I believe deeply in the healing power of soup.
Whether you have a broken arm or a broken heart, homemade soup can start to bring you wholeness and healing in every step of its process — chopping ingredients, simmering them on the stove, tasting and adjusting the recipe, and then, finally, sharing the soup with someone you love.
Whether it’s because of the flu, deaths in our extended family, or work deadlines, my friend and neighbor Susy has shown up at my doorstep with soup more times than I can count. Susy’s love language is a pot of something hot and delicious: sometimes baked bean, sometimes chicken noodle. Always nutritious and healing.
But this time, it was my turn to show up.
As the crow flies, we live about five minutes from Susy, but to drive to her house it takes about forty minutes. Recently, our area has been through the ringer. Like us, Susy’s family went through the 100-year storm that happened up here in the Sierra mountains, dumping multiple feet of snow on our homes and causing a ten-day power outage.
We were lucky enough to be rescued by our firefighter neighbor, who had much better equipment than we did. After that, we dug snowboards out of our barn and sledded our five chickens to the truck to go stay with my mom.
Right after the storm, both our household and Susy’s came down with COVID. But Susy — not one to be outdone — was walking down the stairs one day, stumbled, and heard a pop. She had broken an ankle.
Today, even though it has been a hard couple of weeks with the storms and recovering from COVID, I am the person currently in possession of two intact ankles. So I will pull out my trusty red soup pot, start browning some ground turkey, gather the rest of my ingredients, and make a chili that will not only feed my family, but also Susy’s and our next-door neighbor Patrick, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. That’s the good thing about a soup — add some broth and it can stretch to feed more people.
I wish I could do more for Susy. If I could, I’d take some of her work pressures off or help her heal more quickly.
I wish we could do more for Patrick, who has helped us move appliances, dig our guests out of mud pits, and has mentored us as we’ve learned about mountain life.
I wish we could do more for our firefighter neighbor Paul, who dug us out of the snow and protected our house during a fire last summer.
But today, all I have is soup.
For years, I have been the person who has had grand intentions. I can come up with great ideas to help my hurting friend, like organizing a fundraiser or starting a meal train so they can be fed for weeks. I want to be that person who’ll do whatever they need, whenever they need it.
But more times than I’d like to remember, my grand plans turned into good intentions that never saw reality.
Sometimes, when life is at its hardest, we can’t manage a grandiose gesture. But most of the time, we can all bring soup.
Of course, your soup may look different than mine.
For some, like my husband, it’s fixing a computer for our friend who isn’t tech savvy.
Our neighbor Paul? His soup is showing up with a plow to rescue some stranded neighbors.
In James 2:15-17, we are not asked to take on all of another’s burden but to meet the needs we see in front of us. James asks us to make a humble offering:
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
We all have something we can give that will not necessarily fix someone else’s life situation but will still yield valuable results.
When we show up with our offering, we say, “I’m with you.” Meeting someone’s physical need touches on a spiritual need and shows our care for them in the here and now.
Also, generosity is contagious. Susy’s example has led to my own “mountain ministry.” I can’t get a fallen tree off your house or dig you out of the snow, but I can make you a hot meal.
When we present a humble offering, we give something practical and immediate. It doesn’t take a committee or a lot of planning. It’s just a simple gesture that goes a long way to bless someone and ease their struggle.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, An Abundant Place by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory is a daily retreat for women who can’t get away. Get your copy today!
Ruth Mills says
When the mixing bowl, cookie sheet or cake pan are in our drainer my husband asks ” Who are we spoiling now?” Usually it’s a friend in need or an event at church in need of baked goods. It’s my love language to others. Fairly recently I realized I need my answer to my husband’s question to be “just us”. While we don’t need the sugar & extra calories we do need the physical kindness to remind us of God’s spoiling us all the time! That in turn energizes us to pass it to others.
Kathi Lipp says
I love this – yes – sometimes the one who needs to be served is the one in our own home!
Thanks for the reminder that it is better to DO something, even if it is small, than to just think about the great things that we never seem to get done. May we all look for someone today that we can share some “soup” with, either literally or by blessing them with words or actions. Thank you for this good word!
Kathi Lipp says
Yes – simple action is better than elaborate non-action!
Excellent! I have some family members who could be warmed by a pot of love soup right now.
Kathi Lipp says
I love that someone immediately came to mind!
Beth Williams says
Food has always been my go to in helping others. Years ago a friend & I were both dealing with aging parents. While my dad was in rehab I learned she had both dad & step dad in hospital & at same time a neighbor lost her son. We were going to KFC & I decided to get food for my friend & her hubby–as well as my neighbor. Back in 2017 both my in-laws were put in hospital on same day. After that I decided to cook for them more. Each month our church would assist in “Feed the Multitude”-feed homeless or less fortunate. I would get an extra casserole, fruit & a few desserts to take to them. I also took some to my neighbor as she was not doing well either. I also started cooking meals as a birthday gift for MIL. My way of saying I love you don’t bother cooking-do what you have to.
Three years ago my pastor’s wife was moving her mom down here. I quickly made a chicken pot pie & cranberry orange bread for them to enjoy. Trying to ease the burden while moving furniture around & traveling 5 hrs. one way to get mom.
It’s my way of showing God’s love to others.
Kathi Lipp says
Beth, I love this. Such a tangible way to say I am with you!
This is great, Kathi! A reminder to reach out and help our neighbors.
Kathi Lipp says
Irene – thanks so much!
Thank You for these Beloved
Words ! We lost our Precious
Dog suddenly on last Friday.
Actually it is our daughters dog
And she got her 11 years ago
At a stray rescue. She lost her
Husband 15 yrs ago & her twin
Girls 20 yrs ago.
I’m thankful for all of you who are helping others as we go through life!
Ruth Mills says
Oh precious geriatric puppy. Celebrating the joy he brought your family and feeling your pain! Sending ((((hugs)))) since soup would totally mess up the key board!
Deanna Day Young says
I love this! My love language is definitely giving and doing for others. I, too, have been guilty of thinking I can’t do something though because I can’t do it GRAND. February 17 is Random Act of Kindness Day and that week is RAK week. This devotion is so timely. I am going to take your lead and prepare soup and take to a friend. It is so true that meeting a physical need opens the door for spiritual needs. Thank you for this wonderful writing and encouragement.
Kat Leon says
I love making and sharing soup! My Dad loved soup and made a great corn chowder. I always joke that I have “the soup gene”.
I like how you pointed out that others might have a different type of “soup” to share. I had a neighbor that offered to fix our sprinklers after our son was killed and it was 107 out. So much going on but he stepped up. This was the greatest gift at such a
difficult time. After my husband passed away he asked for my to do list and did yard work or house repairs. His “soup” was much
Jeannette Oliver says
Thank you, I sometimes feel
Like just soup/meal is not enough so I do something bigger at the expense of time with family. I am blessed by your thoughtfulness in interpreting the Word more completely.