If I could change one verse in the Bible (which I never would since I’m not God), it’d be in Ecclesiastes because when it comes to living in a Southern small town, some things just need to be addressed. My verse would be:
“For every season, there is a reason for a meal train.” Ecc. 3:1
Before I became a married woman (or moved to Lagrange) the concept of a meal train was completely foreign to me. When my mom got sick when I was in 6th grade, we had tons of people bring us meals (one of which was a Country Ham. Perfect for a heart patient, right? Love you long time, Hamp and Leanne!). However, I just thought people were nice.
When I moved out of my college town and into the “working world” and everyone started having babies, I realized that this idea of feeding people was a full-blown organization! People don’t just think to themselves, “Oh you know. Those Biermans have a had a rough week. Let’s bring them a delicious dinner for 14 consecutive days,” No, people aren’t that brilliant.
The first meal train I was a part of (which we discuss in detail later) was organized in Sunday school with a piece of paper and a pen. We all just signed up for what day we would bring food to the new family of four.
(Note: Meal trains are on the Pro side of the Pro/Con list for starting a family. I know someone who had to eventually tell people to STOP bringing their family meals after the birth of their baby boy.)
(That family are far better than JRB and I because I’ll be danged before I tell someone to NOT bring me food. My baby can be 2 years old, and you’re still very welcome to bring me a hot meal.)
Anyway, I tell you all of that to show the progression of the meal train in the short (almost) two years that I’ve been here. What started as a pass around in Sunday school is now a website. A WEBSITE! Hospitality has a website, and it’s called a Meal Train.
The obvious thing to love about the meal train phenomonon is how people become community and feed those in hardship. I love seeing a Sunday school class, friends, and co-workers display love to those who have experienced a loss, are moving, just had surgery or a baby, etc. It’s church in the truest form.
What I love almost equally as much is how everyone operates on these “meal train rules.” Let me explain.
Rule #1- Have a go-to meal train meal. It has to be easy enough to do in addition to whatever you’re doing for your family. The meal train is not the time to get fancy because 1.) No one has a spare 3 hours and 2.) You can’t screw up a meal to someone outside of your family. My go-to meal is Chicken Spaghetti. I bring it with a salad and dinner rolls. It’s easy to make, easy to eat, and great for leftovers. (I’m nervous to post the recipe because then you might steal my go-to meal. I’ll need to be talked into sharing.)
Rule #2- Even if you’re feeding your family Chick-Fil-A, the meal has to be prepared at home. I personally don’t agree with this rule because of the following example:
When JRB and I moved into our house, we took on a lot of home improvements at one time. It was so much that we’d work all day, come home, and work all night. I think we were both zombies at work. My friend and coworker noticed (probably because my eyes were blood shot with circles and I had paint in my hair) and offered to bring us a meal that night. What?! My very own meal train!? That evening, I got a phone call from her saying that she was so so so sorry, but had run out of time. She was “so embarrassed,” but was going to have to pick up Zaxby’s for us. PRAISE THE GREAT LION OF JUDAH! Why would we ever be embarrassed of the deliciousness of a Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich?! So, she brought us Zaxby’s and was a tiny bit embarrassed (and shouldn’t have been). This is why I believe Rule #2 shouldn’t exist (but it does).
Rule #3- Provide the meal in disposable pans. I’m not sure that everyone follows this rule, but I think we should because of the following reasons:
- If this family is really in need of a meal, then they definitely don’t need to do dishes.
- Not putting your meal in a disposable pan puts the burden of returning your dishes on the meal train family.
- Leaving your dishes at someone’s house doesn’t guarantee that you’ll ever see them again. (Not that I know from experience)
Rule #4- Be prepared with a brief list of conversation topics, and then GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE. Once again, let me explain.
The first time I ever was a part of a meal train, I didn’t know the family that well. I knew who they were, that there was a new baby, but that was really about it. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I showed up at their house right on time with my Chicken Spaghetti, salad, and dinner rolls. What happened next, I’d like to forget. I thought that I should be nice and make conversation (I mean, they have been inside for a week and a half with a new baby, surely they’d like company? Especially me from me, right? I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed!), but really I’m not sure that’s what they wanted. Because TWENTY minutes later (I’m an idiot), I’m still standing there babbling about their baby and “adorable” house as the new mom, with circles under her eyes and extra large t-shirt hanging from her exhausted shoulders is cutting holes in me with her laser beam eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, get in. Give them the food. Say the baby is cute. And GET. OUT.
In conclusion, meal trains are great. I love them. If you guys want to start one for JRB and I, we won’t’ stop you.
(Note: we have no allergies and aren’t big on whole tomatoes. All other food options are a go.)