Packaged Love: Cooking through Crisis

ok. I’m still working on easy peasy food ideas to share some love with my sweet friend. Kathy is dealing with the tragic loss of her husband, so to recap I want to be able to provide some easy meals for her when she finds herself alone next week once her family has all gone home.
Kathy met her husband when she was 14 years old, he was the friend of her older brother. Since then, as I have learned about their life story it is very clear that they were soulmates. I’ve never heard her say a single negative thing about this man and I aspire to have a marriage like theirs. She speaks truth into my heart about what marriage means, the effort required to make a family whole even when her spouse is sometimes gone for long periods of time, and defines what love looks like.
Kathy has been a mentor to me as I have been spending the last few months reconfiguring my life. She inspires me to seek love every day and to really focus on how happiness impacts me and those around me. Their relationship is one of honesty, respect for one another, and hard work.
She has shared intimate details of her love story with me, in an effort to help me seek love in my own life. Simply thinking of her without her husband makes me cry and I  cannot imagine how she is dealing with the incredible loss. Packaged Love
That being said. Today, I made her chicken. I know it seems insignificant. I know it’s silly. I know that nothing can lessen her pain… but there is comfort in food. I love the thought that just a little kindness might shed some sunshine in an otherwise dark place in her life.
I found this quote online today that really spoke to me:
“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness. The angels, who know no hunger, have never been as satisfied.”
Eli Brown, Cinnamon and Gunpowder
Love through food. Lots and lots of love.

For love of country…

My favorite shot from Brittany and Kyle’s wedding. ❤

“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm”.

With Veterans Day quickly approaching it seems doubly important to recognize the immeasurable debt we have, as Americans, to our service men and women. This is obviously something that hits incredibly close to home for me, but especially so this week.

Kyle and Brittany were one of my first wedding clients. I met with Brittany and her mom in just the second full year of my business; they were seeking a photographer that was still open as they had to quickly change their wedding day due to Kyle’s impending deployment. Brittany was the second child of the family to get married, also to a military man, like her sister Sam. They knew the risks and sacrifices of marrying into the military, and yet were so proud and honored to be doing so. Brittany’s family was clearly proud of their daughter for her choices, and proud of their new son-in-law for the honorable way he was serving his nation, and taking care of their daughter. Their love for each other is clearly visible in the way in which they look at each other, and the tenderness of the vows they shared. Brit and Kyle quickly became our favorite wedding clients, and when they moved out near my home I attended their housewarming party, liking the idea that we lived closer to each other. As time went on, I was invited to take pictures at Brittany’s sister’s wedding the following year, forming close bonds with the rest of Brit & Kyle’s family.

We all know what we’re getting into when we love someone in the military. The families and loved ones of those who serve are some of the strongest people I know. Any separation from someone you love is tough, especially so when you know that they are in dangerous situations. From my experiences with my brother’s deployment, with my cousin, with Dan, its best to just pray and convince yourself that it is in God’s hands, to substitute strength for fear, and to be supportive even when you feel you can’t… But one is never prepared for the worst case scenario…

Over the weekend Kyle was involved in a harsh attack in Afghanistan. The truck he, and three other brave men were in, was hit by an IED. In the aftermath of the attack, only one of them men survived, Kyle. I know that Kyle’s survival is such an incredible blessing despite the serious injuries that he incurred and the devastating emotional toll it will take on both Kyle and his family, I know that he is blessed and loved. But my heart still aches. For Kyle’s family and the hours of waiting for news and hope, for Kyle’s wife Brittany whose strength and endurance will surely be tested, and for the families and loved ones of those boys, the ones who will never come home, I find myself on the verge of tears.

I am awestruck by the bravery of a soldier. To be willing to place their lives at risk for the safety and freedom of people they don’t even know is so noble. I’m not sure that I could do the same under the best of circumstances, and certainly not when we are not enjoying a time of peace. I am humbled by their ability to handle the inhumanity of combat and the terrors of war time countries that I cannot possibly begin to understand. Sometimes, it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the purpose of this sacrifice, especially when I think about the men in my life that are currently serving our country.

It completely blows my mind to think about my close friends and family who are currently serving. When we were kids and my cousin Ryan was a whiny little runt, I would never have thought that one day he would be hundreds of miles from home, selflessly standing up for the rights and freedoms of others. The surge of pride I feel for him is overwhelming.

As tensions rise in the Middle East, in Europe, in South America and our military personnel willingly head off to diffuse potentially dangerous situations, performing the tasks they have been trained to do to keep us safe, please remember them in your prayers. Those men and women are walking away from the people who love them and toward danger, so that you can remain close to those that you love.

As they sacrifice time with their families, put other career opportunities on hold, and forgo their personal security and comfort seeking neither fortune nor fame and receiving neither, in turn can we strive to be responsible citizens ourselves? Considering election day is tomorrow, I can think of nothing of greater importance than to be informed and responsible voters. I think about my students an how self absorbed they can be, how in tune they are with their cell phones and their facebook status and how little they know about local elections, how they refuse to stand to say the pledge…I only hope that I can be a patriotic example to them and can foster a respect for those in uniform. I hope I can demonstrate to them a heart of service, inspire in them a desire to volunteer for the greater good, give them hope for the future.

It’s hard to know what to say or how to thank someone who performs such a great service to me, to my family, to my country.  So for Kyle, I pray for healing, and that he knows the deep respect and gratitude that we, as a nation, have for him and the role he has played in our lives and security.

To the families of Kyle’s companions, Staff Sgt. Dain T. Venne, Spc. Ryan P. Jayne, and Spc. Brett E. Gornewicz, nothing will ever be sufficient to thank you for all they have done, I cannot imagine your loss.

So, every day, on election day, on veterans day, I say thank you to all the men and women whose lives are dedicated to our nation’s protection. And to “my” soldiers, I am so, so proud of you.

 God bless.

 “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” -Cynthia Ozick