Showing Love, One Homemade Dish at a Time

He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. 
Psalm 136:25

My family has a rich history of making homemade entrees (fresh from the freezer veggies) and desserts baked from scratch to grace the table for the Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving, indeed, feels like a feast. 

But then again, a great deal of the meals in my life resembled feasts.

Cooking is my family’s way of showing love. It’s part of our love language: an act of service and a way to make family feel welcome.

I grew up watching family members show love to others through time spent in the kitchen.

With two grandmothers living a stone’s throw across the yard from our old farmhouse, each in a mobile home of their own, we kids were treated to a variety of Thanksgiving-like, homestyle cuisine quite regularly.

My mom, too, was a wonderful cook, though she operated on a shoestring budget to make ends meet with my daddy’s truck driving paycheck—then used car salesman’s commission—then farm-rental pennies.

For usual meals, Mama often served a roast with brown gravy, surrounded by whole onions, carrots, and potatoes, and Daddy wanted rice with practically every meal, and a vegetable and fresh bread rounded out the offerings. Everyone enjoyed the homemade pound cake with whipped cream that always came last. 

But it was at Thanksgiving every year that my mom and grandmothers prepared a buffet of seasonal offerings.

And because my husband and I grew up and attended college in the same hometown, he, too, fell in love with their cooking – perhaps even before he fell in love with me!!

In spite of the loving meals prepared by my family matriarchs, I didn’t know much about cooking when we first married – I’d had three personal chefs, practically, and worked long hours to put myself through college while living at home, so I hadn’t learned that skill like I probably should have. 

I made up for it once we married, and I adored trying new recipes for my now-military husband. Once I became a stay-at-home mom and left teaching behind, I loved preparing homemade baby food and then cooking for my four kids too. 

At some point, I realized that cooking for my family had become my way of showing love to them, my love language as expressed to my husband and kids. The same language as my mother and grandmothers.


As the kids grew older and became more involved in sports and church activities, I volunteered often to provide snacks and goodies for various occasions.

I would make friendship bread to share with Sunday School teachers, my husband’s workmates, grieving families, celebrating families, college professors, and a few strangers for various reasons. My kids’ friends even had their favorites—and never hesitated to tell me just what they wanted for the tailgate party or discipleship weekend or potluck dinner.

My oldest son suggested that I lead a cooking Bible study on Friday afternoons to get some of the teen girls interested in God’s word. Taste and see that the Lord is good became our mantra, and a poppy-seed casserole became our go-to meal. 

It was such a favorite that I prepared it almost every time I traveled to writing conferences since it could be prepared ahead of time, with instructions to add the crushed crackers last, sprinkle a tablespoon of poppy seed on next, drizzle with butter, and bake until browned. It was my way to take care of my kids, even in my absence. 

Then, when my son Jeb Daniel, the last of the offspring to leave the nest, finished his degree and became gainfully employed and picked out an apartment that would be near his work, he asked one evening at dinner,

“Mom, could you teach me how to cook some of your recipes before I move out? Especially the poppy seed chicken casserole.”

“Sure,” I said though what I thought was, But if I teach you how to make your favorite dish, then you won’t need me to make it for you. 

But then he continued: “I want to have at least one recipe I know that I can make whenever you and Daddy come see me in my new apartment. Oh, and those chocolate chip cookies with the frosting. I want to learn how to make those so I can take some in to work one day soon.”

My heart warmed, and my eyes moistened. I guess that love language has trickled down to another generation. 


What about you? Do you share the same love language as a parent or grandparent? Is that a precious memory for you? Do you see similar love languages in your children? 

4 thoughts on “Showing Love, One Homemade Dish at a Time

  1. Never once considered that things I do like my parents, grandparents, and generations before them was a “love language”, but I guess it is. Sometimes that love is extended to those outside the family too. Things like helping others, giving when a need arises, and mentoring come to mind. What a wonderful lesson you’ve shared with me today Ms. Julie. Lots to think about; including poppy seed chicken casserole. 🙂

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  2. Julie, I loved reading the history of your family’s love language. I can only imagine how your son’s request warmed your heart. Serving food is such a wonderful way to bless others. My mom excelled at encouraging others with words and acts of kindness. I enjoy the same and delight to see the way our daughter encourages her friends and patients. All God’s blessings!

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    1. Thank you for the comment, J.D.! I’m fascinated by folks’ love languages, and I definitely agree with you that the love language can be communicated with those outside the family! (I’m up late as we speak, working on that “love language” for my Thanksgiving gathering of treasured family members! haha) I pray you have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!

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    2. Isn’t that so cool, Jeannie, to watch our sweet children display some of those same love languages? I have been the beneficiary of YOUR encouraging words and acts of kindness, so, for that, I’m grateful your mom shared that love language with you, and I just know your sweet daughter must excel at this form of “communication” as well, because I’m certain you taught her well with your actions! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

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