A Farewell Dinner Party

Honest moment: I have written and deleted this post no less than 12 times in the past few weeks.

My writing style has always been to the point, a little sarcastic and at times even irreverent, and I always play off of the food images. But this essay is not going to have a recipe nor will it have a string of process shots showing you how to pull off the perfect poached egg or how to truss a turkey…

I want to talk to you for a few minutes about how to love on people. All of us have this one little life that we have the opportunity to make into this one BIG life. Want to know the secret to move from a little life to a big life? Listen up, people, because I am about to get all wise and philosophical on you.

{Find your people and then lavishly love on them without agenda}

That’s big time right there. Why someone hasn’t offered me a book deal yet I don’t even know.

You can have the most successful career, the hottest arm-candy of a woman/man, rock star kids who excel at everything and the biggest house on the block but all of that without meaningful relationships is empty and worth very little in the end.

A few years ago I found myself in the midst of the biggest storm of my life. My marriage of 13 years was ending, I quit my 15 year job as the worship pastor of my home church and found myself living as a single mom of two babes and starting over.

Starting everything over.

Many {NOT all} people in the church have good intentions but struggle to show love in the midst of religion. They don’t know what to do with the broken and the hurting without making them feel MORE broken and MORE hurt. It’s a sad cycle that I was a part of perpetuating for too long and I suddenly found myself on the wrong end of that stick.

In those moments I had a choice to make. I could cower or I could keep my head up. I like to think that most of the time I successfully chose the latter.

The value of the cross is not negated because the person sitting in the pew next to you doesn’t smell their own mess. I think this is where we get it wrong a lot of times. Some people act like ignorant children and so we put EVERYONE into the ignorant child pile. (don’t be like that)

What does this have to do with TJ and Libby? I’m glad you asked.

In the midst of that craziness, these two made their way into my life. And they didn’t just casually hang around the fringes… they busted right through and got all up in my mess. They didn’t allow me to close off and become a divorced hermit who only loved her dogs and knitted quietly at night while watching re-runs of Little House On The Prairie.

What I’m realizing now, as I’ve had the chance to look back and process the last five years, is that while TJ and Libby loved on me with the most genuine and honest affection I had ever felt, apart from my family, they also allowed me to love on them in the few ways that I could during that time.


I needed to feed people. I needed to be able to show love in ways that made sense to me. My knives and cast iron pans were almost as good as my therapist’s couch and I was lucky enough to have friends that didn’t mind being fed so that I could recover. They may not have even known that was happening in my heart but my guess is that they probably did.

I think I opened my doors at LEAST every other Sunday night for months and months. The first gathering had maybe 15 people and the largest had around 50 in my tiny little house. Food was flying out of my kitchen. People were sitting around my piano or on the floor with a guitar. People brought their pups and things were chaotic and perfect.

Feeding people was how I could love and how I could forget and how I could stay connected when I so desperately felt alone. I discovered that investing in other people in whatever way I could allowed me to heal more quickly and thoroughly than if I secluded myself hoping that people would come to ME. {and they did come… but it’s such a reciprocal thing, you know? I don’t think they would have/could have come if I didn’t do the work to keep the damn door to my heart open}

Quite a few months ago, TJ told me over coffee that he and Libby were moving to England for Libby’s job. I didn’t like that one little bit. I may have stomped my little feet and sighed REAL LOUD. And then I put my grown-ass Wonder Woman Underoos on and dealt with the reality that they would be leaving us.

So, when Danny and Leslie Ott asked me to cater a going away dinner party at their waterfront home for TJ and Libby I thought about it for about .2 seconds before almost screaming “YES” to their request. Maybe cooking for them for one last food night would help heal the gaping hole that they were going to leave in my heart with their departure. {Maybe cooking in their fabulous kitchen with that fabulous view would help life to just generally be more fabulous} At any rate, this was my farewell feeding until they return to us in a few years and I could not pass up the opportunity.

TJ chose the menu and made the guest list. They have the most eclectic and fantastic group of friends and so I knew it was going to be a fun night. I told him I would make anything his heart desired and he chose a Street Taco Bar theme. Because: TACOS. 15 hour low and slow Pulled Pork Butt + Grilled Ancho Chili Chicken Thighs + Roasted Tomatillo Guac {DUH} + Mexican Street Corn + Spicy Slaw + Slow Cooked Black Beans and anything+everything your little heart could desire to build the best damn taco ever. Oh… and grilled peaches with vanilla gelato + salted bourbon caramel + chopped/toasted walnuts for dessert. PERFECT

Here are a few of my favorite images from the night. {captured by Matthew Ray}

The bottom line? INVEST IN PEOPLE. Even when nothing makes sense and everything hurts. Invest in relationships even when relationships have brought the most pain in your life… because if you shut yourself off and allow relationship failures to do you in then what’s the point? Just buy a moomoo and park yourself on the Barcalounger until the skin on your butt fuses with the fabric.

LOVES…  find your people and then give it all to them. You’ll know what “it” is when you need to. “It” may not be food like it was and still IS in my case… the point is that you don’t hold back. Never ever hold back from the ones who are trying desperately to love you. Your ability to heal and thrive hinges on your ability to keep love flowing into and out of your heart.

So today… not tomorrow or next week… find a way to love on someone who may be feeling completely UN-lovable. And sometimes loving on someone means allowing them to invest in you. I’m aware that sounds absolutely backwards but trust me… it works.

Life is sowing and reaping.

A healed life is finding a balance between the two.

I sure do love you all! (especially YOU!)


0 thoughts on “A Farewell Dinner Party

  1. Kristin Pflughoeft says:

    I adore this Abs. You speak to my heart and tummy all at the same time. There’s power in your words and glorious perfection in your food. I love you and your journey. ❤️

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