Recipes and traditions don’t have to be complicated, extravagant or perfectly planned. Many times our traditions happen unexpectedly usually when things don’t go quite as planned. These two things bring us together even when there’s many miles apart from our loved ones. They remind us of precious memories of days past. They connect us to loved ones that are no longer with us.

They are things that celebrate our heritage and culture. They bring us together around the table often opening the door for much needed conversations. Sometimes they are things that allowed us to feel included or apart of something for the first time in a long time.

They are things that tie new branches and extensions into one family and honor how it all became intertwined.

It can be simple things we think no one notices, but we find out later were actually the most meaningful. Whether it be to our children or friends that we welcomed into our home.

For me when I smell banana bread I think of Dad’s mother. My grandma Loretta was notorious for her banana bread and cakes. Something to this very day my aunt Cheryl still makes and brings over. It tickles me to see my own daughter bite into it raving at how yummy it is, knowing she’s experiencing a little bit of the great grandmother she never met. My grandma Loretta went to Bible college back in 1945 as the first of her family. She spent many years as a single mom parenting five kids and working two jobs. Her faith carried her through heartbreaking times while creating a home her children still remember.

Every time I walk into my mother’s kitchen and smell my grandpa’s spaghetti it makes me thankful for the very brief time I had with him. It makes stand in awe of my mom and everything she has come through. But I also love how that simple recipe connects her to her father that she dearly misses. My mom has always had a knack of making people feel like they matter. She doesn’t even realize it, but she is such a champion of grace. Her home is a safe space for the hurting, those who feel like they are less then worthy. She is the first one to say your past isn’t who you are.

It’s in the dishes we make every holiday and through the year that makes me miss my Aunt Cindy. Things like her red bell pepper dip or her famous pasta salad. She was sassy, sarcastic, and an amazing cook. If you went over to her house their was always coffee and something delicious cooking. Everyone always congregated in her kitchen.

Her daughter Katie who is my daughter’s godmother still makes so many of her recipes. That connects her, her father and siblings to the woman they truly miss. My aunt’s recipes always bring up laughter when it came to my mom. No matter how many times she would give my mom (her older sister) a recipe my mother would substitute something that would usually lead it to not tasting anything like my aunts. Leading to my aunt asking my mom of what she changed this time around.

When I look at my moms wedding pictures and see her wedding cake I often think of the woman who stepped in to be her foster mother. She stepped into a role that my mom very much needed in her life. Brook poured into my mom and the people around her. Today we still make many of Brook’s recipes and honor the legacy she left behind. Brook had many sweet souls come into her home for a short time through foster care. Her and her husband created a safe space for many to call home till they could reconnect to their families.

It’s in dishes like cucumber dressing that I think of a woman I never had the chance to meet but had a huge impact on not only my mom but her father. My mom’s Grandma Sadie was her foster grandma (Brook’s mom). She had the most loving disposition. She wanted people to leave better then how they arrived.

Many memories my mom shared of her is of food and her love of Jesus and it truly showed in how she cared for people. At one point she allowed my mom’s father to rent her house, which was just down the road from where my mom’s foster parents lived so the kids could easily see their dad. She eventually led my Grandpa Ken to the Lord. She chose to not see him as a broken man who struggled with alcoholism but as someone who was hurting.

My mom and daughter inspired this project.
They are two souls who have the privilege of being intertwined in two different ways. My mom and daughter Beatrix always savor the small things. They find joy in it and look forward to those things with excitement. Not because of anything other then how it brings us all together. They are two souls who I’m forever grateful to call mine.

As I prayed about the next chapter of Bringer of Joy, Recipes and Traditions took on a life of its own. It was a natural extension of this brand. It’s opening a space to share about things that are meaningful to us, the people we love and honoring our families however they came to be. I hope this inspires you to know that it’s not about money or perfectionism, it’s about the love, the atmosphere of grace, and savoring the time with those around us.

It’s the conversations around the table. It’s honoring our heritage and sharing it with those around us. I hope this also inspires you that whether it’s your family or souls who come through your front door for a short time. That you are inspired to love well, leave them with hope and have them leave better then when they arrived.

We are so grateful to so many sweet friends and family who you will get to hear from about their recipes, traditions and families as we launch this new chapter.

In the words of my husbands heritage, Salute and Manja!

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”

Hebrews 13:2