hush. Sometimes hospitality is on display for all the world to see. Grand gestures can inspire, elevate and make space at the table. And there is a place for that kind of living color service. In the seen places, we can speak truth and magnify the voices that stand in the margin. We can cry out for justice and speak the mercy we ourselves have received to our neighbors and this hurting world. Some of us are called to those out-loud, up-front places.

For a long time, though, these were the only places I valued hospitality. But I’m learning – from countless meatloaf-makers who show up in the unseen places, there’s an invitation for each of us in the quiet places, too. There is a kind of endurance to rallying together, to putting one foot in front of the other to meet the simple needs of those around us. We can lament and sit vigil when no words will suffice. We can love with prayers for the heart that’s grown too callused to hope. We can call the friend who has grown too weary to reach out. We can show up with a meal.

Maybe, in the long run, it matters less whether it’s from the mountaintop on brilliant display, or in the middle of the night on your knees. Maybe it matters most that we serve with sincerity, that we endure together, whether we’re making the meatloaf or receiving it.

I’d love to hear, what’s your go-to meal to bring another family, or one you’ve loved receiving? Are there ways that serving together has produced endurance in your life? Have you been on the receiving end of that steady, un-flashy love?

 

Photo by Taylor Kiser on Unsplash
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Annie Barnett / Posts / Blog
Annie Barnett is an artist and child at heart who loves discovering beauty in ordinary places. When she's not making art, Annie can be found mothering three wildly fun little girls alongside her husband Ted; or perhaps writing; or experimenting with blueberries and goat cheese in the kitchen, preferably with friends gathered around. She writes sporadically at annieathome.com and shares her art at besmallstudios.com.
  • Jerralea
    http://jerralea.blogspot.com

    Recently, a lady in our church had shoulder surgery. I knew her husband was well able to cook and also they could certainly afford to eat take out every day for weeks. Yet I felt a prompting to make them our favorite salsa-zucchini-chicken soup as a gesture of love, care and concern.

    Frankly, I didn’t want to do it. I was so tired from various activities going on in my life. Couldn’t someone else do it? Yet our church is so small, I was afraid no one else would. I didn’t want them to feel left out, so I did it. She has thanked me over and over for it.

    So, I don’t know if I had the right attitude about it. I pray that I will do with joy what the Lord leads me to do the next time, because the truth is, needing to take meals to people will always come at an inconvenient time, when I’m tired, or when the pantry stock is low.

    February 20th, 2018 10:27
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    • Annie Barnett
      http://besmallstudios.com

      Sometimes it’s a struggle to hold onto joy. That soup sounds amazing, though. Thanks for sharing here, Jerralea.

      February 20th, 2018 23:55
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  • Stephanie Rawlins

    I like to share Penne With Five Cheeses or Indonesian Ginger Chicken, both recipes by the Barefoot Contessa. They are easy to double and prepare ahead of time, and of course, delicious!

    February 20th, 2018 18:17
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    • Annie Barnett
      http://besmallstudios.com

      I am looking up these recipes right now. They sound amazing! Thanks, Stephanie.

      February 20th, 2018 23:39
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  • Mauri King
    http://www.theamericanpatriette.com

    Wow, this article was so beautiful! I love hospitality of all types – ALL types. The kind that is spontaneous (I’m trying to get better at this one), the kind that is highly anticipated and well-planned, and the kind that is simply but assuredly meeting some deep day-to-day needs. Those ladies making meatloaves and lasagna are feeding bellies and feeding souls. I love meal ministry. It just makes my heart flutter! – Mauri @www.theamericanpatriette.com

    February 20th, 2018 20:31
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    • Annie Barnett
      http://besmallstudios.com

      Thanks so much. So glad you’re here, Mauri!

      February 20th, 2018 23:35
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  • Dea

    I like to buy those prepared basting sauces from the kitchen store when they are on sale and have them in the pantry for when I need to make something for someone else. The chicken artichoke one is a favorite, I usually add extra canned artichokes that I keep in there as well and a bit of chopped fresh carrots and onions because I always have those. Chicken thighs are my choice of meat. Cooked rice and broccoli as sides. Easy peasy.

    February 22nd, 2018 9:00
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  • Arpakshaad

    Thanks Di, how did you go?

    February 23rd, 2018 18:24
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  • Christy

    Not totally responsive to the question, but I like to keep on hand the disposable 9×13 tinfoil trays with lids (I buy in bulk when they’re on sale – 20 at a time) and make a casserole with whatever I have on hand (fresh, frozen or canned). The disposable containers make it easier to say yes, I can write the date and re-heating directions (and a note or prayer) right on the lid, and the recipient can throw it in the recycling bin instead of washing it.

    February 26th, 2018 12:16
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