About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

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  1. Growing up we had all kinds of gatherings at the local church food pantry. My folks (mother and her grandfather) did not attend church regularly but did partake in helping local families get enough food to eat, as well as other needs. The local farmers gathered every Sunday to have fun together, share a meal, recipes, and package meals for those around to either take home with them after the meal or to be taken to the ones who could not make it. In my younger days, farmers helped each other; we had a community that shared joys and trials together.

    Every year one farmer or the other had some kind of trial to face and they never faced it alone. We had a small corner café, general store, gas station the local male farmers met at nearly every morning for coffee. They shared “fish stories” and found out how their neighbor were fairing up. During the week if it was found out that a farmer was in need, the following Sunday, the families met up and worked on the solution.

    This is the sense of community I grew up with, so it is hard not to compare what I see today with this. In these gatherings on Sunday, God was not spoken of, nether was the message of salvation, but the book of Acts as lived out by helping each other and helping with the true need. Sad that this balance was so lost on me until the Lord was back in my life with fuller understanding, the gospel message and the works the Apostle Paul said was a sign of the message lived. Paul said show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works.

    May we be blessed with the fullness of this message, living it out in balance.

  2. Jen, I love this idea so much. And I’ve tried to start a group like this, but it just hasn’t worked so far. {What’s wrong with my friends? Why don’t they understand how awesome this would be?} 🙂 Their objections were that their husbands don’t like casseroles or their kids don’t like olives, onions or fish or nobody has a kitchen big enough to do this…and on and on. Do you think this kind of group works best with people in a certain life stage? Or what is it – what’s the “key” that I was missing when I tried this before? {HELP!?} 🙂

    • Let me have a little chat with your friends. 😉 I have done it with all different life stages, but maybe there’s just a little intimidation because they don’t know anyone who has done it before?? And yes, it’s tricky with picky eaters, but there are so many great meals that work for everyone. Italian, Mexican, Chili, Homemade pizzas, and for those that don’t do casseroles, we’ve done whole evenings where it’s just putting together crock pot type of meals into zip lock bags, good to dump and go on those crazy, busy days.

  3. I’m doing this with a group of friends this weekend! (The second way on your list.) This will be my first time with this group, although I’ve done something similar with other friends in the past. A couple of good ideas this group had — to make cost splitting easier, each person provides the meat for all of the meals they will be getting. Some of us like (or have) to deal/coupon-shop more than others, or use organic meats – so this gives people some flexibility. Then you provide the rest of the ingredients just for your assigned meals. The group also has a shared Pinterest board for freezer meal ideas. 🙂

  4. a few friends and I did #1 for awhile and it was heavenly. just reading about it makes me want to do it again! as always, love all of your well earned tips, jen!