According to parental folklore, as a kid, I ate like a bird. You would never know it now. Ever since my own "babies" arrived on the scene, I've eaten like a trucker just home from the road. Perhaps this is because I burn a lot of calories keeping up with my lively brood; or maybe food helps me cope with the rigors of family life. Maybe I just really love food. Look, I married a guy who can really hold his own in the kitchen, and it would be an insult not to fully enjoy his labors!

So much of my time revolves around feeding my family their three squares (OK; sometimes ketchup suffices for a vegetable. I admit it). I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. Fun stuff ... loading the dishwasher, wiping counters and formulating how to substitute that one pesky ingredient I forgot to buy when three kids were talking at once. But when the chains of my domestic servitude wear me down, I remember all this busyness is proof of our abundance. And I am humbled.

Having plenty, though, has its drawbacks. Food tricks me into feeling satisfied even when I'm not. I reach for snacks when I feel stressed. I dig through the chocolate chip bag when I feel lonely, tired or grouchy. I've been known to offer treats to my children for rewards and even sometimes to pacify. And when I'm really in need of internal healing, warmth or solace, well, you know what does the trick: Bread. The warmer, the more drenched with cheese or butter, the better.

Who doesn't love bread? I couldn't imagine life without it. It's the perfect food in all its variations and possibilities. When I get to ditch kitchen duty and eat out at a restaurant with real menus, my favorite part by far is tearing into the warm, crusty, perfectly baked bread whisked to my table. I feel relieved in no time; bread never fails to satisfy. For a little while, anyway. A few hours later, I'll just have to fend off more cravings.

I know the real path to satisfaction has less to do with crusty brushcetta and more to do with making Jesus - my savior, friend and wonderful counselor - the centerpiece of my life. When I practice an intentional walk with Him, my focus shifts. I pay less attention to the constant need to feed my emotional hunger and physical cues. With Jesus in my back pocket, I am loved. I am cherished. I am valued; and I am full.

The words from John 6:35 resonate when I and contemplate my real hunger. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Shouldn't I turn to Him when I am in distress, instead of reaching for chips and salsa? When I do, I think less about my own problems and more about those His priorities, such as helping to feed the people in the world who never get to eat bread, or who haven't heard the good news of the bread of life.

I have no illusions that my appreciation of food will wane much. And I look forward to a Thanksgiving table full of delicious fare, the joyful noise of children and a chorus of prayers for the blessings of abundance. But when I dig into the bounty, I'll think about putting it in the rightful order. Even warm, homemade, buttery biscuits have got nothing over the real deal.

Diane Meehl and her family live in Ahwatukee Foothills. They worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church and wish your family a blessed Thanksgiving!


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